Category Archives: Non-Fiction

Geraldina & the Compass Rose: One Woman’s Faith-Filled Journey To Find Love by Geraldine Brown Giomblanco

Reviewed by Timea Barabas

Geraldine Brown Giomblanco’s compelling memoir Geraldina & the Compass Rose is an inspirational read that prompts to self-reflection and action. By telling her story in a most candid way, the book outgrows just one person and gradually reveals its reflective surface in which the reader’s own psyche is mirrored.

The novel closely follows the life of a woman along the major spheres of her life: faith, family, career, and love. Throughout the pages, Geri skillfully tries to find balance between all these which proves to be far from an easy task. However, even in the darkest hours, at least one thing remains constant and safely guides her through hardships – a strong devotion that springs from her beloved Grandmother. When least expected, but most needed, subtle divine interventions illuminate the right path.

Geri is a big personality who does not hesitate to rely on wits and instinct to propel her through career and guide her through personal matters. Even so, she is constantly reminded that the road to success is not easy. Often enough she hits the stop button and gathers all strength to restart hoping for a better outcome. The final payoff is well worth it, as she grows ever closer to her aspiration. After flicking through a magazine an image made a great impact on her and it served as a personification of a successful business woman. Striving to grow into that glossy image, she ends up becoming much more. Behind the aesthetics hides a savvy business brain and the courage to break the mold.

Beyond the ups and downs, Geri’s career seems to have a general upward trend, something that cannot easily be said about her love life. She seems to be a lucky love charm to many of her friends at playing a hand in matching them up with a Mister Right but she is having trouble finding the same kind of luck. Geraldine Brown Giomblanco takes us behind closed curtains and reveals some of her most intimate thoughts and actions in a frank and considerate tone. She does not shy away from hurt and heartache nor from passion and blind love. Trying to balance emotions and rationality in romance is a challenging task, but she relies on both in trying to undo some of the more difficult relationships.

All in all, it is Geraldine Brown Giomblanco’s honesty and courage to unravel her life story that makes the novel so appealing. Whether it is in the big picture or the smallest of details, certainly every reader will find a piece of herself or himself in the pages of the author’s life.

Surviving the Survivors: A Memoir by Ruth Klein

Reviewed by Dianne Woodman

Surviving the Survivors: A Memoir is a heart-wrenching life story that will touch readers in deep, emotional ways. Ruth Klein is a second-generation survivor of the Holocaust, and she candidly shares the story of her turbulent childhood in a brutally honest way. Ruth was born in a displaced persons camp in Europe, and the family emigrated to the United States when Ruth was a toddler. A number of factors affected the Klein family and made it far more challenging for the household members to integrate themselves not only into American life but also into a cohesive and loving family. Things such as the psychological trauma that haunted Ruth’s parents because of the Holocaust, the post-war treatment of Jewish refugees, the difficult transition to a new country that included poor living conditions and social rejection, and their father’s struggles with mental health problems.

The Four Hats of Leadership: Be Who Your People Need You to Be by Drake E. Taylor

Reviewed by Dianne Woodman

Drake E. Taylor, an officer in the United States Air Force, advocates four types of hats that will help individuals become effective and successful leaders. The Preface is an excellent tool for drawing readers into The Four Hats of Leadership: Be Who Your People Need You to Be. The four types of hats are The Farmer’s Hat, The Drill Instructor’s Hat, The Psychologist’s Hat, and The Self-Care Hat. Taylor does an excellent job of providing an analogy between a farmer’s job and that of leading a team of people, describing the role of when it is appropriate to use the drill instructor’s hat in a civilian environment, the value of the psychologist hat and ways to help people with their emotional well-being, and the importance of the self-care hat for a leader’s mental health.

Debt Cleanse: How to Settle Your Unaffordable Debts for Pennies on the Dollar (And Not Pay Some at All) by Jorge P. Newbery (Review #2)

Reviewed by Chris Phillips

According to the author and company that this book is basically an advertisement for, www.debtcleanse.com, Americans have been duped by creditors, credit card companies and other corporate entities into carrying on several self-serving relationships based on long-term or extensive term debt.

