Sunday, January 31, 2016

MY 2015 FAVOURITES! #2015FAVES #FANGIRLING

Happy Belated New Years everyone!!! 

I've been a bit of a lazy blogger, and have been putting off any kind of recap post out of sheer laziness...I did have a cold around New Years, so I can use that as an excuse, but really I was just super daunted by the sheer idea of a recap post, so I decided to just share my favourites from 2015 in a slightly simpler post where it's all together. I decided not to limit myself to books, so you're getting a nice diverse list of everything that I absolutely loved in 2015!

So, the first month of 2016 may already over, but here are my favourites from 2015! I'm thinking that maybe I'll start doing monthly recaps again after this. :P

Anywho...prepare for A LOT of fangirling! ;)

BOOKS

So many books to choose from! My year end total for my 2015 Goodreads challenge was 236 books. If you want to see them all you can view "My Year in Books - 2015" from Goodreads. I read a wide variety because I was taking Children's Publishing courses and really got into graphic novels and audiobooks this year. For the most part, I loved almost all of what I read, but I'm going to try to limit myself to 10 (I'm going to cheat and group some series together though :P) top favourites. These are in no particular order. :)

Okay, I'm really stretching it with this one...but please don't make pick just one Christina Lauren title! I have been a major fangirl of these two lovely authors since I first read Beautiful Bastard and I swear their books are all absolutely amazing! I desperately watch my ereader waiting for my pre-orders to download on their release days...I'm not even exaggerating. :P All three of their books that released in 2015 were AMAZING! I loved Finn, I loved Oliver, and I loved Niall! I also loved Harlow, Lola, and Ruby...but the men really stole my heart. ;)

2. Tales From the Shadowhunter Academy Series by Cassandra Clare (also by Maureen Johnson, Robin Wasserman, and Sarah Rees Brennan)
Since this series of novellas is going to be released later this year as a single volume, I think it counts as one book now. :P I still haven't gotten to The Bane Chronicles (I know...bad Cassandra Clare fan...bad!), but I decided to keep up with Tales From the Shadowhunter Academy Series through Overdrive. So I borrowed a combination of audiobooks and ebooks from the library, and I loved them all! I loved seeing Simon go through the academy and I really, really loved seeing everyone make guest appearances. Also, some of these audiobooks are fantastic! Sam Heughan (Jamie) from Outlander read one, Chris Wood (Kai) from The Vampire Diaries read one, and Brett Dalton (Agent Ward) from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. read one...and I was seriously in fangirl heaven! I'm hoping they release the audiobooks in one volume, too!!! I'll buy that for sure! If you're a Shadowhunter fan, I'd definitely recommend reading these novellas though. They were fantastic...they do end on a highly emotional note though, so heads up!

I'm a bigtime fantasy girl, but I haven't picked up many new fantasy series in the last while...probably because I got really bad at continuing series and still have to finish a few. But, I couldn't resist A Darker Shade of Magic, and I'm so glad that I read it. This story is absolutely fantastic! I loved the characters, the magic, and the world-building was absolutely superb...especially since there are multiple worlds in it! I'm so excited for the sequel, A Gathering of Shadows, and I recently listened to the audio of A Darker Shade of Magic and it was just as amazing as when I read it myself! Fantasy fans, especially those who love magic, I heartily recommend this one to you!

4. Saga Series by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples
 As I mentioned, this year I got seriously into graphic novels! And if I had to pick a fave graphic novel series, it would definitely be Saga! I loved The Walking Dead, too, but I just loved the fantasy element of Saga! The art is beautiful, and the story is extremely captivating! I also am DESPERATE to know what happens next!

5. The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (translators: Mattias Ripa, Blake Ferris, and Anjali Singh)
 Another graphic novel! Persepolis completely blew me away! I've been hearing things about it for years, so I decided to add it to my to-read list for graphic novels and I loved it! It was such a powerful story, and it left me with a lot to think about when it comes to war and understanding other cultures. I'd definitely recommend it to anyone who already loves graphic novels or who wants to try out some!

