An intense, provocative, and conservative religious treatise.

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THE HEART OF GOD

A Christian spiritual exhortation, related in a prophetic voice.

Massanga Germaine states at the outset that this debut work is not merely inspired by God, but also dictated by him, “given to me word for word by the Holy Spirit.” As such, its statements seem to be directed both to the author and to the Christian community at large. The work covers a wide array of topics, with most of the material conveying theologically traditional Christian teachings concerning the worship of the triune God, one’s personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and the presence of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of believers. It admonishes Christians to dress modestly, abstain from alcohol, and observe the Sabbath, while also warning them to beware of cultural influences which may turn them astray (“Your phone devices have become a satanic weapon”). Overall, this work, while clearly heartfelt, is somewhat disjointed in structure, and it offers a number of unconventional ideas, such as a declaration that the United States has lost God’s favor, due to its sinfulness, and an assertion that “the Hebrews of the Bible were black people.” It also displays a particularly conservative viewpoint on Christian living that many potential readers won’t share, thoroughly condemning homosexuality (“it is being under a spell (encroachment), it is a hidden spirit that multiplies itself daily, which convinces people to mock God”), as well as any sexual practices outside of marriage; its views on gender are similarly traditionalist: “I established you [women] the mother of the nation—it is you who has to watch over the children, it is you who is responsible for the children, it is you who is love, it is you who is the heart.” As a book claiming to be God’s own word, Massanga Germaine’s work will automatically be open to criticism and controversy within the Christian community. However, similarly conservative readers who are open to the possibility of prophetic messages may find the book intriguing.

An intense, provocative, and conservative religious treatise.

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4624-1230-3

Page Count: 190

Publisher: Inspiring Voices

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2019

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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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An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

OPEN BOOK

The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

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