Monday, June 14, 2010

So Many Men... er... Books, So Little Time

This week the group will be sharing our favorite book series with you. We have guest blogger James Garcia Jr., author of Dance on Fire here on Friday and David has a guest for us on Wednesday as well.

I'm having a hard time choosing with this topic. A few years ago I could have told you hands down it was Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series, but after Flirt and the disappointing ending to Bullet (not to mention the laborious detail to clothing, every person's placement in the room throughout the whole book, and the multiple, group sex scenes), I think I have finally passed the point where I will no longer buy her books in hardcover.

I've bought her books for over a decade, way before her work ever went straight to hardcover, and while book sixteen looked like it might be getting back to an actual plot over constant characterization, I think I'm finally over my crush. She's a damn fine storyteller, but I'm getting a little sick of Anita with all her infinite ever-increasing powers and never-ending new bed-partners. And this latest story arc I don't really care for—saving the world from the mother of all vamps with love and sex. I get it, really, I do. She has to sleep with all these men, it's her condition. I just don't care for it anymore.

I'm a monogamy type of chick and I don't need a fantasy world to escape in where I can dream of exotic far-from-real-life partners, I like real men. Some of us don't have repressed sex lives we need to explore through the pages of a book, but I digress.

I've noticed my reading tastes have changed over the years. Doesn't everyone's? At any point from junior high through college I could have said it was tie between Lord of the Rings, Terry Brooks' Shannara series, Anne McCaffrey's Dragon Riders of Pern, or Katherine Kerr's Land of Deverry series as my be-all favorites. Or in high school it might have been V.C. Andrews' Flowers in the Attic series vying for the top with anything by Stephen King.

Jim Butcher's current hit with The Dresden Files certainly would rank up at the top of books I buy in hardcover right now—and for me, that really is the deciding factor. Do I love the story, and the world created, enough that I will spend the extra cash and get it the moment it comes out? And with Butcher the answer is a resounding yes.

The same can be said for Charlaine Harris' work - all of her work. She's done four series and stand-alone titles throughout her career and I love everything she's ever written. She has character driven plots, the best kind, but the books all make for a satisfying read and never leave you hanging, or wanting to write a "fan" letter to her and arrogantly tell her she needs a better editor and a new storyline (which I felt this last week while reading Bullet).

I'd be hard-pressed, as this rambling blog can attest, to picking one series and one series only, as my favorite. And I could go on and on and list more here that I thoroughly enjoy and do buy in hardcover - or paperback - the moment they are released. Books are my one true vice, which is also why my formal living room was turned into a library through nine months of custom carpentry work I will never do again, even if I was paid.

I may be reading a lot of NYT Bestsellers, but I also read a lot of authors who are new. Good storytelling never gets old and— no matter the medium—will never go out of style. But, like that perfect pair of comfortable high heels, you have to search endlessly in the sea of available items to find it.

Who do you read and what do you love about their books? I'm always looking for more to feed my addiction!


  1. C.J.

    I love Charlaine Harris' books as well especially the Southern Vampire Series and the Harper Connelley series.

    I also love Rene Lyons books- The Templar Vampire Series. There are 3 so far and she promised another but has stopped because she is now the owner of Lyrical Press. I email about every few months and beg her for the final book.

    I admit I love the Harry Potter books and reread them all the time.

    I am not too fond of the Anita Blake stories myself. I am not into erotica and tend to skip over a lot of parts.

    I like the Dresden Files as well as many YA stories- I will admit to liking Twilight - not a t first and not in the end but somewhere in the middle. I like the Blue Blood Vampire Series by Melissa De La Cruz.

    Lynda Hilburn's Vampire Shrink has been a good series- a strong female professional in love with a vamp and an FBI agent. It is really good.

    I just love books and more books and never have time to read them. Oh so many books... so little time is so right

  2. Thanks for the recommendations! I'll be sure to check them out.

    And the fact that you didn't like the sex level in the Anita Blake books, but liked it in V V, says I struck just the right balance between sex and story - so, thank you!!

  3. These are great thoughts to ponder...Thanks for the post.
    I don't read a series unless I get hooked. Okay, I did enjoy Twilight. But after I started writing, I did get into Diana Gabaldon, more as a reader/writer training, but loved the character Jamie. I feel like a better writer when I finally finish one of her 800 page books, well researched. As a teenager, I loved the Michener series: Texas, Hawaii, because I loved learning about the history of places I didn't know, through usually great characters, some of whom actually lived. For instance, I will never forget the Sam Houston character-whether fact or fiction, it was so memorable. Maybe that's why I also enjoy Gabaldon.
    But since I've begun writing, I am trying to get up to speed and am reading a variety. I will only go to a second book if I LOVED the first one. There are some movies I've seen 22 times and listened to the soundtrack for weeks until my family hid the CDs. (No one cops to it).
    I would like to write in series, and I'll take suggestions for spicy paranormal-the group sex thing is not my cup of tea, as I think nothing is sexier than a wonderful relationship with one great guy. The rarer they are the sexier they get in my world.
    I guess what I'm saying is I read for craft now more than interest.

