Review: Fifty First Times: A New Adult Anthology

Publication Date: February 25, 2014
Publisher: Avon Impulse
Reading Level: New Adult, 18+
Pages: 700 (iBooks App)
Source: Bought on Sale
You always remember your first time...

Whether it's the couple who decides not to go through with it, the two boys who finally aren't ashamed, the newlyweds whose wedding night could very well be their last night together, the deaf pair who have no choice but to take body language to a new level--or, of course, the two young lovers fumbling and laughing, getting everything wrong. These are the memories that will never fade.

Join nineteen fantastic authors as they pull back the curtain and give you a peek inside that one intense moment in their characters' lives when everything changes and nothing will ever be the same again.

Featuring stories from some of the hottest names in New Adult, Young Adult, and Romance including New York Times Bestselling authors J.Lynn/Jennifer Armentrout, Molly McAdams, Sophie Jordan, and Carrie Ryan.

NOTE: These stories are works of fiction. If you want to know about our first times, you'll have to buy us a pet monkey first.
~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

This will be a really simple overall review since I analyzed each story individually below. I have to admit that this book is overall satisfying. I'm not a big fan of anthologies, but after seeing a friends review of this I decided to check it out. I've been trying to get back into the new adult genre for a while now and I felt like this would be a solid gateway to discover some new authors. I really like my new adult novels to mean something instead of being an excuse to throw a lot of sex at readers, and I've got to admit that this book definitely satisfied that. There's something in here for everyone, though it's mostly contemporary, but they've got both some steaminess and a whole lot of sweetness with laughter sprinkled in between.

In all actuality, I only found myself struggling with a few of the stories. I enjoyed many of them and absolutely loved a lot more then I thought I would. I'm now on a crusade on twitter to get Melissa Landers to write a new adult novel because she's so amazing, but that's beside the point. The point is that this book served its purpose in introducing me to some new authors as well as making me find a few whose writing styles simply weren't compatible with my taste. This isn't just an anthology about first times, it's an anthology about looking at the past, learning about yourself, discovering love, and learning to do things outside of your comfort zone. One story in particular involves attacking your ex-boyfriend's new girlfriend with pretzel sticks from a roof while you were drunk--suffice to say there's a lot of laughter too.

The male leads are both as obnoxious as they come and as dreamy as they can get. I won't say anything more since you can find out my thoughts below, but Kai, Ollie, Ben, Hunter, Blake, and Rick are definitely some of mew favorites. I could use more of them and less of some others. Either way, this anthology will satisfy everyone's inner romantic.

However, I've got to take a moment to rant. Avon Impulse is published under HarperCollins...yet there was some seriously bad editing in here. There were a lot of typos or words misplaced and some words were pluralized when they weren't necessary. This should have been looked at thoroughly one more time before it made it to final publication. I have to dock points for this. All of these typos seriously disrupted my flow of reading.

I have to say that I think everyone should give this a chance if they're looking to get into the new adult genre or discover new authors. This is the perfect gateway into accomplishing both those tasks and it also helps you discover what type of reader you are!

3 stars


If you want to see a small analysis for each specific story, check out what's below after the "read more" option!

The Corner of First and Second by Gennifer Albin
Jacqueline Kelly ran away from her small town in Texas to attend college at UCLA to get away from the small town that nobody leaves. She wanted to be someone and you can't be someone in Beauford, Texas. It's not like she ran away to get away from her ex-boyfriend turned hot NYU-attending cowboy, Wes. Or did she? Overall, this story was okay. I guessed where it was going from the first page and wasn't all that surprised or impressed. The note that Albin chose to end it on was cute, but Wes was an extremely stereotypical love interest. Dark hair, light eyes, new and improved body served up with a Texas twang. I wish there was more originality to the tale and a smart girl wasn't turned into a ditzy girl that says "ohmigod!" Furthermore, I wish the editing was better..."and I crumbled crumpled against him." How did nobody catch that?

Rating in A Few Words: Okay. That's all I've got to say.

Daylight by Julie Cross
I've got to begin by saying I enjoyed Jack because he's a tortured soul. And I guess I like Audrey too. But the whole inexperienced thing was played up too much, as was her extreme emotions. She cried a lot. Sure, I understand why, but it bothered me at times. I hate that we couldn't be told what Jack does, I hate that there's no true answers, and I feel bad that our main character has to live this way. When you marry a guy whose job you don't know, you just know he has to go away and he leaves the day after the wedding, things are obviously going to be tough. And sure, the whole waiting until your wedding night thing was cute, but I just wanted more from this. And I also would have loved if there was better editing. Two typos does not make a reader happy--they interrupted my reading flow.

