Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Whale Song by Cheryl Kaye Tardif

Title: Whale Song

Author: Cheryl Kaye Tardif

Genre: YA fiction

Summary: Eleven year old Sarah moves to Canada with her parents when her father accepts a post to study whales off the coastline. Even though she leaves everything behind, Sarah discovers that life can become complicated in a heartbeat. Or in the absence of one.

The Take-Away: One of the very charming aspects of Tardif's tale are the Eskimo stories that are woven naturally into the narrative. Sarah learns many of them from her new best friend's grandmother. Every one holds a lesson about life, but Sarah and Goldie love them for the adventure and strength of the characters. Sarah draws on this strength when her father is forced to decide whether or not to fulfill her mother's wishes: Don't let her live through the assistance of a machine.

While this aspect of the book is the focus of the marketing, really, it's not until the end that the reason for it becomes apparent. Many of the challenges Sarah developed as much of her character. Sarah is one of the only white children in her new hometown and is subjected to racism. One classmate has a father who physically and mentally abuses her.

The narrative does flow Sarah into adulthood. The story didn't give enough time to show her grow and change her voice, however. The same girl tells every aspect of the story, even though the initial narrative is told from the eleven-year-old's point of view. I also felt that more time could have been spent developing the historic setting. After all, assisted suicide is controversial today; in 1977 it would have been explosive. Sarah withdraws into herself, and little interaction between her and the rest of the town is relayed. Understandably, Sarah draws on the same artistic bent that was her mother's livelihood.

Recommendation: It's a tough topic that is handled well. Definitely read it with your child.

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Monday, August 20, 2007

Assisted Suicide

Not the sort of thing you'd expect to see on my blog, huh? Tomorrow's book review covers this topic, however. Cheryl was gracious enough to provide a bio and I thought it would be a great to for my readers to get a sneak peek of tomorrow's controversial review.

Cheryl Kaye Tardif is the author of the 2007 bestselling, controversial, assisted suicide novel Whale Song. Booklist calls Whale Song “moving…perennially crowd-pleasing…sweet and sad”. Booklist raves, “Tardif, already a big hit in Canada…a name to reckon with south of the border”.

She is also the author of the 2005 action-packed conspiracy thriller The River--a “mile-a-minute pot-boiler myster[y]”, says the Edmonton Sun. The River is both thought provoking and terrifying. It is based loosely on legends about the Nahanni River area of Canada’s Northwest Territories, legends of headless corpses washing up on its shores. This area has often been called the ‘Bermuda Triangle of Canada’.

Her 2004 “sizzling psychic suspense” novel Divine Intervention is a thriller about a group of psychic government agents and their search for a deadly serial arsonist who is leaving behind a burning trail of corpses. This novel has been compared to shows like ‘Medium’ and ‘CSI’, and novels by Kay Hooper and J.D. Robb.

Cheryl has also had numerous short stories, articles and poetry published over the years, although her main passion is fiction with a twist of mystery, suspense or horror. All of her novels to date―Whale Song, in particular―have received inquiries from the film industry, including Hollywood interest.

Cheryl Kaye Tardif currently lives in Edmonton, Alberta, with her husband and daughter, and is working on three new novels of suspense. When asked about her work, she enjoys telling people, “I’m busy killing people off. You could call me a serial killer. But remember…I write suspense fiction.’ 

Tomorrow...my thoughts on the book.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Bookworm Report, July 2007

This was a banner month of reading for me. The best, in fact, that I've had since I've been married. I can explain this anomaly, though.

Bookworm Review
Year Pages Books
2001 2,795 7
2002 2,439 6
2003 1,222 3
2004 2,006 5
2005 4,216 11
2006 4,216 11
2007 8,601 17

  • Judge & Jury by James Patterson
  • The Killing Hour by Lisa Gardner
  • Damsel Under Stress by Shanna Swendson
  • Simple Genius by David Baldacci
  • Leven Thumps and the Gateway to Foo by Obert Skye
  • The Bible by Various
  • Storm Front by Jim Butcher
  • The Pact by Jodi Picoult
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
  • Fool Moon by Jim Butcher
  • Solomon vs. Lord by Paul Levine
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
  • Grave Peril by Jim Butcher
  • See No Evil by Allison Brennan
  • Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
  • Thursday Next: First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde

For the year, I've read 97 books, or 37,150 pages, which averages to 12 books a month, or 4,644 pages per month, and an average book length of 383 pages.

Just a note, this month was a wrap up month for me. I wrapped up reading the Bible, Mansfield Park, The Pact and Judge & Jury, while two of the three Harry Potter books were re-reads. In other words, the anomaly can be explained.

But I can't promise that it won't happen again. I'm not anticipating a paradigm shift, but one never knows.