Thursday, June 07, 2012

The Allure of Series: Spending Time With Old Friends

I have always loved books in series.  I think it started with Nancy Drew.  I was ten, and when I unwrapped a present from my dad (I think it was my birthday, but it might have been Christmas) there were three shiny Nancy Drew books in the familiar yellow boards.  Now, I’ve always been an avid reader (I’m the girl who would read a cereal box if nothing else was around), so just getting the books was enough.  But the truth was that my parents divorced when I was little (stick with me here, there’s a point to this) and when I was visiting my dad, I didn’t have my stuff.  Which meant boredom.  Which meant I made up stories in my head (always a good thing, but exhausting after a while, and back then no one paid me to do that). 
Imagine my joy to be presented with three, count ‘em, three books in a series I hadn’t read before with gobzillions of other books to come (as I could easily see from the checklist in the back).
Unlike my daughter who, when she finishes book 3 in a series has the next one on her Kindle in zero-point-five seconds, I had to beg my dad to find a bookstore.  And beg I did.  Pretty much the next day, as I glommed those first three in no time flat.  And not just because I was bored.  These were fun.  There was a strong female lead.  Adventure.  Danger.  A mystery.  And familiar characters that became my friends.  Heady stuff for a kid stuck up in Dallas in a neighborhood without other kids to play with.  (Ah, Daddy, if you’re reading this, I’m not complaining.  Good times. Really.  Good times.)
Anyhoo, I think that’s where my love of series came from.  And I share it in a lot of the books I write.  In the Shadow Keepers series that I write as J.K. Beck, each book doesn’t follow the same characters.  Instead, they’re romances, so each book has a different hero and heroine.  But the characters from other books populate the world and the setting itself becomes familiar (the series centers around a paranormal judicial system).  The heroine of the just released WHEN PASSION LIES, for example, first appeared in Book One, WHEN BLOOD CALLS, and now in Book Four, she’s getting her own story.
The Demon Hunting Soccer Mom series I write as Julie Kenner is just the opposite.  In that series, we follow the same core characters as they grow and develop over multiple books.  (And Kate is back!!  I’ve got a short story up as an ebook right now (THE DEMON YOU KNOW) and Book 6, PAX DEMONICA, will be out in just a few weeks!). 
That’s not to say that every book I read or write is part of a series.  I just re-released THE CAT’S FANCY, actually, and it’s a stand-alone light paranormal romance.  I guess the bottom line is that, in the end, I just like to read!
How about you?  Do you prefer series or stand alones, or do you happily switch back and forth?  What’s your favorite series (if you have one?).  Mine is J.D. Robb’s In Death series (sorry Nancy Drew!)  Share your thoughts and one lucky winner will receive a signed copy of their choice of When Passion Lies or Carpe Demon (book 1 in the Demon Hunting Soccer Mom series)!

***Julie's winner is Yadkny!  Please email me at with your full name and mailing info - and your choice of prize/title!***


marybelle said...

Generally I prefer stand alones. I like my stories in one hit.

Having said that I do have a favourite series: A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE. George RR Martin is pure genius.

Eli Yanti said...

i dont mind with series or stand alone and my favorite series is first grave to the right by darynda jones, lotu by gena, dark hunter by jeaniene frost and many more :)

Anne said...

I read alot of both, but I prefer series especially those who focus on the same main characters. That way I really get to know the characters and see them develop. My current top two are series which, yes, focus on the same main characters: The Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews and the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs.

PamM said...

I love both! Of course i love any kind of book.
Kydirtgirl68 AT Gmail DOT com

Pinkfaekitten said...

I like both. I read just about anything if it's paranormal romance related and has a good story base.

Dina said...

Hi Julie

I prefer stand alones but as long as a series can be read sep I don't mind

Lee Hyat said...

Hi everyone, just a quick note to share that Julie's having problems accessing the blog via her phone but she will check in as soon as she gets to a real computer!

Julie Kenner said...

