Quick Book Reviews

Howdy all!

So this thing happened where I was on writing retreat and then I suddenly had to drive to New York and then it was Christmas.  I’m gonna try to catch you up on what I’ve been doing (hint: not writing! Bad aspiring author!) starting with the books I’ve read.  I also posted these reviews to my Goodreads profile, so sorry to those of you who are seeing them twice!

Crogan’s Vengeance

by Chris Schweizer

I read this book quite a while ago, but never added it to Goodreads, so I did a quick review from memory when I reviewed the second book in the series.

The only thing I liked more than Crogan’s Vengence is the concept of the series: a man with a very extensive family tree telling the stories of his adventurous family to his kids. There’s a definite “moral” or “lesson” in this book, and I’d assume it follows in the later volumes of the series (note from the future: it does), but it was handled well without being too heavy-handed.

Crogan’s Vengence specifically concerns one of the earliest members of the Crogan family, the pirate Catfoot Crogan, who never wanted to be a pirate in the first place, as he sails the Spanish Main. I would have aimed this series at middle grade due to the ages of the modern-day Crogan kids, but looking at a couple reviews to refresh my memory it seems the recommendations skew a bit older. Definitely recommended!

Crogan’s March

by Chris Schweizer

I loved this volume of the Crogan Adventures! While Crogan’s Vengeance didn’t teach me much, since I have a pretty good working knowledge of pirates and no memory about the moral of the story, Crogan’s March, focusing on a member of the French Foreign Legion brought a new location into my head along with a thoughtful discussion about our perceptions about other people and how our actions affect them. Schweizer absolutely upped the ante in this book and I cannot wait for the next volume (American Revolution)!

The Civil War: A Narrative Volume 1, Fort Sumpter to Perryville

by Shelby Foote

I’d previously stayed away from this series because of a bias in the “lost cause” direction. That is definitely present, but it’s not as bad as I would have thought and in a series focused on the tides of battle an early volume would necessarily have to paint the South in a better light, because of the successes during that period. I’m reserving judgment on the question as a whole until I’ve read further volumes.

Apart from the bias issue, I generally enjoyed the book. The narrative format worked very well and I enjoyed all the little vignettes, especially those about Grant and Sherman.

I was listening to the audio edition and it had all the rumored lack of audio quality. However, the auio weirdness didn’t really effect my enjoyment of the book.

A quick break to note that I got a Kindle for Christmas! So I read these last two books on my new Kindle! Woohoo!

Stupid American History

by I don’t care enough to check

Yes, very stupid. Potentially or blatantly incorrect in several places, but it was free and I had a new Kindle to play with.

This was free for Kindle when I bought it, but it’s not free anymore and I do not recommend it.


How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe

by Charles Yu

I read this book because it was the pick for Sword and Laser, I’m excited that I finally got to participate in real-ish time!

The best thing about this book was reading a Science Fiction novel on my new Kindle. That is to say that this book with it’s whole “here is the minutiae of my life in a science fiction universe, focusing on a history of my dysfunctional family” thing is not my cup of tea. Granted, I haven’t read a “not my cup of tea” book in a while, so the experience was novel. However, I never cared at all about the protagonist or his family and I spent the bulk of the book wishing something would happen, because on the rare occasions that something did happen I actually enjoyed the book. The other enjoyable part of this book was all of the characters that didn’t actually exist, because they were fantastic.

While I wouldn’t recommend How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, I also wouldn’t tell anyone to stay away.


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