In the Mail: Master Your Debt

Master Your Debt: Slash Your Monthly Payments and Become Debt Free by Jordan E. Goodman

Publishers Weekly

Goodman (Everyone’s Money Book), former Wall Street correspondent for Money magazine, offers a lifeline to Americans drowning in debt—with attention to explaining the new rules that the government has put in place since unveiling its stimulus package, including new borrowing guidelines by banks and new policies to avoid mortgage foreclosures. After a brief sketch of the origins of the credit crisis, the author provides a way to determine just how much debt one is in and shares tips on negotiating various payments. Addressing refinancing and paying off mortgages, avoiding identity fraud, selecting the right car deals and student loans, and surviving bankruptcy, the book covers virtually all the debt bases with hard-hitting advice. Goodman offers a detailed appendix with contact information for further reading as well as various resources to empower readers and help them regain their financial footing.

In the Mail: The Great Medieval Heretics

The Great Medieval Heretics: Five Centuries of Religious Dissent by Michael Frassetto

From the Publisher

Replete with terror, passion, and hope, this gripping narrative history explores the intricate mysteries of medieval Europe through the lives of the great heretics whose beliefs and practices challenged the teachings of an all-powerful church. Five centuries of social and spiritual turmoil are covered through a vivid and telling mix of events, personalities, and ideas. A host of figures are discussed in detail, including Bogomil, an obscure priest from the Balkans who introduced Manichean ideas to parishioners; Henry the Monk, who eluded capture and prepared southern France for the Cathars; Marguerite Porete, the great mystic who was burned at the stake; Fra Dolcino, whose brigand followers terrorized northern Italy; and John Wyclif and Jan Hus, the heralds of the Reformation. By the end of the Middle Ages, the courageous lives and beliefs of these and the other heretics discussed had transformed the religious, cultural, and political map of Europe.

In the Mail: Conspirata by Robert Harris

Conspirata: A Novel of Ancient Rome by Robert Harris

Publishers Weekly

In this gripping second installment to his ancient Rome trilogy (after Imperium), bestseller Harris proves once again that politics is an ugly game. Beginning in 63 B.C.E. and told by Cicero’s slave secretary, Tiro, this complex tale continues to chronicle Cicero’s political career as he charms, co-opts, and bribes his way into the exalted position of consul, ruler of Rome. Although Cicero is known as a brilliant politician and philosopher, he was also a slick manipulator and shameless schemer, competing with equally sneaky rivals Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus. Cicero realizes that as the empire expands, the greatest threat to Rome comes from within, plotted by well-financed conspirators bent on turning the republic into a dictatorship. With fabulous oratory and trickery, Cicero uncovers and crushes an insurrection, exposing himself to great danger and possible assassination. Riots, murder, civil unrest, corruption, treachery, and betrayal mark Cicero’s political legacy, resulting in a battle between him and Julius Caesar. Throughout, however, Tiro remains loyal and remarkably astute, recognizing that it is an act of madness for a man to pursue power when he could be sitting in the sunshine reading a book

In the Mail: When Turtles Fly

When Turtles Fly: Secrets of Successful People Who Know How To Stick Their Necks Out by Nikki Stone


Did you know you have better odds at winning the lottery than an Olympic medal? To bring home one of those coveted medals–or achieve any great personal goal in life–you need a lot more than luck. You need a game plan.What if you could learn the secrets of success from an Olympian? A Nobel Prize winner? A Fortune 500 CEO? Olympic gold medalist Nikki Stone has compiled a treasure trove of compelling stories to illustrate each step on the path to success. She’s gathered humorous, heartwarming and hugely inspirational tales from some of today’s most brilliant business leaders, scientists, soldiers, inventors, philanthropists, musicians, athletes and entrepreneurs…a host of people whose very names epitomize achievement. Winners such as: * Designer Tommy Hilfiger * Prince Albert of Monaco * X-Games& Olympic Champion Shaun White * NFL Quarterback Steve Young * Musician Jazz Branford Marsalis * Best-selling Author Dr. Stephen Covey * Olympic star Skiing Lindsey Vonn * Celebrity Chef Todd English * Venture Capitalist Leading Vinod Khosla * And many more successful greats

Now an acclaimed motivational speaker and peak performance coach, author Nikki Stone helps people in all walks of life to overcome fears, failures and plateaus and realize their full potential. In this step-by-step guide to success, she and her team of high achievers share their stories about reaching for dreams…and grasping them. 25% of the author’s net proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to the American Cancer Society

31 Hours by Masha Hamilton

I was practically bullied into reading 31 Hours. So many people on Twitter were gushing about it and the folks at Unbridled Books were obviously excited about it. When I was able to get an ARC at Net Galley I figured I should just give in to the peer pressure.

