Today we have a collection of 9 books that I didn’t get around to reviewing  at the time that I read them because I was too busy and/or I didn’t have more than a couple sentences to say about them. Here you go (in the order in which I read them):

Allan QuatermainTitle: Allan Quatermain
Author: H. Rider Haggard
Genre: Classic Pulp Adventure
Pages: 204
Rating: 2.5 of 5

I think that the “Great White Hunters and noble savage companion discover a lost world” kind of story worked better in bygone days. It’s an okay mindless adventure story if you can put up with the condescending superiority and dark-skinned-people-are-canon-fodder attitude of the day.

Arson Plus and Other Stories: Collected Case Files of the Continental Op: The Early Years, Volume 1Titles: Arson Plus & Other Stories / It & Other stories
Author: Dashiell Hammett
Genre: Hardboiled Detective/Noir
Pages: 76/77
Rating: 4 of 5

These two books are the first in a series of 8 ebooks that include all of Hammett’s Continental Op short stories presented in chronological order.  With only 3 stories apiece and the exact same 15-page introduction in each book and $6-7 each, I think there’s a bit of price gouging going on here…thankfully I got the whole set on sale. In these early books the Op’s brutal, stubborn, mouthy character is not yet fully developed, but Hammett is still the master of the genre.

Three Men in a BoatTitle: Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog)
Author: Jerome K. Jerome
Genre: Classic Humor
Pages: 195
Rating: 4.5 of 5

This tale of three Victorian slackers taking a boating holiday on the Thames is a must-read for fans of dry British humor. Some of the prose gets a bit “purple,” and I’m not sure if it is intended seriously or as a send-up of the prevailing style (maybe a bit of both). Either way, it’s funny.

PoemsTitle: Poems
Author: C. S. Lewis
Genre: Poetry (duh)
Pages: 240
Rating: 3

I’m not much for reading poetry other than narrative poetry, but C. S. Lewis is my favorite author so I decided to give this a shot. Though I enjoyed some of them for their theological content, non-narrative poetry still isn’t my thing (and Lewis is in full make-obscure-literary-references mode in many of them).

I Have No Mouth and I Must ScreamTitle: I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream
Author: Harlan Ellison
Genre: Sci-Fi / Horror
Pages: 162
Rating: 2.5 of 5

I read this short story collection around Halloween for something creepy (how could it not be with that title?). There were some disturbing moments in some of the stories, but mostly there was a sense of continuous seething rage, sex obsession, and (in the author’s comments between stories) out of control ego. Not my cup of tea, but if you want stories designed to create a negative emotional impact without offering much content this is for you.

Conscience of a Conservative: A Rejection of Destructive Politics and a Return to PrincipleTitle: Conscience of a Conservative:
A Rejection of Destructive Politics and a Return to Principle
Author: Jeff Flake
Genre: Politics
Pages: 150
Rating: 2.5 of 5

As someone who is relatively conservative in my political views but frustrated and appalled at the blustering bully that is our president and the style of politics he has brought to the Republican party, I was pretty impressed with a lot of what Jeff Flake said in his retirement speech…impressed enough that I decided to read his book even though I generally avoid reading politics. I shouldn’t have bothered: everything worth hearing from him was said in his speech. This is basically the same thing with a lot of patting himself on the back and worshiping Barry Goldwater thrown in for good measure. Blech…I hate politics.

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and RedemptionTitle: Unbroken
Author: Laura Hillenbrand
Genre: Biography
Pages: 416
Rating: 4 of 5

This is a truly amazing “triumph of the human spirit through grit and God” POW survival story. It is well worth reading, but at a certain point the continuous descriptions of privation and brutality make for a grueling/numbing experience (it is nearly unimaginable that this man survived it!).

The Spanish Civil WarTitle: The Spanish Civil War
Author: Hugh Thomas
Genre: History
Pages: 655
Rating: 3.5 of 5

Having read this, I now have a basic overview of the Spanish Civil War. It is an older book (Franco is still in power at the time of writing), which gives the author the advantage of having interviewed many of the participants but the disadvantage of propaganda and recriminations still flying thick and fast. There seems to be a lot of doubt regarding exact casualty figures and prevalence/severity of atrocities on each side. Whether some of this has been cleared up by time, I don’t know…it is however a helpful overview.

And there you have it…I’m now caught up on reviews for the year!

3 thoughts on “A Bunch of Mini-Reviews

    1. Thanks! There’s a great sci-fi book that frequently references “Three Men in a Boat” called “To Say Nothing of the Dog” that is also well worth reading. It’s a humorous (but not farcical) time-travel story by Connie Willis that features an college researcher from 2050 having to spend time in Victorian England for various frustrating reasons. It’s set in the same world as “The Doomsday Book,” but is as lighthearted as that book is grim.

      Liked by 1 person

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