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.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

THE ADVENTURES OF D'ARTELLO - Book One: Love and War by Donald Previe

Genre: Fantasy/Adventure/Action
Rating: Excellent
ISBN: 9781462042166, $16.95.

The Adventures of D’artello is a prolifically action-packed fantasy adventure with a tight cast of characters: our protagonist, D’artello, the young warrior; Tanya, his young adopted sister; Joseph, a warrior friend; Gerrik, supreme warrior and D’artello’s father; Sali, an ex-girlfriend; Gina, a female warrior, Phantoms, Alphas, Harmony, Unity, Elan, King Garo and Arbello, the winged evil one. The story begins in the Kingdom of Vaukry and ends at Arbello’s ice pslace.

In Chapter 1 D’artello finds himself in a dream of darkness and danger. He is told by the Peacemaker, Harmony, “Rise, my warrior, as you will save all of humankind.” He replies, “You keep saying that, but how could I accomplish such a feat?” To which she replies, “Oh, my dear D’artello, you will know soon enough. Enjoy the last of your life with mortals. Soon you will soat with the Peacemakers.”

And so, we are led to believe...this is going to be a typical hero faces challenges to save the world, but in truth, you will genuinely be surprised at the conclusion of the first in this adventure series.

I will not say anything further about the story, but I do want to express my admiration for Donald Previe’s writing gift...his style and quality, imagery, imagination, descriptive ability, tempo and flow. As I am not a fan of the fantasy genre, it was Donald’s quality of writing that kept me reading. If you like lots and lots of combative encounters between warriors and adversaries, you will absolutely love The Adventures of D’artello.

Donald has been writing since he was 8 years old and is now 22. I do hope as he continues to write that he will express his gift in other genres beside fantasy. The Adventures of D’artello has not been published as yet by either mainstream or POD publishers, and the only way to get a copy is to contact Donald directly via email at: dprevie@gmail.com. If you’re a fantasy buff, you will not be disappointed.

Kaye Trout - July 30, 2011

Sunday, July 24, 2011

IRISES TO ASHES by Charlie Hudson

Outskirts Press, Inc.
Parker, CO
Genre: Fiction - Family/Adventure/Dreams
Rating: Very Good
ISBN: 9781432773892, $16.95, 317 pp.

Quoting from the back cover:

“Young Maggie Stewart loves the beaches of the Outer Banks, but that doesn’t take away from her desire to travel beyond the ocean’s edge. She knows that her family expects her to marry and settle down. It is an unexpected encounter with Amelia Hatcher, the village recluse, that leads to surprising opportunities that can open a path for Maggie to find a new future. Thus begins the intertwined stories of Maggie and Amelia; a fifteen year relationship between a young woman seeking to find her own way and an older woman seeking redemption for a past she has kept shrouded in secret.

“Charlie Hudson, military veteran and author, brings a different type of book in Irises to Ashes. Her comfortable writing style and touches of humor are still present in a story that explores self-discovery and the price we sometimes pay for choices that we make. See all of Charlie’s books at www.charliehunson.net.”

Irises to Ashes is divided into 3 parts: Part One - Maggie’s Beginning - Summer 1976 - Summer 1978, Part Two - Maggie’s Time - Fall 1978 - Spring 1992, and Part Three - Amelia’s Secrets - April 1992. This is not only a novel about young Maggie Stewart’s self-discovery but also about the de-mystification of Amelia Hatcher. Throughout Hudson’s novel the page-turning tension flows from one page to the next...starting with: will she give up her virginity to Billy Ray?; how can she get to know the recluse Amelia?; how to keep their relationship a secret; how to work around obstinate parents; how to get to Paris; will she succeed?; dealing with negative family jealousy; having to choose between family expectations and a successful career; and why no meaningful relationships? Then, you find out the secrets that led Amelia to choose the life of a recluse..

Irises To Ashes has a great beginning to pull you in, tension to keep you turning, and a satisfying conclusion to fit the title. Hudson excels at descriptive writing and character development which bring this story to life. Can you relate to her Maggie?...might you distort the truth to get what you want? And, in some ways, Irises to Ashes is a light mystery...will she break from family?, will she succeed?, what are Amelia’s dark secrets? Other books by Charlie Hudson include: Your Room at the End, Parallel Worlds, Islands in the Sand, Orchids in the Snow, Shades of Murder, Parents’ Guide to Business Travel. And yes, I can highly recommend this novel.

