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.

Monday, March 27, 2006

FISH OUT OF WATER by Felix Palmer

Fish Out of Water
Felix Palmer
Authors OnLine Ltd
40 Castle Street
Hertford SG14 1HR, England
ISBN: 0 7552 0172 8, $15.95, 280 pp, 2005

To begin, I do not recommend this book to readers who are not well read and do not read a lot, to readers who do not have an open mind, to readers who are offended by explicit sexual language and descriptions, and to readers who are not interested in thoughts which might challenge their perceptions of life. This fiction novel will disturb or excite, possibly both, but there’s no middle ground. . . like Cy’s mind.

What we have here is an attractive, middle-aged male protagonist, Cy, who can’t seem to find much joy in life, but enough, so as not to take his own. He really is quite detached, observing others and himself with a God-like perspective, from the beginning with his decision to kill a perfect stranger to get past his personal last taboo–murder–to near the end, where he does take a life--not premeditatively--with no guilt, remorse or consequence. The first page in the story gives us the essence of Cy and his problem. Allow me quote:

"One thing is clear, I must change radically in order to continue with my life. Murder is the first and the last taboo for me, which I must break in order to change, to move forward. Every one of us has a limit, a sort of last taboo, which limits him and defines his character, and I have only this last one. There are things I shall never do, nothing that would lower my self-esteem. Oddly enough I have a strong sense of right and wrong, which keeps me within bounds of moral conduct. I do not steal, lie, bear false witness . . . I do not fornicate. All this makes it nearly impossible for me to live. The way I am now makes life impossible. I cannot move forward. I can only maintain myself, just keep my head above the water. It is not enough to maintain the status quo. One must move forward, or else step aside. But this is the problem; there is no stepping aside when it comes to life itself."

Strangely enough, the act of murder does indeed make a positive change in Cy, and he is able to move forward. What do we make of that? Does he truly think he is God? . . . so it’s okay to take a life? But in his Godness, why did he never think to create anything? Is Cy's sense of his Godness an aberrant manifestation of the Hindu belief that "thou art THAT"?

It has been a belief of mine for some time that superior intelligence is not necessarily a wonderful gift. Intelligent people can know too much and often cannot find serenity and joy in life or within themselves. If the mind is a problem solver with an extremely limited perspective–one’s genetic history, personal experiences and environment–and one has an exceptional mind, I don’t envy that mind’s job.

The author shows us many things in our society that possibility we would rather not acknowledge, and Cy’s opinions about women, in general, are not very complimentary. In a way he sees ‘woman’ as the enemy in his conflict between his Apollonian nature and his Dionysian sexual appetites. He doesn't like how women use their sexuality to manipulate men, he doesn’t like sexually aggressive or active women, and he doesn’t like their odor.

The author has something to say, and to my ear . . . worth hearing . . . mainly because I'm a woman who will never have the experiences of a man, and through such a book as this, I might possibly catch a glimpse of life from this man’s perspective. Palmer weaves his knowledge of philosophy, psychology, and religion through this simple, journal-like story–a good contrast–reminiscent of Leo Tolstoy’s technique in his story, Confession.

I'm a voracious reader, easily reading ten to twelve books a month, and this book plain stopped me. There’s not much out there these days off the popular fiction genre mill which has much to say, most is just light distraction. Not only does Felix Palmer have something to say, but his gift for description is exceptional.

There is a darkness and heaviness about this book--a down-and-dirty honesty, which I personally like. When you hold it in your hands, you can feel it. I knew before I even opened the book . . . that it was not going to be an easy read. It is not filled with light, breezy dialogue but with large blocks of journal-like prose. Now I am going to include some excerpts so that you can make up your own mind if this book and the author’s style might appeal to you.

The first excerpt is from page 14:
The ordinary semi-emancipated woman believes that by telling the truth about her past she can wash herself clean. It is a mixture of cleansing through confession, as well as exciting the interested male by telling him the details of her sexual behavior pattern and habits. It usually works. The man becomes excited and dreams of having the attractive sinner. . . Once implanted in your mind, it makes you go through the details again and again, fantasizing and hoping to realize your fantasies soon. It is as effective as subliminal persuasion applied by a skilled hypnotist. It numbs the better judgment of the infatuated male.

Second excerpt is from page 58:
One gets used to everything. This is why the life of the ordinary man is so banal. I was not an ordinary man, but sick, disturbed. I knew that I was insane, and yet I was functioning like a normal person. But what is normal? In southern California it means running after money and consumption. Yes! It is a strange feeling, to come to realize that one is not quite sane. Only a few months ago I was so sure of myself, my resolution to murder a perfect stranger, and yet . . .

