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.

Stacking the Shelves #85

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581bc-stsThis feature is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews.

Hi guys!

This month brought me a lot of different books from different sources. If I tried to tell you where each and every one of them came from, it would be a long list. So thank you to my Secret Sister, the various publishers as well as friends, fellow bloggers and my library.

Bought
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The Rose Society (The Young Elites #2) by Marie Lu

Received for Review
-Edelweiss-
TWIUTB
The Way I Used To Be by Amber Smith

-NetGalley-
SBIRLTIWIE
Sanctuary Bay by Laura J. Burns & Melinda Metz
In Real Life by Jessica Love
This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp
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Truthwitch (The Witchlands #1) by Susan Dennard (sneak peek)
Riders (Riders #1) by Veronica Rossi (sneak peek)
The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury (sneak peek)

Publisher
TY
The Yearbook by Carol Masciola

Blog Tour
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Diamonds are Forever (The Secret Diamond Sisters #3) by Michelle Madow
Half in Love With Death by Emily Ross

Gifted
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A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis
Infinity Lost (The Infinity Trilogy #1) by S. Harrison
Design the Life You Love by Ayse Birsel
The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Library
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The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler
Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler
Fixing Delilah by Sarah Ockler
Oblivion by Sasha Dawn
Slasher Girls & Monster Boys by April Genevieve Tucholke

Won
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Cam Girl by Leah Raeder

So let me know if you’ve read any of these or if you plan to soon! Have a fabulous, book filled week, everyone!

2016 ARCs I’m most excited about

Hi guys!

I know there hasn’t been much in the way of book reviews lately. I’ve been in a massive reading slump & with NaNoWriMo going on, I haven’t had much time to actually read. I’ve been in a bit of a reading funk, I guess.

So I wanted to talk about some upcoming 2016 books that I have ARCs for and that I’m excited about.

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Passenger has been one of my most anticipated reads since last May. I would say this is very high on my priority list.
Shade Me has also been a book I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. Synesthesia has always fascinated me and I’m curious to see how that will be handled in the book.
Firsts sounds really good. Very girl power-ish, which excites me. Very sex positive as well, which also excites me.
TIWTWETIWIETMK
This is Where the World Ends has been high on my list since I first found out that Amy was writing a new book. This sounds like something I am going to LOVE. Considering how much I loved her first book, I cannot wait for this one.
This is Where it Ends sounds like a very emotional read, so I am going to have to be in a specific mood for it. It sounds amazing though.
The Mirror King is my most anticipated sequel. Considering where The Orphan Queen left off, I need to get to it soon. Good thing I’m buddy reading it with Mary & Jessica right now.
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The May Queen Murders just sounds awesome. I’m head over heels in love with that cover. So even if I didn’t get an e-ARC of it, I’d probably buy it when it was released.
The Girl From Everywhere has been all over the book blogging community for months. I am super excited to get to it. I can only hope I’m as enamored with it as everyone else is.
Thicker Than Water looks really captivating. I love the cover in all it’s simplicity. Plus it sounds like there’s a lot of secrets between the characters.
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Other Broken Things is Christa’s third book, and I just adore her books. Yes they are dark. Yes the characters aren’t always likable. She has this insane talent that makes me fall in love with her stories no matter how dark they are.

Have you read any of these ARCs yet? If not, are there any that you’re looking forward to the most? If you have read any of these, did you enjoy them?

Stacking the Shelves #84

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581bc-stsThis feature is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews.

This month was a much quieter book month which I can say, thank goodness for.

This month, I bought one book, added two review books & made a library run and picked up a half a dozen books.

I’ve been in a bit of a blogging slump, but I’m not pressuring myself to blog. I’m not going to worry about it anymore.

Bought
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Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1) by Leigh Bardugo

Received for Review
-NetGalley
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Romancing the Dark in the City of Light by Ann Jacobus
Passenger (Passenger #1) by Alexandra Bracken

Library
TWoF4be3e-ictiTA
The Weight of Feathers by Anna Marie McLemore
I Crawl Through It by A. S. King
Torn Away by Jennifer Brown
BETGHL
Bitter End by Jennifer Brown
Those Girls by Chevy Stevens
Hate List by Jennifer Brown

Please let me know if you have read any of these books. I’m very excited to get to them, hopefully soon.

