Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: Happy New Year!

 Bill and Judy out partying.....
Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: Happy New Year!

At the Scene of the Crime: Who? What? Where? How? Why? When?

At the Scene of the Crime: Who? What? Where? How? Why? When?: We open our story in the San Francisco of the 1890s. The detective agency of Carpenter and Quincannon recently solved The Bughouse Affair...

December 2013 Reads and Reviews--The List

In addition to everything else on the blog are the reviews. Below is the complete list of the “December 2013 Reads and Reviews.” My massive thanks to Barry Ergang and Patrick Ohl for their continuing contributions to the blog as well as their friendship and support.

Cleveland In My Dreams by Lawrence Block
Thuglit: Issue 7 Edited by Todd Robinson
Marcia DeCoster’s Beads In Motion: 24 Jewelry Projects That Spin. Sway, Swing, And Slide by Marcia Decoster
Too Late To Die by Bill Crider (FFB Review)
Bead Bugs: Cute, Creepy, and Quirky Projects to Make with Beads, Wire, and Fun Found Objects by Amy Kopperude 
Three Can Keep A Secret: A Joe Gunther Novel by Archer Mayor 
Amos Hangs On by Jim Newell
The Fabulous Clipjoint by Fredric Brown (FFB Review--Barry Ergang) 
Perfect Pies & More: All New Pies, Cookies, Bars, And Cakes From America’s Pie-Baking Champion by Michele Stuart 
Death on the High C’s by Robert Barnard (FFB Review--Patrick Ohl) 
Fat Ollie’s Book by Ed McBain (FFB Review--Barry Ergang)
Spirit Of Steamboat: A Walt Longmire Story by Craig Johnson 
The Adventures of the Quinn Higgins Boy Detective: The Case of the Lost U-Boat by
Douglas Quinn

If you value what we do here each month please consider voting for Kevin’s Corner at the “Preditors and Editors Poll.” The blog is listed at http://critters.org/predpoll/reviewsite.shtml  The site can be very slow at times. At some point after you vote­---and this can be hours up to a day or two later---you will receive a confirmation e-mail that you must respond to for your vote to count.

Onward to 2014 and the books….


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Monday, December 30, 2013


Happy Birthday to Karl who turned 26 today......

Via The Passive Voice--- Konrath’s Publishing Predictions 2014

Some of these are obvious and easy to predict such as number one while some others are a bit out there....

Konrath’s Publishing Predictions 2014

Review: "The Adventures of the Quinn Higgins Boy Detective: The Case of the Lost U-Boat" by Douglas Quinn

Reggie, Vaughn, Demian, and the Boy Detective, Quinn Higgins, like to pal around at school and at home. They call themselves “Quinn and the Three Musketeers.” Thanks to Demian they learn that there is a new kid in school. The 11 year old boy is from Chicago and just got to North Carolina and that means that Demian can happily give up his title of the “new kid.”

The new kid is Frederick Cullen and he is living with his grandfather out on Big Flatty Creek.  Word is that his mom is dead and his father died fighting in Afghanistan. Since Frederick wants to learn how to fish and Quinn is good at it that becomes a natural way to start talking to Frederick. The plan is to make friends with Frederick and bring him into the group.

When Quinn and the others aren’t making instruments for the upcoming talent show the boys try to figure out ways to help Frederick as his rather rude grandfather makes it clear that no one is welcome at their home. The boys, who have been on more than one adventure, suspect that the elderly man is hiding something. It could be something very important and may have links back to World War II. A secret that boy detective Quinn Higgins is determined to discover in The Adventures of the Quinn Higgins Boy Detective: The Case of the Lost U-Boat.

From the first book The Case of the Missing Homework through this, the fifth book in the series, readers have been treated to Quinn Higgins, a fun loving kid growing up in North Carolina. An active kid who would rather spend time with his friends outdoors than inside playing video games, Quinn has an innate curiosity which can put him in sticky situations such as in this book. For us readers of a certain age, these books are very reminiscent of the classic Encyclopedia Brown series.

This read is fast moving, solidly good, and engages the interest of kids and adults as do the other books of the series. While a mystery is at the core of the book, the read is also about exploring one’s own talents as well as helping others as relationships matter. Sometimes things don’t work out exactly as expected and this life lesson comes through clearly at the end of the story. This is a series that works for kids and parents.

This latest good book in the series is also complimented by four pages at the end of the book detailing how the instruments are made that the boys use in their talent show. The four instruments are things for the kid in all of us to consider making. 

