Rob's Blog

Wednesday morning meeting! – January 3rd, 2018

by on Jan.03, 2018, under What's New?

Weekly Wednesday morning meeting with Tom Orr and John Horrighs, both of the opposite party, talkin’ politics, non-fiction books about Mencken & G.B.S., Civil War re-enactors, the old Tampa Q Morning Zoo, current Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber, Muhammad Ali’s pranks near Disney World, and the beginning of construction of the University of Miami.

Feel free to chime in about your memories of any of these.

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Book: ‘Mike Shayne’s 50th Case’ by Brett Halliday

by on Jan.02, 2018, under Books

Mike Shayne's 50th CaseMike Shayne’s 50th Case by Brett Halliday
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Imagine walking into a bookstore, seeing a Mike Shayne book and something about a 50th case. Then the book is opened, Mike Shayne can hardly be found and there’s no other reference to a 50th case. You’d have to wonder if the wrong cover was attached to the book or the publisher is desperate to milk a series for it’s every dime by sticking any story written and placing a Mike Shayne cover around it. The latter would best explain this book.

Making matters worse, the style of writing in this book is so much like so many authors use today. Extreme over writing. Especially involving descriptions of characters. As the book starts and goes on and on and on about a character that by 10 pages in of this short novel, I knew I was in trouble. More than half way in and a call is placed to Shayne asking for help. Shayne is written to accept, with no mention of Shayne’s obsession with financial exchange. As Shayne is plugged in the last sixth of the book, the ending is as obvious as it was within the first ten pages.

The story is badly plotted and thought out. The writing is strongest of the book. But how it is all put together. It is all too obvious.

About Florida setting: This ghost writer knows little of Florida and so keeps setting details to a minimum.

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

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Book: ‘The Robot Rocket’ by Carey Rockwell – December 28th, 2017

by on Dec.31, 2017, under Books

The Robot RocketThe Robot Rocket by Carey Rockwell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This last in the Tom Corbett series of books is a nicely written book with a great deal of science fiction technical know-how. Though all fiction mumbo-jumbo, it reads in a believable manner. The core plot seems complicated to me for young people, but excellently handled by the author in narrative and dialogue.

The characters are very well presented as are the sci-fi surroundings. I really like the interaction of the young people with conflcit and cooperation. Very well written.

All of the science fiction I see today, which I admit is little, should follow the lead of this book to present a story and not silly special effects. The latest mess of Star Wars is a perfect example.

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

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Book #100 for 2017: ‘Laugh-In Mod Mod World’ by Roy Doty – December 31st 2017

by on Dec.31, 2017, under Books

In the past couple of years, I’ve ended the year with cartoon books. This year I wrapped up with two. This is #2 –

Laugh-In Mod Mod World (#2)Laugh-In Mod Mod World by Roy Doty
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Roy Doty was a friend and I love his artwork. This is a great collection of his cartooning. The writing is another thing entirely. I wasn’t a fan of Laugh-In due to the awful humor and this reflects that. So, Doty did a great job aping the television program. It’s just the whole thing is hard to take in as being funny.

My rating for the artwork: 8 out of 10 points.
My rating for the writing: 2 out of 10 points.

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

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Book: ‘From Here to Maternity’ by Phil Hirsch

by on Dec.31, 2017, under Books

From Here to MaternityFrom Here to Maternity by Phil Hirsch
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a hilarious collection of gag cartoons of the maternity process.

There are tons of cartoon collection books. Most are so-so. This is solid and includes less known gag cartoons. Well known cartoonists like Earl Engleman and Don Orehek are included, too.

This is a dated set. All from the 1960s and reflects the hippie generation and the influx of birth control.

This is a perfect example of cartoons not being for children. This book is definitely not for children. Not one word of bad language or nudity. It’s the inference and subject matter that would lose the kiddie set.

Bottom line: I recommend this book (If you can find it): 10 out of 10 points.

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Book: ‘Three’s a Shroud’ by Richard S. Prather

by on Dec.31, 2017, under Books

Three's a ShroudThree’s a Shroud by Richard S. Prather
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Prather was brilliant with packing a solid story in few pages. Usually those numbered over 150 pages. This is 3 stories with in that number. All three excellent plots, great narrative and great endings.

