But My Brain Had Other Ideas
Don't let the-less-than-catchy title put you off reading (or listening to) this beautifully written, funny, brave, scary and ultimately uplifting book. Of obvious interest to anyone who has any kind of brain injury or disability - as well as to those helping and supporting people with brain injury, this book deserves a much wider audience.
Cavernous Angioma (in which abnormal clusters of blood vessels in the brain sometimes burst and bleed) and the three life saving surgeries that Deb has undergone, have had a profound effect on all aspects of her life. She has to deal with sometimes terrifyingly random symptoms: loss of taste, dizziness, seizures, memory loss, depression and a heightened sensitivity to smell, noise and light that cause her to 'zone out' in difficult situations and environments..
Deb tells her story with humour, rage, pragmatism and hope and manages to find humour and courage amid the nightmare that is happening in her head which affects everything around her; her work, her life, her children, her relationships - even her belief in herself. She tells her story of survival with searing honesty and self-knowledge and a complete lack of self-pity. Her conversations with herself carry you through her journey to survival with her and the whole memoir has a lightness of touch and sensitivity that engenders not only empathy, but admiration for her courage and determination - not to mention admiration for her skill as a writer.
This is a book that made me thankful to be alive and healthy - and gave me a new perspective on my life, my family and friendships and all the things that I value the most. I was so honoured that Deb chose me to 'get inside her head' and tell her story in Audiobook form - it was a privelige - and I am so grateful to her and 'She Writes Press' for giving me the opportunity.
Here's what Deb says about the audiobook:
'Helen did a fabulous job narrating my memoir “But My Brain Had Other Ideas.” Not only was her voice and intonation perfect, but she really captured the essence of who I am. She hit all the nuances of my inner self, fear, humour, grief, just right. As I listened to the final product, I felt as if I was listening to (a better version of) myself telling my story. I can’t be prouder of this audiobook.
About Deb Brandon
Deb Brandon PhD was born in England, raised in Switzerland, Israel and England and is now Professor of Mathematics at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. She has participated nationally and internationally in Dragon Boating and is a renowned textile artist and enthusiast. Her essays have been published in Dragon Boat World International, Hand/Eye Magazine, Logan Magazine; and SIAM Journal of Mathematical Analysis and Journal of Integral Equations and Applications. She has also written 'Threads Around the World: From Arabian Weaving to Batik in Zimbabwe'
The Forgotten Age Book 1 - Rise of The Druids
By Wayne M Sefton
'History is not always an accurate record as it was often written by the victor of the events that led up to the here and now. But there is another history, one that is remembered by those who exist only in myth and folklore. A history from the dawn of this world when Man walked with Elves and Dwarfs, a history from the time of magic. But that was long ago and is long forgotten .. Until now.'
The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan
This is such a gentle and evocative book, beautifully written with so many memorable and well drawn characters.
This book made me realise how much we all have invested in our 'things' and how things carry so many memories of your past, your friends, your family and your life. I have hoarding tendencies myself - so have to be ruthless about what I keep and what I get rid of, but there are some things that I have lost over the years ... the gold fountain pen my husband gave me for my thirtieth birthday, the little flower bead necklace that I had as a child and which slipped down the gap between the mantelpiece and the wall in my mum's old house, lots of bits of jewellery ... nothing intrinsically valuable, but each one came with a memory.
The Keep of Lost Things is also a guardian of memories and when the owner and the lost thing are re-united as they occasionally are, then the moment is magical. A beautiful book that I will re-read ... it made me cry and laugh. One of those books I missed reading as soon as I had finished it.
An extensively researched, beautifully written historical journey of the life of short-sighted shy ten year old Anne - grand-daughter of Charles 11, daughter of the Catholic King James 11, who eventually came to the throne after succeeding William and Mary and whose reign brought to an end the Stuart dynasty. The book contains many of Anne's actual letters to her friends, her family - and most importantly to God giving us an insight into her thoughts and hidden feelings.
My only gripe is that the publishers have chosen an italicised script font for all of the letters and diary entries which is incredibly difficult to read.
Save me Twice: Based on a True Story by E.A. Dustin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
In essence this book is not a novel … it is a non-fiction book based on horrific and extraordinary real life events in Germany under Hitler and the third Reich, and of how brainwashed, and how inured to the horror of slaughter and death many ordinary people in Germany became and how, almost on the turn of a coin, one person will live and another will die, or be sent to concentration camp, or will escape.
The facts are in themselves fascinating. However, because the author adds some ‘twists’ and says in the epilogue that only 95% of the book is ‘factual’ it is called ‘a novel’ but it really isn’t a work of fiction – neither is it purely fact and therein lies the problem.
It doesn’t work as a novel because it isn’t written as a novel - there are too many bald facts and not enough atmosphere or emotional or imaginative input and it doesn’t completely work as a piece of non-fiction either because I was constantly wondering which bits were true and which were imagined, or exaggerated, or just ‘embroidered’ somehow.
The subject matter is fascinating but I found the writing style rather clunky which got in the way of my connection with the story. It was a little like reading a newspaper article with added dialogue. I got no real sense of the drama, of the era, of the time and place, of the weariness and fear or of the oppressive and desperate atmosphere that must have been pervasive. Perhaps because the author has so much invested in telling her family story truthfully, she held back her emotional response and this apparent lack of empathy or involvement in the character’s emotions prevented me from feeling for them or really caring about what happened to them. They never really came to life. but were kind of ‘once removed’.
I absolutely understand why the author is wedded to the truth of the story, it is an intensely personal one telling as it does the life story of her family whom she obviously loves and cherishes. I found it interesting in a cerebral sense in that I gained knowledge about lots of things I hadn’t known before, but it didn’t engage me. I can see it being of real interest to a reader looking for a serious historical document about Germany in WWII but it didn’t really work for this reader who was expecting an historical novel, albeit one with a basis in fact.
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Photo Credit: Paul Haynes
I've gleaned quite a lot of knowledge over the years, knowledge that might be of interest to others, especially authors, actors and voice actors. Because I read so much, for pleasure and professionally, I also occasionally write reviews of what I read - so they're here too.
My opinions are mine and my views are my own!