Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn ARC Review

23480844Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Release Date: January 5, 2016

Pages: 320

***Received ARC from author through a Twitter Giveaway***

Summary: 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.

My Rating: Full StarFull StarFull StarFull Starhalf star--Book Blog

***SPOILERS AHEAD***

My Thoughts: This book takes risks! Centering around a topic I have not seen much of in YA, it was a great read.

Mercy is fierce and unconventional, but overall a sympathetic and sincere main character. After a bad “first-time” with a long-gone boyfriend, she uses sex to set things right. Not only to feel in control and prevent herself from getting hurt again, but to help others.

However with that, she finds it difficult to form and develop relationships and find herself in all this.

Laurie does a great job with writing complex and realistic relationships (Family/Friends/Romantic).

Through Mercy’s eyes, we see how she handles relationships with her parents, Zach, Faye, and Angela. And as the book progresses, we see how her “open-door policy” causes her to reveal the depth and strength in these relationships she struggles with!

I did feel at times the book’s pacing was quite slow and the story seemed to drag at some points, but overall every other part of this book was great!

This book brings light to many topics that aren’t normally talked about in YA, such as virginity and pressures to have sex. But also shows themes of family and friendship that are prevalent all throughout.

This brave, fierce and honest debut will stay with you long after its over!

And I also created a Desktop Wallpaper :

Feel free to download/share it 🙂

Firsts Laurie Elizabeth Flynn Desktop Wallpaper

 

 

 

Least Favorite Books of 2015

For Top 10 Tuesday over a week ago, I shared my Top books of 2015!

However, today I will be sharing with you my least favorite books of 2015.

Not every book is for every reader and sadly there were some books that disappointed me this year! Here is my list (In no particular order) *Spoilers Ahead*

173325641.How To Love by Katie Cotugno

The premise of this book sounded interesting to read about, but I just struggled to get through it and found the before/after pov made the story lag. I also really did not like the main love interest Sawyer! His decisions/actions really ruined Reena’s life and there wasn’t really anything that made me like him at all!

Sadly this book wasn’t for me.

17234658.jpg2. A Thousand Pieces Of You by Claudia Gray (Firebird #1)

I did enjoy the aspect of time-travel/alternate dimensions! However, what made this book a disappointment for me was the characters. The main character Margeuerite, just gets stuck in a love triangle w/ Paul& Theo! The romantic sub-plot really ruined this book for me. There was a lot of potential plot-wise, but was overshadowed by a love triangle/romance.

208213063. Zodiac by Romina Russell (Zodiac #1)

I really did enjoy the world of this story, but similar to #2, the love story ruined it! I read this book right after A Thousand Pieces Of You and seriously felt I read the same book all over again. We are introduced into an interesting world/story potential, but gets overshadowed by a romance.

 

17331819.jpg4. Reawakened by Colleen Houck (Reawakened #1)

What made this book a disappointment for me was Lily as a character. She felt like a mary-sue to me and her attitude/decisions made me roll my eyes while reading this book. Not only that, but this was basically The Tigers Curse, just w/ Egyptian mythology instead of Indian Mythology and just found it to be the same story all over again.

 

tumblr_nmkditGhQ61snf6rko1_12805. Truthwtich by Susan Dennard (Witchlands #1)  ARC

Spoiler-Free ARC Review

Sadly I found this book to be a disappointment. The pre-release hype I felt, really ruined this reading experience for me. I had my expectations set really high and was really let down. Its weird, but I felt there was plot but not enough if that makes sense?  And sadly, the the world building, while interesting, felt under developed. However, the ending has me eager to continue so hopefully book 2 gets me to like this series like so many already do!

Least Favorite Books of 2015.jpg

Did you have any disappointing reads this year?

Did any of your disappointing reads match mine? 🙂

Interview w/ Alwyn Hamilton {Author Interview #1}

Alwyn_author_photoMerry Christmas everyone! 🙂

I’m very excited to have debut author Alwyn Hamilton on my blog today to talk about her upcoming YA Fantasy, Rebel Of The Sands!

Quick Author Bio:  Alwyn Hamilton was born in Toronto and spent her childhood bouncing between Europe and Canada until her parents settled in France. She grew up in a small town there, and attempted to read and write her way to new places, developing a weakness for fantasy and cross-dressing heroines. She left France for Cambridge University to study History of Art at King’s College, and then to London where she works for an auction house. (source: TheSweetSixteens)

Her book sounds absolutely amazing and has been one I have been highly anticipating! & If you are interested I also featured Rebel in a Waiting On Wednesday post! 🙂

If you haven’t already, definitely add her book to your 2016 TBR!

With that said, on with the interview:

  1. I cannot wait to read your book! Its at my number one spot for 2016. For those who don’t know, what is your book about?

Thank you so much! REBEL OF THE SANDS is a Wild West meets Arabian Nights, YA Fantasy. Amani Al’Hiza is a sixteen year old sharpshooter from a dead end desert town who dreams of escape. Her fate becomes tangled with a rakish foreigner who is keeping secrets and the pair wind up on the run across a desert crawling with dangers, pursued by the Sultan’s Army.

 

  1. Not only does the story sound fantastic, but the cover is absolutely beautiful! Did you have input when it came to the cover design?

I had a tiny amount of input with my agent, but it mostly just involved some tiny tweaks but mostly I just left it to the experts. I actively avoided trying to imagine a cover before seeing anything, because I knew if I got stuck in an idea of what it should look like I’d risk being disappointed by the final result. I feel so lucky because I absolutely love my cover, so any feedback I gave was mostly exclamation marks.

Penguin did an amazing job w/ the cover! ❤ Here it is: 

9780451477538

3. Did you always want to be an author?

Yes, for as long as I can remember. I always wrote. Somewhere my parents still have the story I  wrote when I was about 5 or 6, called “The Tangle Monster” about a monster who would tangle a little girls’ hair. My mother typed that up. Then when I got a little bit older I would write long rambling multiple POV fantasies that were going nowhere. Though I did go through a brief period in my teenage years when I convinced myself I should aspire to do something sensible but creative (like work in advertising, or TV).

Its great that your dream has come true! 

 

4. How has the road to publication been from when you got the idea, to now awaiting the book’s release in just a few months?

Very different in places! I started this book off writing it by myself with no knowledge that it was going to become anything, and that was long and kind of meandering because I was working to my own pace and no deadlines. And then I signed with my agent and suddenly everything started happening very quickly! It’s a different, winding road for everyone I think.

 

  1. What inspired you to write this story? Was there a lot of research involved?

I originally had the idea to write a Western about a girl with a gun, but I didn’t actually want to be constrained by the real world in terms of history or lack of magic. So while trying to figure out what I wanted to combine it with the idea struck me to combine it with the mythology of the 1001 Nights because of the desert element in both.

I’d say I did a lot of very ad hoc research. I did a lot of reading of folk tales and travel accounts and histories so on to get a real feel for what I was writing about in general. But I also sometimes just had to sit down and look up what the clothing or food might be. And then there’s the advantage of getting to make a lot of things up when you’re writing Fantasy.

What a unique mix of genres!

 

  1.  Is there any place Miraji was modeled after in particular? & What inspired you to add djinni into this story?

Miraji has elements from a lot of different cultures and some I’ve made up too. It’s an amalgamation of the desert of the wild west and of the countries in the Arabian Peninsula, with some Turkish Elements and some vibes of the Napoleonic occupation of Egypt. But mostly it’s pulled from folktales and fairytales and legends. And that’s where a lot of the magical elements like the Djinni, come from, the inspiration drew from a mythical version of Arabia to set the story in.

Wow! Its amazing you were able to blend many cultures and weave it into Rebel!

 

  1. How many books are planned/ currently in the works for Rebel Of The Sands?

REBEL OF THE SANDS is currently first in a trilogy. I’m working on the 2nd one at the moment.

Wow! Starting book 2 already? Hope its going well! 🙂

 

  1. With Rebel Of The Sands being YA, do have any favorite YA books?

I have hundreds! I don’t think anything has stuck with me or shaped me like the YA that I read when I was an actual teenager though. ELLA ENCHANTED by Gail Carson Levine, THE HERO AND THE CROWN by Robin McKinley, ARROWS OF THE QUEEN by Mercedes Lackey and ALANNA by Tamora Pierce all stand out.

In newer YA I love Rae Carson’s GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS, Marie Rutkoski’s THE WINNER’S CURSE, Leigh Bardugo’s GRISHA series and Marie Lu’s LEGEND stand out.

So many great choices! I love Legend & The Winners Curse too ❤ ❤

 

  1. What was your writing process like for Rebel?

Any tips for aspiring writers?

I think everyone writes differently. I tend to let the story live in my head for a very long time. I play with ideas and characters and imagine scenes which are disconnected at first and then start linking them up with plot. When I get down to writing it means I have most of the pillars in my head so I know where I’m going and what’s on the way. I tend to create one draft which is essentially scaffolding, and then go back and make the words better.

I think the one tip I would give writers is make sure you have a story going in and not just an idea, they seem similar but one will take you all the way to the end of the book, and the other fizzles out pretty quickly.

