Friday, December 22, 2017

In a Nutshell Reviews

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

The Sweetheart Sham
Danielle Ellison
Series: Southern Charmed, #1
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Entangled: Crush
Rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars
In a small town like Culler, South Carolina, you guard your secrets like you guard your cobbler recipe: with your life. Georgia Ann Monroe knows a thing or two about secrets: she’s been guarding the truth that her best friend Will is gay for years now. But what happens when a little white lie to protect him gets her into a fake relationship…and then the boy of her dreams shows up?

Enter Beau Montgomery: Georgie’s first love, hotter than ever, and much too much of a southern gentleman to ever pursue someone else’s girl. There’s no way to come clean to Beau while still protecting Will. But bless their hearts, they live in Culler—where secrets always have a way of revealing themselves.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains a hilarious “fakeship,” a scorching-hot impossible relationship, and a heartwarming best-friendship that will make you want to call your best friend right here, right now.
I am always happy to read an Entangled romance, because I can expect a sweet romance filled with likable characters and an HEA, and once again, Entangled delivered.
  • Pro: This was a second chance romance AND a small town romance. Those are two things I fancy. 
  • Pro: Speaking of small towns, I loved getting to know Culler and all its denizens. We were introduced to the founding families, and also got a very nice tour of the town. I was able to attend many town-wide events, which rounded out my Culler experience, and I have to admit, it seemed like a really nice place to live. 
  • Pro: At the center of this story sits a long-standing friendship, which had evolved and changed, but was still quite strong, and you know I am a sap for life-long friendships. Will and Georgia was so fabulous together. You could totally see why they were besties, but I was really happy when the third amigo returned to Culler and finally slipped back into his former bestie position. 
  • Pro: There was this wonderful theme of honesty in the story - being honest with the people you love and with yourself.
  • Pro: I am a northern girl with a southern heart, and enjoyed the little bits of southern culture that peppered this story. 
  • Pro: One of the major storylines was a coming-out story, and I thought it was done quite nicely. I liked the way Ellison shared Will's fears and how keeping this part of himself secret affected him. It was a treat sharing his joy as he fell in love for the first time, and I was really happy for him when he chose his moment to aver his love to his secret boyfriend. It was so sweet. 
  • Pro: Georgia and Beau were pretty easy for me to ship. My heart broke with the way things ended the first time, and it saddened me that they each carried around this hurt for two years. 
  • Pro: I was quite fond of the family focus. We spent a lot of time with family, often with three generations at once, which totally won my heart. 
  • Pro: The ending was so adorable. Who doesn't love a grand gesture? And well, we actually got TWO grand gestures in this book. What more could a girl ask for. 

Overall: A delightful story of family, friendship, and love, which left me eager to revisit Culler.

The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily
Laura Creedle
Series: n/a
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Rating:  4 out of 5 stars
When Lily Michaels-Ryan ditches her ADHD meds and lands in detention with Abelard, who has Asperger’s, she’s intrigued—Abelard seems thirty seconds behind, while she feels thirty seconds ahead. It doesn't hurt that he’s brilliant and beautiful.

When Abelard posts a quote from The Letters of Abelard and Heloise online, their mutual affinity for ancient love letters connects them. The two fall for each other. Hard. But is it enough to bridge their differences in person?

This hilarious, heartbreaking story of human connection between two neurodivergent teens creates characters that will stay with you long after you finish reading.
I loved so many things about this book, but mostly I loved Lily. Obviously, the hopeless romantic in me adored that Lily and Abelard found each other. These two people, who were considered "different" connected through the words of two long ago lovers, and from there, love flourished. This one delivered a lot more than I was expecting, and I loved just about every second of it!
  • Pro: Lily. I LOVED Lily. Being in her head was quite an experience. Her voice was clear and distinct. She had so much to say, and I wanted to listen to it all. Her observations were witty and often insightful. Most times, she made me laugh, but there were many time where my heart broke for her.
  • Pro: The romance was very different. Lily and Abelard had a very successful texting romance, but it was tricky for them to navigate in person. I found it quite sweet that each was willing to make sacrifices for the other, and I was keeping my fingers crossed that they would make it.  
  • Pro: The texts! Lily and Abelard's exchanges were so sweet and swoony. Whereas they were somewhat awkward in real life, each of them were really able to communicate their feelings effectively when messaging. Also, the Abelard and Heloise quotes were wonderful and used so well. I thought it was fantastic that they could connect this way. 
  • Pro: Because both Lily and Abelard were quite intelligent and well read, there were some really great exchanges on many different topics that piqued my interest. 
  • Con: I know some people like them, but I abhor open ended endings. I need closure, people!! I need definitive answers, and though the ending is hopeful, it is by no means an ending without many questions. 
  • Pro: People keep talking about the "instalove" in this book, but Lily and Abelard actually had a history. Abelard mentions it. Lily mentions it. Even Abelard's mom mentions their past playdates, and apparently, Lily showed a kindness to Abelard which he never forgot.  
  • Pro: I thought the book had some really fabulous auxiliary characters. Rosalind was a wonderful best friend. I enjoyed her and her family tremendously. I also thought Lily's sister was quite special. You could tell how much she loved and cared for Lily. 
  • Pro: For a guy who was not big on socializing, Abelard knew the exact right things to say some times. When he told Lily, "You are a fractured snowflake, a pattern repeated in infinite detail in a world full of salt crystals. You're not broken - you're perfect," it melted my heart. 
I liked it!