Rating In A Word: Eh.

A Little Too Scared by Lisa Desrochers
I adored this one. Firstly, our main character is a kick-ass army vet who was deployed in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, she was part of a terrible accident there and now bears many scars because of it. She's suffering and self-conscious, but she can't let go of Rick, her long-distance boyfriend that she met through her best friend in her regime that happened to be from her small town. When he forces his way into her life in person her world is turned upside down. Rick is amazing and I adored every minute of him. This was a really sweet story about learning to love yourself and being open with the way you view others. Oh, and first times obviously. Really enjoyed this one. And there were no typos.

Rating In A Few Words: Really enjoyable!

Once Bitten by Cole Gibsen
It kills me a little bit that the typos are back. I haven't read anything by Cole Gibsen before, so I'm going to chalk this up to bad editing. This was a cute one. I loved how there was no outright sex in this, just an illusion to it. Clean new adult is hard to come by. I also loved that our main character trained dogs for a living. The very beginning of the chapter led me in a completely different direction, which made me laugh out loud when I realized her true occupation. Our love interest, Tanner, is interesting to say the least. I don't feel like I truly know him and there's many questions left unanswered. He, I would say, is the most dissatisfying part of the story. Also, if I was missing, I sure as Hell wouldn't want the person carrying my search and rescue dog that's trying to save me freaking out over relationship drama along the way.

Rating in A Few Words: Cute, but unrealistic. Simply satisfying.

Crash by Sophie Jordan
I've never read a story by Sophie Jordan, but I'm really tempted to now! This story was superb. I really don't want to share anything about it because I loved it so much, but I will say that our love interest was the best hero you could ask for. He shatters your a-typical stereotypes and brings on the warm fuzzies when realizing that hidden somewhere there really are people like him out there. Again, no actual first times, which I enjoyed because these two had such a powerful connection without having to have intimate scenes. They were intimate in their own way and I really want to see more of them. May have to check out her new adult series, though I've heard very mixed reviews on that.

Rating In A Few Words: My favorite story in the entire book!

Under the Seryn Moon by Melissa Landers
Ah! Melissa need to write some new adult! Hell, you need to write a full story about these two because I absolutely adored this. Lyra is such a strong girl and don't even get me started on Kai. Kai, like Hunter, is not your typical prince and I appreciate that a lot. I also like that this is something new. The two of them were forced together in an arranged marriage to bring peace in a time of war and yet they can still find a way to love each other instead of being forceful monsters. Really great and unique idea...with good editing!

Rating In A Few Words: This is tied for my favorite story in the entire book!

How to Be A Heart Breaker by Lauren Layne
And the bad editing returns! With that aside, I adored this one! This book finally got on a roll. Again, totally clean but really adorable and enough to make me buy one of her books that's only 99 cents on iBooks upon completion of the story. Garrett is the perfect combination of snark and attractiveness and our main character reminds me a lot of myself--an admittedly snarky nerd. Though one of the longer stories in this anthology it is absolutely adorable. Our main character discovers herself and realizes she doesn't have to be stuck in the mold that her parents put her in. Very solid for a short story.

Rating in A Few Words: Absolutely adorable! Definitely among the best!

Two in the Morning by Roni Loren
An LGBTQ love story! Yes, yes, yes! I don't really have anything else to say besides the fact that I love that this relationship was treated no differently then any other and to watch a character who had a really shitty year finally have something good happen to them was awesome. I really just don't want to give anything else away.

Rating In A Few Words: Yes, yes, yes!

Believe in Me by Jennifer L. Armentrout
I've been struggling with Jennifer L. Armentrout's new adult writing lately because I've been struggling with the new adult genre as a whole. I feel like some authors are using it as an excuse to write erotica for teens. I wasn't all that happy with Armentrout's WAIT FOR YOU because there was just unecessary over-doing of sex. It was this awesome romantic tale with sass and snark and then a ton of sex. It's not like I mind it, but I like my stories to have a plot. And that's been my struggle with new adult. This story is sex. I don't know how else to put it. Yet, Ollie's really interesting. The kid's not only got a heart, but he's a romantic under his tough exterior. Makes me want to give him a chance. You know...if his plot continues. Don't know what else to say.

