Anthology-The Institute

Welcome to the Serenity Institute. Dr. Ansel Sterling started The Institute after seeing his mother suffer with her own mental illness. Now, he has created a safe place for other people to come and get treated. So, we have 6 stories written by 6 fantastic authors, 2 of whom are new to me. Without any further ado, let’s get into the stories, shall we?

Dani Rene-Echo

Dani gets the book started for us. She introduces us to Dr. Sterling and his special patient, Katya. Katya suffered a traumatic event and she broke into pieces, including one named Rose. Now Dr. Sterling is trying to treat her. So, the whole time I read this, I wondered if Katya or Rose was the real one, and what Ansel was going to do with them. Excellent. I mean, damn. This was definitely a great Dani story.

Anna Edwards-Marbh

Anna gives us Marbh, whose name means Death, and is a 500 year old assassin. She is currently locked up at Serenity because people are sure that she’s delusional. She just wants to get back to her Laird. The ending of this was spectacular. It is one of those that left me wanting and made me happy all at the same time. I often say that I would like to see more of a particular couple, but I think that this was perfectly perfect.

India R. Adams-Hostile Illusions

Vera has amnesia. She is covered with scars, but only on her left hand side. This story. OH. MY. FUCKING. GOD. That is all.

Jennifer Bene-Mr. Cat Is Not Real

Nina is at the institute because she has hallucinations, and dangerous things have happened around her. But she’s not the one who does them, it’s always Mr. Cat. I thought that the treatments that Dr. Nickelsen gave Nina were… interesting. I do kinda think that Mr. Cat is real, though.

Murphy Wallace-Release Me

Brynn has a thing when it comes to sex. She’s what they call hypersexual. That means she likes it. A LOT. But she also blacks out sometimes, which causes her to end up at the institute, with Dr. Dick. I like Brynn, and I kind of agree with her about a doctor.

Sian B. Claven-Sanitorium

Molly’s identical twin sister, Lizzie, is a nurse at the institute, so they have permission for Molly to be treated there, since Lizzie has been taking care of Molly because of her illnesses over the years. Molly is so very sweet, and I just want her to be all kinds of happy. Sian was another new author to me, so I’ll be looking for more. The whole time I was reading this story, Metallica’s Sanitarium kept running through my head.

So, there are our 6 stories. They are all disturbing to some extent, some more than others. Some of them left me nearly destroyed. They were all fantastic though.

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2019 Round Up-Top 10 Redemption Books Pt. 1

So, redemption books. Redemption, according to Miriam Webster, means the action of being saved from a sin, evil, or error. And that’s sorta how I see it when it comes to redemption books. For me, a redemption book means that the main character was a really bad guy, hurt the other main character, did something evil, but over the course of the book or books, in some cases, they redeemed themselves. They end up fixing their fuckup, making amends, changing, whatever. I mean, these are the books where the hero dumps the heroine in the most evil way possible, demolishes her life, thinks about killing her, burns her house down, steals her dog, and is just a rotten motherfucker. But, over the timeline of the book, he realizes that he done fucked up, he’s miserable about it, and he’s gonna make it better, somehow. Doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s going to be a good guy or anything, because yeah, that’s not necessarily it works.

Of course, not all redemption books are that drastic. Look at the movie Groundhog Day. Bill Murray starts as an ass, but over the period of the movie, he starts to realize that he’s an ass, and works to make himself better, at least when it comes to Andie MacDowell. So, there are going to be some books where the redemption is more like that.

Just in case you were wondering how I came up with the books on my various lists, some of them I remember from when I read them. But I wasn’t kidding when I said I’ve read over 800 books this year. Sometimes titles slip my mind, so I look at my yearly challenge on GR and look at all the books I’ve read this year, and go oh yeah! Gives me just the nudge I need.

