Friday, August 31, 2012

But, Captain.....

FFB Review: "Sorrow’s Anthem" by Michael Kortya

Long ago, before he went supernatural with his recent books, author Michael Kortya had an excellent series featuring private investigators Lincoln Perry and Joe Pritchard. If you have not read these books, you should.
You should also check out the rest of the suggestions for Friday's Forgotten Books over at Patti Abbot’s blog.

Building upon the series that began in Tonight, I Said Goodbye author Michael Koryta brings back private investigators Lincoln Perry and his partner, Joe Pritchard in another excellent read. This time around, Lincoln Perry is driven to help an estranged friend and it could cost him in ways he never saw coming.

Years ago when Lincoln was on the Cleveland Police Force he was put into a very difficult position. He could ignore his old friend’s criminal activities or he could work him like any other suspect. Lincoln chose not to prevent his childhood friend Ed Gradduk from going to jail. That decision severed a friendship, marked Lincoln as an outcast in his old neighborhood, and changed both lives forever.  With Ed in the news and on the run from charges of arson, murder, and others, Lincoln sees an opportunity to try once more to save his friend from himself as well as assuage his own guilt.

Minutes after finding him, Lincoln is powerless to save him as Ed dies in a confrontation with police.  But, just because he died does not mean the case is over.  It just means Lincoln feels even more guilt and now he has to deal with a grieving mother, former friends that hold him responsible and a trail that has few answers now that the man that could give them is dead.

As the bodies began to stack up and houses burn in the old neighborhood, Lincoln is forced to relieve a childhood that he thought he understood completely.  Decisions made decades ago have come back to haunt those alive today and it becomes a real question as to whom will survive the repercussions.

As he did in the first novel, the author weaves another complicated and compelling read.  The pace moves along steadily without a wasted word or thought as Lincoln works the case.  Back story sections are brief, to the point, and provide not only information, but rich character detail.  Such transitions are done well and do not serve as information dumps as routinely happens with lesser authors.

While this is second in the series, it certainly could be read independently as a stand alone.  There are brief references to the earlier novel but the information shared would not harm the enjoyment of that read.  This is another excellent novel from the author and does not fall prey to any of the normal second novel weaknesses.

Sorrow’s Anthem
Michael Koryta
Minotaur Books
320 Pages

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

Kevin R. Tipple © 2005, 2012

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The ALJ Ruling---I’m Disabled

Back in late June I had my hearing before the Administrative Law Judge regarding my Social Security case. I answered a lot of questions as to the pain I am in daily, how my life has changed since March 25, 2010 when I was put on medical leave by the district, what I can and can’t do, and a host of other stuff. I explained in detail what I actually did for the school district when I was employed as the vocational rehab specialist that was there described me doing far different work than I actually did.

It was a very exhausting and extremely painful experience.  Not just in terms of the physical effort to attend the hearing, but in terms of the emotional. Very tough to hear your life and work history summed up by others in cold terms.  

The bottom line is that the ALJ judge found in my favor and issued a ruling of “fully favorable.” This means he did find me to be disabled.  Something that anyone around me knew to be true after a couple of minutes.

I am to get a small amount of back disability pay as well as a small monthly disability check. At this point I have no real idea when those payments will arrive. What I am told in one letter is not what I am told in another. The good news is at least something is coming at some point. I also now know that working for the school district also means that my payment will be far lower than it otherwise would be because the PISD didn’t pay into Social Security.

Sure, I knew that at the time when I went to work for them.

But, I only thought of that in terms of retirement. Retirement was way off in the future and a mythical thing I rarely thought about---if at all.  I never once thought of the impact of that decision should I become disabled.  While I now know full well the economic cost of that decision, I will never know if being thrown over a desk by a very angry special education student more than once at my last assignment, being slammed into the walls, or any of the other physical situations I found myself in the last assignment as well as over the years in the PISD caused or contributed to where I am at now.

All I do know is that finally I should be receiving a little monthly money to help us here. That will mean an end to the donation widget at left that has been a major savior to us and at the same time a huge humiliation. While I am very grateful for all the help we have received, I am also very embarrassed to be in a situation where I had to ask for help just to keep a roof over our heads and other basic necessities. As long as Sandi is still able to work and I receive my small monthly check, unless another disaster strikes, we won’t have to ask for help. Feel free to knock on wood--I AM!

The ruling also means that come Saturday I will be under Medicare. This will mean that I can start seeing my doctors again. First up is my cardiologist so that I can find out how bad my heart enlargement is these days.  Then it will be on to the back/leg deal to see if I can get any relief at all.

This also means I can go to a doctor to do the paperwork so that when I do drive somewhere I can park in a handicapped accessible spot once I have the plates/placard. Something that will help me tremendously due to my increasing lack of mobility and other issues.  Walking anywhere with my cane or walker is painful and exhausting.  An ability to park closer to the doors will be a huge relief.

With Sandi still in cancer remission based on the latest PET scan and this deal with me, hopefully we are turning a corner and things are going to start getting a little better.  Time will tell.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Market News---Criminal Element's New Anthology

Sounds like a very interesting project. All the details are at:

For The Record

The last few days have brought reports that John Locke as well as other self published authors bought reviews---often positive only reviews. Some authors and readers have expressed shock that this was going on.

