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.

Monday, September 29, 2008

DOWN TO A SUNLESS SEA by Mathias B. Freese

Tucson, Arizona
Genre: Fictional/Short Stories
ISBN: 1587367335, $11.86, 148 pp.

When this small book was submitted to me for a review, it came with gold award stickers on the cover–Allbooks Reviews Editor’s Choice and Indie Excellence Finalist Book Awards–plus fourteen pages of supporting interviews and prior reviews. As I did not care for the book, I wrote to the author saying that I would not be doing a review as I did not feel I was qualified to do so. If so many people thought it had some merit, and I didn’t...then there must be something wrong with me. The author then asked me to return his book. As I have no intention of going to the expense of returning an unsolicited book, here are my thoughts after reading these tales.

Down to a Sunless Sea is a collection of fifteen short, depressing stories. I personally did not care for the collection or the author’s writing style–too affected for my taste. The collection felt in someways to be a personal memoir but rather than present it directly as such, he chopped it up into disassociated tales, and though the stories are very short, he regularly managed to mention a penis, if only for a few lines.

My question would be ‘why’. Why was Mathias B. Freese compelled to write such a depressing collection?...catharsis? Unless you have a penchant for sad stories about childhood problems growing up, you may wish to spend your money elsewhere.

Kaye Trout - September 29, 2008

Friday, September 26, 2008


Infinity Publishing
West Conshohocken, PA
Genre: Fiction/Mystery
Rating: Very Good
ISBN: 0741449722, $16.95, 288 pp.

Quoting from the back cover:

"Someone is killing the A-List actors of Hollywood and leaving a defaced DVD of one of their films at the crime scene. Follow Detective Frank Callahan, a big, rough and tumble sort of guy who happens to be gay, as he pursues the DVD killer through bath houses and cruising grounds, on a chase around Magic Mountain, and other L.A. landmarks. Witness Callahan’s evolution from a seeker of personal glory to team player and his monumental showdown with a gay-bashing rival detective. Good, old-fashioned police work leads to the killer’s downfall in a climax reminiscent of Hollywood’s legendary gangster films."

I enjoyed The DVD Murders very much. As always...nothing is simple–the human condition is complex and multi-faceted. Bob Frey does an excellent job of portraying his gay protagonist and aspects of the gay lifestyle. The "gay" element of this mystery certainly gives the novel a unique twist, adds some humor and insight. You may not like all you learn from this novel, but at least you’ll come away with a better understanding. Yes, I would recommend this book on many levels.

Kaye Trout - September 26, 2008


BookSurge, LLC
Genre: Fiction
Rating: Good
ISBN: 18663086235, $9.99, 98 pp.

Quoting from the back cover:

"The Plantation is a book about the ancient battle between good and evil. Author, Frank Stoppa takes the reader into a world of hedonistic pleasures where the line between right and wrong becomes blurred by love, passion, lust, and greed. The protagonist, Samuel faces the battle of his life: to reclaim not only his soul, but the soul of the love of his life, Juliet. Samuel and Juliet take a journey into a world of voodoo rituals and unimaginable depravity that will cause them to question their faith, their beliefs and ultimately, their place in eternity."

This little novella is a fast, entertaining read right to the finish, reminiscent of an Ambrose Bierce tale. Frank J. Stoppa has an active imagination, and I did enjoy it; however, my one constructive criticism would be that it be professionally edited as there are more than a few grammatical errors.

Kaye Trout - September 26, 2008

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

P IS FOR PERIL by Sue Grafton

G. P. Putnam’s Sons
New York
Genre: Fiction/Mystery
Rating: Very Good
ISBN: 0399147195, $26.95, 352 pp.

If you’re familiar with the fictional mystery genre, then the name Sue Grafton is not new to you, nor her alphabetical Kinsey Millhone series. You might say Kinsey is a grown-up Nancy Drew with a Private Investigator’s license. In P is for Peril, Kinsey is hired to find a missing doctor...sounds very simple and straight forward. However, it doesn’t take long before the author has you pulled into multiple mysteries and everyone is a suspect with a good motive.

As far as writing style, Ms Grafton’s style has a formula feel to it, i.e, bring in a new character or house and she immediately describes he/she/it in extensive detail, and detail seems to be her forte. I personally could do without so much detail. Who cares what particular items Kinsey purchased at the grocery store or how she placed her umbrella or hung her coat. But, that’s just my taste.

