Natalie Bennett-Crucible

International best selling author Natalie Bennett is back with the start of a new series. And it looks like it’s going to be just as dark and fucked up as some of her other books. I can’t fucking wait. It all starts with Crucible.

A crucible is a vessel in which metal ore or solid metal goes into before it’s put into a smelter so that it can get refined and melted down. When most people talk about a crucible, they are talking about a difficult trial that they have gone through, and which makes them stronger or breaks them altogether on the other side. And this is definitely a crucible for Raelynn.

Rae has left all the life she knew before to start over in the tiny town of Harmony Springs. It’s so small, I don’t even know if it has the population to be an actual town. Maybe it’s only a village, but I digress. Her parents helped her find a Tudor style home and fixed it up for her. It’s got a real retro glam feel to it, because that’s Rae’s personal aesthetic. While she doesn’t really need to work, she sees a help wanted sign at the local diner and decides to be a waitress. While she is working there, she meets the Blackwood twins, Jace and Kaiden, which totally changes her life.

The Blackwoods are THE family of Harmony Springs. Those in the know know that they are up to something, but not everyone in town knows what they like to do. Some of the people who don’t know kind of suspect that something is up with them, but no one says anything. The twins are the town heartthrobs, and they know it. Their dad saw Raelynn on her first day in town, and knew that she was the right person for his boys. And that was all she wrote. Or he wrote, or someone wrote.

As this is a Natalie Bennett book, you aren’t going to be surprised that there is a heavy dose of mindfuckery going on in this book. Nor should you be surprised that there is some serious darkness. Natalie can go to the horror place, and does sometimes (a lot of times?), but I don’t think that this one goes to that place, at least not at the moment. It does go to the dark place, but again, Natalie. There is a lot of tension going on and only some of it seems to be resolved at any point. Because it is a quick prequel to a new series, it is rather cliffhanger-y, but it’s going to be worth it, I do believe.

I like Rae, but I think that she’s a little naive at times. The twins are just kind of creeperish and creepy at the same time and definitely hiding every damn secret in the world. I’m looking forward to finding out more about their sister and their friends. The story is going to be so good. Again, because Natalie. I haven’t found anything of hers that I haven’t liked, as of yet.

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I have to say that the cat showing up with a tag that had my address on it would’ve had me noping right the fuck out of there. And if that didn’t do it, the picture in the mail sure as fuck would’ve. This is what I mean about me thinking that Rae was kind of naive. Eddie Murphy does a whole comedy bit about how if a black family had been in Poltergeist or Amityville Horror, they would’ve been out of there at the first sign of something paranormal. Yup, I totally agree. The first creepy ass thing that happened would see my ass out the door and waving bye-bye. I might’ve even left skid marks. Then again, if Rae had done that, it would be a totally different story, right?

I think that she should’ve broken into the shed much earlier, like the first or second day she was there, but again, see above about different story.

I have to wonder, how much are Rae’s parents involved in what’s going on? Maybe I’m just paranoid AF, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t in it up to their eyeballs.

OK, that’s all for this one. If you love Natalie Bennett, this is definitely one you are going to have to go read. Happy reading!

Natalie Bennett-Depravity

You don’t have to get very far into Depravity in order to realize that this is a very Natalie Bennett book. It has her mix of total innocence and total chaos all wrapped up together in a pleasing package. This is dark and it does have MM, MFM, MMF sex in it. And I’d give it 5 scorching flames just for that part, let alone for the rest of the story.

Helena is sick. At least, that’s what her mother has told her all her life. That she’s sick and that nothing can fix her, no matter what. Her daddy has left her mother, and her mother says it’s all Helena’s fault. Helena likes to fix things that are broken. When Buddy breaks her mother, she breaks Buddy, and then she fixes them. She makes them smile at her and if she had a dog, they would be the perfect family. But it doesn’t work that way, so she calls her daddy to help deal with it. So he takes her home with him.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Declan and Ethan are getting their rocks off the way that they do. Mostly, that’s by killing someone while fucking them, and Declan fucking Ethan at the same time. They are partners in so many ways, including being lovers. And they like to kill together, in their playroom in the Dahlia. They have been looking for their perfect center, to help make their little family complete. Declan’s the lemon tier of cake, Ethan is the strawberry, and they need their vanilla tier. Then they meet Helena, and discover how perfect she is for them. Their biggest problem is going to be convincing her of that fact.

