Monday, January 31, 2011

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!

Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: And the Winners Are . . .: "Here are the ten lucky winners in the Lincoln Lawyer contest. One of these days you should be receiving a book of poster in the mail. Benj..."

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Review: "Dead Even: A River City Crime Anthology" by Frank Zafiro

The men and woman of the fictional River City police department located somewhere in Eastern Washington are not super cops. They are real life human beings with their own lives on and off the job. Lives that contain hopes, dreams, shattered expectations, and failure just like the rest of us. Through novels that began with Under A Raging Moon, continued with Heroes Often Fail and continued in the most recent Beneath A Weeping Sky released last March, as well as numerous stories in a variety of markets, author Frank Zafiro has a consistently used his experiences as well as ones of other fellow police officers to make the characters he writes about alive for the reader.

The fifteen stories in this book released last October by Gray Dog Press have all appeared before either online in various venues or in print publication. Several of these stories were finalists for the Derringer award given out annually by the Short Mystery Fiction Society.  For those familiar with the novels, these stories further explore events before or in between the books. For readers new to the works of Frank Zafiro, these stories give you a glimpse of the treats to come in the novels.

The anthology is broken into four sections named for some of the characters in the novels. After a forward that briefly explains how the book was pulled together and his intentions, author Frank Zafiro starts off with the section on “Katie MacLeod.” The three stories, “Last Day In Paradise, “Three Days of Christmas,” and “Home for Christmas” revolve around Katie Macleod and are far after events in the first two novels. They showcase some of the motivations that drive this complex and intriguing character as well as several different cases.

The section on the detective tag team of “Finch and Elias” is next starting on page 55. There are five stories here and include “Be My Santa Baby,” “Finch and Elias,” “Core Issue,” “The Bastard Mummy” and “The Worst Door.”  Along with working some harsh and some funny cases, readers are treated to the dynamics between the detectives who may grate on each other occasionally but always have the partner’s back. These stories are interlocked, beginning with a robbery gone bad in “Be My Santa Baby” and carry the crimes forward to solving the case and the repercussions in successive stories. Many of the stories in this anthology work the same way detailing events from different perspectives and how the ripples from the original event spread outwards to touch other lives in ways unforeseen.

Beginning on page 155 is the section on “Paul Heiro” and features two stories titled “Running Into Darkness” and “If Only.” Paul Heiro is one of several rather tragic figures in the River City series. A strong theme of Mr. Zafiro’s work is the idea that events shape people causing some to get stronger while others go down. That path, up or down, is almost predetermined or fate for some characters and Paul Heiro seems to be one of those destined to go down.

It is not just the men and women who wear the badge that get the full character building treatment making them come alive for the reader. The victims as well as the criminals come fully alive for readers. One of the higher profile criminals, and there are several, is “Dominic Bracco” and his section begins on page 175.

The section contains five stories titled “The Meat-cutter’s Wife,” “Pride Goeth,” “And A Fall Cometh,” “Rescuing Isaac” and the title story of the anthology “Dead Even.” A New Jersey mobster exiled to River City in eastern Washington, Dominic Bracco is trying to get along with everyone while bringing his own business style to the area. The problem for him is he doesn't have the muscle to compete; he can't go against the Russian mob, or the other criminal interests in the area. And every now and then Uncle Angelo reaches out and wants something done and just can't get the basic fact that the state of Washington is not New Jersey. A dark figure that is also very smart and charming, his relationship with others is fascinating to watch---from a distance.

At 253 pages including publication notes for the stories and bio, this is a fast read. Many of the stories are very interconnected--not only with each other---but telling the same story from a different character's perspective. Violence and its descriptive depictions are present at times, but when they do appear, they are limited and not gratuitous. Instead of focusing on the carnage when it happens, as some authors do, Mr. Zafiro consistently focuses on the psychological aspects of events. How events work on the character of the individual, shape future actions, etc. Whether they be law enforcement or otherwise, how people hold up under expectations of others while dealing with events is a focus of these stories as well as the novels that feature the characters living their lives in the small town of River City.

