YA Book Review

First Came Forever by Annie Woods and Author Q & A

The Book:

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Book Title: First Came Forever

Book Author: Annie Woods

Page Count: 322

Publishing Date: August 31st, 2017

Publisher: Pegasus Elliot Mackenzie

Date Read: September 12, 2017

 


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First Came Forever is an enchanting, addictive love story! It’s one of those fantasy, dream like romances that you can’t get out of your head! Prepare yourself for a page turner full of intriguing drama, passion, and surprising twists!

The Plot: Sweden native, Erica Lindell, is about to start her senior year of high school. So, she and her friends decide to go backpacking through Vietnam as a last hurrah before their final year. While on her trip to see the historical sites, she meets the alluring Sasha Ailes, and begins to fall madly in love with him! They spend enough time together that they begin to plan a future together in the states, a future that feels like a fairy tale. But, Sasha has a secret about his true identity that has finally been discovered by Erica. Can Erica overcome the betrayal so they can live out their fairy tale forever?

I could not have predicted how much I would love this book! When I made it to the end I was speechless! I rarely pick up romance books and only occasionally pick up contemporaries, but this one may have my mind changed on those choices! I could not put this one down and I loved every minute of it! I loved the pacing, the romance, the twists and turns, and the characters! Annie did an incredible job with the writing style, world building, and character development! I cannot believe I have to wait for book two now!

I wish I could go in to detail about the plot and story twists, but I would be giving spoilers away if I did. I will say that I loved how bubbly and dream like the romance was. As I said, I am not usually one for romance, but reading this story just felt like it could be a fantasy of any teenage or young adult girl! It felt nice to live in the illusion. It wasn’t a perfect illusion either. Annie wrote in the twists to keep us grounded a little so it didn’t feel too over the top. She portrayed the characters and their emotions with such elegance that I always remembered I was reading about high school students, but didn’t feel like the story was too young for me.

Erica was one of my favorite characters because she felt like a down to earth high school girl! She was level headed (most of the time), intelligent, open minded, and had a big heart. She wasn’t stuck up or in to girly things like makeup and cheer-leading, and I loved how she fell in love with Sasha, but still was mature enough to hold concerns about the relationship and the pacing of it. I also really loved her father, Thomas, as a character and loved their relationship!

Sasha was such a heartthrob. He was the perfect fantasy boyfriend! I loved how loving he was toward Erica and how he wanted so much to change in to a better man because of her. He had a big heart and added so much passion and excitement to the story!

I was so intrigued by Tyler too! He had such a visual transformation throughout the story, and I really enjoyed it. He added a layer of mystery, and humor to the story and had the bad boy appeal!

And, let’s not forget Danny (and his AWESOME parents) and Ricky! This pair man, I loved them! They had different personalities and story roles, but both were amazing friends to Erica and both were so necessary for the enjoyment of the book! Danny, especially, was such a kind, caring character and had such a heartbreaking inner struggle to deal with. And Ricky, had a huge struggle to deal that added something so important to the plot! I may have loved these two more than Erica! And Danny’s parents were the “cool”, understanding parents and I loved them so much!

I felt like I was watching an amazing movie the entire time I was reading this! I can’t say which movies I was reminded of though, as that would give spoilers. But, this book had it all. It had love, passion, friendship, heart break, betrayal, humor, surprising plot twists, and a cliff hanger ending! It was a fluffy love story with incredible depth and I highly recommend to all YA readers (above age 16 though due to a few steamy scenes).

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Thank you to the author for sending me this free review copy in exchange for my honest opinion, and for participating in a Q & A!

The book did contain a few editing mistakes, but those in now way hindered my enjoyment!

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Author Q & A:


Me: When did you begin writing First Came Forever?

Annie: It’s a story I’ve been carrying with me for years. The image of Erica and how she moved to US for love came to me on a vacation in California over four years ago. Driving along Highway 1 the plot and the other characters crystalized; how she meets Sasha and falls heads over heels in love with him, but how difficult even such a strong love can be when reality hits with their different worlds and the mixed feelings for Tyler that intrudes Erica’s mind. On the plane back home I started writing this book.

So I’ve lived with the story and the characters for over four years now and I actually think about them as real-life-persons, like old friends that I wish the very best for.

Me: How much of Erica do you see in yourself?

Annie: Oh, so much! I have to admit that Erica is pretty much based off of myself.

I’ve always been a reader, a true bookworm who sometimes (too often) prefer books to people. Erica is just a tiny bit… oh, alright, A LOT… smarter and better looking and with way more integrity. But, just like me, she’s clumsy (we both actually walk into walls, missing the door opening), a kind of bad driver, but a great runner finding peace and quiet and respite from all demands out in the woods with her running shoes on.

Me: If you could cast an actor to play Sasha, who would it be?

