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Pretty Powerful: Appearance, Substance, and Success
By: Eboni K. Williams
Publisher: Viva Editions
Publication Date: September 2017
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: September 23, 2017
As an attorney and now a media legal analyst, Eboni K. Williams has strong opinions on how a woman's appearance can help, or hinder, her professional career. In Pretty Powerful, she presents her case using examples from her own life mixed with experiences from other successful women.
Having worked as an actress and model before turning to the world of law and politics, Ms. Williams well understands how women struggle to play up their looks to help move along the corporate ladder. She too, struggled, particularly after having that modeling career. But she uses her legal background to make a strong argument for using "Pretty Powerful" to one's advantage and will have you re-thinking how you want to present yourself to the world.
Ms. Williams starts her book with an introduction that recalls her interviewing at Fox News to become a legal and political analyst. This was a position she'd been working toward for a long time and she was going to do all she could to secure that job. In addition to knowing what she wanted to tell the executives who would be interviewing her, Williams also paid careful attention to how she dressed. The way her hair was styled, the dress she wore, and her makeup, would, she believed, convey to those executives that she was a serious contender for the coveted job. While many of us don't want to think that how we dress/look affects our professional career, Williams argues that the first impression we make is still based on physical appearance. But, she argues, beauty and a perfect appearance alone are not enough to succeed, and to make her point, she delves into the 2008 presidential campaign and the woes of vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin. A well-dressed, attractive woman, Palin initially seemed to be a welcome addition to the Republican ticket. But once her lack of substance became apparent, she was torn apart in the press.
Williams tackles numerous aspects of "Pretty Powerful" from "Fat-shaming" to "The Bimbo Effect," giving her opinions on each as well as including interviews with well-known and successful women to get their views on the topics. From Meghan McCain, to Marcia Clark and Judge Jeanine Pirro, these ladies have some strong views and they're not afraid to share them. The interviewees give great insight into how using their appearance/dress (or not using it) helped or hindered their careers. For example, when Judge Pirro was beginning her career in law, she was one of only a few women lawyers and felt strong pressure to downplay her feminine side. Today, she argues, it's a different world, and by the time she had risen to being a judge, she felt comfortable about dressing up her wardrobe a little. Marcia Clark too, remembers when she was thrown into the limelight during the O.J. Simpson trail. She was too busy to worry about her looks and the media had a feeding frenzy because of it. In contrast, Desiree Rogers, who was the White House social secretary for President Obama, was criticized for being too flashy and that played a pivotal role in her job. Williams analyzes these various experiences to show how looks and brains must be used together, and that one over the other can have negative effects on a career. The author concludes her book with a look at sexual harassment and "The Bimbo Effect," where women who are very attractive can be stigmatized as being less capable.
In today's world, women are taught that we should advance in the work world (and indeed, in all aspects of our lives) by using our brains and not our beauty. But Ms. Williams makes a strong argument for using both to help us achieve our goals. Whether you have natural beauty or not, how you present yourself (your hair, your dress, your makeup), will say a lot about who you are and how serious you are about your job. Williams cautions, however, that too much of one over the other will likely have a negative effect. How to achieve that perfect balance is something Williams addresses throughout the book. Women, she argues, will be empowered once they realize that it's okay to use both their substance and appearance to fast-forward their careers. Pretty Powerful is an easy and interesting read, well researched, and it may well start some interesting discussions around the water cooler.
Quill says: In Pretty Powerful, Eboni K. Williams makes a strong argument for how and why to use one's appearance to help succeed in the work world.
The Last Crusader Kingdom: Dawn of a Dynasty in Twelfth-Century Cyprus
By: Helena P. Schrader
Publication Date: August 2017
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: September 13, 2017
Reviewers have stated this before: This author knows more history than anyone out there. In addition, she also knows exactly how to put on paper a historical book that excites, offers suspense, sparks adventure, and brings together a cast of characters that are literally impossible to forget once the last page has been read.
In this newest tale, readers join up with John d’Ibelin, who is the son of the legendary Balian who readers met and became loyal to in previous tales written by Helena Schrader. We begin at a monastery on the island of Cyprus in the year 1193. Dozens of villagers have reached the monastery’s doors, and look like they have met with men of war, which they most definitely have. The villagers have had to defend their homes (yet again) and fight for their very lives against an enemy they cannot beat. However, this is nothing new for these people on the island of Cyprus.
