Biography & Memoir Book Reviews

Snapshots from my Uneventful Life by David I. Aboulafia
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Aug. 7, 2015

"The funny bits in this Everyman's true-life stories will remind readers to look on the bright side of life."
Debut author Aboulafia highlights absurd and memorable events from his life in humorous autobiographical essays. Read full book review >
MESS by Barry Yourgrau
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Aug. 10, 2015

"Yourgrau provides engaging company for most of that span, but the actual decluttering in the book might have taken less than a chapter."
A memoir about decluttering an apartment. Read full book review >

THE FISH LADDER by Katharine Norbury
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Aug. 11, 2015

"A beautifully written book about a journey through wild places in the landscape and the heart."
British writer Norbury's debut memoir takes readers on vigorous walks through lochs, rivers, and soggy marshes in Scotland, England, and Wales. Read full book review >
GOLD FEVER by Steve Boggan
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Aug. 11, 2015

"An engaged—but not always engaging—travel/adventure memoir."
A British journalist muses on his journey through California Gold Country. Read full book review >
PLENTY LADYLIKE by Claire McCaskill
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Aug. 11, 2015

"An uneven but quietly charming, inspiring memoir."
The first woman from Missouri elected as a U.S. senator explores how she fuses traditional notions of femininity with boldness and ambition. Read full book review >

MULTIPLY/DIVIDE by Wendy S. Walters
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Aug. 11, 2015

"A curious collection, as interesting for the way the pieces fit together as for the accomplishment of any one of them."
A poet's collection of prose that blurs the boundaries of fiction, memoir, and essay. Read full book review >
WHY I AM A SALAFI by Michael Muhammad Knight
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Aug. 11, 2015

"A vigorous treatment of how the sacred, in all its multifarious forms, continues to exercise power, even if sometimes it just feels like 'we're arguing over what the mystery god intended to say in his address to a mystic in a cave some fifteen centuries ago.'"
Knight (Tripping with Allah: Islam, Drugs, and Writing, 2013, etc.) traverses the scenic highways of Islamic history, seeking paths that connect him to Muhammad. Read full book review >
ALPHA DOCS by Daniel Muñoz
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Aug. 11, 2015

"Muñoz offers little turning of new ground in what has become a fertile genre, but the book is enjoyably idiosyncratic and elucidative."
From physician Muñoz, a chronicle of becoming a doctor at the extremely demanding Johns Hopkins cardiology program. Read full book review >
YOU'RE NEVER WEIRD ON THE INTERNET (ALMOST) by Felicia Day
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Aug. 11, 2015

"Day is delightfully good company and has an interesting story to tell, but a richer work would have made more room for a consideration of the darker aspects of geek culture."
Actress Day, best known for her "geek goddess" roles in such nerd-culture touchstones as the Web series The Guild and various Joss Whedon projects, recounts her unusual upbringing and the neuroses-strewn path that led to her obsessions with fantasy, science fiction, gaming, and online communities.Read full book review >
A WOMAN IN ARABIA by Gertrude Bell
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Aug. 11, 2015

"An impressive anthology by a scholar who knows how to separate the wheat from the chaff within the massive amount of primary source material Bell left behind at her death."
Gertrude Bell (1868-1926) shattered gender stereotypes while influencing British policy in the Middle East, particularly in the areas in and around present-day Iraq. Editor Howell (Gertrude Bell: Queen of the Desert, Shaper of Nations, 2007) brings the "female Lawrence of Arabia" to life through judicious selections from Bell's massive public writings and personal papers.Read full book review >
THE BRIDGE BUILDER by Zev Chafets
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Aug. 11, 2015

"In 2001, Eckstein self-published a fictionalized autobiography; here, Chafets furthers the rabbi's efforts to publicize and burnish his image."
Celebrating a controversial rabbi's life. Read full book review >
BROWSINGS by Michael Dirda
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Aug. 15, 2015

"Dirda's comradely essays are unfailingly informative and amusing, punctuated with poignant asides on the aging artist and paeans to great literary scholars. His almost single-minded passion, the exhilaration of a life in literature, glows on every page."
Author and literary journalist Dirda (On Conan Doyle: Or, The Whole Art of Storytelling, 2011, etc.) presents a collection of light, conversational essays drawn from a year of writing on books and book collecting for the American Scholar.Read full book review >
Kirkus Interview
Sabaa Tahir
August 4, 2015

Sabaa Tahir’s novel An Ember in the Ashes reveals a world inspired by ancient Rome and defined by brutality. Seventeen-year-old Laia has grown up with one rule for survival: Never challenge the Empire. But when Laia’s brother Darin is arrested for treason, she leaves behind everything she knows, risking her life to try and save him. She enlists help from the rebels whose extensive underground network may lead to Darin. Their help comes with a price, though. Laia must infiltrate the Empire’s greatest military academy as a spy. Elias is the Empire’s finest soldier—and its most unwilling one. Thrown together by chance and united by their hatred of the Empire, Laia and Elias will soon discover that their fates are intertwined—and that their choices may change the destiny of the entire Empire. We talk to An Ember in the Ashes author Sabaa Tahir this week on Kirkus TV. View video >