Rob's Blog

June 30th, 2015 – Cartoon Turtles & Bunnies!

by on Jun.30, 2015, under Cartooning

2015-0629-Turtles&Bunnies

Here is a bunny and turtle I drew and colored for my pals at Friends of Silver River State Park! These will be used for their 2015 & 2016 Critter Runs to help raise money for the organization that helps oversee the great Silver Springs State Park.

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June 29th, 2015 – Book: ‘Blood land’ by William W. Johnstone

by on Jun.29, 2015, under Books

BloodlandBloodland by William W. Johnstone

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Of the few dozen Johnstone Clan novels I’ve read, few were published during William Johnstone’s lifetime. This one was. Considering the few books written at the time by him, I figure this one may have been written by Johnstone himself and not one of the herd of ghost writers to come.

Unfortunately, this is the worst of the books I’ve read possibly actually written by Johnstone. I can read a formula cast in the structure of the book. At the time he was also producing the Smoke Jensen series and this book too much reflects those. You could swap out the hero for Jensen. Not that it ruins the novel, just that it indicates Johnstone’s later actions of employing ghost writers considering how much he was able to produce, apparently, plot-wise.

The entire premise is hard to believe, which means the writer failed to connect his plot with the reader. Basically involves bad guys taking over a town with a vision of taking over the world in their way. The idea of the seduction of the townspeople seems more real today than possible in 1985. Still more than far fetched.

One of the most important things to take from this book is Johnstone’s writing of the farming industry and what was and would be happening. Younger people will have a great deal of trouble understanding what he is writing in that what he wrote has not only happened but is so buried in the commercial maelstrom, that the idea of the independent family farms that produce for the U.S. to such a high level will be hard to perceive.

The writing in the book is less than standard. The setting is described at points, but I never got the feel of the place as I have in so many other Johnstone Clan novels. That character construction is also far less than the usual stellar efforts of a Johnstone novel. The most interesting characters, to me, is the father and one named ‘Lila’, but little is done with them.

I figure this book is a sign of the stress of producing too many books at the same time by Johnstone.

Bottom line: I don’t recommend this book. 6 out of 10 points.

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June 27th, 2015 – Book: ‘The Nearest Exit’ by Olen Steinhauer

by on Jun.27, 2015, under Books

The Nearest Exit (The Tourist, #2)The Nearest Exit by Olen Steinhauer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After reading the first powerhouse novel, ‘The Tourist’, I was glad I had the second handy. Now wish I had the third as assessable. ‘The Nearest Exit’ is very, very good. It is important to note that this second novel really does need to be read in tandem with the first. The first is so involved that, despite too subtle a recap, I can’t see how the second can be read without getting lost. Written as someone who did not read the second novel by itself.

The above is one reason why this book is not as good as the first. The effort to recap the first novel is obvious and slows the story considerably. I’m trying to be objective of this book being read without knowledge of the first. With that thought, I can understand how a new reader would feel as if the fist half of the book seems off balance and overwrought with the past of the main character.

Taking into account both books being read in succession, this book is a terrific continuation of the story.

I really like the Erika Schwartz character and wish the writer might consider a stand alone book or two about her.

The writing is strained in reflection and then excels beyond that. The characters are not as well presented as in the first. Especially considering all of the looking back over the shoulder that occurs. Schwartz being a definite exception.The settings are also less focused than the first novel and other typical novels.

Bottom line: I recommend the book…after reading the first. 7 out of 10 points.

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June 26th, 2015 – Drawing a hero!

by on Jun.26, 2015, under Caricatures, Cartooning

Drew a wonderful group of older folks today. Including Joan Kelly who, along with her dancing partner, were entertainers for the USO and performed for troops waiting to go overseas during WWII. She tap danced and sung at bases in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Hard to imagine all of the joy she brought to our brave soldiers. She’s one of my heroes!

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June 25th, 2015 – Swampy’s Florida History Talk!

by on Jun.25, 2015, under Florida History!, Swampy's Florida

2015-0625-DunnellonTalk

Gave a talk today in Dunnellon of local and statewide Florida heroes. It was one of my typical full-of-energy free-for-alls. Had a great crowd! Even signed/drew in some Swampy’s Florida Dunnellon books!

