Rob's Blog

Tag: Books

May 19th, 2015 – Book: ‘Cross Creek’ by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

by on May.19, 2015, under Books

Cross CreekCross Creek by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Rawlings collected writings of life in early 1900s Florida is what I deem a classic in writing. This set of essays is just extraordinary in more than writing. It’s also a view into the mind of one with a view of life that is nearly unacceptable in today’s narrow-minded, politically correct American life.

My friend B.K. recently brought to my attention, unknowingly, that I had not read Cross Creek. Considering how much I’ve read of my great state of Florida, I admit embarrassment that Cross Creek hadn’t been crossed yet.

Crossing the literary creek was an experience I’m glad I had today and not 30 years ago. Today I know the area and much about what went on in our state at the time of Rawling’s writing to better understand her adventures.

Rawlings literary renderings of Florida life are of the type that places the reader in the setting of a natural area, her home or a courtroom. She covers stories of all just mentioned and so much more of the rural living away from big cities. From hunting to farming to the personalities who lived around Cross Creek.

The writing of the natural areas she encounters is a work of beauty, whether she describes hanging spanish moss or the flowering plants she plants. Even better composed are her trips to Cross Creek and her trips along the waters in Florida.

For today’s America Rawling’s view of life would be considered a variety of popular terminology used by the over-sensitive-set. Yet, she is a she and tagging her sexist, racist or whatever is where the current name-callers get shutdown. The politically-correct crowd is precisely what Rawlings is pointing out she wants to get away from and live a real life with real people. Real people are not politically correct – which becomes abundantly clear as one reads Cross Creek.

This is an amazing work that should be a must-read for any lover of books and exceptional writing.

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

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May 14th. 2015 – ‘Richard Deacon’s Microwave Oven Cookbook’!

by on May.14, 2015, under Books

2015-0514-RichardDeacon-1

Richard Deacon‘s Microwave Oven Cookbook’!
Don’t know about you, but I only listen to what character actors recommend when I operate a microwave!

Learned it would have been Deacon’s 94th birthday today, so let’s celebrate! grin emoticon Here’s the cover and the back cover below. I found it during my travels this past week. I’m always finding fun oddities like this and will try to post them occasionally.

2015-0514-RichardDeacon-2

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April 19th, 2015 – My Swampy’s Florida at Dunnellon’s Boomtown Days event!

by on Apr.19, 2015, under Cartooning, Swampy's Florida

2015-0419-SwampysFlorida-FromSat-Boomtown

With my Swampy’s Florida at Dunnellon’s Boomtown yesterday. With me is City Commissioner Penny Fleeger, Jeff Smith and Tessa Noell helping out. Big crowds and lot’s of folks wanting to know about our great state of Florida!

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April 14th, 2015 – Book: ‘Cast, in Order of Disappearance’ by Simon Brett.

by on Apr.14, 2015, under Books

Cast, in Order of Disappearance (Charles Paris, #1)Cast, in Order of Disappearance by Simon Brett

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was surprised to learn that this was the first in the Charles Paris series. Reading the book, the narrative seemed to need early knowledge of the character which didn’t exist. There are also many very British notations throughout. For the casual reader, this book is likely to be very confusing. Not helping is that the book is very firmly set in 1975.

The story is very good with a great mystery involved. Pay attention and the answer to the riddle is there. The characters are very well written, which helps carry a more shaky narrative.

Overall, it’s a rather light book. A perfect book for a weekend outing…with a very British setting.

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

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April 12th, 2015 – Book: ‘Flamingo Road’ by Robert Wilder

by on Apr.12, 2015, under Books

Flamingo RoadFlamingo Road by Robert Wilder

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Robert Wilder’s ‘Flamingo Road’ is fictitious tale of a fictional town, Truro, with fictional characters. However, the political activity that is the foundation of this story was and is very real and happens all the time. The wondrous job Wilder does is plot the political actions taken throughout the book. As someone involved with politics, I can write Wilder does an excellent job.

Where I feel Wilder slips is over writing his narrative. It’s a problem that exists more today. There were many places where an editor should have pulled back Wilder’s reigns.

The characters are very well done. The sadistic depiction of each character is a highlight of Wilder’s work. The setting of Florida is well written. I wish he’d selected an actual location. Even an actual County. I understand the corruption that is involved, but he could have been a bit more specific. The town name of Truro is puzzling, too. The explanation is likely to be found in a Wilder interview of some such.

A bit about the film version. Too bad Shirley MacLaine wasn’t available yet for such a role. She would have been perfect as Lane Ballou. Wilder’s writing fits MacLaine so well, it’s surprising it’s impossinle for him to have known of MacLaine when he wrote the book around 1940, nearly 15 years before MacLaine started film work.

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



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April 5th, 2015 – Book: ‘Coup D’Etat’ by Ben Coes

by on Apr.05, 2015, under Books

Coup d'Etat (Dewey Andreas, #2)Coup d’Etat by Ben Coes

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The second in the Dewey Andreas series is more the standard of the Super Soldier genre. A big difference is the immense amount of detail covered throughout the book. Obviously Coes or others are checking everything from the outback of Australia to the out back of India. Don’t know about the accuracy, but it sounds good.

