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Reviews of what you should be reading next.

Month: July 2015

The ADHD Advantage

adhd

 

 

Why ADHD could be the key to your success

For decades physicians delivered the diagnosis of ADHD to patients as bad news and warned them about a lifelong struggle of managing symptoms. But The ADHD Advantage explodes this outlook, showing that some of the most highly successful entrepreneurs, leaders, and entertainers have reached the pinnacle of success not in spite of their ADHD but because of it.

Although the ADHD stereotype is someone who can’t sit still, in reality people with ADHD are endlessly curious, often adventurous, willing to take smart risks, and unusually resilient. They are creative, visionary, and entrepreneurial. Sharing the stories of highly successful people with ADHD, Dr. Archer offers a vitally important and inspiring new way to recognize ADHD traits in oneself or in one’s loved ones, and then leverage them to great advantage—without drugs.

As someone who not only has ADHD himself but also has never used medication to treat it, Dr. Archer understands the condition from a unique standpoint. Armed with new science and research, he hopes to generate public interest and even debate with his positive message as he guides the millions of people with ADHD worldwide toward a whole new appreciation of their many strengths and full innate potential.

 

As a reviewer of multiple ADHD books, I was eager to see what this author had to say.
Unfortunately, I was not impressed. The book seems to be padded with lots of stories about those “lucky” enough to have ADHD and had the ability to spend time traveling around the world and failing at multiple jobs before finding the “right” place for them. Not everyone has the money or the support to do this. That is not how the average person with ADHD lives. Moreover, that solution could have been illustrated with a few stories, not over and over again in each chapter. At some point, it goes from inspiring to overkill.
Archer is a big proponent of no drugs for ADHD’ers. I agree that children should be evaluated carefully and not just have pills thrown at them, but the idea of everyone not needing medication is absurd. The author has a series of questions that determine where you are on the ADHD scale, and  claims that anyone that is an 8 or lower (out of 10) does not need medication. I feel that would make for a lot of frustrated people.
He also postulates that ADHD’ers are resilient and can deal with failure well, because their constant failure makes them stronger. I can also tell you that is patently untrue, as I live with an ADHD’er and his failures just make him depressed.
If you are a person with lots of money and a personal assistant to take care of the minutiae of daily living, then you will agree with what Archer has to say.
Otherwise–pass this one up, take your meds, and get on with your life.

Want your own copy? You can pick it up here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jess Under Pressure by E. Graziani

JessREV_June_2015

 

You didn’t know? You seem like a perceptive, aware woman. You’re a doctor of psychology and sociology. You have a book on the bestseller list about women and coping – and you didn’t know?”

Dr. Jessica Britton’s life sparkles with the sheen of success and happiness. Her bestselling book, “Give More, Do More, Be Better!”, modelled after her own life experiences, inspires readers all over the world to achieve a perfectly balanced lifestyle that includes career, family, and happiness.

This happiness is shattered when Jess’s husband is killed in a fatal car accident, leaving Jess with the shocking truth that her perfect life was nothing more than a carefully veiled wall of illusion.

Consumed by grief for more than her dead husband, Jess unexpectedly leaves Toronto after a particularly grueling interview and finds herself in the small town of Gananoque.

Broken, impaired, and in desperate need of healing, Jess is rescued by Susie, who takes her home, and helps her deal with her situation by letting her know that no one has the perfect life, but everyone can work through their issues and come out stronger on the other side with the right kind of support.

Thanks to Jennifer at Morning Rain Publishing for offering me this book for review. You can visit the author’s page here.

Sometimes women spend their time tearing each other down, rather than building each other up. This book is delightful in that it shows strong women, bonding and spending quality time together,  in a real environment. Sure, there are those that delight in the character Jess’ fall from grace, but her new found friends give her the strength to ignore them and discover who she really is.

The first part of the book shows us Jess spending her time in the spotlight, talking about her book and the success it has been. Suddenly, her life spins into a tragic abyss: her husband dies and her children are angry and distant. Jess goes from the top of the world to the bottom, battling depression and self doubt. This could happen to anyone, and the author makes Jess a sympathetic character, someone who is able to help others easily but does not have the answers when it comes to her own problems.