Third excerpt is from page 61:
In the criminal world I am a Don Quixote. Really! I am even more ridiculous than Maurice. At least he knows how to deal with his problems, but I . . . The thought of Don Quixote came back to haunt me. I am insane. Yes I am insane. I know it, but how? How can I know that I am crazy? Even a skilled doctor has a difficult time bringing his neurotic patient to face reality, to realize that he is sick, to become conscious of what is actually happening in his psyche. How is it possible for me to come to such a revelation? I have all the typical characteristics of a criminally insane individual, of a homicidal maniac. This innate sense of superiority to others, this inner self looking down at everyone, is the essence of the criminal mind. But how is it that I am still functioning as a normal person; well, almost. I am maintaining myself, taking care of my bills. I have an excellent credit rating. I have a job. So what, that I don’t like my work. Who likes working? Work means doing something necessary, regardless of one’s personal predilections. Work is a must for all of us who have no capital. I have no capital.

Fourth excerpt, speaking of Friedrich Schlegel’s work, is from page 90:
Then I remembered his writings on irony: the astonishment of the thinking mind over itself. It is the result of the feeling of being finite, and of knowing one’s own limitation; in truth, the irony of love. Why . . . there . . . there was the source of my feeling of superiority, and not just that, but also the kernel, out of which the true criminal sprouts. I was a true criminal. I was trying to negate my own self, the very same self, whose essence was realization of its own private being with all its limitation. Yes . . . I was insane, because I identified with God. I believed in me alone, alone as God. This is why I had become a furniture salesman. I could have taken any job, because I did not identify with the world around me, but only with the absolute nothingness in the inner world. In my innermost being I had become one with God. This is why I could not have sex with Cathy. That is why she repelled me as a sexual animal. How could I go through the act while God was watching me? It was God taking full possession of me. There was no room for Eros. I was Thanatos. Oh, those Greeks! How could they manage both?

The last excerpt from page 2 is, for me, the essence of the book:
Everything takes time. I must be patient and wait for the right moment. Above all I must learn one thing, this is, not to miss the right moment. It is not easy to grasp the moment. Anyone who has challenged the everyday routine understands that to grasp the moment is like controlling one’s dream, giving it a definite direction, an almost impossible task. There never has been, nor will there be, anyone to help. In a dream one is alone. It is like creating oneself out of nothing. Life is predictable, but only up to a point. The moment something unpredictable occurs, something sudden happens, the instant in which one must act spontaneously, one finds oneself in a dream-like state. Those who practise in front of the mirror, believing that they can prepare themselves beforehand, are just clowns. One cannot rehearse one’s own ultimate self in front of a mirror. One can never be prepared to face the unknown.

Fish Out of Water is not an enjoyable book, and I don’t think it was meant to be. It is, however, provocative and held me, regardless . . . although by page 200 I had reached a point of saturation. I do not pretend that I understood everything the author had to say, and I can understand why people might want to read it a second time, particularly readers who are interested in ideas and different perspectives about life, religion and sexuality.

As this review has become quite lengthy, I will just touch on some items not addressed: 1) Why did Cy so dislike abstract art when he could understand abstract thought? 2) Elements of humor . . . when bored, pulled out all your guns. 3) The irony in Cy's new-found sense of normalcy and motivation which was dependent in large part upon his satisfying sexual relationship with a younger, sweet-smelling, exotic, submissive woman. Whatever gets it up, and could it be? . . . he's still playing God.

I know nothing about Felix Palmer except that he was in Berlin, Germany, when he sent me the book. He has chosen not to include any information about himself in the book or on the internet. Therefore, I would like to close with what he chose to include on the back cover: "They are geese crying out loud. This is all. You see . . . language does not speak about what actually ‘is’, but always expresses what ‘is not’. It calls out something from nothing. Language speaks about nothingness."

Therefore, we can conclude that Felix Palmer has worked very hard and long to create this disturbing, exciting, controversial work of nothingness.

Review by Kaye Trout - March 27, 2006 - Copyright

Friday, March 24, 2006


The Legend of Juggin Joe
Joseph Yakel
Lulu Press, Morrisonville, NC
Publisher’s website:
Author’s website:
Genre: Fiction/Humor
ISBN: 1411625889, $10.25, 124 pp, 2005

Are you a fan of Mark Twain? Do you enjoy reading books written in the vernacular of different cultures or regional areas? If you do, you just might want to try this little book.

The story is about Joe, the 10th child of Doc and Isabel Jeckel's 11 children, who all live in the Heldeberg Mountains around Westerlo, upstate New York. Joe was thought to be a bit touched until his talent to make beautiful music with his jug ‘Isabel’ surfaced when he was sixteen years old. Joe and Florentine Sheppard fell in love at an early age, but Parson Sheppard, her father, forbade them to have any contact. I don’t want to tell you the whole story, but I do need to include some of the excerpts which had tears runnin' down by cheeks for the last half hour of the book (not tears of sadness but for the beauty of heart-felt honesty, community and family) and to illustrate what the author calls ‘country-speak’ dialogue, the hooker for those so inclined.

