Thursday, May 5, 2016

Blog Tour - Everland by Wendy Spinale

I am thrilled to be part of the Everland blog tour hosted by Rockstar Tours. Be sure to follow along for the entire tour for reviews, guest posts, interviews and more! 

Week One:

5/2/2016- Brittany's Book Rambles- Interview
5/3/2016- BookHounds YA- Review
5/4/2016- Novel Novice- Guest Post
5/5/2016- A Glass Of Wine- Review
5/6/2016- Two Chicks on Books- Interview

Week Two:

5/9/2016- Beauty and the Bookshelf- Review
5/10/2016- Pandora's Books- Excerpt
5/11/2016- Please Feed the Bookworm- Review
5/12/2016- Once Upon a Twilight- Excerpt
5/13/2016- 5 Girls Book Reviews- Review

Author: Wendy Spinale
Pub. Date: May 10, 2016
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Format: Hardcover, eBook, audio book
Find it: Amazon | Barnes And Noble | iBooks | Goodreads
My Rating - 5/5
**received from publisher for an honest review**

Here is the official synopsis 
Forget the story of Peter Pan you know. Because in Everland, 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 are children, among them Gwen Darling and her siblings, Joanna and Mikey. They spend their nights scavenging and their days avoiding the ruthless Marauders -- the German Army led by Captain Hanz Otto Oswald Kretschmer.

Unsure if the virus has spread past England's borders but desperate to leave, Captain Hook hunts for a cure, which he thinks can be found in one of the survivors. He and his Marauders stalk the streets snatching children for experimentation. None ever return. Until the day they grab Joanna. As Gwen sets out to save her, she meets a mysterious boy 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 will cost Gwen. And are she, Pete, the Lost Boys, and Bella enough to outsmart Captain Hook?
A war torn London may not be the first setting you would expect a retelling of Peter Pan to be set in. You most certainly would not expect it to have steampunk elements either. This unique take on the boy who wouldn't grow up is entirely enchanting and combines all these elements into a story that both draws inspiration from Peter Pan and yet has a magic that is all its own.

Wendy Spinale weaves her own fairytale filled with pixie dust, pirates, Lost Boys, and crocodiles. Her writing adds a whimsical touch to the grittier setting her characters inhabit. This version of Neverland, called Everland, is not the island of Peter Pan lore, and the writing paints a vivid picture of a city decimated by war. The setting is perfectly crafted and the little elements, from the descriptions of buildings, the gold dust that is a stand in for pixie dust, and the murky sewers, all come together to create a backdrop worthy of her characters.

The characters all retain the heart of their namesakes. There is a cock playfulness to Pete, and yet he is also easy imagined as a charismatic and fair leader. Bella has Tink's jealousy, loyalty and cleverness. Gwen is a girl on the cusp of becoming a woman. She is also brave, and compassionate. The author is careful to keep their essence but moulds it to create characters that are wholly her own. She allows their circumstances and experiences to shape who they are and this makes them feel all the more real.

Captain Hook is, perhaps, the character that is most changed. He's given a back story that serves to illuminate his motivations. It allows you to understand his actions, and point of view. The novel never uses it as an excuse for his behaviour, but instead uses it to craft a sympathetic villain whose story has a touch of tragedy to it as you see the choices he could have made instead of the ones he did make. The expansion on Hook's character, and the impact it has on his feud with Peter, felt organic to this story. It fit this world, and these characters.

The steampunk elements, evident from the clockwork style wings on the cover, are meshed into the story with ease. This is not the fairytale filled with mermaids and fairies. Bella takes flight thanks to an ingenious pair of wings which fit in with the pseudo historical/pseudo futuristic tone the story has. There are other steampunk elements incorporated into the story and it blends with the Peter Pan lore surprisingly well.

Peter and Gwen are a little bit older than they normally are written. This allowed for a really sweet romance filled with banter. There is a innocence to their romance that reminds of first loves. The romance is folded into the story without allowing it to overtake the narrative. The virus and the ticking clock that necessitates a cure, are what propel this story and lead to an awfully big adventure.

The virus itself is an ever present, all encompassing presence. This virus, cleverly, provides the reason that the children are left to fend for themselves. There are plenty of twists and turns when it comes to the truth behind the virus. This storyline is what will hold the attention of non Peter Pan enthusiasts. It's a well crafted story of the aftermath of war, and chemical warfare in particular. The struggle of the remnants of society to survive even as the city continues to crumble. It's a brilliant twist to the story that keeps it feeling fresh when compared to the numerous other Peter Pan retellings out there.

While this is a trilogy, I fully appreciated the wrapped up feel to this novel. If the story were to end with this novel it would feel complete. There is a definitive beginning, middle and end to this chapter of Gwen and Pete's story. There is plenty left to expand upon and explore, but the major plot points are tied up. It's a satisfying ending while still leaving you excited to return to Everland and its characters.

A Peter Pan retelling that will appeal to both those who love the original tale and those who are not as familiar. It's a homage to the original whose every nod to the classic will have you fangirling in delight. It offers enough of an homage to the classic to please fans while still feeling fresh and new. I eagerly await the sequel and following Pete and Gwen on another adventure.

Hopefully my review has made you interested enough to want a copy! The tour has a giveaway where you could win a copy so be sure to enter via the rafflecopter below. Good luck to those who enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
I must admit, I have lived an extraordinary life and will forever be grateful for the opportunities I have had.

I was the middle of three kids, my older brother being deaf for as far back as I can remember. At the time, I didn’t realize how much that would later impact my life. I was a sign language interpreter for a short time (although I’m extremely rusty now), taught my kids to sign as infants, and now am using that experience in my current manuscript.

During college I was living in southern California working for Disneyland as a Cast Member in the Entertainment Department. I met my husband there who was also a performer. After four incredible years working with the Mouse, we moved to his hometown in the Bay Area.

I eventually got my Bachelor’s in Kinesiology and worked in the fitness industry for ten years before a knee injury ended my career. Not sure what to do with my time, I applied to job posting to be an online journalist. I loved writing, but had no experience. I didn‘t hear back so I wrote up a review about a local restaurant and sent it to them to prove I could do the job. Twenty-four hours later, I was a journalist with AOL Media/Pleasanton Patch.

I spent three great years with them before cut backs forced me without a job again. That’s when I started writing my first novel, which went nowhere. Dozens of rejection letters later. I started a second book. A year later I was offered representation by Thao Le from Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency and within another six months I was offered a book deal. EVERLAND (Scholastic) is scheduled to debut Summer of 2016!

Today I live in the Bay Area with my husband and three sons who are my biggest fans. While they're off at work and school, I bounce ideas off my four-legged, furry family members, Odie and Sammy.

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