29 July 2008

Sad, Really

Either I've got too many books (which my pal Deb would agree to, so she sends her giveaways to me :P), or I'm just too lazy, but I found myself looking to see if I owned certain books using my LibraryThing data base, despite the fact it's WAY incomplete, instead of searching around through four rooms of books and bookshelves.

I can't WAIT to get them all listed in here. It's going to be so wonderful! I've been organizing them again (before I got married and combined libraries they were alphabetized by author and then book title) somewhat by grouping all of the same author together. It's a slow process--as slow as logging them into my online catalog--but it will be so worth it. So far, just one bookcase and some stacks have been put on LibraryThing and organized. I can't wait until we build it's mate (8' tall, 5' wide brick and board bookcases, nothing fancy, just built for sturdiness and bigness) and I'll add books as I put them up. That will free space in other places and. . . it will be great! Okay, enough about books. For the nonce, anyway!

Hmmm. . . Another Potential Challenge. . .

While visiting Scarlett in the Bell Jar, I noticed another challenge--the 1% Well-Read Challenge. The premise is to read 10 books from the '1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die' List--now I've already read over 100 of them, but. . . Since I have the list already (here), on a whim, I thought I'd see if I'd read any more since the start of this challenge (May 2008).

Well, I'll be doggoned if I hadn't read one a month already! I read Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49 in May (no review, but some discussion here) and read both the Murder of Roger Ackroyd (awesome and amazing!) and A Confederacy of Dunces in June (my raving review). How about that?!

So, can I read one in these last few days of this month--or at least the early part of next month and continue in the challenge? I own a slew of them that I've not read, so I might just give a try. Many of them are on my too-be-read shelf or are Pre-20th Century works so would cross over to my 888 Challenge nicely, so. . . If I can get around to reading another, I'll just have to join up! (Yes, I'm addicted to a challenge!) I'll keep ya'll posted.

Tuesday Challenge: Bottletops

29 July 2008
click on photo for full-sized image

for the Tuesday Challenge: bottletops


23 July 2008

Gideon: The Cutpurse

Gideon the Cutpurse: Being the First Part of the Gideon Trilogy
by Linda Buckley-Archer (5/5 stars)
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing (June 27, 2006)
Also published as The Time Travelers (US Title)

My husband stopped by the library the other day, to pick up some books that were on reserve for me and came home with this book. The librarians had just gotten it in and, knowing me, added it to my stack. They made an excellent choice!

Peter Schock's birthday treat has been canceled and instead he is forced to spend the day with strangers: Kate Dyer and her family to be exact. Wanting to show off her Dad's Van de Graaff generator, Kate persuades Peter to ride with them to the laboratory where Dr. Dyer works. The hilarity caused by the Van de Graaff generator startles Kate's dog, Molly, who jumps through the office window, gets shocked by Kate and runs down the hallway into another room that houses an experiment. Kate and Peter run after Molly, stumble through swirling light, and awake to find themselves in 1763.

It is their great fortune that their arrival, while witnessed by the fearsome and evil Tar Man, is also witnessed by Gideon Seymour. His account of their arrival helps them to piece together what has happened and he offers to help them find the Tar Man, who has the experimental machine they arrived in and that will hopefully take them back home.

The book is filled with the children's amazement and often disgust at the 18th century, which is quite fun. There are highway men, evil doers, tales of bravery and redemption and change of heart, and many well-written characters that are easy to care about.

As the Kate and Peter try to get home, Kate has unswerving faith in her father's ability to find them but Peter (who's last word's to his father were "I hate you") is filled with doubt and mixed feelings about his family. They, especially Peter, form a strong bong with Gideon and when he finds himself in grave peril, they are only too glad to help him.

This is a wonderful book, full of emotions and action and great story line. I wasn't too keen on the ending, though, feeling that it really didn't need to be made into such a cliff-hanger so that it could be a trilogy. But, then I read what book two is about and I have somewhat changed my mind. I'll hold off on that, perhaps hasty, judgment until I read this next installment.

I'm using this as the "G" Title for my A-Z Title Challenge, having read the British copy. Thank goodness, as the US title is totally different. Which makes me ask--WHY are the titles different some times? That simply drives me to distraction!! It is very trying to someone that reads British authors; I think there is a new book out, one that I can't find, only to discover that it's just titled differently. I hate it. I demand universal titles!


