Inaccurate Knowledge Is Worse Than No Knowledge

I hate bad nonfiction books—by bad, I don’t specifically mean boring (though I’m not fond of boring books, either), but books that contain major inaccuracies. I also hate it when people condescend to women, especially when it comes to finance. Unfortunately, I encountered both inaccuracies and condescension in a book I read recently. I had to trash it on Goodreads, but I’m sure there are many of you out there who don’t follow my Goodreads review. (I don’t follow most of the blogger I read on Goodreads, so I certainly don’t blame you!) Therefore, I just had to post this review on here in all its ranty glory. Enjoy!

The Financial Diet: A Total Beginner's Guide to Getting Good with MoneyThe Financial Diet: A Total Beginner’s Guide to Getting Good with Money by Chelsea Fagan
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

If this book were simply useless to me, I could have given it two stars. I know it’s marketed towards young women who don’t know much about money. And that’s fine, because there are people who don’t know much and everyone’s got to start somewhere. I get that.

What made me give this book one star (i.e. the lowest rating allowed—I’d give it negative stars if I could!) was how some of the information was just plain wrong. Like criminally wrong. So wrong that if you followed it, other poor fellow unfortunate readers, you’d find yourself in deep trouble.

The first major error I’m going to talk about comes in chapter 5. Do not, do not, DO NOT ever buy a house with a down payment of less than 20%. One of the so-called “experts” “interviewed” (I use both those terms, experts and interviewed, loosely) says you can put 3.5% down for your house. NO. Do not ever do that. PMI (private mortgage insurance) will eat you alive. Your finances will be so messed up it isn’t even funny. I will note that other reviewers pointed this out, too, so it makes me feel a bit better that this mistake did not go unnoticed.

The next, and in some ways more egregious error (because you probably start investing before buying a house) occurs in chapter 2, the chapter about investing. This quote is so misguided that it’s obvious the author, Chelsea Fagan, has zero idea what she’s talking about:

Explore other low-risk investment options, such as mutual funds and index funds.

Continue reading “Inaccurate Knowledge Is Worse Than No Knowledge”

Advertisements

48 Pages Per Day

I’m reading again in Russian, everyone. This is a Big Deal because for the past two (or three?) months, I have not read much in Russian. I haven’t read many Russian websites and I definitely haven’t read any books in Russian. I honestly haven’t done much with the Russian language at all as of late.

This is what I’m currently reading:

Соавторы
“Coauthors” by Alexandra Marinina

It’s a long book, but I’ve calculated that if I read just forty-eight pages per day, I’ll finish it in ten days. Of course, that’s easier said than done. Reading in Russian is a struggle for me. I can’t go as fast as I do in English and my vocabulary isn’t as good. So, the whole time I’m reading, I’m struggling with the idea that I could be reading in English. Not only that, but I could be reading science fiction in English. There are Star Wars books to be read, for goodness sakes!

But I’ve got to read this. I need to read more in Russian and I’m trying to work my way through my book stash. I don’t own a ton of Russian books, but at the pace I read, it’ll take me a while to get through them!

Summer 2018 Writing Report

Apparently, I have been so remiss in posting my writing reports that the last one was in April of this year! That’s crazy! I knew I’d missed posting June and July and obviously August just ended, so that one isn’t up, either, but I thought I’d done May.

Therefore, I decided to do a massive writing report for the four months of May, June, July, and August. September will (hopefully) be by itself, assuming I remember to post it!

May

May was… not the best month for writing—in my defense, I did take a vacation! Vacation is an excellent excuse not to write. I was editing that month, too, which brings down the total words produced. Vomiting words onto the page for a first draft and editing those words are two completely different stages of writing. It’s way easier to get high word counts with the former than the latter. Anyway, I wrote a total of only 1,683 words that month. That’s an average of 54 per day. I only wrote on ten days during the month, though, so it makes sense my word count would be lower.

June

June wasn’t much better, at least according to the writing log. I wrote a total of 3,877 words that month, which is an average of 129 per day. However, I was outlining a future novel with pen and paper, so those words did not get counted in the log. Counting words by hand is very tedious! Including those days I was outlining, I wrote on sixteen days during the month, which isn’t too bad.

July

July was a bit better. I wrote 6,243 words total, which makes for an average of 201 words per day. I also did some outlining that didn’t make it into the log. I went back to editing that month (in June, when I realized the structure of my novel wasn’t working, I took a temporary break from editing because I was so overwhelmed—I really, really, really wish they took the time to teach proper editing in school, as that would be a useful skill to have been taught). Including the days I outlined, I wrote on sixteen days, just like in June.

