Blest Atheist by Elizabeth Mahlou

blest atheist

Synopsis taken from http://www.blestatheist.com:

As a young child, outraged by the hypocrisy she finds in a church that does nothing to alleviate the physical and sexual abuse she experiences on a regular basis, Beth delivers an accusatory youth sermon and gets her family expelled from the church. Having locked the door on God, Beth goes on to raise a family of seven children, learn 17 languages, and enjoy a career that takes her to NASA, Washington, and 24 countries. All the time, however, God keeps knocking at the door, protecting and blessing her—which she realizes only decades later. Ultimately, Beth finds God in a very simple yet most unusual way. A very human story, Blest Atheist encompasses the greatest literary themes of all time – alienation, redemption, and even the miraculous. The author’s life experiences, both tragic and tremendous, result in a spiritual journey containing significant ups and downs that ultimately yield great joy and humility.

This is the story of Elizabeth Mahlou’s life. It is harrowing and encouraging. She is honest, realistic and humble. The book begins with Beth telling us about how she spoke at a Russian Orthodox church about her role as a Good Samaritan in helping Shura, a boy in Siberia with Spina Bifida. The book is full of how she meets people, how she connects and copes in different countries and how her contacts and friends enable her to help many people. She has multiple degrees, can talk a range of languages and has many fascinating stories, such as how she was one of the only American’s allowed in Russia during the Cold War. Yet she does not brag and is not big headed. She is honest and humbled by her truly amazing experiences. She sees all of them as a chance to help others. She talks about her family and the abuse all her siblings suffered from different family members but how they supported each other and looked out for each other, and ultimately survived.

The second part of her book examines how she changed from an atheist to a practising Christian. She talks about how God has always rescued her, had a plan and loved her. How all the “coincidences” in her life were likely to be from God. She relays miracles she has seen, the faith of others and how ultimately her life was changed.

This is an amazing read. Even if you aren’t interesting in God or religion this book is inspiring and beautiful. Many lives have been changed through Mahlou’s work, and I think maybe will be changed by this book. This is a must read.

9/10

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The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson

Synopsis:

Some say that the first hint that Bill Bryson was not of Planet Earth came when his mother sent him to school in lime-green Capri pants. Others think it all started with his discovery, at the age of six, of a woollen jersey of rare fineness. Across the moth-holed chest was a golden thunderbolt. It may have looked like an old college football sweater, but young Bryson knew better. It was obviously the Sacred Jersey of Zap, and proved that he had been placed with this innocuous family in the middle of America to fly, become invisible, shoot guns out of people’s hands from a distance, and wear his underpants over his jeans in the manner of Superman. Bill Bryson’s first travel book opened with the immortal line, ‘I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to.’ In his deeply funny new memoir, he travels back in time to explore the ordinary kid he once was, and the curious world of 1950s America. It was a happy time, when almost everything was good for you, including DDT, cigarettes and nuclear fallout. This is a book about growing up in a specific time and place. But in Bryson’s hands, it becomes everyone’s story, one that will speak volumes – especially to anyone who has ever been young.

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This is the first Bryson book I have read and I really enjoyed it. The book follows Bryson’s childhood, into teen years and was very funny. I was laughing out loud at most of the story. It was easy to read, a quick and satisfying read.

Bryson does put the book in historical context and talks about historic events that occurred in the 1950s and 1960s, including the Cuban Missile Crisis and the the threat of atomic bombs. However, this was interesting and often amusing as he explains how these events were viewed through a child’s eyes.

He is very honest about what he got up to as a child, including minor thefts and bunking off school. He recalls many funny events and the life he lead in 1950s Iowa. The end was a bit sad, when he talks about what remains of his childhood town and the memories of his friends. But overall, a hilarious book which I really enjoyed.

9/10

Look Who It Is! by Alan Carr

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From the front cover flap:

Hello and welcome to my life.

Oh, and what a life! From the grimness of doing data entry for Mr Dog to the dizzy heights of `The Friday Night Project’ and performing for Her Majesty at the Royal Variety Performance. My life’s been like a long flume, up and down with a couple of damp patches in the middle.

Take my hand, I want to lead you through my life. Within these pages you will come face to face with my parents, my dog Minstrel, my friends and a whole load of waifs and strays that have helped to make my journey that little bit more memorable. When you read Look Who It Is! I’m sure you’ll agree – it’s just been one thing after another.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to all. It follows Alan’s life up until he accepts the offer to host The Friday Night Project with Justin Lee Colins. It is easy to read, interesting and engaging. He was very honest and I feel I know him now, and would like to meet him. It was very enlightening, I had thought Alan had been on the comedy scene for longer than he has. In fact, it was around 2005 he began to get famous.

Alan does not just talk about comedy though. He speaks of his family, including his famous, football manager Dad, Graham Carr and all his life experiences to date, which include university, travelling around the world and horrid temp jobs such as working in a call centre. There were several things in this book I could relate too, which made it even more enjoyable.

The book was not as funny as I was expecting it to be, however it did have me laughing and chuckling in places so I don’t feel particularly let down.

This is a great book; an honest story where Alan says it like it is, and doesn’t go for the sympathy vote. It is a bit cheeky that he has left the door open for a sequel in a few years, but hey, good for him.

An enjoyable book.

9/10

Humble Pie (Quick Reads) by Gordon Ramsay

I have just finished Humble Pie (Quick Reads) by Gordon Ramsay

 

Amazon synopsis:

Everyone thinks they know the real Gordon Ramsay: rude, loud, driven, stubborn. But this is his real story! In this fast-paced, bite-sized edition of his bestselling autobiography Ramsay tells the real story of how he became the world’s most famous and infamous chef: his difficult childhood, his brother’s heroin addiction, his failed first career as a footballer, his fanatical pursuit of gastronomic perfection and his TV persona – all the things that have made him the celebrated culinary talent and media powerhouse that he is today. Gordon talks frankly about: / his tough childhood: his father’s alcoholism and violence and the effects on his relationships with his mother and siblings / his first career as a footballer: how the whole family moved to Scotland when he was signed by Glasgow Rangers at the age of fifteen, and how he coped when his career was over due to injury just three years later / his brother’s heroin addiction. / Gordon’s early career: learning his trade in Paris and London; how his career developed from there: his time in Paris under Albert Roux and his seven Michelin-starred restaurants./ kitchen life: Gordon spills the beans about life behind the kitchen door, and how a restaurant kitchen is run in Anthony Bourdain-style.

/ and how he copes with the impact of fame on himself and his family: his television career, the rapacious tabloids, and his own drive for success.

I was a bit surprised by this book. I had no idea what to expect, and I knew nothing about Gordon Ramsay at all. He is very open and honest about his childhood, which seemed horrible, experiencing domestic violence and poverty. However, he does not dwell on the issue to gain sympathy. He is honest and then moves on the story. His rise to fame wasn’t easy but he is someone who has worked very hard, and often for no pay, to get to where he is today.

 

He explained restaurant ratings well, and he has broken a few records. I had no idea how many restaurants he owns, but he has a little empire it seems. He is honest and open, he gives his opinion about what he likes, how he works, what he wants in his kitchen and he defends his friends, such as the Beckham’s.

 

Having read this and seen how much blood, sweat and tears have gone into making him, I have a lot more respect for him. He has come from nothing to having restaurants and media success all over the world, quite an achievement.

 

This was a Quick Read so was only 83 pages. I didn’t feel I missed out not reading the longer version though, this was detailed, fast paced and easy to read.

 

My only complaint would be his bad language, which does some through in the book. However, that isn’t really a surprise!

 

A good read

8/10