"Secrets of San Blas" tells the fictionalized story of the events surrounding what in real life was an unsolved murder of the assistant keeper of the"Secrets of San Blas" tells the fictionalized story of the events surrounding what in real life was an unsolved murder of the assistant keeper of the Cape San Blas Lighthouse in 1938. The main character is the local doctor in the nearest town, Port St. Joe, who ends up doing a little amateur investigating about the crime.
The book is an easy read and felt like it did a good job giving a local feel of Port St. Joe in the late 1930s (I can't say whether or not accurately), without the least bit straying into travelogue territory. It is also set in a real location without relying on impossible geography. The characters seem reasonably realistic. The editing is good, especially for a first-time fiction writer.
Although far from terrible, I thought this was a weak book. Story is okay, but nothing remarkable. It felt repetitive in places, especially certain dialogue, and I really did not like the romantic plot. The doctor's black cook/housekeeper felt like a Magical Negro trope. The whodunit turns out to be unremarkable then is followed with a twist that I thought was a bit contrived.
Of personal disappointment as a lighthouse historian, I was disappointed by how the lighthouse didn't really factor into the story at all. I think it's not unreasonable to expect that a book with a lighthouse on the cover, numerous scenes occurring at the light station, and with the victim and one of the supporting characters being lighthouse keepers that the lighthouse would at some point be more than a background prop. It could have been as simple as one scene were the doctor visits the light station, goes to speak with the keeper, encounters his wife who says the keeper is tending the light, the doctor climbs the lighthouse stairs, and has his conversation with the keeper at the top of the light. While there, the doctor could remark at the view and ask questions out of curiosity of the keeper about the workings of the lighthouse. The lighthouse keeper felt one dimensional: he is always seen sitting on his porch smoking his pipe, his wife and children are mentioned but never seen, and never once is the lighthouse keeper shown doing anything to keep the light.
If you want a lightweight historical novel set in the Florida panhandle then this is fine. If you're looking for an exciting mystery or great lighthouse fiction, look elsewhere....more
While not an exciting read, this is an extensive and well-cited compilation of Seminole Wars history in southeast Florida. This book is of little inteWhile not an exciting read, this is an extensive and well-cited compilation of Seminole Wars history in southeast Florida. This book is of little interest to the average reader, but historians and anyone particularly interested in the Seminole Wars or Jupiter local history will find it worth tracking down a copy....more
This is a history of Native Americans in Florida during the first Spanish Colonial Era (1513-1763) and is intended to serve as a companion to one of tThis is a history of Native Americans in Florida during the first Spanish Colonial Era (1513-1763) and is intended to serve as a companion to one of the author's other books, Archaeology of Precolumbian Florida. This book felt a bit uneven, with some parts of the topic being covered pretty well (early Spanish expeditions, the Mission system) while other parts get too little attention, particularly the central and southern Florida tribes. The English-sponsored raids into Florida are mentioned, but I felt the subject was skimmed over. I have to wonder if Milanch made some decisions about what to focus on in this book based on an awareness that Indians of Central and South Florida, 1513-1763 was in the works? (The two books were published a few years apart and Milanich wrote the Foreword of Hann's book.) Hann is a skilled researcher and archaeologist, but I think Milanich is a better writer.
Mild recommendation. This is a satisfactory, but not great introduction to the subject matter....more
Three story arcs involving Batgril against Grotesque, the Court of Owls, and Knightfall. There's also a subplot about her brother and her mother.
I picThree story arcs involving Batgril against Grotesque, the Court of Owls, and Knightfall. There's also a subplot about her brother and her mother.
I picked this up from the public library shelf, but it's not really a good place to start being Volume 2 and being set in the New 52. The middle arc about the Court of Owls seems to end really abruptly; it felt almost like there was a missing issue. Otherwise, it's solid and Barbara/Batgirl is an interesting character, particularly her dealing with a return to walking and being under the cowl again. The Knightfall arc also deals with some of the moral aspects of vigilantes....more
This volume of the "Before Watchmen" series compiles the Minutemen and Silk Spectre II comics. Like the other volume I read recently (Nite Owl / Dr. MThis volume of the "Before Watchmen" series compiles the Minutemen and Silk Spectre II comics. Like the other volume I read recently (Nite Owl / Dr. Manhattan / Moloch) it's a mixed bag.
The Minutemen comics are probably the best of the bunch, fleshing out the 1940s superheroes of the Watchmen universe who are mostly seen only very briefly in the original story. Told mostly through the perspective of Mason Hollis / Nite Owl I, I think this part does a good job of staying true to the tone and style of the original Watchmen, although I think some of it may be a little contradictory of Watchmen canon (definitely of some of the events shown in the movie adaptation's excellent opening credits montage).
On the contrary, I think Silk Spectre is the worst of the prequel comics. Telling the story of Laurie's teenage years, about the only thing it gets right is to subvert hippie culture. I thought it otherwise felt rather out of place with the rest of Watchmen and Before Watchmen. It also has a lackluster plot and resolution....more
I understand that doing prequels to "Watchmen" is a bit odd; the original graphic novel was a deconstruction. However, while I think the original is gI understand that doing prequels to "Watchmen" is a bit odd; the original graphic novel was a deconstruction. However, while I think the original is good, I'm certainly no Alan Moore fanboy and I think the Watchmen universe is interesting enough to merit further exploration.
This volume contains the stories for Nite Owl, Dr. Manhattan, and Moloch. Nite Owl's story is a mixed bag. His origin story is kind of interesting and he serves as a sort of mirror to Rorschach, with whom he teams. One of the characters makes an observation along those lines. Other parts of the story feel like ham-fisted foreshadowing rather than clever. There's also a subplot about the first Nite Owl having some dark secret which was never clearly explained.
