March 16th, 2013

gothic, moonlight

Book 50: My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares

Book 50: My Name is Memory.
Author: Ann Brashares, 2010.
Genre: Contemporary and Historical Romance. Reincarnation. Metaphysics
Other Details: Paperback. 402 pages.

You have been with me from the very first life. You are my first memory every time, the single thread in all of my lives.

The male lead of this reincarnation-themed novel is Daniel, who has the ability to recall his past lives as well as being able to recognise the souls of those he has previously known. He is one of the few blessed (or cursed) with 'The Memory'. Since 541 AD, his first remembered life, he has been in love with the same girl. Life after life he has been drawn to the girl he calls Sophia, though she has no memory of him and each time they meet, they have been torn apart, often tragically.

In this present lifetime Sophia is named Lucy and in 2004 she is a high school junior in Virginia. Daniel keeps his distance not wanting to upset her though as time passes this changes and she finally begins to awaken to their shared past. However, there is danger in the form of Daniel's brother from a previous lifetime; a brother who not only shares 'The Memory' but has used it for sinister ends and is determined that there will be no lasting happiness for the couple.

Ann Brashares is well known for her YA series The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants. This is her second novel marketed for adults, though I think it still would have appeal for older teens. Their story from 2004 onwards alternates between Lucy/Sophia's and Daniel's perspectives with other chapters narrated by Daniel that recounts their various encounters throughout history. Their former lives tend to quite ordinary; Daniel reflects at one point that "the great hits of history go along without the notice of most. I read about them in books like everybody else."

It is not necessary to believe in reincarnation or the concept of soul mates to enjoy this novel. Unlike the M. R. Rose reincarnation novels Brashares doesn't seek to make a case for reincarnation and does not provide an author's note to state her own position on the subject. Reincarnation is something I consider in a very matter-of-fact way so I had no issues with the metaphysical aspects of the novel and was able to suspend belief about the concept of the highly detailed memories of Daniel and a sprinkling of others in the story.

The novel ends on a rather ambiguous note, which suggests that there is more story to tell. I read that Brashares had planned this as a trilogy but her publishers apparently haven't encouraged this. I suspect the reason may be that this is quite a philosophical novel, which is not in keeping with the majority of novels with these kind of themes. I admired it for that depth and overall enjoyed reading it. I am sure that if Brashares feels strongly enough that this story needs to be told she may be willing to explore alternative methods as other authors have done when projects that they feel passionate about have been blocked.

Note: I am rather surpised to have reached 50 books by the middle of March. My hope this year is to complete 200.
Dead Dog Cat


I buzzed through another book in the last couple of days.

This was Osprey Raid #21: Operation Archery: The Commandos and the Vaagso Raid 1941, which details the background about the UK Commandos and the specific target in Norway. I found it an engaging read.

Books 1 - 10.

1. Plath - The Collected Poems (re-read)
It's different yet still powerful to read these the second time :)

2. Ryan - This Year I Will...: How To Finally Change A Habit, Keep A Resolution, Or Make A Dream Come True
3. Duhigg - The Power Of Habit: Why We Do What We Do & How To Change
Read partly because they make a good start-of-the-year reading, and because they really do go together well - it really felt after reading these like I could start something just by following what they suggested. The second book also tells us the why of our habits, and the points are gathered at the end. If you had to buy just one, though, the first would be the best bet, really encouraging.

4. Luhrs - The Simple Living Guide: A Sourcebook For Less Stressful, More Joyful Living
I didn't keep this book. While it had a huge amount of useful hints, most didn't apply to me, I got a feeling of 'do this or-' (unfortunately) and the books is in need of some SERIOUS updating on sources, especially since it's clearly been made when Internet was still not in wide use *and* any post-mid 1990s sources are not there. Borrow first.

5. Collins - CSI:Cold Burn
The usual goodness and entertaining-ness, following two cases :)

6. Barry - A Friendship Like No Other: Experiencing God's Amazing Embrace
Talking about how our relationship with God can be a lot like our friendships with people, yet more than that. Very useful and got some helpful points from reading it.

7. The Letters Of Aberlard & Heloise
More than just about tragic lovers; also about their connections with other people (including competition for positions, difference of opinions etc.), and their own relationship's changes. Not as sweet as one could except but very entertaining and interesting.

8. Huff - The Blood Books Vol.1: Blood Price / Blood Trail
Two books in one; liked both a lot (first one was the best though the other wasn't bad either).

9. Whitfield - Life Along The Silk Road
Read this while traveling, makes a good traveling book. Interesting way of introducing Silk Road's history via different characters from different times with varying fates, and one learns a lot along the way. Recommended very much. <3

10. Carriger - Etiquette & Espionage
Light and refereshing and fun of a book, first of a series. Quick and enjoyable, and although I haven't read her other series yet (though own the books) I had no troubles getting into this. :)
  • Current Music
    Bat For Lashes - "A Wall"

Book #17: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Book #17

Title: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Author: Douglas Adams

Pages: 211

Genre: Science Fiction, Space Adventure

Stars: **** (5.5/5 – It was that brilliant!)

