Sunday, August 19, 2007

Been Busy

Well, it has been ten days and I am sorry I haven't been around. Been horribly busy between doing some job interviews, working on MFOB stuff, and getting ready for school to resume for my wife and youngest son among other things. So, things have been a bit hectic and I have had to set aside my own fiction writing.

Something I need to get back to doing as I have had two acceptances—pending some minor tweaking. And of course there are a couple of other story ideas I have, the novel that is pretty much stalled and plenty of other writing stuff to do.

Not to mention the giant gorilla in the room in the guise of books sitting in their various envelopes waiting to be read and reviewed. Quite a few are already done and a number of them will make their exclusive review appearances on MFOB in a couple of weeks. So, watch this space and there for some interesting news.

Kevin R. Tipple © 2007

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Senior News: July 2007

For those who missed it or weren't able to pick up a copy of the Senior News, below is my column from the July 2007 edition of the newspaper.


Texas In Her Own Words
By Tweed Scott
Redbud Publishing
ISBN # 0-9720293-7-0

As Texans we know we are unique and citizens of the greatest state ever to join the Union. It isn’t bragging when it’s the plain truth. That spirit fills the pages of this book through interviews, photos and essays. With an entertaining forward by Kinky Friedman (no one may write a better forward than Kinky) to the author’s summation aptly titled, “End of the Trail” this book is filled with what makes Texas great. Darrell Royal, Willie Nelson and others at all walks of life contribute their thoughts and observations on Texas and Texans. If that wasn’t enough, there are the numerous pictures, a suggested reading list, and other treats that all combine to make this one for the bookshelves.

Ringside Seat To A Revolution: An Underground Cultural History Of El Paso and Juarez: 1893-1923
By David Dorado Rome
Cinco Puntos Press
ISBN# 0-938317-91-1

With a title as complex as this one the reader has to know this nonfiction book will not be an easy read. It isn’t and yet though it does come across as a college textbook throughout, this book is a fascinating look at an area of history often ignored. What began as a book intended to chart the history of Pancho Villa morphed into a book about the cultural changes in El Paso and Juarez and a Mexican Revolution. The book details the major and minor players on both sides of the border. The work pays significant attention to the “fronterizos” the border residents who are neither totally Mexican nor American and still have their own culture and way of life despite the obstacles the border has become today. Their actions have shaped both cities and the author convincingly makes a case for their impact. The author notes that history in the United States is often told through the lens of a black perspective or a white perspective and he seeks to add the Hispanic or brown perspective to the record. He does so through text, numerous period photographs and drawings, a detailed and extensive acknowledgements section and an index. It ultimately results in an engrossing 293 page book. The author offers readers a fascinating insight into an important historical period which continues to influence both nations today.

Kevin R. Tipple © 2007

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Return to Posadas County in "Final Payment" by Steven Havill

While the westerns he has written don't seem to be carried here, Steven Havill's mysteries always have long wait times for library patrons. The latest was no exception to the rule and another good book well worth the wait.

Final Payment: A Posadas County Mystery
By Steven F. Havill
Thomas Dunne Books
June 2007
ISBN #978-0-312-35415-2
275 Pages

Undersheriff Estelle Reyes-Guzman finds herself in a bit of a predicament as this latest read in a great series opens. The tourists are coming to town and in a big way. The village of Posadas, New Mexico is hosting in less than 48 hours a grueling bicycle race named the "Posadas 100" or as Estelle calls it, "The Blood and Broken Bones One Hundred." Her point has proven true with two hard crashes during practice already involving riders that went off the mesa into the ravines below.

Her concerns about the event are interrupted by the discovery of three well dressed but very deceased individuals in the scrub brush at one end of the runway at a small isolated airstrip owned by the local gas company. When she arrives on scene and begins to investigate she soon realizes that the three did not die of exposure caused by the summer heat as one would expect considering the harsh landscape. No, it was a clear execution for reasons unknown. While at the airport she also discovers that a private airplane, a Cessna 206, has been used by someone and put back so as not to be caught. Estelle believes that the two cases are linked in a fast paced novel that concludes in a violent altercation 48 hours later.

This series originally began with the Sheriff Bill Gastner books before switching over to Estelle Reyes-Guzman several novels ago. With this being the fifth novel in the overall story arc dealing primarily with Estelle, it is obvious that Author Steven F. Havill made a conscious decision to all but shove the Gastner character off stage. He is hardly present at all in this novel and only makes an appearance a couple of times directly while being briefly talked about in the course of events approximately twice more. Estelle is front and center throughout the novel and it shows in style, tone, and action.

As the overall series arc has shifted to Estelle and the series was named a "Posadas County Mystery" the tone and style shifted. What had been a warm folksy style with the cantankerous Gastner shifted to a cool distant style reflecting the lead character. Gone are the frequent mentions of Gastner's insomnia and middle of the night drives which found him prowling around unable to sleep. Now, it is Estelle, prayed on by her family worries that finds herself unable to sleep in the wee hours of the morning as well as by a case that must be solved quickly. Estelle, while she may stress about their future or important events in the children's lives, is always cool and calm under pressure and displays none of Gastner's sharp tongue or fiery temper. This is certainly true in this novel where Estelle is pressured to new limits and in ways she has never dealt with before.

Once again Steven F. Havill brings an attention to detail, an appreciation of the harsh beauty of the New Mexico landscape, and rich characters to bear on another twisting tale of greed and murder. Something that is a familiar event in Posadas County and appreciated once again by his loyal fans. This latest entry is another strong read and while Gastner's lack of presence is noted and missed, so too is the fact that Estelle is becoming a powerful character in her own right. This is good stuff and well worth your reading investment.

Kevin R. Tipple © 2007