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Book: ‘I Have Gloria Kirby’ by Richard Himmel – July 7th, 2017

by on Jul.07, 2017, under Books

I Have Gloria KirbyI Have Gloria Kirby by Richard Himmel
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A pretty standard tale well written and with very good characters and dialogue. I really liked the book, but the tale is well traveled territory and rather forgettable.

The main character is particularly well done as he struggles with the past, present and future with well written honesty. Same with the Gloria Kirby character and others. The bad guys are portrayed to such a realistic point that it’s hard to be really angry at them and their badness decreases making the end less dramatic.

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

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Book: ‘Damned are the Meek’ by Stuart Friedman – July 7th, 2017

by on Jul.07, 2017, under Books

Damned are the MeekDamned are the Meek by Stuart Friedman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book has an interesting story about three siblings trying to make it on their own with nothing going their way. This leads to risks taken and prices paid for those chances.

I didn’t understand when i pulled this book from the staff that it was heavy with sexual parts, something I try to avoid and big reason i don’t rea contemporary novels. It’s wedged into this story in an annoying way that only damages the whole.

The actual story and the sexual parts are individually written well, but together is an unbalanced story. The combination leads to an abrupt ending that makes the reader wonder what is the real end.

The characters are good and the dialogue is very good. Settings are also well done. As written, the writing is otherwise good. it’s the forced sex that downs the book.

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

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Book: ‘The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success’ by Deepak Chopra – July 5th, 2017

by on Jul.05, 2017, under Books

The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success: A Practical Guide to the Fulfillment of Your DreamsThe Seven Spiritual Laws of Success: A Practical Guide to the Fulfillment of Your Dreams by Deepak Chopra

What absolute hooey! How did this useless mess get published? This light volume has as much weight as 101 uses for a Dead Cat, with less depth.

Written in a I’m Superior Than You but Won’t Tell You Why style, this tiny waste tacks 7 typical motivational laws found in thousands of volumes of Get Rich Quick tapes, films, books, websites, etc. The “author” then dresses the 7 in some superstitious Hindu hoodoo, never explaining the actual relevance of any of the 7. Basically, follow these …or else!

The writing is sophomoric with no intellectual value. Want this same book better written, explained and by someone with depth? Read Mortimer Adler’s ‘Six Great Ideas’, Bertrand Russell’s ‘Conquest of Happiness’ and so many more. Read a real philosopher and not some TV quack after a quick buck.

Bottom line: This is intellectually dishonest garbage not fit to rate.

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Book: ‘Murder Packs a Suitcase’ by Cynthia Baxter – July 4th, 2017

by on Jul.04, 2017, under Books

Murder Packs a Suitcase (Murder Packs a Suitcase, #1)Murder Packs a Suitcase by Cynthia Baxter
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

My goodness, when a well intentioned novel is being put together, this is excellent proof that all can go wrong. I can read the effort to prepare and research and plan quirks in the plot to give the book a strong foundation. But poor writing and a sloppy understanding of travel writing digs a grave for ‘Murder Packs a Suitcase’.

Since I was married to a travel writer, hung out with travel writers, went to many travel writer gatherings and do some travel writing of my own, I know a bit about the subject. Obviously the writer does not. That would be OK, but she should have talked to a travel writer for some idea what happens. Travel writers rarely move in packs to write a story for the very reason of competition. A series of competing magazines knows better than to send their writers all at the same time to Florida or all of their magazines would have similar stories coming out all at the same time. Travel writers gathering as colleagues is something else. We went to travel writer gatherings with the side intent of getting a story, but didn’t tell the others about it to get that certain angle.

Adding to the above is the writer poor writing of the book. All of the characters questioned freely give any information asked. Despite the person asking is a just a writer. She is no part of law enforcement, has no idea where in the world she is and has no motivation involving her job to have experience questioning people. How the writer jumps to the conclusion the reader will buy all of this is preposterous.

