A compassionate and energizing guide full of confidence-building ideas.



In this self-help guide for women, an executive coach shares her strategies for building and maintaining confidence.

If anyone’s confidence should have been shattered, it was that of McGuinness (Terminal Ambition, 2012): She was terminated from her position as general counsel of a large company, had a near-fatal accident, got divorced, and was forced to sell her ranch at a loss. To regain her confidence, she writes, “I had to build new neural networks.…I needed to become mindful of my self-criticism and perfectionism and have compassion for myself.” In a book that is both inspirational and practical, McGuinness provides a playbook of the techniques she employed to rebuild her lost confidence. The book’s first section squarely addresses the intriguing reasons why she believes many women are less confident than men, including that “women have more estrogen which discourages risk taking” and familial and societal influences that encourage women to be less aggressive if not demure. The author posits, however, that women can overcome such barriers by focusing on mindfulness and well-being. Toward that end, she offers confidence-building strategies and tactics that involve a formula she describes as: “Intention + Repeated Attention = Confidence.” The book rather sweepingly covers many aspects of confidence, including such topics as authenticity, self-compassion, resilience, and assertiveness. It also defines barriers to greater self-confidence, including perfectionism, self-criticism, and “negative rumination.” In a work-related chapter, the book pointedly discusses such topics as interviewing, performance reviews, and public speaking. The final section features helpful advice about facing setbacks and recommends 52 confidence-boosting exercises or “workouts” to perform every week. Each chapter is brimming with motivational exhortations delivered in punchy paragraphs with engaging subheads; the strategies for overcoming perfectionism include “Adjust Your Standards,” “Limit Meticulousness,” “Re-characterize Mistakes,” and “Minimize Comparisons.” McGuinness is unfailingly positive, dishing out encouragement every chance she gets, as she draws on her experience and relates it to other women’s challenges. The author backs up her insightful strategies with notes that reference a multitude of articles and books, which makes for an even stronger presentation.

A compassionate and energizing guide full of confidence-building ideas.

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-9849901-2-2

Page Count: 266

Publisher: Two XX Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.


A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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An extraordinary true tale of torment, retribution, and loyalty that's irresistibly readable in spite of its intrusively melodramatic prose. Starting out with calculated, movie-ready anecdotes about his boyhood gang, Carcaterra's memoir takes a hairpin turn into horror and then changes tack once more to relate grippingly what must be one of the most outrageous confidence schemes ever perpetrated. Growing up in New York's Hell's Kitchen in the 1960s, former New York Daily News reporter Carcaterra (A Safe Place, 1993) had three close friends with whom he played stickball, bedeviled nuns, and ran errands for the neighborhood Mob boss. All this is recalled through a dripping mist of nostalgia; the streetcorner banter is as stilted and coy as a late Bowery Boys film. But a third of the way in, the story suddenly takes off: In 1967 the four friends seriously injured a man when they more or less unintentionally rolled a hot-dog cart down the steps of a subway entrance. The boys, aged 11 to 14, were packed off to an upstate New York reformatory so brutal it makes Sing Sing sound like Sunnybrook Farm. The guards continually raped and beat them, at one point tossing all of them into solitary confinement, where rats gnawed at their wounds and the menu consisted of oatmeal soaked in urine. Two of Carcaterra's friends were dehumanized by their year upstate, eventually becoming prominent gangsters. In 1980, they happened upon the former guard who had been their principal torturer and shot him dead. The book's stunning denouement concerns the successful plot devised by the author and his third friend, now a Manhattan assistant DA, to free the two killers and to exact revenge against the remaining ex-guards who had scarred their lives so irrevocably. Carcaterra has run a moral and emotional gauntlet, and the resulting book, despite its flaws, is disturbing and hard to forget. (Film rights to Propaganda; author tour)

Pub Date: July 10, 1995

ISBN: 0-345-39606-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1995

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