I recently noticed something about the list of books I’ve read so far this year. There is only one two-star read on the list, as opposed to several last year. This year, there are a lot of 4- and 5-star reads. I’ve figured out what’s different. I’m no longer afraid to stop reading a book that I’m not enjoying – even one I was given to review.
I know I should feel guilty about this, but I just don’t. Yes, there are a few books I don’t finish that, when I was pitched by a publicist, I had replied, “Sure, send me a copy!” To be fair, I only agreed because I thought I had a reasonable chance of enjoying the book. I don’t give up before reaching at least page 50, and in some instances, page 100. Review copies that I don’t finish are also a very small percentage, so it’s not like I make a habit of it. And when I look at my sagging bookshelves and all the other books calling out to me to be read, I can’t make myself keep reading a book that isn’t my cup of tea. Life’s too short!
But, I do want to say that, when it comes to these books, it’s probably my problem, and not the books, because there are great reviews of each of these titles all over the web. In case one of these books is the one that will have you raving, I want to give at least a cover shot and blurb for your consideration.
Heresy by S.J. Parris: Masterfully blending true events with fiction, this blockbuster historical thriller delivers a page-turning murder mystery set on the sixteenth-century Oxford University campus. Giordano Bruno was a monk, poet, scientist, and magician on the run from the Roman Inquisition on charges of heresy for his belief that the Earth orbits the sun and that the universe is infinite. This alone could have got him burned at the stake, but he was also a student of occult philosophies and magic. In S. J. Parris’s gripping novel, Bruno’s pursuit of this rare knowledge brings him to London, where he is unexpectedly recruited by Queen Elizabeth I and is sent undercover to Oxford University on the pretext of a royal visitation. Officially Bruno is to take part in a debate on the Copernican theory of the universe; unofficially, he is to find out whatever he can about a Catholic plot to overthrow the queen. His mission is dramatically thrown off course by a series of grisly murders and a spirited and beautiful young woman. As Bruno begins to discover a pattern in these killings, he realizes that no one at Oxford is who he seems to be. Bruno must attempt to outwit a killer who appears obsessed with the boundary between truth and heresy. Like The Dante Club and The Alienist, this clever, sophisticated, exceptionally enjoyable novel is written with the unstoppable narrative propulsion and stylistic flair of the very best historical thrillers.
The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi: What Happens when bio-terrorism becomes a tool for corporate profits? And what happens when said bio-terrorism forces humanity to the cusp of post-human evolution? In The Windup Girl, award-winning author Paolo Bacigalupi returns to the world of “The Calorie Man”( Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award-winner, Hugo Award nominee, 2006) and “Yellow Card Man” (Hugo Award nominee, 2007) in order to address these questions.
Lord of the Rams: The Greatest Story Never Told by Ronan Smith: Finally, the greatest story never told gets told. Join one man for the adventure of his life and, in doing so, experience growing up in rural 1980s Ireland. Meet this man’s eccentric group of friends, follow his escapades throughout Ireland and beyond, and gain an invaluable insight into the life of a lord… Lord of the Rams. If you’ve had enough of ‘famous footballer’ or ‘ex-Big Brother’ biographies, then prepare yourself for something quite unlike anything you’ve ever read before. Lord of the Rams breathes new life into the biography genre via witty writing, acute observations and stories that will have you laughing out loud, wincing in your armchair and scratching your head in awe and disbelief. Aimed primarily at the somewhat neglected young male market, Lord of the Rams gives an insightful account of growing up in rural Ireland over a 25-year period, which many peopleƒregardless of nationality-will be able to identify with. Lord of the Rams: proof positive that a good read comes in many guises.
A Week in December by Sebastian Faulks: Structured like a thriller, A Week in December takes place over the course of a single week at the end of 2008. Set in London, it brings together an intriguing cast of characters whose lives apparently run on parallel lines but — as it gradually becomes clear — are intricately related. The central anti-hero, John Veals, is a shadily successful and boundlessly ambitious Dickensian character who is trading billions. The tentacles of Veals’ influence encompass newspaper columnists, MPs, businessmen, footballers, a female tube driver, a Scottish convert to Islam, a disaffected teenager, and a care worker, whose different perspectives build up a tale of love, family and money as the story builds to its powerful climax.
With the exception of The Windup Girl, which I borrowed from a friend, the above books were all ARC copies sent for review. If any of them look like something you would like to read, please leave a comment and I’ll be happy to send it to you – first one requesting each book will get it.
So, what books have you recently not finished?