The Adventures of the Quinn Higgins Boy Detective: The Case of the Lost U-Boat
Douglas Quinn
AAS White Heron Press (Via CreateSpace)
ISBN #978-1492974215
November 2013
132 Pages

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

Kevin R. Tipple ©2013

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Joe Lansdale and Writing

Joe Lansdale offers some suggestions and thoughts on writing here. Well worth your time.

KRL-- Carolyn Hart, Laurie Cass, mystery short story, favorite books in 2013, giveaways & more in KRL

As posted elsewhere yesterday.....

Up in Kings River Life Magazine a children's mystery short story by Andrew MacRae "The Mystery of the Grinning Skull" http://kingsriverlife.com/12/28/the-mystery-of-the-grinning-skull-a-mystery-short-story/

Also up this morning a look at some of the TV show trends from 2013, and of some of the new TV shows coming in 2014, including some mystery and paranormal shows http://kingsriverlife.com/12/28/out-with-the-old-in-with-the-pirates-period-pieces-and-paranormal/

Also this morning a review & giveaway of the first in a new mystery series by Laurie Cass, A Bookmobile Cat mystery called "Lending a Paw", and also an interview with Laurie http://kingsriverlife.com/12/28/lending-a-paw-a-bookmobile-cat-mystery-by-laurie-cass/

We also have a review and giveaway of a new mystery by Carolyn Hart "Cry in the Night" http://kingsriverlife.com/12/28/cry-in-the-night-by-carolyn-hart/

Lastly up in Kings River Life Magazine this morning our reviewers each pick their top 5 books of 2013 which includes books by Carolyn Hart, Rhys Bowen, Craig Johnson, Kat Richardson, Jeri Westerson and many others http://kingsriverlife.com/12/28/staff-picks-for-favorite-books-of-2013/

And over on KRL Lite we have a review & giveaway of the latest mystery by John H Daniel, "Hooperman" http://kingsriverlife.blogspot.com/2013/12/hooperman-by-john-m-daniel.html

You can find all of these and more by going to home page and scrolling down http://KingsRiverLife.com

Happy reading,
Lorie Ham

KRL is now selling advertising & we have special discounts for
mystery authors & bookstores! Ask me about it!
Mystery section in Kings River Life http://KingsRiverLife.com
Check out my own blog at http://mysteryratscloset.blogspot.com/

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Lady Sandra: New Year’s Projects for kids to make

Lady Sandra: New Year’s Projects for kids to make: Keep the kids busy on New Year’s by having them make the below projects!! Make a Paper Noisemaker Materials:   8 1/2 x...

Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: How to Make Your Book a Bestseller

Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: How to Make Your Book a Bestseller: How to Make Your Book a Bestseller

Sample Sunday

I'm not doing a Sample Sunday this week. Several folks who committed to sending something never did. And quite frankly, I am tired of putting my own stuff out there in hopes of a sale. So, I am taking today off.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Another Book In My TBR Pile

Randy Rawls and his book BEST DEFENSE reviewed here.

Man....I hope someday things get better enough around here that I can get back to focusing on reading, reviews, and my own writing.  Even when I was working Special Education full time for the school district and taking care of things at home while Sandi went to night school at TWU for her education degree, I got way more done than what I can do now. I spent much of today looking for things to fight for insurance benefits for Sandi after yet another problem came to light. So many trees have died to support my efforts to get her what should just happen automatically.

As sick as I am at least I can still do this for her. I shudder to think what happens to folks who have no one screaming bloody murder on their behalf. The system seems designed to fight the terminal patient over every damn little thing and I am so freaking sick of it.

So concludes tonight's sermon of frustration. Go read the review.

Behind in my Reading

I'm always behind in my reading. I will be a little better when first college then the the NFL season ends and I suffer my annual football withdrawal. Of course, this year  with the Winter Olympics in February my TV viewing may not drop at all. But, it won't be football.

What they ought to do is divide the speed skaters into teams, give them a football, and go at it. Footballs on skates. It would work.

The books stack up as does the e-mail. When I see something in the e-mail I don't have time to read t gets slotted in the "archives" and I go back later. So, just today I got to this piece on Lesa Holstine over at Kaye Barley's Meanderings and Musings blog. You can read it here and should. Not only is it about the family you are born into, it is about that family of mystery readers and writers that we all belong to in one way or another.  Just go read it and then poke around the blog. Good stuff.