Kaye Trout - July 24, 2011

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

YOUR ROOM AT THE END - Thoughts About Aging We'd Rather Avoid by Charlie Hudson

Brown Books Small Press
Dallas, TX
Genre: Non-fiction - Aging Issues
Rating: Excellent
ISBN: 13: 9781612547657, 200 pp., currently available on Kindle - $5.59.

Quoting from the back cover:
“After enduring several painful months witnessing the decline and ultimate death of a loved one, author Charlie Hudson recognized that she needed to radically change her views on the realities of aging. Known for her easy storytelling style in both nonfiction and fiction, Hudson departs from her usual subject matter here, tackling aging, mental decline, and death–topics we so often avoid.

“Hudson’s perspective reaches far beyond the knowledge that we will all pass away; in Your Room at the End she weaves her own experiences with advice from doctors, nurses, accountants, estate experts, and other professionals providing answers to questions we are reluctant to ask or never even knew we had to ask.”

Your Room at the End is an exceptional collection of pertinent information for all aging seniors and their families. The book is divided into 2 sections: Part I - This is Not Supposed to Happen to Me and Part II - Enhancing and Sustaining Quality of Life. In Part I there are 6 chapters: 1) Aging and Death: What to Fight and What to Negotiate; 2) Defining Your Quality of Life; 3) Golden Years–More or Less; 4) Basic Financial and Other Planning; 5) What Kind of Care? Where? When?; 6) Who Gets to Choose?. Part II does not have chapters but succinct sections, i.e. Balancing Your Life Program, When Physical Rehabilitation Is Required, Building or Reinventing Your Space, What Technology Helps?, Downsizing Made Easier, Practical Pets, Galaxies and 1,000-Piece Puzzles, Considerations for Independent Living or Care Facilities, Summing It Up.

The title, Your Room at the End, is a very appropriate title and for some unknown reason reminded me of another significant book in my life, A Room of Your Own by Virginia Woolf. The cover has a poignant ambience--an artistic truthfulness–about it. The book is attractive, professionally presented and well edited.

Charlie Hudson is an consummate writer...I’ve reviewed many of her books. She generally does an excellent job, but in Your Room at the End Charlie has excelled beyond her norm. She’s done a superb job in her research, organization and presentation of information to assist us in making difficult decisions as we become seniors. I’ll be 70 myself this year and have already had to make changes, plans and decisions. None of us know what lies ahead, but we can plan to the best of our ability and financial situation with the assistance of family, and this book will help you do just that. I highly recommend Your Room at the End.

Kaye Trout - July 20, 2011

Friday, July 15, 2011

THUMPERTOP - The Art of Building a Moonshine Still by Robert Devillier

Self Published
Genre: Memoir/Short Stories/How To
Rating: Very Good
ISBN: 9781460957783, $14.95, 82 pp.

Quoting from the back cover:

“Automobiles of yesterday, moonshine runners and building of whiskey stills is an art.

“Appalachian Mountains, leaving your doors unlocked was a common thing at night. Most of the Appalachia are genuine old folks: if they like you, they like you, and if they do not like you, it is better to keep going on down the road. Once you get to know the Appalachian folks, they would carry on until you have had a little of their moonshine, showing off their handcrafted liquor still and tell you it is a dying art. These folks are not your everyday bootleggers; they just want to make them a little shine to keep on hand.

“It is the responsibility of the buyer of this book to keep out of trouble if using this information to build a liquor still.”

I thoroughly enjoyed this little–part memoir, short stories and how to–book from beginning to end. There are ten chapters. The first nine are short stories and the tenth gives you plans and recipes for making moonshine. It’s an interesting subject and the stories are personal and down to earth. The cover photo is of an old-time whiskey still...historic and unique. Throughout the book there are drawings of significant trucks and cars plus detailed illustrations of the stills to be built.

