Monday, January 31, 2005

I think I am beginning to thaw out a bit. We had a wicked cold snap come through the islands this weekend - wind, rain, and just plain cold temperatures for the islands. As the wind was moving our chairs around on the balcony I looked down at the sailboats in the marina and was not the least bit envious of those people who live on their boats. BRRR!

We did make a run into town on Saturday before the rain hit to check out the couple of small furniture stores in the Fortress Storage place. Stores open up in the strangest locations down here. Most of the furniture you find is either wicker or heavy dark woods. We have wicker now and I am not crazy about it and I don't like the dark woods. I like the clean lines of Scandinavian style furniture with the light wood. Oh well, we will keep looking.

But, I did have my first infamous Shipwreck burger at the Shipwreck Tavern, right across the street from Havensight, where the cruise ships dock. Even though it is in a touristy area lots of locals hang out there because the enormous yummy burgers. Oh yeah - I do think the pool tables and casino type poker machines have something to do with the appeal too. :-) Steve and I split a burger since they are so big. We also played the trivia bar game while we waited for our food - we have to play together as one player since I get too competitive otherwise. :-/

There is an ongoing conversation about book covers on YALSA-BK that is very interesting. I was adding some of Dickinson's older titles to my booktalking book as suggested similar titles and I thought of the cover of my favorite book of Dickinson's - Eva. I used to have it as required reading for my YA lit. students and it always resulted in very interesting class discussions about medical ethics. But, I do think the cover on the paperback is wonderful. The haunting blue eyes on the bottom of the cover topped by a "memory" of dark trees. I know it is a "memory" because I have read the book, but what does the teen reader think who sees it for the first time? The response to a cover is very individual, based on prior knowledge and just plain old likes and dislikes. It is said that you can't judge a book by its cover but it really is too bad we don't have the space in libraries to do more bookstore like displays, covers out, to attract teens.

Okay - back to editing. I am nearing the end. I've been at it since 7:30 this a.m. Took a break to blog - needed it. I was getting cross-eyed!

Friday, January 28, 2005

Bummer - the last day of my "free" week before I start working a part-time contract at the VI Montessori School and I couldn't sleep in! I was up before Steve left for work and he asked me if I wanted the car. I said no as I would have gone wandering instead of finishing up the editing I need to do. Not sure what I am getting myself into with the school library, but it should be fun. It is just through the end of the school year. Will get me out of this apt. office anyway.

Since I was up so early I laid in bed and finished Sharon G. Flake's Who Am I Without Him? Wow! She sure didn't pull any punches about how teenage boys and girls view each other. It hurt to read "So I Ain't No Good Girl" - she encourages his abusive behavior - it's all she knows. Had to chuckle over "Mookie in Love" and how all the women in the family dote on him until he wisely brings a baby boy into the family scene so he can have time with his girlfriend - a girl the women don't approve of cause all her family has is girl babies. My favorite of the short stories is "Jacob's Rules". All teenagers, and lots of adults, could learn from taking Jacob's class called BOY STUFF. Brandon has some heavy duty thinking to do when what he thinks is true is turned upside down when he is paired with the "ugly jock girl" in class. And, I would like to pass out copies of "A Letter to My Daughter" to every freshman girl - actually, more like 7th grade girl in this day and age. This daddy pulls no punches about what a guy wants from a girl and it isn't her mind. This is a "gotta have" and is more than deserving of the Coretta Scott King Honor it received.

Back to the editing. Hard to do when the sun is shining on the ocean, making it look like it is covered with sparkling diamonds. Good darn thing I don't have the car today!

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Hi All. My right wrist has click-itis! Right now HighBeam Research has free access to all of their full text material. I have a free membership, but you normally have to pay the upgrade to save the full text articles - otherwise you just get the citations. So I have been busy saving YA Lit related articles to my file. Was up until midnight last night - clicking away! My wrist and arm are sore but I will keep at it as the freebie ends tomorrow. If you have time go check out and take advantage of their resources. They have some esoteric full text articles I don't find in other databases.

