Friday, May 31, 2013

Birthday--Plus 19

Sandi continues to do the same as her fourth evening in the extended stay facility winds down. She had another doctor appointment today with her cancer doctors who remain pleased with her progress. Her various blood counts continue to trend upward which is a good sign.

A not so good sign is the fact that her cumidin numbers remain very low. It had been my understanding they had given her a shot of this the other day and it was a one time occurrence. I was wrong. In addition to some sort of injection she has been giving herself twice a day of blood thinner, apparently she has been taking cumidin several times a day as well. Because her numbers are so low they have upped the dosage as well as the frequency of the dosage. Until she gets to somewhere between 2 and 3 as they measure it, they will not ultrasound her neck again and check the status of the blood clot.

I really wish they would as Sandi tells me her neck remains swollen, painful and stiff in the area. Her voice becomes very raspy if we talk for any length of time at all. That is caused by the blood clot pressing through the artery and up against her vocal cords. Then there is the fact that her energy level seems to be markedly down the last couple of days and she is very cranky. Of course, she is now expected to do far more for herself than she was while in the hospital and that no doubt is taking a toll on her. It may also be the constant toll of being poked and prodded as well as trying to placate a husband who isn't there and is now very worried because of the blood clot.

I do not know what is going on with her. All I know is that she sounds very weak and sick again and nothing like she has in recent weeks that gave me so much hope that maybe she was going to beat this damn thing. I am hoping that nothing bad is happening to her and the damn blood clot dissolves quickly.

All this just has to work.....

Pretty Much

and it figures that they plan in the next few days to tear up the porch again.....


FFB Review: "Daiquiri Dock Murder: A Key West Mystery" by Dorothy Francis

Friday means Friday’s Forgotten Books hosted by Patti Abbott. Normally I would not select a book that was so recently published in print for FFB. But, when Dorothy Francis announced Wednesday that her book, Daiquiri Dock Murder: A Key West Mystery was now available as an e-book from Untreed Reads, (go here for Untreed Reads price, synopsis, and excerpt) I decided to make it the subject of my FFB review today.….

If it is spring it must be time to go back to Key West via author Dorothy Francis. This year she takes readers there via her latest cozy style mystery titled Daiquiri Dock Murder: A Key West Mystery. Featuring a cast of offbeat characters, plenty of local culture and a mystery that has more than a few twists the read is a comfortably good one. It also fits well into line with the style and tone of other books generated by this author.

Rafa Blue, who has issues with her mother and sister, is at the Daiquiri Dock Marina as this novel opens. It is a dark and stormy night thanks to a tropical storm that has strengthened to a minimal hurricane and is currently pounding through the Keys. Rafa Blue needs to check the family boat, a cabin cruiser named “The Bail Bond” and make sure it is safely secured in its slip. While the boat is fine, somebody is in the stormy sea next to the boat and in trouble.

Rafa flees back to her car and uses her cellphone to call for help. After calling 911 for help for her friend and dock master Diego Casterano, Rafa Blue returns to the scene and eventually goes into the storm tossed waters for him. Unfortunately, there is no help possible for Diego and the effort puts Rafa into the hospital for a brief time.

Rafa is interesting and has her fingers in many pies. She dreams of writing novel length fiction, currently writes a column for the local newspaper about interesting local people, lives in a hotel and helps out at the Frangipani Room. Not to mention a painful personal history with her family, a boyfriend that wants marriage, and a few other odds and ends. Getting considered a suspect in the murder of her friend Diego means that she has to investigate---something the local police chief surprisingly seems to encourage.

The latest mystery from author Dorothy Francis is another solidly good one featuring strong primary and secondary characters. Several secondary characters in this novel closely resemble characters from other books. Once again, several of the suspects are Rafa’s friends and they all work at an open air restaurant deal that opens around sundown, food is served, and music is played. That background setting is clearly one the author feels comfortable with as it is used again in this novel. There is another “Mama G.” who once again is territorial about music and makes a special kind of food for the patrons. Once again the heroine is conflicted about the intentions of her boyfriend and her feelings, drives a Prius, and has extensively read about psychopaths and sociopaths. 

The primary mystery is different and strong in all cozy style aspects. An interesting and complicated case, the classic assemblage of characters to be questioned by the police, and other aspects are all done well.  The constant misdirection as various people in Rafa’s life are considered in the role of the suspected murderer before they either eliminate themselves or are killed removing them from the suspect list also works well. The end result in Daiquiri Dock Murder: A Key West Mystery is another steady and good novel by Dorothy Francis.

Daiquiri Dock Murder: A Key West Mystery
Dorothy Francis
Five Star (Part of Gale, Cengage Learning)
April 2012
ISBN# 978-1-4328-2574-4
292 Pages

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

Kevin R. Tipple ©2012, 2013

Thursday, May 30, 2013

I was amused

feel free to groan if you must....

