Friday, December 15, 2017

In a Nutshell Reviews

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

Prince in Disguise
Stephanie Kate Strohm
Series: n/a
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Rating:  4.5 out of 5 stars
Someday I want to live in a place where I never hear “You’re Dusty’s sister?” ever again. Life is real enough for Dylan—especially as the ordinary younger sister of Dusty, former Miss Mississippi and the most perfect, popular girl in Tupelo. But when Dusty wins the hand of the handsome Scottish laird-to-be Ronan on the TRC television network’s crown jewel, Prince in Disguise, Dylan has to face a different kind of reality: reality TV.

As the camera crew whisks them off to Scotland to film the lead-up to the wedding, camera-shy Dylan is front and center as Dusty’s maid of honor. The producers are full of surprises—including old family secrets, long-lost relatives, and a hostile future mother-in-law who thinks Dusty and Dylan’s family isn’t good enough for her only son. At least there’s Jamie, an adorably bookish groomsman who might just be the perfect antidote to all Dylan’s stress . . . if she just can keep TRC from turning her into the next reality show sensation.
When I want to read something that amuses me, I know I cannot go wrong with a book by Stephanie Kate Strohm. Once again, Strohm delivered a charming and witty rom-com, which left me in a sunshine-day mood.
  • Pro: Strohm is the queen of banter! The dialog was witty and filled with the perfect pop culture references. I swear, there were moments I felt as though I was in an episode of Gilmore Girls (which is my gold standard for whip smart verbal exchanges). 
  • Pro: This book is filled with some really awesome and quirky characters. I absolutely could not wait to see what they would do next. 
  • Pro: Dylan was so fabulous! She had just the right amount of snark and heart to make you adore her, and being inside her head was quite a treat. 
  • Pro: Jamie was the perfect foil for Dylan. Poetry quoting, horseback rescuing, and a total gentleman, he slowly worked his swoon, and it was so much fun to see him in action. 
  • Pro: Jamie and Dylan together was a thing of beauty. They had great chemistry, and took adorable to the nth level. 
  • Pro: I greatly enjoyed the reality TV angle. It was a fun spin on Bachelor type shows, and the in show antics were especially amusing. 
  • Pro: I always like getting outside the US via a book, and throughly enjoyed this trip to Scotland. 
  • Pro: Did I mention how awesome all the pop culture references were? Seriously, could not get enough of them, because they were per-fect. 
  • Con: Psych! I have none. I loved this book! 
Like I said, this book left me in this kind of mood. 

Overall: As always, Strohm delivered a clever, witty, and fun story that warmed my heart and made me laugh.

R.I.P. Eliza Hart
Alyssa B. Sheinmel
Series: n/a
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Rating:  4.5 out of 5 stars
When Eliza Hart, the most popular girl at Ventana Ranch boarding school, is found dead on the cliffs outside her dormitory, Ellie Sokoloff is determined to figure out what happened to her. After all, Eliza was Ellie’s childhood best friend.

Never mind that ever since Ellie arrived at school Eliza has spread terrible rumors about her, calling her a liar and a stalker, when all Ellie wanted to do was rekindle their old friendship. Or that Ellie’s claustrophobia limits where she can go and what she can do. Or that Ellie’s suitemate, Sam, is the only one who will help her . . . because to everyone else, Ellie looks like the top suspect.

Can Ellie clear her name and solve the mystery behind Eliza’s death? Her hunt for the truth will uncover secrets she never imagined, sending her deep into her own memories of her childhood with Eliza Hart.

New York Times bestselling author Alyssa Sheinmel delivers a gripping mystery and a sensitive and moving examination of the secrets that can hold us back—and even destroy us.
I thought this was going to be a simple mystery of how Eliza Hart died, but there was so much more to this story. It was at times really intense, and many things in this book resonated with me.
  • Pro: I love boarding school books, and this one was epically located in Big Sur. If it was real, I would want to go there. 
  • Pro: Adding Eliza's POV from the beyond really brought a lot of depth to the story. Sure, Sheinmel could have recounted many of the things Eliza revealed via a second hand account, but the impact was so much greater coming straight from Eliza. 
  • Pro: Sam intrigued me. I was worried about him at time, and not sure about his motives, but eventually, I fell in love with him. 
  • Pro: There were quite a few mysterious threads in this story. Who killed Eliza? Why did she lie about Ellie? What was the root of Ellie's claustrophobia? And I am happy to report all those questions are answered. 
  • Pro: Mental health rep is one of the only reps I will comment on, because I live it, and I thought the emotions of those suffering from mental health issues were conveyed so well. The frustration of trying pill after pill, doctor after doctor, treatment after treatment, and you still are not well. I really related to Ellie and Eliza's feelings of failure, helplessness, and hopelessness. 
  • Pro: It was an important and wise choice to include both girls' POVs, because they were both quite hopeless at some point, but one was able to find hope. I think showing that side was crucial to me as a reader. 
  • Pro: I appreciated the inclusion of how family and friends are affected by the mental health issues of their loved ones. It was an important point of view to include in this story. 
  • Pro: The ending was actually really great and realistic. 
This one gets two thumbs up from me. 

Overall: A compelling mystery, filled with some complicated characters and an honest look at mental health.

Here, There, Everywhere
Julia Durango, Tyler Terrones
Series: n/a
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: HarperTeen
Rating:  4 out of 5 stars
Zeus would rather be anywhere than here—Buffalo Falls—the tiny town his family moved to at the end of the school year. Having left all his friends back in Chicago and with nothing to look forward to except helping out at his mother’s café and biking around town with his weird little brother, Zeus is pretty sure this is destined to be the worst summer of his life.

But then he meets Rose—funny, beautiful, smart, and an incredible musician.

Zeus can hardly believe that someone like her exists, let alone seems interested in being with him. However, while Zeus is counting down the minutes until he can see her next, Rose is counting down the days until she finds out whether she will be able to leave their small town to pursue her dreams. As the afternoons spent going on local adventures pass into nights discussing their deepest hopes, Zeus knows that he doesn’t have long to convince Rose that what they have is more than a summer fling…if only he’s brave enough to seize the chance.
I didn't realize the title of this book was based on the Beatles' song, Here, There, and Everywhere, but I have to say, it's appropriate. That song is a sweet and beautiful declaration of love, and encompasses many of the emotions Zeus was experiencing as he fell in love for the first time.
  • Pro: I LOVED Zeus! He was wry and witty and made me laugh often. I think I laughed for several pages straight as he explained his heritage and declared himself "Mexiwegian". He was also sweet and caring. He felt bad when he was insensitive to others' needs, and he also felt things quite deeply. He took one for the team on more than one occasion, and grew a whole lot during this book. 
  • Pro: This book had quite a precious sibling relationship. Zeus was much older than his brother, Manny, who he lovingly referred to as Grub, but still had a genuine fondness for him and spent quite a bit of time fostering Grub's love for all things World War II. 
  • Pro: Speaking of Grub, I loved that kid too. I adored all his WWII adventures and I thought the storyline involving Grub and Blackjack, the 90-year-old WWII veteran was quite special. 
  • Pro: This was such a precious story of falling in love. From the first time Zeus saw Rose, I knew I was going to enjoy watching this relationship blossom, and I was not disappointed. I  was delighted tagging along for their Sunday outings and volunteering at the nursing home. Theirs was a tender, sweet first love that I wish everyone could experience. 
  • Pro: This book had so many wonderful side characters, which I think is really important to point out, because this is a character driven story. One of my favorites was Letty. She was the heart of Hilltop Nursing Home. She was spunky and fun-loving and she was all about living in the moment. She was always saying, "Enjoy today, you might be dead tomorrow." Sage advice. 
  • Pro: Full disclosure - I cried when I read the ending. I was on the treadmill, and I was blubbering. It was just so sweet and touching. I also liked that we got a lot of closure. I knew how things were going for almost all the major players in the story, and although there was one question mark, I decided how to interpret the very end of the book, and I was happy with it.

Overall: A sweet and touching tale of first love, which made my heart dance and brought lots of happy tears to my eyes.

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

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


  1. This is the first time I've heard of Prince in Disguise, but now I definitely want to read it! The dialogue sounds great. Plus, any dialogue that is on the same level as Gilmore Girls is something I need in my life asap. My library just got R.I.P. Eliza Hart in, and I'm hoping to borrow it soon. Like you, I love boarding school books so I'm happy to hear the setting went well. Plus, the mystery does seem interesting, and I'm loving that it includes a POV from the beyond. Great reviews!

    1. For me, the stand out part of Eliza was the way Sheinmel dealt with the mental health issues. If you are looking for something that will make you laugh, read Prince. It was hilarious.

  2. Yes, I'm so excited for Prince in Disguise! I could really use a fun and upbeat book right now!

  3. I can't wait to read Prince in Disguise it sounds great! I love when the author includes a lot of banter it always makes me want to keep reading. Great review!

    1. Strohm is my go-to fun and witty banter in the YA world. This is my 4th Strohm book, and I am sticking with my assessment.

  4. Oh Prince in Disguise sounds like so much fun - I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it. Any book that gets out of the US a bit, with amazing pop culture reference and banter... like an episode of Gilmore Girls?!! I'm SO in for that ahha :)

    1. Strohm writes whip smart banter, which is filled with fantastic pop culture references, which is why GG popped into my head. The book was sweet, fun, and adorable. Loved it.

  5. Ahh... these books all sounds so good. I am really curious about the first one, I need more fun and quirky!

    1. Strohm is so funny! If you are looking for something light, which will make you smile, read something by Strohm. Her books always leave me with stupid grins.

  6. R.I.P. Eliza Hart sounds like such a great read - I hadn't heard of the other two but they sound really good, too. I'm going to have to look into all of these.

    1. All three were great for different reasons. Prince is just hilarious, Here, There was a precious first love story, and Eliza was a raw and honest look at mental health.

  7. R.I.P. Elize Hart looks like one I might ant to read, and it's new to me, so thanks! And thank you also for the Sunshine Day video, now THAT brings back memories lol.

    1. Glad you found one that interests you. I really liked it. It's a more serious and heavier book, but dealt with something that is a huge part of my life. So, I related on many levels. I always loved the signing Brady Kids. Glad it took to memory lane.

  8. All three of these sound amazing, Sam! R.I.P Eliza Heart looks like more of the kind of book that I usually pick up but I would try the other 2 for sure. Glad you enjoyed all them all.

    1. Eliza Hart was the heaviest of the three, but I really enjoyed all three.