Ten Series I Could Reread Forever

Top Ten Tuesday - That Artsy Reader Girl

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature previously hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish and have now been moved over to That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic is books we can reread forever, but I’m twisting it a bit to show book series instead. Here are my picks:

The Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner
thick-as-thieves

The Lion Hunters series by Elizabeth Wein
The Winter Prince ebook A Coalition of Lions ebook The Sunbird ebook The Lion Hunter ebook The Empty Kingdom ebook

The Damar books by Robin McKinley
The Hero and the Crown Blue Sword

The Sevenwaters series by Juliet Marillier
Daughter of the Forest Son of the Shadows

The Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews
Magic Bites Magic Burns Magic Strikes Magic Bleeds Magic Slays

Magic Rises Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews Magic Shifts magic-binds

The Hidden Legacy series by Ilona Andrews
Burn for Me White Hot Wildfire

The London Celebrities books by Lucy Parker
Act Like It pretty face

Amour et Chocolat series by Laura Florand
The Chocolate Thief The Chocolate Kiss The Chocolate Touch

The Chocolate Heart The Chocolate Temptation The Chocolate Rose - new cover

La vie en Roses series by Laura Florand
Once Upon a Rose redesign A Wish Upon Jasmine redesign A Crown of Bitter Orange A Kiss in Lavender

Chic Manila series by Mina V. Esguerra
My Imaginary Ex - 2017 Fairy Tale Fail 2017 No Strings Attached_New Cover Love Your Frenemies - 2018 edition That Kind of Guy 2017

Welcome to Envy Park What You Wanted 2018 Iris After the IncidentBetter At Weddings Than You cover

Have you read any of these books? What about you, what are books or series that you can keep rereading over and over again?

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.

Watch Out For: Seven Days for Sevenwaters

My good friend Holly of Book Harbinger is hosting a week-long celebration of Juliet Marillier’s Sevenwaters series on September 10-16. I was really excited when I first heard about the event because I’m a huge fan of the Sevenwaters series, which isn’t surprising since it’s a well-written historical fantasy series. I’m really looking forward to seeing all the guest posts! If you haven’t read the series, then this is your chance. Pick up the books and write about them for Holly’s event. 🙂

“You will find the way, daughter of the forest. Through grief and pain, through many trials, through betrayal and loss, your feet will walk a straight path.” ― Juliet Marillier, Daughter of the Forest

Retro Friday: The Dark Mirror by Juliet Marillier

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’ve been meaning to read the rest of Juliet Marillier’s novels ever since I fell in love with her Sevenwaters series. It’s taken me a while to pick up another Marillier book because the huge TBR pile keeps distracting me with other choices. Nowadays, I’m behind on reviews so I thought it would be a good idea to sink my teeth into a doorstopper so I can catch up on blog posts. The Dark Mirror, the first in the Bridei Chronicles, is certainly one of those with its 670 pages.

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

The Dark Mirror by Juliet MarillierBridei is a young nobleman fostered at the home of Broichan, one of the most powerful druids in the land. His earliest memories are not of hearth and kin but of this dark stranger who while not unkind is mysterious in his ways. The tasks that he sets Bridei appear to have one goal-to make him a vessel for some distant purpose. What that purpose is Bridei cannot fathom but he trusts the man and is content to learn all he can about the ways of the world.

But something happens that will change Bridei’s world forever… and possibly wreck all of Broichan’s plans. For Bridei finds a child on their doorstep on a bitter MidWinter Eve, a child seemingly abandoned by the fairie folk. It is uncommonly bad luck to have truck with the Fair Folk and all counsel the babe’s death. But Bridei sees an old and precious magic at work here and heedless of the danger fights to save the child. Broichan relents but is wary.

The two grow up together and as Bridei comes to manhood he sees the shy girl Tuala blossom into a beautiful woman. Broichan sees the same process and feels only danger… for Tuala could be a key part in Bridei’s future…or could spell his doom.

