Whilst I’m new to audio books, this is one that I would 100% not recommend getting in print. Having the audio book version with Will Smith himself telling his story was amazing. And that doesn’t even take into account the musical moments throughout. Examples of the raps and tunes he’s talking about just bring this even more to life.
I’ve been doing a bit of binge watching of Fresh Prince lately. It’s been very interesting to watch that and listen to this audiobook throughout the same time period. There’s so many more bits of information that I picked up on. Background tidbits that somehow add more to the storyline and give even greater context to the jokes made throughout.
I’m not going to lie, this is definitely a biography written by a bit of a narcissist. There are many moments throughout where Will tries to sound wise and all knowing. And to me it just doesn’t quite come of that way. Not to say that his worldview isn’t inherently interesting. And honestly, for someone to do as well as he has in his chosen careers… you’ve got to be a narcissist. But, it definitely made a large contrast in tone to the types of biographies I have been listening to.
I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the insanity that is celebrity life. The kind of personality and drive it takes to ENJOY such a way of living. It’ll be a long time before I want to dive into this world again. But for those 17 hours, it was fun.
My coach told me about this book and, after a bit of a delay, I decided to download and listen to the audiobook. I knew that it would be good and interesting. But I had no idea just how… unforgettable it would be. Not to mention seriously confusing, overwhelming and intense. I’ve always joked that BJJ is a bit of a cult – I didn’t quite realise how correct and true to reality that comment would be.
Listening to this story of the origins of BJJ and the history of the Gracie family while I was driving to and from BJJ training was definitely a bit of a surreal experience. I had some basic understandings of where the martial arts form comes from. And I had some understanding of the intricacies and politics of the Gracie family. But, honestly, until I read this – I didn’t realise that I just had no idea.
Although the focus on this biography is very much around fighting and martial arts, it also talks about family and love. Rickson Gracie talks about his (many, many) brothers, his father, his children, his wife… and all of it intertwined with his life and love of BJJ. There are many moments of wisdom and love that I took away from his story that I really wasn’t expecting. I know that BJJ was developed for those who are smaller and not necessarily stronger than their opponents. But I didn’t expect such a spiritual journey and attachment, such a beautiful acceptance of life in all of its glory and horrors.
For anybody who is interested in sports, spiritual wellbeing and the growth of an international phenomenon, this is the biography for you. I love that not only does Gracie talk about the origins of BJJ, his own family history, and his training, but the origins of UFC also take centre stage here. I honestly had no idea how intertwined BJJ was with UFC from the very beginning – I thought it was just something that had evolved over time. Definitely a book that I will be picking up again and again and again.
Stephen King fascinates me. And terrifies me. I mean, that is a twisty man who writes the kinds of stories he writes. Which all leads me to be fascinated by the idea of his take on writing and his own writing history. Who wouldn’t be? He’s one of the most famous writers…
I really enjoyed how this book was set out. It starts with a more autobiographical account if King’s life. And then heads towards tales and information on how he actually goes about the writing process. It males a complete logical sense and still provides insights to the man behind the writing.
Personally, although I enjoyed all of the writing on HOW to write. It was the autobiographical aspect of this novel that I loved. And it’s this first half that I would read again.
As someone who has had a few years of drinking too heavily and experiencing blackouts… this hit a bit too close to home. But in a good way. Because rather than being judgemental and harsh, Hepola talks about her journey with acceptance, honesty and a good dose of humour. Brutally honest and wonderfully open, this book was definitely well worth the read.
Not only does this memoir delve into issues with alcohol, but also talks about what its like to be a woman. We’re in a world where being a drinker as a woman is impressive in your late teens and early twenties. But by the time you start edging towards the thirties? Expectations change. Its a hard reality to walk and Hepola did such justice to highlighting how difficult it is to navigate.
One of the many aspects of this memoir that I loved is that Hepola doesn’t blame her insecurities and reliance on alcohol on anyone or anything. In fact, she mentions friends having concerns about their kids following the same route she did and pointing out that there’s nothing that can be done. There is no blame or fault throughout this, and its… a refreshing way to talk about an issue that affects a lot of people.
Once I opened the first one of Blackput, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. There is something intense and honest about this. And a little too relatable. It’s definitely a journey that I look forward to taking again and again. I reminder of the line that we all need to draw, and how some people have more difficulties with that than others.
Title: Anna: A Teenager on the Run Author: Anna Podgajecki Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!) My Bookshelves:Biographies, Memoirs, War Dates read: 2nd February – 23rd April 2021 Pace: Slow Format: eBook, Novel Publisher: Amberly Publishing Year: 2011 5th sentence, 74th page: The unfinished building had two giant windows facing the yard where the murderers were standing, but above me there was an attic.
