Wednesday, June 13, 2018

In a Nutshell Reviews


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

How We Roll
Natasha Friend
Series: n/a
Age/Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Rating:  4.5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads
Quinn is a teen who loves her family, skateboarding, basketball, and her friends, but after she's diagnosed with a condition called alopecia which causes her to lose all of her hair, her friends abandon her. Jake was once a star football player, but a freak accident—caused by his brother—he loses both of his legs. Quinn and Jake meet and find the confidence to believe in themselves again, and maybe even love.
After a terrible year, Quinn was looking forward to a new start, in a new town, at a new school, where she wasn't the girl without any hair. In trying to become someone new, she built some great new friendships and found her way back to her self.
  • Pro: The book featured an unlikely friendship, which ended up being sort of vital for both Quinn and Jake. The support and little nudges they gave to each other were quite heartwarming. I loved watching this friendship grow, flourish, and change. And, well, yeah, I totally shipped them too. 
  • Pro: Quinn had a big, beautiful heart, and I thought she had a really great attitude. She could have been bitter and hostile and all sorts of other terrible things, but she wasn't. Granted, it took her a while to start to trust people again, but as her trust in others grew, she regained her confidence and she started to trust herself as well. 
  • Pro: What a nice group of friends Natasha Friend assembled for Quinn. They totally made up for all the punishment she endured in Colorado, and it was sort of important for me to see her have some good things come her way. 
  • Pro: I liked that forgiveness was address in several different ways. Quinn had been wronged by so many people. She could have held grudges, but instead, she chose to move on and forgive those, who betrayed her. She also encouraged Jake to consider forgiveness, and I think was an important step in his life after the accident. 
  • Pro: It was tough to like Nick, at first, but as his friendship with Quinn grew, so did he. I was really proud of all his progress, and started looking forward to his time on page. 
  • Pro: Quinn's family was all sorts of fabulous. Her mom was so caring and patient, and her dad was this awesome, nerdy guy, who gifted us with daily Latin phrases, and was also willing to acknowledge his mistakes. Most of all, I loved that they loved Quinn and her brother so much, and took the time to tell them and show them they did. 
  • Pro: I have not read too many books with characters with alopecia. Friend helped me understand more about this disease, and the the things that people with alopecia have to deal with on a daily basis - the discomfort, the worry, the stigma, these things and the accompanying feelings were all conveyed quite well, and I really learned a lot. 
  • Pro: I also do not read too many books on the younger side of YA, and it was sort of refreshing. Quinn was 14 and a freshman, so we see different everyday life issues featured because of that. 
  • Pro: The ending was the most adorable, sweetest, precious thing ever. I swear! My face hurt from the size of the smile I was wearing. 
  • Con: I wanted more of this story, because I loved it so much! 
Overall: I absolutely adored this sweet and touching story of family, friendship, being yourself, and being there for other people.



Kissing Games
Tara Eglington
Series: n/a
Age/Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads
The course of true love never did run smooth. For a girl who shares her name with a princess (a.k.a Aurora from Sleeping Beauty) Aurora Skye’s life seem fathoms away from a fairytale. Sure, she’s landed Hayden Paris, Potential Prince extraordinaire. And she got her wish -- one first kiss with all the knee-trembling, butterfly-inducing gloriousness she’d hoped for.

But Aurora’s learning that a kiss is just the beginning of a story. Instead of being the truly transcendent, utterly epic follow up it should be, her second attempt at kissing has literally landed Hayden Paris in the emergency room. If that’s not mortifying enough, the whole school is now referring to her as ‘Lethal Lips’.

