Image Map

Merrow by Ananda Braxton-Smith eARC {4.5 Stars}

Merrow by Ananda Braxton-Smith is a quiet and beautiful tale of a girl trying to understand her mother’s disappearance and the rumors that have been circulating about her fantastical parentage. This book combines a rich historical setting of Ireland as Christianity is just starting to come into the land and the question of whether the Merrow (Irish mermaid/selkies) are real or not. If you’re looking for a book that sneaks up on you before sweeping you away to a mystical land, this is the one.

Note: I received an advanced copy of Merrow from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.

Merrow by Ananda Braxton-Smith eARC {4.5 Stars}

Merrow by Ananda Braxton-Smith (Secrets of Carrick #1)
Published by Candlewick Press on Nov. 8th, 2016
Genres: Historical Fantasy, YA
Page Length: 240 pages
How I got my copy: NetGalley, Publisher
Amazon - IndieBound - Book Depository - Barnes & Noble - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog

In this breathless and beautifully crafted tale, twelve-year-old Neen Marrey must separate town gossip from town lore to learn the truth about her mother—and herself.

The people of Carrick Island have been whispering behind Neen’s back ever since her father drowned and her mother disappeared. The townspeople say her mother was a merrow and has returned to the ocean. Neen, caught in her hazy new in-between self—not a child, but not quite grown up—can’t help but wonder if the villagers are right. But if her mother was a merrow, then what does that make Neen?

4.5 Stars

Strengths:
[Read more…]

Horizon by Jenn Reese ARC {4 Stars}

Horizon by Jenn Reese is the conclusion to the Above World trilogy, a mix of sci-fi and fantasy middle grade that has continued to incorporate more and more cool ideas and messages throughout! If you don’t want to be spoiled, check out my review of Above World instead ;-). If you’ve enjoyed this series so far, then you have to read the final book since it continues to deliver all the fun and magic that Above World and Mirage started. We even get chapters from a few new points of view, yey!

Note: I received Horizon from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Some things may have changed in the final version.

Horizon by Jenn Reese ARC {4 Stars}

Horizon by Jenn Reese (Above World #3)
Published by Candlewick Press on April 8th, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, MG, Sci-fi
Page Length: 400 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
Amazon - IndieBound - Book Depository - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog

Aluna and Hoku, Kampii from the City of Shifting Tides, and their friends, Equian Dash and winged Aviar Calli, are determined to stop a war. The maniacal ex-scientist Karl Strand is planning to conquer the world with his enormous army of tech-enhanced soldiers . . . unless the four friends can get to Strand first. Aluna’s plan is dangerous: pose as Upgraders and infiltrate the army. But the enemy isn’t what they expected and the strategy begins to crumble. When the friends are torn apart by conflicting allegiances, their slim chance of avoiding war seems to disappear completely. For Aluna and Hoku, what began as a quest to save their own people has become a mission to save the world. But do Aluna and her friends have any hope of defeating Strand if they can’t take him on together?

4 Stars

Strengths:
[Read more…]

Of Poseidon by Anna Banks {4 Stars}

This is a repost of a guest review I did this summer, enjoy!

I’ve seen a lot of mixed reviews for Of Poseidon by Anna Banks and had actually decided not to read it. Then I joined in a Mermaid Summer Reading Challenge and there are surprisingly few mermaid books out there, so I borrowed everything I could find from the library. Of Poseidon was one of them, and it was just so tempting one evening when I decided to throw caution to the wind (haha). I’m so glad I did!

Of Poseidon by Anna Banks {4 Stars}

Of Poseidon by Anna Banks (Of Poseidon #1)
Published by Feiwel & Friends on May 22nd, 2012
Genres: Fantasy, YA
Page Length: 324 pages
How I got my copy: Borrowed
Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog

Galen is the prince of the Syrena, sent to land to find a girl he's heard can communicate with fish. Emma is on vacation at the beach. When she runs into Galen—literally, ouch!—both teens sense a connection. But it will take several encounters, including a deadly one with a shark, for Galen to be convinced of Emma's gifts. Now, if he can only convince Emma that she holds the key to his kingdom...

