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url 2018-09-13 11:08
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review 2018-09-01 05:50
Memory's Last Breath
Memory's Last Breath: Field Notes on My Dementia - Gerda Saunders

I chose this book on NetGalley because the topic was timely for me — my mom is dealing with many of the same issues — and I wanted to learn more about it, especially given the first-hand account. As it got closer on my to-read pile, I found myself resistant. By then, I had read the eye-opening book, The 36-Hour Day, which certainly helped my understanding, but also pretty much squelched my desire to be more informed. In this respect, Saunders anecdote-filled book was a relief, but, as a scientist herself, she balanced the narrative with so much information that it was occasionally overwhelming. It is always difficult to see someone whose livelihood depends on their superior intellect affected by a disease of the mind, but I was more moved by the daily diary entries that detailed embarrassing lapses in the countless mundane acts we all perform thoughtlessly every day.


There are a lot of digressions here, but I forgive her those. I think that, given the platform of this book, she is allowed to show off a little, to prove that she still has a wealth of information at her command, despite this disease nipping at her heels. A thought-provoking story, and, for those of us who truly understand her struggle, a comfort.   

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review 2018-08-04 16:18
The Memory Tree
The Memory Tree - John A. Heldt

The five Carson siblings plus their new sister-in-law, Bridget have just stepped through a time portal from 1889 into 1918.  They are still playing a game of Marco-Polo through time trying to find their parents, Tim and Caroline who have taken a detour on their time-travel adventure. This time they are hoping to catch their parents as they visit their ancestors.  Adam and his new and pregnant wife Bridget settle in a cabin in the backwoods of Minnesota, neighbors to two women set to marry into their family.  Greg agrees to travel into the potential dangers of Mexico, hoping to find his parents near where his great-grandparents live.  Instead, Greg finds a woman that may finally be his match.  Natalie takes a reporting job on the front lines of the War in France meeting the son and husband of a friend from 1889 as well as some ancestors. Meanwhile, Cody and Caitlin track down a friend from 1889 that is very surprised by the fact they the twins are still 18 years old.  With all of their trekking through time, the Carson family seems even more scattered, but they are closer to finding their parents than they think.

An exciting, risk filled, time travel adventure filled with romance, intrigue and history, The Memory Tree picks up right where River Rising, the first book of the Carson Chronicles leaves off. I would definitely recommend reading these books in order since so much happens in River Rising. I was so happy to begin reading about the Carson clan once again in a new time period.  I have enjoyed the device used for time travel in the books, a portal that opens only at solstices and equinoxes that will transport you to different times depending on when you walk through. I was able to learn more about the portals in this book along with more information about who uses them.  In The Memory Tree, we also delve into the Carson family history by meeting many of the Carson ancestors.  I am very anxious to see the results of the future Carson's family presence in the time of the ancestors.  This time, it seems to have altered some important events in their family tree.  With having the Carson family spread out, I was also able to witness many events that happened in 1918. As World War I came to an end, Natalie witnessed firsthand accounts of injured soldiers returning from the front in France and senseless killings even after the War ended.  Adam and Bridget survived a forest fire that ravaged Cloquet, Minnesota.  Greg witnessed Tijuana before it was a tourist town and when money was above the law.  Most interestingly, Cody and Caitlin were able to reconnect with a friend from 1889 and see the effects of the War on a family that has been left behind.  With moments that range from heartbreaking to heartwarming and exciting to mysterious, The Memory Tree is another expertly crafted tale within the Carson Chronicles.  I can't wait to continue their adventures into the 1940's.

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review 2018-05-03 15:48
A Great Detective: The Amos Decker Character
Memory Man - David Baldacci

Excellent story!


Wonderfully unique protagonist with a deep dark history. I really felt for this man who lost everything, except his memories. The support characters (his old partner and his new sidekick) are also well fleshed out.and the plot keeps moving and twisting until there's no way to turn.


