L. J. Smith’s everything-in-a-blender middle-grade-ish fantasies have been reprinted at last. The first book has a lot of plot coupons and somewhat random action, the second book has a distinctly anti-climactic climax, and both are kind of clunky and awkward, but they are so sweet and playful that I don’t much care.

Three sisters and a brother find a talking fox who delivers an eye-glazing expository lump about how there’s this other world with fairies and stuff and her sorceress mistress Morgana has been kidnapped and trapped there by some evil people, help! The kids proceed to go back and forth between our world and another via magic mirrors, fighting things, meeting strange creatures, and discovering new aspects of themselves.

What makes this so much fun are the kids themselves, who are vividly drawn, and their relationships with each other: Alys, the heroic oldest sister, who is strongly associated with King Arthur; Janie, the sarcastic genius, who becomes a magical mad scientist and is possibly associated with Mordred; the very young Claudia, who is dyslexic and loves animals and has plausible little-kid meltdowns; and Charles, the token boy, who spends most of his time making wisecracks and getting kidnapped by flirtatious, nitwitted fairies.

There are monsters, flying snakes, Morgan Le Fay, earthquakes, Los Angeles, riddles, uncooperative familiars (Janie gets those), significant swords (Alys gets those), well-meaning but none-too-bright talking animals (Claudia gets those), and Kryptonite (Charles gets that.) It’s meant for a younger audience than Smith’s other books, but if you enjoyed the comedy of Daughters of Darkness, the kitchen-sink quality of Forbidden Game, or the girl-centricity of Secret Circle, you will probably enjoy these as well.

The Night of the Solstice (Wildworld) (Only $4.00 on Amazon!)

Heart of Valor (Wildworld)
You all know I like L. J. Smith. But these novels are dreadful, almost entirely lacking in the playfulness, fun characters, and interesting twists on genre tropes I enjoyed in her better books in other series.

Except for the fourth book. The fourth book is fairly interesting. Largely because spoiler )

[livejournal.com profile] yhlee showed me an episode of the TV series, and I have to say, that was much better. Damon is lots of fun, though Elena and the ever-boring Stefan, clearly cast for his vague resemblance to sparklepire Edward Cullen, have no chemistry.

Back to the books, I give you The Vampire Diaries in Fifteen Minutes!

Elena: I rule the high school! Bow before me, minions!

Minions: (bow.)

Stefan: I have only just laid eyes on you, Elena, but you are fire, ice, fire in ice, a white tiger, a sugared violet, a ravaged princess in a tower, snow, sapphires, midnight, steel, and… Damon, did you steal my thesaurus? Anyway, let’s get engaged!

Elena: We’ve only known each other for two days and barely interacted at all, but okay!

Damon: (lurks; drops Stefan in a well; turns into a raven; eats the gym coach; laughs evilly; menaces Stefan; menaces Elena; drinks human blood to get more powerful; is way more fun than anyone else.)

Elena: Stefan, drink my blood so you can get more powerful and defend me from Damon, or else Damon will kill us all. I want you to and it won’t kill me.

Stefan: Absolutely not! Drinking blood from humans is wrong! Even if it won’t hurt them, they consent, and otherwise everyone, including them, will die!

Rachel: (stubs fingers trying to reach through book to strangle Stefan.)

Elena: My thoughts are layered, like a parfait.

Rachel: (notes that this is an actual line from the book.)

Kitten: (is possessed by Big Bad; tries to bite Elena’s little sister.)

Everyone: DOOOOOM!!! We must save everyone from the cats!

Rachel (is not making this up; also, is reminded of the episode of the X-Files where stage hands hurled stuffed cats at the actors to simulate a cat attack.)

More DOOOOOOOOOOOOM. )

Book four is actually fairly entertaining and contains some deliberate comedy (thank God). The excruciating Elena-Stefan relationship is sidelined, which improves everything enormously. But not enough to make me read book five, which is supposed to be horrible. Not even on a plane, which is where I read the first four.