Parson said, "Fer a long time, muh heart wuz hardened ‘gainst yah Joe, an’ I done muh best tah keep yah an’ Florentine parted. I could see the feelins yeh two young’uns had wellin up inside. Quite honestly Joe, finding’ yah an’ Florentine tahgether after yer sister Sarah’s weddin, well, it done caught me off’n muh guard, an’ scairt me at the same time." Lookin over tah Florentine, he said, "Muh reaction wuz tah pertect her the best I thought tah do. I suppose I thought if'n I could jes’ keep yah apart long ‘nuff, yer feelins would change fer one ‘nother, an’ thins would be alright. . . Now, I cain’t use that pertection as an excuse–Lord knows yer maw an’ pap done raised yah right," he said as he looked over tah Joe's folks.

"I know that Florentine an’ yah didn’a do nuthin wrong Joe, but I come down hard on yah–too awful hard, lookin back on it, ‘specially as a man who preaches the Good Word tah all these folks ever Sunday.". . .

"Fer years I come between yah both, an’ took away yer happiness, an’ lessened that ah yer families an’ friends." Lookin at both ah them, the Parson said, "I wronged yah Joe, an’ I wronged yah Florentine. I’m sorry, an’ I’ll never let muh ire come between yah ‘gain. I’m makin muh change, here an’ now, if’n yah’ll allow it." Lookin tah each ah ‘em, he offered, "I’d like tah have yer forgiveness Joe, an’ Florentine, an’ Doc an’ Isabel, if yah can find it in yer hearts after how I treated yah."

After he said his piece, the Parson stood there quiet. The whole ah the congregation wuz stunned an’ silent, theys minds reelin’ with what they jes’ heard. The Parson done opened up an’ bared his heart an’ soul fer ever last one ah us tah behold, an’ the effect wuz overwhelmin’. Jaws wuz a hangin on ‘bout ever livin body in the place.

By now, I managed tah look on over tah where Florentine wuz a settin, an’ could see she wuz a weepin in silence. Up ahead ah me, Isabel had ‘er head leanin on Doc’s shoulder, an’ I could see she wuz shudderin as well.

An’ then, Joe stood up from his spot, an’ come on out intah the main aisle. He took a couple ah steps toward the Alter where the Parson wuz standin, an’ put out his hands.

I’m ‘fraid if’n yuh want tah know what Joe said, yah’ll just have tah put out $10.25 to buy the dang book.

The cover by Jonathan Fesmire is particularly attractive and unique. I love the cute frog hangin' out of Joe's back pocket on the back cover. There are little drawings throughout the book which add to the humor, and it's very clear that this book was a true labor of love, with much attention to detail.

Joseph Yakel provides us with some autobiographical information about himself. He did grow up in the Heldeberg Mountains, is a retired Federal Army Chief Warrant Officer, and has written two books about genealogy, and numerous articles on electronic technology, military history and leadership. The Legend of Juggin Joe is his first "situational humor" book, and if it’s at all autobiographical . . . well, then I say, "Bless your sweet soul, Joe."

Reviewed by Kaye Trout - March 24, 2006 - Copyright

Thursday, March 23, 2006

THE BINDING OF ISAAC by Michael Shocket

The Binding of Isaac
Michael Shocket
Authors OnLine Ltd
40 Castle Street
Hertford SG14 1HR, England
ISBN: 0 7552 1012 3, $14.95, 247 pp, 2004

There are a number of books with the title The Binding of Isaac or the Akedah, a primary symbol in Jewish thought, tradition, culture, and liturgy–the story of God’s command to Abraham that he sacrifice his first-born son, Isaac, to Him as a burnt offering.

The paradox being . . . if cherished, why sacrificed, and if sacrificed, in what way cherished?

This book, The Binding of Isaac, is a contemporary novel which takes place in England. The pivotal character Abraham is an orthodox Jew who has lost his faith after his son, Isaac, who suffered brain damage at birth, is sentenced to prison for the rape and attempted murder of his step-sister. Peter, a Nigerian barrister, and the son of Josiah, an African vicar, represents the boy in an appeal and falls in love with Rosie, Isaac’s younger sister. The fathers, Josiah and Abraham, one a devout Christian and the other an orthodox Jew, both at variance with fundamentalism, establish a unique friendship.

I felt many things as I read this book: tones of Fiddler on the Roof to, strangely, Cinderella with poor Isaac as Cinderfella. Isaac’s step-mother, -sister, and -brother were truly the source of Isaac’s hellish life. I particularly liked how the author wrote from a first-person perspective for each character and how he handled the sexuality throughout, the acceptable and unacceptable, in a contemporary erotic manner, very tastefully done.