I was reading posts on one of the listservs, I think YALSA-BK, and they were talking about how teens love the CSI series. My daughter is fascinated by this stuff too, but she is a surgical technician so that makes sense. I got to hear all about the first open heart surgery she watched - GROSS!! Anyway, recommend Last Breath by Christopher Golden and Rick Hautala (a good Finn name!) to those CSI watchers. This is part of the Body of Evidence thriller series. There are 7 other titles in the series, with titles like Body Bags - that one should get the attention of even the most reluctant reader.

Jenna is a Freshman college student who works as a diener - pathology assistant - in the county medical examiner's office. She gets way too involved in how the bodies on the slab got there, to the point that she becomes the target for the serial killer in this thriller. She also has the hots for an older cop so there is a bit of romance in there too, but no steamy sex scenes, just gruesome autopsy scenes. Jenna is such a likeable character that the reader can't help but shake their head, knowing full well that she is going to put herself into danger trying to figure out the case. She is born for this profession. Wonderful gruesome read.

Nose back to the manuscript editing grindstone for me.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Good morning all. Another breezy cool day down here. Took Steve to work yesterday so I could have the car. Hope he buys some kind of clunker to drive soon so I can have my car back. I gave up on trying to keep it neat. He seems to think the floor in the back seat is a trash can for his junk mail. GRRR!! Listened to more of The Red Tent while I was out and about. It is not an easy one to listen to in mixed company. I don't even try with Steve in the car anymore since what goes on in the Red Tent and in the marriage bed is talked about in such detail that Steve's ears go red within minutes. It is not one I would give to teens - very much an adult woman's book.

If you have read Oppell's Airborn you know that it includes pirates that take over the airship. I was telling Steve a bit about it on the way to town yesterday and he asked me if it was rated "ARRR!!" A bit of pirate humor there. It was too early in the a.m. for me to be highly amused!

Since I had been reading so many fantasy titles, many with a "witchy" element, I decided to expand my reading horizons and picked up a historical romance, Spirited by Nancy Holder. It is one of the Simon Pulse books and typically I really like these. A bit "outside of the box," just like me. :-)

Since Holder is the coauthor of the Wicked series I should have known there would be some magic/mysticism. There is, but what a great G-rated "bodice ripper" - you know, the kind with Fabio on the front and lots of heaving bosoms. There are western versions of these too - fondly referred to as "Wrangler rippers." Naive but feisty Isabella joins her father on a journey through Indian country to one of the British forts. They are ambushed by a group of Mohican type Indians and Isabella becomes the slave of Wusamequin, the young handsome medicine man. You know - washboard abs and rippling biceps. :-) As every romance reader knows - they initially hate each other even though they are physically attracted, and then they fall in love. Sure, it is a "typical" historical romance in some ways, but add the mystical journeys they take together and you can also booktalk this one to the girls who only want books with a supernatual element to them. It is delightful reading romp - a Beauty and the Beast tale with Native American flavor.

All for now.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Very slow Internet connection today. I am getting up and doing things around my office while pages load. I have the patience of a gnat! I get teased down here because I have yet to develop the laid back island approach to life. I still expect things to happen in a timely fashion. We went down to our favorite little marina bar/restaurant Saturday night. Got there at 7 p.m. - got our first drink at 7:30, menus around 8, and then gave up around 8:30 and came home and heated up leftovers. I do have to give them a break though - new wait and kitchen staff and lots of boat people ordering dinner. We are locals - we come last in the chain of importance. :-)

