Yes My Accent is Real: and Some Other Things I Haven’t Told you by Kunal Nayyari

The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge  is for bloggers who wish to participate by publishing a blog post every day in April except for Sundays. Each blog post will focus on a letter of the alphabet. For example April 1 will be A, April 2 will be B and on it goes. By the end of April, a blog post for every letter of the alphabet will have been posted.

Summary

Of all the charming misfits on television, there’s no doubt Raj from The Big Bang Theory — the sincere yet incurably geeky Indian-American astrophysicist — ranks among the misfittingest. Now, we meet the actor who is every bit as loveable as the character he plays on TV. In this revealing collection of essays written in his irreverent, hilarious, and self-deprecating voice, Kunal Nayyar traces his journey from a little boy in New Delhi who mistakes, an awkward first kiss for a sacred commitment, gets nosebleeds chugging Coca-Cola to impress other students, and excels in the sport of badminton, to the confident, successful actor on the set of TV’s most-watched sitcom since Friends.

Going behind the scenes of The Big Bang Theory and into his personal experiences, Kunal introduces readers to the people who helped him grow, such as his James Bond-loving, mustachioed father who taught him the most important lessons in life: Treat a beggar as you would a king. There are two sides to every story. A smile goes a long way. And, when in doubt, use a spreadsheet.

Kunal also walks us through his college years in Portland, where he takes his first sips of alcohol, and learns to let loose with his French, 6’8” gentle-giant roommate, works his first-ever job for the university’s housekeeping department cleaning toilets for minimum wage, and begins a series of romantic exploits that go just about as well as they would for Raj. (That is, until he meets and marries a former Miss India in an elaborate seven-day event that we get to experience in a chapter titled “My Big Fat Indian Wedding.”)

Full of heart, but never taking itself too seriously, this witty and often inspiring collection of underdog tales follows a young man as he traverses two continents in search of a dream, along the way transcending culture and language (and many, many embarrassing incidents) to somehow miraculously land the role – Goodreads

My Thoughts

I was searching for a book to read for a review for the letter ‘Y’ when I came across this book written by the star of my favourite TV series, The Big Bang Theory.  I would usually shy away from autobiographies written by celebrities but thought I’d give this one a go, as I was keen on reviewing a book of genre I usually don’t review.

I didn’t have huge expectations but it wasn’t long before I was hooked. Kunal and Raj sound as though they are the same person, but that is possibly, because he has brought himself to the role.

. He writes with a self deprecating humour that is very funny to read, while coming across as being very genuine, as he talks about how appreciative he is of his fans.  I laughed and laughed, when I read about his Big Bang audition. And then laughed more, while reading about his marriage to Miss India.

I would describe Kunal’s book as being very sweet, very charming, very funny, but most of all very well written. I enjoyed this book much more than I expected and was sorry when it came to an end.

Yes, My Accent Is Real: and Some Other Things I Haven't Told You

Published in 2015 by Atria Books, 245 pages

Quotes

“Because words are powerful; they can hurt and wound, and one word can lead to a thousand horrors. So don’t forget to be impeccable with your words.”

“Sometimes people ask me, ‘Why are you writing a memoir? You’re only thirty-four.’
This is not a memoir. I’m not a president, or an astronaut, or a Kardashian.
This is a collection of stories from my life.”

My Star Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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O: On Writing by Stephen King #atozchallenge

On Writing: A memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Summary

There is a reason why Stephen King is one of the bestselling writers in the world, ever. Described in the Guardian as ‘the most remarkable storyteller in modern American literature’, Styephen King writes books that draw you in and are impossible to put down.

Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported, near fatal accident in 1999 – and how the inextricable link betwenn writing and living spurred his recovery.

My Thoughts

On Writing is so much more than a text book on creative writiing. It is also part memoir and contains so many tips for aspiring writers. I’m not an aspiring writer but as I read this book, as a Stephen King fan, I wanted so soak up all the advice and how-to infomation that he was giving about writing.

