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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Natalie Bennett-Devils With Halos

Natalie Bennett is back with a new wicked series. The series is called Malignant and the first one is Devils With Halos. And trust me, it’s definitely dark and malignant. It has Natalie’s undeniable touch, and anyone who has liked any of her other books is really going to like this one too.

So, Faith is a recovering addict. She quit drinking and drugging the day that her best friend, Sam, ODed. Even after having gone through rehab, she’s still trying to put her life back together. She was given a trip to a resort for her and her 3 friends, Lilly, Camilla, and Marcy, to enjoy. Faith kept trying to get in touch with Ryker, the one man she loves and who is also Sam’s older brother, but he’s not answering his phone. As she drives away, she waves to her dad, who gets on the phone to someone. She’s pretty sure that it’s Ryker.

Faith wakes back up in the SUV having fallen asleep while the car was driving. She wakes up because the car has stopped. They are at a strange, empty, closed gas station so that they can get gas. The problem is that Faith is pretty sure that there is something wrong, because there’s a white van with no windows in the back just sitting there. Too bad she didn’t pay attention to those instincts, because her sweet trip went from a girls’ resort trip to a less mutanty and cannibalistic version of a Wrong Turn movie.

It turns out that she and her friends, as well as some other people, were taken by a group called Malignant. And guess who’s in charge of Malignant?

There are some serious mindfucks going on here. Poor Faith. Nothing is what she expects it to be anymore. She is standing with her feet on two separate pieces of debris in the middle of a whirlwind and they are going to go in different directions any microsecond, leaving her completely falling. But, she doesn’t quite realize that yet. She’s starting to, but… Seriously, this is dark. There’s some nasty shit that happens. There isn’t a whole lot of good and happy at all in this book. I don’t expect any good and happy to happen. There may be a small ray of light, but I don’t know. We’ll see.

I wouldn’t exactly call this a cliffhanger, but there is a hill, so if you don’t want to be left hanging on the side of that hill, you may want to wait until the next 2 books come out. Luckily, Natalie tends to write pretty quick and doesn’t leave us hanging too much.

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You know, I don’t have a lot to say down here. I really don’t want to say anything because I don’t want to spoil anything at all.

Go read it. I’d say happy reading, but…

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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B. B. Blaque-Who’s Sawree Now?

Oh man. Buckle up buttercup, it’s going to be a bumpy ride. Are you all strapped in now?

A few months ago, B. B. Blaque, who writes in the pitch black, wrote a book that is very likely one of the biggest mindfucks I’ve ever read. I’m Sawree played with my mind in all kinds of ways, and I was just like fuuuuck. Then BB said that she was going to write another one. And I wondered how she was going to top herself. Then I read Who’s Sawree Now? 

Now, I read a lot of books. I mean, a lot a lot. I like reading dark, twisty, mindfuckery, and completely fucked up books. There are very few books that when I’m done with them, I am honestly completely at a loss for words. I looked at my husband and said fuck, just fuck. I can count those books on the fingers of one hand and still have left over fingers. It took me a couple of days to write my review on GR for it because I had to process it.

I’m not going to give you any kind of summary on it. Giving you a summary of the book won’t help you. You need to read it to even start to understand it. And if you haven’t read Sawree, you’re being thrown into the Marianas Trench without knowing how to swim. And you really don’t understand this story as much as it grabs you, strangles you, pulls your hair, and drags you along behind it. You just hope to hold on, catch your breath, and to be able to hold on to your sanity at the end.

Calling this book a mindfuck is doing it an injustice. The problem is, I don’t think there is another term for it. I mean, if Rod Serling, Alfred Hitchcock, and Richard Matheson got together and had a bastard child, it would be this book. Sterling is beyond a psychopath. Put Ed Gein, John Wayne Gacy, and Mengele together and you might have Sterling. He is probably the closest thing to pure evil I’ve ever read in a non-paranormal story.

