Saturday, May 17, 2008

May Book Reviews

Each month, Writers in the Sky Newsletter publishes a selection of book reviews. The newsletter is provided at no cost and is filled with items submitted by our readers. Would you like to submit an item? Why not subscribe to our newsletter and become part of the community?

Here are the book review for May 2008:

Living to Tell About It, A Pursuit of Normalcy
Author: Amy Y. Martin
ISBN Number: 978-1-4357-1449-6
Publisher & Date:, 2008
Genre and Target Market: memoir; women; personal medical issues
Book Length in Pages: 149
Reviewer: Sarah Moore

When young men and women leave for college, they anticipate the newfound freedoms and responsibilities that will come with life away from home. Like all teenagers, Amy Martin likely felt invincible as she prepared to take on the world. However, in her first endeavor as an author, Mrs. Martin shares with her readers an amazing series of health crises that took her down roads she never could have anticipated. Her story is one of strength and survival, and her determination to live a normal life leaves each reader as her personal cheerleader.

Amy Martin’s first medical nightmare started at the age of nineteen when she experienced a stroke upon exiting the pool on her college campus. As she writes in the first chapter, “I came up to the surface and experienced an excruciating pain above my right eye … Little did I know this would be the beginning of a long journey.” As Mrs. Martin shares with the readers, she was an athlete who appeared the picture of health. Who thinks of a teenager as being prone to a stroke while swimming laps in the pool? This striking scenario of the first chapter automatically reminds the reader that nothing in life can be taken for granted.

Living to Tell About It goes on to explain Amy Martin’s struggles with a partial and later a full colectomy, a resulting MRSA infection, head trauma from a severe car accident followed by intensive and lengthy physical therapy, Graves’ disease, gallbladder surgery and the death of her mother. Amy’s story unfolds in a chronological fashion, meeting the readers during her freshman year at North Carolina State and bringing us to her current life nearly twenty years later as wife and mother of two sons.

While brief explanations of the diseases are given and resources are provided for those who wish to learn more about each condition, details about Graves’ disease or colon cancer is not the focus of the book. I do not believe the author ever intended to thoroughly inform us of the specifics surrounding each medical crisis that she experienced, as a much longer book would have been needed to do each episode justice!

Instead, the most compelling aspect of Martin’s book is the sense the reader gets of her unending battles to keep her body and mind healthy. As each page is turned, Martin experiences a new, unexplainable symptom or prepares for another surgery. She makes us feel the exhaustive repetition with which each new hurdle was met and conquered. As I progressed through each chapter, I kept reminding myself, “This is all actually happening to one person!” Just when you think you will get a chance to take a deep breath and enjoy a sense of normalcy with Mrs. Martin, another episode knocks you out of complacency.

I am drawn to how relatable Amy Martin becomes through the course of her memoir. Through all of the compelling problems of surgeries gone awry and life-threatening infections, Mrs. Martin uses ordinary details to help us feel connected to her extraordinary life. The sports store where she met her high school boyfriend, the time she played hooky from physical therapy to enjoy some chocolate and a soap opera, the songs played at her wedding–all of these moments could be written by us or the people we love.

Amy Martin has a casual, storytelling style with her writing that makes her approachable to the reader. We are introduced to her parents, her boyfriends and eventual husband and the healthcare workers who were integral players in her recovery. She takes the time to proudly share the military service of her father and grandfather and still feels an amazing bond to a therapist with whom she has had no contact in years. Through Mrs. Martin’s emphasis on the other people in her life, she reminds us that relationships are tested and strengthened when tragedy strikes. None of these illnesses is faced in a vacuum.

The first offering by Amy Martin, Living to Tell About It, A Pursuit of Normalcy is an amazing story of faith, family and survival. By getting to know Amy, I am now drawn to learn more about the various conditions she has endured through her life. It is obvious that the author has a passion for the care and well-being of others, and has offered her story as testimony to others who may be feeling despondent over their own life situations. As she tells us, she will never return to “normal” but she spends each day working towards the general sense of normalcy. With the many trials she has faced in this process, I am certain that Amy Martin has more powerful stories to share through her writing in the future.