The Dark Mirror spans several years – it starts from Bridei’s childhood when he was first brought to Broichan’s household to endure long years of training. While not cruel, Broichan is very strict and Bridei’s childhood seemed a little bleak without the company of fellow children. Which is why he was ecstatic when he discovers a child left on the doorstep – Bridei names her Tuala and he firmly believes that she is a gift from the gods and he is meant to protect her. As always, I found Juliet Marillier’s writing lyrical and atmospheric. However, I couldn’t help but feel that the pacing of the book was slow. The first half of the book was devoted to Bridei’s learning and how he relates to Tuala as a child. While I liked Bridei, Tuala and several of the secondary characters, I didn’t feel as connected to them as I did with the Sevenwaters characters. I was curious enough about the story to keep on going – I wanted to see how Bridei would develop into a young man and how he’ll face the plans that have been laid out for him. I also wanted to know what Tuala’s role is in Bridei’s life, why she was entrusted in his keeping. But I wasn’t as invested in the story as much as I’d like. I felt a little detached and I guess that prevented me from falling in love with this.

I still believe Juliet Marillier writes excellent historical fiction – I enjoyed reading The Dark Mirror because it reads like a well-researched historical novel with just the right amount of magic to make things interesting. She’s still an auto-buy, auto-read author for me and I’m planning to read the other books in the series because I already have copies. I’m just hoping I’d like them more than I liked this one. The Dark Mirror is a quiet kind of story so I feel like it’s not something that every reader will enjoy. I feel bad that I didn’t find this as amazing as I expected because Juliet Marillier is one of my favorite authors and I can’t even explain why the book didn’t work for me. This experience reminds me of the first Marillier that I read: Wildwood Dancing and the fact that I didn’t love that either. The Dark Mirror really is a well-written novel but I think it just wasn’t for me or I wasn’t in the right mood to read this. If this sounds like your kind of thing then go ahead and pick it up but if you’re reading Juliet Marillier for the first time, I recommend that you start with Daughter of the Forest instead of this one.

Other reviews:
Book Harbinger
Calico Reaction

Heart’s Blood by Juliet Marillier

I don’t know why I waited so long to read Heart’s Blood because I’ve been a fan of Juliet Marillier ever since I read her Sevenwaters series. Also, this one is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, which is my favorite fairy tale and I always enjoy reading retellings of it.

Here’s the summary from Juliet Marillier’s website:

Whistling Tor is a place of secrets, a mysterious wooded hill housing the crumbling fortress of a chieftain whose name is spoken throughout the district in tones of revulsion and bitterness. A curse lies over Anluan’s family and his people; the woods hold a perilous force whose every whisper threatens doom.

And yet the derelict fortress is a safe haven for Caitrin, the troubled young scribe who is fleeing her own demons. Despite Anluan’s tempers and the mysterious secrets housed in the dark corridors, this long-feared place provides the refuge she so desperately needs.

As time passes, Caitrin learns there is more to the broken young man and his unusual household than she realised. It may be only through her love and determination that the curse can be lifted and Anluan and his people set free…

Let me just say that I love the cover above showing a girl standing in front of a mirror in a library. The library and mirrors play major roles in the story so it’s an appropriate cover design. Heart’s Blood is a haunting retelling of Beauty and the Beast. I was surprised by how different the whole atmosphere in this one was compared to the Sevenwaters series. This one is much darker with a mysterious curse surrounding the chieftain of Whistling Tor, Anluan. Caitrin discovers the place while she’s running away from her own problems. Desperate to be employed as a scribe, she willingly works for Anluan transcribing family documents. This is a perfect professional set-up for both – Caitrin knows not a lot of people will employ a female scribe and most people are afraid to visit Whistling Tor, let alone live and work there. As she learns the secrets of the area, Caitrin becomes determined to find a way to break the curse. I liked that Caitrin is a scribe, she was trained by her father who had the same profession, which is unusual in a world where women focus on domestic duties. I also liked that Caitrin has a complicated past and in the course of getting to know Anluan, she learns how to deal with her own troubles. This is retelling where Beauty does not just help the Beast but has to overcome other difficulties in her own life. The secondary characters were also well-developed and I liked how they had their own stories but they’re united by their loyalty to Anluan.

