Top Ten Sequels Looking Forward To:

This is a belated Top 10 Tuesday generated by The Broke and the Bookish: What are the top 10 sequels you’re looking forward to reading now? This one is hard for me, but I think I’ve managed:

1. Untold by Sarah Rees Brennan, sequel to Unspoken (https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2012/09/28/unspoken-the-lynburn-legacy/)
kami

2. Copperhead by Tina Connolly, sequel to Ironskin (https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2013/09/19/ironskin/)
Ironskin-cover

3. Merlin by Jane Yolen, the last book in her Merlin trilogy.

4. xo Orpheus: 50 New Myths edited by Kate Bernheimer (http://www.amazon.com/xo-Orpheus-Fifty-New-Myths/dp/0143122428)
-I am counting this as a sequel/companion book to her anthology of new fairy tales called “My Mother, She Killed Me, My Father, He Ate Me” which is fantastic.

5-9. The Prince’s Doom by David Blixt, sequel to Master of Verona (https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2012/06/06/the-master-of-verona/), Voice of the Falconer (https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2012/06/09/voice-of-the-falconer/), and Fortune’s Fool (https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2012/06/20/fortunes-fool/)

-This counts as 5-9 because, while The Prince’s Doom is the only title of a sequel I know, David Blixt himself has assured me, in comments on the Master of Verona review, that the series will continue for at least 4 books after that and naturally, I am looking forward to all of them.

>10. The Four Emperors by David Blixt, sequel to Colossus: Stone and Steel (https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2012/09/20/colossus-stone-and-steel/)
-Again, there are at least 2 more books after this in the series-that have titles already even!- because David Blixt is an outrageously prolific author, and I am just behind. Grad school will do that.

So, hah! I have made it to 10 AND BEYOND, thanks to Blixt’s complex plotlines which really deserve and need so many books to tell.
So, what’s in your reading queue?

The Iron Queen (Daughters of Zeus #3)

The Iron Queen (Daughters of Zeus #3)

By: Kaitlin Bevis

(http://kaitlinbevis.com/)

Published by: Euterpe (2013)

A young adult fantasy review

 

(Reviews of Daughters of Zeus #1 here: https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2013/08/07/persephone-daughters-of-zeus-1/

and Daughters of Zeus #2 here: https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2013/08/24/daughter-of-earth-and-sky-daughters-of-zeus-2/)

 

Finally, Zeus’s endgame is nigh, in all its horror.  The remaining gods cluster together to try and outwit him, while Persephone simply tries to hold on to herself.  The longer she lives under Zeus’s power, the less clear her mind becomes.  Yet, Persephone must keep some rules clear, or all the realms will fall to the mercy of this divine madman.

The Iron Queen differs from its predecessors by switching from Persephone’s perspective to those of Aphrodite and Hades in order to keep the reader apprised of all the action.  This ensemble approach quickens the pace and intensity with a variety of emotions and plans, making it more difficult to predict the outcome.  With her own voice, Aphrodite recasts her history so neatly that she nearly steals the book.  The new deities introduced in this work interact plausibly in modern roles while still maintaining their mythic essences and ferocity.  All of Bevis’s rules for divine interactions and abilities play together naturally, renewing these characters and drawing the reader into this world by removing the usual distance between the ordinary and divine.  This last work really is the culmination of all Bevis’s ploys to convince readers that the Greek gods truly belong in modern times.

The Iron Queen is the climax of battle between desperate, frightened gods, and as such it is filled with cruelty, confusion, bitterness, and vulnerability.  This book offers more suspense and action than the previous two, with less romance.  This is definitely the darkest of the series and feels heavier, but that brutality shores up Persephone’s world by balancing the supernatural nature of her story with equally harsh consequences.  It brings this story home to the reader and makes the aftermath that much more cathartic, as all Greek tales should be.  It’s engrossing.

