The Sanest Madman's Scribblings

Literature, Reviews, Interviews and general nonsense

Like A Fine Wine, Hunter’s Blood Just Gets Better and Better

Attention: This review will include an inordinate amount of Johnny Depp seeing as the lovely Rue Volley described him as her muse, particularly for Hunter. You have all been warned. But I’m not even sorry.

Catch & Release

I can tell you this third instalment to Rue Volley’s Hunter’s Blood series definitely measures up to the hype; it is in no way a disappointment. In fact it is my favourite book in the series; I could and will read it over and over again. It just gets better every time you read it; you notice more and more fantastic subtle things Rue does to make it such a brilliant short, both as a standalone story and as part of the series itself.

There are so many good points about this story that I can just ramble on about for ages–and I probably would if it wasn’t for the word limit on my ridiculous posts–but I especially want to focus on the stunning character development and wondrous plot. Just so you can understand just how great Catch & Release is. And to make some sense of my many Johnny Depp references, we’re going to start with the ever mysterious Hunter.

Well, what can I say about Hunter?

 

Although inspired by the charming and kooky Depp, Hunter reaches a whole new level of crazy never explored by humanity before. In Catch & Release, we start to unravel the mystery that is Hunter when an old flame returns to his life, but as we delve into his past we also delve deeper into just how unbalanced he is. This made me so excited when reading the short; I was so excited to finally get some insight into Hunter. But what Rue does in the short is better than anything I could’ve expected; she dangles the truth in front of our faces and then snatches it away. Then all you want is to know more and to be honest, I loved it. I loved the way she teases with aspects of Hunter, unravels some of his mystery then quickly winds it back up. It made Hunter grow on me so much more.

Without spoiling anything–even though I really want to spoil and gush over what exactly happened–I will try and explain. We start to learn about several titbits about Hunter such as how he started out as a vampire, what exactly caused him to be so messed up and a few other deep dark secrets. But just as we think we know Hunter a little bit better, all of our knowledge is turned on its head at the twist ending and we’re left not quite sure what is true. And I personally was left imagining Hunter like this whenever anything sexual happened:

 

Time to be moving swiftly on to Vanessa or else I’ll just go on about Hunter forever and ever. Now Vanessa was just amazing in this short, even more so than Hunter. Although we may know more about Vanessa through her narrative, we are still left with some mystery from the first two shorts; for example she still suffers from unexplained memory lapses. But her unstable mental state is elaborated upon a lot in Catch & Release; we start to see her more as a psychopath herself than just a girl suffering from the occasional amnesia episode.

At first the hints at her instability are subtle, such as Hunter suggesting more happened on the night of her turning than she remembers, that she actually instigated it–even though he quickly seems to take it back. But when the conflict with Hunter’s old flame builds, we start to see just how broken Vanessa is. We are left in her mind a lot, trapped with her thoughts just as she is and we actually see a gradual break down on her sanity. I especially noticed this as she ponders over fundamental parts of her life such as her love for Hunter; at first she is so certain in her love for him but gradually her doubts build, she starts to wonder if there was any love. And by the short’s climax, she is completely numb. The sassy and sharp-tongued Vanessa has been broken and she seems to be a shadow of her human self, that little unstable girl shut away from the world.

 

All jokes aside, it actually is really moving. I just feel terrible for Vanessa, I almost wanted to put the book down and take a deep breath, just to separate myself from all her tumbling emotions and ruined psyche. This is where Rue really shined to me; sure Hunter was great, there’s no denying that but Vanessa just completely stole the short for me. Her struggle was presented nigh perfectly, it was so realistic and I felt a pit forming in my stomach as I read, feeling absolutely heartbroken. Vanessa’s character was explored so well, every aspect of her was deepened but parts were still left ambiguous for further instalments. 

I just can’t fault how Rue presented Vanessa and Hunter in Catch & Release. We finally got to see new sides to both of them without having every part of their lives laid bare. There’s still anticipation for future instalments to explain all the mystery left by the ending. Plus it was nice to know just how crazy the two really were, especially when Vanessa actually seemed like the sane one at times. Boy was that misleading.

