Monday, April 28, 2008

A very dreary and chilly day - down into the 40s last night. We closed up the windows and put the down comforter back on the bed! BRRR!! I just ground one of the new flavored coffees Steve came home with for me. I'll get warm from the inside out.

Steve was up before 5:30 this a.m. and I woke up too so it is going to be a long day. I'd go take a nap but the cable guy is supposed to come some time today to switch out our cable box. I don't even know how to use it other than to turn it on and watch the channels I want - NBC news in the evening and my occasional favorite show - but Steve is a big TV watcher in the evening. He found the cutest Christmas movie that we watched last night - We're No Angels with Humphrey Bogart, Peter Ustinov, and Aldo Ray.
A 1955 classic about three convicts who escape from Devil's Island and decide to rob the local island shopper keeper, but instead they end up being their guardian angels. The three use their "criminal talents" to add money to the cash register (Bogart can, and does, sell a silver brush set and hair tonic to a bald man), steal a turkey and even cook a Christmas meal for the family. They play match-makers for the daughter and Adolph, Aldo Ray's pet asp, takes care of the problem of Uncle Andre. What a great feel good movie. Steve is such a delight - he finds these little Christmas tidbits to share with me, even though he pretends he is a Scrooge and hates Christmas.

Speaking of tidbits, I often need to read graphic novel collections in small bits as I am not a big fan of the superhero comics. But, I did laugh out loud a couple of times over the play on words in Captain Carrot and the Final Ark. The title is but one of the zany episodes in this alternate Earth environment where Captain Carrot is the animal version of Superman. In one of the episodes the two superheroes meet and Captain Carrot refers to Superman as a big pink monster. I guess from a 3 foot tall rabbit perspective he would be. The play on words is constant - Gnu York City, Broodway, Boa's Ark, Sandy Eggo, San Anteatas Fault, etc. One of my favorite lines - "By the flea collar of S'Kuubi-Duu" spoken by Ally-Kat-Abra who is into mysticism. Lots of references to pop culture. Not sure all teen readers will catch the tongue-in-cheek and sometimes biting jabs at our human world by the writers, but most will.

Oh, cats with powers reminds me - I am listening to Stray by Rachel Vincent. What fun! Faith is a smart-mouthed were-cat and shapeshifter. Her human friends know her as a grad student majoring in English, but the appearance of a stray (a were-cat not part of a Pride) and the disappearance of her sister causes her father, the head of the Pride, to force her to return to their East Texas ranch. No animals but cats there - other animals are terrified of the were-cats, even in human form. They know a predator when they smell one, no matter what they look like! Faith is sparring words and claws with her older brothers and a couple of other Toms who'd like to be Faith's mate, but she isn't about to have any of that. She wants to escape from the ranch. Older teenage girls will love this book, even though it does get a bit "spicy" at times.

Paul Fleischman is one of my favorite authors who spans the writing spectrum from picture books to YA novels. His Whirligig is one of the best coming-0f-age novels I have read.
It takes maturity to accept your responsibility for the death of a young woman - maturity gained from traveling on your own, creating and placing whirligigs around the country in her honor, as Brent does in this heartfelt novel.

But Fleischman can also make me smile in how he is able to take a classic story and make it his own as he did with Dateline:Troy.
I remember the discussions about whether or not the copies of newspaper articles, spanning time periods from WWI to the Gulf War, that parallel the events of the Trojan War in the Iliad, are to be considered text or illustration. I think it was in reference to how this book was addressed by the Newbery committee, which looks at text, not illustrations.

Perhaps not quite so dramatic, but quite unique in how Fleischman brings together the cultures with their own Cinderella story into one book, is Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal: A Worldwide Cinderella.
Julie Paschkis' illustrations beautifully compliment the text based on different cultural (Poland, France, China, Russia, Mexico, the West Indies, etc.) versions of the tale with her culture specific illustrations. The endpapers are a world map, indicating the countries addressed in the retelling of this well known fairy tale. Give this one to the Geography and History teachers as well as the English teachers. What a great way to teach how interrelated we all are. An absolutely gorgeous book that belongs in every 398.2 section from elementary through high school.