Annie: Love this question! Really got me start thinking about how awesome it would be if First Came Forever was made into a movie someday… You know, Kit Harington would be an amazing Sasha, wouldn’t he? Or, if he’d still be too busy with the GoT, I could settle for Douglas Booth or Dave Franco.

Me: Who is your favorite author?

Annie: I have so many! I love YA authors Marie Lu, Cassandra Clare, Veronica Roth, Sarah Dessen, Jenny Han, contemporary authors Maggie O’Farrell, Curtis Sittenfield, Nobel prize winners Toni Morrisson, Nadine Gordimer, Doris Lessing… And an all time favorite is Joyce Carol Oates. But if I have to choose one author it would be E. Lockhart. I adore her style of writing and the twists in her books. She always leaves you stunned! My favorite book of all times is We Were liars.

Me: Was there a book, movie, or television show that influenced the story?

Annie: The image of Erica and how she moved to US for love came to me on the vacation in California, so it was more the landscape and the experiences we had when driving along Highway 1 that set the basis for the story. But then it was the song Moonlight by Stevie Nicks that gave me the final direction for the book. When I learned about how the song is a combination of Stevie’s own personal relationship and the love story between Bella and Edward in Twilight it just hit me how to get the story I’ve had in my head for so long together. That it should focus on something both ancient and up to today. So, my book is a love story of the same kind as Bella and Edward’s, but instead of a vampire tale, it’s a conventional kingdom and its old-fashioned rules that forces Erica to decide what is worth giving up for love.

Me: Where are some excited places you have traveled?

Annie: I love Africa! I’ve done some pretty amazing travel through South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mocambique. In Zimbabwe we stayed at in tents in the middle of nowhere, doing amazing walking safaris at sunrise, and in Botswana we did hippo safaris on the river. I’ve also dived with sharks at the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, that was intense! I also love Cambodia and Vietnam, which is quite obvious from the book… On the top of my bucket list I have walking the Inca trail to Machu Picchu, I hope to be able to do that very soon!

Me: How did you feel about writing the sex scenes? I have to say that I really admired how you wrote in about Sasha using protection and made sure he looked to Erica for consent each time. That is so important and I think that made the sex scenes more enjoyable for me, as I usually don’t care for those. Consent is ALWAYS important and I don’t think I have ever read a sex scene where the character thinks about protection. You wrote those scenes really well! 

Annie: *Blushing* Those were the hardest parts to write! I actually thought about not having any explicit sex scenes at first – partly because they’re hard to write and partly because you lose some younger readers due to them – but then I really felt that they were important for the story. (Sorry for a small spoiler alert here, but for example the scene were Tyler has sex with Miranda but thinks about Erica is kind of a key scene to explain how he’s struggling with his feelings and trying to do the right thing, but not quite succeeding.) But I spent a lot time writing them, mostly to get them not to be too quick. I wanted them to be sweet and overwhelming at the same time.

You know, I totally agree with you about the sex scenes and the use of protection, it’s so important and I really wanted to make it a natural part of having sex. And the consent. I worked really hard to try and get the reader to feel that Erica is in charge and that even though she’s a virgin and Sasha’s not, he does not push her to do anything she doesn’t feel good about.

Me: Did you always plan to have the ending twist as you were writing?

Annie: Yes and no. Right from the start I planned for this to be a trilogy, so before I started writing I had set the overall plot for all three books and also had a very strong idea about what would happen in each book. But then when I actually started writing, things kind of changed. Or rather, some persons just worked their magic on me. For example, Tyler was never meant to play such an important role, he just grew on me… So the ending twist as such was always the plan, but not exactly Tyler’s role in it.

Me: What do you like to do when you are not reading or writing?

Annie: Just like Erica I love to run, so I’m spending quite a lot of time with my running shoes on. I also love music, theatre, dance, art, movies and, of course, reading books. Anything that brings magic to your life, really! I also love traveling with my family and experiencing the world together and doing outdoor activities, like hiking, surfing or skiing.

Me: Is book 2 already in process?

Annie: Yes it is! I’ve just finished the first draft of the manuscript, but if you have any suggestions or ideas or persons you’d like to get more attention in the next book, or persons you don’t like and want me to get rid of, please reach out to me! I’d love feedback and to hear what you wish for! When re-reading the manuscript you always make a lot of changes and add or remove parts, so your feedback might set the story on another direction!

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About The Author:

side+crop+of+paperback+image+TSTME (1)Annie Woods grew up in Stockholm, Sweden, but has also spent a lot of time in USA, mostly in New York, and UK. Right now she’s got two homes, alternating between Stockholm and New York.

Reading has always been a big part of her life. She’s a true bookworm who sometimes (too often) prefers books to people. She’s especially addicted to YA and teen love stories. The books she read as a teenager have stuck with her through life and she still love YA books more than any other kind of literature.

First Came Forever is her debut YA novel. It’s the first book in the Angelheart Saga trilogy. Learn more about Annie Woods and the Angelheart Saga trilogy at anniewoodsbooks.com.

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