Hi everyone! Sorry to have taken so long to pop in. Thanks so much for coming by (and I love Game of Thrones, too!). It's a teacher workday for me for a class I'm teaching next week (creative writing for kids), and I thought I'd be able to get on using my phone...but it failed me!

Anyway, thanks for coming by and commenting!

Kathleen O said...

I love both, but ther are so many series I am hooked on.. Like Robyn Carr's Virgin River or Toni Blake's Destiny series. And Jill Shalvis Lucky Harbor books... any series by Nora Roberts. I could go on and on about series books.
But there a lot of stand alone books I love too. Like all of Nora Robers. I just finished last week The Witness.. I love it.. Or a Barbara Bardford Taylor new book Letter From a Stranger. Excellent book.

cindy vinzant said...

I love to read series I have so many Laurell k Hamilgon (Anita blake,Vampire hunter)J.R Ward (The Black Dagger Brotherhood)Patricia Briggs (The Mercy Thompson Novels)Jeaniene Frost (The Night Huntress World) Lynn Viehl (Kyndred Series )and the( Darkyn Series )and many more

*yadkny* said...

I actually prefer series especially if the first is so so good that you want to continue visiting their world even if it means sticking with same characters or visiting with different ones. As to the favorite series question... that's way to hard to answer:) I have alot of favorites, but I will the first author to get me hooked to a series is L.K.H.

Phyllis M said...

Hi Julie-I think that, for me, a series holds my interests more than a true stand alone. I say true stand alone because some series will say that each book can be read on it's own merits, but in truth, you get more out of it when you read the series. Having said that, I just think we become 'vested' in the characters and storyline more in a series and it also gives us an 'attachment' to the author and it begings to feel like a well worn pair of jeans...a perfect fit. I love a series that gives you a new couple each book, but brings in all the other characters from previous books, while introducing us to new ones. There are only two series, currently, that I read which has the same main characters throughout its entirety. One is Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series, the other is Kelly Armstrong's. I lean heavily to the PNR/Steampunk/UF/Fantasy books, but read contemporary as well.

As to my fave series, that is so difficult for me to answer as I have many. I would say its a toss up between Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark/Dream Hunter series and Lara Adrian's Midnight Breed.

Thank you for the giveaway and your thoughts on this topic!

erin said...

Thanks for a fun post and giveaway! I've had both of your series on my wishlist and splurge list ;)

I'm not really partial to either stand alones or series. I love series b/c you get to know the same world and characters and it's awesome to see how they develop and mature (just like you, I'm a big, big fan of the In Death series. I discovered it 12 books in and immediately sat down and devoured them all. Now 34+ books later, I'm still hooked). Just like a TV series, even if the focus is on a main character(s), you still get to see the supporting cast and world expand.

On the flip side, I like stand alones b/c I read so many series that I do get series fatigue. I admit, I have passed on several popular series b/c they are so far ahead and I don't have the time to catch up and read the previous books. It's nice to have a concrete self contained story. And it's nice to discover an author that is branching out w/ something different in every book.

Congrats on the newest releases and re-releases :) Thanks again for the giveaway!


Michele L. said...

I am not partial to either. It is fun getting to know an author through their stand alone books plus finding out they have a series is a bonus! I have read some terrific books that are stand alones. Then again, I have read many fantastic book series. I am open to all forms of books! LOL!

Many congrats on your new and old book releases! I bet you are tickled pink!

Karen H in NC said...

I love series books. And because I'm a huge fan of historical romances, some of my favorites are:
The Cynsters by Stephanie Laurens
The Bridgertons by Julie Quinn
The Hellions of Halsted Hall by Sabrina Jeffries
The Merry Widows by Candice Hern
The Sebastian St. Cyr Mysteries by C. S. Harris (my latest passion)

There are so many more, just to numerous to list here.

Chrisbails said...

I like both, but prefer series. I like to follow along with the stories. I have quite a few favorites like Laurell K Hamilton's Anita Blake and Meredith Gentry, Jeaniene Frosts Night Huntress series, The Bridgertons by Julia Quinn, Kat Martins Against series, and Lauren Dane's Chase Brothers series.