Meanwhile it’s all systems go for her best friend Cassie - she and Potential Prince Scott are totally loved up and can’t stop kissing. Jelena (Jefferson High’s answer to Helen of Troy) has moved on from the heinous betrayal by Bad Boy Alex West and has unleashed her plan to rule the world by running for School Captain. Problem is Alex is running too and Jelena’s pulling out all the stops to prevent him from stealing her rightful place as ruler of Jefferson High - including offering Aurora’s Find a Prince/Princess Program as one of her campaign initiatives. How is Aurora going to prove her program is foolproof and help Jelena win the election when her matchmaking manoeuvres seem to be throwing all the wrong people together - including the NAD and the hippy-dippy Ms Deforest -- and she can’t even convince Hayden to kiss her?
I was so excited when I found out Aurora was getting a second book. Her first book was so delightful, and I am always looking for something to make me smile. This book had a little more drama than the previous book, but it still delivered a bunch of fun hijinks and an adorable romance.
  • Pro: I still love Aurora. She is in a class with Lara Jean Covey, as she is a sort of throwback and a little old fashioned. I mean this in the best way, because it's nice to see these girls represented out there. 
  • Pro/Con: I think it was important for Aurora to address some of the proverbial elephants in the room and really come to terms with her abandonment issues, but it was hard for me to see Aurora this way. She was such a lover or love, and her doubt in the institution of love almost made my heart stop. 
  • Pro: Hayden is still a prince. Yep. Everything I loved about him in the last book was turned up a notch in Kissing Games. He really was a most patient and understanding guy, and he did some of the sweetest and most swoony things too. 
  • Pro: All the shenanigans are still there. The gang gets into some silly fun situations, and I found myself laughing a whole lot. 
  • Pro: This book touched upon some actual issues, and I was surprised and delighted by the way Eglington handled Jelena's situation. 
  • Pro: It was fun getting to spend time with the other characters. I felt like I got to know them a little better in this book, and the banter between them was snappy and always entertaining. 
  • Con: HOWEVER, I sort of wanted more time with just Aurora and Hayden. 
  • Pro: The friendship game was strong. Aurora had a great little squad, and it's always wonderful seeing female characters, who are so loyal and supportive of each other. 
  • Pro: The ending was sweet and adorable and what I would expect for Aurora. It put a big smile on my face.  
Overall: Another adventure with Aurora and the gang, which was fun-filled and heartwarming.

**Read an excerpt here.


Thief of Happy Endings
Kristen Chandler
Series: n/a
Age/Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Viking Books
Rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads
Ever since her father moved out, Cassidy feels like her life has been falling apart. So a summer of riding horses at a ranch camp in Wyoming sounds like just what she needs--never mind the fact that she has a paralyzing fear of horses. She's determined to move past her fear, even if that means taking lessons from the insufferable (yet irresistible) junior wrangler Justin and embarrassing herself in front of the other campers. What follows is a summer of rodeos, complicated friendships, and a wild mustang thief on the loose.
The breakdown of her parents' marriage left Cassidy in a state of depression. In a effort to help Cassidy work through her issues, her mother signed her up for a ranch camp. While there, she was forced to face her fears of isolation, inadequacy, and horses, but the best part was seeing Cassidy flourish under these less than perfect circumstances.
  • Pro: I found myself really invested in Cassidy. I wanted this program to help her deal with her home life issues and get back to living. I was so proud of all the growth she experienced, and would love to know what she did next. 
  • Pro: Chandler dedicates a lot of time to Cassidy's new friendships. Given her past, I think it was a really important aspect to focus on, and it was great to see Cassidy pushing herself to make these new relationships work. 
  • Pro: Horses! Seriously, I learned so much, and not just about riding horses, but about all the issues facing Mustangs out west. It was really interesting and eye-opening. 
  • Con: There were these flashbacks, which gave us a little insight into why Cassidy fell into her depression, but I am not sure about the placement in the story. There was something about them, which made them not totally work for me.  
  • Pro: This story took place in Wyoming, and that is a first for me. I feel like I am always "visiting" the same places in contemporary books, which is why I always get really excited to see a book set someone different. 
  • Con: I was ok with the ending, but I would have liked a little bit more there. It was hopeful, but not definitive enough for me.  An epilogue would have really hit the spot. 
  • Pro: There were a few surprises thrown in there. Yes, I yelled, "I knew it!," at one point, but I was also really shocked by one particular reveal. 
  • Pro: Justin was that damaged hero who I always love. He was so complicated, and it was very gratifying peeling his layers back. 