Review: "Spirit Of Steamboat: A Walt Longmire Story" by Craig Johnson

The Tuesday before Christmas brings snow, relative quiet, and no real plans for Sheriff Walt Longmire other than his annual rereading of A Christmas Carol. That is until the quiet dark haired woman toting a garment bag walked into his office. Eventually it becomes clear that she wants to see the former Sheriff, Lucian Connally. The woman claims to have something that she would like to return to him.

Lucian is living at the “Durant Home for Assisted Living” and could probably use a visit from somebody besides Sheriff Walt Longmire and Dog. Not only is the home’s television another victim of Lucian’s legendary temper having died by gunshot, the man is not in the best of moods because it is Christmas and he has been drinking quite a bit. He has no idea who the mystery woman is either until she says “Steamboat.”

What follows is an incredibly suspenseful flashback tale of a flight to save a child’s life against the odds---medical and environmental. On Christmas Eve in 1988 an aging WWII plane and a cast of locals including the recently retired Lucian and first year Sheriff Walt Longmire pulled off a Christmas miracle. Though readers can surmise from nearly the start that the dark haired woman was that child, there is plenty of suspense in how the flight happened and why she is back now.

While “Spirit Of Steamboat: A Walt Longmire Story” is a short book as it is a novella, it is a powerful and deeply moving book. Craig Johnson brings alive the storm, the people, and the history of a legendary aircraft in a way that few novelists could do. The resulting 160 page book might simply be the best thing the man has ever written.

Spirit Of Steamboat: A Walt Longmire Story
Craig Johnson
Viking (part of Penguin Group)
ISBN# 978-0-670-01578-8
October 2013
Hardback (also available in e-book and audio)
160 Pages

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

You can also read  Lesa Holstine's take on the book here.

Kevin R. Tipple ©2013
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Friday, December 27, 2013

Way Too True

and a list to keep in mind....

I could add a few more, but this is a good start.

Lady Sandra: Pet Projects to make for your new dog!!

Lady Sandra: Pet Projects to make for your new dog!!: I was looking for things to make for the animal shelter; because I have a lot of leftover yarn and came across these projects for d...

 Sandi's Store is at http://www.ioffer.com/users/sanditipple  Lots of good handmade stuff there.

FFB Review: "FAT OLLIE'S BOOK" (2002) by Ed McBain--- Reviewed by Barry Ergang

Friday means Friday’s Forgotten Books hosted by Patti Abbott. She took the week off, but we still roll here because we are guys and that is just the way we are. Please welcome back Barry Ergang who shares his thoughts regarding this classic from Ed McBain.

FAT OLLIE'S BOOK (2002) by Ed McBain

Reviewed by Barry Ergang

City councilman Lester Henderson and his staff are setting up in Martin Luther King Memorial Hall for a rally during which Henderson will announce that he's running for mayor. While Henderson is practicing a walk across the stage to a podium, multiple shots explode from somewhere in the building and he falls dead. Because the Hall is in the Eighty-Eighth Precinct, the foul-mouthed, obese, gluttonous bigot Oliver Wendell Weeks is the detective assigned to the case. Because the victim lived in the Eighty-Seventh Precinct, Ollie requests help from that quarter, and Detectives Steve Carella and Bert Kling are stuck with the task of working under his direction.

As excited as he is to be working his first high-profile case in a long time, Ollie is equally excited about his novel entitled Report to the Commissioner, which was written (on a typewriter) in the form of an official report. He has written it using the pseudonym Olivia Wesley Watts, who in her "report" is explaining to the Commissioner how she has come to be locked in a basement with over two million dollars' worth of diamonds. All but the last chapter has been revised, and Ollie has put the thirty-six pages of the preceding chapters into a dispatch case, intending to have it copied at a Kinko's. ("Less is more. That's an adage amongst us writers," he tells his sister when she questions whether he's really written a novel-length manuscript.)

When the dispatch case is stolen in a smash-and-grab from Ollie's car while he's inside King Memorial Hall, its recovery takes precedence over the Henderson murder, as far as he's personally concerned. Unbeknownst to him, the thief is one Emilio Herrera, a cross-dressing prostitute and drug addict who, upon reading the fiction, believes it to be a true but "coded" account, and who endeavors to break the code so as to get his hands on the diamonds.

Meanwhile, Detective Eileen Burke, who has just joined the Eighty-Seventh squad, is partnered with Andy Parker, a man whose attitude is as odious as Ollie's. One of Parker's informants tells them of a major drug deal that's going down in six days in the basement of a building somewhere in the city. What basement he doesn't know because the address keeps changing. He's only certain that the people involved aren't amateurs. He's somewhat wrong about that, however, as the reader learns soon afterward.

