Rob's Blog

November 20th, 2014 – Book: ‘Morse’s Greatest Mystery and Other Stories’ by Colin Dexter.

by on Nov.20, 2014, under Books

Morse's Greatest Mystery and Other StoriesMorse’s Greatest Mystery and Other Stories by Colin Dexter

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m not usually a fan of a short story collection, but this one is outstanding. I also don’t give five stars lightly. I feel the overall book deserves them. I’ll add that not all may love this set of stories. Those who love real mysteries will love these. Those who love James Patterson or Sandra Brown are likely not to like them.

Dexter really has a flair for crafting a short mystery. No easy task. Sorry there is only one collection of short stories. Still hope for more from Dexter.

The tales in the book are all mysteries with great characters, stories and terrific writing.

Bottom line: I recommend the book!

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November 16th, 2014 – Book’ The Case of the Lame Canary’ by Erle Stanley Gardner.

by on Nov.19, 2014, under Books

The Case of the Lame CanaryThe Case of the Lame Canary by Erle Stanley Gardner

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

What stands out as the best parts of ‘The Case of the Lame Canary is the interaction between the Perry Mason, Della Street and Paul Drake characters. Gardcner is at the top of his writing skills with consistency and character development.

This is also true of the rest of the cast of this novel. Distinct characters developed throughout the book. This all helps wading through a very convoluted and overly concocted story by Gardner.

This book revels Gardeners ability to write great characterized and his ability to work too hard to use elements to create a book.

As I read the book I could see how Gardner had a set of distinct parts he worked real hard to fit together. This makes the book feel very forced to a conclusion. You know there is a conclusion at the end, but keep seeing many pages ahead as Gardner tries to weave in some nonsense leads that,in any other of his books, Mason would have been written to figure out.

Though I don’t care for the overall story, the writing is top notch and,again, just reading character interaction is outstanding.

Bottom line: I recommend this book. 6 of 10 points.



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November 14th, 2014 – Newest watercolor painting!

by on Nov.14, 2014, under Caricatures

2014-1113-SentinelIllustration

This was a commissioned project of the publisher of the Orlando Sentinel and the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel. The request was of a caricature of the publisher and of his travels back and forth between cities. Request was to include plane and car he traveled in. Also, to include Marriott he stayed in Orlando. I asked for more likes of the publisher to fill out for space – and make it more fun for me. I added the city scapes. On teh Fort Lauderdale side I included the Sun Sentinel building, a few other well known structures and the founding structure in the area, the historic Stranahan House. On the Orlando side, the Sentinel buidling, otehr structures and the Lake Eola fountain. My knowing both cities was a big help getting this done.
This is a 16″x20″ watercolor painting on Arches watercolor board.

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November 12th, 2014 – Book: ‘The Case of the Ice Cold Hands’ by Erle Stanley Gardner

by on Nov.12, 2014, under Books

The Case of the Ice Cold HandsThe Case of the Ice Cold Hands by Erle Stanley Gardner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This volume of the law life of Perry Mason moves as fast as most others and then slows, as usual when the story lands in the courtroom. In this story the story really slows int he courtroom as an intricate set of legal moves sets up the conclusion. A bit tough to get through and I think it all could have been written more clearly.

This Gardner story is a bit more plodding in places and repetitious. This is a later Mason book and maybe that has something to do with it.

As usual, the main characters are hardly described at all. The passing characters are well described and very consistent. The setting is also well mapped out literally.

Bottom line: I recommend this book. 6 of 10.

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November 8th, 2014 – Book: ‘Key Biscayne – The Romance of Cape Florida’ by Jim Woodman

by on Nov.08, 2014, under Books

Key Biscayne The Romance of Cape FloridaKey Biscayne The Romance of Cape Florida by Jim Woodman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a wonderful book of history! Well written and thorough to it’s goals. The book has a great airy feel in it’s construction and makes reading far more enjoyable than history books can usually be.

Author Woodman does focus most on pre-1900 and whips up the 20th century, up to it’s publication of 1961, in just a few pages.

Bottom line: I highly recommend this hard to find book.
So hard to find, I had to add it to Goodreads.

