Tag: Memoir

Book Review: Burnt: A Memoir of Fighting Fire by Clare Frank

Burnt: A Memoir of Fighting Fire
Clare Frank

Published: May 23, 2023
336 Pages

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: May 27- June 25, 2023
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

A captivating memoir of trailblazing and firefighting from a pioneering woman in a male-dominated field

When Clare Frank was 17 years old, she became a firefighter in Northern California. Clare was five foot two and officially too young to join the service—she left her birthdate blank on her paperwork, hoping no one would notice. And she didn’t look like her peers, who sported an Adam’s apple and a mustache. But her brother was a firefighter and loved it, so she thought she’d try it out, too. Very soon, she knew she had found her calling.

Burnt is Clare’s inspiring, richly detailed, and open-hearted account of an extraordinary life in fire. It chronicles the transformation of a young adult determined to prove her mettle into a scarred and sensitive veteran, grappling with the weight of her duties as chief of fire protection—one of the highest-ranking women in Cal Fire history—while record-setting fires engulf her home state. Mentors and managing, funerals and scandal, pickup basketball, car crashes, and always fire—no one has written about this world, from this perspective, like Clare Frank. She masterfully mixes irreverence and awe, taking readers inside station houses, on daily calls, and along on wildfire campaigns where antics and dark humor balance terrifying risk, trauma, and a sense of almost holy responsibility. A Memoir of Fighting Fire is an unforgettable memoir from an American original.

Jessica’s Review:

In a very male dominated field, the average person doesn’t see many female fire fighters, but Clare Frank is one of those few.  Through her memoir we see her go through training and a seasonal fire fighter all the way up to retirement, which gives a 30+ year career span with her becoming second in command of Cal Fire. Also… she got a law degree too!! 

Frank is a woman who could do anything it seems.  Starting as an underage seasonal fire fighter (She left her birthday off her job application and was lucky enough for that to not be noticed) she always wanted to be a fire fighter, and even worked with her firefighter brother at times.  She constantly pushed the envelope and broke down barriers when it didn’t seem possible. 

We see how different she was treated as a female, but put a stop to that, making her peers see her who she was: A fire fighter, regardless of her gender. She kept up with the boys and proved herself many times over.  We see her overcome obstacles, some which could have been career ending, but she didn’t let it be. She is one tough bad ass as she could really do her job! 

During the course of her career we experience Frank’s rise through the ranks while doing a tough job and excelling.  We see the highs and lows of her career and just when you think fire can’t get tougher… It does! Fire is brutal and we see it first hand as everyone is affected in various ways. And Frank lived in California which deals with extreme fires yearly.

Bravo to Frank for a well-done career and showing others, especially females, that if you want to do it, you can and will accomplish what you set your goals to be.

Many thanks to the publisher for granting me an arc to read and review in my own time.    

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Audiobook Review: Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey

Author: Matthew McConaughey

Narrator: Matthew McConaughey
Published: October 20, 2020
Audiobook: 6 hours 42 minutes

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Listened To:  June 21-23, 2023
Jessica’s Rating: 5 stars

Audiobook Description:

From the Academy Award®–winning actor, an unconventional memoir filled with raucous stories, outlaw wisdom, and lessons learned the hard way about living with greater satisfaction.

I’ve been in this life for fifty years, been trying to work out its riddle for forty-two, and been keeping diaries of clues to that riddle for the last thirty-five. Notes about successes and failures, joys and sorrows, things that made me marvel, and things that made me laugh out loud. How to be fair. How to have less stress. How to have fun. How to hurt people less. How to get hurt less. How to be a good man. How to have meaning in life. How to be more me.

Recently, I worked up the courage to sit down with those diaries. I found stories I experienced, lessons I learned and forgot, poems, prayers, prescriptions, beliefs about what matters, some great photographs, and a whole bunch of bumper stickers. I found a reliable theme, an approach to living that gave me more satisfaction, at the time, and still: If you know how, and when, to deal with life’s challenges – how to get relative with the inevitable – you can enjoy a state of success I call “catching greenlights.”

So I took a one-way ticket to the desert and wrote this book: an album, a record, a story of my life so far. This is fifty years of my sights and seens, felts and figured-outs, cools and shamefuls. Graces, truths, and beauties of brutality. Getting away withs, getting caughts, and getting wets while trying to dance between the raindrops.

Hopefully, it’s medicine that tastes good, a couple of aspirin instead of the infirmary, a spaceship to Mars without needing your pilot’s license, going to church without having to be born again, and laughing through the tears.

It’s a love letter. To life.

It’s also a guide to catching more greenlights – and to realizing that the yellows and reds eventually turn green too.

Good luck.

