Best and Worst Series of 2019 Book Tag

I’m doing this very interesting book tag that I saw for the first time on the Youtube channel of BookslikeWhoa. She is an awesome Booktuber with great book recommendations so, follow her! 😉

Questions and Answers:

1. What is the best series that you caught up with this year that is still a work in progress?

AN UNKINDNESS OF MAGICIANS by Kat Howard. It is an awesome and well written first book and I can’t wait for the sequel. Rating: 5 Stars!

I must also mention EMPIRE OF SILENCE (Sun Eater #1) by Christopher Ruocchio. This is extremely well written. I see it more as epic fantasy with space opera elements than the other way around, but what matters is that once you start reading this, you won’t be able to put it down. (I wouldn’t read the blurb tough, it gives away too much of the story). Rating: 5 stars!

2. What is the best work in progress series that you are still catching up with?

THE WICKED KING (The Folk of the Air #2) by Holly Black
I know some people didn’t like this series. I liked it even if it has a couple of flaws, and I will surely read the next book, THE QUEEN OF NOTHING (The Folk of the Air #3) asap. Rating: 5 Stars!

3. What was your favorite first book in a series this year?

One of my favorites was REBEL OF THE SANDS by Alwyn Hamilton. This was a wonderfully written tale of the desert, with so many important underlying themes and a compelling story with awesomely developed characters.
I will surely be following this series and Alwyn Hamilton is a new favorite author to watch for. The “Goodreads Choice Winner of 2016” prize this book has won is completely deserved.Rating: 5 stars!

4. What is a first book in a series you read this year that you think should have just been a standalone, not a series?

KING OF SCARS (Nikolai Duology #1) by Leigh Bardugo.
The story of Nikolai dragged to a point I stopped caring, since there were too many POVs jarring the pacing and flow of the narrative there. An interesting character like Nikolai Lantsov deserved a more fast-paced book with a deeper exploration of his story. The other shallow narratives of Nina Zenik and Zoya Nazyalensky just stood in the way of the main story. Rating: 3,5 stars.

5. What is your most over-hyped series of the year?

I’m a bit late for this, but definitely, MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN (Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children #1) by Ransom Riggs. I have heard so many times how this series was the best on Booktube that I was completely underwhelmed by it. Rating: 1 star.

6. What is a series that you DNFed this year?

I have the same answer as Bookslikewhoa for this question; THE PASSAGE (The Passage #1)by Justin Cronin. I could not understand why people liked this series. I don’t like when a book is way too sad. Dystopia is fine but not overly done. And there was so much exposition, tell and not show. In addition, it went so slow… No rating (since I bailed).

7. What was your favorite series finale of the year?

Again, my answer is the same as Bookslikewhoa, MAGIC TRIUMPHS by Ilona Andrews.
This was an amazing, great final book for this awesome series. I could not put it down. Rating: 5 stars!

8. What was the biggest cliffhanger you had in a series this year?

What a cliffhanger!

SAGA #54 (Saga (Single Issues) #54) by Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples.
I won’t say more not to spoil it, but the last issue of this graphic novel was shocking (and kind of upsetting too). Rating: Variable through the series, average 4 stars.

9. What is your favorite spin-off series you read this year?

I have read only one spin-off series this year, but I didn’t like it enough to read past the first book. One of the spin-off books I liked but that wasn’t a series was THE LOST SISTERS (The Folk of the Air #1.5) by Holly Black. I wished this book’s story had been more deeply explored tough, as it was, it was a very rushed-up explanation. Rating: 3,5 stars.

10. What is your most anticipated next book in a series that you read this year that will come out next year?

I’m waiting since awhile for THE NEMESIS (The Diabolic #3) by S.J. Kincaid. I hope it comes out next year. Rating of the previous books: 5 stars!

I should also mention the VOIDWITCH SAGA by Corey J. White. I sincerely hope this awesome series continues. Rating of the previous books: 5 stars!

And finally, I’m waiting for the next book in the Game of Thrones series. But who isn’t, right?

11. What is your most anticipated series to catch up with next year based on what you read in that series this year?

I want to catch up with the BOBIVERSE series next year. I liked the first Audiobook of WE ARE LEGION (We Are Bob)(Bobiverse #1)by Dennis E. Taylor enough to go on reading or hearing the series. Rating: 5 stars!

12. What is your favorite series that you finished this year?

I already mentioned the KATE DANIELS series by Ilona Andrews. I think it finished in the right moment, since I could see myself reading spin offs with secondary characters of this series. Better than to drag it for many more empty sequels and loose its driving force momentum, as I have seen happening with other paranormal series. Rating: 5 stars!

