Review: Into the Deep (anthology)

About the book:

From the land above and the sea below…

A merman and his brother are tasked with protecting what belongs to their people and failure is not an option. Two teens attempt to find a mermaid off the coast of Massachusetts before poachers do. A young woman finds herself amidst an eerie seaside hut and is drawn back to it. A family is torn apart by one teen mermaid’s selfish desires and puts an entire kingdom at risk. When two seventeen-year-olds witness their Prince threaten an infamous sea-witch, they have no idea how soon all of their lives will be intertwined, and what secrets lay in the depths. While working in an antique shop, a young woman is turned into a mermaid to end an evil curse against the mer prince in a twisted retelling of the classic tale.

From adventure to thriller, to urban fantasy, this collection features stories from bestselling YA authors as well as emerging voices, this anthology will take you deep into the heart of the sea.

Cover of Of the Deep Mermaid Anthology

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Review by Katy Haye:

An anthology is always going to be somewhat hit and miss, but I was pleased to find this was much more “hit” than it was “miss”!

It was a tie for top place. Bloodscales by Amber R. Duell had terrific energy and depicted an excellent, convincing friendship between Maddie and Bri – along with a glorious, chilling twist I didn’t see coming; and Tales You Lose by E. J. Hagadorn which was atmospheric, creepy and macabre – wonderful!

K. M. Robinson’s The Sinking had a nice twist and her Siren Wars was a good, solid action tale with the kind of mermaids we’re familiar with from film and TV.

I’m afraid I found Elle Beaumont’s style to be a little slow for this pace-obsessed reader and I didn’t finish her story.

Overall, if you’re interested in mermaid myths, you’ll find something to please in this collection.

Katy Haye writes speculative YA fiction. Check out the first book in her new YA fantasy series, Awakened by Magic, while it’s just 99c/p. Kyann only wants to save her sister, but she finds herself enveloped by myth and magic in the Empire of Charnrosa.

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Review: Becoming Alpha by Aileen Erin

 

About the book:

Tessa McCaide has a unique talent for getting into trouble. Then again, it isn’t easy for a girl with visions to ignore what she sees. Luckily Tessa and her family are leaving California and moving halfway across the country, giving her the perfect opportunity to leave her reputation as “Freaky Tessa” behind.

But Tessa doesn’t realize that kissing the wrong guy in her new Texas town could land her in far more trouble than she ever imagined. Like being forced to attend St. Ailbe’s Academy, a secret boarding school for werewolves.

Even if the wrong guy did accidentally turn her into one of “them” and doom her to attending the weirdest high school ever, Tessa can’t help her growing attraction to the mysterious Dastien Laurent.

When vampires attack St. Alibe’s and her visions pinpoint an enemy in their midst, Tessa realizes that boy drama and her newfound canine tendencies might just be the least of her problems.

Cover of Aileen Erin's Becoming Alpha

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Review by Katy Haye:

Not a glowing review, for once. But I’m pushing to meet my deadlines and I didn’t have time to read another book and post a review, so here’s my warts-and-all assessment of Becoming Alpha.

At one point this was a DNF, largely because I found our heroine, Tessa, incredibly irritating. Okay, so she’s been thrown into a strange new world (although she knows strange things can and do happen because she sees visions when she touches people), but she seemed to take pride in her ignorance and incompetence, refusing to read more about werewolves to find out about her new world and new self, and then throwing herself into danger and making everyone else run to her rescue.

Whenever she discovered anything new, or was asked to face her werewolf abilities, her thought processes went: “I need to get the hang of this, I’ll give it my best shot – Oh, it’s too hard, no way can I do this.” And then, of course, she was off-the-scale brilliant at everything she tried. Yawn.

There was a definite tendency towards stereotype: all the boys were “so hot” (and, natch, they all lusted after Tessa and literally fought over her at one point – barf), while the girls were split between allies and bitches.

I found her relationship with Dastian pretty toxic, too (even setting aside the fact he’s given her an incurable supernatural disease that’s forced her to leave “normal” life behind). I understand the appeal of a bad boy (vaguely), but he was needlessly confusing and had mood swings that probably needed a medical diagnosis, while Tessa was clingy, insecure and stupid around him – what a catch!

However, when I picked the book back up and persisted, the world behind it all was interesting and engaging, and the finale was full of drama, while the relationship between Tessa and the school’s uber-bitch took a nice twist and headed into positive territory.

Overall, it was a massive miss for me, but if you love Bella Swan heroines and moody, inexplicable heroes this might be just your cup of tea.

Katy Haye is short of time to read because she’s scrambling to meet deadlines and get her new series completed. Check out the first book in her new YA fantasy series, Awakened by Magic.

