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.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 S. Parker Rd - 515, Parker, CO
Genre: Fictional Memoir
Rating: Fair
ISBN: 1598005278, $15.95, 200 pp.

This book has an interesting cover, title and the author hopes this story will help readers to see that alcohol, tobacco and drugs can destroy a life. He says, "If only one person who reads this book gets help, then it will all have been worth the effort."

It’s a story about Charlie, a man in pain who uses alcohol and drugs, while working to become a successful businessman. The writer takes you through Charlie’s many business ventures and personal relationships. My problem with the book is that it reads like a personal diary . . . Charlie did this, Charlie did that, and primarily for this reason, I have rated it as ‘fair.’

Hiram K. Soloman is also a businessman with an extensive entrepreneurial history. You can contact him at

Reviewed by Kaye Trout - October 31, 2006

Saturday, October 28, 2006


Booklocker.com, Inc.
Genre: Fiction
Rating: Very Good
ISBN: 159113644X, $17.95, 328 pp.

"Every man thinks meanly of himself for not having been a soldier." - Samuel Johnson - is the intro on the back cover...to which I say, as a woman, we are all warriors at heart...being tested daily, and quoting further:

"A counterfeit Vietnam War hero seeks refuge and fulfillment in the French Foreign Legion - until it rejects him. Unable to go home and still intent on proving himself, he follows the legendary force to the Horn of Africa, but now he poses as a seasoned war photographer, too. After adventures in Ethiopia, he reaches Djibouti where people, like events, become more fantastic, particularly an American deserter who takes him to his baptism of fire, and his penance."

The Play Soldier is a complex adventure novel about a wannabe war hero, Warz, who dresses for the part, like an actor, to create the image he wants to portray and convey in the play of life–a problem of our times–but don’t we all to some degree...dress to play a part? Could this be one of the negative side effects of too many action video games and war movies?...and everyday life does not provide sufficient challenges to test a man’s true merit.

Chet Green has drawn from his personal experiences as a U.S. Navy journalist in the Vietnam War and freelance photographer/writer in the Horn of Africa and Sudan to create a novel about the reality of life in such exotic places. He is a consummate writer with an expertise in description and phonetically vernacular dialogue, adding color and quality to his writing style. Daniel Eliseuson, President of the International Combat Camera Association and life member of the USMC War Correspondents Association, has likened Green’s writing to Robert Ruark’s Something of Value, and I agree–Ruark being one of my favorite writers about Africa.

It’s always a true pleasure to read a well-written, -edited, researched novel with a social-issue message, and with confidence, I can highly recommend The Play Soldier to anyone interested in contemporary social issues.

Reviewed by Kaye Trout - October 28, 2006

Thursday, October 19, 2006

CRACKING GRACE by Steven Stromp

Genre: Fictional/Spiritual Fantasy
Rating: Good
ISBN: 9781847286864, $11.99, 140 pp.

Cracking Grace is a short novel which delves into spirituality and grief, coming to terms with the loss of a loved one. Quoting from the back cover:

"Cracking Grace is a fantasy that explores the very basic concepts of religion and spirituality–through the eyes of Audry, a young girl who has just lost her mother–and through the eyes of Mary, a cemetery statue. As Audry questions the loss of her mother, Mary’s inquisitive nature causes her to form her own questions. Aided by her faithful companion and information gatherer, a bluebird named Bluebell, Mary sets out on a mission to learn more about the world around her. As Audry’s father spins out of control psychologically, Audry and Mary develop an unlikely friendship after discovering how to communicate."

Steven Stromp has taken an interesting approach to communicate his thoughts on life’s mysteries to us. If you enjoy books dealing with spirituality, you may enjoy this story as well. It is well-written and edited, and for a debut novel, I have rated it as ‘good.’

Steven lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and you can contact him at
admin@stevenstromp.com or visit his web site www.stevenstromp.com.

Reviewed by Kaye Trout - October 19, 2006

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

WITCH EMBER by John Lawson

America House Book Publishers
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: Very Good
ISBN: 1591290384, $29.95, 489 pp.

John Lawson has created a magical world with its own language, not for the faint of heart. If you love fantasy, you’ll most likely enjoy Witch Ember, as John tells this tale with imaginative flare and consummate writing skills. Follow Esmeree as she discovers her powers and seeks her destiny.

