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On Its Own Merit: Poison by Bridget Zinn

Southern Book Bloggers ARC ToursHi there!

I’m honored to be a part of the Southern Book Bloggers Poison ARC Tour! Poison just happens to be Bridget Zinn’s debut YA novel, so of course it counts for the 2013 Debut Authors Challenge as well! YAY!

So, let’s talk about this book shall we?!

Sixteen-year-old Kyra, a highly-skilled potions master, is the only one who knows her kingdom is on the verge of destruction—which means she’s the only one who can save it. Faced with no other choice, Kyra decides to do what she

Poison by Bridget Zinndoes best: poison the kingdom’s future ruler, who also happens to be her former best friend. But, for the first time ever, her poisoned dart . . . misses.

Now a fugitive instead of a hero, Kyra is caught in a game of hide-and-seek with the king’s army and her potioner ex-boyfriend, Hal. At least she’s not alone. She’s armed with her vital potions, a too-cute pig, and Fred, the charming adventurer she can’t stop thinking about. Kyra is determined to get herself a second chance (at murder), but will she be able to find and defeat the princess before Hal and the army find her?

When I first saw the cover for Poison I automatically knew this would be a book I would really get into. The cover is reminiscent of classic fairy tales but also has more modern themes woven in.  The cover does a good job of depicting the story itself – classic fantasy mixed with more contemporary themes. Plus it’s just a really pretty cover…and look at the pig!

The main character Kyra is not your average girl. She has a ton of secrets and is on the run, although you don’t find out from what until a little ways in. She is multifaceted character with conflicting feelings and emotions which makes her pretty darn relatable. Kyra is emotionally scarred, and on habit (and necessity), tends to protect herself from the world by building walls and pushing people away.  And while she is fiercely independent, she is also incredibly loyal and will stop at nothing to do what she believes it right. In some ways, Kyra reminds me a lot of  Katniss Everdeen.

Zinn’s writing is pretty humorous and Kyra can be pretty sassy sometimes. I really enjoyed this aspect of the story, it kind of freshened up the traditional fantasy/fairy tale genre and made it more modern. There were a few scenes and dialog that had me laughing, especially the river crossing scene…you’ll know what I mean when you get there.

What I like about the narration style is that we don’t know all of Kyra’s secrets. She reveals them to us when she wants (or in some cases when others call her out on them), which makes learning about her more realistic.  It’s like we’re getting to know Kyra as we would get to know someone in real life. The minor characters, Fred, Ariana, and Rosie (yes Rosie is that sweet little pig on the cover!) were also likable and fun, although we don’t get to know as much about them as I would have liked.

Honestly, I could see Poison making a really good movie. It has adventure, romance, mystery and some really loveable characters (including the pig).  The whole story would translate well on-screen and I would definitely go see it in the theater.

On another note… if you’ve also read Jolted by Arthur Slade, you’ll know that I’m pretty sure Rosie (the pig) is related to Josephine, Newton’s ultra talented pet pig. Two sweet and talented pigs in books? They MUST be from the same family.  :P

In the end, I finished Poison craving more. I want more Kyra and more Fred and more adventures in this fantasy world they live in. I want to know what happens next, in fact I’m sure most people who read Poison feel the same way, but sadly Bridget Zinn passed away, after battling cancer, in May 2011, so we won’t get any more of these characters. To read more about her story visit her website. I do want to be clear about something though, her book stands alone on its own merit without the unfortunate circumstances behind it, which is, I think, very important.

If you are in the mood for a delightful fantasy (and why wouldn’t you be?!) then you should definitely pick up Posion by Bridget Zinn, you wont regret it. The story is perfect for middle school aged readers and those of us who are a tad bit older *cough cough* and definitely has the BookTasty stamp of approval!

Author: Bridget Zinn

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion (March 12, 2013)

Format: e-galley (ARC)

Length: 288 pages

Series: Standalone

YA/MG: MG/YA

Buy the Book:  Poison

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Seductive Sirens: Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama

Southern Book Bloggers ARC ToursHello!

I was lucky enough to read Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama as part of the Southern Book Bloggers ARC Tour. (THANK YOU!)

Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth FamaFierce, seductive mermaid Syrenka falls in love with Ezra, a young naturalist. When she abandons her life underwater for a chance at happiness on land, she is unaware that this decision comes with horrific and deadly consequences.

Almost one hundred forty years later, seventeen-year-old Hester meets a mysterious stranger named Ezra and feels overwhelmingly, inexplicably drawn to him. For generations, love has resulted in death for the women in her family. Is it an undiagnosed genetic defect . . . or a curse? With Ezra’s help, Hester investigates her family’s strange, sad history. The answers she seeks are waiting in the graveyard, the crypt, and at the bottom of the ocean—but powerful forces will do anything to keep her from uncovering her connection to Syrenka and to the tragedy of so long ago.

I have to start by clarifying that Monstrous Beauty was my second venture into mermaid fiction and I found it absolutely mesmerizing!  It was so incredibly different from the first mermaid book I’ve read (Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs).  Where as Forgive My Fins was a light-hearted teen romance, Monstrous Beauty was a dark and foreboding mystery.