I also finished the FALLEN EMPIRE series, by Lindsay Buroker. This series was extremely entertaining, funny and full of action. It included a captain full of jokes, a moody cyborg, a pessimistic engineer, space pirates, and many other interesting Space Opera tropes. It was the perfect light summer read for me, and I read all its eight books and spin-off short stories in fifteen days. Rating: 5 stars!

13. What is your favorite episodic series of the year?

I don’t really know any episodic series as far as I can remember right now. Recommend me a good one in the comments!

14. What is a series that you finally bailed on after holding onto it for a long time?

The MERCY THOMPSON series by Patricia Briggs. The last book, SILENCE FALLEN, was so utterly boring. I don’t know if it is because I am enjoying less paranormal romance lately, but I think the series has completely lost its momentum on its tenth book. So, after years following it,  I’m bailing. At least until my interest for the paranormal genre returns. Rating: Although I liked many books in this series, this last tenth book gets only 1 star.

15. What is the series you were most surprised that you liked this year?

The MORTAL ENGINE series by Philip Reeve, since I never read Steampunk before. This was one of the most interesting books I came across for a long time; with an extremely well built story world and every single one of the characters had many layers and something unique and special about them. Rating: 5 stars!

So, these were my best and worst series of 2019, I tag anyone who would like to answer these questions. If you do I would like to read your answers, so please leave your link below in the comments.

The two main reasons I’m not following a book series, even if I liked the first book.

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1) The author killed most characters I cared about on the first book.

Game of Thrones was a series where I endured the death of a lot of my favorite characters, and its last tv season was *spoiler alert* so tragical! All hopes for my favorite characters, Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow, were crushed in the worst possible way. Even though I read all the released books in the series so far and will probably read the next ones (when its ‘wizard’ author finally publishes them).

This was tough, an exception, because there were many awesome characters still left and even if my reader’s heart got broken five times or more in each book, I still had other five awesome characters to follow on the next one. (Furthermore, Tyrion Lannister was staying to the end, saying he was “the god of t**** and wine”).

GOT exception apart, I won’t be doing that again, especially not for five books in a row. If an author kills my most loved characters already in the first book, don’t expect me to hang around (no, no, no, enough with the heartache).

I have a really hard time understanding why authors make us, not only like, but tie all our heartstrings, to a character, show all her/his potential for all those series sequels to come, and not long after, after one hundred pages, kill them. Frankly, I’m not supporting this further.

Imagine how it would be if Dorothy had never journeyed through the yellow brick road, met the Wizard of Oz and melted the bad witch? As a reader, I’m Toto following Dorothy, and I’m not going anywhere without her.

 

2) The author changed the main characters from one book to the next.

I like when a story world stretches longer than three books. But for me, the longer and deeper character journeys that happen during more than one book, in a well-written series, is the most important reason why reading a series is enjoyable for me.

I consider very jarring if the main characters are switched for completely new characters already on the second book, or any next book in the series for that matter. Then, instead of following the amazing plot with the characters I already care about, I have to get acquainted to new points-of-view once again.

It also creates a multitude of superficial characters to populate a series, and that, for me, is usually less interesting than characters who have a personal journey at each new book. I would rather follow two characters for three or many more books.

My upper limit so far has been ten books and I could see myself following a character even longer, if its journey would be interesting enough to go on following, then follow six main characters that had their whole story told in only one book.

I understand that going that deep into analysing a main character is much harder for the author than creating yet another fascinating and superficial first impression, but I like character layers, depths, baggage and flaws. The first book is like the small talk of a conversation for me, the sequels is where stuff gets real and finally interesting. The sequels are when all those skeletons get out of the closet and the flashing characters turn from wooden puppets into real boys/girls/non-binary characters. 😉

And when it comes to plot, it’s better when a second book is done with the main character introductions. Now it’s time for development, deepening what I know about that characters I already know a bit about, so let’s move on with the story. If the main characters I liked in book one become secondary characters, it’s way too jarring. Their story and POV was the main reason why I was invested in the series sequel to begin with, and I rarely like spin-offs. Specially spin-offs posing as sequels. As a reader I feel as if I was promised a second book, so a first book with the same story world isn’t the same. I get that feeling of “this wasn’t the dish I ordered”. It may taste wonderfully, but it’s like ordering salad and getting pizza, or the other way around.

I have suspended my disbelief while following Dorothy, I don’t want her to find out about the Ruby Slippers and come back to Kansas before the story is told. I don’t want either to follow Dorothy’s daughter that picked up another tornado elsewhere and had other witches to melt. That story is already told. Dorothy’s daughter might become an alien hunter and have a completely new story in an a Moon in Saturn, but don’t kill her before her series is done either.

