Sunday, August 21, 2016

Keep Up with Book Series (Part 6)

So, after working through the R's in my alphabetical index of authors whose books I have reviewed, I find that I have a bookmark somewhere in almost 250 different series of books. Will I make it to the end of the alphabet before I break the internet?

| S |

Rafael Sabatini
  • Captain Blood series: I haven't read the two sequels, Captain Blood Returns and The Fortunes of Captain Blood. I may also try to catch Scaramouche (which also has a sequel) and The Sea Hawk, among other books by this prolific author.

E. Rose Sabin
  • Arucadi series: I've only read the first two of these four books. Books 3 and 4 are When the Beast Ravens and Bryte's Ascent. There is also a two-book spinoff series comprising Mistress of the Wind and A Mix of Magics.

Angie Sage
  • Septimus Heap series: I have read five of these seven books, which leaves Darke and Fyre, plus the novella The Darke Toad. There is also a spinoff trilogy called "Todhunter Moon."

Brandon Sanderson
  • Elantris series: I have yet to read Book 2, The Emperor's Soul. I'm also hoping there will be sequels to The Rithmatist, and I am interested in trying a lot of this author's other series.

Kevin Sands
  • Blackthorn Key series: I have yet to read Book 2, The Mark of the Plague.

Michael Scott
  • "Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel" series: I have only read the first book, The Alchemyst. There are at least five more, starting with The Magicia.

George Selden
  • Sequels to The Cricket in Times Square: Yes, I know there are several more of them. I'm not on fire to complete the set, but I believe my next installment would be Chester Cricket's Pigeon Ride.

Darren Shan
  • Saga of Darren Shan: I still have 5 of the 12 books to catch up. Next in canon order is Allies of the Night.

Delia Sherman
  • Changeling series: I have yet to read Book 2, The Magic Mirror of the Mermaid Queen. I am also interested in some of her other work, such as The Great Detective and The Evil Wizard Smallbone.

Mike Shevdon
  • Courts of the Feyre series: I have yet to read Books 3 and 4, Strangeness and Charm and The Eighth Court.

Polly Shulman
  • Grimm Legacy series: I have yet to read Book 3, The Poe Estate.

Neal Shüsterman
  • Antsy Bonano series: I have yet to read Book 3, Ship Out of Luck. There are a lot of other titles by this author that I would like to try.

Alan Silberberg
  • Milo series: I have yet to read Book 2, Milo and the Restart Button.

Matthew Skelton
  • No particular series: I'm just interested in his other book to-date, The Story of Cirrus Flux.

Obert Skye
  • Leven Thumps series: I have read only the first two of these five books. I already own a copy of Book 3, Leven Thumps and the Eyes of the Want.
  • Pillage trilogy: Next up for me is Book 3, Ambush.

Alexander McCall Smith
  • No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series: I'm 13 books into this 17-ish-book series. Next up are a novella The Cleverness of Ladies and Book 14, The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon.
  • Isabel Dalhousie series: There are currently 10 books in this series, plus a couple of novellas; I have read the first four. Next up or me is The Comforts of a Muddy Saturday.
  • 44 Scotland Street series: I have read only the first of this (currently) 11-book series. Book 2 is Espresso Tales.

Clete Barrett Smith
  • Intergalactic Bed and Breakfast series: I have yet to read Book 3, Aliens in Disguise. His stand-alone book Magic Delivery might also be fun to try.

Roland Smith
  • Cryptids series: I have yet to read Books 3 and 4, Chupacabra and Mutation.

Sherwood Smith
  • Inda quartet: I read the first two books, and I own Book 3, The King's Shield. I'm not sure, but I might also have a copy of Book 4, Treason's Shore.

Lemony Snicket
  • No particular series: I notice he (or rather, Daniel Handler) has written a number of interesting titles since ending A Series of Unfortunate Events. I might look in on them.

Alan Snow
  • Ratbridge series: I have read only one book (Here Be Monsters!) of the trilogy that inspired the animated movie The Boxtrolls. Books 2 and 3 are Worse Things Happen at Sea! and Thar She Blows!.

Zilpha Keatley Snyder
  • Game series. I have a copy of The Gypsy Game, which is the sequel to The Egypt Game, as well as one or two other books by this prolific author, many of whose titles interest me.

Justin Somper
  • Vampirates series. I have only read the first of this six- or seven-book series. Next up for me is Tide of Terror.

Elizabeth George Speare
  • No particular series. I just happen to have a bookmark in a copy of The Bronze Bow, somewhere in my library.

Jerry Spinelli
  • It seems Stargirl has a sequel, titled Love, Stargirl.

Michael A. Stackpole
  • Age of Discovery trilogy. I decided after reading A Secret Atlas never to read another book by this author, for approximately the same reasons I never read a second book by Terry Goodkind. Just for informational purposes, Books 2 and 3 are Cartomancy and The New World.

John Stephens
  • Books of Beginning trilogy: I have yet to read Books 2 and 3, The Fire Chronicle and The Black Reckoning. I'm glad I stuck with doing this, because I had forgotten all about this series; now that I've refreshed my memory, I want to follow it again.

Robert Louis Stevenson
  • David Balfour series: There's a sequel to Kidnapped; it's called Catriona, and I think I have it on Kindle somewhere. It took me ages to find it; you'd think I would have read it by now!

Caroline Stevermer
  • Cecelia and Kate trilogy (co-authored by Patricia C. Wrede): This is one of those series I've wanted to read for years, but could never find Book 1 (Sorcery and Cecelia). I already have a copy of Book 2, The Grand Tour. Another book by this author I would like to read is Magic Below Stairs.

Mary Stewart
  • Arthurian Saga: I'm up to Book 4, The Wicked Day, and I own a copy of it.

Paul Stewart & Chris Riddell
  • Edge Chronicles: I only read the first three books of what now number at least 12. Next up for me is The Curse of the Gloamglozer.

Trenton Lee Stewart
  • Mysterious Benedict Society trilogy: I have yet to read Book 3, The Prisoner's Dilemma. As with a lot of other popular series, there are also add-ons that might be interesting, such as The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict.

Gillian Summers
  • Faire Folk quartet: I have read the first two books. Books 3 and 4 are The Secret of the Dread Forest and Queen of the Faire.

Shanna Swendson
  • Katie Chandler series: I read the first two of these seven books. Up next for me is Damsel Under Stress. I would also be interested in looking at her Rebel Mechanics series.

| T |

Cecilia Tan
  • Magic University quartet: I read the first book in this erotic fantasy series (I had reasons!), but I'm not very interested in continuing with it. If I did, the next book for me would be The Tower and the Tears.

G.P. Taylor
  • Mariah Mundi trilogy: I have yet to read Books 2 and 3, The Ghost Diamonds and The Ship of Fools.

Mildred Taylor
  • Logan Family Saga: Almost everything this author wrote is part of this series, including her two books that I have read. Of the remaining six books in the series, the next up for me would be Let the Circle Be Unbroken.

Patrick Taylor
  • Irish Country series: I have read five of the first seven books in this 11-plus-book series. I missed Books 5 and 6, An Irish Country Courtship and A Dublin Student Doctor.

Kathleen Tierney
  • Siobhan Quinn trilogy: I doubt I will ever go farther than Book 1 (Blood Oranges), but for what it's worth, Books 2 and 3 are Red Delicious and Cherry Bomb.

Stephanie Tolan
  • Applewhites series: I only now learned there is a sequel to Surviving the Applewhites, titled The Applewhites at Wit's End.

Roderick Townley
  • Sylvie Cycle trilogy: I think I have owned Book 3, The Constellation of Sylvie, for several years but never got around to reading it. I should probably admit that I have a problem dealing with the ends of trilogies.

Anthony Trollope
  • Barsetshire Chronicles: I have Book 1 The Warden on Kindle, and I was reading it at some point. One of those points, no doubt, when I was trying to read 20 things at once.

| The rest of the alphabet |

Anne Ursu
  • Cronus Chronicles trilogy: I have had Book 3, The Immortal Fire, on my self for years. See "my problem dealing with endings of trilogies." While I'm here, I'd like to leave myself a reminder to look at Ursu's other titles, including Spilling Clarence, The Disapparation of James, Breadcrumbs, and The Real Boy.

Vivian Vande Velde
  • User Unfriendly series: When I read Heir Apparent, I was either unaware or unconcerned that it was the middle book of a trilogy, the other two books of which are User Unfriendly and Deadly Pink. This author also has a long list of stand-alone titles that interest me.

Cynthia Voigt
  • Tillerman Family series: Of these six books, I have only read the first three. I also have Book 4 on my shelf: The Runner. I would also like to try some of Voigt's other series, such as the Mister Max trilogy.

John Vornholt
  • Troll King trilogy: This has been another one of my most frustrating trilogy-collecting fiascoes. I've read Book 1 (Troll King), I own Book 3 (Troll Treasure), but for the life of me, I can't find a reasonably-priced copy of Book 2 (Troll Queen). So, I'm stuck for now.

