The Serial Reader Tag

I saw this on @Bookwyrmknits blog and thought it looked like fun. It was most likely created by Dutch blogger, @Zwartraafje in this post

I’m not going to tag anyone, but if you’d like to do this, go ahead! Please let me know so I can see your answers (I’m very nosy!)

From which series are you reading or did you read the spin-off series?

I actually can’t think of many books series that have spin off series. The one that pops into my mind is the Lord John series which is a spin off of the Outlander series. Unlike Outlander, which has elements of SFF weirdness, these are for the most part historical mysteries. They feature a character, Lord John Grey, who is introduced in the third Outlander book and plays a significant role in several of the following books. But in the Lord John books, we learn that he had his own stuff going on too.

The only other spin off series I can think of is Juliet Marillier’s Sevenwaters series. It has an original trilogy (Daughter of the Forest, Son of the Shadows, Child of the Prophecy) which follows three generations of a family in ancient Ireland that lives on the border between the real world and a shadowy Otherworld. The story then moves ahead a few generations and a second trilogy focuses on a new generation of the same family. The books in the second trilogy (Heir to Sevenwaters, Seer of Sevenwaters, and Flame of Sevenwaters) each follow one sibling of the family. There’s also a short story called “Twixt Firelight and Water” that is part of the second trilogy.

I actually just thought of a third. Karin Slaughter’s Grant County series eventually transitioned into her Will Trent series, but I won’t go into how that happened since it involves major spoilers!

With which series did the first book not sell you over from the start?

Does a trilogy count as a series? For my purposes I’m saying it does! I really enjoyed Katherine Arden’s Winternight trilogy, but the first book was probably my least favorite. Not that it was bad- it wasn’t! But I gave it 4/5 stars, whereas the second and third, I gave 5/5. I think it took some time for me to get really attached to the heroine, to the point where I was really invested in what happened to her and the people she cared about.

Which series hooked you from the start?

I think that I was captured by Libba Bray’s Gemma Doyle trilogy after the first chapter of the first book. It opens in a market in 19th century India, and (without spoilers) the heroine witnesses something traumatic and life changing. The next chapter moves the story to a very different setting, and I was totally on board for the trip! I want to reread the series, because it’s been a long time since I originally read it, but I’m afraid it won’t live up won’t live up to my memory of it.

Which series do you have completed on your shelves?

A few, but one of the only ones I have as a set is the Anne of Green Gables series. I was given a volume that included Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, and Anne’s House of Dreams for a childhood birthday and I fell in love with Anne and company. It was a few years later that I learned that the series actually has 8 books, not 3! While Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea are the first two, Anne’s House of Dreams isn’t #3 it’s #5, so it always seemed kind of random that it was included in that volume. I actually still have the volume, because it’s a beautiful, hardcover, illustrated volume, but the choice of books is rather strange to me. So when I learned that there were other Anne books out there, I got the complete set so I’d have them all!

Which series have you read completely?

Many of the ones I’ve mentioned so far I’ve read completely. Others that jump to mind include:

Which series do you not own completely but would like to?

I’ve read the first two of Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles and I own the third book as well though I haven’t read it yet. I want to eventually read the whole series but they’re slow going and I don’t want to buy the rest before I’ve read the first few. They’re good, but they’re not easy reads because they have a lot of references to things with which I’m not familiar. We’re also not in the main character’s head much, so his thoughts and motivations are a mystery a lot of the time. That’s the way it’s supposed to be until all is revealed, but it can make it a challenge to get into the books if you’re not it in the right mood for it.

I also got The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss from the library some time ago. It’s the first in a trilogy called The Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club, and I definitely want to read more. I think I’d also like to own a copy of the first one in case I want to revisit it at some point.

Which series do you not want to own completely but still read?

I recently discovered the October Daye series (I’ve only read the first book so far) and I definitely want to read more, but there are 14 books in all and I don’t have enough shelf space as it is! I’ll stick to the library and ebooks.

Another series is The Dresden Files. I think I’ve read the first six or so books, and really enjoyed them. But there are 17 in the series, so I run into the same shelf space issue. Plus some things on the author’s twitter make me question whether I want to support him financially, so I’m going to stick to library copies

I’ve also been enjoying Rhys Bowen’s Her Royal Spyness series. But there are 15, and they’re probably not books I’ll want to revisit after I finish them.

