I tried to post yesterday, but the internet connection was down until well after my bedtime last night. Today Julie Andrews speaks at the opening session of IRA, so I will head out the door early to grab a seat. Finished two books yesterday between meetings. LIGHT YEARS by Tammar Stein is the story of an Israeli girl who comes to attend college in Virginia. She has left Israel after her mandatory service in the army and after losing the love of her life, Dov, to a terrorist bombing. The story shifts between present time in the US and the recent past in Israel. Stein's slow unfolding of the story creates an incredible tension for the reader, and changes the pace as well. Maya's culture shock, her observations about college life from the perspective of a slightly older and much more traveled student, and her gradual recovery from the shock and grief of losing Dov makes this a compelling read. Now, for something completely different, as Monty Python would say, is WHALES ON STILTS by M. T. Anderson. Here is an author who knows how to blow away preconceptions of his readers. From THIRSTY to BURGER WUSS to FEED and now WHALES. WHALES is a rollicking story of Lily and her two sidekicks who have to save the planet from whales on stilts with killer laser beam eyeballs created by a mad scientist who is a hybrid between a human and cetacean set of parents. Funny asides, mock ads for mock serial fiction: there is plenty of good tongue-in-cheek stuff to be enjoyed. Particularly funny (and perhaps a bit too close to the truth) are the appended essay and discussion questions! I am looking forward to touring exhibits later and picking up some new reading as I am down to the last book I brought with me.