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When Life Gives You Demons

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Sixteen-year-old Shelby Black has spent the past year training to be an exorcist. Her great-uncle Roy—a Catholic priest and Shelby’s guardian—believes she has a gift for expelling demons, and he’s put her through exorcist boot camp hell, but he still doesn’t trust her to do an exorcism on her own.

High school is hard enough without having to explain that you fight demons for a living, so Shelby keeps her extracurricular activity quiet, especially from Spencer, her cute math tutor. Secrets run in Shelby’s family, though: her mother has been missing ever since an exorcism went horribly wrong, and Uncle Roy is tight-lipped about it. But Shelby’s hell-bent on finding her mom, no matter what—even if what it ends up costing her her soul AND a date with Spencer.

272 pages, Hardcover

First published July 17, 2018

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About the author

Jennifer Honeybourn

4 books153 followers
Jennifer Honeybourn works in corporate communications in Vancouver, British Columbia. She's a fan of British accents, Broadway musicals, and epic, happily-ever-after love stories. If she could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, she'd have high tea with Walt Disney, JK Rowling, and her nana. She lives with her husband, daughter and cat in a house filled with books. WESLEY JAMES RUINED MY LIFE is her first novel.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 138 reviews
Profile Image for Alyssa.
1,069 reviews837 followers
June 16, 2018

***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog***

When Life Gives You Demons by Jennifer Honeybourn
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Publication Date: July 17, 2018
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC received via exchange

Summary (from Goodreads):

Sixteen-year-old Shelby Black has spent the past year training to be an exorcist. Her great-uncle Roy—a Catholic priest and Shelby’s guardian—believes she has a gift for expelling demons, and he’s put her through exorcist boot camp hell, but he still doesn’t trust her to do an exorcism on her own.

High school is hard enough without having to explain that you fight demons for a living, so Shelby keeps her extracurricular activity quiet, especially from Spencer, her cute math tutor. Secrets run in Shelby’s family, though: her mother has been missing ever since an exorcism went horribly wrong, and Uncle Roy is tight-lipped about it. But Shelby’s hell-bent on finding her mom, no matter what—even if what it ends up costing her her soul AND a date with Spencer.

What I Liked:

I adored Jennifer Honeybourn's debut novel, Wesley James Ruined My Life, and I've been pretty excited about her next standalone, When Life Gives You Demons. First - can we take a moment to appreciate the cover? I think it is fantastic. Simple, yet eye-catching and it makes you giggle a little. I breezed through this book and I really enjoyed it as I was reading it. If you are looking for a quick, hilarious read, this is one for you!

This book is centered around exorcisms, which is a rare topic in YA lit. Shelby's uncle is a priest, and a very skilled exorcist. He has been training Shelby to be an exorcist, but Shelby isn't all that great. Shelby hides this "hobby" of hers from everyone, including her best friend Vanessa, and her cute math tutor Spencer. What would her friends think if they found how she exorcised demons? Shelby might not have to wonder for long, because something dangerous is happening in the demon world, and it could affect her family, her friends, and her budding relationship with Spencer.

I love the light tone of this book. It deals with exorcisms, which can get pretty heavy and/or pretty horrific, pretty quickly. Exorcisms are usually the topic of horror films, and I don't do horror - no thank you. There wasn't anything terrifying or scary about this book - for the most part, the tone was light and funny, though the climax got a little more intense.

This book is set in modern times but with a definite paranormal touch to it, what with all the demons and exorcisms. Of course, it depends on what you believe in, these things could be supernatural to you. The concept of Catholicism and religion is important in this book, but not overwhelming, if that makes sense. Religion isn't forced upon the reader.

Shelby is such a funny heroine to follow. She really wants to do an exorcisms by herself, but her uncle doesn't trust her. She really wants to express her interest in Spencer Callaghan, but doesn't want to get rejected. One thing that Shelby is dealing with is the disappearance of her mother - nobody knows where she is (though Uncle Roy has been telling people that she is visiting relatives in Italy). Shelby is a fun person, persistent and a little vulnerable too.

Spencer is a secondary character but a very important one. He isn't just a love interest - he plays a big role in the rising action of the book. He's a good guy, and a cute love interest too. He's one of those sweet, nice boys, not a dominant alpha male (nothing wrong with either type of guy). I adored Spencer.

I liked Shelby and Spencer's quiet friendship (though it budded into something more, which was adorable.) I also liked Shelby's friendship with Vanessa, which was very positive and healthy. Shelby's parents weren't in the picture, but she had a strong relationship with her uncle. Positive relationships were a very good part of this story.