Manhattan's story is a big mess of quantum weirdness. It may be appropriate for the character, but isn't the best reading. There are some further explorations of the alternate history angle and further backstory on Manhattan and his father.
Moloch had only a small role in the original so arguably he benefits most here. The first half is Moloch's life story and probably the best part of this volume. The second half was perhaps the worst as it felt like a great deal of explaining things that didn't need explaining.
The art style and general tone seemed to reasonably capture that of the original, for better or worse (the sex and nudity in particular seemed a bit excessive, but the same can be said for the original).
If you're a fan of the original (or the movie adaptation) and not offended by the whole idea of Watchmen prequels then you'll probably like this....more
This is actually two consecutive story arcs: the main arc of Green Arrow in the Star City Forest during the events of Brightest Day, and a shorter arcThis is actually two consecutive story arcs: the main arc of Green Arrow in the Star City Forest during the events of Brightest Day, and a shorter arc involving a high-tech radical Evangelist terrorist. What ties the arcs together is Green Arrow dealing with his killing of the supervillain Prometheus (after Prometheus blew up part of the city and killed or injured several people close to Green Arrow).
The forest arc feels like the title character is secondary to Jason Blood, Etrigan, and Galahad. Otherwise its okay. The terrorist arc is more focused, although tries a little too hard to humanize the villains. Batman makes a cameo and delivers a line about the evangelist terrorists being "real people with real beliefs" and not merely lunatics.
Arrow's guilt/regret over killing Prometheus and his subsequent reluctant to kill anyone else (even people trying to kill him, or who will kill others if they escape) makes for some good character development, but I don't actually like it from a fan standpoint. While Green Arrow is one of my favorite DC characters, I'm not sufficiently familiar with his canon history to comment whether his behavior here here consistent with the character i.e. has he historically had a no-kill policy. My not having read the earlier Prometheus storyline doesn't help.
I liked the art style, as I usually do with DC....more
This book is a political history of Florida from 1940 to 2006. This time period saw not only massive population growth in Florida and the end of segreThis book is a political history of Florida from 1940 to 2006. This time period saw not only massive population growth in Florida and the end of segregation, but also a transition from a one-party state (Southern Democrats) to the peak of Republican hegemony in Florida. (You know the author is an academic by how often he uses the term "hegemony".) Why and how did this transition occur?
Colburn delivers what I think is a pretty fair political history, offering pros and cons of most politicians and issues, both Republican and Democrat. This history is focused on the state's governors so emphasis is not surprisingly placed on the two-term governors from this time period: Leroy Collins, Reuben Askew, Bob Graham, Lawton Chiles, and Jeb Bush. The author shows how the internal struggles of the Democratic party and why rise of the Republican party was a slow and sporadic process and why it finally became the majority party in the state. An entire chapter is also dedicated to the 2000 Presidential Election, of which Florida's role is infamous.
Weaknesses of the book are being too tightly focused on the governors (a little more attention to major congressmen would have helped), the short length (less than 220 main pages), and too much emphasis on race as a political issue. More illustrations would have been beneficial, and not just of the people involved. For example, the chapter of the 2000 presidential election includes a political cartoon about the ballots, but not a picture of the actual ballot.
While not great writing and neither deep nor groundbreaking, this book is still a solid introduction to Florida politics in the 20th century....more
This is the first book I've read by somewhat famous Florida author Randy Wayne White. It is part of a new Hannah Smith series rather than the Doc FordThis is the first book I've read by somewhat famous Florida author Randy Wayne White. It is part of a new Hannah Smith series rather than the Doc Ford series that White is best known for, although Ford is one of the secondary characters (albeit one who is absent for a large portion of the book). This is not the first book in the series and I got the sense that, while it can be read as a standalone, is much better read after the first Hannah Smith book. I'm not sure whether reading the Doc Ford series before the Hannah Smith series is good or bad; Ford's appearance in this book is presented a bit mysteriously and I suspect most of that mystery vanishes if you've read his series.
Both series are set in the around around Sanibel Island and Pine Island near Fort Myers, but most of the place names involve fictional geography, especially a non-existent Sematee County, and renders the map inside the cover almost meaningless. Hannah Smith is a charter boat captain and part-time private investigator who gets mixed up in a web of greed, drugs, and murder. It starts a little slow and seemingly random, but picks up steams and packs into plenty of drama and suspense.
Rand Wayne White's writing is generally good, although he's got odd quirk. He's fond of ending a chapter on a cliffhanger then jumping ahead in time to start the next chapter before flashing back. There are also quite a few plot threads going on at once, although they all link together in different ways.
I thought Hanna Smith was a fairly strong but reasonably realistic character (and for those who care she passes the Bechdel test in this book), but I found almost every other character unlikable, even the ones not intended to be antagonists.
I would ideally give this 3 1/2 stars, but I'll lean toward the higher rating for it succeeding as a page-turner....more
"Bitten" is the experiences of a man who moved to South Florida to teach English at FAU. I found the the resulting takes of gardening, fishing, and bi"Bitten" is the experiences of a man who moved to South Florida to teach English at FAU. I found the the resulting takes of gardening, fishing, and birding almost completely uninteresting. Furman mixes in some history and news so its not pure memoir, but at a measly 167 pages this book is far too short for any depth. This may be charming for other transplant homeowners, but it holds no interest for me. I would have given up on this book sooner if I hadn't been vetting it for possible use in a Florida book club....more