Continuing toward my New Year's goal of finishing six books this year, I can check off another one. This one is the most unusual book that I've read in a long time. The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell is set in the future and built around a group of scientists lead by Jesuit priests (also experts in various fields) who make a voyage to a newly discovered inhabited planet. If that sounds at all intriguing to you, let me warn that this is a rather dark book. The future setting is merely the backdrop for the real conflict which occurs in the life of the main character and is emotionally and spiritually based. After you are dragged through the muck and mire of his ordeal, there seems to be a promising conclusion - at least I choose to read it as a positive ending. It ended rather quickly but it felt like the sunshine after a particularly bad storm or the relief after getting through a bad circumstance in life.
This is definitely not a "light" read and I'm not sure I would recommend it unless you are prepared for the dark parts of the writing. But it does somehow draw you in and I found myself wanting to return to it each day. I was glad that I read this one on my iPad because I made good use of the option to define words that I wasn't familiar with. The extensive vocabulary along with the made up "alien" words and sprinkling of Latin and French phrases made it somewhat difficult at times. There is a sequel to this book and I may consider reading it, although I won't make it my very next book.
So, four books in eight months is not exactly going to keep book publishers in business, but it's a start.