Each story is more focused on the damsel in distress. Scott’s inability to think straight is well drawn in all three stories. That’s a highlight. As is that each and all damsels are not the same. Even the bad guys are depicted differently. How Prather does all this is quite a feat. A typical crutch to series writers and even to Prather is to have repeat characters. Scott’s pal, Chief Samson merely peeks into one of the three tales.

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

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Book: ‘How Full Is Your Bucket?’ by Tom Rath – December 28th, 2017

by on Dec.28, 2017, under Books

How Full Is Your Bucket?How Full Is Your Bucket? by Tom Rath
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

This is a mighty simple book to have such a long winded introduction. Basically all presented here has been spun into the “Gratitude” racket that is popular today. There’s a lot of needless exposition, additions to cut out, etc in the book, but it really comes down to the very simple idea of “Do Unto Others as they would do unto you”. Just keep repeating and live this phrase and skip this book.

Bottom line: i don’t recommend this book. 2 out of 10 points.

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Book: ‘Mangrove Island’ by Marjory Bartlett Sanger

by on Dec.28, 2017, under Books

Mangrove IslandMangrove Island by Marjory Bartlett Sanger
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sanger does an excellent job of portraying mangroves and the habit they live. The details are very good, but would certainly be over the heads of young people today who might read it. Heck, it’s over the head of most adults.

Having knowledge, myself, of the subject, I like the depiction of the seed to mangrove island process described. This part is extremely well done.

A major drawback of this book is lack of illustrations, drawn or photograph or map.

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

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Book: ‘In Such Good Company: Eleven Years of Laughter, Mayhem, and Fun in the Sandbox’ by Carol Burnett

by on Dec.27, 2017, under Books

In Such Good Company: Eleven Years of Laughter, Mayhem, and Fun in the SandboxIn Such Good Company: Eleven Years of Laughter, Mayhem, and Fun in the Sandbox by Carol Burnett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a fairly well written and very entertaining book of Carol Burnett’s CBS television program. As with most all book tumbling out by various celebrities, this book reads as the celebrity has dictated the book into a recording device and then transcribed. This leads to a book badly in need of a good writer.

The contents are well worth the writing, if one is a fan of the series. This book iks such an insiders look, that those not knowledgeable of the series will be lost. However, parts and entire sketch scripts are presented which is a bit of a retread for fans of the series.

The best part of this easy to read book are the inside stories of the cast and other celebrities that were part of the series.

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

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Book: ‘A Frontier Christmas’ by William W. Johnstone

by on Dec.26, 2017, under Books

A Frontier Christmas (Christmas, #4)A Frontier Christmas by William W. Johnstone
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Another in the Johnstone Clan of Christmas books weaving various characters from other books into a Yuletide theme. This one is a bit more involved having to do with a plaque that sets in.

The writing is a step down from typical Johnstone Clan novels. A plot with so many angles could’ve used one of the better ghost writers to handle the book. Something about the whole book, with all of it’s bad guys and threatening disease, lacked what should have been a significant amount of intrigue and drama.

There is clear effort to nail the characters and dialogue. That seems particularly true of the Duff MacCallister character, who’s series had started earlier in the year this book came out. This book almost seems an advertisement of the series.

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

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Book: ‘Mrs. Miracle’ by Debbie Macomber

by on Dec.25, 2017, under Books

Mrs. Miracle (Angelic Intervention #4)Mrs. Miracle by Debbie Macomber
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a light and fluffy Christmas tale that’s more about magic than Christmas. The characters are forgettable with the exception of Mrs. Miracle. The story is well done plot-wise.

A series of troubles that, over the pages of the book, are worked to solutions not necessarily earth-bound. Logic is long gone throughout the plot. Inconsistencies abound involving the magic actions. Macomber using these as literary tricks to solve the troubles she developed. Too bad she hadn’t better thought the entire angel thing out better.

All this gets to why I don’t care for science fiction.

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

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