Top Ten Tuesday: Best Sequels

Top Ten Tuesday2

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is best sequels. Here are some books that I thought were just as good as (or even better) than the first book in the series:

The Queen of Attolia Final

The Queen of Attolia and The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner – I thought The Thief was a good book but I was stunned by how amazing these two sequels are. I’ve reread them several times but they never get old. Sigh, wonder when the next book in the series will come out?

A Coalition of Lions ebook

A Coalition of Lions, The Sunbird and The Mark of Solomon duology by Elizabeth Wein – As much as I love EWein’s writing, I don’t think The Winter Prince was for me. I’m so glad my introduction to her Lion Hunters series was through The Sunbird because I fell in love with it right away.

Son of the Shadows

Son of the Shadows by Juliet Marillier – Daughter of the Forest was such a lovely, lyrical read and I delighted to discover that the sequel is just as good. I think I may even like Liadan a little bit more than Sorcha.

Blood Challenge

Blood Challenge (book 7 in the World of the Lupi series) by Eileen Wilks – My favorite out of all the books that are currently out in this series! I loved how it kept surprising me right until the end.

Silver Shark

Silver Shark by Ilona Andrews – Novellas like this are the kind that you read in one sitting. I would love to see more books about this world.

Where She Went

Where She Went by Gayle Forman – I guess I was lucky that it took me a while to read Gayle Forman’s books because I got to read this together with If I Stay and I think it balances the story arc so well.

The rest of the books in my list are more companion novels rather than sequels, even though they were published after the first book.

Fire

Fire – Loved so many things in this novel: the characters, the romance, the setting and how unique monsters in this world are.

Piper US Aussie

The Piper’s Son – Together with Jellicoe Road, The Piper’s Son is my favorite Melina Marchetta novel. ALL THE FEELS!

The Chocolate Kiss

The Chocolate Kiss and The Chocolate Touch by Laura Florand – I think it’s great that each of the books in the Amour et Chocolat series has a different tone and feel, makes it much more fun to read them.

Down London Road

Down London Road by Samantha Young – Even better than the first book, this was such a good romance that started off with the two protagonists not even liking each other. Love-hate relationships FTW!

What about you, do you agree/disagree with any of my choices? Have you read sequels that are just as good or even better than the first book in a series? Feel free to share what those titles are.

Shoot That Book: Ritual Magic

Shoot That Book combines my passion for books and my tendency to become trigger happy with a camera. My lack of photography skills is compensated by my enthusiasm. Basically, I like taking pictures of books.

I haven’t done a Shoot that Book post in ages! I think that’s partly because I have been reading a lot on my Kindle lately so I haven’t had the opportunity to take nice pictures of books. Today’s shot is a Kindle edition so I apologize if it’s not that creative, there’s not much that I can do when taking pictures of ebooks. I’m currently reading Ritual Magic by Eileen Wilks, the tenth book in the World of the Lupi series:

Ritual Magic Kindle edition

I wanted to post this because it’s been more than three weeks since I started reading the first book in the series, Tempting Danger. Almost a month has passed! That’s quite a stretch, isn’t it? I feel like this series and I have been going steady so it seemed like a good idea to celebrate that by paying tribute Ritual Magic, which is the installment published this year. After I finish with this one, I have to wait ONE WHOLE YEAR for the next book. That will take some getting used to when I binged on books one to ten. Good thing I’ll have other books to distract me, huh? I’ll work on posting a review of the series as a whole when I’m done, I definitely need to convince more readers to pick this up.

September 2013 Releases

I don’t usually post releases per month but since there are several titles that I’m looking forward to in September, I wanted to talk about them here. All of these are books written by authors I’m familiar with, which is why I’m excited to read them.

Snow-KissedRitual MagicThe Dream ThievesWhere the Stars Still ShineShadows

September 1: Snow-Kissed by Laura Florand – I already have a galley of this but I haven’t read it yet so I wanted to include it in this list. Yay for a new Laura Florand novella!

Summary from Goodreads: After the utter destruction of her marriage and her happiness, Kai knew it was better to shut herself away from the world than to hurt and be hurt. Holed up in her mountain cabin, she planned to spend her Christmas alone. Until her not-quite-ex-husband shows up as the first flakes start to fall. Now should she send him back out into the cold? Or can she be brave enough to let this winter snow bind them back together?

September 3: Ritual Magic (World of the Lupi #10) by Eileen Wilks – You all know that I’ve been going through the World of the Lupi books the past few weeks. The tenth book has just been released! I’m still in the middle of the ninth book but I have a feeling I will be reading this one by the end of this week (or even earlier). Sigh, I don’t know what I’ll do when I have to wait another year for the next installment to be released.

