Dirty Ugly Toy

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Her time is over.
Things are looking up.

She’s dirty and ugly.
He’s wicked but handsome. 

Six months to toy with her.
Six months of vacation and a ton of money.

I’ll hurt her beyond repair.
I’ve been through much worse.

She’s difficult to control and doesn’t obey.
I’m done submitting to anyone or anything in this life.

I should hate her.
I should hate him.

The game has changed.
I will win.

Dirty Ugly Toy is a novel that blurs the lines of right and wrong, deals with abuse, contains dubious consent, and adult subject matter. If you are sensitive to violent sexual situations, the book may not be suitable for you. Some parts of this book are not easy to read and are not intended for everyone. However, those that keep an open mind and stick with it will not be disappointed.

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I ordered Dirty Ugly Toy on a whim the other night, because it was recommended by two authors I read and follow on facebook. It was marketed as a dark romance containing dubious consent, a sub-genre that I have had a difficult time finding books that are worth recommending lately.

*** SPOILER ALERT ***

I don’t feel like this book was worthy of the dark romance tag. It is a contemporary romance, with possible dark scenes… another one of those books that I would classify as “grey romance” if there is such a thing.

The beginning of the story definitely sets itself up to be a dark romance. The hero is initially portrayed as a serial killer – he’s not – and it seems the author is setting up a dark psychological thriller / dark romance. However, that quickly fizzles out.

Brax is a devoted son. His mother, who was a drug addict when he was a child, left a deep mark on him. Brax is a successful, billionaire business owner who abducts drug-addicted women from the streets and keeps each for a period of about six months, before returning them to their home city. During those six months, he helps them to detox with medical professionals, uncovers their backstories, the reasons they started using in the first place, and their aspirations for life. He wants to change them for the better.

During this time he also indoctrinates them into his brand of sexual relationship, one between a sadist and a masochist. The heroine who features in this story is a natural masochist however, and she has the emotional upper-hand in their relationship from the beginning. She’s different.

Jessica was addicted to heroine against her will by sexual traffickers and is deep into the throes of addiction until Brax picks her up. However, she is also extremely well educated. Before her kidnapping, Jessica was a trophy wife to a wealthy politician who is currently running for President of the United States. Of course, this husband is cruel, sadistic and very abusive, which is why she never attempted to get back home or contact him after ending up on the streets.

This is why I don’t feel like the dark romance tag is applicable. Brax and Jessica have consensual sex and play in S/m scenes. Jessica’s detox is admittedly against her will, but she is more than thankful after the fact and it is medically supervised the entire time – as safe as something like that can be. Brax saves her from her ex-husband who they inevitably run into and helps take the creep down. Jessica has the ability to leave Brax during their six months together, after she is physically healthy, and has access to a therapist specializing in D/s and S/m relationships the entire time. She also is able to leave Brax after the six months – she is not tied to him.

So how in the heck is this considered to be dark romance or dubious consent?!

I understand that some of the subject matter is dark, and it could be disturbing for people who do not want to read about prostitution, drug addition, etc. But for me, the essence of a dark romance is that the romance is dark. 

The story isn’t terrible although events all fall into place rather conveniently. At the end of the day though, I finished reading this book less than a week ago and still had to reopen my kindle to look up the hero/heroines’ names. So I wouldn’t say it is very memorable or that I would read it again.

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Still Waters

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There’s a phrase: Still waters run deep.

But there’s more to it than that.

Because “still” doesn’t denote peace. Nor calm. Nor happiness.

It’s an illusion. It’s chaos.

The only way to handle chaos is to become it.

That’s what Lucy did. She created stillness out of the chaos tumbling inside her and called the most chaotic motorcycle club in the United States her family.

The Sons of Templar gave her chaos, friendship, family, danger and death.

But she wouldn’t want it any other way.

Then he came. The one who showed her that her handle on chaos was tumultuous at best.

Showed her how to stand still.

And how good it could be.

And how drowning in those waters comes as easy as breathing.

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I’ve been a fan of Malcom’s MC series for a while and have recently gotten into her paranormal books as well, but for some reason, I one-clicked this book way back in March and never got around to reading it.

The hero Keltan is the owner of a hot new security company in L.A. And he is a dream-boat. He’s attractive, muscular, Kiwi (New Zealander), tattooed, well-spoken, kind and a good ol’ country boy.

I have to ask, do guys like this really exist? Guys who say things like “where I come from, a woman doesn’t pay for a thing when a man is around”. Guys who aren’t turned off by the outwardly prickly nature of a wary woman AND aren’t just trying to “get the prize”.

Lucy and Keltan’s love story takes place over approximately two years. Although they fall for each other at first glance, both have issues to work through that they refuse to dump on another person, and Lucy in particular is scarred by her previous relationship. This negated the insta-love eye-rolling on my part, because even though they experienced lust at first sight, they got to know each other before jumping into a serious relationship.

Still Waters is the first book in a new series by Malcom entitled Greenstone Security. It appears to be a series that should be read in order – not all plot points are resolved by the end of this book and it is clear that there will be a “baddie” plot point that arcs across two or more books. However, this is the only book about this particular couple, the rest will focus on different people within Keltan’s security company.

Malcom’s writing style is wordy, filled with lots of flowery phrases that make great teasers but “chunk up” the story too much in my opinion. I do however like that all of her heroines are different from one another, and that Keltan isn’t your typical grunting alpha male. He is just as good of a conversationalist as Lucy!

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xx

 

Scrappy Little Nobody

Anna Kendrick’s Scrappy Little Nobody is the funniest book I have ever read. I went with the audiobook, which Kendrick read herself, because I am now convinced this is the only way to take on comedic or biographic novels. So thankful for this choice! Once again, a shout-out to my co-worker Ewa who recommended this book!

