Jennifer Bene & Yolanda Olson-Scorched

Yolanda gave us the original Inferno books, and really, they are excellently disturbing books. She opened up the world to a whole lot of authors, which is what has given us the second round of Inferno World books. And she has teamed up with Jennifer to give us Scorched. Now, you have to be familiar with the Inferno books to understand everything that is going on in this one. At the very, very least you should read Burned before this one, but I personally recommend going back to the beginning and reading the original Inferno series, which is Sparks, Inferno, Cinere, and Embers. Do be aware that these are all dark, twisted, taboo, and all fucked up, so if you don’t like those things, these are not the books for you. However, I do like all those things, so here we go.

Scorched focuses on two groups of people. We have Richter and Skylar, and then we have Bryden and his bounteous brood.

Richter is fixated on making sure that Skylar is a good wife to him and to finding his sister Cleo. Their father took her away many years ago, and he wants to find her. He wants to bring her back home so he can love her the way that he should. It’s just been him and Skylar since the old man died, like 10 years ago. And it’s not like they are very old, early 20s, so they have been dealing with life on their own for a long time and from a young age. Richter finally finds out where his sister is and goes to bring her home, but he finds a huge surprise instead.

What he finds is Bryden, his much older brother. Their father dropped Cleo off at his house years ago and told him to raise her, which he did. Cleo has settled into the family, including calling Bryden Daddy and loving everyone equally. When Richter shows up, she’s upset because she doesn’t recognize him and he’s very aggressive and wants to take her away. Bryden’s house is relatively calm, he doesn’t allow hitting, yelling, disrespect, or any of that kind of stuff, so Richter’s aggressiveness is offputting, at the very least.

Bryden runs his house and his family based on what his father laid out, but he does it with love. His house seems much more friendly than his father ever had a hand in, and everyone truly does seem to love each other.

I want to say that this is one of the biggest mindfucks I’ve ever read, but I think that goes without saying. And considering some of Yolanda’s books have been mindfucks from the very, very, very first word, that’s gotta be saying something.

I both like and vehemently dislike Richter. Don’t ask me how it works, because, well, it does. I think he’s trying very hard to live up to the standards that his dad set up, but it just isn’t there. I think that the dad in his head is both better and worse than the real man had been. So I felt sorry for him for that. But he had choices he could make.

Bryden was really interesting, and I think that I liked him, mostly. He seems like such a kind and loving man.

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Family Meeting!

And that last chapter totally broke me.

OK, that’s all for this one. Go check it out! Happy reading!

 

Yolanda Olson-Martyris

Martyris is the 3rd of the Cavalieri Della Morte books, and the second one I’m reviewing here. It is dark. It is dazzling. It is disturbing. In short, it’s a very Yolanda book. And that? That is a very, very good thing. It’s also a fairly quick read, but one that left me awake far into the night thinking about it because it just stayed in my head that way.

Because it’s short, my review is going to be short. Also, I don’t want to give anything away. And I think that it would be very easy to give something away if I weren’t very careful. And as I always find it better to err on the side of caution, at least when reviewing, short it is.

This is the story of Gareth, one of the CDM, and his true love, Bentlee, his favorite girl. Gareth likes to see himself as sort of the good guy, but he kills with his hands, instead of a weapon. Well, with metal gloves that he wears, but still, you get the idea. He’s good at what he does, but I don’t think he’s all that happy about that fact, or the fact that he’s doing it.

We only get one POV here, Gareth’s, so we only get to know Bentlee through him, and it is truly obvious how much he loves her and wants to protect her from the world. It is pretty atypical of a book that lives in the MF section of the romance world to be all the male POV, so it’s something that is really exciting to me, and it really gives a kind of intimacy to the book that wouldn’t otherwise exist, I think. I really like Gareth, although it almost seems like I shouldn’t, but there’s just something about him that’s impossible to not like. I like Bentlee and I think that anyone he loves the way that he does would be someone that I would like.

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Um… Wow.

OK, go check it out. I don’t know whether or not to wish you happy reading, so I’ll let you decide on your own.

