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, December 26, 2006


Authors OnLine Ltd
19 The Cinques, Bedfordshire SG193NU, England
Genre: Fictional war memoir
Rating: Very Good
ISBN: 0755202449, $14.95, 248 pp.

The back cover succinctly tells the essence of this story:

"In 1944 David Walker, an Army intelligence officer, escaped from a German prison camp in Crete. While his return to England was being arranged by the Underground he hid in the loft of a Greek family where he met the beautiful Miranda. They fell in love and planned to marry when the war ended. Miranda promises to wait for him for one year. After a dramatic journey through the mountains David returns home a hero, only to discover that he has a four year old son. Against his better judgement he succumbs to pressure by both sets of parents and marries his former girlfriend Victoria. Desperately unhappy at abandoning Miranda, David tries to make it work. He throws himself into his job and develops a loving relationship with the child but a family tragedy, an interfering father-in-law and David’s increasing dependence on alcohol along with Victoria’s desire to lead her own life, eventually destroys the marriage. Homeless and jobless, he decides to return to Crete to recapture what he once had but sixteen years have passed and nothing is as it was."

Cold Oblivion is well-written and edited, and if you like this type of story, you’ll most likely enjoy the novel. It has a good flow and reads like it was written by a pro. I personally was a little disappointed by the ending but that’s my take and . . . I wouldn’t want to spoil it for you.

Reviewed by Kaye Trout - December 26, 2006

Friday, December 15, 2006

THE FIRST ATHEIST by Eric Polfliet

Llumina Press
7915 W. McNab Rd, Tamarac, FL 33321
Rating: Exceptional
ISBN: 1595266232, $10.95, 148 pp.

The First Atheist is not a lengthy book, only 140 pages including the prologue. Yet, this little book is one of the most interesting and well-written books I’ve read in sometime. I would say this is a ‘must read’ for anyone interested in religious studies, particularly Hinduism. Quoting from the back cover:

"Charvaka, sweet talker, ladies’ man, godless libertine, was the First Atheist. Many have been disgusted at the mention of his name because he liked to eat, drink, and fornicate. He was also known for questioning the authority of the Brahmin priests. Little is known of him and mystery shrouds his existence. No writings of his exist.

"Charvaka was the First Atheist - a man who preached the doctrine of eat, drink, and be merry in response to suppression and controls imposed by those in charge. He recognizes Religion, but sees that it is no more than an instrument in the hands of the powers that be, used to forward their own agenda.

"The protagonist, Jan, discovers Charvaka and India through a chain of events set off by a love affair with the sensual Parvati during his student days. When Parvati is murdered in a religious rite honoring Shiva, Jan is confronted with age-old tensions between human sexuality and religion, skeptical thought, and a religious fervor that stops at nothing.

"Jan’s experience offers a personal insight into life in India. No references are given: it appears as if the tale is no more than a great feat of his imagination. Fact or fiction? Story or documentary? Truth has many faces, reality many layers."

How true . . . how true! I did do some research about Charvaka after reading the book. How much of the book is factual and how much is fiction is hard to say–sort of like The DaVinci Code and just as disturbing. It is my opinion that Eric Polfliet has done an excellent job at making his point, supporting it and at the same time providing us with an interesting, informative story. Allow me to share a few excerpts with you . . . from page 65:

"Her first words were a shouted question. ‘Do you know what you heard tonight?’

"We were back in her flat after walking from the auditorium where Professor Kumar had given his lecture. ‘You heard the origin of all evil, an avatar of Hitler, a personification of Manu, the KKK’s cry for supremacy, all wrapped up in an intellectual jacket that hides the festering body from which it emanates. Their program is as old as the human race; it is the great white Aryan conspiracy–more dangerous than ever, more hidden than ever, and more credible than ever. I am the Jew in the story, the victim of color, the victim of bias solidified in the oldest and most revered writings on earth.’ . . .

and from page 70:
"She continued her story. ‘The Aryans who knew a thing or two about killing, were shocked by the rituals, a theatre of sexual intercourse on a planetary scale. They did not understand why Mother Earth was depicted as ugly. Their goddesses were beautiful–much nicer to pray to and better to look at.

‘Mother Earth was the ugliest woman they had ever seen. Kali–oh, she was inky-black, black as plowed earth, black as moonlit blood, black as the skin on the little flat-nosed people praying to her. She had a blood-thirty face and a necklace made of snakes and human skulls. Out of her open mouth, a tongue dripped with blood. Everywhere the Aryans looked, in temples and homes, they found phalli erected to serve her. The farmers could not understand the Aryans’ consternation. What was more natural than a phallus, a lingam, a plow to impregnate Mother Earth?" . . .

and lastly from page 119:
"‘Charvaka’s followers, the Buddhists, and Jains, initially united and defended their ideas together. The Brahmans saw the danger to their supremacy, but also the weakness in the alliance between the Buddhists, Jains, and Charvaka. They started exploiting the weaknesses. The pious life the Jains and Buddhists prescribed was not easily merged with the pursuit of the senses that Charvaka preached. Charvaka’s outright rejection of karma and rebirth, and his aggressive stand against the existence of God put him on a collision course with the Jains and Buddhists, who integrated godly concepts more and more. They wanted to avoid being condemned to a footnote on the pages of history by the Brahmans and compromised with the Vedic writings."

I hope these excerpts will spark your interest so that you’ll consider reading this book. I highly recommend it.

