Review: Freeks

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Freeks by: Amanda Hocking

My Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

Welcome to Gideon Davorin’s Traveling Sideshow, where necromancy, magical visions, and pyrokinesis are more than just part of the act…

Mara has always longed for a normal life in a normal town where no one has the ability to levitate or predict the future. Instead, she roams from place to place, cleaning the tiger cage while her friends perform supernatural feats every night.

When the struggling sideshow is miraculously offered the money they need if they set up camp in Caudry, Louisiana, Mara meets local-boy Gabe…and a normal life has never been more appealing.

But before long, performers begin disappearing and bodes are found mauled by an invisible beast. Mara realizes that there’s a sinister presence lurking in the town with its sights set on getting rid of the sideshow freeks. In order to unravel the truth before the attacker kills everyone Mara holds dear, she has seven days to take control of a power she didn’t know she was capable of—one that could change her future forever.

Bestselling author Amanda Hocking draws readers inside the dark and mysterious world of Freeks.

Beware spoilers ahead!

I received this E-ARC via St. Martin’s Griffin and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I am also participating in the blog tour. I had heard about this book through Netgalley. I was scrolling one day and came across this book. It sounded good and some of my friends were reading it. I am happy to say that I enjoyed this book!

The book is written in first person all in Mara’s point of view. Before every chapter there is a picture of a tarot card with the date and the year. This book does take place in the eighties.

The book begins with Mara and the circus traveling to their newest location. Mara’s mother and her boyfriend Gideon have a bad feeling about this location but they need the money. One of their former members lives in said town and promised them a good deal.

Mara would love the idea of living a normal life. While she likes her family on the circus, she would like to stay in one place and maybe start a family of her own. Whenever Mara reaches a new town she explores it the night before any of their performances.

While exploring the town and taking in all the houses Mara runs into this girl dragging her drunk boyfriend. Mara offers to help said girl. Later the girl invites Mara into the party where Mara meets the girl’s brother Gabe. She is instantly attracted to Gabe and spends the night with him.

The next day Mara’s mother is asking her whether she has seen one of their members and her roommate Blossom (I think that’s her name). Mara has not. This is actually quiet normal for Blossom to disappear and come back again. Which is why Mara doesn’t worry about her. On the other hand Mara’s mother has weird vibes about the town and sends Mara and Gideon to inform the police. Informing the police doesn’t really go anywhere but at least Mara’s mother is appeased.

As the book continues weird things start to happen to the circus crew. A majority of their powers aren’t working properly. More people have gone missing. Something seems to be only targeting and killing the circus crew, specifically those who are the most powerful. Mara actually starts having these nightmares about a woman screaming something at her in another language. And the town is just giving off weird vibes. The town thus far has do nothing to help. It’s up to Mara, the circus crew, and Gabe to figure out what’s going on.

To be honest I wasn’t sure what to except about this book. I had heard about Amanda Hocking before but have never actually read any of her other books. I was kind of surprised that I enjoyed this!

I really liked basically all of the characters! Mara’s voice felt real to me and I understood her longing to live a normal life. I have actually forgotten all but three characters names, so I don’t remember Mara’s friend’s names. Which sucks but is also not surprising seeing as I read this back in October 2016 and didn’t take any notes. I apologize in advance for any confusions.

I liked the relationship Mara had with her mother. It wasn’t complicated but instead the pair were quiet close. Mara and Gideon had a good relationship as well. Now you would think that they’d have an awkward relationship seeing as he is dating her mom, but surprisingly they were close as well. Gideon genuinely cared for Mara and all of the other performers.

The powers were really cool to read about! I actually didn’t hear about some of the powers so that was nice. Mara’s mother could predict the future using tarot cards and allowing the spirits to speak to her. This did have a negative affect on her physically and mentally. This was the same with all of their powers. I found this to be very original as I have never read about paranormal powers having negative effects on the people themselves.

Mara’s friends were nice and they all had a good relationship with one-another. Mara also becomes friends with Gabe’s sister whom I loved. As for Mara and Gabe’s romance it was very quick. It wasn’t insta-love so much as insta-attraction. Normally I don’t like reading about rushed romances, but I didn’t mind it in this book. I really liked Gabe so maybe that’s why I let it slide. There is an LGBTQIA romance as well. Both the characters are already dating before the book takes place so you didn’t get to see their romance develop.