As is usual with King, he writes with humour and ensures that his book is a ‘page turner’ – even if it is merely a book about writiing. I absolutely loved this book, and can see myself coming back to it again and again.

Included at the end, is a chapter listing books that are favourites of King – he says because he has been entertained by them.

I’m sure all fans of Stephen King would love this book.

Recommendations

“The childhood memoir is a triumphant display of wit, storytelling and guts. His advice to writers is hard-nosed, practical and level headed in the classic journalistic Orwell-Hemingway tradition” – Evening Standard

“Absolutely fascinating….basic instructions….sensible advice” – The Sunday Times

“A fascinating combination of autobiography and personal voyage through the books and films that have inspired the phenomenally successful author….an invaluable insight into his working methods that will no doubt be pored over by aspiring authors throughout the world….a subtle and revealing portrait of his home life and the recent traumatic car accident” – Publishing News

Star Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

About the Author

King at the 2007 Comic Con

Stephen King is a No. 1 Best Selling Author many times over. He is the author of more than fifty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. Many of his books have been adapted into major films and TV series. King received the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. In 2007, he won the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America and in 2015 he received America’s National Medal of Arts.

He lives in Bangor, Maine, with his wife, novelist, Tabitha King.

First published 2000 by Hodder & Stoughton
This edition published in 2012
Paperback, 354 pages, including booklist

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The Lost Boys by Paul Byrnes #atozchallenge

The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge  is for bloggers who wish to participate by publishing a blog post every day in April except for Sundays. Each blog post will focus on a letter of the alphabet. For example April 1 will be A, April 2 will be B and on it goes. By the end of April, a blog post for every letter of the alphabet will have been posted.

The Lost Boys by Paul Byrnes: The Untold Stories of the under-age soldiers who fought in the First World War

Summary

In the First World War of 1914-1918, thousands of boys across Australia and New Zealand lied about their age, forged a parent’s signature and left to fight on the other side of the world. Though some were as young as thirteen, they soon found they could die as well as any man. Like Peter Pan’s lost boys, they have remained forever young. These are their stories. – blurb

This extraordinary book captures the incredible and previously untold stories of forty Anzac boys who fought in the First World War, from Gallipoli to the Armistice. Featuring haunting images of the boys taken at training camps and behind the lines, these tales are both heartbreaking and rousing, full of daring, ingenuity, recklessness, random horror and capricious luck.A unique perspective on the First World War, is military history made eeply personal, a powerful homage to youthful bravery and a poignant reminder of the sacrifice of war. – inside cover

The Lost Boys: The untold stories of the under-age soldiers who fought in the First World War

My Thoughts

A heartbreaking record of the underage boys who enlisted for WW1. The information was taken from service records and family interview. There was quite a bit of speculation about the way things may have been but that is understandable, and gives colour and a personal touch  to to the stories of these boys.
Photos of the boys in uniform are included. When looking at these photos, it’s very difficult to understand how recruiters could possibly have thought them to be over age. Most of the boys looked like baby faced young boys playing dress ups in soldiers uniforms. The sadness of that brought tears to my eyes.

A beautifully presented hardcover book with dustjacket. Black and white images of war are imprinted on the hardcover.

Star Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

 About the Author

Paul Byrnes joined the Sydney Morning Herald in 1976, reporting from various corners of the world, for a decade, before specialising as a feature writer and film critic. He was director of the Sydney Film Festival for ten years,  until 1998. In 2007, he won the Pascall prize, Australia’s highest award for critical writing in the arts. This book is the result of a lifelong interest in the First World War. He lives in Australia and France

Published in 2019 by Affirm Press. 364 pages including index

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#2020 Aussie Author Challenge

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K:Kin by Nick Brodie #AtoZChallenge #aussieauthor20

The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge  is for bloggers who wish to participate by publishing a blog post every day in April except for Sundays. Each blog post will focus on a letter of the alphabet. For example April 1 will be A, April 2 will be B and on it goes. By the end of April, a blog post for every letter of the alphabet will have been posted.

