Saturday, December 31, 2011

Review: "Death, Taxes and a French Manicure: A Tara Holloway Novel" By Diane Kelly (Reviewed by Caroline Clemmons)

I am very pleased to welcome fellow Texan and author Caroline Clemmons to Kevin's Corner. Well known in the mystery and romance community, Caroline knows well what her readers want as well as what is good in the works from other authors. Hopefully, 2012 will see more reviews here from Caroline.

Review by Caroline Clemmons

Death, Taxes, and a French Manicure
A Tara Holloway Novel
By Diane Kelly

As the back copy warns, tax cheats beware. Tara Holloway is a gun carrying crack shot and she’s kicking ass in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Tara perfectly combines femininity and bulldog determination in pursuit of saving taxpayers from those who hide money offshore or under the counter. No tax cheat can fool her with a double set of books.

Tara’s boss, the Lobo, plans to retire once her amount of seized funds reaches a hundred million. The part of that Tara finds interesting is that the agent who pushes the amount to Lobo’s goal will receive a ten thousand dollar bonus.

Diane Kelly crafts a clever mystery centered around Tara’s adventures. Tara’s deadly when she’s teamed up with her regular partner, Eddie. But when Tara is temporarily teamed with DEA undercover agent Christina, the two women fuel one another’s eccentricities. The problem for Tara is whether or not the gorgeous Brent is a genuine hero worth letting her heart melt for or a sleaze she needs to send to the slammer. Diane’s excellent writing kept my opinion wavering to the end.

Let me quote a couple of passages to illustrate why I loved this book:

“When I was nine, I formed a Silly Putty pecker for my Ken doll, knowing he’d have no chance of fulfilling Barbie’s needs given the permanence of erectile dysfunction with which the toy designers of Mattel had cursed him.”

“Ever notice how rich people don’t buy things? They acquire them.”

Joe had a goofy smile, an acne-pocked face, and the worst haircut I’d ever seen. “The guy wears a mullet?
Christina nodded. “We may have to kill him.”

This book kept me laughing, guessing, and then left me smiling with a sigh once I’d closed the book. Plus, it inspired me and I invested in my own French manicure.

Caroline Clemmons (c) 2011

Caroline Clemmons writes romance, mystery, and adventure. She and her husband live on five acres in rural North Central Texas with their menagerie of rescued pets. You can learn more about her at and

Friday, December 30, 2011

FFB Review: "Shot To Death: 31 Stories of Nefarious New England" by Stephen D. Rogers

It is Friday and that means it is time for Friday’s Forgotten Books hosted by Patti Abbott. Patti is taking this Friday and the next off which means Todd Mason is filling in for her. Somebody else you should be reading on a regular basis by the way.

Despite recent events, I seem to be getting more and more requests for reviews--- especially on books that are anthologies or collections. Of course, some of that is due to the ease of self-publishing. At least, many folks seem to be claiming it is easy to submit and publish through several different portals. I have no idea if it is easy since I have not tried to put out my own collection of published work yet.

Something that I now plan on doing in the coming weeks as Sandi has made it clear, regardless of her health and our future together and how short it may now be, that she absolutely wants me to keep writing as much as I physically can despite my own worsening health issues. Right now, I can’t say no to her on anything. How I am going to make anything fiction wise happen, when everything seems so fractured and forever broken, I have no idea. That is a thought for another day.

The surge the last few months in requests for collection and anthology reviews also seems reader driven to me. I suspect that e-book devices such as the Kindle have something to do with that. Whatever is causing it, it should hopefully bring back an appreciation for the well done short story. To me, a very well done short story far shorter than the traditional novella, has always struck me as the ultimate mini novel. If done right, the short story could easily have nearly as much complexity as a novel.

Today’s review from earlier this year showcases one of many good anthologies/ collections I have read this past year.


Reviewing anthologies and collections is always tough. A novel can lag in spots providing an uneven and yet enjoyable read. That same effect can happen in an anthology or collection where not every story is going to work well for a particular person. Then there is the fact that space limitations often prevent the reviewer from ever going into any depth on all the stories. These situations and others make reviewing such books problematic.

At the same time, readers are asking more and more for anthologies and collections. Subsequently, the last couple of years there has been a surge in publication of anthologies and collections. Most collections and anthologies pass right on by due to time constraints. However, when this was made available for review by Stephen D. Rogers it seemed like one that should be a good book.

