YA Books About Mermaids For All Your Fishy Needs

Whoever said mermaids were pretty creatures who sing on rocks and comb their hair with forks has clearly not read the mythology. Mermaids can be freaking creepy! And that’s why we actually adore them. (The darker and weirder the mythology, the better, right?!) And if you’re a fan of young adult books and mythological creatures — chances are you’ve kept your eyeballs peeled to the deep blue for some mermaid flavoured novels.

That’s why I’m here for you, to support you in your mermaid finding endeavours.

Here’s a list of YA books that feature our half-fish friends! Less sweetness, and more like hair-raising adventures swim here.


TEETH BY HANNAH MOSKOWITZ

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This follows the tail of a human boy named Rudy who gets dragged by his family to live on an island that supposedly has waters populated by magical fish that can cure anything. And Rudy’s little brother is dying of a lung disease — so his parents will do anything to help. But the island is bleak and barren and Rudy is so lonely…until he discovers a mysterious girl who never leaves her house and a boy in the ocean who appears to be half a fish.

Rudy is enchanted by this fishboy, known as Teeth, who is equal parts brutal and sarcastic, but also tortured and lonely. He’s abused by the local fisherman for trying to free the magical-fish, who Teeth sees as his family. Rudy wants to help save Teeth from this horrible life, but does Teeth even want to be saved? And if Rudy has to choose between his growing love for this fishboy or his little brother’s life — who will he pick?

 

OF POSEIDON BY ANNA BANKS

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This is a trilogy that stars Emma, who thinks she’s a pretty average girl living by the sea and just trying to get through highschool…except she’s actually a mermaid and of a royal lineage. (Thanks for not letting her know that, mother.) And it all becomes rapidly apparent that her life is not as dull as it seems when a god-like merman named Galen appears from the ocean deep to find her and seek her help since she has the gift of Poseidon — which is to summon fish and can possibly save all the mermaids.

He ends up gallantly posing as a student at her school and failing spectacularly (some people are better with fins then legs ok) between showing Emma that the ocean is nothing to be feared of. Except it kind of is, because the war for Emma and her gift is just beginning.

 

THE SEAFARER’S KISS BY JULIA EMBER

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Or how about a retelling of the Little Mermaid…except what if it was from the point of view of the seawitch Ursula?!

This story follows Ersel, who’s in love with her shield-maiden when she’s supposed to be marrying her suitor. When faced with the choice of picking her love or going before the evil king, Ersel goes for help from the god of mischief, Loki. This can’t possibly go wrong, obviously. So in fact it goes hugely wrong and Ersel ends up exiled and forever separated from the human she loves the most. So exactly what will she do to get out of this mess?

 

YA Books About The Afterlife

Death and the afterlife are huge questions most humans ponder upon. So naturally there are YA books that ask the same questions! Which leads these books to be about (excuse me while I aptly quote The Princess Bride) characters who seem only mostly dead. Life ain’t over for these folks! And the afterlife speculations vary from Egyptian folklore to comedy to second-chance situations.

So let’s have a “mostly dead” list of YA books about the afterlife.

 


9780141334479The Catastrophic History of You and Me

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Brie is 16 and very decidedly dead. But she’s also still watching her world play out in the aftermath of her departure. Brie has to pass through the stages of grief before she can move on — with help from Patrick (ooooh, cue romance!). The book balances humour and pizza and dark themes super well and is written in an addictive quirky way. Totally recommend if you like death and pizza.


9781634501736It’s a Wonderful Death

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This is about RJ who is…kind of horrible? And also dead. But she swears it was a mistake and is petitioning angels to review her case and send her back. It’s full of comedy and gallows humour as RJ navigates the many “waiting areas” of heaven and hangs out with the Saints and angels and meets Death who wears a Hawaiian shirt. AS YOU DO. She also has  gooey moment of learning to be a better person…because, well, the heat downstairs is a bit real now.


9781760373580Firstlife

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It’s set in a paranormal world where your life (as we know it) is only the “first” part. When you die, you choose between two warring afterlife cities and start your second life which is infinitely more amazing apparently. But Ten, the protagonist, doesn’t want to make the decision and ends up in an asylum to be tortured into a choice. Everyone wants to recruit Ten (because of SECRET SPECIAL REASONS) and she doesn’t want anything to do with it. But she has to choose eventually…OR ELSE.


9781743315101Afterworld

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This one is written by an Aussie author (cue cheering!) and takes a look at the more mythological side of potential afterlives. It’s heavily based on Egyptian mythology which is super interesting! The plot follows Dom who is dead (surprise) and in a waiting area. This place is full of super creepy Nephilim who force people to play in gladiator style games. So basically Dom has to complete trials and then a maze in order to get to the next level of death…but the universe is against him and apparently there are worse things than dying.