Jessica’s Review:

This is a memoir to enjoy! Greenlight!

I have always been a Matthew McConaughey fan and have been meaning to read this one forever! And I went with the audiobook and it gets a perfect 5 stars from me! Greenlight!

McConaughey tells us his life story up to his first 50 years of life, and for the audiobook he tells it himself.  And it wasn’t just him reading the book he wrote, listening to it  was an experience! He tells his story with such expression and puts everything into his narration, I don’t think I could have possibly enjoyed this memoir any more than I did! Greenlight!

McConaughey seems totally down to earth and tells his story where you feel that you get to know him as a person. Everything before, during, and after Hollywood! And things you think you know (aka the bongo drum incident) we actually learn even more about. 

Did you know that McConaughey was an exchange student to Australia?  I didn’t and he definitely had an interesting experience! He tells us about his childhood and he also traveled through Europe on a motorcycle with a few other actors, and he even floated down the Amazon.

McConaughey seems like a down to earth man and did you know all he ever wanted in life was to be a father?  We even get a part of the man’s spirituality.

We get his career in Hollywood, and I forgot he was in Angels in the Outfield!  We get his start with Dazed and Confused I was most interested in his time working on A Time to Kill, and why he doesn’t do rom coms anymore. I learned about a few of his films I did not know about but now want to see: Mud and Dallas Buyers Club. We see him meet his future wife and mother of his three children. Greenlight!

If you are a Matthew McConaughey fan you must read this book! I would say listen to it to hear the literal words come out of his mouth himself.  This is the kind of memoir I love, one where you feel that you really get to know the person.  The last memoir I listened to and felt that way was Jessica Simpson’s memoir Open Book.  If you are looking for any dirt and gossip you will be disappointed. He didn’t kiss and tell on relationships other than his wife.  Listening to this memoir I really feel like I got to know the man, yet he also kept some things private.   Greenlight!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK


Audiobook Review: Pageboy by Elliot Page

Pageboy: A Memoir
Author: Elliot Page

Narrator: Elliot Page
Published: June 6, 2023
Audiobook: 8 hours 24 minutes

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: June 6-9, 2023
Jessica’s Rating: 3 stars

Book Description:

Pageboy is a groundbreaking coming-of-age memoir from the Academy Award-nominated actor Elliot Page. A generation-defining actor and one of the most famous trans advocates of our time, Elliot will now be known as an uncommon literary talent, as he shares never-before-heard details and intimate interrogations on gender, love, mental health, relationships, and Hollywood.

Jessica’s Review:

Memoirs are a hard thing to rate and review.  It is someone’s life and they are telling their story in their way. And with Pageboy Elliot Page tells his story.  I just didn’t really feel I learned much listening to him actually tell his story. And he does actually tell his story to the listener as he is the narrator for the audiobook. 

The memoir is nonlinear so we are going back and forth through time throughout.  It was at times a bit confusing and didn’t really seem to go where it was meaning to.  Page does show how child actors are treated in Hollywood and it really isn’t something that kids should go through.  Page even had a stalker at a young age. When he talked about that it was scary to hear, as it was early in the internet days where this stalker came from. And the things this stalker said to a young person are just scary!

Most of the memoir dealt with Page being a closeted lesbian to the public, but those in Hollywood knew.  Page came out in 2014 as a lesbian with a speech that Ellen at the time made.  Page does a lot of ‘kissing and telling’ with intimate details with many partners but there are two actresses that he names. I would assume he got permission to tell those tales/names.  One relationship was mentioned more in depth. It also seems like Page may love the idea of being in love with all the details he shares over all the many ‘relationships’ he had. 

Page makes it clear early on in life he knew that he was not a girl but a boy and dressing in ‘girl clothes’ didn’t work for him. That even went into acting jobs in Hollywood that he had.  Page knew he was different from others when he was younger.  Several times he asks others if they think he is trans when he was still Ellen.  Maybe he was looking for support and acceptance from others.

We also see the bigotry and more that Page experienced before and after he was out as Ellen and a lesbian.  We see the anger that Page had with his reactions to those which could make those situations worse.  

There are some stories that Page starts that really don’t get finished and the last part of the memoir dealt with his top surgery. I was wanting to hear more of his transformation process, but it was just skimmed over.  It just seemed like he was telling a lot of different stories that he may or may not have finished. He didn’t really seem to know where he was going with this memoir.

I do applaud Page for telling his story in the way he wanted even if it was not really for me. But I am also not the targeted demographic for this memoir being a heterosexual CIS female. I am sure there are those who are closer to the target demographic that will fully enjoy the memoir. Page was brave by coming out not once, but twice in his still young life and I hope he continues to be an example to others and increase awareness in the LGBTQ community.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK