Tuesday, 28 March 2017

REVIEW: "Mistrial: An Inside Look at How the Criminal Justice System Works…and Sometimes Doesn’t" by Mark Geragos, Pat Harris

Book Review by Sapphire Ng

Mistrial: An Inside Look at How the Criminal Justice System Works…and Sometimes Doesn’t
by Mark Geragos, Pat Harris
Copyright October 2013
Paperback, 288 Pages

An exceptionally entertaining book that beautifully concludes on an inspirational note. Replete with engaging legal anecdotes, this book provides a pricelessly candid look at the American criminal justice system. This book is delightfully hilarious at times and fittingly interjected with personality. Most importantly, the defense attorneys’ indomitable dedication to, and unrelenting pride toward, the practice of their profession, and their insistence upon the upholding of principles, along with their electrifying mission to meaningfully serve society through the law, would turn out to be very much indispensable to the narrative of the book.

This book is perfect for the general reader; it is easy-to-read, straightforward and enjoyable. Given the range of consequential issues pertaining to the criminal justice system as addressed in the book, every American citizen would almost have a civic duty to read the book, to be acquainted with and to educate themselves about the related pertinent issues, and if possible, to even venture beyond into conducting independent research or actively engaging in awareness-raising activism.

The empowering messages delivered in the book with regards to the defense attorney profession make it unsurprising should any aspiring lawyer thereafter wish to emulate the authors and even seriously consider specializing in criminal law and becoming defense attorneys. This book has definitely piqued my interest in criminal law. Seasoned legal practitioners could surely enjoy this book; their presumed familiarity with the cases and matters discussed however might mean time better spent on more challenging, educative and unfamiliar material.

Of the multitudinous legal anecdotes told in the book, several cases are decidedly intriguing. The Scott Peterson case is fascinating but heartbreaking. One indeed cannot imagine the harrowing circumstances that befell the defendant; he not only tragically lost loved ones, but also had to grapple with an unrelenting tsunami of public opinion campaigning against his innocence. To add fuel to flames, and as a poignant exemplification of the dubious qualifying criterion of “he didn’t act right,” the defendant got convicted and put on death row for a murder conspicuously lacking in concrete evidence implicating him. The “Japanese O.J.” case was also particularly engrossing. In addition to an eventual unexpected twist of events concerning the possibility of police misconduct and brutality, the case also necessitated the consideration of a foreign jurisdiction. The People of California v. Will Lynch case is also markedly the most touching case in the book. 

The book lucidly addressed an eclectic range of issues pertaining to the criminal justice system. The jury is one of the most interesting subject matters discussed. The recommendation in the concluding chapter pertaining to professional jurors and jury schools is assuredly refreshing. The reader would also probably not require extra prodding to be convinced of the immense challenges involved in jury selection particularly for highly-publicized and highly-charged trials. One might find oneself puzzled however by the supposed legal procedure and mechanism related to jury nullification. Despite the availability for the jury to exercise the finding of jury nullification, apparently “under the law, its existence is not to be acknowledged. The lawyers are not allowed to argue it, and the court cannot tell the jury it has the right to do it. If the jurors ask about it, the court is to tell them that it goes against their oath as jurors.” 

As with any reasonable attempt at furnishing an unvarnished behind-the-scenes look at the criminal justice system, it necessarily implies an unavoidable discussion of rather unsavory and even disheartening flaws that plague the system’s workings. One can only imagine the tenacity displayed by defense attorneys in their continual confrontations with the myriad scenarios of prosecutorial immunity and privilege, in witnessing the unjustified rewarding of prosecutorial misconduct, and even facing instances where remorseless prosecutorial unethicality resulted in wrongful convictions. As one of the authors poignantly expressed, the prevailing legal climate seemed to indicate that “it is better that ten men be wrongly convicted than that one guilty man walks free.”

