Richelle Mead and The Circle of Life: Bloodlines and Succubus Revealed
September 6, 2011

If Richelle Mead published her grocery lists, I would buy them and read them and love them.  I would seek out the international editions and marvel at the beautiful cover art. I feel sure that they would contain clever commentary and sarcastic statements and eventually break my heart and make me cry…

Thankfully, Richelle publishes actual books. Entire series, in fact.

Just as life is filled with beginnings and endings – each bitter and sweet in its own way – in the last two weeks Richelle has published a book which starts a new series – Bloodlines – and a book to end a series – Succubus Revealed.

Oh yeah, and she had a baby too. Not a bad month, even for a Book Goddess!

The Bloodlines series is a spin-off of the greatest YA Paranormal series in the history of the world (yeah, I said it) – Vampire Academy. VA is a lesson in not judging a book series by its embarrassing cover art, but also not allowing Oneself to be turned off or confused by fancy words like “Strigoi” and Moroi” and thinking that One will not not like this book filled with unfamiliar words and bound by a cover which features a terrible red-toned picture of a model who looks like a 1990s Angelina Jolie – and not in a good way. However, once One has moved beyond One’s prejudices and misgivings, One will fall in love with rebellious, ass-kicking Rose Hathaway and her friends and classmates at St. Vladimir’s Academy. One may even find Oneself crying inconsolably in the middle of the night while breathlessly reading certain volumes in the six book series.

Bloodlines features characters from the VA universe, but focuses on Sydney Sage – a teenaged human girl who is part of a secret society sworn to protect the human race from the knowledge and influence of vampires. Sydney has been assigned to protect a vampire princess – Jill Dragomir – from an assassination which – if successful – could throw the vampire world into a turmoil so great that it could not be hidden from the human world.

Thankfully, said protecting takes place at a human boarding school in California, and features everyone’s favorite scorned bad-boy vampire – Adrian Ivashkov – in all his hard-drinking, cigarette-smoking, sarcastically sexy glory.

While many of the characters are familiar to fans of VA, there are new characters and places to learn about – so Bloodlines is light on the heart-breaking and nail-biting usually associated with a Richelle Mead novel. Its cool, though. I am already imagining the places on my heart Richelle is aiming for, and how it will hurt so good and I will cry so hard and curse the long months between books.

Succubus Revealed is the final volume in Richelle’s super-adult series about reluctant Seattle succubus, Georgina Kincaid. When I say “super-adult” I mean that every book features at least one very sexually explicit chapter. If you don’t like that sort of thing, steer clear – or just skip that chapter, because these books are so good I would hate for the prudes of the world to miss out on Georgina’s adventures in Heaven, Hell and cocktails.

Georgina is an immortal shapeshifter who sold her soul to Hell, in exchange for the husband she betrayed forgetting she ever existed. She has spent the centuries an employee of the bureaucracy of Hell, where she is assigned to use sex to steal the energy and corrupt the souls of mortal men. In her current incarnation, Georgina manages a cool bookstore in Seattle and while Hell would prefer that she seek out pure souls to corrupt, she prefers to corrupt only the already corrupted.

For a girl who makes her living screwing strangers, she’s surprisingly funny and likeable. Her friends – human, damned and otherwise –  are equally engaging and interesting. Its hard to hate a girl who introduced me to both the vodka gimlet and the white chocolate mocha.

Succubus Revealed wraps up the frustrating and star-crossed romance between Georgina and mortal author Seth Mortensen. The troubled relationship between Georgina and Seth is the heart of this series, but as with VA, secondary characters like Carter – an angel with a taste for liquor – and Jerome – the Arch Demon of Seattle who is a dead ringer for John Cusack, fill out a cast of characters I could read about forever.

I wish I could continue to read about Georgina as she balances the demands of managing a bookstore and being a good girlfriend with stealing the the lifeforce of random nefarious men all while saving Seattle from villains of both the human and hellish variety. But, alas…it was not to be.

