[...] 'it's the truth.' I glared at him. 'You wanted to kiss me just as much as I wanted to kiss you.' His eyes dropped back to my mouth and I felt th[...] 'it's the truth.' I glared at him. 'You wanted to kiss me just as much as I wanted to kiss you.' His eyes dropped back to my mouth and I felt the fire in my stomach rekindle. 'That's not the point.' My words were breathless and I frowned, realizing that I had agreed to what he said. Half a conversation later he hopped onto the bottom rung of the ladder so he was pressed against my back. [...] His long, hard body pressed against mine was giving me ideas I didn't need.
**** If you read this review, you will encounter spoilers ****
Apart from a few things that could have been improved by thorough proof-reading or an impartial editor (view spoiler)[- see, for example the repetition in the quote at the beginning (hide spoiler)] - the two stars above mainly reflect a picture-book case of It isn't the book. It's me. I say this with conviction because I can actually think of a proper handful of friends I would recommend the self-published new adult (view spoiler)[ - I would rather say young adult, but it will be discussed later on - (hide spoiler)] mermaid romance to without hesitation. (Tina, Jess, Jessica, Crystal, Alexa, Arlene, Amber and Nic: I am looking at you.)
'Flukes' is a modern teenage mermaid fairytale that is mainly focused on sexual encounters. After outlining shortly what I did like about it, I will try to elaborate on the things that unfortunately clashed with my peculiar expectations of a paranormal romance, a new adult/young adult love story or a story which is worth to spend time reading in general. Hopefully you can decide afterwards if your taste leans towards being hard to please by the current outcrop of easy-to-consume-romantic-fiction in the same degree as mine or if you should reconsider your probably earlier idea to give 'Flukes' a miss.
Although 'Flukes' takes place at an aqua zoo in the Caribbean with a private beach attached to it, the beginning had a strongly fairytale-like flavor, which appealed to me: Ben and Marion, who run an aquatic refuge center, which is later to become 'Flukes', sort through the debris flung about by a huge coastal storm and discover a mermaid baby protected by a couple of hurt dolphins. Because they had - like the king and queen of ancient myths - tragically not given birth to a child of their own, they fall in love with the helpless creature and keep her. Marion and Ben are nice parents, which is pretty unusual in YA (view spoiler)[ - probably to balance this out the hero has an extra-cold piece of shit as a dad (hide spoiler)] and quite refreshing. Apart from the strange trust they have in Blake, one of the boys who are convicted to do community-service hours at their facility (view spoiler)[There was something honorable about Blake, even if he was a bad boy. [...] 'Why did you beat up that guy?' 'You don't need to know.' His eyes grew hard the way the last time I asked.(hide spoiler)], they are a pretty normal set indeed.
In contrast to all those YA mermaid novels in which the teenaged heroine, who has been forcefully kept ignorant / out of the water / away from the ocean all her life, is suddenly surprised by her own behavior or her scaly lower body, Meena knows what she is and is more or less comfortable with her tail. Certainly there is the fear to be caught as well as a general unease, because no other species members are around to talk her through the specifics of mermaid biology and culture. She has been raised like a human, but she thinks she cannot leave her home or indulge in a normal relationship, because she gets physically ill, if she doesn't immerse herself in oceanic water about once a day. (view spoiler)[The solution is so ridiculously easy, though, that one cannot fail to wonder why Meena and her parents did not at least consider trying it out before two mermaids passing the town during their traditional 'swim-about' (Established to facilitate finding the mate for life a mermaid is meant to bond to - should you wonder) suggest it. (hide spoiler)]
All in all I liked Meena, who is able to telepathically converse with sea mammals. She has strange taste in men, obviously, but she is not completely speechless or demure and she manages to have the upper hand now and then. Her being different as an excuse for her chaste youth sounded pretty set up to me, though. Her relationship to her best friend Violet- who is about to depart to the college she wants to attend on Hawaii - was rather sweet. The scenes involving the dolphins Mitch and Jallia held a certain cuteness, too.