I can't remember what happened in 2014 to make me put off reading Visions, but eventually I just decided to wait until Deceptions was about to come out...so I read Visions right before my pre-order of Deceptions arrived and devoured them both in less than a week. My only regret is that now I have to wait to read book #4, Betrayals. Other than that, I absolutely loved both books...the ending of Deceptions wasn't one that I was super pleased with because my main man Gabriel needs to buck up, but other than that I was completely riveted by Liv's story and there was no way these two wouldn't make it on my best of 2015 list!

7. Jesse's Girl (Hundred Oaks #6) by Miranda Kenneally
 It's safe to say that I've been a Miranda Kenneally fangirl for a while now, so I wasn't shocked at all when I started Jesse's Girl and was immediately hooked. The musical focus was a little different than the other books, but I really enjoyed it and I absolutely adored Maya and Jesse!

8. Confess by Colleen Hoover
 I am not even a little ashamed to admit that I am also a Colleen Hoover fangirl. While I loved November 9, her most recent release, Confess is still my top Colleen pick. O.M.G. did I ever love it (if you've read Confess and don't get that reference, you seriously need to reread it...like now). This one broke my heart, punched me in the feels, and then put me back together again and gave me all the feelings! Auburn and Owen were so FANTASTIC! I heart them, I heart them, I heart them! Yes, I love them so much, I heart them.

9. Paint My Body Red by Heidi R. Kling
I've loved Heidi since I first read Sea years ago, so I was extremely excited to read Paint My Body Red. And it was an absolutely AMAZING story! Paige was such a powerful character. I loved that the book covered difficult subjects, but never tried to sugarcoat them. Paint My Body Red doesn't ignore issues, it confronts them and shows how it can be difficult to overcome them, but that it's always worth it. If you're a contemporary fan and aren't afraid of books that cover issues (but don't worry, it does have a pretty happy ending!), I'd highly recommend adding PMBR to your to-read list!

10. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
*hums & sings* One of these things is not like the others, one of these things doesn't belong.*
Okay, so The Road is definitely not anything like the other books that were in my top picks this year. It's not something that I would typically read, but I picked it up after I went to an internship interview and one of the interviewers said it was her favourite book. I've thought about reading it before, but it wasn't until that recommendation that I took the plunge and borrowed it from the library. It absolutely left me stunned. I usually strongly dislike, I'd even go so far as to say hate, atypical dialogue in books. I'm not a fan of weird formatting, or lack of formatting, but in The Road it was PERFECT! The lack of proper punctuation and dialogue markers matched so perfectly with the story itself and how the world was completely in shambles that it actually amazed me. This story is dark, it's rather depressing, but it is so powerful. It left me feeling hopeful, and it moved me so much. I thought I would enjoy this one, but I was shocked by how much I loved it. That reminds me, I still need to get myself a copy of this one because I will definitely be rereading it in the future.

Phew! All that fangirling tuckered me out a bit! :P

MOVIES 

(c) Marvel Studios
 1. Ant-Man
I loved the Avengers: Age of Ultron, too...but I have to admit that I loved Ant-Man even more, which is kinda crazy because I'm a hardcore Captain America fan and Steve wasn't even in Ant-Man. I just loved how funny it was, and I really, really loved Paul Rudd as Scott! He was hilarious!

(c) Marvel Studios
2. The Avengers: Age of Ultron
 As I said, I loved this movie. Not quite as much as Ant-Man, but it was still fantastic, and I'm always happy to see my fave superheroes on screen. Like Cap...I'm always happy to see Cap. And Thor. And Iron Man. And The Hulk...although not Edward Norton as The Hulk. I didn't like that movie, but I have to admit that I actually did like the Eric Bana one. Okay...and Hawkeye. And Black Widow. I missed them all, so it was great to see them! This comment has gotten extremely random and disorderly, so I'm going to a stop now. :P To make a long, rambling comment short, I loved it and loved seeing all of my favourite superheroes back in action!

