Saturday, April 30, 2005

Good morning. My desk is piled with CDs that Steve is using for my audio books. I keep telling him for the money we pay for the blank CDs we could have easily bought an Ipod, but at least this way I can give the CDs to friends to listen to after I am through with them. I love the Amelia Peabody mysteries set in Egypt so I bought a couple extra of those beyond my regular subscription.

Yesterday was the Children's Parade but I am not one much for crowds so we didn't go down. I was glad as about 1/2 way through the parade time it poured down rain. I was thinking about the Montessori kids streaked with pain and glitter. We did go down to Blockbuster later in the day and pick up National Treasure with Nicholas Cage - it was really cute. I wonder if it will increase the interest in the Masons as well as cause more people to visit DC and Philadelphia with their children. My great uncle was a Mason and was all mysterious about it. We watched Nicole Kidman's Birth the other night - what a creepy movie. I didn't like it at all and it ended with basically nothing resolved - how did a 10 year old boy know all that stuff that only her dead husband would?

I read Henkes' Olive's Ocean in one sitting yesterday. What a beautifully written book. No wonder it has received all the acclaim it has. I just loved Godbee, her grandmother and the relationship she has with Martha. The family dynamics with a stay at home day needing to go back to work and a tyrant of a toddler add depth to the story. Martha's responses to the entry in Olive's diary are so touching and appropriate for a 12-year-old who has not dealt with a death close to her. Too bad the cover is so horrible. What is the deal with the goldfish? As a young teen I would not pick up this book because of the cover - yuck!

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Having a hard time getting started today. Lots of noise last night, even with the air conditioner on, so falling asleep wasn't easy. Steve only works 1/2 day today and then govt. employees have the rest of the week off for Carnival. The Montessori kids are involved in the Children's Parade on Friday. They are doing a May Pole, carrying the ribbons and doing the actual weaving of the ribbons at two different viewing areas. They have been practicing at school. Carnival is a big deal on this island. The music was so loud when I went to pick Steve up my ears were ringing. The Carnival rides and booths are right next to the court buildings. The Food Fest is today - Steve said he was going pig out for luch. :-)

Scott Westerfield has a cool series out called the Midnighters. I just read the ARC for the second book, Touching Darkness, set in small town Bixby, Oklahoma. The first book in the series is called The Secret Hour. Of course, I found my copy after I read the second one, but I didn't feel like I was missing too much by having skipped the first, but I will go back and read it now as I really enjoy the characters. Jessica is the new Midnighter, having recently moved from Chicago, and she is adapting to her power to throw fire, from a flashlight! They name their weapons with thirteen letter words. This eclectic group of teens have an extra hour at midnight when their Midnighter powers are at their peak. They are fighting the Darklings who want one of the teens as a replacement for the human/Midnighter to mutate with a Darkling.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Steve was just in my office complaining that he won't be able to watch the sunrise from the new apt. as we won't be on the East End of the island anymore. Then he perked up when he realized he could watch the cruise ships come in instead. They come in early in the a.m. and leave at dusk. Gives the tourists a day on the island. Many hit jewelry row and shop as we are known for the hundreds of jewelry stores with supposedly good prices. Others get on a safari cab and tour the island, swimming at Magen's Bay, etc.

The cover art for The Sphere of Secrets, the second book in the Oracle Prophecies by Catherine Fisher, is gorgeous, even though quite simple in detail. It is a hand holding a silver sphere with some type of markings on it. I was anxious to read it as I loved the first book, The Oracle Betrayed, in which the reader meets Mirany, the new bearer. As the old Archon dies he presses a slip of paper into her hand that warns her of the treachery around her. She has been chosen as the bearer of the god because the inept and corrupt Speaker thinks she won't notice that the Speaker cannot hear the god and makes up what General Argelin thinks is good for him. Mirany wasn't too sure she even believed in the god until she started to hear him in her head and he was asking her to find the new Archon, a child in a remote village. With the help of a scribe and a drunken musician they do find the young boy, but trouble doesn't end there. In the second book the new Archon must find the Well of the Gods and give back the three stars that a previous Archon had stolen. The silver sphere is a map across the desert to the well. Fisher has a way with language - you can tell she also writes poetry - and draws you into the story immediately. I am already waiting for the third book. Delicious fantasy reading. The Sphere of Secrets is a HarperCollins book and should be in the stores now - came out in March.