Which series are you not continuing?

Most likely the Cormoran Strike series. It’s unfortunate, because I really enjoyed the first few, but ever since it came out that the most recent book in the series, Troubled Blood is a platform for a Rowling’s transphobia, I haven’t been looking forward to reading it. It’s not the first time some of transphobia seeped into the series (there was a questionable episode in The Silkworm) but it seems like the first time it’s really taken over a book.

Which series you haven’t started yet are you curious about?

MANY! The first one that came to mind is Leigh Bardugo’s Alex Stern series, which starts with Ninth House. I haven’t read Bardugo’s other work, but this appeals to me because of it’s collegiate setting. I’m really liking the whole “dark academia” genre lately.

Which series would you like to re-read?

There are a lot of series I’ve loved that I don’t want to reread either because I worry that they won’t live up to my memory or I suspect that they won’t. I try to only reread if I feel like I’ll get more out of it, because it always feels like a bit of a risk. I recently saw the film adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time and realized that while I remember that book well enough, I only have the vaguest memories of the sequels.

Which series did others love and you did not?

There are a few of those! One would probably be A Song of Ice and Fire. I read the first book (and watched the first few seasons of Game of Thrones) and while I enjoyed parts of it, it kept on killing off the characters I got attached to! It felt like every time I got invested in a character, it was a death sentence for him/her! I may give it another try at some point, but I got tired of having to find new characters/storylines to care about only to lose them in a few chapters.

Charlaine Harris‘ Southern Vampire/Sookie Stackhouse novels are a series I really tried to like. It sounds like the kind of thing that would be right up my alley, and I read a few of them, but I just couldn’t warm up to the characters or invest in the world that she’d created. I’ve liked a few of her other series (see above) but this just didn’t work for me for some reason.

Top Ten Tuesday: Authors I’ve (Probably) Read The Most Books By

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

ttt-new

Today’s topic is:

July 7: Authors I’ve Read the Most Books By

But since Goodreads got rid their Most Read Authors page, I can’t be sure. So I decided to add a “probably”, since this isn’t really scientific.

51j6zrifyl._ac_uy218_1. Ann M. Martin- As a kid  I was a Babysitter’s Club addict. I also read her Little Sister spin off series. Since they came out with a new book every month or so (in retrospect I think a ghost writer might have had something to do with it) I’m sure it added up to a lot. Yes, I also watched the film and TV series. I’ve also watched the new netflix series and plan to blog about it soon. At heart, I’m still very much a nine year old girl!

81liithy6el._ac_uy218_2. Francine Pascal– I also read a lot of  Sweet Valley books in my childhood. There were Sweet Valley Kids, Sweet Valley Twins and Sweet Valley High. I was too young for the Sweet Valley University books that emerged at some point. But I’m sure it added up to a lot. And yes, I think a lot of these were from a ghost writer too.

71vhhjdel._ac_uy218_3. Carolyn Keene– Nancy Drew was another favorite series in my childhood. I read the old school series and the newer ones. I’ve since learned that “Carolyn Keene” was the pseudonym that the Stratmeyer Syndicate authors used. Many of the Nancy Drew books were written by Mildred Wirt Benson, but other ghostwriters used the name as well. So I suppose I should say that I’ve read a lot of books by the various authors who used that name.

51ge6nyeul._ac_uy218_3.RL Stine– Yet another one from me youth. I read the Goosebumps books when I was little and the Fear Street series when I got a little bit older.

71i9zxpntfl._ac_uy218_4.Dean Koontz– I had a whole shelf full of his books at one point. I think he was the first “adult” author I read, when I was about 12. I was really interested in scary stuff  and someone recommended them to me. I think I was as enthralled with reading “grown up” stuff as I was with the books themselves. I haven’t read anything by Koontz in years.

