Cover Shot! Deep Betrayal by Anne Greenwood Brown

Cover Shot! is a regular feature here at the Café. I love discovering new covers, and when I find them, I like to share. More than anything else, I am consumed with the mystery that each new discovery represents. There is an allure to a beautiful cover. Will the story contained under the pages live up to promise of the gorgeous cover art?

I thought Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown put a fantastic spin on mermaid mythology, and I can hardly wait for Deep Betrayal, the next book in the series.  Sadly, I have a long, long time to wait!

In stores 2013.

It’s been thirty days, two hours, and seventeen minutes since Calder left Lily standing on the shores of Lake Superior. Not that she’s counting. And when Calder does return, it’s not quite the reunion Lily hoped for. Especially after she lets her father in on a huge secret: he, like Calder, is a merman. Obsessed with his new identity, Lily’s dad monopolizes Calder’s time as the two of them spend every day in the water, leaving Lily behind.

Then dead bodies start washing ashore. Calder blames his mermaid sisters, but Lily fears her father has embraced the merman’s natural need to kill. As the body count grows, everyone is pointing fingers. Lily doesn’t know what to believe—only that whoever’s responsible is sure to strike again. . .

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Interview with Anne Greenwood Brown, Author of Lies Beneath

Anne Greenwood Brown dropped by the virtual offices to chat about her new book, Lies Beneath.  Check out what she has to say.

[Manga Maniac Café] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Anne Greenwood Brown] I’m a born and raised Minnesotan, wife, and mother of three. I love to make things up, and I miss high school. A lot.

[Manga Maniac Café] Can you tell us a little about your book, Lies Beneath?

[Anne Greenwood Brown] Lies Beneath is billed as a paranormal romance, but I see it primarily as an evolution story (as in Darwin). It’s the story of a merman, Calder White, and his mermaid sisters, who medicate their natural depressive states by robbing people of their life energy (killing them in the process). They’re animals; it’s really no different than a lion taking down a gazelle. It’s creepy, but it’s just the natural way of things.

When the story starts, Calder and his sisters are seeking revenge against the man they blame for their mother’s death. Calder is charged with the task of getting close to the man, by first getting close to his daughter, Lily. It should be easy. Calder has plenty of experience seducing young girls. However, this time he screws everything up by falling in love. (If that’s even possible for his kind.)

Over the course of the novel, Calder starts to evolve from his animalistic past to his more human future, and starts to acquire some of the most profound capabilities of the human spirit.

[Manga Maniac Café] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for Lies Beneath?

[Anne Greenwood Brown] I actually started writing a contemporary story that was set on Lake Superior about a girl who came up to tend the lighthouse and fell in love with a ferry boat captain. But I kept having this dream where the ferry boat captain dove over the side of the boat. That would be a really stupid thing to do on Lake Superior. Like, death wish stupid. Then in one of those dreams, the ferry boat captain dove into the lake and burst out with this amazing tail! I woke up with the first line of the book in my head: “I hadn’t killed anyone all winter, and I have to say I felt pretty good about that.” I figured that was the story that wanted to be told, so I sat down to write it.

[Manga Maniac Café] What are three things Calder would never have in his pocket?

[Anne Greenwood Brown] Oh, boy, let’s see. He wouldn’t have any money. He wouldn’t have an ID. And . . . he wouldn’t have any lint (because he doesn’t have much access to a washer/dryer).

[Manga Maniac Café] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Anne Greenwood Brown] My laptop. Coffee. And the time on the clock to be before noon!

[Manga Maniac Café] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Anne Greenwood Brown] THE TIME GARDEN by Edgar Eager. It was about a frog who taught a group of children how to travel through time by inhaling thyme. I remember they went to visit Queen Elizabeth on one trip, and Louisa May Alcott on another.

[Manga Maniac Café] Thank you!


You can purchase Lies Beneath from your favorite bookseller, or by clicking the widget below.  Available in both print and digital

 

Interview arranged by {teen} Book Scene

Review: Tempest Unleashed by Tracy Deebs

 

 

  Title: Tempest Unleashed

  Author: Tracy Deebs

  Publisher: Walker Childrens

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

In Tempest Rising, Tempest chose to return to the sea, following in her mother’s footsteps and forging a relationship with the selkie Kona. Now many months have gone by, and she yearns to see her family again. Life under the ocean is full of rigorous training to eventually take over the throne, which leads to Tempest’s powers growing and manifesting in new ways. When Tiamat, Tempest’s power-hungry nemesis, attacks Tempest’s brother Moku on land, she returns to his side, which also brings her back to her old flame, Mark. But was the attack calculated to get Tempest out of the way? As the battle rages, Tempest’s two loves will collide to both protect her and force her to choose. And when the biggest casualty of all befalls the merpeople-the Queen loses her life-will Tempest be able, or willing, to take over the throne?