9781406350487More Than This

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This is a super hard book to summarise because it’s incredibly unique! AND GLORIOUS. (Of course it is…it’s by the literary YA genius author, Patrick Ness!) It’s about Seth who drowns himself…and comes-to in a strange world. Was everything in his previous life a stimulation? His neighbourhood looks the same except it’s entirely apocalyptically empty and dusty. He needs answers. He teams up with two unlikely companions and purses the truth of his life, or afterlife.

YA Books With Super Long Titles

Giving books titles is really hard. We can’t all have short punchy ones like “Power” and “Blood”, I suppose, so it makes sense that some titles get…lengthy. Super lengthy. Some titles end up as entire sentences, honestly. And while it takes us half an hour to recall and spit out the book’s title, at least we know it’s original and unique!

So here is a list of YA books with seriously incredibly ridiculously long titles.

 


9781782953463The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

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This is about an Autistic boy who discovers his neighbours dog murdered and embarks on a mission to find out who. And why. It’s an excellent story, honestly, and gives you a great inside look at what it’s like to live with Autism.

 


9781408309513I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You

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This is about a school for girl spies, masquerading as just an average boarding school — because OF COURSE. It features Cammie and the calamities she gets into. Because hey it’s hard falling in love for the first time when your boyfriend can’t know anything about you.

 


 

9781780339818The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

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Yes you will need about half an hour to say this title, but at least it’s beautiful?! I haven’t read this one yet, but it apparently features a girl named September and her journey through fairy land. Also there are keys and dragons, so what more could you want really?


9781471124594Me Being Me Is Exactly As insane As You Being You

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This story is told entirely in lists. Yes. LISTS. It might be 600+ pages, but it actually goes by very fast because of the list-factor. It’s about Darren’s painful life, where his parents are divorced, he doesn’t have a girlfriend, he doesn’t have a life basically, and growing up is just all round difficult.


9781442408937Aristotle and Dante Discover The Secrets of the Universe

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This is the kind of book where you just want to devour the beautiful lyrical writing. It’s incredible! It’s a coming-of-age story about Ari, a Mexican boy, who’s trying to figure out who he is and what he wants in life and if he’s in love with his best friend, Dante.


9780553497786The Smell of Other People’s Houses

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This is a story of 4 teenagers in the 1970s and what it was like to grow up in Alaska. The writing is absolutely gorgeous and sensory, so you really feel like you’re in the story. There are runaways, a teenage pregnancy, a ballerina trapped in the fishing life, and an abused girl who just won a lot of money. There is also delicious pie, so clearly this book is a winner.


9781406331165The Rest of Us Just Live Here

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This is a story about the superhero kids that save the world…no wait, it’s actually about the OTHER kids who no one talks about while those superhero kids are saving the world. It’s such a unique story! It features Mikey (who has an anxiety disorder) and his coming-of-age story while the world is being smashed about by those powerful kids. And the writing is just phenomenal. Highly recommend!

YA Books About Schizophrenia

Lately there’s been a rise of books that deal with important topics: such as mental health. I’m so in favour of this because it a) breaks down stigmas that we might have from not understanding the mental illness, and b) shows us that people are never just “labels” and c) helps us to walk in these characters’ shoes and learn more about how they live.

I’ve read several books recently that deal with Schizophrenia, which is definitely something I didn’t know much about before reading these books. And they are such endlessly good books that I MUST SHARE. I also highly recommend them, of course.


 

22864841Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

This book is absolutely entirely fantastic. It is about Alex who is a highschool senior and struggles to tell the difference between real vs made up. She’s solving a mystery at her school and also has met a very confusing and intense boy, Miles, whom she doesn’t quite know what to do with. I particularly adored this book because it presented Alex as a pretty normal person. YES, she has delusions. But she also has hobbies and dreams and habits. There’s witty banter and relatable high school experiences. It’ll definitely break your heart just a little though at the end there.

 

9781444799514Alice and the Fly by James Rice

This one definitely gave me the shivers. It introduces us to Greg who is a very unreliable narrator and suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. It really affects his life and he’s basically undiagnosed and has zero support from his family. They ignore anything “weird” he does. There’s lots of stalking in this one, but we’re so deep in Greg’s thought-process that it’s easy to understand why he does what he does. Honestly it’s a chilling book and it keeps you gripping and flipping pages. Also amazingly writing. Also slightly traumatising.

