Thursday, February 11, 2016

Hello everyone,
I am so excited to be part of the The Winner's Kiss blog tour! I absolutely love The Winner's Trilogy, and I am counting down the days until I can get my hands on my beautiful hardcover copy. Because even though the lovely people of Macmillan kindly sent the participants of this blog tour e-ARCs, I need to read how everything ends and what will happen to Arin and Kestrel with the physical book in my hands.

Okay, just in case you haven't seen the gorgeous The Winner's Kiss book cover or read the synopsis, here it is.

War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it with untrustworthy new allies and the empire as his enemy. Though he has convinced himself that he no longer loves Kestrel, Arin hasn’t forgotten her, or how she became exactly the kind of person he has always despised. She cared more for the empire than she did for the lives of innocent people—and certainly more than she did for him.

At least, that’s what he thinks.

In the frozen north, Kestrel is a prisoner in a brutal work camp. As she searches desperately for a way to escape, she wishes Arin could know what she sacrificed for him. She wishes she could make the empire pay for what they’ve done to her.

But no one gets what they want just by wishing.

As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover that the world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and they are caught in between. With so much to lose, can anybody really win?

So gorgeous! I can't get over this cover and I wait to get my hands on my copy so I can stare at that red dress.

For the blog tour, we were asked to share our favorite literary kiss: what is it in, who's involved in the kiss, and why is it my favorite. Of course, the first book that came to mind was Pride and Prejudice. Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth and their kiss in the end that I've anticipated since the moment they met is one of my absolute favorite literary kisses. But that's such as cliche answer so I decided to feature one of my other [more modern] more steamier of literary kisses...

What book is your favorite literary kiss in?
Not from one book, but from a series--The Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi.

Who is kissing?
Juliette and Warner (Of course! Adam is bleh.)

Why is it your favorite?
I read the Shatter Me series about a year ago, so I was a bit late to the series. But before I even picked it up I kept hearing people talking about Warner and how they ship him with Juliet. After I read Shatter Me, I was confused why people would ship Warner with Juliette--the guy was awful! But at the same time, I didn't let myself get too attached to Adam (Juliette's other love interest) because even though Warner was awful in the first book I was still kind of rooting for him. I mean, all the Warner shippers (which was basically everybody) couldn't be wrong right?!

Warner and Juliette actually passionately made-out kissed for the first time at the end of Shatter Me, but despite her discovering that there's this strong sexy connection between her and Warner when they kissed, she did it to distract him so she and Adam can escape. So, that was not my favorite kiss.

My favorite kiss between Juliette and Warner happened in book 2, Unravel Me. Chapter 62, to be exact. Warner was at his sweetest, most open, and most sensitive in this scene. I swooned, you guys. It's my favorite kiss in the whole series even though Juliette goes and ruins it in the end by calling Adam's name... URGH!!

And of course there were more kissing scenes between Juliette and Warner in Ignite Me and I love those as well. But, nothing beats Chapter 62 in Unravel Me (despite Juliette's horridness--I really hated her after).

**Forgive all the kissing Frary gifs. I love this couple! I stopped watching Reign after season 1 (because I heard their relationship deteriorates in the later seasons) so they are forever my OTP and I pretend they live happily ever after.

Bonus Question: What kiss do you hope will occur in Marie Rutkoski's The Winner's Kiss?
ALL of the Arin and Kestrel kisses. I hope there will be a lot of kissing between them.

What about you guys? What book has your favorite literary kiss in?

Happy reading,

P.S. If you want to fangirl about Arin and Kestrel, Warner and Juliette, and/or Francis and Mary, I'm @chelleyreads on Twitter. ;)

Daphne, consider yourself kissed.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Review: From the Page Bookish Candles

Tuesday, February 9, 2016 with
Hello everyone,
If you had a chance to stop by my Instagram page, you know that candles are my new obsession. And not just any kind of candles either--I can't get enough bookish candles. Today, I'm going to be reviewing one of my first bookish candle orders from Etsy.

Etsy ShopFrom the Page

Type: 8 ounce 1 wick soy candle

Fragrance: I got Leather Bound Books, 221B Baker Street, and Hobbiton.

Cost: $11.00 each (But there is a "Pick Three" option where you can mix and match 3 scents for $31.00, which I did to save a couple dollars.)

