Book Review: ‘The Answer to the Riddle is Me: A Memoir of Amnesia’ by David Stuart MacLean

davidstuartmacleanWhen I was in college at the University of Minnesota, I took an Honors Seminar class that focused on memory and the construction of self. We met on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 8am, and took turns leading discussions and bringing breakfast.  I’ve always been fascinated by the role that memories serve in shaping who we are as people, and during those discussions, I found myself questioning how I constructed my own identity.  What memories shaped who I am? What else shaped me into the person I am?

So what happens when you wake up on a train platform in India without the slightest idea of who you are or how you arrived at the train platform in the first place? No memories at all. What kind of identity can you construct of who you are?

David Stuart MacLean’s debut book “The Answer to the Riddle is Me: A Memoir of Amnesia” answers the above mentioned questions with articulate prose and profound self discovery.  On October 7, 2002 when MacLean woke up and “could feel a heavy absence in [his] brain, like a static cloud” on the train platform in Hyderabad, India, he sobbed as a kind officer took him to a halfway house assuming that he was just another American tourist who was addicted to drugs.  MacLean ends up in a mental institution where he regains some memories, but mostly fades in and out of short bouts of waking and sleeping nightmares.  He realizes after his parents arrive that his memory loss stems from a severe allergic reaction to the anti-malaria drug Larium (which was routinely prescribed by his doctor after David received a Fulbright scholarship in India). Continue reading “Book Review: ‘The Answer to the Riddle is Me: A Memoir of Amnesia’ by David Stuart MacLean” »

Posted in Book review | Leave a comment

“Mama Gena’s Marriage Manual” by Regena Thomashauer

1102729If you want to save your marriage, do not pick up “Mama Gena’s Marriage Manual” by Regena Thomashauer.

Calling herself Mama Gena, this entrepreneur started a program called “Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts.” Here, she invites women to feed off their passion and desire to transform their lives. They become Sister Goddesses, according to Gena, and can get whatever they want if they put their minds to it.

This slightly selfish theme crosses over into the “Marriage manual,” where Mama basically tells women that they can train their husbands into becoming their knight that will listen to every desire. Continue reading ““Mama Gena’s Marriage Manual” by Regena Thomashauer” »

Posted in Book review, Nonfiction, Self-help | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hallam author Stephanie Giese comes full circle through writing, blogging

Stephanie Giese started her blog to connect with other writers and mothers. Now, she's co-founded a conference to help aspiring writers learn the tricks of her trade. Submitted photo.

Stephanie Giese started her blog to connect with other writers and mothers. Now, she’s co-founded a conference to help aspiring writers learn the tricks of her trade. Submitted photo.

As a new mom, Hallam writer Stephanie Giese turned to blogging to make connections with other women, mothers and writers.

Just four years later, female writers are now looking to her to get connected.

Giese has founded BlogU, a conference coming up June 6-8 in Baltimore that will bring dozens of “mommy bloggers” together to offer helpful sessions on building and improving each other’s blogs. Continue reading “Hallam author Stephanie Giese comes full circle through writing, blogging” »

Posted in Book news, For writers, Local author, Local events, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Local author J. Arthur Moore to sign books at Gettysburg battlefield April 12

J. Arthur Moore of Narvon (Lancaster County) will sign copies of his four-part Civil War novel “Journey Into Darkness” 1 to 3 p.m. April 12 at Gettysburg National Civil War Battlefield’s museum bookstore, 1195 Baltimore Pike, Gettysburg.

Moore will also share photos and discuss some of the soldiers who served in the Civil War.

“Journey Into Darkness” is available online at www.upfromcorinth.com and Amazon.com.

Posted in Author visit, Book discussion, Book signings, Civil War books | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

BAM best-sellers for week ending March 30

Best-sellers as reported by Books-A-Million in Springettsbury Township for the week ended March 30.

Fiction
1. “Divergent,” by Veronica Roth
2. “Allegiant,” by Veronica Roth
3. “Fault in Our Stars,” by John Green
4. “Insurgent,” by Veronica Roth
5. “Shadow Spell,” by Nora Roberts

Posted in Best-sellers | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Lancaster Civil War Round Table to welcome author J. David Petruzzi

The Lancaster Civil War Round Table will welcome author, speaker and historian J.David Petruzzi at 7 p.m. April 10 at the Lititz Public Library, 651 Kissel Hill Road. The program is free to attend.  JD will speak on his latest book, “The Gettysburg Campaign in Numbers and Losses.”
Comprehensive orders of battle are presented int he book for more than three dozen engagements, both large and small, waged during the five weeks of the Gettysburg Campaign.  Each presentation includes a synopsis of the engagement, photos of the commanders, an original full-page map (by co-author Steven Stanley) of the fighting, order of battle with numbers and losses, charts and graphs of relative strengths and losses, and much more.
Petruzzi is the author and co-author of a number of cavalry and Gettysburg related books.  His last book, “The Complete Gettysburg Guide,” was the 2009 recipient of the U.S. Army Historical Foundation’s Award for Excellence, Reference Category.  He was also a historical adviser and actor in two television docudramas and was recently selected to be the historical adviser for an upcoming television miniseries, titled “To Appomattox.”
 For details, call 717-392-4976.
Posted in Author visit, Civil War books, Library events, Local events, Local history, Recently released | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘Everything but the Kitchen Sink’ by Francesca Beauman

1784951If you want a good giggle fit, but don’t have much time to read, pick up “Everything but the Kitchen Sink” by Francesca Beauman.

The subhead could have been misleading: “What every modern woman needs to know.” With this statement, I was convinced this book would teach me how to act like a lady. However, this book was a parody of what “every modern woman” needs to know. That idea could have gone horribly wrong.

It didn’t; instead, it was hilarious.

Francesca makes a seemingly straightforward advice book a great read with her tone and writing style — mostly serious, but backed with facts and little quips throughout. There are a variety of topics, including group sex, top baby girl names, WWII heroines and some recipes.

Do modern women need to know these small details? Probably not, but some are helpful, such as how to host a party and how to handle a drinks party.

It was a petite book, so I could throw it in my purse and read it on the bus. Whereas sometimes I stop every few pages and then feel lost, ” I couldn’t put this down. I wanted to see what funny quips she would write next.

This is a great book for a doctor’s office or on your lunch break, and the interesting facts can make good small talk at a party. I just caution you not to talk about group sex or how to deliver a baby, but maybe use your newfound knowledge about sailing or names of pets owned by famous people.

Posted in Book review, Humor, Nonfiction | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Review: ‘The Impossible Knife of Memory’ by Laurie Halse Anderson

lauriehalseanderson“Having to parent your mother or father is a challenge that way too many teens have to deal with. Teens whose parents are dealing with substance abuse, financial hardship, job loss, mental illness and divorce deserve our love, support, and compassion. I wish America would stop judging and criticizing teens and instead, try to understand the battles they have to fight every day.” – Laurie Halse Anderson

Maybe after being out of the high school world and not being surrounded by teenagers all day makes me think that Laurie Halse Anderson’s latest YA move, “The Impossible Knife of Memory” teeters on the edge of too angsty.  The premise behind the book proves both thought provoking and important as Anderson probes a subject that many don’t discuss PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) in war veterans.  As Anderson says in the above quote, teenagers do deal with so much and adults need to recognize this fact that many of them deal with too much.  Too much misery and pain, though, clouds the relationships and characters in Anderson’s latest YA novel. Continue reading “Book Review: ‘The Impossible Knife of Memory’ by Laurie Halse Anderson” »

Posted in Book review | Leave a comment

Cartoonist, illustrator Mimi Pond to lecture at York College March 31

York College will host professional cartoonist and illustrator Mimi Pond for a lecture 3 p.m. Monday, March 31, in the Cora Miller Gallery of Wolf Hall at York College of PA, 441 Country Club Rd., York.

The author and illustrator of five books, her most recently published work is the graphic novel “Over Easy: A Tale of Sex, Drugs, Rock’n'Roll and Eggs in the Late 1970s in Oakland, CA,” to be released April 15. The book is available for pre-order on Amazon.com.

According to the event’s Facebook page, “Pond has has just been hired by the Paris Review to write a piece about her experience here in York where she has been helping her husband, Wayne White, current artist-in-resident at York College.”

 

Posted in Author visit, Book news, Book signings, Coming soon, Graphic novels, Local events, Memoir, Nonfiction | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Farming more than vegetables in central Pa.: Review of Arlo Crawford’s ‘A Farm Dies Once a Year’

Arlo Crawford's memoir "A Farm Dies Once a Year" will be available for purchase on Amazon.com beginning April 1. Follow the author on Twitter @Arlo_Crawford.

Arlo Crawford’s memoir “A Farm Dies Once a Year” will be available for purchase on Amazon.com beginning April 1. Follow the author on Twitter @Arlo_Crawford.

I picked up the publisher’s advance copy of Arlo Crawford’s “A Farm Dies Once a Year” from the review pile here at the YDR because I adore two things: vegetables and a good memoir.

The book jacket said this was a book about farming in Appalachia, about growing organic vegetables.

I’ve tried my hand at that art, and even in the selling of said vegetables at market stands and alongside country roads, so I was intrigued.

Then I discovered Crawford and his family’s beloved New Morning Farm are within an hour’s drive of my hometown, and I was sold. Continue reading “Farming more than vegetables in central Pa.: Review of Arlo Crawford’s ‘A Farm Dies Once a Year’” »

Posted in Book news, Book review, Coming soon, Food, Literature, Local history, Memoir, Nonfiction, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment