Monday, September 10, 2018

In a Nutshell Reviews


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


Ten After Closing
Jessica Bayliss
Series: n/a
Age/Genre: Young Adult, Suspense-Thriller
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Rating:  4 out of 5 stars
Goodreads
10PM: Closing time at Cafe Flores. The door should be locked, but it isn't, Scott Bradley and Winsome Sommervil are about to become hostages.

TEN MINUTES BEFORE CLOSING: Scott's girlfriend breaks up with him over the phone while he's in the cafe's basement storeroom because he's late picking her up for the big end-of-the-year party. Now he can't go to the party, but he can't go home, either--not knowing if his dad will still be in a drunken rage. Meanwhile, Winny wanted one night to let loose, away from her mother's crushing expectations. Instead, she's stranded at the cafe after her best friend ditches her in a misguided attempt at matchmaking.

TEN MINUTES AFTER CLOSING: The first gunshot is fired. Someone's dead. And if Winny, Scott, and the rest of the hostages don't come up with a plan soon, they may not live to see morning.

Told from both Winny and Scott's perspectives, and alternating between the events leading up to and following the hold-up, Ten Past Closing is an explosive story of teens wrestling with their own challenges, thrown into circumstances that will test their very limits.
Scott and Winny were already having a pretty bad day, but it turned deadly ten minutes after closing.
  • Pro: The format of this book was brilliant. It was told from before and after "closing". After moved forward and focused primarily on the hold-up, while before moved backward and focused largely on Winny and Scott's family issues and feelings for each other. The flips were well orchestrated, and the backward storytelling kept me curious. 
  • Pro: I got the impression, that Winny and Scott were both prisoners - literally during the hold-up and figuratively due to family expectations and demands. They were wrestling with some big decisions regarding their futures, but their families sort of robbed them of their autonomy and limited their choices. I thought Bayliss handled this quite well, as their struggle and emotions regarding the situation were crystal clear. 
  • Pro: Oscar and Pavan were such great parts of this cast. The addition of Oscar lent believability to some of the actions the hostages took, and Pavan was just a wonderful character, who I really enjoyed meeting. 
  • Pro: I thought it was a smart choice to include Winny and Scott's backstories, as well as their possible romance. Those "before" pieces were what made this feel YA to me, and not just like a hostage story. 
  • Pro/Con: There were parts of the ending I was wholeheartedly pleased with. The reactions and responses seemed appropriate and they made me happy. Though I questioned a few choices made for Scott, I did like that the idea of forgiveness was included, because I don't think it's uncommon for people surviving a life or death situation to gain more perspective on things. 
  • Pro: It was so easy to like Scott and Winny, as well as Scott+Winny. I admired their strength and ambition, and at the same time, I empathized with them regarding their home lives. 
Overall: A fast-paced story, which combined a hostage thriller with a teen family drama for a satisfying reading experience.


Oh My Goth
Gena Showalter
Series: n/a
Age/Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Goodreads
In this fully revised and refreshed edition of New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter’s hit novel Oh My Goth, a fiercely individualist Goth girl wakes up to discover her reality flipped on its head. The world has gone Goth, and she is actually—gag—popular.

A note from Jade Leighton’s journal

Years ago, a tragic accident robbed me of my mother and emotions. Because I find beauty in darkness and thrive outside social norms, I’ve been labeled a “freak” at school. I know my continued apathy hurts my loved ones, but I’m not about to change. Nothing will ever hurt me again.

