Friday, March 9, 2018

In a Nutshell Reviews

In a Nutshell Reviews are my version of mini-reviews, because sometimes, you just want the highlights.


More Than We Can Tell
Brigid Kemmerer
Series: n/a
Age/Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's Books
Rating:  4 out of 5 stars
Goodreads
*While this book exists in the same universe as Letters to the Lost, it is a standalone title.

Rev Fletcher is battling the demons of his past. But with loving adoptive parents by his side, he’s managed to keep them at bay...until he gets a letter from his abusive father and the trauma of his childhood comes hurtling back.

Emma Blue spends her time perfecting the computer game she built from scratch, rather than facing her parents’ crumbling marriage. She can solve any problem with the right code, but when an online troll’s harassment escalates, she’s truly afraid.

When Rev and Emma meet, they both long to lift the burden of their secrets and bond instantly over their shared turmoil. But when their situations turn dangerous, their trust in each other will be tested in ways they never expected. This must-read story will once again have readers falling for Brigid Kemmerer’s emotional storytelling.
I LOVED Letters to the Lost, and was so excited that one of my favorite side characters from that book was getting his own story. We got a glimpse of Rev's complicated past in Letters, and Kemmerer did a wonderful job letting us really see who he was beneath the hoodie.
  • Pro: Rev was the biggest draw for me. His life before was filled with pain, and I liked the way Kemmerer slowly revealed those details to us. His past was related to us from multiple people, and I especially loved hearing about it from Kristin, his mom. 
  • Pro: Kristin and Geoff were just the most wonderful YA parents. I have such an admiration for people, who are able to open their homes and hearts to foster children, especially the ones that are slightly damaged, and really need some healing love. It's so wonderful that Kemmerer brings attention to these kinds of people, and that she created such wonderful characters to represent them. 
  • Pro: Emma and Rev were pretty special together. Emma was able to see in Rev what very few people could, and I was so glad they found each other. I also thought that they were very well drawn characters, and I cared about them both. 
  • Pro: Declan really had the patience of a saint. Rev was struggling in a big way with some things, and Dec was there for him. Through the outbursts and moods, he stood by his side, ready to support him. 
  • Pro: Speaking of Rev's struggle, his inner turmoil was conveyed so well, and the way it seeped into all parts of his life was very believable. I totally felt his pain through the page. 
  • Pro: Emma grew a lot over the course of this story. Her whole world got titled on its side, and she was forced to confront certain realities in her home life. She damaged some relationships , and was forced to reflect on her actions and repair the wreckage. 
  • Pro: We find out the meaning behind Rev's name, and it was pretty cool. 
  • Con: I liked the ending overall, but I wish we had gotten a little bit more after the BIG thing happened. I just would have liked to have seen more of Rev and Emma as a couple. 
  • Pro: But, it was a very sweet ending, so I was not upset by any means.   
  • Pro: Kemmerer takes on a bunch of topics in this one: divorce, abuse, the foster system, and cyber bullying, and I thought she wove them all into the story quite well. 
  • Pro: Matthew was an interesting addition to this book. He, like Rev, had a horrific past, and I sort of hope we will get a third book in this world that will feature Matthew's story. 
  • Pro: This book had some romance, suspense, drama, and humor, which delivered a bunch of feels. 
The demons in my head are quiet. Or maybe they've been tames by the people in this house. 
Overall: A beautiful story of connection, family, and the power love has to heal, which really touched my heart.


In Search of Us
Ava Dellaria
Series: n/a
Age/Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Rating:  4.5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads
The author of the beloved Love Letters to the Dead returns with a parallel story of a mother and daughter each at age seventeen. Marilyn's tale recounts the summer she fell in love and set out on her own path. Angie's story is about her search for her unknown father.

