Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sabriel by Garth Nix

“Before I built a wall I'd ask to know What I was walling in or walling out, And to whom I was like to give offence. Something there is that doesn't love a wall, That wants it down.”- Robert Frost, Mending Wall 

What is it about a wall in story that captivates my imagination? In the movie 2004 movie “The Village”, something horrible and deadly lives past “the wall”. In "The Game of Thrones", there is a wall where tired men and criminalized, fringe society boys go to keep back wild things that threaten the kingdom’s northern borders. And of course, we have our very own real walls in real life: The Great Wall of China, Hadrian's Wall, the U.S.-Mexican border, etc.

In Garth Nix’s tale, Sabriel, a wall is used to divide the real world from the magical one. While both worlds are physical, things happen on the other side of the wall that we normal humans don’t want to know anything about, mostly problems with the dead. Sabriel, after the disappearance of her father, becomes the Abhorsen, and becomes responsible for securing the gates of death and making sure the dead stay dead.

In this first book of the series, Sabriel goes to look for her father and attempts to keep one of the more powerful dead beings, Kerrigor, from coming back and causing chaos on the living. Highly readable, this fantasy story keeps a small cast of characters, which I appreciate. I like the use of bells to control the dead, different tones do different things, and each bell has its own name and use. The magical talking cat is cliché, but the hero Touchstone is a welcome character. It’s a young adult story, so it doesn’t get hot and heavy, but if you’ve been considering reading it, then go ahead and pick it up!

I'm Sorry, So Sorry....

Hi Guys,

I know this blog has been dead for the last two months or so, and here's why:

1. Emiliano Francisco Moya joined us on Sept. 17, right on his due date. Lilo, the nickname we've given him, was born happy and healthy. Mom and Dad are so proud and happy! He's almost two months now and he's a great eater! Big brother Momo has been a great big brother, always looking out for Lilo ("Momma, baby's crying!", or trying to give Lilo his pacifier when he spits it out and cries). So, Gloria and I are exhausted, but we know it's all a part of the game and hopefully we'll be getting sleep in more than 2-3 hour spurts.

2. All of my hard work has paid off at work. I received my MLS back in May and I hoped to land a manager position in a library within the year. Well, last month there was a shuffling of managers at work, and two extra positions were became available. After the dust settled, I became the new manager of Western Branch Library!

So, I've been pretty busy and my priorities have changed. But this doesn't mean I've given up on this project. I've read two books and hope to post those soon, and I'm halfway through another. So, I've slowed down, but I haven't quit. Once things settle down, I'll be able to be more consistent with my posting.

Thanks for hanging in there with me, you guys rock!

Friday, September 7, 2012

A few things:

I'm reading faster than I'm blogging. Sorry, I'll try to post as soon as I finish reading.

Working on Sabriel by Garth Nix as recommended by Stephanie Johnson.

Glo is due any day now, I hope the next time I blog, we will have met our new son, Emiliano Francisco   Moya, or Lilo, for short.

Thanks for checking out the blog! I you haven't made a recommendation, please do so!

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Khaled Hosseini's A Thousand Splendid Suns is at it's core a story of survival. Hosseini's protagonists are two women, Mariam and Laila, who suffer tragedy and must endure the assorted brutal forms that the culture of violence against women in Afghanistan has assumed. Mariam and Laila are treated as 2nd class citizens, as property even, with every attempt made to dehumanize them and strip them of their dignity.

For those readers who aren't up on the history of Afghanistan and the culture of tribalism there, Hosseini does an adequate job of showing the impact that changing regimes has had on Afghani life. I found myself mentally going back and trying to remember where I was when I heard about this so-called Taliban and their destruction of the Buddhas, of this group called the Northern Alliance, of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. Suddenly, this story that felt far away became much more immediate and real.

