Friday, December 31, 2010
If scarves, hats, etc., are now a bit boring, maybe it is time to knit toys as Anna Hrachovec says in her introduction titled “Welcome to Mochimochi Land!” You can knit a blob and add eyes to it to make a small something as she did in the beginning. However, you can quickly go beyond that as she shows you in this book that features 20 Super-Cute Strange Designs for Knitted Aamigurmi.
After a “Let's Get Started” section covering in detail types of yarn, needles, stuffing, and other things you will need as well as a number of pages on basic techniques, the patterns begin on page 44 of Knitting Mochimochi with the section titled “Fierce Creatures.” Plans for a “Confused Moose” (pages 46-48), “Baby Gators” (pages 49-51), and “Bite-Free bed Bugs” (pages 52-55) among others are here. Each item has at least one picture and frequently more, a detailed supplies list, and detailed instructions.
Page 66 begins the “Random Objects” section or as the author puts it, “categorically challenged.” Leading off is the rather neat “Orbiting Oddity” which is patterned off of the classic UFO type deal familiar to everyone. We quickly come back to earth with the “Grouchy Couch” (pages 74-75) and the “Sky Scrapers” (pages 84-87) among others.
“Impractical Wearables” begins on page 88 and leads off with the clever “Pocket Protectors” on pages 90-93. Also especially neat for young girls is the “Neck Nuzzler” on pages 98-101. Starting on page 106, the “Feet Eaters” also look pretty cool and could be tailored to fit the personality of the wearer fairly easily.
With a name like “Nano Kits” one might think of nanotechnology and some sort of science fiction type creature made especially popular in the later seasons of the original Stargate television series. In this case, you would be wrong. Starting on page 113, the patterns depict various things and are designed to create objects to sit on your desk, hang off your ear, etc. You can make “Micro Mountains” as depicted in pages 118-119, or “Plucky Mushrooms” showcased on pages 120-122 or a number of other things. While it is mentioned in the lead in that these can hang off your ears, none of the items specifically mention that in directions nor are they shown in the photographs doing so.
The book concludes with a brief section on trying your hand at design, a little bit about basic and advanced stitches (information that should have been at the front with the rest of the technique info), how to read charts (information that easily should have also been there along with the knitting abbreviation list found here), metric conversion chart and a list of materials and information resources. A one page small index with very small type concludes the 144 page colorful book.
Sold as a paperback measuring 9.8 x 8.5 x 0.6 inches my library copy snaps and pops ominously when the book is laid flat. It would appear that if the book gets much use at all and is consistently laid flat, fairly soon the binding is going to break. Something that has to be considered if one is going to buy this book for personal use or give to another. That fact, along with the fact that certain information at the back of the book should have been logically placed with other information at the front of the book, lowers the overall quality of Knitting Mochimochi.
While marketed to anyone and pushing the idea these can be made quickly, it is clear that intermediate and advance knitters would be the best recipients of this book. A fact I verified with my wife who has knitted for over twenty years. Since I don't knit, I can't share any additional information on this book we originally picked up for my monthly column in the Senior News newspaper. For the right knitter this book is going to be a real treat.
Knitting Mochimochi: 20 Super-Cute Strange Designs for Knitted Amigurumi
Paperback (e-book available)
Book supplied by the good folks of the Plano, Texas Public Library System. Online they can be found at http://www.plano.gov/Departments/Libraries/Pages/default.aspx which features links to information in a wide range of venues for locals and others.
Kevin R. Tipple © 2010
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Carpathian Shadows, Volume 2
Books for a Buck
Various authors, editor Lea Schizas
First, let me say up front, this bills itself as Volume 2. Having not read Volume 1, I can state with certainty that this book works as a stand alone, in case anyone worries about that.
This is a theme-anthology, horror stories with a bit of a twist. The visitors to the Cornifu Hotel, deep in the Carpathians Mountains of Transylvania, are individually invited for a free one day bus excursion to nearby Erdely Castle, said to be haunted. Each story is about a different group of travelers to visit the castle. And with that setting and that common theme, one can rightly expect vampires and ghosts and werewolves—just about all those things that go bump in the night show up here.
As in any anthology of stories by different writers, the quality of the writing varies—and, of course, readers’ tastes are different, which is to say what one likes, another may not. I did not find any real clunkers here, but I did find some that I preferred over others.
To my tastes, one of the standouts in the book would have to be The Scholar by author Seana Graham. Most of the tales here are focused on the supernatural, as is to be expected, but this is really a well written story of a mismatched marriage and “the other man,” with the scary stuff more of the frosting on the cake. It’s a bit less fanciful than some and not particularly horrific (though not without a creepy moment or two), but it compensates with well sketched characters and believable interactions.
Kristin Johnson’s vampire story, Divine Curse, seemed a bit murky to me, but that in itself is not altogether inappropriate to the genre. A bit of ambiguity can be an asset in spooky fiction. This is, after all, a genre that dispenses with conventional reality. And, this tale stands out for its gay elements, not usually found in horror collections. So, I give it a passing grade, but not without some reservations.
Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil by Donna Amato is likewise ambiguous, particularly in its ending, and the cast of characters occasionally seems to be tripping over one another, but the writer manages to make the implausible reasonably plausible, which is as much as one can fairly ask of horror fiction. Let’s face it, parts of Dean Koontz’s books make no sense at all. The real question is whether the writer can carry the reader along, and Ms. Amato does that admirably.
A Visitor From the Past by Carol A. Cole is somewhat of a time travel, or maybe, more correctly, dimensional-travel. Anna has been short-tempered with her husband, Rob, since returning from a trip to Germany months earlier, and this trip is intended to rekindle their relationship, but the results are not what Rob expected. Many of these stories have downer endings. This one is more bitter sweet. I found that it lingered with me after I had finished reading.
The other standout, for me, is Kevin Tipple’s By the Light of the Moon. While most of the stories in the book follow a quickly familiar plot line—the busload of tourists comes to the castle, a storm strands them there, and mysterious events follow—this one distinguishes itself by going its own way. To be sure, there is the bus, and tourists at the castle and eerie doings, but Tipple sets his story elsewhere and afterward, and we hear about the events at the castle in flashback narratives. It’s a tricky sort of structure but he pulls it off neatly.
In short, this is not great literature—it surely wasn’t intended to be—but if horror is your cup of tea, I can heartily recommend this for a couple of hours of goose-bump reading.
Reviewed by Victor J. Banis
Monday, December 27, 2010
For RCMP Corporal Holly Martin summer on Vancouver Island means an increase in petty crime, lots more tourists and concerns about wildfires thanks to the worsening drought. It also means that still more time has passed since her mom went missing all those years ago, her father while still strong and vital is aging, and she still has many questions about her past and where she goes from here. Those personal issues will again, at least temporarily, have to take a back seat to another death in the area.
A homeless addict has been found deceased in the area woods by a vacationing family. All indications seem to make it a simple case of a heroin overdose. But, it is not and soon Holly more and more questions about what exactly happened. At the same time, the situation regarding her vanished mom demands her attention as well as number of other issues.
Lou Allin takes readers back to Canada's Caribbean in this very enjoyable sequel to And On The Surface Die.
As in the previous novel in the series, the point of view in She Felt No Pain shifts from character to character while detailing the lives of the small police department and the beauty of the land while telling the tale of several good mysteries. Multiple secondary storylines are again at play in a novel featuring characters that feel more and more like good friends readers have known for a long time. The result is another very enjoyable excursion into the world of Holly Martin and one hopes for many more.
She Felt No Pain: A Holly Martin Mystery
RendezVous Crime (Napoleon & Company)
Material supplied by the author in exchange for my objective review.
Kevin R. Tipple © 2010
Sunday, December 26, 2010
I am thrilled!
Big time thank you to Laurie for offering the contest.
Saturday, December 25, 2010
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Dedicated to her husband she lost and in appreciation of her grief support group at Highland Park United Methodist Church, Julie Yarbrough takes readers through the long valley of grief and out the other side. She lost her husband, Dr. Leighton Farrell, Senior Minister of the church, ninety days after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. “I was destroyed; my soul shattered into one million small pieces. At fifty-five, I was young and very old. I was alone.” (Introduction, Pages 13-14)
The 217 page book is split into two main parts. “Part 1: Inside the Broken Heart” begins on page 15 with a biblical passage and definition for grief. The author then moves readers through the various stages of grief using a biblical perspective showing readers how their lives will change and how the bible and religious teachings provide strength at this painful time. Grief is a full time occupation and people travel through it at different speeds and often face setbacks before continuing on.
Author Julie Yarbrough explains this and much more including survival strategies designed to help the widow or widower to keep going. This can be especially difficult during the holidays and that issue is covered in this section. At some point for every person, one moves on to a love that celebrates the past union and reaches out to touch others. That is the theme of second section titled “Part 2-Beyond the Broken Heart.” This section revolves around the idea of an enduring love that surrounds the living and the missing partner. There is a reason for what has happened in that “God uses grief to teach us more of his faithfulness and steadfast love.” (Page 149)
Like the first half of the book, this part of the book has stages that revolve around going forward in the aftermath of losing the partner. Moving on in terms of healing, finding hope and happiness, coping with money issues, planning for the future, etc. are all parts of this process.
There is an old and clichéd adage advising writers to write what they know. As a widow and a lay grief facilitator, the author has experienced grief in many ways. She brings that knowledge and a deep religious faith to bear in a book that provides compassion, support and hope in what has to be one of the most painful times in any life. In a time of need, this book can be a powerful aid while also serving at other times as a helpful planning guide to a future we all face.
Inside The Broken Heart: Grief Understanding for Widows & Widowers
Tate Publishers & Enterprises
220 Pages (also included is a code to a free audio version)
Material supplied by the author in exchange for my objective review.
Kevin R. Tipple © 2010
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
She Felt No Pain: A Holly Martin Mystery by Lou Allin, Page 129
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
I just filled out the paperwork for disability as required by the state of Texas and had it mailed it off to someplace in Illinois for processing. Much of the information was duplication of what I had done online for the federal government. It took four more hours of excruciating pain sitting up while I tried to coherently explain what the living hell of my life has become.
