Friday, July 29, 2005

Another week has come to an end. Before I know it Fall semester will have begun again. Thunderstorms this afternoon so I have the air conditioning going in the living and bedroom to cool it down in here in case the power goes out again. It is so close and muggy when the weather is like this. Dark and dreary out there too. And, the mosquitoes are terrible. We walked down to the beach after Steve got home from work yesterday. It was a nice leisurely walk as it had cooled down some. We were walking in the rocks at the end of the cove when Steve had a crab run over his foot. Glad it was him and not me - I probably would have gotten startled and fell in the water! We just sat and listened to the waves for a bit, hoping we would get to see one of the cruise ships going out, but it didn't leave until we had walked back home. There is the coolest flower growing on the hurricane damaged waterfront lot Steve and I drool over as a building site. But, no flower is worth the 2 mil the guy is asking for the lot! Like we could afford it anyway - so I'll just have to enjoy the nature made floral arrangement when I walk by.

One of my favorite YA authors, Lara M. Zeises, has a new book coming out in November - Anyone but You. As she always does, Zeises has created very unique characters, this time a pseudo brother and sister whose hormones are reminding them that they are also sexual beings and attracted to each other. The issue of what can happen between teens who grow up in blended families where there is no blood relationship between them is rarely addressed in YA novels. It smacks a bit of incest, but is it really? This is different than Block's Wasteland, as the two teens in that novel believed they were blood siblings. Seattle (Sea for short) became a part of Critter's family when she and her father moved in with them when they were little kids. When he left, Sea was left behind and became Jesse and Critter's sister and Critter's best friend. They happily did everything together until the day Critter sweet talked their way into a rich neighborhood pool. There is no reason Sea should be so insanely upset about Critter falling for the preppie lifeguard chick, but she is. And, when Critter catches her with Scott, the skater dude visiting from the West Coast, well he is mighty upset too. Jesse is the level headed one who works a part time job and tries to keep the family together when it seems to be coming apart at the seams. Frank, Sea's dad, has decided he wants back into her life, but the angst ridden emotional basket case that Sea is isn't about to let that happen. The novel is told in two voices - Sea's and Critter's. And, Critter is the hormone driven boy all mothers want no where near their girls. :-) This is a gotta have book in a YA collection, just as the first two Zeises YA novels - Bringing Up the Bones (for older teens) and Contents Under Pressure (the book to give to every girl who is going into high school!).

Steve has already informed me tonight is his chicken friend steak night at Molly Malone's so I had better finish up the projects on my desk so I can enjoy myself. It is always fun to watch the tourists, and the regulars, that frequent Molly's.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Another overcast day, but I am not headed to the beach as I told myself I had to work on syllabi this afternoon. Did get a bit of color yesterday and enjoyed swimming and reading for a bit. I was surprised at how crowded it was when I first got there and then it cleared out in about 5 minutes flat with 3 or 4 of us left. Guess it had to do with the group of taxis that came in to take people downtown shopping. They must have had fun with the crowds on jewelry row as we had three ships in too.

It is interesting how fantasy is such a cross age genre. Fantasy characters are often a mix of ages, age quickly, or do not age at all. I just finished reading Isabel Glass' The Divided Crown, a sequel to Daughter of Exile. Fourteen years have passed from when Lady Angarred Hashan and Mathewar, now the Master of the College of Magicians, met and fell in love in the first book. A request from 14-year-old King Jerrett brings them back to court to discover the manipulative and power crazy Haru family has influenced Jerrett, with horrible consequences. One of the Haru sons is busy using half of the magical crown the father found to bind people so they can be used as laborers and soldiers until their bodies give out and die. The older brother, still in exile, is using the other half of the crown to loosen. In other words, he blunders people's minds and drives them insane. Sadly, Mathewar and the young Prince Brangwin have been affected by the madness. Add the illegitimate daughter of the prior king - wanted as wife by both brothers who want to be king. Only one will achieve that rank, but will not stay there long. Although intended for the adult reader, both novels are readily accessible to the teen fantasy reader.

All for now.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

It is an overcast day - perfect day to go the beach without getting burned quite as bad. Steve left me the bottle of Panama Jack Sunblock on my desk before he left for work this a.m. This will be my first afternoon at the beach by myself just to veg and read. We have lived here for almost 18 months and I haven't had a lazy beach day yet.

