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Everyday Grace
Everyday Grace
by Marianne Williamson
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.89
245 used & new from $0.01

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Comforting, life-enriching, January 12, 2005
This review is from: Everyday Grace (Paperback)
Another winner by Marianne Williamson. This book is about the themes of having hope (and maintaining it), creating happiness and forgiving the hurts of the past. Of course, these are not new themes, especially from Marianne Williamson, but it's always so soothing and renewing to read her words.

Lightly touching on "A Course in Miracles," Williamson shows how we can reframe our view of the universe and how we fit in it. She's right on about how many of us start our day--getting wrapped up in hectic news and things outside of us. A good day, and a good life, starts from within.

I always appreciate references to spiritual texts of all faiths, but this book also used Cinderella and Snow White as metaphors, which I found elementary and perhaps even forced. Also, the use of techniques being called "wands" (as in magic wands) was strange and not really necessary.

Cinnamon Gardens: A Novel
Cinnamon Gardens: A Novel
by Shyam Selvadurai
Edition: Paperback
79 used & new from $0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exquisite, January 2, 2005
After reading this author's first book, "Funny Boy," I went right to this. Like "Funny Boy," it is rich with culture, history and politics, all wrapped up in a fulfilling, captivating story. This book, set in the 1920s, has two parallel narratives.

The first is of Annalukshmi, a young, independent woman from Ceylon who struggles with her family's (and society's) insistence on an arranged marriage. The other narrative is about her uncle Balendran, a businessman who has obeyed familial restrictions and expectations, at great emotional sacrifice. Both of their worlds get turned upside down--by the actions of others, and how they choose to react to others in light of their own internal changes.

The many other characters are well-drawn, and it's a gripping story you don't want to end. When all the plot lines are tied up, though, it leaves you with a feeling of deep satisfaction and of having seen, and learned from, important lives of an earlier time. Quality writing, superb story-telling and peerless creation of a environment little known to most Westerners.

The Gift of Change: Spiritual Guidance for a Radically New Life
The Gift of Change: Spiritual Guidance for a Radically New Life
by Marianne Williamson
Edition: Hardcover
324 used & new from $0.01

27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Return to Love that we need, November 11, 2004
In these times, when the world seems to be boiling over with volatility, it is nice to have a book about the tremendous good that can come from change. It might not be something we like to hear, but it's true.

This generous, warm book has all the impact and momentum of "A Return to Love." It highlights the ongoing effort we must all make to realize our highest and best self. There are so many turns we take in life that make us feel regret, guilt, sorrow, or pain, but this book has specific ways to learn to push past it. I was especially reminded of what in me is ego-driven and how to convert that so that I can live in my true self.

In this book, Marianne Williamson reminds us of a new way to live: we are not separated from God; there's no honor in being "small"; and any great thing that will happen to us collectively will start with each of us individually.

It's not all feel-good psychology, some of it comes from lessons to be learned. The idea of "atonement" may not be popular with some. But this isn't the atonement of your grandmother's fundamentalist church. It's a surrender that brings empowerment. It helps you take a whole new direction in life on a better path. Like "A Return to Love," I will probably re-read this a few times.

Workhealing: The Healing Process for You and Your Job
Workhealing: The Healing Process for You and Your Job
by Charles Mallory
Edition: Paperback
Price: $8.96
27 used & new from $1.30

5.0 out of 5 stars Great...and different than the tape, November 4, 2004
This book has a different focus than the tape, which I got first. I was concerned at first that the tape is a "book on tape," which it's not. The book has the same theme, the ways we need to heal ourselves of work troubles before we decide to stay in a current job or move on. It's also about finding career direction and one's true nature.

One great aspect of the book is that it not only has affirmative thoughts to help you change your thinking to the more positive (in a very real, useful way--not just the usual). It has readings targeting for very specific situations, like, "To help you balance work and home," "When conflict at work is stressing you," and "When money seems tight." The book is filled with these, and each one is tremendously helpful.

Dancing in the Street: Confessions of a Motown Diva
Dancing in the Street: Confessions of a Motown Diva
by Martha Reeves
Edition: Paperback
41 used & new from $1.13

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but perhaps only for the die-hard fan, November 4, 2004
I came into this book with high hopes, and certainly there is a lot of interesting material here. But a good co-writer would have made a world of difference. Mark Bego is mentioned in one of Mary Wilson's books and has also written about Aretha Franklin. But what did he do on this book? The entire manuscript needed to be tightened. There are places when the story drifts on and on. Also, some terrible errors. For example, on page 176, one paragraph ends with the line, "Somehow I felt lost in the shuffle." The end of next paragraph: "I felt lost in the shuffle"! Did anyone read this before publication?