As I am not a fantasy fan, I do not feel I can comment further; however, I can recommend this book based on the fine quality of writing.

John Lawson is a technical writer and online help developer by trade and lives with his wife and son in the Silicon Valley.

Reviewed by Kaye Trout - October 17, 2006

Monday, October 16, 2006

A DOG CALLED LEKA by Willard Manus

Viveca Smith Publishing
3001 S. Hardin Blvd, McKinney TX
Genre: Fiction
Rating: Very Good
ISBN: 9780974055138, $5.99, 122 pp.

I often quote from the back cover as it tell so succinctly the essence of the story, and that is true here too.

"A Dog Called Leka tells the story of Ben Edgeworth, an eighteen-year old American boy, and his remarkable dog Leka, as they sail among the Greek isles in a catamaran built by Ben himself. Leka came to Ben as a hungry stray, searching the shipyard for scraps of food. He quickly proves himself to be a faithful companion in an extraordinary journey that will stay with the reader long after the last page is turned. Join the two adventurers on their journey, as they face unexpected dangers, using their wits and skill to survive."

Ben had lost both his parents to a freak storm while they were en route to Bermuda. He decided to follow their dream and, with the help of Lukas, built his own sailing boat which he sailed among the Greek isles, later to consider sailing across the Atlantic and into the Caribbean. There are many problems which both Ben and Leka must overcome.

Willard Manus writes in a straightforward, honest manner and the story flows smoothly. Besides being a well-written fictional novel, the story contains considerable information about the Greek Islands, their history and the people. Considering the price of this book, it’s well worth taking a chance on this writer. You’ll learn something new while you enjoy the adventure.

Reviewed by Kaye Trout - October 16, 2006

Friday, October 13, 2006

THE NEXT PURITAN by Mark Dickson

Wingspan Press
Livermore, CA
Genre: Fiction
Rating: Above average
ISBN: 1595940820, $14.95, pp.

The back cover of this book tell us:

"A bizarre attack with a pair of ordinary pencils leaves a young man near death on the floor of a trendy restaurant and the only one who can finger the assailant isn’t talking. A sensational case for a superior detective? No, just a difficult moral dilemma for a compassionate young woman.

"Meet Rachel Shepherd. Though only nineteen, she’s already experienced enough of the dark side to make her either suicidal or bitter, yet she’s neither. What she hasn’t seen in people, she’s seen in Art, and so she’s still hopeful. Rachel knows the identity of the assailant, but she also knows that he’s no cold-blooded killer. He is, in fact, one of her new boyfriend’s closest friends. Rachel wants to buy him some time to end the tragedy on his own terms, but in order to do so, she’s going to have to lie–lie not only to the police, but to her new boyfriend as well. She can handle lying to the police–she knows the risk to herself and she’s willing to take it–but just the thought of lying to her new boyfriend under such trying circumstances sickens her. He’s religious and he’s naive, and he not only thinks Rachel’s an angel, he thinks that angels don’t need to lie. Surely he’ll understand, though. No, he won’t."

Yes, there was an unusual stabbing, but, to me, the heart of this novel was the evolving relationship between Rachel and Cant as these two young people share their family problems, unusual sex and religious beliefs. Mark Dickson is an extremely well-read, intelligent writer with some interesting ideas about Christianity, the Bible and life in general. Quoting from page 124–Cant telling Rachel about death:

""If there’s no Hell, what happens to the people who are evil; I mean, where do they go after they die?"

"I don’t think they ‘go’ anywhere. I imagine that after the Judgment, they’ll all just be destroyed all in an instant. That’s the meaning of the ‘second death,’ I think."

"‘Second death’?"

"Yeah, in Revelation, the writer uses the term or phrase synonymously with ‘lake of fire,’ or Gehenna, or whatever, saying that believers don’t have to worry about it or be afraid of it, but anyway, Hell is not ‘eternal,’ not in the sense of being everlasting; it’s ‘eternal’ or forever only in the sense that it’s final. The second death is as literal as the first, and there’s no third life or third death, so to speak."

"You really think that’s the way it is?"

