A pleasant diary of Pacific Northwest wildlife observations that provides familiar Christian self-help tips as well.

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HAPPY TALES

HOW TO MANAGE STRESS AND FIND PEACE AND JOY

A debut memoir testifies to the spiritual benefits of living in communion with nature.

When de Mere and her husband moved to Seattle in 2004, she gave up a decadelong career as a corporate trainer in Los Angeles. Burned out after such stressful work, she shifted gears to focus on caring for her elderly parents, supporting animal charities, and spending time appreciating the Pacific Northwest wildlife right on the couple’s doorstep. Set up as a diary spanning late 2004 through early 2015, this peaceful, observant book is full of magical encounters with the natural world. While de Mere recalls enjoying many spectacular sunsets and views of Mount Rainier, she also reports frequent sightings of sea lions, orcas, dolphins, and water birds. Often she looked up in the middle of a mundane household task to see something extraordinary. For the author, such moments were opportunities to celebrate God’s creation: “If we take time to just sit, just stare, just be, just listen, just be completely still, our Creator’s divine nature overtakes us.” Bird-watchers, especially, should find plenty of appealing scenes of avian behavior. Evening grosbeaks, pileated woodpeckers, and barred owls were occasional visitors, and a pair of bald eagles the author named Abe and Abby set up a nest. Animals also had pride of place in de Mere’s home: She started off with 13 adopted cats plus a rescued American Staffordshire terrier, and later on saved two malamutes. Several holiday newsletters are inserted to convey personal events, and the author’s accomplished black-and-white photographs of animals and the local area (and some uneven poems) are included. The content gets rather repetitive, with years of the same sorts of nature sightings, and the self-help aspect of the subtitle is a bit misleading. A more accurate subtitle would be A Diary of Our Wildlife in the Pacific Northwest. Spiritual connection with nature is a definite theme, but the specifically Christian spin feels like an unnecessary overlay, and the “Summary and Lessons Learned” appendix offers generic self-help advice that could be found elsewhere.

A pleasant diary of Pacific Northwest wildlife observations that provides familiar Christian self-help tips as well.

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5127-6825-1

Page Count: 218

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2018

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

STILLNESS IS THE KEY

An exploration of the importance of clarity through calmness in an increasingly fast-paced world.

Austin-based speaker and strategist Holiday (Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue, 2018, etc.) believes in downshifting one’s life and activities in order to fully grasp the wonder of stillness. He bolsters this theory with a wide array of perspectives—some based on ancient wisdom (one of the author’s specialties), others more modern—all with the intent to direct readers toward the essential importance of stillness and its “attainable path to enlightenment and excellence, greatness and happiness, performance as well as presence.” Readers will be encouraged by Holiday’s insistence that his methods are within anyone’s grasp. He acknowledges that this rare and coveted calm is already inside each of us, but it’s been worn down by the hustle of busy lives and distractions. Recognizing that this goal requires immense personal discipline, the author draws on the representational histories of John F. Kennedy, Buddha, Tiger Woods, Fred Rogers, Leonardo da Vinci, and many other creative thinkers and scholarly, scientific texts. These examples demonstrate how others have evolved past the noise of modern life and into the solitude of productive thought and cleansing tranquility. Holiday splits his accessible, empowering, and sporadically meandering narrative into a three-part “timeless trinity of mind, body, soul—the head, the heart, the human body.” He juxtaposes Stoic philosopher Seneca’s internal reflection and wisdom against Donald Trump’s egocentric existence, with much of his time spent “in his bathrobe, ranting about the news.” Holiday stresses that while contemporary life is filled with a dizzying variety of “competing priorities and beliefs,” the frenzy can be quelled and serenity maintained through a deliberative calming of the mind and body. The author shows how “stillness is what aims the arrow,” fostering focus, internal harmony, and the kind of holistic self-examination necessary for optimal contentment and mind-body centeredness. Throughout the narrative, he promotes that concept mindfully and convincingly.

A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-53858-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Portfolio

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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