Measha Stone-Dolly

This isn’t a St. Patrick’s Day gift, so much as it’s St. Patrick’s Day nightmare. Measha’s Dolly is dark, twisted, scary at times, and so very, very good. When I finished it, I posted on FB that I was bored, and that it was Measha’s fault because she gave me a book hangover and I was just staring at everything. And that’s really the way that it was. I just sat and tried to put myself back together after reading it. Because, fuck. This really just knocked me out.

The book starts out with Dolly. She is in a basement cell, living in misery. Then Beardman comes and drags her up to the upper floor. And not nice things happen. Very not nice things. Poor Dolly.

Then Kendoll shows up. Beardman drags him down and throws him into a cell. It’s clear that Ken has been through some shit. He’s bleeding and has had his ass tattooed with a B, standing for Bossman.

I wasn’t entirely sure what was going to happen with this one. Measha has a little bit of a devious mind. OK, maybe a lot of a bit devious mind. And it’s all on display in this book. It was a fucking ride, and I loved it, but it really dragged me through some stuff. It was totally amazing.

No spoilers at all today, because there just aren’t. Go read it.

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Jennifer Bene-Burned

In the immortal words of Samuel L. Jackson, hold onto your butts. Jennifer is back and she has brought us Burned. And damn. Just… damn.

So, a couple of years ago, Yolanda Olson who is a mistress of dark, horror, and the epic mindfuck, wrote a novella called Inferno. She added onto her world with Sparks and Cinere. The first is a prequel, the latter a sequel. But, Yolanda wasn’t happy with just those books in her very disturbing world. She decided to add on to it. She invited several authors to join her oh so very happy little world. And Jennifer was just one of those authors, and so we have Burned.

This is the story of Bryden, his wife Marian, and his children, Wesley and Ella. Bryden loves his family. He loves them a lot. A whole lot. All he wants is for his family to know how much he loves them all, and that he loves them all equally. He does what he can to make sure that they know that he loves them all equally. And if he has to do difficult things to and for his family, he’ll do that, because that’s what a good daddy does.

That’s all the synopsis you are going to get from me. This story isn’t happy. It isn’t light. And you really will get burned by it. This book is one of those books that you start reading and you don’t wonder what goes on in the author’s head that she creates something like this. You wonder what’s wrong with you for reading this. And not just for reading it, but for liking it. Burned is disturbing and uncomfortable in places. Did that stop me from reading it? Hello, have you met me? I read it faster at that point.

We get the story from Bryden, Wesley, and Ella’s POVs. All we know of Marian is what we see of her from those three, and since it happens that way, it really seems to marginalize her in the story. I thought it was a really interesting way to write the story. It’s also a very intimate and up close story because there is such a limited cast of characters. You are up close and personal with all of the happenings in the story, which makes everything hard to hide from.

In case you can’t tell, I really liked this book. It is not a romance though. I think that I might put it into horror, but more like psychological horror, but that might not be the right classification for it either. I think it just needs a fucked up, twisted, mindfuck category. It would fit really well right there.

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Raisa Greywood & Sinistre Ange-Demon Lust

Sinistre Ange is the dark pen name for Golden Angel. Just a couple of days ago, we had Golden’s latest, Chasing His Polar Bear. Well, Demon Lust is 180° from Polar Bear, and around a few corners and possibly in an entirely different universe. Ange teamed up with Sick Puppy Extraordinaire Raisa Greywood and together, they decided that Happily Ever After was really Happily Never After and people just misheard. There are 6 stories in this book, and I’ll bet you can guess what they all have in common.

Ange-Witch

Ange starts off the book with her story of vengeance and justice. Lyana comes back to her village to find that there are a group of raiders who are destroying her village, and she ends up watching her sister being raped basically to death. Lyana wants her revenge on the raiders, so she ends up summoning a demon, Leonard, so that she can get her revenge.

