December 13, 2017

Review: Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills

Collaborative feature with Alexa since Nov 2013. We read ARCs together and post our reviews on the same date.

Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills
pub 12/5/17 by Henry Holt and Co.
Young Adult - Contemporary
Received ARC from pub
Plot • When Claudia awkwardly overhears a very personal conversation between two classmates, the last thing she expects is to get paired up with one of them, aka one of the meanest girls in school, for a paper and a forced try-out for the school's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. What initially seems like a disaster turns out be a experience that leads Claudia to explore new friendships and meeting a very cute boy that likes her for exactly who she is. But it's also about family and the growing pains one feels when it seems like everything is changing.

Characters • Basically, I loved everyone. Every Emma Mills book brings to life such heartwarming characters. Claudia is this genuinely kind human being, who's also flawed and reacting to the changes in her life. I enjoyed her relationships with her siblings, with her best friend, new friend in supposed mean girl Iris and one of the sweetest book boys ever, Gideon. Each of these different relationships go through ups and downs in ways that honest and relatable, which is exactly what I've come to expect from Mills' novels.

Writing • Each new release from Mills continually impresses me! Foolish Hearts is currently my favorite from her but I also said that about the last book. Her writing just speaks to me and there's something to be said about books that leave you with a giant smile on your face afterwards.

Overall feelings • In case you couldn't already tell, I loved it!

Favorite Shakespearean play • My favorite is the Tempest. It's been years since I've read it though so who knows, it maybe time for a reread.

December 11, 2017

Winter Survival Kit

Surprise surprise, Alexa and I came up with another series of posts to collaborate on! Each season, we’ll share a list of our essentials. For Winter and Spring, it’ll be survival kits due to our mutual dislike of cold weather and we’re both plagued by allergies. For Summer and Fall, we haven’t thought of a name yet but I guarantee it’ll be less about survival since those are our two favorite seasons.

But winter you guys. I am not a cold weather person. I don’t like commuting in the snow. I hate that when I leave the office it’s super dark outside. I miss wearing my ballet flats (and sundresses and tees). Clearly, I am just not a fan of winter even though December is my favorite time of the year (only because of Christmas!). So Alexa and I wanted to share the things we absolutely need to get through the wintery months.

Fleece throw blankets | I have one on my couch that was gifted to me and recently bought one for my bed. I love nothing more than to curl up under the blankets after a long day or in the morning when I want to sleep in a little longer.

Hot taro bubble tea | I love taro bubble tea all year round but once the cold weather starts, I crave hot bubble tea constantly. It just hits the spot.

Netflix | When it’s super cold and especially when it’s snowing, the last thing I want to do is go outside. Because of that, having TV shows to binge-watch is a must. I just started The Crown and I’m sure I’ll move onto another show as soon as I finish.

Long open cardigans | I own the three open long cardigans pictured above and they are so perfect for the weekend. I just throw them over jeans or leggings and a simple tee and I still feel put together. But most importantly of all, I feel warm! (Pictured: 1, 2)

Scarves | I own a ridiculous number of scarves. So much so that I had to go all Marie Kondo on my collection and really whittle it down to my favorites. (Pictured: 1, 2)

Uggs | Uggs always get a bad rap but I really like the look of newer styles! The one I have is less bulky, has a slightly tapered toe and a bit of a wedge. It’s pretty much all I wear on the weekends.

Ramen | I can’t think of a better time for ramen than winter. If there was one near my office, I’d probably go at least once a week for lunch.

What would be in your winter survival kit?

Don't forget to check out Alexa's post!

December 8, 2017

FOF Book Club: Air Awakens

For our last quarter's book club, we read Air Awakens by Elise Kova. Here's what I thought!

pub 8/27/15 by Silver Wing Press
Young Adult - Fantasy
With all the books on my TBR and given number of the series I'm currently in the middle of (aka not-so-patiently waiting for the next book), it's hard to find a new series that I'm willing to drop everything for and binge-read through to the end. But that's exactly happened with Air Awakens. I'm only going to talk about the first book but I will say that once I read it, I felt compelled to get the next installment. And the next. And the next and before I knew it, I had read all five books in a single week. (They are extremely fast reads.)

Air Awakens introduces us to seventeen-year old Vhalla Yarl, an intelligent and shy library apprentice with a passion for books and knowledge. When she saves the life of Crown Prince Aldrik of the Solaris Empire, two things happen. She discovers that she's a sorcerer when all her life she's been taught to fear them and the Tower, a safe haven for this magical society. And she gets sucked in Prince Aldrik's world, who just happens to be one of the most powerful sorcerers of them all. In the wake of this discovery, she has to choose between the life she's always known and thereby eradicating her magic or embrace her abilities and open herself to adventures and danger. Given there are five books in this series, it's pretty clear which option she's going to take.

Vhalla is an interesting heroine because she's just a normal girl who loves books and has a crush on a prince (not Aldrik; at least not at first!). Then to find out the enormous power she holds? Her reaction is surprisingly real. I tend to want my heroines to dive into the fray and immediately kick ass but instead, she took a step back and wanted to make a deliberate choice about her future. Even though her timidness and occasional damsel-in-distress moments did grate on my nerves, I appreciated her quiet strength which only continued to grow throughout the book (and especially as the series progressed). She is so brave and has such a big heart. Her character truly goes on a journey and evolved every step of the way. But I also fell in love with the characters around her and the relationships that form between them all. There's an undeniable chemistry between her and Aldrik which I had a lot of feels about. She becomes friends with fellow sorcerers and other people in Aldrik's circle. And most of all, the magic in this world is intriguing and well-written. It's a book that certainly leaves the reader clamoring for more.

Book Club Questions
For every series we read, we'll be answering the same questions at the end of our mini-reviews.

Favorite character | I don't think I can choose one! Vhalla is probably the most obvious but I also love Aldrik, Baldair and Laurel. 
Would you read more from this author? | Given that I ended up reading the whole series, the answer is yes!

For those of you who read the series with us, 
what did you think?

Also, make sure to check out Alexa's thoughts on the series!