But more about that later
It’s just got to be time for a book review again. I know, I promised I’d post more frequently, but then, you know, life happens when you’re not expecting it and the last week or so has been totally insane. New job = busy. Single mom (with no help from grandparents as they are on vacay this week) = busier. Work outs, errands, Halloween prep, dating (see, told you I had game) and miscellaneous other crap = insane.
Then there’s all that reading I have to do just so I can review the books later because I’m selfless like that. So, here goes. The first book is “Dragon’s Tongue" by Laura J. Underwood. I first became aware of Ms. Underwood’s work when she had a number of short stories published in various anthologies and in “Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Fantasy Magazine.” I’m surprised that she hasn’t had as much success as some of Bradley’s other protégés like Mercedes Lackey or Jennifer Roberson because her stories are equally well written (if not better), but it’s nice to see she’s finally got a novel out there. “Dragon’s Tongue” has a bit of a “Harry Potter” feeling to it as the main character, Alaric Braidwine, is a young wizard arriving for training at a mage college, but the similarities end there. He’s paired with the feckless but powerful Fenelon Greenfyn as his mentor. Keltora, the background world in this book, is well developed with a great sense of ancient history to give it shape and believability. I felt there were a few “novice writer” elements in the plot, but they were barely detectable and everything else is so well done that it was certainly more entertaining than either Lackey or Roberson’s most recent works. This is a good one, folks, and I highly recommend it.
From there, I moved on to one of the more original werewolf stories I’ve come across in Kit Whitfield’s “Benighted.” In this world, the majority of the population are “lunes” or werewolves. A tiny minority are “normal” human beings or “barebacks” who are considered to be cripples and given almost leper-like status by the rest of the world. However, it’s their job to keep control of the “lunes”, particularly on full-moon nights, and make sure they don’t rampage out of control and cause damage. The book is beautifully written with an almost poetic, sing-song voice, but sometimes I got a little tired of the main character’s endless, drippy, introspection and wished it had been broken up by more action. I also had a problem with the basic idea of the background world – it seems to me that nature would not allow for the naturally predatory species (the lunes) to outnumber their potential “prey” animals (the barebacks). Also, there’s no correlation between actual wolf behavior and lune behavior. Lunes are far more aggressive and savage than real wolves. Some of this can be accepted as peculiarities of this particular world, but there’s a point at which it stretches the readers’ ability to suspend disbelief. Still, the author has done a powerful job of exploring the theme of prejudice and it’s easy to re-characterize the lunes and barebacks as blacks and whites in South Africa before apartheid was abolished. I would sum this book up as thought-provoking and worth the read, but I wouldn’t take it to the beach or on an airplane. It’s not much “fun.”
Lastly, there’s “On Basilisk Station” by David Weber. This book is the first in the well-known “Honor Harrington” series which I’ve known about for a long time, but for some reason had just never picked up. The good part of that is that there are a zillion books out now in this series so I’ll be reading them for a long time to come. Weber has taken C.S. Forester’s famous “Horatio Hornblower” series (which, by the way, if you haven’t seen the A&E movies of this series – run, don’t walk, to the video store and rent the DVD’s…SO well done and Iaon Gruffudd is H-O-T) and translated it into space. Captain Honor Harrington of the Royal Manticoran Navy is about to accept her first command – an old, but serviceable cruiser known as HMS Fearless. Lots of action and military tactics ensue. As is typical of military novels, the character development (especially of secondary characters) is somewhat lacking but at least it’s not totally non-existent. I give this book an A+ for action, military strategy/tactics, the politics behind the scenes and the hard science behind the starship drives, weapons, communications, and the physics governing any potential battle in space. However, if you want “deeper” characters, then I recommend Lois McMaster Bujold’s “Miles Vorkosigan” saga.
In other news, it looks like the divorce will be final soon. We’re in the final paperwork stages so maybe I’ll have my maiden name back before 2006 is out. The next few days will be hard on me, though, as the one-year anniversary of everything blowing up arrives, but I hope to weather the storm by focusing on Halloween activities with my son and being thankful for all the good things in my life – family, friends, job, health, etc.
While the generic idea of “being divorced” still makes me sad, I know that I am a far healthier, happier and different person today than I would have been had things continued on as they were. The truth is, the other person involved never really loved me or accepted me for who I am and spent nearly 12 years convincing me that he was right about me. It took getting his boot off my neck for me to wake up and realize that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with me. In fact, I’m quite fabulous, a helluva catch and any guy would be lucky to have me on his arm should I deign to allow that.
The real pity is that I spent so many years letting someone else’s judgment of me as “wrong” and “inferior” so color my picture of myself when in reality, he was the one unworthy of me. It’s amazing how such a seemingly small realization has re-shaped my entire life (not to mention my body). I finally feel like I’ve been set free to be the person I should have been all along. It’s weird to be “re-born” at the age of 41!
Of course, it hasn’t hurt that I had a great 2nd date with architect-guy last Saturday night. I wore my new, size 10(!) black jeans and a short-sleeved wrap top with a black, pink and blue paisley design. I’d post links, but they’re not in the Macy’s on-line store as far as I can tell. So, I’ll have to share the picture of this lovely coat I got on sale this weekend. I fell in love with this when it first came into the store in late summer, but it was out of my budget range. Even on sale, it was still pricey, but so pretty I couldn't pass it up. Because, you know, one sooo needs a coat in Southern California. Especially during fire season.
Anyway, back to the date. We had a fabulous time at the Sorrento Grille in Laguna Beach. I had the lamb chops with some kind of sherry/maple gravy that was to die for and then we walked around and looked at some of the art galleries and had ice cream. It was a treat to be with someone not only funny and charming but intelligent as well.
I’d forgotten what it was like to converse with someone whose brain actually functions. It really made me notice how everything with the ex was just such a freakin’ major EFFORT. No wonder I was tired all the time and didn’t have any energy to do anything else. All my energy went into doing the thinking for two people.
Fortunately, that’s a thing of the past and I had a fun, relaxing, effortless evening that ended with a very nice kiss (shhh! don’t tell my mother). Here's hoping for date #3 which will (oh darn) require another date outfit).
That’s it. Happy weekend all and don’t forget those oxygen masks to keep the smoke out!