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Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Memory Thief by Emily Colin (Author Guest Post /Book Review)

In association with JKSCommunications, Jersey Girl Book Reviews welcomes Emily Colin, author of The Memory Thief!

Author Guest Post


If I had to choose a single word to describe the process by which The Memory Thief came into existence, this would be the one. From start to finish, writing the book was colored by something beyond my reach - call it coincidence, fate or something more. 

The very first clue I had that I wasn't alone in this endeavor fell into place the day I set out to find a mountain climber who'd summited South American peaks. (Back then, I'd intended to stage the avalanche that took Aidan's life somewhere below the equator, rather than in Alaska.) As quickly as this thought came into my mind, I dismissed it; I was on my way to a small neighborhood park in coastal North Carolina with my son, and the chance of finding such a human being amidst the cypress trees and Spanish moss seemed minimal. 

So off we went to the park, where we met a man and his son. All of us started chatting, and I discovered that not only was my companion a climber; he owned the lone local climbing gym, led climbing trips, and had just returned from a climbing trip to (you guessed it) South America.

Needless to say, I was floored, and immediately asked him if he'd be willing to lend a hand with the research for my book. Not only did he say yes, he ultimately became the consultant who reviewed every climbing scene in The Memory Thief for accuracy, lending me invaluable assistance - and he lived just around the corner from me.

A few days later, having decided that my main characters would live in Colorado - where I'd never been - I'd determined that I needed to take a research trip across the country. I was driving my son to a play date, with a friend of mine who had, as far as I knew, grown up in Arkansas. It was cold; I was wearing a fleece and the type of hat that, in the South, is called a toboggan. 

My son and I pulled into the driveway and parked. My friend threw the door wide, and the first words out of her mouth were these: "You look like Colorado today. We should take a trip there, want to?" 

I stared at her, completely bemused. I hadn't mentioned the specifics of my manuscript to anyone, much less the place where I planned that many of my characters would call home. In fact, I'd just made the choice a few hours before. I looked at my friend, standing there wearing an expectant expression, and I said, "But why?" 

She shrugged. "I don't know, it just came to me. Do you want to?" 

"Why Colorado?" I said again.

"Well," she said, regarding me as if I were just a bit slow, "I grew up there. You know that, right?"

"I thought you grew up in Arkansas," I said, more bemused than ever. 

"I did," she said. "But then I moved to Colorado. I lived there for years. Do you want to go, or not? Why are you looking at me that way?" 

There, in the doorway of her ranch house on a perfectly prosaic day, I felt a chill wash over me. "I do," I said with perfect confidence. "And let me tell you why." 

My friend and I did indeed travel to Colorado - a trip that proceeded so seamlessly, both for research purposes and otherwise, that long after we'd come back home, we referred to that brief interlude as 'the Colorado bubble.' I think of the entire experience of writing The Memory Thief as a bit of a bubble - a world inside a world., where things went just as they should ... although never quite as I expected. I could tell you many more stories like the two I've shared here - people and places that found their way into my life just as I needed them, tidbits of information that fell into my lap at the crucial time. Serendipitous stories. But in truth, I think that Nicholas Sullivan, my amnesiac character, said it best:

"When you're doing what you're supposed to do, the universe will help you out. It mat throw you a few curve balls, but they're all in the name of a good cause. Once you leave your path behind, that's when you start swimming upstream." 

About The Author

Emily Colin holds a BA in Psychology, with a second major in Literature/Media Studies, from Duke University, and an MS in Family Studies and Human Services, with a specialization in Youth Development, from Kansas State University. She is the Associate Director of DREAMS of Wilmington, a nationally award-winning nonprofit dedicated to building creative, committed citizens by providing youth in need with high-quality, free-of-charge arts programming. A 2001-2003 William C. Friday Human Relations Fellow, Emily´s background includes many years as a classical violinist, as well as writing and editing for regional publications. Prior to coming to DREAMS, she served as Editor-in-Chief of Coastal Carolina Press, a nonprofit publishing company dedicated to preserving the history, culture and activities of the North Carolina coast, and co-founder of Carolina Women´s Partnership, a nonprofit organization through which she published two books featuring women leaders throughout the state of North Carolina. The Memory Thief is her first novel.

Emily Colin ~ The Memory Thief ~ Virtual Book Tour Page ~ JKSCommunications

The Memory Thief Book Trailer

Book Review

The Memory Thief by Emily Colin
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: August 21, 2012
Format: Paperback - 432 pages / Kindle - 1993 KB / Nook - 2 MB
ISBN: 034553039X
Genre: Contemporary Romance / Paranormal Romance / Women's Fiction

BUY THE BOOK: The Memory Thief

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by JKSCommunications.

Book Description:

In Emily Colin’s exquisite debut novel, perfect for the fans of Kristin Hannah, one man’s vow to his wife sparks a remarkable journey that tests the pull of memory and reaffirms the bonds of love.