And that is the deal. How does one explain to others what every single minute of every single day is like? One can't. Words don't express it. Simply put, I would not wish this on my worst enemy.
And, yes, I am well aware that there are folks worse off than me and would probably trade anything to be in my shoes as compared to their situations. Logically, I do understand that.
Emotionally, is a far different thing. This evening while I sat and watched the sun set from our apartment porch overlooking the creek amidst all the pots full of dead and dying plants (I never did get one tomato this year), I could not help thinking how much I hate the new me and the new normal.
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Reviewing: "A Sportscaster’s Guide to Watching Football: Decoding America’s Favorite Game" by Mark Oristano
Written by Dallas, Texas resident Mark Oristano, A Sportscaster’s Guide to Watching Football: Decoding America’s Favorite Game is designed to be your very basic guide to football. While much of the discussion centers on the pro game, the explanations will also in many places apply to the college game and high school as well. This book is not designed for those who follow the draft religiously, engage in fantasy football, or ever played the game. It is designed for the person sitting next to you who knows nothing about football, only watches the Superbowl, and drives you crazy with questions.
I know. I have one. I do love her but the Superbowl is not the time for her to ask me anything.
After a brief acknowledgment section and an introduction explaining the author's background which will be familiar to fans of the Dallas Cowboys and the Houston Oilers, Mark Oristano makes the point that one play can make or break the game. It could be when a wide open Jackie Smith dropped an end zone pass from Roger Staubach in Superbowl XIII. A pass that still haunts legions of Cowboy fans and was the turning point in a game that ultimately the Steelers won. and. It could be a pass that Plaxico Buress caught from Eli Manning of the Giants in Superbowl XLII. How the team gets to that play is determined by what happens on offense, defense, and special teams.
In successive chapters, Mark Oristano breaks down what happens in each group. He starts with the absolute basic information explaining what the initials for a position stand for, how the player or players line up, what each player/position does on the field, what downs are, etc. Along the way, when he is not referring to football as a living chess game, he throws in a lot of humorous anecdotes relating mainly to football that he experienced or knows about because of his thirty years plus as a broadcaster, working in the public relations department of the Cowboys and other jobs.
He also covers information on the refs and how they do their jobs (or not depending on what replay shows) and how not to take the game as life or death. It isn't. It is just a game as the author points out. (Something this fan is working on remembering as I can’t take the stress these days like I could years ago.) This leads into a nine page glossary of terms that closes out the 146 page book.
Aimed at the novices, much of the explanatory game information in A Sportscaster’s Guide to Watching Football: Decoding America’s Favorite Game will bore a true fan. However, the humorous anecdotes and humorous tales will make the book worthy of their interest. Those new to the game will learn a lot about it from his good book released through Synergy Books.
A Sportscaster’s Guide to Watching Football: Decoding America’s Favorite Game
Material supplied by Scott Lorenz of publicist West Wind Communications in exchange for my objective review.
Kevin R. Tipple © 2010
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Reviewing: "The Adventures of Quinn Higgins Boy Detective—The Case of Bigfoot on the Loose" by Douglas Quinn
This second in the series find the boy detective, Quinn Higgins traveling to his father's cabin near the Oregon National Forest. During the year Quinn lives with his mom, but during the summer he comes to Oregon. In September he will be going to the fourth grade, but right now as the book opens, he has three weeks with his dad in Oregon.
Quinn can't wait to see his friend Charlotte “Little Dove” Evans whom he has not seen since his last trip. That has to wait while he eats, sleeps, and recovers from the jet along and long drive to get his Dad's cabin.
Quinn likes to read as does his dad and before long Quinn gets very interested in a book about Bigfoot. In between drinking soy milk at meals, camping out with the Little Dove, and doing other things, Quinn and Little Dove investigate the legend and history of Big Foot and how the creature may relate to current events in the surrounding forest.
That investigation leads to two concerns for parents in this otherwise very enjoyable book. Little Dove and Quinn find a stranger living comfortably in a fort (more like a lean-to) that the children made the previous summer. Not only do they pass time in the fort with the stranger, they take food and drink he offers and consume it with no thought at all about strangers and the perils they pose for children. This happens despite the fact that clearly the children should know better. The whole concept of “stranger-danger” is totally ignored throughout this section of the book.
After giving the kids food and drink, the stranger who identifies himself as “White Moon” and is from a different tribe than Little Dove, eventually leads then far deeper into the woods than Quinn's father said they could go in pursuit of Big Foot. Not only do the children, primarily Quinn, rationalize this act of disobedience, they also decide not to tell their parents about the stranger or anything they did. Considering their ages and the risks they took that goes beyond what is noted above and includes a confrontation with a bear, not telling the parents might be best for the characters, but raises huge issues for real life parents. Issues that parents may wish to discuss with their own children if they are to read this book.
Otherwise this self-published book through CreateSpace (part of Amazon) under the “White Heron Press” moniker is a good one. At eighty six pages of actual text (not counting ads for books at the back) it is an enjoyable book featuring a kid fairly confident in his abilities and interested in the real world around him. While parents may have a concern over the lack of stranger danger awareness in the book along with its occasional lecturing tone primarily regarding television and the environment, they will surely appreciate the passion expressed for reading and knowledge. Two things any parent, myself included, would like to instill in his or her children.