The romance was sweet! Shelby was crushing on her math tutor (Spencer), and he was crushing on her, and it's so adorable. Both of them are hiding things from each other, but both of them really care about the other. So cute!

The ending gets really intense, though still light in terms of the mood. This book was really fun and light to read, a quick read that had me smiling and laughing and occasionally swooning. The ending is sweet and a HEA for everyone. Very satisfying!

What I Did Not Like:

More swoons! I wanted more swoons for sure. This is a Swoon Reads novel, after all. More swoons is never a bad thing!

Would I Recommend It:

Contemporary romance fans will like this one! You don't need to be a PNR fan to enjoy it. And it's not super religious so if you're not into books with religion, don't be put off. The religious aspects are there, and it was cool to see that (so many YA books avoid the topic of religion), but it wasn't a Big Thing in this book (like a statement type of thing, or a theme). Exorcisms were definitely there, but not in a horror kind of way. I liked the book!


4 stars. I have to commend Jennifer Honeybourn for her unique story and creativity! I'm not sure I would have picked up this book had I not read and loved the author's previous (unrelated) book. When Life Gives You Demons was funny, swoony, creative. I'm excited to read what Honeybourn comes up with next!
Profile Image for Manon.
71 reviews12 followers
July 31, 2019
This review was originally posted at www.cafemanon.nl


When Life Gives You Demons is a story about a teenage girl named Shelby. Shelby is a student at St. Joseph’s catholic school, she has a best friend named Vanessa and she has a crush on Spencer. So far, she sounds like a typical teenage girl. But Shelby’s life is far more mysterious than the life of most teenage girls.

Shelby’s mother left under mysterious circumstances and she is missing ever since. Shelby is living with Uncle Roy, a priest, and he is training her to become an exorcist. Shelby wants to keep her training a secret. What would her friends think if they know about her being an exorcist? Also she wants to find her mother.

When Life Gives You Demons is a fast-paced and easy to read story. Although it is about exorcism, it doesn’t have a scary horror vibe to it. Actually, the paranormal elements are written in a fun and light manner. I liked that the book didn’t get too much into the history of exorcism, but it did explain just enough for the story to work.

Shelby is a wonderful character and her internal dialogues are sometimes relatable and often hilarious. Her crush on Spencer is adorable. I liked reading about her exorcism training with Uncle Roy.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets The Exorcist in this amazing paranormal young adult novel. I would recommend this book to everyone who is looking for a fun and light read.
Profile Image for Stacee.
2,670 reviews701 followers
July 3, 2018
3.5 stars

I really liked Shelby. She’s snarky and her inner monologue was funny. Shelby’s dynamic with Uncle Roy was adorable. I loved that she was always forcing healthy food on him. There are some fun characters but I didn’t feel like we got to know anyone.

Plot wise, it was quick moving. However, like with the characters, it was very shallow. There wasn’t any sort of back story or explanation of anything. The build up was non-existent and all of a sudden, it was over.

Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy this. The story was fun and it was a super quick read. I just would have liked a bit more depth and more at the end.

**Huge thanks to Swoon Reads for providing the arc free of charge**
Profile Image for Lisa (Remarkablylisa).
2,209 reviews1,802 followers
April 11, 2021
A fun YA Novel and some different from Jennifer's typical contemporary novels. This one features a teenage exorcist with a mom who might be more demon than human. I didn't like how our character was sort of the whiny person who wants to know everything and thinks they can everything but still a fun read. Made me tear up. Spencer was a flat character with not much development. I hoped for more.
Profile Image for Kayla Brunson.
1,288 reviews237 followers
July 10, 2018
ARC provided in exchange for an honest review.

I really enjoyed When Life Gives You Demons! When I read the synopsis I knew that I was going to have to get my hands on it. A high school girl who’s training as an exorcist? Hand it over!

Our main character Shelby is training under her Uncle Roy who happens to be a priest. What is Shelby training for? Well to be an exorcist of course. She keeps her extracurricular activities to herself because she goes to a Catholic school and doesn’t know how her peers will react.

“If they found out that I have a direct experience with evil spirits, they would probably publicly shun me.”

I loved reading about Shelby’s experience with trying to be a teenager and deal with boys, exorcisms and learning a bit about herself along the way. It was funny and light enough to keep it YA. The romance was sweet and the love interest was easy to love.

Overall, it was a light read with a paranormal vibe. I highly recommend picking this up when it comes out next month!

