Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Mini Reviews to End the Year!

Hello out there!  Greetings from the exotic land of Erie, Pennsylvania.  For a while, I was a bit leery that with all sorts of vacation activities, I wasn't going to be able to finish my Popsugar Reading Challenge, but I managed to squeak on through with the last three titles.  None of them struck me strongly enough to write a lot about, so in the interest of time and space I thought I'd do three mini-reviews instead of full-length ones for those final reads.  Let's go!

No ExitFor a play, I decided to forgo Shakespeare, which had been my original plan, and read No Exit instead.  No Exit is a play that a lot of people have heard of, but I'm not sure how many people know that they've heard of it; it's the origin of the line "Hell is other people."  The plot follows three people who get put together in a single room in Hell, so that they can annoy each other for all eternity.  There is, of course, a love triangle involved.  I found all of the people extremely annoying, just as bothersome to myself as to each other, and I couldn't wait to be parted with them...which doesn't bode very well for a play.  But then, plays are a weird thing, because they're not meant to be read.  They're meant to be watched and performed.  I've never seen No Exit performed, and it's quite likely that I'd have a different reaction to it if I did.  Like some of the other categories in the Popsugar Reading Challenge, this one seems weird to me, because you can't really get the full feel of a play by just reading it.  Based on my reading, though, I'm going to have to go with a 2-star rating.

Affairs of Honor: National Politics in the New RepublicMy pick for "A book you should have read in school but didn't" was pretty much the only book that I could remember not reading for a class, Affairs of Honor.  This is a book about the Founding Fathers' generation politicking and how politics was tied up with personal honor, all of it building up to the election of 1800.  While the concept is interesting, and it did reveal a few things I didn't know about American history, I wasn't thrilled with it overall and can remember why I started but decided not to finish it for my class.  The thing is, it's boring.  This is not a popular history book.  It's decidedly academic, which means that it beats you over the head with its message--that honor played into politics--until you're pretty much ready to scream that yes, you get it, and you're ready to move on.  The moving on, however, never happens.  Blargh.  2 stars, because I learned a few things, but I was bored out of my mind while I did it.

The Carpet PeopleFinally, I had to fulfill the category of "A popular author's first book," for which I selected Terry Pratchett's The Carpet People.  Upon actually opening the book, I found a foreword that said that this version of The Carpet People isn't actually the original version, which kind of threw a wrench in my plans, but it was too late to select another title, so I just kept going.  The thing is, The Carpet People was Pratchett's first novel, but when he became famous, he decided to re-publish it with some changes that he made as a more developed writer.  It's my firm opinion that authors shouldn't get to re-tinker with books that have been previously published, because once it's out there, it's out there, but I guess when you're Terry Pratchett you're so beloved (and so missed; I picked this one because Pratchett had just passed away when I began this challenge) that you can do pretty much whatever the heck you want.  That said, The Carpet People was a cute fantasy story set in your very own living room carpet, wherein lives its own civilization of minute size.  The Munrungs, part of the Dumii empire, find their home destroyed by Fray (the vacuum?) and are then attacked by fierce creatures called mouls.  Driven from their home, they end up leading the charge to reclaim the empire from the mouls.  It's not a terribly complex story, but it's a very cute one and shows off the creativity that later blossomed into Pratchett's vibrant Discworld series.  3.5 stars.

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