Then I wake up in an alternate reality…and everything else has changed. Goth is in. I’m considered cool, and my archenemy—the formerly popular Mercedes—is the freak. But my real friends won’t talk to me...and the new boy is getting under my skin. As my world spins out of control, I’m desperate to return to normal. But the more time that passes, the less I’m sure what “normal” really is.
As a child, Jade witnessed her mother's death in an horrific car accident. In an effort to protect herself, she decided to stay detached and numb herself from the world. A conversation with her dead mother and a bump on the head brings her into an alternate reality in order to help her see the dangers of living her life behind her emotional armor.
The freaky things shunned by mainstream can be beautiful.
  • Pro: The whole Goth thing was secondary to many of the other wonderful messages and ideas in this book. My biggest takeaways were to value who you have in your life, because you never know when you can lose them, and to be kind, because you don't know what other people are dealing with. Both of these were excellent pieces of advice, and I loved seeing Jade learn the value of them. 
  • Pro: I enjoyed the Freaky-Friday-Scrooge-esque feel of this tale. Having Jade and Mercedes role swap was a great way for each character to learn more about the challenges of others and each other, and although it was a little over the top and maybe even cheesy, Jade's reaction to everything after she returned made me smile. 
  • Pro: The romance between Jade and Clarik was so sweet. Watching him chip away at Jade's protective coating warmed my heart, and it was wonderful seeing their friendship evolve into something more.  
  • Pro: I had to give dad a lot of credit. He had his own pain to manage, while still trying to help his child overcome a horrific and traumatic event. He definitely got an A+ for effort and for not giving up on Jade. 
  • Pro: Although I didn't quite understand why they put up with her, I was happy Jade had such a solid group of friends. I guess there was a shared outcast bond they had, and the way Jade would step up to defend them whenever the need arose, but I thought her friends gave a lot more to Jade than she gave to them, and for that, she was lucky. 
  • Pro: I was happily surprised by what a through ending Showalter gave me. I expected it to wrap up immediately, but she wasn't done, and I was grateful she gave us a little more closure. 
Overall: A fun and heartwarming story about living in the present, appreciating all the people in your life, looking beyond the surface for what's underneath, and taking advantage of second chances.

NOTE: This is apparently a rewrite/expansion of the original book. I did not read the original version of this book, but I did take into consideration, that this was Showalter's second chance to write her first novel when I was reading older reviews.


The Deepest Roots
Miranda Asebedo
Series: n/a
Age/Genre: Young Adult, Magical Realism
Publisher: HarperTeen
Rating:  4.5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads
Contemporary with the slightest twist of magic, this stunning debut YA novel is a fresh and heartwarming story about the power of friendship.

Cottonwood Hollow, Kansas, is a strange place. For the past century, every girl has been born with a special talent, like the ability to Fix any object, Heal any wound, or Find what is missing.

Best friends Rome, Lux, and Mercy all have similar talents, but to them, their abilities often feel like a curse. Rome may be able to Fix anything she touches, but that won’t help her mom pay rent or make it any easier to confide in Lux and Mercy about what’s going on at home. And Rome isn’t the only one. Lux has been hiding bigger, more dangerous secrets.

As Rome struggles to keep her friendships close, she discovers the truth about life in Cottonwood Hollow—that friends are stronger than curses, that trust is worth the risk, and sometimes, what you’ve been looking for has been under your feet the whole time.
In a town where every woman had a "talent", Rome was a Fixer. A cracked screen, a loose wire, a rusty hinge - she Fixed them with very little effort, but when her home life began to crumble and her friendships started to crack under the weight of secrets, she found herself in a situation beyond her Fixing.
I'm supposed to be a Fixer, but it seems like everything I touch lately breaks to pieces.
  • Pro: The central theme of this story was friendship, and what a wonderful one it was. Mercy, Lux, and Rome may have come from very different circumstances, but they enjoyed a life long friendship. They had their ups and downs, but knew their strength was the power they had together. 
  • Pro: The "talents" were such an interesting touch. Though many were mentioned in passing, I enjoyed learning about them all. I found Mercy's to be really interesting, and loved the idea of it. It was great slowly uncovering the origin and the purpose of these talents, as well as how they were both a gift and a curse. These magical elements were woven quite well into a story filled with real problems, and did not detract from those issues. 
  • Pro: Asebedo put together a great supporting cast our trio, and my favorite was Red. That grumpy mechanic won my heart with all the little ways he showed Rome he cared. He stood out as a positive male character in a book riddled with toxic males, and I just adored him. 
  • Pro: The romance was adorable. Jett was so sweet, kind, and generous. His patience with Rome set him in a sort of sainthood category, if you ask me, but it was more of what his friendship allowed Rome to learn about herself that I appreciated. He was part of her catalyst for change, and definitely a really fun part of this story. 
  • Pro: Though the story highlights Mercy, Lux, and Rome, this was Rome's story. It was told from her point of view, and followed her through her struggles. It was difficult for her to see that sharing her burdens and accepting help was not a sign of weakness. She experienced tremendous growth over the course of this story, and it was fantastic seeing so many of the relationships in her life flourish as a result of these changes. 
  • Pro: The diary and the search for the Remington treasure added a little mystery to the story, and I was rather surprised at what they found. It was really touching and drove home a big point Asebedo was trying to make about women supporting women. 
Overall:  A wonderful and intriguing story of friendship made even better with a touch of mystery, romance, and magic. 