(c) Universal Pictures
3. Jurassic World
 Like a large portion of the world, I'm a ginormous Chris Pratt fan. I also love Jurassic Park, so Jurassic World was PERFECT! I really liked getting to go back to the world of Jurassic Park, and I loved all of the little nods and moments that referred back to the original movies. I think I'm going to have to do a marathon sometime soon with all of the Jurassic movies now. :P

(c) BBC Films
4. Testament of Youth
This movie was an absolutely stunning theatrical experience. Seriously, so much feeling! I originally was mostly excited to see this movie because it has Kit Harington in it, and I'm a bigtime Kit fangirl, but I also thought the story sounded heartbreakingly beautiful. I didn't know much about Vera Brittain before I saw Testament of Youth, but I've since read some of her poems, and she was an extremely talented woman and her poems are filled with so much emotion. Her story is so tragic, but I love that out of her heartbreak and loss, she chose to do something. She was such a powerful proponent of pacifism, and the film really captured her story well.

(c) Disney
5. Cinderella
Raise your hand if you're a super hardcore Disney fangirl! *JUMPS UP AND DOWN, FLAILING WITH BOTH HANDS UP* Yup, I'm a Disney fangirl, and I totally went to see Cinderella with my mom...and it was WONDERFUL! I also watched it again as soon as it appeared on Canadian Netflix and it was just as wondrously wonderful as it was in theatres. I loved Lily James as Ella...and I loved, loved, loved Richard Madden as Kit! Part of that love was because of my love for Robb Stark...but it was only a small portion. If you love Disney and haven't seen this movie yet, you really should watch it!

TV SHOWS

1. OUTLANDER!
 Outlander first came out in 2014...but I got even more super hooked on it in 2015! I'm still so smitten with this show, and the actors all blow me away! I've been slowly devouring the books, too, and am currently reading the fourth one, A Fiery Cross. Reading the books has been making me even more excited because now I'm looking forward to Sam Heughan (JAMIE), Caitriona Balfe (CLAIRE) and the other actors acting out the other books. It's like a vicious never-ending fangirl cycle that just keeps getting me more and more excited! Pssst....season 2 will be airing in a few months and I CANNOT WAIT!

2. Marvel's Agent Carter
 I LOVED AGENT CARTER! Season 2 just started and I'm freaking out! It was amazing to see Peggy kick butt in this series, and I have loved every single episode. The start of season 2 has been fantastic, too!!! I also just always love whenever I see Jarvis! He's so awesome!

3. Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 
 I've loved S.H.I.E.L.D. since it started, but I definitely got mega-hooked on it in 2015! I think it's because Marvel just had so much awesome stuff going on this year that I couldn't help but freak out! haha Also, this current season has been AMAZING! I'm desperately waiting for it to start back up!

4. Marvel's Jessica Jones & Marvel's Daredevil
 I actually didn't start watching Marvel's Daredevil until this past summer. I'm not sure what I was waiting for, but once I started it, I devoured it! It's fantastic, and I can't wait to see more! And Jessica Jones!! I LOVED JESSICA JONES! I didn't wait too long to start it after it was released, and I finished it in about a week. It was AMAZING, and I have to admit that Kilgrave is probably one of my absolute favourite villains who I love to hate...I already loved David Tennant after devouring Doctor Who a while back, but in Jessica Jones, he did an absolutely amazing job. He was so evil, but he also just had so much depth that it was hard not to actually sympathize with Kilgrave at times...if you're a Marvel/Superhero fan and haven't watched these two, you should add them to your watch list!

 5. Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Oh my goodness!!! I think I actually started watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine around my Christmas holidays in 2014. I remember watching it on Netflix and my dad walked in and started watching it with me. I've loved it ever since, and it's probably one of the main shows that I watch weekly and am almost always caught up on. It's hilarious, and the characters are AMAZING! If you haven't started it yet, I totally recommend it!

MUSIC

1. Ed Sheeran
 2015 was the year that I fell absolutely, completely in love with Ed Sheeran! I really loved Ed before, but this year, I FELL HARD! One of my best friends and I saw him in concert back in June and he was AMAZING!!! Seriously. I fangirl so hard over him. I'm kind of fangirling just typing this...okay, not kind of...I am. ;)

2.  Shawn Mendes
 I'd heard of Shawn before 2015, but this year I downloaded his album on iTunes and was immediately HOOKED! His voice is absolutely amazing, and he is such an absolutely adorable guy! I'm also so proud that he's Canadian. ;)

3. Nick Jonas
 Again...I'd heard of Nick before 2015 (who hadn't heard of the Jonas Brothers by this point?!), but this year I got his album on iTunes and I was an immediate fan!