Well, these were all the aspects responsible for the additional star in my enjoyment-based rating. Let us by and by focus on what the book had to offer on top of that but what I failed to appreciate in a proper way:
It is not the book's fault that I do not like reformed bad boys and slimy jerks who taunt inexperienced, shy girls and cross lines in the holy name of sexiness. Boys who won't take a No for a No, because they 'read' the female body language, which infallibly broadcasts to them that she secretly wants the advances / the fumbling / the excitement / the unknown in spite of her feeble or furious protests. Other readers love them.
It's not the book's fault that a minor who reached his praised state of sexual finesse and cocky self-confidence by being literally whored out by his financially successful dad to his clients' daughters or female associates creeps me rather out instead of turning me on. Other readers feel the hotness.
It's not the book's fault that a french mother and some randomly whispered sweet nothings about dreams and lips and beauty in French (view spoiler)[What is the reason for speaking in a foreign language to someone who does not understand it, huh?! (hide spoiler)] do not activate my wobbly-knees-mode as required. Other readers melt.
It's not the book's fault that I just cannot take another young hero who accidentally swims in his own money, can promise his present arm candy to show her the world and more, shove diamonds on her fingers and buy for her crumbling family business a better corporate design / building / website without noticing the dent in his purse and is able to interrupt his plans for his education in order to accommodate his newly found bliss with his geographically-challenged love. Other readers know 'Solvent is sexy'.
It's not the book's fault that I abhor books that include magically evoked shackles that lead to eternal 'love' a.k.a. the need to stay next to each other forever, unbreakable co-dependence and an excuse for teenage couples to play house, talk of marriage and kids. I criticized a comparable concept in the also self-published mermaid novel 'Everblue' and I felt sick seeing it used in 'Flukes' - although I should mention that the heroine does fret and apologize for unknowingly having reduced the hero to permanently craving her and her only. Other readers wish those tattoos swirled around their own wrists.
It's not the book's fault that I still expect the heroines and heroes of a New Adult Romance to have started a phase that is different from their former lives at their parents' houses. That I want them to be at least at college - preferably not just entering it - or even better trying to survive their first real job, their first real flatmate or their first real attempt at shacking in with a boyfriend. Meena has just finished High School and plans to stay at home to work at her parents' zoo. Her experience and her frame of mind could also be those of a cute and naive freshman. I do not understand why 'Flukes' is not being marketed as what is is: A paranormal YA romance 'enhanced' with cotton-candy-flavored sex (view spoiler)[that has the heroine reaching her 'finish-line' right along her lover's during her very first time and that requires a condom only before the couple knows that they are mated for life (hide spoiler)]. If the cover had said 'Proud to Present Teenagers as Sexual Beings" I would have applauded and ordered a bumper sticker, honestly. Other readers want their Young Adult literature 'clean'.
It is not the book's fault that the piece of evil evil that eventually befalls the heroine in and out of the water did not convince me as fitting the storyline smoothly. Picky me just cannot accept a fine chunk of dangerous action as it it, but has to poke and prod and complain and roll her eyes before nibbling at the crust. Other readers need to see there are bad boys and really, really bad boys in this world.
I close this perusal with a quote that made me gag but others swoon: And that kiss ... it had made me think about skipping the beach and taking her straight back to my bed. But she wasn't the kind of girl you screw real quick. Meena was meant to be savored [...] Have you decided on which side of the fence you sit? Gag or swoon? Everything is possible. Take your time and consider. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I really liked Evie in volume one and was more than willing to overlook her flaws, for who wouldn't have any after suffering that strange, manipulatedI really liked Evie in volume one and was more than willing to overlook her flaws, for who wouldn't have any after suffering that strange, manipulated and isolated upbringing.
But right after starting 'Supernaturally' I felt like screaming my guts out in annoyance. Intolerable, that girl, her whining, her utter dependence on her college-bound, immortal sweetheart, her sick gushing, her refusal to ignore all warnings and her determination to happily march into desaster, her complete boringness.
