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review 2018-08-14 22:42
New Release Review!
How to Breathe Underwater - Vicky Skinner

 

There's a lot to unravel here, so bear with me. I'm still in awe of the profound emotional roller coaster I just experienced with this heartfelt story. Skinner has a way with words that elicits your emotions and keeps you engaged page after page.  
 
Kate is a fairly average teenager, save for one big exception, she's the best swimmer in the state. With her dad as her coach constantly pushing her to do more, be better, work harder, etc. there's a lot of emotional baggage tied into her sport. When Kate's life turns upside down after her dad's affair becomes public, it's more than just a relocation. It is the first time Kate really questions whether she wants to keep swimming now that she's not striving for her father's attention.
 
I imagine switching schools after growing up with the same team is difficult in itself, then add the pressure of being "the best", any kid would have a hard time. Kate manages to navigate her new circumstances with less than stellar grace and a few bad choices to makes things more challenging. Crushing on the boy next door is adorable and sweet, but navigating through an existing girlfriend and trying to make new friends does not make it easy. 
 
Kate's struggles with her new family life are an integral part of the story. Divorce is a difficult topic to write about, but Skinner does an exceptional job keeping things just the right amount of heavy without feeling overwhelming. It was important that we see how the divorce is affecting Kate's mom and sister as well. The camaraderie of their shared heartache is a refreshingly honest look at the emotional toll divorce can have on a family. 
 
Michael and Kate's friendship is the bright light in an otherwise tumultuous world. There's one particular scene that stands out in my mind where they sit in the hallway across from each other in the middle of the night eating ice cream. That sweet moment of friendship made me wish I had a neighbor like that, especially as I suffered from insomnia in high school too. I found their story endearing and frustrating at the same time. It is a splendid story fraught with awkward moments, sweet gestures, and a fair amount of hardship. 
 
I highly recommend this book to readers who enjoy a heartfelt look at what strengths lie in moving on and forgiveness. 
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review 2018-08-14 22:34
Review: Demon hunting teenagers, what could go wrong?
When Life Gives You Demons - Jennifer Honeybourn
Teenagers and exorcism, what could possibly go wrong? As if young Shelby doesn't have enough going on in her senior year of high school she is also learning to be an exorcist from  her uncle who is a priest. Learning Latin for fun sounds awesome /sarcasm.
 
As with most first jobs, Shelby is struggling with the responsibilities placed before her, especially when it requires her to miss her study sessions with her crush Spencer. Soon enough they will find out they have a lot more in common than they think, and Shelby will uncover a secret that makes her take her exorcism training much more seriously. 
 
While the story starts out light and full of teenage sarcasm, it quickly becomes an interesting exploration of demons and the power of exorcism/faith. Family ties and loyalty are an underlying theme woven into several relationships in the story. Shelby's quest to find her mother and her lackadaisical attitude towards her uncle are important throughout her journey into demon hunting.  
 
 I enjoyed every aspect of this gem of a story and would recommend this to readers who enjoy quirky young adult books. 
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review 2018-08-14 21:30
Tribal Affairs
Tribal Affairs - Matt Dallmann

Dahila is a genie who has been trapped for years inside of a stone, a consequence for the sin of loving a human. In the present-day, 16 year old Liana decides to wear her mother's charm bracelet for the first time since her death. Liana's mother had schizophrenia and ever since putting on her mother's charm, Liana has begun to see things, hear things and has been having strange dreams. In Liana's dreams, Dahlia is telling her a story, the story will help set Dahlia free, but it will also help keep Liana safe from Stefan. Stefan is another genie, an enemy to Dahila and now Liana. Liana soon meets Taffi, Stefan's son and together they enter the world of the genies and a tribal feud that has been raging for centuries.

