Bite-Sized Reviews of I Love You So Mochi, Girl Against the Universe, Midsummer’s Mayhem, and Nikki Tesla and the Ferret-Proof Death Ray

June 4, 2019 Reviews 31 ★★★★

I’ve got four reviews for you today: two YA contemporaries, a MG contemporary fantasy, and a MG adventure. I hope these bite-sized reviews will be enough to feed your fiction addiction!


Bite-Sized Reviews of I Love You So Mochi, Girl Against the Universe, Midsummer’s Mayhem, and Nikki Tesla and the Ferret-Proof Death RayI Love You So Mochi by Sarah Kuhn
Published by Scholastic Press on May 28, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 320
Source: Edelweiss
My content rating: YA (Nothing more than kissing)
My rating:
4.5 Stars

Kimi Nakamura loves a good fashion statement. She's obsessed with transforming everyday ephemera into Kimi Originals: bold outfits that make her and her friends feel like the Ultimate versions of themselves. But her mother disapproves, and when they get into an explosive fight, Kimi's entire future seems on the verge of falling apart. So when a surprise letter comes in the mail from Kimi's estranged grandparents, inviting her to Kyoto for spring break, she seizes the opportunity to get away from the disaster of her life.

When she arrives in Japan, she's met with a culture both familiar and completely foreign to her. She loses herself in the city's outdoor markets, art installations, and cherry blossom festival -- and meets Akira, a cute aspiring med student who moonlights as a costumed mochi mascot. And what begins as a trip to escape her problems quickly becomes a way for Kimi to learn more about the mother she left behind, and to figure out where her own heart lies.

In I Love You So Mochi, author Sarah Kuhn has penned a delightfully sweet and irrepressibly funny novel that will make you squee at the cute, cringe at the awkward, and show that sometimes you have to lose yourself in something you love to find your Ultimate self.

add-to-goodreads 

I picked this book up on a whim when I saw two glowing reviews from fellow bloggers (Dani @ Perspective of a Writer and Sam @ We Live and Breathe Books), and I’m so glad I did!

This is the type of book that puts a smile on your face and makes you feel like all is right with the universe. The book is set (mostly) in Kyoto, Japan, and Kuhn does a fabulous job of making us feel like we’re right there with Kimi. There are so many cultural details that ground us in a sense of setting, and it’s easy to understand Kimi’s mixed feelings of blending in and standing out in a country that provided her heritage and many aspects of her culture, but still isn’t quite home.

I enjoyed every aspect of this book: Kimi getting to know her estranged grandparents (love, love, LOVE her grandparents), her complicated relationship with her mom, her exploration of Japan, and the adorable romance between her and Akira. Akira makes it his mission to help Kimi find where her passion in life truly lies, and their adventures together are incredibly sweet and swoony. It’s pretty obvious from the beginning what Kimi’s true calling is in life, and there are some moments when you wonder how she doesn’t see it, but her journey of self-discovery is so relatable that it’s easy to let that detail go. Overall, this book was a huge win for me, and I will definitely be reading more of Sarah Kuhn’s books in the future!

***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***


Bite-Sized Reviews of I Love You So Mochi, Girl Against the Universe, Midsummer’s Mayhem, and Nikki Tesla and the Ferret-Proof Death RayGirl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes
Published by HarperTeen on May 17, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 382
Source: Purchased
My content rating: YA (Nothing more than kissing, Themes of death)
My rating:
5 Stars

Maguire is bad luck.

No matter how many charms she buys off the internet or good luck rituals she performs each morning, horrible things happen when Maguire is around. Like that time the roller coaster jumped off its tracks. Or the time the house next door caught on fire. Or that time her brother, father, and uncle were all killed in a car crash—and Maguire walked away with barely a scratch.

It’s safest for Maguire to hide out in her room, where she can cause less damage and avoid new people who she could hurt. But then she meets Jordy, an aspiring tennis star. Jordy is confident, talented, and lucky, and he’s convinced he can help Maguire break her unlucky streak. Maguire knows that the best thing she can do for Jordy is to stay away. But it turns out staying away may be harder than she thought.

add-to-goodreads 

I finally read a Paula Stokes novel!! (I wrote a whole post about my love for some authors I’d never even read, and Paula Stokes topped that list.) And, yes, this book lived up to my crazily high expectations!

