An intriguing but idiosyncratic account of a wide-ranging spiritual journey.

DYING TO LIVE

THE TWO DEATHS AND THE ONE WORTH DYING

A woman reflects on a spiritual life, including a near-death experience, and offers lessons to readers in this memoir.

Hards was born “highly sensitive”—at a very young age, she discovered she was remarkably attuned to the spiritual world around her and later understood that she was both clairvoyant and clairaudient. As a young child, she had an out-of-body experience. According to the author, she could also communicate with dead people, see the aura colors of others, and detect “little goblins” playfully interacting with her. She recounts that when she was around 30 years old, she developed the ability to detect the past lives of others. While in the hospital undergoing a C-section, she had a near-death experience, one in which she encountered Jesus: “When I…went further, I started talking to Jesus. I saw him and started having a conversation without speaking. I don’t remember having any sensations or feelings of any sort. It was all a peaceful calm, as if I had an awareness of everything.” The author recounts her principal challenges in life, including her childhood in a “dysfunctional” home environment, a broken engagement, and a divorce, and articulates the diverse spiritual lessons she learned along the way. Hards’ remembrance is impressively candid, even intimately confessional in content and tenor, and conveyed in a lucidly informal register. Readers comfortable with the author’s mystical sense of spirituality—those inclined to also see a “synchronicity of coincidental things” as more than brute chance—are the ones most likely to appreciate her memoir. Much of the advice she dispenses is neither original nor searching: “We need peace with ourselves and others.” For the most part, while such counsel is perfectly sensible, it is also platitudinous. Hards’ personal, eccentric reflection is closer to a long essay than a book—it is under 110 pages—and will surely grip the attention of those who know her.

An intriguing but idiosyncratic account of a wide-ranging spiritual journey.

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-982282-52-3

Page Count: 114

Publisher: BalboaPressUK

Review Posted Online: March 24, 2021

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

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GREENLIGHTS

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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A lively and thoughtful memoir that, one hopes, will inspire readers to pursue activism in every realm of society.

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PERSIST

The Massachusetts senator and financial reformer recounts several of her good fights over the years.

Famous for being chided for “persisting” on the Senate floor, Warren is nearly a byword for the application of an unbending, if usually polite, feminism to the corridors of power. Though she has a schoolmarm-ish air—and indeed taught school for much of her life—she gladly owns up to liking a beer or two and enjoying a good brawl, and she’s a scrapper with a long memory. In 2008, when she shopped a proposal to found a federal agency that “could act as a watchdog to make sure that consumers weren’t getting cheated by financial institutions,” she encountered a congressman who “laughed in my face.” She doesn’t reveal his name, but you can bet he crosses the hall when she’s coming the other way. Warren does name other names, especially Donald Trump, who, with Republicans on the Hill, accomplished only one thing, namely “a $2 trillion tax cut that mostly benefited rich people.” Now that the Democrats are in power, the author reckons that the time is ripe to shake off the Trump debacle and build “a nation that works, not just for the rich and powerful but for everyone.” She identifies numerous areas that need immediate attention, from financial reform to bringing more women into the workplace and mandating equal pay for equal work. Warren premises some of these changes on increased taxes on the rich, happily citing a billionaire well known for insider trading, who complained of her, “This is the fucking American dream she is shitting on.” The author reverts to form: “Oh dear. Did I hit a nerve?” Warren’s common-sensical proposals on housing, infrastructure development, and civil rights merit attention, and her book makes for a sometimes-funny, sometimes–sharp-tongued pleasure.

A lively and thoughtful memoir that, one hopes, will inspire readers to pursue activism in every realm of society.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-79924-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Metropolitan/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: today

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