Go Buy A Book---- Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: Robert J. Randisi Westerns on Sale at Amazon

Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: Robert J. Randisi Westerns on Sale at Amazon: Bob Randisi's publisher is having a big sale on Bob's westerns.  If you're looking for some good reading, you might want to chec...

Sandi on Facebook

While amazingly quick to needlessly block my wife, Sandi Tipple, from Facebook today they now will take up to 24 hours to restore her access. Considering what she has been through recently all you can do is laugh at the Facebook stupidity. Health wise she is still doing okay and will see the cancer docs tomorrow for more blood work. I am hoping they will also check the blood clot and see how it is doing, but, I don't know that they will actually do that.

Poetry Market Call: Crab Orchard Review

Got this yesterday and was glad to see that for once in a call, Dallas was included. That does not happen very often so I am passing the call on....
Crab Orchard Review — Submittable Only Reading

13 Cities — 80 Hours

CRAB ORCHARD REVIEW is looking for poems specifically focusing on Omaha, Kansas City, Oklahoma City, Denver, Salt Lake City, Boise, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Dallas, San Antonio, and El Paso for our "Prairies, Plains, Mountains, Deserts" issue. Only poetry will be considered for these submissions.

There is no submission fee. Please send only one poem per submission via Submittable and each poet is limited to three submissions. The submissions will open today, May 29, 2013, at 4:00 PM (CDT) and will close at 11:59 PM (CDT) on Saturday, June 1, 2013. All of the work submitted will be read and rejected or accepted within 80 hours of the close of submissions. Please submit your file in .doc, .docx, .rtf, .txt, .odt, or .wpf. Single space. 12-point font, Times New Roman or Times preferred. Remember, only poetry will be considered for these submissions.

Payment for accepted work is twenty-five dollars per published magazine page (fifty US dollars minimum for poetry). Accepted authors will also receive two copies of the "Prairies, Plains, Mountains, Deserts" issue and a year's subscription to CRAB ORCHARD REVIEW. Payment will be made upon publication.

Review: "Pandemonium" by Warrren Fahy

It's been a few months since the events depicted in Fragment and the survivors who escaped from Henders Island as well as the human race in general are struggling to adjust. It hasn’t been easy for anyone. The “Hendros” are quarantined in Area 51 for their protection while the world argues as to their status. What it now means to be human is just one of the many issues facing mankind on the wake of the discovery of this separated evolutionary tangent. Henders Island no longer exists, but for Biologist Hell Binswanger the nightmares of what happened there have not gone away as she is troubled by post-traumatic stress disorder. 

Her new husband and fellow Biologist Geoffrey Binswanger is doing his best to help her adjust back to the real world and put the trauma behind her. Their plans for a honeymoon away from the constant Secret Service protection and the prying eyes of the media go astray when they meet a wealthy Russian by the name of Maxim Dragolovich. A legendary Russian Oligarch, he wants their help and will pay 2 million dollars-- each -- for their expertise for several weeks work. He wants them to take a look at some possibly previously undiscovered species somewhere in Kaziristan. When the money proves not to be enough of an enticement, he shows them a sample jar containing a living specimen unlike anything they have ever seen before.

Nell and Geoffrey agree and before long they are far from home and outside contact as they are deep underground in a vast subterranean city in the former Soviet Republic. They are certainly not alone as the promised creatures are there along with fellow scientists that were involved with Henders Island. So too are the creatures from Henders Island as some managed to escape and have been deliberately brought alive to this underground city first constructed during Stalin's time. As the aging city systems begin to collapse and outside forces move against them, the battle begins again to save the planet from a future where mankind is overrun and eliminated as the weakest link in the food chain.

While the first book was weakened by stereotypes and two laughable plot twists at the end such is not the case here. A fitting sequel that is stronger than the original, Fragment is a good book could be read as a stand-alone though it would be better to have read the first book. Certain relationships between various characters continue to evolve here as do some of the dynamics first seen in the previous book. Things are set into motion there that are ultimately resolved here in a book that gets wilder and wilder as it chews and kills its way to the end.

This is primarily a science fiction thriller and as such character development remains very limited. Most of the characters returning from the last book are not developed further- with a couple notable exceptions that can't be mentioned without ruining the read. The primary character development in this novel is with Maxim and his precocious daughter, Sasha, who becomes a major character by the end of this read. Building on Fragment author Warren Fahy takes readers deep underground into a biological hell in Pandemonium. The result is an intense thriller that works on every level and proves the accuracy of the blurb on the front of the book from the Wall Street Journal- “’Think Jurassic Park but scarier.’”