Review:

When I first picked up Tempest Unleashed, I was totally engaged in the story.   It picks up eight months after Tempest has made the difficult decision to live with her mother’s mer clan and work for the merQueen.  She and Hailana have a volatile relationship, their strong personalities constantly clashing as the merQueen attempts to mold Tempest into her idea of the perfect future queen.  Hailana is a demanding and ruthless leader.  She doesn’t hesitate to harshly enforce her rules when they aren’t followed to the letter.  Tempest quickly begins to question her leadership style, and she chafes at the thought of being Hailana’s weapon.  Fighting Tiamat is one thing, but punishing her own people is another.

I found the mer society and their alliance with the selkies fascinating.  The world building is very solid and believable, and kept me turning the pages – for the first 31% of the book. Then, when Tempest travelled back home because she had a premonition that her younger brother, Moku, was in grave danger, the pace of the story screeched to a standstill, and the focus shifted to my least favorite trope in YA fiction; the love triangle.  I find this particular plot device tedious and overused, and it is one that just don’t hold my attention.  The entire middle part of the book was consumed by Tempest’s back and forth feelings between Kona and her human ex, Mark.  There was no plot advancement, the impending war against Tiamat takes a backseat to Tempest’s internal war over which guy was her true love.  I wish that the relationship conflict had been better integrated with the rest of the larger storyline, and I felt that Tempest, who has such a strong personality, was too fickle and too flighty as she wrestled with her see-saw feelings for Mark and Kona.

The war against Tiamat kicked the pacing up again, and I whipped through to the ending.  The confrontation between Tiamat and her henchmen proved how fierce and fearless Tempest could be when the people she loved were threatened.  I enjoyed the battle sequences, and how Tempest finally accepted her role as the defender of not just the mer people, but the entire underwater world.  If Tiamat was victorious, life would never be the same, not for the creatures in the water, nor for the humans living on the land.  Tiamat’s ambitions to rule the world needed to be quickly and brutally crushed, just as she crushed everyone in her path.

While Tempest Unleashed wasn’t completely satisfying for me, I am invested in Tempest’s underwater world and would like to know what happens next.  I just hope that the love triangle isn’t the main focus of the next book.  If you do enjoy this plot device, I think that you will enjoy the book far better than I did.

Grade: C+

Review copy provided by publisher

 

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Review: Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown

 


 

   Title: Lies Beneath

   Author: Anne Greenwood Brown

   Publisher:  Delacorte Books for Young Readers

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Calder White lives in the cold, clear waters of Lake Superior, the only brother in a family of murderous mermaids. To survive, Calder and his sisters prey on humans, killing them to absorb their energy. But this summer the underwater clan targets Jason Hancock out of pure revenge. They blame Hancock for their mother’s death and have been waiting a long time for him to return to his family’s homestead on the lake. Hancock has a fear of water, so to lure him in, Calder sets out to seduce Hancock’s daughter, Lily. Easy enough—especially as Calder has lots of practice using his irresistible good looks and charm on unsuspecting girls. Only this time Calder screws everything up: he falls for Lily—just as Lily starts to suspect that there’s more to the monsters-in-the-lake legends than she ever imagined. And just as his sisters are losing patience with him.

Review:

I was hooked like a fish on a lure from the first page of Lies Beneath.  I loved the dark nature of the merfolk, and found Anne Greenwood Brown’s vision of mermaids a little frightening.  In this YA paranormal romance, the mermaids aren’t the nice, good-natured creatures I usually read about.  These guys are deadly, and kill without provocation.  They show no remorse for draining the life essence out of humans, either.  In this book, humans are the prey, and woe be anyone foolish enough to cross paths with one of Calder’s hungry sisters.  By nature, they are depressed and lost to grim dispositions, so they have a fierce need to feed on the positive emotions of humans.  Without the happy life essence of humans, they  spiral into madness and despair.

