On the Edge by Ilona Andrews

Buddy Read with Ilona Andrews Addicts (IAA)!

“You are the measure of my wrath.”

Okay, first I need to address the elephant in the room! I originally wanted to read these books, because while reading Sweep in Peace my friends kept telling me about the crossover of characters from this book. No big deal, I marked it in my notes and figured I’d read this series eventually. Then, at the perfect time Ilona Andrews Addicts (IAA) decided to do a buddy read! So I’m reading this, and completely loving it, and by the end I’m like, “Man, I really love Jack, he’s like my favorite in this book!” Then I finish and I’m like, “Where was that crossover everyone was talking about?” Finally, I look at my notes and almost faint! I didn’t even take into account that the crossover characters could have aged! And apparently, I didn’t look at the names in the notes very well. Seriously, I was at a loss for words! And now I have to read on and find out about Gaston and Lark/Sophie.

Okay, enough fangirling. This story is about the Edge, which is where the Weird and the Broken touch. The Weird has magic, and the Broken does not. They are mirrors, or parallel universes, to each other. So essentially, the people that live in the Edge are between worlds.

Edgers have a magical “flash”, which is a very powerful magic whip that varies on potency with not only your practice, but also your bloodline. The more white your flash is, the better it is. There is a vast array of colors, but I know white is the best, blue and green are second, and red is the worst. The main character of this book, Rose, surprises everyone when she is able to flash white. Not only are they surprised because she’s always been looked over as nothing special, but because this must mean she has royalty in her bloodline. One would think this is a good thing, but it truly is a curse, because now people see how valuable she really is! So now they want to breed her, marry her off then breed her, or sell her off to be bred. This did remind me a little of Storm Born by Richelle Mead, but it’s also my favorite Richelle Mead series, so whatever.

Rose is also taking care of her two younger brothers that I was fangirling over earlier. Georgie is a necromancer that doesn’t fully understand his power. He also has a very hard time letting things die, so he’s constantly resurrecting them, but at a price. Then we have Jack, who is an Edge Lynx! Aka: an adorable cat shifter! Georgie is only ten, and Jack is only eight, but their unconditional love (for each other, and their sister) was really heartwarming, and maybe the best thing about this book.

Rose and her brothers have had a hard life. Their mother passed away, but not before completely tarnishing their reputation. Their father also left them high and dry to find treasure. All they have left is their Grandmother who is one of the six elders in the town. None of them have any money, so Rose is doing her best, working minimum wage jobs and getting treated very poorly. Rose is a really strong female lead, but people treat her pretty shitty in this book, and she is unable to do anything about it (even though she is more powerful than any of them), because everything in the Edge has a repercussion. The Edge has no real law enforcement, so the families just do whatever retaliation they see fit. Rose cares too much about not being able to put food on the table for her bothers, to start a rift between the other people of the Edge.

Rose is just barely getting by, while making the best of the situation for her little brothers, until a powerful nobleman comes to her door named Declan. Rose immediately thinks he is after her for breeding purposes and that she can scare him off, but soon realizes that he is even more powerful than her. They make an arrangement that he has to complete three tasks for her, and if he is able to do so, then she has to come, willingly, with him.

While all of this is going on, someone (well, technically two people) from Declan’s past is also in the Edge, and is making quite a few problems for the townsfolk. This villain is making magical hounds that want to eat magic; whether it is spells, or just human bodies that contain magic. After this information comes to light, it’s a battle between Rose, Declan, and the townspeople versus this evil sorcerer. Rose soon discovers that Declan is worthy of her trust, and it has nothing to do with the tasks he is completing for her. Declan isn’t likable right away (far from it), but by the end I really came around to him, and cannot wait to start the second book in this series. Oh my gosh, I loved Declan’s Mom at the end of this book, too!

The sole reason I didn’t give this five stars was because the William situations with Rose made me uncomfortable. Like, why was he at Wal-Mart, and why did he so badly want to date Rose out of nowhere? They legitimately only shared a few words, but he seemed appalled that she wouldn’t go out with him. Then, he kept trying and kept asking. It’s like, dude, she told you no. Get out of her life. I understand the convenient twist at the end made the situation more acceptable, but I couldn’t get passed the awkwardness and unnecessariness of William and Rose’s meeting. Couldn’t she of just spotted the wolf a few places and felt compelled to learn more? Then when the twists came out she could have been like, “Oh my gosh, I’ve been seeing that wolf everywhere lately!”