Those new to the author's work will discover a terse writing style filled full with emotion and nuances in these stories. The characters will come alive with some you knew from the start heading on a path where things will not go well. The book can serve as a great introduction to the novels as characters are introduced through story as well as brief explanations at the beginning of the sections and the stories themselves.

For those well familiar with the novels, Dead Even: A River City Crime Anthology is a chance to read stories you may have missed on other venues and an opportunity to reacquaint with old friends. The latest River City novel titled And Every Man Has To Die is currently scheduled to be released in March by Gray Dog Press.

Dead Even: A River City Crime Anthology
Frank Zafiro
Gray Dog Press
March 2010
ISBN# 978-1-936178-33-9
253 Pages
(Kindle version currently $2.99)

ARC supplied by the author in exchange for my objective review.

Kevin R. Tipple © 2011

Friday, January 28, 2011

Friday's Forgotten Books--"Witness To Myself" by Seymour Shubin

Time once again for Friday’s Forgotten Books hosted by Patti Abbott. After reading what I came up with, head over to her blog at for the bigger list. Every week there are a lot of good books covered and plenty of reading material to keep one occupied for quite a while.

This week I chose Witness To Myself by Seymour Shubin. Been thinking a lot lately about those little choices we make along the way that can lead to one to where you are now. In that spirit, I offer the below……

Adolescence is a hard perplexing time ripe with strange thoughts, strange feelings, and impetuous actions with little consideration of the consequences. It certainly was fifteen years ago for teenager Alan Benning. His family, on vacation in Cape Cod by way of a large motor home, had no idea what he thought or felt. The family was well off, his parents were conservative and Alan, with no one to talk to about life and his feelings, began to hate and fear himself. That hatred and fear of himself grew and grew after the incident in the woods near the beach during that vacation.

In the present day, Alan, now thirty is a successful lawyer with a steady girlfriend, Anna, a loving cousin, and an obsession about what might or might not have happened that fateful day fifteen years ago. Driven to know, he begins to unravel his own perfect life. A life that appears to be perfect but hides so many dark secrets that he is not sure of what actually happened back then.

Author Seymour Shubin has weaved a complete tale about the human spirit. Shifting in point of view between Alan and his cousin the author paints a picture of obsession in Witness To Myself. Not only is Alan obsessed with what he might or might not have done but the cousin has his own obsession. The cousin’s need isn’t as obvious early in the novel but the end of the book it is clear that his own obsession is just as strong.

It is also clear that the author is commenting on the nature of mankind. Those little things that surely lead to disaster. Those little things, unnoticed or unremarked at the time and yet become telling through the use of hindsight. The signs were obvious, as they often are, and unnoticed until long after the fact. The author makes this point throughout the work as he weaves complex multifaceted characters throughout the tale.

The result is a fast paced intense read. While only 250 pages in paperback, this isn’t a beach book and far from it. Witness To Myself is a book that rapidly becomes a real page turner as it pulls the reader into a world not unlike his or her own. This is a book that one doesn’t want interrupted and is sorry to see end. Intense and driven, the book doesn’t let go until that final phrase “the end” and even then lingers in the mind.

Witness To Myself
By Seymour Shubin
April 2006
Hard Case Crime
ISBN #0-8439-5590-2
250 Pages

Material received courtesy of my ongoing paid membership in the Hard Case Crime Book Club. The club is on hiatus right now as it changes some things. Bad from a reading standpoint but good for me as otherwise I would have to let my membership expire.

Kevin R. Tipple © 2006, 2011

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Mental Therapy

Reading a book has always been great therapy for me.

Reading outside on the back porch over looking the creek even better.

Today the temps climbed this afternoon to the 60s and I managed to sit outside for a chunk of time and read and watch the birds and the ducks do their thing.  The book was good, the day beautiful, and for awhile life was almost normal again.