Calder does have a conscience, and he tries to deny his murderous urges.  His sisters don’t have much patience for him, and it’s obvious from the first page that he is different.  He is not like the other merfolk, and he wants nothing more than to have some distance between himself and his sisters.  He can’t resist the call for him to return home, though, and every spring, like a spawning salmon, he must return to Lake Superior.  He is bound to his sisters and can’t break free of them, much to his dismay.  As I read, I got a sense of the pressure Calder must feel.  Like a school of fish, he and his sisters must be together.  They can communicate telepathically when they are in the water, and what one knows, they all know.  How creepy would that be, having your every thought available for review by your siblings.  Ugh.

Calder and his sisters long for one thing – revenge against Hancock, the son of the man they feel is responsible for their mother’s death.  They have plotted and searched for Hancock for years, and when they finally find him, their anticipation for his painful death at their hands is all that keeps them going.  There’s a problem, though.  Calder, charged with getting close to Hancock’s daughters, finds himself falling for Lily.  He fights his attraction, knowing that he will have to keep his word and kill Lily’s father. Though the romance is clichéd, I loved how hopeless their romance seemed.   There can be no happy ending for a girl and the boy who helped to lure her father to his watery doom, right?  I was totally engaged in the story, wondering how, or if, they could be together.  The poetry references got a little tiring, and I thought that Lily’s character was too simple in a few of the major scenes, but I did like how she never let Calder get the best of her.  If anything, she made of point of getting under his skin more effectively than he got under hers.  Lily was far from helpless, and she met her fears head on.  I liked that.

I don’t want to give too much of the plot away, so I’ll close by saying that I enjoyed this darker take on mermaid mythology.  The tension between Calder and his sisters added to the edginess of the story.  Calder made a lot of promises, some of them conflicting, and I was on the edge of my seat to see how events would play out.  Once a merfolk gives their word, they are bound by it.  They can’t break it or go back on their promise.  This added another level of complexity to a happy ending, and I couldn’t wait to see what happened next.  I gobbled this one up, and can hardly wait to see what’s next for Lily and Calder.

Grade:  B/B+

Available in Print and Digital

Review copy provided by {teen} Book Scene

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Review: Above World by Jenn Reese

 

Title: Above World

Author: Jenn Reece

Publisher: Candlewick

ISBN: 978-0763654177

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Thirteen-year-old Aluna has lived her entire life under the ocean with the Coral Kampii in the City of Shifting Tides. But after centuries spent hidden from the Above World, her colony’s survival is in doubt. The Kampii’s breathing necklaces are failing, but the elders are unwilling to venture above water to seek answers. Only headstrong Aluna and her friend Hoku are stubborn and bold enough to face the terrors of land to search for way to save their people.

But can Aluna’s warrior spirit and Hoku’s tech-savvy keep them safe? Set in a world where overcrowding has led humans to adapt—growing tails to live under the ocean or wings to live on mountains—here is a ride through a future where greed and cruelty have gone unchecked, but the loyalty of friends remains true.

Review:

After reading Dark Life by Kat Falls, I became fascinated by the idea of living in the ocean.  When I saw Above World by Jenn Reese, I was chomping at the bit to read it.  In this Middle Grade adventure, Aluna, a girl who lives in the ocean, must venture Above World to discover why the technology that allows her people to breathe underwater is failing.  I loved the spunky Aluna, and I also thought that her best friend, Hoku, was a wonderful character, too.  Both of them have to deal with very frightening situations, and as they face down death time and again, the thought of saving their people gives them the courage to continue on their journey. 

When Aluna finds the body of one of her friends, she discovers that the elders are keeping a secret from the residents of her city – the breathing tech that allows the Kampii to live underwater is failing.  Each Kampii has a bio-tech breathing necklace that keeps them from drowning.  Several of the necklaces ceased functioning, and the elders, including Aluna’s father, have quickly covered up the resulting deaths, not wanting to start a panic.  Instead of trying to discover why the necklaces are starting to fail, the elders are firmly denying that there is a problem.  The Kampii in her city have kept themselves hidden from the Above World for generations, and they don’t want to have anything to do with the surface world.  Aluna runs away from home, determined to save her people.

I loved the world building in this post-apocalyptic adventure.  As the population swelled and the available land was consumed by growing numbers of people, new environments were exploited with the help of bio-technology.  The Kampii, who are like mermaids, were allowed to live under the water with their necklaces.  Centaurs were engineered to live in the desert, and Aviars were given wings so they could live on top of mountains.  Disease swept through the human population, and chaos followed.  Now the remaining life forms are at war, battling for control of the old technology.

