A "snow body" is the term used by American pimps to describe Canadian prostitutes. In Elizabeth Hudson's agonizingly gripping memoir we follow her lif...moreA "snow body" is the term used by American pimps to describe Canadian prostitutes. In Elizabeth Hudson's agonizingly gripping memoir we follow her life as a prostitute and heroin addict on the streets of Calgary and Vancouver in the early 1970's. This gritty, violent and heartbreaking story is told using the street language of the time and with a large cast of addicts, prostitutes and dealers who flow in and out of Beth's life as she struggles to get her next fix and ultimately get clean.
The story begins with Beth already addicted to heroin, I personally would have liked to know how Beth got there but throughout we are never really given a clear look into her family or childhood. From my own deductions it seems that Beth was from a wealthy family and simply rebelled, becoming a hippie child who slowly graduates up the ladder of drug use, ultimately finding love with her `old man' Peter and heroin.
When Peter gets busted and jailed for robbery, Beth's straight laced parents wash their hands of her forcing Beth to support herself and an ever increasing drug habit. She takes to the streets, hooking up with many different women along the way; each teaches her something about how to survive living the life of a junkie. She learns how to steal, how to run a sometimes successful con, turn a trick, and most importantly, to never trust anyone. Beth's street friends come and go ripping her off and beating her up as often as they show companionship.
We witness Beth get tough and skinny as she rapidly ages, moving between Vancouver's east side and Calgary's downtown, always trying to find something or get away from someone. Eventually Beth lands in the hospital and for a time goes straight, living on a farm and using methadone. However with no resources, job skills or sober friends it isn't long before Beth is back living in the only world she knows, falling harder and faster this time as her friends disappear along with her sanity in the search for that next high.
Although this is a tragic story of pain and suffering it is also one of strength, courage and the determination to escape the hopeless cycle of addiction. (less)
Opening Line: "I'd heard rumors about what happened to Lauren, I mean, I never even knew her that well but we'd sort of hung out a few times in high s...moreOpening Line: "I'd heard rumors about what happened to Lauren, I mean, I never even knew her that well but we'd sort of hung out a few times in high school"
There's been a lot of buzz around Nic Sheff's bestselling memoir TWEAK and for good reason, its un-put-downable. This candid, gritty and detailed struggle with addiction is an amazing story but what entranced me most here wasn't Nic's decent into methamphetamine hell or his subsequent struggles to remain sober and find some kind of peace within himself, it's the way this story is told. Nic Sheff the author has a gift and I adored his short choppy style of writing. His ability to put into words the pain and loneliness we all at times feel even during the height of his addiction when the words purposely become vague, paranoid and crazy. I can only hope that he continues to write as I would read anything he publishes.
Tweak chronicles 642 days in Nic Sheff's life. Beginning on day 1 we bare witness to Nic relapsing after 18 months sober. Nic hadn't planned on relapsing that day, his life was working "I'd made so much progress" but without a second thought Nic picks up right up where he left off and in a matter of 32 days loses everything... again. We follow Nic during those 32 days, learning about his history, his insecurities and disappointed family. We watch Nic score and scheme (and dream) and get high and get really sick. Only quitting when he runs out of money and can no longer function. Nic's family will have nothing to do with him but he gets one more chance from his sponsor, who in a tough love way helps get Nic back on his feet...again.
Spenser brings Nic into his family, taking him to meetings and working the 12 steps. As readers we finally get to see sober Nic. Following him on his obsessively long bike rides and feeling his excitement as he begins to write and reconnect with his family. On day 278 Nic gets a call from Zelda, the love of his life and despite warnings from friends and family Nic can't stay away from her. Quickly becoming as addicted to the beautiful but toxic Zelda as he was to drugs. Within a matter of months Nic is using again, this time its heroin and crack and the fall he takes here is faster and harder than before. Almost losing an arm to infection from a dirty needle his 22 year old body soon starts to give out.
It was despairing as a reader watching this unfold. I could feel Nic's desperation and loneliness, his inability to fit in and need to be loved but I also felt myself becoming angry when he relapsed because I wanted him to succeed so much that it was hard to read, I just wanted to shake him and say what are you doing?
This is a raw and honest look at the up and down life of an addict, it's heartbreaking, ultimately uplifting and truly enjoyable. The paperback edition also contains a group reading guide and a new afterward by the author. (less)
Opening Line:"Paul Franklin loved being a driver. He loved being a medic too, but he really loved being a driver"
This is the story of Master Corporal...moreOpening Line:"Paul Franklin loved being a driver. He loved being a medic too, but he really loved being a driver"
This is the story of Master Corporal Paul Franklin's journey back from Afghanistan after his vehicle was struck by a suicide bomb. It is also the story of a hero, even if he doesn't consider himself one. Lying on a dusty street Paul stared down at his ruined legs and remembered the promise he'd made to his wife "I will come home" Now he's faced with an even more challenging task then the Taliban, that of rebuilding a new life and learning to walk on two artificial legs.
