Welcome to my stop along the Goldfish blog tour! Goldfish, written by Nat Luurtsema, is a young adult book about swimming and the Olympics so all of us on the blog tour are posting about swimmers and swimming and the Olympics. Nat is guest posting a lot, too, so this is a really fun tour to be on and I’m happy to be a part of it.
I absolutely love books that make the ocean or other body of water one of the main settings of the story, so for my post I’ve written up a list of books I love that take place in or on the water! Some of these books take place on boats, ships, and lifeboats. I’m also highlighting books about mermaids and books that take place in underwater worlds. I even threw in a couple that feature swimmers aspiring to make it to the olympics just like our heroine, Lou, in Goldfish. The book links will take you either to my review or Goodreads.
1. Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker
Clementine spends her summer on her parents’ sailboat nursing a broken heart. But it might not be the kind of heartbreak your mind just jumped to. She falls in love and spends a lot of time with her family eating disgusting meals made only from canned foods, eating s’mores by blow torch, star gazing, sunbathing, laughing, and bonding. I really loved this book!
2. Girl at Sea by Maureen Johnson
This book is SO much fun and SO underrated. This book takes place on Clio’s dad’s luxury yacht in the Mediterranean Sea with side trips to amazing Italian towns. The story has a little of everything: history, mystery, adventure, suspense, romance, and humor. We see clio go through a lot of introspection as she works through the barely-there relationship between a her and her estranged father and discovers what kind of person she wants to be.
3. Catherine and the Pirate by Karen Hawkins
This book is part of the Avon True Romance for Teens series, and I loved it. It’s no surprise that the story takes place aboard a pirate ship. I read this as a young teen, and all I remember is that Derrick St. John is REALLY swoony. This book got my hooked on pirate romances.
4. Of Poseidon by Anna Banks
A mermaid book! Emma, for some reason, can communicate with sea life even though she’s a human. She learns of her ability during a shark attack. Galen, the prince of Syrena, has gone to land to find her because his kingdom is in trouble. I love the characters and the humor mixed in with the more intense moments. Anna’s take on mermaid and Greek mythology is very interesting, and the underwater scenes are amazingly well done.
5. Renegade by J.A. Souders
Another highly underrated book. The people (humans, not mermaids) of Elysium live in a glass structure at the bottom of the sea. Who needs wallpaper when you’ve got whales swimming past you? It’s absolutely beautiful, even though it is hiding a very creepy world inside. Our heroine, Evelyn, has been brainwashed to believe life is perfect in this little “utopia” at the bottom of the sea, but when Gavin, a Surface Dweller, finds them by accident she discovers the truth. The descriptions of the scenery, the world, the feelings, and the romance are amazing.
6. Captivate by Vanessa Garden
Harlequin Teen Australia accidentally approved me for this title on Netgalley and it was the best mistake ever. This is one of my FAVORITE books. This book takes place in Marin, which is a gorgeous and colorful and sparkling underwater world. The city has rivers and gondolas and a modern colosseum where people go to watch criminals get thrown to the sharks in a big aquarium-like tank. When they look up to the sky they see the ocean instead. Their world is lit and warmed by light crystals that sparkle, and oxygen is brought down to them through air shafts. There’s a garden and a park with real grass. I could go on and on. I’m in love with this place. While taking a midnight swim, Miranda is abducted by sexy Marko and taken to Marin where danger and secrets lie.
7. Of Sea and Stone by Kate Avery Ellison
I’ve loved every book I’ve read by Kate (her writing is gorgeous), but this series is my favorite. Itlantis is a series of underwater cities spread out across the entire ocean floor. Aemi has been captured from her village at the surface and taken to the city of Celestrus to serve as a slave. This city has, what I can only describe to be, glass spheres that are suspended in the water. Each sphere is a library dedicated to each of the different cities of Itlantis. You can see sea life swimming by and light from the surface dancing. The libraries are filled with books, foliage, sculpture, fountains, and walkways. Nol, her arch nemesis from her old village, has also been captured and they work together to try and escape.
8. By Love or By Sea by Rachel Rager
“When a mysterious and ragged sailor appears in the seaside town where Alice Lind Frank lives with her grandparents, Alice is shocked to learn that the sailor is her childhood love, Caleb, who she thought was lost at sea.”
9. Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown
This book has a male narrator, guys! Anyway, this mermaid novel takes place in Lake Superior. I LOVE that the story took place here rather than in the cliche tropical location. Rather than hearing about rainbow fish and sea turtles, you get to read about sunken ships and the unexplored depths of the lake. We even get a mention of an ancient road down there. Calder is a merman from a family of human-killing mermaids. He was not born this way, but was changed to a merman after falling off a boat and drowning as a young child. He and his family are hell-bent on murdering the man they blame for their mother’s death, but oh crap… Calder falls for this man’s daughter Lily.
10. Tempest Rising by Tracy Deebs
I actually liked book 2 in this trilogy better than this one, but I figured I’d add this one because you kind of have to read it before book 2. Again, we have a book about mermaids. Tempest is half mermaid and has to decide by her 17th birthday whether she will life her life as a human or a mermaid. It doesn’t help that Kai’s a sexy merman who wants her to choose him. I enjoyed Tracy’s descriptions of the underwater world. The sea life and the scenery were so beautifully described, which is what made the story exciting to me.
11. The Lifeboat Clique by Kathy Parks
Denver, our heroine, is basically Veronica Mars. And she’s found herself a survivor of a huge tsunami and is floating around in a lifeboat with her least favorite people in the world. This book gets deep. There’s a lot of soul searching and healing that goes on out there in that lifeboat. There are some heart-wrenching moments, some funny moments, some horrifying moments, and some tender moments. I loved all the different dimensions of the story.
12. 438 Days: An Extraordinary True Story of Survival by Jonathan Franklin
Non-fiction! This is the true story of Salvador Alvarenga, the man we all remember from the news as having survived a grueling 438 days lost at sea in the tiniest boat ever. This man’s story is unfathomable, and inspiring. There are really no words that can accurately describe what he went through. So much detail is used to describe his day-to-day activities, the weather, his surroundings, etc. that I felt like I was there. He continued to amaze me throughout the entire story. I honestly have no idea how he was able to survive for so long drinking turtle blood and eating raw birds and fish. Every time I think of this man, the words “amazing” and “miraculous” come to mind. I really enjoyed reading it, and felt feelings of hope throughout. I felt inspired to do great things. I love it when books have the power to do this to a person, and that’s the beauty of survival stories.
13. Undercurrents by Traci Hunter Abramson
This book is a work of LDS (Mormon) fiction, but it’s not at all preachy so don’t worry. “Shaye Kendall, an Olympic-bound swimmer, has been in the witness protection program ever since she witnessed her boyfriend’s murder.” This is the first book in a trilogy that was really exciting and suspenseful.
14. Girl Underwater by Claire Kells
This book “cross cuts between a competitive college swimmer’s harrowing days in the Rocky Mountains after a major airline disaster and her recovery supported by the two men who love her—only one of whom knows what really happened in the wilderness.” This story is predominately about surviving your life after you survive a disaster. We read a lot about Avery’s attempts to deal with her PTSD and her efforts to pick up where she left off the moment her plane went down. It was a very powerful, yet sometimes depressing, portrayal of someone who has gone through the unthinkable. I loved the characters, especially Avery and Colin who ended up having to not only survive and cope but help three young boys survive and recover after their rescue as well.
Lou Brown is one of the fastest swimmers in the county. She’s not boasting, she really is. So things are looking pretty rosy the day of the Olympic time-trials. With her best mate Hannah by her side, Lou lines up by the edge of the pool, snaps her goggles on and bends into her dive…
Everything rests on this race. It’s Lou’s thing.
… or it was. She comes dead last and to top it all off Hannah sails through leaving a totally broken Lou behind.
Starting again is never easy, particularly when you’re the odd-one out in a family of insanely beautiful people and a school full of social groups way too intimidating to join. Where do you go from here? Finding a new thing turns out to be the biggest challenge Lou’s ever faced and opens up a whole new world of underwater somersaults, crazy talent shows, bitchy girls and a great big load of awkward boy chat.
Lou Brown guides us through the utter humiliation of failure with honesty, sass and a keen sense of the ridiculous. This girl will not be beaten.