Overall:  A lovely and moving story of friendship and finding your own inner strength to overcome disappointments. 


** ARCs received in exchange for honest reviews.


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

24 comments:

  1. These books are all new to me and sound like good reads, especially How We Roll. I like all of the pros you listed, especially the focus on friendship and family. Great reviews!

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    1. I am a sucker for a heartwarming story of friendship

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  2. That first one sounds really good, and I love the cover. I might have to read that one. Great reviews!

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

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    1. It was by far my favorite of the bunch. It just made me feel good

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  3. How We Roll sounds pretty awesome. Quinn seems like an amazing character - a good heart, not bitter, forgiving. And bonus points for having great parent representation. (So rare and I practically cheer every time I come across truly involved, concerned, loving parents.) Great review, Sam!

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  4. I really didn't expect to love that book as much as I did, but it was really wonderful

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  5. Love your nutshell reviews, How We Roll looks good!

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    1. It really. Such a heartwarming story about self acceptance and being a friend.

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  6. How We Roll sounds fantastic, and just the sound of that awesome ending makes me want to read it even more. :)

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    1. The ending was so sweet, I got a cavity

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  7. love these kind of reviews, awesome to see so much pros from these books they sound like mostly good reads. How We Roll looks really interesting. Kissing Game looks very cute :D

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    1. Thank you. I was trying to figure out a way to feature more of the books I read without having a War and Peace level post. Confession - I don't feature books I didn't like, because those are usually DNFs. It's my thing. All the books were good, with How We Roll being my favorite of the bunch, but that's because I love feel-good reads, and it left me totally elated.

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  8. Once again I haven’t heard of any of these. I feel so out of the loop.

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    1. I am a contemporary-ho, and it seems like all the HUGE books are fantasy.

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  9. How have I not seen How We Roll before now?! I think that I would really like that one. Glad you enjoyed these three books.

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    1. Friend hit my radar last year with The Other F-Word, so I jumped at this book, and am looking forward to getting to her backlist. She writes really charming, heartwarming, and feel good stories.

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  10. Aw these sound cute, especially How We Roll! I think that I would probably not love the others as much (I am SO picky about contemporary, but also, I don't think the middle one would be good for my sanity- a kid being depressed about divorce, eep!) but How I Roll seems to have a LOT going for it! Great reviews!

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    1. The last two books are the kids dealing with divorce and abandonment, though Kissing Games is never too heavy, but I understand not wanting to read about certain things. I refuse to read any political books. The world is making me too nuts right now to tolerate it in my escapism. How We Roll made me happy. It celebrates inner strength, self-acceptance, and friendship. All the warm-fuzzies from this one.

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  11. Oh, now I am SO excited to read HOW WE ROLL. I LOVED Natasha Friend's last book and was hoping this one woud be more of that same good feeling. It sounds like it totally is!!! Great review!!

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    1. I loved Friend's last book too!!! I am slowly getting to her backlist, because I really enjoy her stories. Yes, this book was so sweet and filled my heart with joy. How could I not love a book about self acceptance, resilience, and friendship.

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  12. You caught my attention with How We Roll. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on these, Sam!

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    1. It was a wonderful book if you like lower YA

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  13. How We Roll caught my attention just from the synopsis as well. I am so ready for some wheelchair representation because I think we definitely need more of that in YA. Also, what shallow friends to ditch Quinn like that! I'm already judging them and feeling invested xD

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    1. I have nothing but love for How We Roll. It's on the lower end of YA, but the focus on friendship was something I could not resist.

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