A humble blend of prose and poetry with a Christian message.

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GROW YOUR OWN PENICILLIN

Shepherd (The Secret Shack, 2016) offers prose and poetry for the faithful in this Christian collection.

In this work, compiled from writing produced over the course of many years, Shepherd delivers thoughts and advice on everything from rejecting racism to overcoming procrastination. The title refers to the author’s habit of holding on to leftover food in her refrigerator, causing friends to joke about the mold or “penicillin” she must be trying to grow. Through her experiences and contemplations, the author has grown medicine of a different kind: short essays, anecdotes, and poems to serve as prescriptions for times of doubt, stress, loneliness, and discouragement. In “Weeding as Prayer Song” (recommended as a cure “for Elimination”), she muses on the way the simple gardening task connects her to nature and God. In “P.A.P.” (“for Aging”), she uses verse to work through her fears of illness: “What is this new disease called P.A.P. / Which comes uninvited to you and to me?” In “September 11, 2002” (“for Strength”), she shares the grief and confusion she still feels a year after the terrorist attacks. Most pieces end with a brief prayer to God or a note about how the work came to be written. Shepherd’s prose ranges from clipped and weighty to buoyant and friendly, though it always demonstrates a value for precision: “Sometimes a hairdresser/stylist is the most special person you can know. Petite and attractive, almost sixty (which you’d never believe), Diane always welcomes me with a smile.” Her poetic style varies from formal to free verse, the latter of which succeeds more often than the former. While Shepherd’s language is sometimes too abstract to make a full impact, she generally communicates her devotion by effectively writing about people and objects in her own life. Though God is present throughout the text, the author rarely becomes dogmatic or overtly theological, presenting instead a spirituality that manifests in those small personal moments everyone should learn to better recognize and cherish. Readers should find shots of inspiration in this earnest work.

A humble blend of prose and poetry with a Christian message.

Pub Date: Dec. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4497-6969-7

Page Count: 174

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

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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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Gucci demonstrates all the bravado and ferocious self-confidence that he counsels—and the photos are a nice bonus.

THE GUCCI MANE GUIDE TO GREATNESS

A hip-hop star who went on his first international tour wearing an ankle monitor explains how to succeed.

“The words you are about to read can help you,” writes Gucci. “That’s because there is truth in them. These are words of wisdom, like the Bible and its proverbs.” Unquestionably, Gucci likes to aim high, as many of his proverbs attest: “Stop Underestimating Yourself”; “Whatever You’re Thinking, Think Bigger”; “Nobody Cares. Work Harder”; “When They Sleep, I’m Grinding”; “Do More, Get More.” And never forget, “Women Are Brilliant.” Gucci not only shares his recipes for success. As in a cookbook that shows pictures of the end result, the author includes dozens of dazzling photos of himself and his beautiful wife, among them a series on his surprise wedding proposal at an Atlanta Hawks game. After the success of his bestselling debut, The Autobiography of Gucci Mane, Gucci has realized there is money to be made in the book business. In addition to the Bible, he has his eye on Malcolm Gladwell and his reported $5 million advances. While he is “cool with Malcolm Gladwell being more celebrated than me as an author…the difference between Malcolm Gladwell and me is that I’m going to make more money because I’m going to make so many books for my following….You can enjoy this book or not, but I’m going to make my fifty-second book, my hundred and eighth book.” Many readers will hope that one of them will be a diet book, as the 100-plus pounds Gucci has lost and kept off are a frequent topic—alas, he doesn’t reveal his weight loss secrets here. Until the next book, try to live the Gucci Mane way. “Avoid lazy and miserable people,” and “Find something to be excited about every day.”

Gucci demonstrates all the bravado and ferocious self-confidence that he counsels—and the photos are a nice bonus.

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2020

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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