Scott Westerfeld
  • Leviathan trilogy: I have yet to read Book 3, Goliath.

Donald Westlake
  • Dortmunder series: Although my omnibus review of this 14-book series was based on reading about half of its books at random and trying to remember them years later, I would always welcome a chance to read any of the ones I missed. In fact, I would enjoy almost any Westlake title, any time. I'll just drop a link to the list of Westlake's books here and call it an all-purpose gift-registry.

Ysabeau S. Wilce
  • Flora trilogy: I have yet to read Book 3, Flora's Fury.

F. Paul Wilson
  • Repairman Jack series: I read the first six books of this 15-something-book series - it's hard to get a precise count, because it crosses over with Wilson's Adversary Cycle - then, because it was there (at the library) and the intervening books weren't, I skipped to book 15. What a mistake! The series ended on a downer. I might be too depressed about it to read Books 7-14, but if I recover enough, my next book will hopefully be Gateways.

N.D. Wilson
  • Well, I'm actually caught up for the moment with those series by this author that I have been following, though I think more Ashtown Burials books should be expected in the future. I'm interested in Wilson's other books, including his debut novel Leepike Ridge and the new "Legend of Sam Miracle" series, starting with Outlaws of Time.

Jeanette Winterson
  • No particular series - I just think The Battle of the Sun looks good.

P.G. Wodehouse
  • Jeeves and Wooster series, etc.: The issue of which books I need to read to catch up on my Wodehouse is so complex and would require so much difficult research at this point that all I can say is, "There's a lot more of this that I could stand to read." And I've heard good things about his Psmith books, too. Unfortunately, I've lost touch with whatever website it was that I used to find very helpful and informative about navigating the Wodehouse canon. Oh, well!

Gene Wolfe
  • Long Sun series: This is another author who likes to make it tricky to slice and dice his body of work, but I believe the book in my possession, Epiphany of the Long Sun, is exactly the omnibus volume of Calde of the Long Sun and Exodus from the Long Sun that I need to finish this massive tome. And to think I got myself into this simply by falling in love with the opening sentence of Book 1.

Patricia C. Wrede
  • Again, I'm actually caught up on the series by this author that I was following, but I am interested in her Mairelon and Frontier Magic books.

Rick Yancey
  • Alfred Kropp trilogy: Book 3 is The Thirteenth Skull.
  • Monstrumologist series: Books 3 and 4 are The Isle of Blood and The Final Descent.
By the way, I am no more interested in Yancey's "5th Wave" series than in Suzanne Collins' "Hunger Games" series. Judging by the movie franchises both films produce, they are already doing fine without any endorsement from me. It's not that I take credit for the success of any series I have promoted, but I can't interest myself in everything. I know, it's hilarious for me to say it at this point, but I've got to draw the line somewhere. Also, I started reading the Twilight series because my readers pestered me non-stop about it, and then it became a pop-culture movie phenomenon that imploded so violently on every level that it started me thinking weird thoughts like, "If they're making a big-budget movie out of a Y.A. book, it must be terrible."
Jane Yolen
  • Pit Dragon series: I thought this trilogy was over, but now I learn a fourth book, Dragon's Heart, was added in 2009 - over 20 years after the original trilogy wrapped up.
  • Rock'n'Roll Fairy Tale (co-authored by Adam Stemple): I actually missed Book 1 of this two-book series, Pay the Piper.

Mary Frances Zambreno
  • Jermyn Graves series: I never got around to reading Book 2, Journeyman Wizard.

So what's the total? I didn't count exactly, but I reckon it's in the neighborhood of 310. Definitely more than 300. I am somewhere between the first and last book of more than 300 series of books. I have that many To Be Continueds hanging over my head. God help me!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Keep Up with Book Series (Part 5)

As I continue trying to figure out how many series of books I am in the middle of reading, my current estimate stands at approximately 210 after reaching the letter N in my alphabetical list of authors by last name. Could there be a huge bias toward the front half of the alphabet? Could the final total be somewhere close? Let's see about that!

| O |

Nick O'Donohoe
  • Crossroads trilogy: Book 3, The Healing of Crossroads, has my bookmark in it. I started to read it a while ago, but something shiny must have caught my eye. I'll get back to it by and by. I would also like to try O'Donohoe's "Gnomewrench" series, starting with The Gnomewrench in the Dwarfworks.

Kenneth Oppel
  • Silverwing series: I somehow missed Book 4, Darkwing.
  • Matt Cruse series: I own, but haven't yet read, Book 3: Starclimber.

Baroness Orczy
  • Sequels to The Scarlet Pimpernel: There are loads of them, in case I ever feel a leaning to explore them. The immediate successor to the popular original is I Will Repay.

James A. Owen
  • Imaginarium Geographica series: I never made it farther than Book 1, but there are seven books in this series, and Book 2 is The Search for the Red Dragon.

Panama Oxridge
  • Tartan of Time series: I read Justin Thyme, but I have not yet read its sequel, Thyme Running Out.

| P |

Christopher Paolini
  • Inheritance quartet: Book 4 is Inheritance.

Gary Paulsen
  • Brian Robeson series: After Hatchet comes four sequels, which must involve some heavy continuity issues, unless the fault lies in my memory of how the first book ended. Several of the books have been published under multiple titles. Book 2 is therefore either The River or The Return.

Mervyn Peake
  • Gormenghast trilogy: Yes, I know. I haven't actually finished Gormenghast yet (that's Book 2, FYI). These things take time. Especially when you own an omnibus edition of the trilogy and you hate reading omnibus editions - like me. I found this out about myself too late to avoid the difficulty.

Dale Peck
  • Drift House series: Book 2 is The Lost Cities.

Richard Peck
  • Grandma Dowdel series: Book 3 is A Season of Gifts.
  • Here Lies the Librarian seems to be, on some level, a companion book to The Teacher's Funeral.

Alison Pensy
  • Custodian quartet: I'm up to Book 3, which is The Cypher Wheel.

Tamora Pierce
  • Immortals quartet: I have only read the first book, Wild Magic. Book 2 is Wolf Speaker.

Christopher Pike
  • Alosha trilogy: I am up to Book 2, The Shaktra, which I think is somewhere in my library.

Dudley Pope
  • Ramage series: Somehow, I missed the 18th and last book, Ramage and the Dido. Amazing!

Ellen Potter
  • Olivia Kidney series: I've read two books of this, but because the titles change from one edition to another, I have little confidence in my estimate that there are still two more books to go. I think one of them is Olivia Kidney and the Secret Beneath the City.

Terry Pratchett
  • Discworld series: I have yet to read the last two books of this 41-book super-series: Raising Steam and The Shepherd's Crown. I think I might have missed one or two others, such as I Shall Wear Midnight; and though I have a copy of the graphic novel The Last Hero, I've never read it all the way through. Me, falling down on the job!
  • Long Earth series (co-authored by Stephen Baxter): I only read the first book. Of the four sequels, the next up for me is The Long War.

Philip Pullman
  • Sally Lockhart quartet: I have read the first two books. Books 3 and 4, of which I own copies, are The Tiger in the Well and The Tin Princess.

| R |

T.R. Ragan
  • Lizzy Gardner series: Of the five books in this series, I missed Book 1 (Abducted) and read Books 2 and 3 (Dead Weight and A Dark Mind). The next book after them is Obsessed.

Robert Rankin
  • Eddie Bear series: The sequel to The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse is The Toyminator.

Arthur Ransome
  • Swallows and Amazons series: Of this 12-book series, I am up to Book 3: Peter Duck.

Douglas Reeman
  • Blackwoods saga: In this five-book series about the Royal Marines, I am up to Book 3: The Horizon. After this series, there's everything else he wrote, which is quite a bit. And in case you missed the memo, Reeman is the same person as Alexander Kent (see Part 4) - so, one ridiculously prolific writer.

Dietlof Reiche
  • Golden Hamster series: Out of five books, I have read the first three. That leaves The Haunting of Freddy and Freddy's Final Quest.

Michael Reisman
  • Simon Bloom trilogy: I have only read Book 1. That leaves The Octopus Effect and The Order of Chaos.

Mike Resnick
  • Weird West series: I am gobsmacked by how many books this guy has written. Take a look! As for this series, I somehow managed to read only Book 3 of 4. It's time to go back and read Book 1, The Buntline Special.

Adam Rex
  • Smek "smeries": The sequel to The True Meaning of Smekday (basis for the animated film Home) is Smek for President! I may also try his "Cold Cereal" trilogy.

Anne Rice
  • Vampire Chronicles: No, thanks. I'm so over that series - though if I had to choose between it and "Twilight," Book 5 of 12-ish Memnoch the Devil is next up for me.

Kat Richardson
  • Greywalker series: I have read seven of the nine books. That leaves Possession and Revenant.

Ransom Riggs
  • Miss Peregrine series: I only read the first book. That leaves Hollow City, Library of Souls, and the story collection Tales of the Peculiar.

