An entertaining, optimistic glimpse into the world of travel clubs and home exchanges.

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ACCIDENTAL TRAVELS OF A SINGLE WOMAN

A writer, entrepreneur, and motivational speaker documents her post-retirement travels.

After moving to Las Vegas, Woods (Climbing Out of the Rabbit Hole, 2005) learned she was allergic to the city’s summer heat. Given the choice of moving or taking medication, she decided instead to travel, beginning her peripatetic life. In order to cut costs for the sort of long-term lodging she required, she explored home exchanges and travel clubs for seniors. When friends expressed concerns about her journeying alone and staying in strangers’ homes, she allayed their concerns through emails. An experienced journalist, she parlayed these messages and diary entries into a series of essays, providing vignettes of her trips and the people she encountered. Part of the reason Woods’ globe-trotting method worked for her was she could see the good in people or places instead of just highlighting the negatives—such as enduring the stare of a taxidermic moose or sharing not just a room, but also a bed with a snorer. Although she headed primarily to Europe, with frequent visits to Italy, Woods’ explorations also took her around the United States, especially Texas and the Northwest. Her memoir does not spotlight the sites she visited so much as the people she met, depicted with subtle humor and—almost always—appreciation for their best qualities. In one of her few critical accounts, the author deftly describes dealing with the moose along with a bathroom with all three components—toilet, shower, and sink—in different areas of the house. The seventh stay “proved to be the makings of an uncomfortable, but now, funny story.” But Woods is not some Suzy Sunshine; she just chooses to find joy and comedy in most situations. Still, some readers may question her decision to continue traveling and rooming with Joan, the snorer. The author’s background as a journalist is obvious in her flawless, breezy writing style. The book concentrates almost exclusively on her captivating adventures, with only hints at her own life story, which sounds equally intriguing. The enjoyable work covers 15 years of her travels, from 2001 to 2016 (presumably only the highlights), occasionally mentioning concurrent world events.

An entertaining, optimistic glimpse into the world of travel clubs and home exchanges.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-983514-30-2

Page Count: 124

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2018

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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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UNTAMED

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 Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 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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