Tag Archives: series

Do you start if you can’t finish?

Thank goodness for novellas this week, because if it weren’t for short books I’d have almost nothing to report!

Cover of Lili Zander and Rory Reynolds' Dragons ThiefI stumbled upon the entirely excellent Dragon’s Thief by Lili Zander and Rory Reynolds (I agree, I do seem to have a thing for dragons right now – is there a problem with that?). It’s a reverse harem novella (one heroine; lots of heroes) so I’m pleased to have also found an RH novel I loved. Key for me is that the heroine has a really powerful goal which kicks in right at the start of the novel and powers her all the way through.

But my talking point for this week is because Dragon’s Thief is first in a series. I would have gone straight on to the next, but it’s not out yet (although available for pre-order). That’s fine, I’ll wait. Series are so common these days that I would have thought no more about it, except that a friend on Facebook then posed the question as to whether you’d read the first in a series before more were available, or you’d wait until the whole series was out.

A surprising (to me) number said they wouldn’t start until they knew they would be able to finish the series if they liked it. Partly this seemed to be due to the habit of bingeing which we’ve all fallen into. But equally, readers wanted to be sure that the series actually came to an end – with horror stories of books that ended on cliffhangers by authors who then decided they didn’t want to write any more or publishers who gave up on their authors mid-way through a series.

Interesting to note is that the authors of Dragon’s Thief were clearly aware of this – at the bottom of the description was a note stating that it’s the first in a series, outlining the release schedule and warning readers to wait if they didn’t want to have to stop part-way through.

I don’t mind at all. Of course, if you like a book it’s good to find more in the series or by that author to move on to, but I also find anticipation is part of the enjoyment. I’ve now got two dragon-related novellas to look forward to in February, which is perfect for a woman whose main dread in life is running out of books I want to read.

Over to you, reader. Will you start a series when it catches your eye, or do you want to have all the books lined up before you begin?

Oh, and if you’ll excuse a brief plug, this is probably the ideal moment to point out that my 4-book historical fantasy series, a clockwork war, is now complete and available to read (Kindle and KU). The series starts with The Clockwork War, which you can grab now.

A clockwork war series covers

This week’s challenge: writer or characters?

This is slightly off-topic from my free reading challenge (once more: “I read some books” makes for a less than fascinating post), but my blog this week was prompted by a question on twitter about whether readers prefer standalone novels or series.

It’s one of the “rules” of independent publishing that series sell vastly better than standalone books because it’s now an established “fact” that readers prefer series of books that they can revisit time and again, like going back to a favourite holiday resort.

So, I started looking at my own reading preferences – and came to the conclusion that it depends – although series have become so ubiquitous in YA that it’s a little hard to tell.

New out - click for preview and to buy!
New out – click for preview and to buy!

I’ve just finished Gill-Marie Stewart’s No More Lies, which is the conclusion to her George and Finn trilogy of books. That’s a terrifically fun series – romance and cosy crime for teens. But I know perfectly well that whatever Gill-Marie does next I’ll go with her – whether it’s in the George and Finn universe or something completely different.

Good, but...
Good, but…

On the other hand, I fell utterly in love with Marissa Meyer’s Cinder and went on to consume Scarlet and Cress in the Lunar Chronicles series in short order. And yet, Fairest and Winter are sitting on my bookshelves, watching me (I’m sure) with resentment every time I pick something else out or settle down with my Kindle. Perhaps it was the gap of time waiting for Winter that made my attention wane; maybe it’s because the book is about a mile thick and there are too many books out there for me to want to read one that’s the size of three. I don’t really know the cause, but my passion for that series has definitely faded.

rain-stormI can’t actually find very many standalone YA books in my shelves, which is remarkable. I followed Kim Curran from trilogy Shift, Control, Delete to standalone Glaze (and they’re all fabulous), and I read Virginia Bergin’s The Rain and The Storm duology and wait impatiently for her next. I can’t find an author whose books I’ve liked that I’ve deliberately not followed into another world or genre.

Overall I think I care more for the author and the writing than for the world, but it really does depend. If I like a book and there’s another by that author I’ll take a look. If I like it I’ll read it, if I don’t I won’t. I don’t think that marks any change in my reading habits to what I’ve always done.

Over to you, dear reader – do you prefer series or would you rather settle down with a standalone book?

The end isn’t in sight

I’m cross and crotchety today. I feel like I’ve wasted my reading time this week on two books that didn’t end.

Now, I don’t mean they were long, nor that they were dull. They didn’t end because their writers (and their editors and big, commercial publishers in turn) had failed to comprehend the fundamental requirement for a story to have a beginning, a middle and an end.

This concept was dinned into me at primary school – it’s still used in primary schools now (I checked with 10 yo Offspring). Has this story structure become optional in the adult world and no one bothered to tell me?

One was a romance – and I didn’t find out which boy the girl picked. The other was mainly a whodunnit. It was a fabulous read, right up until the pacey denoument when the heroine was going to find out who’d murdered her twin sister – unless they got to her first! – and then I turned the page to find not who dunnit but an epilogue where she’s fairly sure she knows but wasn’t bothered by any sense of danger or even unease.

They were both the first in a series, but writing a series is not an excuse to cheat your reader out of a satisfying read with each book – or is it? Again, did I miss the memo?!

A contract is formed when I pick up a book. If I’m reading a romance, I expect to finish knowing that girl has met boy and are swanning off into the sunset (in a stolen hovercraft is fine, it doesn’t have to be mushy-happy); if it’s a whodunnit, I NEED TO FIND OUT WHODUNNIT. And I’m both disappointed and cross if that doesn’t happen. I expected a story – but I only got half a one.

Their limp endings (followed by excited requests for me to dash out and get the next in the series – um, no) have ensured I’ll never pick up another book by these writers. And that’s a real shame because both were good, competent books and one of them was absolutely cracking right up until it failed to finish.

Am I the only one to get annoyed by endings that don’t end properly? Use the comments to let me know if you hate an uncertain finish, or if you love a mega cliffhanger at the end of a novel.