A rollicking and readable demon- and dragon-haunted memoir of an old soul in the modern world.

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My Life and My Other Life

MY LIFE IN THE MUNDANE AND OTHERWORLD

A split-screen debut autobiography shuttles between the real world and realms of fantasy.

In this account of his life and times, Saunders alternates between two extremes. Although he gives readers precious little in the way of padding for the shock of transition, he’s such a natural storyteller that most will likely hang on despite the unbridgeable dichotomy at the heart of the book. On the one hand, Saunders tells the entirely quotidian story of his existence in the observable world. Born in 1977 in Connecticut to working-class parents, he recounts growing up in Illinois and near the levy of New Orleans’ Lake Pontchartrain, riding his bike, and visiting candy stores with other little boys. On the other hand, he spins a fantastic yarn about being a 22,818-year-old (“give or take a century”) reincarnated supernatural being from the Other World, the half-breed son of a half elf and half vampire named Lanadra and a half-angel and half-devil hybrid called Balatas. The real-world Saunders listened to rock music, went to school, and crushed on girls. He became a reverend through the Universal Life Church. The Other World Saunders, Riolis Silverwolf, an “Apyrogothric/Archangelic/Elder Vampiric/Elvin Elder” known as “Abomination,” consorts with fairies and dragons, has visited Earth for 100-year intervals for millenniums, and was responsible for the sinking of the lost city of Atlantis. The author makes some valiant attempts to link these two halves of his story—he periodically indulges in bromides about how “we are taught that magick is not real. Dragons, fairies, and other such things are myths” until readers’ spiritual eyes are opened, but such efforts are doomed, and surely the antic, joking tone Saunders often employs signals that he is aware of this. Rather, readers should just go along for the great ride the author has in store for them. The odd, unconventional book could use a strong housecleaning edit (there was no figure in history, for instance, called “Vlad the Impellor”), but the larger tale here—a sprawling fantasy life lived right alongside school, work, and friends—remains tremendously appealing.

A rollicking and readable demon- and dragon-haunted memoir of an old soul in the modern world.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Bookfuel

Review Posted Online: Nov. 23, 2016

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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.

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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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