The setting was fantastic! This was my first eighties book and it certainly won’t be my last. I also felt I was walking right next to Mara as she took in the town and described the circus and some of the places she went to.

I did not see any of the plot points coming! I found it very original and entertaining to read about. Note this book is more focused on the characters and the setting. It’s a decent pace but not a whole lot happens right away.

I only had one problem with this. In the beginning I found that not much happened in the book (which I mentioned above). It took awhile for some of the characters to go missing and for the circus to realize that there was something up with the town. After some time I got used to it. I started to get sucked in because I really enjoyed reading about the characters.

Overall this was a good standalone! I recommend this to anyone looking for a character driven standalone. I will definitely be keeping an eye out for this author.  

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Review: Fear the Drowning Deep

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Fear the Drowning Deep by: Sarah Glenn Marsh

My Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

Witch’s apprentice Bridey Corkill has hated the ocean ever since she watched her granddad dive in and drown with a smile on his face. So when a dead girl rolls in with the tide in the summer of 1913, sixteen-year-old Bridey suspects that whatever compelled her granddad to leap into the sea has made its return to the Isle of Man.

Soon, villagers are vanishing in the night, but no one shares Bridey’s suspicions about the sea. No one but the island’s witch, who isn’t as frightening as she first appears, and the handsome dark-haired lad Bridey rescues from a grim and watery fate. The cause of the deep gashes in Fynn’s stomach and his lost memories are, like the recent disappearances, a mystery well-guarded by the sea. In exchange for saving his life, Fynn teaches Bridey to master her fear of the water — stealing her heart in the process.

Now, Bridey must work with the Isle’s eccentric witch and the boy she isn’t sure she can trust — because if she can’t uncover the truth about the ancient evil in the water, everyone she loves will walk into the sea, never to return.

Beware spoilers ahead!

I received this E-ARC from the author and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I am also participating in the Sunday Street Team. 

I had heard about this book through Twitter. Quite a few people were talking about it but at the time it didn’t catch my eye. It wasn’t until I got the sign up form for the street team that I considered reading it.

Now I suppose because I didn’t really care much for Fear the Drowning Deep I didn’t have any expectations. I was quite surprised that I enjoyed it! The book takes place sometime during the 1913. It is written in first person through Bridey’s point of view.

The minute you read the first page the book grabs you and it’s hard to stop. We are taken right when Bridey finds a dead girls body. Soon after that the town is in a frenzy as there hasn’t been a death since Bridey’s grandfather.

When Bridey was seven years old she and her grandfather were walking by the beach. She’s trying to have a conversation with him when suddenly he stops replying. He mentions whether Bridey can hear the singing to which she replies no. Her grandfather claims that the singing is coming from the water. He walks to the cliff and jumps off with a smile on his face.

Bridey told her townspeople about what happened but they all thought she was crazy. Add to the fact that she’s the only person in the town who doesn’t like the water. Throughout the book Bridey soon realizes that all these disappearances and murders are somehow linked to her grandfather’s death. She explains as much to her people but they don’t believe her. The only one who does is Fynn and the Witch she is apprenticed to. With their help she looks for a way to stop the monster from killing her townspeople.

I didn’t see any of the plot coming! This is a very original book. The book is fairly fast paced and I was never bored. It was interesting reading about the witch that Bridey was apprenticed to as well as the monsters. All of the monsters are from some mythology. Personally speaking I have never read about these monsters before.

The family relationship was absolutely amazing! Bridey has two sisters and adoring parents. Despite some of the sisters’ arguments they stood by each other. The same goes for Bridey’s parents. When Bridey found Fynn her parents took him in and treated them as their own. They stood up for him when the town started to get suspicious of Fynn.

I also loved Bridey’s friendship! I forgot her friends’ names but I loved reading about them! They were a tight group. Now one of her friends is a guy and there is a bit of a love triangle but it gets resolved fairly quickly.