This sweeping multi-generational love story introduces readers to mother-and-daughter pair Marilyn and Angie. To seventeen-year-old Angie, who is mixed-race, Marilyn is her hardworking, devoted white single mother. But Marilyn was once young, too. When Marilyn was seventeen, she fell in love with Angie's father, James, who was African-American. But Angie's never met him, and Marilyn has always told her he died before she was born. When Angie discovers evidence of an uncle she's never met she starts to wonder: What if her dad is still alive, too? So she sets off on a journey to find him, hitching a ride to LA from her home in New Mexico with her ex-boyfriend, Sam. Along the way, she uncovers some hard truths about herself, her mother, and what truly happened to her father.
I had wanted to read this book for many reasons. One, I really enjoyed Love Letters to the Dead. Two, I love multigenerational stories. Three, coming of age tales always work for me. Four, I never pass up a good romance. I am not quite sure what I was expecting from this book, but it delivered a total feelsplosion and was so beautifully tragic, I am kind of choked up right now just thinking about it.
  • Pro: I wasn't sure at first, but I grew to love the alternating timeline. Contrasting Angie and her mom at the same age was quite fascinating. 
  • Pro: The romance between Marilyn and James was so swoony and gooey. I just couldn't get enough of them. They had these aspirations and were working together to try and make their dreams come true.
  • Pro: James' family was really special. They experienced a lot of heartbreak, but they worked hard to fill those cracks with love. They were extraordinary people, who opened their home and hearts to Marilyn, and gave her the affection she was yearning for. 
  • Pro: Marilyn's grief ran so deep, and she carried it around with her for so many years. I ached for her, and was so happy that Angie went on this quest to find the girl in the picture. 
  • Pro: Sam was sort of broody, but he blew me away with his honesty and deep adoration for Angie. I totally understood his need for self-preservation, but also admired his willingness to support Angie after the way things went down. 
  • Con: I would have liked to have a gotten a little more resolution as it pertained to Angie. The ending was sweet, and I felt really good about where we left Marilyn, but I still had quite a few questions about Angie.  
  • Pro: The story is peppered with a great songs and all these amazing book quotes. I found myself wistfully revising the 90s, while pondering all these thoughts Dellaira shared with me. 
  • Pro: Dellaira really made us wait to get the truth about Angie's dad. I kept concocting things in my mind. I had two theories, and it looked like my second one could be right, but then the truth was so much more devastating. 
  • Pro: I have so many emotions. My heart actually hurts for what was lost, but I am comforted by the way things eventually played out. 
When his eyes met hers and she "snapped" her picture, it was her own version of love at first sight. 
Overall: This was a an utterly exquisite experience for me. This book was fraught with emotion and meaning and so many wonderful characters to love. It tugged on my heartstrings, and made me weep, but it also made me smile.


The Science of Breakable Things
Tae Keller
Series: n/a
Age/Genre: Middle Grades, Contemporary
Publisher: Random House
Rating:  4 out of 5 stars
Goodreads
How do you grow a miracle?
For the record, this is not the question Mr. Neely is looking for when he says everyone in class must answer an important question using the scientific method. But Natalie's botanist mother is suffering from depression, so this is The Question that's important to Natalie. When Mr. Neely suggests that she enter an egg drop competition, Natalie has hope.

Eggs are breakable. Hope is not.
Natalie has a secret plan for the prize money. She's going to fly her mother to see the Cobalt Blue Orchids--flowers that survive against impossible odds. The magical flowers are sure to inspire her mother to love life again. Because when parents are breakable, it's up to kids to save them, right?
I saw this book, and I was curious. The author was employing one of my favorite things, science, to tell the story of a young woman dealing with her mother's mental health issues, and it was done beautifully.
  • Pro: Natalie was a charming and engaging narrator. Her voice was clear and real, and I cared very much about what she had to say. 
  • Pro: Nat's squad was top notch. Twig was already her steadfast friend, who grew over the course of the book, and she demonstrated how she was a true friend and supporter of Natalie's. I also thought Davi was a fabulous addition to their twosome, and together, this "team" had great strength. 
  • Pro: You have to know, that the science geek in me was all over so many things in this book. There were awesome illustrations, fun science investigations, and I loved when Natalie's reflections were told via the science report format. The way the formats were employed was very thoughtful and effective as well. 
  • Con: I liked dad, but I would have liked to know what his hang up was with his Korean heritage, and I would have liked to have seen Natalie explore that a little more with him. It was treated in passing in the book, which made it stand out to me. 
  • Pro: Yeah for therapy! Natalie's dad is a therapist, and he takes her to a therapist. Natalie may joke about therapist "tricks", but in the end, she admitted it made her feel better. At first, I thought maybe the family was ashamed of mom's mental health issues, but I think them keeping it under wraps had more to do with Natalie's youth, than shame. 
  • Pro: Keller did such a good job making me understand how Natalie felt about her mother's health issues. I ached for Natalie. When she would talk about her mother in the past tense, and how she missed her, it really tugged at my heart. 
  • Pro: So much growth! Natalie grew tremendously over the course of this book, and started seeing things that were always there in a new way. Keller expertly took us through Natalie's struggle to understand what had happened to her mother. It was real, it was honest, and her emotions were believable. 
  • Pro: There were all these fantastic things accomplished in the writing. The metaphors and parallels Keller presented were quite beautiful. 
  • Pro: This book deals with something painful and sad, but it moves in the direction of hope, which worked for me. 
In her book, she'd written: Science is living. Science is asking questions and finding answers and never, ever stopping. I wanted to scream her own words at her, and I wanted to say, Why did you stop? 
Overall:  An honest look at how mental health issues can affect others within a family, which was told thoughtfully and beautifully. 

