Monday, July 23, 2018

In a Nutshell Reviews - The Summer of Change Edition


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

I always like looking for how my Nutshell books are connected. These three books share a common thread of romance, obviously. I mean, I read these books, they must have some romance, but they all also happen to take place during the summer. These are just any old summers for these characters either, these are summers of change.

The Impossibility of Us
Katy Upperman
Series: n/a
Age/Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Rating:  4 out of 5 stars
Goodreads
The last thing Elise wants is to start her senior year in a new town. But after her brother’s death in Afghanistan, she and her mother move from San Francisco to a sleepy coastal village.

When Elise meets Mati, they quickly discover how much they have in common. Mati is new to town too, visiting the U.S. with his family. Over the course of the summer, their relationship begins to blossom, and what starts out as a friendship becomes so much more.

But as Elise and Mati grow closer, her family becomes more and more uncomfortable with their relationship, and their concerns all center on one fact—Mati is Afghan.

Beautifully written, utterly compelling, and ultimately hopeful, THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF US asks—how brave can you be when your relationship is questioned by everyone you love?
Buckets, people, I cried buckets of tears reading this one. It was emotional on so many levels. Upperman incorporated ideas of forgiveness, friendship, grief, loss, tolerance, and prejudice into a touching story of first love.
  • Pro: What a beautiful and emotional story. My heart was wrecked in a bunch different ways, but also filled with so much joy. 
  • Pro: I must say, I was a fan of the book format. It was alternating POVs between Elise and Mati, but Mati's chapters were in verse, and they were really gorgeous. 
  • Pro: Mati shared so many wonderful things about his family, his religion, and who he was, and it all made me love him that much more. 
  • Pro:  Mati's Baba was so fabulous, and I found myself hoping his treatments would work, because the world needed a leader like him out there. 
  • Con: I was a little disappointed, that in a book where there was this negativity associated with making generalizations, that the author did just that.  
  • Pro: The relationship between Elise and her niece was so heartwarming, and I got teary-eyed every time she shared those "daddy" stories. My heart --> 💔
  • Pro: I was really impressed by the ending. There were parts I was overjoyed about, and others that I accepted, because it seemed, sadly, realistic. 
Overall:  A beautiful and touching story, which reminds us that love can transcend all barriers.


Summer of Salt
Katrina Leno
Series: n/a
Age/Genre: Young Adult, Magical Realism
Publisher: HarperTeen
Rating:  4 out of 5 stars
Goodreads
A magic passed down through generations . . .

Georgina Fernweh waits with growing impatience for the tingle of magic in her fingers—magic that has been passed down through every woman in her family. Her twin sister, Mary, already shows an ability to defy gravity. But with their eighteenth birthday looming at the end of this summer, Georgina fears her gift will never come.

An island where strange things happen . . .

No one on the island of By-the-Sea would ever call the Fernwehs what they really are, but if you need the odd bit of help—say, a sleeping aid concocted by moonlight—they are the ones to ask.

No one questions the weather, as moody and erratic as a summer storm.

No one questions the (allegedly) three-hundred-year-old bird who comes to roost on the island every year.

A summer that will become legend . . .