I’m still convinced that Ilona and Gordon cannot write a bad book. This writing duo is seriously at the top of their genre, and not even a single writer comes close. They are consistently delivering me (and my Kindle) great stories that are unique. I will auto-buy and read everything by them, at this point in my life.

Sweep in Peace by Ilona Andrews

Apparently, Jack, George, Gaston, and Lark/Sophie are all from IA’s other series The Edge. I haven’t read this series yet, but going off my friend’s reviews this is either going to make you very happy or completely turn you off of this book! I am kind of scared to read it, but I loved Sweep in Peace so maybe I’ll dive in one day when my stacks of “to reads” isn’t touching my bedroom ceiling.

Oh, and I also think you will be able to read this for free on IA’s website, but I don’t think all the chapters are up yet. Or maybe they took it down for the actual book release? Either way, I think you will eventually be able to read it for free, which is pretty neat.

Ilona Andrews has a gift that most authors do not have; every book they write makes me want to be a part of that world. I remember being so young while reading Harry Potter, and I felt the same magic after I finished every book. That crazy longing to want to live in that world, and be a part of that story. Maybe I’m just crazy, but that’s what Ilona does for me that most other authors will never be able to achieve, and for that they will get my never ending applause. Hell, Kate Daniels is post-apocalyptic and I still want to live in that world! Seriously, my fan-girling has made me sick, but I’m too far gone for any cure.

Sweep in Peace starts right up from where Clean Sweep left off. Honestly, you could probably just jump in and read this one; you just might not appreciate it (or Sean) as much, but this book does a wonderful job filling in the blanks without making the reader feel overwhelmed with information. Dina and Gertrude Hunt are still the same, while Caldenia is still the Inn’s only guest. Well, that soon changes when Dina accepts to host The Summit for three factions who are at war over a planet. The planet, Nexus, contains large subterranean reserves of Kuyo, which is a liquid used in production of “pharmaceutical asset of significant strategic value”. So it’s very valuable and everyone is fighting over it.

The Three Factions:
1.) The merchants of Baha-char represented by Nuan Cee’s clan (cute little fox people). You’ll realize they are fighting for much more than just the Kuyo.
2.) The hope-crushing Horde represented by Otrokar (aliens that form their bodies for their jobs).
3.) The Holy Anocracy represented by House Krahr (vampires). Oh yes, this means Arland *swoon*.

So needless to say, Dina’s Inn is very full in this book. So she has to hire a chef to cook for all these people while she is constantly making sure Gertrude Hunt stay neutral and safe for all the new guests. The chef she hires ends up being my favorite character. Basically, he’s an exiled giant porcupine, who’s a former Red Cleaver chef, who is obsessed with mangoes and named Orro. I’m not really sure I have to say much more than that, but I can promise you if you read this book you, too, will fall in love with him!

This book is filled with Dina trying to keep the peace in her inn, while also trying to get all three factions to sign a peace treaty with one another. Obviously, it’s no small task and has Dina constantly working with these very different clans. Some major twists and turns happen, which leaves the reader on the edge of their seat while trying to figure out all the mysteries.

Overall, I loved this installment and cannot wait for the third. Please, oh please give us Klaus in the next one. Dina needs him, and I sure as hell need to know more about him. The epilogue will probably leave you wanting more Sean, even though all I want is more Arland.

“I asked him if he was leaving anyone behind. He said he met a girl with stardust on her robe, and when he looked into her eyes, he saw the Universe looking back.”

Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews

I loved this new world and expected nothing less from this amazing writing duo. I was not expecting all the sci-fi developments, so that took me for by a very pleasant surprise. The concepts in this book were so unique; I’ve never read anything about “Innkeepers” before. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a completely new concept they created. Basically, if you’re looking for a good PNR/sci-fi love child, I can’t recommend this enough.

So what’s the deal with this innkeeper and her inn? Well, first off the inn is a sentient being that gives immense powers to the Innkeeper when they are on its property, and even some powers when off of it. Just like inns in our world, people check in to stay for however long periods of time and the innkeeper will see to their needs. In this world, travelers come from all over the universe and have some pretty peculiar wants and needs. Our main character and innkeeper, Dina, came into the profession because her parents were also innkeepers so she grew up with it and loved the lifestyle. Unfortunately, her parents and their whole inn disappeared, so she’s now made it her life mission to find them.