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Profile Image for mary.
196 reviews26 followers
July 24, 2018
A rather quick read, but I think it would have benefited from a few additional chapters. You can read this book in one sitting, and it's lighthearted, but the relationship between Spencer and Shelby came off as underdeveloped and awkward. Also, it seemed like the action scenes were over as soon as it started, so that was a little weird, but overall, it was kind of enjoyable.
Profile Image for Nicole (FearYourEx).
371 reviews62 followers
July 5, 2018
4/5 stars

If you're looking for a contemporary that's a bit mystery, a bit fun, and a teeny tiny bit romance this book may be perfect for you.

You follow Shelby as she lives with her great uncle, a Catholic priest and exorcist. She's training to be an exorcist as well. There is a pretty powerful demon causing problems in her town and she wants to get to the bottom of it.

Shelby grows a lot as the book goes on. The book was really fun and just the different sort of read I needed when I read it.
Profile Image for kaylaaaaaaaaaa kaylaaaaaaaaaa.
Author 1 book112 followers
July 17, 2018
So I first added this to my 'to read' shelf because the premise sounded like a book that I would enjoy and I was right because it was definitely my thing.
Profile Image for Rachael (RedRchlReads).
163 reviews114 followers
May 23, 2018
I received an ARC from Fierce Reads in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

4 Stars!

When Life Gives You Demons by Jennifer Honeybourn is one of the few contemporaries I've read this year, and I'm happy to say that it was a fun, quick read with some Buffy-like elements. Shelby is an exorcist in training, who, like any other high school girl, is not pleased about her new vocation. While the story covers some fairly heavy, serious topics, it never takes itself too seriously and instead tends to turn a more humorous way. I found myself laughing many times when it easily could have turned in a darker direction.

I definitely loved the Buffy vibes that came through in most of the story. I'm a huge fan of the show and this story has the same sort of feel while definitely being its own entity. The characters were great - relatable teens, a bit of a love interest, frustrating family members, cool older men - each with their own quirks, strengths, and weaknesses. Shelby definitely tries her best, though she often fails in her efforts to meet her Catholic priest and uncle's exorcist demands.

Overall a fun story with a different feel than many other contemporaries. If you're looking for a mystery that doesn't take itself too seriously, try picking up When Life Gives You Demons!
Profile Image for Lisa Mandina.
1,812 reviews407 followers
July 19, 2018
This book is really exactly what it sounds like. A humorous story about exorcisms. LOL. No, really. In a good way! It reminded me quite a bit of one of my all time favorite TV shows, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I really think this would be kind of a fun series if that was ever a possibility. I would enjoy getting to follow Shelby as she works on her exorcism skills. And then there is her crush Spencer, and what his family does, they would be interesting to get to know more about as well. I feel like there is even a lot more history of Shelby's mother and Uncle Roy that would be fun to throw in to another story.

Besides the fact that I could see it as a series, I will tell you it was a very quick and easy read. I was just turning pages to get to see what was going to happen. Where was Shelby's mom? What was Spencer up to, because there was obviously something going on with him and his family? Then, when we got about 80% in, the story really took off, and it just dove right into the heart of the action and trying to save the town and those they loved. There were definitely your normal exorcism details: heads turning around, crawling on the ceiling, and super-human strength. But then there were some funny bits to go along with them, including a possessed dog, and a teenage boy who really was just being a teenage boy even if his mom thought he was possessed.

A quick, fun, read, check it out!
Profile Image for Jackie.
616 reviews42 followers
September 10, 2018
On paper I should love this, in reality not so much.

“When Life Gives You Demons” is what would happen if Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Supernatural had a crossover only with less than stellar writing. Following Shelby as she embarks on this journey of salvation for the damned when she learns that her mother’s disappearance is far worse than she thought and trying to fight the forces of darkness and having a normal social life might be more than she bargained for.

I really wanted to love this and given the parallels to two of these shows that I know and love should have made this a 5 Star no problem however the writing itself left a lot to be desired. The characters themselves are so one dimensional it’s hard to see them as anything more than what they represent in context to the overall plot. There’s so little given to them to make them likable or at least worthy or our support leaving them almost like metal pieces in a game that are moved around to reach an ending but forgettable once you get there.

The plot itself without the influence of the characters was such a great idea and it’s a shame that we were introduced to other methods and mythology so late in the book to never see it fully explored either as an asset or hinderance to what we know via Father Roy and the more old fashioned religious teachings.

