Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Blog Tour and Giveaway: Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao

Welcome to the blog tour for Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao! This is a reimagining story of The Evil Queen, set in an East Asian world. You do not want to miss this dark and intense debut. Check out some of my favorite quotes below!

About the Book:

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao
Book One of the Rise of the Empress series
Publisher: Philomel Books
Publication Date: October 10, 2017

Summary (from Goodreads):

An East Asian fantasy reimagining of The Evil Queen legend about one peasant girl's quest to become Empress--and the darkness she must unleash to achieve her destiny.

Eighteen-year-old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her. Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng's majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high?

Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins--sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute.

About the Author:

Julie C. Dao (www.juliedao.com) is a proud Vietnamese-American who was born in upstate New York. She studied medicine in college, but came to realize blood and needles were her Kryptonite. By day, she worked in science news and research; by night, she wrote books about heroines unafraid to fight for their dreams, which inspired her to follow her passion of becoming a published author. Forest of a Thousand Lanterns is her debut novel. Julie lives in New England. Follow her on Twitter @jules_writes. 

My Favorite Quotes:

"For one breathtaking moment, she thought she could see her own face and that of Guma in the waters of the pond, side by side among the stars. But when she blinked, the images vanished, leaving nothing but a mirror of the sky."

- ARC, page 78

"Isn't it better to give up a fraction of your freedom to gain tenfold in happiness, even for a short time?"

- ARC, page 116

"She would wrap her coils around him in tender confinement and be not his captive, but his captor."

- ARC, page 128

"She would bloom where she was planted and let her roots close around the throats of her enemies."

- ARC, page 229

"She closed her eyes and saw vivid images behind her lids: scented spirals of incense; a pool of silent, heartless women; a card depicting a girl in disguise, her foot hovering over the edge of a cliff. And lanterns, one thousand lanterns blazing in the forest, just out of reach."

- ARC, page 289

"She knew her own worth. She would seize her destiny with all the strength and spirit within her, and bend them all to her will: every man kneeling and every woman overshadowed."

- ARC, page 309 

"She was a monster, a bride of the darkness, and she rose to face her destiny as thought it were the blood-red sunrise of a new day."

- ARC, page 329

The Giveaway:

Enter for a chance to be one (1) of three (3) winners to receive a hardcover copy of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie Dao. (ARV: $18.99 each).

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on October 2, 2017 and 12:00 AM on October 27, 2017.  Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about October 30, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

Follow the Tour:

Week One:
October 2 – Alexa Loves Books – Author Guest Post | Inspiration Behind FOATL
October 3 – No BS Book Reviews – Review
October 4 – The Young Folks – 10 Reasons to Read FOATL
October 5 – Chasing Faerytales – Author Guest Post | On Villains & Backstories: What Makes Them So Interesting?
October 6 – Arctic Books – Favorite Villains & Anti-Heroes

Week Two:
October 9 – NovelKnight – Review
October 10 – The Book’s Buzz – Author Q&A
October 11 – Across the Words – Author Q&A
October 12 – What Sarah Read – FOATL Mood Board
October 13 – One Way or an Author – Tour of the World of FOATL

Week Three:
October 16 – MrsLeif's Two Fangs About It Book Reviews – Review
October 17 – Twirling Pages – Author Guest Post | Julie’s Writing Starter Pack (aka items that got her through writing FOREST)
October 18 – Mundie Moms – Review
October 19 – Book Nerd Addicts – Author Q&A
October 20 – Little Lillie Reads – Review & Playlist

Week Four:
October 23 – Tales of the Ravenous Reader – Author Guest Post | Julie’s Dream Cast 
October 24 – The Eater of Books! – Favorite FOATL Quotes
October 25 – A Page With a View – Author Q&A
October 26 – A Perfection Called Books – Review & Mood Board
October 27 – Xpresso Reads – Author Guest Post | Talk about anything fun/bizarre she discovered while writing the book.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Review: The Chaos of Standing Still by Jessica Brody

The Chaos of Standing Still by Jessica Brody
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: November 28, 2017
Rating: 3 stars
Source: eARC from Edelweiss

Summary (from Goodreads):

Over the course of one chaotic night stranded at the Denver airport, Ryn confronts her shattered past thanks to the charm of romance, the uniqueness of strangers, and the magic of ordinary places in this stunning novel from the author of Boys of Summer.