I like Helena as a character. I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t want to be anywhere around her in real life, though. At the beginning of the book, she really has all the emotional knowledge and maturity of an infant. In fact, an infant may be more in touch with their emotions than Helena is. Of course, she’s been extremely isolated, to the point where for the majority of her life, she’s only been around her mother, father, and Buddy. And when one of those people spends all of their time telling you how sick you are and how broken you are and how no one will ever want you, you kinda end up not all that emotionally mature and you probably don’t think all that much of yourself, either.

Declan and Ethan are, of course, sick and depraved, but they know that and they willingly embrace it. And since Declan is an Andreou, ain’t no one gonna say nothin’ to them ’bout it, either. In fact, since the Andreous own the town, they could probably murder someone walking down the street and not have a problem. You know, that could be really interesting to see. I’ll have to go read all the other Andreou books to see if something like that happened. I have read the Mercy books, which are Morganna and Julian’s story, but I haven’t read the Obscene Duet, which is Mason and Katie, as of yet. I actually own them, I just need to find some spare time to read them. I used to joke that I would be 3 days dead before I finished my TBR, but these days, it’s going to be more like 3 years.

Anyway, this is darrrrk. There are glimmers of light, but it’s black light. Does that turn me off reading anything else that comes out of this world or about this trio? Oh fuck no. In fact, I’ll probably be right up on the front line in order to get it, because, well, I’m me.

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One of the things that really struck me about this book, and it’s down here in the spoiler section instead of up there because it could be a spoiler, is the whole nature vs. nurture argument. Is Helena sick because her mother treated her as sick and abused her? Or Is Helena sick because she’s a sociopath or psychopath? Or is it a combination thereof? Unfortunately, I don’t think that we’re ever going to be able to know the answer to that, and I didn’t really see anything that showed one way or the other what Natalie thought. I mean, yeah, one of the guys at one point says that she isn’t a socio/psychopath, but really, can we trust them? And it’s kind of seriously unethical and immoral to run any kind of experiment in the real world to test out nature vs. nurture. (Not that I would or would even advocate it.) I think, at this point, it’s going to be up to us, as the readers to decide, unless Natalie comes right out and says.

I hated Molly from the very beginning, so I wasn’t all that surprised that she tried to do what she tried to do. I have to wonder how much she knew about anything that Heath might’ve done to Helena. She seemed way too interested in getting Helena in that basement, if you know what I mean.

OK, that’s all I’m going to say on this one. I could go on and on, but you have to go check out this story and tell me what you think. Happy reading!

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…

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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Natalie Bennett-Heathens

Oh, holy fuck, y’all. Natalie Bennett is a sick and twisted individual and I so totally don’t want to get stuck in her head. That being said, I like sick and twisted individuals and I totally love what she wrote. The Badland books have been dark, intense, and definitely twisted. Heathens is definitely a worthy addition to the series and a great way to cap off this part of Natalie’s world.

Cobra is the final member of the Holy Trinity of the Savages. His friends, partners, and brothers, Romero and Grimm, have found their Queens and loves. Romero and Cali are definitely the Dark King and Queen of the Savages and have their Princess. She’s too young to be dark, light, or other, but I’m pretty sure that Adelaide isn’t going to be light and fluffy, not with her parents. Don’t get me wrong, I really like Rome and Cali, but… Grimm and Arlen aren’t quite as intense as Rome and Cali, but they sure as hell ain’t a comedic pair either. That leaves Cobra, who is obsessed with one particular woman. One who isn’t there. One who has blue hair.

Blue was traded to Vitus and the Venom as part of a way to solidify a partnership between the Savages and the Venom. Rome is going to need Vitus’ help to take down The Kingdom, Centriole, and I’d say that Rome has made a deal with the devil when it comes to Vitus, but since Romero is a Satanist and Vitus isn’t, I’m pretty sure that it’s sort of the other way around. Blue has spent her time trying to make sure that Vitus is happy. She’s not happy there, but she’s smart enough to know that she shouldn’t let that show. But that doesn’t mean that a particular Savage, one with a snake tattoo, isn’t always on her mind. There is a connection between her and Cobra, but she’s here and he’s there, and she has to deal with Vitus.

Then a mysterious woman shows up, and she seems to have a connection to Vitus too. Blue works really hard to not show any curiosity, but in her situation, curiosity can get her killed, but when the chance comes to talk to this wraith of a woman, it turns out that she’s a woman who is supposed to be safe in Centriole, not huddling in a literal prison run by Vitus, looking like hell, and shaking with withdrawals.

Then Blue is able to get back to Cobra, but not without collateral damage. And she has a lot to say to the leaders of the Savages.