Rick Riordan
  • Heroes of Olympus series: I only read the first book of five. The next book for me will be The Son of Neptune. I may also try to fit in Riordan's "Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard" and "Trials of Apollo" series. Also, Percy Jackson's Greek Gods looks like a really fun re-telling of ancient myths.

John H. Ritter
  • I enjoyed The Boy Who Saved Baseball, but missed its prequel, The Desperado Who Stole Baseball.

J.K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter stuff: I haven't read the play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, nor have I kept up with the Potterverse e-books Rowling keeps putting out. It would be nice to see those published in a way cavemen like me could appreciate.

Laura Ruby
  • I've read The Wall and the Wing, but not its sequel, The Chaos King.

Marie Rutkoski
  • Kronos Chronicles: I have read Book 1 (The Cabinet of Wonders), but neither of its two sequels, The Celestial Globe and The Jewel of the Kaldrash.

Cynthia Rylant
  • No particular series: Holy cow. Have you seen how many books this lady has written? Look! I'm just saying. I have read her Newbery Medal book Missing May, and I may also read at least her Newbery Honor book A Fine White Dust.

Uff da. I don't think I'm going to make it through the rest of the alphabet tonight...

Keep Up with Book Series (Part 4)

How many series of books am I more or less following? After you see the final total, you'll never accuse me of slacking off just because my book reviews didn't keep up with your pet series. So far, my alphabetical review of authors' last names has turned up approximately 140 series that have moved on since the last installment that I read. And that only took me through the letter I on the list. To continue:

| J |

Brian Jacques
  • Redwall series: Lord, deliver me. I read 14 of these books about cute furry people living in a castle and fending off one vermin invasion after another. I got to the point where I couldn't read the next book, Triss, though it is still on my shelf. And now there are a total of 22 of them!
  • Castaways of the Flying Dutchman series: I read the original book, but not its two sequels: The Angel's Command and Voyage of Slaves.

Tove Jansson
  • Moomintroll series: I only missed the first book of the nine, clearly because it was the hardest to get. Its title is The Moomins and the Great Flood.

K.W. Jeter
  • Infernal Devices has a relatively recent sequel, Fiendish Schemes.

Catherine Jinks
  • Actually, I'm all caught up on the series by this author that I had been following, but I've noticed at least one other that I would like to try: a trilogy (I think) whose numbers are How to Catch a Bogle, A Plague of Bogles, and The Last Bogler.

Jane Johson
  • Eidolon series: I missed the third installment, Dragon's Fire.

| K |

Karen Karbo
  • Minerva Clark trilogy: I have yet to read Book 3, Minerva Clark Gives Up the Ghost.

Carol Kendall
  • Minnipins series: The prequel to The Gammage Cup and The Whisper of Glocken, which I think I own but haven't read, is The Firelings.

Alexander Kent
  • Bolitho series: There are 29 volumes in this series of naval adventures! Unlike the Redwall series, this is fine with me. When I'm in the mood for historical fiction with a scent of salt air, I just can't get enough. Seriously. I've only read through No. 5 on this list. I would have read more, but I couldn't find them anywhere. I've got a couple of the volumes much farther down the list, but I really want to read them in order. Command a King's Ship is the next installment for me.

P.B. Kerr
  • Children of the Lamp series: I thought it ended after the fifth book, but I was wrong. Books 6 and 7 are The Five Fakirs of Faizabad and The Grave Robbers of Genghis Khan.

Kaza Kingsley
  • Erec Rex series: I have read only two of the six. I think I have Book 3 on my shelf, titled The Search for Truth.

Dean Koontz
  • Odd Thomas series: I missed not only the last book in this oddly-numbered series (Saint Odd), but also a prequel novella, You Are Destined to Be Together Forever.

Caleb Krisp
  • Ivy Pocket trilogy: Book 2 is Somebody Stop Ivy Pocket.

Robert Kroese
  • Mercury series: In spite of being an Facebook follower of this guy, I've only finished reading one of his books so far. It was a lot of fun. Meantime, he has written six more books in this series, including Mercury Falls, Mercury Rises, Mercury Rests, Mercury Revolts, Mercury Shrugs, and prequels Mercury Swings and Mercury Begins. In other titles, I have The Force Is Middling in This One somewhere in my Kindle, mostly finished. My long-term reading list also includes a bunch of his other books, including the Land of Dis, Rex Nihil, and Big Sheep series.

| L |

R.L. LaFevers
  • Theodosia series: I have enjoyed the first two books in this series, but there are two more already: Theodosia and the Eyes of Horus and Theodosia and the Last Pharaoh. I am also interested in trying the "Nathan Fludd, Beastologist" series, starting with The Flight of the Phoenix.

Selma Lagerlöf
  • Nils series: The sequel to The Wonderful Adventures of Nils is, duh, The Further Adventures of Nils. I'm pretty sure I own a copy of it.

A.J. Lake
  • Darkest Age series: I have yet to read Book 3, The Circle of Stone.

Katherine Langrish
  • Troll trilogy: I have yet to read Book 3, Troll Blood.

Justine Larbalestier
  • Magic or Madness trilogy: I think I own, but haven't yet read, Book 3: Magic's Child.

M.A. Larson
  • Pennyroyal Academy series: I have only read the first book. Book 2 is The Shadow Cadets of Pennyroyal Academy.

Stieg Larsson
  • Millennium trilogy: I only read the first book. Books 2 and 3 are The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest.

Ingrid Law
  • Savvy trilogy: Book 3 is Switch.

Michael Lawrence
  • Withern Rise trilogy, a.k.a. Aldous Lexicon: I've read the first two books and have owned the third for some time. It's just a matter of getting around to reading The Underwood See. When I'm up for some magical, juvenile fun, I might go in for the 13- (or 15-) book Jiggy McCue series by the same author, with titles such as The Poltergoose, The Toilet of Doom, and The Iron, the Switch, and the Broom Cupboard.

Madeleine L'Engle
  • Time quintet: This series grew from a trilogy to a quartet, and ended up with five books, of which Book 5, An Acceptable Time, has been on my shelf for a while. I may need a little liquid courage to tackle it. My enthusiasm for L'Engle's books cooled a bit after I emerged from puberty. But if it ever comes back, I know she wrote several other interconnected series of books.

Harper Lee
  • Go Set a Watchman, the prequel to To Kill a Mockingbird, came out with more of a whimper than a bang last year. It was actually written (mostly) before the masterpiece across which it cast such a disappointing shadow. I may need to read it in spite of the bad buzz, just to satisfy myself. Still, it leaves me curious what Harper Lee did during her 55-year career as a celebrated author, between writing her second book and belatedly publishing the first. I guess it's an example of the saying that everyone has one great book in them.

Ursula K. Le Guin
  • Hainish series: It's tricky to number these books, but I think I'm four books short of being caught up with this cycle. The next book for me should be The Dispossessed.
  • Earthsea series: Again, I'm not sure, but I think I have yet to read four of these books, starting with Book 5: The Other Wind.

Jason Lethcoe
  • Bartholmew Piff series: I've only read one of the four books, leaving Wishful Thinking, Wishing Well, and Wish You Were Here. I may also be interested in trying his "Mysterious Mr. Spines" and "No Place Like Holmes" series.

Gail Carson Levine
  • Enchanted series: I've only read Ella Enchanted and one of its companion books, but the series continues with Fairest and Ever and goes onto include a prequel, The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre. Then there are still more fairy-tale-based books by the same author, filled with princesses and castles. I don't know how many more of them I can take. But I seem to recall enjoying the ones I read, while I was reading them.

C.S. Lewis
  • Space trilogy: While it would not be true to say I never finished reading concluding installment That Hideous Strength, the fact is, I was re-reading it to prepare for a book review when life as a parish pastor finally became impossible, and I resigned. The whole episode was so painful that it left a bad taste in my mouth for everything I was doing at the time, including reading this book. I've never felt like continuing it since then. Besides which, I wasn't liking it much at the time.

Josh Lieb
  • No particular series: I liked I'm a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to Be Your Class President. So far, the only other book by this author is Ratscalibur, but it looks promising.

Robert Liparulo
  • Dreamhouse Kings series: I only read the first book of this now six-book series. Book 2 is Watcher in the Woods.

Sam Llewellyn
  • Darlings series: I have not yet read Book 3, Desperado Darlings. I also wish there would be more Lyonesse books!

Hugh Lofting
  • Doctor Dolittle series: I have only read the first two of the 14 books in this series. If I were to continue reading them, my next installment would be Doctor Dolittle's Post Office. I believe I own a copy of the eighth book in the set, but it would take some collecting to reach the point where I would want to read it.

Lois Lowry
  • Giver quartet: I only read the original book, and I have a copy of Books 2 and 3, Gathering Blue and Messenger, somewhere in my library. Book 4 is Son. That must be a pain to look up in a web search.

David Lubar
  • Nathan Abercrombie, Accidental Zombie series: For some reason, I own Books 2 and 3, Dead Spy Guy and Goop Soup, but I have never yet wrapped my grubby fingers around Book 1, My Rotten Life. Typical. There are five books in all, but I won't read any of them until I can get hold of Book 1.

| M |

Jonathan Maberry
  • Benny Imura series: After Rot & Ruin come four more novels and two novellas. The next one for me is Dust & Decay.

