Rob's Blog

Tag: Books

November 12th, 2014 – Book: ‘The Case of the Ice Cold Hands’ by Erle Stanley Gardner

by on Nov.12, 2014, under Books

The Case of the Ice Cold HandsThe Case of the Ice Cold Hands by Erle Stanley Gardner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This volume of the law life of Perry Mason moves as fast as most others and then slows, as usual when the story lands in the courtroom. In this story the story really slows int he courtroom as an intricate set of legal moves sets up the conclusion. A bit tough to get through and I think it all could have been written more clearly.

This Gardner story is a bit more plodding in places and repetitious. This is a later Mason book and maybe that has something to do with it.

As usual, the main characters are hardly described at all. The passing characters are well described and very consistent. The setting is also well mapped out literally.

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

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November 8th, 2014 – Book: ‘Key Biscayne – The Romance of Cape Florida’ by Jim Woodman

by on Nov.08, 2014, under Books

Key Biscayne The Romance of Cape FloridaKey Biscayne The Romance of Cape Florida by Jim Woodman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a wonderful book of history! Well written and thorough to it’s goals. The book has a great airy feel in it’s construction and makes reading far more enjoyable than history books can usually be.

Author Woodman does focus most on pre-1900 and whips up the 20th century, up to it’s publication of 1961, in just a few pages.

Bottom line: I highly recommend this hard to find book.
So hard to find, I had to add it to Goodreads.

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October 8th, 2014 – Happy World Octopus Day! #Inktober

by on Oct.08, 2014, under Cartooning

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Here’s the inked art for #Inktober today!

Here’s part of the Swampy’s Florida post:
Swampy says Happy World Octopus Day!
More about the legend of the St Augustine Monster:  http://swampysflorida.com/?p=11318

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October 2nd, 2014 – Book: ‘Riddle of the Third Mile’ by Colin Dexter.

by on Oct.02, 2014, under Books

The Riddle of the Third Mile (Inspector Morse, #6)The Riddle of the Third Mile by Colin Dexter

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I really like Dexter’s writing style and the characters he creates. This selection of the adventures of Inspector Morse provides more background of Morse’s origins and, for me , that’s the best part of the book.

The rest is a convoluted mess. Body parts, various people who are part of the college and not part of the college and are the body parts and aren’t the body parts and I just wanted to part with the whole thing.

Seems to me Dexter stretched hard to get this book to work. There were many other ways to get to solving the main mystery of who a body is. Yet, Morse and all go gallivanting off into all kinds of directions that really make little sense. A prelude to the main story is to help the reader follow some of the mechanization of the crime. But, it seems to me, that Dexter then went about trying to fit a story to the prelude. Along the way trying to make very confusing who did what and why. There should always be confusion to a reader and it’s what I love with the previous novels I’ve read. In this case, I think Dexter was being a bit too cute in his switchbacks in the story. Keeping the reader guessing is imperative, but so is clarity in the end.

In the end, I still didn’t understand the motives of all the characters in their actions. It was tricky writing to wrap up so many loose ends. All too convenient. I just don’t think the conclusions are plausible.

Bottom line: I don’t recommend this book.



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September 28th, 2014 – Book: ‘The Dead of Jericho’ by Colin Dexter.

by on Sep.29, 2014, under Books

The Dead of Jericho (Inspector Morse, #5)The Dead of Jericho by Colin Dexter

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the third in the Inspector Morse series I’ve read and continue to like the series more and more. It was just a couple of months ago that I happened to come across most of the Morse series at a used book store and took a gamble and picked them up. I’m so glad I did.

This one has the many layers that the other books do of what seems like a simple story. As Inspector Morse gets on the trail, and soon to be many trails, to solve the mystery he finds deadends, misdirections and so much more that makes this book so much fun. Really like how Morse and all make mistakes.

It’s all also so well written. Author Colin Dexter lays out the story that leaves the reader hanging on from chapter to chapter. At times, it seemed the book was wrapping up and I was disappointed. The deadends and the like are far better than explosions and mass gun fire found in so many other books.

Bottom line: I recommend this book.

