My rating: 1 of 5 stars
Am I ever surprised that i found a book worse than the last Johnstone book I read a couple weeks ago. This is the 4th out of the last six Johnstone books I’ve disliked, this one being the worse. This is one of the worse I’ve read in a decade. I better check reviews and be sure to dip into a good one of the Johnstone clan or it’s going to be real difficult to continue with so many books I still have ahead of me in the various series.
This book is atrociously written. One thing that writers are taught is to cover the who, what, why and how in a story. However, don’t actually use the words. This book is full of the ‘w’s and ‘how’s. Throughout the book the rhythm changes constantly. The ending is completely ridiculous as suddenly out of the 15 or so Johnstone books I’ve read, a supernatural silliness occurs. Then their are all sorts of historical issues involved.
This book raises questions for me such as how many writers were involved with the project? The book’s writing style swings from heavy romantic to violent gunfights. Neither of those two written the same way. There are many scenes that have other styles. The supernatural scene suddenly finds no one asking “who”, “what, “why”, etc, when then it just might fit. The dialogue of Smoke Jensen also changes throughout the book depending on scenes. Apparently this was a collaborative effort gone real wrong.
Was there a continuity check? The usual setting descriptions are nearly gone. The only character who seemed to stay the same as in other books is Sally Jensen.
The book appears to have been planned with an ending in mind that, based on the 15 books I’ve read, is a real easy , simplistic plot device, that has to have the reader wonder if there are other astral entities floating about in the series not yet revealed. Is Smoke so fast because he’s really an alien from another planet? Will that be a plot in a future Johnstone entry? When a series suddenly breaks out into fantasy, readers have to wonder what the heck is going on.
The underlying Christmas theme is spotty and otherwise dreck.
Something that may not be helping is that just before this book i was reading one of Nancy Atherton’s Dimitry series books that is beautifully written. Coming to this is a major let down.
I almost took a further step down. This morning I thought i would start Rite Mae Brown’s ‘Santa Clawed’. Got three pages in and realized that I was about to read something worse than ‘A Lone Star Christmas’ and, for the first time I can remember, put the book down. I’m pretty sure cats and dogs are not thinking such trite, shallow human thoughts as applied by Brown. Yuck!
I feel pretty cheated by ‘A Lone Star Christmas’. However, I’ve had fun in this past year tracking down the Johnstone series and don’t want to give up on it. The next book I read will be selected carefully and I sure hope for far better results.
Bottom line: Don’t read this book.
Here’s a preview of Sunday’s Swampy’s Florida cartoon which has something to do with horses and telephones. Want to guess what the subject is?
This watercolor cartoon of frog and turkey is for someone else on Thanksgiving. Realizing I was giving a painting to one person on Thanksgiving involving frogs, had me realize I needed to do one for another, too.
Taking this as a stand alone novel that hasn’t had a series of books before it with very similar plots, this is a good book. In regard to it’s part in a series with repetitive storylines, this is the best of that lot. I’m baffled as to why Johnstone decided to repeat the same plot so many times of the series character, Smoke Jensen, going to save a town under the thumb of a series of bad guys.
This one has better character development involving the bad guys and others. As is mostly typical of the Johnstone Clan books, the dialogue is very good. There is a slight twist involved, but it’s not at all well presented.
This is the first where there are many scenes that are repeated from the other books. Too many similar plot devices and settings.
To just regard this as a single piece gies the book a higher rating from me. In view of being part of a series, it gets low marks. As i read, i thought of better stories that could have been told involving many of the characters. I hope future parts of the series get better.
Bottom line: If you’re reading the series, I don’t recommend this book. If you’re not reading the series and can’t get to the first book to start the series. This is a good entry point.
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The last of the sneak previews of my Christmas card for this year. This is another of the many critters that are in the illustration. Taking the card to get printed tomorrow.
Here’s another peak at my annual Christmas card as i continue to work on it. Native Florida critters always dominate the illustration along with a Florida historic site. Here’s the Bald Eagle that can be found statewide. I should have the card finished tomorrow. Hope to start distributing cards Thursday and this weekend in southwest Florida.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Part of my Florida collection -
Can’t ask for more from a book than a great story, great writing and a consistent tone, in this case, of humor. This is very different than other Richard Powell writings I’ve read before. His knack for humor will have me hunting for anything else he did in the same genre.
The characters are spot on and the setting is well thought out. The story is rather simple, but it’s the interaction of the characters that make this book shine. The first person narrative and dialogue is just incredible. It’s very hard to be consistent with humor. It’s darn hard work just to be funny. Powell achieves the effort with a rash of gold stars.
Making the effort even more difficult is that the narrative is written in a certain dialect throughout. His knowledge of certain terminology involving the dialect is impressive. Some might question how the characters could have come from rural New Jersey with such a dialect, but that’s how Hollywood has managed to stereotype Southerners.
