Showing posts with label l.j. smith. Show all posts
Showing posts with label l.j. smith. Show all posts

Sunday, July 26, 2015

[Review] Origins (Stefan's Diaries #1) - L.J. Smith


In ORIGINS, we get to find out how it all began and how Stefan and Damon met and fell in love with Katherine.

These books are the prequels to the TV show and are written by a ghostwriter. They stand in no relation to the book series by L.J. Smith.
If you're a fan of the original books, this will definitely confuse you. If you're a fan of the show and want to find out how it all began, be my guest.

I'm a sucker for the TV show and it's not a secret. So naturally I jumped at an opportunity to find out the origin story of the Salvatore brothers and Katherine. Because all these books are written by a ghostwriter, the writing is very, basic, clean and absolutely not unique. It feels generic. The characterization of Stefan isn't really something I'd agree with as a fan of the show.

I've read the third novel before I read this one and as both a human and a vampire, Stefan acts like a little boy. There's nothing left of the charming gentleman of the first season, he's just an insecure kid. For a seventeen-year-old he's very immature and naive. I get that this probably the point - to show a side of Stefan that the fans of the show not know, but I just couldn't empathize with his character, because he's so unlike the Stefan that I know.

A Novelization of the Show

The relationship between Katherine and him is extremely off as well. Through the show you've got the impression that it was epic head-over-heels love between the two and they really thought they were meant for each other at the time. In ORIGINS, Stefan falls in love with her madly from the second he sees her and it's absolutely ridiculous. He's supposed to marry some other girl and is conflicted because he fell in love with Katherine after talking two sentences. Unbelievable. I didn't buy it and it really made me dislike him irrationally. Katherine isn't even portrayed charmingly. She's barely in the novel and Stefan characterizes her passively, which just leads to unrealistic expectations. More show, less tell.

I can just overall say that I was insanely bored with this and had to force myself to keep going. Stefan proves to be a super boring and almost sleepy character to read about. No doubt, had this been the first Stefan's Diaries book that I'd read, I wouldn't have even bothered to pick up the sequels. I think the main flaw of this is that they really tried to incorporate all the flashback scenes and dialogue from the show in too little time. Literally every scene we've seen with Katherine/Damon/Stefan in 1864 is in this novel and it happens in a ridiculously short time span. It's not realistic, it's just boring. I can't find any better adjective to describe it.

Rating:

☆☆

 

Overall: Do I Recommend?

I'm not a fan. I liked the third novel way better and even that one was a pretty mediocre read. I'm probably still going to continue reading these novels to find out more backstory to the show, because I'm really interested in the characters. The books on their own aren't worth reading if you're not a hardcore Vampire Diaries fan.



Additional Info

Published: November 2nd 2010
Pages: 237
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: YA / Paranormal / Vampires
ISBN: 9780062003935

Synopsis:
"A love triangle that will span eternity… 

The year is 1864 and the Civil War rages on. But seventeen-year-old Stefan Salvatore is fighting a battle all his own. Engaged to marry someone he does not love, Stefan falls for a mysterious girl named Katherine. With her gleaming curls and mischievous brown eyes, Katherine is beautiful and seduction…but she also harbors a dark secret: She’s a vampire.

Based on the popular CW TV show inspired by the bestselling novels, Stefan’s Diaries reveals what really happened between Stefan, Damon, and Katherine—and how the Vampire Diaries love triangle began."
(Source: Goodreads)

Have you seen the TV show or read the novels?

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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Great Books That Celebrate Diversity | Top Ten Tuesday





I decided to only stick with the books that have a striking amount of diversity and that I've read recently. All of these are guaranteed to not disappoint in terms of representation.

Here are my Top Ten Six Books That Celebrate Diversity


6. Insatiable (Insatiable #1) - Meg Cabot

Every novel by Meg is guaranteed to be full of diverse characters. There are more canonically non-hetero non-white characters in this than anything else. Love it, even though the book wasn't much for me for other reasons.





5. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe - Benjamin Alire Saenz

This is a haunting love story between two young boys. I have no idea what it is about this book, but it'll stay with you for a long time.


4. The Hunter (The Forbidden Game #1) - L.J. Smith

As a big fan of Smith's books I'm proud to add her to this list. Every novel she writes features a couple of diverse characters that are carefully thought out. She doesn't only slam diverse characters in there and doesn't develop them - they're often even more carefully developed than the main characters.
Also nobody writes a swoon-worthy romance like L.J.






3. Beauty Queens - Libba Bray

Essentially a satirical social critique, this book is packed with diversity. Also kickass females who don't take any crap from anyone in heels? Yaas.






2. Luna - Julie Anne Peters


This list would feel incomplete without the one book that got me into LGBTQ* lit in the first place. The story about the life of a transgirl, taught from her sister's point of view.








1. The Next Together (The Next Together #1) - Lauren James

I was surprised to find diversity in this - I love how James took the chance to add her personal twist on everything. Review to come, I really enjoyed this one. 
A little birdy told me that the sequel will feature a lesbian protagonist, so I'm very excited for that, too.




Have you read any of these?



Top Ten Tuesday is a meme originating from The Broke and the Bookish. Every Tuesday they choose topics that we are supposed to create a list about, considering our personal reading preferences.
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Friday, June 26, 2015

[Challenge] Horror Reading Challenge: Second Quarter Update

The Horror Reading Challenge is hosted by Tracy @ Cornerfolds. Goal is to read as many books of the horror genre as possible. The challenge started back in January 1st and ends on December 31st.
I'm actually quite proud of myself. I don't usually pick up many horror novels because it's really difficult to get me hooked with a good premise. I don't get scared easily and when I pick up a horror book that's only mediocre I tend to go back to other genre books for a while.

The challenge is a great way to motivate myself to read and try more horror or thriller novels, even those that I usually wouldn't have picked up. "The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer" by Michelle Hodkin has a huge following and I was actually quite intimidated by starting this novel. My expectations were fulfilled, namely that I didn't like it at all. I didn't think it was scary, it wasn't full of plot twists, but just written in a very messy way.

Good thing I decided to continue The Forbidden Game series by L.J. Smith then, because I absolutely loved the first novel and it scared the shit out of me. The series plays with human existential fears, but it's not so scary that you might pee yourself, but only gives up a really uncomfortable and eerie vibe, which is what I absolutely love.



 Books I've read so far: 

1. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer - Michelle Hodkin 
YA / Thriller
★★☆☆☆ 
2. The Chase (The Forbidden Game #2) - L.J. Smith
YA  / Horror
 ★★★★☆
(Review)
3. The Kill (The Forbidden Game #3) - L.J. Smith
YA / Horror
  ★★★★☆
(Review)


 Challenge Levels
1-5 horror books: Running Scared
6-10 horror books: Brave Reader
11-15 horror books: Fearless
16+ horror books: Horror Hound
My Current Level: Running Scared

Challenge Update Schedule
March 26th - First Quarter Update
June 25th - Second Quarter Update & Giveaway
September 24th - Third Quarter Update
December 24th - Challenge Wrap-Up & Giveaway

 

Have you any recommendations for the challenge? 

Do you participate and what's your current level?

Continue Reading...

Saturday, May 16, 2015

[Review] The Kill (The Forbidden Game #3) - L.J. Smith


In THE KILL, Julian has kidnapped Jenny's boyfriend Tom and her cousin Zach and taken them with him into the Shadow World. In order to get them back, they have to play one last game with him. If they lose, Jenny is Julian's forever.


Fantasically Structured

I don't know what it is about this series, but I couldn't put this one down either. The structure of all three novels being constructed like games makes it very easy to follow the story line and even easier to just read them in one go.

The Shadow World is modeled after the amusement park Joyland they have visited before. I was slightly disappointed with that. I was hoping for the Shadow World to be created more like a surreal fantasy world, rather than an imitation of the real world. Amusement parks can be scary, but I was rather bored by the setting than intimidated.

