Rob's Blog

Tag: Books

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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December 30th, 2014 – Book: ‘The Best American Wit and Humor’, J.B. Mussey, editor.

by on Dec.30, 2014, under Books

The Best American Wit and HumorThe Best American Wit and Humor by J.B. Mussey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a nearly perfect set of laugh out loud (or however the kiddies say it today) stories, columns and cartoons. Outstanding entries of Alec Woollcott, Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, F.P.A. … well, the bulk of the Round Table. The stand out of the lot is Corey Ford’s reflection of his John Riddell Murder Case novel.

Also included, and has the largest contribution,are columns of Will Rogers. He was at his peak when this was published and certainly a draw for sales. The lot are also the weakest of the collection and why I drop a point from the star ccategory.

Unfortunately, most in this book could not be published today in the U.S. due to narrowing senses of humor and minds. The Politically Correct Police, who claim to hate all censorship except all they want to censor, would shackle a volume of this and sure to burn in much fanfare.

Bottom line: I highly recommend this book. 9 of 10 points.

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December 25th, 2014- Book: ‘A Highland Christmas’ by M.C. Beaton

by on Dec.25, 2014, under Books

A Highland Christmas (Hamish Macbeth, #16)A Highland Christmas by M.C. Beaton

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

‘A Highland Christmas’ is a pretty standard Christmas mystery with elements of Christmas and questions as to what happened to the elements of the Christmas story. Very light story that, unfortunately, has a political agenda.

Strongly intertwined in this “Christmas” story is the effort to reform a very religious family who the main character, Hamish MacBeth, thinks is missing out on what that character thinks Christmas is. Instead of being open minded to others beliefs, MacBeth, through the writer, labels the family as “bigoted”. The religious family is not trying to change the MacBeth’s beliefs. They are just minding their own business and abiding their personal beliefs. The actual bigot in the story, MacBeth, proceeds to force the religious family to his beliefs. This being the goal of the author, the religious family bends to the closed minded MacBeth’s preposterous efforts to “save” the family.

Having Beaton’s character showing her main character having a discriminating drive against a family’s religious belief might have been better to explore in a non-“Christmas” book. To have it as the basis of a “Christmas” book is a bit tasteless.

For a story that is usually written in the reverse of aggressive vs. innocents, Beaton writes the story and characters well.

Bottom line: I do not recommend this book. 4 or 10.

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December 23rd, 2014 – Christmas Dinner Artwork!

by on Dec.23, 2014, under Buddies, Cartooning, Friends


Had dinner last night with fellow cartoonist George Pieper and his wife Noreen at Sammy’s Italian Restaurant in Ocala, Florida. George nabbed a photo of me whipping up a painted ornament for them. Did you know the perfect paint for Santa’s suit is spaghetti sauce?


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November 26th,2014- Book: ‘Black Site’ by “Dalton Fury”

by on Nov.26, 2014, under Books

Black Site (Delta Force, #1)Black Site by Dalton Fury

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

‘Black Site’ strives to cover every aspect of the military mission(s) that the main character endeavors upon and does so impressively. Seems little there is left out, despite the knowledge that not all can be revealed without veering into the reality of American military operations that the author claims to know. Despite the complexity of all that happens int the book, it is written in a clear fashion making so much easier to digest.

This is still another entry in the overflowing literary area of espionage by former military-turned authors. This one is much like the others, especially the recent variety that deal with middle east issues. In fact, the writing is much like many of them.Possible too many of them. Turns out Mark Greaney was involved with writing this. Greaney is also writing his own series along with continuing Clancy’s Jack Ryan series. Is Greaney also writing this series? It’s known that Dalton Fury is a pen name and this book reminds me of Greaney’s The Gray Man.

However, ‘Black Site’ reminds me of many of the other new espionage novels being spit out today. All written well and full of action. I’m not finding a real writing style in the majority of these books. So many read as if all were written by the same person. If not for different publishers, I’d wonder if this genre wasn’t the opposite of the William Johnstone Clan set of books all being handled by ghost writers. In this case are many being handle by a few writers using different names and lots of assistants? I’ll stop these ponderings.

Despite all the above, this is a very good book, though it also lacks style. Very readable, exciting and well worth the expense.

Bottom line: I recommend this book.

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November 23rd, 2014 – Book: ‘Sixkiller, U.S. Marshall- Day of Rage’ by William W. Johnstone

by on Nov.24, 2014, under Books

Day of Rage (Sixkiller: U.S. Marshal, #2)Day of Rage by William W. Johnstone

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a good western tale of John Henry Sixkiller by the Johnstone Clan. It’s a bit more complicated than most Johnstone Clan books with far more developed side characters. This is second in this series and both have far more plot development and far more attention to setting. Overall this story of gold, bad guys and banks is one of the better entries in the entire Johnstone Clan library.

Seems to me the dialogue, though other wise written well for reading was a bit dogged with a lack of authenticity to the times.

Bottom line: I recommend this book.

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November 20th, 2014 – Book: ‘Morse’s Greatest Mystery and Other Stories’ by Colin Dexter.

by on Nov.20, 2014, under Books

Morse's Greatest Mystery and Other StoriesMorse’s Greatest Mystery and Other Stories by Colin Dexter

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m not usually a fan of a short story collection, but this one is outstanding. I also don’t give five stars lightly. I feel the overall book deserves them. I’ll add that not all may love this set of stories. Those who love real mysteries will love these. Those who love James Patterson or Sandra Brown are likely not to like them.

Dexter really has a flair for crafting a short mystery. No easy task. Sorry there is only one collection of short stories. Still hope for more from Dexter.

The tales in the book are all mysteries with great characters, stories and terrific writing.

Bottom line: I recommend the book!

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November 16th, 2014 – Book’ The Case of the Lame Canary’ by Erle Stanley Gardner.

by on Nov.19, 2014, under Books

The Case of the Lame CanaryThe Case of the Lame Canary by Erle Stanley Gardner

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

What stands out as the best parts of ‘The Case of the Lame Canary is the interaction between the Perry Mason, Della Street and Paul Drake characters. Gardcner is at the top of his writing skills with consistency and character development.

This is also true of the rest of the cast of this novel. Distinct characters developed throughout the book. This all helps wading through a very convoluted and overly concocted story by Gardner.

This book revels Gardeners ability to write great characterized and his ability to work too hard to use elements to create a book.

As I read the book I could see how Gardner had a set of distinct parts he worked real hard to fit together. This makes the book feel very forced to a conclusion. You know there is a conclusion at the end, but keep seeing many pages ahead as Gardner tries to weave in some nonsense leads that,in any other of his books, Mason would have been written to figure out.

Though I don’t care for the overall story, the writing is top notch and,again, just reading character interaction is outstanding.

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

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