Friday, August 31, 2018

Book Review: Foundryside (Founders #1) by Robert Jackson Bennett


Media Type: Ebook (ARC)
Title: Foundryside
   * Series: Founders #1
Author: Robert Jackson Bennett
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Pages: Hardcover; 505
Release Date: August 21, 2018
Source: NetGalley / Publisher
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Genre: Fantasy

HDB Rating: 5 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who are looking for a gorgeous new Fantasy series to get lost in.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
In a city that runs on industrialized magic, a secret war will be fought to overwrite reality itself--the first in a dazzling new fantasy series from City of Stairs author Robert Jackson Bennett.


Sancia Grado is a thief, and a damn good one. And her latest target, a heavily guarded warehouse on Tevanne's docks, is nothing her unique abilities can't handle.

But unbeknownst to her, Sancia's been sent to steal an artifact of unimaginable power, an object that could revolutionize the magical technology known as scriving. The Merchant Houses who control this magic--the art of using coded commands to imbue everyday objects with sentience--have already used it to transform Tevanne into a vast, remorseless capitalist machine. But if they can unlock the artifact's secrets, they will rewrite the world itself to suit their aims.

Now someone in those Houses wants Sancia dead, and the artifact for themselves. And in the city of Tevanne, there's nobody with the power to stop them.

To have a chance at surviving--and at stopping the deadly transformation that's under way--Sancia will have to marshal unlikely allies, learn to harness the artifact's power for herself, and undergo her own transformation, one that will turn her into something she could never have imagined.

Ah, I loved this book! I absolutely scrumming loved it! There's this little place in my heart that begs for gritty Fantasy. The kinds of stories that feature more than their fair share of backstabbing, and unbelievable twists. The kinds of stories where characters that I already love come to be characters that I can't dream of living without by the end of the book. That, my friends, was Foundryside. I'm smitten, and I don't care who knows it.

This story is heavily character focused, and I think it just works. Sancia Grado, our main character, is so much more than that just an epic thief. Bennett slowly, gently, draws the reader into Sancia's past, her present, and then leaves this beautiful opening for what will happen to her in the future. I was so attached to this proud woman after the first few chapters, that I actually legitimately cried when her backstory was revealed. Her character is an opportunity to showcase the damage that being someone's property does to a person, and Bennett weaves that whole story arc masterfully through the story. Sancia is definitely someone that you'll care about.

Further kudos go to the author for walking that really thin line between epic world building and forward plot movement. I never felt like I wasn't fully settled in Tevanne, but I also never felt like the book dragged to allow me to feel that way. I basically learned my surroundings by following along with Sancia, and seeing through her eyes. The dark alleys, the ramshackle homes, all stood in stark contrast to the shining campos. Bennett manages to say so much about equality, and the concept of self worth, without every actually saying anything at all. I can't even explain it to you, only promise you that it's a beautiful thing.

So, if it wasn't glaringly obvious, I have fallen in love with this series. I don't know what I expected from this book, to be honest with you. All I know is that it blew everything I have been feeling about cookie cutter Fantasy books completely out of the picture. This is good fiction. I absolutely cannot wait for more.



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.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Book Blitz + Giveaway: Twelve Months of Awkward Moments by Lisa Acerbo

Happy almost-but-not-quite-Friday friends! Today we have an exciting new release for you to dive into. I think a few of you out there might be able to relate to our introverted lead, Dani, and he struggles with being social. After all, a good book is great company. 



Twelve Months of Awkward Moments
Lisa Acerbo
Publication date: August 30th 2018
Genres: Adult, Romance, Suspense
Dani can’t wait for senior year at college. A straight-A scholar whose anxiety is a daily struggle, being awkward, introverted, and studious has become a way of life. She vows this year will be different. It’s time to move beyond her comfort zone, but that’s not easy.
Dani’s wild roommate and handsome best friend hate each other; her crazy family won’t leave her alone; and a new job forces her to be social. Unfortunately, when college romance finally calls, Dani is unable to answer thanks to a stalker who has her all tied up.
Can she stay alive long enough to find love and graduate?



There was never supposed to be a fairytale chance that I’d be the one in serious
trouble. I’m the studious introvert. The college student who actually went to school to
get a degree in something I love. The rule follower. The good girl. The last one asked to
the party.
Evil doesn’t care when bad things happen to good girls. Someone like me isn’t
supposed to have a stalker, a man who makes panic track through me like a virus, a man
who devours me like the cat in the Grimm fairytale. But here I am.

