Thursday, October 19, 2017

In a Nutshell Reviews: Girls Lost and Found

In a Nutshell Reviews are my version of mini-reviews, because sometimes, you just want the highlights. All three of this week's books are connected by the theme of self discovery.

Everything Must Go
Jenny Fran Davis
Series: n/a
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Rating:  4 out of 5 stars
Flora Goldwasser has fallen in love. She won't admit it to anyone, but something about Elijah Huck has pulled her under. When he tells her about the hippie Quaker school he attended in the Hudson Valley called Quare Academy, where he'll be teaching next year, Flora gives up her tony upper east side prep school for a life on a farm, hoping to woo him. A fish out of water, Flora stands out like a sore thumb in her vintage suits among the tattered tunics and ripped jeans of the rest of the student body. When Elijah doesn't show up, Flora must make the most of the situation and will ultimately learn more about herself than she ever thought possible.

Told in a series of letters, emails, journal entries and various ephemera, Flora's dramatic first year is laid out for all to see, embarrassing moments and all.
  • Pro: I love mixed format books, and this one included emails, blog posts, photos, letters, and more. The different formats were used well, and were cleverly used to bring in different perspectives. 
  • Pro: Flora was a star. I loved her voice from page one, and I was so happy to go on this journey with her. 
  • Pro: The colorful cast of characters gave me the gift of laughter over and over again. 
  • Pro: Flora and her sister had a sisterly bond that made me jealous. Lael was an incredible big sister and was still there for Flora even when she went against her advice. 
  • Con: The ending was sweet, but I am not too sure what the intention was. Not disappointing, because I smiled, but still not sure about it. 
  • Pro: As radical as the school was for me, there were a lot of interesting ideas discussed and I like when I am made to look at something in a different way or left with food for thought. 
  • Pro: There are many, many feminists in this book, and therefore. lots of feminists discussions. But what I loved most about this girl-powered group, was how they wanted to support one of their own in her time of need. 

Overall: A fun and quirky coming of age tale filled with wonderful and interesting characters, which left me with a smile on my head and a lot of interesting thoughts in my head.

**I would like to thank the publisher for the advanced copy of this book.

My Unscripted Life
Lauren Morill
Series: n/a
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Delacorte
Rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars
Perfect for fans of Jennifer E. Smith and Huntley Fitzpatrick, you'll love this funny and sweet contemporary romance about a Southern girl ready for a ho-hum summer until she meets the boy of her dreams who happens to be an international pop star.

Sometimes love stories go off script.

Another sultry Georgia summer is about to get a lot hotter. Dee Wilkie is still licking her wounds after getting rejected by the precollege fine arts program of her dreams. But if she'd gone away, she wouldn't have been around to say yes to an unbelievable opportunity: working on the set of a movie filming in her small Southern town that just happens to be starring Milo Ritter, the famous pop star Dee (along with the rest of the world) has had a crush since eighth grade.

It's not like Dee will be sharing any screen time with Milo—she's just a lowly PA. And Milo is so disappointingly rude that Dee is eager to stay far away from him. Except after a few chance meetings, she begins to wonder if just maybe there's a reason for his offensive attitude, and if there's more to Milo than his good looks and above-it-all Hollywood pedigree. Can a relationship with a guy like Milo ever work out for a girl like Dee? Never say never. . .
  • Pro: Super-cute summer romance
  • Pro: I really liked getting to know the "real" Milo, and I was glad he found someplace where he could be real. 
  • Pro: Lots of interesting movie making concepts were shared with us, and I really felt like I was on the set with the characters. 
  • Con: Jealousy and miscommunication play a role in this story, and I thought Dee needed to tone it down at time. 
  • Pro: The "crisis of direction" Dee was having was a great aspect of the story. I was really happy with where Morill went with this, and besides, Dee was a great character, who was able to switch gears and use her talent in a different way. 
  • Pro: I have a thing for small town settings, and Wilder was a pretty nice town to visit. 
  • Pro: I liked the family interactions. Dee's history geek dad and romance writer mom added some fun to the story, and they were great parents. 
  • Pro: I am pretty sure we can count what happened near the end as a grand gesture, and I LOVE grand gestures. 
  • Pro: Thank you very much for the epilogue. It was quite the time jump I would have liked, but it was still good. 
But did I mention that there was a grand gesture?

