Monthly Archives: September 2016

Awakened Fate seriesby Skye Malone

  • Awaken
  • Descend
  • Return
  • Abide (Novella)
  • Arise
  • Become

Reading a five and ½ book series in less than a week leaves one in a somewhat breathless state. That breathlessness is exacerbated by the fact that the series of books was extremely difficult to put down. However, sleep, meals, and showers eventually prevailed.

Rather than review each book individually, a daunting task in and of itself, this reviewer will look at the series as a whole. This reviewer will also dispense with his standard examination of the first 45% of the story.

Overall, the Awakened Fate series is a non-stop, action-filled adventure and Young Adults – as well as older readers – will get their money’s worth and well more. For those of you searching for a simple recommendation, this is a good point to stop and click on the ‘Buy’ button.

This reviewer has read so many mermaid–themed books over the past five years, that he’s lost track. While it has been fun, this reviewer has learned to recognise mermaid clichés. Although it’s hard for authors in this sub-genre to avoid them, it is how they are employed which makes all the difference. Skye Malone has artfully woven them into a thrill packed adventure series where they are hardly noticed.

The protagonist in this series is a 17 years-old red-head named Chloe Kowalski. She has spent all of her life in the American mid-west – Kansas to be specific – and has been blessed (or cursed – you decide) with a set of hydrophobic, nutso parents. The parental Kowalski’s have done everything in their power to obliterate references to the sea in their lives. Naturally, Chloe loves the idea of the sea, and as a result, has been grounded so many times, she ought to think she was a gopher. Her parents would no doubt like that.

Her best friend and next-door neighbour, Baylie, is off to see the other half of her blended family in Santa Lucina, CA and invites Chloe along. Being your normal late adolescent in a YA novel, Chloe agrees to go. She also fails to tell her parents.

An Awakened Fate

Chloe’s visit to the beach in Santa Lucina is one of those watershed moments in a person’s life. One of those moments where one starts to discover they are not what they thought they were. This moment sets off a roller-coaster ride of capture, imprisonment, escape, flight, surprise, terror, torture, threats to Chloe’s life, and duplicity. Lots and lots of duplicity. A lesser person would have cried ‘uncle’ after the first or second book. Fortunately, Chloe has a strong survival impulse. She also has some good friends in her corner.

Among those friends are two boys, Zeke and Noah. These two could not be more different. One is a merman – a prince to be precise – while the other is a greliaran. In case you’re wondering, these are beasts of magical origin, programmed to kill any merman or mermaid – referred to as dehaians – that dares to set foot or fin on the shore. Fortunately, Noah – along with his father and brother – is a changed being who has curbed his primal instincts.

While one may sigh that it’s just another ‘which one do I choose’ scenario[1], this one is different. It also contains an unexpected end. The reader is kept guessing until the story’s conclusion.

Magic

In a previous paragraph, I mentioned the ‘M’ word; Magic. The Awakened Fate series is infused with magic. This can be tricky, however. It is often used as a crutch to support a weak plot. In other cases, it is a driving force within the story. Skye Malone has done a brilliant job of weaving the magical element into the series.[2]

There are car chases across the country as well as numerous plots against Chloe’s life. One of these includes a demonic version of Dr. Cliff Huxtable. (The irony is intentional.) This reviewer could blether on and on about the worthiness of this series but Awakened Fate speaks for itself and stands on its own merits.

No matter if you are YA, NA, OA, or even OF,[3] the Awakened Fate series is a must read for anyone who likes a mermaid-themed thriller with plenty of action and a healthy dose of magic. 

My Rating:  Four Pipes


[1] For a more traditional version in a mer-themed context, please read The Fairytail Saga by S.K. Munt

[2] For a mermaid story with a bare minimum of magic, please read Urban Mermaid by Howard Parsons. This is a shameless plug, but I have bills to pay.

[3] Young Adult, New Adult, Older Adult, Old Fart.

Colony Island will never be great again The meme, “America will never be great again until . . .”, has been floating around Facebook for a few years. Accordingly, we decided to post our own take on it as a bit of Monday morning humour.

The image itself is of the Neptune statute on the boardwalk in Virginia Beach, VA. Neptune was the Roman god of the sea, but was eventually conflated with the Greek god, Poseidon.