The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening and The Struggle

The Vampire Diaries: The Fury and Dark Reunion

Long-belated sequel, which I haven’t read; note that it has been nearly universally dissed as a trainwreck, including by people who loved the first four: The Vampire Diaries: The Return: Nightfall
You all know I like L. J. Smith. But these novels are dreadful, almost entirely lacking in the playfulness, fun characters, and interesting twists on genre tropes I enjoyed in her better books in other series.

Except for the fourth book. The fourth book is fairly interesting. Largely because spoiler )

[livejournal.com profile] yhlee showed me an episode of the TV series, and I have to say, that was much better. Damon is lots of fun, though Elena and the ever-boring Stefan, clearly cast for his vague resemblance to sparklepire Edward Cullen, have no chemistry.

Back to the books, I give you The Vampire Diaries in Fifteen Minutes!

Elena: I rule the high school! Bow before me, minions!

Minions: (bow.)

Stefan: I have only just laid eyes on you, Elena, but you are fire, ice, fire in ice, a white tiger, a sugared violet, a ravaged princess in a tower, snow, sapphires, midnight, steel, and… Damon, did you steal my thesaurus? Anyway, let’s get engaged!

Elena: We’ve only known each other for two days and barely interacted at all, but okay!

Damon: (lurks; drops Stefan in a well; turns into a raven; eats the gym coach; laughs evilly; menaces Stefan; menaces Elena; drinks human blood to get more powerful; is way more fun than anyone else.)

Elena: Stefan, drink my blood so you can get more powerful and defend me from Damon, or else Damon will kill us all. I want you to and it won’t kill me.

Stefan: Absolutely not! Drinking blood from humans is wrong! Even if it won’t hurt them, they consent, and otherwise everyone, including them, will die!

Rachel: (stubs fingers trying to reach through book to strangle Stefan.)

Elena: My thoughts are layered, like a parfait.

Rachel: (notes that this is an actual line from the book.)

Kitten: (is possessed by Big Bad; tries to bite Elena’s little sister.)

Everyone: DOOOOOM!!! We must save everyone from the cats!

Rachel (is not making this up; also, is reminded of the episode of the X-Files where stage hands hurled stuffed cats at the actors to simulate a cat attack.)

More DOOOOOOOOOOOOM. )

Book four is actually fairly entertaining and contains some deliberate comedy (thank God). The excruciating Elena-Stefan relationship is sidelined, which improves everything enormously. But not enough to make me read book five, which is supposed to be horrible. Not even on a plane, which is where I read the first four.

The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening and The Struggle

The Vampire Diaries: The Fury and Dark Reunion

Long-belated sequel, which I haven’t read; note that it has been nearly universally dissed as a trainwreck, including by people who loved the first four: The Vampire Diaries: The Return: Nightfall
Links to all the Yuletide stories I've ever written.

My assignment, to my delight, was for L. J. Smith! It was for one of her more obscure series, The Secret Circle, which is about teenage witches. That plus the length of the story probably explains why I got the fewest comments I have ever received at Yuletide or else everyone else who read it hated it. (It was correctly guessed as being written by me by [livejournal.com profile] shewhowashope, who had spotty net access and couldn't comment.) But I had a blast writing it, and my recipient genuinely adored it.

The story not only spoils the entire trilogy in its first sentence, but probably doesn’t make much sense if you haven’t read the series.

The Star in the Sapphire

It contains non-vanilla sex of a spoilery nature, described at about a PG-13 level. This came about because my recipient said she likes smut, plot, and character-driven plots, and also requested a certain pairing. I ended up writing a character-driven, plotty story in which a certain sex act is essential to the plot.

Read more... )
Links to all the Yuletide stories I've ever written.