But what would an inn be without guests? We have a sexy neighborhood werewolf that doesn’t know how powerful he really is. We also have a vampire full aware of his power, who is a warrior that is pretty swoon-worthy. Yes, that combination does equal a love triangle. Then my personal favorite, a cannibal alien that’s on the run, with a strange appetite for Mellow Yellow and Funyuns. Then we throw in a very dangerous alien called a dahaka with his stalker beasts at his side, and we have a full paranormal/sci-fi cast.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t love this book as much as I did the rest of the Kate Daniels series, but it was still a good read. It just wasn’t un-put-down-able like how I find Kate Daniels. It still has the super witty writing that makes you laugh out loud and feel silly giggling to yourself. It still portrays Dina as a strong independent woman character that more girls would strive to be like. Most important, it still had an engaging story that makes for a wonderful read. This book might not be five stars, but it was still one of the better books I’ve read in 2015.

“I have spent my spare time studying literature popular with young women of this planet. One should always study the battlefield.”
Sean glanced at him. “And?”
“I suggest you give up now. According to my research, in a vampire-werewolf love triangle, the vampire always gets the girl.”

Never Never, #3 by Colleen Hoover & Tarryn Fisher

“The only thing I have room for in this head of mine right now is the firm belief that fate absolutely exists. Fate…soul mates…time travel…you name it. It all exists. Because that’s what her kiss feels like. Existence.”

I love these two authors, and I ate up the last two installments of this series like they were brownies without calories. Unfortunately, this conclusion didn’t work for me.

Part One and Part Two had a constant build up to why these characters were losing their memories every forty-eight hours. There were so many twists and turns, and just really forced the reader to become obsessed with these little novella thrillers! We were thrown all these breadcrumbs, and were constantly trying to pieces together all these jagged edges of clues!

And for what? A Goddamn cop out, cheesy as fuck, ending. I’m sorry for being so harsh, but it’s the truth. All the information we received about their families, their past, their time spent in different locations, all their journal entries, all for nothing! I expected better from both of these authors that have wrote some of my favorite books of all time! These two know how to tell an amazing story and craft an amazing twist; I’m not sure what and the hell they were thinking! It was so underwhelming.

Then we get this epilogue that was completely redundant, and honestly just pissed me off even more. On top of the let down of the twist as to why Charlie and Silas were losing their memories, they then try to pull the same thing again, but twenty years later. Like, please.

I’m just going to act like I didn’t read this, and the reason they were really losing their memories was because of something cool. Like, an evil demon was casting a spell making them forget everything, but he could only cast the spell every forty-eight hours! And they had to find a certain clue that would lead them into a faery world, because Charlie’s dad is the king of all the faeries, locked up in his iron bar prison. Yeah, let’s go with that, I like that.

Never Never, #2 by Colleen Hoover & Tarryn Fisher

Well, I read this in under an hour.

I liked it, I really did, but I can’t help feeling ripped off. I was expecting a book, not a novella. This was barely over 100 pages. The writing style was amazingly gripping, which I wouldn’t expect any less from this amazing collaboration, but I just wanted more content.

We learned a lot about the name of the series. We did sorta find out what happened to Charlie. We kind of know who’s behind all this madness. We got more of the love filled letters that still make me question where boys like Silas were when I was in high school. Yet, I still feel let down.

I feel like I can’t even give a proper review, because honestly there isn’t much to review, but I liked what I read. I liked what I read a lot. I’m a sucker for these breadcrumbs, but I want them to turn into a meal.

Kudos for Tarryn including that Marrow shout out. That shit made me giggle and I loved it.

Never Never, #1 by Colleen Hoover & Tarryn Fisher

I thought this lovely book was supposed to drop the 15th, but a little bird told me to check Amazon. I hit the “Buy now with 1-Click” button with lighting fast speed.

Co-authored books scare me. Mostly because of James Patterson, but I was still a little hesitant to start this. I think I’m the only person in the world that didn’t give Colleen Hoover’s Hopeless 5 stars, but on the other hand, Tarryn Fisher’s Mud Vein was the best book I’ve read in a decade. Regardless, this partnership worked.

The first thing about the novel that deserves a standing ovation is the dedication:

“This book is dedicated to everyone who isn’t Sundae Colletti.”

I’ve never seen a dedication like this, and I loved it. Plus, it made me giggle far more than I expected. It really started the amazing vibe I felt all while reading this book.

