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.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Phoenix, Arizona
Genre: Memoir
Rating: Excellent
ISBN: 9780974753461, $10.00, 143 pp.

Refreshing!!! Nice to know I still have a sense of humor. Was beginning to wonder after reviewing several books hyped as witty or wickedly funny which weren't...at least to me.

Basically, B-Shifter is 13 chapters and multiple short stories from Nick Brunacini’s life as a second generation firefighter in the Phoenix Fire Department. He starts with his father, Alan Brunacini, and family; describes fire station life–cooking, cleaning, shifts, cult attitudes; tells about women, fighting fires, and emergency services; and ends with “Our dysfunctional family helping your dysfunctional family.”

Besides being hilarious, the book is very informative. In Chapter 5, we learn what the title B-Shifter means:

“Most organizations with around-the-clock staffing have three eight-hour shifts. Fire departments don’t. Our ancients chose to work 24-hour shifts. Instead of having morning, swing and graveyard shifts, we have A, B and C shifts. If you were to visit a fire station every day for a week, you might not notice much difference between the shifts assigned to that station. To the casual observer, the firefighters pretty much look and act the same. This changes dramatically once you join the organization and get categorized as an A-, B- or C-shifter. The shifts’ personalities are at the core of all of our stereotypes and are also the stuff of legend.”

Nick Brunacini is a consummate, educated writer with a special gift–humor, and it’s Nick’s humor and honesty that define his writing style and make this memoir unique. The book is extremely well edited and very tight. Here’s another brief sample from page 13:

“When I was 6 years old, I wanted to be a Chevy truck. I have been imbalanced most of my life, but this is not entirely my fault. I was forcibly pulled from my mother’s womb with a set of stainless-steel salad tongs. Adding insult to injury, the doctor proceeded to smack me hard on the ass, and the very next day, some sadistic bastard cut off part of my dick. This series of events was so traumatic, I wasn’t able to walk for a year. I have spent my life coping with these weighty issues.”

To me, the essence of B-Shifter is expressed by the Chinese word ‘jen’–sometimes defined as benevolence, but a better definition might be ‘humanheartedness’.

Confucius considered jen to be the highest virtue but one he refused to define. It is above righteousness, justice, and propriety and involves the principle that human nature is a fundamentally good arrangement, including not only our virtuous side but also our passionate side, our appetites and our wayward inclinations, or what Alan Watts liked to call ‘the element of irreducible rascality’, that God put into all human beings and put it there because it was a good thing. It was good for human beings to have these two elements in them. So, a truly humanhearted person is a gentleman with a slight touch of rascality, just as one has to have salt in a stew. Confucius said “the goodie-goodies are the thieves of virtue,” meaning that to try to be holy righteous is to go beyond humanity.

Humanheartedness ...you won’t be disappointed, and the price is right.

Kaye Trout - September 27, 2009

Saturday, September 12, 2009

SMALL BUSINESS RU!ES by Mathew Dickerson

The 52 Essential Ru!es to be Successful in Small Business
Artwork by Paul Zanetti
Genre: Self-help
Rating: Good
ISBN: 9781419689437, $34.95, 140 pp.

Quoting from the back cover:

“From one of Australia’s leading IT entrepreneurs comes essential insight into running and expanding your small business. Do you set your standards high enough? Do you maximise the talents of your employees? This book gives you a straightforward, hands-on and humorous guide to help you:...”

In my educated opinion, if you have a small business, you’ll find nothing new here that you haven’t already heard or read. However, there are 52 colorfully illustrated cartoons by Paul Zanetti and these are entertaining. There is basically one page for each rule and one page for each cartoon. The text is double spaced and the print is dark for easy reading. Do I think the information in this book is worth $35? No, but remember...set your standards high and Rule 13, Life isn’t fair! The sooner you accept it the better.”

Kaye Trout - September 12, 2009


BookLocker.com, Inc.
Genre: Non-fiction
Rating: Very Good
ISBN: 9781601458445, $15.95, 208 pp.

Quoting from the back cover:

“Charlie Hudson has written a book that is long overdue. Islands in the Sand is a lucid account of the history and the importance of artificial reefs. She has done her homework. Fascinating facts and background detail are spiced with informative interviews with people who have conceptualized, designed, manufactured, or deployed various forms of manmade marine habitats. Her compelling treatment examines these burgeoning oases from a variety of angles, giving readers the multifaceted viewpoints of the main beneficiaries: anglers, divers, scientists, anyone who cares about the environment, and the creatures that take residence in their newfound abode. She clearly demonstrates why artificial reefs are for the betterment of all. Her lyric prose is a testament to modern educational theory, proving elegantly that one can both instruct and entertain at the same time.

“Gary Gentle, Author, lecturer, photographer, explorer, and deep-sea wreck-diver.”

This is, indeed, what Islands in the Sand is about and makes Charlie’s book a “must have” for anyone interested in artificial reefs. It’s informative, entertaining and the price is reasonable.

Charlie Hudson is a retired U.S. Army veteran with a love for scuba diving and a passion for writing. Not only does Charlie have a passion, she is a gifted, educated writer. I have reviewed several of her fiction novels in the past, became a fan, and had this to say about Shades of Truth:

“Of course, there’s nothing new about mystery genre–you have a bad guy who is pursued by a good guy or gal, as this case may be. But what is new and unique and the challenge for the writer is the telling–those unexpected twists and turns that keep you turning the page. Charlie Hudson’s plot is solid, her characters come alive, the setting is real, and her style is smooth and colorful. She’s clearly an accomplished writer....”

Other books by Charlie Hudson include Shades of Gold, Shades of Truth, Orchids in the Snow, Shades of Murder, and The Parent’s Guide to Business Travel. You can find out more about Charlie Hudson at http://charliehudson.net.

Kaye Trout - September 12, 2009

Tuesday, September 01, 2009


Genre: Children’s fiction
Rating: Average
ISBN: 9781439242810, $12.99, 26 pp.

Jack’s Dreams Come to Life is a simple little story about a dog named Jack on his ranch and a bad dream. I don’t think there’s any message here for young children (that I can discern), but the lively illustrations are well done with muted colors and a unique texture. Also, professional editing wouldn’t hurt.

Is this 22-page picture book worth $12.99 ($13)? Maybe that’s a little high, but if you’re interested, go to Amazon.com and take a look for yourself.

Kaye Trout - September 1, 2009