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?

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday (8/8/18)

It's been a while since I've done one of these, I realized! With all the madness lately I've kind of fallen off of my normal posting habits, but I'm working my way back. It's been nice to once again have a radar on all the new books coming out :). I missed being excited for new releases!

Now, on to my pick for this Wednesday!

I'm eagerly waiting on Salt by Hannah Moskowitz.

When witches kidnap her dad, Mup is swept up in a wild tide of magic that carries her to another world. Can she reunite her family and find her way back?

On the night that Aunty dies, the raggedy witches come for Mup's family. Pale, cold, and relentless, the witches will do anything for the tyrannical queen who has outlawed most magic and enforces her laws with terror and cruelty -- and who happens to be Mup's grandmother. When witches carry off her dad, Mup and her mam leave the mundane world to rescue him. But everything is odd in the strange, glittering Witches Borough, even Mam. Even Mup herself. In a world of rhyming crows, talking cats, and golden forests, it's all Mup can do to keep her wits about her. And even if she can save her dad, Mup's not sure if anything will ever be the same again. First in a new trilogy by Irish author Celine Kiernan, this tale of family and forbidden magic charts a fresh path through the landscape of beloved fantasy tradition -- and promises to bewitch any reader in search of stories to love.

I am lucky enough to have a review copy of this, so I'll be reading it soon! I'm a sucker for Middle Grade, but especially stories with brave girls. I can't wait to read this!

What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, August 6, 2018

Book Blitz + Giveaway: In the Land of Milk and Honey by Nell E.S Douglas

Happy Monday dear readers! We've got a treat for you today. This romantic suspense novel is sure to keep you guessing till the very end. A baby of unknown origins, a chance encounter, and a creepy feeling. Be sure to grab it for less than a dollar! 

In the Land of Milk and Honey
Nell E.S. Douglas
Publication date: January 17th 2018
Genres: Adult, Romance, Suspense
When Gabrielle “Bree” Valentine awoke in a hospital bed with a newborn baby, she centered herself and rebuilt. Bree didn’t think about her mental breakdown, lost memories, or the features of a stranger emerging daily in the face of the son she is raising alone. Five years later, on a weekend in the Hamptons, a chance encounter with a man unlike any other jars her—bone deep. Daniel Hawthorne Baird II, wealthy, dangerous, British aristocrat, gravitates to Bree like caviar on crostini. In his relentless obsession with Bree, their lives entwine despite Bree’s resistance. With the unconditional support of friends she calls ‘family’, Bree confronts the most difficult questions of her life. Unearthing the painful mysteries behind who fathered her child, who the real Daniel Baird is, and the irrepressible desire driving her towards a man destined to be the end of them both.
Add it: Goodreads / Amazon

I nodded in agreement and then felt my phone buzzing in my clutch. I told August I’d meet him back at the dinner table. I opened the text from Jill.

J: How’s it going, chica?
G: I think I’m in Bizarro World. What are you guys doing?
J: Heading to dinner. The kid wants calamari!
I laughed at my son’s strange appetite.
J: Hold on...special message coming.
J: Mommy!
G: Hello! I miss you so, so much!
I wondered how much Jill was helping him with texting.
J: I miss u too,
J: I’m sad ur away. Please come back to me soon.
I guess she was transcribing for him. My heart broke a little.
G: It won’t be long and I’m always with you in your heart. Have a good night, my love. xoxo
J: I love you, too.
J: Have fun with your little charade. Wink. Nite-nite sexy mama.
I snorted. That must be Jill again.
“Who was that?” I jumped out of my skin and bumped into something solid right behind me and then leaped away, the train of my gown swishing around me as I faced a very suspicious Daniel.

“Jesus Christ, how do you do that?” I gasped, clutching my chest. “You didn’t answer my question,” he replied firmly, folding his arms. “Are you stalking me?” I peered at him.
He peered back. “Was it another man?” He said it like, ‘you naughty girl’, and then there was that glimmer in his eye again.

“I’m feeling very stalked right now.” I shook my head and tried to walk to past him, but he blocked me.

“Excuse me,” I said indignantly.
“You’re not excused.”
“That’s not up to you,” I countered.
“Oh, I think it is,” he replied confidently and his lip twitched upward, but he resisted the smile.
“No. It isn’t, and I don’t like being deceived,” I challenged, lifting a brow. He unfolded his arms, letting them rest at his sides.
“I didn’t deceive you.” He arched one brow back. “You perceived.”
“And you did nothing to stop it. That is called deception.”
“Is it?” he replied, his eyes searching mine like he knew I thought differently.
“The distinction is obvious,” I retorted, eluding a judgment just shy of an edict. August and I were currently perpetrating a deception much bigger than his, but he couldn’t know that.
“I am not a man of many words,” Daniel replied laconically, in the tone of one who doesn’t explain himself to anyone and didn’t intend to start tonight.
“More the ‘speak softly, and carry a big stick’ type? The only reason you talked to me was to use me. You were just fishing for intel,” I accused but gulped down hard admitting my words were etched into the club that he’d used to swat down Mr. Fitch.

It looked like his patience had snapped. I may have said too much, but the self-doubt he’d created in me triggered my defenses.
“That’s not why I talked to you,” he explained finally. I narrowed my eyes. “Then why did you?”

He just stared at me for a while. I don’t know what was running through his mind—a lot of things it seemed—but most of all it looked like he was deciding something. And after moments of consideration, I watched resolve form in his tightened jaw.
“We should be friends,” he said in decision, not offer—but that’s not what surprised me. “Friends?” I repeated back dumbly.

Nell E. S. Douglas has possessed a deep, abiding love for written words since childhood. The transition from reader, to writer, was a natural one. Her first stories, penned on the lined pages of class notebooks, were inspired by her mother’s poetry and epic tales of travel, and a professorial inquisitiveness inherited from her father. Following college in Florida, Nell exited the world of pure imagination, and entered the one of business, successfully establishing a career in sales, and developing a cup-a-day habit (of coffee). Today, Nell writes everything from story ideas to essays during the spaces in-between domestic goddessing, and contributing as a managing partner to a thriving small business. Nell resides in Florida, with her husband and their children, passing on the traditions of her mother, and sinking her feet in the sand whenever possible.
Her favorite books are Pride and Prejudice, and To Kill a Mockingbird. Her favorite movies are Gladiator, anything by Scorcese, The Time Traveller’s Wife, and Bridesmaids.


Thursday, August 2, 2018

August Reading List

It's been a while since I've done one of these, for good reason actually. I've been so all over the place that setting any reading goals seemed like an easy way to weight myself down. I'm not good at failing. Hahaha. I'm getting better slowly, but I just figured it wasn't worth feeling down about not getting what I wanted to get read, actually read.

Now that life has settled, and I feel good, I'm going to set a small goal. Only 3 books this month, and here they are.

I'm only 3% into Kill the Farm Boy and this book was just what I needed to start this month. It's hilarious! It's irreverent, it throws the fairy tale genre on its head, and it's just too much fun sometimes. I've giggled out loud more than once, and I can't wait to finish this one. It's going to be an easy complete.

I actually have the second book in this series for review, so technically I'll be reading this to get myself familiar with the series. I LOVE Brandon Mull. I didn't even know this book existed until I got the second one for review, so I'm so happy! I can't wait to go on an adventure!

I lost this book for a while, freaked out, forgot to find it, and then randomly found it while cleaning. So yay! Time to read it this month!

That's it for me this month. If I read more, fabulous! If not, I'll still feel good!


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