Book Review: The Latte Factor

Farnoosh Torabi is easily one of my favorite podcasters. She is funny and knowledgeable. Her podcast, So Money, airs three times a week. With a high frequency show, she brings on a lot of authors to discuss their new books.

One of her recent guests was David Bach. Bach is a well know financial writer. During his interview, he said that this story has been inside him for 12 years. He knew it had to be a young women and he knew the parable he wanted to tell to the world. He said it would be short and something people can read in an hour. He credited Paulo Coelho with telling him he had to write this book. I added The Latte Factor to my library request list. If Coelho told him to write it, it must be good.

The story follows Zoey Daniels for one week as she decides whether or not she would like to take a new job. She meets a barista who provides her the keys to financial freedom. One of which is getting rid of her daily “double shot latte and muffin” habit. She enacts the advice of the barista and her boss. She ends up staying at her job and being happy. As Bach promised, you can read this story in about an hour.

Sallie Krawcheck had a great reaction to the story. She said “Just buy the f***** latte.”

The Latte Factor has some good points about compound interest and making cuts to things however, I have some of the same issues Sallie does. Why is it a female lead in the story? Bach is a man. Men have plenty of habits that are daily and costly. The latte is a female associated drink. Its an older man giving her the advice. It comes across as mansplaining. Beyond that, the bigger issue with women and earning is that they are paid less than men across the board. We pay more for the same items (the pink tax) as men. There is no paid leave for many women. All of these items have an impact on our financial situation that has nothing to do with the choices we make on how to spend our money.

David Bach wrote a cute story about what can happen if you decide to make some changes to your life. But that’s exactly what it is, a fictional story. Bach wanted to write a parable to teach the millennials when in reality he wrote a condescending short story. The charts he puts in the back are interesting.

Who has read The Latte Factor ? What were your thoughts about the book?

If you want to read Sallie Krawcheck’s response to The Latte Factor  you can read it here.

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Book Review: Evil: The Science Behind Humanity’s Dark Side

Who is evil? What is evil? Dr. Julia Shaw makes the argument that evil is a subjective concept in which we, as a society, need to have a more nuanced discussions around.

Dr. Shaw dissects evil throughout eight chapters and asks the reader to think about each example of evil through a different lens. It was a fascinating examination about evil. With each example, she asks us to examine our gut reactions and move away from naming behaviors as evil until we examine the underlying causes. It takes some of those uncomfortable topics and makes the reader really think about them without the labeling or othering that typically comes when discussing ‘evil’ topics..

If you’re interested in human behavior or human psyche, then you will love this.

Who’s has this on their TBR list? Who has read this book?

Book Review: Girl Wash Your Face

I’m about to be in the minority but Rachel Hollis book is not impressive.

I was having doubts about her in the first four chapters. Then we arrived at Chapter 5. It could have been a good chapter but then she detailed her borderline abusive first year of her relationship with her now husband. The title of the chapter gives the indication that she realized having a man is not important. When in reality, she is perpetuating the myth of the big gesture. She is perpetuating that if you give an ultimatum then the man will change. Threats will make someone change.

The reality is that if he acts like an asshole, he is an asshole. This chapter tinged the way I took the rest of her advice. I find that the “lies” she is trying to correct, she was still doing them herself.

Beyond that, I found her writing style to be convoluted. She has some good points but they were lost in the way she wrote about them. I found her to be privileged and unable to see her privilege.

There are a plethora of self help/self improvement books out there. There are plenty of other ones that can actually help you get to where you want to be.

An Anonymous Girl

May’s book club pick was An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen.

Jessica is a makeup artist trying to make ends meet in New York City. By chance she heard about a study from a client. She shows up for the study and is sucked into the mysterious Dr. Shields study on morality and ethics.

Jessica is looking to make some extra money and finds herself sucked into Dr. Shields study. Each task she accomplishes is directly followed by a large financial reward. She quickly realizes that Dr. Shields is not giving her the full story and that she may be a pawn in a dangerous game of cat and mouse.

This is the second book I’ve read by Hendricks and Pekkanen. They do a great job of setting up the reader to have the rug ripped out from under them. This is our May Book Club selection and I can’t wait to discuss it with everyone.

Who has read this book? What did you think about it?

I’ll Be Gone In The Dark

Let’s start off by saying that I never realized how active my imagination is until I read this book. I had to stop reading this book for awhile because I kept having nightmares about the Golden State Killer. I have no idea how Michelle McNamara spent years researching, tracking and chasing down every single detail about these crimes.