When I remember, I will add the Barnes and Noble online link to the titles, but I can't promise I will each time. :-)

Now to warm up with some coffee and get back to grading. Writing in this blog is my "fun" time on the computer lately.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

I wonder if Steve is freezing his bippy off in shorts on the golf course this morning. BRR!! We have all the windows open so the house is cold. I'm in sweats with an electric throw around me. I hate the cold!

I treat myself to a movie on Sunday a.m. when I read the NY Times. This morning it was The Last Mimsy. What an absolutely delightful children's movie. It must have gotten lost in all the hype about the Harry Potter and Narnia movies. It shouldn't have. The concept of a civilization in the future seeking help from the less corrupted past to save them by sending back Mimsy - a stuffed rabbit with such sophisticated computer code that current day scientists are stunned. Mimsy and the other "toys" that will be needed for a young brother and sister, Noah and Emma, to create the time tunnel to send Mimsy back with Emma's uncorrupted genetic code are found on a beach near Seattle and the story begins. And what a story it is. A whimsical touch is Emma finding a picture of Alice with Mimsy in a book about Lewis Carroll. Timothy Hutton plays their lawyer father who is as bewildered as their mother by the psychic abilities their children suddenly possess. The movie is based on a classic 1943 short story called "Mimsy Were the Borogroves". It has been reprinted in a collection of short stories, The Last Mimsy: Stories Originally Published as the Best of Henry Kuttner. I had never heard of this SF author until I just did the research on this movie. I may just have to look into this. I suspect the movie tie-in version of this reprint will have more readers than me wishing they had time to read Kuttner's more than 170 futuristic stories written under a variety of pen names, many of them with his wife. And who says movies take us away from reading? Many of us seek out books after we see a movie.

On a totally different genre note, I recently read the ARC for Rachel Vail's Lucky, a HarperCollins title that should be in stores on Tuesday. What fun! The cover art of a 40's looking green party dress got my attention, as did the words "Some girls have all the luck" on the front. Although the first book in a sister trilogy, it certainly stands alone. Phoebe is the self-centered daughter of a high powered broker mother and a teacher father. It is clear who wears the proverbial pants in this house! Phoebe and her friends who also live in their exclusive subdivision have decided rather than a small celebration for their 8th grade graduation, they are having a huge party that their parents are paying for, of course. All is going well until Phoebe's mother makes a bad decision and finds herself knocked from the top of her broker pedestal. Reality sets in when mother and daughter are gown shopping for Phoebe and the green gown is just what she wants, but mom's credit cards, one after another, are denied at the cash register. Will Phoebe have the strength to tell her friends that her family can no longer afford their portion of the party? Instead of being the one who supports her best friend Kirstyn when her life with "her crazy parents and no sisters" gets out of control, can Phoebe let Kirstyn help her this time? A charming chic lit title that will be devoured by Vail's already established bevy of young teen readers as well as those who discover her for the first time by reading Lucky.

When I see the name Meg Rosoff on the front of a book I think of her Printz Award Winning novel, How I Live Now, which I proudly predicted would win and did! I have yet to read What I Was, her new YA novel, but it is on my "gotta read" list. Rosoff also writes delightful children's picture books. Meet Wild Boars, published in 2005, was a hoot. She has again teamed up with illustrator Sophie Blackall and with their 2008 Holt title Jumpy Jack and Googily they are bound to have another hit. Jack is a snail who is very timid and afraid there may be a monster with two fingers on each hand and scary teeth and huge eyes around every corner. Googily (who just happens to have two fingers on each hand, big eyes, etc.) checks to make sure all is clear for his friend. But, Googily is afraid of something too and it may well be lurking under his bed. I snort laughed when I saw/read what it was as will every child and adult who interacts with this witty romp through childhood fears. Can't wait to read this one to the grandkids. This is a keeper in my own picture book collection.

All for today.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

So much for sleeping in on a Saturday morning - woke up before 6 a.m. Steve has the house windows open so the chirping of the birds are driving me crazy. What a racket. I's in my office while Steve is still sleeping. Normally he is up long before me so this kind of feels good.

Arrived home a bit before 5:00 yesterday. I was so tired I dragged my stuff in, sat outside on the rocking chair for a bit, and then went to bed. I slept until 7:30. Got up to have a bowl of soup for dinner and crawled back in. This trip about did me in. Glad I don't have to do it until July. But it was great to see everyone.