Oh my Goodness, this mercreature romance with the tasteless cover I generously planned to overlook is so not my book. I can tell just after having beeOh my Goodness, this mercreature romance with the tasteless cover I generously planned to overlook is so not my book. I can tell just after having been introduced to the two main characters:
- The water-fearing, whiny and naive daughter of a marina owner Erica, who has to learn the hard way that her ex-boyfriend really wasn't one of the good guys, when he forces her to dive for some criminally acquired diamonds, which he had hidden in her Grandpa's urn of ashes (which are now at the bottom of the sea), by shoving a mini-gun up her nostrils. - The merman prince with a human-girl-fixation and legs, who engages in guy conversations with his best friend Chum, a fish - Ariel, meet your male counterpart -, and bad-joke-enriched, gang-like territory fights with Vincent, the menacing, mean and well-worded shark with a taste for human sushi. Prince Reel knows human words like "Sweetheart", but he has not payed attention during anatomy class. He does not speak of breasts or boobs or tits. No. He gets excited over a fine pair of "shell-fillers" instead.
I got out of that pool before I drowned in unbelievability. Since that critical point had been reached almost immediately after testing the waters, I decided not to rate my reading experience.
I should have read the first chapter before ordering a used copy, but I never learn....more
'Get in.' He demanded. [...] I got in the car, against my better judgement, because I didn’t want to cause a scene. [...] 'You understand that I just'Get in.' He demanded. [...] I got in the car, against my better judgement, because I didn’t want to cause a scene. [...] 'You understand that I just met you, right?' 'Yes. You understand that the woman you were about to have lunch with is my aunt and she just disappeared in a matter of minutes, right? You understand that perhaps there is more going on than you could possibly comprehend, right? You understand that I am trying to get you home safe, right?' His blue eyes pierced me and my body felt numb. I did understand. I handed him my keys. 'My house is at 504 Briarwood Court.'
You like that? Good for you. To me this passage embodies everything I dislike about a certain type of paranormal young adult romance. And although I have read only 7% of the self-published mermaid novel, I can tell that I would label the whole package as unbearably awful. Therefore there is no sense in reading the remaining 93%.
If the 'teaser' above made you kind of excited, you might be pleased to hear that the story deals with a freshly graduated orphan called Seraphin, who has had water phobia since she went into the ocean against her father's explicit prohibition, which is somehow connected to her father's mysterious death. Rich Seraphin has lived for years Cinderella-style with a family friend, who resented her presence in the house. She made do with only one true friend, her biology teacher Ms. Z., who starts blathering about legends and merpeople and guardians and successions and prophecies out of the blue and right on graduation day. After Seraphin has laughingly established that she doesn't believe in mermaids, she witnesses said teacher-friend, who announces that she will have to leave town directly after lunch, to make the biology department's goldfishes do as she says using plain English to communicate at them. Just as Seraphin contemplates becoming a believer (Praised be Nemo!), Ms. Z's grumpy, shy and gorgeous nephew Joseph barges in, flickers his mesmerising eyes from ice to navy blue and back, stops himself from releasing a very secret secret and takes the first-I-have-to-pretend-to-hate-you role with aplomb. Phew! Just in time, because fifteen minutes later he needs to be the ill-tempered-and-tight-lipped-knight-in-shining-armor. Our friendless heroine of the later-to-be-revealed superior qualities is about to faint and cannot drive or think or walk and talk.
This marks the opening of the fantastic curtain: I am sure there will be a lot of mistrust and bickering and withholding of information. There will be fulfilments of prophecies that demand sacrifices of vast proportions to be made. And there will be goldfish lingo to be learned. In the end there will be peace and harmony in Earth’s oceans again. How inspiring! But alas, I cannot stay. You tell me, if I am right. But make it quick, okay?