Overall: A cute and fluffy romance, where Dee found love and herself as she found her new direction.

The Book of Lies
Teri Terry
Series: n/a
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
Publisher: Clarion Books
Rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars
Who lies? Who tells the truth? Death hangs on the answer...

'Highly recommended, especially for those who like their fantasy subtle but chillingly effective, and populated by characters they can believe in' (Starburst Magazine)

Tell a lie and the darkness will find you. Quinn and Piper are twins, but they've never met. A tragic event brings them together, and draws them into a family curse that stretches across centuries. One twin can command the darkness; the other could hold the key to breaking the curse. But when lies become truth and truth looks like lies, who can you believe?

Don't miss this startling new book from Teri Terry, queen of the YA psychological thriller!

They are trapped, frozen. Waiting. Straining against the wood that holds them. The unwary catch a glimpse now and then - feel their desperate hunger, see a glint of red eyes - and scurry out of the shadows of the wood, back to the light. She's coming; it will be soon. They will run free on the moors again. The Hunt will return. And the ground will run with blood.

  • Pro: A Compelling Mystery that is a little dark and creepy. 
  • Pro: Terry did a great job creating an eerie atmosphere in this book, which added to the overall level of tension of this tale. 
  • Pro: A mysterious inheritance, a secret sister, a family curse, and dark dreams held my interest in this story. 
  • Pro: The book had quite a few good twists and turns to keep us from guessing the truth too early. 
  • Con: It takes a while to hit its stride, but if you are patient, you will find the story gets better and better with each page.  
  • Pro: I like the alternating POV format, which employed shorter chapters and clearly showed the contrast between the two twins. 
  • Pro: I found the ending very interesting and though provoking. I wish I could say more, but I don't do spoilers. 
  • Pro: Did I mention witches and magic?

  • Overall: An intriguing atmospheric tale, with some interesting ideas about truth and lies, good and evil, love and family. 

    **I would like to thank the publisher for the advanced copy of this book.

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

    Wednesday, October 18, 2017

    Can't-Wait Wednesday: Someone to Love - Melissa de La Cruz

    Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

    This week I can't wait for Someone to Love!

    Someone to Love
    Melissa de la Cruz
    Series: n/a
    Release Date: January 2, 2018
    Publisher: harlequin TEEN
    Waited on by: Sam
    Constantly in the spotlight thanks to her politician father's rising star, Olivia Blakely feels the pressure to be perfect. As the youngest girl in her class, she tries hard to keep up and to seem mature to the older boy she's crushing on, even as she catches his eye. But the need to look good on camera and at school soon grows into an all-consuming struggle with bulimia.

    As Liv works toward her goal of gaining early admission to art school, including taking part in an upcoming student show, her life spirals out of control. Swept up in demands to do more than she's ready for, to always look perfect and to succeed, Liv doesn't know who she is anymore. It will take nearly losing her best friend and even her life for Liv to learn that loving herself is far more important than earning the world's approval.
    Five Reasons I want to read this book:

    1. I can already tell this will be really emotional. I live for emotional reads. 
    2. I really like when characters go through the fire and come out stronger on the other side.
    3. I believe de la Cruz will responsibly explore the character's bulimia, and I am interested in seeing which aspects of the disorder she employs in this story. 
    4. The family aspect sounds like it could be quite interesting. A high profile parent always brings additional stress, and the political spotlight is a intriguing angle. 
    5. I like de La Cruz, so why wouldn't I want to read one of her books? 

    What are you waiting on?
    Let us know in the comments!

    Tuesday, October 17, 2017

    Top Ten Tuesday: Foodie Books

    Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is...

    Ten Book Featuring Foodies!

    I have read many books, which featured food, and made me hungry, but these books didn't only feature food, but also featured characters who were foodies and prepared food.

    North of Happy
    Adi Alsaid
    Series: n/a
    Publisher: Harlequin Teen

    Carlos was supposed to join the family business, but after his brother's murder, he set out to chase his dream of being a chef. Each chapter in this book starts with a recipe, and there is a LOT of cooking. I really wished I was there to taste some of the food described in this book.

    Sarah Ockler
    Series: n/a
    Publisher: Simon Pulse

    Hudson was a once figure skater and the cupcake queen. She would create these amazing cupcakes for her family's diner, and each one was described at the beginning of the chapter. Cupcakes are my favorite, so I really loved reading about all her creations.

