Monday, February 19, 2018

In a Nutshell Reviews

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

Don't Forget Me
Victoria Stevens
Series: n/a
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Rating:  4.5 out of 5 stars
Seventeen-year-old Hazel Clarke is no stranger to heartbreaks, and being sent to live with a father she’s never met is the latest in a string of them. Even the beauty of eastern Australia isn’t enough to take her mind off her mother and the life she had to leave behind in England. But when Hazel meets the friendly, kindhearted Red and his elusive twin, Luca, she begins the slow process of piecing together a new life—and realizes she isn’t the only one struggling with loss. As friendships deepen and love finds its way in, Hazel also learns that when you truly love someone, they are always in your heart.

This sparkling debut novel is a touching testament to coming of age, falling in love, and finding home in unexpected places.
After finishing a really heart wrenching and heavy book, I needed something to lift me back up a little. Let me tell you, this little gem of a book did just that. Don't Forget Me had me grinning and shedding happy tears in no time.
  • Pro: I really loved the different types of loss the characters were grieving. Some were mourning the death of a loved one. Some lost someone special due to illness. While others still lost their loved one to depression, and all these losses were explored quite well. 
  • Pro: There are so many good characters in this book. Hazel was wonderful, but so were Red, Luca, Hunter, Maddie, Claire, and Graham. I really enjoyed getting to know them all, and totally wanted to be part of this "family"
  • Pro: Speaking of family, I always enjoy family centric books, and Stevens definitely delivered one to me. There were a lot of different family dynamics probed in this story, but my favorite parts were when they were ALL together. Oh, and the parents were present too, which is always a plus. 
  • Pro: Stevens did a good job keeping me guessing about what brought Hazel to Australia and into her father's life. All I am going to say is I may have needed a tissue or two. 
  • Pro: I was so glad that there was beauty in the pain for these characters. Circumstances brought them together, and then they were able to move forward (slowly) and begin healing. 
  • Pro: OMG! The letters Hazel wrote to her mom broke me in the most beautiful way. I am getting misty right now just thinking about them. 
  • Pro: Although many of our characters were grieving, this book never got too sad. There was a lot of happiness, joy, humor, and a sweet romance to keep me from becoming a puddle. 
  • Pro: What a good ending!!! 
"Redleigh used to say that the stars are spy holes for heaven," he said. "So the people we lose can still watch over us, even when they're gone."
Overall: This was a beautiful and touching story about love, family, and holding those we have lost in our memories as we move forward, which left me all warm and fuzzy inside.

The Precious Dreadful
Steven Parlato
Series: n/a
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Mystery
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars
Teddi Alder is just trying to figure out her life.

When she joins SUMMERTEENS, a library writing group, she’s only looking to keep herself busy, not go digging around in her subconscious. But as she writes, disturbing memories of her childhood friend Corey bubble to the surface, and Teddi begins to question everything: her friendship with her BFF Willa, how much her mom really knows, and even her own memories. Teddi fears she’s losing her grip on reality—as evidenced by that mysterious ghost-girl who emerges from the park pool one night, the one who won’t leave Teddi alone. To top it all off, she finds herself juggling two guys with potential, a quirky new boy named Joy and her handsome barista crush Aidan, who has some issues of his own.

As the summer unfolds, Teddi is determined to get to the bottom of everything—her feelings, the mysterious ghost-girl, and the memories of Corey that refuse to be ignored.
I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this one. The Precious Dreadful caught my eye, because it eluded to some sort of mystery, suppressed memories, and some sort of paranormal element, but what kept my interest was Teddi.
  • Pro: Teddi was wonderfully complicated and I loved her voice. She was a big reason why I kept reading. I was interested in the mystery, but I was more interested in Teddi. 
  • Pro: Parlato did a great job pulling us into Teddi's world and setting the atmosphere. I could clearly visualize Teddi's sort of sad surroundings, and could easily slip right into the setting. 
  • Pro: The mystery storyline was well thought out and I liked the pace at which Parlato let it unfold. I also liked the way Teddi discovered the bits and pieces and was able to reveal her repressed memories to us. 
  • Pro: There were some fun and quirky characters included to round out the cast. I absolutely adored Ed. I wish he had a better storyline, because he was a character I wanted to know a lot better. 
  • Con: The romance storyline was a little awkward for me. I struggled a little with its purpose, and then Aiden's whole arc didn't really work for me. I guess it was a way for this one thing to be accomplished towards the end, but I just could't see its full purpose.   
  • Pro: Teddi's home life was messy. Abandoned by her father and left to ultimately look after her alcoholic mother, she was forced to be a grownup way before her time. However, I really appreciated how Parlato handled the relationship between Teddi and her mother. He showed that it wasn't all bad and neither was her mom. 
  • Pro: The ending went in an interesting direction. I really liked where Teddi ended up, and thought the ends were tied up quite nicely. 
That last moment together something we alone shared. Terrible, but solely ours. It's all I have left of him. And I'm afraid if I share it too freely, it won't belong to us anymore.
Overall: A compelling mystery with a touch of the paranormal and an engaging protagonist, which kept me turning the pages.

Flight Season
Marie Marquardt
Series: n/a
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Back when they were still strangers, TJ Carvalho witnessed the only moment in Vivi Flannigan’s life when she lost control entirely. Now, TJ can’t seem to erase that moment from his mind, no matter how hard he tries. Vivi doesn’t remember any of it, but she’s determined to leave it far behind. And she will.

But when Vivi returns home from her first year away at college, her big plans and TJ’s ambition to become a nurse land them both on the heart ward of a university hospital, facing them with a long and painful summer together – three months of glorified babysitting for Ángel, the problem patient on the hall. Sure, Ángel may be suffering from a life-threatening heart infection, but that doesn’t make him any less of a pain.

As it turns out, though, Ángel Solís has a thing or two to teach them about all those big plans, and the incredible moments when love gets in their way.
Marquardt impressed me with her last book, The Radius of Us, and I was therefore eager to read more of her work. I was surprised to find that I could love her new book more than her last, but that is exactly what happened.
  • Pro: I fell for all three main characters instantly. They were all so unique, and each brought something special to this story. 
  • Pro: Vivi, TJ, and Ángel were all so different from each other, yet they were able to find common ground and develop genuine affections for one another. I loved watching their friendships grow and change, and found so much comfort, joy, and happiness in their interactions. 
  • Pro: Fate brought these three together for a reason, and their lives were changed for the better. Cue the happy tears!
  • Pro: This book was so beautifully written, and the writing only enhanced the beauty of the story. 
  • Pro: I was a fan of the setting, because I used to visit St. Augustine often when I lived in Jacksonville. I always love when I am familiar with places in a book. 
  • Pro: There were so many different story threads that revolved around setbacks, but the characters kept plugging away regardless of how many obstacles they experienced. Marquardt has such a knack for writing these characters who show so much resilience and strength. 
  • Pro: Vivi's struggles were so difficult. After experiencing such a great loss, she just continued to suffer more and more losses, but you know know what? She never threw in the towel. She just kept treading water until she was able to come up with a plan, and I really admired her for that. 
  • Pro: The romance was this wonderful slow burn. I savored every interaction, and couldn't wait for the relationship to burn hotter and brighter. 
  • Pro: I thought it was brilliant the way Marquardt used Ángel's point of view. We were in his head, but he knew that we, the readers, were in his head. I like that he talked to us directly. It gave his POV a little different feel and purpose from the other two, which were more traditional. 
  • Pro: Each of Vivi's chapters began with an entry in her bird watching journal, and I really loved them. The bird stuff was quite interesting, but I also liked the way the observations of the bird paralleled what would play out in the chapter. 
  • Pro:  I enjoy learning about different cultures, and Marquardt shared a lot of TJ's Brazilian culture and Ángel's heritage. Loved it all!
  • Pro: Ángel wasn't your stereotypical sick kid. He was funny and his observations and honesty were a breath of fresh air. 
  • Pro: The last few chapters of this book are so painfully beautiful. I didn't expect what happened to happen, but it was perfect and deserved every single happy tear I shed. 
But the amazing thing about those birds? Their mental maps are so incredible, so wide, that as soon as the storm passes, they're back on course, headed home.

Sometimes I wish I had bird brains.
Overall: An utterly wonderful and captivating tale of friendship, love, loss, and healing that filled me  with a a myriad of emotions, and left me lots of hope in my heart. 

** ARCs received in exchange for honest reviews.

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


  1. Flight Season looks great! I love that you feel for the characters instantly. I always find it easier to read books that I love the characters in. Great reviews!

    1. I love Flight Season so much. There are so many wonderful, beautiful and painful things that happen. The characters were so easy to care for get attached to. I couldn't help cheering them on.

  2. Oh that first book sounds amazing, I'm so happy you enjoyed it! The characters sounds amazing and YAY for all these great family dynamics, I LOVE that in my stories <3
    Lovely reviews! :)

    1. I loved Don't Forget Me. It immediately brought me into my zone, and I could not help falling in love with all the characters. I always like reading a book that takes place outside of the US too.

  3. I love family-centric novels too! Don't Forget Me is on my TBR and now I'm even more excited to read it! Adding Flight Season to my TBR!

    1. I hope to see more buzz for that book, because it was really wonderful. Flight Season was, sorry I am getting the feels right now, so beautiful. I just loved it so much.

  4. I've wanted to read The Radius of Us for a while and after seeing your review of Flight Season, I want to read it too. And it sounds like the kind of New Adult novel I'd be into. Thank you for the wonderful review!

    1. Radius was all the feels. Marquardt really puts a lot of her heart and personal passion into these books. Flight Season is more NA. Two of the main characters are in college, but their issues are also more grown up too.

  5. Flight Season sounds really good, and so does the Precious dreadful with the mystery elements. these are all new to me.

  6. These all sound worthwhile but Flight Season is really tempting me. The first cover is beautiful as well.

    1. I so want more people to read Marquardt's books, because they are beautiful. There are these cool bird watching things to kick off Vivi's chapters, which was pick to sort of introduce the focus of the chapter. I loved the way Marquardt used it in the book.

  7. Overall, I see a lot of pros in your reviews. :) Don't Forget Me looks like a good read. Great reviews!

    1. Don't Forget Me was such a lovely family-centric story. And it was about grief and loss and healing and moving forward without forgetting. I liked it a lot.

  8. Flight Season sounds absolutely wonderful. I've been eyeing that one because I like the cover but now it sounds like I have plenty of other great reasons to pick it up. Great reviews!

    1. Flight Season really was fabulous and beautiful and I just loved it.

  9. Don't Forget Me caught my attention the most out of the three. I love a heart-warming family story!

    Nice post, Sam! Have a lovely day! :)

    Ronnie @ Paradise Found

    1. I love all the quality family-centric books I have been reading lately. There are sad parts to Don't Forget Me, but it was such a beautiful story of connection. My heart was very full when I finished reading that one.

  10. I'm going to have to add Flight Season to my list, I do enjoy slow burn romances. Great reviews Sam, I enjoyed the pro's and con's of each review.

    1. Yeah! I loved Flight Season so much. I hope you get to read it.