The Better Life by Claire Diaz-Ortiz: Book Review

Have you ever wondered how you can improve on your life right now and be your best?

One of the earliest employees of  Twitter, Claire Diaz-Ortiz, has a few ideas on how you can make your life better, and she’s turned it into a book, The Better Life. This slim paperback is a quick read with each chapter being only about three pages long. Diaz-Ortiz holds an MBA and has studied at Oxford and Stanford. In The Better Life, she talks often about her experiences working in an orphanage in a foreign country.


The suggestions listed on the back: “Say yes. Say no. Quit something…. Become a morning person…” some of these ideas are within the realm of time or energy management, but that’s not what this book is about. This is all about Diaz-Ortiz’s life, centered around her experiences as a Twitter employee, a world traveler, or as a new mother.

The chapter titles look like themes for time management or life management, themes like “Set Your Intentions”, “Learn to Rest”, “Do Something Big”, “Disconnect, and “Read More”. These titles have great potential, and they make sense for the stories the author is telling. However, the connection to the reader is either missing or very short… the emphasis is more on what the author is saying rather than on how the reader can benefit. A scan of The Better Life‘s front and back cover may lead you to believe that this a time management or life-efficiency book; it’s not. The Better Life is probably best intended for those who enjoy interesting stories, and those who appreciate a writing style that is clear, simple and organized well.

FTC Disclosure: I received a free copy of The Better Life from the Moody Publishers Blogger Review Program in exchange for my honest review.



Master Your Money by Ron Blue Book Review


Do you feel like your money is in charge of you, instead of you being in charge of your money? Do you ever wish that you knew how you could master your money?

Entrepreneur and accountant Ron Blue has a few ideas in his new book Master Your Money. This is a re-vamped version of a previous edition published in the late 80s. This time, he’s made some updates, adding personal reflections to the end of each chapter. He’s also added a special writing partner, his son Michael Blue, to add commentary at the end of each chapter.

Master Your Money offers a decidedly  Christian perspective with a heavy emphasis on the spiritual aspect of money management. Probably the biggest takeaway from this book is the idea of stewardship: that God “owns it all” and that people don’t truly own their money or possessions, but are simply caretakers of the things they have. The second takeaway is the huge emphasis placed on giving. Blue talks about giving and goes beyond emphasizing tithing as important, but states that is is the first purpose money should be used for in a budget  (even before taxes, and states that tithing should be done from gross instead of net income). He discusses estate planning for charity and making faith pledges beyond what you think you can give (to help your city, the world, orphans, the poor).

There are some changes that could have been made to this book to make it stronger. There are two big issues that people in this country are suffering from financially that aren’t addressed at all in this book, which could have been updated: student loan debt and health care costs. Blue talks about types of debt, but leaves student loan debt completely out of the picture, which is concerning given that student loan debt cannot be discharged in a bankruptcy. This is a critical issue given that so many students have defaulted on their student loans and are overextended. Another issue that needs further addressing is rising health care costs. The sample budget given for health care costs seems low given that families are experiencing increased costs in the areas of premiums, drug costs, etc. This is not a political issue but a financial one, and to not address it doesn’t give an accurate picture of what everyday families are up against in their personal finances.

Another strange part about this book is in the sample budget, there’s a line item for “margin” – a 2 percent category for a family to help them increase their cash flow. Yet, there is no line item on the sample budget for saving money for the future. When savings is not automated or made intentional in some way, it doesn’t happen. I don’t know if this “margin” category is the author’s way of saying “savings”, but it seems odd that a financial expert wouldn’t urge people to be intentional about creating an emergency fund of some kind, when so many people probably do not have one. Furthermore, I’m not sure why the author wouldn’t encourage people to save more than two percent of their budget when he is urging them to give 10 percent to others. The Biblical mandate is to provide for your own household or you are worse than an unbeliever… how can a wise person prepare for the hard times that will inevitably come in the future without making plans?

FTC Disclosure: I received a free copy of Master Your Money from the publisher, Moody Publishers, in exchange for my honest review.




Book Review: Faith (a novel by Lyn Cote)

Cover: Faith

Faith Cathwell, a Quaker nurse working on the Civil War battlefield, is the title character and narrator of Lyn Cote’s latest novel, Faith. Faith is a historical read, so it takes the reader back to a much different time. As a nurse, Faith is disparaged for being female, and as a Quaker, her religion goes against the practice of slavery.

There’s an element of romance to this novel as well, and it doesn’t take long to see it. Shortly after Colonel Devlin Knight shows up, it doesn’t take long to recognize the chemistry between Faith and Devlin. In a very predictable fashion, she fights her feelings, he fights his, and they are both at an impasse when you just want to say “Get together already!”

Faith is 364 pages and it could have been pruned down… some of the writing didn’t add much in terms of scenery, detail, or plot. However, Faith may be an enjoyable read for female readers who want a romantic novel that doesn’t bear all, and especially for those who enjoy reading books written set in a different era.

FTC Disclosure: Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a free copy of this book.