I will pay for it tonight as I sat up far too long. But, it was worth it.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Review: "INHUMAN CONDITION: Tales of Mystery and Suspense" by Kate Thornton

Sometimes the blurb on the book encapsulates the book in an excellent way. From the back cover of the recently released collection, INHUMAN CONDITION written by Kate Thornton, comes this explanation:

“Human beings tend to fear the things they don’t know, and that is often sensible, given the lurking dangers that confronted our distant ancestors. But sometimes we need to examine carefully the things we think we know: the pet shop owner in town, the teenage girl who lives next door, or the nice man who walks his dog each evening in our neighborhood. The stories in this collection will drive that point home, and perhaps give you reason to re-define the word “'inhuman.'”

As well as define “human.” With a subtitle of Tales of Mystery and Imagination these twenty-one tales set on earth and in space, frequently push at boundaries defining what it means to be human. Frequently the tales are a bit disturbing, not in terms of graphic depictions, but in the meaning of what has happened or will happen thanks to the final twist at the end illuminating the dark working of a character's twisted mind. In nature, the concept of “camouflage” keeps both the hunted and hunter alive in the constant struggle to eat or not to be eaten. That same concept, passed down in the hardwired code of humanity from our distant ancestors is alive and well in these times. Make no mistake—this book is about the hunters hiding in plain sight among us and the prey they seek for a variety of purposes.

The anchor story in the collection is the very good tale, “Nightwatch: Cardenio” (pages 83-154). Using characters and other story elements originally created by Jeff Williams and with his permission as noted, the tale takes the Nightwatch team deep into the Amazon. A research site does not just vanish off the face of the earth in Brazil. But, it has happened and the research site is gone without a trace. It is now to the team to figure out what happened and why in this adventure tale.

Author Kate Thornton creates a sort of whiplash effect for the reader several times in this collection and this is a case in point. After the above noted adventure tale deep in the Amazonian jungle, she follows it with “Cell Phone Call” starting on page 155. In five short pages, the author makes parental nightmares all too real and leaves readers, at least those of us with kids, thinking twice about using our cell phones in public.

That story is followed by “Vinnie's Cargo” and readers are back to adventure and suspense. In this one, there are shuttle runs between the Moon and Mars in the unspecified future. Despite the rules and regulations, where there are humans involved there will always be some who attempt to move contraband and make some ill-gotten gains. Usually, nothing good can come of some attempts and that may, or may not, be the case here.

And so it goes through the entire book that contains both previously published and credited work and new. Author Kate Thornton consistently delivers through the entire book as each and every single story is a good one. That rarely happens.  Whether it is late in the collection with the very disturbing mystery “The Eyes Never Change” or the strangely amusing science fiction tale “One of the Family” or any other, the read is constantly good and full of rich details in settings, characters, and storyline.

Not only is Kate Thornton to be congratulated, so too is the publisher. Denouement Press is an imprint of Wolfmont LLC owned and operated by Tony Burton. Known as a publisher of anthologies and cozy style mysteries, this is a new venture for the publisher and reflects the kind of book that might not have been published by Wolfmont before. 

One hopes this is not the last collection released by Kate Thornton. Simply put, INHUMAN CONDITION: Tales of Mystery and Imagination available in print and e-book editions, is a very good book and one well worth your time and money.

INHUMAN CONDITION: Tales of Mystery and Suspense
Kate Thornton
Denouement Press (Wolfmont LLC)
ISBN# 978-1-60364-033-6
Paperback(also available in e-book)
310 Pages

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

Kevin R. Tipple © 2011

Monday, January 24, 2011

Because of You

Because of you, I should have my insurance reinstated for January in a couple of days. The out of state company that is managing the COBRA deal got the check last Thursday. So, by this Thursday I should be able to refill my pills and not a moment too soon as I am out at this point. Hopefully, they will do things a little quicker this go around.

