Paper Hearts (The Heartbreaker Chronicles #2) by Ali Novak

Felicity has her entire future planned. Ever since her older sister ran away, she’s had the full weight of her mother’s expectations on her shoulders. So she works hard to get straight As and save for college. Except sometimes the best things in life are unplanned—like when Felicity meets a handsome, masked stranger while she is volunteering at a charity masquerade ball. She never thought he’d flirt with her. And she certainly never thought he’d turn out to be a member of the world-famous Heartbreakers band, Alec.

Then Felicity uncovers a shocking family secret. Suddenly, she, Alec, and her two best friends are off on a road trip to find Felicity’s missing sister. And she’s about to discover that unexpected turns have a peculiar way of landing her right where she needs to be…

Paper Hearts (The Heartbreakers Chronicles #2) by Ali Novak
Published July 4, 2017 by Sourcebooks
Format: Netgalley e-book; 384 pages
Young Adult / Romance
Also By This Author: The Heartbreakers, My Life with the Walter Boys
Goodreads | Amazon
My Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Thoughts

Paper Hearts was a quick, heartwarming read that I really enjoyed, even if I had some issues with the plot. The novel follows Felicity, an over-achieving high school student who is desperate to earn enough money and extracurricular experience to get into Harvard. While working a charity masquerade ball, she unknowingly meets Alec, a guitarist for The Heartbreakers, the most popular boy band in the world.

I actually love premises like this, when a celebrity falls for a non-celebrity, and they have to try and make their relationship work despite the different lifestyles and social circles. Paper Hearts was no different. I was immediately pulled into Felicity and Alec’s journey, and I had a hard time putting the book down as they grew closer together. There were some really sweet scenes, and fun ones involving Alec’s band mates.

The only issue I had with Paper Hearts was with a couple of the minor characters, specifically Felicity’s mom and sister, and the way that part of the plot is resolved. It seemed very out of character and unrealistic to me, and I would have given this book a lower rating if it wasn’t for Alec and Felicity.

Read this book if…

  • You enjoy contemporary YA romances.
  • You love books with adventure and road trips!
  • You’re like me and you like reading about fictional celebrities falling in love with non-celebrities.
  • You’re in the mood for a relatively clean but romantic book.

Final Musings

Paper Hearts is actually the second book in Ali Novak’s Heartbreakers Chronicles series. The first book, The Heartbreakers, follows Alec’s friend and band mate Oliver, whom you meet in this novel, too. I haven’t read the first book, but I don’t think it’s necessary to be able to follow and enjoy Paper Hearts. I will probably read The Heartbreakers sometime, and since there are 2 other members of the Heartbreakers, I’m hoping Ali Novak will continue her series with two more books.

Also, the entire time I was reading this book, I had My Paper Heart by The All-American Rejects playing in my head. Flashback to early high school :)

Bucket List Update!

We are almost halfway through the year, and I thought it would be fun to see how far I’ve progressed on my 2017 Bucket List :)

  1. Eat at 10 local restaurants – We’ve probably eaten at 5 or 6 local restaurants, including 1 or 2 new ones.
  2. Go berry picking – Yes! Killian and I finally did this and it was such a lovely afternoon. We picked blackberries at Lewis Farms a few weeks ago and it was the perfect time to go. There were so many ripe berries, and Killian was a natural at picking them. Afterwards we ate some homemade blueberry ice cream and it was absolutely delicious. Lewis Farms just closed for the season :( but next year we’ll be back!

  3. Read at least 10 classics from my Classics Club list – Well I’ve been slacking on this one! I’ve only read 8 classics this year, and only 3 were on my Classics Club list. I’ve been halfway through Cranford for nearly two months now…
  4. Gardening – I definitely enjoyed some gardening time earlier this spring! I planted a lot of flowers in the front yard and my husband and I started an herb and vegetable garden in the back yard. We’ve already eaten the first round of radishes (they were too spicy for me but my husband loved them) and we’ll be able to eat some green beans soon! It’s nice to be able to go outside and pick some herbs to season dinner with, and gardening itself is very relaxing.

    The petunias around the mailbox are HUGE now,, and so are the plants in the back yard.

