Tag Archives: sea

Cover Reveal: Seamonster (An Aquarathi Novella) by Amalie Howard + Giveaway!

Cover Reveal
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(AQUARATHI NOVELLA)
YOUNG ADULT
AVAILABLE TODAY

They say that love is the death of duty …

Speio Marin is land-bound, tied to the side of the Waterfell queen-to-be, Nerissa. There’s only one problem–she wants nothing to do with any of the Aquarathi or her undersea kingdom, preferring instead the freedom of pretending to be human. Torn between his own desires and his duty to serve his future queen, he spirals into an abyss of malcontent. Speio’s mistrust of humans is no secret, and he sees them only as a threat to the existence of his people.

Until he meets Anya Delmonico–a mysterious and enigmatic girl, teetering on the edge of survival. Anya is sedate and secretive, yet reckless enough to brave a hundred-foot cliff jump. Caught between a dark past and an ex-boyfriend who refuses to let her go, Anya knows that getting involved with anyone new is the last thing she should do. But when her past catches up to her, Speio turns out to be the only one she can trust, refusing to let her face her demons alone.

When Anya discovers the truth about Speio, putting her life in mortal danger from the Aquarathi as well as her own sinister pursuers, will he risk everything to protect her? Or will he choose duty above all?

AVAILABLE ON
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Check out Book 1
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You can pre-order book 2, OCEANBORN today! 
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AMALIE HOWARD grew up on a small Caribbean island where she spent most of her childhood with her nose buried in a book or being a tomboy running around barefoot, shimmying up mango trees and dreaming of adventure. 22 countries, surfing with sharks and several tattoos later, she has traded in bungee jumping in China for writing the adventures she imagines instead. She isn’t entirely convinced which takes more guts.

She is the author of several young adult novels critically acclaimed by Kirkus, PW, and Booklist, including Waterfell, The Almost Girl, and Alpha Goddess, a Spring 2014 Kid’s INDIE NEXT title. Her debut novel, Bloodspell, was an Amazon bestseller and a Seventeen Magazine Summer Read. As an author of color and a proud supporter of diversity in fiction, her articles on multicultural fiction have appeared in The Portland Book Review and on the popular Diversity in YA blog. She currently resides in New York with her husband and three children.

Website † Twitter † Facebook † GoodReads
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Giveaway

And now, to celebrate, an amazing giveaway! Signed copies of Waterfell and Oceanborn, custom book necklace with sea dragon charm, a bracelet + book swag!

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Review: The Sea Inside by Vickie Johnstone

The Sea Inside

by Vickie Johnstone

Genre: YA Fantasy

Series: Cerulean Songs #1

Source: Won from author giveaway. Thank you!

Book Summary:

Book 1 in the Cerulean Songs series. Time is all we have; it flows – it cannot stop. Jayne wakes up in the hospital following a terrible accident to find herself paralysed below the waist. While struggling to recover, she is offered a gift that opens a portal to another world. To the girl’s astonishment, she finds herself on a journey, on both the physical and mental plane. It brings her to the mystical realm of Entyre, where life is very different and power lies with the creatures of the deep. Her adventures bring her face to face with a terrifying witch, a cheeky insect and the most beautiful of mystical creatures – a unicorn. While the threads of time keep flowing, Jayne must decide what is real, who to trust, and regain her inner strength in order to find herself and her true destiny.

Nickie Storey, author of the ‘Grimsley Hollow’ series: “A delicious brew of invention, enchantment and refreshing characters, Vickie Johnstone has a firm grasp on the fantasy genre. I can’t wait to read more of her work!”

Greta Burroughs, author of the ‘Wee People’ series: “Strange worlds, interesting characters, suspense and a surprise ending – what more can you ask for? This book has it all and more.”

Jennifer Thomas: “A gripping and fascinating mythical adventure that is beautifully described. There is suspense, fear and emotion throughout the entire novel that makes you want to keep turning the page.”

A big thank you to Maja Drazic for the beautiful cover photograph.

book thoughts

I was excited to read this book. The cover is gorgeous (I’d seen the image on deviantART before I even knew the book existed), I love fantasy and I know what it’s like to be paralyzed. So when I won a copy I read it as soon as it arrived.

