Tea & Book Chat: The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler

*This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  This is no way swayed my opinions.*

The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler is a new contemporary novel releasing on June 2nd and once I heard it had been inspired by The Little Mermaid, I knew I had to read it.  The story follows a girl named Elyse who lost the ability to sing or even speak.  Elyse had been offered a record deal and opportunity to tour alongside her twin sister in Tobago and after the horrible accident she suffered, she began to distance herself from all of the people in her life and she accepted an invitation to stay in Atargatis Cove with her aunt Lemon.  While she’s there, she makes becomes friendly with Kirby and Vanessa and gets involved with a misunderstood rich boy who is being forced to race against his best friend in the annual Pirate Regatta because of a bet his father made. (I also have to note that the cover is freaking beautiful!)

I really enjoyed reading this book.  The beginning was a tad bit slow for me but the writing is so beautiful that I didn’t really mind my lack of an initial connection to the characters (which completely changed as I kept reading).  Being inspired by The Little Mermaid, some of my favorite parallels were the shell necklace Elyse wore all the time to cover the scar on her neck which took away her voice, Christian’s little brother Sebastian who I just wanted to hug and hunt for mermaids with, and the eels in the scene with Atargatis, the mermaid of legend that the Cove was named for.

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Elyse’s POV is fascinating to read from.  Because she is unable to speak, I felt like she paid such close attention to the nuances of others and the reader is able to get a supremely insightful view of the characters she interacts with.  The amount of growth that Elyse goes through and the way she handles the consequences of her accident are very real and very inspiring.  I admire her for standing up for what she believes in and for not letting the lack of vocal chords silence her.  The only thing that seemed a little bit unrealistic to me was the ability of the other characters to read Elyse’s lips when she would mouth full sentences.  But I loved when Elyse would write down her feelings for others to read because she always conveyed them poetically.  I think it’s important to read diverse books and I’m so happy to have gotten the chance to learn about Elyse’s life back home in Tobago.

I really felt for the Kane brother’s throughout the entirety of the story.  As I previously mentioned, I absolutely adored Sebastian.  He’s a little boy who is fascinated by mermaids and after spending all of his time reading about them, his dream for the summer is to march in the annual Mermaid Parade but unfortunately, the rules say that no boys are allowed.  It doesn’t help that his father is also less than accepting of his son and his interests.  His brother Christian on the other hand, who is the playboy of the Cove, does everything he possible can to encourage Sebastian.  Their brotherly relationship is really sweet.  While Christian is more interested in women and boat racing, his father has never acted lovingly toward him either.  Then Mr. Kane makes a bet with the mayor that Christian will beat his son Noah in the annual Pirate Regatta or he will sell his house to the big company interested in overrunning the Cove with Starbucks’ and other franchises unworthy of Cove real estate.  He does this without considering any of his family’s feelings for the house they’ve summered in their entire lives.

Final Thoughts:  The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler is a thought provoking read inspired by The Little Mermaid and is about the different ways a person can make their voice heard.  The story is beautifully narrated by Elyse who is incapable of speaking undergoes major character growth after teaming up with bad boy Christian Kane for a high stakes bet his father placed on him in the annual Pirate Regatta.  Whether you’ll be heading to the beach this summer or relaxin indoors in air conditioning, The Summer of Chasing Mermaids is a must read!

Rating 5

The youngest of six talented sisters, Elyse d’Abreau was destined for stardom—until a boating accident took everything from her. Now, the most beautiful singer in Tobago can’t sing. She can’t even speak.

Seeking quiet solitude, Elyse accepts a friend’s invitation to Atargatis Cove. Named for the mythical first mermaid, the Oregon seaside town is everything Elyse’s home in the Caribbean isn’t: An ocean too cold for swimming, parties too tame for singing, and people too polite to pry—except for one.

Christian Kane is a notorious playboy—insolent, arrogant, and completely charming. He’s also the only person in Atargatis Cove who doesn’t treat Elyse like a glass statue. He challenges her to express herself, and he admires the way she treats his younger brother Sebastian, who believes Elyse is the legendary mermaid come to life.

When Christian needs a first mate for the Cove’s high-stakes Pirate Regatta, Elyse reluctantly stows her fear of the sea and climbs aboard. The ocean isn’t the only thing making waves, though—swept up in Christian’s seductive tide and entranced by the Cove’s charms, Elyse begins to wonder if a life of solitude isn’t what she needs. But changing course again means facing her past. It means finding her inner voice. And scariest of all, it means opening her heart to a boy who’s best known for breaking them . . . (via Goodreads)

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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: P.S. I Still Love You By Jenny Han (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before #2)

*This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  This is no way swayed my opinions.*

**Warning! If you haven’t read To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before which is the first book in the duology by Jenny Han, there will be spoilers ahead.  You can read my review of the first book instead if you haven’t started the series yet!**

