Archive for September, 2013

top ten sequel imageThis week’s Top Ten Tuesday asks us to name the Ten Best Book Sequels.

‘Anything Part Two’ can be tough, but great sequels can be even better than the original (Spider-Man 2, The Dark Knight Rises).

Here, though, we are talking about the best sequels to books! What are your favorites?


1.) The Lord of the Rings, by J. R. R. Tolkien
Tolkien fused his passion for medieval history and languages with mythic fantasy. LOTR broke ground as a book series and as a forerunner in the fantasy genre. The trilogy still ranks as the third best-selling novel worldwide. Note, you will enjoy it more if you read The Hobbit first.

2.) Bring Up the Bodies, by Hilary Mantel
Just as Mantel elevated the historical novel to literary fiction, she has raised the bar on sequels. This book stands alone on its merit, winning the Man Booker Prize among other awards, but is a follow-up to Wolf Hall.

3.) Leaving Cold Sassy, by Olive Ann Burns
I don’t often like to see child heroes grow up, but in her sequel to Cold Sassy Tree Burns gives us a wonderful portrait of Will Tweedy as a young man. The book also serves as a swan song for the town of Cold Sassy and its colorful characters. Warning: this book is unfinished.

4. ) Eventide, Kent Haruf
Oh, how I loved this beautiful, wrenching book that revisits the characters and the town of Holt, Colorado, which Haruf introduced to us in Plainsong.

5.) The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
One of the most influential books in the American canon and a darn good page-turner. I will say, however, that some of the language (in particular the N-word) is quite jarring. But I do read the character of Jim as wise and noble (and morally superior to many other characters), despite the stereotypical characterization.

6.) Barchester Towers, by Anthony Trollope
The Warden seems like just a teaser once you delve into Barchester Towers, which really kicks off the Barchester Chronicles—a saga about life in a Cathedral city inspired by Salisbury. This great read offers compelling characters and a fascinating look at small-town politics, the evolving Church of England, and daily life in 19th-century England.

7.) Right Ho, Jeeves, by P. G. Wodehouse
This is the second full novel about Jeeves and Wooster, and it features all the classics: a broken engagement between Tuppy and Angela, the temperamental French chef Anatole, droopy Madeline Bassett, newt-enthusiast Gussy Fink-Nottle, and bossy Aunt Dahlia at her best, “who is this Spink Bottle?”

8.) Shopaholic Takes Manhattan, by Sophie Kinsella
I still can’t decide whether I like this or Confessions of a Shopaholic best. Both are hilarious, laugh-out-loud books, which forever endeared us to the sweet, ditzy Becky Bloomwood. Kinsella is a comic genius and manages to create physical humor and whacky entanglements along the lines of I Love Lucy.

9.) Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, by J.K. Rowling
From the first read, this has always been my favorite of the Harry Potter books. I just love the dynamic between Harry and Sirius Black, and I love the ending. Expecto Patronum!

10.) To Let, by John Galsworthy
This is the finale to The Forsyte Saga, a long, deep, satisfying read about the powerful Forsyte family at the turn of the 20th century. Any one of those sequels could have made this list, but I must say Galsworthy ends his story perfectly, reflective but not overly sentimental. Note, there was a terrific British TV mini-series made in 2002.

Honorable Mention: Wide Sargasso Sea, by Jean Rhys
Rhys gives a wonderful voice to the first Mrs. Rochester, the mad woman who taunted Jane Eyre, and shows us her life growing up in the Caribbean. Usually, I don’t like it when writers hijack another author’s characters, but this was one of the first and remains the very best example, imho. It would be top ten, but it’s technically a prequel and it’s not by Charlotte Bronte.

So, what are your favorite book sequels?

Top Ten Most Memorable Secondary Characters

Top Ten Best Books I’ve Read So Far in 2013

Top Ten Books in My TBR Pile

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September 22 is Hobbit Day! It marks the start of Tolkien Week. 

Here are 10 ways to celebrate:

1.) Click to learn more about Hobbit Day and Tolkien Week, celebrated each year since 1978 by The American Tolkien Society.

2.) Read (or reread) The Hobbit. Or share your favorite passages with a friend.

3.) Go barefoot, as hobbits rarely wear shoes.

4.) Eat heartily, and don’t miss Second Breakfast! There is some discussion as to whether Second Breakfast is the same as or in addition to Elevenses. Either way, Halflings eat six or seven times a day and are particularly fond of apples, blackberry tarts, ripe cheeses, mushrooms, hot soups, cold meats, bacon rashers, scones, potatoes (Samwise Gangee’s favorite), and fruit or meat pies. But, perhaps avoid roast mutton, as that is frequent food of Trolls.

5.) Argue with other Tolkien geeks over whether Hobbit Day actually fell on September 12 or 14, since the Shire Calendar varies from the Gregorian.

6.) Noodle some riddles. Hobbits adore riddles. Bilbo used them to get the best of Gollum in the “Riddles in the Dark” chapter. He later wrote “all that is gold does not glitter” in a telling riddle about Strider, which Gandalf gave to Frodo.

7.) Check out the latest trailer for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug hitting theaters December 13, 2013.


8.) Visit your local library or a local bookstore for more Middle-Earth mythology via Tolkien’s posthumously published works: The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales of Numenor and Middle-Earth, or The Histories of Middle-Earth.

9.) Have that “Unexpected” or “Long-Expected” Party! Hobbits like to socialize. Well, except Bilbo of course.

10.) Raise a glass of wine (preferably Old Winyards red), “a good deep mug of beer,” or perhaps a restorative cup of tea, and drink “to The Shire!”

September 22 is Hobbit Day!

The Hobbit: My Own Unexpected Journey

Happy Hobbitversary! 75 Years On

Bring on The Hobbit Movie Triple Play!

A Tolkien Travesty: Nobel Jury Not So Noble

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