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Archive for November, 2017

Book: ‘Monahan’s Massacre’ by William W. Johnston – November 29th, 2017

by on Nov.30, 2017, under Books

Monahan's Massacre (The Trail West, #2)Monahan’s Massacre by William W. Johnstone
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well, the Johnstone Clan best keep this ghost writer in the stable. Book 2 of this new series is setting a standard above Johnstone himself.

Book 2 in the series continues to follow the journey of Dooley Monahan. It’s a tough journey that is full of, a Johnstone trademark, outstanding characters and a journey that is added with complicated plot developments this ghost writer placed in the first book that made it so compelling. My favorite of complications is the issue of Manahan’s memory. After the last book, the ghost writer has made the reader uncertain what is real and what may be some hallucination. Another is the main female character featured is NOTHING like I’ve read before in any book. Kinda wish we could know more about her and how on earth the writer saw her getting to be where she is in the book.

I also love the way the writer works in Blue, the dog, and General Grant, the horse. They are also main characters in the book and greatly affect all events.

The settings are very well written. I like how the writer intersperses the characters, narrative and dialogue and the setting. I would have to figure the writer is a huge fan of Twain and learned from him.

My only qualm with the writer is that Monahan escapes certain death a bit too often. It’s a neat plot device, but used a bit much.

My qualm involving the top of the Johnstone Clan, on the superficial side, again, involves poor choices of unrelated cover image and a dumb title that has nothing to do with the book. The books clearly state over and over again Monaham being older and having trouble realizing his age. The writer indicated a couple times that Monahan is around 40 or older. Also, Blue is – Surprise! – BLUE! The horse, also could not be General Grant. Finally there is no “massacre” in the book. But I won’t grade this book based upon the publisher’s bad moves.

Overall this book is a joy to read and I hope the Johnstone Clan doesn’t lose this one!

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

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I’ve been drawing Florida Panthers! – November 29th, 2017

by on Nov.30, 2017, under What's New?

Another snippet of the upcoming Christmas card. Got delayed a bit due to other work circumstances. Should have it all done Thursday.

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I’ve been drawing mermaids! – November 28th, 2017

by on Nov.28, 2017, under Illusration

Here’s a photograph of the Weeki Wachee Springs painting I delivered yesterday. Each painting is to celebrate our parks system and encourage you to visit. I’d be happy to visit the parks with you! Let me know and I’ll meet you at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park and give you a tour with fun history!
 
My neighbor today asked me to take him through Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park, south of Gainesville. If you like to join us, send me a private message and we’ll schedule a visit!
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I’ve been drawing bunnies! – November 26th, 2017

by on Nov.26, 2017, under Illusration

I’ve been drawing bunnies!
 
Pencils for a Christmas present I’m creating for a client.
 
This is the last day to take advantage of my special deal to get an original watercolor painting by me.
 
You could get one as a gift for someone or for yourself or something else. I will do my very best to hand deliver any paintings.
 
$100 for a 16″ x 20″ watercolor painting on Arches watercolor board.
 
$60 for a 11″ x 14″ watercolor painting on Arches watercolor board.
 
$35 for a 9″ X 12″ watercolor painting on Arches watercolor board.
 
This offer is good from now until midnight Sunday night.
 
You can leave the request in a private message or e-mail: projects@robsmithjr.com. Feel free to call me to request, also: (407) 880-1128.
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Book: ‘Gold Comes In Bricks’ by A.A. Fair – November 25th, 2017

by on Nov.25, 2017, under Books

Gold Comes In BricksGold Comes In Bricks by A.A. Fair
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

After finishing this entry in the Cool & Lam series, i wish Gardner had done more stories with just Cool.

This is a hugely convoluted tale that goes beyond reason. Gardner is trying so hard to be clever that he pulls apart the aspects of a good story along the way – again. Overall, the basic plot and solution are worthy. How Gardener get there is just ridiculous. Trying to throw the reader off with a secondary plot element that is overly written and so obviously a MaGuffin, is a disappointing act of Gardner’s.

Gardner also writes the novel as if the police force has shut down and taken a vacation. Law enforcement had lots of cause for pulling people in for questioning through out the book, but are not to be found until the end of the book. I hate it when a writer of this caliper writes like the readers are fools.