This book is almost impossible to review without giving away spoilers, but I will try my best. You are thrown into a wonderfully mysterious world where our two main characters, Charlie and Silas, cannot remember a thing from their lives. They are both at school, and don’t even recollect their names. They slowly piece a few things together, and realized they were in a relationship and their families business overlap.

This is one of the most suspenseful books I’ve read in a long while. I was completely addicted and couldn’t put this down. I devoured it all in one sitting, with a smile on my face. I knew going in that this would be the first in this series, but I couldn’t help being sad that I wasn’t given more information when I reached the end. I loved the breadcrumbs. Jesus, did I love the breadcrumbs. Yet, that still didn’t help my sadness when it was over. I expected a hint as to why this was happening to them – But all I got was a missing Charlie, and the knowledge that this has happened a few times before. Each time they are able to write down more notes, in hopes that their freshly brain washed selves will find them. Then, the cliffhanger broke me.

This was also a really romantic book. Some of the notes from Silas, that Charlie would read… those feels. Even the pictures he would take of (and for) Charlie. Man oh man, where were boys like him when I was in high school?

“How odd to be made of flesh, balanced on bone, and filled with a soul you’ve never met.”

Tarryn had to have wrote this line. Her words are always so beautiful, she leaves me speechless. I can’t even put into words her talent with word play. I will read anything and everything from this woman. Never Never was amazing.

For the First Time: Twenty-One Brand New Stories of First Love by Alessandra Torre

I gave this anthology 3 stars overall, because out of a possible 105 stars (5 stars possible for each of the 21 stories) this anthology accumulated 56 stars (53%).

Each story in this anthology has a little synopsis before the story actually starts. I really appreciated it, especially since a lot of readers have certain triggers, and it would be super helpful if you were planning on skipping some of these stories. The masochist in me made me finish all twenty one, including the ones I assumed would end up being one star reads.

My favorite story was It Takes Two by Nikki Sloane. It was exactly what I wanted from this anthology, and I wish more of the stories were like this, because it was pretty close to perfect for me. My least favorite, by far, was Trailer Park Eden by CJ Roberts. It was honestly the worst thing I’ve read since Her Master’s Courtesan. Overall, I purchased this for only 99 cents, so I can’t really complain that there were a few stories that didn’t align with my likes. Plus, there were some real hidden gems in this collection, and I will for sure be reading more by these authors that I previously knew nothing about.

1.) Sole by Alessandra Torre: One Star ★
Well, sadly this first story didn’t work for me. I love all of Alessandra’s books except Hollywood Dirty, and this short story is a continuation of it. I don’t like reading about southern belles, I’m not sure how a chicken going to the bathroom in the pool would ruin an entire swim party, and the sex was mediocre. If you’re craving more Summer, Cole, and Cocky, you’ll probably enjoy this novella, but it did not work for me at all, and made for a really sad start for this anthology.

2.) Begging for More by Kim Karr: Four Stars ★★★★
This story was much more like I was expecting with this anthology! This was a super sexy read! It reminded me a lot of In Flight (which I loved), but also Lick (which I didn’t love), and somehow that combination really worked for me! This short story also showcases a good way to write instalove and have it be believable. I might even check out more of Kim Karr’s books involving these characters, because I liked this glimpse into their world so much.

3.) Heartbreak by Skye Warren: One Star ★
I really enjoyed this story, until the end. Like, why would she even do that? She could have remained silent and had a much better outcome. Unnecessary angst will ruin a book for me. I guess the story accomplished its job in making the reader want to know what will happen next, but it was still a cheap way to do it. Plus, I don’t think this story was a good fit for an anthology about “first time love”.

4.) Naughty Wishes by Sarah Castille: One Star ★
This short was just full of cringe. From talking about her husband’s skull pajama bottoms, to the main character being constantly coerced into a threesome with their dentist who, “likes her teeth”. Seriously, this could have been the best sex written to date (it wasn’t), and the plot would still ruin it. The husband was forceful and gross, and the star was lacking a backbone. They have a terrible marriage, and one night of being kinky isn’t going to help them. This story is definitely written for older women who think they want to experience some Fifty Shades of Grey treatment.