I was quite touched by the love Susie’s friends showed Jess. There was a bit of shock, as Susie introduced the fallen idol to the group, but after a few false starts she was welcomed in and cared for. The scene where all the women shared their personal struggle was quite poignant–I could feel the love!

Graziani has composed a sort of self help book: by reading about the goodness of others and seeing how fictional Jess was able to heal herself, I was cheered up and had more faith in the human race. I know there have been many circumstances where strangers have been kind enough to care for someone struggling through a hard time, but this is such a good feeling way to read about it. The style is a bit different from Graziani’s other book, ALICE OF THE ROCKS, but just as readable. The plot is not too complicated, so the message and the intent shines clearly through.

I hope others are able to feel hope and positivity after they finish JESS UNDER PRESSURE. It starts out sad and bleak, but finishes strong. The message is perfect, without being too heavy handed.

Want your own copy? You can pick it up here.

 

 

 

 

The Doll Collector by Edward J. Jakubik

 

dollcollector

 

Follow Special Crimes Unit Detective Beck McManus and his hunt for the Doll Collector. Six little girls—each about to turn seven years old—go missing in broad daylight without a trace. McManus and his long-time partner, Evan Graves, are tapped to head the investigation despite virulent protests from the police commissioner, who cites McManus’ own daughter’s kidnapping three years prior as evidence of his unsuitability. That case was never solved, and his daughter’s disappearance nearly cost Beck his career—and his sanity.

 

 

Many thanks to the author for gifting me this book! And thanks to my friend Jackie for suggesting it to me!

The characters and plot in this book were completely up my alley, and once I started reading this, I couldn’t put it down. I love a killer with a twisted background, and Jakubik does not disappoint with this sadistic kidnapper.

The character of Beck McManus is authentic, and the police procedural action is spot on. Especially nice for me was the setting of Jersey City, one town over from my hometown. The description of the area is perfect, adding to the gritty atmosphere.

There is some strife going on within the police department, as always. The Commissioner is loath to keep McManus as investigator on the Doll Collector case, and with good reason. The beleaguered cop has some demons that surface now and again, and this case may be the one to push him over the edge.

All the plotlines mesh well and keep the action going; the case, the backbiting, a bit of romance (not too much, which was great), horrifying detail of what the Doll Collector does with his poor victims, and a few shocking plot twists that impressed me and upset me at the same time. I’d love to know where the idea for this madman came from—it’s absolutely brilliant.

The only complaint I have, albeit minor, is that the author chose a lot of unique names for his characters, and I had to adjust to the oddity. Not the worst thing in the world, but it was harder for me to remember who everyone was in the beginning, since they all had unusual names!

Otherwise, I have nothing but good to say about this book. Jakubik should seriously consider making a series around McManus. There is truly enough talent here to support more books, and I can even see this being made into a movie as well.

If you are a fan of Thomas Harris or any other writer of psychological thrillers, please run to grab this book. You will not be disappointed, nor will you be able to get the crazed Doll Collector out of your mind anytime soon.

Yes, you want your own copy. You can pick it uphere.

Mistake Creek by Rachel Amphlett

 

mistake creek

When Nina O’Brien returns to the small town of Mistake Creek after ten years, she’s in a race against time to protect her father’s business from an incoming storm so it can be sold to pay for his urgent medical treatment.
As flood warnings echo over the radio and the storm breaks with enormous force across the tiny Californian community, Nina is joined by others seeking shelter from the onslaught.
Her life is changed forever when a stranger appears at her door, bloodied and incoherent.
With a ruthless killer exposed among the small group, Nina is thrust into a deadly conspiracy involving a military veteran seeking revenge and an FBI agent desperate to prevent a catastrophic terrorism threat.
Alone, with no means to raise the alarm, Nina realises that to save one man, she must learn to trust another.

Thanks to the author for giving me this book in exchange for a review.

