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Mini Reviews: Lost Voices, Between the Sea and Sky, & Spellbound

Lost Voices by Sarah Porter

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Release Date: July 4, 2011
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: NetGalley + Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
About the Book:

"When fourteen-year-old Luce is assaulted on the cliffs near an Alaskan village, she expects to die when she tumbles into the icy water below. Instead, she transforms into a mermaid. Luce is thrilled with her new life—until she discovers the catch."

Lost Voices is a book I could get into at first. Luce, the main character, is a young girl who has lost all family apart from her drunk of an uncle, who has reluctantly taken her in. In the opening chapters of the book, a heartbreaking glimpse into Luce's sad and miserable life is presented, and I couldn't help but feel remorse toward her. She's scared - constantly wary of her uncle, wondering when the next blow is going to come raining down - and alone, totally terrified of other kids her age. Instantly her character spoke to me and instead of feeling impatient for her mermaid transformation, I wanted badly for her life on land to be resolved.

When Luce actually does get under the water is where the seed of boredom sprouted. Which is ironic considering that, if you've read my blog, I LOVE MERMAIDS. And yet when Luce is surrounded by them I couldn't muster a single drop of excitement. I couldn't get behind the mermaids - girls with terrible pasts that have found themselves in similar situations as Luce, which connects to the reason behind their transformation - and the world-building wasn't very satisfying. When I go under the sea, I want rich, flowy detail of places I could never explore on my own. My desire wasn't met. The mermaid characters, while crucial to the story, didn't interest me enough to want to dive deeper into the story. In fact, their presence rebuffed me from the story. 

I wanted little Luce to find a happy ending - whether that be a new family on land, people who cared about her, or a guy who starts up a whirlwind romance with her. I couldn't help but automatically dream-up a The Little Mermaid-inspired scenario. My lack of interest in the slow-paced, tensionless plot provoked my skipping around until finally I just stopped trying and put the book down with an exhalation of relief. Lost Voices was definitely not the kind of read I was looking for.

Between the Sea and Sky by Jaclyn Dolamore

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Release Date: October 25, 2011
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: Library Check-Out
Rating: Guilty Pleasure
About the Book:

"For as long as Esmerine can remember, she has longed to join her older sister, Dosinia, as a siren--the highest calling a mermaid can have. When Dosinia runs away to the mainland, Esmerine is sent to retrieve her. Using magic to transform her tail into legs, she makes her way unsteadily to the capital city. There she comes upon a friend she hasn't seen since childhood--a dashing young man named Alander, who belongs to a winged race of people. As Esmerine and Alander band together to search for Dosinia, they rekindle a friendship... and ignite the emotions for a love so great, it cannot be bound by sea, land, or air."

Between the Sea and Sky was a much better-suited mermaid story. Going back to the built up image of mermaid life going all the way back to The Little Mermaid, the truth is I don't like when tellers of tales change what I know and love. I find that's harder to get into the book otherwise. I like my mermaid tales light and sweet and fun, and the mermaid almost always has to have a human lover (sometimes, I can dig the mermen). While Between the Sea and Sky wasn't a flawless read, the romance, the fantasy-ish world, and easy-peasy plot compelled me to continue reading.

Esmerine is the kind of MC I can get behind, a girl who is loyal to her family, curious by nature, a MERMAID, and adoring of books. I like that, while at first, she comes across as submissive and someone who is anxious for approval, she shatters all conceptions gained toward her character when she runs off to track down her kidnapped sister. Embarking on this terrifying quest to discover her sister's whereabouts requires her to invoke the help of Alan, a winged boy she knew long ago but was forced to expel all contact with at the demands of their separate races. At first the reunion was rocky and so were my feelings for Alan. I had doubts as to his rude and all-knowing personality, but they were quickly smushed as Esmerine's journey progresses and their romance sparks.

I liked this book for the laidback plot with minor tension flares, "feel good" romance, the attraction which isn't based on "instaluv," and that requisite happily ever after at the closing of the book.

Spellbound by Cara Lynn Shultz

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Release Date: June 28, 2011
Publisher: HarlequinTeen
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: NetGalley + HarlequinTeen
Rating: Sud-Kissed
About the Book:

"What's a girl to do when meeting The One means she's cursed to die a horrible death?

Life hasn't been easy on sixteen-year-old Emma Connor, so a new start in New York may be just the change she needs. But the posh Upper East Side prep school she has to attend? Not so much. Friendly faces are few and far between, except for one that she's irresistibly drawn to—Brendan Salinger, the guy with the rock-star good looks and the richest kid in school, who might just be her very own white knight.

But even when Brendan inexplicably turns cold, Emma can't stop staring. Ever since she laid eyes on him, strange things have been happening. Streetlamps go out wherever she walks, and Emma's been having the oddest dreams: visions of herself in past lives—visions that warn her to stay away from Brendan. Or else."

Oh, gawd, I was prematurely ready to gag at what I had perceived to be an approaching "instaluv" romance deduced from reading the synopsis. I can't stand girls who "can't stop staring" or girls who get all crazy obsessive with the hottie at school. And Spellbound had the potential of leading the two romantic leads right into that unwanted territory. While the veering wasn't smoothly done, Spellbound succeeded in averting that disaster and I was able to move forward with the book without any animosity that would have come from reading a stupid romance-driven tale.

This is another "feel good" read, where Shultz exposes us to an upbeat, tongue-in-cheek prose and a cute, if not endearing, MC that I would totally offer a bear-hug to. Emma Connor has been through loads of horrible crap in her life and now it's time for a change, one which forces her to move to a different state altogether and where she can start fresh. What I really liked about Brendan and their quicky romance was that it didn't go by TOO fast exactly and they hung out first, talked, bared themselves enough to reveal tragic pasts and details about themselves they would normally keep secret. Families were introduced, they had mutual friends. And their rapid romance is plausible, with the thousand-year-old shared history between them.

I found Spellbound totally likeable for the hilarious bits, the enjoyable characters, the quick but not rash romance, and the fairy-talelike feel to it. Plus, the resolution was nice and tidy, yet there's room to weave another story for the next book, as not all the loose-ends were tied up. Overall, I enjoyed this book.


Liz. R said...

Glad you liked Spellbound! I've been put off by some of the reviews, but it's good to hear that it's worth reading. It's a shame Lost Voices wasn't for you, but at least Between the Sea and Sky was more enjoyable! Fab mini reviews, thabks! :)

MoonStar said...

I barely finished Lost Voices aswell.. Didn`t meet my expectations at all. Really agree. When she was a mermaid things begin tho fall. Not much happend :( To bad..

Uhh.. I am so excited about Spellbound, it´s on my wishlist :)

Great reviews :)

LoriStrongin said...

Bummer to hear Lost Voices fell flat--that one had sounded pretty interesting, I'd thought. Guess I'll skip that one for now. And I've definitely heard good things about Spellbound, so that one I think I'll be looking in to!

Thanks for the mini-reviews!


Natalia Belikov @ Dazzling Reads said...

Oh sweet! great reviews! thanks so much =D
I;ve been looking forward to read Between the Sea and Sky! hopefully ai'll get to it soon! lol!

Dazzling Reads

A. Knight said...

Liz- I'm glad I read both mermaid books, and that I had one that was at least ok. I really liked Spellbound! Like I said, mostly because of Emma's voice. She's hilarious.

MoonStar- Exactly. I was thoroughly disappointed.
Hope you get to read Spellbound soon!

Lori- YAY. I hope you enjoy Spellbound.

Natalia- Yeah, it's a fun read you don't want to miss out.