Too much venom, not enough honey.




New York City’s "premier beekeeper" has some stories to tell.

Coté structures his book around the beekeeping calendar, one chapter per month, weaving seasonally relevant facts about bees around stories that occurred during that month. In March, for instance, the author informs readers of the “cleansing flight,” made when the weather is finally warm enough for pent-up bees to leave their hives and defecate, and the life cycle of the worker bee, as the hive ramps up its population in anticipation of spring blooms. He also documents the March 2010 debate on legalizing beekeeping in New York City and a mishap involving the relocation of several hives from western Pennsylvania to Brooklyn. This latter anecdote begins with a sneering and entirely gratuitous description of the trailer home and dilapidated equipment of the retiring Appalachian beekeeper, whom he snidely calls “the feller,” from whom he purchased some 100 hives. It concludes with his mocking account of the efforts of the inept beekeepers he sold them to. Alas, it’s scenes like this, in which Coté freely expresses his superiority to so many of the other “beeks” he encounters both in NYC and around the world, that render him a less-than-charming companion. One or two such anecdotes might be funny; 12 months’ worth grow old. So, too, do the author’s frequent references to his appearances in the media. The freely dropped celebrity names also grate (10 within three paragraphs in the prologue alone); irritatingly, he refers to both Martha Stewart and Yoko Ono, whom he “bump[s]” into when keeping bees at MoMA, by their given names, a familiarity he does not assume with male celebrities such as Paul Newman or Bill Clinton (Spike Lee is an exception). Coté has both a rambling, conversational style that can leave readers unmoored in his timeline and the bad habit of introducing beekeeping practices unlikely to be understood by general readers pages before he describes their purpose, often only elliptically. His obvious, oft-stated love for his father—his beekeeping mentor—and regard for those beekeepers he deems competent are warming, but it's not enough to remove the sour air of self-regard.

Too much venom, not enough honey.

Pub Date: June 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9904-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.


The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

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