I finished listening to Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides on the way home. Along with the 2003 Pulitzer Prize it also won the Audie Award for audiobooks. I felt like I was "watching" a movie in my head as I listened to the Greek accents of Desdemona and Lefty and the Americanization of the accents as the family settles into a new life in Detroit. The interview with Eugenides at the end of the audiobook indicates that Middlesex is not autobiographical in any way other than being set in his home town of Detroit and the main character is born the same year as the author. However, Cal/Calliope's first person narration is so compelling you feel as if you are reading an autobiography, supplemented by the omniscient third person observations of family and friends. I take back my comment from the last posting that I would not recommend this to a teen. Certainly not to the "average" teen who asks me for a good read, but certainly to the more mature teen who is ready for a 500+ book that delves in the sexual identity of a teen. As I listened to this book I remembered a few of the girls who, when they reached puberty, looked more like boys than they did girls, but the possibility of any of them being a hermaphrodite never crossed my mind. As a teenager I don't think I even knew that word, let alone what it meant. However, many teens will relate to Cal's need to leave his family to find himself after he reads the doctor's file and realizes that what it starkly states, and what the doctor is telling them, are two different things. I was enthralled through all 16 CDS and told everyone at ECU about this book. Man this guy can write!! Is is so thought provoking you cannot read and set asides - it requires discussion. Now I need to check Half Price Books for a copy of Eugenides' first book The Virgin Suicides - set in 1970s Detroit and addresses the suicides of five teenage girls within one extended family. Yes, Eugenides writes edgy novels, but these are the types of novels that will hold older teens' attention who want more than the YA realistic novel can give them. I suspect I won't set Eugenides' first novel aside without talking about it any easier than I can Middlesex - which, by the way, is the name of the modernistic home Cal's family moves into in the exclusive Grosse Pointe area of suburban Detroit. The only home offered for viewing to a potential Greek buyer.

I'll stay with controversial edgy writers and discuss Frances Lia Block's Blood Roses, a HarperCollins title that will arrive in bookstores next month. Unlike Eugenides, who writes flowing prose about multi generational families, Block writes sparse modern/urban fantasy novels and short story collections that are also intense and edgy . Every word can stab like knife, or the thorn of the elusive blood rose that the two sisters search for in the canyon above LA, even though it is said you only see them if you die. Going against everything their mother has told them about strangers, they enter the home of a photographer where the young man who lured them there from the record store begins to tell stories of Jeffrey Dahmer as they sit on plastic covered furniture. When the older man leaves the room, the younger man changes his mind and tells the girls to hurry and leave, which they do. Only then do they find the blood red rose bush. Thus begins this "cannot-put-it down" short collection of deliciously creepy tales. Block does not tell straight forward, cute stories. Her writing insists the reader vicariously enter bizarre, scary, sensual scenes - such as tattoos slowly covering a teenage girl's body as she lusts for the tattoo artist and Hollywood mothers who are youth sucking vampires. What causes the hair to rise on my arms when I read Block's books (which I love) is the realization that there often is no line between where the fantasy and reality begin and end, causing me to ponder if we always know what reality truly is. Do you? Sometimes fantasy, though scary at times, makes a person feel more alive than life itself.

Must leave you with a fun one. It was so darn hot when I got home yesterday I looking over at the subdivision pool wishing it were open. I'd have been the sixth in line after Lynne Berry's five ducks in Duck Dunks as this rambunctious bunch goes to the beach. In rhyming text, Berry will delight both parents and little ones as they vicariously hit the beach to skip, run, and dive in where they bob, spin, paddle, and eventually get the shivers so it is time for sun and lunch and some kite flying. They return home very tired little ducks from their day at the beach. Hiroe Nakata's delightful illustrations, rich with the blue of the sea and the golden yellow of the sand as a background, bring these ducks delightfully to life, their round little bodies decked out in bikinis and trunks. For parents who plan to take their little ones to the beach - this is the perfect book to get them excited about what is to come. For PreK-2 librarians - a great end of the school year storytime book. Wrong time of the year for Berry's Duck Skates - will have to wait for winter for that one. Thank goodness that is months away.

