The Forgotten Highlander by Alistair Uruqhart

theforgottenhighlanderThis is a remarkable story of survival of a young man from Scotland from the hands of the Japanese during the second world war.

Knowing that this is a true story makes it more sad reading. The brutality Alistair Uruqhart experienced as a POW is horrendous. It’s amazing how he and others survived but it’s heartbreaking that many did not.

The book was simply written thus easy to follow. The part towards the end when he came back home and trying to adjust to life again was kind of heartbreaking.

It’s a good read and will make you feel blessed for not having to experience the horrors of war.

Quotable Quotes:
“Life is worth living and no matter what it throws at you it is important to keep your eyes on the prize of the happiness that will come. Even when the Death Railway reduced us to little more than animals, humanity in the shape of our saintly medical officers triumphed over barbarism… Remember, while it always seems darkest before the dawn, perseverance pays off and the good times will return.”
“We all worked so hard that, just trying to survive, each person became more and more insular as it became more difficult. It required a superhuman effort to make it to the end of each day.”

Rating: 3/5 stars

Unstoppable: My Life So Far by Maria Sharapova

maria-sharapova-unstoppable-book-cover-2017-0I am not a big fan of Maria Sharapova but I’m a big tennis fan. She won’t even be on my top five favorites but given that she’s one of the hottest tennis players and one of the most popular faces on tour, I am curious to know about her story and thought this book would make me understand why she behaves the way she does. Before reading this, I was already aware of her accomplishments, of the injuries she had and the doping incident which caused her being banned from the circuit. I wasn’t aware, however, of how everything started for her, what drives her to play, what inspires her, what motivates her.

Unstoppable is Maria Sharapova’s memoir. She’s from Russia but moved to the US to train when she was six years old together with her father, in hopes to become a tennis superstar someday as her father believes she will be. She’s won five Grand Slam titles to date. She became an overnight sensation when she beat Serena Williams in the 2004 Wimbledon final as a seventeen year old. The book tells Maria’s share of highs and lows, struggle and success. From winning tournaments and Grand Slams, her rivalry with Serena Williams (it wasn’t much of a rivalry I think since Serena always beat her… well okay, one-sided rivalry?), her shoulder injury and of course, the doping incident.

I wasn’t a big fan of Maria before I read this and still not after, however, I admire her determination more now. It’s good to know and understand her and her journey. She is an accomplished player and definitely have a story of her own to tell.

Whether you’re a tennis fan or not, penned down in simple language with Rich Cohen, this is worth your time reading.

Quotable Quotes:

“As hard as I practice, I have learned that doing nothing is just as important as doing everything.”

“You can’t control what people say about you and what they think about you. You can’t plan for bad luck. You can only work your hardest and do your best and tell the truth. In the end, it’s the effort that matters. The rest is beyond your control.”

“I know what losing does to you. I’d learned its lessons on tennis courts all over the world. It knocks you down but also builds you up. It teaches you humility and gives you strength. It makes you aware of your flaws, which you then must do your best to correct. In this way, it can actually make you better. You become a survivor. You learn that losing is not the end of the world.”

“What sets the great players apart from the good players? The good players win when everything is working. The great players win even when nothing is working even when the game is ugly; that is, when they are not great. Because no one can be great every day. Can you get it done on the ugly days, when you feel like garbage and the tank is empty?”

“There is no perfect justice, not in this world. You can’t control what people say about you and what they think about you. You can’t plan for bad luck. You can only work your hardest and do your best and tell the truth. In the end,it’s the effort that matters. The rest is beyond your control.”

Rating: 4/5 stars

Book #49 – 2015 Reading Challenge – A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah

This book intrigued me when I first saw it in the bookstore while checking out the non-fiction shelf. I can’t remember reading anything about boy soldiers before and I’m glad I picked this up. Book #49 for my 2015 Reading Challenge…

When I was 12 years old, I was enjoying a fruitful life with my parents and brothers. I go to school, I play sports, hang out with friends, travel, etc. Life was great. But when Ishmael Beah was at that same age, he was running for his life in Sierra Leone, became a boy soldier left with only two choices: kill or be killed.

This is a quick, great and honestly-written book worth reading. My only disappointment was the ending. He mentioned in the book that he ended up living in the US with his adoptive mother but I wanted to know more how he got there from Guinea and what happened after. Other than that, I highly recommend this book to everyone, though it’s a heart-breaking story, it is an important topic/subject everyone should be aware of. It’s a great read that will make you step back, stop complaining and be thankful for what you have.

Favorite quotes : “Some nights the sky wept stars that quickly floated and disappeared into the darkness before our wishes could meet them.”

“Some people tried to hurt us to protect themselves, their family and communities…This was one of the consequences of civil war. People stopped trusting each other, and every stranger became an enemy.”

“At night it felt as if we were walking with the moon. It followed us under thick clouds and waited for us at the other end of dark forest paths. It would disappear with sunrise but return again, hovering on our path. Some nights the sky wept stars that quickly floated and disappeared into the darkness before our wishes could meet them. Under these stars I used to hear stories, but now it seemed as if it was the sky that was telling us a story as its stars fell, violently colliding with each other. The moon hid behind clouds to avoid seeing what was happening.”

“My childhood had gone by without my knowing, and it seemed as if my heart had frozen.”

Rating : 4/5 stars