Thursday, September 28, 2017

In a Nutshell Reviews: Hearts Won and Hearts Lost

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. Today, I am sharing my thoughts on three romances.

Approximately Yours
Julie Hammerle
Series: North Pole, Minnesota, #3
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Entangled: Crush
Rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars
Danny Garland is so out of Holly’s league. And her family is only back in North Pole, Minnesota, long enough to sell Grandma’s house and say “Merry Christmas.” So telling her basketball-star, too-hot-to-be-real long-time crush that she’d like to kiss him under the mistletoe just isn’t going to happen.

And now he’s asked out her cousin, Elda. Elda is a mess at flirting, so when she begs Holly to intervene, she does. Holly helps her flirt with him over text. And then again. And again. Now she’s stuck texting him as her cousin, and Elda is the one going on the date. Holly thought she could settle for just conversation with Danny, but talking with him is some kind of magic. He’s got the perfect comebacks, she makes him laugh, they text until everyone is asleep.

She just can’t ever tell him it’s her he’s really texting.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book has hot texts, gingerbread wars, and a slow-burn romance that could melt a Minnesota winter.
  • Pro: I am a fan of North Pole, and in this book, it's actually Christmas time! There are a bunch of really fun celebratory activities going on with the gingerbread competition being the center of this story. By the way, the gingerbread competition was fabulous. 
  • Pro: Danny and Holly actually share a past, and it was very sweet hearing about them in their younger years. 
  • Pro: This was a fun Cyrano type story, where Holly had this texting relationship with Danny in order to help Elda win his heart. The exchanges were quite fun and adorable, and I couldn't wait for their next text session. 
  • Con: Sometimes I thought Holly was a little too hard on herself about her looks, but I guess it worked with the story. Her self defense mechanism was a bit much at times too, but we did see a lot of her big heart, so I forgave her and sort of understood her a little too. 
  • Pro: I love grandma stories, and although what brought Holly back to North Pole was her grandmother's death, I really enjoyed getting to share all her memories and I loved how she chose to honor her grandmother's memory. 
  • Pro: As with all companion books, I was really happy to see what the other North Pole couples were up to, and was glad Hammerle included them in this story. 
  • Pro: There are some really great silly, fun bits that I found quite amusing. A few of the side characters also gave me things to laugh at, and I always love to laugh. 
  • Pro: I was really grateful for that ending. It was very sweet and gave me the sort of information and closure I need. 

Overall: A super, sweet, adorable Christmas romance, that left me a sappy grin on my face.

Speak Easy, Speak Love
McKelle George
Series: n/a
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Retelling, Romance
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Rating:  4.5 out of 5 stars
Six teenagers’ lives intertwine during one thrilling summer full of romantic misunderstandings and dangerous deals in this sparkling retelling of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.

After she gets kicked out of boarding school, seventeen-year-old Beatrice goes to her uncle’s estate on Long Island. But Hey Nonny Nonny is more than just a rundown old mansion. Beatrice’s cousin, Hero, runs a struggling speakeasy out of the basement—one that might not survive the summer. Along with Prince, a poor young man determined to prove his worth; his brother John, a dark and dangerous agent of the local mob; Benedick, a handsome trust-fund kid trying to become a writer; and Maggie, a beautiful and talented singer; Beatrice and Hero throw all their efforts into planning a massive party to save the speakeasy. Despite all their worries, the summer is beautiful, love is in the air, and Beatrice and Benedick are caught up in a romantic battle of wits that their friends might be quietly orchestrating in the background.

Hilariously clever and utterly charming, McKelle George’s debut novel is full of intrigue and 1920s charm. For fans of Jenny Han, Stephanie Perkins, and Anna Godbersen.
  • Pro: This was a fun and charming retelling.
  • Pro: This book featured a colorful cast of characters, who were complex and interesting. 
  • Pro: The interactions between Beatrice and Benedick were so fabulous. With each page, I was hoping they would share more time together. 
  • Pro: Beatrice may be one of my favorite characters I have met this year. She was too fabulous for words with her genius level intelligence and her moxie not to hide it. She spoke her mind, was a survivor, and I loved her boldness. 
  • Pro: George picked some of the best things about the 20s to feature in this book. I especially loved the slang. So fun. 
  • Pro: Hey Nonny Nonny was more than a house, it was a place where strangers from different socioeconomic and cultural worlds became family. The bond between its inhabitants was obvious, and their actions spoke way louder than any words ever could. 
  • Pro: This debut is filled with some amazing writing. From the dialog to the descriptions, George did an incredible job pulling me in the time period and the lives of these characters. 
  • Pro: George gave me a great and satisfying ending. 