Summary from Goodreads: On her 57th birthday, Lily’s mother suddenly loses all memory beyond the age of twelve. Lily knows her mother was attacked by something more than magic. More… and darker.

When Lily and Rule discover that others suffered the same, mysterious loss — at the same time on the same night—their investigation into the darkness begins. Joining them is someone Lily never thought she’d see again: Al Drummond, who once tried to destroy her. He also happens to be dead. But the mysterious attacks were caused by a power strong enough to affect matters beyond the world of the living.

With some victims losing years of memory and others their lives, Lily must discover what on earth — or beyond — connects them.

September 17: The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater – I have seen nothing but praises in the blogosphere about the sequel of The Raven Boys. I look forward to reading about Blue and the boys again.

Summary from Goodreads: Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same. Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after…

September 24: Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller – I really enjoyed reading Something Like Normal last year and I can’t wait to read Trish Doller’s latest. I’ve seen the snippets that she’s posted on Tumblr and they’ve made me look forward to this release.

Summary from Goodreads: Stolen as a child from her large and loving family, and on the run with her mom for more than ten years, Callie has only the barest idea of what normal life might be like. She’s never had a home, never gone to school, and has gotten most of her meals from laundromat vending machines. Her dreams are haunted by memories she’d like to forget completely. But when Callie’s mom is finally arrested for kidnapping her, and Callie’s real dad whisks her back to what would have been her life, in a small town in Florida, Callie must find a way to leave the past behind. She must learn to be part of a family. And she must believe that love – even with someone who seems an improbable choice – is more than just a possibility.

September 27: Shadows by Robin McKinley – I’m a big fan of Robin McKinley’s writing and I’m so excited she has a new book this year (even if it’s not the sequel to Pegasus, which I’m still anxiously waiting for). This is bound to be a good one.

Summary from Goodreads: Maggie knows something’s off about Val, her mom’s new husband. Val is from Oldworld, where they still use magic, and he won’t have any tech in his office-shed behind the house. But—more importantly—what are the huge, horrible, jagged, jumpy shadows following him around? Magic is illegal in Newworld, which is all about science. The magic-carrying gene was disabled two generations ago, back when Maggie’s great-grandmother was a notable magician. But that was a long time ago.

Then Maggie meets Casimir, the most beautiful boy she has ever seen. He’s from Oldworld too—and he’s heard of Maggie’s stepfather, and has a guess about Val’s shadows. Maggie doesn’t want to know . . . until earth-shattering events force her to depend on Val and his shadows. And perhaps on her own heritage.

In this dangerously unstable world, neither science nor magic has the necessary answers, but a truce between them is impossible. And although the two are supposed to be incompatible, Maggie’s discovering the world will need both to survive.

I’m looking forward to reading these! What about you, are you excited for any September releases?

Blood Lines by Eileen Wilks

Blood LinesBlood Lines is the third book in the World of the Lupi urban fantasy series by Eileen Wilks. The first two books are Tempting Danger and Mortal Danger. The series has to be read in order. It follows Lily Yu, a third generation Chinese immigrant in the States, working as a cop. The story in the books also revolves around Lily’s connection with Rule Turner, the heir of Nokolai, one of the dominant lupi clans in the world. I like reading about how they’re both changing and adapting to their lives. They’re both strong-willed and well-respected in their own circles and it’s fun to see both of them give way to the other person when the occasion calls for it. There’s also a strong need for both of them to protect each other, which is a difficult task considering the adventures that they get into. As I’ve mentioned in my reviews of the first two books, the series also highlights the complex relationships that both Lily and Rule have with their families. One of my favorite characters in the series is Lily’s grandmother, Li Lei Yu, and it’s such a delight to come across scenes that include her. In this installment, friends also play significant roles in the book’s plot. Cullen Seaborne and Cynna Weaver are as much a part of this story as Lily and Rule are. The former is Rule’s fellow lupus, who is a talented sorcerer while the latter is Lily’s co-worker who also has her own magical abilities. It may sound confusing to keep track of so many characters but keep in mind that this is already the third book and there has been enough time to introduce other characters and let readers get to know them.