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Similar Posts:

-https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2013/05/15/winterling-by-sarah-prineas-review/

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Civilizing Frances (The Mad Hatterlys #3)

Civilizing Frances (The Mad Hatterlys #3)

By: Marguerite Butler

(http://www.amazon.com/Marguerite-Butler/e/B004SUR0FG/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1)

Musa Publishing October 2011

A regency romance novel review

 

(Reviews of The Mad Hatterlys #1 here: https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2012/09/09/compromising-prudence-the-mad-hatterlys/

And of The Mad Hatterlys #2 here: https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2013/06/12/becoming-mr-brooking-the-mad-hatterlys/)

 

Every girl’s first London season is nerve-wracking.  For a girl raised in the country with the same pursuits and athleticism as five brothers, it’s stifling.  When that country girl is one of the “Mad Hatterlys,” it’s downright disastrous.  Used to going her own way, Frances finds herself both at war with the Duke of Ainsley, and compromised by him.  The scandal must end in her marriage or her exile from society.  A man of honor, Ainsley surrounds Frances with eligible suitors…So why do they constantly seem drawn to each other?

With daggers drawn right from the start, Frances and Ainsley make a stickier pairing that in the previous Hatterly books, with Frances matching her unorthodox ways and physical prowess against the Duke’s authoritative respectability.  Frances acts younger than her years while Ainsley acts older.  The heroine knowing from the start that the hero will have to propose to her wrenches Civilizing Frances out of the usual groove of eccentric heroines paired with eligible bachelors, with side characters twisting this into more of an ensemble story.  The focus on how the main characters grow through their relationships with others, as well as each other, really brings this book to life and invites the reader to care about all these people outside of the love story.

All in all, this is a large caramel pretzel of a book, with a smoothing dose of sweet caramel bringing the expected fluffy finish to an unusually salty and bumpy romance.

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Daughter of Earth and Sky (Daughters of Zeus #2)

Daughter of Earth and Sky (Daughters of Zeus #2)

By: Kaitlin Bevis

(http://kaitlinbevis.com/)

Published by: Euterpe (December 2012)

A young adult fantasy review

 

(Review of Daughters of Zeus #1 here: https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2013/08/07/persephone-daughters-of-zeus-1/)

 

Persephone’s victory over Boreas proves short-lived.  Suddenly, a siren of a sister goddess rises and Persephone is saddled with acclimating Aphrodite.  Persephone’s realization of her powers causes friction with both Demeter and Melissa.  Zeus poses an increasing threat.  And no one can declare war on a deity quite like the god of death.  The stakes keep getting higher and Persephone finds herself sacrificing everything.  Will there be anything left to salvage in the end?

Daughter of Earth and Sky takes readers steadily further into the dark side of mythology.  No longer playing with the safe, familiar stories, Bevis thrusts Persephone straight into the world of endless appetites, divine demands for sex, death, and cruelty.  The effects feel much more immediate when you don’t already know at least the frame for the story.  Persephone acquits herself well, without losing her accessibility or plausibility.  The plot turns just fast enough so that predictions don’t overshadow the suspense.  The romance between Hades and Persephone turns easily with the story, a key part of the plot rather than gratuitous fluff.

In short, Daughter of Earth and Sky is the exemplary second book: new elements are introduced without encroaching on the old, obstacles are overcome to the point of facing the ultimate danger without giving away anything about the climax, characters experience real growth, romance reaches a level of satisfaction to offset the unfinished plotlines, and you want to read the next one.  Particularly because this book ended so abruptly.  If Persephone refreshed the roots for spring, Daughter of Earth and Sky grew the story’s stem.  Now we just need the blossom.

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Sever (Chemical Garden Trilogy #3)

 

Sever (Chemical Garden Trilogy #3)

By: Lauren DeStefano

(http://www.laurendestefano.com/)

Simon & Schuster February, 2013

A young adult dystopian review

 

 

Revived from Fever, Rhine needs to snatch at second chances-a second chance to be honest, a second quest to find Rowan, a second turn to find a situation she can live with before it’s her time to die.  With so much to do and so little hope, Rhine finds that her world is still filled with things that can break.

DeStefano’s lyrical prose draws you right back into the story where we left off, enhancing everything with its beauty.  The pacing moves differently than one would expect, but everywhere DeStefano took us was somewhere I felt we needed to be.  There were some plot points that were brushed past rather briskly, but the strength of Sever’s atmosphere and Rhine’s mentality held it together.  It worked for me because at the end of the day, The Chemical Garden Trilogy has never been about action.  It’s always focused on the human consequences-the coping, the confusion, the chaos.  I’ve seen several disappointed reviews about this book and I think it’s because DeStefano sticks so closely to her theme.  I think for many people this kind of dystopian work, at least at the end, is about wish fulfillment-we’d like to think we could fight and overcome even horribly depressing circumstances and overwhelming odds.  Alternatively, it’s about perspective-being wrenched into feeling that whatever life you’re living now is favorable in comparison.  Sever hits none of those usual notes.  The last of Rhine’s story is real and therefore, less than fully satisfying because we’re left with a lack of finality, tainted victories, and pure hope-not fulfilled and without the comfort of endings.

