Top 5 Wednesdays: Best Second Books in Series

Once again, my very limited number of completed series puts a serious damper on my ability to answer the question. As I discovered the other week when we were asked for series that got better as they went on, I have not completed very many series. To be fair, there are quite a few where I have read the first two books but I find it difficult to say that the second book is best when I don’t know yet what is coming next. I may need to revisit this topic at some point in the future when I have read more series! Instead of choosing series where the second was the best, I’m going to talk about 5 series which I thought had very strong second books.

Top 5 Wednesday is a meme created by Gingerreadslainey on Youtube, and is now hosted by Sam at ThoughtsOnTomes. The official GoodReads group with the weekly topics can be found here.

1) The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

140212This may be a controversial choice since this book is viewed as both the first and second book in the series, depending who you ask. It was the first to be published, and the first that most people read, but in terms of when the events take place chronologically, it should be second. It may be cheating a bit to select this one, but given the limited amount of series I have read, I’m making an exception for this one. I have not completed the whole Narnia series, but this is by far the strongest and most memorable of all the ones I have read. This book is one of my all-time favourites!

2) Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

224912It is practically impossible for me to choose a favourite Harry Potter book, but I still remember being blown away by this one when I first read it. As much as I loved The Philosopher’s Stone, I enjoyed this book a lot more. I think the real brilliance of this book is how it is actually part of a much larger plotline throughout the later series, but works just as well as a standalone. This book also introduced Dobby, and led to many of the funniest moments in the series! I have no idea why, but I’ve always found Ron’s line “Of all the trees we could have hit, we had to get the one that hits back!” hilarious. This book was the perfect blend of creepy mystery, fantasy, and even a great story of the relationships between Harry and the people around him. I’m not sure if it is the strongest in the series, but it is definitely a very strong second book!

3) The Reptile Room by Lemony Snicket

78418I can’t emphasize enough how much I love this series! The Bad Beginning was an amazing introduction, and I thought The Reptile Room was just as strong. This book is a great follow-up, with the Baudelaire children moving in with their eccentric Uncle Monty, a herpetologist with a room full of reptiles to study. I thought this book did a great job of establishing the children as self-sufficient and compelling characters, especially given their horrible circumstances. This was also our first introduction to Count Olaf’s many disguises and plots to capture the children away from their well-meaning relatives. It was a very strong addition to the series.

4) Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

6148028Again, I’m not 100% sure this is my favourite book in the series, but I thought it was a very strong follow-up to The Hunger Games. I loved how Katniss and Peeta had to try and keep up the charade they started in the first book, and this is a book that introduced some of my favourite characters (Finnick, for example). I was a bit worried when I first learned this book threw Katniss back into the arena, but I loved how it managed to create a different Hunger Games competition that was unique and just as compelling as the first. I was equally invested in this story as I was in Katniss’ fate in the first book. I often find the middle book in a trilogy is too much of a transitional book without much really going on, but that was definitely not the case in this series. All three books were equally strong for me.

5) The Lost City of Faar by DJ MacHale (Pendragon series)

215543Full disclosure: This was a 4-star book for me, and not my favourite in the series, but I still think it is a very strong book from an extremely underrated series. In this book, Bobby Pendragon visits a world called Cloral which is predominantly made of water, which has different islands responsible for different things to benefit the community. Like the other books in the series, this one does a great job of presenting real moral and ethical issues in the context of a fantasy world. In this case, the main issue had to do with food supply and crop contamination. Later books in the series deal with animal rights, overuse of technology, drought, etc. Although I have never found this book the most interesting or memorable of the series, it is still quite a strong addition and I think the series in general deserves more attention.


Top 10 Tuesdays: 10 Books I’ve Added to My TBR Recently

I will be so happy when the hosts at The Broke and The Bookish are back next week, and I can start getting my topics from them again! Over the last few weeks, it’s been fun to have the freedom to choose my own topics, but also a real challenge sometimes. Since my TBR list is constantly expanding, I’ve decided to make this week’s list 10 of the books I’ve recently added to by TBR. To be honest, I add books to my list so frequently, this could probably become a series of it’s own!

Top 10 Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

1) The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember 

32890474This book came out just a couple of months ago, and seems to be receiving quite a bit of attention recently. It is an LGBT retelling of The Little Mermaid that is also partly inspired by Norse mythology, which seems to be a very interesting mix. Lately, I’ve seen some pretty mixed reviews for this book for potentially problematic content that apparently goes unchallenged. Having not read the book myself, I have no idea how the representation is but this kind of retelling sounds very interesting. I never would have thought of combining The Little Mermaid with characters like Loki, so I really want to see how that will work.

2) Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab

32075662I just finished reading This Savage Song a couple of days ago, and I absolutely loved it! It is one of the best books I’ve read so far this year, and it ended in such a frustrating way. As soon as I finished the book, I went straight onto Goodreads to add this one to my TBR. Given the way my reading challenges are going, I don’t know if I will be able to squeeze this one in by the end of the year but I’m sure it will be one of the first I pick up next year at least. This is such a unique and well-written series. I can’t wait to find out what happens next!

3) Follow You Home by Mark Edwards

24833801I’ve kind of pre-emptively added this one to my list before I’ve read anything by this author. I have Mark Edwards’ The Magpies on order from the library to read later on this year, and a few of his other books recently came up when I was browsing recommendations. I love psychological thrillers, but I can’t read them too often because they tend to really creep me out. This book actually first caught my attention because of the very eerie cover design. It may be a while before I work up the nerve to actually try this one though.

4) I Came To Say Goodbye by Caroline Overington

9482772This book has been out for quite a while, but I had never heard of it until it showed up on my recommendations page. It was another one that caught my attention with the cover art. This book is about a young woman who abducts a child from the hospital. The synopsis did not say much, but it is a plotline that I don’t think I have read much before so it will be interesting to see how it turns out. The book is also on the relatively short side (just under 300 pages), which doesn’t necessarily leave a ton of room for the story to develop. However, it received a pretty high average rating on Goodreads (3.85 stars overall), so I think it will be worth a try.

5) Autoboyography by Christina Lauren

289190581Just to move away from some of the darker books, I also recently added this one after hearing one of my favourite Youtube channels talking about it. This book was recently mentioned by CeCe at Problems of a Book Nerd (in this video), and it immediately caught my attention. I thought the cover art was beautiful, and the storyline also seemed interesting. This book has been compared to Fangirl and Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, both books that I loved. I actually think I heard about this book a while ago but found the title a little annoying at the time, so I bypassed it. This book won’t be out until September, but it already seems to be pretty highly anticipated.

6) Them and Us by Nicola Moriarty

34316345Is it too early to start adding books from 2018 to my TBR? To be fair, I started doing that well over a month ago. I actually have not read anything by Nicola Moriarty yet, but her sister Liane Moriarty has quickly become one of my favourite authors. This book is about two women who decide to create a Facebook group dedicated to women who don’t want to have children, setting tasks for the group to make sure they receive the same kinds of “benefits” that parents get (ie. leaving work early). It seems like it has the potential to be a very interesting book, but also has the potential to upset a lot of people depending how the story is handled.

7) The Big F by Maggie Ann Martin

30046340It seems to be rare for YA books to tackle issues about getting into college or university, which is a bit surprising since that is often such an issue for people that age. This book is due out at the end of August, and although it is also tagged as a romance, it also seems to focus quite a bit on planning for the future, and what happens when those plans don’t go as expected. Although I am well past the college stage myself, and honestly never had much worry about whether I would get in, I think it’s nice to see a book addressing the topic. We definitely need more YA books where the characters aren’t stuck at age 16 or 17, but actually manage to graduate and move past high school!

8) Alphabet Weekends by Elizabeth Noble

44312This is the type of book that I usually would not be very motivated to pick up, but I’ve actually been enjoying some of the “Women’s Fiction” that I’ve read, although I hate that term. This book is about two best friends, Tom and Natalie. When Natalie’s boyfriend suddenly leaves her, Tom convinces her to spend 26 weekends with him, participating in different activities for each letter of the alphabet, believing that by the end they will have fallen in love. I’m not usually very interested in these kinds of stories, but I loved the alphabet concept and I think it can be very creatively done if it is done well. It definitely seems like a very cute story.

9) More Than We Can Tell by Brigid Kemmerer

34236194It wasn’t until just now as I started writing this that I realized this book follows a character from Brigid Kemmerer’s Letters to the Lost, which I haven’t read yet so I will probably need to read that first. This book caught my attention because the cover art seemed to suggest it was a book that might focus quite a bit on social media, something that I’ve been very interested in lately. This book is not due out until March of next year, but it is already receiving rave reviews on Goodreads. To be fair, I’m always a little hesitant with that because I’m never sure whether these reviewers have actually read ARC copies unless they can provide some detail about what the book is about. Either way, it seems to be very highly anticipated, and I want to read both of Brigid Kemmerer’s books.

10) Copycat by Alex Lake

33026842This is another book that is due out a bit later on this year, and it sounds really creepy! This book combines two of my interests: social media, and psychological thrillers. It is about a woman who discovers that someone has been keeping a Facebook profile with her name and with recent photos of her and her family and friends. It seems like a very creepy story. I have all three books by this author on my TBR, and all of them sound very interesting but also quite scary for me to read. Hopefully I will eventually be brave enough to try them.

Has anyone read any of these books yet? Any recommendations for what else I should be reading?