Because of you, there is a little extra so we paid our very past due utilities which means things will stay on. 

All I can say is--thank you!

I have only been talking about the tip of the iceberg here and the iceberg is huge. "Thank you" does not begin to communicate how appreciative I and my family are for your support. It means so much in so many ways. You just don't know.

Thank you.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

And then there is this----

I don't as well normally post twice but I am a huge fan of Hard Case Crime (Tyrus Books as well and a couple of others and now somebody is going to be mad they were not mentioned and rain curses down on me) and just saw this and had to share.

Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: Hard Case Crime Update from Charles Ardai: "Friends, Bit by bit, we're getting closer to the re-launch of Hard Case Crime with our new publisher, Titan Books. Our backlist titles ar..."

Bill Crider's Contest

Pretty cool so check it out......

Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: A Contest: "I'm participating in a promotion for Michael Connelly's The Lincoln Lawyer. I can give away five copies of the poster for the movie version ..."

Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday's Forgotten Books: "Hose Monkey" by Tony Spinosa

It is Friday once again and I happily return to what we primarily do here---review books. This week’s post is on a very good book you may never have heard of. Without further ado, I give you my review of Hose Monkey written by Tony Spinosa (Reed Farrel Coleman).

Mid February 2004 finds Long Island, New York cold and dreary. So too is the life of former NYPD Detective Joe Serpe. His life is a wreckage of shattered dreams and hopes. His fifteen year marriage has collapsed with no hope of reconciliation. His former partner committed suicide during a police corruption investigation that took both of their jobs and ended any chance of having a career in law enforcement. Then, there is his brother, Vinny, a firefighter who died running for his life as Tower One fell. Vinny had been the only one to stand by him while his life crumbled and it was Vinny who took him into his home where he had no other place to go but the streets. Vinny’s home became Joe Serpe’s with Vinny’s death and his voice still plays daily on the outgoing message on the phone answering machine. Joe Serpe’s existence has shrunk down to living as a ghost of his former self while he delivers home heating oil by day and drinks Vodka heavily each night.

Also dealing with loss is Bob Healy who lost his wife Mary to pancreatic cancer. His period of loss has been shorter, only six months, but it is just as painfully deep. He’s trying to adjust, not only to her loss, but to doing all the things she used to routinely take care of which includes getting the heating oil delivered. He also was the lead Internal Affairs Detective on Serpe’s case.

By coincidence or stroke of luck, Joe Serpe ends up making a delivery to Healy’s home. That visit rekindles bitterness between the two men as well as long unfinished business. At almost the same time a mentally handicapped coworker of Joe’s is killed. The local police figure it to be the work of gangs. Joe disagrees and before long Joe Serpe and Bob Healy are in contact and soon grudgingly working together to find justice for the dead while trying to bury their burdens from the past.

You may not have heard of Tony Spinosa. If you have heard of Reed Farrel Coleman the author who has a slew of awards for his Moe Prager series (Walking The Perfect Square and others)

then you will be interested in his pseudonym Tony Spinosa. This book is a far different book than the Moe Prager series though familiar themes are again present here.

Grittier in all aspects, this first novel in the Joe Serpe series features tough language, graphic violence and a man at the proverbial end of the line in many ways. Joe is just going through the motions of a bare existence that is empathetically painful for the reader. His depression and anger at the world fueled nightly by Vodka figuratively drips off of the pages in the first half of the book.

Guilt is a powerful motivator and Joe has plenty to feel guilty about. Love is a powerful motivator as well and that works on Joe almost as well as the guilt does. Once Joe begins to come alive as a human being again along with being an investigator, he becomes a threat to others. Readers quickly learn just how good a cop Joe was back in the day.

Written in a third person tough guy style far different than the Moe Prager series, this complex intriguing read blends plenty of mystery, violence, and the beginnings of a romance into a hard hitting story.