I drew many things. Including the elusive Florida Long-Tailed Flying Gargoyle.

I’m giving more talks in the next month in Marion and Pasco Counties. I’ll post more next week! Maybe some of you all can come!

2015-0625-DunnellonTalk-2

— at Dunnellon Public Library.

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June 23rd, 2015 – Book: ‘The Tourist’ by Olen Steinhauer

by on Jun.23, 2015, under Books

The Tourist (The Tourist, #1)The Tourist by Olen Steinhauer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a fantastic novel. Very well written with very developed characters and an extremely well thought out plot. The setting is detailed well as characters travel.

This is a complex tale that requires paying attention and reading as much as possible in any one sitting.

The main character is different from most in the espionage genre. He’s written far more like a character you might find in a trade paperback listed in a NPR top book list. So are many of the characters. All are woven into a spy tale that, I agree with so many other reviewers, belongs aside Le Carre.

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

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June 22nd, 2015 – Drawing and Inking!

by on Jun.22, 2015, under Cartooning

Hunkering again getting more and more and more cartooning done! This time at one of my new favorite’s, Angels in Tavares. Every meal has been tee-riffic!!!
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June 19th, 2015 – Book: ‘The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax’ by Dorothy Gilman

by on Jun.19, 2015, under What's New?

The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax  (Mrs. Pollifax #1)The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is my first journey with Dorothy Gilman and Mrs. Pollifax. It’s a fun story with a very likable main characters. I can see how the character continued on through another 13 books.

This first in the series has a great, if preposterous, premise. I love the idea of mistaken identity leading to a fantastic story. The troubles with this book, for me, is that the second half of the book is the expository of setting and escape. Severe editing would have made the book more concise and focused. I realize the intent is to see what Mrs. Pollifax will do next, but I would rather see what she would do with a plot moving forward not mired in a How-are-we-gonna-get-out-of-this one problem scenario.

The characters are very well written. Even a parrot is well placed and intriguing.

I’ve since picked up a few more Pollifax books and will give them a try down the road.

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

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June 16th, 2015 – Book: ‘The Runner’ by Patrick Lee.

by on Jun.16, 2015, under Books

Runner (Sam Dryden, #1)Runner by Patrick Lee

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As I started this book I found myself shaking my head at how predictably the first 20 plus pages laid out story-wise. I started thinking I had made a very bad literary turn.

Then the story unfolded and I found myself turning pages of a very intriguing plot that raised all sorts of questions involving government and ethics. Pages flew as the story built. The author staged a complicated plot in such a great easy manor. This book is really a chase story that leaves an opaque fog in front of the reader as we are never sure where we are going or what is real. My wondering about the first 20 pages gets resolved along the way. Amazing and deft plotting.

I dare not write a word here about what this book is about, as any words pull apart the blocks that makes this book so good and fun to read.

The ideas presented in the novel has to make one wonder if governments are working on projects presented. Hmmmm…. A novel that can make the reader wonder and consider…Not just once, but over and over throughout the book, gets five stars from me.

The writing could be better involving dialogue. There’s a 12 year old girl that rarely sounds like a 12 year old girl. There are a few other issues involving the writing. But, again, the whole of the book trumps the writing, for me. Storytelling is bottom line.

Speaking of bottom line: I recommend this book. 9 of 10 points.

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June 16th, 2015 – #NowReading #CurrentlyReading – The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax’.

by on Jun.16, 2015, under Books

2015-0619-Book-UnexpectedMrsPolifax

 

Whipped through ‘The Runner’ by Patrick Lee in two days and decided to shift to low gear with my first reading of Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman.

Thinking I might try a third new author in a row after this book.

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June 15th, 2015 – Trilby and a bunny!

by on Jun.16, 2015, under Cartooning

2015-0616-TrilbyBunny

Trilby and a bunny! You can see the color version over at Swampy’s Florida later this morning.

My rugged schedule of the past week and a half has finally caught up with me. Was in a meeting Monday night where I just kept feeling sicker and sicker and couldn’t slip out. Made my way home and crashed. This proves that I’m not in perpetual motion, despite what people say.

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