Sep 29, 2010

W.W.W. Wednesdays

To play along, simply answer these three questions:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What are you planning to read next?

My responses:

What are you currently reading? Although I don't make a habit of it, I'm reading two books right now. The first is FINDING NOUF by Zoe Ferraris. I've wanted to read this since it first came out and now that the follow-up, CITY OF VEILS is out, I need to get busy! Also, my aunt (the only other reader in the family) is reading it with me. The other book is UP FROM THE BLUE by Susan Henderson. I just added it to my Kindle last night so I haven't actually started reading yet but plan to today.

What did you recently finish reading? Recently I finished STILTSVILLE, a debut novel by Susanna Daniiel [Review Here] and FORGIVING TROY, a compelling memoir by Thom Bierdz [Review Here].

What are you planning to read next? Next up for me is FALLING HOME by Karen White. I'm a huge fan of her work and I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy of this one that is due out in November.

To find out what books other readers are enjoying, visit MizB at Should Be Reading for more answers to W.W.W. Wednesdays.

Sep 26, 2010

[TSS] Forgiving Troy by Thom Bierdz

The complete title of this hauntingly sad memoir is FORGIVING TROY - A True Story of Murder, Mental Illness, and Recovery. It is written by Thom Bierdz, an actor/artist who I first came to know through the very popular daytime soap The Young & the Restless back in the mid 1980's.

In this compelling book, Thom tells how he and his family cope with the death of their mother, Phyllis, in 1989 at the hands of their brother Troy. Troy is the youngest of four siblings in the Bierdz family living in Kenosha, Wisconsin. He always required more attention than the other three children and by the time he reached his teens, it became a more serious problem for Phylis, who was a single mother after her husband walked away from the marriage years earlier without looking back.

With Thom living in Los Angeles, following his dreams of acting and painting, brother Gregg away at college and sister Hope married and focusing on her own family, Phylis was left to handle Troy the best she knew how. Over time Troy became increasingly agitated and even violent and ended up in trouble with the law. Though he was sentenced to various facilities, he always escaped and in the process attacked innocent employees, doctors and nurses. But the court system seemed not to offer much help because more and more the very facilities that could possibly help Troy refused to accept him because of his violent tendencies. With Troy becoming more secretive and angry, Phylis discovered frightening things about her 'miracle baby'. His anger towards Thom was evident in drawings her made depicting how he planned to kill his openly gay, famous oldest brother.

Then on July 14, 1989, Thom got the call that changed his family forever. Troy had beaten their mother to death with a baseball bat and all indications were that he was on his way to California to kill Thom next.

What follows in the pages of this unforgettable memoir is how the Bierdz family, each in their own way, deals with the devastating truth about Troy and that he took their mother's life seemingly at first, with little remorse. Thom Bierdz writes an amazingly honest and gut-wrenching account of the days and years that follow. Thom's fight with his own demons are a huge part of the story and in the end, helps him to understand and even try to forgive Troy not always with his sibling's support. Through all the years of coping and coming to terms, Thom struggles to deal with his own psyche - insomnia, his sexuality, his shame in his own violent tendencies, his inability to function in social settings and fear of the spotlight all fill his mind and make him question if he and Troy are, in fact, similar. Unfortunately, the tragedy of the Bierdz family doesn't end with Troy. The book, however, does end on a promising note and proves that unconditional love does exist even in the worst of circumstances.

My thoughts:

Once I started reading this book, I simply could not put it down. Not only did my heart break for Thom and his family, I became frustratingly annoyed by the judicial system with respect to people with mental disease. Troy was fortunate to have a brother as vigilant, loving and strong as Thom to be able to put aside his own grief to help his brother.

Not only is this a fascinating story, but the way the book is laid out is impressive. The chapters highlight important events in his family's life and takes the reader masterfully through the years following the crime. The book also includes many pictures of Thom's paintings that are impressive yet daunting. It's no wonder he has received such accolades and praise.

I'd like to thank Thom Bierdz for sending me this book that will resonate with me for quite some time. I've been a fan of his work on Y & R for years, but now having read his book, I have a whole new respect for him. I encourage you to pick up this book if you're looking for a true account of unconditional love. This book is available at

Author: Thom Bierdz
Publisher: Tom Bierdz, Inc.
Published: 2009
Pages: 288
Grade: A+

Sep 23, 2010

Booking Through Thursday: Current Reads

It certainly has been awhile since I've participated in Booking Through Thursday and I must say, I've missed it and its good to be back!

