Review: Wendy Darling: Seas

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Goodreads 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?

I enjoyed this much more then the first installment, the entire world expands. Neverland is no longer limited to Pan Island or Peter’s mesmerizing presence. Along with Captain Hook we see far more of Neverland and the far reaching influence of Peter Pan.

I immensely enjoyed watching Wendy navigate the new world of pirates; and Michael melting the hearts of all those salty men. Seeing beyond the rough exteriors of the pirates only amplifies the hidden depths of Hook. Watching he and Wendy create a familial bond through their common suffering under Peter’s hand, and common goal of bringing him to a stop is at the center of this installment. Hook becomes more human as he reveals the layers to himself – the depths of his caring and need to save all of Neverland.

Wendy is certainly becoming braver, and I really enjoyed watching her learn how to fight for herself and her family. Her constant thinking of Booth and her parents prove that she is no longer under Peter’s influence, and gives her that extra motivation to push herself past the limits she assumed she had.

Learning about the Shadow, Wendy’s role in ridding Peter of such an influence, and how the overall effects could not only impact her ability to return home but also the entirety of Neverland . . . it’s a lot. I am very interested to see how the last installment of this story turns out, especially with the arrival of Booth and the position it puts Wendy in as she works to con Peter. I eagerly await the finale to this series.

 

 

 

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Review: The Glittering Court

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Big and sweeping, spanning from the refined palaces of Osfrid to the gold dust and untamed forests of Adoria, The Glittering Court tells the story of Adelaide, an Osfridian countess who poses as her servant to escape an arranged marriage and start a new life in Adoria, the New World. But to do that, she must join the Glittering Court.

Both a school and a business venture, the Glittering Court is designed to transform impoverished girls into upper-class ladies who appear destined for powerful and wealthy marriages in the New World. Adelaide naturally excels in her training, and even makes a few friends: the fiery former laundress Tamsin and the beautiful Sirminican refugee Mira. She manages to keep her true identity hidden from all but one: the intriguing Cedric Thorn, son of the wealthy proprietor of the Glittering Court.

When Adelaide discovers that Cedric is hiding a dangerous secret of his own, together they hatch a scheme to make the best of Adelaide’s deception. Complications soon arise—first as they cross the treacherous seas from Osfrid to Adoria, and then when Adelaide catches the attention of a powerful governor.

But no complication will prove quite as daunting as the potent attraction simmering between Adelaide and Cedric. An attraction that, if acted on, would scandalize the Glittering Court and make them both outcasts in wild, vastly uncharted lands…

I had been having trouble focusing on reading to I wanted something light; this definitely fit the bill.

I had a really hard time categorizing this book, it wasn’t fantasy, it wasn’t historical fiction . . . but I felt like it should have been. With the obvious parallels between Adoria and the American colonies, Osfrid and the UK, the want of eligible young women in this new world, and the tensions between the natives and colonizers. . . not to mention the Puritan like colonies in the north, and the Rhode Island like colony being founded for religious freedom . . .why didn’t Mead just do a little research and go ahead and make it historical fiction?

Besides my confusion, this was actually pretty good. I have had Vampire Academy  on my TBR for a while, so maybe I will finally give that a go. The main characters are well developed and pleasantly mature. There was a refreshing lack of hormonal angst, and our characters are resigned to the fact that they probably won’t end up together because sometimes that’s just how life works.

I did think the ‘selling’ of the girls, outside of a historical context, would be perceived in a negative light by readers, but from the reviews I saw no one seemed to have much of a problem with it. I do think there was a good introduction to it all, each of the girls willingly signed up for this, and were treated well the whole time. Add that to Cedric’s constant reassurance that the girls would have the ultimate say on who they wed, and the innuendo that they were checked up on after their marriages to make sure they weren’t being mistreated, and Mead does well to make this sensitive topic comfortable and even positive.

I was a bit disappointed when our main conflict was brought about solely for revenge, and the larger political  subterfuge wasn’t a driver. That apparently is something that the next book gets into. However, the following two books cover the same story line, but from the POVs of Mira and Tamsin; and I don’t think I liked this book enough to relive the same events two more times. We’ll see what the reviews are like.

Review: Scythe

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Thou shalt kill.

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

Like all Shusterman, the writing is incredible. The layout is masterfully done, slowly introducing us into the rules and lives of Scythes, while not forcing our characters to resort to info dumps to educate us. The world is original, but evokes the trademark dystopian feel Shusterman created in his Unwind series.

Our two protagonists are very different from each other, but share the same core beliefs, making their competition and bonding very interesting to watch. The fact that they are separated from each other for most of the novel, but still have such faith in each other was also very refreshing. They had a teamwork that didn’t devolve into only romantic feelings – though they did feel for each other – and focused more on their joint desire to become compassionate scythes.

The secondary characters were all very nuanced and added interesting points of view when it came to the corruption and the radicalism within the scythedom. The entity of the Thunderhead, and its interaction – or lack of – with the Scythes is also something unique to the story that I think will expand with the rest of the series. The storyline did feel pretty wrapped up at the end of this so I will be interested to see if we are coming back to the same characters in the following book(s).

Review: Poisoned Blade

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Goodreads Synopsis:

The Fives Court is treacherous.
The world outside is far worse.
Jessamy is moving up the ranks of the Fives–the complex athletic contest favored by the lowliest Commoners and the loftiest Patrons in her embattled kingdom. Pitted against far more formidable adversaries, success is Jes’s only option, as her prize money is essential to keeping her hidden family alive. She leaps at the change to tour the countryside and face more competitors, but then a fatal attack on her traveling party puts Jes at the center of the war that Lord Kalliarkos–the prince she still loves–is fighting against their country’s enemies. With a sinister overlord watching her every move and Kal’s life on the line, Jes must now become more than a Fives champion….She must become a warrior.

This picks up moments after the first book ends, and usually I don’t like that, but this did a good job to create enough of a division between the action of the end of the first book and when action again picks up here. There are also good recaps for the major points dispersed throughout, which I appreciated since usually we get a big info dump recap at the start of companion stories.

Carrying on from the first book, it took me a long time to get into the language of this book. I find it difficult to hear the distinct voices of each character until I have again familiarized myself with the unique writing style of Elliott. I still felt the exclamation points were excessive, but I learn to see past them.

This had a much more political feel to it, and I really enjoyed that aspect. Jes finds herself having to negotiate the power struggle between her boss and her family, flesh out who she is loyal to, look beyond the class struggle of her country, and ultimately decide how to forge her own path while still protecting those she cares for.

One of the aspects I enjoy most about this series is the familial relationships in Jes’ family. She and her sisters are all so different, but they all provide strengths in the struggle to keep her family hidden and safe. I especially love watching Jes and her father interact, they are so similar, but because of Jes’ mixed heritage, all of their interactions are always laden with political and social ramifications. Jes and Kals relationship has also matured a lot, with the maturation of Kal specifically. I am however worried about a potential love triangle in future books.