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.

Thursday, September 28, 2006


2021 Pine Lake Road, Ste 100,
Lincoln, NE
Genre: Fictional Criminal Intrigue
Rating: Highly Recommended
ISBN: 1595382924, $23.95, 444 pp.

Quoting from back cover:
"Arthur "Arty" Garret Boyle is a master manipulator. With a sociopathic personality and an IQ of 175, he embarks on a career as an art dealer and popular musician. He associates with those in the criminal world as well as the elite of society, thereby mixing his legitimate art business with stolen and forged art.

"Boyle finds himself hunted by FBI agent Terry Latimer of the bureau’s Art Recovery Squad and is convicted of stealing paintings from the Robert Farmsworth estate. Boyle fails to appear for sentencing and a fugitive warrant is issued. While a fugitive, Boyle masterminds the theft of a famous Rembrandt painting. He reasons that he will help the authorities "find" the painting in exchange for leniency for his crimes.

"But Arty expands on his original plan and exploits the stolen Rembrandt painting while being pursued by Agent Latimer. Can Arty successfully escape, or will Agent Latimer finally capture him?"

Gerard Shirar is a good writer and has used his background and knowledge of the art world and law enforcement to create this page-turner of a novel. He’s an artist of description with an appealing writing style. If you’re interested in the multiple facets of the art world, you won’t disappointed by The Many Indiscretions of Arty Boyle.

Gerard Shirar served for ten years as the Director of Security for the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and presently practices law in Everett, Mass.

Reviewed by Kaye Trout - September 28, 2006

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 S. Parker Rd - 515, Parker, CO
Genre: Fiction/Sagas
Rating: Average
ISBN: 1598004964, $12.95, 296pp.

This is a novel about a young woman, Constance Martin, beginning when she lost her parents at age 14 and ending with her death. There’s mystery, suspense, love and life. The chapters are very short and the story moves smoothly. It is a well-edited POD-published book.

If you’re looking for an easy read with some intrigue and light romance, this might be just the book. G. Graham Vago writes with a straight-forward, simplistic style, and this is her first novel. Good luck and congratulations!

Reviewed by Kaye Trout - September 27, 2006

QUALIFYING LAPS - A Brewster County Novel by Nash Black

IF Publishing
101 Evergreen, Jamestown, Kentucky
Genre: Fiction/Mystery
Rating: Very Good

ISBN: 1598005111, $21.95, 228 pp.

Qualifying Laps is a well-written, well-edited POD-published mystery as told my Jim Young, the youngest of the Young boys. It is your standard mystery genre, and if you like mysteries, you’ll probably enjoy this one. Jim and his brother Adam find an old dead body in the car that killed Catherine Throckton, some ten years past. Who killed Catherine, whose body is it?. . . and more.

I can certainly recommend this novel for its quality and action.

Nash Black is the husband and wife team of Ford Nashett and Irene Black. This is their first novel and I say, well done! Hope to see more.

Reviewed by Kaye Trout - September 27, 2006

THE ROAD LETTERS by Phil Ribaudo

Aventine Press
Mountain View, CA
Genre: Fictionalized Memoir
Rating: Good
ISBN: 1593304293, $11.53, 276 pp.

The Road Letters is a novel about love, travel, personal growth and recipes. Phil Ribaudo has presented this pot-pourri of life in a unique, interesting manner–including an audio journal of Nick Anthony’s travels and thoughts, photographs, recipes and letters to Laura.

The book is well-written and well-edited, and if you’re interested in novels written with a unique twist, this story may appeal to you. If one aspect is not of interest, possibly another will be. If you are interested in travel and personal growth, I can certainly recommend this novel.

Phil is a native New Yorker who now calls San Francisco and the Bay Area his home. He is a private chef which adds to the value of the recipes he shares. In addition to The Road Letters, he has written The Princess and the Servant Boy, an illustrated fairy tale.

Reviewed by Kaye Trout - September 27, 2006

Thursday, September 21, 2006


Contemporary Instructional Concepts Publishers
6784 Caminito del Greco
San Diego, CA
Genre: Fiction/Short Stories
Rating: Excellent
ISBN: 0977650367, $25.00, 299 pp.

Stephen King commented in one of his books–sorry I don’t remember which one–that the popularity of short story compilations has lost favor with contemporary readers, and I guess he should know. If that is indeed the case, I would ask that you make an exception and consider reading Jim Musgrave’s The President’s Parasite and Other Stories as this is an exceptional book–contemporary, insightful, poignantly honest–a glimpse into the down- or back-side of life.

There is so much I’d like to say and excerpts I’d like to share, but that would make this review much too long. The first book I reviewed for this author was a novel titled Iron Maiden. It is my opinion that Jim’s short stories reveal his true talent and gift. From his writings you will experience an intelligent, educated, aware person–socially and politically concerned about real life and our problems in this world. It is also clear that Jim has lived a lot of life in order to tell these tales. He’s a good writer with a rich imagination, and the book is well-edited.