I really wanted more from this book and it’s a shame it couldn’t deliver but at least I’ve got a collection of buffy dvds to fall back on and make up for it.
Profile Image for Maggie.
Author 2 books220 followers
November 6, 2017
I had the pleasure of reading an ARC of Jennifer Honeybourn's second novel and I feel incredibly honored to be one of the first to express my love for it! Full of laugh-out-loud moments and heart-racing exorcisms, When Life Gives You Demons will give you Buffy vibes in the best way possible. Shelby was incredibly relatable (as far as teenage exorcists go) and I could have lived inside of her world for much longer. July 2018, can you hurry up a bit so my friends and I can all gush about this book together? Thanks!
Profile Image for Samantha (WLABB).
3,329 reviews231 followers
July 16, 2018
Who knew a book about a teenaged exorcist could be so charming and delightful?

• Pro: You will see this in a million reviews for this book, but it's only because it's so true. This book definitely scratched a Buffy-type itch for me. Shelby shared a lot of similarities with Buffy. She was a little snarky with a great sense of humor, and also struggled finding the balance between fighting demons and being an average teenager. This plus the raging guilt about her mother's disappearance endeared Shelby to me.

• Pro: So. Much. Fun. This book may have dealt with some dark themes, but it was kept on the light and fluffy side. I laughed and grinned and smiled and simply enjoyed it so much.

• Pro: The relationship between Shelby and Uncle Roy was very sweet. They each cared a lot about the other, and showed it in many different, not so obvious ways.

• Pro: There's just not enough YA books featuring teen exorcists. I love that authors are incorporating new and different topics into their books, and I found Honeybourn's approach to this topic interesting. The main focus was from the traditional Catholic viewpoint, but eventually, other schools of thought regarding exorcism/demon hunter were incorporated, which was all quite fascinating.

• Pro: Honeybourne did a fantastic job guiding us through the exorcisms. There was lots of detail when we were in the midst of the actual exorcism and also, written reports.

• Con: The resolution was a bit rushed. It wasn't terrible, but I was surprised at how quickly we reached that point.

• Pro: The romance was so sweet. The does-he, doesn't-he and all the excitement Shelby felt with every accidental brush or longing gaze made me smile. I do wish there had been a little more of this adorable romance though.

Overall: A fun and fast-paced look at what it takes to be a teen exorcist. It was a delight tagging along with Shelby as juggled her family obligations, her schoolwork, and the matters of her heart.

*ARC provided in exchange for an honest review.

Profile Image for Stay Fetters.
2,014 reviews118 followers
July 26, 2019
"The man's face contorts and he’s spitting and foaming at the mouth. And then- oh lord- his head starts to revolve on his neck, bones cracking and popping, until it twists all the way around and his face is on the wrong side of his body. I wince. I really hate it when they do that.”

This is my second experience with this author. Her first book and I didn’t get along that well but this one showed a lot of promise. It started off really well and it piqued my interest with performing exorcisms but it got really boring real fast.

Shelby is living the most bizarre and interesting life. She and her Mom moved in with her Uncle who is a pastor. Her Mom disappeared one night and Shelby blames herself.

While her Mom is away her Uncle Roy has been teaching her how to perform exorcisms. He’s been training Shelby because he believes that she is ready. This is one secret that she must keep because she doesn’t know how people will react.

Who she really wants to keep this from is her best friend, Vanessa and her ultimate crush, Spencer. Her life now revolves around wooing her crush and searching for her Mom all while keeping her exorcist secret.

Will Shelby find her Mom before it’s too late? Or will Shelby’s dreams come true?

This book was okay but nothing I would read again. Not sure I would read anything else by this author since I’ve been burned twice. Her books start off great but get boring pretty quickly.

When Life Gives You Demons was pretty tame for being about exorcisms. Shelby and Spencer were wet blankets and I rolled my eyes too much at them. It was predictable and not mysterious at all. I wanted scary possessions but instead, I got rainbows and a little holy water. Pass!
Profile Image for Flavia.
316 reviews33 followers
August 7, 2018
This book like Jennifer Honeybourn’s other book, Wesley James Ruined My Life, was a very quick read for me! If I had had the time, I would have read it all in one sitting. Rather than focusing on too much detail, Honeybourn’s books tend to be very plot driven, which is why they are a little shorter than the average YA book. When Life Gives You Demons definitely gave me some Buffy the Vampire Slayer + My Best Friend’s Exorcism + Supernatural vibes (which is definitely a good thing), and it was quite fluffy despite its darker content (i.e. demons, demonic possessions, and exorcisms).

I am the kind of reader who definitely enjoys detail (I mean, I’m a mega fan of Tolkien’s work!), so I would have been happy if this book had been thicker because of more in-depth information. But at the same time, I was happy to read a book that moved very quickly story-wise, and that didn’t make me think too hard. The writing is very easy to follow (and has improved since Honeybourn wrote her first book), and the author wrote a very convincing narrative for the protagonist, Shelby Black (meaning that Shelby’s motivations, way of thinking, decision-making, etc. were very fitting for a teenager). Overall this was a very quick, light, and fun summer read!
Profile Image for Breanna.
481 reviews167 followers
June 21, 2018
THIS REVIEW & MORE → Paws and Paperbacks

ARC provided by the publisher.