Book Series Winter Wrap-Up

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In January, February and March and April (yeah, we still have snow shower in April, so for me, it still counts as a last winter’s month) 😉 I read around 41 books. I think this is the year I read most so far, not counting the years I wasn’t registering every book I read on Goodreads, but with this large enough number, I considered writing a blog post with short reviews on all the series I will (or not) go on reading.

 

Series I won’t go on reading.

 

In the last four months, there were around four first-in-a-series books that I would react to with, “Nope! Not at all,” either because the books were written to another audience, or because the books were really beyond terrible, so I decided to drop their series, even if I am a series follower at heart.
I considered talking about these books here, but on a second thought, that would make this post too ranty, so if you are curious to see which ones, take a look at my list of “series-I-will-not-finish” on Goodreads.

 

Series I will (eventually) go on reading (or not, it depends on my TBR)

 

Wither (The Chemical Garden #1) by Lauren DeStefano
A quite dark dystopia, this first book just felt like an introduction to the story world since not many questions were answered here. Let’s see what the next books will bring.

 

The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1) by Maggie Stiefvater
I found this story quite original. I also liked the characters and their original world. Blue with the clairvoyant mother and friends and the raven boys. That said I think that things moved at a much slower pace than most YA books I’ve read lately, not many answers were given at the end and the characters seem to be still at the beginning of their journey. Even though it was an original book, so I may go on with this series even if I rated the first book 3.5 stars.

 

A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1) by V.E. Schwab

I liked the story world and most of the characters. The story wraps up quite well in the end, without giving many hints on how the characters or the story could go on. So I’ll probably go on reading this series, even if I see no reason to hurry.

 

Matched (Matched #1) by Ally Condie

This book is slower paced than most science-fiction dystopia books I’ve read, but this perhaps due to the characters relationships being in the foreground. This slower pace, in my opinion, also created a better world description and story development, so it was all right. I liked the way the story was told even if the book finishes with a hook. And the touching role the Dylan Thomas poem played in the story was so beautiful, that it alone won my good opinion on this book. I’ll probably finish this series later.

 

Guilty Pleasures (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter #1) by Laurell K. Hamilton

I wasn’t too impressed by the first book of this series, but it could be due to me getting a vampire story overload? At the moment I’ve already read more than thirty books with vampires on them, so I feel I’ve seen a lot of the tropes already. This book was written in 1993 before vampires acquired the twilit hype that would also weaken them, so it’s not the book’s fault and I’ll probably read a couple of books more to make up my mind about this series. I’m just not in a hurry.

 

Series I will (definitely) go on reading.

 

Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn #1) by Brandon Sanderson

This book is so good you will take your time reading it, so it lasts longer. And so far I can remember, it’s one of the best epic fantasies I’ve read. So I’ll definitely go on reading this series.

 

Queen of Hearts (Queen of Hearts Saga #1) by Colleen Oakes

I really liked this book and I’m curious to read the next book in the series. IMO the first book of a series has to leave enough mystery, enough hooks for the second book, otherwise, I don’t feel so eager to read it. But this first book was quite successful in that, so I can’t wait to read the sequel.

 

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) by Sarah J. Maas

I didn’t start reading this series now in winter but read The Assassin’s Blade (Throne of Glass 0.1 – 0.5) and Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4) in January.  So even if I rated both books 4 stars and felt a bit wary of the heroine changing her mind about love interests all the time, I’ll go on reading this series.

 

A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1) by Sarah J. Maas

After reading the Throne of Glass series from the same author I was seriously underwhelmed by two-thirds of this book. The story only starts to go at a faster and more interesting pace after page 250, when the heroine finally starts to commit to her journey and Rhysand, the best character in this series, finally gets a more central role in the story. I found the second book much better than the first. This was a book I felt like fist pumping and shouting ‘yes’ with the heroine choices. I couldn’t put the second book down. So let’s see how the rest of this series will develop. I’m even afraid of the next book not managing to be as good as the second one.

 

Red Queen (Red Queen #1) by Victoria Aveyard

I’ll go on reading this series even if I always complain in the reviews about the science fiction component of the story being forgotten in name of romance and action.

Moon Called (Mercy Thompson #1) by Patricia Briggs

I read Fire Touched (Mercy Thompson #9) and read that the next book will be again someone getting kidnapped, a plot similar to other books in this series, but since I like the characters I’ll go on reading this series, for now.