I guess I really need to talk about the plot now especially as I keep referring to the ending. The plot was great; the opening was pretty much flawless. I cracked up as we were welcomed into some hilarious banter between the vampiric couple, the banter everyone loves oh-so-much. But even with Rue’s spot on humour, this short had a notably dark tone. I would even say the darkest tone of the three but I think it was great and was actually set up really well. I feel the shorts were written to prepare the reader for a dark third instalment as there’s a really nice transition from the first novel: to me the first instalment was fairly light-hearted par a few murders, the second was darker and resonated in religious practices and the third was just complete blackness, it was beautifully dark and filled with the grime of society.

And the ending–which I just have to describe as a twist–flipped the tone on its head in a way that just left me with my jaw dropped. This honestly was my reaction to the ending at first; I just had no idea what to think:

 

But once I had regained my composure, I tried to go back over the book and wrap my head around what had just happened. The result was pretty much the same.

 

Eventually I crept back to my laptop, read the last few pages with a vaguely level head and decided to actually form an intellectual opinion on the mind-boggling twist. I was just in shock at first, that’s all I can say. I was stunned. I expected the return of a certain character, but not in the way it happened or the revelation that followed. Not in a million years, not after what happened in the first book through all the game playing. I just felt dumbfounded as we were once again presented with a confusion between what is real and what is not, left wondering if Vanessa actually is in touch with reality or not. It was an amazing ending. Although I felt the need to crawl into bed afterwards and hide safely in my own crazy thoughts.

But I am rarely surprised when reading so this instalment really excited me; it had me on edge and left me boggled in a wonderful way. I have to say that I am blown away; Catch & Release really is the icing on the cake. I expect this series to grow in popularity at a startling speed after this instalment; I expect to see the raving reviews climbing and the gushing fan base to grow far and wide.

The best part is this isn’t even the end of the series; there are more instalments to come and maybe even a full novel. I am pretty damn excited to see more and have a few more mysteries unravelled.

 

Rue has done herself proud and I will be eagerly waiting for the next instalment. I need it RIGHT NOW.

5/5

The Long Awaited Bella Morte Anthology Has Landed

The Bella Morte Anthology

And with a bang! So here it is my very long review of the newly released Bella Morte Anthology from Hot Ink Press! Let’s do this thing!

The anthology as a whole is brilliant, absolutely brilliant. It has been put together so well, no story is honestly the same. Even stories featuring similar supernatural elements (for example succubi) are not all lumped together, instead they’re spread out amongst various different short stories. This really helps keep your interest pinned to the anthology. I even noticed that as I was reading it, I never thought ‘Oh no, not another story about vampires’ or ‘I feel like I’ve just read the same story three times; girl meet boy, raunchy erotica ensues’ and it made me so happy. I love when an anthology can hold my interest because so often not enough attention is paid to layout and the stories just become repetitive. But Bella Morte is everything I hoped for and more, it is a collection of diverse and captivating stories that I really enjoyed reading.

I’ll happily admit that not every story was suited to my taste but that just shows how diverse the anthology really is; it has something for everyone. It also displays a wide range of sexual escapades; it isn’t just limited to a single agenda or the full-on pansexual BDSM playroom of doom. It has a mixture; it shows heterosexuals, homosexuals, bisexuals, pansexuals doing anything from soft to hardcore. Hot Ink Press were not just catering to one certain reader (myself for example) when selecting stories and putting the anthology together, they were actually looking at a broader audience and catering to it. And that’s what you should do with an anthology, it is meant to show a range of creativity and skill therefore appealing to a range of readers.

The anthology as an overall piece gets a brilliant, solid 4.5/5. Did I mention it’s just brilliant?

Now onto the individual pieces...

Carly Wallace, Beautiful Death

This poem is the opening piece to the anthology; it introduces the reader into a new world that ranges from soft moans to fetish and pains. It almost felt like a warning for the reader, a warning for what is to come in the anthology and thus works so well as an opening to the anthology.

It works exceptionally well, it is simple and to the point but leaves a good impact on the reader as they continue through the anthology; 5/5

Samantha Bradie, Gypsy Princess

This short is quite interesting in its layout, each paragraph seems to address a different character until they all converge both figuratively and physically. The language is not too raunchy nor are the sex scenes, probably a good read for those not too comfortable with extreme erotica.