August

August was a very good month. In fact, it was the best I’ve had in a while, writing-wise. I wrote a total of 18,337 words, which is an average of 591 per day. Not too bad, if I don’t say so myself! And how did I accomplish this? I started writing every day. Since August 12, I have written every day. I wrote for twenty-seven days in August.

I was so tired of not writing and not having the motivation to write, so I vowed I would start doing it again every day. My only two rules are: 1) I have to work on something every day and produce at least 500 new words, and 2) I have to finish what I start. I was having trouble editing my novel, so I wrote some short stories instead, which was fun. Now I’m back to editing the novel. I may take another break, if necessary—but I’ll be working on short stories if I decide to pause my editing again.

And I just realized that I’ve only written about 300 words today, so I need to go write 200 more so I don’t break my streak!

To Continue? Or Not To Continue?

…that is the question.

No, dear readers, I’m not talking whether to continue writing this blog or not. I’m talking about a book I checked out of the library last week.

Do I like this book? Or don’t I? That is (also) the question.

If you’ve read this blog for a while, you’ve probably gathered I’m a fast reader. I actually have to force myself to slow down and enjoy books sometimes, as opposed to completely inhaling them. That’s why it’s surprising that this book, The Madagaskar Plan by Guy Saville, is taking me forever to get through. I’ve had it for a whole five days now and I’m maybe a third of the way through, if that.

It’s odd because though I don’t dislike the book, I also don’t love it. I feel completely neutral about it. It is an odd book because though it’s supposed to be a sequel to The Afrika Reich, which I also read, you don’t really need to have read the first book to read this book.

I have yet to decide whether to finish it or not. I keep reading bits and pieces of it sporadically. By the time I do decide whether it’s worth finishing, I’ll probably already be done and there won’t be a decision to make then.

Charlotte’s Biggest Fan

No, I’m not talking about a little green parakeet named Charlotte—I’m talking about the British author Charlotte Brontë, who is one of my favorite writers.

Thanks to me, two of my coworkers are now reading Jane Eyre (it’s only the best book ever). I’m happy that I had a long, extended conversation with these two coworkers about the merits of the Brontë sisters and their work. We came to the conclusion that Charlotte is our favorite sister and that the Brontë sisters’ work is much easier to read than Jane Austen’s. Not that I don’t love Jane Austen, but sometimes I do find her prose a little… turgid.

Spoilerific Review of ‘Thrawn: Alliances’

You guys, I wrote my Goodreads review, as promised! It is full of spoilers—seriously, if you don’t want to know a lot about the story, don’t read this! I’ll say it again: there are a ton of spoilers in this review! Proceed with caution! 🙂

Thrawn:  AlliancesThrawn: Alliances by Timothy Zahn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve been waiting for this book for a very long time. (Anticipation tends to make time drag out.) It did not disappoint.

Even though this book is a sequel to Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn, you really don’t need to have read the first one to understand this. (You should read it, though, because it’s AMAZING. Seriously, Thrawn single-handedly turned me into a Star Wars fan.) Eli Vanto is mentioned once, and Commodore Faro showed up at the end of the previous book, but that’s about it. Instead, this book has references to some of the prequel trilogy, to other books, and to the TV shows Clone Wars and Rebels (I haven’t seen the shows, so I discovered that by looking up a few things I didn’t understand).

Random obscure references can be frustrating, but don’t let that stop you from reading this book. It’s excellent. I really enjoyed the interactions between Thrawn and his crew—he really is a good leader, so much so that I wish managers at work would emulate him more—as well as Thrawn and Vader, past and present. Yes, dear readers, it’s true: Darth Vader is in this book (he is a main character, as you can probably tell from the cover) and Zahn writes him well. I could hear all of his blunt, pithy statements being said in James Earl Jones’ voice from the movies.

I really enjoyed how Vader didn’t want to reveal his past. A few times, Thrawn makes reference to the fact that they met before, which Vader denies. By the end of the book, Thrawn knows, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Vader is Anakin Skywalker. Of course, the two of them don’t have some heart-to-heart about this. But I still enjoyed seeing this mystery play out.

Another unexpected part of this book was the inclusion of Padmé. I love Padmé! Unfortunately, her sections were the weakest, mainly because Zahn had so little to work with concerning her. The Star Wars canon has never done her justice, unfortunately. The good news is Zahn did the best he could with what he had—you’ve got to start somewhere.

