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Month in review

Reviews:
Adventures in Cartooning by James Sturm
Amulet 1: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi
Aya of Yop City by Marguerite Abouet and Clement Oubrerie
Bad Matter by Alexandra Duncan
The Curious Garden by Peter Brown
Civil War on Sunday (Magic Tree House #21) by Mary Pope Osborne
A Country Mouse in the Town House by Henrietta
Diary of a Fly by Doreen Cronin and Harry Bliss
Dingoes at Dinnertime (Magic Tree House #20) by Mary Pope Osborne
Dragon of the Red Dawn (Magic Tree House #37) by Mary Pope Osborne
Gossamer by Lois Lowry
Horrible Harry and the Ant Invasion by Suzy Kline
Hurry Freedom by Jerry Stanley
I'm Not Going to Chase the Cat Today! by Jessica Harper
Inside Time by Tim Sullivan
Inside a Zoo in the City by Alyssa Satin Capucilli
Katie Loves the Kittens by John Himmelman
Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan
The Last Surgeon by Michael Palmer
Lost Worlds: Adventures in the Tropical Rainforest by Bruce M. Beehler
Loudmouth George and the New Neighbors by Nancy Carlson
Mermaid by Robert Reed
Monsters Don't Eat Broccoli by Barbara Jean Hicks and Sue Hendra
Never Blood Enough by Joe Haldeman
The Nine Lives of Aristotle by Dick King Smith
The Order of Things by Barbara Ann Kipfer
Owly Volume 3: Flying Lessons by Andy Runton
Pigsty by Mark Teague
Poppleton by Cynthia Rylant

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3 stars: Average
2 stars: OK
1 star: Did not finish



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Comments for Weekly Geeks 2010-15-2010: Series

Series: 05/01/10

Series fiction is one of those sore spots for me. As a writer, I understand completely the desire to stay with characters until every last piece of their story is explored and told. For publishers I understand the desire to have a long term product. As a reader, they can be exasperating.

Series should:

  • Have books that stand on their own
  • Be well labeled so a reader can easily tell the order of the series and where a particular book falls in that order
  • All be in print until the series is complete.

Series should NOT:

  • End on cliff hangers
  • Contain important plot information in previous books without explaining in the the current book
  • Have books that steadily get longer as the series continues as this signals poor editing and poor control over the story

That's not to say I don't read series. Of course I do. Some of them I've been following for most of my life or all of my adult life. The ones that I still read aren't necessarily perfect in all books but follow my basic "shoulds" enough that I continue reading the series even if I don't like all the books in the series.

Series that work for me:

  • Hardy Boys by Frank Dixon (I've been reading this series on and off since I was kid)

  • The Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell series by Laurie R. King which started with The Beekeeper's Apprentice in the late 1990s. Although I don't especially like A Letter of Mary (#3) and O Jerusalem (#5), the individual mysteries stand fairly well by themselves. Book #9, The Language of Bees did end on a cliff hanger and I'm hoping this isn't the new direction for all future books in the series. I am currently reading The God of the Hive (#10) but if it ends on another cliff hanger I might have to re-evaluate my following of the series.

  • The Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters. I've been following the series since 1982 when I read Crocodile on the Sandbank. There are books I absolutely HATE (mostly ones that are Ramses centered) but the books stand alone fairly well and can be read out of order.

Series that I have abandoned:

  • Harry Potter: I never really liked the series but the first three were pretty good. My favorite is The Chamber of Secrets but I could not get through the fifth book. I decided it wasn't worth the effort to finish or to read the remaining two books since I wasn't much of a fan to begin with.

  • The Alphabet series by Sue Grafton: I've forced myself through R is for Ricochet and I just can't do any more. I don't like Kinsey Millhone.

  • The Cat Who series by Lillian Jackson Braun: The series started in the late 1960s but didn't take off until the mid 1980s. Unfortunately the books reflect the times in which they were written. Braun isn't trying to keep a consistent timeline like Grafton is. So with each new book it's less and less plausible for the main character to be living with the same two Siamese cats. I know Koko and Yum Yum are the "stars" of the series but they're cats for crying out loud!



Comments (10)

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Comment #1: Saturday, May, 1, 2010 at 21:16:57

Becky

I agree with you in part about series books. I think series books should mostly be able to stand on their own. And I do agree that they should be clearly labeled.

I do find cliff hanger endings annoying...if it's a current series...and I have to wait for more to be published. It can be very frustrating to have a non-ending. But with older series, I don't mind so much. It can be satisfying to read them all back to back because you've just got to know what happens next.



Comment #2: Monday, May 3, 2010 at 11:15:11

Pussreboots

I don't follow many series as they are coming out. I'm typically stumbling upon them long after they're the hot new series. All the books in the series might not be available. Cliffhangers in this situation weaken the individual books.



Comment #3: Sunday, May, 2, 2010 at 02:25:40

Kerrie

I think one of the huge problems if you are writing a series is how much back-story to include from one book to another. An author can get trapped into re-telling the main plot from each book in the next.



Comment #4: Monday, May 3, 2010 at 11:21:22

Pussreboots

I don't want or expect an entire summary of the previous books, but a dropped hint as to what happened is often very helpful.



Comment #5: Sunday, May, 2, 2010 at 02:46:15

Erotic Horizon

I dont know why you call this a mini rant - I agree with so much..

I am surprised you didn't add - Know when to call it a day..

Because as much as I have a love/hate relationship with series - some definitely could have been tied up at after a trilogy or at the most 5 books..

I stop reading the Grafton series alot earlier than R - Kudos to you for making it that far..

I used to read Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew and when my boys do a summary it give me a little buzz to go and pick back up the books- but my interest have changed and I just read one or two and only revisit them after another year or three..

End on cliff hangers

Dont even get me started on cliffhangers - Why the hell do they do that...

E.H.



Comment #6: Monday, May 3, 2010 at 11:24:24

Pussreboots

I called it a "mini-rant" because I kept my language civil and the post, short. I think the Amelia Peabody series has reached the "know when to call it a day" point. I only kept reading the Grafton series because my husband was reading them and the books were on hand. He has now given up on the series, so I'm off the hook.



Comment #7: Sunday, May, 2, 2010 at 06:30:09

Rikki

Good post.

I gave up on Amelia Peabody a long time ago. I found that her musings about her family, her super husband and Sethos were the same in every book. Btw, I sort of liked Ramses, even though he was a tiny bit too perfect, :-).



Comment #8: Monday, May 3, 2010 at 11:31:36

Pussreboots

I don't mind Amelia's musngs on her husband but everytime young Ramses opens his mouth I want to throw the book across the room. I agree re Sethos; he is very samey in every book.



Comment #9: Thursday, May, 6, 2010 at 21:18:04

Melissa

Cliffhangers, ugh! I just finished a book with one this afternoon. No mention of a second book, but I'm assuming there is one. If not, it was the laziest, most abrupt ending ever. Then again, perhaps that's all a cliffhanger is anyway: a lazy way not to develop a conclusion and lure people into a second book. I often find myself walking away when that happens.



Comment #10: Sunday, May 9, 2010 at 12:55:11

Pussreboots

Cliffhangers bug me most of all the things I listed.



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