Ranking and Reviewing Every Book by Emma Mills

Ranking and Reviewing Emma Mills' Novels

Emma Mills is a fairly hyped author in the book blogging community, and yet, I’d avoided her books for the longest time, because (1) Contemporary YA is not my genre, (2) for years, I had her mixed up with another author whose book I disliked in the past. You might be asking, HOW DOES ONE DO THAT? By being me, mate, by being me. 😫

Back in January, however, I decided to take a leap of faith, because so many of my trusted blogger friends have been hyping up Emma Mills for years. I picked up Foolish Hearts and I was immediately hooked. I decided then and there that I would read every single one of Mills’ novels, which might seem like a big decision, but look, I found pure happiness, and who doesn’t want more of that in their life?

That decision was closely followed by my idea to document my progress through Mills’ books, and discuss how much, or how little I enjoyed them. Thus, for today’s post, I set up on order of Emma Mills’s novels; we’re working our way up from the weakest to the strongest title, and I’m briefly reviewing each book.

Of course, this is a very objective post! This list is not “correct” (or “incorrect”), it’s only my own opinion, which may differ from yours. On that note, I’d love, love, LOVE to hear your own thoughts, and/or your own order.

First & Then

Devon Tennyson wouldn’t change a thing. She’s happy watching Friday night games from the bleachers, silently crushing on best friend Cas, and blissfully ignoring the future after high school. But the universe has other plans. It delivers Devon’s cousin Foster, an unrepentant social outlier with a surprising talent for football, and the obnoxiously superior and maddeningly attractive star running back, Ezra, right where she doesn’t want them: first into her P.E. class and then into every other aspect of her life.

My Thoughts

Unfortunately, First & Then was a far cry from the excellence I expected heading into it. While it had its strong points, mainly Ezra and Foster, it had just as many, or even more, weaker aspects to it.

But first, the good! Ezra was a wonderful love interest; he was prickly and a bit a stand-offish, a.k.a. the perfect Darcy for this light Pride and Prejudice retelling. We were also introduced to Foster, this cute, lovable kid who had to go through so damn much, and yet, he was ready to open his heart to new people. Brb, I’m crying. 😭

“When you love something, you can’t be happy all the time, can you? Like, that’s why you love it. It makes you feel all kinds of things, not just happy. It can hurt, it can make you fucking mad, but… it makes you feel something, you know?”

That might not sound like much, but those two characters helped me enjoy the novel when, well, everything else was not up to par with my expectations. I hate to say this, but Devon, the heroine, felt so… empty. Even though First & Then is told through her perspective, I couldn’t get a good grip on who she was. Her personality revolved around (1) being judgmental, (2) having an intense crush on her best friend, Cas, and (3) wanting to go to a certain university. While she did develop towards the end, her development felt rushed and unauthentic.

Tl,dr: First & Then is very visibly a debut novel; thus certain parts of it feel underdeveloped, forced, or messy.

final rating: three potted plants (stars)

Lucky Caller

When Nina decides to take a radio broadcasting class her senior year, she expects it to be a walk in the park. Instead, it’s a complete disaster.

The members of Nina’s haphazardly formed radio team have approximately nothing in common. And to maximize the awkwardness her group includes Jamie, a childhood friend she’d hoped to basically avoid for the rest of her life.

The show is a mess, internet rumors threaten to bring the wrath of two fandoms down on their heads, and to top it all off Nina’s family is on the brink of some major upheaval.

Everything feels like it’s spiraling out of control―but maybe control is overrated?

My Thoughts

I need to start by saying that Jamie is the cutest, softest character ever, and my love for the book is in a big part because of him. He was so stinking adorable, and I shipped his tentative relationship with Nina like hell. On that note, if you like the “clueless characters secretly in love with each other” trope, this book is for you.

