Though the writing isn’t notable, the author comes across as genuine, and some of her vignettes are genuinely entertaining.

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GRIN AND BEAR IT

HOW TO BE HAPPY NO MATTER WHAT REALITY THROWS YOUR WAY

Frank memoir by debut author Pulos, a regular on the Bravo reality TV shows Flipping Out and Interior Therapy.

Known for her seemingly endless patience and sweet nature as the calm assistant to her obsessive, hot-tempered boss, realtor Jeff Lewis, on Flipping Out, Pulos pulls no punches in her autobiography-cum–self-help guide. Hers, she declares, is a “ ‘don't give up’/‘hang in there’/‘you can learn to be happy’/‘keep going’/‘own your own flaws’/‘succeed anyway’ book,” and her first tenet is to “tell the truth about yourself.” To that end, with the assistance of veteran co-author Morton (co-author, with Al Roker: Never Goin' Back: Winning the Weight-Loss Battle For Good, 2012, etc.), Pulos lays out the personal lows and highs from her life, including her then-husband ending their marriage on national TV. She also looks back at her successful career in entertainment, which followed being told that she was destined for Hollywood failure. Pulos' confessions and insights possess a disposition that's simultaneously sunny side up and self-deprecating. Her talent for revealing herself and laughing about her mistakes is endearing; her candid sharing of her foibles and embarrassments makes her triumphs, in love and work, feel earned. Her overarching story is one of self-transformation, specifically how she changed from playing small in order to please people, including those who underestimated her, into a woman who takes ownership of her life and happiness. Having embraced imperfections and mistakes dating back to her childhood (embarrassing photos included), Pulos laughs easily. Despite her insistence that this is not a how-to book, the author includes numerous lists, tips, sidebars and inspirational quotes from historical figures.

Though the writing isn’t notable, the author comes across as genuine, and some of her vignettes are genuinely entertaining.

Pub Date: March 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-250-02819-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2014

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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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The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.

THE LAWS OF HUMAN NATURE

A follow-on to the author’s garbled but popular 48 Laws of Power, promising that readers will learn how to win friends and influence people, to say nothing of outfoxing all those “toxic types” out in the world.

Greene (Mastery, 2012, etc.) begins with a big sell, averring that his book “is designed to immerse you in all aspects of human behavior and illuminate its root causes.” To gauge by this fat compendium, human behavior is mostly rotten, a presumption that fits with the author’s neo-Machiavellian program of self-validation and eventual strategic supremacy. The author works to formula: First, state a “law,” such as “confront your dark side” or “know your limits,” the latter of which seems pale compared to the Delphic oracle’s “nothing in excess.” Next, elaborate on that law with what might seem to be as plain as day: “Losing contact with reality, we make irrational decisions. That is why our success often does not last.” One imagines there might be other reasons for the evanescence of glory, but there you go. Finally, spin out a long tutelary yarn, seemingly the longer the better, to shore up the truism—in this case, the cometary rise and fall of one-time Disney CEO Michael Eisner, with the warning, “his fate could easily be yours, albeit most likely on a smaller scale,” which ranks right up there with the fortuneteller’s “I sense that someone you know has died" in orders of probability. It’s enough to inspire a new law: Beware of those who spend too much time telling you what you already know, even when it’s dressed up in fresh-sounding terms. “Continually mix the visceral with the analytic” is the language of a consultant’s report, more important-sounding than “go with your gut but use your head, too.”

The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-42814-5

Page Count: 580

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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