I stayed up until midnight last night and watched an old James Bond movie - You Only Live Twice. Why - I have no idea, other than I liked the Japanese costumes, buildings, etc. I do not care for Sean Connery at all after his comment on the Barbara Walters show about women needing to be slapped once in awhile. I think this is the only Sean Connery Bond movie I have ever watched all the way through. Now, I will watch the ones with Pierce Brosnan. :-) His After the Sunset with Salma Hayek is a really enjoyable movie to watch. The competition between Brosnan's character, a diamond thief, and Woody Harrelson's character, the FBI agent he keeps making a fool of, is quite funny. The scenery of the Bahamas isn't too terrible to look at either.

I just did a search on Barnes and Noble for Ian Fleming books to see if the Bond series is still available in paperback and it is, but I discovered something I honestly had either not known, or forgotten. Fleming is the author of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang - the only children's book he ever wrote. And, it's a classic! It is amazing what I find out when I am just wandering around on the Internet. :-)

All for now - need to finish up a few small projects before I hit walk down to the beach.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Was reading the local paper last night and there was a big article about our Department of Education. The federal government has told them they will hire someone to monitor the federal grant monies as millions of it have not been spent, or not spent properly. This position is supposed to be filled by October and they haven't even developed a job description yet. I know everything moves on island time, but this is important. The state of the public schools in the U.S.V.I. is deplorable. I have met some incredibly dedicated teachers who are working with basically nothing in their classrooms. You have to be a unique individual to teach in the public schools down here. Some of the teachers who work on St. John live on St. Thomas and take the ferry over every day because of the high cost of rent on St. John.

Steve and I watched Michael Keating in White Noise the other evening. I cannot handle the slasher type horror movies with all the screaming and blood, but love suspenseful movies. The idea that our dead loved ones may be trying to communicate with us through the white noise around us on the radio or TV can be very creepy or reassuring, depending upon how you look at it. In this movie not only is it good ghosts that are communicating with humans, but bad ones too who can manipulate people. Don't watch this one while you are home alone at night!

So then I started to think about the "ghostly" YA novels I have read that I loved. One of my favorites is Haunting by Joan Lowery Nixon because of the references to Edgar Allen Poe and how the murder took place in the past and she has to figure it out from the ghostly clues. There are lots of Nixon's mysteries, supernatural and not, available for teen readers. After living in the Houston area for many years I was accustomed to Nixon appearing at local conferences and it is so sad to think there won't be anymore Nixon mysteries or historical fiction titles to share with children and teens. She was a neat lady.

On a spookier note, I love Vivian Vande Velde's short story collection Being Dead. Not one to read alone on a stormy night. It is required reading my YA literature courses and the students like it too. Although more horror than supernatural, my favorite Vande Velde book is Companions of the Night - a great vampire story. I was so glad to see it made the latest Best of the Best Books for Young Adults list. Imagine helping someone out who you think is being beat up by thugs to find out you just helped a vampire escape and now you are his "hostage", but you just might be falling for him? And Vande Velde can make you laugh while you are a tad bit grossed out by the spirit of a dead guy accidentally ending up in a bat in Never Trust a Dead Man. I love to booktalk this one as the main character is changed into a woman so he and bat can find out who really is the murderer. All the way around Vande Velde is a great author for teens of all ages.

Enough of my rambling for one day. I need to order a tankini from Lands End so I will be ready to hit the beach with Steve's daughter and family. :-)

Monday, July 25, 2005

I can't believe Monday is about over already. I spent most of the day familiarizing myself with Blackboard - the online teaching software used by SJSU. It is very similar to WebCT and in some ways easier to use, especially with the excellent tutorial the SLIS offers. I am teaching a birth through age 6 Children's Lit class - what fun! :-)

That and cleaning up the mess after our water cooler decided to go wonky. Still don't know if it is the bottle or the cooler. Sure hope it isn't the cooler - we really depend upon it as all we drink is bottled water - ice cubes and cooking too. Over 1/2 of a 5 gal. bottle ended up on the floor before we realized what was going on. I need to listen closer to Sophie when she whines. Her litter box and food are near the cooler and she was not happy about getting wet feet to get to them. If I had listened to her earlier I would have less of a mess to clean up. No cold water - great excuse to drink more diet coke today! :-)

