Thursday, October 30, 2008

Nicholas Dana Baff -January 28th, 1991-October 30th, 2006

"Bereavement is a darkness impenetrable to the imagination of the unbereaved."
--Iris Murdoch

My Prayer

To my darling Nicky,
Words fail me on this 2nd anniversary of your death. I can't believe that 2 years have gone feels like just blip in my life...a point at which all the joy has faded from my soul.
All that I felt good about as a grown woman was to be your and Madeleine's mother...everything else felt two were the only purity. I must find a way to keep going and continue to feel good about being your mom even if you are not here for me to hold and hug and watch grow up.
I want to believe that we will be together again.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Life After Genius Blog Tour

Life After Genius by M. Ann Jacoby

Received from Hachette Book Group to review for a blog tour. This book goes on sale today and it is well worth the buy. I found the book delightful with strong characters that move towards a meaningful climax and resolution. This book doesn't read like an author's's voice reads like a well crafted finale.
Mead, as Teddy prefers to be called now, is the epitome of the underdog. He makes every mistake in the book...pun intended, but every experience is a learning curve and he handles bullying, intimidation, alienation from his family and academic dishonesty all with the same aplomb that he handles his genius. What wouldn't he give to have it all taken away-to not be different ever again?
He tends to find out what the treasures of life are after he has lost his chance at them. Like the chance to really bond with his cousin who he never really trusted. He feels guilt about everything; he is letting his parents down...his mom wants him to conquer the world and his dad just wants him to find worthwhile work; his academic advisor and dean, they want him to publish an incredible finding to bring prestige to the college; his uncle and aunt who wish that he had been the one who died and he himself because he has never allowed himself to go after what he truly wants.
Meeting many other characters along the way, who all have their own stories to tell and agendas, Mead stumbles through his life feeling apart from others until he is due to graduate from college and the world crumbles around him.
Mead embodies a young man with visible vulnerabilities and hidden strengths but a huge resolve to find a place for himself in his own life.
I give this a 5 out of 5 stars and I recommend this book to anyone looking for a satisfying read.

Life After Genius My Space

Author Bio
I was not much of a reader as a kid preferring to live in my own make-believe world of characters and situations. Hours would go by like seconds. I didn’t want to stop playing to eat or sleep. Then in my twenties I started reading a lot of trashy romance novels. Somewhere along the line I bored of those, revisited my college edition of American Literature: The Makers and the Making Vol. II and discovered Sherwood Anderson. I went back and reread Catcher in the Rye (which I surely must have read in high school) and loved it. I read and fell in love with Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler and Talk Before Sleep by Elizabeth Berg. I decided to try Tolstoy. I read Anna Karenina and was surprised by how much I enjoyed this Russian classic. I was like a hungry person at an all-you-can-eat buffet. I tasted a lot of different books putting aside those that didn’t please the palate and going back for seconds and thirds on those that did. Throughout the process of writing Life After Genius, I often referred to Stones for Ibarra by Harriet Doerr and Death of Sweet Mister by Daniel Woodrell, reading a chapter here or a paragraph there for inspiration. Or sometimes I’d pop into the DVD player one of my favorite movies. Elling, which is a Norwegian film. Son of the Bride, which is Argentinian. Or You Can Count on Me. Or Midnight Run. Or Terms of Endearment. I love smart, observant, small moments. Heart-rending moments sprinkled with humor. Quirky characters. These are what send me running back to my computer to write. The place I go as an adult where time loses all meaning and I have to remind myself to eat.

Check out what everybody says about Life After Genius:

A Bookworm's World
Bermudaonion's Weblog
Booking Mama
Library Queue
Marjolein Book Blog
The Book Nest
Seaside Book Worm Blogger
Linus's Blanket
Diary of an Eccentric
Savvy Verse and Wit
The Optimistic Bookfool
The Printed Page
My Friend Amy
Shooting Stars Mag
Books, Pungs, and More
A Novel Menagerie
The Tome Traveller's Weblog
The Official Chikune Website
Book Critiques
B & b ex libris
Sharon Loves Books and Cats
At Home With Books

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Life After Genius Blog Tour

Life After genius by M. Ann Jacoby

Book Description: Theodore Mead Fegley has always been the smartest person he knows. By age 12, he was in high school, and by 15 he was attending a top-ranking university. And now, at the tender age of 18, he’s on the verge of proving the Riemann Hypothesis, a mathematical equation that has mystified academics for almost 150 years. But only days before graduation, Mead suddenly packs his bags and flees home to rural Illinois. What has caused him to flee remains a mystery to all but Mead and a classmate whose quest for success has turned into a dangerous obsession.

