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!

December 6, 2017

Review: Love, Life and the List by Kasie West

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

Love, Life and the List by Kasie West
pub 12/26/17 by HarperTeen
Young Adult - Contemporary
Received from pub via Edelweiss
Plot • Abby feels like her summer is falling apart. She has an unrequited crush on her best friend Cooper. Her father is away a lot for work and she's left to deal with her mother's growing anxiety in his absence. Then when she applies for an art show, she's rejected because her work lacks "heart". Instead of letting that stop her, she decides to create a list of ten things to do over the course of one month in order to give her more life experience. She's hoping that in doing so, it'll give her art the edge she needs but this list ends up becoming about much more than that.

Characters •  It's no secret that I love books that involve best friends falling in love and family and this book had both! It was easy to relate to Abby and I admired her willingness to step out of her comfort zone because of her passion for art. Her family is the one actually helps her put together this list and I loved the dynamic she had with her parents and grandfather (this especially!). But most of all, I could see why she had fallen for Cooper and why they were best friends. With every passing scene, I was internally screaming for them to just kiss already.

Writing • Kasie West's books are extremely engaging and easy to read. I've enjoyed pretty much all of them but with each one, there's usually something missing for me. With this, I felt like she really got it. It still had her trademark lightheartedness but with the characters, the relationship and the portrayal of Abby's family, it finally had the depth I'd look for in her previous books.

Overall feelings • Loved it! I'm fairly certain it's my new favorite from her.

What's your favorite friends-to-lovers story? • This shouldn't surprise anyone but my favorite will always be Pacey and Joey.