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.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Back-To-One Books
2442 Cerrillos Road, Suite 164
Santa Fe, NM 87505
Genre: Fiction
Rating: Very Good
ISBN: 097776110X, $12.95, 200 pp.

This is a contemporary story about a young woman, Teddy Gibbs, nudist balloonists, New Mexico politics, and other crazy characters. As advertised on the back cover:

"Hoppe has figured out how to tell the story of the marginalized communities of the rural heartland in literary lingo that resonates far beyond its point or origin. In Don’t Let All The Pretty Days Get By he gives us a post-modern romp through the New West."

This aspect of Hoppe’s writing is the key to the true value of this novel. Bruce Hoppe is a freelance journalist and has received nine New Mexico Press Association awards while working as a journalist for the Union County Leader in Clayton, NM. He is an educated, experienced writer with a strong style and distinct sense of humor. I can certainly recommend this book, and it should be of particular interest to readers in the Four Corners area.

Reviewed by Kaye Trout - February 28, 2007

Monday, February 26, 2007

A WORLD OF HIS OWN - In the Land of the Creoles by Arlette Gaffrey

Outskirts Press, Inc.
Denver, Co
Genre: Historical Romance
Rating: Good
ISBN: 097888910X, $13.95, 388 pp.

Arlette Gaffrey has put a lot of time and effort into providing us with this historical romance novel. To tell you what it’s all about, I quote from the back cover:

"A World of His Own is an epic saga of love, marriage and betrayal. Andre de Javon escaped the French Revolution as a child. Now as an adult, he arrives in New Orleans to start a new life. In due time, he becomes one of the wealthiest plantation owners in the Territory. He is helped by his mentor Jean-Claude Charlevoix, whose young daughter Julie Marie falls in love with Andre, and hopes he will wait for her to grow up and marry her. But, Andre marries Gabrielle Ste. Claire who turns his life into a nightmare. Gabrielle dies leaving Andre with her illegitimate son. As Julie Marie grows up, Andre realizes how much he loves her, and wants to marry her. But will Julie Marie still have him, a man who is eleven years her senior with an illegitimate child?"

Such is the essence of this novel, and I couldn’t have put it better. Arlette Gaffrey has a smooth, flowing style of writing which I believe will appeal to most romance readers, but particularly to those who like ‘fairytale-type’ romances, and I quote from page 380 to give you a sample of Ms. Gaffrey’s writing style:

"It was late in the evening when, finally, Andre opened his eyes.

Julie was curled up in a big chair near the hearth. When he saw her, Andre smiled. ‘What are you doing sitting over there?’

‘I didn’t want to disturb you. You needed your rest.’

‘Well, I am quite rested now.’ He grinned at her and pulled the covers back. ‘Come here, you sweet thing.’

Julie rose from the chair, crossed to the bed, slipped under the covers, and gave herself up to his wonderful lovemaking.

When their desire had been fulfilled, Andre smiled at her and, kissing her eyelids gently, said, ‘God must be very fond of me.’

‘I’m sure He is but why do you say that?’ Julie asked, a contented look on her face.
‘Because He gave me you, because He gave me such a wonderful father-in-law, and gave me such a beautiful little son. I am a very blessed man.’

An hour later, Julie rang for the food; and the two of them ate at a small table in front of the fire.

They spent the rest of the night in each other’s arms."

Arlette Marie Gaffrey is a French-Spanish Creole native of New Orleans, and she weaves her knowledge and background into her first historical romance novel. If you enjoy light romance, you won’t be disappointed in A World of His Own.

Reviewed by Kaye Trout - February 26, 2007

Thursday, February 22, 2007

BETTER LIVING THROUGH BUREAUCRACY - How to Make It to the Top Without Doing Any Real Work by Greg W. Starr

Llumina Press
PO Box 772246, Coral Springs, FL
Genre: Professional/Business
Rating: Very Good
ISBN: 9781595266330, $15.95, 176 pp.

Well, well . . . what do we have here . . . a contemporary, synergetic version of Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince and Phineas T. Barnum’s The Art of Money Getting? . . . the antithesis of Henry Ford’s What I Learned About Business.

Yes, that is precisely what we have: a new, in-depth guidebook on how to succeed in the business world without doing any "real" work, as advertised in the subtitle–How to Make It to the Top Without Doing Any Real Work.