Now, I’m going to include two excerpts to illustrate Michael Shocket’s style and give you a feel for the heart of his story as spoken by Abraham. The first excerpt is from pages 14-15:

The new Abraham can no longer accept the divinity to whom he prayed so devotedly for most of his life. As a matter of fact, these days I find the sight of my former colleagues swaying in unison whispering, shouting . . . all this now seems ludicrous, and, as for the words they mouth . . . well, most of them, as far as I am concerned, are unacceptable.

For instance, at the holiest time of the year, on the Day of Atonement, we ask who may die of this, of that . . . but affirm our faith that piety and prayer will avert "the evil decree." Well, my friend, in the face of actual events, if you believe that, you can believe anything.

As for this omnipotent being before whom we kneel and abase ourselves in supplication . . . what sort of power have we created? To my mind God – whose name we dare not mention, so we call him hashem, "the name" – is a being who must divert himself creating wonderful creatures and then playing cruel games with them. He gives the hare sensitive large ears to become aware of danger, and the ability to run away from his attacker at great speed. Then he endows the huge cat with even greater speed and cunning. I suppose the God of our bible watches the chase with the same enjoyment as you probably watch a game of football. But here the contest ends for the hare in either survival or a gruesome death. So does the fate of this hunted creature – of us all – depend ultimately on no more than a whim . . . that when my son, Isaac was born . . . when life was breathed into his soul for his entire span on earth . . . he should be cursed with irreparable brain damage? . . .

I’ve come to the conclusion that the main cause of the blackest pages in history can be attributed to that misguided faith which urges man to suppress all moral feeling–to commit atrocities in the name of "obedience", whether it is to a human or supposedly divine command.

In this second excerpt, Abraham is having a conversation with his friend Nathan Adler, principal of the Jewish boarding school for children with learning disabilities where Abraham teaches–pages 158-159:

"So you do believe in a Creator."

"No! I can’t! This is where I remain confused. The traditional concept of all religions is the existence of a super being capable of creation and control over the destiny of man. Would you say, Nathan that God created man in His image?

He reflects a moment, then rather hesitantly nods his head.

"Well, I’d say the opposite: that it was man who created God in his."


"Well, what kind of a deity does that give us? Would you agree that the bible presents a being of supreme power?"

"Of course."

"But how is that power exercised? In the light of known history I’d consider it vindictive, unjust, unsympathetic, cruel . . . Need I go on? Do I have to give you – a Jew – examples? To be honest, my friend, what kind of God has man created–in his own terrible image?" . . .

"So – if I retain my belief that I have a soul – that the known universe is not all there is – that beyond human understanding there is a supernatural dimension – I must look elsewhere than in the bible for an explanation – knowing however that no human being limited with five senses could find it! It’s beyond us. As far as mankind is concerned there is no ultimate truth

This story has historical depth and religious honesty. Besides Abraham’s loss of faith, it addresses the problems and pleasures of sexuality; the pain from religious, racial and social prejudice; the negative attitudes towards people with learning disabilities; and, on the positive side, three bitter-sweet, interwoven love stories–life in the real world, you might say. If you’re an intelligent reader who wants something more than the popular books off the formula genre mill, I promise . . . you will not be disappointed.

Dr. Michael Shocket is a retired lecturer living in Hertfordshire. He is a member of the Council for Christians and Jews and states that his religious views are reflected in the pivotal character of Abraham. This is his first novel, and it is an excellent read. Dr. Shocket has written several text books published by the Cambridge University, poems in various magazines, and his autobiography, Know Me Tomorrow.

Review by Kaye Trout March 23, 2006 - Copyright

Monday, March 20, 2006


Inherit the Tide
Ken Boire
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 S. Parker Rd. #515, Parker, CO 80134

Rating: Excellent - Highly Recommended
ISBN: 1-59800-152-3, $14.95, 208 pp, 2005

Absolutely wonderful! Beautifully written, sensitive and touching.

Little ten-year-old Hecky learns of his Native American heritage through his Grandma’s stories while he is slowly recuperating from an accident. They sit by the warm stove while she spins her tales of Arctic adventure, the sea, romance, and the pioneers of early lumber-town Seattle.

I want to give you an idea of Ken Boire’s writing style and gift which I can only do by quoting excerpts. I like to include excerpts in my reviews because we all have different tastes and must decide for ourselves what we like and what we do not, what we think is good writing and what is not. Once in a blue moon we might be favored to come across something quite exceptional. After you have read the excerpts below, I hope you too will agree that his writing is something quite special, as is the author’s spirit.

