Tough love, life lessons, and biting wit combine smoothly with spunky self-help in this must-have for podcast “Murderinos.”




Timely advice and personal anecdotes from the My Favorite Murder true-crime podcast duo.

In an effective combination of in-your-face realism and plucky humor, sitcom writer Kilgariff and former Cooking Channel host Hardstark deliver the details on navigating life with a tough skin, providing nuanced autobiographical stories and familial memories. In alternating segments, they share the details of their up-and-down pasts, which helped to shape them into the formidable and successful women they remain today. Kilgariff contributes anecdotes from a youth scarred by her mother’s premature death from early-onset Alzheimer’s; later, she dealt with an escalating drinking habit. Sharing the wisdom they’ve collected, the authors offer hard-won truths about themselves as well as timeless reminders about self-care, life balance, relationships, substance abuse, and the restorative power of “kindred spirit” friendships like the one they share. Hardstark writes that though the humanitarian need to help others might come naturally, it should never be done at the expense of one’s personal safety, especially for women: “The politeness that we’re raised to prioritize, first and foremost, against our better judgment and whether we feel like being polite or not, is the perfect systematically ingrained personality trait for manipulative, controlling people to exploit.” She connects this wisdom with memories of her rebellious adolescence observing her divorced mother’s toxic dating life while fully embracing the staunch Riot Grrrl scene (“feminism…delivered in a punk rock package”). A lack of self-esteem led to a sketchy encounter with a lecherous photographer and future psychotherapy sessions to process issues and reboot her psyche. Infused with personality, charm, and clever banter, the narrative effectively reflects both authors’ separate histories, and they helpfully dispense plenty of worldly advice on how to survive with a street-smart attitude and a fierce sense of self-preservation.

Tough love, life lessons, and biting wit combine smoothly with spunky self-help in this must-have for podcast “Murderinos.”

Pub Date: May 28, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-17895-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Forge

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2019

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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 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 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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