 

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Review: The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

About the book:

Love speaks in flowers. Truth requires thorns.

Travel to a world of dark bargains struck by moonlight, of haunted towns and hungry woods, of talking beasts and gingerbread golems, where a young mermaid’s voice can summon deadly storms and where a river might do a lovestruck boy’s bidding but only for a terrible price.

Cover of Leigh Bardugo's The Language of Thorns

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Review by Katy Haye:

I am an absolute Leigh Bardugo fangirl. I fell in love with Shadow and Bone, and wanted to move to Ketterdam when I read Five of Crows.

This collection of folktales from the Grishaverse is a sumptuous delight. Elegantly plotted, beautifully written and with an edgy glimpse into the darkness of the human soul which rivals the best of the brothers’ Grimm’s work.

There’s a brilliant remake of Hansel and Gretel, mermaids like you’ve never seen them before, and a sinister winter tale of desires come to life. But I think my favourite was Ayama and the Thorn Wood. I could feel the hot Zemeni sun and I wanted to cheer smart, courageous Ayama who refused to let her future be dictated by others.

And I’m normally all about the words, but the illustrations deserve a mention, too, because Sara Kipin’s extraordinary pictures added an extra dimension so I couldn’t wait to turn the page and discover what it would look like, as well as what would happen on it.

If you’re a Leigh Bardugo fan you’ve almost certainly already read these. If you aren’t, then grab a copy and find out what the rest of us are raving about!

If you’re hungry for more creatures from myth and legend, try Katy Haye’s new fantasy series. First book, Awakened by Magic, is available for just 99c/p.

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Review: Shade by Merrie Destefano

About the book:

Frankenstein meets Dracula in this gothic retelling of Mary Shelley’s classic tale.

A holiday in Switzerland is supposed to lift Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin’s spirits. She wants to forget the past and have fun. In fact, everyone in her party is running away from one indiscretion or another–from her fiancé Percy Shelley to Lord Byron to Mary’s stepsister, Claire. But from the moment Mary arrives at Byron’s villa, she knows something is wrong. He rushes her indoors and forbids all of them to go out at night, claiming that the horrible weather has driven wild animals down from the mountains.

The only person who doesn’t seem to be running away from anything is a handsome, young Italian doctor, John Polidori. Instead, he is fervently pursuing local folk legends and a new scientific theory that claims people can be raised from the dead.

But it’s not until they all challenge one other to write ghost stories that the real danger begins. In a nightmare, Mary envisions a patchwork man animated by Galvanism and she begins writing Frankenstein. Likewise, fueled by local legends, John writes The Vampyre—one of the first vampire stories ever written.
What neither one of them knows is that they are conjuring a dark evil. Before long, all of their lives will be in danger—for neither of these characters are imaginary. Far from it.

Cover of Merrie Destefano's Shade

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Review by Katy Haye:

I ADORE Frankenstein. It’s one of my all-time favourites and Mary Shelley’s book would definitely make it onto my desert island. Because of that, I grabbed a copy of Shade the moment I saw it (that glorious cover helped seal the deal, too, to be honest!).

It’s quite something to take such a well-known story and make a success of it, but Merrie Destefano has done an amazing job. Her writing is an absolute delight; the words just sank into me until I was there in the Geneva villa, watching it all unfold around me.

The scenes and events in the story are so creepily atmospheric that my heart beat a little bit harder and faster the whole time I was reading. Shade captures it all – sense of place, characters, foreboding threat, and Mary herself is so real – damaged and suffering and strong and utterly vital.

Oh my, I can’t wait for the next installment (be aware, the ending leaves you hanging, so you’ll want to grab the next straight away – I know I did).

Loved, loved, loved this one!

Katy Haye writes speculative YA fiction. Katy’s The Clockwork War, set in an alternate, war-torn 1840s England with a mechanical genius for a heroine, a dastardly duke and a hero who isn’t what he appears, is the first novel in her complete steampunk series.

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Review: The Ghost Hand by Ripley Patton

About the book:

Seventeen-year-old Olivia Black has a rare birth defect known as Psyche Sans Soma, or PSS. Instead of a right hand made of flesh and blood, she was born with a hand made of ethereal energy.

How does Olivia handle being the girl with the ghost hand? Well, she’s a little bit morbid and a whole lot snarky.

Her mother thinks her obsession with death, black clothing, and the local cemetery is a bid for attention. But when Marcus, the new guy in Olivia’s calculus class, stares at her like she’s a freak, Olivia doesn’t like it. And when her hand goes rogue, doing things she never imagined possible, Olivia finds herself running for her life with Marcus from a group of men bent on taking the power of her hand for their own nefarious purposes.