George Ella Lyon

How nice! Ms. Lyon posted a comment on my review of her novel, Sonny's House of Spies. :D

Dear Medbie,

I'm the author of SONNY and your review has lifted my heart on this story July morning. I just found out last week that Simon and Schuster has moved SONNY to print-on-demand status. Since it takes six weeks to get the book that way, sales are pretty much dead, yet I don't get the rights back.

So it is particularly life-giving to read that a reader found it, got it, took it to heart, and is sharing it. And that your words sent someone else to the library to look for it.

Thank God for reviewers like you and for libraries!

I still miss Sonny and Loretta, and it makes me smile to know someone else is meeting them for the first time.

All my thanks and best wishes,

George Ella lyon

This makes me even more eager to read her other fiction, and perhaps her poetry too! :D

Lensday: Movement

(click photo for full-sized image)

For the Lensday challenge: movement; downtown Greeneville, TN, 25 May 2008.

You may have to look close, or see it full size.


19 July 2008

Childhood Memories

I was reading a great post by bethany in which she talked about a flavor that takes her back to her childhood and posed the question of what takes us back to our youth.

Ah. . .that's easy for me! Rivers! Little River in Tennessee specifically. It was "my river". I can remember time and again loading up in Dad's truck, sometimes with our dogs, sometimes just the three of us, and riding for a couple of hours to the river. Dad would fish and Mom and I would walk the river bank, or on the rocks, or wade. It was wonderful times.

I've never had a fear of rivers, just the opposite; I've had a life-long love of the clear, running water. The sound, the smell, the cold, cold feel of it. . . All of this is a sense of "home" to me. A reminder of Mom and Dad and good times. Even now, I can't pass Little River without sticking my nose to the window (or out of it) and following the river as long as I can.

The first photo is me, at Little River, sometime around age three. As you can see, I was enjoying "my river". The second was taken there during a cold Thanksgiving day picnic, 2000--more great memories with Dad and Mom! Thanks bethany, for encouraging the remembrance of great times!


Mitch Cullin (2/5 stars)
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Dufour Editions (December 5, 2005)

At first I was blown away by Tideland and the protagonist Jeliza-Rose, with no one for company but various pieces of Barbie dolls picked up in a 5/$1 bin at the thrift store, running wild in the wilds of rural Texas. I was enchanted by the Southern Gothic flavor, by Jeliza-Rose's voice--at once childish and yet overly mature for her age--and by Cullin's descriptions that had me right there, running beside Jeliza-Rose watching the lightening bugs and worrying about bog men.

But then he lost me.

He took the grotesque element of Southern Gothic to the maximum; it was as if he set out to add anything that might possibly be appalling or unappealing or just plain, well, grotesque without making it really fit the plot, throwing it in willy-nilly just for the shock factor.

Now, I'm sure that's not the case, but unlike other Southern Gothic authors (Flannery O'Conner springs to mind) who are making a point with their grotesque and unappealing characters and situations, in Tideland, they were just there. It went from a book that, in the first couple of chapters, I was certain would be a 5 star favorite, to being a barely acceptable "okay" by the time I finished slogging through it.

Read for the "C" author for my A-Z Author Challenge.


18 July 2008

Singin' the Blues

Maggie is hosting a contest in which she encourages us to "develop a blues name". The Blues is (are?) one of my favorite musical genres, so I was eager to apply my mind to this one. After a little thought, I said "D'oh!" and wondered why it didn't come to me immediately!

I would be, of course "Cat Mama Lee". Cat Mama because, well, I AM. Mother to 4 cats certainly qualifies me to be a cat mama, wouldn't you think? "Lee" because it's my middle name (though spelled "Leigh") and nearly every Southern name has a Lee in it somewhere and that just seems to complete the whole Southern or Delta Blues sound of the name.

As Cat Mama Lee, I would want to sing like Bessie Smith or Chris Thomas King: gravelly voiced, sometimes sad, sometimes risque but always true South.

By the way, if you've never heard Chris Thomas King, you really should. He mixes new sounds with old Blues and is a master. Me, My Guitar and the Blues is one of my favorite albums. Another great Blues sound is the Jimi Hendrix album Blues. An amazing album that showcases just how talented that young man was and how he could wring the Blues out of his guitar as easily as he could make it scream rock 'n roll.

