Friday, December 15, 2017

Change is Gonna Come • Love, Life and the List

Abby is determined to have her artwork showcased at a special museum event, but finds herself rejected and told that her art lacks “heart”. To win a second chance at being a part of the event, Abby gives herself one month to complete a list of ten things to help improve her art – things like learning a stranger’s story and falling in love. Abby may be spending the summer crossing things off the list, but she soon discovers that improving her art isn’t as straightforward as she thinks it will be…

Love, Life and the List book cover
Plot? As with many of the Kasie West novels that I’ve read, this story is perfect romantic comedy fodder. Abby creates a ten item list that she is determined to accomplish in order to help grow her heart and improve her art, with items that cover all sorts of personal growth. As she attempts to complete the list alongside her best friend (and unrequited crush) Cooper, Abby gets into all sorts of shenanigans and learns that there is more to changing her art than just the completion of a list. I adored this story so much! I thought it was so relatable, as someone who also works hard to improve and grow creatively, to have a main character striving to gain more experience. I also loved that there were additional aspects to the story, particularly when it came to Abby’s real life relationships with her family and her friends. It was just a well-written story with multiple aspects to the tale, and I enjoyed it a lot.

Characters? Abby is my favorite Kasie West protagonist so far! I just found her easy to relate to, in terms of her personal growth journey, quirks and interests (even though I’m certainly not an artist the way she is). I thought it was utterly charming to read from her point of view, and her emotions really resonated with me. I also enjoyed the secondary characters a lot, particularly Cooper, who was all too easy to fall in love with…

Writing? Compulsively and easily readable, which is something I’ve come to expect from Kasie West’s novels. I did love that there were so many moments that made me smile and that West also managed to make me super emotional at one point too. 

Overall? In case it wasn’t obvious already, I loved Love, Life and the List so, so much. It’s my favorite of Kasie West’s contemporary YA romances! The romantic tropes, the character growth, the relationships with the secondary characters, the interweaving of the romantic and personal plot – all of it was this wonderful rom-com package that had me smiling and gushing and emotional. I’d highly recommend adding this one to your TBR and pre-order lists!

What’s your favorite friends-to-lovers story? I’m sorely tempted to say that this one is my favorite, and you’ll have to indulge me when I say that it’s in my top ten. But the first story that comes to mind when I think of friends-to-lovers is 13 Going on 30, a romantic comedy film that I absolutely adore.

Love, Life and the List by Kasie West
Publisher: Harper Teen | Publication Date: December 6, 2017
Source: ARC downloaded from Edelweiss (Thank you!)

Thursday, December 14, 2017

FOF Book Club: Air Awakens

Can you believe we've finally made it to the last read for this year's Flights of Fantasy Book Club? I've been really curious about Air Awakens ever since I first saw that cover and heard that it featured elemental magic, and I'm so glad I finally got a chance to read it. (Rachel even enjoyed it so much that she binged the rest of the series!)

Air Awakens centers on Vhalla Yarl, a young library apprentice who discovers that she's awakened a specific set of powers that allow her entrance into the world of sorcerers. She's grown up believing that sorcerers are meant to be feared, but the more she learns about magic, the history of sorcerers and the sorcerers themselves (including a certain Crown Prince), the more she finds herself enticed by the idea of being a part of their world. In the end, Vhalla has to decide whether or not she wants to be a sorcerer or eradicate her magic and remain as she has always been... before the power lurking in the shadows forces her to make an impossible choice.

Air Awakens book cover
Plot? I've got to say that the story is fairly typical of the young adult fantasy genre. Girl discovers she has magical abilities - extremely special ones that make her very important to a lot of people - and she must decide what she is to do about it. She's drawn to the comforts of her old life and to the enchantment (pun intended, thank you very much) of her potential new life, and life-threatening events force her to make life-altering choices. Even though I found it predictable in a lot of ways, I still thought it was fun to read.