Cover of Ripley Patton's The Ghost Hand

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Review by Katy Haye:

This was a fabulous find. The concept of PSS was brilliantly imaginative, and I loved that it was treated as just part of the world. That wasn’t the story, the story was Liv and Marcus and what happens to them and their friends when Liv’s PSS takes on a life of its own.

There were some good YA staples: uncaring adults and a shadowy organisation hell-bent on controlling teens, but they were given new twists and written with delightful panache.

And the relationship between Liv and Marcus was beautifully depicted. Those first tentative steps when you’re not quite sure where you stand with each other … or even where you want to stand. Ah … lots of feels.

Perhaps Liv was a little too eager to put herself in danger, but I’ll let her off because this was a cracking read. Even better, it’s FREE, so click the graphic above to grab a copy risk-free!

Katy Haye writes speculative YA fiction. Katy’s The Clockwork War, set in an alternate, war-torn 1840s England with a mechanical genius for a heroine, a dastardly duke and a hero who isn’t what he appears, is the first novel in her complete steampunk series.

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Review: Scarred by Joanne Macgregor

About the book:

Life leaves you scarred. Love can make you beautiful.

Sloane Munster had the perfect life, until she didn’t. Now seventeen-year-old Sloane is trying to reboot her life after a serious accident left her badly scarred and emotionally traumatized.

Starting her senior year at a different school, she recognizes Luke Naughton, a swimmer whom she once had a crush on, in her new class. But when she smiles at him, he glares back with revulsion and she’s sure he’s disgusted by her ugly scar. No matter how hard she tries to keep out of his way, life keeps bringing them together and despite misunderstandings and guilty secrets, the chemistry between them sparks. Meanwhile, tensions are mounting at their school where bullying is rife and Sloane is not the most deeply scarred person.

Sharp with bittersweet humor, Scarred is an intense, beautiful, compelling story of life, death, damage, and fighting for love against all the odds.

Cover of Joanne Macgregor's Scarred

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Review by Katy Haye:

I don’t read much contemporary fiction, and books have to be pretty exceptional for me to read them even without magic or dragons or curses.

Scarred is utterly exceptional, another remarkable book from Joanne Macgregor. It was a slightly slow starter, and it was perhaps lucky I’ve read Joanne’s books before and trusted her because, boy am I glad I stuck with it.

There is so much emotion cramped in here. I laughed and cried, and I loved Sloane and Luke in all their messed-up glory.

Key for me in the books I read is that they need to make me care, and Scarred did. I cared so hard I ached. Loved it.

Katy Haye writes speculative YA fiction. Katy’s The Clockwork War, set in an alternate, war-torn 1840s England with a mechanical genius for a heroine, a dastardly duke and a hero who isn’t what he appears, is the first novel in her complete steampunk series.

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Review: Slay by Kim Curran

About the book:

Meet SLAY – SLAY do two things and they do them well: they play killer music and they slay killer demons.

When Milly, the lonely daughter of a world-famous opera singer, arrives home to discover that her mum has been taken over by something very evil, she finds herself in mortal danger. But the last people she expects to rescue her are the hottest boy band on the planet…

Enter SLAY: playing kickass gigs in the spotlight, and saving the world from demons in the shadows… Suddenly, Milly’s on the road with JD, Tom, Niv, Zek and Connor, racing against the clock to stop the demons who killed her mum… One thing’s for sure, it’s going to be a hell of a show!

Click to start reading

Review by Katy Haye:

Kim Curran is one of my favourite authors, and Slay was an absolute delight – once I actually set my hands on it. I got the paperback from my local Waterstones, and before I could sit down with it, 13-year-old Offspring grabbed it. Cue giggles and utter absorption. So, you get two recommendations for the price of one today, reader.

I understood why O loved it when I started. Slay is a fun, zip-along adventure with a glorious cast of boy band members, a girl whose ordinary life is ripped away when demons arrive on the scene, and fabulous, deadly Aztec-inspired baddies.

The writing is hugely assured (it always is with Kim) and highly visual. I felt as though I was inside the adventure with Milly and Slay, whether it was stealing priceless artifacts from a museum, sitting in the tour bus with the boys, or playing onstage with them.

I rarely share quotes, but I loved this so much:

“Milly hated him with an intense passion she reserved only for politicians and people who were mean to dogs.”

Slay doesn’t set a foot wrong and if you like absorbing, entertaining YA fiction you should get a copy. It doesn’t especially matter whether or not you’ve got an interest in either boy bands or demons, you’ll still have a blast reading it!

Katy Haye writes speculative YA fiction. Katy’s The Clockwork War, set in an alternate, war-torn 1840s England with a mechanical genius for a heroine, a dastardly duke and a hero who isn’t what he appears, is the first novel in her complete steampunk series.

 

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