Other than these two adorable idiots, I loved all the heartwarming moments we were given. While Lucky Caller offers a bit of friendship, it mainly concentrates on family, and man, the love Nina and Jack felt towards their family made me beam so, so, so much. 😊 I especially loved Nina’s soon-to-be stepfather, Dan, who is one of those people who are just genuinely kind and good.

The reason why I didn’t love Lucky Caller more is pretty simple: the characters were excellent, but the novel had essentially no plot, which was an issue for me, especially during the first half. I wouldn’t say I was bored per se, but I also couldn’t claim that I was particularly captivated.

Famous in a Small Town

For Sophie, small town life has never felt small. With her four best friends—loving, infuriating, and all she could ever ask for—she can weather any storm. But when Sophie’s beloved Acadia High School marching band is selected to march in the upcoming Rose Parade, it’s her job to get them all the way to LA. Her plan? To persuade country singer Megan Pleasant, their Midwestern town’s only claim to fame, to come back to Acadia to headline a fundraising festival.

The only problem is that Megan has very publicly sworn never to return.

What ensues is a journey filled with long-kept secrets, hidden heartbreaks, and revelations that could change everything—along with a possible fifth best friend: a new guy with a magnetic smile and secrets of his own.

My Thoughts

This was my fourth Emma Mills novel, and I have to say, by this time I started to see certain tropes and character types she, well, over-uses. 🙈 I wouldn’t say the use of these makes her novels boring, but it does make them blend together to an extent.

That said, Famous in a Small Town had so many wonderful parts! I adored the friend group and how their individual stories/lives, even though they didn’t take the main stage, felt just as real as Sophie’s. I’d literally kill for a chance to read Brit’s story, especially given who she has the most precious crush on. They would make such a cute, opposites attract couple. 😭

As for the romance we get here, I loved seeing the budding relationship between Sophie and August. It was wholesome even if it had a number of hiccups, and oh my god, August is such a soft, soft boy. Seeing how much he cared for his nieces from the first time he met them made me so happy.

All in all, Famous in a Small Town was a cute, heartfelt novel, with an incredibly inspiring heroine who was ready to FIGHT for her dreams.

This Adventure Ends

Sloane isn’t expecting to fall in with a group of friends when she moves from New York to Florida—especially not a group of friends so intense, so in love, so all-consuming. Yet that’s exactly what happens.

Sloane becomes closest to Vera, a social-media star who lights up any room, and Gabe, Vera’s twin brother and the most serious person Sloane’s ever met. When a beloved painting by the twins’ late mother goes missing, Sloane takes on the responsibility of tracking it down, a journey that takes her across state lines—and ever deeper into the twins’ lives.

Filled with intense and important friendships, a wonderful warts-and-all family, shiveringly good romantic developments, and sharp, witty dialogue, this story is about finding the people you never knew you needed.

My Thoughts

I saved This Adventure Ends as my last Mills read, because it’s generally regarded as one of her best titles; and while that’s true, it didn’t reach the heights of Foolish Hearts, imo.

The strongest part of this novel is easily the friendship between the characters. This time, Mills really showed that despite the conflicts, despite the low points, the friendship remains just as strong – and even if there’s a change in the dynamic of the group, it doesn’t have to be a bad change.

I also found the romance adorable, although I would have needed to see a liiiitle bit more of their development to really, truly root for them. But to make up for that, we had wonderful family dynamics! Sloane’s little sister was precious, and their parents felt so realistic in the way they were dealing with their issues.

Even though I adored everyone, and enjoyed Sloane’s hunt for the painting, I was somewhat put off by how bloody unrealistic some of the characters (and the dialogue) felt. I got used to it, but this is by far her most unrealistic novel in terms of the characters and their voices.

Foolish Hearts

When Claudia accidentally eavesdrops on the epic breakup of Paige and Iris, the it-couple at her school, she finds herself in hot water with prickly, difficult Iris. Thrown together against their will in the class production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, along with the goofiest, cutest boy Claudia has ever known, Iris and Claudia are in for an eye-opening senior year.

