Thursday, October 30, 2008

Almost Here!


Contact: Lea Schizas

Carpathian Mountains, ancient castle, and unexpected overnight lodging creates havoc for some foreigners.

Carpathian Shadows: Volume Two follows the haunting aura of Lord Erdely from the Carpathian Mountains in Transylvania, Romania, and his mysterious castle.

Lord John Erdely lived in the 17th century and date of death never confirmed since no body has ever been found. It is rumored he dealt in black magic to suppress the ongoing collaboration of the churches to bring a unified religion to all people, a Greek Catholic practice.

Enter the present time…

All visitors staying in Cornifu Hotel are surprised with a mystery invitation for a one-day excursion to Erdely Castle. Befuddled but amused at the same time, they accept, unaware of the events to follow.

Six prolific writers offer you six haunting tales:

A Visitor From the Past by Carol A. Cole

Divine Curse by Kristin Johnson

By the Light Of the Moon… by Kevin R. Tipple

Thicker Than Stone by Christina Barber

The Scholar by Seana Graham

Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil by Donna Amato

Carpathian Shadows: Volume Two launching on Halloween Night – October 31st, 2008.

For more information, click here:

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Reviewing: "Evil At The Root" by Bill Crider

Christmas has come and gone, but there is still a wedding coming. Sheriff Dan Rhodes is finally going to marry Ivy Daniel in just a few days. And he hasn't even thought about where to take her for the honeymoon.

Of course, he has had other things on his mind. For one, he and just about everyone in the department as well in county government is being sued for a million dollars piece. A former inmate has gotten himself a hotshot lawyer and is claiming neglect and bad jailhouse conditions. The neglect charge is ridiculous. The jail is very old and not in the best of shape so the conditions allegation might have some merit before the right jury. The lawsuit will stir up the politicians and Rhodes knows that as sheriff, he will be blamed no matter what he did.

The sheriff also gets blamed for all crime. Especially murder. Weird things have happened before at the Sunny Dale Nursing home, but nothing like this. Somebody stole Lloyd Bobbit's false teeth. Sheriff Rhodes first clue that they were missing was when he met the man on the porch at the home who kept shrieking "ain't got no teef" (p.1) Initially amusing the case quickly becomes deadly as Lloyd Bobbit is silenced once and for all.

This fifth novel in the Sheriff Dan Rhodes series released in hardback back in 1990 is another comfortable read. Rhodes, Ivy, Hank, Lawton and all the rest have become old friends and folks one looks forward to. The mysteries are always complex and not obvious and that certainly is the case here. The action and dialog are always realistic and then there are the traces of humor that bring a chuckle here and there.

Much like what Philip R. Craig did for the Vineyard, author Bill Crider has done for east Texas. There is that same straight story telling style with a cast of recurring characters that are as real as your family and plenty of mystery in each and every book. If you haven't read his work, you are missing a real treat.

Evil At the Root: A Sheriff Dan Rhodes Mystery
Bill Crider
Thomas Dunne/St. Martin's Press
ISBN# 0-312-04314-7
214 Pages

Review copy provided by the good folks of the Plano Public Library System in Plano, Texas.

Kevin R. Tipple © 2008

Friday, October 24, 2008

Reviewing: "Night Wolf's Song" by E. Floyd Phelps

I first met E. Floyd Phelps at the Hardboiled Heroes and Cozy Cats conference last June in Dallas. It was my second year in attendance and while a number of old friends had talked to me, Mr. Phelps was new to me. Once he found out I was a reviewer and was open to self published authors, he asked if I would review his horror novel. Horror is the one genre I won't read, but, as we talked about the book, it seemed more and more to me that it was possible really a book of suspense. With the understanding that if I found it too gruesome and had to quit, I took a copy home with me.

That was quite a few months ago. Having finally read the book, I do think it is mis-marketed as a horror novel. Instead, I would refer to it more as a novel of suspense. And, overall, it is a pretty good one.

Solita Obregon is on the run from a violent robbery and horrible life in Mexico and trying to get across the border into the Untied States. With little more than a name of a possible contact she heads for the border. She soon joins a group that plans to cross illegally into Texas. Presidio County, in deep southwestern Texas, and the surrounding counties are some of the harshest desert known to humans. The small group will have to deal with brutal desert conditions with little in terms of supplies. They will also have to deal with treachery within the small group.

They will also have to deal with the attacks by a "Nahuala" or werewolf like creature. When the moon is full, the creature roams the harsh Texas desert stalking and killing anything that moves. As the numbers of the group slowly shrink for a variety of reasons, Solita does everything she can to survive.

