New Read: Wendy Darling, Volume I

Wendy Darling

After loving her previous novels, I immediately snapped up a copy of Wendy Darling, Volume I: Stars by Colleen Oakes, the start of her new, young adult series inspired by J M Barrie’s Neverland. Sadly however this book languished for too long on my Kindle until the 10 Books of Summer challenge finally gave me that push I needed to pick it up.

Wendy Darling and her brothers are part of a wealthy family who live a comfortable and conventional life in a town house in London. One clear, starry night their world is to be turned upside down when they are visited by a wild, magical boy, Peter Pan. Who, with the promise of adventures, lures them out of the nursery window and up, up away into the stars and on to Neverland! A magical land of turquoise seas, beautiful beaches, mermaids, pirates and the freedom of life as a Lost Boy. Wendy finds herself intoxicated by the place and Peter, and yet she is plagued with misty memories of home and an annoying sense that all is not as it appears.

I liked how Colleen Oakes, the author, has chosen to tell her re-imagining of Neverland from the point-of-view of Wendy. A young lady, who at the start of the story, is sad about growing up but is also excited by the prospect of love and womanhood. At this hormonal time Wendy easily falls for this beautiful, wild boy who flies through her window without much thought for consequences. I often wanted to give her a jolly good shake for her naivety and emotional weakness however she is a kind character with potential; I hope to see her develop further. Wendy is joined by her brothers: the adorable Michael and the thoroughly dislikeable John, both are completely  immersed in life on Pan Island and do not share any of Wendy’s misgivings.

While I didn’t particularly always ‘like’ the characters I did find that Colleen Oakes re-imagined classic and new characters are realistic and much better fleshed out than in the J M Barrie’s original tale. I also loved being able to delve deeper into the settings too. While I’m not sure I totally bought Oakes’ Edwardian London – I was completely blown away by her description of Neverland. I really could imagine the turquoise seas, sandy beaches, towering peaks, humid jungle, sinister Skull Rock, and the giant, sprawling tree that constitutes Pan Island.

Previously I have read and loved two of Oakes’ previous novels: Volume 1 and Volume 2 of her young adult series Queen of Hearts which is a re-imagining of Lewis Carol’s Wonderland. I enjoyed them so much that they both made it on to my Top 10 Books of 2014. So my expectations were perhaps too high for this new series, Wendy Darling. This first book in the series was again well written, detailed and imaginative however I didn’t enjoy it as much as the previous books/series. I think that was simply down to the characters though – which is just my personal taste and not any reflection on the quality of writing or story.

Wendy Darling, Volume I: Stars is an enjoyable fantasy adventure in an expanded, detailed and magical re-imagining of Neverland. I am looking forward to reading Volume 2: Seas to see how the characters develop. Good read.

Thank you to the publishers for providing a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Have you read this? Or any other books inspired by Peter Pan and Neverland?

10 Books of Summer – 5/10

New Books: June – August 2016

New Books - Aug #1

Hello my fellow bookworms, since my splurge in June I have been rather good and new books have come in slowly. Here are the goodies I have been adding to my bookshelf and Kindle over the last couple of months:

Lirael by Garth Nix

Abhorsen by Garth Nix

At the end of June, in one of my favourite charity bookshops I was thrilled to find copies of Lirael and Abhorsen; the second and third books in the Old Kingdom trilogy. I have previously read Sabriel and Lirael but not Abhorsen, so I am looking forward to re-reading and finishing this trilogy.

S5 Uncovered by James Durose-Rayner

Also in June, I was contacted and accepted a review copy from the publicist of S5 Uncovered; a new, dark crime novel.

New Books - Aug #2

Wendy Darling, Volume II: Seas by Colleen Oakes

Fast forward to this month, where I couldn’t resist requesting a copy of Wendy Darling, Volume II: Seas from Netgalley, as at the time I was reading Volume I: Stars. I am looking forward to continuing the series.

Sandlands by Rosy Thornton

This month, I was also thrilled to be contacted by the author Rosy Thornton about receiving a review copy of her short story collection Sandlands which I have been hearing such wonderful things about.

The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears by Mark Batterson

And finally this month, I purchased a digital copy of The Circle Maker for my Kindle in eager anticipation of a book club that is starting at my church in September.

Do you fancy any of these? What new book purchases have you made recently?

New Books: April 2016

New Books - April #1

Hello my fellow bookworms, here’s the goodies I’ve managed to add to my bookshelf and Kindle recently:

Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

The lovely, wonderful, amazing, book blogging friend Lynn really kindly sent me her copy of Jane Steele because she thought I’d love it – I am super excited to read this.

Glorious Apollo by E Barrington

Eleanor of Aquitaine by Christopher Nicole

I received these 2 historical fictions from Endeavour Press; the first through their newsletter and the second off Netgalley. Glorious Apollo is about the notorious poet Byron while Eleanor of Aquitaine is the future wife of Henry V and Queen of England. I have not read anything by either author but both books sound interesting.

