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Showing posts with label Writers I Adore. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Writers I Adore. Show all posts

Book Review - "Havoc After Dark" by Robert Fleming

Book Review - Robert Fleming's Havoc After Dark


Dark and Excellent Short Horror Story Collection


To say Havoc After Dark is a collection of fourteen short stories makes it sound so...normal. Just a few stories in a book, like any other book. But this isn’t any ordinary collection, and these stories are like nothing you’ve ever read. 

Though billed as a collection of stories in the horror genre, the horror comes at you from so many directions that people looking for typical monsters and mayhem might not get it.

Individually, these stories shine as startling gems of originality. Together? They are a masterpiece. A perfect illustration in words of why the short-story format can do so much more than longer fiction. It has to. In the hands of a master writer like Robert Fleming (whose work has appeared in literary magazines, newspapers, and collections), words have the power to move. To change minds. To chill and to haunt. And to spark intense feelings (as illustrated by reader reviews, both good and bad, appreciative and hateful).

I loved this book for the following reasons:

Usually, writers work from the outside in—they observe the world and find ways to describe people, situations, and settings so readers relate, recognizing the world they know or seeing it in a different way. Writers often write to express ideas or feelings, to elicit emotion. Mr. Fleming does this exceptionally well. But what sets him apart, is the way he also writes from the inside...out. He seems to channel voices as disparate as a woman come back from the dead, a paid killer, racists, troubled children in impossible circumstances, a dying man, Edgar Allen Poe, Nazis, a haunted blues musician, lawyers, priests, and voodoo queens.

He writes as if he’s lived a thousand lives and walked every city on earth. Witnessed history from all sides. Has been the oppressor and the oppressed. Been whispered to by ghosts, vampires, murderers, and the devil himself.

Each story is unique. Some are hard to read. The horror so real it punches you in the gut. Each piece is written in a voice so different from the last it’s mind boggling that one person could create such unique tales. Yet, they all contain lush descriptions, making their settings as rich and real as the characters, and this too is a hallmark of Mr. Fleming's work.

From the shortest to the longest, these stories grab you by the throat, drag you into strange worlds, and into the minds of those living the tale, for that’s the way it feels reading this book—as if you step into the story and live it right along with Mr. Fleming’s characters. 

The thread tying them together is the “horror”. The hatred. The loss of hope. The fighting against a world gone mad. And yes...against monsters, both human and otherworldly.

It's difficult to pick favorites, but I particularly enjoyed Life After Bas, The Inhuman Condition, Punish the Young Seed of Satan, and The Wisdom of the Serpents. I won’t tell you what they are about, but instead, encourage you to treat yourself to this collection.

This book is special. This writer is awe-inspiring. These stories will stick with you, and if you are a writer, they will inspire you to reach deeper the next time you set out to write a story.

My rating - 5-stars


Emmanuelle de Maupassant and "Cautionary Tales: Voices from the Edges"

Book Review - Cautionary Tales: Voices from the Edges by Emmanuelle de Maupassant


Every once in awhile, I stumble across a writer who seems to come from another time, a time before Fifty Shades of Grey and the endless stream of imitators that followed. Back to the days when strong, intelligent women with darkly-woven souls wrote thought-provoking, deep, and literary works of fiction. 

Women like Sylvia Plath, Anais Nin, and Mary Shelley. The kind of women men feared and desired, repelled and attracted. Women who often wrote in secrecy, many of whom are still put down today by those who fear the power of their original voices screaming out into what remains largely a man's literary world. The kind of voice you cannot help but notice, penning prose that makes you shiver, think about your inner landscape and demons, and inspires writers to be better themselves.

Most of you know I have been fighting a medical condition for the past several years, one that has prevented me from writing as I once did. I've filled the gap, and my craving for words, by reading and listening to audiobooks when my vision will not allow written words to be seen.

So, though I may be late to the party, I want to introduce you to Emmanuelle de Maupassant, author of Cautionary Tales.

“We are the voices in the shadows …”

Inspired by Eastern European and Russian superstitions and folklore, here are twelve tales. Darkly delicious imaginings for the adult connoisseur of bedtime stories.

Listen,
Listen with your eyes,
and your lips.

Be drawn into a world where the boundaries between the everyday and the unearthly are snakeskin-thin, where the trees have eyes and the night has talons, where demons, drawn by the perfume of human vice and wickedness, lurk with intents malicious and capricious.

Listen with your skin
and your blood.

Here, the touching of your coat button as you pass through a graveyard can mean the difference between great fortune or eternal misfortune.

We’re here,
at the edges.

Tread carefully, for here the dark things best left behind in the forest may seep under your door and sup with you; the lover at your window or in your bed may have the scent of your death already on their breath.

