A stirring account of a hard life and hard work.



Nickell tells the story of her long road through addiction and abuse in this inspirational debut memoir.

The title’s reference is to a photo of the author at age 4, which she keeps in her own wallet. The picture serves a dual purpose: to remind Nickell to love herself, and to avoid the destructive thought patterns that were developing when the picture was taken. “I remind her that she matters, that I will always care for her to the best of my ability,” Nickell writes in the book’s preface, “but that she’s not calling the shots anymore.” The author relates that she had an alcoholic father and emotionally abusive mother; she herself started drinking early and she lost her virginity during an inebriated blackout. Her stepfather, she says, would send her to school with joints to sell, and he regularly exposed himself to her. She was on her own by 14, and she got married at 17, when she was three months pregnant, to a man who abused her, she writes. One altercation, involving a thrown lighter, left Nickell legally blind. A series of drug offenses resulted in jail time, and it was only then that she began her journey toward recovery—and a Christian relationship with God. In this book, Nickell charts her long struggle to reach a level of financial and emotional security, buoyed by therapy and religious faith. Her prose is consistently candid and gritty, as in this passage, in which she describes a diagnosis of “body rot” at a rehab center: “I had abused myself, had allowed others to abuse me, and for years, I had deprived myself of food and sleep. My regular body functions were shutting down. I was very, very tired.” It’s a remarkable story, overall—not just because of what Nickell went through, but also because of what she was able to achieve: She owns and operates a highly profitable bakery business. Nickell speaks of God often, but she also discusses the psychological work that she put in to improve and forgive herself, making this a useful book for both religious and secular readers.

A stirring account of a hard life and hard work.

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9992884-8-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: LegacyONE

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2019

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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.


New York Times columnist and editorial board member delivers a slim book for aspiring writers, offering saws and sense, wisdom and waggery, biases and biting sarcasm.

Klinkenborg (Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, 2006), who’s taught for decades, endeavors to keep things simple in his prose, and he urges other writers to do the same. (Note: He despises abuses of the word as, as he continually reminds readers.) In the early sections, the author ignores traditional paragraphing so that the text resembles a long free-verse poem. He urges readers to use short, clear sentences and to make sure each one is healthy before moving on; notes that it’s acceptable to start sentences with and and but; sees benefits in diagramming sentences; stresses that all writing is revision; periodically blasts the formulaic writing that many (most?) students learn in school; argues that knowing where you’re headed before you begin might be good for a vacation, but not for a piece of writing; and believes that writers must trust readers more, and trust themselves. Most of Klinkenborg’s advice is neither radical nor especially profound (“Turn to the poets. / Learn from them”), and the text suffers from a corrosive fallacy: that if his strategies work for him they will work for all. The final fifth of the text includes some passages from writers he admires (McPhee, Oates, Cheever) and some of his students’ awkward sentences, which he treats analytically but sometimes with a surprising sarcasm that veers near meanness. He includes examples of students’ dangling modifiers, malapropisms, errors of pronoun agreement, wordiness and other mistakes.

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-26634-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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With this detailed, versatile cookbook, readers can finally make Momofuku Milk Bar’s inventive, decadent desserts at home, or see what they’ve been missing.

In this successor to the Momofuku cookbook, Momofuku Milk Bar’s pastry chef hands over the keys to the restaurant group’s snack-food–based treats, which have had people lining up outside the door of the Manhattan bakery since it opened. The James Beard Award–nominated Tosi spares no detail, providing origin stories for her popular cookies, pies and ice-cream flavors. The recipes are meticulously outlined, with added tips on how to experiment with their format. After “understanding how we laid out this cookbook…you will be one of us,” writes the author. Still, it’s a bit more sophisticated than the typical Betty Crocker fare. In addition to a healthy stock of pretzels, cornflakes and, of course, milk powder, some recipes require readers to have feuilletine and citric acid handy, to perfect the art of quenelling. Acolytes should invest in a scale, thanks to Tosi’s preference of grams (“freedom measurements,” as the friendlier cups and spoons are called, are provided, but heavily frowned upon)—though it’s hard to be too pretentious when one of your main ingredients is Fruity Pebbles. A refreshing, youthful cookbook that will have readers happily indulging in a rising pastry-chef star’s widely appealing treats.    


Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-307-72049-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Clarkson Potter

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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