This was such a fun read- I absolutely loved it! Evie is sassy, feisty, fun, kind, and quirky. Some of her comments had me snickering out loud a coupl...more This was such a fun read- I absolutely loved it! Evie is sassy, feisty, fun, kind, and quirky. Some of her comments had me snickering out loud a couple of times. Sometimes I was reminded of the tv series Buffy- witty comebacks served with an ass-kicking - never underestimate the pretty teenage blonde girl! Evie works for the Paranormal Containment Agency, and her day consists of tagging paranormals with ankle trackers- vampires, werewolves, hags and the type using her pink, taser "tasey". In her spare time she hangs out with her mermaid best friend watching her favourite tv show, and trying to avoid her posessive faerie ex-boyfriend. This story had laughs, excitement, action, paranormals, prophecies and a sweet love story. It was well paced, emotional, funny and romantic, with a very clever demon-hunting premise which I loved. (less)
In ancient Greek myths there are creatures called Sirens- beautiful mermaids whose singing lures sailors onto the rocks and drowns all the sailors abo...moreIn ancient Greek myths there are creatures called Sirens- beautiful mermaids whose singing lures sailors onto the rocks and drowns all the sailors aboard. No-one before has ever asked why they do this. What is a siren's motivation for luring people on ships to their deaths? Even today, fishing boats mysteriously disappear, or ships crash into rocks despite experienced captains on board. What happened to them? 'Lost Voices' begins to answer this with a story about a group of young girls who have been wronged or harmed in one way or another by mankind, left for dead and transformed into mermaids. Believing that all people are essentially bad and deserve to die they use their powerful and hypnotising voices to sing the ships onto the rocks, or sing people into the water where they drown. I was attracted to this book because it looked like an interesting twist to the mermaid genre and an angle that I had never really considered before. I've read a few mermaid stories for the YA market lately and have really enjoyed them- but this was just ok. Once the girls were mermaids and had sunk a couple of ships I did think "where is this story going". I was only half-way through and felt that there couldn't be much more to tell, surely? But the author keeps telling the background stories of other girls, and creates a conflict and power struggle between the tribe of mermaids. It became more of a story about how a group of young girls can become quite bitchy, and manipulative, and form into cliques. The writing was quite haunting and mystical and sometimes felt like being in a dream. You can almost feel the cold salty greyness of the sea, but it also had that disjointed feel that dreams have, slipping about all over the place, and a bit disconnected at times. The ending was very abrupt and felt like it had no resolution, and was sorely missing- something. Luce occupies her time by practicing her singing, and in training her voice she discovers new powers of controlling the sea and ways to manipulate the human's emotions, to make it easier for them. She does want to use her voice to help people if she can- even if all that means she can do is to make people feel at peace when they die, or make it less traumatic. I love the description of the power of the singing voices, the way it is described as a caress or like tendrils creeping into people's minds and affecting the way they make people think and feel. Some of the girls' voices are cruel, and some, like Luce's are more tender. The singing can be shaped and moulded and controlled. (quote) They were all caught in the exaltation of their own voices, mad with the joy of power. She felt a rush of compassion for all the girls singing now: after all, they'd spent their human lives being so utterly helpless; how could they fail to be delighted by their ability to dominate anyone who heard them?
After sinking the ships Luce begins to question the life she has fallen into, and wants to do what feels right to her- even if that means trying to protect some of the humans. (quote) "I just..." Luce didn't know how to say it. "I feel like maybe we could figure out another way? I know they do all kinds of terrible things..." But so do we, Luce thought. A bizarre, unwelcome idea occurred to her: that mermaids were really just as human, just as brutal and destructive as the humans themselves.
Overall, I loved the idea behind the plotline, but just felt that it didn't really promise anything or lead anywhere. I'm not really sure how I feel at the end of this book- whether I'm saddened by all the events that have happened or elated at the prospect of hope. There is no real resolution to any of the problems in the girls' lives, and still so many unanswered questions.
