The Pink Carnation Series by Lauren Willig
I don’t remember how I stumbled upon this series, perhaps it was my research with the history of early-19th century England that led me to this world… a kind of extension of the world established by the play “The Scarlet Pimpernel”. Historical romance (of the non-bodice ripping type) at the core, this series aligns fairly closely to historical events that indeed did happen although adjusted here and there for dramatic effect.
The summary of the first book of the series is as such:
Nothing ever goes right for Eloise. The day she wears her new suede boots, it rains. When the subway stops short, she’s the one thrown into some stranger’s lap. And she’s had her share of misfortune in the way of love. So, after deciding that romantic heroes must be a thing of the past, Eloise is ready for a fresh start.
Setting off for England, Eloise is determined to finish her dissertation on two spies, the Scarlet Pimpernel and the Purple Gentian. But what she discovers is something historians have missed: the secret history of the Pink Carnation-the most elusive spy of all time. As she works to unmask this obscure spy, Eloise has more and more questions. Like, how did the Pink Carnation save England from Napoleon? What became of the Scarlet Pimpernel and the Purple Gentian? And will Eloise Kelly escape her bad luck and find a living, breathing hero of her own?
When reading this series there was a distinct sensation that this particular series (of twelve books total) could be separated into three groups:
- Group 1: Books One thru Four – Wherein the characters and the environment is established creating a foundation for the remainder of the series while providing strong storylines for the characters.
- Group 2: Books Five thru Nine – The action moves away from England / Ireland and shifts towards other locales, predominantly in France and India.
- Group 3: Books Ten thru Twelve – Storylines move back to England and loose ends are tied up.
What really drives this series to me is that despite the natural romantic notion of the stories there is still so much more going on beyond the romance that I can’t help but be drawn in. Plus the author makes a point of adding reference notes so that one could read up on the historical texts that she uses when writing her stories, providing insight on why she moved historical events around for dramatic effect or how certain historical events worked in the storyline as a whole.
The Black Dagger Brotherhood by J R Ward
When I needed a new book series to sink my teeth into, trust a friend of mine to come forward with a couple of series to try out. Best described as a paranormal romance series, this deals with a hidden vampire society set to the backdrop of Caldwell, New York. The first six books of the series focus on The Brothers, a group of six male vampires whose purpose is to protect their vampire society from their enemies and humans.
From the glossary of the Black Dagger Brotherhood website:
Highly-trained vampire warriors who protect their species against the Lessening Society. As a result of selective breeding within the race, Brothers possess immense physical and mental strength as well as rapid healing capabilities. They are not siblings for the most part and are inducted into the Brotherhood upon nomination by the Brothers. Aggressive, self-reliant and secretive by nature, they exist apart from civilians, having little contact with members of the other classes except when they need to feed. They are the subject of legend and the object of reverence within the vampire world.
For more information about the Black Dagger Brotherhood visit the fansite: Beyond the Mhis or read up on the BDB Cheat Sheet via Book Thingo. Both of the fansites are extremely comprehensive and would provide more than enough information in understanding not only the characters in the series but the background and mythology that the series revolves around. Keep in mind that spoilers will be found.
The Parasol Protectorate by Gail Carriger
Another paranormal romance series it’s set in the 1880s with a steampunk twist. This finite five book series revolve around a strong female heroine in the form of Alexia Tarabotti whose best friend is flaming vampire Lord Akeldama who (somehow) knows everything about everyone and every rumor in London. She is also friends with a very Scottish and gruff Lord Conall Maccon, a werewolf… and yes there is an uneasy peace between the vampire society and the werewolf society in London who has found a way to integrate the paranormal into the “normal”.
What I really love about reading Gail Carriger’s blog is that she goes into more detail about the characters she has created and the world that her characters were immersed in.
My personal opinions and thoughts of the books:
– Book 1: Soulless
– Book 2: Changeless
– Book 3: Blameless
– Book 4: Heartless
– Book 5: Timeless
The Final Dance aka The Dancers Series by Christie Golden
A currently incomplete fantasy book series that I actually love and enjoy. It is a pity that Luna did not wish to continue this very well written series. It has been a while since I have read the series, only the first two books of the series are in print while the third book of the series is available in e-book format. The final two books in the series have not been released because Luna Publishing chose to discontinue the series.