When I reviewed Sawree, I suggested booze and fluffy kitties. I’m here to tell you, there ain’t enough fluffy baby kitties in the world. It may take baby goats. Even then, I’m not sure. I do know that you are going to need the booze.

I just have one more tip. Don’t drink the coffee.

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Natalie Bennett-King of Hearts

This is the second book in Natalie’s Old Money Roulette series. It’s dark, mysterious, and left me with so many more questions that I had going in. I mean, wow.

So, let’s talk about King of Hearts, shall we? Before I get into it, there’s a good chance that there are going to be spoilers for Queen of Diamonds. I don’t mean to leave them, but it is likely to happen. It’s the nature of the beast when you get book series that are set up the way that the Old Money Roulette books are. So, if you haven’t read QoD and it’s on your TBR, you may want to reconsider looking at this blog until you have read it. I will say that KoH is a big mindfuck. I mean, most things that Natalie writes end up fucking with your brain in some way or other. But this is a big one. It’s dark and there isn’t really a glimmer of light going on. So be aware of that.

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Continue reading “Natalie Bennett-King of Hearts”

Addison Cain-The White Queen

There used to be an adult fairy tale anthology called The Dark Forest. Eight great authors got together to write some great stories. When I read that book, I read one of the darkest things I’ve ever read. Addison Cain’s take on Alice in Wonderland was horrifying and dark. Well, what people didn’t realize when they read that story is that Addison had to pull stuff out of the story so that it could go into the set.

Eventually, The Dark Forest was pulled from Amazon and the rights reverted back to Addison. When that happened, she was free to do whatever she wanted with her story. And thus, we got The White Queen.

Anyone who is a regular reader of Addison already knows that she can go dark. I mean, I knew it when I read DF for the first time, but I didn’t know how dark. Then I got to her story. I immediately made my horror loving husband read it and he looked at me like whoa. He loved it too.

So, let’s get into the story now that I’ve rambled enough. It’s not a long story, and it’s not substantially different from its predecessor. There are things that have been added in and changed around a bit. Those things definitely make the story darker and more horrifying.

Alice is a beautiful little girl who is mostly trotted out when her parents want to have a living prop and is only valued for her beauty. Otherwise, she lives in her nursery with her dollies that she’s not allowed to touch and the white rabbit. Only this white rabbit isn’t a cute little guy in a weskit who leads you to the Mad Hatter and March Hare for a topsy-turvy tea party. Instead, every night, when the clock stops, the rabbit looks at her and brings forth her nightmares. There are the evil twins who attack her, the bloody woman who just stares at her, the laughing man who sits and laughs at her hysterically, and the Hatter. All of the others torment her. She can’t sleep at night. She gets in trouble because her room has been trashed. Her parents swear that she’s hurting herself and hate her. But the Hatter, he protects her.

OMG. This story is a true mindfuck and pretty strictly horror. There really isn’t any romance in this book. There definitely isn’t any light. It’s now firmly in my top 3 darkest. The only reason that the story from DF isn’t still in my top 3 is because WQ replaced it. FYI: the other two are Life of Anna by Marissa Honeycutt and Catacombs by Addison Cain. If you don’t like dark or you like a lighter shade of dark, don’t read this. There are some things that will trigger the shit out of you. OK, there are no spoilers here because it is such a short read. Go read it yourself and see what you think of it. Just maybe make sure you have a nightlight and no stuffed bunnies in your room, huh?