The Same Thing All Over Again

I really enjoyed THE HUNTER and THE CHASE, but to be honest all three novels are just repeating the same thing over and over again. Julian wants Jenny, she prefers Tom, so Julian invents crazy games to kill her friends. The novels all struggle with portraying the characters and simultaneously trying to keep up this weird love triangle that is just poorly executed.

Julian isn't explored enough as a character to be interesting and appealing, and not for one second I rooted for them coming together and her ditching Tom. Julian always puts emphasis on how she's the light to his darkness, yadayadayada, but doesn't really show that he's in love with her. There are no truly sweet scenes between them, they only kiss when he practically forces her to and therefore the ending of it all doesn't make sense. They just don't click as a couple and he just annoyed me throughout the series.

I was hoping for him to change or show some character development the entire time - which he does when he has a slight breakdown towards the end - but it doesn't feel like character development. It just feels like a cheap attempt to make the reader sympathize with this poor little misunderstood demon prince that didn't really mean to kill anyone.


Rating:


★★★

 

Overall: Do I Recommend?

The execution of THE KILL could have been better, but overall it's a quick and alright read. I liked the previous novels better. Having read all three I can say that Smith just should have left it at THE HUNTER and refrained from creating a whole series.


Additional Info

Published: July 1st 1994
Publisher: Brilliance Corporation
Cover: Brilliance Corporation, 1994.
Genre: YA / Horror 
ISBN: 1441875433

Synopsis:
"It was Julian's last challenge before he disappeared into the Shadow World, taking Jenny Thornton's boyfriend Tom and her cousin Zach: ?If you want them, come on a treasure hunt. But remember: if you lose, there's the devil to pay.? Jenny, Audrey, Michael, and Dee have burned their bridges, leaving their families behind, to enter the Shadow World with a set of runes, magical letters that open the doors of hell. They?re lost in an amusement park nightmare, at Julian's mercy as they look for Tom and Zach. Jenny's only clue is a gold coin, Julian's gift, and Julian himself, more beautiful, more seductive, more dangerous than ever. And determined to make her his bride. . ."

Can You Recommend A Super Scary Read to Me?


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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

[Review] The Chase (The Forbidden Game #2) - L.J. Smith


In THE CHASE, Jenny and her friends think they have escaped the mysterious Shadow Man Julian. Little do they know that the intruders that took the game at the end of  THE HUNTER are already trying to figure out what it is. When they release Julian - whether on purpose or not - Jenny, Tom, Dee, Audrey, Zach and Mike have to watch their every step. Julian is back, and he wants to play a game.

Couldn't Put It Down!

I don't know what it is about L.J. Smith's writing, but I couldn't, for the life of me, put this novel down. When I had to other things I was just thinking about the novel and wishing to go back to reading. I love, love, love the idea still, and I love how it's reminiscent of Jumanji (the book was actually published before the film) - but with more angst and more blood.

Just like with the first novel, I couldn't identify with Jenny. She's just as unapproachable and unlikeable as Elena from her Vampire Diaries Series. Even after having read the first novel I still didn't really know who was who! Smith does her best to add description all the time and little hints so you can picture everyone in your head, but only halfway through this one I could finally keep up with the characters. Every single character is this novel has their distinct obsessions and interest, but it took a very long time for me to actually "get" the characters and start to like them.

Can somebody explain to me though what the fascination that everyone has for Jenn she's just too perfect.

An Extraordinary Plot That Saves the Day!

The odd thing is, that it doesn't even matter that I didn't like her or any of her friends. I am absolutely and utterly in love with the story idea, the whole "Teenagers play a magical game and it goes wrong" thing. The first one felt like reading a horror movie in an alternate universe where the characters aren't too stupid to see the obvious traps and run into the monsters arms. Having this novel extended into a series is like watching what happens after that movie and it's just so unique and interesting. I haven't read a single YA novel that had JUST the plot line for the horror in it and didn't settle for a mediocre romance side plot.