On second thought, I can’t help but share a few excerpts from his writing with you.

From the Littlest Angel of San Diego, page 133:
"Daddy came back home soon after Brittany joined the angels to take care of Mother when she gets to heaven. He is helping me take care of Mother until she passes on. He isn’t so bad, either, because he doesn’t drink. Maybe I won’t have to be the mother too long now. Daddy says we need a woman around the house to take care of the little ones. We all walk down to the place where the express comes into town. We never could afford a grave for Brittany, but Daddy always insists that he can see a little angel riding on the engine as it comes into view.

"I must admit, I can see her too, if I look closely. I can see the flowing yellow gown blowing in the wind, the knowing smile, the loving protection that we all need–even big diesel train mechanics. But, sometimes, late at night, when someone is shooting in the neighborhood, or a drunk is yelling out in the street, I can see the train rushing toward me, and I can’t jump out of the way. There is no angel. There is only darkness and emptiness all around me."

From The Clock Tower of Baghdad, pages 180, 181 and 184:
"It was a brilliant plan! Dr. Hussein was going to let each leader in the world experience his invention until he or she entered the state of eternal bliss that he had experienced. No longer would they believe they were powerful or politically correct. Instead, the instant karmic reality of Level II Consciousness would send the infinite world into a state to total understanding and infinite peace!"

"As I push the button, the music stops, but I am instantly aware of a new light all around me. Sounds have become vibrations that I can feel. Colors can be smelled, and I can hear with incredible exactitude. A woman, holding the hand of a child walks toward me, down a long corridor. I wait. She comes into my cell, and it becomes a grotto. Birds are singing and a waterfall trickles down the sides of the green, cascading hills around us. We have morphed into paradise! It is Shahrzad and my son, Muhammad! And soon, as if to complete the miracle, my father, Ibrahim, comes into the light. He is no longer crippled. He walks with pride into my arms. I feel his body, and it is muscular and new, just as it was when I was a youth. And so, when I gaze into the pond before me, I can see I am young again, and the rapturous longing in my heart becomes overcome with joy!"

Jim Musgrave can say so much with so few words, and he does just that, quite beautifully. You won’t be disappointed.

Reviewed by Kaye Trout - September 21, 2006

Thursday, September 14, 2006

OMA - ONE MAN ARMY by Daniel J. Neumann

Llumina Press
Genre: Science Fiction
Rating: Very Good
ISBN: 1595264035, $10.95, 124 pp.

Well, what do we have here?. . . the product of a dynamically creative mind–Daniel Neumann’s–and I quote from the back cover:

"Growing up in the 31st century, Jack, Jennifer, Kevin, Geoffrey, and Harold have never know peace. A thirty-year war has so engulfed their lives, the very meaning of their existence is to be a well-trained weapon.

"With nearly infinite numbers, the Surculus threaten to annihilate the newly Unified Earth. The Celestial Guard deploys its latest weapon: the poweful One Man Army suit, of Project OMAHA.

"Through the eyes of five young soldiers, learn the meaning of the acronym. Face greed, deceit, and unexplainable events. Then discover why war is hell."

As a new, young writer, Daniel has considerable potential to be an extremely good writer . . . if he continues to hone his skills. He has a solid grasp on the basic fundamentals and a flare for creativity. (Daniel, pick up a copy of Stephen King’s On Writing - A Memoir of the Craft . . . you’ll love it!)

OMA - One Man Army is a good story and if you enjoy science fiction, I certainly can recommend it. Daniel Neumann has many interests and began writing in the 7th grade–short stories and movies. For his first published novel, I say . . . well done and keep writing!

Reviewed by Kaye Trout - September 14, 2006

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


Genre: Fiction
Rating: Good
ISBN: 1411676823, $14.95, 212 pp.

Eric (Rick) Goeld is a good writer, and the book is well-edited. It certainly will appeal to Steely Dan fans. The story?. . . and I quote from the back cover:

"Eddie Zittner is a 29-year-old New Yorker who is obsessed with Steely Dan. And his life is going nowhere. He’s an aspiring writer who has stopped writing. He’s bouncing from one dead-end job to another. His marriage is on the rocks.

"February 29, 2000: When Eddie goes to purchase a copy of The Dan’s new CD, Two Against Nature, he finds that the clerk at the music store has failed to hold a copy for him. He goes home and vents a little anger at his wife, who vents right back and throws him out of their apartment.

"Eddie takes to the sidewalks of Manhattan, looking for solutions, looking for inspiration, looking for The Dan, and ultimately finding . . . well . . . read the book!"

The book has a catchy name and a dynamic cover, but something just didn’t grab me. Of course, I’m not a New Yorker, Woody Allen or Steely Dan fan–and what does that tell you? So, taking all that into consideration, you’ll just have to make up your own mind.

