Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Books I've Read In August 2011

1) The Outstretched Shadow (The Obsidian Trilogy, Book One), by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory

Kellen Tavadon, son of the Arch-Mage Lycaelon, thought he knew the way the world worked. His father, leading the wise and benevolent Council of Mages, protected and guided the citizens of the Golden City of the Bells. Young Mages in training-all men, for women were unfit to practice magic-memorized the intricate details of High Magic and aspired to seats on the council.

Then he found the forbidden Books of Wild Magic-or did they find him? Their Magic felt like a living thing, guided by the hearts and minds of those who practiced it and benefited from it.
Questioning everything he has known, Kellen discovers too many of the City's dark secrets. Banished, with the Outlaw Hunt on his heels, Kellen invokes Wild Magic-and finds himself running for his life with a unicorn at his side.

Rescued by a unicorn, healed by a female Wild Mage who knows more about Kellen than anyone outside the City should, meeting Elven royalty and Elven warriors, and plunged into a world full of magical beings-Kellen both revels in and fears his new freedom.

The one thing all the Mages of the City agreed on was that practicing Wild Magic corrupted a Mage. Turned him into a Demon. Would that be Kellen's fate?

Deep in Obsidian Mountain, the Demons are waiting. Since their defeat in the last great War, they've been biding their time, sowing the seeds of distrust and discontent between their human and Elven enemies. Very soon now, when the Demons rise to make war, there will be no alliance between High and Wild Magic to stand against them. And then all the world will belong to the Endarkened.

2) To Light A Candle (The Obsidian Trilogy, Book Two), by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory
The Demon Queen Attacks!
To his own surprise, young Kellen, once the disappointing son of the great Mage who leads the City’s Mage Council, has become a powerful Knight-Mage. Valued for his bravery and his skills as both wizard and warrior, Kellen joins the Elves’ war councils. Yet he cannot convince the City of his birth that it is in terrible danger.
Kellen’s sister Idalia, a Wild Mage with great healing ability, has pledged her heart to Jermayan, a proud Elven warrior. Someday Idalia will pay a tragic Price for a world-saving work of Wild Magic, but until then, she will claim any joy life can offer her.
Jermayan, who has learned much fighting at Kellen’s side and loving the human Idalia, finds that everything changes when he Bonds with a dragon while rescuing the Elf Prince and becomes the first Elven Mage in a thousand years.
Furious at her enemies’ success with the dragon, the Demon Queen attacks in force. Light struggles against Dark, like flickering candle flames buried deep in the shadow of Obsidian Mountain.

3) When Darkness Falls (The Obsidian Trilogy, Book 3), by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory

A great working of Wild Magic and High Magic strikes at the heart of the Demon Queen's plots, but the human city, the Golden City of the Bells, falls farther under her sway with each day that passes. And without the City's High Magicians, the Wild Magicians, the Elven Army, and all their allies will surely fall before the onslaught of the Demon Queen's malignant warriors.

But all hope is not lost. The Light's young mages, tempered by war, grow ever more powerful. High Mage Cilarnen learns an ancient secret that can make him, for a brief, white-hot time, the greatest mage in the world--unless it kills him.
Jermayan, the first Elf-Mage in centuries, has linked with the dragon Ancaladar and rediscovered the swift-as-thought powers of Elven magic, which can reshape mountains and summon lightning from clear skies.

Knight-Mage Kellen has molded his troops and the Unicorn Knights into a deadly fighting force. Soon the Elven King and his Commanders put Kellen's magical gifts to their greatest test, in the final battle between the Elves, the humans, and the Demons.

4) A Love That Multiplies--An Up-Close View Of How They Make It Work, by Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar
In this second book from the Duggars, they focus on the principles that equip them to face life's challenges—drawing from their most recent challenge with the 3-month premature birth of their newest child, Josie. They also share the new challenges their older children are facing as they prepare for adult life. Central to the book is a section on the principles that the Duggars have consistently taught their children. These simply worded principles are basic to the Duggar family and are shared in a way that other parents can incorporate in their own homes. A special chapter on homeschooling gives valuable information to parents who are considering this route or are already invested in it.

The world continues to be amazed by their nineteen well-groomed, well-behaved, well-schooled children and their home life, which focuses on family, financial responsibility, fun—and must importantly, faith. The Duggars show how parents can succeed whether they’re rearing a single child or several.

5) Crazy Like Us: The Globalization Of The American Psyche, by Ethan Watters
The most devastating consequence of the spread of American culture across the globe has not been our golden arches or our bomb craters, but our bulldozing of the human psyche itself. American-style depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and anorexia have begun to spread around the world like contagions, and the virus is us. Traveling from Hong Kong to Sri Lanka to Zanzibar to Japan, acclaimed journalist Ethan Watters witnesses firsthand how Western healers often steamroll indigenous expressions of mental health and madness and replace them with our own. In teaching the rest of the world to think like us, we have been homogenizing the way the world goes mad.

Total Year To Date: 35

Saturday, August 13, 2011

What Respect Means To Me

I've had my last button pushed, thanks to already being in a lousy mood for most of this month, and so I'm gonna shoot off my mouth here....and if you don't like it, I don't much care. It's my opinion, and I'm entitled to it!

When you make a commitment to be somewhere at a specific time, then you should BE THERE. If you have an emergency, that's one thing, and it's understandable that you might not be able to make it, and that you might not be able to let the other person know right away. But if you have plans with someone, and someone else asks you to do something, which would require you having to re-arrange the plans already made--at least in MY world--you ask the second person, whoever they may be, if you can do the thing with them at a later date.