Ryn has one unread text message on her phone. And it’s been there for almost a year.

She hasn’t tried to read it. She can’t. She won’t. Because that one message is the last thing her best friend ever said to her before she died.

But as Ryn finds herself trapped in the Denver International Airport on New Year’s Eve thanks to a never-ending blizzard on the one-year anniversary of her best friend’s death, fate literally runs into her.

And his name is Xander.

When the two accidentally swap phones, Ryn and Xander are thrust into the chaos of an unforgettable all-night adventure, filled with charming and mysterious strangers, a secret New Year’s Eve bash, and a possible Illuminati conspiracy hidden within the Denver airport. But as the bizarre night continues, all Ryn can think about is that one unread text message. It follows her wherever she goes, because Ryn can’t get her brialliantly wild and free-spirited best friend out of her head.

Ryn can’t move on.

But tonight, for the first time ever, she’s trying. And maybe that’s a start.

As moving as it is funny, The Chaos of Standing Still is a heartwarming story about the earth-shattering challenges life throws at us—and the unexpected strangers who help us along the way.

What I Liked:

The Chaos of Standing Still is a story about grief, loss, and hope, and it all starts with a blizzard in Denver. Usually I'm not one for YA contemporary, especially tough-issue YA contemporary, but I've enjoyed Jessica Brody's books in the past. I didn't hesitate to request this novel when I saw it on Edelweiss, because I had been fairly confident that I would enjoy the book. Sadly, that wasn't the case. While The Chaos of Standing Still is thought-provoking and hopeful, it is also messy and unorganized - unlike its heroine. I almost feel bad for not loving this book, because it is clearly supposed to be a powerful, moving novel. But it wasn't for me.

Ryn is heading home to San Francisco, and she has a layover in Denver. The kicker? A huge blizzard is currently dumping a ton of snow on Denver, and there will be no flights coming in or going out of Denver. This is the worst possible scenario for Ryn, who needs to be home for New Year's the next day. She's traveling alone, back to her mother, and no one in the airport knows how badly she needs to be home. No one knows that her best friend died on New Year's Day nearly a year ago. No one knows that Ryn hasn't grieved yet, and she's hearing Lottie's voice in her head. A night in the airport is going to be torture. But Ryn makes an unexpected friend when she runs straight into a cute guy who had the same phone case as her. She doesn't expect him to be so sweet and thoughtful and understanding. She doesn't expect to let down her guard with him. She doesn't expect to finally come to terms with Lottie's death - but it is this that is so hard to understand. Ryn doesn't realize just how much she needed someone, to help her move past Lottie's death.

Theoretically, I should have enjoyed this book. Even though I'm not a YA contemporary fan, and definitely not a tough-issue YA contemporary fan, I tend to like books dealing with a hero and heroine stuck together. And I did really like the setting. The airport is a great setting, especially since all flights throughout the entire airport were grounded for the night. No way in, no way out, not even for the employees. It was a long evening and night, but everyone made the most of it.

The setting, I liked. I also adored Xander - he is a sweetheart. He is fun and charming, filled with energy and good humor. He is Ryn's "manic pixie girl" except he is a guy. She is a mopey sad girl, but when she meets him, he makes her do all sorts of fun things with him around the airport, and suddenly, she isn't feeling so mopey anymore. Xander is a good guy with good intentions and a good heart - and quick frankly, he deserved someone better than Ryn. 

I didn't really like Ryn. More on her below. And the story. And the ending. 

What I Did Not Like:

I really wasn't able to connect with Ryn, which make me feel bad, because it didn't feel fair to dislike someone who was clearly repressing grief. Ryn is not a happy person, and not a nice one at times. She never really grieved for Lottie, and it has been a year. She makes things so hard for her therapist, like not volunteering anything to talk about. She lies about so many things, even though she is a terrible liar. Ryn hasn't been coping well, and this has been affecting more people than just herself. It was hard for me to like Ryn because she wasn't very nice to people, especially Xander. She was flat-out rude to him on their first encounter, and she didn't try to be nice to him after that. It was only about halfway into the book when she started to treat him like a human being, but by then, she started to act a little crazy (her words, not mine). Granted, she owned the fact that she was acting crazy (again, her words, not mine), but she was getting bent out of shape with Xander and other people who were trying to help her. 