Hose Monkey
Tony Spinosa
Bleak House Books (Big Earth Publishing)
ISBN# 1-932557-18-0
292 Pages

My sincere thanks to the staff of the Irving Public Library in Irving, Texas who sent a copy of the book to my local library in Plano, Texas. Interlibrary loan is a wonderful thing.

Kevin R. Tipple © 2009, 2011

Thursday, January 20, 2011

"Use Your Fire Sword"

I pay some attention to my horoscope though I don't put a lot of stock in it. Regardless of what some guy on the news somewhere has decided I still consider myself a SCORPIO. (I also still consider Pluto a planet no matter how they define planets these days.) So, I chuckled when I read mine today in the local paper. The advice ended with the line "Use Your Fire Sword."

I did.

I also threw at least a dozen document wizards and at least as many fact boulders.

By mail today, I filed my written notice to the court regarding the suit brought by the debt collection agency, ALLEN ADKINS &ASSOCIATES and the gigantic CITIBANK. I mentioned the other day I am quite the pack rat with paperwork and it came in very handy for this suit. As required and directed, my mailed response went to the court and ALL parties at their physical and mailing addresses.  I used their own letters against them to totally refute their written allegations to the court and detailed in great detail the actual facts of the case.

It is going to be interesting to see them explain to the court why they told me in writing one thing and why they told the court a completely different story in writing. The really sad thing about all this was that if CITIBANK had just worked with me as I attempted to work with them and did so in writing no less, all of their malicious and punitive actions including turning the account over to a debt collector d/b/a ALLEN ADKINS & ASSOCIATES, P.C. could have been avoided.

Whether or not the Judge will see the evidence and written documentation I have provided in great detail to the court as I do remains to be seen. Time will tell though I am very hopeful based on the detailed evidence.

I thank the various people who have privately offered advice and various supports. Much, much appreciated.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Getting Served

Got served yesterday on behalf of ALLEN ADKINS & ASSOCIATES representing CITIBANK that they are suing me for $1701.71 plus court costs, etc. Have severe medical issues, lost my job back in October, filed for SS Disability back in November and we filed for food stamps this past week. We simply don't have any money or we would have worked out payment deal with CITIBANK as we tried to do on our own and they refused before turning it over to a collection agency based in Lubbock, d/b/a as ALLEN ADKINS & ASSOCIATES.

Scheduled to appear in Judge W. M "Mike" Yarbrough’s Justice of the Peace Court Precinct 4 located in Frisco, Texas very soon. A bit of a pack rat, I have detailed records regarding all correspondence with all parties to show the court and counsel.

What I need is a local attorney to help navigate the situation. So, if you are a local attorney or you know of one, please contact me at


Friday, January 14, 2011

Friday's Forgotten Books: "Tin Soldiers" by Mark Leonard

Sorry this is coming online late----bad night followed by a worse morning. As always, the complete list is on Patti Abbott's blog. Thank you for reading and thank you Zumya Publications for sending me this book back in the day.

Seventeen year old Captain Richard Arthur attends the Maxwell Military Academy in New York state. Vietnam is percolating right along and those attending the academy know that before too much longer they will be over there. It’s a closed warped world, as any military academy is, and they handle everything internally and remain for all intents and purposes, closed off from the public. Even when a cadet falls to his brutal death from the roof off one of the barracks.

Ted Sheridan took a short and very quick fatal dive off the roof. Before long, the often wittily sarcastic Captain Arthur, known by the obvious nickname of “King” to one and all, is placed in charge of the investigation by the brass. An investigation that is rigged from the start and King is very well aware that, like the last time, he is supposed to arrive at the preconceived conclusion acceptable to those in charge. While he knows what the mission is, he doesn’t agree and besides that he really does have his hands full with some of his fellow students who are cracking under the pressure. And what does Ted’s incredibly hot sister want with him and why does she keep showing up in the strangest of places?