I can barely even begin to describe how excited I am to have gotten my hands on a bound manuscript of P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han which is the second book and the conclusion to her To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before duology.  Ever since I finished the first book I’ve been CRAVING more of the Song sisters and I couldn’t be happier to say that the conclusion did not disappoint.  P.S. I Still Love You continues Lara Jean’s story after all of the letters she has written to the boys she has loved during her life get sent out and she is forced to deal with the fallout.  There will be spoilers ahead so if you haven’t read To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before you should stop reading this review, go read the book because it’s AMAZING and then come back here :-)

While reading the first book I determined that Kitty is hands down my favorite Song sister and while I haven’t changed my opinion, I grew so much more attached to Lara Jean in the second book that it came really close.  I have to reiterate how enjoyable it is to read about such an inseparable trio of sisters.  Margo is the oldest Song sis but ever since she left for college in Scotland, Lara Jean, the middle child, takes on more of a parental role in caring for their little sister Kitty and also for their father.  All of the Song’s make family a priority and they’re all willing to go out of their way for one another.  (Side note: Lara Jean is always baking the most delicious sounding desserts and I would give anything to be able to eat a meal at their house).  The characters Jenny Han created are so real that I actually feel like I know them.   Han turns this series that is seemingly a YA romance into something that deals heavily with the relationships between family members in a way that is so perfect that it’s like cake for your mind.

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At the beginning of the second book, things between Lara Jean and Peter are just heating up before they’re faced with a series of obstacles to overcome.  Both Lara Jean and Peter make mistakes and another flame from LJ’s past gets thrown into the mix.  The romance between she and Peter is sweet, innocent and frustrating at times but in the most endearing way possible.  Lara Jean spends a big portion of the book examining her past and present relationships (romantic, family-wise, and friend-wise) and I love that she gets the majority of her advice from an older woman who lives at the senior care facility that Lara Jean volunteers at.

Final Thoughts: P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han is the perfect contemporary novel.  The characters are so well developed and it is an absolute pleasure to spend time in Lara Jean’s head and also to be afforded the luxury of being a part of the Song sisters in some small way.  The book flawlessly captures the bond between sisters, the innocence and excitement of first loves and all of the speculation that goes along with growing up.  I would be lying if I said I didn’t hug this book several times while pausing between chapters.

Rating 6

Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.

She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.
When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?
In this charming and heartfelt sequel to the New York Times bestseller To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, we see first love through the eyes of the unforgettable Lara Jean. Love is never easy, but maybe that’s part of what makes it so amazing. (via Goodreads)
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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: Girl Online By Zoe Sugg (Girl Online #1)

Before ever watching any video put out by the YouTuber Zoella, I had come across her book on Amazon and the plot of the story drew me in (basically, girl with blog meets cute boy).  I picked up a copy of the book from The Strand and I quickly moved it to the top of my TBR pile.  About halfway through I came across articles about Zoella and the controversy surrounding the book I was currently in the middle of reading.  It turns out that Girl Online was actually written by a ghostwriter (Siobhan Curham) and people were getting very upset about it.

It’s nothing new for publishing houses to employ ghostwriters to pen the books that most celebrities slap their names on but something about this felt different.  It led me to think long and hard about why I had such an off feeling about something I’ve accepted so easily in the past until I drew this conclusion:  It’s different for a person who develops all of their own content to pass something off as their own original work.  Despite the amount of involvement Zoella may have had in the initial brainstorming process, she didn’t put the proverbial pen to page and write the finished product.  This leads to dangerous territory because Zoella will inevitably lose some credibility with her YouTube fans.

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Girl Online was the first book published by Keywords Press, a division of Simon & Schuster created solely to publish books written by people with influential online persona’s.  This also leads me to wonder if Keywords will be hiring ghostwriters for all of the books they’re going to publish in the future or if they’ll take the Zoella catastrophe into consideration when making future decisions.

Overall, I struggle to admit that I enjoyed aspects of Girl Online.  It was by no means a favorite of mine, but it was one of those quick and easy reads that I need every once in a while.  I found myself actively acknowledging that the writing is poor and the story is predictable yet I somehow managed to form an attachment to the main character?  The story was FULL of common character tropes, cliched plot elements, and current pop culture references that will not date well. But I did enjoy the New York City adventure, the cute Brooklyn boy, and the blogging portion (despite the overly cheesiness of it).  I honestly think I would be too embarrassed to recommend this book to anyone because of all the issues I recognize within it despite my ability to like it.

What are your feelings on ghostwriters?  Does your opinion also differ since this time it involves a YouTube star?

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Penny has a secret.

Under the alias GirlOnline, she blogs about school dramas, boys, her mad, whirlwind family – and the panic attacks she’s suffered from lately. When things go from bad to worse, her family whisks her away to New York, where she meets the gorgeous, guitar-strumming Noah. Suddenly Penny is falling in love – and capturing every moment of it on her blog.

But Noah has a secret too. One that threatens to ruin Penny’s cover – and her closest friendship – forever. (via Goodreads)

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