I would like to thank the awesome ladies at the Swoon Reads booth at BookCon for recommending this book; they had me sold at humorous contemporary + paranormal. I knew from the first page that I was going to be seriously entertained while reading this. When Life Gives You Demons was the perfect fun summer read!

In addition to trying to pass her classes and studying with her cute math tutor, Shelby spends her time outside of high school training to be an exorcist with her great-uncle, a Catholic priest. I think my favorite part of reading When Life Gives You Demons is how much it reminded of The Mediator series, which remains of my favorite series ever (seriously, if you don’t know what I’m talking about go check out those books). I love the premise of a high schooler that, in addition to worrying about exams and crushes, also has to find time to expel the ghosts / demons lurking around. I do wish the book had been a bit longer; the ending definitely felt rushed and I think it could have benefited from a few more chapters. When Life Gives You Demons was extremely fun and light-hearted and I really hope to see more books featuring plots similar to this in the future!
Profile Image for Sharon.
535 reviews2 followers
March 22, 2019
A light, laugh out loud read about a girl who exorcises demons while attending high school and crushing on her cute study buddy.

I thought the writing was quirky and the exorcism scenes depicted with teen incredulity and sarcasm that befitted the character of 16-year-old Shelby Black.

The support cast is great although Uncle Roy has to be my favorite character. There’s something about a 6’4” bad ass priest forced to eat cottage cheese on toast that had me giggling with them.
Profile Image for Rendz.
369 reviews25 followers
August 10, 2018

*I was sent an ARC from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review!*

I did not expect to like this as much as I did to be honest. Like I expected some really cheesy and cliche plot, with cooky characters and supernatural elements that I like to make fun of. But nope. I mean it was a little cheesy yes. But it was also quite fun!

What I Liked:
Shelby. I liked her a lot. She was super clumsy, slightly sarcastic, but very determined. Her attitude towards her demon hunting life was pretty much what you would expect from a teenager. They don’t want to run in the family business, but they do it because they love their family. She was a fun character to journey the book with. Her inner dialogue always held a great punchline–or she did something very awkward/foolish that brightened the scene. The way she talked about crushes/romance and her reactions, was where I really connected her. It was one big #relate.

The relationship between her and her Uncle Roy was so sweet. It’s not exactly like a father-daughter relationship (nor a Father-daughter one…hehehe….get it?) They were like friends who kept discovering new things about each other, getting into silly fights and coming together to make it work in the end. It was so cute.

I have already mentioned that this book has its fair share of humour. And this is what I liked the most about the book. Going in, I thought that I would be getting all sorts of moody, broody characters. That everything would have a greying filter over it making every scene dark and heavy, but nope. This was full of fun. It was a super light read and yes there are those dark moments, for those who really need them. I personally loved the lightness of it and how easy it was to read.

Honeybourn’s writing style isn’t anything haunting or rather special, but it does it’s job and keeps you hooked. The pacing is great and it doesn’t lag in too many places. The dull moments are very few and I really enjoyed the exciting bits!

The exorcising parts were….quite interesting. Whereas I expected something super dark and horrific, I got this bloody humour. I found it all the more entertaining.

If some of you out there are afraid of this book coming off as preachy because Uncle Roy is a priest, I can put your worries to rest. Despite the book being about a couple of Catholics running around expelling demons, I don’t recall there being any lectures on virtues. (I think the characters go to Mass like once…?) But like any story, the book has its themes, and some of them cross over with Catholic beliefs.

The romance, I’ll admit, could have been more swoonier. The love interest was great, a little flat, but I liked him for the most part. What I liked more were Shelby’s reactions when she had even the slightest interaction with him. That was funny.

What I Disliked:
It had its cheesy moments. I can’t read the words “demon hunting” without cringing a little on the inside, I’m sorry!

I would have also liked a little more complexity to the plot. The book was really short, but did that have to mean that the plot had to be super simple??? I would have liked a little more intensity and high stakes.

And don’t even get me started on the quicky chicky clean ending. I do not take those well. I need proper resolution. With underlined consequences. Thank you very much.

Overall, I really enjoyed this. It was a demonic, supernatural read. But it was super light, fun and hilarious at times. I think that Honeybourn created a great cast of characters and a fun adventure, should you ever need to read something quick and easy!

