Rob's Blog

March 26th, 2015 – ‘Eight Hours to Die’ by William W. Johnstone

by on Mar.26, 2015, under Books

Eight Hours to Die (Sixkiller: U.S. Marshal, #3)Eight Hours to Die by William W. Johnstone

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It is amazing how the Johnstone Clan of writers can draw a reader into a tale. They did it again here with this offering from the Johnstone Herd of books.

The tale is a fun ride of a town in trouble and Sixkiller rides in to try and save the day. After reading so many Johnstone books in the past two years, the tales do start to sound familiar when a weaker writer gets hold of it. That is the case here. As much fun as the story is and the pages turn faster and faster as excitement builds, this Johnstone tale is lacking.

As the book proceeds the story resolves itself a bit too easily. There’s little in the way of twists and turns to help the story have more meat to it’s bone. There is a significant twist in the story that comes at a very odd part of the book.

The characters make it all worthwhile. Most are well done. Though, many are given little background and some are never given names.

The two biggest clunkers of the product is a goofy cover and an unrelated book title.

Still the book is worth reading for the fun of it all.

Bottom line: i recommend the book. 5 of 10 points.

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MArch 24th, 2015 – Book: ‘The Saint in Miami’ by Leslie Charteris

by on Mar.24, 2015, under About Us

The Saint in MiamiThe Saint in Miami by Leslie Charteris

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is an outstanding book for many reasons.

It’s the first Charteris book I’ve read and I must seek more. The writing is very good.The characters are well defined. The plotting also intricately planned. Especially considering today there is the perspective of the past and how much Charteris was cobbling together of the larger World War to come.

Reading this book had me banging my head into the wall as to why authors just won’t write like this today???? Same thoughts while reading Slaughter or even Brett Halliday. Is it so hard to write with intelligence?

The Florida angle: This, for me, is the best part! Charteris went far, far, far beyond my expectations depicting Florida! Clearly he traveled the state and did careful research.

His weakest description is around Miami. The beach area and the coast are written loosely. Though, a commentary of Miami Beach tourists is particularly well done. Since the sketchy description is early on, I figured the Florida setting to get worse. It doesn’t. His driving narrative reflects well the roadways around Dade County in 1940.

He kicks it all up a notch with his writing of areas in the Everglades. A floating gambling pub and surroundings are well depicted. It’s their trip through the Gig Cypress (Which was yet to come and referred to as the Everglades) that Charteris really nails down the writing of sawgrass, swamp trudging, a rain storm, felled trees in the swamp and so much more.

So much of Charteris description of Florida is better than what celebrated Florida authors do today.

A couple of oddities in writing of Florida:
*) The sheriff is a main character throughout. But the more prominant law in the area, the Miami and Miami Beach police are barely mentioned. Seems that is for expediting the story.
*) A character is coming from “Olustee”, which is written as somewhat nearby. Olustee sems to stand in for Raiford.
*) Though heat and sweat are occasionally mentioned, the reality of a visitor from the UK in many situations exposed to heavy heat is not well covered.

The best part of the book is the accurate Florida setting.

Bottom line: I recommend this book. 9 of 10.

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March 23rd, 2015 – My Swampy’s Florida: Dunnellon coming Saturday!

by on Mar.23, 2015, under Cartooning, Swampy's Florida


#15 in the series of Swampy’s Florida premieres this Saturday at the Florida SpringsFestival at Silver Springs State Park. Swampy …and me…will be there with all of the books to sign and doodle in. Stop by and let’s talk about traveling our great state of Florida to discover more of it’s incredible history, heritage and culture!

I’ll also be videoing more ‘Man in the Swamp’ reports there! Step in for a quickie interview!

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March 12th, 2015 – Book: ‘On Target’ by Mark Greaney

by on Mar.12, 2015, under Books

On Target (Court Gentry, #2)On Target by Mark Greaney

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

‘On Target’ is a terrific adventure. So many books have a formalized plot. I charged into this book thinking I would travel a somewhat similar trail. Author Greaney takes his hero and hurls him into one mess after the other. Soon the original mission of the hero transforms into various levels of excitement and viewpoints and the ending becomes mysterious at each page turn.

The writing is very good. The characters are very well described and explained.

When the girl character appeared, I figured she was dropped in as love interest. She’s more than that. Though, she could have just as well be a boy. In that sense the woman character felt forced.

The other issue is my typical cry of a contemporary novel that could have had 50 less pages or so. It helps that Greaney has a compelling story to better carry the reader through extraneous text.

Bottom line: I recommend this book. 8 of 10 points.

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March 10th, 2015 – Book: ‘Heywood Broun’ by Dale Kramer

by on Mar.10, 2015, under Books

Heywood Broun - a biographical portraitHeywood Broun – a biographical portrait by Dale Kramer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Heywood Broun has become a long forgotten whipsaw sharp humorist. Even the more notable Dorothy Parker and Robert Benchley, of the same Smart Set, are getting long lost nearly 100 years after blazing literary trails of wit.