Magic Bites (Kate Daniels #1) by Ilona Andrews

This year I was waiting for Magic Binds (Kate Daniels #9) for a couple of months. The same day it was released, in the same paperback size as the rest of my collection, I ordered it. I gave it five stars and now I must wait full of curiosity for the next book.
Oh, the joy of long book series!

 

 

Series I finished.

(In the rain, a violin plays a dark melody of longing.)

 

The Selection (The Selection #1) by Kiera Cass

I read the five books in this series in one week and consider them all highly entertaining page-turners. An ideal series if you just want a break.

 

Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1) by Leigh Bardugo

The Grisha Trilogy, in my opinion, deserved all its hype. I read it on my e-book reader, but I’m seriously considering buying the whole series in paperback just to have it. I liked the series enough for that.

 

And you, have you read any of these series and had a different opinion on them? What is your favorite unfinished or finished series? Do you know any YA, Fantasy or Science fiction series you would like to recommend to me? Or do you prefer reading stand alone books?

Let me know in the comments.

 

Author Interview – Misha Burnett

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Misha Burnett has little formal education, but has been writing poetry and fiction for around forty years. During this time he has supported himself and his family with a variety of jobs, including locksmith, cab driver, and building maintenance.

His first four novels, Catskinner’s Book, Cannibal Hearts, The Worms Of Heaven, and Gingerbread Wolves comprise a series, collectively known as The Book Of Lost Doors.

More information can be found on his website: https://mishaburnett.wordpress.com

Questions:

Which authors have influenced you?

Mostly the New Wave Movement of the 1960s and 1970s. William Burroughs, Phillip Dick, Samuel Delany, Tim Powers, Tannith Lee. More recently, Clive Barker, China Mieville, Charles Stross.

Which are your favorite literary genres?

None of the above. I like books that break genre boundaries. Recently people have taken to calling that “slipstream fiction”.

What makes a book/story special for you?

The characters, plain and simple. I don’t care much what the story is about, what grabs me is who the story is about.

Where do you live? Did your hometown/country/culture influenced your story?

I live in St. Louis, Missouri, although I have lived all over the country, mostly in the Southwest. My culture is blue collar American—people who work with their hands and keep the machine running that keeps us all fed. It very much influences my stories. My heroes are people who face problems squarely and get things done, regardless of what anyone else is doing.

How long you needed for writing this book/for your first draft/ for your revision/editing process?

Each of my books took about a year to write, while working a full time day job. I don’t revise or edit or write in drafts. I start at the beginning, work through to the end, and then I’m done. What you see on the page is pretty much exactly as I wrote it the first time.

Did you hire a cover artist/editor/proofreader?

Nope. My roommate took the photos and I made the covers. I had beta readers who pointed out typos, which I fixed.

What have you learned while writing and publishing? Did unexpected things happened?

In the writing process a lot of unexpected things happened. I had no clear idea of where I was going with the story, and it kind of unfolded as I went. I didn’t even know that I had finished the series until about a month after I published the last book and realized that it was the last book.

Best piece of advice for first time writers?

Nobody cares about your book. That sounds discouraging, but it’s really not. It’s very freeing. I read a lot of posts from new authors asking “Will readers like this? Do publishers like that? Will an agent want the other thing?” The answer is nobody cares. There are seven billion people on this planet and most of them will go to their graves without ever knowing that you exist. Write for yourself, or give it up.

Where can readers contact you in the internet? Do you have a blog/website?

https://mishaburnett.wordpress.com/

What are you planning to write/publish next?

I’m not. I’m doing a series of reviews of for a publisher’s website, focusing on what I consider to be forgotten classics of speculative fiction, and I’ve written a few short stories for various collections, but right now I have no plans to write another novel, much less a series.

Author Interview – Carol Van Natta

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Carol Van Natta is an independent author of science fiction romance, including Overload Flux, Minder Rising, and Zero Flux, the first in a new series, and Hooray for Holopticon, a retro science fiction comedy. Overload Flux won a 2015 SFR Galaxy Award.  She shares her Fort Collins, Colorado, home with a sometime mad scientist and various cats. Any violations of the laws of physics in her books are the fault of the cats, not the mad scientist.

How would you describe your series in one sentence?

In my science fiction romance Central Galactic Concordance series, peace has reined for 200 years, but an all-powerful government agency, above-the-law corporations, and evolutionary change are about to bring about the old curse, “May you live in interesting times.” Come along for the ride!

What inspired you to write your story/characters/theme?