When I looked at Kenneth Oppel's Airborn I was just not intrigued by the cover and 355 pages didn't call to me. Thanks to the Printz committee for honoring it - I decided I had to read it. I am glad I did. I have to admit I was not enamored by it for the first quarter of the book. I found the details about the airship itself a bit much, but once the adventure began when the pirates arrived I was enchanted. What happened to me is exactly what I warn my students about when they recommend fantasy to teen readers. Giving a thick fantasy read like Airborn to a reluctant reader is not a good idea. This book requires a reader willing to let the author take the time to set the scene so the adventure can begin. I reluctantly began this book, but I stuck it out and what a great swashbuckling adventure story. Matt is a delightful character, but I related more to the feisty Kate, bound and determined to prove her beloved dead grandfather is right. There are mysterious creatures (cloud cats is what she and Matt dub them) flying around the uncharted island he found while trying to circumvent the world in his hot air balloon. Kate would have been right there with him if her parents had allowed it. Her book learning vs. Matt's life experience make their trek into the jungle both hilarious and scary at the same time.

Even if you aren't a big fantasy reader - give this one a chance. It is worth the effort!

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Almost football time, but I still have a few minutes to blog. We are an hour later than Eastern time so all of our favorite shows, like Lost, are on fairly late. The VIs don't change time with the seasons so we go between one and two hours different.

Gorgeous sunny day again. Spent the a.m. cleaning house a bit as we have had a lot of gritty ash come in. One of volcanoes erupted down here and the ash made its way to us on the wind - weeks later!

There have been quite a few YA novels about immigrant families being published. Just finished reading the ARC for Fresh Off the Boat byMelissa De LA Cruz about a Filipino family who moved to the SF area from Manilla. Vicenza's parents were very wealthy restaurant and business owners who lost everything. They were starting over with nothing, but that isn't what V is telling her best friend back in Manilla. In her imaginary Email world V is the girlfriend of the hottest guy at her private school and is spending thousands on her imaginary charge cards. A very touching story of a family starting over, with hopes for a better life in the U.S.

All for now. Kick off!

Saturday, January 22, 2005

AH! Home sweet home! I am so glad to be back. A beautiful sunny Saturday here on St. Thomas. Steve says I brought the good weather home with me - not hardly, it was nasty rainy cold in Boston and then just plain cold in Houston. We just got back from a trip to "town" - Charlotte Amalie - to drop off laundry. I hope our next apt. has a washer and dryer hook-up. Water is a real issue on the East End of the island where we live. Lots of people end up buying water so few rental units have washers and dryers. Wish we had rented the place we initially looked at on the North Side as that part of the island get lots of rain so there was a washer and dryer hook-up. We drove up a side road on the way to town that looked like it might have promise of a rental with a great view, but when we saw the guy herding goats I said no way. We have them in this neighborhood and they are noisy little things.

Only two cruise ships in, but lots of BABS (big ass boats) along the wharf and in the marinas. The CEO of Oracle's BAB is docked at the marina where we ate lunch. Beautiful sleek boat. Steve and I love to boat watch and drool. Would have to win the lottery to afford one of them. Took a picture of the Lady Allison since that is our granddaughter's name.

I haven't read the Truesight Trilogy by David Stahler, Jr., but after reading the ARC for his newest YA novel - A Gathering of Shades - I certainly plan on. What a cool ghost story. Aidan's father had recently died in a car accident and his mom has moved them back to her childhood home in a remote area of Northern Vermont. They are living with his grandmother, Memere, who is certainly not like any grandmother I have ever met, in a run down old house. Memere goes for a stroll into the orchard each evening and Aidan follows her to discover she is "feeding" the shades - ghosts of the dead who have not gone to the other side yet. Their shadowy forms fill in a bit as they drink the creek water flavored with a few drops of her blood. It isn't long before Aidan becomes angry because his father never shows up with the shades. His first glimpse is of his father as a shade in his child form. His father's shade ages as Aidan seeks and sometimes finds him, but Aidan is not able to catch up with his father as he wanders through the hills he left behind years before. Aidan's pain of letting go is so intense it makes your eyes smart with tears and your heart hurt.

Memere has given Aidan a copy of the Odyssey, which she has read many times through the years, and he begins to compare the events in his life with those of Odysseus and his son. I think the Odyssey is one of the greatest adventure stories every written, so if teens will pick it up after reading A Gathering of Shades I would be delighted. I hope librarians will share Stahler's books with the HS English teachers. Made me want to go back and read it again.