Warren Fahy
Tor (Tom Doherty Associates)
ISBN# 978-0-7653-3329-2
320 Pages

Material supplied by the good folks of the Plano, Texas Public Library System. If you are in the area and would like more information about Plano libraries go here.

My review of the previous novel, Fragment can be found here.

Kevin R. Tipple ©2013

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Birthday--Plus 17

This on and off stormy evening here in North Texas finds us dodging the worst of the weather--so far. Hopefully that will continue as things are hard enough in so many ways without weather damage compounding things. I'd whine about a few things, but I am pretty much sick of myself at this point and you folks don't need to hear it.

Sandi continues to do well and is spending her second night in the extended stay facility. Earlier today she had a doctor appointment where they pulled blood and checked her vitals. Unfortunately, they did not further evaluate the blood clot in the right side of her neck. They seem confident, according to Sandi, that it should dissolve in a matter of days and will not catastrophically break free and do damage. I hope they are right about that as I remain very worried.

They did run more blood work today and the numbers continue to trend upwards. This includes her white blood cell count which is rapidly approaching pre stem cell transplant levels. Normally, this does not happen like this at all. The folks involved remain exceptionally pleased at how well she is doing. Because she is doing so well they are giving her tomorrow off from medical stuff for teh first time since the week before she was admitted into the hospital there. Her next appointment is on Friday.

I've asked her not to party too hard tonight and tomorrow.....

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Sandi Update

It took far longer than planned today, but Sandi is moved from the hospital over to "The Atria" for the next phase of things. This is where she will be for the next two to three weeks while they monitor her and make sure things are staying on track.

Things are on track, but there has been a definite wobble of the train. Apparently yesterday afternoon she started having a little soreness in the right side of her neck. The area was also slightly puffy. While she didn't tell me because she knew I would worry, she brought it to the attention of the nurses. By this morning it was clear it was a little worse in both regards. Before they pulled the three line deal out of her, they did a quick ultrasound of her neck

Sandi has a small blood clot in the main artery that runs up the right side of the neck between the heart and the brain. After they explained this happens to about 90 percent of patients who go through what she has gone through the last several weeks, they then told her that her particular clot is very small as compared to what they normally see. They believe it will soon dissolve. They gave her some cumidin today and sent her over to the extended stay facility with a box of shots that she is to administer to herself twice a day into her stomach.

Blood clots are bad news and while I am rather freaked out about this, she is taking the attitude that it is no bog deal and will go away quickly. Hopefully, it will. Her first appointment back at the hospital is tomorrow and she has a schedule for the next week where on most days she will go over for a doctor visit and/or blood work as they monitor things.

Review: "Silken Prey: A Novel" by John Sandford

Politics is seen by many as a life and death situation. In the latest in the Lucas Davenport series from author John Sandford, Silken Prey: A Novel, it is literally true as a political operative by the name of Tubbs is dead. Tubbs occasionally was a fixer, sometimes a bagman, and sometimes he did dirty tricks projects. Now he is missing and presumed dead by Lucas Davenport.

Not that Lucas knows about Tubbs initially when gets the call from Governor Henderson. Nine days out from the election and the Republican candidate for Senator has had his campaign torpedoed by allegations of kiddy porn. Porter Smalls was winning until disgusting images on his computer at his campaign office were accidentally found by a young campaign staffer. Lucas doesn't care for politics and doesn't care that Porter Smalls is now in huge trouble. But, the Governor does and wants Lucas to investigate the situation.

Elmer Henderson, a Democrat, is the Minnesota Governor and in four years just might be a legitimate Vice Presidential candidate. He has good reasons to want to see conservative republican Porter Smalls go down in flames. But, the governor is absolutely sure Smalls isn’t into kiddie porn. He wants Lucas to investigate. Not only because it is the right thing to do and Smalls was quite possibly framed. If he was framed this is taking things way too far and everyone, no matter their party, is at risk. Once this sort of thing happens, you never come back from it, and media never fixes things after they destroy you.

 “’You’re saying the media is dangerous, immoral, and anti-democratic?
 “Well…yes,” Henderson said. “They don't recognize it in themselves, but they're basically criminals. In the classic sense of that word.’” (Page 16)

While readers know early on how the storylines connect together (as we usually do in the recent books of the series) it takes Lucas and others a bit longer to start to put the pieces together. A secondary storyline involving the actions of a computer hacker and his wife who still has the itch to steal competes for equal attention with the primary storylines by the end of this enjoyable 400 plus page novel.

While the novel does not chart new ground for Lucas and the other characters one does not expect anything new in that regard this deep in the series. Everyone is locked into who they are---both professionally and personally. No one is about to have a midlife crisis, dump everything for a fancy sports car, and hit the open road. These characters are firmly established and, as such, change is going to have to come from outside of them.

