REVIEW: 'The Vampire Diaries: 'The Fury' and 'Dark Reunion' by L.J. Smith

 Let's jump right into it.

I did not move through the next two books in Smith's series as quickly.  The torrid teenage love junk was pretty much over, and in came the creepiness.

Well.  As creepy as you can get for a young adult vampire series.  Still, the books didn't land my dreams in fields of roses.

The fourth book was especially unique in that it was told from a different perspective -- a refreshing break from Elena's bratty narration.  Even though Elena's Ice Princess personality begins to melt by the end of the third book, she didn't make a large enough transformation for me to completely redeem her.  Stefan's personality also changed, as he went from mysteriously brooding in the second book to downright lovesick and self-deprecating in the third and fourth.

And can someone tell me where the heck Damon was in all this?  I never found him to be much of a threat, as he only made occasional appearances throughout all four books.  The love triangle described in the plot summary was absent from most of the story.

The next book in the series (The Return: Nightfall, published years after the first four), supposedly plucks this fading love game back from the edge...but, as always, once I begin a series in paperback, I must finish it in paperback.  As much as I'd like to be done with this series, and revert back to the more thrilling, less obvious TV show, there was one GIANT question Smith left unanswered at the end of Dark Reunion.  Sigh.  At least she's guaranteed the sales.

NEXT UP:  Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.  I read most of this book when I was in gradeschool, but towards the end got bored and put it down.  This time, I intend to finish it!

Share Stuff Saturday: Texas Textbooks

(Title links to a NYT article about the new standards of education in Texas.  I am opening this one up for discussion.  I am appalled, but what say you?)

REVIEW: 'The Vampire Diaries: 'The Awakening' and 'The Struggle' by L.J. Smith


I completely blew through the first two books in this series.  Couldn't put them down.  Can't really explain why, as you'll see below.  I am happy to report these books are absolutely nothing like the TV series.  Although I'm not so sure I haven't ruined the show for myself anyway, now knowing what I do about the original story.

The Elena of the Vampire Diaries series is queen bee, self-centered, and totally caught up in her own feelings for her vampire boyfriend, and for herself.  I never thought I'd say Twilight's Bella would contrast as a stronger female character.  The books are kind of like The Babysitter's Club meets The Historian meets Dracula meets Twilight meets Goosebumps.  They are...childlike.  The movement of the plot has just enough excitement, the conflict resolutions are simplistic and at times a bit impractical, and so far the largest problem the characters have encountered has not been completely vampire-related (in the sense that if they were unable to correct the issue, Stefan's true identity probably would not have been revealed).  I'll say they're a bit predictable, as most teen romances are...and wow, did the romance part happen fast.  But it's not near as heavy as in Twilight.  And Stefan doesn't piss me off like Edward does, mostly because he's not all, "Oh, you poor fragile human girl, you're so simple-minded and clumsy, I must protect you every moment of your life!"  I think I'd trust Bella over Elena with most of my problems.  Bella is more mature, if you can believe it.

Okay. Sorry to keep comparing to Twilight, but that's all I could think of while I was reading this.  (Especially the part where Stefan demonstrates to Elena his superhuman-ness.  That was just like Twilight, I am not even kidding.  I am pretty sure Stephenie Meyer read these books before she started writing her own.)

Oh yeah, and also, watch out for the typos.  I found several.

So far, I'm obviously intrigued.  And it's really good to rest my mind after a book like No Turning Back.  I'd like to see how this ends up, considering the storyline is almost nothing like the TV show.  Two down, two to go.  See, it's not so bad, now, is it?

NEXT UP: The Vampire Diaries: The Fury and Dark Reunion, by none other than L. J. Smith.  Look out!  I am on a roll.

REVIEW: 'No Turning Back: The History of Feminism and the Future of Women' by Estelle B. Freedman

Where to begin?

I'll first say I'm using the word history instead of herstory throughout this post, for two reasons: 1) because that is the word Estelle Freedman uses in the book I'm reviewing; and 2) because that is just the word, and history wasn't really derived from the words "his story."  Fake etymologies bug me.  (Yes, I understand the social importance inherent in the statement of herstory, but to use it over and over again as if it were a word instead of a statement sounds silly to me.  So I'm sorry if I turned off any radical feminists out there, but I hope you'll read my review anyway because it was a really good book.  And sorry I got stuck on this tangent, of course we can argue about herstory later.  I'd like to hear your opinions.)

I'll start the actual review by saying this book is a great general resource to have on hand, whether you're just getting to know the intricacies of women's studies, or whether you're a seasoned scholar.  Freedman's writing is clear, and easy to follow.  There are no involved explanations of theory or feminist philosophy.  Everything is pretty blunt, actually.  There are feminist undertones, of course, but there is no sense of urgency or adamancy to make you feel uncomfortable with the subject matter.  Her tone is authoritative, but her voice definitely gives away her profession (she is a professor at Stanford).  She writes just as though she were giving an important lecture.  Her style is informative, but not invasive.  And even though I now believe this was meant to be used as a text book rather than...well, I don't really know what I was actually pleasant for me to read.  I can honestly say I was not bored.