Equal parts academic thriller and poignant coming-of-age story, LIFE AFTER GENIUS follows the remarkable journey of a young man who must discover that the heart may know what the head hasn’t yet learned.

October 29th, 2008 the day that the
"Life After Genius" Blog Tour touches down here at Books by TJ Baff and all these participating Blogs:

A Bookworm's World
Bermudaonion's Weblog
Booking Mama
Library Queue
Marjolein Book Blog
The Book Nest
Seaside Book Worm Blogger
Linus's Blanket
Diary of an Eccentric
Savvy Verse and Wit
The Optimistic Bookfool
The Printed Page
My Friend Amy
Shooting Stars Mag
Books, Pungs, and More
A Novel Menagerie
The Tome Traveller's Weblog
The Official Chikune Website
Book Critiques
B & b ex libris
Sharon Loves Books and Cats
At Home With Books

Don't miss it....mark your calendars!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Through Black Spruce by Joseph Boyden

Obtained through Mini Book Expo

Published:September 9, 2008 Publisher:Penguin Group Canada From the Publisher From internationally acclaimed author Joseph Boyden comes an astonishingly powerful novel of contemporary aboriginal life, full of the dangers and harsh beauty of both forest and city. When beautiful Suzanne Bird disappears, her sister Annie, a loner and hunter, is compelled to search for her, leaving behind their uncle Will, a man haunted by loss. While Annie travels from Toronto to New York, from modelling studios to A-list parties,Will encounters dire troubles at home. Both eventually come to painful discoveries about the inescapable ties of family. Through Black Spruce is an utterly unforgettable consideration of how we discover who we really are. About the Author Joseph Boyden is a Canadian with Irish, Scottish, and M├ętis roots. Three Day Road has received the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize and the McNally Robinson Aboriginal Book of the Year Award and has also been shortlisted for the Governor General Award for Fiction and published in 10 languages. He divides his time between Northern Ontario and Louisiana, where he teaches writing at the University of New Orleans.

The novel Through Black Spruce is written by alternating chapters between Annie Bird's story, a somewhat confused loner and niece to, Will Bird, bush pilot, who lies in a coma in a hospital bed.
Annie shares her story, while seated at her uncle's bedside, about the search for her sister in the international modelling world, in an effort to interest her uncle enough in the day to day troubles that he will awaken from his coma.
Will's voice comprises the alternate chapters about his recollections of events leading up to the beating that leads him to the coma. Both stories culminate in a shared climax that has it's roots in the same sequence of events.
I loved this book. I found the style of writing easy to read and it flowed. The characters were well developed and through the tale there was shown to be a growth period for both of the main protagonists. The sequence of events leading to the climax made sense and was well planned and executed and the overwhelming theme of family was well described.
I left this book after the closing of the last page feeling as if I had read an authentic tale relating problems experienced by a few aboriginals in their native northlands and how they are fighting the the same fight of drug related gangs and violence that we are further south. Their success in this fight also depends on the few who stand up against this oppression and fight back.
A timely tale.
5 out of 5 stars.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Mighty Queens of Freeville by Amy Dickinson

Five years ago, after an exhaustive countrywide search, the Chicago Tribune announced Amy Dickinson as the next Ann Landers. They wanted a contemporary voice and they found it. Bracingly witty and honest, Amy’s voice is more Nora Ephron than Dear Abby. Readers love her for her brutal honesty, her small-town values, and for the fact that her motto is "I make the mistakes so you don’t have to." Her advice column, "Ask Amy," appears daily in more than 150 newspapers nationwide, read by more than 22 million readers.

In The Mighty Queens of Freeville, Amy Dickinson takes those mistakes and spins them into a remarkable story. This is the tale of Amy and her daughter and the women in her family who helped raise them after Amy’s husband abruptly left. It is a story of frequent failures and surprising successes, as Amy starts and loses careers, bumbles through blind dates and adult education classes, travels across country with her daughter and their giant tabby cat, and tries to come to terms with the family’s aptitude for "dorkitude." Though they live in London, D.C., and Chicago, all roads lead them back to her original hometown of Freeville (pop. 458), a tiny upstate village where Amy’s family has tilled and cultivated the land, tended chickens and Holsteins, and built houses and backyard sheds for over 200 years. Most important though, her family has made more family there, and they all still live in a ten-house radius of each other. With kindness and razor-sharp wit, they welcome Amy and her daughter back weekend after weekend, summer after summer, offering a moving testament to the many women who have led small lives of great consequence in a tiny place.

