A Selfish Plan to Change the World by Justin Dillon

selfish

Changing the world is not as altruistic you might think.  Most movers and shakers have multiple motives for what they do.  Author Justin Dillon takes us through his personal journey from musician to founder and CEO of the Made in a Free World organization which focuses on disrupting human trafficking trade worldwide.  Citing example after example, he explores the reasons why each one of us should make an effort to change the world, what keeps the world from changing and how we can actually change the world.

The key point for me was what the author called “finding your riot.”  Although that seems a bit aggressive, what he refers to is finding what you are passionate about and using that for social change. Combine that riot with the desire to “contribute to a larger narrative” and your unique abilities, and you have the recipe for world-changing work.

Much like the author, who began with his belief that changing the world was only attempted by selfless and sacrificial people, I often feel that perhaps changing the world was beyond my abilities even though I’ve made some effort at do-gooding over the years. I can’t say that I’ve been successful in changing the world even one iota despite my efforts, but I know people who are, and I haven’t given up yet.

A Selfish Plan to Change the World provided some food for thought and is well worth your time.  Read more about this book here. Get your copy here.

four star

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

We Won’t Forget You… Mr. McGillicuddy by Ira L. White

Did you ever consider the implications of what you blog about?  Perhaps you should! Robert McGillicuddy has his hands full caring for an elderly father, pregnant daughter, teenage granddaughter and BP, his affectionate dog.  In the moments he isn’t trying to juggle all his obligations, he writes a blog with a steadily growing readership.  He is blissfully unaware that it’s been flagged by the government as subversive.  Life is about to change drastically for the McGillicuddy family.

I enjoyed reading about the ordinary lives of the characters and Robert’s blog posts in We Won’t Forget You… Mr. McGillicuddy by Ira L. White.  Robert’s father’s daily struggles were so typical of many elderly today.  His daughter’s efforts to provide for her children and the failure of the system for those who most need it also have a strong basis in reality.  It’s no wonder Robert becomes vocal about the government’s shortcomings in his blog posts.

I least liked that the book ended.  I’m hoping there is a sequel in the works.  How do Robert and his family manage?  They aren’t in the least prepared for the situation they find themselves in.  They certainly aren’t Preppers.  What will they do?  Perhaps they should come to La Yacata! 

We Won’t Forget You… Mr. McGillicuddy by Ira L. White will be an enjoyable read for most everyone because of its commentary on everyday struggles in the land of the free and the brave.  It might even inspire its readers to create their own Prepper communities in preparation for possible societal disaster in the near future.  However, those that prefer to keep their heads in the sand about current events won’t enjoy this book.

3 star

I think there needs to be a bit more development in some of the main characters.  Gil and Robert have fully fleshed out characters down to the minutest detail but Ruby and Sapphire seem very one-dimensional.  I would also like to see more of Robert’s blog posts.  Maybe some of the aside chapters, those sections that had nothing to do with the McGillicuddy family, could be presented as blog posts.  And, of course, I want to know what happens next!

This book was an OnlineBookClub.org Book of the Day.  Read about it here.

Immediacy: Our Ways of Coping in Everyday Life by Fred Emil Katz

“They could not believe it. They could not believe they would be stripped of their citizenship until it happened. They could not believe their houses of worship would be destroyed unti

How do ordinary men and women find themselves complacently or even passionately supporting mass murder?  How can people transcend their immediate personal suffering yet succumb years later?  How can society prevent such atrocities such as the Holocaust or the Spanish Inquisition from reoccurring? What causes people to willingly sacrifice their lives for a national or religious rationale? How can these things be measured empirically and studied? Author Fred Emil Katz discusses these questions and more in Immediacy: Our Ways of Coping in Everyday Life.

The topic presented is complex.  Immediacy: Our Ways of Coping in Everyday Life is a series of essays and articles written by the author during his distinguished career as a sociologist that have been compiled and updated. The book has 5 principal sections, each with an introduction that explains how these chapters relate to the idea of immediacy. I found these introductory chapters to be extremely helpful in my understanding of the material.