Read Ann Rinaldi's The Color of Fire and marveled at the research she does to discover the little known facts of U.S. history. The author note talks about finding the story of the "great Negro plot" of 1741 in New York City. With so many free black people in the north the wealthy families began to fear an up rising and began a "witch hunt" for rabble rousing blacks. When they were done, 17 blacks were hung, and 4 whites, 2 of them women. Rinaldi tells the story from the perspective of a young black servant who is friends with one of the young men who is thought to be too uppity for his own good. Unlike most blacks Phoebe is educated at the insistence of her employer. Her teacher is thought to be a Catholic priest helping the blacks and baptizing children in the papist faith. At 197 pages it is still a quick read as the font size is quite large and the language fairly simple. Great book for Middle and Jr. High.

Rinaldi is considered the queen of historical fiction by some people but the writing ranges from average to superb in her books - with all of them worthy of a place in a YA collection. My favorite is Wolf By the Ears - one of her earlier novels about Harriet Hemings, thought to be the daughter of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings.

All for now.

Friday, July 22, 2005

I'm sitting here watching an 8" lizard crawling up and down one of the porch posts. I sure hope he is eating ants and mosquitoes. I look like I have measles with all the mosquito bites on me, even on my face. Having the bedroom windows open with the shredded screens was not worth the little breeze we got the night the power was out. Steve came home from work last night and went mosquito hunting with his tennis racket type zapper. It will take us days to clear them out of here. Oh well, it could have been much worse and we have lots more storms to come before hurricane season is over. Was worried about friends who live near South Padre in Texas but they did fine - didn't even lose power.

Watched Killing Mr. Griffin last night while Steve was mosquito hunting. I had wanted to see it because of the dispute over the screenplay and Lois Duncan not having been given credit for the story line. It is basically her book of the same title, with a few of the twists left out about David and his involvement by taking Mr. Griffin's ring. I did see a short glimpse of the Hyperion logo at the end of the movie, but I was told there is a clip of Lois Duncan's books at the end of the DVD version. If this movie, or the other one, I Know What You Did Last Summer, much more loosely based on a Duncan book of the same title, introduces teens to this classic YA mystery writer I am delighted. One of her more recent ones, Gallows Hill, is one of my favorites. The whole idea of a girl having lived during the Salem Witchcraft Trials and bringing it to life again in her small town is wonderfully creepy. One of my favorites to booktalk years ago was Twisted Window about a girl who helps a boy kidnap a little girl for all the right reasons, but they are all lies and he shows up with a gun. There are at least 10 of Duncan's suspense/mystery novels available in paperback and they should be in YA collections. Wish I had time to re-read them all. And her biographical Who Killed My Daughter. Duncan's daughter was shot to death in 1989 and her killer was never apprehended. The FBI was of little help and Duncan turned to psychics who gave her basic leads and he discovered her daughter's boyfriend was involved with drugs and other shady dealings. Fascinating book. More about Lois Duncan's life can be found at, a fascinating interview with Duncan. Even with an episode of Unsolved Mysteries Kait's murder has not been solved.

All for now. That darn movie got me interested in Lois Duncan again. I did quite a bit of research on her back in the early 90s and haven't done much since.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

The power came back on a bit ago - waiting for the hot water heater to do its thing before I jump in the shower. It went out at 10:00 yesterday a.m. and came back on about 10:30 this morning. Took a bit longer for the water to come back on. What a night it was - mosquitoes and heat and little sleep. We went out for pizza at Sop Choppy's when Steve got home from work, thinking the power would surely be back on when we got home. No such luck. We sat out on the porch watching a late departing Carnival cruise ship leave - looking like a big floating Christmas tree - and all I could think of was - They have air conditioning and water!!! We did see a power company truck on the road down below and thought we were in luck, but they drove away without doing much besides looking around with flashlights. I was over tired and in a snit after they left without fixing anything, so I finally gave up and tried to sleep. Didn't get much - but the mosquitoes got lots of blood. I even have bites on my face. Can't wait to wallow in a nice cool shower.