41mq0rfvfvl._ac_uy218_5.VC Andrews– These were my 12 year old guilty pleasure. I devoured them! Though VC Andrews herself only wrote the Dollangager series, My Sweet Audrina (the sequel to this one was written by the ghostwriter), and the first books in the Casteel series (Heaven, Dark Angel, Fallen Hearts) before her death. The rest of the books were penned by a ghostwriter hired by her family after she died. Supposedly the ghostwriter had a lot of notes and drafts for other books to work from. I used to imagine exactly when he/she ran out of material is when the quality declined sharply. I’d try to identify where that was. Again, I haven’t looked at most of these in years.

71xd7ivfuel._ac_uy218_6.Sidney Sheldon– I stayed with my Grandmother one summer when I was about thirteen and she had a lot of these books. I devoured them and then sought out more! I remember very little about them except that everyone was beautiful and had evil secret plans. According to wiki he wrote 18 books but it feels like I read more than that… It’s been many years since I’ve read one of these though.

51nw7swclrl._ac_uy218_7. Lisa Gardner- For years Lisa Gardner has been a go to writer for me when I want a fast moving plot that will absorb me while I  read it, but not as too much of me in the way of outside investment. I think she’s got about 25 total. She also writes romance under the name Alicia Scott but I haven’t read any of those yet.

81epj1g-5vl._ac_uy218_8. Karin Slaughter– I got to this author for the same reasons as the author above. The quality of her work has been pretty consistent over the years. But she does sometimes get a littler darker than I’d like for “mindless reading.” I think I stopped reading her Grant County series at one point when I was upset about a plot development but I picked the series back up and went along with it as it morphed into the Will Trent series) According to wiki she’s written 18 novels, but again it feels like more.

81jwx0nliyl._ac_uy218_9.LM Montgomery– I’ve loved LM Montgomery since I was a kid, and that love has continued into adulthood. In this case I’ve read most of her novels (she wrote 20: 8 “Anne” books, 3 “Emily” books, 2 “Pat” books and several stand alones) but I also have several volumes  of her short fiction. I still love her work.

71vfsf-jfl._ac_uy218_10.Sophie Kinsella– I think Sophie Kinsella might also deserve a place on this list. I gave up on the Shopaholic series about  5 books in (around the time when the main characters antics crossed the line from cute to grating, IMO) but I’ve also read most of her stand alone titles and the books that she wrote under her real name (Madeline Wickham) She’s good for a laugh and an escape from reality, which is why I find myself returning to her often over the years.

 

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday:

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday

ttt-new

April 7: Books I Bought/Borrowed Because… (Fill in the blank. You can do 10 books you bought for the same reason, i.e., pretty cover, recommended by a friend, blurbed by a favorite authors, etc. OR you could do a different reason for each pick.)

For this one, I decided to list the last ten books I read and why I read them.

5174gdpp4ml._ac_uy218_ml3_1. Hearts and Bones by Margaret Lawrence– I’ve had this book sitting in my bookcase for a while, and I decided to read it at last. Really I think that’s as far as the decision went! I bought it at a thrift store for $1 because it looked OK. It was OK, but not much more than that.

 

 

 

418ovkyoal._ac_uy218_ml3_2. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton– I was going to go to a book club that was reading this. I’d read it in college but it deserved a reread. The book club was cancelled due to the situation with coronavirus, but I’m glad I had a chance to revisit this book.

 

 

91ruwg9786l._ac_uy218_ml3_3. Snow White Learns Witchcraft by Theodora Goss- I’m a fan of Goss and I got this as an ebook when it was on sale with a  reduced price of $1.99. I think the sale was the reason I bought it, but I might like to buy a physical copy, which I often tend to do with ebooks I really live. They feel like they’re more mine when they’re physical books.

 

 

81kwruwfyll._ac_uy218_ml3_ 4. Normal People by Sally Rooney- I had heard a lot of good things about this one, and I saw it in the library and decided to give it a shot. It lived up to my expectations more or less.

 

 

 

51ggnslcxml._ac_uy218_ml3_5. The Subtle Knife by Phillip Pullman– I’ve been rereading Pullman’s His Dark Materials series and this is #2. In my memory it was a very “second in a trilogy” book, but on rereading it, I felt that in some ways it was stronger than The Golden Compass. I suppose that’s why it pays to reread sometimes!