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Nicolina Martin-Absolution

So, I told you yesterday when I was talking about the book Redemption that you should expect to see Absolution. This is the second book in the duet, and the 6th book in the Russo series. It is the continuing story of Kerry and Christian, and in this one, we get to see Christian come back and redeem himself when it comes to what he did to Kerry. I mean, he tried to kill her in Redemption, and it did all kinds of terrible things to her mental health. And then when he accidentally finds her, after she has run far, far, far away from him, he’s really furious with her, and she’s scared AF. But, he manages to redeem himself and turn back into the Christian I loved when I first met him in Ruin. Actually, I think he’s even better than he was then. He’s more rounded and more human. Of course, I think it’s also a little bit of a redemption for Kerry too. She went through hell, and was able to come out through the other side of it and end up stronger.

Alice Winters-A Villain For Christmas

A Villain For Christmas is in a shared theme series of books. They all have a snowglobe in them somehow, they are all MM, and they are all about Christmas in some way. Because it’s an Alice Winters book, there is a lot of humor, snark, and ridiculousness in there. The reason that I’m counting this as a redemption book is because the titular hero, Landon, AKA Leviathan, is a supervillain, who was raised by a family of “super”villains, and who has the hugest crush on the biggest superhero of the city, August, AKA Chrono. Landon is never evil, really, but there is a redemption arc for him to go on. It’s a really fun book, and I really want Alice to write more in this world.

India R Adams-Ivy’s Poison

Yup, this is India’s 2nd time on my round up lists. I liked Ivy’s Poison so much that I bought a signed copy of it. It’s part of the Cavalieri Della Morte shared world. It’s kind of an Arthurian retelling, if Arthur had a Round Table of assassins instead of knights. This is the story of Bors and Ivy. Bors had to go assisinate the pres of an MC, who just happens to be Ivy’s dad, but instead he gets taken prisoner and tortured by Ivy. I consider this a redemption story for both of them because they are both in a bad place at the beginning of the book and they each go through their own journey to get to a better place and redeem themselves, as well as the journey they go through together. I will warn you that there are some difficult moments in this one, especially in chapter 1, so you may want to be careful when you read it. It is a fantastic book, and it’s the first one of India’s books I read.

Jane Henry-King’s Ransom

King’s Ransom is the latest book in Jane’s Bratva Ruthless Doms books. It’s also a Daddy book, and that’s a good place for Jane. This is the story of Stefan and Taara. Stefan is a character that we’ve run across in the series before, and I really liked him. He’s a head honcho, and makes a lot of things happen. Taara is his housekeeper and has wanted him for years. Here’s what makes it a redemption story for Stefan, IMO. Things happen, and Taara gets herself into a place where she is basically Stefan’s captive, and it just turns really bad. My heart broke for her, and I hated Stefan for a minute, but things worked out and he got his head out of his ass.

Laura Thalassa-War

I debated whether or not to put War on this list. After all, he’s less a person than a personification, but decided that it was a redemption story of sorts. It’s the same with Pestilence, which is the first book in the Four Horsemen series. I can’t wait for the next ones. These books are so good. So, the way that the story works is that years ago the 4 rode out to Earth, and then they disappeared. The Pestilence showed up and killed many, many, many people, and he disappeared. Now War has shown up in the Middle East, doing what he does best. Miriam lived in Jerusalem, and caught War’s eye, and he took her for his wife. The reason that I put this in the redemption list is that while all this is going on, War changes from who he was, a personification of the divine, to something that is both less and more than that. I think that it works well that way.

OK, come back tomorrow for part 2. I hope that everyone has a safe and happy New Year’s Eve, or had, depending on where and when you read this. I’ll probably be asleep by 10, because I have to be up at 4 tomorrow. Happy New Year, and may this coming year and decade lead to better things.

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2019 Round Up-Top Ugly Cry Books

I don’t know if there are going to be 10 or not, so this is probably just going to be a 1 part post. For me, an ugly cry book is different from a book that makes me cry. There are some books that will give me tears because there is something sad going on, a break up, a death, so on and so forth. Generally, they last for a couple of minutes, and they are just tears running down my face. An ugly cry is just that, really ugly. Full on tears, snot running out of my nose, sobs, the whole 9 yards. These are the reads that make my husband ask me if I’m OK. He’s learned to accept the answer that it’s just an ugly cry book. So, here are some of the books that made me ugly cry this year. There are some that I’ve already mentioned on other lists that gave me ugly cries, Nicky James’ Long Way Home and Eva Dresden’s Broken, so they are just getting Honorable Mentions here. So, let’s get on with the ones that made it, shall we?