My expectations were met with a few personal favorites being:

“C.O.D.” points out that damaging a mailbox is both a federal crime and a personal offense with repercussions for all in the area.

“Fill It with the Cheapest” isn’t just about the gas, the road trip, or the unnamed driver in a story that isn’t clear until the very end.

Twists are guaranteed in this book and that certainly is also the case in “Last Call.” Training the new employee can come back to get you in not so obvious ways.

“One-Eyed Jacks” blends a unique drinking game, several friends with secrets, and a need for final justice.

Justice along with making things right are the twin themes of “Smoking Gun” where a mother simply has no more choices.

While the New England settings of these tales is often vague or not defined at all, meaning the tales could be located anywhere, the sense of desperation comes through clearly in each one. Whether told from the perspective of the good cop, the bad cop, the petty thief, the hard working parent, or the many other character choices the author uses in each story, the sense of immense desperation comes through in every single case. Often the reader is left with the feeling that characters involved never had a chance because everything always had been and always would be stacked against him or her.

While bodies and crimes abound in the collection, that sense of desperation makes this a good book that is not easy reading. These are stories that nestle under your skin like chiggers and don’t go away easily. The fact that they linger is a basic part of what makes a good writer and a good book.

Shot To Death: 31 Stories of Nefarious New England
Stephen D. Rogers
Mainly Murder Press
February 2010
ISBN# 978-0-9825899-0-8
Paperback (also available via Kindle)
270 Pages

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

Kevin R. Tipple © 2011

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Review: "The Last Call: A Bill Travis Mystery" by George Wier

Bill Travis first saw the beautiful woman while he was driving in heavy traffic on the loop near downtown Austin. The beautiful reddish blonde in the red roadster didn’t seem to mind that Bill Travis was staring at her. For a few minutes they played a cat and mouse game passing each other in the heavy morning traffic. After a smile his way and a couple of quick moves on her part in the stop and go traffic, she was gone down the interstate and out of his life. That left the nearly 40 year old Bill Travis with only one option---head to work as if nothing had happened at all.

That is until a short time later, as his first client of the day, she walks into his office.


Julie Simmons may have flirted and then cut him off in traffic, but she has bigger issues then being a sexy and rude flirt. She has crossed Archie Carpin, a North Texan Liquor Baron and legendary figure with a violent family lineage dating back to the 20’s in Texas. This is one family that you leave very well alone if you have any brains at all. Julie was desperate and took two million dollars and ran. Of course, Archie Carpin very much wants his money back.

Bill Travis, a man that helps well off people with their money problems can’t help falling for her in every way possible.  Even if there is far more to her story and he knows it from the very start.  The beautiful woman wasn’t kidding when she said her name was trouble. He just didn’t care. He should have as she was not lying about that much at least.

On the run and trying to stay alive on a trail that takes them from Austin to North Texas and back again, Texas author George Wier crafts an intriguing tale full of twists and turns. Populated with complex main and secondary characters, plenty of clues, and plenty of action this recently released novel first in a planned series is a good one. Even seasoned mystery readers will be surprised by some of the twists the complex case takes while imparting some legendary Texas history.

The Last Call: A Bill Travis Mystery
Gorge Wier
Flagstone Books
Kindle E-Book
$0.00 (as of today)

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

Kevin R. Tipple © 2011

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Wednesday--A Sandi Update-Chemo Round Two

Sandi had her injection this morning to finish off the second round of chemo.  So far everything is okay and she is sleeping like she did last time.

So far so good.


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Tuesday Evening: A Sandi Update---Round Two Chemo Therapy

Today was another all day affair at the hospital so that Sandi could have the second round of chemo therapy. Her blood work took over two hours to process this morning due to an equipment failure in the lab so nothing could be done until they got that sorted out. Once they did, the numbers for today showed a drop in all areas that they are concerned about. A drop would be expected at this point, if not earlier, so they are happy about her numbers all things considered.

Once the blood stuff was out of the way they could start the saline drips, then the anti nausea stuff, and finally about two hours later the first of the chemo drugs. It was again very hard on her but did not seem to trigger the massive life threatening reactions she had with the first round. She spent about half the time sleeping. When she was awake, she worked on an afghan she is making while we occasionally visited with other patients.