4 Stars

Strengths:

  • I’m biased by my current love of all things mermaid, but I really enjoyed the world in Of Poseidon, especially the incorporation of sea god mythology. It’s always interesting to see how an author is going to deal with the fact that mermaids don’t actually make that much anatomical sense. I appreciated how Banks dealt with how mermaid breed and how their society functions.
  • Besides dragons, my biggest book weakness (ie LOVE) is a heroine with guts and strength. Emma took this a bit literally by pounding faces when certain people pissed her off, and it was great to see a teen girl who dealt with her temper so directly ;-). Perhaps not a model for good behavior, but certainly feisty!
  • Rayna and Toraf were two of my favorite secondary characters completely separate from their relationship. Rayna was even more of a tough and short-tempered heroine, while Toraf was the lovable dork and reminded me of the computer geek from Dollhouse. Remember that show??
  • It is an impressive book that can surprise me so thoroughly while still making sense with its plot twist, congratulations Of Poseidon :D *throws streamers*

Weaknesses:

  •  Of Poseidon switches between first person present tense and third person present tense and omg was that annoying and confusing! My brain still struggles with reading present tense at all and I almost put down the book because I just hated the switches so much.
  • Galen (main love interest) is kind of a jerk, which can be explained by mermaid culture or whatever, but still. Stop ordering Emma around! Also please try to be less creepy.
  • On a similar mermaid culture note: mermaid marriage laws suck. If these don’t get explored and hopefully fixed by the end of the trilogy I’m going to be mad.
  • There were a few times in Of Poseidon where the phrasing was awkward such that I had to go re-read a sentence to understand what it was trying to say. This wasn’t just because I was tired, I swear!

Summary:

I personally have seen a fairly mixed reaction to Of Poseidon, but I am so glad I joined in this summer reading challenge and gave it a shot! Of Poseidon certainly has some annoying aspects, but I found that the underlying story was just too much fun to put down. There are too few mermaid books out there (untapped market people!), but Of Poseidon is a great one to read. Now don’t mind me while I go read Of Triton ;-).

4 Stars

Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings – Anya

 

 Of Poseidon by Anna Banks

4.5 Stars: River Road by Suzanne Johnson

River Road by Suzanne Johnson is the second in the Sentinels of New Orleans series, so there might be some spoilers for the first book, though nothing too big since they occur pretty far apart. I had trouble getting in to the first book, Royal Street, but I ended up loving River Road much more. I highly recommend you give the second book a try even if you were only so-so on the first book ;-).

Note: I purchased River Road.

4.5 Stars: River Road by Suzanne Johnson

River Road by Suzanne Johnson (Sentinels of New Orleans #2)
Published by Tor Books on November 13th, 2012
Genres: Adult, Urban Fantasy
Page Length: 336 pages
How I got my copy: Purchased
IndieBound - Book Depository - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog

Hurricane Katrina is long gone, but the preternatural storm rages on in New Orleans. New species from the Beyond moved into Louisiana after the hurricane destroyed the borders between worlds, and it falls to wizard sentinel Drusilla Jaco and her partner, Alex Warin, to keep the preternaturals peaceful and the humans unaware. But a war is brewing between two clans of Cajun merpeople in Plaquemines Parish, and down in the swamp, DJ learns, there’s more stirring than angry mermen and the threat of a were-gator.

Wizards are dying, and someone—or something—from the Beyond is poisoning the waters of the mighty Mississippi, threatening the humans who live and work along the river. DJ and Alex must figure out what unearthly source is contaminating the water and who—or what—is killing the wizards. Is it a malcontented merman, the naughty nymph, or some other critter altogether? After all, DJ’s undead suitor, the pirate Jean Lafitte, knows his way around a body or two.

It’s anything but smooth sailing on the bayou as the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series continues. -- Goodreads

4.5 Stars

Strengths:

  • I have read very few urban fantasy that focus heavily on mermaids, but River Road did just that! It really makes perfect sense giving the New Orleans setting after all. I was quite happy with how merpeople were presented (werefish basically), which has been rare in my mermaid reading.
  • The plot twists, especially the big reveal, were quite clever and I definitely didn’t see them coming. I always enjoy being duped by a book :D.
  • River Road had a fun summer feel to it, making now the perfect time to read it! Royal Street had a very dark and sad feel with the Katrina setting, but River Road had a much stronger emphasis on sunny deltas which was nice to read about.
  • The writing style of River Road was very light and readable. I found myself excited to sink back in and have some fun, making me finish it in just over two days.