Kin: A Real People’s History of our Nation by Nick Brodie

Summary

From convicts, goldminers and sailors, to high country horsemen, nurses and soldiers – and almost everyone in between – KIN is about generations of real people living real lives. Join historian and archaeologist, Nick Brodie, as he traces his family back to their first arrivals in Australia. As their lives intersect, KIN provides a unique historical insight into Australia’s past: colonies grow and wars are fought as Nick follows his people and their children across land and sea, in their everyday occupations and through their hardships and most memorable events. Follow Nick’s journey to discover how his kinfolk lived, the bigger story of the history of Australia, as their stories become both his and ours. – blurb

My Thoughts

The author uses stories about his own ancestors to create a full and thorough explanation of Australian history. I really enjoyed this book, but as family history and Australian history is my passion, be aware that I could be biased. I loved the ancestry charts included and really enjoyed following the lives of the author’s ancestors. Even though Kin is a very thorough history of Australia and of his own ancestors, it is very easy to follow.

Kin is based on very thorough research, both ancestral and historical. My only criticism would be that I’d have liked to have seen a list of sources at the back of the book. But this is addressed by the author at the end, where he gives his reasons for not including them.

Star Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

About the Author

Nick Brodie is a historian, archaeologist, writer and university lecturer. Born in country New South Wales, his fascination with the past dates back to when he was old enough to dig in his parent’s backyard. The rusty objects and broken bottles he uncovered have since been lost, but his tenacious curiosity and a passion for exploring history remain – back cover

Published in 2015 by Hardie Grant Books
Softcover, 370 pages including index, acknowledgements and authors notes.

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2020 Aussie Author Challenge

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Journey from Venice by Ruth Cracknell #AtoZChallenge #aussieauthor20

The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge  is for bloggers who wish to participate by publishing a blog post every day in April except for Sundays. Each blog post will focus on a letter of the alphabet. For example April 1 will be A, April 2 will be B and on it goes. By the end of April, a blog post for every letter of the alphabet will have been posted.

Journey From Venice by Ruth Cracknell

Summary

Grand Dame of Australian theatrical community, Ruth Cracknell, much loved by the people of Australia,  tells of her journey from Venice when her husband takes ill.

Venice beckons, promising Paradise regained fro Ruth Cracknell and her husband Eric, as they set forth on a carefully planned holiday.

What they are seeking is time. Time to think, time to gaze, time for each other. But from the moment the holiday becomes an uncharted journey, their time is measured.
– from the blurb

Journey from Venice

My Thoughts

As a fan of Ruth Cracknell, in the  much loved TV series, Mother and Son,  I was pleased when I came across this book. I found Journey From Venice to be a raw and deeply personal account of the illness her husband suffered in Venice. At times it read like a travel log or a diary, but that didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the book or the sadness of her experiences.

The parts of the book that were about Venice were more enjoyable to me than when the story focuses on their life in Australia. I found this memoir to be deeply sad, as I read about the roller coaster ride experiences of the end of life of Ruth’s much loved husband.

 Star Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

About the Author

Ruth Cracknell lived in Maitland, NSW, in early childhood, before her family moved to Sydney. She was educated at North Sydney Girls’ High School and began a professional career in radio at the age of twenty. she travelled to England, where she worked for the BBC in radio, returning to Sydney in 1954.

In theatre, she was known for her interpretations of both classical and contemporary drama as well as for her particular flair for comedy. She also worked extensively in film, television, radio and animation, and won numberous industry awards. She is perhaps, best know for her role as Maggie Bears in the ABC series Mother and Son.

A member of the Order of Australia, Ruth was awarded honorary doctorates from Sydney University and the Queensland University of Technology. She died in 2002, aged 76.

Published on 22 February 2001 by Viking Australia. 288 pages

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Next Phase In Fitness & Life
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B: Burke & Wills by Peter FitzSimons #AtoZChallenge #aussieauthor20

Burke and Wills: The Triumph and Tragedy of Australia’s Most Famous Explorers

Summary

‘They have left here today!’ he calls to the others. When King puts his hand down above the ashes of the fire, it is to find it still hot. There is even a tiny flame flickering from the end of one log. They must have left just hours ago.

