A collection of stories and philosophical musings that struggles to find a decent balance between narrative and...




A man shares the stories of his life to inspire and help others.

Following up Growing Tall Amidst Obstacles (2014), his debut, Chief Ekenna continues to reflect on moments from his childhood in Nigeria and subsequent career as an attorney in Los Angeles. As with his first book, the influence of Chinua Achebe can be felt in nearly every passage, and Ekenna recognizes him as the source of this book’s title and guiding principle. “If an unseasoned, and weak, and unaccomplished, and unsung, person like me steps up to Achebe’s challenge, and tell[s] my story, that will do a bit ‘more’ in encouraging others,” Ekenna writes. He weaves stories from his life with emails, quotes from other authors and even the lyrics to TV commercial jingles—finding them all equally inspirational and worthy of philosophical discussion. He begins with the death of a dear friend; in facing the senselessness of the situation, he finds all the more reason for everyone to share their stories, great and small, while they have the chance. “If you find the courage to change the way you look at things, the things you look at will find the courage to change,” he writes. Despite his intriguing immigrant background, Ekenna mostly chooses to look at small, specific moments from his life—a banal conversation with a woman on a plane, a car accident on the local news, the memory of a felled tree blocking a road, etc. Each moment is dissected at length and used to derive the life-affirming adages he shares with the world: e.g., “Change is possible. Anything is possible.” Some of these observational stories are engaging—particularly a humorous linguistic mix-up central to his first legal case in Nigeria—but many of them lose their potential impacts by being weighed down by tangents and diversions to other writings. Ekenna intends to show that there is value in every story—a striking point, but not all these stories live up to his ideals.

A collection of stories and philosophical musings that struggles to find a decent balance between narrative and introspection.

Pub Date: July 17, 2014

ISBN: 978-1490711072

Page Count: 274

Publisher: Trafford

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2014

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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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Rhimes said “yes” to sharing her insights. Following her may not land you on the cover of a magazine, but you’ll be glad you...



The queen of Thursday night TV delivers a sincere and inspiring account of saying yes to life.

Rhimes, the brain behind hits like Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, is an introvert. She describes herself as a young girl, playing alone in the pantry, making up soap-opera script stories to act out with the canned goods. Speaking in public terrified her; going to events exhausted her. She was always busy, and she didn’t have enough time for her daughters. One Thanksgiving changed it all: when her sister observed that she never said “yes” to anything, Rhimes took it as a challenge. She started, among other things, accepting invitations, facing unpleasant conversations, and playing with her children whenever they asked. The result was a year of challenges and self-discovery that led to a fundamental shift in how she lives her life. Rhimes tells us all about it in the speedy, smart style of her much-loved TV shows. She’s warm, eminently relatable, and funny. We get an idea of what it’s like to be a successful TV writer and producer, to be the ruler of Shondaland, but the focus is squarely on the lessons one can learn from saying yes rather than shying away. Saying no was easy, Rhimes writes. It was comfortable, “a way to disappear.” But after her year, no matter how tempting it is, “I can no longer allow myself to say no. No is no longer in my vocabulary.” The book is a fast read—readers could finish it in the time it takes to watch a full lineup of her Thursday night programing—but it’s not insubstantial. Like a cashmere shawl you pack just in case, Year of Yes is well worth the purse space, and it would make an equally great gift.

Rhimes said “yes” to sharing her insights. Following her may not land you on the cover of a magazine, but you’ll be glad you did. 

Pub Date: Nov. 11, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4767-7709-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 1, 2015

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