Ann Brashares’ My Name is Memory


My Name is Memory

My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares | Jorie’s Store @ Amazon

 

Title: My Name is Memory
Author: Ann Brashares
ISBN: 9781594487583
Length: 324 pages
Publication Date: June 01, 2010
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
Source: Harris County Public Library

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Reasons for Reading: I came across this title on someone else’s Top Ten Tuesday list back in March. The premise and author Ann Brashares caught my interest. Quickly, I discovered a few copies of My Name is Memory on the shelf at a Harris County Public Library (HCPL) branch and checked out one.

Warning: This is a work of fiction which deals with the subject of reincarnation (past lives). If reincarnation is an offensive topic, please consider yourself warned. 

Summary: Lucy’s crush on the enigmatic Daniel kept her from approaching him. She gathers up courage at the high school graduation dance and approaches Daniel. Little does she know that she and Daniel go way, way back. Unlike most, Daniel recalls each of his past lives. In the first incarnation (that he remembers), Daniel encountered a woman (Lucy) that stole his heart. With each life, Daniel doggedly pursues a seemingly star-crossed love of his lives, the woman who once was called Sophia. Added to a mix is a vengeful brother from that fateful first life who’s after blood. Brashares employs both Daniel’s first person and Lucy/Sophia’s third-person views. This tale of epic proportions begins in 552 AD Asia Minor and carries on through to 1918 England and Twenty-First Century Virginia.

One Thing I Learned from this book: There was an earthquake in AD 526. To learn more about it, visit the following, linked phrase – 526 Antioch Earthquake – Wikipedia

What I Liked: As a historical fiction fan, I enjoyed the passages set in the past. I especially liked reading about events in the First Millennium AD. Also, Brashares’ characters in this book differed greatly from those in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series. While I enjoyed reading about Carmen, Lena, Tibby, and Bridget, I appreciate Brashares’ originality in character formation.

What I Disliked: I refuse to spoil the ending but I hope Brashares can write the other books planned involving Daniel and Lucy.

RR - Orange

Rainbow Rating: Orange – Restricted from those under age 17 

 

Song: Nat King Cole, Unforgettable

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Jude Deveraux’s Lavender Morning (Edilean Series #1)


Jorie’s Store – Lavender Morning (Edilean) By Jude Deveraux

 
Title and Author(s):  Jude Deveraux’s Lavender Morning (Edilean Series #1)
Release Date: March 31, 2009

Publisher: Atria Books

ISBN: 9780743437202
Pages: 384
Source: Harris County Public Library

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Reasons for Reading: I wanted to read another Jude Deveraux as I was wanting a dash of magical realism. When I found the Edilean series, I made sure I began with the first book.

Summary: When Jocelyn Minton’s beloved friend and mentor, Edilean “Miss Edi” Harcourt, dies, Jocelyn inherits Edilean’s historic birthplace in the small town of Edilean, Virginia. Jocelyn moves away from her careless father and step family to Edilean. The late Miss Edi also left Jocelyn a letter about a mystery dating back to 1941. Lastly, Miss Edi tells Jocelyn that the perfect man for her lives there.

As Jocelyn settles into her new home, she discovers Miss Edi, among many others, aren’t quite what they seem. Jocelyn follows the clues within this mystery bequeathed to her as well as her own future.

One Thing I Learned from reading Jude Deveraux’s Lavender MorningI imagined parents hid vegetables so their kids would eat them. However, I didn’t realize that bakers actually strained spinach into chocolate cupcakes!

What I Liked: I enjoyed the banter between several characters – especially Jocelyn and Luke. Also, I liked the bits about gardening and I liked the title – the first enticement to read this book. I also loved the parts of the story that took place in the 1940s.

What I Disliked: There were a whole bunch of characters. Also, there were characters with similar names. Yet, I felt this was Deveraux’s effort to establish a new series.