The Adventures of Quinn Higgins Boy Detective—The Case of Bigfoot on the Loose
November 13, 2010
Material supplied by publicist Donna Higgins Colson in exchange for my objective review.
Kevin R. Tipple © 2010
Friday, December 10, 2010
Originally published in early 2007, this anthology show cases murder at various locations across the country. Edited by Susan Budavari and Suzanne Flaig, each story is complex and interesting as the involved authors took the mission concept in different ways. Of course, it really isn’t possible to go into any depth about any of the stories without ruining the story for the reader. Suffice it to say, there isn’t a bad one in the bunch and each weaves its own spell upon the reader. With 20 stories involved, hopefully the ones I have chosen below will reflect accurately the scope and breadth of this engrossing anthology.
In Robert L. Iles’ story “Fast Eddie”, Eddie has a plan. Help the young female traveler store her luggage at the Vegas bus terminal and then lift it from the storage locker later. He’s a small hustler and thief who get far more than he thought when he grabbed the suitcase.
We have all had those days where one bad thing happens after another so has a Vegas show girl named “Stella” in “An Off Day” by S. J. Smith. You will get a kick out of this one.
Frank Zafiro brings the border country near El Paso a live “In the Shadow of El Paso.” A beautiful bartender causes problems and pulls a lawman along a journey of love, hate, desperation and despair. This is a powerful story and one that packs quite a punch.
Another favorite, and not just because it is set on the Texas Gulf Coast, is Carole Kilgore’s “Bunuelos for the Beach.” Pete is dead, Gina is heartbroken at the death of her friend and Detective Cantu is on the case.
Heading east and north and a few stories later, readers find themselves deep in the Smoky Mountains in Deborah J. Ledford’s “Smoky Mountain Inquest”. The middle of the night makes for the best time to detect and it is a salvation for Edgar Marconi working a case in the Swain County Sheriff’s Department substation. Heavily atmospheric with a complex character I would like to see more of, this is an excellent inclusion.
No one really wants to find a body. Especially, early in the morning, which is what happens to Sarah in “Death at the Dumpster” by Suzanne Flaig. Good thing a cop is close to help her as the cop is married to her best friend, Marie. Too bad she quickly becomes a suspect.
Beth Groundwater weaves a twisting tale up into the Colorado Mountains in her tale “The Murder Cache.” When you are a good parent, there isn’t anything you won’t do for your child.
Having read and enjoyed Simon Wood’s work before, I was pleased to note his inclusion in this anthology. His story “Prove It” is well worth it and involves a con having to prove what he did on the outside to stay alive in San Quentin.
This anthology also includes stories by Kris Neri, R. L. Coffield, Alan M. Petrillo, Larry D. Sweazy, Dean Wagner and Debi McKay, Judy Starbuck, Robin Merrill, Susan Budavari, Nancy Nielson Redd, Connie Flynn, Rachelle N. Yeaman and Sybil Yeaman and last but not least John Randall Williams. While each story occurs in a different location, each story features complex characters involved in complex cases that lead the reader through a delightful tale. The result is an excellent criss cross trail across America full of murder, deceit, and betrayal.
Map Of Murder: Original Stories of Mystery and Suspense
Editors: Susan Budavari and Suzanne Flaig
Red Coyote Press
Material provided by the publisher in exchange for my objective review.
Kevin R. Tipple © 2007, 2010
Thursday, December 09, 2010
Tuesday, December 07, 2010
Opening with the poem titled “The Negro Speaks Of Langston Hughes” this 133 page self-published book is the creation of author/poet Joseph Powell. Featured in the National Geographic /PBS documentary titled “Skin” his work speaks of race, poverty, and numerous other issues that are a part of every human being regardless of race, gender, or social standing.
Inspired by James Baldwin and Langston Hughes among others, most of the poetry comes from the perspective of a person who sees himself as separate from others. This is clear early on toward the end of the second featured poem titled “Floating Up A Stream Of Consciousness Without A Paddle.” He writes on page three:
“Shall I opine, about the nature of the human condition;
Editorialize on the state of race relations
In this country – what it means
To be black in white America, to be
A stranger in a strange land, an
Alien on foreign shores, still
Trying to find his place in society, his
Niche in the vast scheme of things?''
Being an outcast is a key part of many of these poems. So too are the ideas of heartbreak in the loss of a child taken far too soon, the loss of brothers and fathers through murder, prison, etc., love in all its many forms, and many other topics. Frequently the pain of creation, especially in terms of poetry and being a poet, comes through many works. How inspiration works regarding the famous both the living and dead is another frequent topic and blends in nicely with the pain of creation.
The blues are a frequent point in this book which is fitting since so much of it revolves around the blues in some form or fashion. This not a book that will give you happy thoughts. But, it is a 133 page book of poetry that may give you both comfort and inspiration when the hours are long and the pain cuts deep.