I feel like the writing in the series keeps improving as I go along, which makes me look forward to the most recently published books. Eileen Wilks continues to build upon the world that she created, adding more layers to the setting that was initially introduced. There’s more information about the lupi as well as other magical beings in the world. Even though the characters are based in the United States, I like how the setting encompasses the rest of the world – e.g. not just the American lupi clans are represented in the books. Most of my downtime this past weekend was spent reading as much as I can of this series. I finished the first book before the weekend started and it’s Monday night and I’m currently in the middle of the fourth book. At this point, I feel like I’m just coming up for air so I can talk about the books. It’s challenging to keep these reviews spoiler-free (I haven’t mentioned details in the first two books that can be considered spoilers and I didn’t even include the synopsis for each) but I want more readers to give this series a try. I don’t know if I’m just in the right mood for a new urban fantasy series to follow but I find the World of the Lupi engaging. Maybe I can just write about the series as a whole after I finish reading all the novels that have been released. When I read a series as quickly as I’ve been doing with this one, the plots in each book start to blur together and it all becomes just one big story arc in my mind. Besides, I would rather dive straight into the next book rather than pause and gather my thoughts so I could write a review for the one that I just finished. It’s funny because when I finished the first book, I said there were too many books in the series. I have a feeling I’ll be able to finish all of them soon.

Mortal Danger by Eileen Wilks

Mortal DangerMortal Danger by Eileen Wilks is the second book in the World of the Lupi series. I started reading this one right after I read and reviewed Tempting Danger. Should the series be read in order? Yes, because we follow the same set of characters throughout the whole series and it would be too confusing if the books aren’t read according to how they were published. For the benefit of those who haven’t read the first book, I won’t be going into specifics to avoid bringing up spoilers. Even just the premise of the second book already has spoilers for the first one so skip reading that if you’d rather not know too much before going into the series. Before I get into anything else, I just have to comment on Mortal Danger’s cover because I’m really not a fan of it – all blue background with a fuzzy picture of a scowling guy. I don’t think it represents the contents of the book well, I’m not even sure who that guy in the background is supposed to be – Rule? Cullen? So if you’re being discouraged to try the book because of its cover then you can go ahead and ignore it. In this case, you really shouldn’t judge the book by its cover.

As the title of the series suggests, Eileen Wilks’ urban fantasy world does have werewolves in it. They’re more politely referred to as lupi (singular: lupus). And they’re not the only magical beings in this world. What makes the setting interesting is everything is changing as the series starts – lupi have recently been recognized as citizens (with human rights) instead of being hunted down as they used to be. They’re a very secretive bunch, as a result of their persecution in the past, and I keep reading because I want to know more about them. We do learn a little more about the lupi in the second book but there’s still more to their culture and history that can be explored. With all the changes happening in their lives, the main characters – Lily and Rule – grow as people. As a result, their relationship also develops. What I like about their connection is even though the physical bond is there, they still have to work on the emotional side and all the baggage that comes with it. Both of them are also big on family so their relatives play a big part in their relationship. That’s something that I feel will continue with the rest of the series.

“She wasn’t entertainment for him. He didn’t need her to make him laugh or bolster his ego or to figure him out so he wouldn’t have to. A lot of men who said they were looking for a relationship really wanted a combination sex buddy, therapist, and mirror.”

The romance is an important aspect of the series but there’s more to the books than Lily and Rule’s love story. That comes with the territory, given that they lead complicated lives because of their roles in society. I felt that the first book had a slower pace that what I’d usually like in my urban fantasy reads and I guessed that it was because it served as introduction to the series. I was partially correct because the second book had more action than the first one. However, there’s still a lot of explanation and speculation going on – people trying to figure out the unusual and unexpected things happening in their world and trying to come up with ways to adapt to them. And also to solve the problems that pop up along the way. I didn’t have much of a problem with the pace, I’m currently in the middle of the third book and I feel like I’ve gotten used to the writing. It helps that all those explanations help us readers to understand the world better and there are many details to like in this world. Not the least of which is Lily’s Chinese heritage and how her background and her family give the series an Asian flavor. I was also surprised at the direction that Mortal Danger took and like I keep saying, it’s a good thing when the book that you’re reading manages to surprise you. Everything got resolved in a very satisfying way but still left me hungry for the next installment. I recommend this series to fans of adult urban fantasy. As my friend Estara pointed out: the World of the Lupi was published before Kate Daniels, Mercy Thompson, the Alpha and Omega as well as the October Daye series. And yet it isn’t as well-known as all of those other novels. As I continue reading Eileen Wilks’ books, let’s see if I can try to convince more readers to pick them up too. They are definitely worth checking out.

Retro Friday: Tempting Danger by Eileen Wilks

Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Angie over at Angieville and focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc.

