Rob's Blog

Tag: Books

February 25th, 2015 – Book: ‘The Broken Gun’by Louis L’Amour

by on Feb.25, 2015, under Books

The Broken GunThe Broken Gun by Louis L’Amour

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I see a well illustrated old west themed cover to a Louis L’Amour book, the title ‘The Broken Gun’ and I plunge into a novel that instantly confuses me. It takes a few pages to realize when in time this novel falls. There is no mention of it. There is a mention of 90 years before…but, before what?

By the third page the Korean War is mentioned.

Involving stroytelling, time should be established in some way off the top if a story about different time periods is being unraveled. Instead L’Amour leaves the reader at drift trying to figure out what’s going on.

Making the early part of the book worse is L’Amour’s poor approach to literally illustrating an urban setting.

Once the novel goes out to ranch lands of sand and rock, L’Amour hits his stride in describing the setting. But, time gets away from him again. L’Amour clearly had trouble with writing about his present.

A number of things bother me about the writing of this book. One involved an over long chase near the end. Another was one sentence involving a character that vanishes. Though clearly not the intent, the line is more surreal than consistent with the rhythm of the story.

The story is shakey, at best, and the conclusion over obvious.

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

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February 23rd, 2015 – Book: ‘The Family Jensen’ by William Johnstone.

by on Feb.23, 2015, under Books

The Family Jensen (The Family Jensen, #1)The Family Jensen by William W. Johnstone

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The first book of a series by the Johnstone Clan, that I’ve read, are usually excellent. This one missed that mark. There certainly are some great stories inside and even a good overall story. It’s just that in an effort to weave four stories together as a whole doesn’t work. The three individual stories of the three main characters read as stories meant for another purpose. So that the main underlining story also seems like a separate novel. Seems to me the Johnstone Clan could’ve just fleshed out all four stories into separate books that might not run the typical 300 pages. Maybe that was the initial idea.

The writing is OK. Though it does seem as if, at least, one of the three separate stories was written be an also separate author.

The characters are as good as always. Especially good work done for the indian characters. The bad guys were lacking in this case.

I’m going to recommend the book due almost entirely with the last fourth of the book. I do recommend reading the book as separate novels. Might be best to skip the prologue, I think it makes more sense that way.

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

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February 20th, 2015 – Book: ‘Poirot Loses a Client’ by Agatha Christie

by on Feb.19, 2015, under Books

Poirot Loses a ClientPoirot Loses a Client by Agatha Christie

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

‘Poirot Loses a Client’ lost me a bit in viewing Christie as a great author. The formula is mostly the same. Someone is dead. Group of people are suspects. Everyone is overly talkative about what they think is going on. Suspects gathered. Resolution. After reading Edmund Crispin, I wish Christie thought of fleshing out a plot, characters, setting and writing.

This story has Poirot, and pal, enter the story with little explanation as to who they are and why they would be involved in the plot. For those of us that know the characters, we could say we don’t need the background. I feel a book needs to anticipate new readers and not make assumptions.

Moreover, the story feels like it has been pushed through a template, as referred to above.

Getting to the conclusion is a plodding roaming of Poirot finding one talkative character after another. Not all suspects would spill so much. One way Christie could have made the story more interesting story would be having the characters stonewalling Poirot.

The resolution was a bit frustrating after getting through the rest of the book.

There is good character development, with the exception of proper introduction of the two main characters.

Bottom line: I do not recommend this book. 4 of ten points.

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February 10th, 2015 – Book: ‘The Long Divorce’ by Edmund Crispin

by on Feb.10, 2015, under Books

The Long Divorce (Gervase Fen, #8)The Long Divorce by Edmund Crispin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As much as I really liked ‘The Moving Toyshop’ for the playful way with the story and characters, ‘The Long Divorce’ has far less engaging characters and story. I can still clearly recall many parts of ‘the Moving Toyshop’ and can hardly recall much of ‘The Long Divorce’.

The writing is fine for a mystery. The setting is well defined, especially the rural areas. The characters are also illustrated well but with less spark than in ‘The Moving Toyshop.

There is a significant and needless plot device used, it seems, because there is little engaging in this book. I’d say, that is what hurts this book. The writer was so busy setting up to reveal the plot device that certain characters and situations got washed out.

Bottom Line: I recommend this book. Checking 5 of 10 points.

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February 6trh, 2015 – Book: ‘The Moving Toyshop’ by Edmund Crispin

by on Feb.06, 2015, under Books

The Moving Toyshop (Gervase Fen, #3)The Moving Toyshop by Edmund Crispin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a rollicking good literary time as author Crispin takes you along for a weird mixture of mystery and hijinks. There is a mystery in it all but it’s more than forced. The fun is reading Crispin’s writing of the characters and settings. Both extremely well done.

The embedded story is a bit complex and certainly strains credibility. Considering this book is from the mid-1940s and set in tiny Oxford, England, the tale would be far easier to pull off today.

Included are chase scenes written like few others. The best part of those are further descriptions of the locales.

Bottom line: I recommend this book. 7 of 10.

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February 2nd, 2015 – Book- “The Last Mountain Man: Savage Territory’ by W.W. Johnstone

by on Feb.02, 2015, under Books

Savage Territory (Matt Jensen: The Last Mountain Man, #4)Savage Territory by William W. Johnstone

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m reading these in order and this is the fourth in the series. After a bumpy third book, this one gets more on track of the first two with similar quality and story telling. This is not as good as the first two, but still, involving story telling better than most all of the rest of the Johnstone Clan written books.