My assignment, to my delight, was for L. J. Smith! It was for one of her more obscure series, The Secret Circle, which is about teenage witches. That plus the length of the story probably explains why I got the fewest comments I have ever received at Yuletide or else everyone else who read it hated it. (It was correctly guessed as being written by me by [livejournal.com profile] shewhowashope, who had spotty net access and couldn't comment.) But I had a blast writing it, and my recipient genuinely adored it.

The story not only spoils the entire trilogy in its first sentence, but probably doesn’t make much sense if you haven’t read the series.

The Star in the Sapphire

It contains non-vanilla sex of a spoilery nature, described at about a PG-13 level. This came about because my recipient said she likes smut, plot, and character-driven plots, and also requested a certain pairing. I ended up writing a character-driven, plotty story in which a certain sex act is essential to the plot.

Read more... )
Thank you all very, very much!

Nigella Lawson: How to Eat and How to Be a Domestic Goddess. Cookbooks. Because I love reading them, and Lawson's Feast (thanks [livejournal.com profile] gwyniera!) was marvellous: personal, funny, unpretentious, tempting.

The Freedom Line: The Brave Men and Women Who Rescued Allied Airmen from the Nazis During World War II. Self-explanatory, I would think.

Making the Corps. Nonfiction on Marines, recommended by [livejournal.com profile] oyceter. Love those training sequences!

Naomi Novik: Victory of Eagles. Adrian is now madly in love with the series, as am I. Perhaps we can read this one aloud to each other, if 1-3 chapters/week doesn't drive us mad.

Kathleen Duey: Skin Hunger. Loved this, loved it, loved it. Read it from the library, couldn't wait to own it.

L.J. Smith: Night World No. 2: Dark Angel; The Chosen; Soulmate. Didn't like the last and Smith rather hilariously dissed the first herself, explaining that it was conceived when she was fifteen (and since the charm of all her books lies in their closeness to the teenage id, I find that both terrifying and awesome), but the middle one sounds pretty good.

Jo Walton: Half a Crown. Final entry in her horrifyingly brilliant fascist England trilogy. Loved the first two and would even re-read them despite their creepifyingly convincing subject matter.

Neil Gaiman: The Graveyard Book. Because my favorite of his prose works is Coraline, his other book for children.
Thank you all very, very much!

Nigella Lawson: How to Eat and How to Be a Domestic Goddess. Cookbooks. Because I love reading them, and Lawson's Feast (thanks [livejournal.com profile] gwyniera!) was marvellous: personal, funny, unpretentious, tempting.

The Freedom Line: The Brave Men and Women Who Rescued Allied Airmen from the Nazis During World War II. Self-explanatory, I would think.

Making the Corps. Nonfiction on Marines, recommended by [livejournal.com profile] oyceter. Love those training sequences!

Naomi Novik: Victory of Eagles. Adrian is now madly in love with the series, as am I. Perhaps we can read this one aloud to each other, if 1-3 chapters/week doesn't drive us mad.

Kathleen Duey: Skin Hunger. Loved this, loved it, loved it. Read it from the library, couldn't wait to own it.

L.J. Smith: Night World No. 2: Dark Angel; The Chosen; Soulmate. Didn't like the last and Smith rather hilariously dissed the first herself, explaining that it was conceived when she was fifteen (and since the charm of all her books lies in their closeness to the teenage id, I find that both terrifying and awesome), but the middle one sounds pretty good.

Jo Walton: Half a Crown. Final entry in her horrifyingly brilliant fascist England trilogy. Loved the first two and would even re-read them despite their creepifyingly convincing subject matter.

Neil Gaiman: The Graveyard Book. Because my favorite of his prose works is Coraline, his other book for children.
Teenage Cassie moves to New Salem and becomes part of a coven of teenage witches. Hijinks, battles with evil, angst, crytals, crystal skulls, magic silver garters, soulmates, deliberate comedy (Pizza Man He Delivers!), and a metric ton of barely subtextual lesbian longing ensue. Loved it!