Unlike its predecessors, Sever has more of an ensemble cast than focusing solely on Rhine’s views.  This significantly altered the feel of the read and heightened this conclusion because there are now more people’s feelings to deal with and more overall to hope for.  DeStefano made bold decisions with this book and I believe she left me feeling exactly how she intended me to.  Sever brings this series around from sex and death to the realization that life takes every bit as much effort and anguish and courage.  Rules break, people change, and we live surrounded by things that Sever.  I’d say this book is well worth the time.

‘Luka and the Fire of Life’ review

Luka and the Fire of Life

By: Salman Rushdie

(http://www.salman-rushdie.com/)

Random House 2010

A middle grade fantasy review

 

 

In this sequel to Haroun and the Sea of Stories (https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2012/05/05/167/) Luka, the second son of famous storyteller Rashid Khalifa, undertakes a magical adventure, just as he’s always longed to do.  Sadly, he finds his way to the magical lands because his father is trapped in an unshakable sleep.  If Luka cannot maneuver his way through the videogame-like obstacles of Rashid’s tales and bring back the Fire of Life, that sleep will fade into death.  Luka finds his way filled with beings from his father’s stories, including all the gods and goddesses of classical pantheons, a country of insulters, and the chilling guardians of time.  Luckily, Luka is not alone-his party includes a dancing bear (named Dog), a singing dog (named Bear), and a ghostly version of his father.  Plus, Luka’s garnered a few hundred lives to spare in this game…

Luka’s fragility and determination make him a very likeable hero.  It’s easy to root for a boy who faces off against everything with the same awareness and stubbornness, in spite of any bizarreness or trauma.  Rushdie’s turns of phrase paint delightful pictures of the World of Magic and supporting characters, also.  Unfortunately, this sequel lacks the creative fire of Haroun and the Sea of Stories.  Luka’s quest is overshadowed by Rushdie’s attempt to explicitly connect it to the modern world, increasingly bogged down with incessant references rather than original creations, and lacking the enchantment that accompanied its predecessor.  While both books begin with a serious problem and end in its sudden cure, it is far more jarring this time around.  Haroun’s tale had the zest and fairy-tale spirit to carry it off, whereas Luka’s simulation is too obviously a self-aware, coping mechanism, as well as needing an additional forced plotpoint to carry it off.  Moreover, Haroun’s quest had plenty of other new things to discover that the final ending felt simple and right.  Luka’s mission is always totally focused on one thing instead of finding another purpose and feels more like an episodic resume of Rushdie’s mythical thoughts than a whole story that flows on its own.

In short, I feel like Luka and the Fire of Life was Rushdie writing as the learned Rashid Khalifa, rather than the actual hero or the readers.  Perhaps Rashid, with his onstage presence and magical voice could have given this tale that spark of life, without that there’s a disconnect.  This book still has a lot to enjoy.  But basically, Rushdie can do better.

The King Stag (The John Swale Chronicles)

The King Stag (The John Swale Chronicles #2)
By: David Pilling
(http://pillingswritingcorner.blogspot.com/)
Musa Publishing 2012
an historical fiction review

 

The King Stag comes as a dramatic one-act play following the detailed plots that schemed through Folville’s Law.  It’s been four years since Isabella and Mortimer invaded England.  Now Edward III has decided to wrest the absolute power that should be his into his grasp.  However, The King Stag needs more than a coup to assert his kingship, particularly when other royals enter the picture.

This sequel effectively uses Edward III to push readers forward in time and tie up loose ends.  A very brief work, it resets the stage for the next long interlude without losing excitement or momentum.  By pulling the audience away from personal points of view, this work acts as a teaser trailer by touching on the intimate and emotional aspects of the characters without delving into them.  It’s a well-written advertisement that will keep readers reaching for the series.

