Sunday, October 26, 2008

What a beautiful sunny day after the rain. Slept in this a.m. after our late night out at the Sugarland concert. We decided to have dinner downtown so parking would be easy. Guess we weren't the only ones as there was an hour wait at D'Shea's and a long line at Sawyer's, where we did eat. I am not crazy about the place as it is cafeteria style, but that isn't the reason we won't be returning soon. The first time we ate there the food was not too bad - last night - YUCK! They have won awards for their burgers but mine was more like dry overcooked beef scraped off the grill in chunks. I ordered the homemade chips and they were literally soft and extremely greasy. Perhaps it was because of the concert that the food was so bad - they couldn't keep up with the crowd. But, what a waste of calories.

We got to our seats early and I was really disappointed with my poor choice - I didn't realize we were so far to the side even though I do remember looking at the seating chart. It was a sold out show so the arena was crowded by the time Sugarland hit the stage - after a opening act where the sound system made the young solo singer sound like she was screeching. Kelly Pickler was next and not too bad - very energetic and cute. There was a very long intermission as they got ready to film the rest of the concert. Even though we only got an hour and 1/2 of Sugarland they were at their best due to the videotaping. Everyone, except Steve who was there only because of me, were on their feet for the entire concert, singing along. The couple next to us were so cute - arms around each other and singing along. Steve saw just what he could between the folks in front of us as I only got him to stand up once to check out the backdrop scenery. I guess he had to get the "bad taste" of country music out of his ears as he turned on a Dave Matthews concert as soon as we got home. I was happy but exhausted from being on my feet, dancing and singing along with most every song and left him to his music to read for a bit. I wasn't letting "sit-down- Steve" dampen my fun! :-)

As many of you know who read my blog - I am a big fantasy reader. I have to make sure I read a fair amount of other genres - otherwise I'd read all the fantasy on my shelves first. I treated myself to a Judith Tarr feast of a read - Bring Down the Sun It certainly was not the cover art that drew me into the book as I find the gaunt looking woman with a snake wrapped around her body quite unappealing. However, the main character in this fictional biography of Alexander the Great's mother is lush and sensual. It begins with young Polyxena chafing at the bonds that hold her as an accolade to the temple of the Mother. Her dreams are of a magical and sensual nature and she wishes her bed warmed by the man/animal gods that frequent them. She finds her match, both in bed, and in a battle of wills and intellect, in King Philip of Macedon. She accepts his new name for her, Mrytale, after they mate, he in the form of the Bull of Minos, as they celebrate the Mystery. Lusting for each other, Myrtale soon is wed to Philip and keeps him in her bed (he has other wives) with her assertive manner. Although this book does not pull any punches as to the lusty nature of Polyxena/Myrtale, it is not graphic and the language used is not offensive. As fascinating as their relationship is to read about, there is also the drama of the young witch who wishes to lure Myrtale and her extensive magical powers to the dark side. Myrtale, renamed yet again by Philip as Olympias when she gives birth to Alexander, is able to vanquish the witch and her coven, with the help of her aunt, a priestess of the Mother. Tarr's writing is crisp, yet as lush in style as the ancient setting, and graciously carried me through this ancient world of love and intrigue as I rooted for Alexander's strong-willed mother, knowing full well she is as wicked in her own way as the venomous snake who was born and raised against the warmth of her body. A deliciously spicy and flavorful read. Tarr does not write for teens, but older teens who read fantasy, historical fiction, or mythology will savor this author's writing. They may also find it very cool that she breeds Lipizzan horses. Great horse pics on her web site: How she finds the time to be such a prolific author of thoroughly researched historical/fantasy fiction as well as raise horses is beyond me, but sure impresses me!

May seem like an usual book to partner with the above, but as determined as Polyxena/Myrtale/Olmpias was to live life to its fullest, Emily Dickinson was determined to be a recluse and certainly would not have savored political intrigue as does Tarr's fictional creation of this women of power. In her own way, Dickinson is as powerful as lines from her poems are a part of our lives, often without us even knowing it. I picked up the Kids Can Press copy of Emily Dickinson: My letter to the World and other Poems with illustrations by Isabelle Arsenault because of the haunting, lonely quality of the cover illustration of Dickinson. Arsenault captures the melancholy of this gifted poet. As I was reading the 7 poems, starkly, but accurately, illustrated I thought of how to get even the boys reading this poetry with this line - "I felt a funeral, in my Brain," Very mysterious and spooky and Halloween is a perfect time to introduce Dickinson's "death" poems. There are other titles in the Visions in Poetry series besides this one - from Casey at the Bat to Jabberwocky. Perfect for upper elementary and up poetry collections, but add this one to your Halloween books display!