OK, first of all, I had to snort a little about Leonard’s name, because who ever heard of a demon named Leonard? But for the rest of this? It actually made me think about the difference between revenge, vengeance, and justice. I don’t know if that was Ange’s goal, but that’s what happened. I really enjoyed this story, and I think I may have earned a lesson.

Raisa-The Devil’s Doorbell

A few weeks ago, this particular meme went through the FB author/reader community that I happen to participate in. Raisa saw it, and thought, hmmm… I see a story.

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And, apparently, she was right, because there is a story there. And it’s a somewhat disturbing one.

There was a huge war, and while America won, it was destroyed. Now there’s Newmerica, which is a theocracy of epic proportions. I mean, it makes Gilead from The Handmaid’s Tale look like a land of orgies. Women are sinners. Their bodies are evil. You shouldn’t even touch any part of your body with your bare hands. Yeah, you get the idea. And this is how Ruth grew up. She never touched her sin cave, but that doesn’t stop her from getting into trouble.

I often say that The Handmaid’s Tale is the scariest book I have ever read, hand down. And this one takes THT one step further. Or maybe 1000 steps further, and considering how short the story is, that’s saying something. It’s a really good story and one that I really enjoyed a lot, even as it scared me just a little bit.

Ange-One Damned Fuck

This is the closest story to happy and light that we get in this one. It’s a welcome relief right in the middle of the rest of it.

Angie is dealing with something that a lot of us women have dealt with at some point. She has some dickhead who doesn’t understand foreplay and thinks that hammering at a vagina like a jackhammer is the way to go. So, she does what a lot of us have done, she fakes an orgasm to get him to go away, and makes a wish on a fallen star for one damned decent fuck.

You ever hear the saying be careful what you wish for, you might just get it? Well, considering the title of this book and what Angie wished for, do you think that she got it?

Fun story, all things considered, and some very talented body parts going in this. I mean, VERY talented. I wonder if I can find that star that Angie wished on?

Ange-We Invite You In

You know how you see in horror movies that you really shouldn’t ever read the mysterious book? Well, this story is an object lesson of why you don’t do that.

Gerry, and her friends Lee, Brandi, and Anne, are in a haunted house, and the three friends have the fun idea of summoning a demon.

I remember doing things like saying Bloody Mary and playing Stiff as a Board at slumber parties with my friends, but I’m pretty sure that none of us really ever decided that we would summon demons. I don’t know that I would have played that one. Well, maybe I would’ve. I wasn’t all that sensible as a teenager and I was willing to do all kinds of strange and interesting and impulsive stuff. Hopefully, I would’ve come out of it well.

Ange-The Monster Under the Bed

Remember when you were a kid and you were sure that there was a monster under your bed, and as long as you had all your body parts on the bed and were under the covers, nothing could get you? You likely grew out of it at some point. As you got older, you realized that there was no such things as monsters under the bed. But, what if you were wrong?

Danielle knows that there is a monster under her bed. No one ever believed her, so her parents had her committed. As long as she had a roommate she was fine. But now she’s just turned 18, and everything is going to change.

Oh my, this one got under my skin, a lot. Once, long ago, I had some issues with my head, and believed some things, and I really related to Danielle. I could really feel her emotions all the way through this short story, and it was… I don’t know what it was. It’s hard to describe. But, Danielle will live with me for a while, I think.

Raisa-Breathless

Raisa originally put this up on Literotica, if I remember correctly, and one of the commenters said that she was a Sick Puppy for this story. And she wears her title proudly. I personally upped it to Sick Puppy Extraordinaire because of this book. Breathless is one of those stories that will disturb you but you just can’t help flipping the pages because you need to know what happens. I loved it when I first read it. And I love it more now.

Lucy is a surfer and she loves to be out on her board enjoying the waves. One day, she meets a great white shark, which no one really ever wants to do you know, but something scares it away. The next thing she knows, she meets some guy in the water, and he tells her to take a deep breath.

