Rob's Blog

Tag: western book

October 29th, 2015 – Book: ‘Eyes of Eagles’ by William Johnstone.

by on Oct.29, 2015, under Books

Eyes of Eagles (Eagles, #1)Eyes of Eagles by William W. Johnstone
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Eagles series of books is one, soon to be of the few, series that started while William Johnstone was alive. Would like to hope this has more of Johnstone in it than ghost writers, but we all may never know.

This is a sprawling book that could have been three or more books. An enormous amount is covered here. Yes, unlike so much written today, this is a cohesive story that is pretty tight. One of the reasons i like the Johnstone Clan herd of books is the editing process works where it seems to be practically missing in the bulk of books written today.

The writing is not as good as in other books written during Johnstone’s lifetime, but still much better than so many contemporary novels I’ve read. Considering how many characters, fiction & non-fiction, are presented throughout the novel, the definition is very impressive. Characters are the greatest strength of the Johnstone Clan books.

The last third of the book covers the Alamo story that is extremely well done. If that were set as a book of it’s own, I would give this five stars.

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

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August 4th, 2015 – Book: ‘The Big Gundown’ by J.A. Johnstone

by on Aug.04, 2015, under Books

The Big Gundown (The Loner, #4)The Big Gundown by J.A. Johnstone

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The first three in the series of ‘The Loner’ does a great job with having some of the most complex plots of any of the Johnstone Clan books. This one leans in that direction and then comes apart midway through as the book settles with multiple bad guys and the good guy. I expected far more as the book developed, as in the previous books. Instead, the hero continues with an odd masquerade. The disguise is unneeded at a point and he could have accomplished his goal. Instead, the there are explosions and shootouts. One “instead” can be OK. Two are too many.

The characters are too much like others earlier in the series. Unfortunately notches below the earlier ones. The hero playing his own spy, slides away from the build up in the previous three books and acts more a specter of portrayals of Smoke Jensen.

The setting is sparse as a chunk of the book takes place in a loosely written hideout that is described at being complex, but not well explained. One part very clunky throughout the book involves a tank. The part hard to understand is the ease with which this tank is moved through the story. The tank is described as massive, but the movement seems more of a feather.

Disappointing entry in the series. Worse of the four books.

Bottom line: I do not recommend this book. 4 of 10 points.

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May 31st, 2015 – Book: ‘Remember the Alamo’ by William Johnstone

by on May.31, 2015, under Books

Remember the AlamoRemember the Alamo by William W. Johnstone
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

‘Remember the Alamo’ is a fun book by the Johnstone Clan. Albeit beyond preposterous. The writing is looser than other Johnstone books. The characters are pretty good, though not as sharp as in other books.

The plotting is sloppiest involving the Hillary Clinton-type president that is demo-goding a situation involving the Alamo. It’s written that Congress is behind her, but little more is mentioned about the Congress, the Cabinet or much of anyone else in charge. Some unbelievable situations occur and the Clinton-type is riding herd to her goal. That’s an interesting stance to take if she had first released Congress from it’s handle of guiding the nation. Otherwise, Congress would’ve stepped in to any number of degrees to intercept even to support her.

None of that happens. The book is written as Alamo vs. Washington. There are some real bad guys who started all this, but they start to slide in importance as the book runs along.

Unfortunately, the characters seem to run together, especially involving the good guys. In other Johnstone books, the characters and their story help enormously involving rocky stories. The Dave and Caroline Rodriguez characters are the mostly compelling to me and it would be nice to see the Johnstone Clan explore those two further in another book.

The book is still fun to read. The characterization of those in the White House are sometimes as much fun as they are shocking. This Johnstone Clan book takes the ultra-liberal president character to heights hard to imagine.

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

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February 2nd, 2015 – Book- “The Last Mountain Man: Savage Territory’ by W.W. Johnstone

by on Feb.02, 2015, under Books

Savage Territory (Matt Jensen: The Last Mountain Man, #4)Savage Territory by William W. Johnstone

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m reading these in order and this is the fourth in the series. After a bumpy third book, this one gets more on track of the first two with similar quality and story telling. This is not as good as the first two, but still, involving story telling better than most all of the rest of the Johnstone Clan written books.

Seems this is the same writer as the other three books, for, again, there is an interest in trains, a Perry Mason-type trial and attention to detail missing in most Johnstone books. The writing is very good. The characters well written, as usual.

This is the first of the four where the outcome is pretty obvious from the start. The writer keeps the reader guessing as to just how the obvious ending could possibly occur with so many characters going in so many different directions. It all works well.

