Monday, February 28, 2005

Good morning! What a wonderful weekend we had. We were invited to go to Dominica (pronounced like the Singing Nun song) with new friends, Brian and Janna. Brian has a 4-seater Comanche prop plane so we had a fantastic flight down, checking out all the islands along the way. What a fun experience - first time I have been in a plane that small. Thought I would get motion sick but a 1/2 a Dramamine took care of that.

Dominica is an incredible island. It is quite large compared to many of the other Caribbean island and is extremely mountainous due to the volcanic action. We hiked along a sulphur spring fed creek that was beautiful, but the sulphur beds were more than a bit odoriferous. We also hiked up to Trafalgar Falls and Janna even went in swimming. She is the adventurous one - climbing a sour orange tree to get us fruit which was too sour to eat. Talk about pucker power! We were later told they are used mainly in marmalade. The roads are narrow and winding - Steve was very glad Brian was driving so he could sightsee for a change. Usually he is busy watching the road and dealing with my gasps when we are too close to the side on my side! Fantastic vistas. Janna and I began to make up stories about Rasta-fairies and Rasta-leprechauns since we saw a rainbow and wonderful moss covered rocks and trees that conjured up imaginary creatures left and right! Put two literature people in a beautiful environment and the creative juices have to flow. :-)

We stayed at an eco resort called Exotica Cottages. Quite a "rustic" road to get to it but well worth the trek - we watched the sun drop into the ocean - incredible from that altitude. The owners Fae and Athie were a delight and Fae's cooking was delicious. They have a large organic garden and orchard. The fruit was so good Janna and I were still talking about it later in the day and craving more.

As we flew out we were busy pointing out the roads we wanted to go on the next time the four of us visit so I think I will have further islands adventures to report. :-)

Too tired to read at night after trekking through the rain forest as I haven't hiked in years. Brian and Janna put us to shame but I was thinking about YA lit set in the Caribbean, or at least partially set here, such as Call Me Maria by Judith Ortiz Cofer. Maria and her mother happily live in Puerto Rico where her mother teaches English, but Maria's father is unhappy living there. He had grown up in a Spanish speaking neighborhood in New York and the islanders tease him about the way he speaks Spanish. His loneliness gets the best of him and he moves back to his childhood home, taking Maria with him where she has to learn how to live in the city. I love how Cofer writes about Maria and everyone else in the neighborhood, Hispanic or not, learning Spanglish, even her Indian friend. :-) The other one that came to mind is Danticat's Behind the Mountain which is about Haiti. Gives the reader a glimpse into the country's politics and violence, but more a sense of how she loves her mountainous homeland. Danticat is a very well known author in the Caribbean. She writes more adult than YA, but she has another Scholastic title coming out - Anacoana, Golden Flower, Haiti, 1490 - about one of the queens of Haiti. It is part of the Royal Diaries series and will be out in April. Danticat's newest adult novel is The Dew Breaker.

That's it for today. Have tons of email to catch up on since I was computer-less for a few days. Felt good!

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Good morning all. Slept in today since my online chat last night with my undergrad. YA class ran until 11 p.m. Boy were they an interactive group - it was a delight to see how strongly they interacted with the YA novels they are reading.

My grad class also had an online chat last night with Lara M. Zeises. It was very interesting to hear about her writing process. I think all entering 9th grade girls should read her Contents Under Pressure to help prepare them for the assertive older guys. They are such "fresh meat" and not all girls will be as lucky as Lucy is to be dating Tobin, a more experiences Junior who is willing to wait until Lucy is ready, which may be a long time since she is dealing with the family repercussions of her older brother's pregnant girlfriend living with them. Lucy and Tobin discuss sexual boundaries in relation to what Lucy is ready for. Really cool book with wonderful secondary characters as well. As one of my students said - her writing is very tight! :-)

I did love Bringing Up the Bones - Zeises' first book for older teens. Bridget is taking a year off before she goes to college to deal with her grief over Benji's death. Benji is/was the love of Bridget's life, but although he loved her, he wasn't in love with her. That in itself is something to grieve over - the loss of a love you really never had, your best friend Elle did. Jasper enters the picture and Bridget isn't quite ready to let go of Benji yet, but Jasper helps her take those first steps, the final one she needs to take on her own, alone.