MISTAKE CREEK is a thriller with lots of action. In the first part, a violent storm traps lead character Nina and a few others inside her family’s abandoned gas station. When people start dying, she finds out that a family friend is involved in an FBI sting operation. The action picks up even more after that, as Nina and FBI agent Kyle must escape from the gas station and prevent a terrorist from carrying out his plan. There are thrilling motorcycle rides, close escapes, and plenty of death and destruction as the book goes on.

Nina is a strong woman, not interested in being left behind while Kyle tries to save the day. Despite her asthma, she holds her own. Amphlett treats her characters equally; no shrinking violet females in her books! Even as a hint of romance stirs between Nina and Kyle, the action continues and soon the duo are fighting for their lives. There is a bit of MacGuyver in the FBI agent Kyle’s character, as he constructs bombs and figures out what household items make good weapons.

I felt suspense as I kept reading; would they be able to prevent disaster, or would they encounter it themselves? Amphlett is also not afraid to kill her characters–Nina’s family friend sustains serious wounds and you won’t find out until the end of the book if he lives or dies. Adding to the tension is the fact that Kyle is not able to use one of his arms well due to a shoulder injury he got in the first few pages.

Once things start rolling, MISTAKE CREEK is a straightforward read, with characters you can’t help but root for. I especially enjoyed the gleam in Kyle’s eyes every time he got ready to engage in combat…what a unique touch! The scenario is completely believeable, and it was easy to picture the surroundings in my mind, due to the author’s excellent eye for detail. Her description of the torrential storm in the beginning was fantastic. I was surprised to find myself not soaked and windblown, the narrative was that picturesque.

This book is another winner from Rachel Amphlett–do you want your own copy? You can pick it up here.

 

 

 

 

 

The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly by Matt McCarthy

 

real doctor

In medical school, Matt McCarthy dreamed of being a different kind of doctor—the sort of mythical, unflappable physician who could reach unreachable patients. But when a new admission to the critical care unit almost died his first night on call, he found himself scrambling. Visions of mastery quickly gave way to hopes of simply surviving hospital life, where confidence was hard to come by and no amount of med school training could dispel the terror of facing actual patients.

This funny, candid memoir of McCarthy’s intern year at a New York hospital provides a scorchingly frank look at how doctors are made, taking readers into patients’ rooms and doctors’ conferences to witness a physician’s journey from ineptitude to competence. McCarthy’s one stroke of luck paired him with a brilliant second-year adviser he called “Baio” (owing to his resemblance to the Charles in Charge star), who proved to be a remarkable teacher with a wicked sense of humor. McCarthy would learn even more from the people he cared for, including a man named Benny, who was living in the hospital for months at a time awaiting a heart transplant. But no teacher could help McCarthy when an accident put his own health at risk, and showed him all too painfully the thin line between doctor and patient.

The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly
offers a window on to hospital life that dispenses with sanctimony and self-seriousness while emphasizing the black-comic paradox of becoming a doctor: How do you learn to save lives in a job where there is no practice?

 

 

Not all doctors come with the confidence and arrogance familiar to us all. Every one of them started out the same way – new graduates in their intern year, struggling to assimilate their textbook knowledge with real life. Matt McCarthy shares his experience in a self deprecating and sometimes comic way.

Taking place over a year’s time, THE REAL DOCTOR WILL SEE YOU SHORTLY shows the reader how McCarthy matures as a doctor and as a self-aware human. He was so awkward and hesitant in the beginning, I wondered if he was going to make it through the year. At times I wondered what made him so timid. There was a career decision elaborated upon early in the book, and I was disappointed in his choice. I truly felt he made the wrong move, given his character and personality. In the final part of the book, he addresses that choice and why he made it. Those words provided some sort of closure for me and I finally agreed with his decision. In his own words:

But as the year wore on, I developed the ability to think outside the diagnosis,  beyond the science of medicine to the art of medicine. I discovered that there is so much more to being a doctor than ordering tests and dispensing medications. And there is no way to teach that. It simply takes time and repetition. 

…I was meant to do whatever the hell you’d call the extraordinary stuff we did at Columbia. Intern year had fundamentally changed me–it had altered the way I viewed the world and myself–and it was unquestionably the most fun I never wanted to have again. 