With that being said, it was her obsession with her research that may have killed her. McNamara was haunted by these cases. She had insomnia caused by her research. She passed away in April 2016. Her death was attributed to an accidental overdose of a lethal combination of prescription drugs.

Her book was released two years after her death.

Due to her steadfast commitment, McNamara is the reason the Golden State Killer was finally caught. Unfortunately, she didn’t live long enough to see what her research led to. McNamara’s book was published posthumously and the details that she was able to pull together helped to lead the detectives to him. She had the advantage of looking at all the pieces in aggregate, years after the attacks stopped. She was only concerned with finding the truth.

This book is a must read for any true crime fan.

Ghosted by Rosie Walsh

The book was well written. My problem with the book is that I took issue with the story. I found the main character to be unlikeable and annoying. Walsh wrote a weak and simpering female protagonist. She highlighted all the bad stereotypes about women and wrote a book about it.

Why did I find Sarah unlikeable? I think my distaste from the book comes from the values that the main character seems to protrude. Sarah obsesses about Eddie who has stopped talking to her after seven ‘magical’ days together. SPOILER ALERT: He is brooding man, with a dark past that they are connected but they end up back together.

Give me a freaking break. This is everything wrong with people now. They hang onto the idea of someone forever, hoping that they will come around. If someone stops talking to you with no further contact aka ‘Ghosting’ instead of using their words to communicate what is wrong, then you need to RUN, not walk in the opposite direction of that man. This novel plays into the fantasy that so many woman have. It supports the idea of women falling in love with and hanging onto a man’s potential. Potential is why woman waste time in terrible relationships or terrible jobs.

With that being said Rosie Walsh is a good writer. I could never say she writes poorly. She has the mechanical skill to put together a story and obscuring details to have a better twist. I wish she had written better characters and a better story.

Can’t like every book that you read though. I did finish it so I’ll give myself a pat on the back for it.

The Plot Against America By Philip Roth

Dystopian fiction everyone! Who doesn’t love a little bit of alternative history? I have always enjoyed the genre. I find myself reading more of it lately. There are definitely a lot more of it being published in the Trump era but there is a plethora of ones that a couple of years older but still strike a cord in today’s environment. The Plot Against America by Philip Roth is a great example of that.

The Plot Against America was published in 2004. Written as if it were an autobiography of his life, Roth tells the tale of what happened to himself and his family when Charles Lindburgh beat FDR and became the President of the United States in 1940. It is a fascinating examination of how quickly life as we know it can dissolve into something totally and completely unrecognizable.

14 years later and his story still resonates with a reader. I found it particularly relevant in America’s current political climate.The book brings into sharp focus how much politics plays a role in our daily life. I found myself comparing the fictional America that Roth created and the America that is happening here now. I find a lot of glaring similarities between President Lindburgh’s America and President Trump’s America. Citizens are constantly asking themselves, can he do this? Is this legal? It was all done under the idea of protecting the US citizens.

The questions that I kept asking throughout the novel were: Who does this make it safer for? Who gets to decide what is safe and what isn’t? Why do the Jewish neighborhoods have to be broken up but not the Italian or the Irish? Why are the Jews labeled an unAmerican but not any other group. Roth describes the effect of ‘othering’ and the wide ranging effects it has. His novel paints a realistic picture of America’s slow descent into a  nation that allows for the ostracism of its own citizens. The notion that it can happen here creeps into the readers mind and does not leave. There is no big event, it is the accumulation of all these actions that land the characters in an unrecognizable America.

Final thought and takeaways from the book: It’s important to pay attention to the little actions our leaders take. It is the sum of all the little actions that will have the biggest impact on our country. The book was dense. It took awhile for me to get through the book but as always Roth created an intriguing and engrossing read.

With Election Day being tomorrow, I thought this review was timely. This book shares the message loud and clear that elections have consequences. Maybe if more people read Philip Roth’s book before 2016 we wouldn’t be in this current situation. Sadly, we can’t go back but only go forward so get out and exercise your right to vote!

 

 

 

The Daisy Children by Sofia Grant

**SPOILER ALERT: This blog post has spoilers**

I have absolutely no idea how this book ended up on my library queue. It showed up at the library and I read the back and I was flummoxed. Nothing rang a bell. It didn’t even seem like a book I would typically read.