The candles came in 8 ounce glass jars with a silver lid. The jars feel very sturdy and they taper off a bit so you can rest the jar on the lid while you're using the candle, which is nice. This way I don't misplace lids.

The candles do come in different colors, depending on the theme. There's also a label on the glass jar with the candle's name and the scents, which I really appreciated, and a cute little picture that usually match the color of the candle.

While nothing extraordinary, the packaging is attractive and practical.

Overall, the scent strength of the three candles I purchased were above average. They weren't overwhelmingly strong, but I could can smell them from across a medium-sized room so the throw is much to my satisfaction.

221B Baker Street (black currant tea and leather)
This one is my favorite scent of the three. I love burning this one--it's really the perfect scent for a quiet reading night at home on the couch. It's a sweeter, less muskier, more feminine version of Leather Bound Books. It's very pleasant and relaxing--the smell of leather is still there, but it's secondary to the lovely smell of the black currant tea.

Leather Bound Books (leather with hints of musk and vanilla)
This one took some getting used to. The first time I took a whiff of it, I wasn't sure I was going to like it because while I like the leather smell by itself, the combination of vanilla gave it this sweet, leathery smell that didn't quite appeal to me. However, once I started burning it, it wasn't quite so pungent like smelling it from the jar.

Hobbiton (meadow and English garden)
This was my least favorite of the three in terms of scent. I was most excited for this one because I heard others describe it as having a freshly-mown grass smell, but all I got was a masculine soap smell--it really reminded me of an Irish Spring soap scent, which I don't enjoy. I immediately gave it to my dad, who loves the scent of it. If you like the smell of Irish Spring soap like my dad you'll enjoy this one, but it wasn't for me.

Burn Performance
Excellent! The shop said the candles burn for approximately 55 hours--I don't know about that, but I've had these candles for about two and a half months and I burn them for about 3-5 hours at a time, every other week and I'm just a little past the halfway point so they last pretty long.

They also burn evenly, as long as you let it burn long enough to so that the entire top is liquid wax, which doesn't take too long with these candles. There's no black smoke or soot and they've very clean. I trim the wick before lighting them up again (from previous use), and the soy wax stayed nice and clean all the way through. The burn performance for these candles are one of the best from my experience so far. I'm highly pleased with them.

Will I be ordering more from this shop? Definitely! From the Page has a lot of scents to chose from, based on some of my favorite books like Harry Potter and other classic novels. I want to try other scents from them especially now that I know their candles burn very, very well and the price with shipping to Hawaii is relatively less expensive compared to the other Etsy shops.

Happy reading,

Thursday, February 4, 2016

E-ARC: 304 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: February 29, 2016
Source of my copy: publisher/Edelweiss
Series: Reign of Shadows #1
Seventeen years ago, an eclipse cloaked the kingdom of Relhok in perpetual darkness. In the chaos, an evil chancellor murdered the king and queen and seized their throne. Luna, Relhok’s lost princess, has been hiding in a tower ever since. Luna’s survival depends on the world believing she is dead.

But that doesn’t stop Luna from wanting more. When she meets Fowler, a mysterious archer braving the woods outside her tower, Luna is drawn to him despite the risk. When the tower is attacked, Luna and Fowler escape together. But this world of darkness is more treacherous than Luna ever realized.

With every threat stacked against them, Luna and Fowler find solace in each other. But with secrets still unspoken between them, falling in love might be their most dangerous journey yet.

Reign of Shadows Reading Must-Haves
I was part of the blog tour Reign of Shadows and I listed some "essentials" you need while reading this book. It was really fun putting together that post, especially finding the just-right nail polishes.

The First 65% of the Novel
I have to admit, I was worried I wasn't going to like Reign of Shadows while reading up to the 65% mark. I wasn't bored or anything--I was into the story and it wasn't a chore picking it back up after I put it down. It was just that nothing was really happening to drive the story forward. Okay, let me back up and describe the plot a little bit...

Luna lived in a world that was perpetually shrouded in darkness because of a seventeen-year-long (and counting) eclipse. Luna was born when the eclipse began, and in the chaos it brought, the High Chancellor murdered her parents the King and Queen and declared himself king. Luna was smuggled out of the place by [I believe] the midwife and a palace guard, and escaped to a high tower located in the middle of what was rumored to be a cursed forest. They've been living there for 17 years, and while Luna loved her guardians, she longed for something more.

