Saturday, April 17, 2010

A beautiful Saturday and instead of curled up reading in the yard swing I've spent it hobbling around doing laundry as poor Steve has walking pneumonia. A trip to the Kroger clinic and a bad diagnosis - allergies - so by the time he went in to the regular GP he was very sick. Poor guy is covered with blankets and/0r sweating and sounds like he is coughing his lungs up. I've been washing loads of mattress pads, sheets and towels. The doc said it would get worse before it got better and that sure has been the case. I've been popping my vitamins and praying I don't catch it. That's the last thing I need!

Although the appointment isn't until June 1st, I am delighted that my fibromyalgia doc at Vandy got me in to the Vandy neurologist who also has a background with immunology. If she can figure out what is causing this 24/7 headache I'll be one happy camper. I have honestly forgotten what it is like not to have a headache. Perhaps an accurate diagnosis will also explain the elevated heart rate so I won't be so tired. I still think the headache has something to do with the fall down the stairs in Denver as I've never had a headache like this one before. Once they figure this out I can have the knee surgery and start walking as exercise again. I miss being active.

Talked to Mary today. She is recuperating from surgery and has actually had time to read. Her babysitter brought her the Twilight series and she loved it. She acknowledged it got a bit overdone and Bella's too whiny at times but Mary has always love vampire books. She's been reading Feehan's Carpathian Dark vampire series. I've not gotten into it yet but love Feehan's spicy paranormal romance series, The Drake Sisters, The Leopard Series, and the Ghostwalkers series. Half Price Books had a copy of The Only One, , a novella trilogy by Christine Feehan, Susan Grant, and Susan Squires in the $1 rack so, of course, I had to buy it. The Feehan entry Dark Descent is really good. I see why Mary likes these vampire books. I was not impressed with Grant's The Star Queen as I am not a big futuristic/dystopian romance reader. But I was intrigued by Susan Squire's Sacrilege, also a vampire entry. I may just have to look into her books as well. So many books, so little time!! These are my bathtub or vacation books so I buy paperbacks in case I drop them, which I often do, in the water or can leave them behind for someone else to read when I finish them on a plane or by the pool.

I have read all the books but not seen any of the Twilight movies. Even with staying out of the "craze" I realized very quickly that Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater is one to offer to the Team Jacob girls. I have an advance reading copy of Linger,, the sequel, to review but I have had so many of my YA literature students booktalk Shiver this semester that I knew I had to read it first. And, it is good! Very well written - the imagery and the sensations are so well described that you can almost feel the coarseness of Sam's fur when Grace buries her hand in it. And, feel his fear as the cold sets into his bones and he fears morphing into his wolf form in front of Grace. Is this love or obsession? Or, is there a difference? I am about a third of the way through and I have page markers galore so I can go back and read passages. I love Grace's practicality when it comes to others assuming someone takes after their parents. "It seemed you ought to pick the sort of person you would be, no matter what your parents are like." It's a good thing she feels that way as her parents are self absorbed with their professional lives and she pretty much takes care of herself. Being home alone leaves her plenty of time to watch for her wolf - the one with the yellow eyes who stopped the other wolves from tearing her apart when she was a child. She knows those eyes so well that she recognizes them on the naked boy curled up against the patio doors as the wolf who saved her. He was shot by vigilante hunters after the wolves who killed (or so they thought) the son of the wealthiest family in town. A superb book - so much better written than the Meyer's books. A great companion novel to the best YA werewolf book ever written, Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause about a female werewolf. Klause has also written one of the best YA vampire romances, The Silver Kiss Check out the paperback reprint - black background with two red leaves - to draw the eye of the Twilight series readers. Another great YA vampire title is Vivian Vande Velde's Companions of the Night I am hoping this vampire craze will introduce teen readers to the well written vampire/werewolf romances.

I've been a Neal Shusterman fan every since I read Downsiders - a wonderful fantasy about a society of people who have lived for generations underneath New York City in the subterranean tunnels built in the 1860s. They only come Topside at night, when they need something they do not have Downside. Talon ventures Topside to steal antibiotics for his very sick little sister and encounters Lindsay, a lonely teenage girl who is willing to help him. Their friendship blossoms and Talon does the forbidden - taking a Topsider into their world. An superb book that creates a world that is incredibly believable. And, that is what is essential - the suspension of disbelief - so that the author created world becomes real to the reader. Shusterman is a master at creating these worlds. So I entered the world of teenage Brewster without any reservations in Shusterman's newest title, Bruiser. It won't be out until late June but put it on your purchase orders now. Imagine what it would be like to fear caring about anyone because if you do, the emotional and physical pain inflicted on those you love occur to you. Their bruises appear on your body and their heartache causes you to sob, while they feel just fine. This is Brewster's world - he is an outcast at school because of his odd behavior. He is emotionally safe other than suffering his uncle's and brother's injuries until teen Bronte takes him on as her latest "rescuing a stray" case. Brewster doesn't stand a chance when he begins to care about Bronte and her unusual family. This is a beautifully written but heartbreaking novel.

Of course, I have to introduce at least one cool children's title. I have my eye out for new authors and flip open review books to check on the credentials of the authors even before I read the book blurb. Tannis Bill, the author of Pika: Life in the Rocks has taught elementary school for 19 years and has training in early reading intervention. I had hamsters as pets when I was a kid so Jim Jacobson's photograph of an adorable pika (looks like a hamster) on the cover got my attention. Bill's simple yet informative text and Jacobson's close up photographs of this cousin to the rabbit little critter will delight young animal lovers. A glossary of vocabulary words related to the pika as well as additional information about pikas' habitats and other resources make this Boyds Mills Press title a great addition to any primary school collection.

That's it for me tonight. I am watching a very creepy Hitchcock movie - Strangers on a Train as I type this. It based on Patricia Highsmith's classic novel of obsession. The screen adaption is written in part by Raymond Chandler. That name should sound familiar as he created the private detective Philip Marlowe from books like The Big Sleep He is right up there with Dashiell Hammett as a "father of noir". I love Sam Spade from The Maltese Falcon but he is much better looking and a much bigger guy than Humphrey Bogart in the classic movie version But the movie version of The Thin Man got it just right with William Powell as Nick Charles. I love this series of old b/w movies. There is nothing that tickles my fancy more than Nick shooting a pop-gun between his slippered feet on Christmas morning - pinging glass ornaments from their Christmas tree, as full of tinsel as the trees I helped decorate as a child.