Summary: Arthur Dent woke up one morning, got up to make coffee, and then realized a demolition crew showed up to destroy his house to make way for a new bypass. While he was busy uselessly defending his house, another demolition crew showed up to clear the way for a galactic freeway with the planet Earth being in the way of their construction. Luckily, Arthur Dent had a friend, unknowingly to him an alien and a hitchhiker, who found a way for both of them off the planet (hitchhiking of course) before it became completely disintegrated. And then the real adventure began…

Review: The only word sufficient enough to describe this book in its entirety is wow. This novel is out of this world, literally. Within this sarcastic, funny, witty, and outrageous tale, Adams weaves social commentary and philosophy spectacularly (the point and meaning if life, how we live it, how ridiculous it is just to live sometimes, etc.). This novel will make you laugh and contemplate life at the same time (a weird combination).

Don’t Panic!

What can be said about this book that hasn’t been said since it was written. Adams’ humor is hard to describe and must be read to be appreciated. The situations are ridiculous and yet they draw the reader in, I was left wanting to know what will happen next to our band of protagonists. After the demolition, Arthur kept trying to understand the enormity of Earth being gone and clung to anything he could in a universe he didn’t understand. Ford Perfect seemed to be back in his element, winging it. They were thrust in the middle of a mystery with Zaphod Beeblebrox, the ex-president of the Galaxy, in the middle. Along with his human girlfriend, Trillian, and a very depressed robot, Marvin, they set out to survive everything the Universe throws at them. I can’t even begin to describe the greatness in the book, the humor and wit, and just how everything seems so random and yet falls together as you read more into creating a plot.

The only criticism I have is that the ending is a bit abrupt but since I had the second book sitting on my nightstand, I didn’t worry but kept reading.

The aliens are alien. In many sci-fi books the aliens are either like human or are about humans in an alien environment, of the ones that try writing from a perspective of an alien who is very different to humans many fail. But here we get aliens as main characters whose behavior and thinking seems so different (alien) to us humans. And yet they are relatable. As one who has struggled to write from alien perspectives before, it is a very, very difficult thing to do and Adams did it brilliantly!
  • cat63

Book 11 for 2013

The Kindness of Strangers by Kate Adie. 425 pages

I'm not sure why, but this autobiography of a BBC war correspondent didn't grip me nearly as much as I expected it to. there were interesting, moving and amusing parts, but not nearly enough of them and the style overall seemed astonishingly dull and not particularly informative.

Books 3 and 4

3. Girlchild, by Tupelo Hassman. An incredible read. Beautifully lyrical, but brutally heartwrenching at the same time. The story follows Rory Hendrix from girlhood to her teen years. She lives in the Calle, an impoverished area near Reno. It seems everyone expects her to eventually succumb to the hopelessness that permeates her corner of the world, where fathers are largely absent and mothers either scrap by with meager jobs or take in a string of questionable boyfriends (or, in Rory's mother's case, both. Addictions run like the plague, and the young Rory is witness to many terrible things. She feels trapped- I think one of the more pointed moments after her participation in the spelling bee is that in her area, teachers, administrators and officials with the County, who have a case file on the family, are more comfortable with mediocrity. It's predictable, and makes you invisible. If you try to stand out, Rory reasons, then the adults in charge might be shaken from their notions about what poor children are capable of. There are many tender moments, especially with Rory's mother and grandmother - two sympathetic if highly flawed people. This is not an easy read; some of the hardest moments in the book comes from Rory's witnessing the sexual abuse of a neighborhood girl, along with her own recollections of abuse. But it is worth a read, and really makes you think.

4. My Friend Dahmer, by Derf Backderf. I had heard about this book, and decided to give it a try when I saw that it was one of the books which won this year's Alex Award. For those who don't know about Jeffrey Dahmer, he was arrested and found guilty in connection of the murders of 17 men and boys. He grew up - as did the author - in a community about a half hour from where I live. Indeed, Backderf, who has done editorial cartooning, comic strips and a previous graphic novel and lives in the Cleveland area, was in the same graduating class as Dahmer and even knew him (although they were never close). Backderf offers an interesting inside view of Dahmer's high school years, pulling both from his memories, from court records and news articles, and in conversations with others. what emerges is a profile of a young man who was already twisted, already considered odd, already deeply troubled. But you feel a bit sorry for Dahmer, too - to a degree. Hindsight is 20/20 but you have to wonder what might have happened if an adult had intervened. if someone had noticed the amount of alcohol the teenage Dahmer consumed on a daily basis, his preoccupation with roadkill and death. The book does not come off as voyeuristic, but is a thoughtful, well put together work on one of the greatest monsters of the late 20th century, told from a personal point of view. Backderf includes source information and a timeline in the back, which also is worth a read.