THE LONG WALK HOME is an inspiring story of strength and courage encompassing not only Paul's personal struggles but those of his wife and young son as well. In the books one year span we travel from the war in Afghanistan to the American medical hospital in Germany and back to Edmonton where after several more surgeries Paul begins his rehabilitation. Author Liane Faulder interviews family, friends, doctors and physiotherapists throughout Paul's recovery and gives us a moving and very personal account of Paul's re-birth year.
We begin in 2006 with Master Cpl Franklin walking his son to school 4 months after the accident. It's a distance of 6 hundred meters and takes just over half an hour but this is a huge accomplishment. Both of Paul's legs have been amputated above the knee and after repeatedly being told he'd never walk again Paul's beat the odds and proved them wrong. The book then jumps around a bit as the author gives us back story on Paul's military career and family life before depositing us in the bombed ruins of his G-wagon.
We're then with his wife Audra as she receives "the call" and subsequently travels to Germany. This is as much her story as his and I was awed by the strength of military spouses. We are faced with some gruelling hospital scenes as everyone comes to terms with a new normal and Paul's agonizing Valentines Day decision regarding his remaining right leg broke my heart. Because Paul and the three others in his vehicle contained the first dead or wounded Canadians in Afghanistan a media circus immediately envelopes the Franklin family who decide instead of hiding they will become the new face of the military, handling it all with stoic grace and determination.
I really enjoyed this book and count myself lucky that we have people like Paul Franklin who are willing to sacrifice without question or regret. In a quote from the last page of the book Paul states that he's left something behind in Afghanistan and doesn't know what it is. He still feels like something is missing, something besides his legs, something inside of him. "I'd love to go back and I don't know why?" (less)
Opening line:"The playback: late night, Brooklyn, a pot of coffee, and a chair by the window. I'm listening to a mix tape from 1993."
Before I-pods and...moreOpening line:"The playback: late night, Brooklyn, a pot of coffee, and a chair by the window. I'm listening to a mix tape from 1993."
Before I-pods and ripped CDs we all made mix tapes. I'm sure most of us over a certain age still have them safely hidden away somewhere, never quite having had the nerve to throw them out (broken cases and all) We named these tapes, gave them away to friends or lovers and assigned them different purposes. Remember the break-up tape, the I'm so infatuated with you tape, the party tape, workout tape, road trip tape, stolen off the radio tape etc, etc. It took hours to create a mix tape, attempting to get the songs in perfect order without cutting off the last one.
Now imagine, nearly 20 years later having the courage to scour through and listen to all those tapes again. The joy of rediscovery, the nostalgia, the OMG I forgot all about that song which reminds me of that party/girl/boy/car moment. You might also experience pain or sadness over that long lost love. Well this is what LOVE IS A MIX TAPE is all about.
I absolutely adored this book. Rob Sheffield style of writing is so honest, natural and funny that you'll feel like your talking with an old friend. He manages too capture the spirit of the 90's perfectly too as he tells a moving autobiographical account of his years spent with wife Renee. Anyone who lived through that time and is into pop culture will find something relatable here.
This is also a tragic love story and on the very first page we learn that Renee has died, we just don't know how or why. We then flash back to the time to before they met as Rob experiences an awkward adolescence and discovers his love of Indie rock. One night Rob meets the sweet Southern girl of his dreams and although only 25 they soon marry. It's not a perfect marriage however; they're broke most of the time, they fight, they get a dog, they drink Zima (remember Zima?) but they always listen to music as one. Rob and Renee ultimately get 7 years together and even though I knew that Renee was going to die when it actually happened I was left stunned. Sheffield depicts the ache of new love and utter helplessness of losing it beautifully and following Rob through the next grief stricken chapters was at times hard to take.
Throughout this story it is always about the music and each chapter begins with a dated mix tape complete with side A/B track listings. Some of the tapes were made by Renee others by Rob but you're sure to have a lot of moments remembering your own life's soundtrack as you journey along with the music. You might even find a couple of new favourites. Cheers. (less)
~CHELSEA'S DRUNKEN ONE NIGHT STANDS~ Chelsea isn't shy and she loves men, lots of men, Oh and top shelf vodka too (I'm not sure in which order.) In MY...more~CHELSEA'S DRUNKEN ONE NIGHT STANDS~ Chelsea isn't shy and she loves men, lots of men, Oh and top shelf vodka too (I'm not sure in which order.) In MY HORIZONTAL LIFE Chelsea chronicles her escapades with a Vegas stripper, a well endowed little person, a cruise ship performer, her landlord, her gynaecologist, a Washington politician with a coke habit, black men, Latino men, small penised men...you get the idea. She also tries to get `Dumb-Dumb' her virgin roommate some action and all hell breaks loose when she attends her sisters wedding with her gay friend Nathan.