Overall: This book delivered emotions galore! There was laughter, tears, anger, and a lot of grins. This was a solid debut, and I definitely hope to read more of Creedle's work.

Down and Across
Arvin Ahmadi
Series: n/a
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Rating:  4.5 out of 5 stars
Scott Ferdowsi has a track record of quitting. Writing the Great American Novel? Three chapters. His summer internship? One week. His best friends know exactly what they want to do with the rest of their lives, but Scott can hardly commit to a breakfast cereal, let alone a passion.

With college applications looming, Scott's parents pressure him to get serious and settle on a career path like engineering or medicine. Desperate for help, he sneaks off to Washington, DC, to seek guidance from a famous professor who specializes in grit, the psychology of success.

He never expects an adventure to unfold out of what was supposed to be a one-day visit. But that's what Scott gets when he meets Fiora Buchanan, a ballsy college student whose life ambition is to write crossword puzzles. When the bicycle she lends him gets Scott into a high-speed chase, he knows he's in for the ride of his life. Soon, Scott finds himself sneaking into bars, attempting to pick up girls at the National Zoo, and even giving the crossword thing a try--all while opening his eyes to fundamental truths about who he is and who he wants to be.
I love a good coming of age story, and with Down and Across I got a GREAT coming of age story.
  • Pro: Scott was fab-u-los! I couldn't get enough of him and his musings. Being in his head was a total treat too. Loved him! 
  • Pro: The side characters in this book were very well crafted. From the major to the minor players, each character had something that made you give them your attention. 
  • Pro: I loved the whole "grit" concept, and thought the short profiles on people, who Scott considered "gritty" were so awesome. Some of the historical figures I knew a lot about, but there were others I didn't, and I was grateful to learn their stories. 
  • Pro: I really appreciated that Ahmadi included people with all different viewpoints. There was the far right, the far left, and somewhere in-between. Lots of ideas were exchanged, and the reader is left with many things to consider. 
  • Pro: I really like when the protagonist's cultural background plays a role in the story. Scott was first generation American, and was trying to figure out how his heritage fit into his life. I really enjoyed all the little bits about his family and their background that he shared with us. 
  • Pro: One of Scott's biggest struggles was with his parents. He felt like they were too overprotective and that he could never live up to their standards. During his time in DC his appreciation of his parents grows and changes as he grew and changed. It was quite lovely the way Ahmadi worked this storyline. 
  • Pro: I think so many young adults will relate to Scott. Those later years of high school can be quite a crossroads for many. As graduation looms, some decision need to be made that may affect one's future, and that struggle was explored so well in this book. 
  • Pro: Right now I am standing and applauding the author on that stupendous ending. That's how it's done folks. I am a closure-ho, and Ahmadi gave me answers, which left me in a state of elation. 

Overall: This was such a wonderful coming of age story! I so enjoyed being in DC with Saaket/Scott as he searched for his "grit", and I will forever sing the praises of endings like the one Ahmadi gifted us with. I smiled so hard, tears fell out of my eyes. I will absolutely be on the look out for more books from this author.

BONUS: Angie Thomas interviewed Arvin Ahmadi here

*ARCs received in exchange for an honest reviews.

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


  1. Wow, Down and Across sounds REALLY good! It hadn't been really on my radar at all, but you have talked about so many things I love in a contemporary that I am seriously thinking about adding it. I like realistic portrayals of kids making the college transition, AND I love a solid ending. And gritty historical people? Absolutely! Lily and Abelard looks cute too- though the open ending... Idk about that hah. The first book is totally new to me, but I DO love the idea of a grand gesture- it sounds so fun, maybe I just don't read the book, but DO find someone who wants to throw some grand gestures together for me :D Great reviews!!

    1. I was excited when I serendipitously snagged that one through First to Read. It really surpassed my expectations. I love a good self discovery story and Scott's fits that category. So many good things in Lily and Abelard. As with many other books focusing on neurodiversity, this one had an interesting POV too, and it's #OwnVoices, which makes me consider everything being said so much more.

  2. I hadn't given Down and Across much thought, but you make it sound really good. Have you ever noticed that you can totally recognize Entangled books by their covers (at least contemp ones)? They all look alike!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    1. I really enjoyed Down and Across. It was such an interesting journey I got to take with Scott, and I really enjoyed the infusion of his culture and the "grit" stories. I guess Entangled books always have those contemporary romance looking covers, but I think it's the heart that gives it away for me. =)

  3. I am seeing a lot of great buzz about Down and Across. I am kind of mad that I didn't grab it when it was offered on First to Read. All of these books sound like worthwhile reads. Glad you enjoyed them, Sam!

    1. I was shocked I got it from First to Read, because I am always too late to get anything. I just happened to click over to the website, and they had the new books up. This was before the email went out, so I got lucky. It was really fabulous.

  4. How lovely are these reads! I think the Sweetheart Sham might be favourite out of this -- just for the cuteness factor alone!

    1. Of the three, Down and Across was my favorite, but they were all great in their own way. Sweetheart Sham was classic Entangled. Light and breezy with great characters, a nice family focus, and a sweet romance. I enjoyed it.