Great advice!  & final question:

  1. Do you have a favorite character you are excited to introduce to readers? (mini-spoiler)***

Jin seems to be a favourite among early readers, so am excited for rest of the world to meet him. But Shazad, who is introduced towards the end of the book, is maybe my favourite character to write and I hope people enjoy meeting her too!

Can’t wait to meet all these wonderful characters! 🙂

Thank you for this wonderful interview Alwyn!

Rebel Of The Sands Comes Out March 8, 2016! 

 

 

 

Winners Kiss Cover Re-Do

Remember a little over a week ago when I posted this:

Winner’s Curse Trilogy Cover Change?

Well I’m happy to announce that the publisher will bring back the original cover! ❤ ❤

Its nice that the publisher considered how the readers felt and changed them back! 🙂

Winners Trilogy

 

However, for the paperbacks, those will be re-released with the new covers!

Its b/c of readers/fans, that the original  covers are coming back!

I’m so happy ❤ ❤

With that said, if you haven’t read this trilogy yet, what are you waiting for? Pick it up! ❤

The Winners Kiss (The Winner’s Curse #3) will be out March 29, 2016!

Top 10 Books I Wouldn’t Mind Santa Leaving Under My Tree This Year

As always, Top 10 Tuesday was created by The Broke And The Bookish 🙂

With Christmas just a few days away, here are some books I would love to find under my xmas tree this year 😀

631.Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

This YA contemporary is one I would consider an all-time favorite! I got through it in about a day & I absolutely loved it! Everything about this book was amazing from writing style, to characters and plot ❤

 

252231152. Just Visiting by Dahlia Adler

I have yet to read a book by Dahlia! I’ve heard great things about her books &  once I read the synopsis for this one, I knew I had to read it! So hopefully I get this book for x-mas 🙂

 

97815947478923. The Fangirl’s Geek Guide To The Galaxy: A handbook for Geek Girls by Sam Maggs

Similar to Bone Gap, I read this book basically in one sitting b/c it was so good! And now I really need to have my own copy of this book!

From the title I’m sure you can tell what this book is about, but honestly if the cover doesn’t draw you in, the summary will!

Summary: Fanfic, cosplay, cons, books, memes, podcasts, vlogs, OTPs and RPGs and MMOs and more—it’s never been a better time to be a girl geek. The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy is the ultimate handbook for ladies living the nerdy life, a fun and feminist take on the often male-dominated world of geekdom. With delightful illustrations and an unabashed love for all the in(ternet)s and outs of geek culture, this book is packed with tips, playthroughs, and cheat codes for everything from starting an online fan community to planning a convention visit to supporting fellow female geeks in the wild.

ThePiratesWish-144dpi.jpg4. The Pirates Wish by Cassandra Rose Clarke

This book is a sequel to a book I already own called The Assassin’s Curse! Having read it already,  I would really just love to complete my collection!

 

Those are the books I would love to find under my tree for X-mas! 🙂

If you have any books you would love for X-mas this year, feel free to comment below 🙂

 

This Raging Light by Estelle Laure ARC Review

23208417Publisher: HMH Books For Young Readers

Release Date: December 22, 2015

Pages: 288

***Received ARC through publisher’s Twitter Giveaway***

Summary: Can the best thing happen at the worst time?  Her dad went crazy. Her mom left town. She has bills to pay and a little sister to look after. Now is not the time for level-headed seventeen-year-old Lucille to fall in love. But love—messy, inconvenient love—is what she’s about to experience when she falls for Digby Jones, her best friend’s brother. With blazing longing that builds to a fever pitch, Estelle Laure’s soulful debut will keep readers hooked and hoping until the very last page.

My Rating: Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarFull Star

***SPOILERS AHEAD***

My Thoughts: I loved this book so much! Lucille struggled to support herself, take care of her sister , all while unraveling the mystery of where her mom went.

What really made this book stand out from other YA contemporaries I have read, was Estelle’s writing style! There were many quotes/scenes that had eloquent writing and really captured how Lucille felt and showed the raw reality of what this situation was doing to her!

However, along the way she learns to accept help from others like Digby, Eden & her other neighbors!

This book has many underlying messages about family, relationships and the strength we have within ourselves.

With that said, the unanswered questions we have by the end, like “Where is Lucille’s mom?” “Will Lucille and Eden’s friendship patch up?” in my opinion, strengthened this story! It showed that sometimes life isn’t always perfect, but that’s why you have to keep going and not give up when something brings you down!

This lyrical and thoughtful debut left me hopeful and eagerly awaiting what Estelle will be writing next. She is definitely an author to look out for!

