A soulful account of Western vistas and New Age mantras.



American travel writer Nealson (New Mexico’s Sanctuaries, Retreats, and Sacred Places, 2014, etc.) shares her tales of life on the road in North America and Mexico.

The author and her husband decided to chuck it all and “trade real estate for wheel estate.” So they sold their home, bought a recreational vehicle that they dubbed “Tortuga,” and set out for parts (mostly) unknown. Traveling up and down the West Coast, from British Columbia to Mexico, they visited various friends along the way and made occasional side trips to famous places, such as the Grand Canyon. They also made new friends, buried a pet, had RV trouble, took hikes, and learned that life on the road is not without occasional bumps. The author was soon reminded of some early advice that she received in a chat room when she was first considering the RV life: “You’d better darned well like the person you’re with because you’re going to sit across a small table and look at him every day.” Nealson is a colorful writer, particularly when describing some bit of nature that’s caught her eye or ear, as when she tells of one peaceful morning having “Meadowlark surround-sound.” She can also be quite funny: at one campground in the Southwest, she notes that watching the other RV-ers is like watching her own “personal episode from The Beverly Hillbillies.” She quotes witticisms from George Carlin and Oscar Wilde, as well. However, she’s also prone to using New Age-y jargon, including many references to the “Creatrix,” which may not appeal to every reader. Still, there’s a lot of wisdom here: “Why,” she wonders, “was it some pushed back and others pushed over, content with the status quo?” And she’s certainly no pushover herself: whether she’s facing a mother bear and her cubs or the painful reality that her marriage may be in trouble, she always jumps in with an adventurous spirit and an open heart.

A soulful account of Western vistas and New Age mantras.

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4782-9135-0

Page Count: 226

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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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 Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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