Joby, Uninterrupted---Bittersweet Symphonies and Bohemian Rhapsodies
Material supplied directly by the author in exchange for my objective review.
Kevin R. Tipple © 2010
Sunday, December 05, 2010
Barry Ergang just updated his books for sale at http://barryergangbooksforsale.yolasite.com/ He says he just added a bunch of mysteries yesterday so even if you looked before and did not find anything that strikes your fancy, surf over and take a look. By the way, Barry is also now up with some of his older published stuff available on Smashwords. You can search under his name or go directly to his stuff by clicking http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/cassidy20
My wife, Sandi, has been making craft projects for years. What first was done as gifts for family and friends has expanded the last couple of years into a business of sorts. She has started trying to sell some stuff on iOffer. Her store is at http://www.ioffer.com/selling/sanditipple?order=1
Barry’s efforts and my wife’s efforts got my son, Karl, thinking about what he could sell. So, using his online moniker of THUNDERCATSNYY, Karl set up an account over at Amazon to sell stuff and has had some decent success moving electronics, movies, and a couple of other types of items. His store on Amazon is at: www.amazon.com/shops/thundercatsnyy and changes almost daily because he adds things to replace stuff he has sold. He also set up a deal on iOffer to help move some of his Mom’s stuff and other items he can’t sell/list at Amazon via www.thundercatsnyy.ioffer.com
So, there you have it. A shameless plug for folks you know and their families. By all means, I am not saying don’t shop elsewhere or don’t give to your favorite charity. I am saying that if you want to buy from folks that you know and trust, and want to know that your monies definitely helped folks in need that you know, we are here and could use your help and support.
On behalf of Barry and my family, I thank you.
Saturday, December 04, 2010
Page Murdock is a deputy U.S. marshall in Montana in 1884. He has done a lot of things over the years but not once has he gone undercover as a preacher. That is about to change as Judge Harlan A. Blackthorne wants him to do just that and to do it in Texas Panhandle town of Owen. By going undercover as a man of the cloth it should be easier for Murdock to track down a gang of bandits operating in the Texas panhandle who might eventually make their way Montana if left unchecked. The reason is flimsy at best and Murdock knows there has to be more at stake than just the vague possibility that the bandits might expand their operations all the way up to Montana. Still, one does not say no to Judge Blackthorne.
After a two week crash course in religion, Murdock is sent to Texas as Brother Bernard Sebastian of the Church of Evangelical Truth. A crash course in religion and wearing a clerical collar does not necessarily make him a good fit for an undercover job as a preacher. It does not change his natural inclinations or his responses when confronted. What it does do to Murdock is to make him reconsider the world and his role in it. That may not last too long thanks to be increasingly bold actions of the bandits, a shady woman from his past, and the plain fact that his notoriety that has followed him all the way to Texas. A place and a people he hates on every level.
Murdock is a caustic character and one that frequently makes comments about others in highly entertaining fashion. He does not pull his verbal punches and so readers are frequently entertained with laugh out loud moments as Murdock tells folks in public and in private exactly what he thinks. Not to mention the occasional zings in internal character dialogue. Humor is just as much a part of things here, as is the mystery of the bandits, a failed romance, and the meaning of god and faith, among other story elements. Murdock is just one of many real and interesting characters in this 271 page western novel. The Book of Murdock is a very good read from multi award winning writer Loren P. Estleman.
The Book of Murdock
Loren D. Estleman
A Tom Doherty Book (Forge)
Material supplied by the good folks of the Plano, Texas Public Library System.
Kevin R. Tipple © 2010
Friday, December 03, 2010
The dark side of technology is often reported in the day’s news. The modern problem of identify theft was a topic long ago covered in classic science fiction. With such problems and others being daily fodder for the media which seems to be driven by sensationalism these days, it isn’t surprising that authors in other genres are going to explore the positives and the negatives of technology. The mystery field, out of the remaining genres, seems to be not only the most suited to do so, but the genre leading the pack in the form of novels, anthologies, and collections.
Case in point is the recent anthology release Techno-Noir edited by Eva Batonne and Jeffrey Marks. In the book, which contains eighteen stories by as many authors, the roles of technology, morality, deceit and consequences are considered. Some authors and the resulting stories play on the classic stereotypes in the mystery field and twist them while others go in a different direction. A couple of works contain some humor but most of the stories in the anthology are deadly serious as is subject matter. Like all anthologies, it’s hard to go into detail on all the strong stories so just a couple will be covered here.
One that really jumps out is “Suspicion” by Leann Sweeney. Keeping one’s mental health secret is important because even the paranoids do have enemies.
“Cookie Monster” by Tim Wohlforth also stands out for divine retribution on a dishonest computer salesman.
Driven by memories that won’t let go, “All the World is a Stage” by Rick McMahan also works very well and gives the reader a lasting image.
That isn’t to say the other authors, Libby Fischer Hellmann, Nick Andreychuk, Michael Bracken, Earl Staggs, Eva Batonne, Stephen D. Rogers, J. Michael Blue, Flora Davis, Bill Crider, Jeffrey Marks, Arla Gregory, Linda Posey, Kris Neri, H. Robert Perry, and Vera-Jane Goodin didn’t contribute excellent stories. They did. But any reader, or reviewer for that matter, is going to have personal favorites. The above are mine. Your experience will vary.