The authors also rightly highlighted the poignant burgeoning trend of the “angry blond white women”—an embodiment of “faux hysteria”—that disproportionately target the defendants of criminal cases. The book also lucidly illustrated the concept of the politicization of the criminal justice system, and effectively exemplified instances of forced false identification and forced confession through compelling anecdotes. Included in the narrative as well are firsthand accounts of the overblown hubris and display of arrogance of personalities within the criminal justice system. 

The book remains greatly inspiring. The signification of such principled utterances—“You don’t become a defense attorney to win Miss Congeniality;” “We are defense lawyers. We represent people who are not popular;” and “the day we quit taking cases because the defendant is not popular is the day we shut the firm’s doors”—to the reader should not be underestimated. A personal lesson one of the authors learned as a young lawyer also feels undeniably invaluable, that “the worst single thing a judge can do is to wound your ego a little and make you walk out of the courtroom a little embarrassed,” nothing more.  

Humor is suitably and occasionally effectively utilized in the book. One cannot help but chuckle with amusement upon reading a strategically humorous episode where the authors shrewdly engineered the ensnaring of a third and particularly cunning stealth juror during the jury selection  process of the Scott Peterson trial. The lighthearted manner to which humor is injected into the discussion of a very real problem within the criminal justice system also made the issue that much more palatable for those involved—the clever dubbing of the term “police memory syndrome” (PMS) along with the use of highly suggestive words “magic” and “spell” in describing it. Humor is similarly rather shrewdly used in another instance to comment on snippets of truth that might be especially hard for veterans of, and those highly vested in, the industry to stomach. In outlining the ironic counterproductive effects of the hardline stance of being tough on crime, the authors wrote, “The rest of the country looks at California and wonders how it is that whatever current Hollywood ‘it girl’ gets in trouble and is sentenced to jail, she instead ends up at home within days of sentencing. Why? Because California is tough on crime.”

The authors could have expanded upon certain promising observations or statements made with further evidence or corroboration. The statement “there is a definitive correlation between a dry wit and judicial excellence” is indeed intriguing and represent a potentially riveting area of research-driven exploration. The lack of follow-up corroboration however, in addition to the lack of supporting evidence makes the assertion rather forgettable and even dubious. The book could also have been improved or made even more instructive should the authors actually furnish appropriate substantiation upon making interesting statements such as “cops are allowed by law to lie to suspects,” or “we, on the other hand, mock Texas, where a death penalty case is shorter than most California traffic ticket trials.” 

Sarcasm is employed considerably in the book. Only at one particular instance at the beginning of the book that the sarcasm used seemed to overstep the boundaries and chip away at the authors’ credibility. Consider the following, “The capper (we hope) was when [Keith Ablow] announced in 2011 that parents should not let their children watch Chaz Bono on Dancing with the Stars because they might turn gay. Parents should probably be more worried that their children might watch Dr. Ablow on Fox News and turn stupid.” This particular instance of sarcasm seemed unduly blunt and on the offensive, but it surely would not seem to be too perturbing considering the plentiful merits observed in the rest of the book. 

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated to the publisher nor the author of the book. This book review is the result of my personal reading and honest opinion.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

REVIEW: "Rights Gone Wrong: How Law Corrupts the Struggle for Equality" by Richard Thompson Ford

Book Review by Sapphire Ng

Rights Gone Wrong: How Law Corrupts the Struggle for Equality 
by Richard Thompson Ford
Copyright October 2012
Paperback, 288 Pages

This book is uncannily shrewd; it is in a league of its own with its plentiful offerings of unorthodox perspectives, profound arguments, piercing observations and refreshing legal reasoning. The prospective reader might need to perform mental gymnastics to successfully navigate through this book—an absolute treasure consisting of intellectually stimulating analyses and discussions of legal instances which the author considers illustrative of “rights gone wrong.” 