First excerpt–page 4:

She ruffled the pillow behind me and placed a cup of hot cocoa in front of me and combed her fingers through my hair again. I didn’t hurt inside anymore. "Grandson, I will tell you how you have the spirit of the wind and tide, and why you are strong like the sea. Your history is rich with adventure and triumph but also has brushes with ne’er-do-wells, criminals, and outright failures. This story starts one hundred years ago, far away, to the north of here in the high Arctic near the top of the world. It has adventure, love, and hate. Listen carefully, for this is your story and someday you must tell it to another generation, too." She leaned back in her chair, close to my side now, with shoes off and stocking feet extended past mine toward the cook stove, and began her story in her warm, low voice, a cello.

Second excerpt–pages 198-199, the Grandma speaking of her parents:

"My parents were deeply in love with each other and shared a glowing mutual respect. When Val died, my mother could hardly bear up under the pain. They had been best friends, like one person, and when he died, some of her died, too. She never recovered from it.

"The winter following his death, she took a trip by herself to the Arctic. Perhaps she was looking for his spirit there, for inside she was still a native and they have a different way of thinking about the dead. She made the trip up north by steamer in the late summer, and when she got there the coming of winter was in the air. She stayed on, and found someone to take her to a village in the direction of the place where she had lived as a child. She wrote to me that she would sit for hours outside and watch the northern lights and listen to the wind bringing in the winter. When the long winter night came and the sea had frozen over, she said goodbye to everyone and left a letter behind for me. She wandered alone out on the sea ice. She never came back.

"In that letter she wrote the poems I recited to you earlier. I have read the letter so many times I have it in my memory. She also wrote, ‘You are born of the wind and the tide. You are the result of a man so strong and loyal I cannot bear to be without him. He is part of me, and soon he and I shall be together again. Your life will go on as it must, for you have great things to bring to this world. Among them must be the legacy to all that follow us, that they too are creatures of the wind and the tide, and within them they have the strength of the ocean.’"

Ken Boire, a Native American, claims that he was born facing the wind on the icy shores of the Bering Sea. He lives in Beaverton, Oregon, and is a consulting economist specializing in natural resource issues. Inherit the Tide is his debut novel and his next book is titled In the Company of Fishers.

Review by Kaye Trout - March 20, 2006 - Copyright

Thursday, March 16, 2006

THE FAMOUS FAKES by J. D. Guinness

The Famous Fakes
J.D. Guinness
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Rd - 515, Denver, CO, USA
ISBN: 1598000497, $10.95, 170 pp, 2005

The funniest book I have read since Kurt Vonnegut’s Hocus Pocus. I couldn’t stop laughing, even when I wasn’t reading.

A subtitle for this book might be Oliver Hardy, Stan Laurel, Charlie Chaplin and Mae West in Bed-busting Slap Shtick or Olympic Endurance Champion Paul Stanley's search for love, self and his favorite 1981 Playboy centerfold.

In the Author’s Note he states that he did not censor the recollections of these creative, highly individualistic, professional celebrity impersonators, and that he tried to be true to the spirit of the Famous Fakes–their bravery, openness, exuberance, humor, and lies. He clearly states that this tell-all biography is intended for adult readers only. "If this were a CD, it’d say PARENTAL ADVISORY, EXPLICIT CONTENT, which would capture some of the rock’n roll outlaw attitude of our heros."

Allow me to quote from the back cover–a succinct synopsis of the essence of this story:

"Celebrity impersonators. Do they really love to do it, or do they really do it for love?

Meet the Famous Fakes – known publicly as Stan, Oliver, and Charlie (and privately as Paul, Jean, and Steve). They’re three self-proclaimed "studs" (and world-proclaimed "losers") in a three-man theatrical company.

Desperate for a break, they’re ready to do just about anything to take their particular "boys’ club" on the road. But to let a woman join them? On stage, yet?! That’s only asking for trouble . . . isn’t it?

A "backstage pass" that even gets you into their beds, The Famous Fakes is a wild, sexy comic novel for adults. Read it, and find out why, before you can "be yourself", you might just have to "do" everyone else!"

Paul Stanley (Stan Laurel) was the writer in the group with some serious sex issues–little success with women and a fixation on large breasts–possibly the result of being nursed by his mother until the age of eight. After a romp with Caitlin, an older woman who thought he was a male prostitute provided for her birthday, he begins to think he’s a total failure at relationships, and I quote:

"Guess he’d had this coming. Yes, his entire life had been misspent. An emphasis on fucking, not friendship, sex, not soul, cock, not career. And so the inevitable: life without love. To Paul, the real tragedy of life was the shortness of an orgasm (Perhaps this being his idea of tragedy explained everything)."

