Breaking Free

Breaking Free, ISBN: 9789493056145 Amsterdam Publishers. Good to Go, Part 1 copyright and written by Jeffrey Vonk.

The author has provided a quite unusual travelogue that begins in Switzerland and ends in an Afterword that brings this native of Holland to Chicago, IL on an impulsive decision. Between these points of ‘advanced civilization’, his journey takes him through parts of Russia, China, Tibet, Nepal, India, African Gambia, Jordan, Syria and Kurdistan. Perhaps even more intriguingly most of his journey was conducted singly on a Chinese built motorcycle, on foot and even horseback with occasional local bus and invited rides on trucks, vans and unusual personal transportation. His sleeping accommodations were at the least expensive hotels and/or hostels, personal homes and frequently ‘hopefully acceptable’ shelters in abandoned buildings or even the open air where he could pitch a shelter, or perhaps not. Conditions encountered for the most part were extensively primitive. Quantities of food and water frequently were low and even dangerously missing for periods of time. Quantities available were purchased if possible, or provided for one reason or another by many kind people he encountered.

Discussion: This is a fascinating tale of travel largely in some of the most poorly developed areas of the world undertaken by a young man who is intrigued by different cultures and thrives on living a totally different way of life. His story is descriptively presented and a reader can only marvel at the fact that his survival itself is quite remarkable.

5* Travel tale for those interested in other, often primitive cultures.

What the Fire Ignited

What the FIRE Ignited, ISBN: 9781642250275, Advantage Media Group, a motivational e-book Copyright and written by Shay Eskew,

This is the true story of a man whose remarkable journey began when as an eight-year-old child an accident caused him to be enveloped in flames that burned 65 % of his body. Thus as a child, he was forced either to die or find the mental toughness, grit and tenacity of purpose to survive the excruciating pain of an almost endless succession of treatments for this life threatening accident that even during the ensuing years has requiring more surgeries and therapy and other setbacks too numerous to mention. He not only has survived but has become a successful businessman, married to a beautiful and understanding woman with whom he has five children he simply adores and has reached incredible heights in several sports (after having been informed he never again would be able to participate). Perhaps the most astonishing of the physical feats he has accomplished is repeatedly finishing high in IRONMAN competitions as well as never having failed to complete any and all such competitions he has entered. (For the uninitiated such competitions consist of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride, followed immediately by a 26.2 mile marathon.) His survival and actual ability to attain these highs combined with his simultaneous ability to carve out a most enjoyable and successful life he attributes to discoveries actually forced upon him. Out of necessity he was able “to train his brain to believe when faced with a death situation, he will survive so the brain automatically starts focusing on survival techniques and a solution.” Similarly “you can block out all distractions in life that deter you from achieving your goals.” He admonishes people – “Don’t subscribe to the victim mentality. Life is not fair and bad things happen to good people. Once you accept it, life is pretty simple. When something bad happens, know that someone has been through something worse and not only survived, but thrived.” That “Obstacles are opportunities in disguise” and “Our greatest disappointments in life are preparing us for our greatest blessings. We just have to keep the faith and continue doing what we know will make us successful, even if we’re not seeing immediate results.” It is necessary to have “Faith in God and the belief that success doesn’t happen overnight.” The story contains many more observations with respect to his life including humorous incidents resulting from adjustments he has made as well as poignant incidents and ruminations.

Discussion: This utterly engrossing true story proceeds to offer a massive amount of material that every person, in any position in life, physically compromised or not, can find helpful, if not literally ‘life saving’ in many ways.

5* A book EVERYONE can profit by reading.