Waiting on Wednesday #18

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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
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.

Review: All the Rage by Courtney Summers

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Book Title: All the Rage
Author: Courtney Summers
Published Date: April 14th, 2015
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Genre: YA Contemporary
Standalone
Book Link: Goodreads
Purchase Links: AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads

The sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything—friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy’s only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous. But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn’t speak up. Nobody believed her the first time—and they certainly won’t now — but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear.

With a shocking conclusion and writing that will absolutely knock you out, All the Rage examines the shame and silence inflicted upon young women after an act of sexual violence, forcing us to ask ourselves: In a culture that refuses to protect its young girls, how can they survive?

Disclaimer: I received this e-ARC from St. Martin’s Griffin via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

Review:

Oh boy, this book. I’m not even sure where to start with this review because I can’t say I enjoyed the book. Considering all the misogyny and victim blaming that happened in this book, to say I enjoyed it, sounds weird.

It evoked a lot of very strong emotions in me, and those are the books I tend to absolutely love. Yet I didn’t totally fall in love with this book. I’m still not sure why not. It had everything I could possibly want, but I still cannot say I loved it.

When I reviewed The Revenge Playbook by Rachael Allen last month, I mentioned how much I hate when boys are treated so much differently than girls. Bonus points if the boy is an athlete or the son of a prominent figure in a small town.

All the Rage features the second example. Kellan is the sherif’fs son, which basically means he’s protected by his father against anyone who would try to ruin his life. Romy’s father was fired by Kellan’s mother, Helen for calling the aformentioned Helen, a derogatory name.

Add that to the fact that Romy tried to tell everyone that Kellan raped her, and  you can see why Romy spends most of the book bottling up her rage.

Now Romy’s father is not in the picture, but her mother and her mother’s boyfriend, Todd are still very much in the picture. I loved Alice and Todd so, so much. Not only were they present in Romy’s life, but they both loved her and worried about her. They supported her when it became clear that sherriff Turner was out to get her. Todd was injured many years ago, and while he’s existing on pain pills and barely able to work, he shows his devotion to Alice and to Romy in both words and actions.

Romy’s mom was incredibly supportive of her daughter, and of however Romy wanted to feel about her dad who was terrifying.

“You feel how you want to feel about your dad. It’s not ever going to be wrong, you understand me?” -Alice-

That part really stuck with me as I have been woefully disappointed by my biological dad and by my ex stepdad. I understood why Alice said that, and it actually reminded me of something my mom said once.

What really made furious was how Romy was treated by everyone else aside from her mom & Todd.  Why the hell would anyone lie about being raped? I mean come on, this town was full of Kellan worshippers and it made me sick to my stomach.  The favoritism made me angry and it made me want to hit something.

And then there was Penny, a missing girl with a complicated past with Romy, and a connection to Kellan, It was obvious to me that the entire town preferred Penny to Romy, and that drove me insane. If Romy had met the same fate that Penny did, these people would be cheering. That realization infuriated me.

There was also Leon, a boy who doesn’t know Romy’s past, and Romy is determined to keep it that way. I felt badly for him because it was obvious that Romy wasn’t letting him in, and she was holding him at arm’s length. Leon was one of the good guys, but at the same time, he was a normal guy. He was kind, sweet and patient, but he also got frustrated with Romy, he questioned why she didn’t seem to want him around her small town,

He takes her to meet his sister Caroline and brother in law, Adam both before and after Caroline gives birth. That’s a big thing for a guy to introduce a girl to his family. Yet, when Romy meets Caroline and Adam the first time, all she can think is:

I hope it’s not a girl

Given how Romy has been treated since she told her small town about what Kellan had done to her, I couldn’t blame her for those thoughts.

After Caroline gives birth and it is a girl, Romy is scared for the infant. She knows better than anyone that  being a girl is hard. It’s hard because  in her world, boys are excused from awful behavior and girls who accuse the golden boys of something, are ostracized.

Because maybe it would be better if we got apologized to first. Maybe it would hurt less, expecting to be hurt.”