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

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January 27th, 2015 – Book: ‘Matt Jensen: the Last Mountain Man’ by William Johnstone & pals.

by on Jan.27, 2015, under Books

Matt Jensen: The Last Mountain Man (Matt Jensen: The Last Mountain Man, #1)Matt Jensen: The Last Mountain Man by William W. Johnstone

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As I have found the first books in a Johnstone Clan series are dynamite and this is one, too. A thoroughly satisfying western with a great underlying story with typical protagonists, lots of action and a very good ending.

Before this I read a book by L’Amour. The difference between the two writers, to me, that L’Amour was a literary writer and the Johnstone Clan tell simpler stories with a knack to craft characters the readers can care about. I’ve found myself not caring much about L’Amour characters. The Johnstone characters I usually want to know more about which pulls me into more novels in the in numerous series.

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

(side note: I happened to find this book during my travels and started it the same day. that has almost never happened. Hundreds of books writing to be read and I prop open a novel the same day I buy it. This happens to be a first of a series I’ve wanted to start, I hadn’t ready a Johnstone this month and I just finished a book and needed to start one all got me to read this immediately.)

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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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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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November 27th, 2013 – Book: ‘War of the Mountain Man’ by William Johnstone.

by on Nov.28, 2013, under Books

War of the Mountain ManWar of the Mountain Man by William W. Johnstone
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Taking this as a stand alone novel that hasn’t had a series of books before it with very similar plots, this is a good book. In regard to it’s part in a series with repetitive storylines, this is the best of that lot. I’m baffled as to why Johnstone decided to repeat the same plot so many times of the series character, Smoke Jensen, going to save a town under the thumb of a series of bad guys.

This one has better character development involving the bad guys and others. As is mostly typical of the Johnstone Clan books, the dialogue is very good. There is a slight twist involved, but it’s not at all well presented.

This is the first where there are many scenes that are repeated from the other books. Too many similar plot devices and settings.

To just regard this as a single piece gies the book a higher rating from me. In view of being part of a series, it gets low marks. As i read, i thought of better stories that could have been told involving many of the characters. I hope future parts of the series get better.

Bottom line: If you’re reading the series, I don’t recommend this book. If you’re not reading the series and can’t get to the first book to start the series. This is a good entry point.

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July 5th, 2013 – Book: ‘Showdown at Yellow Butte’ by Louis L’Amour

by on Jul.05, 2013, under Books

Showdown at Yellow ButteShowdown at Yellow Butte by Louis L’Amour

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I noticed this with a few other L’Amour books I’ve read: Within twenty pages the reader finds themselves dumped in a sea of names with little to no background as to who they are. In this case it was worse for a couple names are similar. Worse, as the book goes on, some switch from good to bad and vice versa. Many characters are hardly explained throughout the book except for what side they are. I had trouble keeping track of who was through throughout the book. Here’s further credit I can give for the William Johnstone clan and their westerns that are often peppered with lots of characters as I’ve yet to get so confused.

However, I thought the story was a good one even if I did get lost at times. There’s a good mystery that can keep you guessing until the end and plenty of shootouts. I kinda wish L’Amour had done more with series, because I do like the main character, Kedrick, and wish there was more of him. Especially outside the Western genre as referred to in the book.

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This book makes 30 books read so far this year.

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January 10th, 2013: Book – ‘The Gentle Desperado’ by Max Brand.

by on Jan.11, 2013, under Books

The Gentle DesperadoThe Gentle Desperado by Max Brand

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is a book assembled by the publishers of three of “Max Brand”‘s stories originally published in a western magazine. The three are loosely strung together. Though there are no separators of the three stories, it is very obvious that there are three. Each is a good story. The conclusion of all three stories have a very good twist, as is often the case with a “Brand” story.

I just wish “Brand” had done a better job writing them. The dialogue and narrative is very stilted even for the 1920s, when the three stories were originally published. Some of the stilted writing, I realize, is based on two of the characters. But did so much have to be written this way, too?

There is also an issue of what seem to be missing stories that fell in between the ones presented. They are referred to, but make the stories more confusing.

I’m just glad this was not my first “brand” novel, or I might have given up on him. I almost wonder if he had ghost writers produces the stories, in that the writing is often so irregular.

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January 5th, 2013 – Book: The Hell Road by Ray Hogan

by on Jan.05, 2013, under Books

Hell RoadHell Road by Ray Hogan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Ray Hogan sure knows how to fill a few pages. Not with the ability of his colleague Louis L’Amour, but still done with great skill. This story today would have been split into a 4 part series of 500 pages each. Hogan accomplishes the same feat in 126 pages. Sure it could all be better flushed out. Hogan assembles a great western novel better without the excess.

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