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 One Thing

Book Title: The One Thing

Book Author: Marci Lyn Curtis

Book Rating: ☆☆☆☆ (4 out of 5 stars)

Published: September 8, 2015

Synopsis: “Maggie Sanders might be blind, but she won’t invite anyone to her pity party. Ever since losing her sight six months ago, Maggie’s rebellious streak has taken on a life of its own, culminating with an elaborate school prank. Maggie called it genius. The judge called it illegal.

Now Maggie has a probation officer. But she isn’t interested in rehabilitation, not when she’s still mourning the loss of her professional-soccer dreams, and furious at her so-called friends, who lost interest in her as soon as she could no longer lead the team to victory.

Then Maggie’s whole world is turned upside down. Somehow, incredibly, she can see again. But only one person: Ben, a precocious ten-year-old unlike anyone she’s ever met. Ben’s life isn’t easy, but he doesn’t see limits, only possibilities. After awhile, Maggie starts to realize that losing her sight doesn’t have to mean losing everything she dreamed of. Even if what she’s currently dreaming of is Mason Milton, the infuriatingly attractive lead singer of Maggie’s new favorite band, who just happens to be Ben’s brother.

But when she learns the real reason she can see Ben, Maggie must find the courage to face a once-unimaginable future… before she loses everything she has grown to love.”

I am really surprised that this book isn’t receiving more attention…it was pretty great! As the synopsis states, Maggie has recently gone blind, but she hasn’t taken the time to properly process and deal with her loss.  Instead, she cuts off all of her old friends, and completely closes herself off from the possibility of moving on with her life. That is until she meets young Ben Milton…a person she can actually see…and she learns her disability doesn’t have to prevent her from living again.

For a book dealing with such a heavy subject, this story was hilarious.  I absolutely adored Maggie and all of her little quips. I thought that the reason Maggie could see Ben was way too obvious, so I never really considered it as a possibility, but it ended up not taking too much away from the story.  Other than that, the romance was sweet, but I particularly enjoyed seeing Maggie’s relationships with her friends and family begin to repair over the course of the book.  The author took us through the process of Maggie dealing with and healing from the tremendous loss of her vision in a way that was very believable.

Please read this book, I don’t think you will be disappointed!

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

Review: The Truth About Forever

Book Title: The Truth About Forever

Book Author: Sarah Dessen

Book Rating: ☆☆☆☆ (4 out of 5 stars)

Published: May 11, 2004

Synopsis: “A long, hot summer…That’s what Macy has to look forward to while her boyfriend, Jason, is away at Brain Camp. Days will be spent at a boring job in the library, evenings will be filled with vocabulary drills for the SATs, and spare time will be passed with her mother, the two of them sharing a silent grief at the traumatic loss of Macy’s father.

But sometimes, unexpected things can happen—things such as the catering job at Wish, with its fun-loving, chaotic crew. Or her sister’s project of renovating the neglected beach house, awakening long-buried memories. Things such as meeting Wes, a boy with a past, a taste for Truth-telling, and an amazing artistic talent, the kind of boy who could turn any girl’s world upside down. As Macy ventures out of her shell, she begins to question her sheltered life.”

This book isn’t exactly new, and I don’t know how much I can add by writing another review, so I will keep this brief.  I do want to mention that what I have noticed about most of the negative reviews about this book are the words “too slow” or “boring”.  This book does take a few chapters to get really interesting, but once it got good…it was really good.  Even if this book doesn’t immediately hook you in, don’t give up on it!  By the end, I promise you will love Macy as much as I did.

I feel that the synopsis doesn’t really do this book justice.  It makes it sound like just another young adult romance (which I guess it technically is), but it is about so much more.  It is about learning to deal with an overwhelming loss, moving forward, and finding yourself again.  The completely swoon worthy boy is really just an added bonus. 🙂

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: Everything, Everything

Book Title: Everything, Everything

Book Author: Nicola Yoon

Book Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆ (5 out of 5 stars)

Expected Publication: September 1, 2015

Synopsis: “My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.”

My God, where do I start with this review?  This book was like eating a delicious dessert in a just a few bites, and then afterward feeling sad that you’re finished and have none left to enjoy. I like reading a good romance every now and then, but there has to be something really special about it to hook me in.  This novel is completely unique and I loved every single page.

Madeline has just turned 18, and hasn’t left her home in almost that amount of time.  She has an incredibly rare disorder called Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID), which essentially makes her allergic to the world.  Her life is essentially one big bubble, and she has no interactions with anyone outside of her mother and her nurse.  Her father and brother died when Madeline was a baby, so her mother (also a doctor) is incredibly protective of her because of her illness.  Madeline really doesn’t have much of a desire to change her situation; this life is all she has ever known and she doesn’t want much more.  That is, until a new family moves in next door.  She becomes obsessed with watching this family, especially the cute boy right about her age.  Madeline begins communicating with this boy, named Olly, first by messages that they pantomime to each other, then by e-mail exchanges.  But when they finally meet in person, Madeline comes alive.  She realizes how much she is missing out on in the real world, not just love, but everything.  Madeline and Olly try to navigate through the uncertainty of young love, all while not even being able to touch each other for fear that it will make Madeline sick.  Suddenly, nothing is Madeline’s highly structured life is enough anymore.

This was a beautiful story, with a surprise ending that I could not have predicted.  Everything, Everything is Nicola Yoon’s first novel, and she is going to be on my short list of authors that I will automatically read anything they publish from now on.

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