The author completely nailed what it’s like to be in the hospital following a catastrophic injury. Jayne felt lost, alone, detached, confused. It was like I was reliving my own experience it was so accurate. Jayne is given  a chance to escape her tragic situation, to walk again and be whole, by a strange woman who gives her a crystal. The crystal transports Jayne to the underwater city of Entyre.

Jayne concentrated on getting better. The dark mood that she had found herself in grew steadily lighter and she pushed her memories of the blue city to the back of her mind, dismissing them as dreams, which would gradually fade with time.

That was her hope, for while she slept her mind wove images of the sea, accompanied by the echo of the whales and a tall man whose hair was the colour of the darkest waves.

He was always there, not far away it seemed, thus was the lucidity of her sleeping life.

The author employs a unique, highly effective narration strategy when switching between Jayne’s time in Entyre and in our own world. When in Entye, the story is told in first person, and when in our own world, it is told in third. To me, this reflects Jayne’s feelings that perhaps the injury has happened to someone else, and she is just a spectator. It also gives her added agency when her body and health are restored in Entyre. It reminded me of the switch between color and black-and-white in The Wizard of Oz.

Jayne falls in love and finds a new home in Entyre, and though the city is fascinating and described beautifully, I really needed more. When Jayne first arrives in Entyre, she is nearly killed by mysterious invisible creatures who live in the sand. We learn that there was a devastating war involving these creatures – but that’s it. We also don’t learn enough about how the crystal works or why, or what the connection between Entyre and our world is. I wanted more of the mythology of Entrye, more of how people lived there (though at least we did see some of that). I also would have appreciated more of a build-up of the romance. It wasn’t insta-love, but it was rather too subtle. I wanted to know what they liked about each other, what they did together. We never really get to see them together as a couple. They kiss once, then two weeks pass, then Jayne is yanked back into our world.

I did enjoy the kind of inverse of the traditional hero’s journey that occurs in the second half of the book. Instead of (let’s use The Wizard of Oz as an example again), the heroine spending all her time trying to get home to the regular world, Jayne discovers that Entyre is her true home, and must fight heroically to return to it.

How could I have doubted myself even once? It was never a dream.

This second half unfolds in decidedly Narnian fashion – things don’t necessarily make sense, but they keep you on your toes. I’m the type of reader who wants to know the reasons behind a flying unicorn, how it got there, why, etc., but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the flying unicorn at all. (Yes, there is actually a flying unicorn – also, at one point our heroine is carted off by actual plot bunnies). This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just isn’t my preferred method of plot development. It was unique and interesting, but events felt like they came out of nowhere and I really wanted more structure.

The writing itself suffered from a few issues. First, I felt it was rather too formal for a modern British teen. It didn’t sound natural and made Jayne harder to connect with at times. There were also minor descriptive issues, such as Jayne repeatedly describing her own red hair flying in the wind, and the way she almost always had to “glance around” before she could describe something. It made Jayne’s narrative awkward at times.

I’ll give an example. First, I’m reading this scene, which leaves me breathless with its poignancy:

“You know they speak to one another.”

“The trees? No!”

“They do. If you listen, you can hear the rustling of the leaves. They open like hands, don’t you think? I imagine them as hands, but they speak. I am sure of it.”

But then I keep reading and on the next page it says:

“So, here I was in a forest of blue and it seemed normal and I was on an adventure.”

and then I’m frustrated because I wish she would describe something, anything else instead of repeatedly describing things that are obvious.

I did enjoy the ending. I liked the fact that a fall (Jayne’s accident) began the story, and she had to fall again to reach Entyre once more. The allusions to The Little Mermaid were brilliant. Once of my favorite aspects of the Hans Christian Anderson version is the pain the mermaid experienced in her feet when she tried to walk. This theme, and the parallels between mermaids and paralysis in general were beautifully done. The theme of time was also thoughtful and interesting. All in all, I enjoyed this book, and I just hope that the next installment goes deeper into the mythology of Entrye and explains things more clearly.

