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

Goodreads

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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Meg Waite Clayton’s The Wednesday Sisters


The Wednesday Sisters by Meg Waite Clayton | LibraryThing:

Clayton, M. W. (2008). The Wednesday sisters: A novel. New York: Ballantine Books. 9780345502827

Reasons for Reading : After I read The Four Ms. Bradwells, I wanted to read another Meg Waite Clayton book. So, I checked out The Wednesday Sisters at HCPL.

Summary: In the setting of late 1960s Palo Alto, California, five women gather at the park near their homes. Brought to the neighborhood by their husbands’ jobs, Frankie, Linda, Kath, Brett, and Ally begin meeting Wednesday mornings. These ladies differ greatly – the narrator is the meek Chicago Catholic Frankie. She’s awful baffled by blunt, athletic Linda, Kentucky debutante Kath, brilliant Brett who never goes without her white gloves, and secretive Ally. Yet, they’re all readers and closet writers. Thus, at Linda’s urging, the Wednesday Sisters Writing Society is born. Not only do the Wednesday Sisters write, they also support each other throughout the years.

What I Liked:  After I finished this book, I wanted to start my own Wednesday Sisters Writing Socierty. I still adore the idea. Anyone who has asked me for a book recommendation has received this response “Have you read The Wednesday Sisters yet?

Also, I liked that only Frankie narrated. She talked of her attitudes and actions in past events even when they didn’t reflect well on her.

What I Disliked: A few sections, Frankie told of what had happened to other characters in the book. This nearly took on a third person omniscient point of view which seemed unnatural.

Other than Frankie’s husband, Danny, I had a hard time remember which spouse went with each Wednesday Sister.

Four Out of Five Pearls

Song: Paperback Writer – The Beatles

Setting :  Palo Alto California, Hawaii

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Meg Waite Clayton’s The Four Ms. Bradwells


The Four Ms. Bradwells: A Novel | Jorie’s Reads Store @ Amazon

Clayton, M. W. (2011). The four Ms. Bradwells: A novel. New York: Ballantine Books. 9780345517081

Reasons for Reading: As I browsed the Overdrive Digital Media Collection for eAudio, I rediscovered the cover bearing a young woman wearing pearls. Drawn by the cover and the description, I downloaded it to my iPhone. A little ways into listening, I decided I wanted to read the book in the old-fashioned format from HCPL.

Summary: Fifty-something best friends Mia (the Savant), Laney (the Good Girl), Betts (the funny one), and Ginger (the rebel) gather in Washington, DC over a long weekend as Betts awaits Senate confirmation of her appointment to the highest court in the land. Christened “the Ms. Bradwells” in their very first class at Michigan Law in ’79, these four friends have been through it all together – marriage/divorce, birth/death, job promotion/termination.

When Betts seemed all but sworn in as the newest Supreme Court justice, a nasty skeleton peeks out of the closet. This is about that fateful spring break to the summer house on the Chesapeake in ’82. This buried secret rises  to the surface to the point that the Ms. Bradwells can no longer ignore it. Yet, as good friends do, they confront it together.

What I Liked :  I liked that these different, intelligent women remained loyal and true to their friendship. The mystery was compelling and I liked the roles not only played by the Ms. Bradwells but by their mothers. The scenes which took place in Ann Arbor were crystal-clear to me. Then, there was the sense of their daughters carrying on the torch of the Ms. Bradwells.

What I Disliked: One reason I gave up on the audio in favor of the print was because of the narrator. Yes, I realize Laney was from Alabama but did she really have to have her parts read in such an affected accent. Also, the narrator rendered Mia rather whiny. When I switched to the print, I struggled differentiating between the four voices. I was further flummoxed by back-to-back sections narrated by the same character. Another thing which bothered me was that Laney’s mother became a footnote rather than a catalyst of the action. I wanted to know more about her! Before I forget, the pearls described in the novel looked nothing like those on the cover.

