Category Archives: Non-Fiction

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.

Bound by My Choices: How a Death Nearly Broke Me But the Navy Saved Me by Keshawn A. Spence

Reviewed by Timea Barabas

Bound by My ChoicesThis illustrated memoir is a modern fairy tale of how a troubled young boy managed to overcome the many obstacles thrown his way and how he continues to do so as an adult. Keshawn A. Spence claims that he is bound by his choices, but as his story unfolds, the opposite message seems to emerge, one of freedom and possibilities.

Bound by My Choices is mostly rooted in the childhood of the author, focusing on the influence of the external factors over his life. The book debuts with a series of photos immortalizing some of the most important events throughout his life, but also some that are precious precisely because they mirror the nakedness of real life. So, ever since the beginning, the intention of the author to create an intimate bond with the reader on his journey of self-discovery is quite clear.

The Journey from Poor Procrastinator to Invested Millennial by Jeremy Kho

Reviewed by Timea Barabas

The Journey From Poor Procrastinator to Invested MillenIf you are looking to learn how to achieve financial independence, Jeremy Kho has prepared a book just for you. The Journey from Poor Procrastinator to Invested Millennial will teach you the basics regarding how you should manage your finances and make you curious to learn more. However, the book is not limited to this topic, it can also just help motivate you to overcome your general state of procrastination.

Don’t be scared that the information presented will be too technical for you, it is far from that. With a friendly tone, Jeremy Kho takes you on a journey of self-discovery. He uses a lot of colorful examples to make the economics part more accessible. There are plenty of stories with realistic characters throughout the book containing noteworthy morals. You might even recognize yourself in one or more of these.

The Other Path: Illuminating the Path toward Reduced Volatility while Achieving Equity-Type Returns by Robert J. Klosterman CFP

Reviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

The Other PathIn The Other Path, Robert J. Klosterman’s follow-up to The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the author once again offers his astute financial and investment advice. The book’s subtitle, “Illuminating the Path Toward Volatility While Achieving Equity-Type Returns,” is apt, as that is just what Klosterman advocates that investors do to achieve optimal monetary gains with their investment portfolios. Klosterman gets his title from Robert Frost’s famous poem, “The Road Not Taken,” which he quotes at the beginning of The Other Path, a highly interesting book that offers investors insights into a different sort of investment approach than they might be used to, though a very effective one that is designed to aid investors to earn equity-type returns while reducing the volatility that many other investors experience who only try more traditional approaches when it comes to planning their portfolios.

Klosterman’s book, The Other Path, is relatively short, coming in at just 60 pages, not counting the Appendices at the conclusion of it, but his approach to investing which he details in it is one which is very informative. The book is sure to interest and be beneficial to anyone who would like to lower his/her investment risks while maximizing his/her potential monetary returns.

The very title of Klosterman’s book, The Other Path, alludes to an investment strategy, or road, that most people have traditionally followed, which is investing their money entirely in stocks, bonds and cash. Such an approach is a tried-and-true one that has proven beneficial to many investors, but it has also proven to be a sometimes volatile path for others. Investing in stocks, bonds and cash, Klosterman argues, is an important part of an overall investment strategy, though there are other opportunities for diversifying one’s investments and reducing the volatility many portfolios unfortunately undergo, a volatility which can cause the monetary value of one’s portfolio to experience a disastrous nosedive.

Still, the main leg of the milk stool, that is, investing in stocks, bonds and cash, is a vital component in a wise investment strategy, according to Klosterman’s assessment in The Other Path. He calls it the core leg of a metaphorical three-legged milk stool, with each leg in the metaphor referring to a different but complimentary strategy when it comes to investing. If an investor diversifies his/her portfolio and does not solely focus on the main leg of stocks, bonds and cash, but also invests his/her money in nontraditional ways, Klosterman argues, using a series of useful and informative charts and graphs, that one’s portfolio is much less liable to experience a disastrous financial loss and the volatility of one’s portfolio will be reduced.

The second of the three legs of the milk stool is “Diversifiers,” and the third leg is “Absolute Returns.” Klosterman argues that “Diversifiers,” or alternative or nontraditional Investments, help reduce the volatility of an overall investment portfolio. Some examples that the author gives of nontraditional investments include real estate, private equity, “developed and emerging international equities,” distressed debt, and managed futures. These sorts of nontraditional investments can reduce volatility by either having a “very low correlation with traditional markets,” as Klosterman writes, or by delivering “consistent returns year after year, with little or no volatility.”

The third leg of the milk stool, “Absolute Returns,” is also the name of Chapter Four of The Other Path. Absolute returns are investments, according to Klosterman, which “demonstrate the same qualities of a bond with the assurance of return of principle and consistent payment of interest.” The author writes that they are similar to ten-year treasury bonds but “they are not backed by the full faith and credit of the United States.” Despite this, Klosterman states that aspect of absolute return vehicles can be considered to be an advantage. That is because strategies involving absolute return vehicles, as the author writes, “can invest in sound ideas and not have to fit restrictions that other institutions have.”

One example is investing in companies that lend money to small businesses and house flippers. These companies can work fast and close loans faster than banks. These companies have the ability to provide quick access to loans for money to people like real estate developers or house flippers, in comparison to banks.

In The Other Path, author Robert J. Klosterman writes about a no-nonsense approach to nontraditional investing and how it can benefit one’s investment portfolio and help reduce volatility. The book also examines and identifies “trouble signs” besides volatility when planning one’s portfolio, like groupthink, market disruptions and inflation. While Klosterman recommends that investors follow the advice of professionals who are experts in planning investment portfolios and have proven track records over at least a decade, The Other Path is an interesting and insightful look at adding nontraditional investments to an individual’s portfolio. Whether investors want and like to plan their investment strategies on their own, or with the advice of professionals, The Other Path is an eye-opening Must Read designed to inform investors of types of alternative investments that can balance out their portfolios and reduce the negative effects of market volatility. It is a book I would highly recommend to anyone who has ever considered expanding their investment portfolios and adding nontraditional investments to them.