I try to twist my head away, his palm smashes into my face, hitting my cheek and
ear. Pain rings through my head. He draws back, knowing I’m trapped in my own living
room. Dread coils in my stomach. Nausea ripens like week old bananas.
“This is what you want.” He spits the words. “This has always been what you
wanted from the first day we met. I hate when women play games. For a while, I
believed you might be different, but you’re not.”
He inches towards me again, his fist raised, clenched and trembling. I’m unable
to speak. I gag on my breath.
“Or is this what you want?” His hand squeezes my arm so hard, I yelp. One small
part of my brain realizes this might be my last chance to act. A sob escapes as I rip my
arm away and run. But where can I go? I’m terrified of what follows.
“Damn it, Dani! There is nowhere to go. What do you think you’re trying to do?”
His voice is placating and whiny at the same time. Time slows as I sprint from the living
room to the bedroom. My thoughts flee back to my ordinary life a few months ago.



Lisa Acerbo is a high school teacher and adjunct faculty at the University of Phoenix. She lives in Connecticut with her husband, daughters, two dogs, and horse. When not writing, she mountain bikes, hikes, and tries to pursue some type of further education.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Book Blitz + Giveaway: Eight Goodbyes by Christine Brae


Eight Goodbyes
Christine Brae
Published by: Vesuvian Books
Publication date: August 28th 2018
Genres: Adult, Romance
One universe, nine planets, 204 countries, 809 islands and 7 seas, and I had the privilege of meeting you.” –Unknown
When Tessa Talman meets Simon Fremont for the first time, not only is she attracted to him, she’s intrigued by how different their lives are. He’s a dedicated scientist, practical, pragmatic, and grounded—while she’s a head-in-the-clouds romance author. As their relationship grows, they agree to meet in places around the world, while continuing to live on opposite sides of the globe.
Though their feelings for each other deepen, their priorities remain the same. Simon is in a hurry to be financially sound and settle down, but Tessa is enjoying her freedom and newfound success. Neither is willing to give in, but as each goodbye gets harder, Tessa begins to wonder whether fame is the path to happiness, or if she has everything she needs in Simon.
Just as Tessa finds the courage to go after her own happily ever after, the unthinkable happens, separating them in ways they never imagined.
To move forward, she must let go of the past, and determine once and for all if love is truly more powerful than the pain of goodbye.

“Who knows you’re here?” she asked.
“You mean, specifically here? In Hong Kong?”
She nodded.
“No one. My family and friends think I’m traveling for work.”
“Ah. So if anything happened to you, how do they know where to look?” she asked, her chin resting on the palm of her hand.
“Well, when they find my phone and the one thousand pictures of you, they’ll know,” he said.
She laughed. Rather uncomfortably. This is what having an affair feels like. It’s you and him and no one else.
“Adrian doesn’t know I’m here.” This time he leaned forward, closer to her. “Does Riley know you’re here?”
“She has to. Even if I don’t tell her directly, Jake knows. He’s very protective that way. Needs to know where I go, who I’m with.”
“You seem so attached, the two of you.”
“He’s the only constant in my life.”
He stayed silent. She hadn’t intended to offend him with that comment. But then she decided that it was too soon to even think of his role in her life.
That was the real crux of the matter, and she wanted to keep it top of mind.
What about you, your parents? Do you see them often while you’re home?”
He laughed. “As a matter of fact, I have dinner with them every Sunday. They don’t live far from my old apartment. I’m moving to Chelsea when I get back which is a little further away, but I know my mum will find every excuse to come and visit. I’ll be too close to the shopping area for her to resist. She likes to get out sometimes. Leave the farm.”
“We’re lucky we have family we can count on,” she said.
“But none of them know we’re together,” he said, his tone lowered, quiet.
“Why does anyone need to know? Who cares?” she asked in defiance. She observed the way he picked up another dumpling with his chopsticks and shoved the whole thing in his mouth. “Okay, let me rephrase that,” she said. “In time, they’ll know.”
He smiled. “Better.”
He looked at his watch. She could tell that he wanted to change the subject. And she didn’t have to try. A round of applause filled the room. Tessa and Simon turned to see a man on one knee with his arms in the air, proposing to a very embarrassed woman.
“At a dimsum restaurant?” Simon smirked.
“Hey! You’ll never know! Maybe this is a special place for them,” Tessa said.
“Must be,” he answered, pulling his wallet out at the same time. He motioned for the dimsum man to bring the check over.
The man counted the different colored plates, each with a code for the food they ordered, wrote with lightning speed on a pad of paper, tore it off unevenly and handed it to Simon.
As he examined the bill, Simon said, “I forgot that your Twitter profile says ‘hopeless romantic.’“
“Love makes the world go ‘round!” she said in response, pausing to follow up with an afterthought. “At least in Romance books!”