Fowler was on a journey to Allu, a mysterious island free of dwellers (these creepy tentacle-faced creatures that plague their dark world), when he got into trouble and Luna ended up rescuing him. When Luna's tower was compromised, Fowler reluctantly took her with him on his search for Allu not knowing she's really the lost princess of their kingdom. They walk to Allu, all the while keeping a wary eye on and dodging dwellers as well as shady humans.

All of what I described occurred in the first 65% of the story. It wasn't until after the 65% mark did things get interesting and we kind of see the plot moving and evolving and we get a glimpse of where the author might take the story. But before then, there wasn't really much of a plot.

The Romance
The romance was probably my favorite part of Reign of Shadows... Well, actually, it wasn't the romance so much as Luna and Fowler's relationship and how it evolved. They thought the other other was attractive, so there was that kind of tension between them but they didn't really like each other in the beginning. They had a different outlook on life--Luna had a cup-is-half-full attitude while Fowler had a cynical view of the world. But, slowly as they spend more time together, they start to become reluctant friends, and eventually something more. But, I loved that it wasn't inta-love. Okay, I guess when you look at the time frame of the story they weren't together that long but you see a progression in their relationship--they didn't just wake up one day and decided they like each other. Instead, mutual respect and trust occurred first before the big romantic feelings.

The [No] Map Situation
Besides the nothing-was-happening bit, my biggest issue with this book was the fact that there was no mention of the characters following a map throughout their journey. It's a road trip book--the two main characters go on a quest to find this mysterious island, but how do they know the way? There was not mention of them following a map, a path, or even anyone telling either Luna or Fowler which way to go. The only time a map was mentioned was before their journey even started, when Fowler said that Allu Island is on every map and it's a 3-month journey from Luna's tower on foot. After that, they just start walking and Fowler just seem to know which direction to go without consulting anything or anyone. I mean, I'm very familiar with the town I live in, but even I need Google Maps or a GPS to find certain places. This just bothered me the whole I was reading Reign of Shadows. Whenever I thought about it too deeply, I get taken out of the story so I tried not to. I did read an e-ARC, so maybe this detail was remedied in the finished copy?

The Last 35% of the Novel
When all the things happened! The last 35% was so good that I was incapable of stopping so I just read it straight through late in the night. And, that ending! The last 35% definitely saved Reign of Shadows from being a meh read into one I cannot wait the sequel for. I am expecting book 2 to be all kinds of epic.

Final Thoughts
While it wasn't a struggle to read Reign of Shadows because there were elements in the novel that kept my interest, I did wonder where the author was taking the story. This book was a lot of background information for both the world and the characters. Now that we are past all of that, and after the revelations in the end of Reign of Shadows, the rest of the series should prove more engaging and thrilling.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Must-Haves for Reading Sophie Jordan's REIGN OF SHADOWS

Saturday, January 30, 2016 with

Hello everyone,
Welcome to the last stop in the Reign of Shadows Blog Tour. Now that you've stopped by all the other blog stops, you're probably super excited to get your hands on and start reading Sophie Jordan's Reign of Shadows, right?

Well, to make your reading experience even better I am here to help. But, first the synopsis just in case this is the first time you're come across is awesome book.

Seventeen years ago, an eclipse cloaked the kingdom of Relhok in perpetual darkness. In the chaos, an evil chancellor murdered the king and queen and seized their throne. Luna, Relhok’s lost princess, has been hiding in a tower ever since. Luna’s survival depends on the world believing she is dead.

But that doesn’t stop Luna from wanting more. When she meets Fowler, a mysterious archer braving the woods outside her tower, Luna is drawn to him despite the risk. When the tower is attacked, Luna and Fowler escape together. But this world of darkness is more treacherous than Luna ever realized.

With every threat stacked against them, Luna and Fowler find solace in each other. But with secrets still unspoken between them, falling in love might be their most dangerous journey yet.

With lush writing and a star–crossed romance, Reign of Shadows is Sophie Jordan at her best.