Yes, I DO mean even if the person who asks you to do something is your parent, particularly if you are an adult. I love my mother deeply, and I'd do anything for her, but if I already had made plans to go somewhere with Barry, and we'd been looking forward to it for weeks, I'd have no qualms saying "Mom, I'm really busy today...but I can do that tomorrow, if that works for you." And you know what? She'd understand and we'd be fine...because that's the way she taught me the world is supposed to work. And it works in reverse as well...if I wanted Amy to go somewhere, or to do something, but she had already made plans with Kenny, then we'd work around those plans and make sure she wasn't late or didn't have to cancel. You HONOR your commitments, show the person you committed to that you realize their time is important and that they MATTER to you!!!

Yes, family comes first...but within reason! You don't drop everything for just anything a family member asks...PRIORITIES matter. And family means more than just your nuclear family, means the one you create with the one you love, as well....and the nuclear family needs to expand its circle to include that person and make them feel included, not continue to make them feel they're on the outside looking in.

And I'm gonna shut up now before I say way more than I want to put down here....

Hey Rocky, Watch Me Pull A Rabbit Out Of My Hat!

(A status on Facebook and the ensuing discussion prompted me to write about this in more detail)

It was almost 12 years ago when this incident happened, and I can still remember it very vividly. My older two children had been living with their father for about six months when I learned that was not where they were staying any longer. Their father and stepmother had separated, and the children were not staying with either of them, but with their paternal grandfather. Since he had no custody rights to them, I wanted to go pick them up and bring them back home with me. Unfortunately, my then husband and I did not have a vehicle, nor did we have access to one, which was frustrating me beyond belief.

I was online discussing the situation with my friend Dave, who lived in Texas (we were in Ohio), and was stunned beyond belief when he offered to drive to our home, pick us up and take us to pick up the children. (As a little background, Dave and I were strictly online friends at this point, who had never talked on the phone or met in person, but who had discovered a lot of parallels to our lives, and had become very close in a short time) I felt a little "strange" about accepting his offer, but at the same time there was this sense of it being the right thing to do, so I told him I would discuss it with my husband and get back to him. About half an hour later, Dave called and we worked out a few details, and he said he'd be getting on the road ASAP, and would see us the following evening.

The next day, we heard from Dave several times, giving us an update on his current location. When he finally arrived, bearing gifts on top of giving us his time, it was just as easy to talk to him in person as it had been online. We sat around talking and laughing for a while, then called it a night so we could get an early start the next morning.

Sunday morning, we had a four hour drive to get to the home of my former father-in-law. We had decided not to call and let them know we were coming, as we weren't sure they would be there when we arrived if we gave them any warning.

My husband and I went to the door when we got there, and the kids let us in, full of excitement. When I told them I was there to take them home, they were even MORE excited. My former father-in-law was less thrilled...he said that since my former husband wasn't there, he would have to discuss all of this with him before he could do anything. I understood him wanting to let his son know what was going on, but I reminded him that physical custody of the children was mine alone, by law, and that I had the papers with me to prove it, so there was nothing he could do to stop me from taking them.

In the end, we decided to take the kids out for a few hours, to a nearby museum, and give him time to contact his son without us all hovering around. We had a good time that day, as Dave and the kids got to know each other...and all of them ganged up on me, since teasing me was something they had in common. During that time out, Brian let us know that he wanted to stay a little longer with his grandfather, as the upcoming week was final exam week for him...but Samantha was finished with school for all intents and purposes.

Back at the house, we were greeted with a strange sight....the house was dark, and we got no response to ringing the doorbell. Brian went around the house, looking to see if he could see anyone home, knocking on windows and on the back door. After a few minutes, "The Colonel" came out onto the front porch, closing the door firmly behind him.

That's when it got even stranger....he informed us that he had contacted the local police department and that they would be arriving momentarily. He had contacted my former husband who had given his permission for the children to leave (as if I needed that!), but "The Colonel" wanted to make sure that it was all legally done (as if I was going to believe that a LAWYER didn't know what my custody papers meant!). So we stood there waiting patiently for the police officers to arrive.

Once the police got there and read the papers, they told "The Colonel" that there was really nothing for them to do, as long as we were going to be respectful and peaceful. He asked if they would stay and supervise the packing, adding that he didn't want the children to take anything he had bought for them. The police officer said they could take anything that was their personal clothing or belongings, no matter who bought it for them. He said "We're talking clothes and toys here, not microwaves or televisions. What are you going to do, wear their clothes and play with their toys?"

Unfortunately, "The Colonel" wasn't finished trying to stymie our plans. Turns out the front door had "somehow" gotten locked when he came out...and he didn't have his keys on him. He started talking about us going home, while he and the kids stayed somewhere overnight and got a locksmith to come out the next day, and then we could come back the following weekend to get the kids and their things. I just smiled and told my husband to go ask Dave, who was waiting in his van, if he had his tools with him. As he walked away, I informed the police officers and "The Colonel" that Dave was a licensed locksmith, and that I was fairly sure he kept his tools with him at all times. The look on the face of "The Colonel" was simply priceless....I knew there wouldn't be any other roadblocks that day.

It took Dave just a matter of seconds to unlock the front door for us, at which time one police officer took Samantha upstairs to help her pack up her things. His partner stayed downstairs to talk to Dave, as he said he had never seen a "legal" set of lockpicking tools.

And since that day, any time either Dave or I say "Hey, Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!" the other knows exactly what that means....LOL.

So, that's the story of how a virtual stranger became my "bestest" friend in the course of one weekend, and why he'll always have a special place in my heart...and always be "Uncle Dave" to Samantha. We love you, Dave...always have, always will!!!

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