Christine Brae is a full time career woman who thought she could write a book about her life and then run away as far as possible from it. She never imagined that her words would touch the hearts of so many women with the same story to tell. Her second book, His Wounded Light was released in December, 2013.
Christine’s third book, Insipid, is a standalone that was released in June, 2014, and her fourth book, In This Life, released in January 2016.
When not listening to the voices in her head or spending late nights at the office, Christine can be seen shopping for shoes and purses, running a half marathon or spending time with her husband and three children in Chicago.
Christine is represented by Italia Gandolfo of Gandolfo Helin Literary Management.

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Monday, August 27, 2018

Book Review: The Last Harvest by Kim Liggett


Media Type: Print Book
Title: The Last Harvest
Author: Kim Liggett
Publisher: Tor Teen
Pages: Paperback; 352
Release Date: July 24, 2018
Source: Publisher
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Content Screening: Violence, Blood/Gore

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy a YA horror story that keeps you guessing.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Kim Liggett's The Last Harvest is a thrilling YA horror story that draws on her childhood during the Satanic Panic.

"I plead the blood."

Those were the last words seventeen-year-old golden boy quarterback Clay Tate heard rattling from his dad's throat when he discovered him dying on the barn floor of the Neely cattle ranch, clutching a crucifix to his chest.

Now, on the first anniversary of the Midland, Oklahoma, slaughter, the whole town's looking at Clay like he might be next to go over the edge. Clay wants to forget the past, but the sons and daughters of the Preservation Society--a group of prominent farmers his dad accused of devil worship--won't leave him alone. Including Ali, his longtime crush, who suddenly wants to reignite their romance after a year of silence, and hated rival Tyler Neely, who's behaving like they're old friends.

Even as Clay tries to reassure himself, creepy glances turn to sinister stares and strange coincidences build to gruesome rituals--but when he can never prove that any of it happened, Clay worries he might be following his dad down the path to insanity...or that something far more terrifying lies in wait around the corner.

I find it only fair to let you know that I'm the type of reader who is fairly desensitized to horror novels at this point. I read a lot of them and, since I found this genre early on when YA horror wasn't a big thing, most of them are targeted to adults. So take my review with a grain of salt, my friends. I expect a lot from books that market themselves as horror. I love to feel the tension, hate/love the characters, and be completely blindsided at every turn. Basically, The Last Harvest had a lot to live up to. It nearly made it there too.

First off, credit where credit is due, Kim Liggett does an excellent job of setting the stage for Clay's possible descent into madness. The little town of Midland, Oklahoma is brought to life almost immediately. You can feel the breeze on a humid summer night, see the sunset over the corn fields, and relish in the small town feel of the characters and their day to day lives. I love books with settings like these. They settle you firmly into a sense of nostalgia, in my case for a place I've never been. This is my favorite kind of story, and that's one of the reasons I loved it so much.

Liggett also shines with her creation of the characters in this book as well. Clay, the golden boy quarterback turned outcast, is easy to fall in love with. As I met the rest of this not quite friends, I saw how easily each of them fit into the setting that was so expertly built. These are kids who raised in a town that sees them as the budding next generation. They are the future of Midland and, as such, can do no wrong. Although there wasn't as much time to get to know them as I would have liked, I at least appreciated the fact that they felt like real people, with real issues.

What took the star rating down for me in this book, and again I remind you that I'm pretty picky about books in this genre, is a mixture of how slow it was to build and how unsurprising the majority of the story was. Don't get me wrong, YA horror has it rough. There's a line that you can't cross in terms of the actual horror/gore aspects and I really feel like it hampered this story. What should have been shocking events in Clay's story, felt more like small breaks from the lull of this book. Although I liked most of the characters well enough, their fates never really resonated with me. As I mentioned before, my favorite part of this genre is the attachment and tension that I usually feel. I didn't feel much of that here at all.

I can say that this book is very easy to read through though, despite anything else. I powered through the story in roughly two hours, and didn't feel like I wasn't going to finish. There was enough to keep me invested in what the ending would actually be, even though I thought I had figured it out, and so I appreciated that. I just wish there had been more to make me feel really invested. I'll give this three stars, and highly recommend it to anyone starting out in the horror genre! It's well written, and not too terribly terrifying. An excellent place for a beginning.