16 July 2008

Geeky Husband

Stoney just took this and, uh oh. . . Funny how true these things are some times. Both of us got appropriate answers. LOL

Geek Quiz

Being a Geek, I figured, what the hay, I'd take this one too. My Geeky decade is:

Most Useless Test Ever

I just took the self-styled "most useless test ever" and the result is:

edit: Stoney's results:

Lensday: Flower

13 July 2005
Biltmore Estate and Gardens
(clicking photo will open full size image)

for the Lensday theme: flower


Annie's Vocabulary List

Debi has a little contest she runs on her other blog. It's a vocabulary game of sorts, where she gives a list of vocabulary words she and her husband have run across during their reading and are giving to their daughter to learn as vocabulary. The point of the game is to use up to 10 of the words in up to 10 sentences. Annie will decide which sentences she likes best that week and award points. At the end of 10 weeks, the vocabulary maven dances all the way to Amazon with $10 gift card in their pocket.

I missed week 1, due to my inability to keep up with what day it is as I follow vampire hours, but I've already posted my sentences for week 2. Go by and read these awesome words--I had to look up a BUNCH--and offer some sentences to Annie. It's all in the name of fun and knowledge, so how can you loose?

This week's vocab list can be found here.

Week 1's list with instructions and Annie's interests can be found here.

This week's entries are due by Thursday morning, so get to writing! :D

15 July 2008

The Evolution Man: Or, How I Ate My Father

The Evolution Man: Or, How I Ate My Father
Roy Lewis (5/5 stars)
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Vintage; 1st Vintage Contemporaries Ed edition (August 30, 1994)

Ernest is young man growing up in a not-so-typical Pleistocene family. His father, Edward, has invented portable fire and is pushing, pushing, pushing for mankind to evolve at at faster rate. Uncle Vanya thinks they are flirting with disaster, what with all this eating of animal flesh and using fire, and what were they thinking coming down from the trees in the first place, but Father continues on his scientific (and otherwise) experiments. These experiments put Ernest and his brothers in all kinds of interesting predicaments (which, frankly, beats beating flints all day long) as they hurry to advance their horde out of the Pleistocene era into a new and glorious future.

This is not a slap-stick funny book, it is an intellectually funny book that also has hilarious moments. I had to go for the dictionary a few times, which was funny in and of itself--getting the dictionary to look up a big word that some caveman is using. It's also an allegory of sorts, a stop and think kind of book. Even while I was laughing my head off about Uncle Vanya warning Father about the dangers of progress and telling him to go back to the trees, I could. . . well, I could see both sides--hear myself in both sides actually. I've never read a book like it, quite frankly. I picked it up because Terry Pratchett mentioned it as his all time favorite book and I can see the attraction. It's one I will have to read again, digest, laugh and think over some more.

Lewis' writing is wonderful; droll, dry wit and amazingly detailed description sandwiched in with just darn good writing. His pictures of family life are so real that I dare say he's warped any historical notions I may have had of the Pleistocene era. Overall, this is just a masterful book, but I recognize that I may not be for everyone because it's a book whose humor is not just laid out for you--you have to think a little too.

Read for the letter "E" in my A-Z Titles Challenge.


Automated Alice

Automated Alice
Jeff Noon (2/5 stars)
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Transworld Publishers (December 1, 2000)

Alice, of Wonderland fame, is visiting her Great Aunt Ermintrude and very unwisely lets her parrot, Whippoorwill, out of his cage. Whippoorwill flies into the grandfather clock, and Alice (dragging her doll Celia with her) climbs in after him but ends up in the future--1998 to be exact. The future is populated by people that are mixed breeds of animal and human, and is ruled by the frightening Civil Serpents. To return to her own time, Alice (and her now automated doll, Celia), must find Whippoorwill, her missing jigsaw puzzle pieces, solve the Jigsaw Murder of which she's been falsely accused and hopefully, discover the proper usage of the ellipses.

While Automated Alice promises much in it's early chapters, Noon is unable to deliver more than the occasional clever wordplay. The plot is unfulfilling, almost contrived at points. He tries hard to create the same bizarre feel that Carroll's books have, but is unsuccessful; instead Automated Alice feels frantic and unintelligible. The idea was great, but the delivery was poor.


14 July 2008

Southern Reading Challenge: Finished!

I finished the Southern Reading Challenge with Sonny's House of Spies! :D It turned out to be a wonderful challenge for me, because without it, I wouldn't have read any of the three books I did read! And, of course out of those three, I absolutely LOVED two of them! Thanks to Maggie for hosting the challenge! :D

You can see my finished results here

Sonny's House of Spies

Sonny's House of Spies
George Ella Lyon (5/5 Stars)
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books (May 25, 2004)
Recommended: Grades 5-8

It's 1947, in a small town in Alabama and Sonny's dad has just walked out on them. "You don't know my daddy," the book begins, and Sonny tells the reader of the day his life changed. He knows there has to be something more to the split up than he has been told, and it puzzles him. A few years go by, and the reader sees small town Southern life through Sonny's eyes as he tries to handle his own life without a father, as well as every day living with his sometimes funny, sometimes difficult family. Sonny deals with heartbreak, pain, and love, familial and otherwise, and at last finds peace within himself regarding his father.