It may seem to some that society as a whole has evolved beyond the incidents discussed in this book, but has it?  (List of genocides by death toll) A call for national unity in an effort to make the country great again which becomes the justification for national purging of undesired and unassimilated residents, never mind the cost to human lives, sounds eerily familiar.  Although Katz has more questions than answers for us, at least he is presenting this topic for our consideration and if we were wise, we would ponder them carefully.

I especially found the chapter on societal denial to be eye-opening.  Sometimes, humanity turns a blind eye.  Sometimes we just can’t see.

“They could not believe it. They could not believe they would be stripped of their citizenship until it happened. They could not believe their houses of worship would be destroyed unti

The examples the author uses to illustrate each aspect of immediacy are well-known.  He uses some unorthodox punctuation, dashes rather than commas or parentheses, but it did not detract from the overall readability of the text.

four star

While I believe that the message is one that everyone should be made aware of, I’m not sure that everyone would benefit from reading this book.  Its tone was scholarly even when discussing the fate of the author’s own parents and elder brother.  Sociology as an applied science is still in its infancy.  We just may not be able to think of our immediacies as something we can change.  

“They could not believe it. They could not believe they would be stripped of their citizenship until it happened. They could not believe their houses of worship would be destroyed unti

This book was an OnlineBookClub.org Book of the Day.

The Refuge by Heidi Martin

the refuge

Anna is just not able to allow herself to grieve over her baby daughter’s accidental death. Every day, she runs miles along the beach in Boston and spends hours at work at a prestigious law firm.  As long as she stays busy, she can avoid the overwhelming emotions. Until the day that her husband asks for a divorce and her partner requests that she take a leave of absence. Her life in shambles, she packs her bags and leaves town, destination unknown.  Somewhere near Charlestown fate steps in. Anna learns some important life lessons from her unexpected adventure.

If you’ve been following my blog recently, you’ll already know that I’m also on a personal quest of sorts, just as unintentional as Anna’s.  So of course, I found The Refuge by Heidi Martin quite appropriate for my own situation and as a result, enjoyed it immensely.   

I loved that Anna was fallible.  In situation after situation, I kept wondering if she was going to mess her life up yet again. Her reactions were human if short-sighted at times.  I thought her spiritual quest quite a refreshing aspect of the story.  It wasn’t a Find Jesus and Be Saved type of book at all, thank God.  Anna explored Taoism, meditation, the concept of the divine being or source being a woman, and the use of personalized prayer beads.  Even La Virgen de Guadalupe found a place within her search for meaning.

Although there was a happy-ever-after fairytale quality to some sections, things didn’t always work out the way you would have wished, adding realism to the story.  There were a few time lapses in the book.  Some events were merely referred to by the characters in conversation, not actually presented.  I would have liked to be a fly on the wall for ALL of Anna’s adventures.  However, as the book was already 394 pages, I’m sure doing so would have made it humongous!

The characters were well-defined and believable, down to the antics of the 8-year-old neighbor girl. The details were extraordinarily precise.  For example, they were not just drinking coffee, but Viennese coffee. Really, The Refuge by Heidi Martin was a delightful read!

I hated to see it end, as all good things must do.  I found the twist in the epilogue a pleasant surprise. You’ll have to read it yourself to see what I mean.  I have to say that The Refuge by Heidi Martin is more of a chick-flick feel-good type of book.  Most men probably won’t get all that finding yourself and establishing a room of your own bit. Their loss, I say. I certainly enjoyed it!

four star

Read more about the book here.  This book was an OnlineBookClub.org Book of the Day.

The Last Valentine by Felix Alexander

the last valentine

The Last Valentine by Felix Alexander is set on the island of Puerto Rico in 1935.  Chief Inspector Guillermo Sedeno suspects his long-time rival, Inspector Javier Villalobos, stole a crucial piece of evidence in an unsolved murder case, an unsigned blood-stained love letter.  After the love letter falls into the hands of young Olivia Esperanza Villalobos, she and her dearest friend Isaac Quintero set out in search of the Labyrinth of Love Letters, unaware that the chain of events their investigation set into motion will change so many lives.