Must-Haves for Reading Reign of Shadows

1. Reign of Shadows is a fantasy and, to me, fantasy books are the read-and-snuggle (aka a winter reads) type. So, you're going to want to wear comfy PJs. You also need a soft pillow and a chunky knit throw (the best kind of throws) to snuggle.
PJs via Victoria's Secret, pillow via Society6, throw via The Citizenry

2. Reign of Shadows is set in a world where it's perpetually darkness and our heroine Luna lives in a tower in the middle of a mysterious forest. To help transport yourself into the setting of the story, I suggest burning any pine-scented or forest-scented candles. I personally burned Bath and Body Works's Swiss Alps candle, which is a blend of cypress sprigs, rich vanilla embers, and creamy tonka bean.

3. While you're reading Reign of Shadows, you're probably going to get hungry and/or thirsty. Trail mix is the best snack when reading a book because you can eat it easily all the while keeping your eyes on your book--trust me, you're not going to want to be distracted from Reign of Shadows. It's too good! To wash it all down, steep Stash's Moroccan Mint Green Tea for no other reason than it's the best tea in the world.
Trail mix via The Healthy Maven
4. Isn't cover of Reign of Shadows gorgeous? I love the mix of dark blues, indigo, dark reds, maroon, and greens. When thinking of nail polish to match the cover, the Illamasqua Glitterati and the Sea Glass Starrily immediately came to mind.
Sea Glass Starrily via Live Love Polish, Illamasqua Glitterati via Trends Style

With these few items, you're all set to read Reign of Shadows. I will be reviewing it later next week so that I can fully share my thoughts about it. But, I enjoyed it a lot overall. There were some twists and surprises I didn't expect and that ending really made me excited for the next book.

If you haven't already...
Reign of Shadows will be out on Feb. 9th.

About the Author:
Sophie Jordan
Sophie Jordan took her adolescent daydreaming one step further and penned her first historical romance in the back of her high school Spanish class. This passion led her to pursue a degree in English and History.

A brief stint in law school taught her that case law was not nearly as interesting as literature - teaching English seemed the natural recourse. After several years teaching high school students to love Antigone, Sophie resigned with the birth of her first child and decided it was time to pursue the long-held dream of writing.

In less than three years, her first book, Once Upon A Wedding Night, a 2006 Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Nominee for Best First Historical, hit book shelves. Her second novel, Too Wicked To Tame, released in March 2007 with a bang, landing on the USA Today Bestseller's List.
Find Sophie: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Sophie's Tour Schedule:
St. Louis, MO
February 9, 2016
Main Street Books, off-site at Spencer Road Library, 7 PM

Naperville, IL
February 10, 2016
Anderson’s Bookshop, 7 PM

Washington, D.C.
February 11, 2016
Politics & Prose, off-site at the Bethesda Library, 7 PM

Fairfax, VA
February 12, 2016
Barnes & Noble, 7 PM

Bensalem, PA
February 13, 2016
Barnes & Noble, 1 PM

New York City
February 14, 2016
Books of Wonder, 4 PM
*Billed as “Epic Reads Presents: A Date with Royalty”

Blog Tour Schedule:
1/24: Ex Libris - Review
1/24: No BS Book Reviews - Reign of Eyeshadows
1/25: The Young Folks - Review
1/25: Rebelle Reads - Rapunzel Hairstyles
1/26: What Sarah Read - Review
1/26: The Bookkeeper's Secrets - Graphics
1/27: Books Buying Beauty - Review
1/27: Lost In Lit - Bookish Impressions
1/28: Mundie Moms - Review
1/28: Swoony Boys Podcast - Dream Casting
1/29: Bookmark Lit - Review
1/29: The Irish Banana Review - Night Scapes
1/30: YA Bibliophile - Review
1/30: Undeniably Book Nerdy - Must Haves for Reading RoS <-- you're here!

Have you read Reign of Shadows? What did you think of it?
Happy reading,
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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Review: Owlcrate January Subscription Box

Thursday, January 28, 2016 with
Hello everyone,
If you follow me on Instagram, you might've seen my Owlcrate post. I finally gave in and subscribed in January. This was my first ever foray into book subscription service.

If you guys don't know what Owlcrate is, you can visit their website. But, basically, it's a monthly YA subscription box. The YA novel and 3-5 bookish goodies will be tailored to the different theme they have every month.

