Thursday, September 7, 2017

In a Nutshell Reviews

In a Nutshell Reviews are my version of mini-reviews, because sometimes, you just want to know about a book in the fewest possible words.

Murder, Magic, and What We Wore
Kelly Jones
Series: n/a
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fantasy, Mystery
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
The year is 1818, the city is London, and 16-year-old Annis Whitworth has just learned that her father is dead and all his money is missing. And so, of course, she decides to become a spy.

Annis always suspected that her father was himself a spy, and following in his footsteps to unmask his killer makes perfect sense. Alas, it does not make sense to England’s current spymasters—not even when Annis reveals that she has the rare magical ability to sew glamours: garments that can disguise the wearer completely.

Well, if the spies are too pigheaded to take on a young woman of quality, then Annis will take them on. And so she crafts a new double life for herself. Miss Annis Whitworth will appear to live a quiet life in a country cottage with her aunt, and Annis-in-disguise as Madame Martine, glamour artist, will open a magical dressmaking shop. That way she can earn a living, maintain her social standing, and, in her spare time, follow the coded clues her father left behind and unmask his killer.

It can’t be any harder than navigating the London social season, can it?
  • Pro: I find this time period quite delightful and the setting. It was fun to see Annis transplanted from London to the countryside.
  • Con: I liked the mystery element, but there was a clue that sort of gave it all away. There were still a few other parts of the mystery that were unknown, and being able to figure out the first part did not detract from my enjoyment.
  • Pro: The friendship that developed between Annis and Millie was quite special. In fact, there were many strong female friendships in this book, and I loved all the girl-power moments brought to us throughout.
  • Con: There was this small hint of a romance, but then, nothing. It's not that a story needs romance, but I like it, and it was kind of a tease for me.
  • Pro: I thought the sewing of glamours was fabulous. Jones used this well in the story, and also included a few other neat magical elements, which showed that this world was a accustomed to this sort of thing.
Overall: A delightful and charming regency romp filled with spies, deception, and a little magic.

Kiss Me In New York
Catherine Rider
Series: n/a
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Rating: 4  out of 5 stars
It's Christmas Eve at JFK in NYC.

Charlotte is a British student, waiting for a flight home after the worst semester of her life. Anthony is a native New Yorker, surprising his girlfriend at the airport after three months apart. Charlotte has just been dumped, and Anthony is about to be dumped, right in the middle of the holiday crowd.

Charlotte's flight is canceled when a blizzard blows in, and Anthony can't bear to go home. So, they set out into the city together, clutching a book Charlotte picks up in the airport gift shop: Ten Easy Steps for Getting Over Your Ex. For this one night, they'll focus on healing their broken hearts ... together.

Step-by-step, the two struggle to put the past behind them. But the snow is so enchanting, and the holiday lights are so beguiling, that soon their shared misery gives way to something else. Soon, they're not only over their exes --- they're falling for each other.

Then a subway ride splits them up by mistake. Will they reunite before Charlotte's flight leaves New York forever?
  • Pro: This was so adorable, and I really had fun traveling around NYC as they tried to complete the Ten Easy Steps for Getting Over Your Ex. I wore a grin on my face for most of this book, and laughed a whole bunch too. 
  • Pro: Both Charlotte and Anthony were delightful and I know if they were real people, we would be fast friends. They also were great together. Their interactions and banter were quite amusing, and even when stuff got real and they got real, there was always this connection between them that was easy to spot. 
  • Con: I was very excited when the epilogue featured a time jump. I love getting that peek into the future of my characters' lives, however, this jump was not enough to answer a BIG question I had. It was hopeful, so I wasn't all bent out of shape, but I wish we had jumped a little further into the future, so I could have had that closure I so needed. 
  • Pro: I liked that Rider built in the possibility that there could be a future between Charlotte and Anthony. You would think that Charlottes's semester abroad is ending, she is going back to England, and "goodbye, Anthony", but that was not the case. 
  • Pro: Both Anthony and Charlotte had great families. Charlotte's interactions are over the phone with her family, as they are in England, but you can feel the love and the warmth. Anthony has a wonderful big Italian family, but this is a difficult Christmas for them, as they are still grieving a great loss. The Christmas dinner was quite touching, and it may have brought a few tears to my eyes. 
Overall: This book was exactly what I needed when I read it. It was so cute and adorable. It warmed me from the inside out and left a dopey grin on my face.

