So I Put Down the Smartphone

Smart phones, while useful tools, can be a curse as well. I’m finding that countless hours are wasted while I try to win my 523rd game of Sudoku. It’s laziness really, playing all these games. I’m allowing my mind turn to mush instead of stretching it, exercising the talents and abilities I’ve been given.

Not to mention all those games are cutting into my reading time.

Vowing to correct the problem, I tore myself away from the games. I put down my smartphone, and immersed myself in a few good books.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

A book set in one of my favorite places has got to be good, right? One reviewer called it an utter delight. The hero, Clay, has lost his job and finds work in a bookstore, which turns out to be much more than your average bookstore.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore didn’t disappoint. What starts out simply enough turns into a complex mystery. Clay wonders just the bookstore stay open when the regular customers don’t buy anything. The more he probes, the more questions spring up.

Robin Sloane’s novel contrasts the old world of paper books with the fast pace of digitized content. The characters all fairly leap from the pages. If I met them in a library or a coffee shop, I’d be sure to recognize them. More than that, the story is clever, the mystery intriguing, and the ending came way too soon.

The Robber Bride

The story begins innocently enough. Three women, friends for decades since meeting in college, meet for lunch. Their peaceful time is disturbed by the entrance of Zenia, another college friend who ruined all their lives and whose funeral they attended, not without relief, five years earlier.

The author, Margaret Atwood, delves deep into the past lives of the three women, showing the destruction Zenia wrought on all of them, and how they have learn to overcome.

While painful to read at times, and I found most of the characters annoying, The Robber Bride was intriguing in a dark sort of way, like watching a train wreck.

A Star Curiously Singing

Taking a twist to the dystopian genre, in A Star Curiously Singing, the entire world is under sharia law, many years into the future. Although society is technologically advanced, life is bleak for those not at the top of the caste system.

The hero, Sandfly, is a debugger, someone implanted with the chip that allows him to continuously interact with the nanotechnology of the day. He’s basically the property of his owner, and is loaned out to find out what happened to the servbot that was assigned to a mission to a distant star.

I won’t spoil the story. Read it. It’s one of the finer examples of Christian science fiction I’ve read in a long time.

Headwinds: A Novel of Alitania

This novel was billed as the prequel to another I hadn’t read. Which may explain why I had a hard time getting into the story: I had no connection with the characters.

But I stuck it out, and am glad. AE Maxwell’s novel ended up being more entertaining than I’d expected.

Caria, a disinherited Elven royal, has struggled her whole life, and especially after her father’s sudden death. She leaves her homeland to help an acquaintance on what seems like a simple rescue mission.

Instead, she ends up stranded on an island populated with her people’s enemies. She teams up with Sennin, a half-Elf outcast and the two make an uneasy alliance in an effort to survive. In the process, they grapple with betrayal, hope and a desire for something better.

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