Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Author Timothy Ferriss claims to have discovered the way to become one of the New Rich without being tied to a regular, 9 to 5 job in the book The 4-Hour Workweek.  Most people have accepted the concept of deferred reward, and therefore spend 30 plus years in jobs they hate with people they dislike all for the promised reward of retirement.   If you follow the guidelines he sets out, you can begin enjoying your life now, rather than just gritting your teeth for the next few decades.

The mainstay of his plan is the DEAL process.  Definition, Elimination, Automation and Location are the 4 pillars of this guide.  By realizing what you want, avoiding that you don't, and automating your "cash flow," you can live anywhere and still reap the rewards.  Of course, everyone will want to know how to live on working so few hours per week.  The answer seems to be outsourcing.  Ferriss's first big foray into the business world was a "sports nutrition company" where he "outsourced everything from manufacturing to ad design."  That seems to be a very risky thing to do -- not just financially, but how can you ensure what is in the product (especially if it's being manufactured overseas) when you seemingly have no control of supervision over how it's made?  Even though he avoided (apparently) any lawsuits or other disasters, he was so stressed by running the business full-time that he sold it and looked for a better way to make a living. There are plenty of websites included to help you achieve each of the 4 parts of the DEAL process, as well as worksheets and examples to help you follow the plan.

Some of the advice is familiar:  you'll be more likely to shake off problems and obstacles if you are working in a field you love; failure should be seen as an opportunity to go in another (possibly more lucrative) direction; don't settle for something you don't feel passionate about, etc.  There is also a lot of what seems to be filler at the end -- posts from the author's blog, "case studies" (people who have followed this plan) and "bonus" chapters of two of the author's other books.  Still, for those who are very motivated to escape the daily grind, this book has lots of suggestions that might help to do that.

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of The 4-Hour Workweek from Blogging for Books in exchange for this review

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Although the term "family planning" is a politically-charged topic in the United States, surveys show that most families (even those to claim to be the most devout) make use of contraception.  Sadly, in many parts of the developing world, this is not an option for the majority of people.  The book The Mother & Child Project is a collection of essays from people like Melinda Gates, Hillary Clinton, Dr. Bill Frist, Jimmy Carter, and Kay Warren (wife of pastor Rick Warren) on the topic of helping countries prosper by improving access to health care for women and children.

The statistics discussed are alarming and heart-breaking:  nearly 300,000 women die in childbirth each year and nearly 7 million children die before the age of 5 from preventable causes.  The authors in this book are arguing for access to contraception methods which would greatly improve maternal health by allowing women to space out the births of their children and to allow their bodies to heal and prepare before they give birth again.  This relatively simple idea would save many lives as well as allow many more girls to continue their education longer and therefore be better able to support their families.

Most of the authors in the book take great pains to explain that access to contraception does not include abortion.  Contraception is not the only solution to the problem of repeated pregnancies -- in many of the areas discussed in the book, the cultural norm is toward big families, so many of the people who work in these areas must try to educate the communities on the benefits of smaller families.  There are many personal stories told of great suffering, due to a lack of resources, education, and entrenched views that women are only valuable as childbearing machines.  The work that the Hope Through Healing Hands project is doing to reduce maternal and child mortality is vitally important and already showing great success.

While I was deeply moved by the essays in the book, having so many authors who all basically have the same message meant that there was a great deal of repetition.  If you sit down to read through the book, each essay, sooner or later, will impart the message that HTSP (Healthy Timing & Spacing of Pregnancies) is the most important aspect of preventing maternal and child deaths.  Still the overall message is so important that this is a small quibble in an otherwise important and ultimately inspiring book.

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of The Mother & Child Project from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for this review

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Cat DeLuca is the owner of the Pants on Fire Detective Agency in Chicago.  She's ably assisted by her partner, beagle Inga. Bye, Bye Love is the third installment in the series by K.J. Larsen.  While out on a walk together, Inga leads Cat to a body.  The man has been shot in the face -- in fact, his face is missing.  Cat goes through the dead man's pockets to look for identification, and comes across an envelope full of cash with her Uncle Joe's name written on it.  A park employee comes by, and when Cat tells him she's going to call the police to report the body, he says he's already done it.  He then proceeds to knock her out with a stun gun.

When she comes to, she's still in the park, but the dead guy is missing.  She calls her brother, Rocco, a cop, and reports her find.  Of course, when the police arrive and find there's no body, they are reluctant to believe her story.  Luckily, there are some blood traces left behind, so Captain Bob of the police has to admit that Cat discovered something in the park, although he's not exactly sure he buys her story.

Most of the men in Cat's family are either current or former members of the police force, including Rocco, her father and her Uncle Joey.  Her boyfriend, Chance Savino, is an FBI agent who is often away on mysterious missions.  Cat must try to find out what connection her Ferrari-driving Uncle Joey had to the dead man as well as keep herself safe when the "park employee" seems to be coming after her.

If I hadn't read anything by Janet Evanovich, I probably would have enjoyed this book more.   As it was, I felt it was trying too hard to follow the same formula.  Feisty, independent young woman? Check.  Wacky co-worker? Check.  Mysterious boyfriend? Check. Putting herself in dangerous situations continuously? Check.  It just seemed to be trying too hard to jump on the Stephanie Plum bandwagon.  Also, this book was the third in a series, so I might have enjoyed it more if I started from the beginning.  I had a hard time keeping up with all her relatives, their fellow cops, and other characters, so that didn't help, either.  There were just way too many people to keep up with.

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of Bye, Bye Love from Poisoned Pen Press in exchange for this review

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I'm a librarian who is interested in all things British. I try to visit London as often as possible, and am always planning my next trip. I lived in Sweden for a few years with my Swedish husband, so the occasional Swedish reference may occur . . .

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