Top 5 Saturday: Books Set Near/On the Sea

We’re back with another Top 5 Saturday! Just in case you don’t know Top 5 Saturday is a weekly meme created by Mandy @ Devouring Books and it’s where we list the top five books (they can be books on your TBR, favourite books, books you loved/hated) based on the week’s topic. You can see the upcoming schedule at the end of my post 🙂 This week’s topic is: books set near/on the sea.

This is a great topic that I don’t think I’ve ever answered in a meme before. Now that I’m thinking about it, I realise that I have a lot of books set near/on/in the sea, so it’s clear I love the idea of a story set by the sea or on the sea. I say I love the idea because these are all on my TBR (*cough*) LOL

It’s funny when I think about it because when I think of books set on the sea I always think of fantasy (mostly YA) and when I think of books set near/by the sea, a lot of the time I think about women’s fiction books that are set in the summer and revolve around quaint sea-side towns and have cute fluffy romances! That said, when thinking about books for this list none were the latter but one was the former 😂 I’m looking forward to reading all of these though and I’m really hoping I’ll be able to get to them them at some point this year!

Mi-ja and Young-sook, two girls living on the Korean island of Jeju, are best friends that come from very different backgrounds. When they are old enough, they begin working in the sea with their village’s all-female diving collective, led by Young-sook’s mother. As the girls take up their positions as baby divers, they know they are beginning a life of excitement and responsibility but also danger. Despite their love for each other, Mi-ja and Young-sook’s differences are impossible to ignore.
The Island of Sea Women is an epoch set over many decades, beginning during a period of Japanese colonialism in the 1930s and 1940s, followed by World War II, the Korean War and its aftermath, through the era of cell phones and wet suits for the women divers. Throughout this time, the residents of Jeju find themselves caught between warring empires. Mi-ja is the daughter of a Japanese collaborator, and she will forever be marked by this association. Young-sook was born into a long line of haenyeo and will inherit her mother’s position leading the divers in their village. Little do the two friends know that after surviving hundreds of dives and developing the closest of bonds, forces outside their control will push their friendship to the breaking point.
This beautiful, thoughtful novel illuminates a world turned upside down, one where the women are in charge, engaging in dangerous physical work, and the men take care of the children. A classic Lisa See story—one of women’s friendships and the larger forces that shape them—The Island of Sea Women introduces readers to the fierce and unforgettable female divers of Jeju Island and the dramatic history that shaped their lives.

I’ve seen some incredible reviews about The Island of Sea Women and after seeing an amazing documentary a few years ago about these sea diving women, I was really excited to hear that there was a story about them in the mainstream! What these women do is just so incredible and thrilling! I can’t wait to read this one and I also really love the cover 😍

In the second fantasy set in Eerie-on-Sea, Herbert and Violet team up to solve the mystery of the Gargantis — an ancient creature of the deep with the power to create life-threatening storms.
There’s a storm brewing over Eerie-on-Sea, and the fisherfolk say a monster is the cause. Someone has woken the ancient Gargantis, who sleeps in the watery caves beneath this spooky seaside town where legends have a habit of coming to life. It seems the Gargantis is looking for something: a treasure stolen from her underwater lair. And it just might be in the Lost-and-Foundery at the Grand Nautilus Hotel, in the care of one Herbert Lemon, Lost-and-Founder. With the help of the daring Violet Parma, ever-reliable Herbie will do his best to figure out what the Gargantis wants and who stole her treasure in the first place. In a town full of suspicious, secretive characters, it could be anyone!

Well, this actually didn’t come to mind when making this list but… Since it was already on here from last week, and I mean, it perfectly fits the prompt as well, I thought I might as well keep it on! (I’m sorry I’m so lazy!) I loved Eerie-on-Sea and can’t wait to come back to this creepy but somehow still quaint little seaside town in Gargantis!

Rumi Seto spends a lot of time worrying she doesn’t have the answers to everything. What to eat, where to go, whom to love. But there is one thing she is absolutely sure of—she wants to spend the rest of her life writing music with her younger sister, Lea. Then Lea dies in a car accident, and her mother sends her away to live with her aunt in Hawaii while she deals with her own grief. Now thousands of miles from home, Rumi struggles to navigate the loss of her sister, being abandoned by her mother, and the absence of music in her life. With the help of the “boys next door”—a teenage surfer named Kai, who smiles too much and doesn’t take anything seriously, and an eighty-year-old named George Watanabe, who succumbed to his own grief years ago—Rumi attempts to find her way back to her music, to write the song she and Lea never had the chance to finish. 