I was able to predict part of the outcome of the story and as a result, I wasn’t wowed by this story like I was expecting. I’m a fan of unexpected events that blow me away. I also would have loved the interactions between Caitrin and Anluan to have more depth – I felt like the two of them didn’t have enough scenes together and I wasn’t as invested in their love story as I would’ve liked. Though darker than her other books, Juliet Marillier’s writing in Heart’s Blood retains its standard beautiful and lyrical flow. While this book didn’t displace my favorite Beauty and the Beast retelling from its position (the title belongs to Beauty by Robin McKinley), I still enjoyed reading this and I hope that Juliet Marillier will continue to write retellings for other fairy tales. She already has retellings for The Six Swans (Daughter of the Forest) and Twelve Dancing Princesses (Wildwood Dancing) but I’d love to read more. I guess I’m just glad that I still have a couple of books from her backlist to go through. I fell in love with her writing in the Sevenwaters series and I can’t get enough of it, even if I don’t end up loving her other books. Recommended for fans of fairy tale retellings or readers of dark, haunting fantasy.

PS: I loved that The Book Smugglers has a quote on the back cover. Yay Ana and Thea! Here’s a picture:

Other reviews:
The Eager Readers
See Michelle Read
Book Harbinger
The Book Smugglers

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This book is one of my entries in the Once Upon a Time challenge.

Favorite Literary Couples II

Image from We Heart It

Last year, I did a post about my favorite literary couples for Valentine’s Day and I thought it would be good to make this a yearly kind of thing. Without further ado, here are my favorite couples in fiction since February of last year:

Taylor Markham and Jonah Griggs from Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta – These two literally came from opposing camps in their local turf wars so you can say that theirs is a love-hate relationship. Both of them have also experienced heartbreaking moments in their young lives which makes their romance sweeter. The love story between these two isn’t even the main plot of Jellicoe Road but it still resonated with me, especially because I believe what they have is also based on friendship.

Kate Daniels and Curran from the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews – The Kate Daniels series is my favorite urban fantasy series and I love how Kate and Curran’s relationship developed. I enjoyed the witty banter and the uncertainty of whether they’d ever end up together. You have to read the whole series to appreciate what goes on between these two.

Gabriel and Rachel from Archangel by Sharon Shinn – When the Archangel Gabriel came looking for the wife that the god Jovah picked for him, he didn’t expect to meet vehement resistance from the feisty Rachel. Another turbulent relationship that I really enjoyed watching unfold. What I liked about Gabriel and Rachel is that they both had to work hard for the relationship even if the god mandated that they should be together.

Liadan and Bran from Son of the Shadows by Juliet Marillier – I had to include a pair from the Sevenwaters series because all of the books in this series have love stories in their plots. I admire Liadan for fighting for the love that she believed she deserved, even if it goes against the wishes of other people.

Ellie and Lucas from Fairy Tale Fail by Mina V. Esguerra – I bought this on a whim because I wanted to give Filipino chick lit authors a try and I’m so glad I did. I could really relate to Ellie – her twenty-something, corporate lifestyle in the Philippines and her wish to get her own fairy tale romance. I wish I had my own Lucas.

If I decided to list ten couples instead of just five, I would’ve included these pairings:

Sorcha and Red from Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier
Meg and John After from Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols
Laura and Sorry from The Changeover by Margaret Mahy
Anna and Etienne from Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Cameron and Jack from Something About You by Julie James

Do you agree with my choices? Who are some of your favorite literary couples? Happy Heart’s Day, everyone. 🙂

Seer of Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier

I’ve been wanting this book for a while now. Seer of Sevenwaters is the fifth installment in the Sevenwaters series by Juliet Marillier, one of my favorite discoveries in 2010. It’s such a great series and I knew I was in for a treat when I picked up this one. The books can be read on their own but there are references to some of the other stories so I think it’s still better to read them in order. Reading order: Daughter of the Forest, Son of the Shadows, Child of the Prophecy and Heir to Sevenwaters.

Here’s the summary from Juliet Marillier’s website:

Sibeal has always known that she is destined for a spiritual life, and is committed to it with all her heart. Before making her final vows, she travels to the northern island of Inis Eala to spend the summer with her sisters, Muirrin and Clodagh.