Barring any overnight complications, she will be back in the morning for her injection and then she is back in isolation at home until late next week when she has another lab/doctor appointment.


A Sandi Update---Chemo Round Two

Today is a planned round two of chemo for Sandi. Assuming the car starts and we can get there, they will first pull her blood and run that to see what her numbers are today. While the blood techs run that, a saline drip will be started so that she is ready if it is going to happen.

About an hour after they pull her blood, we should know if they can start the anti nausea meds and the first part of the chemo. Then the wait will begin to see if she can tolerate the chemo better this time than the last. Supposedly most patients do better with the second and following chemo infusions if they had a bad time with the first. Sandi has a very bad time with the first round so we shall see.

Hopefully the fact that she felt really bad yesterday won't have any effect on things today. Even if it goes well it will be a very long day. I will update tonight.....


Monday, December 26, 2011

Review: "Murder New York Style: FRESH SLICES" edited by Terrie Farley Moran

The newest anthology from the New York/Tri-state Chapter of Sister’s in Crime is another good, though often very somber, entertaining read. Filled with 22 stories, the book edited by Terrie Farley Moran, frequently pays homage to the past while also lamenting a present not everyone wanted. Occasionally amusing, most often the tales are about rectifying a past mistake or transgression in the here and now one way or another. Those that read noir know that usually the past can’t be fixed and the attempt will just make things worse.

After a brief forward by Clare Toohey, anthology chair, the book opens with “Tear Down” by Anita Page. Delilah learns through the receptionist at her physical therapy place that her old house is going to be torn down. Her nephew, Clyde, was supposed to do his attorney magic and fix it so that her house would never be torn down. At 84, Delilah has more on the ball than most and this is a problem she needs to figure out a way to quickly solve.

Sarah Armstrong is looking forward to hanging out for a few days in the apartment in Greenwich Village. Her son, Will, normally uses it while attending New York University, the freshman is off to Florida for Spring Break. For a blessed week she can relax and enjoy her time in “The Doorman Building” by Anne-Marie Sutton. That is until a young woman, Tessa, shows up claiming to be a friend of Will’s and she needs help.

Editor Terrie Farley Moran follows next with her story, “The Sneaker Tree.” For Miranda and Catherine, the sneaker tree is a living symbol of their lives. It will also serve to help catch a killer.

The beautiful Margot is very good at picking the next mark in “Taking The High Line” by Fran Bannigan Cox. Margot provides thrills to the marks and her partner in this crime story that packs quite the twist.

Tanya Kremin used to be a very respected Moscow lawyer. These days she is an American call girl not nearly so respected in “The Brighton Beach Mermaid” by Lina Zeldovich. A woman has to do what she has to do to survive and Tanya has considerable skills. She will need them all to survive considering the players involved in this one.

“Justice For Call” by Catherine Maiorisi follows with a strong tale that is police procedural in nature. By the luck of the draw, Detective Jones has a lousy partner and an interesting murder case. Once she gets the victim identified and does whatever scut work her partner wastes her time with, she might just solve the murder case. This is Catherine Maiorisi’s first published story and it is a good one. Hopefully, we will see more from this obviously talented author.

Clare Toohey a slightly surreal tale titled “A Morbid Case of Identity Theft.”  The Morbid Anatomy Library has working a/c and electricity and plenty of interesting objects and research.  All the narrator has to do id babysit the place for a week while Joanna takes a well-deserved first vacation since founding the place. Things should be quiet. They are until something goes wrong down the street during a parade, Justice vanishes, and the narrator has a visitor that needs help.

For years we have heard and read various slogans about guns don’t kill people---people do.  Author Laura K. Curtis took that to heart in her story, “Only People Kill People.” Told from the prospective of a handgun used to commit murder, the interesting tale charts the course of the gun’s perspective on its existence before, during, and after a murder.

A man has been the victim of a brutal beating in a Brooklyn Park.  Unfortunately, not something rare and yet another crime that make no sense. Another crime forgotten after the initial news until the narrator realizes she sort of knows the victim in “The Greenmarket Violinist” by Triss Stein.

Colleen Morgan and Jenna Strickland become homeless running buddies in “The Understudy” by Lois Karlin. They looked so much alike it was hard for folks to tell them apart. Naturally that led to scams, repercussions, and complications of various types over the years in the author’s first published short story.

