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Three memoirs about the true-life adventures of real women throughout their training and careers—Police Academy, Fire Department, and Funeral Service. Three women who refused to allow any obstacle or person to stop them from achieving their goals.

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Bad Luck Cadet by Suzie Ivy

When Suzie Ivy asked me to review her book Bad Luck Cadet, her story sounded pretty interesting, so I accepted, but not without a little trepidation. What if I hated the book and wrote a scathing review? It’s probably not the smartest thing to have a cop on your case, but I looked on a map and determined that Ms. Ivy lives more than 2,000 miles from me, so she could hardly jump in her police car and pop in on me on an impulse. Or could she? In any case, if things really went south, I could always apply for the government’s Reviewer Protection Program.

But I was worried for nothing. Bad Luck Cadet was a fascinating account of Ms. Ivy’s experience at the police academy. Equally fascinating was the idea of an overweight, sedentary woman in her mid-forties with grown children suddenly deciding she wanted to be a cop. But that’s what happened. However, it wasn’t just a matter of filling out an application and passing a couple of tests, then being handed a badge and a gun. There was the matter of a grueling eighteen-week session at the Arizona police academy, where the instructors were determined to wash out as many cadets as they could, with women being at the top of their list. The author described it as a “Hollywood set for the remake of Full Metal Jacket.” In fact, in some ways the training sounded very similar to the Marines boot camp regimen at Parris Island.

In addition to the long classroom hours and the exhausting physical training, the cadets came to dread the morning inspections, where their sergeant examined every inch of their bodies and uniforms to find so much as a hair out of place. Ms. Ivy described the inspections, noting that her OBGYN exams weren’t as thorough!

Ms. Ivy told her story very simply in a conversational style of writing that was both funny and poignant. It was impossible to read her story without gaining an admiration for her determination to get through the academy even when young men half her age were dropping out.

The bottom line: I enjoyed Bad Luck Cadet very much, and I’m looking forward to reading the sequel, Bad Luck Officer.

~Jim Chamber, Hall of Fame Top Ten Amazon Reviewer

Hey Guys, The Redhead’s back! by Laurie Loveman

Laurie Loveman is one of my favorite authors! This little gem is witty and engaging, and hooked me from the first page. Laurie weaves a captivating tale of fire service, animals, medicine, and the unfolding of her life. That it is written in diary form makes it much more personal, and the reader is drawn into Laurie’s world, or at least the four years covered by this particular diary. It makes one hunger for the next chapter in her life. If you’ve ever wondered what its like to be a firefighter — the day to day workings of the job — “the redhead” will show you with obvious love, compassion and respect for the players. Its easy to see how this part of her life led her to be one of the foremost experts on barn fire safety in the country.

~Michelle Staples, Amazon Reviewer

The Making of a Funeral Director by Janice Richardson

The book is described as a ‘memoir’, but unlike any memoir I can recall this one made me stop and think several times while reading.

On the surface, it is a tale of one person’s decision to enter a field that is foreign to most of us, and her experiences during her training and subsequent graduation. There are the usual vignettes of happy, sad, and startling moments that one expects in a memoir. Linking all these are the author’s feelings … her feelings at the time as well as reflections some years after the fact. Interesting stuff and worth reading.

However, along the way we are given glimpses into a world, and world-view, that is foreign to most of us. It is a world where the participants suffer a very high degree of job stress and burnout, as they deal with people at one of the worst times of their lives. It is a world where the participants deal with the result of death – sometimes natural, sometimes criminal, sometimes amoung family, sometimes alone.

The closest most of us get to this world are the lurid stories of problems in the funeral industry we see in the news. But the job encompasses so much more, and I was startled to learn how much more there was. The book touches on the social aspect of death, as well- how we deal with it on a personal and societal level, as well as the practical aspects of treating the remains of the deceased.

Good stuff, and highly recommended.

~Brian Greiner, author