I have been meaning to read more urban fantasy because I want to find a series to follow aside from Kate Daniels. I’ve read the first three Mercy Thompson books and the first two October Daye novels but felt no need to continue with both series. I know so many friends love those two series and it makes me a bit sad that I wasn’t able to connect with them like I wanted. I might change my mind later on and give those two a try again but for now, I’m interested in discovering new-to-me series. The World of Lupi books by Eileen Wilks come highly recommended by Estara, she says it’s a must read for urban fantasy fans. It’s funny because I started the first book and immediate thought that it feels like a mix of both Mercy Thompson (werewolf hierarchy, culture and history) and October Daye (both MCs are investigating murders and they have special skills that come in handy for the situation).

Tempting DangerHere’s the summary from Goodreads:

Lily Yu is a San Diego police detective investigating a series of grisly murders that appear to be the work of a werewolf. To hunt down the killer, she must infiltrate the clans. Only one man can help her – a were named Rule Turner, a prince of the lupi, whose charismatic presence disturbs Lily. Rule has his own reasons for helping the investigation – reasons he doesn’t want to share with Lily. Logic and honor demand she keep her distance, but the attraction between them is immediate and devastating-and beyond human reason. Now, in a race to fend off evil, Lily finds herself in uncharted territory, tested as never before, and at her back a man who she’s not sure she can trust.

Lily Yu is a third generation immigrant in the US and I think it’s awesome that this series has an Asian female protagonist. There are no lengthy introductions about the world at the start of the novel, readers are just thrown into it and we learn more details as we go along. I did find the pace a bit slow but first books tend to be like that, to serve as an introduction to the series. I felt like there was more speculation, more thinking on Lily’s part rather than action. It’s a minor quibble because I was still engaged and kept reading to find out more. I found myself curious about this world and how magic is structured in it. The lupi seem like they have a rich culture and history, that isn’t well-known to outsiders. I look forward to learning more about them. Of course, I was also interested in the attraction between Lily and Rule. I wanted to find out how both of them will react to this unexpected connection between them.

Both Lily and Rule are complicated people and we get to know them a little in this first installment. However, I feel like we’ve barely scratched the surface and there’s a lot of room for more character development and worldbuilding. I like how the story isn’t just focused on the two MCs, we also get to know their friends and family. Families are very important to both of them. I’m a fan of Lily’s traditionally Chinese grandma, would love to know more about her. While Tempting Danger can stand well on its own, I am curious enough about the characters and the world to continue with the rest of the series. There’s obviously more in store for Lily and Rule. I just find it a bit surprising that there are already nine books that have been released with more in the pipeline. I’m not sure if one couple’s story arc that takes that long will be able to hold my attention. I haven’t read the summaries for the latter books because I don’t want to see spoilers. I know there can be a lot that can happen by also focusing on secondary characters, all those friends and family that are significant in Lily and Rule’s lives. I guess we’ll just have to see how it goes. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this series will work for me! I’ve already started the second book. I recommend Tempting Danger to urban fantasy fans, specifically the Mercy Thompson and October Daye series. I find it a bit surprising that Eileen Wilks isn’t more well-known.

Want Books: Tempting Danger

Want Books? is a weekly meme hosted here at Chachic’s Book Nook and features released books that you want but you can’t have for some reason. It can be because it’s not available in your country, in your library or you don’t have the money for it right now. Everyone is free to join, just grab the image above. Leave a comment with a link to your post so I can do a roundup with each post.

I’m still in the middle of rereading the Kate Daniels series, which I talked about last week, so I’m in an urban fantasy kind of mood. I asked for recommendations in that genre and my friend Estara mentioned the World of the Lupi series by Eileen Wilks. I looked up the first novel in the series, Tempting Danger, and saw that I added it on my Goodreads wishlist last year. Maybe I should bump it up and try to see if this is a series that I’d be interested in following.

Tempting DangerHere’s the summary from Goodreads:

Lily Yu is a San Diego police detective investigating a series of grisly murders that appear to be the work of a werewolf. To hunt down the killer, she must infiltrate the clans. Only one man can help her – a were named Rule Turner, a prince of the lupi, whose charismatic presence disturbs Lily. Rule has his own reasons for helping the investigation – reasons he doesn’t want to share with Lily. Logic and honor demand she keep her distance, but the attraction between them is immediate and devastating-and beyond human reason. Now, in a race to fend off evil, Lily finds herself in uncharted territory, tested as never before, and at her back a man who she’s not sure she can trust.

Have you read or heard of this series before? I would be interested in hearing what you think of it. And what book is at the top of your wishlist? Hope you’re all having a great weekend so far. I’m pretty tired at the moment because I took advantage of my Universal Studios Singapore annual pass again and met a couple of friends there today.