Tag Archives: The Geography of Memory

WWW Wednesday, 11-June-2014

11 Jun

One down! But know I’m working on each of the other books; just not enough to finish any of them. I wish there was more to report for MizB’s WWW .

www_wednesdays4The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading: The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson came in and I’ve been able to make more progress on it. I don’t think I’ll finish it again before it’s due, but I’ve made a lot of progress. I finished the next section of The Maze Runner by James Dashner and I’m not sure how I picked such a cliffhanger of a stopping point but DANG. I can’t wait to keep going.  On audiobook I’m listening to The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian. My carpool buddy is on vacation so I’m plowing through this on my commute. I think I’m a little over half way and I’m loving it. Since carpool buddy is on vacation,  Brave New World by Aldous Huxley is on hold this week. My physical book at the moment is an ARC; O, Africa! by Andrew Lewis Conn. I’m only reading it at lunch so I’m making slow progress but I’ll take it on vacation this weekend and see what I can do. Yes, that’s right, I’m going on vacation! We’re taking the bus so I’ll have plenty of time to read.

Recently finished: With the push of having to make this update, I stayed up and finished reading my NaNo last night! Woooo. Nothing to add to my Goodreads challenge, but hey! I did review The Geography of Memory by Jeanne Murray Walker but that’s all.

Reading Next:  As my book club doesn’t meet until August, I might have time for something in between. I want to concentrate on finishing O, Africa! next, but there could be one more ARC in line. On audio, I have Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser on reserve at the library. Stay tuned!

Let’s see if I can finish my audiobook by next week. What are your three Ws? Leave a comment and let me know and check out the original post on MizB’s blog!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

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Book Review: The Geography of Memory by Jeanne Murray Walker (3/5). Advice on how to deal with Alzheimers from 1,000 miles away.

6 Jun

I’ m embarrassed to admit how long it took me to read this book. I received it as part of a Goodreads giveaway at the end of last year and I’ve been meaning to read it ever since. One of the main characters of my NaNo has Alzheimer’s, which is the focus of Walker’s memoir, so I thought this would be a great way to inspire me to keep writing my NaNo. I think it’s worked because I’ve been able to point out some flaws in my book based on hearing about Jeanne’s mom’s disease.

Cover Image via Goodreads.com

Cover Image via Goodreads.com

The Geography of Memory by Jeanne Murray Walker

Jeanne never anticipated the day she’d have to take care of her mother. Wasn’t it a parent’s job to take care of their children, not the other way around? When Jeanne’s mother started showing signs of Alzheimer’s and Dementia, she and her sister took action. It was a long process to get their mother the treatment and care she needed. Their mother herself resisted along the way, insisting at times that she could take care of herself and didn’t need to help of her daughters. Jeanne lived in far away Pennsylvania and felt at times helpless to assist her sister with their mother’s care in Texas. Jeanne ended up fighting not only her mother’s illness, but with her inner demons of obligation and duty.

I’m really glad I read this book for my research. I could see the stead slip that Walker’s mother took into the disease and the ways it affected her communication. She does a wonderful job of comparing the stages of the disease and lets the reader know how sever the degradation is. As I read my NaNoWriMo draft about a grandmother with Alzheimer’s, I’m struck at how quick and jerky my character’s progression is and how I’ve inaccurately portrayed the important steps in Alzheimer’s progression. As research is discouraged during NaNo, I’m not surprised and I’m glad I have Walker’s story to provide some guidance.

I think Walker wrote about her mother in a very loving way. When someone around you is going through a trying medical condition, it can be easy to become angry; misplacing fear and frustration with the disease on the person him or herself. Maybe hindsight is 20-20 but Walker was very kind with her mother and her patience is commendable.

I liked the portrayal of Walker’s sister, Julie, who served as a primary caregiver due to her proximity to where their mother lived. I enjoyed reading about the struggle the sisters faced in their mother’s illness and how they were able to use it to strengthen their relationship. I admired Julie’s courage and strength to care for her mother and maintain her family obligations and job. She is a very strong woman.

I related to the character’s struggle a bit. When I was in middle school, my mom was in a bicycle accident and my brother and I had to help out a lot more than a 12- and 10-year-old would normally be expected to. I understood Walker’s initial confusion and disorientation about needing to care for the person who’s always cared for you. So far, I’ve been lucky enough to have both my parents with me and it looks like they’ll be around for a long time. I hope not to go through what she experienced for a long time.

Jeanne Murray Walker

Jeanne Murray Walker

Walker peppered the books with small flashbacks to her childhood that helped illustrate the stark differences between her mother of years before and the deteriorating woman she saw daily. These helped me see the change more strongly and I think helped her convey the change without hitting the reader over the head with it.

