Thursday, April 3, 2014

Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi

The blurb:
In the winter of 1953, Boy Novak arrives by chance in a small town in Massachusetts, looking, she believes for beauty--the opposite of the life she's left behind in New York.  She marries a local widower and becomes a stepmother to his winsome daughter, Snow Whitman.  

A wicked stepmother us a creature Bit never imagined she'd become, but elements of the familiar aesthetic obsession begin to play themselves out when the birth of Boy's daughter, Bird, who is dark-skinned expose the Whitmans as light-skinned African-Americans passing for white.  Among them Boy, Snow, and Bird confront the tyranny of the mirror to ask how much power surfaces really hold.

In Boy, Snow, Bird  we read a subversive reversal of sorts of the story of Snow White.  Told from the point of view of Snow's stepmother, we learn of her marginalized status growing up, the humiliation and exclusion that came with her poverty.  Oyeyemi describes with sympathy and humor what Boy went through as she nervously faced the socially superior and wealthy family of her suitor.  It is easy to sympathize with her sense of isolation and social discomfort and somehow Boy becomes very different from the Disney stepmother that we'd grown up with.

In small ways, through stories of Boy's friends and acquaintances, Oyeyemi gently discusses beauty, how quickly it passes, and how we allow or don't allow ourselves to be defined by our beauty.   Also woven into the story are anecdotes and reminders of what it was like to be African American during that time - the physical violence, the subtle prejudices, and sympathy for the struggle to be seen beyond one's color or race.  

Snow in Boy, Snow Bird is very different from the Disney sweet princess.  She's very aware of her beauty, of how her lightness/whiteness makes her desirable and valued in her family and of how she subtly dismisses and hurts the darker members of her family.   As we see Snow from Boy's point of view, it's harder to like this version of the girl.  Her dark half-sister, Bird, is a much more sympathetic character and there is considerable tension from not knowing what sort of mischief Snow might play on her younger sister.  

  • ISBN-10: 1594631395 - Hardcover $27.95
  • Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover; First Edition edition (March 6, 2014), 320 pages.
  • Review copy courtesy of the Amazon Vine Reviewer Program and the publisher.

About the Author:
Helen Oyeyemi is the author of five novels, most recently, White is for Witching, which won a 2010 Somerset Maugham Award, and Mr. Fox, which won a 2012 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award.  In 2013, she was named one of Granta's Best Young British Novelists. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Quickbooks 2014: The Missing Manual, The Official Inuit Guide to QuickBooks by Bonnie Biafore

The blurb:
How can you make your bookkeeping workflow smoother and faster? Simple. With this Missing Manual, you’re in control of QuickBooks 2014 for Windows. You get step-by-step instructions on how and when to use specific features, along with basic accounting advice to guide you through the learning process. That’s why this book is the Official Intuit Guide to QuickBooks 2014.
The important stuff you need to know:
  • Get started. Quickly set up your accounts, customers, jobs, and invoice items.
  • Learn new features. Get up to speed on the Bank Feed Center, Income Tracker, and other improvements.
  • Follow the money. Track everything from billable time and expenses to income and profit.
  • Spend less time on bookkeeping. Use QuickBooks to create and reuse bills, invoices, sales receipts, and timesheets.
  • Keep your company financially fit. Examine budgets and actual spending, income, inventory, assets, and liabilities.
  • Find key info fast. Rely on QuickBooks’ Search and Find features, as well as the Vendor, Customer, Inventory, and Employee Centers.
While this QuickBooks 2014: The Missing Manual is for Windows and not Mac, I still found it helpful. I'm new to book keeping and manage residential real estate, so I purchased QuickBooks to help keep the different accounts in order and to make the annual tax reports manageable.
While QuickBooks doesn't require a background in accounting, the book points out the terms that help one navigate the program.

The book doesn't contain a CD but does have links which allow you to access websites mentioned in the book.

The book carefully goes step by step, explaining how to set up a company account and touches on the questions that I invariably had as I tried to figure out how to record assets, balances, etc.

I'd used the Dummy's Guide to QuickBooks but found QuickBooks 2014: The Missing Manual much more detailed and helpful.

ISBN-10: 1449341756 - Paperback $34.99
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (November 7, 2013), 804 pages.
  • Review copy courtesy of the publisher and the Amazon Vine Reviewers Program.

About the Author:
Bonnie Biafore is a Project Management Professional (PMP) with more than 25 years' experience helping clients, large and small, make project management excellence part of their business strategies. She is the author of 26 books about project management, investing, personal finance, Microsoft Project, QuickBooks, and other software programs.