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.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


Modern Millennium Press
Los Angeles, CA
Genre: Financial/Self-Help
Rating: Average
ISBN: 1439212562, $14.99, 230 pp.

Quoting from the back cover:

"Poor No More: Wealth Is Within Reach by Curtis Hill is a book that shows how to transform the life we have into the life we deserve. In a market glutted with personal financial guides, author Hill brings a clear voice and a truly profound approach to building personal wealth. We all have a set of beliefs when it comes to our finances. Unfortunately, our personal financial belief systems become influenced by external sources. We no longer operate in our own financial self-interest. We operate to fulfill the agendas of these outside manipulators: to our detriment, not our advantage. Poor No More will open your eyes and helps you identify the external influences that poison your personal financial belief system. Poor No More shows you how to take control of your wealth and build the prosperous life you always wanted."

I enjoy reading books on finance to see if they have anything new or unique to offer, particularly during this time of recession. Curtis Hill writes about how media advertising influences our thinking and how conventional Retirement Accounts are not the way to invest. His plan is for you to place your money in what he calls a Freedom Account, from which you will start withdrawing money in the second year. Quoting from page 25:

"...The size of these withdrawals should grow every year as we become more dependent on our freedom accounts and less dependent on our paychecks. As we become less dependent on our paychecks (due to our growing withdrawals from our freedom accounts), we are able to contribute a larger percentage of our paychecks each year to these accounts.

"What I am describing here is a cascade effect that makes early financial independence possible. I understand that the concept and the math involved in the above statement may seem a little fuzzy or at least unconventional to many. However, I will demonstrate in the following chapters that the concept will work with ease.

"This may seem like a shell game - i.e., it may appear that we are moving money around for no reason. In fact, there is a method to this strategy. We are progressively learning to depend on our investment income. Furthermore, we are gradually decreasing our dependence on our paychecks. Reducing dependence on our paychecks equates to financial freedom."

In the next chapter Curtis Hill presents his "Freedom Account Dynamics" Table showing Independence Growing at 5% with 20% Start. This table is for people who have an "after-tax" income of $100,000 and can contribute 20% ($20,000) the first year. For people with such an income, they’re probably educated and have better options. This is not a plan for me, nor could I open a freedom account just anywhere, only with Curtis Hill because it is his own concept applied to traditional financial structures. And what types of accounts does Hill suggest we include in our freedom accounts?... 401(k)s, SEP IRAs, Roth IRAs, Traditional IRAs and standard brokerage accounts. Do you see the problem here? Can you really be making withdrawals from these types of investments in the second year?

As the author said, "This may seem like a shell game...." What do you think? In addition, I felt the author repeated himself and promoted his own business (
www.poor-no-more.com) excessively...business must be slow.

On the positive side, Hill did an excellent job explaining all the investment vehicles available in a concise manner. Would I recommend this book?...no.

As a contemporary, very wise man once said, "When you wake up in the morning and look in the mirror, you’re looking at the only person you can trust with your money...so learn how to take care of it."

Kaye Trout - May 24, 2009

THE CHEMICAL CAROUSEL: What Science Tells Us About Beating Addiction by Dirk Hanson

Genre: Nonfiction/Science/Addiction
Rating: Excellent
ISBN: 9781439212998, $20.95, 472 pp.

Quoting from the back cover:

"The Chemical Carousel: What Science Tells Us About Beating Addiction by Dirk Hanson is an in-depth look at addiction science and medical treatments for drug dependence and alcoholism. An experienced science and business journalist, author Hanson, brings a complex and widely misunderstood subject out of the shadows and into the light of understanding. In this groundbreaking and highly readable examination of addiction science and the biological, emotional, and scientific underpinnings of substance abuse, The Chemical Carousel breaks through the myths, while presenting the surprising and cutting-edge facts about addiction and its medical origins. Hanson leaves no stone unturned in this invaluable examination of why people become addicted. This is not a textbook or scientific paper, however. Rather, The Chemical Carousel is a book for the rest of us: friends and families of addicts, support groups, and healthcare professionals alike."

The Chemical Carousel is presented in four parts–a history, addictive substances, cures, and a conclusion. It is well researched, written and edited, providing the most current/contemporary information available. I didn’t know we had a ‘science’ of addiction...great!...and if so, this book should be required reading.

I found Hanson’s research to be helpful in clarifying the problems, such as: the difference between the disease of alcoholism (a brain chemistry disorder characterized by continued compulsive use of alcohol despite severely adverse consequences) and alcohol abuse (the deliberate overuse of alcohol–binge drinking). With a deeper, educated understanding about addictions, this book may help to dissolve the common view of the addict as an immature person who lacks will power and is at the mercy of his/her addictive personality.

If you, a friend or family member have an addiction problem, read this book. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed, and you may, if you are looking, find the help you need.

Kaye Trout - May 24, 2009