Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

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Every once  in a while I stumble upon one of those books that I am convinced is based on a true story (Frankenstein, Harry Potter, obviously) and Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore.

The voice of the narrator was my favorite part. Clay has a running internal monologue that is beyond hilarious and had me laughing out loud. It’s not all laughs (though mostly it is) there are poignant and touching moments as well.

Recently laid off, Clay finds himself minding the desk at a 24-hour bookstore during the late shift. There are rarely any real customers, only a smattering of eclectic “members” who never really buy anything but borrow large, coded tombs. When Clay breaks one of the few rules (no snooping in the books) he finds himself searching for more than knowledge. He’s searching for immortality.

Anyone who has worked retail (particularly in a bookstore) would identify with Clay. Not to mention anyone floating in the nebulous place between college and adult life. And anyone who followed an epic fantasy hoping it was true (Harry Potter), and wanted to solve a great big mystery in the process.

And what can I say about the mystery? It was so…well done. It wasn’t what I expected but it was just so perfect that I loved it anyway. Certainly makes you wonder what other mysteries are hiding in your favorite novels.

The House of Hades by Rick Riordan

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If you haven’t read these yet (mom) chances are you’ve already decided you have no interest in them and therefore I must tell you YOU ARE MISSING OUT.

I don’t even want to say anything about the novel because A) There’s so much and B) so many spoilers. So many. This was everything I wanted it to be.

But I will say, and I’m sure Riordan is expecting it, Nico! Nico Nico Nico!

I’m so happy with this choice, beyond happy. Yay, Nico! Such a great decision. Cannot applaud enough, honestly.

The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde

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This novel was such a gem! I remember when it came out in hard cover and I really should have picked it up then because I was missing out on something really special and unique.

The Last Dragonslayer is set in kind-of England where magic is real but on it’s way out. For reasons unknown (possibly tied to dragons, which exist) magic is beginning to dwindle which puts protagonist Jennifer Strange in quite the predicament, her job is to manage magicians.

Not birthday magicians, though sometimes they take those piddly jobs just to pay the bills, real magicians who do practical magic like rewiring houses without tearing down walls and work with magic carpet riders who deliver organs. Totally normal.

And that’s what I love so much about this novel, it treats magic as totally normal. Nothing is dumbed down, all the “science” used (for example, magic doesn’t work very well when it’s damp) is completely reasonable.

My favorite thing is that Jennifer is, what I’ve been taking to calling, a Courtney Crumrin character. She doesn’t throw a fit when something is asked of her and explain that she couldn’t possibly or they’ve got the wrong girl, she steps up to bat and takes a swing.

I’m also 99% sure the Quarkbeast is based on my sister’s dog, Mia.