What follows is a very twisted novel, part mystery, part humor and completely engrossing. There are parts that are just laugh out loud funny and are guaranteed to definitely offend some folks as this author has absolutely no concerns about the concept of political correctness. That fact along with his repeated use of obscenities both in dialogue and in narration will surely annoy some readers.

However, if you like your reads a little different than the normal run of the mill and don’t mind embarrassing yourself by laughing out loud in public, then this mystery is sure to work for you. Not only is this book certainly not politically correct, it contains a twisting case that is sure to appeal to anyone interested in crime and solving the case. Arthur may be a foul mouthed Sherlock in a military uniform at times, but it is well worth it to tag along for this very good read.


By Mark Leonard

Zumaya Publications


ISBN # 1-55410-268-5

Large Trade Paperback

265 Pages

Kevin R. Tipple © 2006, 2011

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Predators & Editors Voting

Predators and Editors Voting is back up I ask for your vote if you are so inclined. Review sites

are at the link below and my deal is currently listed fourth alphabetically:

Also, while I am interrupting your day by begging, I am raising money to pay for my COBRA insurance via donation buttons on my blog for ChipIn and Paypal direct. Readers of my blog know that I am having serious medical issues that have cost me my job, totally wiped out our family finances, and pretty much rendered me home bound and incapable of walking or sitting much along with pretty well ruining my life. Things are so severe that I have filed for Social Security Disability and food stamps and am awaiting governmental decisions in both cases. I don't ask for help lightly. But, at the urging of several people privately and publicly, I went ahead last week and set up the donation buttons.

So if you can help and want to do so, I thank you very much.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Reviewing: "2011 Delmar Nurse’s Drug Handbook: 20th Anniversary Edition"

The 2011 Delmar Nurse's Drug Handbook, as the title implies, primarily intended for nursing students. However, it is an excellent resource for the lay person to consult. Especially at two in the morning when the only other real option is an expensive ER trip.

Chapter One titled “A-Z Listing of Drugs” is the main focus of the book and is over 180 pages in length. As explained in the quick reference section preceding the chapter, each drug is listed by its generic name, phonetic pronunciation, classification, its pregnancy category (risks, etc.), the trade names of the drug, whether or not it is classified as a controlled substance by the FDA, and how it acts on the body. Also covered is important information regarding when the drug is not to be used (something I found out the hard way last winter and spring about a certain anti-cholesterol drug despite my asking lots of questions), drug interactions, side effects, and other helpful information.

“Therapeutic Drug Classification” is the topic of the second chapter that begins on page 1859. Here the drugs are arranged by class such as ACE Inhibitors (pages 1869-1872), estrogen (pages 1963-1968), penicillin (pages 2021 – 2024) and others. This section leads off with a warning, stressed frequently throughout the book, that the information is subject to change and to consult the FDA website for current info. After the chapter ends on page 2063 with a very informative section on vitamins that includes food sources and what the symptoms of various vitamin deficiencies are, the book moves into the appendices.

The appendices are primarily going to be of use to the intended audience of nursing students and nursing professionals as they cover common abbreviations, the issue of medication errors and how important it is to report them (something stunningly obvious to this reader who found it appalling folks had to be told), controlled substance lists for the USA and Canada, how to calculate body mass and body surface, the elements of a prescription label, and other helpful information.

The average reader should also take a look at Appendix Nine titled “Drug/Food Interactions” as it helpfully explains what drugs should be taken on an empty stomach as well as what drugs should be taken with food. It also includes info on what foods to avoid with various drugs. This leads into Appendix Ten covering “Drugs Whose Effects Are Modified by Grapefruit Juice.” The list is quite extensive and covers four pages showing both positive and negative effects.

