Remarkably honest, powerful, and vivid.

A Couch Named Marilyn;

MY BIG FAT MESS CALLED PTSD

In this memoir, a woman recounts her escape from an armed robber and her physical, emotional, and spiritual recovery from the experience.

In October 2008, Diana Martin was facing the stress of a tanking real estate market after having gone into business full time as a house flipper—buying, renovating, remodeling, and selling properties. She’d always paid her bills and had good credit, but with three mortgages and no buyers, she was facing foreclosure and bankruptcy. So, when a man—The Guy, as she mostly refers to him—knocked on the door, grasping one of her flyers, she was hopeful. And then she felt the handgun at her head. She fought back, getting pistol-whipped into concussion and broken teeth; the robber zip-tied her hands together and demanded money. Following an inner voice, Martin ran, screaming, and escaped, finding safety with a neighbor. In fiction, the story would be over—but as Martin ably shows in this gripping memoir, recovery from trauma is not that simple. Returning home, she notices her cats’ food bowls “filled halfway with my dark, almost black, blood….They never show that part in the movies, people cleaning up their own mess.” Having fought off one robber, Martin also had the “overpaid thieves” of Wall Street ruining her prospects. All she wanted to do was sleep on her lovely couch, named Marilyn for its seductive curves, but she had to start a new profession (which didn’t go smoothly) and endure the extended stress of The Guy’s trial. Readers will admire Martin’s tenacity, honesty, and humor, as when first confronted by The Guy: “Whoa, he wanted money from me? Get in line, buddy.” Each insight is hard-won, and Martin limns the slow process well. She also describes images from meditation that have poetic resonance. The second half of the book is perhaps overdetailed, but this can be understood: Martin commits to fully tracing the difficulties she faced. This is that rare inspirational book without a trace of pink-cloud saccharinity.

Remarkably honest, powerful, and vivid.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: BellaVista Publishing House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 10, 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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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

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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