I liked reading about Bridey and Fynn’s relationship. They were sweet together. Although I did feel that it was a bit rushed. There is a certain reveal that comes out about Fynn which ruined the romance for me. I still liked his character though.

I found the ending to be just right for the book. And in a sense it was beautiful. It gives Bridey and the readers hope.

I had two problems with Fear the Drowning Deep. I wished that we got to read more about Bridey’s friends. They didn’t really come in a lot. And that reveal about Fynn was shocking and a bit odd considering that Bridey and Fynn were dating.

Overall I enjoyed this book! I am definitely going to be checking out more from this author. I recommend it for anyone looking for a fantasy standalone. 

Review: Shadowland

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Shadowland by: Meg Cabot

My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

There’s a hot guy in Susannah Simon’s bedroom. Too bad he’s a ghost.

Suze is a mediator – a liaison between the living and the dead. In other words, she sees dead people. And they won’t leave her alone until she helps them resolve their unfinished business with the living. But Jesse, the hot ghost haunting her bedroom, doesn’t seem to need her help. Which is a relief, because Suze has just moved to sunny California and plans to start fresh, with trips to the mall instead of the cemetery, and surfing instead of spectral visitations.

But the very first day at her new school, Suze realizes it’s not that easy. There’s a ghost with revenge on her mind… and Suze happens to be in the way.

Beware spoilers ahead!

When I was younger I was a fan of Meg Cabot. As far as I was concerned she could do no wrong and that all her books were fantastic! Last year I discovered that it’s not true. I found out that I didn’t like her contemporary books. But I still immensely enjoyed her paranormal/supernatural books. This year I remembered this series and was happy to find that my library has it! I am happy to say that I enjoyed this!

The book begins with Suze mentioning the differences between New York and California. Her mother has gotten remarried and they had to shift to California because Andy her step dad owns a business there. Suze actually likes Andy and she doesn’t mind Dopey, Sleepy, and Doc (her nicknames for her step brothers) but she doesn’t like the fact that they had to move. Suze doesn’t share these thoughts with her mother. Andy makes her mother very happy and Suze is okay with that.

Her new family take her home. On the way there she notices again how different Cali is from New York. While they are talking it comes out that the school she’ll be attending is a very old building. As is there house. After hearing this Suze starts to freak out because she doesn’t like old buildings.

When they get to the house Suze tries to remain calm. Andy has put a lot of work into the house and has tried to make it comfortable for her. Once they reach Suze’s room she sees a guy sitting at her window seat. Only the rest of her family don’t see him. Suze can see ghosts and usually there are more ghosts in old buildings.

I seriously did not expect to enjoy Shadowland this much! It was so much fun! This book is written in first person told in Suze’s point of view. It takes place over the course of a few days.

I loved Suze. She is definitely my favourite Meg Cabot character! She was smart and a bit of a hot-head. She was tough and could handle a fight just fine.It was interesting to read about her experience with ghosts. And how the mediator stuff works. Throughout this book Suze trying to help people ends up being a bit reckless. She never accepts anyone’s help she goes solo. Throughout the book she decides to work with other and that it isn’t so bad.

The relationships were awesome! I loved how close Suze was with her mother and that she didn’t mind her step father. It’s nice to read about a good step parent. While Suze isn’t close to any of her brothers in the beginning of the book she does develop a good relationship with Doc. It was so sweet reading about! It wasn’t always rainbows and sunshine but they were there for each other.

The little I read about Cece and Adam was nice. I liked Father Dom and Jesse. Father Dom is the principle (and a priest) of the school that Suze attends. Much to her surprise he is also a mediator and does offer to train her. He was a nice mentor. Jesse was a bit clueless but sweet. This does take place in a few days so there isn’t really any romance. Suze does consider Jesse good looking but at the moment they’re just friends.

The plot was pretty good. Heather was realistic. There are definitely girls like her. It was also nice to for a change that Suze didn’t like her powers. But that didn’t mean that she was rude to people she still did all her ghostly duty without a lot of complaints. I admire her for that.

I only had two problems with Shadowland. There were times when Suze would talk about how good looking Jesse that it would become annoying. And while I understood why she did so there were times when I felt it wasn’t necessary. Also I find it very weird that in a matter of a day Suze is very popular. Yes she did save one of the students and threaten to break another students fingers, I don’t think it’s possible to get popular that fast. Nonetheless I enjoyed this!