This book is indeed exceptionally entertaining and enjoyable in the hands of the right reader. This book also laudably makes one think—a rare and precious quality. The reader has to get his or her mind churning in order to fully appreciate the cerebral arguments raised. Certain intellectual discoveries to be made turn out to be so astonishingly unexpected that they could thus be seared memorably in one’s mind. 

Knowledge of or a background in law is not necessary to peruse this book; the easy readability and great accessibility of legal concepts and arguments make the title ideal for the general reader, who will enjoy a privileged and occasionally fun glimpse into the seemingly elusive legal sphere and its battalion of noteworthy cases. The reader is offered a pragmatic look at the complex mechanism of the law, the formidable extent to which the discipline of law could be, and the challenges of formulating effective legislations. The general reader could surely further benefit from reading this book by gaining the opportunity to gauge one’s affinity for, or even to acclimatize oneself to, seemingly idiosyncratic legal reasoning.

This is a fascinating read for pre-law students, and potentially invigorating for future law students. The selection of legal cases cited and examined in the book whets the appetite and provides ample fodder to jumpstart personal research into the law. The sound analyses and evaluations of legislations and phenomena in the book also make the book serviceable to aspiring students of politics or policy; the analytical process underlying the arguments is an art and skill in itself. Those seeking a reasonably challenging academic workout for the mind ought to consider this book as well. 

Discussions of the convoluted legal implications of the Ricci v. DeStefano case, the counterproductive Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), and the engrossing details of the class action suit Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes are representative of the delightfully interesting content in the book. It is certainly curious that the Wal-Mart plaintiffs insisted “decentralization and subjective job criteria”—supposedly “legitimate and effective management styles”—to be “inherently discriminatory.” The Ricci case brought forth a labyrinth of incongruous circumstances—the City of New Haven got sued for violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 upon carrying out a series of actions intended to actually avoid such a violation; a decision borne out of the intention to avoid committing disparate-impact discrimination was in fact distorted into a case of allegedly having committed disparate-treatment discrimination. 

It is beyond astounding to learn of well-intentioned but potentially counterproductive legislations such as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the previously mentioned ADEA. One is left speechless to learn that the ADEA, in its purported aim to protect aged job seekers, in fact “probably encouraged employers to discriminate against older job applicants” due to the greater risks and costs hereby involved in such a hire, and encouraged litigation amongst the presently employed elderly over issues of promotion and termination, and more. It is also somewhat disturbing to be made aware of instances where self-serving members of society have attempted to abuse the IDEA, therefore perversely turning a law designed “to help the disabled and needy” to “a giveaway for the rich and greedy.” Yet another excellently addressed concept in the book pertains to the legal defense bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ), of which was interestingly illustrated through cases involving companies such as the Playboy Club and Hooters, and corresponding decisions that determined whether sex is or is not a BFOQ for the jobs of Playboy Bunnies or Hooters Girls.

Commentary in the book on unexpected ramifications of prominent rulings or legislations are comparably outstanding. Given the prevailing consensus of reverence shown toward the historic Brown v. Board of Education ruling, one might never have imagined that Brown could ever be referred to as “a cautionary tale of the limitations and hazards of legal rights, a story of rights gone wrong,” a position which the author convincingly corroborated. Similarly, the author boldly supported his conviction that rights to women’s equality have sometimes only unfortunately reinforced “chauvinistic condescension and women’s isolation.”

A handful of observations noted in the book strike one as being distinctly astute, thus further perpetuating the intellectual vibe of the book. It was an absolute joy to read the author’s elucidation of certain peculiar or even provocative statements he made such as “poor schools are inherently discriminatory,” and “cheating an [elder] employee of his pension doesn’t involve anti-elderly bias,” or even his efforts at highlighting what he considered a contentious logic, “discrimination is discrimination,” by offering an analogy that equated the harm of “offering your seat on the bus to a woman because of her sex” to “making black people stand in the back of the bus because of their race.”

