Summer Series Soundoff, Session 2

May 18, 2011 at 9:00 am (General) (, , , , )

And here we pick back up with the fun. For those of you just tuning in, I’m rounding up some of my favorite series, finished and continuing, for the long summer of reading ahead. Don’t forget to tune in down below with your favorites!

Vampire Academy, by Richelle Mead, takes its title from the first book. It’s an interesting take on vampires here, with three distinct types: Strigoi, the baddies who like to go ahead killing people and nomming on them; Moroi, the kinder gentler vamps who nom only a little at a little and only with permission; and Dhampir, half Moroi guardians who protect the Moroi from the Strigoi threat. This series has one of the most kick-ass heroines ever. Rose Hathaway has a talent for sassing, getting knocked on her rear, and jumping right back into the fight, rarely taking the time to think any of it through first. This series was finished with its sixth book, BUT, it has a spinoff series starting in August with the book Bloodlines, so the fun doesn’t have to end.

For those who love historicals, especially anyone who has ever gone to, worked, or loved Renaissance Festivals, the Blood Jack series by L.A. Meyer is an absolute must. Jacky Faber is an absolute blast. She’s resourceful and fun-loving and respectfully irreverent, and just careens through such an exciting time of history and exploration. There is so much real history woven through this, and the detail is absolutely astounding. Teachers? This series could become your best friend. Seriously. Next book comes out in October in the seas of the Far East, and I cannot wait.

This is a series I’ve mentioned before, but I absolutely love it. The Squire’s Tale by Gerald Morris starts us off on a ten-book adventure through King Arthur’s Camelot and the quests of the knights connected to the Round Table. These stories are told with humor and grace and an exquisite sensitivity that illuminates both the sorrows and the joys of life. The stories themselves are old, but the characters come alive and make you want to laugh and cry, sometimes even at the same time. Teachers, this is another on you want to look out for.

Next up is a Middle Grade series by Garth Nix, called The Keys to the Kingdom. I’ll be the first to admit, this series is bizarre, but in such a wonderful way. Strange and foreign and yet everything makes an odd kind of sense. Think Mirrormask meets Alice in Wonderland meets Nightmare Before Christmas. Seriously. It takes a healthy sense of weird to really appreciate this utterly unique world, but if you can swallow all the things you don’t understand and just immerse yourself completely, it’s the ride of a lifetime.

I was a little hesitant to start this next one, mainly because I really didn’t like the author’s first book, but Lauren Oliver’s Delirium was breathtaking in so many ways, not the least of which was the masterful portrayal of the push-me-pull-me sensation of teetering on a decision that will change all the rest of your life. It’s a terrifying position to be in, especially when you’re taught that love is a disease that destroys everything it touches and therefore must be cured. It pulled me in so completely I was stunned when I reached the end of it- and started swearing when I realized how long it was going to be before the next one came out (especially since I got an advance of this one, so I read it five months before it was even released). Look for the second one around February, most likely.

Pretty much anything Tamora Pierce goes on my summer reading list. I reread her again and again and again, because I just love her stories and her characters and her worlds so much. She’s got the third book in her Beka Cooper series coming out in October, Mastiff by name, and I can’t wait. Beka’s story is amazing, and her voice is stunning, that blend of Lower City cant and the gradual increase of intelligence and observation as she proceeds through her training. The fact that Beka, as a Provost’s Dog, is an ancrestress of Alanna’s George is…well, priceless, and given that it requires a mate of some sort to be an ancestor, it lets us wonder if perhaps George inherited his tendencies honestly- just not from Beka. Hopefully, this will be the book where we get to find out.

Across the Universe by Beth Revis came out in January, with A Million Suns to come out next year. It’s almost space opera meets murder mystery dinner theatre, and I mean that in such a fun way. The dust jacket includes a map of the ship. The society that has evolved on the ship as the intended occupants slumped in cryostasis is simultaneously simple and complex with more secrets than anyone knows to look for. I occasionally have issues, but I’m very much looking forward to what happens next, especially since there’s a vague sense of hopelessness that will linger from the previous book.

All of Rick Riordan’s Middle Grade books go on this list. The Percy Jackson books, along with its continuation of the Heroes of Olympus, makes me so ridiculously happy. I love mythology just as much as I love fairy tales, and I love books that get kids reading, and this series just…I love it. Same with the Kane Chronicles- Egyptian mythology is confusing as best, layered through itself many times over the millenia, but it becomes so clear, and Carter and Sadie’s banter and knife-sharp observations are brilliant. This is another set(s) for teachers to love, because it actually gets kids excited about the lessons. Heroes of Olympus continues in October with book two, Son of Neptune.