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Nicolina Martin-Redemption

Redemption is part of Nicolina’s Russo Saga, and is its own Duet with Absolution. (Expect to see that one show up tomorrow or Wednesday.) Anyway, no matter what the title says, there isn’t a lot of redemption going on in this book. This is the story of Christian and Kerry. Kerry is just a nice, sweet woman who happened to be working at a childcare center where a mobster’s son went. When she asked him a question, he sent Christian after her. When we first met Christian, in an earlier book, I really liked him. I didn’t by the end of this book. In fact, I downright fucking hated him. When Nicolina read my GR review on in, she asked me what my ugly cry moments were, and there were moments, not just a moment. Because it is a duet, it is a cliffhanger, but the second one is already out, so there’s that.

Addison Cain-Ravaged Captive

Ravaged Captive is the 4th book in Addison’s Wren’s Song books. They are Omegaverse and RH. All of the books have made me cry, but this one really made me cry because everything started to really fall apart. Caspian, Toby, and Kieran are at each other’s throat, Wren has been tossed out and thought dead, and the doll is in the way. I think that it was the addition of the doll that really got to me. I expect that the next one will also give me an ugly cry. Sooooooon.

Anna Wineheart-The Pretense

Anna is one of my favorite MM Omegaverse authors, and I’m lucky enough to be able to ARC her books. All of her books have some strong emotions in them, but The Pretense was just loaded with it. It’s a second chance, pretend boyfriend kind of story. It can be read as a standalone, but if you read all the Men of Meadowfall books in order, you’ll enjoy it more. They are all interconnected. There is one very particular moment that gave me a seriously ugly cry. There are some other spaces where I got teary, but this one particular scene was so hard, so heartbreaking that it really stuck with me, and made me ugly cry hard.

India R. Adams-Blue Waters

Blue Waters wasn’t published this year, but this was the year that I read it, so it counts to me, and since it’s my blog, that’s all that matters. This is the first of the Tainted Waters series that feature Whitney, Link, and Crash. All of the books in the series have made me full on ugly cry, but I’m just going to go with the first one here. It’s not a very long book, but it is very intense. Everything builds on the things before, but you do get a second to catch your breath in between. The entire series is worth reading. I don’t know that I would recommend reading them back-to-back, because of the intensity, but I would definitely recommend reading them.

B.B. Blaque-FTW

FTW doesn’t mean for the win here. It’s outlaw MC slang that means Fuck the World, and that is pretty much what happens here. This is the 3rd book in BB’s Masters MC series, and it is dark. I fell in love with Colt, Tuesday, Kash, and Barely when I read their books the first time, and I was really looking forward to this one. Let’s just say that it wasn’t a happy book. There were terrible, terrible things that happened, and I was devastated. BB will have GFY, Go Fuck Yourself, out soon, and I can’t wait.

OK, there they are, the Top 5 ugly cry books from this year.

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India R. Adams-Blue Waters

YA/NA books aren’t generally my jam, but when I saw Blue Waters and the whole Tainted Water trilogy by India R. Adams, I know that I had to get in on it. And I am so very, very glad that I did. Because this book is just amazing, and I can’t wait to read the rest of the story. Spoiler, I will be this weekend.

Reading Blue Waters was like listening to a perfect symphony, watching the most beautiful dance ever, eating the most perfect bite of food, well, you get the idea. There’s just such beauty in this book. It’s not all sweetness and light, but it’s not all dark either. It’s a lovely balance, and one that can be really hard to do, and India handled it easily.

This is the story of Whitney, and the two most important men in her life, Link, whose real name is Reether, and Crash, whose real name is Harold. Whitney has a huge personality, and I mean incredibly huge personality. She is a smartass, talented, smart, caring, loyal, and funny. It’s hard not to fall in love with her.