Smart, funny, and thoroughly, wonderfully flawed, Claudia navigates a world of intense friendships and tentative romance in Foolish Hearts, a YA novel about expanding your horizons, allowing yourself to be vulnerable, and accepting–and loving–people for who they really are.

My Thoughts

Y’all, Foolish Hearts stole my heart in a way very, very few books have done so. I felt a wide range of emotions, each hitting me like a kick to the stomach. I smiled, I laughed, I frowned, I teared up alongside these wonderful, complex characters. I was invested in their lives, in their story, and I had a hard time closing the book and accepting the fact that I’m never “seeing” any of them again, unless I reread the book. I want to follow their lives into eternity, please and thank you!

“Sometimes it’s hard to know if something’s for real? It’s hard to believe it, even if you want it to be real. Even if you want it so badly. Sometimes it seems…safer, you know. Not to risk it.”

What I’ve just said shows you that what makes Foolish Hearts a precious little book are its characters and the relationships that connect them. Be these relationships negative, neutral, or positive, they felt complex and perfectly developed. I tried to think of which relationship to discuss briefly, and honestly, I cannot choose! Be it a friendship, romance, or a relationship between family members, Mills put her – and the characters’ – heart and soul into writing them in a nuanced, beautiful way. Hats off to Emma Mills, because, boy, can she write!

Final Thoughts

The question, I guess, is: would I recommend Emma Mills’ novels? Hell yes! While I didn’t find them perfect, they made me beam and laugh A LOT, and Foolish Hearts actually joined the list of my all time favorite novels. It was that special.

I think I made a mistake when I read three of Mills’ novels super-close to each other because they are similar enough for them to start to blend together after a while. That said, they are all worth reading for their entertaining banter, cute relationships, and fun characters.

Let’s chat!

What’s your favorite YA Contemporary? Have you read anything by Emma Mills? Do you agree with my ranking?


41 thoughts on “Ranking and Reviewing Every Book by Emma Mills

  1. Ah, I love this post idea so much! I’ve wanted to try something by Emma Mills for so long. I don’t know why, but she reminds me of Alice Oseman 🤔 Also, both versions of her covers are absolutely STUNNING. 😍 Sadly, I’m not a contemporary person, so the only book by her I have on my TBR is Foolish Hearts, which I think everyone considers her best book. To be honest, based on Foolish Hearts’s synopsis alone, I wouldn’t have added it to my TBR, but it has a high average rating on Goodreads, and almost everyone I know rated it 5 stars, so I’m excited to see what I think of it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Cait!! 🙂 I’ve been thinking of doing something similar with Oseman’s novels – I haven’t read anything by her, but I’ve heard incredible things. (I know she has fewer out, though, so I guess we’ll see.) To be honest, I’m not a big contemporary YA person, but these books made me smile so, so much! 😍 And yes, please read Foolish Hearts!! It’s one of my favorite novels this year, and – tbh – probably ever. The friendship, the romance, the characters, and the theater-based plot all made it excellent! 😍 (Also, let me know if you do read it!! I would love to know what you think.)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I adore Emma Mills. She gets all the stars from me. No, seriously, I just checked Goodreads, all have 5-stars. She just writes the best characters and the most charming stories. My heart explodes every time I read one of her books, and I mean that in the best way.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oof. I’ve never heard of Emma Mills 😅. But her books sound like something I’d love! I especially love the covers 😮. And the way you described Foolish Hearts 👌🏽I need to pick it up for myself!
    Also, unrelated, but kinda related, can I just say that I love your rating graphics?!?! The plants are 😍!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, I’m glad I got to introduce you to her. 😀 The covers are SO CUTE – these are redesigns, but I also love the original editions, though those are simpler. Foolish Hearts is one of my favorites this year, and probably ever. It’s so wholesome and beautiful, I hope you love it. 🙂 (Also, let me know if you do read it, I’d love to hear your thoughts!)
      Thanks. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Ah… I’ve been looking forward to this post and I loved getting to read through all your thoughts !! I haven’t read any Emma Mills books (I love the new covers by the way) and I’m not the biggest contemporary reader but I feel like I will love her books for the friendships and soft boys, haha!!

