Thursday, January 28, 2016

Farewell the Dragon by Lee Barckmann

Farewell the Dragon by Lee Barckmann drops the reader in China in October of 1987 among a host of characters from around the world all with different agendas, beliefs, and motivations. As they come together, clash, find common ground, suspect one another, and betray each other, they create a drama that had me struggling to differentiate between the good guys and the bad guys. Barckmann doesn't shy away from the edges when it comes to painting his main character, or any of his characters, as flawed. Even as the story unfolds around the murder of two foreigners, there's an element that nothing is what it seems on the surface. Many of the characters seem incredibly uncertain of their feelings for one another ratcheting up the drama, the betrayal, the suspense. Both secrets and honesty were used as weapons throughout Farewell the Dragon. Farewell the Dragon brings relationships, sex, international intrigue, religion, politics, and a society in flux to create an examination of human nature that is at once blunt and nuanced.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Fast Forward: How Women Can Achieve Power and Purpose by Melanne Verveer and Kim. K. Azzarelli

I found much to like in Fast Forward: How Women Can Achieve Power and Purpose by Melanne Verveer and Kim. K. Azzarelli; however, there were times when it felt like it tried too hard to convince me to support certain companies. I liked the study of women's rights, the push for equality, and the progress that's been made. Fast Forward pushed me to think about how I can better use my life and my writing not just for the betterment of women but for all people. Verveer and Azzarelli kept a positive attitude about the fight for equal rights without dismissing the struggle still to be fought. Their work for equality interlinks with the stories of many powerful women, corporations, and foundations, and at times the overlap shines a light on the discrepancies between furthering equality and recognizing that not everyone around the world has the same issues. At other times,Verveer and Azzarelli seek to address those discrepancies with stories about the help foundations and corporations have provided. I found Fast Forward interesting, educational, and inspiring even though at times it left me with the impression of being a public relations move by the corporations, foundations, and leaders involved.

Friday, January 8, 2016

All the Things We Never Knew: Chasing the Chaos of Mental Illness by Sheila Hamilton

All the Things We Never Knew: Chasing the Chaos of Mental Illness by Sheila Hamilton is open and raw in a way that forced me to remind myself that I don't actually know her as I read. I cheered for her and her daughter, Sophie, but also for David, her husband suffering from mental illness. I winced when she was brutally honest about missing signs, mistaking the symptoms, and dismissing both as just his personality. I nodded as she demonstrated how charismatic David was in the beginning and how alluring, even intoxicating, that was. I blinked back a tear when she told her daughter when David's body had finally been found even though I knew before I even started reading that he died. Hamilton's examination of way mental illness is handled by the medical profession, the legal community, and even by family members left me gasping. There are so many glitches in the system where one little mistake, one little misstep, one little denial can be deadly. Hamilton writes an engaging story that reminded me why I am so fascinated with psychology and pushed me to pay closer attention to those around me. All the Things We Never Knew is a very personal story, but it is also a call to action for all of us to understand the dangers of stigmatizing mental illness driving people away from seeking the care they need.