July Reading Recap

Somehow, I’ve still managed to read one book per week in July, and I will share with you what I have read this past month.

Requiem for a Nun – William Faulkner

Reading this book renewed my love for Faulkner, and it brought back some of the magic I experienced upon discovering that a Southern gentleman (?) born in 1897 could have so much in common with me, a female with Northern roots born almost a century later. Requiem for a Nun reads partly like a history book and partly like a play. The style is unique, and at times hard to read, but it adds clarification to some of the events that happened in Sanctuary.

Autobiography of a Recovering Skinhead – Frank Meeink

A brutal firsthand account of what it’s like to be on the inside of the white supremacy movement. The book reveals a lot about what it’s like to live on the streets, the danger of having a neo-Nazi mentality, the power of drug addiction, the lessons learned in prison, and how a person’s childhood and parents can really influence who they become. The book is honest and raw (curse words abound!), and I would expect nothing less from a story of this kind of life.

My Name is Memory – Ann Brashares

I wrote an entire blog about this book. It’s here.

Cold Kiss – Amy Garvey

A nice YA paranormal book, good for light reading (I think I started and finished it over a weekend). A teenage girl with strange powers is able to bring her dead boyfriend back to life, but the consequences get her into a lot of trouble. As usual with YA books, nothing about the book absolutely blew my mind, but I enjoyed the author’s writing style, and of course, the premise.

Angela’s Ashes – Frank McCourt

The main reason I read this book was because it seemed as though everyone else had read it and absolutely raved about how great it was. It was actually quite good; I enjoyed the stream-of-consciousness style and the funny parts interwoven with the tale of drudging through poverty. What amazes me about memoirs and autobiographies is how the authors manage to remember all these things… or if they’re making things up and embellishing things they don’t really remember all that well. I know that if I tried to write about my own childhood, I’d have to make up quite a bit. But there are always exceptions (McCourt’s memory must be amazing), and, true or not, Angela’s Ashes painted a brilliantly clear picture.

Oh, and I re-read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Always an amazing children’s/YA book, and one I will definitely read to my future kids over and over again — until they get heartily sick of it.

Review: My Name is Memory

Yesterday, I finished My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares. The book stood out to me in the library because it was written by the same author who wrote the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, which I enjoyed immensely when I was a teenager.

My Name is Memory features the same emotional, descriptive writing style, but it was a story about romantic love, not a story about close friendship (although the two come together at times). The premise of the book is that all people have past lives, but there are a rare few (like the main character, Daniel) who remember all of their past lives, and who thus have what is called the “memory.” Daniel has fallen in love with the same woman over the thousands of years he’s lived in different bodies, places, and times. His love, whom he calls “Sophia,” is currently inhabiting the body of Lucy Broward, an ordinary high school student. Because Lucy does not have the “memory,” she’s understandably freaked out when Daniel shows up telling her that he’s loved her for such a long time, and he’s been chasing after her trying to right the ways he had wronged her in their past lives. Eventually, she does (with the help of a psychic and a hypnotist) remember some of her past lives and the women she had been… and she understands what Daniel means to her and what she means to him.

I liked the book, but only enough to give it 3 out of 5 stars. I guess it was too saccharine and lovey-dovey for my taste… one of those books with so much romance, it kind of makes you cringe. I normally like romance novels, but it didn’t seem as though the characters were that strong. I found it difficult to sympathize with Sophia/Lucy, and Daniel’s character was well-drawn, but he seemed eerily perfect, like the muscle-bound hero of many paperback romances. There wasn’t much to him except his single-minded devotion to Sophia/Lucy.

The book’s conflict came from an ancient foe, someone who is able to take over bodies of people who have not yet died. This person is Joachim, who had been Daniel’s evil brother in a past life, and who had once been married to Sophia/Lucy. Joachim will stop at nothing to have Daniel’s soul mate, and it would have been a really good conflict, but it could have been a focal point of the story. It felt like it was just tacked on because an editor said at some point during the publication process that the book needed more drama and conflict.

Worst of all, the book ended on somewhat of a cliffhanger. The conflict between Daniel and Joachim was never actually wrapped up, which makes me think that the book ought to have a sequel. Honestly, I can’t say I would read the sequel if one was written, but if there is no sequel, there will be far too many loose ends to bring any kind of reader satisfaction.