Off to work.

Monday, April 25, 2005

It is 6:30 in the morning and it is already 87 degrees in the livingroom. It feels like a sauna after walking out of the air conditioned bedroom. Can't wait to get to the new apt! It is 81 outside so it is hotter inside than out. I am sure it is going to be hot at school too - it always is. Have to make up my Friday hours since I was home in bed.

My Thursday posting that disappeared into Blogspot cyberspace was about Barry Yourgrau's Nasty Book. It is most certainly nasty and will be loved by upper elementary and MS age kids, boys especially, as it is a compilation of down right dumb, nasty, gross, and sometimes disgusting very short short stories - 3 to 6 pages long. One is about a boy sent to the Dr. because he won't quit picking his nose. The doctor has a Kleenex up his nose and the boy tells the doc he knows he wants to pick it - that's why the Kleenex is stuffed up it. Sure enough when the doctor thinks about picking it a worms comes out of his nose and wraps around his neck. The nurse has one peeking out of her nostril as the boy leaves. Makes you think about picking your nose now doesn't it? YUCK!!! No bloody grossness, but heads do roll and ghosts abound. One boy's head get stuck in a tree and when his brother ties a rope around his legs and tries to pull him out his body comes out first and then the head rolls out, talking of course. This isn't my type of book, but I know the high appeal of gross out books. Check out for a feature on it. It will be out in a couple of days. FYI - the book is upside down with 2 questions on the first page - "Hey, is book is upside-down? Or are you? Turn the page - "Strange...maybe it is you!" and then "Nonsense, it's the book! So turn it over and start!" You won't be able to keep this one on your shelves.

Off to the library.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

I was hoping my post from Thursday would have shown up in the blog after it disappeared into cyberspace when I tried to post it, but I guess not.

Haven't posted in the last two days as I lost a battle with sinusitis. You know the one - if you lean forward it feels like you eyes are going to pop out from the pressure. Isn't that a gross visual! I spent the last two days sleeping or wishing I were asleep! But, it is Sunday morning and I can actually open my eyes all the way and breathe a bit through my nose so I am happy.

Carnival is coming up next week and it will be nutso in Carlotte Amalie until next Monday. Some of the classes from Montessori go to the Food Fest on Weds. and the whole school goes to the Children's Parade on Friday since they have a float in the parade. I am not one for crowds so I try to stay away from town during Carnival activities. Steve said he has to get to work early as they use "THE parking lot" (the only one in Charlotte Amalie) for the Carnival booths so the govt. workers lose their parking lot and other parking is at a premium.

In between naps I did read a bit and revisited Hattie from Hill Hawk Hattie by Clara Gillow Clark. In the first book about Hattie her mother has just died and her father is not taking it well - taking it out on Hattie who can't cook if her life depended upon it. So her father brings home a set of boy's clothes for her and tells Hattie she is to pretend to be his son and join him in the woods logging. She becomes a pretty good second hand on the log raft down the river. In the second book, Hattie on Her Way, she is left with her maternal grandmother and one very suspicious and grumpy cook. Something bad has happened to Hattie's grandfather - the neighbors think her grandmother, with her mother's help, "offed him" and when Hattie pulls up what appears to be a finger bone stuck to a radish in the garden she isn't so sure they are wrong. What actually did happen tears at your heart strings and makes you want to take Hattie home with you, but she is one independent young woman and will do fine on her own. Throw in the neighbor who is into gossip and seances and the tutor with an unquenchable appetite and you have a few chuckles in what is a quite good historical novel.

