I specialize in reviewing Print-On-Demand (POD) published books for my website and Midwest Book Review. Please query for a review by email to hgunther234@hotmail.com.

Saturday, April 15, 2017


Author: Victoria Rose
Publisher: Starbright Press
Published: April 2017
Genre: Photo Art - Haiku Poems
Rating: Excellent
ISBN: 9781521036709, $25.00, 182 pp

The Patterns Collection is an anthology of the four photo/haiku poem books on patterns--Patterns in Nature, Patterns in Flowers, Patterns in Trash and Patterns - Man-made. It is a collection of eighty digitally modified photos plus eighty haiku poems.

Victoria Rose's digitally modified photos are unique from many perspectives--subject matter, technique. She takes simple, not particularly interesting or appealing subjects and turns them into art and then adds a little haiku poem for flavor. 

All proceeds from her books go to the Humane Society of Pagosa Springs, CO, and the Fund for Animals, an affiliate of the Humane Society of the United States.

There's not too much else to say, except vibrant and exciting and definitely worth the price. Besides enjoying it yourself, The Patterns Collection would make a wonderful gift for family and friends for any occasion.

Reviewed my Kaye Trout - April 15, 2017

Thursday, March 30, 2017

WIN/WIN in 7 Steps - MINDFULNESS Magnetizes Success

Author: Dr. Constance d'Angelis
Publisher: Starbright Press, Pagosa Springs, CO
Genre: Self-help Workbook
Rating: Very Good
ISBN: 9781520943060, $4.00, 46 pp

Quoting from the introduction:

"This beginners’ (introductory) interactive workbook is a result of live workshops.

Achieving success in any endeavor or shifting burdensome difficulties is much easier and more effective using MINDFULNESS techniques. This form of MINDFULNESS is presented through The 7 Laws © process.

Two more interactive workbooks are in the works! The WIN/WIN in 7 Steps, MINDFULNESS Magnifies Success series of workbooks build on each other.

In order to reach SOLUTIONS, or to take charge of personal or business activities The 7 Laws © process offers special “focus” mechanisms to enhance identifying obstacles to solution-oriented results; and releasing these impediments to MINDFUL success solutions.

The MINDFULNESS Magnifies Success series includes a MINDFUL JOURNAL and Spark Questions in addition to other cognitive skills and information. I will be posting some of the Spark Questions online to assist you in your focused attention triumph.

Take charge of your life and relationships; business; activities; and ardent, heartfelt endeavors.

Benefits of Beginner Workbook:
* Provide tools for you to achieve success.
* Choose one or more endeavors on which to focus and overcome any and all impediments to your success.
* This basic interactive workbook is designed to assist you in finding solutions that provide beneficial results.
Identify and Overcome Blockers to Success:

* Identify obstacles that keep you from reaching your goals and/or setting your objectives."

One of many self-help books available today, but this one is unique because the author, Dr. Constance d'Angelis, is an extraordinary woman with unique talents. 

WIN/WIN in 7 Steps is well written with lots of space and pages for self-reflection and guidance toward creating the life you want to live. Dr. d'Angelis is a consummate seminar leader and provides personal guidance.

If you're looking to change your life script, you might consider this workbook and its reasonable price. Yes, I can recommend WIN/WIN in 7 Steps.

Reviewed by Kaye Trout - March 31, 2017

Monday, March 27, 2017


Author: Victoria Rose
Publisher: Starbright Press
Genre: Photography Art - Haiku poems
Rating: Very good
ISBN: 9781520516219, $8.00, 50 pp

Patterns in Nature is a small collection of simple, not particularly interesting subjects which have been made interesting and unique with the assistance of digital photography. The subject matter includes cracks in the street, snow on rocks, dirty snow, bare trees, rocks, cattails in a pond. Next to each photo is a haiku poem. 

 Victoria Rose has taken these less than attractive subjects and with her unique perspective turned them into something beautiful: art worth displaying in your home.

Patterns in Nature is the first in her series on patterns. The book is well designed, has an attractive cover and would be a perfect gift for a friend or relative.

I highly recommend this book for all ages, and for a book of photographic art, the price is reasonable at $8.00.

Reviewed by Kaye Trout - March 27, 2017

Sunday, March 12, 2017

WHAT POETS USED TO KNOW: Poetics - Mythopoesis - Metaphysics

Author: Charles Upton
Publisher: Angelico Press / Sophia Perennis
Genre: Poetry - Metaphysics
Rating: Good
ISBN: 9781597311717, $17.95, 210 pp.

I am going to deviate from how I usually start my reviews (quoting from the back cover) in that the back cover information is basically endorsements for the book, and although they are right on, do not tell us much about the book or its author.

