Book Review – June 2011

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living in the villageLiving in the Village: Build Your Financial Future and Strengthen Your Community
Author: Ryan C. Mack
Publisher: St. Martin?s Griffin, 2010
Pages: 302
ISBN:? 978-0-312646-36-3

Reviewed by Terri Schlichenmeyer

In the past four years, you?ve learned that you can?t use credit unwisely, there?s no ?wiggle room? on bill-paying and the only way to face your future is to put money back into your own pocket with savings and investments. Easier said than done?? Not really, says author and financial expert Ryan C. Mack. In his book Living in the Village: Build Your Financial Future and Strengthen Your Community, he explains how money can work for you and for your community.
Mack says there?s no time like the present to educate yourself about managing the money you earn. To begin, track your spending. Be truthful to yourself when looking at your spending habits, then learn how to make a budget you can stick with. It helps to set goals and to understand how millionaires shop. Learn the pitfalls of spending, why you shouldn?t use an ATM and why those rent-to-own places will put a serious hole in your wallet. Become knowledgeable about insurance and make sure you have enough of the right kind. This should lead you into planning an estate for those you leave behind someday. Though you shouldn?t be using credit cards indiscriminately, the wise use of credit is important for your financial future. Your FICO is key and Mack explains how you can raise that number. He also explains how to get rid of high-risk debt by negotiating with creditors and knowing your rights.

Boost your workplace retirement fund, then set up an IRA for your retirement. Get rid of low-risk debt and learn the smart way to purchase a car or house. Select the right adviser, someone who shares your vision for your future. Learn how to invest your money for the best return. Give yourself a good emergency fund for just-in-case situations.

Tired of being broke, or close to it? Living in the Village can set you on a path away from poverty, but it won?t be easy. Mack writes with clarity and his step-by-step explanations are doable for anyone who wants to get their house in order, money-wise. He covers all bases in this book, although that may be overwhelming for someone who?s starting from financial scratch. Still, Mack offers enough personal support to keep his readers from becoming discouraged. It?s also helpful that he targets specific groups (religious leaders, parents, the formerly incarcerated, etc.) with specialized tips most useful for them. Overall, if you?re ready to put your money where your future is, or if you want to set a good example for your children, Living in the Village may inspire you. Then get ready to be prosperous.? ???

if sons, then heirsIf Sons, Then Heirs
By Lorene Cary
Atria Books, April 2011
$24, 306 pp.
Alonzo Rayne, a 30-year-old who owns a construction business, travels from his home in Philadelphia to South Carolina to visit his sharp-minded great-grandmother, Selma Needham, during the Easter holiday. During his visit, Rayne learns about farmland that has been in his family for years and he unexpectedly becomes involved with the complicated issues ? and complicated they are ? surrounding the property?s ownership. At the same time, Rayne is also coming to terms with reconciling with his mother, who abandoned him when he was a youngster. As Rayne attempts to untangle the property mess, Needham family history and truths unfold. Even though Depression-era, racist property laws of the South are key to the plot, Cary?s tale about the complexities of family bonds are at the heart of If Sons, Then Heirs.

in the place of justiceIn the Place of Justice: A Story of Punishment and Deliverance
By Wilbert Rideau

Knopf, April 2010
$26.95, 366 pp.
Can a convicted criminal ever repay his debt to society for his crime? In 1961, 19-year-old Wilbert Rideau killed a bank employee in a botched robbery. Convicted of murder, he was sentenced to death in Angola penitentiary in Louisiana; however, his sentence was later changed and he was ordered to serve life in prison. During his imprisonment, Rideau became editor of The Angolite, winning the prison newsmagazine several prestigious journalism awards. In this candid and thought-provoking memoir, Rideau, who was released in 2005, also gives insight into the discrimination and machinations that occur within the penal system. For this reader, In the Place of Justice also stirred emotions about capital punishment and victims? rights in general.????? ? Reviewed by Clarence V. Reynolds