Rob's Blog

Tag: Books

January 27th, 2014 – Book: ‘Nick Carter- The Doomsday Formula’

by on Jan.27, 2014, under Books

The Doomsday Formula (Killmaster, #50)The Doomsday Formula by Nick Carter

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Considering it’s genre, this is a good book with typical Nick Carter trimmings. A lot is obvious and that takes away a lot. How Carter gets through the story is not so obvious, which has me rate the story good.

The setting is rather well defined for such a short book. The characters are very loosely defined. Who they are is obvious. The writing is standard with the Carter character with the best lines.

I’m reading this prior to reading a Mickey Spillane book written at the same time. Thought it would be interesting to read similar genre series books of a time period that was seeing enormous thrusts off a cliff for America. This book hardly refers to the 1969 period of hippies, Viet Nam and the like.

Bottom line: I recommend this book for the action/adventure enthusiast.

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January 19th, 2014 – Book: ‘Path of the Assasin’ by Brad Thor

by on Jan.20, 2014, under Books

Path Of The Assassin (Scot Harvath, #2)Path Of The Assassin by Brad Thor

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is certainly a thrilling novel. It’s rather well written (Though, did spot quite a number of typos in the text set). There’s a good story with good twists and turns. For the espionage adventure reader, there is a lot of fun and well worth reading.

However, something about the Thor books bother me. I’ve read about four of them and all leave me feeling that the stories are contrived. In this case, the idea that the hero is thrown together with someone who quickly becomes very good battling with well trained military members seems as if the author went through a checklist of characters to fill the story with instead of having a story and letting the characters create themselves. The other obvious intent of the partner seems the same. The final wrap up was various obvious from the start and frustrating to end with as compared to begin with.

I’ve got the entire Thor series and will likely try another down the road. Call me a sucker. I do like the overall story and the exciting scenes included.

Bottom line: I recommend this for the espionage/action/adventure reader.

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January 17th, 2014 – #DailyInks #17 – Melbourne, Florida, 1950s Construction!

by on Jan.18, 2014, under Cartooning, Swampy's Florida


Here’s a page from the upcoming ‘Swampy’s Florida: Melbourne’. Swampy and friends off to construct everything in sight as so many did around Melbourne in the 1950s. The book should be available in two months through The Knowledge Exchange.

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January 9th, 2014 – Book: ‘Murder is My Business’ by Brett Halliday.

by on Jan.10, 2014, under Books

Murder Is My BusinessMurder Is My Business by Brett Halliday
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love to start the year with a Michael Shayne mystery. I’ve already read most of the series in the early 2000s. I didn’t get to many that didn’t take place in Florida and the ones being pumped out by ghost writers post-Dave Dresser or 1960. I did have this as already read as I mixed this title up with another in the series. Just to note: I hadn’t read this before and somehow have two now marked here.

This was a great Shayne novel. This one taking place in Texas. As usual Dresser knows his terrain and locations seem real as well as the characters. The mystery is very good with many layers involved. The reader is kept guessing until the end, though this one has a key clue flipped at a little too opportune time. Still a very good mystery well worth the time – If you can find it.

Bottom line: I recommend this book.

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January 5th, 2013 – Book: ‘Jack Lemmon’ by Michael Freedland.

by on Jan.06, 2014, under Books

Jack LemmonJack Lemmon by Michael Freedland
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Michael Freedland does what so many authors do that create a series with a similar theme. Much like a snow ball gets larger as it rolls down a mountain, as Freedland interviews the various celebrities for the various biographies he produces he picks up other stories and quotes involving other celebrities. He obviously stores the snippets of others lives. Then when he feels he has enough to construct another biography, he flings open the filing cabinets, digs out the gathered information and constructs a book.

There’s nothing wrong with what he does. Most all authors do this when creating a series. However, most work to take earlier research notes, string it together and fill in the gaps to create the whole story in whatever the subject is.

Freedland leaves wide gaps in Lemmon’s story. The book at times leaps from one point in Lemmon’s life to another. The inconsistency is a bit irritating. For instance very little is written about Jack Lemmon’s filming of ‘Some Like It Hot’ but plenty is filled out about ‘Save the Tiger’. There is also the lacking hindsight issue. Freedland expands the Lemmon story as it reaches his book’s publication date. The earlier history is far less complete.

Despite all this criticism, I like the end result because, though there is much lacking, what is there is well written, presented and obviously celebrity stories and quotes would be lost to time if Freedland hadn’t bothered to gather them over time and present them in this volume.

So, if you want a thorough Jack Lemmon biography, this isn’t it. If you want an over view packed with nifty stories of Lemmon’s life, track this now out of print book down.

Bottom line: I recommend it.

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December 31st, 2014 – Book: ‘Aunt Dimity Digs In’ by Nancy Atherton.

by on Dec.31, 2013, under Books

Aunt Dimity Digs In (An Aunt Dimity Mystery, #4)Aunt Dimity Digs In by Nancy Atherton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really do like Atherton’s writing style. It is so well done. To avoid repetition, please see my review of the previous Dimity book I read, Aunt Dimity’s Good Deed.

