Everland by Wendy Spinale

Everland by Wendy Spinale | Book Review

Title: Everland
Author: Wendy Spinale
Published: 
May 2016 by Scholastic Press
Genre: Young adult | Fantasy | Fairytale retelling
How I got the book: I downloaded it onto my Kindle

Summary:

The only way to grow up is to survive.

London has been destroyed in a blitz of bombs and disease. The only ones who have survived the destruction and the outbreak of a deadly virus are children, among them sixteen-year-old Gwen Darling and her younger siblings, Joanna and Mikey. They spend their nights scavenging and their days avoiding the deadly Marauders—the German army led by the cutthroat Captain Hanz Otto Oswald Kretschmer.

Unsure if the virus has spread past England’s borders but desperate to leave, Captain Hook is on the hunt for a cure, which he thinks can be found in one of the surviving children. He and his Marauders stalk the streets snatching children for experimentation. None ever return.

Until one day when they grab Joanna. Gwen will stop at nothing to get her sister back, but as she sets out, she crosses paths with a daredevil named Pete. Pete offers the assistance of his gang of Lost Boys and the fierce sharpshooter Bella, who have all been living in a city hidden underground. But in a place where help has a steep price and every promise is bound by blood, it might cost Gwen more than she bargained for. And are Gwen, Pete, the Lost Boys, and Bella enough to outsmart the ruthless Captain Hook?

My Review:

rp-first-thoughts

I love a good fairy tale retelling and Peter Pan is my favorite. So, naturally, I have to read all the Peter Pan retellings there are out there.

rp-plot

This was by far the most unique Peter Pan twist I’ve read. Instead of a lost girl or boy finding their way into Neverland, children are all around England orphaned from the war and a deadly disease that took their parents.

We go back and forth between Gwen’s first-person and Hook’s first-person. Gwen is trying to keep her younger brother and sister safe and they’re all trying to survive. Meanwhile, Hook wants his hands on the “cure” for the disease for the Queen who started the war in the first place.

When Gwen’s sister is taken by Hook’s crew, she comes across Pete and the Lost Boys. After a rough start, they decide to help one another out and go after Gwen’s sister and Hook.

This was certainly a different kind of plot than I’m used to reading, especially for a Peter Pan retelling. I enjoyed it though.

rp-characters

I didn’t fall in love with any of the characters. I found Gwen to be annoying at times. She flip-flopped a lot on her decisions and feeling. For a 15-year-old who has parented her younger siblings all the while trying to stay alive, I get why she was iffy at times. Still, there were times when I felt like she played the “I’m only 15” card and sometimes she seemed to play the “I’m older, therefore I’m in charge” card.

Pete was okay. He had a sad backstory, but there wasn’t much feeling behind it. Doc, one of the lost boys, explains Pete’s backstory to Gwen, but that’s about it. It’s just an explanation. Peter mentioned it once or twice to Gwen later on, but again, I couldn’t feel anything for it.

The supporting characters weren’t much better. I didn’t feel like I had enough time with any of them to really feel sorry or happy for them. Due to spoilers, I won’t say much, but I didn’t feel sorry for what happened to Jack or Pyro. I barely knew either one of them, so I didn’t care too much about what happened to them.

Overall, the characters didn’t really do it for me. And, to me, the characters are what makes a story.

rp-writing-style

The actual story was easy to read and to follow along. Each chapter alternated (for the most part) between Gwen and Hook. So, we knew his motives as well as hers.

Other than that, there wasn’t too much special about the writing. I thought it was pretty simple and straight-forward.

rp-overall

This book was just okay for me. The plot was interesting, but I don’t know if it worked well as a Peter Pan retelling. The characters were a little too bland for me. Also, there’s a quote in the book that’s in the original Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie. It’s a wonderful quote, but for some reason that didn’t sit well with me. I feel like if the author wanted to add that in, she should have changed it a bit and made it more her own.