Yes, we do have the relationship between Jenny and the antagonist Julian, but that's a completely different thing. It's absolutely interesting and he's a terrifying character that I just can't figure out at all. Of course it's again very unrealistic that the super villain falls for the girl, but Smith does her best to explain everything logically. I can't understand why this novel series isn't extremely popular, it has everything I've been missing in YA Horror in the last couple of months, even years.

Another striking thing about this novel is that you can absolutely tell a lot of planning went into writing the series. There are some things that the characters say or do that just leaves me speechless. The little riddles that Julian gives them during the game for example are just brilliant. The way she manages to maneuver her characters out of every oh so dangerous situation is absolutely genius. Seriously, usually I tend to roll my eyes at magical solutions for problems, but the way L.J. Smith solves the characters' challenges is amazing. I'm in awe.


Rating:

★★★

 

Overall: Do I Recommend?

I love L.J. Smith's writing and I love her beautiful mind. She always manages to come up with new concepts that I'm eager to read about and this novel is no exception. I'm convinced that this is one of those novels that I'd probably reread times and times over and that's a very rare thing. Can't wait to start the third one! I haven't been disappointed by L.J. Smith so far and I can gladly recommend this series. Start with the first novel though, you're missing out!




Additional Info

Pages: 288
Genre: YA / Horror

Synopsis:
"Jenny's friends are lost one by one to a ghostly wolf and a phantom snake, instruments of the sinister but attractive Shadow Man, who has returned from the Shadow World with a deadly game called ""Lambs and Monsters.""



Have You Read Any of L.J. Smith Novels?

What Is Your Favorite Novel By Her?

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Favorite Authors of All Time | Top Ten Tuesday





In this week's #TTT I talk about my ten favorite authors and why I love them and their work! 

I'll be linking the work by them that I've reviewed so far as well in case you're curious.



10. Jim Beaver
He's only written one novel and that one broke my heart. I am dying for him to pick up the pen again and write something new, because my copy is slowly falling to pieces. An insanely talented man.
Novel: Life's That Way

9. Lissa Price
She's not only a very lovely person, but has also written one of the most amazing debut novels I have encountered so far. I could not put the series down, no matter how hard I wanted to. And the worst thing is: I usually don't even read thrillers and action-packed stuff.
Novels: Starters (#1)   /  Enders (Starters #2)


8. L.J. Smith
Oh, how I loved her Vampire Diaries Series! Sadly, the series got worse as it went on (because it was ruined by a terrible ghost writer, but let's keep that for another post). I'm so glad I started reading her older novels, because they are just as wonderful as my memory of her Vampire Diaries Series. She builds worlds like no other.
Novels: The Craving (Stefan's Diaries #3)  /  The Hunter

7. Richelle Mead
Razorbill 2013 Cover
She broke me with her Vampire Academy Series. I have been in a massive reading slump ever since I read them and I don't think any fictional world can ever capture me that hard again. She ruined me and set the bar way too high for any vampire literature to come.
Novels: Vampire Academy (#1)  /  Frostbite (VA #2)  /  Shadow Kiss (VA #3)  /  Blood Promise (VA #4)  / Spirit Bound (VA #5)  / Homecoming  (VA #6.5)

6. Meg Cabot
I grew up with Meg. Not literally, but her Princess Diaries novels got me through high school. It's the only novel I own that I've read so many times that the pages are starting to come loose but I'll never ever get rid of that book.
Novels: The Princess Diaries  /  Insatiable  / Underworld (Abandon #2) / Abandon (Abandon #1)

5. David Levithan
God bless assigned reading. I read his first novel at university for a course and since then I've fallen hopelessly in love. The world needs more LGBTQ* novels and this wonderful man is doing his contribution to fixing that beautifully.
Novels: Dash and Lily's Book of Dares Six Earlier Days (Every Day #0.5)  /  Every Day (#1)  /  The Lover's Dictionary

