Rob's Blog

Tag: Books

Book: ‘The Coconut Killings’ by Patricia Moyes

by on Jan.10, 2016, under Books

The Coconut KillingsThe Coconut Killings by Patricia Moyes
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Here is another Tibbetts tale with massive holes. Despite an otherwise good story, the holes in the novel cannot be ignored. The worse is the use of a machete on a human with no apparent problem of the resulting blood being everywhere after the action. Apparently this was a clean machete murder. Seems Moyes didn’t learn about what happens when violently hacking a machete. She did learn about how it should have been done.

This problem makes the rest of the book impossible. Seems to me Moyes had an ending in mind, built and outline and then filled in the blanks. This would explain how few seem concerned about the violence of the murder involved and what happens later. Especially the Tibbetts, who are not even on their home turf. Moyes writes Henry Tibbett as nearly a superman who barges around with no fear of death and flies long distances in record time.

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

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Book: ‘Countdown for Agriculture’ by Henry F. Swanson – December 31st, 2015

by on Dec.31, 2015, under Books

Countdown for AgricultureCountdown for Agriculture by Henry F. Swanson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is an exceptional book of agriculture, Orange County and Florida history. Henry Swanson has laid out extensive, well-written and thorough history of the all facets of the agriculture business in Orange County. He even get into the public policy process and who has been involved. It’s an amazing work.

I’ve used this book for 30 years for reference. This is the first time, I believe, I’ve read the entire book cover to cover. I’ve always recommended it and now do so even stronger. Unfortunately the book is way out of print and hard to find.

I recommend this book. 10 out of ten points.

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Book: ‘Breakfast At Tiffany’s’ by Truman Capote – December 15th, 2015

by on Dec.15, 2015, under Books

Breakfast At Tiffany'sBreakfast At Tiffany’s by Truman Capote
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Here’s a case where the film is far, far, far better than what Capote wrote. Much of the story is in the film. The film chose to end than Capote’s choice to meander off. Though ‘Holly Golightly’ is well written, the rest of the characters are more sketchy than not. ‘Doc’ is well written but walks in and out again. What a disappointment!

The other stories are much the same of Capote rambling on and on and on with no clear end in sight. Not surprisingly, none really end.

There are many clever asides and observances. Maybe Capote should have written one liners instead.

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

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Book: ‘Fear in a Desert Town’ by Roger Fuller

by on Dec.11, 2015, under Books

Fear in a Desert townFear in a Desert Town by Roger Fuller
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Fuller” kicks off this entry in his various TV series adaptions with a perfect portrayal of paranoia of someone being sought. After the first few pages you’ll look over your own shoulder to see who’s watching. This all a half century before the digital eyes that watch us all now.

Beyond the excellent job of literally forming Dr. Richard Kimble, “Fuller” continues, what I’ve read in his other books, packing a packed story in 155 pages. Again, I wonder, why can’t this be done today????

The writing is direct and strong, as are the characters. I really like his depiction of a little boy caught in the web.

Before I wrote this I thought I’d track down the episode this book is based. Here is just another example of the book far outshining the filmed version. It’s almost startling at how different the two are. Same story with the same characters. Just with that “Fuller” touch added in.

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

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Book: ‘All the Silent Voices’ by Roger Fuller (Don Tracy) – December 8th, 2015

by on Dec.08, 2015, under Books

All the Silent Voices (The Defenders)All the Silent Voices by Don Tracy
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Wow! Author Fuller (Don Tracy) makes full use of the faux moniker. This is definitely a book Fuller with story than most books 100 times the size. This entry by “Fuller” is very well crafted and well written in story and characters.

One problem with this book is with a bit of a side story that dovetails later in the book. A character that is clearly written as being in the mountains of upstate Pennsylvania, I checked three times, is written as a Foghorn Leghorn backwoods Southern stereotype. I’ve met hundreds from upstate Pennsylvania in the mountains. None spoke with a Southern accent. It would be trivial but for how “Fuller” writes the character in a more than malicious way. The intent is clear. The result is extremely disappointing.