The best part of this trilogy for me was how central and often sensual the relationships among the girls were. Especially the battle between the saintly good witch Diana and the sexy bad witch Faye, fought by proxy over the allegiance of new girl Cassie, who has a pro forma soulmate relationship with boring boy witch Adam, a much more interesting relationship with cool boy witch Nick ("Nick was not at all like an iguana"), and gives every indication of being head-over-heels with Diana. Cassie is constantly admiring Diana's purity, and at one point they share a bed.

The supporting girl characters are not hugely complex, but vivid-- especially sexy-but-not-stupid Suzan and babydyke (is that offensive coming from a straight woman, or in general? if so, I'll rephrase it) Deborah. One of the very sexiest bits in the entire book is Deborah giving a Cassie a totally heterosexual ride on her throbbing motorcycle.

Also, there are vampire kittens.

Read more... )
Teenage Cassie moves to New Salem and becomes part of a coven of teenage witches. Hijinks, battles with evil, angst, crytals, crystal skulls, magic silver garters, soulmates, deliberate comedy (Pizza Man He Delivers!), and a metric ton of barely subtextual lesbian longing ensue. Loved it!

The best part of this trilogy for me was how central and often sensual the relationships among the girls were. Especially the battle between the saintly good witch Diana and the sexy bad witch Faye, fought by proxy over the allegiance of new girl Cassie, who has a pro forma soulmate relationship with boring boy witch Adam, a much more interesting relationship with cool boy witch Nick ("Nick was not at all like an iguana"), and gives every indication of being head-over-heels with Diana. Cassie is constantly admiring Diana's purity, and at one point they share a bed.

The supporting girl characters are not hugely complex, but vivid-- especially sexy-but-not-stupid Suzan and babydyke (is that offensive coming from a straight woman, or in general? if so, I'll rephrase it) Deborah. One of the very sexiest bits in the entire book is Deborah giving a Cassie a totally heterosexual ride on her throbbing motorcycle.

Also, there are vampire kittens.

Read more... )
rachelmanija: (LJ Smith is love)
( Jun. 13th, 2008 07:07 pm)
That the first three books in L. J. Smith's Night World series have been reprinted in an omnibus. That includes Secret Vampire and Spellbinder which I have not read, and Daughters of Darkness, which I adored. I bought it, so if anyone wants my copy of Daughters of Darkness (reviewed if you click the tag), speak up.

The shortest way I can describe L. J. Smith is that she's like Stephanie Meyer with a sense of humor, way less padding, generally more active heroines, more action, more plot, and actually kind of good if you're in touch with your teenage id, and God knows I am.
rachelmanija: (LJ Smith is love)
( Jun. 13th, 2008 07:07 pm)
That the first three books in L. J. Smith's Night World series have been reprinted in an omnibus. That includes Secret Vampire and Spellbinder which I have not read, and Daughters of Darkness, which I adored. I bought it, so if anyone wants my copy of Daughters of Darkness (reviewed if you click the tag), speak up.

The shortest way I can describe L. J. Smith is that she's like Stephanie Meyer with a sense of humor, way less padding, generally more active heroines, more action, more plot, and actually kind of good if you're in touch with your teenage id, and God knows I am.
Since she'd known Julian, he'd chased her with UFOs, dark elves, and giant insects-- not to mention a Shadow Wolf and Snake. He'd lurked in the shadows of her room and hissed terrifying messages at her in the dark. He'd caught her in a cave-in, left her alone to drown, and menaced her with a cyber-lion. He'd kidnapped her and hunted her throughout two worlds. What could he do to top all that?

Don't worry! This is L. J. Smith! She and Julian will think of something.

In this over-the-top mash-up of teen horror pulp and Norse mythology, exquisitely lovely sixteen-year-old Jenny, who has forest-green eyes and hair like honey (sticky and made by bees) needs a game for an underplanned party she's throwing for her boyfriend Tom and five of her best friends. She opens a door in what seemed to be a mural before she touched it, and meets Julian, he of the hair white as snow or frost or the rope that bound Fenris, and eyes of a blue that not only does not exist in nature, but is so blue that it cannot even be described by mere mortals, though Smith gamely gives it repeated shots.

