Perfect Little Ladies by Abby Drake (Avon Books 2009) is one of those guilty pleasures, a book that is definitely “lowbrow” but has a great story and is great fun while you’re reading it. The story is “Desparate Housewives”-predictable, featuring Elinor, a society/political wife. Elinor is being blackmailed and she announced this to some of her nearest and dearest friends and family. It’s a sexy whodunnit. I won’t say any more because it would ruin the suspense, but when Elinor enlists the help of her twin sister and a few others, to help her find out. the fun, begins. Yours will end when you’ve turned the last, exciting, page!
This is the time to make new years resolutions. One of the most popular promises we make (after losing weight and getting healthier) is to take control of our time and our lives. Too Busy For Your Own Good, by Connie Merritt, RN, PHN, (McGraw Hill 2009), can give you a few pointers….assuming you take the time to read it. According to Ms. Meritt, an estimated 90% of visits to primary care physicians are due to stress-related illnesses, such as indigestion, headaches, back and neck problems, and insomnia. “Once you start asking what else you can fit into your schedule, where does it end?” asks Connie Merritt. She tries to get her readers to focus on the things that matter, and reclaim the joy in their lives in the process. The book is supposedly “based on the latest research on health, business and the brain-response studies,” but I don’t honestly see anything earth-shatteringly new from the author in terms of how to cope with doing too much. In the end, knowing your patterns and learning how to “just say no” is the key to eliminating those endless extras that we just can’t seem to get under control. That being said, there are tips and tactics that may be new to you or that you may have ignored, or forgotten. These can help you manage the work you need to do, with the extra but unnecessary work that you find on your plate. The book is easy to read and nicely written. Self help books can be excellent motivators. If you know that this is the year you must make change in how your oganize, and manage your life, pick up a copy and see where it takes you.
Over 40 & You’re Hired!: Secrets to Landing a Great Job by Robin Ryan (Penguin Books, 2009) gets a thumbs up simply because the author is focusing on a segment of the population that really needs job hunting savvy. The most traditional job hunting books cover a lot of the same things that Robin Ryan does (e.g. how to write different types of resumes, how to research the hidden job market, and how to answer the 10 key interview questions). But if you are over a certain age, finding someone to call you for an interview when you are “experienced” can be a lot more challenging. And, if you do get an interview, how do you handle the resistance you’ll be getting from the person who has the power to hire you, who may be younger than your own children? Unlike job searches for younger people, the over 40 job seeker has to handle ageism, and this new book does more than just touch lightly on that issue. The author does accentuate the positive, and downplay the negatives of older job seekers in this market. I would have liked to have seen more discussion about those negatives, since all the positive aspects int he world don’t wash away those stumbling blocks when prospective employers are looking at the whole package. In addition, the author merely touches on job hunting etiquette and image. I wrote an entire book on the subject called: You Are the Product, how to Sell Yourself to Employers. Making sure your hairstyle or eye glasses are up to date, is a mere drop in the ocean of what a job seeker might need to do, to get younger employers to consider them as potential colleagues, and not just someone who reminds them of “mom” or “dad.”
Quick, Before the Music Stops (How Ballroom Dancing Saved my Life) by Janet Carlson (Broadway Books 2009) is an interesting, and somewhat depressing story of a nearly middle-aged woman who revitalizes her body, spirit and life through learning to be a competitive ballroom dancer. Using dance as a metaphor for the travails of her daily life, the author rekindles the love of sport and dance that she once had as a younger woman and by doing so, learns what she has and what she needs. As her body and self image becomes stronger, her marriage moves towards what appears to be a logical closure. I loved the descriptions of the dancing lessons, less so her tired and faded relationships. The book drags in places, but the message is clear. Women who are “searching” will find a lot of meaning in the author’s struggle. For the rest of us, it’s an entertaining look at a woman’s ability to re-energize and to blossom at any age.
Just Call Me Maggie by Marjorie Page (Author House 2009) is a disturbing book about a woman dealing with a shockingly abusive childhood that she cannot really remember, and with her multiple personality disorder. The focus is on Maggie Barnett, a successful lawyer at at a firm in Winnipeg. She travels constantly for her job, and her relationships with men are tenuous and strained. Apparently, Maggie has been able to manage her life and career and keep her demons under control…but when a school mate seeks her out for divorce help, Maggie suddenly starts to remember her childhood. With the help of an understanding doctor, Maggie begins to glimpse the unthinkable. She courageously tries to set the record straight with her family members, and deal squarely with what her life was, is, could be. The book is awkward in places, but writing about multiiple personalities, sexual abuse. and flashbacks without confusing the reader, is no easy task. The story, situations, and dialogue are convincing enough to make you believe. Sexual abuse of children is a distasteful subject, and this story shows the various ways long term damage is done to innocents. Does Maggie free herself of her demons? Read the book and find out.
Being Simply Beautiful- Where Your Inner Beauty Meets the Outside World by Helen Noble, NB Publishing 2009 is a beautifully simple guide to all those little things your mother admonished you would help keep you “young.” If you didn’t listen, it’s never too late. But, being “simple,” it also doesn’t cover anything in great detail, and there isn’t anything staggeringly new. The “Outer Beauty” section is a nice primer for women who haven’t had a beauty routine, or need new ideas that won’t cost a fortune. On the flip side,The author’s Belacrema skincare system is blatantly touted right in the begining of the book, making the entire book seem like an infomercial. I have tried the moisturizer and it is very good (*a review is scheduled for the Spring 2010 What Works Beauty, Cosmetics & Fashion Review column), but pushing Belecrema right up front was tacky and a turn-off. It received many pages, when every other topic was given just a few paragraphs. The “Inner Beauty” section covers too many serious and complicated topics, from meditation to menopause, too quickly. I would recommend Belecrema, but maybe not the book.
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