Rob's Blog

Tag: book

June 29th, 2015 – Book: ‘Blood land’ by William W. Johnstone

by on Jun.29, 2015, under Books

BloodlandBloodland by William W. Johnstone

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Of the few dozen Johnstone Clan novels I’ve read, few were published during William Johnstone’s lifetime. This one was. Considering the few books written at the time by him, I figure this one may have been written by Johnstone himself and not one of the herd of ghost writers to come.

Unfortunately, this is the worst of the books I’ve read possibly actually written by Johnstone. I can read a formula cast in the structure of the book. At the time he was also producing the Smoke Jensen series and this book too much reflects those. You could swap out the hero for Jensen. Not that it ruins the novel, just that it indicates Johnstone’s later actions of employing ghost writers considering how much he was able to produce, apparently, plot-wise.

The entire premise is hard to believe, which means the writer failed to connect his plot with the reader. Basically involves bad guys taking over a town with a vision of taking over the world in their way. The idea of the seduction of the townspeople seems more real today than possible in 1985. Still more than far fetched.

One of the most important things to take from this book is Johnstone’s writing of the farming industry and what was and would be happening. Younger people will have a great deal of trouble understanding what he is writing in that what he wrote has not only happened but is so buried in the commercial maelstrom, that the idea of the independent family farms that produce for the U.S. to such a high level will be hard to perceive.

The writing in the book is less than standard. The setting is described at points, but I never got the feel of the place as I have in so many other Johnstone Clan novels. That character construction is also far less than the usual stellar efforts of a Johnstone novel. The most interesting characters, to me, is the father and one named ‘Lila’, but little is done with them.

I figure this book is a sign of the stress of producing too many books at the same time by Johnstone.

Bottom line: I don’t recommend this book. 6 out of 10 points.

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June 16th, 2015 – #NowReading #CurrentlyReading – The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax’.

by on Jun.16, 2015, under Books



Whipped through ‘The Runner’ by Patrick Lee in two days and decided to shift to low gear with my first reading of Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman.

Thinking I might try a third new author in a row after this book.

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June 14th, 2015 – Book: ‘In the Teeth of Evidence’ by Dorothy Sayers.

by on Jun.14, 2015, under Books

In the Teeth of the EvidenceIn the Teeth of the Evidence by Dorothy L. Sayers

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is my first time reading Dorothy Sayers. This collection of little mysteries and twisty stories are very well written with a solid British foundation.

A few of the stories are a bit over written. Especially those without a solid punch in the end.

Sayers’ Peter Whimsey stories seem to me the best of the lot. The Monty Egg stories are more contrived. The third set is a good series of a varied set of characters immersed in all sorts of troubles. Two of these stories are excellent.

Bottom Line: I recommend this book. 7 of 10 points.

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May 31st, 2015 – Book: ‘Remember the Alamo’ by William Johnstone

by on May.31, 2015, under Books

Remember the AlamoRemember the Alamo by William W. Johnstone

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

‘Remember the Alamo’ is a fun book by the Johnstone Clan. Albeit beyond preposterous. The writing is looser than other Johnstone books. The characters are pretty good, though not as sharp as in other books.

The plotting is sloppiest involving the Hillary Clinton-type president that is demo-goding a situation involving the Alamo. It’s written that Congress is behind her, but little more is mentioned about the Congress, the Cabinet or much of anyone else in charge. Some unbelievable situations occur and the Clinton-type is riding herd to her goal. That’s an interesting stance to take if she had first released Congress from it’s handle of guiding the nation. Otherwise, Congress would’ve stepped in to any number of degrees to intercept even to support her.

None of that happens. The book is written as Alamo vs. Washington. There are some real bad guys who started all this, but they start to slide in importance as the book runs along.

Unfortunately, the characters seem to run together, especially involving the good guys. In other Johnstone books, the characters and their story help enormously involving rocky stories. The Dave and Caroline Rodriguez characters are the mostly compelling to me and it would be nice to see the Johnstone Clan explore those two further in another book.

The book is still fun to read. The characterization of those in the White House are sometimes as much fun as they are shocking. This Johnstone Clan book takes the ultra-liberal president character to heights hard to imagine.

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

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May 30th, 2015 – Florida Agriculture Research!

by on May.31, 2015, under Books, Florida History!


Hunkering down and wrapping up research for a talk of the history of Florida agriculture I’m giving Sunday to the Florida State Horticultural Society (FSHS) annual meeting. A mostly serious talk and a bit different for me. I’ve got more talks of Florida history to groups coming this Summer.

Been running on all cylinders this past month and will try to catch up with postings.

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May 29th, 2015 – Book: ‘Jacknife’ by William Johnstone and the gang

by on May.29, 2015, under Books

JackknifeJackknife by William W. Johnstone

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

‘Jacknife’ is just plain fun! A well written battle through nutty folks who think they will take over the world one large over-sized department store at a time.

The Johnstone Clan seems to have connected a ghostwriter of earlier thrillers to this book as it reads much like a few others with similar characters. Can’t recall if I’ve written this before, but there is a strong flavor of Vince Flynn to the point that I wonder if he was involved with this book. One way to tell is if the sound of these thrillers slips from this level, with Flynn now gone.