The English King first sold the island to the Templars, whose rule was not exactly popular with the natives. The Templars were forced out and now the island has been placed in the hands of one who has a mighty pack of supporters desperate to gain Cyprus as compensation for their own lands lost. If something is not done soon, the name of Richard the Lionheart – the ultimate crusader – will no longer have a legacy that includes Cyprus. There has to be hope somewhere; a man who could stand up to the battle and win the ultimate war.
Enter...John d’Ibelin. As the son of a true hero, John has a legacy of his own he will one day have to live up to. At this moment, he is away from his own father and family, apprenticing for a Constable. A pounding comes on the door of the home owned by the Constable of Jerusalem. He is arrested for treason, sending John on horseback to alert his father of this horrible news. After all, if anyone would know what to do, it would be Balian. He is the man who enabled 3,000-plus to escape the Saracen and negotiated the surrender of Jerusalem which saved tens of thousands of more lives.
When John arrives before his father, they are both confused as to how on earth the ‘paragon of chivalry’ who is Lord Aimery would possibly have committed treason. Something is truly wrong with this picture, and another war is about to commence.
From a faltering dynasty to meeting up with pirates sailing the Mediterranean, this intricate and exciting book offers up the early history of the Kingdom of Cyprus. As the author states at the beginning, this is one kingdom that has largely been lost over time. There are very few facts left in regards to the founding of Cyprus, so this fictional work focuses on ways that these things could have happened.
Quill says: Historical fiction fans, adventure fans – there is something in The Last Crusader Kingdom for everyone. Yet again, Helena Schrader has hit the ball out of the “proverbial park” with her intelligence and creativity.
There are many reasons why people become writers, and their reasons are all valid. In Diana Raab’s case, she began journaling as a source of healing—a way to express her feelings after the only grandmother who she knew (as well as her long-time caretaker) committed suicide. That was just the beginning. There were many more trials to come, and with each situation, Raab turned her pain into writing. Her proactive attitude back then and now is this: “direct your rage to the page.” While journaling is not a new concept, what Raab offers in her latest work, Writing for Bliss, goes way beyond journaling. Precisely capturing the purpose of her latest book, she states:
“My intention in creating this present book, Writing for Bliss, is to share my passion for writing and how it has helped me heal over the course of six decades. I hope it will help you transcend what immediately meets your eyes by digging deeper into your psyche and hearing the voice of your true authentic self, while listening to the messages of your heart rather than suppressing them.”
Writing goes hand-in-hand with reading, so if you think you’re not much of a reader or writer but have a desire to go there, then you’ve come to the right place. Maybe you’re at the other end of the spectrum—a seasoned reader and writer. Raab has plenty to steer you into an eye-opening “trajectory,” as Raab puts it. In a nutshell, Raab’s “seven-step plan for telling your story and transforming your life,” as her subtitle indicates, is all about introspection—a topic that is as old as scriptures in the Bible. Unfortunately, for many, choosing to “examine oneself” fits into the category of “the road less traveled” since it requires facing one’s fears—an action that is as frightening as the fears themselves.
“Self-reflection,” Raab states, “encourages you to examine your thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and beliefs.” Her proactive approach to self-examination may be methodical as well as user-friendly, but on a larger scale, it is laced with a huge heart of compassion. Life can be tough, and everyone goes through trials on various levels. People may be on different journeys, but their paths lead to the same place of desiring to achieve the highest of dreams possible. That said, she encourages her audience to read her book the first time through to get a basic overview, and then zero in on the areas that speak loudly and clearly during the second round.
The first four steps concentrate on engaging in the introspection process. Topics range from “rituals to writing” and transpersonal psychology (“the newest and fifth branch of psychology”) to “the art of power of storytelling” and “the meaning of experiences.” The last three steps provide tools to help readers find their voice, such as journaling, poetry, as well as publishing for those who love the challenge of going the extra mile and sharing their memoirs to others who could use a helping hand. Barely over 200-pages in length, Writing for Bliss is jammed with examples (personal and from other authors), tips, a plethora of writing prompts, and a chock full list of books for further reading. Raab’s ability to reach out and tenderly touch her audience is nothing less than awe-inspiring.
Closing on Raab’s words, she leaves her audience with these thoughts:
“My hope is that readers will become inspired to write during their joyous and difficult times, while also experimenting with different genres and ways of writing and being.”
Quill says: An absolute must read for those seeking real breakthroughs in their lives.