Wednesday, July 22, 2015


Can I be serious for a moment?  Because I joke a lot about my life.  Self-deprecating humor has been and probably always will be my first line of defense and even if it doesn't entertain you, it entertains me, and we all know that's what's really important.  I used to spread the snarky humor blanket a little further and poke fun at friends, family, acquaintances, random people at the supermarket, but the last decade I've been working very hard to be a kinder, gentler me.  I try to seek God's will in all things and no matter how many times I try to change His mind about it He just doesn't think being mean about or to people is as funny as I do, so I try my best to cut it out.  And so I'm mean about me because I know I love me, I value me, I actually think I'm pretty damn awesome and I don't have to assure myself that I'm just kidding.

So all that to say...I get a lot of comments about my choices in the realm of family life.  By that I mean my family size (it seems perfectly reasonable to me), child spacing (less reasonable, I'll admit), and homeschooling (bat shit crazy).  From the innocuous "you sure do have your hands full" to the downright nasty, random strangers for some reason find it appropriate not only to judge my choices but to vocalize their opinions.  Today was no exception.  I had the gall to go to the grocery store with the kids in tow (by way of review that would include Thing 1, Thing 2, Toot, and Puddle whose respective ages are 7, 6, 2 and 9 months).  Two ladies behind me were staring silently at us while we picked out our Pop Tarts then one commented to the other, quite loudly, "Well, life could be worse."  Uproarious laughter ensued and a chuckling, "You're so wrong."  Rude, yes.  Atypical?  Not so much.

Luckily I have heard it said and find it to be true that you only get your feelings hurt in areas in which you're already insecure.  And whatever your opinions might be on my family, random strangers, I have it on good authority that we totally rock.  Like rock stars.  So I continued perusing my junk food of choice as if I didn't know they were talking about me; they moved on.  No lessons were taught, no pointed comebacks made.  I wished them a silent "may you be blessed" and hopefully paid off a little karmic debt.  When we got back into the truck, the song playing on my radio sang "mind your own biscuits and life will be gravy."  I had to laugh.  Hokey, yes, but so, so true.  Toot loves the song.  It makes him wave his chubby little fists and grin the grin that shows both dimples.  Life could be worse, indeed.        

So why am I blogging about it?  I'm not sure actually.  I think because in a weird and roundabout way it made me feel grateful for my crazy life and the four little reasons I live in a constant state of chaos.  As I type Toot and Puddle are napping (Puddle in his crib like a normal baby, Toot behind the couch because that's how he rolls), while Thing 1 repeats everything Thing 2 says because that's what big brothers do.  We've finished our fancy lunch of frozen chicken nuggets, potato chips and yogurt.  There's nothing extraordinary about today but then again there is everything extraordinary about it.  I get to end this post, take advantage of naptime, and read T1 and T2 some of the gloriously dark Grimm's fairy tales we checked out from the library yesterday.  And, later, after they all have gone to bed and the chaos is temporarily at bay, I may pour a cup of coffee, fire up My Precious, and read some more of the current grown-up read (although it's actually YA this time around).  Or I may collapse in an exhausted heap and snore until Puddle wakes me up for a midnight nursing party.  Either way it's all gravy.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Throne of the Crescent Moon

At long last!  After weeks of a seemingly endless string of child needs I have a few stolen moments to tell you about the latest read, the frightening and fantastic high fantasy novel Throne of the Crescent Moon by debut author Saladin Ahmed.  I thought this day might never come...

In case you haven't noticed from my prior reviews, world building is important to me.  Since reading is my one and only escape, I want to be fully immersed in an alternate reality.  I want to know how is looks, smells, tastes and feels.  Transport me, authors!  My life smells of baby poo and Scentsy warmers.  Take me away!!

That being said, sometimes authors can go a bit too far in building their worlds and I find writers of high fantasy to be especially guilty.  Okay, we've read ten tedious paragraphs devoted to the machinations of your medieval siege engine...can we see it do something?  Or there is the other related problem of building a really cool world, only to have the actual plot line meant to take place in said world sort of fizzle and die a sad and lonely death amongst lots of imaginative wonder.  Mr.  Ahmed avoids both pitfalls and delivers a novel that does not disappoint.

Set in an Arabesque landscape, we find our unlikely hero Doctor Adoulla Makhslood.  An aging and overweight ghul hunter, his irreverence and increasing disillusionment with his craft disturbs his young protege, the earnest and devout dervish, Raseed.  Despite their differences, the duo successfully hunt and destroy the evil ghuls, agents of the Traitorous Angel, though Adoulla wonders how many more such battles he shall survive...or shall desire to.  A lifetime of ghul hunting has not prepared the old Doctor, however, for the evil they are to encounter, a shadowy manjackal that calls itself Mouw Awa, an inhuman beast unlike any ghul they have ever seen, who steal the very souls of its victims to feed the power of an unspeakable evil that it serves.

So begins a story that weaves together magic, faith, political intrigue, horror and romance into a seamless tapestry.  Its cast of characters delight.  There is Zamia Banu Laith Badawi, the tribeswoman who can shapeshift into a powerful lioness, and the Falcon Prince, a charismatic outlaw in the vein of Robin Hood, among many others.  The storyline is complicated but Ahmed never loses the thread and the depth of his world is amazing.  By the first chapter's end, you have invested hook, line, and sinker, accepting this city of Dhamsawaat, its legends and demons, its religion and customs, its fantastic realism, as easily as if it were your own.  Is it fantasy?  Yes!  Arabian Nights meets Dracula with some creepy, Guillermo del Toro-like action thrown in.  But his characters' ease with quoting their holy book, Adoulla's love and hatred for the dirty, loud city he calls home, Zamia's recollections of tribal life...they all ring with such truth and clarity that you don't hesitate for a minute to leap right into Mr. Ahmed's world.  And stay for some cardamom tea.