About Amy Dickinson:
Amy Dickinson is the author of the syndicated advice column "Ask Amy," which appears in more than 150 newspapers nationwide, and the host of a biweekly feature on NPR’s "Talk of the Nation." Formerly a columnist for Time magazine, she lives in Chicago.

I signed up for the Barnes and Noble First Look Club and was absolutely thrilled to receive this book. The rules of the club are that you post under their question headings and follow along chapter by chapter so as not to post spoilers of upcoming chapters. I have been sick since the book discussion started but will start posting soon.
I enjoyed the book but I wasn't overly enthused about it. The way that Amy wrote her story made her a very likeable person and someone who I would like to know... but the stories themselves were not so inspiring. I found her narrative of the events in her life to be quite scattered...nothing seemed to flow from one chapter to another and aside from how her life mirrored her mother' did that make her a "Mighty Queen"?
I believe that all single mothers doing their best and striving for the best life for their families are Mighty Queens but I don't believe that the women that Amy Dickinson portrayed in this memoir are shown to be Mighty Queens even if they are so in real life...not enough evidence.
Of course...this is just my humble opinion and the book was a pleasant read just not fleshed out enough for me.
3 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Reading Now: Reviews Coming

I feel like I have been missing in action lately as I haven't posted anything in well over a week but frankly...I have been sick.
Not the kind of sick where you are puking your guts up every half hour even though I was still making frequent calls to the B/R...hee hee....but the miserable, ache, dry cough, drippy nose, lose your voice, suffer in silence and still go to work...sick.
But I have been reading so there will be reviews to come.
The books....

The Might Queens of Freeville by
by Amy Dickinson
Life After Genius by M. Ann Jacoby
Through Black Spruce by Joseph Boyden

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Menagerie’s Halloween Haunt

Come on out to a great contest over at A Novel Menagerie>>>>>>>
Click here...
Menagerie's Halloween Haunt

Oh, My Friends….

The Time is Near….

When Gouls, Goblins & Horrors Appear!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Happy Birthday Cliff Richard

The Dragonfly Secret by Clea and John Adams

The Dragonfly Secret by Clea and John Adams
illustrated by Barbara L. Gibson
Hardcover, 32 pages, First Edition
Ages 8 to Adult

The Dragonfly Secret
A Story of Boundless Love
• A heartwarming story for family members who have lost a loved one
• A companion book to The Dragonfly Door

I received this book through Bostick Communications and the authors because I requested it. I have a particular reason for being interested in reading and reviewing this book…I was curious about it’s validity with a child’s grief as my daughter is experiencing her own grief about the death of her brother. The book may be too young for her-she is 14-but I knew that she could and would give me an unbiased opinion.
The book had gone astray through the champion efforts of our Canadian postal service and when I finally took possession of it…my daughter took the first look. All was quiet for about 15 minutes and then she looked up and told me how sweet the book was and she thought that it would really help some younger kids. I fully intend to donate this book to our local chapter of Bereaved Families of Ontario and I hope that it WILL indeed help another child going through a similar loss.
I looked through the book and enjoyed the beautiful story and illustrations myself. The story was particularly poignant and I even shed a few tears when I reached the end of the book. I found the image of the dragonfly to be very appropriate for a child’s grief but it also wasn’t too sweet. As a grieving mother who is always looking for answers to my own grief there is a distinct lack of books and resources to help us that aren’t too sickly sweet and cute. The last thing that I would want is to view my son’s death in a cutesy fashion.
5 out of 5 stars
Thank you… Clea and John Adams.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry


Every gift has a price...
Every piece of lace has a secret...

My name is Towner Whitney, no, that's not exactly true. My real first name is Sophya. Never believe me. I lie all the time...

