I have fond memories of reading L.J. Smith's YA Paranormal novels throughout my middle and high school years. To this day, the Forbidden Game Trilogy remains one of my favorite YA stories. With the advent of the CW show The Vampire Diaries, Smith has become more well-known as the years have progressed. I thought all was well within the TVD world...I was not aware of all the turmoil surrounding her contract with her publishing house...nor was I aware that she was recently dropped from her publishing contract. While I haven't kept up with The Vampire Diaries print stories, I am an avid watcher of the CW show. It's definitely disappointing to know that the "endgame" of TVD (both print and tv) will be written by somebody else and not the original author.
I was happy to see this article floating around on the web this morning...a good example of how Ms. Smith isn't letting her forced departure from her vampire series deter her from writing her own version of the TVD endgame.
Fans of L.J. Smith, enjoy this article from The Daily Dot aptly titled "How the Creator of 'Vampire Diaries' used Kindle Worlds to Get Back at Her Publisher".
Jane Austen Ruined my life by Beth Pattillo
I didn't know whether to go 2 gnomes or 3 gnomeson this one. It's light, fluffy chick-lit down to its last sentence. I picked it up because I found the premise interesting -- meet Emma, a newly divorced English professor who sets off to London to (re)discover herself and try to restore her academic career with the discovery of a lifetime - Jane Austen's lost letters guarded by the secretive Formidables.
The story started out alright...a little cliche, but alright. But then it just started to spin its wheels and not go any further. Emma is a pretty annoying lead character (I hesitate to even call her a 'heroine')...I think Patillo was trying to present her as a flawed character (much like Austen's characters were flawed0, but Emma just comes across as whiny and incapable of doing anything.
I breezed through the last fifth of the book and I'm glad that I didn't spend much more time on the story. I won't give any spoilers, but I was highly dissatisfied with the ending. On one hand, I understand why the ending was as it was...but on the other hand, I wish it was more satisfying. I really can't go into more detail without giving a spoiler. I think there could have been ways the author could have more solidly hinted at a satisfying ending...be it through a line or two of dialogue or through the Epilogue. As it stands, I finished the book and was left with a general feeling of "So...what happened??"
I was also amused by the portrayal of academia and professors. As someone who has been in graduate school, I find it extremely hard to believe that a TA claiming their supervisor, a full Professor employed by the university, has committed plagiarism would be enough to get Emma kicked off the faculty. Even with her star, tenured ex-husband backing up the TA...I just don't see the university going "Get thee hence, plagiarist!" quite that easily. There are SO so many politics involved in higher education (at least in my experience) that this would not have been a quick or an easy decision for the university unless Emma had done something else to ruffle the university's or the faculty's feathers.
So, I will give this one three stars because I guess I liked it. And I did finish it. I just wish the story had lived to its potential.
Bone Crossed by Patricia Briggs
Another solid installment of the Mercy Thompson series. I was hesitant to start reading this one so soon after finishing Iron Kissed because I really enjoyed Iron Kissed.
Despite my reservations, Bone Kissed was pretty good! In this novel, Briggs takes us back to the vampire side of the Tri-Cities and we delve further into the mess made by Andre/Stephan/Mercy etc that was addressed in an earlier book. The vampire seethe Mistress, Marsilia, is upset at Mercy's actions that resulted in the death of Andre and seeks to punish Mercy...even if that means murder. As Mercy starts to deal with the fallout of murdering a vampire, however, she is introduced to a vampire that even other vampires call "The Monster".
Oh, and Mercy officially makes her decision -- Adam or Samuel?
I think, as of right now, I still prefer the fae side of the Tri-Cities story arc. The vampires are interesting and definitely more developed at this point in the plotline, but I am kind of tired of vampires. I know when the books originally came out, vampires weren't as cliche as they are now...but I'm still a little burned out on the vamps. Briggs does a great job, however, establishing interesting focal points within the vampire mythology that kept me interested in the plotline and the character development. Stephan is a great example - I liked him in book one, but I like him even more now that I am in book four. Briggs is excellent at developing rich, flawed characters.
Looking forward to book number five!
Glamorous Illusions by Lisa Tawn Bergren
I have been trying to find another set of books by Bergren that I enjoy as much as I enjoyed the Northern Lights Trilogy: Three Historical Romance Novels from Lisa T. Bergren: The Captain's Bride, Deep Harbor, Midnight Sun and the Full Circle series. Both those series are fond reading memories from my middle and high school years. They are not YA, but I would consider them staples of the Christian fiction genre.
The Grand Tour series seems to be off to a somewhat promising start. I don't think it will live up to the Northern Lights Trilogy, but I do rank that one pretty high up there.
The premise of Glamorous Illusions centers around Cora Diehl who finds out that she is the illegitimate daughter of copper baron Mr. Kensington. Kensington takes Cora away from her birth mother and adopted father and places her among her half-siblings as they take the Grand Tour across Europe. Cora is then faced with social and cultural situations she had never dreamed she would deal with as she struggles to get to know her new family, her new social standing, and herself better.
Structuring the book around the Grand Tour (which was, historically, a rite of passage for youth of privilege) is a pretty fun idea. You get the glamour of Europe and the dazzle of the upper class. I did find the way Mr. Kensington swooped in and plucked Cora out of her home and her entire way of living to be extremely jarring. It kind of seemed like Bergren needed a way to bring a gauche and somewhat naive girl into a group of social, aristocratic veterans. There was a little bit of anger on the part of Cora towards Mr. Kensington for pretty much ruining her life.
But then she got over it.
The (adoptive) father she's known her whole life is laying sick and possibly dying in a hospital bed and she "misses [her] Papa" and that's it? Kensington has an illegitimate child with a maid (Cora's mother) and then disposes of the evidence so as not to destroy his own marriage because of his mistake? Oh, but he sent Cora a piece of jewelry or two throughout the years so he's not a complete absentee father.
Yeah, not really buying that.
I felt as though there should have been more anger...more resentment...more angst...before Cora settled into her new life.
Maybe I'm over-analyzing things...
Anyway, I do plan on picking up book number two. It's noNorthern Lights Trilogy, but it's not too bad. It has the potential to pick up steam as they chug across Europe...so let's see where this Grand Tour Train goes.
Undead and Unwed by Mary Janice Davidson
This one's a big bag of "meh".
On the one hand I liked it. It was a light read that had its funny moments. And the vampire mythology wasn't as stereotypical as your average book.
But on the flipside, the book was almost too light and too irreverent. When you take a step back and look at the plot, Davidson throws in some pretty heavy plot points...rape, child abuse, murder, etc. Yet, the book is so fast-paced you almost don't have time to process the "bad stuff" and instead get bounced around from joke to joke to joke. You're twenty pages on before it clicks - "oh, there was a rape reference there" or "oh there's horrific child abuse being attempted here.".
Let's be honest...Twilight aside, vampires aren't supposed to be sparkly high school students full of teenage angst. You expect an element of horror because vampires originated in the horror genre. I just didn't like that the elements of horror in this book were so glossed over that they lost their meaning. You could argue the "horror elements" were trivialized too much.
But, like I said...this is a quick read that does have its fun moments. I can see why a lot of people really enjoy this series. And I am not saying that a book can't be light and humorous while also dealing with heavier themes. I just wish the heavier themes in this book had been treated with more respect.
As of now I don't think I will pick up book number two.