Why I Avoided Book Subscriptions
I've know about Owlcrate since about mid-2015. I follow their Instagram account and I enjoy watching Owlcrate unboxing videos on YouTube, but I've never been tempted to subscribe.

My main reason was you don't know what book you're getting. I'm the type of person of rarely buy books on a whim. I "research" my books before buying/accepting it for review it: read and compare reviews (both negative and positive), if it's a new to me author I look up their backlist titles and look at average ratings, I see if bloggers with similar reading tastes as me rated it favorably, I read a preview if it's available... I want to be sure it's a book I will enjoy (there's a reason why most of the books I review here are between 3-5 stars).

Also, it's expensive at $29.99 (plus shipping). I paid $33.99 (I had a 10% off coupon as a first-time subscriber)--with that money, I can buy 3 paperback books on Amazon. Books I actually know I'll enjoy because I would've researched them beforehand.

In early January Owlcrate announced that their January box will include a full-size Funko Pop. I love Pop figurines, so I thought why not? If it sucks I can always cancel my subscription. Also, the theme for January was Magic, which equals Harry Potter goodies.

Here's what was inside the January box.

As promised, the box contained a full-sized Funko Pop. According to the info card, they sent five different characters from the Harry Potter collection and my box contained Harry
My favorite item in the box!
The next thing was a Patronus lip balm from the Etsy shop Geek Fire Labs. It's a mint and white chocolate flavor. It smells good. I haven't tried it yet, though, so I can't say how it is on my lips. I do use lip balm daily so it's nice to have it.

The last two bookish goodies were an art print with a quote from Throne of Glass and a bookmark inspired by The Raven Cycle series. Both of these were created and designed by Evie Bookish (my favorite graphic designer of book-inspired items--I love her Society6 store!). They're both beautifully designed and printed on nice paper. They're nice to have and I'll probably appreciate them more once I continue on with ToG and start The Raven Cycle series.

The last thing was the book.
In the box was a copy of Worlds of Ink and Shadow by Lena Coakley. It came with a letter from the author and a paper doll kit. I have never heard of Worlds of Ink and Shadow until I got it my Owlcrate box. Of course, as soon as I saw what book I got I started to research it. It's a fantasy retelling based on the Bronte sisters, where they have the ability to jump into the stories they create. I'm not a fan of any of the Bronte sisters' works so I really don't have any interest in reading a retelling about them. And after reading the synopsis, reading a few pages of the book and reading reviews (both positive and negative), I really have no interest in reading Worlds of Ink and Shadow. It's not for me.

My biggest worry about book subscription boxes was that I wasn't going to like the book, which is the most important item and probably where most of my money went, and that's what happened here. I'm giving the Owlcrate January box

Renewing My Subscription?
Well, I haven't cancelled yet. I am skipping February's box (which is an option they give you) because Owlcrate recently hinted that one of the bookish items may be a pair of earrings and I'm not interested in those. Also, the theme is Sci-fi Love and I was looking at a list of sci-fi YA novels coming out in February and I'm not really interested in any of them. We'll see what the theme will be in March and see how it goes. I might give it another chance, or I may cancel completely.

I don't know, you guys. Maybe book subscription boxes are not for me. If it's just a bookish items subscription box without the book, I think I'd enjoy more because I do like all of the bookish things included in the January box. Owlcrate, please come up with a bookish items-only.

Are you subscribed to Owlcrate or another book subscription service? How did you like it?

Happy reading,

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

E-ARC: 320 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Release Date: January 5, 2016
Source of my copy: publisher
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.

I'm Torn
I'm torn whether to rate Firsts higher because of the strong emotions it evoked in me while I was reading it or lower because of the strong conflicting emotions it evoked in me...

Mercedes Ayres was a senior in high school and a chemistry whiz. But, she mostly keeps to herself and doesn't really let anyone in, not even her best friend Angela nor Zach, the boy she meets every Wednesday at lunch to have sex with. Unbeknownst to Angela and Zach, Mercedes had been regularly inviting boys--they must be virgins and must be in a serious relationship--up to her bedroom to have sex with her. But, she's not doing it for the pleasure of having sex with them and taking their virginity. She does it for a more altruistic reason: she suffers through their fumbling first-time awkwardness so that she could guide and teach them how to make their girlfriend's first time perfect.