That's it for today. I may go crawl back in bed now that the birds have stopped. Hopefully there aren't too many errors in here. The birds may have woke me, but I didn't said I was lucidly awake! :-)

Monday, April 21, 2008

It was a beautiful day so I decided to get out of the house at lunchtime. Had to get some books and summer clothes sent out to the grandkids in Green Bay so I noshed on my favorite - turkey breast Subway sandwich. I was so good - I didn't even order the meal deal with the macadamia nut cookies like I often do. I'd like to stop avoiding mirrors so those cookies are off my "okay to eat" list. It was them or white wine, and the wine won out. :-)

I was "bad" and stopped at Half Price Books and came out with three audiobooks for $9.99 a piece. I was so pleased with myself. That is cheaper than my audiobook subscription is each month. Also bought several books on fibromyalgia. I have now past the stage of denial and hit acceptance and decided if I am going to deal with this for the rest of my life I am damn well going to know what I am dealing with! Still want a copy of Fibromyalgia for Dummies, which they didn't have so I'll have to order that from B&N. Was also delighted to see three titles from Fern Michael Sisterhood series on the shelves and snapped those up too. Okay - I admit it - I am a bookaholic. I could think of much worse addictions!

I leave for Greenville in the a.m. and will drive back home on Friday. Look forward to seeing everyone at meetings on Weds. and Thursday. The LS Program is becoming an independent department so we will pig out on desserts after our last departmental meeting with the Instructional Technology faculty. I am on soda and ice detail. Might stop and pick up goodies I can eat as most desserts have some type of dairy in them. And, since I leave tomorrow I cannot make my gooey yummy brownies as they would be crunchy brownies by Thursday - not good!

I am about 1/3 of the way through Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, the 2003 Pulitzer prize winner on CD. Wow! Not only have I learned a great deal about Greek history I have found myself with my mouth open on more than one occasion. This is a tale of a wayward gene that makes it way through the family gene pool, recently brought to life by a brother and sister who decide to pass themselves off as husband and wife when they flee to the U.S. from their rural town in Greece after the Turks ransack the town. Their children carry the gene to the next generation where a baby (girl child by all appearances) is born, but at puberty, instead of developing breasts and hips he/she becomes masculine. Calliope/Cal narrates the tale and it is spellbinding. The couple is now living in Detroit in the middle of Depression and Desdemona is being forced to go to work by her brother/husband and finds herself in the black part of downtown Detroit. Can't wait to find out where this leads. What a humdinger of a book. At this point I would, in no way shape or form, recommend this to teens!

But, I would most certainly recommend Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer. I kept reading wonderful reviews about this book on YALSA-BK and other listservs, but since it wasn't within arm's reach I hadn't read it yet. While I was in my ECU office the last time I found it and put it on top of my "gotta read" pile and I am so glad I did. What a ride into a catastrophe that seems too plausible. Sure - a meteor could hit the moon and push it out of orbit. And, in doing so, chance the climate and life as we know it on Earth. Seventeen-year-0ld Miranda goes from worrying about dates and prom to worrying about whether or not they will have enough food and wood to last through the winter and which one of them may die first. Will it be their mother who is hobbling around on a sprained ankle, her older brother who isn't eating enough but chopping wood during every waking hour, or her younger brother who dreams of a career as a baseball player? Or, will it be Miranda - she is eating only one meal a day and constantly hungry. No looking in the mirror - she isn't going to like what she sees. Then the flu strikes the household and Miranda makes a trip to the hospital to discover the flu has taken her mother's doctor boyfriend and most of the hospital staff. It is up to her to save her family. Written in diary format, the reader vicariously lives through this horrific time with Miranda as she pours out her feelings into a diary she is not even sure she will live to re-read. This is one of those books that just has to be on the shelf of every YA section and I most certainly plan on booktalking it.

All for today. Need to figure out what I need to pack and finish up responding to student emails before I hit the road in the a.m.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

A quiet night in the Clark household. I just went through the ALA Anaheim preliminary program while watching an old NCIS on the USA channel. Shame-facedly I admit I munched on Frito's while I did both. So I was multi-tasking/eating - in other words, my inner teen is alive and well. If I keep this up I am going to be feeling like Virginia in The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler. I really was skinny for awhile, but I think those days are gone.

We went to Macy's sale today to pick up the multi-colored Martha Stewart bowls I wanted. They are made of some light weight stuff that doesn't break - which is important these days when I never know if my hands are going to listen to me or not. So now I have a set of bowls in every hue that Steve says are hideous, but function is what matters right now. Then we went to Lowe's and bought shrubs for around the back porch/deck. I ran out occasionally to supervise - too dang cold out there. Really cooled down late afternoon and now it is raining, which is good as Steve put the shrubs in. We have marigolds and a some deep purple petunias I found to put out front. I was looking for wild strawberry plants but they didn't have any. Will have to check Home Depot.