Kaye Trout - September 3, 2008

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

POWER TOOLS by Binyamin Klempner, MSW, Life Coach

Powerful Thoughts and Questions for Personal Excellence
BookSurge Publishing,
North Charleston, SC
Genre: Self-Help/Inspirational
Rating: Good
ISBN: 1439202311, $15.99, 266 pp., Dimensions-6.5x5.5

Quoting from the back cover:

"Do you have a vision of the life you want, but feel you might need some help in realizing that vision? Are you having trouble achieving your personal, family, and professional goals?

"Think of this book as your personal life coach, here to help you take full advantage of the skills and knowledge that you already possess.

"Through thought-provoking stories and practical exercises, you and the author will work together to help you define, reach, and master your goals.

"Your life is a journey and you have the ability to set its direction. A lesson in spirituality in action, this book is designed to provide you with tools you can use to build the life your want."

The majority of the books I receive to review are "self-help" books...the authors tell us how we can improve ourselves and our lives. I read them all with hopes of finding something new and innovative (sure could use some improvement), and when I do, I’ll let you know.

Power Tools doesn’t have anything new or innovative for self-help readers, but how it is presented is appealing. Its size is unique, small and thick; colorful cover and quality paper; the print is dark and easy to read; each page is a different topic; it includes many AA principles–a definite plus; and the manner in which Klempner conveys his help is more appealing than some self-help gurus. Power Tools is an inspirational little book...an excellent bedtime or sitting-on-the-john read.

Isn’t it nice to know that there are so many people out there wanting to help us live better lives and make a few bucks along the way. Some become very successful, such as Dan Millman. Dan taught at my Gymnastic Studio in San Francisco while he was writing his Way of the Peaceful Warrior.

Kaye Trout - September 2, 2008


Javelin Publishing
Genre: Educational
Rating: Average
ISBN: 9780981683768, $22.95, 160 pp.

Quoting from the Press Release:

"The effective management of people is a critical issue with which business leaders struggle on a daily basis. The popular view of leadership is to try to understand the personalities, interests and attitudes of those being lead. Through this understanding will come better relationships and in turn, better outcomes for the company.

"‘Wrong,’ says John Roulet.... According to Roulet, the current management paradigm is severely flawed in many respects. Its greatest flaw, however, is in the mistaken premise that business leaders manage people. Great leadership is not about managing people, it is about managing performance...."

Everything about this book–the hardcover, pages, dust jacket, editing, organization, and Javelin Publishing’s promotion material–is top quality, including all the hype and positive comments on the back cover. I read this book from cover to cover and thought: ‘This is just common sense with a lot of fancy words.’ It is not dynamic or innovative. Possibly an elementary school might include it in a Management 101 class. I certainly would not recommend spending $22.95 for the information in this book.

Kaye Trout - September 2, 2008

Monday, September 01, 2008


Llumina Press
Genre: Self Help
ISBN: 9781605940458, $9.95, 132 pp.

Quoting from the back cover:

"All of us go through life once. Life is not a rehearsal. Life is a series of choices that lead us to our destiny. We make choices about all our actions in life, such as how we treat others, how we communicate to others and how we help or hurt others. We choose the kind of jobs that we want to do, where we want to live, and the kind of families that we want to have.

"Life can be deceiving and we’re not always sure what to believe about the kind of world that we think this is. A lot of things don’t make any sense. We don’t always know what we want out of life or who we really are. Few, if any of us, ever reach our full potential intellect.

"Life may not be as easy as we think. It’s a tough world and life isn’t that easy for all of us. Life is hard work, and we should be prepared for what life deals out. The more that we educate ourselves and understand the mysteries about life on Earth, the easier our lives can be. All of us are looking for the brass ring, and we may wish to know many things to get the best out of our lives.

"To be successful and happy, we have to make the right choices. Every day and every minute we have choices to make, even if they’re not to make any choices and to do nothing. Most of our choices care be very difficult. Our choices can affect our friends, our families, our co-workers, and anybody else that comes into our lives. If we make the wrong choices, our lives become harder to live. Our lives can be full of problems. We know that our futures are going to be full of choices, and at this very moment we are going to start making the right ones."

This little book has been written from a good heart with hopes to inspire. David W. Dorris has done a good job at getting down to basics and everyday problems. He writes in a straight-forward, simplistic style as he tells us how he preceives the world and what we should do. Life Is Too Short is well edited and for the price of $9.95, you might give it a try.

Kaye Trout - September 1, 2008