I am an absolutely avid reader. I just can’t help myself.
I remember from a very early age my parents surrounded me with books. I never went without; even though when I was small I can’t really remember seeing my parents reading. It was something I loved, something I was good at and something my parents supported me in.
The one thing I’ve always struggled with is finding a genre to suit my reading style and imagination. I don’t like side story waffle; please get to the point. Although a plot that moves too fast and misses key character building opportunites or has too many characters to keep up with is just too dissapointing for words.
I also find ‘every day’ plots to boring to bother with. Same goes for historical novels, although OH and my Dad adore this genre. I can’t read biographies, tradgedies, chick-lit and anything written by ‘celebrities’ who aren’t actually writers and therefore (in most cases) should not be allowed to write, let alone be encouraged by publishers keen on profit and not quality. I am also not clever enough or ‘arty’ enough to read weird, twisted tales full of backwards and forwards plots, past and present flicking, backstory, multiple viewpoints headed in chapters by the name of the character telling the story at that point and characters coming and going in such quick sucession I have no idea what the hell is going on. I’m sure I’ll think of other things to add to the list in time…
So I want to get attached to characters. I want to believe I’m there; living the story. I want to laugh out loud and bawl my poor little eyes out. I WANT TO CARE. There are so many characters with way too much attitude or so thinly described that I feel absolutely no connection to them or affection for them when things go wrong. In these cases, I put the book down. For me, I find I only connect to a story told in first person by a lead female charcter. I’m sorry, I know this shouldn’t matter if it’s a good book but it does. I can’t live the story as completely if I don’t feel what they character is saying. Let’s face it, women ‘say’ more. They over analyse more. I get that. I can empathise.
As I’m so picky I have, through trial and error and plenty of review reading, found what I have been looking for. The genre? Urban fantasy. Modern, gritty, funny and as full of real-life settings and details as I would like to get, just making it believable. The key here is just that; adding just enough of the real-life stuff to make you believe it could be real for you and adding just the right mix of fantasy or supernatural to really loose yourself in.
It’s an art. And one all too many authors have gotten wrong for me.
So, to my favourite series. Yes yes, they have to be a series’ too I’m afraid. I have to know there will be more. I have to be able to follow my favourite characters and live their next tale…
Kelley Armstrong’s The Otherworld Series.
Book One- Bitten. Seriously; this series should come with a warning… Or maybe the title says it all. Once you start reading you just have to read them all.
Complete set of full and real charcters that stay singular characters. All too often I can find an individual changes who they are, with their morals, fears and core personality changing to fit the plot. Not great reading. So in short; great fast paced plot with full characters and lots of back story you can only guess about as the series continues and you learn more and more- There is a long standing love/hate relationship that ignites the dialogue and really brings alive the interactions between characters.
The short stories have recently been published which consists of a lot of back story and explination-type tales. To be honest, don’t read them until you’ve read the series. It’s a little more intriguing if you wait.
Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson Series.
Book One- Moon Called. Another wonderfully believable female lead and a fantastic plot to get you hooked.
More full characters and key roles each play in subsequent stories- the mentor, the best friend, the potential love interest, the last love interest. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t all about the love interests, the interactions between characters are so alive with the power of their individual realationships you can’t help but feel there’s history. Much like Armstrong’s characters although the cast here is larger.
My ultimate Top Two series with a total of twenty books, not including the couple of graphic novels each, between them makes them a hefty percentage of a bookshelf. Remember I read alot. I also have a few more series worth a mention and I’ll probably cover each in much more detail at a later date…
Christine Warren’s Others Series.
Kim Harrison’s Rachel Morgan Series.
Rachel Vincent’s Faith Sanders Series.
Jennifer Rardin’s Jaz Parks Series.
I’m sure this is the first of many essays on my favourite reads. Enjoy!