** ARCs received in exchange for honest reviews.









Have you read any of these books?
Let us know in the comments!

28 comments:

  1. I really enjoyed More Than We Can Tell. Rev and Emma were great. In Search of Us is one I want to read so glad you liked it. Great reviews!

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    1. I was surprised at how many people didn't like Emma. I liked her. In Search of Us is so, so wonderful! If you love an epic romance and can handle some tragedy, you will like it.

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  2. I'm so glad you enjoyed More Than We Can Tell too! Rev really was an amazing character to explore. In Search of Us is on my tbr but now I'm excited to read it even more! I don't think I've seen any reviews for it yet besides yours.

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    1. You cannot help but love Rev. What I love most is that instead of letting his past ruin him, it made him a better person. I ADORED In Search of Us. It's heartbreaking and heartwarming and so wonderful.

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    2. Shannon at It Starts at Midnight did an awesome mood board of the book recently

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  3. I have only seen glowing reviews for More Than We Can Tell, it makes me more excited to read it!

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    1. I knew it was going to be good. Kemmerer had such awesome characters to begin with, and we just got to know them better in this book. Hope you enjoy it when you read it.

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  4. Great reviews! I added The Science of Breakable Things to my TBR list because I’ve been looking for more middlegrade to read.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

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    1. That book was almost 4.5 for me. It was really lovely, charming, and sweet, while tackling a serious issue. It was well done. Other MGs contemporaries I adored: Flipped and Wonder. So good.

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  5. I can't wait to read More Than We Can Tell. I love the idea of foster parents opening their home up. Great review!

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    1. I adored Rev's parents in Letter to the Lost, and we got to spend even more time with them in this book. They are wonderful!

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  6. Mostly positive reactions to all three! It sounds like you've been reading some great ones recently!

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    1. My secret is that I don't finish books I am not enjoying, and I don't tend to feature the less than stellar ones for the most part. These were all wonderful reads, with In Search of Us exceeding my expectations.

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  7. I was curious about all three of these, so I'm happy you've shared your thoughts on them! In Search of us sounds really wonderful! I want to revisit the 90s, lol.

    Do You Dog-ear?

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    1. In Search of Us was so wonderful. There's a big stupid grin on my face just thinking about it.

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  8. Goodness, I adored In Search of Us, too! I was kind of shocked by how incredible it was, because I *hated* Love Letters to the Dead. Haaaated. But it just goes to show that you really can't judge an author by one book! Because ISOU was sooooo fabulous. For some reason, I cannot find the desire to read More Than We Can Tell, and I seriously can't put my finger on why. I liked Letters to the Lost, but... no motivation. Maybe I'll get there one of these days hah. Fabulous reviews!

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    1. ISOU was a lot more than I expected. I think it was supposed to be Angie's story, but it was really Marilyn's story that captivated me, and I feel we got more closure on her story than Angie's as well. Nonetheless, I loved it so much and thought it was utterly beautiful and moving.

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  9. I have In Search of Us on my TBR and it sounds amazing and so emotional, exactly the kind of book I could love. I can't wait to read it now :) Fantastic reviews! :) x

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    1. I absolutely adored that book! It's happy and sad and full of feels.

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  10. Ahhh I just finished More Than We Can Tell today, and I totally agree with your thoughts!! I loved Kristin and Geoff so, so much and Rev was just the most precious soul! I definitely want to pick up In Search Of Us, I'm so glad you loved it so much. :) Lovely reviews!

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    1. Kristin and Geoff were just so special. I want to know them in real life. I will scream my love for In Search of Us from the mountain tops. If you like love stories, this one is beautiful and complicated and heartbreaking, but still so wonderful.

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  11. This is the first I've heard of The Science of Unbreakable Things -- and I am impressed with how well it's treated mental illness and her family, and with science to boot!

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    1. I have been finding some really great middle grades books, and am so impressed with the diversity of issues they tackle. It's interesting reading how a certain issue is handled across the ages, and I find they are handled quite beautifully in MG (at least the ones I have read).

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  12. Letters to the Lost is on my TBR I can't wait to get to it! It's great to know there is at least another book in the same universe :)

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    1. Letters was SO good! I hope you get to it.

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  13. More Than We Can Tell is a book I have been seeing around quite a lot so I was interested in your review. I am so glad you were able to love it and that there was only one little con to it at all. Sounds good to me :)

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    1. I think a lot of people loved Rev in Letters to the Lost, I know that is why I was excited to read this book. Rev's story was as awesome as I wanted it to be.

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