While this novel does need the assistance of a strong editor primarily in terms of continuity, pacing and word choice, the basic core story is a good one. Author E. Floyd Phelps has created an interesting novel full of strong characters. Characters, both in terms of main and secondary, that are clearly portrayed in all aspects and very much real to the reader.

The history of Texas in something ingrained in every native. That history is a major part of this novel where history and a familial legacy play a major role. Those excursions into history do slow the read somewhat, but at the same time, enhance the read and give depth to the story. A story that has depth and interesting characters and also does meander off onto shifting points of view tangents from time to time that do little to advance the main or secondary plotlines.

Clearly the "Nahuala" or werewolf like creature is the horror aspect of the work. It transforms when the moon is full like all werewolves do. Through its eyes, the reader is brought into the primitive brain as it goes on the hunt. The creature is violent and does frequently attack humans in a savage matter. However, while the attacks could be gruesome, the descriptions are not gratuitous or excessive. In fact, they seem rather tame especially as compared to what many mystery writers will write and describe done by some deranged serial killer.

The result is a good tale though a bit uneven in spots. Despite the various issues noted above, the book is a good one that captures the reader's interest and is well worth the read.

Night Wolf's Song
E. Floyd Phelps
April 2008
ISBN# 978-1-4343-7250-5
Large Trade Paperback
285 Pages

Review copy provided directly by the author in exchange for my objective review.

Kevin R. Tipple © 2008

Friday, October 17, 2008

Reviewing: "The Hanged Man" by David Skibbins

The bipolar tarot card reader Warren Ritter returns in another installment of this enjoyable series. Warren is trying to change himself and settle down and yet longs for his old life back. A life where he thought he had things under control. Having control of one's own life is an illusion for many if not all as Warren is told early on in this novel.

There are those who seek control or to surrender control in their sexual lives. They become part of the BDSM lifestyle and incorporate the idea of control into their sexual lives. It is a lifestyle far removed from his outdoor tarot reading at the corner of Telegraph and Haste in Berkeley, California and something Warren knows absolutely nothing about.

That changes when his lover and computer expert, Sally McLaughlin, asks for his help. A paraplegic, Sally never asks for help. This time she does because her friend Therese has been arrested for murder. Therese is a professional dominatrix and a client of her has died. The evidence implicates Therese. Sally feels that she owes Theresa in so many ways. Once Vera, Therese's personal live in submissive, tells all to Sally there isn't anyone or anything that is going to stop Sally from proving Therese innocent.

Warren has been involved in three murder cases recently and twice has been the subject of police manhunts because of those murder cases. His initial reaction is to say no and his reaction is certainly understandable. Still, as readers expect, he eventually comes around and offers his help. To do so, he must immerse himself in the lifestyle of BDSM and must receive a crash course in the same from Vera.

Not to be left out, Heather, jumps in with both feet and business attire to work undercover on the case. Sally, Heather and Warren bumble and stumble their way through the undercover assignments with Warren finding out far more about himself than anything else.

Told through the shifting pov of all three characters, the novel chronicles an alternative lifestyle not familiar to many readers and a hunt for a killer. This forth installment of the series tackles a subject with dignity and class that could be controversial for some readers. Various aspects of the life style are discussed in depth and with respect. This is not a book designed to titillate or arouse and the story elements are not gratuitous. Instead, much like secondary characters, this area is explored and explained but never allowed to take over the story.

The BDSM angle is just another point of investigation to work the case and is treated as such in a mature fashion. So too is the main character of Warren Ritter who continues to evolve and change as he attempts to normalize an often chaotic life. Whether he is controlling his daily meds to treat his disease, his emotional reactions to the undercover work, or his control of his natural fleeing response to stress, the character is striving hard to become one again with a world that he tried to distance himself from for so many years.

The result is another good novel in the series. These are not run of the mill characters and this certainly has not been a run of the mill series. In this day of cookie cutter books put out by publishers who often moan that there isn't anything different and then do nothing to encourage diversity in reading material, it is a good thing to read another novel in a series that has been good and different from the beginning.

The Hanged Man: A Tarot Card Mystery
David Skibbins
Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Minotaur
August 2008
ISBN# 0-312-37783-5
240 Pages

Review copy provided directly by the author in exchange for my objective review.

Kevin R. Tipple © 2008

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Status Change

This past week marked my change from a substitute to full time employment. Not only will this mean health benefits in the near future, it should also mean some budgetary stability as I will have a set paycheck every month.