One of the things that makes a Richelle Mead series so satisfying is that Richelle always has a plan. She has an actual plot outline and story arc for all of her series. It dosen’t sound revolutionary, but I can name several popular authors (cough, cough, Charlaine Harris, cough, cough, Maggie Steifvater) who are not effectively employing this method. I can’t say I blame an author for writing a standalone novel, or short series with no grander plan than getting published. But then said novel or short series is published, and finds success and entreaties for a sequel – or sequels – arrive, and what’s a working author to do? Just come up with something. It usually turns out alright, people like me buy the books and generally like them OK.

But its frustrating as a reader to feel like not only are you not sure what happens next – neither is the author.

This dosen’t happen in a Richelle Mead series. Stories have an arc, things happen in one book that acquire significance in later books. Fancy concepts like foreshadowing are utilized. Characters die – or don’t die – with deliberation and meaning. Storylines are resolved – or aren’t – and reignite later. And sadly – when its over, its over.

And its over for Georgina Kincaid. I’m sad, but satisfied that Georgina’s story ends the way that Richelle always intended it to. But at the same time, Sydney Sage’s story is brand new. There are terrible and beautiful things that will surely befall her in the next five books. I will worry about Sydney and Jill and Adrian for months while I wait for the next book to come out, which I will then read in record time, and start worrying all over again.

Its the circle of life, darlings. And I love it.

Paranormalcy By Kiersten White
June 12, 2011

This was the first book I read on my brand new Kindle, so its kind of special.

I love my beautiful book machine, but I miss cover art. And this book has lovely cover art, so who knows if I would have loved it more or less if I read it the old fashioned way.

Paranormacy is the story of Evie, a 16 year-old  government employee who loves pop culture, is enamored by teen culture – specifically high school –  and hunts paranormal creatures. So, yes, its pretty much the story of my life. Except that I only act 16, but in reality I am actually a few years older. Yeah. Who needs reality anyway, right?

Also, you say Evie I think Out of This WorldWho else is with me?

Anyway, back to this Evie.

Hers is a glamorless life. Allegedly human, she is able to see past all supernatural glamor – and is thusly very valuable to the International Paranormal Containment Agency (IPCA), where she works as a paranormal tracker and trapper. An orphan, she is cared for by the agency and assigned to a woman named Raquel, who is kind of like a cross between her foster mother and boss. Given that Evie lives this very unconventional but sheltered life, never attending high school, never knowing anyone her age, she wants nothing more than to be a normal teenaged girl. Her only knowledge of teenaged life comes from watching TV shows – her favorite is a teen soap called Easton Heights. (In my mind this is a reference to this 90s show that somehow never caught on, despite featuring a rocking hit song sung by a pre-90210 Jamie Walters.)

Oh and she loves anything pink and sparkly. Ok. So, no one is perfect.

Evie is kind of exploited by her employer/ward for her special skills. She is kept in what amounts to a institutionally gilded cage – where she has an apartment of sorts and is home schooled and she is only allowed out into the world to capture paranormal creatures. A little bit brainwashed, she believes she is doing the right thing – protecting the world from vampires, werewolves and the like. But is she?

When she captures a boy her own age named Lend (lamest name ever), Evie begins to question who and what she is, and if she is really using her talents for good.

This book is completely devoid of profanity. Before you get too disappointed, the author devised a clever way to keep her heroine swearing without rousing the ire of any boring censors. Evie’s best friend is a foul-mouthed mermaid who can only speak via a computer translator which translates every dirty word as “bleep”, a pseudonym that Evie adopts uttering such immortal lines as “What the bleep am I?” and “Oh, bleep.”

It might say more about my unending affection for Richelle Mead’s Succubus series than this series itself when I say that this kind of reminded me of a YA version of Mead’s Succubus books. It has a bit of a derivative feel but, I enjoyed it all the same.

According to The Oracle known as Amazon.com, Paranormalcy will eventually become a trilogy.  The next installment – Supernaturally – is due in July 2011.