D.J. MacHale
  • Pendragon series: I stalled in the middle of reading Book 7, The Quillan Games, and there are now three more after it. It isn't quite as dire a situation as with Triss by Brian Jacques or even That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis. More of a case of just not being in the mood. For like, 10 years.

Patricia MacLachlan
  • Sarah, Plain and Tall series: I read the first book because it was an award-winner. I cannot guarantee that I will ever read the other four, starting with Skylark.

Marianne Malone
  • Sixty-Eight Rooms series: I read only the first book of the four. Next in line is Stealing Magic.

Melina Marchetta
  • Lumatere trilogy: Book 3 is Quintana of Charyn.

Ari Marmell
  • Mick Oberon series: Books 2 and 3 of this series of hard-boiled faerie stories are Hallow Point and Dead to Rites.

Melissa Marr
  • Wicked Lovely series: I only read the first book of this six(ish)-book series. Book 2 is Ink Exchange.

Amanda Marrone
  • Magic Repair Shop trilogy: I only read the first book. Books 2 and 3 are The Shape Shifter's Curse and The Master of Mirrors.

Katherine Marsh
  • Night Tourist series: Book 2 is The Twilight Prisoner.

Adrian McKinty
  • Lighthouse trilogy: Book 2, The Lighthouse War, has been on my bookshelf for quite a while.

Scott Mebus
  • Gods of Manhattan trilogy: Book 3 is The Sorcerer's Secret.

O.R. Melling
  • Chronicles of Faerie: I think I have a copy of Book 2 of this quartet, The Summer King.

Colin Meloy
  • Wildwood series: I have yet to read books 2 and 3, Under Wildwood and Wildwood Imperium.

Stephenie Meyer
  • Twilight series: No.

L.M. Montgomery
  • Anne Shirley series: I read five of the eight books. Next up is Anne of Ingleside, which I might have somewhere at home. Again, be careful what you type into a web search. On Fantastic Fiction, clicking on the author page for "M.L. Montgomery" leads to an erotic book titled Hot Pink Passion. Probably unrelated to Anne of Green Gables.

Christopher Moore
  • Grim Reaper series: The sequel to Dirty Jobs turns out to be Secondhand Souls.
  • Love Story series: Typical of the public library, the one book in this series I was able to read was Book 3, Bite Me. The first two are Bloodsucking Fiends and You Suck.
  • Pine Cove series: Again, thanks to the public library, I only managed to read Book 2 of this trilogy, The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove. The two that I missed are Practical Demonkeeping and The Stupidest Angel.

John Morressy
  • Kedrigern Chronicles: Since I read The Domesticated Wizard, I so wanted to get Book 2, Dudgeon and Dragons, but I've never been able to find a copy that wasn't priced out of my range.

Gerald Morris
  • Squire's Tales: I've read the first five of the 10 books in this series. I'm pretty sure I own Book 6, The Princess, the Crone, and the Dung-Cart Knight, but I can never seem to lay hands on it when I'm thinking about it.

Brandon Mull
  • Beyonders trilogy: Book 3, Chasing the Prophecy, is somewhere on my Kindle. I paid good money for it (unlike most of the stuff on my Kindle). Remind me to read it one of these days.
  • Candy Shop War series: Book 2 is Arcade Catastrophe.
  • Five Kingdoms series: I have only read Book 1, but there are now four of them in this set. Book 2 is The Rogue Knight.

Matt Myklusch
  • Jack Blank trilogy: Book 3 is The End of Infinity. Myklusch has also started a new series called Seaborne, whose first title is The Lost Prince.

| N |

Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
  • Witch series: I haven't even read one book of it yet. This is what ticks me off: I went to a lot of trouble collecting second-hand copies of this entire six-book series. And now that I've had to pack, move, and unpack, guess which book I'm unable to find? Yup. Book 1, Witch's Sister.
  • Shiloh trilogy: There are two sequels to Shiloh that I have never read: Shiloh Season and Saving Shiloh.

Henry H. Neff
  • Tapestry series: I've read only two of these five books. Book 3 is The Fiend and the Forge.

Anne Nesbet
  • I already read A Box of Gargoyles, though it was the sequel to The Cabinet of Earths, which I have yet to read.

Jennifer A. Nielsen
  • Ascendance trilogy: Book 3 is The Shadow Throne.

Jenny Nimmo
  • Children of the Red King series: I have read six out of eight. That leaves Charlie Bone and the Shadow, which I think I have at home, and Charlie Bone and the Red Knight.

Garth Nix
  • Old Kingdom series: I read three books and thought I was done, but now there are more, including Clariel and Goldenhand, plus a novella, The Creature in the Case.
  • Keys to the Kingdom series: I read five books, and two more remain: Superior Saturday, which I might already own, and Lord Sunday.
  • Troubletwisters series (co-authored by Sean Williams): Book 4 is The Missing.

Mary Norton
  • Borrowers series: It now looks as though I missed Book 5 of this six-book set, Poor Stainless. How did I manage that?

The only surprise here is that "J" wasn't such a big letter, when it comes to series of books I haven't finished reading. I guess it was just the looong list of titles by Diana Wynne Jones that made me think there would be more authors under that initial.

Keep Up with Book Series (Part 3)

Taking the authors whose books I have reviewed in the past in ABC order by last name, my current tally of series of books that I am in the middle of reading stands at almost 90 - an I have only gotten through the D's. Shall we go on?

| E |

Paul England
  • Favorite Operas series: I have the volume on German and Russian composers, but I haven't read all of it yet.

Steve Englehart
  • Max August series: I wasn't aware before now that Point Man was only the first of four "magikal thrillers" featuring the same main character. The other three are The Long Man, The Plain Man, and The Arena Man, and were written about 30 years later than the original book.
Michael Ende
  • No particular series: I've loved the two books I have read by this German author, who died in 1995. I would be interested in reading some of his other books, which (in translation) include The Dream Eater, Mirror in the Mirror, and The Night of Wishes.

Eleanor Estes
  • Moffats series: I have reviewed two of the four books about this family. The other two are Rufus M and The Moffat Museum.

| F |

John Fardell
  • Seven Professors series: The 7 Professors of the Far North has two sequels: The Flight of the Silver Turtle and The Secret of the Black Moon Moth.

Nancy Farmer
  • House of the Scorpion series: The original book has a sequel, The Lord of Opium.
  • Sea of Trolls series: The original book has two sequels: The Land of the Silver Apples and The Islands of the Blessed.

Raymond E. Feist
  • Riftwar saga: Magician, the only book I have read by this author, counts as the first two books of this six-book series. The next installment is Silverthorn.

Jasper Fforde
  • Chronicles of Kazam: The Last Dragonslayer has two sequels that I haven't read: The Song of the Quarkbeast and The Eye of Zoltar. I have been checking regularly for updates on this author's other series, but nothing new has appeared for a while.

Victoria Forester
  • Further to The Girl Who Could Fly, which I loved, there is now a sequel titled The Boy Who Knew Everything.

| G |

Diana Gabaldon
  • Outlander series: If I was going to continue reading this extensive series (which Fantastic Fiction, again, numbers in a confusing way), the next book for me would be Dragonfly in Amber.

Jack Gantos
  • Joey Pigza series: I only read the first two of five books. The others are What Would Joey Do?, I Am Not Joey Pigza, and The Key That Swallowed Joey Pigza.

Neil Gaiman
  • Interworld series (co-authored with Michael Reaves): Book 2 is The Silver Dream, and Book 3 (also co-authored by Mallory Reaves) is Eternity's Wheel.

Jean Craighead George
  • Julie series: The Newbery Medal book Julie of the Wolves was the start of a trilogy. Who knew? Books 2 and 3 are Julie and Julie's Wolf Pack. There is also a possibility I may read the same author's four-book series that starts with My Side of the Mountain.

Adam Gidwitz
  • Grimm series: In the series that started with A Tale Dark and Grimm, Books 2 and 3 are In a Glass Grimmly and The Grimm Conclusion.

Cassandra Golds
  • No paticular series: I have only read one book by this author, but descriptions of her other books reveal a very strange and gentle creative mind. I would like to explore it further, starting perhaps with The Three Loves of Persimmon. Note to self: Be careful how you spell this author's name when searching the internet. There's also a "Cassandra Gold" who writes gay erotica featuring werewolves and psychic phenomena!

Terry Goodkind
  • Sword of Truth series: I only had to read the first book (Wizard's First Rule) of this 15- to 17-book series to realize that I wasn't interested in reading further. If I was, the next book for me would be Stone of Tears.

Delores Gordon-Smith
  • Jack Haldean Mysteries: I've only read the ninth and latest book in this series. So to continue, I would have to go back to Book 1, A Fete Worse Than Death. That's not a typo.

Adam Gopnik
  • No particular series: But after reading The King in the Window, I am interested in his other novel, The Steps Across the Water.