Three Out of Five Pearls

Song: fun.: We Are Young ft. Janelle Monáe [OFFICIAL VIDEO] – YouTube

Setting:  Ann Arbor Michigan, Washington DC, Cook Island

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Alisa Valdes’ Lauren’s Saints of Dirty Faith


Jorie’s Store – Lauren’s Saints of Dirty Faith: A Dirty Girls Social Club Novel

Valdes, A. (2004). Playing with boys. New York: St. Martin’s Press. 9780312332341

Reasons for Reading: When I found the existence of another book about las sucias, I quickly searched the library catalog for Lauren’s saints of dirty faith: A Dirty Girls Social Club novel.  Ultimately, I requested the bookthrough Inter-Library Loan (ILL).

Summary: The third installment of the Dirty Girls Social Club series by Alisa Valdes (formerly Valdes – Rodriguez) shares the latest adventures of three of las sucias – newspaper columnist Lauren Fernandez, ghetto-fabulous Usnavys Rivera, and media mogul Rebecca Baca. Lauren finds herself running away from her lunatic ex-boyfriend, a Boston cop with the help of Usnavys and Rebecca. Laid off, Usnavys must back up and start doing things differently. Rebecca learns of her father’s “other family” and struggles in her relationships with her soul mate husband, Andre, and her son who has Autism.

What I Liked :  I liked las sucias. Also, I did think it was good to read about just three of the ladies as opposed to the entire six. It was especially good to see Usnavys mature. 

What I Disliked : While I admire Valdes for taking matters into her own hands and publishing this book independently, I wish sh had caught numerous spelling/grammar errors. Editing should’ve also caught a time that Rebecca’s son was referred to as a daughter/girl.

I admit I’m not much for reading introductions. I should’ve read where Valdes said she tried on Dean Koontz’s style on for size. Oh, I wished I’d skipped ALL the sections about Jason, Lauren’s psycho ex.

Lastly, I realized that while I read this installment, that my favorite sucia was Sara.

Two Out of Five Pearls

Song: Stone Temple Pilots – Plush (Video) – YouTube

Setting: Boston, New Mexico

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Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez’s Playing with Boys


Playing with Boys: A Novel by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez | LibraryThing

Valdes, A. (2004). Playing with boys. New York: St. Martin’s Press. 9780312332341

Reasons for Reading : As I liked the previous three books I’d read by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez, I requested Playing with Boys via HCPL.

Summary:. Talent agent Alexis hails from Texas and strives to make a name for herself. Gorgeous starlet Marcella’s smart mouth  has often cost her jobs. Screenwriter Olivia barely keeps up with her toddler son. They all have issues with guys as well as launching their careers. Yet, when these three radically different Latinas meet serendipitously in Los Angeles, they see that they can collaborate and rise to the top.

What I Liked :  I enjoyed catching glimpses of some of the sucias from The Dirty Girls Social Club books.Just having three main characters was good. Valdes-Rodriguez created compelling characters. I especially liked Alexis as she seemed to want the best for everyone and she used her talents for the greater good. I rooted for her to thrive.

What I Disliked : On the other hand, I couldn’t ever appreciate Marcella. I found myself scanning quickly through the sections she narrated. Also, I didn’t like that anyone who wasn’t one of three main characters had a section. I feel that Valdes-Rodriguez could’ve didn’t really have to move outside this group of friends for a point of view.

Two Out of Five Pearls

Song: Christina Milian – Us Against The World – YouTube

Setting : Los Angeles

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Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez’s Dirty Girls on Top


Dirty Girls on Top by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez | LibraryThing

Valdes, A. (2008). Dirty girls on top. New York: St. Martin’s Press. 9780312349677

Reasons for Reading : Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez got me hooked on the sucias with The Dirty Girls Social Club. So, I checked out the sequel, Dirty Girls on Top from HCPL.

Summary: (Must Read The Dirty Girls Social Club before starting this book) Las sucias return five years after the end of The Dirty Girls Social Club. Columnist Lauren Fernandez still writes at a Boston paper but can’t choose her men nor hold her liquor well. Ghetto-fabulous Usnavys has a great man and little tomboy at home but also a roving eye. Rebecca found her soulmate in Andre but has yet to realize her dream of parenthood. Sara may appear to have it all together but with her own decorating show on cable but can she resist the charms of her abusive ex-husband Roberto. Chameleon-like rockstar Cuicatl (formerly known as Amber) wakes up to the fact that it’s hard to stay on top. Despite coming out of the closet and living with her partner, Elizabeth is a lonely single parent. All of this begs the question – Can las sucias reunite and withstand all the lemons life has given them?

