An engaging, meticulously observed journey that brings other cultures alive.

Lost, Kidnapped, Eaten Alive!


A collection of tales about the author’s exotic travels and culinary adventures.

Studying endangered lemurs in Madagascar, sampling the world’s most expensive coffee in Indonesia and licking an ant’s butt in Australia—these are just some of the adventures King has enjoyed while traveling the world. Here, she puts these and other exotic experiences together in an engaging, breezy collection of essays, barely pausing for breath as her lively curiosity takes her to another adventure. “This is why I love to travel: It shakes me out of my routine, provides endless opportunities for experiencing the world anew, and gets right up in my face with tangible evidence that there are many ways to live one’s life,” she says. King isn’t interested in painting broad pictures of the places she visits; her essays are vignettes that, through the accumulation of closely observed details, provide a window into other cultures and ways of life. A bird sanctuary in Costa Rica is a “tropical madhouse” where “[r]oosters crow at midnight”; an Australian tree is known as “lawyer cane” because, “once hooked by the thorns on this pitiless plant, one is as irretrievably entangled as if involved in the legal process”; in a Kenyan village, cow pies cover the earth “like a three-dimensional carpet.” The author has a particular passion for food; her description of various meals in the Apulia region of Italy is enough to make hungry gourmets salivate. The “silky sauce” of a pasta dish was “intensely flavored with lobster and peppered with small pieces of the sweet seafood.” On a somewhat less hedonistic note, King’s travels also inspire her to ruminate on the challenges of environmental conservation—development in Madagascar is destroying the habitat of lemurs—and her own mortality. A tour of Paris, she says, “had shown me how to celebrate death, how to embrace it with reliquaries and taxidermy and catacombs.” As for those ants, she reports, “The taste was like mixing the intense fizz of an Alka-Seltzer with tangy lime sherbet.”

An engaging, meticulously observed journey that brings other cultures alive.

Pub Date: Oct. 14, 2014


Page Count: 264

Publisher: Destination Insights

Review Posted Online: June 13, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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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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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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