Monday, May 21, 2018

In a Nutshell Reviews

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


Puddin'
Julie Murphy
Series: Dumplin', #2
Age/Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Blazer + Bray
Rating:  4 out of 5 stars
Goodreads
It is a companion novel to Dumplin', which follows supporting characters from the first book in the months after Willowdean's star turn in the Clover City pageant.

Millie Michalchuk has gone to fat camp every year since she was a girl. Not this year. This year she has new plans to chase her secret dream—and to kiss her crush. Callie Reyes is the pretty girl who is next in line for dance team captain and has the popular boyfriend. But when it comes to other girls, she’s more frenemy than friend. When circumstances bring the girls together over the course of a semester, they will surprise everyone (especially themselves) by realizing they might have more in common than they ever imagined.

What happened when the resident mean girl was forced to work with one of the kindest, sweetest misfits in town? They formed an unlikely friendship, which had its ups and downs, but was mostly heartwarming.
  • Pro: EVERYone loved Millie when she made her appearance in Dumplin', and I am happy to report, that she was more than capable of carrying a book on her own. Her positive outlook and zeal for the little things was contagious, and she was just so genuine. Millie's life was not without obstacles or struggles, but she would try to work through them, and use the power of positive thinking to make her dreams come to fruition. What's not to love? 
  • Pro: Callie was so flawed and the polar opposite of Millie. While many thought she had it all, she was actually battling her insecurities of fitting in and her identity issues due to being half white and half Mexican. These things made me sympathetic towards Callie, and I am always happy when a character experiences the amount of growth that Callie did. 
  • Pro: Redemption arcs are a favorite of mine. I am all about the idea that we can mess up, pay the price, and then try to redeem ourselves. Forgiveness really is a virtue, and although it may be hard to forgive some people, I am glad that grace is a gift that is out there, and I was happy with how it worked out for Callie. 
  • Pro: This friendship was mutually beneficial to Callie and Millie. Each gained so much by nurturing this relationship, and I really loved that it was not one sided. 
  • Pro: Murphy always gives us these adorable romances. The romances are not the main focus of this story, but they are there, off to the side, and I really enjoyed each little peek we got at these fabulous couples. 
  • Pro: The strengths of this book were the female friendships. I adored being with the members of the sleepover club, and seeing their bond grow stronger and stronger. Most of all, I loved seeing women supporting women. 
  • Pro: Me and endings are a thing, and this book had a great one. I am all about the feel-good, and Murphy delivered.  
Overall:  A great girl-power book, filled with friendship, romance, and humor, which left me swimming in happy feels.


Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now
Dana L. Davis
Series: n/a
Age/Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Goodreads
I’ve got seven days to come clean to my new dad. Seven days to tell the truth…

For sixteen-year-old Tiffany Sly, life hasn’t been safe or normal for a while. Losing her mom to cancer has her a little bit traumatized and now she has to leave her hometown of Chicago to live with the biological dad she’s never known.

Anthony Stone is a rich man with four other daughters—and rules for every second of the day. Tiffany tries to make the best of things, but she doesn’t fit into her new luxurious, but super-strict, home—or get along with her standoffish sister London. The only thing that makes her new life even remotely bearable is the strange boy across the street. Marcus McKinney has had his own experiences with death, and the unexpected friendship that blossoms between them is the only thing that makes her feel grounded.

But Tiffany has a secret. Another man claims he’s Tiffany’s real dad—and she only has seven days before he shows up to demand a paternity test and the truth comes out. With her life about to fall apart all over again, Tiffany finds herself discovering unexpected truths about her father, her mother and herself, and realizing that maybe family is in the bonds you make—and that life means sometimes taking risks.
I couldn't imagine being thrown into a situation like Tiffany's. While still mourning her mother's death, she was uprooted, and moved into, essentially, a whole new world, and I really enjoyed being there with her while she tried to figure it all out.
  • Pro: I had a strong pull towards Tiffany from the very beginning of the story. I absolutely loved her voice, and wanted to know everything about her. She was nursing a lot of pain and sometimes lashed out, but I understood her and empathized with her, and this girl had a wicked sense of humor that I just couldn't get enough of. 
  • Pro: Marcus!!! He was probably one of the oddest characters I have encountered lately, but I just adored him. His backstory, his mannerisms, and his quirks just endeared him to me, but man, when he talked, I wanted to listen to him. He was definitely on a higher plane. 
  • Pro: I would say all of the characters were quite interesting and well drawn, but standouts for me were Jo, Marcus' mother, Keelah, Tiffany's best friend, and Juanita, Tiffany's grandmother. I also think I would have loved Tiffany's mother, because the pieces of her that were revealed to us via memories showed she was a very special person. 
  • Con: This book took on A LOT of issues - racism, self identity, religion/faith, autism, mental health, and self identity to name a few, and sometimes I thought it was a bit much
  • Pro: HOWEVER, I did appreciate the way Davis balanced the heavy and the light, thus preventing the story from being too weighty. 
  • Pro: I cannot pretend I didn't love the way Davis challenged stereotypes in such a straightforward way. 
  • Pro: Though it was not a main storyline, Tiffany's anxiety and OCD was featured, and I thought it was done well. 
  • Pro: I had so many emotions. There were times when I was angry, happy, sad, and glad, and I love being taken on that sort of roller coaster. 
  • Pro: It was interesting practicing Jehovah's Witnesses in a YA book. I think this is a first for me. 
  • Pro: Characters were able to redeem themselves. This was such an important thing for me, and was glad Davis let her characters grow and change. 
Overall: A thought provoking story of family and identity, which made me rage and warmed my heart.