Rating: 3 / 5 Stars

Recommend?: For the ones who want to go on a fun demon hunt, yeah!
Profile Image for Nasty Lady MJ.
1,057 reviews16 followers
October 1, 2018
To see full review click here.

It’s almost October which means I’m in the mood for some paranormal YA.

The only thing is while paranormal romance was the big on trend back when I was in the targeted age of YA, it has really faded away. Which is good. Because there was a lot of crap out there in the late 00’s. HOWEVER, while you think that newer paranormal YA books would have a tough bar to overcome. The shit’s still getting published. When Life Gives You Demons is one of these books.

Full Disclosure: My favorite YA series is Meg Cabot’s The Mediator (read my Reread feature on it if you want to know why). It has been my favorite series since I was a teen and it’s still my favorite series since I first read it fifteen or so year ago. So, when I’m looking at paranormal YA that’s my gold standard. Nothing really ever meets it, especially When Life Gives You Demons.

Also full disclosure, this book is published by my “favorite” imprint. That should’ve been my other clue. I swear Swoon Reads likes to tease me with their interesting premises and then fuck with me with their execution. It is, so, awful.

I ended up DNF’ing this book for several reasons. I made it to roughly 100 pages in, which I think is far enough to know I wasn’t amused by any means. The set up just seemed very forced and it didn’t help that the MC was the last person you’d expect to be a teenage exorcist.

Plus, I took a sneak peak at the end and everything was resolved as I expected which was just ridiculous. I shouldn’t be able to guess the big twist (and yeah, what I guessed was the twist).

Part of my problem with this book was the MC. She is ridiculously immature. I get that she’s only seventeen (I think, it might’ve been fifteen, I forget) but she is an exorcist and she’s been exposed to a lot of things. That being said, you’d think she’d be a little more responsible and grounded than your typical teenage protagonist. It can be done. God, I hate that I’m constantly referencing it in my review-seems a bit unfair-but in The Mediator, Suze sounded like a teen but at the same time she’s a confidant spirit guide and knows how to pull off one hell of a Brazilian exorcism.

Shelby, on the other hand, can’t even mumble a few Latin words correctly.

he is pathetic.

Also, the demon mystery in this one was sort of lame.

Yes, really, lame. In the first 100 pages there really wasn’t that much build up to it either just two random cases. One was the opening exorcism scene which was relatively dull, and the next was the random moody teenager who plays video games who must be possessed (but not).

There’s also a very boring and dull love interest, who needed to be possessed to be mildly interesting because boy was he dull. Seriously, the interaction between him and the stupid MC is him helping her with her Geometry homework.

I was thoroughly bored with this one. Which is the last thing I should think about a book full of demons.

Maybe I’m wanting too much with my YA paranormal. I read another book this weekend and the experience of that book was almost eerily similar to this one. The only difference was, that one was marginally better where I could finish the book. This one not so much. Regardless, I’ll just have to get my paranormal thrill by watching bad reality shows on TV and rereading The Mediator.

Oh, well.
Profile Image for Renata.
2,449 reviews329 followers
July 2, 2018
this was...fine. It felt to me like it was relying a lot on the general premise of "teen exorcist" to be compelling without doing much legwork. Similarly the romance wasn't particularly developed either? It feels like an outline of a Buffy the Vampire Slayer fanfiction.

The cover art is really cute though.
Profile Image for Katherine Paschal.
2,124 reviews55 followers
July 18, 2018
“Hi. Um, is Spencer here?”

A smile crawls across the man’s face. Friendly or creepy, I’m not exactly sure, but I’m going to take it as a good sign that he’s opened the door to let us inside. Either Spencer is here, or this guy is inviting us in so he can kill us.

Hopefully Spencer is here.

Shelby spends her time going to school, crushing on her study partner, hanging out with her best friend- oh and hunting demons. As an apprentice to her uncle Roy who just so happens to be a Priest, Shelby has spent the last 5 months leaning the art of exorcisms. On top of that, her mom abruptly left home to go to Rome for a demon training class and Shelby hasn't heard from her in months. It is hard pretending to be a normal teen when your spare time is secretly spent fighting the minions of hell...

This was such a quirky mix of horror, drama and humor and I ate it up! When you can go off on metal tangents about body movements and exasperating her mentor while in the middle of an exorcism, I knew that this was the book for me. I sat down just to read a chapter or two before bed (because what is better as a bedtime treat then demons?) and found myself half way through the book in just a little over an hour. This was such a fast and engaging reading, easily something you can enjoy in it's entirety in a day (a single sitting if you are motivated enough) and it is a standalone that wrapped up ever so nicely.