There are phrases in the book like, "came back for more, time and time again." Yikes.

On the good side, Martha's story is fascinating, and seemingly complete about the earlier years. The parts about her "instant" job at Motown as a secretary were funny. It shows very well the "inside scene" of early Motown and how she eventually was with a group and began recording with Motown.

The most exciting chapter is chapter 3, the Motown Revue, when in Fall 1962, numerous Motown groups went on the road for the first time in a major tour. Diana Ross' total ambition to herself and nobody but herself is shocking--but does agree with everyone else's accounts of this time.

After the excitement of hits, "Dancing in the Street" (7/64) and "Nowhere to Run" (2/65), the story is kind of sad. You probably have to be a fan or deeply love Motown to get through the rest of the story. We know it's going to be a decline from there in fame.

The incidents with drugs (except for an admission of being dependent on uppers and downers at one time) are in a sort of whoops-I-did-it-again fashion, as if the issue was being skirted. One wants to know more about how prevalent drugs were in her circle, and if this was an ongoing thing to try hard drugs, or just a party thing. This could have lifted the last third of the book to a more interesting read.

Dreamgirl: My Life as a Supreme
Dreamgirl: My Life as a Supreme
by Mary Susan Wilson
Edition: Hardcover
36 used & new from $0.01

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating, heart-wrenching, and detailed, November 3, 2004
Okay, I'm late getting this read. It did come out several years ago. But it's a fascinating look at the early years of the Supremes: how the girls met, their lives in the projects, how they were discovered, and their rise to fame. Most startling is the way Diana Ross acted: grabbing the spotlight, working covertly behind the scenes to advance her own career at the expense of others, and turning a blind eye to the terrible treatment of Florence Ballard by Motown Records. While writer Mary Wilson is, for the most part, even-handed, and the anecdotes she tells ring true, one longs for that autobiography Florence Ballard never wrote. It seemed she should have been the lead singer of the Supremes. Listening to their music (not just the popular hits), one can see that she had a voice superior to Diana Ross's.

The most interesting part of the book was the Motown tour in the early 1960s, the fun and innocence of the singers and musicians involved. Many would become very famous later. A sad element is how Motown seemed to really rake in the profits and keep their artists in the dark. Yet Mary Wilson talks glowingly of Berry Gordy.

Nice photos and a juicy slice of early 1960s rock music!

Workhealing: How to Keep Harmony Alive from 9 to 5
Workhealing: How to Keep Harmony Alive from 9 to 5
by Charles Mallory
Edition: Audio Cassette
4 used & new from $26.39

5.0 out of 5 stars A refreshing way to analyze your work life, October 23, 2004
This is a concise, easy-to-use guide about dealing with work problems. I've read the website and wanted to get more information. The author is the main narrator on this set of tapes and has a smooth, calming voice. His writing and speaking style remind me of Marianne Williamson. The Four Elements that make up all of work--time, people, tasks and substance--is a very good idea. It really helps you make sense of problems at work and pinpointing what you can solve and what you can't, rather than just hating your job in general. This tape helps if you're looking for career direction, too (much more so than "Do What You Love, the Money Will Follow," which isn't always true). The anecdotes were fresh and interesting, too.

The World Of Normal Boys
The World Of Normal Boys
by K. M. Soehnlein
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.32
157 used & new from $0.01

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, in-depth and readable, October 20, 2004
This story rings so true that it must be the real growing-up tale of the author, K.M. Soehnlein, or at least parts are true. It's the story of a 14-year-old boy growing up in the suburbs of New Jersey in what seems like a very normal family. Robin just wants to fit in.

Soon he finds a new world when he experiments sexually with one male friend, then a neighbor guy. New feelings emerge just when other things are coming out about his family--his mother's heavy wine drinking, his brother's seemingly favored status. He grows up fast. He finds out his friend is being abused. Then his brother is in a frightening accident that tilts the whole story in yet another direction.

I appreciated the gradual change of Robin from a meek, sissified 14-year-old to a boy with raging hormones and rages as well. As he begins to understand what he is, he gets the courage and drive to take on all that challenges him. The story isn't bleak, but it's not easy. It's got action, but much thoughtfulness. It's certainly not predictable. A captivating, highly-readable book.