4. Sheppard
 I first heard about Sheppard over the summer on some list that popped up on Facebook...no idea where it was from anymore, but once I heard "Geronimo," I was in love! They have such a fantastic sound, and I love their songs!

Looking back, this was a year of falling in love with male singers. I'm definitely not complaining. :P

RANDOM FAVOURITES

1. Tea! 
 I've been raving about tea for quite some time, so I doubt this is at all a surprise, but I couldn't do a wrap up post without mentioning tea. :P My favourites of 2015 were mostly black teas! Much like an addicted coffee-drinker, I need a boost of black tea energy in the morning. :P My favourites this past year were all black teas from Steeped Tea, and they were Maraschino Cherry, Tonia's Birthday Cake, After Eight, and Ginger Chai! Maraschino Cherry and Tonia's Birthday Cake are both super tasty! Maraschino Cherry is cherry-tastic, and Tonia's Birthday Cake is scrumptious and just like black forest cake in a cup! After Eight is chocolately and minty--yum! And Ginger Chai tastes like a cinnamon bun when you put in some cream and sugar....so good! My other longtime favourite is peppermint. Doesn't matter the brand, I'm always a mega fan of peppermint tea! :D

 2. Lush Products! 
2015 was definitely the year that my interest in Lush became a full-blown addiction. I'm a Lushie and I'm not ashamed to admit it. This year I went from strictly buying bubble bars and bath bombs (which I still love to bits!) to trying their shampoos, creams, face masks, and other products, and I definitely haven't been disappointed! One of the parts about moving across country that actually made me sad was that I was moving away from my favourite Lush store! I still miss that store! Shout out to the fabulous Whyte Ave Lush location! Seriously, if you're ever in Edmonton on Whyte Ave, stop at that Lush, it's my favourite location ever!

 3. Saje! 
In 2015, I was introduced to Saje. It's a fantastic Canadian company that focuses on health and wellness, and this year I got myself one of their fabulous nebulizers! I wasn't quite sure about it at first, but I really love their essential oil blends...well mostly I just love the minty ones! haha It's definitely an interesting store though, and if you're interested in health and wellness, it's really worth checking out. :) I believe they only have stores in Canada right now, but they do ship to the US and do International orders. :) With our low dollar right now, it's actually probably a pretty good time for non-Canadians to do some online shopping through Canadian stores. :P

4. Audiobooks!
2015 was the year that I got completely HOOKED on audiobooks! They're a nice change from reading physical copies, and some stories just get a whole new element added to them through audio! I have to admit that I really enjoy rereading a book as an audiobook though just because it provides such a different experience! I listened to quite a few audiobooks this year, but I definitely have some that I liked best. 

So, here's my long list of favourite audiobooks from 2015: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir, the first three books in the Falling Kingdom series by Morgan Rhodes (I'm currently listening to book #4 and LOVING it!), The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall (Team Jack ALL THE WAY! :D), The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen, The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, and I also listened to all of the Jim Dale audiobooks of the Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling!

5. Miss Vickie's Lime & Black Pepper Chips
I used to be ALL Sweet Chili & Sour Cream, but this year I got hooked on MV's Lime & Black Pepper! I could eat these chips every day and not get sick of them...okay, I might get physically sick, but I'd still want them. :P Normally I'm not actually a fan of pepper, but these chips are so delicious that I have to portion out how many I want to eat or that whole bag is gone...poof!
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Now that all of my 2015 favourites have been shared, I'll give you all a bit of a life recap I guess.

In 2015, I moved across Canada from my home province of Alberta to Toronto, Ontario. When I was just beginning my undergraduate degree, I realized that publishing was the field that I wanted to pursue a career in. So this past year, I moved to pursue that career because while Alberta has a few smaller publishers, it doesn't nearly as large of a publishing industry as Toronto does.