Overall this was a really good book! I recommend this series to anyone looking for a completed fantasy that it more focused on the character development.  

Review: The Lie Tree

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The Lie Tree by: Frances Hardinge

My Rating: 2 of 5 Stars

To earn a secret so profound, I would need to tell momentous lies, and make as many people as possible believe them…

Faith Sunderly leads a double life. To most people, she is modest and well mannered—a proper young lady who knows her place. But inside, Faith is burning with questions and curiosity. She keeps sharp watch of her surroundings and, therefore, knows secrets no one suspects her of knowing—like the real reason her family fled Kent to the close-knit island of Vane. And that her father’s death was no accident.

In pursuit of revenge and justice for the father she idolizes, Faith hunts through his possessions, where she discovers a strange tree. A tree that only bears fruit when she whispers a lie to it. The fruit, in turn, delivers a hidden truth. The tree might hold the key to her father’s murder. Or, it might lure the murderer directly to Faith herself, for lies—like fires, wild and crackling—quickly take on a life of their own.

Beware spoilers ahead!

DNF 

I heard about this book through a GR friend’s review. It sounded interesting and I was happy to see that it was coming in my library. Unfortunately I didn’t like.

The book begins with Faith’s family traveling. Faith’s little brother asks why they are traveling and their mother says that it’s for their father’s work. When her brother mentions that they never needed to come for their father’s traveling. Their mother responds that this is a vacation for them.

Their mother then tells Faith that she’s happy that Faith hasn’t asked any questions. Faith is bursting with questions. She has the same questions as her brother and more. But as a Lady she is not supposed to ask any questions just do as she is told.

Faith claims that her stomach is hurting and goes for a walk. Faith then takes an about turn and listens in on a conversation with her uncle and father. Her father mentions that he is not happy that he had to come here. Her uncle then replies that they didn’t have a choice. The public believe that her father is a fraud and they would’ve all suffered.

The reason I didn’t finish this is because I didn’t feel anything. I didn’t care that Faith’s father was supposedly a cheat. I had no interest in continuing further. I’ve rated it 2 stars because the premise sounds interesting and the writing style was well done.

Overall I had no interest in this book. I still recommend it to fans of murder mystery with a hint of paranormal.  

Review: Dead Is the New Black

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Dead Is the New Black by: Marlene Perez

My Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

Welcome to Nightshade, California—a small town full of secrets. It’s home to the pyschic Giordano sisters, who have a way of getting mixed up in mysteries. During their investigations, they run across everything from pom-pom-shaking vampires to shape-shifting boyfriends to a clue-spewing jukebox. With their psychic powers and some sisterly support, they can crack any case!

Teenage girls are being mysteriously attacked all over town, including at Nightshade High School, where Daisy Giordano is a junior. When Daisy discovers that a vampire may be the culprit, she can’t help but suspect head cheerleader Samantha Devereaux, who returned from summer break with a new “look.” Samantha appears a little . . . well, dead, and all the most popular kids at school are copying her style.

Is looking dead just another fashion trend for Samantha, or is there something more sinister going on? To find out, Daisy joins the cheerleading squad.

Beware spoilers ahead!

I had heard about this book series when I was in high school. But for some reason I didn’t read it then. One day a friend of mine on GR wrote a review for Dead is The New Black and I remembered how when I was in high school I was interested in it. Of course I added it and checked it out from the library. I am happy to say that I enjoyed it!

The book begins with Daisy coming to school. While walking in the hallway she sees her former best friend Samantha sporting a new look. One that consists of a lot of black and a coffin backpack. This isn’t the normal dress code for Samantha. But of course since she’s popular everyone else start to copy her.

For the next few weeks Samantha’s new clothing choice is all the school can about. It’s driving Daisy nuts. One day her mother comes home and mentions having trouble with a case. Her mother is a detective and she uses her powers to find the wrongdoers. Her mother has never asked any of her daughters for help. Feeling left out yet again for being human Daisy decides to look into the case as well.

