Audio Book Review: Juliet Takes A Breath by Gabby Rivera, Narrated by Lillian Claire

Book: Juliet Takes A Breath by Gabby Rivera, Narrated by Lillian Claire

Published July 2016 by Audible Studios|Run Time: 7 hours, 35 minutes

Where I Got It: I own the audio book

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

Juliet Milagros Palante is leaving the Bronx and headed to Portland, Oregon. She just came out to her family and isn’t sure if her mom will ever speak to her again. But Juliet has a plan, sort of, one that’s going to help her figure out this whole “Puerto Rican lesbian” thing. She’s interning with the author of her favorite book: Harlowe Brisbane, the ultimate authority on feminism, women’s bodies, and other gay-sounding stuff.

Will Juliet be able to figure out her life over the course of one magical summer? Is that even possible? Or is she running away from all the problems that seem too big to handle?

With more questions than answers, Juliet takes on Portland, Harlowe, and most importantly, herself.

I liked Juliet Takes A Breath!  Juliet’s pretty cool, and I loved seeing her as an intern in Portland.  She learns a lot about herself and others, and it was great to be along for the journey.

I was pretty angry at her family when she came out to them.  I was angry that they saw it as a joke, and didn’t take it seriously.  I was angry that they saw it as a phase she’ll grow out of.  I know not everyone has supportive families, but I still found myself angry at them and their reaction, because Juliet deserves so much better than that.

She had quite the summer in Portland.  She’s a world away from New York, and her time in Portland wasn’t what she expected.  We see social justice, feminism, race, sexuality, and how they do (or do not) intersect.  We see that the people we look up to are flawed, and that meeting our heroes can be hard, and that they’re not who we thought they were.  That the words they write can be hard to separate from the person writing them, and that they can get some things wrong, while also getting some things right.  That people can be allies in some ways, but ignorant in other ways.  I can see why Juliet clung to Harlowe’s book- we all have that something we hold onto for dear life, that thing that means the world to us, and the realization that we can’t put the creator of it on a pedestal.  Still, I’m sad that Harlowe was great in some ways, but horrible in other ways, and that Juliet had a front row seat for it.

Still, I loved some of the people Juliet met over the course of the summer, and I hope that she stays in contact with some of them.  Like Kira, and Harlowe’s ex.  And the women from the workshop that wanted Juliet to submit her story to the anthology she was putting together.  I wish I could remember their names, but they seemed really cool and supportive, and I hope Juliet talks to them long after the book is over.  I also hope Juliet’s family comes around as well, and they’ll be more accepting of her and whoever she brings home to meet them.

Honestly, I just enjoyed seeing Juliet figure things out and what she learned about life, other people, and herself.  She has a clear, honest voice, and I found myself rooting for her the whole time.

3 stars.  I didn’t love Juliet takes a breath, but I still liked it!  Juliet had an interesting summer, and I was glad I was there for it.

Book Review: Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older

Shadowshaper CoverBook: Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older

Published June 2015 by Arthur Levine Books|392 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy/Paranormal

Blog Graphic-What It's About

Sierra Santiago was looking forward to a fun summer of making art, hanging out with her friends, and skating around Brooklyn. But then a weird zombie guy crashes the first party of the season. Sierra’s near-comatose abuelo begins to say “No importa” over and over. And when the graffiti murals in Bed-Stuy start to weep…. Well, something stranger than the usual New York mayhem is going on.

Sierra soon discovers a supernatural order called the Shadowshapers, who connect with spirits via paintings, music, and stories. Her grandfather once shared the order’s secrets with an anthropologist, Dr. Jonathan Wick, who turned the Caribbean magic to his own foul ends. Now Wick wants to become the ultimate Shadowshaper by killing all the others, one by one. With the help of her friends and the hot graffiti artist Robbie, Sierra must dodge Wick’s supernatural creations, harness her own Shadowshaping abilities, and save her family’s past, present, and future.

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

I really liked Shadowshaper!  It’s really different than a lot of other books I’ve read, and I like that Caribbean myths are a really strong focus.  I feel like any time you see a story that re-tells myths or mythology or legends, it tends to be Greek, maybe Egyptian or Indian, if you’re lucky- though if it’s not Greek, it’s probably going to be Egyptian or Indian.

Back to Shadowshaper.  I really liked the Caribbean legends we see throughout the book, and that really makes the book stand out, in a good way.  It really makes me want to read more about them, particularly the shadowshapers. I did feel a little confused at times, but I think it’s because I wasn’t paying a lot of attention during those parts, because I found myself having to re-read certain parts again because I felt like I missed something.  There’s a lot going on, and it’s really action-packed, but there’s always something going on, and it made me want to keep reading to see what would happen next.

There is something about Shadowshaper that was very ordinary- we see Sierra living her life, and that was really refreshing, because it felt accessible, like I could see the people in Sierra’s neighborhood on any corner.  It’s an especially nice contrast to art coming alive, and it’s also nice to see considering the genre.  It was also nice to see that Shadowshaping was relatively normal, and that it wasn’t seen as something different or unusual.  It would be really easy for Older to portray Sierra and her community as Other, and yet you see things some mild racism that Sierra experiences, and a comment from her aunt about her hair really add something to the book.  Her community really comes to life, and it really felt like it was both a fantasy setting and a real place that was appreciated for being a completely awesome place.

I also really liked seeing Wick get what he deserved, and how protective Sierra is of her heritage, especially when someone tried to take it away from her.  She is such an amazing character, and I loved her so, so much!  I love that she’s happy with how she looks, and I love that she’s willing to stand up to people who try to tell her otherwise.  I don’t throw out strong female character, but that phrase describes her very, very well.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

4 stars.  I didn’t love it, but I really, really liked it.  If you’re looking for a YA urban fantasy that’s different, this is a great book to read.  Actually, it’s a great book to read no matter what you’re looking for.