RR - Yellow  Rainbow Rating: Yellow – Parental Guidance for Kids Under 13

Song: The Andrews Sisters’ – Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy Of Company B

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Libba Bray’s A Great and Terrible Beauty (The Gemma Doyle Trilogy #1)


Jorie’s Store – A Great and Terrible Beauty (The Gemma Doyle Trilogy)

(Written 17 February 2013)

Title and Author(s):  A Great and Terrible Beauty (The Gemma Doyle Trilogy #1)
Release Date:
 December 09, 2003
Publisher:
Delacorte Press
ISBN: 9780375890499
Pages: 432
Source: Harris County Public Library’s Digital Media Collection | Overdrive

Reasons for Reading: When I installed the Overdrive Digital Media App on my Nook Tablet, I quickly sought available fiction. When I saw Libba Bray’s A Great and Terrible Beauty listed as available, I checked out the book and downloaded it sans USB cable. It felt good, too!

Summary: Life seems a bore for teenaged Gemma Doyle. Her parents won’t let her be part of London society but keep her in India. Then, on 21 June 1895, Gemma’s sixteenth birthday, a scary creature scares her mother and her mother commits suicide. So, Gemma is shipped off to Spence Academy for Young Ladies, outside of London. Gemma suffers loneliness, guilt, and ominous visions. She doesn’t immediately make friends and seems to have a young Indian man stalking her. Soon, Gemma gains three friends – fearless Felicity Worthington, beautiful Pippa Cross, and talented Ann Bradshaw. She also learns that coming to Spence, the visions, and the talisman her mother left her are all connected.

A Great and Terrible Beauty begins the three-part saga which follows Gemma and her friends into a story about destiny, power, friendship, and duty.

One Thing I Learned from reading Libba Bray’s A Great and Terrible BeautyThe British subjects abroad didn’t have to regularly attend church.

What I Liked: Bray knew Gemma Doyle well. She expressed herself in a believable way. I knew a teenager narrated the story. Gemma also defended and brought her roommate – scholarship student Ann Bradshaw into an inner circle at Spence.

What I Disliked: Sometimes, the words seemed anachronistic. I wondered if Gemma or her friends would truly say certain things in 1895.

Three Out of Five Pearls

Song: Loreena McKennitt – The Mummers’ Dance Official video – YouTube

Setting: Bombay India, London UK, England

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Christopher Moore’s Sacré Bleu: A Comedy d’Art


Sacre Bleu: A Comedy d’Art by Christopher Moore | LibraryThing

Moore, C. (2012). Sacre bleu: A comedy d’art. New York: William Morrow. 9780061779749

Reasons for Reading : I posted Christopher Moore’s Sacré Bleu: A Comedy d’Art on my TBR list. Check out my reasons for reading there.

Summary: News of the suicide of volatile artist Vincent van Gogh rocks Parisian baker and artist Lucien Lessard and his good friend  Henri Toulouse-Lautrec. Compounding issues is the sudden reappearance of Lucien’s MIA girlfriend, Juliette and the nasty little guy who’s known as The Colorman. Lucien and Henri take the reader for a ride on the crazy train, encountering figures in the French art scene along the way.

What I Liked : Author Christopher Moore is uproariously humorous. There were numerous “ROL” (read out loud) moments throughout this novel. Characters such as fictitious Lucien and Juliette appealed greatly. The physical book is gorgeous with images discussed in the narrative and has blue typing.

What I Disliked : Some curse words here and there don’t bother me but the language used by various characters was beyond nasty. Also, I thought sometimes Moore crossed the line between amusingly irreverent and crazy wicked. One point late in the novel made a reference to bestiality that had major cringe factor.

Three Out of Five Pearls

Song: Bobby Vinton Blue Velvet – YouTube

Setting : Paris, France with stops in the French countryside, Italy, England, and the US

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Stephen Greenblatt’s Will in the World . . .


Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare by Stephen Greenblatt | LibraryThing

Greenblatt, S., & Fernandez, P. J. (2004). Will in the world: How Shakespeare became Shakespeare. Prince Frederick, Md: Recorded Books. 9781419307607

I needed another audiobook. I also wanted non-fiction as I’m participating in the

2011 Non-Fiction Challenge

. When I saw a biography of Shakespeare, I was pleased. My love of the Bard has led me to take an elective on some of his plays and to the Folger Shakespeare Library.
Harvard professor Stephen Greenblatt discovers and fleshes out William Shakespeare by delving into Shakespeare’s works. Through his plays, Greenblatt sees a precocious son of a glover and a gifted wordsmith. By this method, the author argues that Shakespeare really wrote his own stuff.

My only complaint here is that since I’ve not read all of Shakespeare’s works, I didn’t recognize all the references or each nuance which supported Greenblatt’s argument. Nevertheless, I could see Shakespeare’s love for his daughter Susanna in plays such as King Lear and The Tempest. Also, I still marvel at the Bard’s genius in Hamlet and Othello.

Four Out of Five Pearls

Places: Merry Old England

 
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Lisa Jardine’s The awful end of Prince William the Silent . . .


The Awful End of Prince William the Silent by Lisa Jardine

Jardine, L. (2005). The awful end of Prince William the Silent: The first assassination of a head of state with a handgun. New York: HarperCollins. 9780060838355

My reasons for reading this book were threefold. First of all, I’m an amateur genealogist and discovered in 2010 that I may have descended from Prince William himself. Secondly, I’ve long enjoyed reading biographies and thought the True Crime genre aspect added some interest to it. Additionally, I found the reaction of William’s contemporaries to also be intriguing. Lastly, I registered to participate in 2011 Non-Fiction Challenge hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. After requesting the purchase, I happily checked out the book from HCPL.

In summary, Jardine gives the reader an overview of Protestant Prince William of Orange’s assassination by a French Catholic. Also, she sets the scene of young Holland’s struggle to overthrow the Hapsburg’s Catholic rule. She ends by describing the reactions of Elizabeth I and the birth of a nasty trend; taking out governmental leaders with bullets.

I thought Jardine did a great job in describing the players central to this episode of history. She drew Prince William, the Hapsburgs, and Balthasar Gérard very clearly. Jardine covered the points necessary without pedanticalness and I certainly appreciated that!

Four Out of Five Pearls

Places: The Netherlands, Germany, England, Spain, France

Song: “Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down” by Fall Out Boy
 
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  • The Wicked History Series by various authors
  • Blood and Money by Thomas Thompson
  • The Cop Who Wouldn’t Quit by Rick Nelson
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

For more on Lisa Jardine’s The awful end of Prince William the Silent: The first assassination of a head of state with a handgun, check out the following links:

Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice


*1001 Books Book

Austen, J., & Gibson, F. (2000). Pride and prejudice. Recorded Books classics library. Prince Frederick, MD: Recorded Books. 9780788749148

I was on one of my bursts of wanting to read more of the 1001 Books list when I saw Austen’s Pride and Prejudice among the audiobooks shelf at one of the HCPL branches. Since so many of my friends and colleagues raved about this book and I enjoyed Bride and Prejudice, I finally listened to Austen’s great novel of manners.

In early nineteenth century England, the Bennet family faces the daunting consequences of fee tail. Mr. Bennet has five daughters (lovely Jane, clever Elizabeth, plain Mary, silly Kitty, and frivolous Lydia) and no sons. None of the Bennet women can inherit from Mr. Bennet; his estate will go to his closest male relative. Compounding the issue is his vacuous wife, Mrs. Bennet, who singlemindedly wants her daughters to marry well. 

When wealthy bachelor Mr. Bingley rents a nearby estate, he and Jane quickly like each other. Of course, it takes they don’t realize that the feeling’s mutual. It doesn’t help that Bingley has ornery friend Mr. Darcy advising him against pursuing Jane. On top of that, Darcy is the coldest, most prideful person Elizabeth has ever encountered. . . or so it seems.