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November 6th, 2014 – Book: ‘The Spanish Conquistadores, Men or Devils?’

by on Nov.06, 2014, under Books

The Spanish Conquistadores, Men or DevilsThe Spanish Conquistadores, Men or Devils by John Francis Bannon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a must read for anyone wanting to understand or are studying the Spanish conquistadors. This volume gives various views from experts as to whether the conquistadors were the good guys or the bad guys. Each entry is an excerpt from an expert’s larger examination of the subject. Reading each essay gives the reader much to think about and consider.

The selections and notes of a bit of background of each is very readable.

Bottom line: I recommend this book.

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November 3rd, 2014 – Book: ‘Florida’s Menendez: Captain General of the Ocean Sea’ by Albert C. Manucy

by on Nov.03, 2014, under Books

Florida's Menendez: Captain General of the Ocean SeaFlorida’s Menendez: Captain General of the Ocean Sea by Albert C. Manucy

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Clearly Albert Manucy is an apologist for explorer Menendez and his success of making a slaughterhouse of Florida during his days here. Manucy doesn’t completely ignore the empirical evidence and documentation of the indians and French, but nary a word of it is in this volume of Menendez’s life.

It is good to read the viewpoint Manucy has in this book. It just doesn’t jive with all else we know or can shake out from what has been written. Is Manucy a strong Catholic and excuses the behaviour due to faith? It’s only thing else that Manucy notes with a fervor throughout the book – Menendez’s faith. It’s certainly fine to base a person’s lifestyle as a reason for actions. It is also important not to white wash all else and claim a book to be a history book. If Manucy had the intent to ignore Menendez’s actions as that of a tribute to faith, then the book should have focused more specifically to Catholicism and how Menendez lived his life based on it.

The writing of this book, set more as an adventure novel, is sub-par.

Bottom line: I do not recommend this book. 3 of 10.

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October 31st, 2014 – Happy Halloween!

by on Oct.31, 2014, under What's New?

2014-1031-ColorPAge-Halloween

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OCtober 30th, 2014 – Book: “Two” by John D. MAcDonald.

by on Oct.30, 2014, under Books

TwoTwo by John D. MacDonald

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’m a huge John D. MacDonald fan. I decided to open up this set of short stories because it was one I had not read and i haven’t read MacDonald in quite a while. These two are reasons why I need to reread other MacDonald books to see if time has changed my view of his work.

These two stories are lackluster at best. The first really doesn’t go anywhere and the second is paced to be a thriller, but I wasn’t thrilled. I think I’ve read too many like the second story so that I knew where it was going. Likely if I had read it when the story came out, I would find it a genuine thriller.

The writing is good MacDonald, but not great. The characters in both stories are pretty thin.

Bottom line: I don’t recommend this book – 4 out of 10

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October 30th, 2014 – Happy National Candy Corn Day!

by on Oct.30, 2014, under Cartooning

2014-1030-Happy-CandyCorn-BW

Happy National Candy Corn Day!
Zuber & Penney find candy corn in a different forms! You can learn more at Swampy’s Florida: http://wp.me/p46j33-2Z4

This is my #Inktober contribution today.
#CandyCornDay

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October 29th, 2014 – Book: ‘Bloody Kansas’ by Chuck Martin

by on Oct.29, 2014, under Books

Bloody KansasBloody Kansas by Chuck Martin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

‘Bloody Kansas’ seems to me to be more real than many westerns I’ve read. The language is not literate, nor direct. Many characters are not sure of themselves, many confused and many conflicted. Older characters are realizing their age but not much brighter than anyone else. I think this best portrays those that headed west. The majority of westerns have all the characters sound like they just left a Toastmasters meeting. The characters in this book likely never saw a school room. Which was true at that time.

AS much as I really like the stories and characters in the Johnstone Clan books, this seemed to me far more accurate. There are no brilliant geniuses in this tale. Plenty who think they are and get caught in it. There are characters who work to be a bad or good guy and cave during the book as situations bend them. It’s hard to say there is a good guy in the book, though there is a focus on a central character.

For all of this I would give this book five stars. The trouble is plugging all this in and making a coherent story. That’s where this stumbles. The author seems to have worked so hard to relate an illiterate group, that it is sometimes hard to follow the story. The constant mention of everyone’s nickname also makes reading difficult as the names don’t role off the tongue or mind. But, wouldn’t that be typical in the wild and illiterate west?

I think this book has bad ratings due to there being a questionable good guy or bad guy. I thinks it makes it more realistic.

Bottom line: I recommend this book.
I’ll start here adding a rating from 10, which makes more sense than Goodreads 5: 6 out of 10

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