The promise of a dreamlike fantasy lapses slowly but surely into a soporific narrative.

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ATHENA

An Air Force enlistee's curiosity about the occult leads him across Europe on a journey of New Age self-discovery.

Davis is both author and hero of this semi-autobiographical sequel to his first novel, Buchi (2006). “Spook,” as Spirit’s Air Force pals playfully call him, has known since he was a child that he was “different”–and not just because of his parents’ unorthodox choice of name. On a visit to Great Yarmouth on England’s eastern shore in 1961, the youthful Spirit finds himself being drawn to the small storefront of “Madam Logos, Fortune Teller–Astrologer–Psychic.” Inside, he meets octogenarian Athena Logos, who informs Spirit that he is indeed “different”: Spirit is an empath, able to psychically probe the innermost feelings of others. Athena and Spirit begin weekly excursions into worlds of astrology and metaphysics to prepare him for some special “purpose” to which he is destined. Before long, a series of visions and “vibes” begins to make Spirit suspect there’s more to this typecast old fortuneteller than meets the eye. Why does Athena refuse to meet his friends? Who is the strange young woman who keeps appearing to him in visions and dreams? When Athena’s sudden disappearance leaves him without a friend and guide, he sets out to the ancient ruins of the Temple of Poseidon in Greece in search of answers. Coming to his aid are a cast of friends, both skeptical and credulous, who nevertheless offer their full emotional support to him in his journey. Author Davis invests a great deal of warmth and bonhomie in Spirit’s friendships, but therein lies a critical misstep: Spirit’s encounters with other characters are so genial and good-natured that no real conflict–interpersonal or otherwise–mars Spirit’s breezy progression to finding the answers to his questions. Stories of self-discovery thrive on struggle, but here the protagonist need only “go with the flow” to arrive at journey’s end.

The promise of a dreamlike fantasy lapses slowly but surely into a soporific narrative.

Pub Date: April 24, 2007

ISBN: 978-1-4257-2953-0

Page Count: 204

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: April 21, 2011

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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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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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