Towner Whitney, the self-confessed unreliable narrator of The Lace Reader, hails from a family of Salem women who can read the future in the patterns in lace, and who have guarded a history of secrets going back generations, but the disappearance of two women brings Towner home to Salem and the truth about the death of her twin sister to light. The Lace Reader is a mesmerizing, tale which spirals into a world of secrets, confused identities, lies and half-truths where the reader quickly finds it's nearly impossible to separate fact from fiction, but as Towner Whitney points out early on in the novel, "There are no accidents.

I received my copy of this book through the Harper/Collins Reading group courtesy of Deanna Mcfadden.
Throughout the book there is a feeling of impending doom that seems to escalate as you traverse the steep slopes of Towner's memories and her life. She remembers so little of her life and seems to have substituted made up memories and dream recollections for the real ones.
All of Salem views her as crazy and in fact she was an inmate of a mental asylum after her twin sister's suicide when they were teenagers. All the women in the Whitney family have been viewed as witches for many generations because of their skill in reading lace.
I found so much of Towner's story to be alien to me starting right where her twin sister was raised by her aunt instead of their mother as Towner and her brother were. Her twin sister Lyndley would come for a visit every summer with her parents and the kids would bond and Lyndley would run half wild, free of any restrictions.
Many years have passed since Lyndley's suicide and Towner returns to Salem because her grandmother Eva has been reported missing. Eva...although her grandfather's second wife, has always been the glue that bound the Whitney family together and Towner was devastated by her disappearance but she also felt compelled to return to Salem for the first time since she had moved away.
Her sister's adopted father Cal is also living in Salem and running a ragtag group of religious fanatics and he spends his life "saving" those whose souls have lost their way.
As the novel picks up in speed there is a tremendous sence of urgency and tension and you are just waiting for a confrontation between Towner and her uncle know it is coming. There has to be a reason that Lyndley was scared of her father and Towner was ready to face her sister's demons and her own.
I enjoyed this book and the story but the plot wasn't as fleshed out as I would have wished it to be. There is so much backstory to this book that I would have enjoyed more of that in the plot rather than just from a few of Towner's memories.
I still rate this a 4 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Massive book Giveaway

Congratulations to Devourer of Books for posting her 100th review.
She is hosting a massive book giveaway there which ends on Wednesday October 15th.

Click here

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

Product Description

(When you loved the one who was killing you, it left you no options. How could you run, how could you fight, when doing so would hurt that beloved one? If your life was all you had to give, how could you not give it? If it was someone you truly loved?
To be irrevocably in love with a vampire is both fantasy and nightmare woven into a dangerously heightened reality for Bella Swan. Pulled in one direction by her intense passion for Edward Cullen, and in another by her profound connection to werewolf Jacob Black, a tumultuous year of temptation, loss, and strife have led her to the ultimate turning point. Her imminent choice to either join the dark but seductive world of immortals or to pursue a fully human life has become the thread from which the fates of two tribes hangs.
Now that Bella has made her decision, a startling chain of unprecedented events is about to unfold with potentially devastating, and unfathomable, consequences. Just when the frayed strands of Bella's life-first discovered in Twilight, then scattered and torn in New Moon and Eclipse-seem ready to heal and knit together, could they be destroyed... forever?
The astonishing, breathlessly anticipated conclusion to the Twilight Saga, Breaking Dawn illuminates the secrets and mysteries of this spellbinding romantic epic that has entranced millions)

Ever since the launch of this book I have heard the controversy. Some camps decry Bella's lack of independent thought and actions...others feel that this book is a fitting end to the Cullins' story.
From the first page into this fourth 'chapter' in Bella Swan's life I was spellbound. I found the continuation of the story to be every bit as satisfying as all the three works before it and I loved all the characters.
I am not of the teenage girl demographic that this story was written for but I had heard all the hype surrounding the story and I had wondered about it. I have the enviable position of working in a high school and I can borrow the books from it's library. This often works in my favour as it tends to be easier to get my hands on a copy of a book here than the public library-less people to compete against. Last year I borrowed all three of the previous Twilight books and devoured them.
I must admit that the furor over the launch of this book made me even more curious and eager to read this last book but because of it I was prepared to be more critical of the final work. I had no reason to be hesitant at all. Breaking Dawn fulfilled all of my expectations and more.
Why is everybody so upset about it?
I understand that Bella made the choices that she did but I am confused as to why her choices are considered to be anachronistic. Since when has pledging yourself to someone you love and marrying them seen to be an anachronism? Bella proves everyday in this book how her choices continue to make her a stronger woman and at no time is she ever pressured into fact the opposite is true. She forces her will upon Edward and the rest of her new family.. She doesn't sacrifice her own wants and needs for anybody else. This life that she has chosen is the life that she wants.
I admit to being surprised by some of the story but I embraced all made sense to me. Stephenie Meyer created an incredible fantasy world and she set the parameters of this world.
I may be an eclectic reader in my tastes but I am still a discerning reader and I was wholly satisfied.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Made From the World Trade Center

