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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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Top Ten LogoGoodness, this Top Ten really made me think! Turns out, most of my favorite books are the ones that are peopled with distinctive, believable secondary characters whom I feel that I know. (Perhaps that also explains my addiction to the ensemble masterpiece LOST.)

Anyway, I could have easily rattled off 10 favorites from Jane Austen’s works, or from The Lord of the Rings. But, I didn’t even try to pick just one of G.R.R. Martin’s cast of characters from A Song of Fire and Ice, seriously?

1.) Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen—Austen’s books are rife with hilarious and memorable supporting characters, caricatures really. But, the haughty, domineering (and hilarious) Lady Catherine takes the cake. An authority on everything and everyone, Lady Catherine commands the spotlight. “I must have my share in the conversation!” She reminds Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam.

2.) Rusty Everett, Under the Dome by Stephen King—My great sorrow is that Rusty does not even feature in the Under the Dome TV show. But he is one of the most human and memorable characters from the book. Rusty is the everyman, the guy we all root for. Of course, there is Barbie the badass, ex-army superhero. But Rusty is someone whom you know you’ve met … thrust into unusual circumstances, who rises to the occasion.

3.) Peregrin (aka Pippin) Took, The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien—It’s hard to pick a favorite hobbit, and I wouldn’t dare. But as literary characters go, Pippin is endearing, mischievous, and stellar. He elbows his way into the Fellowship, peers into the Palintir, and charms both Treebeard and the raving mad Denethor. “Fool of a Took!” cries Gandalf, after one of Pippin’s signature gaffs in the Mines of Moria.

4.) Just about everyone in the Harry Potter Series, by J.K. Rowling—Really these books are a cornucopia of delightful, palpable secondary characters. That is why they were able to get so many British greats to take cameos in the films. There are the scene-stealing twins, Fred and George Weasley; the feared and revered Professor McGonagall; the ditzy and dreamy Loony Lovegood; everyone’s favorite fugitive, wizard godfather Sirius Black, Tonks the ass-kicking, punk auror, oh and also Dobby, the house elf, and then Winky, the drunk elf. Really, I must stop, but it’s not easy…

5.) Nelly Dean, Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë—I actually do not like Nelly very much at all. She is the original unreliable narrator, presenting her story as if she were not taking sides while in reality she drives along the friction between characters. Knowing Heathcliff is in earshot, Nelly prods Cathy to say it would “degrade her” to marry him.” Decorum prevents me from using the apt word describe Nelly, but it rhymes with witch.

6.) Aunt Dahlia, The Jeeves and Wooster books, by P.G. Wodehouse—Again, I could have picked Aunt Agatha, aka ‘the nephew crusher,’ (or the simpering Madeline Bassett who calls stars “daisy chains,” or the completely daft Barmy Fortheringay Fipps, or Harold ‘Stinker’ Pinker). But Dahlia is the one of my favorites partly for the many whacky schemes into which she ensnares Bertie, but also for her line, “curse all dancing chauffeurs,” uttered after she gets locked out of Brinkley Manor during the servants ball. No wonder, Wodehouse titled a book, Aunts Aren’t Gentlemen.

7.) Everyone, Suite Française, by Irène Némirovsky— Némirovsky planned this as a sort of paean to Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace. It is a wonderful, shattering novel about the early days of World War II in France, as the Germans roll through Paris and the small villages. There are so many finely drawn and distinct characters: the parents of a son missing in battle; wealthy Parisians fleeing to resorts; and the kindly, well-mannered German officer who is also a musician. It is so heartbreaking that this novel was never finished.

8.) Aloysius, Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh—Sebastian’s teddy bear, who accompanies him to Oxford and upon most of his forays, is sort of a forerunner to Hobbes, the best friend of Calvin. Unlike that stuffed plush, though, Aloysius never comes to life, but often Sebastian can express his feelings, or avoid them, by attributing them to his teddy. “How silly, Aloysius wouldn’t approve of that at all.”

9.) Nick Adams, In Our Time, by Ernest Hemingway—Ok, so technically Nick is the *main* character. But he is so often the observer, giving us honest, at times awful, insights into those around him, like the brutal, clinical manner of his father in “Indian Camp.” Every few years I reread these stories because I always find something new in Nick’s view of the world. In “Big Two-Hearted River,” there is so much brewing under his subdued reactions to nature. “He went over and sat on the logs. He did not want to rush his sensations any.”

10.) Mma Potokwani, The No. 1 Ladies Detective Series, by Alexander McCall Smith—This bossy, but lovable mistress of the orphanage is like the bizarro Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Mma Potokwani orders people about and makes humorous demands, but all for the good of the orphans for whom she will go to (and push others to) just about any lengths. And of course Mma Ramotswe would not be happily married to the quiet, reserved Mr J.L.B. Matekoni, if Mma Potokwani hadn’t ambushed them with a surprise wedding!

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top 10 books read so far 2013

Some of my Top 10–the others have been passed along.

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly book blogger’s meme organized by The Broke and The Bookish. This week this topic is the Top Ten Books Read So Far in 2013.

Bring Up the Bodies, by Hilary Mantel
Technically I read this late last year, but I just loved it! It’s even better than Wolf Hall. I had to give it a shout-out as I’ve been meaning to blog about Mantel.

Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen (reread)
I have been rereading this in several iterations for the P&P Bicentenary Challenge. I was so excited to also discover a graphic novel version by Marvel.

Eventide, by Kent Haruf
Haruf returns to Holt, Colorado in his spare, inviting prose. This is a truly satisfying sequel to Plainsong, which I loved. I enjoyed but am not gushing over Benediction, his new book which takes place years later with a different cast.

My Ántonia, by Willa Cather (reread)
This achingly beautiful classic shows the hard life of early settlers in Nebraska. Cather paints a vivid and nostalgic picture of the last days of the red-grass prairies and that immense, untracked emptiness.

The Other Typist, by Suzanne Rindell
This is a twisty, pulpy, noir with a devious unreliable narrator. Rindell infuses her tale with the snazzy glamour of 1920’s New York: speakeasies, flappers, and lavish parties in the Hamptons.

Revolutionary Summer, by Joseph J Ellis
A fascinating and stirring read. Those who don’t normally read historical non-fiction will be quickly drawn in, and history buffs will find several new aspects to consider.

The Round House, by Louise Erdrich
I have long been entranced by the poetic, magical realism spun by Erdrich. This book also pulls readers along with a thread of suspense. This is not my favorite by Erdrich, but a very good book nonetheless.

Sinners and the Sea, by Rebecca Kanner
Kanner has given us a sharply drawn work of literary fiction that is also an addictive read. Narrated by Noah’s unnamed wife, this is a bit like Noah’s Ark meets The Red Tent meets the Titanic-in-reverse.

A Storm of Swords, by G.R.R. Martin
I cannot recommend these books enough! Martin has me totally wrapped up in this magical, mysterious realm. Be warned though—this series is unputdownable book crack.

Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella
Ah, another bubbly, chic-lit delight from Sophie Kinsella. This is one of her best and funniest, right up there with the first two Shopaholic books. Breezy, book candy. #BeachRead

Under the Dome, by Stephen King (almost done)
Ok, this makes 11, but I am surprised by how much I’m enjoying this! I haven’t read much King and was spurred to pick this up by the #DomeAlong group read. Suspense, psychological intrigue, and loaded with King’s trademark easter eggs.

What is the best book you have read so far this year? I’d really appreciate some book recommendations, please.

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