LICENSE TO PAWN

DEALS, STEALS, AND MY LIFE AT THE GOLD & SILVER

Host of the History Channel’s Pawn Stars unsentimentally breaks down the curious world of buying and selling pre-owned merchandise.

Harrison’s straight-shooting business style adapts well to the pages of a memoir brimming with stories of his 20-plus years at the family-run World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas. Before dropping out of school in the 10th grade, the author recalls a San Diego childhood spent people-watching and reading, yet marred by debilitating grand mal seizures and “fatalistic” drug abuse that led to rehab at age 14. Since his father (“Old Man”) was a gold dealer and his “new-era” mother dabbled in real estate, both livelihoods honed his interest in commercial commerce. When the family relocated to Las Vegas, the author was hooked. Trolling swap meets fed a need to unearth the “overlooked treasures” of estate sales, and once his father opened his dream pawn shop, Harrison and Keown dictate a continuous strand of stories about the customers pawning their frequently odd sale items at Harrison’s “poor person’s bank” (there’s a 10 percent monthly interest rate). Desperation takes many forms. Twenty bucks can sell a pair of alligator cowboy boots or a Gucci bag, but more lucrative (and outlandish) sales feature a gold tooth (extracted on-site) or one of the shop’s prized possessions: authentic Iwo Jima battle plans hand-drawn in color. Throughout his career, Harrison has balanced failed business endeavors (in-house gold refinement) with impeccable negotiation skills and eagle-eye appraisals that have prevented the acquisition of fake Confederate swords and Rolex watches. The author lives and breathes his subject matter, but his voice, too-often oscillating between a hard-nosed tradesman and a starry-eyed TV personality, lacks the immediacy of his on-camera persona. Fans of unorthodox trades will find his tales shocking yet tastefully delivered, yet lacking the punch of the visual medium. A fascinating guided tour of what Harrison calls “the greatest business in the world.”

 

Pub Date: June 7, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4013-2430-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2011

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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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