Review: No Place Like Oz by Danielle Paige and Men Who Wish to Drown by Elizabeth Fama

Title: No Place Like Oz

Author: Danielle Paige

Publishing Information: November 12th 2013 by HarperCollins

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling

Series Information: Dorothy Must Die 0.5

Format: eBook 196 pages

Source: Bought for my personal library

Recommended For: Readers who are not complete Oz enthusiasts like myself.

I picked up No Place Like Oz because I am a HUGE Wizard of Oz fan. I actually collect different editions of the novels as well as anything else Oz related. Perhaps that is why I had such a hard time with this novel, I wanted to get a glimpse of the world to see what Danielle Paige was working with and I don’t know how to feel about it. On one hand there were some aspects that were reminiscent of Baum’s Oz, and those parts I really loved, the imagery could have been taken directly out of the original novels. Unfortunately, there were so many aspects of the novel that had me rolling my eyes. I didn’t like Dorothy, and not in the “she’s the villain and we aren’t supposed to like her” way, but I found her incredibly annoying. Though the idea behind this series is a really great concept, I was not enthralled while reading. Instead I found that I just wanted it to be over, and it didn’t make me excited to read the upcoming novel at all. How disappointing. Continue reading

Review: Of Neptune and The Syrena Legacy novellas by Anna Banks

Back for some mini (spoiler free) reviews! I always find that novellas help me to determine whether or not I would be interested in a series so here a little taste for you guys to decide whether or not to give The Syrena Legacy a chance!

Title: The Stranger

Author: Anna Banks

Publishing Information: June 18th 2013 by Tor

Genre: Young Adult, Mermaids, Romance, Fantasy

Series Information: Novella 0.4 in the Syrena Legacy

Format: ebook, 32 pages

Source: Available for free on

Recommended For: Readers interested in “dipping their toes” (hehe) into this series, or fans of the series who want to learn a little bit more about Galen and Rachel’s relationship!

I loved this novella! It was adorable seeing Galen when he was little and it was so endearing to see how the bond between Galen and Rachel began. Definitely give this a shot if you are unsure of the series but want to get a feel for the characters. Rachel is absolutely hilarious in her no nonsense way, I loved learning more about her. Continue reading

Review: Of Triton by Anna Banks

oftritonTitle: Of Triton

Author: Anna Banks

Publishing Information: May 28, 2013 by Feiwel & Friends

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Mermaids, Romance, Mythology

Series information: Book 2 in the Of Poseidon series – read my review of Of Poseidon

Format: Hardcover, 336 pages

Source: Received an ARC from the publisher via Netgalley

Recommended For: Those looking for an exciting novel filled with swoony mermen, romance, and non-stop action

Of Triton picks up where Of Poseidon left off, on the edge of a cliffhanger. There is much to be done to right a history of wrongs by the main characters in this novel and I don’t want to spoil either book in the series for you but just know that Of Triton includes a lot of glorious scenes in the water, where Galen is right at home. The romance is aplenty for more than one couple and the reader gains more insight into quite a few characters in this sequel, and that was what stole the show for me.

Emma left me a bit conflicted in Of Triton. On one hand, I loved how much of a BAMF she was and her new found abilities were pretty spectacular (aka I WANTS THEM), but on the other hand I had a hard time with how whiney she was. The complications involving her mother and her involvement with the Syrena brought about many emotions from Emma. Most of which I completely appreciated and understood, however there were moments where I was jolted out of the story because her demeanor toward her mother and others just seemed childish and out of character for someone so strong willed. For the most part, though, Emma represented herself as a strong female that I had no trouble standing behind. Though she was a simple human standing (swimming?) among fantastical creatures, she stood on her own in a really magnificent way. Galen really doesn’t need any explanation as he is just as swoon worthy and charming as he was in Of Poseidon. Now Toraf, oh, Toraf, how do I love thee? Toraf and Rayna were absolutely captivating in Of Triton. Those of you who read Of Poseidon know how, hmm what’s the word…passionate Rayna is. Mix that with Toraf’s strong demeanor and you really have a fabulous couple worth watching. Though I enjoyed Galen and Emma, I would really love to read more of Toraf and Rayna.