The writing is strong. Nowhere near the writing of other recent books I’ve read, such as Colin Dexter, Marjorie Rawlings or Edmund Crispin. But the engagement is concrete and the need to propell forward to find out what happens next and the want to read more like it, transcends the better writing. This is great storytelling.

Troubles with the book: Plenty seems unbelievable. There is a definite political slant (That is fine with me). Still, if a reader can enjoy reading this much, then the weakness is not that, but part of the whole that is the entertainment of great storytelling, if I may repeat myself and underscore what the Johnstone Clan excels at.

As is true in the Clan set, the characters are outstanding in their written definitions. The writer(s) and editor(s) involved deserve continued applause. The Hiram Stackhouse character is a hoot.

Bottom line: I recommend this book. 8 of 10.

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May 24th, 2015 – Book: ‘Stand Your Ground’ by the William Johnstone Clan

by on May.24, 2015, under Books

Stand Your GroundStand Your Ground by William W. Johnstone

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

‘Stand your Ground’ is a speeding train of a book full of well fleshed out characters and bad guys that you have to hate. Well written with the Johnstone Clan touch of not knowing what happens next or who lives or dies makes this a crackerjack true thriller.

I’ve been having a clunky time with good and bad Johnstone Clan books and this volume harkens back to the first of the Last Mountain Man series that started my reading so many of the Johnstone books over two years ago. This one is well plotted, written and with intriguing characters. A few characters have appeared in other Johnstone Clan thrillers and converge here per chance.

Though i share the political views represented in the book, the politics run too thick throughout this book. The political asides slow down the narrative and become irritating as the asides become repetitive. Of course, I have to read through plenty of the opposite side in the bulk of contemporary novels today that is more than heavy handed, irrational and repetitive. I’m opened minded and don’t mind reading both sides. I well know the bulk of those who hold the opposite political view of me would have a great deal of trouble getting through the first chapter of this book. That shouldn’t be the case.

Bottom line: I recommend this book. 8 of 10 points.

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May 19th, 2015 – Book: ‘Cross Creek’ by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

by on May.19, 2015, under Books

Cross CreekCross Creek by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Rawlings collected writings of life in early 1900s Florida is what I deem a classic in writing. This set of essays is just extraordinary in more than writing. It’s also a view into the mind of one with a view of life that is nearly unacceptable in today’s narrow-minded, politically correct American life.

My friend B.K. recently brought to my attention, unknowingly, that I had not read Cross Creek. Considering how much I’ve read of my great state of Florida, I admit embarrassment that Cross Creek hadn’t been crossed yet.

Crossing the literary creek was an experience I’m glad I had today and not 30 years ago. Today I know the area and much about what went on in our state at the time of Rawling’s writing to better understand her adventures.

Rawlings literary renderings of Florida life are of the type that places the reader in the setting of a natural area, her home or a courtroom. She covers stories of all just mentioned and so much more of the rural living away from big cities. From hunting to farming to the personalities who lived around Cross Creek.

The writing of the natural areas she encounters is a work of beauty, whether she describes hanging spanish moss or the flowering plants she plants. Even better composed are her trips to Cross Creek and her trips along the waters in Florida.

For today’s America Rawling’s view of life would be considered a variety of popular terminology used by the over-sensitive-set. Yet, she is a she and tagging her sexist, racist or whatever is where the current name-callers get shutdown. The politically-correct crowd is precisely what Rawlings is pointing out she wants to get away from and live a real life with real people. Real people are not politically correct – which becomes abundantly clear as one reads Cross Creek.

This is an amazing work that should be a must-read for any lover of books and exceptional writing.

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

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May 14th. 2015 – ‘Richard Deacon’s Microwave Oven Cookbook’!

by on May.14, 2015, under Books


Richard Deacon‘s Microwave Oven Cookbook’!
Don’t know about you, but I only listen to what character actors recommend when I operate a microwave!

Learned it would have been Deacon’s 94th birthday today, so let’s celebrate! grin emoticon Here’s the cover and the back cover below. I found it during my travels this past week. I’m always finding fun oddities like this and will try to post them occasionally.


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April 19th, 2015 – My Swampy’s Florida at Dunnellon’s Boomtown Days event!

by on Apr.19, 2015, under Cartooning, Swampy's Florida


With my Swampy’s Florida at Dunnellon’s Boomtown yesterday. With me is City Commissioner Penny Fleeger, Jeff Smith and Tessa Noell helping out. Big crowds and lot’s of folks wanting to know about our great state of Florida!

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April 14th, 2015 – Book: ‘Cast, in Order of Disappearance’ by Simon Brett.

by on Apr.14, 2015, under Books

Cast, in Order of Disappearance (Charles Paris, #1)Cast, in Order of Disappearance by Simon Brett

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was surprised to learn that this was the first in the Charles Paris series. Reading the book, the narrative seemed to need early knowledge of the character which didn’t exist. There are also many very British notations throughout. For the casual reader, this book is likely to be very confusing. Not helping is that the book is very firmly set in 1975.

The story is very good with a great mystery involved. Pay attention and the answer to the riddle is there. The characters are very well written, which helps carry a more shaky narrative.

Overall, it’s a rather light book. A perfect book for a weekend outing…with a very British setting.

Bottom line: I recommend this book. 6 of 10 points.

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