Overall: A fun trip back in time, which made me smile, laugh, swoon, and cheer.

Christina Lauren
Series: n/a
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Three years ago, Tanner Scott’s family relocated from California to Utah, a move that nudged the bisexual teen temporarily back into the closet. Now, with one semester of high school to go, and no obstacles between him and out-of-state college freedom, Tanner plans to coast through his remaining classes and clear out of Utah.

But when his best friend Autumn dares him to take Provo High’s prestigious Seminar—where honor roll students diligently toil to draft a book in a semester—Tanner can’t resist going against his better judgment and having a go, if only to prove to Autumn how silly the whole thing is. Writing a book in four months sounds simple. Four months is an eternity.

It turns out, Tanner is only partly right: four months is a long time. After all, it takes only one second for him to notice Sebastian Brother, the Mormon prodigy who sold his own Seminar novel the year before and who now mentors the class. And it takes less than a month for Tanner to fall completely in love with him.
  • Pro: Tanner had the most awesome family ever. They were able to be open and honest and it was quite a lovely thing to see. #FamilyGoals
  • Pro: Tanner is awesome. I totally fell in love with him myself. He was funny, witty, and intelligent. This made for some great banter in this book, and also made the time spent inside his head quite enjoyable. 
  • Pro: This book is not just about sexual identity. It's about identity in general, being your true self and doing things that are fulfilling and make you happy. I think a wide audience would be able to relate to this story on that level. 
  • Pro: The authors did such a fantastic job making me understand Sebastian's inner struggle. My heart physically ached for him. Shoot! I am getting a little misty just thinking about it right now. 
  • Con: I could have done without the Autumn-Tanner thing. It wasn't the worst, but it frustrated me. Obviously, it wasn't a deal breaker, as I still gave this book 5-stars, but I just didn't care for it. 
  • Pro: I am always a little scared to read books that feature religion, because religious people are often demonized in books, but Christina Lauren presented the LDS church from many sides. They showed good things about the church, and how some progress has been made regarding homosexuality, but they also acknowledged that more progress is necessary. They had characters who had left the church, and present their grievances with the church, but they also showed current members, who were more progressive and did not follow every last tenant to the T. It was a fair and balanced treatment of the church and I appreciated getting the various viewpoints. 
  • Pro: I adored watching the romance between Tanner and Sebastian blossom. It totally put a stupid grin on my face. 
  • Pro: To all those authors out there, who have disappointed me with their endings - listen up! This is how you do an epilogue. I got closure, and that is all I ever ask for. 

Overall: A beautiful and poignant love story packed with feels, which left me so warm, happy, and hopeful. 

**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. Waiting for the library to email me about Autoboyography. *checks email again* Looking forward to trying it, especially after your review.
    Jen Ryland

    1. I was really impressed with this duo's first foray into the YA genre. They absolutely surpassed my expectations with this book.

  2. Thanks for sharing these. I REALLY want to read Autoboyography and Speak Easy Speak Love (Much Ado About Nothing is a favorite Shakespeare play for me). I'm so glad you loved both of these.


    1. I was surprised by how much I loved them both. I thought they would be good, but they were really good. I hope you love them too!

  3. Yay about seeing that you liked Speak Easy Speak Love and Autoboyography. Excited for both of those!

    1. Both were fabulous! I hope you read and love them both.

  4. These all sound great! Lot of pros here. I am probably most interested in Autoboyography.

    1. Autoboyography was my favorite of the bunch (though all were good). It seems almost unfair to compare them, though, because that one was set up to have such an emotional punch, and I feel like because it left such an emotional footprint, I tend to rate higher.

  5. I went back and forth about requesting Approximately Yours. It sounded cute and like something I would enjoy but I am so determined to clear out all my ARCs and *not* add anymore to the stack so I decided to pass on it.

    Autoboyography... I am ridiculously excited for it! Amazon just delivered my copy on Tuesday and I am so ready to dive right in. Reading how much you loved it makes me all the more excited for it. It's one of those rare ones that I just have a feeling I'm going to love. :)

    1. The North Pole books are always cute, and I knew I would enjoy it. I hope you love Autoboyography because I thought it was really well done

  6. Some great reviews. I have to say I didn't have Speak Easy, Speak Love on my radar before but I feel like maybe I should change my mind on that one now after your review. And Autoboyography, I feel like everyone is loving that one so I just have to read it, I really do.

    1. I requested Speak Easy on a whim (great cover and some good buzz). I really liked it. One thing that was so fabulous was the feminist side of the 20s. I know women were flexing their powers back then with the short hair and flapper style, but it was really great the way George worked it into these characters.