Seems this is the same writer as the other three books, for, again, there is an interest in trains, a Perry Mason-type trial and attention to detail missing in most Johnstone books. The writing is very good. The characters well written, as usual.

This is the first of the four where the outcome is pretty obvious from the start. The writer keeps the reader guessing as to just how the obvious ending could possibly occur with so many characters going in so many different directions. It all works well.

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

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January 31st, 2015 – Book: ‘Last Mountain Man: Purgatory’ by W.W. Johnstone

by on Jan.31, 2015, under Books

Purgatory (Matt Jensen: The Last Mountain Man, #3)Purgatory by William W. Johnstone

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As I read the Johnstone Clan’s The Last Mountain Man series from the start to this third in the series it becomes very apparent that the crafter of the tales is a far better storyteller than those handling the other parts of the series I’ve read so far. These three are all complex with interwoven threads that bind to make a solid story.

However, this one is not as well written as the first two. Specifically the first few chapters that are a mish-mosh of trying to retell the two previous books and start telling this one. One reason for this may be that this book came out the same year as the last and the one previous to it came out only months earlier. Chug-a-lugging these books seems to have strained production values.

The bulk of the book is still good, lacking the depth of the first two. The characters are especially well explained. Excellent work is done with a secondary character that is law enforcement that, over the course of the book, realizes what is really going on.

Despite the poorly written first chapters –
Bottom line: I recommend this book 7 of 10

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January 27th, 2015 – Book: ‘Matt Jensen: the Last Mountain Man’ by William Johnstone & pals.

by on Jan.27, 2015, under Books

Matt Jensen: The Last Mountain Man (Matt Jensen: The Last Mountain Man, #1)Matt Jensen: The Last Mountain Man by William W. Johnstone

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As I have found the first books in a Johnstone Clan series are dynamite and this is one, too. A thoroughly satisfying western with a great underlying story with typical protagonists, lots of action and a very good ending.

Before this I read a book by L’Amour. The difference between the two writers, to me, that L’Amour was a literary writer and the Johnstone Clan tell simpler stories with a knack to craft characters the readers can care about. I’ve found myself not caring much about L’Amour characters. The Johnstone characters I usually want to know more about which pulls me into more novels in the in numerous series.

Bottom line: I recommend this book. 7 of 10.

(side note: I happened to find this book during my travels and started it the same day. that has almost never happened. Hundreds of books writing to be read and I prop open a novel the same day I buy it. This happens to be a first of a series I’ve wanted to start, I hadn’t ready a Johnstone this month and I just finished a book and needed to start one all got me to read this immediately.)

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January 22nd, 2015 – Inking a Stack of Work!

by on Jan.22, 2015, under Cartooning


I spent a few hours this evening inking a stack of pages involving a number of projects. I’m back in a local coffee shop. Second time this week with major accomplishments as a result. Been reading books of favorite writers, Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley & others of the Round Table and their need for a place to hole away and get work done. Realized I need to do the same again.

It’s been exactly a year since I stopped going to my old coffee shop haunt due to political reasons. Since then have bounced around at chain spots and other places. Seems I have found a new spot- or as pals Craig Zablo & John Beatty call my “office” – to hunker down and really get work done

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January 17th, 2015- Book: ‘The Last Quarry’ by Max Allan Collins

by on Jan.17, 2015, under Books

The First Quarry (Hard Case Crime #48)The First Quarry by Max Allan Collins

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

All these great reviews in Goodreads and I’m downgrading this novel. I found this book far below ‘The Last Quarry’. To me, the Quarry character did not seem the same to me.

I had real trouble swallowing this twenty something doing much that is written in this book. Collins writes this character too smooth, too willing to kill, too comfortable being holed up for days. Collins wrote this book as if this was Quarry’s first case, but Quarry came off, to me, as a seasoned professional. He seems to make no mistakes.

That includes with the women involved. The interaction of amateur Quarry and two women characters is the most unbelievable part and comes off amateurish for an author.

Quarry dispatches quite a number of people with no clever or fantastic scheme. Quarry just aims and fires. Hunh? The other characters are indicated as experienced. Are all of them, from various aspects of life, that slow and stupid? Of is this something worse involving writer Collins?

The author shirks off the never ending convenience of Quarry’s project as the setting being too small and everyone runs into each other. Sheesh! I might forgive this if the author hadn’t written scores of other stories.

I determined this book is a great example of an author’s lazy writing. The characters were otherwise pretty one sided. The setting poorly described. The time period is more than well noted, but only involving entertainment. As mentioned, Quarry came across as a different character than in ‘The Last Quarry’. All of the rest of the books I’ve read by Collins are head and shoulders better than this.

A likely reason why the writing of this book stood out so poorly to me is because I had just finished reading of Edna Ferber, Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, Scott Fitzgerald, etc., and now also reading more Benchley. Collins writing is incomparable to any of them involving this book.

Bottom line: I do not recommend this book. 2 of 10.

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January 15th, 2015: Book: ‘The Royal Family’ by Ferber and Kaufman

by on Jan.15, 2015, under Books

The Royal Family - The Acting EditionThe Royal Family – The Acting Edition by Edna Ferner & George S. Kaufman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This Ferber and Kaufman play is a general insight of their view of the famous performing Barrymore family. If you imagine them in place of their obvious representations in the play, the story is even funnier.

This is just a knock out punch in presenting a time in the lives of entertainers. Much has changed involving entertainment since the late 1920s,but the gist of it all has changed little.

The writing is crisp and direct, as plays should be anyway. The characters are excellently written. The story is wonderful.

Something neat about the copy I have is there are notes made as the play is being presented. Editing lines and the like.

Bottom line: I recommend it. 10 of 10.

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