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Book: ‘The Toff Goes to Market’ by John Creasey – June 25th, 2017

by on Jun.25, 2017, under Books

The Toff Goes to MarketThe Toff Goes to Market by John Creasey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I like reading the Creasey books because my mother loved reading them. I wonder if she liked this one?

There’s a good story here with lots of good characters and well written setting. However, the actual writing of the plot is too muddled to make a good book. The story dodges from one element to the next with poor elements of writing and makes the book often confusing. Adding that the interaction between the good guy vs all is entirely too cordial. Except those who are pre-written as bad guys. Varying the dialogue would have made the book more interesting instead of the segregated cast.

Since i know a bit of the black market during World War Ii, and now, that was well delineated. I wonder while Creasey was trying to chastise the black market he got lost assembling this story?

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

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Book: ‘Saddle Tramp’ by Clint Hawkins – June 20th, 2017

by on Jun.22, 2017, under Books

Saddle TrampSaddle Tramp by Clint Hawkins
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was surprised to find i am the first to leave a review of any of this ‘Saddle Tramp’ series. I came across 4 in the series just a week ago and thought I’d give the first in the series a spin. The first is not a stand out book. A pretty typical western that has less plot than gun fire.

The main character, Wade Calhoun, is quickly identified as the series title says. As would happen to a rover, he arrives in a town, something happens and the gun fire soon follows. Pretty simple character, plot and story. The writing is OK. The settings are OK. The other characters are standard.

For a reader of classics, this book will likely be burned for it’s relatively empty content. For others it is a fun little way to pass the day.

Bottom line: i recommend this book. 5 out of 10 points.

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Book: ‘Honor of the Mountain Man’ by William W. Johnstone – June 19th, 2017

by on Jun.19, 2017, under Books

Honor of the Mountain Man (Mountain Man, #20)Honor of the Mountain Man by William W. Johnstone
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

It was easy to recognize this Johnstone Clan writer. Whoever it is keeps Pearlie & Cal and drops Bobby. Also the cursing is prevalent. First in the series i recall to use, more than once, the “F” word. Generally the dialogue is more late 2oth century than late 19th. Also the sexual content increases with this writer.

This is one of the worse in the entire Johnstone Clan books. The actual writing is not all that bad. It’s the plotting and strong inconsistency in the Smoke Jensen series that dunks this book. What’s wild is that the title, as usual disconnected with the book, is hard to find in the book. The dressed up good guys perform so many dis-honorable acts, it is hard to see Smoke as a good guy at all.

Not that the book has to have good guys or bad guys for a first time reader. It was hard for me to root for either side and found myself wishing both sides would leave the town alone.

I forgot to write this is still another “treeing” of a town book. How is it the rest of the Johnstone Clan series can find other plots to present and the Smoke Jensen series is almost 75% about “treeing’ towns. This is the 19th in the series I’ve read.

The character development is there. Too much there via flashbacks. There are far too many flashbacks to other books that have no relation to the actual plot, if you want to call it that. I wonder if the flashbacks were originally part of the book or if, due to the excessive violence in the book, the flashbacks were added to calm things a bit.

About the violence: there is a lot and not for a reader in the midst of dinner. Sure there was violence in battle and it can be written. Violence can also be written with less sensation and anger as is presented here. This, along with the cursing, is a huge divergence from the Smoke Jensen series. Maybe this shoulda been written as part of another series? Or was it and converted for Smoke Jensen? Whatever the reason it is all poorly handled and most is repeated over and over again.

Bottom line: I don’t recommend this book: 3 out of 10 points.

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Book: ‘Triumph of the Mountain Man’ by William W. Johnstone – June 17th, 2017

by on Jun.17, 2017, under Books

Triumph of the Mountain Man (Mountain Man, #18)Triumph of the Mountain Man by William W. Johnstone
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the 18th book I’ve read in the Smoke Jensen series and found that far too many of these are only about “treeing”, or taking over, a town. Here is still another and one of the better. There is far more substance to this entry in the Smoke Jensen Treeing Town series than others. There’s more character development and an entire side story of, Smoke’s wife, Sally with her troubles at home.

Most all of the other Treeing stories are rather illogical and preposterous. This is in that zone, too, but has far more logical efforts to protect the town and logical results. There is also a really good allegory that has was a strong part of the early Johnstone work. As the various series has worn on, that theme has been very dampened. This book is of a controlling interest in a town AND it’s townspeople. To, basically, enslave them. There are comparisons throughout the book, yet no direct connection to contemporary life. Though it’s hard to miss the connection of Big Business and Big Government making the people it’s subjects for it’s own selfish wants.

The writing is OK. The handling of the side Sally Jensen story is a bit clunky, though the meaning shines through. This book may be thought to be more preachy than it should be. That is what really set the Johnstone series apart from so many other books and drove to it’s success.

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

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Book: ‘Battle of the Mountain Man’ by William W. Johnstone – June 15th, 2017

by on Jun.15, 2017, under Books

Battle of the Mountain Man (Mountain Man, #21)Battle of the Mountain Man by William W. Johnstone
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This volume of Smoke jensen is more like the first books in the series. Books previous to this in the series mostly had Smoke as nearly a pacifist. In this, Smoke blows people away for suspicion.

