A vivid but meandering guide that tackles several serious subjects.


In this debut self-help book, a writer offers personal anecdotes about self-discovery.

“Some refer to me as a teacher, others call me a shaman, Reiki Master, psychic, seer, empath, energy worker, or healer,” writes McVeigh. But she sees herself as “just Katy,” a woman who has overcome horrendous adversity by changing the way she looks at life. When she was 11 years old, she was raped. But by forgiving her rapist (without excusing his horrendous deed), she managed to free herself from years of mental torture. In this short, easy-to-read guide, the author cobbles together several anecdotes from her life that taught her lessons—for example, after uncovering a suppressed memory, she realized why her mother was emotionally distant. Skimming several weighty topics—such as dream analysis, death, reincarnation, hypnosis, astral projection, and past life regression—the manual cites few sources. McVeigh’s proof relies mostly on her own opinions and life experiences, giving the book a journallike tone. For example, her beginning chapter on dream analysis is inspired by a class she took in college. During hypnosis, she discovered she had committed suicide in a previous life, and this revelation helped her in her present existence. Some of her anecdotes feel like scenes from The X-Files. McVeigh claims to have had an out-of-body experience in which she reached inside her sister’s back and pulled out handfuls of disease or “thick black-tarry-guck.” That’s not the only time the author relates extraordinary events. During a seminar, a beautiful woman wiped “Indian tears” from the author’s face. McVeigh found out that she was a young Native American seer in a past life. Readers who are into subjects like psychic healing or cosmic consciousness will discover a kindred spirit here, especially if they enjoy fanciful life stories. But nonbelievers won’t find the work convincing.

A vivid but meandering guide that tackles several serious subjects.

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-982236-32-8

Page Count: 108

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: April 23, 2020

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A lucid (in the sky with diamonds) look at the hows, whys, and occasional demerits of altering one’s mind.


Building on his lysergically drenched book How to Change Your Mind (2018), Pollan looks at three plant-based drugs and the mental effects they can produce.

The disastrous war on drugs began under Nixon to control two classes of perceived enemies: anti-war protestors and Black citizens. That cynical effort, writes the author, drives home the point that “societies condone the mind-changing drugs that help uphold society’s rule and ban the ones that are seen to undermine it.” One such drug is opium, for which Pollan daringly offers a recipe for home gardeners to make a tea laced with the stuff, producing “a radical and by no means unpleasant sense of passivity.” You can’t overthrow a government when so chilled out, and the real crisis is the manufacture of synthetic opioids, which the author roundly condemns. Pollan delivers a compelling backstory: This section dates to 1997, but he had to leave portions out of the original publication to keep the Drug Enforcement Administration from his door. Caffeine is legal, but it has stronger effects than opium, as the author learned when he tried to quit: “I came to see how integral caffeine is to the daily work of knitting ourselves back together after the fraying of consciousness during sleep.” Still, back in the day, the introduction of caffeine to the marketplace tempered the massive amounts of alcohol people were drinking even though a cup of coffee at noon will keep banging on your brain at midnight. As for the cactus species that “is busy transforming sunlight into mescaline right in my front yard”? Anyone can grow it, it seems, but not everyone will enjoy effects that, in one Pollan experiment, “felt like a kind of madness.” To his credit, the author also wrestles with issues of cultural appropriation, since in some places it’s now easier for a suburbanite to grow San Pedro cacti than for a Native American to use it ceremonially.

A lucid (in the sky with diamonds) look at the hows, whys, and occasional demerits of altering one’s mind.

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-29690-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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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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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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