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From the other five shortlisted books, I browsed four enough to know I have not the least interest in wasting my time further with them - actually one of these, Snowdrops by AD Miller seemed to me actually so bad, or if you want such a conventional thriller, that I even flipped through the pages to the end to understand how in the world did such mediocre at best novel got on the shortlist and I still did not get it. Though noting that the chairman of the jury was a former UK Intelligence bigwig, she may have wanted to remember the "good old days" of the Cold War when Russia mattered so the choice of this pale imitation of the best Cold War thrillers set in today's corrupt but otherwise unremarkable Russia.
The only other shortlisted novel that I plan to fully read sometime - Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch - which many considered the best of the bunch - starts in a very boring way and while I heard it gets much better towards the middle, I never could get there on several tries so far, when other more interesting books beckoned. But I will get there and see if indeed I will read it or not.
Looking at this and other lists of books I realized how lucky I have been to live in places with great library systems and I am well aware that many other people are not so lucky. So when Bradley Wirtz, the founder of the new philanthropic organization, Gone Reading International, sent FBC an email about it, I took a look and decided it is a good idea to spread the news.
"In Need of Gifts for Readers?
GoneReading makes unique gifts for readers and book lovers. Whether you need gifts for the readers in your life, or a bookish treat for yourself, you’ll love what GoneReading has to offer!
Gone Reading International, founded in 2011, has pledged 100% of company profits in perpetuity to fund reading libraries and other literacy projects in the developing world. Read more about our philanthropic mission here."
And to get back a little to sff-nal stuff, I want to note that a while ago I got my first advanced reading copy of a 2012 novel and it turned out to be In the Lion's Mouth by Michael Flynn the third installment in his "Celtic based Space Opera". I utterly loved the series' debut, The January Dancer (FBC Rv), but was a little mixed on the followup Up Jim River (FBC Rv) in which the combination of archaic language and strange Vancian places did not quite mesh.
Hoping that In the Lion's Mouth will recreate the sense of wonder of The January Dancer without clogging the storyline with unnecessary lingo, look for a review here sometime in late December, early January.