The story is vast and covers a lot of territory. As with so many contemporary over sized novels I’ve read, this book could have been three…or even four books.

Though the book is long and could use some editing, the writing is far tighter in Coes book, as I recall it to be in the first in series, ‘Power Down’.

The characters are extremely well developed. Good guys, bad guys and others.

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

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April 1st, 2014 – Book: ‘American Jihad’ by William Johnstone

by on Apr.01, 2015, under Books

Black Ops: American JihadBlack Ops: American Jihad by William W. Johnstone

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What I hate most about this book: There has only been one made! Apparently whatever fall out occurred between the mysterious “Fred Austin” mentioned on the cover killed off this series.

First great element of this novel is the continuation of the “Smoke” Jensen legacy to today with “smoke”‘s great grandson. It’s just not a mention of the relation but the weaving of the family connection into the story. It is a bit pretentious, but adds much to the story.

Another great element of the book is the handling of the story in a far more realistic light than the various super soldier novels want to reveal. The conflict of the media and layers are generally entirely absent from the typical espionage story. This book takes it all head-on and lays the ground work for a series that never happened.

The writing is typical of a Johnstone Clan book with great characters and a fun, fast moving story.

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

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March 26th, 2015 – ‘Eight Hours to Die’ by William W. Johnstone

by on Mar.26, 2015, under Books

Eight Hours to Die (Sixkiller: U.S. Marshal, #3)Eight Hours to Die by William W. Johnstone

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It is amazing how the Johnstone Clan of writers can draw a reader into a tale. They did it again here with this offering from the Johnstone Herd of books.

The tale is a fun ride of a town in trouble and Sixkiller rides in to try and save the day. After reading so many Johnstone books in the past two years, the tales do start to sound familiar when a weaker writer gets hold of it. That is the case here. As much fun as the story is and the pages turn faster and faster as excitement builds, this Johnstone tale is lacking.

As the book proceeds the story resolves itself a bit too easily. There’s little in the way of twists and turns to help the story have more meat to it’s bone. There is a significant twist in the story that comes at a very odd part of the book.

The characters make it all worthwhile. Most are well done. Though, many are given little background and some are never given names.

The two biggest clunkers of the product is a goofy cover and an unrelated book title.

Still the book is worth reading for the fun of it all.

Bottom line: i recommend the book. 5 of 10 points.

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MArch 24th, 2015 – Book: ‘The Saint in Miami’ by Leslie Charteris

by on Mar.24, 2015, under About Us

The Saint in MiamiThe Saint in Miami by Leslie Charteris

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is an outstanding book for many reasons.

It’s the first Charteris book I’ve read and I must seek more. The writing is very good.The characters are well defined. The plotting also intricately planned. Especially considering today there is the perspective of the past and how much Charteris was cobbling together of the larger World War to come.

Reading this book had me banging my head into the wall as to why authors just won’t write like this today???? Same thoughts while reading Slaughter or even Brett Halliday. Is it so hard to write with intelligence?

The Florida angle: This, for me, is the best part! Charteris went far, far, far beyond my expectations depicting Florida! Clearly he traveled the state and did careful research.

His weakest description is around Miami. The beach area and the coast are written loosely. Though, a commentary of Miami Beach tourists is particularly well done. Since the sketchy description is early on, I figured the Florida setting to get worse. It doesn’t. His driving narrative reflects well the roadways around Dade County in 1940.

He kicks it all up a notch with his writing of areas in the Everglades. A floating gambling pub and surroundings are well depicted. It’s their trip through the Gig Cypress (Which was yet to come and referred to as the Everglades) that Charteris really nails down the writing of sawgrass, swamp trudging, a rain storm, felled trees in the swamp and so much more.

So much of Charteris description of Florida is better than what celebrated Florida authors do today.

A couple of oddities in writing of Florida:
*) The sheriff is a main character throughout. But the more prominant law in the area, the Miami and Miami Beach police are barely mentioned. Seems that is for expediting the story.
*) A character is coming from “Olustee”, which is written as somewhat nearby. Olustee sems to stand in for Raiford.
*) Though heat and sweat are occasionally mentioned, the reality of a visitor from the UK in many situations exposed to heavy heat is not well covered.

The best part of the book is the accurate Florida setting.

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



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March 12th, 2015 – Book: ‘On Target’ by Mark Greaney

by on Mar.12, 2015, under Books

On Target (Court Gentry, #2)On Target by Mark Greaney

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

‘On Target’ is a terrific adventure. So many books have a formalized plot. I charged into this book thinking I would travel a somewhat similar trail. Author Greaney takes his hero and hurls him into one mess after the other. Soon the original mission of the hero transforms into various levels of excitement and viewpoints and the ending becomes mysterious at each page turn.

The writing is very good. The characters are very well described and explained.

When the girl character appeared, I figured she was dropped in as love interest. She’s more than that. Though, she could have just as well be a boy. In that sense the woman character felt forced.

The other issue is my typical cry of a contemporary novel that could have had 50 less pages or so. It helps that Greaney has a compelling story to better carry the reader through extraneous text.

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

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