As soon as he starts the incantation, Ms. C’s body contorts in a way that reminds me of those crazy talented acrobats in Cirque du Solei. She practically does a cartwheel off the wall, and I can’t help but be impressed by how limber she is. I mean, she has to be at least thirty years old, but from the way she’s moving, she could probably medal in the Olympics.

The horror elements were spot on, creepy and demonic, just like what you would expect from a scary movie. I also really enjoyed how there were different cultures and religions used in the exorcisms, showing as long as you have faith in something, the power works the same. My favorite part of the book though was the relationship dynamic between Shelby and her uncle Roy. She forces terrible healthy food on him to help him live longer since he is "old and likely to die" while at the same time eating whatever awful foods she can find. He at times acts like her parent, other times like her teacher and also like her conscience, all creating such an interesting relationship between the two that made me really engaged in the book. There was also a nice dash of romance and friendship, but Shelby and Roy interactions hands down the best.

Just when you think you are about to read a typical girl-get-demon-training-from- Priest-while-experiencing- typical-high-school-stuff BAM! And you are wrong. Jennifer took the plot in a surprising direction I sincerely never saw coming, it was a crazy twist that just lured me in even more (if that is even possible with how into the book I already was!). This story is hands down 100% unique and such a good read. This is my first encounter with Jennifer but I loved her people, the dialog, the plot and the subtle humor that she was able to insert into the darkest of moments. If I can chuckle while reading about a demon exorcism, then you know this is the right book for me. I look forward to picking up more books from her in the future- her other books are now on my to-read list.

I am voluntarily reviewing a complimentary copy of this title.
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Profile Image for Jen.
637 reviews27 followers
July 5, 2018
**I received this as an egalley from the publisher through Edelweiss in return for an honest review.**

I honestly didn't think I was going to end up reading this book in two days but that's exactly what I did. Somehow it sucked me right in and I could not bring myself to put it down until I finished it. With some great Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Mediator vibes, this book was fun, quick, and a completely engrossing read.

The story moves quickly and reasonably, with only a few moments here and there where it felt like things were a little too fast or easy. Some revelations came about sort of randomly, and while there was plenty of foreshadowing and clues that I could glean onto (the Spencer thing was so easy to see from the start), when Shelby finds out about these secrets it just felt a little...anticlimactic. The ending itself felt a little easy and rushed too, and there were definitely times I wished for longer scenes and more details about things (i.e. the setting, which is supposed to be Seattle, a fact which I was constantly forgetting). The exorcism scenes were great, though, with just enough detail to have me grossed out or jumping at certain moments, and kept the story flowing. Overall the plotline was great and interesting, and everthing worked well together in the end.

I really enjoyed the characters and their relationships with each other. There's the narrator, Shelby, who just felt so realistically a teenager with her unenthusiasm about training to be an exorcist juxtaposed against her desire to prove to her uncle that she is capable to being one, as well as her issues with school and social life. (See also: bedazzled holy water spray bottle. It just said so much about her character and I loved it.) I loved her relationships with her Uncle Roy, whom she loves but also feels annoyed at at times, and her best friend Vanessa, who is by her side no matter what and who doesn't disappear into the background of the story like I see happen often in some YA novels.

I really liked Spencer and seeing Shelby's relationship grow with him, and while there were definitely some interesting things about him, I would have loved to gotten more glimpses into his personality. But it was also nice because while their romance was cute, it didn't overtake the storyline, nor was it one of those over-the-top romances either. It was sweet, had some conflict, but felt appropriate for teenagers and gave off the impression of the possibility for growth.

This was a fun, captivating story that had me hooked from the start. I really enjoyed the characters and storyline, and couldn't get over how easily I got swept away by it. There were some flaws in pacing and other things, but overall it was a great story that I would definitely recommend to fans of things like Buffy and Meg Cabot's Mediator series.
4 stars
Profile Image for Brittany (BritReadsBooks).
256 reviews141 followers
July 12, 2018
*I received a copy of this title from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

Wow, this was a super quick read for me! The writing was light and fluffy, which I probably needed after reading so many dense books. Basically, this book is Buffy meets Supernatual, but it’s more of a parody than anything. It was funny and cute overall, but not really what I expected.

Essentially this book is about a teenage exorcist named Shelby whose mother goes missing and she is stuck training with her grumpy Uncle Roy who is always criticizing her work. Throughout the book, Shelby never really gets a chance to shine and show off her skills, which was kind of sad because I thought she would be this total badass. Instead, this was more of a coming-of-age story in which she is still doubting her abilities to exorcise demons and is also crushing hard on the new guy Spencer at school.

