Showing posts with label memoir. Show all posts
Showing posts with label memoir. Show all posts

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Book Review: Your Time is Now by Brenda Mohammed



In this Memoir, Your Time is Now - A Time to be born and a Time to Die, the author uses quotations and references that connect to events in her life and the lives of others.
It is written, based on powerful words spoken by King Solomon in the Book of Ecclesiastes about times and seasons. "There is a time to be born and a time to die, and a time for every purpose under the Heaven."
The book is intended to help people understand their own lives and to realize that we are all here on earth for a purpose.
Poems and a section on A Brother's Wisdom are included.


Whilst Your Time is Now is a memoir with biblical undertones, I would like to split this review in two parts.

The story is about seizing the day, much like how Robin William's teacher wanted his class to do in Dead Poet's Society. I think we are all guilty to some extent about not seizing the day, seizing the moment. Then we reflect on such things and wonder why we weren't just a little bit braver. What would have been the worst thing that could have happened as a result of our actions? Whilst one book cannot hope to provide a satisfactory answer to such a question, it satisfies many of the author's search for meaning in her life. I am splitting my review not out of disrespect to the author's beliefs, it's just that my views are a little different and so I should be clear about that from the outset.

This is not the first memoir I have read by the author but it's probably the most interesting one - even though the others were extremely readable books in their own right. However, whilst there is some overlap, it still feels like a new read.

I especially enjoyed the part where Canadian missionaries approached the author's parents, seeking to adopt her. Canada is cold, more cold than the author's native Trinidad and Tobago, and it's clear she was happy not to be taken away. Her family is a large one and it is uplifting to read how much she loves her family.

Later elements talk about reaping what we sow. This is very true. As I have aged I think I have mellowed a lot - it's more likely I will say something nice and supportive rather than be snidey or cruel. There may be times to do that, but overall the message is 'look, life is short - be nice to each other'.

I don't know what would have been made of me if I had been there to experience the sermon on the mount. We all have complexities to ourselves, but without them, we would not be who we are. One hopes that if I do face that final judgement, I won't be considered a bad person, even though I am not fully into the beliefs referenced in this book. 

"The story is about seizing the day."

It's refreshing that one of the author's Directors commented on her being 'a Real Christian'. In England we are supposed to live in a Christian country, yet the display of crosses around our necks is considered controversial and possibly offensive. This is nonsensical to me. So long as no-one wishes to hurt me, I have no issue with them.

Perhaps my favourite line in the entire book is 'A highly evolved person is free from worry and depression and radiates calmness'. So true - and if only we could all live like that, impressing positive thoughts on those we interact with and yes, profess to love (even via blood or relationship status) the world would be a better place.

So forget the nonsense of a busy, noisy world. Most of the stuff we worry about is a waste of our time. We are better than that and should act accordingly.

Read this book and feel uplifted.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Book Review: My Life As A Banker by Brenda Mohammed



Fascinating, Intriguing, Inspiring, Positive, Heartwarming, and Motivational Memoir.
My Life as a Banker - A Life worth Living" is a banker's memoir, in which the author describes changes in the banking system, and changes in the bank's attitude to its employees throughout her working years, in a Trinidad bank with ties in the United Kingdom. 
It is the story of a pioneering female in a man's world. 
The book also reveals personal details about the author's life.
It is a Memoir worth reading.


For those of us who are not in the banking industry, and for me, especially living in a country where the capital is the financial hub of the country (perhaps the world) you might think a story called My Life As A Banker would be too dry to enjoy. 

Author Brenda Mohammed has written quite a few books across different genres. This book is a relatively quick read but readers can be taken along her life's journey as they turn the pages.

I found myself more interested in the 'Life Worth Living' elements of the book. I congratulate her hard work which allowed her to work in the banking industry and get promoted. But I was more interested in the personal side of things, for example how she met her husband (that's an excellent segment of the book) and also attaining her strict father's support for the marriage.

"An interesting and very readable memoir from one of the more creative authors out there."

The author's approach to writing this memoir is direct and therefore one imagines this is how she would speak in real life. But the tale is told with such verve and energy, it is an enjoyable book that people will find much to like.

The real life stories contained within are things we can all relate to. Things such as ending up in a great city like Toronto, but being sick at the time and told 'you shouldn't go out then'. But this is not the author's approach to life. If you have read her Travel Memoir With Pictures, you will understand what an accomplished traveller this lady is.

There's some surprisingly gory scenes in the book, tempered by some poignant sadness around certain family members, as well as the central theme of how the author made her living in the banking sector.

