Astonished, a spiritual journey

Astonished: A Story of Evil, Blessings, Grace, and Solace by Beverly Donofrio is a story of faith. Donofrio hit as a writer when she wrote about her transition from “bad girl” to mom in Riding in the Car with Boys.
In Astonished, Donofrio is ready to enjoy new found maturity and serenity at 55. She has moved to an expat enclave in Mexico and bought a house a lovely house. Life is good until a violent crime steals her peace of mind.
Donofrio becomes the victim of a perverted serial rapist of older women. She later helps to catch and convict the rapist, but she loses her faith. She feels God has deserted her.
The book chronicles Donofrio's attempt to regain her faith and find God after the rape that leaves her shaken. She visits five different monasteries and enters a convent where she spends four years as a Carmelite nun in her quest.
In this unique and often disconcerting memoir, Donofrio’s completes a modern biblical journey of redemption from whore to Madonna. Whatever your beliefs, her story is fascinating.

The Feminist and the Cowboy

The Feminist and the Cowboy: An Unlikely Love Story
by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez  is a real life love story that will give hope to single women over 35 who are still looking for love in all the wrong places.
Smart and sassy, the bestselling author of The Dirty Girl Social Club books ends up moving home with her divorced father when she hits a dry spell. She is forced to sell her Lexus and pricy home when she hits a “financial dry spell,” as she puts it. She and her young son move back home with her semi-retired professor father.
Finally, at age 42, Alisa is forced to confront the demons in her past when she decides to date again. She falls for a man who seems to be the antithesis of all her feminist values. Unable and unwilling to deny her attraction to a tall, handsome cowboy who is unmistakably attracted to her, Alisa must explore her past as an angry, man-hating, feminist who denied her own womanhood.
Valdes often digresses from her personal narrative to expound on the roles of feminism and gender roles in romantic relationships. However, by sharing her own story, she articulates a common conflict many women feel today between their desire for a strong masculine romantic partner and intellectual and economic equality.
She endearingly admits to a guilty desire to be pretty and sexy while also wanting to be a sassy, intellectual bad ass.
The Cowboy and The Feminist is a fascinating personal memoir as well as an interesting discourse on finding love in the new millennium.
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Southern girl gone wild

Confessions of a Rebel Debutante by Anna Fields is a bittersweet memoir that is heavy on the bitter. Anna details her idyllic small town childhood as a tomboy, but even then she has issues with the bullies. According to Anna, she begins her "debutante training" at age 11, with dance classes and finishing school. This is when Anna’s so-called “rebellion” begins. 

It is not unique; it consists of truancy, smoking and the usual teenage cutting up. The book is a fascinating contradiction, in that while Anna sees herself as rebel, but she adores everything about the South. She can’t get enough of Southern traditions or her own mythologized family
Anna’s biggest problem is that she can’t click with “in crowd”. And even though she doesn’t admit it, that’s what she wants to be — in with the “in crowd”. In true ‘belle’ style, she attributes all her problems to her superior intellect. After completing finishing school she goes an Ivy League university where she doesn’t fit in either. Anna then takes a fling at acting in Hollywood where she also works as Diana Ross’ assistant.
Eventually, Anna returns to New York to attend graduate school. She works for Jill Zarin of The Real Housewives of New York City. Those two tales alone are worth the price of the book.
Anna is a perpetual victim as she tries to conquer both Hollywood and New York. One thing we learn from Fields is that Southern debutante training gives a girl plenty of chutzpah. 
If you aren’t familiar with debutante rituals or Southern traditions you’ll be fascinated and amused.

A beautiful inspiration

Have you heard of Elizabeth Grant? She single-handedly built a beauty empire to rival any. You may have seen her on the various shopping channels. She is in her eighties, but she remains one of the best advertisements for her own products — and she still appears regularly to sell them.

Now you can read her amazing story: Elizabeth Grant: My Life Story, A Memoir By Marion Suzanne Witz and Carol Krenz. I couldn’t put it down. This is not a book just for beauty junkies, but for any woman entrepreneur, or anyone who has faced adversity.
Elizabeth Grant was born into a comfortable upper middle-class home in London in the early 1900s. Her parents doted on her and her sister. Life was lovely until her father died. She was then thrown into a harsh Dickensian childhood. She was beaten and often hungry, yet she never felt sorry for herself. She went to work at 13 and thrived.
Eventually, Elizabeth became a theatrical make-up artist working in the British film industry. She made up famous movie stars such as Vivien Leigh. She also modeled and enjoyed the life of a busy young women in prewar England. She was an attractive young woman when World War One broke out. London was targeted with a hail of nightly bombs during the dreaded blitz. Grant was horribly scarred in an explosion that also left her deaf in one ear.
This accident also led to her greatest accomplishment, Elizabeth Grant Cosmetics. The company grew from her discovery of Torricelumn, a regenerative marine compound, which she discovered in her quest to heal own scarred face.
It was just the beginning of an amazing story that took her to South Africa and finally Canada. Along the way Elizabeth married, had children, and built her beauty empire. This book is on my must-read list. Put it on yours too.