    “clueless characters secretly in love with each other” — I do kind of love this trope so I’m glad you pointed it out, haha!! I am all for the secret, mutual pining!!
    Famous in A Small Town was always the one that was on my TBR (nothing to do with the main character’s name, I assure you) and I definitely want to pick it up but it sounds like Foolish Hearts should be high on my list as well. I can’t wait to pick them up but I think I will spread them out instead of reading them together or else that might ruin my experience especially as I’m not the biggest contemporary reader.

    Great post, thank you for sharing, it was very helpful!! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Sophie!! It makes me happy that you looked forward to my post. 😭 The new covers are incredible, some of the best illustrated covers I’ve seen. Same, so I think they might work for you just fine. 🙂

      The “clueless characters secretly in love with each other” is so CUTE, especially in YA. When EVERYONE can see that they are in love, and they are like “I don’t think XY likes me” 😭. It’s precious. Ahh, let me know if/when you pick these up Sophie – I’d love to hear what you think!

      Thank you! 💜

      Liked by 1 person


    i entirely agree, her books are pure happiness in the form of books, basically the greatest thing ever. the character development in ‘first and then’ 😭😭😭👏 foster and ezra are my babies i will protect them with my life!! i agree it is definitely her weakest book but im glad you were able to enjoy it

    the close friend groups, sweet soft boys, and heartwarming moments are like emma mills essentials and i think that’s why i LOVE her books so much. AUGUST WITH THE GIRLS MAKES MY HEART MELT I LOVE THAT BOY SO MUCHHHH

    ahhh im so glad you enjoyed them all and to see foolish hearts on the top makes my heart soft (though im not entirely sure which is my favourite, i’m stuck between this adventure ends, foolish hearts, and famous in a small town bc i feel like they all fulfilled what i needed in my life at that time JAFKLJDALK IT’S TOO HARD TO PICK)

    this was such a fantastic post omg i loved reading it so much!! i hope you do more of these in the future bc they were SO MUCH FUN!! 🥰🥰

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your reviews were one of the reasons I jumped into this post, May!! I saw them on Goodreads, and I looved your enthusiasm for these books. 💜

      Foster and Ezra are two of the best characters I’ve read this year, period. So even though I didn’t love the book, it was well worth reading for these two. And yes, August is so pure?? Tbh, all of Mills’ characters are so cute and wholesome, and I wish I could know them IRL.

      I keep rereading my favorite parts of Foolish Hearts, it is SO SOFT and asakndkaj, I love it with all my heart.

      Thank you so much!! 💜💜 I’m thinking of doing something similar with Alice Oseman after her new book comes out. It’s just, I’m not interested in Solitaire, so it would have to work without ALL her books. We’ll see. 😀


  6. I’ve had a bit of a weird relationship with Emma Mills. I love contemporaries, and so I pretty much read First & Then right when it came out and I really enjoyed it! It wasn’t a new favorite, but I thought it was solid. Then I read This Adventure Ends and I wasn’t impressed. I thought it was okay, but I had a lot of negative feelings about that book. And yet, I was so excited when Famous in a Small Town was coming out! I pre-ordered it, and read it pretty much immediately! And once again, I was disappointed! I wanted to love it so much, but I was just underwhelmed! However, I’ve consistently heard people proclaim Foolish Hearts as their favorite Emma Mills book, so I just ordered a copy for myself. Hopefully, I’ll love it as much as everyone else seems to! And if I don’t I’ll just have to accept that Emma Mills just isn’t an author for me!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’ve had such different experience than I did, I loved reading about it. 🙂 I think there’s a solid chance you’ll love Foolish Hearts. I think I know what you mean about Famous in a Small Town – I went into it with small expectations, because I saw that it didn’t have the best ratings. It is such a quiet book – all of them are, I suppose, and that might not work for everyone. Still, I do hope you’ll love Foolish Hearts. I would love to hear your thoughts on it, so feel free to write if you want to discuss it. 🙂