Title: Fire Your Financial Planner
Author: Ron Firmin
ISBN: 978-1-4327-1695-0
Publisher: Outskirts Press
Paperback Pages: 125
Price/Currency: U.S. $19.95
Reviewer: Yvonne Perry

Boomer or Busted?

If you are one of those fortunate souls born in the fifties or sixties, you are precisely who Ron Firmin has written his new book, Fire Your Financial Planner for. Many of us were never taught financial management for everyday life, let alone having the foresight to prepare for the future. “Baby boomers were taught that they should get an education, acquire a job, and make money. We weren’t taught that we must set aside time to manage that money.” Now, Baby boomers are faced with the dilemma or realization that they may have not prepared themselves adequately for retirement. What actions can this generation of consumers take to prevent future financial uncertainty? Ron Firmin has some answers.

Firmin presents the story of his life from humble beginnings to multimillionaire. He built successful companies in several industries and has managed a mortgage banking operation. Currently, Ron Firmin is a financial planning consultant and in-demand speaker, who resides with his wife in Tennessee. Along the way, he describes real life situations where lessons are sometimes learned the hard way. Throughout the book, Firmin conveys the wisdom gained from parents, family and associates and how to correlate those teachings with sound financial advice. He proposes twenty-one lessons including “Any job worth doing is worth doing well,” “Form useful habits,” “The stock market is a two-edged sword,” “Buy land,” “Learn the Rule of 72,” “Never give up the quest for knowledge and understanding” and many others that will help ensure your future prosperity.

The Employee Benefit Research Institute, based in Washington DC determined 32 percent of workers above the age of fifty-five have less than $25,000 saved. The author reminds us that it is never too late to start over. We, as consumers are responsible for our PRA, (personal retirement account), and we must take charge of our finances and do whatever is deemed necessary to fulfill our goals. Firmin states we must educate ourselves to understand the investment opportunities available, the need to diversify, the risk and rewards associated with the stock market, and mutual funds and form a strategy and a plan for success.

Firmin presents up-to-date information on new ways to utilize the stock market, references multiple Websites for accessing information, provides charts for personal financial use, and teaches how to use and understand amortization tables, and introduces The Rule of 72. The book describes all types of mortgages in detail, offers a list for supplemental reading, and gives resources to assist with financial planning.

Whether you’re a first time financial info seeker, a novice investor, or a prosperous financial guru, Fire Your Financial Planner has something for you.

Title: Hidden Laws: Ultimate Tools for Divine Co-creation
Author: Ulla Jacobs
ISBN: 1412082145
Publisher: Trafford

Hidden Laws: Ultimate Tools for Divine Co-creation offers spiritual principles for self-empowerment as old as time. In ancient times, mystery schools offered this knowledge to only a few. Hidden Laws examines the existence of five cosmic laws. These laws can be used to our advantage by being aware of their power and understanding the impact they can have upon daily interactions. The Hidden Laws are:

The Law of One Vibration: Existence of ‘One’ power that provides a connection of all living things with the universe. We are all connected to each other by this force.

The Law of Cause and Effect: What goes around comes around. You get what you give. This law is the karma creator.

The Law of Attraction: How to use this law in order to attract anything and everything into your life.

The Law of Free Will: The freedom to make choices, taking charge of your destiny.

The Law of Creation: Creating reality via the thought process and language used, on a daily basis. Are your thoughts and speech sabotaging your life? Are you creating a discordant energy flow?

The Law of Transition: About death, this law governs the transition process as the soul leaves the body and goes home. It explores the support and guidance we receive from spirit guides.

Each of the Hidden Laws is presented and explained in simple terms. Examples are shown to indicate the way each law impacts the lives of various people.

