Saturday, June 30, 2007

Things To Support

Got this earlier today and I thought I would post about this worthy endeavor here.....

Contact: Lea Schizas E-Mail:

The Muse Reading and Writing Appreciation Week is coming to a school near you in October.

The Muse Reading and Writing Appreciation Week is a new initiative intended to reach school-aged children and parents across the world. Our goal is to introduce parents and children to local writers and authors who are passionate about creative writing and reading.

Delve into the imagination and bring a child with you!

Scheduled for the week of October 15-19, Reading and Writing Appreciation Week will reach around the globe. Authors, writers, and volunteers will visit schools and offer free handouts and informationto anyone who would like to be involved in helping children and parents understand the value of reading and writing.

If you are interested in having a volunteer come to your classroom to read or to speak about writing during the week of Oct 15-19 please contact/email Lea Schizas at .

Teachers, parents, and writers can remain updated throughout the yearwith tips, ideas, and readers' thoughts and suggestions on how we, as a community, can ban together to help children understand the benefits of reading and writing via the Musing Our Children website:

Share the love of reading with a child or student and watch theirworld blossom! Anyone interested in volunteering to read to children or talk to them about writing during the week of October 15, can contact/email Lea Schizas at or check out for more details.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

"The Secret Of the Lonely Grave" by Albert A. Bell, Jr.

The age old issues of racism and slavery along with the current sensitivity to bullying are all tough topics for kids. Rarely are they handled so well with such sensitivity as they are in this novel.

The Secret Of The Lonely Grave
By Albert A. Bell, Jr.
Ingalls Publishing Group
ISBN # 978-1-932158-79-3
Large Trade Paperback
159 Pages

The story opens in a small town in Western Kentucky where Steve and Kendra can hardly wait for school to be out for the summer in another week. Everyday as they walk up and down a hill on the way to the school bus, they pass an old cemetery. Kendra often stops at the grave marker for her sister Moniqa. They also stop and look at a grave for a child that is set far away from all the others. The two middle school aged children have nicknamed it "the lonely grave." A grave that someone has suddenly started placing fresh flowers on with no explanation.

As the school year ends, the kids realize that someone is placing the flowers on the grave in a regular cycle. They hatch a plan to find out who is doing it and why. Catching the person who is placing the flowers is relatively easy. The real question then becomes why is the grave so far away from the others?

What follows is an entertaining story written primarily for young teens that deals tactfully with divorce and bullying as well as slavery, racism and the legacy of this nation's history. Steve, who is white, and Kendra, who is African-American, are forced to confront what their ancestors may have done long before they were born as well as their relationship with each other in today's America. Both are also forced to deal with bullying and why some children bully. The result is an entertaining read that delves deep into the past while teaching compassion and caring.

Kevin R. Tipple © 2007

The Series Continues in "Invisible Prey"

Well, it is back to work for me. I recently had the pleasure of attending the Hardboiled Heroes & Cozy Cats conference in Dallas thanks to publicist extraordinaire, PJ Nunn. I got to meet her as well as her fantastic husband (who may be as twisted as I am in the humor department) along with a bunch of other great folks. I also got to tell that Texan wannabe Earl Staggs how to drive as he gave me a ride both days to the convention. I won't bore you with the details as I always find those gushing deals a bit off putting myself. Suffice it to say, I had an absolute blast and thank once again PJ Nunn for making it happen. You are the best!

And now, back to the books with……

Invisible Prey
By John Sandford
G. P. Putnam's Sons
ISBN #978-0-399-15421-8
388 Pages

The latest installment of the "Prey" series written by John Sandford finds Lucas Davenport involved in the world of high value antiques. Early in "Invisible Prey" Lucas and his team are called to a home near Lucas' own home where two elderly women have been murdered. The mansion is in disarray in what appears to have been a simple robbery gone horribly wrong. However, Lucas with the help of others, begins to figure out it isn't and the chase for the clever killers is on in another enjoyable page turning read.

While Lucas and his team have no idea who the killers are, readers know from the beginning. It isn't long before their complete identities are known to the reader as well as most of their motivations for their crimes. As a result, this novel while enjoyable does not contain anywhere near the suspense found in other books in the long running series. Since Lucas almost always captures his suspects one way or another the only real question for readers is how he will do it. With characters long since fully formed there are no mysteries in that realm either.

The end result is a novel that is good, but not great. A novel that is enjoyable, but is one of the weaker ones in this strong series.

Kevin R. Tipple © 2007

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Reviewing: "The Blade Itself: A Novel" by Marcus Sakey

This is a case where the basic premise has been done to death. Two young men living a life of crime when one is caught and serves jail time. He comes back home and expects things to resume where they left off. The other has been scared straight, as it were, and isn't interested in going back. Such is the case here. Yet, the execution of the story is how it works for the reader.

The Blade Itself: A Novel
By Marcus Sakey
St. Martin's Minotaur
ISBN #0-312-36031-2
307 Pages

The years have passed and Danny has tried to forget the past which is never far away. Once Danny, Evan and Patrick among others were part of a gang of young toughs who considered themselves invincible. With instincts honed by working the streets, they moved from score to score taking what they wanted and not worrying about the consequences. Danny usually worked with Evan as he did that fateful night.

That one night cost Danny in ways he won't talk about and cost Evan a long term sentence in Statesville maximum security. While Danny still hangs around Patrick, Danny has become what they referred to as a "civilian." He has changed his ways and isn't about to go back and risk losing it all including the love of his life, Karen. Then, Evan returns and is looking for pay back and gratitude for Evans not talking to the cops. Danny's house of cards perfect life begins to teeter and Evan plans to bring it all down.

In what is billed as a debut novel and certainly does not read like one, author Marcus Sakey skillfully weaves a complex tale. A tale that is on first glance, stereotypical in the idea of the con coming back home and looking to be rewarded. And yet through back story, flashbacks, etc. The novel quickly becomes much more. Evan is portrayed as evil initially and yet overtime is seen to have an element, not exactly of goodness, but of something more positive. Danny, a flawed hero, is carried forward not only by the love of a good woman but by memories of what he caused as well as the life his father led.

If has become clich├ęd to believe and live up to the standards that our parents raised us to. That is exactly what happens in this novel. Forces set into motion in childhood rippled forward through their lives and ended in a violent climax in a Chicago construction yard. The past is never really past and everything influences our actions each and every day.

The result is a complex read that touches on social issues while at the same time providing a heck of a good tale, at a fast pace with deep characters. This is a good stuff and well worth your time.

Kevin R. Tipple © 2007

Friday, June 08, 2007

Mark Troy Needs YOUR Help!

I rarely post these sorts of things but being Mark Troy is not only a friend but one of the really good guys around, I figured I would. Take a look at his message below and see if you are interested.


I'm looking for reviews of Hawaiian mysteries to put on my web site, The Hawaiian Eye. You can find a list of Hawaiian mysteries on the Left Coast Crime, 2009 web site. 250 to 500 words. To sweeten the deal, I'll send you a copy of my book, PILIKIA IS MY BUSINESS. If you plan to review a book, contact me first to find out if someone else is already writing a review of it. Tell me what beach you'd be laying on to read it and what you'd be drinking while you read it.If you are an author of a Hawaiian mystery, please contact me. I'd like to interview you.

Mark Troy
Hawaiian Eye Blog