What I Liked: The first book tied up some loose ends but I wondered about what was happening with las sucias. I think Valdes-Rodriguez answered a number of my questions. Her descriptions render these women quite real and they deal with their issues in realistic ways. I could see these people as though they were in the room with me! While their distinctive voices stand on their own, I appreciated that the author headed each section with the name of the heroine narrating it.

What I Disliked: I mentioned before that I think six were too many. Three or four characters would’ve been great. Perhaps I’m a purest but I didn’t like reading Roberto’s section. This book belongs to las sucias alone! Lastly, I got a little too much detail in some passages. As I’ve noted, Valdes-Rodriguez leaves little to the imagination with her nearly photographic descriptions.

Three Out of Five Pearls

Song: Lana Del Rey – National Anthem – YouTube

Setting : Boston, Los Angeles, New Mexico, Puerto Rico

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Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez’s The Dirty Girls Social Club


The Dirty Girls Social Club: A Novel by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez | LibraryThing

Valdes, A. (2003). The Dirty Girls Social Club. New York: St. Martin’s Press. 9780312313814

 Reasons for Reading : In April, I enjoyed Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez’s Haters. Also, I have been reading more chick  lit lately.  So, I checked out The Dirty Girls Social Club.

 Summary: Six women meet at Boston University. While completely different in looks and personality, they are the only women of Latin descent in the Communications Department. Thus, the six form a strong bond and call their group the Buena Vista Sucia Club also known as The Dirty Girls Social Club. At the beginning of the book, the sucias have been out of college for a few years. They meet each other every six months, rain or shine. These ladies have their ups and downs but always support their sucias. The Dirty Girls Social Club is narrated in the first person, each shedding light on her own life. The sucias are:

 –Lauren, the “caliente” columnist for the local Boston paper whose love live has recently led her to her boyfriend’s closet…to catch him in the act with someone else
–Sara, the perfect wife and mother who’s got it all but who is paying a high price
–Amber, raised a Valley girl without a word of Spanish but who is becoming a huge rock en Español star
–Elizabeth, the stunning black Latina whose TV anchor job conflicts with her intensely private personal life
–Rebecca, hyper-in-command in the world of her glossy magazine, Ella, but totally at sea when it comes to men
–Usnavys, fabulous and larger than life, whose agenda to land the kind of man who can keep her in Manolos almost prevents her finding true love

– From the flap

What I Liked : While brought together by the narrow-mindedness of others, the sucias rise above and show such a devotion to one another that some can only dream of. They’re far from perfect and do ill-advised things but these women are definitely compelling and believable. I felt I could see Lauren, Sara, Amber, Rebecca, Elizabeth, and even Usnavys on the street and in my life. I even visualized some of their faces as those of my friends. I also liked how these women were diverse – Lauren (part-Cuban, part-white  trash), Sara (Cuban Jew), Amber (Valley Girl of Mexican descent), Rebecca (New Mexican Spanish), Elizabeth (Colombian), and Usnavys (Puerto Rican). I also liked how each section was prefaced by passages from Lauren’s column in a Boston newspaper.

What I Disliked : Maybe Valdes-Rodriguez had too many main characters. I think she may have fared better with just four women. Since the narrators alternated from sucia to sucia, I felt some of the stories became cold. Sometimes, I wanted to know about what was happening with one sucia but would be delivered to another. Also, I didn’t care for the very detailed “love scenes.” I like a few things left to the imagination.

Four Out of Five Pearls

Song: El sol de la noche. Salsa céltica. – YouTube

Setting : Boston, Los Angeles, Puerto Rico, Colombia

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Jennifer Close’s Girls in White Dresses


Close, J., & Card, E. J. (2011). Girls in white dresses. New York, NY: Books on Tape/Random House Audio. 9780307939340

Girls In White Dresses by Jennifer Close | LibraryThing

Girls In White Dresses by Jennifer Close | LibraryThing

Reasons for Reading : I desperately sought out another audiobook for my work commute. I spot this on one of the shelving carts.