What Poets Used to Know is not an easy, light read in any manner, shape or form and probably will not appeal to the average reader. I am also from San Francisco, have a background in comparative religions, Homer, Basho, Kundalini Yoga, Carlos Castanada, Alan Watts, Gurdjieff and taught hatha yoga for many years and found this book quite a challenge.

It's an eclectic collection of twenty-one chapters having to do with poetry with a strong leaning toward the metaphysical. Allow me list some of the chapters: 1) Poetry, the Siege Perilous; 4) Mythopoesis; 7) The Metaphysical Uses of Metaphor, Kenning, Riddle and Rune in the Teutonic Tradition; 11) The Dark Side of Poetry: Terence McKenna, DMT, the Techno-Elves, and the Deconstruction of the Human Form; 12) Sufism, Spiritual Romance, and the Union of East and West; 14) An Exegesis of the Prologue to William Blake's The Marriage of Heave and Hell; 16) The City of Byzantium in the Symbology of William Butler Years: 19) The Curse of Poetic Subjectivism.

If you're a serious student of poetry or a seeker of truth on a spiritual path, you may find Charles Upton's writing of value, This book is not to be read lightly; it's more a book to be studied a little at a time. It is clear from the start that Charles Upton is an extremely well-educated, consummate writer and the quality of the book (its cover, paper, print, editing) are far above average. 

For the educated reader, a reader interested in metaphysical studies, What Poets Used to Know will be worth the time and energy, adding to their collective knowledge.

Upton quoted one of my favorite haiku poems from Japanese poet, Basho, to demonstrate phanopoeia (the power of poetry to make us see images with our mind's eye): "An old pond - Then a frog jumps in, Kerplop!" However, the interpretation with which I am familiar is slightly different: "The old pond - A frog jumps in - Plop!" Regardless, yes, you can see it in your mind's eye.

For the rest of us, much of what Upton has to say may not appeal to the average reader. You know who you are.

Reviewed by Kaye Trout - March 12, 2017

Sunday, February 19, 2017

RECOLLECTIONS - A Personal Journey

Author: Dr. Norman R. French
Publisher: Starbright Press
Pagosa Springs, CO (970) 731-5529
Genre: Memoir
Rating: Average
ISBN: 9781520525853, $12.00, 87 pp.

"Norm French, with a life-long love of animals, had a career as a nature photographer, ornithologist, radiation ecologist, computer modeler and international grassland biologist. This is the story of a sincere animal lover. Along the way, he was privileged to work with other scientists in several U.S. and foreign institutions - a stimulating and joyful journey."

Recollections is a memoir written by an 89-year-old man who lived an extraordinary life. It is written primarily as a record for his family. 

Dr. French is an educated man, a retired professor, and his memoir is well written and edited. The cover and interior were designed by Helena's Publishing Services, LLC.

If you enjoy autobiographies and memoirs, I'm certain you will find Recollections an enjoyable read.

Kaye Trout - February 20, 2017


Author: Victoria Rose
Published by: Starbright Press 
Genre: Fiction - Short Stories
Rating: Very Good
ISBN: 9781520571577, $5.00, 146 pp.

Quoting from the back cover:

"An Eclectic Collection - Short Stories is an anthology of four short stories: 

Nefertiti, a pulp fiction mystery introducing Archer "Ace" Hart, the best PI in Los Angeles City; Freedom, a story about two men in prison and a metaphysical journey; Blade, life as lived from the perspective of a blade of grass; and Choices, a story about a young woman who must make a difficult choice and the life she lived as a result of the choice she made."

An Eclectic Collection is a most appropriate title for this collection of short stories, as they are all quite different and unique.

Nefertiti is a mystery about stolen statues, counterfeit money, dead bodies and colorful characters. It takes place in Los Angeles around 1960 and is the first in the Archer Hart - Private Eye series. A fun and fast-paced read. 

Freedom is written in an unusual style, similar to Kiss of the Spider Woman by Manuel Puig, with no narrative or description, just dialogue between two men in a prison cell. Anciano is an old man who has recently been tortured, and Blade, the younger man, tells him stories to distract him from his pain. But, in the end, it is Anciano who helps Blade in his metaphysical journey to freedom.

If you like unusual writing styles with a metaphysical twist, you'll enjoy this story.

Blade is also quite unusual and from a unique perspective, with a dominant metaphysical element, somewhat like a fairy tale or parable by Einstein. You may or may not like or understand it.

Choices is about the life, or rather lives, Rebecca Rose lived as the result of her choice at a difficult time in her life. Each chapter (8) is the life Rebecca lived as a result of eight different choices.

No metaphysical element here, just a provocative reminder of the importance of "choices" in our lives.