All for now.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The intent was to sleep in - took Tylenol P.M. last night to knock me out. Fighting the cold that is going around school and I think I may be losing the battle. But, I woke up with a start when I remembered I hadn't given Steve my driver's license. He works for the Superior Court and we need to have a search done for any kind of tickets before we can renew our car insurance. The VI has a law that you cannot register a car without VI insurance - so no Allstate like we used to have, which was much cheaper. They had no problem with insuring us down here, but the registration office would not issue plates without proof of VI auto insurance. So Steve will pay another $10.00 fee for another piece of paper from the govt. I am going to take the driver's license test tomorrow a.m. Only given two mornings a week. Lots of trick questions to get the newcomers to fail so they have to retake it and pay the $35 fee again. I have already stood in line 3 times down there to get various pieces of paper that I had to pay for and then go get various other items they want, such as a physical and eye test, along with passport photos that do not end up on your license. I am not sure what they do with those!

I finished Maximum Ride and it surely is the first in a set of books. I enjoyed the story but a group of six bird kids loose in New York City who need to change their appearance fast just happen to come upon a free makeover session going on seems too good to be true. Six scrungy kids welcomed in for new haircuts, color, and clothes - a bit too much. And the writing is too "cutesy" at times, especially the second person excerpts directed at the reader. But, the characters are all very likeable and younger teens will love the adventure. Lots of chase and fight scenes with the Erasers, the mutant wolf/humans.

Max reminds me of Dicey in The Homecoming by Voigt. The older sister trying to protect her family - in Max's case, her flock. I enjoyed all of the Tillerman books - especially The Runner. I was delighted when Voigt received the Edwards award several years ago - it was time she was honored for her wonderful YA literature. I jumped up out of my chair with a whoop of delight when the award was announced. Wish I had an extra 24 hours a day just to reread the whole Tillerman series along with the other great YA I have read through the years.

Now to get some grading done. We are chatting with Gail Giles in my class tonight.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

There are some benefits to being up at 6 a.m. - the sunrise. Looks like another hot one on the way but it is sunny and cool still at 6:30.

Although I am not thrilled to death with Patterson's writing style in Maximum Ride I can't help but like Max. She chose her own last name, Ride, after Sally Ride the astronaut. Lots of talk in the book about how bird DNA has altered their bone structure so it is light and hollow. Made me think of The Fast and Brutal Wing by Johnson. The other shape shifting YA novels that come to mind with predatory type bird shifts is Owl in Love by Kindl (one of my favorites from a few years ago - she falls in love with her teacher) and The Other Ones by Thesman. Thesman's main character is a teenage witch who isn't too keen on her powers until she realizes she can save a shapeshifter and a lonely boy with them. It is interesting that the shifts seem to be into predatory birds. Wonder why no one shapeshifts into a parrot or a sparrow? Probably because they could be food for a predator and there goes your main character!

Off to the library for the day.

Monday, April 18, 2005

A beautiful Monday morning. We have a couple of island parrots that flit around in the trees in front of the apartment. They are gorgeous. Intense green with yellow heads and blue on their tails. First ones I have seen up this close.

We went snorkeling yesterday afternoon after I spent hours boxing up books both for work and to move to the new apartment. Talk about sweaty work with no air conditioning. It is so difficult for me to part with books, even though I know I can access them any time I want in the library. Anyway, the snorkeling was great. We went to Secret Harbor and snorkeled with the tourists. It was a delight when they'd scare a school of fish toward us. It is so breathtaking to see large versions of the small tropical fish we had in our Houston aquarium in their natural habitat. But, it is a bit spooky when they nibble on you. I was hoping to see a sea turtle but no luck. I had "ring around the face" for hours afterward - need to loosen my face mask!

Just started reading James Patterson's Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment. It is a Little Brown publication that just came out this month. Went looking through my pile of ARCs for my copy after seeing the cover art when I was choosing my April audio book. Beautiful angel type creatures. Not very far into it but it appears they are genetically created winged human children who are being chased by Erasers - men who can take wolf form, also genetically altered humans. So many adult authors have begun to write YA novels - wonder why that is. But it does appear I am going to enjoy this one.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

This morning I think I really could have slept in, but no, the breeze took the bedroom door and slammed it and I woke up thinking a bomb had been dropped in the bedroom. So much for my idea of a nice leisurely natural Sunday morning wake up - instead I was wide awake, with a frantically beating heart, at 7:15 a.m.