 

9780061134111Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

So clearly, after reading this, I am of the opinion that Neal Shusterman is a word GENIUS. I cannot believe how creatively and artistically he wrote this story! Apparently it’s also based upon his own son, who suffers from similar symptoms to the schizophrenic protagonist: Caden. Half of the book is real-life-narrative about Caden. And half the book is his delusions about being on a ship and the weird and nonsensical things that happen. Honestly? It takes a bit of getting used to. But once you’ve conquered those initial confusing first chapters, the book just opens up into this amazingly poignant story about failure and recovery.


OTHER SCHIZOPHRENIC BOOKS

I haven’t read these ones (that to-be-read pile truly is endless) but they look incredibly interesting and I’m keen to try them someday!

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I Will Save You follows the story of a boy with no family who works at a beach and is haunted by a best-friend/worst-enemy. Schizo is about a boy’s downward spiral into mental illness and an obsession with his brother and a girlfriend who might not exist. A Blue So Dark is about a girl who’s keeping her artistic mother’s schizophrenia a secret and therefore is her sole carer, all the while denying her own artistic urges because she believes it’ll make her end up like her mother.

Best Historical Fiction YA Books

I grew up reading historical fiction so I have an insurmountable love for it. It always brings back memories, you know?! Glorious memories of a childhood spent between book pages…and in tears because, let’s face it: WWII books are ALWAYS devastating. Actually history in general can be altogether nasty. But it makes such good stories.

And today’s list is about my top YA historical fiction picks. They’ll probably all make you cry. I’m not even sorry for recommending them.

 

H I S T O R I C A L   F I C T I O N

 

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  • CODE NAME VERITY: This book had me absolutely sobbing. It is such a powerful story of two girls blazing paths of feministic glory in WWII. One is a pilot. The other is a spy. It will probably break your heart. (Just warning you.) But must be, without a doubt, one of the best books I’ve ever read.
  • ROSE UNDER FIRE: This is a companion novel to the above, but can be read alone! It’s a little quicker in pacing and focuses on Rose, a WWII pilot, who gets caught by the Germans and put in a concentration camp. Again: tears. It’s so beautifully and emotionally written.
  • I AM DAVID: This is a bit of an old book, but still a story that absolutely sticks to my soul. David was born in a concentration camp, so when he escapes he has basically ZERO social skills or understanding of the world. It is so sad/sweet to see him struggling to fit into society and also find a home. BREAK MY HEART WHY DON’T YOU, WWII STORIES.

 

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  • PRISONER OF NIGHT AND FOG: Another WWII story, but this one is by the point of view of a German girl who knows Hitler. It’s extremely interesting to read the story from this angle and see how a teenage girl reacts. Plus it shows a more human side to Hitler which is chilling.
  • UNDER A PAINTED SKY: Now let’s zoom backwards to the Gold Rush era! This book just wins for diversity because it features a Chinese protagonist (who’s also a violinist) who is on the run to the gold fields with an escaped slave. Another female friendship that is totally awesome!
  • WALK ON EARTH A STRANGER: Another goldrush book! But this one has a hint of magical fantasy in it too, since Lee can magically “detect gold”. Talk about handy right? Until it gets your family killed. Ahem. This is more about the journey towards California, but the writing is just ridiculously beautiful.

 

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  • A MAD AND WICKED FOLLY: Time for Women’s Rights! HUZZAH! This is about the suffragette movement…and Victoria’s quest to be a painter and artist and not just get shuffled off to be married to some guy.
  • LIES WE TELL OURSELVES: This is set in 1959, where a group of black students are attending an all-white highschool. It talks honestly and brutally about the racism of that time…and oh gosh, people’s actions just made me so sick. It’s definitely a very important story to be told.
  • THE GAME OF LOVE AND DEATH: This is a slightly paranormal twist on the early 1900s, where Love and Death are personified people and have this “game” where they see if two unlikely people will get together. (Death trying to break them up; Love getting them together.) It’s a romance between an African-American musician and a white orphan boy…and in that era the odds are pretty much not in their favour. And oh is this book incredible!

 

 

YA Books With Royal Titles

I have a decided weakness for books with royalty in the titles. There is just something about picking up a Young Adult book that shouts “QUEEN!” that fills me with immense joy. (Probably because I want to be queen of all when I grow up?) And, as YA title trends go, this is quite a popular one.

Today I have a list of royalishly (that’s totally a word, shhh) books for any majestic reading cravings you might have.

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9781481441902The Impostor Queen by Sarah Fine is probably one of my most favourite books of the year. Seriously, I could shriek about it forever! I9780062360243t has a Slavic feel to the setting, plus much fire and ice magic, and a decidedly tortured queen who ends up on the run due to not having the powers she “should have”.

