SST: The Love That Split The World by Emily Henry

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Goodreads

Synopsis (GR):
Natalie Cleary must risk her future and leap blindly into a vast unknown for the chance to build a new world with the boy she loves.

Natalie’s last summer in her small Kentucky hometown is off to a magical start…until she starts seeing the “wrong things.” They’re just momentary glimpses at first—her front door is red instead of its usual green, there’s a pre-school where the garden store should be. But then her whole town disappears for hours, fading away into rolling hills and grazing buffalo, and Nat knows something isn’t right.

That’s when she gets a visit from the kind but mysterious apparition she calls “Grandmother,” who tells her: “You have three months to save him.” The next night, under the stadium lights of the high school football field, she meets a beautiful boy named Beau, and it’s as if time just stops and nothing exists. Nothing, except Natalie and Beau.

Emily Henry’s stunning debut novel is Friday Night Lights meets The Time Traveler’s Wife, and perfectly captures those bittersweet months after high school, when we dream not only of the future, but of all the roads and paths we’ve left untaken.

Review
Guys, if this book is ANY indication of how awesome 2016 releases are gonna be, it’s going to be a GREAT year for books. Not so much for my wallet though.

Now the synopsis hints at something being “off” but I had no idea that it was a time travel book until I started reading. Come to think of it, I don’t think I even really read the synopsis before I started reading. I was thrilled that it was a time travel book because time travel is one of the most fascinating things to me in the world.

Natalie was instantly likeable to me and that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes it takes me awhile to warm up to the main character. But not this time. I also really liked Grandmother, I found her to be fascinating and when Natalie would recount her stories, I found myself excited to keep reading. Normally having a character recount someone else’s stories would bore me, but not this time. Not with Natalie and Grandmother.

I loved that Natalie was adopted and that she was Native American. We don’t get a lot of Native American representation in YA, so this was really awesome to see. YAY for diversity! We definitely need more Native American representation in YA.

I was also worried that this book would focus “too much” on the romance aspect and that would ruin the book for me. I’m not one for the fluffy stuff. Yes this book had a lot of romance in it, but the time travel aspect of it made it much better. It was more compelling and I found myself excited to read and that’s a feeling I haven’t had lately.

I did like the romance between Natalie & Beau, but I didn’t love it. I know several people who mentioned the romance seemed a little insta-lovey. I didn’t see that, but I also felt like Beau’s development wasn’t as strong as it could have been. There were times that he seemed a bit bland to me. He was infinitely better than Natalie’s ex, Matt.

Matt was a piece of crap. Not only did he get physically rough with Natalie, but he also attempted to rape her. We later find out that he has issues, but that’s no excuse for the abhorrent way he treated Natalie.

Alice Chan was one of the side characters who was attempting to help Natalie figure everything out. I loved Alice. She was very fascinating and I found myself hanging on to her every word as she worked to uncover the reason behind Grandmother’s appearances and the reason behind Natalie slipping through time.

The writing was utterly gorgeous and I think that was one of the reasons I fell head over heels for this book.The writing helped pull me into the world that Henry created. The writing  actually made me want to STAY in this world. Well that and the cover. The cover is unique, eye catching and all around perfection. Whoever designed this cover is a freaking GENIUS.

Highly recommend this book. Pre-order it now.

About the Author:
Emily Henry is full-time writer, proofreader, and donut connoisseur. She studied creative writing at Hope College and the New York Center for Art & Media Studies, and now spends most of her time in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the part of Kentucky just beneath it. She tweets @EmilyHenryWrite.

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Review: Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

FIRSTS

Book Title: Firsts
Author: Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
Published Date: January 5th, 2016
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Genre: YA Contemporary
Standalone
Book Link: Goodreads
Purchase Links: AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads
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-a-kind young adult novel about growing up.

Disclaimer: I received an e-ARC of this book from St. Martin’s Griffin via NetGalley.

Review
I think I underestimated the book and it’s importance. Because it is such an important book. It tackles friendships, sexuality and the infuriating truth that are double standards.

Mercedes is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s totally fine. People aren’t going to be okay with the fact that she basically helped these guys cheat on their girlfriends. As someone who has experience with cheating boyfriends, it took me a little while to get my head wrapped around Mercedes’ idea. It was a little uncomfortable to me for awhile, but I pushed through the discomfort because I was so insanely excited for this book.

I was really excited to see strong female friendships, not so much with Mercedes & her friend Angela, but with Mercedes and the new girl, Faye. I actually took to Faye immediately and even though I could tell Mercedes really didn’t want to let anyone else into her life, I was hoping she’d let Faye in. What I wasn’t expecting was the Mercedes/Faye flirtation throughout the book, but oh my god, did I love that.

Tonight was weird. Maybe I’m reading too much into it. This could very well be what regular teenagers do every day. But something was weird. I felt wanted.