Disclosure: I received a Smashwords Coupon from the author to download the e-book for free. ...more
Who doesn’t like mermaids? All right. A lot of people don’t. But maybe they cherish the idea of tiny folk leading their small but eventful lives unbekWho doesn’t like mermaids? All right. A lot of people don’t. But maybe they cherish the idea of tiny folk leading their small but eventful lives unbeknownst to our big, clumsy unobservant selves in our direct vicinity. Maybe they also used to speculate if Jill Barklem was right and one simply had to look for fragile whisps of smoke curling skywards among the brambles or blinks of candle-light flickering in the many folds of an ancient oak tree’s bark to find a well-to-do family of mice living in victorian style inside the trunk. I, for my part, desperately whished there was a Nils Karlsson-Däumling waiting inside a hole underneath my bed for a certain someone to donate her comfy dollhouse furniture to him, say “Killevipps", shrink temporarily to Thumbelina-size and join him to feast on a cookie crumb. And I would have welcomed any Borrower trying to nick stuff from my parents' messy household without hesitation.
Therefore this picture book featuring my favorite magical creatures as a seahorse-sized variation which evades the too loud observer piqued my interest as soon as I spotted the cover in the Netgalley picture book selection. I admit, I did not even read the description before requesting a review copy. If I had simply studied the title and the cover employing one or two of my precious brain cells more, I would have understood what The Tiptoe Guide to Tracking Mermaids’ aim is (which it fulfills quite beautifully): To turn a seemingly boring and dull future stroll along the seashore into an adventure, a quest for hidden mermaids or - to be more precise - a hunt for traces of their games, their businesses, their daily life: You have found these shiny things. And you think they are just a seashell? Think again! You’re holding a mermaid’s surfboard in your hands. Look closer and hold you breath: Maybe its owner is still hiding behind that little rock over there ... The illustrator used photographs of a boy and a girl and a sunny strip of beach and pasted drawings of round-bellied and spindly-armed, fully-clothed mermaids into them: The drawings are easily conceived as not being part of the photographs. They look cute and sassy, but not convincingly real to the adult me. They create no illusion of magic. I had to leaf a second time through my e-copy to feel the charm of the book, but I finally came to appreciate the message and also the uniqueness of the collage style. I guess I would always prefer a real story with characters who are introduced by their name and a distinguishable personality to a fauna-guide-style-feel-good-book that is suppose to trigger a child’s imagination by separate and anonymous scenes. And I am pretty sure my opinion would have been the same 30 years ago. But then I always had enough imagination. Activating something that is already running at full throttle seems to be a pretty silly endeavor anyway. But for any child who dreads being dragged across the dunes and sees only water and boring miles and miles of sand, the The Tiptoe Guide might indeed be the the perfect "eye-opener".
If this book was a muffin I would say that it contained too much topping and that it dripped with artificial aroma. If this book was a muffin I wouldIf this book was a muffin I would say that it contained too much topping and that it dripped with artificial aroma. If this book was a muffin I would be nauseated after swallowing 30% percent of it and I would be craving a simple scone after letting the rest drop into the bin. I do love muffins, but there has to be some dough besides all the fudge and the fruit and the icing. Do you know what I mean? If not, you are invited to read the rest of my review:
Between The Land And The Sea is a mermaid book. It starts with a prologue in which a surfer is saved from “an efficient eating machine, emotionless and methodical”, a vicious shark “on a lethal mission”, by a powerful, otherworldly beautiful mermaid and precedes to tell the story of Marina, a girl with “water in her eyes”, who spends her last year of school in a small town by the sea with her father’s sister and her cousin in order to catch up on the social experiences a normal teenager indulges in – like dances, romance and friendship. Before the school year has started Marina has become friends with the social outcasts of her grade – her cousin and his best friend –, a homeless lady, a mysterious Asian-looking fisherman with “ancient eyes” and Lorelai, a mermaid whose face mirrors her own on the dot, who speaks a language only Marina can understand, who calls her sister and who has not been detected by anyone yet in spite of her habit to frolic around with the sea lions under a tourist attraction ship wreck. In addition, the heroine is overcome by a severe case of instant attraction to the school’s top catch, surfer and gardener Ethan. Hunky Ethan falls backwards into a rosebush, when he first catches sight of Marina, and the oracle with the fishing rod mumbles “Very good match, Earth and Water,” concerning the heroine and her love interest. So, if I got this right after almost a third of the book, Marina has been conceived in a harbour (therefore her name), when her father was overcome by a mermaid’s inhuman screeches, whereas Ethan has to be the offspring of an earth-bound troll or garden gnome. His smell certainly backs up that theory.