Mr. Newbery narrates the story of his problems when an unexpected natural disaster turned his business and enterprises into huge debts. He went from successful to broke and owning $26 million in debt in the matter of a few days following an ice storm. Instead of following the way of many in America, from the poorest to the wealthiest, he did not choose bankruptcy. He made the decision to not pay his debts, any of them.

Money Please Come Back: Changing Your Relationship with Money and Growing It by Jeremy Kho

Reviewed by Timea Barabas

Money Please Come BackJeremy Kho came back with another significant book about how to manage your finances. Following The Journey from Poor Procrastinator to Invested Millennia, which encouraged the reader to take charge of his or her finances and become an active economic agent, Money Please Come Back takes things to the next level. This book works as an easy to read step by step guide toward reaching not just financial independence but freedom.

It is easy to get drawn in by the friendly and informal writing style of Jeremy Kho which is more reminiscent of a leisurely but informative conversation than a written text. Also, the financial terminology, which might scare away some, is used in a considerate manner followed by ample explanation and exemplification. The complexity of the economic system is presented in a structured and simplified way so that it can be easily assimilated by those who do not have a background in this domain. However, the most valuable part of the book is its practicality. While relying on a solid theoretical framework, the author put forward a series of steps to follow. The reader can easily act upon the advice presented in the book if he/she desires so. Needless to say, this does not imply that the road will necessarily be easy or risk-free, only that financial freedom is within reach for anyone.

Jeremy Kho encourages the reader to treat finances like any relationship. And as we all know, not all types of relationships are beneficial. The first step is to analyze and define it in order to gain an accurate image of the situation. Once you have a clear vision of where you currently are, you need to do the same with the future. Of course, there is a colorful variety of goals one can have, but the endgame should always be to break free of the shackles of financial strain and reach freedom.

Money Please Come Back was written by Jeremy Kho with the intention of passing on his academic and empirical knowledge. It will certainly prove a useful read for anyone who struggles with money-related issues. The main aim of the book is to help build a healthy relationship with one’s finances and what is more to reach freedom.

Dirty Science: How Unscientific Methods Are Blocking Our Cultural Advancement by Bob Gebelein

Reviewed by Nancy Eaton

Dirty ScienceBob Gebelein begins by stating “This book needs to be written.” “The story needs to be told.” You will discover why he makes this statement as you read this book.

I’m only going to mention a few subjects in this book because I don’t want to give too much away for the readers.

The author begins many of the chapters with a question. “Have you been ridiculed by members of the scientific establishment because of your psychic beliefs?” So, just think about this statement. Many of us have experienced spiritual believes and psychic experiences. What happens when you express these beliefs and experiences to other people? Do they look at you like you are some kind of quack? It doesn’t even have to be someone with a scientific background. These beliefs are ground into our minds because, as the author states, “science has tapped into a human psychological need for authorities who are people who know all the answers”. These scientists believe there is no reality beyond the physical. Therefore, people who express an interest in subjects like clairvoyance, the power of prayer, reincarnation, etc. are dismissed as mentally incompetent. We all know that there is much more to clairvoyance, reincarnation, etc. The author states that he had a dream about his grandmother’s death one hour before he received the telegram. I, also, had an experience similar to this when my father was very ill. I came to the hospital to visit him and he told me that he had a lot of visitors that day. When I asked him who came to visit, every person he named was dead. I knew right then and there that he was getting closer to death. I’m sure many of us have had experiences like this whether it pertained to death, a miracle that happened because of prayer, or how about the times we have gone to a certain place and felt like we have been there before? How about the times when we first met a person and could swear we knew this person before? Could this possibly be anything to do with reincarnation?