3 paper hearts


Review: Ashes on the Waves by Mary Lindsey

Ashes on The Waves

by Mary Lindsey

Genre: YA Fantasy, Paranormal, Gothic

Series: Standalone

Source: Gift from my amazing husband, who knows there is nothing more romantic than Annabel Lee

Book Summary:

Liam MacGregor is cursed. Haunted by the wails of fantastical Bean Sidhes and labeled a demon by the villagers of Dòchas, Liam has accepted that things will never get better for him—until a wealthy heiress named Annabel Leighton arrives on the island and Liam’s fate is changed forever.

With Anna, Liam finally finds the happiness he has always been denied; but, the violent, mythical Otherworlders, who inhabit the island and the sea around it, have other plans. They make awager on the couple’s love, testing its strength through a series of cruel obstacles. But the tragedies draw Liam and Anna even closer. Frustrated, the creatures put the couple through one last trial—and this time it’s not only their love that’s in danger of being destroyed.

Based on Edgar Allan Poe’s chilling poem, “Annabel Lee,” Mary Lindsey creates a frighteningly beautiful gothic novel that glorifies the power of true love.

book thoughts

I didn’t think it possible, but this book actually exceeded my expectations. The expectations of a hopeless romantic goth girl poetess, mind you. So they were exponentially high. A book based on one of the best (and definitely the most romantic) poems ever written? I had to have it. Add on the ridiculous gorgeousness of the cover? No question.

I think the author took just the right amount of liberties with Poe’s ideas, not just Annabel Lee, but a number of Poe’s works. A Poe quote accompanies each chapter and sets the tone for the events that unfold. Lindsey understands well Poe’s use of setting as almost a character itself, and the choice of Dochas,  a remote island off the coast of Maine, free of modern conveniences like electricity and full of superstition and prejudice, is perfect. Even though these events technically unfold in a contemporary setting, the book has a definite old-world feel, and the contrast is superb.

Annabel (called Anna in the novel) is herself a member of the modern world, and understandably bewildered and horrified by the ways of the villagers of Dochas. A place where “husband throw their wives off of cliffs and no one does anything about it”. She is a breath of fresh air, with no tolerance for injustice or superstition. At first I expected Anna to be more of an archetype than a person, a flesh incarnation of the narrator Liam’s fantasy, but I am so glad that she turned out to be a real, authentic person in her own right. Liam, on the other hand, is a tragic victim of circumstance. He suffers paralysis of the left arm in a place where his disability is seen as a symptom of demonic possession, and he never questions this assertion. His childhood friendship with Anna was the one bright spot in his life, and he clings to it ever after, until the day the ne’er-do-well heiress is exiled to the island and long-ago friendship ignites into love.

I was also expecting insta-love (which I don’t have a problem with, as a general rule. I’ve experienced love at first sight) but I appreciated that the author let the relationship develop in its own time. It was fast and intense, but it was easy to understand the motivation behind the emotion. Anna is the affection and escape Liam has never allowed himself to wish for, and Liam cares for and respects Anna in a way no one else in her life ever has. But their budding romance is overshadowed by the villagers’ hatred of Liam, and by the supernatural creatures who hold dominion over Dochas: the Bean Sidhes, whose warning screams of murder interrupt the young lovers’ embraces, and the Na Fir Ghorm, whose malevolent tricks and beckonings serve to stir the villagers’ hatred ever more. The two competing groups make a wager on the strength of the couple’s love, with devastating consequences.

Sometimes-narrator Muireean, the young selkie whose selfless love for Liam leads her to try to help the couple, provides the comic relief, as she marvels at the strangeness of humans and human form. Her breezy narrative was a striking contrast to Liam’s intense, tortured narration. I never felt that Liam was over-the-top or too emotional – indeed, it was refreshing to see a male character embrace his feelings. Considering what a misery his life was, he could have been even more dramatic than he was. I especially appreciated how the author was realistic about his disability. I’m disabled myself so I can tell she did her research. When Liam descends a ladder while holding a candle, the difficulty with which this is done is touched upon, rather than skirted over. Liam has rudimentary assistive devices in his home and place of employment as well, which made his condition much more realistic.

The author uses every line of the poem, and the story unfolds with a pervasive sense of dread, even through lighter moments. As readers, we know what is coming and that it cannot be stopped. The addition of a mystery or two served to ratchet up the tension even more. The ending is tragic and beautiful, and allows for multiple interpretations. This is just as it should be, in my opinion, and I think Mr. Poe would be pleased.

5paperhearts