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Book: ‘A Guilty Thing Surprised’ by Ruth Rendell by April 19th, 2017

by on Apr.19, 2017, under Books

A Guilty Thing SurprisedA Guilty Thing Surprised by Ruth Rendell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Rendell’s ‘A Guilty Thing Surprised’ begins as a very good mystery but ends with a thud.

Rendell sets up the story in a section of town with a small bundle of characters and proceeds through each forth and back again recording their story. The characters are good and the plotting seems well done. Then Rendell wraps up the last few pages with a weird little messy solution that, seemed to me, a desperate way to end a story differently.

The setting is well done and, otherwise plotted well.

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

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Book: ‘Heartstones’ by Ruth Rendell – April 17th, 2017

by on Apr.17, 2017, under Books

HeartstonesHeartstones by Ruth Rendell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

‘Heartstones’ by Ruth Rendell is a haunting tale that is brilliantly written. All seems to start well enough, if not a bit off kilter. As the story goes along all turns and turns and turns. Finish this just before bed and you may being turning a lot in bed.

I try to keep my reviews void of any actual story, but have to remark of the change of the main character and what a terrific job Rendell does. i marvel at how Rendell took me from a view of the main character to something else altogether. This book is near towards a horror story and certainly no standard mystery. In that I despise horror or science fiction, which i see as one in the same, and place the rating I have indicates how much this book caught me in it’s writing and plot.

It might’ve been nice if the story fleshed out a bit more. But am certain the book would have far less impact if longer.

A side note of the backward thinking of today: Younger people might have trouble with this book in that psychological problems are at issue. The silly idea that you are what you say you are and one lives only for the moment, that is favored today, would have one leave this book wondering what had happened at the end and not understanding the book at all. A great point of discussion for a book group.

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

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Book: ‘Mr. Zero’ by Patricia Wentworth – April 17th, 2017

by on Apr.17, 2017, under Books

Mr. ZeroMr. Zero by Patricia Wentworth
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This mystery is sure not as complicated as the Ian Rankin I just finished. It’s a nice and easy mystery with better characters than Rankin’s but a light tale.

I like how Rendell played a lot of literary games involving a sheath of various papers in a who’s-got-it fashion. This was written as World War II was well brewing all around her and that influence was evident. The characters involved are all very well written. Especially the dingy Sylvie. I can’t imagine writing someone like her as well as Rendell did. She must have known one just like her. Sylvia added quite a bit of levity to the entire story.

The story is paced well with so much pointing to one as being the bad guy all the while narratively telling us where he really was. Rendell could’ve inverted that effort as someone like Rankin had, but her approach is more realistic and puts the reader in two places at once.

The writing could’ve been stronger at points. Maybe this was a bit rushed. Nevertheless…

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

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Book: ‘Resurrection Men’ by Ian Rankin – April 15th, 2017

by on Apr.15, 2017, under Books

Resurrection Men (Inspector Rebus, #13)Resurrection Men by Ian Rankin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is my first Rankin novel read. I was concerned the length would have me emerged in another contemporary over written book. The book is over involved with too much character introspection and not enough setting description. But, the whole mountain of words is built up to a peak of a very good conclusion.

The character development is probably the best part of the book. Though there are many, many characters and there are those with very similar names and multiple nicknames that makes the plot hard to follow at times. There is a character list at the beginning of the book, but if that is felt to be needed, maybe some editing should have been done.

The Rebus character is a somber one. Odd that the one thing that gave levity to the character got irritating and, i felt, unneeded, was the soon predictable joshing that occurred throughout. All getting back to editing.

Well, after writing all of this and seeing all of the ‘but’s I wrote of, I want to note this is a good book with lots of nifty parts throughout the book and a satisfying ending so that…

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

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Book: ‘It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be’ by Paul Arden – April 11th, 2017

by on Apr.11, 2017, under Books

It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want To BeIt’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be by Paul Arden
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a simply constructed piece of idea way outside the boxes of today. Arden lays out his views of creativity and how best to use it, if it is understood to begin with. Despite the simplicity, there are complex viewpoints laid out and probably should have had a separate book to flesh the ideas out.

