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Archive for July, 2016

Book: ‘The White Dress’ by Mignon G. Eberhart – July 28th, 2016

by on Jul.28, 2016, under Books

The White DressThe White Dress by Mignon G. Eberhart
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This part of my Florida library:

What a muddled mystery drowned in melodramatic fluff.

The story starts fine and rather briskly as most of the cast lands in Miami from New York. They make their way to the fictitious “Shadow Island” and soon the mystery begins. As the dozens and dozens of pages go by Eberhart does all she can to over indulge in repetition of everything else that has already gone on in the book. 75% of the last of the book has endless questions and wonderings. 35% of this book should have been edited out.

There are also waaaaay to many “moving shadows”, “dark figures” and other mysterious references to, what are written as, potential threats. I can understand a few here or there observed by one character. However, there is a rash of characters with selective vision issues proclaiming seeing this or that.

The characters are poorly described. There is a reference to an airline owner, but we learn little else about him throughout the book. I’ve had similar problems with Eberhart’s writing in the past. Thee worse case of this is an only described Navy man with business interests that we never know more about. What’s worse is no one else does either. He appears out of no where, announces same, intent on meeting the airline owner and then throughout is treated as part of the family. Yet, little else is known.

The setting is loosely written. Once on the island that characters move little. So 95% takes place on the island. More below.

The Florida part: Eberhart shows little knowledge of Florida. Probably research involved a vacation for a few days. She does mention Collins Avenue, but the idea of a singular home on an island with a causeway and a hurricane runs through and access is not impeded by it has so much wrong with it, the book flies into science fiction territory.

I believe Eberhart was basing the island on Star Island, but she shows her lack of knowledge in that a causeway is never mentioned and the writing is of some road that crosses to the “island”. Franky, i believe she really means a peninsula. However approached the setting of the island makes little sense.

Because this book was published in 1945 I can forgive the now trite use of a hurricane to a Flordia based story. However, Eberhart knows little of hurricanes. Seems she wrote based on other’s observations. The storm is written more like a very strong Florida thunderstorm than hurricane.

One thing she does here I’ve never seen in a book before and that is the constant reference of Australian pines ads Casuarina trees, which is what most technically are.

The cover of this July 1976 edition reflects an artist given an assignment but not made to read the book. No Australian pines there. All palm trees. Also, despite the title of the book is in big letter, ‘The White Dress”, the artists paints more of a ’70s pants-dress. Also, for some reason not mentioned in the book, is a male head with a very heavy beard.

Bottom line: I do not recommend this book. 3 out of ten points.

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Book: ‘Murder Being Once Done’ by Ruth Rendell – July 24th, 2016

by on Jul.24, 2016, under Books

Murder Being Once Done (Inspector Wexford, #7)Murder Being Once Done by Ruth Rendell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This my first Rendell book after passing her by all these years. Wish i hadn’t, if this book is any indication.

This is a lightly written mystery with engaging characters. The mystery is well plugged into a setting that is nearly claustrophobic due to the closeness of all elements in the community adding to the questions that arise. Adding more is that the hero of the story is supposed to be taking a vacation and Rendell makes full use of this nifty device to add flavor to the story.

Rendell’s character development is better done here than most writers. Even side characters are interesting. Setting is very well done as just about the entire story is set within a few blocks and the reader soon knows the layout of the land.

Bottom line: I recommend this book. 8 out of ten points.

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Adding paint to Santa Claus! – July 21st, 2016

by on Jul.21, 2016, under Illusration, Swampy's Florida

2016-0722-SantaTampa-Paint

During a political forum Thursday night, I got a chance to add watercolor. Hope to get more done Monday night at another forum. In the meantime trips to Gainesville and toward Spring Hill lie ahead.

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Book: ‘Rage of the Mountain Man’ by William W. Johnstone – July 12th, 2016

by on Jul.12, 2016, under Books

Rage of the Mountain Man (Mountain Man, #13)Rage of the Mountain Man by William W. Johnstone
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I believe this is the best of the Smoke Jensen series, so far, and one of the best of the few dozen Johnstone Clan books i’ve read.