ARC thanks to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishers and netgalley.com(less)
Book 2 in the Fins series This book is corny and cutesy and full of cheesy sea-based humour- but I LOVE it! These books are so much fun, and I always h...moreBook 2 in the Fins series This book is corny and cutesy and full of cheesy sea-based humour- but I LOVE it! These books are so much fun, and I always have a smirk on my face while reading them. Lily Sanderson is a half human and half mermaid princess- raised underwater but spending time on land with her human aunt, and attending high school. She has made the decision to renounce her title and give up the throne of Thalassinia, and live permanently on the land. This means studying hard to catch up at school and doing well on her SATs, so that she can go to college. But a visiting mer cousin is determined to cause trouble and makes things as difficult for her as possible. I loved reading this book for the charming story, but also for the characters in it as well- Lily is so funny, and a whirlwind of chaos as wild as her hair, and boyfriend Quince is quirky and lovely, and really supportive of her. In this book we also have Lily's spiteful cousin Dosinia making things really interesting, and throwing everything into confusion for Lily. Lily never shies away from her responsibility though and takes on the difficult task of teaching her cousin some humanity. However, Doe only wants to cause trouble and involves Lily's old crush Brody in her schemes. Lily loves Quince and is so torn between her desire to stay on land, and her duty to her kingdom, especially when her old friend and a prince from a neighbouring kingdom returns and Lily finds out that things in the kingdom are not as perfect as they seem. These books aren't very long and I read this one and the previous one in one sitting, but they are little gems- very sweet, cute and imaginative. There's nothing on Amazon yet, but there's going to be another book, right?- RIGHT??!!(less)
It's not spoiling the theme of this book if I say that this book is about sirens (the supernatural beautiful women who lure men into the sea, not the...moreIt's not spoiling the theme of this book if I say that this book is about sirens (the supernatural beautiful women who lure men into the sea, not the noise on a police car!). You can probably guess this from the cover and the title. This makes quite a refreshing change from some of the usual themes of YA paranoramal romance novels. We are slowly drawn into this mystery story as men start mysteriously drowning, and are found washed up with a big smile on their face. Vanessa has to learn who she can trust and discover that not everyone in the small seaside village is what they seem...
The cover is creepy, but it really matches the tone of the story. The writing is haunting and sometimes dreamlike. The description of the place also pulls you into this vivid setting- this beautiful seaside town- and draws you into the tragedy of pain of the loss of her sister. But Vanessa is such a wonderful character, instantly likeable, timid and vulnerable, and you really feel right there with her through everything. Her insecurities made her endearing, and her character and her sisters' really complemented each other. Vanessa has to adapt and learn to cope alone, and it's wonderful to see her grow into somebody stronger, braver and capable. Some of the flashbacks into the past show us hints of Vanessa's memories and the deeper connection between Vanessa and Justine.
I liked the main characters in Siren. The sisters have been childhood friends with brothers Simon and Caleb for many years. I liked that the nerdy guy gets the girl (again, this isn't a spoiler this happens near the beginning). Simon is warm and kind and such a caring sweetheart. Okay- so he occasionally wants to interrupt their date to take tide measurements, but I still really liked him! Simon is very sweet and protective and romantic, and I liked the slow building of their relationship, their initial uncertainty around each other. Again, this made a nice change from reading about childhood nice-guy best friends who are ignored in favour of the new bad-boy in town. Hooray for the geeks! Simon has a great relationship with his brother Caleb that was lovely to read, and these good sibling relationships contrast with Vanessa's friend Paige and her sister. There are many quirky characters in this small town, and Vanessa and Simon work together to uncover secrets about them from the past.