Before Madeleine Kimble’s mountaineer husband, Aidan, climbs Mount McKinley’s south face, he makes her a solemn vow: I will come back to you. But late one night, Maddie gets the devastating news that Aidan has died in an avalanche, leaving her to care for their son—a small boy with a very big secret. The call comes from J.C., Aidan’s best friend and fellow climber, whose grief is seasoned with survivor’s guilt . . . and something more. J.C. has loved Maddie for years, but he never wanted his chance with her to come at so terrible a cost.

Across the country, Nicholas Sullivan wakes from a motorcycle crash with his memory wiped clean. Yet his dreams are haunted by visions of a mysterious woman and a young boy, neither of whom he has ever met. Convinced that these strangers hold the answers he seeks, Nicholas leaves everything behind to find them. What he discovers will require a leap of faith that will change all of their lives forever.

Book Excerpt:

Chapter One


We fight about the Mt. McKinley trip for two months, a record. I argue with him, I yell, I plead. At night I wake from dreams where Aidan goes tumbling off the mountain, crashing to the bottom of a valley and landing, lifeless, in a heap. I dream that he is crushed by falling rock, that his Cessna goes down before he even reaches the glacier, that he steps on a weak snow bridge and goes hurtling into the depths of a crevasse. Then I wake up, my heart pounding in triple-time, and look over at Aidan sleeping beside me, peaceful and still. Don't go, I say into the darkness of our room. Don't leave me.

Where this premonition of disaster has come from, I can’t say, but it sticks. Aidan tries everything he can think of to make me change my mind, to “see sense,” as he puts it. He listens to all of my doomsday scenarios and then, one by one, tells me why they’re nothing to worry about. He teases me that we’ve changed places, that usually he’s the irrational one and I’m the one calming him down. He makes jokes (“Denali? De nada, baby”), he makes J.C. come and talk to me. He gives me books about successful ascents of the mountain, emails me websites. When none of this does any good, he screams and threatens and throws things. He begs. And finally he retreats into a stony, stubborn silence, from which he only emerges to say, “I’m going and that’s the end of it.”

The night before he leaves in May, I lie in bed waiting for him to join me, and when he doesn’t, I get up to look for him. He’s sitting in the living room, in the dark. I can make out the dim shape of a glass on the coffee table in front of him, next to his lighter and a pack of American Spirits. He smells like whisky.

I sit down on the couch next to him. “Hey.”

“Maddie,” he says, and his voice is rough. He is crying, I realize with some horror. “What’s happening to us?” he says. His voice breaks on the last word.

I move closer, wrap my arms around him. He is shaking, like he was when he came to tell me that he loved me six years ago, that Jim Ellis had died on the Eiger Nordwand and he blamed himself. “I can’t lose you,” he says. “I can’t. I don’t know what I would do. Tell me I’m not losing you, baby. Please.”

Now I am crying too. My tears mingle with his as we hold each other. “You could never lose me,” I say. “I’m the one who’s going to lose you. I know it, Aidan. I know I am.”

He presses his face against mine. “I’m not going anywhere. I’ll be back, honey. You’ll see. I’ll be back and everything will be fine.”

“You can’t know that. Look at what happened to Jim.”

“To Ellis?” he says, sounding puzzled. “What’s McKinley got to do with that? The Nordwand was a freaky set of circumstances, a whole bunch of bad stuff piling up at once. Ellis was sick. That cornice was shit. And then J.C. got knocked out. You know all this.”

I don’t know why I’ve got the Eiger expedition on my mind. Maybe it’s the feel of Aidan’s body trembling, the wetness of his tears. I don’t think I’ve seen him cry since that day, not even when Gabriel was born, and it unsettles me. “All three of you could have died in the crevasse on that stupid mountain, not just him,” I say, and shiver.

“But we didn’t,” he says, pulling away and wiping his eyes. I hear the familiar stubbornness line his voice. “I lost Ellis, true. I haven’t forgiven myself for that. But I did the best I could. I built an anchor. I got us out of there. And I came back to you.” He runs his hand through his hair. “It was a horrible thing, Maddie. But it also made me realize how I feel about you, after that stupidity with Kate. Those extremes—they’re part of why I love what I do. I guess it’s my version of a spiritual experience.”

I roll my eyes, borrowing his bad habit. He sighs.

“Look, honey, there’s a lot of guys who would be happy working a nine-to-five, or whose church is inside four walls rather than halfway up a cliff. But you didn’t marry one of those guys. You married me.”

“I know that,” I say in a small voice.

“Are you sorry?” he says, turning his face to me. His cheeks are streaked with tears. He looks miserable, which is so uncharacteristic that it makes me start crying again.

“What kind of question is that?” I say, blinking my eyes so I can see him clearly.

“A real one,” he says. “Answer it, please.”

“No,” I say without hesitation. “Of course I’m not. I love you for who you are. There’s no one else I’d want to be with.”

Relief flashes across his face. He stretches his arms up to the ceiling, brings one down around my shoulders. “Okay, then,” he says, like everything is settled.

“But Aidan, what if something like that happens again and you’re not so lucky?”