However: this book is not formatted in a chronological sequence of events.  I assume this is because Freedman covers most of the globe in her work, and if she'd attempted to put everything in order, she would have wound up with way more than 397 pages (paperback), plus she'd really risk boring everyone.  The book is instead divided into sections that are all cornerstones of feminist(s) philosophy -- even though, I'll reiterate, it doesn't expound on very much of the theories themselves.  These are sections like: The Politics of Work and Family (including separate spheres, the rise of capitalism and industrialization, wage labor, and motherhood); The Politics of Health and Sexuality (including reproduction, gender and identity, and violence); and Feminist Visions and Strategies (including modern-day politics and the realm of creativity).  There are notes of the politics here, but I feel the book is written so that even a woman who is uncomfortable referring to herself as a feminist could be interested.  Freedman did a much better job making this work inclusive than say, Feminism is for Everybody by bell hooks.

The one negative I'll discuss is the absence of personal histories.  Because Freedman covers so much global history, I felt like she didn't have enough space for individual perspective, something I know is growing in importance for the U.S. movement.  Much of the book was statement/fact (reminiscent of my gradeschool textbooks), although she did not often directly cite her sources.  Similarly, the rare quotations were often only attributed to their speakers rather than their speakers and their contexts.  In some instances endnotes or appendices were included, but every so often I would wonder where she got her info.  Several times I found myself curious about where I could find more information on certain topics, wishing she'd disclosed her resources in a particular paragraph rather than at the end of the book.  Sometimes the personal stories she did include were vague.  I think if she'd focused on only U.S. history, she might have been able to go more in-depth.  But of course, the very definition of feminism, not to mention its history, should include a global perspective, so I think her approach was the correct one to take; and Freedman did make it easy to see how progress in one country could affect the progress in another.  I think the interdependence of the movement in different countries has made it hard to write such a comprehensive history.  Ms. Freedman's is the only one of its kind I could find.  I do applaud her for taking on such an in-depth project -- and for pulling through well enough to give us such an excellent resource of feminist history.

NEXT UP: The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening and The Struggle, by L. J. Smith. (I decided to go two at a time...I think it will be easier on all you anti-vamps out there. ;) )

Teaser Tuesday!

This week's Teaser Tuesday comes from the book(s?) -- (I'll explain in a minute) -- I plan on reading next.  I have 27 pages left in No Turning Back, so I hope to get a review up for you by tomorrow night.  Not quite "early week," but midweek is still pretty good, right?  Right.

Anyhow, on to my next teaser, and then I'll go into the whole s-question-mark-in-parentheses thing.

  1. Grab your current read.*
  2. Let the book fall open to a random page.
  3. Share with us two (2)** "teaser" sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  4. Share the title and author of the book, so we can investigate on our own if we like the teaser you've given!
  5. Please avoid spoilers!
*To keep this feature periodic, I will be using both teasers from current reads, and from books I've read before, but haven't discussed on this blog.

**Quantity of sentences may vary, depending on how long it takes to finish the thought within those line parameters. Teasers should still make sense!

So exciting this week for me!!!  From The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening, by L. J. Smith:

"'What?' said Elena.
'Badly bitten, I mean. It must have bled a lot, and it hurts her to talk now.'"

Spooky, right?!?!?  RIGHT.

Now.  What I meant by that whole book or books? confusion was that when I bought my copies in The Vampire Diaries series, they did not come as four separate books.   Kind of like a poor man's Lord of the Rings thing, they came with the first two books in one volume, and the second two books in a second volume.  So.  I don't know yet if I'm going to review each book separately (I probably should, seeing as how that's how she wrote them, and I think they will all have individual elements, even if they are all in the same series...though if it does turn out to be like Lord of the Rings, maybe I'll review them all at once), or if I should review them two at a time, counting a volume as one book.  I guess it will depend on how quickly I get through them.  They are teen romance novels about vampires, though, so I can't imagine them taking me as long as Jane Eyre, or The Forever War, or even Free Food for Millionaires.  I would probably check myself into a hospital if that happened.  For VAMPIRE POISON.  Oh, I have so much to learn.

Anyway, I hope you don't mind this whole vampire kick of mine.  I'll admit I'm sort of into Twilight, but that's more to keep up with the trends than anything.  My desire to read The Vampire Diaries actually stems from the fact that I love (like, LOVE) the new CW show based on these books...but I didn't realize it was based on books when I started watching it.  Of course, when I found out it was based on books, I ran right out and bought the books.  I am really hoping they don't ruin the show for me.  Separate mediums, separate mediums.

Honestly, I haven't been this psyched about a CW show since Roswell.  Back when the CW was the WB.  I think.  And Roswell? ALSO based on books.  But I heard those books were no good.