This was better than I expected it to be! The book is written in first person in Daisy’s point of view. It’s really short so it made it easy to finish. The plot is interesting and engaging.

My favourite part of this book is the relationships. Daisy has a complicated relationship with Samantha. And Samantha wants to make it up to Daisy, because her intention was never to hurt Daisy. I’m glad that Daisy didn’t forgive her right away. It was realistic and made sense.

Daisy was close to her sisters. But there were many times in the book where Daisy felt left out because she was human and her sisters were keeping secrets from her. They didn’t do it to hurt Daisy. It was a realistic relationship and well done. While they did fight here-and-there they still cared for each other.

The powers were pretty cool! Rose (Daisy’s oldest sister) could read minds. Poppy (Daisy’s second oldest sister) could use telekinesis and her mother could read objects and tell you who touched it and so forth. There is an actual name for her mothers powers but I’ve forgotten it.

I did have three problems with Dead Is the New Black. I guess because this was so short I didn’t really get to know Daisy. I ended up feeling indifferent to her. The murder mystery wasn’t that good. It was pretty easy to figure out who the vampire was based on a certain clue. The romance between Ryan and Daisy came out of nowhere. One minute Daisy is telling you that Ryan has had a crush on Samantha since sixth grade. Then all of a sudden Ryan likes her. Part of it probably was because Daisy didn’t believe Ryan liked her that way. Nonetheless this was still a fun read!

Overall this was a fun book! I recommend it to people who are looking for a fast supernatural mystery series.  

Review: A Darker Shade of Sorcery

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A Darker Shade of Sorcery by: William Collins 

My Rating: 2 of 5 Stars

The lonely and grieving Evan Umbra is the newest Venator to enter Veneseron, the school for demon hunters.

A Venator is a wizard, a spy and a demon hunter rolled into one. They’re taught how to wield their sorcery and enchanted weaponry by orcs, elfpires and aliens alike.
Their missions range from battling monsters and saving countless lives in the multiple worlds, to the more peculiar, like wrangling killer unicorns and calming down drunken yetis.
In their free time Venators enjoy goblin soap-opera’s and underwater bubble travel, but they also understand that every new mission they’re given could be their last.
Whilst learning how to manipulate the elements, summon magical creatures and shoot Spellzookas, Evan meets a girl who makes him feel nauseous; but in a good way.

He makes the first friends he’s ever had in the carefree Jed and the reckless Brooke. Whilst Jed gets on the wrong side of a rival Venator, Brooke finds herself falling for the enigmatic demon hunter who brought her to Veneseron, not knowing he isn’t quite human. But it soon becomes apparent that Evan is more than just a Venator. Everyone wants to kill or capture him, from demons to Dark-Venators and even people he’s supposed to be able to trust.

Evan reckons he probably won’t survive his first year at Veneseron.

Beware spoilers ahead!

DNF

I received this E-ARC via the author in exchange for an honest review.

When I got the email from Collins asking me to read A Darker Shade of Sorcery I immediately said yes! I love fantasy and paranormal books! This sounded right up my alley. Unfortunately I did not enjoy this.

The book begins with Evan mentioning that his grandmother recently passed away. He is constantly haunted by her death and has nightmares about her. It doesn’t help that he has bullies bothering him everywhere he goes.

While trying yet again to outrun the bullies a monster appears. At first Evan doesn’t notice anything as his back is toward the monster. But the bullies faces go pale and one of them is murdered by the monster. Then Evan turns around and finds himself face-to-face with a horrifying monster. The monster speaks to him and kidnaps him.

This was a case of ‘It’s not you but me.’ As I continued to read I felt no connection to the story. While the pace was fast and it was engaging I felt nothing. I should’ve felt really bad for Evan but even when he mentioned his grandmother it didn’t pull on my heart strings. I have given this book a two star because the premise sounds interesting.

Overall this book was not for me. I recommend it to anyone looking for a good fantasy series.