“Murder On The Side Street” by Stephanie Wilson–Flaherty comes next in a tale of a neighborhood senior citizen and her curiosity. She pays attention to what goes on, has her sources, and is nobody’s fool in a complicated tale of friendship and murder.

As Johnny notes in “Out of Luck” by Cathi Stoler, “In the end, it’s desperation that screws you every time.” (Page 157)  Johnny is desperate and forces are closing in on Johnny who is about to take his chances one more time.

The sudden arrival of his niece’s child is going to turn the narrator’s whole life upside down in “Tell Me About Your Day” by Lynne Lederman. The child will also provide a clue to her uncle about her mother’s killer.

When you get home you really don’t want to see what appears to be blood on the ceiling of your apartment.  That is exactly what Henry Stern finds in “He’s the One” by Cynthia Benjamin.  Henry’s a writer and writes travel articles from the comfort of his apartment. He should have read some mysteries as he might have seen this coming.  

Alice Landers is a homicide detective in the NYPD in “A Vampire In Brooklyn” by Leigh Neely. She is also a vampire. While she works other cases she is always on the hunt for “Jack the Ripper” as he is responsible for making her a vampire those many years ago. She will need her skills from sides of her complex life in this interesting tale set in the not too distant future where blood drinks are sold just as easily as coffee on every street corner.

Leo is literally a walking dead man in “Remember You Will Die” by Susan Chalfin. Leo is dying thanks to terminal liver cancer and will be dead within a couple of months. When one is dying it makes it ever so much easier to settle old scores as they can’t kill you twice.

Cigarettes are expensive.  Especially if you are the granddaughter as Jax is and making up how much they cost in “The Cost of Cigarettes” by Nan Higginson. Making her grandmother choose between cigarettes and mac-and-cheese as there supposedly isn’t enough money for both is just one of the many issues in this somber story.

Like in an earlier story in this anthology, a doorman is key in “A Countdown To Death” by Deirdre Verne.  So too is a package, a dead neighbor, and a family mystery.

The pictures of her life is all the old lady has left in “A Poet’s Justice” by Eileen Dunbaugh.  Fortunately her caregiver, Senida, is much more attentive and caring than the family that claims to love Maddie.

“That Summer” by Joan Tuohy follows in a tale of a deep dark family secret. A secret that has never been told before by now. However, with the latest death in the family, maybe it is time to shed some light on the past.

Elizabeth Zelvin weaves yet another adventure for her signature character, recovering alcoholic Bruce Kohler, and his friends in “Death Will Tank Your Fish.” Bruce is supposed to keep an eye on Neil’s fish tank full of guppies while Neil is gone. A simple job and it should not be a problem. But, if you have read the novels Death Will Get You Sober  and Death Will Help You Leave Him you know that doing a favor for a friend always leads to disaster for Bruce. That is in play here as is the fact that Bruce often thinks “Some days, I can’t believe the company I keep to stay sober.” (Page 258)

“North on Clinton” by K. J. A. Wishnia brings the anthology to a close with a story about working for the rich. Side benefits are possible and implied in this tale where everything is not perfect for the rich homeowner.

Like the original Murder New York Style this second anthology features good stories that often pay homage to the past. The tone in this anthology is somber, occasionally amused, and almost always making a point about rectifying the past one way or another. 256 pages long, the book showcases a wide variety of styles and subject matters and plenty of good reads.

Murder New York Style: FRESH SLICES
 Editor: Terrie Farley Moran
New York/Tri-State Chapter of Sisters in Crime
L & L Dreamspell Publisher

ISBN# 978-1-60318-423-6
Paperback (also available on the Kindle)
256 pages

Material supplied by included author Catherine Maiorisi for my objective review.

Kevin R. Tipple © 2011

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Review: "The Perfect Defective: a novella" by Clark Casey

P. I. Jake Hannigan has a “…square jaw and skepticism that can’t be bought on Sundays in Blue Law States.”  (Page 5) That means he has a fondness for alcohol and will indulge that fondness whenever the mood strikes including his own office. That is where Professor Durgen found him on a certain Monday morning.

