The Total Money Makeover

Skip the book; just don’t use credit.

I borrowed The Total Money Makeover after seeing it was highly recommended on a website I like, and I don’t even have the stomach to finish it. I think it’s like reading The Shack; everyone said I would love it, yet the first few pages were so full of obnoxious drivel that I couldn’t help but put it down. Forever.

Look, if you want to put a book out there, it has to be a book. You cannot repeat the same thing over and over for sixty pages and expect it to be called a book, though I suppose this book has sold enough copies to make plenty of people say it passes as one. And using an editor is always a good idea, too.

It’s not even as if the makeover isn’t helpful at all; there are plenty of good tips inside masquerading as holier than thou, male, white privilege. If you’re a single mom, you’re pretty much SOL; don’t bother with these tips.

There’s also lots of fat hate and religious doctrine going on, so if you’re not into either of those things, you probably won’t enjoy the book, either. Seriously—the author bashes being fat (and even uses it, among other poor metaphors, to describe being in debt or managing money poorly—when I thought everyone wanted a fat wallet!) and uses proverbs (interpreted in his own way, of course) in every few pages. I kept feeling like I was reading the same two pages over and over again.

Most of the tips, by the way—from not using credit to keeping a written budget for every dollar you spend—are pretty simple and self-explanatory. The entire helpful contents of the book could be printed on a single list of bullet points, but I suppose that wouldn’t pass for a book, either.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth

A promising lead just faded into a sleepy, muddy story for me.

After hearing so many promising things about the YA horror story The Forest of Hands and Teeth, I was so excited to get my hands on a copy. And let me tell you, the first few chapters were seriously scary—and so riveting, in fact, that I had a hard time putting the book down at all. But I don’t know if it’s because I’ve become so spoiled on my Ellen Datlow collections of pretty much perfect horror and fantasy, or if I’m just the (getting) old curmudgeon harsh critic my best friend says I am, but I just lost interest in the middle of the book.

The story starts out like Zombieland meets The Village, which is most excellent, right? It’s like zombies in puritan times. And at the beginning, it’s pretty awesome. But then our heroine’s life is suddenly out of whack when her mom becomes a zombie, her father’s already one, and her brother disowns her. Throw in two very lackluster love interests that you never give a damn about, a weird religious caste system inexplicably run by women in a culture that is still run by male heads of household (um, what?), and a bleak outlook without meaning (and constant self-absorption and long, boring drawn-out passages), and you’ve got this novel.

I don’t mean to be harsh; I really don’t. I love novels like The Road and I Am Legend, which do justice to this scenario much more proficiently. And I love the idea of a heroine in charge instead of a lead male, an uncommon theme in such stories. Much of author Carrie Ryan’s story is good in terms of ideas; they obviously worked for many people as the book is a New York Times bestseller.

It just didn’t work well for me. I would have preferred a less bleak story overall or ending, a protagonist I liked a bit better, and more sensible scenes. The complete lack of romance where it was obviously meant to have been and characters to really root for are probably what made me dislike it most. A little bit of humor could have helped, too. The protagonist is also constantly being slapped by people, which I did not like at all. The whole violence against women as a romantic theme should have died with Gone with the Wind rather than been rejuvenated with Twilight.

Ryan’s writing, however, is quite nice; I liked how she drew out tension, something that many writers do have trouble with. I noted that on her website, she’s listed in many short story compilations and I plan on checking them out; I am betting that in that type of story, she will be very successful. As far as this series, however, I don’t think I’ll be reading the sequels, which sound just as bleak. I do think that this book would work well adapted as a film, though, and would be willing to watch it. I wouldn’t say the same for many books, but in this case I do think visual elements would help speed the story along and truly make it come alive.

JK Rowling Announces New Book

Author warns that it will be very different from the Harry Potter series.

Did you hear the news that has the entire Internet abuzz with anticipation and impatience? JK Rowling, the authoress of the Harry Potter series, has announced that she will be releasing a new book intended for an adult audience. Ahem. Squeeing may commence.

Rowling’s statement was brief, and indicated not only that the work will be intended for adults—but that it will also be considerably different from her previous works. She also said that she was grateful that the series gave her the freedom to work on whatever she wants this time, which is true; I can only imagine how it must feel to have such a successful career followed by the time to write whatever you like. And even if her work is not well received, she’s not going to be poverty-stricken with her previous success behind her.

But now I am incredibly curious, as is just about any other Rowling reader, as to what the work will be. More fantasy would be so welcome, but if she’s gunning for the next great piece of fiction, that would be awesome too. So what do you want to see in the novel? Some action or adventure? Perhaps a bit of mystery? Saying it’s that different from her other works is a pretty large blanket statement to make, and could encompass an enormous range of genre and subject material.

I would think that a romance would be out, but you never know; I do like how she lightly touched upon that genre during the Harry Potter adventures. How about a sweeping adult drama or the next Oprah book club selection? I could definitely see that happening (if the book club still exists, that is; I have no idea if it does or not).

My big desire is to have it be full of memorable characters as she is known to create. Even though her stories are known to be full of magic and wizardry, the real grip of her stories was the characterization itself. Rowling and Angie Sage are great at this—casting a wonderful cast of complex characters who stay with you no matter how they change and grow—or even die.

Whatever Rowling ends up releasing, I know that people will be lined up to read it. The next work she writes after this one, of course, will likely be dependent upon what happens with this one. I wish Ms. Rowling the best of luck with this upcoming release and until it’s available, I will be eagerly awaiting it along with the rest of her fans.