When Amos finally connects the memories of his past and relates them to the current murders, the wall tumbles.


I noticed this is book one - I will definitely read the following books about Amos Decker. Baldacci has written us a great character.

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review 2018-04-26 12:17
A book for those who are not afraid to ask uncomfortable questions and are willing to challenge the status quo.
Memory Battles of the Spanish Civil War: History, Fiction, Photography - Sebastiaan Faber

Thanks to Edelweiss and to the publishers (Vanderbilt University Press) for providing me a copy of the book that I freely chose to review.

I was drawn to this book because although I was born and grew up in Spain, I have spent the last 25 years of my life in the UK, and between the time invested in education and work, I know I have missed some of the big debates about the past that have taken place in the country. From personal experience, I know that living abroad gives you a different perspective, usually wider, on a country’s history and society, and I was interested to learn the opinions of a foreign Hispanist on the controversial topic of the book.

This book was illuminating for me. I’ve discovered that I need to catch up and read books, watch documentaries, and explore the memory movement in Spain. I know some details thanks to my mother’s family, but it is a drop in the ocean compared to the many initiatives and projects that have been implemented. I learned about laws (helpful and, mostly, unhelpful), about controversy and debates, about the origin of well-known photographs and documents (including the fact that photographers shared cameras and subjects during the Spanish Civil War, and no matter what their intent, those photographs also had, even at the time, a commercial value), about the uneasy relationship between Culture, cultural objects, and History. Is fiction less valuable when it comes to documenting the reception and the collective memory of a historical event? Or more?

Although I am not an expert in History, I have read some History books over the years and one of the things I found more refreshing about this volume, which collects a variety of essays on topics that fit in well together, is the fact that rather than offering an authoritative version of events or pontificating about the right or wrong way of looking at a particular period in history, it asks questions. On relevancy: how can an academic book written in English discussing events and recent debates about Spanish history and politics reach a wider audience? Are academics simply talking to themselves without ever reaching the general public (unless given an “official” status)? On the approach and the position historians should take when researching and writing their findings: Can historical essays and books ever be “neutral”? And should they be “neutral”? Isn’t it better to be open about one’s point of view and allegiances? (As the author observes, WWII historians are clearly positioned when writing about the war, but in Spain, this is frowned upon). On comparative studies and the risks of conflating similar events in different countries and eras, thereby missing the most interesting and fruitful aspects for analysis: Is it legitimate to apply international models (like those developed through the Holocaust studies) to the Spanish Civil War and the Francoist repression?  On the position of the intellectuals and how politics and affiliations affect even those who try hardest to be rigorous. How can those intellectuals who were heavily invested in the Transition open up to other opinions and not consider them a personal criticism? On the memory movement, the hurdles faced by those trying to find out more about relatives or friends, and about the resistance of historians to see any value in memory narratives. Is forgetting the past the best option, or do the unhealed wounds and traumas that have been festering, no matter how long for, always find a way to resurface? About the boom in historical fiction novels about the Civil War and what they tell us about society and popular opinion. Although the author’s opinions are clearly stated, the questions hang there and readers can take them up and find their own answers.

As I said, I cannot claim to any expertise on the topic, and I suspect experts will have much to take issue with in this book, but for me, it helps provide the tools to answer some of the questions that inform the author’s work and that are the same that a large part of the Spanish population are asking. Quoting from the book:

How have history, fiction, and photography shaped Spanish memory? How has democratic Spain dealt with the legacy of the Civil War, the Franco dictatorship, and the Transition? And how have academics, writers, filmmakers, photographers, and journalists in Spain and elsewhere engaged with a collective process that is central to the country’s future as a unified, functioning democracy?

In view of recent events, these questions are more pressing and relevant than ever, and I hope this book reaches as wide an audience as possible. I recommend it to anybody who is open to fresh perspectives on the subject and is up for a challenging — but ultimately rewarding— read.

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