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To Best the Boys

de Mary Weber

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1278167,080 (3.85)Nenhum(a)
The task is simple: Don a disguise. Survive the labyrinth . . . Best the boys. Every year for the past fifty-four years, the residents of Pinsbury Port have received a mysterious letter inviting all eligible-aged boys to compete for an esteemed scholarship to the all-male Stemwick University. The poorer residents look to see if their names are on the list. The wealthier look to see how likely their sons are to survive. And Rhen Tellur opens it to see if she can derive which substances the ink and parchment are created from, using her father's microscope. In the province of Caldon, where women train in wifely duties and men pursue collegiate education, sixteen-year-old Rhen Tellur wants nothing more than to become a scientist. As the poor of her seaside town fall prey to a deadly disease, she and her father work desperately to find a cure. But when her mum succumbs to it as well? Rhen decides to take the future into her own hands--through the annual all-male scholarship competition. With her cousin, Seleni, by her side, the girls don disguises and enter Mr. Holm's labyrinth, to best the boys and claim the scholarship prize. Except not everyone is ready for a girl who doesn't know her place. And not everyone survives the deadly maze. Welcome to the labyrinth. Praise for To Best the Boys: "Atmospheric, romantic, inspiring." --KRISTEN CICCARELLI, internationally bestselling author of The Last Namsara "Smart, determined, and ready to take on the world: Rhen Tellur is an outstanding heroine with every reason to win a competition historically intended for boys." --Jodi Meadows, New York Times bestselling author of The Incarnate Trilogy and coauthor of My Lady Jane A "Hunger Games/Handmaid's Tale mash-up." --BN Teen Blog… (mais)
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I was so glad to receive “To Best the Boys”, the new book from Mary Weber, with my FairyLoot box! I was only worried when I would be able to read it, as my tbr list is rather huge, but I managed to squeeze it somewhere in the middle! Good thing is that it was easy to read and the story went flawless, so it took me less than two days to finish it!

Every year for the past fifty-four years, the residents of Pinsbury Port receive the same letter inviting all eligible-aged boys to compete for an esteemed scholarship to the all-male Stemwick University. Everyone is expecting it for different reason. The poor fellows expect it to see that they are not forgotten and they still belong somewhere. The rich fellows expect it to see the odds their sons have at winning and Rhen Tellur expects it so she can analyse the ink and find out the substances it’s created from.

She is a young scientist, helping her father in his medicine work, helping people all around the port and experimenting on vaccines and cures in order to help her fellow citizens in need and her sick mother. A disease is spread above the port town and many people have been affected, her mother being one of them. Young Rhen is trying to find a cure, by using rats as guinea pigs and by getting data from the unlucky ones defeated by the disease. This is not what a young girl should be dealing with, by the society standards, but she was raised that way, with a free mind and free thinking and her nature very much complies to that attitude!

In the book era, which is something of 18th century along with ghouls, sirens and other mythical creatures, women are raised to become wives and mothers, while men are raised to be educated and providers for their families. This is a man’s world and a woman that does not know her place, may lose it after all. It’a world most of us have not lived in, but one we have surely read of. All those things that have been fought for by women before this time, are still to be conquered for Rhen and she is one of those to be fighting for gender equality and free will.

Rhen is a fighter. She is a young girl that believes in herself and she would do anything in her power to save her mother and along with her any other that suffers from the crippling disease. She has been bullied by those who believe themselves better than her and she has responded with dignity, holding her head up. She knows that you are who you are and you will become who you want to be, only be believing in yourself and act on it. She is not afraid to stand for herself and for those in need, but she also knows when to stop talking in order to avoid the opposite result.

Rhen’s cousin Seleni, is nothing like her. Seleni’s dream is to become a wife and a mother, but she fully respects her cousin’s dream, as she expects Rhen to respect her own dream. She is in love with young Beryll and is very nervous that his parents won’t accept her. Beryll is a young man with a faint heart but a strong feeling of responsibility and a person that can understand more than he shows. Vincent is the boy that once was Rhen’s best friend but now has become a total stranger. He used to be intrigued by science but all of a sudden he decided to pursue a career he always despised, that of a politician, just like his father. Lute is the strong responsible young boy that has a family to look after but doesn’t want to miss his own dreams in the process. He is true and honest and a reliable young man!

