Saturday, May 31, 2008

An overcast but warm day in the lows 80s. We may drive up to the theme park near Cincinnati later today to catch the last few hours and see the fireworks. Tomorrow is the Lexmark day but Steve will be golfing and I will be enjoying my NYTimes and chick flicks.

This picture is of a beach on Tobago. I finally got my pics loaded to my computer. Had to find the camera in my mess of an office. I wasn't crazy about Tobago at all, but I do love the scenery of this island - very hilly.
Stve and I began our relationship because we both love the ocean and islands. Yesterday was our 6th anniversary. We were married barefoot on the beach - Steve in an aloha shirt and me in a little white dress with flowers in my hair. I'd put up a picture but I have no idea where the CD of wedding pics is - besides, I would just get depressed seeing myself in that little white dress that I couldn't get into now if I tried. They say men gain weight when happily married - women do too!
We stayed at one of the most beautiful and romantic resorts in the Caribbean - the Cuisanart Resort. Lots more expensive now then it was 6 years ago!

Finished reading Maryrose Wood's why i let my hair grow out. What a wonderful mix of realism and fantasy, set in one of the most fantastical places in the world - Ireland. Sixteen year old Morgan is dumped by her egocentric boyfriend Raph and goes into a tailspin, giving herself a buzz cut and then dying in orange stripes. This freaks her parents out, who decide what Morgan needs is a week long biking tour in Ireland. The way she's been acting, this vacation is as much for her parents and little sister as it is for Morgan - they need a break from her too. The bike tour idea doesn't seem all that bad when the hottie tour host, Colin, picks her up at the airport. Another great looking Irish dude enters her life when she purposely leaves behind her helmet and her riding partner and heads up what she doesn't realize is fairy road. Morgan wipes out big time and wakes up in Long Ago Ireland, where she is Morganne with long strawberry blonde hair and the waited for "savior" who is supposed to end the fairy curses that are raising havoc. The hunky dude, Fergus, who finds her has an uncanny resemblence to Colin. :-) Morgan moves back and forth between her modern day bike trip and her budding relationship with Colin, to the past where she must solve a riddle to rid the kingdom of the fairy curse. This is a fekking funny book! Hey - watch your language, as Morgan's mother would say! A gotta read book. Can't wait to booktalk it. Morgan has a wickedly sly sense of humor. I agree with the B&N reader review - Wickedly Radd Book!

Can't wait to read the sequel where Colin plays a major role - How I Found the Perfect Dress. It is sitting on my bedside table just waiting for me. :-)

A really cool nonfiction title I am reading in bits and pieces - the way many of us read nonfiction - is 50 Ways to Save the Earth by Anne Jankeliowitch, with photographs by Philippe Bourseiller, a new Abrams title. The color photographs are stunning and look great on heavy slick paper. A double page spread, with at least one color photograh, address each of the 50 ways we can help save the Earth. The hints that precede the text are directed at young readers, such as asking their parents to put a brick or bottle filled with sand in tank so flushing the toilet uses less water. Did you know we drink only 1% of the water used in our homes? A third of it is used to flush the toilet. When we lived on St. Thomas we used cistern water for everything but drinking. We often took "camp showers"- turning off the water while you soap up your hair and body, etc. If you run out of the rain water in the cistern you then buy it, and it isn't cheap. We really cut back on paper products too - used cloth napkins at all times. I went back to paper napkins and using paper towels, but just purchased more cloth napkins. Every little bit helps. A must have book for every level library and I plan on using it as a "coffee table" book that guests can pick up and browse through again and again.

On to other things.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Decided I was tired of the orange and changed the blog over to ECU colors - purple. We'll see how long that lasts before I decide to change it again, now that I know how to do it. And, I'll add some pictures when I find my camera and the adaptor to download the pictures. My office is a disaster area!
Finally got my favorite picture posted to my profile. It was taken in my office at ECU with me surrounded by children's and YA books. Pretty much what my home office looks like too.

The birds woke me before 6 a.m. Half asleep, reaching for his first Diet Coke out of the fridge, Steve mutters at me, "Why are you awake?" Guess he thought I was going to fuss at him about his cacophony of snoring that either keeps me awake or sends me fleeing to the extra bedroom. But, he must have woke up a bit more shortly after as I was sitting in bed reading a review book for VOYA when he "galloped" across the bedroom in his undies. I asked him what the heck the deal was with that - he told me it was his jockey shorts, of course! See what happens when you live in horse racing country! Let's just say life with Steve is never boring, even at 6 a.m. in the morning!

