Top 5 Wednesday: Second Book is Best

This week’s Top 5 Wednesday (check out the Good Reads group) is: Second Book is BestWe’ve talked about series that went downhill, and series that are worth it, but which series were best in the middle?

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1. Golden Son (Red Rising #2) by Pierce Brown. The first book was great, but this second book in the Red Rising series just blew me away. One of my all time favorite books.

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2. Scarlet & Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #2 & #3) by Marissa Meyer. (Since there are 4 books in this series I’m counting the middle two books as one.) I remember not being all that impressed with Cinder, but the books just kept getting better after that.

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3. Red Glove (Curse Workers #2) by Holly Black. With all the 5 star reviews I saw of the first book I ended up being a little disappointed. But then I read Red Glove and it was everything I expected the first book to be. I loved it.

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4. For Better or Worse (The Wedding Belles #2) by Lauren Layne. Even though I ended up reading this series in reverse order, it was still the second book I read and my favorite of the whole series.

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5. New Uses for Old Boyfriends (Black Dog Bay #2) by Beth Kendrick. This was actually the first book in the series I read, but I thought it (and the following books in the series) was a big improvement over the first book.

What are some of your picks for Second Book is Best?

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Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag

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I saw Deanna over at A Novel Glimpse do this tag and thought it seemed better than the mid-year post I was thinking about doing, so I decided to tag myself for it.

Best Book You’ve Read Yet in 2016.

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Golden Son (Red Rising #2) by Pierce Brown.

I think the 2nd book in this series is my favorite because it’s here that it separates itself from The Hunger Games comparisons, it’s action-packed (which I normally am not a huge fan of, but LOVED it here), had a billion surprises and twists throughout, and also really brought the emotion. This book is probably the closest I’ve ever gotten to rating a book 5 stars on my blog.

Best Sequel You’ve Read So Far in 2016.

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Red Glove (Curse Workers #2) by Holly Black.

Ok, so obviously Golden Son would be this answer, too, since it’s a sequel and it’s my favorite…but Red Glove was also an exceptional sequel. I thought it was much better than the first book and I really enjoyed it.

New Release You Haven’t Read Yet But Want To.

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The Power (Titan #2) by Jennifer L Armentrout (published 2/23/16)

Seth is one of my favorite JLA characters and I was really looking forward to this…but I just haven’t gotten to it yet. I’ve been waiting for it to come to the library, but it hasn’t yet.

Most Anticipated Release for the Second Half of the Year.

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Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2) by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows was one of my top three books of 2015 and I’m soooo excited fort the sequel. I love the characters so much and can’t wait to see what happens. You can read a sneak peak of it here!

Biggest Disappointment.

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Tell the Wind and Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan

After completely falling in love with Brennan’s Lynburn Legacy series, I was so looking forward to reading more from her, but I found myself pretty disappointed with this book. The quick-witted humor and banter that I had come to expect from Brennan was missing. Perhaps I would have liked this better if I had read A Tale of Two Cities?

Biggest Surprise.

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The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

Despite having this on my TBR for a long time, I wasn’t really expecting anything from it, but I really, really enjoyed it! While it does have some cheesy moments, it had excellent character development and a whole lot more emotional depth than I was expecting.

Favorite New Author.

Pierce Brown

I am completely blown away by Pierce Brown’s writing. Despite not really being a fan of sci-fi or action, his Red Rising series has become one of my favorite series of all time. I will read anything this man ever writes. And you should, too.

Newest Fictional Crush.

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Somebody Nobody (and his real life self) in Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

I won’t tell you the character’s actual name because it’s a spoiler (even though you can probably guess who it is within the first couple chapters), but I love his quick wit and his vulnerability, and that he’s always there for Jessie (even if he’s not physically there for much of it)

Newest Favorite Character.

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Cassel from the Curse Workers series.

He’s smart, funny, and so sarcastic. He’s just a fun, cool character to read about.

Book That Made You Cry.

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Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

I don’t think the average person will cry at this, but I identified SO MUCH with the main character and so many of her struggles. I honestly think I have some undiagnosed OCD, which just makes so much more sense of my life.

Book That Made You Happy.

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Epic Fail by Claire LaZebnik

This is a super cute Pride and Prejudice re-telling. Nothing spectacular, but it was fun to read.

Favorite Book to Film Adaptation.

The only ones I can think of that I’ve watched this year are Mockingjay Part 2, which was my least favorite one in the series, unfortunately, and The Convenient Groom (on Hallmark) which was so different than the book that I had a hard time enjoying it.

Favorite Post You Have Done This Year.

This year has not been a great blogging year for me so far, but I have managed a couple of original posts

Love Stinks: Toxic and Unbearable Relationships in Fiction

This Book is Making me Nervous – Novels that Feature Characters with Anxiety Disorder

Most Beautiful Book You’ve Bought This Year.

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Morning Star (Red Rising #3) by Pierce Brown

Because I’m using the purchase of books as weight loss rewards, I’ve only bought a handful so far this year and this has been the best (both the cover and what’s on the inside)

What Books Do You Need to Read by the End of the Year.

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Among the Wicked (Kate Burkholder #8) by Linda Castillo

The Kept Woman (Will Trent #8) by Karin Slaughter

P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

Feel free to tag yourself if you’d like to participate

Thoughts on the Curse Workers series by Holly Black

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(Click on the pictures to go to the book’s Good Reads page)

I tried really hard to do a nice series review of the Curse Workers by Holly Black, but for some reason it just didn’t turn out how I wanted it to. I was just going to give up, but I ended up really enjoying this series and want to give it some recognition, so I thought I’d just share some random thoughts about it.

This book was pretty different than most YA books and I really appreciated it. I think sometimes authors try to hard to teach us some sort of big life lesson and it doesn’t always work for me. While Cassel does have character growth, he doesn’t really become a “better” person and he has no plans to lead a life free of crime. It’s probably kind of wrong to say on a moral level, but I really liked that about him. I liked that he could grow as a character without completely changing himself.

-I LOVE Cassel! In White Cat I liked him, but didn’t love him, but in Red Glove I really became all about him. He does try really hard to do the right thing – though his definition of “right” is often pretty skewed. He’s clever and sarcastic and I absolutely loved watching him be cunning and conning.

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-I loved the friendship between Cassel and his roommate Sam. It really grew throughout the series. Cassel has tried really hard to act like a normal kid and not a member of a worker family with ties to the mob and a mother in prison. He doesn’t really let himself get close to anyone, but he does start to trust Sam. I loved seeing their friendship grow. Cassel was always trying to shield Sam, but Sam had no interest in being protected. He was a true friend, always looking out for Cassel and helping out whenever he was needed. I loved that Cassel also had Sam’s back, too. They also have sooo many great banter-y moments.

-While Cassel’s love/obsession for Lila is a strong and recurring theme through the series, it doesn’t take a lot of actual time up within the pages – which I appreciate because I like a little romance in most books, but I don’t want to be overwhelmed by it (unless it’s an actual romance or a cute contemporary). I ended up being overall satisfied with how things between Lila and Cassel played out, but I can’t say I cared much about it in the first couple books. I found it more interesting how Cassel viewed Lila and how she motivated him than their actual romantic relationship. That said, by the end of Black Heart I was shipping them.

-The other big romance in the series is between Sam and Daneca. I really liked them in White Cat and about half of Red Glove, but then their drama got a little annoying. I really didn’t like when Barron entered the equation, but I ended up feeling bad for him. This development is one of the things I wished was resolved before the end of the series.

Cassel Sharpe. White Cat. The Curse Workers Trilogy. Holly Black:

-Cassel has one super dysfunctional family. While they do want to take care of each other and want the best for each other, they all have pretty radically different ideas of what that means. Cassel is lied to for most of his life and made to do things he doesn’t want to do because his family thinks that’s what’s best for him (and for them). And even when his mother or brothers do horrible things to him, Cassel still tries to help them. My favorite relative is definitely Cassel’s grandfather, who I think is the only one that really has Cassel’s best interest at heart, without having any type of selfish motive.

Some of the big twists throughout the series became pretty obvious long before Cassel figured it out. Especially who was guilty of the big murder in Red Glove. Still, though, I enjoyed watching him figure it out.

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-The Cons!!! This is quite easily my favorite parts of the books. Cassel is an excellent con man and I loved watching him get away with stuff. Or not really get away with stuff, but still manage to come out basically unscathed.

Overall, I really enjoyed this series! I definitely recommend it to fans of YA/Fantasy. Cassel has become one of my favorite YA characters and I hope you grow to adore him as much as I do!

Individual Ratings:

White Cat: 3 Stars

Red Glove: 4 Stars

Black Heart: 4 Stars

Series Rating: 4 Stars

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