In August, my parents drove with me across Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and through Ontario so that I could move into my new apartment. Here are a few pictures from our drive:

Bye-bye house!
On the big screen at the Blue Jays game. :)

I was extremely glad that my parents and I got to spend some time together before they left, and I was so grateful that they we were willing to drive all the way with me, too. When we got settled in Toronto, we went to a Blue Jays game, and kind of just relaxed a bit after our super long drive.
 
I have to admit that I'm quite the homebody and I'm very close to my family, so it's been tough being so far away from them, but I chose to move to get experience in the industry and to challenge myself. Since then I've worked as a Publicity & Marketing Assistant for Thomas Allen & Son, and just began a new position in their company as Sales, Marketing, & Publicity Assistant. I still miss home and my family every day, but I'm glad for the chance to experience new things and to discover more about my favourite industry! And I definitely value those trips home as much as I possibly can, even if I just spend my time there relaxing with my family doing nothing. :)

Other than that big move, I've been working mostly, and reading as much as I can! :)

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So, that is my long, overdue wrap-up for 2015!!

What were your favourite from 2015?
Do we share any? :)

And did you have any big changes happen in 2015? I'd love to hear about them!

I'm also always happy to have recommendations for new things! So please, feel free to share your faves! :D

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Review: Hitched (Crushed #2) by Dawn Rae Miller

Source: Received an ebook copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: Already Released.
Number of Pages: 229 (Paperback)


Description from Goodreads:
Life hasn’t been easy for twenty-three year old Ellie Jacobs since her boyfriend, Fletch, walked out of her life two years earlier. She’s stuck in a consulting job she hates, buried under crushing student loans, and still longing for Fletch despite her best efforts to leave the past behind.

Letting go is hard when everywhere she turns, there’s a reminder of Fletch - from his face on gossip magazines to everyone being obsessed with his company, GroundFloor.

So when Ellie finds herself at a mutual friend’s wedding with Fletch, she decides to grin and bear it for the sake of the bride and groom. But years of anger have piled up, and Ellie doesn’t know if she can last the weekend without going crazy or lashing out.

However, as the wedding weekend progresses, Ellie realizes anger can only take you so far, but love can take you farther.
I absolutely loved CRUSHED when it came out in 2012, so I jumped at the chance to read HITCHED because I was super curious, and excited to see what happened next in Ellie and Fletch's story! I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed to hear how the book would start, but as soon as I started reading, I was completely swept up in their world again! And I was just hoping, and hoping that Ellie and Fletch could figure out what went wrong in their past and get back to being together!

I remember loving the first book CRUSHED because I loved Fletch's point of view; his story was so honest and it was hilarious. The characters were fantastic, and so was the writing. While HITCHED is from Ellie's point of view instead of Fletch's, it was still just as amazing and it contained everything that I'd loved from the first book. It was funny, realistic, and honest, too. I've always loved Ellie. She funny, smart, and just a wonderful person, and it was great to get to connect with her and all of the other characters again. Most of all...it was great to see Ellie and Fletch reconnect though!

I won't go into too many details about the romance or what happens between Ellie and Fletch because I think it's best experienced by reading it yourself, but I absolutely loved HITCHED. I loved seeing how Ellie and Fletch have grown since CRUSHED, and was thrilled to see them work through what happened in their past. The whole book made me think of a reunion of sorts. I loved seeing how all of the characters had changed, grown, and how their lives intertwined after the graduated.

I'd definitely recommend HITCHED to fans of CRUSHED and I do think it's best to read CRUSHED first, but be prepared to be sad when it starts...if you're anything like me, you'll be just as upset about Ellie and Fletch being apart at the beginning as I was! Overall, HITCHED was a fantastic story and I absolutely loved it!

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One of my favourite parts of HITCHED was seeing how the characters had grown since the first book. So I'm curious, are you a fan of sequels that show how characters' have grown since the first book?

Do HITCHED and the book that preceded it, CRUSHED, sound like something you'd enjoy?