I feel bad for disliking someone who went through a traumatic experience, but the traumatic experience and survivor's guilt aren't free passes to be a complete a** to anyone. Not to your parents. Not to your therapist. Not to strangers who are trying to help you. 

I didn't care for Lottie, which I probably shouldn't say since she is dead. She was fun and inhibited and caused all kinds of trouble - #richpeopleproblems. She had so much time and money and freedom on her hands, with little to no parental supervision. Lottie had no filters, no barriers, no rules, which made her a fun friend, but a dangerous one too, especially for someone like Ryn (a non-rule-breaker, a good girl, a straight-laced citizen).

There was too much going on in this story. Ryn and all of her grief and shenanigans was enough. But there was too much going on with the airport too. The crazy storm, okay. The grounded flights, okay. The weird prodigious 14-year-old who was working on his Master's degree and trying to chase down a conspiracy theory in the airport? Random, unnecessary subplot. The bingo game that was probably supposed to be fun but seemed stupid? Random. Ryn making friends with the employees of an airport restaurant? I find it hard to believe in real life. Some stranger giving Ryn his VIP Million Mile-High Club card? Not plausible at all. There was so much random and unnecessary parts to this book that made it so busy and messy. The grief/loss aspect paired with the storm and having to stay overnight at the airport was enough.

The romance was so pitiful. This book would have benefited by having no romance at all. Ryn pushed away Xander at every turn, even right down to the second she wanted him to kiss her and he wanted to kiss her/her to kiss him. She literally turned her cheek. Again, I understand the fact that she isn't grieving well and she's messed up in the head with hearing Lottie's voice and blah blah blah, but she wasn't very nice to Xander. And then there is the fact that they weren't even going to board the same flight - he was going to Miami, she was going to San Francisco. I'd rather not read romances that have an expiration date, like this one. The romance was so lackluster and not-there, but of course it was there. And the thing is, this book takes place in the span of about twenty-four hours. This isn't enough time for a solid friendship to blossom, let alone a romance.

The ending is exactly what you would expect, in terms of the romance. In terms of Ryn... it's amazing how, after less than twenty-four hours, she has come to terms with many things (like Lottie's death, that one unread text message left by Lottie, all of Ryn's lies to everyone). Kind of a miraculous turnaround, don't you think? I was a little skeptical.

Would I Recommend It:

I feel like there are better books dealing with grief and loss out there. I can't think of any off the top of my head because I typically don't read these types of books, but I'm sure there are better ones. The thing is, I didn't find this book funny, or moving, or heartwarming, or any of those adjectives in the synopsis of this book. Instead I was a little annoyed as I was reading, and even when I wasn't annoyed, I wasn't super excited or in love either. This book was okay and not absolutely terrible, but it really isn't worth the time either.


3 stars. I didn't really love Brody's previous two books and I didn't love this one so I think it's time to break up with this author's books. I did love 52 Reason to Hate My Father, but I feel like I haven't truly loved another one of her books since that one. Liked, yes, but mostly I've felt kind of ehhh towards her books. Like this one - I could see it having potential, being pretty good, but maybe not for me. I didn't connect with the heroine and that was the downfall there (for me).

Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Review: Once Upon a Maiden Lane by Elizabeth Hoyt

Once Upon a Maiden Lane by Elizabeth Hoyt
Book 12.5 of the Maiden Lane series
Publisher: Forever
Publication Date: November 14, 2017
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley

Summary (from Goodreads):

Miss Mary Whitsun is far too intelligent to fall for the rakish charms of a handsome aristocrat. But when the gentleman in question approaches her in a bookshop, mistaking her for his fiancĂ©e, Lady Johanna Albright, the flirtatious encounter only raises more questions. Could Mary, a servant raised in a St Giles orphanage, actually be Lady Joanna's long-lost twin sister? If so, Mary has been betrothed since birth—to the rakishly handsome artistocrat himself.

Henry Collins, Viscount Blackwell, is far too intrigued by Mary to let her go so easily. He's drawn to her sharp mind, indomitable spirit, and the fiery way in which she dismisses him—ladies simply don't dismiss Lord Blackwell. But as Mary makes her first hesitant steps into society, she can't help but wonder if she truly has a place in Henry's world—or in his heart.

