Blog Tour: Captivate by Vanessa Garden

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Happy Friday the Thirteenth! On this very auspicious day I’m very honoured to be a part of the Harlequin Teen Australia blog tour for Vanessa Garden’s debut novel. Captivate. The cover is gorgeous and the book is a great read. Hope you enjoy my review and character spotlight on Miranda! 🙂

Title: CaptivateCaptivate
Author: Vanessa Garden
Genre: Mermaids, Paranormal, Fantasy, Young Adult
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Date Published: January 2014
Pages: 304
Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
In a glittering underwater world, nothing is as it seems…

For the past twelve months since her parents’ death, seventeen-year-old Miranda Sun has harboured a dark secret — a secret that has strained the close relationship she once shared with her older sister, Lauren. In an effort to repair this broken bond, Miranda’s grandparents whisk the siblings away on a secluded beach holiday. Except before Miranda gets a chance to confess her life-changing secret, she’s dragged underwater by a mysterious stranger while taking a midnight swim.

Awakening days later, Miranda discovers that she’s being held captive in a glittering underwater city by an arrogant young man named Marko…the King of this underwater civilisation.

Nineteen-year-old Marko intends to marry Miranda in order to keep his crown from falling into the sinister clutches of his half-brother, Damir. There’s only one problem. Miranda is desperate to return home to right things with her sister and she wants nothing to do with Marko. Trying to secure her freedom, Miranda quickly forms an alliance with Robbie — Marko’s personal guard. However, she soon discovers that even underwater, people are hiding dangerous secrets…

My Review:

A few days before the first anniversary of her parents’ death – and her seventeenth birthday – Miranda, her older sister Lauren and their grandparents holiday at their beach side shack on Bob’s Bay to try and escape. But during a midnight swim with Lauren, Miranda gets taken. Waking up in a mysterious place, Miranda is determined to get back to her family and her life. But a break out is not an option because Miranda has been taken to an underwater city known as Marin and she’s a very valuable asset. King Marko needs Miranda to save the city from his enemies and isn’t likely to let her go any time soon. Miranda’s only hope of escape is to hope that Robbie, the King’s personal guard, best friend and the very person who took Miranda in the first place, will help her return to her family. But with the dangers lurking below and Marin’s version of a sun memorizing her into forgetting her past, Miranda might be captive and captivated in Marin forever…

It took me a little while to get into this book and some time to warm to Miranda but once I did I loved getting to experience the world of Marin. The world building is one of its strengths and I thoroughly enjoyed learning as Miranda did about day to day life and the origins of the incredible underwater city. Whilst the citizens are not mermaids, I still liked the mermaid elements that we got to see.

Miranda is a character that I grew to like very much. Her bold personality and brave actions made her interesting to read and I wanted things to go right for her. She didn’t give up nor did she let her capture define or defeat her. I thought that she coped with her situation incredibly well. Her relationships with King Marko, Robbie and the other people of Marin were fascinating. I didn’t feel entirely convinced by the romance that bloomed between Marko and Miranda mostly because of the pacing but I do think they are a promising couple.

Captivate is a great start to what promises to be an interesting series. There are characters with some secrets and not entirely clear motivations, handsome love interests and a world that is nothing quite like any that I’ve read before. I’m glad I got to read this novel by Vanessa Garden and after the ending in Captivate am eagerly awaiting another instalment of Miranda’s Marin adventures.

Thanks to Harlequin Teen Australia for the review copy

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Booktopia | Book Depository | BookWorld

Character Spotlight!

Name: Miranda Sun

Nickname: Randy

Birth date: January 13th, 

Age: 16 (turns 17 during Captivate)

Appearance: Long chocolate brown hair, 

Family: Lauren (older sister), Nana and Pop (grandparents). Parents died on Miranda’s 16th birthday in a car accident. 

Personality: Miranda is brave, stubborn and determined. She believes she is dangerous to everyone she loves. She’s fiercely loyal and a fighter who will do what she can to protect her loved ones. 

Other Interesting Facts: 

• Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck is her favourite book

• Can appreciate beauty of Marin despite her captivity there

• Feels inferior compared to her sister, Lauren, and lives in her shadow

• Is not the most graceful dancer

• Feels responsible for her parents’ death.

AUTHOR BIO

Vanessa Garden

A bookseller and Young Adult author, Vanessa loves nothing more than immersing herself in the exciting world of books. When she is not raving about her favourite reads with customers, or mentally casting actors to play the characters in her next novel, she enjoys hanging out with those she loves most.

Vanessa is represented by Helen Breitwieser of Cornerstone Literary Agency.

Author Links:

Book Review: Luminaire by Ciye Cho

Title: Luminaire (Florence Waverley #2)
Author: Ciye Cho
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Mermaids
Publisher: self published 
Publication Date: December 2012 
Rating: 4.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Being the only human in a world of merfolk… isn’t easy. Florence Waverley chose to stay in Niemela, but things have gone awry. Secrets have risen and the prince she cares about has pulled away. All the while, dark dreams warn her of a tragedy that only she can stop. But in order to save the merman she loves, Florence will have to enter the Life Path tournament: a brutal test of fear and madness.

The tournament is a rite of passage–a maze where young mermaids and mermen battle to find their purpose. It is also a place where Florence will face grave danger: mermaids with evil magic, tunnels filled with sea fire, and guardians who wish to use her as a pawn in their secret plans. But will Florence be strong enough to survive the tournament… or will she perish inside it?

Everything hangs in the balance: her life, her world, and her love.