While Carella and Kling–and sometimes Ollie, when he's not trying to track down his manuscript–try to solve the Henderson murder, Burke and Parker's case becomes unwittingly entwined with Emilio's quest to locate the basement where Olivia Wesley Watts and the diamonds are held, resulting in some moments worthy of a good sitcom.   

The reader also gets to join Emilio in reading Ollie's book, sections of which are scattered throughout the broader narrative. These make for great comedy in themselves, loaded as they are with English usage uncertainties–e.g.:

"Because that's where Lock lost him because, you should pardon this, Commish–and this is just between you and I, or maybe even you and me–he had to relieve himself....So it was with considerably great expectations that I took the call from The Needle that morning. Hopefully, The Needle...

"Or perhaps I hoped The Needle...

"Or maybe I was even hopeful that The Needle...

Hopefully, The Needle would have some information on Grant or his missing wife Marie or his cousin Ambrose Fields."

I was fourteen when I first read an Eighty-Seventh Precinct novel, 'Til Death, and I've been a fan ever since. The fifty-second entry in the series, Fat Ollie's Book has at least as much verve as the earliest entries, and quite possibly more. Ed McBain's characters, including many of the minor ones, are three-dimensional figures. His narrative style is laced with wry humor. His ear for dialogue is and always has been impeccable and unerring. His pacing is flawless.

As is, or even like, nearly every Eighty-Seventh Precinct mystery, Fat Ollie's Book is superb entertainment.   

Barry Ergang ©2013
Derringer Award-winner Barry Ergang's fiction, poetry and non-fiction have appeared in numerous publications, print and electronic. Some of his work such as Stuffed Shirt, Dances of the Disaffected, and PUN-ishing Tales: The Stuff That Groans Are Made On are several titles among others available at Amazon and at Smashwords. Visit his website: http://www.writetrack.yolasite.com/
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UPDATE: Barry called me this afternoon and among other things advised that Todd Mason was collecting the links and posting them on his "Sweet Freedom" blog. He is and you can find the list here.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Senior News--December 2013 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 mail 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 the 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 2013 column with the addition here of the relevant book covers…

The Rules
Mark Troy
ISBN# 978-0-98480813-7    
50 Pages (estimated)

In The Rules Ava Rome is a protection specialist. She keeps her clients alive while doing whatever is necessary to stop the threat. To protect her clients she has to know everything about them up front. The fact that she knows her latest client, “Paul” is lying about his name and possibly other things is not a good sign. The issue with the name could be for good reason. According to the father, a wealthy and powerful businessman most likely from somewhere in South America, the threat against his son is very real and he is willing to pay top dollar for someone of Ava’s skills. To be paid very well, all she has to do is keep him alive and not break any of her rules.

Much easier said than done.

Texas author Mark Troy has a real winner here with the book and his new character Ava Rome. Featuring plenty of action, interesting characters, and a heroine readers will love, The Rules is a powerful mystery as well as a preview of the next summer release The Splintered Paddle from Five Star Publishing.

Update from the author posted elsewhere earlier today--“To send 2013 on it's way, my novella, The Rules, will be free on Kindle starting tomorrow until New Year's Eve.”

Missing Dog Tags: An American GI in North Korea
Kenneth Eaton
Patience Press
ISBN# 978-1-892220-13-4
Paperback (also available as an e-book)
300 Pages

In Missing Dog Tags: An American GI in North Korea author Kenneth Eaton recounts what it was like to be a prisoner of war in North Korea. His story of his capture while serving as a corporal in the 9th Tank Company of the 2nd division, U.S. Army, begins early in 1951 with a Chinese attack on his unit. After his tank was destroyed, he was forced to abandon it. In the confusion of battle he was soon captured while on foot as were other soldiers.

Despite three failed escape attempts, starvation, and various horrors he endured, Kenneth Eaton survived and came home to be reunited with friends and loved ones. In a blow by blow detailed fashion this book recounts the experiences of Kenneth Eason during the Korean War. As such, the book pulls no punches as the story comes out. Those who expect a politically correct read with sanitized language regarding the enemy would be best to look elsewhere.  Corporal Kenneth Eaton bluntly tells it like it was for him in Missing Dog Tags: An American GI in North Korea.

Kevin R. Tipple ©2013
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Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: How to Write: A Year in Advice

Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: How to Write: A Year in Advice: How to Write: A Year in Advice from Franzen, King, Hosseini, and More  Link via SF Signal.

Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: Happy Boxing Day!