Tribal Affairs is a unique young adult book featuring genies. The writing switches between Liana and Dahlia, Dahila's story being mostly in dream form as she is trying to impart information to Liana in a non-threatening way. I was first intrigued by Dahila's demeanor and story of being trapped inside the stone. The story begins right as Liana puts on Dahlia's stone, so I didn't get to learn much about Liana before she believes she is schizophrenic and is involved in the genie world. I was taken away with the rules, knowledge and powers that the genies in the story had. I was very interested in the different types of genies and what they could do. I would have loved to learn more about their world, feuds and powers. Liana is a relatable character and I enjoyed her interactions with Taffi as well as what Taffi sacrificed. Overall, a fast-past, young adult read with genies leaving me wanting to go deeper into their world. 

This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 

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text 2018-08-14 15:55
Reading progress update: I've read 70%.
The Hazel Wood - Melissa Albert

It's a dark fairy tale that isn't really doing much for me. I think that the whole thing feels kind of rushed. I am more interested in the fairy tale stories we are told than the actual action that is going on with Alice and Finch. And now I am realizing that this is the first in either a duology or trilogy and I just don't see how which means that I am probably going to read a cliffhanger.

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review 2018-08-14 15:47
Nice Look at Wonder Woman and Greek Mythology
Wonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons Series) - Leigh Bardugo

I did like this book though thought the flow wasn't great in a lot of places. Way too many things felt over explained too. And the action scenes were kind of blah. I did love how Bardugo brought in the Greek mythology in her story though (we revisit Helen of Troy) and I loved the whole idea behind it.

 

"Wonder Woman: Warbringer" is a nice little set up of showing Wonder Woman as a teenager who is doing what she can to prove herself to her fellow Amazons. Due to her mother Queen Hippolyta bringing Diana to life through clay, Diana is seen as outside the Amazons by many on Themyscira. While Diana prepares to run a race, she sees a young woman (Alia Keralis) in the ocean about to drown, deciding to save her, Diana sets things in motions that could see the end of Themyscira and the World of Men. When Diana goes to visit the Oracle and is told that Alia is a Warbringer (a direct descendant of Helen of Troy) and the best thing she can do is to let Alia die, she decides to do what it takes to keep Alia safe even if it means traveling to Alia's world.


I really liked Diana in this one. Bardugo shows that she (Diana) is smart and capable. Diana may not know what the World of Men is like, but she catches on quickly and promises to be there for Alia and Alia's friends and her brother no matter what. I do wish that we had time to delve into Diana bit more. We know that she feels separate from the other Amazons and that she wants to be battle-borne like them, but it definitely feels like she has no one she can really trust or talk to until she meets Alia.

 

I love that Alia and Jason (her brother) are portrayed as black. I initially thought due to the last names that Alia and Jason would just be seen as Greek. Alia and Jason's friends Nim and Theo are also POC as well which was great to see. Nim and Theo are loyal to the end and there are hints of romance between Alia and Theo that we really don't get into since most of the book is the five of them running from attackers. 

 

I wish that all had been developed a bit more too. Diana is the best developed, but Alia, Jason, Theo and Nim felt a bit thin to me after a while. Probably because they keep running and are trying to figure out to keep the world exploding into war. 

 

The writing was okay. We are able to get into Diana's head a bit more. Maybe this would have worked better as a first person via Diana instead of third person via everyone. I think the book just got too jumbled after a while. The flow was not that great though. It felt like the book kept just randomly ending after a while. Also reading about people running for their lives and occasionally fighting is boring. Bardugo tries to set up a romance between Diana and Jason and it didn't work at all. I hard shrugged that thing and wasn't feeling it.  Same issue with Alia and Theo. I feel like it's a YA requirement to have love triangles or whatever going on in YA books. 

 

I also didn't like the twist/reveal since it made zero sense and just felt like it got put in there to show even more conflict. 

 

The setting of the book moves from Themyscira, to New York, and to Greece. I didn't really get a good sense of locations beyond Themyscira though. I think that Bardugo could have made New York and Greece come alive a bit more. 

 

The ending sets things up to show that Diana is eventually going to be Wonder Woman. She's totally clueless though and I thought the whole thing made zero sense since she should know what she looks like. 

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