Rob's Blog

Archive for May, 2017

Book: ‘Never Leave Me’ by Harold Robbins – May 30th, 2017

by on May.30, 2017, under Books

Never Leave MeNever Leave Me by Harold Robbins
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

An uneven and intriguing book examine one man as a lecherous lout and getting away with it.

I nabbed this book due to the entrancing cover illustration. Then realized i had never read a Robbins book. So, now I have.

Approaching this book as if there is a hero in it is a mistake. The main character seems the family man, but unveils something very different along the way. That way reveals author Robbins inability to tell a good story and his ability to derail a perfectly overly simple tale with various sexual encounters that adds nothing to the book itself.

The writing is good and drew me into the mess that is written for the main character. However, the main character’s ambition to use all to achieve questionable goals in the end left me empty.

Robbins does a very good job of presenting each character. The women, particularly well defined. In more ways than one.

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

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Book: ‘Where Is Bianca?’ by Ellery Queen – May 28th,2017

by on May.28, 2017, under Books

Where Is Bianca?Where Is Bianca? by Ellery Queen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I liked this volume a lot. A law enforcement novel with a pal trying to figure where a body is, alive or dead.

The pacing of ‘Where is Bianca?’ is terrific as the so many elements are shuffled here and there. It’s still easy to follow, which i learned as I traveled across Florida and in and out of places. I could still pick up the book and know where i was in the book.

The character development helps move the book also. Each are very well done. Even the one(s) who are missing. With distinctive voice, each character further stands out. Settings are light.

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

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Book: ‘The Bellini Look’ by Carol Ryrie Brink

by on May.24, 2017, under Books

The Bellini LookThe Bellini Look by Carol Ryrie Brink
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Carol Brink wrote my favorite book as a child. When I came across this gothic tale, i nabbed it and was intrigued as to it’s contents. After reading this book, I understand why she wrote little of this genre.

As my cartooning has a humorous bent, realistic approaches for me can be very difficult. Obviously Brink’s vast writing in the children’s genre hampered her in writing this. The dialogue is more childish than adult. Too often the main character “cries” instead of speaking. The actions of the adult are also more of a child than an adult. The mis-handling of the main character makes the rest of the book unbalanced.

The rest of the characters are good. Most written distinctly separate and having a voice of their own. Why Brink couldn’t accomplish the same feat for the main character is beyond me. The settings are very well done.

Brink does do a good job of creating the atmosphere of mystery, tension and the unknown.

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

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Saying Goodbye to a Friend – May 23rd, 2017

by on May.24, 2017, under Buddies, Friends, Swampy's Florida

I’m temporarily grounded as my brakes in the car have decided not to operate as they should. This meant on Tuesday I needed a ride to a memorial service for a friend. Maxine Thomas was kind to give me that ride out to Dunnellon to say goodbye to our mutual friend Penny Fleeger. The service was held at a favorite spot of Penny’s, Rainbow Springs State Park (Photo above).

Penny was born and raised in the same city my mother and aunt were born and raised, Coral Gables, Florida. It was one evening Penny and I were talking about Coral Gables and high school. Suddenly we found that Penny went to elementary, junior high, high school AND the same college with my Aunt, though they didn’t really know each other.

Penny moved on from Coral Gables to other places, married and ended up in Dunnellon, Florida. Widowed and wanting to help the community, she was voted in as a Dunnellon City Council member. She also got involved with the local historical museum, the Chamber of Commerce and helping preserve the Rainbow River, which she lived along.

I met her several years ago and we were very good friends until the her health took her. Penny loved everything that drove my Swampy’s Florida efforts. It was Penny’s efforts that produced the ‘Swampy’s Florida: Dunnellon’ book.

Penny’s gone now. In a place she can rest from the maddening crowd – One of her favorite places – the Rainbow River.


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Book: ‘Tempted to Love’ by Barbara Cartland – May 22nd, 2017

by on May.22, 2017, under Books

Tempted to LoveTempted to Love by Barbara Cartland
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’ve seen Barbara Cartland paperback novels all of my life. I’ve always loved the covers, but just not picked on up. As I picked this one up, I wondered just what was written inside. So, I read it.

The story has a clunky majority and a more exciting ending. The characters are well done. Especially the heroine. Though the writing could use some help, the plotting is very good.

The book opens laying out the late 1800s battle of Germany and France. The rest of book tags the efforts to ready for battle. The effort assists the story to feel more real.

Over all the dialogue is far to simply written for the period portrayed.

Overall, I liked the book, nevertheless.

Bottom line: I recommend the book. 5 out of 10 points.

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On the Road – Political Bar b Q, Suwannee River, live Oak & artwork done!-May 20th, 2017

by on May.22, 2017, under Cartooning

Saturday was another tiring & Very hot day. Started at a Florida political rally with lots of local bar b cue & vegetables in North Florida. The event being near springs, I headed over to visit a couple parks along the Suwannee River. Got a bit over heated and headed to, the nearest city, Live Oak and noted a few of the many historic spots I’ve seen before but never photographed.

From there headed south with a stop in Gainesville at Lollicup tea & smoothies. A favorite stop to get some cartooning done.