Interestingly enough, I have been eagerly welcomed with open arms on a campus I had never subbed at in my three years. It is nice to be wanted and appreciated for what I can do in a classroom and as a staff member. A pleasant change, indeed.


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Children's Book Review: "Jack And The Box"

"A Toon Book" written by Art Spielgelman is aimed at early readers and tells the story of three rabbits. There is a Mom rabbit, a Dad rabbit and a boy rabbit named Jack. They walk on two feet, live in a house like a human family, dress like a human family and act human in every way including getting a jack in the box type toy for their son.

It pops open the first time and badly scares Jack. Mom and Dad laugh it off and say "what a silly toy" while a clearly shaken Jack thanks them both for their gift.

Over the next several pages readers see Jack trying to play with the toy and the popup creature coming out at different times scaring as well as pleasing Jack. Jack expresses frustration in several cartoon panels as the toy does not always act in the way Jack expects. This is because his name is Zack and he is a silly toy.

This eventually leads to Zack getting free of his box. Once out he unleashes a friend named Mack who has a pet duck. The large pet duck has lots of little ducks and soon the lamp in Jack's bedroom is broken by the chaos of more and more ducks. It is replaced by Mack; order is restored with everything back in the box. Mom and Dad come to check on Jack after hearing all the noise and Jack explains all that has happened. They all realize Zack is a silly toy and walk off together laughing and leaving the toy on the bedroom floor.

While cleverly done in terms of text and illustrations this book's message is disturbing. Clearly Jack is threatened by the toy and is still scared when he thanks his parents for it. An action that isn't all positive in that it would appear he is doing an obligatory thank you through his heart really isn't into it.

Then readers are treated to not only Jack repeatedly frustrated with his attempts to play with the toy, Zack is drawn almost as a nightmare in most panels. There is a weird cross eyed look to the thing with a wide open mouth full of teeth along with the fact that it frequently leers over Jack in a maniac and threatening manner. It too expresses hostility and frequently refuses requests from Jack before finally unleashing pandemonium at the end of the book. It redeems itself somewhat by replacing what was broken but leaves the reader disturbed and in mind of Pandora's Box.

Like any children's book, whether this book works or not really depends on the child involved. Depending on the child's temperament, this book is clearly not going to be suitable. Parents and caregivers may also be disturbed by the images of Zack and the mixed messages found in the book. While the language is appropriate for the targeted audience, there is no cuteness to the story or text and the illustrations are often not appropriate and are very disturbing.

Therefore, this book should be examined very carefully before purchase.

Jack And The Box
Art Spielgelman
The Little Lit Library (division of Raw Junior, LLC)
October 21, 2008
32 Pages

As a member of the Amazon Vine Program, this book was sent to me in exchange for my objective review.

Kevin R. Tipple © 2008

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Children's Book Review: "What's Under The Bed?"

For parents, it is no secret that a basic fear of kids is something lurking under the bed. This basic fear idea has been used by numerous authors of children's books as well as quite a few authors of adult novels. While the author of an adult novel aims to scare readers, the author of a book for children, especially a picture book, seeks to reassure the child. Few do it as well as author and illustrator Joe Fenton does in his book.

Told through rhyming text the book begins with the opening line "Time for bed, Fred!" Fred would rather stay up with Ted, his stuffed bear, but it is time for bed. Once in bed with Ted, Fred soon hears a noise. Ted falls over to the side and then eventually off the bed While Fred looks over the other edge of the bed.

Fred wonders if there could be something under the bed and his imagination runs colorfully wild. "Could it be green? Or maybe it's red? Does it have a very big head?" He imagines several different possibilities and combinations of the possible creature before discovering it is only Ted who had fallen off the bed earlier.

But then, "Is there something on the ground?"

That thought ends the book. A thought that could be interpreted as funny or as scary depending on the child involved.

Like any children's book, one needs to know the child involved before making a recommendation. The illustrations in this book are the main selling point of the book. They could be interpreted by a sensitive child as a bit scary and some adults may not care for them either.

However, this book with its wonderful illustrations and easy rhyming text should appeal to most children and the adults in their lives. Colorful and well done in all aspects that targets readers ages 4 to 8, it would be a welcome addition to the reading arsenal while providing a light hearted look at a basic childhood fear.

What's Under The Bed?
Written/Illustrated by Joe Fenton
Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
September 2008
ISBN# 1416949437
32 Pages

As a member of the Amazon Vine Program, this book was sent to me in exchange for my objective review.

Kevin R. Tipple © 2008