I spent most of the day yesterday cleaning since I couldn't get on the computer, but I did get some reading time in. Finished Amanda Hemingway's The Greenstone Grail, the first book in a trilogy about 13-year-old Nathan Ward, the son of a human mother who apparently traveled through a time warp to another universe where she conceived a child. The inhabitants of Eos are humanoid, but much taller with elongated features, and great powers. They have harnessed magic, but in doing so it has back fired and is contaminating their world. Nathan's mother Anne knows her dying partner is not Nathan's father, as do the people around her. The young mother runs away with her infant son and finds a home with the portly kind Bartlemy in the Thorn family home, where generations prior a Thorn employed magic to hide the Greenstone Grail, one of the holy relics from Eos that is thought necessary to save their race. Now a young teenager, Nathan unwillingly dreams himself into his father's world. At first it is frightening and then he wills himself to return there to find out more about Eos and how he is linked to the Greenstone Grail. In one of his dreams he saves a man from drowning and unknowingly brings him back to earth, where he is considered one unusual illegal alien! :-)

I could go on and on about this book as there is so much food for thought in these delicious 360 pages. I want to go back and "chew" on it again with another reading. Is it fantasy? Is it science fiction? Perhaps what we call magic is science that we just don't understand yet. Who says there can't be human like beings in another universe that we can travel to in our dreams? These are the kind of books I devour - the ones that leave you with as many questions as answers. Can't wait for the second book about Nathan. Have come to feel great affection for this teen, along with his side kick Hazel and her desire for something big to happen to her too. I am hoping Hemingway will give Hazel her wish.

Off to the shower! Yahoo - lights and water! I would have made a rotten pioneer woman! :-/

Monday, July 18, 2005

It is so beautiful here today I feel guilty when I think about those poor people in the coastal areas of Mexico that got hit so bad by Emily. The sailboats and parasails are out in full force today because of the wonderful breezes. Yesterday we were getting lightening and thunder though. My cousin called during one of the storms and we were talking about our mother's (sisters) fear of being electrocuted through the phone during a storm. Since I was on a hands free set I wasn't too worried. But, the comment did bring back memories of the delightful Upper Peninsula thunderstorms of my childhood. I can close my eyes and here the rain on the roof above my bed.

Went to lunch at Shipwreck with friends on Saturday and Vickie took me to The Fabric Store after lunch - yes, it is called The Fabric Store and pretty much is the only one on the island. I had found a cool little one near the wharf awhile back, but this one is huge - you could get lost in it. Vickie was buying fabric to make window seat cushions - I was just window shopping and drooling. I don't have a sewing machine over here, but I am about to start shopping for one online. This island has all kinds of little shops that you would never find on your own. The Fabric Store has 5 parking spaces and is in a run-down part of Charlotte Amalie that you would not go in otherwise. But, what a find! :-)

Speaking of finds - I think I just read a Newbery contender this weekend. Betty G. Birney's The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs is beautifully written and what a wonderful message - there are wonders all around you, no matter where you live, if you just look close enough. Eben is fascinated with the seven ancient wonders of the world and dreams of traveling around the world - nothing fascinating or wondrous takes place in Sassafras Springs - at least not in his opinion. So his father tells Eben he will buy him a train ticket to visit his aunt in Colorado if he can find seven wonders in the next seven days. So Eben goes searching, visiting his neighbors and discovers wonders - it may not be the object itself, but the stories that go with the object are what make it wondrous. Set in 1923 Missouri, the folksy style of writing and the down home kindness and quirkiness of the folk make this a story that all ages will enjoy. My number one choice for the Newbery at this point in time.

All for now - back to page proofing.

Friday, July 15, 2005

A very hazy, windy, and hot day today. Watched a gull tossed about on the wind currents - poor thing - no smooth flying today. We have all of our outside furniture up against the walls or turned over so it doesn't blow off the porch. I'll be glad when Emily is long gone. I am sure there will be another storm close behind.