Just Breathe

This anthology is more than a collection of excellent stories by excellent authors, it’s also a way to support To Write Love on Her Arms. I’ve talked about them before. They are an organization that helps support people who are dealing with self-harm and suicidal ideations, among other things. This is such a great organization. Even if you only want one or two of the stories in Just Breathe, you should definitely buy it to support TWLOHA.

Before I get further into my review, I want to warn people that the stories in this book all deal with mental illnesses of some shape or form. There are things in these stories which may trigger you. Please be aware of that and read responsibly.

All of the stories are pretty short, so if you only have a moment here or there to read, you should have no problem finding one that will fit. Because they are short, you are going to basically get my reaction to each story. For most of them, if I were to put anything about them in the review, it would totally spoil the story. So, here we go.

Missy Ann-Forbidden Sorrows-Grief

Missy Ann was a new author to me, and I’ll be looking up more of her work. Grief is hard to deal with at the best of times, and is highly individual. In most cases, you and your grief can be acknowledged, but what happens when it can’t be? It’s not anything I’ve ever thought of before, and wow, Missy brought it to life so vividly.

Anna Edwards-Grounded-Anxiety

I deal with an anxiety disorder and Anna’s story rang so true for me. It was very much like what can go through my head when I feel out of control. It was a great story. And, it looks like it’s the start of a new series, when Anna gets the rights back to it. I can’t wait to see it.

Michelle Brown-Little Lies-Self-Harm

Michelle is still a pretty new writer, but damn, the girl has some serious chops. Self-harm is a very, very touchy subject and has to be handled just right. If you go too far one way, you end up sensationalizing it, if you go too far the other way, you end up making it not believable. Michelle walked that line perfectly. Not so much that it’s glorified, but just at the point where you can understand why Lindsey does what she does. Self-harm was the very reason that TWLOHA was created, so I felt like this one was so important.

K.S. Marshall-Wreckage-Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder

PMDD is PMS with roid rage. As the hormones in a woman’s body ramp up for ovulation and menstruation, they can have an effect on the woman even at the best of times. But brain and body chemistry being what it is, sometimes the best of times isn’t what happens. K.S. Marshall explored that really, really well. You are inside her heroine’s head as these changes are happening to her and she can’t figure out what’s going on. It’s kind of chilling, but in a good way.

Livia Grant-Purged-Eating Disorder

If you’ve read any of the Black Light books, you’ve probably run across Khloe and Ryder before. It’s no secret in their book that Khloe, a big time movie star, has a history with an eating disorder. What Livia’s story shows so well is that dealing with something like an eating disorder is that it isn’t as easy as one day being cured. There are always going to be things that can trigger you and it’s something you are always going to have to be diligent at fighting, and sometimes that fight is really, really hard.

Yolanda Olson-Sickness in the Sunrise-Erotomania

Erotomania generally happens to women, and it’s when they believe that someone who is of a higher status than they are is in love with them. For example, Yolanda’s story. Yolanda is one of my favorite authors when I want dark, creepy, and chilling, as well as beautiful. Her characters are always so real to me. Just like you can reach out and touch them. That’s no different when it comes to this one. You can feel what’s going on in Dice’s head and why her thoughts make perfect sense.

Natalie Bennett-Ashes to Ashes-Depression

Honestly, I don’t even know what to say with this one. It got deep inside me and moved me. I had to take a break and read something completely different after reading this one. It was so… Yeah.

Dani Rene-Tattered Pieces-Abuse

The one thing we always ask when we talk about people who are in domestic violence situations is why did they stay? Why didn’t they leave the first time, the fifth time, the twentieth time? The thing is, the question isn’t that simple, and the answer is nowhere even near that simple. I could probably write a thousand words on that alone, and it wouldn’t even come near answering anything. And I wouldn’t have gotten it anywhere near as good as what Dani said. I hope that this is the start of a series, because it looks like it could be. I want more of Toni’s story. I’m rooting for her.

Jennifer Bene-Cocoon-Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Jennifer managed to write a story that is very true to her storytelling while still exploring OCD. People who have OCD have rituals that they have to follow or their world ends, and that’s not really an exaggeration. That’s the way it will feel, at the very least. Amy was an interesting character and Colton was tortured in so many ways. Such an excellent story and a viewpoint of OCD that most people won’t ever see.