A brief history of the author’s personal journey is outlined in the opening chapter “The Struggle Back To Health.” This journey led Ulla on a spirit quest which, in turn, led to the discovery of the Hidden Laws and the existence of life-after-death.

The information presented can be used to effectively take charge of many aspects of daily life.

The potential for empowerment exists by using these tools of divine co-creation.

The author invites you to explore these cosmic laws that were recognized by only a few in ancient times when they were taught in special mystery schools. Examine the principles offered by Hidden Laws in order to understand their powerful impact. These are the laws of the universe that govern all of life.

Ulla’s bio is available at: The link to purchase the book is: You can also read excerpts of the book at:


Title: Finish Line
Author: James Ross

Did you ever wonder how to deal with the mischievous actions of an adolescent boy? As a parent, have you ever thought of what it might take to get your point of view across? How could any of that relate to the wonderful game of golf?

Follow the journey of two teenage boys, Justin Ventimiglia and Keith Pucchio, after they get caught committing a petty act of vandalism on one of the first days of their summer vacation. Experience what happens after their misstep lands them at Prairie Winds Golf Course on the east side of St. Louis.

Can the professional staff at the course mold the character of the boys? What on earth can a growing cast of golfing misfits show the lads? How will the characters deal with the deadly cancer disease? What role does a single-parent household play in all of this? Could a dysfunctional family situation solve the dilemma?

Enjoy the special relationship between a pseudo-Big Brother and an impressionable child in an enjoyable, heartwarming story about life and death. What can the old-timers that hang around the clubhouse teach the young boys? How will the kids react? And where do the lessons from the game of golf fit into all of this?

Finish Line is due to be published in late May 2008 from Xlibris. It is the second novel by James Ross set on Prairie Winds Golf Course. Feel free to visit his Website at for more information.

Book Title: Money and Manifesting
Author: Dyan Garris
ISBN Number: 978-0977614066
Publisher: Journeymakers
Where available for purchase: and
Reviewer: Tamara Ignatieva

"I have finished the book. It is amazing, As I said it shifts the energy, it makes one think, and it has very definite energy in it, which starts to work as soon as you open the book and start to read.... This is amazing, as usually, most of the books do just one thing, and this one is doing the complex of the things. Another thing, which struck me, and gave an extra cleanse to the third eye is your suggestion of centering, I mean the scenery of this...Being in this ball of Light, sitting on the throne there...That is just amazing, it feels so safe there, so secure, and so very, very right.

During the day, I went to make my chakra balancing meditation as I always do, but now, without forcing myself whatsoever, I just saw with the third eye the yantras from the book...It was an amazing experience. The yantras in the book are just amazing, as they are not only beautiful to see, but they appear to be extremely powerful, and I have experienced myself, that they have immediate and powerful effect on the chakras by themselves. Just watching them is healing on itself, and if you find the time to actually do the meditation as outlined in the book, their power is even much more."


Title: Book Promo 101 - Learn the Basics of Book Promotion
: Nikki Leigh
ISBN: 978-1594314698
Publisher: Write Words, Inc: and

In Book Promo 101 of her Basics of Book Promotion Series, Nikki Leigh has done it again, she’s written a book that is invaluable. Not only is the book instructive with a surplus of useful information, it's an attitude-changing, goal-oriented dissertation on advertising, promotion and publicity. Authors, especially 'newbie' ones, could use all of the suggestions made in the book, which include how-to, why-to and where-to. At the same time, Ms. Leigh allows the readers options to choose what suits a particular person's way of working. My hat is off to Ms. Leigh for the very beginning of what promises to be an extraordinary series--something much needed in the book industry and one I'll use again and again.