"Yeah, I do. Maybe I’m wrong, but in this particular case, I really don’t see any need to distinguish between the figurative and the literal. We all talk about people being dead as though death were a state of being, but death is just non-existence. Likewise, we all talk about Hell as though it were a place of residence for evil-doers, but it’s not; it’s just total destruction or annihilation, the end of the line, no fire, no demons, no nothing, all motion stopped, period, non-being. What does John 3:16 say?"

"‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.’"

"Exactly. Contrary to popular belief, we aren’t born immortal; immortality is given–and only conditionally–only to those who accept Jesus. There is no so-called ‘soul’ separate from the physical body. That’s ridiculous; it’s just idiotic superstition, a holdover from pagan animism. And contrary to popular belief, immortality can be taken away too. The idea the immortality is a done deal is just stupid. God can give or take immortal life as easily as he can take mortal life. Jesus said so himself."

The Next Puritan is a well-written and well-edited POD published book, and if novels with intriguing ideas about religion and morality appeal to you, this book may be of interest.

Reviewed by Kaye Trout - October 13, 2006

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

CALLING THE DEAD BY Marilyn Meredith

Mundania Press LLC
6470A Glenway Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio
Genre: Fiction/Mystery
Rating: Very Good
ISBN: 1594263523, $11.00, 154 pp.

Quoting from the back cover:
"Tempe Crabtree is a resident deputy of Bear Creek, a small mountain community in the southern Sierra. Her continuing interest in the spiritual side of her heritage often causes unrest in her marriage to his minister husband.

"In Calling the Dead, Deputy Tempe Crabtree investigates a murder that looks like death from natural causes, and a suicide that looks like murder.

"Putting her job on the line, she investigates the murder on her own time and without permission from her superiors. Jeopardizing her marriage, she uses Native American ways to call back the dead to learn the truth about the suicide."

This novel is your typical mystery genre, following the formula. It’s a good read, well-written, and the Marilyn Meredith is a good writer. The Native American legends included add something special to this story. Tempe and her husband, Hutch, come across as warm, caring people who live in a small mountain town. If you like mysteries which include Native Americans and their beliefs, you’ll most likely enjoy this novel.

Reviewed by Kaye Trout - October 11, 2006

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


2021 Pine Lake Rd, Lincoln, NE
Genre: Fiction/Thriller
Rating: Very Good
ISBN: 0595392024, $14.95, 190 pp.

David Llewellyn, an American writer vacationing on the Caribbean island of Grand Kirkmuir, quickly finds himself embroiled in bitter island politics, a new love interest and an ancient Celtic pagan rite for eternal youth–making for an informative, interesting read.

J. R. Campbell is a consummate writer who tells his tale with an appealing style and adroitness. His talent for description adds considerably to the pleasure of this read. As there are many books out there these days, style and skill are paramount to compete for a reader’s attention. His novel–well-written and well-edited–pulls you in and carries you along smoothly to the end, and I highly recommend it.

Allow me to share with you an excerpt from pages 1-2:
"The wind rose up as he stepped across the age-worn threshold, slamming the door shut loudly behind him. The sound echoed strangely through the vast emptiness of the kitchen, causing him to take note of his surroundings. The housekeeper had been given the night off, leaving him alone in the old house. This was the oldest part of Buxton Hall, having survived more or less unchanged for the last one hundred and thirty years. From the hardwood cupboards on the white plaster walls, to the long oak table at which he’d been served breakfast every morning for the last few weeks, most of the kitchen’s furnishings were held over from that time. All of a sudden he stopped his slow passage through the room, struck by a curious appreciation of that fact for perhaps the first time. He stood still in the darkness, listening to the silence, sensing behind the veil of nighttime’s shadows the presence of lives long past. As he dwelled in the detached solitude of those moments, he had no doubt at all that Hannah once had stood where he was standing now."

The back cover tells us that J. R. Campbell is a student of comparative religion and mythology, grew up in England and drew upon his ancestral Caribbean folklore for inspiration.

Reviewed by Kaye Trout - October 10, 2006

Friday, October 06, 2006


Booklocker.com, Inc.
Genre: Science Fiction Supernatural Mystery
Rating: Exceptional
ISBN: 1591136075, $16.95, 312 pp.

Welcome to the Ahwahnee is one of the most interesting books I’ve read in sometime. About the story, well, I’d have to say . . . it’s about travel within a multiverse, as opposed to time travel within a universe. The concept of ‘time’ is a key factor, as is the ‘multiverse.’ It is a complex, intriguing mystery filled with historical facts, starting with WWII.