The cover though? It gives me life 💙 This applies to all Bowman’s book covers — they’re so vivid and eye-catching! Summer Bird Blue sounds like it’s going to be a heartbreaking story full of hope and I’m a total sucker for those books that will slay my emotions and make me feel everything!

The Larkin family isn’t just lucky—they persevere. At least that’s what Violet and her younger brother, Sam, were always told. When the Lyric sank off the coast of Maine, their great-great-great-grandmother didn’t drown like the rest of the passengers. No, Fidelia swam to shore, fell in love, and founded Lyric, Maine, the town Violet and Sam returned to every summer. But wrecks seem to run in the family. Tall, funny, musical Violet can’t stop partying with the wrong people. And, one beautiful summer day, brilliant, sensitive Sam attempts to take his own life.
Shipped back to Lyric while Sam is in treatment, Violet is haunted by her family’s missing piece – the lost shipwreck she and Sam dreamed of discovering when they were children. Desperate to make amends, Violet embarks on a wildly ambitious mission: locate the Lyric, lain hidden in a watery grave for over a century. She finds a fellow wreck hunter in Liv Stone, an amateur local historian whose sparkling intelligence and guarded gray eyes make Violet ache in an exhilarating new way. Whether or not they find the Lyric, the journey Violet takes-and the bridges she builds along the way-may be the start of something like survival.

I admit that I only *just* added this to my TBR after finding it while browsing GR for this prompt, but that’s beside the point. The point is I need to get my hands on The Last True Poets of the Sea now! How have I not heard about this before? The plot gives me a little I’ll Give You the Sun vibes (even though I’ve yet to read it lol) but also a little Words In Deep Blue vibes. Either way, I think it’s going to be an e-mo-tion-al read and I’m 100% here for those feels! 💙

Set in a kingdom where danger lurks beneath the sea, mermaids seek vengeance with song, and magic is a choice. She will reign. As princess of the island kingdom Visidia, Amora Montara has spent her entire life training to be High Animancer — the master of souls. The rest of the realm can choose their magic, but for Amora, it’s never been a choice. To secure her place as heir to the throne, she must prove her mastery of the monarchy’s dangerous soul magic. When her demonstration goes awry, Amora is forced to flee. She strikes a deal with Bastian, a mysterious pirate: he’ll help her prove she’s fit to rule, if she’ll help him reclaim his stolen magic. But sailing the kingdom holds more wonder — and more peril — than Amora anticipated. A destructive new magic is on the rise, and if Amora is to conquer it, she’ll need to face legendary monsters, cross paths with vengeful mermaids, and deal with a stow-away she never expected… or risk the fate of Visidia and lose the crown forever. I am the right choice. The only choice. And I will protect my kingdom.

I couldn’t make this list and not include All the Stars and Teeth because… I’m literally staring at it sitting in my book cart that’s right in front of me right now and… Yeah, I basically need to read this book. Yep, I know I’ve said this a million times already since my copy arrived a few months ago… 😅




  • 06 June 2020: Books Set Near/On the Sea
  • 13 June 2020: Books with One Word Titles
  • 20 June 2020: Books You’d Give A Second Chance
  • 27 June 2020: Books with Morally Grey Characters

Do you like books set near/on/in the sea? Have you read any of these or do you have any favourite recommendations to share?

24 thoughts on “Top 5 Saturday: Books Set Near/On the Sea

  1. What a great topic! I LOVE books set by the sea. Or really any bodies of water. 😉 I hadn’t heard of most of these, but I’m very intrigued by Summer Bird Blue. (And we know I’m also a sucker for books with Summer in the title. Ha!) I hope you get to read all of these soon, and enjoy them!


  2. The only one of these that I’ve read so far is All the Stars and Teeth and unfortunately I didn’t love it. I had so wanted to love it, too. However, I do hope you end up enjoying it and the rest of these!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • All the Stars and Teeth has so many mixed reviews… I know a lot of people who’ve said the same thing as you — about not loving it while some others have really loved it. With such polarising views I’m curious to see what I think about it 😅


  3. The only one I’d read was All the Stars and Teeth and I was so hype for it and I was a bit disappointed… I do hope that you enjoy it more than I did. Summer Bird Blue sounds so emotional!

    Also you’re so right. I also think of fantasy when I think of books set on water and contemporary romance when I think of books set near the sea. I was trying to find more pirate like fantasy books for this week but I think I’ve read a lot of the good ones already lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I remember reading your review for it and thinking “oh shoot, another person who was looking forward to it and was disappointed by it” lol there are quite some polarising views for the book! Curious to see where I’ll fall on that scale 😛


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