Friday, April 20, 2018

In a Nutshell Reviews

In a Nutshell Reviews are my version of mini-reviews, because sometimes, you just want the highlights. I love when I can see some kind of unifying theme in my Nutshell books, and this week, I think both tackle feeling like an outsider. Jess struggled with being a bigger girl in a family of beautiful people, and Ron struggled being a half-Indian, half-israeli Jewish kid in Nebraska. Both stories were told with tons of humor and both warmed my heart.


Rebel with a Cupcake
Anna Mainwaring
Series: n/a
Age/Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: KCP Loft
Rating:  4 out of 5 stars
Goodreads
Jesobel Jones is bold and brash, the daughter of a hand model and a washed-up rock star. Jess sees no need to apologize for her rambling house, her imperfect family, her single status … or her weight. Jess is who she is. She makes her own cupcakes and she eats them, too. No regrets.

That is, until Own Clothes Day rolls around at school. Jess and her friends dedicate the requisite hours of planning to their outfits, their hair and their makeup for the one day they are free from school uniforms. But a wardrobe malfunction leaves Jess with a pair of leggings split open at the worst spot, and a mean girl calling her the one thing that’s never bothered her before: fat.

The encounter shakes Jess’s formerly iron-clad confidence, and she starts to wonder if she’s been just a little too comfortable in her own skin. When the boy of her dreams invites her to a party, she must decide whether to try to fit in for the first time in her life, or remain true to herself — whoever that really is.
Jess was normally very confident, but after a run-in with the school mean girl and a crush leaving her feeling inadequate, she attempts to change her physical appearance. This journey with Jess was chuck full of humor and some astute observations, which filled me with glee.
  • Pro: Jess was so awesome! Her observations and commentary were pretty hilarious. She was snarky and sassy, but also sweet and thoughtful. There was also something about her, that reminded me of Georgia Nicholson, who is one of my all-time favorite characters, and that just added to my love for her. 
  • Pro: Jess' house was inhabited by some quirky characters. Her younger sister was a total trip, and her grandmother had all these amazing hidden pieces to her. I really loved getting to know those two. 
  • Pro: I am always a fan of book with a little family focus, and I liked the way Jess' family was incorporated into this story. Mainwaring showed them with all their flaws, and I love that their relationship evolved as Jess changed over the course of this story. 
  • Pro: The author explored body image issues in such a way, that showed it's not just bigger girls who struggle with poor body image and low self-esteem, and I really appreciated her shining that light on it. 
  • Pro: The ending was really satisfying. Mainwaring did a great job tying up those loose ends, and I was please with the resolutions she reached for certain situations. 
  • Pro: There was some great food talk in this book. Jess loved to cook, and we often got to hear about her culinary creations, and yeah, you can never go wrong with cupcakes. 
  • Pro: Each chapter began with an observation or an "invisible rule". These bits were quite insightful and often amusing. 
  • Pro: Jess was far from perfect. She was a typical teenager. She made mistakes and sometimes, made poor choices, but she learned from these missteps, and was better because of them.  
I am among friends. Who accept my weirdness. That is why they are called friends. 
Overall: An amusing and heartwarming story about trying to fit in, while also retaining your identity, which left me in a happy state.



The Frontman
Ron Bahar
Series: n/a
Age/Genre: Young Adult, Historical
Publisher: Sparkpress
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Goodreads
Ron Bahar is an insecure, self-deprecating, seventeen-year-old Nebraskan striving to please his Israeli immigrant parents, Ophira and Ezekiel, while remaining true to his own dreams. During his senior year of high school, he begins to date longtime crush and non-Jewish girl Amy Andrews—a forbidden relationship he hides from his parents. But that’s not the only complicated part of Ron’s life: he’s also struggling to choose between his two passions, medicine and music. As time goes on, he becomes entangled in a compelling world of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Will he do the right thing?

