A fun memoir by a man who’s grown old without growing grumpy.

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GEEZING ALONG AT 80

LIVING, LOVING AND LAUGHING AFTER 80

An octogenarian takes a lighthearted view of questions he faces in his 80s, such as “How Have I Lived So Long, Yet Learnt So Little?”

Debut memoirist Anastasi has accomplished what only a skilled writer in the genre can do—hook the reader with a purely personal life story that in less capable hands might have interested only family and friends. He’s writing for his cohort and those on the cusp of it as well as for young people who, he notes, consider themselves immortal—so, pretty much everyone. Anastasi tells an amusing tale in a format that fits him to a T: a mixture of memoir and musings that recount some of his exploits in the impish voice of the rascal he clearly was in his school days. A former writer for the Army and sportswriter at the old Washington Daily News, he hasn’t lost his touch for punchy writing. (When someone says at an open-coffin visitation that the decedent “looks so good,” Anastasi muses, “Well, I’ve seen him looking better!”) His sense of humor aside, his book has serious passages about widespread concerns, among them health, personal connections, and insomnia. Anastasi also touches lightly on his work as a public information officer for the federal government, which led to his writing a Mother’s Day speech for President Gerald R. Ford. He takes some contrary stances that are hard to argue with, such as that people his age have earned the right to eat and say anything they want and to skip exercise. Something of an icon among the 80-plus crowd, Anastasi proudly says that his photo was on the cover of GQ—not the tony men’s magazine but Geezer Quarterly. Anecdotes highlight his Italian American perspective, including a wry critique of various styles of pre-funeral viewings of the deceased. Family snapshots bring to life the memories in a book that, with just 73 pages, is a breezy read.

A fun memoir by a man who’s grown old without growing grumpy.

Pub Date: April 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-916467-92-7

Page Count: 103

Publisher: L.R. Price Publications Ltd

Review Posted Online: March 26, 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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UNTAMED

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.

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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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