I've been reading a lot of series lately, which I really like because you get to stay with familiar characters for a long time. Here are four series of books that I have really enjoyed.
I found the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead quite a while ago. I had finished reading and re-reading the Twilight series many, many times and needed something else to fill my need for vampire literature. I kept seeing these books in the grocery store. They looked tempting, but also seemed like they were too YA for me. I wrote down the author so I could do a little research on her. On her website were fun descriptions of each of her books (she was writing three different series at the time, two adult and one YA) and first chapter excerpts. I found that I really like Richelle's writing style and found the characters and the premise of these books intriguing. I also read through Richelle's blog and thought she was very funny and wanted to support her by buying her books. Richelle previously taught middle school English, and actually started her writing career while still teaching.
There are six books in this series - Vampire Academy, Frostbite, Shadow Kiss, Blood Promise, Spirit Bound, and Last Sacrifice. They follow the world of Rosemarie Hathaway, a half-human half-vampire teenage girl, a dhampir. Dhampirs are trained to be guardians for their mortal vampire brethren, Moroi, and protect them from the immortal deadly vampires, Strigoi. Richelle got her ideas for her vampire world from mythology and folklore. Rose is being trained to be the guardian for her best friend, Vasilisa Dragomir, a Moroi princess and the last person in her family. Other characters are their friends, Mason & Eddie, their arch-enemy Mia Rinaldi, Lissa's potential love interest Christian Ozera, Rose's mentor Dimitri Belikov, and Lissa's uncle and cousin Victor and Natalie Dashkov. You definitely need to read these books in order or you won't understand what is happening. Thankfully though, Richelle usually doesn't end each book with a cliff-hanger, so you're not left wondering for however long it takes to get the next book.
The Moroi world that they live in is secret from the humans and operate with their own rules and laws. The Moroi vampires use magic and do not kill the humans that they drink from, they can function in the sun, but do better at night so they follow a nocturnal schedule. Strigoi vampires do kill their human victims. They can also turn humans, dhampirs, and Moroi into Strigoi by killing them and then feeding their blood back to the victim. Strigoi cannot function in the sun at all.
What I really like about these books is the Richelle doesn't try to make teenagers more angelic than they really are. The characters have petty grievances, skip class, drink alcohol at parties, use cuss words, and have sex. Much like real teens. The six books follow Rose through some serious issues, ups and downs, and forbidden love. They really are great and I recommend them to people who liked the Twilight series (though I think I might like these better!). They are currently looking at making a movie or a series of movies based on these books, but I'm not sure where in the process they are. The rights have been sold, but I don't know if they have a studio yet.
The next series is a spin-off of Vampire Academy. The first book is called Bloodlines. It is set in the same world as Vampire Academy, but doesn't follow Rose anymore. She makes a guest appearance, though! Only the first book is out so far, and I really enjoyed it. It follows some of the secondary characters from the first series, but is narrated by Sydney Sage, who we originally met in Blood Promise. Sydney is an Alchemist, a human trained to hide the vampire world from the rest of humanity. Bloodlines also follows Adrian Ivashkov, Jill Mastrano, and Eddie Castile. They have all been relocated to Palm Springs to hide and protect Jill. It's very interesting being able to stay with characters we've known, but follow them from a different angle and from a very different perspective. Sydney has deep-rooted religious beliefs that vampires are evil, but she can't seem to hate them as most of her fellow Alchemists do.
I really like the spin-off and can't wait to see what happens to Sydney. The next book is The Golden Lily, and it comes out in May 2012.
I found this next series because Richelle Mead recommended it. It is usually called the Jane True series, by Nicole Peeler. In her everyday life, Nicole is a literature professor, which brings a distinctly intellectual twist to her books. The books follow Jane True through her realization that she is a half-human half-selkie creature who has extraordinary power. Selkies, in the old sailor myths, are seals that come to land and shed their skins to become beautiful women who seduce sailors. It has also been said that if someone steals the selkie skin, the selkie is bound to that person. Jane's mother was a selkie, but not like the myths. She was a shape-shifter, who came to land, became a woman, fell in love with Jane's human father, and then stayed a human for 6 years before she left to go back to the sea. Jane has inherited an incredible swimming ability from her selkie mother, but doesn't change into one, she always has human form.
There are many different types of "people" in Nicole's books. Ryu is a vampire, Anyan is a barghest, Nell is a gnome, Trill is some sort of water pony... It goes on and on. Their world is very complicated and I'm sure I'd massacre it if I tried to summarize it here. You'll just have to read them! There are currently four books out - Tempest Rising, Tracking the Tempest, Tempest's Legacy, and Eye of the Tempest. The fifth book, Tempest's Fury will be released in Spring 2012, and there is a planned sixth book, too.
Just like with Richelle, I researched Nicole Peeler on her website. She also seemed very funny and she invited people to friend her on facebook. Very different from those authors who have a professional facebook page that you just "like". I friended Nicole and then wrote on her page how much I liked her books and why I liked them. She actually wrote back!!! I've since had a few short correspondences with her and it shocks me every time - to have that kind of contact with an author you really like!
Nicole was recently in Denver for a convention of some sort. After the convention she did a group signing at a small independent book store. Even though all the books I had were on my kindle, I really wanted to meet her and get her autograph, so I bought the first book and went down there. She was just as funny in person and I loved hearing her and the other authors talk about their lives, writerly problems, and what is coming up for them and their characters. It was a really small event, so we all got to talk to the author(s) of our choice for a couple minutes. It was an honor to meet Nicole, and she even complimented me on my necklace!
This next series of books I was turned on to because I met the author at the signing Nicole was at! Her books sounded intriguing and she was very funny as well. These are called the Southern Witch series, by Kimberly Frost. Kimberly Frost is a fake name for the author. I forgot what her real last name is, but she doesn't use it because there is also a porn star with that name and she didn't wan't people confusing the two of them. Kimberly is a physician in her everyday life, which is interesting because these two professions don't usually go together.
There are three books in the series, Would-Be Witch, Barely Bewitched, and Halfway Hexed. They follow Tammy Jo Trask, a witch, as she discovers her true powers. My absolute favorite part of these books are Tammy's interactions with her "cat", and ocelot named Mercutio. I love him! Other characters are Tammy's police officer ex-husband Zach , and her maybe-love-interest Bryn Lyons, a fellow witch she has been warned to stay away from. Tammy gets into all sorts of trouble as she's figuring out her powers. The books are not set over a long period of time, all of the action happens over a week or so. I did find myself wishing that there was more time between the books so that something more would have happened to the characters or their development. But each book picks up right where the last one ended. But they are good, fun, easy reading. I also wish I had actually bought the books instead of getting them on my kindle. I really like the artwork on the covers, and they aren't included on the kindle versions. (The Jane True books have the covers on the kindle version, though obviously they aren't in color.) Here are the other covers:
If you need something new to read, I hope you check out these books. They're all great!!!