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It is, of course, actually Day 3 by now -- that post will go up shortly, but this one is late.  Ah, well, it happens sometimes.

Day 2 - A series more people should be reading/talking about

This choice was harder to make than I originally anticipated.  The trouble is that while I've read a number of intriguing books recently, many of them already have a sizeable degree of buzz attached to them, and so arguably don't fit the category.  And when I looked backward to consider older or more obscure titles, the titles I looked toward first arguably belong in categories we'll get to farther along in the meme.

And then I thought of two books that have just come back into print, and I had my answer: The Night of the Solstice and Heart of Valor by L. J. Smith, who's mostly known at present for having written the books from which the Vampire Diaries television series was adapted.

The present volumes are of a different kind.  They're not exactly "urban fantasy" in the Emma Bull/Charles de Lint mode, but they have elements in common with the subgenre, being set both in modern suburbia and the magical Wildworld next door.  Strictly speaking they are children's fantasy, walking in the fuzzy gray area between "middle grade" and "YA".  One reason for this is that the four sibling protagonists cover a wide age range: Claudia is just seven, Alys is a high school freshman, and twins Janie and Charles are in junior high.  The Night of the Solstice opens with Claudia at center stage, and sets one of the story's anchors firmly in the mode of Edward Eager's classic children's books.  But by the time we're done with Heart of Valor, the balance has shifted sharply toward Alys, the borrowings from Arthurian lore are more deliberate, and there's an altogether more mature cast to the proceedings.  (The end of the second book strongly implies a third, but Smith's career has taken several sharp turns of its own in the intervening years, and while we may yet see another volume, it's unlikely to appear in the near term.)

These were Smith's first books, written before she became one of the first spinners of what was called teen horror at the time, which has since morphed into the junior version of today's paranormal genre.  They are at once unabashedly "retro" and remarkably modern, and if they are not exactly groundbreaking, I count them as extremely readable and well conceived.  I think they deserve more attention than they got back in the late '80s when they first appeared, and I happily recommend them again now that Smith's publishers have re-released both books.


The Once & Future Meme (aka the Index of Days):

Day 1
- alg's post / my postA series that ended too soon (and/or a series that should have ended sooner)
Day 2alg's postA book/series more people should be reading/talking about
Day 3 - The best book I've read in the past year
Day 4 - My all-time favorite literary series
Day 5 - A book/series I just can't stand
Day 6 - My all-time favorite stand-alone book
Day 7 - The plot device that most often derails books I'd otherwise enjoy
Day 8A book everyone really ought to read at least once
Day 9 - My all-time favorite single scene from a book
Day 10A book I didn't expect to like, but ended up really enjoying
Day 11 - A book that disappointed me
Day 12 - A book/series I've reread more than five times
Day 13A favorite childhood book (OR a current favorite YA/kids' book)
Day 14 - My all-time favorite literary character
Day 15 - The book I read when I need a teddy bear and/or a hug
Day 16A favorite poem/poetry collection
Day 17A favorite short story/collection of stories
Day 18A favorite opening scene
Day 19 - A favorite book cover (bonus points for posting an image!)
Day 20 - A favorite literary kiss
Day 21 - A favorite literary romance/romantic/sexual relationship (any gender/role)
Day 22 - A favorite literary non-romantic/non-sexual relationship
Day 23 - The most annoying character I've ever encountered in a book
Day 24 - A favorite quote from a novel
Day 25 - Five books from my "to be read" shelf
Day 26 - "My mind very carefully boggled", aka "what WAS the author thinking?"
Day 27 - "All right, I have to read this": the plot element/idea/gimmick that gets me every time
Day 28 - The first book/series that really hooked me
Day 29 - "Alas, poor Yorick": my favorite death scene
Day 30 - A book I'm reading right now

Have You Heard This?

"Changing from bad to good's as easy as...taking your first step!"

-- Kris Kringle (to the Winter Warlock)
Santa Claus is Coming to Town

June 2017

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