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June 25th, 2019

JULIA'S MANIFESTO.

I used to be involved with economic education as university outreach, which inter alia involved equipping teachers with materials to develop financial literacy in their students, in order that the students (including collegians) not be fleeced.

The Council for Economic Education provided a lot of that material.  They worked closely with the Federal Reserve and with the traditional banking companies, which provided materials, and sometimes contributed money and speakers.  That was sometimes a sore point with me, as I perceive the traditional banks as discouraging small savers, such as youngsters, and anyone without at least a thousand bucks to park for a long time.  Yes, I understand there are transaction costs, and quantitative easing has made the passbook account a joke, but still, if the kids can't put a few bucks away each month without having them dissipated in maintenance fees, they'll likely keep their coins in a piggybank or a used spaghetti sauce jar.  "Those stashes are temptation to thieves, they represent money sitting idle, and a relationship with a deposit-insured bank is a step away from the check-cashing and payday-loan institutions that too often are the poor person's only contact with the financial system."  The banksters don't like those manifestations of the poverty industry, or perhaps they'd just as soon not take the risk that a kid will cash out that $100 that has built up over a year for Christmas shopping and start building it up again.

What happens, though, if it's more than the banks discouraging the risky customers, what if those check-cashing and payday loan companies are in fact beating out the banks for the business?  That's the thesis of Lisa Servon's The Unbanking of America: How the New Middle Class Survives.  Here we are halfway through the year and I'm rolling out Book Review No. 2.  (I still haven't perished, despite not publishing: perhaps there's something in concentrating on building that railroad or learning how to bid a game that can be made with some overtricks rather than worrying about how many book reports I put up (or about national affairs?)
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(Cross-posted to Cold Spring Shops.)

Book 48 & 49

A Lover’s MercyA Lover’s Mercy by Fiona Zedde

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I got this from netgalley which in no way influenced my review. I didn't know (I really wish this stuff would be better marked) that this is a sequel. Technically it's book five in a series (though I can't tell if it's just an umbrella 'anthology' style based on lesbian superheroes or if it's a shared world).

Either way this is a direct sequel of book two and as such I felt a little lost but not so much so that I couldn't follow along and enjoy it for the most part. Mai Redstone is a superhero that can affect her body hardening it etc, saving humans as Mercy. Her lover, Xochitl, is an enforcer which seems to be a superhuman who works with a group (the enforcers) that seem to deal with malicious superhumans but is also a revenge killer who pretty much hates Mai's family (who are extremely powerful, cold and in her mind abusive not to mention one of Mai's relatives murdered Xochitl's sister) All of that was in the first book I assume and at the end of that they're lovers.

It opens with them in a relationship awaiting for Mai's relative to be charge and convicted. Things however go sideways. In one incidence trying to protect Mai Xochitl steps over a line and the strain is almost too much and things go down hill from there.

The action is good in this (though the world building assumes you've read the other book. Took to mid book for me to learn the Enforcers can teleport (though I assumed it) and I can't figure out how their super powers work and the divide between human and superhuman. That's the problem with sequels, it's hard to read as a stand alone which is why I wished Netgalley marked them better).

It's really Xochitl's book, told from her point of view so it was hard as I didn't quite warm up to her. I couldn't figure out why she's so convinced Mai needs constant protecting (and the cover art of both books isn't helping since Mai has superhero muscle). I also thought they were back together a bit easily after the things said when it was on the rocks.

It was entertaining.



View all my reviews

Mayhem & Mass (A Sister Lou Mystery #1)Mayhem & Mass by Olivia Matthews

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This is another where I met the author at the Ohioana book festival and enjoyed talking with her so I really wanted to like this book. Unfortunately I didn't love it. It was good but there were a lot of things that left me wanting something different.

Sister Lou is just that, a sister who was friends with Maurice, a controversial Christian author who will be speaking at an event her congregation has organized. Loui is very fond of Mo and his family but senses something is wrong and the next day he's gone. She, her nephew Chris who works at the Christian college and Shari a reporter they just met have to solve Mo's murder because they think the police aren't because they spend time interviewing the Sisters instead of looking for the real killer.

Lou has to weed through a plethora of suspects, Mo's cheating wife, her lover, his estranged son, rivals in work, crooked partners and people who hated his take on religion.

So I liked Lou and her nephew but I disliked Shari very much and that's a problem because in so many cozies there is a romantic subplot. Naturally Sister Lou can't have one so it's down to Christ and Shari and I could have done without it entirely because it was distracting and I didn't like Shari. What set me off about Shari is on her first approach with the two detectives is to assume they have no idea how to do anything, treats them like the enemy, is rude and then is surprised when they don't want to help her (granted one of the cops is ugly as a person too). She convinces Lou the police are idiots and aren't about to do anything (which isn't the case).

I'm a big no when it comes to the sleuth and the cops being at odds (because obstruction of justice is a thing). There was a bit too much of that, too much of repeating how much Mo meant, how much Chris didn't want her to do this and how much Shari's boss didnt' want her writing about the crime.

I liked Lou but I'm on the fence about the series.



View all my reviews

Books 33 to 35 - book club reads

33. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
In a sleepy little town in England in 1950, a clever young girl stumbles on an injured man in the family garden, and he whispers his last utterance to her. From there she’s off and running (mostly biking, actually) to find out who he was, what he was doing there, and who killed him. This is the first in the Flavia de Luce series, and I probably won’t continue any further. The story is engaging and holds together well, but Flavia is just too much. July selection for mystery book club #2. Read 18-21 June.
34. The Mystery of Three Quarters by Sophie Hannah
Hercule Poirot is back! This is the third book in the new series, but like the originals it can be read on its own. Four people receive letters reportedly from M. Poirot in which they’re accused of murder, but he didn’t send them. This is enough, however, to set him onto the case, especially when another person turns up dead. This is a brisk-paced page turner with an interesting story that also touches on some noteworthy social issues. A smooth transition to a new author. September selection for mystery book club #1. Read 22-23 June.
35. The Most Dangerous Thing by Laura Lippman
She is one of my favorite authors, but this book was disappointing. The story - five childhood friends are estranged after a traumatic event - deals with some serious issues, but overall it’s murky and flat. Every character is annoying at best, and the structure is confusing and frustrating. There’s her usual spot-on local color and a cameo from her series PI Tess Monaghan, but these elements only helped a little bit. On the other hand, since nobody particularly liked the book, we had a good discussion. June selection for mystery book club #2. Read 8-25 June.

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