Lowe's had these really cool gnarled and crooked filbert trees that I loved. Think I am going to go back on Monday and get someone to carry one out to the car for me. If I bring it home, Steve has to plant it - right!? :-)

We were listening to Lake Wobegon a bit ago. I am not a big fan but listening to him talk about the Lutheran church and rhubarb pie makes me so homesick! I chuckled when he said the ice was pretty much off the lake. I immediately thought of Martha Brooks Mistik Lake. I felt like I was reading about back home in Upper Michigan even though this is set in Manitoba. Brooks writing about summer cottages with bedding that smells moldy no matter how many times the sheets are washed because they had been left in a unheated cottage all winter made me think of my great aunt and uncle's cabin on Lake Gogebic. The largest inland lake in Upper Michigan - I loved going there, but everything smelled musty.

In Mistik Lake seventeen-year-old Odella and her summer crush on the local boy resembled so many of the cousins or friends of local families who came up North for the summer. The guys we grew up with were no big deal to us, but they sure were easy pickings for the city girls who flirted with them - just as Odella's mother had years before with Mr. Isfeld, the man who owns the store where Odella now works. There is a reason that this quiet stoic man is willing to let her enter his world. It may well be the same reason her mother has a drinking problem and then runs away with another man to Iceland and never returns. Like a handful of the city girls I remember, Odella honestly does find her true love in one of the local boys from Mistik Lake and returns to discover her own cultural and familial roots. For those of us who grew up in a rural lake environment this book is so realistic I could almost hear the lake lapping against the posts - all that are left from the docks that were there when the mines still functioned. Odella is so purely, imperfectly human that she is a character I found myself forgetting wasn't someone I grew up with as I read this book. Perhaps just for a time I was Odella and that was very sweet.

You might recognize Martha Brooks' name as a YA author as she wrote the stunning The True Confessions of a Heartless Girl, which I also loved and is set in the Canadian prairies, which we drove through every summer on our way from Alaska to Point Mills. The closer we got the more I could smell Mom's homemade blueberry pie. Brooks has a way of reaching into the psyche of the lost and lonely Northern girl and making her real to even those teens who run around in flip-flops and shorts year round. Brooks goes to the heart of "every" girl and her novels hold a place in mine. Noreen and her Pembine Lake are not so much different from the lakes and people of Upper Michigan. People like me. When time allows I plan to collect the rest of her YA novels and curl up for a Martha Brooks' weekend read-a-thon.

All for tonight. I received my review books for VOYA and Library Media Connection so I need to put them in order by review due date and maybe start reading before I crash. Tomorrow morning is the NYTimes!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

My first day without bandages on my fingers as the blisters have gone down. They still look awful and won't bend much, but I decided to give them some air this a.m. Mainly because I am out of bandages and will wait until my noon break to run up to Walgreen's to buy more. What is bugging me now that the pain has eased is that my nails are way past needing to be done and there is no way I can handle someone holding my left hand to do my nails right now. Aren't I ever vain? Will have to hide my hands during The Music Man at the Opera House tomorrow night. I am sure I will enjoy this more than the Revival of Queen we saw a couple of weeks ago. I didn't even know who Freddie Mercury was so I had no idea how good the impersonator was until I watched a bit of the live concert of Queen DVD of Steve's. I recognized TV commercial (I want it all) and football game music (Another one bites the dust!) and had no idea those were part of Queen songs. Hey - I was raising little kids back then, not listening to rock music. I looked around me in amazement as bald headed guys were playing air guitar along with their teenage sons. Was an unusual crowd for the Opera House and then some - first time I have ever seen them allow drinks into the theater - guess they were trying to make it feel like a concert. A group of women were waving their cell phones back and forth like lighters from back when. I am sure I will feel more at home with The Music Man crowd. :-)