5.) He First and Only by Alexa Riley: Four Stars ★★★★
Now this is the kind of story I was expecting from this short story collection! It’s a little unrealistic, but completely embodies “first love” that is filled with really good sex. This story features two lost lovers who find each other after being separated for ten years. Once they conveniently find each other, nothing (and no article of clothing) will keep them apart. There is also a “breeding” theme in this, which seems rare in the erotica I end up reviewing.

6.) Decadent Knights by Julia Sykes: Three Stars ★★★
This story is centered around a girl healing from her abusive past and learning to feel safe in a Dom/sub relationship. Her “Master” is the one that saved her from her torment, so it’s really easy for her to trust him. This short story is about a night of him showing her how desirable she really is, while in a BDSM club.

7.) A Lake George Christmas by Debra Presley: Two Stars ★★
This was corny and just full of fluff. I’m sure many people will read this story and really enjoy it, but it was just too over the top for me. I could tell from the first page what the “surprise” was He was going to propose. This was the most innocent in this entire collection, but I guess I didn’t go into this collection wanting innocent. This really just didn’t work for me. Also, enough with the “super star musician” and her body guard, please.

8.) Advent by Nina Lane: Two Stars ★★
I almost feel like I need more back-story with this one. The main protagonist seemed to be struggling with what she wants in life. First, she acted like she tried to break up with her boyfriend, but by the end of the story she was planning a future with him. I don’t know, it just seemed really back and forth to me. It wasn’t a bad story; it just wasn’t a good one either. Also, I feel bad for the coworkers that received her Christmas cookies.

9.) Looking for a Complication by Tamsen Parker: Two Stars ★★
On the first page of this story, the main character will proceed to tell you how she fears “dooring someone” more than becoming poor or being mugged. This is about the time I lost all hope for this story. The little tidbit/synopsis before reading the story was bad, but the “dooring someone” severity really is what pushed this story right into the trash can. Apparently, “dooring” is when you open your car door and hit someone on a bicycle. Is this real life? We never had terms like this growing up in Flint, or now in Las Vegas. Is this a thing? An actual concern that is more important than being mugged and going broke? This all made me extremely sad, because it was the only F/F story in this anthology, but the first few pages just really ruined the mood for me. I didn’t hate this one, I just couldn’t get into it after the beginning.

10.) Test Driving The Billionaire by Cynthia Sax: One Star ★
The male lead in this is named Drift. Drift’s nickname for the female lead is Wrench. He also has a “Need For Speed” Tattoo. Please Lord, help me wake up from this nightmare. Drift is also Wrench’s Cassandra’s boss and this whole story is a lawsuit waiting to happen. Then, there were so many car/racing innuendoes that I think my eyes rolled out of my fucking head.

11.) Delay of Game by Jen Frederick: Three Stars ★★★
I suppose I can see why this short story would be likeable; girl approaching thirty, tired of the same old days, so she decides she finally want more (husband, kids, the whole shebang). It happened a little fast for me, but I will take into account that this is a short story collection, so things kind of have to be fast. It was still a little unrealistic, and the sex wasn’t great, but it made me feel warm inside, so three stars it is!

12.) Her First Choice by Lynda Chance: Five Stars ★★★★★
This was exactly what I was looking for in this collection. A fluffy story filled with good sex. It was simple, maybe a little farfetched, but amazing. This story is about a girl at a bar, who is looking for rebound sex. She sees a guy she remembers from her past, that she has lusted over for year. Obviously, the feeling is mutual for this guy, and then comes some yummy sex. It wasn’t over complicated, and was really easy to enjoy. I wish all twenty-one stories were like this.

13.) Sympathy for the Devil by Cynthia Rayne: One Star ★
From the very start, I really hated the southern tone and dialect in this. Basically, this story is about a woman who fled with her son, after her mobster husband started to be abusive. His right hand man comes to find her after a turn of events. The sex was super short, like you could blink and miss it. Overall, it really gave me a prostitute vibe, and I didn’t like any aspect of this novella.

14.) Trailer Park Eden by CJ Roberts: One Star ★
This was by far the worst story in this collection. This story actually made me want to stop reading this anthology all together. It was completely disgusting and terrible. This sorry excuse for a story is about a deaf brother and a blind sister who are both seventeen (twins) and incredibly poor. Oh, and they want to have sex with each other. Sadly, the young boy is too busy selling his body to old men in the trailer park for money. Seriously, this was terrible and I wouldn’t recommend for anyone. I can’t believe this is the same author that wrote Captive in the Dark.