The characters lack definition and a few are so similar, at one point, I got them mixed up. Settings are simply detailed.

The highlight of the book is a trip to an old mining area, where Gardner shows energy with a well written setting, characters and a very good simple telling of the history of prospecting gold out west.

However, that shiny moment doesn’t save the book for me.

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

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My annual Black Friday paintings sale!

by on Nov.24, 2017, under What's New?

My annual Black Friday paintings sale!

Here’s the deal!

Just like the other paintings you’ve seen I’ve done, I will create an original watercolor painting based in a Florida park of your choice with critters involved in a humorous scene.

You could get one as a gift for someone or for yourself or something else. I will do my very best to hand deliver any paintings.

$100 for a 16″ x 20″ watercolor painting on Arches watercolor board.

$60 for a 11″ x 14″ watercolor painting on Arches watercolor board.

$35 for a 9″ X 12″ watercolor painting on Arches watercolor board.

This offer is good from now until midnight Sunday night.

You can leave the request in a private message or e-mail: projects@robsmithjr.com. Feel free to call me to request, also: (407) 880-1128.

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I’ve been drawing bunnies and mice! – November 21st, 2017

by on Nov.21, 2017, under Cartooning, Illusration

Here’s a peek at my annual Christmas card in progress! A bunny and a mouse. More to come!

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Book: ‘After the First Death’ by Lawrence Block

by on Nov.19, 2017, under Books

After the First DeathAfter the First Death by Lawrence Block
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I’m a recent fan of Block’s work. This is an example that I need to add *some* of Block’s work. I wasn’t nutty about this moody, dark tale. The ending didn’t help – Especially in that I never doubted what it would be.

The writing is certainly better than most all done today. But the plot is lacking. There are good elements in it, but seems Block was on a tear punching out books and this may have been a victim of speed. The idea that a man is wanted for murder and then runs pretty freely around as if the police have closed shop for vacation, is not good writing. And there is a part involving a Hide-A-Key that seems to be a trap door Block used to get out of a plotting problem.

The characters; drunks, prostitutes, etc.; are standard for this type of book.

Bottom line: I don’t recommend this book. 5 out of ten points.

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I’ve been coloring Santa Claus! – November 18th, 2017

by on Nov.18, 2017, under Cartooning

Here’s a colored version of the inked version I posted last week! This is only part of a larger illustration for a client to use to advertise their Christmas party.

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Book: ‘Wiregrass Country’ by Muncy G. Chapman – November 18th, 2017

by on Nov.18, 2017, under Books

Wiregrass CountryWiregrass Country by Muncy G. Chapman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a very well written novel that surprises me to not have reached a larger audience. It’s not Steinbeck, but certainly in range of Patrick Smith, just with a less sprawling of time story.

This well captures the flavor of what I know of 1920s Florida. The cattle efforts may be a bit larger in this novel than was possible at the time, but the efforts of those establishing ranches sure follow historical documentation. Same is true of the efforts to rustle cattle and interactions with the Seminoles.

The characters are very well written. It’s tough to follow history and create characters that fit a historic narrative and have it all well ring true. The Chapmans do that here. Seems I could tell when Muncy Chapman was helping with the writing involving the ladies involved.

The settings are overly simple. It’s known travel was much more difficult just from the 1820s and the 1970s. The Chapmans skirt that and seem not to be have read much of Bartram or actually been in our natural areas.

One thing that bothered me is this ends with the idea of continuing to another book. As it turned out that 2nd book is even more difficult to find.

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

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Book: ‘Cats Prowl at Night’ by A.A. Fair – November 13th, 2017

by on Nov.15, 2017, under Books

Cats Prowl at NightCats Prowl at Night by A.A. Fair
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

So far, my favorite entry in the Cool and Lam series. Bertha is on her own here and the bad guys better watch out!

Gardner is obviously having a good time playing with the Bertha cool character in this book. Seeing how far to take her and maintain a good story. He pushs the characters in all sorts of areas and it really makes the story come alive. I would have liked this to have continued into other volumes and drop the mystery thing and see what other trouble Gardner might have stuck her in.

The plotting is typical Gardner: Somewhat convoluted and overly complicated. It’s the writing that makes this a page turner, even if, at times, you weren’t sure what you were turning for. I’d mostly figured key elements early on and really didn’t care to see what happened to Bertha next.

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

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