Review: Dark Tide

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Dark Tide by: Jennifer Donnelly 

My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Once a lost and confused princess, Serafina is now a confident leader of the Black Fin Resistance (BFR). While she works on sabotaging her enemy and enlisting allies for battle, her friends face challenges of their own. Ling is in the hold of Rafe Mfeme’s giant trawler, on her way to a prison camp. Becca meets up with Astrid and learns why the Ondalinian mermaid is always so angry: she is hiding a shameful secret. Ava can’t return home, because death riders await her arrival. And it is getting more and more difficult for Mahdi, Serafina’s betrothed, to keep up the ruse that he is in love with Lucia Volerno. If Lucia’s parents become suspicious, his life–and all of Sera’s hopes–will be extinguished. Political intrigue, dangerous liaisons, and spine-tingling suspense swirl like a maelstrom in this penultimate book in the WaterFire saga

Beware spoilers ahead!

This book series was recommended to me by my dear GR friend Alyssa! Click on her name to read her review.

After finishing Rogue Wave I needed to read Dark Tide! That ending was very cruel. I have no idea how people managed to wait until October 2015 to read this book. I am happy to say that I enjoyed this! 

The book begins with a prologue in Astrid’s point of view. Astrid is on her way home. It’s been quite the journey and she’s nearly there. So far she’s managed to dodge the Death Riders. She stays in a hotel to rest for the night. As she gets ready to sleep the man with fully black eyes appears in the mirror. He knows Astrid’s secret and reaches out to her. Astrid feels drawn to him and does the same. Right before he can pull her through the mirror she sees that he has no iris. She jumps back and runs.

We are then taken to the first chapter in Sera’s point of view. It’s been two months since the events of Rogue Wave and she is now in charge of the Black Fins Resistance. With the help of Madhi they plan to steal some gold from her uncle Vallerio.

Neela and Yaz are apart of the Black Fins as well. Yaz is Sera’s second in command. Once they have their plan set they make their way to the palace. Mahdi pretending to love Lucia holds a party for her as a distraction while the Black Fins steal the gold. The plan goes a bit wrong and they are discovered. Still managing to make it out with the gold Sera and Sophia run.

While trying to outrun the Death Riders they come across a secret room. The two decide to rest for a bit because Sera’s tail is severely injured. As Sera takes in her surroundings she realizes that the room has statues of the Six the girls are descended from. And in the statues are their talisman’s. Sera makes a mental take and contacts the girls.

Dark Tide was much better than Rogue Wave! There are multiple point of views in this book. The author did a good job balancing all of them along with the plot. There is a larger focus on politics and new allegiances are made.

Sera now in charge of the Black Fin’s has become an inspiring leader. Throughout the book she continues to address issues such as food and shelter, without losing hope. Her relationship with Yaz was really sweet! Madhi doesn’t really come in but their still going strong.

Ling finds herself in a terrible situation. After finding out that Orfeo is alive she has been sent to a work camp to look for one of the talisman’s. Throughout her journey she fights for her survival. She realizes that not every strong person is going to remain strong forever, and that her mother was never weak. While at the camp she also meets someone   from her past.

Becca run into Astrid while searching for the talisman. The two of them become friends. Becca’s past is revealed in this book. It was quite sad. Once the two of them separate Becca searches for her talisman. Along the way she realizes that not everything goes according to plan.

Astrid is hiding a secret. While I didn’t find it that bad it really brought Astrid’s self esteem down. When she meets Becca she finds herself becoming friends with Becca. This goes against all her raising as she’s not supposed to be emotional. Once they separate Astrid returns home to terrible news. She meets someone very important and sets off with said person. Astrid realizes she has nothing to fear about her secret. She decides to do things her way and let people into her life.

Neela is present in the book but she doesn’t come in. Ava and Lucia’s point of views do come in. Surprisingly Lucia comes in more than Ava and Neela. As usual the female friendship was amazing! Becca and Astrid get love interests. I am looking forward to see where that goes. I also love the sibling relationship in this book! I liked Dark Tide way more than Rogue Wave! 

I didn’t have any issues with Dark Tide. But if I had to think of something I would say that I would’ve liked to read more about Ava. I feel like I don’t even know Ava. I’m sure she’ll become a bigger character in Sea Spell as she is still looking for her talisman.

Overall this was a great book! I recommend this series to anyone looking for a good mermaid series. I can’t wait to read Sea Spell which is the last book!