Politics has often been a major component of the Prey series and clearly is a huge element in Silken Prey which is the 23rd novel in the series going back to Rules of Prey. While again in this novel Lucas claims to not care about politics and has virtually zero interest in the subject, much of what he does in pursuit of suspects has definite political motives to it. He makes deals with everyone about what he will say and do in the investigation and expects others to wheel and deal with him. As in previous books, Lucas is once again working all the angles to ensure that the guilty parties are caught in this solidly good read. It is a dangerous minefield to pursue the guilty when they are rich and powerful. That time is coming when the politics will take Lucas down as Rose Marie warns:

  “’A lot of people in the Department of Public Safety and over at the BCA don't like this kind of thing, the political stuff. And you've been doing a lot of it. When I'm not here to protect you, when Elmer's not here...”
  “Ah, it’s all right, Rose Marie,” Lucas Said. “I’ve been fired before. Stop worrying about it.’” (Page 21)

Silken Prey: A Novel
John Sandford
G.P. Putnam’s Sons (Penguin Group)
May 2013
ISBN# 978-0-399-15931-2
Hardback (also available as e-book and audio book)
416 Pages

Material supplied by the good folks of the Plano, Texas Public Library System. If you are in the area and would like more information about Plano libraries go here.

Kevin R. Tipple ©2013

Monday, May 27, 2013

Birthday--Plus 15

Sandi continues to stun doctors and staff who say she is doing amazingly well. Every blood category they measure has shot way up and that includes her white blood count. Without question her modified stem cells have definitely grafted to her system and have started replicating things. Unless something goes absolutely horribly wrong overnight tonight they are going to cancel her third week in the hospital and move her to the extended stay facility sometime tomorrow afternoon. 

A couple of doctors not directly involved with her care have come by to pick up some more chemo hats for their patients. All the hats she had made are now gone though she still has the small lap blanket she made while in the hospital. I think she is going to take that as well as what little is left of her yarn over to the extended stay facility tomorrow. She will move over there unless her blood work tonight and/or tomorrow morning shows a sudden dip. Obviously,we hope not.

The current plan is for her to be in the extended stay facility at least two weeks and then move back to the hotel on her own where she would be for around two weeks while they did some outpatient monitoring everyday. They want to make sure she is strong enough to function on her own in that kid of setting before setting up they nurse who will fly home with her and turn her back over to me for care here. At least that was the plan a month ago when they said she would be in the hospital at least three weeks.

So, all we can do is wait, keep our fingers crossed for good things, and see what happens....

Memorial Day 2013

In honor......

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Interesting Reading Elsewhere--- Bookbrowsing Blog

I have mentioned PJ Nunn's blog before. Check it out as well as the interview with David W. Berner here.

Sandi is Fourteen Days In .....

Today marks fourteen days for Sandi since she was admitted and they did the Stem Cell Transplant. Overall, things have gone way better than anyone expected or thought possible considering how sick she was when she left here. Despite feeling pretty sick at times, she has made over 20 chemo hats.

The hats seem to be a major rage there because a number of doctors, including ones not treating her, as well as other staff members have made the pilgrimage to her room to see them. Some of the doctors have taken a few to their patients to help them which is really cool and the rest have gone to the donation box in the infusion room on another floor of the hospital.

During her stay, from time to time, she has done a little teaching showing others how to make them. Hopefully, some of those folks will keep doing them after she leaves as the hats very popular. Unfortunately, there is quite the demand for them. 

She also made a small lap quilt too with some of the yarn she had left.

I hesitated to say this as I didn’t want to jinx things, but since she went and announced it on Facebook yesterday I guess it is safe to blab here. Sandi was originally supposed to be in the hospital for three weeks and then go to the extended care facility for at least two weeks. The third week of the hospital stay has now been canceled because her blood work is trending up so rapidly and she seems to be doing so well. At this point they plan on moving her over to the extended care facility that is located on the hospital grounds sometime Tuesday afternoon.

She will still be rather restricted in the extended stay facility but will have a little more freedom outside of her room--with extensive precautions---than she currently does in the hospital. Just another step on the road to coming back home where she belongs.

Interesting Reading Elsewhere---Benjamin LeRoy

I have suggested to you before that you should be reading him. You should also be buying the books that come out from his company, Tyrus Books. But, that is a separate issue. He is still writing a column for "Hey, There's A Dead Guy in the Living Room" (another blog you should be reading daily) and this week Ben addressed queries. More importantly what not to do in "Top Five Things Not to Put in your Query because Kristin Asked" which you can read here.

Read it. It is worth it. As always.