The writers inability to write has the characters with similar dialogue making them all similar, with only physical descriptions to set them apart. Then there is the nasty habit of each knowing all sorts of trivia as if reading from an encyclopedia…or copied from one. There are lots of inconsistencies throughout. At one point the main character’s editor claims to stumbled over the story of a murder. Within a page the main character learns the story is splashed all over the news all over the country. How did the magazine editor miss that?

Also, the quotes opening each chapter are trite and irritating.

About Florida: Making all this worse is her lack of understanding Orlando, Orange County, etc.
There are all kinds of names of places that are wrong. Seems most are to simplify to include the Orlando name, though all are actually not in Orlando. Most these days don’t know most all of the Central Florida tourism areas are not in Orlando, which is a small city in a huge county.

There are lots of details that drove me crazy. Like the main character walking by herself in Cypress Gardens. That was beyond impossible. It was a small place with eyes watching everywhere at all times, besides all of the employees about. Something about two haunted houses nearly side by side. A difficulty in zoning, parking, stormwater issues and just trying to make a buck. No investor would’ve let it happen either.

The worse part was the main character looking for “Old Florida” with ZERO understanding what that term means. To us natives, it means a lot. Just about anybody at Gatorland could’ve told her. Did she never speak to Tim Williams there? How on earth could that not have happened?

Dinosaur World is NOT “Old Florida”. It’s in the old Florida area of Thonotosassa, but otherwise barely 20 years old. Old Florida would have sent her to any of our state parks in Central Florida, Beefy King, Lake Eola, etc. of course, that is old Orlando, not old Florida. She was told to write of Old Florida and went after Anything Orlando in a Tourist Area.

I noticed the author claimed to speak to Liz Langley at the Orlando Weekly. i would think Liz could’ve straightened her out. Unless the communication was done through e-mail which would explain the problem of communication.

Did the writer know a character she has in her book, Phil Diamond, was also the name, at the time, of a City of Orlando City Commissioner?

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

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Book: ‘Deadly Lady Of Madagascar’ by Frank G. Slaughter – June 30th, 2017

by on Jun.30, 2017, under Books

Deadly Lady Of MadagascarDeadly Lady Of Madagascar by Frank G. Slaughter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The title is a melodramatic turn for this tale of piracy on the high seas. If a reader would like to have a feel for life as a pirate over 200 years ago, this will help a great deal.

As usual Slaughter work towards details of history and works hard to place the reader in the midst of wherever his tales are set. the settings are extraordinary in writing. As the tale starts in a very young New York the reader will be a part of the cobblestone streets, dampness of air, and enclosure to a smothering set of structures of the time. Later, the reader can feel the vast seas as a ship sails into storms that are wet and windy. My writing stinks to describe what Slaughter writes with seemingly ease. Dive in to capture the lifestyle of a pirate.

Trouble for Slaughter in this book is also typical of his work: A trifle of a romantic plot. Basically this novel is like a Harlequin plot in a very well written setting. This is also certainly a pirate’s slice of life.

The main characters are very well written, with supporting characters getting minor or stereotyped treatment. There is a secondary dwarf character that is very interesting and i wish Slaughter had unveiled more about him.

Bottom line: i recommend this book. 8 out of 10 points.

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Book: ‘Cunning of the Mountain Man’ by William W. Johnstone – June 28th, 2017

by on Jun.28, 2017, under Books

Cunning of the Mountain Man (Mountain Man, #14)Cunning of the Mountain Man by William W. Johnstone
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This Mountain Man entry is the 20th of the series I’ve read and one of the best of the series and most of the Johnstone Clan books. It’s treading over much traveled plots by the Johnstone Clan. This one does the trek considerably better than the rest.

The characters are of typical thorough Johnstone quality. Better still is the narrative and the well illustrated settings. The narrative is cleverly written with language many notches above what is typically found in a Johnstone book.

Though the plot has been written many times in a Johnstone book, this one adds quite a number of extra elements better fleshing out everything a typical Johnstone book does not. The ending is too much typical of western novels. There are the continued consistency problems involving Smoke’s family that bug me more than those should. Couldn’t someone keep a flow chart of Smoke’s tiny family to pass among the writers?

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

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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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