Love, devotion, and slobbery kisses abound in this heartwarming story of a man and his treasured chocolate Lab.

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A DOG NAMED BEAUTIFUL

A MARINE, A DOG, AND A LONG ROAD TRIP HOME

A man and his dog travel the country after a grave diagnosis.

When Kugler, a photographer and former Marine staff sergeant received the diagnosis, he was shocked: Bella, his beloved chocolate Lab, had advanced osteosarcoma that had spread to her front leg. The cancer was predicted to kill her in 3 to 6 months even if they removed the leg. Still, the author rejected the vet’s suggestion of euthanasia. “There’s no way I’m going to put her down,” he writes. “Bella means the world to me. She’s stuck with me through everything. She models the components of what it means to be alive—happiness, freedom, service, purpose, pleasure, joy. She prizes the very act of being. No, as long as there are viable options, I will not take this dog’s life.” As he recounts, Bella was there for him during the toughest moments of his life—e.g., when he found out his brother had been killed while on duty near Baghdad. Determined to make Bella’s last moments the best he could, Kugler set out on a trip across the U.S., visiting family and friends and staying with strangers who connected with him via social media and invited them into their homes in order to visit with Bella and hear their inspiring story. Throughout the narrative, it’s abundantly clear how much loving attention he gave to Bella—and vice versa—and while much of the book is reflective and poignant, the author also captures the silly moments. Kugler made heroic efforts to make their last days together as memorable as possible, knowing he would never have another dog quite like Bella. His tale is engaging and sometimes heart-rending, and it will be a certain tear-jerker for dog lovers.

Love, devotion, and slobbery kisses abound in this heartwarming story of a man and his treasured chocolate Lab.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-16425-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 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

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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