Tag Archives: memoir

The Language of Kindness: A Nurses Story – Christie Watson

28 Jan


Format – Audiobook

Synopsis – Christie Watson was a nurse for 20 years. Taking us from birth to death and from A&E to the mortuary, The Language of Kindness is an astonishing account of a profession defined by acts of care, compassion and kindness.

We watch Christie as she nurses a premature baby who has miraculously made it through the night, we stand by her side during her patient’s agonising heart-lung transplant and we hold our breath as she washes the hair of a child fatally injured in a fire, attempting to remove the toxic smell of smoke before the grieving family arrive.

In our most extreme moments, when life is lived most intensely, Christie is with us. She is a guide, mentor and friend. And in these dark days of division and isolationism, she encourages us all to stretch out a hand.

My Thoughts – I downloaded this book from audible as it was on the Daily Deal for a day. The book is a memoir of Christie Watsons life as a nurse, the career that she has had and patients that she has treated. What makes this book really good is that she narrates it herself which for a medical audiobook can only be a good thing. You could tell with her as a narrator that she understood the medical terminology well and was able to explain it in a really easy to understand way.

This book is called ‘The Language of kindness’ and it really made me reflect on the times that I have been in hospital both myself as a patient and with my children. For example – I had my tonsils removed when I was five – over 20 year ago now and I can still remember the kind male nurse who looked after me in recovery. When my Son was born the kind nurses in the special baby care unit that care for him while I was recovering. The kind nurses that calmed me down when I had to have an emergency c-section early when my daughter was distressed and when she was readmitted to hospital at just 2 weeks old who cared for her so kindly.

I really feel that the author has captured what it meant to be a nurse. It was also quite thought-provoking in places – she was working really hard, being a mum and an author and still only just making ends meet. I honestly believe that nurses should have more funds available to them – but with the NHS the way it is at the minute I can see why this doesn’t happen.

Overall this was a really good book – one I would recommend.

Rating – 5/5

Strangeways: A Prison Officers Story – Neil Samworth – Book Review

17 Dec


Format – Audiobook

Synopsis – Neil ‘Sam’ Samworth spent 11 years working as a prison officer in HMP Manchester, aka Strangeways. A tough Yorkshireman with a soft heart, Sam had to deal with it all – gangsters and gangbangers, terrorists and psychopaths, addicts and the mentally ill. Men who should not be locked up and men who should never be let out.

Strangeways is a shocking and at times darkly funny account of life in a high-security prison. Sam tackles cell fires and self-harmers and goes head to head with some of the most dangerous men in the country. He averts a Christmas Day riot after turkey is taken off the menu and replaced by fish curry and stands up to officers who abuse their position. He describes being attacked by prisoners and reveals the problems caused by radicalisation and the drugs flooding our prisons.

As staffing cuts saw Britain’s prison system descend into crisis, the stress of the job – the suicides, the inhumanity of the system and one assault too many – left Sam suffering from PTSD. This raw, searingly honest memoir is a testament to the men and women of the prison service and the incredibly difficult job we ask them to do.

My Thoughts – I downloaded this book as I enjoy reading real life non fictin but I’ve never read one that is from a Prison Officers perspective. This was a really good book – it was shocking at times the things that a Prison Officer has to go through in there jobs – somethings that they shouldnt have to deal with. He also talks about high profile prisoners that he has met – some of which I had obviously heard of – others not so much! it was a real eye opening book and really made me think about the realities of PTSD and other mental health conditions.

Rating – 4/5

The Diary of a Bookseller – Shaun Bythell *Book Review*

12 Nov


Format – Audiobook

Synopsis – In these wry and hilarious diaries, Shaun provides an inside look at the trials and tribulations of life in the book trade, from struggles with eccentric customers to wrangles with his own staff, who include the ski-suit-wearing, bin-foraging Nicky. He takes us with him on buying trips to old estates and auction houses, recommends books (both lost classics and new discoveries), introduces us to the thrill of the unexpected find, and evokes the rhythms and charms of small-town life, always with a sharp and sympathetic eye.

My Thoughts – I downloaded this book as it was on the daily deal and I’d already got this book on my wishlist. This book is basically a year in the life of a man who owns a bookshop in Scotland. I found this book funny, sad, interesting, compelling all in equal measure. As a self-confessed bookworm I could see myself spending lots of money in a shop such as his. I found all of his anecdotes about his various customers and staff really funny.