But I found it a bit confusing at times and a tad stiff to read, perhaps not my favourite style of writing. Worth a read though as an introduction to the style and erotica itself; 3.5/5

Johnny Dahmer, The Devil Went Down

The first sentence had me laughing; the first paragraph had me in stitches. And I loved it. It is rather raunchy and descriptive, probably best not to read if that puts you off.

But for me, the humorous yet hot narrative was perfect. I really look forward to reading more in Darkest Desires; 5/5

A. McEwan, The Inheritance

The use of mythology is great, very unique and creative. However the narrative could get a bit confusing as it jumped between past and present through flashbacks.  Overall it is a good story but there’s something missing for me.

I just didn’t feel into it; 3/5

Jade Mira, Whispers in the Night

This is another poem; a fairly good one at that with fairly tame language. The last paragraph has to be my favourite, it works perfectly and bumped up the score for this poem. I found the last paragraph flawless.

The best was saved for last although there was room for improvement; 4/5

Josephine Ballowe, Hell’s Apple

The opening was humorous, I immediately enjoyed myself. The narrator is funny, interesting and just good fun to read. The narrator was really refreshing with her body image and comments on body sizes, the way she takes everything ridiculously. A bit of a warning to potential readers; things get pretty out of hand sexually.

It was a bit odd but I found myself loving reading every line; 4/5

Ellie Channings, Her Wildest Fantasies

I really like the use of a Jinn, I never thought anyone would use such an obscure creature but it works very well. I like that the Jinn takes on his own character and almost assumes a manipulator role alongside the main character. However at times I found the narrative a tad repetitive, it might’ve gone on a bit long for my taste.

End might not have been as good as the beginning but still worth a read; 4/5

Candy Crum, Demonic Hunger

Perfect opening, there is an air of the supernatural but nothing is defined. I love that Crum seemed to create her own supernatural being with both upsides and downsides; a really unique creature. The metaphors and comparisons used in the narrative were very relatable yet imaginative.

Practically faultless, I’d read it again and again; 5/5

Harley De Luca, Night of Ecstacy

The form is very nice and has a wonderful flow to it especially when read aloud. The poem really builds up as you read, like a night of ecstasy would. Also without the use of many pronouns, the poem is subjective to the reader as it only really uses ‘you’. And I love that, it makes it relatable to your experiences or fantasies.

Just great; 5/5

Amanda R. Browning, Adrienne’s Corruption

This reminded me of Anne Rice in some ways actually, I found it really startling. The writing style is fairly easy to understand but sophisticated. The whole world created is very interesting, especially the use of Hades. There is also a gentle tone to the language even when characters are getting hot and heavy.

Definitely recommendable and worth a read especially if you enjoy revelling in darkness as the characters do; 5/5

Roxanne Rhoads, The Vampire’s Master

A piece which opens with a curious statement that really draws you in. The humour is great, put in all the right places. The writing may not be sophisticated but there is a wonderful unique quality to it I found myself enjoying.

Definitely not for the faint hearted though; 4/5  

Carly Wallace, Bella Morte

The structure is very good, creates a steady flow when reading. There’s an interesting balance between the mechanical and human creating a kinky atmosphere that is never quite defined.

Although I didn’t like it as much as Wallace’s opening piece, I’d still recommend it; 4/5

Scarlet Becker, Nocturne

I liked that this started with a poem; it really set the mood for the rest of the story. The writing is fairly good and interesting to read, there is no beating around the bush.

The story may go on a bit but my interest was never truly lost; 3.5/5

Jade Mira, Dominating Factors

A very fascinating piece that works really well with the other stories, I felt like it flowed just right with the anthology. I would definitely recommend it.

Attention-grabbing and well-written; 4.5/5

Rue Volley, Double Gun Dealer

The title is perfection. The narrative, as one always expects from Rue Volley, was really amusing. The ending was brilliant, the perfect ending. There were some run-on sentences I noticed when reading through a second time but they never drew from the writing quality.

But who can really fault Rue Volley anyway? 5/5

Harley De Luca, Taboo

The final piece was pretty good, definitely not a disappointment compared to those before it. It featured an odd but interesting rhyme scheme that I found myself enjoying. Although it isn’t the best piece in the anthology, it is still worth a read.