Can I just say, as much as I despise the terrible heat and sunshiney-ness of summer, this one is shaping up to be quite good for books – both YA and otherwise. In addition to the final book in Wolves of Mercy Falls series, this summer also brings the sequel to Once a Witch, the first book in the aforementioned Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy spin-off series Bloodlines as well as the final book in the super-adult Succubus series – Succubus Revealed.

Here’s to staying indoors all summer long!

Dead Reckoning – By Charlaine Harris
June 1, 2011

There was a time and place in my life when I LOVED these books. Well, either I have changed or Sookie Stackhouse has changed.

I hate to say it, but I don’t think its me – its her.

Before I get too snippy, I must first acknowledge that this series -popularly known as the books that inspired the HBO show True Blood, but also known as The Southern Vampire Mysteries – started as a fun, genre-bending revolution in popular fiction. In a world before (and after) vampires were cool, seasoned mystery writer Charlaine Harris took a murder mystery, added a unique supernatural element and out came Dead Until Dark. At its core, DUD was a pretty standard murder mystery set in a small town, except that the small town was Bon Temps, Louisiana – home to vampires, shapeshifters and faeries, oh my!

Though she is frequently falsely accused of copycatting the human-girl-in-love-with-vampire-and-BFFs-with-shapeshifter storyline – one look at the 2001 copyright date on DUD reveals that Charlaine was well ahead of the Twilight curve. Also, where that other vampire story is all about love,  Sookie’s stories were rarely that serious. One of the things I initially loved about Sookie was that she was careful not to love any vampire, but never bashful about loving up on anyone.

In the beginning, Sookie was just a perky blonde telepathic waitress, who was smarter and stronger than she looked. She fell for Bon Temps’ first official vampire – the hilariously-named Bill Compton – mostly because she couldn’t read his thoughts. Never short on admirers, Sookie’s telepathic gift gave her an unappetizing glimpse into the mind of every man who struck her fancy, and thus she was the prettiest 20-something virgin on earth. Not for long. In the succeeding books, Sookie has relations with men of every stripe and supernatural origin.

For eight blissful books – despite murder and mayhem galore – things just never seemed all that serious in Sookie’s world. Vampire underworld politics were constantly upstaged by Sookie’s real world problems, like making ends meet on her waitress salary without taking money from her wealthy supernatural suitors.

Somewhere along the way, however, things got complicated. Money becomes the least of Sookie’s problems as she is drawn further down the rabbit hole into a confusing pseudo-marriage to a beautiful vampire and the discovery of her own magical origin.

The demands of an increasingly intricate mythology seem to weigh on Charlaine Harris. Not long ago, she posted an entry on her blog addressing nasty comments from readers complaining about the abruptly dark turn Sookie’s life takes in Dead and Gone, the 9th book in the series. She makes the excellent point that she is the author of this story, and novels are not written by committee. And she’s right.

Charlaine Harris is a far better writer than I – and I am genuinely an ardent fan of  her work. Honestly, her worst book is still better than the best work of many other authors – so far be it from me to try to tell her that she’s writing her story wrong. I just can’t help but wonder if its just gone on too long. Charlaine has said that she knows how Sookie’s story ends, and I believe her. I think she knows where it ends, and its starting to feel like she’s just killing time until her publishing contract allows her to share that ending with the world.

The latest installment, Dead Reckoning,  finds Sookie half-hearted about everything in her world. She’s unsure if she really loves her beautiful vampire “husband”, she is rightfully suspicious of the motives of her new faery family and is feeling increasingly guilty and philosophical about her role in a series of supernatural assassinations.

Through a string of misfortunes and windfalls, Sookie has more money than she knows what to do with. For a girl who started out as an orphan and an outcast, Sookie has come quite a long way in eleven books. Modern Sookie has more friends and family than she knows what to do with. She spends less time waiting tables and more time worrying about who she can really trust and who has nefarious motives.

I guess all this seriousness might feel familiar to Charlaine Harris. I can imagine that after years of quiet success as a small town mystery writer, the well-deserved fame and fortune that she has experienced in the past few years isn’t unlike what our dear Sookie is experiencing.