New Books - April #3

Indiana Belle by John A Heldt
(American Journey #3)

Resthaven by Erik Therme

I was kindly contacted and offered copies of young adult, thriller Resthaven and historical fiction Indiana Belle by their authors. Erik Therme is a new author for me while I have previously enjoyed The Mine (Northwest Passage #1) by John A Heldt.

My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier

Lords and Ladies by Terry Pratchett

I am always on the look out for new-to-me books by Daphne du Maurier and Terry Pratchett. On my last trawl through my two favourite charity bookshops I struck gold: with Lords and Ladies from Pratchett’s hilarious epic Discworld series and du Maurier’s modern classic My Cousin Rachel.

New Books - April #2

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

Tunnels by Roderick Gordon & Brian Williams

On the same visit to my favourite charity bookshops, I also spotted these lovely copies of fantasy The Lies of Locke Lamora and young adult, fantasy Tunnels. I previously read both but lost my copies! I am looking forward to rediscovery these gems and continuing the series.

The Indian Fairy Book edited by Cornelius Mathews

Stories of King Arthur and His Knights edited by Sir Thomas Malory

30 Days of Daal by Pragati Bidkar

Then finally but not least, I picked up, from Amazon, these two short story collections and Indian cookbook free!

Have you read any of these? What new books are you excited about?

New Read: City of Heavenly Fire

City of Heavenly Fire

Everything must come to an end, and so does Cassandra Clare’s popular young adult series The Mortal Instruments with this; the City of Heavenly Fire. This post may contain spoilers for the previous books.

Clary and her friends must fight their last and most deadly battle yet. Sebastian has launched terrible and bloody attacks on the Praetor Lupus and Shadowhunter institutes all over the world – killing many and turning others into Endarkened Shadowhunters. Now Sebastian’s Endarkened army and his allies threaten the ancient stronghold of Alicante, where the remaining Shadowhunters and their families have taken refuge. Trying to stop this impending apocalypse and save their loved ones, Clary and her friends take what could be a one way journey into the demon realm of Edom; to challenge Sebastian face-to-face.

I have always liked our young protagonist Clary. Watching her grow from a shy, artistic and awkward teenager to a strong, clever and brave Shadowhunter. It also helps that she is short like me – yeah short girls can kick ass to! Clary doesn’t have to face this final battle alone though as, always, she is joined by her ever faithful and brave friends: Jace, Alec, Isabelle and Simon. Who have all grown in their own ways to. Jace, Alec and Isabelle have always been Shadowhunters so it is Simon who has perhaps made the most obvious changes. All these changes is what made the end even more bittersweet for me.

I started reading this series back in 2013 with the City of Bones; perhaps the weakest book in this series. Fortunately for me the intriguing premise kept me reading and I can honestly say I have enjoyed this series more and more each book I have read. The changes and growth in the characters turned them from two-dimensional characters to ones I really liked and could believe in; particularly Clary and Simon. I also feel the action got darker and a bit more adult throughout the series. Now I have finished this series I would be interested in reading Clare’s other series The Infernal Devices – my brother has devoured both series.

The City of Heavenly Fire was another fun and action-packed adventure in a dark fantasy setting, and I thought it was a satisfying ending to the series. Good read.

Have you read this series? Have you read Clare’s other series The Infernal Devices?

New Read: Allegiant

Allegiant

Earlier this year I read and enjoyed Divergent  and Insurgent by Veronica Roth; from her popular dystopian, young adult series. In November I picked up the 3rd and final book, Allegiant, to finish reading the series. (This post may contain spoilers for the previous books).

Allegiant returns us to post-apocalyptic Chicago, USA which, for many generations, has been ruled by a faction system based on traits. Abnegation for selflessness, Amity for peace, Candor for honesty, Dauntless for bravery, and Erudite for intelligence. Now that system has been forcefully removed by an uprising of the factionless; while it liberates some it is also extremely upsetting for many who have never known anything different. Tris and her fellow divergents have fought for freedom from oppression but not so one forced system could be replaced with another. So Tris joins a secretive group, the Allegiant, who plan to leave the city to seek help from the creators.

This is a confusing, emotional and dangerous time for Tris and her boyfriend Tobias; whom the narration switches between. After the loss of more friends there is the initial elation at stopping Janine and releasing the truth; but then the shock and anger as the factionless, led my Tobias’ long-lost mother, force the people into an equally oppressive regime. Tris is a strong and kind character who is prone to reckless/selfless acts. Which leaves poor Tobias torn between his mother and protecting the girl he loves. Now their hopes and the future of the city rest on them finding the people outside of the city.