Patients and cases are outlined, some with great detail, others just to show what lessons he was learning. One of the complaints I have is that some patients’ stories end abruptly with McCarthy never seeing the person again; others just aren’t followed up on. I understand that real life is like that, and these patients are composites of many; but I grew frustrated with things not being tied up neatly. Two cases that loomed large in the author’s life: Benny Santos and Carl Gladstone are featured in almost every chapter, as they illustrate just how far things have progressed over the year. Others, like “Dre” and asthmatic Darryl, just vanish into the night.

That really is my only issue with THE REAL DOCTOR. McCarthy’s writing is easy to follow, and pulls no punches in showing the lay person how hard doctors work and the struggles, internal and external, they face on a daily basis.  There is a minimum of gory details, and the medical jargon is easy to grasp. Nor is there the overly glib, broadly humorous style I’ve seen in other books. That was a relief, as I think that takes away from the truly serious nature of the subject

This was a good addition to my “true medical stories” bookshelf. Want your own copy? You can pick it up here.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. Check out the author’s page here.

 

 

 

Praise Her, Praise Diana by Anne Rothman-Hicks and Kenneth Hicks

praise diana

 

 

Call it life imitating art—author Maggie Edwards publishes a chapter of a book detailing seduction, murder and castration by a protagonist named Diana, and suddenly a woman code-named Diana begins to mimic her actions in real time. Women who have been abused find Diana to be an inspirational figure, and begin to fight back in her name. Soon violence erupting throughout New York City threatens to spiral out of control. As the police try desperately to identify Diana, Maggie’s high-powered lawyer, Jane Larson, finds herself at the center of an investigation that threatens to upend the entire world around her.

Many thanks to the authors for providing this book in exchange for a review!

This book is intense. Everything about it is almost larger than life and dramatic—-the women with their desire to show the misogynists of the world how it feels to be afraid, Maggie and Jane’s internal struggle to come to terms with who they really are, the slowly dying figurehead of a feminist group who feels abandoned, and the utter violence that takes place again and again.

There are many subplots within this book. The main story is about Diana and the fervor with which she stirs up the city of New York. Also taking place is the story of a woman abused by her police officer boyfriend,  the growing feelings between Maggie and Jane;  Maggie’s past; the “book within a book” novel that Maggie is writing; and a militant feminist named Judith who hates all men (she calls them “Mr Pigs”) and doesn’t hesitate to turn to violence to make her point.

Judith was the hardest character for me to grasp. I wasn’t sure if I loved her or hated her at times, for her behavior was alternately strident and caring. In the beginning I thought of her as a fringe nutter, but as the book progressed she popped up at crucial times and came to other women’s aid. Brilliantly written.

Maggie and Jane bring a lot of personal drama to the book, and while I totally supported why they behaved the way they did, I grew weary of the push-pull dynamic. I wanted to say to both of them: COMMUNICATE!

Finally, the violence. Anyone who has ever felt fear, or suffered a physical attack by a man, has probably wanted to seek revenge in the way Diana does– with torture and castration. There were a few internal cheers on my end as catcalling men got their comeuppance from Judith and Co., for sure. The authors pull no punches in describing Maggie’s past, or how emotions can sway reason (in the case of the woman domestically abused, yet still in love with her boyfriend). All throughout these subplots, the violence simmers in the background, like a pot about to boil over. The brutality is never far away, even if the scene is just women enjoying coffee or a night out. The threat lingers, a presence lurking in the shady corners.

I feel conflicted about this book. On one hand, the addressing of misogyny is extremely important. However, I felt that the characters and their behavior at times overshadowed this message. I found myself thinking again and again that some of the women  were fulfilling the stereotypical “flaky lesbian” types, bringing the drama and their lack of communication. Do women really behave this way? I suppose there are that do (and those that don’t), but I felt that the juxtaposition of the two was harsh and took a great deal away from the caveats illustrated by the authors.