In addition to excellent analyses of the “aimless activism” of, male chauvinism and contradictions that plagued the Million Man March demonstration, or the engaging discussion of the black identity crisis that Barack Obama seemed to embody, this book certainly consistently delivers and surpasses expectations. 

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated to the publisher nor the author of the book. This book review is the result of my personal reading and honest opinion.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Sapphire Ng | Berklee Guitar Styles Skills - Jazz (Week 15) SPRING 2016 [Class Materials & Concepts]

Guitar Styles Skills - Jazz

Berklee College of Music
SPRING 2016 Semester

Class Teacher: John Baboian

[Week 15]

Today we will be jamming over "Freddie The Freeloader" by Miles Davis. And John posed us a question: Since the melody of the tune is really simple, what could we do to make it more interesting. One of the answers was harmonization, yes we could harmonize the melody; or even play the melody in different octaves. And the goal for this tune is to play the "out" sounds.

We played the melody through the form of the tune, and then every student in the class got 2 choruses to solo over. John's feedback for me, after our first round of improvisations was that I needed to play more "out" sounds. For another student, John also gave the feedback that it seemed the student appeared a little hesitant to go into playing "out" sounds, and the student replied by saying that he did not want to play "out" sounds just randomly, he wanted to "practice more" before he did it.

And then we were asked to attempt a second round of solos, each of us getting only one chorus of the tune this time. Haha after our first solos, I heard a student say that he just moved a half step up or down to get the "out" sounds, so this time round I tried that method instead of the one I was using. To get the "out" sounds, I would play using the dominant 7th arpeggio fingering for B7 instead of Bb7 in order to get the "out" sounds, and then only returning and "resolving" back into the sound of Bb7. 

After our second attempts at soloing to "Freddie The Freeloader," John told me that I sort of started playing the "out" sounds a little too early in my solo. Haha so apparently I over-compensated, because I wanted to play more "out" sounds, I ended up started playing them too early even before I really established the diatonic sound for the Bb7 chord in the progression. Next time I should dwell on the diatonic sound longer before I start playing using, for example, the B7 arpeggio. There was an upside to my second improvisation though, John said the "last four bars" of my solo was really nice hahaha LOL.

It was interesting to hear other students solo over the same tune and using their own unique ways to create "out" sounds. John later highlighted a student who did something really interesting: In order to magnify the degree of "out"ness, not only the student played out-sounding notes, he combined those notes with rhythms that created an effect of rhythmic polyrhythm against the groove of the accompaniment rhythm that further emphasized the "out"ness of the sound. It was really cool.  

John actually used an analogy that is pretty fun and funny to illustrate the degree of "out" sounds we are comfortable with and want to incorporate into our solos. He compared it to how much salt you want to add into your food, certain people prefer more, others prefer less. It is up to us to decide the amount and degree of "out" sounds we want in our solos, our freedom and our choice. 

Concepts/content covered in class:

~ We were given the handout "Stella By Sustain," which is actually a title spin from the tune "Stella by Starlight" composed by Victor Young. "Stella By Sustain" contains rhythm slashes to the progression of the tune. John mentioned as well that for any chords we see here, we are free to add any tensions we want to embellish the chords, though we would have to ensure the tensions work well with the melody of the tune. For this case however, we are not working with melodies, so we may not need to consider the melody when considering tensions. Immediately, we were asked to play the rhythms as notated together as a class. 

[An interesting thing John mentioned was that we could use an exercise like this to practice specific chord types or voicings. To practice specific chord voicings systematically, we could set rules for ourselves, for example:
—We would play through all the notated rhythms in the handout using only drop 2 voicings occupying the first four strings of the guitar, i.e. the 1st string to the 4th string.
—We could play using only drop 2 voicings in the middle set of strings of the guitar, i.e. the 2nd string to the 5th string.
—We could also choose to practice drop 3 voicings, and force ourselves to only play the voicings that have a bass note on the 6th string of the guitar, and the rest of the notes on the 4th, 3rd and 2nd strings. 
This practice method will allow us to discover and play voicings that otherwise we would not play on a routine basis. 

