An often fun account of a spontaneous trip through Europe.



A debut travel memoir recounts a young man’s experiences hitchhiking through Europe in 1970.

In the spring of 1970, Casper landed in Paris. The 21-year-old had a year’s worth of experience at a Chicago graphic design firm, but—inspired in part by the novels of Hemingway and W. Somerset Maugham—he decided to move to Paris and get a job at a prestigious ad agency. “I’d create great ads,” he fantasized. “I’d probably be around beautiful French models so often that I would get to know most of them and date some. If you wanted to find me, you’d check Paris’s best restaurants, cafes or nightclubs.” Needless to say, things didn’t go exactly as planned. After only a week, his job prospects already foiled, he came across an unusual business opportunity: importing sheepskin coats from Afghanistan. All Casper had to do was take the Orient Express to Kabul, buy a bunch of coats for $10 a pop, and sell them in London for $200 each. He and a friend booked tickets on the train, but they only made it as far as Istanbul before the plan fell apart. Yet the author’s escapades were not at an end. As a “Road Knight,” his improvising and hitchhiking continued through some 20 countries over the span of several months, meeting fascinating women, exploring treacherous terrain, and landing in a Dutch jail. Casper is a practiced storyteller, and he relates his experiences in conversational prose. At one point, he was on the island of Formentera, near Ibiza, Spain: “I started to become somewhat unnerved by the situation. I reminded myself that I was on a strange island in the middle of nowhere, following a group of strangers in the dark to an unknown destination, all to take part in some kind of ancient ritual that was sure to be at the very least a bit bizarre.” Interspersed throughout the book are poems by the author on related subjects, like “Paris at Night” and “The Road.” The story moves quickly thanks to Casper’s general impulsiveness, and there are some enjoyable anecdotes here. But within the context of travel writing, the memoir is not terribly sociological or emotionally revelatory. The strongest sense readers will feel by the book’s end is a desire to have a similar adventure themselves.

An often fun account of a spontaneous trip through Europe.

Pub Date: July 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4999-0563-2

Page Count: 426

Publisher: Infinity Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 26, 2020

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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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