Rating In A Few Words: I do not like books with no plot, yet I think this one may have some hope?

Sharing Firsts by Molly McAdams
I can't really describe this besides saying it's really cliche. Two kids grow up together as neighbors and fall in love. Eventually they'll get married and work through all their problems together. It's cute and littered with cliches and slightly over dramatic to the point where I was just waiting for the end to be here.

Rating In A Few Words: Super cliche and not for me, though Kinlee is an awesome name.

Strike Out by Myra McEntire
This is an adorable tale about the potential start of a wonderful relationship built out of baseball. Ben is the romantic equivalent of perfection that makes my inner romantic really happy and I can't Liza is any less awesome. Who doesn't love a girl who can defend herself that also watches Doctor Who?

Rating In A Few Words: Ben. That's all.

This Is My Sign by Hannah Moskowitz
A very short story, a mere five pages in the format I'm reading, but really really beautiful. It's told in a poetic form because our main character writes poetry. It's one of his ways of expressing himself because he's deaf. And it's the only way he communicates with the love of his life, Stephanie, who he met at a school for the deaf. And wow...I'd really love to read a full story about a deaf couple now. This was damn powerful.

Rating In A Word: Wow.

Going For Broke by Lyla Pane
This was actually really hilarious in the beginning and slowly transitioned to seriousness. Tress lost Noel, the guy she loved but didn't realize she loved him until it was too late. Now she needs him to know to calm her mind. She's got nothing to lose, she's going for broke, and she'll do anything just to clear the air so that things don't end on a bad note. But Noel loves with his whole self, and he's damn awesome because of it. Really cute tale with a lot of questionable and chaotic history behind it that I am very curious about.

Rating In A Few Words: Satisfying, wouldn't want to be Alice though.

For the Sake of Science by Mark Perini
Before I begin I have to say that I'm cringing that there is a character named Jewels. I really enjoyed that this story was written like a science experiment since our main character is a science nerd. The little data entries (only about four or five in total) were hilarious, but I have to say the author got a date wrong at one point. How did no editor catch any of this?! Aside from that, the concept of finding love in a foreign country is awesome. I think it's everyone's silent fantasy. With that in mind, I can't say I enjoyed any of the rest of the story. While the language barrier was adorable, admitting you love someone after exchanging less then three sentences with them is nuts. The characters knew each other for less then 48 hours and they already knew that they had found "the one." Too much for me. No bueno para mi. (Is that proper Spanish?)

Rating In A Few Words: Not for me. Cute idea wasted by impossibilities.

Love In An Elevator by Carrie Ryan
Attraction igniting while stuck in an elevator? Check. A really hot male lead? Check. A well-written story with proper editing? Check. A main character finally stepping out of her shell and realizing she's pretty damn awesome? Check. I loved this story, and damn, do I want a Russel in my life. There's nothing more to say.

Rating In A Few Words: Carrie Ryan is a genius.

Bunga Bunga by Andrew Shaffer
I did not like this one at all. We had a previous chapter between two guys and it was really sweet. When you compare it to this one this is just crude and inappropriate and seemingly stupid. Not my thing at all and I didn't have any desire to finish it. The only story in this book that I did not finish.

Review In A Few Words: Inappropriate and Crude. Just no.

With The Lights On by Alessandra Thomas
I'm going to be honest and say I got two pages in and the vibe simply wasn't working for me. I didn't like how it started so I just skipped it.

Review In A Few Words: Can't comment, didn't read it.

Field Emotions by Melissa West
This appeals to both my inner romantic and my inner sports nut. There was some serious themes underlying this one and the characters didn't have the easiest lives. Summer was amazing. She was smart and funny and loved Blake with her entire heart and soul. Blake was rather amazing too, not your stereotypical love interests which makes him all the more appealing. I could definitely read a full length story about these two.

Rating In A Few Words: I really loved this one!

Grind by Tracy Wolff
Gage and Dyani had an interesting dynamic. He left Taos when he was seventeen to escape his father with nothing but a hundred dollar snowboard and the hope of becoming a professional. Now that he's on his way he came back to compete two years later and to call Dyani, the love of his life, to apologize for having to leave her. The two of them are cute, but I just wasn't feeling their relationship all that much. It could have been more powerful.

Rating In A Few Words: Okay.

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