All for today.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Hello from Clear Lake, Texas - home of NASA and the University of Houston-Clear Lake. This may be Texas but I am freezing my bippy off! I am in the UHCL library with my leather jacket on and my wool scarf across my legs to help keep me warm. What is it about places that keep their air conditioning temp. so low that you form icicles on your nose? When I get home tomorrow night I am not going to complain about our lack of air conditioning - at least for a few days. :-)

I teach the first sessions of my 2 YA Literature courses tonight and then I head home tomorrow. Can't wait. I love being able to teach the online sessions in my shorts and t-shirt with a diet Coke next to me. It is too dang cold here to drink diet Coke - I am having withdrawal symptoms!

ALA Midwinter in Boston was wonderful. Got to sit in on the BBYA straw vote Friday night. What a well run committee with great members. I loved being on that committee (several years ago) - but talk about reading! The only place I didn't have a book was in the shower and I was contemplating how I could do that!

I was so pleased to see that how I live now (in lower case) by Meg Rosoff won the Printz award (best YA lit. of the previous year). I predicted that when I read the ARC almost a year ago and listed it as my prediction in a blog entry before I left for Midwinter. A unique book with a unique voice. And having terrorists invading England certainly has a contemporary "ring" to it.

I shame facedly admit I have not read the honor books. An order will go in to B&N for the ones I don't have as soon as I get home. I keep my copies of the Printz award books as I use them so much in booktalking sessions and at other workshops I do on YA lit.

Did pick up a bunch of ARCs (galleys) at Midwinter, but not as many as I would have liked to. My luggage is so heavy now I can barely get it into the trunk of the rental car. But, I have begun reading. I had to start Julia Hearn's The Minister's Daughter since I met Julia at Midwinter and she was such a delight to talk to. Our discussion of the book and the research she did to write it had me just waiting for a few hours to read in peace and quiet. I was actually disappointed we were landing in Dallas as I wanted to finish it on the plane. It isn't out until June 2005, but if you can get a copy, do so. What a well researched and well written story of a manipulative minister's daughter whose deception puts a naive young herbalist healer in great danger. Wonderful bits of piksy (may be spelled wrong - I don't have the book with me) and fairy magic as well as herb/nature based remedies and charms.

I'll write more about Midwinter and books when I get home. I have got to go find a cup of hot tea and then I am going sit in the car with the heat running for a bit. My nose is running it is so darn cold in here! BRRRRR!!!

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Home for a day! And what a beautiful breezy day it is. I ate breakfast while watching a gorgeous sailboat come into the marine below us. A great day for sailing. The Charlotte Amalie wharf area was lit up last night when Steve picked me up - lots of luxury yachts docked and one huge sailboat with lights all the way up the masts. Had the windows in the car open and breathed in the wonderful moist sea air and pretended I was out on that sailboat. :-)

Got back from North Carolina late last night. I spent two days in the Greensboro area and loved it. Had lunch with two really cool Library Science graduate students from the U of North Carolina at Greensboro. We ate at a little vegetarian restaurant on State Street - neat area and yummy food. I had "chicken" salad and, honestly, the tofu tasted like chicken. :-) State Street is a funky area within walking distance of campus. UNCG has such a neat campus, with a new student center and lots of other new buildings going up. But, there are still many of the older buildings on campus with lots of character. A very comfortable campus.

If you ever visit Greensboro, stay at the Biltmore Hotel downtown and eat at the Liberty Oak Restaurant across the street. The Biltmore is a delightful old hotel with charm to spare. I don't know what I loved more - the old caged elevator or the delightful four poster bed I slept in. Oh yes, can't forget the breakfast and newspaper delivered to your door in a basket each morning. And the food is to die for at the Liberty Oak Restaurant and the prices won't kill your wallet. The old downtown area is being renovated and I wanted to stay longer just to wander through the neat shops that are opening up.