What I Liked:

If you've been following my blog for any amount of time, you'll know that I absolutely adore this series. I have yet to not dislike a book in the series. This series wasn't originally planned to be twelve novels long (with a few novellas), and so every time I saw a new addition, I couldn't wait to read it. Sadly, this is the final installment in the series, which is a little heartbreaking. But it is an adorable and very sweet story that wraps up the series perfectly. 

This novella takes us back to where it all begin - at least, back to a character who has been in the series from the start. Mary Whitsun is the beloved "Mary" of Temperance, who is now Lady Caire. Temperance is the heroine of Wicked Intentions, book one. She and her brother Winter ran an orphanage in St. Giles, and Mary Whitsun was one of the first girls to arrive. She had been at the orphanage for the longest, and she came with Lord and Lady Caire when they married. After years in the orphanage and years as the Caire children's nursemaid, life is about to change drastically for Mary Whitsun, when someone mistakes her to be Lady Joanna Albright.

The story begins with Mary in a bookstore, sensing someone watching her. Lord Henry Blackwell comes up to her and mistakes her for Lady Joanna, his fiancee. But he quickly realizes that while she looks like Lady Joanna, she isn't. The next day, Lord Blackwell arrives at the Caire residence with Lady Albright (the mother), and the grandmother. And thus, Mary is whisked into the life of Lady Cecilia Albright, the long-lost twin of Lady Joanna. She is to have lessons on comportment and dancing and all things nobility, and she is to be the one to marry Henry (since he was promised the eldest Albright sister). But a life among gentry isn't what Mary ever dreamed of - or wanted. Even if she has begun to fall for Henry, the dashing lord who she misjudged.

I always thought Mary Whitsun would end up with one of the other orphan boys, but I'm glad to be wrong. Mary is fiery and prickly, and she immediately dislikes Henry, even if she is also immediately attracted to him. She loves her independence and doesn't want to be a lady, even if she doesn't really mind not being the Caire children's nursemaid anymore. Mary has worked hard her entire life, but nothing is like working to be the perfect gently bred lady.

Lord Henry Blackwell is charming, sweet, and a little roguish. He seems playful and charismatic, every inch the aristocratic gentleman. Mary doesn't see this at first, but he is deeply devoted to his family and his family's title, and he is selfless about nearly everything. As Mary gets to know him better, she sees his selfless and noble side. 

I love this romance because it is hate-to-love, which I adore! Mary doesn't like Henry on the spot at first, and she lets her prickly side show. Henry thinks she is hilarious, and he likes her from the start. The two of them have great chemistry and the tension builds between them, even when Mary thinks she doesn't want an aristocrat like Henry. They are a great match and they understand each other. It was so adorable to watch them fall for each other. The romance was sweet and so lovely!

The conflict of this novella mainly deals with Mary Whitsun being the long-lost Albright twin, who disappeared the day she was born. Is Mary the missing twin? And who is trying to kill her, just days after Henry discovers her? The book does not end as you think it might, for both Mary and Henry.

I loooove the ending of this novella, because it ties in literally EVERYONE from the original trilogy in this series. Meaning, most of the Makepeace family, and the Reading family, but we also see the Huntington family and extensions (like Bridget and Val). I can't remember if we see Silence and Michael. We see many members of the Wakefield family (like Phoebe and James), though I'm drawing a blank if we see Artemis and Maximus. I so wanted a cameo from them because of their little bundle of job that was hinted at, in one of Hoyt's holiday check-in extras. In any case, the ending of this book is perfect because everyone is a part of it. This made me so happy and a little sad too. Everyone is all grown up! These aren't even "my" book children and yet I'm so proud and happy. I can't even imagine how Hoyt feels!

What I Did Not Like:

I don't like that this series is officially over with this novella, okay? *cries*

Would I Recommend It:

I don't usually read novellas because they're so short and I often want them to be longer. But this novella was perfect in length of density - the story felt complete full. I definitely recommend the novella because it really makes the series feel final. I really recommend the entire series if you love historical romance. 


