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Self-Help / Relationships

  • Plot/Idea: This is a wonderful work, proving to be smart, engaging, and thorough. No matter what side of the political/moral fence readers find themselves on, they will nod with approval as they read the author's insights. As comprehensive as is possible, and certainly thought-provoking, there is much here that may open minds and help bridge the nation's divide.

    Prose: What might otherwise be a dry and lifeless topic is handled brilliantly here. The writing touches the reader in a personal way and draws them in, keeping them hooked. 

    Originality: This is a highly original work with a unique perspective, and Doyle Bryant does not shy away from exploring these topics deeply.

    Character Development/Execution: The main character here is really the human race, as the author explores how people react and think. Doyle Bryant gives the world exactly what it needs right now, a thoughtful and accessible examination of common decency and unbiased options for bridging common ground to overcome our differences. 

    Blurb: Bryant gives the world exactly what it needs right now - a thoughtful and accessible examination of common decency and unbiased options for bridging common ground to overcome our differences. 

  • Wake Up! Change Up! Rise Up!

    by Lynn Lok-Payne

    Rating: 7.75

    Plot/Idea: Drawing on her own life-changing experiences, Lok-Payne is able to share her story to help others overcome tragic events. Her advice is not only based on her own story; she includes guidance from experts through her research and knowledge. This transformative guide offers something for everyone. 

    Prose: The upbeat prose shines through Lok-Payne's struggles. Each chapter focuses on techniques for the reader to consider applying to their own circumstances. The workbook allows for personal introspection, while the author’s positive attitude will leave a strong impression on readers.

    Originality: Drawing from experts and her own experience, Lok-Payne organizes the helpful information well and stays focused, while providing a variety of resources and tools for readers.

    Character Development/Execution: Lok-Payne provides a winning blend of personal narrative and self-help. Readers will value her empathy and words of encouragement.

  • This May Be Difficult to Read

    by Claire N. Rubman

    Rating: 7.50

    Plot: This work of nonfiction comes from the mind of a cognitive developmental psychologist and veteran educator. The author constructively summarizes research and years of valuable classroom and parenting experience.

    Prose: Rubman presents the chapters in an engaging manner, leading the reader through common ‘myths’ about teaching people to read. This is an encompassing straightforward educational text with historic context, psychological development, and tools for a classroom and/or parenting.

    Originality: For those interested in pedagogical research and understanding, This May Be Difficult to Read will prove to be a valuable and timely resource. Parents or teachers looking for support while teaching children to read will find comfort and advice in these pages.

    Character/Execution: An overarching premise is that the educational system in America is broken, thus there are criticisms of current means of education, but Rubman offers insight as to how to counter what she sees as challenging to readers. This full-color textbook is strikingly designed and effectively developed.

  • Plot/Idea: Nocero’s year-long guide to a blissful life is a combination of meditative reflections, encouragements, and action items. The reader can follow the calendar Nocero sets or bounce around the guide; the author offers space for what the reader needs. Some readers may find the action items difficult to complete without more guidance from the author

    Prose: Readers familiar with meditation, reflection, or contemplative studies will be able to engage with this curriculum with ease, whereas beginners may find some of the action items more challenging with the brevity of the guidebook.

    Originality: Readers of self-help guides will find familiar quotes, meditations, and action items; the uniqueness lies within Nocero’s calendar format.

    Character/Execution: Nocero is bright and uplifting throughout. She is direct in offering the knowledge she has, yet she is gentle and displays sincere excitement for the changes readers may discover ahead.

  • Be Transcendent to Sustain Happiness

    by Yvon Milien

    Rating: 6.75

    Plot: Yvon Milien tries to answer the question every human heart asks — how to be happy and protect that happiness in a world full of sorrow. Milien tenaciously tries to steer readers toward the path of self-development with the goal of sustainable joy.

    Prose: In a tone similar to that of a supportive life coach, Milien prompts readers to do the hard work of self-actualization without making them feel disconnected from their own personal journeys. He keeps the anecdotes simple, memorable, and to the point.

    Originality: While the premise here is inspiring, it borrows heavily from the cookie-cutter advice often found in other self-help books.

    Character/Execution: Milien organizes the thesis in a structure that is easy to follow and grasp. It makes the points in the book feel approachable instead of sterile and distanced from the realities facing many readers seeking self-help.

  • Plot/Idea: The underlying argument -- that setting boundaries and giving one's self a 30-minute lunch break to eat healthy food and embrace personal time during a workday -- is a solid one. In execution, however, the work doesn't entirely convince readers of the merits of its arguments.

    Prose: The book is written in clear prose, but is somewhat repetitive and drawn out. That is, the author makes many central claims in the introduction and subsequent chapters somewhat reiterate what was already written. Additionally, the boxing analogy often feels forced and the many bolded, underlined words detract from the professional tone.

    Originality: Encouraging people to set boundaries on their own time is an important, though not novel, argument. While there is a nice simplicity in the author's advice, there are some holes in the book's logic. For instance, though the author includes a "this book is for you if..." section, what is left unsaid is that this advice only works under certain conditions. 

    Character/Execution: While there is certainly something to the author's claim that we could all benefit from guarding our time and eating better, the way this book addresses these matters leaves a number of concerns and questions unaddressed and unanswered.

  • Plot/Idea: Strelow offers insightful learning, combined with a novel take on moral philosophy. The guide explores well-known constructs in a new light, and Strelow skillfully calls forth weighty reflections that will challenge readers’ beliefs.

    Prose: Strelow’s prose is formal and rich with imagery, contributing to the narrative’s philosophical nature. Although fitting, this type of prose also interferes with reader understanding—particularly for those who may not have a solid grasp of the topic.

    Originality: The author dives into some intriguing concepts that will prompt deeper exploration for readers, and the sheer scope of material combined under one umbrella lends this work distinction.
    Character/Execution: Despite Strelow’s exhaustive efforts to both provoke insight and increase understanding, the text is challenging to follow and lacking in well-defined goals. The information Strelow presents often comes across as vague and disconnected, likely impacted by the guide’s loose structure.