Thursday, October 18, 2018

In a Nutshell Reviews


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

In Your Shoes
Donna Gephart
Series: n/a
Age/Genre: Middle Grades, Contemporary
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Rating:  4.5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads
The critically acclaimed author of Lily and Dunkin delivers another heartfelt story that will remind readers you never know who needs a friend the most, about two imaginative tweens who help each other find new beginnings.

Miles is an anxious boy who loves his family's bowling center even if though he could be killed by a bolt of lightning or a wild animal that escaped from the Philadelphia Zoo on the way there.

Amy is the new girl at school who wishes she didn't have to live above her uncle's funeral home and tries to write her way to her own happily-ever-after.

Then Miles and Amy meet in the most unexpected way . . . and that's when it all begins. . . .
What happens when the anxious bowler's shoe hits the lonely new girl on the head? They strike up a great friendship, of course.
  • Pro: This book delivered so many feels! It was touching and heartwarming and just so precious and sweet. I swear my heart exploded over and over again as I read this book. 
  • Pro: Family was a really important part of this story, and Gephart doesn't just show the bright and shiny side of family. She also showed the imperfect side, and I like that she included some family conflict, because it gave her a chance to explore things like resolution and forgiveness. 
  • Pro: What an interesting group of kids. Amy was a writer, Miles was a bowling hustler, Randall was a fashionista, and Tate was a knitting weight-lifter. I absolutely adored all four of them, and their friendship was spectacular. 
  • Pro: Gephart really did an outstanding job thoughtfully exploring feelings of loneliness, grief, and regret. And, I loved seeing boys, who shared their emotions with each other. It's so important for young men to see that it's acceptable to be in touch with their feelings. 
  • Pro: I really enjoyed the way the story was told. It was alternating third person omniscient, with the addition of a third point of view, "a nosy, noisy narrator", who I really enjoyed. 
  • Pro: This entire book tugged at my heartstrings, but the ending totally snapped them. It was so, so sweet and unexpected, and I think it could give a lot of comfort to a tween, who had suffered a loss.  
Overall: An endearing story of friendship, loss, endings, and beginnings, which touched my heart.


Mammoth
Jill Baguchinsky
Series: n/a
Age/Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Turner Publishing
Rating:  4 out of 5 stars
Goodreads
The summer before her junior year, paleontology geek Natalie Page lands a coveted internship at an Ice Age dig site near Austin. Natalie, who’s also a plus-size fashion blogger, depends on the retro style she developed to shield herself from her former bullies, but vintage dresses and perfect lipstick aren’t compatible with prospecting for fossils in the Texas heat. But nothing is going to dampen Natalie’s spirit — she’s exactly where she wants to be, and she gets to work with her hero, a rock-star paleontologist who hosts the most popular paleo podcast in the world. And then there’s Chase the intern, who’s seriously cute, and Cody, a local boy who’d be even cuter if he were less of a grouch.

It’s a summer that promises to be about more than just mammoths.

Until it isn’t.

When Natalie’s hero turns out to be anything but, and steals the credit for one of her accomplishments, Nat has to unearth the confidence she needs to stand out in a field dominated by dudes. To do this, she’ll have to let her true self shine, even if that means defying all the rules for the sake of a major discovery.
Right before entering high school, Natalie underwent a transformation from Fat Nat to Awesome Natalie. Makeup and fashion became her armor, protecting her both physically and emotionally from the judgement of others. However, during her summer internship, she discovered she was more than the hair, clothes, and makeup, and she was awesome with or without it all.
  • Pro: Natalie was driven, determined, and resilient. She was very likable and her exuberance for vintage clothing and paleontology made me excited about vintage clothing and paleontology. I also felt her struggle with her body image was realistic, because I know I feel the same way and exhibit many of the same behaviors as those described in the book. 
  • Pro: Our fine protagonist made a few bad decisions over the course of this story. However, Baguchinsky did not let her get away with anything. Nat suffered consequences for her actions, and I was glad to see she had to pay for her mistakes. 
  • Pro: I love science, and was therefore, very excited to see such a fabulous STEM-girl story. Not only did we hear of Natalie's love for paleontology, but there was a lot of science incorporated into the story. My area of study were the physical sciences, so I really enjoyed learning more about paleontology. 
  • Pro: Fossilista was awesome! Natalie's blog posts were a fun touch to the story, and the Look of the Day graphics were a nice peek at Nat in her full armor. 
  • Pro: Growth! Natalie was living by the motto "fake it, till you make it", but over the course of the internship, she grew more confident, and began to show more of her true self. I loved watching her slowly shed pieces of "Awesome Natalie" as she grew to realize her true worth. 
  • Pro: Though it was a smaller part of the story, there was a cute romance in there, and I totally shipped Natalie and this guy. 
Overall: A story of one girl's journey to find her true self, which was filled with fun, fashion, and "paleo-squeals".


This is What it Feels Like
Rebecca Barrow
Series: n/a
Age/Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: HarperTeen
Rating:  4.5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads
It doesn’t matter what the prize for the Sun City Originals contest is this year. Who cares that’s it’s fifteen grand? Who cares about a gig opening for one of the greatest bands to ever play this town?

Not Dia, that’s for sure. Because Dia knows that without a band, she hasn’t got a shot at winning Sun City. Because ever since Hanna’s drinking took over her life, Dia and Jules haven’t been in it. And ever since Hanna left — well, there hasn’t been a band.

It used to be the three of them, Dia, Jules, and Hanna, messing around and making music and planning for the future. But that was then, and this is now — and now means a baby, a failed relationship, a stint in rehab, all kinds of off beats that have interrupted the rhythm of their friendship. No contest can change that. Right?