It's an interesting and very readable memoir from one of the more creative authors out there.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Book Review: I am Cancer Free by Brenda Mohammed



This is a most touching and emotional true story. of the author's battle with cancer. It is a detailed and personal account of how a very strong believer and family-oriented woman beat ovarian cancer. Although that type of cancer historically develops rapidly and has devastating effects, this true story shows how faith, family and love are a powerful force to reckon with


I am Cancer Free is an extremely positive title for something that is so terrifying to pretty much all of us, were we to be diagnosed with it.

No illness is pleasant, but surely cancer is one of the very worst, and although survival rates are increasing all the time depending on the type of cancer concerned, it is good to know that the author, who thankfully defeated this terrible disease, overcome it in order to pen this extremely good read.

From a carefree life, visiting friends and relatives, through to the initial concerns and then onto the diagnosis, the author takes us on a journey in this book. But potential readers shouldn't be put off by the subject matter. The author has bravely chose to share her experience with the reader. It is never negative, although some of it is very harrowing to read.

The description of the subsequent and very necessary operation which resulted in the author regaining her full health is a case of just enough information. There's no need for gory details and we don't get them. In essence, the author has the balance right between info-dumping and info-giving.

"From a carefree life, visiting friends and relatives, through to the initial concerns and then onto the diagnosis, the author takes us on a journey in this book."

Again, it's a book that educates and informs.

Thank goodness for medical insurance. In the UK, we are fortunate that the NHS provides many life saving treatments. I do hope the government (s) wake up and spend money on research to defeat this terrible disease in all its forms.

Well done to the author on the beating of this disease and in the creation of this book.

Friday, 18 March 2016

Book Review: To St Petersburg With Love by Mel Cormican



"To St Petersburg With Love" is a quirky travelogue that proves that life is often stranger - and more fun - than fiction. This is the tale of what happened when the author attempted to cycle around most of Northern Europe in 40 days.

The aim was that of a cycling purist: to cycle on all land between Southend and St Petersburg, and back. The trouble was with just weeks to go, he learned of someone who took 2 months to cycle one way from St Petersburg to London. Had he bitten off more than he could chew?

With his friend Craig, an impossibly tight schedule, visa and ship deadlines, bear fears, mishaps and good fortunes, they set off on a life changing adventure to see most of Northern Europe. This is the story of triumphs and tribulations, challenges and compromises, of battling against all the odds and learning to let go of the rules to live the adventure.

What began as an adventurous cycle to St Petersburg became a romantic story of love in Kaliningrad.

"Sometimes charity really hurts."

Sylvester Stallone, as Rocky Balboa, from Rocky III (1982)


Prior to 2003 I was an avid traveller. No sooner had I finished one trip, I would be off on another. Or planning another. Or thinking about it. Wherever I happened to be on the travel spectrum, I just wanted to be sampling another country as soon as I could.

Some places I loved so much that I visited them again and again. In Mel Cormican's excellent To St Petersburg with Love, we are taken on a two-wheeled journey (for the most part) and we see many European countries through Mel's eyes, but also through his co-cyclist Craig.

If you are a non-cyclist, you might think that there's not a lot on offer for you here. I for one found the book full of surprises and felt I was cycling along with Mel and Craig as they dodged European red tape, dodged cars on Russian motorways (it was a big road, who knew?) and dodged falling out with each other as they tried to reach their goal, for charity no less.

What might have turned out to be a dry diary is anything but. I suppose you would have to love travelling. I am huge fan of Michael Palin's BBC travelogues and like watching Michael Portillo's train journeys also. It's all about the unknown. Would Mel and Craig reach St Petersburg? Who would they meet along the way? What difficulties would they come up against?

Through another writer this project could have fallen on its face. It may have been well written, it may even pass as readable for an hour or two. But Mel Cormican is as engaging a writer as he is a determined cyclist. You really feel like you get to know Mel and Craig as you progress through the book.

The last third of the book takes a surprising turn that I did not see coming, and perhaps Mel didn't either. It rounds off an enriching tale that I would insist anyone would enjoy.

Craig smokes, Mel doesn't. One of my best friends is a Scot, and smokes like his life depends on it or paid by the tobacco companies to do so. It can be hard to deal with, though we all have our quirks. I felt that Mel coped with it well and Craig comes across as the perfect co-cyclist for the trip.

That's not all though. I like to read books that make me feel educated, and there's lots to pick up here - the beauty of the Polish language, for example. Mel includes many great phrases and even better than that, each new chapter that showcases a new country gives us the map and the route our two wheeled heroes are taking.

"Mel Cormican is as engaging a writer as he is a determined cyclist."

Add in a healthy smattering of photos taken with willing European locals (Latvia - I'm coming for you!) and you have an exciting read with a great heart at its core.

This is an accomplished work by a talented author. It takes a lot of determination to create a book. To do it based on this remarkable, life-changing bike journey is to be applauded.

Take a bow, Mel and Craig.