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Book: ‘Magnificent Destiny’ by Paul Wellman – May 21st, 2017

by on May.21, 2017, under Books

Magnificent Destiny: A Novel About the Great Secret Adventure of Andrew Jackson and Sam HoustonMagnificent Destiny: A Novel About the Great Secret Adventure of Andrew Jackson and Sam Houston by Paul I. Wellman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a long and thorough sprawling book of Andrew Jackson and Sam Houston’s amazing relationship. Wellman does an outstanding job of creating such an epic accurately portraying so much about and beyond Jackson and Houston.

The writing is excellent throughout. The development of the characters is some of the best writing i’ve read. A reader can feel the power of the younger Jackson, the fight of illness in Jackson’s middle age and Jackson’s weakened form approaching death.

The plotting obviously was given wide territory as this book stretches 600 pages. For a contemporary novel, 600 pages usually means a need to edit out 400. In Wellman’s case, there is want of more.

The largest drawback of Wellman’s book is the sainthood given to Jackson and Houston. The two made mistakes and some were huge. Wellman slides past and reconstructs from a view of forgiveness. The continued debate as to just what Houston was doing riding away from Santa Ana is portrayed here with a kinda sorta logic of action meant to defeat the Mexican monster.

Bottom line: I recommend this book, if you can find it. 9 out of 10 points.

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On the road in Orlando with many friends! – May 17th, 2017

by on May.18, 2017, under Buddies, Friends

Started the day with an early morning run to the monthly Orlando Remembered meeting at the Orange County Regional History Center.

From there I slipped over to Beefy King and got together with a crew of friends. I was showing friend and Apopka native Melanie King my Apopka illustration I had done. Her friend Joe was there and took the photograph.

I hadn’t seen most of this lot in a few years. Standing is Pam Treadwell. Seated are Charles Treadwell, Marvin Bennett and Kim Cullars, who was celebrating his birthday.

I told Pam she looks like a member of a FBI task force who has caught three fugitives.

Marvin has just published an ace of a book, ‘Trutles, Tortoises and People’, full of information, art and Marvin’s scientifically accurate paintings of slews of turtles. This book is not widely available. Let me know if you’d like one and I’ll help you get one.

After Beefy King I had a rather long business meeting about a project and then just had to stop. I was pooped!!! I guess my age slowing me down.

I got back on my horse and rode out to the Winter Park Library to sit and hear my friend Susan Trewick and her group pick guitars. While heading in, I noticed the library book store sign still out and went in to see if they would like me to bring it in. Oops! I spotted a Florida history book I needed. Then found another and another! I got back to Susan’s group half hour later stayed too short a time and ran on to meet with pals Robert Bauerle and Ken Culotta, below, to write a set of political cartoons.



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On the road in Kissimmee! – May 11th, 2017

by on May.11, 2017, under Books, Florida History!

Powerful day Thursday as I visited Kissimmee, Florida, and did some exploring I haven’t done in years. Started off meeting with my old friend, Shawn Anderson, visiting from Minnesota, in Historic Downtown Kissimmee. On my way there from Lakeland I got a call from another old friend, Jeremy Buchanon who happened to be now working for Osceola County in Kissimmee! So Jeremy joined us.

I wandered and explored Makinson Hardware that opened in 1884 and still going strong.

Then on to the old Osceola County courthouse. Leslie, of the guardian ad litem program partly housed in the building, was very kind to give me a tour through this fascinating building. There are more photos of the courthouse over at my Swampy’s Florida page.

After leaving Kissimmee, i did some poking around for books, that I usually like to do on my birthday. I found some wonder books! And quite a few for friends!

On the way home I pit stopped at The Donut King and nabbed the monster sized apple fritter for my drive Friday into Tampa and 3 more days on the road! More to come! 😀

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Book: ‘Brotherhood of the Gun’ by William W. Johnstone – May 3rd, 2017

by on May.03, 2017, under Books

Brotherhood of the Gun (Blood Bond, #2)Brotherhood of the Gun by William W. Johnstone
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This entry in the johnstone Clan stable of westerns is above most. The story of hunting down slavers sends the two main characters across the western territory with some of the better depictions of areas they travel through. Also more historical context is presented as part of the story.

Excellent work is done in depicting the “Blood Brothers” and, a Johnstone favorite, a mountain man who is the leader of the journey. Other prominent characters are also well done. it’s the bad guys that are flimsy this time around. All of the error of their ways is detailed. but who they are is lacking.

I really liked the extra effort to place the story into the historical timeline of U.S. history.

The plotting is good and the story pace is quick despite the amount of time and desolate travel that is done.

Bottom line: I recommend this book. 7 out of 10 points.

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Book:’Blood Bond’ by William W. Johnstone – May 2nd, 2017

by on May.02, 2017, under Books

Blood Bond (Blood Bond, #1)Blood Bond by William W. Johnstone
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another retelling of the story of Custer. This time with the Johnstone Clan’s first part of the Blood Blonde series. It’s pretty accurate and the inclusion of the fictional characters are well done.

The duo, being written as half-brothers, is the best part of the tale as the writing well depicts brotherhood, however it is formed. From mild disagreements to the complexity of romantic entanglements. Just another example where the Johnstone Clan well creates characters.

Plotting of the entire book is even, which can be tough to do while balancing true events. The battles are pretty standard Western gun fights and indian battles. The Custard affair becomes a countdown to it’s ultimate end.

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

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