Like most things in my life these days, it took me a while to get it together but I finally managed to read it. And I am glad I did as it was an enjoyable and interesting read. But I had a host of reactions from a variety of angles that led to an ambivalent conclusion.

So I will try to organize my thoughts by themes or perspectives.

First the basics. As you might have guessed from the title, the story takes place over 31 hours. The central character is Jonas Meitzner a 21-year old who has dropped out of college and who – lonely, emotional and confused – connected with Islamic terrorists in New York City.  The story relates the hours as he prepares to complete a suicide mission in the heart of the city.

Interwoven in with the story of Jonas are the lives of his friends, family and potential victims: his divorced parents, his high school best friend turned recent lover (and her family), and a homeless panhandler who makes his living on the subway system Jonas plans to attack.

My semi-organized thoughts below …

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Are libraries about books or cool places to hang out?

Toledo central library
Image by Silversprite via Flickr

Libraries use video games to attract teens:

The electronic ding-ding-ding of Sonic the Hedgehog collecting coins became familiar background noise in the teen section of the Main Branch of the Toledo-Lucas County Public library downtown recently as video games were introduced for young patrons.


Within the last decade, libraries nationwide have embraced gaming as a way to get teens through their doors, said Linda Braun, president of the Young Adult Library Services Association.

Video games were once criticized by parent groups for promoting violence and childhood obesity. But studies now suggest that video games may have a positive impact by fostering literacy as well as team-building and problem- solving skills in young gamers.

“The literacy aspect is huge,” Ms. Braun said. “Many video games have books related to them. And there is a lot of reading that goes on with actual game play.”

My first thought was: “Boy, those budget cuts must have been brutal!”

In all seriousness, call me an old foggey but it does bug me a little that libraries spend valuable time and money on offering video games, movies and popular music and then complain about funding cuts as some sort of cultural suicide. Are libraries cultural and educational institutions or are they public babysitting and entertainment zones paid for by public dollars?

I also love the absolutely ridiculous rationalizations quoted above.  I am sure the kids will be tricked into the library to play video games and suddenly find themselves absorbed into literary culture. The video games are about books!

This isn’t about reading but about getting kids in the library so the library can argue it is important and therefor shouldn’t be cut.  But I think the argument over library funding shouldn’t be tied to getting kids to come play video games no matter how educational.

What do you think? What is the role of a library and what is going to far in terms of offering entertainment rather than literacy and ecuation?

The U.S. Army's First, Last, and Only All-Black Rangers by Edward L. Posey

I have always been interested in the history of individual military units, especially ones written by a former member.  Thus, I was intrigued by Edward Posey’s The U.S. Army’s First, Last, and Only All-Black Rangers when I found out about it.  Although the unit was only in existence for ten months during the Korean War, its members proved to many skeptics (some high ranking generals in the Army) that African-Americans could fight.  I believe their example and the efforts of others pushed the Army leadership in Korea (and worldwide) to finally end segregation in the U.S. Army – the armed forces were ordered to desegregate by President Truman, but the Army took its sweet time in carrying out the order.

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Wolves From The Sea by Richard Bodley Scott

Wolves from the Sea by Richard Bodley Scott is the eighth book from Osprey Publishing‘s “Field of Glory” series.  This series pertains to a historical miniatures tabletop wargaming system.

Osprey proclaims that this is the first “high-quality games system aimed specifically at the Ancient and Medieval wargamer for over 10 years.”  I am not a wargamer, but I did find the information in the book interesting.

The book is divided into headings that align with each type of army that existed from 496 AD to 1070 AD.  It highlights such armies as the Post-Roman British, Magyars, Early Slavic, Early Medieval French, and Early Polish.  Each heading has a brief history of the fighting forces and a brief description of weapons and tactics used.  In addition, the book includes charts about who made up the armies.  For example, the Post-Roman British Army shows that the Cavalry was made up of men of varying quality.

As with all of the Osprey publications, there are excellent illustrations that show the combatants and their equipment in historical (as much as they can be historical without many written records) terms.  The illustrations are rich in detail and color.