Several more appendices follow on common Spanish phrases in health care, drugs that should not be crushed, etc., before the 2011 Delmar Nurse’s Handbook concludes with a forty-eight page index. There are also directions for those who purchase the book on how to obtain free additional benefits by logging into the community section of the publisher website. As noted below, this material was obtained through my local library system and therefore, I was unable to explore this possibility. One of the benefits listed is a free iPhone/iPod application which would clearly be very helpful.

At 2190 pages there is a lot of very helpful information contained in the 2011 20th Anniversary Edition. Designed to be a resource guide for nursing students, it is best not to make any decision based solely on the information found here. Be sure to consult medical professionals, as well as the FDA website for current information as stressed throughout the 2011 Delmar Nurse’s Drug Handbook. This excellent resource will allow you to either rest easy knowing it agrees with what you have been told, or help you raise questions and discuss treatment options.

2011 Delmar Nurse’s Drug Handbook: 20th Anniversary Edition
George R. Spratto and Adrienne L. Woods
Delmar Cengage Learning
June 2010
ISBN# 978-1-111-131487
2190 Pages

Material supplied by the good folks of the Plano, Texas Public Library System. Online they can be found at which features links to information in a wide range of venues for locals and others.

Kevin R. Tipple © 2010

Monday, January 10, 2011

Reviewing: "The New Western Home" by Chase Reynolds Ewald

I originally picked this book up at my local library to review it for a future column in the Senior News newspaper. My monthly column covers books that are either written by Texas authors, set in Texas, or of interest to Texans. Space limitations mean I have four hundred words maximum to cover two books a month.

However, once I got the book home and started reading it, I quickly realized this book didn't really fit the column requirements too well. That was a shame as this is a beautifully photographed book full of design ideas that honor the old classic traditions of the west and meet today's concerns about the environment. This blending of the old and the new results in detailed coverage of fourteen very different homes located across several western states. In each case, there are numerous pictures of the home from outside and inside. A detailed text accompanies the pictures and includes not only information about each house as well as the environment at that location and how the house was constructed to meet environmental goals.

After an extensive introduction by author Chase Reynolds Ewald that explains the purpose of the book while also documenting some of the beauty of Montana and the struggle to save that beauty for future generations, the book opens with a post and beam home in Marin County, California. This is the area of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Point Reyes National Seashore among other protected lands. The local area also features numerous ranches devoted to cattle and dairy farms. As such, the depicted classic red wood barn fits right into the landscape. Readers are treated to an explanation and history of the home as well as numerous pictures inside and outside. Simplicity is the key here except for the incredible kitchen photographed by Audrey Hall on page 31.

The photography makes the book and features the wonderful work of photographer Audrey Hall on every page. Those pictures detail history in a modern world where it is the Bar 20 Ranch in Montana, an incredibly spacious and breathtaking fishing cabin on the banks of the Yellowstone River, the new prairie home in Paradise Valley, or many others showcased in this book. While the text can explain over and over again what was done and how it was done, the incredible photographs are what tell the tale in this fantastic book.

This homage to the west, particularly the Wyoming/Montana area, continues for 173 pages before leading into a two page resource list featuring the builders and architects, furniture makers, artists and many others that were involved that created the stunning homes in this book. Unlike many such books that feature sterile homes that no human family could ever live in, these are homes that people do own and live in everyday. These owners are lucky people and so too are readers who get to peer inside for a while.

The New Western Home
Chase Reynolds Ewald
Audrey Hall (Photographer)
ISBN# 978-1-4236-0255-2
176 Pages

Material supplied by the good folks of the Plano, Texas Public Library System.

Kevin R. Tipple (c) 2010

Friday, January 07, 2011

Friday's Forgotten Books: "A Dream Of Drowned Hollow" by Lee Barwood

Last November I read and reviewed The Caretaker of Lorne Field by Dave Zeltserman. A very good novel that, while billed as a horror novel, did not read that way to me. Instead, I saw the book as a mystery with a horror component. Dave’s book continues to do very well and seems to be one of those books that seem to resonate differently with every reader. That led me to think about what other books seemed to do that same trick for readers.

