April 26, 2004
Book Review: Three Romance Novels

Three Dog Knight
by Tori Phillips
paperback from Harlequin Historical, 1998

Kissing Frogs
by Laura Marie Altom
paperback from Love Spell, 2004

Absolutely Captivated
by Kristine Grayson
paperback from Zebra Books, 2004

[spoilers behind the cut]

Three Dog Knight

Oh, this one was just so cute, and such a quick read. I expected it from a Harlequin, of course. But it was entertaining. The story centers around Alicia, the lost daughter of dead King Edward, who hides in plain sight. In order to make her safe, her adopted father engages her to the youngest son (Thomas) of an old friend, and when her family is gone, Alicia shows up to claim her husband.

But Thomas is no longer simply a youngest son -- he is now the Lord, and thought strange by everyone. He is a quiet man, preferring the company of his dogs to people, because dogs cannot betray him. And yet Alicia fits into his life, and disrupts it utterly as her secret is revealed.

There is a happy ending, of course. And it was just fun getting there. I liked Thomas... he was a sweet man.

Kissing Frogs

Out of the trio of romances, this is the one I liked the least. The concept was cute... a biologist makes a fool out of herself trying to make a name for herself in the world of studying frogs. She wants only to be someone her father can be amazed by, and she keeps failing him. So when she finds a new species of frog, she is so amazed that she kisses it.

And gets the centuries old prince.

The reason I didn't like it? I didn't like Wolfe. He was an ass. Admittedly, he fit into the right way of the world for his time. And he did change, which was cute and sweet, but I got tired of someone screaming "wench!". The characters tripped me up. I'd give it to someone to read, but I don't think I'd say go run out and buy it. Although I would try another one by the same author.

Absolutely Captivated

Take one 150 year old mage, with a prophecy that she will find love near the entrance to Faerie. Add one man who never knew he was a mage, along with a son with more power than he should have. Add in the three fates, who no longer have magic and have been replaced by a trio of teens.

Quick paced and entertaining, I loved this one. Zoe Sinclair was snappy, with great dialogue. There was a strong mythos behind how magic worked, and the rules of human magic versus faerie magic. Gods were explained. Myths were explained. And it all seemed somehow plausible. Within a romance novel! I'm definitely picking up more by Kristine Grayson -- I think she did a bangup job with this one, and I look forward to seeing more by her.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 07:17 PM
Book Review: Mage Heart

Mage Heart
by Jane Routley
hardcover from Avon, 1996
paperback from Avon, 2000

I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked this one up. I had bought it on a whim at a con, in hardcover, off a used book pile. It seemed interesting, but I'd never heard of the author or the title.

Starting it was difficult. The writing style and I didn't get along -- it has an almost formalized style that was difficult for me to get into. But then, once I did, we just rocketed along.

[spoilers behind the cut]

The book centers around Dion, the only female mage. She has heard of others, in other lands, but where she grew up, only the men are mages, and even her tutor (who selected her in order to prove women could become mages) never quite believed in her.

This leaves Dion at the beginning of the story as a young mage who has no belief in her own power, and a bit of a prude from a foreign land who has no idea how to fit into how things are done here. She is terrified of witch hunts. Terrified and yet fascinated by demons. And afraid of her new employer, who is the mistress of the Duke, and claims a necromancer wishes to kill her.

Throughout the story Dion grows, learns to trust, learns how to function within society. She learns that not everything she was told as a youngster is true, including about herself. She comes into her own with her power.

Once I really got into it, some of the politics reminded me of shades of Carey's works, like I was reading a distant predecessor of the style. Yes, this is a complement. The shades of romance, seen through the eyes of a 17 year old girl, become stronger throughout the novel, but I will tell you only that this is no mere romance novel. And if you expect it to be such, you will be surprised at the end.

Was it knock my socks off amazing? No. But it was fun, and an enjoyable read, and I'm glad I worked through the beginning rather than just set it aside and go on to something simpler. It was worth it.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 06:55 PM
Book Review: The DaVinci Code

The DaVinci Code
by Dan Brown
hardcover from Doubleday 2003

Everybody has been telling me to read this book. We bought it for Kevin, and once he got started he kept telling me I had to read it. Then Audrey read it, and *she* kept telling me.

So I started reading it. And yeah, they were right.

[spoilers behind the cut]

It isn't the writing that wowed me in this book. In fact, I had a real hard time getting into it at first because the writing is very simple, and had a sort of Dick & Jane feeling to it. Simple sentences, simple ways of speaking. I felt a little like I was being talked down to.

But the subject material. WOW. This is amazing. It isn't what he did wrong, but what he did right. And what he did right is fantastic.

I loved the story, loved the subject matter. The mix of Catholicism and paganism is totally up my alley. Looking at the Christian mythos from the point of view of history, and how religion worked to become what it is today. Seeing the different ideas, and the concept of how the grail is not necessarily a chalice, but a symbolic chalice instead. Absolutely lovely.

And he teaches the symbology throughout the novel so well that by the end you're picking it up and going right along with Langdon (the central character) so that as he's figuring it out, you're figuring it out. I loved it. I didn't feel cheated because I was starting to guess things, but I felt like I'd learned something. Learned a new way of thinking. A new way of looking at things.

This book isn't for everyone. It isn't always complementary to the church, and it's theories rock the foundation of Christ. It fit in beautifully with my own views, and rooted a centuries old religion into a reality I could sink my teeth into.

It makes me want to go read more on the history it evoked, and see which of the works mentioned were real (if any). I know the Priory of Sion is real, and I'd like to find out more about this particular grail mythos. It is rare that a piece of fiction can make me thirst for more information the way this does. It is the sign of a well-written novel.

Would I recommend it? Highly. It is a quick and easy read, and highly enjoyable, and the puzzles in it are entertaining and fun to work through. Add in tension and a dash of romance, and it has it all.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 06:47 PM
April 19, 2004
Diet: Lunch, 4/19/2004

Lunch was a favorite "pretending to cheat" lunch. Had an 8 pt lunch, consisting of enough food to keep me stuffed for most of the rest of the day.

Weight Watchers Mac & Cheese (4 pts)
weight watchers chicken marsala (3 pts)
2 Grandma's Guilt Free Cookies (1 pt)
Diet Soda (0 pts)

The two meals are so cheap in points that I can make this incrediby filling lunch and feel like I'm cheating. Is good.

I have leftover asparagus in the fridge for later, when I need a snack.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 12:59 PM
Diet: Breakfast -- 4/19/2004

Keeping myself honest at the risk of boring all of you.

3.5 Point breakfast today, with a 1 Point snack for later this morning.

Breakfast Sandwich
-- 2 slices organic low carb bread made with olive oil & rosemary, toasted
------ very flavorful, a bit heavy, better than many low carb breads
-- snippet of low fat ham
-- slice fat free cheese
-- little bit of low fat margarine
-- 1/2 c egg beaters with veggies, scrambled

I'm still hungry after this, which might be lower amount of carbs. The two slices of bread together came out to equal 12g of carbs, before fiber, and I'm not sure that's going to be enough to keep me going.

On the other hand, brought 1 1/2 c of beautiful fresh strawberries which I will snack on shortly. Mm, yum.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 08:25 AM