Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Seven Sins of Memory

Started The Seven Sins of Memory by Daniel L. Schacter last night and am finding it surprisingly accessible and extremely interesting, especially now that I'm getting a bit on in age and forgetting things more often. I was disappointed to learn that science doesn't seem likely to come up with a "magic bullet" to help with memory, and that for absent-mindedness, the only thing to do is use Post-Its (or other memory cues). I've been avoiding doing that, maybe because I don't want to admit that my memory is not as sharp as it used to be, but I guess I better invest in some pretty Sticky Notes to use around the house. You know, to remind myself to "unplug iron," "pay credit card bill," "feed fish before leaving for work," "put wash in dryer," "take library books back on Saturday," and the like.

Hmm, now, where in heaven's name did my eyeglasses go? I had them just a minute ago!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sway, a Review

In this fictionalized retelling of some of the more sordid and shocking events of the wild and heady 60s, the mix of sex, drugs, violence, and rock-and-roll is spot-on. Featured characters are some of the iconic figures of the age ~ Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Brian Jones of the Stones, Anita Pallenberg, muse to both Jones and Richards consecutively, Charles Manson and Bobby Beausoleil, and Kenneth Anger, the filmmaker who knew both the Stones and Beusoleil and, thus, was at the center of the novel.

I won't pretend the novel was perfect. For instance, it was often disjointed beyond what it needed to be, and the culmination of Altamont seemed anticlimatic somehow. Yet it managed to achieve the flavor, the paranoia, the fervor of the 60s in a way that I remember at least vaguely from back in the day and that have stuck with me since I finished Sway a week ago. My favorite parts were the ones with the early Stones ~ Mick, Brian, and Keith. I don't know how faithful (no pun intended) to real life these events were, but they sure go a long way to explain things. I also enjoyed the discussions about the music, the mystique that surrounded the band, especially Mick (on whom I've had a crush since the 60s). I also found the parts about the Manson Family fascinating in a trainwreck sort of way. I read Helter Skelter a long time ago, so maybe I've just forgotten, but Sway brought things to light that I hadn't known (or remembered) before.

As I've already noted in other places, I came of age in the late 60s, and, when I say I lived through the 60s, I mean that I experienced most of what those years had to offer. In other words, while certain events shine through the purple haze with the clarity of the noonday sun, I don't clearly remember much about that time as a whole. While reading Sway, I found myself feeling a bit like you do when you remember an old dream you had a long time ago, and you KNOW it's a dream, but you suddenly can't help feeling in some eerie way that maybe it really did happen after all. Or maybe I was having a flashback.

Either way, I am glad I read this slim novel and am putting it on my TBRR (to-be-re-read) list.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Drawing for Sway

Congratulations to the winners of the drawing for a copy of Sway, and thanks so much to everyone who stopped by to visit and left a comment. I only wish I could have given away a copy to each one of you! Perhaps next time...

Which reminds me, I'm planning a special and unprecedented event here at Just One More Page...Or Two. Christine Weiser, the author of Broad Street, which I read, enjoyed, and reviewed back in 2008, has agreed to be my guest for my first-ever interview! Christine's written a new novel ~ the first of a series, perhaps? ~ that will be coming out soon, and she recently sent me a galley copy to read and review (to be posted shortly). I have to say, I loved it!

The Mom Squad is again set in Philly, and the main character is a rock band singer/guitarist named Maya, but there are big differences between the protagonists of The Mom Squad and Broad Street. For one thing, Maya is no longer a part of the band scene. Instead, she is the fond but slightly bored and definitely stressed stay-at-home mom of what I like to think of as a "strong-willed child" (scarily reminiscent of my own darling daughter when she was that age) and the reluctant step-mom of a rebellious, resentful teenage girl (eerily reminiscent of my own darling daughter when she was that age, except for the goth look and the fact I wasn't really her step-mom, no matter what she might have wished). Maya's posse consists of two other stay-at-home moms, and the three of them get all tangled up in dirty politics and murder. wOOt! That's one way to beat the baby-blahs.

Okay, enough said. I'll be posting the review in the next day or two, and soon after hope to set the date for the interview with Christine.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Secret Hunter

After a few false starts, I sat down with this breezy historical romance and finished it in one sitting. It started out a little unevenly, and it seemed to me there were one or two false steps, but by the time I was a couple chapters in, I was hooked on the story and didn't want to put it down.

Set in England in 1804 while Napoleon was at the height of power in France, the story begins with Gwenllian Lloyd, a smart, feisty, bluestocking, and seemingly unmarriagable sister of a featherheaded baroness, chasing her wayward pug Oliver through a semi-wild park in Bath. During the chase, Gwen literally plows into Daniel Wyckliff, a handsome, dashing rake of "ten thousand pounds a year," knocking him off his feet and landing on top of him. Daniel soon finds himself inexplicably drawn to the charming, unaffected young woman, though he fights his attraction for reasons which soon become clear.

But all is not what it seems, and during a house party at the Dorset estate, domestic intrigue and double-dealing and various infidelities and betrayals are revealed, not to mention a dastardly plot to have the French to invade England, with Gwen caught in the middle of it all.

I got so wrapped up in the characters and the developing story that I lost all track of time, which is a great way to spend a chilly winter Saturday afternoon but doesn't get the chores done. Looking forward to more from Ms. Saville.