Summary: Broken into short story-like chapters, author Jennifer Close relays various vignettes about twenty-something single women. The main characters – Isabella, Mary, and Lauren – have much experience as bridesmaids. Throughout Girls in White Dresses, these three and others have the chance to share snippets of their lives.

What I Liked : These stories were pretty humorous. The chapter entitled “Hope” had me laughing my head off when I wasn’t nodding in agreement.

I felt I knew these characters pretty well before the end of the first chapter. I don’t completely identify with these women but I’ve met people similar to these characters.

What I Disliked : This pertains only to the audiobook version – the sole narrator did something weird with her voice when she read Lauren’s parts.

Additionally, it wasn’t always simple to keep track of the who was who in each chapter. Maybe that’s why the narrator gave Lauren an odd voice.

Three Out of Five Pearls

Song: Glee – My Favorite Things (Official Video) – YouTube

Setting : New York City, Chicago, Boston

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Francine Pascal’s Sweet Valley confidential: Ten years later


Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later by Francine Pascal | LibraryThing

Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later by Francine Pascal | LibraryThing

Pascal, F. (2011). Sweet Valley confidential: Ten years later. New York: St. Martin’s Press. 9780312667573

Reasons for Reading : I read the Sweet Valley books when I was in upper-elementary school. While I didn’t consider these books the most edifying literature, I enjoyed the adventures of twin sisters, Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield. My favorites were The Wakefields of Sweet Valley and The Wakefield Legacy: The Untold Story, which told of the twins’ ancestors. Maybe this foreshadowed my interest in genealogy.

Summary: Creator Francine Pascal revisits the world of Sweet Valley. Everyone is a decade older than when they were last seen. Now, the Wakefield twins aren’t on speaking terms. Elizabeth is pursuing her dream of journalism in New York and avoiding Jessica, who betrayed her. What did Jessica do that pushed the normally merciful and loving Elizabeth away from Sweet Valley? Oh, she just fell into bed with Elizabeth high school sweetheart – Todd Wilkins. Can Elizabeth ever get over such a betrayal?

What I Liked : It was good to see these characters from my girlhood. While I didn’t dislike Jessica, Elizabeth was always my favorite.  

Also, I liked seeing storylines resolved.

What I Disliked : Pascal seemed to think that since this was a book for “adults,” that she needed to make the characters drink, curse, and have lots of sex with various partners. I could understand that Elizabeth was mad at Jessica but she seemed just vile in this book. Oh, and did Alice Wakefield really need to drop the “f-bomb” at grandma’s birthday dinner at the country club?

Then, there were some spelling/grammar errors throughout the book.

One Out of Five Pearls (My lowest rating yet!)

Song: Sweet Valley High (Full Theme Song) by Kathy Fisher – YouTube

Setting : Sweet Valley, California & New York City

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Judy Blume’s Forever. . .


Blume, J. (1975). Forever: A novel. Scarsdale, N.Y: Bradbury Press 9780027110302

Reasons for Reading : I remember loving all the Judy Blume books I read as a child – Tales of the Fourth Grade Nothing, Superfudge, Just As Long As We’re Together, etc. As I grew, I read Deenie and It’s Not the End of the World. When I read Wifey as a high school senior, the book scandalized me. From what everyone told me about Forever…, I decided not to try it until November 2011. I requested and checked it out from HCPL.

Summary: When Katherine meets Michael at a New Year’s Eve party thrown by best friend Erica’s cousin, she immediately catches his eye. Soon, the two high school seniors are dating and can’t get enough of each other. Michael wants to “go all the way” with Katherine. Ready for true love, Katherine agrees that their love is a “forever thing” . . . but is it really?

What I Liked : I wish Judy Blume had been my Life Science teacher. She doesn’t back away from the pros and cons of teen sex. The book even began with a note from Blume on how Forever… was published before HIV prevalence. The characters were identifiable, especially narrator Katherine.

What I Disliked : I didn’t care for Michael. I thought he pushed Katherine around the proverbial baseball diamond. Simply put, he pressured her into having sex with him.

Four Out of Five Pearls

Song: The Shirelles – Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow

Setting : New Jersey

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