  5. Write a novel! –I think the reason I’m actually writing this blog post is because I’m procrastinating on my book. But I really am writing a novel this year! At first I was going to write about this one book idea I had been musing over for almost 3 years, but then one day about 6-8 weeks ago I got a new idea that started consuming me. I outlined it and wrote several scenes within a week, and then I decided to just put the other story on the table for now. I don’t have a title for the book I’m currently working on, but I can tell you that I’m about 30 pages in and it’s of the time travel/historical fiction persuasion. My goal is to have the first draft completed by the end of the year, hopefully sooner :)

    img_0921.jpg

    This quote has been really inspiring to me while I hash out my first draft.

  6. Take a week off– We’re planning on taking a week vacation around labor day, hopefully to the mountains or someplace refreshing and secluded.
  7. See Hamilton! – Ha, ha, silly me got the dates wrong for this tour. Hamilton is coming to Charlotte next year :( but speaking of musicals, has anyone else become obsessed with Dear Evan Hanson? My husband and I fell in love with this performance at the Tony’s and now we can’t stop listening to it!
  8. Finish decorating my library – I did this! My happy place is all decorated and organized (with the exception of a couple of boxes), and I do most of my writing up there, now. It still serves as our guest room, so I try to use it as much as possible when we don’t have guests, but I also write a lot at the local library.
  9. Finish reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix with Matt – Ha, I forgot that I put this on my bucket list. We did finish GoF, but we are only two chapters into OotP. I need to start reading it again!
  10. Volunteer more – This is still something I need to work on. I’ve done more volunteering at the library, but I’m still looking for some new organizations to volunteer with.

So I’m about halfway through after all! 4.5/9 bucket list items, since #7 isn’t applicable this year, unfortunately. But I’m excited that I’m actually making progress :)

Mini Reviews

Where have I been?? It’s been 2 months since my last post, and I’ve missed blogging! But I have good reasons for taking a hiatus. April was an emotionally exhausting month that I still haven’t completely recovered from, and I’ve spent most of May reading, which really makes up for my reading drought in March and April. I feel like I can breathe again now that I keep flying through book after book.

So here are some mini reviews for the Young Adult books I’ve read over the past few months:

PS I Like YouP.S. I Like You by Kasie West – A modern Young Adult adaptation of You’ve Got Mail. This book really surprised me, mainly because Kasie West is a hit or miss author for me. I’ve previously read The Distance Between Us (did not finish) and The Fill-In Boyfriend (which I enjoyed and previously blogged about). P.S. I Like You was exactly what I needed to read this month. April was brutal and YA contemporary romances have been comforting to me. P.S. I Like You was adorably cute with themes of friendship, misunderstandings, and second chances.
My Rating: ♥♥♥

Everything EverythingEverything, Everything by Nicola Yoon – I had been wanting to read this before the movie comes out later this year, and the premise was very promising: a girl who can’t go outside because she may die falls in love with the boy next door. I’ve always been a sucker for tragic romances, so it was easy for me to get into this book. The writing is sentimental and gripping. It also includes email exchanges between the two main characters, and I love when books incorporate modern communication technologies. Everything, Everything has a twist at the end that I did not see coming, and honestly I’m still trying to come to terms with it weeks later.
I think the film will be true to the book, and I’m happy with the actors they’ve chosen. Also, the soundtrack will probably be phenomenal, based on the trailers I’ve seen.
My Rating: ♥♥♥♥ (3.5 if I’m being honest)

The Start of Me and YouThe Start of Me and You by Emery Lord – This book should really have its own post, because Emery Lord is a genius who can make you laugh and cry every other chapter. I fell in love with Open Road Summer and I still listen to the playlist I made while reading it. The Start of Me and You was different but still emotionally gripping. I love how Emery Lord incorporates mental health and healing into her books. The main character in The Start of Me and You is struggling with grief, fear, and moving on, and her journey inspired me a lot since I’ve been dealing with those same things recently. Also, there’s an adorably dorky romance in this story, and it’ll make your heart smile.
My Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Ready Player OneReady Player One by Ernest Cline – My husband and I flew through Armada a few months ago, and we were so excited when our Ready Player One hold became available at the library. Ready Player One is fully laden with video game and nerd references. 95% of the video game references and allusions went straight over my head, but I still enjoyed the story. It’s hard not to compare this novel with Armada, and I’d have to say that I preferred Zack’s character over Wade’s.
One thing about Ready Player One that did fascinate me, though, is the idea of internet anonymity. As it is in real life, the characters were able to be whomever they wanted to be, while hiding, enhancing, or even creating certain traits and behaviors. It’s interesting how the internet allows users to be confident and honest about who they are and yet most people hide behind a mask (or in Ready Player One’s case, an OASIS avatar) while communicating with people they will probably never meet in real life.
My one problem with Ready Player One is how critical Ernest Cline is of religion (and I say Ernest Cline because, even though it’s Wade narrating, it is painfully obvious how much Cline hates religion). As a reader and a Christian, I felt disrespected, as if the author was jumping through the pages to yell at me).
Steven Spielberg is working on the film adaptation coming out next year, and I am anxiously awaiting to see how that turns out! The story’s villain is played by Ben Mendelsohn, who played Orson Krennic in Rogue One (I’m sure he’s a great guy in real life, but he plays villains so well that I hate the character of Sorrento even more knowing that Mendelsohn is playing him).
My Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