Prince of Pot
Tanya Lloyd Kyi
Series: n/a
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Groundwood Books
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Isaac loves art class, drives an old pickup, argues with his father and hangs out with his best buddy, Hazel. But his life is anything but normal. His parents operate an illegal marijuana grow-op, Hazel is a bear that guards the property, and his family’s livelihood is a deep secret.

It’s no time to fall in love with the daughter of a cop.

Isaac’s girlfriend Sam is unpredictable, ambitious and needy. And as his final year of high school comes to an end, she makes him consider a new kind of life pursuing his interest in art, even if that means leaving behind his beloved home in the Rockies and severing all ties with his family.

For a while he hopes he can have it all, until a disastrous graduation night, when Sam’s desperate grab for her father’s attention suddenly puts his entire family at risk.
  • Pro: I loved Isaac's voice. He was honest and real, and well developed. I liked discovering all the different parts of him.  
  • Pro: Isaac's family was different, but there was a lot of love. There were many events which clearly showed how much this family cared for each other. They were not best communicators, but their actions clearly showed how much affection they held for each other. 
  • Con: There is this really traumatic part that happens with the bears at about 93% through. Fair warning - it's brutal. 
  • Pro: The interactions between Isaac and his sister, Judith, were some of my favorites. They had a special sibling bond, and it was probably largely related to their unique upbringing. 
  • Pro: Kyi did a fantastic job immersing me in Isaac's struggle. Most of this book centers around Isaac trying to decide if he should be a third generation grow farmer of Draft Dodger Dark or if he should chase his own dreams.
Overall: This as quite an interesting coming-of-age story, which I found filled with humor, honesty, and love.

**I would like to thank the publishers for the advanced copies of these book.

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


  1. Sorry to hear the first one kind of gave away the mystery - I hate when that happens and it's so obvious. That's great you enjoyed the last two though!! Thanks for sharing. Fun review set up.


    1. Murder was still fun and enjoyable, but I would have liked the mystery to have lasted a little longer.

  2. I have Kiss Me in New York cued up to read soon so it's great to see such a positive review. Although it sounds like the epilogue missed a perfect opportunty to bring things full circle.

    1. That one kept me smiling the whole time. The hero was from an area of Brooklyn where my relatives lived, so that was fun for me. The epilogue was hopeful, but you know I am greedy

  3. Oh I am glad you liked Kiss Me in New York because I have that one to get to. Sounds like something I might need to get to sooner. Great reviews!

    1. It was fun. I read it right after a heavier book, so it really hit the spot.

  4. Murder, Magic, and what We Wore sounds fun. I like the sound of the glamours, and that she can see them.

    1. It was fun. Annis actually made the glamours. You had real world England, but then there were these small magical touches like people who could make glamours or people who could animate inanimate things.

  5. I'm super interested in Kiss Me in New York. It sounds really interesting and now I'm curious on what was left out of the epilogue. lol

    1. It was really sweet and fun and I am hard on endings, but if you read it, you will totally understand what I am talking about.

  6. These all sound like books worth picking up. Your pros outweighed your cons on all of these. I kind of want to read The Prince of Pot just to get to the brutal bear scene because I am curious.

    1. I DNF books I don't like, so if I make it to the end, the book will have more pros than cons. These were all quite good, and I liked the Prince of Pot a lot more than I expected. It was such a complicated story of family and choosing one's path. The struggle was depicted quite well, and as for the bear thing. I had to put the book down, because I could not see through my tears. It was really difficult. Kyi laid out the whys and it did advance the story, but it was very hard on my heart.