Review: Reincarnation Blues

Reincarnation Blues
Reincarnation Blues by Michael Poore
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley.
Resurrection Blues blew my socks off. It blew them off, chewed them up, spat them out, and then stomped on them, kicked them around the house (which is a difficult thing to do, kicking socks), until my socks were laid to rest in the dirty clothes hamper in the back kitchen.
This was surprisingly aggressive for a novel to do, but this was a surprising novel. I was expecting a fun, lighthearted romp, but I got something that was fun, lighthearted and just so, so, so jealousy-inducingly good. It’s a love story, a parable, a shaggy dog story. I thought Milo and his ten thousand lives were a brilliant story, his love affair with Suzie touching and incandescent. Michael Poore dances along a tightrope of humor, weighty topics, and absurdity like the very best of Christopher Moore’s A-game, Tom Robbins, David Mitchell, or Kurt Vonnegut. He takes elements of the spiritual, science fiction, and good, old down and dirty humanity and smashes them all together in a brilliant book. I could have spent another couple lifetimes reading about Milo and his quest for Perfection.

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Review: The Readymade Thief

The Readymade Thief
The Readymade Thief by Augustus Rose
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received an advance reader copy of this book through Penguin’s First to Read program.
I really, really enjoyed this book. I thought the broken bird main character, Lee, was well realized, even if, at a certain point, you had to wonder how much bad luck could dog one person.
Augustus Rose did an excellent job balancing the internal thoughts and feelings of the main character with plenty of action. The secondary characters were well painted and none of them felt overly cardboard, even the folks who were known, for the most part, only by their mysterious titles (the Undertaker, the Busboy, the Priest — like some kind of professional wrestling circuit inspired by Marchel Duchamp (more on that in a sec)). The breakneck pace, the high stakes, and shadowy conspiracy all played well together without veering into being overbearing. I found this book was far, far better than a few of the comps it had been pitched as (Ready Player One, which was really good in its own right, and Mr Penumbra’s, which wasn’t). I’m not super familiar with Marcel Duchamp, the artist at the heart of this book’s web, and while I found myself occasionally wanting to look certain pieces mentioned up to see if they were actual creations of his, I didn’t ever feel like I was missing out on anything by not having any insider knowledge. All along it was a compelling read I kept coming back to and snuck time, whenever I could, to find out what happened next.

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Review: The Brief History of the Dead

The Brief History of the Dead
The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This started with such promise: I loved the premise and the first few chapters. The episodes in the real world, where the Antarctic researcher lives on in a nearly empty world, didn’t work as well for me, I found the purgatory where the dead remain until the last living person who remembers them dies far more fascinating. And, as the book wore on and Laura, the living scientist, kept marching on I just lost interest in her march towards some other outpost on the bottom of the world, and the purgatory scenes just felt more like a waiting room for the next scene with Laura.

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Review: This Book Is From The Future: A Journey Through Portals, Relativity, Worm Holes, and Other Adventures in Time Travel

This Book Is From The Future: A Journey Through Portals, Relativity, Worm Holes, and Other Adventures in Time Travel
This Book Is From The Future: A Journey Through Portals, Relativity, Worm Holes, and Other Adventures in Time Travel by Marie D. Jones
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

For a book about time travel, it’s got a great subject, but the book just never really gets going. It’s sort of a list of movies and books that mention time travel, the occasional anecdote about purported time travel, an odd comment here and there from other writers and scientists about time travel and its possibilities, but none of the pieces seem to come together in a coherent whole.
If you want to learn more about time travel I would suggest sticking with Michio Kaku books, Brian Greene lectures, or Sean Carrol’s excellent course with The Great Courses, Mysteries of Modern Physics: Time.

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Review: The Sudden Appearance of Hope

The Sudden Appearance of Hope
The Sudden Appearance of Hope by Claire North
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I love the things Claire North comes up with. Time travel via being re-born again and again, a person who can shift from person to person by skin contact like a soul hermit crab, a person with an instantly forgettable face.
For me, she’s one of those authors who I hunt for new books when I browse a book shop (on the off-chance a newly published Claire North book was published and not announced anywhere on the internet).
I enjoyed this one, but not nearly as much as Harry August or Touch, and I think it’s because Ms. North did almost too good a job with her character. Hope is almost instantly forgotten by the people she meets, once she passes outside their conscious perception. As a result, you have a character who has an incredibly difficult time making meaningful personal connections, but is excellent at first impressions, because she gets so many attempts at them. Because of this trait, throughout much of the book, you, too, dredge up the same old introductions, that sense of disconnection each time you meet someone. The story is told at arm’s length because this is how the world holds Hope. I think it’s brilliantly executed, from a technical point of view, but, as a result, I felt less invested in the story and even a little frustrated with it, at times, unlike her other novels, which engaged and immersed you in her characters lives. But you can’t be disappointed, in a way, because this is exactly how Hope Arden must feel, being so forgettable.
So while I was impressed with the technical devotion to the concept of the novel, it didn’t quite click for me the way Ms. North’s stories usually do. But I’m still on the lookout for her next one (“The End of the Day”, out now) when I go browsing bookshops.

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A wombat, the sink, and how it got there