The guys were here yesterday and put the air conditioner up on the wall above our bed. They had to jack hammer through the wall since almost all buildings down here are made of concrete. But, it is sitting there silent as now we wait for the electrician to come in and wire it. I have a feeling we will have moved out before that air conditioner actually works.

Read Dyan Sheldon's Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen last night. Mary Elizabeth, AKA Lola (her choice of names), is a died in the wool city girl moved to the suburbs of New Jersey by her potter mother. Not only does Lola take on a new name, she takes on whatever life story works for her at the moment - like two dead husbands for her mom - so that her friend Ella's parents will feel sorry for her and not be so upset about Ella hanging around with an eccentric city girl who does not dress like the rest of the girls. The villain in the story is Carla Santini, the rich bitch, who has everyone in the school wrapped around her finger for fear she will give them the silent treatment. They all know the last girl who stood up to Carla ended up leaving - unable to stand the heat. Lola not only stays in the frying pan, she get the lead role in the school play, which has never gone to anyone but Carla. Oh the angst of a teenage drama queen. The sequel is My Perfect Life, focusing on Ella, I think.

My audio book of the moment is A Northern Light. Am only on the first CD but I am loving it. Haven't found out what is in those batch of letters Addy has but I hope to find out soon.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Got the blahs today. I should be in a great mood as they are putting in an air conditioner in our bedroom as I type. So we can sleep in comfort at least until we move. We have had two fans blowing on us at night. We had some rain yesterday and it seems to have brought the mosquitoes out. They don't attack you in swarms like they did in Alaska but these ones are biters. Steve has a zapper shaped like a tennis racket and he has great fun with that in the evenings.

Woke up early (why does that happen when you don't have to get up but you are exhausted when the alarm goes off at the same time on days you have to work?) and watched the weather change from cloudy to sunny. Glorious sunbeams streaming through the clouds and I closed my eyes and could envision mischievous angels sliding down them. Sat on the balcony and read an old Jude Deveraux paperback I picked up somewhere. Haven't read that kind of bubblegum romance in years. I loved her Knight in Shining Armor - it was even made in to a movie with Meg Ryan - but it has been years since I read romances with regularity.

Chic lit is certainly popular with females of all ages. More and more of has been published for teens since Angus, Thongs and Full-Fronting Snogging by Rennison got all the attention because of the Printz. Four books in that series now. Haven't read the third one of the Traveling Pants series, but I like those much better. Better character development.

Whytock's My Cup Runneth Over is a favorite of mine. Angel's sense of humor is delightful. I have the sequel My Scrumptious Scottish Dumpling next to me as I type but I haven't gotten around to reading it yet. Haven't even checked to see if there are any recipes in it like the first one.

Sorry - brain feels like porridge today - thick and goopy!

Friday, April 15, 2005

An early Friday morning greetings from misty St. Thomas. I am sure the mist will evaporate as soon as the sun heats things up a bit but it is still early. As much as I try I am just not a morning person and 6 a.m. gets earlier and earlier. Can't wait for summer when I can work on my own internal clock.

I read the cutest book last night - Chig and the Second Spread by Gwyneth Swain. The "second spread" refers to a second item between the two slices of bread for lunch. When Chig realizes Willy only has one spread, ketchup, between his biscuits she knows things are getting tough in Kaplik. It is a first time novel set in the hollers of southern Indiana during the Depression. Chig is a petite girl who wants to grow but no matter how hard she tries she is always going to be "not much bigger than a chigger." Shortness runs in her family, with her paternal grandmother being less than 5 ft tall so Chig being not a whole lot over 4 ft. at 8-years-0ld is not a surprise. That's when she starts school and with the help of Ms. Barklis the teacher she catches up to the rest of the 3rd graders. Chig is a delightful character who lives in a loving family. Would make a great read aloud in an 3rd-5th grade classroom. It's been out for awhile - 2003 copyright date.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Good afternoon. I just finished writing the final exams for the two YA literature courses I teach. I think I dislike writing exams as much as I dislike taking them! I feel brain dead after that.

