Most of my regular readers know that I don’t often read series. Mind you, there was a time that I read lots of them. But today, things have changed, even though sometimes I’ll read the first novel of a series in hopes of finding one in which I want to get invested. No, I’m not talking about books that looked like stand-alone novels, that ended up having sequels. What I’m talking about are the series that I started to read – knowing full well that there would be more books in the future – and then… stopped reading one point in time or another. Some of them fizzled out after a while, some just got lost in the shuffle, while others flopped from the start, and (another category added recently) some started as stand-alone novels that got more than one sequel, but I wasn’t really interested in reading more about these characters. Let’s see which ones are in each of these categories.
When I started writing this, I didn’t realize just how many series I had begun reading and never finished. So, I’ve decided to do this in three separate posts, which has now turned to four separate posts. Ironically, that makes these… a series of posts about series I never finished reading! Today I’m talking about:
Stand-Alone Novels that Became Series.
This category also includes books that I read believing they were stand-alone novels, but I later found out were one in a series. I’m not talking about books where the author went on to write a sequel or even published a prequel after the publication of the first novel (but maybe I should do another post about those).
The Devil Wears Prada – Lauren Weisberger. Yes, I read and reviewed this, like practically everyone. This is one of those books that you say “meh” about and then you see the movie, and it is also “meh” and you think, “well… that’s that.” But then you find out that isn’t the end, and you start to wonder if you’re the only person who thought that there really wasn’t any reason to write a sequel. Well, from the ratings on Goodreads, I wasn’t alone in that feeling. And yet, to add insult to injury, she goes and writes a third novel. Well, I guess some authors can’t get enough of a “good” thing, especially if people are willing to read them. Go ahead and enjoy, but please don’t ask me to join you on that ride.
Bridget Jones – Helen Fielding. This is another one that I read before I had a blog, so I never reviewed “The Bridget Jones Diary.” I liked that book, seeing as it was a modern version of Pride and Prejudice, and I thought the movie was nicely done as well (hm… I think I might have missed this for that post about books to movies), and well… Colin Firth, right? I was surprised when a sequel came out, but I actually did read it (again, before I had this blog). The problem with the second book was that I noticed it was a bit of a double rip-off. One part of that novel felt like Fielding stole from Nick Hornby’s book “Fever Pitch” (which was also made into a movie with Colin Firth, so I get why she took that bit, and of course he had to be in the sequel movie as well). The other part seemed to me like she stole her idea of being in jail in Bangkok from a TV series I saw many years ago. It stared Nicole Kidman (before she was well known, and using her original Australian accent), and was called Bangkok Hilton. Well, this theft pissed me off, and although I finished reading the book, I only saw bits and pieces of the movie (oh, can’t change your star to Kidman? Too bad!). I didn’t even bother when the third and fourth books came out, because I didn’t want to know what she stole for those!
Don Tillman – Graeme Simsion. I enjoyed the first book in this series, “The Rosie Project,” and I reviewed it here. However, a while later I realized this had a sequel, so I bought the second book in the series about a year after it came out, and put it on my TBR pile next to my bed. However, that was about five years ago and although I’ve looked at the opening pages a couple of times, I just can’t seem to get excited enough about it to actually tuck into it seriously. I haven’t a clue why this is. I liked Don a whole lot, and I thought Rosie was an interesting and extravagant character that was a good foil for Don. Maybe it was because I thought the first book ended nicely enough that I didn’t need to know more about how they got along after the last page. Sometimes you really don’t need to get a peek behind the curtain once it has been closed after the show. Of course, you never know; I might decide to read that second book someday, so I’m not going to toss it (just yet)!
McNulty Family – Sebastian Barry. The only one of these books I’ve read is “The Secret Scripture” and it was absolutely amazing. I loved it, from start to finish. But since I read it, I realized that this was not only part of a series, but that Barry also seems to reuse lots of his characters in many of his other books (and in his plays). For example, I seem to recall someone named Dunne in that book, and now I see that he also has a whole series of novels just about the Dunne Family. Plus, there is another series that features a McNulty as a main protagonist in his latest series called Days Without End. Unlike the McNulty books, these apparently don’t take place only in Ireland (with the town of Sligo as their anchor), but actually take his characters to America. I’m sorry to say that my husband bought this first one, and although I haven’t read it, he is not liking it at all. He said that the writing is beautiful, but the content was not at all to his liking and he’s DNF it (and he’s not nearly as critical of books as I am)!
Nellie Bly – David Blixt. Okay so, these aren’t actually listed on Goodreads as a series, but I think they should be, to be honest. The first one, “What Girls are Good For” was a full-length novel, and I think he wrote it as a stand-alone. However, he apparently still had so much information about her that he decided to publish two more short books – a novella and a novelette. These were “Charity Girl” and “Clever Girl,” which each followed more of Bly’s life as an undercover, investigative journalist. I believe that he intends to write another novel about her traveling around the world with a companion, which she did in only 78 days. I do intend to read that one when he publishes it, because Nellie’s real-life success inspired Jules Verne to write his fictional novel “Around the World in 80 Days.”
By the way, I now understand that the novel “Old Baggage” by Lissa Evens is apparently part of a series (although none of them are marked as such on Goodreads, and there is also no title for the series). I truly enjoyed that novel, and honestly, it felt completely like a stand-alone book to me, with an ending that didn’t really seem to call for even a sequel. The other two books are apparently “Crooked Heart” published in 2014, and the recently released “V for Victory”. Both of these books sound interesting, and I did like Evens’ writing and characters, so I might be tempted to read these other two (although I’m not yet convinced that they’re all really a series, but rather, books with recurring characters). Then there is a serialized set of 11 short stories made out of the novel Belgravia by Julian Fellows. I DNF the novel, but I liked the TV series well enough, although I felt it didn’t have half of the charm of his Downton Abbey.
On the other hand…
I read the first Billy Walker novel, “The War Widow” by Tara Moss, and I think I’ll be on the lookout for the next installment, even though these aren’t cozy mysteries, but rather slightly thrilling detective novels, but hey… they take place in Australia after WWII and with a female protagonist, so what’s not to like, right? Also, I just started reading the first of the Maisie Dobbs novels by Jacqueline Winspear, and I hope I will like it enough, and read more of this series. I’m kind of hoping these will be the type of cozy mysteries that will match (to their best ability) the charm of the many Agathe Christie books I’ve read in the past. Finally, there is the Beartown series by Fredrik Backman. Again, I didn’t know when I read the first one, “Beartown,” that it would get a sequel called “Us Against You.” I also didn’t know that there would be a third book in the series, which is due to be published in 2021. Well, I can promise you I’ll be reading that book because… BACKMAN!
So, in conclusion, while I’m still wary of committing to reading them, I haven’t totally given up on series; but as you can see, I am very picky about them!
Don’t forget to take a look at the other posts in this series: