Monday, January 11, 2016

Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

Title: Firsts
Author: Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Release Date: January 5, 2016
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
Seventeen-year-old Mercedes Ayres has an open-door policy when it comes to her bedroom, but only if the guy fulfills a specific criteria: he has to be a virgin. Mercedes lets the boys get their awkward, fumbling first times over with, and all she asks in return is that they give their girlfriends the perfect first time—the kind Mercedes never had herself. 

Keeping what goes on in her bedroom a secret has been easy—so far. Her absentee mother isn’t home nearly enough to know about Mercedes’ extracurricular activities, and her uber-religious best friend, Angela, won’t even say the word “sex” until she gets married. But Mercedes doesn’t bank on Angela’s boyfriend finding out about her services and wanting a turn—or on Zach, who likes her for who she is instead of what she can do in bed.

When Mercedes’ perfect system falls apart, she has to find a way to salvage her reputation and figure out where her heart really belongs in the process. Funny, smart, and true-to-life, FIRSTS is a one-of-kind young adult novel about growing up.

From the first moment I heard about Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn, I just knew that I had to read it. When I started seeing what other people were saying about it, it just reinforced that desire to read the book. And now that I’ve read it, I can say that it was everything I hoped it would be.

Mercedes isn’t shy when it comes to sex and she’s willing to help those who need. Her one condition when boys seek her help is that they be virgins and that they treat their girlfriends right when they give them their first time. That’s all she asks for. The one thing she never had. No one has ever suspected what Mercedes is up to, and her system is working. Or it would be working if she had been able to stop after helping five boys, like she had told herself she would. But now she’s helped ten boys and her best friend’s boyfriend is seeking out her help. And then there’s Zach, the one boy who doesn’t want Mercedes’s help but actually wants her for who she is. Mercedes had a system and it was working. But now that it’s fallen apart, she isn’t sure how to handle all the fallout. 

From the moment I first heard about Laurie Elizabeth Flynn’s Firsts, I knew I had to read it. It sounded so different from other YA books out there and like it could be a very powerful read. It was certainly both of those things. And on top of that, it was absolutely my kind of book. I will say straight off the bat that Firsts won’t be for everyone. There are people who will read the synopsis and it will immediately make them not want to read this book. And that makes me sad on so many levels because this is such an important and powerful story. There were plenty of times when Firsts wasn’t easy to read. Because of the subject matter it dealt with. Because I wanted so much for Mercedes. And because the story was real. And I’m realizing as I’m sitting here, trying to write this story, that Firsts is hard to put into words. Especially because I don’t want to give too much away, since everyone should read this story the way I did: without knowing anything beyond the synopsis.

Mercedes is the definition of a flawed character. And she’s the kind of character that a lot of people are going to have trouble liking. But her imperfection is what makes her so perfect. And it’s what made Mercedes feel so real as I was reading. So it should go without saying that I loved Mercedes and all her flaws, and I wanted so much for her. Even though I didn’t agree with what she was doing, I understood why she was doing it. And it broke my heart a little. And it made me want so much for her. And I wanted so badly for her to realize that Zach was perfect for her and that he wanted her for who she was. And can I just take a moment to share my love for Zach? Because I really, really loved Zach. And for much of the book, I was just waiting for Mercedes to come to the same conclusion about him I had. And Faye was pretty much the perfect friend for Mercedes. Mercedes just had to realize all that for herself. 

I can’t say enough good things about Laurie Elizabeth Flynn’s Firsts. This is an important story that I fully believe everyone needs to read. It was real, it was heartbreaking, it was touching. It was just a perfect story where I’m concerned. 

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Saturday, January 2, 2016

Most Anticipated of 2016

A few days ago, I posted about my 20 (well, 23, technically) favourite books of 2015. And it was hard limiting that list to just that number. Even harder was choosing just 15 books from 2016 that I'm excited about. If I could, I would just list ALL THE BOOKS. And then there are ones that I know authors are planning but haven't been announced and therefore can't really talk about. But despite all that (and despite wanting to bang my head against the wall in frustration a couple times), I was able to narrow down this list to just 15 books (not really, because, again, I cheated because this is my list and I can do whatever I want with it). Unsurprisingly, there are only two books on this list that aren't contemporary because that's who I've become in the last couple years. But that's besides the point. So in no particular order, here are the 15 books I'm the most excited to read in 2015.

Game On by Michelle Smith - Since Play On was on my best of 2015 list, it shouldn't really be a surprise that I really (REALLY, REALLY) want and am looking forward to Game On. I need to read Eric's story. I wanted to read Eric's story while I was reading Play On (even though I loved Austin and Marisa's story). So yeah, I need Game On.

P.S. I Like You by Kasie West - Kasie West writes some of my favourite lighthearted contemporary stories. Though I still have to read the one that was published this year (I know, I know), I still can't wait for this next one. I just know reading it is going to put a smile on my face.

Traitor's Pyre by Josephine Angelini - I DESPERATELY NEED THIS BOOK. The ending of Firewalker left me begging for Traitor's Pyre. Even if I'm afraid of what Josephine Angelini will do to my heart with this book, I still can't wait to read it. 

When We Collided by Emery Lord - I've actually had a a copy of When We Collided for a few months now and why I still haven't read it, I don't know. But it's an Emery Lord book and I know I'm pretty much guaranteed to love it. 

Out of Frame by Megan Erickson - I absolutely LOVE Megan Erickson's In Focus series. The two books that are already out were some of my favourite books of 2015 and I can't wait to read more in Out of Frame. Though I am a little worried about the emotional rollercoaster these books tend to be.

The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson - You can't really go wrong with a Morgan Matson book. I've pretty much been waiting for a new one since finishing Since You've Been Gone. So The Unexpected Everything can't come soon enough.

All Closed Off by Cora Carmack - IT'S STELLA AND RYAN'S BOOK. Do I really need to add more? If you've read the Rusk University books, you totally know what I'm talking about.

Defending Taylor by Miranda Kenneally - I've yet to be disappointed by a book Miranda Kenneally has written. So Defending Taylor is pretty close to teh top of the list of books I absolutely need in 2016.

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover - I know literally nothing about this book. Only that Colleen Hoover is writing it. And that's pretty much all I need to know where this book is concerned. 

Walk the Edge by Katie McGarry - I've been thinking about Walk the Edge since finishing Nowhere But Here. And it feels like I've been waiting so much longer than I actually have been waiting. Basically, I need Walk the Edge in my life.

Wicked Sexy Liar by Christina Lauren - In the past year I have become a major Christina Lauren fangirl. And I can't even begin to explain how much I need Wicked Sexy Liar. I need Luke and London's story like you wouldn't believe. I just need this book.

Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes - I loved Paula Stokes's The Art of Lainey and reading the description for Girl Against the Universe I just know that it's totally going to be my kind of book, there's no doubt in my mind about it.

Right of First Refusal/Out On Good Behavior by Dahlia Adler - I loved Dahlia Adler's first NA book and I can't wait for the two sequels. I've read an excerpt of Right of First Refusal and it only made me want the book that much more. And I can't wait to read another f/f romance by Dahlia with Out On Good Behavior.

The Inside of Out by Jenn Marie Thorne - The Inside of Out was said to be Meg Cabot meets Glee and that's pretty much all I need to know. A combination of my favourite author and one of my favourite TV shows, this pretty much has my name written all over it.

Inflict by Cora Carmack - This is the second Cora Carmack book on this list and for good reason. I've been DYING to read Inflict from the moment I finished reading Inspire. And now I'm finally close to being able to read it and I can't wait. 

Have you heard of any of the books on this list? Are any of them books you're excited about?

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