Victoria Rose is an eclectic writer of fiction and nonfiction with fifteen books to her credit, all of which can be found on Amazon. Any proceeds from her books go to the Humane Society of Pagosa Springs, CO, and the Fund for Animals, an affiliate of the Humane Society of the United States.

Overall, I consider An Eclectic Collection - Short Stories to be well written, imaginative and an enjoyable read which I can highly recommend to all age groups, and the price is right.

Alana Watson - February 19, 2017

Monday, October 17, 2016

A FORTUNE IN JEWELS: A Josy Rose - Cat Burglar Novel

By: Victoria Rose
Published by: iUniverse
Genre: Fiction/Romance/Contemporary
Rating: Very good
ISBN: 9781532005121, $13.99, 176 pp.

Quoting from the back cover:

"Josy Rose is a young woman looking for a new direction in life, a new career. Her inner guide, Tariki, suggests that she become a cat burglar who steals only from the one-percenters to support animal shelters and sanctuaries, to be the Robina Hood for animal welfare. And having an element of irreducible rascality in her nature, Josy takes to the challenge.

"Her backyard neighbor, FBI Special Agent Nicolas Hawk, watches as Jo turns her backyard into a boot camp exercise course with a jogging path, trampoline, a wire from the roof, and ropes to climb up the house. When he sees her three-ring-circus routine, he's hooked and has to know, 'What the hell is going on?'

"Having watched Jo grow up for twenty-two years, Nick has felt like an invisible older brother. Now Josy's a young woman, and he's starting to have mixed feelings about her. When he joined the FBI, he made a list of rules for himself: No. 1 - No intimate relationships.

"One summer solstice night in Jo's hot tub changed everything."

A Fortune in Jewels is a fast paced, easy read about an important issue: animal welfare and animal rights. It's an eclectic mix of wit, romance, and adventure. 

Victoria Rose skillfully weaves factual information about white supremacists, petty theft laws, famous cat burglars, the Fund for the Animals, the Humane Society of the United States, the Center for Consumer Freedom, and the Cayman Islands throughout her third-person omniscient narration.

Rose's main characters come to life through their thoughts, feelings, and dialogue--internal and external. Josy Rose, the protagonist, is an unusual woman who takes on an unusual challenge.

As an accomplished writer, Victoria Rose excels at imagination, description, and surprise, and even though the plot may seem simplistic, the underlying message is designed to draw our attention to and inform us about animal welfare/rights issues.

Victoria Rose has published seven books: two nonfiction--Apple Cider Vinegar and Ladies Are You Lost? and five fiction--Into the Mystery of Life - Crystal Rose; Into the Mystery of Life - Pontella Rose; Into the Mystery of Life - Zorasteria Rose; Into the Mystery of Life - Tetralogy; and A Fortune in Jewels.

I highly recommend A Fortune in Jewels for its quality, wit, and uniqueness.

Alana Watson - October 17, 2016

Friday, May 27, 2016

MR. NOMAD - Tales of a Traveling Teacher

By: Dave Webb
Published by: Createspace
Genre: Memoir
Rating: Very Good
ISBN:978-1532862250, $12.00, 220 pp

I generally start a review by quoting from the back cover, and this is no exception.

"In his memoir, veteran elementary school teacher Dave Webb recalls some of the most memorable events from his nearly thirty years in education. His many travels as a teacher have taken him to dozens of public and private schools and have connected him and his classes with the likes of award-winning authors, Hollywood actors, and students from around the world. He invites everyone to learn from both is successes and failures in his often funny, sometimes heartbreaking tale of one man's teaching career."

Mr. Nomad is a memoir and very nicely done with short, interesting chapters, thirty four in total, not numbered but titled, such as "The Substitute's Survival Guide", "Best of Both Worlds", "The Angry Mom", "Things Kids Say", and "Classroom Publishing" to name a few, and presented in a chronological manner, starting with "First Days of School" and ending with "The Last Day of School".

 At the end of the book, Webb has an "Appendix I: Share Fair" in which he describes some "neat" teaching ideas which he has picked up over the years, and "Appendix II: The Bookends of My Career (1988 and 2030)" is fun as he recalls trivia from 1988 and then makes predictions for 2030, when he plans to retire. 

There's lots of variety, and some chapters are more fun and interesting than others, but that's personal taste. Overall, there is something here for everyone. 

It's clearly apparent that Dave Webb is a dedicated teacher with a gift for inspiring his students through his creative approach to teaching. It's also clear that Webb is an accomplished, serious writer with nine published books to his credit.

Mr. Nomad is well written and well edited, and if you enjoy reading memoirs, I'm certain that you'll enjoy the Tales of a Traveling Teacher.

Reviewed by Kaye Trout - May 27, 2016