The Calm After the Storm: Good Vibes for 2021

by Hope Hanson
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Hey, everyone! So, this month, I decided to join the Goodreads group Top 5 Wednesday to get a kickstart for some more varied book-related content! Let me know your own thoughts on the prompt in the comments!


2020 is finally over! Thank goodness, no? We can only hope that this year will be better than its predecessor. What are some books where the first book was really stressful and then the sequel was much happier and laid back? It’s doesn’t even have to be a sequel. Novellas and add-on books can normally be a lot calmer than the original series. Let’s prepare for some good vibes for 2021!

(This month’s prompts were provided by Alex (The Scribe Owl). Top 5 Wednesday was created by GingerReadsLainey.)

Honestly? This one challenged me. I read a lot of trilogies and series, so the tension usually just heightens in the second book. Still, after a couple hours of browsing my shelves (read: desperately searching my mental catalogue of books I’ve read) I managed to find a few good examples! Though, full disclosure, I genuinely couldn’t think of any true sequels… Here’s to hoping my shoddily thrown together list is at the very least entertaining to one person!

And, without further ado, here is my list of happy sequels to give you all the good reading vibes for 2021:

#1: Night Flights by Philip Reeves

Philip Reeves Night Flights cover

This first one is a companion novel; it consists of three short stories about one of my favorite characters from this series, Anna Fang. I wouldn’t necessarily call them “lighthearted,” since they’re not just fluff pieces; still, they were exciting, and it’s always fun to learn more about characters I love!

Find it here!

#2: How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories by Holly Black

Holly Black King of Elfhame cover

This one is a companion novella to Holly Black’s wonderful The Folk of the Air series, which I’m sure most of you have either read or heard of. Again, this one isn’t just fluff. It does, though, have a lighter tone than the rest of my series; actually, in my opinion, it had a pretty hopeful feel to it, despite some of actual plot being decidedly not so. You can check out more of my thoughts on it here, if you’re interested!

Find it here!

#3: Opal by Maggie Stiefvater

Maggie Stiefvater Opal short story cover

Admittedly, I might be stretching it a bit with this short story. But I couldn’t not include it! Although there’s some sadder bits in this, there’s just so much sweetness, too! Though, Opal’s perspective is interesting as well as sweet. Really, just a beautiful addition to the end of The Raven Cycle!

Find it here!

#4: Merlin’s Dragon by T.A. Barron

T.A. Barron Merlin's Dragon cover

Okay, this one’s a little complicated and is technically the sixth Merlin book. But I’m counting it as a sequel because it shifts focus! It’s about the adorable little lizard-like creature named Basil and his many adventures. Honestly, each of Basil’s books are great, but I especially loved this first one. (Side note: This got refurbished and was given the new title The Dragon of Avalon, but this is the version I first read, so I’m partial to it!)

Find it here!

#5: Beren and Lúthien by J.R.R. Tolkien

JRR Tolkien Beren and Luthien book cover

Admittedly, the story of Beren and Lúthien isn’t lighthearted or stress-free. (Though, there are a number of incredibly inspiring aspects!) Still, I’m including this particular book because it’s really a study on the evolution of the story; which, for me and I’m sure for plenty of others, does make this a laid-back, enjoyable read!

Find it here!

I genuinely didn’t realize just how few standalones I read before I had to wrack my brains to find one with a happy sequel and couldn’t. Maybe I’ll make that one of my reading goals this year…

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this, and happy reading! Let me know some of your own favorite happy sequels!

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