A great note to close on; 4/5

Q&A with Katherine S. Knight

Welcome to a Q&A with Katherine S. Knight, creator of the sublime Divine Series!

1.      One of the first things I noticed (and loved) about the Divine series is the use of Greek mythology. What made you choose to use the mythology? Has it always been a point of interest for you?

~ I am a huge mythology fan. The Greek Pantheon is undoubtedly one of the more romantic, sensual, and of course, erotic pantheons in ancient mythology. The Divine Series is an erotic spinoff to one of my more mainstream stories under another pen name. In that story the characters stem from various points of history and mythology and how they all intertwine with each other.

2.      Following on from the previous question, what pushed you to explore the fates of Greek mythology? Why not the gods and goddesses most people know?

~ The three sisters of fate are Goddesses albeit lesser in nature. They may not be one of the original/primary deities in Greek Mythology but they play a substantial role in everyone’s life. They are highly underrated and underutilized. I mean, it must suck to be them and live the life they lead. I love rooting for the underdog and the three sisters of fate (as powerful as they are) are the underdogs to the primary deities. I thought it would be nice to give them exposure for a change and introduce their own personal sub-deities (i.e. Kharma).

3.      Something that interested me in the series is that instead of using the mythology and basing it in ancient Greece, you chose to base the mythology in the present day. Can you explain a bit about that decision, particularly the references to popular culture such as ‘The Matrix’ in Kharma?

~ I chose present day because it’s relevant. How cool would it be to be faced with deities of ancient times in today’s world? How would they be? What are they into? In The Divine Series I took both aspects and combined them into one. While in Olympia (trying not to give too much away here) the lifestyle of the Greek pantheon hasn’t changed much in thousands of years. The change throughout time is only “observed” through their subordinates and various tools for “watching” mortals below – kind of like TV. In “Kharma” we meet one of the subordinates who doesn’t get the pleasure of living in Olympia but rather on earth and is “working” around mortals and mortal lifestyle so she is familiar with pop culture (hence the Matrix reference). Not to mention a sub-swingers/alternate lifestyle nightclub that you had to take some sort of aphrodisiac (possible ambrosia *wink*) to get into the different parts of Olympia where you can experience your wildest fantasy would be AWESOME!!!

4.      When writing the first instalment, Kharma, were you planning to release a second? Or was Destiny something you created whilst you were writing?

~Originally “Kharma” was a standalone story. I wrote it to submit for a dark erotic anthology. It was rejected for not being “dark” enough and looking back on it I kind of agree. There is no blood, violence, or anything dark in nature contained in it. I was ok with that and figured I would self pub it. It went top 10 in Erotic Shorts on Amazon. When my publisher decided to open an erotic imprint I was offered the chance to re-release it under it. The rest is history.

5.      Kharma and Destiny seem to run alongside each other, meaning one book explains the events in the other. So what can we expect when the third instalment comes and the two perspectives finally collide?

~Kharma and Desi will finally meet in epic proportions. You will have to wait to find out. I can tell you it will be EXTREMELY hot and erotic. “Earth Shaking” even.

6.      What kind of perspective will Destiny Unbound be written in?

~ Third person but from Kharma’s side. I think it would be nice to see how sexually liberated she has become. Desi thinks she has “made” Kharma into being the sexual freak she longs for but I have a feeling Kharma is going to surprise her…

7.      Can we expect things to get hotter and heavier when Kharma and Destiny finally meet?

~The Fates say it is definite. I wouldn’t read alone ;)

8.      Talking more about you as a writer, how would you describe your writing process? Are you more of a spur of the moment writer or do you plan out everything you write beforehand?

~That’s a good question. I think I am both. For my short stories I know “where” I want to go with the story but I don’t plan the route to get there. I am more of a pantser with my shorts. For my full length novels I think I plan and maybe even plan too much. (lol)

9.      I know many writers who find inspiration in their hobbies, such as music. Where do you most often draw inspiration from?