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.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Cover Reveal + Giveaway: Rekindled by Genevieve Iseult Eldredge


Rekindled
Genevieve Iseult Eldredge
(A Circuit Fae NEMESIS Prequel Novella, #3.5)
Published by: Monster House Books
Publication date: March 26th 2019
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
It’s good to be queen. Except when it’s a total disaster.
Syl Skye, newly crowned Queen of Fair Faerie, would be psyched to be the ruler of her Summer realm, except for two things.
First, her girlfriend Rouen Rivoche became Queen of Dark Faerie, the Winter realm. That would be great except the Winter realm’s always been at war with Summer. By tradition, that makes Rouen Syl’s mortal enemy.
That said, love can break past old hatred, right? Especially with a new foe about to attack them both.
Ah, no.
Which brings us to Syl’s second problem. Rouen’s under a dark spell and doesn’t remember Syl, their lives, their love. Worse, if Syl doesn’t break the spell by the next new moon, Rouen will forget her forever.
To defeat their foe, it’ll take two soul-bound queens whose hearts and minds act as one. Trouble is, no one has ever broken the dark spell Rouen suffers from.
Good thing Syl isn’t the type of queen who gives up easily.





Raised by witches and dragons in the northern wilds, GIE writes angsty urban fantasy YA romance--where girls who are mortal enemies kick butt, take names, and fall in love against all odds.
She enjoys long hikes in the woods (where better to find the fair folk?), believing in fairies (in fact, she's clapping right now), dancing with dark elves (always wear your best shoes), being a self-rescuing princess (hello, black belt!), and writing diverse books about teenage girls finding love, romance, and their own inner power.
She might be planning high tea at the Fae Court right now.
GIE is multi-published, and in her role as an editor has helped hundreds of authors make their dream of being published a reality.

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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.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Book Review: Monster City: Murder, Music and Mayhem in Nashville's Dark Age by Michael Artnfield


Media Type: Ebook (ARC)
Title: Monster City: Murder, Music, and Mayhem in Nashville's Dark Age
Author: Michael Arntfield
Publisher: Little A
Pages: Paperback; 352
Release Date: September 4, 2018
Source: NetGalley / Publisher
------------------------------------------
Genre: Nonfiction / True Crime

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy a real life look into the spree of serial murders in Nashville in the 1980's and 1990's.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
The never-before-told true account of the serial killers who terrorized Nashville’s music scene for decades—and the cold-case Murder Squad determined to bring an end to their sadistic sprees.

Nashville—a haven for aspiring musicians and a magnet for country-music fans. By the time Pat Postiglione arrived there in 1980, it was also the scene of an unsolved series of vicious sex slayings that served as a harbinger of worse to come. As Postiglione was promoted from street-beat Metro cop to detective sergeant heading Music City’s elite cold-case Murder Squad, some of America’s most bizarre, elusive, and savage serial killers were calling Nashville home. And during the next two decades, the body count climbed.

From Vanderbilt University to dive bars and out-of-the-way motels, Postiglione followed the bloody tracks of these ever-escalating crimes—each enacted by a different psychopath with the same intent: to murder without motive or remorse. But of all the investigations, of all the monsters Postiglione chased, few were as chilling, or as game changing, as the Rest Stop Killer: a homicidal trucker who turned the interstates into his trolling ground. Next stop, Nashville. But Postiglione was waiting.
I'm kind of an odd duck in that I'm not always a huge fan of true crime novels, but I have this deep seeded fascination with stories about serial killers. I thought I'd get that out of the way before I start this review in earnest, so that you'll know where I'm coming from. My interest in this book was purely driven by the fact that Michael Arntfield was taking an in-depth look at a spree of serial murders. The fact that it was set in Nashville, which has such a rich tapestry of people and history, just made it that much more intriguing to me. Unfortunately, it didn't quite live up to what I expected.

While I absolutely understand that this is a work of non-fiction, and therefore simply compiling facts, the problem with Monster City was that it didn't really come together in a way that felt coherent. This book focuses on Pat Postiglione, a detective that really brought everything he had to the team that tracked down these killers. He ran through cold cases in a way that baffled his coworkers, and impressed them at the same time. In that respect, this book is utterly fascinating!

However as the book makes its way through the series of cases that Pat pulls from the archives, it really rambles and jumps around. There were portions of this book where I was so confused by which case was being discussed at any given time, that I had to flip back a page or two and reorient myself. Pat's cases, while brutal and interesting, all had similar aspects to them. Which meant that at a certain point all of them meshed into one another and left me confused. I really just wanted a clearer path to follow.

I can definitely say that, despite my gripes about cohesion, the content of this book is compulsively readable. That's why I decided to go ahead and award it the rating that I did. Arntfield did a lot of research, and you can absolutely tell. This book probably could have benefited from a bit more structure though, to keep the reader on a solid path forward.