Weaknesses:

  •  The combination of weres, shifters and a sexy neighbor reminded me strongly of the Mercy Thompson series. Obviously UF stories are going to have some similarities being in the same genre, but there was a moment where I sat back and furrowed my brow in distress at how close River Road came.
  • Tired of love triangles? Try love quadrangles! Seriously, I don’t care how awesome a female MC is, three guys is just a little ridiculous.
  • River Road is set ~3 years after Royal Street, which was a bit of a time jump to take. Except when the timing was mentioned, it really didn’t feel like three years had passed for the relationships, so it seemed just a convenient way to avoid too much Katrina damage….

Summary:

River Road takes full advantage of the New Orleans setting but goes back to the fun and easy readability that UF is awesome for. While there are some tropes I’m just tired of, River Road did bring merpeople to the UF genre in a way I haven’t heard of before and was quite enjoyable to explore. I’m hoping there isn’t so much of a time jump for the next book though, otherwise our characters might start dying of old age by the end of the series! (Well, not actually since I think all of them are long lived…. Silly wizards!)

4.5 Stars
Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings

– Anya

 

 River Road by Suzanne Johnson

3 Stars: Forbidden Sea by Sheila A. Nielson

Forbidden Sea by Sheila A. Nielson is a more of a coming of age story than anything else, don’t let the mermaid on the cover fool you. I read it for the Mermaid Summer Reading Challenge, but quickly found myself wondering when the mermaid was going to show up again. I enjoyed the medieval setting as a break from all the modern day mermaid stories that I’ve been reading, but wished that more time had been spent on the cool other culture and less on the daily goings-on of the townspeople.

Note: I borrowed Forbidden Sea from the library.

3 Stars: Forbidden Sea by Sheila A. Nielson

Forbidden Sea by Sheila Nielson
Published by Scholastic Press on July 1st, 2010
Genres: Fantasy, YA
Page Length: 304 pages
How I got my copy: Borrowed
IndieBound - Book Depository - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog

A mermaid haunts Adrianne's dreams . . . is she coming to warn her, save her, or drag her down into the depths of the briny sea forever?

When Adrianne comes face-to-face with the mermaid of Windwaithe Island, of whom she has heard terrible stories all her life, she is convinced the mermaid means to take her younger sister. Adrianne, fierce-willed and courageous, is determined to protect her sister from the mermaid, and her family from starvation. However, the mermaid continues to haunt Adrianne in her dreams and with her song. -- Goodreads

3 Stars

Strengths:

  • The mermaid lore and world in Forbidden Sea was wonderful to read about once it finally showed up. The merpeople’s living arrangements and history made sense and the whole human breathing underwater was internally consistent. Just what I look for in a fantasy!
  • While there was potential for a love triangle, it was completely bypassed, proving that YA doesn’t actually need love triangles to function ;-).
  • I enjoyed a number of the secondary characters and the depth that was given to them. If it wasn’t for the layers building up with Auntie and Cecily, I would have been even less entertained.

Weaknesses:

  •  Some books save the world overly dramatically; Forbidden Sea is not one of those books. At the end of the story, I realized that basically nothing actually changed from the beginning except for one improvement that doesn’t even get mentioned in the wrap-up.
  • The first 2/3 of Forbidden Sea were quite slow. There is a cool opening scene with the mermaid, and then it’s all about the sad lives of peasants for a while….
  • Speaking of sad lives, you know how sometimes an MC is just too tragic? Adri is in a horrible situation both financially and socially, but she continues to nobly suffer to help her family (who don’t really appreciate her). She was just too noble in too horrible of a situation to be believed.
  • During the boring 2/3 another plot line with horses and a job unfolds, but gets shoved aside for mermaid story time. I wasn’t happy with the lack of conclusion or the detour (even though horses are cool).

Summary:

I frequently found myself with a puzzled expression while reading Forbidden Sea, since I just couldn’t care about the events as much as I apparently was supposed to. There was a rich world of merpeople to explore and Forbidden Sea would have been much more fun to read if that storyline had been the focus throughout. If Forbidden Sea hadn’t been so short, I definitely wouldn’t have finished it unfortunately.

3 Stars
Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings

– Anya

 

 Forbidden Sea by Sheila Nielson

2.5 Stars: The Mermaid’s Mirror by L.K. Madigan

I read The Mermaid’s Mirror by L.K. Madigan as part of the Mermaid Summer Reading Challenge, since who doesn’t want to read more mermaid books, right?? :D I actually managed to read it in one day because I was flying 4+ hours with added layover time. If I wasn’t stuck on a plane, I might not have managed this one folks. The Mermaid’s Mirror was good at first, but it quickly went down hill once I was past 50%. I was frustrated with the world-building, insta-love, and strange betrayal in the second half. Warning: Snark abounds.