Part of a new Holocaust remembrance series of important testimonies and memoirs from the unique collections of Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Centre.
Anna Podgajecki was born in Korzec, on the Polish–Russian border. As life for the Jews became steadily worse, Anna’s parents insisted that she, the oldest of their seven children, try to escape, survive and report to the world on the atrocities that were taking place.
For three years Anna lived in constant fear of discovery. She wandered from place to place and found work as a translator, a housekeeper and finally a nurse on the Russian front. Through luck, good timing, personal charm, a talent for languages and her special beauty, she was able to avoid death.
Anna’s reflections on her escape and survival are both remarkable and touching, arousing our curiosity about the human instinct to survive, despite all odds.
This novel is fucking brutal and heartbreaking. In a way that I can’t even begin to describe. It is just…. Wow. Not for the faint of heart. And even difficult for people with a strong spine. It took me forever to get through because I could honestly read a maximum of three chapters in one hit before I started getting dragged into a really dark place. Which, honestly, is kind of exactly what this story should be doing. After all, it’s about the holocaust.
I’ve read a few stories about World War II and the holocaust. And even accounts of other wars. But this is most definitely the most brutal I’ve read. Other stories offer an almost sense of hope, and you can see where certain aspects of the tale are kind of glossed over. That is not the case with Anna’s writing (I can’t even use her last name like I do with many other reviews because of the honesty). Anna takes you right into the heart of her heartbreak and horror. And she leaves no stone unturned. There is zero glossing over and nothing, and I mean nothing, is hidden.
This tale doesn’t just talk about what Anna experienced to survive as a Jew in WWII, but it also talks of the aftermath. After all, even though the war was over and occupation ended, there were (and still are) many scars and divisions that were left behind. It took her a long time to be able to feel safe even admitting that she was a Jew – even though technically she could.
Even writing this review, I can feel that uncomfortable swelling in my chest that was my companion throughout this whole story. Reading a war memoir should never be comfortable. But the horrors that are recounted in this writing… I just don’t have the words.
Title: Zlata’s Diary Author: Zlata Filipovic Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!) My Bookshelves:Biographies, Memoirs, War Dates read: 25th – 26th March 2021 Pace: Slow Format: Novel Publisher: Puffin Books Year: 1993 5th sentence, 74th page: We don’t think about the shelling or the war.
I’m trying to concentrate so that I can do my homework (reading) but I simply can’t. Something is going on in town. You can hear gunffire from the hills!
This entry in Zlata’s diary in April 1992 shows how the war draws relentlessly closer to her hom ein Sarajevo. When she starts her diary, Zlata tells of her normal, happy life with her family and friends. But soon they are fighting to survive. Zlata’s very personal accoutn is a vivid portrait of an innocent child caughht up in a terrible war.
I put this book on my wish list because it was a book read by the Freedom Writers. I knew absolutely nothing about Sarajevo or Bosnia or the war that was occurring literally on the day that I was born. And although I still don’t know much at all about the politics of the situation and all the ins and outs. Reading about a child’s thoughts during war… terrifying.
After having read The Diary of Anne Frank, it is terrifying to read yet another tragic story. Although, admittedly, there was a much happier ending to this tale. The innocence of Zlata just shines out of the pages, and the terror and confusion that she felt… it is an incredibly uncomfortable read this novel. One that I would suggest for everyone. But still incredibly informative.
I had to read this novel in small bites – it is incredibly heart wrenching and horrifying. It is also kind of hopeful. A great reminder of the power of the human spirit. The part that I loved the most about this was the power of the human spirit. And the ways in which all of Zlata’s family and neighbourhood banded together to support one another. It’s not the kind of thing that can always be hoped for, and it is a reminder that people can survive anything.
Zlata’s diary is a powerful and wonderful read. It is definitely not a feel good story or one that I necessarily felt the need or desire to read before bedtime, but it was definitely one that I will go back to in the future. And I would most definitely recommend it to others.
Title: Lucky Child: A Daughter of Cambodia Reunites with the Sister She Left Behind Author: Loung Ung Series: Daughter of Cambodia #2 Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect) My Bookshelves:Biographies, History, Memoirs, War Dates read: 27th February – 13th March 2021 Pace: Slow Format: Novel Publisher: Harper Perennial Year: 2000 5th sentence, 74th page: While they chatter away about the farm and the weather, Cou slowly fold Khouy’s clothes and lays them on the plank.
The author of the critically acclaimed bestseller First They Killed My Father returns with a searing and redemptive story of life in America as a Cambodian genocide survivor.