But Sibeal has barely set foot on the island when a freak storm out at sea sinks a ship before her eyes. In spite of frantic rescue efforts, only three survivors are fished alive from the water, and one of them, a man Sibeal names Ardal, clings to life by the merest thread.

As Ardal fights for his life, the island community discovers that there is something unusual about the three shipwrecked strangers. The beautiful Svala is mute and disturbed. Stalwart warrior Knut seems ashamed of his grieving wife. And Ardal has a secret he can’t remember… or won’t tell. When the astonishing truth comes out, Sibeal finds herself drawn into a perilous quest. At its end, she will face a decision that may break her heart.

Juliet Marillier is an amazing author and I’m so glad she decided to come back to the Sevenwaters world, years after she finished the trilogy. I love the Sevenwaters family and it’s always a good thing to get to know new characters and catch glimpses of old ones. I have been curious about Sibeal ever since Heir to Sevenwaters and I was glad she got her own story. This is the first time that we got the point of view of a druid from the family. Sibeal is a very reserved type of person – her vocation and her abilities (she has the gift of Sight) have something to do with that. She’s been training to become a druid since the age of twelve. Four years later, she’s ready to take her vows but her mentor and kinsman Ciaran thinks she should go to Inis Eala first. I’m glad we finally got a glimpse of the famous island community known for its unusual purpose of training fighting men because I’ve been curious about Inis Eala ever since it was established.

One of the reasons why I love the Sevenwaters books is because they have excellent characters. I was blown away by Sorcha and Red in Daughter of the Forest and also by Liadan and Bran in Son of the Shadows. I was hoping for the same reaction in this one, especially since the story is told from the alternating points of view of Sibeal and the man she names Ardal, so we get both sides of the story. However, I didn’t find Sibeal as compelling as her other female relatives. That is not to say that I didn’t enjoy reading the novel as a whole because I did, I just didn’t love it as much as the other books in the series. The same lyrical writing that makes the setting beautiful is still there and I can’t find fault in that. I guess I just wasn’t as invested in Sibeal as I was hoping I’d be. I still highly recommend this book to fans of historical fiction and fantasy but I suggest that you read the other books in the Sevenwaters series first if you haven’t yet. If you’ve read the other Sevenwaters books, I’m sure you’re already curious about this one because how can you resist Juliet Marillier and her superb writing? I can’t wait to read the next one, due to come out next year. Still no news on who’s the main character but I know it’s going to be awesome. There were hints about something big in store for Cathal and Ciaran in this book so the next one may have something to do with them. In the meantime, I can catch up with the rest of the Juliet Marillier books that I haven’t read. The Bridei Chronicles are already on my radar.

Other reviews: (manually generated)
Book Harbinger
The Book Smugglers
The Great Raven

Waiting on Wednesday: Seer of Sevenwaters

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine. WoW posts are about books that you can’t wait to get your hands on.

I haven’t done a Waiting on Wednesday post in a while because it’s similar to my Want Books meme. However, since I just finished reading the first four books in the incredible Sevenwaters series by Juliet Marillier, I decided to post about the next book in the series – Seer of Sevenwaters, due out in December 7.

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

The young seer Sibeal is visiting an island of elite warriors, prior to making her final pledge as a druid. It’s there she finds Felix, a survivor of a Viking shipwreck, who’s lost his memory. The scholarly Felix and Sibeal form a natural bond. He could even be her soul mate, but Sibeal’s vocation is her true calling, and her heart must answer.

As Felix fully regains his memory, Sibeal has a runic divination showing her that Felix must go on a perilous mission — and that she will join him. The rough waters and the sea creatures they will face are no match for Sibeal’s own inner turmoil. She must choose between the two things that tug at her soul — her spirituality and a chance at love…

Although it’s part of a series, I don’t think readers need to start with the others before reading this one but then again, why miss out on the amazing books that come before this? Let me convince you further, check out my review of Daughter of the Forest, the first in the Sevenwaters series and a retelling of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale entitled Six Swans.