4. S.G. Browne
The funniest author I've read from so far. His novels are satirical masterpieces and he somehow always manages to come up with ideas that have crossed my own mind once or twice already. Guaranteed to make you snort while laughing!
Novels: Breathers: A Zombie's Lament  /  Fated
Entangled Teen 2012 Cover

3. Jennifer L. Armentrout
I fell hard and quickly for her Lux Series. I haven't read an entire series in a very long time and I read hers in about a month because I could not, for the life of me, put it down. She hasn't quite managed to live up to that series again, but she'll get there eventually.
Novels: Shadows (Lux #0.5)  /  Obsidian (Lux #1)  /  Onyx (Lux #2)  /  Opal (Lux #3)  /  Origin (Lux #4)  / Opposition (Lux #5)  /  Don't Look Back

2. Sophie Kinsella 
Sophie Kinsella is the pseudonym of Madeleine Wickham, who's definitely gone through a major transformation that you can clearly see in her novels. She's the author guaranteed to bring a smile to my face.
Novels: I've Got Your Number   /  Twenties Girl  /  Wedding Night

1. Jodi Picoult
I love her to death. Every single one of her novels is a work of art, carefully crafted and with a beautiful message. She writes novels about controversial topics, novels about things that other authors don't even bother with.
Novels:  Second Glance    /    Handle With Care


Have you read novels by those authors? 

What do you think of them? 

Continue Reading...

Thursday, December 18, 2014

[Review] The Hunter (The Forbidden Game #1) - L.J. Smith: The Birthday Party of Doom

In THE HUNTER, Jenny buys a mysterious boardgame from a handsome Cyberpunk and gets sucked into the Shadowworld along with her friends.
What intrigued me: I love her Vampire Diaries books.

Incredibly Captivating

I've said it before and I'm going to say it again: L.J. Smith knows darn well what she's doing. There's a reason both her Vampire Diaries series and The Secret Circle series got turned into tv shows. She just writes captivatingly. This isn't the first time that I've started a novel by her and noticed that the way she develops the stories makes it impossible to quit. I've had a hard time putting this novel aside and actually trying to get my sleeping cyle back on track because I just wanted to know what this all this about. 

The novel is about Jenny and her friends, a bunch of high school students that just want to celebrate Jenny's boyfriend Tom's birthday and need a boardgame that they can play. So naturally goes ahead and walks into the next shop, not knowing that this is going to be a major mistake. The boardgame they're playing isn't really what they think it is: It's not a game. Something evil in the form of Julian, an unknown supernatural creature, is luring them all into their deaths by confronting every single one of the friends with their biggest fears. The boardgame directly sends them into a victorian-style mansion with every room containing a nightmare of one of the friends.

Very Structured and Easy to Follow...but Kinda Cliche

THE HUNTER is structured very linear, each nightmare leading to next. You can't possible lose track of the action and with every passing chapter it's very easy to know how far along you are in the novel. I love that and I'm a big fan of clear-cut straight-to-the-point literature. THE HUNTER is exactly this. While I do love the structure and the theoretical stuff in this, I am actually a bit disappointed with the specific nightmares. They're all very cliche (which is perfectly fine because I believe that humans all have generic fears that date back to ancient times) and solved way too easily. 

Now we come to the biggest advantage and simultaneously also the biggest disadvantage of the novel: The characters. This has and will always be L.J. Smith's biggest weak spot. Let's face it: Every single one of her novels features the superstrong female protagonist that is emotional but doesn't take no shit when her family and friends are threatened. But oh, shock, there is suddenly the supersexy blue-eyed , dark kinda guy who she really shouldn't think about, but kinda does. He's a bad dude and she should stay away from him and throughout the series she will fall in love with him. So who will she choose, her nice boyfriend, who aside from being really nice, is a cardboard cutout, OR the supersexy blue-eyed hottie who will dooom her forever (but is a good kisser) ????


Overall: Do I Recommend?

