Thursday, March 28, 2013

review: how to retire the cheapskate way by jeff yeager

Over the years I’ve read a number of financial advice books, so I was quite interested in a book about retirement planning from renowned cheapskate Jeff Yeager. Some of his advice in How to Retire the Cheapskate Way was surprising. For example, Yeager goes against the standard retirement advice regarding how much money one needs to live comfortably in retirement; he cites statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor about how despite increased costs for healthcare, people in their retirement years actually spend significantly less money than they did in their working years. For people who lived below their means while working, this means they’ll need far less money than the standard of one million dollars. Yeager even profiles someone who lives entirely on Social Security!

Much of what’s found here is common sense advice, but there were some new ideas (at least new to me and I feel I’m well-read on the subject). According to Yeager, the most important thing is to reduce your dependency on money which means not having any debt (including a mortgage) at retirement. Yeagar also has a great list of questions (found in chapter six) to ask yourself about the things you own. One of those questions is: What would my life be like if I woke up tomorrow morning and this [possession] was no longer something I owned? This book is great whether you’re decades away or getting close to retiring.

It may be surprising given my love of shoes, but I’m actually quite frugal. By saving money on groceries and driving a well-maintained car that’s over 10 years old, I can indulge on shoes. That’s why I preferred the examples of people who were actually enjoying their retirement years such as the couple who bought a boat and traveled the world versus the women who never spent her money and died in her 90s with over 4 million dollars in her estate.

About the audiobook: Johnny Heller narrated with a very conversational (and funny) tone that worked well for the financial advice given. How to Retire the Cheapskate Way provides a number of websites for reference which did not work well in the audio format. Not only is it nearly impossible to write down all the websites, it became quite monotonous to listen to Heller read out the long web addresses of individual articles. The audiobook was published by AudioGO in 2013 and runs 5 hours and 30 minutes.
Review copy provided by Audiobook Jukebox.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

top ten tuesday: recommended

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Every Tuesday the site has a new top ten list with this week's being the top ten books I recommend the most. Coming up with just ten is pretty impossible because I've read so many amazing books. To narrow it down, I decided to choose only amongst those I've reviewed so these are all titles published in the last few years. And after I made the initial list, there were many more I wanted to include, so I separated out YA into it's own list.

1. Sarah Jio's books (yes, I'm cheating): The Violets of March (which is the best of the bunch), The Bungalow, and Blackberry Winter

2. Hank Ryan Phillipi's books: Prime Time, Face Time, Air Time (love this series; reminds me that I still need to read the fourth book), and The Other Woman

3. After You by Julie Buxbaum

4. Grace Grows by Shelle Sumners

5. Miss Me When I'm Gone by Emily Arsenault

6. It's So Easy by Duff McKagan

7. Damage Control by Denise Hamilton

8. Friends Like Us by Lauren Fox

9. Firefly Rain by Richard Dansky

10. Lone Star Legend by Gwendolyn Zepeda

The Young Adult list:

1. How It Ends by Laura Wiess

2. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

3. Forget You by Jennifer Echols

4. White Cat by Holly Black

5. Dark Eden by Patrick Carmen

6. Deadly Cool by Gemma Halliday

7. Ten Things We Did by Sarah Mlynowski

8. Matched by Ally Condie

9. Beneath a Meth Moon by Jacqueline Woodson

10. Frost by Marianna Baer

Friday, March 22, 2013

review: a tangle of knots by lisa graff

In A Tangle of Knots, Lisa Graff creates a world where some people have Talents and others are Fair (meaning without a Talent).  While some of the Talents could actually benefit the person (for example, Cady not only bakes wonderful cakes, she’s able to figure out what flavor every person would like best which could lead to a very profitable bakery), others are completely ridiculous (such as Zane’s spitting ability).  In addition to the fantasy element, there’s a bit of a mystery with a tendency toward thriller at the end.

Although a middle grade novel, the short chapters (sometimes only half a page) created too many easy stopping points without enough of a cliffhanger to compel the reader to keep going.   Multiple points of view interrupted the narrative flow far too many times.  The characters did eventually come together, but it felt forced to have everyone show up at Cady’s cake baking competition—a ticketed event that only three of the characters should have had admittance to.