This work, like many of Austen’s others, formed the definition of the modern novel. Excellent characterization, plot development, dialogue, and slice of life all can be found within the covers of Pride and Prejudice. These characters are so familiar that we can see them in our contemporary lives.

Four Out of Five Pearls.

Places: Great Britain

Linkage:

Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre


Jane Eyre (Collector’s Library) by Charlotte Bronte | LibraryThing

* 1001 Books Book

Brontë, C. (1993). Jane Eyre. New York: Modern Library.

I remember having listened to the audio book when I was in junior high. Yet, I did not feel as though I could say I had actually read Brontë’s Jane Eyre. So, I picked up the book a second time.

Jane is an orphaned girl stuck with her mean, widowed, and wealthy aunt, Mrs. Reed, and her wretched cousins. Jane suffers at their hands to the point of being thrilled to go to boarding school just to escape their heavy-handed cruelty.

At the Lowood School, however, Jane finds more of the same abuses and deprivations. Under the direction of the antagonistic and puritanical Mr. Brocklehurst, Jane and her peers go more days without what they need. When Mr. Brocklehurst loses his position, though, and a new committee takes over Lowood, life for the students dramatically improves.

As an adult, Jane becomes a governess. She takes on employment at Thornfield manor under Byronic hero Mr. Rochester. Jane develops romantic feelings for Mr. Rochester, an enigmatic man with a past of his own.

I found Jane Eyre quite powerful in the creation and phrasing of the eponymous character. Simultaneously compassionate and willful, Jane can stand on her own. Mr. Rochester seems to love this quality, too. Jane is unsinkable and can look out for herself. In the ways that counts for Brontë, her orphaned heroine and Byronic hero are a perfect match.

It’s difficult for me to see if this is where the clichés of gothic romance originate or if it was already old hat. A similar question I had was whether all of the orphan misery was original to Brontë or if it was borrowed with Dickens. It definitely met my melodrama quota for the year.

Three out of Five Pearls

For more on Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, please check out the following links:

A Turn of the Wheels; Katherine by Anya Seton


Goodreads | Katherine by Anya Seton

Seton, A., & Gregory, P. (2004). Katherine a novel. Chicago, Ill:Chicago Review Press. 9781556525322

Katherine tells the story of actual Katherine Swynford (neé de Roet), a pivotal player in the history of English royalty. In the Fourteenth Century, lady in-waiting to Queen Philippa, Philippa de Roet sends for her younger sister, Katherine. Katherine de Roet has been living at a small, country convent. With the prioress, Katherine makes the journey to London. Innocent Katherine takes the London court by storm with her beauty. She comes to the attention of rough knight, Hugh Swynford, and John of Gaunt, the Duke of Lancaster and fourth son of the king and Blanche, the Duchess of Lancaster. Katherine more than reluctantly marries Swynford but the Lancasters do not forget Katherine. In a few years, while John of Gaunt and Swynford are dealing with the 100 Years War, a plague claims many victims including Blanche of Lancaster. However, Katherine eases Blanche’s suffering and finds a priest to administer the Duchess’s last rites. In grief, John of Gaunt takes notice of the lovely Katherine and gives her her own coat of arms, bearing three wheels which signify St. Catherine and Katherine’s maiden name, de Roet. From there, the relationship escalates into an affair which has stunning and long lasting effects on not only their contemporaries but their descendants as it precipitates the Wars of the Roses.

This particular work of historical fiction is remarkable in the amount of research done on an era long past in order to make the novel seem authentic. Having published this in the 1950s, Anya Seton had to research. While most of the narrative takes place in England, Katherine and other characters are Flemish and speak French. Seton’s characters sometimes converse in an older form of French. In a note preceding the novel, Seton explained that she used the names of people she saw in registers. Also, most of the characters are real: Katherine, John of Gaunt, Katherine’s brother in-law Geoffrey Chaucer, John Wycliffe, etc. Seton provides much detail of Medieval English life. With this, the reader experiences the difficulty of survival, particularly of women such as Katherine.

