Monday, July 16, 2018

In a Nutshell Reviews: Girl Power Edition


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

Girls Can't Hit
T.S. Easton
Series: Boys Don't Knit, #3
Age/Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads
Fleur Waters never takes anything seriously--until she shows up at her local boxing club one day to prove a point. She's the only girl there, and the warm-up alone is exhausting . . . but the workout gives her an escape from home and school, and when she lands her first uppercut on a punching bag she feels a rare glow of satisfaction.

So she goes back the next week, determined to improve. Fleur's overprotective mom can't abide the idea of her entering a boxing ring (why won't she join her pilates class instead?). Her friends don't get it either and even her boyfriend, 'Prince' George, seems concerned by her growing muscles and appetite--but it's Fleur's body, Fleur's life. So she digs in her heels in hope that she can overcome the obstacles and strike a blow for equality.
Fleur wasn't really an activist, but she was stubborned and didn't like being told she could or couldn't do something. When a local boxing club advertised separate classes for women, all she heard was "girls can't hit", and Fleur was determined to show them they were wrong. What started out as a sort of protest turned into a life changing experience for Fleur.
  • Pro: Fleur was stupendous! She was wry and witty and I loved her sense of humor. The growth she experienced in this book was tremendous. It was incredible to see how participating in a sport put her on this path to self discovery. She changed both physically and mentally, and she began to see herself and her place in the world in a very different way.
  • Pro: Fleur had two besties, Blossom and Pip, who were so different from her, but also enriched her life in so many ways. They were steadfast friends, and even when they didn't seem 100% behind her, they were supportive. Blossom and Pip were also quite amusing and provided many, many laughs. 
  • Pro: Since all I knew about boxing was learned from Rocky movies, this book expanded my knowledge greatly. I enjoyed learning about the sport a lot more than I even thought I would, and I really felt like Easton did a great job pulling me into that world. 
  • Pro: I like English humor and found this book hysterical. I laughed often and audibly. It was exchanges like this, which kept me smiling: "Not everything in life has a metaphor in a Rocky film," Tarik said. "You're so wrong," I told him. 
  • Pro: One of the major things this book does is challenge gender norms. It was so refreshing to see a female character happy about gaining muscle, eating, eating, and eating some more to get her weight up. Fleur didn't buy into that dainty-girl garbage, and I loved her even more for it. 
  • Pro: The relationship that grew between Fleur and her parents really warmed my heart. Fleur began biking and this helped her connect to her dad. They would ride and chat, and I think she grew to understand both of her parents a lot more as she began to understand herself. 
Overall: A hilarious and feel good tale of self discovery, which touched upon themes of family, friendship, and feminism.

*You can read an excerpt here.


Stay Sweet
Siobhan Vivian
Series: n/a
Age/Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Rating:  4.5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads
A summer read about first love, feminism, and ice cream.