4 stars. I appreciate Hoyt for writing this novella, and the other novellas of the series, and the series in general. I am so sad to see the series go and I'm feeling nostalgic already, but I can't wait to read whatever new projects she has in the works. I thought her contemporary was just as good! (I've read Once and Always and loved it. Ah!)

Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

Cover Reveal: Follow by Tessa Bailey

Hellooooo friends! Happy Sunday! Today I'm sharing the cover of Follow by Tessa Bailey, which was revealed on Friday. This is Tessa Bailey's first self-published novel, so please share the love! 

Get ready for Follow on October 30th! Let's give Tessa Bailey a warm welcome into self-publishing. But first, check out the cover!

(I LOVE IT. So much.)

Here it is!

Follow by Tessa Bailey
Publication Date: October 30, 2017

Official Summary:

He wants her soul. Too bad she already sold it. 

Family is everything to gambling den darling, Teresa Valentini. Blood comes first, especially before men. So when her brother lands himself in hot water, she’s willing to do whatever it takes to save him. And showing up topless in her unwitting savior’s motel room is turning out to be the furthest thing from a hardship…

Will Caruso is the bad boy of New York’s financial scene…and he just found out the very thing that drives his success is a damn lie. Now, he’s exchanged his high-stress life for the open road, no one but his Great Dane…and half a million Instagram followers to keep him company. When a mysterious beauty arrives, her secrecy prods his suspicions, even while she tempts his lust to the breaking point.

Teresa met Will under false pretenses, but the bond consuming them is real. They’re strong enough to overcome a little betrayal…aren’t they?

About the Author:

Tessa Bailey is originally from Carlsbad, California. The day after high school graduation, she packed her yearbook, ripped jeans and laptop, driving cross-country to New York City in under four days. Her most valuable life experiences were learned thereafter while waitressing at K-Dees, a Manhattan pub owned by her uncle. Inside those four walls, she met her husband, best friend and discovered the magic of classic rock, managing to put herself through Kingsborough Community College and the English program at Pace University at the same time. Several stunted attempts to enter the work force as a journalist followed, but romance writing continued to demand her attention. She now lives in Long Island, New York with her husband of eight years and four-year-old daughter. Although she is severely sleep-deprived, she is incredibly happy to be living her dream of writing about people falling in love. 

The Excerpt:

“Here we are.” 

My face heats over being caught even imagining such things. We’re at my door and I have no recollection of entering the motel. Come on, Teresa. Stop letting this guy get to you so bad. “Right.” I fish for the key card in my pocket, but cease all movement when Will brushes his fingertips down my arm, then trails them back up. Slow. And all the while, he invades my space, eliminating inches at such a leisurely pace that I’m panting by the time our mouths are a breath apart. 

“What are you going to do when I close this door behind you, Teresa?” He grazes my bottom lip with his teeth, making me gasp. “You going to get undressed in front of the air conditioner, thinking it might cool you down after teasing my cock for over an hour in the bar? It won’t. I give you five minutes before you’re face down in bed, riding your own fingers.”
My knees threaten to buckle. “That’s my business.”

“Make it mine.”

Mayday. Mayday. “Will—”

He stops my admonishment with a drugging kiss, his tongue stroking in and out of my mouth. His hands grip my elbows, lifting me up on my toes in desperate degrees, meshing our bodies, our lips, until I’m moaning, letting him have rough intercourse with my mouth. Just when I’m on the verge of giving in and begging him to take me up against the door, he steps back, eyes glittering, wiping away the moisture on his mouth with a wrist swipe. “I’ll be out on the balcony. If you’re going to finger yourself in my honor, I want to listen.” 

Don't forget to buy this book on October 30th! There will be no preorder options so please, support Tessa Bailey on that day. I'll be reading the book very soon, if you'd like to read my review to decide if this is a book for you. Chances are, if you love Tessa Bailey's previous books, it will be!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Stacking the Shelves (#252)

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews, in which bloggers share the books and swag they've received in the past week!

So, what did I get in the week of Sunday, October 15th to Saturday, October 21st?

(all links to Goodreads are provided!)

In the mail:

Thank you so much, publishers and publicists! Including Harper Voyager, Tor, Random House/Get Underlined, Rachel Caine, Sarah, Simon Teen, and Danielle. You all are the best!