Maybe Modern Sookie is just more relevant to her author than she is to me.

All complaints aside, I can’t say that I am done with Sookie Stackhouse. Even when its overly existential,  I’m still invested in this story and will continue to follow it wherever it leads me.

I know I’m not done with Charlaine Harris either. As a creator of one of my favorite genres, I look forward to reading more from her. If I could make one wish for Charlaine, I would wish that she finish Sookie’s story and start on another genre-bending revolution. If there is any author equipped to change the world again, its her.

Bloodsucking Fiends – By Christopher Moore
April 14, 2011

Christopher Moore’s Bloodsucking Fiends is a funny and twisted vampire romance from an earlier age of vampire stories, where all the references to pop culture vampires are centered on Anne Rice and Lestat de Lioncourt, instead of Stephenie Meyer and Edward Cullen.

As you know, I possess an inscrutable and unknowable love for THAT vampire series – The  Twilight Saga. However, let it not be forgotten that back in the day I was equally psychotic and irrational about Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles. My 1990’s-era copy of The Vampire Lestat featured so many of my favorite passages outlined in fading yellow highlighter that even I had to admit I would have been better served to highlight the passages I did not find profound and beautiful and revolutionary. Growing up in the suburbs of San Francisco, no book entranced and enchanted my teenage soul like The Vampire Lestat. (Except maybe The Stand by Stephen King).

Beset as I am by my love for the most famous vampire series of this century, I am not unfamiliar with the pop psychology analysis of the current vampire craze, which seems to be a bit over-reaching in its suggestion that our predilection for “vegetarian vampires” is emblematic of post-Cold War anxieties and the twin specters of American consumerism and rising globalism…or whatever.

I honestly don’t know what it is about the condition of our economy and society that creates an almost universal interest in vampires.  Nor do I know what it says about us that our post-modern vampires eschew the classical view of humans as a food supply, and instead they want to screw us and love us and buy us fancy cars and houses. (Ok, maybe it does suggest we are a tad materialistic.)

Back in the day, however, the popular interest in vampires seemed more blatantly reflective of a collective consciousness haunted by fear and blood and death in the dark shape of the of the exploding AIDS epidemic.

While Bloodsucking Fiends is set in 1990s San Francisco, a city inside the dark heart of a horrifying real-life pandemic, it is mostly a hilarious and charming tale of a magical city populated by quirky and clever outsiders  – where homelessness, mental illness – and yes – terminal illness play clever and amusing supporting roles.

Originally published in the mid-nineties, Bloodsucking Fiends follows twenty-something  insurance adjuster Jody who wakes up one evening under a dumpster, suddenly immortal with thousands of dollars in cash stuffed in her blouse. Once she realizes that she is a vampire, her biggest regret is that she never shed that stubborn 5 pounds, and is now doomed to carry it forever.  Jody is addicted to bad relationships and needs an apartment and a new human boyfriend to help her manage her new nocturnal and supernatural life. She happens upon aspiring writer Tommy Flood, who is naive and kind-hearted and girl crazy. Their unlikely love story unfolds against a backdrop of murder and mayhem colored by a slacker sensibility that is uniquely 1990s.

Two brilliantly-titled sequels have followed Bloodsucking FiendsBite Me and You Suck, respectively.  I can’t wait to read them and find out how the new millennium and a new vampire craze are treating Jody and Tommy, et al.

Goodbye, Garnet Lacey
March 24, 2011

I recently finished reading Honeymoon of The Dead, the final book in Tate Hallaway’s series about reluctant Midwestern witch Garnet Lacey.

I really liked these books, and I am bit sad to see them end. At the same time, I’m glad that Ms. Hallaway quit when she did, instead of sacrificing good storytelling to the great god of sequel sales (nudge, nudge, Charlaine Harris).

Speaking of Charlaine Harris, I probably wouldn’t have discovered these books had I not read – and mostly loved – the Southern Vampire Mysteries series (AKA the books behind the solidly awesome HBO series True Blood).

After finishing what may be the last palatable book in the SVM series (Dead and Gone) I was very sad and longing for a paranormal mystery with a dash of romance to soothe me.

Fortune, it seemed, smiled upon me and I stumbled upon the first book in this series –  Tall, Dark and Dead. I immediately liked Garnet – with her spiky, dyed black hair and gothic fashion sensibilities. Under the spooky facade, Garnet is real witch, who is also a Wiccan (yes, Darlings, there is a difference) with a New Age-y leftist bent. Add a vampire boyfriend and some wacky magical shenanigans and I was totally hooked for the first 4 books.

These books also feature some of my favorite book covers in the history of cartoon-style book covers.  Its unknown if I would have loved the books quite as much as I did were it not for these whimsical portrayals of the witchy Miss Lacey and her feline friend. The dead-themed titles didn’t hurt either.

The mysteries and romantic entanglements may be a little formulaic and predicable, but they are still solidly fun and engaging. More than anything,  I liked the humorous and snarky way Garnet balances the demands of being possessed by the Goddess Lilith, falling in love with a sexy vampire and managing an occult bookstore – all while living in a cute vintage apartment in a quirky neighborhood of a small Midwestern city.

In essence, these books are your standard issue fluffy chick-lit focusing on a sexy independent single girl – with a darkly paranormal twist.

Dead Sexy and Romancing the Dead continued Garnet’s magical sleuthing and adventurous romance with daywalking vampire Sebastian Von Traum.

My amusement began to wear thin with the fourth installment, Dead if I Do. I was disappointed that Garnet moved out of her adorable apartment and started settling down into a serious life with her vampire lover, his zombie ex-wife and sullen half-vampire son. But, I had invested in Garnet and even married, she was sure to still be funny and prone to disasters of the supernatural variety. And she was.

But after finishing reading Dead if I Do, a few things happened that may have impacted how I felt about Honeymoon of the Dead. The first is that I read Richelle Mead’s series about another bookstore employee with supernatural powers. Richelle Mead’s Succubus series is funny and sexy and dark and tragic  – and pretty much all around one of the best paranormal series in all of creation.

If that wasn’t enough to overcome,  I also stared reading the personal blog of author Tate Hallaway.

Having learned more that I probably should about the author’s personal life,  Honeymoon of the Dead seems distractingly overburdened with thinly veiled personal references and shout-outs to her hometown of Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota. In fact, parts of the book reads like chamber of commerce propaganda for the Twin Cities. Maybe a lot of authors do this, and I don’t know enough about their personal lives to identify and be distracted by it.

However, I also read the personal blog of Richelle Mead, and know all kinds of trivia about her life, but I’m never distracted by self-referential commentary in her novels. So, who knows? In any event, its probably not fair to compare mere mortals to book-goddess Richelle Mead anyway.

Once I was able to get past the shout-outs and I did enjoy the book and was happy with how Garnet’s story ended. However, I cannot get past the horror that is the cover art. I don’t know where this cover came from, but I wish it would go back.

While the series may have gone on a little longer than it needed to, it was fun and entertaining throughout. I think I will miss Garnet, but I am reassured to hear that Tate Hallaway has expanded into YA fiction and has a series of vampire themed books set in – where else – Minneapolis/St. Paul. I can’t resist a YA book, as well you know, so you can expect to hear more about Almost to Die For soon!

The House of Night #1 – Marked (or The Wakefield Twins go Twilight!)
April 18, 2010

The House of Night is a ludicrous and derivative series of vampire-focused YA books, penned by PC Cast and her teen daughter, Kristin.

That’s right, because it takes two people to poorly integrate “teen slang” into the obsessively politically correct and preachy story of teens attending a vampyre finishing school in Oklahoma. Actually, if the Acknowledgment pages are to be believed, it also takes several of PC Cast’s high school creative writing classes to really flesh out ridiculous plot twists and sad pop culture references.

In fact, it could be argued that House of Night is just SVH set in 2007 at a Vampyre Finishing School. No blond identical twins, though. 😦

Marked opens with Zoey Redbird, (a typical teenager, just like you and me) hanging at her locker, minding her own business, when out of nowhere some dead guy shows up and marks her as a vampyre. OMG! Can you believe it?

Oh, BTW – You and I have been spelling “vampire” wrong all these years. At The House of Night its “vampyre”. I know. Even my spell-check cannot withstand this abomination.

Anyway, the dead guy – a “tracker” – points at her and says some fancy words like “Night has chosen thee; thy death will be thy birth. Your destiny awaits you at the House of Night!” If the public humiliation was not bad enough, on her forehead appears a blue crescent-shaped tattoo! Oh noes!!!

Now you and I are saying “WTF??”, but our gal Zoey knows exactly what is going on. Thank God she’s here to explain it to us! Vampyres are totally part of society, and she learned all about this in science class. Something boring like genetics and hormones combine in certain teenagers and they begin to “change” into a vampyre. Somehow, the Tracker knows about this and shows up and “marks” the unfortunate teen. Or something. Zoey will either complete “the change” and become a full-fledged vampyre … or reject the change and die!

Despite knowing what is going on, Zoey is TOTALLY bummed about this turn of events. She totally doesn’t want to be a goth or emo kid, she just wants to be normal and hang out with her BFF Kayla and on-again-off-again boyfriend, Heath. But alas, that is just not meant to be… Zoey has to hurry and get to her local “House of Night”, which is a superfancy Vampyre Finishing School!

Just because everyone knows about vampyres, doesn’t mean that everyone is cool with it. Take Zoey’s mom and step dad, for example. They are soooo ignorant and lame and totally into Jesus, or as they refer to it in the book “The People of Faith”. But, we know that it’s really Jesus, because her mom reads those “Chicken Soup for Your Soul” books, and everyone knows what THAT means!

When Zoey’s lame parents find out she’s becoming a vampyre they think that she is totally evil now and they want Jesus and a psychiatrist to cure her or something. Zoey runs off to find her the only person who understands her, her grandma, a Cherokee medicine woman who lives on a lavender farm! Cool! Hippies!

While wandering around her grandma’s lavender farm, Zoey falls down and has a vision of the Goddess Nyx who is apparently the goddess of vampyres. Nyx tells her she is chosen, special and wise beyond her years. Nyx warns Zoey that “darkness does not always equate to evil, just as light does not always bring good.” Whoa. Deep.

When Zoey finally gets to the House of Night, it’s like the coolest, gothest place ever! Its all gas powered torches and buildings with pointy facades, but also flat screen TVs, Count Chocula and the ubiquitous “brown pop” which Zoey loves so dearly.  I find it HILARIOUS, that Team Cast name drops like there is no tomorrow, from Ralph Lauren to Banana Republic to Starbucks, but don’t take a side in the Coke vs. Pepsi battle.

Oh also, the food is delicious and healthy and cool. Of course it is! Because everyone knows that food prepared in an institutional setting is always DE-E-E-E-E-LICIOUS.

Zoey thinks she looks kind of cool and exotic with her new vamp tattoo and she likes to wear black eyeliner with sparkly glitter in it. But, she makes sure to remind us impressionable young ladies that it is NOT COOL to wear too much eyeliner! Girls with too much eyeliner look like scary, raccoon losers. Is that you, Mom? How did you get inside this stupid vampire book???

Zoey becomes instant best friends with a ragtag group of kids, each apparently representing a group that Team Cast wants to make a statement about. There’s country girl Stevie Rae, pretty blonde Erin, African American Shaunee and gay Damian. Each of these stereotypical characters appears to have been created so that they can behave in their assigned stereotypical manner, in a mind-bending attempt by Team Cast to condemn stereotyping.  Is this a vampire book or an after school special?

Zoey has supercool vampyre teachers, like Neferet, her ultra-beautiful and too perfect mentor. All the teachers are amazingly beautiful and read minds. This way, pesky fledgling students cannot outsmart them, and thus have no other alternative but to worship and adore them! Just like it must be for real-life high school English teacher, PC Cast!

Neferet gets Zoey involved in the Dark Daughters, a vampyre sorority called headed by evil, blond Aphrodite (read: Jessica Wakefield). Aphrodite is a bitch AND a slut who Zoey catches trying to give a blood-sucking BJ to a “hottie” named Erik Night. Cool name for a boy who doesn’t want a BJ and pushes Aphrodite away. Just in case you impressionable readers took this as an invitation to put on too much eyeliner and start giving BJs, you can put down that eyeliner. As Zoey reminds us, “Those of us with functioning brains know it’s not cool to be used like that.” Oh right. Good to know…

Not that I approve of sororities in general, but the Dark Daughters does sound like my kind of sorority. They use marijuana and drink blood laced wine! Fun, right? WRONG! This is NOT cool! Joints are gross and drugs are stupid!

Despite fun (oops I mean wrong!) activities, the Dark Daughters is a typical sorority. The membership is exclusive, the members are snobby bitches and they are cruel to nerds who they use for their blood. (Yes, they really use the word nerd.) Zoey is SHOCKED and DISMAYED by this and vows to end this outrage!

So will Zoey rid the world of BJs and good times? Will she make vampyre sororities safe for nerds? Will BJ hater Erik fall for her? What kind of name is Aphrodite anyway? Is Zoey just Elizabeth Wakefield in a vampyre costume?

You are going to have to swallow your pride, wipe off that eyeliner and get to your local bookstore to find out. Or you can wait until I give away the ending when I tell you all about the ridiculousness of Book 2: Betrayed!

Hello, what’s this? Another blog?
April 18, 2010

Apparently, while I was reading Twilight, the entire planet was starting a Sweet Valley High blog. All the SVH blogs are funny and awesome and been around since long before I knew who Edward Cullen is. (So, 2008 or so for the historians out there). So, I was late to Twilight and now I’m late to the SVH resurgence. NOW Diablo Cody is making SVH into a movie, and therefore its all played out. Its basically Twilight already. *Sigh*

Everyone has recapped every fun SVH book. Ditto The Babysitters Club (which I didn’t read, but would have if I wasn’t already into heavy metal and Marlboro Reds by then).

But that doesn’t mean that I don’t have things to say about the Wakefield twins, and the Girls of Canby Hall. And I will, don’t you worry about that.

But I’m different than the YA Nostalgia Snarkers you already know. For one, I am not stuck in the past. I don’t just lurk in the DirtyOldBooks section of Goodwill searching for YA goodness. Oh no, I march purposefully into the BrandShinyNewBooks Barnes and Noble and head straight for the YA section. I cleverly feign disinterest as I peruse such contemporary classics as The House of Night Series and LA Candy by Lauren Conrad. As a rule, I do not make eye contact with the teenagers I encounter there.

OK, one time I couldn’t contain myself and gushed about how much I LOVED Richelle Mead’s Blood Promise to a sullen-faced teenager skimming through a copy of it. I think I thought that having a superhip lady in her 30s endorsing the Vampire Boarding School-themed novel she was examining would ensure that she would totes want to purchase it…Sorry, Richelle I think I owe you a reader. My bad.

For the most part, I bravely pretend like I’m buying a gift when I haul my books to the counter. Its too bad I don’t have kids I could use as an excuse for lurking in the YA section. Its kind of like the ironic mirror image of teen-aged me loitering outside a liquor store looking for some old lady in her 30s I could convince to buy me beer. Except I’m the old lady and its books I want those whippersnappers to hook me up with.

Its a little sad. But awesome at the same time.

Also, I genuinely love some of these books. Not SVH or the House of Night, obviously, but my copy of Blood Promise is stained with my actual tears. I’m planning my summer vacation from work around the release of the last Hunger Games novel, Mockingjay.

So, you see its not just nostalgia and snark. Its not just SVH. Its modern. Its now. Its awful. Get ready.