[In this feature, we highlight a handful of the best book reviews appearing over the weekend in major newspapers. Follow it here.]
The Twenty-Year Death, by Ariel S. Winter. Reviewed by David Ulin (Los Angeles Times).
I’ve had a review copy of this book sitting on my desk and staring at me for a week. At nearly 700 pages, this book–”both pastiche and homage and very much a testament to [the] style” of noir authors Georges Simenon, Raymond Chandler, and Jim Thompson–is ambitious in a number of ways. Ulin, a reviewer almost always worth reading, is positively impressed, so now I have no more reason to put it off any longer. Look for my own review in the next few weeks.
Find it on Goodreads
How to Sharpen Pencils, by David Rees. Reviewed by Bruce McCall (New York Times).
The premise here is weird. It’s a tech manual about pencils. Satire like this can often run stale after the initial punch line, but I tend to enjoy most things McCall writes, and this book seems to have tickled his fancy, so I’m inclined to think it’s worth a shot. McCall’s is a short, astute review; see what you think.
Find it on Goodreads.
Between the Lines, by Jodi Picoult. Reviewed by Susan Carpenter (Chicago Tribune).
I’ve never read Picoult, but I’m pretty sure I don’t like her books. This does, however, sound like an interesting enough book. It’s about the lives of fairly tale characters off-page and their attempts to escape to the real world. I think Carpenter, who I’ve noticed in the past gets a little too gushy to feel objective, overdoes it a bit by calling it an “exceedingly clever concept”–sounds a lot like Last Action Hero, or the comic book Fables, or the new movie Wreck-It Ralph. It’s not an original concept, in any case. Still, if executed right it could make for a decent YA book, so give it a peek if YA romance is your thing.
Find it on Goodreads.
Quickly: I think it’s funny that right after Colson Whitehead’s essay “How to Write” in this week’s Sunday NYT, they ran the essay “How to Write Great” by Roger Rosenblatt. So I guess they expect most of us to go ahead and skip Whitehead’s mediocre advice (“Rule No. 5: Keep a dream diary.” Really?).
Bonus Book Trailer: C4 Lit Mag author Margaret Finnegan has a novel out, check out the trailer below.