Summer in Sand Lake isn’t complete without a trip to Meade Creamery—the local ice cream stand founded in 1944 by Molly Meade who started making ice cream to cheer up her lovesick girlfriends while all the boys were away at war. Since then, the stand has been owned and managed exclusively by local girls, who inevitably become the best of friends. Seventeen-year-old Amelia and her best friend Cate have worked at the stand every summer for the past three years, and Amelia is “Head Girl” at the stand this summer. When Molly passes away before Amelia even has her first day in charge, Amelia isn’t sure that the stand can go on. That is, until Molly’s grandnephew Grady arrives and asks Amelia to stay on to help continue the business…but Grady’s got some changes in mind…
This was Amelia's last year as a Meade Creamery girl, and the last summer before she and her best friend were to go their separate ways. She was determined to make it the best summer yet! However, the untimely death of Molly Meade changed all her plans.
Molly Meade left her all girl ice cream stand to a boy?
This revelation sent shockwaves through the creamery girl syndicate, and may have marked the beginning of the end for Meade's Creamery.
  • Pro: The peeks into Molly's life really tugged my heartstrings. Those flashbacks and diary entries took us back to WWII, and they were a great reminder of how women had to be so supportive of each other. With many men away at war, those at home had to pitch in more, they had to go without, and they had to worry for their loved ones. I found Molly and her story very inspiring. 
  • Pro: I was so glad that Amelia was able to finally see why she was selected as head girl. She may have thought it should have been her best friend, Cate, but Molly saw more in Amelia, than Amelia saw in herself, and it was such a wonderful thing, when she finally recognized and utilized her potential. 
  • Pro: ICE CREAM!! There was a lot of ice cream making and eating in this book, and as it is one of my favorite foods, I was delighted by all of this. The small town setting was also very lovely and I thought it was well utilized in the story. 
  • Pro: How can I not be delighted by the idea of the creamery? This was a special place that Molly created. These girls weren't just employees of the creamery, they were part of a sisterhood, which endured even after their time at the stand had ended. This was a place where young women learned to lead, support one another, and work together. It was a beautiful legacy Molly left for the world. 
  • Pro: That time between high school and college is so tricky, and it was captured quite well. There were a lot of things changing and fears of the unknown, and Amelia was grappling with those things, as well as worrying about her changing friendship with Cate. Vivian's exploration of these things were so well executed, and Amelia's struggles came across as really authentic. 
  • Pro: HOLY COW! I was really surprised by this little twist Vivian threw in there. Nicely played. I had no idea and never saw it coming, but it made me add another check mark in the "why-she's-amazing" column. Yeah, I'm keeping the "she" to myself. 
  • Pro: I knew there was going to be romance in this book, but I was a little leery of Grady. However, Vivian revealed him to be a lot more complex, than I initially thought, and I grew to adore him along with Amelia. 
Overall: This book made me feel so many things! My emotions were sort of all over the place, but the one enduring feeling was happiness. I was left feeling joyous, and I couldn't have asked for a more precious story to do the job. I found this to be a sweet summer read about friendship, love, figuring out who you are and who you want to be.


When Life Gives You Demons
Jennifer HoneyBourn
Series: n/a
Age/Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Goodreads
Sixteen-year-old Shelby Black has spent the past year training to be an exorcist. Her great-uncle Roy—a Catholic priest and Shelby’s guardian—believes she has a gift for expelling demons, and he’s put her through exorcist boot camp hell, but he still doesn’t trust her to do an exorcism on her own.

High school is hard enough without having to explain that you fight demons for a living, so Shelby keeps her extracurricular activity quiet, especially from Spencer, her cute math tutor. Secrets run in Shelby’s family, though: her mother has been missing ever since an exorcism went horribly wrong, and Uncle Roy is tight-lipped about it. But Shelby’s hell-bent on finding her mom, no matter what—even if what it ends up costing her her soul AND a date with Spencer.
Who knew a book about a teenaged exorcist could be so charming and delightful?
  • Pro: You will see this in a million reviews for this book, but it's only because it's so true. This book definitely scratched a Buffy-type itch for me. Shelby shared a lot of similarities with Buffy. She was a little snarky with a great sense of humor, and also struggled finding the balance between fighting demons and being an average teenager. This plus the raging guilt about her mother's disappearance endeared Shelby to me.  
  • Pro: So. Much. Fun. This book may have dealt with some dark themes, but it was kept on the light and fluffy side. I laughed and grinned and smiled and simply enjoyed it so much. 
  • Pro: The relationship between Shelby and Uncle Roy was very sweet. They each cared a lot about the other, and showed it in many different, not so obvious ways. 
  • Pro: There's just not enough YA books featuring teen exorcists. I love that authors are incorporating new and different topics into their books, and I found Honeybourn's approach to this topic interesting. The main focus was from the traditional Catholic viewpoint, but eventually, other schools of thought regarding exorcism/demon hunter were incorporated, which was all quite fascinating. 
  • Pro: Honeybourne did a fantastic job guiding us through the exorcisms. There was lots of detail when we were in the midst of the actual exorcism and also, written reports. 
  • Con: The resolution was a bit rushed. It wasn't terrible, but I was surprised at how quickly we reached that point.  
  • Pro: The romance was so sweet. The does-he, doesn't-he and all the excitement Shelby felt with every accidental brush or longing gaze made me smile. I do wish there had been a little more of this adorable romance though. 
Overall:  A fun and fast-paced look at what it takes to be a teen exorcist. It was a delight tagging along with Shelby as juggled her family obligations, her schoolwork, and the matters of her heart. 