[John also drew our attention to the F13(b9) chord found on bar 30 in the lead sheet. He immediately held the chord at the 1st fret of the guitar, and then every student in the class followed. We may choose to omit the bass note on the 6th string if we prefer, and just play the voicing on the first 4 strings of the guitar. Play the "Gb" note equivalent to the b9 on the 2nd fret of the 1st string, "D" note which is the 13th of the chord on the 3rd fret on the 2nd string, the "A" note which is the 3rd of the chord on the 2nd fret of the 3rd string, and then the "Eb" note which is the b7th on the 1st fret on the 4th string of the guitar. Otherwise, we can also choose to insert the bass and root note of the chord, the "F" note on the 1st fret of the 6th string.]

~ "Large Intervals & Important Notes - Stella By Starlight." John said that apart from two instances within the notation (in bar 2 where the "D" note comes after a "C" note, and in bar 5 where the "C" note comes after a "Bb" note), all other intervals written are greater than the minor 3rd interval. Again John refreshed our minds that when we practice scales, we merely become good at playing intervals of 2nds, and when we play arpeggios we practice playing intervals of 3rds. Along with a previous lesson where John focused us on practicing intervals of 4ths, he said this exercise is an augmentation to that and covers a range of greater intervals that we otherwise might not play so often. 

[John asked the class to just play a simple bassline over which he will demonstrate playing what was notated, and we can focus on the sound of the notes. I really love the sound, it is rather unusual and I think the unusual is really cool. After that John drew our attention to the interesting triplets in bar 14 which contains the chords E-7(b5) and A7(b9).

[Moving onto the "Important Notes" part of the handout, John very swiftly called out notes from the bars and asked us to identify the tensions relative to the respective chords. At the second bar, the "D" not is the 11th of A7b9; In bar 3, the "D" note is the 9th of C-7; In bar 4, the "D" note is the 13th of F7, and the "G" note is the 9th; In bar 5, similarly the "G" note is the 9th of F-7, while the "Bb" note is the 11th of F-7; Moving onto bar 6, the "G" note is the 13th of Bb7, the "C" note the 9th, and so on.]

Class Homework:

Final exams on the following Tuesday:
~Prepare a solo transcription; 
~Practice improvisation to a tune (that is not a blues—John initially said that since "Freddie The Freeloader" is a blues tune, it will not be allowed to be chosen as an option. He however changed his mind and said that if we highlighted very clearly the Ab7 chord that stands out in the tune, we can play that tune.)

Class Materials/Handouts:

~ "Stella By Sustain"

"Large Intervals & Important Notes - Stella By Starlight"

Monday, 6 March 2017

BLOG TOUR: "Just the Essentials: How Essential Oils Can Heal Your Skin, Improve Your Health, and Detox Your Life" by Adina Grigore

Book Review by Sapphire Ng

Just the Essentials: How Essential Oils Can Heal Your Skin, Improve Your Health, and Detox Your Life
by Adina Grigore
Harper Wave
Copyright March 2017
Hardcover, 240 Pages

An introductory book on essential oils ideal for DIY enthusiasts eager to embark upon the journey of incorporating essential oils into their lives and revel in their own essential oil concoctions. This reasonably informative book conspicuously and commendably presents the basics of essential oils, a potentially daunting and complex subject matter, in a highly accessible, easily understandable and effortlessly readable way.  

The assortment of interesting recipes and their easy-to-follow instructions included make the book most useful to DIY lovers. The reader primarily seeking an informational text on essential oils without the intention of necessarily applying the DIY projects furnished in the book however might potentially find the book to be less of a valuable purchase. Intriguing pieces of information and excellent content are certainly presented in distinctly digestible and relevant ways to the consumer, including the restructuring of fundamental information of for example, the constituents of essential oils. The free availability of huge amounts of information on the internet on this subject matter—though requiring more targeted research in certain cases—in addition to the retail price of this book however make it seem rather costly for one not intending to utilize the recipes. 

