Rob's Blog


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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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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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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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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