Monthly Archives: January 2014

“What are you reading” Wednesdays: Why I love book series

In the past couple of months, I’ve discovered how passionate people are about reading. It’s suddenly cool to read. There are memes on Facebook that talk about people’s obsession with reading. I’ve discovered I’m not alone in my feeling of abibliophobia (the fear of running out of books to read) although I admit that right now my “to read” shelf is quite large. This weekend, I attended a wonderful workshop that proved something I’ve always known to be true in my personal life, but now someone has done much research to prove it: people love series.

Growing up, I latched onto book series. I loved the continuity of the characters’ lives and the returning to the same setting. From Trixie Belden to the Happy Hollisters, if it was a book series, I loved it. I was rather envious of a fifth grade classmate whose mother had kept all of her Cherry Ames’ books as our school library only stocked one of them. If there was more than one book in a series, I read it. I loved The Borrowers. I liked Nancy Drew but always returned to her much cooler counterpart, Trixie.

Guess what? I still love book series. If I find a series I love, I devour every book I can find (which now thanks to ebooks and the such is pretty easy). If it’s at the library, I especially love it.

There are series I’ve read for a long time. I love mysteries, romances, and nonfiction books. Carolyn Hart is one of my favorite mystery writers, hands down, no question. This woman is an absolute genius. I had the privilege of attending one of her book signings many years ago, and she was gracious and warm. She spent time with the small crowd, answering questions truthfully and diligently. That only added points in my book to want to read even more of her books. If there is a new Death on Demand book, I’m reserving it at my local library. I’ve read all of her Henrie O. series and I’ve read her Bailey Ruth series. There’s something, though, about the Death on Demand series that I always love. Annie and Max are a great combination, and her supporting characters are wonderfully alive, from the kooky and loving Laurel to the imperious and sharp Emma.

Last year at RWA, I had the privilege of receiving an autographed book from Jill Shalvis. I had never read any of her books before. I came home and devoured the first three Lucky Harbor series books. Maddie and Jax’s story is my favorite although I can relate to the Southern belle Tara and like her story with Ford. Any author who includes a reference to Ingrid Bergman is an author I want to read. I can’t wait to read more of the series.

The number of books that I have read that are part of series far outweigh the stand alone books I’ve read lately. If I see a Mrs. Murphy book by Rita Mae Brown, I’m at the checkout desk with it. If J. B. Stanley has a new James Henry/Supper Club book, it’s on my Kindle. I’m also at the checkout desk with the latest Fools Gold book by Susan Mallery. Just to name a few.

But why? Why do I keep returning to series? I think it’s like reconnecting with an old friend on Facebook. It’s finding out that the character is still vibrant and still is interesting enough to have another story to tell. It’s finding out that the author creates a persona that I want to read and in whom I invest time and energy getting to know. It’s also why television filled a niche that movies valiantly tried to fill with such classics as The Thin Man series (those wonderful movies with William Powell and Myrna Loy) but couldn’t because it takes so long to film a motion picture. People love their favorite characters in television shows and readers love their favorite characters to return either as a main character again or even a supporting one.

So this year I look forward to returning to some favorite places in books, but I’m also appreciative of authors who spin good stories without series as well. What about you? Do you love series? What series do you read and love? Let me know.

Family Friday: Eleven Hugs and Kisses

Eleven hugs and kisses. Whenever I leave my home to go somewhere else to write, my youngest son, Chunk, asks for eleven kisses and eleven hugs. His four year old self stands there while I bend down and deliver a kiss and a hug, a kiss and a hug, and so on until I reach the number of eleven. He makes me count out loud in case you think that I might be able to get away with only five or even ten. As soon as I reach eleven, he runs off, secure in the knowledge I will come home and give him more hugs and kisses.

My family is a little unusual in that I have a wide age gap between each child. Kath turned 16 this week, MJ is 10, and Cupcake and Chunk are twin 4 year olds. When Kath and MJ were younger, I stayed at home with them and enjoyed it. I volunteered at school, went on field trips and picked them up from school. Now I am attempting to launch a writing career. On days when my wonderful hubby is off from work, I head to a library or a restaurant or anywhere I can go to try to write without kids coming into my room with a little office in the corner and asking questions. Life is different now. Cupcake and Chunk are growing up with a mom who writes. As a result, they make sure I kiss them and hug them before I go write. It’s a new experience: going off to work and leaving them at home (with my wonderful hubby who is also a wonderful father).

Of course all of this makes me think about how each of my children is different in terms of affection. Kath, my oldest, dictates the terms of affection. She gives out lots of hugs and kisses but on her own terms in her own time. MJ, the middle child, loves to cuddle. For a long time, he was the baby of the family and we had lots of time to cuddle and read books together. Now he scoots into a cuddle, having figured out that sometimes he just has to assert himself and dive right into a hug. Cupcake, the older twin, likes to cuddle in the morning and asks for Cupcake Cuddles. Chunk, the younger twin, spreads out affection through the whole day and puts his whole body into a hug.

I don’t mind giving Chunk the eleven hugs and kisses because being the mom of a teenager, I know how quickly the years pass and that soon enough, he won’t be asking for the eleven hugs and kisses anymore, but for now, I like knowing that we are starting a little ritual. I’ll let you in on a little secret: those eleven hugs and kisses help me get through my workday a little faster and a whole lot sweeter.

Do your kids have any goodbye rituals before you leave for work?

“What am I reading” Wednesdays: Happy New Year

Happy New Year! It’s a brand new year. Every year I get excited at the thought of all the books I am going to read in the upcoming year. I know that may sound a little weird. Most people probably dream of all the places they will visit or think of all the fun times they will have this year. Instead, I think about what books I’m going to read.

I’ve always surrounded myself with books. It’s natural for me to always be reading one book and think ahead to the next book I want to read. I separate the different stages of my youth by what I was reading: Dr. Seuss as a preschooler, Trixie Belden as an elementary school student, Anne of Green Gables as a middle school student and so on.

This year, I’m trying something new: reading challenges. This year I’m determined to read more and surf the internet less. I’ve started by picking out the first two books on my New Year’s reading list: All They Need by Sarah Mayberry and Ain’t Misbehaving by Molly Cannon.

Last year at the national RWA conference, I attended a seminar on Emotional Resonance delivered by Tanya Michaels. She named several writers throughout her talk, one of whom was Sarah Mayberry. I downloaded two of Ms. Mayberry’s books on my Kindle following the speech. I read the first last year and loved how Ms. Mayberry molded her characters into realistic people who could live next door. Both the hero and heroine impressed me because they had faults as well as strengths. So I picked out the second book that I had downloaded to be one of my first reads of the year. On the dear reader page, I discovered it was one of the two sequels she had written so I found a copy of the first one because I like to read books in order whenever possible. Tonight I started All I Need, the story of Mel and Flynn. So far it’s very good, and once again, Ms. Mayberry does an excellent job in entwining the reader into the lives of the characters, people you want to get to know and meet in real life.

I’ll let you know if it continues its present form of being a really good read. I especially love that it’s set in Australia, as Ms. Mayberry herself is from Australia. I have a particular fascination with Australia and New Zealand, two very beautiful and scenic countries.

So far, so good. The first book of this year is an enjoyable read. I’m hoping it’s a good sign for this year as well. May your new year be filled with good books and good goals. Happy reading.

What books are you excited about reading this year?