Rob's Blog

Tag: Books

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

2014-1223-Piepers-Sammys

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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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

2014-1008-Happy-OctopusDay

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

2014-1008-Happy-OctopusDay

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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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