Ally Vance-Ignite-Pyromania

Fire can be very pretty. But, for most of us, pretty is as far as it gets. For people who are pyromaniacs, it’s like their lifeblood. Ally showed that really well. I’ll never look at wooden matches the same way again. Nor, I think, will I ever look at a bonfire the same way.

Murphy Wallace-Hostile Takeover-Split Personality

Murphy Wallace is another new to me author. And another one I’ll be tracking down more of. This was really intriguing to me. I’m not sure how to describe it or even to talk about how it made me feel. I really enjoyed it though.

Jane Anthony-The Row-Addiction

Addiction is a serious illness. Too many people want to see it as some kind of moral failure or something, but that’s not the way it works. Jane’s Trinity fights with addiction, and when you see her backstory, you see why. I thought that Jane did so well. Trinity and King made me cry.

Ashleigh Giannoccaro-Awake-Insomnia

When I was reading Ashleigh’s story, it was both kind of creepy and engrossing. I mean, yeah. I’m hoping any of her insomniacs stay right away from me, please and thank you.

Skye Callahan-Unbearable-Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

When you go through a traumatic incident, there are changes that are made to your brain’s chemistry and your body. Those changes can trigger PTSD. And there’s no way of telling who is going to have it and who isn’t. Two people who went through the exact same event may not both have PTSD, and if they do, they might not be triggered in the same way. Skye handled the subject really well, and explained it in ways that many people don’t necessarily hear.

Toni Lemay-Loops-Mandela Effect

The Mandela Effect is something that was totally new to me. Basically, it has to do with alternate realities and the way that your brain makes memories. That’s probably a way too simplistic description, but it’s what I got from in when I looked it up. If I had more time to research it, I would probably be able to come up with something more, but I tend to fall down the rabbit hole when I start researching things. I will probably be looking into this more when I have a chance because Toni made it sound really interesting, and I want to see how it works.

I want to applaud all these authors for writing about these mental illnesses. I don’t know how many of these talented people deal with the subjects they wrote about, but they handled all of them really well. People who are mentally ill aren’t always handled well in fiction, let alone real life, and the stigma that surrounds mental illnesses makes it hard for those of us who are mentally ill to get the help that they need. We are made to feel bad because our brain don’t work the same way that other people’s brains do, and are shamed because we have to take medication to get through our days. I’m very open about the fact that I’m mentally ill and that I take medication to help me be stable. My thought is that if I’m open about it, maybe that fact can help one person get the help that they need. Also, the more we talk about it, the less the stigma is going to be there.

OK, that’s all I have to say today. You really need to get this.

And because I hate to post anything without a picture, here’s a fogbow.

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When the Dark Wins

I’ve been writing this blog and bringing you books for close to a year now. Some of you have been following me for that long, some of you are new. But, if you look at my posts, you will see that there is one pretty overwhelming theme. I love the dark. I play in it, I revel in it, I go out and search it out. The darker the better. Things that might disturb other people? I was thrilled to read them. So, I figured that I was going to be fine with this one. After all, I’ve read all of these authors before. They’ve written some dark stuff that I love. Addison Cain’s Alice in Wonderland story, anatomy by Yolanda Olson, Imperfect Monster and Destruction by Jennifer Bene. Well, you get the idea, right? Well, those stories are actually pretty light compared to what we’ve been given here. Except for maybe anatomy. That one’s pretty fucked up.

I walked into When the Dark Wins thinking I was ready. I was wrong. The whole point behind this book is that 8 authors are giving us stories where there is no happy ending, no light, just evil and darkness and more evil and more darkness. There are mindfucks galore. Hell, even the mindfucks get mindfucked. It’s awesome.

So, I’m giving absolutely no spoilers at all. I’m just going to give you my impressions of the stories.

Addison Cain-Catacombs

This story is the single most disturbing thing I have ever read in my entire life. Straight out, no lie, the most disturbing thing ever. The last story I said that about was Addison’s Alice story, so well done Addison, topping yourself. I can’t wait to see what you do next. When I finished Catacombs, I looked over at my husband and said holy fuck. When he asked what I was holy fucking about, I told him there was no way to explain it. I could’ve tried, but he wouldn’t’ve gotten it. Totally fucked up Totally awesome. I had to pet my cat and play a game for a while after reading this.