Read the author's thoughts on this book.


Suitors and Sabotage
Cindy Anstey
Series: n/a
Age/Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads
Shy aspiring artist Imogene Chively has just had a successful Season in London, complete with a suitor of her father's approval. Imogene is ambivalent about the young gentleman until he comes to visit her at the Chively estate with his younger brother in tow. When her interest is piqued, however, it is for the wrong brother.

Charming Ben Steeple has a secret: despite being an architectural apprentice, he has no drawing aptitude. When Imogene offers to teach him, Ben is soon smitten by the young lady he considers his brother's intended.

But hiding their true feelings becomes the least of their problems when, after a series of "accidents," it becomes apparent that someone means Ben harm. And as their affection for each other grows—despite their efforts to remain just friends—so does the danger. . .
Last year, I read my first Cindy Anstey book, Duels and Deception. I found it so delightful, and can honestly say, that history repeated itself here with Suitors and Sabotage.
  • Pro: Imogene played the part of the a lady, but she had dreams of doing her own thing and being more than just a wife and lady of the manor. Her passion and her conviction were fabulous, and I love that Anstey always gives us a somewhat feminist heroine in all her books. 
  • Pro: Ben was so charming, and I adored the way he subtly adored Imogene. For a man of that time, he showed a great support for her talent and dreams as well. 
  • Pro: Anstey always mixes romances with a little suspense, and I am a fan of this blend. 
  • Con: I understand the "sabotage" events were important, but I would have like more of the romance and less of the "sabotage".
  • Pro: Emily and Imogene shared a wonderful friendship, to the point that Imogene was considered part of Emily's family and they were a huge source of love and support for her, which was missing in her own home. 
  • Pro: Anstey knows how to do this time period, and I don't know what it is, but I always find reading books set in the Regency time period so delightful. The propriety of the era makes every touch and glance that much more meaningful.  
Overall:  A charming period romance, with a hero and heroine, who won my heart, and a romance, which left me with a light heart.  

** ARCs received in exchange for honest reviews.









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

36 comments:

  1. ALL of these sound so so, good! Like, honestly, isn't it amazing when great books come our way? :') Puddin' and Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now, I've been eyeing for quite sometime, so I'm glad they delivered. I actually have to get around to Dumplin' first, sigh. I'm awful at dealing with my tbr. Great reviews, Sam! Thanks for sharing <33

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    1. I loved Dumplin'. That's why I was so excited to be back in that world. Tiffany Sly has a lot of great things to offer, and I enjoyed it a lot. Warning: her dad is going to do a LOT of things that will anger you, but it's obviously intentional for the story.

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  2. I've seen a few good reviews for Puddin' now, and nice to hear it ends well. :)

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    1. I like Murphy, and her books have a message without being preachy. What I love most about her books is that they are about self acceptance.

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  3. I need to get Puddin! I really enjoyed Dumpling and her other books so I am excited for this one. Great reviews!

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    1. Puddin' had the same charm of Dumplin'. It didn't have a big beauty pageant, but it was still about friendship and loving yourself.

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  4. Tiffany Sly sounds really good. There seems to be a lot of drama going on in that one. I might have to add it to my TBR list. Great reviews!

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

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    1. I enjoyed Tiffany Sly. Davis focused on some things that you don't see a lot in YA, and the book was heartwarming and entertaining.

