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Bruce’s Book Reviews

A collection of my past and current book reviews.

Review: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this at the recommendation of a mentor of mine. I was surprised at how quickly I devoured this book. I purchased it on my kindle yesterday and finished before dinner today.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore┬áis about a young man, Clay, needing a job and finding himself becoming a bookseller for a mysterious bookstore open 24 hours next to a strip club. It is slowly revealed that it is part of a secret society trying to figure out a cryptic puzzle. It happens slowly and escalates quickly. Set in San Francisco among programmers and techies.

The beginning of the novel had me imaging a not so distant dystopian future about economic collapse, based upon the main characters’ musings. However, it seems to be set in 2010-2014. A few things seemed to have been added just to show the author knew some technical terms, like Hadoop or Ruby programming language. Data visualization montage was also kind of weird, but I could see it working on film.

Most of the characters were superficially intriguing, but didn’t have a lot of depth. It also straddled the audiobook/paperback/ebook benefits and differences with some good quotes. I enjoyed the author comparing listening to an audio book like being absorbed in a cloud of the book like a snug beanie.

This books gives you mystery, intrigue, a tour of google, museum warehouses, secret societies and special effects. The book wraps everything in a nice little bow at the end if you don’t want to read the rest of the series. It is also a quick read and would make for a great summer beach read.

If you think you might like this book, you can buy it from Amazon here.

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Review: Terms of Enlistment

Terms of Enlistment
Terms of Enlistment by Marko Kloos
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Yet another military sci-fi, but actually pretty darn good. Terms of Enlistment takes place in a future where the world has been ravaged by war and we have started colonizing the galaxy. It follows Andrew Grayson, a welfare rat, who gets the lucky draw at his chance to join the military. It follows him as he goes through basic training, joins the Army, fights, gets transferred to the Navy and experiences a first contact.

The whole book, while set in the future is not terrible far off from what we experience now. Especially the Army portion. I would say that everything Andrew experiences isn’t impossible, just improbable. I really liked the basic training section and the Army section quite a bit. The Navy got a little weird quite quick. Things were inputted that made it seem just odd. Like Andrew is the ship system IT manager or equivalent, but vehicles still take 10 minutes to power on. The Navy portion just seemed less thought out than the other sections.

Kloos is definately a Soldier or former Soldier. The reason I say that it is some descriptions were too spot on not to have come from a veteran. “This is the military, and nobody gives shit about what we want. We take what we’re served, and we ask for seconds, and that’s the way it goes.” “Half the things we do in th emiltiary are tedious, boring or dangerous, but at least we’re alive enough to feel boredom or fear.”

I enjoyed the book, but not sure if I want to continue reading the series. I give it a strong 4 stars.

If you think you might like this book, purchase it at Amazon here.

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