Zoe Blake-My Name Is Jane

I literally put the whole book down and walked away from it for a night after I finished this. This story plays into a personal nightmare of mine. OK, I don’t mean this exact scenario, but how Jane feels plays into that nightmare. I’ve literally woken up in cold sweats because of it. So, yeah. It wasn’t the most disturbing story in the book, but it was the one that chilled me the most.

Eris Adderly-A Sinner in Virtue

Having read the story, I love the title. I think it’s completely awesome. It’s the start of a new series, and I’m so eager to get to the series. It’s not as dark as some of the other stories are, but it’s still dark. Hypocrisy at its absolute finest. Can’t wait.

Dani Rene-Severed

I may have mentioned that I have the mad Dani Rene love before. This story did nothing to change it. I couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen next. It was a very, very wrong scenario. I can’t even say that it was in a very, very right way, because there is no right way here. I mean, yeah.

Jennifer Bene-Breaking Beth

Can I just say fucking finally? Thank you, Jennifer! I’ve been waiting to find out what happened to Beth ever since I read the first Thalia story. She keeps getting brought up in the book, so I needed to know Beth’s story. It isn’t pretty, not at all. And I’m even gladder that those guys got what was coming to them. I think Beth is awesome, strong and stubborn. Maybe a little too much so for her own good. I mean, the title is Breaking Beth.

Cari Silverwood-Used

I think that Cari’s Mesmer books were the first of hers I read. They definitely made me fall in love with her and her words. Used takes place in that world. The characters aren’t main characters in the books, but I’m fine with that because it doesn’t mess with continuity or anything. I think that Isak is creepier than the other mesmers though, and that’s saying something. I need to spend this weekend rereading the books I think. I did wonder how far ahead he planned when it came to certain things. And the ending was…

Michelle Brown-The Hunted

When it comes to authors in this book, Michelle is a baby. However, that doesn’t mean that baby can’t write. Her story is… Yeah. It’s the shortest story in the book, but it’s definitely one that stayed with me for awhile, especially the end. The end was a mindfuck moment. It just fucked me up.

Yolanda Olson-What Lies Beneath

Mind.fuck. Yeah, I know I’ve said that about most of these stories, but really, this one was the biggest mindfuck of them all, from start to finish. Really. Just WTF from the first word to the last word. I love Yolanda Olson and her work. I do think that her process goes along the lines of asking herself what would fuck her readers up the most. Good job, Yolanda. You succeeded.

OK, that’s my review of When the Dark Wins. No spoilers. If you think you are ready to let the darkness embrace you, then go check it out. Eight stories which will make you glad that you don’t live in these authors’ minds? I’m so down for that.

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Yolanda Olson-anatomy

Yolanda Olson writes some serious mindfuck books. They may be horror, they may be dark, they may be something. The only thing I can guarantee is that you are going to walk away wondering what the ever-loving fuck Yolanda has just done to you. anatomy is one of those books.  I had several WTF moments as I was reading because I wasn’t sure that I had read what I just thought I read. It seriously spun me around and wrung me out like I was in a washing machine’s spin cycle. It was just OMG. Really. It’s an amazing book, but if you can’t handle dark, darker, darkest and total mindfucks, do yourself a favor and pass this one up.

I’m not posting any spoilers, because anything I could post about the plot of the story will give things away, so I’m going to just post the blurb, and we’ll all be happy.

There’s a monster before me that’s killing everything I believe in.

A villain that sees me for what I’m worth and wants the pound of flesh I’ve offered up as repayment for my sins. The burden I carry is heavy on my shoulders, but as pieces of me are stripped away to bare the horrors within, I can feel myself becoming worthy of the pain.

I’m not a monster.

No matter how much it hurts to admit it, and no matter how terrible the truth will be when brought to light, I know that I’ll end this cleansed and whole again.

It’s what I truly want and that’s why I’m here.

The nights are long and full of torturous deviance and yet I still manage to keep a smile on my face, because while the ultimate prize at the end of this game is to claim my life, there’s a secret my tormentor doesn’t know.

If I go down, it will mean the end of both of us.

Sounds totally awesome, right?

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Did you come down here just to check to see if I put anything down here? Nope, nothing. Go buy the book.