Thursday, April 24, 2014

Review: Second Star

Second Star
by Alyssa B. Scheinmel

Why did you choose this book? It is a Peter Pan retelling
When did you read this book? April 2014
Who should read this book? readers of fairy tale retellings
Source: NetGalley
Here is a synopsis of Second Star from Goodreads

A twisty story about love, loss, and lies, this contemporary oceanside adventure is tinged with a touch of dark magic as it follows seventeen-year-old Wendy Darling on a search for her missing surfer brothers. Wendy’s journey leads her to a mysterious hidden cove inhabited by a tribe of young renegade surfers, most of them runaways like her brothers. Wendy is instantly drawn to the cove’s charismatic leader, Pete, but her search also points her toward Pete's nemesis, the drug-dealing Jas. Enigmatic, dangerous, and handsome, Jas pulls Wendy in even as she's falling hard for Pete. A radical reinvention of a classic, Second Star is an irresistible summer romance about two young men who have yet to grow up--and the troubled beauty trapped between them

My Review

This is a retelling of the classic Peter Pan by J.M. Barre in a contemporary setting. If you loved the story as a kid, you will enjoy this retelling. It has all the elements you remember. Of course there is Wendy Darling, the big sister of Michael and John. Pete is a contemporary Peter Pan, full of energy and fun; a good guy at heard but not very mature. The lost boys are with him, as is Belle (Tinkerbell), a diminutive ball of energy. Captain Hook is there as Jas, the guy who has gone to that dark side but at heart wants to be rescued and hopes Wendy is the way back. There is a cameo by a pirate, and Nana, the big lovable dog appears in the book. There is even an ‘almost’ death scene with Belle (if you believe in fairies, clap your hands!)

It took me a chapter or two to get oriented in the story, but once I did, I couldn’t wait to read more. I can’t say I LOVED the ending, but it was very true to the ending of the original. After all, all children, except one, grow up! And that one is there, somewhere, if we can figure out how to get back, right? So even though I didn’t absolutely love the ending, I DID love the book! If you love fairy tales and fantasy, and especially if you love Peter Pan, check this one out!

If you have never read the original Peter Pan, it is available as a free ebook through Project Gutenberg. And if you have never seen the musical version of Peter Pan (NOT the Disney version!) you are missing a treat. Just google “Peter Pan Mary Martin Youtube” and you will find several clips as well as the full video!

I received and electronic ARC from the publisher through NetGalley. This did not affect my review.

My Rating:  ★★★★   4 Stars

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: Then And Always

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine in which we spotlight upcoming releases that we are eagerly anticipating!

Then And Always
by Dani Atkins
Expected Publication Date: May 20, 2014
Synopsis from Goodreads

For fans of One Day, What Alice Forgot, and the hit filmSliding Doors, comes an absorbing and surprising debut novel about a young woman who, after an accident, gets a second chance at life . . . just not in one she remembers.
Rachel Wiltshire has everything she’s ever wanted: a close group of friends, a handsome boyfriend, and acceptance to the journalism program at her top-choice college. But one fateful evening, tragedy tears her world apart.
Five years later, Rachel returns home for the first time to celebrate her best friend’s wedding. Still coping with her grief, she can’t stop thinking about the bright future she almost had, if only that one night had gone differently. But when a sudden fall lands her in the hospital, Rachel wakes to find that her life has completely changed. Now she has her dream job as a writer and a stylish apartment, but the people she loves most are not the way she remembers them. Unable to trust her own recollections, Rachel tries to piece together what really happened, and not even she can predict the astonishing truth.

Why I am waiting....
This is being compared to What Alice Forgot, a book I enjoyed. (You can read my review here.) I’m looking forward to the book, but I do hope it doesn’t feel like a ‘copy-cat’ story.
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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tuesday Memes: Up At Butternut Lake

Every Tuesday Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, where you can share the first paragraph, or a few, of a book you are reading or thinking about reading soon.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along!

Today I am spotlighting Up At Butternut Lake by Mary McNear

In the tradition of Kristin Hannah and Susan Wiggs, Mary McNear introduces readers to the town of Butternut Lake and to the unforgettable people who call it home.

It’s summer, and after ten years away, Allie Beckett has returned to her family’s cabin beside tranquil Butternut Lake, where as a teenager she spent so many carefree days. She’s promised her five-year-old son, Wyatt, they will be happy there. She’s promised herself this is the place to begin again after her husband’s death in Afghanistan. The cabin holds so many wonderful memories, but from the moment she crosses its threshold Allie is seized with doubts. Has she done the right thing uprooting her little boy from the only home he’s ever known?

Allie and her son are embraced by the townsfolk, and her reunions with old acquaintances—her friend Jax, now a young mother of three with one more on the way, and Caroline, the owner of the local coffee shop—are joyous ones. And then there are newcomers like Walker Ford, who mostly keeps to himself—until he takes a shine to Wyatt . . . and to Allie.

