Friday, April 11, 2008

Chit Chat

Lately I have been thinking a lot about book series and what it is that makes a reader continue on in a series. I read a lot of romance novels and a lot of authors within the genre write in series, or at least have characters that are interconnected. What I am not sure about is whether I continue reading in a series because of some strange obligation I feel or because I genuinely like the writing and the stories.

I have to admit, sometimes I feel like I buy books just because they are the next one in the series. Even though I really like her books, sometimes I have felt that way about Lauren Willig's Pink Carnation series. I really liked The Seduction of the Crimson Rose, but I wasn't crazy about The Deception of the Emerald Ring. So what made me continue? Ultimately I think it was the contemporary story that Willig weaves and spreads out through all her books.

And there are some series that I have to read just because I love the writing and that makes me auto-buys for me. I know a lot of people don't like her, but Stephanie Laurens is like that for me. I don't care what the plot of a particular book is. If it's a Cynster or Bastion Club book, I'll buy it.

I do so many auto-buys on a familiar series that I was concerned that I'm being suckered into buying books that aren't very good just because I read the first one. So I was very pleased with myself when I finally, finally gave up on Eloisa James after Desperate Duchesses. I started out really liking her books, but the last two books before Desperate Duchesses didn't appeal to me at all. After reading the first in her Duchess series, I finally found the willpower to say "no more." It was hard, but I did it.

And then there are books like the Twilight series that I not only love, but I have to read so I can know what happens to the characters! It's very hard to put a series down when there is no real conclusion until the last one.

I'm trying to figure this all out because I'm contemplating continuing on with the vampire series I started out of curiosity/for experiement's sake. I have nothing else to read as far as novels go, at the moment. But I don't know if I should spend the money. I wouldn't mind hearing the stories of the other characters, but am I going to regret it if I commit to five more books?

So I guess I'm just curious--how do you approach series?

Book Reviews

I've read all these books in the past few months. And honestly, they were all pretty good. No major complaints.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Book Review: Dark Lover

Since in the past I have ranted and raved about how much I hate the influx of vampire/paranormal stories into the romance genre, I was a little concerned that I had been too hasty in my condemnation when I discovered I loved a series of books about teenage vampires. So I decided to do a little experiment and yesterday I bought a vampire romance novel that is part of a series that has generated a lot of positive talk in the romance fan world.

Turns out, I'm still not crazy about vampires. The vampires in Dark Lover are very different from the ones in the Twilight series. Indeed, the whole vampire world is different.

I prefer the Twilight version.

Not that this book was bad. In fact, it was entertaining. But I couldn't help but think that I would have liked the vampire hero just as much if not more if he were human.

It's good to know that my original instincts were correct. Phew.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Book Reviews: Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse

I never in a million years would have thought that I would write a raving review about teenage vampire books, but here I am. Perhaps you have heard of these books: Twilight, New Moon, and Eclipse. Apparently they are bestsellers. The last book in the series is Breaking Dawn and it comes out in August. I CAN'T WAIT!

I think that part of the reason I enjoy these books so much is because they are set in Forks, Washington, which is on the Olympic Peninsula for those of you that don't know. A lot of scenes also take place in La Push, and I've been to both places. I love, love, love western Washington so reading about these places that I know and like is pretty cool.

The main character in Twilight is a seventeen year old girl names Isabella (Bella) Swan. Bella has lived her whole life with her mother in Phoenix, but when her mom gets remarried to a professional baseball player who travels a lot, Bella moves to Forks to live with her father, Charlie. In Forks she meets Edward Cullen, an incredibly handsome seventeen year old who is the member of a mysterious family in town, the Cullens. It doesn't take long before Bella discovers that Edward and his family are, in fact, vampires!

But the Cullens are unique vampires. Their patriarch, Carlisle, "created' all of them and taught them to live a "vegetarian" lifestyle, which essentially means that they don't drink human blood, only animal blood. They still crave human blood, and as it turns out, Edward happens to crave Bella's blood even more than the average person. Which makes the fact that they fall in love with each other pretty interesting...

But there are other bad vampires out there in the world and when three of them wander into Forks and find Bella hanging out with the Cullens, they're intrigued. And one of them wants Bella. How far will the Edward and his family go to protect Bella, and will it be enough? Ooooohhhh....

New Moon picks up a few months after where Twilight leaves off. This is actually my favorite of the three books that are out so far. Without giving too much away, I will say that there are some really interesting plot twists that occur in this book and that set up the rest of the series. Specifically worth mentioning is Jacob Black, a family friend of Bella's who is a sixteen year old member of the Quileute Indian Tribe in La Push. Tribal legend has told of members who turn into werewolves when vampires are around the community, as well of an ancient treaty between the tribe and the "vegetarian" vampires (i.e., the Cullens). Well, turns out the legends are true! And young Jacob turns into a werewolf, the mortal enemy of the vampires. How is Bella supposed to handle the feud between her true love, Edward, and her best friend, Jacob? Ooooohhhh.... (Tons of other important stuff happens, but I don't to give it away.)

Now we get to Eclipse, the most recently published book. This book is hard to describe without giving too much away about New Moon. There are things about Eclipse that makes me not like it as much as the other two books, but at the same time Meyer does some stuff here that is pretty intriguing. I didn't like what she did, but you know, sometimes your characters have a life of their own and a writer can't really control it. Maybe Meyer planned it all out, but there's a part of me that thinks that a natural progression occurred beyond her control. Let's just say that things get pretty complicated for Bella here. Vampires, werewolves, true love... that's a lot for an eighteen year old to handle.

I can't say why I like these books so much. It's not the vampires because I'm still pretty ambivalent about vampires, but Meyer is just a good storyteller. I care about these characters and feel like I'm a part of their lives. And she's set things up so that there is a really compelling story going on here (partly because Edward is going to be seventeen forever and Bella is... not. Can you tell where this is going?) I don't know how she is going to wrap all of this up in Breaking Dawn but I already feel like she can go a number of different ways and still have it be satisfying.

My one little gripe about these books has to do with the romantic relationship between Bella and Edward, and especially the developments in New Moon. I understand that they love each other and all that, but look, I've been seventeen and in love, too. I too was convinced that it was going to be forever, but as it turns out, it wasn't. There's a part of me that is concerned about the message that these books send about teenage relationships, but I'm trying to ignore that because, well, one of the teenagers is a vampire that was born in 1901, so he's been around the block. Maybe it's possible to fall eternally in love when you're seventeen if the person you fall in love with is a vampire, because really, that's a pretty special circumstance. And heck, I'd be in love with Edward Cullen, too.

I am really getting into Young Adult books, now, I don't know why. I kind of think that I have a Peter Pan complex, though. Young Adult books, High School Musical movies and music, teeny-bopper films, The Disney Channel shows... What's wrong with me?