I started going through boxes of books, deciding what I am willing to part with for the Montessori School Library and which ones I just have to keep for myself. We won't have as much storage space in the new apartment so I need to pare down a bit. But, I really don't mind since what the new apartment may lack in storage space it makes up for with the large open living area and great kitchen. Not that I cook as much as Steve does, but I have to be in there to make brownies! :-) I can't wait to sit out on that porch, watch the hummingbirds, and listen to the quiet. No "fart mobiles" spinning their tires as they try to get around the sharp corner right below our living room windows. We will be living in an area called Frenchman's Bay - much closer to town so we won't have to get up as early. Lots of large homes above the bay, including the one we will be living in. We don't move until the beginning of June, but I am getting anxious.

My latest reading material has been at a bit lower level - upper elementary, lower middle school - Becoming Naomi Leon by Pam Munoz Ryan. Her Esperanza Rising was very popular in the middle schools in Texas. It won more awards that you can shake a fist at.

Reading Becoming Naomi Leon was a treat. Ryan has a way with language that is as rich as the hot chocolate that sits on the back of the stove in Naomi's Mexican relatives' home. Naomi and her physically handicapped younger brother live with their great grandmother in her airstream trailer. They don't have much, but they are happy and content with the love that surrounds them, until Naomi's mother returns and wants to take Naomi with her to Vegas. A trip to Mexico results in Naomi and Owen being reunited with their father and Naomi developing enough self confidence to stand up for herself. Oh what a satisfying read. :-)

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

It is going to be a hot one today. I'm already drinking diet Coke and sitting in front of the fan. Looks like we will be moving into a new apartment the end of next month. It is in a much quieter neighborhood and has air conditioning! And a washer and dryer. I don't trust any of my clothes to the laundry people so I end up doing most of them by hand. What a pain. Can't wait to move, but dread the idea of moving. Thank goodness that apartment does not include a set of steps to go down like this one does. Moving a king size bed out of here is going to be interesting.

Guess I am just in the island mode. I picked up The Education of Patience Goodspeed by Heather Vogel Frederick because of the cover art - cool old ship with sails up in the background. When I read the blurb and realized it was set in Hawaii I knew I had to read it. It was absolutely wonderful. I have been reading so much contemporary YA that this humorous historical fiction novel was just what I needed. Patience is not one of Patience's virtues so I really related to her in that sense. A young teen who has already saved her father's whaling ship from a mutiny and masterminded and executed the plan to rescue a landing party from the cannibals on the Dark Islands, poor Patience does not know how to act the part of the lady at the Lahaina girls seminary boarding school she and her little brother Tad are sent to. Fanny, the woman Patience fears is after her father, spews etiquette tips all day long, and the Reverend Wiggins keeps pace with her in relation to quoting Proverbs. What a delightful read. Now I need to find the first book - The Voyage of Patience Goodspeed to read more about the mutiny.

The MS Tantalizing Tidbits book manuscript went in yesterday so I can breath a sigh of relief and start working on writing a final for the YA literature courses. This semester is flying by.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

It is actually cool enough today for me to have my fan off and to drink hot tea. Why is it the cool days are the ones I work at home and not at Montessori? For sure it will be sunny and hotter than Hades again tomorrow while I am in the library.

We went and looked at an apartment yesterday and are keeping our fingers crossed we get it as it is in a very quiet neighborhood and the road to it is quite good - not a goat trail like the one we are on now. No abandoned cars along side the road either. Great ocean view with hummingbirds everywhere. Sophie will go nuts watching them. We should find out in a couple of days.

Decided to take a break from YA and read a children's book by Carolyn Marsden - Moon Runner. I loved the cover art - an Asian girl in full stride. Very cute story about 5th grade best friends who are having problems because Min, the supposed "girlie girl" can run faster than the athletically inclined Ruth. Competition initially has a bad influence on their friendship until Ruth realizes that Min has reminded her how good it feels to run, even if you don't win. Not only did the cover attract me, so did the author. Marsden also wrote The Gold-Threaded Dress, which I absolutely loved and apparently so did many others as it was named a Booklist Top Ten Youth First Novel. The main character's family has recently moved from Thailand and she is trying to fit in with the predominantly Hispanic group of 4th grade students. Her ceremonial dress becomes her ticket into the in crowd but they do not appreciate how important it is to Oy and her family.