Roderick Gordon & Brian Williams
  • Tunnels series: I have only read the first installment in this six-book series. I think I own a copy of Book 2, Deeper.

Chris Grabenstein
  • Mr. Lemoncello series: I have yet to read Book 2, Mr. Lemoncello's Library Olympics.

Holly Grant
  • League of Beastly Dreadfuls series: Book 2 is The Dastardly Deed.

Clay Griffith & Susan Griffith
  • Vampire Empire series: I have read only the first book of the current four, but I look forward to Book 2: The Rift Walker.

Lev Grossman
  • Magicians trilogy: I have yet to read Book 3, The Magician's Land.

| H |

Margaret Peterson Haddix
  • Palace series: Just Ella turns out to be the first book of a trilogy. Its sequels are Palace of Mirrors and Palace of Lies.

H. Rider Haggard
  • Allan Quartermain series: King Solomon's Mines, so far the only book I have read by this author, was in fact the first installment in a series of 14 books featuring the "great white hunter." Book 2 is called simply Allan Quartermain.

Shannon Hale
  • Books of Bayern: I haven't yet read Book 4, Forest Born.
  • Princess Academy trilogy: I have yet to read Books 2 and 3, Palace of Stone and The Forgotten Sisters.

Victoria Hanley
  • I have read The Seer and the Sword, but not its sequel, The Healer's Keep.

Deborah Harkness
  • All Souls Trilogy: I have yet to read Book 3, The Book of Life.

George Harrar
  • No particular series: I just noticed the list of books this guy has written, and their descriptions look pretty interesting. Where have his books been hiding?

Mette Ivie Harrison
  • Princess series: I just learned The Princess and the Hound has four sequels, beginning with The Princess and the Bear.

Michelle Harrison
  • 13 Treasures series: Book 3 is 13 Secrets.

Markus Heitz
  • Dwarves quartet: Book 3 is The Revenge of the Dwarves.

Joseph Helgerson
  • No particular series: Horns and Wrinkles was fun. I might also enjoy Crows and Cards.

Joseph Heller
  • Catch-22 series: Catch-22 has a sequel I still haven't read: Closing Time.

Carl Hiaasen
  • Juvenile series: Hoot has three sequels I haven't read. The first among them is Flush.

Michael Hiebert
  • Detective Leah Teal series: I have only read the first of so far four books in this series. Next up for me is Close to the Broken Hearted.

Michael Hoeye
  • Hermux Tantamoq series: I have read only two of the four books in this series. Book 3 is No Time Like Show Time.

Mary Hoffman
  • Stravaganza series: I have read only three of the six books in this series. Book 4 is City of Secrets.

Charlie Holmberg
  • Paper Magician trilogy: Since I read the first book, I have been trying to find the other two; but again, not even Inter-Library Loan seems able to find them. Books 2 and 3 are The Glass Magician and The Master Magician.

Tom Holt
  • J.W. Wells & Co. series: Unfortunately, Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Sausages, which is the only book I have read in this seven-book series, was also its last book. To catch up, I'll have to go back to Book 1, The Portable Door.
  • YouSpace series: I inadvertently read Books 1 (Doughnut) and 3 (The Outsourcerer's Apprentice of this four-book series. Books 2 and 4 are, respectively, When It's a Jar and The Good, the Bad and the Smug.

E.W. Hornung
  • Raffles series: I thought I had read this whole series, but there's a fourth book I seem to have forgotten about: Mr. Justice Raffles.

Anthony Horowitz
  • Alex Rider series: I have read only the first seven of so far 10 books in this teen spy thriller series. Book 8 is Crocodile Tears.
  • Diamond Brothers series: I have only read the first three novels about this crime-solving duo. It turns out there are four more book-length mysteries, starting with Book 4: The French Confection. There are also several sets of short stories, one of which I already have on my shelf: Three of Diamonds.
  • Sherlock Holmes novels: Horowitz has been tapped to continue Conan Doyle's Holmes canon. I have read his first novel in this new series (The House of Silk, but not the short story The Three Monarchs, or the related book Moriarty.

Polly Horvath
  • Coal Harbor series: There's a sequel to Everything on a Waffle that I haven't read yet, titled One Year in Coal Harbor.

John Hulme & Michael Wexler
  • The Seems series: Book 3 is The Lost Train of Thought.

Aldous Huxley
  • Did you know there's such a thing as Brave New World Revisited? I would be more interested if anyone ever talked about it.

| I |

Eva Ibbotson
  • No particular series: This author had two parallel careers - the one, writing goofy ghost stories for children, and the other, writing young-adult romances set in approximately the historical period of World War II. I've read most of the former and a couple of the latter, but there remain some of each that I have not yet read, including The Ogre of Oglefort.

David Ives
  • No particular series: Mostly a playwright, Ives has also penned three books for kids, of which I have read only Monsieur Eek. I am most interested in trying Scrib.

That should do for Part 3. "J" is another big letter, I seem to recall, and "H" was big enough!

Keep Up with Book Series (Part 2)

So, how far behind am I on my reading? Going down the alphabetical list of authors I have reviewed since the inception of The Book Trolley in 2003, already within the A's and B's I have counted a mindblowing 45 series of books (give or take) in which I started to read but haven't stayed current. To be sure, the B's, C's, and D's are three letters of the alphabet particularly fraught with the last names of authors whose books have interested me. So, at the risk of breaking 100 before we even get to E...

| C |

W. Bruce Cameron
  • Roddy McCann series: I just read the first book last month, and the second book, Repo Madness, comes out next Tuesday. So give me a break!

Orson Scott Card
  • Alvin Maker series: I have only read the first of these six books. The second is Red Prophet.
  • Ender Wiggin series: Strictly speaking, there are six books in this series, of which I have only read one (Ender's Game). The second is Speaker for the Dead. There is also a spinoff series of five books starting with Ender's Shadow, which is on my to-read shelf.

Gail Carriger
  • Various series: I have legitimately finished reading her five-book Parasol Protectorate series, a loopy bunch of steamy, steampunk paranormal romantic comedies. I have been looking for a way in to some of the spinoff series, such as the Finishing School series, but the first book always seems to be missing wherever I spot the set.

Kristin Cashore
  • Seven Kingdoms trilogy: I have yet to get hold of Book 3, Bitterblue.

P.W. Catanese
  • Books of Umber trilogy: I have yet to read Book 3, The End of time.

Raymond Chandler
  • Philip Marlowe series: Of Chandler's seven completed novels in this series, I have read five, but only by skipping Book 5, The Little Sister, which I have not been able to find even through Inter-Library Loan. Book 7 is Playback. I do have Chandler's short story collection Trouble Is My Business on my shelf.

G.K. Chesterton
  • Father Brown series: This comprises so many books of short mysteries that I'm more than leery of attempting to untangle which ones I need in order to read all the Father Brown stories with a minimum of duplicates. Fantastic Fiction hints the next safe bet would be the 1914 collection The Wisdom of Father Brown.

Cinda Williams Chima
  • Heir series: I am one book short of being caught up with this (currently) five-book series: The Sorcerer Heir.
  • Seven Realms series: I did manage to read all four books of this series, but a spinoff series titled Shattered Realms has started with the book Shadowcaster.

Gennifer Choldenko
  • Tales from Alcatraz: I am missing third book of this trilogy, Al Capone Does My Homework.

Cassandra Clare
  • Mortal Instruments series: I have only read the first three of these six books; on deck is City of Fallen Angels.
  • Infernal Devices series: I haven't read any of them yet, but I have copy of at least the first book in this trilogy, Clockwork Angel.

Henry Clark
  • No series in particular: I just read, and loved, his debut book What We Found in the Sofa and How It Saved the World. I don't know of any connection between it and his follow-up novel, The Book That Proves Time Travel Happens, other than the fact that I plan to read it as soon as I can.

Susanna Clarke
  • No series in particular: The Ladies of Grace Adieu is a book of short stories set in the same reality as Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. I've owned a copy of it for a while, and I know just where it is on my bookcase. I don't know what's holding me back from reading it, other than a preference for long-form fiction.

Beverly Cleary
  • Various series: There are just too many titles by this author, and my interest in them is lukewarm. I've read the ones that struck me as important (notably, the Newbery Honor book Ramona and Her Father and the Newbery Medal book Dear Mr. Henshaw). Please, don't hold me to reading all of them!

David Clement-Davies
  • Sight series: I've started reading The Sight; it has a bookmark in it and is close to the top of the wading-poolful of books about which I can say the same. But it also has a sequel: Fell.

Andrew Clements
  • Things trilogy: I have yet to read Book 3, Things That Are.

Chris Colfer
  • Land of Stories series: I have read the first two of five books. The remaining three begin with A Grimm Warning.

Eoin Colfer
  • Artemis Fowl series: I have read the first five of eight books. The remaining three begin with The Time Paradox.
  • Hitchhiker's Guide series: I don't normally take any interest in one author's continuation of another author's series, but based on Colfer's body of work, I wouldn't mind seeing what he did with the late Douglas Adams' universe in And Another Thing...
  • Plugged series: I look forward to reading he second book, Screwed.