This story really is twisted and dark. Really twisted. It’s disturbing in the best way and is hard to shake off. I don’t know if I want to shake it off anyway, because it’s a really good story. Sometimes I wonder what’s in authors’ heads, but this is not one that I want to know what was going through Raisa’s head while she was writing. Did that sentence make any sense? It did to me.

This was a lovely book of some dark stories. I’m not entirely sure that they are all Happily Never Afters, but I’m not sure that they aren’t either. I think for this one that HEA/HNA is all in the mind of the beholder. Bethinker? Whatever, you know what I mean. Some of them really caused me to think while I was reading them, and a couple of them will stay in my head for a long time, I think. That is totally awesome.

That’s all for today. Go check it out. Happy reading! And enjoy this Boris Vallejo picture. If you read a lot of fantasy in the ’80s, you probably ran into a lot of Boris’ cover art. But I think that this one is perfect for this book.

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Dani Rene-Stolen

So, Dani is starting a new series. A dark and intense series. One that is going to keep us on our toes, and if you want to know what’s going on, you need to read the prequel, Stolen. It’s like baseball, if you don’t have the scorecard, you won’t know any of the players, and who wants that?

If you read When the Dark Wins, you may be familiar with this story. This was Dani’s entry in it, and it was called Severed in that set. You can’t get WtDW anymore, so if you want to read it, you have to read it here. I can’t tell you if it’s expanded or not, because I didn’t go back and read it in WtDW. I have a feeling that it’s pretty much the same as in there, but there were a couple of things I don’t remember.

Drake is a Savage. Literally, his last name is Savage. He has a twin brother named Dante and his best friend is named River. The Savage family is just that. They take young women and sometimes young men and do terrible and savage things to them. The goal is to break the people they have taken and then sell them or otherwise dispose of them.

Caia is the latest Savage acquisition. They are going to keep her for 4 weeks and then handle her. The goal is to break her. And they are seriously going to try. I mean, fuck, they are really going to try. The thing is, though, Caia is strong. She’s a fighter. And Drake is drawn to her. There’s just something about her that he can’t stay away from. There’s also something about him that draws her to him.

It’s a short story, so that’s about all you are going to get here. I really like Caia, Drake, Dante, and River, and I can’t wait to see more of everyone interacting togther and the wait for the next book is going to be very frustrating to me. This is a definitely dark story, and really, when I say dark, you know that I know what I’m talking about. Because it’s short, there aren’t any spoilers under there for you to read, but I found a picture anyway, because we all know I like pictures.

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Stylo Fantome-Preach

Well fuck. This is an epic mindfuck. And not only did Stylo fuck my mind once with this, she fucked it over and over and over. Preach made me feel all kinds of ways, and honestly? It may take me a while to get over this one.

Before I start in on the review, I have some other things to say. One is that I absolutely love Stylo Fantome’s pen name. It’s all kinds of fun wordplay. It translates out from French as ghost pen. Taking it liberally, I’m going to say that it probably would be something like Ghostwriter. Funny af, right? Totally awesome.

Secondly, this is the second book of the series. I did not review Church, the first book, on here, I did review it on Amazon. The series is a serial, so talking about this book may very well spoil parts of Church, so I’m going to be very careful as to how I talk about this one. I don’t want to spoil it for any of my dark lovers, and trust me, this is one you want to read, if you like to play in the deep dark.

So, here’s the way that the books work. Emma is the 23 year old daughter of Margo. Margo is a gold-digger. She’s always on the move and on the make for her next meal ticket. She’s not very nice. Various husbands and boyfriends have abused Emma, and Margo knew all about it. In fact, Margo may have even dangled her beautiful little girl in front of men.

Margo’s latest husband is Jerry. Emma sees Jerry as a milquetoast, a blah and bland little man who is inoffensive and doesn’t hurt anyone or even do anything. His company is paying for Emma to go to college, and she’s having a hard time fitting in. Then Paul shows up.

