Sunday, August 21, 2011

Bookie Brunch!!!!! With a giveaway!!!

  Welcome to Bookie Brunch!  Today’s guests are Kiwi, Velvet, Carin and Gabriel, who were nice enough to join me for a bit of lively discussion.   Carin and Gabriel are running a bit late, so I believe we'll get started and they'll arrive when they can.
Today's Brunch discussion question is: Have you ever stopped reading a series due to unexpected or disappointing changes in the characters, writing, etc.?   Do you consider going back, or do you give up on the series?

And the related topics to consider:  Do you think series should be never-ending (going well past 10 books), or do you think it keeps it fresher for an author if they stop after a certain number of books in a series?

First up is Kiwi, who has a lovely blog over at Assortments.
I usually read entire books even if its a painful process. But series I just stop if it becomes a drag. I often avoid certain books simply because they are a series. I prefer stand-alone novels or a trilogy at the most.Why? More than 3 often results in a drag and I often loose track of events by the time i get a copy of the next book.Vampire Academy is the longest series (obviously Harry Potter aside) that I liked and sustained my attention. I stopped reading the Hush Hush trilogy (by Becca Fitzrpatrick) .I was content with how it ended and the whole task of tracking down copies of the other books seems like such a pain. I often consider going back to finish series, but I only do it if the book is easily accessible to me! I am lazy that way. *sheepish grin*

Never ending..hmmm..I think this varies depending on the series. For example books like Sugar Secrets, Dawson's Creek, Sweet Valley High, University and so on go on forever!!! And as though that wasn't enough, they have several extras too! Yet they are still sold and lent out by libraries and read by people (such as me!)So it all depends on what sort of story the author has in mind. If its one plot that stretches for miles then the author needs to stop! All good things come to end. Its awful when a plot is squeezed like crazy for an entire series. I think limiting a series to about 3 or 4 is more than enough, it keeps things fresh as you suggested!And also I think its important to leave stuff to the reader's imagination too!

                                                   Thanks, Kiwi!!!   
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Velvet has a delightful blog over at vvb32 Reads, so let’s see what she has to say, sitting down with a hot cuppa home-made mexican mochaccino: 

I have not read very many book series that go beyond 3 books. The Harry Potter series is a current one I can name that held me to the very end. The seven books are the most I have read in a series.

The book series that I attempted and stopped were in the mystery genre. The reason for stopping related to getting tired of the character and lack of growth.

Once I stop a series, I do not go back. Simply because there are too many other books to be devoured.

Related topics:
A series should have an end. However much I may love characters and their situations, I like a sense of closure.
                                                                 Well said, Velvet!

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Pausing a moment to sip on my own glass of iced tea.....

Yes, I have stopped reading series when it seems like the writing or the characters have changed a bit too much for my taste.   A prime example of this is Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series.  When I was first introduced to the series, it was in the early stages, and Anita was written as a no-nonsense woman who was a necromancer by trade, and who didn’t mess around with vampires (unless she was kicking their butts).  As the series continued, she started to develop a relationship with Jean-Claude, the vampire Master of the City.  Then, she started dating (at the same time), Richard, a werewolf.   However, she was a still a no-sex, butt-kicking, no-nonsense kind of woman.   Then, as the series kept going, things really changed.

If you begin this series now, with some of the more recent books, Anita is more focused on her relationship with Jean-Claude (the thing with Richard didn’t really work out), and all of the various were-creatures she is connected to.   She has apparently found quite of bit of power through sex, so now, she’s having loads of sex, and she’s the Alpha of just about every kind of were-animal you can think of.   It’s hard to explain - you’d have to read the series to understand.

Frankly, I stopped being interested in Anita a few books back.  Instead of the story concentrating on an issue, or a mystery Anita was involved in, it seems like the stories concentrate more now on relationships.  Sure, there’s maybe some big issue going on, but the last book I read felt like it was mostly steamy sex scenes interspersed with occasional bits of plot.  Thin plot.  And did I say steamy?   Not to say that steamy sex scenes necessarily bother me, but I need mostly plot and an occasional bit of sex, not the other way around.   Anita never seems to just be a smart, no-nonsense kind of person any more to me -- it seems like all of her power is wrapped up in sex, and I just don’t find that interesting.

In Hamilton’s other series, the Merrie Gentry books, sex is a main part of the storyline from the get-go, and I still read this series.   The difference from the Anita books is that this series has been consistently like this, where the Anita series did a complete turn-around from where it started.   I’m not interested in going back to Anita, so if I re-read any of the books, I read the ones from the first half of the series (which is up to #20 now with the newest book).