This book was transformed into a film starring Elvis Presley. The adaption is amazingly faithful including the location of the shooting of the film in Yankeetown here in Florida. Practically the entire book is present in the film with most scenes that read straight from the book. The most dramatic change from book to film is swapping the characters coming from New Jersey to Georgia. I guess Hollywood can’t have people from New Jersey seem like bumpkins.
Powell based this book on a story involving a road opening and some problems associated with it. Something not new to Floridians. Powell does swap the Florida name for “Columbiana”, I guess not to make Floridians upset, though it’s clearly in Florida with mentions of “the Glades’ and the like. The book also well describes US 19 at the time.
This is a well written, hilarious book that should be read by anyone wanting a good time!
Botom line: i highly recommend it – IF you can find it! Check your local library.
This is just a part of a larger Christmas card proposal for a company. There were three i drew. if it gets rejected, I’ll post the entire card here.
These are a few inked drawings that are last minute replacements for a set of buildings for a map I’m working on. I just couldn’t get the buildings to work and these figures probably better showcase the wares of the businesses involved.
I went from the first of the series to the second book, this one. The first was disappointing and hoped the second would get the story’s act together and get some teeth in it. It didn’t.
This one really stumbles in the inability of the writer(s) to put a good story together. There was clearly an end and a continuation of the series in mind. What wasn’t focused on was a feeling of care for characters or a depth of story to make the novel worth the time of the reader. Most of the writing just goes through the motions of getting the book done.
Before I started reading any Johnstone book the first of this year, i approached in fear this kind of book would be what I would run into. It very much wasn’t the case. Almost all of the other eleven books I’ve read this year by the Johnstone clan excel in character development and a want to read more about them. This book is the first that meets my fear. I really am surprised it took so long to find a Johnstone book so bad, but I figured I might eventually come across one.
The major problem is that so many characters wear the lone hero label and succeed at their task without hardly an obstacle. None even get hurt in their efforts. Where are those great scenes in the Mountain Man series or Home Invasion where not everyone survives or breaks a leg or takes a bullet?
The most unbelievable scene in all of the Johnstone books I’ve read so far involves a character that goes in to rescue someone in a top government area and runs into about as much trouble as breaking into an unlocked candy store in a desert.
The series goal is to show how Americans can get their country back. Basically this series treats the world as two islands: The ones who took over and the ones who want to bring the country back. It’s easy to ignore the rest of the world, but intellectually dishonest to believe there would be no repercussions to the actions of those who took over. There’s also the issue of how so many were enlisted to become soldiers of those who took over. Where did they come from? Why are they so prevalent in some areas and missing in others? None of this makes sense.
The overall writing is subpar. This book is written more in mind of a comic book than a novel. That’s not all that unusual in a Johnstone book, but it usually fits well into a strong story that’s also present. The writing also goes off on tangents in some areas, specifically of descriptions, then pulls back, such as the rescue scene mentioned above which could have been a real nail biter.
On a side note, i love the patriotic theme. There’s a ribbon of realization that comes over the characters that hey have something to fight for. I love that, but a writer could just as well written a treatise about patriotism.
I certainly am not giving up on the Johnstone clan based on a series book. Since January I’ve acquired more than fifty books of various series. I might even visit the third in this series down the road sometime. There are certainly better books ahead and I look forward to those.
Bottom line: I do not recommend this book.
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Oh my! Another Johnstone book that’s getting low marks from me. It was just a couple months ago I was wondering if I would find one. This makes about four.
Thee problem in this book is the premise that America could crash and burn so quickly. It completely ignores the economic forces that would not let this happen and the political ocean that would also not let this happen.
It’s a reason I’ve told so many friends not to worry so much about the current president and what they feel is some sort of takeover. It’s possible – though i think extremely unlikely – that Obama has tried some sort of takeover as some suspect. But the actual forces that move our country along would snap into place and stop any attempt like that. It’s the only rope I’ll give to the theorists of a takeover: It might have happened, been stopped and we’ll never know there was even an attempt. As I wrote earlier, i don’t believe this has, or will, happen.
This book is clearly riding the wave of those thinking that Obama is a muslim and is out to doom America. The names have been changed, but the intent is almost as much satire as an action/ adventure story. It’s also clear that the TV/radio fellow depicted is based upon Glenn Beck, who, to a lesser extent than portrayed here, has been very vocal about actions taken and the possible results. His views are grounded in facts. This book takes those views and propels them to melodramatic levels – as this book generally is throughout.
As the takeover business settles, about 250 pages in, the book also starts to settle and become more practically readable. Basically what makes the westerns so good comes into play and the rest of the book is good.
This book is another of the survivalist books that is part of the Johnstone cadre. I’m no fan of science fiction or fantasy. This fits well in the genre, but isn’t packaged that way. It should be.
Despite this review kicking the book around, I’m moving on to Part 2. Hoping the latter part of this book will be found in the second of the series.
Bottom line: I don’t recommend this book.
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