Tag Archives: Memoirs

Book Review: ‘3 Hour Dad’ by Adam T Hourlution

Title: 3 Hour Dad: Reading is Believing

Published: June 2018

Author: Adam T Hourlution

 

Blurb:

What would you do if you were suddenly told you were going to be a mum or dad without any notice? How would you react? What thoughts would go through your head? You haven’t prepared to be a parent, you’ve not made any arrangements and nobody in your family is aware.

Now imagine that not even the mum-to-be knew that she had been hiding a little person inside her tummy the entire time.

One day Adam, just your average, typical guy receives a call from his mother-in-law (to be!) summoning him to the hospital following his girlfriend being rushed in with suspected appendicitis only to discover that she is in fact having contractions and has been admitted to the labour ward.

This heart-warming and true story invites readers to step into Adam’s shoes and experience what it is like to be a 3 Hour Dad.

A proportion of sales is donated to a random act of kindness fund. To read more about this please refer to the about me section at the end of the book and help join in the 3hourlution.

 

Review:

Goes down as another off my 2019 Bookworm Bingo Challenge – A memoir.

Planning for becoming a father is something you usually have a bit of time to get your head around, so 3 hours is pushing it!

Talk about your life changing in the space of a moment. Adam was just having a chilled night in while his girlfriend Lyndsay was at her mums. Pizza, TV catch up and trying to secure the last figurine in his Star Wars collection. Good evening all round, right up to the shock phone call at midnight from his soon to be mother-in-law to say Lyndsay was at the hospital about to give birth in the delivery ward. Talk about getting a shock. Trying to put on clothes and drive to the hospital are challenges number 1 and 2. Challenge number 3 is on its way soon.

Interesting to see things from the guys perspective and how they were all trying to wrap their heads around what was happening. Shock of labour is one thing, then comes the realisation that you are now a family with a new baby that you have nothing for. Crazy shopping spree needed stat!

They do say that it can happen. A hidden pregnancy you only find out about when the little bundle decides to make an appearance. Thought is was a bit funny he called the baby his UCO – unidentified crying object – time to pick out a name.

Witty read that brings to life the situation they all found themselves in – shocked faces all round. You can plan all you like but sometimes things happen all at once, and in this case, in the space of 3 hours. I wonder if the next one will make such a dramatic entrance?

4 out of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the author for my honest review.

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Filed under Non-fiction, Reading Challenges, Reading Nook Blog Posts, Romantic Comedy / Humour

Author Interview: ‘Far Away and Further Back’ by Patrick Burns

About the Book:

After his first overseas assignment to the USA in 1975 – just twenty-three with a suitcase and a guitar – corporate nomad, Patrick Burns, kept on moving from country to country rarely declining a fresh challenge in a new location. In these stories from four decades of living and working around the world, he relives some of his most memorable experiences: from dangerous pyrotechnic liaisons in the Algerian desert to a quest to find the Archbishop of Rangoon after a chance meeting in an English village church. The locations and circumstances run the gamut of the quotidian to the exotic; context and time are less relevant than who is met, what transpires and how the experience says something about the human condition.

This exploration of the personal landscape of expatriate life is interwoven with a navigation of some of the ties that have bound his unusual Anglo-German family during the past century; a mixture of hardcore Yorkshire eccentricity (including a grandfather whose obsession with installing indoor toilets inadvertently led to a twenty-five year family rift) and a liberal academic, Hanoverian heritage disoriented by Hitler, the events of 1939-45 and Cold War detente.

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Purchase Links:

Amazon – UK / US

Author Interview:

 

1: Tell us a little about yourself and what got you in to writing?

I’m a retired senior human resources executive currently living to the north east of San Francisco. My specialization in international human resources meant that I spent nearly four decades living and working all over the world. Eight countries in total, involving thirteen international moves and twenty-one house moves.

Writing my most recent book “Far Away and Further Back” arose directly from that experience. I had already co-written one of the earliest “how to” books on expatriation (“The Expatriate Handbook – A Guide To Living and Working Overseas” Kogan Page 1993) so the broad subject area was my comfort zone.

This latest book is, hopefully, a lot less dry since it’s a recollection of some of the more memorable things that happened and people that I met in the course of my travels.

In all honesty I retired too soon and too quickly. I’d taken for granted the sense of self-worth that comes with having responsibilities and the need to make things happen in a business. I was desperately looking for something to replace that and writing about what I’d experienced seemed the best option. It gave me a voice I’d been searching for and a formula for writing that was fulfilling – something that allowed me to shake off the dissatisfaction, I still felt from dropping out of corporate life so suddenly

2: Do you have a favourite time and place where you write?

