Slightly Subpar Sequels

There’s nothing better than getting sucked into a series where you just want to keep reading book after book.  But for every series like Girl of Fire and Thorns, where I found the second book to be a huge improvement on the first, there is also a series where the quality dips after the first, or the story goes off in a completely different direction.  I read a couple of books recently that, while perfectly fine books, did not live up to their predecessors in my mind.

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Dragonshadow

By Elle Katharine White

I enjoyed the initial book Heartstone (billed as Pride and Prejudice with dragons) earlier this year; however this follow up went in a bit of a different direction and lost my interest.

For a series where the first entry adhered almost completely to the plot points of P&P, the second book takes a hard left and, aside from the characters of the previous book and an occasional “sir,” has no relation to Austen or the Regency whatsoever that I could tell.  The closest connection I could make is Northanger Abbey, both involving a visit to a mysterious house of secrets, but since everything that Aliza imagines at Castle Selwyn is actually true, the lesson seems to have been lost.

As much as I wasn’t crazy about the slavish adherence to P&P in the first book, without the Austen connection the sequel lost one of the things that drew me to the series and became just a decent generic fantasy. (I did like that it incorporates further mythological creatures instead.)  Another issue is that without the P&P backbone, this story is not as tightly plotted and seemed like it was stretched out to make a trilogy. It takes the entire first half of the book for Aliza and Alastair to get where they are going, which seemed like a very slow start to me.

But as a last note, it does take a serious and mature look at some difficult aspects of married life that I think is great for a YA novel to explore.
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Suitors and Sabotage

By Cindy Anstey

This YA Regency intrigue was entertaining but kind of forgettable. I discovered the first two books when I was on a Regency romance kick, and really enjoyed them, but I didn’t really feel anything special about this one. Perhaps the formula is getting old for me? (Though these 3 books are similar, they are more companion novels than a series; there is no overlap in characters and no overarching plotline.)

I think the level of tension and drama was not quite up to the level of the first two books.  For comparison, the first book Love, Lies, and Spies begins with the heroine hanging off a cliff; this one starts with a lovely picnic among some scenic ruins.  It was also less epic in scope, nothing to do with international espionage or even kidnapping, just some vaguely threatening events.

 

Overall, I’d give these two sequels 3/5 stars, while I probably would have rated their predecessors around 4 stars.  While I enjoyed reading them, I doubt I’ll continue with either series, or ever revisit them in the future. On to better books!

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #58: Something Old, New, Borrowed, and Blue

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Old and New

One of the my favorite things about Rome was the constant juxtaposition of things modern and ancient…and plenty of things in between!  There is so much history in this city, but it is living history.  Imagine seeing these buildings on your commute every day!

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Borrowed and Blue

Like many European cities, Dublin has bikes widely available for rental.  I loved seeing the long rows of them, broken only when someone had borrowed one.  The ads on the bikes are for Coke Zero (is that as popular in Europe as here?), but the Dublin Bikes logo is in blue.

You can find more old, new, borrowed, and blue things at the original Lens-Artist challenge.

Fan Art Friday: Summertime Sakura

Another Cardcaptor Sakura sketch from my high school sketchbook!

I imagine that she’s calling to some birds as she sits in the tree.  The cute little sundress is very summery, and the shoes are ballet-inspired (I was a dancer).

It’s interesting that there are no Clow Cards anywhere in the picture.  Normally my Sakura drawings are battle costumes, but this one is just an everyday scene.

I think I traced some of this, but I don’t remember exactly what.  I love the expression though; it’s very Sakura-chan!

Lens-Artists Challenge #57 – Taking A Break

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My friend Bridgie takes a breather to enjoy the view in the Picos de Europa in Cantabria, Spain.  Our group took the teleférico up and hiked all around in the crisp air, enjoying views such as this:

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You can find more breaks being taken at the original Lens-Artist challenge.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #56: Seascapes and/or Lakeshore

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Killary Harbour is Ireland’s only fjord, which technically is neither a sea nor a lake, but it still makes for a cool-looking waterscape.  The fjord was made by a glacier on its way to the Atlantic ocean.  Even with the clouds it was a lovely sight.  There was even a pair of swans floating around, and some decorative landscaping spelling “Fáilte” or “welcome.”

You can find more seascapes at the original Lens-Artist challenge.