This is the first of a series. I may read the next book, but I don’t know if it would be anytime soon.

Everland by Wendy Spinale gets…
3 Stars 3 out of 5 stars

Favorite Quote:

“Oh, aren’t you cute? It’s absolutely… darling.” –Wendy Spinale, Everland

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The Piper’s Price by Audrey Greathouse

pipers-price

Title: The Neverland Wars 2: The Piper’s Price
Author: Audrey Greathouse
Expected Publication: 
February 21, 2017
Genre: Young adult fantasy retelling
How I got the book: I received a free digital copy from the author in exchange for an honest review

Summary:

Peter is plotting his retaliation against the latest bombing. Neverland needs an army, and Peter Pan is certain children will join him once they know what is at stake. The lost boys and girls are planning an invasion in suburbia to recruit, but in order to deliver their message, they will need the help of an old and dangerous associate—the infamous Pied Piper.
Hunting him down will require a spy in in the real world, and Gwen soon finds herself in charge of locating the Piper and cutting an uncertain deal with him. She isn’t sure if Peter trusts her that much, or if he’s just trying to keep her away from him in Neverland. Are they friends, or just allies? But Peter might not even matter now that she’s nearly home and meeting with Jay again.

The Piper isn’t the only one hiding from the adults’ war on magic though, and when Gwen goes back to reality, she’ll have to confront one of Peter’s oldest friends… and one of his earliest enemies.

My Review:

rp-first-thoughts

I read the first Neverland Wars book and I felt iffy about it. At the time, I didn’t know a sequel was in the works. When the author contacted me about reviewing an eARC copy of The Piper’s Price, I thought I would give it a try.

rp-characters

I still wasn’t a fan of Gwen as the protagonist. I could definitely do without her. I felt as though she didn’t know what she was doing half of the time. Peter Pan was super moody throughout most of the book. He wasn’t exactly pleasant to be around most of the time, which got old quick.

Tiger Lily was introduced. It was nice to see her, but she was in a different form. I wasn’t entirely sure how I felt about that, though she was a great addition to the story. Aside from the Piper, the other characters, like the Lost Boys, weren’t in it too much. It was almost like Peter was making Gwen do just about everything. While he had his reasons for that, it got a bit old.

rp-plot

Unlike the first book, this one seemed to have an actual plot. Peter is looking to fight back against Reality and seeks help from the Piper. However, he and the Piper have a tough past so Peter can’t directly go to him, so he sends Gwen to find him.

I was pretty excited to see the Piper in this story. I thought it would be an interesting twist. However, we didn’t meet the Piper until about 200 or so pages in, and the book is only a little over 300 pages. The Piper names his price and keeps Rose, Gwen’s little sister, as an incentive for Gwen and Peter to get him what he wants. Gwen was distraught and worried, but I didn’t feel it. One, because we don’t know Rose all that well, and two, I don’t really care about Gwen.

rp-writing-style

Audrey Greathouse has a wonderful writing style. The way she tells the story is beautiful and she has a way with words. Plot and characters aside, I don’t mind reading her narration of things.

rp-overall

While I wasn’t overly excited about the characters and the plot disappointed me a bit since the Piper didn’t have as big as a part as I assumed he would, the book was still enjoyable through the writing. I have to say that I enjoyed it more than the first book.

The NeverlandWars 2: The Piper’s Price by Audrey Greathouse gets…
4-stars4 out of 5 stars

Favorite Quote:

“Don’t doubt yourself so much, Gwenny-Lyn–it’s horribly grown-up.” –Audrey Greathouse, The Piper’s Price

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Camp: Week Two

camp nanowrimo week two update rachel poli

Two weeks down, two more to go!

Here’s an update of my second week of Camp NaNoWriMo and my novel, The Lost Girl.

The Ups

The story is continuing at a nice pace. I’m sticking to my original ideas and plan for the story. And the characters have (so far) been cooperating.