** ARCs received in exchange for honest reviews.

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

30 comments:

  1. The book I'm most intrigued by is Ten After Closing. It sounds so interesting/creepy. I've been more into thrillers lately, so I'll add it to my TBR.

    I'm not a fan of Showalter's writing, so I don't think I'll give Oh My Goth a try, but I'm glad it was a hit for you.

    I haven't read many books with magical realism, but I've loved all the ones I have read. I love that Deepest Roots is about friendship and a good one at that!

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    1. Ten After Closing was an interesting mix of a violent hostage situation and family drama. I liked it. I really, really liked The Deepest Roots. There was just something about the whole matriarchal focus, and the friendship between Lux, Rome, and Mercy.

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  2. Once again I haven’t heard of any of these but I’m so going to read Ten After Closing! It sounds like the perfect book for my current mood.

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    1. It was the one most out of my realm, but I liked it. I thought the format was really interesting

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  3. I like the sound of the last one. So nice to have a book focused on strong female relationships!

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    1. Their friendship hit a rough patch, but their love for each other was always there.

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  4. I haven't heard of The Deepest Roots until now. I really like the sound of it and love that touch of magic you mention. I always feel in the mood for these more atmospheric books when fall rolls around.

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    1. The rural setting definitely adds to the mood too

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  5. No, I have not read any of the books, but I have read some from Gena Showalter and she's one of those authors that I would read anything they write, they are that good.
    sherry @ fundinmental

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    1. I read a Showalter series many years ago, Intertwined, and I liked it. This one sounded like fun, and it was. It's kind of interesting, that the story is about getting a second chance, and this was Showalter's second chance to rewrite her first book.

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  6. All three sound good, but I'm really feeling it for The Deepest Roots because of the focus on friendships. Going to have to check that one out!

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    1. I had no idea what to expect from The Deepest Roots, but I really loved it. It was almost perfect for me.

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  7. Wow, Ten After Closing sounds so good! I like that it combines a lot of action/tension with some good character development.

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    1. It was a different sort of read for me. But the hybrid nature made it a good fit nonetheless

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  8. Oh My Goth sounds like a great book & I love the play on words in the title :)

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    1. Not sure how relevant the goth thing is these days, but it was a lot of gun and really sweet too

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  9. I am not familiar with any of these books, thanks for putting them on my radar. I am interested with checking out Ten After Closing because I am into thrillers recently. :)

    Jennilyn @ Rurouni Jenni Reads

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    1. The hostage stuff was quite stressful, but oddly enough, I enjoyed it

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  10. These are such cool plotlines, Sam! Oh my Goth made me laugh out loud, and Ten after Closing is just brilliant!

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    1. Goth was a lot of fun, and it had so many great messages too

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  11. I really like how The Deepest Roots sounds! I'm a sucker for MR!

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    1. MR is probably my favorite after contemporary. I thought the magical elements were interesting, but like the story behind the magic even more

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  12. I might have to look Oh My Goth! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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    1. This is my first "fluffier" read from Showalter, and I enjoyed it. Fun story, sweet message, no complaints.

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  13. I like that a big theme in The Deepest Roots is friendship! And Ten After Closing sounds like a fascinating book.

    -Lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

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    1. The Deepest Roots is all about females supporting females, and I was captivated by the story.

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  14. I haven't read anything by Showlater in years but Oh My Goth sounds cute.

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

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    1. It was really cute, and so different from what I had previously read from her.

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  15. Totally agreed about Ten After Closing! I thought your pros/1 con were spot on. And I'm glad to see The Deepest Roots ended up being such a good read. Wonderful reviews, Sam! :)

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    1. The Deepest Roots really surprised me, and I was glad, because I don't often try non-contemporary books. I really enjoyed Ten After Closing, and it was a bit out of my comfort zone too. It wasn't perfect, but it was definitely worth reading.

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