This week we're talking about what we like to read and why or doing a book review. I had some grand plans on what I was going to write and what book I was going to cover, and then I read Liz's post yesterday. I don't read a lot or romances anymore and I haven't read most of the authors she listed, but the sheer number of new talent and up-and coming writers she covered was humbling (I definitely need to start reading more than one book per week again).
Next, I read the insightful and witty comment left by Harrison and again, I now doubted the latest books I read and whether or not I should cover them. I read the NYT Bestsellers in my genre, urban fantasy, plus the ones that don't make the list. I've read some incredible work over the years and I still see a diversity of plot and characters. On the other hand, I can see a lot of what Harrison pointed out as well - book series that started off great and later became slightly monotonous or pandering to the market.
Since I find it nearly impossible to do a review on one book, after all, if I like the author I will buy everything they've ever written, I will focus on a series where the first book came out in March 1990 and I discovered the series in the mid-90's: The Vampire Files, by P.N. Elrod.
The book is set in early 20th century Chicago, prohibition times, and organized crime is on the rise. A young man, and former investigative journalist, is murdered and changed into a vampire - but he feeds from the cattle in the stockyards rather than hunt from humanity. Jack Fleming comes to life within the pages-- suave, debonair, chivalrous, and out to fight crime.
He pairs up with Escott, his older human counter-part, in a private detective agency. At times, their exploits resemble reading a Mickey Spillane novel. Each book is pretty short, almost like a cozy in size, but the characters and the story line drew me in instantly. Ms. Elrod, and yes, for a while there I thought the author was a guy, transports the readers into her world and makes the entire time frame the story is set in an absolute joy to experience. Her writing is descriptive, the pacing is excellent and her characterization has you rooting for the young inexperienced vampire as he struggles with what he's become while trying to balance it with his all too present human morals and values.
The series is listed as fantasy, but we're also talking twenty years ago before a lot of the current genre classifications had popped up. I'd say today this book would fall under paranormal mystery, and the time frame may or may not qualify it as historical. There are eleven books total in the series, the last one having been released in 2005.
This series, plus Blood Ties, by Tanya Huff, mark the turning point in my reading tastes from when I crossed over from high fantasy and contemporary fantasy to more modern monsters that go bump in the night. I've read non-bestsellers and lots of writers that became bestsellers over the past fifteen years. One thing I can say with all certainty, is I won't be reading the cookie-cutter stuff most book clubs focus on anytime soon.
I read to escape. I read to dream. I read to be transported into the magical land the author has chosen to share with me. I want the out of the ordinary, the fantastical, the sci-fi and the paranormal --and if it has some action, blood, sex and a little suspense, then I'm in heaven.
Prior to the self-proclaimed "founder" of urban fantasy, Laurell K. Hamilton, there were some amazing stories - and even afterward, there still are. Whom do you read and why? Please share. I'm always looking for some good reads - and the romance is optional. ;-)
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