But like the lyrics of a song you used to play on repeat, there’s no forgetting a best friend. And for Dia, Jules, and Hanna, this impossible challenge — to ignore the past, in order to jumpstart the future — will only become possible if they finally make peace with the girls they once were, and the girls they are finally letting themselves be.

Rebecca Barrow’s tender story of friendship, music, and ferocious love asks — what will you fight for, if not yourself?
Three life changing events caused their friendship to crumble, but when the opportunity of a lifetime presents itself, will Dia, Jules, and Hanna be able to overcome their past in order to forge their future?
  • Pro: The characters in this book were dealing with a lot of life issues. Some were small and some were LARGE, but watching them navigate these rough patches, and seeing them learn and grow was so gratifying for me. 
  • Pro: What stood out to me was the friendship between Dia, Jules, and Hanna. It was broken, and each of them was not the same person they were when it fell apart. They had many obstacles to overcome in order to rebuild what they had lost, and Barrow had me rooting for them the whole time. 
  • Pro: The story was told in alternating POVs, which I am a fan of, but what I really liked was the extra POV Barrow put in there. I think this particular POV served more than one purpose, but what I loved about it was that it came from someone outside the friendship. This person was able to see those good things that Dia, Hanna, and Jules forgot about their relationship. 
  • Pro: Each one of these characters had something in their past keeping them from enjoying something in their present. From addiction to failed relationships, they all had to come to terms with that something in order to move forward, and I think many can identify with that. 
  • Pro: I love fierce girls in bands and girls supporting girls, which was what I was treated to in this book. Barrow did a great job taking me on stage with Wildfire and bringing me through the highs and lows of their road to the Sun City Originals. 
  • Pro: EPILOGUE!!!! I am forever happy with authors, who gift me with epilogues, and this one was fabulous. It's a little bit of a jump ahead, and really does a nice job allaying many of my fears about the girls' futures. 
Overall:  This was a great story of three friends finding their way back to each other as they navigated their own personal issues. It was messy, complicated, and really wonderful. 

** ARCs received in exchange for honest reviews.



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

28 comments:

  1. All of these sound lovely and adorable, but This Is What It Feels Like sounds like my kind of read. I love a good book that focuses on friendship. And an epilogue to boot too! Glad these were all hits for you!

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    1. Feels Like was awesome for me. It really broke my heart to read a piece Barrow wrote in response to the book. It's an excellent story of friendship and shared love of music.

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  2. Looks like another bunch of great books. How do you get so lucky? I always manage a dud or two a month in my reading.

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    1. I only post reviews for the books I liked, and I DNF when the books aren't working for me

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  3. All the books are new to me. Like the mini reviews.
    sherry @ fundinmental

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    1. Thanks. I don't only 1 has been released so far

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  4. I read Mammoth as an ARC too and can second all of your pros. I loved Natalie.

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  5. This is exactly the amount of review I like--enough to give me the flavor and tone without revealing anything I'd rather discover for myself. I'm excited about Gephart's new book. As you know, I was a big fan of her previous one!

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    1. I read the Gephart because of you. I will definitely read more of her books. The Nutshells are actually challenging to write, but point out non-specifics that I liked or didn't like

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  6. Mammoth is on my TBR too!!!! Great mini reviews here Sam, you give us all in a nutshell ;-)

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    1. I hope you like it, when you read it. I found Natalie easy to cheer for

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  7. Wow, you really liked these. They sound sweet and fun.

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    1. Lots of happy feels with these, and quite a bit of variety too. It was nice run of books.

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  8. Isn't it nice when you have three books in a row that are awesome? I've had a good reading month this last 30 days as well.

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    1. I do get lucky, but it's also because I don't tend to finish or feature books I am not enjoying. These were all really good though.

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  9. Mammoth sounds like a really great read! Natalie sounds so cool. I love that she's into science AND fashion.

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    1. Natalie was a great teen. She was not perfect, but trying to find the best version of herself.

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  10. This all sound wonderful, but I'm a huge sucker for a good friendship story so This is What it Feels Like really jumped out at me. Great reviews!

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    1. I thought I would like Feels, but I didn't expect to love it as much as I did. There was just something about the three young women, their trials, and their journey together that got me in the feels.

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  11. "Strike up a friendship"... I see what you did there. A little bowling alley humor. :) It sounds like it does a great job of showing all aspects of family (not just the good or just the bad) and I love the sound of the friend group. I might have to hit up the library for this one.

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    1. That was so unintentional. So, score one for me! I adored Gephart's book. I am so happy I read it, because it was sweet, adorable, and just the right kind of emotional. A total smile-maker.

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  12. I'm a big fan of epilogues too. These all sound wonderful.

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

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    1. I don't know if it's because romance novels have spoiled me so much, but I need an epilogue. A story almost never feels complete for me without it

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  13. All three of these sound fantastic. Why have I not read In My Shoes yet? I need more hours in the day!!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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    1. In My Shoes was so good. An absolutely great MG read

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  14. I was intrigued by Mammoth, but I'm extra excited for it now. I like that she suffered consequences, because I have the biggest pet peeve when the protagonist gets away from it. It seems like a lot of fun, and I'm totally going to have to get it higher on the TBR. Great reviews! :)

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    1. I know a lot of people get frustrated, when characters do stupid things and there are no repercussions, that's why I felt like it was worth mentioning in the review. I enjoyed it. The hands on science was different, and I liked the overall message too.

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