Arguably the most interesting chapters in the book are chapters 7 “The Beginner’s Top Ten” and 8 “It’s Time to DIY.” The practicable content and creative ideas make these chapters particularly outstanding. In chapter 8 for example, brief but interesting descriptions accompanied each carrier oil discussed, namely jojoba oil, sweet almond oil, coconut oil, avocado oil and more. Fun DIY ideas included are also segmented into categories of skincare, perfume, personal care, home care, and aromatherapy.

The reader could choose to concoct a Choco-Mint Dry Shampoo if she or he would absolutely love to “smell like a mint chocolate bar all day!” Or create formulations by the names of Marvin Gaye Massage Oil or Sweet-and-Spicy Body Scrub. One could learn to make Candles for the Four Seasons, such as Vanilla Citronella for the summer. A rather visually appealing and easy-to-reference chart informs the reader on essential oils as allocated to the different categories of fragrance scents—floral, herbal, spicy, woodsy, or citrus. One would also get the opportunity to utilize recipes for essential oil projects which the author assigned eccentric names such as “Dude” Perfume, or I-Gotta-Barf Blend, and re-create the exotic-sounding Mediterranean Cuticle Soak, or the Non-Greasy Beard Oil. 

The book laudably includes pieces of information likely deemed to be highly interesting to its readers. One is warned to check a DIY perfume for signs of molding, and was informed that “you would need to drink more than twenty-eight cups of peppermint tea to match the potency of one drop of peppermint oil.” One learns of the potency of French green clay in clearing pores, and the aromatherapeutic potential of eucalyptus oil and peppermint oil. One is also very fittingly warned of the superficiality of essential oil “grades” in their indication, if at all, of actual quality, and informed of distinctions that could clear up confusion between clary sage and sage oil, or sweet orange oil and bitter orange oil. 

“Mommy[s]-To-Be” are gifted with a dedicated and brief table listing “Safe Oils” for them, and general advice is also given pertaining to using essential oils on or diffusing them around a baby. Some other especially practicable content in the book relate to terms to look out for whilst browsing essential oils, the likes of “steam-distilled” or “cold-pressed,” and a brief mention of unsafe “oils that shouldn’t really be part of anyone’s routine”—sassafras, elecampane, cassia and more. 

The author’s freehanded and seemingly unrestrained expression of her quirkiness especially in part I of the book is potentially problematic. The bountiful insertions of personal, and possibly unnecessary, commentary in parentheses is especially irritating for those who might expect a more professional approach adopted in the book. Example instances include “Young Living, one of the companies at the top of the essential oil food chain, reported sales of over $1 billion in 2015. (That’s buh-billion.);” “Why did the Taylor Swift of the oil kingdom make it onto my top ten list?…it’s impossible to deny how amazing lavender oil is. (Just like it’s impossible to deny the amazingness that is TayTay. Or is that just me?);” “So while we’ll never know if [frankincense] cures the bubonic plague (or if Harry Potter could have used it against Dementors), we do know those doctors were definitely onto something;” “In one story, Jesus forgives a woman her sins after she gives him a foot massage with essential oil. (Who wouldn’t have?)” 

Such commentary seemed more suited for conversational contexts. Whilst such stream of consciousness comments could be considered to be merely harmlessly out of place, these unwarranted comments however unfortunately undermine the author’s credibility. And especially so when slipped into chapters supposedly elucidating for example, the history of essential oils or that which aim to deliver scientific and/or factual information. Along with the use of colloquial expressions such as “what the eff”—in the sentence “So what the eff are essential oils anyway?”—, “uh” and “you know,” part I of the book seems set on imprinting on the reader a lasting bad impression. 