MELBOURNE, 20 AUGUST 1860. In an ambitious quest to be the first Europeans to cross the harsh Australian continent, the Victorian Exploring Expedition sets off, farewelled by 15,000 cheering well-wishers. Led by Robert O’Hara Burke, a brave man totally lacking in the bush skills necessary for his task; surveyor and meteorologist William Wills; and 17 others, the expedition took 20 tons of equipment carried on six wagons, 23 horses and 26 camels.

Almost immediately plagued by disputes and sackings, the expeditioners battled the extremes of the Australian landscape and weather: its deserts, the boggy mangrove swamps of the Gulf, the searing heat and flooding rains. Food ran short and, unable to live off the land, the men nevertheless mostly spurned the offers of help from the local Indigenous people.

In desperation, leaving the rest of the party at the expedition’s depot on Coopers Creek, Burke, Wills and John King made a dash for the Gulf in December 1860. Bad luck and bad management would see them miss by just hours a rendezvous back at Coopers Creek, leaving them stranded in the wilderness with practically no supplies. Only King survived to tell the tale.

Yet, despite their tragic fates, the names of Burke and Wills have become synonymous with perseverance and bravery in the face of overwhelming odds. They live on in our nation’s history – and their story remains immediate and compelling.
– Goodreads

My Thoughts

This was a trip that was undertaken foolishly primarily due to lack of planning. But there was also what could be called a comedy of errors from when the trip was first brought up through all the planning stages and during the actual trip. Fitzsimons tells the story without  holding back on telling exactly what happened and who was to blame for the events that occured before and during this iconic exploration of Australia  I have had this book on my bookshelf since 2017 and was looking forward to reading it, but the time commitment to get through what could be called a ‘door stopper’ had me leaving it until another time. When I finally got to it, I read all 623 pages in just a few days. Fitzsimmons has a chatty conversational way of telling the events of history. This book is definitely not a dry text book style account of this important event in Australia history. He tells the story in the present tense which makes his accounts of historical events much more entertaining.

Burke and Wills contains many archival photos and maps, which really did add to my enjoyment of this book.

 Star Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

About the Author

Peter FitzSimons is one of Australia’s most prominent and successful media and publishing identities. His busy professional life involves co-hosting the breakfast program on Sydney’s Radio 2UE, writing weekly columns for the Sydney Morning Herald and Sun Herald newspapers, appearing on Foxtel’s Back Page television show and, when time permits, authoring best-selling books. A correspondent for London’s Daily Telegraph as well, he is also in high demand as a guest speaker and presenter
– Goodreads

Published on 31 October 2017 by Hachette Australia.
Hardcover 623 pages plus Endnotes and Index.

This review is linked to 2020 Aussie Author Challenge

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Book Review: The Good Cop by Justine Ford #aussieauthor20

Summary

In an incredible twenty-five year career as a homicide detective, Ron Iddles’ conviction rate was 99%. Yet that only partly explains why Iddles is known to cops and crims alike as ‘The Great Man’.

Tough, inventive and incorruptible, stoic in the face of senseless horror yet unafraid to shed tears for a victim, Ron has applied his country cunning and city savvy to over 320 homicide cases – some of them the most infamous, compelling and controversial crimes in the nation’s history. To the victims of crime, Ron is both a shoulder to cry on and an avenging angel.

Ron Iddles never gave up on a ‘lost’ cause. He became a regular on the nightly news – the dogged face of Australian justice. Working long hours, dodging bullets, chasing leads and outwitting killers, Ron would tell his teams: ‘The answer is just one call away’. And in 2015, that belief saw him crack Victoria’s oldest unsolved homicide, yet another remarkable feat in a life devoted to keeping the public safe.

This is the extraordinary inside story of a real crime crusader. Ron Iddles. The Good Cop.