I zipped through this book in two sittings—that’s how much I loved it. And then I immediately handed it to my daughter to read because I just know that she’ll love it too. The story follows Maguire on her journey to conquer her fears. She suffers from PTSD because of an accident that killed her father, brother and uncle (she was the only one in the car to survive) and a later roller coaster accident that left her friends injured while she was unscathed. Because of these incidents, she feels like she’s cursed—like her mere presence puts those around her in danger. She keeps herself aloof as much as possible and she develops a series of rituals that she hopes will counteract her bad luck. I think the thing that makes this book SO engaging is the fact that you can completely understand the way that Maguire feels. After all, she really has suffered from some terrifically bad luck. If I were in her shoes, I’m fairly certain I would feel the same—I would suddenly start to see danger everywhere. I mean, how could you not. And, as a reader, you spend the whole book, waiting for something bad to happen because … well, because bad things happen to everyone and you just know that whatever it is, Maguire will blame herself.

The romance in this book is perfect—I loved that Jordy was a support system for Maguire, but he wasn’t a solution to her mental illness issues. This is not a case of love cures all. He helped her work through her fears (and, sure a cute boy did give her a little extra incentive to put herself out there), but all the work was hers. It was also great that parts of the therapy sessions were included in the book—it’s nice to see therapy portrayed positively. And the ending was all sorts of perfect! I ended up LOVING Paula Stokes’ writing just as much as I’d hoped I would. Now I just need to read the rest of her books!!


Bite-Sized Reviews of I Love You So Mochi, Girl Against the Universe, Midsummer’s Mayhem, and Nikki Tesla and the Ferret-Proof Death RayMidsummer's Mayhem by Rajani LaRocca
Illustrator: Rachel Suggs
Published by Yellow Jacket on June 11, 2019
Genres: Middle Grade, Contemporary Fantasy, Retellings
Pages: 352
Source: The Author
My content rating: MG (No romance or violence)
My rating:
4.5 Stars

Can Mimi undo the mayhem caused by her baking in this contemporary-fantasy retelling of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream?

Eleven-year-old Mimi Mackson comes from a big Indian American family: Dad's a renowned food writer, Mom's a successful businesswoman, and her three older siblings all have their own respective accomplishments. It's easy to feel invisible in such an impressive family, but Mimi's dream of proving she's not the least-talented member of her family seems possible when she discovers a contest at the new bakery in town. Plus, it'll start her on the path to becoming a celebrity chef like her culinary idol, Puffy Fay.

But when Mimi's dad returns from a business trip, he's mysteriously lost his highly honed sense of taste. Without his help, Mimi will never be able to bake something impressive enough to propel her to gastronomic fame.

Drawn into the woods behind her house by a strangely familiar song, Mimi meets Vik, a boy who brings her to parts of the forest she's never seen. Who knew there were banyan trees and wild boars in Massachusetts? Together they discover exotic ingredients and bake them into delectable and enchanting treats.

But as her dad acts stranger every day, and her siblings' romantic entanglements cause trouble in their town, Mimi begins to wonder whether the ingredients she and Vik found are somehow the cause of it all. She needs to use her skills, deductive and epicurean, to uncover what's happened. In the process, she learns that in life, as in baking, not everything is sweet. . . .

add-to-goodreads 

This book is a retelling of A Midsummer Night’s Dream with a foodie twist! There are so many ingredients in this story that will appeal to a wide audience: a baking competition, fairies, sibling rivalry, love enchantments gone wrong, themes of growing up and fitting in—the book has all these and more. Mimi has always wished she had a way to stand out in her family of talented (and outgoing) siblings; her brother’s an actor, her oldest sister’s a dancer, and her other sister is a soccer star. Mimi’s just Mimi. So when she has a chance to enter a baking competition, she sees this as her chance to really shine! Only problem is, things start to go wrong. First her food critic father turns into a ravenous beast who seems to have no taste discernment whatsoever—and Mimi had been counting on him for help in the competition! Then her sisters end up in an all-out battle over two boys who very suddenly seem to both fall head-over-heels in love with one of them. Even with the support of her mysterious new friend Vik, it’s hard for Mimi to believe that she has what it takes to truly make a name for herself and bake her way to success.

There’s a lot here for kids to love: Cooking competition shows are so popular now (my daughter loves them)–and this book doesn’t skimp on the descriptions of Mimi’s fancy, mouthwatering recipes. Plus, kids will get a kick out of the boys’ antics as they try to win Mimi’s sister’s affections—they make fools of themselves in some pretty adorable ways. And most every kid will be able to relate to Mimi’s struggles to fit in and find her place in the world.

A delectable read that will have you reaching for the nearest cookbook (or maybe heading for the nearest bakery)!

***Disclosure: I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***


Bite-Sized Reviews of I Love You So Mochi, Girl Against the Universe, Midsummer’s Mayhem, and Nikki Tesla and the Ferret-Proof Death RayNikki Tesla and the Ferret-Proof Death Ray by Jess Keating
Illustrator: Lissy Marlin
Series: Elements of Genius #1
Published by Scholastic Press on July 9, 2019
Genres: Middle Grade, Action & Adventure
Pages: 288
Source: Edelweiss
My content rating: MG (Some MG-level violence)
My rating:
4 Stars

"Let the official record show that, I, Nikki Tesla, did not intend to destroy the world."