** ARCs received in exchange for honest reviews.

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

28 comments:

  1. Ths cover for when Life gives you demons made me smile so much -- AND the added touch of Buffy makes this a standout for me. This is a glorious selection of books, Sam, and must've been so much fun to read too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The cover was well done, because it fit the mood of the story well. Yeah, she's a demon hunter, but the story pretty must maintains a light tone.

      Delete
  2. I love this! I want to read Girls Can't Hit and When Life Gives You demons.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Girls Can't Hit was fabulous! I need to read more of Easton's books, because he had me laughing and I love to laugh.

      Delete
  3. I haven't heard of any of these, but they all sound cute! I'm glad you enjoyed them so much! When Life Gives You Demons sounds like one I might enjoy. Thanks for sharing :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Demons was a lot of fun. If the ending didn't feel so rush, I probably would have given it 4.5 stars, because I tore through it and really enjoyed the story and characters a lot.

      Delete
  4. I so need to get Stay Sweet. It sounds amazing!! Great reviews!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I absolutely loved it, and I really wasn't expecting it to make me feel the way it did.

      Delete
  5. Oh wow, all three of these sound like such great reads. That cover for When Life Gives You Demons is brilliant. I'm pretty sure I'd pick that book up for the cover alone but it sounds like a fun read. Great reviews!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree, the cover was genius, because it captured the pun, plus the lighthearted humor used to approach the topic.

      Delete
  6. Stay Sweet was a cute read - I wanted more of Molly, though!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I love when a book leaves you feeling happy and Stay Sweet sounds so endearing. And so much ice cream. Sounds about perfect for a hot summer day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am all about the books that make me happy, and Stay Sweet was a nice surprise.

      Delete
  8. There was definitely more to Grady in Stay Sweet & that was a cool twist.

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That twist shocked me. So unexpected

      Delete
  9. I have the same thoughts as you when it comes to Stay Sweet. It was a perfect summer read! If you ever reread it, I would strongly recommend the audiobook. The narrator did a perfect job embodying all of Amelia's worries and Meade Creamery.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I actually listen to the audio, and I agree, the narrator did a great job.

      Delete
  10. Haha Sam only the title of the series "Boys don't Knit" is promising. Well I did not learn my boy to knit (not my specialty) but to sew! Great nutshell reviews! sophie@bewareofthereader

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sewing is a great skill. My daughter has a BFA in theater design, costume design concentration, and she learned NONE of her skills from me, but I can knit.

      Delete
  11. STAY SWEET sounds super cute! Some of my best college memories were made at the university's creamery, where I worked for several years, so this one appeals for more than one reason :) DEMONS also sounds fun.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think working at an ice cream stand could be sort of fun. Since everyone loves ice cream, and by the transitive property would therefore, love you.

      Delete
  12. Love love love your review of Stay Sweet, Sam! It was great, so I so agreed! :) Wonderful reviews! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That book caught me off guard. It was way more than I was expecting.

      Delete
  13. When Life Gives You Demons sounds so fun and enjoyable that I want to read it as well. It's on my list, especially with all the positive reviews lately. I absolutely love the sound of Girls Can't Hit, especially as it is about womens boxing which I haven't read a book about. And it sounds like Fleur really does get developed and changed through her experience.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Both those books were fantastically fun, but the girl power was so fabulous in Girls. It was an empowerment. Which developed over time, and I liked the way Fleur changed physically and mentally.

      Delete
  14. Stay Sweet sounds pretty cute, it's on my TBR and one I think will be a perfect summer read. Girls Can't Hit sounds totally awesome and I'd not even heard of it! I am glad to see you enjoyed it and I am definitely going to try and check it out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Girls Can't Hit is actually an English book and is set over there. It's part of a series called Boys Don't Knit, but it's unrelated to the two previous books. It was really funny.

      Delete