My only complaint is that the storyline seems to jump around occasionally, just hopping from place to place and some things happen with no explanation- events are just implied. Also the mythology of the sirens is never really explained (perhaps it will be further explored in the next book). But other than that I liked it. There is drama, action, mystery and romance, and some unexpected twists and surprises- all mixed up together in a story with a lot of heart. This book is very unique, very spooky and atmospheric, and a good read. There are still some unanswered questions by the end of the book, and although this book could stand alone fine, I'm glad that this tale will continue, and we can read more about these characters and their lives again.(less)
Aaah! Ms Houck, what are you doing to me??!! In Tiger's Quest you broke my heart, and in Tiger's Voyage you've squeezed it, stomped on it, and put it...moreAaah! Ms Houck, what are you doing to me??!! In Tiger's Quest you broke my heart, and in Tiger's Voyage you've squeezed it, stomped on it, and put it through a meat grinder!! To say that this book is emotional is a gross understatement. It is really REALLY emotional. And moving, heart-warming, heart-breaking, action-packed... and wonderful. I just love this series, these characters and their adventures together. The bonds between them all are complex and powerful, and I want to live in this story all the time. In book 1 Kelsey and cursed Indian prince Ren, set off on a quest to try to break the curse and let Ren be mortal and a man. In book 2, Kelsey and Kishan have to complete a quest together, and each time they have returned, the curse is lifted a little more, giving Ren and Kishan more hours of the day free of their tiger forms. Tiger's Voyage- book 3 in the series, continues on this same vein of adventure, and mystical places and creatures, while keeping up the same standard of beautiful writing, attention to detail, and vivid descriptions of setting and place. This time, their quest is on and under the ocean, where they must meet and outsmart five dragons, and the challenges they face are more dangerous and difficult than ever. This is definitely a beautifully complex quest story- the way all fantasy books should be- with added magic and mythical creatures, but in such a way that it feels real. Just the beauty of the places that they travel to and the stories and legends behind them, makes it feel like what they see could really happen. To start with, Kelsey is just an ordinary young woman from Oregon, but transplanted into this new mystical place amongst centuries old cursed tiger/princes, she grows into this courageous and powerful person. On top of everything that they have to accomplish to complete their newest quest is the turmoil of the mixed feelings that Kelsey has for the two brothers, her tigers. She loves them both, and can't imagine her life without either of them, but with Ren's memory of Kelsey gone because of Lokesh's torture, it is Kishan that Kelsey starts to grow closer to. Added to this drama of the confusion of her love life, is the threat of seriously evil bad-guy Lokesh hunting them. He wants the power of their amulets, but also sees potential in Kelsey, firstly as a way to hurt Ren, and secondly as a powerful mother to his future heir. The story goes through so many changes, and you can never be sure of a smooth outcome for them. These books make me laugh and cry, with a heart pounding adventure, and real character driven plotlines. And heartbreak (did I mention the heartbreak already?). I love the way that these books really stir up all my emotions and make me feel so strongly for these characters. I just love these books, these people and these beautiful stories so much. Seriously, if you haven't already- go and read this series!(less)
This is a book with a boy narrator, a curse, evil murderous mermaids, and the creepy ethereal setting of Lake Superior. It's got betrayals, families,...moreThis is a book with a boy narrator, a curse, evil murderous mermaids, and the creepy ethereal setting of Lake Superior. It's got betrayals, families, and a love story between characters that are odd but so likable. I liked that it was told from Calder's point of view, as a male perspective made a nice change in the YA paranormal genre. Calder White is a merman who tries to live his life independently of his family, but is compelled back to his home- Lake Superior by a strong pull to be near the lake, and by family allegiances. These mermaids are seriously creepy- they love to hunt and kill and feed off of people's emotions- off of their happiness and life energy. Calder has a litte more humanity than the others because he is a created merman, and not born to it like his adopted sisters, who take pleasure out of killing for fun. They are cruel and pretty brutal. They are out to get Jason Hancock because of a broken promise from decades ago, and they are determined to collect their debt by killing him- or any members of his family. They come up with a long-term plot to get close to him through his daughters and lure him onto the lake so that they can finish him off and finally get their long-awaited revenge. Calder is tasked with getting the eldest daughter Lily to trust him and to get close to the family. But his job becomes more difficult as he actually grows to really like Lily. I loved the setting of Lake Superior, as it's described as such a beautiful but deadly place, and there is a well-told saying "Lake Superior doesn't give up it's dead" which is said by different characters throughout the book, and which has particular significance to the mermaids who can get away with their crimes. It has a very unearthly vibe to it, and it was fascinating to see Calder explore all the old wrecks at the bottom of the lakes in places where divers couldn't reach. This was an engaging and fun read, with a love story that developed and grew on me. I liked Lily's quirky, geeky personality, and Calder's mad evil sisters! The mythology was a very different and refreshing take on mermaid/ siren lore, and I liked the history of the Hancock curse as well. It wasn't as dark as I was expecting, and it is a tad predictable but I enjoyed it.
Thankyou to Random House and Netgalley for the review copy. (less)
I already knew E.J Steven's writing from the funny and sweet Spirit Guide series, and this new series has the same wonderful fast paced plotline and f...moreI already knew E.J Steven's writing from the funny and sweet Spirit Guide series, and this new series has the same wonderful fast paced plotline and fun quirky characters. I really enjoyed this book- packed with magic, secrets, and a dramatic action-packed battle against good and evil, all told with an undercurrent of wry humour.
Ivy is a great tough-as-nails heroine, who has had to cut herself off from people because of her abilty to get visions of traumatic experiences just from touching a person or an object- even food wrappers or telephones. She wears a permament growl on her face to avoid people accidentally knocking into her.
But along with her understanding and friendly best friend and roomate Jinx (the unluckiest girl in the world) she has set up a psychic detective business to help people find lost possessions- and to just pay the rent. The friendship between these two is great and they love each other like sisters, even though they are so different.
Because they struggle most weeks to make ends meet they usually accept any client that walks in the door- but Ivy is especially wary when demon lawyer Forneus strolls in wanting her help. However, as it looks like a deadly band of water creatures is threatening not only the kelpies that Forneus represents but the whole of Harborsmouth Ivy has no choice but to take the job and do what she can to save the town. And can she convince the local vampires to join her side?
There is a whole spectrum of supernatural creatures in this book from faeries and water kelpies to vampires, demons and a unicorn. One of Ivy's best friends is a bridge troll. I liked this sense of never knowing what to expect and being surprised by creatures that you wouldn't expect to be Ivy's ally.
Ivy reaches out to her old friend Kaye, a powerful witch, who runs Madame Kaye's Magic Emporium to help with the research, and also contacts the local priest to help with dealing with the demon. The characters are the best part of the story, as they are each unique, endearing and odd in their own way. You can't help but love them all- for example Kaye's grumpy kitchen brownie Hob- who is obsessed with cleaning but is always concerned about Ivy's health.
This is the first book in what looks to be the start of an interesting and kooky new series- there is definitely more to tell, now that the world of Harborsmouth is established and the lovable band of Ivy, Jinx, Kaye, Hob and co. are brought closer together. I'd be interested to see what adventures they can get themselves into next. (less)
Tiger Lily is a brilliantly imaginative re-working of the Peter Pan story, showing a love story between Peter and Tiger Lily before Wendy came into th...moreTiger Lily is a brilliantly imaginative re-working of the Peter Pan story, showing a love story between Peter and Tiger Lily before Wendy came into the picture, and telling us a different version of the original tale. It focuses on Tiger Lily's life with the tribe, and the links between all the different characters.
It is also told from Tink the fairy's point of view, as she spies from various perspectives on her favourite personalities like we might watch soap operas unfolding, and this gives a unique edge to the narration. It gives us an insight into different aspects of the island and the characters on it.
The whole book feels full of magic and possibility, but there are dark patches as well, and it's not a light and easy read. There is a subtle undercurrent of menace all the way through- with the pirates scheming and the murderous mermaids, not to mention Tiger Lily's pending arranged marriage with a nasty brute of a man. I liked the magic and the sense of suspense as we are led through this doomed forbidden romance, and the beautifully and richly described land of Neverland.
Reading about Captain Hook, the mermaids and Tiger lily, and all these half- remembered characters from my childhood has made me want to re-visit J.M Barrie's original story (or at least watch the Disney film again), as it felt so new and vaguely familiar all at the same time.
Tiger Lily herself is a feisty and strong young woman- which is not a quality which is admired in her tribe. She gets a reputation for being cursed, and being bad luck (which she plays up by wearing crows feathers in her hair), and although she is independent and brave, she is also very lonely. Normally it takes a lot for her to open her heart up to anybody except her adoptive father, so it takes a while for Peter to break down her barriers.
Although Peter Pan himself doesn't came out as a very great character in this version of the story, I liked the telling of it, and that the emphasis was on alternative characters. One of my favourite characters has to be Tiger Lily's cross-dressing adoptive father -the shaman of the village Tik Tok. He always made me smile, and I also loved her sweet best friend Pine Sap. His devotion to Tiger Lily is so endearing. I really loved to hate the mean-spirited character of Aunt Fire who seems determined to make Tiger Lily suffer.
All in all, the book is a clever, mesmerising read, and I would describe it as a fantasy story but with the feel of a contemporary. It's moving and sad in places, heart-warming and magical in others, but it has definitely left a stamp on me. It's a bleaker story than I was expecting to read but just beautifully lyrical in the telling, and heart-breakingly tender. (less)