Greg W. Starr is clearly not a man to write a book without a goal (‘mission’) or plan (‘strategy/framework/tactics’), nor one to choose his words frivolously, as demonstrated in his subtitle. In Better Living Through Bureaucracy Mr. Starr shares his perspective and knowledge acquired over thirty years working or, as the case may be, ‘not working’ for major corporations and federal agencies.

Quoting from the back cover he tells us:

"You will discover how to:
- Bring great distinction to yourself while leaving the work for others.
- Sound like a natural leader without making commitments.
- Turn everyday activities into powerful image enhancers.
- Allocate your time to benefit you and avoid wasted efforts.
- Quickly get noticed by top management as the next person to promote.
- Establish and grow your own organizational empire with ease.

"Why not zoom up the corporate ladder with a minimum of effort? You could spend hundreds of dollars on career development courses that won’t get you anywhere, when everything you need for success is in this book."

And my favorite . . . Chapter 10, Corporate-Speak Bureaucratese, will instruct you how to become a ‘subject matter expert’ on ‘The Power of Language’ and ‘facilitate’ your ‘objectives’ by mentoring you in the use of nebulous (‘champion’) and noncommittal (‘framework’) words, power adjectives (‘strategic project direction’), compound nouns (‘plan process strategy’). You can learn how to mangle the language, make up new words, and use buzzwords, acronyms and jargon . . . "to fool people into thinking that you and what you are doing are important, while at the same time obfuscating what, if anything, you personally will be doing." He tells us that "Effective Corporate-Speak Bureaucratese (CBS) requires a confident, self-important delivery spoken as though the meaning of the words is self-evident, even though no real definition of the words could be given." Use plurals as an easy way to sound like you’re doing more. "Always use the royal ‘we’, as in ‘We need to follow up on that.’" And to ‘advise’ you in your endeavors to become a ‘subject matter expert’ in CBS, he has included an ‘English to Bureaucratese Dictionary’.

Personally, it sounds like a lot of work and expense to learn and apply Mr. Starr’s techniques needed to ‘fool’ your co-workers, avoid work, and ape and ingratiate yourself into upper management, but then, if you’re an egomaniac, me-me-driven, integrity-lacking Prince (or Princess) looking for the easy way to Easy Street, this may be just the book for you. The author tells us, "It’s the American dream. Something for nothing . . . or nearly nothing."

My, my . . . how the American dream has changed, and very possibly this is the new dream, as our young people who have been given so much take it for granted that life and success should continue to come easily. In the end, however, there is very little value in things that come too easily, and usually, if something appears too good to be true, that may, indeed, be the case.

Better Living Through Bureaucracy is well-organized, well-written and -edited. I can recommend the book based on these qualities; however, I do not support Mr. Starr’s efforts to encourage others to share his American dream: "Something for nothing . . . or nearly nothing."

Reviewed by Kaye Trout - February 22, 2007

Saturday, February 17, 2007

DEMON by Craig W. Tweedie

Llumina Press
Genre: Teen/Horror/Fiction
Rating: Very Good
ISBN: 1595266798, $12.95, 160 pp.

What is this story about? Allow me to quote from the back cover which tells us the essence of this tale.

"Neil has been bullied since as far back as he can remember. One evening, he is beaten near death over an altercation that took place earlier that day in school. In his delusion, he is met by Luharen, a six-hundred-year-old demon that offers Neil unlimited power and vengeance. In return, Neil only needs to offer his allegiance to Luharen and his brotherhood of demons. Neil accepts Luharen’s offer, becomes a demon himself, and starts off on a horrific rampage of vengeance and gore. The once innocent and timid Neil becomes a blood-thirsty demon, evil to the core, unleashing his wrath on those who dared to belittle him all his life. One by one, his enemies are killed in the most brutal and violent of ways."

Maybe not a new theme, for sure, but Craig Tweedie has a true gift for telling a tale and with a flare I’m certain will appeal to contemporary teens who enjoy horror stories, and I’d like to share a sample of his writing with you . . . from Page 131:

"There, in the mirror, he saw the boy who had been shoved into a locker. He saw the boy who had been ripped bare of clothing and whipped in a school parking lot. He saw the boy who had been beaten to an unrecognizable pulp and left for dead. And he say the boy whose father would just as soon drink as console his son. In fact, the old man had sooner put Neil in crisis than help him.

"‘They are all dead now, Neil,’ Luharen whispered from the hallway. It was the first time Luharen had called him that name since his emergence. ‘They fell at your hand. What they tried to do and failed, you accomplished single-handedly.’

