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.

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: 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

Monday, August 17, 2015

UNCLOG YOUR HAPPINESS - A Practical Guide To Living Blissfully

By: David J. Ring III
Publisher: Worn Key Press
Genre: Self help
Rating: Average
ISBN: 9786169236221, $ 19.99, 90 pp.

Quoting from the back cover:

"Ever-searching, never finding, we continue a never-ending journey, hunting for happiness. New scientific research has shown that the way we think causes us to be unhappy. Modern gurus, like Eckhart Tolle, exclaim the blissful state of 'no-thoughts'--the power of now. But the directions and instructions for getting there are lacking. Unclog Your Happiness is a practical and simple guide to reaching that place--using meditation and self-inquiry to shut down the brain's happiness-inhibiting default network--and reclaiming the ultimate blissful existence. 

"With the techniques in Unclog Your Happiness, you will be able to:

-Remove stress and eliminate fears
-Overcome anxiety and depression

"Finally, learn how to experience the power of now and live life peacefully and blissfully."

There are many self-help books on the subject of happiness and how to obtain it. Does this book provide us with any new, significant insights into this mystery? I think not, but on a positive note, the guidance is presented in a logical, concise, brief manner with sincere intent. The book is well written and well edited. 

On the subject of happiness, Abraham Lincoln said, "People are as happy as they make up their minds to be." Buddha said, "Be ye a light unto thyself." And John Smith, a journalist, wrote, "Meditation is like practicing to be dead." So many perspectives. If it works for you, that's all that matters. 

Reviewed by Kaye Trout 8/17/2015

Monday, December 16, 2013


BioGeometry – Solutions to the Global Environmental Crisis
by Ibrahim Karim, Ph.D., Dr.Sc.
Genre: Educational
Rating: Exceptional
ISBN: 9781449963958, $24.52, 344 pp.

Quoting from the back cover:

-Bridging the gap between science & spirituality
-‘Geometric Alchemy’ in Architecture & Design
-Humanizing modern technology
-Harmonizing electromagnetic radiation
-Subtle energy secrets of the Great Pyramid
-An energy-based key to unlock ancient science
-Physics of Quality: Everything has a place in a universal symphony.”

To begin, Back to a Future for Mankind is a multi-dimensional text, similar to its subject matter—BioGeometry. At first glance, BioGeometry may seem overly complex to the average reader. However, Dr. Karim has presented his research and studies in a lay-reader-friendly manner to be understood by anyone who is interested in our global environmental crisis, the harmful effects of electromagnetic radiation—‘electrosmog’.

Back to the Future for Mankind is not a fast read…there is much to spark and hold your interest. When I said it was multi-dimensional, the primary chapters give you some idea: Bio Geometry (Worldview, Qualitative scales of measurement, Physics of Quality); Energy Secrets of the Pyramids; The Qualitative Side of Energy (What is Energy?); Shifts of Perception in Mankind (Carl Jung); Ancient Egypt (Isis and Osiris); The Great Shift (Can We Save Our Planet?); Ancient Knowledge; Appendices (The Process of Creating BioSignatures).

We live in a sea of vibrating energy…everything is moving and motion affects the environment. Shapes of objects have an effect on sound waves, stopping them, reflecting them or giving them additional qualities. This book will provide you with a contemporary vocabulary to help you understand the electromagnetic energy in which we live.

Back to the Future for Mankind is well written, well edited and presented in a professional manner to entertain and educate. It can be read for personal enlightenment or studied as an academic text. Whichever you choose, enjoy!

Kaye Trout – December 16, 2013

Monday, May 20, 2013

SAVING FAITH by Patrick M. Garry

Kenric Books, Eagan, MN
Genre: Fiction
Rating: Very Good
ISBN: 9780983370314, $14.95, 304 pp.

Quoting from the back cover:

“Because of a misguided medical diagnosis as an orphaned child, Jack Fenien was never adopted. Now, two years after leaving the orphanage, he works as a repossessor for a used car dealer.

“One night, he enters a bar looking for Ev Sorin, whose car Jack has mistakenly towed. Expecting violent anger, he is surprised when Ev reacts with indifference; but as Jack soon discovers, Ev – a disgraced journalist – has bigger problems on his mind.

“The next day, in the same courthouse to which Jack and Ev have gone to arrange for the release of Ev’s car from the impound lot, a nurse and young woman sit in a crowded courtroom opposite a row of lawyers, asking the judge to keep alive a comatose patient whose true identify is unknown but who has been given the name Faith Powers. After the hearing, Ev seeks out the nurse - not for years has he done a real story, and he feels a sudden urge to be a journalist again. It is an urge that will connect Jack with Clare, the troubled young woman who appears to have an almost fanatical attachment to Faith. Intrigued with Jack’s role as a repossessor, Clare sees him as a kind of modern moral prophet.

“Although the characters initially focus on investigating Faith’s real identity, they eventually come to use Faith as a catalyst for changing their own lives. But not until a seemingly random shooting occurs in the city do the characters become truly immersed in the mysteries of the patient and of each other.

Saving Faith is a rare accomplishment, a philosophical novel of ideas with an allegorical structure and popular appeal. Insightful satire and wit display the range of Garry’s fiction. His greatest appeal as a writer, beyond even his talent of allegory, is his overall perspective and elegiac tone, both here and in his deeply moving previous novel In the Shadow of War. His writing has a soul. It is redemptive and sustains a loving spirit of compassion, sacrifice and transcendence. Midwest Book Review”

Saving Faith is a novel that lingers in your mind, as though it were written by a Zen master. Are there happy endings, what is happiness, what is your perspective? It seems like a simple story until you try to relate it to someone and then its complexity surfaces. The heart of this novel and why it lingers is the orphan Jack Fenien’s perspective about life and love. Most of us are not orphans and have families which have had an impact on our lives. We are part of a family, have memories, photos, take it for granted and blame parents for our problems.

Yes, Saving Faith is a fictional novel; however, Patrick Garry does an excellent job of presenting a perspective on life from one no one wanted, one who understood disappointment at being rejected, one who saw casual sex as the making of more unwanteds. This is not your typical mystery-romance novel with a happy ending…it’s definitely more convoluted.

Patrick Garry is an excellent writer with a gift for connecting with his readers in a subtle yet provocative way. Saving Faith is well written, well edited, and highly recommended.

Kaye Trout – May 20, 2013