One thing is for sure – This book was not written by William Johnstone.

It was obvious by the early ’90s Johnstone was using ghost writers. This entry in the Smoke Jensen series is so far off from most all of the Johnstone Clan books before and after Johnstone’s death, that someone else had to have written this. One major detour here is the extensive use of various curse words. This book has as much as any Johnstone book I’ve read. I believe it’s the first in the Smoke Jensen series (I’m reading them in order) that uses even one. Though, the language is peppered throughout.

‘Rage’ is a extremely well plotted tale of another guy wanting to be a land baron. I first thought I was in for another repetitious story. I found out quickly I was wrong. This tale veers from the land baron to Smoke’s 2nd trip in the series to the eastern shore of the US. The writing of Smoke’s encounters at various locations in the northeast US are very well done. The settings of each also very well done. This tale travels from west to east to west to more west. Throughout there is plenty of action and a neat travelogue of America in the early 1900s. All reading accurately to me, though I’m sure better experts could point this and that in errors.

Something else pops up and never specifically pointed out – This book takes place later in Smoke’s life. One reference I picked up was regarding Oscar Wilde in the past tense. Now, this this could be a writer’s mistake, but Wilde died in 1900. There’s also mention of the nearly never mentioned Jensen children being all grown up.

The characters are of a wide variety, all written very well. Tricky with so many of such distinct backgrounds. Love the inclusion of Preacher’s mountain men pals.

Something included that does reflect William Johnstone is the overt conservative political issues woven throughout the entire book in all sorts of ways.

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

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Book: ‘National Security’ by Marc Cameron – July 8th, 2016

by on Jul.08, 2016, under Books

National Security (Jericho Quinn, #1)National Security by Marc Cameron
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

‘National Security’ is a scary tale of extremely deadly chemicals making way to America by bad guys and about the folks who work to stop them. Unlike many tales about terrorism and America, this one is more involved, though only in subject.

The awkward part is the selection of the fellows to lead this fight. How they are assembled really is flaky and very unlikely. Others involved in the hunt of bad guys include scientists that speak more as regular store pharmacists, than learned members of a government agency. The ending is an odd cat and mouse game that includes a car chase that just doesn’t ring true. All of this points to some mighty shaky writing.

The story is solid. The chemical threat is very well written at every point. It’s the rest that needed some solid writing help. The characters are identified well and given typical backgrounds. Settings are mostly well written, especially those in the mid-east.

A Cover Issue: Here is another Pinnacle book with another lousy title and cover. Why on earth is an image of the White House included? Though there is a threat to “National Security”, it’s a wide encompassing title for such a narrow subject of the book.

Overall it’s a good story. Just weak as a first entry for a writer.

Bottom line: I recommend the book. 4 out of 10 points.

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Book: ‘Threat Warning’ by John Gilstrap – July 5th, 2016

by on Jul.06, 2016, under Books

Threat Warning (Jonathan Grave, #3)Threat Warning by John Gilstrap
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

My third run of a Jonathan Graves tale and again get the feeling of a comic book without capes and super powers. The super villains are there again!

This is certainly a fun tale with tons of action and adventure. There are a number of troubles, though. First, this is almost too much like the novel preceding this one. The location is different and the problems are a bit different. But the resolution is nearly identical. There are also some odd happenings in the book that don’t make sense. In particular, there is one character that dramatically pivots from one stance to another.

I can set all of that aside viewing this in a more surrealistic comic book way. With that thought, this story is full of characters that are a bit bigger than life. Those written less than that get lost in all else going on. The settings are written with detail as needed. That adds a plus to this book: All of the excess baggage found in most all books being written today is not in this. Gilstrap does a great job keeping the story focussed and moving at a strong pace.

Overall this book for those looking for comic book adventure. High brow literary levels are not to be found here.

Bottom line: I recommend this book. 5 out of 5 points.