Note: I received borrowed The Mermaid’s Mirror from the library.

2.5 Stars: The Mermaid’s Mirror by L.K. Madigan

The Mermaid's Mirror by L. K. Madigan
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on October 4th, 2010
Genres: Fantasy, YA
Page Length: 308 pages
How I got my copy: Borrowed
Amazon - Book Depository - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog

Lena has lived her whole life near the beach – walking for miles up and down the shore and breathing the salty air, swimming in the cold water, and watching the surfers rule the waves – the problem is, she’s spent her whole life just watching.

As her sixteenth birthday approaches, Lena vows she will no longer watch from the sand: she will learn to surf.

But her father – a former surfer himself – refuses to allow her to take lessons. After a near drowning in his past, he can’t bear to let Lena take up the risky sport.

Yet something lures Lena to the water … an ancient, powerful magic. One morning Lena catches sight of this magic: a beautiful woman – with a silvery tail.

Nothing will keep Lena from seeking the mermaid, not even the dangerous waves at Magic Crescent Cove.

And soon … what she sees in the mermaid’s mirror will change her life …

2.5 Stars

Strengths:

  • I really enjoyed the first 50% of The Mermaid’s Mirror and had high hopes. There was an interesting mystery surrounding Lena’s mother and why her father fears the ocean so much. We get clear hints that a mermaid really lives in the cove nearby, and I was excited to see how she would be involved.
  • Not many YA’s go for the pre-established relationship, so that was fun to see. You’d think this meant you didn’t need to worry about insta-love, however, you’d be wrong. But the beginning was great!
  • Cole is the younger brother and he is so adorable and sweet. He loves his big sister and his parents very much. I bet many of us wish for a little brother like him, haha.

Weaknesses:

  •  When there are mermaids, I prefer there to be one lore (or a very well thought-out and cool reason to combine). Mermaids are certainly not all that realistic, but there are sea creatures to base them on somewhat. With that in mind, it doesn’t work for me to have mermaids that both “breathe water” (with magic/magical gills, totally fine with that), and need to surface for air every few hours. It just doesn’t make any sense.
  • On the subject of things that don’t make sense, we are going to combine mermaid and selkies into merlkies (patent pending). No, but seriously, there is a seal cloak that mermaids can wear to look like seals when they want to spy on humans. This same cloak protects a mermaid who switches to legs and goes on land (because the painful leg transformation wasn’t enough), AND allows a human to swim with the fishes (and breathe water) until she truly accepts life under the sea. This is the magical seal cloak that does everything folks. The mermaids have scaly fish tails by the way, they aren’t actually selkies in disguise (or does the cloak do that too??? >.>).
  • From the start of The Mermaid’s Mirror, you’d think you would be protected from insta-love, but no, there is always a way. Insta-love in a can, get it while supplies last! (I can’t give more details because of spoilers.)
  • The mermaid world was rather flat and reminded me heavily of Disney’s The Little Mermaid, except they live in nomadic structures to hide from the humans, ooOOoo.

Summary:

I think this might have been my snarkiest review yet! The Mermaid’s Mirror had perfectly pleasant writing, but I just can’t get over a book that doesn’t have a well thought-out magic system and insta-love. If those things don’t bother you, give it a try, you might like it! I personally am amazed that I finished The Mermaid’s Mirror looking back on it….

2.5 Stars
Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings – Anya

 

 The Mermaid’s Mirror by L.K. Madigan

Top Ten Beach Reads – Mermaids!

Top Ten Tuesday

Thanks to the gals of The Broke and The Bookish for hosting this meme every week!

Note: I have noticed that the comments on this one aren’t working. I’m looking into it and hopefully will fix it soon!

I’ve joined in the Mermaid Summer reading challenge and mermaids make for the best beach reading for me ;-). I don’t actually go to the beach that often, so reading about mythical creatures that live in the water helps make up for that, haha. Now I haven’t actually gotten to read all of these yet, but these are the ones I’m loving and looking forward to!

Mermaid Books I’ve Read

above world Mirage by Jenn Reese Of Poseidon

I’m cheating a little bit here since I really haven’t read that many mermaid books yet! D: However I loved Above World and the sequel, Mirage! They are about a pair of mermaid children going off to discover mysteries and adventure along with a couple more species of humanoids with animal traits ;-). I’m currently reading Of Poseidon and should be done quite soon. I had heard mixed things about that one but am actually enjoying it much more than I expected!