Three Dog Nightmare: The Chuck Negron Story
Three Dog Nightmare: The Chuck Negron Story
by Chris Blatchford
Edition: Paperback
38 used & new from $39.23

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible, readable, captivating, October 20, 2004
What a story of the drug era this is! I was only a child in that era but of course knew of the stars like Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix who died of drug overdoses. I actually came across this book while looking for another and decided to give it a whirl.

This held my interest so well I had trouble getting other things done for a few days while I was reading it. It reads like a good novel. Chuck Negron tells the story of his shockingly bad childhood and years in the music business. While many autobiographies are self-serving and highly slanted, I did not get that impression here. Negron is very even-handed with all of the material, careful not to unduly blame others but also revealing the truth when it's right there.

He started in the early 1960s in the music business, but of course, did not have success till the late 1960s. It was interesting to see the many slips and falls of getting to the top. Many rock books skip over that long climb, always making it seem like overnight success. Then the famous years were shocking. Just when I think, "Okay, this is the point where he gives up drugs because he's at his lowest," he reaches yet another low. It truly is remarkable, as others have said here, that he lived through it to tell this story.

He does mention the many battles with other former band members Cory and Danny over the right to use the band's name, etc. It's ironic, but it seems they used him. Almost everyone recognizes Chuck Negron as the lead singer of Three Dog Night and wouldn't even know Cory and Danny if they saw their photos. In fact, many people think Negron sang the lead on all the songs. I did until I read this book!

Sharing rusty needles, staggering around doped-up and filthy, driving his car into light poles--it's all so juicy that if someone wrote this stuff as a fiction book, it would be said that the story "went overboard" or that it's "too much." Negron almost ruined the lives of his ex-wives and children, spent millions upon millions of dollars over the years in heroin, and to see his recovery his both astonishing and heroic.

I recommended this book to a friend who never cared about Three Dog Night but who wanted something captivating to read, and he liked it.
Comment Comments (8) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 30, 2013 7:59 PM PST

The Carpenters: The Untold Story : An Authorized Biography
The Carpenters: The Untold Story : An Authorized Biography
by Ray Coleman
Edition: Hardcover
57 used & new from $0.20

28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Soft singers with a somewhat creepy background, October 20, 2004
This is the single best source of definitive material on Karen and Richard Carpenter's lives, but might be of interest mostly to Carpenters fans or those who love to read rock bios. The book attempts to delve deeply into their lives, what went right and what went very, very wrong.

As most fans know, the Carpenters had overbearing parents who were attempting to make Richard famous when Karen ended up (reluctantly) in the front. While fans enjoyed their sweet hits, "Close to You," "We've Only Just Begun" and many others, their lives descended into Richard's pill-popping and Karen's tragic anorexia.

As one who owns extensive printed materials on the Carpenters, including all their fan club newsletters, it is interesting to see a slight subjective emphasis in this book. Yes, some bios will laud the subjects at hand, while still telling the down side of the story, and this does that to some degree. But oddly, there is too much high stature given to Richard. Though he and Karen were close, it does seem that his control over their career put an extreme amount of pressure on her that helped contribute to her anorexia. Actually, this book has more of an insider picture on her anorexia than anything else ever published. Believe me, it was bad, and you find out just how bad here. I simply wished more information had been developed about when Karen wanted to release her solo album and the family basically talked her out of it. Also, couldn't the author had found more people to talk about the parents' behavior toward Karen and Richard? There's something more there.

Other reviewers have suggested this book is somewhat sanitized. While I don't fully agree, I do think there is a tendency to blame everything/everyone else for the decline in the Carpenters' popularity. They were stuck in a groove. Richard wouldn't change his sound and wouldn't let Karen change hers. All groups must change to stay popular. Plus, no record company is going to fully support a band whose leader is sick with they don't know what (they knew little about anorexia then) and looks like a skeleton.

It has also been said in other reviews that the book had a terrible writing style. I didn't see that. I thought it was perfectly readable. My only comment is that the book has way too much detail. The editors could have cut 75 pages at least and given it a better pace.

That said, it's a pretty decent book. True Carpenters' fans will always take a side or find a fault. But there are no other books on them that are this in-depth, and as time goes on, there probably won't be. Surely Richard won't write his life story, and if so, who cares--it was Karen everyone wanted to know about.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 23, 2013 5:32 AM PDT

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