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  5. I still need to read Dumplin'! So good to hear amazing things about the sequel. Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now sounds like one I would enjoy too!

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    1. I am such a Dumplin' fan. That was my gateway Julie Murphy book, and I have grown to love her books.

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  6. Puddin' sounds awesome! I do love a good redemption book and also one with strong friendships. Great reviews!

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    1. Murphy gave us a pretty unlikable character, who had done some dastardly things in her past, but she learned from it, changed, and redeemed herself. It's an important message.

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  7. Awesome reviews! I cannot wait to read Puddin' because I LOVED Dumplin' so very much.

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    1. I hope you get to read it, because it has that charm that won me over in Dumplin'.

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  8. I thought Dumplin' was just okay, but I have loved other Julie Murphy books and it seems like I've heard nothing but great things about Puddin'! I always love a girl-friendship-focused book. And I also have a thing about endings, so it makes me really happy to hear that Puddin' had a great one! Duels & Deception was also my first Anstey book, and I really enjoyed it! Historical fiction is my favorite, and her books are so much fun. I will definitely be picking up Suitors & Sabotage when I want a light historical fiction YA! Awesome reviews, Sam. :)

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    1. It's an interesting friendship Murphy assembled in Puddin' and I liked watching the friendship take root and grow. Suitors was cute. Anstey really knows her way around that time period.

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  9. I still haven’t read Dumplin’. I need to. I hear good things.

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    1. I am a fan. It was why I read Murphy's other books.

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  10. Oh I really want to read Tiffany Sly, I'm so glad to hear you enjoyed it so much and liked the main character's voice this much. I can't wait to read it now :D Thank you so much for sharing! :)

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    1. I couldn't help but like Tiffany. She was just a good person, in addition to be funny and pretty brave too.

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  11. I still need to read Dumplin', but Puddin' sounds so good. I'm all about girl power books. Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now is another one that I really want to read. I also still haven't read Duels & Deception. Gah, so many books so little time, lol.

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    1. You could read Puddin' without reading Dumplin', but I like knowing Willow Dean's story.

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  12. Suitors and Sabotage sounds very cute! I love the mix of romance and suspense. I like "period" stories as well.

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    1. It's Anstey's sweet spot, and she is really well versed in the time period.

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  13. These are all pretty new to me. I do want to read Dumplin' so it is nice to know that the second book is a good one. I am wondering if I might like Suitors and Sabatoge a bit more than you since the sabatoge is the big draw :) Great reviews!

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    1. I adored Dumplin'. She has this huge personality, and I just wanted to know her better.

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  14. I find the cover of Tiffany Sly so mesmerising. And the book too of course :) But such a wonderful diverse selection, Sam.

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    1. Whoever chose the cover model did a magnificent job, because she totally fits the description of Tiffany in the book.

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  15. I need to read Julie Murphy's books already! They all sound so good! Like you, I love a good redemption arc so that aspect of Puddin' is really appealing to me. It's always nice to see characters learn from their mistakes. I want to read Suitors and Sabotage based on the title alone, but that's too bad that the sabotage outweighed the romance. Great reviews!

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    1. I really appreciate the voice Murphy gives to bigger girls. I think there are a lot of people, who can relate to her stories. Anstey's books are always fun, and if you like the Regency time period, you could appreciate her books.

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  16. I checked and my library has the audiobook of Tiffany Sly available through Hoopla, so I added it to my Favorites list. Sounds like a really good book, though perhaps filled with a few too many issues.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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    1. Just be warned - Tiffany's father is difficult to like, but it's intentional. I was really ragey towards him.

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  17. Tiffany Sly Lives Here sounds like such a good book, like one where you can learn a lot from it. I have been seeing good reviews everywhere and I am definitely going to be reading it. I am glad you liked Puddin' as well ;)

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    1. Tiffany Sly was a great reading experience for me. I like Davis' style and am looking forward to more from her. Tiffany was easy to love, and I thought Davis did a good job with the family drama.

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  18. I obviously have Puddin on my TBR and I cannot wait to get reading that (or you know, get around to buying it). Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now is a new on to me and it sounds really good, I definitely want to read that. It looks like it's a really good book and your review has me convinced I'll enjoy it. And Suitors and Sabotage may have had too much sabotage but I don't even care, I know that'll be one I like. I just can tell from the summary.

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    1. Puddin' was a great follow up to Dumplin'. Honestly, all the books were good. It will be all about what you're in the mood for. A girl power friendship story - Dumplin'. An interesting and heartwarming family drama - Tiffany Sly. A fun period piece - Suitors.

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