Interesting Reading Elsewhere---- Jan Christensen – RESEARCH TOOLS FOR TODAY’S WRITERS

 Not just for writers, Jan has links to research tools useful to everyone. Well worth your time to take a look at: Jan Christensen – RESEARCH TOOLS FOR TODAY’S WRITERS

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Why Write?

My answer was always--to stay sane. Getting happy would be better.

Now You Tell Me

though I never did put baby on the clock.....



Got to see this movie last night as it is now out on disc. Really enjoyed it. I don't do movie reviews as I am just not good enough to pull them off. But, Patrick Ohl wrote an extensive review of it over at his blog, At The Scene Of The Crime. You can read his Parker review here.

Earl's Short Story Book

Earl posted the below about his book earlier today and since Earl is in my local writing group and the book is very good I thought I would pass along his message.....

You might consider a collection titled SHORT STORIES OF EARL STAGGS. Published in 2011, it contains 16 stories, ranging from humorous to softboiled to hardboiled. One of them brought home a Derringer Award from the Short Mystery Fiction Society as Best Short Story of the Year.

But don't take my word for it. I'm biased. Here are some comments from people you can trust:

Kaye Barley: "I think he is a terrific writer, and one of the best when it comes to short
stories.......this is wonderfully done collection."
Rob Walker:  "a terrrific collection of stories in the mystery category. I think everyone on DL needs read Earl Staggs' stories."
Larry D. Marshall:  "These stories reflect a mastery of the mystery form that few have accomplished. . .I laughed at my Kindle while being somewhat awestruck at his storytelling."

Jan Christensen: "Earl is a meticulous writer. He actually crafts his stories to make them stand out from others who do not pay as much attention to craft and detail."
This collection is available in print from Amazon and as an ebook for Kindle and any other reader.

More details at:

Earl Staggs 

The Latest "All Mystery" is Out

according to Rebecca who posted the below...

This week's issue of the Top 10 features Mystery/humor/a dog sleuth, suspense in China, Mystery in Baja, and 3 NEW releases, one of which is a new historical mystery series: 

Cartmell, Wendy Steps to Heaven  
De Silva, Bruce Ciff Walk  
Freeburn, Christina Cropped to Death 
Hopkins, J.E.  The Scarlet Crane 
Houston, Richard A View to Die For 
Moats, Bob Classmate Murders 
Musgrave, Jim  Forevermore New Release!
Nortman, Karen Musser The Blue Coyote New Release!
Preston, Mar Rip-Off 
Schwartz, Jinx Boxed Set-Hetta Coffey  New Release!

Get all the reviews new book info for this week:

Review: "Robert B. Parker’s Wonderland: A Spenser Novel" by Ace Atkins

Henry Cimoli has known Hawk and Spenser for years. He has never once asked for a favor and certainly wouldn't now if he wasn't being squeezed. He might have even tolerated being squeezed a little bit, but, when three thugs showed up at his fourth floor condo things got serious. The thugs threatened to throw him out his own window if he didn’t shut up about not wanting to move. Somebody wants to buy the condo building for a project and hired thugs are now visiting the mostly elderly holdouts and making threats.

Even if Spenser didn't owe Henry whatever he asked he would look into things just because this sort of deal ticks him off. His initial goal is to stop the threats and to find out who the buyer is that wants the property. Once that is done, maybe some common sense will prevail, and then a fair price for all can be found. With Hawk out of town, Spenser enlists the aid of his protégé in training, Zebulon Sixkill, who also figures he owes Henry.

Before long things in the case start going sideways in Robert B. Parker's Wonderland: A Spenser Novel by Ace Atkins. Not just in the case, but in the book itself. Unfortunately, while all the familiar names and locations are present in this series and doing all the usual things one expects, the books no longer read like Spenser novels. As always the scenic descriptions and narration are very limited, the chapters are as short as ever, the witty (or not depending on your perspective) dialogue between Spenser and everyone else still exists--in fact every single character engages in witty repartee with every other character.  All the usual elements are firmly in place and the tagline A Spenser Novel is still on the cover.

But, where it truly matters, in the hard to pin down and define it style of voice, the distinctive Spenser voice is now gone. It is not just because Sixkill plays a prominent role, or that Hawk never makes an appearance, or that Susan has been regulated to a cupboard above the stove (she doesn't even get a back burner role here to the ecstatic joy of many according to reviews seen elsewhere. This is a different and often harder edged Spenser in terms of thought and action.

On its own a harder edged Spenser is not necessarily a bad thing. But, that harder edge Spenser doesn’t go far enough when it happens and often flips back to a far weaker Spenser. Clearly author Ace Atkins had a nearly insurmountable task in taking over for the late Robert B. Parker to keep the series going. Every now and then one gets the sense that if he could take the hobbles off he would shove Spenser hard and fast in a new direction that could easily lose those who insist on Spenser never changing. At the same time, he is losing readers like me who recognize he is sitting on the fence with his version of Spenser.