Duke of Sin topper

I love it! Thank you, Rachel

Mara Dyer/Noah Shaw poster, An Ember in the Ashes sampler, The Speaker bookmark

Thank you, Raisa! I especially love the poster. Great timing, too!

From NetGalley:

Bad Princess

Bad Princess by Julianna Keyes

YAY, new Julianna Keyes book! It sounds very different from her usual, and I'm excited. :D

Make Me Want

Make Me Want by Katee Robert

Thank you, Harlequin! I love Katee's books and can't wait to start this one.

From Edelweiss:

Disturbing His Peace (The Academy, #3)

Disturbing His Peace by Tessa Bailey

I love Tessa Bailey's books and I'm happy to have books two and three in this series. Now, to read them!

Reviews from this week:

(Click on the covers to go to my reviews!)

Favorite Instagram post from this week:

A busy week on my end (as usual, it seems)! The week flew by. Can you believe it's almost Halloween? I pulled out a ton of Christmas/holiday decorations on Friday night, to decorate my cubicle at work! I love this time of year. Decorating will be sometime in November, but I'm excited!

Friday, October 20, 2017

Review: Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills

Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Publication Date: December 5, 2017
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):

A contemporary novel about a girl whose high school production of A Midsummer Night's Dream leads her to new friends—and maybe even new love.

The day of the last party of the summer, Claudia overhears a conversation she wasn't supposed to. Now on the wrong side of one of the meanest girls in school, Claudia doesn't know what to expect when the two are paired up to write a paper—let alone when they're both forced to try out for the school production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

But mandatory participation has its upsides—namely, an unexpected friendship, a boy band obsession, and a guy with the best dimpled smile Claudia's ever seen. As Claudia's world starts to expand, she finds that maybe there are some things worth sticking her neck out for.

What I Liked:

YA contemporary really isn't my thing, but I've read all of Emma Mills' books and I've enjoyed them. I read First & Then and This Adventure Ends and both books were so wonderful. Foolish Hearts certainly does not disappoint. With Mills's trademark humor and relatable characters and situations, Foolish Hearts solidifies this author's place as a queen of YA contemporary

Claudia likes things the way they are, with her life at her prep school, her best friend in the local public school, her brother taking community college classes, her sister living in another state with her husband. Life seems to be just fine, and Claudia doesn't really care for change, so this works for her. But things start to fall out of place the day Claudia overhears Paige Breckner break up with Iris Huang. These two made up the school's power couple, so when Paige breaks up with Iris, Iris doesn't want anyone to know what went down. Iris isn't exactly nice, and most people are afraid of her. When Claudia and Iris are forced to be partners for a Lit assignment, Claudia realizes that Iris isn't all bad. They try out for the school play, where Claudia makes friends with Gideon, a goofy and charismatic boy at the neighboring all-boys prep school, a guy who everyone likes and likes everyone. Life is changing for Claudia, and she realizes that it isn't all bad.

I knew I was going to read this book without even reading the synopsis. I'm not a huge fan of YA contemporary but at this point, I trust Emma Mills. So when I finally read the synopsis (last night), and then started reading the book, I started to feel a little apprehensive. Did I want to read a book dealing with girl drama? Not really. With Iris being furious at Claudia for overhearing the breakup, I figured this book would be rife with girl drama. But thankfully, that wasn't the case!

The book starts with that (Paige and Iris's breakup), but that isn't the whole point of the book, or the big issue, or anything like that. Iris and Claudia slowly become friends, after they are forced to be partners for a Lit assignment. This is a hilarious slow-burn friendship, because Iris is so stiff and unapproachable, and she doesn't like anybody. Which is fair, because most people don't like her. But Mills is so good at character development - Iris isn't a one-dimensional mean girl. In fact, as the story goes on, I realized that Iris isn't a mean girl at all. She isn't great with emotions and hashing things out, but she is a person I could empathize with. As she and Claudia hang out more, they develop a solid friendship.

Claudia is somewhat of a go-with-the-flow type of person, but she also hates change. She has a great sense of humor laced with a lot of sarcasm, and I thought she was hilarious. She might seem a little bland at first, but it's hard not to adore her as you get to know her. I could relate to her a lot. I loved how she honest and straightforward she was.