 

Fire Falling Playlist

Fire Falling Playlist LogoOne thing you should know about me is, I am a big FF/KH fan! While I love the games, I also love the music (OSTs)!

So today I am going to share a playlist I created w/ songs I listened to while reading Fire Falling  😀

Hope you enjoy 🙂

 

 

 

Thoughts on this playlist? 🙂

 

 

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard Spoiler-Free ARC Review

tumblr_nmkditGhQ61snf6rko1_1280Truthwitch by Susan Dennard (The Witchlands #1)

Publisher: Tor Teen

Release Date: January 5, 2016

Pages: 416

***Received ARC from a Goodreads Giveaway***

Summary:  On a continent ruled by three empires, some are born with a “witchery”, a magical skill that sets them apart from others.

In the Witchlands, there are almost as many types of magic as there are ways to get in trouble—as two desperate young women know all too well.

Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. It’s a powerful magic that many would kill to have on their side, especially amongst the nobility to which Safi was born. So Safi must keep her gift hidden, lest she be used as a pawn in the struggle between empires.

Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around her—but she cannot see the bonds that touch her own heart. Her unlikely friendship with Safi has taken her from life as an outcast into one of reckless adventure, where she is a cool, wary balance to Safi’s hotheaded impulsiveness.

Safi and Iseult just want to be free to live their own lives, but war is coming to the Witchlands. With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and ship’s captain) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must fight emperors, princes, and mercenaries alike, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

My Rating: Full StarFull StarFull Starhalf star--Book Blog

Even though I did not give this book 5 stars, I still really enjoyed reading it.

Susan introduces a complex world with politics and magic that are prevalent all through out the novel.

The idea of these witches was very unique and unlike anything I had ever read in a fantasy before.

The characters, world, etc. are complex and Susan shows that wonderfully through her writing style.

What made this book difficult to get through was the pacing and world building.

I felt that I got put into this world so quickly and I wasn’t given much  to the world/magic system. It felt like I had more of a broad overview and not much of a detailed explanation.

I also felt at times the pacing was slow and it really took me a while to get through it.

However, this book overall has really great elements that work well together, I personally just found it hard to connect it all.

While this book wasn’t necessarily for me, I still think you should have this book on your TBR for 2016 if you love YA Fantasy, friendship, and intricate plots/worlds! 🙂

Even though it wasn’t a 5-star book for me, the ending really had me interested and I still plan to read the next book to see where its headed 🙂

***Full ARC Review to come***

If you’ve read this book/plan to, have any additional thoughts? 🙂

 

 

Winners Curse Trilogy Cover Change

Fierce Reads (Imprint of Macmillan) had news for fans of The Winners Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski today.

1.The Winner’s Kiss excerpt

& 2…..

Cover changes.

On twitter, people expressed their anger and disappointment over the cover change.

I was more an observer, but I too was disappointed.

The original covers portrayed this story and Kestrel (the main heroine) much better than the new covers!

Winners Trilogy

Also, the style/presentation of the original cover is what drew me to the trilogy in the first place.

People also compared the new covers to a now, quite popular fantasy series:

Marie Rutkoski Cover Change

Overall this cover change is a big let down 😥

Well there are many reasons for cover changes. Maybe the publisher wants to find a new/wider demographic? Or maybe the series wasn’t selling as much? Who knows :/

But looking at the positives, the story obviously isn’t changing so maybe a cover change isn’t so bad & I’m sure I can buy the books w/ the original cover online! 🙂

I would love to hear your thoughts!

How do you feel about this cover change??

Are you a fan of this series & have thoughts on it??  🙂

***UPDATE: The publishers have kept the original cover for The Winners Kiss, but do plan to re-release The Winners Trilogy w/ the new covers!

**For The Winners Curse/Crime, the new paperbacks can now be found in stores

Book Mail l #1

Bookmail is a new post on my blog to show the ARCs/Book Swag I receive from authors.

***Received ARC through a twitter giveaway***

***Received letter/bookmark through author’s twitter***

Today I would love to share w/ you the book swag/ arc I got last month 🙂

Bookmail #11.The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig Bookmark & Letter

2. A Fierce And Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry ARC

Both of these books are YA Debuts coming next year!

If you have not yet added these books to your TBR for 2016, I highly recommend you do 🙂

Thank you to the wonderful authors who sent me these this month! 🙂

I featured The Girl From Everywhere in a Waiting On Wednesday.

And if you are interested, I have a Spoiler-Free ARC review of A Fierce And Subtle Poison.

Have you added these books to your 2016 TBR? 

Is BookMail a fun post to see? 🙂