We are the shiver on your uneasy flesh,
The creep of the unknown on your skin.

Whispered to you from the edges, from the haunted mouths of those who see more than you or I, here are twelve tales of lust and rivalry, of envy and deceit, and of secrets gouged from of the darkest depths of the human heart.

Is your shadow on the wall,
really yours, after all?

Emmanuelle de Maupassant strikes the pitch-perfect balance between rapacious sexuality and moral justice by using one to feed the other. She has done something unique with Cautionary Tales. She’s taken a literary tradition and transcribed it for the sexual landscape of the present day. – Malin James

Read more on  Emmanuelle de Maupassant's website, or purchase Cautionary Tales now.

The stories in this collection could have been written long ago by the Grimm brother's darker sister. The one they locked in a shed with a box full of dusty nursery books and only let out when the moon was full.

They are loosely connected in tone and their morality based sentiments. Despite that (which, I admit, initially turned me off), they are sexy little tales one can imagine pouring from a feverish mind, filled with demons and sex, fantasy and horror of the best kind.

*Disclaimer. My opinions are my own. I never accept monetary compensation for book reviews, nor am I in any way affiliated with AMAZON. I receive nothing from them, or anyone else when I recommend a book or writer, other than the pleasure of sharing good books with other readers.

Erotica Today

After Fifty Shades of Grey and countless copy-cats, I almost hate to say I write erotica. I like porn as much as the next person, so let me explain my hang-up. 

You see, real erotica is not usually about pleasure or sex, just as sex is not always about the body. Sex can leave you wanting or satiated, physically and emotionally. Sex involves emotions (even for men, despite what some would have you believe). 


Sex can make you sad, happy, relieved, or something else entirely. Sex can heal or wound. Traditional erotica explores more than desire, more than body parts, and more than orgasms. It digs deeper than surface emotions. Real erotica doesn’t necessarily require you to feel horny when or after you read it.

Good erotica often challenges you to think about yourself as a whole being. It asks you to explore the ways sex unites us, rips us apart, embarrasses us, or defines us. The best erotica shines a light into our most secret, dark corners. It can make you uncomfortable, or squirmy.

Erotica doesn’t condemn or judge or exploit. It often features people we recognize in ourselves. Imperfect people. People who don’t have movie-star looks or Christian Grey’s bank account.

Since I began writing erotica in 2005, I’ve written stories about many facets of sexuality, from the serious to the absurd, the sad to the joyous, and everything in between. I love a challenge and often write stories to push my own boundaries or to understand things that make me uncomfortable.

I love to shock the senses and do not shy away from difficult subjects. When I write BDSM, it’s about more than toys and playacting; it’s about what drives people to delve into it (and, shocker, it’s usually not because they were abused as children).

Horror is my favorite genre to read, so much of my erotica could be classified as erotic horror.

My goal as a writer is simply to create the best stories I can. No genre is off-limits. If I offend you with my fiction, good. If I turn you on, okay. If I make you think . . . nirvana. It’s all about the emotions to me. Sex is not my focus.

One of the best compliments I’ve ever received from a reader was, “This is the product of a sick and twisted mind.

My reply? “Thank you!
In a market saturated with porn calling itself erotica, and poorly written books still jumping on the Fifty Shades of Grey and soccer-mom porn bandwagon, there are still writers who offer something more than body parts moving in paper-thin plots. These are a few of my favorites:

Charlotte SteinShe’s edgy and unexpected. Her prose is razor sharp. Whether she makes you laugh or fidget or sigh with pleasure, you’ll be entertained.

Remittance GirlRG has a knack for writing believable people and lush, foreign settings with an other-worldly quality. Her work holds its own against mainstream writers. When I grow up, I want to be her.

Rose de FerRose writes lush, Gothic-flavored stories and books in a distinctive and captivating voice. 

Malin James – She describes her writing best: "Sex can be joyful, painful, wholesome or filthy - sometimes all at once. The people involved determines what kind of sex is being had, far more than the physical act alone."

Review: Wilde Passions of Dorian Gray: A Novel


Wilde Passions of Dorian Gray: A Novel
Wilde Passions of Dorian Gray: A Novel by Mitzi Szereto

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Like the author, I read Oscar Wilde’s classic novel The Picture of Dorian Gray as a precocious child. Also like the author, I picked up on the erotic content so skillfully buried and hinted at in the prose. Later, I read that Mr. Wilde had been forced to edit the story, and I wondered how he would have written had he lived in a different age and had been free to share more of his wildly exuberant intellect and varied proclivities. Reading Mitzi Szereto’s Wilde Passions of Dorian Gray, I was pleased to be in the hands of a writer who respected and admired Mr. Wilde and his work as much as I do. I was pleased we live in a time where Dorian Gray’s story could come to its logical and more satisfying conclusion. I was delighted every step of the way because, as horrific as some of his actions were to read, they were logical and right. Ms. Szereto pulls no punches, and I applaud her for it. If you’re after a sweet romance, look elsewhere. This is the story of a man’s slide into his own personal hell, made more awful because it starts out being his idea of heaven on earth and made more beautiful by the lyrical writing that fans of Mr. Wilde’s writing will treasure.

