An inspirational account about a man’s journey on a dark path with the bright light of redemption at its end.

NO REGRETS

THE JOURNEY

In this debut book, an ex-gangster recounts the supposed glamour of street life along with horrific lessons learned in prison and disturbing secrets.

Pepe Santos was born in East New York City to a large Puerto Rican family, growing up on the streets of Brooklyn with seven siblings in the 1960s. Living on welfare and community center peanut butter and cheese; dealing with an abusive, unemployed, and alcoholic father; and refusing to tolerate school, he realized that a life hustling on the streets was a distinct possibility. But after being molested by a friend’s older brother, he discovered a darkness forming within him. What followed was the transformation of a glue-sniffing, shoplifting punk into a brutal, drug-addicted gangbanger, leaving in his wake a series of broken relationships with needy women, family members, and even his two sons. A harrowing flashback to his molestation during an attempted rape in his first stint in “Gladiator School”—aka Rikers Island—led him to a long and violent conflict with a well-connected Dominican drug dealer. But after getting out of New York, finding a good role model and a lover to hang onto, and making friends with law enforcement personnel, Santos gained a chance for introspection and redemption. LaFosse’s book reveals its biggest truth right off—that the author is Santos, once a criminal and now a mentor, counselor, and bounty hunter. Few memoirs are as bluntly candid as this one, in which the author recalls shootouts and prison life in a manner not for the fainthearted while admitting to weaponizing sex, using women, and taking drugs. The volume is incredibly dense, with something new and often tragic occurring on almost every page. Time periods are marked by trends such as graffiti art or disco, and characters like the gay pusher Lollipop and the dancing hit man Mambo leap off the page. Touching moments, such as Santos’ heartbreaking goodbye to his dying father and the accidental death of a gang member during a brawl, could easily have been lost in such a glut of information yet the narrative manages to give them their necessary weight. Numerous photographs are included, many in color, further setting each scene.

An inspirational account about a man’s journey on a dark path with the bright light of redemption at its end.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-946300-75-1

Page Count: 220

Publisher: Stillwater River Publications

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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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 Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 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 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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