Robert Devillier tells a good story and does an excellent job putting it all together. There were a few editing errors but nothing significant. They certainly did not detract from the stories. I think just about anyone would enjoy Thumpertop.

Kaye Trout - July 15, 2011

Tuesday, July 05, 2011


Illustrated by Jeff Moyes
Booklocker.com, Inc.
Genre: Juvenile Literature
Rating: Very Good
ISBN: 978160910, $12.95, 48 pp.

Quoting from the back cover:

“Caden and Corey, young brothers and best friends, are spending the night with their dad in a teepee on Old Baldy Mountain. It is the dead of winter and the darkness and cold and snow are unrelenting. The three hardy campers cook dinner over their campfire and are about to turn in for a good night’s sleep when Corey peers out of the teepee and sees something terrifying. It’s big, it’s growling, and it’s coming to get them!”

A Snowy Night On Old Baldy Mountain is a delightful story full of excitement, danger and adventure. Considering the book has only 48 pages, you can imagine that it is jam packed and moves right along. It’s believable, exciting, and entertaining. A young child would certainly enjoy this story.

Edward Fotheringill is a professor of philosophy at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, Maryland, and A Snowy Night On Old Baldy Mountain is his first children’s book The cover is colorful, attractive and fun; the illustrations by Jeff Moyes add to the reality of the wintery adventure.

Other novels by Edward Fotheringill include: Lanterns in the Mist, Darkness Withdrawn OR The Eclipse of Nietzsche’s Shadow, Halfmoon Confidential, Anaximander’s Annex. If you like quality metaphysical mysteries by a consummate, intelligent writer, join the cult and read one of the above.

Kaye Trout - July 5, 2011

Sunday, July 03, 2011

MIDNIGHT TANGO by Edward Fotheringill

Booklocker.com, Inc.
Genre: Fictional Metaphysical Novel
Rating: Excellent
ISBN: 9781614342496, $16.95, 180 pp.

Quoting from the back cover:

“Dick Byron is back! In this sequel to Lanterns in the Mist, the mystical, excommunicated priest is tracking the whereabout of a friend, Jacob Frobisher, who has gone missing. Byron’s odyssey is both geographic and spiritual as he navigates his way through the northeast United States, visiting the strange, iconoclastic friends with whom Jacob has confided in the past. The journey culminates in the surreal coastal desert of Baja, Mexico where the distinctions between life and death and good and evil become a psychological and ethical blur.”

Midnight Tango is Edward Fotheringill’s fifth print-on-demand (POD) published novel. I have enjoyed and reviewed each one. Of all my POD authors, Edward is my favorite. His quality of writing is consistent; I like his writing style–a warp and woof of short, tight chapters ; his vocabulary is challenging; his intelligence shines through–he’s a teacher of philosophy and intellectual history at the Maryland Institute College of Art; and the novels are finely edited. He can take a simple subject–the search for a missing friend–and make it into a metaphysical journey.

Typically, I do not write in or mark up the books I review because I give them to our local library when finished. However, when reading one of Ed’s novels, I just cannot help myself from marking and underlining portions that are meaningful and significant. There are always mysteries left unanswered–why did he include such and such, what was the significance of...?–and yet, there is a solid beginning and closure.

As I read Byron’s odyssey in search of Jacob, it reminded me somewhat of The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery and what we learned through the dialogues the little prince had with the characters he encountered as he traveled from planet to planet in his quest. Midnight Tango might be thought of as a contemporary along this line.

I cannot understand why Edward Fotheringill’s novels have not been picked up my mainstream publishers by now, but then, I’m a nobody...a figment of my own imagination. Edward, however, is a consummate, quality writer with something insightful worth saying in a world filled with illusions, delusions and lots of noise. Once he is discovered, all his novels (Lanterns in the Mist, Darkness Withdrawn OR Eclipse of Nietzsche’s Shadow, Halfmoon Confidential, and Anaximander’s Annex) will be best sellers and a cult following, along the lines of Tom Robbins, will ensue. Am I a psychic? No, not that I’d admit, but I’ll make the above prophecy. Did I like Midnight Tango? Yes, very much, and I prophesy that you will too.

Kaye Trout - July 3, 2011