Anthology-Something Wicked

By the pricking of my thumbs, Something Wicked this way comes. -Second witch Macbeth, Act 4 , scene 1

This anthology is made up of 14 stories by 14 authors, some new to me, some not. They are all a version of a fairy tale, but definitely not the ones that you know. They aren’t friendly. They aren’t happy. If there is whistling and singing going on in these stories, be sure that it’s not the good guy doing it. I will say that most of the stories have an ending that could be considered happy, for a given definition of happy, and for some particular people, but I’m not really sure that I would call them HEAs.

Usually, when I get an anthology that’s more than 8 or so stories, I only mention my faves, just because it can get long, and ain’t no one got time to read a super long review, let alone write one. However, I feel the urge to give you my reactions on all of them. I don’t think it will add too many words to do that.

Missy Ann-Forbidden Queen

New to me author. Wow. I honestly didn’t expect the direction the story went. I mean, I figured for a twist, but this was a whole Mobius strip of a twist.

B. Celeste-Within These Shadows

Another new to me author. This was… disturbing in really disturbing ways. Good ways, but yeah. I would love to find out more of this world. I love the protagonist and the way that their POV was done.

Elizabeth Cash-Bittersweet Beauty

This is a prequel or intro or something like that. There is going to be more to this story, which makes me happy, because I need more of Beck, Bishop, and Jax.

A. A. Davies-Dama de Diablo

New author to me. Appropriate title. ‘Nuff said.

Anna Edwards-The Toy

Damn you, Anna. Just damn you. I really think that I want to hate you, but I’m pretty sure that I can’t because it was too good! That end, though.

Emery Leeann-Bite Me: The Cursed Evil Queen

Another new to me author. With some of the stories, it was easy to tell what the story was. It wasn’t in this one. When I found out who the person was before they are the person that they are now? Blew me away.

K. S. Marshall-The Deadly Hunt

Lots of new to me authors in this one. I honestly thought that this was going to go another way. It’s still living in my head and I’m trying to figure out some of it in my head.

Claire Marta-The Wish

I wish that Claire would write faster. I’m not sure who I trust in this story, but I can’t wait to find out what’s going on.

C.L. Matthews-The Underneath

This might be the least dark story in the entire anthology. I loved it.

TL Mayhew-Wicked Lady T

I think that I may have read some of Mayhew’s other stuff, but the consequence of reading so many books is that I sometimes forget who and what I’ve read. This might be the second least dark story. I’m really looking forward to seeing how it turns out.

Michelle Pace-Nights on the Round Table

I love the Arthurian tales. I can tell you most of them backwards and forwards and I know all about the various knights. This is not the Arthurian tale that you expect.

Michelle Brown-Unfortunate Souls

I was lucky enough to be one of the people who got an ARC of Michelle’s first book, and I’ve enjoyed watching her grow. Her short stories are wicked AF, and this one is no different. Amazing spin on her tale.

Ally Vance-Hellfire

I had a Disney song running through my head the entire time I read this, which is kinda weird, considering the tone of the story, but what can I say? I’m really looking forward to seeing what happens with the rest of the story.

Murphy Wallace-Prick

I love the whole Sleeping Beauty/Maleficient theme in general, and the take on the story in this one is fabulous.

I can normally pick which ones are my favorite, but I think that with each of these stories I found a new favorite. They are all twisted and dark and disturbing and wonderful and all the things that I happen to like when I’m reading. The anthology is really short for an anthology. Some of the stories are really short, and they are all pretty quick to read. That’s one of my favorite things about anthologies, the fact that many of the stories are pretty quick to read and that I can pick them up and put them down without losing the thread.

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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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Michelle Brown-Pretty Killer

Michelle Brown is a first-time author. Her debut book is a mafia book that takes place in Mexico. What makes this stand out is that her heroine, Rosalina Maria, is the head of her family. That’s not something that you generally see in a mafia story. Shall we talk about Pretty Killer, then?

So, Rosalina Maria killed her first man when she was 8. He had raped her sister and killed her brother. She grabbed a knife that was strapped to her leg and stabbed him, just like her father had taught her. Eventually, her father sends her out to be trained in fighting, gymnastics, Parkour, and all that fun kind of stuff. Most people don’t know all that much about her, since she’s been training since she’s been young. When her parents die, she has to come home because she’s her father’s heir, and she’s now running the Mexican Mafia that her father was in charge of.

Anthony de Los Santos is the son of the head of the Cuban Mafia. His father sent him to talk to Rosalina about taking over her family’s business because no one is going to want to deal with a woman. However, Rosalina isn’t about to give anything up. She’s tough and stubborn. So, that means that Tony and Rosalina are going to have to do some negotiating.

Alrighty. So, like I said, this is a debut book and the first one in a new series. Overall, I liked the story and thought that it was good. However, I did think that there were problems with flow and Tony just didn’t feel as fleshed out as Rosalina did to me. I expect those things will change in later books as Michelle gets more experience. I do love the fact that Rosalina is el Jefa. That’s not something you see often, so big ups on that one. I do look forward to seeing where Michelle is going to go with this.

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This is another story that if you won’t like cliffies, you may want to wait until the whole series is out. I love to hate cliffies. Or hate to love them, or whatever, you get what I mean.

OK, when it comes to Rosie’s fighting skills, I kind of feel like she’s totally surprised when she kills someone. I mean, isn’t that what she trained to do? And theoretically, it should be harder for her to not kill than it is to kill. But, that’s not a deterrent to liking the story, that’s just one of the things that pop into my head as I read.

That’s it for this one. Head over to Zon and check it out. Happy reading!