The only one I entirely disagree with is that creativity needs no experience, which flies into the face of what creativity is. The more experience of all around one, the more to play with to develop new and more brilliant concepts. My experience has been those lacking knowledge regurgitate the same tired ideas over and over and over again. Yes, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to come up with advertising brilliance, but you do need to be able to think.

Yet, as presented, his view of not needing knowledge to be creative is wrapped up in a sentence that deserved a book.

Something that might lose non-British readers are the use of very British terms, brands and other things. Might need to look up a few mentions from this volume.

Overall this is a different book trying to get folks to think differently and it works well.

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

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Book: ‘The Jewel That Was Ours’ by Colin Dexter – April 6th, 2017

by on Apr.06, 2017, under Books

The Jewel That Was Ours (Inspector Morse, #9)The Jewel That Was Ours by Colin Dexter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another wonderful mystery by Colin Dexter involving Inspector Morse, Lewis, Oxford and a string of suspects. This one with a more readable offshoots that might, or might not have something to do with the central mystery.

I like the usually setup for the mystery and how Morse, Lewis and all try to work out clues. As usual, great characters. The series of crimes that occurs also enhances the story as Dexter intermingles the situations involving all and the crimes and what is the truth. Lots and lots of guessing can be done by the reader, though the ending is likely to escape you.

One complaint would be Dexter’s depiction of Americans, which he didn’t have a good handle of involving the dialogue.

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

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Book: ‘A Dangerous Man’ by William W. Johnstone – April 2nd, 2017

by on Apr.02, 2017, under Books

A Dangerous Man: A Novel of William A Dangerous Man: A Novel of William “Wild Bill” Longley by William W. Johnstone
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well, i believe i have come across the best written of any – ANY – Johnstone Clan book I’ve read – around 70.

This is so good that this must be a new writer in the Johnstone stable. Certainly the most competent. Great plotting, terrific settings, excellent writing, wonderful characters. Unfortunately, due to it being part of the Johnstone Clan, it’s unlikely to be known any more than it is.

The best part of the writing of this book had so many hints of Steinbeck of the setting descriptions. Often i could feel the cold that whipped around. The creaking structure as a character walked. A lone dog trotting along a wagon in the slushy snow. Just wonderful additions, usually not found in a Johnstone book, that illuminate the entirety.

The story is also more complex with a lot to sink into. The bounty hunter, the killer, the store owner, the new Sheriff, the mysterious woman, a large dog and more mystery is combined and well written enough to draw a reader in. Seems the one before this one is just as good. i look forward to it.

Here’s a time i wish i knew who the actual author is. Likely will leave the Clan at some point and have to figure out if i can find the author again.

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

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Book: ‘Florida’s Power Structure’ by Lee Butcher – March 25th, 2017

by on Mar.25, 2017, under Books, Florida History!

Florida's Power StructureFlorida’s Power Structure by Lee Butcher
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

‘Florida’s Power Structure’ is solidly planted from the perspective of the publication year, 1976, and those who published the book, pro-business, Florida Trend magazine. Thus tons are ignored. Specifically those pork barrel politicians who still had a strong hold on the direction of Florida. There is a half page mention, but otherwise ignored. Also ignored are the scandals and corruption of the banking community still emanating from the ’26-’28 crash in 1976. Though footnoted, little is examined of the corruption of scores of developers that was dynamically shifting the “Power Structure” in 1976.

Despite the author steering around reality, the overview of the selected “Power Structure”is very good with background of individuals and what they have accomplished. The entire state is well represented. Something collections, almost entirely magazine articles, like this tend not to do. The view point is almost entirely if you are trying to generate money, whether that happened or not, thus you are part of the “Power Structure”.

An important note is this book is the only books I know of that makes this kind of examination of the “Power Structure”, however limited, of the entire state of Florida with this kind of, though limited, depth. There are lots of lists, regional studies, biographies of power brokers, but none, that i can think of now, that is as comprehensive.

