People had recommended Janet Evanovich's "Stephanie Plum" novel series to me before; my hairdresser being one. I'd resisted them, mainly because when I read the jacket blurbs they sounded so wacky, and I'm not really a fan of wacky. Or, I don't know, maybe I am, but I think maybe the sounded like the kind of southern-fried wacky that I'm definitely not a fan of. Like Fannie Flagg, maybe, or the cozy mysteries that are just too far off the top, and reading the jacket copy of the Plum series--Grandma Mazur and Lula and Ranger and Diesel--makes them sound awfully silly.
I guess, like anyone, I have my own standards of what kind of things I read, and what I would consider wacky. I'm sure my reading style would be considered very wacky by a lot of people. I like vampire or werewolf novels that don't take themselves too seriously--I love Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse "Southern Vampire" books, and I used to love Laurel K. Hamilton's books until they turned into softcore porn. A recent favorite is Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson series. Mercy is a werewolf (actually a "walker") who owns an automobile repair business. Another favorite series is Kim Harrison's "The Hollows" series about Rachel Morgan, a witch who, along with her living-vampire partner Ivy and sidekick Jenks the pixie, runs a private detective service in Cincinnati.
Oh, and Julie Kenner's "Demon Hunting Soccer Mom" series about a woman who gave up her demon hunting vocation to become a suburban mom, but is dragged back into that world again and again. I've also read a couple of Kenner's young adult books, "The Good Ghoul's Guide to Getting Even" and "Good Ghouls Do," both dealing with a teenage vampire and how she deals with her day to day existence.
And I guess I should mention the Twilight series, of course, although really, those are more teen angst than vampire novel, although I confess I still haven't made my way through the first one. I have all four of them on my iPhone in both ebook and audio book form, I just need to get through them . . .
Anyway, Stephanie Plum. It's one of those times when I'm truly happy to never have read a series, because of the run I'm having going through it now. I've been listening to the audio books of the series all summer. I started with "Seven Up" in June, just finished "Finger Lickin' Fifteen," and am currently listening to "Plum Spooky," a "between the Plums" book, all of which have been devoted to specific holidays ("Plum Lovin'" for Valentine's Day, "Plum Lucky" for St. Patrick's Day, and "Visions of Sugar Plums" for Christmas). Being a huge fan of fiction set at Christmas time, I had listened to the Christmas one a year or so ago, and enjoyed it, but just never got into the whole series until now.
Reading some of the reviews on Amazon, I see that a lot of people criticize the novels, saying that they're "all the same." Frankly, I kind of like that. I like the familiarity of the characters, and the comfort of knowing, more or less, what's going to happen. You can be pretty sure that one or more of Stephanie's cars will either catch fire or blow up, that she'll either move in with Joe or move out, that Grandma Mazur will cause a scene at the funeral home, and that Ranger will come to her rescue at least once, and she still won't sleep him.
I still have the first six to read or listen to, but they're not narrated by the same person (Lorelei King), so I'll probably just read them rather than listening. After three months of non-stop Lorelei King as Stephanie Plum, I don't think I could listen to someone else.
I was looking at the Audible.com website tonight and see that Ms. King also narrates the Mercy Thompson books, which was a nice surprise. Maybe I'll spend my next Audible credit on one of them.
Here are the release dates for some of the series books that I'm looking forward to in the coming months:
- Rough Country - John Sandford - 9/29/09
- A Touch of Dead - Charlaine Harris - 10/6/09
- Demon Ex Machina - Julie Kenner - 10/6/09
- Evidence - Jonathan Kellerman - 10/6/09
- Nine Dragons - Michael Connelly - 10/13/09
- Grave Secret - Charlaine Harris - 10/27/09
- U is for Undertow - Sue Grafton - 12/1/09
- Black Magic Sanction - Kim Harrison - 2/23/10
- Silver Borne - Patricia Briggs - 3/30/10
- Changes - Jim Butcher - 4/6/10