Characters? Vhalla was likable enough as a main character, even though she wouldn't make my list of all-time favorite female leads. I really liked that she was into books and learning through them, and that she reacted to certain scenarios in ways that I felt were similar to how I would have responded to. I did find her thoughts a bit exasperating at times, and her emotions to be a touch too dramatic, she was still interesting to read about.

Writing? Here's where my reservations for this story lie, for the most part. I thought the pacing was a little bit off. I also found it to be clunky at times, especially with the dialogue. It was still not very hard to read at all, since I sped through it, but I was definitely very conscious of these two things.

Overall? I liked Air Awakens. Even though I thought the story was predictable, I did like the characters (especially Crown Prince Aldrik, who I love) a whole lot and I'm invested enough to want to continue on with the series.

As always, Rachel & I will both be answering the same set of questions with every book club pick that we read and review for the Flights of Fantasy Book Club. Don't forget to share your answers with us as well, whether you link up to your post in our monthly link-ups or simply comment below!

1. Who is your favorite character? I think it's fairly obvious that I loved Crown Prince Aldrik. What can I say? I'm into broody, powerful men who are more than meets the eye.

2. Would you read more books by this author? I'm definitely planning to read the rest of the series, so the answer to this question is a yes.

Air Awakens by Elise Kova | Series: Air Awakens #1
Publisher: Silver Wing Press | Publication Date: August 27, 2015
Source: Bought the Kindle e-book

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Course of True Love • Foolish Hearts

There are a lot of things Claudia wasn't expecting to happen to her. She didn't think she'd find herself on the outs with one of the meanest girls in her year, nor did she expect to be forced to partner with her for a paper. She also didn't expect to be made to try out for the school production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. She didn't expect to form new friendships, develop a boy band obsession or to be thrown together time and again with the goofiest, most adorable boy she's ever met. As her life gets filled with fandoms and friends, Claudia's entire perspective on her own life might just start to change...

Foolish Hearts book cover
Plot? I'll be honest and admit that I didn't remember anything about the story when I first cracked open this novel. It's actually got a plot that falls on the quieter side of contemporary YA, as it pretty much details what happens in Claudia's life over the course of a couple of months. I thought Mills had an excellent handle on developing Claudia, her relationships and chronicling some of the typical sorts of things that many of us have gone through in our own teen years. Even though it has a 'day in the life' vibe to the storytelling, it still was a novel that I found to be both relatable and remarkable. 

Characters? Oh my goodness, I loved the characters in this story! (So much so, in fact, that I ended up creating a gift guide for main characters Claudia and Gideon.) I was drawn immediately to Claudia mostly because I identified with her in many ways - the obsession with role-playing games, the close-knit ties to her family, her desire to be helpful and also to fly under the radar when possible, to name a few. And, of course, I immediately fell head over heels for Gideon, who was sweet, goofy and an all-around wonderful guy. Plus, there's Claudia's family, and her friends (old and new), all of whom she had real relationships (with the ups and downs) with. I thought Mills did a bang-up job of creating real personalities that felt like they came right off the page, and who I would have loved to get to know in real life.

Writing? One of the things I've always loved about novels from Emma Mills is how compulsively readable her writing is. She writes in a way that makes for easy reading but doesn't sacrifice any of the nuance or detail when it comes to her characters or their relationships with one another. I was, as always, impressed by the way she wove all the elements of a good book - strongly defined characters, well-constructed relationships, a compelling tale - in one very neat package.

Overall? In case you couldn't tell, I loved Foolish Hearts. It was a story I just couldn't put down once I'd started it! The combination of reading this book at just the right time, really identifying on a personal level with the main character and feeling all giddy and swoony by the end really made this one such a satisfying story to read. I'd highly recommend checking it out!

What's your favorite Shakespearean play? This is a very difficult question for me to answer, to be honest, since I actually quite love Shakespeare in general. It's going to be a copout to pick two, but I'm going to do it anyway - Romeo & Juliet (which is the first one I ever read) and Twelfth Night (which I find absolutely hilarious).

Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) | Publication Date: December 5, 2017
Source: ARC received from the publisher (Thanks!)


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