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.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Gearing up for Halloween Bingo!


It's nearing the end of August and I am ECSTATIC. September and October may not necessarily be cold in Southern California, but they still herald the beginning of cooler temperatures, sweaters, baking time and HORROR BOOKS. Yup, that's right. This is the 2nd year in a row that I'm participating in a Halloween Bingo game on Booklikes, and I've come to love this part of the year for its scary and mysterious reads. I'm so ready!


Here is my super cool bingo card, and all the books I'm pondering reading for the squares are listed below. You can expect to see reviews of most of these books throughout September and October, and I'll try my best to keep you up to date on how my bingo card is going also!

Did I mention that I'm excited?

Also feel free to shout out any books that you loved and would fit these squares. My reading list is totally malleable. And if you want to join us, click here.


A Grimm Tale  - Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Baker Street Irregulars  - Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson
Genre: Suspense - Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
Shifters - Written in Red by Anne Bishop
Modern Masters of Horror - Sour Candy by Kealan Patrick Burke


Relics and Curiosities - Needful Things by Stephen King
Doomsday - The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey
Moder Noir - In the Woods by Tara French
Fear the Drowning Deep - The Terror by Dan Simmons
Terror In a Small Town - The Detained by Kristopher Triana


Romantic Suspense - Window on the Square by Phyllis A. Whitney
Southern Gothic - The Casquette Girls by Alys Arden
Free Square - OPEN (pending buddy read/etc.)
Ghost Stories - The Empty Grave by Jonathan Stroud
Country House Mystery - And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie


Spellbound - The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman
Creepy Carnivals - Joyland by Stephen King
Cozy Mystery - OPEN (anyone have anything they love and want to recommend?)
13 - Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor
Gothic - Unnatural Creatures by Neil Gaiman


Crytozoologist - The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett
New Release - OPEN (any suggestions?)
Slasher Stories - Darkness, Tell Us by Richard Laymon
Deadlands - The Rising by Brian Keene
Terrifying Women Experimental Film by Gemma Files


Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Book Review: Miss Behave by Traci Highland


Media Type: Ebook
Title: Miss Behave
Series: The Anderson Family Series
Author: Traci Highland
Publisher: Cheshire Lane Press
Pages: 330
Release Date: June 24, 2018
Source: PUYB
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Genre: Romantic Comedy

HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy a good hearty laugh and a fun romcom.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon
She's great at giving advice, too bad she never takes it…

Piper Anderson wants to be a serious journalist at a serious paper covering serious news. Instead, she’s stuck at the Pendleton Falls Herald, where her massive investigative skills are wasted penning the paper’s advice column, Miss Behave.

Her shot at a meaty story comes when she’s assigned to write up a profile of a local business, Brookes Jewelers. She is determined to write the piece so she can use the article to impress a real paper.

Unfortunately Hunter Brookes, co-owner of Brookes Jewelers and the Pendleton Falls Herald, is rather persistent, in his own hot little way, that the piece should be nothing more than a glorified sales pitch.

But when diamonds disappear, Piper may get the chance to do a real investigation, leading her to confront family secrets and worst of all, turn to her mother for help.

Piper soon realizes that there is more to Mr. Brookes than a tight ass and a ridiculous fascination with name tags. Together they deal with roasted pigs, crazy cat ladies, and gun-toting fashionistas.

In all the chaos, they just might find the one thing that neither one was looking for: true love.
If you're in the mood for a light, funny book then you should pick up Miss Behave. The inclusion of Piper's advice column from the paper really made me choke on my drink a few times from laughing so hard. Highland does a wonderful job making Piper into a totally relateable and charming character.

This wonderful gem has a little bit of everything for you, family craziness, overbearing mothers, naked runs in the forest.... you won't want to miss a moment of Piper and Mr. Brookes chaos. Each new development in the story makes you laugh out loud and question your own sanity. Piper has a sarcastic wit that I would adore in a friend, and Mr. Brookes is a great match for her personality. Their banter and flirting is absolutely hilarious and swoon worthy.

I can't wait to read the next installment of the Anderson Family series. I highly recommend this book to readers who enjoy fun, romantic, sarcastic lead characters.





Traci Highland writes funny books for sassy ladies. She is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and has a Master’s from Quinnipiac University. She uses this education to write books, bake cakes, garden and make homemade jams. Her children say she’s bossy, her husband says she’s high-maintenance, but the dog thinks she’s perfect.

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | BOOKBUB


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.

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.

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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.

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