Chris Columbus & Ned Vizzini
  • House of Secrets series: I got to do a pre-publication review of the first book, but I've lost touch since then. Book 2 was Battle of the Beasts, and Book 3 (co-authored by Chris Rylander) was Clash of the Worlds.

James Fenimore Cooper
  • Leatherstocking series: I happened to read The Last of the Mohicans, only to find out it is the sequel to something called The Deerslayer. Hmmm.

D.M. Cornish
  • Monster Blood Tattoo trilogy: I own, but have not yet read, copies of Books 2 and 3, Lamplighter and Factotum. I am sorry to say, at least the latter (2010) was sent to me as a pre-publication proof. They're huge books full of difficult vocabulary and require an immense attention span. They also contain helpful appendices, such as a map of a world so big and detailed that it's overwhelming, and a glossary whose definitions are full of other terms you have to look up in the glossary, world without end. I found reading the first installment, Foundling, almost but not quite more work than it was worth, and I gave up a short way into Book 2. Yet I keep them around after all these years, too guilty about accepting a pre-publication copy to go back on my commitment to reading them (eventually, even if too late).

Bruce Coville
  • Magic Shop series: Though Fantastic Fiction's numbering of this series is confusing, I gather there are several more books that I haven't read yet, such as Charlie Eggleston's Talking Skull, The Vampire's Tooth, The Mask of Eamonn Tiyado, and Goblins on the Prowl.

Alison Croggon
  • Pellinor series: Though I've finished reading this quartet of novels, there are now a prequel novel The Bone Queen, and a novella, The Friendship.

Kevin Crossley-Holland
  • Arthur trilogy: I think I own, but haven't yet read, Book 3: The King of the Middle March.

Marianne Curley
  • Guardians of Time trilogy: I have yet to read Book 3: The Key.

| D |

Anna Dale
  • No particular series: Having read her first three books, I'm just interested in her fourth, Magical Mischief.

Gitty Daneshvari
  • League of Unexceptional Children series: I enjoyed the first book, and look forward to reading its sequel, Get Smart-ish. While I'm at it, I would also like to try the author's School of Fear trilogy.

James Dashner
  • 13th Reality quartet: I have only read the first book; Book 2 is The Hunt for Dark Infinity. Which sounds kind of like what I'm doing right here.
  • Maze Runner trilogy: Book 2 is The Scorch Trials.

Charles de Lint
  • Cerin Songweaver series: When I read it, I didn't know The Harp of the Grey Rose was the first of a three- or four-book series. The next installment is And the Rafters Were Ringing.

Kate DiCamillo
  • No particular series: I just happen to own a copy of The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, but I haven't read it yet.

Chris d'Lacey
  • Last Dragon series: I've only read the first two of the seven books. Next up is Fire Star.

Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Sherlock Holmes series: I have read the first five of the eight or nine books in this series. Next up is The Return of Sherlock Holmes.

Tonke Dragt
  • Letter for the King series: I have yet to read the second book, The Secrets of the Wild Wood.

Diane Duane
  • Young Wizards series: I somehow missed Book 10, Games Wizards Play. Really!

Alexandre Dumas
  • King's Musketeers series: I still haven't read the sequels to The Three Musketeers, starting with Twenty Years After.

Glen Duncan
  • Last Werewolf series: I haven't read past the first book - and I may not, due to the strength of the sexual content. The remaining titles are Talulla Rising and By Blood We Live.

Jeanne DuPrau
  • Ember series: I haven't yet read Book 4: The Diamond of Darkhold.

Sarah Beth Durst
  • The Wild series: Book 2, Out of the Wild, is another one towards the top of the kiddie-pool-sized pile of books I started to read and stuck a bookmark in so I cold read something else. I'm getting to it. Don't rush me.

Keep Up with Book Series (Part 1)

It's been about three years since my last progress report on all the series of books I'm trying to read at the same time. Have I almost caught up yet? Or am I even farther behind? Behold, the depressing facts...

| A |

Louisa May Alcott
  • Little Women series: I've only read the first book or two, Little Women and Good Wives (whether this counts as one book or two is precisely the question). The series continues in at least two more books that I have yet to read, Little Men and Jo's Boys and How They Turned Out. I make no promises.

M.T. Anderson
  • Norumbegan Quartet: I think I finally got hold of the fourth book, The Chamber in the Sky, on Kindle. But I haven't done much Kindle reading lately. I've got a lot of good stuff on there, I should remember it next time I'm pawing through my bookcase for something new.
  • Octavian Nothing series: I've only read the first book. Book 2, The Kingdom on the Waves, looks like it may be good. I'll have to request it at the library.
  • Pals in Peril series: I've read the first two of six books. I think the next installment, Jasper Dash and the Flame Pits of Delaware, may be lurking somewhere in the back row of books on one of my shelves.

Jonathan Auxier
  • Peter Nimble series: A second book, Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard, came out earlier this year. I'd better look for it at the library.

Avi (Edward Irving Wortis)
  • Dimwood Forest series: I've read four of the six books. That leaves Poppy's Return, which may be already be tucked in that back row somewhere, and Poppy and Ereth.
  • Crispin series: I didn't even realize until now that Crispin: The Cross of Lead had two sequels: At the Edge of the World and The End of Time.

| B |

Natalie Babbitt
  • This isn't really a series, but I've read one of her books (Tuck Everlasting), and I've had another (The Eyes of the Amaryllis) on my to-read shelf for some time.

P.D. Baccalario
  • Century quartet: I've read the first two books. The other titles, which I need to look up, are City of Wind and Dragon of Seas.

E.D. Baker
  • Frog Princess series: I've read three books of what is already an eight-book series, with a ninth book rumored to be in progress. Note to self: the next installment is No Time for Magic.

Blue Balliett
  • Calder Pillay series: After writing a couple stand-alone books that I may like to read just for fun, this author came out in 2015 with a fourth book in the series of which I have read three. Title: Pieces and Players.

Jennifer Lynn Barnes
  • Bailey Morgan series: Again, I didn't know there was a sequel to Tattoo until I looked for it. It's titled Fate. Meantime, the same author has been working on five other series, in case you're interested in modern-world teen fantasy.

T.A. Barron
  • Adventures of Kate series: So far I have only read The Merlin Effect, which is actually the third of three books. When time permits, perhaps I will look up Heartlight and The Ancient One.
  • Merlin series: I thought I had finished what I knew as the "Lost Years of Merlin" cycle, a five-book series. But as of 2011 there were 12 books in this series, of which the next on deck for me is Book 6, The Dragon of Avalon.

Dale E. Basye
  • Heck series: I have only explored three of the seven circles of Heck, where the bad kids go to be darned for all eternity. The remaining titles are Fibble, Snivel, Precocia, and Wise Acres.

K.P. Bath
  • Lucy Wickwright series: There actually is a third book in this series, titled The Black Arrow of Cant, but I'm frankly leery of reading it since, during my review of his second book, I learned of the author's conviction on child pornography charges.

Joan Bauer
  • Rules of the Road series: Again, I didn't know until just now that Rules of the Road had a sequel, Best Foot Forward.

L. Frank Baum
  • Oz series: Although I wrote one omnibus review of the Oz books, it was incomplete. I've had the remaining books in the series since about 2006, along with a few other Baum titles that I have yet to read. It's not that I'm uninterested, but reading them seems a lot of trouble just to add a paragraph or three to an omnibus review of the entire series. Oh well...

Peter S. Beagle
  • Again, no series in particular, but I have several of his books on my to-read shelf, and I'm now interested in getting I'm Afraid You've Got Dragons.

Ian Beck
  • Tom Trueheart series: I have read two of the three books. The third is Tom Trueheart and the Land of Myths and Legends.

Frank Beddor
  • Looking Glass Wars: The third book, which I have yet to read, is Arch Enemy.

Alan Beechey
  • Oliver Swithin Mysteries: There is a third installment, This Private Plot. I would love to see it, especially having corresponded briefly with the author after my review of his first two books. I recall he seemed discouraged about his career. I would like to give him any encouragement I can.

Hilari Bell
  • Farsala series: The third book is Forging the Sword. I would also like to read her Goblin Wood trilogy, at least. I think I might have part of it on my to-read shelf already.

Ted Bell
  • Nick McIver series: The second book is The Time Pirate. I have also been interested in trying out his 12-book Alex Hawke series, of which selected volumes are available at my local public library; but I want to start at the beginning, if possible.

John Bellairs
  • Lewis Barnavelt series: I'm actually not interested in reading any farther in this series, because after the first three books (which I have read), the rest were ghost-written by Brad Strickland after Bellairs' death. Frustratingly enough, I haven't been able to get within visual range of copy of the four all-Bellairs Anthony Monday books, and of the eight pre-Strickland Johnny Dixon books, I have only gotten my hands on the eighth. Aargh! Priorities (i.e. first books) in each series are The Treasure of Alpheus Winterborn and The Curse of the Blue Figurine, respectively.