There is something else and that is the described very, very, very wealthy main character Tasso struggling with the abortion issue. She is written as willing to destroy her family, her husband’s business and all else in her wake to meet her goal. BUT when considering doing a procedure that she could VOLUNTEER to do – THAT is discarded instantly. That take makes the rest of the book frivolous.

I do like how the main “Defender” Preston is written with a last line to make all think.

Despite a complicated and very well written book, the setbacks really mine the entirety, so…

Bottom line: i don’t recommend this book. 3 out of ten points.

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Book: ‘Burke’s Law: Who Killed Madcap Millicent?’ by Roger Fuller – December 3rd, 2015

by on Dec.03, 2015, under Books

Who Killed Madcap Millicent?Who Killed Madcap Millicent? by Roger Fuller
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I did my best to put out of mind Gene Berry’s Amos Burke, but his voice fit so well with Fuller’s writing, that he stayed throughout. Thus revealing the fine job Fuller did re-creating the televised character to novel form. That is Fuller’s specialty, turning that on film to written novels. This book is an example at his great ability and success.

This story is very good and entirely misses the nasty trappings of the contemporary novels of excessive writing and lack of editing. The story is very tight, yet leaving a vast cast of characters and a very nice mystery. Though, I’m usually figuring out the end early, here i did not. This done without various typical literary devices as twists and shell games. This story involves a set of quintuplets. Most mystery writers would use this to confuse the reader. Not in this case, which makes the ending that much better.

The characters are well written, with a few exceptions. Unfortunately the exceptions seem to be the regular cast, with exception of Amos Burke. Burke’s driver and other of the police force are lightly touched upon, then left to the imagination. The settings are also loosely defined.

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

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Book: ‘There Was an Old Woman’ by Ellery Queen – December 1st, 2015

by on Dec.01, 2015, under Books

There Was an Old WomanThere Was an Old Woman by Ellery Queen
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

It was a couple dozen pages in that I knew I was in trouble. This Queen “mystery” is an unfortunate one where it’s clear the author’s knew the ending and then forced the poor constructed story.

There really is no excuse for how bad this is. Something happens very early that the Queen character would never have missed. Of course, that oversight was what the authors had to use to continue the story. Then a series of characters act as if police procedure is determined by the public. Again all to build the story. The worse part is that it’s do damned obvious. How did the duo, known as Ellery Queen, let this happen. Why did an editor not flag it. Sounds like an issue of speeding a contracted book out.

If you can view this more as a fairy tale, which isn’t hard once into the contents, then this book has some very distinct characters. Queen et al of the regular cast are written per usual with the exception that they are otherwise entirely inept in this book.

This really comes down to the horrible , obvious ending that is written as if Queen was a brilliant genius. Certainly this is the worse book I’ve read in the series.

Nevertheless, if all could be ignored, the writing is good…

Bottom line: i don’t recommend this book. 3 out of ten points.

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Book: ‘A Study in Terror’ by Ellery Queen

by on Nov.29, 2015, under Books

A Study in TerrorA Study in Terror by Ellery Queen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a great deal of fun! I love Ellery Queen and having this unorthodox way of presenting a Sherlock Holmes story within a Queen tale made a Queen book all the more fun! There is a bit of awkwardness about it all, but quite a change of pace for a Queen novel.

Apparently there were three authors involved. The two cousins who masquerade as Queen and the another who wrote the Holmes part of the book. The styles are obviously very different, but also well reflect the change of time period and location, as it should.

Seems to me the representation of the Holmes character gallery is extremely well done. The Queen characters are handled as the Queen characters are always.

Setting is far better rendered on the Holmes side. You can well feel the foggy, dreary setting.

I have not seen the film the book is based on, thought that is neither here nor there. The book story stand on it’s own without outside influence of other depictions.

Bottom line: i recommend this book. 7 of 10 points.

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Book: ‘The Silver Tombstone’ by Frank Gruber – November 27th, 2015

by on Nov.27, 2015, under Books

The Silver TombstoneThe Silver Tombstone by Frank Gruber
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I love the characters of this book! Johnny Fletcher and his pal Sam are two whose adventures I’ll to track down more of! Why is it so hard for contemporary writers to create such distinct characters????