 I did not know this. Having watched "Fight Club" I always figured this was when Canadians just beat on each other all day and never talked about it.....

Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: Happy Boxing Day!: Boxing Day - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia : Boxing Day is traditionally the day following Christmas Day, when servants and tradesmen wou...

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas 2013

On behalf of all of us I just want to say thank you for all your thoughts, prayers, and support this past year. It has been a hard one in so many ways. Some things have been seen here, but many more serious things have not been talked about at all.  Hopefully this Christmas marks a turning point in these parts.

From our little spot in North Texas we wish each and every one of you a Merry Christmas and a wonderful holiday season.


in case you wondered....

Lady Sandra: Last minute Christmas Projects to make

Lady Sandra: Last minute Christmas Projects to make: Some of these projects you will be able to recycle items to make them. Recycled Quilted CD Ornaments Materials: ...

A Holiday Earworm

Cue the music....

Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: Okay, This Is Fun

 In my year--- Your OED birthday word is: chocoholic, n. Meaning: A habitual and prolific eater of chocolate; esp. a person who is very fond of chocolate.

It fits! It totally fits!

Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: Okay, This Is Fun: OED birthday word generator: which words originated in your birth year? In my year:   Your OED birthday word is:   bad-mouth, v. Meaning:...

Big Daddy's Place: Sixgun Santa - Johnston McCulley

Big Daddy's Place: Sixgun Santa - Johnston McCulley: A pair of Christmas themed westerns from the creator and author of Zorro, plus an article about the Christmas tree capital of the world. T...


We know something about this sort of stuff. A little too real, but still funny.....

Monday, December 23, 2013

Author @JRLindermuth is a Guest at The #AuthorsCornerBlog - Mustard Seed Marketing Group L.L.C.

Author @JRLindermuth is a Guest at The #AuthorsCornerBlog - Mustard Seed Marketing Group L.L.C.

Still Amazon Shopping?

In addition to the donation widget on the left side, I am an Amazon Associate. What this means is if you click on one of the book links on this blog to buy a particular book or to shop on Amazon and you buy something, I get a few pennies on the sale. It does not affect the price you pay at Amazon or have any impact on you financially at all.

What it does do is generate a small referral fee that is paid into my Amazon Associate account a few pennies at a time. Those pennies add up each quarter. When enough pennies add up to ten dollars, usually once or twice a year, I can cash out with an Amazon giftcard. I use these funds to buy the occasional e-book which ultimately gets reviewed here as well as some household and medical supplies for Sandi not covered by food stamps or donations.

So, if you are going to shop at Amazon anyway, please consider going through me to do your shopping. Every little bit helps and I do appreciate it very much.

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Sunday, December 22, 2013

I'm A Voracious Reader : 12 Days of a Kensington Christmas ~ The Dead Shall...

I'm A Voracious Reader : 12 Days of a Kensington Christmas ~ The Dead Shall...: Title ~ The Dead Shall Not Rest Series ~ Dr. Thomas Silkstone, #2 Author ~ Tessa Harris Publisher ~ Kensington Published ~ 24 Dec...

Writer Beware®: The Blog: Crowdfunded Anthologies: Concerns For Writers

Writer Beware®: The Blog: Crowdfunded Anthologies: Concerns For Writers

Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: No More Bigfoot Porn?

I read this much earlier today and was very surprised. I had no idea this was a real thing--let alone there was a market for it.

Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: No More Bigfoot Porn?: MONSTER PORN: Amazon’s Crackdown On America’s Latest Sex Fantasy   Hat tip to Toby O'Brien .

Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: Short, Sharp Interview: Matt Hilton

Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: Short, Sharp Interview: Matt Hilton: Short, Sharp Interview: Matt Hilton

Sample Sunday: Excerpt "SIBYL DISOBEDIENCE" from "PUN-ishing Tales: The Stuff That Groans Are Made On" by Barry Ergang

Barry is back this week with another excerpt from PUN-ishing Tales: The Stuff That Groans Are Made On. You can also read another excerpt titled FEEDWAY from the book here.

by Barry Ergang

Her people clamored against its oppression, but the provincial government responded savagely, killing hundreds. She made it her mission to find an inspirer to unify and lead the protesters.

“I’ve written to a prophetess in Manchuria I’ve read about,” she said, “who follows the peaceful precepts of Mahatma Gandhi. I’m meeting with her to beg her assistance in our cause.”

“That’s dangerous and probably futile,” her betrothed said. “I won’t allow you to risk your life.”

“I’m going. You can’t stop me.”

          He nodded, scowling.