Jon Berkeley
  • Wednesday Tales trilogy: I once received an email from the author offering me a free copy of Book 3, The Lightning Key, but it never came and I never heard from him again. Eventually I will get over my disappointment and locate a copy under my own power.

Jim Bernheimer
  • Dead Eye series: I reviewed Pennies for the Ferryman only because the author sent it to me and asked me to. Still, I wouldn't rule out reading its sequel, The Skinwalker Conspiracies.
  • Spirals of Destiny series: I could say the same thing about Rider and its sequel, Sorceress.

Luc Besson
  • Arthur series: Arthur and the Minimoys has a sequel, Arthur and the Forbidden City. I believe I own a copy of it, and finally reading it shouldn't cost me too much time. I suppose I owe that much effort to the creator of one of my favorite flawed movies, The Fifth Element.

Jeanne Birdsall
  • Penderwicks series: I have read only the first two books in this charming quartet. The two I have yet to read are The Penderwicks at Point Mouette and The Penderwicks in Spring.

Holly Black et al.
  • Magisterium series (with Cassandra Clare): The third book, which I am eager to absorb, is The Bronze Key.
  • Spiderwick series (with Tony DiTerlizzi): I read all the original Spiderwick Chronciles, but they've come out with a spinoff trilogy called Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles: The Nixie's Song, A Giant Problem, and The Wyrm King.
  • No series in particular: I'm just interested in some of her stand-alone titles, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown and The Darkest Part of the Forest.

Pseudonymous Bosch
  • Secret series: I have read two of the five books. That still leaves This Book Is Not Good for You, This Isn't What It Looks Like, and You Have to Stop This. Meantime, Bosch has also started a new "Bad" series, starting with Bad Magic.

Alan Bradley
  • Flavia de Luce Mysteries: After the seven books I have read, the eighth is The Curious Case of the Copper Corpse - which I thought I saw in the local public library once, but could never find when I went looking for it again. A ninth book, Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd, is due to be released next month.

Libba Bray
  • Gemma Doyle series: I somehow managed to read the third book of this trilogy, The Sweet Far Thing, before the first two. No matter, I have them on my to-read shelf: A Great and Terrible Beauty and Rebel Angels. I might even read them at some point.

Herbie Brennan
  • Faerie Wars series: I thought this series was concluded after four books, but now I learn a fifth has been added: The Faeman Quest.

Sarah Rees Brennan
  • Lynburn Legacy trilogy: The third book is Unmade.

Carol Ryrie Brink
  • Caddie Woodlawn series: A sequel to Caddie Woodlawn has existed since 1939. It was originally titled Magical Melons, but is currently marketed as Caddie Woodlawn's Family. No guarantees that I'll read it, though. I only read C.W. because it was a Newbery Medal book, and I've been slowly working toward reading all of them.

Terry Brooks
  • Landover series: Magic Kingdom for Sale - Sold! was the first of a six-book series. At some point I started reading Book 2, The Black Unicorn, but I can't remember why (or where) I put it down. I'd better dig it out, because I also have one of the Shannara books on deck, and I don't want to get into that series until I'm done with this one.

Anne Patrice Brown
  • Dumari Chronicles: The author sent me the first book in this series to review, and then because I wrote something nice about it, she sent me Year Two as well. I haven't felt up to reading it yet. I don't mean this as a put-down, but I have repeatedly found that being sent a book for free (even one I planned to read eventually) tends to kill my desire for it. I could name two or three other examples. I think it has something to do with being spoiled rotten.

Michael Buckley
  • Sisters Grimm series: I have read six of these nine books. The remaining titles are The Everafter War, The Inside Story, and The Council of Mirrors. I would also like to try his N.E.R.D.S. series.

Linda Buckley-Archer
  • Gideon series: I have no excuse for not having read the third book of this trilogy, Time Quake. It has been on my to-read shelf for years.

Marissa Burt
  • Storybound series: Book 2, which I haven't read yet, is Story's End. Hmm. That developed fast.

Jim Butcher
  • Cinder Spires series: Well, there's only one book in it so far - The Aeronaut's Windlass - but I haven't read it yet. And amazingly, I'm caught up with all my other Jim Butcher series. What gives? Is he done writing the Dresden Files?

Georgia Byng
  • Molly Moon series: The third book of what is now a six- or seven-book series (depending on whether you count a 2007 World Book Day gimmick) is Molly Moon's Hypnotic Time Travel Adventure, which has also been on my to-read shelf for quite a while. Oops!

Just like in 2013, I got to the end of the A's thinking, "This isn't so bad." Then I got through the B's and thought, "Shit." From this it may or may not be possible to form a statistically plausible guess as to how many series of books I have started to read, but haven't finished, during the 13 years I've been posting my reviews online. Whether I will actually work my way through to Z is another question...

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

What Makes a Hymn Useful?

Last night, I received my final proof copy of Useful Hymns (expanded edition) in the mail from Lulu. This morning, I approved it and pulled the trigger on sales and distribution. It is currently priced at $33.48, with a 20 percent discount ($26.78) if purchased directly from Lulu. After a lot of hard work and some irritating delays, what more can I say but, "Thanks be to God!"

To answer the question posed in this entry's title, I would probably have to repeat stuff I have said before. Perhaps I should note that one of the things I'm trying to do with this book is fight back against the "tacky hymns" tackiness that I have lampooned so often on this blog - in some people's view, to an offensive degree. The contrast between the examples I criticized on the "Tacky Hymns" thread and the alternatives presented in Useful Hymns should not need too much analysis and explanation.

Another thing I want it to do is redirect the way hymns are being introduced in today's church, away from "springing hymns that have not been discussed or tested on the church through the latest synodically approved pew hymnal" and toward "authors putting their own stuff out there and seeing what people make of it."

But finally, I have previously alluded to a Gracia Grindal essay on "what makes a hymn Lutheran," in the introduction to a book of hymns that I would mostly have shunted into the "tacky hymns" category. So I guess there isn't a broad consensus on this - on what makes hymns Lutheran, on what makes them beautiful, on what makes them non-tacky, on what makes them (in a word) useful.

It is obvious the question bears answering, but I don't want to get too detailed about it. Writing hymns is an art form; indeed, it is a union and interpenetration of multiple art forms, unparalleled throughout human creativity in complexity, sophistication, the potential for sublimity, and the risk of failure. Further, a successful hymn is an amazingly distilled and compact artifact of the literary, musical, and theological arts. It can have a powerful influence on believers for many generations, either for truth or error. It can be deeply moving and meaningful to individuals. And while there are principles that can be learned from studying hymnody, trying to reduce it to a precise science would not be productive. I'm not usually the kind of person who says things like "You could kill the spirit." But seriously, you could.

Like creating art music, writing excellent hymns is not something we should leave up to other ages of history or other religious communities. I have a conjecture that an active culture of hymn-writing is as vital to the health of the living church at any time as an active culture of yeast is to a commercial bakery. And I think it is also important to make a distinction about the purpose of hymns, about who should be singing them. Hymns may, and should, be used by individuals for their private, and even silent, devotions; sung by choirs or soloists; studied in the classroom either for catechetical purposes or as examples for literary and musical analysis; quoted in sermons and essays; cited in doctrinal debates or apologetic pamphlets addressed to unbelievers; perhaps even engraved on fancy paper and sent as greeting cards for the encouragement and consolation of others. But mainly, their purpose is to be sung by a congregation: to be an instrument for putting the words of the faith into the mouths of the faithful. A conscientious hymn-writer will necessarily struggle to craft hymns that are effective for that purpose. To the extent he succeeds, his hymns may be useful.

Another point toward the question of what makes hymns useful has to do with spotting potential uses for hymns: being alert to opportunities to serve a need in the lives of the faithful, to fill a gap in the available hymn literature that answers to a foreseeable purpose. Some hymns are written for very narrow purposes or occasions, such as the dedication or anniversary of a specific church or institution. Some hymns are so general, or so light on content, that their usefulness is mainly as an "all-purpose" number to stick into any opening on any occasion. But between those extremes, there is plenty of room for hymns that answer to needs that regularly arise in the lives of individual Christians, congregations, or entire church bodies. Needs like, for example, encouragement while battling temptation, hungering for the Sacrament, suffering in body or mind, grieving, worrying, feeling concerned about the body politic, being divided from loved ones or other Christians, etc.

There are other ways hymns may be useful, such as clarifying key doctrines, meditating on the lessons for each Sunday of the church year, and explaining the relevance of certain Bible stories to the lives of today's believers. But perhaps more to the point than what purposes the hymns serve is their manner of serving them.

I don't think it is vital for the usefulness of a hymn to be written in modern, man-on-the-street language. I think it is acceptable, and even desirable, for hymns to use dignified, cultured language that sets them apart from gutter speech and ephemeral pop culture. I am not averse to writing hymns in a modestly archaic poetic register, though the density and obscurity of poetic devices in a single hymn should be limited by compassion for laypeople with middling literacy. I try to let a high-toned modern idiom predominate in my work. I aim to write skillful, economical verse that fades to transparency between the reader or singer and the subject it portrays. But I also recognize it wouldn't really be poetry - there wouldn't be any point in making the effort, really - if it weren't more interesting and aesthetically beautiful than a block of prose that conveyed the same meaning.