My Review:

Florence Waverley is slowly making a life for herself in the underwater world of Niemela. Florence thought things were mostly right with the world. They’d managed to defeat the Darkness and her romantic relationship with Rolan was blooming. But the newly crowned King Rolan has been acting strangely cold and oddly formal to his Luminaire – and Florence has no idea why the sudden change in attitude. In the days leading up to Rolan’s coronation

But Florence isn’t given too much time to dwell on her Rolan situation – the powers that be in Niemela have decided to move up the all important Qualifying Challenges and the Life Path Tournament in an attempt to get more warriors to protect Niemela from underwater enemies.

To help her friend, Princess Yolee, Florence decides to undertake the important test that every Niemellian must take in order to be a productive member of society. But with Truth Dreams haunting her and the unknown dangers of the Tournament to face, Florence needs everything she has to master the maze and save Niemela.

In this second book in the Florence Waverley series, I found myself falling as in love with Florence and the world of Niemela as I did when I read the first novel, Florence. Florence as a character is slowly finding her way in her new life and doesn’t shy away from the challenges she has to face. Even when her relationship with Rolan falls apart, Florence still manages to do all she can to try and protect her adopted land. She’s smart, brave and good in a crisis. That said, she’s still vulnerable and has moments of uncertainty.

The new characters that were introduced in this book were one of the highlights for me. Wynn, Mara and the others are fantastic. I loved their personalities and the unique ‘Mer’ness that they bring to the story.

Luminaire is not short on action – but it progresses at a rate that feels natural. I loved the pace and thought the concept and execution of the Qualifies and the Life path Tournament were brilliant. They was well thought out with lots of tiny details that really went the extra mile.

The vivid colours and beautiful scenery that I adored from Florence  were present throughout Luminaire and once again I felt like I could see everything that was described. I had a great time reading this book and can’t wait to see if there will be a third book in the Florence Waverley series.

The book trailer for Luminaire is just as gorgeous as the one for the first book. I think it’s very clever in that it shows everything that happens in the book and yet doesn’t manage to spoil a thing. And the colours are just beautiful.

Thanks to Ciye Cho for providing me with a copy of Luminaire. 

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon / Smashwords (ebook) / Buy the Book (from the Luminaire website)


Book Review: Florence by Ciye Cho

Title: Florence
Author: Ciye Cho
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance 
Publisher: self published (I received an e-copy from the author)
Publication Date: July 2012 
Pages: 336
Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Seventeen-year-old Florence Waverley is out of her depth. Literally. Kidnapped and taken below the waves to the mer world of Niemela, she is the ultimate gift for merman Prince Kiren: a human familiar tied to his side. But nothing is what it seems amid the beauty and danger of a dark ocean.

Every Niemelan has a role to play, from the mermaids who weave towers out of kelp to the warriors who fight sea monsters. But in trying to survive, Florence will end up in the middle of a war between the mer and the Darkness. A conflict that will push her between two brothers: Kiren, the charmer inexplicably drawn to both her and the monsters; and Rolan, the loner who has been pushing her away since the day they met. But in order to take a stand–and find out where she belongs–Florence will have to risk it all: her life, her heart… and her very soul.

My Review:

Florence Waverley is an outsider in her own world. Kids she’s been in the same class with for years still call her the new girl or the quiet one. After being abducted by a merman during a school field trip, Florence finds herself an outsider once more. A human among the merpeople of Niemela – a beautiful underwater world.

In this new world the ideas of work, order and purpose are the three things that Niemelans hold dearest to their hearts. Everyone has their place and is required to work for their society. Florence is out of her depth and has no role – except that for what she has been brought to Niemela for: to be the handsome Prince Kiren’s Familiar – a gift from his brother, the surly Prince Rolan, for Kiren’s coronation in a few days.

In this unfamiliar world where things appear to be perfect, Florence learns that there’s more to anything than meets the eye and that maybe you might be an outsider in your own world but can find yourself belonging in another.

I loved reading this beautiful story of mermaids and the incredible world of Niemela. The imagery was gorgeous. From the first descriptions of the underwater world, I felt like I could have been there along with Florence, experiencing the wonders with her. It was vibrant and the descriptions of everything from the scenery to the characters was in-depth and memorizing.

The world of Niemela was one that I enjoyed inhabiting whilst reading  Florence. In many ways it comes across as a Utopian society but as I was drawn further and further into the story I came to realize – much as Florence herself did – that not everything is as it seems on the surface.

The characters were fantastic. From King Iriego to the Wise Ones and everyone in between – I loved reading about all the inhabitants of the underwater city. Yolee was a fantastic best friend for Florence as she imersed herself in the Niemelian culture. My favourite characters were the two royal brothers: Rolan – the “Prince of Doom” who appeared to dislike and distrust the human, and Kiren – the younger prince on the verge of becoming a King but the cheekier of the two. I thought they were fantastic characters who could not have been more different. I liked how they interacted with each other, with the other citizens and also with Florence. Both so different and yet I found myself loving both.

I love good romance story and I loved how the romance played out during this novel. It’s not in your face – rather more subtle – and it felt perfectly natural for the story and it’s characters.

Ciye Cho has succeeded in creating a story and a world that is both beautiful and imaginative – who know there were that many uses for kelp? I recommend this story for anyone who lives reading about different worlds that are incredibly crafted  and descriptions that are vibrant and vivid.

This is the book’s trailer that I thought was fantastic.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon / Smashwords (ebook) / Buy the Book (from the Florence website)