When Karla Krawchuk joined the group as Mae West and the Famous Fakes had a violent falling out in front of the audience on opening night of the Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival, where they were to present I Ordered Custard Pie, Now Let Me Have It, the results were skyrocketing. The review from W.A. Dykk, who had trashed them previously, read:

"This is the single greatest thing I have ever seen in the theatre. A violent, vulgar, hilarious, interactive explosion of rage, despair and sexual nihilism. Pie reflects the decay of pop culture and the lack of any truly original ideas in all modern art, manifest in its main characters, those most pathetic of creatures, Professional Celebrity Impersonators. The cast is uniformly venomous and brilliantly real. Pie suggests that the only way out of our current cultural ennui is to rip up and tear down our current idiotic obsessions with celebrity, Hollywood-type sex, fame, and nostalgia. To go completely, foul-mouthed and foaming-mouthed mad in order to be sane. To be real. By trashing celebrity-hood and thus rejoicing in our own speech and our own sexual pleasure, in short, by not being afraid of what other people might think, we have a shot at real happiness. This is powerful stuff. This is the New Famous Fakes. Pie is no trifle."

"People who followed their career tend to agree that the real legacy of the Famous Fakes is this: You can do anything you want. You can go to the moon. You can score the winning goal in the Stanley Cup playoffs. You can star in a full-length feature film. You can make love to a beautiful woman. You can marry that woman. People have. People do. The thing is, the moon won’t come to your house. The Stanley Cup won’t wish you a happy birthday . . . ."

"But isn’t it odd, that to simply make love, and to have someone make love to you, from the first erection to the last eruption, is the so-called "dirtiest" thing we hear and yet it’s also the most wonderful thing we feel! When you’re making love, you know for certain what’s right! Taking a chance, letting yourself go . . . ."

It is my opinion that The Famous Fakes is one of many books which will come our way with unique insights to help break down and through our fears and hang-ups about sexuality, loving, and the joy of life–to help us laugh and not take it all so seriously.

J.D. Guinness lives with his wife and daughter in Winnipeg, Canada. He is a multi-talented writer, director, producer, and as you can see from the excerpts I’ve quoted, he is an accomplished professional writer. The Famous Fakes is his first book, and I say, well-done and thanks for the good time!

Do I recommend this book to a mature audience? As Stan would say, "I cer-tain-ly do."

Reviewer: Kaye Trout - March 16, 2006 - Copyright

ORIGIN IN DEATH by J.D. Robb/Nora Roberts

Origin in Death
J. D. Robb/Nora Roberts
G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY, 10014, USA
ISBN: 039915289X, $24.95, 339 pp, 2005

In July 1995 J.D. Robb, aka Nora Roberts, published her first "in death" book, Naked in Death. Since then she has written twenty-two novels and two novellas in this continuing series about Lieutenant Eve Dallas, a futuristic NYPD homicide detective; Roarke, her gorgeous, wealthy Irish husband, and Eve's crime-fighting team. These novels are quintessential police procedural mysteries, with a twist of humor, pyschodrama, sex and sensitivity.

Prior to reading this entire series, I had a fear of reading books about the terrible things people do to each other, how we use our wonderful imagination to create pain and terror. I actually used this series to confront my fears and to get past them, for within this series you will find every possible, imaginable form of evil.

Each novel certainly can stand alone; however, I read the series in chronological order, which I highly recommend for maximum enjoyment. You will quickly grow to know and love all her characters--Peabody, her partner; McNab, Peabody’s tall, skinny loveman; Mavis, her radically-clad, extroverted, singer friend; Summerset, Roarke’s majordomo and thorn in Eve’s side--to name a few.

After reading this series, I can now read anything gruesome or frightening–stalking, dismemberment, blood everywhere, revenge, torture, whatever–and find it prosaic compared to these novels. Now, back to Origin In Death.

It is year 2059 in New York City and someone has murdered reconstructive and cosmetic surgeon, Dr. Wilfred Icove. The victim was found in his office with one clean stab wound to his heart and no evidence of a struggle. The case turns bizarre when Wilfred’s son dies in the same manner. In both cases they seem to have trusted their killer. Eve's instincts tell her that the father and son had a hidden dark secret and that the motive for the murders . . . had its origin in death.

J.D. Robb/Nora Roberts’s writing is consistently excellent. She is a consummate artist in any genre–romance, mystery, thrillers, fantasy, science fiction–you name it, she can write it. Since her first book, Irish Thoroughbred, published in 1981, she has written over 300 novels. You won’t be disappointed.

Reviewer: Kaye Trout - March 16, 2006 - Copyright

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

SHADES OF TRUTH by Charlie Hudson

Shades of Truth
Charlie Hudson
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Rd - 515, Denver, CO, USA
Website: http://charliehudson.net
ISBN: 1598000934, $12.95, 246 pp, 2005

If you were to mix a spunky female detective into a police procedural, add a little romantic tension, and finish it with a twist, you might have Shades of Truth.