Paul is Jerry’s son, who has been at school in NY. But now he’s back, and he goes by Church. Church and Emma meet and a match made in hell is born. And they start on the long road to a metaphorical car crash into a huge cliff.

The second book starts a few weeks after the first one, and the cleanup of the disaster of that was Church and Emma has started. Emma has actually spent the last few weeks in a mental institution and Margo has been granted a conservatorship. Part of Emma’s treatment is that she has to have no contact with Church. In the last 15 minutes that he got to see her, he told her to act normal and he would always be near her and they would be back together as soon, just do her best to act normal.

I love the way that Stylo has chosen to tell the story. Most of the story is in 2nd person, from Emma’s POV, although over the books, we get a couple of glimpses of 2nd person POV from Church. But, interspersed through the books, we get chapters of 1st person POV from both Emma and Church. It’s a really interesting way to tell the story, and we learn more things than we would otherwise be able to. There are a fuckton of things that I didn’t expect in this book. It was just fucking wow. Like I said, my brain was fucked every which way but up.

These books were my first Stylo Fantome books, but they sure as hell aren’t going to be my last. There isn’t going to be anything down past the pic, so don’t go looking. I’ve been really careful to try to avoid any spoilers, so I want to keep it that way. So, go check it out, and happy reading!

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Anthology-Twisted Sacrament

These stories are dark, dark, dark, dark, and even darker than that. There are no happy anythings here, there’s no light. There’s nothing that will bring you any kind of hope. I’d say abandon all hope, but even just abandoning it isn’t enough. You have to completely scour any kind of hope from your soul. You have to erase the word hope from your memory. Then you might, just possibly might, be ready to read Twisted Sacrament. Consider yourself warned.

The anthology consists of 7 authors who write dark anyway, but then they got let off the leash. Not only that, they were given the brief of writing the most sacrilegious and blasphemous story possible. And let me tell you, SJ Cole, Zoe Blake, Addison Cain, Jennifer Bene, Celia Aaron, Ashleigh Giannoccaro, and Alta Hensley fucking delivered. These 7 stories are depraved, twisted, desolate, full of mindfucks, horrifying, and darker than fuck. They are disturbing. And yet. And yet, I couldn’t stop reading them. I couldn’t get enough of them. I loved everyone one of them, even the ones that left me shaking at the end. (I’m looking right at you, Jennifer.)

They are all short stories, none of them much longer than 30 minutes to read. I wouldn’t recommend reading them at night before bed though. You might not sleep well. But because they are short, you’re only going to get my reactions, as is my usual practice in this situation. I got ARCs for 4 of them, but like I said, they are short, so I had no problems reading the rest of them.

Addison Cain-She Came Before God

There is a period of Catholic and Italian history where the high ranking clergy weren’t as… celibate as they should’ve been. During that time, Rodrigo Borgia became Pope. There are all kinds of rumors about orgies in the Papal palace while he was there, and it is historical fact that he had children, born when he was a cardinal. You know, when he wasn’t supposed to be dicking around. Lucrezia Borgia, who you may have heard about as a poisoner, was one of his children. So, what does this have to do with Addison’s story? Well, her story involves a pope and some fucking.

Addison’s story really just was straight up horrifying. Our poor little heroine learns that she’s part of a horrible family tradition, and everything that she thought was true isn’t. This story stuck with me. I mean, I dreamt about it. Even days later, I’m still trying to get a total handle on certain things. I really wanted to scream at the end of it, and maybe sit and cry in despair.

Zoe Blake-Lilith’s Revenge

Lilith comes out of Jewish mythology. She’s generally considered to be Adam’s first wife, but when she wouldn’t behave the way that they wanted, she was kicked out of Eden and Eve came in in her place. Lilith then went on to become the mother of demons. In her demon partying and fucking days, she fucked everyone she wanted to, including some angels.