For more on how Joan dealt with the situation regarding the death of her husband, Robert B. Parker and continuing the various series, see the recent interesting article in the Boston Globe on the matter online here.

Robert B. Parker’s Wonderland: A Spenser Novel
Ace Atkins
G.P. Putnam’s Sons (Penguin Group)
May 2013
ISBN# 978-0-399-16157-5
Hardback (also available as e-book and audio book)
306 Pages

Material supplied by the good folks of the Plano, Texas Public Library System. If you are in the area and would like more information about Plano libraries go here.

Kevin R. Tipple ©2013

Friday, May 24, 2013

Birthday--Plus Twelve (The Good News Edition)

The good news of yesterday has now been confirmed and we now officially have a trend. The numbers of yesterday have gone up more. Several things they look at more than quadrupled in 24 hours. Not just that, but, Sandi actually now has a white blood count. This means that her modified stem cells have fully grafted with her body and her immune system is definitely starting up. How strong it will ultimately get we won't know for months as she will have to do the entire childhood immunization schedule at the normal intervals to support her immune system as well as take a number of precautions that most folks don't have to do to avoid a routine illness that could easily kill her.

But, we do now know that everything immune system related has activated and is producing all the various markers at different levels. The doctors involved at Mayo as well as the nurses working with Sandi are absolutely ecstatic. A number of them have been doing this for many, many years and Sandi says that they have never seen a patient doing what she is doing. They are simply amazed. Once again, she is not a normal case at all. This time not being a normal case is a very good thing.

It will be months before we know if this will succeed in holding this particular cancer at bay. But, we do know that things have triggered and a system reboot of her immune system is slowly powering up. All in all, this is the best possible news we could have gotten at this point.

FFB Review: "They Love Not Poison" by Sara Woods--Reviewed by Patrcik Ohl

This is Friday and that means Friday’s Forgotten Books. After far too long an absence, Patrick Ohl returns today with his review of They Love Not Poison by Sara Woods. Suggestions for more great books to read can be found over at Patti’s blog. You should check it out after you read Patrick’s review below….

I was bewitched—nay, downright seduced—by the blurb on the back of Sara Woods’ They Love Not Poison. I was promised a book that would serve as a sort of unofficial sequel to John Dickson Carr’s The Burning Court: a mysterious death via poison takes place and the culprit seems to be the reincarnation of a 300-year old witch! With such an awesome idea, how can you possibly go wrong?

Unfortunately, and it breaks my heart to say this, Sara Woods finds a way to mess it up. The book’s story seems like it couldn’t possibly fail: set in post-WWII England, it involves Woods’ series character Antony Maitland. While staying at a friend’s place in a small farming community, Maitland gets involved in serious matters when a neighbour’s wife dies. Although she’s been ill for a while, the doctor finds the death suspicious and refuses to sign a death certificate. The rumours say that a young girl in the household is the reincarnation of a 300-year old witch, and somehow is the person responsible for the murder. And into all this we get some stuff about a lost treasure…

All jolly ingredients for a fun story, aren’t they? But Sara Woods just can’t handle them. She makes terrible decisions in plot construction. Some are apparently quite small— for instance, it’s never explained why the doctor found the death suspicious in the first place. But more important than the minor plot nitpicks: the pacing is absolutely terrible. Strands of plot are forgotten for large chunks of the book, only to be summoned again at random when the author remembers: “Oh yeah, there’s supposed to be a witch in here!”

Is there any atmosphere of the supernatural? No, never, and if there were any attempts to do so they failed miserably. There is no sense of dread or uncertainty. It’s a lifeless book with faceless characters talking about how awful it is that someone should die but let’s waste our time instead talking about some fictional local history.

But for me, the absolute cruncher came at the ending, when right out of nowhere, a group of suspicious people shows up to play our last-minute red herring. Despite the fact that they are absolutely nasty people, Antony Maitland believes they didn’t kill the second victim of this story. How comfortably decent of these thugs… but it instantly ruins any effect of menace Woods tried to instill! Not only that, even though they are innocent their existence turns out to be vital for the real culprit, and again, these revelations all seem to be wild, unsubstantiated guesses. And to make matters worse, the ending scene is one of those moronic ones where somebody is tricked into giving the murderer away.

But what could I care by this point? I was bored… and I hated to admit it to myself. I had such high hopes and they were mercilessly dashed. The writing is sloppy, the characters are bland, there’s no atmosphere to speak of, no cleverness in plot construction, the whole thing ends on a cop-out, the pacing is terrible, and the book’s most interesting ideas lie forgotten for most of the book! They Love Not Poison is a terrible miscalculation, one of the biggest missed opportunities I’ve come across in recent memory. I only hope that Woods’ other books are better…

Anyone interested in the general plot idea should find John Dickson Carr’s The Burning Court and read (or re-read) it instead of this one.