I guess I expected this book to be clever and witty like the humour I've seen on Chelsea Lately or in her stand up comedy. Unfortunately its not. This book is just a mildly entertaining collection of immature stories wherein Chelsea proceeds to get as intoxicated as she can, insults everyone around her and then tries (sometimes unsuccessfully) to find a man who will have sex with her.
If you leave your politically correctness at the door and enjoy stories about drunken one night stands then you might like this book. However this is not really a memoir and her lack of compassion is at times insulting. Sure, there are a couple of amusing quips within her tales but nothing that I would really call funny.
Sleazy, aimless and disappointing I kept waiting for this book to get better or for Chelsea to be in some way redeemed by the end and find a steady man. Needless to say I won't be reading her follow-up book anytime soon. (less)
~8 years ago today we lost Steve Irwin so I'm rebooting my review~
Opening Line:"The name of the zoo was the Queensland Reptile and Fauna Park."
You wi...more~8 years ago today we lost Steve Irwin so I'm rebooting my review~
Opening Line:"The name of the zoo was the Queensland Reptile and Fauna Park."
You will really get a feel for the Crocodile Hunter's spirit and zest for life with this memoir but also a continuing feeling of urgency on his part to experience everything and get things done as quickly as possible. Its as if he knew that he wasn't long for this earth. Steve also had a strong sense of family and longed for children to carry on his work after he was gone.
Terri Irwin has written a wonderful love story with this tribute to her late husband. Encompassing her life in Oregon before she met Steve on that fateful day in Australia and their many adventures together afterwards. She has managed to capture the spirit of this Wildlife Warrior perfectly and although not full of personal revelations this is still a well written memoir that I couldn't put down. Including 12 pages of photographs and a glossary of Australian terms, fans of the Crocodile Hunter and Steve in general will be swept away in the adventure and enthusiasm that was his life.
When Terri was 27 years old she took a vacation to Australia. While there she visited a small wildlife park and in a chance of fate met the tall blonde force of nature named Steve Irwin. The two maintained a long distance relationship over the following year but were soon married. In fact their honeymoon escapade became the very first episode of the Crocodile Hunter.
At first Terri had a tough time adjusting to life in Australia, it was quite different from what she was used to back in Portland Oregon. The snakes and spiders, the language barrier and the heat. She gives us many great stories of her newlywed years; working at Australia Zoo and their adventures in the bush where Steve was happiest. There's also some background about Terri's life before she met Steve and I was interested to learn that she'd also worked with animals back in the States, in particular a cougar rescue facility. She even had a pet cougar named Malina who she tried for years (unsuccessfully) to get into Australia. There are a few stories of Steve's childhood, working alongside his father as they perfected the art of capturing and relocating crocodiles. Steve often spent months alone in the bush and his capture of "the black ghost" helped shape him into the man he became.
Even though we all know what happened the ending of this book is still absolutely heartbreaking. I would suggest that you have some tissues handy as Terri unknowingly describes in detail the last time she and the children saw Steve and the last words she said to him.
Steve Irwin always felt a need to hurry yet he lived his life full of joy and enthusiasm. We miss you mate but our world is a better place because of your work. I now catch myself rescuing spiders from the bathtub and think of you, thanks. (less)
Opening line:"I don't remember exactly when I got to the house that served as our command post in the northwest sector of Fallujah, and I don't rememb...moreOpening line:"I don't remember exactly when I got to the house that served as our command post in the northwest sector of Fallujah, and I don't remember exactly how I got there."
This was a surprisingly great read that held me captivated from beginning to end and I've been recommending it like crazy to all my friends. FROM BAGHDAD WITH LOVE tells the heartwarming and somewhat heartbreaking story of a starving abandoned puppy named Lava and the hardened marine who along with wartime journalists, Iraqi citizens and many, many others that saved him from certain death on the bombed out streets of Iraq and eventually got him onto US soil.
Well written and containing 8 pages of photographs there is no secret to Lava's outcome but this is still an utterly fascinating story. Lava is initially discovered by the Third Marines unit known as The Lava Dogs when they storm an abandoned house in Fallujah Iraq and almost shoot him. Then not knowing what to do with the 5 week old puppy and forbidden by military law to keep pets the marines begin feeding and caring for the dog as they set up a command center in the abandoned house. Lava's presence allows the soldiers a pass from reality, a small piece of sweetness and normalcy in their daily hell and something else to think about other than getting killed. Has anybody fed the dog today? There are some touching scenes as we witness these big tough military men falling apart, talking in baby talk and playing with the puppy as he pees on their boots and destroys their belongings and they think he's cute.