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Allerbuddies – A Project i worked on – July 6th, 2016

by on Jul.06, 2016, under Cartooning

2016-0709-Allerbuddies

Here’s a project I worked on last year to help little people and their allergy troubles. It’s available now! Little folks can wear these fun bands with Dr. Willow the wombat to help them avoid encountering items that might hurt them.

Here’s where you can get your own! –
https://www.allerbuddies.com.au/

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Book: ‘Kept Women Can’t Quit’ by Erle Stanley Gardner – July 3rd, 2016

by on Jul.03, 2016, under Books

A. A. FAIR - KEPT WOMEN CAN'T QUITA. A. FAIR – KEPT WOMEN CAN’T QUIT by Erle Stanley Gardner
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

What a mess of convoluted actions in a simplistic tale. Seems to me Gardner took the Perry Mason mysteries that involved a lot more of a shell game than many Mason stories and recreated those as Cool and Lam books. Replacing Mason with Lam.

This story starts simply enough. Then within 30 pages a ridiculously shell game of various items and people by Lam leaving the reader wondering what is going on. Turns out – Not much. For the actions set up to law enforcement activity that again brings up this weird canard of Sergeant Sellers always believing Lam is a bad guy that is capable of murder, extortion and crimes against the world. OK, maybe Sellers could be written this way a few times. Writing Sellers like this everytime is just sloppy storytelling. All of this to pad this book with frivolous fluff that is a waste of writing and reading.

There is more bobbing and weaving involving Lam, but at that point it all points to more waste of writing, which is was. There is an interesting angle of the weapon used that could have been a great plot point. Instead Gardner takes a wild tangent involving a retail store/manufacturers/models/ etc. More waste. This could have been a good mystery without the unnecessary mess.

Main characters are mostly assumed to be known and the rest are well described. The females maybe over well described. In that Lam is never well described for the most part, he sure has a way with any well formed dish, if I might use Gardner vernacular. Settings are written sparsely.

Originally, when i started the book, i thought Gardner’s foreword was going to be my biggest complaint. The foreword is odd in that it has NOTHING to do with the book. Worse is Gardner’s questioning whether we should be jailing those who break the law. Lone rehabilitation is the answer. What a cockeyed view by a writer that is always sending his characters to jail.

Bottom line: I do not recommend this book. 4 out of 10 points.

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Volunteering some Caricatures for Special Olympics Friday night – July 1st, 2016

by on Jul.02, 2016, under Caricatures

Volunteering some Caricatures for Special Olympics Friday night!

I did a rare volunteering of my Improvisational Illustrations 🙂 to help with a fund raising event Friday night for Special Olympics . Thanks to Maria, Don and Loida for inviting me!

See each drawing for a bit behind each. .

2016-0701-SpecialOlympics-02

‘Can We Finish the Operation Now?’.
Desimer works as a photographer and nurse.

2016-0701-SpecialOlympics-03

‘Bringing swords to a Hog Fight’.
Ted has lived a full live and had so much to say. His love of armaments, including samurai and broad swords. He’s also known to go hunting.

2016-0701-SpecialOlympics-01

‘Hai!’
Chris is one of three people at this event who loves swords. None knew each other shared the like of such long, sharp objects! Chris’ diet swerves from meat eating to vegetarian to meat eating to vegan and back again.

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Book: ‘The Same Lie Twice’ by Ron Goulart – July 1st, 2016

by on Jul.01, 2016, under Books

The Same Lie TwiceThe Same Lie Twice by Ron Goulart
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a speedy tale that is chock full of great storytelling. Goulart eases back from the typical humor he plunges a story into and takes a Raymond Chandler-esque turn with John Easy.

The characters are particularly well written. Including one that appears one way but is written far more complicated, though little is outwardly indicated about the layers in the book and have little to do with the conclusion. The settings are well done.

I really like how each chapter skips over a period of time and Goulart then cleanly continues the story including a bit of well written narrative that keeps the story moving and covers what was missed. Very nicely done.

The conclusion is the biggest drawback as not all ties up in a typical clean fashion.

Bottom line: I recommend this book. 7 out of ten points.

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