I mostly like this version of Smoke, which does divert in strong ways from series previous to this and the many books outside the series. Here is the first volume, that i can recall, where Smoke curses…many times. Something hard to find in the hundreds of Johnstone novels. He’s also ruthless in his pursuit, which is far less in all of the other written versions.

This is among the inconsistencies. Smoke’s children missing, as usual. Smoke is written taking an odd disregard for his horse and more interest in alcohol than written before.

The narrative is written far more gruffly. Far less description of setting and interaction, except in battle. Otherwise, this is basically a book of chases in one form or another with an obvious conclusion. It’s all too smooth even for a Smoke Jensen book.

There are pages of pondering about Smoke’s mentor, Preacher, and if he is alive or dead and the like. All disjointed from the plot, if you want to call it that, of the book.

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

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Book: ‘The Last ‘by Ben Coes – June 14th, 2017

by on Jun.14, 2017, under Books

The Last Refuge (Dewey Andreas, #3)The Last Refuge by Ben Coes
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This series started so well and by this one, #3 in the series, has turned into just another America versus the anti-Americans in the Mid-East.

The first book was terrific in it’s telling of an attack upon our American electrical system. It was more reminiscent of the early authors of the espionage genre, Jack Higgins, Forsyth, Follett, etc., that had the bad guys be something other than mid-easterners bent on destroying anything important to America. I was hoping Coes would continue in this direction. But he didn’t.

Instead Coes trods over ground better done by too many others with the expected ending. The writing is good. The plotting couldn’t have been too hard, as it’s so much like so many others like it. The characters are almost all well written. except one – The main character, Dewey Andreas, was best written and explained in ‘Power Down’. Since the first book his story seems more watered down. Including what he looks like.

My largest complaint is the over writing. Typical of contemporary novels, which has me reading much older novels. About half could’ve been chopped out and had a better book.

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

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My New Illustrated Book – June 9th, 2017

by on Jun.09, 2017, under Books, Illusration

Here I am with author Kathleen Titra and her new children’s book, ‘Two Wet Squirrels’ illustrated by me. I love squirrels and it was fun drawing so many of them.

You can get your own copy of the playful squirrel story with a lesson, click here or below:


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Book: ‘What’s in the Dark’ by Ellery Queen – June 8th, 2017

by on Jun.08, 2017, under Books

What's in the DarkWhat’s in the Dark by Ellery Queen
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

A book too contrived and using too many standard mystery tricks, despite good characters, is best not to read.

‘What’s in the Dark’ starts early with pages of building layout and room descriptions as if to construct building plans than a mystery. Why the author didn’t better intersperse these descriptions is beyond me. The writing gets worse as the suspects to a murder are winnowed to only those on the floor of the building during a blackout. Though 21 floors up, the entire group are written as if they can’t leave. Or even try to escape. Yet leave two do to get food. Instead of escape a party ensues. A party? After a murder of one all knew? Worse is the far too obvious setup of a second murder.

With all the setup of 21st floor layout and reference throughout, the ending is a large let down.

The characters are a treat and the the only worthy part of the book. Though the sexual content is more explicit for a bad pulp novel. Also, again, wholly inappropriate considering a friend and colleague was murdered and laying nearby.

Botoom line I do not recommend this book. three out of ten points.

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Book: ‘The Reagan Persuasion’ by James C. Humes – June 3rd, 2017

by on Jun.03, 2017, under Books

The Reagan Persuasion: Charm, Inspire, And Deliver A Winning MessageThe Reagan Persuasion: Charm, Inspire, And Deliver A Winning Message by James C. Humes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is overall a slightly written view of how best to give a speech. Adding in lots of Reagan, Churchill, Eisenhower and many others.

I wonder if this might have been better written as two books. One as a how to give a speech and the other a collection of quotes and anecdotes involving famous speeches made. The effort, in this book, to weave the two together is clunkily pieced together. Added to the clunk are bold headings every few paragraphs. The layout of the book is not good.

There is much good advice throughout. Much can be found elsewhere. Though the overall approach could only be done by the author who was there and accumulated the stories included.

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

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Book: ‘Blood on the Mink’ by Robert Silverberg – June 2nd, 2017

by on Jun.02, 2017, under Books

Blood on the Mink (Hard Case Crime #106)Blood on the Mink by Robert Silverberg
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Three stories in one!

The first novel length story is a standard story of counterfeiters and the good guys out to thwart them. The story is well written with a nicely done complex web weaved by the good guy to catch a bunch of bad guys. The ladies involved are standard for a pulp tale. As is what happens to them. Overall a story to read during a rainy day.

The second tale is a throw away story. Obviously pure filler. Another counterfeiter tale of money and people. Fine to read this after the reading a story like the first.

The last is a really quick one where much happens in a few pages. Most of the story is a gun battle. I like how it was staged and the ending.

Bottom line: i recommend the book. 5 out of ten points.

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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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