I ran out of outline (I never finished it before Camp started). This isn’t necessarily an “up,” but I’ve been continuing to write the outline before I start writing for the day. It’s been helping me keep the flow going as I write. So that’s been working out well.

The Downs

I’ve started thinking about the editing process. Already.

I haven’t actually edited anything, but I’ve started thinking about how I want to edit the story and I know what I may leave in, take out, or add later on. This isn’t really a “down,” but I do want to just focus on writing the actual first draft before I go in over my head with thinking about the edits.

Favorite Quote

Tinkerbell flew off of Peter’s shoulder and landed on Grace’s.
“What is she doing?” Grace asked eyeballing Tinkerbell with caution.
“She’s going to help you do something incredible.”

Word Count

Day 7: 2,220
Day 8: 2,066
Day 9: 2,037
Day 10: 2,018
Day 11: 2,073
Day 12: 2,013
Day 13: 2,049
Total for the week: 14,476
Overall total: 28,207

How are you doing with Camp?

The Lost Girl: Excerpt 1

We’re almost halfway through April 2016’s Camp NaNoWriMo session. I can’t believe it!

I’ve been working really hard on my novel, The Lost Girl, and so far it’s coming along quite nicely. In my opinion.

I thought I would share a quick excerpt with you guys from the story. This excerpt is the beginning of chapter four, where Peter Pan first joins the party.

This is first draft material, but I did proofread it to clean it up just a bit.

I hope you enjoy it!

the lost girl excerpt rachel poli

Grace looked over her shoulder as the elf-boy led her away from the rest of the boys. She couldn’t see anyone anymore leaving her to believe that they obeyed their leader and had in fact gone back to their duties—whatever that meant.

She looked back ahead of her and stared at the back of the boy’s head. He hadn’t said a word to her since they had left the other boys behind. Where was he taking her? Was she in trouble? Or was he going to help her get out of the forest?

Before Grace could open her mouth to ask, the boy swiped a tree branch out of their way and held it aside for Grace to walk through. He let go of her hand and waited for her to walk through. She slowly took steps on her own afraid of what was going to be on the other side of that tree branch. Yet what she saw in front of her was unbelievable and she stared at it in awe.

“Welcome to my Treehouse.” The boy announced with a smile.

“It’s… Huge.” Grace said softly.

A giant tree stood before. The base of the tree took up space in more than half of the clearing. The trunk was as thick as a ship and seemed to be as tall as the sky. She placed a hand over her eyes shielding her sight from the sunlight as she tried to see the top of the tree. Branches stuck out in all sorts of directions, the branches being about as thick as a normal tree trunk.

“Is this…? This is the Tree of Life, isn’t it?” Grace couldn’t help but ask.

“Huh?” the boy raised an eyebrow in confusion.

“I read about the Tree of Life in school.” Grace explained.

“I don’t know what that is.”

“I read it in my history class textbook.”

The boy blinked at her.

“A book,” Grace stated.

“Oh! You mean stories. I know what a story is. I like stories.” He grinned.

Grace shrugged her shoulders. “Yeah, I guess history class is kind of like telling one big story.”

“Anyway,” he patted the base of the tree trunk, “I don’t know what this Tree of Life is that you’re talking about, but this is my home.”

Grace pressed her lips together thinking. Then she pointed to the tree. “So… When you said, welcome to my tree house, you meant an actual tree house?”

“Well,” the boy looked the tree up and down before settling his gaze back on Grace. “It’s my house and it is a tree, so… Yeah.” He shrugged his shoulders.

Grace nodded her head not knowing what else to say. She wrapped her arms around herself holding onto Curly’s cloak again. Sure enough, this all seemed to be happening in real life and not a dream.

“Follow me.” The boy prompted her. He began to climb the tree.

Grace stood where she was and watched him climb a little higher. She had never climbed a tree in her life before, especially not one as big as that tree. Even though he wanted her to follow him, she was going to be perfectly fine standing on the ground and watching from afar.