As for secondary characters, Emma’s mother was enjoyable and we are able to see where Emma gets her stubbornness and fiery characteristics. I also LOVED Emma’s grandfather; his devotion to his family was really very endearing and had me smiling on more than one occasion. All of those wonderful things being said, if someone stole the show for me in Of Triton it was without a doubt Rachel. Rachel is smart, witty, loving, and definitely ruthless. I adored that we got to see more of her in this novel and I really appreciated how much she cared about Galen and the others.

Though Of Triton was significantly shorter than Of Poseidon, it was filled with a bit more action. Where Of Poseidon focused on the laws of the Syrena and the background of the characters, Of Triton is definitely more about living in the moment and fighting for what is important. I enjoyed the history of the first book but I really appreciated how the reader gets to see Galen in his own world, in the water, fighting his own internal and external conflicts.

Overall Of Triton was an enjoyable and entertaining read. I can’t say that Ms. Banks leaves us with as big of a cliffhanger as she does at the end of Of Poseidon, but in lieu of that she leaves us with some bittersweet heartbreak. That really sealed my enjoyment of the series, and personally I can’t wait to read the conclusion of the trilogy.

Review: Deep Betrayal by Anne Greenwood Brown

12912519Title: Deep Betrayal

Author: Anne Greenwood Brown

Publishing Information: March 12th 2013 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Fairytale

Series information: Book 2 in the Lies Beneath series

Format: Hardcover, 352 pages

Source: Received an ARC from the publisher via Netgalley

Recommended For: Fans looking for a romantic and mysterious tale about mermaids and the importance of family relationships.

Deep Betrayal begins where Lies Beneath left off, with Lily counting the days (and hours, and minutes) since Calder has been gone. She is doing her best to move on without him but can’t completely shake his memory. As time passes, Calder returns to her and together they confront Lily’s father with his family secret. Jason freaks out a bit (within reason) and Calder does his best to teach him the ropes, so to speak. The conflict here is that “Lily and Calder time” is now being lessened due to his spending time with her father and there are bodies piling up all over the place. Obviously Calder and Lily believe that his sisters are to blame but they deny their involvement and things continue to become even stranger. On top of family, relationship, and community crises, Lily starts to discover that she has her own changes taking place, changes that may alter her life completely.

I really loved the mermaid lore in this one, most mermaid novels are focusing on Poseidon or Triton – and I’m not complaining because that is something I also love, but Deep Betrayal went a different way. Anne Greenwood Brown goes a different route in that she uses the lore of Maighdean Mara as the all mighty of mermaids, and Calder and Lily must uncover secrets about this thought to be fabled being in order to find out who is behind the murders throughout their community. I am a lover of lore of all kinds so I did my best to research a bit about Maighdean Mara and I was really unable to find any information with the exception of one source that states one mermaid tale that tells of a woman named Li Ban who survived the drowning of her entire family. In doing so she demanded (not sure who she demanded this of) that she be turned into a salmon and her dog be turned into an otter so that they could live together in the sea. Other sources are literally translating Mhaighdean Mhara to “The Sea Maiden” or simply, “mermaid,”  and telling the tale of a selkie whose skin was stolen so that she was forced to stay on land and marry a mortal, this is a common Celtic story that I have heard variations of many times. I honestly may be looking too far into this but I was thrilled to find a bit of folklore in this novel and it was fun doing some additional research!

I did enjoy Lies Beneath, but I found Deep Betrayal to be significantly more entertaining and mysterious. I loved that the point of view was from Lily’s perspective and I thoroughly enjoyed her relationship with Calder. It was quite a bit more smoldery than book one which I of course loved (Calder has green eyes and broods on a daily basis), and on top of those yummy moments the reader gained a bit more of an understanding of their relationship and why they work as individuals without being confused over the merman/human dynamic. I was able to appreciate their relationship throughout the novel, from the petty fights and quick makeups to their irrevocable mindset that they needed one another beyond all else. I especially loved how Lily didn’t pine a la Bella Swan, she missed Calder but she didn’t let it take over her life. I also adored, I’ll say it again, adored the ending to this novel. I did see parts of it coming but things happened in just the way I wanted them to and I am undeniably pleased at how things turned out. That being said, I do wish that we heard more from Calder’s sisters but I am hoping that they all come together in book three.

Deep Betrayal was a beautiful novel, it complimented the first book in the series while also standing strongly on its own. The characters were mysterious, heartfelt and expressive and I can’t wait to see where they go in the final installment.