 

 

91oqeffundl._ac_uy218_ml3_6.The Last Widow by Karin Slaughter- I got this from the library because I often enjoy Slaughter’s work as an author of mystery/thriller/crime novels. However in this case I think the fact that I happened to read this as the coronavirus was starting to turn up impacted my enjoyment. The crime in question seemed a bit too close to home.

 

 

61oldgmz8gl._ac_uy218_ml3_7.Bellewether by Susanna Kearsley– I read this one because Kearsley is one of the authors that I feel like I can turn to for a reliably good read. This is her latest, and it was no different in that respect.

 

 

 

813zrwfvrdl._ac_uy218_ml3_8. The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys– I got this one from the library because it looked interesting and it was set around and in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, which was a historical period that I know very little about. While I’m still interested in the period, I felt that the book was just OK.

 

 

914o0doecll._ac_uy218_ml3_9. Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe by Heather Webber– This was a library book that I picked out simply because it looked good. It was. I think that the magical realist, feel good novel was more or less what I needed.

 

 

 

81lcl0qrdbl._ac_uy218_ml3_10. The Dutch House by Ann Patchett– I’m a big fan of Ann Patchett so this one had been on my TBR for a while. While it wasn’t my favorite of her books, I felt it lived up to expectations.

Top Ten Tuesday: “Girl”-ish Suspense Novels

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

April 24: Frequently Used Words In [Insert Genre/Age Group] Titles

A lot has been written about the publishing industry’s “girl” in the title trend. Many of these novels tend to be in the suspense genre. Why? Is it misogyny or simply publishers trying to replicate the success of a previous book? Is it good visibility for female writers, narrators, and protagonists? Is it patronizing? I don’t know, I’m just listing these! You can read some various speculation and opinions here:

The Gone Girl With The Dragon Tattoo on the Train

The Girl in the Title: More Than A Marketing Trend

This is Why So Many Books Have ‘Girl’ In the Title

This Summer, Girls in Titles and Girls in Peril

Here are a few mystery/suspense novels that I’ve read with “girl” in the title:

41n-cqd9cfl-_ac_us218_1. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn– On Nick and Amy’s wedding anniversary, Amy disappears. At first, Nick seems appropriately concerned. Then his concern shifts to himself as he realizes that he might be a suspect. But when we learn Amy’s side of the story, we realize that neither Nick nor Amy make reliable narrators. I read this one after it had already become a best seller and had a film adaptation in the works. When you read something at that point, I think, expectations play a factor in your enjoyment. I definitely liked this book, but I didn’t find it as “twisty” as promised.

51vg7zt42ul-_ac_us218_2. All The Missing Girls by Megan Miranda-Nicolette returns to her hometown to help her brother fix up the family home so that they can put it on the market. She’s been away from her hometown for a decade; ever since her best friend from high school disappeared. When her ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend also vanishes, suspicion falls on Nicolette. But this novel is told in reverse over a two week period. It starts on Day 15 and ends on Day 1. While this could be interesting, here it just felt gimmicky.

51vcmamyul-_ac_us218_3. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins- Rachel commutes to and from London every day. Every day, from the train, she sees a happy couple, Jason and Jess, in their yard, and fantasizes about their life. But one day she sees Jess kissing another man, and the day after that, Jess goes missing. As Rachel’s voyeurism leads her to investigate Jess’ disappearance, she also gets drawn into the lives of her ex-husband and his new wife, Anna, who just happen to be Jason and Jess’ neighbors. I was interested in this while I read it, but found it rather forgettable.

516o2pmlbl-_ac_us218_4. Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll– Ani FaNelli is living what she thinks is a perfect life. Fancy job, eligible fiance, designer clothes, cool zip code. But Ani has been running from her past ever since high school. Ani attended Bradley Prep in Philadelphia, where she dreamed of being part of the cool crowd. This led her to make some bad decisions, which later spiraled out of control culminating in an “incident” that leaves Ani forever known as both a victim and a villain.  When the director of a documentary being made about the incident wants to interview Ani on film, she agrees, thinking about how great she’ll look on camera with her gigantic engagement ring. But as she goes home and revisits places she never wanted to return to, she realizes that she’ll have to reconcile what happened in her past, if she wants a future. The biggest problem this book has is that Ani is so unlikable. We do eventually learn the origins of Ani’s obsession with the perfect life, and it makes sense. But it’s hard to tolerate her attitude until that point!

