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Book Review of: When Turtles Fly

Secrets of Successful People Who Know How to Stick Their Necks Out

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Review of When Turtles Fly, by Nikki Stone (Softcover, 2010)

(You can print this review in landscape mode, if you want a hardcopy)

Reviewer: Mark Lamendola, author of over 6,000 articles.

This book has come at the perfect time. In her first book, author and Olympian Nikki Stone offers new hope and inspiration in an age rife with cynicism and despair.

She does that not with hokey political promises, but with real-life examples. Forty real-life examples, plus her own inspiring one.

This book fills a huge need, as we are at a crisis level of "I can't" and excuse-making. If you look at the cultural trends of the past couple of decades, there's a whole lot of whining going on. From "I'm a victim" to "It's somebody else's fault" to "That other person is just lucky," it's all about surrendering to failure.

These 40 people prove that surrender isn't an option, if you don't want it to be. Some of them succeeded through hard work and determination. Others had to overcome adversity so daunting their success was almost impossible. Yet, these people have achieved great things.

Nikki Stone herself overcame incredible adversity to win an Olympic Gold. As an athlete myself, I found her story reaching me at a gut level. I know the meaning of "push on through the pain," but Ms. Stone gives it a whole new meaning.

This book consists of nine chapters, the first of which is the introduction. Each of the next seven address, in this order: passion, focus, commitment, overcoming adversities, confidence, risk, and teamwork/support. In each of those seven chapters, Ms. Stone provides five to seven cases.

Each case is someone's story. The case has these components: photo, biography, Nikki's intro to the story, and the person's story. It then closes with lessons drawn by Ms. Stone from the story, under the subhead "To be successful, you need to...".

My favorite case was, for some reason, that of Nadia Comanici. I still remember watching her compete in the 1976 Olympics when she was 14. While many of the cases were people affiliated in some way with the Olympics, the book featured plenty of non-Olympians.

How did Ms. Stone manage to get 40 people to interview for her? Considering that many had no previous contact with her or the Olympics, that's amazing in itself.

Chapter 9, the conclusion, is very short. It doesn't try to sum up the whole book. It simply ends the book with some personal thoughts of the author and why twenty-five percent of the net proceeds from When Turtles Fly go to the American Cancer Society.

Inspiration, motivation, and courage. If you're short on any of these three, read this book. If you have all three, give this book to someone who could use some encouragement. And then lend your personal support.



About these reviews

You may be wondering why the reviews here are any different from the hundreds of "reviews" posted online. Notice the quotation marks?

I've been reviewing books for sites like Amazon for many years now, and it dismays me that Amazon found it necessary to post a minimum word count for reviews. It further dismays me that it's only 20 words. If that's all you have to say about a book, why bother?

And why waste everyone else's time with such drivel? As a reader of such reviews, I feel like I am being told that I do not matter. The flippancy of people who write these terse "reviews" is insulting to the authors also, I would suspect.

This sound bite blathering taking the place of any actual communication is increasingly a problem in our mindless, blog-posting Webosphere. Sadly, Google rewards such pointlessness as "content" so we just get more if this inanity.

My reviews, contrary to current (non) standards, actually tell you about the book. I always got an "A" on a book review I did as a kid (that's how I remember it anyhow, and it's my story so I'm sticking to it). A book review contains certain elements and has a logical structure. It informs the reader about the book.

A book review may also tell the reader whether the reviewer liked it, but revealing a reviewer's personal taste is not necessary for an informative book review.

About your reviewer

  • Books are a passion of mine. I read dozens of them each year, plus I listen to audio books.
  • Most of my "reading diet" consists of nonfiction. I think life is too short to use your limited reading time on material that has little or no substance. That leads into my next point...
  • In 1990, I stopped watching television. I have not missed it. At all.
  • I was first published as a preteen. I wrote an essay, and my teacher submitted it to the local paper.
  • For six years, I worked as an editor for a trade publication. I left that job in 2002, and still do freelance editing and authoring for that publication (and for other publications).
  • No book has emerged from my mind onto the best-seller list. So maybe I'm presumptuous in judging the work of others. Then again, I do more describing than judging in my reviews. And I have so many articles now published that I stopped counting them at 6,000. When did I stop? Probably 20,000 articles ago! (It's been a while).
  • I have an engineering degree and an MBA, among other "quant" degrees. That helps explain my methodical approach toward reviews.
  • You probably don't know anybody who has made a perfect or near perfect score on a test of Standard Written English. I have. So, a credential for whatever it's worth.

About reading style

No, I do not "speed read" through these. That said, I do read at a fast rate. But, in contrast to speed reading, I read everything when I read a book for review.

Speed reading is a specialized type of reading that requires skipping text as you go. Using this technique, I've been able to consistently "max out" a speed reading machine at 2080 words per minute with 80% comprehension. This method is great if you are out to show how fast you can read. But I didn't use it in graduate school and I don't use it now. I think it takes the joy out of reading, and that pleasure is a big part of why I read.

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