Review: Waking Storms by Sarah Porter

waking stormsTitle: Waking Storms

Author: Sarah Porter

Publishing Information: July 3, 2012 by Harcourt Children’s

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Mermaids, Romance, Mythology

Series information: Book 2 in the Lost Voices series

Format: Hardcover, 400 pages

Source: Borrowed from my local library

Recommended For: Lovers of mermaid stories

After parting ways with her troubled mermaid tribe, Luce just wants to live peacefully on her own. But her tranquility doesn’t last long: she receives news that the tribe is on the verge of collapse and desperately needs her leadership. The tribe’s cruel queen wants Luce dead. Dorian, the boy Luce broke mermaid law to save, is determined to make her pay for her part in the murder of his family. And while the mermaids cling to the idea that humans never suspect their existence, there are suddenly ominous signs to the contrary. But when Luce and Dorian meet, they start to wonder if love can overpower the hatred they know they should feel for each other. Can Luce fulfill her rightful role as queen of the mermaids without sacrificing her forbidden romance with Dorian? 

It is impossible for me to write this review without getting a little spoilery so prior to dropping any bombs I am going to prepare you so that if you want to read them you can just highlight to view and if not, you can skip right over them!

Disappointed. If I had to describe my feelings for Waking Storms in one word, that is what it would be: disappointed. Remember all of those things I said about Lost Voices? How wonderful and different it was that the author had zero focus on romantic relationships but focused instead on friendships and character growth? Pretend it never happened. I can’t say that there wasn’t character growth, because there was and it was one of the few reasons I continued reading this book and didn’t mark it as unfinished and as always Porter’s work is descriptive and lyrical, it was not hard to imagine myself deep in the ocean or on a beautiful secluded beach while reading.

I believe it was the drastic changes between book one and two that initially turned me off to Waking Storms, there were many things that didn’t sit well with me. One change between book one and two is the difference in point of view. While reading book one we stayed in Luce’s head, seeing the story from her side alone. This novel follows multiple characters and their point of view and therefore opens up the story so that the reader can get a glimpse into what is happening on land. I would have really enjoyed this change but I couldn’t stand Dorian and half of the book followed his thoughts and experiences. Yes, I can see that he is a teenage boy, and sharing his name with a famous Oscar Wilde character who is obsessed with himself wasn’t lost on me. I’ll admit that I might have even been a bit biased while reading this because I was struggling so hard against the romance that I didn’t like Dorian from the beginning. However, as a reader who experienced Luce almost get raped by her uncle in book one, it was hard for me to appreciate how she was throwing herself emotionally and physically at another male character! I can’t imagine that had I nearly died after almost being raped I would “fall in love” with the next guy I saw and imagined what it would be like to be on land so we could, you know, consummate the relationship!  Not to mention that it wasn’t just teenage romance…it was longing and caressing and frankly made me feel uncomfortable while I was reading since they were both fourteen! Mostly, I hated the way that Luce fell apart when she was around Dorian. In the water she is a strong mermaid queen and “hell hath no fury” and then soon after she is pining for a boy! Honestly in retrospect it felt like that is exactly how the story went: Luce is strong in the water and shows her power in her voice and mind, next scene, Luce is weak and sitting on a beach with Dorian and then? Back to the water! 
Now for a bit more confusion and rage…



I am a little confused as to what the heck was going on with Luce’s father? I love a father daughter relationship but honestly what was he doing on that island? Why was he hearing voices? HOW WAS SHE ABLE TO FIND HIM AND SWIM HIM ACROSS THE WORLD TO SAFETY?! I know there is a third book coming so I am sure we will have all of these questions explained but when I am reading I prefer to be intrigued and not completely confused over a plot point.

Then the ending? I really cannot fathom why that gore was an addition to the story, it was completely out of place. I read horror novels, I am not scared of violence or gore but I was completely thrown off and disgusted while reading this lyrical novel when the ending came. It seemed like an afterthought that could have been taken out completely. The author does have a knack for description, it’s one of the things I really enjoyed while reading book one, however in using this gift to describe a murder scene made me feel really unbalanced and it didn’t sit well with the rest of the novel.


I will say that I loved the beauty and descriptions of this story, I loved the secondary character found in Nausicaa and I really loved the explanation of the origin of the mermaids. I won’t spoil it for you but it was a nice addition that I really liked. Sarah Porter went a completely different way with book two and I am sorry to say that it didn’t work for me, I will not be back for book number three in this series though for those of you still interested, from the end of Waking Storms it seems like Luce has finally found her voice and she may surprise us all. Here’s hoping.

