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Tag: book

July 1st, 2014 – Book: ‘Courage of the Mountain Man’ by William W. Johnstone.

by on Jul.01, 2014, under Books

Courage of the Mountain Man (Mountain Man, #10)Courage of the Mountain Man by William W. Johnstone

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

As usual the writing is good and the characterizations are very good. It’s just that it’s much same plot as so many of the Smoke Jensen series. Town taken over, Smoke comes to save the day. The bad guy is getting really repeated as another who kills puppies and eats children, or something along those lines.

What’s really disappointing is not even a twist in the story. There are a few alteration of characters, but that is all to lead to a conclusion we ‘Mountain Man’ readers know too well. Seems to me one alteration was Smoke in general. Smoke, seems to me, acting very different in this book from how he handles the bad guys and the interaction with other characters. This could be a sign of a different ghost writer.

Another trouble is the length of this one. I think about a third could’ve been cut out and focus more on the sheriff and Smoke and make this a tighter volume. There’s way too much nearly identical narrative and dialog from other books.

The volume before this, ‘Pursuit of the Mountain Man’, was a terrific diversion from this town takeover template and I hope the other volumes I’ve hunted down take more the ‘Pursuit’ trail.

Bottom line: Well, I see I need to have two.
1) If you’ve been reading the ‘Mountain Man’ series – No, don’t read it. This is more of the same.
2) If you haven’t read any or little of the series, Yes, read it.

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June 25th, 2014 – Book: ‘Hickory Dickory Death’ by Agatha Christie.

by on Jun.25, 2014, under Books

Hickory Dickory DeathHickory Dickory Death by Agatha Christie

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

‘Hickory Dickory Death’ is a nice mystery with a slew of suspects, but a suspect plot. Hercule Poirot rather stumbles into what seems to be a mere issue of theft until turning into murder. His involvement seems a bit of a stretch to begin with, but as the story goes the narrative seems less Poirot and more the authorities as if Poirot seemed more interested in the theft than the deaths.

There area long string of suspects that Christie does her best to discern, but still seems a bit too similar and that confused me while reading. In today’s radicalism view of political correctness, it’s likely younger folks will needlessly cringe at Christie’s attempt to distinguish her characters. It is not one world. We are not one people. Unfortunately, Christie doesn’t do enough to kick up a notch the differences.

Something else Christie doesn’t expound enough about is the basis of the solution to the mystery. There’s a lot to it and could have been far better defined involving dangers which leads to murder.

The writing is good as Chrisite is, but she sets too much up with the assumption that all know Poirot. The rest of the plot becomes far too convoluted due to what i commented about above. There’s a very good plot here and the underlying mystery has been done many times. Just done far better than Christie has done. Though, in that this is from 1955, Christie is early in handling subject matter far more common today.

Christie is a legend and i hate to write this involving legends, but…
Bottom line: i don’t recommend this book.

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June 21st, 2014 – Book: ‘Spanish Bayonet’ by Stephen Vincent Benet.

by on Jun.22, 2014, under Books

Spanish BayonetSpanish Bayonet by Stephen Vincent Benét

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a very well told tale of Florida in the late 1700s. So much is historically accurate, as we know it. The writing is beyond superb. So much care is taken in describing scenes and people. There is a bit of over writing in certain parts, but they are well-written certain parts.

The best part of this book is that it is so very far from the formulaic style of today. My head started to carry the story forward with various typical, cliched outcomes of novels today, but this story has it’s own path to take. None of the Politically Correct entrapments and censors are around to get in Benet’s way to tell a terrific story.

I do wish the story wrapped up differently. It’s a bit short.

The story is about a landowner’s family that grows indigo, amongst other things, has a Minorcan harvesting crew and a guest that enters the scene from overseas and finds himself in more than he bargained for. All is set during British occupation of Florida on the heals of the American Revolution.

Interesting to note is that author Benet’s grandfather was a St. Augustine native of Minorcan decent. Would love to know more about that and if any of this story stems from family legend that might have become part of this book.