And on the related topic --- I think series should eventually end.  While it can be disappointing to have a series end, I feel like some series go on way past when they should have met a natural death.  Sometimes, I feel like an author just keeps writing because a character is popular, but it feels like when I read the story, that their heart just isn’t in it any more.  At that point, it just feels like the stories are being cranked out, and that makes them lose their appeal.

Trilogies, while they can be frustrating (especially if you like an author like Mercedes Lackey, who writes trilogy upon trilogy.  Seriously - see this link), at least force the author to have some resolution in a story.  I’d rather be left wanting more than be bored with a character and wish they’d meet some sort of end.
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As I mentioned, Carin and Gabriel are running a bit late, so please look for their answers in a bit.

Carin's just joined in (she has an interesting and creative blog over at Caroline Bookbinder) -- here's what she had to say:

I am not a big reader of series, but I have read a few. Particularly in children's books. Right now I am on book 3 of the Anne of Green Gables series. And the Little House series is one of my all-time favorites. But I think what I like about these books is that the main characters do change. Over the course of the series these girls grow up and become women. 

Another series I adore is the Thursday Next books by Jasper Fforde and the character of Thursday also changes occasionally dramatically. 

Another thing I like in a series is when subsequent books really continue the story in the earlier books - almost like one book was split into multiple parts ( although I'm not a big fan of a book ending on a cliffhanger) such as in The Pillars of the Earth and the North and South trilogy. Again since these have through-plots, the characters should continue to grow and develop. 

I think one reason why I am not a big fan of series overall is because a lot if series tend to be like the Sweet Valley High books of my youth, where no one ever grows up or ever changes. The characters are still as true to their original traits from book 1, if you pick up book 20. It makes sense why children gravitate towards these kinds of series a la Nancy Drew, with their stability and prefictability but those aren't the books we revisit and reread. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is another good example of a teen series which will stand the test of time. The 4 girls grow up and mature, which is a reason why I think these books will last. 

But I will say that a big reason why I often only read the first book in a series is that I fear I will not like a second book nearly as much as the first. I worry that an author who only meant to write one book has been inspired by their success to capitalize on it, but the isn't the kind of inspiration I want in a book. So if a book was originally written as a stand-alone, like In Her Shoes or Le Divorce or Plainsong, I will usually stop there. When I haven't, such as reading the sequel to The Alienist or Under the Tuscan Sun, I have often been disappointed. 

Because if my love for character development, I fear I will always disappoint my father and likely will never pick up Janet Evanovich or Lee Child. I fear their characters are pretty much the same from one book to the next. But that won't stop him from recommending them!
                                Thank you, Carin!!!!!

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You’re invited! Visitors: Please share your thoughts on the topic in the comments section, so they can be included in the discussion. This is an active discussion though Wednesday, so feel free to stop by again later on.    And we have a bit of a special bonus for this Brunch ---- courtesy of the lovely Sasha Soren!  Check it out --- a cute and colorful tote bag, wraps up into small strawberry for easy carrying on key chain or backpack -- and it is a delightful sunshiney orange!!!!

Details:     To win this cute book bag, please leave email info and thoughtful or interesting comment below. A winner will be picked at random. If host and guests agree that a specific visitor comment is substantial, outstanding, or in some other way has particular merit, they can override
pick at their discretion. U.S./Canada. 
Through Aug. 31, 2011, 12 midnight EDT.
Brought by: Sasha Soren , the author of one my favorite books, Random Magic

Now, a bit more on the Brunch, itself -----

Bookie Brunch is a weekly meet-up, held every Sunday, where book bloggers can have a cup of tea and chat about a particular bookie question of interest. The discussion is open from Sunday through Wednesday, and you’re welcome to drop by any time to add your opinion or read what other people have to say. This discussion is open as well to general readers or bloggers in a different field, authors, publishers and publicists.

Courtesy guidelines: Thank you for coming! All thoughtful comments will be considered and probably get a response from fellow bloggers. In fact, you’re encouraged to talk about it and share viewpoints or include links to relevant materials. We’d like everyone to have a nice time. Differing viewpoints are just fine, even if strongly expressed, but inflammatory or off-topic comments will be removed.

* Contact Bookie Brunch

If you’d like to be a host/guest for an upcoming brunch: @StoryWings (URL)
If you’d like to bring goodies for a giveaway: @StoryWings (URL)
If you’d like to suggest a question: @LiederMadchen (URL)
If you’d like to browse all Bookie Brunch discussions (Archive): The Fluidity of Time


vvb32 reads said...

*taking a sip from my mmmmm mexican mochaccino*

wanted to mention that a series i want to start reading is The Games of Thrones by George R.R. Martin the tv series and hype for it is really exciting

@Kiwi - tracking down the books are a turn off, thank goodness for those that are sold in a set. i got the VA and True Blood series sets. but now have to sit down and devote major time to them.