Review: Of Poseidon by Anna Banks

of poseidonTitle: Of Poseidon

Author: Anna Banks

Publishing Information: May 22, 2012 by Feiwel & Friends

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Mermaids, Romance, Mythology

Series information: Book 1 in the Of Poseidon series

Format: Hardcover, 336 pages

Source: Borrowed from my local library

Recommended For: Those looking for a new mermaid tale with a mix of mythology

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 . . (Via Goodreads)

I’ll be honest I was wary. I was wary to begin yet another mermaid story and prepared myself to again be vastly underwhelmed and outright frustrated at the lack of depth (see what I did there) and intrigue. Thankfully, Of Poseidon was different from any other mermaid novel I have ever read. Where others fell short, Of Poseidon delivered.

I had strong feelings toward the characters of this novel. At first I really didn’t enjoy Emma, she annoyed me, and I physically cringed every time she said “ohmysweetgoodness,” but overall I really enjoyed how she grew as a character. I felt the same way about Galen as I did about Emma, annoyed. I had a hard time falling for him and really found him to be arrogant. However, once the relationship between Emma and Galen developed, I found myself falling for Galen as if we had our own mystical ties! I did not enjoy Emma and Galen’s relationship at first. Like Noah and Mara in The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer I found it really grating how Emma focused so much on her dislike for Galen and then in a moment she would be hoping to kiss him. Also? At one point he is described as having “serial killer eyes,” ummm…come again? It was descriptions like that throughout the novel that brought me to a halting stop while reading. I adored Toraf and Rayna, though I was conflicted by their relationship and can completely understand why some readers loathed how it progressed. In the end, I really enjoyed their relationship and found them to be a very sweet and honest couple. To be honest, I think I may like Toraf even more than Galen!

As many have commented on before, the changing point of view throughout the novel really bothered me. This is something that doesn’t usually affect me and I usually have no problem switching my brain back and forth between multiple points of view or picking up on who the current narrator is. This time, however, the narrators changed from first person to third person and it took me a few seconds to fall back into the story as the chapters changed.

It was the plot of Of Poseidon that I really fell in love with, the mermaid lore was exquisitely written and I was really impressed by the way Anna Banks wrote the struggle between the houses Of Poseidon and Triton. The lore surrounding these houses was so interesting that I found myself wishing for more background information about the whole culture. I was fascinated in the way Banks provided in depth details about the characters of both houses and how she made it apparent that their struggle was both on a political and personal level. Additionally, there aren’t many books that catch me by surprise nowadays and this one ended on a pretty unbelievable cliffhanger. I had that moment of wanting to throw the book against the wall because though I had an inkling, the ending was so unfathomable that it still took me by surprise. Well done, Anna Banks, thank you for providing me with a book that gave me a new hope for mermaid books everywhere. I am anxiously awaiting Of Triton, summer of 2013. EEP!


Review: Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Title: Tiger Lily

Author: Jodi Lynn Anderson

Publishing Information: July 3, 2012 by Harper Collin’s Childrens

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Fairy Tales, Romance, Retellings

Series information: Standalone

Format: Hardcover, 292 pages

Source: Borrowed from my local library

Recommended For: Fans of strong heroines, Peter Pan and fairy tales

“Let me tell you something straight off. This is a love story, but not like any you’ve heard. The boy and girl are far from innocent. Dear lives are lost. And good doesn’t win. In some places, there is something ultimately good about endings. In Neverland, that is not the case…”

I have never been a huge fan of Peter Pan. I like the premise and sure, Hook is one of my favorite movies of all time but there were always pieces missing for me in the story. A few weeks ago I even listed Peter Pan as one of the characters I’d like to switch places with so that I could learn more about what’s going on inside his head. This might be why Tiger Lily called to me, though it also might be the fact that I never could stand Wendy and really longed to hear more about Peter before she came in and babied him. Thankfully, Tiger Lily was exactly what I needed in regards to Pan’s story. I have actually been struggling with this review because I found the book to be so brilliant that I haven’t been able to put into words how wonderful it truly is.