OK, yeah, I really do mean holy fuck, y’all. This is dark and twisted. Cobra isn’t nice. Cobra isn’t anywhere near nice. He’s a very not nice who does even not nicer things and enjoys them. I mean, we aren’t talking about a guy who is a good guy who is doing bad things for a reason. We’re talking about a bad guy who gets off, pretty much literally, on torturing people and who tortures people for fun. I’m pretty sure that he doesn’t have a soul, I know that he has no conscience, and he has no morals. I’m relatively positive he couldn’t define moral if you asked him to. But, all that being said, within his personal boundaries and beliefs, he is pretty much doing what he thinks is right and there are no problems with him doing it. I mean, the only person who is going to take him to task is Romero, and I’m about 150% sure that Romero isn’t going to stop Cobra at all. Well, unless he wants to get in on the fun. I have loved this series, and it has gotten stuck in my head. Now that Heathens is out, I’m going to have to do a full reread.

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The description of Rome, Cali, Grimm, Cobra, and Blue’s attack on Centriole is pretty fanfuckingtastic. The way that they work together is almost like magic. I can totally see them doing it in my head. It’s not pretty, in that there is all kinds of blood and gore, but the way that they are working together is pretty, if that makes sense.

I’m looking forward to the next evolution of the series. It’s going to be all kinds of wrong. ALL KINDS. It’s going to be so awesome too. I can’t wait to read it. And Natalie, being Natalie, is going to torture us until we can get that into our hands.

OK, that’s all I have to say on this one. Go read the series. Trust me. I’d be willing to say happy reading, but, yeah…

Natalie Bennett-Ace of Spades

Stop! Hammer time!

Seriously, no, stop. If you haven’t read the first two books in this series, put this review down, put Ace of Spades down and go pick up Queen of Hearts and start the series. If you don’t, you will not know what’s going on, and you will spoil yourself. If you continue to read past my warning, you will be spoiled for the first two books. Sorry, it’s the nature of the beast. I try really hard to not spoil, you know that I do, but talking about the current book will spoil the first two, just because of the way it’s written. So, be sure that this is what you want to do.

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So, we’re back to Elena who has just found a box of ashes with her twin sister’s necklace in it. She knows that this means that her beloved twin sister, the other half of her soul is dead. Elena has to run to get some space so that she can think and make some plans. She calls Mateo and tells him that she’s not running away, she just needs a few days to take a break and think. Of course, we all know what this means, We all know how Mateo is. He’s freaking out over the whole thing, well, freaking out to the extent Mateo actually does. He demands that everyone find her, but do it quietly, so as not to warn the Ace and their people that Elena is missing.

Elena calls her buds, Mel and Peyton so that they can come and help her figure out what’s going on. They make her think of some things that she hadn’t before. Elena has spent a lot of time reacting instead of acting. Sadly, Mateo puts her in that position sometimes. I don’t think that he is doing it to be mean. He is doing it purposely though. There is a reason for him to do everything he does. Here’s one reason that I think that he’s doing it, at least my opinion. If he tells Elena who the Ace is, everything that’s going on, without making her work for it and without making her do things that she doesn’t agree with, then she wouldn’t believe him and wouldn’t appreciate all the facts. The fact that she had to go through all these steps, no matter how painful they were, she’s going to know that the facts that she found are true facts. And she’s going to know that all the steps that have been taken to keep her safe and to find out the truth were necessary.

OK, there have been times when I said I didn’t trust Elena’s BFFs because I thought that they were in on some conspiracy of Mateo’s, and I’m not too proud to say that I’m glad that I’m wrong. This book also changed my POV on Mateo. I was always in the love to hate him hate to love him camp, depending on what’s going on with him, but this book changed him for me. This book made me understand why he did the things that he did. Do I necessarily like what he did? Nope. Do I understand why he did it? Yup, or at least more yup. Overall, the book answered a lot of questions that I had. It left me satisfied and that’s always a good thing. One more thing, the Ace of Spades is often called the death card, so I found that an interesting title for the last book in this series.

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I figured the Ace was a relative, but not the relative that it was. It was kind of both a surprise and a non-surprise, if that makes sense.

I understood better why Elena’s father made the choices that he did with Mateo. It was the only thing that he could do. I would’ve done pretty much the same thing or my version of the same thing. I would want to make sure that my children would be safe.

OK, that’s all I have to say on this one. Go read the entire series. It’s awesome, and since AoS is out, there is no worry about cliffies. Happy reading!

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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