What this book also did was explore the rage-inducing double standards that teen girls still experience today. Boys are applauded for having sex, girls are criticized for having sex. Boys are studs and girls are sluts. How does that make any sense? It’s no longer the 1950’s. Big surprise, even girls like sex.

I wasn’t sure how to feel about Angela’s boyfriend Charlie. Alarm bells related to him didn’t go off for a long time. But when they did, they rang like the church bells in The Sound of Music. I started getting a knot in my stomach around 70% through the book, and the knot did not go away through the rest of the book.

I’m torn on the romance aspect. On one hand, I really liked Zach and I loved how good he was to Mercedes. She really needed that. At the same time, I almost feel like the thing with Zach weakened the book for me. Like they were better friends than a couple. I think I’m the only one to feel like this though.

Yes, Mercedes had character flaws, but I think that’s what made me adore her even more. She was flawed, and awesome and I saw quite a bit of myself in her, and that surprised me. I didn’t expect to relate to her, but I did.

“…Nothing you do will make him leave, no matter how many times you push him away. And you’ll never have to be afraid of him.”

This book is so important to all teenagers, both boys and girls. I totally recommend this book to teenagers and adults alike. Give it a shot, it may surprise you like it surprised me.

Waiting On Wednesday #25

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This feature is hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine. It’s a way to showcase upcoming titles that we’re excited about.

My Pick
UNDERWATER
Book Link: 
Goodreads

Synopsis from Goodreads
Morgan didn’t mean to do anything wrong that day. Actually, she meant to do something right. But her kind act inadvertently played a role in a deadly tragedy. In order to move on, Morgan must learn to forgive—first someone who did something that might be unforgivable, and then, herself.

But Morgan can’t move on. She can’t even move beyond the front door of the apartment she shares with her mother and little brother. Morgan feels like she’s underwater, unable to surface. Unable to see her friends. Unable to go to school.

When it seems Morgan can’t hold her breath any longer, a new boy moves in next door. Evan reminds her of the salty ocean air and the rush she used to get from swimming. He might be just what she needs to help her reconnect with the world outside.

Underwater is a powerful, hopeful debut novel about redemption, recovery, and finding the strength it takes to face your past and move on.

My Thoughts
This book wasn’t even on my radar until recently. I happened to see it on someone else’s social media (Instagram, I think?) and I went to look it up. After reading the synopsis, I knew I had to read this book. It looks right up my alley. It looks like a hard read, emotionally, but I love those kinds of books.

What book are you looking forward to the most?

Waiting On Wednesday #19

97524-wowThis feature is hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine. It’s a way to showcase upcoming releases that we’re excited about.

My Pick
SM
Book Link: Goodreads

Synopsis from Goodreads
Nikki Kill does not see the world like everyone else. In her eyes, happiness is pink, sadness is a mixture of brown and green, and lies are gray. Thanks to a rare phenomenon called synesthesia, Nikki’s senses overlap, in a way that both comforts and overwhelms her.

Always an outsider, just one ‘D’ shy of flunking out, Nikki’s life is on the fast track to nowhere until the night a mysterious call lights her phone up bright orange—the color of emergencies. It’s the local hospital. They need Nikki to identify a Jane Doe who is barely hanging on to life after a horrible attack.

The victim is Peyton Hollis, a popular girl from Nikki’s school who Nikki hardly knows. One thing is clear: Someone wants Peyton dead. But why? And why was Nikki’s cell the only number in Peyton’s phone?

As she tries to decipher the strange kaleidoscope of clues, Nikki finds herself thrust into the dark, glittering world of the ultra-rich Hollis family, and drawn towards Peyton’s handsome, never-do-well older brother Dru. While Nikki’s colors seem to help her unravel the puzzle, what she can’t see is that she may be falling into a trap. The only truth she can be sure of is that death is a deep, pulsing crimson.

Shade Me is award-winning author Jennifer Brown’s first book in a thrilling suspense series about Nikki Kill.

My Thoughts
Do I have to have thoughts other than, gimmie this book? Because, really that is my only thought. Synesthesia has always fascinated me. I gobble up any documentaries about this. So of course, I’m excited about this book. Plus it’s supposed to be a suspenseful book. That makes me even more excited. Plus, that cover is gorgeous.

What book are you looking forward to?

Waiting on Wednesday #18

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97524-wow

This feature is hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine. It’s a way to showcase upcoming titles that we’re excited about.

My Pick
FIRSTS
Firsts

Synopsis
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-a-kind young adult novel about growing up.

My Thoughts
I am so insanely excited for this book. I love the sex positive message I’m getting from it. Society tells girls that they shouldn’t want sex. That it’s unfeminine to be sexual. Society tells us that only men want sex and women should just give it to them whenever they want it. This book shows a teenager who is taking control of her sexual experiences after her first time was not all she thought it would be.