First, the characters: Tiger Lily is told not from her point of view, but from Tinker Bell’s. Tink (so named by Peter) does not belong to Peter; she is actually enamored by Tiger Lily and has watched Tiger Lily grow since she was just a baby. As Tiger Lily and Tink spend time with Peter, Tink does develop love for him as well but ultimately her loyalty lies with Tiger Lily and she does all she can to keep her safe from harm. One lovely thing about Tink is that as a faerie, she is able to “hear” people’s feelings. She can read their minds to some extent but more specifically she is able to hear their hearts and therefore understand their true feelings for situations. Tink describes this, “As a faerie, you can hear when something tugs at someone. It’s much like the sound of a low, deep note on a violin string.”

Tiger Lily is strong, daring and at times, heartless. The village shaman, Tik Tok, found her abandoned under a flower from which she gets her name. Tiger Lily is different from all members of the village. When the village girls scream and run from something they deem dangerous, Tiger Lily grabs her hatchet and runs toward the danger. She is quiet and contemplative and does not give herself completely to anyone, until she meets Peter.

Peter is a complicated character. He is brave on the exterior yet cries at night from his utter fear of the pirates and letting the lost boys down. He falls in love easily and acts before thinking in many circumstances. It is his openness, courage and devotion that Tiger Lily falls in love with.

The secondary characters were also written wonderfully. Tik Tok was rather unique as Jodi Lynn Anderson wrote him in a way that blurs the lines we are used to seeing. Tik Tok is a man, who dresses and acts like a woman. He is completely devoted to his craft and loves Tiger Lily as if she was his real daughter. Aunt Fire and her son, Giant were both grotesque characters and were written in a way that really made me loathe them as much as Tiger Lily did. Both Pine Sap and Moon Eye were lovely contrasts to Tiger Lily and I appreciated the way that they represented her connection to her village and a sort of grounding as she was falling for Peter more and more. To be honest, I sort of had a serious crush on Pine Sap from the beginning. He was the character who understood Tiger Lily like no one else, the perfect best friend.

Though the pirates played a significant part in the plot they weren’t really “on stage” that much but it was interesting to see Captain Hook portrayed as an aging drunkard and Smee as a rather sinister murderer.  Like the pirates, Wendy of course had a strong impact on the conclusion of the story. However, she was not a major character throughout the novel and I am glad of it. I did not love her, but I don’t believe we were meant to. She was childish and silly and was a wonderful presentation of everything Tiger Lily was lacking in her character. The duality was as vivid as day and night.

“Watch that boy,” she said. “You’re stronger in many ways, but that doesn’t mean he can’t take you apart.”

The Setting: Gorgeous and vivid, Jodi Lynn Anderson portrayed that forest as lush as I had imagined. The “cave” in which the lost boys lived was dank and was so described that I really felt as if I could smell the earth surrounding them. I found myself cringing away from the lagoon in my mind, wary of the carnivorous mermaids and longing to stand with Tiger Lily and Peter at the top of the mountain, looking out at the wild horses. There was one scene that really stuck out for me, in which Peter had the lost boys bring out their bedding and light the trees with candles. He told Tiger Lily they were sleeping in the trees because he thought she would enjoy it and I felt myself become giddy with excitement. Imagine how gorgeous it must have been and how amazing it would have felt to sleep in the trees by candlelight. Gorgeous all around.

The Story: Honestly I still don’t know how to write this. From page one I was taken by Tiger Lily and they way she was vastly different from those around her. I fell for Peter as she did, little by little she gave into him and let him into her heart. Through Tink’s eyes I was able to see how she couldn’t quite give enough and wasn’t exactly what Peter needed. There were times I was so frustrated with her and just wanted her to be what he needed her to be even though I knew it wasn’t her, I knew she didn’t know how to give in without giving up herself. I loved how the author looked at different forms of jealousy through different characters and she showed each characters vast strengths and weaknesses. As a reader, it made me invest even deeper into the story. I’ll be honest, the ending was so heartbreaking yet beautiful at the same time that I read it over and over. I felt my heart break and mend almost simultaneously. It was phenomenal.

The story was riveting. It was heartbreaking, tender, harrowing, compelling, breathtaking and all around gorgeous. I recommend it to fans of strong heroines such as Scarlet, fans of Peter Pan and readers looking for a fantasy novel that will make them feel an array of emotions.

“If there was a true moment that Tiger Lily fell so in love with Peter she could never turn back, it was that night, when he shivered and walked and told her he was warm, and told her he loved her so much. She was fierce, to be sure, but she had a girl’s heart, after all.”

Recommend A…(10)

“Recommend A…” is a weekly meme, posted every Monday, hosted over on Chick Loves Lit. It’s a quick, fun and unique way to recommend a book that you love!