Edited by Eva Batonne and Jeffrey Marks
Large Trade Paperback
Kevin R. Tipple © 2005, 2010
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
But 300 years have passed and in these modern times, few have any respect for the position, the family, or the ancient contract. Nobody but the current caretaker, Jack Durkin, take the Aukowie threat seriously. Not even members of his own family believe he does something that matters. Proving the validity of the threat is difficult due to the requirements of the ancient contract. Requirements that Jack for justifiable reasons is very loathe to break. As the evidence of a lack of threat and various calamities mount against him, Jack Durkin, finds himself increasingly isolated and questioning his own sanity while he struggles to protect the world in The Caretaker of Lorne Field.
Readers familiar with Mr. Zeltserman’s work will recognize themes that he has hit before in other books. His stylized version of a redemptive noir is present in this novel where every decision Jack Durkin makes backfires against him worsening the divides inside and outside his family. Those decisions and the wisdom of them are also a key part of the author’s often repeated theme questioning the sanity of the primary character. In this case, the division between sanity and insanity is stark. Are the plants the monsters that will take over the world if not plucked from the earth as soon as they sprout like Jack believes? Or, as many others suggest including his own family members, are the plants nothing more that harmless weeds that play a role in his delusions?
Mutually exclusive versions of reality frame events throughout the 237 page book that shifts in point of view from Jack, to his long suffering wife, to others. Along with touching on the themes of discord between brothers, obligations to family and community, respect for others and the themes noted above among others, the author weaves a compelling tale from start to end in The Caretaker of Lorne Field. There are reasons for everything no matter what it is in this fast moving tale that is marketed as horror but really is a mystery with just a touch of horror.
The Caretaker Of Lorne Field
The Overlook Press
Material provided by the good folks of the Plano, Texas Public Library System. These are tough times for libraries so please do your part to support your local library system any way you can.
Kevin R. Tipple © 2010
Since the direct link deal by click on the cover to go to Amazon is not working, and their customer service seems incapable of understanding the problem or plain English, please click through the link below to order this title or anything else. Thank you!
Sunday, November 28, 2010
This debut novel by Bruce DeSilva is getting a lot of attention and rightfully so. Not just because, as has been done in several recent novels, the ongoing demise of the newspaper industry plays a central role. The main theme of the book, chasing an arsonist burning buildings and killing people, is a good one with plenty of twists and turns.
Liam Mulligan is your classic newspaper reporter. He knows everybody on all sides of his beat and when he isn't working or fielding abusive calls from his someday ex-wife, he hangs out at the local bars and with his bookie and smokes cigars every chance he gets. He finds time to chase stories such as the one about an arsonist who is burning down one building at a time the small neighborhood known as Mount Hope located in Providence, Rhode Island. The latest fire took five-year old twins to an early death the hard way and he wants to work the story.
Instead, his editor would rather Mulligan work on a story about a dog who supposedly followed his owners from the west coast all the way to Rhode Island. The dog’s family is hungry for media attention and is threatening to give the story to one of the local TV stations and Mulligan’s editor does not want that. The editor wants good news fluff stories to try and keep circulation numbers up and he wants Mulligan to get the dog story done and done now.
Beside the fact that the dog story is implausible at best, Mulligan wants to see an end to the fires and the deaths. He grew up in the neighborhood, an old friend is on the front lines as a fire fighter, and people are dying. The stupid dog story can wait.
Chasing the arson story soon makes him a target for his angry bosses at the paper, a fire bug that won't quit, and local fire investigators who holds a grudge and decide he is a suspect. As buildings burn and bodies pile up, Mulligan works hard to stay alive and identify those behind the fires before the carnage takes everybody he loves.
This debut novel is a bit dark at times which is not surprising considering the illustrious list of authors acknowledged in the back of the book. Either by inspiration or direct involvement, those mentioned are some of the best in the business and they don’t write light fluff featuring feel good stories where everything is perfect in the end.
One hopes that this novel full of colorful detailed characters, plenty of action, love of baseball and the Red Sox, as well as a mighty good mystery tale is the start of a series. It would be hard to imagine all this potential being used for used for just one stand-alone novel as the reservoir is deep with these characters. No mention is made on the jacket copy of another book, either as a sequel or something else, and one hopes that there is more to come from Mr. DeSilvia. Good stuff and well worth your time.
A Tom Doherty Associates Book
Material supplied by the good folks of the Plano, Texas Public Library System. Times are hard for libraries these days so please do your part to support public libraries any way you can.
Kevin R. Tipple © 2010
Friday, November 26, 2010
(Unfortunately Amazon Associates is not cooperating with me this morning so I am unable to include the cover image as I normally do. Hopefully, they will fix this soon.)
I am not a big fan of anthologies regardless of the genre and much prefer the traditional novel format. However, after previously reading and reviewing "All White Girls" and "Deadly Campaign" by Michael Bracken, I was very interested in reading this anthology, which he edited. I certainly wasn't disappointed.