Aluna is a strong, determined protagonist, and I liked her a lot.  She is impulsive and stubborn, and these flaws work to get her out of many dicey situations.  She isn’t able to give up, and and she can’t accept failure.  That’s just not an option for her.  The thought of quitting never occurs to her, even when she is standing up to very scary enemies that would have had me running, screaming, in the opposite direction.  She is also self-reliant, which almost gets her, as well as her friends, killed.

I also loved the pacing of this novel.  The reader is never given the opportunity to become bored.  Aluna and Hoku meet one challenge after another, in rapid succession.  They barely have a chance to catch their breath before they are thrown into danger again, which made it difficult to  put the book down.  Their race against time to save their people from drowning kept me on the edge of my seat.  Both Aluna and Hoku had some major sacrifices to make, and they never hesitated to do whatever was necessary to save the Kampii.  I completely bought that these two young kids could save their underwater city.  Aluna is fierce and Hoku is clever, and together they make one heck of a team.  I loved their interaction, and how they complimented each other.  Where one was weak, the other was strong.

I can hardly wait to read Aluna and Hoku’s next adventure.  Above World has a satisfying conclusion, and left me content with the thought that they had saved the world, for the time being, at least.  There isn’t a huge, disappointing cliffhanger, just the sense that there are more conflicts to resolve in the near future.  I hate cliffhanger endings, so this conclusion worked for me.  I wasn’t all twitchy at the thought of Aluna and Hoku, frozen in time, facing an early demise, until the release of the next book.

Grade: B

Review copy provided by publisher

 

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Review: Between the Sea and Sky by Jaclyn Dolamore

 

Title: Between the Sea and Sky

Author: Jaclyn Dolamore

Publisher: Bloomsbury

ISBN: 978-1599904344

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

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 Alandare, who belongs to a winged race of people. As Esmerine and Alandare 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.

Review:

I enjoy Jaclyn Dolamore’s writing style.  She reminds me a lot of Patricia McKillip or Robin McKinley, with gently flowing prose and interesting world-building tidbits, but she doesn’t spoon-feed a ton of details to the reader.  The plot is slowly unraveled, a thread at a time, in a somewhat leisurely fashion.  While there are moments of extreme danger for the protagonists, the challenges they face never seem insurmountable, and you know that they will eventually be overcome.  The protagonist in Between the Sea and Sky is Esmerine, and I had total confidence in her from the first page.  So the reading journey wasn’t so much about whether she would accomplish her goals, it was about how she would achieve success, and how much she would change because of her journey.

Esmerine has eagerly waited to become a siren so that she and her beautiful older sister, Dosia, can sing together with the other sirens and warn off ships when they don’t pay tribute to the mer-people.  When Dosia disappears, Esmerine is frantic with worry.  Was she kidnapped by a human? Is she being held against her will?  Ignoring the concerns of her parents, Esmerine determinedly strikes out after her sister.  She can’t rest until she is certain that Dosia is not in danger.

I liked the world-building for the mermaids.  Some of them are drawn to be with humans, even though it means the risk of having their magical belts stolen.  Whoever owns their belt owns the mermaid and her powers, so it’s imperative that Esmerine protect hers at all cost.  When she is away from the water, and when she walks in human form, her feet and legs are in constant pain.  There is a price to be paid to be away from her sea, and  Esmerine must endure the agony if she is to find her sister.

Esmerine meets up with an old friend in the city, and at first she is delighted to see Alan again.  Soon, though, she begins to fret that he considers her a nuisance.  Did she read too much into their childhood friendship?  I enjoyed the sweet romance between Alan and Esmerine.  Alan is of a winged race, and a future for them seems impossible.  Esmerine convinces him to help her find her sister, though, and the two head off to face the unknown.  With the odds of them finding Dosia stacked against them, and peril on the road, their journey appears unlikely at best.  It’s Esmerine’s stubbornness that keeps them moving forward, and her sheer force of will that propels her toward success. 

Between the Sea and Sky is a character driven fantasy that may not move fast enough for some readers.  Events build upon themselves, slowly gaining momentum and crescendoing to a satisfying conclusion.  I am looking forward to more of Jackie’s books!

Grade: B

Review copy provided by publisher