The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke by Suze Orman
(Riverhead Books, 2005, 395 pages)
I’d actually bought this book when it first came out and loaned it to a friend before I read it. Sadly, after that I never saw it again. In the spirit of educating myself a little more about my financial life I pulled this book from our shelves and started reading. The book is laid out in a very straight-forward manner. Each section tackles a specific financial issue: credit scores, student loans, investing, big-ticket purchases… Orman provides an overview of the issue to start with, highlighting the key things you need to know and do, then has the rest of the chapter broken up into frequently asked questions that she answers. So you don’t need to read through the whole thing if you don’t want to, you can pick and choose those questions which are most suited to your own concerns. Essentially this book is meant to guide you toward getting control of your financial life so you can feel comfortable and confident going forward and not feel financially stressed.
I was happy to learn that I was already doing a lot of the things Suze recommended, but I still took away a lot more from the book than I anticipated. Aimed at those in their 20s and 30s The Money Book is accessible and puts things in a way that’s easy to understand. I’m actually reading another Orman book now, Women & Money, and it’s digging a little deeper into things and I already feel better informed about my financial status and future. This is a beneficial read if you’re interested in becoming more knowledgeable about your finances and would benefit from an introductory overview of things.
The Racketeer by John Grisham
(Doubleday, 2012, 343 pages)
I picked this up from my public library’s Most Wanted book shelf. John Grisham is one of the few fiction authors I regularly read before we started with the Missouri Book Challenge two years ago. This was a page-turner and a great legal thriller. You can read Jean’s review on this book here. Maxwell Bannister is a former lawyer caught in a big indictment thanks to not practicing due diligence when accepting a case. Bannister is sentenced to 10 years in a federal prison. He lost his wife, child, career and dignity. He spends the first couple of years in prison formulating a complex plot to be free and get revenge against the justice system that wronged him. The story takes many unexpected turns. Plot twists are surprising but not far-fetched. The Racketeer grabbed my attention from the beginning all the way until the end.
The Drop by Michael Connelly
(Little, Brown, and Co., 2011, 388 pages)
I’m always fascinated to hear stories where advanced DNA processes helped solve old crimes. That’s the reason I checked out this book. This is my first Michael Connelly book. Harry Bosch is a detective working at an LAPD cold case unit. Bosch receives new DNA evidence on a 20-year-old unsolved case. The DNA results are a match to a criminal by the name of Clayton Pell. The problem is that Pell was 8 years old when the murder case happened. Bosch and his partner Chu study the old case file and wonder about the likelihood of an 8 year old committing the crime. Did the lab make an error or did the cold case unit contaminate the material? Bosch is quickly pulled out of this case when the body of the city councilman’s son is found on the ground outside a hotel. Bosch is assigned to this apparent suicide case at the request of the councilman. The councilman’s long standing hostile history with Bosch and the LAPD makes this an unusual request. The plot is straight forward and predictable. It’s a good read, not great.
Here, There, Elsewhere: Stories from the Road by William Least Heat-Moon
(Little, Brown and Company, 2013, 416 pages)
Here, There, Elsewhere is a collection of travel stories by William Least Heat-Moon. The stories take the reader to England, Japan, Mexico, Kansas, Oregon, and many other locations. Not only does the author discuss these locations and the scenery, but also the food, customs, and people of the areas that he visited. The stories were written from 1983-2011. At the beginning of each story, there is a short update on changes since the story was written. For example, Heat-Moon describes a trip on the steamboat, Delta Queen. In his preface to the story, Heat-Moon mentions that the Delta Queen is now a permanently anchored hotel on the Tennessee River at Chattanooga.
William Least Heat-Moon is the pen name of William Trogdon. He was born in Kansas City, Missouri. He now resides near Columbia, Missouri where he lives on an old tobacco farm that he’s returning to forest. Heat-Moon is the author of Blue Highways, PrairyErth, River-Horse, and Roads to Quoz.
I enjoyed reading Here, There, Elsewhere as a change of pace from my usual mysteries or biographies. It was an easy book to pick up and put down as each story was usually less than 20 pages long. Heat-Moon has a way of describing things that make you feel that you are right there with him. If you are interested in travel, you might way to give Here, There, Elsewhere a try.
Pavilion of Women by Pearl S. Buck
(Moyer Bell, 1995, 316 pages)
This book starts out with Madame Wu preparing for her 40th birthday celebration. She is a beautiful, elegant Chinese woman who is proud of her marriage and children. She has status as the Madame of a great house and will celebrate with all the flourishes. She decides to find her husband a second wife and although the custom of concubines has been outlawed she proceeds to find the ideal mate for her husband. By her birthday she brings the second wife into the house and moves into secondary quarters under the same roof. While this stirs the entire household up including the servants, Madame Wu pulls off this coup successfully. I finished this book just prior to visiting several Asia countries and found it inspiring.
The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
(Washington Square Press, 2004, 357 pages)
We often can reflect on our lives by looking back over the years and remembering the good as well as the bad times, but I was not fully aware of life in China before the revolution in 1911 until I read The Good Earth. Buck tells a riveting story about a peasant, Wang Lung, who suffers during famines, works long hours to save up silver, and one day is able to purchase a piece of land for his own. To Wang land was wealth and he toils long and hard to make a life for himself and his family. One day, Wang revisits the rich and decadent town lord, Hwang who initially sold him. Now he purchases one of the slaves, O-Lan, for his wife. O-Lan is a dutiful wife who works alongside Wang to farm the land and only stops to give birth. She is grateful to Wang and seldom asks him for anything. When the famine comes she packs up the children and joins Wang to travel south where they become beggars when the money completely runs out. Wang is determined to return to his land to regain respect and prosper. When he does return, he resumes working his land, acquires more land, and eventually prospers. Years pass, more land is purchased and he fathers more children, but Wang never pays much attention to his wife who has stood by him through many years of difficulty. She lives to please him and accepts Wang’s moving his tea house woman into the house.
Not only were there differing privileges between the rich and poor, but the treatment and consideration of women was drastically different. Wang doesn’t realize how much O-Lan contributed until her death, which leaves Wang’s household in disarray. The profits of the land bring Wang many riches and he too becomes powerful and decadent. The ways of Hwang now come back to haunt him. When Wang nears death he realizes that the land he loved so dearly will be sold off by his two eldest sons. I completed the reading of this book after vising Vietnam and learned more about Viennese and Chinese culture. I am now more enlightened about the struggles of women in this area.
Wedding of the Season by Laura Lee Guhrke
(Avon, 2010, 384 pages)
Days before Will and Trix are set to be married, Will gets the chance of a lifetime to travel to Egypt and help discover King Tut’s tomb. When Trix refuses to move to Egypt, they call off the wedding and Trix is left behind in England to deal with the scandal. Now it’s six years later and Will is returning to England for the first time since he left and finds Trix engaged to another man. As much as Will tries to deny his feelings for Trix, he knows that she truly is the only woman for him. Now he has a few short weeks to convince Trix to marry him instead and to take an adventure to Egypt with him.
Now this is a Historical Romance that I enjoyed. The writing was light, I was invested in the characters from the very beginning, and, best of all, the hero didn’t abuse the heroine. I thought Guhrke really developed the characters well and provided enough back story throughout the book for the reader to realize how involved and complicated the relationship between Trix and Will really was. I truly enjoyed this story and Guhrke’s writing made it a fast read.