~I find my inspiration from my own writing (does that sound self-centred?). I mean, I could be working on one story and somehow I get sucker punched by the muse for a new story or idea. I have to completely stop what I am doing to write that thought down so that I can re-visit it when I am done. Right now I have about 20 ideas to write about and ALL of them started with Kharma.

10.  Another point of inspiration for characters, particularly protagonists, is real life individuals. Would you say any of your attributes or of those close to you pop up in Kharma or Desi’s characters?

~While MANY of my characters are inspired by real people Kharma and Desi do not. Kharma and Desi were the first characters I ever wrote about so they are built from the ground up. After I continued into my writing journey the various entertaining characters in my real life have found their way onto paper.

11.  Just out of curiosity, would you say you prefer Kharma or Desi? Is one better to write than the other?

~Hmmm. If I HAD to choose it would be Desi. The uninhibited, powerful, and sexually free of the two. She loves sex and gets it any way or any style she wants.

12.  Has your writing always been based in erotica like the Divine series or is the series something new for you?

~I started off with erotica and have since branched out into other things. I took a short break from erotica while I worked on my other works but after Kharma and Destiny’s re-release have been encouraged to conclude the trilogy soon.

13.  Will you be exploring similar themes or mythology to the Divine series in any new projects?

~The Tabitha Adventures is a spinoff of the Divine Series starring “Tabitha” from “Kharma” as she goes on her own sexual journeys. Its first short “Feline Frenzy” will be out in August from Hot Ink Press. I am not sure how many shorts will make up the series. My focus is finishing up “Destiny Unbound” and “Private Lessons”.

14.   Can we all hope to see more from you alongside Hot Ink Press?

~Definitely. After “Destiny Unbound” and “Feline Frenzy” you can see “Private Lessons” coming soon from H.I.P. “Private Lessons” will be a full length erotic romance novel (non paranormal).

15.  Lastly when will we be seeing Destiny Unbound? I’ll be hoping for soon!

~Look for “Destiny Unbound” in August 2012 from Hot Ink Press!!!

Thanks a million to Katherine for agreeing to speak to me without even the slightest bit of fuss. And thanks to Hot Ink Press for helping me contact the wonderful author, I look forward to seeing more and more from both! 

Keep an eye out for Destiny Unbound and other Katherine S. Knight titles coming soon fromHot Ink Press!

The Divine Series; A Holy Pantheon of Erotica from Katherine S. Knight

Kharma; Book One

Before I even read the first sentence, I was impressed with Kharma. The cover is absolutely gorgeous. Although by now I hardly expect any less from the Divine Series or the publisher, Hot Ink Press whose other two books also feature covers I could cuddle up to at night and go to sleep very happy. But moving passed aesthetics and mediocre fangirling, the book is an engaging adventure into the Dark Continent of female sexuality and beyond as the protagonist, Kharma is pretty much dropped into the middle of her own sex-starved continent.

One of the best parts of the book–and indeed the series–has to be the setting; the Divine Series brings the Greek Pantheon into the modern world and merges the two. I should probably point out a bias here before I even start because I have a borderline obsessive very professional love for mythology, Greek being one of my favourites. But the mythology is used incredibly well in the book even without my rose-coloured glasses on. Want an example? Through the course of the book, Kharma never defines herself by sexuality–she is never heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual–and instead has an unspoken boundless pansexual quality which is classic to Ancient Greece. Seriously, everyone pretty much slept with anyone in Greek mythology regardless of gender, appearance or species. Kharma’s sexual escapades are range from man to succubus and are rooted in an aspect of mythology so many people ignore–much to my chagrin–and it just makes them all that more effective.

Now for the modern twist on the Greek mythology; Knight based the book not in the Greek Pantheon, not on Mount Olympus but instead in our world–or Atlanta, Georgia but that’s close enough. Thankfully Georgia is actually one of the few states I know a lot about–and have visited–so I definitely felt a connection, a root between the fictitious story and my real life knowledge. Add onto this the references to popular culture and the writing becomes very relatable. You imagine things based on what you have seen. And this works because it takes something old–and maybe overused–and flips the mythology on its head by comparing mystical scenes with The Matrix. Plus references to such movies are easily appreciated by an avid fan.

Damn that never gets old.