All for today.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The reds and yellows don't look as intense in the picture as they did in "real life". This picture was taken overlooking the golf course at the Oak Brook Hills Marriott Resort in Illinois (outside of Chicago).

The AASL Fall Forum was wonderful. Not only did I learn a great deal, including some cool stuff about TRAILS (information literacy assessment tool for HS) I had a chance to catch up with colleagues and friends. The best of all was time spent with Carol Truett, who had been my advisor and mentor when I completed my MLIS at the U of Hawaii-Manoa back in the mid 1980s. She is now teaching at Appalachian State and I am at East Carolina U. We both ended up in North Carolina. It is a small world.

As much as I enjoyed the Forum I am glad to be home. Didn't really recuperate well from the trip to Savannah and the late nights and long hours of sitting added to the pain levels. I am off to see an acupuncturist here in Lexington this afternoon who works with fibromyalgia sufferers. I have every digit crossed those little needles will help as I am sitting with a heating pad on my back and just dealing with the pain as I didn't want to take anything before my first appointment with him. All I can say is OUCH!!

Was reading People magazine (10/27/08 issue) and had to chuckle over the Books section. I'd like to say that is the reason I subscribe to this pop culture/media/entertainment magazine, but it isn't. I also love the music section and the pics of the celebrity dresses. I tend to live in jeans and T-shirts, but I do love to look at fashion. Anyway, in the Books section there is a 4 star review of Alice Shroeder's biography of the filthy rich investor - The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life , which I really want to read, and beneath it is a section called Halloween Treat - three children's books. I find it fascinating that both Entertainment Weekly and People both frequently review and address children's and YA titles. That was not the case, at least with any regularity, before the Harry Potter and Twilight series made children's and YA titles "suitable" reading for adults. I love it! And, I need to find a copy of Ghost Files: The Haunting Truth by Eugene Yelchin and Mary Kuryla-Yelchin, which was on of the higlighted books. This is a HarperCollins summer 2008 publication so it is readily available. It is all about the Ghost Society and how you can communicate with the other side.

I guess I am in the Halloween spirit (play on words!) since I just finished Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book yesterday. I liked it very much and I think younger teens/tweens who like ghost stories will enjoy this. It just didn't have the eerie quality I loved about Coraline that I so loved. Older teens who enjoy Gaiman's YA and adult novels may well enjoy Gaiman's latest as Bod's encounters with ghouls and a razor sharp knife welding man named Jack will keep their attention.

Staying in the ghost/Halloween mood, I am almost finished with Lois Ruby's The Secret of Laurel Oaks. The chapters written from the 1840's ghost Daphne's point of view are quite spooky and I am glad I am reading it during my early a.m. reading time. Daphne had been accused of the poisoning death of the two daughters of the plantation owner and she is trying to clear her name. Lily is the living human teen whose family is staying at the haunted Louisiana mansion, now a bed and breakfast, and who Daphne turns to for assistance in "saving the bebes". However, there is another ghost in the mansion who is determined to stop both Daphne and Lily. I have a feeling I am going to want to read the chapter about how Daphne died after the sun comes out in the morning! You may recognize Lois Ruby's name from another of he historical works Steal Away Home set in the 1850's about another house that hides the secrets of a long dead slave girl. Wonderful mysteries for younger teens.

That's it for today.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Hello from Oak Brook, IL. I am at the Marriott for the AASL Fall Forum and have a gorgeous view of the golf course. The trees are in their Autumn glory - what a sight to see. I almost (note, almost) wish I knew how to golf as I watched the golfers out on the course. Had to call Steve to rub it in that he isn't up golfing on this beautiful course and he rubbed right back by telling me that there were more race watchers out at Keeneland than he had ever seen. He was betting on the last race and I got to bet over the phone. I hope Sweet Relish and Grizzly Lady win us money. I pick horses by their names and rarely ever win anything but my $2 bet back, but it is fun.