The writing is very simple and straight forward. With a very easy to understand layout of the book. To an extent, this book has a feel of a book of history for the primary school population.

Understanding this is a limited view….

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

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Death of Author Colin Dexter – March 24th, 2017

by on Mar.24, 2017, under Books







I think you all know I’m a nut about books of all sorts. I was very sad to learn of the death of British author, Colin Dexter Tuesday. He is best known for his series of books featuring irascible, beer swilling, Wagner loving Inspector Morse. He is in the upper pantheon of British mystery writers like Dorothy Sayers, Edmund Crispin, Agatha Christie, P.D. James, and few others.

I found Dexter’s writing with the flavor of Edmund Crispin and his main character of his mysteries, Gervase Fen. The stories had a trail to follow, but the main character managed to get diverted for one reason or the other. The mysteries were complex with clever and sometimes even more complex solutions. The various other characters that populated Dexter’s, and Crispin’s, novels were distinct and often as interesting as the main characters. Both wrote only as much of a set of books they wanted and then quit. A brave move to walk away from a series. Dexter’s series became far better known and lived on due to three popular television series involving the Morse series characters.

The photo above is from the back of one of his books along with the entire Dexter set in my library.






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Book: ‘Neither Dies Nor Surrenders’ by Peter Klingman – March 21st, 2017

by on Mar.21, 2017, under Books

Neither Dies Nor Surrenders: A History of the Republican Party in Florida, 1867-1970Neither Dies Nor Surrenders: A History of the Republican Party in Florida, 1867-1970 by Peter Klingman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book has an unbelievable amount of great history that is nearly impossible to find anywhere else. It has a perspective not found in books written from the Democrat angle. It’s just a mess of a book. Poorly written and thought out.

According to the preface by the person who initially had the concept of the book is that he is a Republican, but chose a Democrat to actually write the book. I can only figure these two had communication problems and the struggles to mete out the issues led to the muddled approach to the entire book.

There are boat loads of names that are referenced but in a variety of ways too often with little context. Too often national figures are referenced to possibly local, state or national. The entire book is buoyed by political references that most don’t know the definition of and there are no definitions in the body of the book.

The benefits are the well referenced and footnoted facts that are not to be found in other histories of politics and history of Florida. Eye opening and refreshing. So much so a researcher reading this should struggle through the text and make it to the end.

Bottom line: i recommend the book – for research purposes. Not for general reading. 5 out of 5 points

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Book: ‘Modesty Blaise’ by Peter O’Donnell – March 18th, 2017

by on Mar.18, 2017, under Books

Modesty BlaiseModesty Blaise by Peter O’Donnell
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I loved the comic strip, Modesty Blaise, written by this same author. The illustration work was incredible! Was i ever tickled at Christmas time of 2016 coming across 8 – that’s right, 8 – volumes of the Blaise series. 25 cents each, to boot! A Christmas present! I can now read the wonderful writing from the comic trip in book form!…….was I ever wrong.

What a slogging mess. The entire book is more and over written introduction of the characters with a bit of adventure tucked away. If you can get that far. Way, way, way too much self-examination written in that gets more and more ponderous. Why was I reading about Willie Garvin’s motivations over and over and over again?

The book starts as if 20 volumes precede it with how the Modesty kid had run some organization for a few years. Though it’s written as if she ran the group for decades. O’Donnell continues writing about Blaise’s co-hort and how he is in trouble and she goes about saving him. The action part are handful of pages in the midst of 50. The main mission is something about diamonds that really doesn’t make much sense. More perplexing is with all of this introspection being written, what really compels the Blaise character to chase after the diamonds is not revealed. There’s some clever bits written of how the diamonds are going to be swiped. Collectively none of it makes sense. except Blaise is 26 and might be so immature to chase whatever carrot put in front of her.

There’s also much silliness of Blaise being in her 20s and living the contents of a life 60 years old. Also how brilliant she was with all she learned in ten years. Ten years? Sheesh!

Thus the plotting was horrible, the writing OK and …

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

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