We talked about how the covers on both of Zeises' books have face shots of girls and how most of us found the covers appealing. Covers are such an important element of a book - drives me nuts when some libraries take the book jackets off the books, or the jobbers do, only giving you the cover art, or worst yet, a blank front and back with only the author and title on the spine. How appealing is that? I want all the good stuff - the art, the book blurb and the stuff about the author. I picked up Crank by Ellen Hopkins because of the cover and because it is a 2005 Quick Pick. A thick but quick read due to the free verse format. The cover shows the title "written" out in lines of crank on a black cover. It might be a quick read but it sure isn't an easy read as you spiral into crank addiction with Kristina - alter ego Bree - as she enters into a drug induced high that causes her to do and say things she would never have done before. If only she hadn't gone to visit her drug using father none of this would have happened. If only she hadn't let Adam talk her into cigarettes, then pot, then crank. If only, if only - but how does she get herself out of this alive? Does she?

Okay - that's it for today. Need to get some grading done.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

GRRRR!!! I just lost my whole blog entry when I tried to spell check it. I am working on Steve's laptop instead of my desktop and he has so many security levels on here it wouldn't let me go directly to the spell checker within Blogspot and when I tried to override it I lost my posting. And I had put such thought into it!

I had written about J. Minter's series, The Insiders. I just read the third book in the series, Take It Off. It will be out in June. Considering I hadn't read the first two - The Insiders and Pass It On - Minter did a good job of introducing the new reader to the four guy friends. Mickey and Arno are still fighting over girls and showing each other up in the physical prowess area. David, the good boy, is sent home from their "educational" cruise along the Spanish coast for being drunk the first day out. Jonathan has asked David to watch out for his girl Flan, even though Jonathan had broken up with her and has now decided that wasn't a good idea and is obsessing because she hasn't e-mailed him. And we can't forget Patch, the golden boy who is the teacher's pet. Add large amounts of alcohol of every kind you can think of, clove cigarettes, sex, sand, and designer clothes to a group of rich kids trying to out do each other and you have an interesting, though shallow, read as they keep drowning in the deep end of the pool of life as they try to be nothing like, or everything like, their money and status obsessed parents. Oh what a nasty play of words that is - can't do any better since I am still irritated I lost my last posting.

Off to have breakfast and then do some grading.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Good morning. Not quite 6:30. Can't say what the day will be like yet as it is still dark outside. Roosters are busy trying to get the sun to wake up but Sol hasn't listened yet. Tuesdays and Fridays are my early mornings when I get up with Steve so I can take him in to work before I spend the day at Montessori. And to think I could sleep another hour and 1/2 if I didn't have to make the trip in and back to Charlotte Amalie. Not a good thing to think about when you are not a morning person. And Steve is typically one of those chipper ones you just want to whack with a frying pan as he tries to joke and tease my morning grumpies away.

Well, I should have known better about the cute raccoon in Napoli's Bound. It bit off two of Wei Ping's toes so Stepmother killed it - let's just say there wasn't much left for the stew pot when she got done. She was a bit mad (both in the angry and insane definition) and chopped off Wei Ping's toes on her other foot so they would match. She figured Wei Ping would be married before her duped husband realized there was less under those binding strips than there should be. Shing Shing took the beautiful carp back to the pool and set it free but if you know the Chinese Cinderella story you know that the magical fish is far from safe when it comes to Stepmother. Shing Shing does prevail in the end and marries the prince - not quite the handsome devil from the Walt Disney version as corpulence is a good thing in a man. A delightful read and what a beautiful cover.

The sun is up but you would hardly know it - misty and dreary day beginning.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

It is gorgeous out there with the sun sparkling on the water - like liquid diamonds. My favorite type of ocean. Steve loves the harbor in Charlotte Amalie because of the shades of turquoise to deep blue depending upon depth. I sighed in contentment this a.m. as I looked out at the ocean and Steve smiled and quipped - "Just another day in paradise!"

Lots of talk on YALSA-BK about Naughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman. I see why. Imagine a world where the whites (naughts) were the slaves and the blacks (Crosses) were the owners. It is years later but desegregation of the schools has just begun and Callum is one of the first naughts to attend Sephy's all Cross high school. This book is so raw it hurts to read it, but oh what a wonderful book to use with teens in relation to prejudice and race relations. What if Henson was the one everyone talked about in relation to the North Pole expedition instead of Peary? What if history was written so that any white accomplishments were left out of the history books? It is all told through alternating chapters from Callum and Sephy's perspectives - two teens in love caught up in the fight between races and the haves and the have nots. I think we may be looking at a 2006 Printz award or honor book. I am almost afraid to say that as I predicted right for Rosoff's how i live now for 2005.