Reading about Walker’s mother moving was very difficult. It was obvious that part of what kept her centered was being in a place she recognized, but that was becoming impossible with her care needs. It was really hard to read about the emotional turmoil she went through to see her things in another space. I felt like her condition worsened more quickly at this point and it made me sad to read.

I felt a lot of hope in Walker’s book. She gave a message that even when we’re losing someone, there’s still a way to hold on to the person he or she used to be. I live far away from my grandparents and it’s hard to hear about their declining health (they’re in their 90s!). I know that even as they get older, their younger selves are still inside and will continue to thrive long past when they’re gone.

Writer’s Takeaway: Walker is a poet if one can believe the cover flap, and her prose had a lot of that poetic feel. I liked the emotional feel of this novel and I think that as a non-poet, it helped me feel more confident to use poetic license in prose. If something as factual as a memoir can be poetic, why can’t my Historical Fiction Young Adult novel?

I really enjoyed this book, but it didn’t grip me. I found the beginning a bit slow and kept finding myself reading something else. The ending was tight and well constructed and kept my attention. Three out of five stars.

This book fulfilled ‘Texas’ for my Where Are You Reading? Challenge.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
the geography of memory | Melissa Reeser Poulin
Bearing witness to hope when memory fails | Adele Gallogly

WWW Wednesday, 21-May-2014

21 May

I’m so glad to have progress to report for MizB’s WWW after having so little last week. I think this spurred me into action.

www_wednesdays4The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading: I’m finally reading my own book! It’s the really really rough draft of the book I wrote for NaNoWriMo. It’s in rough shape, believe me. Hopefully I can gain some semblance of a structure and consistent characters when I do a re-write.

I’m on hold with The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson. Someone put a hold on it and I didn’t know, so I have to wait three weeks to start back on it. Those bastards. I finished the second part of The Maze Runner by James Dashner. My first Read-Along post went up on Thursday last week. If you’re interested in joining, let me know soon before we get too far along! We’re just starting chapters 10-19 and will be done with them by 26-May. On audiobook I’m listening to Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan. It’s a true story about a reporter who was almost institutionalized while suffering from a rare disease. This is my book club selection for June. In a lovely turn of events, my carpool buddy agreed to try some audiobooks! After day one, she’s fallen asleep and I’m pleased. We settled on Brave New World by Aldous Huxley which she’s read and enjoyed and I’ll be reading for the first time.

Recently finished: Two books finished!  The Geography of Memory by Jeanne Murray Walker is an ARC I’ve been wanting to read for months. I’m glad I finally did. The memoir focuses on Walker’s mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s; a similar battle to the one my protagonist faces in my NaNo. I also finished I Am The Messenger by Markus Zusak on audio. The narrator was great, but I’m confused about the ending. I’m not sure I really understood it.

Reading Next:  I’m going to take a jump on these ARCs. Next up is O, Africa by Andrew Lewis Conn. It’s set in the 1920s, so you can judge my excitement from that.

I’m feeling better about books moving forward. I see a bright light full of words and libraries. What are your three Ws? Leave a comment and let me know and also check out the original post on MizB’s blog!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 7-May-2014

14 May

As anticipated, my carpool has slowed down my audio book consumption. It’s still at an okay pace, but nothing like it was before. I’m sad to say that my edition of MizB’s WWW will, for the first time, report little progress!www_wednesdays4The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading: I’m trucking through The Geography of Memory by Jeanne Murray Walker. I should be able to finish this before next week! It’s a bit slow right now. A little too much memory and not enough action. The flashbacks are long and seem disjointed. On my phone I’m reading The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson. It’s still a slow drive, but I’ve been reading in very small pieces. I’m on m second part of The Maze Runner by James Dashner. My first Read-Along post will be up tomorrow so check back to read that. If you’re interested in joining, let me know soon before we get too far along! We’re just starting chapters 10-19 and will be done with them by 26-May. On audiobook I’m working on I Am The Messenger by Markus Zusak. It’s nice that this audiobook is on my phone because I can listen to it while I do house chores.

Recently finished: Nothing new to report! I posted a review of The City & The City by China Mieville, but I finished it a few weeks ago. Hopefully there’s more progress next week.

Reading Next:  Still planning on reading my NaNo. I’ll get a new book club selection on Monday but I hope that doesn’t slow me down! There’s a Poets & Writers on my nightstand I need to read, too!