I am rather surprised that so many had no idea this sort of thing was going on. I started back in 98 reviewing and it was happening then. Though back then, probably not at the organized level that it has been done in recent years.

I really should not have to say this, but I will. For the record---my reviews are not paid for in any way, shape or form. Where the material comes from is always noted on the review. And yes, I do read the entire book from start to finish. My reviews are generated from reading the books involved and not by skimming the book for fifteen minutes or surfing sites.

The same is true for those guest reviewers I allow to have reviews on the blog. Real reviews matter and if you read mine, or one from a guest reviewer, you can rest assured that they are very much real.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Update on THE WRITER Magazine

From today's Publisher's Lunch....

" The Writer, which was due to go on hiatus with the October 2012 issue after more than 125 years of continuous publication, has been acquired by Madavor Media, a privately held niche and enthusiast media company, from Kalmbach Publishing (which also sold off Birdwatching Magazine in the same deal.)"

Hopefully, this will mean the hiatus will be cancelled.


2012 Claymore Award Winners

“AGAIN” by Jonathan Stone

“A TWIST OF HATE” by V.R Barkowski came in second.

“LAW OF THE SPLINTERED PADDLE” by Mark Troy and “WICKED SCHEMES” by Carol Baier tied for third place.

Chester Campbell won SEMWA's Magnolia Award for service to the Southeastern Chapter of MWA.

For more information on the Claymore Award given out during the Killer Nashville Conference including how to enter the 2013 contest go to

Monday, August 27, 2012

Senior News--August 2012 Column

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 50 and over 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. There are multiple editions across the state of Texas and therefore there is some fluctuation in content in each edition.

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 August 2012 column with the addition here of the relevant book covers……

Longnecks & Twisted Hearts: A Bill Travis Mystery
George Wier
Flagstone Books
Kindle E-book

Austin, Texas resident Bill Travis has a lot on his mind as this novel the third in the series opens. Then he gets word that his best friend since second grade, Brad, is dead. According to his wife, Mary Jo, he was murdered and she knows exactly who did it. Obviously, Bill is going to head back home to Bryan to see Mary Jo and help any way he can. It is clear before the makes it back home to Bryan that his presence is not wanted in his old hometown.  As if not wanted and threatened would stop him in this tale of murder, greed, and a quest for treasure dating back to the 1600’s.

Longnecks & Twisted Hearts: A Bill Travis Mystery is another good one in the series. Bill Travis is a solid good guy who does not back down and as a result consistently gets himself in the middle of things. We learn little new about the character here as he was already fleshed out well in the proceeding books starting with The Last Call. An adventure/thriller type novel with some mystery, the read is a good one featuring crime, history and greed in deep South Texas.

Helen Thompson
Photographs by Robert M. Peacock
Rizzoli International Publications, Inc.
ISBN# 978-0-8478-3653-6
256 Pages

In Dallas, if not the state, the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek sets the standard of taste and class. So much so that when authors such as Richardson’s Dee Stuart use the location in her books it needs no explanation. A must see and be seen place for any dignitary or celebrity the restaurant is a classic that continues to evolve while carrying forward tradition and Texas charm.

The cookbook features the recipes that made the restaurant famous. The recipes are complex and varied and feature no nutritional information at all. Beyond its use as a cookbook, this tome published by Rizzoli International Publications and printed in China depicts a historic style and elegance for 256 pages that many will envy.

Kevin R. Tipple © 2012

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sample Sunday--Obsession

Sunday means another sample from the upcoming book….


She crumpled the paper. The bill went into the back pocket of her torn black jeans as she stared angrily at the house. Mr. Wonderful was occasionally visible through the curtains that twitched in the breeze through the open window. Mark was doing his number in there for the millionth time and the bills still didn’t get paid. Now the power company had decided it was time for them to get paid or the lights and everything would go off. 

Midnight to eight at the plant six nights a week, waitressing the seventh and all this too. Lately, all Janet felt was anger toward everyone and everything in sight. Her head pounded. She was so sick of living this way. Her eyes tracked back across the dusty, dead lawn, back toward the paint-peeled house. A piece of broken gutter lay in the half-dead bushes where it had fallen about a month ago.  Loose shingles flapped, threatening to escape as their brethren had.  There was a plan to fix them, but that hadn’t happened either. The city had even been out yesterday, citing them for one thing, then another. Can’t offend the neighbors in the fancy-pantsy suburbs.

Through the open window, the noise of the clacking computer keys drifted across the yard to her. Why he had to have the computer make a noise like an old style typewriter she didn’t know. He had been wonderful in the beginning. What had been so cute way back when was now annoying. There he sat, in all his beer-belly glory, poking along at yet another story. With only one sale in twenty years of trying, and that one was years ago, you would have thought he’d have figured out the situation. Instead, she was left to be sole provider and parent as he sent his dreams out on paper. The years passed, the stories and projects came back quicker than they went out, but he kept trying. If he had spent half that energy and time getting a job that actually paid money, they could have been rich.

Instead, they were waiting for Lottery Liberation Day…..