The premise is simple. Dorian Gray (he who vowed to live a life of unapologetic decadence and depravity, somehow gaining eternal youth while his portrait aged and decayed) did not die as he had to during Oscar Wilde’s time, a time when this final punishment was demanded to offset the rest of the titillating story. Instead, it’s explained, his death was faked so he could go on delving ever deeper into his twisted desires. Few things are left out here as Dorian revels in his freedom to be just as bad as he wants to be. Some of it turned me on. Some of it turned my stomach. But, like all truly great erotica, everything contributed to the story, and it all had a purpose. It all fit. Where the original book had the cadence of a carriage ride through the countryside, this one was more like a ride on the Orient Express, a ride where the devil took the wheel a few times.

The settings are lush and varied. Paris. New Orleans. Marrakesh. Peru. Again, this plays into the sense of diving headfirst into something strange and exotic, a foreign place for most of us where anything can happen next, and nothing is off limits. There’s a lack of control for the reader that plays into the experiences had by Dorian. And then, Dorian meets creatures even more depraved and soulless than he has become and the story offers hope as it seems Dorian (who started off in Oscar’s tale as such a likable chap, don’t forget) might still redeem himself.

I won’t give away the ending, but will say that it was perfect. Exactly what needed to happen to this great literary character. Oscar Wilde would raise a glass to Ms. Szereto for penning such a fine continuation to his classic story.



View all my reviews

Review - Coming Together Presents Remittance Girl

Remittance Girl writes erotica in the grand, literary tradition of masters like Henry Miller and Anais Nin. You won't find cookie-cutter characters, tired plots, or porno being labeled erotica here. No inner goddesses, lip biting, or overused clichés either. Instead, this collection offers readers a trip into other worlds and illuminates the private lives of strong women not afraid to explore themselves and the world around them. It shares other cultures and doesn't shy away from taboos, BDSM, and sexuality. No one needs any excuses for their behavior here. These stories are thought-provoking, real, AND sexy. Many are a slow burn, wiggling their way under your skin and tapping into themes other writers often shy away from. 

If you're a fan of FSOG, this may not be for you. But, if you'd like to take a trip into the world of literary erotica, holding the hand of a skilled storyteller and writer, you are in for a treat. Though each story is completely unique, the voice of Remittance Girl is strong and sure. 

Favorites - It's hard to pick from such an amazing collection. So many of these stories transported me into other worlds so well it was like taking a trip of the mind. But, these are my standouts:

Dark Garden - Delves into the mind of a woman who is both sickened and excited by her own sexual needs.

River Mother - Haunting, beautiful tale of an infertile girl in a culture that prizes motherhood above all else.

The Pipe of Thorns - Gorgeous, historical piece that perfectly captures another place and time in a fairy tale worthy of a grown-up Grimm.

The Baptism - Erotic horror incorporating religion and vampires. Scary, hot, and squirm-inducing.

As an added bonus, proceeds from the sale of this book benefit the ACLU.

*Note - I was given a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I am happy to give the collection a five-star review. It deserves every star.

Review - Limited Partnerships Omnibus

I was lucky enough to serve as a Beta Reader during the editing phases for this series. I say lucky because this was one of the best stories I've read in a long time, written by an experienced author who has a gift for adding those little touches that make her characters and plots come to life. You won't find cardboard characters here, or thin plots framing gratuitous sex scenes. You also won't find editing mistakes (always a plus!).

The Omnibus collection includes all four books in the series tied together by a few central characters. I liked all of the stories, but Charlie's was my favorite. His story kicks off the series with a bang. He's sexy in a real way, so I identified with him as someone I might actually meet (and lust after). He's no billionaire with issues who inexplicably falls for some damsel in distress. He's strong, capable and knows exactly what he's doing until his job as an escort puts him into close contact with a woman from his past. And the woman in question isn't an insecure virgin who doubts her every move. She's strong, and capable, and knows exactly what she wants . . . the unattainable Charlie. The way their story plays out has all the best elements of good erotica and romance novels. There's a real conflict, emotion, heart, and plenty of sex that's not just there for shock or show. I appreciated the way the sex scenes were full of dynamics that added to the story, instead of BEING the story.