Am starting to recuperate from our trip to Detroit last week. We drove up late Thursday afternoon and hit rush hour traffic in Cincinnati and Dayton so we didn't get in until after 11:00. We got about 45 minutes without rain the whole trip so I was chilled and achy from getting out in the rain for pit stops. Thank goodness for the heated seats in my Santa Fe. I'd never have another car without them. Now to find a lap blanket with a car plug in. Steve was using the GPS and what a pain as we took 75 straight up and it kept telling us to get off at every exit. He had it set up to avoid freeways. I had to laugh at the "caution!" quip every time he was speeding! I am surprised he didn't turn that off. We had a great time at the festivities at the Birmingham Country Club, thanks to an invite from Microsoft. Steve's team came in first at the tournament so he came home happy - a free driver and putter, with selection help from the club pro. I won't even talk about getting lost on the way back to the club for dinner - I saw parts of Detroit I didn't want to see!!

Down side - we didn't get to see my brother, his wife or my niece. I made the mistake of trying to lift a box of books into the house before we left and I woke up Saturday so sore I could hardly breathe and exhausted. So we came straight home - I dozed off and on the whole way and spent the rest of the weekend in bed. Can't wait to get in to the specialist next month. I am so tired of hurting and being exhausted. I had never even heard of fibromyalgia 6 months ago - well, I sure know what it is, first hand!!

I am listening to Blue Smoke by Nora Roberts. (Thanks Diane!) Great book that I think teenage girls would love as it starts out with the main character, Rena Hale, at age eleven when she is the first to see the fire engulf their family restaurant. Due to this traumatic event, she plans to become an arson investigator. I am at the point where she is in college and the son of the arsonist, who had attacked her when he was only twelve, has been released from prison and is out for revenge. He has a love of fire and the sound of crackling human flesh as it burns. I couldn't help but vocally voice my opinion about that scene while driving home from the mall. The people in the cars around me must have wondered what I was carrying on about and why I had such a grossed out look on my face. Anyway, I am loving this suspense romance. Haven't read on her books in years.

I remember back in the early 90s when I took a YA Literature course from Betty Carter at TWU as part of my Ph.D. program and we read Killing Mr. Griffith, which was made into a movie. After reading it, I did my booktalking session for that course on thrillers. Ever since then I have been a Lois Duncan triller fan and one of my favorites is Gallows Hill It came out in 1997 and is only available in paperback now but I watched a movie, during my Sunday morning wallowing in the NYTimes and movies, with a plot that sounded very familiar, I've Been Waiting for You. The credits note that it is indeed based on Duncan's Gallows Hill. And, as per usual, the book is much better. I became fascinated with Duncan as an author and the types of books she writes after reading her autobiographical Who Killed My Daughter? In 1989, Duncan's college age daughter was shot and killed while driving home in Albuquerque, NM. After getting little help from the police, consulting psychics, and hiring a private investigator, Duncan learned her naive daughter had gotten caught up in an Asian drug ring due to her boyfriend. I read the book well over 10 years ago, but I remember crying while I read it. A quick browse of her web site will give you an idea of how many YA novels she has written, if you aren't already aware of this well known YA author.

I finished Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games and am impatiently waiting for the next book, even though this one won't hit the bookstores until September 2008. Fantastic book! The teens who love virtual reality war type games (the ones that take skill and aren't just gory) will really get into this book as it recruits 13 pairs of teens, ages 12 - 18, and pits them against each other in a broadcasted battle for their lives. The rich viewers can bet on their favorites and send "gifts" to help them out - like water or medication - in this case a salve to heal a nasty burn on sixteen-year-old Katniss' leg. If you don't find yourself rooting out loud for Katniss while reading this book, I will be surprised. I woke up Sophie with my whoop of support when she survived an ambush. Anyone who says reading or listeing to a book is a passive act, has never been around me when I am interacting with a book. Passive - my fanny! Scholastic is releasing Hunger Games in audiobook format at the same time, so there's another option for the teenagers who don't read but have ear buds in at all times.

I'll end today's post with a really fun graphic novel style picture book for the elementary age (well - any age person who loves super heroes - even dinosaur ones) boys who aren't ready yet for the adult level superhero graphic novels/comics. Following up the popular 2005 Captain Raptor and the Moon Mystery, Kevin O'Malley and Patrick O'Brien join forces again with the 2007 Captain Raptor and the Space Pirates Walker has published both and they should readily accessible as the second one was published last summer, but I wanted to talk about it now as schools are creating summer reading lists. This is a great one to add for 2nd and 3rd grade. The boys will love a dinosaur superhero in space. I was chuckling aloud at the pirate jargon used by Bloody Bart Scalawag, the pirate captain who tries to trick our superhero, but he is no match for the brawn and wits of Captain Raptor. Way cool books!!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Time is going by too fast! The last two weeks were a blur of grading, reading student portfolios and grant applications. The end of the semester is always extremely busy.