All for today - still working on the final manuscript editing.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Good morning all. I have a box of books all set to go to Montessori this morning, thanks to - a YA book review website that donates books to libraries. Check them out at I have Flamingnet bookmarked on my computer and check it out quite frequently. Since the HS just opened at Montessori last year we have a very small collection of books for them so the Cirque du Freak titles and the other books will be a real hit with the teens.

Read another ARC - The Queen of Second Place by Laura Peyton Roberts. As a teen I was not part of the in-crowd in school so I certainly related to Cassie's dislike and frustration with the Queen Bee, Sterling, who she called Fourteen Karat, or F.K. for short. The girl who had it all, flaunted it, and had a tongue as sharp as a finely honed sword. Cassie was the target for much of F.K.'s nasty comments due to her red hair and her love of vintage clothes. The competition between Cassie and F.K. heats up when new boy Kevin is partnered with Cassie for an English assignment. Cassie is sure Kevin will fall in love with her - after all she has immediately fallen head over heels in love with him! What she does to get and keep his attention puts her in detention, gets her grounded, and makes her realize who her true friends are. It was fun to read a YA novel where no one dies or does drugs. Just a group of teens with the typical teen issues, learning to deal with them. The Queen of Second Place is a Delacorte title and will be out in August. It is worth the wait. I am still smiling as I think of Cassie's antics.

Gotta go - time to take Steve in to the office.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Oh wow! It did get published - sorry about that! Just goes to show I should check the blog before I post.

Read an adult mystery during the weekend by Iris Johansen called Fatal Tide. I picked it up when I was in B&N in Green Bay during the Holidays and put it in my ever growing pile of adult books to read. I don't get to that pile often - too much fun YA to read. Anyway, I picked it up because the cover reminded me of Deep by Vance - a YA novel set in the Caribbean. A picture of a female's face as she lays face up in the water. Fatal Tide is also set in the Caribbean - mostly on a private island dolphin preserve near Tobago. The dolphins had been rescued from a net in the Canary Islands, where the site of the legendary Miranth (an Egyptian version of Atlantis) had been located. We have the feisty female character who had been abused a child so she isn't too keen on men and the rich and good looking adventurer who wants Miranth at any cost. Was a fun read. Now I want to visit Tobago! :-)

Good morning. BlogSpot was having "technical difficulties" there for a bit or I was busy working on the indexes for the MS booktalking manuscript. Here is the posting I tried to put in on Thursday but with no luck Hopefully it will go through today:

It is a territory holiday today - Transfer Day, when the Dutch transferred ownership of the islands to the U.S. Everyone jokes about all the holidays that the VI celebrates. A friend who works in the public schools says that there are often months where they never work a full week. Montessori doesn't have as many days off as the public schools.

Just finished grading my graduate level class discussion postings about adult books for teens. The subject came up about how we seem to have no problem with using classics, even those with "objectionable" subject matter, for class reading. Can you just imagine the uproar over a YA novel similar to The Scarlet Letter. I think a young woman getting pregnant by the local fundamentalist minister would have much of the community upset if it were used as a class reading title. Hmm, wait a minute, there is a teen novel somewhat similar to that by James Bennett called Faith Wish. It is about a teenage girl who is seduced by a traveling minister and becomes pregnant, but when she finds him, thinking they will have a life together, he puts her in seclusion at a cult like camp. The main character, Anne-Marie, is a bit on the naive side and has learning difficulties so her self esteem is quite low. She is an easy target for this long haired charismatic preacher. A very interesting read, but not one I would use for a class reading set. :-)

My favorite James Bennett YA novel is The Circle Squared. It is definitely for older teens as the main character is a freshman in college and the language and issues addressed are more appropriate for the older teens. Wish every young guy who goes off to college thinking he wants to join a fraternity reads this book. Recommend it to the guys who love college basketball.