Sadly, this brief synopsis does nothing for the book. Telling a skeleton outline of the plot with no spoilers and none of Lyon's amazing writing is so unjust! This is an amazing book, with prose that sometimes verges on poetry. Lyon had me laughing out loud with Sonny's predicaments on one page, near tears on another, and spellbound from the sheer beauty of her language so often. She captures the feel of the South so well and so subtly that there are bound to be references that will pass by those uninitiated to Southern culture.

I couldn't NOT share a few lines that caught me especially:
"It was a sleepy kind of morning, the air like bathwater."

"Like some reversable cloth, Mama's laughter flipped over into sobs."

"We just stood by the shiny gray coffin with its handles like fancy toilet-paper holders and said "Yes" and "No" and "Thank you" and breathed whatever breaths came by: mint, onion, tobacco, whiskey, and bad."

"All the windows had been propped open, but it was one of those afternoons when the air lay on top of you like a big cat, and no waving of cardboard Jesus-at-the-door fans could make it get up and move."

My main regret is that I fear the intended audience will not be interested in the subject and that some of the emotional dimilemas may really be too mature for grades 5-8. It would be more appropriate, I think, for older YA readers. I would suggest that a parent of younger readers read it first (I give it a full recommendation for all adult readers) and then decide when/if it's appropriate for their child at that age.

Another quibble is that the dust jacket blurb is not very appealing; I only chose to read it because it took place in the South and I needed another book for my Southern Reading Challenge. I really can't see a child picking this up and saying, "oh, this sounds just what I've been wanting to read". It will most likely take an adult pushing it on them to get a child to read it. A new, more interesting cover would be advised.

But, as far as the book goes. . . It's a five star read for older YAs and adults. Masterful writing all the way through; I will be looking up her other novels right away.


08 July 2008

Amazing. . .

how quickly that peace can turn into kitties begging for popcorn!


I really can not imagine anything more peaceful that what I have right now:
A silent house, hearing two of the cats sleep, no outside noises intruding.

07 July 2008


I discovered LibraryThing a few years ago; actually it was a couple of weeks after it went public. I played with it a bit, loved it, became a life time member, and then promptly got busy and didn't go back to cataloging my books. I never really forgot about it, I just didn't go back and finish. Then I noticed b's link to her library on it one day and thought I'd give it another try.

Wow! He's added some awesome new features since I had last played over there!! :D

So. . . I've been spending a lot of my time over there cataloging. It's SOOO much fun for a person like me, on the spectrum, who loves to organize and catalog and who it totally in love with her own books. I don't know if I'll be able to get them all cataloged before the end of summer or not (I can't believe how quickly the time is going!), seeing as how I've yet to finish one bookcase, but I'm having tons of fun! If you don't already use LibraryThing, go check it out. You might just love it, too!

You can see my profile and my library, if you like, and down at the bottom of the column at your right there --->
is a random assortment of my books. Clicking on the words "my library" on that widget will take you to (you guessed it) my library, but clicking on the book face will take you to amazon.

(I will still the goodreads widget, since I read so many books from the library, ie books I don't actually own, that it makes sense to use it to list my currently reading and to-be-read lists that way.)

The Monstrous Memoirs of a Mighty McFearless

The Monstrous Memoirs of a Mighty McFearless by Ahmet Zappa
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers (July 25, 2006)
5/5 stars

In this delightful book, Minerva McFearless discovers that her family has been monsterminators for generations--fearlessly fighting evil so that children can sleep safely in their beds. Naturally, she and her younger brother Max want a piece of the action, but their dad think they are too young for such dangers. So, behind his back they secretly study the Monstranomicon and learn all they can about the horrible monsters and how to battle them.

And thank goodness they do, because the more than vile Zarmaglorg has his minions kidnap their dad and only Minerva and Max can save him! Well, with some help from Ms. Monstranomicon and the mysterious Mr. Devilstone.