    Kids Like Us
    Hilary Reyl
    Series: n/a
    Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux

    Martin loved cooking, as it was a way he connected to his father. With his father out of the picture, he found great comfort in preparing the dishes he once made along side his father. He cooked both savory and sweet with inspiration from Julia Child, and it all sounds mouthwatering.

    Artificial Sweethearts
    Julie Hammerle
    Series: North Pole, Minnesota,
    Publisher: Entangled: Crush

    Tinka was an budding baker, and she would bake when she was stressed or trying to atone for some of her actions. I loved seeing what she would whip up, but totally got the feels when she recreated a dessert that was very special to Sam, as it reminded him of his mom.

    Kissing Max Holden
    Katy Upperman
    Series: n/a
    Publisher: Swoon Reads

    Jill aspired to attend a culinary school, and was always honing her skills in this book. Girl baked A LOT, but food also served to sooth the characters and as a way for them to bond.

    Who's That Girl
    Blair Thornburgh
    Series: n/a
    Publisher: HarperTeen

    This group of teens were holding weekly bake sales in order to raise money for their alternative prom. Therefore, we got to spend quite a bit of time in Zach's kitchen as he created sweet confections for the sales. These scenes not only let us observe his kitchen skills, they were also where Nattie and Zach had some real heart to hearts.

    Wicked Like a Wildfire
    Lana Popović
    Series: Hibiscus Daughter, #1
    Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

    This book features a magical family bakery, and Popović describes the treats so vividly. These are not your normal, everyday baked items either. They were high-end and unique and sounded ah-mazing.

    To All The Boys I've Loved Before
    Jenny Han
    Series: To All The Boys I've Loved Before, #1
    Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books

    Lara Jean was always baking something up for us in these books. She knew the way to anyone's heart was through their stomach, and she obliged with cakes and cookies and lots of sweet treats.

    The Art of Lainey
    Paula Stokes
    Series: The Art of Lainey, #1
    Publisher: HarperTeen

    Micah was employed by Lainey's family as a cook, but he aspired to be a pastry chef. Between Micah's dreams and many scenes taking place in a restaurant, we heard about quite a bit of food.

    What Happened to Goodbye
    Sarah Dessen
    Series: n/a
    Publisher: Penguin

    McLean's father traveled around the country trying to save failing restaurants. Therefore, a large portion of this story takes place in the restaurant discussing among many things, the food prepared there.

    Do you have a favorite foodie book?
    Let us know in the comments!

    Monday, October 16, 2017

    Review: Warcross - Marie Lu

    Marie Lu
    Series: Warcross, #1
    Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
    Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
    Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

    I knew pretty much nothing about Warcross going into it, except that I thought it kind of sounded like a similar concept to the movie Summer Wars (which I highly recommend watching, just saying) and that Marie Lu wrote it (so basically I had to read it). Just like Summer Wars, I absolutely loved Warcross!

    Warcross follows Emika Chen, a hacker from New York who works as a bounty hunter to try and make ends meet. When she gets recruited by Hideo Tanaka, the inventor of Warcross, she is thrown into the Warcross championship tournament as a spy, uncovering secrets she never would have expected.

    I absolutely LOVED the characters in Warcross! Emi is an absolutely brilliant character, and I think I just really enjoy hacker characters in general because it's so cool!!! She made me think of Mr. Robot. Emi is a strong and crafty heroine with a lot of heart, and she went through a lot of personal growth, figuring out what was important to her, throughout the story.

    While the other characters were not as prominent until the end, I thought her teammates were really interesting and I'm looking forward to reading more about them in the next installment. Hammie, in particular, was awesome (I have a bias toward strong female characters). Since Emi is more of a loner type of character, there wasn't a lot of friendship built with these characters, but I have faith that there will be more in the next book!

    The romance in this book was so swoony and sweet. I enjoyed that even though there was an element of instant connection, it took a while for the characters to break down the walls they built around themselves before letting each other in. Marie Lu, as always, did an incredible job making me feel all the feels about this relationship.