My mom remembered reading this book as a teenager and this spurred her interest in both English history and literature. When I read it, I was fascinated by the book and some of the people who made cameos. The mention of John Wycliffe has spurred quite a bit of amateur research on my part. In reading the 2004 version, I was able to read a foreword by Philippa Gregory (writer, The Other Boleyn Sister). Like Gregory, I think Seton set the tone for the historical novel. Seton did her homework and her creation was a labor of love. Gregory also points out how Seton subscribed to Freudian concepts and had a 1950s mindset. Although I agree with this as well, I think Katherine is an excellent work.

I would recommend Katherine to the female historical fiction audience. It is a bit romantic. Also, this would be a great introduction to some nonfiction work on English history. The world’s interest in Katherine Swynford has led to many websites dedicated to her. Readers may catch the craze. Also, the reader must not be opposed to long novels; Katherine is over 500 pages.

Four out of Five Pearls

 

 

The Sisters – Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen


Austen, J., & Gibson, F. (1981). Sense and sensibility. Charlotte Hall, MD: Recorded Books.

Ballaster, R., & Austen, J. (2003). In Sense and sensibility. Penguin classics. London: Penguin Books. 9780141439662

I realized it was about time to read something by Jane Austen. Having seen the movie with Emma Thompson and having friends who were great fans, I chose Sense and Sensibility. I both listened to and read this novel.

Sense and Sensibility was written by Jane Austen and published in 1811. Austen lived in Regency Period England, was one of eight children of an Anglican rector. Publication was costly for Austen and she published anonymously. Only her family knew she was aware of the fact that she penned these works. On a positive note, Austen was able to maintain privacy throughout her life. As an observer of her environment, Austen produced many literary works, including Sense and Sensibility, where her quick wit and eye for details creates a great document of society and times of Austen’s day.

Sense and Sensibility quickly focuses on the Dashwood family. Patriarch Henry Dashwood dies and leaves all his money to his son and first marriage child, John Dashwood. Henry does not much provide for his second wife and his three daughters due to the dictates of the time. Although Henry prevails upon John to take care of his wife and daughters Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret, are homeless and have meager income. John’s wife talks John out of giving his stepmother and half sisters more and the Dashwood females are invited to live with distant cousins – the Middletons of Barton Park. Sensible Elinor is saddened by this departure since she and her sister-in-law’s brother, Edward Ferrars, have become quick friends. Nonetheless, Elinor and emotional, romantic Marianne meet many new people including retired officer Colonel Brandon and the dashing John Willoughby. Willoughby rescues Marianne during a rain storm in which she twisted her ankle. Marianne and Willoughby seem the ideal match until Willoughby has some business to attend to in London. Now, the Dashwoods meet the Steele sisters with whom they have a common relative in Lady Middleton. Lucy Steele turns out to be secretly engaged to Edward Ferriers of all people. Are the Dashwoods doomed or is there true light at the end of the tunnel for them?

While I found the style and relationships of the characters and times to be more stiff and formal than I prefer, I found Sense and Sensibility to be a rewarding read. The form is classic and the problems are not just products of Austen’s day. We see problems like this today. I particularly enjoyed Elinor’s wit and candor. Austen seemed to have written what she knew and it is commendable.

I see the title as alternate names for Elinor (Sense) and Marianne (Sensibility). There is more to this, though. Elinor can be likened to the Age of Reason while Marianne is the figurehead for the ensuing Romantic Era. However, Austen shows the reader that the Age of Reason and the Romantic Era love each other and go hand in hand. They live by one another and have each other’s back. These Ages are sisters. Ultimately, one cannot appreciate Romanticism without Rationalism and vice versa.

Three out of Five Pearls