An ultimately triumphant chronicle of faith, sustained and deepened by tragedy.


Living while Dying


A woman’s faith helps her to cope with her diagnosed terminal illness in this debut devotional memoir.

On Oct. 8, 2007, Tarrant, then 55, was coming up on the five-year anniversary of her breast cancer diagnosis. But on this day, her oncologist told her that the disease she thought was cured had actually metastasized. Now, at stage 4, she was facing the real possibility of death. This memoir, she says, has two agendas: the first is to help others in her situation find hope; the other, “and most important of all,” she says, is to “help them find Jesus if they don’t know Him so that they, too, can live an irrationally happy life.” The mere fact that the author is alive to write this book satisfies the former. “Live the rest of life on this earth as the precious gift that it is....Enjoy what time is left to the max,” she encourages. However, Tarrant’s unflinching document of her treatment—including the “arsenal of drugs” she took, and their often debilitating side effects—is perhaps more valuable than sincerely written platitudes. She also addresses the psychological toll of the devastating discussions she had about her illness. For example, at one point, during a family conversation with her doctor, her son asked, “How long will I have my mom?” After receiving the answer, Tarrant thought, “There it was, finally out in the open—the number of years I had left to live.” However, her unquestioning faith in God sustained her throughout: “I must put all my trust and faith in Him,” she proclaims. This aspect of the book may keep secular readers from embracing it, as they may feel that it sometimes has a hectoring tone (“Get right with God. If you are not living a full and complete Christian life, now is the time to change”). It also might have been interesting if the author had provided more explanation of her trust in God as she wrestled with each setback, including a climactic, crushing blow. But when she affirms at one point that “I know that this truly is part of God’s plan,” that will be enough for many readers.

An ultimately triumphant chronicle of faith, sustained and deepened by tragedy.

Pub Date: April 19, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4908-2557-1

Page Count: 216

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2016

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An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.


The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

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Honest messages from one of America's best known women.


A compilation of advice from the Queen of All Media.

After writing a column for 14 years titled “What I Know For Sure” for O, The Oprah Winfrey Magazine, Winfrey brings together the highlights into one gift-ready collection. Grouped into themes like Joy, Resilience, Connection, Gratitude, Possibility, Awe, Clarity and Power, each short essay is the distilled thought of a woman who has taken the time to contemplate her life’s journey thus far. Whether she is discussing traveling across the country with her good friend, Gayle, the life she shares with her dogs or building a fire in the fireplace, Winfrey takes each moment and finds the good in it, takes pride in having lived it and embraces the message she’s received from that particular time. Through her actions and her words, she shows readers how she's turned potentially negative moments into life-enhancing experiences, how she's found bliss in simple pleasures like a perfectly ripe peach, and how she's overcome social anxiety to become part of a bigger community. She discusses the yo-yo dieting, exercise and calorie counting she endured for almost two decades as she tried to modify her physical body into something it was not meant to be, and how one day she decided she needed to be grateful for each and every body part: "This is the body you've been given—love what you've got." Since all of the sections are brief and many of the essays are only a couple paragraphs long—and many members of the target audience will have already read them in the magazine—they are best digested in short segments in order to absorb Winfrey's positive and joyful but repetitive message. The book also features a new introduction by the author.

Honest messages from one of America's best known women.

Pub Date: Sept. 2, 2014

ISBN: 978-1250054050

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Flatiron View Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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