The final setting I need to address is the Divine night club–the one part of Atlanta I never got the chance to explore, admittedly. This club almost takes the place of Mount Olympus, it is the centrepiece of the story where the key–hot and heavy–scenes take place. It is separated into levels with Heaven and Hell being the highest and lowest respectively, where you go to engage in some unsavoury behaviour with strangers. These levels set the mood and sexual tone connected with each conquest, Hell gives you the feeling of something raunchy and unbound whereas Heaven is a comfort, safer but all the more pleasurable. Plus the use of drinks and pills when choosing which level to ascend or descend into was another reference I felt giddy over–although unfortunately it wasn’t Morpheus scantily clad offering Kharma the chance to explore the truth of her body.

What else can I say about Kharma? The narrative is casual, something familiar as if you’re actually sitting with the author, listening to her talk to you. The language is soft and never ventures into anything too descript or whip-and-oar raunchy so I’d definitely recommend it if you’re unsure about what kind of erotica you are comfortable reading. Especially as Kharma is exploring these new sexual experiences with the reader, you’re not just suddenly thrown into the unknown. It is a gradual ease deeper and deeper into erotica.

As always required by a rounded review, I do have some constructive critique. The narrative was a bit odd at first; hard to get into based on my tastes but it never drew my focus too far from the story. There were fair few paragraphs describing the three Fates–Kharma’s bosses essentially–which felt a bit out of place. They aren’t featured in the story–except as a possible punishment for Kharma’s exploits–and the paragraphs explaining their behaviours and appearances felt wasted. I’m an avid believer of showing and not telling; I feel the paragraphs could be improved if everything established in them was instead shown through the behaviours of the Fates’, perhaps an anecdote. Also when describing the Fates, Knight mentions they are the three witches in ‘some writer’s’ works and I wonder why she included this–and if she meant Shakespeare. Because the writer was never explicitly mentioned, you don’t really understand how it relates to the Fates. I feel that if Shakespeare had been mentioned it’d be another reference to well-known culture and we would understand that the Fates have a negative side portrayed to the public.

Moving on from my nitpicking, I have to conclude that Kharma is an enjoyable story that I would definitely recommend to a friend, perhaps one taking his or her first steps into erotica. It is engaging, relatable and just plain fun to read. It may run on a little long but it never drags on, boredom never sets in and Kharma just gets better as she goes.

A solid rating: 4/5 

Destiny; Book Two

The second book in the Divine Series is admittedly much shorter than the first, hence the merged review. It is more so a short story elaborating on the ambiguous events in Kharma. As Destiny is not as long as the first book, it could perhaps be read on its own if you’re unsure about the series. Give it a read, see what you think and enjoy the raunchy new protagonist going about her business.

The book opens on Olympus, allowing us to explore the more distinguished positions of the Three Fates. We are given a new aforementioned protagonist, Destiny who is a great contrast to Kharma. Orgies are no stranger to her and her sisters and she isn’t too shy about spying on others during their intimate moments unlike Kharma who shows little interest in doing so–and fears the repercussions if she does. Once again we are treated to the wonderful use of Greek mythology combined with a current narrative and that all important pansexual experiences.  

I would have to critique a few sections of Destiny as I found at times it got a bit repetitive, especially during a few paragraphs describing the Fates. I felt a bit odd reading them, as if I had read such information before. Then I realised I had, the paragraphs pretty much repeated everything that had been established about the Fates in Kharma. I definitely feel like it could have been taken out of Kharma, the Fates could have been left ambiguous in the first novel and instead established in the second. Them being established in both–and in similar ways–just felt a bit unsettling and repetitive as I said.

But all in all, I enjoyed Destiny much as I enjoyed Kharma. I say give the second book a read if you haven’t the time for the longer Kharma and are unsure about the series; it’s just as engaging and leaves enough ambiguity to urge the reader into reading Kharma. I love that the two books run along each other and I can’t wait for the two polar opposite to cover for the final instalment, Destiny Unbound.

Well-deserved although perhaps not as solid as the first: 4/5

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This would be my blog of literature reviews, interviews and rambling titbits (or tidbits if you prefer). Follow it if you like. I mean we have lots in common; I breathe, you breathe, I am somewhat human, you are at least 50% human. It’s like we were separated at birth.