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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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The Siren’s Song: Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs

Sometimes a book comes along that just makes you smile.

Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs is one of those books. Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs

Lily Sanderson has a secret, and it’s not that she has a huge crush on gorgeous swimming god Brody Bennett, who makes her heart beat flipper-fast. Unrequited love is hard enough when you’re a normal teenage girl, but when you’re half human, half mermaid like Lily, there’s no such thing as a simple crush.

Lily’s mermaid identity is a secret that can’t get out, since she’s not just any mermaid – she’s a Thalassinian princess. When Lily found out three years ago that her mother was actually a human, she finally realized why she didn’t feel quite at home in Thalassinia, and she’s been living on land and going to Seaview high school ever since, hoping to find where she truly belongs. Sure, land has its problems – like her obnoxious, biker boy neighbor Quince Fletcher – but it has that one major perk – Brody. The problem is, mermaids aren’t really the casual dating type – when they “bond,” it’s for life.

When Lily’s attempt to win Brody’s love leads to a tsunami-sized case of mistaken identity, she is in for a tidal wave of relationship drama, and she finds out, quick as a tailfin flick, that happily-ever-after never sails quite as smoothly as you planned.

I’ve had my eye on this book for about a year now since I first bought it for my Media Center. My girls at school check it out pretty frequently and I was always drawn to this pretty, colorful cover! Was it a siren song luring me to this book?!

Thanks to the generous people at the Harper Collins Audio department, I finally got the chance to read…er….listen to Forgive My Fins (THANK YOU SO MUCH!). This was my first mermaid book and what can I say? I absolutely LOVED this book; it’s light, quick and just plain fun. So, yeah I really enjoyed this whole mermaid thing. What little girl doesn’t pretend to be a mermaid when she’s little and in the pool? I did! I’d hook one of those pool rings around my ankles (which looking back probably wasn’t too safe) and swim around like I had one tailfin, instead of legs!

Lily is the kind of girl you’d like to have as your friend. She’s sweet, loyal, and quirky, if not a little oblivious. She is your average teenage girl in her insecurity and boy obsessiveness which makes her an appealing main character. Quince Fletcher reminds me of a little boy who relentlessly teases the girl he thinks is pretty because he doesn’t know how to tell her about his feelings. He throws balled-up paper at her and annoys Lily to no end, but you can tell right away that Quince is sweet and caring. Le sigh…I had a boy like that once upon a time. My Quince, was a boy named Willie in 5th grade who used to sharpen his pencil and then poke my shoulder or arm with it as he walked back to his desk. It took me years to realize he had a crush on me. But I digress…

Is Forgive My Fins predictable? Yes. Do I care? No way! The plot thickens when a case of mistaken identity leads to a rather crucial kiss. Childs packs the story in with hilariously corny and sweet mermaid-ish puns, which I enjoyed and think added to the whole feel of the story.

I did read this book as part of the 2012 YA Audiobook Challenge. Emily Bauer, the audiobook narrator, although not the same person, reminded me a lot of the narrator of the Gallagher Girl series, whom I love! Her voice was perky and cute, in the right ways, although I do wish her boy voices sounded a little older (they tended to sound younger).

So, in the end Forgive My Fins a light and enjoyable fast read that I highly recommend to middle grade readers and up who are in the mood for a quick and fun romance that just makes you smile.

Author: Tera Lynn Childs

Publisher: Harper Audio

Format: Audiobook

Length: 7 hours and 39 minutes

Narrator(s): Emily Bauer

Series: First in the Fins series.

YA/MG: YA/MG

Buy the Book: Forgive My Fins

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Book Trailer of the Week: Of Poseidon

Book Trailer of the Week Banner

So, what do you think of my swanky new Book Trailer banner?!

Isn’t it cute?!  My husband is the master craftsman behind my book monster and I am so thankful for him to take the time to book trailer-ify the little guy (THANK YOU!!).

Of Poseidon by Anna BanksI’ve said it before, but I think book trailers are made of so much awesome, so every week I pick a book trailer to spotlight.  This week’s trailer is for Of Poseidon by Anna Banks, which is a fantasy filled with mermaid lore—which sounds totally fun!

Galen, a Syrena prince, searches land for a girl he’s heard can communicate with fish. It’s while Emma is on vacation at the beach that she meets Galen. Although their connection is immediate and powerful, Galen’s not fully convinced that Emma’s the one he’s been looking for. That is, until a deadly encounter with a shark proves  that Emma and her Gift may be the only thing that can save his kingdom. He needs her help–no matter what the risk.

So, now that you’ve read the summary, lets watch the book trailer!

Doesn’t it sound intriguing?  I have yet to read any mermaid fiction, which has recently become pretty popular, so I’m going to have to rectify this sad situation and get my hands on Of Poseidon as soon as I can. I need to add it to my ever-growing Summer To Read List!