After enduring years of hunger, deprivation, and devastating loss at the hands of the Khmer Rouge, ten-year-old Loung Ung became the “lucky child,” the sibling chosen to accompany her eldest brother to America while her one surviving sister and two brothers remained behind. In this poignant and elegiac memoir, Loung recalls her assimilation into an unfamiliar new culture while struggling to overcome dogged memories of violence and the deep scars of war. In alternating chapters, she gives voice to Chou, the beloved older sister whose life in war-torn Cambodia so easily could have been hers. Highlighting the harsh realities of chance and circumstance in times of war as well as in times of peace, Lucky Child is ultimately a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and to the salvaging strength of family bonds.
This is just as hard hitting as the first Ung book, First They Killed My Father. It is dark, twisted and definitely the type of book that you need to read only in certain moods. But it is also important, poignant, and brilliantly written. I loved every moment of reading this. Even if it wasn’t the type of book that I wanted to read each and every day.
The entire time I read this memoir, my heart honestly ached. It is an incredibly tragic tale. One that, even though Loung gets out of Cambodia young, continues on. She manages to write about her PTSD and the difficulties of adapting to a foreign country in a way that is a little heartwrenching, incredibly realistic, but still not so overwhelming that you can’t stomach the idea of reading the story. It’s a fine line to walk when retelling tales of war and PTSD, but Ung manages to do so in a relatable and approachable way. Now I can’t wait to read the final book in this trilogy!
My sister is my favourite person in the world. She is my best friend, confidant and the person that honestly understands me more than anyone else. It is obvious from the way that she writes that Ung feels very much the same. Which probably is what made this story so hard for me to read – Loung and Chou are separated for fifteen years in a time that would have been crucial to both of them in their social and physical growth. It is definitely a little heart wrenching. But I love that there is this constant reminder that sisters are forever. That no matter the time that passed, they were still sisters and still loved each other dearly.
This is a great way to tell the story of two sisters – you journey alongside both Loung and Chou to find out what their lives were like after the war and the genocide. It helps to show how different twists of fate can make two lies. And how intensely the past can affect our every day lives. It is one of those stories that will stick with me forever and I will probably reread this multiple times in the future.
Title: I Am Malala Author: Malala Yousafzai Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again) My Bookshelves:Biographies, Feminism, Memoirs, Strong women Dates read: 11th – 16th October 2020 Pace: Medium Format: Novel Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson Year: 2012 5th sentence, 74th page: But all this time the mufti was watching.
I come from a country that was created at midnight When I almost died it was just after midday. When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan. One girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education. On Tuesday October 9 2012 when she was fifteen. She almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school and few expected her to survive. Instead. Malala’s miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen she became a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest nominee ever for the Nobel…
There are just some people in the world who seem to make me feel bad for the many, many things that I don’t do. It’s not necessarily a bad thing… just a, well… thing. That feeling of guilt that accompanies the reminder that there are some seriously bad arse, tough, amazing women out in the world. And Malala Yousafzai is most certainly one of them. That’s not to say that reading I Am Malala made me feel guilty or horrible, but it served as a reminder of the awesomeness of this young woman.
The journey that Malala takes is just phenomenal. And I can’t really describe that feeling of this is really awesome that you will get whilst reading this. Not just because of what Malalahas accomplished, but also the family that she’s from and her love of her people and country. Every single word in this novel speaks of humility and love. And it makes this just… phenomenal. And one of those books that is impossible to forget.
I love that this book, even though it is about Malala’s journey, is really mostly about her family. Almost every sentence is about them. And, in particular, her father. It shows you that people who create great change don’t actually do this on their own… they have a family and people around them that help them accomplish everything and anything that they put their mind to. And for Malala, that driving factor is her father. And, considering the culture in which they both come from… that is somehow all that much more phenomenal.
This is one of those books that I think everyone needs to read. It is phenomenal and powerful. Unforgettable and a seriously intense and glorious journey. This is just one of those novels and lives that I will remember anytime I’m feeling negative, pessimistic or like a downright bore.
Title: Truganini: Journey Through the Apocalypse Author: Cassandra Pybus Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!) My Bookshelves:Australian authors, Biographies, History, Indigenous Australians Dates read: 2nd – 20th July 2020 Pace: Slow Format: Novel Publisher: Allen & Unwin Year: 2020 5th sentence, 74th page: She was grieving the loss of their youngest son nine months earlier, and it was also time to reconnect with his five surviving children.
Cassandra Pybus’ ancestors told a story of an old Aboriginal woman who would wander across their farm on Bruny Island, just off the coast of south-east Tasmania, throughout the 1850s and 1860s. As a child, Cassandra didn’t know this woman was Truganini, and that she was walking over the country of her clan, the Nuenonne, of whom she was the last.
