Angry, self-aggrandizing, bilious and barely readable.

SEVEN DEADLY SINS

SETTLING THE ARGUMENT BETWEEN BORN BAD AND DAMAGED GOOD

Hang out with a pretentious, ranting metal rocker for 250-pages.

Taylor’s band Slipknot developed a cult following during the late ’90s and early 2000s, in part due to their over-the-top theatricality, and it's this sense of melodrama that permeates what is likely the worst rock autobiography in recent memory. Taylor, the band's lead singer, has lived the prototypical rock-star life: tough upbringing, rises from obscurity, drowns in alcohol, drugs and sex, hits rock bottom, gets sober, etc. Since the author’s story is thin and not particularly interesting or original, he bulks up his memoir with pseudo-philosophical screeds about, as readers will guess from the clichéd title, the Seven Deadly Sins. Of sloth: “[it’s] a simple case of strong people forgetting their nut sacks on the corner of the dresser before they leave their house in the morning.” Along with its tastelessness, one of the other problems with the book is the artless prose—the sentences are often just randomly organized words with a period at the end. If Taylor was even the slightest bit appealing or likable as a narrator, readers may have cared about his eating tips (pizza with ranch dressing is one of his faves) or his take on film (Gordon Gekko is the coolest character name in cinema history), but he's such an arrogant blowhard that even when he tries to be charming, readers will want to smack him in the face with a copy of the Keith Richards memoir (an example of a well-executed rock autobiography). At times, Taylor’s lack of self-awareness is breathtaking. In the section on lust, for instance, he writes, “If it were not for lust, half my stories would be boring wastes of breath.” Unfortunately, dear author, all of your stories are boring wastes of breath.

Angry, self-aggrandizing, bilious and barely readable.

Pub Date: July 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-306-81927-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Da Capo

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2011

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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 Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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