Julian gazes at her lustfully, then sells her an Evil Game. Next thing she knows, she and her friends are trapped in a house between dimensions, being menaced by their greatest fears -- which are very individual and so entertaining, unpredictable, and creepy -- while Julian pops up periodically to alternately kiss and threaten Jenny, and generally lurk around being hot in tight black shirts.

The bad parts of the trilogy are so unashamedly trashy that they're almost beyond criticism. Terrible descriptions that get repeated more than they deserve are prominent, and often involve eyes and hair. I will, however, criticize the fact that Tom, Julian's competetion, is really boring. Attempts to give him depth fail. Also, Zach, the moody cousin, deserved more page-time. And though I liked Jenny, I am still baffled by the fact that Julian fell in love with her when she was five and has not gotten bored while watching her boring life in the following eleven years.

But the pace is excellent, the characters are fun (especially the kung fu fighting Dee, the only character who's actually having a good time), and it has Messy Rooms of Doom, Kabbalah, the Erl King, dimensional portals in toilets, and an evil fairground cyber-lion. I gobbled this up in two days, and would have read more if there had been more.
Since she'd known Julian, he'd chased her with UFOs, dark elves, and giant insects-- not to mention a Shadow Wolf and Snake. He'd lurked in the shadows of her room and hissed terrifying messages at her in the dark. He'd caught her in a cave-in, left her alone to drown, and menaced her with a cyber-lion. He'd kidnapped her and hunted her throughout two worlds. What could he do to top all that?

Don't worry! This is L. J. Smith! She and Julian will think of something.

In this over-the-top mash-up of teen horror pulp and Norse mythology, exquisitely lovely sixteen-year-old Jenny, who has forest-green eyes and hair like honey (sticky and made by bees) needs a game for an underplanned party she's throwing for her boyfriend Tom and five of her best friends. She opens a door in what seemed to be a mural before she touched it, and meets Julian, he of the hair white as snow or frost or the rope that bound Fenris, and eyes of a blue that not only does not exist in nature, but is so blue that it cannot even be described by mere mortals, though Smith gamely gives it repeated shots.

Julian gazes at her lustfully, then sells her an Evil Game. Next thing she knows, she and her friends are trapped in a house between dimensions, being menaced by their greatest fears -- which are very individual and so entertaining, unpredictable, and creepy -- while Julian pops up periodically to alternately kiss and threaten Jenny, and generally lurk around being hot in tight black shirts.

The bad parts of the trilogy are so unashamedly trashy that they're almost beyond criticism. Terrible descriptions that get repeated more than they deserve are prominent, and often involve eyes and hair. I will, however, criticize the fact that Tom, Julian's competetion, is really boring. Attempts to give him depth fail. Also, Zach, the moody cousin, deserved more page-time. And though I liked Jenny, I am still baffled by the fact that Julian fell in love with her when she was five and has not gotten bored while watching her boring life in the following eleven years.

But the pace is excellent, the characters are fun (especially the kung fu fighting Dee, the only character who's actually having a good time), and it has Messy Rooms of Doom, Kabbalah, the Erl King, dimensional portals in toilets, and an evil fairground cyber-lion. I gobbled this up in two days, and would have read more if there had been more.
I finally managed to obtain the sequels to the delicious psychic kids novel, This Strange Power. While I like the first book the best, partly for the thrill of discovery but also because it had my favorite plotline, "We all live together in a little psychic house," the third book in particular brought on the crack and came to a mostly satisfying conclusion, even though I don't ship the same characters the author does.

