Saturday, July 18, 2015

Regrets

It's been over a week since I actually finished a book and got a review posted. Summertime is making it very difficult to find the time to read, but I AM having lots of fun.

More when I get 'em.

Friday, July 10, 2015

The One-Page Financial Plan by Carl Richards

I really enjoyed Carl Richards' The Behavior Gap, both the book and his web site, and so I looked forward to reading his new book about financial planning. For me, however, there wasn't anything really new to learn here. I can see how it would be good for a person who was feeling intimidated by the magnitude of the financial planning task, but I really didn't have a lot of takeaways here.

He starts with goal setting concepts, and builds on a very simple framework of just doing the right things a piece at at time to accomplish those goals. What he really tries to do is to make a scary process seem folksy and conversational. You might buy this book for one of your kids who is just getting through college. 

Nothing bad to say about the book, but it didn't really float my boat.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Black Widow by Jennifer Estep

At least in this installment of the Spider's story, we get to return to a more deadly villain, as Gin finally gets the confrontation she's been expecting ever since Mab Monroe's daughter, Madeline M Monroe, arrived in Ashland. Madeline uses all of her connections around the city to launch a simultaneous group of attacks on Gin's friends and family. Finn is served with a lawsuit, Rosalyn gets cut off by her liquor distributor, one of Owen's big contracts falls through, while his sister Eva is suspended from college for cheating, and Jo-Jo's salon may be designated a historical landmark and deemed unsuitable to operate a business.

Then, horror of horrors, the health inspector arrives at the Pork Pit!

Accompanied by a posse of crooked cops, the barbecue joint is judged wanting and will be shut down. When Sophia trips the head cop, she is arrested for assault, and when Gin and her lawyer, Silvio, try to bail her out, Gin gets arrested, which was M. M.'s point all along. They immediately lock her away in "the Bull Pen", where prisoners get to fight each other to the death for the amusement of the crooked police force. Faced with five deadly opponents at once, Gin uses her mad fighting skills and elemental magic to not only defeat the thugs but to escape custody and take it on the lam.

Run to ground at the Pork Pit, the villainess surrounds the building with cops, then tosses Molatov cocktails inside, making sure that Gin cannot escape the flames.

Gin dies, her funeral is held and life in Ashland goes back to business as usual.

No? Well, you'll have to read the book to find out.

My only nitpick about this book was that it seemed a little rushed. The situations facing Gin's friends weren't really allowed enough time to become serious threats and concern us. A really good evil opponent would have allowed some time for despair to set in before the final blow falls.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Stonewalled by Sheryl Attkisson

After reading Sheryl Attkisson's book, I think I feel a great deal as does she, frustrated by my inability to get to the root truths of a number of recent political scandals of the Obama administration. Some of what she wrote filled in details about Fast & Furious, Benghazi, the (Un)Affordable Care Act, and the horrible waste of taxpayer dollars given to "Green" companies whose owners were donors. But the key questions still remain unanswered. How high in the administration are the people responsible, and are these stories all simply the result of incompetence or something more sinister? I knew before, and Attkission confirms, that the media is in deep with progressive interests as well as big business, and for the most part cannot be trusted to do old-fashioned investigative reporting which speaks truth to power.

"What did we really tell America on this night that they didn't already know?
My own network is passing up stories on the crumbling Affordable Care Act; an exclusive investigation I offered about a significant military controversy; an investigation uncovering a history of troubles surrounding Boeing's beleauguered Dreamliner; and massive government waste, fraud, and abuse. Largely untouched are countless stories about pharmaceutical dangers affecting millions of Americans, privacy infringement, the debate over President Obama's use of executive orders, the FDA monitoring of employee email, the steady expansion of terrorism, the student loan crisis, the confounding explosion in entitlements, the heartbreaking fallout from the Haiti earthquake, continuing disaster for government-subsidized green energy initiatives, the terrorist influences behind 'Arab Spring', various congressional ethics investigations and violations, the governments' infringement of and restrictions on the press, escalating violence on the Mexican border, the debt crisis, the Fed's role and its secrecy, to name just a few."

After the election, President Obama issued orders to all Federal agency heads, directing them he was "commited to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government."

But what was the reality?

"But barely into his second term, the Obama administration finds itself making history instead for its secrecy and assaults on the press. I, and other investigative reporters who are fully experienced in the indelicate art of prying public information from the tight grip of the government's hands, have now begun comparing notes about the daunting challenges this administration poses. There's delay, denial, obstruction, intimidation, retaliation, bullying, surveillance, and the possible threat of criminal prosecution. In my view, and that of other national reporters, this is proving to be the least transparent administration we've covered."

No time to go into an in depth description of all of the problems with the current administration, the bureaucracy and the incestuous relationship between big business and government today. Just go read the book.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Sparrow Hill Road by Seanan McGuire

This is one of those books which is difficult to classify. It fits more into the horror genre than urban fantasy, but isn't quite spooky enough to raise the hackles and cause insomnia. The whole thing is an abrupt change of pace for McGuire, but still enjoyable, though perhaps not as a steady diet - for me, anyway.

This is the story of Rose, the ghostly prom date who appears alongside the roads and byways of rural America, hoping for a ride home. She was killed on Sparrow Hill Road in a car crash on prom night, and has been doomed to an afterlife of rides with strangers.

One of the premises is that if a living human being offers her their coat to keep warm, she becomes solid to the touch and lives until the stroke of midnight causes her to become insubstantial once more. While she's "real", she can eat meals at truck stops and diners, enjoy warmth rather than the coldness of death, and even have sex.

One of her "jobs" is to help those whom the road also claims as victims to come to terms with their new existence, either to join the wandering ghosts of the road or to pass on to whatever heaven or hell awaits them.

The story is told in a series of vignettes and flashbacks, yet moves steadily forward to the resolution of a conflict with the man responsible for her death.

As I said, not my usual fare, but a pretty and dark yarn by McGuire.