Dispensing with the usual multi page editor's commentary so often found in anthologies, Editor Bracken allows the reader to delve straight into the works. He selected fourteen stories featuring very different writing styles, but all geared towards the dark shadows of human nature. Each story has a twist at the end as well as in most cases, using food as a theme in one way or another.
This is especially true in the story titled "Munchies" by Jack Bludis. The narrator is out on the town with his girlfriend Sheila after seeing a double feature of "The Maltese Falcon" and "The Big Sleep." They go to a local bar and by happenstance meet another couple. Before long, the story goes off in an unexpected direction and the narrator finds out more about himself and Sheila than he ever would have thought.
Stephen D. Rogers also works the food theme in a story that goes to unexpected places entitled "Tough Guy." (He has another story in the book titled "Cheating Heart" as well). The narrator sits down with a kidnapper to negotiate on behalf of the victim and the family over a meal. The kidnapper thinks he has everything under control and for him, is sadly mistaken.
Then there is "Holiday Bonus" by Nick Andreychuk featuring Private Investigator Earl Stack. Someone has been skimming money and Earl has checked everywhere and can't find the money. Everywhere that is except for the holiday turkeys, one per employee, that are supposed to be given out on Friday. Earl had needs of his own and a turkey with all the trimmings would hit the spot.
While I would like to go into great detail concerning each of the other eleven stories that make up this anthology, I can't because of space limitations. However, before you believe that everything in this book is doom and gloom, I have to mention the humor often involved in these works. Several authors have very funny lines in the course of their story, but Linda Summers Posey's story is funny from start to finish.
In "Who Put The Armadillo In The Avocado Dip?" Posey writes a funny tale concerning a fundraiser held by the Alliance of Animal Advocates in Houston, Texas. The narrator is working for Mat Martin Investigations has been hired as security for the fundraiser as well as to protect mattress king Walt Waters during his appearance before the group. But, there is a power struggle within the leadership of the alliance and not everything is right about Walt. I can't do this one any justice as it simply has to be read to be appreciated.
In addition to the authors mentioned above, Tom Sweeney, Dan Sontup, Art Montague, Carol Kilgore, Andrew McAleer, Dorothy Rellas, Kenneth Thornton Samuels and Robert Lopresti all have stories in the book. Each story in the anthology is good and each showcases the author's own style and voice. Each author plants one if not more twists in the story and packs a lot in the few short pages allowed. This anthology was very enjoyable and well worth the read.
Edited by Michael Bracken
Betancourt & Company
The material was provided by the editor in exchange for my objective review.
Kevin R. Tipple © 2003, 2010
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Friday, November 19, 2010
So, sit back and enjoy the review and then hunt down your copy of the book.
By now, pretty much everyone is very familiar with the classic detective cliché. The Hardnosed P. I. alone in his office when the beautiful dame (great legs, of course) walks in. Smoke wreathes the ceiling as she folds her long legs under the chair and tells our hero her problem. He can help her he decides and beyond that, there is something she makes him feel that he hasn't felt for a very long time. In this anthology, the cliché is stood on its head and spun around for interesting results.
This anthology, the third of the Fedora series, features seventeen hard-hitting stories of men being hardnosed men, dealing with the evil that walks the mean streets. While it is impossible to cover each story in detail, the selections below reflect a small sampling of the range of stories.
"Ordained Sin" by Carol Kilgore features Nolan Douglas who just ticked off his girlfriend-again. But, a case that falls into his lap just might help him ease back into her good graces as well as allowing him to clean up some human scum. Sometimes the innocents truly do suffer and nothing and no one can save them.
"One Hit Wonder" By J. L. Abramo is an intriguing story of a misdialed phone call. When placing your phone order for a hit, make sure you call the right number and not Jake Diamond of Diamond Investigations.
No anthology would be complete without at least one story about bail bonds and bond jumpers. In this case, read "Kane's Mutiny" by Bev Vincent. Not only is Jimmy Weber on the run with Kane looking for him, Weber's wife wants to help Kane any way she can.
Featuring stories from other excellent writers such as Tom Sweeney, Lee Goldberg, George Wilhite, David Terrenoire, David Bart, James S. Dorr, Chelle Martin, Dorothy Rellas, Ann Aptaker, Nick Andreychuk, Michael Hemmingson, Graham Powell, Kevin Egan and Editor Michael Bracken, interested readers won't find a bad story in the bunch. The tough guys care, whether they show it or not, the women are almost uniformly devious, and the streets and other locations are mean. It's a good thing.
Edited by Michael Bracken
Material provided by Michael Bracken in exchange for my objective review.
Kevin R. Tipple © 2004, 2010
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
It also seems to me that if e-books were really selling like Amazon says they are, they would publish the numbers. The fact that they count "freebies" as sales says a lot to me.
But, the below will take you to yet another e-book venture. At least this deal has brand name quality talent behind it.
Ed Gorman's blog: TOP SUSPENSE GROUP ANNOUNCEMENT
More and more I am hearing from readers complaining about how e-books are being taken over by self published stuff that does not meet standards. At least here, and with a couple of other ventures, there are brand names involved who made their names not by flashy Internet campaigns, social media, or whatever the latest hype is.