It has made me think a lot about how I use Amazon though. Currently if I feel like ordering a book I tend to go on Amazon and order it through Amazon Prime. Having read this book I’m going to hunt out some local bookshops to me (I’ve just moved to a new area so not too sure whats about yet!) and browse their shelves more. He also runs The Random Book Club and I’m really tempted to join this too!

We are planning a trip to Scotland and I think that The Bookshop is definitely a place that I want to visit while we are there!

Overall an absolutely fantastic book that I was very sorry that had ended. I could have listened to many more years of this!

Rating – 5/5

Don’t Shoot! I’m Just The Avon Lady – Birdie Jaworski

15 Aug

Started – 5/8/12

Finished – 12/8/12

Format – Kindle e-book

Synopsis – For Birdie Jaworski, life as an Avon Lady was a bittersweet mix of embarking on gossip-worthy adventures, searching for Mr. Right, and making emergency lotion requests in the middle of the night… while managing as a single parent.

Birdie hawks Avon at a strip club, a bowling alley on Men’s League Night, and of course door-to-door. She meets customers who answer the door naked, who want to buy wrinkle cream for their pet monkey, or who are harboring dark – and funny – secrets. She even sells Avon to celebrities who want to keep their zits a secret!

The book reveals a surprising and touching account of her personal life when Catholic Charities calls her and tells her the daughter she gave up for adoption is now an adult and wants to meet her. This book follows Birdie’s journey during one summer while she decides whether to meet her daughter while selling Avon cosmetics door-to-door. A funny and beautifully touching read.

My Thoughts – I downloaded this book because it was free on the kindle store for a day. My mother in law did Avon for a bit and i thought it would be a good idea to read this book and have a bit of a comparison.
This book is about Birdie Jaworski and her life. She has two young sons, a single parent and is trying to sell Avon. There is also a side plot to the book, she gave up a daughter for adoption many years ago.
I did try to get into the book and really did try to like it, but i just couldnt. I didnt really like all the name dropping of the Avon products. One or two would have been ok, but it seemed to be every other page at times and i just didnt like it much. It felt like i was reading an avon book at times.
I did like parts with her sons, i did find out lots about the author through this. I particually liked the part when they adopted a pig and the havoc that this caused.
I would have liked more focus on her daughter that she gave up for adoption. At times it felt like the avon side come before this. While i found out a fair bit of information about the situation she was put in, i would have liked more of a focus on this part.It is a memoir, and it comes across in that way. It was a little disjointed at times and i would have liked it to flow a bit better. I suppose if you are an avon lady you might enjoy this, but unfortunatly i just didnt. I ended up skimming parts too.

Rating – 2/5

My House Looks Like A Fairyland Crime Scene – Ed Ergenzinger

24 Jul

Started – 8/7/12

Finished – 14/7/12

Format – Kindle e-book


Synopsis – The female to male ratio in my house is 3:1. I am reminded of this fact every time I empty the lint trap of the dryer – the wad of lint is always some shade of pink. Light pink, hot pink, grey-pink … pink is always in there.

In addition to being a dad, a husband, and a general goofball, I am a former scientist turned attorney who likes to write, paint, draw, and cook. I am overnourished, athletically challenged, and crowd-phobic. I have been known to do Wii Fit with a bourbon and coke in one hand. I check Facebook like a junkie takes a hit.

These are my stories.

My Thoughts – I downloaded this book as it was free for a day on the kindle store. This book is about a dad of two young daughters and this book is his memoirs. To me this book was very raw in the way that it was written. It seemed that he had poured everything into writing this book and as it is about his life it seems like he has spent an awful long time writing it.

At times this book was very funny, the author went into detail about his life with his young daughters and how he explained it, it came across very funny. For example he lists a chapter on top tips to cope with young daughter and this part was quite funny.

This book was quite short and to be honest id have liked it to go on a bit more. Also, it did jump about a little bit, i would have thought that it would have read a little bit better.

I dont really have all that much to say on this book, i enjoyed it, but im glad that i downloaded it when it was free.

Rating – 3/5

Just A Kid, A Guard At The Nuremberg Trials – Emilio DiPalma

6 Jul

Started – 23/6/12

Finished – 30/6/12

Format – Kindle e-book

Synopsis – “I was just eighteen years old when I was drafted in September of 1944, and taken into the infantry….” Just a kid, Emilio DiPalma found himself at center stage of one of the most dramatic trials of the twentieth century. He stood guard over the most notorious war criminals, and watched in horror as their atrocities were described in detail throughout the Nuremberg Trails.

In May 2000, his daughter Emily accompanied him to Germany and the site of the Trials. At that time, he began to dictate his memoirs to her. Here, in his own words, are the recollections of one member of the Greatest Generation.