            “All right. But don’t expect me to approve of the Manchurian Gandhi date.”

 Barry Ergang © 2013
 PUN-ishing Tales is available at Amazon and Smashwords.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Lady Sandra: Recycled ornaments with Light Bulbs

Lady Sandra: Recycled ornaments with Light Bulbs: As I started yesterday, there are lots of things to put inside a clear ornament. There are also a lot of characters to make with a use...

The Shifting Ground of Book PR in 2014

As is this...

The Shifting Ground of Book PR in 2014

Ten Bold Predictions for Ebooks and Digital Publishing in 2014

 Well worth reading

Ten Bold Predictions for Ebooks and Digital Publishing in 2014

CrimeFictionWriter: "Because," I said.

CrimeFictionWriter: "Because," I said.: Over at SleuthSayers.org there was a recent discussion about dialog tags . I joined in and, I think, summed it up best: "If a speec...

Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: JibJab 2013 Year in Review: "What A Year!"

Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: JibJab 2013 Year in Review: "What A Year!": ▶ JibJab 2013 Year in Review: "What A Year!" - YouTube :

Friday, December 20, 2013

Wounded Feet

This has been a tough couple of days for the feet around here. Late yesterday evening, I stepped on a piece of glass that mysteriously appeared in the carpet. Cut an inch long gash in the bottom of my right foot and proceeded to bleed like crazy. Apparently the aspirin therapy in conjunction with my bp meds must be really working because you would have thought I slit my jugular the way the blood was coming out of me.No need for stitches and no need for a crime scene tech despite my bloody footprints everywhere around here while trying to find a bandaid..or two..or three.

Then today, Sandi got hung up in the umbilical cord from her air machine, stumbled, and then managed to kick the ottoman breaking her left little toe. She has unhappily broken it before--several times--and knew exactly what she had done when she did it. After she iced it down for a couple of hours, we got it immobilized and taped up. The ottoman would not have been there in front of her chair if she didn't need her feet up to try and reduce the daily swelling in her lower legs and ankles.

So, the feet have not been making out too well. Told the boys they better be real careful as this kind of crap runs in threes.

Lady Sandra: Ideas for Glass or plastic Christmas ornament with...

Lady Sandra: Ideas for Glass or plastic Christmas ornament with...: There are so many items you can put into an empty clear ornament here are some ideas.   This year I found some flat looking clear ornam...

Sandi's Store is at http://www.ioffer.com/users/sanditipple  Lots of good handmade stuff there. Stop by and take a look.

The South Jersey Writers' Group Blog: Writing 2.6 - What to Write About

The South Jersey Writers' Group Blog: Writing 2.6 - What to Write About: Guest Blog by Rich Voza , originally presented on his blog, Brainsnorts: Trashing Today for a Better Tomorrow . You can see it here . ...

Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: Forgotten Books: The Quest -- Nelson DeMille

Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: Forgotten Books: The Quest -- Nelson DeMille: I suspect that not many people have read Nelson DeMille's original version of The Quest.   I have, and I still have the copy I bought ba...

Dead End Follies: Book Review : Richard Stark - The Hunter (1962)

Dead End Follies: Book Review : Richard Stark - The Hunter (1962): Order THE HUNTER here ''I was never a whore, Parker,'' she said. ''You know that.'' ''No, ...

FFB Review: "Death on the High C’s" by Robert Barnard-- Reviewed by Patrick Ohl

Friday means Friday’s Forgotten Books with Patti Abbott. Patti has declared today to be in honor of Robert Barnard. The list will be here later today. In the meantime, check out Patrick Ohl’s review of Death on the High C’s below…

There are some books that you pick up at a bookstore on a hunch, because you just know there has to be something good in between those covers! Maybe you’ve never heard of the author or read their work, but you can’t resist either way. Sometimes, the hunches do not pay off— I learned this the hard way with The Affair at Royalties by George Baxt, purchased solely on the strength of a brilliant cover that had absolutely no relevance to the story itself. However, when these hunches do pay off, the experience is extraordinary.

Such was the case for me with Death on the High C’s by Robert Barnard. I had heard of Barnard of course, and read his insightful appreciation of Agatha Christie, A Talent to Deceive, which I liked very much. So when his name appeared on a book with such a gloriously punning title, I simply could not resist the urge to purchase it on the spot. I do not regret this purchase in the least.