At the start of the novel, she just had sex with virgin #10 and swears to herself that he's the last one. She's already slept with 12 different guys--the 10 virgins, plus Luke (the guy who took her virginity) and Zach. That's a big number, she thought. But, as more virgins approach her with their sob story about needing her help in order to make their girlfriend's first time perfect, Mercedes just couldn't say no. Until, that is, her best friend Angela's boyfriend approached her to help him. And when her perfect system of making sure no one finds out about her revolving bedroom door falls apart, Mercedes needed to find a way to salvage her reputation as well as face some issues she has long been ignoring to figure out where her heart really belongs.

Mercedes and the Other Characters
Oh, man. Where to start with Mercedes? For most of the novel, I vacillated between wanting to slap some sense into her (Girl, what, what, what are you doing?!) and wanting to give her a hug. She's one of the most frustrating main character I've read ever. She really thought her system in making sure the boys keep their mouth shut about her works. But, we're talking about horny high school guys here. Even the ones with serious girlfriends are going to talk to their friends--if not to brag, then to hook their friend up with Mercedes so she can also help them. I'm not condemning her for the sex and the number of guys she slept with, but I am condemning her for being so friggin' gullible about the guys who approached her after virgin #10. Those guys obviously had other agendas, but Mercedes chose to ignore all the warning signs and what her gut was telling her: those guys may have other intentions, other agendas. For a smart girl, Mercedes was very dense.

Okay, fine, so her home life sucks with a self-centered, negligent mom (I imagined her as one of those women in Real Housewives of [insert city] based on what I've seen in commercials--I could be completely off since I don't watch those shows) and an absent dad. We also got hints throughout that she may have been in an unhealthy relationship with her first boyfriend, Luke. She also didn't really have anyone to confide in because her closest friend Angela was uber-religious and believes in wanting until marriage to have sex, and she pushes potential relationships away. But, I can only excuse her denseness and gullibility so much on her personal issues, because it's common sense: you have sex with numerous guys in the same high school, it's going to get out sooner or later.

But don't get me wrong, I liked Mercedes. She made terrible decisions and I was frustrated with her and could rant about her all day long, but I couldn't not like her. I felt for her and rooted for her success and wanted her to stand up to those hypocritical girls and guys at her school when they were calling her a slut and a whore--because SHE WASN'T!! I was so angry for her when she got all the hate when sex involved two people. Why weren't the guys getting the same hate as she?

Speaking of Mercedes pushing away potential relationships, I felt so sorry for Zach. The way Mercedes treated him over and over again--the way she was constantly pushing him away and her constantly rejecting him? She was so mean to him! If I were Zach, I would've walked away long time ago and never looked back. I felt like he deserved someone better--someone nicer than Mercedes.

My favorite character in the novel, though, was Faye. She's a strong, independent, tell-it-how-it-is person and I just love how she called out Mercedes on some of her BS while still standing by her side when everything fell apart. She's what Mercedes could've been if Mercedes had some common sense. She and Mercedes kind of had this attraction thing going and I was wondered if the author was going to take the story in that direction, but she didn't. That would've been an interesting turn in the story.

Writing Style/Pacing
I really enjoyed the author's writing style and voice. While the writing was nothing out of the ordinary, it was very readable and consumable. The story flowed nicely with really no dull moments. The build up was tense--I was just waiting for every thing to fall apart for Mercedes, which was inevitable. Reading about Mercedes getting closer and closer to social suicide was very stressful for me as a reader. Mercedes's character caused some big, conflicting emotions in me and any book that makes me feel strong emotions (whether positive or negative) while reading it is a winner to me because that means that the author got me to care about the story and characters. Firsts succeed very in that aspect.

Also, if you're worried about all the sex. Don't be--Firsts was not written like a new adult or a romance novel. There were no long descriptions about the act and author kept pretty much kept it succinct and behind-closed-doors.

Final Thoughts
Truth be told, Firsts took me by surprise. I expected I was going to like it, but I didn't expect it to rile me up or to to leave me uncomfortable yet drawn in by the story, frustrated yet empathetic. Basically, this book had a lot of heart and I got a lot more out of it than I was expecting. I applaud the author for penning a strong debut novel. I look forward to reading more by her.

After writing this review and thinking about my reading journey with Firsts, I'm giving it

Firsts is already out in stores!

If you can't see the excerpt, read it here.