Don't know what the deal was at O'Hare but what a fiasco getting into the terminal. We deplaned onto the tarmac and had to share the narrow walkway and stairwell with passengers headed to another plane. Almost got knocked down the stairs once and was not happy to be hauling my rolling carry on and heavy bag with my computer and "stuff" up those stairs. My back is not happy so I am sitting on the bed with the heating pad. Obviously, they weren't doing too well with their scheduling of smaller planes this afternoon. The ride out from the airport wasn't too bad other than being a bit nervous because the driver couldn't find the address on her GPS. But, the view from this room made up for all that. :-)

I finally finished Breaking Dawn, the last of the Twilight series early this morning. It sure dragged for what seemed like over 100 pages as they prepared for the Voltari to show up for a potential battle to the "death". For those of you who have not read it yet, read on with caution. I know this is the last in the series, but Meyer left things wide open for a future series based on Jacob and Renesmee. I think I may be more interested in reading about the future of their "kind" than I was angsty Bella who sure got on my nerves. Jacob and the rest of the shape-shifters kept my interest enough to finish the series. And, for those of you who just can't let Bella and Edward's story go, Meyer has one more tidbit for you - The Twilight Saga: The Official Guide. It will hit stores in December, just in time to give it as a present to all of the Twlight fans on your gift list. And, if you go to this Barnes and Noble link, you can also watch a video of Meyer talking about her books.

Now on to a really cool book! I started Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book. Gaiman has taken a character from one of his short stories, Nobody Owen, and expanded the story of a boy growing up in graveyard into a middle school novel with some really cool line drawings to enhance the reading experience. I have just begun the book but I was actually irritated that my doctor was on time yesterday morning as I was quite content sitting in the waiting room reading it. Of course, it was the one time I didn't have to sit in the examing room for "hours" waiting once the nurse says the doctor will be right in. Normally that is a "yeah right!" and a good junk of reading time, but this time she walked in before I could find my place in the book again. Bod (Nobody's nickname) had just been rescued from a very scary encounter with the ghouls (one of whom was a past president!) who planned to kill him and let his body decay enough for good eating. I really wanted to keep reading.

I also loved Coraline - Gaiman's first deliciously creepy MS/JH level horror novel. I can still close my eyes and see my version of the "other parents" with their button eyes. Gives me the shivers just thinking about them. I can already tell I will not be disappointed by his second MS/JS level novel. Now I am kicking myself that I forgot it on my nightstand when I packed for this trip. See what happens when you have a cat trying to get into your suitcase as you pack - you get distracted from the important stuff - books!

That's all for today. About time to go down to the opening reception and catch up with other school library media colleagues/friends who I only see at conferences.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I fell in love with Savannah - even in the rain! This pic is of one of a Spanish Moss covered tree in one of the many squares that make up historical Savannah. Not many of my pictures came out as it was such miserable weather, but this one does show the green of the square and the lovely grayish green of the moss. I had to chuckle at the sight of an older man holding a handful of moss as his wife was instructing him to put it in the trunk. I didn't check the license plate to see where they were from but if her sprig of moss is as prolific as the moss in Savannah she may wish she hadn't brought it home. I did not bring any to Kentucky!

We had a wonderful time and my favorite part was the carriage ride ghost tour on Friday night. We didn't see any ghosts but got to hear the stories and that was fun as was the ride in the carriage. I even got to ride up front with the guide. What fun - all but the part where I almost fell flat on my butt getting out. No step-down from that seat so I stepped onto the wheel and jumped down. My knees couldn't take the abrupt landing from that height and I almost lost it - Steve kept me from landing in the mushy wet horse poo that decorated the area! Now I want to go back and stay in a haunted B&B, but maybe not the one that is haunted by a lady ghost who doesn't appreciate women staying there and decorated the parlor Christmas tree with their undies. I bought a autographed copy of James Caskey's Haunted Savannah: The Official Guidebook to Savannah Haunted History Tour 2008 This is the link for the 2007 edition, but it is similar: We also ate lunch at the Moon River Brewing Company, which is one of the most haunted buildings in Savannah. We saw no ghosts even though Steve kept teasing me that he saw or heard one! The upstairs is not used because of the high level of ghost activity and the basement has its problems - one of the ghosts likes to open the beer vat taps even though they are locked closed.

Since I was in Greenville last week and then went to Savannah for Fall break I didn't do much reading, but I can say I am "slogging" my way through the 4th book in the Twilight series - Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer. Let's just say I have had my fill of Bella and her antics. Not too keen on the Rosemary's Baby type pregnancy either. I know these books are beloved by many a tween, teen, and adult alike, but I am not a huge fan. I am looking forward to seeing the movie though. My hair dresser asked me if I am an Edward or Jacob fan and I have to go with Jacob. While doing a booktalking session in Louisville the topic came up and I said as a mother I'd rather have my daughter involved with a werewolf than a vampire. What weird conversations YA novels elicit in a group of librarians!

That's it for today.