I did LOVE the writing.  It was raw, gritty and it totally fit the feel of the book. I am going to give it four stars because it was really, really good. I would definitely recommend it to those who like dark and gritty reads. I feel like it is a must read for high schoolers.

Stacking the Shelves #63

This feature is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews.
Yeah, this week was also not quite as quiet as I was hoping. Most of the reason for this was the massive e-ARC drop by Harper on Edelweiss. I tried to rein myself in, but it just wasn’t possible.
Then I picked up more books at the library, including two that I could just never get into when they were e-ARCs on my Kindle. Hoping to have better luck with them as physical books. I also got a book from a blogger friend that I am very excited about, so thank you Alyssa.

Let’s see what landed on my shelves.

Received for Review

-Edelweiss-

Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge
Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

 

Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider
The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak by Brian Katcher

Things We Know By Heart by Jessi Kirby
Making Pretty by Corey Ann Haydu

 

Proof of Forever by Lexa Hillyer
The Fog Diver Joel Ross

Vanished by E. E. Cooper

-NetGalley-

Dead to Me by Mary McCoy
Library

The Stepsister’s Tale by Tracy Barrett
My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Holiday Stories edited by Stephanie Perkins

Loop (Loop #1) by Karen Akins
Lailah (The Styclar Saga #1) by Nikki Kelly

Exquisite Captive (Dark Caravan Cycle #1) by Heather Demetrios
Talon (Talon #1) by Julie Kagawa

Gifted

Zodiac (Zodiac #1) by Romina Rusell

Be sure to let me know if you’ve read any of these and what you thought of them. Also, leave me the links to your book haul posts & vlogs so I can see what you got this week.
Bloggers Mentioned
Alyssa

Stacking the Shelves #52

This feature is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews.

Hello, awesome week! I thought for sure I was going to have a small haul to show you guys, but that changed when Harper did a monster Edelweiss download. I wish I could say that I was sorry for downloading 10 books, but I’m not sorry. I’ve given up the idea of catching up on my TBR. I also got approved for another Edelweiss title, I got two sneak peeks of upcoming books as well as another approval from NetGalley. I am on the ARC tour for another book and that one arrived this week. I went to the library this week.
Let’s see what goodies landed in my Kindle and on my shelf.
Bought
Received for Review

-Edelweiss-
Remember by Eileen Cook
The Prey (The Hatchery #1) by Tom Isbell
Love and Other Theories by Alexis Bass
Better Than Perfect by Melissa Kantor
The Memory Key by Liana Liu
Playlist for the Dead by Michael Falkoff
The Cemetery Boys by Heather Brewer
Solitare by Alice Oseman
How to Win at High School by Owen Matthews
Twisted Fate by Norah Olson
The Orphan Queen (The Orphan Queen #1) by Jodi Meadows (Sneak Peek)

-NetGalley-
Atlantia by Ally Condie (Sneak Peek)
Stitching Snow by R.C. Lewis

-ARC Tour-

Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer

Won
Gifted
Library 
 
Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour
Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith
Otherbound by Corine Duyvis
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

I’m so excited to devour all of these. Let me know if you’ve read any of these or if you are planning to. Also leave me the links to your Stacking the Shelves posts & vlogs.

Review: Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn

Book Title: Charm & Strange
Author: Stephanie Kuehn
Release Date: June 11th, 2013
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Genre: YA/Contemporary
Standalone
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
When you’ve been kept caged in the dark, it’s impossible to see the forest for the trees. It’s impossible to see anything, really. Not without bars . . . 

Andrew Winston Winters is at war with himself. 

He’s part Win, the lonely teenager exiled to a remote Vermont boarding school in the wake of a family tragedy. The guy who shuts all his classmates out, no matter the cost.

He’s part Drew, the angry young boy with violent impulses that control him. The boy who spent a fateful, long-ago summer with his brother and teenage cousins, only to endure a secret so monstrous it led three children to do the unthinkable. 

Over the course of one night, while stuck at a party deep in the New England woods, Andrew battles both the pain of his past and the isolation of his present. 

Before the sun rises, he’ll either surrender his sanity to the wild darkness inside his mind or make peace with the most elemental of truths—that choosing to live can mean so much more than not dying.

