Sunday, February 04, 2007

Conference Recovery Day

I am back from a week-long conference. Despite the fact that it is unimaginably cold, I am happy to be home. I was growing weary of networking and eating odd food at odd times and feigning interest in watching others drink to excess. A few good things did happen: I actually won something in one of those "throw in your business card" deals at one session -- and am now the proud owner of a sweet little iPod shuffle. (It's charging now..... yippee.) I experienced a great band at one of the vendor parties (Chant - they play a lot around Texas, keep your eye out for them - it is a real pleasure to hear them!!!!) I read three books on my flights and had four reserves waiting when I got home. So, all in all a fair week away.

I am not a good flier - so decided to take along something fun and entertaining for the first flight. I knew I would need the distraction and something to keep me awake after my 6:30 AM take-off. (!) I chose well by opening with Dairy Queen. This is an Ugly Duckling story of the best stripe -- the sort where the duckling finds her place in the world on her own terms and still gets the guy. DJ is a wonderful character. Her journey from helpless frustration to commander of her own fate is believable and gratifying. Finding acceptance and understanding of her family members is also a key element. Brian's growth from bratty rich kid to decent boyfriend is the stuff of every teen girl's dreams. The sense of place permeates the pages. I do not know much about farming or football (and don't have any burning desire to know more about either) and yet I cared deeply about both by the novel's end. This was a lot of fun, but also inspiring. Nice.

The long trek back from the conference meant several LONG hours in the airport -- so I found a seat and - bravely - read Kenneth Oppel's Skybreaker. I truly enjoyed Oppel's bat series - I found his ability to create their world and imbue them with personalities that readers could truly connect with amazing. I found that same ability to recreate a world of airships and fantastic creatures in Airborn. Matt Cruse is a plucky protagonist. His lady love, Kate, equally so. The derring-do, the rocky romance, the pirates, the wild upper atmosphere rescues ... it all made for a very good read. I sent my copy on to one of the guys from my teen book club and he raved about it - and told me that I should get my hands on the sequel ASAP, as it was just as appealing. Well, he was right. Matt and Kate are back in the thick of another airborne adventure replete with a gypsy girl, a self-made rich boy, a reclusive inventor's endlessly drifting ghost ship and another mysterious species or two. A thrill ride that made those airport lounge hours zip along.

Once boarded, things got iffy. After sitting in the itsy-bitsy plane for half an hour, then having two people pulled off the plane (one of them the guy in the seat next to me), then being told that we could have a bumpy ride home, and then learning that the two had been pulled off because the plane was too heavy -- did I mention that I am a lousy flier in the best of circumstances? -- I was sorely in need of a book to take me away somewhere else. Fortunately, I had Fly By Night in my carry-on. I was, most assuredly, taken somewhere else. And the story of Mosca's travels with her homicidal goose and assorted companions of questionable character did keep me focused - even during the promised "bumpy spots". I wanted the best to happen for Mosca, maybe even more than she did. I worried for her while she is used by all of the plotting and scheming adults in her universe. I connected strongly to her decision to follow Eponymous purely for the sound of his words. I was shattered to discover that the Ice Princess was just that - another heartless manipulator of our young heroine and not her imagined savior. It is a complicated, demanding book with many characters and lots of skulduggery to track. I do not think the cover art does it any favors -- it has some fairly dark, Dickensian passages that are belied by the "young" character of the cover. I did enjoy the book, though, and admired Mosca's mettle. And I must admit, her choice to continue traveling the world with Eponymous does feel right. So, a good read with such a fitting title for an evening flight!

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