Thursday, November 29, 2012

Discussion & List: The Joy of Book Two

I have a love/hate relationship with series, but today I'm going to focus on the positive and gush about my explosive love for series, particularly book two.

Starting a series is great with all of its first-date suspense, hope, and possibilities. Few things come close to the delicious anticipation of wondering if I'll fall head over heels for this book and open a brand new chapter of awesomeness in my life.

Life was never the same

And then, if the stars align and everything comes together perfectly, then there's the wait for the second book. And, yeah, it's excruciating. But it's also kind of fun because even though I have to wait, I KNOW there will be a big payoff when the time comes due.

Plus, since it's only the second book, so I know I can read the book without all the sadness that comes along with reading the last book in the series when you know it's really The End.

It's like Christmas, or my birthday. Sure they only come once a year, but when they DO come, they're filled with piles of presents and tons of tasty food and general wonderfulness. And the best part is, I know these things are coming. I can rely on that guaranteed happiness, even if I have to wait a whole year for it.

And we get to do this EVERY year!

The second book in a series is often a dangerous thing, fraught with all sorts of peril like series stretching and the introduction of the dreaded Secondary Love Interest. Usually, second books scare the life out of me.

This didn't work out well for anyone

BUT, every rare once in a while a first book is so incredible, so special, so perfect that I KNOW the next book will be nothing short of chocolate fudge levels of perfection.

(Of course I'm still a little afraid I'll experience a crushing blow if the book doesn't live up to my super high expectations, but shhh, I'm pretending that isn't even a fraction of a possibility. Because, I just, I cannot fathom that reality.)

I've had my heart crushed way too many times by book disappointment, so I don't let my heart run wild after just any old book. I'm picky and jaded and I don't want to be hurt again.

 So this is my teeny tiny list of sequels I've allowed myself to throw all caution to the wind and fall madly in love with the mere idea of their existence.

They'd better live up.

Fair warning: There be (tiny) spoilers for the first books here!

The Pirate's Wish by Cassandra Rose Clarke
sequel to The Pirate's Curse

The first book hit pretty much all of my marks for a Special Shelf book with its sleepover friend paragon of a main character, sizzling hate-turned-love romance, and heaps of fantasy peril and action. The ending left off with the potential for an even more excitement-filled quest to come, and if the strength of the first book is any indication, The Pirate's Curse is going to set a new high in quest-fantasy.

I'm banking on The Pirate's Wish having all that, and more. Namely, I want more sizzle in the romance. Sure it was pretty close to perfect in the first book, but I felt like Naji was holding out in that department a little. He's a little too closed off and mysterious, so I'm hoping book two sheds a little more light on his, presumably, growing feelings for Ananna.

An 11th hour name change wouldn't hurt, either (I mean, Naji?? I'm still not over it).

The Runaway King by Jennifer A. Nielsen
sequel to The False Prince

The idea of basking in Sage's presence is enough for me. I don't even care all that much what he's doing.

But, I'd prefer if he were scheming and manipulating and being cheeky about it all like he was in The False Prince. The blurb gives me hope that there will be a good dose of twistyness mixed with clever plotting and murder (always good for a book, I think).

I like that the blurb makes it sound like Sage has matured and gotten all responsible in The Runaway King (I always love a Capable Guy), but I'm hoping his signature sass hasn't been completely set aside. Also, a little more development of that barely-there distrustful romance would be fantastic. But just a smidgen.

The only thing I'm really not jumping for joy over is the name change. I read the blurb three times thinking, "Who the heck is Jaron?!" before I realized that, oh yeah, that's Sage's real name. But, pfft. He'll always be Sage to me.

The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle by Christopher Healy
sequel to The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom

I can't stop recommending The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom. Adults, kids, teens, tweens—I've even made the elderly whip out their magnifiers and read that book. My pitch is simple: Do you like to laugh? Well then, do I have a book for you!

I'm expecting nothing less out of Christopher Healy's follow up. The cover and blurb are certainly worthy and I have no doubt the author is up to the task. So, my expectations? Super high. But my fears the book might not fulfill those expectations? Practically zero. I have total confidence, Mr. Healy.

I don't really have doubts or hopes for this sequel. Not like the other books. In this case, I just hope The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle is filled with all of the same characters (and maybe a few new ones, too. Evil villainS? Plural? Yessssss) and that they're acting exactly like themselves. And, ok, maybe it would be cute to see the rearranged couples pair up a little more solidly, but that isn't a requirement at all.

Biggest reason I'm crossing my fingers in hopeful anticipation? I desperately want Bronson Pinchot to record an audiobook version.

Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers
sequel to Grave Mercy

I know this book is following different characters from the main duo in Grave Mercy, but I'm kind of okay with that. Don't get me wrong, I loved Ismae and Duvall, but I'm all about the slow burn romance and that ship has sailed for them already. When the romance comes together in book one, all book two usually offers is conflict and third parties. Or sappy, spark-less tru wuv. Either way, no thank you!