Gruber does a crackerjack job of presenting these two ne’er-do-wells as their unorthodox methods of survival propel them into a murder investigation. Past that Gruber’s efforts are more rocky. The whole setup is way to easy. Little complexity to the core story. The few diversions are, for some reason, far too inflated. The ending is short changed by some rather shoddy writing.

Nevertheless, the entire book is great fun and I really enjoyed it.

Bottom line: I recommend this book. 6 out of ten stars.

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Book: ‘Enemy of Mine’ by Brad Taylor – November 25th, 2015

by on Nov.25, 2015, under Books

Enemy of Mine (Pike Logan, #3)Enemy of Mine by Brad Taylor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Brad Taylor whips up a doozy in this third in his Pike Logan series. Though this is another save the world adventure story, this one has many angles and characters involved in an overlapping narrative where everybody has all kinds of problems. Here’s the rare book of it’s kind where nothing goes smoothly. Making this an exciting thriller that deserves the adjectives more than most.

I marvel at the work Taylor had to do to have so much going on with so many and keeping it all straight enough to make a readable and entertaining book. The writing is very good and most of the settings are typically described for a thriller.

The weakest part are the characters, including the main one, Logan. Helpful are the names and nicknames. Though there’s a bit of confusion involving alternate names through parts of the book. Otherwise distinction is slim and descriptions slimmer. Most are illustrated involving their might and muscle. One key character is very well written and described. There’s a lot of emotional background included and not enough of the physical to make most of the characters whole.

Still, it’s a great book, story-wise.

Bottom Line: i recommend it. 7 out of 10 points.

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November 8th, 2015 – Book: ‘ History of Apopka and Northwest Orange County, Florida’ by Jerrell H. Shofner

by on Nov.08, 2015, under Books

History of Apopka and Northwest Orange County, FloridaHistory of Apopka and Northwest Orange County, Florida by Jerrell H. Shofner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Though I’ve gone through this book for various research projects over three decades, this is the first time I’ve read the entire book. AS with any Shofner book, the vast technical history is ever present through out the entire book. Shofner doesn’t put together any history without obvious intense research. He puts other history writers to shame. Thus, his books can be a bit hard to get through as so much is stuffed into a sentence and paragraph. This, now read in it’s entirety, is better written for the average reader than the other books of his I’ve read.

Shofner slips through, what is little known of, early Florida pre-American pioneers. This first part is the weakest presented in writing. Seems to me Shofner gets a bit lost if he can’t write without documented evidence present. Seems Shofner would have great difficulty writing fiction. Giving more confidence in his presenting facts.

The period of the 1800s is extremely well covered and very impressive. Shofner’s concentrated focus of research is very evident. Florida in the 1800s can be a tough bear to contain. Info is elusive and accomplishments very difficult to track down and prove. No doubt Shofner accomplished the proving part. Presentation is also excellent.

Though I wish the book was sectioned by decade or century, this is a rare time, by a writer, that does not happen and it’s also revealing how a century mark does not alter the trajectory of a community due to a century mark.

The 20th century is as well done, but Shofner falls into a trap he has repeated in other books. As names become more available, he includes them in the text of the book. A bit too much space is taken up where it could have been placed in footnotes.

Something often absent in Florida histories is including the developing of black communities. Shofner does a tremendous job of adding and writing of it. His pointing out the black community asked not to have their streets paved and then 40 years later complaining about it, reveals the troubles of Florida history in the last 50 years.

As i have seen in other Floria histories, including those I’ve assembled, after the 1950s the trajectory of accomplishments in Florida’s history sputters out and it’s tough to flesh out the history in presentation. Shofner well addresses this in his book as he points out early community leaders die off and are replaced by so many from out of state without the drive, less vision, more interested in profits(government-wise or business) and are not even in the country to guide toward success – OK, I’ve fleshed out a more pointed editorial of Shofner’s words of the empty past 50 years.

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

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