The tone employed by the author in part I of the book also seemed to be almost too self-promotional. Apart from shamelessly referring to her own book as “this kickass book” and making conspicuous promises— “By the end of this book, I promise you that you’ll be in awe of the magic of plant extracts;” “So, basically, no matter who you are, you’re also going to find this book really fun. I promise”—, the author tawdrily said the following, “Consider me the new PR person for essential oils, because I want to give them a makeover and turn them into stars. If essential oils were a baby Justin Bieber, I would be their Usher.” 

Whilst mentions of her own company could certainly be appropriate, the coupling however with overly overt positioning of herself as the be-all and end-all solution to the reader’s concerns and problems seemed too reminiscent of sales pitching in business settings. The author said, “But that doesn’t mean the research [on essential oils] doesn’t exist. It’s just been waiting for me to come along and tell you all about it.” Such a self-promotional stance and tone adopted by the author early on in the book only persuades the reader, though potentially false, that this book is merely another vehicle to promote her company and gain new customers. The self-laudatory comments in the introduction to chapter 8 of the book was also rather appalling. In addressing “DIY junkies” who “skipped the first seven chapters and are just now joining us,” the author proclaimed the presence of “hilarious jokes!” and “pretty amazing” chapters that these readers might have missed. 

The author appeared to commit an earnest mistake for assuming the following, “For me, if it’s not easy, I’m probably not gonna do it, and I’m going to take a leap of faith and assume the same rule applies to you.” It seemed rather unprofessional on the part of the author, who positioned herself as an authority of the subject matter, and not to mention in addition to the exaggerated claims and promises she made, to make such a sweeping statement and potentially alienate a demographic of readers interested in learning slightly more elaborate or more challenging concoctions. In the context of a book, as opposed to for example during daily interactions with clients, such a generalization seemed even less justifiable. 

The abundant inclusion of mostly decorative and sometimes exemplifying illustrations in the book invites interpretation. The unmistakably reassuring tone of address employed particularly in part I of the book and the book’s contents reinforce the impression that the book primarily targets mothers, working women, and females in general, some of whom possibly exhibit signs of stress and anxiety. The plentiful illustrations in the book seem to hint at the book doubling as entertainment and distraction to relieve the reader of stress. The illustrations also very noticeably beautify the book and help keep the reader engaged and interested.

On the other hand, the fact that a majority of the illustrations in the book are primarily ornamental and not particularly necessary might be a subtle acknowledgement of an uncomfortable truth. A particularly revealing question was included in the Essential Oil FAQs section right at the end of the book, “Can you please just tell me where to start? This book is too long and I skipped to this section.” Also as previously mentioned, the author conceded to the possibility of “DIY junkies” skipping the “first seven chapters” and heading straight to chapter 8 which contains the bulk of DIY projects. As such, this seems to imply the acceptance of the potential primary value and functionality of the book as a resource for DIY recipes despite the dedication of a sizable number of chapters to foundational information about essential oils, thereby indicating that extra incentives might be required in the form of visually appealing distractions—the illustrations—just to motivate its target audience to trudge through the predominantly informational chapters preceding the holy grail. 

Considering that this is an uncorrected proof, the book unsurprisingly contains editing errors. Instances including a duplicated subsection, a disjointed table, and typical errors are expected to be resolved by the book’s official release. It is however confusing to the reviewer that this book seemed to be composed of two distinct writing styles and tone, with part I of the book hugely contrasting with the rest of the book. The reviewer is left speculating whether it is the case or not that the entire book, except for part I, has gone through an additional round of editing. 

In the event of the official published version, especially part I, of the book containing chiefly proofread corrections without addressing potential problematic areas as mentioned above, it might be safe to say that part I of the book indeed does not do justice to the quality content delivered in the rest of the book. At its worst, the reader might form a premature perception of the entire book as similarly flawed as part I, thereby bypassing this book and opting instead for a competing title. 

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from HarperCollins and TLC Book Tours for this review.