All for now - I'm going work on the L for my NOEL Christmas hanging - yes, I am a Christmas nut all year round. :-)

Saturday, February 19, 2005

What an absolutely gorgeous and relaxing Saturday it has been. We went to lunch at Fungi's, which is a little restaurant bar on the bay at Point Pleasant Resort. We stayed at Point Pleasant last year when we first came over to St. Thomas to check it out. Fungi's is right on the beach so the waves lap up on the rocks next to the tables. The chicken roti was as good as I remember them - yummy West Indian curry specialty. Our dining entertainment was a hungry pelican that was diving into the water, very shallow water at that, and gobbling up fish. I am surprised he didn't knock himself out with some of those vertical dives.

While driving around the island we are listening to Duane's A Wizard Abroad. It has been awhile since I have "read" a Duane book and we are having a great time with the narrator's Irish accent and just listened to Nita's encounter with the local Irish teens - quite entertaining. Nita is a feisty female wizard - recommend her to girls who love Harry Potter. Speaking of Harry, we finally picked up The Prisoner of Azkaban at Blockbuster today. That and The Village. Guess who picked Harry and who picked the horror movie - YA lit. specialist vs. IT geek? :-) Steve joined Blockbuster online and we should be getting movies in the mail, but who knows when that will start and how "regular" they will be with our spotty mail service down here. He has quite a list built up for them to choose from!

In good old book format, I am reading Napoli's Bound at home and Fleischman's Whirligig in the car (the paperback from the used bookstore here on the island fits in my purse - perfect for those long stands in line). And, for some weird reason it is one of those older YA titles I just hadn't gotten around to reading. Haven't read Seed Folk either and I know I should. So far I am really enjoying Bound, a Chinese Cinderella story. How can you not love a blind and quite spoiled raccoon as a pet? I can close my eyes and see it sprawled out asleep on its back with all four legs in the air. Kind of like my cat Sophie! I hope they don't eat the raccoon like the Stepmother wants them to. Made me think of Hansel and Gretel when she suggested putting it in a cage and feeding it to fatten it up. Guess I just have to keep reading to find out what happens to Ying Ying and the raccoon. And oh those bound feet on the favored daughter - yuck! Made me think of the passage in Namioka's The Ties That Bind, the Ties That Break when the older sister unbinds her feet and the stench sweeps through the room. That would have made me darn sure I had made the right decision not to let them bind my feet!

That's it for today - need to go pick up the laundry - found a place that does it by the pound. This should prove to be interesting. I miss having a washer and a dryer!

Thursday, February 17, 2005

I was just reading the news online and thinking how war has become a part of every generation. Guess I am in somewhat of a pensive mood as I just finished reading L. J. Adlington's The Diary of Pelly D. It is a science fiction novel set on another planet that humans have colonized, but the humans have evolved to the degree that they have gills. Wallowing in clean water is an essential part of their daily routine - it is called Bliss. They even have a water theme park called Waterworld. Hmmm - gills, water - makes me think if a futuristic Kevin Costner movie that bombed in the box office, but I loved it. :-)

Pelly D is the self proclaimed most popular girl in school - at least that is what her diary says. Toni V found her diary buried in a paint can when he was jack hammering apart the old city plaza. The war is over and they are rebuilding the city and discarding all the debris left behind by the war- books, mangled laptops, etc. He becomes obsessed with the life of this self-centered pre-war girl. Pelly D's life takes a drastic change for the worst when the government insists on genetic testing and everyone is stamped with their genetic code. The power brokers all flash their red Atsumisi hand stamps and no one wants to be Galrezi - sure they are supposed to be the artistic types, but they are the bottom of the gene pool. Although Pelly D's dad is Atsumisi her sculptor mom is Galrezi and it is a dominant gene so Pelly D and her brother and sister wear the shameful Galrezi green hand stamp as well. Before long the Galrezi are told that, with the water shortages and the refugees coming into the city, everyone has to share - but it seems only the Galrezi are being moved out of their large apartments and into the Artist Quarters. And then forcing the Galrezi to live in a group isn't enough - Pelly D's family, minus dad who is Atsumisi and in another city, is being moved. No one knows where.