That led me to my selection for today which mark the first Friday’s Forgotten Books selection for the New Year. As always, you can read the complete list as it is compiled at Patti Abbotts wonderful blog found at Without further ado, I give you my review originally written in 2006 for “A Dream Of Drowned Hollow” written by Lee Barwood.

For college student April Rue Stoner, life is becoming increasingly complex and it isn’t just college. Something is happening to her and she doesn’t understand it. She seems to sense and see things in the Ozark countryside in ways that others do not. The trees seem to actually “talk” to her and her abilities don’t stop there. What she sees makes her question her own sanity until she discovers that she can photograph what she alone sees and show others.

By doing so, she can visually prove what she has seen to have happened in the past or what will happen in the future. In this case, her photographs don’t lie and she can use them to show others that she is not mad. While she is able to see her long deceased mother at a nearby pond which brings her tremendous joy there is a flip side to her powers. She can see dark forces at work and she can see a possible nightmarish future where the land is destroyed and friends and family are dead. All done because of a greedy, developer determined to wreak havoc on the environment.

In this 532 page novel which won the “Andre Norton’s Gryphon Award” April Stoner seeks to save the land and all that it contains from a horrible fate. The land and its creatures are magical and so too is the author’s obvious love for the Ozark region. It is rare to read a novel that so powerfully captures the beauty of a region and the need to practice conservation and proper stewardship of the land. In a novel that gradually moves forward as months and years pass, the author weaves a spellbinding tale that entertains while reminding readers that once the magic is gone, it is gone forever. Destruction in the name of progress is never a good thing and sometimes the magic in the land fights back.

A Dream of Drowned Hollow
By Lee Barwood
Double Dragon Publishing
Large Trade Paperback
ISBN #1-55404-320-4

Material supplied by the author at the time in exchange for my objective review.

Kevin R. Tipple © 2006, 2011

Thursday, January 06, 2011

2011--Plus Six

Woke up this am in a bit less pain than recent days. Gotta wonder if the warmer weather of the last two days has made any difference?

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

2011---Plus Five

I want to thank the folks who have given generously the last few days. It means a lot--more than I can really explain.

The last ten days have been the worst I have gone through with whatever is wrong with me. Over nine months, one gets a sense of where the boundaries are on good days (rare though they are) and bad days. The last ten days have been proof that the bad days can be so much worse than I thought they could be.

Over the last nine months I have gradually gotten worse for whatever reason. I am hoping that what has gone on the last ten days is just a temporary setback and not permanent. But, if it is permanent, it does not bode well.

Saturday, January 01, 2011


began on a cold note around here. Not just because it was cold outside. The heat broke last night and by this morning, it was down to fifty in the apartment. Maintenance came by in the early afternoon and fixed us as well as several other apartments. One hopes it keeps working.

So, we have a new year. Big damn deal. In past years, the first day of the new year has always marked hope. I always had a feeling things were going to get better for those I love and myself. Not this year.

If I could take 2010 bundle it up, pour gasoline on it, and burn the damn thing out in the parking lot I would. 2010 was a year of pain and stress for me, for my wife and just who had her own major event deal last Spring, as well as about everyone I know. In our case I don't see things turning around.

As of midnight, I don't have insurance because we could not make the January COBRA payment. I have at least two more months to wait to see if I qualify for Social Security Disability. As soon as the rent check clears the bank and takes the last of the money out in a couple of days, we will be filing for foodstamps. Everything is slipping away, piece by piece, and there is not a damn thing I can do about any of it.

And that is a huge chunk of why I am in a foul mood all the time driving the wife and kids nuts. Sheer frustration. Hurting nonstop is part of it. But the fact that I can't do something to change anything or fix anything makes it so much worse. Not only am I gradually getting worse and losing mobility and all that, I can't stop the rolling disaster for the family.

It is a nightmare and I can't wake up.