Recommend A…Book With a Blue Cover!

My choice this week is Lost Voices by Sarah Porter!

This novel is a new twist on a somewhat warped coming of age story. Luce begins finding herself after a traumatic event spirals her into what she believes is a point of no return. A refreshing difference in this novel is that there is no romantic relationship; it is not a story that centers on a romance. Instead, the relationships are between the girls in the mermaid tribe and many characters are fleshed out enough that you learn to appreciate their individual characteristics. Sarah Porter’s debut novel is the first in a very promising new series; the sequel, Waking Storms was published on July 3, 2012. See my review of Lost Voices, here.

Review: Fathomless by Jackson Pearce

Title: Fathomless

Author: Jackson Pearce

Publishing Information:  September 4, 2012 by Little Brown

Genre: Young-Adult, Fantasy, Fairy Tales

Series information: Book 3 in the “Fairytale Retellings” series

Format: Paperback, 291 pages

Source: ARC from the publisher (BEA 2012)

Recommended For: Fans of mermaids and fairytales


Celia Reynolds is the youngest in a set of triplets and the one with the least valuable power. Anne can see the future, and Jane can see the present, but all Celia can see is the past. And the past seems so insignificant — until Celia meets Lo.

Lo doesn’t know who she is. Or who she was. Once a human, she is now almost entirely a creature of the sea — a nymph, an ocean girl, a mermaid — all terms too pretty for the soulless monster she knows she’s becoming. Lo clings to shreds of her former self, fighting to remember her past, even as she’s tempted to embrace her dark immortality.

When a handsome boy named Jude falls off a pier and into the ocean, Celia and Lo work together to rescue him from the waves. The two form a friendship, but soon they find themselves competing for Jude’s affection. Lo wants more than that, though. According to the ocean girls, there’s only one way for Lo to earn back her humanity. She must persuade a mortal to love her . . . and steal his soul. (Via Goodreads)

I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this novel, I didn’t particularly enjoy Sisters Red yet I liked Sweetly enough to want to continue on with the “series.” I won’t say I’m sorry that I did but I was disappointed in a lot of ways.

I suppose these are more “companion” novels than novels in a series yet I still wanted to hear more from characters in the previous two books. Characters in Sweetly were alluded to, it’s no surprise that “Lo” is also “Nadia” the lost sister from Sweetly, but I wanted more. I have to give credit where it’s due, all three novels are tied up in a way that make them not dependent on one another. However, upon finishing this book I couldn’t help but wonder if there was going to be another novel to finally bring everyone together. It really felt to me like the “series” is just getting started. Note: If the series is just getting started then these loose ends would make sense to me. However, I have not yet heard or read any indication that there will be  more novels in this series. If you have, please, enlighten me!

I found that kept asking myself questions while reading the novel, “Why do these sisters have powers,” and “Where are these werewolves that plagued the first two novels?” Don’t worry, they show up for a brief episode, and we learn where they come from, kind of. All three novels gives us a major piece of information in regards to the fenris, how one is made, what they do to the girls they “steal” and so forth. Yet I was still left with feeling like I only read parts of different stories thrown together. 

First, there is the idea of it being a “retelling” of The Little Mermaid. True, there was a mermaid who longed to be on land but for me, that is where the comparison ended. Lo longs to have her old life back (the life of Nadia) and she has been told that the only way to do this is to make a mortal fall in love with her so that she can steal his soul. Second, there are the triplets who just happen to have these powers to see the past, present and future. How and why do they have these powers? I’m not sure. For the sake of this story the powers enable Celia to assist Lo in remembering her life as Nadia, to help hold on to her humanity.

There were things I really enjoyed in this novel. The point of view changed between Lo (and Nadia) and Celia so it was really a story from three different characters. This kept the novel interesting. I also liked that Lo wasn’t a mermaid in the way that we know them, the fins and so forth, but more of a girl who can live and breathe underwater indefinitely. I also really enjoyed the ending to the novel. Jackson Pearce has great success in writing endings that I really don’t see coming. In fact, I went back and re-read my reviews for the prior two novels in this series and I mentioned the same things: how I didn’t love the novel throughout, but the ending redeemed it for me. Interesting. Celia, Jude and Lo were fantastic and layered characters that I really grew to love, I felt connected to them as I did the characters in Sweetly. I would have liked to have learned more about Celia’s sisters, as I mentioned earlier a little explanation of their powers would have been enjoyable and would have given the characters more depth, but they played their parts in the end.