So far, so good. This is sadly standard Young Adult Paranormal Romance and nothing to complain about. As a mermaid book lover I still might have enjoyed the story and the mercreature-related scenes to come. Even a muffin from the supermarket can melt on your tongue with the help of some Earl Grey. But there is that unfortunate case of topping overflow:
Marina’s Dad is a university professor who develops new kinds of crop - rice or wheat which thrives under bad weather and water conditions in less optimal soil. Marina has accompanied him all her life to the various countries where he researched and planted his stuff. Marina is supposed to be a girl who places family before a plush living, someone who knows the world and its customs, someone who recognizes from which part of Thailand a dish is and who bows, palms pressed respectfully together, saying ”Kob kun kup” when necessary. She is super-smart and super-educated: ”The private tutors I’d studied with had put me beyond American high school level in most areas. Traveling with my father was an education in itself, and I’d read so many classics that there wasn’t one textbook on the syllabus that I didn’t already know.” On top Marina excels in art, because she ”had taken art lessons at museums and galleries in the city” and has an art studio in her San Francisco apartment. The private tutors, the art studio and also the immediate effect a threat to contact her apparently well-known father had on her teachers made me wonder how much money an US university professor, who is into third world research, earns. German professors are surely well-fed, but I doubt that they could afford a San Francisco penthouse apartment next to a wealthy widow, who owns an underground car park full of vintage Rolls Royces, has her own chauffeur, spends her days shopping for designer clothes and financially boosts startup artists, designers and pop-stars. Said widow, former super-model Evie, is the artificial crutch that lets sophisticated and seemingly down-to-earth Marina be a rich kid without being rich herself: Every piece of cloth inside of Marina’s extensive wardrobe has been provided and chosen by “Aunt Evie”, who has an eye for fashion and never goes wrong. Marina’s father does not mind his neighbour spending hundred thousands of dollars on his daughter’s look. And Marina is now a best-dressed girl and fashion expert, who can entertain her new class mates with tales from the dressing room while laughingly denying to be loaded or snobbish. And when Marina mentions her desire to learn to surf, her personal tooth fairy sends two boards and a designer wetsuit. Because of being daily immersed in Gucci and Pucci Marina sees at one glance that her cousin Cruz has a glowing future in fashion design. And certainly it goes without saying that the other outsider Marina befriends, pudgy Megan of the gorgeous hair, is ”incredibly talented” in song-writing, has a voice that makes the heroine ”blink away tears” and needs to be introduced to Evie. I really thought that more talent and more specialness was not possible to integrate in such a small place as Aptos, but I was mistaken: Wise-eyed fisherman Lue Khang turned out to be a former CIA agent who had been working undercover in Vietnam. *Yuck*. My virtual teeth really hurt when biting on that final frosted violet on the plate. Too much is too much. The book had to go unfinished.
I deeply apologize to my brave and disciplined read-along buddy Teccc, who said that he came to hate Aunt Evie as the plot progressed, for persuading him to read the book with me. The next book will be better, Teccc. Promise.
And I thank the author, Derrolyn Anderson, for sending me a free Smashwords coupon in exchange for this honest review. ...more
Not really worth reviewing in my opinion. One thing was ridiculously noteworthy, though: The mermaids' tails are of the conveniently modest and young-Not really worth reviewing in my opinion. One thing was ridiculously noteworthy, though: The mermaids' tails are of the conveniently modest and young-adult-like clean sort: "By the time I had unclasped my bra and slipped out of my panties, I could feel the protective sheath of shimmering blue-green scales covering me from nipple to nipple and down across my belly to obscure my nudity." Ehhhh? I thought scales were part of the merfolk's nature and not a costume? How can they use their nipples for - let's say - feeding, if they are hidden under a "sheath of scales"? ...more