My Thoughts

I had been looking forward to reading this book since I heard about it’s publication. After watching Ron Iddles on TV, for many years and recently listening to him on various podcasts, I felt as though I knew him. On reading this book, I found that there was so much more to him than I had seen from snippets on the TV news. Ron Iddles is much more than the top Homicide cop we know him as.

From the very first page this book had me hooked. The first crime discussed was a case that I was very familiar with. The second case involved people that I knew. And on it went. Exposing behind the scenes information and what it took for Ron Iddles to solve the many homicides that occured  in Victoria.

I have always been interested in true crime and have watched the progress of local cases in the press. I loved the back story to these cases that is presented in this book.

As well as Ron Iddles, Victoria’s top cop, we also get to meet Ron Iddles, the person. I would Recommend this book to anyone interested in true crime and how these crimes are solved. I would describe The Good Cop as part biography and part true crime.
– Goodreads

Star Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

About the author: Justine Ford is a TV producer and journalist with a background in news and current affairs. She was a presenter on the top rating crime series, Australia’s Most Wanted. Her producing credits include the hot shows Missing Persons Unit, Border Security, RPA and Random Acts of Kindness. Justine has also worked as a radio producer/presenter and as a magazine features writer.

Published on 26 July 2016, by McMillan Australia. Paperback 368 pages

The tribute below to Ron Iddles was recently painted on the wall of a lane way in his home town, Rochester – artist, Tim Bowtell, Samaria, Victoria.

This review is linked to lovelyaudiobooks

#2020 Aussie Author Challenge

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Bake Australia Great: Classic Australia Made Edible By One Kool Kat – Katherine Sabbath #aussieauthor20

I started to salivate immediately, on opening this beautifully presented book, which is packed with recipes for the most delectable sweets imaginable. The author has taken classic Australian icons such as the Pavlova and given them a modern and humorous twist, making them even more drool inducing. There are also international recipes featured, that have become much loved favourites in Australia.

There are recipes for:

  • Sydney Opera House Pavlova
  • Flamin’ Galah Cupcakes
  • Koala Cake
  • Milo Mud Cake
  • Great Barrier Reef Cake

and many more.

The recipes are easy to follow, with very clear and simple instructions. There are varying levels of dfficulty, ensuring this book is suitable for the beginner cook, along with  the more advanced or expert baker.

Some may be concerned about the calories of some of the foods featured. I agree they are calorie dense, but they are definitely special occasion foods. Surely it’s ok sometimes to allow special occasion foods into a diet plan.

I cannot wait to get into the kitchen and whip up some of these recipes. I would dream of having the time to start with the first recipe, and work my way through the book. But I could also spend hours just looking at this book. The photography is exceptional.

Australia is enjoying Australia Day celebrations right now so I feel that sharing this book of baking Australiana  on a book blog is the perfect Australia Day post. Kitchens all over the country this weekend, will be turning out amazing traditional Pavlovas.  Next year in Australia Day, I plan to give my pavlova a modern twist,  using the recipe for Sydney Opera House pavlova, included in this book.

Star Rating:  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

About the Author

Photo: katharinesabbath.com

Sydney cake queen, Katherine Sabbath, is one of the coolest creatives around, loved equally for her cutting edge cake designs and quirky personal style. Kat is a high school teacher turned cake creative, whose unique designs have featured in print internationally, online, as well as on TV. She shares it all with her half a million instagram followers, who hang on every sprinkle – katherinesabbath.com

Watch Katherine making her mouth watering Milo Fudge Cake below.

https://youtu.be/0Ms5NMfhXkQ

 

Published on 05 November 2019 by Murdoch Books.
Hardcover 256 pages

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Book Review: Talking To My Country by Stan Grant #aussieauthor20

Summary

An extraordinarily powerful and personal meditation on race, culture and national identity.

