Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Blog Tour: Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn- Author Q&A, Review, + Giveaway

By Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
Thomas Dunne Books 
Publication Date: January 5, 2015
Hardcover: 9781250075963 / $18.99
eBook: 9781466887329 / $9.99

In the vein of Easy A, an honest and refreshing young adult novel about sex, love, and high school.

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 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 own 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.

Q&A with author Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

1.  I love the whole idea for this book!  Where did such an idea come from?

I was working on an entirely different New Adult contemporary when the idea for Firsts struck me in the head. All I had was the name Mercedes and the hook—a girl who wants to give virgin guys the perfect first time. I didn’t know what happened beyond that. I just knew I had to write the rest to find out. As I wrote, I got increasingly angry about the double-standard that exists for teenage girls when it comes to sex. Mercedes had to be the one to tell this story, her story, on behalf of girls everywhere who have endured unfair shaming for having sex. Those girls deserve better. 

2.  What were your favorite books growing up??  (Fear Street was my jam).

I read very widely growing up. When I was in grade school, I was obsessed with The Babysitter’s Club. I wanted to be part of their club so badly! I also loved Sweet Valley High and thought it would be pretty cool to be a Wakefield twin. Some days, Jessica, others, Elizabeth. 

3.  Besides reading, writing and blogging, I love fashion!!  What would Mercedes wear on a typical school day?

This is such a fantastic question! I am also a massive fashion lover. Mercedes, not so much. On a typical school day, she’d wear jeans, a leather jacket, and her trusty Converse shoes. She puts a lot less thought into what she wears to school than what she dons in her bedroom. 

4.   What are you doing for fun when you aren’t writing?

Reading, thrift store shopping, talking long walks in the woods with my husband and dog, hot yoga, and having wine and nachos with my sister!

5.  What were your 3 favorite books that you read in 2015?

This question is way too hard to answer because I read so many incredible books in 2015! Some that really stand out: ALL THE RAGE by Courtney Summers, UNDER THE LIGHTS by Dahlia Adler, THE ONE THING by Marci Curtis, BECOMING JINN by Lori Goldstein, THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS by Anna-Marie McLemore, DEVOTED by Jennifer Mathieu, and MY HEART AND OTHER BLACK HOLES by Jasmine Warga. These authors are so ridiculously talented and write with so much heart and soul. 

Laurie Elizabeth Flynn went to school for journalism and later worked as a model, a job that took her overseas to Tokyo, Athens, and Paris. She lives in London, Ontario, with her husband and her Chihuahua.


St. Martin’s Griffin

When I first heard about this book, I was completely intrigued.  It was recommended to me by a friend, and then the publisher contacted me about the blog tour, and I was SO feeling it.  I couldn't believe that there would be a YA book coming out that was willing to center on high school sex.  I love a book that goes for the hard issues, and this one was no exception!!

Mercedes is a girl who (for reasons) has sex with virgin guys who want to be able to give their girlfriend's a great first time without all the nervousness and awkwardness.  She teaches them the tricks of the trade (by doing the sex) and then helps them plan out the most special night possible for their girlfriends.  With a premise like that, I totally wondered where this could go??  I was cringing all over the place because I just knew that this would not end well.  While Mercedes thought (however misguidedly) that she was HELPING these guys, anyone who really takes a look at the situation can see that sleeping with someone else is NOT the way to give a girl a great first time.  Not just the cheating, but also the whole idea that these girls believe it's going to be BOTH of their first times... something that they're BOTH going to be going through together... and yeah, most people can see just how wrong on so many levels that is.

As Mercedes goes along with her helping plan, she starts getting lazy with her own rules.  Rules that she designed to keep everything on the DL and to keep her from getting too close.  Her screening process became completely blasé, and it started to become pretty clear that she was doing this whole thing for herself and not for the joy of helping.  As things started to blow up, I couldn't help but feel relieved because this shizz just could not keep going on this way.  The way it blew up became really heartbreaking though.  I wanted to hug Mercedes and shield her.  Luckily she has 2 amazing friends that do that for me.  Zach (the only non-virgin guy in her bedroom) and Faye (the new girl that latches on) both go above and beyond in ways that bordered on unbelievable.  While I really loved Zach and wanted to squish his face, I felt like he was too good to be true.  And Faye was total stalker-vibe.  But without them, I don't know how Mercedes would have made it through.

This book centers so much on sex and control.  Mercedes thinks she's in control of her sex life, but it becomes pretty obvious she's not.  And that's before her religious BFF's boyfriend blows up her spot.  Once that cat's out of the bag, some pretty extreme bullying goes on.  It's very sad to read a girl being treated the way Mercedes gets treated, even if what she did was wrong.  She wasn't the only one rolling around on those sheets.  The guys were just as much at fault, but they didn't get "Whore" written on their locker.  Or physically assaulted in the hallways.  I kept wondering where the hell the cops were, because a video gets leaked and it's pretty obvious that it's child porn.  The person who made the tape and posted the video should be facing some hardcore jail time.

In the end, I wished things didn't wrap up quite so cleanly.  This was a messy book, I thought it wasn't as true to the story to have things so HEA.  Although, there was a part of the ending that my heart just wanted to BURST of happiness from.  I had SO many feelings reading this book... not all of them good.  A lot of those feelings were frustration and anger at the situations, but I still HAD to know where this crazy-train was going.  I loved that it explored family issues and friendships and letting people "in".  I loved that it was a teen sexuality book, but I also kind of wished that the sex didn't have to lead to a whole big lesson thing.  On another topic- I would LOVE to read a book about teen sexuality where the teens don't have a giant lesson to learn.  Where it's healthy, happy sex and the teens are fine with it.  Sometimes sex is just sex.  Sometimes.

OVERALL: LOVED that a book dealt with teen sex so unashamedly.  I could not stop reading it because there was so much going on that kept me NEEDING to know!!  I am so happy I read this and hope you guys will all give it a chance too!


  • (1) Copy of Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
  • U.S. & Canada only

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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  1. I laughed when I saw that one of her favourite books growing up was The Babysitter's Club. I absolutely loved that series. I haven't thought about that series in such a long time. I'm really excited to read Firsts. At first I was worried because a topic like this going go either way, but I've only been seeing good things. I totally agree with you at the end of your review. It would be nice to read a book where sex is just sex, and there is no huge decision or life lesson to be made. Those books are important too, of course, but it would be nice to switch it up.

    Sarah @ Kerosene Lit

  2. Ahh I am so excited to start this one! I was immediately drawn to the cover and then when I read the synopsis I KNEW it would be a book I would love. I'm glad I preordered it since I've been reading such positive reviews and as soon as I finish all these fantasy books I didn't get to read in 2015 I'm definitely starting Firsts!

  3. I really want to read this one. I love the whole concept and like messy books. Messy is real sometimes. Agree with you on the whole lesson and sometimes sex is just sex. Great interview and review!!

  4. This one has been on my radar for a while. I love when a book portrays teenage sexuality honestly.