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review 2020-05-25 05:29
Sourdough by Robin Sloan
Sourdough: A Novel - Robin Sloan,Therese Plummer

Having read Sloan's first novel, Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, I knew to expect something quirky, but this one is more bizarre than I thought. It's only around 6 hours on audio but felt longer. I liked the parts about Lois learning to make sourdough bread and how it invigorates her. It's when she joins a strange underground market that the story goes a little off for me. The novel's summary describes a fusion between food and technology, similar to the way Mr. Penumbra combines books and IT, but I didn't expect the way it morphs into a bit of science fiction — or maybe even fantasy? I'm not sure. It's still quite charming though, and some funny parts did make me chuckle.


What helps this book is having Thérèse Plummer as the narrator. Her engaging delivery makes Lois' excitement over bread-making infectious. However, she has a distinct way of pronouncing certain words which makes me wonder if it's a kind of regional US accent — which I'm not very familiar with since I'm not from the US. A lot of her [i] vowels sound more like [e] or [ei]. For instance, she pronounces 'me' closer to 'may', kind of like that Justin Timberlake 'it's gonna be May' meme. I'm just a linguistic nerd who notices these types of things.

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review 2019-11-16 08:27
Sourdough: A Novel - Robin Sloan,Therese Plummer

I read Robin Sloan's previous book, and I liked it a lot so naturally, I was looking forward to reading Sourdough. I didn't know a lot about Sourdough (compared to the books in the previous novel) but have googled a bit since then, but it sounded fascinating.

It was a really nice read. The author clearly has a love for San Fransisco, it was nice to see him so enthusiastic on the topic. I recently saw a documentary on sourdough and apparently San Fransisco is the place to be when it comes to it.

I find myself still thinking about this book from time to time.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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review 2019-04-28 00:00
Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore
Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore - Robin Sloan The most delightful book I've read in a long time. That's partly because so much of it just clicked with my interests - books, fonts, Google and the digitization of the world, the Ruby programming language, and mysteries. It was the humor that made it particularly fun, though. If you like Terry Pratchett or Douglas Adams then you might like this book also, but it's a real story in the real world rather than fantasy.

I see a lot of other reviewers have dinged the book because of flat characterization, lack of tension in the plot, "juvenile" writing and so on. OK, maybe it's not as artistic as Kafka's "The Castle," which I finished just before reading "Mr. Penumbra...," but it was sure a lot more fun :-)
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review 2018-11-13 23:47
Review: Ajax Penumbra 1969
Ajax Penumbra 1969 - Robin Sloan

This was a cute little adventure and some backstory into Ajax Penumbra.  In this we learn of Penumbra's origins, how he came to be in San Francisco, became a member of a secret book society, and came to own the 24-hour books store.  It was an enjoyable short story.

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review 2018-11-10 17:03
Cerebral Mystery
Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore - Robin Sloan

Clay Jannon, newly unemployed, stumbles upon a mysterious bookshop during his frequent wanderings through the streets of San Francisco.  The Help Wanted sign in the window seems like a sign of fate and he feels drawn into the bizarrely shaped store filled primarily with antique one-of-a-kind texts. Although far removed from his previous employment as a tech-savvy designer and marketer for a failed startup, Clay accepts the position of overnight sales clerk. Little does he realize that this spontaneous decision will catapult him into a mystery involving an ancient society whose cryptic workings will change the course of his life. Robin Sloan’s unique novel, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, brings together cutting-edge advances and time-worn tradition as they conflict and combine. Clay discovers that his embrace of new technology and a new-found respect for the methods of the past brings him great reward. Sloan’s novel also explores the idea that good things happen when people of different backgrounds combine their personal strengths and beliefs to solve problems.  Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is a delightful exploration of how curiosity and innovation have acted as universal and timeless inspiration for the advancement of ideas.  A good selection for those who enjoy mysteries that are more cerebral than action-packed.

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