  7. This is such a fantastic idea, I love it so much. ❤ I haven't read all of Emma Mills' books just yet, but I agree with your ranking with the ones I've read! For me, First and Then was the weakest of the lot and… I started with that one, so I felt a little… disappointed. I had expectations when it comes to such an appreciated author, and they weren't quite met with this first book. But then, Famous in a Small Town and Foolish Hearts most of it all convinced me that she could get way better than this first book. Foolish Hearts is my favorite so far ❤ Can't wait to discover the others 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Marie! 💜 I’m curious to see if our ranking will remain the same as your read more books by her. Even though I love Foster and Ezra, I probably wouldn’t have read more by her had I started with that, so you were STRONG, haha. Hope you’ll love the others. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I have been missing out on some golden posts here. I adore Emma Mills books and I totally agree with your thoughts on First & Then, I didn’t get my hands on a copy of that for a long while and it wasn’t as good as what I expected from Millls… but I did enjoy it. I could see the potential in her writing there and it won’t ever be a fave but I am glad I have a copy on my shelf and gave it a read all the same. I’ve not read Lucky Caller yet so that’s to be bought and read yet, I hope I enjoy it. This Adventure Ends isn’t one of your favourites? It’s one of mine from ills books… but it was also my first book I read from her so I suppose I went in with no expectations beyond the reviews I’d seen. I just really loved the story and the characters and all of it. It was the first YA book I’d read in a while and a great reminder of why I should read more contemporary YA. Foolish Hearts was good, though, and it’s good enough I can still remember the story after however many months it’s been since I read it. my book amnesia is strong so you know a book is good if I can remember it (or really bad, but it definitely wasn’t that). The characters were brilliant and the book did not go as I thought and was all the better for it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Becky! 💜 You always leave the nicest, most supportive comments. (I’m SO BEHIND on blog hopping, but I saw that you’re back, and got so excited!!) I think the problem with This Adventure Ends was that I went into it with such high expectations – I saw a lot of people consider it their favorite by Mills (some besides Foolish Hearts, but still), and it didn’t quite deliver what I expected. I connected to the characters of Foolish Hearts (and the story too) much better. Lucky Caller is SO CUTE, the characters are incredible, and I loved their soft pining for each other. 🙂


  9. Foolish hearts is also one of my fave books! I have read all of her books and i love them all so much. But I do agree with some points that you make! Really enjoyed your blogpost!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Okay, I have to admit I have not read ANY Emma Mills books but I know so many contemporary readers who absolutely adore them and I know I need to try at least one for sure. I guess I will start with the one ranked top of this list 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I love this post! I’ve read two books from Emma Mills (This Adventure Ends and Lucky Caller) and I liked both of them, and can’t wait to read all her other books. I loved the familial relationships in This Adventure Ends! And the main character’s relationships with her friends were so relatable. Lucky Caller I liked less, but omg there’s a special place in my heart for Jamie.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I’ve been considering reading an Emma Mills book for ages, so I was super happy to find this post. Now I’m just deciding which to read first! 😄 Everyone says Foolish Hearts is her best, so I’m not sure whether to start with that, or save it for last! 🤔❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hmm, that’s a good question! Maybe start somewhere else – whichever you’re interested in, but probably not First & Then, lol. It wasn’t awful by any means, because Ezra and Foster were INCREDIBLE, but the MC was eh. So while it’s not a good start, imo, if you do get into Emma Mills, I think you should consider reading it. 🙂 So one of the middle three is probably the way to go. Hope that helps. 🙂


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