Review: Seas (Wendy Darling #2)

Book Title: Seas (Wendy Darling #2)

Book Author: Colleen Oakes

Book Rating: ☆☆☆☆ (4 out of 5 stars)

Published: September 20, 2016

Synopsis: “Wendy Darling: Seas finds Wendy and Michael aboard the dreaded Sudden Night, a dangerous behemoth sailed by the infamous Captain Hook and his bloodthirsty crew. In this exotic world of mermaids, spies, and pirate feuds, Wendy finds herself struggling to keep her family above the waves. Hunted by the twisted boy who once stole her heart and struggling to survive in the whimsical Neverland sea, returning home to London now seems like a distant dream—and the betrayals have just begun.

Will Wendy find shelter with Peter’s greatest enemy, or is she a pawn in a much darker game—one that could forever alter not only her family’s future but also the soul of Neverland itself?

Colleen Oakes’ twisted re-telling of Peter Pan continues in this adventurous sequel to the first installment.  While the first book in the series was good, I definitely prefer this follow-up.  Seas was much more exciting and the plot line seemed to move along much more smoothly.  The story picks up exactly where the last left off: With Wendy Darling and her brother Michael being taken on to Captain Hook’s ship after escaping from the sadistic Peter Pan.  Wendy and Hook become unlikely allies in the fight against Peter Pan, and they each begin to share with each other their knowledge of Pan in the hopes that they can eventually find a way to defeat him and escape Neverland.

One of my favorite things about Oakes’ books are the wonderfully detailed descriptions that she paints with her words.  I could see Neverland…I could felt as though I could sense the rocking of the pirate ship, feel the pearlescent sands of Port Duette under my feet, and there were even moments when my heart pounded with suspense.  As I mentioned before, I felt that this installment had much more action than its predecessor, and I enjoyed watching Wendy develop into a strong woman willing to do whatever it takes to protect her brothers and herself, and to find their way back home.

Like its predecessor, this book ends with…not really a cliffhanger, but a surprising turn that will leave you wanting more!  I can’t wait for the last book in the trilogy to be released later this year!

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book through Netgalley.

Review: Stars (Wendy Darling #1)

Book Title: Stars (Wendy Darling #1)

Book Author: Colleen Oakes

Book Rating: ☆☆☆ (3 out of 5 stars)

Published: October 12, 2015

Synopsis: “Wendy Darling has a perfectly agreeable life with her parents and brothers in wealthy London, as well as a budding romance with Booth, the neighborhood bookseller’s son. But while their parents are at a ball, the charmingly beautiful Peter Pan comes to the Darling children’s nursery and—dazzled by this flying boy with god-like powers—they follow him out of the window and straight on to morning, to Neverland, a intoxicating island of feral freedom.

As time passes in Neverland, Wendy realizes that this Lost Boy’s paradise of turquoise seas, mermaids, and pirates holds terrible secrets rooted in blood and greed. As Peter’s grasp on her heart tightens, she struggles to remember where she came from—and begins to suspect that this island of dreams, and the boy who desires her—have the potential to transform into an everlasting nightmare.

This is actually the second Peter Pan retelling that I have read this year, the first of which was Neverland by Shari Arnold. This retelling was much less modern, and more closely resembled the classic fairy tale that we all know.  I have read and enjoyed the first two installments of Colleen Oakes’s other fairy tale series, based on the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, so I was very eager to read her spin on Peter Pan.

We first meeting the Darling family in early 1900’s London.  Wendy is a sixteen year girl with a blossoming romance with the local bookseller’s son, Booth.  When Wendy’s father learns of this romance, he forbids her from seeing her love ever again.  Utterly heartbroken, Wendy is easily lured one night from her bedroom to Neverland by the mysterious, flying Peter Pan, with her younger brothers (John and Michael) in tow.  While at first Neverland seems like a magical, wonderful place, it later becomes very clear that there are some very evil things lying just under the surface.  The truth about Neverland was slowly revealed (maybe a bit too slowly?), and Wendy becomes desperate to save herself and her young brothers from its horrors.

The story kept me engaged, and the descriptive writing was beautiful, however, the dialog left a lot to be desired.  I thought more than once that the conversations seemed very awkward and strange.  Overall, I think the best way to summarize this book would be to imagine the original Peter Pan story, add a dash of Lord of the Flies, with a generous helping of angsty YA romance.  And while this book didn’t completely live up to my expectations, I will definitely be reading the next installment in the series…Oakes has set the series up to take a very interesting turn.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book through Netgalley.