I’ve talked about the next one before- raved about it, really- but I’m still excited about this one. Veronica Roth’s Divergent was amazing, and I can’t wait for the sequel. Having to wait til May is kind of killing me. I put the review up here on the site, so feel free to hit that up for more gushing about how much I loved this book.

Of course, this list couldn’t possibly be complete without the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. I could gush about this forever and maybe in another post I will, but this series rejuvenated the industry of kids lit. I won’t say it was dying before, but this gave it a huge boost because suddenly kids wanted to be reading. And it wasn’t just kids! Adults were suddenly discovering how amazing so many of these books are, and enjoying it for themselves and not just for their kids. If you haven’t read this series, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

If you’ve never read Megan Whalen Turner’s Thief series, you’re in for a treat. Plots within plots and plans within plans, there isn’t a single thing in this series that can be taken for granted. It isn’t just court intrigue, it’s the intrigue of people and countries and hearts, as intensely personal as it is political. Everything has more than one way it can be taken, and the way we take it is so rarely the way it’s meant. These books will blow your mind.

This is another one you’ve seen here on the blog: Paranormalcy by Kierstin White. The second book, Supernaturally, comes out this July (another one of those books that’s going to keep me broke this summer) and I’m very much looking forward to it. Evie is bouncy and silly and a little bit scary and more than anything, just wants a normal life. It should be interesting to see what happens when she’s actually got it, or at least as close to it as she’s likely to get when she’s…well…Evie.

Last one, I promise! This is a little bit of an older one, but it made me fall in love with the Regency period. Patricia C. Wrede’s Mairelon the Magician and its sequel The Magician’s Ward were amazing. The system of magic, the detail of everyday life, the dialect, the plots, the characterizations…loved everything about them. This was the series that made me fall in love with historical fiction. They were just rereleased together in a single volume, in print and in ebook, which makes me laugh a little over the weeks I spent trying to track down a pair that were in really good condition, but a fair number of libraries still have these, so do yourself the favor and check these out.

Don’t forget, drop me a note and let me know what your favorites are! What are you looking forward to this summer? What’s on your list?

Until next time~

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Summer Series Soundoff

May 14, 2011 at 9:00 am (General) (, , , , )

Something I’ve noticed- in myself, as well as others- is that if we love a book, we almost always want more. We want more of the characters, more of the world, more of the story…just more. And almost always, when I’m giving book recs at work, I get asked if it’s a series.

Now, for some, this is a cautionary question, because if the answer is yes, they’ll ask if it’s a finished or ongoing series. There are a lot of people who refuse to read a series until it’s completed because they don’t want to have to wait six, twelve, eighteen months or longer for the next book (God help you if you’re a George R.R. Martin fan).

But for most, this is a mark of anticipation: if they trust me and try the book, if they love it, they want to know that there’ll be more. So, given that we’re coming into summer, schools are out, beaches and pools are beckoning, I thought I’d share with you a few of my favorite series, both completed and ongoing. This is by no means a complete list, and it’ll contain both Middle Grade and Young Adult, but I know many of these are on my list for this summer and for the two and a half straight weeks of glorious vacation that await me. Some are new releases, some are rereads, and here they are. They’re just in the order from my shelf, so don’t read too deeply into the order.

Raised by Wolves, by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. Titled by the first book, the second book, Trial by Fire is out this June, one of the many books that promises to keep me broke that month. Bryn is human, but she’s been Marked and quite literally raised by wolves (werewolves, that is) and now there’s a secret that threatens everything and everyone she loves, and everything she’s ever thought was true. This starts slowly with a lot of character building, but around page 200 or so suddenly takes off.

Gallagher Girls, by Ally Carter. There are four books in this series so far, with the fifth set to come out next year, and it cannot come soon enough. These books are ridiculously funny, and yet, as they proceed, they can get genuinely heart-breaking. And seriously, a girls school for spies? Priceless. The off the cuff references are amazing and absurd but the friendships- and the troubles- are very real.

Heist Society, also by Ally Carter, and the first of a series that feature high-class art thief Katarina Bishop, whose strong desire to escape the life and do something normal like boarding school gets rather abruptly derailed when a Very Bad Man thinks her father has stolen from him. This has a lot of the same humor as the Gallagher Girls, though it can cut a little sharper, with a distinct cast of characters and all the fun of old-time thief movies. Uncommon Criminals, the second book, is another one of my June-let’s-leave-Dot-with-no-food-money books.

Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices, by Cassandra Clare. Technically they’re two separate series, but they’re so interwoven we might as well give them a single entry. I’ve reviewed these books here on the blog and they’re amazing- so incredibly hard to put down until you reach the end and then so very tempting to hurl across the room. Do NOT pick up these books if you’re someone who hates cliffhangers. Next book adds to the ID trilogy, but not until December. So. Many. Months. Away.

Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins. Most people have heard of this one, either from the many, many people who’ve read it or from the hype from the upcoming movie, but this is really part of what kicked off the current dystopian trend. It is absolutely riveting, high stakes, high drama, high price that the characters consistently pay. Clear time for these. Once you pick up the first one, you’re going to want to go straight through all three.

Matched, by Ally Condie (also reviewed on here). The second book, Crossed, comes out in November. The second book promises to take us out of the cities, with their neat, tidy lives and delivered food and out into the outer provinces where the battles are still taking place. Cassia still has friends- dear friends- in the city, her family on one of the farms, and of course Ky- likely on the front lines of one of those continuing battles. Stakes are going to soar, people.

Nightshade, by Andrea Cremer (you can find that one in the archives, as well), with the second book, Wolfsbane scheduled for July. Another month that may break my bank. The end of the first left us in one heck of a cliffhanger (avoiding the spoilers), with the promise to pick right back up where we left off. Calla is no one’s pet- whatever struggles she’s going to find, she’ll approach them head on, with the promise of both Ren and Shay in the picture.

Mistwood, by Leah Cypess. Nightspell, due out at the end of May, is listed as a companion book to Mistwood, a novel that held me interested the entire time with its questions of the shifting nature of identity and loyalty. And now a novel that ventures into a land of ghosts? Want!

Chemical Garden Trilogy, by Lauren DeStefano. The first book, Wither, introduced us to a world where pursuit of the perfect genomes have changed humanity so greatly that all males die at the age of twenty-five, and all females at the age of twenty. People lead desperate lives, and families in pursuit of children steal multiple women to serve as brides and the bearers of children. Rhine Ellery has just been taken, and she’s determined not to give in to that captivity. The second book, with the newly announced title of Fever, will be out early next spring, and will continue Rhine’s drive to reunite with her twin brother Rowan.

Jessica Day George’s Princess books hold a very special place in my heart, partly because they have historical settings and partly because they’re fairy tale retellings. They’re told with grace and cleverness and a lovely attention to detail that makes them a joy to read again and again. The third title hasn’t been released yet, nor has the date, but the author has hinted that it involves a little girl with a red cape.

Jessica Day George has another set on here as well. I discovered Dragon Slippers from reading my way down the Sunshine State List a couple of years ago and absolutely fell in love with it. There’s something innately appealing about a heroine who sews and embroiders and isn’t seen as remotely weak for it. And it has dragons! Dragons with hordes that I frankly love, and humor and bittersweetness and grand adventure. I started reading the book so I could talk about it to teachers and parents, but that was not at all what made me go back to the store the same day and get the other two.

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins. First two books are out, with the third (title not yet released) slated for a March release. These books crack me up. Sophie Mercer is the voice inside my head that isn’t often allowed to come out when I’m on the clock at work, wise-cracking and sarcastic and trying a little too hard to use humor to mask the fear. The nature of magic users and magical beasties is a fun one, and the tension ratchets up in the second one when we get normal teenage angst, boy angst, betrayed by boy and possibly about to be killed by him angst, identity oh my god what kind of creature am I angst, and- everyone’s favorite- Extreme Daddy Angst. Wickedly funny.

The Redwall series by Brian Jacques. I cannot give this series enough love, they are the books that shaped me as a reader and a writer. There are individual books that I don’t love as much, but then there are others that I’ve reread so many times that my paperbacks literally fell apart. They have humor and warmth and sorrow and struggles and absolutely unforgettable characters. They have songs and poems and such amazing food (there’s actually a cookbook- this should tell you something). If you have children, these make amazing bedtime stories to split with a chapter or two a night, the absolute perfect books to read aloud- which is what they were originally designed to be.

The Theatra llluminata series by Lisa Mantchev. So, SO many reasons to love these books. I’m a theatre junkie, I competed in it all through middle school and high school, pursued it in college, still have a love for it, so the tale of a girl who grew up in the theatre of all theatres, where the characters of all the plays actually exist? Amazing! Especially given that some of the pieces are actually written in play format. Third book, So Silver Bright, comes out in September, and I think this is the final book. Which makes me a little sad. But also, very happy, because that means more Bertie, more Nate, more Ariel, and best of all, more fairies.

Last up on this section (I’ll be splitting this into two parts to keep it from being riduclously long), the Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr, with the first book possessed of the same title. This series is complete at five titles, and take an amazing look at just how dark many of the original Celtic faeries actually were. It’s all about power and Courts and alliances and the dark, feral forces that stalk through and around us. This isn’t a series with much lightness and the moments of softness, of laughter, are hard won and few and far between. Dark and gorgeous and exquisitely painful, this is an absolutely amazing series.

What are some series you love? What are you looking forward to reading this summer? Let me know below!

Until next time~

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