The residents of Colony Island use the names Poseidon and Neptune interchangeably. There is a decided preference for Poseidon, however.

For additional information on the subject of Roman vs Greek gods, please visit DecodedPast.com.

Colony Island will never be great again

The god Neptune was one of many Roman sea gods until he was cast in the equivalent role as the Greek god Poseidon. Image by Habib M’henni.

I am currently rocketing through a 5 & ½ book series – the ½ book is a novella – which was categorized on Amazon as “Teen and Young Adult”. This caused a double-take as I had previously believed the ‘Young Adult” designation to be a polite term for “Teen Fiction”. It would appear that readership categories are built upon shifting sands.

Up to now, my understanding was that “Young Adult” (YA) covered the 13 to 17 years’ age range while the awkwardly named “New Adult” (NA) covered 18 to 25. Those readers younger than 13 were classed as Pre-teen, Juvenile, etc. The boundaries of YA are a bit wobbly as some mavens set the lower limit as 14 years whilst others set the upper limit as 18 years.

One possible reason for this inexactitude is that the 13 to 18 age range spans several levels of maturity. Given that boys are a year or two behind girls, with regard to maturation, it’s easy to see why the boundaries are a bit fuzzy.

The same holds true for the 18 to 25-year age range. Your understanding of life at 18, when you’re leaving high school and headed for college, is much different from that at 25 when you’re married and trying to hold down a job.

What’s more, the categories themselves are not universally adhered to. At the 2016 BookExpo/BookCon in Chicago, the manager of the IBPA booth was barely aware of the NA category and thus placed Urban Mermaid on the shelves for Juvenile books.  Based on this, any child receiving a copy for their birthday is in for a big surprise.

Just so everyone is straight on this, Urban Mermaid is for readers 18 and older. This does not mean the book is specifically aimed at the New Adult market. It is the author’s opinion that readers in the NA & Adult readership categories will relate to it more than YA readers. It was written in a style to attract the NA segment as well as older readers. Given that ISIS is regularly lopping off heads in the Syrian desert and the 2016 Presidential race makes you want to select “None of the above”, we could all use a simple, sweet, escapist kind of story.

Go Blue Devils!Throwback Thursday on Facebook is the day when you post pictures of yourself from days of yore; You know, back when you had hair, a figure, teeth, etc. Unfortunately, I don’t have a photo for today’s TBT. I have, however, included an image of the HHS mascot as well as a somewhat more modern version of today’s subject.

The Old Hopewell High School

I attended the old high school for 8th & 9th grades. We moved to the new High School in 1967. Some folks refer to the old HHS as James E. Mallonee. Although I will agree that this was the name of its final educational incarnation, it was HHS much longer than it was JEM and thus, I will refer to it by the former title.

The Old Coke Machine

In the cafeteria, which was on the floor below the auditorium, there stood an old-fashioned Coke machine. You’d put your hard-earned money in the slot, a paper cup would drop in to the vending area, and Coke would be dispensed into the cup. Sounds simple, right?

During 9th grade, the coke machine saw that the end was in sight and had a nervous breakdown. Some of the behaviours  it exhibited were as follows:

  • You’d put your money in the slot, a cup would come down but the Coke would never show up.
  • A cup would come down and enough coke to keep three students buzzed until school let out, would fill the cup with the overflow disappearing into the bowels of the device.
  • The cup wouldn’t make an appearance but the coke still arrived on time.
  • The cup would show up and the Coke would dispense but not in that order.
  • The machine would drop cup after cup after cup. This would often happen at random intervals without anyone depositing their money.
  • Then, there were the times when the machine would dispense Coke, sans cup & sans money.
  • Every once in a while, you’d get lucky and the machine would dispense the right  amount of coke into a single cup before you could even pull the money out of your pocket.

The New Hopewell High School

HHS Coke MachineWhen we made the move to the new high school, the old Coke machine stayed behind. One can only assume that it went to a retirement home for old vending machines – commonly known as a junk yard. There is a slight possibility that they took the machine out behind the gym and . . . well, you remember Old Yeller, don’t you?

There was a new Coke machine waiting for us in the cafeteria which did not exhibit the rowdy behaviour of its predecessor. None the less, it had a few idiosyncrasies of its own. This machine didn’t hang around very long and was eventually replaced by a machine which provided Coke in cans.

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