"Andorean stepped back from the mirror, looking at what was once Neil MacAllistair. He shifted his appearance to look like John, then Jordan, then Andrew, and finally Heather, before shifting his appearance back to his demonic self. He balled a fist and slammed it into the mirror, shattering it into several pieces."

If you like fast-paced, horror stories, you won’t be disappointed by Demon.

Reviewed by Kaye Trout - February 17, 2007

Thursday, February 15, 2007

DIVINELY FRAMED by Ora Stearns Smith

"I am that I AM says I am"
David Seven, Orange County, CA 92781
Genre: Spiritual Inspiration Self-Help
Rating: Average - Good
ISBN: 0972982345, $9.45, 256 pp.

Divinely Framed is a spiritual Christian self-help book to help women find their identity and excel in life through their faith and understanding of God. It is of considerable size–some core, some fluff and fill–nicely designed, and a quality book.

If you’re a woman of the Christian persuasion, you may find it helpful. If you’re not, you probably won’t, and therein lies the limit to its marketability.

Ora Stearns Smith writes with great spiritual enthusiasm, clearly believing in what she has written and in her role to share it with other women. I wish her much success.

Reviewed by Kaye Trout - February 15, 2007


P.S. Read LLC
Booklocker.com, Inc.
Genre: Mystery
Rating: Good
ISBN: 1601451083, $12.95, 140 pp.

Patricia Stinson is an educated writer and has provided us with three short mysteries packaged in a delightful, eye-catching cover by Julie Sartain. Who Done It? is an easy, fast, fun read to help us relax and rejuvenate. I would have to say that Enduring Love, the last story in the book, was my favorite because the murder was solved in an unusual way by the murdered woman.

Patricia Stinson has extensive experience as a teacher, including teaching for two years in the jungles of New Guinea, and brings a unique perspective to her mystery writing. If you are a lover of the short mystery genre, I can indeed recommend this book. It is well written and well edited. Enjoy!

Reviewed by Kaye Trout - February 15, 2007

Saturday, February 10, 2007


2021 Pine Lake Rd, Lincoln, NE
Genre: Fiction/Adventure Mystery
Rating: Very Good
ISBN: 0595395074, $17.95, 282 pp.

Out of Hell’s Kitchen is a story about a new pop drug on the scene–Rave N. What is this drug, what does it do, and who are the people who make and distribute it? Rave N is the key in this fast-paced ,intrigue-oriented, action adventure for Luke Hawthorn as his friends begin to disappear.

John Hanzl’s writing style and story are similar in some ways to Robert Ludlum’s earlier novels–a definite plus. John has an exciting style which draws you in and keeps you turning the pages. In addition he has a rich vocabulary and is masterful at description and depth which add a distinct richness for his readers. There’s lots of action and intrigue here, and the conclusion may surprise you.

Yes, I can highly recommend Out of Hells’ Kitchen to readers who enjoy mystery, action, intrigue and a well-written novel.

Reviewed by Kaye Trout - February 10, 2007

Friday, February 09, 2007

A SAFE POSITION by Kathleen M. Burke

Llumina Press
7915 W. McNab Rd, Tamarac, FL
Genre: Fictionalized Memoir
Rating: Good
ISBN 159526454X, $14.95, 220 pp.

Kathleen Burke tells this tale as a memoir, and it is possible much of it is true . . . based on her personal experiences as a teacher and counselor . . . how much and exactly what we’ll never know for sure. She is a very good writer and will grab and hold you throughout. Allow me to quote from her introduction:

"Some lessons can best be learned with a story. This story is fiction. It is based on events and people I encountered during my twenty-nine years in public education. Parts of it are tongue-in-cheek, while others are dead serious. My imagination was employed to enhance the reality of my world; my purpose was to supply a glimpse of one individual’s history. Teachers are the tools of policies, whether federal, state, or local. Often, instructors become scapegoats when they’re merely enforcing directives from a higher authority. Generations change in experiences, needs, and personalities, based on their environment. We should continually study trends to devise solutions that accommodate such transitions. I hope this book will provide a springboard from which to launch future dialogues among faculty, parents, and anyone else who may be interested."

If this little intro stirs your interest, check her out. You won’t be disappointed and most likely pleasantly surprised by her style and the quality of writing.

Reviewed by Kaye Trout - February 9, 2007