In July 2015, as the debate over Adam Goodes being booed at AFL games raged and got ever more heated and ugly, Stan Grant wrote a short but powerful piece for The Guardian that went viral, not only in Australia but right around the world, shared over 100,000 times on social media. His was a personal, passionate and powerful response to racism in Australian and the sorrow, shame, anger and hardship of being an indigenous man. ‘We are the detritus of the brutality of the Australian frontier’, he wrote, ‘We remained a reminder of what was lost, what was taken, what was destroyed to scaffold the building of this nation’s prosperity.’

Stan Grant was lucky enough to find an escape route, making his way through education to become one of our leading journalists. He also spent many years outside Australia, working in Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa, a time that liberated him and gave him a unique perspective on Australia. This is his very personal meditation on what it means to be Australian, what it means to be indigenous, and what racism really means in this country.

Talking To My Country is that rare and special book that talks to every Australian about their country – what it is, and what it could obe. It is not just about race, or about indigenous people but all of us, our shared identity. Direct, honest and forthright, Stan is talking to us all. He might not have all the answers but he wants us to keep on asking the question: how can we be better?
from: Goodreads.com

My Thoughts

As a lover of history, particularly Australian history, I was looking forward to reading this book, and expected to enjoy it. But this could be one of the most unforgettable non fiction books that I’ve ever read.

The stories and personal experiences that Grant wrote about, really made me stop and think. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this book since I finished reading it. As I read these stories, I really felt for him, as he obviously has a huge love for his family and his country.

For many years, I have watched Stan Grant on television current affairs programs and have always been a fan of his reporting. I’m now a huge fan of his writing. The way he wrote his stories made a huge impact on me and my understanding of his life and his people.

In my opinion this book should be required reading on school book lists to give a better understanding of Australian History

Recommendations

Grant will be an important voice in shaping this nation” – The Saturday Paper

“….the past defines us, and like other Australians, Grant is interested in his family Ancestry. It’s just that 230 years of his history coincided with some uncomfortable truths about this nation” – the Courier-Mail

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

About the Author

Stan Grant born 30 September 1963, is an Australian television news and political Journalist and television presenter for Al Jazeera and the Australian Broadcasting Commission. He is a member of the Wiradjuri tribe of indigenous Australians from the south west inland region of New South Wales.The Wiradjuri also have roots in inner Victoria, where he spent most of his childhood –
Wikipedia

 

First published in 2016. This edition published in 2017 by
Harper Collins Australia Pty. Ltd.

Softcover 223 pages plus source list

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Talking To My Country is my first book review for the 2020 Aussie Author Challenge

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My name is Why by Lemn Sissay

My Name is Why by Lemn Sissay

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The above title is both the name of a book and the name of an event, featuring the author, that I attended a few days ago. Lemn Sissay’s story about his life as a foster child and in institutional care in England, is a dreadful story about the failures of the care system in the UK.

Lemn has devoted his life, since turning eighteen and leaving care, to finding out the truth about his life, and why he was placed into care. He has spent his life trying to right the wrongs of his life, by fighting to get his records, and fighting for acknowledgement of the many wrongs that were done to him.

My Name is Why is the record of those files, which show the truth about Lemn Sissay’s life, from birth to age 18. When he first read these files, he found out his real name. He also found out that while he had spent is life until age 12, in the care of uncaring foster parents, and after age 12 in institutions, his mother had been writng to the authorities and pleading for him to be returned to her. She had been doing this since shortly after his birth.

Lemn Sissay is one of England’s best loved poets. His presentation and performance on stage is very powerful and very moving. But at times he is also very very funny. His humour also comes through in his writing.

Here’s a quote that I love  from Lemn Sissay’s performance: Family is a collection of disputed memories between one group of people over a liftime.

Unsurprisingly My Name is Why hot number one on the New York Times bestseller list. Well deserved.

My Star Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The first video below shows Lemn Sissay talking to an audience about his life. The second video shows him performing his poem called Suitcases and Muddy Parks.. This poem almost reduced me to tears.

Huge thanks to the  Bendigo Writers Festival for bringing Lemn Sissay to our city, both for the event this week and for the Bendigo Writers Festival in 2018.

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Cover image: Goodreads