When tragedy strikes, what made the Fernweh women special suddenly casts them in suspicion. Over the course of her last summer on the island—a summer of storms, of love, of salt—Georgina will learn the truth about magic, in all its many forms.
This was an important summer for the Fernweh twins. It was a summer to say goodbye to their lovely little island before heading the college. This pending separation and the deadline for Georgina's gifts to manifest were weighing heavily on her heart, and while she wasn't paying attention, something happened, which stole her sister's "bigness". That was a mystery Georgie was determined to solve.
  • Pro: Let's hear it for fantastic and fabulous females! Leno packed this book with a multitude of captivating female characters, who I couldn't get enough of. 
  • Pro: It wasn't just about the strong females, but also the connections they shared. They were there to hold each other up, not tear each other down, and I am a fan of females supporting females. 
  • Pro: The setting and mood of this book were perfection. I loved the island with all its little quirks, traditions, and inhabitants. 
  • Pro: When things went south, and people began shunning the Fernweh sisters, Vira was one of the people, who remained by their side. Besides being a character, who delighted me, she was also a steadfast friend, who Georgie was lucky to have in her life. 
  • Pro: I love Leno's writing, and once again, she beautifully told a story, which touched my heart. There was this part, towards the end of the book, where she talks about a By-the-Sea trial. I cried during this part, as she wrote, "As if out of a fairy tale, nobody asked...." *feels*
  • Pro: I love magical realism and thought Leno expertly wove those magical elements into the book. 
  • Pro: I like a good "non-problem" type LGBT+ romance, and we got one here. It was wonderful being a part of Georgie's adorable romance. I was happy and excited right along with her as those stirrings turned to more. 
Overall: A wonderful and uplifting story of friendship, love, family, and finding your magic.


The Girl You Thought I Was
Rebecca Phillips
Series: n/a
Age/Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: HarperTeen
Rating:  4 out of 5 stars
Goodreads
No one looking at Morgan Kemper would think she had a secret-at least not one that she's deeply ashamed of. To everyone she meets, she comes across as sweet, pretty, and put together. But Morgan knows that looks can be deceiving. For over a year, she's shoplifted countless pieces of clothing and makeup. Each time she tells herself it will be the last, and each time it never is.

But when she's caught and sentenced to thirty hours of community service, the image Morgan has carefully constructed starts to crumble. She's determined to complete her punishment without her friends discovering the truth about her sticky fingers, but that's easier said than done...Especially once she meets Eli, the charming, handsome nephew of the owner of the charity shop where Morgan is volunteering. Soon, Morgan is faced with an impossible decision: continue to conceal the truth or admit that she's lied to everyone in her life, including the boy she's falling for.
Morgan had a dirty little secret, which she thought she hid well, and she did, until she was caught. Now Morgan had to battle to preserve her "good girl" image, while earning back her father's trust and fighting the compulsion to steal.
  • Pro: Phillips captured those emotions related to Morgan's addiction so well. I experienced her highs and her lows, the adrenal rush, and the guilt that followed. It pained me to watch Morgan struggle, and I was hoping she could get to the root of her problem before she lost everything. 
  • Pro: Rita was a really wonderful character. She found beauty in the pain, and I am happy people like her existed in this world. She was someone, who knew the whole truth about Morgan, and still believed in her, and I loved her for that. 
  • Pro: Eli, dear sweet Eli. Eli sort of lost a lot and decided he wouldn't wallow in self pity, and this made me want to grab hold of him and hug him forever. I loved his optimism and his ability to look for the good parts. He was really special and yet flawed, but his flaws were forgivable, because he had such a big heart, was so kind, and was sort of an all-around good guy. 
  • Pro: The romance was quite wonderful. I think Morgan and Eli complimented each other well, and they found their calm in each other. 
  • Pro: The characters in the book were so messy and real. They had struggles and shortcomings, and they had to work through all these things. Though they had their own issues, they were all still there for Morgan when she really needed them, and I appreciated how they tried to support Morgan during her recovery. 
  • Pro: Though I was sometimes disappointed in Morgan, I was always sympathetic towards her. I have to commend Phillips on this, because it not easy to make people care about a character, who at first seems self-centered, selfish, and self-serving. As Phillips pulled the layers away, we learned a lot more about Morgan, and I found myself hoping things would improve for her, that she would make better choices, and that her family could find some healing. 
Overall:  A compelling and realistic portrait of a girl in crisis, who I hoped would be able to put her life back together. 

** ARCs received in exchange for honest reviews.

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

20 comments:

  1. I saw someone else rave about The Impossibility of Us so I'm really excited to giving it a try. I'm even more excited now knowing that it made you cry buckets! I'm not always for emotional books but have been in the mood for them lately.