Dancing with Death: An Epic and Inspiring Travel Adventure by Jean-Philippe Soulé

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

Dancing with DeathOffering an intensely evocative and aptly titled narrative, Dancing with Death both guides and inspires, armchair adventurers as well as venturesome travelers to the jungles, seas, people and cultures of the world’s “roads” less traveled within the beautiful panoramas of Latin America. Co-authored by co-adventurers Jean-Philippe Soulé and Luke Shullenberger, this dynamic read memorializes not only their experiences during their expansive sea kayaking journey, but also serves to help bring awareness to the cultures and history of the seldom seen or noted native peoples they encountered.

From the start, the story treats the mind to the emotions and visages entwined in this thrilling narrative which memorializes the unforgettable and awe-inspiring expedition by sea touted as a one of a kind undertaking. Author, guide, and adventurer Jean-Philippe Soulé accompanied by fellow adventurer and able friend Luke Shullenberger find themselves and their kayaks sorely tested by weather, tides and their bodies as they paddled thousands of miles braving often life-threatening conditions including near drowning, malaria, shark attacks, crocodiles, guerillas, armed bandits and corruption during their one of a kind undertaking. The overall journey spanning three years, 3000 miles and seven countries included Baja, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. The expedition fully titled as the Central America Sea Kayaking Expedition 2000, but also known as the CASKE2000, was a quest intended as an effort to connect with, learn about and preserve in writing the history of the self-reliant, indigenous peoples and their respect for and relationship with the earth.

Deconstructing Sammy: Music, Money, and Madness by Matt Birkbeck

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Deconstructing SammyQuite a book if you are or are not a music fan but especially if you are a Sammy Davis fan. No, the book doesn’t show the best side of Sammy but if you loved him for his music and his fantastic style you can put aside the other part of the picture that the book paints.

First off he was black at a time when blacks were not accepted very well. Yet when he was a child he performed on stage in the Will Mastin Trio (Mastin was his uncle and Sammy Sr. and Jr performed with him). At age seven he played the starring role in Rufus Jones for President with Ethel Waters. He served in the army in WWII and really began his big time show business career shortly after. He had a terrible automobile accident in 1954 and lost his left eye which was replaced by an artificial one.

Most of this is somewhat glossed over in the book as Birkdeck primarily looks at what happened in Sammy’s life from a financial side and seems to paint the dark side of everything. No doubt that much of what is written is true as he explains about Sammy’s marital and sex life.

Rickles’ Letters: A Memoir by Don Rickles

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Rickles' LettersVery good memoir by one of the favorite comedians from back in the 50’s thru 80’s. I never realized how many movies that Don Rickles was in during his career. Also tons of television shows (he even had his own show for several years).

Suppose it was easy for him to get work after he got started because he became friends with all of the top names in the entertainment industry during those days. Some folks were not always happy with him because his type of humor usually picked on or made fun of someone in the audience. But I suppose if you realized it was all being done in good fun it was alright.

Although Don’s mother, Etta, always believed in him and would tell everyone that he was going to be a great entertainer some day, he had a very slow start and wasn’t accepted very quickly.

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

Reviewed by Allen Hott

UnbrokenThis is quite a story about an Olympic runner from the U.S. team In the Berlin Olympics of 1936. Although he didn’t win the race (he finished 8th) but he ran the fastest final lap not only in the race but of anyone in distance running in the Olympics. His time of 56 seconds was so astounding that Adolf Hitler made a point to meet and congratulate him at the race’s end.

The runner was Louis Silvie Zamperini, son of Italian parents who moved the family to California where they basically lived in severe poverty in the late 20s and early 30s. Louie led a slightly tough young life as he was basically a wild young man. At an early age he was drinking, smoking, and actually living like a bandit in that he would steal food especially as he was always hungry. He always felt that he could fend for himself in all areas. He was lucky in that his older brother, Pete, who was almost a direct opposite type of boy, took very good care of Louie. There were also two younger sisters in the family who helped to somewhat control Louie.