Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Do I know you? Have we met before?

I gorged myself on Shelly Laurenston last month. I'd read a few of her "Pack" books (shapeshifters) previously and in June managed to get my hands on a few more. I'm usually a stickler for reading a series in order but apparenty these are very popular books and so I've been picking them up piecemeal.

The most recent book I read, "When He Was Bad" is actually two stories, one by Ms. Laurenston, and one by Cynthia Eden. Ms. Eden's story has Miranda Shaw as the heroine. She's a human who falls in love with a shapeshifter.

Here's where I'm confused: I thought Miranda Shaw was Mitch Shaw's sister? Mitch Shaw the lion. Am I wrong? Ms. Eden wouldn't write a story in the same book as Ms. Laurenston and use the name of one of Ms. Laurenston's characters, would she? (Okay, I just spent half a day meticulously going over Ms. Laurenston's website. I think Mitch's sister is Marissa, not Miranda. But still, that's pretty close, right?)

Which leads me to this: Do you have trouble keeping track of characters in a series? (Let's just not even mention Anita Blake, okay? I can't remember who's been where with her from one page to the next - with her books you'd need a diagram on those clear sheets so they can overlap each other)

Most series I'm okay, if it's the same basic characters recurring (for example, Charlaine Harris' Sookie books or Rachel Vincent's Shifter series). It's when the H/H switch in each book that I tend to get confused. Using Ms. Laurenston's books as an example, there's the lions (the Shaws, right?), the jackals, the wolves (the Van Holtz?), the wild dogs, the bears....I guess I should have read them all in order *sigh*, but I love these books and didn't want to wait!!! And each pack interacts with each other, so it's not like their in separate "worlds".

The other thing that gets me, obviously, is when the character names are similar. Don't give me an Alex, Aaron, and Andrew all in the same story. I just can't do it!!!!!!! I'm all "OMG, Yvette is sleeping with her boyfriend's cousin? No, wait, that isn't the cousin, it's the neighbor, no wait..oh, that IS her boyfriend. Oh, okay."

I wish authors would put diagrams of their characters relationships/families on their websites. Just sayin'. (I've actually seen one author do this but of course it was a series I didn't care for, damn it!)

How do you keep them straight? Do you really care or do you just enjoy the book you're reading at the moment and not worry about the rest? Are there any series that you just can't remember who's who?


  1. Oh yes! Robert Jordna's Wheel of time, each book introduces new people and now at book 12 I have gotten confused. luckily the books do have this thing at the book where you can look things up

  2. The only long series I read a lot of books was the Dark Hunters and I came late to PNR so read about 12 in a one month period. :-) It's easier to keep track when you read them all at once because it's still fresh, harder when you read books several months a part. But most of the time I just let it go and don't think about it too much.

  3. I love it when authors put family trees in their books-but honestly, I've only seen it with historical romances.

    I'm not familiar with the series you mentioned, but authors have been known to have guest spots by characters of other books-
    I'm thinking of Sara Donati mentioning Claire and Jamie Fraser in Into the Wilderness. I'm off to check out the series you mentioned-I'm on a shape shifter kick right now.

  4. Hahahaha! This is a great post! I've been reading Laurenston for a while (you're right the wolves are the Van Holtz's - as long as you're not talking about the Magnus Pack, because those are the H/H in other books of hers) but since I've been reading them in order I don't have too much trouble keeping everyone separate. And since I didn't really love Eden's piece in that particular anthology I didn't even pick up on the name similarities.

    I've found that the sometimes the best thing that an author can do for me as a reader is to put a family tree in the front of his/her books. Stephanie Laurens and Christine Feehan both do this for their most popular series and since both of those sets are at this point in the double digits, I really appreciate the reminders. Once I've gotten past the original family, there are only so many brothers/sisters-law, cousins, friends of the family, etc. that I'm going to be able to remember.

  5. If I find a series is too confusing, I stop reading it. :)

  6. I have troubles too with keeping up with characters.

    I gotta be honest though, sometimes I have troubles keeping up 'coz I have a tendency to "skim". Like in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. Couldn't tell you nothing about no lesser 'coz I skim to the sexy vampire parts.

  7. A diagram! What a fantastic idea! lol I have yet to read many series that have more than 8 books (I'm just starting on Kenyon and I'm not interested in Hamilton because of all the mixed things I have heard) so I haven't really run into memory issues yet. If I read too many similar books too quickly, I start to think one guy is doing something but then realize I'm thinking of a different book by a different author all together...

  8. Hmmm I think I read all Laurenston's Pack series) Mitch Shaw has two families with (half brother) Brenden(Brandon?) - Brandon has a twin which I thought was Miranda. Mitch also has a younger sister in Mane Squeeze whatshername (book with Lock the bear).

  9. I'm a stickler for reading series in order too Patti, most of the time. But I'm finding it does depend on the author. Lately I've mistakenly read a couple completely out of order and the books could really be a stand alone read so it's been okay.

    I just picked up Ms. Laurenston's first book in the pack series and will see how it goes. Thanks for the tip though, I'll be sure to read them in order.

  10. As a fantasy reader from way back, I am a total sucker for lists, diagrams, maps, family trees, etc, etc. Particularly useful when done in association with a series.

  11. I haven't read that many series with a lot of different characters, so I haven't really encountered this problem yet. Oh, wait there's one: Lorelei James's Rough Riders series. I checked the family tree on her website before I started the next book to refresh my memory! :) That was helpfull.