  4. Hey CJ!! I heard that about the Anita Blake series, that it's basically descended into erotica. Which is fine, but I don't like it when you love a series and suddenly the author takes it in a direction that wasn't in the books in the first place. Rita Mae Brown's "Sneaky Pie" series started off as great cozy mysteries, but then the latest ones jumped the shark with one of the characters, a notorious maneater, having a same-sex relationship (nothing wrong with same-sex relationships, but it just didn't fit the character) and was used as a platform for her political views.

    Thanks for sharing some great titles today!

  5. Robert C. NelsonJune 14, 2010 at 1:01 PM

    The latest zombie master is Brian Keene. His stuff is totally bizarre and twisted, but makes a fantastic read. One of his non-zombie novels GHOUL was excellent. I will get to meet this mad cap zany in August when he comes to town. Last year we were discussing everything under the sun, so I'm expecting more of the same this year.

    For a funny vampire series, try reading Mario Acevedo's great works. He just keeps getting better with every novel he writes.

    Jeanne C. Stein has a good series going with her Anna Strong vampire character.

    For a great witchcraft read, I recommend THE PHYSICK BOOK OF DELIVERANCE DANE. This is a first novel for Katherine Howe, and I was highly impressed and want to see more.

    Some of the greats stay great. I have never been disappointed with any of Clive Barker's works.

    The bad news is that the number of quality horror novels from the big houses is heading south. The big guns from yesteryear are getting stale. What this means is that the new talent will be coming from the smaller houses and it had best be soon. I am already shifting my scope of attention to these presses and some of the self-published works as well.

    The good news is that I personally know a number of writers with tremendous talent, people who can rise to the top. You people know who you are. Get the job done and make me proud!

  6. Great piece, CJ, especially with the note on Anita Blake. When she suddenly became lovers with a vampire and a werewolf and had a child with one of them, all I could think of was "Laurell just jumped the shark."

    Please don't let Viv get like that.

  7. Hi Sharon! Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. I just bought my first Gabaldon - her Outlander one. I'm looking forward to it, and have heard wonderful stuff about her work for years.

    I'm so happy to read your comment about monogamy - that seems to be the biggest sticking point with my book and publishers right now. It's not technically a romance because the hero and heroine are already married. And it has too much sex to be a straight-up fantasy or vampire tale. Hopefully soon I'll get one of them to take a risk and show the world that readers do like hot couples - not just hot strangers that hook up and have a "happily ever after" ending!

  8. Hey Nicole! Thanks for posting. I did not know about Rita Mae Brown or her series, but yes, I can see why that would be incredibly annoying! I do recommend LKH's books because ultimately, she does spin a very good tale. You may just want to stop by book nine or ten.

    Ugh - and authors writing their political views into a story line where it doesn't fit? Reminds me of singers and actors that do the same thing. Freakin stand still and look pretty. If I wanted to hear what you had to say on XYZ issue then I would have VOTED for you.

  9. I've read Stein's series and love it! And I've been reading Acevedo's work since his very first trade-size publication a few years back. I even sent his whole series to my nephews fighting overseas (one in Iraq and one in Afghanistan). I had hoped the soldier turning vamp over in Iraq would pull them in and get them to enjoy something besides the serious war novels they'd been reading for ages - and it did. They loved his work and passed the books around their whole platoon.

    I hadn't heard of Howe and look forward to giving her book a try - thanks for the great suggestions!

  10. Nah - no worries. Viv will always stay true to Rafe. That is the whole point to why I wrote hot monogamy. It's not hot bigamy, or polygamy - but MONO!!

    And Anita never actually had a kid with her vampire lover (or any of the other guys), but there was a pregnancy scare a few books back. All I could think of was "how would that work with dead sperm?"

    But I guess that's the point to making up your own world. If you want your several hundred years dead vampire to have functioning, active sperm, then I guess you can. Let's hark back to a talented writer I know *ahem* who wrote a great post called Believability Equals Credibility!!

  11. CJ,
    You're gonna be dreaming about Jamie Fraser for the next few months. I promise you. : )

  12. Well, I must say I really enjoyed the Charlanie Harris series, am yet To read the lastest one. But me to also lost interest in the Anita Blake series I think that some just cant go n forever the story tires, it takes to long to read and well, in the end you stop reading. I have read your expcert on VV .. Cj I must say I am really looking forward to receving the manuscript in the mail ;) .. I will email you and let oyu know what I think,, I havent read much more into VV I wanted to wait till I got it in the mail first. Your blogs are great I especially liked the last few months something different and wow out there.. (( giggles)) As far as book series go, I havent been into he erotic ones for long I really havent read many jsut the ANita blake ones. which i tired of but Im sure in time as I find more authors I have found on face book and what not else it will change. But I have noted some of teh recomendations thanks Ladies for that.. Its alwasy nice to get them as your not really sure as to what to look for out there sometimes.

  13. Yes it did. I will admit I blushed a little at first but then my prudish butt decided to sit back and enjoy and I did. IT was perfect

  14. Katrina you will LOVE Vampire Vacation. It is so unique and really pulls you into the story.
    Are you reviewing it? If so please let me know where so I can read. I always like to see if I am on the same page as everyone else with a book.

    Thank you

  15. I swear, if I had the cash I'd hire Bertena as my publicist. You seriously rock, GF.