His arm is still around my shoulders, and I can feel the tension seep back into it. He drums his fingers on the back of the couch. “If it does, then it does. That’s why we get emergency training, so that we’ll know how to handle tough situations. Skill and experience count for a lot up there. And I just happen to have a considerable amount of both. As do Roma and J.C. and Jesse.” He wiggles his eyebrows at me, runs his free hand along my thigh.

I know he’s trying to make light of this, to make me smile, but it doesn’t work this time. “You can’t control the weather,” I say. “You can’t tell the mountain what to do.”

Aidan gives up on being charming and folds his arms over his chest. “Jesus, Maddie. Let it go, would you please? I’m getting on a plane tomorrow morning. I don’t want to leave like this.”

“So don’t leave,” I say.

“You know I have to,” he says. “Don’t make it worse.”

I shake my head, and he takes my face between his hands and holds me still. “Have faith. You remember when I told you that, the first time?”

“I remember everything,” I say, and it has the flavor of prophecy, like soon memories will be all I have.

“Have I ever let you down?”

“No, Aidan, but—“

“And I won’t. Why can’t you believe me?” He strokes my hair. His blue eyes are wet, the lashes matted. “Listen,” he says. “I swear I’ll come back to you, all right? I promise I will come home.”

I know this is supposed to make me feel better, but it has the opposite effect, like he’s shaking a fist in the face of fate. “You can’t make a promise like that, Aidan,” I say, my voice uneasy. What I really want to say is, Take it back.

He holds his fingers to my lips, shushing me. “Don’t worry, Maddie, okay? Don’t worry, honey. Don’t worry.” His mouth takes the place of his fingers, and he kisses me like he is pouring out everything he wants to say, like he is trying to leave part of himself here with me. “I love you,” he says. He says it again and again. “You’re my life,” he says, kissing my neck, my breasts, my face. “You and Gabe are all I’ve got. I can’t lose you. Do you hear me?”


“Tell me it’s going to be all right, then.”

“No,” I say. “I can’t tell you that.”

He gives a long, frustrated sigh. “Then tell me you love me, at least. Say it now so I can hear.”

“I love you,” I tell him. “I love you more than you know.”

He grins at me through his tears, I can see that in the light that filters in from the street, from the headlights of passing cars. “Not as much as I love you.” It is an old joke between us. “But I can deal with that.”

“You’re wrong.”

“No,” he says. “I’m not.” And then he kisses me again, and he is making love to me there on the couch in the dark, both of us still crying. There is a desperate edge to the way we come together, each of us afraid that we are going to lose the other—him to the mountain, me to whatever mysterious forces drive couples apart. Remember this, I tell myself as he arches over me, as I rise to meet him. Remember.

My Book Review:

Love lost, love found ... memories made, memories lost ... the continuity of life ...

Mountain climbing enthusiast Aidan Kimble informs his wife Maddie that he is leaving their Colorado home for a climbing expedition on Mt. McKinley in Alaska. Maddie has bad premonitions and pleads with Aidan not to go, but he promises her that he will come back to her and their four year old son Gabe. Unfortunately the climbing expedition has disastrous results, Aidan is killed in an avalanche, leaving his best friend J.C. to inform the news to the grieving widow and son.

J.C. is consumed with survivor's guilt and grief, he questions whether he could have prevented Aidan's death. To add to his angst, J.C. has been in love with Maddie for years, but he never wanted his chance to be with her to come in this way. He vows to be always be there for Maddie and Gabe.

Meanwhile in North Carolina, Nicholas Sullivan wakes from a coma, he learns that he had been in a motorcycle accident and suffers amnesia. He has vivid dreams of falling down a mountain and is haunted by a vision of a sad dark haired woman named Maddie and her preschooler son. Haunted by his dreams of a woman whom he has never met, he yearns to search for them, unaware that he is the instrument of fulfilling a husband's promise to his wife.

The Memory Thief is a hauntingly poignant story of love lost and found, memories made and lost, and life's renewal. In her debut novel, author Emily Colin weaves a bittersweet tale told in the first person narrative with alternating perspectives of Aidan, Maddie and Nicholas. Reminiscent of the movie Ghost, this story has a paranormal twist mixed in with adventure and romance that draws the reader into the lives of Aidan, Maddie, Nicholas and J.C., it is a story that will keep the reader captivated as the story unfolds. Rich in detail and vivid descriptions of the climbing expedition and the emotional pull of the characters, this story will take the reader on a journey that will make you laugh, cry and sigh with contentment.

The cast of characters are realistic with complexities and flaws that the reader can easily relate to. The character development is phenomenal: a larger than life Aidan; the steady and kind J.C.; the haunted searcher Nicholas; the grieving, conflicted Maddie and her adorable young son Gabe. Each must learn to find their way through a tangled web of intense emotions and deep connections that binds them together through the continuity of life. With an engaging dialogue and intriguing interactions; and a storyline filled with adventure, romance, drama and emotional intensity; The Memory Thief is a powerfully compelling story that will resonate with you long after the last page has been read.

Author Emily Colin has created a wonderful story that captures the beauty of the human spirit and what it means to live a life full of passion. She weaves a tale of loss, love, grief, promises, memories, and the serendipity and continuity of life that will simply touch your heart and soul.


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