Fama weaves together a story rich in historical fiction and fantasy.  The story is set in both historical and modern-day Plymouth, Massachusetts.  The town is almost a character in and of itself and acts as a means of connecting Hester and Syrenka’s narratives to one another. Siren mythology isn’t one you hear much about, so I think the historical setting of Monstrous Beauty works well with the story of mythical sea creatures.

Let’s talk about these mermaids for a second.  They’re not fun frolicking Ariel type mermaids. No.  They’re actually dangerous beauties with fins sharp as knives and razor teeth. I like this more traditional approach to the siren mythology which details seductive sirens luring unsuspecting men to their watery deaths. It’s just so intriguing and yet Fama makes you question the truth behind the myths.

Each chapter switches from Hester to Ezra and Syrenka’s perspective which I loved because both stories were so intriguing. I really felt connected to Hester (despite her unfortunate name) because of her love for history. I was a history major in college and I’ve always wanted to work as a historical interpreter at a historical site like she does! My husband knows he’s taking a gamble if we ever visit Colonial Williamsburg…I might end up in costume and he’ll never get me home!

Now, I will say that I did guess the truth to the mystery surrounding Hester’s family way before I think I was supposed to, but this didn’t hinder my interest in the story in any way. There is one pretty graphic scene, that would make me hesitate to recommend Monstrous Beauty to middle grades readers. All in all, I think readers who are high school aged and older will really enjoy this magical mix of fantasy and history.

Author: Elizabeth Fama

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (September 4, 2012)

Format: ARC, paperback

Length: 295 pages

Series: Standalone

YA/MG: YA

Buy the Book: Monstrous Beauty

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Bittersweet Symphony: Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Hi there!

Today I bring you a review of Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson!  I received this book as part of the Southern Book Blogger’s Tiger Lily ARC Blog Tour, and this was my first time participating in a blog tour ever!

Before Peter Pan belonged to Wendy, he belonged to the girl with the crow feather in her hair. . . .

Fifteen-year-old Tiger Lily doesn’t believe in love stories or happy endings. Then she meets the alluring teenage Peter Pan in theTiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson forbidden woods of Neverland and immediately falls under his spell.  Peter is unlike anyone she’s ever known. Impetuous and brave, he both scares and enthralls her. As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland’s inhabitants, Peter is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily. Soon, she is risking everything—her family, her future—to be with him. When she is faced with marriage to a terrible man in her own tribe, she must choose between the life she’s always known and running away to an uncertain future with Peter.

With enemies threatening to tear them apart, the lovers seem doomed. But it’s the arrival of Wendy Darling, an English girl who’s everything Tiger Lily is not, that leads Tiger Lily to discover that the most dangerous enemies can live inside even the most loyal and loving heart.

I can’t say it enough (I say it a lot on this blog!) but I absolutely adore fairy tales retold!  Now, I have to be honest that I’m not and never was a huge fan of the Peter Pan story, but reading Tiger Lily has caused me to revisit my feelings for this tale.  I was also a little hesitant because we all know that the romance between Peter Pan and Tiger Lily is pretty short-lived, but although my heart broke multiple times while reading it I really, really enjoyed this novel. (Also, look at that breathtaking cover! The colors are just lovely!)

First let me say that Anderson’s prose is gorgeous! Her descriptions of Neverland and it’s inhabitants is at times poetic and lends this story more romance and mystery.  There is very little dialogue as the story is narrated through the eyes of a very loyal and observant Tinkerbell.

Every little detail Anderson gives us is like a puzzle piece that fits perfectly into the story you thought you already knew. Anderson fills in the gaps in the narrative that weren’t answered in the original tale in a way that just makes sense.  The way the world of Neverland is imagined as an actual island somewhere in the Atlantic that you cannot find if you’re looking for it is incredibly creative and mythic.  Also, having Tink as the narrator is such a fabulous idea and allows the reader to see multiple sides of the story that they wouldn’t have seen had the narrator been Peter or Tiger Lily or anyone else.  Tink has the ability to go unnoticed so we see Tiger Lily’s life in the camp with her people and also the Lost Boys’ burrow when no one is watching them.

I never really understood the lure of Peter Pan (the character) before, but reading the story through a different narrator (not Wendy or her brothers) allowed me to see the appeal.  Peter is such an excitingly flawed character.  He is incredibly savage in a way that is both enticing and frightening.  He is also not willing to accept reality, which is both refreshing and frustrating at the same time.  There is this allure to him that I can only describe as the “bad-boy” pull.  Tiger Lily knows that nothing good can come from knowing Peter, but in her fearlessness she is drawn to him none-the-less.  Let me also say, I used to like Wendy.  Now I don’t think I do.  And that’s all I have to say about that – you’ll see!

Despite being a little slow to start, Tiger Lily is vivid, mysterious, beautiful and bittersweet all at once.  There were times where I wanted to put the book down to have a break from the heart-break, but at the same time I couldn’t wait to read more.   If you’re a fan of Peter Pan (Ha! That rhymed!), love fairy tale re-tellings, or are just in for a tender love story you should definitely get your hands on this one!  As far age ages go, the book is good for high school aged readers as I think middle schoolers might get bored with the lack of dialogue.

Author: Jodi Lynn Anderson

Publisher: Harper Teen (Scheduled Release July 3, 2012)

Format: ARC, paperback

Length: 304 pages

Series: Standalone

YA/MG: YA

Buy the Book: Tiger Lily (Pre-order)