An engaging, spiritual tale that will touch the hearts of animal lovers.

AWAY TO ME, MY LOVE

A SHEEPDOG’S TALE OF TWO LIVES

Oklahoma horse rancher McDonald recalls her almost mystical connection to a shy border collie pup in her debut memoir.

In early childhood, McDonald coped with the frightening effects of an overbearing father and a mother suffering from mental illness. She recounts the chilling tale of how, when she was 5 years old, her father ordered a doctor not to give her a local anesthetic for stitches she needed in her forehead. When she was 7, she and her two younger brothers were taken in by her aunt. Her mother had been hospitalized after an attempted suicide and would return nine months later, but her father disappeared from her life. The psychological wounds of her childhood later haunted the author, although she married happily and become a respected trainer. Many years after first seeing a sheep herding contest, McDonald felt an overwhelming urge to add a border collie, and as it turned out, a few sheep, to her ranch. She had no idea how much she would have to learn about the rules of competitive sheep herding. Or how profound a relationship she would establish with the beautiful but very timid 9-month-old pup, Luke, who had “human-like eyes”: “I felt a sudden pulse of love so palpable it took my breath away.” Luke had been raised without training in a kennel and after what seems to have been the canine equivalent of a traumatic childhood. McDonald’s tale is infused with mystical symbolism from the beginning, when it describes how she made eye contact with a coyote. In fact, coyotes appear frequently at emotional turning points. Some readers may be put off by McDonald’s strong convictions about reincarnation, but her road to self-confidence depends heavily upon her explicit visions of an experience in a past life. Doubters notwithstanding, there is no denying that she and Luke formed an extraordinary, perhaps cosmic, connection that allowed the dog to discover his innate herding ability, and the author to appreciate her own worthiness, despite a human bully on the competitive circuit. Her informative sport-herding tidbits are a bonus.

An engaging, spiritual tale that will touch the hearts of animal lovers.

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-982231-04-0

Page Count: 236

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: April 8, 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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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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