Friday, January 22, 2016

Review: Game Winner (New York Kings #6) by Collette West

Source: Received an ebook from the author as a beta reader, and a finished copy in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: Already Released.
Number of Pages: 452 (Kindle edition)
Purchase Links: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | B&N | Smashwords


Description from Goodreads:
Playing center field for the New York Kings, Jake Woodbury has one of the most prestigious jobs in all of sports. To the world, he's the good-looking, soft-spoken minister's son who’s survived celebrity without a hint of scandal. But, inside, he's reeling from a secret that seems destined to haunt him forever.

Scarlett Moore is one of the biggest pop stars on the planet, famous for singing about her celebrity ex-boyfriends. The CEO of her record label has carefully honed her provocative image since she was fifteen. Sex sells, and Scarlett’s well aware that it takes more than talent to stay on top.

One thing is clear: She’s the last thing Jake needs. And he’s the do-gooder jock she should avoid at all costs. But when the game begins, all bets are off.
Oh my goodness!!! :D I jumped for joy when Collette West asked me to beta read for her again, and I was super excited to finally get to read Jake Woodbury's story...and it was even more amazing than I expected!!! Right from the start, I was completely hooked. I have loved all of Collette West's New York Kings books, but this one had my favourite introduction yet! We hadn't met (or even heard of) Scarlett yet, so we had to meet her somehow, and I absolutely loved how it happened!!! The moment where Jake first heard her sing, and where they interacted for the first time were absolutely perfect, and I was desperate for them to meet in person!!!! :D

I've always loved Jake, but when we got to see more of him in Scott's story (Perfect Game) we were rooting for him to not get the girl because Carrie was meant for Scott...so I was soooo happy to finally see Jake getting his story told, and have him meet the girl of his dreams. :D And Scarlett was definitely the girl of Jake's dreams!

On the surface, they didn't really match. She's a famous singer with a reputation for being a heartbreaker who has risen to fame singing the tales of her exes and breakups in her songs, while Jake is known for his religious beliefs, and for being an all-around guy. On paper, he's a bit boring, and she's pretty superficial, but we know better. Jake and Scarlett were PERFECT for each other!! I loved seeing them get to know one another, and the passion between them was off the charts!

While Jake and Scarlett were definitely on fire romance-wise, I loved that they had a deeper connection than that. Their chemistry was instantaneous, but I loved that it was music that really drove them together. I always loved how musical Jake was, and it was perfect that he met someone who inspired him musically, and I really loved that they both inspired each other to write music! :D

Overall, I absolutely loved Game Winner! And I can't wait to see the final book because knowing Collette, she'll make it even better!! :D


I'd recommend all of Collette West's New York Kings books, but this one would definitely be an awesome place to start if you're not quite sure about starting a romance series yet. ;)

What do you think?
Are you ready to give sports romance as a genre a shot yet?

Monday, January 18, 2016

Firsts Blog Tour: Review & Mini Interview!

I'm so excited to be a part of Raincoast Books's FIRSTS blog tour!! I first heard about FIRSTS back in August, and I was immediately intrigued!! When I got an egalley from Netgalley, I actually giggled with glee, and once I started it, I was hooked!

Today for my post in the FIRSTS blog tour, I'm sharing my review and a Q&A with the absolutely fabulous author of FIRSTS, Laurie Elizabeth Flynn! :)

Title: FIRSTS
Author: Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
Source: egalley from the
publisher through Netgalley
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Release Date: January 5, 2016!
Number of Pages: 320 (Hardcover)



Description 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.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR

LAURIE ELIZABETH FLYNN writes contemporary fiction for young adults. FIRSTS is her debut novel.

Laurie went to school for Journalism, where the most important thing she learned was that she would rather write made-up stories than report the news. She also worked as a model, a job that took her overseas to Tokyo, Athens, and Paris.

Laurie now lives in London, Ontario with her husband Steve, who is very understanding when she would rather spend time with the people in her head. Laurie can mostly be found writing happily at her desk, with the world’s most spoiled Chihuahua on her lap. Laurie drinks way too much coffee, snorts when she laughs, and times herself when she does crossword puzzles.


