Review: The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier

a.k.a. Book 1 of the 20 Books of Summer 2015 reading challenge. And we’re off to a less than excellent start… Kevin Brockmeier’s The Brief History of the Dead is not the introspective, suspenseful powerhouse it sounds from the back cover:

The City is inhabited by those who have departed Earth but are still remembered by the living. They will reside in this city until completely forgotten. But the City is shrinking, and the residents clearing out. Some of the holdouts, like Luka Sims, who produces the City’s only newspaper, are wondering what exactly is going on. Others, like Coleman Kinzler, believe it is the beginning of the end. Meanwhile, Laura Byrd is trapped in an Antarctic research station, her supplies are running low, her radio finds only static, and the power is failing. With little choice, Laura sets out across the ice to look for help, but time is running out.

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20 Books of Summer 2015: Sign Up

I saw Cathy746books’s 20 Books of Summer reading challenge on FictionFan’s site. Happily, she provided a lovely graphic to share for the challenge, because I lack the tech skills to create one myself. I know, I know… the thought of my posting regularly over the summer is laughable as I just took a two month break from this page, but time to read/post comes more easily in the summer. The challenge officially runs from June 1 thru September 4. The last couple weeks will be sticky, but it’s technically possible. I’d originally planned to spend a fair chunk of the summer with Infinite Jest, but I wouldn’t have time for 19 books after. Rumor has it that IJ‘s density is more serious than it’s length. I don’t usually fret book length, but it was the first thing I checked when all 20 books were in a pile. read more

Review: Bird Box by Josh Malerman

Bird Box, Josh Malerman’s first book, is an odd one. There are teensy grammar issues, inconsistencies, and an annoying coincidence at the climax, BUT I forgive everything. From the beginning, this book was glued to my fingers. I wanted to skim to figure out the ending sooner, but so enjoyed the creepy ride that I forced myself to stay the course. This self-control was worth it. The premise of Bird Box is simple: there is a worldwide epidemic that when people see something (the “thing” remains unknown) they go instantly, violently mad. In their frenzied state, they kill themselves and sometimes others too. Survivors get through by boarding up their houses, locking doors, and only going outside while blindfolded. Years into this new reality, Malorie begins a blindfolded journey with two children to find a safe place. read more

Review: The Keep by Jennifer Egan

I was poking around Amazon and was surprised to see Jennifer Egan’s The Keep ranked 3.3 of 5. It made me reconsider my high opinion of this book (4.5 at least!), but I’ve decided to stick by it. I first read The Keep a few years ago. While I recommended it then, I didn’t love it as much as when I read it a second (and third) time this year. The story is split with different narrators; the cleverer aspects of the set-up are less apparent on a first reading and the reader is left with a patchwork story that feels more gimmicky than compelling. (So, if you don’t like it: read it again.) read more

Review: The Best of Roald Dahl

I make passing references to my Top Five (or Ten) List, but these lists don’t exist. Books float in and out of these designations and if I added up my Top Ten I’d have twenty books. So listen up because I’m going to be uncharacteristically definitive: This collection, The Best of Roald Dahl, is the best collection of short fiction (by a single author). Disagree? Send suggestions! I take requests (see Twilight, see also Gone Girl). Now, this collection isn’t for everyone—it’s definitely not for kids and shouldn’t be confused with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (which is delightfully messed up). read more