Most useful for readers schooled in spiritual thought but won’t alienate neophytes.


A spiritual philosophy book that delves into the realms of existence.

The debut work starts with the feel of a memoir but is far broader in scope, looking at everyday existence through the lens of spiritual thought. But although its title may suggest otherwise, it has nothing to do with spirituality in a specific world of minivans and housing tracts, and unlike many other books in the spirituality genre, it’s refreshingly not centered on the author. Indeed, when professional life coach Mallard occasionally speaks of herself, it’s only to make one of her points easier for the reader to grasp. There are references to familiar subjects, such as karma and death, each of which gets of its own chapter; however, the author effectively manages to explain them in concrete terms. Karma, for instance, is described as a “buffer” that functions as “your Michelin Man suit.” These two chapters, which appear midway through the book, contain the most thought-provoking and surprisingly pragmatic passages, as Mallard presents her concepts in a tone that’s never breathless or awestruck. She offers a thoughtful, well-reasoned view of the transition to death, for instance, by dividing it into four types of “realms,” noting that a decedent may have “crossed over” into a realm that’s almost formless or into one that has more form, or unsuccessfully crossed over and entered a realm of confusion and doubt or one that’s still “attached to the incarnation.” Overall, this is a deep-thinking, philosophical book that, for example, expounds on the “non-dualistic reality” of “Oneness” and explains why, in the author’s view, it’s practically impossible to go to hell or ascend into heaven. In order to alleviate any possible confusion regarding concept definitions, she provides a glossary, which adds useful insights. In fact, the glossary is an integral part of the book, lending additional layers of explanation to commonplace ideas, such as “apparent,” “content,” “crutch,” and “energy.” Mallard also quotes sage sayings from various historical sources (including the Bible and the work of the 13th-century Persian poet Rumi) but doesn’t advocate any particular faith.

Most useful for readers schooled in spiritual thought but won’t alienate neophytes.

Pub Date: June 22, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5043-1356-8

Page Count: 284

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2020

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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 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 conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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