15.) It Takes Two by Nikki Sloane: Five Stars ★★★★★
This story accomplished what probably all this authors of this anthology set out to do; make the reader want to read the rest of your work. I fell so in love with these characters and this story! It was exactly what you’d expect from a collection like this, and it wasn’t sugarcoated. This novella is about shooting a porn scene, but the characters develop more feelings than they were expecting. This was my favorite story in this anthology, and I can’t wait to try out the rest of Nikki Sloane’s Blindfold Club series.

16.) Heart of Eve by Pam Godwin: Four Stars ★★★★
I liked this one a lot just because it was so different and unique. The setting is post apocalyptic, where only men are left living, and our main character is a devoted priest who has been celibate his whole life. He’s never had a problem keeping his promise of faith, until he stumbles upon the last female left on Earth, and his new devotion becomes to keep her safe. The sex scene was a little cheesy, but I just love how this author took a leap and wrote something different for this anthology. Also, some of the humans are now morphed into bug like monsters, and that was kind of a cool and unique twist, unlike the predictable zombies.

17.) Steal My Breath by Nina Levine: Three Stars ★★★
First off, this author is not using the word “trolling” right, in my opinion. So that was a little awkward for me, and seemed like she was just trying to be hip or connect with a younger audience. Besides that I was really happy with this story. It was short, simple, and cute. Our main character is desperate for love, and to fix her dry spell, when she realizes maybe the man she is lusting over is more obtainable than she thought.

18.) Rapunzel’s First Knight by Shoshanna Evers: Four Stars ★★★★
Oh my gosh, this was the biggest tease of this collection, but it was really good. It was a super cute retelling that definitely will leave the reader wanting more. It was kind of funny for me to read this erotic retelling of Rapunzel, because I just recently read Cress, so I kept giggling like I was twelve. I have to say I prefer this version much more!

19.) Swept Away by Anna Zaires: Four Stars ★★★★
I will say that the consent in this might be a little on the grey side, but I still really enjoyed this short story. It was very different than the rest, with a sci-fi theme. It is also set in Third Century Greece, where a poor girl, who is scavenging for food for her family, soon realizes there is more technology on other planets. She also finds out that she has more opportunities in life than just being married off to someone in her village.

20.) Unique by Avery Aster: One Star ★
I could barely finish this story. First, the author wrote a letter to the reader before the story even started, so it totally threw off the mood. None of the other authors did that, and it just seemed really tacky. Then, I’m all about book diversity, but the dialect in this is borderline offensive. The story itself is all over the place, hopping to different times, places, and between characters. This is supposed to be a short story; you can’t throw a million different things at the reader and expect them to be able to easily follow. It’s also hard to take a story seriously that is constantly talking about “balls” and using slang like “Nice ‘n’ Nasty”. This completely didn’t work for me.

21.) Owned by Jenika Snow: Four Stars ★★★★
This was a great finale to this anthology. The story might be a little unbelievable, but it had some of the best sex out of the twenty-one stories. This short story is about a girl who is in desperate need of money, so she decided to sell her virginity off at an auction. Her boss, who has always secretly liked and wanted her, has decided to buy her and give her a night she will never forget. Obviously, he wants more than one night, but the night we get read about is pretty sexy!

The V-Word: True Stories About First-Time Sex by Amber J. Keyser

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This was such a wonderful book that I wish every young girl could read; especially those who are contemplating having sex for the first time. This book tells the story of seventeen different women, and how each of them lost their virginities. And the spectrum of the narratives in this book is phenomenal. I think every woman could connect to at least one of these very different women’s experiences.

“Virginity isn’t a possession locked behind a chastity belt or spread wide on silken sheets. It’s not a ripe cherry waiting to be plucked, popped, or eaten. Virginity is a state of being. Being a virgin means standing on one side of an experience, not yet having walked through the door. Crossing the threshold is far more about gaining something than about losing it.”

My favorite aspect of this book is that it actually deals with how we, as a society, handle women’s virginities. This book sets a perfect tone on how it feels to grow up as a girl, with this “gift” that you can only give away once. Some hold on to it for far too long, in fear of losing it to the “wrong person” (this was me, 100%). Then some are so eager to get it done and over with, so they don’t have this looming dark cloud following them. Some are so indifferent, and realize that the title “virgin” means nothing. This book is filled with these very vast perspectives. Maybe if I had a book like this as a teen, I wouldn’t have had to carry all the anxiety that I did, because at the end of the day being a virgin, or not being a virgin, doesn’t make us any different.