Connect with Laurie: Twitter | Facebook | Website | Instagram | Tumblr | Goodreads

MY REVIEW

As soon as I started reading FIRSTS, I was hooked! The story itself is incredibly intriguing, the writing is fabulous, and the characters all jump right off the page! I especially loved that it challenged stereotypes about sex, and about female sexuality.

I absolutely LOVED Mercedes. I'm nothing like her, but I really appreciated the honesty of her narrative. She was snarky (which I loved!), and dishonest with her friends, but as a narrator, she held nothing back. While certain parts of her past were revealed later in the story, I really appreciated the transparency that her narrative had when she was considering things, and I loved seeing her slowly open up to the people in her life, too.

I loved that Mercedes for the most part was in control when it came to sex. Her personal reasons for helping out virgins are something that you'll have to read the book to find out about yourself, but she definitely did everything that she did to help them. While her desire to help guys give their girlfriends a good first time was honourable in a way, it did bug me that she was sleeping with guys that had girlfriends. I loved that she was in control of her sexuality, but I did wish that she wasn't sleeping with guys in relationships. There were also a couple of minor moments where I really wish Mercedes had stuck up for herself and stuck to her original decisions, but overall, I was still really happy with this story.

As I said before, I loved how FIRSTS challenged preconceived notions about sex that so many people have. I LOVED that it pushed boundaries, and I loved that even Mercedes' notions about relationships were challenged throughout the story. I loved seeing her friendships grow, and I especially loved when she finally allowed people to see the real her. She changed a lot throughout the story, and that was because she finally decided to start letting people in. Her friendships with Angela, Faye, and Zach were my absolute favourite part of FIRSTS. I did appreciate and love the romance too, but I loved that friendship had such a high importance in the story.

FIRSTS was a wonderful story! The characters were fantastic and complex, and I absolutely loved the writing. I loved how Laurie Elizabeth Flynn challenged so many different preconceived notions about sex, and I'm really looking forward to whatever she writes next! :D

Q&A

1. As FIRSTS is your debut novel, what was the process of writing it like, and what advice would you give to other aspiring authors? 

FIRSTS is my debut novel, but it’s not the first book I wrote. Previously, I wrote two New Adult contemporaries, both of which were meticulously plotted. With FIRSTS, I let myself experiment with a new style of writing: Flying by the seat of my pants. I had the hook and the main character’s name, but that was it. I was both ridiculously excited and scared to start writing, but as soon as I wrote the first line, I knew this method was a great fit for me. I wrote quickly and freely and finished the first draft in three weeks as opposed to several months. Most importantly, I had so much fun!

One thing I’d tell aspiring authors is to not be afraid to experiment with their writing. Not every project will follow the same formula, and that’s okay. Take chances. Take risks. Try new things. Tackle ideas that scare you. Most of all, write what you want to write, because that’s the story only you can tell.

2. If your characters went to Hogwarts, which houses do you think they would belong to and why? 

 What a fun question! I think Mercedes would be a Slytherin. She’s very ambitious and resourceful and has a plan to get what she wants in life. Zach would be a Hufflepuff. He’s incredibly loyal, patient, and kind. Angela would be a Ravenclaw—she’s smart and sensible and doesn’t like surprises. Faye… well, Faye would definitely be a Gryffindor. She’s bold, daring, and has a heart of gold.

 (Fun fact: I’m a Slytherin!)

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I loved Laurie's answers to my questions!! She's given some great advice for writers, and I love her Harry Potter house picks for her characters!! I definitely agree with them all!! :D

What do you think?
Does FIRSTS sound like something you'd like to read?
And what did you think of my Q&A with Laurie?

Giveaway Share: TIDES OF HONOUR by Genevieve Graham


You might remember that I read Genevieve Graham's TIDES OF HONOUR a while back, and reviewed it on my blog. The lovely Genevieve let me know that she has a giveaway for her book starting today!

It runs from January 18th until the 29th! So, hurry up and enter! :D

You can enter the giveaway through Genevieve's rafflecopter: 
GOOD LUCK! :D 

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Release Day: THIEF OF LIES (Library Jumpers #1) by Brenda Drake!


