Overly sentimental, but Braxton fans will applaud the star’s candor and perseverance.

UNBREAK MY HEART

A MEMOIR

Six-time Grammy Award winner Braxton speaks out regarding her turbulent personal and professional lives.

From the time Braxton was a little girl growing up in rural Maryland, she wanted to be a star. By the mid-1990s, she had achieved that goal, and her 1996 single, “Un-break My Heart,” from her second album, “Secrets,” became a chart-topping, certified-platinum success. Yet guilt, financial and personal troubles, and ongoing family health issues have pockmarked the author’s projected glamorous life. In 1988, 21-year-old Braxton and her four sisters landed their first recording contract. “No one could’ve predicated the painful episode that would follow: Five bright-eyed Braxton sisters would soon be narrowed down to one.” For many years, Braxton suffered severe guilt about accepting a record deal that excluded her sisters, and the decision infuriated her mother, which added to Braxton’s sense of dismay. The author’s success was also marred by two bankruptcies, a divorce and her son’s autism diagnosis. The author faced her own health crisis during her Las Vegas show when she received a diagnosis of lupus. “My diagnosis that day marked the beginning of my road to recovery,” she writes, “but it was also the end of my Vegas run.” The author eventually disclosed her condition on the family reality TV show Braxton Family Values, which began in 2011 and features her mother and sisters. Braxton seems intent on establishing a secure pathway through life’s inherent messiness. “I’m starting to realize that we’re not supposed to keep everything lined up and in perfect order—even with our best efforts, we can’t accomplish that anyway,” she writes. “Instead, we’re meant to find lessons in both the chaos and the cleanup.”

Overly sentimental, but Braxton fans will applaud the star’s candor and perseverance.

Pub Date: May 20, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-229328-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: It Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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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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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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