The author hooks you solid from the start, and I quote from the opening:

"Warren stared at the pistol–a small one, all things considered. Damn, why hadn’t he seen it coming? It was a stubby piece that hadn’t made so much as a bulge in Johan’s briefcase. Hell, he hadn’t even blinked when he reached in and pulled it out.

"Now, Jonah," he said in a surprisingly steady voice as he clutched the edge of the massive black walnut desk to keep his hands from trembling. "There’s no call for this.""

Of course, there’s nothing new about mystery genre–you have a bad guy who is pursued by a good guy or gal, as this case may be. But what is new and unique and the challenge for the writer is the telling–those unexpected twists and turns that keep you turning the page. Charlie Hudson’s plot is solid, her characters come alive, the setting is real, and her style is smooth and colorful. She’s clearly an accomplished writer. Allow me to quote from the book’s webpage:

"Finding a corrupt, manipulative politician beneath a charming exterior is nothing unusual. Unraveling the connection to a twenty year old suicide and linking him to a string of present day bodies is another matter. Police Detective Bev Henderson of Verde Key, Florida doesn’t care that rising star State Senator Warren Randall belongs to a wealthy and powerful family. What she does care about is a missing woman, a dead accountant and people who think they can paint the truth in shades other than black and white."

This is her third novel, and other books by the author include Orchids in the Snow, Shades of Murder, and The Parent’s Guide to Business Travel. You can find out more about Charlie Hudson at http://charliehudson.net.

Reviewer: Kaye Trout - March 14, 2006 - Copyright

Sunday, March 12, 2006

TRANS-LIGHT-ELEMENT by Michael Irvin Bosley

Trans-Light Element - The Open Door
Michael Irvin Bosley
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Rd - 515, Denver, CO, USA
ISBN: 1598002309, $10.95, 154 pp, 2005

This science fiction story is about the Reuel family–their daily lives, beliefs, problems, and challenges. Dr. Gamiel Reuel, a scientist, and his son, Ben–following in his footsteps–make a significant discovery which changes their lives immediately and will change the world, ultimately. This is the first book in a series about the Trans-Light-Element (TLE), a new element.

As I’m not an avid science fiction reader, I have to admit that some of the technical jargon at times was beyond me. However, I did understand that three fields–the electromagnetic, the gravitational, and the nuclear–had come together in critical mass ratios which caused an accident. I was hooked by page 10 when I read:

"You see, Ben, it’s a matter of mass. Time is a function of the gravitational field of our planet. I suspect it is even more a function of our Sun’s gravitational field; but my point is this. Time is not a constant. It changes rates and fluctuates depending upon our relationship to gravity fields around us. To those of us in earth’s gravity field, no rate changes can be monitored because we all change together. Gravity is a function of mass."

To readers who avoid fiction because they think it’s trivial and of no value, I say . . . you don’t know how to read or what you’re missing. Although this book is primarily about an accidental discovery, and the subsequent danger to Dr. Reuel’s family, allow me to quote from the heart of the story:

""Ben let out his breath and said, "Here we go again. So, what is our plan?"

"Ben, we are going to give ourselves a little buffer time. We have reached a time in our nation’s history when the political climate that faces us is quiet sophisticated and corrupt. Under the law, we still enjoy freedoms and privileges guaranteed by the Constitution; however, where power and money are concerned–individuals have opportunity to abuse both. In many cases, by the time the courts have a chance to react to redress grievances, irreversible damage is done. It was not the intention of our founding fathers that ordinary citizens should wait around to become victims of abuse. We are agents of liberty with the right to act to avoid and prevent such abuse. In situations like this, there are two kinds of people, victims or victors. People develop a habit of being one or the other."

Ben nodded his understanding. He had noticed how some people seem to thrive on waving their ‘I am a poor victim flag.’

Gamiel continued, "The Constitution continues to serve us well; but there never was a time in the history of our nation when power did not threaten to steal our freedoms. It has been a continuous struggle. Many brave Americans have sacrificed their lives to bear this precious gift to the next generation. Freedom is not free, and we must always carefully balance our enjoyment with a willingness to do what is necessary to preserve the Constitution–even in the face of personal disaster."

Ben nodded as they both continued working.

Gamiel continued talking. He was on a roll. "I took an oath in the Navy to do just that–defend the Constitution against all enemies, both foreign and domestic. When I left the military to become a civilian, I was released from that legal obligation; but now I have a higher obligation–as a citizen, in the spirit of the intent of our Fore-Fathers, to do all I can to preserve individual freedom and dignity weighed against the demands of the body politic.""