I'm super excited to be a part of Brenda Drake's Release Day Launch (hosted by Jen Halligan PR) for THIEF OF LIES (Library Jumpers #1)!

Check out the book and excerpt below, and be sure to enter the amazing giveaways! 

Thief of Lies (Library Jumpers #1) by Brenda Drake Publisher: Entangled Teen
Publication Date: January 5, 2016


Gia Kearns would rather fight with boys than kiss them. That is, until Arik, a leather-clad hottie in the Boston Athenaeum suddenly disappears. While examining the book of world libraries he abandoned, Gia unwittingly speaks the key that sucks her and her friends into a photograph and transports them into a Paris library, where Arik and his Sentinels—magical knights charged with protecting humans from the creatures traveling across the gateway books—rescue them from a demonic hound.

Jumping into some of the world’s most beautiful libraries would be a dream come true for Gia, if she weren’t busy resisting her heart or dodging an exiled wizard seeking revenge on both the Mystik and human worlds. Add a French flirt obsessed with Arik and a fling with a young wizard, and Gia must choose between her heart and her head, between Arik’s world and her own, before both are destroyed.

Excerpt from THIEF OF LIES

We stepped into the Children’s Library and stopped in the center of the room. A massive light fixture designed to resemble the solar system dominated the ceiling. The hushed rumble of two male voices came from one of the reading nooks. I crossed the room, paused at the built-in aquarium, and inspected the fish. Afton halted beside me.

“This is great,” I whispered, not wanting to disturb whoever was in there with us. “Fish and books. What’s not to love?” Spotting a sign referencing classic books, I searched the shelves for my all-time favorite novel.

The male voices stopped and there was movement on the other side of the bookcase. I paused to listen, and when the voices started up again, I continued my hunt.

Warmth rushed over me when I found The Secret Garden. With its aged green cover, it was the same edition I remembered reading as a young girl. The illustrations inside were beautiful, and I just had to show them to Afton. Coming around the corner of the case, a little too fast for being in a library, I bumped into a guy dressed in leather biker gear. My book and notebook fell and slapped against the floor.

“Oh, I’m so sorry—” I lost all train of thought at the sight of him. He was gorgeous with tousled brown hair and dark eyes. Tall. He flashed me a crooked smile, a hint of dimples forming in his cheeks, before bending over and picking up my forgotten book.

He held the book out to me. “Mistress Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?” He’d quoted a verse from The Secret Garden with a sexy accent that tickled my ears.

I stood there like an idiot, my heart pounding hard against my chest, unable to think of a response. The fact that he had read the book and could recite a line from it stunned me. And impressed me.

Say something. Anything.

“Good read there,” he said when it was obvious I wasn’t going to speak. He winked and nodded to a guy behind him before ambling off. When he reached the end of the row, he paused and glanced back at me, flashing me another killer smile, and then he disappeared around the bookcase.

Tingles rose in my stomach. He looked back at me. The guy following his Royal Hotness gave me a final appraisal before departing. His stringy blond hair hung over his large forehead. It looked like he hadn’t washed it in weeks, and there was probably an acne breeding ground under it. He grinned, and I broke eye contact with him, making for the nearest window.

Oh God, you’re so lame, Gia. You could have finished the quote or anything less tragic than not speaking at all. The response I would have said played in my head. With silver bells, and cockleshells, and marigolds all in a row. Why? Why hadn’t I said that?

Brenda DrakeAbout the Author

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Brenda Drake grew up the youngest of three children, an Air Force brat, and the continual new kid at school. Her fondest memories growing up are of her eccentric, Irish grandmother’s animated tales, which gave her a strong love for storytelling.

So it was only fitting that she would choose to write stories with a bend toward the fantastical. When she’s not writing or hanging out with her family, she haunts libraries, bookstores, and coffee shops, or reads someplace quiet and not at all exotic (much to her disappointment).

GIVEAWAYS

Follow Entangled Teen's THIEF OF LIES Blog Tour for more chances to win the prizes below!



So, what do you think?

I've been excited about THIEF OF LIES ever since I heard about it months ago, and I just started it! I'm really enjoying it so far!

Are you excited that THIEF OF LIES released today?