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A sometimes enjoyable love story hampered by treacly prose and syrupy sentiment.

Bestselling cookbook author Drummond (The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl, 2009) tells the tale of falling in love with an Oklahoma cowboy.

When she was in her mid-20s, the author left California, and a four-year relationship, seeking a new life in Chicago, with a quick stop on the way at her childhood home in Oklahoma. There her plans changed considerably, as she met a drop-dead gorgeous, steely cowboy who became known as Marlboro Man. She fell hard, enamored with his smoky voice, blue eyes and disarming chuckle, which “could quiet stormy waters. Bring about world peace.” Marlboro Man also turned out to be an admirable guy—grounded, hardworking, chivalrous, honest and open. Drummond, too, is a sweet character, who has written this love song from what feel like fleshed-out blog notes: fresh, intimate, minute and unselfconscious. The author’s gushing prose often becomes cloying and soporific—“I was in a black hole, a vortex of romance…I was floating on vapors. One kiss, and I was transported”—but she tempers it with cringingly hilarious descriptions of her sweat-drenched panic episodes when she first met his family and again at her wedding, and she writes artfully of the tall grass prairie and other natural wonders on the plains. The gloom cast by her parents’ marital breakup could have served as a counterpoint to her bliss, but Drummond lets it slip away by never fully exploring their circumstances.

A sometimes enjoyable love story hampered by treacly prose and syrupy sentiment.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-199716-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2011

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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