This week I also finished Every Last Word, a YA novel by Tamara Ireland Stone that features a main character with OCD. It was really resonant, and I’m looking forward to getting a review up soon! I have lots of thoughts to muddle through.

In the mean time, what are some 2017 releases that should be on my To Be Read list?

 

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

Treasure Island

Robert Louis Stevenson’s cherished, unforgettable adventure magically captures the thrill of a sea voyage and a treasure hunt through the eyes of its teenage protagonist, Jim Hawkins. Crossing the Atlantic in search of the buried cache, Jim and the ship’s crew must brave the elements and a mutinous charge led by the quintessentially ruthless pirate Long John Silver. Brilliantly conceived and splendidly executed, it is a novel that has seized the imagination of generations of adults and children alike

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
Published November 14, 1883 by Cassell and Company
Format: Hardcover; 240 pages
Classics / Adventure / Young Adult
Also By This Author: The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyl and Mr. Hyde, Kidnapped
Goodreads | Amazon
My Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Thoughts

It probably takes a good blend of ignorance and luck to avoid finding out spoilers for a 134 year old book, but I made it 27 years without knowing anything about Treasure Island, except for the fact that it involved treasure, an island, and it featured pirates. I had never read this book or its synopsis before, nor had I seen any movie adaptations (no, not even the Muppets version). Of course, I had heard of Long John Silver, but I didn’t even know he was a prominent character in this book until he was introduced several chapters in.

Disclaimer: if you are a rarity like me who doesn’t know anything about Treasure Island and would like to keep it that way, you may want to skip down to the “Read this Book if” section, to continue avoiding spoilers :)

I liked not knowing anything about this novel beforehand because that really raised the suspense level for me. I never knew who to trust and I was constantly worried about characters dying. I applaud Robert Lewis Stevenson for romanticizing pirate stories, and I wonder if even he anticipated or expected the influence his novel would continue to have long after his death.

As intrigued as I was by this story for the first four parts, once they arrive on the island and conflicts begin escalating, I started detaching from the story. I think I was put off by Long John Silver’s character. From the very first encounter with him, I didn’t trust him, but there were several times when I wanted to. I remember gasping in shock when the mutiny is uncovered by our narrator halfway through the story, but I always expected Silver to be the villain in disguise. What really confused me was how he could kill several crew members and threaten the lives of the captain and the doctor and still get away scot-free at the end of the book, while the men he persuaded into mutiny were either killed or marooned on Treasure Island.

Maybe I wasn’t reading closely enough? Am I alone in feeling conflicted over the conclusion of Treasure Island? It ruined the ending for me quite a bit, which is why I only gave the book a 3-star rating.

Read This Book If…

…you wish you were a pirate! Or you at least enjoy pirate and/or adventure stories.
…you are fascinated by the way humans (and fictional characters) react when placed in stressful life-and-death situations, especially when profit is involved (if you like Lord of the Flies and similar novels, you will probably appreciate Treasure Island as well).
…you like reading pioneering novels that have birthed entirely new genres.
…you enjoy reading books with reliable narrators, even if the other characters are not as trustworthy.

Final Musings

Since I’ve never seen a single film adaptation of Treasure Island, I have no idea which one is the best. Any recommendations? If you’re reading this, you should know that I am not the biggest Muppets fan, but if that one is generally considered one of the best versions, I will consider watching it :)

Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

Far From the Madding Crowd

Independent and spirited Bathsheba Everdene has come to Weatherbury to take up her position as a farmer on the largest estate in the area. Her bold presence draws three very different suitors: the gentleman-farmer Boldwood, soldier-seducer Sergeant Troy and the devoted shepherd Gabriel Oak. Each, in contrasting ways, unsettles her decisions and complicates her life, and tragedy ensues, threatening the stability of the whole community. The first of his works set in Wessex, Hardy’s novel of swift passion and slow courtship is imbued with his evocative descriptions of rural life and landscapes, and with unflinching honesty about sexual relationships.

Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
Published 1874 by Cornhill Magazine
Format: Paperback; 433 pages
Classics

Also By This Author: Tess of the D’UrbervillesJude the Obscure
Goodreads | Amazon
My Rating: ♥♥♥

Thoughts

It has taken me MONTHS to write this review of Thomas Hardy’s classic, Far From the Madding Crowd, probably because I have so many mixed feelings over it. It’s one of my best friend’s favorite books, so I really wanted to love it when I first started reading it last spring/summer. It wasn’t hard to fall in love with Gabriel’s loyal character, and I even admired Bathsheba from time to time. But I had a difficult time connecting with the storyline, which caused me to keep putting the book down and picking it back up weeks later.

The one thing that kept me in pursuit of finishing Far From the Madding Crowd was a very exciting project I had the opportunity to work on: a literary-inspired webseries adaptation!

If you’ve ever happened to explore the menu on the right side of my bog, you may have inferred that I am a fan of webseries, especially those of a literary persuasion. My absolute favorite webseries is Green Gables Fables, a modern adaptation of my favorite novel, Anne of Green Gables. I’ve always dreamed that it would be fun and challenging to work on a LIW, but never had the opportunity before an online friend, Hazel, started putting a team together to turn Far From the Madding Crowd into a modern webseries.

You can check out the currently running series, Away From it All, here. The AFiT universe is expansive and ranges across many media platforms such as Twitter, Youtube videos, Tumblr, and even text messages!

I wrote/co-wrote three episodes, two of which have already aired. Having never written anything that was “published,” I was really nervous about this project! But overall I had fun and I learned a great deal about screenwriting, fictional character development, and all that a webseries production entails (which is to say, A TON). I’m grateful for the opportunity to become more involved in this community of artistic classic-lit-lovers.

I wish I enjoyed Far From the Madding Crowd more, but I’m not too surprised considering that Bathsheba was an unlikable character in my opinion. I’ve read rumors that Hardy did not have a very positive outlook on women, so maybe that attributed to some of my impressions. Like I said, I admired her character in a lot of ways. I just don’t think she’d be someone I’d get along with in real life ;)

Read This Book If…

…you love reading classics, especially “chunky” ones.
…you like stories with love triangles (or you aren’t turned off by them, at least).
…you appreciate strong minded female characters who are also feminine and delicate, at times. 
…you enjoy novels that focus on genteel living in the 1800s.

Final Musings:

One of the other developers/writers/transmedia experts has started her own production of an adaptation of A Comedy of Errors, which she’s invited me to join, and I’m really looking forward to working on a modern Shakespeare adaptation! Check back later for more info on that project :)

Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne

Winnie the Pooh

“Once upon a time, a very long time ago, Winnie-the-Pooh lived in a forest…”The world of Pooh is a world of enchantment. It is a world forever fixed in the minds and hearts of countless children — a world where Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends Piglet, Eeyore, Tigger, Kanga and the others share unforgettable adventures with Christopher Robin.

Winnie-the-Pooh is filled with delight: Pooh goes hunting with Piglet, celebrates Eeyore’s birthday, and accompanies Christopher Robin and the others on an “Expotition” to the North Pole. Through it all, Pooh remains the whimsical philosopher and staunch friend, captivating children as he has for generations.

Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne
Published October 1, 1926
Format: Hardcover library checkout; 145 pages
Classics/Children’s Lit
Also By This Author: The Red House MysteryThe Sunny SideTwo People
GoodreadsAmazon
My Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Thoughts:

I am frantically trying to catch up with my Classic’s Club challenge! I don’t know if I’m going to finish reading and reviewing 50 classics by the end of next year (I’m currently at 28), but I know I’ve definitely read at least that many classics, even if they weren’t on my list.