I thought this was another taut and immersive adventure, set in a well written and visualised dystopian world. I enjoyed discovering what the world was like outside of the city and what had happened in the past to bring this all about. Roth keeps the tension high as we follow Tris, Tobias and their allies as they seek help from the outside world… only to find that those outside have their own issues of segregation and rebellions too! Tris and Tobias’ relationship is put to the final, extreme test as they find themselves drawn to different causes to reach their final goals. This was a roller-coaster of a read with many twists, turns and shocks; and don’t get me started about the end! Shocking! But I loved that it didn’t have the obvious ‘happy’ ending.

Even though Allegiant is much longer it was another taut and fast read for me. I recommend to those who enjoy dystopian, young adult novels. I will now have to patiently wait for the film. I am interested to see how it will translate to the screen. Let’s all pray they don’t make it into two films! Great read.

Have you read this? Or watched the films? Do you enjoy dystopian novels and films?

New Read: Insurgent

Insurgent

Earlier this year I read and enjoyed Divergent by Veronica Roth; the 1st book in Roth’s dystopian, young adult series. At the beginning of August I picked up the 2nd book, Insurgent, to continue reading the series. (This post may contain spoilers for the previous book).

Insurgent returns us to post-apocalyptic Chicago, USA which, for many generations, has been ruled by a faction system based on traits. Abnegation for selflessness, Amity for peace, Candor for honesty, Dauntless for bravery, and Erudite for intelligence. This system has been thrown into chaos though after a devastating attack on Abnegation. It is now Erudite’s mission to hunt down all divergents, those that have an aptitude for more than one faction, and to control information that they feel is dangerous for the general populace to know.

This is an emotionally charged and guilt ridden, roller coaster ride for our protagonist Tris. She finds it very hard to come to terms with the death of loved ones and those she was forced to kill, while trying to stop the attack on Abnegation. To make matters worse Tris and her Dauntless friends are now homeless. Half of Dauntless are helping Erudite leaving the other half to seek refuge with Amity and Candor. Not knowing what is the best course of action and who they can trust. Tris is a strong and kind character but her guilt and pain are now making her confused and reckless in her actions and decisions.

I thought this was another taut and immersive adventure, set in a well written and visualised dystopian world. I feared that without the initiation process Roth might lose some of the tension and pace. This was happily an unfounded fear. Roth kept the pace fast and the tension high as Tris and her friends are chased by the Erudite from one faction to another. Which also gave us a good opportunity to find out more about how Amity, Candor and the factionless live. This chase and uncertainty puts Tris, her friendships, and her love interest with Tobias under considerable strain. Making this is a darker read with a touch of teen angst.

Insurgent was another taut and fast read for me. I look forward to reading Allegiant next. I recommend to those who enjoy dystopian, young adult novels. Good read.

Have you read this? Or watched the films? Do you enjoy dystopian novels and films?

10 Books of Summer – 4/10

New Read: Hope’s Rebellion

Hope's Rebellion

For much of July my reading has taken me into the past. I decided it would be fun to go the opposite way; to go into the future with my next read. So I picked up Jade Varden’s dystopian, young adult novel Hope’s Rebellion.

Godenor is a bleak and desolate land, with few resources which must be strictly dealt out to the population. Due to this the population is segregated. At just 3 years old children are either taken to work camps to learn how to serve as Dinwas or work in the mines. Or, the more fortunate children, are taken to education camps to learn a craft. At the end of their education the Allocator decides where they will be assigned. The premise is nothing new but I did think it was well crafted. There is one more thing that can determine your fate; your hair colour. Those children with golden hair are prized above all others.

We find out about this world through the eyes of 3 very different girls. First we have Drexi. Initially assigned to a work camp her bravery earns her a transfer to an education camp. Sadly the stigma of her black hair and her golden-haired mother’s failure is a constant battle for her. Then we have small, quiet, mousey haired Prelly. Accidentally taken to the education camp when she became lost and was found by a kind soldier. Finally but not least we have Rinna, or Rinna of the Gold as she is known. As she has the prized golden hair Rinna’s life was planned out from the day she was born. She is to become a wife and mother. In the education camp these 3 girls become fast friends. A friendship that will be truly tested when they are allocated and become adults.

This is the first book I have read by Jade Varden. I came to know of it when the author contacted me about it. I am really pleased I took a chance on it. As I thought it was a gripping, young adult adventure in an authoritarian, fantasy world. While Drexi, Prelly and Rinna were at school I didn’t really think of it as a dystopian world. The world before and any whiff of rebellion is not discussed until the girls are allocated. The pace of the novel is fast and I found myself flying through it. There were a few moments where the wording jarred a little with me and others where I wish there had been a little more detail. I totally understand that sometimes too much detail would have taken us away from the action and tension that was building though, so was a necessary cut.

Hope’s Rebellion was a gripping and fast read for me, this is an author and world I would like to read more of. I recommend to those who enjoy young adult, fantasy and dystopian books. Good read.

Thank you to the author for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Have you read this? Have you read a good dystopian novel I should try?