I’ll be honest, take away the demons and you have yourself a cute boy-meets-girl story. I just wish there was more demon action and that Shelby had more of a spotlight. Uncle Roy kept stealing her thunder and I was like NO. BAD UNCLE ROY. Everyone kept trying to shield Shelby from the bad like she was some fragile little girl, but this prevented the growth of her character. In order to learn, she needs to make mistakes, and I feel like she didn’t really get the opportunity to do that.

There definitely could have also been some more action scenes. The book overall kept a pretty steady pace, but I would have liked to have that ‘wow’ moment while reading. One thing I also feel like could have been better was the ending. It felt very low stakes to me and it was almost too easy.

Overall, a cute story filled with demons, fluff, and teen romance and I recommend it to anyone looking for a fun, light read.

Profile Image for Hannah L (Reviewer).
325 reviews44 followers
June 5, 2018
A standalone, When Life Gives You Demons makes light of demon possession, and its kinda funny. An everyday teenager and... well... an exorcist, Shelby is fed up. Her priest-uncle is constantly on her back about her chants and holy water and her grades are slipping. All the while, her Mom has disappeared and Shelby blames herself. As time goes by. demon possessions starts to increase in town, and its up to Shelby to fix it, all the while trying to balance her love life and her school work.
This was a peppier exorcist story. It was hilariously upbeat for content that is usually used in horror movies. I found that it was fairly entertaining in a morbid way. It was a moderately short story, but if you're looking for a weekend binge read, When Life Gives You Demons will fill that role easily. It was witty, lighthearted and oddly unique (since its a YA about exorcists (not exactly common)). Shelby was an okay character. Nothing extremely special, but she did the job of a terrible and kinda likeable main character. As for the romance, it was short but sweet. It won't be winning any awards but I had fun reading it. All in all, I liked it and I give When Life Gives You Demons the rating of FOUR STARS OUT OF FIVE!!!
Want more of me? Go to: http://thenotsopubliclibrary.blogspot.ca
Profile Image for Eileen (BookCatPin).
727 reviews193 followers
July 5, 2018
When Life Gives You Demons was equally as fun and adorable as Jennifer Honeybourn's first novel, Wesley James Ruined My Life. The story's simple plot revolved around the main character learning to fight evil while trying to balance a normal social life.

The story has a Buffy the Vampire Slayer feel to it except with an edge of chill and convenience. I enjoyed the lightness but I also felt a little vexed with the barely there climax. While the demons sounded repulsive and were destructive they didn't really pose any real physical threats except to the exorcists who knew their real identities. In that sense, nothing big really happens in the book. It was a relatively easy story.

The stakes (pun intended haha) were high for Shelby. I can't say much since spoilers but the main problem was personal for her because of what she could lose if she didn't succeed. Shelby may not have been very mature but her will to do better (with her training) had me cheering her on. She didn't let her multiple failures stop her and came through during the most pressing times.

Shelby's best friend Vanessa had very random rebellious streaks but I found her quirkiness to be really fun. She's a positive energy in Shelby's life. Spencer, Shelby's tutor/crush was a sweet boy. I just knew he was going to turn out to be more . Despite some secret-keeping, the two of them were cute together. I liked the way their relationship grew.

When Life Gives You Demons is a piece of cake with a side of lemonade ;) Fast-paced and funny, this is the perfect book to relax and have a laugh with during the summer months!
Profile Image for KL.
97 reviews1 follower
November 12, 2018
It was an exciting read. As usual, I don't like the teenagers and mostly identified with uncle Roy. Also I think the writer didn't do justice on Josh. I was hoping for some kind of closure on Josh at least. All in all, it was fun and definitely a page turner. 10/10 will recommend it if you're looking for something interesting but light.
Profile Image for Tess (Book_Voyage).
190 reviews6 followers
September 30, 2018
This book was a very entertaining and perfect fall/October read! I absolutely love reading about paranormal experiences and this story certainly did not disappoint. This story follows Shelby who is being trained to be an exorcist by her great uncle Roy, who just happens to be a Catholic priest and also an exorcist. Shelby manages to get herself into a great deal of wild adventures and chaos and havoc ensue! I loved her snarkiness and her inner monologues. I feel that the author could have gotten a bit more in depth with the characters. But for a quick, spooky, and autumn read I quite enjoyed it. If you want a easy to follow, spoopy read with demons then this is the book for you! If you ask me, its the perfect book to get you into the Halloween mood!
Profile Image for Jessica Lewis.
337 reviews67 followers
June 24, 2018
Fun approach, light and breezy. Worked as a good palette cleanser after reading a couple of sad books.
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