About the Book

Title: Serenade
Published: 2014

Cover Story: Sure
BFF Charm: Meh
Swoonworthy Scale: -5
Talky Talk: Mamma Mia
Bonus Factors: Mermaids
Anti-Bonus Factor: Instalove
Relationship Status: Let’s Just Be Friends

Cover Story: Sure

So this cover is…fine. I mean, it’s not like annoying or anything, but it’s definitely not something to write home about (“dear mom, I just saw the best YA cover ever…” – that would be a weird letter, wouldn’t it?). I have no problem with most of it – like yeah, there’s definitely a girl, and she definitely wears a dress, and there is absolutely lots of water and stuff. Ok. Fine. But you know what? Lorelei, Our Heroine, is supposed to have curly hair. She is TOTALLY supposed to have curly hair! And the cover girl clearly doesn’t! Do you know how many movies I’ve seen where the curly-haired Ugly Duckling gets a makeover and she’s forced to straighten her hair to conform to a very narrow societal standard of beauty and then all of a sudden she’s gorgeous? …ok well right now I can only think of like one (looking at you, Princess Diaries and Anne Hathaway), but still. It’s annoying. Curly hair deserves a place on a book cover. Come on, guys. Also? There is a chance that I’m a little biased about this topic. Maybe.

The Deal

Lorelei Clark is enjoying her first year studying vocal music at an exclusive college on the east coast, when her father dies in a freak accident. Lorelei is shattered. It doesn’t help that her dad was the only one who supported Lorelei’s dream of becoming a singer – her mom thinks it’s a terrible idea. Determined to follow her dream, Lorelei goes back to school, but things are hard after her loss. When she receives a letter from a mysterious great-aunt Helen, inviting her to come stay for a while at her creepy Victorian house on the coast, Lorelei decides to go for it.

The thing is though, her mysterious great aunt Helen is actually a Siren: descended from a long lineage of women who have unbelievable powers in the ocean, and who guide the dying and drowning to a peaceful death at sea. So are her new-found cousins. And Lorelei is totally one of them.

BFF Charm: Meh.

BFF charm with a :-| face

Ok, I’ll be real with you: I can’t find it in my heart to be mean to Lorelei. Poor girl just lost her father, her mom is being a real stick-in-the-mud about this music thing, and the first year of college is really hard. I totally get that. So I’mma give her a pass for being such a lump, because hey – if my father died, I’d probably be super boring too. Also a wreck, obviously.

Swoonworthy Scale: -5

Here’s how I’m grading the Swoonage in this book:

+10 points to Gryffindor for the whole Beautiful Mermaid/Sexy Sailor romance thing (and yes, I know she’s a siren, not a mermaid; shut up). That ish is HOT. Helllllllllo rescue mission! Someone over here needs resuscitating!

+10 points for a Sexy Sailor. Tyler, the Sexy Sailor, sounds yummy – tall, dark, handsome, and, um hello, a sailor. He’s all strong and like intense and stuff. Yes please!

And then…

-5 for the Siren Seduction thing. But wait, seduction sounds like a very swoon-worthy thing, right? Wrong. Lorelei’s cousin Deirdre shows her how to use her siren powers to seduce men into doing anything she wants them to do – let her into bars (underage), buy her drinks (underage), pay for her expensive fancy dinners. This is not omg-you-’re-so-hot-and-interesting seduction; this is like hypnotism. Except that you’re hypnotizing them into doing everything you want because all they want to do is have sex with you…because they’re hypnotized. Does that feel a little icky to anyone else?

-20 for said siren-seduction-hypnotism thing going horribly awry when Yummy Tyler turns into an aggressive, won’t-take-no-for-an-answer jerk. NOPE. Gross. And after all that, Lorelei still wants him, because she thinks it was her fault that he acted that way under her siren-seduction spell? No thanks. I’m out.

Talky-Talk: Mamma Mia

This is a story about the time I made my husband watch the hit movie Mamma Mia. I promise, it’s super relevant.

Once upon a time, I made my husband watch the hit movie Mamma Mia. At the conclusion of said movie, I turned to my husband and demanded, “So, what did you think?”

My husband – who is not a fan of musicals BUT is still a nice person – thought for a minute and then very delicately said, “Well, the uh – the scenery was nice…like, gorgeous. Greece? Really pretty.”

So how was the writing in this book, you ask? Well, the scenery was divine. No seriously, the east coast sounds so pretty. Being around the ocean, the mists, the angst – all of that. Like, so pretty.

Bonus Factor: Mermaids!!!

Silhouette of a mermaid sitting on a pier railing at sunset

OMG are you kidding? Do you know how long I’ve waited to be told that, surprise, I am ACTUALLY A MERMAID?! Since approximately 1989, when I first saw The Little Mermaid. Look, I know mermaids are not exactly a new trend in YA, but I enjoyed going along with Lorelei as she discovered her awesome new water-manipulation powers. I will admit, I was a little jealous. I’d make a pretty rockin’ mermaid, you guys. Just putting that out there.

Anti-Bonus Factor: Instalove

Pipliup Pokemon with its mouth open and hearts for eyes

Let me see here now: Lorelei is sort of on the dull side, she hangs around an aggressive jerk, and then falls in love with him in literally a day and a half. Does that sound like anyone we *coughBellaSwan*cough know?

Relationship Status: Let’s Just Be Friends

Listen, book, I think you’re really cool – I really do. Like, your family? So interesting. And I admit, there were times that I really enjoyed myself with you, because you have a lot going for you. But um, as for hanging out again sometime? Maybe not. Let’s just be friends from here on out. That like, you know, don’t talk very often.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my review copy from SparkPress. I received neither money nor adoration for writing this review, even though I asked really nicely and said please. Serenade is available now.

About the Contributor:

Savannah Kitchens is a children’s librarian living near Birmingham, Alabama. She loves discussing Harry Potter fan theories, making lists, and baking pies. When she’s not reading YA books and graphic novels, she’s beating her husband at Scrabble.


This post was written by a guest writer or former contributor for Forever Young Adult.