I realise that I have been neglecting my website since I have been working full time, but I have resolved to do so no longer. I am still Editorial Assistant on Knitting magazine, but I am also now Assistant Editor on Making Jewellery magazine, making me a very busy girl! My latest, and most exciting, news, however, is that of my engagement! Yes, Mr. Stuart Peter Holloway asked me to marry him, and I said yes. So I thought I would share with you all how it happened.
It was Sunday 15th July and Stuart and I had just been out for a carvery with my parents, which, by itself, means it was a very good day. Stuart and I decided to go for a walk over the South Downs, where the Long Man of Wilmington is (sounds weirder than it is–you can look it up on a search engine of your choice). So we donned our walking boots and rain coats, of course, and walked all the way to the top.
By the time we got to the top of the hill the sun was starting to show itself and we had the most beautiful view of what seemed like the whole of Sussex. We spent some time admiring the view, holding hands in the wind and generally enjoying the fresh air and being lovey-dovey. We decided to start our descent when Stuart said, ‘Before we go, can I ask you a question?’
I, of course, said yes, and started to get a weeny bit excited. Maybe it was the smile playing on his lips. He got down on one knee, in the mud, and said ‘You know how much I love you?’ To which, again, I said yes. He reached into his pocket, pulled out a tiny box and opened it to display his grandmother’s engagement ring, in its three diamond, sparkling glory. ‘Will you marry me?’ he asked. I said my third ‘yes’ and that is how it happened!
This is the first novel in a series of (originally) four, first published in 1993. I first read these books in my tweens and am now re-enjoying them thanks to the ITV 2 series. For me, L. J. Smith is the queen of both teen fiction and paranormal fiction.
Take these books with a pinch of salt, by all means, but they are hugely enjoyable and should be relished. Yes, there is a lot of sighing about young love, dressed up as (literally) undying passion. And there is frivolous treatment of death. But these things should be embraced in fiction every now and then, and this is definitely the time for it.
The plot of this first novel wasn’t so overdone when it was first written, so please forgive it the ‘girl falling in love with a vampire at high school’ theme, and throughout the series this does develop in a different direction, and is nicely grounded in some Civil War history. There is a nice, strong, female protagonist, which we like, who is only occasionally too selfish to agree with. Swooning romance, obviously, ensues, and Smith does do this well. Anybody who loves to go giddy over highly-wrought teen romance will love this. The genre may well be overdone and on the way out, but I say it is to be enjoyed, and this is a darned enjoyable read!
There is nothing remarkable about this book, but I really liked it. A novel for teens, set in the late 19th century, Bray explores girls coming of age in a time when this really mattered. Gemma Doyle, the main character, is on the cusp of womanhood, discovering things about herself, but she also discovers things she never thought she would… powers.
Cue moving to a boarding school, making friends and enemies, and getting caught up in magic, this books is almost a cross between Charlotte Bronte and J K Rowling. It is dark and Gothic, but also doesn’t lose the frivolity of being a teenage girl. Anachronisms abound and plenty is jarring about this book, particularly with the attitudes of the girls who seem far more like girls of the 21st century than the 19th. But then, this is a book that shouldn’t be taken too seriously.
If you let go of your reservations and dive into the candlelit gatherings of the teenage girls in a cave, this is an enjoyable read. This is one for you if you like eerie boarding schools, old buildings with secrets, big fires, midnight shenanigans and the empowerment of women. Basically, if you’re happy to read a modern, less-good version of Jane Eyre, you will love this book. I, actually, did.
Rating: 7/10 (It’s quite generous, but there is something eminently enjoyable about this book.)