Professor Durgen teaches writing at a community college when he isn’t working on his novel.  Unfortunately, his novel has been stalled for over two months. He has a huge problem. He’s lost his talent, his creative juice. He’s tried drinking heavily and all that has done is made him write bad poetry. He needs his talent back as soon as possible and wants P. I. Jack Hannigan to find it for him. For twenty bucks a day and all the Johnnie Walker Blue Label he can drink, Hannigan will take the case.

Of course when you are paid by all the booze you can drink, you don’t want to solve the case too fast.  It helps if you get another case you can also stall a bit. The case here that fits the bill is his next client. A sexy cheerleader wants a dead man killed.

The result is a fast and often laugh out loud satirical novella that has the potential to offend just about anyone. Often crude in terms of language between characters, descriptions of characters (attributes of cheerleaders being a major discussion point), and scene setting, the result is an often bluntly coarse read. It is also often funny, especially when Hannigan contacts the agent and discovers that there is a lot of truth to what disgruntled writers have claimed for years.

A twisted and perverted read that will appeal to those with a wide dark streak of humor in them, this fun book is not for everyone. It will especially appeal to writers in general and mystery fans in particular as it takes shots at all the expected conventions of the genre. It most definitely is a change of pace from the serious noir mysteries that seem to be increasingly common these days. Twisted funny and flat out warped, this 56 page read is just fun as it punches out all the detective novel stereotypes one by one while managing to slap the reader upside the head with twist after twist after twist.

The Perfect Defective: a novella
Clark Casey
Some Dead Trees Press (a less idealistic division of No Dead Trees Press)
ISBN# 978-1466284128
Paperback (also e-book via Kindle)
56 Pages

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

Kevin R. Tipple © 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011

FFB Review: "FLANK HAWK: A First Civilization Legacy Novel" by Terry Ervin II

It is Friday and that means it is time for Friday’s Forgotten Books hosted by Patti Abbott. Patti is taking this Friday and the next two off which means Todd Mason is filling in for her. Somebody else you should be reading on a regular basis by the way.

If you are like me (and heaven help you if you are and I am sorry for you and your family) you are sick and tired of the oh so cute and sappy mystery and crime stories with their weak ties to the season. I’m very tired of the posts to various lists about this story or that which is supposed to be cute, clever and just perfect as you nestle around the fire with your hot chocolate and family. Great! A Norman Rockwell holiday scene with just a little crime/ murder thrown in. But, not too much crime/murder as it is the holiday season, don’t you know?

Before you label me a Grinch, I’m not.  I have never understood the allure of the holiday murder story. This year, I understand it even less and find the whole holiday commercialization very annoying regardless of product being pushed. Granted, none of us here are in the holiday mood with what we are dealing with on a daily basis. Sandi has always been the driving force behind celebrating every holiday and this year that is not happening. No tree is up, no lights are up, no hanging stockings or any of it, as this year with everything going on it just didn’t seem worth it. The focus is on what are we going to do if we don’t make the rent, praying the car holds together long enough to get Sandi back and forth from Chemo, and things like that. Escapism-- however brief it lasts-- through a book or TV/movie is the thing right now.

Therefore, if you are also looking for something completely different, I suggest the very good FLANK HAWK: A First Civilization Legacy Novel written by Terry Ervin II. It even now has a sequel, BLOOD SWORD.  I don’t know yet how the second book is but I promise you the first book is very good.  I am not one to do top ten lists of books read--everyone and their dog, cat and hamster seem to do them--but, if I were this book would be right up there near the top. It truly is that good.

Zombies are never a good thing.  Souled zombies, ones that can independently think and act, are even worse. Then there are the goblins, ogres, seers, wizards, and more in this time nearly 3000 years in the future where magic is prevalent, dragons fly, and the evil necromancer king seeks to rule the world.  The good people and creatures are far outnumbered by those bent on war and conquest. Those that can harness the most magic can turn the tide of battle –at least for now.

For Krish and his cousin Guzzy, the recent battles outside of their small village have been more then the annual minor attacks designed to disrupt the yearly harvest. The young men fight to defend their village, Pine Ridge, and to protect all they hold dear. With swords and spears protected by magic and salt, they fight on as the enemy in many different forms continues to press the attack and people they know die around them. Back up is on the way as kingdoms make alliances in order to slow the advance of those loyal to the evil necromancer king. One such alliance allows Prince Reveron of Kreese to eventually take over and lead the small group Krish is part of into battle. Krish becomes noticed not only by the Prince but by others and gradually works his way deeper and deeper into the circle of those that Prince Reveron trusts. While Krish may not have had formal military training, he acquires battle skills at a rapid rate and has certain other skills that he continues to try to keep hidden from those around him.