Had a discussion about authors and the appeal of the writing seen more prior to about 1930. Atherton is much like that in description and style. As I read her books I often forget the time period of the story is current.

This story is a weaving of many elements that is better accomplished than ion the first two I read. There’s no murder or explosions. Just a theft of a brochure. What that theft leads to is one revelation after another.

Another element I like, which gets added to in this volume, are the stuffed animals involved. You have to be reading the series, to understand what this means.

I’m anxious to get to the next book. Though wonder how the setting where this story takes place and where the main character lives can be used again after mining so much of her neighborhood’s past.

Bottom line: I recommend this book.

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December 15th, 2013 – Book: ‘The Christmas Garden Affair’ by Ann Ripley.

by on Dec.15, 2013, under Books, What's New?

The Christmas Garden AffairThe Christmas Garden Affair by Ann Ripley

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A standard mystery that probably goes a bit far describing the garden business. Certainly overblowing it’s importance. Though it needs to balance the book.

The writing is fine. Wish there were more descriptions of the setting of scenes. Also, though the characters were well defined, somehow I was getting confused as to who was who. It could be that my not being a fan of landscaping had me a bit detached.

I read this because there is an indication by the title and the cover that Christmas was somehow involved. Christmas is barely mentioned until page 218 and then the reference continues. All culminating in an epilogue involving the holiday. This book could have been set at anytime and Christmas was just a tool to sell the book.

A big pet peeve involves a detail that is just wrong – PBS leaves their programming to the individual stations across the country. Especially since the time this book came about. Some prime time programming is consistent with stations, but a garden show could fall at anytime anywhere during a time period. That throws off a conflict in the story that is noted early on.

Bottom line: i recommend this book as an average mystery.

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December 10th, 2013 – Book: ‘A Lone Star Christmas’ by the Johnstone Clan.

by on Dec.10, 2013, under Books

A Lone Star ChristmasA Lone Star Christmas by William W. Johnstone

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Am I ever surprised that i found a book worse than the last Johnstone book I read a couple weeks ago. This is the 4th out of the last six Johnstone books I’ve disliked, this one being the worse. This is one of the worse I’ve read in a decade. I better check reviews and be sure to dip into a good one of the Johnstone clan or it’s going to be real difficult to continue with so many books I still have ahead of me in the various series.

This book is atrociously written. One thing that writers are taught is to cover the who, what, why and how in a story. However, don’t actually use the words. This book is full of the ‘w’s and ‘how’s. Throughout the book the rhythm changes constantly. The ending is completely ridiculous as suddenly out of the 15 or so Johnstone books I’ve read, a supernatural silliness occurs. Then their are all sorts of historical issues involved.

This book raises questions for me such as how many writers were involved with the project? The book’s writing style swings from heavy romantic to violent gunfights. Neither of those two written the same way. There are many scenes that have other styles. The supernatural scene suddenly finds no one asking “who”, “what, “why”, etc, when then it just might fit. The dialogue of Smoke Jensen also changes throughout the book depending on scenes. Apparently this was a collaborative effort gone real wrong.

Was there a continuity check? The usual setting descriptions are nearly gone. The only character who seemed to stay the same as in other books is Sally Jensen.

The book appears to have been planned with an ending in mind that, based on the 15 books I’ve read, is a real easy , simplistic plot device, that has to have the reader wonder if there are other astral entities floating about in the series not yet revealed. Is Smoke so fast because he’s really an alien from another planet? Will that be a plot in a future Johnstone entry? When a series suddenly breaks out into fantasy, readers have to wonder what the heck is going on.

The underlying Christmas theme is spotty and otherwise dreck.

Something that may not be helping is that just before this book i was reading one of Nancy Atherton’s Dimitry series books that is beautifully written. Coming to this is a major let down.

I almost took a further step down. This morning I thought i would start Rite Mae Brown’s ‘Santa Clawed’. Got three pages in and realized that I was about to read something worse than ‘A Lone Star Christmas’ and, for the first time I can remember, put the book down. I’m pretty sure cats and dogs are not thinking such trite, shallow human thoughts as applied by Brown. Yuck!

I feel pretty cheated by ‘A Lone Star Christmas’. However, I’ve had fun in this past year tracking down the Johnstone series and don’t want to give up on it. The next book I read will be selected carefully and I sure hope for far better results.

Bottom line: Don’t read this book.

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December 10th, 2013 – #DailyInks #39 : Christmas Caricature!

by on Dec.10, 2013, under Cartooning


Penciled and prepped this caricature yesterday afternoon before wheeling out to the event I posted about last night. As was the case yesterday, i met with Kristina, below, who requested this illustration. Yesterday we met in Winter Garden, Florida, and today met in Leesburg  to watercolor the artwork at the Leesburg Library coffee shop.

I watercolored the artwork with the exception of the orange color seen. Used a Prang marker brush to really pop the color out representing the colors of the Tennessee college that has a football team, the Volunteers.Not surprisingly I know more about the name of the volunteers and it’s place in Civil War history than the name of the college that has a football team with the name. :)


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