This book gave me the shivers and then some. Reminded me of Nazi Germany. Racist is a dirty word in this book, but racism is certainly alive and well. Sorry folks - this one won't hit book stores until April.

Sorry - didn't mean to end on a down note, but this is one of those books that has your mind chewing away at it as you settle it into your mind. I think I will be "chewing" on this one for days.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Okay - now we have geese, or at least a goose, in the neighborhood. Like the chickens and goats weren't enough? I feel like I live on a farm, but a weird farm that also includes the sounds of diesel truck horns blaring down on the main road, to tell the other drivers to get the heck out of their way as they come barreling through along with neighborhood cars' rap music thumping so loud your chest hurts. When friends say it must be so peaceful living on a tropical island I have to smile and tell them they have never visited St. Thomas! This is the party island of the Virgin Islands and is not quiet at all, unless you get way off of the beaten path on the West end of the island. Not an option for me - I need my DSL and cable. :-)

If you want a fun read get Dancing in Red Shoes Will Kill You by Dorian Cirrone. Kayla has a wicked sense of humor - something that is required when you are a ballerina with double Ds. She says "even NASA couldn't design a tank suit to camouflage my proportions." Kayla doesn't even think about the possibility of being anything other than who she is until she is passed up for the lead role of Cinderella because of her breasts - they would be a distraction says the visiting director Timm with two m's. Her ballet teacher suggests she see a plastic surgeon in relation to breast reduction if she wants to continue in ballet. Her older sister Paterson, the artist in the family, decides to focus on prejudices about body types/parts her art project and is censored by the principal because of the male nude in the picture. Kayla's new boyfriend Gray suggests that she look into different types of dance other than ballet as well choreography. Although the other guys in school seem to be obsessed with her boobs ( some are wearing save the hooters pins when they hear about her possible reduction surgery) Gray is not. He is the son of a poet who has taught him well - she researches the role of women and how they are oppressed in fairy tales. Hence the Dancing in Red Shoes Will Kill You title of the books. Rumor has it Kayla is out to get the girl playing Cinderella. After all, Kayla is dancing the role of the wicked stepsister, who wears red shoes. Yes, this an entertaining mystery/romance, but it also bears a message teenage girls need to hear - your body does not define who you are. Like Kayla, find humor in the stereotypical female body "stuff" when you can - she names her boobs Lucy and Ethel. Hey - guys name body parts - why not women? :-)

Dancing in Red Shoes Will Kill You should be hitting the bookstores about now - release date, Feb 1 2005.

Monday, February 14, 2005

A breezy cool Valentine's Day here, but bright and sunny. We celebrated early and went out and had the Sunday night prime rib special at Bottom's Up - one of the local marina bar/restaurants near us. It was packed. At least we got our prime rib before they ran out, even though we waited an hour for it. It was worth the wait. The people watching was fun so we really didn't mind.

I just finished reading, or I should say experiencing, Chanda's Secrets by Allan Stratton. I see why it is a Printz Honor book. The fear of HIV/AIDS is so intense it radiates off of the page and makes the reader queasy. Chanda's courage and strength to keep her family together when all social taboos demand she leave her mother to die hidden away in a fallen down hut, to spare the family the shame, is incredible. This is one smart and resilient young African female who isn't willing to let rumors dictate who she loves and cares about, including her friend Esther who fools herself into thinking she can hook for just a little while to get her siblings back. Death visits Chanda's family far too often, but the symbolic white stork leaves the reader with a sense of hope for the future.

Happy Heart's Day all.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Happy Day Before Valentines' Day. Apparently Heart's Day is more highly celebrated here than Christmas. Lots of stands cropped up around the island selling big stuffed bears holding hearts and lots of other Valentine type gift "stuff". We went wandering yesterday, looking at areas on the island we might like to move to - love the Hull Bay area. There is a very popular little beach there and beyond that a cool enclave of homes. We stopped to use the "facilities" at the little beach bar there and had to chuckle over the barber shop in the parking lot - it was in an old ice cream type truck. There was the barber, cutting some guy's hair, with the back door door and other guys hanging around watching. I was very glad Steve didn't insist on getting his hair cut there.