I can't wait to read more from Louise Kokesh. 5 stars for this one. 

Review - The Princess and the Outlaw

Wow. Jean Roberta's bio says she's an English instructor at a university, and it really shows here (in a good way!). It's no wonder her stories have been published in over 100 publications either - they are that good. Whether the stories center on Amazon warriors and their secret admirers, or medieval princesses; no matter if they are set in ancient Greece or witch-hunter Salem, MA . . . there's an edge to the writing that harkens back to another era. These stories seem like classics, fables, and fairy tales.

I found myself drawn right into the familiar framework of the stories that made the erotic content all the more interesting and powerful.

Favorites? Hubris, the tale of an Amazon warrior and the girl whose fascination turns into a way of life that is so eloquently explained that I wondered how Jean managed to immerse herself in the ancient, fantasy world so deeply that her words read like they came from a real diary. Sister Mary Agnes because I've always had a hot spot for erotica that toys with the church. In this one, we meet a nun and a convent full of women harboring secrets that prove to be the undoing for some, and the salvation for others. Soul Search for its language and for taking on a disturbing era in American history and making it hot. The World Turned Upside Down for its mystery and character development and surprise ending. One of the things I admire most about what's presented here is how none of the stories are preachy, yet most share a good message about acceptance and freedom to be the sexual beings we are. The writing is clean and crisp and a pleasure to read.

I'm thrilled I was given a copy for review and happy to give this my highest rating.

Updating Blog List

Time has flown by since the last time I cleaned house, and I'm sad to say that more of my favorite authors and websites have gone away. Some I've broken ties with because, frankly, I don't like what they are up to these days. Others have gone "members only" and that's no fun for anyone. Some just slunk off into the night, and I hope they return someday full of stories about their adventures.

This year, I say goodbye to Alice Black and White (who seems to be active on Twitter, but has let her website go dead, Ambient Storm (who I will really miss for her hot, almost daily updates), Lillith Katz (her website/blog is now "members only"), and Scarlet Greyson (her website hasn't been updated in ages).

But, as they say, when one door closes another opens. This year I'm welcoming Charlotte Stein, Janine Ashbless, Rose de FerRiccardo Berra and Nikki Magennis to my blog list.  Check them out! You'll be glad you did.

Updated Favorites


Updating links today, I was happy to find many of my favorite writers still out there, doing what I love. Sadly, I also found a growing trend to private blogs, or "by invitation only" sites. I guess linking to a site for years and reading it all the time isn't enough to gain an invite so, I deleted the links. I mean if I can't read it, and you can't read it, then who the fuck cares?

Vespertine Erotica has disappeared and will be missed. If anyone knows where she's gone off to, please let me know.

A bunch of people have taken breaks and that's cool. You'll still love exploring their homes and can leave wishes like mine for their speedy return.

Alice Rocks


Alice (of Alice Black And White) was kind enough to put up an excerpt of my story, Smoke and Mirrors. One of the things I love best about being a writer is helping other writers. I knew Alice and I would be fast friends the day she told me her karma grows every time she does something for someone else. The lady is an amazing person and a hot, up and coming erotica writer.

If you haven't checked out her blog, you need to. You won't be sorry.

A poem, by oatmeal girl

I am very pleased to publish a poem written by the fascinating oatmeal girl.

She writes with a gut-wrenching honesty about domination and submission, drawing from her own experiences, sharing everything – the pain, the pleasure, the frustrations and joys. Her work can be in-your-face, squirm inducing, and soul revealing. This is no exception.

Her erotica speaks for itself, but I had to know why she calls herself oatmeal girl, and this is what she told me:

I had been learning more about submission from reading blogs and such, but hadn't felt entitled to comment until having an in-the-flesh experience. My first was with a pinhole photographer. We decided we would undertake a full project when he was here. That meant eating a hell of a lot of oatmeal, or begging for oatmeal boxes from other people. Because, unless you want to re-load the camera for every shot you take, you need a full component of boxes ready to go, each containing a sheet of photo-sensitive paper.

Luckily, the supermarket had a sale on oatmeal. 10 boxes for $10! Problem solved. Except that it left me with two huge plastic containers of the contents of those boxes. That was over 2 years ago, and I still haven't baked enough oatmeal cookies to use it all up!


Only after looking at herself through the eyes of a Dom, through his pinhole lens, did she find her true sense of submission, and transform herself into oatmeal girl.

To read her haunting poem, Auto da fé, click here. Don't forget to leave her comments.

To visit her blog, Submission & Metaphor, click here.