Link and Whit have been best friends since forever. They live across a lake from each other, with their bedrooms facing each other. Each night, Link blinks his bedroom light at Whit to tell her that he loves her. Each morning, the two of them race each other out to the middle of the lake. Whoever wins gets to choose what they have for breakfast. These two are so in sync with each other, they are almost the other half of each other’s souls. They support each other, they compete with each other, they are just always with each other. Really, I love how they are together.

Then there is Crash. Whitney meets Crash at the movies when she goes to get more butter for her popcorn. Since the employee isn’t there, she jumps back behind the counter to get her own butter, and all of a sudden, Crash is there. She goes off on a riff about how her name is Franket and she’s working there in order to support her 3 boys, Harlan, Ford, and Link, who are actually all her guy friends, and it’s just funny to read. Crash starts to call her Franky, and I love that.

There is so much that happens in this book, and since it’s a novella, it’s a pretty short read, so there is no wasted space in here. Pretty much everything that happens is important to the story. If it doesn’t show up as important in this one, I expect it will be important in the next two stories. I can’t see how it can’t be. And even with everything that we find out in this book, there is so much more that we don’t find out and each question we get answered, really kind of sent me off wanting to know the answer of something else.

This book left me feeling all kinds of feelz and I just had to kind of sit and stare off into space when I was done reading it because it just left me so moved.

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That end. Oh, that end.

I need to know what Link has going on. There has to be something there.

OK, that’s all I have to say on this one. Do yourself a favor and go read it, even if you don’t generally read YA/NA. You won’t regret it. Happy reading!

 

India R. Adams-Ivy’s Poison

India R. Adams’ Ivy’s Poison is the 5th of the Cavalieri Della Morte books, and it really knocked me out. I mean, I wanted to give it all the stars and then some.

Before I get into my review, I want to strongly recommend that you read India’s warning at the beginning of the book and believe it. There are a couple of very sensitive places in the book, at some readers might not want to read those things. And that’s OK. We all like different things and have different tolerances for different things. What’s important is that you are aware of what things upset you and that you read accordingly. To be helpful, India does include page numbers to skip.

As I was thinking about what to write about this, I was going through my brain and thumbing through the Arthurian tales files that live there to see if I could come up with any trivia about Bors, but the only thing I could think of came from a movie called King Arthur where Bors, played by Ray Winstone, talks about his cock being like a baby’s arm holding an apple. I could probably look up more trivia, but I’m going to just leave you with that.

Bors is a hand-to-hand specialist when it comes to the Cavalieri Della Morte. When you want to make an example of someone, Bors is who you send. So, when Arthur sends him out after the prez of an MC, Bors knows that the guy must’ve done something bad.

When he gets there and is sitting at a bar, in comes some of the MC, along with the prez’s daughter, Ivy. That shocks him, since he’d met Ivy three years ago, when they had a crazy night together. And oh yeah, she drugged him. Bors knew that the jackass had a daughter, but he didn’t know it was the woman who had haunted him for 3 years.

This book is technically a dual POV, but in practice, it’s really a sole POV. And that POV is Bors’. I really do find it fascinating to read a primarily male POV MF romance story. When you think of MF, we tend to think of it as female driven, which means that the main POV should be the female, right? And in many cases, I would totally agree with that. And I’m good with single, dual, multi POV, whatever the story calls for and the author thinks appropriate, but there are times when the male POV and the single (or functionally single) POV is the only way to tell the story. And this is one of those times.

Since it’s told mostly by Bors, we get to understand him and his filter. I think that we get to learn more about Bors than he even knows about himself. There are things that I think that he was hiding from himself that we get hints of before he gets to them. We also get to learn about Ivy mostly from him, and I was totally enthralled by that. He learns about her very organically, I think, so we do too. He picks up little bits here and there that he puts together and connects the way that you and I would, and in fact, I think that India put things in there that we pick up on before he puts them together, and it’s not that she outright states anything, but she leads us into them. It’s totally fabulous.

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Oh, Ivy. My heart breaks. And there was one point where Bors just totally broke me altogether.

OK, that’s all I have to say about this one. You know what to do. Happy reading!