R. E. Starr is an intelligent, knowledgeable writer with an extraordinary imagination who has woven historical reality into this fictional novel with an artistic flare. All his characters come to life–ordinary people dealing with difficult and challenging events. The complexity of this novel could be compared to the Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code. The story is well-written, well-edited and definitely a page turner.

Allow me to share several excerpts with you . . . from pages 184 and 185:

"Sabrina sat stunned. She had grown to believe Kurt visited another world when he melded his mind with another. She accepted the fact Natalia and Mika traveled through a portal defined by a painting. But this, this seems . . . what? She didn’t know. Impossible was the only word that came to mind. She turned towards Kurt.
‘It can’t be. Mr. Rhodes is saying fifty years has passed in the last week. It’s impossible

"‘I’m . . .’ Kurt wasn’t sure how to respond. He dropped his eyes from her questioning stare. Sabrina’s words rang true to Kurt’s rational mind until he considered all of his seemingly impossible experiences. Her words then transformed themselves into a falsehood. No, the photo is telling the truth. The four men lived fifty years in the last few days. How, Kurt had no idea. ‘I’m afraid it’s only impossible if you assume the laws of our classic physics hold throughout the multiverse. They don’t. We’re dealing with laws we don’t understand.’. . .

"Melvin Rhodes chuckled. ‘Anyway. As I was saying, in your slice of the multiverse, time seems to pass second by second. In other slices, however, time can pass years or millenniums in one of your seconds, or it can pass seconds in one of your years or millenniums.’

"‘What are you saying?’

"‘I’m saying, to understand the riddle behind the paintings, forget time–it’s irrelevant. All slices of the multiverse exist at all times. When portal travelers move from one slice to another, they’re not altering time–they’re only changing their I position.’"

Even if you’re not a science fiction fan, the succinct presentation of historical facts and events will be of interest–illustrative of Starr’s extensive knowledge. For a POD published novel, Welcome to the Ahwahnee is an exceptional read, and you won’t be disappointed.

R. E. Starr is the author of three novels: Welcome of the Ahwahnee, Mounds and Retribution, which I reviewed in August 2006. He is a graduate of the University of Washington and lives with his wife, Doris, and their cats in Florida. He can be reached by email at
ron@quillandpen.com or his website, quillandpen.com.

Reviewed by Kaye Trout - October 6, 2006

Monday, October 02, 2006

DRIZZLE OF YESTERYEARS and other stories by M K Ajay

Frog Books
4A, Diamond House
Mumbai 400 050 India
Genre: Fictional short stories
Rating: Good
ISBN: 8188811424, $10.00, 115 pp.

And I quote from the Foreword:
"This book is a collection of stories about the people of Pambunkavu, a fictional village situated in the Malabar region of Kerala, a souther Indian state. The twenty-first century Pambunkavu is a village which has lost its innocence, and the substantial diaspora of its people living in foreign lands has contributed to the integration and ‘corruption’ of this village with a sense of modernity.

"The narratives capture the lives of these ‘villagers’ either ‘at home’ or ‘in exile’– the former dealing with happenings within their native land and the latter following their lives outside their home state. Accordingly, the seventeen stories in this collection are organized in two sections . . . which treat the lives of the people of Pambunkavu separately, depending on their physical location."

This book is well-written and well-edited. Many of the stories are simplistic to the extent that I wondered why they were written, but as I am not an authority on poetry, I thought possibly the significance was beyond me. There were two stories which particularly appealed to me: A Question of Morality and Fortunes of Circus–a dreamlike occurrence with interesting imagery–allow me to quote an excerpt:

"These are moments when legends die, their words hanging upside down like the mangled knots of roots that drop from the branches of trees to the brown earth. Their words which you worshipped are buried, then exhumed, and the bones are flung into the primitive lands of metaphors–it is these moments, when the world has desecrated his legends, that a man faces his most difficult dilemma."

M K Ajay’s writings have appeared in many publications. He has a Master’s degree in Psychology and is a post-graduate in Human Resources Management and currently lives in Kuala Lumpur.

Reviewed by Kaye Trout - October 2, 2006