While on the plane I did get some reading done. Loved Darlene Ryan's Rules for Life. Sixteen-year-old Izzy is perfectly content with life the way it is - she and her father are best friends who tell each other everything and she mothers her messed up older brother Jason. Mom died a few years ago and Izzy has a handwritten book of Mom's rules that she tries to live by while she is busy trying to control the lives of everyone around her, especially her dad. Her dad has the audacity to fall in love with a younger woman from work and they are getting married and a baby is on the way. As much as Izzy stonewalls the marriage idea, it happens anyway. And as much as she wants Jason to stay clean, he doesn't. And, as much as she doesn't want to care about the little sister who arrives too early and does not have the strength to survive, she does. And, as much as she wants to not like Ann, her new stepmom, it happens anyway. Izzy learns that bad and good things have a way of happening in life no matter how much you try to stop them.

Izzy will make you laugh and cry, mostly laugh when you read Mom's rules. My favorite is Rule #20: Chocolate chip cookies and good jewelry go with everything. Hmmm - may it is Rule #26: If duct tape won't fix it, chocolate will. They both have the world chocolate in them and that works for me. :-)

Okay, back to getting ready for the next trip! Off to ALA Midwinter in Boston tomorrow a.m. Exhibits here I come! :-)

Sunday, January 09, 2005

It is pouring outside and the mud filled rain water is rushing down the hillside between our building and one next door. Our neighbor had to shovel buckets of dirt off of the roof of his first story before he could start building the walls for the second story. I imagine there will be more mud to shovel away after this rain. We have been watching him build the walls for the second story out of concrete blocks. Down here the entire house is built out of concrete. Makes hanging anything on the walls a bit difficult. His house is so close to the one we live in that I can hear him clear his throat while he is working. We have big windows on that side of the apt. and certainly had to put curtains on them as one is above the kitchen sink and the other is above our bed. Privacy is not a big commodity since most of us don't have air conditioning and the windows are usually wide open.

I hope the rain stops by this afternoon. I am flying out around 5 p.m. on a small plane to Puerto Rico and then on to Charlotte, NC. The weather forecast indicates it is a lot nicer in NC than in the islands right now - at least it is sunny. Hopefully I will get there.

One of my favorite Canadian publishers is Orca. The Soundings series is great for reluctant readers. I am so glad to see a MS series for reluctant readers is coming soon. One of my favorite Orca titles is Holubitsky's Alone At Ninety Foot. Wonderful story about a young teen dealing with her mother's suicide. She goes out into the woods and sits near where her mother died. I was glad to see Orca kept the wonderful jacket illustration of a girl sitting on a rock with her arms wrapped around her knees for the paperback.

Now the cover on Carrie Mac's The Beckoners has less emotional impact before you read the book than after. The tops of a book of matches, deep red and ready to be stricken. And stricken they are, both matches and characters in this dark look at bullying and hazing at it's worst. As a new student Zoe has no idea how feared the girl gang, the Beckoners, are. They have pretty much free rein in the school to harass anyone they feel like, and April, referred to as Dog by most all the students, has been their main target for years. Other students stay away from her for fear they will come under the Beckoner's wrathful eye. Before she knows what has happened Zoe is initiated into the Beckoners by literally being branded. The hard part is getting out once she realizes the hell she has gotten herself into. This one is certainly going to be an entry in the 2nd edition of the HS version of Tantalizing Tidbits. Wow!

Need to finish packing. Will talk about what I read on the plane when I get back on Tuesday. Then Thursday it will be off to Boston for ALA. :-)

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Hi All. Just had my bowl of cereal out on the balcony watching some guys trying to get a stalled vehicle off of the road into the grocery story parking lot. This is one laid back island in most ways, but put a West Indian behind the wheel of a vehicle and he/she has the patience of a gnat. The horn becomes a weapon. The light has barely turned and at least two cars in the line are aggressively honking. And the honking is even worse if there is no way for you to get out of the way. And the bigger the vehicle the worse it is. The attitude seems to be - "get the heck out of my way or pay the price in damage to your vehicle." Now granted, there is the very polite honking that occurs, like when you let someone out in front of you in traffic, or on a blind curve. That honking I don't mind at all, but I sure would like a mute button for most of the horn honking on this island.