Rick Goeld is semi-retired from the high-tech electronics industry, and I think you’ll see this influence in his writing style.

Reviewed by Kaye Trout - September 12, 2006

I'M JUST A SURVIVOR - My Life, Before & After My Tour of Vietnam by Ritchie Wilson

Publish America
Genre: Memoir
Rating: Good
ISBN: 1413766579, $14.95, 67 pp.

Ritchie Wilson was a Marine at the age of sixteen and in Vietnam combat at the age of seventeen when he received his first Purple Heart. At that time, he weighed about 135 pounds and with gear . . . about 200 pounds. Can you imagine?

I’m Just A Survivor is a short book about some of Ritchie’s experiences while in Vietnam but also includes significant aspects of his life before and after his military service. It’s well-written and flows smoothly; however, it would be my recommendation that it be professionally edited and proofread.

I personally find honest, true stories more appealing than fiction because real life, when someone has the courage to share it, is far more amazing, thought-provoking and complex. Ritchie Wilson is one such honest writer, and therein lies the value in this book. Allow me to quote from pages 8 and 9:

"...At some point after the divorce, my mother met Mr. C. Smith and soon after they got married (oh joy our new dad). I was still very young, I think five years old. My sisters, JoAnn and Janet, one year older than I and Kitty one year older than the twins and Boosie one year older than Kitty.

"My mom worked days and went to school at night. Leaving us in the hands of this sexual pervert, giving him control over us. I guess he found that he had the opportunity and the time to fondle or sexually assault Kitty on many occasions. Over time, he decided to take things a little further by making me have sex with my sister, by touching my genitals until I became erect, then he would place me on top of Kitty, having her spread legs so he could insert my penis into her.

"He would move me back and forth, until, ‘I said, I have to go pee.’ He told me to pee inside my sister; it was ok.

"After I had ejaculated, he would put me aside, then he would get on top of her, trying to put his penis in her, or push his fingers in her, when she would tell him it hurts. Nevertheless, he would still try until he’d ejaculate by hand or on her vagina. He did this many times over the months; he would do the same with Boosie, or both with me being his starter on all occasions."

There are a lot of things that go on in real life which are hidden and not discussed, such as the above, and it takes considerable courage to bring them to the surface and put them out there for all to see. If you’re like me, and admire an honest writer–even with the minor grammar errors–you won’t be disappointed by this author and his story.

Reviewed by Kaye Trout - September 12, 2006

Friday, September 08, 2006

SILVER WOMB by Linette Widen

iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Rd, Lincoln, NE 68512
Genre: Fiction
Rating: Very good
ISBN: 0595384366, $16.95, 235 pp.

Silver Womb is the second book in the Foster family saga. The year is 1917 and the location is Wallace, Idaho–silver mines in the Bitterroot Mountains. Two families, the Fosters and the Connors came to Wallace to raise their children. Jim and Lucy Foster have four sons–Earl, George, Clyde and Mo. The heart of this tale is, and I quote from the back cover:

"Contentious eighteen-year-old Earl has just graduated from high school and begun working full time in the silver mines. With spare cash, he discovers the pleasures of whiskey and women but is obsessed with the beautiful green-eyed Bertie Connor and wants her for his wife. Before he can cross the threshold to manhood, he must learn to accept the truth about his own shortcomings while dealing with wild animals, gangs of thugs, and mysterious kidnappings."

With this second book, Linette is on a strong roll. Her first was good! Silver Womb is even better. If you enjoy historical fiction, I highly recommend this novel. Her style and the quality of her writing is consistent, and the book is well-edited.

As I generally like to include a sample of the author’s writing for you, I have chosen several paragraphs from page 35:

"Just as the blade connected with the animal, a thunderous blast filled the cavern. The boys listened fro the enraged growls of the bear but detected only silence, then a loud thud, followed by two more shots. After that the only sound in the mine was the strangled sobs of Mo. Earl and Clyde held their breath, listening for the bear, but couldn’t hear anything over the sound of their own blood pounding through their ears. Then the clacking of horses’ hooves echoed in the tunnel, and they collapsed against the cart, listening to the familiar sound of safety.

"‘Sonofabitch,’ Jim cursed as he jumped off his horse. Pointing his rifle at the spot between the bear’s eyes, he fired one final shot, just to be sure. Jim stared at the huge grizzly on the ground with four bloody holes in its head. The animal would not move again. There had been tales of grizzlies being shot several times, falling to the ground, then lunging at their unsuspecting attackers when they came near to inspect.

"Stepping around the animal to the cart, Jim braced himself for what he might find. He peered over the side and looked down at his sons huddled in the cart, covered in blood. A flashing nightmare streaked before his eyes of Mary lying dead in a pool of her own blood. Then the ancient buzzing sound started."

That should be sufficient to spark your interest. You won’t be disappointed!

Reviewed by Kaye Trout - September 8, 2006