Expect slower progress from me in the future, unfortunately. I’m trying to figure out a way to balance this carpool and my book obsession. What are your three Ws? Leave a comment and let me know and also check out the original post on MizB’s blog!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 7-May-2014

7 May

I feel more in control of my reading now. I hope it’s not a false sense of security. I’m glad MizB’s WWW forces me to deal with my obsession. www_wednesdays4The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading: I’m going to pick up The Geography of Memory by Jeanne Murray Walker today and get started on that again. I was really enjoying it so we’ll see where this goes. On my phone I’m reading The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson. I’m slowly getting more and more into this one. Slowly. I’ve also started The Maze Runner by James Dashner. You can expect to see this on my list for a few months because it’s my first Read-Along selection. If you’re interested in joining, let me know soon before we get too far along! We’ll have read Chapters 1-9 by May 10th. I’ve finished the selection and now I’m working on writing some good questions to ask my fellow readers. On audiobook I just started I Am The Messenger by Markus Zusak. The narrator is amazing and I’m really getting into it. I just joined a carpool so my audiobook usage is going to go down significantly but I’ll keep working on this one.

Recently finished: I finished Cabin Pressure by Josh Wolk. I posted my review of it yesterday. I still owe you all a few more reviews. I’m working on them, I promise! Work has been a bit hectic but I’ll have catch-up time this weekend. Last night I finished  The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa. It was a really quick and fun read. I’m looking forward to the book club discussion.

Reading Next:  I still want to read my NaNo book, so that’s the plan! I’ve got to get that re-written this year.

You can see the numbers really are going down. What are your three Ws? Leave a comment and let me know and also check out the original post on MizB’s blog!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 30-April-2014

30 Apr

My number of in-process books is slowly going down. Slowly. It’s still a bit out of control. I’m glad MizB’s WWW forces me to deal with my obsession.
www_wednesdays4The Three Ws are:
What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading: I’ve got one book more or less on hold right now. It’s The Geography of Memory by Jeanne Murray Walker which is a Goodreads First Read I’ve been wanting to get into for months now. I hope to power through it in a few weeks when the book club stack slows down.

On audiobook I’m back to listening to Cabin Pressure by Josh Wolk. I think I’m getting close to the end on this one and I’ve really enjoyed it for the laughs.

I just started The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa for my book club. No report on it yet but I’ve heard it’s a fast read. On my phone I’m reading The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson. It’s slow going but it’s starting to get interesting again and I’m excited to keep at this one. I think it will be well worth it in the end. I’ve also started The Maze Runner by James Dashner. You can expect to see this on my list for a few months because it’s my first Read-Along selection. If you’re interested in joining, let me know soon before we get too far along! We’ll have read Chapters 1-9 by May 10th.

Recently finished: Finished one book Monday and one on Tuesday! I’m so glad I can report something. I finished the audiobook for And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini and a physical copy of The City and the City by China Mieville, which was a book club selection. Reviews coming… eventually!

Reading Next:  I want to re-read the book I wrote during NaNoWriMo so that’s next on my list. Sadly, no link to a webpage for it yet.

Phew that was long! What are your three Ws? Leave a comment and let me know and also check out the original post on MizB’s blog!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 23-April-2014

23 Apr

I’m always overwhelmed by my own post for WWW Wednesday hosted by MizB. I hope I can finish all the books I’m starting. Also, should I start including pictures? What do you all think?
www_wednesdays4The Three Ws are:
What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading: I feel like I’m adding more to this list than I’m taking off. I started reading The Geography of Memory by Jeanne Murray Walker which really excited me because I didn’t think I’d get to! This is a Goodreads First Read I got ages ago and haven’t been able to start. I’m only a little bit in and really enjoying it, but I’m putting it on hold because I’ve got a wave of book club books tumbling down on me. The first is The City and the City by China Mieville. Can anyone spell his name phonetically for me? I’m curious. It’s very science-fiction-y and that’s not usually my thing so we’ll see how this goes. So far, so good. On my phone I’m still working through The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson. It’s slow going here. The story is good, but not grabbing me the way I hoped it would. I hope it picks up soon.

On audio I’m about half way through And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini. I’m sad to announce that I’m not as into this story as I’d hoped to be. I’m hoping it’s a slow start, but it’s dragging a little. I think part of it is the narrators. Two of them have such strong accents that it distracts from how much I’m enjoying the story. I still have Cabin Pressure by Josh Wolk to listen to while I’m cooking and cleaning and I’m really enjoying this option. It makes cooking funny.

Recently finished: I finished reading Before You Know Kindness by Chris Bohjalian on Friday. I adored the book, a full 5 out of 5 stars. I’m writing the review now and it should be up next week. I got tweeted by the author and it made my day!

Reading Next:  I’ll be starting two more books in the next week. The first is The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa which is for my book club. It’s a short one so I’m hoping I won’t be held up on it for too long. The second is The Maze Runner by James Dashner. This is the book chosen for my first Read Along With Me series. We haven’t started yet and there’s still time to join. There’s more information here and you can email me at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com if you’re interested in joining us.

Phew that was long! What are your three Ws? Leave a comment and let me know and also check out the original post on MizB’s blog!

Be sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. You can see all of these on the right hand bar. (You know you want to.)

Until next time, write on.