Everyone knows that moving forward is never easy, and as the long, lazy days of summer take hold, Allie must learn to unlock the hidden longings of her heart, and to accept that in order to face the future she must also confront—and understand—what has come before.

Opening Paragraph
    “Okay, sleepyhead, time to wake up,” Allie said, reaching into the backseat of the car and giving her five-year-old son, Wyatt, a gentle prod. “We’re here. We’re at the cabin.” Wyatt stirred but didn’t wake up. She didn’t blame him. It had been a long day. Make that a long week, she corrected herself. And, if she were really counting, it had been a long two years. But she tried, whenever possible, not to count. it didn’t make the time go any faster, or the loss and easier to bear.

My Teaser
   The phone rang then, interrupting her thoughts. She reached over to the bedside table and answered it, hoping it would be Daisy.
page 52

So...what do you think? Is this one you would pick up? Leave a comment below!
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Monday, April 21, 2014

Review: Mrs. Lincoln's Rival

Mrs. Lincoln’s Rival
by Jennifer Chiaverini

Why did you choose this book? I won an ARC and have enjoyed the author’s previous work
When did you read this book? March 2014
Who should read this book? readers of historical fiction, particularly Civil War era
Here is a synopsis of Mrs. Lincoln’s Rival from Goodreads

Kate Chase Sprague was born in 1840 in Cincinnati, Ohio, the second daughter to the second wife of a devout but ambitious lawyer. Her father, Salmon P. Chase, rose to prominence in the antebellum years and was appointed secretary of the treasury in Abraham Lincoln’s cabinet, while aspiring to even greater heights.

Beautiful, intelligent, regal, and entrancing, young Kate Chase stepped into the role of establishing her thrice-widowed father in Washington society and as a future presidential candidate. Her efforts were successful enough that The Washington Star declared her "the most brilliant woman of her day. None outshone her."

None, that is, but Mary Todd Lincoln. Though Mrs. Lincoln and her young rival held much in common—political acumen, love of country, and a resolute determination to help the men they loved achieve greatness—they could never be friends, for the success of one could come only at the expense of the other. When Kate Chase married William Sprague, the wealthy young governor of Rhode Island, it was widely regarded as the pinnacle of Washington society weddings. President Lincoln was in attendance. The First Lady was not.

Jennifer Chiaverini excels at chronicling the lives of extraordinary yet littleknown women through historical fiction. What she did for Elizabeth Keckley in Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker and for Elizabeth Van Lew in The Spymistress she does for Kate Chase Sprague in Mrs. Lincoln’s Rival.

My Review

I was really excited when I won a copy of this book. I have previously read and enjoyed both Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker and The Spymistress by the same author. And of course, the cover is beautiful! I’m sorry to say, this one was a bit of a let down. It wasn’t terrible, but it did not live up to my expectations.

To start, I feel the title is somewhat misleading. Though the title refers to a ‘rivalry’ between Mary Todd Lincoln and the central character in this book, Kate Chase Sprague, there is actually very, very little interaction between the two women, and most of the rivalry appears to be in Kate’s head. What’s more, Kate comes off as a spoiled brat. She is not a very likeable character at all. When she attends a White House function, her primary thought is about how the ball compares to one she would throw, and she apparently believes she is in competition with the First Lady to have the best social functions. She is offended that she is only second in social standing, as if there would be any question of her usurping the position from the First Lady. She works hard to become her father’s ‘right hand man’ as she does NOT want him to remarry, probably because his new wife would inherit her social duties. She actually fancies herself as ‘ruling’ as First Lady twice, once as the ‘first daughter’ when justice prevails and her father is elected President, and the second time when her husband becomes President. This is an important enough consideration to her that she actually takes political prospects into consideration when choosing her mate!

The story takes place during the years leading up to the CIvil War and through the War. I’m not sure if this book is completely accurate historically; whether the thoughts of Kate’s father, Samuel Chase, were historically accurate, or whether some of the conversations between Kate and her husband took place. But it does follow the events and timeline of the war. Though the book moved a little slowly for me, and sometimes Kate got on my nerves, (I’m from Illinois, so I tend to give Mary Lincoln the benefit of the doubt here) I did enjoy the book. I’ve read many novels and books about the Civil War, and each one adds to my understanding of the people and events. And this one did lead me to do what all good historical fiction leads me to; I googled Kate Chase when I was done to learn more about her!

Readers who enjoy Civil War era historical fiction will enjoy this one! The book will make a good book club selection, with discussions about the role of women in the 1860’s and of course, the politics of the Civil War.

I won an Advanced Reader’s Edition from This did not affect my review.

My Rating:  ★★★   3 Stars
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