41ansdjnybl-_ac_us218_5. The Good Girl by Mary Kubica– One night, Mia, the adult daughter of Chicago judge, James Dennett, impulsively goes home with Colin. What seemed like a one night stand, turns into a nightmare when Colin forces her into his car at gunpoint. He’s been hired to kidnap her for ransom, but rather than bring Mia to his employer, he decides to bring her to a remote cabin instead. Meanwhile, back home, Mia’s mother, Eva, wonders why her husband isn’t panicking about Mia’s kidnapping the way that she is. Gabe, the detective investigating, wonders the same thing.  Mia, Colin, Eva, and Gabe all serve as narrators in alternating chapters. Events are also divided into “before” and “after.” This structure initially makes things confusing. But eventually, they come together pretty well. I would have liked this book a lot more, had it not had an epilogue that throws in an additional twist. That twist makes the whole rest of the book not make sense anymore.

51ofjphi6l-_ac_us218_6. Pretty Girls by Karen Slaughter– In the early 1990’s Julia has been taken from a family with three daughters. Each member of the family has different ways of coping with their loss. The book starts twenty years later. The two remaining sisters, Lydia and Claire, haven’t spoken in years. After Claire’s husband, Paul, is killed, Claire makes a discovery that sends her to find her estranged sister, Lydia, who is quite pleased to learn of her brother-in-law’s demise. From there both sisters are drawn into a complicated “whodunnit” scenario that involves everyone they thought that they could trust. This book has a lot of twists and turns and some jaw clenching tension. However, it’s also extremely violent and quite graphic, so readers be warned.

51l3fbhyml-_ac_us218_7. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson– This is arguably the one that started the trend. Forty years ago Harriet Vanger, the daughter of one of Sweden’s wealthiest families disappeared. Her uncle still wants to find out what happened to her, so he hires journalist Mikhael Blomkvist to investigate. Blomkvist is accompanied by tattooed computer prodigy Lisbeth Salander. Salander has her own troubling past. Together, she and Blomkvist uncover some horrific secrets. I know that this series has some big fans, but I’m not one of them. I finished it because I tend to like to finish things once I start them. But in terms of my feelings about it, occasionally I was curious, but more often I was disgusted. There wasn’t enough of the curiosity to balance out the disgust IMO.

41ay05dlaxl-_ac_us218_8. Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma– Chloe and Ruby are sisters. When a night out with Ruby and her friends goes horribly wrong, Chloe finds the body of a classmate floating in a reservoir. She’s sent away from home. Two years later she comes back. Her return forces the sisters to confront the truth about what happened that night. Even though this book is technically classified as YA, it doesn’t really feel like it.  It’s not something you’ll burn through in one afternoon. It’s surreal, strange, eerie, and atmospheric. It’s hard to tell what is real and what’s a dream/fantasy/something else. I think that you could have more than one interpretation of exactly what happened.

51azpk8ifvl-_ac_us218_9. The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel– Lane left her grandparent’s Kansas estate, Roanoke, years ago when she was a teenager. She returns when her cousin Allegra goes missing.  The story is told in two timelines. One takes place the summer that Lane arrived at Roanoke, following the death of her mother and continues as we learn what made her run away. The other takes place in the present, as Lane searches for the truth about what happened to Allegra. About two or three chapters in, we learn something that made me go “ick.” I think that was the intention. I kept reading out of morbid curiosity. Once all the pieces are in place, it’s not hard to put them together. It gets ickier. Not explicit or graphic, but it still makes your skin crawl.  If you have a high “ick” tolerance, you might want to check this out.

51ssmq6cx2l-_ac_us218_10. The Silent Girl by Tess Gerritsen– A dead body is found mutilated in Boston’s Chinatown. The only clues are two silver hairs- not the victim’s- found clinging to the corpse. Medical examiner, Maura Isles, discovers evidence that links the crime to a murder-suicide that happened in Chinatown almost two decades earlier. The only survivor of that night is now the target of the killer. I’ve read most of Gerritsen’s Rizzoli and Isles series, and this wasn’t my favorite. It’s an OK read if you’re interested in something suspenseful and unchallenging, but ultimately that’s really all it is.