We never know our journey before it begins, but in hindsight we discover that every experience we have is meant to be ours and ours alone

The writing in The Last Valentine by Felix Alexander is reminiscent of Gabriel Garcia Marquez or Isabel Allende.  It was lyrical, poetic, full of overlapping characters and stories started in one section that are not finished until later if at all.  It was like reading a dream and I was carried away.

One point that detracted from the story was the number of persistent errors.  Olivia, as a romantic heroine is apt to do, often lay down on her bed.  Several times the author made the grammatical error of saying Olivia lied down in bed or lied awake.  (Lay vs. Lie (vs. Laid) There were several apostrophes versus plural errors (ranting’s) and incorrect use of it’s rather than its, (See Apostrophes Rule 2b), as well as a few humorous homophone mistakes. (He went on a steak out.  What was his roll in the crime?)

A few items that were referred to were out of place in a novel set in Puerto Rico in the 1930s.  Olivia’s self-conscious reaction about her belief in the Labyrinth of Love Letters is compared to the feeling of being the last of her friends to discover Santa doesn’t exist. Although the island had been under US military control since 1898, and English was mandated as the official language since 1917, I wouldn’t think that Santa Claus would have been a popular figure in Puerto Rico at the time.  Even today, most of Latin America still receive their gifts from Los Reyes Magos on January 6th rather than a visit from Santa. (See Three Kings Day in Puerto Rico) Appropriate mention is given to El Dia de los Reyes later in the book as one of the most important religious holidays in Puerto Rico.

Another issue was the name of one of the married women.  Carmen Alicia de la Vega was married to Fernando Gonzalo de la Vega.  Although women commonly take their husband’s name after marriage in the United States, this is NOT a custom in Puerto Rico.  Therefore Carmen Alicia, being a “woman of status” before marriage would not assume her husband’s name no matter how prestigious he was.  Instead, she would keep both her maiden last names (her father’s and her mother’s) and add the word “de” followed by her husband’s name indicating her married status.  (See Naming customs of Hispanic America) Of course, it would be a bit cumbersome to be known as Carmen Alicia Gonzalez Reyes de De la Vega, for example.  Nonetheless, this is the custom.  Another female character is mistakenly referred to repeatedly as Angelica de las Fuentes.  However, her full name was Angelica Montana de las Fuentes.  De las Fuentes would have been her mother’s last name and the abbreviated form should have been Angelica Montana. Yet she was reportedly the daughter of Don (Sir) Enrique de las Fuentes.  Therefore, her name should have been written as Angelica de las Fuentes Montana.

This custom of carrying both the father’s and the mother’s name into the next generation would have been helpful in unraveling the intricately woven relationship between the characters. For example, it would have been useful to know that Inspector Guillermo Sedena’s second last name was Colon.

Then there is the mortician who prepared the dead for the ferryman and placed two coins on the eyes sockets before sealing the casket.  Again, I found this incongruent to the context of the story.  The placing of coins on the eyes of a dead body began so that the dearly departed could pay the ferryman Charon to cross the river Styx, a decidedly Greek tradition.  (See Why do they place coins on the eyes of the dead?) I thought perhaps there was a similar belief held by the Taino people, the original inhabitants of the island, however, I could not find one. (See Taino spirituality) So I was baffled by this action. It may have been that just as Isaac’s uncle was well versed in the Greek gods, the mortician may have been similarly educated.  Had he developed an affinity with Charon the ferryman because of his profession and this affinity prompted the coins?  It wasn’t explained.

I found the mention of La Llorona to be consistent with the story found throughout Latin America. (See La Llorona returns) On the other hand, El Cucuy, the boogeyman that comes for disobedient children, is better known as El Cuco in Puerto Rico.  El Cucuy apparently only gathers up disobedient Mexican children. Another legend was left unexplained. I was unable to find anything that would indicate what the story of “Las Lagrimas Perdidas (the lost tears) from a small town in southern Spain” might refer to.  I would have been interested in hearing how that legend fit into this story.

four star It really was a lovely, poetic story.  It would appeal to the romantics of any age.  Realists might get hung up on the details.  Perhaps I’m a realistic romantic then.

When we reach the end of our lives,

Read more about this book here.  Get your own copy here.  This book was an OnlineBookClub.org Book of the Day.