My Thoughts – I downloaded this book as it was free for a day on Kindle. I am really interested in the second world war, however i havent read much about what happened in Germany after the war had finished.

Emilio DiPalma was a soldier in the armed forces during the second world war. The first part of the book goes into detail about his experiences during the war. He lost one of his comrades from a ‘flesh wound’ which for me was quite shocking, That sort of thing shouldnt happen, but it often did and this experience stayed with him for the rest of his life.

The majority of the book goes into details of the Nuremberg trials.I had heard of the trials but i wasnt too aware of what went on during those, so reading a first hand account was really fascinating for me. For example, i didnt know that a lot of ‘higher ranking Nazis’ including the commander of the Luftwaffe, Goring was put on trial here.

The authors photograph appeared in the newspaper back at home, much to the shock of his family back home as they didnt know what was happening to him, so i guess that for them it must have been a bit of a relief for them to see him in a safe environment.

I also didnt know that Goring killed himself the night before he was due to be executed. I thought that this was a bit of a way out for him, dying under his own terms other than being executed. However maybe i am looking at it from a modern perspective, as in this country the death penalty doesnt exsist anymore, but in other countries it does for war crimes.

At the end of the book there was a list of all the people put on trial and what the verdict was. So many of them were committed to death or put into prison for life. I wasnt aware that this happened after war. I hadnt really thought what would have happened to those that ordered and took part in those horriffic acts before.

What stands out for me the most is that in a couple of decades their wont be anybody left that fought during the second world war. They must not be forgotten, nor what their experiences were and this type of book is perfect for keeping the memory alive.

I enjoyed this book, its a fairly short book and its one that will stay with you for a long while.

Rating – 3.5/5

The Opposite of Fate – Amy Tan

4 Jul

Started – 5/6/12

Finished – 26/6/12

Format – Hardback Book

Challenges – Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge


Synopsis РUnbearably moving, intensely passionate, deeply personal account of life as seen through the eyes of one of America’s best-loved novelists

When I began writing this history, I let go of my doubts. I trusted the ghosts of my imagination. They showed me the hundred secret senses. And what I wrote is what I discovered about the endurance of love.

So writes Amy Tan at the beginning of this remarkably candid insight into her life. Tan takes us on a journey from her childhood, as a sensitive but intelligent young Chinese American, ashamed of her parents’ Chinese ways, to the present day and her position as one of the world’s best-loved novelists.

She talks of beauty and how she was perceived as a teenager in a country where Marilyn Monroe was the ultimate sex symbol. She describes the daily difficulties of being at once American and Chinese and yet feeling at times like she was truly neither. Most significantly, and heartbreakingly, she tells the history of her family: the grandmother who committed suicide as the only means of defiance open to her against a husband who ignored her wishes; her remarkable mother, whose first husband had her jailed when she tried to leave him; and the shocking deaths of both her father and husband when Amy was just 14. How this weight of history has brought itself to bear on the adult Amy looms large in her own story. Ghosts, chance and fate have played a part in her life, and The Opposite of Fate is an insight into those ancestors, the women who ‘never let me forget why these stories need to be told.’

My Thoughts – This book was picked as a group read for the Rory Gilmore challenge on the BCF. I really enjoy reading memoirs and this book was no exception. This book is about the authors life in China, America and many other countries in between.

Amy Tan grew up in China to start with in her life and had a very traumatic start to life. She lost her father and brother within six months of each other, and they both died of brain tumors. Her mother was also challenging at times and Amy had to also deal with this. Then they moved across to America and started a life their. This began a spate of moving across countries to other homes under her mums request.

In fairness she had a very trumatic life. One of her best friends was killed, on a night that she could have stayed in the house that he was in that very night. She also had to deal with her publisher dying of cancer and her mum being diognosed with alzheimers.

I found the differences in cultures very fascinating. Considering how her grandmother and mother lived in China and how Amy lived in America, it was all very different. In the book Amy goes back to China to visit her family and the differences in cultures was so apparent.

I wasnt aware of this author before i read her memoir, which is quite shameful considering how well known she is in America. I think i would have enjoyed the book even more if i had read some of her works, epecially The Joy Luck Club before reading the book.

I also liked how the book jumped about on the timescale. I found that this made the story a bit more interesting as you found out different parts of information as the story went on. My favourite part of the book was the chapter about What the Library Means to Me. This was a brilliant chapter and just shows how much books can mean to a person.

This is a wonderful book, it was fascinating to read about the authors life and also her works. I am now going to try and read more of her books.

Rating – 4/5