All criticism aside, I really enjoyed THE HUNTER. It's extremely well-structured, maybe cliche, but overall an insanely fun read. I'm probably going to buy the sequels just because ... yeah I'm totally in love with L.J Smith's novels.


Rating: ★★★★☆


Synopsis:

"When Jenny Thorton and her friends open the mysterious white box given to her by Julian, they discover a mysterious game and enter a house of horrors full of their worst nightmares."


Continue Reading...

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

[Review] The Craving (Stefan's Diaries #3) - L.J. Smith


What intrigued me: I'm a fan of the tv show and love Stefan Salvatore, so I couldn't say no to a book that's only about his backstory.


The entire Stefan’s Diaries series are the prequel novels to the TV Show The Vampire Diaries. They are not prequels to the novels due to the changes they made in the show. They all tell events before the first episode as if they were taken directly from Stefan’s diary. In this one, Stefan travels to New York and gets taken in by a rich family after saving their daughter.

It's not the same as the show

The original series are now 9+ novels I believe and therefore the characters are all developed perfectly. The voices match the tone of the characters and their age - at least those that don’t have their debuts in this novel. The side characters Lydia, Bridget and Margaret are all thrown around like plot devices, so the reader is quite indifferent to their fate. Still, if you love the show or the original novels, this series portrays them perfectly, the characterizations are spot on.

Even though Stefan speaks/writes in his diary just like I would expect a 19th-century-teenager to write, it didn’t quite impress me. There’s something about the writing that kind of bores me - whenever there is no action, I tended to zone out inbetween paragraphs. The descriptions are very basic and clear - even too basic, but I guess that’s just personal preference. It's obviously a read intended for a wide range of audience and you can tell that it's written by a ghostwriter. There are no risks taken in the writing style and the plot line is textbook-clean. Introduction, story, dramatic twist, relief, villain introduction, confrontation.

I can’t believe that this plot filled almost 300 pages. Everything is rushed and the main plot can be summarized in a few sentences. The novel seems to be rather focusing on the brothers bickering than the actual plot lines. Well, singular form: there’s only one plot line. Also, introducing ├╝ber-villains in the last 20 pages is never a good idea. Nevertheless, I finished this novel ridiculously fast and I liked it. I'm so hopelessly in love with Stefan and Damon as characters, that I didn't even mind that the plot is, if even at all, averagely boring. It's slightly predictable if you've read other Vampire Diaries novels as well.

Rating:

★★☆☆

Overall: Do I Recommend?

I had a hard time categorizing the novels. They are said to be prequels to the show, but eye colours and some details are just plain wrong. Stefan doesn’t have blue eyes and neither does Damon have dark brown ones, I think it’s that way in the novels though. But then again the figure of Katherine is definitely the one from the show. A bit consistency please.


However, I couldn’t walk past this novel and I’d probably reread it in the future even though there is no plot and no new groundbreaking information. Therefore I must say that for everyone that loves the show as much as I do and fell in love with the characters, this is a nice read. Still it remains nothing but a mediocre fan fiction in the end, I have read better stuff among the fan writings.


Additional Info

Original Title: The Craving
Author: L.J. Smith
Published: March 3rd 2011
Pages: 256
Medium: Paperback
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: YA / Paranormal / Vampires
ISBN: 9780062003959

Synopsis:
"After his brother, Damon Salvatore, betrays him in New Orleans, Stefan starts over in Manhattan. Vowing never to harm another human, he roams the streets, trying to disappear into the city’s chaos. But just when he thinks he’s left his past behind, Stefan discovers that he can never escape his brother.Damon has grand plans for the vampire Salvatore brothers—whether Stefan likes it or not. Together, they take New York by storm. When their exploits end up on the society pages, an old enemy resurfaces—one hell-bent on revenge.

Based on the popular CW TV show inspired by the bestselling novels, Stefan’s Diaries reveals the truth about what really happened between Stefan, Damon, and Katherine—and how the Vampire Diaries love triangle began.
 "(Source: Goodreads)

Do you watch The Vampire Diaries?

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