I wasn't able to go to the department gathering for our graduating students, or the College of Education ceremony last Friday, as I was in Washington, DC on an IMLS grant review panel. What an interesting but exhausting experience. Had the opportunity to meet and chat with wonderful librarians and LS faculty from all over the country. But the all day meeting, 3 hours in the DC airport, and getting home at 11:30 Friday night did me in. I was in bed most of the weekend. Didn't even have the energy to go out for Mother's Day dinner. Mary send a wonderful edible fruit arrangement that was yummy and Steve helped me set up the new ice tea maker he gave me. I am supposed to be weaning myself off of Diet Coke, both high octane and unleaded. So, I'll start with weak regular tea and move on to herbal as my carbonated soda addiction eases.

The coolest Mother's Day gift was a small filbert tree. I kept pointing them out to Steve at Lowe's as they have gnarled and twisted trunks and are so cute. When Steve told me my other gift was in the driveway I knew it wasn't a new car as I love my Santa Fe, but I was intrigued as I headed for the front door to look. I am delighted with the tree - now to decide where to have him plant it. I am the planting supervisor these days.

Steve's brother is in town for a few days and the three of us went to a minor league baseball game last night. The Legends are based in Lexington and though they aren't the greatest, they were quite good last night and it was a fun game to watch. Part of the fun is the sound effects and silliness of the announcer. I enjoy these more than the major league games, just as I enjoyed the minor league hockey games we used to go to in Houston. I'd scream myself hoarse by the time the game was over. There were lots of pop-ups last night that went over the roof and Steve kept teasing me that he could hear my car alarm when one went over. We were parked in the closest lot so I wondered. I knew I had reason to worry when we were in the parking lot about to get in the car and a ball hit the car next to us, just missing Rich by a few feet and way too close to my car. I haven't gone out yet to see if I have any dents on mine!

Just finished listening to Robin Cook's Abduction. The review on B&N aren't great: and I have to agree with them. I was glad I listened to an abridged version a friend lent to me as I was getting bored with it as it was. It is basically an Atlantis type story about a female scientist, the company owner, two very crude divers, and a ex-Navy commander whose small exploratory sub is sucked into the undersea world because the inhabitants are concerned about the drilling going on near them. The inhabitants are human-like but when they are tired of the genetically created human bodies, they die and their "essence" is added to a new body that isn't allow out of incubation until age four. A creepy book, but not creepy enough to keep most readers involved, even the most avid Robin Cook fans and I am not one of them. Unless you are addicted to Atlantis type stories - skip this one.

However, don't skip Craig Crist-Evans' Amaryllis, a coming of age YA novel set during the Vietnam Era. The Amaryllis is a real ship that ran aground on the Florida coastline near West Palm Beach in 1965. The setting is that of the author's teenage years of skipping school and surfing in the very area the two brothers in this book surf. But, Jimmy is left to watch the bulk of the ship rust in the salty sea are while Frank, he eighteen-year-old brother's feet rot in the jungles of Vietnam and his mind rots from an escalating addiction to heroin. Frank's fear of the Viet Cong and his decent into drug addition are chronicled in his letters to fifteen-year-old Jimmy who is left behind to deal with his drunken and often abusive father. Jimmy shares these letters with Sally and they form a bond as Jimmy learns to accept the realities of his home life and his fears if Frank will ever come home. The last couple of chapters I read through tears that silently slipped down my cheeks as I grieved for this younger brother with so much of the world on his shoulders in a time where the whole world seemed to have gone crazy to many young Americans. Hmmm. How many younger brothers today are watching the surf in Florida or other places they spent time with older brothers and wonder if they will come home from the Middle East. Bluntly - war sucks - no matter what generation it tears apart.

I can't leave things on such a downer, so I will close with Dear Deer: A Book of Homophone by Gene Barretta. The text is a delight, but what makes this book a chuckle out loud experience are the zoo animals Barretta has created to accompnay the text. The moose with reading glasses for "the moose loved mouse. He ate eight bowl" has a bib on to keep himself clean from the pink (strawberry flavored?) treats he is eating. Little ones will be counting the bowls. I love this moose just as much as the one in Fred Gwynne's A Chocolate Moose for Dinner that was published in 1976 and still available. I read this one to my own kids - I think I laughed more than they did. But, I have to admit, my favorite illustration of Barretta's is of the tiniest critter of the bunch - a flea that is sitting on a leaf with a thermometer in his mouth and a hot water bottle on his head. "The bee flew away from the flea with the flu. And the bee can be sure that if he had the flu the flea would flee, too." The text is in large print with the homophones in bold face, making it easy for the adult reading this aloud to emphasize them, or for the older reader to pick them out on his/her own. A gotta have book for every elementary school collection and one that can also be used with tweens and teens as a starter fun writing activities.

All for today. This is my "week off" but need to get back to getting course documents ready. We are leaving for Detroit on Thursday afternoon. Steve is playing in a Microsoft golf tournament on Friday and then we are going to visit my older brother Bob in Kalamazoo. :)