Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Book Review + Giveaway: How to Breathe Underwater by Vicky Skinner

Format: ebook
Title: How to Breathe Underwater
Author: Vicky Skinner
Published by: Swoon Reads
Pages: 336 
Publication date: August 14th 2018
Source: Xpresso Book Tours

Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult

HDB Rating: 5 keys to my heart
Kate’s father has been pressuring her to be perfect for her whole life, pushing her to be the best swimmer she can be. But when Kate finds her dad cheating on her mom, Kate’s perfect world comes crashing down, and Kate is forced to leave home and the swim team she’s been a part of her whole life.
Now in a new home, new school, and faced with the prospect of starting over, Kate isn’t so sure that swimming is what she wants anymore. But when she decides to quit, her whole world seems to fall apart. But when Kate gets to know Michael, the cute boy that lives across the hall, she starts to think that starting over might not be so bad. There’s only one problem: Michael has a girlfriend.
As the pressures of love, family, and success press down on her, can Kate keep her head above water?

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. 

Born and raised in Texas, I don’t act like much of a Texan. I like cold weather and hate country music. I have a gorgeous husband, two dogs, and a Literature degree from the University of Texas at Dallas. If I’m not at home reading a book or doing laundry, I’m probably at the bookstore, nannying three rambunctious boys, or stuck on the side of the road with car trouble. I’m a reader, a writer, and a bit of a crazy person.


FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Monday, August 13, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (8/13/18)

Happy Monday, friends! If it's as hot where you are as it was here this weekend, please know that I'm thinking of you. Staying inside and reading this weekend was the best possible thing I could have done. I'm hoping you did the same!

Here's what I've been working my way through.

My reading has been a bit all over the place lately. I've been flipping between reading books on homesteading, comics, fantasy, and now a true crime series. Hahaha. It's nice to feel free to read whatever strikes my fancy. It's really helping me keep my reading mojo up! All three of these were pretty good, but I HIGHLY recommend The Backyard Homestead if you are at all interested in starting your own little self-sufficient space. It has diagrams and everything!

This was a review copy that I requested that I hadn't gotten to, and it's definitely interesting. Weirdly, despite the fact that it chronicles one hell of a "dark age" indeed, it's a little slow. Still, I can't put it down because I need to see these serial killers brought to justice so... *shrug* I'll let you know how I feel when I finish it.

I'm actually technically already listening to this as an audio book right now, but I'm closer to finishing Monster City so I'm counting it as my next read. I have a strong suspicion that this book is going to make me cry.

That's it for me! What are you reading this week?


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