Underdeveloped and disorganized but punctuated with bursts of wisdom.\

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A Troubled Mind Can't Dance

A slim collection of musings on morality and religion.

Drawing from his personal diary, Ciko (Midnight on Fireworks Island, 2015) presents a smorgasbord of ideas intended to guide readers’ spiritual development. While Ciko doesn’t specify any religious affiliation, the New Age–y writing seems to align with Judeo-Christian theology, with much of the book following its familiar teachings. Through short sections that vary in length from one sentence to a few short paragraphs, the author explores themes of compassion, courage, and moral responsibility. Some entries have an inspirational bent: “God’s light inside each person is infinite. Our job is simply to reveal it.” Others lean more toward the punitive: “Selfish people end up in prison so they can be by themselves.” Throughout, the author frequently returns to the central principle of personal control of one’s own life and destiny. “Once we accept responsibility for our misfortune,” Ciko writes, “at the same time we gain the ability to correct it.” Such guidance may ring true for readers of many spiritual persuasions, but those looking for more detailed advice will be disappointed. Even in the longer sections, Ciko doesn’t always say how he arrived at his proclamations, and he offers little explanation on how exactly readers might apply them in day-to-day life. It’s also difficult to find a logical progression within the book. Passages leap back and forth between subjects, often repeating ideas expressed previously without developing them further. While the raw material of Ciko’s diary may have genuine literary potential, the sections included here would have benefitted from additional context and a firmer editorial hand. The one-line sections in particular would likely be more at home among the illustrations or other visual elements that often accompany inspirational texts. Presented here without a clear organizational structure or much graphic design, their impact is limited. Still, Ciko’s words remain insightful at times, and this book may be a convenient reference for readers seeking new spiritual perspectives or reminders of what they already believe.

Underdeveloped and disorganized but punctuated with bursts of wisdom.\

Pub Date: July 31, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4196-4943-1

Page Count: 80

Publisher: BookSurge

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2015

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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The book would have benefited from a tighter structure, but it’s inspiring and relatable for readers with depression.

THE HILARIOUS WORLD OF DEPRESSION

The creator and host of the titular podcast recounts his lifelong struggles with depression.

With the increasing success of his podcast, Moe, a longtime radio personality and author whose books include The Deleted E-Mails of Hillary Clinton: A Parody (2015), was encouraged to open up further about his own battles with depression and delve deeper into characteristics of the disease itself. Moe writes about how he has struggled with depression throughout his life, and he recounts similar experiences from the various people he has interviewed in the past, many of whom are high-profile entertainers and writers—e.g. Dick Cavett and Andy Richter, novelist John Green. The narrative unfolds in a fairly linear fashion, and the author relates his family’s long history with depression and substance abuse. His father was an alcoholic, and one of his brothers was a drug addict. Moe tracks how he came to recognize his own signs of depression while in middle school, as he experienced the travails of OCD and social anxiety. These early chapters alternate with brief thematic “According to THWoD” sections that expand on his experiences, providing relevant anecdotal stories from some of his podcast guests. In this early section of the book, the author sometimes rambles. Though his experiences as an adolescent are accessible, he provides too many long examples, overstating his message, and some of the humor feels forced. What may sound naturally breezy in his podcast interviews doesn’t always strike the same note on the written page. The narrative gains considerable momentum when Moe shifts into his adult years and the challenges of balancing family and career while also confronting the devastating loss of his brother from suicide. As he grieved, he writes, his depression caused him to experience “a salad of regret, anger, confusion, and horror.” Here, the author focuses more attention on the origins and evolution of his series, stories that prove compelling as well.

The book would have benefited from a tighter structure, but it’s inspiring and relatable for readers with depression.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-20928-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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