A fictionalized memoir of the author’s life as a young man in Lincoln, Nebraska, The Frontman is a coming-of-age tale of love and fidelity.
This was such a fun and nostalgic read for me. I love the 80s, and I was enamored with this story of first love and identity too.
  • Pro: Ron was a total delight. He made some HUGE mistakes over the course of this book, and spent the last half of the book trying to atone for his mistakes, but I loved him. He was complicated, but intriguing, and he made me laugh. I am not like him, but I could relate to a lot his struggles. 
  • Pro: The family history bits were really interesting, and I have to give Bahar credit for being able to concisely package that much information. 
  • Pro: The style was pleasing to me, and really worked for this story. I often felt like Bahar was speaking directly to me, and this is a style I associate with memoires, which I guess this book sort of was, and therefore, the format was wholly appropriate. 
  • Pro: This story had a wonderful, nostalgic feel. I could hear the voice over in my head, which made me think of A Christmas Story, and the musical references just pushed it over the top for me. 
  • Pro: The book was set in Nebraska! I am always shouting about how most books are set on the coasts, and it was exciting to read a book set in The Middle. I also loved taking the trip with Ron to Israel. 
  • Pro: Ron's family was delightful. Granted, his parents put a lot of pressure on him, and though I did not agree with them, I sort of understood them, and I loved that he had his two older sisters there for some guidance. 
  • Pro: Between the quirky characters, teen hijinks, and self-depreciating humor, I found myself laughing quite often. 
  • Pro: I loved the theme of fidelity that permeated the book. Fidelity to your family, to your girlfriend, to you friends, to your dreams, and to yourself. It may be packaged with a ton of humor, but there was plenty of food for thought in this book. 
I had become an expert at delayed gratification. Conversely, I had no idea what it meant to live in the present.
Overall: A hilarious and heartwarming coming-of-age tale,which addressed family relationships, friendships, first love, identity, and finding one's voice quite well. I laughed, smiled, and felt the feels.

** ARCs received in exchange for honest reviews.









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

22 comments:

  1. I don't think I've heard of either of these before! You are always introducing me to new books. Jessica in Rebel with a Cupcake sounds great and I'm with you, I like a little bit of family focus as well and it sounds like it was done well here.

    And an 80s sounds like so much fun and nostalgia too!

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    1. I have been really happy with the KCP Loft books I have read, so I saw Cupcake, and thought, why not. I loved Jess so much, and if you ever read and liked the Georgia Nicholson books, I think you would enjoy it.

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  2. First I love the cover of Rebel with a Cupcake. I also love that the author brings in body image that is a hard topic. Great review!

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    1. I won't pretend that I didn't download the book because of the cover, because I totally did, but I am really glad I did, because the book was a lot of fun. It tackled body image among other things, and it I liked the light hand it was done with.

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  3. Jess sounds like a great character, and her family sounds amazing, as well. I haven't really come across body image themes in books I've read, but this sounds really good.

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    1. Jess was awesome. I would absolutely be friends with her if she were real (and I was still a teen). I have been seeing more and more non disordered eating body image books in YA lately, but the charm with this one was it was not a heavy issues book.

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  4. I can't wait to read Rebel with a Cupcake!

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    1. It was a lot of fun. I hope you enjoy it!

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  5. Rebel with a CUpcake is calling my name because I love foodie books!

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    1. Love foodie books, but they always make me hungry. XD

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  6. Jess sounds like such a great character. I love the fact that she starts off comfortable in her own skin and fairly confident. What a nice switch! There are so many books that focus on eating disorders, and books that focus on the heavy girl getting thin, but one that seems to focus on body positivity is a wonderful things.

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    1. She was feisty and fabulous. This book hints at her sister having a little disordered eating, but the author's goal wasn't to write an issues book, and she never really called the sister out for it. There is a point when Jess actually enjoys running, but she always followed it up with some baked goods. 😂

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  7. These look like great books! The cover for Rebel with a Cupcake makes me so uncomfortable! Lol

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    1. The cover is what made me check this out. It's a little rage-y, but then there is a cupcake.

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  8. Rebel with a Cupcake sounds good. The cover is quite tempting and Jess sounds like an awesome character.

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    1. Jess was fabulous and definitely won a chunk of my heart.

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  9. Rebel with a Cupcake sounds fantastic! I like that the author explored different aspects to body issues -- that doesn't always happen.

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    1. I liked that the author used so much humor. I am a fan of keeping things on the lighter side, and I thought she still conveyed an important message without the book being all heavy.

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  10. Both of these are new to me but they sound fantastic. Jess definitely sounds like my kind of MC and Ron sounds cool too. I like that The Frontman is set In Nebraska. I'm not sure that I've ever read a book set there so it definitely caught my eye when you mentioned it.

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    1. I have been keeping track of where the books I read are set, and for the ones set in the US, they are usually set in coastal states. Chicago is the only city I usually find to represent the middle, so it's always exciting to find one where the MC lives somewhere different.

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  11. Sam,
    Thank you so much for the flattering review! When I first started writing the manuscript for The Frontman, I intended for it to be an immigrant story alone. However, I quickly learned, with some introspection and some research, that fictional Ron's tale of "otherness" is universal. I'm thrilled his character resonated with you.

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