Not really. Some of the stories in my current book were started while I was still working and I always enjoyed writing at airports or on planes. It sort of fitted in with the subject matter. These days it’s a little more prosaic. A study overlooking the redwood trees in my garden is my normal perch. Very pleasant but fairly predictable…

I do tend to write best in the early evening before dinner. Probably the prospect of food spurs me on…

3: Where do your ideas come from?

In my case, real life. The stories I recount are 100% what happened. What I try to do is approach the point of the story obliquely and work into the main event – and the point of the narrative – in a way that may surprise the reader. The quest to find a Burmese Archbishop on a visit to Yangon starts with a chance meeting in the church where I was baptized in Yorkshire in England, and with a conversation about stained glass windows. In another story, I describe traveling through (and over) the equatorial rain forests of Borneo but the main event is the oddness of an encounter with a pocket-watch expert while waiting for the arrival of a helicopter in a jungle clearing.

4: Do you have a plan in your head of where the story is going before you start writing or do you let it carry you along as you go?

Yes I do usually have a plan. Again, since I’m giving an account of things that actually happened, I’m less concerned with plot development – given that the events are known. The planning is more in the way I approach the anecdote and what I want to leave in the reader’s mind about the person I met or the experience I had.

5: What genre are your books and what drew you to that genre?

I suppose they are a loose form of memoir focusing on travel related experiences and an unusual family history. I felt comfortable with this genre since I believed I’d had some funny and unusual experiences that I thought other people may enjoy hearing about. I use the term “loose” in connection with a memoir because, unlike many books in this genre, the stories aren’t really about me but about what happened when I was in a particular place.  Each story is datelined with a location – often well on the margins of where people usually go – and I consciously avoid a chronological approach to dispel the sense that this was some sort of sequence lifted from a diary.

The format I chose also gave me the opportunity to explore the view that history always informs experience and that family history shapes the person we become. Like many people, I’m fascinated by the way our lives, (in my case a life predominantly of expatriation,) and the way we see the world, are shaped from the intersecting of various lines of family history and events.

6: What dream cast would you like to see playing the characters in your latest book?

Interesting question! Most of the book relates to me in my twenties to forties so I would be looking for an English actor who can play both observer and protagonist depending on the circumstances. Tom Wilkinson (Full Monty) in his younger days would have been a contender. There are too many other people populating the twenty plus stories to work up a full cast – it would be a mixture of mainly British and American players with an equally long list of largely Asian  parts.

7: Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors?

I read less than I used to. Fiction doesn’t grab my attention the way it used to. I read a lot of rock biography and books on the history of rock music.

Favorite authors: Paul Theroux, David Mitchell, George Orwell, Anita Shreve, Kate Wilkinson. (Rock non-fiction: Richie Unterberger and  Barney Hoskyns.)

8: What book/s are you reading at present?

“The Sympathizer” – Viet Thanh Nguyen

“The Last Stand – Custer, Sitting Bull and the Battle of the Little Bighorn” – Nathaniel Philbrick

“Our Towns – a 100,000 Mile Journey into the Heart of America” – James and Deborah Fallows

9: What is your favourite book and why?

Probably Paul Theroux’s “Mosquito Coast” (but there are so many and it will undoubtedly be a different choice if I’m asked again next week.) Such an original story beautifully told.

I’d also have to put Theroux’s “Saint Jack” up there as well for the same reason – with its evocation of a long-gone Singapore, a place I spent more than ten years of my life and know well.

10: What advice would you give for someone thinking about becoming a writer?

I’m not qualified to give advice but the obvious thing to me is a) find a voice that suits you and b) just do it – don’t talk about it – but stop and start again with a different voice if it’s just not working. Flogging a dead horse doesn’t usually produce a worthwhile end result.

11: What are the best Social Media Sites for people to find out about you and your work?  

I have an author’s page on Facebook at Patrick H Burns where I am slowly loading photographs and commentaries that provide a backdrop to “Far Away and Further Back”.

Direct link: www.facebook.com/patrickharaldburns

 

About the Author:

In 2009, after more than thirty-five years of climbing, clinging onto, and occasionally sliding down the corporate ladder, Patrick Burns retired from an international business career in Human Resources. An opportunity to work on regional and global projects led to an early specialization in international HR and the chance to live and work all over the world. This included four assignments to Asia, where he spent a total of eighteen years, as well as other regional roles covering Europe-Africa, the Middle East and North and South America. Patrick was born in Yorkshire in the UK and now lives just outside San Francisco. He is married with four children.

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Filed under Author Interview, Reading Nook Blog Posts

Author Interview: ‘Is That The Shirt You’re Wearing?’ by Kristen Hansen Brakeman

About the Book:

The humorous essays in the memoir, Is That The Shirt You’re Wearing?, are woven together by journal entries from two summers in the author’s life when absolutely everything happened.The essays address a diverse range of topics, from Brakeman hating being called “Ma’am” (and proposing a wonderful alternative), to accidentally teaching her seven year old daughter to swear; from discovering the perils of shopping in the loud and stinky Hollister store, to being scolded by a Very Important Singer. Each essay is introduced by a journal entry that provides a humorous or poignant (yet always very relatable) update on the lives of her husband, three daughters, and elderly, yet still guilt-inducing mom. The journal entries emphasize the cyclical nature of life, and trace the author’s bumpy transformation from chronic planner to one who discovers the joy of living in the moment before she runs out of moments.

