Monthly Archives: May 2012

Review of Nadia Scrieva’s Drowning Mermaids

Deep under Arctic waters lies an ice kingdom carved into a glacier. Those who dwell within it possess magnificent biological secrets. Due to the dangers of impending war, the Princess of Adlivun is forced to flee her undersea utopia and regroup with her sisters in Alaska. Captain Trevain Murphy is a successful king crab fisherman who has spent his life building his empire above the sea, and knows nothing of the empire beneath it. When he meets a mysterious dancer whose father has recently died, he extends kindness towards her, unaware of her unique genetics and royal lineage. Trevain’s attraction to the enigmatic Aazuria Vellamo will involve him in dangerous designs that will forever change his life, and his perspective on himself and his world. He embarks on perilous journeys in which he will need to release all of his insecurities and inhibitions in order to survive.

I was a little wary of Drowning Mermaids (Sacred Breath, #1) at first. The cover made me think it might be more smut than anything else, but the synopsis really looked interesting and it has good reviews, so I decided to give it a chance. I’m glad I did.

I’ve seen the author refer to the story as Darwinian Mermaid’s, and thats a fairly good description. Aazuria and her elegant entourage are no Ariel. They don’t have shining scaled tales. They don’t use sea shells in a poor attempts at modesty (and even less so for support), and they know human culture fairly well. They do, however, have an overbearing and questionably protective sea king as a father, so I suppose there are similarities.

One of the things I liked about Drowning Mermaids is the idea of mastery, the idea that given time (of which the mermaids have an abundance) humans can truly master an art. Scrieva doesn’t present her mermaids as magical, spell binding, holders of innate power over the senses of humanity. Instead they are skilled, carefully trained and practiced. It reminds the reader that if even mythical creatures have to work at what is important to them, we can’t expect to do any less.

The mermaids do seem awfully up on modern language, medical terminology, and weaponry. I found this a little hard to accept, considering their recent circumstances. Scrieva handles the language difference between land and sea people marvelously, but I thought the comfortable use of Methemoglobinemia, for example, stretched the credibility a little too far.

Despite this, without a doubt the highlight of the book was the actual writing. Scrieva’s ability to infuse a slight sense of irony into even the most somber passage was a sheer joy to read. The occasional use of sarcasm at the expense of the characters made the reader feel party to a private joke, and created a comfortable intimacy. For this reason, more than any other, I’ll be picking up the sequel Fathoms of Forgiveness (Sacred Breath, #2) .

Changes to the TBR and review policy

This blog is fairly new and to a certain extent I’m still feeling my way around, finding what feels right and what I’m comfortable (or not) with. Today I gave my poor neglected To Be Read list a little love. I removed the books that had already been read and reviewed and added a some that had yet to see digital light. I also made a few changes in the process.

For one, I removed all ebooks. This is not to suggest that I am not reading them, I am. In fact I’m reading more than ever before. I finally got my greedy little hands on a Kindle. The problem is that I’ve been over zealous in my downloading. Does anyone else think the free ebook lists are addicting? I have so many now that I don’t know what to do with them all, figuratively speaking. They are all, of course, unproblematically stored in the one miraculously small device for safe keeping. But I’ve decided to stop listing them. I probably couldn’t keep it up anyway, so why try. Best to just acknowledge me limitations and move on. 

Secondly, in light of my new electronic acquisition I have started accepting ebooks for review. This comes with a caveat, however. As just noted, I now have tons of ebooks at my disposal. I have created a collection just for books provided for review so that they won’t get lost in the imaginary literary landslide, but any ebook I accept will have a lot of competition for my attention. Know this before you email me and don’t expect it read quickly. Physical books are still my preferred reading method and will still probably get read first. It’s nice to have options though. 

Review Of L.S. Fayne’s Budding Magic & It’s Just Magic

Budding MagicIt's Just Magic

These two books comprise one continuous story, and if I had one significant change to make it would be combining them into one. The unfortunate logistics of modern publishing makes this unrealistic though, since it would be too long to be marketable. This is simply too bad.

The story revolves around the six (actually seven but one is only a baby and doesn’t have much of a role) O’Bryne sisters. Their parents have just died, leaving them orphans in pre-potato famine Ireland. Luckily for them, their family  is descended from a goddess, notorious magic users, and predominantly good, loving people. Despite grieving and facing a steep learning curve as the trauma of their parents death prematurely awakens their budding magical powers they support each-other and everyone around them. 

If I’m honest, the covers of Budding Magic and It’s Just Magic almost put me off offering to reading them. There isn’t anything actually wrong with them. They just didn’t particularly appeal to me, too many bright colors for my rather drab personality. The story did though, so I reminded myself of the old adage ‘never judge a book by its cover,’ and I’m glad I did.  It’s an engaging story that carries you along pleasantly. Or at least it does after chapter one of Budding Magic. I cried in the first chapter, yes the first chapter!

Each of the six sisters has a personality of their own, which can’t be easy for a writer. You easily become attached and invested in their adventure. It is fun learning the Druadic lessons with them and seeing how Fayne describes all of the magical creatures. The language is distractingly modern for a story set in 1838, especially that of the O’Byrne sisters, but this is easily overlooked. If you like fairtale fare you’ll like these books.

It is a testament to the O’Brynes that I enjoyed the story as much as I did despite having one of my number one literary pet peaves in it. This is when main characters are presented as more morally advanced than their peers because they adhere to normal modern civic mores. It comes through in little things like insisting on bathing regularly in a historical time period when hygiene was neither understood nor appreciated, or expecting fair labour (or gender) laws in what would otherwise be a feudal state. Express a desire to see change, sure, but surprise that  others adhere to what would be the norm of the day, no. Like everyone else, the main characters would know no different. I generally find it smug and condescending, and Fayne’s story is no exception. Despite this one major drawback for me, I really liked Budding Magic and, to a lesser degree, It’s Just Magic. 

I say to a lesser degree because there is so much recap in book two. I don’t mind a dozen or so pages at the beginning of a sequel to bring the reader back up to speed, but in It’s Just Magic theses reviews run the course of the whole book. Even in the last chapter one finds, “Calley-Cat had….” and a quick rundown of what good old magical Cally-Cat did in book one. Don’t get me wrong, I still liked the book. The O’Bryne sisters have a certain vivacious innocence that charms the reader. But there are a lot of characters and goings on in Budding Magic that It’s Just Magic tries to remind the reader of. This tends to eclipse the story being told, which is a shame. It’s a good story, full of angels, goddesses, succubi, unicorns and magical calico cats. The children’s nascent magic is interesting, and there is even a splash of romance. 

When all is said and done, the story of the Irish O’Bryne’s is one worth the read for those who are 14ish and up. There are a few sexual references, more often than not when a baddie needs to be seen as especially depraved. But there is no explicit sex or violence.