    Summer of Salt also sounds like such a lovely read. I need to give it a try. I love how positive it seems to be.

    You also make The Girl You Thought I Was sound so mysterious. I'm curious as to what her secret is!

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    1. I pretty much read all these in a row, and it was just a great run of books. All had some romance, which is like a requirement for me, but the focus was really different. If you are looking for some magic and female focus - Summer of Salt. If you want something that deals with prejudice/racism and grief - The Impossibility of Us. If you want something that deals with more mental health and abandonment - The Girl You Thought I Was.

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  2. The Girl I Thought I was sounds so good and so do the first two too. Great reviews!!!

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    1. I have not read many books that focus on shoplifting, and the whole psychology associated with the compulsion was done well in the book, plus a great romance. Honestly, it was close to 4.5 stars for me.

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  3. These all sound really good, but I think I'll try Summer of Salt first. Love the cover. And as always, I'm so charmed by all your sloths!

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    1. My daughter gave me one of the best mother's day gifts with this blog revamp. I smile every time I see sloth on the page (he makes me miss her a lot too). Leno's books are all fabulous, and Summer of Salt got me right in the feels, especially towards the end. There were actual tears.

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  4. Lovely reviews! <3 I am so happy you enjoyed The Impossibility of us, I have read this book and really, really enjoyed it just as well, it was such a beautiful and heartwarming story overall <3
    Summer of Salt is on my TBR, I am so glad you enjoyed it so much, I'm even more impatient to read it now :D

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    1. I liked both Upperman's books. She gave us a great romance with TIoU, and I was a fan of both the characters, which is vital for my enjoyment. I love Leno, so Summer of Salt was an auto-read for me. She delivered quite a punch towards the end of the book.

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  5. I really want to read the first two so I am happy ou enjoyed them. Great reviews!

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    1. All were great. I hope you get to some of them

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  6. I'm so, so happy to see you enjoyed Summer of Salt. The writing was stunning, the setting was so atmospheric, and the friendships/sibling relationships/romantic relationships were all so healthy and wonderful. Plus, the feminist themes were a huge bonus!

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    1. Yes! Everything you said. I am definitely a solid Leno fan after this book.

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  7. I haven't read these but I so live your mini reviews. It's handy! Sophie @bewareofthereader

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    1. Thanks! I was trying to find a good format, that allowed me to share several books without being overwhelming for the reader

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  8. THE GIRL YOU THOUGHT I WAS sounds really good. I've always wondered about the psychology behind kleptomania. It also sounds like this is a good redemption-type book and I always like those.

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    1. I sort of like when an author sheds light on different issues, and I thought the mania of the addiction came across really well.

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  9. How do you always manage to find these books I've not heard of but sounds really good? The Impossibility of Us sounds like it could be interesting. The con about generalisations could be a big issue but it does sound like an interesting read. The Girl You Thought I Was sounds brilliant. Definitely a book I would really enjoy, and one which I want to check out. Some great reviews here.

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    1. I read a lot of blogs! They make me find the books. >_<
      I wasn't surprised that some politics crept into The Impossibility of Us, but I was disappointed, because it went against the message of the book. Other than a few comments, the author made a good attempt to keep it balanced, which I appreciated. Everything in the US has been politicized, and I am just tired of it, and maybe hypersensitive to it too. I'm a lonely moderate in a sea of extremists.

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  10. The first two books sound like light hearted and fun summery reads. But the last one is the one that really catches my eye because it features shop lifting and an addiction to it. I haven't actually read anything like that before and I honestly don't know how you can even shoplift in this day and age with all the technology guarding against it. So it intrigues me for many reasons I guess - and it sounds like it was done well too!

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    1. The beginning of the book is the MC actually stealing something. It was really detailed, and such an interesting peek into her mind.

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