I may be in the minority on this. I do feel that the ideas put forth are solid and very necessary, and so will recommend this book on the grounds that everyone needs to be aware of the evil women face on a daily basis, just for being themselves.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

You can pick up your copy here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exposure: A sociologist explores sex, society, and adult entertainment by Chauntelle Tibbals

 

exposure

In Exposure: A Sociologist Explores Sex, Society, and Adult Entertainment, Chauntelle Tibbals exposes readers to one of the most mysterious businesses and significant subcultures shaping our modern world porn. Adult entertainment is a part of us – it’s a hugely influential component of our culture. Like it or not, it partially shapes who we are as a society. And we as a society help shape it right back. Porn takes on our sexual desires and dreams, often in ways that we’re uncomfortable with.

Tibbals takes us through her own process from precocious Southern California girl to marginalized sociology Ph.D. student to renowned adult industry expert. She shares her adventures and observations often hilarious, occasionally heartbreaking, and always enlightening in order to give us a nuanced look at a community that’s simultaneously influential and reviled, powerful and stigmatized. From the altered reality of pornographic film sets to wildly inappropriate fans at trade shows, Tibbals has seen it all. And she will be the first person to tell you: the adult industry is nothing like you’d expect. It’s a world that deals in sex and is shrouded in mystery but is ultimately no different from any other.

 

Thanks to author Chauntelle Tibbals and NetGalley for offering this advance review copy!  EXPOSURE will be published July 7, 2015.

If you are looking for a salacious, tell-all expose on the world of porn–this isn’t it. What it IS: an intelligent and thought provoking view into the business of sexy movies. Tibbals supports this world yet doesn’t agree with it fully, a concept I found refreshing. It’s difficult to walk that fine line between “not my kind of stuff” and revulsion, and the author maintains her position as IN the world, not OF it. This position helps to create credibility and honesty.

Censoring attitudes almost prevented Tibbals from obtaining her degree; her advisor was hostile and passive aggressive, her peers wondered what was wrong with her. Why is a nice girl like you getting involved with such filth is the undertone of the first part, as Tibbals details her struggle to defend her choices. I found it repugnant in this enlightened day and age, that an advisor could hold such power over a student’s choice, a choice that was not hurting anyone.

Good thing that Tibbals marched to the beat of her own drum. Eventually she found her way and began her thesis in earnest. Substitute any other subject for porn, and what you have is how she went about gathering information. As the industry accepted her, not as a gawker, but as a true supporter seeking understanding through knowledge, Tibbals befriended the megastars and watched literally hundreds of films. (Did you know they have their own version of the Oscars for porn films? I didn’t either.)

As she gained respect by showing respect, Tibbals found herself in many situations: watching films shot from behind the scenes, hanging out with some of the actors, and sitting as a judge for the aforementioned films awards. She explains her “walking the line” mentality with an anecdote about a movie that was esthetically sound, but directed by an unsavory character. She struggled with  trying to separate the fact that she loathed the director while appreciating the film for what it was: shot beautifully, with a plot that made sense and was actually engaging to watch.  I was quite impressed by her self awareness and willingness to share the truth, even if she didn’t personally approve/like it.

You must go into this book with an open mind, similar to the author watching those movies. As the blurb notes, porn is “just another business” and this is an insider’s view. Sex is such a hot button topic in America, and it shouldn’t be. I applaud the author’s temerity and her vociferous support for this area of our society; the part of our culture everyone has an opinion about, yet hesitates to defend.

This societal dichotomy persists with a section on how these porn stars are alternately worshipped and reviled: when the girls make appearances at trade shows (much like authors or sports figures do) their “fans” will wait in line to see them, fawning over their beauty. Once they get their audience with Tammy Tawdry, however, they will call them “sluts” or ask if their daddy is proud of what they do. This is a perfect example of the double standard and pervasive misogyny that is a staple of our society. Women walk a fine line with their sexuality; the male stars are purported as heroes with staying power, and the girls are just an object to be used. Tibbals is dead on with this chapter.

Her writing style is easy to follow and often humorous. She makes no apology for who she is or how she got there; and I found that refreshing and empowering. Being a maverick is often lonely and frustrating, but usually has its rewards. I sincerely hope Tibbals is recouping hers now.

Want your own copy? You can pick it up here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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