The name of Truganini is vaguely familiar to most Australians as ‘the last of her race’. She has become an international icon for a monumental tragedy: the extinction of the original people of Tasmania within her lifetime. For nearly seven decades she lived through a psychological and cultural shift more extreme than most human imaginations could conjure. She is a hugely significant figure in Australian history and we should know about how she lived, not simply that she died. Her life was much more than a regrettable tragedy. Now Cassandra has examined the original eyewitness accounts to write Truganini’s extraordinary story.
A lively, intelligent, sensual woman, Truganini managed to survive the devastating decade of the 1820s when the clans of south-eastern Tasmania were all but extinguished. Taken away from Bruny Island in 1830, she spent five years on a journey around Tasmania, across rugged highland and through barely penetrable forests, with the self-styled missionary George Augustus Robinson, who was collecting all the surviving people to send them into exile on Flinders Island. She managed to avoid a long incarceration on Flinders Island when Robinson took her to Victoria where she was implicated in the murder of two white men. Acquitted of murder, she was returned to Tasmania where she lived for another thirty-five years. Her story is both inspiring and herat-wrenching, and it is told in full in this book for the first time.
This was an amazing, must-read for all Aussies. It was one though that I would read a chapter and then pick up another, happier book. There is this tragic feeling that runs all the way through. There aren’t happy moments. This doesn’t give you hope for the future. Instead, it reminds you of the many atrocities which we really should be condemned for… but it’s well-worth the read. And impossible to forget.
The whole journey in this book is somewhat heartbreaking. But the very end of it… that was just a whole other level. Particularly considering Truganini feared her body being taken for science and begged someone to bury it in the deepest water she knew… only to find out that when she passed… her body was taken and mounted in a museum. I just couldn’t believe the horror of that and the cruelty. There was just something so incomprehensible and… just… no… about the whole situation.
I’m always trying to find out as much as I can about Australian history. And for me, this was a fantastic piece of that. I knew next to nothing about the plight of Indigenous Australians in Tasmania when the settlers came. Although I still feel like I know next to nothing… I felt like there was so much more that was revealed in this novel. Alright, it probably wasn’t’ my favourite biography, Pybus has a slightly drier writing style than what I prefer. But overall, it was somewhat amazing and a great way to highlight the plight and true journey of one well-known Indigenous Australian.
I received this book at the beginning of the year. And my biggest regret? That I didn’t read it sooner. This is a book that I think all Australians should read. One that is amazing and impossible to forget. Definitely at the top of my suggestions pile…
Title: First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers Author: Loung Ung Series: Daughter of Cambodia #1 Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again) My Bookshelves:Biographies, History, Memoirs, War Dates read: 3rd – 8th April 2020 Pace: Medium Format: Novel Publisher: Mainstream Publishing Year: 2000 5th sentence, 74th page: Geak continues to cry.
Until the age of five, Loung Ung lived in Phnom Penh, one of seven children of a high-ranking government official. She was a precocious child who loved the open city markets, fried crickets, chicken fights and being cheeky to her parents.
When Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge army stormed into Phnom Penh in April 1975, Loung’s family fled their home and were eventually forced to disperse in order to survive. Loung was trained as a child soldier while her brothers and sisters were sent to labour camps. The surviving children were only finally reunited after the Vietnamese penetrated Cambodia and destroyed the Khmer Rouge. First They Killed My Father is an unforgettable book, told through the voice of the young and fearless Loung. It is a shocking and tragic tale of a girl who was determined to survive despite the odds.
I bought this so that I would have an author whose names started with U. I had no idea what to expect and basically no knowledge of anything to do with Cambodia, refugees and the war in the 1970s. I mean, honestly, nothing. I didn’t even know that Pol Pot was associated with all of this… even though I know the name and that he’s a bad man. So this entire journey was one of discovery and just… awe. Nothing more than total and utter awe.
Until recently, I thought that I was a person made of some incredibly strong stuff. Tough, independent and of the ability to survive an untold number of things in my life. This story (amongst others that I’ve been reading) made me realise that I’m probably not made of this kind of tough stuff. WhatUng and her family went through is just completely unfathomable. It is intense, and horrifying and more than a little heartbreaking. Yet, there isn’t this sense of anger throughout the words. Which took me completely by surprise. After all, the horrors that Ung witnessed and survived as a young girl… I just don’t have the words.
Normally I like to read a biography before bed time. After all, they’re not as intense and fast-paced as many of my other novels. So they’re normally a good pick for right before bed time. This really didn’t fit that trend. The first few nights of reading this, I just read a chapter a night. But on the final night? I read all of it. In one hit. Because I just had to find out how Ung survived… and if any of her family were also able to survive.
I just don’t have the words for how amazing this novel is. It’s something that I think everyone should read. That way we don’t take our lives and livelihoods for granted so much. Or at least, that’s how this amazing journey made me feel. I can’t wait to read the next two books in this series!