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.

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Review: The American Lady (The Glassblower Trilogy #2)

Book Title: The American Lady (The Glassblower Trilogy #2)

Book Author: Petra Durst-Benning

Book Rating: ☆☆☆ (3 out of 5 stars)

Synopsis: “Tempestuous and beautiful Wanda Miles, daughter of Ruth and Stephen Miles (or so she thinks), aspires to more than the life of a debutante, but the trouble is she doesn’t know precisely what she wants. Then her aunt Marie, the family’s renowned glassblower, arrives from Lauscha, Germany, and Wanda decides that learning about her ancestry may hold the key to her future. When Marie accidentally reveals a long-held secret about Wanda’s parents, Wanda goes to Lauscha to unravel the truth.

While Marie finds herself increasingly swept up in New York City’s bohemian social scene—catching the eye of a handsome young Italian in the process—Wanda explores a past she never knew in the village of her mother’s youth—and begins to build a life that she never expected.

A sweeping tale that takes readers from the small town of Lauscha to the skyscrapers of New York and the sun-kissed coast of Italy, The American Lady is a tribute to the enduring power of family and what we’ll do in the name of love.”

I think my expectations were just too high for this follow up to a book that I consider one of my all-time favorites, The Glassblower.  A lot of the things that I really enjoyed about the first book in this series were noticeably missing from this installment.  In the first book, I really enjoyed reading about the glassblowing process, and the town of Lauscha in Germany, and the relationships between the three Steinmann sisters.  All of those elements were either given in sparing amounts, or were missing altogether in this sequel.  In fact, the most engaging parts of this novel didn’t even begin until about a third of the way into the story.

This volume focuses very heavily on Marie, the youngest of the Steinmann sisters, and on her niece, Wanda, the daughter of Ruth Steinmann.  About 17 years have past since the events of the first book, and Marie wakes up on her 36th-ish birthday feeling restless.  For years, her art has been her whole life, but lately she has been feeling uninspired. On the advice of an old friend, she travels to America to see her sister, Ruth, for the first time in almost two decades, and becomes swept up in the New York art scene, and takes in the culture and beauty of the big city.  She ends up taking an Italian lover, who I did not at all care for. I was pretty surprised that she so quickly forgot about the man who had been her partner for nearly two decades, while following her new beau to Italy on a whim to start a new life.

Where in the first book Ruth was a sweet, hopeless romantic, she and her husband Steven are now fixtures of New York’s high society.  This Ruth is a far cry from the strong woman we were introduced to in book one, who risked everything to leave her abusive husband and protect her infant daughter.  This Ruth is more concerned with planning elaborate parties, and spending countless hours shopping on 5th Avenue.  She has never told her daughter, Wanda, the truth about who her father really is, and completely mishandles the situation when Marie does accidentally let the truth slip.

Johanna was probably my favorite character in the last book, and she was noticeably absent for most of this volume.  Luckily, I really began to like Wanda’s character and enjoyed watching her transformation in this story.  In the beginning, Wanda is a little aloof and spoiled, and seems to be struggling to find her own way in the world.  She quickly forms an intense bond with her aunt when Marie comes to visit.  Marie is also really instrumental in helping Wanda cope with discovering the truth about her father, especially since that was a topic that Ruth refused to discuss.  But when Marie essentially abandons Wanda to follow her new boyfriend, Wanda courageously makes the decision to travel to Germany on her own to learn more about her roots, and begins to find herself.

I can only really recommend this novel to true fans of the first installment; if your feelings about The Glassblower were lukewarm, then you should definitely pass on this one.

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

Cover Reveal: The Master Magician (The Paper Magician #3)

The cover for the final installment of The Paper Magician trilogy by Charlie N. Holmberg has been revealed, and it is just as lovely as the covers for the previous two installments…

Synopsis: “Throughout her studies, Ceony Twill has harbored a secret, one she’s kept from even her mentor, Emery Thane. She’s discovered how to practice forms of magic other than her own — an ability long thought impossible.

While all seems set for Ceony to complete her apprenticeship and pass her upcoming final magician’s exam, life quickly becomes complicated. To avoid favoritism, Emery sends her to another paper magician for testing, a Folder who despises Emery and cares even less for his apprentice. To make matters worse, a murderous criminal from Ceony’s past escapes imprisonment. Now she must track the power-hungry convict across England before he can take his revenge. With her life and loved ones hanging in the balance, Ceony must face a criminal who wields the one magic that she does not, and it may prove more powerful than all her skills combined.”

The novel is set to be released on June 2, 2015 by 47North!  In the meantime, feel free to go check out my reviews for the first and second books in the series.

Review: First Frost (Waverley Family #2)

Book Title: First Frost (Waverley Family #2)

Book Author: Sarah Addison Allen

Book Rating: ☆☆☆☆ (4 out of 5 stars)

Synopsis: “Autumn has finally arrived in the small town of Bascom, North Carolina, heralded by a strange old man appearing with a beaten-up suitcase. He has stories to tell, stories that could change the lives of the Waverley women forever. But the Waverleys have enough trouble on their hands. Quiet Claire Waverley has started a successful new venture, Waverley’s Candies, but it’s nothing like she thought it would be, and it’s slowly taking over her life. Claire’s wild sister Sydney, still trying to leave her past behind, is about to combust with her desire for another new beginning. And Sydney’s fifteen-year-old daughter Bay has given her heart away to the wrong boy and can’t get it back.

