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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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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#AtoZChallenge M: MyHeart Is My Own: The Life of Mary Queen of Scots by John Guy

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter

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

This book is a biography of Mary Queen of Scots, however it reads like a novel of intrigue and drama.  She had such a life! The way her life is assessed, depends of your point of view. Some would say she was a traitor, an adultress and a murderer. But then again, some would say that she was a courageous heroine, who stuck to what she believed. She could even be considered to be a martyr.

This is an extremely well researched book, using historical documents from the archives to build the story of the life of Mary Queen of Scots. The truth is told about the myths that have been created around her.The author says she is the most charismatic but also the most unlucky monarch in British history.

My Thoughts

I found this true story to be incredible and riveting.  As I was reading, I would find myself forgetting that the events outlined are actually true, and not the figment of an author’s imagination in a novel. Mary Stuart was crowned Queen of Scotland at nine months of age and Queen of France at age 16 and on it goes. There are so many highlights and low lights to her life that make this book an absolute page turner. I couldn’t put it down.

Recommendation

“A triumph of biography, artistry, and a historical detective work. A masterpiece full of fire and tragedy. This book will be required reading for years to come” – Amanda Foreman

“Absorbing…..meticulously researched……scholarly and intriguing….the book will not disappoint” – Peter Ackroyd, The Times

My Rating:  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

About The Author

John Guy

 

John Guy is the author of many English histories, including Tudor England which has sold more than a quarter of a million copies. He is a fellow at Clare College, Cambridge, and also lectures in the Faculty of History. He became a Honorary Research Professor at the University of St. Andrews in 2003.

 

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Published in 2004 by Fourth Estate
Paperback 573 pages including imdex

 

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#AtoZChallenge K – K is for Keating by Kerry O’Brien

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter

 

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.

26789707

Summary

Paul Keating was Prime Minister of Australia, during the most significant period of political and economic reform in the history of Australia. Twenty years later, there hasn’t been an autobiography published, and Keating has never spoken about this period. There has been no memoir from this ex Prime Minister who was always considered to be a supreme political storyteller. 

This book fills that gap. Well known journalist and TV interviewer, Kerry O’Brien knew all the players, lived the history and has spent many hours with Keating teasing out the stories and testing his memories.

The result is this great book of anecdotes, insights, reflections and occasional admissions from one of the most loved and most disliked political leaders in our time. The format of this book is question and answer interview style.

My Thoughts

I first came across this book when I attended a session at The Bendigo Writers Festival, where Kerry O’Brien was discussing his book Keating, which had only recently been published. I attended this session because I was a fan of Kerry O’Brien but I never expected to read the book as I thought it would be too political and too heavy for me. But after hearing O’Brien speak, I couldn’t wait to get started.

Even though Keating is based on politics, it isn’t a dry text book type read as the style is very conversational. I really enjoyed reading Keating‘s view on events that occurred during his time as Prime Minister and the preceding years.

I remember Paul Keating as being a colourful character with a wonderful way with words. He always seemed to be able to cut his opponent in half with his words.  I love to see old footage of him when he was speaking in Parliament. If only politicians today were so clever with their words.

I did love this book, and I felt it was my privelege to read it. Despite it’s many pages, once I started reading, I coudn’t put it down. It was both serious and very humorous. I was surprised to read that this great, seemingly confident leader suffered with his own insecurities and moments of doubt at times. As well as delving deeply into events during Keating’s time as Prime Minister, this book shows a human side to the man that little is known about.

My Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

About the Author

Kerry O’Brien is one of Australia’s most respected journalists, with six Walkley awards, including the Gold Walkley and the Walkley for Outstanding Leadership in journalism. In a 50 year career, he has worked for newspapers, television, a wire service, and as a foreign correspondent.

Thirty three of those years have been at the ABC, where he was the host of many current affairs programs including Four Corners. He has interviewed most of the influential leaders of his time including Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama, Mikhail Gorbachev, Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair. He was a press secretary to Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam, in the early days of his career.

Published in 2015 by Allen & Unwin
794 pages including notes, photos, sources and a comprehensive index

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#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary badge

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Image: Goodreads