ARC REVIEW: Aurabel – by Laura Dockrill

Title: Aurabel
Author: Laura Dockrill

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
First published: June 1st 2017
Publisher: Hotkey Books
Finished reading: May 13th 2017
Pages: 304

“Even when two paths spindle off, it doesn’t mean they aren’t going to meet up, once again, somewhere along the way towards the end.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Hotkey Books in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I admit Aurabel was a coverlove-request, but I was also looking forward to read another mermaid story. Mermaids are without doubt underrated creatures and there just aren’t all that many stories about them out there. Aurabel sounded like an fun fantasy read with the mermaids as a bonus, but unfortunately this book turned out to be a quite unpleasant experience. First of all I want to make clear that this book should have been classified as a sequel, because after some investigation I found out most of the worldbuilding is taken from a previous publication (Lorali) and it’s almost impossible to fully understand Aurabel with out it. A lot of background AND essential information is missing if you don’t read Lorali, and I felt a bit cheated on I didn’t know that beforehand. This lack of information might have been part of the reason I basically felt like I was reading a story written in a foreign language I could only barely understand. Things just didn’t make sense as all and I had a hard time even getting past the first few pages and chapters. Things only got better towards the ending, but I have to be honest and say I probably wouldn’t have reached that point if this wouldn’t have been an ARC. It sounds harsh, but somehow not telling the truth doesn’t feel right either… Another thing that bothered me is the horrible spelling in the forum interactions bit. I get that this is supposed to portray ‘superficial’ teenage fans talking, but 1. it was really hard to decipher the meaning of their comments and 2. I literally shuddered the whole time every time the dreaded comments made their appearance. As for the characters: I like how their different personalities are refleccted in their respective dialogues and prose, but I do have to see they felt a bit forced and unnatural. Some characters were also starting to get on my nerves… Furthermore, I had a hard time connecting the different chapters and characters; especially in the beginning they seemed random and didn’t make a lot of sense. Things did improve slightly towards the ending and the general plot is interesting enough, but all in all I had a really hard time reading Aurabel. Such a shame, because I was really looking forward to it!

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It’s been two years since Rory drowned and Lorali has been living the live of a normal (human) teenage girl ever since. Her safe life on land won’t last much longer though, as things in The Whirl seem to be getting out of hand. Someone is trying to take the throne from the current king and doesn’t hesitate to use unorthodox methods to succeed. Even if that means hurting fellow Mer… And it seems that even Lorali won’t be safe.

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I really wanted to enjoy Aurabel and I still love the cover, but unfortunately I turned out having a completely different reading experience. I’ve debated various times whether to just DNF it, because I had a really hard time understanding and making sense of the story; something that doesn’t happen often. I’m not exaggerating when I say it felt like I was reading in a different language, but I guess part of this confusion can be explained by the fact that it’s necessary to read Lorali first to be able to fully understand the story (which I didn’t and won’t). All in all a promising premise, but unfortunately I couldn’t enjoy the execution.


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BOOK REVIEW: Everblue – by Brenda Pandos

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Title: Everblue
(Mer Tales #1)
Author: Brenda Pandos
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
First published: July 29th 2011
Finished reading: July 30th 2015
Pages: 304
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“Stars pebbled the heavens and I vowed to never take the beauty for granted once we were back home, guarding the gate like it should be.”

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I have to be honest and say I wasn’t really sure this novel would be for me back when I downloaded it at Amazon. But since I could get it for free and the cover intrigued me, I decided to give Everblue a go anyway. Unfortunately, my instinct was more than right. I came really close to actually DNF this read, and that doesn’t happen often. The main characters were seriously frustrating; especially Ash; she goes from wanting Fin to Callahan to even Collin… Up to the point that I wish I could have slapped her and say: ‘make up your mind already‘! A lot of YA authors seem to feel their novels need a love triangle and Brenda Pandos is not an exception. The worst part: there are actually various love triangles in Everblue! I wasn’t a big fan of the prose either and I felt the story dragged at some points. I guess this story might have worked better as a novella… But even then I wouldn’t recommend reading it.

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Ashlyn and Tatiana are best friends, but Tatiana has a secret. Ash thinks she just has very strict parents, but there is actually a whole different reason why Tatchi and her brother Fin can’t go outside at night. It turns out they aren’t exactly human; they have to hide their secret and tails so humans don’t find out. When Tatchi and Fin suddenly disappear, Ash is more than worried. She just lost her best friend and she actually has a huge crush on Fin… But she doesn’t know what to do to find them. Will she be able to find them again? And what about the secret?

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Everblue is about mermaids, which is quite interesting since these creatures are mostly ignored in YA literature. I liked the descriptions of Natatoria, but that was about it. The prose was actually quite annoying at points and the characters bland and irritating. Still, I think the worst part of this novel is the fact that it has various (unnecessary) love triangles. The romance scenes are cheesy and it seems that Ash changes who she wants to be with with every single heartbeart. Irritating and not exactly believable. In other words, I would definitely not recommend reading this one.