As you can surmise from the quoted excerpts above, Michael Bosley is an accomplished writer who has something to say and says it well. His POD published book has been attractively designed and produced. This book will appeal to science fiction readers and those looking for a continuing, suspenseful mystery.

Reviewer: Kaye Trout - March 12, 2006 - Copyright

Monday, March 06, 2006


I Saw Heaven Opened
David Andrew
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Rd - 515, Denver, CO, USA
ISBN: 1598000454, $29.95, 199 pp, 2005

Allow me to quote from the book’s webpage: "What happens before birth? What happens at death? What is the meaning of existence in this world of violence and suffering. What is the meaning of Christ: His death and resurrection? What do the events of our lives tell us? What is our future? How does freewill operate on this physical plane. How do we know we are on the right path?

This novel, rooted in truth and fact, details the life of Andrew as he searches to find the answers to these questions. His quest leads him in spirit to encounter an entity named Uraeus who helps him understand and accept the muddle and riddle of existence without platitude."

Andrew’s search is related in a manner similar to Carlos Castaneda’s The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge and Dan Millman’s The Way of the Peaceful Warrior. If you find such books inspirational in your own personal search, you may want to add I Saw Heaven Opened to your collection. It certainly addresses contemporary problems in our society. The story carried me right along, although sometimes I felt like I’d stepped into The Sound of Music.

The author writes: "Since age 14, I have sought to experience God. My journey has been one of rebellion, personal failure, and now a wonderful period of growth as I move into my middle sixties."

He forewarns the reader that the depiction of events in Andrew’s life are realistic, and the language can be raw and shocking at times.

This is good writing–as well it should be–for David Andrew has a M.A. in English and a strong background in biblical studies. His vocabulary is colorful, challenging, and I love going to the dictionary to learn a new word.

Reviewer: Kaye Trout, March 6, 2006 Copyright

Saturday, March 04, 2006

THE LARSKY GANG by Stefan S. Mosley

The Larsky Gang
Stefan S. Mosley
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Rd - 515, Denver, CO USA
ISBN: 1932672516, $12.95, 246 pp, 2005

Robert Caldwell was a loving father and husband whose life was destroyed in a flash of fate. He saw his family shot to pieces when he was apprehended on a bogus charge of drug trafficking. Federal Judge Andrew Larsky, Attorney Larry Flanagan, Chip Rheinfeld, and George Ramsey were the four men responsible for his years of hell in San Quentin State Prison where he was raped nightly. The sentence was twenty-five years, but he saved the life of guard Jim McAuliffe and reentered society after serving nineteen.

After all those years of humiliation and degradation, he was initially at a loss after being released (I would be too and personally would not have survived nineteen years of nightly rape). He got on a bus for San Francisco, and the driver, Jack Malinek, (the only juror at his trial who believed in his innocence) befriended him (not knowing who he was at the time).

When Judge Larsky read of Caldwell’s release, he called a meeting at his home. It was Larry Flanagan’s recommendation that they eliminate Caldwell. Larsky’s housekeeper overheard the plan and informed the authorities.

Caldwell was placed under a tight witness protection program in which he underwent facial surgery and was given a new identity, while at the same time multiple international agencies built a tight, drug-trafficking case against the gang. During his recovery from facial surgery, he met Katherine, an FBI agent nurse with whom he developed an intimate relationship.

Quoting from the book’s webpage: "Soon after, the events erupt in a massive international operation covering Asia, South America, Afghanistan, Europe and the United States; involving faith, judicial misconduct, international terrorism, politics, intrigues and narcotics trafficking that bring in their wake unprecedented riots and disorder to the United States and culminated in the "9/ll" events and what may have been the real cause behind the immense tragedy.

Despite his initial resolve, Caldwell reluctantly succumbs to the chain of events that have taken over his life, and is dumbfounded how those who did him wrong perish one by one, and how fate rushes him to his full vindication and a reward he never dreamed of, without him moving a finger!"

Stefan Mosley has an unusually distinct style of writing, and his story propelled me right along. I have to admit that I was impressed with his knowledge of national and international organizations, multiple languages and cultures. If I were to offer constructive criticism, I would suggest . . . you don’t need all those exclamation marks and make the intimate . . . a little more intimate and not so "sweet."

You won’t be disappointed if you're looking for a different style of writing . . . different from the genre mill. As it states on the back cover: "THE LARSKY GANG is a compelling blend of facts and fiction packaged into a moving story about an innocent man and the perils of the modern-day life."

Through his writing, one thinks they might catch a glimpse of Stefan Mosley–a sensitive, caring man. The Larsky Gang is the author’s debut as a published writer. Kudos to you, Stefan S. Mosley

Reviewer: Kaye Trout, March 3, 2006, Copyright