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September 6th, 2014 – Signing Books in Homosassa Springs State Park.

by on Sep.07, 2014, under What's New?

2014-0906-HomosassaSignings

On the #drawing board today: Signed and drew in lots and lots of Swampy’s Florida books today at Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park for “Speak Up Homosassa Springs”. Here are a couple photos from teh event.

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The young fellow was funny. I asked him about what he likes and found him very articulate. So as he spoke of how he would like to wash things, I asked what he would like to wash. A car. How will you be sure the cars get washed? Will you be a manager? Yes. And on it went. He’s a thinking youngster and hope he stays that way!

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August 19th, 2014 – Book: ‘The Neon Flamingo’ by W.R. Philbrick

by on Aug.24, 2014, under Books

The Neon FlamingoThe Neon Flamingo by W.R. Philbrick

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The biggest plus to this book by Philbrick is his ability to capture the feel and look of the Keys with words. This is the second of the Stash series I’ve read and I’d say he captured the location better than other books set in the area, including James Hall’s Thorn series.

Otherwise the story is pretty straightforward with a mystery lingering of the main character, Stash, in search of a kid. Lots of layabouts in the story. Everyone was portrayed as having no ambition to do much of anything. Even a couple rich central characters were stripped of any future. It all gets a bit depressing and the story stumbles from layabout to layabout. Soon, it’s hard to care about what happened to the kid as even the Stash character seems to lose interest.

Again it’s the narrative of the location that is the highlight. Philbrick accurately describes natural areas, fishing docks, boats, seedy areas of the Keys, etc.

The story is of little energy, but the setting is great. Therefore…

Bottom line: i recommend the book.

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August 14th, 2014 – Book: ‘The Garner Files’ by James Garner.

by on Aug.14, 2014, under Books

The Garner Files: A MemoirThe Garner Files: A Memoir by James Garner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

You can hear James Garner’s voice as you read this book. As he relates stories of film and TV it’s clear that the stories are coming from him.

The book is well written obviously thanks to the co-writer. Parts of Garner’s life as broken into bits that have a logical order. Maybe a bit too organized. Though I like the last few pages where Garner comments through a specific list of his film career, it does also feel a bit micro-manages, too. I am glad the golfing and racing parts are delineated. That way, i can write here, if you don’t care for racing and golf, avoid these chapter. Garner gets into a lot of detail about each. Especially in the racing section about cars and tracks and all. I would alert any racing fan you know to pick up the book for just that chapter, in that it has a lot of trivia they are bound to enjoy.

There are quite a number of admissions in the book. These days such confessions don’t mean much in a coarse world, but would’ve made headlines twenty years ago.

Any movie buff will love many details revealed here. Unlike some more recent celebrity volumes, this one has only short trivial mentions as compared to lengthy stories.

Leaving the book, you will have a very complete view of Garner’s life. i knew it so well going into the book, that it’s a bit hard what to write and not write about parts of this book.

Bottom line: I recommend this book.

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July 31st, 2014 – Book: ‘Invasion U.S.A.: Border War’ by William Johnstone.

by on Jul.31, 2014, under Books

Border War (Invasion USA, #2)Border War by William W. Johnstone

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

‘Invasion U.S.A.: Border War” is the second book of, so far, a two book series. This second book is far superior to the first, that is also very good. This one is far better written with a much more involved plot.

Whereas teh first was chock full of gun play and explosions, this one is handled very differently. There’s more setup to explain the gun play and explosions. With the more involved plot there are more involved characters. Something the Johnstone Clan excels at is characterization. That occurs here even better than the first book.

This one does have less tension with the first. i was literally on teh edge of my seat with the first. This one I had to read much more carefully as the plot unfolded in more intricate and well written detail.

Wondered about giving it five stars, but the writing isn’t up to the par of a Faulkner or Slaughter.

Bottom line: i recommend this book.

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July 2nd, 2014 – Today on the drawing board: Turtle Birthday Greetings!

by on Jul.03, 2014, under Cartooning, Swampy's Florida

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Another of the upcoming Swampy’s Florida birthday card series. this time with a turtle. Have another coming with an alligator soon. I’ll post when the cards will be available for purchase.

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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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