This engaging tribute should ring a bittersweet bell with many baby boomers whose aging parents are dying.




In this memoir, a journalist shares life lessons she learned from her colorful mother.

Back in the 1970s, Giese (A Woman’s Path, 1998, etc.) felt “sorely disappointed” with her stay-at-home mother. Describing herself as a “seventies-bell-bottom-wearing, Ms. magazine-writing daughter,” the author hoped she would never be like her mom, who spent countless hours embroidering dish towels. When Giese was in her 50s, however, she looked in her closet and recognized that her clothing was very much like her mom’s. The author also realized it was not such a bad thing to be like her parent, who lived life to the fullest. Very ladylike, Giese’s mom loved to wear ruffled blouses in the ’70s yet she hosted boozy, late-night dance parties and was an amazing arm wrestler (she always won). She unconventionally asked her daughter to call her Babe because she didn’t like her given name, Gladys. And with all that embroidering, Babe transformed her daughter’s bell-bottoms into hip, flowery fashion statements that rivaled designer brands. Painting a vivid portrait of a sometimes-contentious but always loving mother-daughter relationship, this spirited memoir is divided into 13 common-sense life lessons Babe taught, like “Don’t Be Drab,” “Never Leave a Compliment Unsaid,” and “Thank-You Notes Are Never Too Plentiful.” Giese’s prose is lively, and though the entire book can be read in a couple of hours, it’s brimming with entertaining anecdotes. For example, there was the time when the author and her family moved from Seattle to Houston, and Babe had them playing games during a hurricane. “Sometimes Life Begins Again At Ninety-Five” recalls energetic Babe moving to a seniors’ community and becoming the life of the party. Many of Babe’s lessons are wise; in “Go! While You Can,” she urged her daughter to travel while she was still physically able. At almost 98, Babe gave a heartbreaking final lesson—she showed her kids how to die with dignity. Despite describing painful episodes (Babe suffered five miscarriages), Giese’s account is mostly upbeat, as she celebrates her mom’s unique personality and fulfilling life.

This engaging tribute should ring a bittersweet bell with many baby boomers whose aging parents are dying.

Pub Date: April 23, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63152-533-9

Page Count: 142

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2018

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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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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

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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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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