So, in a desperate attempt to catch up on my TBR classics list, in January I read the short but beloved children’s classic, Winnie the Pooh. Of course I used to watch the movies and TV series when I was younger, but I had never read any of the books! This seems to be a recurring travesty for me, since I also never read The Secret Garden or Peter Pan until only a year or two ago. I’m also experiencing the Emily of New Moon series by L. M. Montgomery for the first time, as part of a read-along from February through April. I’m VERY HAPPY that I discovered Anne of Green Gables at such a young age, but why did no one tell me about her literary sister, Emily?
Anyway, Winnie the Pooh was lovely and magical, as expected. I adored the naive and child-like humor of Pooh and his forest friends, and I was in a constant state of cheerfulness as I read about their adventures in the Hundred Acre Wood.
Winnie the Pooh 1

The only dark cloud appeared when I did some quick Google research on the author, A. A. Milne, and his son, who was the inspiration for Christopher Robin. I was sad to discover that the Winnie the Pooh series and subsequent franchise was detrimental to their relationship, and that even A. A. Milne’s wife harbored some resentment towards their son over the fallout. It’s unfortunate that a beautiful and heartwarming universe such as Winnie the Pooh could be the cause of family strife in the author’s life.

Winnie the Pooh will still be a comforting and enjoyable series to me, but I’ll always be reading it with a different lens from now on.

Read This Book If…

…you are still a child at heart.
…you’re looking for a book that will make you feel joy.
…you’re a fan of classics.

Final Musings

Winnie the Pooh 2

Have you ever had a changed opinion over a book you loved after learning more about the author’s background and history?

WTF?!: What the French? by Olivier Magny

WTF

In France, the simple act of eating bread is an exercise in creative problem solving and attempting to spell requires a degree of masochism. But that’s just how the French like it—and in WTF, Oliver Magny reveals the France only the French know. From the latest trends in baby names, to the religiously observed division of church and state, prepare yourself for an insider’s look at French culture that is surprising, insightful, and chock full of bons mots.

 


WTF?!: What the French 
by Olivier Magny

Published August 23, 2016 by Berkley
Format: Netgalley e-book; 288 pages
Nonfiction/Travel/Humor
Also By This Author: Stuff Parisians LikeInto Wine: An Invitation to Pleasure
Author’s Website | GoodreadsAmazon
My Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Thoughts

This book gave me serious homesickness for France! The author is a French native and who is all too familiar with the embarrassing and frustrating cultural barriers that can happen when one visits France. Although I thought WTF?!: What the French was an enlightening and entertaining read, I’d recommend it more to people who have visited or are planning to visit France. You will probably appreciate this book much more if you can compare the author’s opinions with your own personal anecdotes.

The book is divided into 50+ short chapters, each dealing with a specific topic ranging from pop culture to food to politics. Some of these topics are comedic (and will cause you to laugh out loud more than once), while others offer insight into current political events in France.

Here were some of the most noteworthy chapters for me:

Blowing Air – If you aren’t too accustomed with French people, you may think they’re seriously annoyed when they let a small huff of air out of their mouths. Chances are it’s only mild annoyance, but it has become one of my favorite French things to imitate.

La Rando Especially where I lived in the French Alps, family hikes are common weekend or even late afternoon activities. There are plenty of small walking routes to be found, and sometimes you even discover medieval castles on your journey.

“The French like to walk around with no precise goal other than that of enjoying life.”

Ça Va & C’est Pas Possible! The two most used phrases in the French language

“Liberté, égalité, impossibilité”

The English Despite what you may have heard from friends who have visited France, French people are very welcoming and hospitable, and I’ve encountered many natives who will switch to English when they speak with you, or who will be patient and helpful when you’re trying to practice your French.

Eating Rules The 4 hour French meal is not an exaggeration!

I can’t tell you how many times I was laughing out loud while reading WTF?!: What the French. I would constantly stop to reread chapters aloud to my (French) husband, who would proceed to confirm the author’s opinion by doing the exact thing laid out in the chapter. Then we’d both laugh and talk about how much we miss our colorful & expressive France. I only wish this book had been written before I moved to la France in 2012; it would have helped me adapt to and fall in love with the culture much earlier!

Read This Book If…

…you’re a francophile.
…you are open minded to learning about new cultures.
…you’ve ever experience a culture barrier.
…you enjoy books about food and travel.

Final Musings

I will leave you with a couple of hilarious quotes from the book:

“People think of France as the country of cheese. Really, it’s the country of yogurt.”

(There are SEVERAL aisles of yogurts and pudding desserts in French grocery stores)

“Across the globe, countless people view the French as always being on strike, which is unfair. Sometimes; they are on vacation.”