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Marissa Honeycutt-Master of My Heart

Of all the dark books I’ve read, Marissa Honeycutt’s Life of Anna is still one of the darkest and bleakest I’ve ever read, even including BB Blaque’s books and When the Dark Wins. Those are on my list of darkest books, but I think LoA is still going to be #1.  The books are a serial, so I recommend reading the complete set. It’s in KU, but I also recommend buying it, especially since some of the books in the series have been banned. LoA is the only book that I have had to literally put down in the middle of it and read something else altogether. I got it on KU and even sent it back. I spent a couple of days dreaming about the book so I had to go back to KU and finish reading it. I spent a lot of time horrified about what was happening to Anna, angry for her, angry at Devin, and I cried. A lot. I mean, a lot a lot. Spoiler for LoA: The spot where I had to put it down was right before Alex and Anna got married. I don’t know why that particular spot hit my limit, but I just reached that point. That particular thing was what I dreamt about.

Marissa has brought out another series that takes place in the same world. It takes place some years after LoA. Anna is not the focus of this one, but there are some carry over characters. This series is called Finding Sabrina. The first book is Master of My Body, and the second is Master of My Heart. That’s the one we’re talking about today. Now, as a warning, Marissa is writing Sabrina as a serial, just like she did with LoA. I know that there are least 2 more books to come, but I don’t know how long in between each one. If you totally despise cliffies, then you may want to wait until Marissa puts out a complete set. I, on the other hand, may curse cliffies, but they don’t deter me. Obviously. Otherwise, I wouldn’t read about 60% of what I do read.

So, here’s the story as it stands right now. There are going to be some spoilers for MoMB, there’s really no other way to it. If you haven’t read it yet and you want to, this is your very last chance. If you read past this point and you get spoiled, you only have yourself to blame.

OK, here goes. Sabrina has woken up and realized that none of her captors are there. They are all dead, and she killed them all. Her Immortalness took over and she kind of went feral and just went on a killing spree. Frankly, I don’t blame her. After being treated like she was for 5 years, I would’ve killed everyone too. She sees Chase’s West Point ring and it helps her come back to herself. That ring and thoughts of Chase are all that have kept her as sane as she is. That and being able to dance. Sabrina ransacks the house, takes a lot of money, and finds the diamond that will drain her Immortality and let her live as a normal human. She manages to make it to her ballet company and the head guy helps her escape to Boston, which is where she’s decided that she wants to go. She wants Chase.

Meanwhile, Chase is facing the fact that he has to get married by the end of the year. He’s the heir to one of the Brotherhood’s Elders, and that means that he has to get married and start producing his own young. Richard, the Elder, tells him that he knows that Chase wants Sabrina, but they have searched in every way possible for her and there has been no trace of her at all. Now he’s off on a mission with his team to take care of a problem for the Brotherhood. He’s incommunicado except to Richard, his mother, and his best friend, Jayson. Jayson just happens to dance at the dance company in Boston where Sabrina is going to go audition. He lives with his sister Liz, and they have a spare room in their apartment.  And guess where Sabrina goes to stay? Of course, she doesn’t know that Jayson and Chase are buds when she goes to stay with him.

You remember how I said that LoA was probably the darkest thing I’ve read? Sabrina might beat it. Sabrina has already gone through a lot. And I’m pretty sure that the darkest, most terrible stuff is yet to come. I’m going to be interested to watch and see. When the last book comes out, I’ll read all of them back to back so I can get the best idea as to which one is worse. I don’t think that we’ve seen the true villain a whole lot as of yet, so I’m going to be interested to see what’s going to happen with that.

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The fact that Sabrina is way more than even 3/4 Immortal is interesting. 15/16 maybe? 31/32? I can’t wait to see what will happen as she comes more into herself and her powers as a demi-Immortal. She’s going to make some people very, very, very strong, I think.

I think that Richard, Tom, Chase, and all his friends are going to be very good for Sabrina, especially as she sees that pretty much anything goes when it comes to sex. I liked seeing her meet the slaves at the Manor. They were very obviously happy and well cared for, which was completely opposite to what happened to her. I’d love to see her interact more with them in a casual setting. That may be a good way to bridge a gap for her, maybe.

OK, that’s all I have to say about this. If you like dark, gritty, and pitch black, then go read all Marissa’s books, especially LoA and the Finding Sabrina books.