I may not be American but the day when the world was transfixed by this awful terrorist attack and stopped us all feeling burned into my memories.
I couldn't believe what I was seeing.
It is only fitting that something useful and good should come from the remains of the buildings.

Here SHE is, the USS New York, made from the World Trade Center !

USS New York

It was built with 24 tons of scrap steel from the World Trade Center .

It is the fifth in a new class of warship - designed for missions that include special operations against terrorists. It will carry a crew of 360 sailors and 700 combat-ready Marines to be delivered ashore by helicopters and assault craft.

Steel from the World Trade Center was melted down in a foundry in Amite , LA to cast the ship's bow section. When it was poured into the molds on Sept 9, 2003, 'those big rough steelworkers treated it with total reverence,' recalled Navy Capt. Kevin Wensing, who was there. 'It was a spiritual moment for everybody there.'

Junior Chavers, foundry operations manager, said that when the trade center steel first arrived, he touched it with his hand and the 'hair on my neck stood up.' 'It had a big meaning to it for all of us,' he said. 'They knocked us down. They can't keep us down. We're going to be back.'

The ship's motto? 'Never Forget'

Please keep this going so everyone can see what we are made of in this country!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Gate House by Nelson DeMille

I had never read any other books by Nelson DeMille so I had no warning about what was to come. Certainly his style of writing breathes life into and embodies all that is sarcastic in a protagonist and that fitted John Sutter to a T. I found John's sarcasm to be very difficult to relate to and his snideness made me feel less than sympathetic about the past events in his life. Frankly, in many ways, I am surprised that John ever had a family or friends to come back to. This book wraps up the story of the characters begun in the novel "The Gold Coast".
The book takes place on the Gold Coast on the eastern seaboard of America in the aftermath of 9/11. I only mention this because it is spoken about frequently in the book as it pertains to the changes in people's consciousness about their invincibility or lack thereof.
John has returned from London, where he has been practising law since he returned from his 3 year adventure sailing around the world. He left his home and family originally when his wife shot her lover Frank Bellarosa, a mafia don, who was testifying for the FBI. The subsequent fallout of notoriety and tabloid fame created a monster that John needed to escape from.
John returns because an old family retainer of his exwife's family, the Stanhopes, is on her deathbed and as her executor he is needed. He takes up residence in the gate house of the old family estate and is disconcerted to find that the son of the old mafia don has moved into the new housing complex that was built on the grounds of Bellarosa's estate. John knows that the son bears his exwife Susan ill will and he is worried about her despite himself. John has had very little contact with his exwife but he needs to impress upon her the seriousness of this situation but also protect himself from further reprisal.
None of the characters were very likable people throughout the entire story but I still became invested in their eventual success and the conclusion was satisfying. Despite myself, I enjoyed this novel as it appealed to the inner secret tabloid reader in me but I found the book to be too long. Reminded me of reading Harold Robbins' books in my teens.

Friday, October 3, 2008

My Library (Tongue in Cheek)

As I was cruising blogs today...I noticed on the blog of B&b ex libris pictures of their library and thought I would do the same. I had to take about 10 pictures off the shelves though and dust....too bad I didn't get around to actually organizing the books! hee hee
Of course this doesn`t take into account all the books in the spare room and M`s room...let alone those sitting on my bedside table.:)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

'My Daughter's Creativity' or 'Cat Torture'

been sick

I looked over my blog today and realized that I haven't posted anything since September 25th. I have had some weird virus thing and I am sleeping all the time and haven't made it into work. Damn...there goes the salary.
I have been reading I think that you would have to gouge my eyes out for me to stop....but I am only getting through a couple of pages at a time. That totally the vernacular of my grade 9 daughter!!!!
All of last weekend I was hooked up to a Holter monitor. Now THAT was a fun experience!
Reading: "Gate House" by Nelson DeMille
Books waiting: "The Lace Reader" by Brunonia Barry