What about you, what book are you waiting for this Wednesday? 🙂

Heir to Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier

Heir to Sevenwaters is the fourth installment in the lovely Sevenwaters series by Juliet Marillier. Read my reviews of the rest of the books in the series in these links: Daughter of the Forest, Son of the Shadows, Child of the Prophecy.

Here’s the summary from Juliet Marillier’s website:

The chieftains of Sevenwaters have long been custodians of a vast forest, one of the last refuges of the Tuatha De Danann, the Fair Folk of ancient story. Human and Otherworld dwellers have existed there side by side, separated by a thin veil between worlds and sharing a wary trust. Until the spring when Lady Aisling of Sevenwaters finds herself expecting another child, and everything changes.

With her mother pregnant, Clodagh fears the worst since Aisling is well past the safe age for childbearing. Clodagh’s father, Lord Sean of Sevenwaters, faces his own difficulties as warring factions threaten his borders. When the baby is born the unthinkable happens, and Clodagh’s world is turned upside down.

To set things to rights for her family and for all the people of Sevenwaters, Clodagh must enter the shadowy Otherworld and confront the powerful prince who now rules there. Accompanied on her quest by a warrior of uncertain allegiance, she will have her courage tested to breaking point. The reward may be far greater than she ever dreamed.

Another excellent installment in what has become one of my favorite series: the Sevenwaters books by Juliet Marillier. I’m so happy that Ms. Marillier decided to write more books in this series! Like I said, I had a pretty lukewarm reaction to Child of the Prophecy but that’s okay because I knew that I could look forward to more adventures in the Sevenwaters world with this one and Seer of Sevenwaters, due out later this year. This one is different from the rest because it occurs only a couple of years after Child of the Prophecy, unlike the other Sevenwaters books which occur one generation after the one before it.

As always, the main character of this book is a daughter of Sevenwaters, Clodagh. What I like about Clodagh is she doesn’t have special powers like the other Sevenwaters heroines. She’s not the healer nor the seer in her generation. At the start of the book, it is even emphasized that Clodagh’s main skills lie in managing the household and she’ll become a nice little wife some day. However, Clodagh shows an exceptional capacity to love, which I think comes from her upbringing. The Sevenwaters clan is a close-knit one and the children of this remarkable family all exhibit their warmth and inner strength each in their own way. I love that even though Clodagh was terrified to journey to the Otherworld, she knows she must do it to get her brother back.

I know that the main characters in the Sevenwaters books are females but since all of them have their respective romantic interests, I thought I’d take a moment to praise Ms. Marillier’s heroes because they are just as amazing as their female counterparts. Red, Bran, Cathal. Very strong men and convinced of what they want in life until they meet our heroines and they become conflicted because they know that nothing will ever be the same. *sigh* I love these men! I love that they’re all so different too. In Cathal’s case, he was rude and arrogant because he wanted to push Clodagh away. He believed that she’ll be in danger if she comes near him but at the same time, he’s drawn to her like a moth to a flame.

As always, beautiful writing in a lush and vivid world that’s a blend of historical fiction and fantasy involving the fey. However, the Lady of the Forest and her flame-haired lord, those who personally watched over generations of the Sevenwaters family have moved on and a different breed took their place in the forest. Mac Dara and his kind are the fey that are common in the books that I’ve seen around – they’re tricksters and do not understand human emotions such as love so they’re bound to be cruel. These characters present a different kind of problem from the previous books because the prophecy has already been fulfilled. I like that there’s something unique in this book to keep things lively. I keep saying this but if you guys haven’t realized, I highly recommend this series and I look forward to more of Ms. Marillier’s work. 🙂

I found the artwork for the UK cover (which is the one I have) and it’s so lovely that I had to post it. I found it in the artist’s site:

Click to embiggen or click the link of the source to see an even bigger version. Isn’t it amazing? You couldn’t see all of the details on the actual cover. Like at the back, I didn’t even notice that Cathal was there because they had to reduce the opacity of the artwork to put in the text of the summary. When I saw the artwork, I thought to myself, “Why helloooo, Cathal. Didn’t realize you were there! So glad to see you.”

So excited for Seer of Sevenwaters, which is about Clodagh’s sister, Sibeal. Check out the summary on Goodreads. Due out December 7, 2010.