Shadow Queen by CJ Redwine is a fairytale retelling about dragons and princesses and wicked queens. What could possibly go wrong with this fabulous combination?

9781783443819The Serpent King by Zentner is set in a small gothic town and is about crime and cults. I haven’t read this one yet, but have heard marvellous things about it. It possibly doesn’t have actual royalty in it? But eh. The title is still amazing.9781408858615

Queen of Shadows by Sarah J Maas is fourth in the Throne of Glass series. (Apparently mixing “shadows” and “queens” is quite popular. Who knew?) It definitely is about the missing heir to the throne finally owning up to her heritage and beginning the war for her kingdom back.

9781423121367The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima starts off an intensely AMAZING epic fantasy series about thieves and magicians, and it actually has a queendom. I KNOW! Praise the world for a matriarchy in YA fantasy for once! It also has the kind of hilarious banter that you need in your life. I promise. You just do.9781409150725

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard is probably one of the most hyped books in the dystopian YA circles at the moment. It’s has a definite Xmen vibe to it, with people sprouting superpowers all over the place. The different classes have different coloured blood and rebellion is in the air. (As usual, with dystopians. The peasants are never satisfied, are they?)

9781741168693Iron King by Julie Kagawa starts off an intense series about faeries and magic and probably mayhem. I mean, have you ever read a book about faeries were everyone played nice? I don’t think so. The series also continues with the royalty theme with other books being called The Lost Prince and Iron Queen.9781406330366

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare is the second in the Infernal Devices series…and while it doesn’t so much feature royalty, the book is a whirlwind if maniac demon and shapeshifter adventures. Plus it’s set in the p9780545284134eriod times. Imagine clonking a demon while wearing a corset, okay?! These people deserve our respect for sure.

The False Prince by Jennifer A Neilson is a hysterical book. Honestly. You need this one just for the pure amounts of sass that runaway thief, Sage, manages to throw at people. This is all about impersonating princes and very high stakes (aka death) if he fails.

The Time and Place Book Tag

There are some books in my collection that I’ll always associate with the particular place or time in which I read them. It might be because I read a book on a memorable holiday or read a book at a significant time in my life, but either way, today I’d like to do the Time and Place Book Tag* with you.

The idea is that you take 10 (in this case I’ll only do 5) books from your bookshelf and share the time and place in which you read them. So here goes.

#1 So Many Books, So Little Time: A Year of Passionate Reading by Sara Nelson 
In 2006, my reading was really taking off and I remember reading So Many Books, So Little Time: A Year of Passionate Reading on the tram to and from work. My journey was a relatively short one and I distinctly remember wishing it was a little longer so I could read just one more chapter before I arrived at home or work. Sara Nelson’s enthusiasm for books and reading was contagious and my own reading increased after this.

#2 Dracula by Bram StokerDracula Bram Stoker
In early 2008, I was in the middle of reading Dracula by Bram Stoker when it was time to leave for Fiji to attend a family member’s wedding. I’d planned to finish reading Dracula before we left because I didn’t think it a suitable book for reading in the tropics, but alas, I couldn’t leave it behind. I have a clear memory of reading Dracula in the hotel room with the bright sunshine, palm trees and beach outside while immersed in the cold and darkness of Bram Stoker’s world. The contrast was unforgettable.

#3 The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
In late 2008 I was heading off on my honeymoon and took great joy in deciding what books to take with me on my cruise. (Anyone else do this?) I decided that The Chronicles of Narnia was a nice big fat book, perfect for lounging around with and I wasn’t wrong. I started and finished it on my honeymoon and read more besides. This book is also memorable for me because it was a gift from a dear friend.

#4 Dick Wicks the Magnetic Man by Dick Wicks
Books aren’t always memorable for me just because I read them while on holiday. During a period of poor health in 2011, I turned to the concept of magnets and read Dick Wicks the Magnetic Man – How Magnets Helped Me Beat the Pain by Dick Wicks. He signed a copy for me which I still have and his inspirational and personal story has stayed with me.

#5 The Martian by Andy Weir
In 2014 I went on a two week holiday to New Zealand and took my iPad with me to read a new release called The Martian by Andy Weir. It was a little known title at the time, and I was reading it each night in our hotel room and chuckling on almost every page. My husband asked me what was so funny, and after reading a few snippets, he said “stop, I’ll read it when you’re finished.” A few days later, I handed it over and for the next week, kept pestering him with questions like: “what bit are you up to?” and “what bit are you laughing at?”

Have a look on your own bookshelves. Do some titles stand out to you? Do you remember where you were when you read a particular book or when it was that you read it? I’d love to know, so leave your entries in the comments below.

* The Time and Place Book Tag was created by Jen Campbell, author of Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops.