Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Sunday Salon - Retro Rewind

"Retro" is certainly a look overstated, but retro for me personally.
In the wake of finishing up Stephenie Meyer's Twilight saga, I have a wicked craving (pun intended) for more vampire fiction. Admittedly, I don't re-read books often (should do it more often), but L.J. Smith's The Vampire Diaries, is one of my favorite series. As a young'un, maybe 12'ish, I loved these books, and they remind me very much of Stephenie Meyer. They're not as long and involved, although I would argue that they're nearly as tortured and emotional.
The players:
Elena is a young woman who is used to getting everything she wants and is known as the ice queen of the school. Armed with the weapons of charm and wit, she has seduced any man that piqued her interest. That is until Stefan came along.

Stefan, the only one who seems able to resist her charms, but loves her deeply. Young, dramatic, silent, and mysterious, he's like a drug for Elena. He was born sometime in the Italian Renaissance and is the youngest of the two vampire brothers.

Damon is the eldest of the vampire brothers, brash and arrogant. He fought with Stefan over Katherine's affections centuries ago and now he intends on taking Elena. He's dark and sadistic, but also charming and seductive in a dangerous way.
Katherine is the young vampire that tore the two brothers apart in the first place. Childish and naive, she is believed to physically resemble Elena, which was the first spark between Elena and Stefan.
I just cannot tell you how much I loved these books when I was young. I've probably re-read the books five or six times, but it's been several years since I revisited these favorites. What made them so seductive and keeps me coming back for more? Standard vampire/human love triangle stuff: palpable sexual tension, tortured romance, intrigue, and adventure. It just never gets old!
L.J. Smith's books remind me of summer days curled up on my grandparents' couch reading so intensely that I could block out any and every distraction. She wrote a number of series including The Secret Circle (witches), Dark Visions (teen outcasts with supernatural powers), The Forbidden Game (one sexy Erlking). I'm happy to announce that HarperCollins has re-released some of her books, two omnibus editions of The Vampire Diaries, and The Secret Circle is on the way now. She's also writing a fifth book in The Vampire Diaries series, this time totally devoted to bad boy vampire, Damon.
If you're craving vampire fiction, or just really fun escapist reading, give L.J. Smith a try! I don't think you'll be sorry!
Visit Smith's website,, for book news, short stories, and general frivolity.
*Note: She now goes by Ljane Smith. Just for future reference if you get confused.


  1. I don't know what it is about going back to books (so often series) that we loved in childhood but I know I find myself doing it on a regular basis. Only the other day I was talking to someone about Antonia Forest's Marlowe series and knew I was going to have to find copies somewhere. It's proving difficult to locate some of them, so it's become something of a challenge, but I'm not going to be beaten.

  2. You make me want to go back and read some of my childhood favorites. What a great post, Andi! I haven't heard of The Vampire Diaries, but I will have to look into it. I've been craving a little vampire action myself lately. Colleen Gleason's books are calling me name and I imagine I won't be able to resist much longer.

  3. Someone else recommended these books to me recently and I had never heard of them before. I since bought them and do plan on reading them soon. I love all things vampire and young adult and am really looking forward to these.

  4. Woo! These were great and I'm so glad you turned me to them way back when.

    You might like PC and Kristin Cast's House of Night series. Once you get past the teenage vernacular, like, omigod, they are pretty good. They actually get better as you go, two and three are better than the first one and I already preordered the fourth!

    I think I'm about vampire fictioned out. Once I read Colleen's newest one, I think I'll be done with the genre for quite awhile.

  5. Ann, I had much the same experience with a Joan Aiken series from my childhood. At the time that I wanted to reinvestigate them I had to search Abe Books and a bunch of other used and specialty sites. Now, of course, they're being re-released in brand new shiny editions. lol It's great fun to read them all over again.

    Definitely look into them, Wendy! All of Smith's series were really a lot of fun, but I'll always have a soft spot for the Diaries. I have yet to start Colleen's series, but I MUST remedy that soon!

    Rhinoa, I suspect you'll really like this series. I can't wait to hear your thoughts when you get around to them!

    Heatheroo, I know what you mean about being vampired out. I'm still good at the moment, but I've been getting lots of ARCs of sub-standard looking vampire fiction lately. All the craze, I guess. I'll definitely look into the House of Night series! You always have such good recs. And if you get in the mood for some more LJ, her other series (that have nothing to do with vampires) are fabulous. I especially liked The Forbidden Game, although I'm not sure it's back in print just yet.

  6. I can't believe, being the self-professed former die-hard vampire fan I was, that I haven't read these books before!

  7. I feel very left out these days when it comes to vampires. I wish I was part of the Twilight bandwagon because it sounds like fun, but vampires have never appealed to me in general. I just know that I'm missing something. What I'm reading now is sucking the life out of me, so why not switch, right? ;)

    Thanks so much for commenting on my first Sunday Salon post! I've added you to my Google Reader, too.

  8. Lesley, you'd better spring for 'em! They're fantabulous!

    Thanks for stopping by, literatehousewife! I've never had a particular fondness for vampire fiction for vampire fiction's sake, but I have been fortunate to find this series and Stephenie Meyer's that I just happen to love for the humanity involved.

  9. I love books that take you back like that.For me it's probably Gone with the Wind or something, one of those epics that I just got totally wrapped up in.

  10. I'm going to second the PC Cast and Kristin Cast House of Night Books. They are young adult and really really good!! Evernight, which I just finished was really good also.

    I love YA books....and of course, you know I love vampires!!

  11. Marie, can you believe I've never read Gone with the Wind? I think I'd love it, but the size is daunting given the limited free time I have at the moment.

    Thanks, Stephanie! I'll give the Cast stuff a try!


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