Books Still To Read!

Forbidden Sea The Mermaid's Mirror Of Triton Everblue Vicious Deep Monstrous Beauty Florence

So since I haven’t read that many mermaid books yet, there are lots still on my to-read list. I got a chance to read a chapter of Forbidden Sea before I had to return it to the library since someone else wanted to read it! I’m going to put a hold in and get it back as soon as I can ;-). I also still have The Mermaid’s Mirror on loan from the library and will be reading that as soon as I’m done with Of Poseidon. I have copies of a lot of these to read in the next couple of months, very exciting!

Have you read any good mermaid books recently? Do you have advice for me on which to read next? :D

Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings -A

5 Stars: Above World by Jenn Reese

Above World by Jenn Reese is a Nebula finalist (Andre Norton Award) this year, therefore as soon as I spotted it, I had to read it. I’ve been craving mermaid/underwater books lately (I think they make me think of summer, haha), so I was freaking thrilled to discover Above World. While the Kampii don’t want you to call them mermaids, and a lot of the book takes place in the Above World (ie land), this book had such an original combination of fantasy and sci-fi elements as well as an awesome retelling of the traditional mermaid myths. Think about a world were humans have altered themselves to be able to live underwater (tails, breathing devices and all), or fly through the skies (think harpies, but not evil), or gallop across the deserts (centaurs!). That is the world that Above World is set in :D.

I borrowed a copy of this book from the library. All statements are my own honest opinions.

Above World by Jenn Reese Goodreads Amazon | LibraryThing
Title: Above World
Author: Jenn Reese
Length: 368 pages (hardcover)
Genre-ish: Fantasy/Sci-fi hybrid :D (Younger YA)
Rating★★★– such awesome world-building and characters!

Thirteen-year-old Aluna has lived her entire life under the ocean with the Coral Kampii in the City of Shifting Tides. But after centuries spent hidden from the Above World, her colony’s survival is in doubt. The Kampii’s breathing necklaces are failing, but the elders are unwilling to venture above water to seek answers. Only headstrong Aluna and her friend Hoku are stubborn and bold enough to face the terrors of land to search for way to save their people.

But can Aluna’s warrior spirit and Hoku’s tech-savvy keep them safe? Set in a world where overcrowding has led humans to adapt—growing tails to live under the ocean or wings to live on mountains—here is a ride through a future where greed and cruelty have gone unchecked, but the loyalty of friends remains true. — Goodreads

Strengths:

  • One of my favorite things about Above World were the new phrases that Reese came up with to suit a culture that has been living under the sea for generations. They say things like “still as a starfish” because that’s what they are surrounded by! This level of detail to the world made me really happy :D.
  • At first I thought Above World was a fantasy with mermaids, then I realized it was a fantasy with sci-fi roots to explain how all the humanoids came to be. This hybridization was freaking awesome to read.
  • Aluna and Hoku are adorable and I love how they broke various stereotypes. Aluna was a great female character who was a complete tomboy, though her headstrong nature got her into trouble sometimes. Hoku was the one who needed rescuing because he was a complete nerd :D, but his curiosity for technology was quite useful in the end.
  • Above World is proof that best friends don’t always have to fall in love with each other. This was a huge relief ;-) and sends a good message I think. Turns out girls and boys can be just friends if they want, haha.

Weaknesses:

  • As with many books of this age range, there were some convenient developments to get the characters out of various pickles. 
  • While Above World at first seems like a middle grade, I would be very cautious about suggesting this to kids. There were some pretty gruesome moments with all the body part switching technology. I would say Above World is more a light YA given the gore-y parts near the end. 

Summary:

I may be biased due to my current mermaid addiction, but Above World is hands down an awesome fantasy/sci-fi book. I am in love with this world and can’t wait to find out more about the centaur people in the next book :D. While most of Above World has a MG feel to it, there is definitely a lot of weird and gore-y moments given the nature of the technological enhancements everyone has. If you are looking for a fun fantasy that has tech-mermaids (maybe you didn’t realize you were looking for that, but you should be!), great characters and world-building, and a bit of an edge, you have to pick up Above World like NOW.

Remember to subscribe for weekly reviews of awesome books!

Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings – A

 

 Above World by Jenn Reese