Society fills young people’s minds with what losing your virginity should be like, but these essays show you what losing your virginity is actually like. This book gives so many informed answers to the reader, but it also gives a lot of website links and phone numbers to help young girls make their own choices that are healthy, safe and right for their wants/needs.

“And along the way women have discovered that there is a V-word far more powerful than virginity—VOICE.”

I also loved the Q&A after the seventeen essays in this book. Kelly Jensen’s answers are so amazing, and I aspire to be more like her. She is so strong, and such an amazing voice for every young woman out there. I can’t recommend this book enough, just for the Q&A session at the end alone. I truly do believe with all my heart that this is a book all young girls would benefit from reading, because this book explores what schools and other outside sources are not going to teach you.

You by Caroline Kepnes

I’ve never read a book like this before; therefore I think I might be a little biased with the rating, just because of the shock value. You is told in second person, where the main protagonist is stalking you. It’s really eerie, and just utterly creepy! It’s so well written, and so many lines gave me instant goose-bumps.

The other really trippy thing about this book is that you get to be inside this man’s head that is stalking you, and killing others, but somehow you are rooting for him. It takes a really talented author to make you feel so much empathy for their villain that you’re actually rooting for him to do morally grey bad things. I can’t really explain it, but this book will have power over you while you’re reading it. I’ve never read anything like it.

You’ll also question your social media use with this story. How much of ourselves do we put out there that we don’t even realize we are putting out there? It’s really frightening to think about. I, personally, always Instagram my location when I take a picture, and some location are vague, like Las Vegas, NV, but some are really specific, like Barnes and Noble on Stephanie St. To put it blatantly, this book made me realize that stalking someone isn’t that difficult, thanks to this social media era we live in.

This story is so unique, I can’t help but recommend this to all my friends. I can see some of you not liking it, because it’s a little on the dark side, but it’s such a different reading experience that I feel was really rewarding.

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

“Once, there was a girl who vowed she would save everyone in the world, but forgot herself.”

This was such a whimsical and beautiful story about a sleepy little down named Fairfold, who has a pact with all the faeries that if the fae leave them alone, all the tourists are free game. But why would tourists want to visit this little town nestled in the forest? Oh, because a handsome horned fae boy is asleep in an unbreakable glass casket. Some visit because they do not believe in magic, some come because they do. Regardless of their beliefs or opinions, the tourists come.

The main character, Hazel, is a brave girl who tries to fight the evil fae with her brother. After a close scare, she makes a deal with the fae king of the forest for her brother to have his wish come true Her brother was blessed by a nice fae when he was young. He has a magical gift for music, but no means to hone that gift at a school far away from Fairfold. Hazel’s deal allows him to go to music school on a full scholarship. She only had to trade seven years of her life that the king decides to take while she is asleep. So every night, Hazel does the king’s bidding and wakes up in the morning, in her own bed, with no recollection on the night’s events. Hazel is none the wiser, until the handsome horned fae boy is finally broken free of this glass casket.

One thing that kept sticking out to me was that there is a lot of “duos” in this book. For starters, it seems like each family has two children (Hazel/Ben, Jack/Carter, Severin/Sorrel). There are two side by side romances going on throughout the book (one f/m, one m/m). Both are wonderful, and leave you wanting more. Then a main story line is all about two powerful swords. Lastly, we are also given night Hazel verses day Hazel. There is lots of coupling and pairs throughout this impactful little story.

“We love until we do not. For us, love doesn’t fade gradually. It snaps like a branch bent too far.”

I can’t say too much more without giving away some amazing twists and turns, but this was such a good read. This is exactly the kind of fantasy book I like to read. This spoke to my heart and soul, and I enjoyed it immensely. Holly Black is such a wonderful writer, and her art of threading words together that will make you feel everything under the sun, is untouchable. I have loved and devoured everything she’s ever written, and The Darkest Part of the Forest was no exception.

“I love like in the storybooks. I love you like in the ballads. I love you like a lightning bolt. I’ve loved you since the third month you came and spoke with me. I loved that you made me want to laugh. I loved the way you were kind and the way you would pause when you spoke, as though you were waiting for me to answer you. I love you and I am mocking no one when I kiss you, no one at all.”

I was also lucky enough to get this signed from B&N when it was first released this year.