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, July 10, 2007

by Pat Frank
Llumina Press
PO Box 772246, Coral Springs, FL
Genre: Fiction
Rating: Good
ISBN: 9781595267108, $11.95, 205 pp.

Beyond Jack Squat is a historical novel about a young boy, Jack, born into poverty, left by his parents to be raised by his Uncle Clive who has to leave after breaking the law. Jack must choose between the orphanage or going on the road with his hobo friends. The road and Jack’s adventures with the people he meets are the heart of this novel.

In some ways, the telling of this story reminds me of Mark Twain’s tales of Tom Sawyer’s and Huck Finn’s adventures, but with a contemporary twist. Pat Frank’s writing style is straight forward and fast paced with a touch of colloquial dialogue . . . never a dull moment and thoroughly entertaining. Her chapters are short, and her characters are simple people with strong feelings, beliefs and real problems.

It is my opinion that Beyond Jack Squat could appeal to just about any reader for its storyline and Pat Frank’s quality of writing.

Reviewed by Kaye Trout - July 10, 2007

Monday, July 09, 2007

by Lucy Kavaler
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Rd, Lincoln, NE
Genre: Nonfiction/Educational/Nature
Rating: Excellent
ISBN: 059543679x, $22.95, 320 pp.

Mushrooms, Molds, and Miracles is a fascinating book! One might not think so from its title and though it is not filled with beautiful pictures of the subject matter, Lucy Kavaler does an exceptional job of organizing and narrating her subject to the point that it is difficult to put down. This scientific book is organized into six sections: Fungi and Mankind, Fungi as Food, Fungi and Your Health, Fungi and Our Crops, Fungi and the Things You Use, and Fungi and the Conquest of Space . . . and then into sub-chapters.

As fungi are an integral part of our lives, this book should appeal to just about everyone. Would you like to know about edible mushrooms, the Irish potato famine or the mold that changed medical history? How about mind drugs (LSD-25) or the search for life? Lucy Kavaler has covered all facets of fungi and presented this information in a most readable manner. Her book is well written, well edited, and here’s a sample of her writing style from page 167:

"The cult of the sacred mushroom moved to the United States as a result of its shattering effect on Dr. Timothy Leary, a handsome thirty-nine-year-old Harvard lecturer on psychology. While visiting in Cuernavaca, Mexico, in the summer of 1960, Leary was given a mushroom which a friend had bought from a native woman called ‘Crazy Juana.’

"‘I realized that I had died,’ he said after recovering from the effects, ‘that I, Timothy Leary, the Timothy Leary game was gone. . . . I went back in time in an evolutionary sense to where I was aware of being a one-celled organism.’

"Leary returned to Harvard with a sense of mission. He was in a position to influence others, being no crackpot, but a possessor of a Ph.D. in clinical psychiatry. He had left a position as director of psychological research at the Oakland (Calif.) Kaiser Foundation to join Harvard’s Center for Research in Personality in 1959. His experience with the mushroom struck him as being remarkably similar to those described by Aldous Huxley in his book, The Doors of Perception. Huxley’s visions had been induced by mescaline, a drug derived from the peyote cactus and also used for centuries by the Mexican Indians. Under its influence, Huxley said that he could see in a small vase of flowers ‘what Adam had seen on the morning of creation.’ Leary discussed the nature of the drug experience with Huxley who was at that time a visiting professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology."

Interested? . . . want more? Read Lucy’s book . . . it’s absolutely fascinating.

Reviewed by Kaye Trout - July 9, 2007

Saturday, July 07, 2007

by Lisa Bernstein
Llumina Press
PO Box 77246, Coral Springs, FL
Genre: Memoir
Rating: Good
ISBN: 9781595267337, $11.95, 144 pp.

Girls Only: No Strokes Allowed!, an unusual title, is a memoir of Lisa Bernstein’s experience of suffering a Vertebral Artery Dissection (cerebellar infarct) at the age of thirty-four.

Lisa tells us what her life was like before her stroke, during the stroke and her recovery. She briefly describes eight different types of strokes and provides a list of twenty contributing risk factors, some quite surprising, such as: yoga, having your hair done, blowing your nose, painting a ceiling, cracking your neck, stretching your neck too far to one side, holding a phone to your ear with your shoulder, oral contraceptives, minor trauma to the neck, judo, chronic headaches, spinal manipulation, deep tissue massage . . . to name a few. She stresses that her list is not complete as the simplest tasks can disrupt your life in a matter of days.

Lisa has written this little book to share her stroke experience, what she learned and how she recovered. Her story is well written, informative, inspirational and a heads-up to us gals working to take care of our bodies. She currently lives in Texas with her husband and spends her time speaking publicly for stroke awareness.

If you want to know more about strokes, Lisa’s memoir may be of interest to you.

Reviewed by Kaye Trout - July 7, 2007