I went from reading several fantasy titles in a row to Chicken Boy by Frances O'Roark Dowell. What a delightful MS read. Tobin tries to keep up the bad-boy McCauley name, but his heart just isn't into being bad. He just wants a regular family life with food in the refrigerator and clean dishes in the cupboard. Not the case since his mom died of cancer. Tobin's eccentric granny does love him bunches, but calling Social Services on his dad is not the wisest thing she has done to "help" Tobin. Where Tobin finds solace is in his chickens, a "business venture" with his new friend Henry that turns into more than business. Who ever said a chicken doesn't have a brain, let alone a soul? Tobin is a well rounded character who many middle schoolers will relate to as he tries to figure out where he fits in his world. Tobin's earthy country voice is a delight, as is his dry sense of humor. I found myself laughing out loud on several occasions. In my humble opinion, this one should be a Newbery contender.

Now to work on the page proofs for the MS edition of Tantalizing Tidbits. Yahoo! :-)

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

After spending yesterday morning in the library, shifting books and moving tables, etc., I get home to Steve telling me we may be in the path of Emily. So we watched the local weather reports last night and it appears we are out of the path due to its southern movement. But, poor Jamaica looks to be in the storm path again. As beautiful as it is outside today one would be hard pressed to believe there is a hurricane not so terribly far from us. Six boats of various types and sizes visible from the porch at the moment. And, a noisy bird! Sophie is still in a snit with our resident bird as it was sitting on the air conditioner looking at her through the window while she and I read in bed in this a.m. That darn bird loves to tease Sophie - but the relationship is mutual. :-)

I recently watched Citizen Kane for the first time and I see why it is considered one of the best American films. The clarity of the focus both in the foreground and background is amazing. No wonder Hearst hated this film, even if he was but one of the people the screenplay was supposedly based on. Steve and I visited the Hearst Castle a few years ago and it is incredible. Amazing to think someone lived there - not the most homey place I've ever been in.

What I was reading while the cat meowed and bird squawked this morning is Holly Bennett's The Bonemender - an ARC from Orca. It should be out in September. I love high fantasy, especially if there are Elvish characters, and there certainly are in this one. Bennett, and her children, are fans of Tolkien and this is evident in the story line. Gabrielle, a bonemender/healer, is the daughter of the King of Queen of Verdeau. Her skill in healing with her hands and mind is far beyond what other human bonemenders are capable of, but she does not realize how she came about this advanced ability. Only a direct question to her mother reveals her heritage. A pair of Elvish scouts arrive at their castle, one of them with a grievous leg wound. It requires much of Gabrielle's healing powers and she gains her patient Danais' respect, and the love of his fellow scout, Feolan. When the Gref Orise army invades their land, both human soldiers of Verdeau and the Elves respond. It is a bloody battle, with many deaths on both sides, with Gabrielle healing as many wounded as she can. Feolan and Gabrielle, much in love, will continue their path together in the sequel, The Bonemender's Oath. I am looking forward to reading it. Because of Gabrielle's age, 27, and Feolan's age, close to 100, and the fantasy setting, The Bonemender is a novel that will intrigue readers of all ages. Can't wait to recommend it to the high school girls next year.

Now to work on syllabi! Much more fun to write about books!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

I have been up since before 6 a.m. Now, when I can sleep in, I don't. Go figure! So I will go in to Montessori today and finish shifting books since we moved the bookshelves around. Also, to see if the new L-shaped desk for the automated system has been put together. I have the library open for 3 hours this Saturday. Will be interesting to see if anyone shows up as I discovered that a good portion of the families go off island for at least part of the summer.

Finished reading Holly Black's Valiant a few days ago and was enthralled with it, as I was with Tithe, her first urban fantasy about faeries living in the city. I am a fantasy freak, but prefer the high fantasy, with author created lands, etc., but urban fantasy certainly has a draw to it - at least Holly Black's does. I was immediately drawn into the contemporary realistic portion of the story about Val running away to the city after discovering her mother with her boyfriend. Fascinated and repulsed by the weird street teens she is adopted by, Val finds herself drawn further and further into their life, including doing potion delivery for the troll Ravus. You see, faeries do not do well around iron and need an antidote to counteract the iron sickness. Valiant becomes a bit of a Beauty and Beast story when Val and Ravus fall in love and she must fight the evil faerie Mabry for his heart, literally! Black's tale is so well written that you suspend your disbelief of faerie folk living in Manhattan and cheer for Val as she becomes the warrior, inside and out, that we knew, but she wasn't so sure, she could be.