Well, I had my final Holiday fix by reading Andrew Clements The Last Holiday Concert. The age old tale of the music teacher losing his job because of budget cuts and losing his temper with the kids as well. In a fit of anger he tells the kid who shot the rubber band at him to take over the Christmas Concert, and Hart does. It is truly a learning experience for both the 6th grader and the novice music teacher. A wonderful respite with a cup of tea on a breezy cool Saturday morning. Clements has the middle grades novel down pat.

Reading this book and working on the Middle School edition of Tantalizing Tidbits has certainly reaffirmed my concern with the two year overlap in the ALSC/YALSA definition of young adult - ages 12 through 18. A 12 year old is either 6th or 7th grade, most often 7th, but still at the edge of childhood. The Middle School concept has put 5th through 8th graders in the same schools. In my humble opinion a 5th grader is still a child and an 8th grader is a budding young adult. The emotional and social concerns of the two groups are quite different. So where do we put a book like The Holiday Concert? The characters are 6th graders, so common sense says a middle school, but this is a book I would recommend to a 4th grader without any reservations so it certainly belongs in an elementary school as well. Publisher suggestion on the book flap is 8-12, basically 3rd grade through 7th grade. Okay, so elementary and middle school librarians will buy it. But, there is a big different between what 3rd graders and 7th graders are reading and certainly in their maturity level. Third graders are still playing with toys and 7th graders are playing with each other! In reality - I suspect the readership for this book is 3rd through 5th. At least that is the age group I would recommend it to.

Can't wait to sit in on the discussions at Best Books for Young Adults and Quick Picks at ALA Midwinter. Real people talking about books - how cool is that! :-)

Thursday, January 06, 2005

It's another government holiday - lots of them down here - so Steve has the next two days off. He has the Simon and Garfunkle Reunion Tour DVD playing in the living room, with both of us singing along while we work on our computers- him singing in tune, not me! That's why I am singing softly. :-) Isn't it interesting that no matter how old you are you seem to know the words to their songs?

I've been taking Christmas decorations down a little at a time. I love to put them up, but hate taking them down. All that cool stuff put away for most of the year. But, I have several needlecraft Christmas projects to work on during the year. That will keep me in the Holiday frame of mind all year. :-)

Been working on the MS edition of Tantalizing Tidbits for Teens and have Terry Pratchett's A Hat Full of Sky in front of me, along with the The Wee Free Men. I have read a few of Pratchett's books, but I am not a big Discworld fan. I did however, love The Wee Free Men. How can you not love six inch high blue guys who love nothing more than to drink and fight? One of my favorite Nac Mac Feegles is Daft Wullie. He had me chuckling through both books. Interesting comrades for a little girl who is initially looking for her brother in fairyland. In the second book, A Hat Full of Sky, Tiffany's natural talent as a witch has attracted a Hiver, a disembodied entity that takes over the minds of very powerful people. Her natural curiosity about her power causes her to draw the Hiver to her. It takes another powerful witch and the Wee Free Men to help save her.

My favorite of Pratchett's books is Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents. I've always been a bit fascinated with the Pied Piper of Hamlin story. Loved Napoli's Breath, but I consider it upper level YA due to the orgies - not a big part of the novel, but still disconcerting. Absolutely fascinating concept of how the beer is what is making the people crazy. Only one not affected is the boy who doesn't drink it because of his breathing issues.

I just made Maurice required reading for my YA Literature classes. Many of my students say they don't care for fantasy, but after they read a few good ones, I usually have them hooked. I am a big fantasy fan, have been since I was a kid. Never have been much of a science fiction fan, but some of the best books I have read in the last year have been science fiction, such as Nancy Werlin's Double Helix. The research Werlin did for this book is very evident in how smoothly it flows and how plausible the scenario seems. Also loved Mortal Engines by Phillip Reeve. Haven't gotten the second book in the series yet, but I have heard it is good too. Sadly, my reading is pretty much limited to what the publishers send me as I don't have access to a decent public library down here.

