Delightful vignettes about caring for animals large and small in the West make this book an enjoyable and satisfying read.

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Animals Don't Blush

An entertaining memoir recalls the beginning of a veterinarian’s career in the early 1960s in Montana.

In June 1960, immediately after graduation, newly minted veterinarian Gross (Travels with Charlize, 2015) left his native Arizona with his wife of two months, Rosalie, and headed north to the sprawling hinterlands of Sidney, Montana. Eager to gain practical experience, the young associate county veterinarian jumped enthusiastically into 10- and 12-hour days, plus alternate weekends, dividing his time between the Sidney Animal Hospital and “house” calls to horse and cattle ranches within a 40- or 50-mile radius. Charm, wit, and an obvious affection for his patients permeate the pages of this volume, originally released in 2011. A healthy dose of humor, self-deprecating and otherwise, adds welcome levity to some graphic, detailed descriptions of the medical procedures Gross performed. Today, many of us associate veterinarians with doctors who tend to our furry or feathered companions, but the bulk of Gross’ stint in Montana was spent treating large animals: horses, cattle, and pigs. This required physical strength as well as medical competence. Veterinary medicine has progressed in the 50-plus years since Gross ventured out of Phoenix, but in 1960, vets performed much of the care for large animals without anesthesia. Imagine the job of drawing blood from a not-too-willing, wide-awake bull or castrating 16 recently captured wild horses. Gross recounts his particular fondness for the small animals he treated, especially dogs—Skipper the border collie, who got caught by a lawn mower, and Frick and Frack, two bluetick hounds with faces full of porcupine quills. Bringing everything into sharper focus are the vivid depictions of the countryside and the ranchers of Richland County, Montana, and the Badlands of North Dakota. The author peppers his account with a bit too much technical jargon, but he is an articulate observer, and he knows how to tell a compelling story.

Delightful vignettes about caring for animals large and small in the West make this book an enjoyable and satisfying read. 

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-940598-81-9

Page Count: 268

Publisher: Book Publishers Network

Review Posted Online: Nov. 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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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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