I'm outa here! :-)

Monday, July 11, 2005

I can't believe this Monday is 1/2 over already. I have been enjoying my lazy mini-vacation - I give myself the mornings off. Slept in and then read for a bit. It is another breezy day with the sun beginning to peek out. Was cloudy in the a.m. Hoping for some nice weather before Emily comes through - one storm after another this time of the year. Steve and I walked down to Bluebeard's and went swimming Saturday afternoon. It was fairly wavy and gets deep quickly so I spend my time treading water and swimming around. Lots of coral and a line of broken shells and rock at the edge. Not my favorite beach to swim at, but I can walk to this one. Beautiful grounds though, with hammocks in the trees, etc. A good place to go read and veg - maybe one of these days! Living in the islands is so different than vacationing here. I went to the beach more the week Mary was here than I had in the last 6 months.

Read the The Ranger's Apprentice by John Flanagan this past weekend. Wonderful fantasy adventure about a ward of the court who becomes an apprentice to a mysterious Ranger - one of the mysterious cloaked men who some think can make themselves invisible. Will's greatest desire is to go to Battleschool, but his slight size does not make him soldier material. But, the skills he learns as the apprentice to the legendary Ranger, Halt, make him a force to be reckoned with while fighting any foe, man or beast. The Ranger's Apprentice is the first title in the Ruins of Gorlan series from Philomel. Can't wait for the next book as I am sure Will's friend Horace, who is a skilled swordsman training in the Battleschool, will play a bigger role in the upcoming war with the evil Morgarath. A gotta have title in any MS/JH collection.

Friday, July 08, 2005

The skies are not quite bright blue yet, but we are getting some sunshine and the sailboats are back out - they are so gorgeous when their sails are at full billow. There is a pirate bedecked sailboat painted in red and blue, flying a skull and cross bones flag, that sails by here on occasion. I am sure it is some type of tourist cruise, but what a delightful boat - the sails are red. Most are white, so this boat really stands out on the ocean. Makes me think of Johnny Depp from Pirates of the Caribbean. Can't wait to see the second one - it was filmed on Dominica, which is a very lush and mountainous island. The poorest in the Caribbean so I am sure the locals loved the boost in the economy with a film crew on the island.

Was having an email conversation with a friend awhile back about whether or not you can like a book in which you really don't like the main character. Brian Sloan's A Really Nice Prom Mess fits that category for me. I never did get past my irritation with whiney, wimpy Cameron Hayes, the main character, but I did find myself laughing out loud at the situations he got himself into. Heck, I liked his fake Prom date - Amazonian size, red headed, dreadfully drunk Virginia who immediately pegged him as gay - better than I did Cameron. What straight guy would ask her questions about her dress so he could buy matching flowers? Virginia is none too happy to be going to the Prom with a fag (her term, not Cameron's). His boyfriend Shane's date and friend knows he is gay but that is as far out of the closet as he has come. No way is Shane letting his friends and family know - he is too into the jock scene for anyone to even suspect. They don't even question Shane's tag along wimpy friend Cameron. With Virginia threatening to out both of them and Jane suggesting Cameron loosen up with some pot because he is in a snit that Shane is not spending any time with him, but with his jock friends, Cameron loses control and pushes Shane too hard to confirm their relationship. This tactic backfires and what happens after that is both sad and hysterical. It was a fun read, but I still can't stomach Cameron!

All for now.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Overcast and cloudy again today. Yesterday was a stormy one. I watched lightening streak across the sky and strke the ocean while I worked out on my elliptical. Having it on the porch is nice as I get the ocean breezes and get to watch the boats go by, or the light show from a thunderstorm, like yesterday. I felt sorry for the people on the ferries coming from St. John and Tortolla as the boats bounced on the waves. Much calmer today. Steve came home and got me at lunch time so I could run errands this afternoon. We had tacos at Charlotte Tamalie - a cute local place by Havensight.