All for now - back to writing the booktalk for A Hat Full of Sky.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Hi everyone. BRRRR!!! (By island standards) I am drinking hot tea - wonderful mango flavored black tea that is made in Jamaica. It is worth every penny I pay for it - it's a tourist thing so, of course, it is expensive. It was so cold yesterday I was in jeans, tennies, and a fleece top. Not typical island attire. Still very chilly today so I stayed in bed for a bit with the cat to warm me up while I read The Beckoners. These girls make my HS days look like a fairy tale, and it certainly wasn't. Branding newcomers into the group - my arm hurt reading about it.

I had the car for the day so I spent a good portion of yesterday on the road. Started listening to The Red Tent by Anita Diamant. It is turning out to be a wonderful listening experience. The narrator's voice is soft and musical and she certainly knows how to use the right tone to get you to laugh at the best parts. Not exactly your typical "Bible story" - I had to snort laugh over the comment about Jacob bringing one of the sisters an urn shaped like a woman that poured through the nipples. The traffic was snarly, as usual, but I didn't mind as I was enjoying listening to the book.

Yesterday's wanderings included a very pleasant visit to the Montessori School here on the East End where Steve and I live. It has been in existence since the 1960s and their administrator, Ms. McWeeney is a delight. I was there to offer guidance as to their library situation. Their current library is quite small, but they are growing and will be adding a new Upper Level building with a separate library wing. What a welcoming campus, including a gazebo in the middle with comfy chairs for the parents to relax and chat before or after picking up their children. You just wanted to grab a book from the library and curl up there and read.

A trip to KMart is always an experience. After the rains and flooding our roads are still in pretty bad shape. I haven't blown another tire yet, but I keep dreading when I will as I know it will happen. Heck, these pot holes are big enough to swallow a small Honda! Was listening to a St. Croix radio station and the announcer was complaining about their roads too and said a call to the territory road repair office resulted in a response of - "Why repair them, they will just come back anyway!" Hmmm - interesting approach to road maintenance. Kind of like the approach to abandoned cars by the VI Police Dept. We have one on our goat trail of a road that has weeds growing out of it! You just smile and get used to it - it is island time, or in other words - you're lucky is if it happens in your life time. :-)

All I really wanted from KMart was a covered casserole dish, but there was only one available and it wasn't big enough. Guess I am going to have to buy one while I am on the Mainland and put it in my suitcase along with a bunch of spices I plan on buying. This is the "spice capital" as far as spicy food goes, but either you can't find it in the grocery store or you pick yourself up off the floor after you faint from the cost of a small bottle of the spice you need a pinch of.

Oh the joys of island life - and yes, it is joyful. All I have to do is grab a book and go sit out on the balcony and watch the sailboats out on the ocean and the rest of it is just "little stuff".

On to working on the MS edition of Tantalizing Tidbits. :-)

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Good afternoon. Still cool and breezy in the islands. Not tank top and shorts weather by any means of the word.

Was looking through various list of books suggested for the Printz award. My number one choice for Printz - Rosoff's How I Live Now.

Honor book contenders: Aidinoff's The Garden, Zeises' Contents Under Pressure, Chotjewitz's Daniel Half Human and the Good Nazi, and Farmer's Sea of Trolls.

There are lots of other books I hope make BBYA so I am looking forward to attending the meetings and listening to the committee members' discussion.

