The Unmapped Sea, by Maryrose Wood

The 5th book in the Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series.

With the entirely unexpected news of Lady Constance’s pregnancy, Lord Frederick flies into a panic about how to deal with it. Certain circumstances make the baby…undesirable. Of course, Lady Constance doesn’t know of Lord Frederick’s secret malady, which will most likely be passed on to the pup – I mean baby.

Miss Penelope Lumley, the governess to the three Incorrigible children, agrees to accompany the Ashton’s to Brighton, which the doctor prescribes as the best thing for Lady Constance’s health. Upon arrival, they stumble into many people who warn them to stay away from the ‘horrible Babushkinov’s’, who are the only other people staying at the English seaside on the off-season. Of course, what else should happen except just that?

The Babushkinov children are the wildest things the Incorrigibles have ever met. They themselves are now nearly tame, and only occasionally have the urge to howl or gnaw. Is it just coincidence, or is the darker scheming of Lord Edward Ashton at work?

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It is imperative that you read the first four books about the Incorrigibles, who were raised by wolves, in order. Here is my review on the first book.

If, by now, you are dying to know what happens next, join the club. Thankfully, this book offers more answers as to the mystery of it all, but still leaves many questions unanswered. Wood also does an amazing job at leaving the end at a cliffhanger, the hopeless kind in which you are dangling off a ledge, no one can hear your cries for help, gravel is falling into your eyes, and your fingers are getting sweaty and beginning to slip….

Enough of that. That isn’t actually what happens. It also was a little dark, with evil threats which are certainly going to be carried out, leaving me worried for the character’s safety in the ending. Which is all good.

With the other four books setting high standards, there were parts of this book which seemed a little unneccesary. Each book is progressively longer than the last, and this one was no exception. It wasn’t exactly my favorite out of all the books, but hilarious stagecraft managed to save the book from being more dull than the others.

There were a couple random love triangles which can be interpreted as funny, but I thought that part was uninteresting for a children’s book. Also, Penelope-in-love tends to lose her usual pluck when in the presence of a certain playwright who was kidnapped by pirates in the last book. I found myself missing the old Penelope, whose sole devotion was to the children. I suppose it can’t always be the same, otherwise the book would be “dull, boring, tedious, and uninteresting” (see what I did there?).

Overall rating: 4/5 (one point knocked off for being a little slow in the beginning, and the love triangles)

Violence: 2/10 (although violent threats can be interpreted as much as you wish)

Language: 0/10

Inappropriateness/Romance: 2.5/10 (not really inappropriate)

Audience: Ages 8 and up

The Chronicles of Narnia, by C. S. Lewis

Imagine other worlds, in which anything can happen. Worlds with other times, destinations, mystery, magic, and different sorts of experiences all together.

When the four Pevensie children step from our own dull, ordinary world into Narnia, they are transported to a world which is always filled with adventure; sword fights, mythical (or not so mythical) creatures, and battles between good and evil. The story of a different world, whose tale only now being told….

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Of course, everyone’s heard of the Chronicles of Narnia, especially after they began turning them into movies. If you have ever considered reading the books, do.

There is not much for me to say about them, other than the series is my one true fantasy love. It was my ‘introduction’, if you will, into the fantasy genre and probably the only one which I will never forget. It reads similarly to a fairy tale, which is how he intended it; however, even many adults agree that this story is enjoyed at any age.

Now, there is a lot of controversy about the Chronicles of Narnia, and it’s Christian content. True, there are many things to be gleaned from each story, but only as much as you wish to take away. It still is a fairy tale about good and evil, and is still enjoyable to most.

Being probably the cleanest of fantasy books, the movies are surprisingly violent compared to how Lewis words each story. For example: “But such people! Ogres with monstrous teeth, and wolves, and bull-headed men; spirits of evil trees and poisonous plants; and other creatures whom I won’t describe because if I did the grown-ups probably would not let you read this book.” That is about the extent with which he goes to tell about the various creatures, and battles.

There are two different ways to read the books: the order in which they were published, or chronologically. The movies have been made in the way that they were published. I prefer the published order, because the Magician’s Nephew is better appreciated after the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Publishing Order:

#1: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

#2: Prince Caspian

#3: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

#4: The Silver Chair

#5: The Horse and His Boy

#6: The Magicians Nephew

#7: The Last Battle

The chronological order is:

#1: The Magician’s Nephew

#2: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

#3: The Horse and His Boy

#4: Prince Caspian

#5: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

#6: The Silver Chair

#7: The Last Battle

Overall Rating: 5/5

Violence: On average, 2/10, some maybe a little more.

Language: 0/10

Inappropriateness/Romance: 1/10

Audience: Ages 6 and up

The Maze Runner, by James Dashner

Thomas knows nothing of where he came from, nor anything of his past, except his own name. When he wakes up, he finds himself in a large group of boys also with forgotten memories, surrounded by a maze that literally comes to life at night.

Living an existence counting on routine, Thomas must help the boys survive and come up with a solution to help them escape. But as memories begin to come back, is returning to the world they thought they left behind worth the huge amount of sacrifice it will take?

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Did I like this story? Hmmm…maybe. I liked the premise of the plot, but as a trilogy, no. I also had a couple of complaints that a lot of other people on Goodreads have.

It was fairly suspenceful, and the pacing was okay, but there were way too many little things that bugged me. By the time Thomas arrives, some of the boys have already explored and know every inch of the maze. This draws away from the mysteriousness from what could have been closer to a horror book. I won’t give more away, but what the maze holds was figured out much too quickly.

Apart from the plot, which was okay, everyone seems to agree that the characters weren’t interesting at all. Thomas has this amazing ability to ‘just know’ stuff, because of some connection he has to the maze, but it doesn’t play out well at all. The side characters were boring; it reminded me of several other movies in which there are a group of kids who all are cliched in some way. The leader. The kid who should be leader. The genius. The girl. The fat kid. The bully. All are accounted for, in a way that I don’t appreciate. The girl was especially irritating, because of her non-purposeness. And just by throwing her into the mix, you can imagine all the drama.

The way they talk, with plenty of made-up words, just comes across as stupid, and feels choppy. It takes a while to get used to, but it didn’t serve in any way to set any kind of stage as to where, or who, they are. Usually, changing up dialogue helps give you the idea who is talking, but in this case I couldn’t tell the difference between one person and another because they all talk the same way.

Even though I would have preferred something a little less pre-explored for the maze, I appreciated the suspence. I was surprised by quite a few readers who both thought it was very suspenceful, and some found it boring. I didn’t think it was boring, and I was kept fairly engrossed evenly throughout the book. I also thought that, even though we don’t have answers as to the why of the whole thing, I just felt like it was irrelevent to what the author originally intended the story to be.

In other words, I am not clamoring for the next book, which other reviews have told me stinks. The plot potential was fantastic, but frankly I’m tired of all the popular dystopian books, and adults who throw kids into freaky alternate realities. If you like the Hunger Games, or Divergent, then this might be the book for you.

Overall Rating: 3.5/5 (half point knocked off for character unoriginality, another half for boring dialogue (which would have improved the story 100%), and one last half point for not figuring out a way to wrap up the series into one slightly longer book, which is only my personal opinion)

Violence: 5/10 ( the monsters in the maze are scary enough, and there’s enough gore to make you wince, and also a mental disorder which occurs that is a little disturbing)

Language: 3/10 (mostly made up swear words)

Inappropriateness/Romance: 2/10 (surprisingly)

Audience: Ages 14 and up, or younger if they have already read the Hunger Games