The labyrinth competition is a clever one and it intents to test one’s knowledge, as well as their character. Since this is a competition to win a university scholarship, a good amount of knowledge is needed for someone to be able to get out of the labyrinth. At the same time, it is also an adventure, where companionship is being built and true character is revealed in the end. Mr Holms, the benefactor of the scholarship is a mysterious person. Almost no person in the Pinsbury Port has seen him, but pretty much everyone is intrigued by him. There are many rumors as to who he might be or what he is capable of, and as far as the competition is concerned, not everyone is sure when he is serious or he is joking. He is their local legend and they are looking forward to the Autumn festival and the competition every year! ( )
  GeorgiaKo | Dec 1, 2020 |
This review is posted on both my personal account and the account for Crossroads Public Library.

Actual Rating: Solid 4 Stars.

Look, I’m not going to describe the plot to you guys. The summary is available, so let’s just dive in: this was a good book. I loved Rhen’s spirit - she was fierce and intelligent, but she also had vulnerabilities that you don’t always see in YA protagonists. Lute was great. Vincent was not. I loved the Girl Power, ladies can be scientists and mathematicians too message of the whole book. My friends know that I am a crazy escape room fanatic, so I got way too into the puzzle solving aspect of the Labyrinth. I honestly wish there had been more to it than what we got. There were a handful of moments that even made me laugh.

I enjoyed this book, but.

Parts of the world building had me a little confused. Not quite the social aspect: I definitely understand a society that discourages girls and young women from pursuing careers in the sciences. Rather, the magic aspect of it had me kind of “?” There seem to be several mystical creatures: we encounter sirens, ghouls, basilisks, etc. One of the big plot twists involves magic as well. But they’re such little pieces of the environment that they don’t really feel like they’re a part of the story. Instead they just feel like convenient ways to explain plot holes and move the story along. A *little* exposition on the magic system would have gone a long way for me. And, since the study of science was such an important part of this book, why put mystical elements in at all? I don’t know, I guess I just personally needed either more magic or no magic. ( )
  zombiibean | Nov 20, 2020 |
Full review to come! ( )
  Floratina | Dec 7, 2019 |
3.5 Stars

I thoroughly enjoyed Mary Weber’s last couple of books (The Evaporation of Sofi Snow and Reclaiming Shilo Snow) and the cover of her 2019 release is just amazing. Plus, what gal’s interest wouldn’t be piqued with that title? Yet there was one thing about this book that didn’t quite click with me in To Best the Boys.

The build up to the labyrinth took too long. The book was halfway over before the players entered the maze. Yes, I understand the need for some of the background and introduction to Rhen and her group but it slowed the beginning down meaning I didn’t get pulled into the story as quickly as I had in Weber’s other reads.

That said, the pace most definitely picked up once the challenge begins, and everyone is fighting for the prize. I loved that the tasks in the maze were psychological as well as tests of intelligence and character. I also appreciate the diversity of the characters and their abilities. In and out of the maze, the supporting cast deal with some learning and physical disabilities.

As Rhen takes a stand against the oppression her society harbors toward women, she gives girls—both young and old—a message of empowerment through her actions.

Disclosure statement:
I receive complimentary books from publishers, publicists, and/or authors, including NetGalley. I am not required to write positive reviews. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255. ( )
  Suzie27 | May 30, 2019 |
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I love Mary Weber as much as her food recipes she shares with us every single month! I don’t usually decide whether to read a certain book by its cover, but this cover made me want to find out more about it. When I read the synopsis, I had to read it, as it captures women fighting for their rights in a young-adult format, and it simply was something I couldn’t miss.

I will be honest with you and say that this book didn’t deliver. Maybe it was my expectations, after all, that got me too excited for my own good.