The Master of Verona

David Blixt,
The Master of Verona
(St. Martin’s Press, 2007)

 

Finally, five years later, the two sequels to this book have been released!  It’s been so long they came out at the same time, together with the republishing of The Master of Verona as an ebook.  All are available and I cannot wait to dive, FINALLY, into the new material!  However, it has been five years, so first I reread this one.  I can not tell you that even knowing the ending and answers to the mystery, this book loses none of its power.  Best of all, now I can go straight on to Voice of the Falconer without waiting.  Hurrah!


The ambitions and fears of the Italian city-states of the 1300s have become so fierce and entangled that people look toward the stars and prophecies to find the man who can save Italy. Pietro Alighieri knows his father, Dante, believes that man to be Cangrande della Scala, the “Great Hound” who is The Master of Verona; and Pietro is about to meet him.

A wanderer with his exiled father, Pietro never felt the rigors of battle, or realized how far loyalty could push him. Yet, within days of his arrival in Verona he finds himself following others into war and making decisions that will keep him in the thick of it. Unbeknownst to Pietro, other choices will also place him in the midst of one of the most famous conflicts of all time: the feud behind the story of Romeo & Juliet.

Like Shakespeare, Blixt doesn’t just lay down his scenes, he masters them. The pacing is practically flawless, an amazing feat for a debut novel, but perhaps to be expected of a Shakespearian actor and director. Blixt offers each character a moment for sympathy, to be understood, but allows no one’s passion to overpower the momentum of his book. What readers need to know they find out with no confusion or overlong expositions, in defiance of the complicated details of the plot. Blixt also provides a level of intricacy in his combat scenes that gives them an intensity, a vibrancy that’s both rare and spectacular.

From envisioning his historical characters brilliantly and imbuing them with so much strength that readers can feel their presence even after the final page, to refashioning Shakespeare’s famed entities so cleverly that the details seem truly their own, Blixt’s cast demands both attention and emotion. It is not difficult to remember individual personalities in spite of the large number of characters and the varying titles accorded some of them. What is difficult is having to wait for the sequel, The Voice of the Falconer to arrive this fall.

Be wary of thinking a knowledge of Shakespeare will prepare you for all of the twists in store, as this story turns around mystery as well as fate. Moreover, the bard shares the page with Dante’s Inferno and its effects, which inevitably leads to literary analysis. Peppered with literary references, the historical stage of Verona’s golden age remains the prominent theme.  Here politics claim precedence even over love, where Blixt’s book treads rather lightly for a novel inspired by Shakespeare’s most renowned romantic tragedy. A genuine pleasure to read, The Master of Verona takes a city at the height of its power and breathes life through it from Hell to the stars.

Bitterblue

Okay, we need to talk about Kristin Cashore’s Bitterblue.  Which is to say, this is a book that needs to be talked about, so right off the bat Miss Cashore has already won.  Apart from that, this is a different book to not only Graceling and Fire, but also other books in its genre.  It is special, or graced.

The last king of Monsea was graced with the ability to alter people’s minds, to alter their memories and perceptions, to make them do whatever he wanted-and King Leck wanted a great many vile things.  Over 35 years, he brought agonies of all kinds to everyone in his kingdom.  After his killing, his 10-year-old daughter Bitterblue ascended the throne.  Now it is eight years later and Bitterblue wants to assume the true power and purpose of a queen, rather than relying on the advisers who ran the kingdom for her as a child.  But Bitterblue isn’t sure what her kingdom needs from their queen.  How can she take her true power when she knows she isn’t being told about the present?  When she cannot get clarity about all that really happened under the reign of her father, even in her own foggy memories?  When her friends’ Council begin altering the politics and balance of power in the Seven Kingdoms, making the future dangerous?

Bitterblue’s story is different from other heroines.  She undergoes not one great journey, but dozens of curving, creeping quests that tangle around all she needs to know.  Bitterblue must explore her city, cope with her past, encounter first love’s sparks, learn who she truly is, and decide how to fit it all together so Monsea can finally heal.  Through a labyrinth of secrets and lies, Bitterblue strives to find truth, history, and good, but above all, she wants the ability to make things, everything, or just something, better.