Nearly any fantasy story has to have an epic quest. The one Krish is sent on is huge and could mean the fate of the world as well as what is left of humanity, forever changed in our times, could massively change again. That is assuming he can survive and complete a quest that is nearly impossible from the start. The good thing is he will get some help. The bad thing is that the little help he gets most likely will not nearly be enough.

Blending a fantasy line set nearly 3000 years in the future heavily reliant on magic with a modern day cold and dispassionate tale of technology mercilessly doing exactly what it was designed to do resulting in horrific results, is not easy. Author Terry Ervin makes it look easy as he captivates readers for 288 pages in this very complex book.

Filled with interesting characters, this fully formed world is strangely different and yet at times very relevant to our modern day world of today. Krish is a man who develops throughout the book while never losing his awe at what forces are arrayed against him. Nor does he lose his own sense of purpose and place despite realistic periods of self-doubt and contemplation. The same core values that come across in the first few pages are still there at the end in a smarter more seasoned character.

In a world where nightmares and worse of a child are very much real and life does not last long, Krish battles and delights readers. It is a world that could happen. May even happen as technology spreads and is always vulnerable to use by those bent on power and greed.

The book is highly recommended as FLANK HAWK: A First Civilization Legacy Novel is a mighty good read.

FLANK HAWK: A First Civilization’s Legacy Novel
Terry W. Ervin II
Gryphonwood Press
July 2009
ISBN# 978-0-9825087-0-1
Paperback (also available on the Kindle)
290 Pages

Material provided by the author in exchange for my objective review.

Kevin R.  Tipple © 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Short Story Review: "What is your Emergency?" by Chris Rhatigan

Lynn is sick of students, sick of grading papers written by students who can’t write a coherent sentence, and in general the educational establishment as a whole and their next big thing. She has five more papers to go and she can finally go home.

That is until the sound of what must have been gunfire rattles the old building.

This fast moving tale at Grift Magazine is a good one that is also rather disturbing. The tale walks a fine line between reality and the surreal. That leaves the piece open to reader interpretation. The result is a twisted good read.

Kevin R. Tipple (c) 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Short Story Review---“Artie And The Long-Legged Woman” by Jan Christensen

If reading crime fiction has taught us anything it should be that a beautiful woman with sexy legs often means trouble. Years ago when Artie and Henry were teens and friends, Artie first noticed that Henry’s mom had great legs.  They were distinctive and he would recognize those great legs anywhere. Nearly twenty years
later they still are incredible as is the rest of Mrs. Henderson. The same Mrs. Henderson who just stepped out of a white limo to talk to him in an alley. It has been a long time since he saw her and these days Mr. and Mrs. Henderson own a jewelry store. The same jewelry store Artie just successfully robbed.

Artie is good at his job and usually gets away with no one able to prove he did it. But, this time, Mrs. Henderson has security camera footage of what he just did. Not to mention the fact that she just caught him literally holding the bag with the loot. He can keep the loot he lifted as a down payment and she won’t use the security footage as long as Artie does the job she wants done.

This is a well written and highly entertaining tale by Texas author Jen Christensen much like her novel Sarah’s Search.  A lot of character depth is packed into this fast moving and complicated tale.  Like her tale “Going Where the Wind Blows” in the anthology On Dangerous Ground: Stories of Western Noir there is more than one twist in “Artie And the Long-Legged Woman” now available from Untreed Reads.

Good stuff. Period.

Artie And The Long-Legged Woman
Jan Christensen
Untreed Reads Publishing
Short Story

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

Kevin R. Tipple © 2011

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Sandi Update

Last Friday we went to see Sandi’s cancer doctor for her checkup visit after round one of the chemo and to have blood work done so they could see where she was on that. The blood work came back really good as all the things they look at remained where they were before this started. Quite honestly, I don’t understand what all the numbers mean beyond the bottom line that her kidneys are functioning like they should be and her immune system has not cratered yet.  

She put on a happy face for the doctor and didn’t really tell him in detail how bad off she had been all week. I certainly did tell him because somebody had to do it.  Nothing she is going through with the pain, the flu like symptoms, chills, fatigue and exhaustion, etc. surprised him as this is just what it is going to be like for the next several months. Pretty sobering when they say that all that is only going to get worse as the chemo continues. I am supposed to imagine things for a living as a writer and the idea she will be worse than I already have seen is pretty damn scary. He was surprised that she not only still had her hair but that she had been able to make much of anything with her craft stuff as that usually does not happen. Especially considering how sick she was in the hospital.

LATE TUESDAY UPDATE-----Huge clumps of hair started coming out of her head late last night. She knew it was going to happen but it still hit her pretty hard.

After having yet another x-ray of her chest because he can still hear no breath sounds in the right lung, we scheduled her next round of chemo for next week. Unfortunately, he will be gone and one of the other doctors in the practice will monitor her next week. I’m sure the doctor working is fine, but we have a real connection building with her doctor and I hate to see him gone for the week.

So, with that in front of us and things like the rent as we are a very long way away from having that as you can see from the donation widget, the worsening car issues, and all the rest, Sandi has been working on her iOffer site while she still can still sit up to do what she could when she could the last couple of days.  Sandi added some new items and also drastically lowered prices on everything in a desperate attempt to generate some cash flow.  The link to her store is and she has holiday as well as everyday items like quilts, baby blankets, stuffed animals, etc. She is still taking special orders but with the understanding they may take longer to fill than normal.

Sandi asked me to pass along again her thanks for all the prayers and notes of support. She, as am I, are very grateful. 


Monday, December 19, 2011

Senior News Newspaper--December

For some time now I have been writing a monthly book review column for the Senior News newspaper. The Senior News is aimed to the over 50 crowd with news relevant to seniors regarding various issues, humor pieces, and my review column among other things. The newspaper is a giveaway at doctor offices, stores, etc. and can be received by via a paid subscription.

My column every month focuses on books of interest to the Texas audience. Therefore books selected for the column, fiction or non-fiction, are written by Texas residents, feature Texans in some way, or would have some other connection to the Texas based readership. At least two books are covered each month in the short space I am given.

Below is/was my December column with the addition here of the relevant book covers……

Pattern Of Wounds: A Roland March Mystery
J. Mark Bertrand
Bethany House
ISBN# 978-0-7642-0638-2
Trade Paperback
368 Pages 

Friday, December 4th it snowed in Houston. That was yesterday and this is now on a Saturday night. While the rain falls on the city of Houston, a body lays half in and half out of the heated swimming pool behind a posh home. The young woman is dead and the wounds across her back tell part of the story. Too perfect, too neat, the stab wounds aren’t what killed 24 old Simon Walker. Something else is at work in the crime too, a possible link to a ten year old murder case, though others involved don’t see it that way at all.

What Detective Roland March does know for sure is that he is on the hunt for a killer in the sequel to “Back on Murder.” This novel builds on that book while showing an author whose writing style has improved significantly. Filled with complex characters, a twisting case, and plenty of nuance and action, “Pattern Of Wounds” by former Houstonian J. Mark Bertrand is a good book in the series and well worth your time.

The Wild Hog Murders: A Dan Rhodes Mystery
Bill Crider
A Thomas Dunne Book (Minotaur Books)
ISBN# 978-0-312-64149-8
264 Pages

Feral hogs have been running wild in Texas for years. The feral hog issue is the backdrop in the latest Sheriff Dan Rhodes mystery, “The Wild Hog Murders.” There are some in the county that want the hogs hunted down until the very last one is dead. There are others who save everything. Somebody is dumping hog body parts at the recue wildlife center making the owners, the Chandlers, pretty upset.

That investigation has to take a backseat to an ongoing murder investigation where the feral hogs are innocent unless the hogs have figured out how to shoot guns. If that wasn’t bad enough, Sheriff Rhodes also has to deal with the return of the notorious Rapper and Nellie and their signature motorcycles. Rhodes really does not like hogs, living or machine, and for very good reason.

The 18th in this series written by legendary Texas Author Bill Crider is another comfortable cozy style read set in the woods of East Texas. Everyone is back in this well established series. The focus, as always, is on the current case, personal relationships, and daily life in this small Texas county.

Kevin R. Tipple © 2011