In her heart, Kaitlyn was sorry she'd called them the human pupae )

I have obtained but not yet read the complete "Secret Circle" trilogy, book two of "The Forbidden Game," book two of "The Vampire Diaries," and two volumes of "Night World," which has no sequence listed: Soulmate and Daughters of Darkness. Can those be read in any order? How do you all like the ones I have?
I finally managed to obtain the sequels to the delicious psychic kids novel, This Strange Power. While I like the first book the best, partly for the thrill of discovery but also because it had my favorite plotline, "We all live together in a little psychic house," the third book in particular brought on the crack and came to a mostly satisfying conclusion, even though I don't ship the same characters the author does.

In her heart, Kaitlyn was sorry she'd called them the human pupae )

I have obtained but not yet read the complete "Secret Circle" trilogy, book two of "The Forbidden Game," book two of "The Vampire Diaries," and two volumes of "Night World," which has no sequence listed: Soulmate and Daughters of Darkness. Can those be read in any order? How do you all like the ones I have?
As you all ought to know by now, one of my very favorite genres is kids with paranormal abilities in an institution or school for talented youngsters. I had thought I had read or at least knew about all examples of that plot. So why did no one ever mention this one to me?

I think LJ Smith was around when I was in high school, but I inexplicably failed to read anything by her. Often, in those cases, one misses the window. But occasionally, one's adult self is transported back into the high school reading mind-set. So, yes: this is a book about a gorgeous yet misunderstood and outcast girl, named Kaitlyn of course, with out of control psychic powers (she draws the future) who is sent to a school for psychic youngsters where she meets kids like her, gets involved in a love triangle between two gorgeous guys, discovers that the school is totally sinister, and has adventures. It was awesome.

The school in question is in California, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that the cast of characters was at least somewhat California-multicultural: One psychic kid (Anna) is Suquamish, one (Lewis) is Chinese-American, and the supporting cast includes Mexican-Americans, punks, people using wheelchairs (OK, so the last is also a plot point), etc. There's some cliches but also some overturning of them: Anna is serene and her power is to control animals, but it's not at all a mystical union; Lewis has tons of electronic equipment, but it turns out that its purpose is so that he can have access to MTV under any circumstance.

Personally, Lewis would be my choice between the three boys, but no: Kaitlyn is torn between the misunderstood, moody psychic vampire Gabriel, who has dark hair and pale skin and a criminal record, and Rob, the too-good-to-be-true, innocent and gentle blonde healer. I am hoping Rob will turn out to be secretly evil.
As you all ought to know by now, one of my very favorite genres is kids with paranormal abilities in an institution or school for talented youngsters. I had thought I had read or at least knew about all examples of that plot. So why did no one ever mention this one to me?

I think LJ Smith was around when I was in high school, but I inexplicably failed to read anything by her. Often, in those cases, one misses the window. But occasionally, one's adult self is transported back into the high school reading mind-set. So, yes: this is a book about a gorgeous yet misunderstood and outcast girl, named Kaitlyn of course, with out of control psychic powers (she draws the future) who is sent to a school for psychic youngsters where she meets kids like her, gets involved in a love triangle between two gorgeous guys, discovers that the school is totally sinister, and has adventures. It was awesome.

The school in question is in California, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that the cast of characters was at least somewhat California-multicultural: One psychic kid (Anna) is Suquamish, one (Lewis) is Chinese-American, and the supporting cast includes Mexican-Americans, punks, people using wheelchairs (OK, so the last is also a plot point), etc. There's some cliches but also some overturning of them: Anna is serene and her power is to control animals, but it's not at all a mystical union; Lewis has tons of electronic equipment, but it turns out that its purpose is so that he can have access to MTV under any circumstance.

Personally, Lewis would be my choice between the three boys, but no: Kaitlyn is torn between the misunderstood, moody psychic vampire Gabriel, who has dark hair and pale skin and a criminal record, and Rob, the too-good-to-be-true, innocent and gentle blonde healer. I am hoping Rob will turn out to be secretly evil.
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