The book does have some great cake recipes including a mystery fudge cake for the character V.

Review copy provided by the publisher, Philomel Books.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

giveaway: when she was gone

Thanks to Simon & Schuster you have the chance to win a copy of Gwendolen Gross's fifth novel, When She Was Gone!  One US resident will win.

Here's the publisher description:
"What happened to Linsey Hart? When the Cornell-bound teenager disappears into the steamy blue of a late-summer morning, her quiet neighborhood is left to pick apart the threads of their own lives and assumptions.
Linsey’s neighbors are just ordinary people—but even ordinary people can keep terrible secrets hidden close. There’s Linsey’s mother, Abigail, whose door-to-door searching makes her social-outcast status painfully obvious; Mr. Leonard, the quiet, retired piano teacher with insomnia, who saw Linsey leave; Reeva, the queen bee of a clique of mothers, now obsessed with a secret interest; Timmy, Linsey’s lovelorn ex-boyfriend; and George, an eleven-year-old loner who is determined to find out what happened to his missing neighbor.

As the days of Linsey’s absence tick by, dread and hope threaten to tear a community apart. This luminous new novel by the acclaimed author of The Orphan Sister explores coming of age in the shadows of a suburban life, and what is revealed when the light suddenly shines in..."

The rules: Enter by leaving a comment to this post with your email (if I can't contact you, you can't win). You can gain additional entries by leaving separate comments letting me know that you're a follower (one extra each for the blog and Twitter) or have posted a link to the giveaway on your site. The deadline to enter is 11:59pm Pacific on April 6. Winner will be selected at random and must have a mailing address in the US.

review: when she was gone by gwendolen gross

This post contains affiliate links.

The disappearance of recent high school graduate Linsey Hart causes a neighborhood uproar.  Some are suspicious of an eccentric neighbor while others think Linsey’s run off.  When She Was Gone spans 10 days in a suburban neighborhood filled with run of the mill secrets:  Linsey and her high school sweetheart aren’t as broken up as Linsey’s mother believes, the music teacher sometimes wears his dead mother’s clothes, and one of the women is having an affair.

With such a mundane setting, this novel filled with unlikable characters needed something big to make Linsey’s disappearance suspenseful, but it lacked even that.  The constant divergences into subplots, although entertaining at times, that had nothing to do with Linsey made me wonder if there would ever be a resolution.  The writing was quite passive which made the story drag at times; even the revelation of what happened with Linsey comes passively through the musings of a neighbor whose only connection was that Linsey baby-sat her children.
Review copy provided by the publisher, Gallery Books.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

review: mila 2.0 by debra driza

Mila 2.0 is a robot created as a means of defense for the US.  She has the perfect cover—a teenage girl—but she’s absolutely lethal.  But when Debra Driza’s outstanding debut starts, Mila has no idea she’s anything other than a teenager with an overprotective mother who has moved them to a small town after the death of Mila’s father.  It all seems normal enough until a car accident reveals something very strange about Mila’s internal workings.

This is an action-packed novel where the action is not passive, but begs to play out in front of your eyes.  And while there are some cute boys and teenage drama, Mila stands strong in her mission once she learns who she is, what her “mom” did, and the danger they’re in.  Mila is such a compelling character that I not only couldn’t stop reading, I am thrilled that this is just the first book in what’s slated to be a trilogy.  
Review copy provided by the publisher, Katherine Tegan Books.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

review: royal captive by dana marton

Despite being part of the Harlequin Intrigue line, Royal Captive was light on both the romance and the intrigue.  The book starts with the crown jewels of Valtria being stolen while the princes are distracted by matchmaking schemes and the daughter of an art thief is in town.  Prince Istvan, who has been burned by love, immediately suspects Lauryn is responsible for the theft, so he takes off after her and they both end up on a ship run by criminals.  They escape, of course, and then run around looking for the jewels while noticing how attractive the other is.  It was all pretty snooze-worthy with a conspiracy to explain it all thrown in at the end.  On the plus side, Lauryn is a strong female lead.
Review copy provided by the publisher, Harlequin.