While going through some old books in my office at ECU I came across a copy of Tomie de Paola's Fin M'Coul: The Giant of Knockmany Hill published in the 1980s and remembered the giant he fooled was Cucullin - the very same legendary warrior from Holly Bennett's The Warrior's Daughter. No mention of Fin M'Coul dressed as an infant giant besting Cucullin, spelled Cuchulainn, in Bennett's YA novel. :-) No surprise as the narrator is the warrior's daughter, Luaine, who has inherited strength from both her warrior father and strong willed mother to endure great hardship when she is wed to the king who wants her father's lands, not her. He sends his poet out to curse her with words and a poisoned shard of glass. But Druid powers beyond the king's control save Luaine and he will rue the day he tried to kill her. The pronunciation guide is great fun - I sat and sounded out the names, and discovered I wasn't saying them right in my head, but that didn't matter - I was wrapped up in this wonderful retelling of an Irish legend. Loved this book, but still favor Bennett's Bonemender series. Although I loved all three, I think younger teens will like The Bonemender's Oath the best as it is a fast paced adventure about Gabrielle's 11 and 13 year old niece and nephew being stolen by pirates. The bonemender, her brother and her elf husband chase after the pirates and find the children but it will take every ounce of healing power Gabrielle has to save them.

It is a beautiful sunny day in Lexington and I am looking forward to getting out of the house for a bit as I figure I can actually handle the steering wheel on the car today. :-) Might even stop at Half Price Books! Not like I need more books, but I am addicted to that store.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

It is a gloomy cool day but we are headed for Keeneland to watch a few races this afternoon. I bet by the name of the horse, not the statistics so I never win, but it is fun. Steve is off running errands this morning while I slowly get myself going. It is even slower than usual the last few days as I had yet another accident with my hands. I thought it was just my right hand as last spring I sliced my middle finger open and about passed out from it, but didn't go to the hospital - found a butterfly bandage and "sucked it up". Then a month or so later I burned my index finger on that hand with melted wax from a mug that was not supposed to go in the microwave. Again, I didn't go to the hospital. So when the tea kettle lid fell off and boiling water poured over my left hand I screamed bloody murder and stuck it under cold water and then in a bag of ice. I was sitting there in a bit of a daze, and even watched a taped episode of NCIS before I gave in and Steve took me to the ER. By that time my fingers were swelling and the doc hands me a little packet of KY Jelly and tells me if I can't get my wedding rings off, they will have to cut them off. Well, that wasn't going to happen so again I yodeled, with tears rolling down my face, as I dragged my rings over the burned finger. Then I kept harping at Steve about where they were until we got home. I never take my rings off, except to clean them, so I was not a happy camper about taking them off. Who knows when I can put them back on as the biggest blister, which has yet to pop, is on my ring finger. I also ended up with tetanus shot in my right arm so that aches. But, I do have this wonderful white goo to slather the fingers in and lovely loopy pills to help with the pain so I am surviving, even if I can only type with my index finger and thumb on my left hand.

The funny (not ha-ha kind) part was that I was boiling water to make a Cup "O Soup as I had oral surgery Weds. a.m. to have the implant screw for the crown to replace the molar that had to be pulled and my mouth was hurting and I couldn't open it very far. So, when my doc called Thursday to check on me I told him what happened and he said, " Only to you Ruth!" He is so right. If it all didn't hurt so dang much it would be the ha-ha kind of funny.

The good news is that I received my paperwork from Vanderbilt for my appointment on June 19th with Dr. Boomershine. Don't ya just love his name? :-) I looked into a fibromyalgia study going on here in Lexington but my neurologist told me exactly what he thought of that idea - the study is being conducted for the drug company. So, I will be good and wait to see the specialist.

Since I couldn't type at all the first day I read a lovely children's book - Listening for Crickets by David Gifaldi. Lovely, but sad. I picked it up because of the attractive cover. I did think that it was going to be about an Asian young boy though by the coloration of the boy's face and hair. I didn't notice the big ear (only half his face is shown) until I had finished the book and re-examined the cover. I love the visual tidbits you catch after reading. Ten-year-old Jake has ears like a bat and has to go to special reading classes so he is teased in school. But that doesn't stop him from becoming a bit of a walking encyclopedia of bat facts, which he shares regularly. Things are home are even worse as his father is a sometimes violent alcoholic, who uses words as a weapon more often than his fists. Money is tight and Jake and his little sister Cassie share a bedroom. When their parents argue at night Jake makes up wonderful stories for Cassie so that they can concentrate on something besides angry voices. And then he builds them their very own Dragon's Nest, by cutting out a hiding place in the hedge between their home and the elderly Mrs. P next door, who Jake helps out with her cats. One more lost job and the dad goes over the edge and it is Mrs. P who saves the day. I love books where an elderly character takes a child under his/her wing to give them a safe haven. A must have book in every elementary school. I did cringe when I read about the reading program - dotted books and computerized tests - that Jake was involved in, but I loved his LEP teacher for her realization that Jake did well with audiobooks. Gifaldi is a 5th grade teacher and his knowledge of what occurs in an elementary classroom in dead on the money.