Patrick Ohl ©2013
The nineteen-year-old Patrick Ohl continues to plot to take over the world when he isn’t writing reviews of books he reads on his blog, At the Scene of the Crime. In his spare time he conducts genetic experiments in his top-secret laboratory, hoping to create a creature as terrifying as the Giant Rat of Sumatra in a bid to take over the world. His hobbies include drinking tea and going outside to do a barbecue in -10°C weather.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Birthday--Plus Eleven

As horrible as things are here with my back and leg today and our horrific money situation with rent due in a week, I do have a little good news to report tonight. Sandi has felt a little better today. The ear has stopped hurting and the throat pain has subsided greatly. She got through most of the day with very few body aches and pains. Most importantly, Sandi's blood work shows a slight improvement.

Based on the blood work late last night and earlier today, Sandi is now officially off of zero.

This means her new immune system has triggered and has started doing what it needs to do to come back to life. At this point it has activated and she is as defenseless as a newborn baby. But, it came on. This had to happen for her to have any chance at all. The fact that it has now activated shows that the stem cells implanted themselves and have started doing something. While it will still be weeks, if not months, before we know if the stem cell transplant has worked and if she has more time with us all, the fact that things have started and she has come up off zero is a huge milestone.

What they will look for and work towards now is to get her numbers to climb. There is a risk that she could fall back to zero and crater again, but the belief is that will not happen. At this point, as I understand it, there are no symptoms they would expect to see that would indicate the possibility of that happening. So, at this point, they expect her numbers to start slowly trending upward.

One hopes.....

Event: Author Taylor Stevens in Frisco on June 4

Received the below via one of my groups yesterday ...... 

Book Event- Frisco, TX

Join us for an event with
New York Times Best-selling Author
Taylor Stevens
Tuesday, June 4th at 7pm
Barnes & Noble at Stonebriar Centre
Frisco, TX

Against the odds, after being raised in communes across the globe and being denied an education past sixth grade, Taylor Stevens broke free of the Children of God and became the New York Times Best-selling author of The Informationist. The author of three Vanessa “Michael” Munroe novels (The Informationist, The Innocent, and her latest book: The Doll)- they are the perfect thriller/mystery books for fans of Jason Bourne and Jack Reacher.

Stevens began writing the series without any formal training, with no writing background and is now published in over 20 languages and has a film deal with James Cameron to boot.

This event is perfect for fans of thrillers, but also for aspiring writers of any experience level. Taylor is an entertaining speaker who will answer all questions about both her novels and the business of writing and getting published.

This event is free and open to the public.

Nicole Caliro
Community Relations Manager
Barnes & Noble at Stonebriar Centre
Frisco, TX

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Just Because It Is Cool...

and I need a little cool in my life.....

The recently opened Margaret L. Hunt Bridge in Dallas with downtown off in the distance.

Birthday--Plus Ten

I can report that Sandi feels slightly better tonight. Throat hurts though not as much. Her left ear is bothering her some and the thinking is she has some fluid in there that nobody can see. The body aches and pains seem to have eased a little bit today. The belief remains this is all normal and should pass in a couple of days.

Hopefully she is turning the corner on this....

7 Years And Counting!

For the fantastic blog known as The Rap Sheet. J. Kingston Pierce is celebrating and for damn good reason. He also is hosting a contest to celebrate. You can read all about here.

This Explains It

and would have made geography class way easier.......

Design a logo....

and win money. You could get $50 from the Texas Gulf Coast Writers. Details on the contest that ends in two weeks can be found here.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Sandi's Day Nine

Day nine was not any better for her today. Her throat continues to massively hurt and she continues to have a hard time swallowing. The body aches and pain remain pretty bad and she is not a happy patient on any level. Today was also hard as they had to give her 2 more units of platelets.

She continues to feel lousy and is more than ready this "normal" stuff to end.

The fact she has been denied by Texas Medicaid without any explanation did not help matters.


There seems to be a wave of anti library sentiment these days. Libraries remain wonderful places to me. One of the better responses to some of the anti library sentiment out there can be found here.

Dan Brown is Back...

and has been making the media rounds promoting his latest book. I'm not one of the Dan Brown haters Brian Lindenmuth commented about over at Do Some Damage. I tried a book or two of his and quickly figured out he wasn't for me. I give Dan Brown tremendous credit as the man clearly found a huge audience. When you generate a huge audience you will be loved and hated---Often for the exact same reasons.