Disclaimer: I received this book for my birthday from a fellow blogger.

Review:
This book is going to be so difficult to review for multiple reasons. It took me on a wild ride that had so many twists and turns and no real answers until the very end. Throughout most of it I was confused, not sure exactly what was going on and sometimes it read much like E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars Not the writing itself but the tone and the location.

This book is written in alternate time periods. Flashing back to that fateful summer and then flashing ahead to current time. Unlike other books, this time period switching was easier to keep track of. It didn’t confuse me. Maybe because the setting was different and the people were different, I’m not quite sure.

I had questions throughout the entire book. I was sure that the secret that Andrew held was something and by the end of the book I had been taken in a completely different and unexpected direction. As I thought about the book and how little clues had been dropped throughout, I realized that the clues were all there, I just was focused on some other reason for Andrew’s behavior. This book requires you to be completely open minded and aware that things aren’t always how they seem.

I thought the character development was well done and that we got to see each of the characters have their own voice and personality.I do wish we had seen more of Siobhan, as she ended up being more important than I ever thought she was.

It was a good book and overall I really did like it,but I think making it longer would have helped. As much as I liked the ending, it sort of seemed rushed to me.I understand not wanting to make it too long and bore the reader, but making it too short can leave some things lacking.

I also didn’t have the feels in this book. Normally I would have expected some sort of feels but nothing this time around. Which is weird as I normally cry during pretty much any book. Not this time. This time I spent most of the book completely confused which makes sense given the way this book was laid out. So I’ll be giving this book 4 stars. Was it great? Yes. Was I pretty damn confused through most of the book? Yes. Would I recommend it? Yes I would. It was an enjoyable book that forces you to keep your mind open.

Stacking the Shelves #28

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This feature is hosted by Tynga of Tynga’s Reviews

Hey everyone, gosh this week has been crazy, upsetting and awesome all at once. Have you ever had a week like that? I hadn’t in a really long time until this week.

Despite my plan to limit the e-ARC’s that I request, I couldn’t help but raid NetGalley this week. I didn’t expect to get approved for the ones that I really wanted but it was worth a shot.However I finished the week with 5 NetGalley grabs including much hyped about, The Winner’s Curse.I got an email Friday morning that NetGalley was allowing access to the first 100 people to click Read Now on The Winner’s Curse. I can still hardly believe that I was able to grab an e-ARC of it. So YAY!

I also grabbed two off of Edelweiss. They both don’t release until June so I’ve got some time on those. I am excited to read them but also relieved that they don’t need to be read this month.

One of my favorite people Meredith of Pandora’s Books insisted on sending me a belated birthday gift. I tried to tell her that she didn’t have to, but she didn’t listen to me. Well when I got the package on Tuesday night, there was a hole in it. I opened it and discovered Charm & Strange which was on my wishlist. I had to DM her on Twitter and ask if there was anything else in the package because of the hole. Of course I didn’t want to sound greedy but I suspected something wasn’t right.

Well turns out a second book escaped somewhere between NY & CA. Yeah that’s a big distance. I was angry on Meredith’s behalf because this girl has a friggin’ heart of gold. Unfortunately crap happens and it sucks but there’s not much you can do about it. I hope whoever has the missing book, is enjoying it.

Enough of my incessant rambling. Here are the books I got this week,

Bought
Received for Review

-Netgalley-
Blur (Blur Trilogy #1) by Stephen James
The Summer I Wasn’t Me by Jessica Verdi
The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick

The Winner’s Curse (The Winner’s Trilogy #1) by Marie Rutkoski

-Edelweiss-

Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern
The Things You Kiss Goodbye Leslie Connor


Gifted 

Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn

Won

Weekly Blog Wrap-Up
Monday- Review of The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
Tuesday- Blog Tour Review of Savor by Kate Evangelista
Wednesday- Review of Where The Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller
Thursday- Review of The Moment Before by Suzy Vitello
Saturday- Review of Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens

Bloggers mentioned
Meredith of Pandora’s Books.

As always, let me know if you’ve read any of these books or if you are wanting to. Also,leave me links to your Stacking the Shelves posts/vlogs etc.