This week's topic is about current reads. Here are the questions:

What are you currently reading? What made you choose it? Are you enjoying it? and Would you recommend it?

My responses:

Right now I'm reading a non-fiction book called FORGIVING TROY: A TRUE STORY OF MURDER, MENTAL ILLNESS, AND RECOVERY by Thom Bierdz. There are a few reasons I chose this book. Initially it was because I received a request from the author to send me a copy for review. Secondly, the author is an actor on the very popular soap opera, The Young & the Restless, which I have watched for many years, so I was familiar with who he was. Thirdly, I was intrigued by the mental illness aspect of the story and was curious to see how it played out. To say I'm enjoying this type of book sounds odd, but yes, it is an extremely insightful, interesting yet heartbreaking story that I am glad I chose to read. I would definitely recommend this book to other readers, especially those who have an interest in mental illness and subsequently, the judicial system with regard to dealing with these cases.

Click here for more Booking Through Thursday posts to see what books people are reading and why.

Sep 20, 2010

Stiltsville by Susanna Daniel

Frances Ellerby is twenty-six the first time she travels to Miami from her home in Atlanta for a friend's wedding. It is 1969 and summer is in full swing. When she accepts an invitation from Marse, a new friend she met at the wedding, to spend a day at a place called Stiltsville, she had no idea how her life was about to change.

Frances learnss that Stiltsville is a group of several houses built on pilings in Biscayne Bay that is accessible only by boat and that is where Frances would meet her future husband, Dennis DuVal. His family owns one of the stilthouses and Frances falls in love with its quiet beauty.The attraction between Frances and Dennis is obvious and Frances soon relocates to Miami and within a year they wed. They spend a lot of time at Stiltsville and Frances quickly adapts to the easy way of life that living in Miami offers. Through the years we follow Frances as her life with Dennis takes many turns: the birth of their daughter, Margo, hurricanes and illness, all play big roles in their life together. As she gets older, Frances recalls moments that changed and defined her life. Stiltsville is a place that is special to this family and represents a way of life that not many people are fortunate enough to experience. For them, it is a symbol of family

My thoughts:

STILTSVILLE is a great summer read. I live in Florida and it made me want to jump in the car and head south to Biscayne Bay to a stilthouse on the water. I could almost feel the calmness and quiet of the waves lapping gently against the pilings and feel the warmth of the sun beating on me through Daniel's writing. The story is told not in chapters but in sequences of time, representing important events in her life. Frances tells the story in a way that even though a lot of time is covered, it didn't get bogged down and moved along nicely. There were, however, a few times when the flashbacks were a bit long and I forgot the point the author was trying to make by sharing the memory in the first place. That said, it is an engrossing story that is very believable and well written.

The characters Daniel used are all very original and likable, although I never felt a closeness to Frances that I thought would develop through the book. She is a very nice lady who loves her family dearly, but I found her to be a bit standoffish, even cold at times. That's not to say I didn't like her because I did. I just didn't find her overly warm. And even though her relationship with her son-in-law was strained, I appreciated that she recognized his important role in the family and how much he helped out when needed. I really liked her relationship with Marse through the years and was glad their friendship withstood the test of time. Another favorite character was Bette, her sister-in-law. I was sad when she made the decision to move away from Miami with her partner.

Having lived in Florida for most of my life, many of the events Ms. Daniel mentioned in the book were very familiar to me, especially the student murders in Gainesville in 1990 and Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Gainesville is only 30 minutes from my home and I remember the fear that ran through the community while the murderer was being sought. She portrayed that event with great accuracy without it overtaking the story she was telling.

STILTSVILLE is very good womens fiction and tells a great story about love and family with loss and perseverance. It's a great first novel and I look forward to future books from her. Visit Susanna Daniel's website to learn more about the author, her book and to see some great photos of real stilthouses. Be sure to check out TLC Book Tours for more tour dates through October 11th.

I'd like to thank Lisa at TLC Book Tours and Harper Publishing for the opportunity to participate in this tour and for introducing me to such a promising new author. I recommend this book but will warn you - it will leave you yearning for the beach!

Author: Susanna Daniel
Publisher: Harper
Published: August 2010
Pages 320