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 14, 2008


Outskirts Press, Inc.
Parker, CO
Genre: Juvenile Fiction
Rating: Very Good
ISBN: 9781432715335, $12.95, 40 pp.

Quoting from the back cover:

"On a rainy day, with nothing to do, Lexie uses her imagination to create an imaginary friend to play with. She names her new friend Lolly, because his colorful appearance reminds her of lollipop flavors. Lolly shows Lexie that by using their imagination, they can go on all sorts of adventures, even though they can’t play outside. What Can We Do Next? Is a delightful new children’s book that shows kids that they can use their imagination to conjure up their own fun, any time, any place. When you use your imagination, there is no limit to what can be done!"

This is a simple, easy-to-read story about how children can use their imagination, rain or shine, to entertain themselves–not a bad idea...an imaginary best friend. The illustrations are fun, well done and colorful.

Toula Magi’s inspiration to write her first children’s book came while watching her daughter at play. Now, that inspiration has manifested itself into a delightful little book...one I’m certain young children will enjoy again and again.

Kaye Trout - October 14, 2008

Friday, October 10, 2008

SPIRIT MATTERS by Matthew J. Pallamary

Mystic Ink Publishing
Carlsbad, CA
Genre: Memoir
Rating: Exceptional
ISBN: 9781434318015, $21.99, 250 pp.

Quoting from the back cover:

"Spirit touches us in every moment of our existence; only most of us are caught up in the dramas that we have created in our lives, blinding us to a reality far greater than anything we can imagine with our rational minds.

"It is simply a matter of awareness.

"Though we often feel lost and abandoned in a cold and uncaring world, the truth is that we live in the illusion of our own self-created exile, away from the Source of our being which has never stopped loving us–unconditionally.

"The time has come to awaken and pass through the darkness of our fear induced slumber to embrace the light of truth, and find our way back to the infinite light of love that comes to us from the Source of all creation.

"Awareness is presence, which means being fully present, in the present, right here, right now, in this moment, standing in the light of truth, which is the greatest present anyone can receive.

"Matthew Pallamary’s SPIRIT MATTERS chronicles his life long search for truth, which took him from the false spirituality of a violent concrete jungle in an Irish Catholic ghetto in Boston, to the discovery of true spirituality in the jungles of the Amazon where he discovered the truth.

"Spirit DOES matter."

As a reviewer, I have read many memoirs–some written to give advice, educate, encourage, inspire...to help us through difficult times/problems, some to rant and some to rave. We all have a story to tell and with the help of POD publishers, many people have taken up the challenge write.

Matthew Pallamary’s Spirit Matters is one exceptional memoir (not POD) on many levels: 1) It is an honest accounting of his drug use throughout his life in search of new experiences, pushing the limit and ultimately leading to a truth for himself...a trip from selfishness to selflessness; 2) The story is a page-turner and informative; 3) Pallamary is an exceptional, educated writer with a smooth, appealing style. I particularly liked his succinct chapters.

There are many, many books out there about spiritual paths and how to raise ones consciousness. Most of these books are written with an attitude of teacher/student and a small degree of superiority or humorous self-deprecation. How delightful that this is not the case with Matthew Pallamary...how refreshing, how human, how honest.

I agree with Pallamary’s mother, when his writing was compared to Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, Matt’s is better. Allow me to share a few passages with you...one somewhat humorous (so I thought) and the other descriptive.

Page 217 - first day at Amazon jungle camp after the wasp attack:

"I was drenched with sweat after carrying our gear and getting settled in our tambos, so I decided to skinny dip in the tributary. While I was undressing at the water’s edge, a huge black ant bit into my foot. I slapped at him, knocking his body away, but his head remained clamped to my foot, still sucking. I swatted it away and still had to dig out its mandibles, which remained embedded in my flesh."

Page 221 - Jungle life:

"The only word that comes to mind to describe waking up in the rain forest is primeval. The jungle is never quiet. The continuous buzzing, calls, and chatter of inspects and animals fill the day and night, each with their own quality. The night is the loudest. You can find yourself awake in the total black of predawn and sense a subtle shift in the nature of the sounds around you. Though you can see nothing, you know by the shift that sunrise is approaching.

"As the new day dawned through rising jungle mists, the noise of the jungle’s night life drifted into the lower-energy buzz and hum of the day, punctuated by the crises of birds and animals that sounded sweeter, lighter, and less insistent than those of the night. What the life that fills the jungle day lacks compared to the volume of the night it makes up for with visual orchestra. Bugs of all shapes and sizes buzzed and crawled everywhere, as did the lizards. Birds, smaller animals, and bigger ones seen less frequently moved on the ground and in the trees. Hummingbirds, butterflies, moths, insects of all sizes, colors, and markings flitted in the sun, the most spectacular of them el morpho; a large iridescent, cobalt blue butterfly that flutters up and down the waterways."

Such a delightful surprise! Thanks, Matt, and may the spirit with be you.

Kaye Trout - October 10, 2008

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

THE HERETIC QUEEN by Michelle Moran

Crown Publishing Group
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: Very Good
ISBN: 9780307381750, $24.95, 400 pp.

The Heretic Queen is a fictionalized historical novel about the young princess Nefertari, and her challenges in the court of Ramesses II to become his queen and Chief Wife. The struggle for power is always at the heart of political intrigue, and so, it is at the heart of this tale.

Michelle Moran has researched and written a most entertaining and informative novel about ancient Egypt. There’s romance, religion, warfare, and palace intrigue. The novel is well written with an educated style. I enjoyed reading it and can recommend it to anyone interested in historical novels.

Kaye Trout - October 7, 2008

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


Sage Peak Associates, Inc.
Tabernash, CO
Rating: Good
ISBN: 9780981776200, $14.95, 135 pp.

Quoting from the back cover:

"The Essential Employee: R E A C H for your peak and become an Essential Employee!

"What happens when two organization development consultants put their heads together to help employees become more essential in the workplace? The result is an engaging, easy-to-read story based on research and analysis! The story is about Carmen Senz’s first six months at work and the lessons she learns about being an essential employee.

"This book provides great advice for all employees: whether you are preparing for your first job, you’re an employee in search of a new position, you want to stay in the position you have, or if you want a promotion!

"For managers, this book provides valuable information about desirable employee behaviors based on research in small and large organizations.

"For executives, this book will help you understand what skills to promote with your organization’s recruiting and training programs.

"So open up and learn from Carmen’s experience! Find out what it means to be an essential employee!"

Yes, The Essential Employee is an engaging, juvenile little story; it’s well written and well edited and might appeal to children in elementary school. If it were informative to managers or executives, that, indeed, would be a very sad case. As the protagonist’s name Carmen Senz implies, REACH (results, enthusiasm, attitude, cooperation, and honor) should be a matter of common sense. Testing a prospective employee for ‘common sense’ might be the key. Some employees feel they are essential/irreplaceable and take on a superior attitude. However, no employee is irreplaceable. The challenge is to make your boss think you are...essential.

Kaye Trout - October 5, 2008