    In terms of the world building, this world is so cool!!! It's extremely well thought out and fabulously executed. Marie Lu was able to built a world similar to ours but fully enhanced by technology and virtual reality. It in no way felt forced, and it was so well described that I felt like I was using the technology. I even nerded out a little bit at the end with talks of algorithms because it reminded me of some of the machine learning I'll be doing soon. #nerdlife.

    Overall, Warcross was a thrilling first installment to this new series. Marie Lu, once again, has delivered with a book that pulled me in and kept me reading until the end. Even though I thought this was a standalone until I got to the end (that was a tough blow), I am so excited to see where this book goes after the shocking end. It's not a cliffhanger, but it definitely left me craving more.

    **I would like to thank the publisher for the advanced reading copy!

    What's your favorite video game?
    Let us know in the comments!

    Sunday, October 15, 2017

    Sundays with Sam - The Sunday Post

    Sundays with Sam is a combination of Sunday Post hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer and Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

    My Week in Review

    I am writing this post from North Carolina, and very happy to be spending time with my lovely daughter. She has been showing me all the work she has been producing here at the Institute (sounds a little dystopian, eh?), and it's quite impressive. Funny airline security story. Being from the tristate area, we take our bagels seriously. I was tasked to bring some with me for this visit, but since I was only coming for the weekend, I have to squeeze them in my carry on. Sure enough, I was pulled from the TSA line, and the bagels were tested for gunpowder residue. I asked, and they advised that I should NOT individually wrap each bagel, but rather, leave them loose in the bag. That's your travel tip for today.

    And I have a fun reading story too. One of the women I work, who's mother is a librarian, was looking through some books and recognized When Dimple Met Rishi as one I gushed over, so she read it, and she loved it, and she told her mother to read it. When we were talking about it, we both looked sort of like this:

    This never happens to me IRL, so I was really excited.

    Some things that delighted me on the internet this week:
    The cover reveal for Sandhya Menon's next book!!! You can read the first chapter here.

    The Simon movie is getting closer, and this is one I really want to see, because that book was near perfection.

    And we had the cover reveal for the last book in the Ruined series, and I am dying to see how it all ends.

    On the Blog:

    The trend for me is, when it rains, it pours. A bunch of approvals I had given up on came through, and I was really excited about them, but I think my Can't-Wait Wednesday has some sort of magic mojo, because I post it, and BOOM! Approval.



    What I Read Last Week

    I read a lot of romance last week, but I did get a few different types of books in there too, so I am proud of myself. My best read was Warcross. The hype is real.

    • The Butterfly Project by Emma Scott (audio): I loved the MCs in this book. They were so wounded, and I was glad they were able to find some solace in each other. There were some really lovely developments that I didn't expect, and Scott knows how to give me an epilogue I will love. 
    • Kids Like Us by Hilary Reyl: A beautiful coming of age story through the eyes of an neurodiverse teen. I learned so much from this book, but also felt a whole lot of feels. 
    • The Hanging Girl by Eileen Cook: My mood with the general social climate is not great, so the politicizing in the book rubbed me the wrong way, but it was a good mystery-thriller, and although I saw one of the twists coming, it still was a good reveal. However, I did think the ending was weak. 
    • Warcross by Marie Lu: The story, the characters, the world -- I loved it all! 
    • All He Wants for Christmas by Jill Shalvis: A short and sweet romance, where a big hearted hero is able to win the reluctant heroine. ★ 1/2
    • Holiday Wishes by Jill Shalvis: I loved Sean's story. It was my favorite kind - second chance romance, and I have always known there was more to Sean than met the eye. This one left me really happy. 
    • Seeing Double by Tamra Baumann: A second chance romance with a murder plot and a paranormal twist. Sometimes I felt like Baumann was trying to get too much into this story, but when she focused on Michael and Dani, I forgot all those feelings, because I loved the couple so much. ★ 1/2
    What I Am Currently Reading

    I started Everything Must Go this morning, and so far, I am enjoying it. It is told through blog posts, diary entries, and letters, which is a format I enjoy, plus, the whole alternative school setting is quite amusing. The Final Score is the 12th (!!) book in this series, and I love that Burton is still able to find some connections. This one is special, in that the hero was a teen in the first book, and now he is taking over his father quarterback position in the NFL. Also, this is another merging of some Play-by-Play families, which I always enjoy.

    What I Plan to Read

    How was your week?
    Let us know in the comments!