In Zoe’s story, she is back in her demon party girl aspect, tempting a priest. Now, here’s the thing. She and her priest get it on in all kinds of ways and do all kinds of depraved things, but… The question is, is what they are doing real, or is the priestly part real, or is anything real? Zoe has written an incredibly mindfuck and my mind is still fucked from it. I don’t know what’s real and what isn’t and what was going on in the story. I have theories as to what’s going on, but they vary from minute to minute.

I recommend following Zoe’s instructions when it comes to her story.

Alta Hensley-Last Rites

I personally think that the end of the world is going to be some kind of plague. In this jet-setting world, it’s going to be too easy for something to be across the world before anyone gets diagnosed with it in the first place. Why do I mention this? Because Alta destroys the world with The Itch, an illness that makes people want to scratch their skin off, makes their blood foam, and makes them pretty fucking crazy. There are rumors of a safe place for women to go (and only women), where they won’t be exposed to The Itch.

This is so disturbing. It’s short, it’s brutal, and it’s dark as fuck. I kind of wanted to take a very, very hot shower after reading this one. And maybe scrub for about 30 hours.

Jennifer Bene-Baptism in Eden

If you look at my GR/Zon review, it says “Oh my fucking god. That is all.” Yeah, that’s about all I could say about this one on there. Jennifer writes dark at the best of times, but let her off the leash, she’s simply dazzling. And dazzle she does.

You may think of Eden as paradise, but Jennifer’s Eden is as far away from paradise as you can possibly get. It’s so dark and so twisted. I know I’m saying that a lot, but there aren’t words in the English language to describe it. But the fact remains that this story is Stygian. It’s also a very Jennifer Bene story. If I were given all the stories in this book and asked to pick out which one Jennifer had written, this would be the one that I choose. When I was done reading it, I was literally sitting on the couch and shaking. I had to go read something else to calm down. I may be traumatized.

Celia Aaron-Communion

I know that I’ve raved about Celia on here before. She totally deserves every good thing I have ever said about her.

I loved this story. It wasn’t quite as dark as some of the others, but it’s by no means light. I love the byplay between Cate and Ted. It is very interesting to see how Ted talks to her and what goes on. I feel like this is very topical too. I have to wonder how much Celia was influenced by what’s going on in the world right now, because it really feels like there was some serious influencing going on. Frankly, I think it makes it better.

Ashleigh Giannoccaro-Say Yes

I’ve only read one other Ashleigh Giannoccaro book, but I own a couple of more. My TBR is totes ridic and one day I’ll get to them.

Ashleigh takes us for a tour through a cult. A very, very creepy cult. A very creepy cult that says men have to have 2 wives or they can’t get into Heaven. OK, I grew up Mormon, and there has always been the whole polygamy thing surrounding the church, and then the FLDS church around, which are a polygamous cult, so this one felt really close to home, if you know what I mean. I don’t know how much Ashleigh took from there, how much came from other cults, and how much came straight out of her head, but it was a fascinating read. It also looks like it’s setting up for a new series, so I’ll be all over that one.

SJ Cole-I’m Better Than You

SJ Cole is Stevie J. Cole writing under a new name. And OMG, her heroine is totally cuckoo for coco puffs. I mean, the cheese not only done slipped her cracker, it left the room, the house, the zip code, the state, and the country. Then it changed its name, cut its hair, and got plastic surgery. The cheese wants to have absolutely nothing to do with Violet anymore, and I don’t blame it. I wouldn’t want to have anything to do with her either. I can totally get why she’s upset, but damn, girl takes it to another level. She’s creepy as fuck. She’s crazy as fuck. SJ says there’s more to the story, and I’m going to have to read it. Can’t fucking wait. I like creepy and crazy.

OK, there are my reactions to each of these 7 stories. I loved this book. But, trust me, don’t look for light. Don’t look for happy. Don’t look for hope. Don’t look for this book to last long. I recommend you go buy it soon if anything I talked about sounded good, because anthologies don’t tend to last very long and then the rights revert back to the authors.

No spoilers, but a picture I thought was great for this.

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