This is not a mommy blogger whining about her kids. Instead it’s a slice-of-life of a typical American family, a chronicle of the ups and downs of modern life. Readers of Brakeman’s previously published essays have compared her writing to that of Nora Ephron. Though the humor is often wry in tone, ultimately people will find this collection to be life affirming.

When not writing, mothering, daughter-ing, or wife-ing, Brakeman works behind-the-scenes on variety television shows. Also, she is a nice person and eats her vegetables.

PS. She lies about the vegetables.

 

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Purchase Links:

Amazon: UK / US

Author Interview:

1: Tell us a little about yourself and what got you in to writing?

When I was a kid and my friends were reading the Little House series, I would read my mom’s Erma Bombeck books. I remember my sister telling me, “You know those are written for forty-year-old women with kids.” I didn’t care. I thought they were hysterical. When I got out of college I tried my hand at writing sitcom scripts and screenplays, but in between I always wrote personal essays. Once I had children, and hence a virtual treasure trove of material, I got back into writing essays again. I’m most comfortable in that form.

2: Do you have a favourite time and place where you write?

I don’t have a desk or an office so I trade off working at the dining room table or on my bed or my daughter’s tiny desk, none of which are great options for proper posture. Mornings are when I’m most productive. If I start by 10:00A and work until 2:30P when my daughters come home from school then I’ll consider it a productive day. It’s difficult for me to write when anyone else is home (partly because read my writing aloud) so I really have to focus and protect that alone time.

3: Where do your ideas come from?

My family has been my greatest inspiration. Strange or funny things always seem to happen to us and at times I feel like I’m living in a sitcom. Other times I’m inspired to write because I’m frustrated about something and need to blow off steam. It’s much cheaper than therapy and writing about an experience often allows me to find the humor or the positive in the situation.

4: Do you have a plan in your head of where the story is going before you start writing or do you let it carry you along as you go?

Since I mostly write personal essays I know generally where the story is going because they’re based on a personal experience. However, many times I’ll start writing and realize that my perspective can change through writing – like when I begin writing a funny story about my husband noticing an unattractive hair on my chin, but then it became more about how couples look out for one another as they grow old together.

5: What genre are your books and what drew you to that genre?

Is That The Shirt You’re Wearing? is personal memoir told through essays. While most are funny in nature, some are more poignant, tackling subjects like the loss of my father and helping my husband cope with his cancer diagnosis. Much of my work revolves around being a Sandwich Generation parent, trying to satisfy the needs of my kids while also being dutiful daughter to my elderly mother. I’m drawn to writing essays because I love reading them. I’m a big fan of collections by David Sedaris, Nora Ephron, and Tina Fey to name a few.

6: What dream cast would you like to see playing the characters in your latest book?

Hah! I guess I’d be flattered to have Kristen Bell play the lead. She cracks me up, and she has a nice first name.

7: Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors.

I wish I could read more, but between work and the kids and writing, it’s difficult to find the time. But when I can I read comic essays or whatever the “hot” book is at the moment so I can fool people into thinking I’m smart and worldly. Also, I try to read serious fiction from time to time to keep the cobwebs out of my brain.

8: What book/s are you reading at present?

Just finished A Man Called Ove and I loved it! It had the perfect blend of humor and heart. I didn’t want it to end – always a good sign.

9: What is your favourite book and why?

I have fond memories of Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, because I love magical realism. For the same reason I loved Like Water For Chocolate.

10: What advice would you give for someone thinking about becoming a writer?

You have to want to write for the joy of doing it and not with the thought that you can earn a living. I love reader feedback – hearing people say that they could relate or that they got in trouble at work because they were laughing too loud reading my essays. That feedback has to be enough payment because there are very few writers who can actually make a living at writing. If you are debating about becoming a writer you probably shouldn’t. Because most writers do it because they feel compelled to – not writing it isn’t even an option.

11: What are the best Social Media Sites for people to find out about you and your work?  

You can find my website here: www.kristenbrakeman.com

Twitter: @KristenBrakeman

Facebook: www.facebook.com/kristenhansenbrakeman

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/kristenbrakeman

About the Author:

Kristen Hansen Brakeman’s essays have been published in The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, The New York Times Motherlode, Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop, and Scary Mommy, as well as The Sun, Working Mother, and LA Parent magazines.

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Filed under Author Interview, Reading Nook Blog Posts