Thursday, 31 December 2015

Favourite Contemporary Memoirs 2015

My favourite Contemporary Memoirs 2015. In no particular order and to be continued.........

Too Young To Be Old: From Clapham to Kathmandu: 

Frank Kusy

My rating 5 out of 5 stars*****

As a huge fan of Frank Kusy's writing, I couldn't wait for this book to come out and it certainly didn't disappoint. I'd already read the three travel memoirs written by Frank about his time spent travelling in India, that were all published prior to this one.
In this book Frank goes back to his time spent working as an administrator in an elderly residents home in Clapham. There are quite a few colourful eccentric characters, both staff and residents and Frank describes them and his encounters with them in his usual self-effacing hilarious way. As a nurse who has spent time caring for the elderly, one of the greatest gifts you can give them is time and Frank gives them plenty of this because he listens to them, but not only that he records their memories on his trusty Sony Walkman and they certainly loved to talk.
Throughout the book Frank is painfully honest about what he sees as his many faults and all described in such an entertaining way. In this book we find out more about Frank's conversion to Buddhism, that is a feature in the other books in the series.
I didn't want this book to end, it's another Frank Kusy cracker and I'm now reading his other books again to be entertained once more by the author's unique writing style.

Inadmissible: Tamer Elsayed

My rating 5 out of 5 stars *****

A gripping and fascinating account written by an exceptionally intelligent young man. Tamer could easily have glossed over or omitted certain aspects of his story and presented himself in a more flattering and heroic way, but he didn't. He admits he made mistakes and errors of judgement that did eventually affect and change the course of his life. I admired his honesty and determination as a convicted felon who only had a limited time to gain his desired qualifications before possible deportation to be accepted into and work his way through degree, masters and Phd courses at top class universities in the US. I'm totally in awe of his intelligence and application to the extremely difficult courses he undertook. I couldn't even begin to name them all but even following the story of how he progressed was fascinating. I won't give anything more away. A truly inspirational memoir written by a man from a modest virtually one-parent background in Egypt. Highly recommended.

Fat Dogs And French Estates - Part 1 (Fat Dogs): Beth Haslam

My rating 5 out of 5 stars *****

Just finished Beth Haslam's book 'Fat dogs and French estates: Part 1' and really enjoyed it. A very funny and entertaining 5* read about a couple from the UK looking to purchase a domaine in France. I was going to include a funny quote, but the humerous quotes are too numerous to highlight just one. Beth writes with an exceptionally observant sense of humour about the search for a property, the colourful characters they meet along the way and her husband, who let's just say is entirely unintentionally hilariously funny! (Read this during a stressful time and it was very good therapy) Highly recommended. Looking forward to Part 2

Fat Dogs And French Estates Part 2: Beth Haslam

My rating 5 out of 5 stars*****

After reading the first book in the series 'Fat Dogs and French Estates Part I, I was absolutely bursting to read the second one and it didn't disappoint. Beth and her husband Jack, accompanied by their two dogs, are still searching for a French domaine to buy and as in the first book, estate agents seem intent on showing them some very undesirable properties with the most peculiar owners. I love Beth's humorous descriptions of the seemingly never ending quest to find the perfect property, their adventures along the way and Jack's irascible and often hilarious outbursts of grumpiness. Jack is funnier, wittier and perhaps a bit grumpier than the character of Victor Meldrew ever was. As a bit of a fan of military history, his scathing remarks about such matters throughout their journey really made me laugh out loud on occasion. Unfortunately, I read the book far too quickly and have now finished it. Bereft, but I'll wait patiently for the next one in the series.

Sell the Pig: Tottie Limejuice

My rating 5 out of 5 stars*****

Right from the start, I became totally absorbed in this book, so much so that I quickly read right through each book and then onto the next one to find out what happened next.
This is the first book in the series and chronicles the planning stages of the author Tottie Limejuice's move to France along with her very elderly, increasingly frail mother, old dog and an alcoholic brother. 

Tottie and her brother were not happy with the standard of care their elderly mother was having in the UK and they wanted a better quality of life and care for her in the remaining time she had left. Moving to France was considered to be the best option at that time, although it appeared to be a very daunting and not entirely logical prospect.

There are difficulties all along the way at each stage and Tottie, who should have the nickname of "Toughie" Limejuice (I'm sure I'm not the only one to suggest that :-)) ), somehow manages to cope with them all, retaining a real warmth and humour that makes this book and series so enjoyable to read.

I also enjoyed all the books in this series, which can all be found by following the author page link Here. The latest book in the series Biff The Useless Mention I have only just read over Christmas and haven't got around to reviewing yet, but would happily give it a 5 star rating

The Diary of a Single Parent Abroad: Jill Pennington

My rating 5 out of 5 stars*****

 I was blown away by this book and read it in a few sittings. The book had been on my kindle for a while and I really hadn't expected it to be so good, but it turned out to be such a cracker of a read that I could hardly put it down. Jill Pennington and her husband have experience of renovating "doer upper" old houses and decide to buy one in a mountain village in Italy. Unfortunately, Jill's husband flits too often back and forth between his various business interests in other countries and also unbeknown to his wife has frequent visits to his long term mistress. Eventually the feckless husband leaves Jill and their children more or less to fend for themselves in their newly adopted country and living in a house only partly renovated. How Jill and her children adapt to their circumstances is truly remarkable. Living on very little and through an enormous amount of hard graft Jill provides for her family, single-handedly renovates the house, grows and rears their food to give them a fantastic lifestyle in a country they all love. A highly recommended inspiring read. I really hope there is a sequel

I don't read that many 'celebrity' memoirs these days, but this one I did enjoy

Spectacles: Sue Perkins

My rating 5 out of 5 stars*****

really enjoyed reading this rather brave and honest memoir. Sue Perkins is a very witty, funny lady and this certainly comes across in her writing. Parts of the book are laugh out loud, hilariously funny and other bits are glimpses of Sue's personal life and struggles. I enjoy watching Sue and her comedy partner Mel in the Great British Bake-off TV programme and the book has made me respect her even more. We need to see more of Sue and Mel on our screens
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