The Dancers Series revolve around five persons, each one the personification of the five elements: fire, stone, sea, wind and soul. The story goes that The Dancers are given five chances to save the five varying universes from a growing evil. If they fail to save at least three of the five universes then the evil will take over all five universes, else if they were successful in saving at least three of the five universes then the evil will only take over those they fail to save and would leave the others. When the series began they have lost two universes and successfully saved two universes now with the final universe hanging on the balance. After the determination of the finality of each universe The Dancers are reincarnated into the new universe and process begins again…
Fables, Jack of Fables, The Literals and Fairest created by Bill Willingham (via Vertigo)
For anyone that really enjoys fairytales and nursery rhymes and are open minded to the seeing them in a new light would really pick up this series. Taking many of the beloved fairytale characters and re-imaging them while staying true to their roots (roots as in the original Grimm stories and those from Hans Christian Anderson, etc… none of the Disnified versions).
The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
Being a huge fan of Battle Royale created in Japan, I was skeptical of this series until I came to the conclusion that there is enough basic concepts and ideas that really two totally unrelated series could have similar premises. In some ways a classic rags-to-riches and rebels against the government mentality I did find myself drawn to the series in some capacity.
Written in the voice of 16 years old Katniss Everdeen, the series is set in a post-apocalyptic world where the countries of North America was combined to be known as Panem all run by a singular government called: The Capitol. In remembrance of The Capitol’s defeat over the rebellious districts in the last great war, The Capitol holds The Hunger Games, an annual event in which each of the twelve districts were forced to select via a lottery one boy and one girl ages 12 to 18 to compete in a televised battle to the death until one person is alive.
The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J R R Tolkien
Yes, I know that this is dry read. Yes, I know that this tends to come off more as a reference reading as opposed to a story, but I love it. I have this attraction to series that have such well thought out and deep mythologies where you know there are millions upon millions of stories that are just begging to be written. Tolkien is very much like that, where you know that there are millions of stories just waiting to be revealed. Unfortunately much of those writings are in half works and references and notes as compiled by his son. In fact my favorite book of the collection is from the beginning: The Silmarillion.
Because this is an older series there is naturally a lot of information out there including:
– The Encyclopedia of Arda
– The Lord of the Rings Wikia
– The One Ring fansite
Harry Potter series by J K Rowling
The fantasy series that took over the world and got a new generation of kids to read again. The series revolved around a young boy who finds out that he is a wizard and he (as well as the reader) are drawn to the invisible world of magic. There really isn’t much more to say about that, because the world is so vast J K Rowling partnered with Sony to create Pottermore to give lovers of the series a new way to appreciate the series and learn more about the mythology and background. When you are getting sorted by the Sorting Hat if you’re not sorted into Gryffindor you learn more about the history of whichever house you happen to find yourself in. Unfortunately I didn’t get such luck as I was sorted into Gryffindor which I found rather odd all things considered, but what can you do?
Jane Austen related fiction
With all the fantasy and science fiction series that I seem to follow this author and her stories could actually be an outlier of sorts. However, I remember when I read Sense & Sensibility for the first time and fell in love, somehow the heroes were too good to be true and they still are. With fansites with constant discussions and articles about anything and everything to deal with the life of Jane Austen and her works called Pemberley (yes, based off of the family home of Mr Darcy from Pride & Prejudice) and quite aptly Jane Austen’s World.
Over the years there have been many books that attempt to build off of the original works or re-imagine them into the modern age, many of these writers of the former are known as the Crown Hill Writers. There are others still that rewrote the books into the point-of-view of the heroes of the series, one of the most popular being the Heroes of Jane Austen’s Diaries by Amanda Grange
One book series that I rather enjoy is the Mr and Mrs Darcy Mystery Series by Carrie Bebris. This should come as no surprise since I enjoy a fantasy series… so a mystery series wouldn’t be that far off the mark.
Of course, like any other well known author, there is a website dedicated to anything and everything dealing with Jane Austen known as the AustenBlog: There’s No Crying in Janeball. But if you are a Janeite you best head on over to the Jane Austen Society of North America and peruse around and consider joining up the group to understand more of the life and stories of Jane Austen.