Let’s start with Rhen. She is a girl that loves science, and her father has taught her everything he knows. They are poor family and don’t have all the equipment in the world, but that doesn’t stop them to keep discovering and learning every day. In their kingdom, an unknown disease comes around, and Rhen’s mum is ill, with no cure yet. Rhen wants desperately to find a cure, and a rich boy wanting to marry her might promise her all the equipment she needs, but now it’s time that she lacks.

When the men’s annual tournament is about to begin, with boys fighting for the science scholarship, Rhen knows that she has no choice but to enter, disguised as a boy, and try to win this – for her, for her dad, and most importantly, for her mum.

The book flows really slowly. We get to about half of the book when Rhen decides to enter the tournament. I expected this to happen in the first couple of chapters, and to then have the adventure from within the labyrinth. For me, it was quite a slow beginning, but some of you might enjoy that. The writing is beautiful throughout.

I loved the fighter within Rhen. She is a fierce person, determined to fight for what she wants. Even though throughout the book she has trouble with realising what is it that she really wants, we can see a bit of character development in her.

As a book that is supposed to cover gender equality, and women fighting for the same rights as men, this book didn’t really deliver. The letter states that every gentleperson – not gentleman. Which means, that inequality never truly exists at all. Women could have entered this competition, but they just chose not to.

The whole competition, the labyrinth and the scholarship lacks details and has enormous loopholes: one scholarship is given to one person – the one that wins the labyrinth. And after the winner is chosen, we have a scene where they all take a test, including the winner?

The disguise was a huge and important part of this book, as Rhen and her friend are pretending to be boys. Rhen cuts her hair, and her friend just pins it and ties it with a hat. They both wear boy clothes and barely remember to lower their voices. And that is all they do to not get recognised. And somehow, the people that know them their whole life fail to recognise them. A bit unbelievable…

I wish I loved this book, because I truly fell in love with the cover and the synopsis. But the whole labyrinth set-up seemed to be a side-story, with the illness being the main story, and the realisation of what Rhen actually wants to achieve. Random characters were introduced, that didn’t drive the story one bit, and the author also happened to throw in an inconsistent romance and a love triangle.

I hate to say this, but the book seems like an unfinished draft. It seemed so promising, and all I thought I would get out of this was non-existent.

I am not sure if I would want to recommend this book to you guys. If you want to give it a try, I encourage you, and would love to talk about it and hear what you think, but if you are here because you loved the synopsis, this book will probably not satisfy you.

Thank you to Thomas Nelson and Netgalley, for giving me a complimentary ARC e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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  InnahLovesYou | Apr 18, 2019 |
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The task is simple: Don a disguise. Survive the labyrinth . . . Best the boys. Every year for the past fifty-four years, the residents of Pinsbury Port have received a mysterious letter inviting all eligible-aged boys to compete for an esteemed scholarship to the all-male Stemwick University. The poorer residents look to see if their names are on the list. The wealthier look to see how likely their sons are to survive. And Rhen Tellur opens it to see if she can derive which substances the ink and parchment are created from, using her father's microscope. In the province of Caldon, where women train in wifely duties and men pursue collegiate education, sixteen-year-old Rhen Tellur wants nothing more than to become a scientist. As the poor of her seaside town fall prey to a deadly disease, she and her father work desperately to find a cure. But when her mum succumbs to it as well? Rhen decides to take the future into her own hands--through the annual all-male scholarship competition. With her cousin, Seleni, by her side, the girls don disguises and enter Mr. Holm's labyrinth, to best the boys and claim the scholarship prize. Except not everyone is ready for a girl who doesn't know her place. And not everyone survives the deadly maze. Welcome to the labyrinth. Praise for To Best the Boys: "Atmospheric, romantic, inspiring." --KRISTEN CICCARELLI, internationally bestselling author of The Last Namsara "Smart, determined, and ready to take on the world: Rhen Tellur is an outstanding heroine with every reason to win a competition historically intended for boys." --Jodi Meadows, New York Times bestselling author of The Incarnate Trilogy and coauthor of My Lady Jane A "Hunger Games/Handmaid's Tale mash-up." --BN Teen Blog

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