I did come across "Dan Brown's Inferno: a tall writer offers his historic review" over at the Guardian and thought it was flat out funny. You can read it here.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Birthday--Plus Eight

Today marks the 8th day since Sandi had her stem cell transplant and the last 48 hours have not been kind to her. Early yesterday morning they suddenly had to give her a blood transfusion of 2 units of blood as well as 2 units of platelets. They started all this before she even had breakfast yesterday morning so the premeds on an empty stomach made her sleep and then she was nauseated when she woke up while they were putting the blood into her. She felt pretty lousy all day and thought she would feel better this morning.

Instead, today was much worse. She woke up before dawn with a raging sore throat that made it nearly impossible to swallow and body aches all over. She describes it as the throat is worse than any strep throat she ever had and is coupled with feeling like the worst case of flu ever. Her right arm is extremely painful to her and is interfering with her crocheting or being online very much. Everyone in the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit seems to be thrilled with her feeling so bad as they have been waiting for this to happen. This is supposed to be normal and more proof that, so far, things are working like they are supposed to do at this point.

How long this will last is unknown at this point as this could last just a couple of days or go a week or more. Obviously, she would prefer the former and wants to feel like she did early last week when for a few blessed days she felt like she did when she was well pre--cancer from before I got sick.

Hopefully, tomorrow evening I will have better news.....

Review: "Scratchgravel Road: A Mystery" by Tricia Fields

“Given the right set of circumstances I think we're all capable of doing bad.” (Page 289)

The right set of circumstances has come together in this second novel from author Tricia Fields following last year's powerful debut The Territory. In fact, “the right set of circumstances” happens over and over again in a variety of ways resulting in numerous life and death situations as well as plenty of good old fashioned luck. In fact, it happens so often at precisely the right time, there is a strong hint of deus ex machina at work throughout the book.

“The right set of circumstances” happens from early on when Police Chief Josie Gray leaves home at noon in the June heat to begin her shift. On her way to the station, she decides to stop for a few minutes at the nearby watch tower. She climbs the tower at random times so she can evaluate the local area of the Chihuahuan Desert and keep eyes on Piedra Labrada, the staging point for recent cartel violence that crossed the border and rocked the small southwest Texas border town of Artemis. Things have calmed down for now, but memories are very fresh, and the 33 year old police chief expects the violence to flare again at any time.

As she drove toward the watch tower, Chief Gray didn't expect to find the car of former jail employer Cassidy Harper parked nearby on Scratchgravel Road. Cassidy is a decent enough person, but, she has made a few bad decisions and that includes the man in her life. She seems to have made another as she left her car and apparently walked off into the desert under a blistering noonday sun. Chief Gray heads off road and into the desert with her jeep and soon finds an unconscious Cassidy. She also finds her lying next to a man who clearly has been dead for days.

That discovery, a runaway teenage daughter of a fellow office, and the start of a monsoon season that breaks 100 year flood records are just some of the many factors at work in this complicated second novel of the series. While the heavy rains depicted in this novel may strike native Texans such as myself as way over the top as they simply do not happen the way they are depicted, the rest of the novel featuring multiple storylines works well. Josie remains a strong and interesting character and a number of secondary characters are allowed to bring forth their own rich and varied perspectives in Scratchgravel Road. That character development further brings to life the small town while also adding depth and complexity to those involved. While not nearly as good as The Territory the novel does work fairly well and keeps the reader entertained.

Scratchgravel Road: A Mystery
Tricia Fields
Minotaur Books (A Thomas Dunne Book)
March 2013
ISBN# 978-1-250-02136-6
Hardback (also available as e-book and audio)
310 Pages

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

Kevin R. Tipple ©2013

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Lucky Dog Books-- 2 DAY FLASH SALE

Please go see these folks as their store is not only great, they were amazingly supportive of Jenny Milchman, Shalanna Collins and Earl Staggs and everyone in their efforts to help us by way of the recent book signing. They truly do deserve your business and are simply wonderful people....

The sale message from Lucky Dog Books posted to Facebook yesterday.....

2 DAY FLASH SALE - 25% off any of our recycled hardbacks, paperbacks, DVD's, CD's, comics, audio books, etc. at all 3 stores today & tomorrow only. Mention this post when checking out to get 25% off the cash portion of your purchases.

You can still use your store credit from trade-ins to pay for up to the usual 50% before we deduct this discount from the remaining balance.

We almost never do this. In 40 years maybe once or twice before if that. So put us on your itinerary this weekend and tell your friends.

Our approach to sales has been that most of our patrons prefer being able to get 50% off every day by bringing things to trade-in rather than an occasional sale for a lesser amount a couple of times a year.

But Joe Wells suggested one when we asked about things to do for our 1st Anniversary at the Oak Cliff. So we are going to experiment and try an event such as this that does both for a change.