Gaylene Ffrench fancies herself to be a great big opera star and refuses to hear anything to the contrary. But really, her opinion is bloated— she overacts all her parts, is nasty to her fellow cast members, and she sleeps around indiscriminately with every available male. For once, however, she really does give a sizzling performance—in fact, it’s downright electrifying. The problem is she doesn’t give it onstage, but backstage… after touching the doorknob of her dressing room and stepping on a metal doormat. The result? A jolt of electricity rushes through the despicable young lady, and she prematurely shuffles off this mortal coil. What makes this case particularly interesting is that several attempts have already been made on Gaylene’s life, and it looks like the assassin has succeeded at last.

There’s no lack of suspects whatsoever. Everyone in the company agrees that Gaylene was a most despicable person— not only was she arrogant and self-centered, she was also a racist bigot. She particularly was scandalized when Calvin, a black (but very English) member of the company gets engaged to Bridget, one of the girls (who happens to be white and Gaylene’s unofficial rival). However, Gaylene’s reaction may have stemmed just as much from the fact that her none-too-subtle sexual advances on Calvin were firmly rejected. But to be honest, just about anyone would have gladly done her in and the rest would just as gladly buy the killer a drink as a thank-you gesture.

Enter Superintendent Nichols, who as far as I can tell has not been reused by Barnard. It’s a shame. He’s an intelligent man and a competent investigator, and he has a genuinely happy, normal marriage. It is so normal, in fact, that he barely feels the need to comment on it! I don’t know if I’m the weird one, but I always find it so nice when somebody has a normal, content marriage. It’s so much more interesting than unending bouts of screaming, sarcasm, and cruelty. There’s a lot more to Nichols than meets the eye, but to reveal more would be to spoil a genuinely delightful plot twist.

Barnard delights in presenting his characters and then introducing a minor twist to them. When we first meet Calvin, he is presented as a completely ordinary fellow, and it is only after the second chapter that Barnard remembers to mention that he just so happens to be black. It’s the character’s greatest strength— he isn’t black for the sake of being black, he’s just an ordinary person who happens to be black. (Far too often, characters written expressly as black characters end up as embarrassments, which makes Barnard’s approach so refreshing.) While the colour of Calvin’s skin has affected him in ways he might not want to own up to, he doesn’t let himself get bogged down by traumatic memories.

Above all, though, Barnard constructs a complex and fairly-clued plot in the Golden Age tradition. He manages to plant some major clues that walked right under my nose without being noticed. For a few clues, you’d have to know your opera to spot the hint when it’s given, but you can still piece everything together while being blissfully ignorant of all things opera.

You actually want to know what happens to the characters. Unfortunately, only the central group of characters is really strong. A fistful of characters remain half-developed sketches because others, far more interesting, get more “screen time”. When so-and-so suddenly reminds you of the existence of this-and-that’s brother, it sometimes felt like a genuine shock as I struggled to remember just when the devil that character was introduced (before eventually finding him mentioned in the recesses of Chapter Six).

However, to make up for this weakness is Barnard’s storytelling style, which is full of genuine, delightful wit. This is the kind of author Gilber Adair thinks he is. Barnard has genuine respect for the traditional form of mysteries, but he takes delight in poking fun at some of their conventions. Here, that convention is the person so unpleasant that nobody minds their being murdered— in fact, the murder is treated as something of a lark… until a second murder takes place. Even then, nobody seems to mind Gaylene’s being gone, but people do take offense to having the second victim removed from their midst. Basically, Barnard completely trumps Adair’s approach, but a more detailed analysis would only result in a lot of well-deserved bile thrown in Adair’s direction. Instead, to calm myself down, I will content myself with mentally reciting a limerick about an old man from Khartoum.

Overall, Death on the High C’s is a witty triumph of plotting and ingenuity, with solid characters and clueing that make the proceedings very interesting indeed. I highly recommend the book.

Note: This review was originally written long before Robert Barnard’s tragic death earlier this year. Looking back at the review, I remember my delight when I first read the book and I can only wonder at why I haven’t gotten to more of Barnard’s books yet.

Patrick Ohl ©2013
Patrick Ohl is a 20-year old Canadian crime fiction aficionado who enjoys hobbies such as taxidermy and runs a dilapidated motel in the middle of nowhere alongside his crazed mother. He enjoys relaxing in his subterranean evil lair while watching his favourite hockey team, the Toronto Maple Leafs, and will occasionally make chicken chow mein to die for. His life is accompanied by a soundtrack composed by John Williams, and James Earl Jones provides occasional voice-overs.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Lady Sandra: More Christmas projects for teeny or adult

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Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: Song of the Day

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Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: The Best Books on Writing and Creativity of 2013

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WELCOME TO HELL ~ by Glenn Walker: C. Hope Clark's Tidewater Murder

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Big Daddy's Place: Sinker - Rex Kusler

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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Doctor Update

We are back home. Everything is pretty much the same so they are letting her skip coming down next week. Our next visit and blood work deal is on the morning of January 2, 2014.

