Monday, July 20, 2009

Serial Lovin': Keeping Series Straight - Win The Sexiest Man Alive!

Cheeky Reader Marissa posted a great question last week: If a book is part of a series, why would I read them out of order? This question kept popping up in my head, so I thought it would make a great blog post.

Marissa's question was in reference to my review of Hard and Fast by Erin McCarthy since it’s the second book in Erin's Contemporary series about NASCAR drivers. So why did I read that book first? Well, in that instance, it was because I was in the mood for a contemporary, went to the bookshelf, and this book seemed to fit the bill. I completely spaced on this being part of a series, and I even have the first book on my shelf to read too! Both of these books, like most contemps, are stand alone books that share characters. So, even though they are linked, it's not 100% necessary to read them in order to enjoy them!

One thing I find very interesting – Why don't contemporaries do a better job of connecting books in a series? Yes, each book is a complete story in its own right, but very few of them bother to mention on the cover or back blurb that this isn't the first or only book with these characters involved.

Paranormals, Urban Fantasies and even mysteries, usually play up the connection between books on the cover. You'll often see “Book 5 of the xxx series” or “A xxx Mystery” right on the front cover. So why don't contemporaries do this more often? What is it about that particular genre?

In thinking about the other times I've read a series out of order I think it’s because I'm a reader just like you! I browse bookstores to find new authors, and that doesn’t always mean I know if a book is part of a series before I pick it up. Impulse shopping when you work across the parking lot from a bookstore can make you try out all kinds of new books!

I've been introduced to many of my favorite authors not through their first book, but through whatever book I first discovered of theirs. I read book three in Kim Harrison's Rachel Morgan series without any clue that it was part of a series. What happened? I said, “Whoa! I need more!” That's when I discovered the first two books – now I'm first in line for every new release! I'm constantly buying an author's backlist once I'm introduced to their awesomeness!

There are of course those books or series I've heard about online, so I will start with the first in the series, but I'm a reader like any other – drawn to an individual book like a moth to a flame! Catch my eye with a shiny cover or whet my appetite with a great blurb, and even if I haven't heard about the book or author I'll give it a try.

Have you ever bought a book only to discover that its part of a series, or do you always research books before buying? If you have read a later book in a series, did it inspire you to go back and read the previous books? What do you think about loosely linked Contemporaries that don't mention the series on their cover?

Leave a comment and you'll be entered to win a copy of Sexiest Man Alive by Diana Holquist! Winner will be announced Friday July 24th! A big thank you to Marissa for the great question – Send your mailing address to cheekyreads(@) and I'll send you something special!


  1. This is funny because it's a running joke in our household that my MIL always gives us a book that is third, fourth or fifth in a series. With Kelley Armstrong, you can read out of sequence, but some books like J.D. Robb's series are just so much better when read in order. But yes,I have read out of order before

  2. A while ago (years) someone gave me one of Julia Quinn's Brigerton books and when I realized there were stories for all of the brothers and sisters I devoured her entire back list. As a rule, I don't research books before buying. Usually I see a blurb and/or excerpt I like and I just buy it and if it ends up being part of a series and i really enjoyed it, I'll buy part or most of the backlist. However, I get annoyed if a book is part of a series that shouldn't be read out of order and there's no mention of it on the cover.

  3. This has happened to me a few times. And usually it does not say on the cover that it is a series, which I don't like. If it's an author that I don't know I usually figure it out when it keeps referencing something that may have happened before. Generall I still finish the book and if I liked it and am curious about the others then I go online and find out more.
    I love it when authors list the series or group books that have common characters. There's nothing worse than trying to figure it out on your own, and no I don't usually go back and re-read the book I read out of order. Then again I very rarely re-read any book.
    I guess that is why I like when books that are linked can be read as a stand alone, then I don't feel so lost in the story. Would love to win Sexiest Man Alive, so count me in!

  4. Yes, this has happened to me several times. I hate to start a series in the middle. I have went back and bought books in a series when I read one and find out it is part of a series. I don't usually research the books I read. I just pick up books that sound good to me.

    Thank you for the giveaway.

  5. Yes I have done it on more than one occasion. I do appreciate that they list this on the front cover or atleast on the back somewhere.

    If I enjoyed the book I have went back and bought/tracked down the ones previously released in the series. Alot, as you said an actually be enjoyed as stand alones, but I like getting the full picture etc.

    thank you for the contest. hope you are having a good summer :)!!

    Pam S

  6. I have picked up a book and found out later it was a series. Then, usually, I go back and buy all the other ones I missed. As you said, a great way to find new authors. I discovered Sherrilyn Kenyon this way...and needless to say I own every one of her books. :)

  7. Yes, it has happend to me. Some publishers are great about announcing that a book is part of a series, and keep a list for you. I was able to start some Putney's series with a glance inside the cover of one of her more recent books. But, like Katie, I grabbed one of the later Bridgerton's only because I knew I liked Lost Duke of Windham and wanted another Quinn badly. I don't feel like I really lost anything starting at the back and reading them in a haphazard "found them in my used bookstore" way. As you said, many romance series can be read as standalones because there isn't that arc that goes through all the novels. I am reading James' Desperate Duchesses series in order, however, because there is much more connectivity.

    These days, I usually go in with a list in my hand. If I KNOW something is part of a series, I will hesitate to buy it if I don't know if it's the first one! I then make a note to check that author's website to make sure I add the first in the series to my list. I got lucky with the Bridgerton series, but I don't want to risk any spoilers in my future series reading!

  8. I picked up Karen Marie Moning's Dark Highlander, to discover it was the follow up book to Kiss of the it was a little odd to follow that story from a backwards angle. Harder to spot that since it wasn't actually a series - just 2 books that play off each other...several of her Higlander novels cross reference each other, but they are not quite as interconnected (is that a word? sure it is) as those 2.



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