By the end of the book, we discover a big secret about the Chiss—they navigate through hyperspace using Force-sensitive kids, whose strength in the Force diminishes as they grow older. These children, some of whom were kidnapped by the Grysk, a new species of alien, were the source of the disturbance Palpatine felt at the beginning of the novel. Thrawn and Vader have completed their mission and developed a grudging respect for each other. (Seriously, one of the most entertaining aspects of the this book is seeing Vader snipe at poor Thrawn for almost the entire time.) Vader promises to back Thrawn’s TIE Defender project. Thrawn says the emperor is interested in expanding the Empire to the Unknown Regions, something Thrawn is an expert in. The threads are all wrapped up by the end of this book, unlike in the prior one. I’m not sure where Zahn will go with a third book, if there is one (and I dearly hope there will be because MORE THRAWN).

Final verdict: if you’re a Star Wars fan, a Thrawn fan, a Vader fan, or all of the above, you will enjoy this. I wasn’t very happy with some of the references I didn’t understand, but those are few and far between and do not take away from the story.

View all my reviews

‘Thrawn: Alliances’ Was As Good As I Expected

Cue the music, everyone. Perhaps the Imperial March from Star Wars is appropriate, because the book I’ve been waiting for since last October is here.

At long last, Thrawn: Alliances was released into the world this past Tuesday (four days ago). The library copies arrived and were processed into the system, so on Thursday morning, I went to the library to collect the copy I’d reserved.

Here it is sitting on my coffee table!

I read it and finished it already! I’ll probably write a spoilerific review on Goodreads at some point, but my overall impression is that it’s decent. Timothy Zahn took the story in a direction I didn’t expect, but that’s not a bad thing.

I expected the book to be a direct sequel to Zahn’s prior book Thrawn, but that wasn’t really the case. In fact, I think you could easily read Thrawn: Alliances without having read Thrawn, which I find very odd. I was hoping some of the unresolved problems from Thrawn would be explained, but that didn’t happen. Perhaps there will be a third book to tie it all together. (We can hope!)

Edited to add: According to this interview, Zahn has pitched two sequels! Thrawn: Alliances was one of them, so there could be a third book in the future!

Another thing that was unexpected about Thrawn: Alliances is it’s not a very good entry point into the Star Wars universe. I read Thrawn without ever having read a Star Wars book. I hadn’t seen most of the movies, either, but it still made perfect sense. I didn’t get that same feeling with Thrawn: Alliances. If you try to jump into the Star Wars universe with this one, you’ll probably be confused. I was confused about some references, to be honest.

So was it worth the wait? I’d say yes. Seeing Thrawn and Darth Vader sniping at each other (okay, let’s be honest, most of the sniping is coming from Darth Vader’s side) was pretty funny. And this dedication is priceless. I even took a picture of it because it made me laugh.

I’m so glad Timothy Zahn has a sense of humor!.

As scary as this sounds, I’ve worked with people more horrible than Darth Vader was in this book. Just pointing that out, in case anyone was wondering. There was a reason I left my previous toxic job…

Writing Woes

You guys, writing is not for the faint of heart. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

I’ve spent the past week or so struggling with a book that just wasn’t working. It was an old idea I was trying to outline and brainstorm. It involved vampires and Moscow and was supposed to be awesome, in theory.

Unfortunately, in practice, it was not so great. Maybe it’s a bad idea, or just not the right idea for me right now, but it was totally not working. I saved my notes, but put them aside. Now I’m back to working on a second round of edits on the novel I was working on before. I think I’ll have to redo a lot of the first act of that book. Better to discover that now than later, I suppose. I am also the world’s slowest editor, so this is going to be very slow going. Maybe I’ll write some short stories in order to take short breaks during my editing…

Happy July!

Can you believe it’s July already? The year is half over now!

Anyway, I have some excellent news. Remember that graduate program I was talking about? Well, I got in! And I got a fellowship! Now I need to pay a deposit to reserve my place because I’ve decided I’m going to go for it. Next year at this time, I’ll probably be questioning my judgment since I’ll have to balance working and studying. 🙂 But I have my fingers crossed that some of the accounting concepts will be a bit easier this time around since I’ve done a lot of accounting at work in the last four years.

What else is new? Well, I’m scaling back on social media use this month so that I can get some work done on a fun novel I’ve outlined. It’s urban fantasy and it takes place in Moscow. And there are vampires. I’ve been looking forward to doing this idea for a while now, so it should hopefully be fun to write.

ONE MONTH!

One month, dear readers! Actually, as of today, June 25, less than a month remains until this book is released!

I found it on Star Wars Wiki here.

And in case you haven’t noticed, I can’t wait! Not even joking, I may have to call in sick on Tuesday, July 24, so I can stay home and read. 😉

(Okay, I am kidding… I’m on a massive project that will still be going on at the end of July, so I’ll probably dutifully end up going to work anyway. But the temptation to just not go in will be strong.)