Tired of pecking at this keyboard so I shall end this now. Y'all keep your fingers crossed I don't fall down the bleachers at the track or something stupid like that today! I have always been accident prone, but this is ridiculous!!

Saturday, April 05, 2008

It is Saturday night and I am sitting in a hotel room in Greenville, wishing I were home, but I did get a lot of work done in my ECU office today. Good heavens it is cold in there though! You walk around the corner toward my office and the temperature drops dramatically. When I wasn't busy moving books around, I was freezing my bippy and sitting on a heated blanket. I do love it in that office in the winter though - the heat is as high as the air conditioning is! Before I left, there were 12 boxes of books and a pile of other books (ran out of boxes!) to go to the Teacher Resource Center so that my students can request them! The cool thing about the LS Program at ECU is that, although it is online, our students can request any print materials they want from the library and the library pays for the postage there and back. This way they can see a copy of the book and can then order it for their own library or personal collection. :-)

I have a new laptop so maybe I can catch up on my Yahoo email. Mine died a couple of weeks ago and Steve has been tolerating me using his. I have over 700o messages to deal with. The problem is I am "addicted" to Adbook and YALSA-BK so I can't just delete them. I have to browse each message and sometimes I can't resist answering. So, that slows me down big time.

I noticed we are going to be talking about Alex Flinn's Beastly on Adbook. I love this modern retelling of the Beauty and the Beast tale. It has always been one of my favorite fairy tales as I love cats. :-) And, I was a big Beauty and the Beast TV show series fan in the 1980s. Who would have thought the feminine looking female in that series, Linda Hamilton, would be the buff woman in The Terminator movie? Once I catch up on some email I hope I can get involved in the discussion!

I am currently reading Holly Bennett's The Warrior's Daughter. I am a major fan of Bennett's The Bonemender andThe Bonemender's Oath so I was delighted to see a copy of her new book in my mail at ECU. So, I am immersed in the wonderful Celtic story of Luaine, the daughter of the legendary warrior, Cuchulainn, and his strong willed wife Emer, who stood proudly before him when he returned from war, still savaged by the war rage within. The tale begins when Luaine is but seven so I am in the midst of her tale - she is about to reach the puberty. I am loving the idea of a feared Druid priest befriending the young girl and his raven, Fintan deciding she is his new mistress. I cannot tell you what happens as I am still in the middle of the tale, but I am loving it. I noticed The Grey Veil is her next book. Can't wait!! Not all U.S. librarians are aware of the wonderful authors who are published by Orca, such as Bennett.

I am exhausted, but in reality, I am happy. I have a great life with a wonderful husband and great daughters and grandkids. I had someone ask me if I succumbed to the depression that happens to many people who have fibromyalgia. Well, I think it has to do with realizing that I am so fortunate in my life. I am listening to The Starter Wife, which has been made into a TV movie with the actress from Will & Grace, and I thought about how much better my life is than the millionaires who are miserable in Hollywood! Not that I wouldn't like to try having that kind of money for a few months, but money does not bring happiness. I have to admit I am laughing aloud as I listen to this ridiculous novel of a woman who was married to a Hollywood up and comer for close to 10 years - anything before 10 means - a starter wife. So, here she is, 41 years old, growing hair in places she didn't know she could, and living alone in a her friend's Malibu beachfront home, getting upset because the rude neighbors are letting their dogs poop anywhere, including right where she steps. I have reached the point where she almost drowns in a kayaking attempt and is saved by a man who she is now infatuated with. She has no idea he is homeless! So, tomorrow's trip home should prove to be interesting.

