GIRLS JUST WANNA HAVE FUND$

FOUR STEPS TO FINANCIAL FREEDOM

A well-organized approach to achieving financial stability that’s often enhanced by conversational prose.

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Allen offers a book of advice for women on establishing solid financial habits.

In this debut personal finance book, Allen, a nurse practitioner for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, often draws on her own life for inspiration and object lessons as she guides readers through a four-step plan for achieving financial stability. At its outset, for instance, she focuses on a night when she realized there wasn’t enough money in the family checking account to order a pizza, which motivated her to get her finances in order. The book is specifically aimed at women, particularly those who manage households. Her four steps consist of establishing an emergency fund, creating a budget (“essentially, just telling your money where to go”), paying down debt, and saving for retirement. She explains each in detail in its own chapter, blending suggestions for frugality, planning, and motivation with stories from individuals and couples she’s counseled about their finances; they include a notable pair who were on the verge of divorce before Allen’s budgeting lessons allowed their marriage to recover. Allen acknowledges that changing financial habits is a challenge, but by offering concrete, incremental steps and demonstrating how, for instance, paying off debt is an iterative process, she makes it seem manageable and achievable. The book covers territory that will be familiar to those who have even a passing acquaintance with the personal finance genre. However, Allen’s relaxed tone, which provides a sense of authority and, on occasion, a motivational kick in the pants, makes it an effective teaching tool for novices—and for those who appreciate an author holding them accountable. The book’s advice is also accurate and reasonable throughout. That said, some readers may prefer a more inclusive approach, as the book deals exclusively with straight couples and, at times, resorts to glib gender determinism (“men were made to go out and hunt, while women kind of did everything else”), which detracts from a largely solid message.

A well-organized approach to achieving financial stability that’s often enhanced by conversational prose.

Pub Date: May 11, 2023

ISBN: 9781544535739

Page Count: 172

Publisher: Lioncrest Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2023

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A WEALTH OF PIGEONS

A CARTOON COLLECTION

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

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The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

POVERTY, BY AMERICA

A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.

A thoughtful program for eradicating poverty from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Evicted.

“America’s poverty is not for lack of resources,” writes Desmond. “We lack something else.” That something else is compassion, in part, but it’s also the lack of a social system that insists that everyone pull their weight—and that includes the corporations and wealthy individuals who, the IRS estimates, get away without paying upward of $1 trillion per year. Desmond, who grew up in modest circumstances and suffered poverty in young adulthood, points to the deleterious effects of being poor—among countless others, the precarity of health care and housing (with no meaningful controls on rent), lack of transportation, the constant threat of losing one’s job due to illness, and the need to care for dependent children. It does not help, Desmond adds, that so few working people are represented by unions or that Black Americans, even those who have followed the “three rules” (graduate from high school, get a full-time job, wait until marriage to have children), are far likelier to be poor than their White compatriots. Furthermore, so many full-time jobs are being recast as contracted, fire-at-will gigs, “not a break from the norm as much as an extension of it, a continuation of corporations finding new ways to limit their obligations to workers.” By Desmond’s reckoning, besides amending these conditions, it would not take a miracle to eliminate poverty: about $177 billion, which would help end hunger and homelessness and “make immense headway in driving down the many agonizing correlates of poverty, like violence, sickness, and despair.” These are matters requiring systemic reform, which will in turn require Americans to elect officials who will enact that reform. And all of us, the author urges, must become “poverty abolitionists…refusing to live as unwitting enemies of the poor.” Fortune 500 CEOs won’t like Desmond’s message for rewriting the social contract—which is precisely the point.

A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.

Pub Date: March 21, 2023

ISBN: 9780593239919

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023

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