There are only so many times a kid can invent an instrument of global destruction without getting grounded. So when Nikki's death ray accidentally blows up her bedroom (if you can call a pet ferret with an itchy trigger finger an accident), she's sent to the only place that can handle her. Genius Academy is a school for history's greatest brains. Leo da Vinci? Charlotte Darwin? Bert Einstein? All extraordinary. Yet even among her fellow prodigies, Nikki feels like an outsider thanks to a terrible secret she can't let anyone discover. Ever.

But when her death ray is stolen, Nikki must stop worrying about fitting in and learn to play nice with her new classmates. Because it doesn't take a genius to track a thief around the world, outwit the authorities, and keep a French fry fanatic ferret happy. It takes all of them.

add-to-goodreads 

An action-packed story filled with spy gadgets and international escapades! Nikki Tesla is a genius—in fact, she’s a little too smart for her own good. When her pet ferret sidekick and the death ray Nikki invented land her in trouble, she has no choice but to attend Genius Academy—the people who run it insist that they can protect the world from possible disastrous results from her inventions. Plus, she’ll meet other kids just like her! Not that Nikki’s all that interested in making friends. But when she gets to the academy, she finds that she has to rely on this new group of comrades (all based on historical figures) to outwit a thief who could use her invention for his own nefarious purposes. Unfortunately, she has trouble letting people in, and she’s afraid that if she tells her new friends the whole truth about her shady family background, they’ll see her as a threat instead of an ally. Nikki has to learn to trust and to rely on teamwork—a tall order for a girl who’s always felt alone.

Kids will be entertained by Nikki’s madcap adventures and they just might learn a little along the way!

***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***


That’s it for now! Have you read any of these? What did you think?

31 Responses to “Bite-Sized Reviews of I Love You So Mochi, Girl Against the Universe, Midsummer’s Mayhem, and Nikki Tesla and the Ferret-Proof Death Ray”

  1. Dani @ Perspective of a Writer

    Girl Against the Universe sounds quite good Nicole! It does sound really relatable. I’m so glad you loved I Love you So Mochi too! ❤️ I loved her grandparents so much!! I really almost didn’t understand her mom’s estrangement from them. Just go talk to them already!

  2. Sam@wlabb

    You can’t see it, but I am doing a happy dance. I am so glad you enjoyed I Love You So Mochi. There were just too many things I adore in one place in that book, and they were done well. I have GATU, and need to make some time for it, because Paula Stokes always delivers a good reading experience for me.

  3. Malka @ Paper Procrastinators

    I really want to read I Love You So Mochi! I’ve heard that it’s really cute, and I just think that the title is super clever. The Nikki Tesla book made me laugh when I was reading all the character’s names. I loved those kinds of historically inspired books when I was younger though! It sounds really cute!

    Malka @ Paper Procrastinators recently posted: Why I Care About Stats
  4. Marie @ Drizzle & Hurricane Books

    Ahh what a wonderful bunch of reviews, Nicole! I really want to read I Love You So Mochi, it sounds adorable and I love the Japan setting too, excited to get away with this book for sure 🙂
    I LOVE Girl Against The Universe ahhh I’m so happy you had such a great time with it, even going in with high expectations 😀

  5. Wendy @ Falconer's Library

    I think it’s awesome that you’ve loved Stokes long before you ever read any of her works. I’m kind of biased on her behalf because she’s local, and then even more because she sent me a bunch of her books for my classroom. So kind.

    Wendy @ Falconer's Library recently posted: May in Review
  6. Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight

    I Love You So Mochi sounds (and looks!) adorable! I have heard nothing but good things about it too, I think I need to put it on my list! And Girl Against the Universe is one I have and one I NEED to read because I have enjoyed every single Paula Stokes book I have read so what is my problem!? The other two I think my daughter would enjoy- and I especially want Midsummer’s Mayhem because come on, look at the cover! Fabulous reviews!!

    Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight recently posted: Reviews in a Minute: My Only June Review Books
  7. Olivia Roach

    So happy you were able to enjoy I Love You So Mochi! I love that it is set in Japan and the complex relationship between her and her mother sounds like it was handled so well. I really liked Paula Stokes’ book Liars Inc and have got Girl Against the Universe waiting for me on my kindle. Now I am all the more excited to read it!

    Olivia Roach recently posted: American Fairytale [Book Review]

Leave a Reply

(Enter your URL then click here to include a link to one of your blog posts.)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.