Instead, they made their names by writing quality books.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Blacklin County is slowly losing its way of life. Much of the town of Clearview is shuttered and vacant these days. Even the two stoplights in downtown have been removed due to a lack of traffic. There is a Wal-Mart on the edge of town that is doing well.
Over towards the eastern side of Blacklin County is the small community of Mount Industry. It had been a nice quiet place with orchards and what not that attracted day trippers from all across East Texas and beyond. That was until Lester Hamilton got the bright idea to create a chicken farm. Not anything simple either. A chicken farm with thirty metal buildings, each containing twenty-five thousand chickens in each. The farm brought in lots of chickens, a few jobs, trucks passing through town and a stench that was chocking the area and, according to some, making people sick and killing their own businesses.
That smell, which would have been made worse by his plans to add at least a dozen new buildings to the farm, might have been what got him killed. Lester Hamilton is definitely dead in the waters of Murdock's rock pit as this latest in the series starts. The question is whether it was a horrible accident or murder.
Being the most hated man in the county makes nearly every man, woman and child a suspect. The fact that protests are happening out at the chicken farm, that somebody is shooting arrows into county buildings and cars, and that some other stuff is going on means Sheriff Rhodes has his hands full. At least this time, he does not have to deal with somebody running against him in the upcoming election.
Murder in the Air is the seventeenth book in the cozy style Sheriff Dan Rhodes mystery series and another good one. Once again, author Bill Crider puts readers in mind of his special place in East Texas where strange things happen and Sheriff Rhodes always figures everything out in the end. No new ground is turned over in this series which features all the usual characters doing all the usual things. Not that any is expected. Instead, this is comfort reading at its best by one of the legends of the Texas writing community in his signature series.
Murder in the Air: A Dan Rhodes Mystery
Thomas Dunne Books (Minotaur Books)
Material supplied by the good folks of the Plano, Texas Public Library System. Online they can be found at http://www.plano.gov/Departments/Libraries/Pages/default.aspx which features links to information in a wide range of venues for locals and others.
Kevin R. Tipple © 2010
Friday, November 12, 2010
I mentioned yesterday my severe annoyance with plagiarists, among other people, stealing my review work. A case in point is the book review book review that author Michael Bracken alerted me earlier this week had been stolen by a website named “Private Investigator Chicago” located online at: http://privateinvestigatorchicago.blogspot.com/
Not only did the thief do a lousy job of stealing my review off of Amazon that was posted in October, 2004, the thief did not credit me as the author of the review. Kind of ironic considering the type of service the site purports to represent.
So, the posting this week for Friday’s Forgotten Books hosted by Patti Abbott online at:
http://pattinase.blogspot.com/ serves two purposes.
One, I am taking back my intellectual property from the thief at the above website. I don’t like plagiarists and am sure Dante reserved a special circle in hell for them.
Two, I am shedding light again on a very good short story collection written by Michael Bracken. If you have not read his books, you should. He is also a very prolific short story wise having been published in a variety of markets.
Besides all that, Michael is an all-around good guy.
Having read and enjoyed very much the novel, "Deadly Campaign" by this author, I have been looking forward to reading this book for quite some time. But, getting my hands on a copy wasn't easy for a number of reasons. Finally, I got one and I wasn't disappointed in this hard hitting collection featuring private Investigator Nathaniel Rose.
The 103-page book is made up of seven complex stories involving Nathaniel Rose and a recurring cast of characters over a significant period of time. In almost every case, the women are sexy, the violence is hard hitting, and Rose gets the crook by any means necessary.
The book opens with the story "Partners" where Rose is nearly killed when his Mustang explodes. He survives and with little idea who wanted him dead, starts looking.
"Fair Warning" follows and is a case involving a missing husband, fast food, and a tantalizing wife.
"Heartbreak Hotel" comes next in the book as well as in the book arc in terms of character development and time, and involves a missing fiancée. Simply making photocopies can get one killed it seems.
"Lucky Seven" is another aptly named story. In this case, seven witnesses can all detail for court how they saw a man kill his wife and her lover. The client just needs to know how good the case is, which on the surface, seems simple enough.
"Even Roses Bleed" revolves around a beautiful woman and her need to have her husband dead. Word on the street is Nathaniel Rose would fit the bill nicely, in more ways than one.
Strippers have always been a hallmark in detective fiction but rarely used to such good effect in "Tequila Sunrise and the Horse."
But after all, for any P.I. the cases are "Only Business." Something to remember in the sometimes stormy waters of love.
With an overall story arc linking the stories in this anthology and providing character development, this book is a very good read and more complex than many novels. The writing style is terse and hard hitting and usually in dialogue form. At the same time, scene descriptions come alive for the reader who will quickly become lost in the murky world of "Bullets, Booze and Broads."
Tequila Sunrise: Hardboiled P.I Nathaniel Rose: Bullets, Booze and Broads
ISBN # 1-58715-252-5
Large Trade Paperback
Material received from the author in exchange for my objective review.
Kevin R. Tipple © 2004, 2010