Bitterblue’s world is complicated.  It moves with a depth and a realness that gives this story force.  Some may say ‘slow’, but that’s only looking at things from one angle.  As a mystery Bitterblue might be disappointing, even with all its twists.  As a fantasy novel, this work is short on action, villains, and glitter.  As a romance, it certainly falls by the wayside, particularly considering Cashore’s previous works.  For those who want an epic, graceful conclusion to the series the end does come quickly and without really tidying things up.  As a whole, living, breathing tale, Bitterblue’s world makes sense.  It pulls you in, it intrigues you, it comforts you, it moves you, and it includes a lot of things to both love and deplore.  Bitterblue is strong enough to lend something to those working through their own wounds and memories, while never bypassing or sugar-coating the pain or problems that come with that work.  Bitterblue is a strong book to send out into the world, and its satisfaction waits for those who want to find it, who want something deep, and dark, and awful, and beautiful.  Those who just want to read a well-written story, or to follow along on someone else’s adventures might not be able to find it.  That does not mean it is not there.

Extra thoughts:

-I wish people would stop complaining about the romance.  It wasn’t a romance, was it?  It was attraction, affinity, and a physical waking up.  All that was written beautifully.  I found it perfectly believable that this is what happened for Bitterblue, and I felt the boy was the right person for her to experience that with.  Also, just think what Katsa would say to characterizing her story just as a romance, or rejecting Bitterblue for the reason that she’s not really about getting a partner!  Spoilers: I understand that during the actual events of Bitterblue Giddon’s calm support is much more what she needed, but come on.  That does not equal romance.  Besides, what would a young girl actually want at that time?  Saf is someone she figured out herself, someone she could play with parts of her identity with and allow herself to explore new feels more freely, someone she could act forceful around-could slap, and fight, and know herself to make mistakes without it overwhelming her because he, after all, asked for it.  As a first-attraction/crush Saf works splendidly.  Yes, I see that Giddon/Bitterblue ship makes a lot of sense for her ultimate marriage and partnership, but a big part of this is that she is so not there yet.  It’s all okay.  Moreover, I remember having a much more adverse reaction to Giddon in Graceling than I ever did with Saf.  Saf’s issues stem from a strong sense of independence, where Giddon’s were more about patriarchal values and possessiveness.  Not to mention, if Giddon can improve so much in eight years, if Saf does come back after awhile, who’s to say he won’t exactly fit the picture of a good husband for Bitterblue by then?  Not that I’m advocating that, or think it should happen-I much prefer him as just the first love who must be lost.  Still, though, Giddon…I don’t see any real chemistry there.  Don’t forget, the reason she decided to talk truthfully to him was because she did not expect to be too close.

-I am incredibly jealous of Saf’s grace.

-I loved each and every connection toFire.  I loved how it was so integral to the story.

-Po’s story felt wonderful, and I love him, but he did start to feel a little too much like a plot device in there.  That’s my main nitpick with the book, actually.

-Katsa/Po from the outside is pretty much exactly like I expected it to be.  I wish I’d been a little bit surprised in there, somewhere.

-I adore Hava and want some sort of extra story or journal or, actually, make that an illustrated book of works for Bellamew.  Who doesn’t want to see those sculptures???  Get on it!

-Also, I’ve grown incredibly fond of Death and his Lovejoy. Spoilers: So much, in fact, that when the fire that burnt the journals happened my main concern was how upset it would make Death.

Spoiler: Brigan’s daughter must be running the whole Dell Army!  Hurrah!  That little detail made me happy.

Spoiler: How come we never find out for certain whether the pocketwatch does tell Dellian time or not?

Spoiler: Why is paint what Leck would use to try to ‘destroy’ sculptures?  Aren’t there chisels or sledge hammers or crow bars?  We know Leck was adept at swinging knives around, surely he could extrapolate.  I half expected them to find out that he wasn’t really trying to ruin them, but was trying to make them look like Dellian monsters by adding the bright colors.

-In my head Raffin and Bann ultimately live in two rooms: one full of medicines and experiments and the other full of buttered crumpets and other fluffy things, of edible and furniture varieties.

Spoiler: The person whose lies I was most upset about in this whole thing were Holt’s.  The other culprits were made very clear early on.  While Holt’s involvement was also pretty obvious it was not clear that he was involved willingly for so long, and he was so good and…fragile all the time.  I felt like his struggles were some of the clearest and they touched me more than a lot of other ones.  I am incredibly glad that he was the first one to receive a new Bitterblue task.

-I like Fox.  Wouldn’t it be interesting to get a side tale about her in her family life?