While there are spots in this book that might be more trite than others, the author's enthusiasm fills it so full that one can't help but enjoy it. His subtle (and not always so subtle) puns, plays on words and borrowing from other authors (I'm sure Lovecraft would have to have loved the Monstranomicon) make it a treat for adults reading it, while the descriptions of the monsters and the monster repellents in the Monstranomicon have to be enjoyable for everyone.

The real gem of the book, though, it's crowing glory is the illustrations. Every page is illustrated lushly, well amusingly anyway, with childlike drawings of monsters, sepia photographs of the action, and various detritus from like moths, rocks, monster blood and gumballs. I couldn't wait to turn the page to see just what would be on the next two pages, and would it have anything to do with the plot, and if so, what? Again, I have to say that Zappa's love for his project is so obvious and his love , and the incredible amount of work that went into the illustrations, glosses over any small faults that The Monstrous Memoirs of a Mighty McFearless does have and rounds it out to a 5/5 reading experience.

Read for the "Z author" in my A-Z Author's Challenge


02 July 2008


WOOT! It's BAFAB week again! I BAFAB, do you?


Blatant Self Promotion

Just a reminder to my super internet pals:

If you make go to Amazon through that link over there -->
(and down a bit)
and then make your purchases, I get credit. :D It's kind of like feeding my reading habit!

Hmm. . . on second thought, maybe that's not such a good idea. . .

June 2008 Reading List

Beautiful Boy by David Sheff
my review

Mountain Jack Tales by Gail Haley
book discussion can be found here

Sky Burial by Xinran
my review

the Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
Awesome and amazing!

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
my review

The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan
The latest installment of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series; another great volume in a series I hate to see end.

Anno Dracula by Kim Newman
I'll be posting by review of this fantabulous book soon!

A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare
Read this to finish the Once Upon a Time Challenge.

Tweak by Nic Sheff
my review

The Vesuvius Club by Mark Gatiss
This started out great but ended just okay. I don't really recommend it.

Rattle His Bones by Carola Dunn
Another Daisy Dalrymple mystery, and not nearly as good as the others; of course this could be because I read it all in one setting, into the wee hours of the night. . .

The Monstrous Memoirs of a Mighty McFearless by Ahmet Zappa
my review

Beautiful Boy and Tweak

Beautiful Boy is David Sheff's memoir of living with a drug addicted son. He tells of first discovering Nic's addiction, while still in his teens, and of the heart-break of various rehabs and set-backs. Throughout the book, David tries to be quite open and honest, admitting where he could be at fault for Nic's addiction (upbringing, family history, the like), agonizing over what he could have done differently and in the end trying to give hope to other families that might be experience the same.

There were times that this well written, quick read was a painful experience. David's expression of Nic's addiction and it's effects on his (David's) life--the strain it put on his marriage, his attempts to protect his two younger children from Nic, the range of emotions that came with Nic breaking into their home--was so absorbing that I read half way through in one sitting. Then, I was so emotionally spent, I had to put the book down for a few days. I felt that I was sharing some of the anguish he felt, as he worried over Nic, and when I finished reading Beautiful Boy, I felt a spark of hope. It is a book I am certainly glad I have read.

But, I still hesitated to pick up Nic's book, Tweak. I waited several weeks, giving myself time to let some of David's personal feelings about Nick not be so fresh. I wanted to give Nic's book as un-opinionated a reading as I could, while still comparing his version of events to his father's.

Tweak was not just open and honest, it was painfully frank. Nic does not hide the fact that he loved doing the various drugs, that they felt good, that he liked who he was on drugs--maybe not what he did to others, but that concern only came when clean. He craved that feeling, and time and again, even after a year or more of being clean, he would give in with really no fight at all. He struggled to find himself, outside of drugs, but kept feeling like maybe there wasn't a "him" without drugs.

Tweak pulled me in emotionally in a way that Beautiful Boy did not, probably due to Nic's conversational tone of writing--certainly not polished, like David's, but very, very personal. I became so emotionally involved that, at what would be his final relapse, I was so angry at Nic, I had to put the book down. I had to step away emotionally and remind myself that I was truly NOT involved in this young man's life and that--I had read his father's side--it WAS going to eventually turn out all right. Where I felt sympathy for David with Beautiful Boy, through reading Tweak, I was family, I was the betrayed. Tweak is that powerful of a book; it can pull you in that strongly and as such is a book most certainly worth reading. (But I do recommend reading Beautiful Boy first.)

Both were read for both the Nonfiction Challenge and for my Recommended Reads list for the 888 challenge. I also included them in the title portion of my A-Z Reading Challenge. I wonder, is that over using them, challenge-wise?