I fell twice yesterday evening and once this morning spectacularly in the parking lot at the hospital so the rest of today I am staying flat on the floor and moving as little as possible. FFB for Friday has been setup for a couple of weeks now so you may not see anything new here until then.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Doctor Day Tomorrow

Blood work and the usual down at the Oncologist's office for Sandi. Going to be a long morning with, hopefully, no surprises.

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Cookbook Review: "Perfect Pies & More: All New Pies, Cookies, Bars, And Cakes From America’s Pie-Baking Champion" by Michele Stuart

Perfect Pies & More: All New Pies, Cookies, Bars, And Cakes From America’s Pie-Baking Champion is exactly as promised by the title. Plenty of recipes with few pictures are found in this over 240 page book. Broken into nine chapter sections the recipes run the gamut and feature varying amounts of prep time and difficulty.

After a short introduction the book opens with “Crusts & Toppings.” First up is the author’s “Traditional Pastry Piecrust” on pages 4-7. Along with the list of ingredients and instructions there are suggestions on other recipes to use this pie crust for as well as tips on how to do it well.  This same format continues throughout the book as well as with the other four crust recipes and three topping recipes of this chapter.

“Fruit Pies” begins on page 16 and opens with “Apple Carmel Crunch Pie”  I’m partial to blueberry as well as cherry pie and they are present here in the combined form of “Blueberry-Cherry Sugar-Free Pie (pages 28-29) as well a couple of other variations. A “Sugar Free Pumpkin Pie” (pages 52-53) is one of 13 other suggestions in this chapter.

If you prefer a cream filling in your pie that chapter appropriately titled “Cream Pies” comes next.  “Blueberry Cream Pie” (pages 59-60), “Chocolate Silk Pie” (pages 63-64) and an “Oreo Cream Pie” on pages 73-75 among nine other pies are in this chapter.

Maybe you prefer nuts in your pies. Six recipes make up the “Nut Pies” chapter section and include the “Candy Bar Pie (pages 89-90) and the “Turtle Pecan Pie (pages 98-100).

“Whimsical Pies” comes next and is all about celebrating anything and everything. Items such as the “Birthday Cake Surprise Pie” on page 106-109) blends a vanilla cake with a pastry shell. Or you could make the “Cannoli: Party Dip Pie” on pages 110-111 or the “Thin Mint Chocolate Cookie Pie” on pages 116-117.  There are seven more choices for your consideration in this chapter.

Moving on from pies of various types, “Cookies & Bars” comes next starting on page 132. Recipes for biscotti, cookies, and lots of treats are present in this chapter. “Snicker Doodle Cookies” (pages 162-163) and other favorites such as “Fudgy Brownies” (pages 170-171) are here.

If you are looking for a little booster in the middle or the afternoon with a cup of coffee or tea there are 11 suggestions in the section titled “Perfect for a Cup of Tea.”  It could be “Banana Tea Bread” (pages 182-183) or “Double Chocolate Bundt Cake” (pages 188-190) among others.

“Lovin’ Spoonful” comes next with “Apple Crisp” on pages 206-207 and “Old Fashioned Bake Rice Pudding” on page 215-216. There are four other recipes in short section.

The final chapter considers toppings with “Top This.” Along with “Hot Fudge Sauce” (page 223) and “Whipped Cream” with several variations (pages 228-229) there is one for “Royal Icing” (page 231) and others.

The book closes with a short acknowledgement section and six page index.

Using her experience winning 27 first place awards in the “National Pie Championship Awards” author Michele Stuart’s cookbook is another treat for the pallet. Lots of good ideas in Perfect Pies & More: All New Pies, Cookies, Bars, And Cakes From America’s Pie-Baking Champion featuring plenty of variety not only in terms of ingredients but also in terms of skill levels.

Perfect Pies & More: All New Pies, Cookies, Bars, And Cakes From America’s Pie-Baking Champion
Michele Stuart
Photographs courtesy of Ben Fink Photography
Ballantine Books (Division of Random House)
October 2013
ISBN# 978-0-345-54419-3
Hardback (also available for the Kindle)
256 Pages

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

Kevin R. Tipple ©2013
Author of Mind Slices and contributor to Carpathian Shadows, Volume II