A Big Damn Story Arc took over my brain one summer and wouldn’t let me go. The resident Mad Scientist, my significant other, was convinced my computer had enslaved me, but he was kind enough to feed me regularly anyway. I wrote the story arc and the universe to go with it. If I’m calculating correctly, it’ll need nine(!) books to complete, which should keep me off the streets and out of the karaoke bars for the next few years.

Which authors have influenced you?

I’m undoubtedly the product of a dozen influences, but I’ll name two. Lindsay Buroker’s Emperor’s Edge fantasy series showed me how to handle a recurring cast of characters and make them fun and interesting, while tracking a bigger plot. Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling series showed me the power of romance in giving added emotional weight to an overarching plot. Both series deal with major societal change, which is what my aforementioned Big Damn Story Arc is all about.

Which are your favorite literary genres?

Science fiction is my home base, but I also love fantasy, paranormal, mystery, action-adventure, and suspense. My muse is similarly inclined.

What makes a book/story special for you?

I’m mostly likely to cherish and re-read the stories where everything works together — the characters, the plot, the logic, the pacing, and the emotional arc. It’s a simple and as difficult as that. The books I remember are usually later in a series, where long-running story lines pay off, or where justice is finally delivered, or the main characters finally find love and happiness.

Where do you live? Did your hometown/country/culture influenced your story?

I share my Fort Collins, Colorado home with the resident mad scientist and various helpful cats, and have mostly lived in the western half of the U.S. It’s inevitable that my culture has influenced my stories, but half the fun of science fiction is imagining how things will change. In my series, humans haven’t run across any intelligent life, so they’ve been free to expand across the galaxy and terraform any compatible planets they like. Cultures have blended, but my characters speak a multiple languages and have a variety of cultural experiences.

How long you needed for writing this book/for your first draft/ for your revision/editing process?

The first novel, Overload Flux, took about 13 mos. from first draft to having a manuscript ready to publish. The second novel, Minder Rising, took about 7 mos., in part because it’s a little shorter, and in part because I learned a lot writing the first book. The novella I published in September,Zero Flux (a sequel to Overload Flux) took about 3 mos., mostly because I had to keep wrestling with it so it would stay short—my muse loves big plots.

Did you hire a cover artist/editor/proofreader?

Yes, I hired both editors and cover artists. I also have a cadre of brave beta readers who find the obvious typos and plot holes, so when I send the manuscript to the editor (the estimable Shelley Holloway), she can work her magic. As to covers, I absolutely love fully illustrated covers (as opposed to photo manipulation), so I hired the very talented Stephen Bryant at SRB Productions. I wanted my covers to communication the genre, and to have flavors of space opera movie posters, and he delivered. Hiring professionals is a good business decision, since I’m competing with other books that have been through the same process, but it’s also a matter of pride—I want my books to look and read their best.

What have you learned while writing and publishing? Did unexpected things happened?

I’ve learned there is no one, right way to do things, and that anyone who tells you they know how the publishing business will change in the next few years is selling something. Traditional publishers aren’t interested in my books, because they don’t think science fiction romance is profitable. If I wrote another, more “marketable” series, I’d listen to a traditional publisher’s offer, but I’d want a very close look at what they’d be doing in exchange for the huge percentage of royalties and tying up the rights for years on end. I like being in charge of my own destiny, wherein I pay for the mistakes but I profit from doing what’s right for my readers.

What helped you to get inspired and overcome hurdles along the writing of your book?

The aforementioned Big Damn Story Arc was so wonderful, it made me want to read the books. Since the cats categorically refused to write them, the task fell to me.

What would you do differently on a next project?

With each book I write, I learn new things, from what tools to use or how to motivate myself to write, to release timing, to crafting the best possible blurb. I take those lessons learned an apply them forward, so I get better with each project.

Best piece (s) of advice for first time writers?

Write. You can’t edit what you don’t write, and you can’t sell what you don’t write. It doesn’t have to be good, or  usable , or even saleable, but it all starts with getting it out of your head and into words on the screen or page. Free bonus advice: Treat your writing as a business from day one, not an art or a hobby. It’ll make future decisions more obvious, and make it easier to weather the slings and arrows of snarky reviews.

Where can readers contact you in the internet? Do you have a blog/website?

Website: http://Author.CarolVanNatta.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CarolVanNattaAuthor

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3980825.Carol_Van_Natta

Blog: http://author.carolvannatta.com/blog/

What are you planning to write/publish next?

My work in progress is Pico’s Crush, book 3 in the CGC series. It closes off a mini-arc of character and plot, and leads to the next book in the series.Pico’s Crush involves combat robots, sabotage, mercenaries and jack crews, and killer academic politics, and should be out in January 2016. After that, I might try a serial format for book 4.

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