I noticed one of the lists included Jaclyn Moriarty's The Year of Secret Assignments. Delightful reading experience - hope it makes BBYA. My favorite character is Emily - how can you not like someone who sends "empty" envelopes to her pen pal with little notes inside. Em also says her nickname should be "Toblerone". On that bent, my nickname would have to be Godiva, and I don't mean Lady, I mean dark chocolate! YUMMY!! :-) But, Lydia is the one who held my attention the longest - she is one intriguing character with her weird letters to Seb and her insistence on filling out the notebook even though it is totally stupid in her opinion. With all the email and chat room based teen novels of late, it was nice to read a book based on letters that were actually sent via snail mail.

All for now - need to finish up a review for VOYA.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

The sun is out again! :-) Still breezy and cool, but sunny. I go into a funk when the weather is overcast and nasty.

Finished Head Games by Mariah Fredericks this a.m. I loved The True Meaning of Cleavage so I was anxious to read this one. Federicks has the ability to create a believably strong but vulnerable teenage girl who the reader connects with from the very first page: "All it is, is a little pressure. And just like that, everything changes." Judith is talking about pressing a key on the keyboard to determine her fate in an online game, but she is also describing her life.

The fantasy world becomes part of her real world when she discovers that one of the players is Jonathan the "bad boy" who lives next door. Pretty soon they are playing their own fantasy/role playing game, with Judith the willing "student". Judith would rather live in a fantasy world, playing a role, than deal with her feelings and fears about a sexual assault she has told no one about. She has shut down the "girly" side of her personality and prefers to role play as a male. A venture into the "real world" of tutoring another female student and coming to terms with an old friendship gone bad, Judith is able to step back inside her own skin and begin to figure out who she is.

I thought the cover on The True Meaning of Cleavage was suggestively clever due to the title, but I really do not care for the cover on Head Games. It is a close up of a girl who looks slightly stoned, or perhaps she is supposed to look aroused, with her mouth partially open. Oh well, I am sure it will attract teen readers and cause a bit of snickering from the guys.

That's it for today. Hmmm - what to read next? The Beckoners by Carrie Mac.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Happy New Year everyone! We are bringing in 2005 with wind, rain, and very cool temperatures in the islands. The revelers from last night might think they are still foggy brained, but the fog is real. The mist and rain in the air is so thick I cannot see St. John, which is quite close to St. Thomas.

After listening to the neighborhood celebrate until 1 a.m. last night I gave up and went to bed. Was awakened at dawn to dueling roosters. Turned the fan up higher to drown them out and went back to sleep. These are the kinds of days that deserve a hot cup of tea and a book. I would say in front of a fireplace, but those are not common down here.

Or a good chic flic. My "daughter" Annika (foreign exchange student who joined our family years ago in Alaska) who lives in Finland said she and friends went to see the second Bridget Jones movie and that it was wonderful mindless entertainment, but no one laughed during the scenes set in Thailand. Thousands of Scandinavians died in the tsunami and the region is reeling from the blow of so many deaths. These are sparsely populated countries to begin with.

I do enjoy the Brit chic lit and movies and the slang. I had just gotten used to snogging being kissing in Rennison's Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging and its companion titles, when along comes Tyne O'Connell's Pulling Princes. Pulling is defined in the book's glossary of Brit terms as "to make out, score, kiss, etc." Hmmm - wonder how extensive the "etc." is!

In O'Connell's vicarious look into the lives of girls in a posh British private school, pulling refers to kissing. The more boys you pull the higher your popularity quotient. Calypso, the "freaky American"who doesn't fit in, decides to start out the school year with a boyfriend back home in LA (her mom's gay personal assistant), but has no idea that her popularity will soar to great heights during the school year - to the point that HRH, Prince Freddie, bestows upon her her first kiss. Honey, whose name should be Arsenic, had her eyes on Freddie and attempts to make Calypso's life miserable, but her vicious behavior back fires on her when the girls support Calypso. The escapades of this group of rich Brits and a LA born American is quite hilarious and would be a good curl up and read on a rainy day book, if I hadn't already read it. I started reading Frederick's Head Games and I don't think I am not going to be snort-laughing over this one.

All for now. And to the person who keeps blowing his/her car horn going around the corner by our apt. - "Don't get your knickers in a bind!" :-)