I am sitting here with a copy of Jennifer Richard Jacobson's Stained in front of me. I am not Catholic, but where I grew up you were either Lutheran or Catholic, with a few Baptists and others around as well. I remember the teasing from the Catholic kids when they would ask what's your father's name and I would answer Paul and they would say, "No stupid, that's your dad's name, what's your priest's name?" You either fit in or you didn't, and Jocelyn no longer fit in after her mother quit going to church with their neighbors and Joss didn't go through her First Communion. She never forgot the nun's comment that until you went through First Communion your soul was stained. Joss hung around at the fringes of the crowd. She and Gabe had played together as kids and here she was in high school and still let him treat her like dirt even though she was involved with Benny, another Catholic boy worried about the fate of his soul because he lusted after Joss. When Gabe disappears Joss wonders why Father Warren is always hanging around the search groups and why the teens hang on his every word. She doesn't like him at all because she knows he is telling Benny to stay away from her - he says she lures him into their sinful trysts. Father Warren feeds on the boys' insecurities and is the reason Gabe has disappeared.

Stained is not graphic in relation to the sexual abuse, but it is clear what is going on with Father Warren and Gabe and why Gabe waits to talk to Joss before he disappears from their lives. Very poignant tale of how small town lives intertwine and how one powerful authority figure can ruin the lives of so many. Stained is a Richard Jackson Book from Atheneum and will be out some time this month.

All for now.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Good morning! What a beautifully sunny day it is here in the islands - the birds are singing outside my window. And I don't mean the "time-challenged" rooster who lives below us. :-)

So the Patriots won the Super Bowl. We both gave up on it in the 3rd quarter and crashed for the night. Down side of being on Atlantic Time - everything is an hour later than Eastern.

Interesting discussion occurring on Child-Lit about the qualifications of authors. It all started with someone suggesting authors should all have advanced degrees in writing - well, that knocks out the greats like Jane Yolen, who certainly had something to say about it. It has now progressed to discussing the types of books published - such as series, movie tie-ins, etc. that many consider junk. Perhaps they are in a sense, but they are essential junk for readers, just as the mass market stuff for adults like Danielle Steele. Much of what we read isn't ever going to be in contention for a Newbery or Printz literary merit type award. So what? To be a life longer reader one has to read and that can be anything from the latest Princess Diaries book to Sports Illustrated magazine. We have to wallow in unconscious delight type reading or we may become unconscious while reading. If we are forced to read at our determined reading level each time we read something we would quickly become non-readers. Look what we are doing to kids in schools - leveling them and then requiring the books they check out from the library be on that level. What about just plain fun reading that requires no work on your part - it is just a fun reading experience? These delightful reading experiences are what cause us to pick up the next book early on and pretty soon we are looking for more in a book and recognizing the quality of writing and developing connections with characters, etc. I say YAHOO for junk books - they are an essential piece in the array of materials that help create life long readers.

Speaking of series reading - I just finished Mixed Messages by Jahnna N. Malcolm. It is part of the Love Letters series. Quite a delightful quick read about three friends who are very different - Jade is a red-head who plays guitar and writes her own songs, Lucy is a blonde granny skirt wearing vegetarian hippy, and Keesha is an African American fashion diva - but they have each other's backs in all occasions, perhaps a bit more than they should. It is Jade's turn to write the love letter and Lucy puts it in the wrong guy's locker. But, Cupid had it right to begin with and Jade discovers that her heart does belong to quirky derby wearing Adam rather than spike-haired electric guitar squealing Zephyr. This is the kind of unconscious delight book you take to the beach, enjoy and pass on to someone else to read. It isn't one that you put on your "special books" shelf. But, I need books like these - I read so much YA that a light romance is a joy after reading several heavy themed books in a row.