Lieutenant Colonel Jay Kopelman is eventually adopted by Lava who chooses his boots to sleep in. Subsequently several scenes play out like a movie as Lava is hidden and moved between red and green military zones and finally crated as they attempt to drive him across the Jordanian border. The last few chapters are really exciting, and even though you know the outcome you will find yourself wondering, how exactly are they going to pull this off?
I learned a surprising amount about the war in Iraq reading this book and really got a feel for what the soldiers go through on a daily basis living in a war zone. Just how hard it must be to maintain your sanity amidst all the chaos and death. The ending is WOW and had me close to tears, as it's Lava who ultimately saves one marine from the emotional ravages of war. This is a book that I can highly recommend, especially if you're a dog lover in addition you'll get to learn a little something about a war that most of us barely notice anymore when the images and numbers flash past on our TV screens. (less)
The first book in this series (The White Masai) is a 5 star, absolutely fascinating read. I would also recommend the follow...moreBACK IN THE BIG WHITE WORLD
The first book in this series (The White Masai) is a 5 star, absolutely fascinating read. I would also recommend the follow-up (Reunion In Barsaloi). BACK FROM AFRICA however just feels like filler. There's not really enough interesting material here to warrant a third book and except for the first few chapters and the details of her climbing Mt Kilimanjaro I found it disappointing.
This third instalment deals with the time immediately after she leaves her Masai husband Lketinga and after fleeing Kenya with her young daughter Napirai, returns to Switzerland to start a new life.
Initially Corinne struggles with lingering health issues (malaria, hepatitis) and has trouble integrating back into modern society. (Do we really need all this stuff?) However as her health and self confidence returns she finds a job in sales, moves into her own apartment, makes friends in a single woman's group and faces government bureaucracy while getting her daughters birth certificate and filling for divorce. All the while maintaining contact with her brother in-law, James in Africa and mourning her failed marriage. With encouragement from her friends Corinne eventually writes the story of her love affair with Lketinga and gets "The White Masai" published. A large part of the book is dedicated to her success and travels while promoting her book. In the last few chapters Corinne finds a new love partner and returns to Africa to daringly climb Mt Kilimanjaro.
It should also be noted that Back From Africa has been translated from German so the writing does not always flow as smoothly as I'm sure it did in it's original language.
I wouldn't recommend this unless you've already read The White Masai.
Opening line: "It's a damn good thing I wasn't the president after 9/11 because I would have...lets not go there yet"
This is not really an autobiograp...moreOpening line: "It's a damn good thing I wasn't the president after 9/11 because I would have...lets not go there yet"
This is not really an autobiography but as it states on the cover, "a collection of observations and opinions from a freethinking roughneck." That's too bad because the best parts of this book are the stories about his life and this would have been a 5 star read if Trace could have just stopped going off the rails with redneck 'observations' and concentrated on writing his autobiography a little more. However, he writes like he talks and I did get some laughs in during a couple of his life stories. But mainly I just laughed at his views of the world. Trace doesn't hold back here, insulting just about every nationality except Americans.
Having been a fan of his music and after seeing him on Celebrity Apprentice Mr. Adkins seemed like an intelligent, interesting and gentle family man. This book has however changed my view of him and I no longer consider myself a fan. I found Trace's 'views' naive. He admittedly has only been out of America once, playing on an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf and it is my opinion that he needs to get out from behind the windows of his tour bus and see some of the world. This would possibly open up his 'observations' a bit. However even if you don't agree with him he at least tries to explain why he feels that way.
In between his many rants you do get to learn about Trace's life; growing up in Louisiana (pop 924) he spent time working on the oil rigs and playing in honky-tonk bars before he became a country star. You'll learn of his problems with drugs and alcohol, his many brushes with death and his family. An oddly amusing story is how he got shot by his second wife. He describes the history behind some of his hit songs, what fame is like and how he still likes to get his hands dirty on his farm. There is a lot of time spent on politics and oil as well as his dislike of unions, illegal immigration, the tobacco industry and his love of Wal-Mart and NASCAR.
As a well travelled, informed Canadian, I took particular offence to the following quote.(Regrettably it was written in the last 6 pages of the book or I would have stopped reading sooner)
"Supposedly Canada has the cleanest water and the best beer and a whole lot of oil. They've been sucking on our tit for so long now, and that's another thing I would do if I was President. I would make a call to the Canadians and say "look fellas, the only reason the Russkies didn't come over here in the 1970's and kick your ass is because we're your neighbor!" The time is now to start paying for the protection that we provide you. No more free ride eh."
In summery I suppose this was an eye-opening read, about a country singer from small town USA whose views are completly different than my own. It sure explained a lot about what I see on Fox News anyway. (less)