Eric Polfliet was born in Belgium and studied at the University of Leuven. He currently resides in Bangkok, Thailand.

Reviewed by Kaye Trout - December 15, 2006

Thursday, December 07, 2006


Academy Press CA
2122 Plumwood Ln, Santa Ana, CA 92705

Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: Very Good
ISBN: 1601450311, $13.95, 192 pp.

About this novel? . . . I quote from the back cover:

"An Everyman story, a mystery (you be the judge of what really happened) and a love story, American Spirit extols the moral victory of one man, Mort Lewis, brought to trial in 1878 on the American frontier for a capital crime he didn’t know whether he committed or not."

How this story is told is one of its appealing features. John Janda starts and ends with transcriptions from the personal reminiscences of Vernon P. Eggers, Marshal of the Cochilla Township, Arizona Territory in 1878 and here’s an example . . .

"Enough beatin’ around the bushes, though. Now I will tell you what happened with Mort Lewis, much as I know leastwise, ‘an maybe you’ll be the one to untangle that. Oblige me no end if you did.

"It all began in mid-February of seventy-eight, like I said, one of the coldest months I do remember from Cochilla days. Clouds boilin’ in off the plains had laid down three big snows already that winter, but each new day rung in colder and grayer than what went before. Until one day . . ."

And in conclusion . . .

"An’ who knows? Might meet up again after with Mort Lewis an’ finally get some answers as to what really happened there in Cochilla back in seventy-eight. Ha! That’s a joke, son. Right there, that was a joke."

We know that Mort was arrested for the murder of Jeff Landry and while awaiting trial, he thinks back upon his life–the heart of this story. More important than the answer as to his guilt or innocence, which I could not surmise, was his personal revelation that we all choose when to die and that this was his time . . . quoting from page 124.

"He felt his mother’s warm presence with him now in the cell, knew her death truly was her own choice, freely made, but not from loving him any the less and not from running away. A greater purpose must have lay ahead of her, a reason ahead of her, pulling. The same must also have been true for his son. And if his son truly was blameless, then so was his mother.

"He knew a smile crossed her face now and lightened her heart, for him having faith and having forgiven her.

"His mother’s death, his son’s, the young trooper’s death outside of Vicksburg; everyone free, everyone knowing ahead, choosing when to die. Even children knowing, understanding, children like himself."

Whether he was innocent or guilty of the crime, he followed his belief that it was his time to die.

American Spirit is well-written and edited, has an attractive cover designed by Lucas Novak, and I think you’ll enjoy John Janda’s writing expertise and style. John has a B.A in Government, M.A. in History and has taught and taken graduate studies at the University of California, Irvine. He has twenty-five years apprenticeship in Southern California creative writing workshops and another novel in the works, The Clamor of Fife and Drum. Good luck, John.

Reviewed by Kaye Trout - December 7, 2006

Saturday, December 02, 2006

DEAD STILL - A Suspense Novel by David Wolman

2021 Pine Lake Rd, Ste 100, Lincoln, NE
Genre: Fiction/Mystery
Rating: Highly Recommended
ISBN: 0595396682, $14.95, 214 pp.

This novel took me longer to read than normal because of the quality of writing. Wolman had me hooked until the very end. About the story, allow me to quote from the back cover:

"Dead Still plunges into the arcane world of identity theft, insurance fraud, sex, and murder. A vicious killer, an unlikely hero, and a country physician are linked by coincidental events that include a near-death dogsled escape from the frozen terrain of northern Maine and a lethal chase through the treacherous caverns of Virgin Gorda, in the British Virgin Islands."

David Wolman is a consummate writer, and you won’t be disappointed. His medical knowledge, survival skills and expertise at dog sledding come through clearly to make Dead Still a fascinating, suspenseful mystery, and I quote from pages 136-137 when Susan is left in an unfamiliar wilderness to die:

"She hoped she would live long enough to sort it all out.

"As she reached the shelter of tall cedars, she tried to calm herself. She reminded herself of the most important theme of survival courses she had taken and taught–avoid panic. Logic and reason were to be relied on. Her knowledge of survival skills would pull her through.

"But, in the long run, her will to survive was the key to survival.

"First, she needed shelter and time to think. She needed to concentrate on the task at hand. That would keep her from panicking. Focus. Focus. She guessed it was about four o’clock as the light was already fading, augmented by the storm with its russet clouds racing above. She quickly found a spot with well-packed drift snow. Using a pine bough and her gloved lands, she dug a chest-high hole into the drift. She proceeded to dig a horizontal rectangle at shoulder height, creating blocks as she removed the snow. Then digging upward into the rectangular area, she fashioned a sleep platform out of packed snow above ground level. She extended the entrance. Then she covered the triangular opening with show blocks she had removed. Using her hands, she made a ventilation hole in the top of the cave. She had practiced this rudimentary shelter building many times, and many times on the Iditarod trail she had slept in such a snow cave to escape storms. So far, it was just Survival 101."

Will Susan survive? Will someone come to her rescue? Guess you’ll just have to read this novel to learn the answers to these questions and why she was left to die.

David Wolman is the author of Little Boy Lost and Whispers on the Nile. Wolman’s poetry was the inspiration for the musical work, The Long Bright. He reviews theater and classical music. He is an educated, talented writer, and I highly recommend this novel.

Reviewed by Kaye Trout - December 2, 2006