Then he looked down and slid back down the trunk as soon as he realized he was climbing alone. He walked over to Grace taking her hand in his once more and smiled at her. “It’s a lot of fun. You’ll see.”

Grace wanted to protest, but she couldn’t get her voice to work. Curiosity was taking over again. She should have learned her lesson from the first time, but she was too interested in the tree to mind.

The boy led her to the base of the tree and began to climb once more. He let go of Grace’s hand, but only for a moment so he could get a firm grip on the trunk himself. Then he looked down over his shoulder and reached out to her again. Grace took his hand with a short hesitation and began to climb the tree behind him. Though she wasn’t sure how she was going to climb such a massive tree in a skirt.

He kept leading the way, higher and higher. They dropped each other’s hands once in a while to get firmer grips on their climb. Then Grace would stumble and grab onto his hand or foot or whatever was closest to her.

“You’ve never climbed a tree, have you?” he asked with a smirk.

“Not one this big.” Grace grunted in response. She glanced down over her shoulder and shivered at the height. She was getting tired. Just how far up were they going? And how were they going to climb back down?

“We’re almost there.” He assured her.

Grace looked straight up and narrowed her eyes. They weren’t even halfway up the tree! How were they almost to the top?

It was just another couple of steps when the boy sat down upright on a branch. He reached down, grabbed Grace’s hand, and pulled her up. She sat on the branch in front of him breathing heavily. She gripped the branch as tight as she could; her knuckles began to turn white.

“Okay, now how do we get down?” she asked quickly.

The boy smiled. He reached over behind her and opened a small hatch in the neighboring branch, which looked as though it had been cut off to create a hollow hole. Grace peered down the hole looking into the abyss.

She suddenly felt afraid again. And she wasn’t nervous because of the height.

“It’s fun, I promise.”

Those were the last words Grace heard before the boy pushed her down the hole.

The Lost Girl Cover

Pretty much since I started writing I always wanted to create my own covers for my novels. I never knew how–what programs to use, how to get the pictures legally, etc. So I never bothered… Or I would, but I just wouldn’t show it to the rest of the world.

Yet, whenever I can, I try to take pictures of nature or other things that strike me at the time. I tend to use the camera on my phone, which takes great pictures. However, when I learn to use my real camera then I’ll start bringing that with me to places.

I recently got Photoshop and while I took a class on it in high school, it’s an updated version… and I probably still wouldn’t remember how to use it even if it was the same version.

But I did my best and creating graphics can only get better with practice.

So, lo and behold, here is the cover to my Camp NaNoWriMo novel, The Lost Girl.

the lost girl cover peter pan rachel poli

It’s simple as I have to work with what I have and what I know. Though I think it came out pretty well, if I do say so myself.

The background was taken from the backyard of the family I babysit for. I took the picture myself with my phone.

I had other ideas for the cover, but as I don’t have a model to act as the protagonist for the cover, I decided to go easy and simple.

Sometimes I think simpler can be better.

I hope this cover does the novel justice!

I would like to say, “It’s not like I’m going to publish this or anything,” but I do plan on putting this story on Wattpad when it’s edited (hopefully by the end of 2016 or very early 2017).

I made a Wattpad account a while ago hoping to get more of my original work out there other than just quick Short Story Sundays. I still haven’t posted anything on there, but I think The Lost Girl will be the first one.

I don’t really think The Lost Girl will be publishable by a traditional publisher and I don’t have the desire to attempt to self-publish it. So I think Wattpad would be a great fit. It would be like the next step up from my blog. Of course, I’ll still continue to give updates on here and let you all know when the next chapter is up.

But that won’t be for a while, so don’t worry about it.

That’s where I stand at the moment. I hope you like the cover. I’m looking forward to actually writing the story in two days!

Good luck to those who are participating in Camp!