Weekend Reads: “Radical Self Love”

Hi, everyone. I went into the Wayback Machine a bit to find this review. I feel like we’re all suffering a crisis of meaning and self-esteem these days. I know I am; heck, I had a complete meltdown a week and a half ago that sent me scurrying for a counseling appointment. So, I was trying to think of books that helped me when I was in similar situations … and that I hadn’t shared already. Here’s one for you to consider.

Radical Self Love: A Guide to Loving Yourself and Living Your DreamRadical Self Love: A Guide to Loving Yourself and Living Your Dream by Gala Darling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There are some books out there that I genuinely believe should be read by everyone.

This book is one of them.

Gala Darling doesn’t just talk about self-esteem … she talks about the importance of self-love. This is the ultimate in self-care, and she doesn’t just talk platitudes. Darling provides practical “homework assignments” to get readers thinking about how they talk to themselves, treat themselves, etc. Short version: most of us aren’t very good at it. Darling starts with her own experiences and how she went from living with an eating disorder to becoming a guru of radical self-love, and brings us along on the journey.

The primary message is one that should be self-evident, but really isn’t: we must love ourselves first, in the same way (if not better) than we love our friends, in order to truly love anyone else. The message is brought through clearly in an entertaining, charming, and yes … loving fashion. Delightful.

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Weekend Reads: “Travels with Figment”

Travels with Figment: On the Road in Search of Disney DreamsTravels with Figment: On the Road in Search of Disney Dreams by Martin Sklar
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had the very good fortune to hear Marty Sklar speak once, about the 1964 New York World’s Fair and Disney’s involvement therein. I found him charming and delightful.

The first draft of this book was completed before Marty’s death, and his family decided to polish it up, add several lovely tributes from colleagues, and publish the work. I’m so glad they did. We get a new insights into Marty’s belief in the power of imagination, and why it’s important to support it in those around us.

Some of the stories were not new to me, but many of them were. I found myself hearing Marty’s voice in my head as I read; his personality came through beautifully in the text.

Those interested in new ways to think about business, imagination, and innovation are sure to enjoy the book on those levels alone. Disneyphiles will love this look at a true Legend who is greatly missed. Highly recommended.

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Weekend Reads: “Fanny Newcomb and the Irish Channel Ripper”

Fanny Newcomb And the Irish Channel RipperFanny Newcomb And the Irish Channel Ripper by Ana Brazil
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

4.5/5 Stars

Fanny Newcomb is the daughter of a New Orleans lawyer. Having shunned a marriage proposal form her late father’s partner, she comes to work at the Settlement House. There, she teaches reading, accounting, and other skills to young immigrant women in the Crescent City.

When her most promising student is murdered, Fanny starts looking into matters herself. Why? One of the other women at Wisdom House, Olive Giddings, is a physician — she was first on the scene and knows that Nora was strangled. Soon, though, the papers are claiming that Nora is the victim of the Irish Channel Ripper — and Olive’s physician friend, John Remington, confirms that he’s the one who did the autopsy on the young woman’s torn-up body. And then, the House’s German carpenter is arrested for the crime. So, Fanny has a vested interest in finding the real assailant and proving Karl innocent.

Author Ana Brazil has clearly done her homework. The streets and people of New Orleans come to life under her skillful authorship. While none of the characters are historical persons, they are based on either real people in New Orleans or those found elsewhere (Brazil’s end-notes outline all of this). No one is flawless; even one particularly odious individual has good intentions from which he is acting. We also get a look at New Orleans’ rather famously corrupt politics.

The tale is not quite a fair play puzzle; it’s more of a thriller. Will the Ripper strike again? Will Fanny, Olive, and Sylvia be safe as they try to find answers?

Historical detail was outstanding, and I enjoyed the book very much. Some minor editorial issues (which is why I took off half a star) but nothing major. Highly recommended.

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Weekend Reads: “Pilfered Promises”

Few things delight me more than a holiday historical mystery! Set the tale practically in my own back yard (this time, it’s 1890s San Francisco), and it’s hard to miss.

Pilfered Promises (Victorian San Francisco Mysteries, #5)Pilfered Promises by M. Louisa Locke
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Annie Dawson is asked to help investigate what appears to be a shoplifting ring in a fancy San Francisco department store. It’s the Christmas shopping season, so of course the store is very busy indeed. During her investigation, she learns that various goods seem to be disappearing from the warehouse and starts looking into that as well. One of the women who is instrumental in the investigation, Marie Fournier, is murdered … and pretty soon Annie is up to her neck in that investigation as well. And what will become of the Widow Fournier’s daughter, Emmaline?

One of the most charming aspects of this series is Annie’s household of boarders and servants … all of whom adore her, because she knows what it’s like to be financially destitute and is a genuinely kind person. Throw in her attorney husband, Nate Dawson’s, social justice concerns (in this book he’s helping an abused woman obtain a divorce in a time when wife-beating was seen as relatively normal), and you have a fabulous ensemble.

The mysteries are all fair-play puzzles; the clues are there for the reader to put together. One of the sub-plots was pretty easy to figure out, but others were not. If you enjoy historical mysteries, these books should be right up your alley.

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Weekend Reads: “Jolene”

Jolene (Elemental Masters, #15)Jolene by Mercedes Lackey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When I saw that Mercedes Lackey had released a new Elemental Masters book on Dec. 1, I had to find it. While the rest of the series is based on fairy tales, this one is based on a song: Dolly Parton’s “Jolene.”

Anna May Jones lives in Shoddy, a Tennessee mining town. Her father has black lung, and she’s sickly herself. So, when her mother’s sister insists that she come live in Lost Holler, her parents send her — against her will. There, she discovers that Aunt Jinny is the local Root Woman, making medicines that help the townsfolk. She also meets several interesting folk along the way, including the titular Jolene.

Most importantly, she meets Josh Holcroft, a stonemason of particular skill. The two fall in love, but before long, Jolene takes an interest in Josh … and then things become difficult. If you know the song, you know the problem.

I don’t want to deliver spoilers if I can avoid it; the twists and turns of this tale are half the fun. Suffice it to say that the ending is entirely satisfactory and I enjoyed the book thoroughly. It’s part historical fiction, part urban fantasy, and completely delightful.

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