Dorice Nelson, author of: Clan Gunn: Gerek; Lost Son of Ireland; Saratoga Summer: 1863


Title: Ethnic Presidency
Author: Earl Ofari Hutchinson
ISBN: 978-1881032250
Publisher: Middle Passage Press
Available for purchase: and
Reviewer: Nikki Leigh -

I've never really kept track of the political process. I have my own opinions, but I never really understood the process of primaries, caucuses and so on. So, I had never noticed how various ethnic groups vote in specific ways. After reading The Latino Challenge and The Ethnic Presidency I have learned so much about the electoral process and the deeper ways that the issues affect various ethnic groups.

The Ethnic Presidency delves into the democratic and republican parties, the various candidates and the parts they are playing or have played in the primary process. It gives a large number of examples from past elections which show techniques that have brought in votes from all ethnic groups.

In the introduction to the book, Earl Hutchinson explains why this topic involves more than the fact that there is a woman and a black man running for president this year. That makes the 2008 election more unusual, but throughout the years the same elements and principals have come into play in many elections and that even applies to the elections when two white men were running for president.

For anyone of any ethnic background, any age or any gender who wants to learn more about how race, gender and ethnic background play a big part in the election process - this is a must read. This year, more than any other, race, gender and ethnicity will have a major impact on the presidential election.


Title: Island Life (Five Star First Edition Mystery)
Author: Michael W. Sherer
Five Star Publishing (2008)
ISBN 9781594146336
Reviewer Danielle Feliciano for Reader Views (4/08)

In “Island Life,” we are drawn into the world of Jack Holm, suddenly single father to his two children after his wife suddenly goes missing. Jack’s relationship with Mary was on the rocks before her disappearance and with her job as a flight attendant, he does not report her missing for a few days. This puts the story in motion as the police arrest Jack for Mary’s murder, Children’s Services takes his children and begins their own investigation, Jack’s mother-in-law files for custody, and Jack realizes he has no one to rely on but himself to solve the mystery of what happened to his wife before he and his children become the next victims.

Interspersed with the narration are snippets of conversations between Jack and his therapist. These conversations give great depth to the story as they are the only times you are truly in Jack’s head. In his day-to-day life, he is going through the motions, just doing his best to hold on for the sake of his kids. With his therapist, however, Jack truly lets go of pretending and opens up like he does to nobody else. These interludes give “Island Life” a voice of originality that you don’t see often in this genre.

There is nothing perfect about Jack and that makes it all the more wondrous that you find yourself rooting for him. He admits to affairs, has ignored the problems in his marriage, and does things that many parents would never think of (dragging his children to Las Vegas while he goes after the killer). It is exactly these imperfections that make him so real. He is tortured, he makes no excuses for the choices he has made, and while he makes a few questionable parenting decisions, he truly believes those decisions are what is best for his children.

“Island Life” was truly gripping. I read it in one day, as I kept finding myself lost within the books. It does fall apart a bit towards the end, where it feels as though the author tries too hard to attain action and thrills rather than staying at the same pace as the rest of the book. Sherer quickly redeems himself, however, and leaves the reader feeling satisfied.


The Four Little Children: A Likely Story

Larry Michalove
iUniverse (2005)
ISBN 9780595347995
Reviewed by Mathew Feliciano (age 8) for Reader Views (3/08)

The story “The Four Little Children” is about four siblings named Lisa, David, Stacy and Karen. They go on wild adventures with their imaginary friend Ramor. Ramor takes the children on the coolest adventures ever!!

Ramor was going to take care of the children since their father was at war. Every day he takes the children on a new adventure. The first adventure was over the Pacific Ocean and into a secret cave where they found a pirate ship. All of the pirates were trying to find somewhere to bury their treasure. After the pirates buried their treasure, they went to a hidden city beyond the cave and all of the pirate children ran to greet Lisa, David, Stacy, and Karen. Some of the other adventures the children went on were being in the circus, going to the North Pole and learning how to drive a dog-lead sled, and riding on a polar bear.

Reading this book was like doing all of the things the children did right along with them. It was easy to imagine myself being there and having the same experience and doing the same thing. “The Four Little Children” was a lot of fun to read and was like being in another world.

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