There are many positive friendships in this book, besides Claudia and Iris's friendship. Claudia has always been best friends with Zoe, since preschool. Though they go to different schools, they have remained very close friends. They go through a lot in this book, some pretty big obstacles, but their friendship comes out strong in spite of everything. I also liked Claudia good relationship with her parents (who are not crazy YA parents or absent YA parents).

One of the things that I loved about this book was how family dynamics were such an important part of it. Claudia's parents are so cool and "normal" - they aren't crazy or absent or too lenient. Claudia and her brother Alex are close, especially being one year apart. Claudia's older sister Julia is eleven years older and living three hours away, but Claudia and her sister have a good relationship. Julia is pregnant and she isn't super excited about it. She's scared and unsure. I loved this; everyone acts like a newly pregnant woman is supposed to be excited and happy and whatnot - and it's a crime if you're not. I disagree. It should be socially "okay" for a woman to be scared or a little less enthusiastic. Julia doesn't think she can do the mom thing, and this is a legitimate thing to worry about. Being a mom is a huge step and totally new to a first-time mom. I love how this is something that is addressed in this book. Being a mother isn't a box to check off on a to-do list. 

Secondary characters who were wholly developed, wonderful, and a delight to read -- Gideon (the sweet, goofy, charismatic boy who is loved by everyone), Noah (Gideon's friend/brother since they were very young), Iris (of course), Zoe (of course), Del and Caris (working in costumes alongside Claudia, for the play. There are so many secondary characters in this book, and I love that so many were positive "good" characters. 

The romance was so so so so so so slow-burn, but in a realistic and very cute way. It reminded me of a crush I had, when I was slowly falling for him. Gideon is a charismatic guy that likes everyone, and everyone likes him. He is the kind of guy to pick up new interests all the time, and for that reason, Claudia doesn't want to like like him. But she does, and she can't stop it. Especially since it's clear that he likes likes her. They are the cutest! She is a sarcastic Shakespeare wiz, and he is an adorably goofy jokester. He's not a d-bag kind of charismatic boy, which made me like him even more. He is sweet and very considerate, and definitely a guy I would want to date (though they were so rare, especially in high school).

All of the parts of the story come together in the climax, which involved Paige and Iris, Gideon and Claudia, Julia and her pregnancy, Claudia and a conflict with Zoe... there is a lot going on by the end of the book, and a lot for Claudia to take in. This story isn't about her making it through senior year or getting ready to go to college - but it is about her growing into a more mature and well-rounded person. I liked this book a lot and I will be rereading it in the near future!

What I Did Not Like:

I feel like I always want more kissing, in Mills's books! It's always towards the end and only very briefly. Her books have such potential to be so physically swoony! I love the slow-burn non-swoony swoony tension though. But I wouldn't mind more!

Would I Recommend It:

I highly recommend any of Mills's books, not just this one. This one is a lovely and enjoyable story, a quick read that will make you smile. I wouldn't necessarily call it "fluffy" YA contemporary, because of the range of topics and emotions induced, but it's not a tough-issue YA contemporary novel. It's one that is delightful and sweet but also deals with real-life issues (like navigating friendships and anticipating motherhood - in Julia's case). You don't have to be a YA contemporary fan to fall in love with Mills's stories!


4 stars. There is a reason Mills keeps me coming back - or maybe many reasons. Her novels have been wonderful so far. Foolish Hearts is yet another masterpiece that adds to Mills's stellar reputation as a pillar in YA contemporary. I will forever be looking for new books by her, no matter the genre!

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Thursday, October 19, 2017

Swoon Thursday (#247): Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills

- From the book you’re currently reading, or one you just finished, tell us what made you SWOON. What got your heart pounding, your skin tingling, and your stomach fluttering

- Try to make the swoon excerpt 140 characters (or less), if you are going to tweet about it. Use the hashtag #YABOUND when tweeting

This week, my swoon is from Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills!

He smiles a little, takes my hand in both of his and points my finger, brings it to his pursed lips. I feel the warmth from his mouth, the press of his lips on top of the bandage.

I never think about my hand being small. I never think of any part of my being small, really, but it looks small in Gideon's.

He lowers my hand but doesn't let go.

- ARC, page

This was a non-swoon swoony scene! The full scene is adorable. Read my review tomorrow! This author continues to impress me. I highly recommend First & Then and This Adventure Ends!