Okay, that's it for this beautiful sunny a.m.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Happy Super Bowl Sunday to one and all. It is a cool misty day in the islands. I feel sorry for the tourists who hoped to watch the game in their swimsuits at the beach bars. It is a bit chilly for that. But, I guess if you are coming from snow country this is still paradise weather wise. We had dinner with friends on Friday night and walked out on the dock to check out the sailboat he just bought - 43 footer. We can see it from our balcony. It is a big sailboat, but I wouldn't have enough room for my books. :-/ While out on the dock we were looking up at the stars - the sky is so clear down here it is as if you could reach up and touch them. No light pollution like in Houston. Made me think of growing up in Upper Michigan - I thought everyone had the Big Dipper hanging over their house at night. :-)

Just finished grading YA Literature Discussion Posting on how we define YA literature. One of the students found a great quote that states teens crave books with characters who are real, inspiring, and flawed. She just described Darren in Joyce Carol Oates' upcoming novel, Sexy. It will be out in a few days - February 15th. Darren is one of those "beautiful" boys who wishes he were more macho like his dad and older brother. And unaware of the effect he has on people, he is showing off that hairless beautiful body in his tiny Speedo every time he gets up on the high board. Darren is being watched, by both the girls and the guys. One of the guys watching is his English teacher Mr. Tracy. Tracy doesn't do anything more serious that offer Darren a ride home, but Darren knows there is a reason he is uncomfortable being in a car with the English teacher who gives him better grades than he deserves. But when the other jocks, who aren't getting good grades from him, decide to play a "joke" on Tracy and slide an envelope with kiddy porn under the principal's door indicating that Tracy is into it, Darren buries his head in the sand rather than stand up for Tracy. You just don't narc on your buddies, no matter how much you know you should, but the "joke" is getting out of hand. The police get involved and they know Darren was in Tracy's car.

Sexy is one of those books I picked up and read right through. Granted, it is a quick read, with some of the chapters being a mere page long, but I found Darren such a disquieting and almost unlikeable character that I kept reading. The ending is a bit too abrupt and gets him out of the situation too easily (a distant uncle to spend the summer with), but I am not sure how much more of Darren I could handle. Or maybe it was the dad and older brother I found so disconcerting. I think it was all the characters! All of them were so flawed, so "real" that I felt as if I were prying into this mixed-up teen's most private fears. In other words - it isn't a book I will forget. Nor have I been able to forget any of the other YA books Oates has written - Freaky Greens Eyes is still my favorite but Sexy gave me goosebumps.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Wonder if the groundhog saw his shadow today. It is my day off so I slept in - burrowing into my blankets, wishing I were a groundhog. I am so not a morning person. This 5:30 a.m. on the days I work at Montessori is killing me. Whine! Whine! Whine!

As tired as I was last night I had to stay up and finish A Fast and Brutal Wing by Kathleen Jeffrie Johnson. It is one of those books that you think about between reading sessions if you don't finish it in one sitting. The plot weaves in and out of reality and fantasy as the siblings shape shift into animals - Emmet into a hawk and Niki into a cat. They are eager for the hunt and the taste of blood - they even hunt each other. The credibility of the sibling's stories is further compromised by the psychiatrist, their missing father, and their mother's new boyfriend/ reclusive author having shape shifting abilities as well. Interesting that their father is missing and now so is Slanger, the author. And whose bone is it the police find in the woods where Emmet, Niki and their geeky neighbor Doug end up naked and bloody? The story is told via chapters in a book Niki is writing, Doug's emails to the psychiatrist, newspaper articles, along with Niki's and Emmett's letters to the more than spooky psychiatrist who specializes in working with teen murderers.

All for now - need to grade YA lit homework.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Up at 5:30 a.m. - not typical for me but this is my first day at Montessori and I am driving Steve in to work so I can have the car. Can't wait to dive into that collection and see what is actually there. My goal today is to work my way through the supply closet and see what I need to order and just settle in.

We must have a new cat in the neighborhood - poor Sophie! She just screams for help when they corner her on our balcony. It isn't like she can jump off - we are on the second story and the house is built on a steep hillside as well.

Interesting discussion on YALSA-BK about how we decide what to read next. It really depends upon my mood for leisure reading, but when I am reading professionally, which means YA literature in most cases, I try to read first time authors, favorite authors, books from small presses, and those that are recommended by colleagues. Right now I am setting aside MS/JH titles and concentrating on upper level YA since I am reading for the HS booktalking book. I am reading A Fast and Brutal Wing by Johnson right now - a recommendation by Julie Scordato, whose recommendations I trust. Thanks Jules! :-) It is an incredible book about siblings who shape shift (I think - I haven't finished it yet) into a hawk and a cat. The story is told through emails, letters to the psychiatrist, and the girl's "novel".

Time to finish getting ready for work.