I honestly don’t completely know how I feel about this novel. Parts were riveting and beautiful and parts didn’t click with me. If Pearce decides to continue on with this story, I will be back for more but it isn’t something I feel compelled to read.  If you are looking for a different type of mermaid story, one slightly sinister yet also endearing, I encourage you to take a chance and read Fathomless yourself.

Side note: I have to weigh in, I really, really adored the covers of both Sisters Red and Sweetly and to be honest, I am extremely disappointed in the cover of Fathomless. Alas!

Review: The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer

Title: The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell

Author: Chris Colfer

Publishing Information: July 17, 2012, Little Brown Young Readers

Genre: Middle-Grade, Fantasy, Fairy Tales

Series information: Book one in a planned series

Format: Paperback, 438 pages

Source: ARC from the publisher (BEA 2012)

Recommended For: Lovers of fairy tales and retellings

Alex and Conner are doing their best to get by. Having recently lost their father to an accident, the twins live with their overworked mother in a small rental home and rely on one another for comfort. Alex is an overachiever, the teacher’s pet and the logical one of the two, whereas Conner is the comedian, and the more impulsive twin. Both children hold memories of their father close and look upon his stories when they need comfort. On their twelfth birthday, their grandmother comes to visit and brings her very old, very special storybook for them as a present. This book opens up a different world for the children in which the fairy tale characters they grew up reading about are real. The only problem here is that, not only are the heroes and princesses real, but also the Evil Queen and big bad wolves are real as well. These well known villains are on a hunt to find items for a wishing spell; the same items that the twins are hunting in order to wish themselves back home to their mother. Through this quest the twins meet a very pregnant Cinderella, a very vain Red Riding Hood, a few Kings Charming, and a host of other well known fantastical characters.

Anyone who knows me know that I love a good retelling and apparently the publisher was describing this one as “The Chronicles of Narnia meets Shrek.” Besides the falling through a wardrobe book to a fairy tale land, this book is nothing like Narnia. It would be easy to compare this to the numerous retellings out there today and I’ll admit that as I was reading I was thinking of the ways the book reminded me of Once Upon a Time, The 10th Kingdom, and yes, Shrek. However, while Chris Colfer was reminding me of all of the things I love about these former retellings, he was also showing me something different. New sides of old characters, surprisingly romantic interludes and a new kickass heroine.

One thing I loved even more than the characters in this novel was the different worlds that the author created. I’m a big fan of epic world building and Colfer penned the settings in a way that made it easy to see in my mind. When Conner asked, “What’s up with all the glitter?” while in the Fairy Kingdom, I really saw it sparkling. When the twins traveled to the Thornbush Pit, I felt myself cringing away as if I was the one who had to venture to the bottom. The only thing missing from this element was a good, detailed map of the kingdoms. I actually drew one for myself so I could keep track of where the twins were headed. (No judgy!)

I’ll be honest, I was wary going into this story. I know many of you had the same thought in your mind when you saw that the author of this novel was a well-known tv actor. To be quite honest, had I not received an ARC of this novel I might not have picked it up for a number of reasons. But let me tell you something, I am so glad that I did. I am beyond thrilled with this story and really rather impressed at Mr. Chris Colfer. Bravo, Kurt! Take that NYADA!

This excerpt provides the reader with a glimpse at the twins and their personalities. Primarily Conner and his humorous jibes toward his sister:

“Grazing around a perfect little stream ahead of them, to their amazement, was a herd of unicorns. They were beautiful: white with silver horns, silver hooves, and silver manes.

Conner’s forehead wrinkled, and his mouth dropped open. ‘Oh, jeez,’ he said. ‘That’s the most obnoxious thing I’ve ever seen in my life!’

‘I want to pet one!’ Alex said, and ran toward them.

‘Alex, be careful!’ Conner said. ‘They could have rabies!’

‘Unicorns don’t have rabies, Conner!’ Alex said.

You don’t know where those horns have been!’ Conner called out.

Alex walked up to the herd, slowing her pace so she wouldn’t spook them. They were so majestic and graceful, she just had to stop and admire them for a moment. One saw her and walked toward her…” (Page 262.)

This story was far from perfect but there were parts that made me laugh out loud, parts that made me a little misty eyed and parts that made me marvel at the level of angst, love and devotion in a middle grade novel. I highly recommend it to readers of all ages.