All for today. Time for a shower and Tylenol PM. Yes, I have caught Steve's virus! Hopefully I will wake up tomorrow morning feeling a whole lot better. Just talked to Steve and he and Ron stayed up until 4 a.m. playing cards last night! Sophie must be wondering why Daddy is staying up so late and why a strange man is staying in the extra room while Mommy is gone. Can't wait to cuddle with my cat, shedding or not!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The last time I posted I was scraping ice off the windshield and today I am watching daffodils sway in the breeze. Just the few days we were in Kansas City for Steve's Dad's funeral the neighbors have been busy bringing signs of Spring to their yards. It will be a bit before Steve gets any yard work done as he caught a nasty flu in KC and is in bed with it. With both the KC and Detroit flights delayed and him with the chills and running a fever it was a long trip! Then I had to drive home from Cincinnati and I hate driving in the dark.

We were able to see the granddaughters for a few minutes before the funeral, but missed out on a planned day at the dinosaur themed restaurant so Ally and Kady could build their own stuffed dinosaur. Kind of like Build a Bear places. Steve was too sick to get out of bed and he sure didn't need to give the flu to the rest of the family. Ally, who is 5, is sure Grampa is going to take her to ride a real horse when they come visit in July so Steve has to make sure that occurs. She wasn't even excited that our subdivision's pool is very close to us - she wants horses!! Kady has the most beautiful big brown eyes and she just looked at us and didn't say a word, but she did let Steve carry her around for a bit.

I am fighting Steve's flu with the chills and then sweats but I am still, hopefully, leaving for Greenville tomorrow and coming home Sunday. Steve has a friend coming down for the weekend to go to the opening days of horse racing at Keeneland so he won't even know I am gone. Hopefully Ron won't get the flu from him while he is here.

I have gotten hooked on easy crossword puzzles while sitting in the airport and on the planes so have done less reading than I normally do during trips, but I did finish Mary E. Pearson's The Adoration of Jenna Fox. What an incredible book! For those of you who know me well, I will just say I sobbed with understanding at the conclusion of this book. Jenna was once the driven- to-please-them 17-year-old daughter of a bioscientist father and home renovator mother, but now she isn't sure what she is. Are you human if only a small percentage of your brain is your own? How much do you need for it to still retain your soul? Lots of mind bending questions addressed in this riveting science fiction (at least for now) novel set in a time when genetic alteration and brain controlled artificial body parts are common place. Jenna wakes up after a car accident in which her two best friends died, but they still keep calling to her. She is in a new home and her grandmother Lily is living with them and seems to dislike Jenna. Jenna cannot remember if this was the case before the accident or not as her memory is slow in returning. Her parents have always been protective, at least she thinks so, but this level of surveillance is intensive, even to the point of going out into the yard. With time Jenna will be allowed to go to school, but a very small charter school where she will meet other teens who are missing parts, physical or emotional, just as she is. An incredible novel that will niggle naggle at me for a long time. I don't talk to Steve about every YA novel I read but I have been talking to him about this one as it has me thinking about how selfish I am in relation to how I care for the world around me. Would be a great book for HS Biology classes to read and discuss.

On the "sassy" reading front I finished Christine Feehan's Night Game, another one of her paranormal romances - this time between the Cajun sweet talker Gator and Flame, the young woman who escaped from the laboratory where she was injected with cancer cells for experimentation. Both are Ghostwalkers with paranormal powers - these two can control sound waves, but they can't control the physical attraction for each other - of course! This is a steamy romance novel after all. This one did get a bit much toward the end, but I love the science part of this series. However, I won't be recommending them to teen readers, although I am sure many teens are reading these as they are Feehan's vampire series.

Lots to do today before I pack for the trip to Greenville - will leave first thing in a a.m. as it is a long drive and these days I need to get out often to stretch my aching muscles. The planes about kill me. Will be a rough drive as I can't take the strong painkillers when I drive. I am more than a little bit disgusted with the UK Rheumatology clinic here in Lexington as I waited for over a month to get an appointment and then was told that I was not "sick enough" for them to take me. A friend here in Lex, Amber, recommended Vanderbilt and she is so right. A real person answered the phone and explained that my GP had to call to set up the first appointment but that yes, the fibromyalgia specialist would take me as a new patient. What a difference from the many, many, many phone calls to the UK clinic where I only got voice mail. So, I have my fingers crossed I will get in to see him soon - about a 4 1/2 drive from here, but well worth it as I have had no luck with finding a local doctor.

All for today.