The Daisy Children follows three generations of women but told from the perspective of Katie and Margaret. Katie is Margaret’s grandchild. The story is told between Katie and Margaret’s perspective. Margaret was the replacement child her parent’s had after her sister was killed in a tragic accident. Katie is Margaret’s grandchild. At it’s heart, the novel is a romance story.

Katie is a thirty something woman, unhappily married, when her estranged grandmother, Margaret, passes away and names her in the will. Katie is brought back to her home state of Texas and meets her cousin Scarlet. Together, the cousins discover their shared past and begin to take steps to empower themselves to live a better life. Because it is a romance novel, Katie ends up finding out her husband is having an affair and decides to take up with the handsome wounded vet who is Margaret’s neighbor.

The novel uses a real life accident that occurred in Texas as a focal point of the story. It is the thing that connect all the characters together. However, the idea of the daisy children or the replacement children is completely a work of the author’s imagination. Using this accident as the point that ties the novel together was interesting even thought the novel as a whole was pretty shallow.  The characters didn’t have a lot of depth and it was very transparent how everything was going to end up. I wasn’t a huge fan of the book and I wouldn’t recommend picking it up unless you are a serious Romance genre fan.

Who is Vera Kelly? By Rosalie Knecht

Two words to describe Who is Vera Kelly? are: Slow Burn. The novel flips back and forth from Vera’s present to her past. While it is confusing at first, the reader is slowly lead through these ‘past’ chapters and begins to see how Vera ended up in her present. It seems as though the author is purposefully making the story confusing because the characters path to her present situation and occupation was not straight forward. It had a lot of a twists and turns which I found to be very engaging.

I came across Who Is Vera Kelly? on a listicle article about highly anticipated books. The only reason this caught my eye is that Vera Kelly is the name of a professor at the college I attended. I read the description and the book is a spy novel and follows Vera on her exploits in 1960s Argentina.

This gave me pause because the professor in question, quite openly, discussed her life as a spy. She was imprisoned in Central American prisons for spying. She immigrated to the United States at some point and is now a professor. My interest was peaked. Not enough to add it to my order list for the library but it was in the back of my mind. Fate brought me to the book, when it was predominantly displayed at the library in the New Books section. I was on my way to grab a book I ordered and picked it up too

Who Is Vera Kelly? was a short book. However, it had a lot of topics packed into the book: CIA, Cold War culture, American interventions, LGBT scene in the 1950s/1960s, and  student revolutionaries to name a few. While very diverse, Rosalie Knecht, tied all of these topics into her story  and characters and made them fit in seamlessly. Nothing seemed forced or cliched with the characters.

This is the second book Rosalie Knecht has written. I am very interested to talk with her about her book and what the inspirations were for the novel. If I had the chance to meet her, I would have to ask her if she knows the Vera Kelly I know. A lot of her story sounds very similar to things and situations that Vera experienced and told her students about. I can’t help but think “Did she steal Vera’s life and make it a novel?!”. Maybe or maybe not. Maybe I like this story so much because it is legitimizing the stories I heard from Vera’s students in college. It makes Knecht’s story more enjoyable because I know what she is describing in her novel isn’t so far fetched.

Longer than the usual review but I really enjoyed the book. I definitely recommend picking it up if you are interested in the Cold War and Latin American politics.

 

Dopesick by Beth Macy

In a previous life, I was the committee director for a state legislative committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse. I spent two years submerged in learning everything I could about the bludgeoning (at that time) epidemic. I remember in one of my first meetings with an academic and he told me quite plainly, “Oh we have not even seen the worst of this yet.” He told me that this was a long time in the making and the inaction to actually address the problem would have far reaching effects on the Americans

It’s three and half years later and everything he said has become true.

Even if you have not been personally touched by the heroin epidemic, Dopesick is a powerful book. Beth Macy is an investigative reporter based in Virginia. To tell the larger story of the opioid and heroin epidemic, she focused on a few towns and a few individuals and the path their lives took.

I find her book to be so good because she takes a look at the epidemic from all angles. She does not just take aim at one industry or blame one person. She takes a holistic approach to the examination of the epidemic.

Addiction does not discriminate. It rears its ugly head in every town and it can appear in any family. Everyone needs to read this to understand how we got where we are today. If you read any book this Fall, you should read Beth Macy’s book Dopesick.