WWW Wednesday, 19-Mar-2014

19 Mar

I’m having a blast with MizB’s WWW Wednesday meme. If you haven’t yet, considering joining in the fun!

www_wednesdays4The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading: I’m keeping the numbers low. Yay for me! I’m determined to make headway on Harry Potter y la Orden del Fenix by J.K. Rowling. I read 50 pages over the weekend and I’ll make my way to the end soon enough. Reading this is much more academic than fun because I have to look words up so often, so I’m not enjoying it as much as I could. My review of this book will be more about what it’s like to read in another language than the book itself. I started a new audiobook last night, Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. I was advised that I’ll need to keep a box of tissues with me while I listen to it. The story is about the reasons why a teen girl killed herself. That does seem to be a topic that would beg Kleenex. My ebook of the moment is The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson. I’ll be reading this one for a while and it’s so far, so good.

Recently finished: I finished The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach last night. It was absolutely amazing and had a very fitting ending. I’ll be posting a review soon, hopefully tomorrow! This was for my book club that meets next on 31-March so there will be a follow-up Book Club Reflection to follow.

Reading Next: Since I got another First Reads in the mail last week, I realized how much I need to read The Geography of Memory by Jeanne Murray Walker. It’s been sitting on my shelf for far too long.

That’s it from me. What are your three Ws? Leave a comment and let me know and also check out the original post on MizB’s blog!

Until next time, write on.

WWW Wednesday, 12-Mar-2014

12 Mar

The community surrounding WWW Wednesday that MizB has created has blown me away. Thank you to everyone who participates! I’m so glad I joined this meme.

www_wednesdays4The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading: Will you all believe that I’m only reading three books? It’s crazy, I know. I’m buckling down and really trying to finish reading Harry Potter y la Orden del Fenix by J.K. Rowling. I’ve got some time because I’ve already read my book club’s next selection so I’m taking advantage of it. On audio I’m working my way through The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach. I’m in love with this book and the narrator on the audio is amazing. I needed a new book on my phone and the first one I could find was The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson. I decided to read this after I saw John Green tweet about how good it is. I have unstoppable faith in John Green.

Recently finished: I’ve finished two books in the past week. Allegiant by Veronica Roth was the first. I’m almost done for the review for this, it might be up as early as Friday. The other title was We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. I absolutely loved this book and I’m going to try to watch the movie this weekend and write a joint review next week. We’ll see how much time I end up having.

Reading Next: I know I keep saying I will read Richard Ford’s Canada, but I know I have a Goodreads First Reads sitting in my shelf and another one on the way. I’ll probably read The Geography of Memory by Jeanne Murray Walker so I can write the review I owe to the author. It will be good for me to read this prior to re-writing my second manuscript in which a character has Alzheimer’s.

That’s it from me. What are your three Ws? Leave a comment and let me know and also check out the original post on MizB’s blog!

Until next time, write on.

Goodreads First Reads

11 Oct

If you’re not already aware of Goodreads’ First Reads program, I’m here to inform you.  If you are, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

To summarize, First Reads is a platform for authors to give away copies of their books to a user who requests it.  They author (or publisher) can put as many copies as they like available for giveaway and set an end date at which time winners are selected.  Sometimes it’s to raise awareness and other times to try to get reviews at a launch.

I’ve been lucky enough to win four books off of first reads in only two weeks.  As my To-Read shelf is increasing exponentially, I’ve decided to stop and give other readers a chance to win.  I talked about two of the books I won, the first being The Almond Tree.  I received this book in the mail only a few days later and it’s nestled safely on my bookshelf.  The next I hope to get is The Tilted World which I blogged about on Wednesday.  I was really excited to see this book in a bookstore I went to Tuesday night.  I felt like I was cheating because I had it being sent to my house!

I want to take this opportunity to tell you about the other two books I’m anxiously awaiting.  The first is called The Geography of Memory: A Pilgrimage Through Alzheimer’s by Jeanne Murray Walker.  I entered to win this because my NaNo WIP has a character who is suffering from Alzheimer’s.  The novel follows Walker as she takes care of her mother during her journey with Alzheimer’s.  I think this book will be a good place to draw from for some of the details of caring for an Alzheimer’s patient.

The second book I want to tell you about is called The Absent Lord by Jason Beacon.  There are only a limited number of copies of this book available and it will be released November 1.  It’s the story of a man forced into couples counseling.  To keep his relationship alive, he agrees to hear the story of the Absent Lord and is forever changed.  I entered to win this book because it sounded like The Princess Bride which I’ll admit I haven’t read, but loved the movie.  I was surprised to see I’d won and even had a personal message from the author in my Goodreads inbox!  I’m very anxious to get this book read and add my review to its page before the book even comes out.

So there you have it: my First Reads experience.  What has been your First Reads experience?  Have you read all your books from it?  Have you used it to promote your own book?  Please let me know in a comment, I’d love to hear from you.