@Jo - i read the first two of the Anita series and liked them well enough. but when i heard reviews about the character turn in the series i got turned off.

@Carin - i like your point on author's writing sequels to capitalize on it. the second book tends to loose the sparkle that the first story had unless it offers something new or an interesting twist.

Anonymous said...

Oooo, another great BB question!

I have been annoyed with the surge of series lately - sometimes it's hard to find a good stand-alone novel. But on the other hand, I am attacted to a BUNCH of series. But basically, I continue on with the ones that seem series-worthy. A bunch of trilogies & series that have come out lately are so thin on plot, they're just a ploy to make more money. As long as the writing is really good and there's still a strong storyline, I'll read a series until the end, no matter how long it lasts.

So, I love stand alones and good series. I think my favorite though is books that take place in the same world / setting, but not necessarily with the same chacters or timeline. Think like the Kristin Cashore's fantasy novels, or Mercedes Lackey's Tales of the 500 Kingdoms books. It's a fresh way to have a "series" without the author running out of good ideas or characters.

Jo K said...

It all depends on a series. If the author manages to keep the plot and the characters intriguing, I will keep reading it, no matter how many books there are. I agree with Sarah - if the setting / world is the same, but the author finds a way to include new stories and characters, the series remains fresh. However, I think trilogies are best at achieving this, too.

Unfortunately, many series are written only for the purpose of profiting on the success of the first book, and it often happens that the following books do not reach the quality of the first one.

Unknown said...

Ooh, I love this topic! *sips a mocha iced coffee and enters the fray*

I used to read a lot of never-ending series, but in recent years I have become so frustrated with the used plotlines that I have given up on most of them. For example, Clive Cussler's Dirk Pitt novels. My dad started me on them as a young teen and the early ones were a lot of fun. However, twenty some-odd books later, I just can't keep myself interested. I like trilogies the best, because they tend to have really good story arcs. The first book draws you in, setting the stage and introducing the players. The second book catches you and makes you fall in love. By the third one you are hanging on every word. You know the characters so well that they feel like friends and you can practically anticipate their every reaction. I love the third book in a trilogy. :) I like stand-alones as well because they tell a single story start to finish with no irritating cliffhangers. The only never-ending series I read now are the ones where the main characters are different in every book.

I don't remember ever stopping a series because of disappointing character changes, but there are several series that I haven't finished because I didn't care enough to bother.

Thank you for the fun topic!

Felicia said...

I read a lot of series and usually don't give up. I like visiting characters I know even if I don't always like the "main couple" in a series.

There is one notable exception to this: House of Night by P.C. Cast. I literally stopped in the middle of book Burned and haven't picked it up since. I just literally wanted to scream---oh just stop with a particualar storyline already. I am not sure if I will finish them once the series is done or just read the last chapter of the last book while standing in the library. Either way, the series just made me want to scream!

I can't think of another series that I gave up on. There are quite a few I am behind on but really want to read them (not enough time in the day)

Kiwi Ivashkov said...

I forgot to mention my brunch drink! :P
Hehe..*sips a Chocolate Mocha*
@ Velvet: *same pinch* on the HP series!haha you closing statement is hilariously true!

@Jo: The Anita series sounds like it describes her from being born to death! *sighs* Those series begin to tire me out..Ditto with the fear of beginning a series (because I might get disappointed with the sequel. Especially if the first one ends with a cliffhanger and you HAVE to read the sequel which makes you cry in despair! :/

@Carin: the point about writing a sequel simply because the first was a hit! So true! Its like movies, a movie which was meant to be a stand alone becomes an endless series of part1 and 1.5 and prequels! The original story becomes a mess! In case of movies, they can get away with stunning visuals or something, but books need to have good writing content..!

It was a pleasure Bookie brunch-ing with you guys! :D
Thank you for having me over Jo!
*gulps the last of my Mocha*

Jen said...

Adding in one last comment, since I was just dealing with this the other day ---- on the subject of series;

It's frustrating when an author waits several years between books. Inevitably, someone comes into the library and wants us to purchase a particular series, so I start looking for them and find:

Book 1 was published years ago and is out of print, but has been reprinted (yay!)
Book 2 has also been reprinted (yay!)

Book 3 is out of print and has not been reprinted.

Book 4 has just come out now, 4 years after book 3.


Carin Siegfried said...

@Lieder, Triologies are a good thing! They have an end-point predetermined, so the author will resolve things and it won't continue open-ended forever. And in extreme (and rare) cases when an author feels so inspired that they must continue, they can always change it to a quartet (like Madeline L'Engle's Time Triology - now Time Quartet. In fact, the 4th book is my favorite!) But I don't feel like they're just going to drag it on and on in the interest of moolah.

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