'Book Series Recaps' Helps Readers Catch Up on Their Faves

Posted by Marie on November 10, 2018

Need a refresher on your favorite series? Book Series Recaps is a site that helps readers remember previous installments with detailed, spoiler-packed summaries of some of the most popular YA, fantasy, and science fiction titles. Since its launch in 2015, it's now grown to include book reviews, book theories, and a newsletter.

The site is led by blogger duo and Goodreads members Sara Watterson and Stacy Haddock, who spoke with us to share their tips for keeping track of a series' major twists and turns, writing a stellar book review, and more.

Goodreads: Tell us how Book Series Recaps got started.

Sara Watterson: Book Series Recaps popped into my head a few years ago when, after reading the first book in a series, I decided to jot down a quick recap to save for later. When the time came to read it, I remember thinking, "Surely I’m not the only person in the world who would like to read this?"

I was a web designer in the past, so setting up a site to post it on was no big deal. I asked Stacy to help me, and she agreed! We’ve also slowly added things like a quarterly newsletter, book reviews, and a section for writers (we’re also both aspiring authors).

GR: We have a lot of readers who are invested in long book series. What are your tips for writing a good recap so that they can refresh their memories?

Sara Watterson and Stacy Haddock: Our best advice is to take notes as you read. Don’t wait until you finish the book to try to remember everything that happened. Also, keep the recap as short as possible without losing too much detail.

The most challenging thing is making ourselves put the book down to take notes after each chapter. Especially with our favorite series, it’s really hard to stop right in the middle of the action to type up notes about what we just read.

GR: What tips can you share with our readers for good note-taking?

SW and SH: We take notes in every way you can imagine. We dictate them into our phones to be transferred to our computers later. We sit at our computers and peck out a summary of the last couple of chapters we’ve read. And yes, we have typed many, many notes into our phones with our thumbs.

Our main tip is don’t get too far behind on your notes. It’s an arduous process to catch back up. Sometimes it happens: We get so engrossed in the story that we refuse to hit "pause" to summarize what we just read. And then we pay for it as we have to skim back through many chapters to get our notes down and make sure we didn’t miss anything.

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GR: Since many of our members are also passionate about their reviews, what advice do you have about writing one?

SH: My advice on writing a review?

(1) Don’t read anyone else's review before writing your own. I LOVE reading other bloggers' reviews, but I do so after writing mine because I don’t want their thoughts or opinions to sway me in any way. I want my reviews to be wholly my own.

(2) Find a formula that works and stick with it. At Book Series Recaps, we decided to keep our reviews fairly brief, thus our moniker "Rapid Reviews." We start off with a couple of general opinions and follow with a short spoiler-free summary of the story. Then we address the things we liked and disliked and conclude with whether we recommend the book. Our readers can expect this format each time they click on one of our reviews.

Goodreads: How many recaps are currently on your site, and what genres do you cover?

SW and SH: We have almost 100 recaps and more than 80 reviews posted to date. Since there are only two of us (with a few guest bloggers here and there), our recaps and reviews stick to the genres we love the most: [YA], fantasy, and sci-fi.

GR: Your site has been such a lifesaver for many of our readers! Was there any feedback that touched or surprised you?

SW: We never dreamed so many [readers] would find it useful! We get tons of thank-yous, and we appreciate every single one.

SH: Interacting with authors on social media has also been exciting! Here are a few of my favorite memories from Twitter:

  • Cassandra Clare retweeted a link to my review of Lady Midnight, and it was my first interaction with a big-time author. I was literally jumping up and down in my kitchen when I saw the notification on my phone.

  • Victoria Schwab tweeted a link to one of our recaps before A Conjuring of Light was released, and I couldn’t believe she even knew our recaps were out there.

  • Leigh Bardugo responded on Twitter after I got starstruck and messed up my question when I met her in person at a Crooked Kingdom book signing. She was so funny and down to earth, by the way. I love her and her books!

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GR: What were some of your favorite series to recap and why?

SW: Favorite to recap? Ha! I don’t actually like writing recaps, but I do like to read them when the next book comes out!

SH: My favorite two series to recap so far have been The Dark Artifices by Cassandra Clare and Shattered Realms by Cinda Williams Chima.

Both Clare and Chima are great at building intrigue and raising questions early on in their stories, so I developed theories after the first books in Lady Midnight and Flamecaster were released. I could talk about books and book theories for hours, so typing up my thoughts and then hearing from our readers about theirs has been awesome!

GR: In the YA world, there’s certainly no shortage of delightful series to dive into. Are there any trends or changes that you’ve noticed over time?

SW and SH: A wonderful trend we are seeing is more diversity in both authors and characters. Books are a great tool for learning about other people and cultures.

On another note, we think the face of YA is changing because so many adults are reading these series thanks to J.K. Rowling, Suzanne Collins, Stephenie Meyer, and the like. So YA books are becoming more and more like new adult or occasionally even adult fiction.

Because of this, we recently started a Clean Reads section on the website. It’s a place where librarians, parents, or anyone can find clean reads for young teens. Hopefully our list will assist young teens who have outgrown middle-grade books but who aren’t ready for mature YA. We want to keep them excited about reading and help them find great books!

GR: There have been so many new highly anticipated sequels this year! Which recent titles would you recommend that our readers devour?

SW and SH: This is a dangerous question; we want to mention so many! We love the Red Rising saga by Pierce Brown, Arc of a Scythe by Neal Shusterman, and Villains by Victoria Schwab. If you haven’t read the 2018 releases in these three series (or haven’t read these series at all), we HIGHLY recommend them.