Bottom line: I recommend this book.

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June 16th, 2014 – Book: ‘Many Happy Returns: A Bicentennial Salute to SchoolsMany Happy Returns: A Bicentennial Salute to Schools’ by Retired Teachers Association of Florida

by on Jun.16, 2014, under Books

Many Happy Returns: A Bicentennial Salute to SchoolsMany Happy Returns: A Bicentennial Salute to Schools by Retired Teachers Association of Florida

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Want to know what teaching was like between around 1900 to 1976? Read this collection of recollections of teachers from all over Florida. This book was produced by the Florida Retired Teachers Association and does a fantastic job of collecting so many stories from so many teachers.

Interesting the many references to the less disciplined students of the mid-1970s compared to those taught decades earlier. Really brings home just how awful the classroom has gotten today.

This book should be required reading for upcoming teachers who want to understand the profession. Where it came from and where it is now.

Obviously, the Association was constricted by whoever turned in stories and so there are a few areas missing. Almost nothing mentioned of teaching in the Keys. There’s a section that is almost entirely made up of teachers from Broward County. Considering there are stories from more obscure areas like Pace, Alva, Green Cover Springs, etc., this is a more thorough covering of the state than most are able to accomplish.

Bottom line: I recommend this book. Especially to anyone involved with education.

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Announcing Swampy’s Florida Kickstarter program!

by on May.27, 2014, under Cartooning, Florida History!, Florida Outdoors!, Swampy's Florida


Announcing a Swampy’s Florida Kickstarter program to get five Swampy’s Florida books produced! In the past three years I’ve produced 14 Swampy books, 37 prints, 2 DVDs and seven cards. There’s lots more to come! However, I’ve poured a ton of time in all of this and have more than run out of resources to produce more without backing. Funding will ensure more educational and activity books available to help young people know more about the great state of Florida.

Click here to head over to Kickstarter!

There’s a goal to get five funded by June 21st! Lots of goodies! I’ll even try to hand deliver the goodies if the donor falls within my travels this Fall.

The five books are:
-  Historical Women of Florida
- Florida History Puzzles and Games
- A Short History of  trains in Florida
- Birds of Florida
- Fish and Aquatic Life in Florida

All five will be coloring and travel guide books and able to be used in home schooling or just for fun!

There will be constant updates here as I build all five books.

But wait! There’s more!
There are four other books involved that are left over prior to the new arrangement with The Knowledge Exchange. These four will also be completed at the same time:
- Polk County- Titusville
- Dunnellon
- Marion County ABC
The funding will also loosen my time to wrap up these four books.

All will be available by Fall.

I hope you will help me in getting these books out and to beter help educate our young people of Florida’s incredible history, heritage and culture.

Thank you to The Knowledge Exchange, for so much help, and Dave Stewart, who produced the video on the site and gave sage advice, for all their help putting this together. I’ll have to share the video here as the next month goes along.

Thank you to all that donate to this project!
I’ll be posting updates here as this Kickstarter program continues!

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May 8th, 2014: What I am #Drawing: Preview of what happened this past week!

by on May.08, 2014, under Cartooning, What's New?


This week has been full of upheaval. It all started last Friday. I’ll post the story tomorrow.


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May 4th, 2014 – Book: ‘Blood Oath’ by William Johnstone.

by on May.05, 2014, under Books

Blood OathBlood Oath by William W. Johnstone

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is very grotesque book in that the descriptions of what the “bad guy” does is extremely graphic. Especially when realizing this book was written in 1982. I have to wonder why this wasn’t edited more to cut out what is clearly x-rated material. It’s not just one description. The crimes are repeated and the graphic description gets more and more horrid. This book is not for the squeamish. It is definitely not for children.

I need to judge this book’s story and how the above mixes with the plot. With that in mind I find the book to be good. As can be the case of Johnstone novels, the main characters are well drawn or drawn as needed to make the story more interesting or exciting.

This is a book early in Johnstone’s production that has me wondering, based on how it was written, if Johnstone was using ghost writers that early. ‘Blood Oath’ does not read at all like other books of that time with the Johnstone name on it. Similar crimes done in the books at this time, that I’ve read, have none of the extreme detail illustrated in ‘Blood Oath’. I believe he did use a ghost writer.

Something else different about this Johsntone book is that the ending is very well paced and satisfying. The ending is often wrapped very quickly in the Johnstone books I’ve read.

Botom line: I recommend it with the warning that this book is very graphic and not for children.

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April 29th, 2014 – Book: ‘Pursuit of the Mountain Man’ by William Johnstone.

by on Apr.29, 2014, under Books

Pursuit of the Mountain Man (Mountain Man, #9)Pursuit of the Mountain Man by William W. Johnstone

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Smoke Jensen series has been uneven as I’ve gone through the series in order. his one is one of he best. It helps a lot if the Smoke Jensen character is already known of, it seems to me. The crowd hot on Jensen’s trail makes far more sense with prior knowledge of the series.

Though, the bad guys are pretty standard bad guys, there are a set of other characters that are great additions. A set of surveyors and other government employees pop up as Jensen makes his way cross country trying to avoid the lynch mob.

As usual, the characters are well written and the story is paced very well. The story is basically a chase story, but well done. No big surprises, which would have been a nice addition.

Bottom line: I recommend this book.

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April 29th, 2014 – Cover art for upcoming Swampy’s Florida Free Comic Book Day comic.

by on Apr.29, 2014, under Cartooning, Swampy's Florida


Here’s the cover art for the upcoming Swampy’s Florida comic book for Free Comic Book Day on May 3rd. This mini-comic is a short story of Swampy and better establishes that he has been around for a loooooong time. This story takes place in 1898 in Tampa. You’ll have to read the story to learn more.

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April 19th, 2014 – Book: ‘The Secret Soldier’ by Alex Berenson.

by on Apr.19, 2014, under Books

The Secret Soldier  (John Wells, #5)The Secret Soldier by Alex Berenson

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I’m against the tide of the majority of reviews praising this volume of John Wells fictitious life. Maybe it’s timing that affected my experience reading the book. I also wonder if it’s that I accidently bypassed the volume before this, The Midnight House, that has gotten poor reviews. Whatever the case, I found this book far over written. It’s great when an author has a lot of background for a novel, but that author doesn’t have to put it all in one volume. To me, the book dragged horribly with the excess. This is a complaint I have with the majority of contemporary writers I’ve read. I just hadn’t experienced so much coming from Berenson. A good dose of studying Agatha Christie might help. But, I have a feeling the publisher needs to build a $9.99 book and wants the overdone writing.

I happen to be reading a Frank Slaughter novel at the same time which has plenty of excess. But it’s so beautifully written and so cogent to the storyline, that it works so very well. Being a better writer would’ve greatly helped Berenson’s extra loads in this. Slaughter is so good that I’m very slowly taking in each line and paragraph. At this rate, I could take a year reading Slaughter’s book and find it time well invested. I found myself wanting to read through The ‘Secret Soldier’ faster just to get it out of the way. It was pretty obvious how the book was going to end and, sad to write, there were no twists to make the reading journey interesting or fun.
There is a very good story intertwined in so much else. I wish the book was better assembled to make it enjoyable. There are also some other specifics in the story that bother me, like use of a cell phone, navigating a boat in a certain area, an oddly handled partner for Wells. Seems if a writer is going to over write, maybe fix some other sloppy writing first.

One other thing. There is an odd similarity to the basis of this book that is similar to an episode of ‘The Rockford Files’ where even a couple character names are the same. As an editorial cartoonist, I certainly know how duplication exists when creating a story. It just happens. Just found the similarity interesting and thought I’d mention it.

Bottom line: I don’t recommend this book.

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