So I'm all over the idea of keeping the awesome world of assassin nuns, gods of death, and courtly intrigue but turning the focus on two new love interests. Sybella is even more distrustful and prickly than Ismae, so I'm not expecting any kind of instalove nonsense out of her. In fact, the only instalove I'm pretty certain about is the love I have for Sybella, and I can't wait to get to know her even more.

My only fear? I wasn't IN LOVE with Sybella's soon-to-be-main-squeeze. So, yeah, I'm worried I won't be feeling this romance the way I was with Duvall. But I trust Robin, so I'm not too worried. Plus, I'm sure I'll be plenty distracted with all of the historical fantasy world building and political intrigue.

Also, Sybella. I really have fallen in instalove.

What about you?

What series are you SO in love with that you just KNOW the second book will be complete perfection for you?

Do you have any hopes or fears for them?

Friday, November 23, 2012

Book Review: The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander

The Black Cauldron
Pages: 182
Received: Library
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Goodreads Page

Mini Review

Gosh did I want to love this book. It's a classic! Not only that, it's a fantasy classic. And written by one of THE authors every self-respecting fantasy fan is pretty much obligated to have read (this is my first) and loved (I did not).

Does this mean I have to turn in my fantasy-fan card??

I thought it was dull. It was like I was on a blind date set up for me by my boss. I had all this pressure to fall madly in love with The Black Cauldron, and so I tried really, really hard to FORCE myself to get my heart racing over the plot or melting over the characters. Every time I picked up the book I would give myself a little pep talk that THIS would be the time I'd feel that reading spark.

But I failed to spark. Instead, I was contemplating doing laundry when I was reading. Seriously, laundry.

I'm at a total loss as to why this happened.

The plot felt slow even though objectively I know lots of things were happening. There weren't many lulls at all and the action was pretty steady throughout with lots of opportunities for peril. There were battles and double-crosses, fantasy creatures and even questing.

Despite my best efforts, I could not feel any sort of connection to the characters (it was like trying to hug damp cardboard!). Again, I'm not sure why. From a distance they look great. Tragic heroes, complex nemeses, character growth, and even a little romance of my very favorite hate-turned-love slow burn variety!

I should have been all over those characters but I wasn't. You know how something far away can look pretty great, but then when you get up close to it you realize that, whoa, not looking so good after all? The Black Cauldron feels kind of like that. If I step back and think about the events and characters, then I kind of do love it all.

Then when I was up close and actually reading it? Total snooze-fest (and cliched to boot)!

BUT, ok, I'm not sure if I should admit this on such a public forum but, erm, well,

ifeltthesamewayaboutthelordoftherings. (But loved the movie!)

Fine. I'll surrender my fantasy-fan card now.

Explanation of rating system: Star Rating Key 

Do you have any questions about The Black Cauldron that I haven't addressed? 

Did I just commit total blasphemy and cause great offense?
Feel free to let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Small News: Hurricane aftermath

I don't usually post many personal details here, but since I did mention being away because of the hurricane, and then I was away for a while, I think it's only fair to give a little update as to what's been going on in my world.

Again, it's VERY good timing that we moved to Texas this year, because otherwise things would not be good for us. As it is, the house we lived in, where my in-laws still live, is in pretty bad shape and their car has been totaled. The first floor was flooded enough to ruin almost everything there, including all the appliances, furniture, walls, and floors, as well as a number of sentimental items.

Almost as saddening is the state of my library! It is currently closed and though it will reopen at some point, there is no definite date at this time. There was flooding and we're not sure yet which, if any, books can be salvaged. My little branch was on higher ground and fared far better than the main branch and the other small branch though, so there is hope!

My library is a part of a great community that has come together to help take care of one another, so I have faith that we will rebuild to be even better than before. I'm  making sure to record all the fantastic new books coming out so that when we do re-open I can bolster the spirits of my teen and tween readers with gorgeous paranormal guys and epic quests, because, seriously, those things make everything better.

Thanks for hanging in there with me during this and all the other hiatuses this year! Reviews are coming soon!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Small News: Hurricane Sandy

Well, I picked a good year to move to Texas!

My hometown in NY is pretty much destroyed and we're still waiting to find out if our house made it through. My in laws are here (on a totally coincidental but well-timed vacation), so at least we know they're safe. We know the bay and the ocean met and surrounded our home, but we don't know if the water came inside. Unfortunately we do know some people whose homes have been swept out to sea or burned.

I'll be a little MIA around here for a little while as we try to figure out what happened and try to contact our family and friends who are still in NY. I hope everyone else who has been affected by the storm is safe! I know some of you live near the affected areas and you are in my thoughts.

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