I can’t even remember where I picked up this copy of Dale Kramer’s ‘Heywood Broun’, but I have never seen it again. I had to enter the book, here, into the Goodread’s shelves. That’s a true pity, for this book of Broun’s life is very well written and researched. The writing is better than most biographies. There’s a closeness felt in the writing to Broun that seems to be closer than Broun, himself, would have allowed.

There are the troubles: Lack of years noted, which, as usual, gets confusing while reading. There are asides of supposed dialogue at different points, that are very good, but for someone as guarded as Broun, have to wonder about the accuracy. The dialogue does fit well and well illustrates the narrative.

There seems to also be the noticeable edits throughout the book as names come out of no where with no explanation. The names are not recognizable, even with my knowledge of the circle Broun ran around with.

Bottom line: I recommend this book….IF you can find it.

An aside: The book is inscribed Christmastime 1949 by Maggie Bartel, long time reporter for the New York Daily News. She retired to Key West and became, and apparently is still, instrumental in recording Key West history. Something dear to my heart.

Bartel had inscribed the book to, what appears to be, “Bob Ring”, who I could find nothing about. Was hoping this might help me figure out where I had picked up the book. Possibly Bartel never gave the book to Ring and I found it during one of my trips to the Keys. The book does appear otherwise not to have been read, though the dust jacket is in terrible shape.

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February 28th, 2015 – Book: ‘Fallon’ by Louis L’Amour

by on Feb.28, 2015, under Books

FallonFallon by Louis L’Amour

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the third of three books I’m reading in a row by Louis L’Amour and it is certainly the best.

The story seems to be taking a direction that it angles from and takes the reader on a journey of a man’s self discovery. What adds so much to the story is that the reader also learns much about the main character. The thoughts about the character at first are likely to be different by the end of the book.

The writing is top notch. L’Amour builds this story differently than the two I just read before it.

The characters are well written. As a story should, the characters develop as the story goes along.

This book is best of the 20 I’ve read, so far, this year.

Bottom line: I recommend this book.

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February 27th, 2015 – Book: ‘The Rivers West’ by Louis L’Amour

by on Feb.27, 2015, under Books

Rivers WestRivers West by Louis L’Amour

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the second of three Louis L’Amour books I’m reading in a row. This one is a step up from the first, ‘The Broken Gun’. Still it is muddled with a main character that claims up and down to be a mere ship builder, who then acts as a brilliants detective. The inconsistency of the main character is as bothersome as a weird paranoia amongst the main character and others in the beginning of the book that dissipates as the story pages by.

The plot is lightweight, though the journey is fun. Just wish it was better written. There is way too much effort to play a shell game that really didn’t seem to me worth constructing in the end.

Something pops up in this book that was also in ‘The Broken Gun': Somebody “vanishes”. Written again as if the book were steeped in mysticism.

Bottom line: I don’t recommend this book. 4 of 10 points.

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February 25th, 2015 – Book: ‘The Broken Gun’by Louis L’Amour

by on Feb.25, 2015, under Books

The Broken GunThe Broken Gun by Louis L’Amour

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I see a well illustrated old west themed cover to a Louis L’Amour book, the title ‘The Broken Gun’ and I plunge into a novel that instantly confuses me. It takes a few pages to realize when in time this novel falls. There is no mention of it. There is a mention of 90 years before…but, before what?

By the third page the Korean War is mentioned.

Involving stroytelling, time should be established in some way off the top if a story about different time periods is being unraveled. Instead L’Amour leaves the reader at drift trying to figure out what’s going on.

Making the early part of the book worse is L’Amour’s poor approach to literally illustrating an urban setting.

Once the novel goes out to ranch lands of sand and rock, L’Amour hits his stride in describing the setting. But, time gets away from him again. L’Amour clearly had trouble with writing about his present.

A number of things bother me about the writing of this book. One involved an over long chase near the end. Another was one sentence involving a character that vanishes. Though clearly not the intent, the line is more surreal than consistent with the rhythm of the story.

The story is shakey, at best, and the conclusion over obvious.

Bottom line: I don’t recommend this book. 4 out of ten.

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February 24th, 2015 – Book: ‘The Family Jensen- Helltown Massacre’ by William Johnstone

by on Feb.24, 2015, under What's New?

Helltown Massacre (The Family Jensen, #2)Helltown Massacre by William W. Johnstone

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This second in the Family Jensen series is a huge step up from the first. The formula of multi-stories threaded into one again works far better. The plotting and writing is also stronger.

The characters are excellent across the board. This required extra effort in that there are multiple stories with very different characters that never interact.

There were a number of hints in the individual stories that consideration may have been to have those stand separate from the overall story.

Bottom line: i recommend this book. 7 of 10 points.

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