Poetics of Hymnody
With regard to the poetry of hymns - whether crafting my own, or evaluating that of others - I particularly value economy of words. I think conspicuous wordiness is a dead giveaway of a lack of experience or ability in writing poetry. A good hymn will sound like it's squeezing a lot of meaning into a few words, rather than reaching for extra words to stretch its message to fill a given meter and rhyme scheme. An economical hymn may be quite long, because it is trying to say a lot, or because its argument requires a lot of logical steps or scriptural examples. But the impression such a hymn should convey is one of thoroughness, rather than prolixity.

Another piece of the poetic puzzle is a vividness of expression that awakens the imagination, the senses, the emotions, and the memory of other literature. As most experienced writers will readily say, though some still struggle with it in practice, the right way to achieve this is not by loading your lines with adjectives and adverbs, but by choosing strong verbs and being deft with a well-turned metaphor or simile. All the other poetic devices you learned in 10th-grade English class, like alliteration and assonance, may also be of some use.

I doubt anyone could write more than 200 hymns in the same meter without going insane. Variety is what keeps you interested in what you're doing as a hymn-writer. So being acquainted with, or prepared to experiment with, a variety of stanza structures is a plus. You'll find some meters are harder than others to pull off, but the results are sometimes surprisingly rewarding. The same goes for rhyme schemes. It can help to be open to modest experiments in patterns of end-rhymes, internal rhymes, and what my 12th-grade English prof called "slant-rime" (sic) - which may also require you to grow a thick skin when dealing with pedants who consider anything but a perfect rhyme to be a versifying error.

The main thing, I guess, is to start writing poetry after having read a lot of poetry, and to continue reading a lot of other poetry, learning and thinking about why it does or doesn't work, practicing how to imitate and extend those techniques that work, and eventually to write enough poetry that it stops reading like a student's painful attempt to fulfill a classroom assignment and begins to show signs of being your own style. Along the way you will write a lot of stuff that you won't keep, and some stuff that you can only save by radically revising it, before you reach the point where a finished poem springs right into your mind and flows through your hand onto paper with only slight alterations, then or thereafter.

If you're serious about wanting to write good poetry someday, don't give up. Begin with the understanding that, like any other skill, it's going to take thousands of hours of hands-on experience to achieve an expert level. You could shut yourself up in a cell with adequate light, plumbing, reading and writing materials, a desk and a chair, and someone to pass you food and drink through a slot in the door, and by devoting every waking hour to the discipline of learning to write poetry, you may become Robert Frost (or at least Robert Browning) in about five years. Or you could take a stab at it on and off for 25 years, with occasional periods of intense focus, as I did. I recommend the latter. The life experience that comes packaged with it will give you more interesting material to write about.

Music of Hymnody
I daresay learning to write music is an ambition that captivates fewer people than the writing of poetry. While a few people have a natural genius for inventing memorable melodies and improvising the harmony and accompaniment to go with them, most of us mere mortals only arrive there with anything resembling confidence after a course of music theory. Those geniuses, if they don't read music, may be condemned to having to dictate their compositions to someone who has taken music theory, in order to get them down on paper. So one way or another, the writing of hymn music is probably going to involve the study of that subject, at either first or second hand.

Music theory is a tough subject. Few people even begin to study it, and it shakes most of them off within the first semester. The tiny remnant who survive the entire curriculum, as undergraduate music majors, are often bonded like brothers (and sisters) in arms. A good preparation, before even trying to survive music theory, is to become a proficient note-reader, which probably means learning to play the piano. That's also not a bad idea if your ambition is eventually to be able to write realistically playable hymn tunes and accompaniment. If you have the natural genius for it, you might even be able to skip taking theory after achieving keyboard and note-reading proficiency. But once you've done that, I guarantee you'll find that taking music theory becomes a less intimidating prospect, and pays dividends in the variety and sophistication of the music you are capable of creating.

You might be surprised to learn there is a stage in the study of music theory when four-part harmonizations of traditional chorales (hymn-tunes) become a staple of students' harmonic analysis and composition exercises. A lot of hymn arrangements in mid-20th century hymnals are examples of typical, "textbook harmony" that could have been written any time since Martin Luther's day until now. There are also a lot of arrangements, predominating in some hymn-books, typical of 19th-century hymn composition in being either excessively smarmy or tediously, harmonically static. And there are hymn arrangements from the late 20th century to the present that are a little freer and more flowing in their texture, and often more "modern" in their harmony as well. My ideas of useful hymnody dispose me to prefer either the earliest or latest of these three style periods, and to avoid the one in the middle.

Sometime ago, I started a thread about how to write a tune, but I never carried it through as planned. Maybe I'll get back to it sometime. But for now, I think it is enough to say that useful hymn tunes can be inspired by the example of one's favorite tunes from any period, nationality, or denomination in Christian history. When I write hymn tunes, I aim to achieve the greatest possible variety in style, both in the shape of the melody and in the style of accompaniment, from Reformation-era German chorales to American shape-note part-songs, from medieval church modes to Scandinavian Romanticism, and from high Anglican hymn tunes to contemporary art songs. Sometimes their harmony is traditional, chordal, hymnal-style chorale; sometimes it is dissonant and weird. Their resemblance to the models I had in mind may be evident more in my imagination than to anyone else. But whatever style or register I try to adopt in a given tune, above all I aim to make them memorable and distinct in their melodic contours, to have an effective harmonic structure and dramatic shape, and to be propelled forward by a certain rhythmic energy. And again, I want to write tunes that a congregation might reasonably be asked to try and learn to sing.

Spirituality of Hymnody
Once you get past the way the words are put together and the tune a congregation may be expected to sing, the biggest part of the question "What makes a hymn useful?" remains. Given a little time to read back over my own blog, I am sure I could produce several notable examples of hymns that were very successful as poems and/or as pieces of music (whether for the congregation to sing or not), yet flew wide of the mark of really being a useful hymn. At bottom, a hymn's poetry and music are excellent in vain if it doesn't have that theological je ne sais quoi. That bit of French right there means, "I don't know what." But actually, I do know what. And now I'm going to tell it to you.

First, no one without the Holy Spirit, and without faith in Christ, can write an excellent Christian hymn. They can perhaps write a shallow and dead imitation or parody of one, but those who would be taken in by it ought to have higher standards. Exceptions to this rule will immediately come to mind; for example, Ralph Vaughan Williams, who was personally an atheist, contributed to The English Hymnal of 1906 (which he co-edited with the noted socialist Percy Dearmer) a number of very attractive hymn tunes, including the famous SINE NOMINE (since then wedded to "For all the saints who from their labors rest"), some of them adapted from British folk-tunes, that are still spreading into more and more hymn-books. But I make no claim about the theological qualifications to write or arrange the music for a hymn; for that, the only qualifications necessary are of musical concern. I remain convinced that for a hymn text to avoid being tacky in its application to Lutheran corporate worship, it cannot be written by someone who rejects the faith. This is all another way of saying truly useful hymnody is a gift of God.

Second, it must be written to the glory of God, without confusing the Persons of the Trinity or dividing His Substance, and without obscuring the union of God and Man in one person, Jesus Christ.

Third, Christ should be at the center of it, either the object to whom it is addressed or the subject of whom it is concerned, depicted as the source of every good, especially of the forgiveness of our sins and eternal salvation.

Fourth, it should be true to the witness of God's Word in the Bible, and should correctly apply His benefits for us in the proclamation of the Gospel, the forgiveness of sins, baptism, and the Lord's Supper.

Fifth, it should not so make light of Christ's suffering and cross, or of the afflictions of the faithful, as to peddle the cheap grace of a false gospel of individual self-salvation or of reward and glory, in this world or any other, to be obtained through man's works, decisions, feelings, spiritual gifts, religious observances, sacrifices, etc., etc.

Sixth, without despising the gifts and opportunities God provides for His church in the present life, it should point the hearts of today's struggling believers toward the time and place not yet revealed, in which the faithful will behold the glorious face of Christ and be comforted for all eternity.

To put these six criteria into one brief, though perhaps too heavily laden sentence, a useful hymn is a reflection of God-given faith in the true God; Christ-centered, normed by Scripture, rich in biblical thought, oriented through the means of grace on the gospel of the forgiveness of sins in the cross of Jesus, sensitive to the struggles of believers, keyed into our life as vessels of grace in the present world, yet also locked on target in the promised world to come.

This is what I have tried to achieve by writing more than 200 "useful hymns." This is the reverse of what I deplore in my bitchy attacks on "tacky hymns." It is what I hope my new book will encourage other Lutheran hymn-writers to strive for in what, if my suggestion carries any weight, will soon become a bumper-crop of hymn-books, large and small, out of which the church may profitably enrich its store of sacred songs.