Although movies are sporadic with our online/mail Blockbuster membership it is fun to see what comes in. We watched Johnny Depp in Neverland last night. Wonderful movie. I cried at the end and told Steve how sad - he saw it differently. Perhaps he is right - I just need to believe. :-)

Read an adult book for a change. MJ was looking through the paperbacks with me on the book exchange rack in Bottom's Up the other evening and handed me a Dean Koontz book. At 23 months old he couldn't have known Koontz is an author I used to read, back when my kids were in their teens. So, I took it home and began to read, quickly remembering why I like his books. The Taking is about a couple who help save children when an alien entity takes over the earth and "takes" people. Basically the earth is purged of all but a handful of adults, picked for their skill sets, and the children. Some of the adults smile when they are "taken", others scream. Are they going to the same place? Is Hell really down there? As always, Koontz leaves the reader with as many questions as answers.

Back to working on syllabi for the Fall - it will be the end of August before I know it.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Another nasty windy day here in the VI. I have the energy of a slug when the weather is like this. Feels like I should just curl up and read with the cat in my lap. We went into Red Hook last night to have pizza at Sop Choppys and about got blown off the deck. Ended up changing tables after we were cascaded with rain. Steve loves the stormy weather. He came home and sat out on the porch - not me! I am ready for some sunshine. Lost sight of a small sailboat in a bank of rain earlier this a.m. I sure wouldn't want to be out there right now.

Read the third in the trilogy of Harry Mazer's Pacific WWII novels, Heroes Don't Run. It is a solid addition to a YA collection, but at 108 pages it lacks depth. Adam enlists, under age, against his mother's wishes, in the Marines. The intensity of Marine boot camp isn't here, nor the terror of war as they fight on Okinawa. The first in the trilogy, A Boy At War, would be a good companion novel to Graham Salisbury's Under the Blood Red Sun, which is a fantastic novel about a Japanese boy in Hawaii during WWII. Although not as strong as other WWII novels for teens, Mazer's trilogy is appropriate for MS/JR high readers. Not all books have to knock your socks off when you read them, some are just solid additions that should be in a collection.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

White caps out on the water today. Was glad we decided to stay home and watch fireworks on TV last night rather than going over to St. John. The weather was not good. Just can't seem to get myself to settle into anything today - have done a bit of this and that, but need to settle in and get some work done. Maybe it is the weather making me so restless.

Read a wonderful Orca ARC (available in Sept.) during the weekend - Red Sea by Diane Tullson. The author sailed the Red Sea so she knows the area well and the very real threat of pirates. Fourteen-year-old Libby is not a happy sailor - she doesn't want to be on this trip with her mom and stepdad and makes sure they know how irritated she is - including getting back to the boat late so that they miss sailing out with the rest of the group of boats. Alone on the sea, pirates attack while Mom is on watch. She panics and fires a flare gun on them, which causes them to open fire with an AK-47. Libby's sailing skills will determine if this is a survival story or not. I couldn't put it down.

Okay - at least I should get some laundry done!

Friday, July 01, 2005

Yahoo! My first day of summer vacation. I had "quality time" with Sophie this a.m. - she curled up on me to get her neck scratched while I read for a bit. A wonderful quiet house, but I have major cleaning to do before we have friends over for BBQ chicken on Sunday. A toddler can do a real number on your bookcases, etc. He loves books, but taking them out of the book shelves is the most fascinating part. :-)

Just finished Karen Blumenthal's Let Me Play: The Story of Title IX, the Law that Changed the Future of Girls in America. Blumenthal also wrote the 2003 Sibert Award winner - Six Days in October: The Stock Market Crash of 1929. She has a way of writing about a "dry" subject and giving it life. The inclusion of cartoons related to Title IX and girls in sports are a visual treat to break up the text, along with the scorecard of girls vs. boys involvement in sports through the years, beginning with 1971-72. Also included are player profiles and other boxes with supplemental information that give this book appeal, even for the reader who only explores the boxed information and the statistics. This is a dream book for librarians as it has all the extras we want - time line, then and now quotes, extensive source notes, print and online list of age appropriate further resources, a selected bibliography, and the necessary index. The only complaint I have about this book is that it tends to support the false impression that Title IX is only about sports in schools. One of the major impacts of Title IX is the increase of female doctors, lawyers, etc. I wish more of the profiles were on women and their role in once all male careers - engineering, law, etc. - along with the athletes. Nevertheless, this is a gotta have for any upper elementary or MS collection.

Now to take on the challenge of cleaning up this mess!