Review: Neverland

Book Title: Neverland

Book Author: Shari Arnold

Book Rating: ☆☆☆☆ (4 out of 5 stars)

Synopsis: “It’s been four months since seventeen-year-old Livy Cloud lost her younger sister, but she isn’t quite ready to move on with her life — not even close. She’d rather spend her time at the Seattle Children’s hospital, reading to the patients and holding onto memories of the sister who was everything to her and more.

But when she meets the mysterious and illusive Meyer she is drawn into a world of adventure, a world where questions abound.

Is she ready to live life without her sister? Or more importantly, is she brave enough to love again?

In this modern reimagining of Peter Pan, will Livy lose herself to Neverland or will she find what she’s been searching for?”

I knew I really wanted to read this book from the moment that I read its description; it just sounded so promising.  The story started off a little slowly for me.  That isn’t to say that it isn’t well written, I just wasn’t sure where the author was going with the plot.  We are introduced to Livy Cloud, a teenage girl who lost her little sister to leukemia just a few months before.  Livy still volunteers at the children’s hospital where her sister received treatment, and wants to become a bone marrow donor so she can save another family from the heartache that hers has been experiencing.  While I liked Livy, at times I found her a little dull, but she slowly grew on me as the book progressed.  Because of her sister’s illness and death, her family is splintered, with each of her parents dealing with their loss in their own, ineffective ways.

Livy doesn’t really have much to look forward to these days, until she meets the enthralling Meyer.  They form an instant connection, but Livy is puzzled by his frustratingly elusive nature. It was pretty clear from the moment that Meyer was introduced that he was the “Peter Pan” of this retelling.  But for the first half of the book, that was about as much “fairytale” as I got.  This book was honestly more about Livy’s grief than anything else.  And while that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, I kept thinking, “This book is called Neverland…are we ever going to see Neverland?” It is not until the second part of the book that things get really interesting.  And yes, readers do eventually get to see Neverland…and the author’s interpretation of this magical place is very beautiful, and the descriptive writing blew me away.

Overall, I did enjoy this book, and I thought that this was a very complex and beautiful twist on a classic fairytale; there were just a few things that I felt could have been a bit stronger.  My rating is probably closer to 3.5 stars, but I rounded up because I was impressed by the many layers of this story.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book through Netgalley.

Friday Finds – 4/3/15

FRIDAY FINDS showcases the books you ‘found’ and added to your To Be Read (TBR) list… whether you found them online, or in a bookstore, or in the library — wherever! (they aren’t necessarily books you purchased).  This weekly event is hosted by A Daily Rhythm!

Oddly enough, this is my second Friday Finds in a row that includes a Peter Pan retelling!  I found this book through Netgalley, and am incredibly grateful to have had my request to read this title approved!  I just started reading it today and have liked what I’ve read so far.  The author posted part of the first chapter on her blog, so you can go here to read a small sample.

Book Title: Neverland

Book Author: Shari Arnold

Expected Publication: April 7, 2015

It’s been four months since seventeen-year-old Livy Cloud lost her younger sister, but she isn’t quite ready to move on with her life — not even close. She’d rather spend her time at the Seattle Children’s hospital, reading to the patients and holding onto memories of the sister who was everything to her and more.

But when she meets the mysterious and illusive Meyer she is drawn into a world of adventure, a world where questions abound.

Is she ready to live life without her sister? Or more importantly, is she brave enough to love again?

In this modern reimagining of Peter Pan, will Livy lose herself to Neverland or will she find what she’s been searching for?”

Friday Finds – 3/27/15

FRIDAY FINDS showcases the books you ‘found’ and added to your To Be Read (TBR) list… whether you found them online, or in a bookstore, or in the library — wherever! (they aren’t necessarily books you purchased).  This weekly event is hosted by A Daily Rhythm!

Last year, I read the first two installments of Colleen Oakes’ The Queen of Hearts trilogy and loved her spin on the story of Dinah, the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland.  I had heard that she is working on another fairy tale retelling series, and this week the release date was announced and the cover revealed!  I will definitely be picking up this one come fall!

Book Title: Stars (Wendy Darling #1)

Book Author: Colleen Oakes

Expected Publication: October 13, 2015

Wendy Darling takes readers far beyond the second star to the right and straight on till morning. It is the story of a girl loved by two men—the steady and handsome bookseller’s son from London and Peter Pan, dashing, charming, and dangerous. From the cobblestone streets of London to the fantastical world of Neverland’s many secrets, readers will love watching Wendy’s journey as she grows from a girl into a woman, and realizes that Neverland, like her heart, is a wild place, teaming with dark secrets and dangerous obsessions.