Other 2018 releases we’ve enjoyed are Children of Blood and Bone, The Cruel Prince, Stormcaster, Legendary, Reign of Mist, and Wildcard. And yes, we have recaps of the previous books in each of the series we’ve mentioned if you need a refresher before diving into the new release.

    If you're a series fan like our friends at Book Series Recaps, here are some other tools to help you keep track of what you're reading on Goodreads:

  • Kindle Notes and Highlights can help you refer back to the notes that you made "in the margins" of your Kindle ebooks, while also giving you the ability to share your notes with friends.

  • Custom Bookshelves can help you organize your favorite series by sorting them on a separate Goodreads shelf.

  • While writing a book review on Goodreads, you can always store and save your thoughts in a "Private Notes" section toward the bottom of the book's review page.

What are your favorite series? Let us know in the comments!

Comments Showing 1-18 of 18 (18 new)

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message 1: by Sara (new)

Sara The notes option on my kindle has been invaluable when it comes to writing reviews later. My memory is getting so bad, that I rely on it to jog my thoughts on the plot etc. and what my opinions and emotions were at that time.

message 2: by MD (new)

MD What a great idea! I’ve been putting off reading the 3rd book in a trilogy because I’m afraid I won’t be able to follow what’s going on without rereading the first two (thick) books.

message 3: by Elise (new)

Elise Always wanted something like this.

message 4: by Andi (new)

Andi Recaptains.co.uk is also a great resource. I went there before reading #2 in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series.

message 5: by charles (new)

charles james The notes alternative on my encourage has been significant with regards to composing audits later. My memory is getting so awful, that I depend on it to run my considerations on the plot and so on and what my conclusions and feelings were around then restaurants in karachi

message 6: by Cinda (new)

Cinda Love series books? Check these folks out! I wish I'd had this site when I was reading George RR Martin's Game of Thrones. With five years between books, I was hopeless. Thanks, Series Recaps!!

message 7: by Heraa (new)

Heraa Nasim When I started reading Legendary this year, I had to search for Caraval recap on Google. I don't remember which website I visited but yes, recaps are the best thing ever.
I have to yet finish last few books of Throne of Glass, I was following the series properly but then got distracted by Villians by Victoria Schwab and I am reading Crooked Kingdom these days. I am sure recap would come handy when I again pick up Throne of Glass but for now my next target is to read a stand alone novel or a non-fiction book next. :) One gotta balance out all genres.

Melissa ~ Missy (FrayedBooks) I absolutely LOVE Book Series Recaps and I'm so excited to see them featured on Goodreads! Their recaps really save me when I want to read book 2, or 3, or MORE in a series but don't have time to reread the previous ones - a real life saver!

message 9: by Rianonne (new)

Rianonne I was just over at Book Series Recaps and I love the site already!!
It will save me so much precious reading time because I don't have to re-read previous books :-)

message 10: by Chiara (new)

Chiara THANK YOU. I have so frequently over the years wished there was something like this. For the first time just last week I actually took notes after reading Thunderhead because I knew there was no way I'd remember all the points, and I've been not bothering to read the sequel of Warcross because I have no idea what happened.

message 11: by Rianonne (new)

Rianonne Chiara wrote: "THANK YOU. I have so frequently over the years wished there was something like this. For the first time just last week I actually took notes after reading Thunderhead because I knew there was no wa..."

Same here, same here - I was wondering when I can re-read Warcross (which I really enjoyed) when everyone else was reading the sequel already

message 12: by Saarah (last edited Nov 21, 2018 04:21PM) (new)

Saarah Niña I've never thought to do this! It's brilliant, I'm going to try and do this with books. I'd prefer to do it myself so I include all the things that are meaningful to me. More personal.

If I'm honest, I actually avoid series because I'm impatient or don't want to spend too long with the same story but also don't want to delay it and forget the story.... It's safe to say this may well change my reading life!

What I do at the moment, in case it helps anyone, is type up or write page numbers on a paper in a notebook of important/meaningful parts. Usually thoughtful ideas or a noteworthy line. This is why (fortunately!) the discipline required to write up recaps won't be so tedious for me! Does mean you take a little longer with a book, though. It's all part of my reading experience, I'd say.

message 13: by bjneary (new)

bjneary My fave series are many but MOST enjoyed are I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga, Montague Siblings by Mackenzi Lee, The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, All of V. E. Schwab series, Lux by Jennifer L Armentrout, The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles, The Remnant Chronicles by Mary Pearson, Rebel of the Sands by A Hamilton, His Fair Assassin by Robin LaFevers, And I Darken by Kiersten White, Brooklyn Brijas by Z Cordova, The Darkest Minds by A Bracken, Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry, The Reader by Traci Chee, Fire & Thorns by Rae Carson and also her Gold Seer Trilogy, and Sarah J Maas series---can you tell I love series?!?

message 14: by Matthew (new)

Matthew Manchester No "Wheel of Time" or "Mistborn" recaps? For shame.

Meg (queer_book_recs) I just read their recap of Empire of Storms the other day! I’d be lost without recaps! Now I need to find a good website that will tell me who characters are that I’ve forgotten about!

message 16: by Carla (new)

Carla recaptains.co.uk is another site that does this!

message 17: by Katarine (new)

Katarine Gontijo Calvinist wrote: "No "Wheel of Time" or "Mistborn" recaps? For shame."

I went after these too. I have no conditions of read the The Fires of Heaven without a recap, a podcast episode, or anything about the first four books.

Mistborn is still fresh, but until The Lost Metal, i will need some too.

message 18: by Elaine (new)

Elaine cripe I wanted to read the series "VIRGIN RIVER 20 bks so but don't think I would remember 1st bk. if it wasn't for this

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