I was only recently introduced to this author and her memorizing, magical novels.  Again, this is typically not the type of book that I would typically be interested in, but I adore the Waverley family and didn’t hesitate to continue with their story.  More than anything else, I love the relationship between the two Waverley sisters, Claire and Sydney, which was featured again heavily in this follow-up.

Ten years have past since the events of the previous novel, Garden Spells. Sydney’s daughter, Bay, is now a teenager in high school and embraces her Waverley heritage more openly more than her mother.  Sydney now owns her own salon in Bascom, where she is free to use her gift of perfectly styling hair for any occasion.  She is happy with her life, but wants to give her husband, Henry another child.  And Claire has gone from local caterer to the next celebrity chef.  Her homemade candy business takes up the majority of her time, but she has begun to question whether or not her “unique” way with food is as special as she once thought.

I am not sure if the author is planning on writing any future novels about the Waverley family, but I would certain be eager to read anything else if she does in the future!  These are “feel good”, comforting books with a lot of depth and very memorable characters.  There was honestly nothing that I didn’t like about this book, except for the sections from the perspective of Russell Zahler, the mysterious con man with an odd fascination with the Waverley family.  I felt that there was enough going on in the story without having to learn more than was necessary about this secondary character.  Other than that one complaint, I loved this book, and I feel that fans Garden Spell will be very pleased with this beautiful sequel.

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

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, my fellow book lovers!  In the spirit of the new year, I wanted to make a list of the top 5 books that I am most looking forward to reading (so far) for 2015.

#1 – I Was Here by Gayle Forman.  Expected publication: January 27, 2015.

Blurb: “When her best friend Meg drinks a bottle of industrial-strength cleaner alone in a motel room, Cody is understandably shocked and devastated. She and Meg shared everything—so how was there no warning? But when Cody travels to Meg’s college town to pack up the belongings left behind, she discovers that there’s a lot that Meg never told her. About her old roommates, the sort of people Cody never would have met in her dead-end small town in Washington. About Ben McAllister, the boy with a guitar and a sneer, who broke Meg’s heart. And about an encrypted computer file that Cody can’t open—until she does, and suddenly everything Cody thought she knew about her best friend’s death gets thrown into question.”

#2 – The Fury (The Queen of Hearts Saga #3) by Colleen Oakes.  Expected publication: February 14, 2015.

Blurb: “Wounded by a broken heart, Dinah wages an all-out war to defeat her evil father and reign over Wonderland as sole ruler. But will her humanity survive the fight?”

#3 – Whisper Hollow by Chris Cander.  Expected publication: March 17, 2015.

Blurb: “One morning in Verra, a town nestled into the hillsides of West Virginia, the young Myrthen Bergmann is playing tug-of-war with her twin, when her sister is killed. Unable to accept her own guilt, Myrthen excludes herself from all forms of friendship and affection and begins a twisted, haunted life dedicated to God. Meanwhile, her neighbor Alta Krol longs to be an artist even as her days are taken up caring for her widowed father and siblings. Everything changes when Myrthen marries the man Alta loves. Fourteen years later, we meet Lidia, a teenage girl in the same town, and her precocious son, Gabriel. When Gabriel starts telling eerily prescient stories that hint at Verra’s long-buried secrets, it’s not long before the townspeople begin to suspect that the boy harbors evil spirits—an irresistible state of affairs for Myrthen and her obsession with salvation.

#4 – The American Lady (The Glassblower Trilogy #2) by Petra Durst-Benning.  Expected publication: March 10, 2015.

Blurb: “Tempestuous and beautiful Wanda Miles, daughter of Ruth and Stephen Miles (or so she thinks), aspires to more than the life of a debutante, but the trouble is she doesn’t know precisely what she wants. Then her aunt Marie, the family’s renowned glassblower, arrives from Lauscha, Germany, and Wanda decides that learning about her ancestry may hold the key to her future. When Marie accidentally reveals a long-held secret about Wanda’s parents, Wanda goes to Lauscha to unravel the truth.  While Marie finds herself increasingly swept up in New York City’s bohemian social scene—catching the eye of a handsome young Italian in the process—Wanda explores a past she never knew in the village of her mother’s youth—and begins to build a life that she never expected.

#5 – Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell.  Expected publication: August 4, 2015.

Blurb: “Nicolette’s awful stepsisters call her “Mechanica” to demean her, but the nickname fits: she learned to be an inventor at her mother’s knee. Her mom is gone now, though, and the Steps have turned her into a servant in her own home. But on her sixteenth birthday, Nicolette discovers a secret workshop in the cellar and begins to dare to imagine a new life for herself. Could the mysterious books and tools hidden there—and the mechanical menagerie, led by a tiny metal horse named Jules—be the key to escaping her dreary existence? With a technological exposition and royal ball on the horizon, the timing might just be perfect for Nicolette to earn her freedom at last.