Hosseini is a talend storyteller indeed. He's able to take heavy "doom and gloom" topics and insert windows of light and peace and hope. I wonder, though, if he could have pushed this story a bit more. If he could have dug deeper into the psyche of the women and the men who loved them and hated them, what direction could this story have gone in? This guy writes so well, I wanted more from this story! I've put the Kite Runner on my reading list when this little reading project is all over.

This book is recommended for those readers who may be seeking some insight into what's going on in Afghanistan today, for readers who love a good story, and for fans of love and revenge tales. This is a good one.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino

Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino is a book to be savored. This little book packs so much more skill, style, and imagination into it's 160 pages, than most books twice its size. This book is a love letter to dreamers, to language lovers, and to writers. What is this book about? On the surface, this book chronicles a series of discussions between Kublai Khan and Marco Polo. Kublai Khan, being ruler supreme, wants stories of all of the cities in his lands from merchants and traders who traverse his empire. Because Khan and Polo don't speak the same language, Polo must used objects to describe the cities he has been to. As a result we get descriptions of cities that defy the imagination.

 Each city is described within a page or two, in poetic fashion. This is one of my favorite passages:

Cities & The Dead 
What makes Argia different from other cities is that it has earth instead of air. The streets are completely filled with dirt, clay packs the rooms to the ceiling, on every stair another stairway is set in negative, over the roofs of the houses hang layers of rocky terrain like skies with clouds. We do not know if the inhabitants can move about the city, widening the worm tunnels and the crevices where roots twist: the dampness destroys people's bodies, and they have scant strength; everyone is better off remaining still, prone; anyway, it is dark. 
From up here, nothing of Argia can be sen; some say "It's down below there," and we can only believe them. The place is deserted. At night, putting your ear to the ground, you can sometimes hear a door slam. 
Ha! That last line kills me! Knowing that we are getting Khan's p.o.v., after it's been filtered a few times, I couldn't help but try and figure out what exactly Polo was describing. In the passage above, could he have been trying to describe a graveyard that was as big as a city?

I could go on and on, the English Major in me wants to come out. But, I want to keep this short and sweet, just like the book itself. I will say this book is for the literary fans out there. Good stuff.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Sorry Don't Put me In Coach book took so long to post. Sick wife and boy and dog this past week. I've already started Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino, hopefully I'll post a review of that one sooner rather than later.

Thanks for reading!

Don't Put Me In, Coach: My Incredible NCAA Journey from the End of the Bench to the End of the Bench by Mark Titus

Don't Put Me in Coach by Mark Titus is a vulgar, coarse, and low-brow memoir of Titus's 4-year stint as a bench-warmer for the Ohio State Buckeyes.


Don't Put Me in Coach by Mark Titus is a funny, insightful, and engaging memoir of Titus's 4-year stint as a bench-warmer for the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Which opening to go with, maybe both?


After some early success playing basketball and  playing on junior high teams with future NBA players, Titus makes a go of playing at Ohio State. Titus makes the team as Manager, before he's asked to suit up to play on the practice squad and be one of the guys who plays the last few minutes of unimportant games. Soon, Titus realizes he'll never actually be a player so resigns himself to being the class clown and court jester. Midway through his college career, Titus discovers the joys of blogging and starts Club Trillion, and becomes a hero to all kids picked last to play sports.

Titus adeptly gives readers an insiders view into the world of NCAA basketball. Titus doesn't hold much back, from asshole teammates, to juvenile pranks (the book seems to be one big prank, really), he really lets the stories fly. For too brief moments, Titus  emerges from his jock bro voice into something more mature and introspective, but then quickly ducks back into self-deprecating and humiliating language (nutsack licking, next bed beej's, pant shitting, etc.).  I don't doubt, however, that once Titus matures as a person, he will mature as a writer. I expect he'll back with even better stories from the sports world.

If you want a small taste of  Titus's sense of humor then check out his Mr. Rainmaker video.

I definitely recommend this to all sports fans, especially if March Madness is your favorite holiday. I also recoommend this book to anyone who has ever wondered what the life of a student athlete is like.