She just gets me 🙂

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Official Blurb:

A collection of humorous autobiographical essays by the Academy Award-nominated actress and star of Up in the Air and Pitch Perfect.

Even before she made a name for herself on the silver screen starring in films like Pitch Perfect, Up in the Air, Twilight, and Into the Woods, Anna Kendrick was unusually small, weird, and “10 percent defiant.”

At the ripe age of thirteen, she had already resolved to “keep the crazy inside my head where it belonged. Forever. But here’s the thing about crazy: It. Wants. Out.” In Scrappy Little Nobody, she invites readers inside her brain, sharing extraordinary and charmingly ordinary stories with candor and winningly wry observations.

With her razor-sharp wit, Anna recounts the absurdities she’s experienced on her way to and from the heart of pop culture as only she can—from her unusual path to the performing arts (Vanilla Ice and baggy neon pants may have played a role) to her double life as a middle-school student who also starred on Broadway to her initial “dating experiments” (including only liking boys who didn’t like her back) to reviewing a binder full of butt doubles to her struggle to live like an adult woman instead of a perpetual “man-child.”

Enter Anna’s world and follow her rise from “scrappy little nobody” to somebody who dazzles on the stage, the screen, and now the page—with an electric, singular voice, at once familiar and surprising, sharp and sweet, funny and serious (well, not that serious).

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In some ways, Anna could be me and in others, she would definitely be my best friend. I love her. I wish I knew her IRL. Speaking of … Anna. Want to move to Canada?!

Things H & A have in common:

  1. We both lust after Tom Hardy
  2. Directionally challenged (both in terms of height and finding our way to places without GPS)
  3. Mostly anti-social peeps who prefer to be at home
  4. Neither of us can sail
  5. Nerds
  6. List-makers
  7. Awkward and riddled with self-doubt

One of the things that struck me the most about this book is that Anna is well-spoken and SMART! Not that I thought she wasn’t, but the more serious portions of her book are much deeper than I was prepared for and she appears markedly more self-possessed, driven and self-aware than I am myself.

I was also very surprised by the fact that she was still dirt-poor and living with roommates after her Oscar-nom for her role in Up in the Air. Listening to her describe this period in her life, when she was barely getting by but everyone around her spoke about her like she’d made it big, was definitely an eye-opener.

In Scrappy Little Nobody, Anna describes herself as a “Man-Child” who is perpetually three months away from maturing enough to take care of “shit”. I KNEW I couldn’t be the only one who stopped emotionally developing at a much younger age! She and I are experts at rationalizing ANYTHING. Make the bed? Why make the bed when you are just going to mess it all up again tonight? Do homework? Isn’t the point of going to school to learn? I can learn without regurgitating it all back to the Teach, who assuredly, most know this stuff already. So I’ll just skip that step thank you very much.

I have OCD so if I start something, it has to be done PERFECTLY or I will drive myself and anyone around me cray. It’s so much easier to just not start a project at all.

Scrappy Little Nobody doesn’t feel like a book. It feels like a conversation, albeit one where the listener is very good at listening and Anna is constantly “on”. Six hours have never passed so quickly and I am seriously contemplating just re-starting her book over again, because I am not ready for it to be over. It’s been 24 hours since I finished listening and I am still missing Anna like a friend who popped in for a short visit and was off again.

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xx

 

Alta Hensley

This is my second post in a recent series highlighting erotica authors who write about Daddy/lg relationships, as requested privately by one of my readers.

Note: For those who aren’t aware, Daddy/lg relationships take place between two adult partners. Most often the male takes a paternalistic, authoritarian role and the female partner takes a more submissive, childlike personality, although the gender roles can be switched or play can occur between same sex couples. There is definitely no child abuse taking place since all the parties are the legal age of consent.

The “little” can take on a variety of ages from very young to teen. Age play can be utilized in the bedroom, in a relationship but outside of the bedroom, for scenes only or full-time. The Daddies or Mommies tend to have high protective and controlling instincts, similar to a Dom who wants a full-time sub/slave. The “little” tends to seek this role to remove themself from the stresses of adulthood and turn over control to another for a period of time. It is essentially a power exchange, similar to Doms/subs but acted out differently. 


Alta Hensley write erotic romance which heavily feature spanking and sex. Some – though not all – of her books are based on Daddy/lg relationships. I have read a few of Hensley’s novels and novellas and would rate them on average 3/5 … not the highest rating but I haven’t yet found any daddy/lg authors that I would rate more highly. Her books would probably be more appealing though to someone who is into this kink.

Here a few select few with synopses from Goodreads 🙂

A standalone novel that re-imagines gender roles in a futuristic society.

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At the age of eighteen, all women who cannot afford a dowry for marriage must be placed in a facility in the hopes of being adopted by an affluent husband.

To maintain order, all women go through a mental reassignment reverting their minds to six- year-old girls—progenies. By keeping the women innocent in all ways before marriage, they can later function as a wife and mother more efficiently. The progenies are sheltered, nurtured, babied, and even disciplined by their assigned poppas. The progenies have no baggage, no hardship, no broken hearts. There are no dark secrets in their lives, no torrid affairs, and no pain. Their husband is buying the purest gem there is. He adopts for marriage so his wife is flawless. Life has not chipped away at her.

But what happens when the mental reassignment doesn’t work? This is what happens to Juniper Ambrose… she’s not truly the little girl she should be. She has no choice but to play the twisted game of pretend, hoping no one, especially her poppa, finds out. Secrets, lies, pretending—this is the world the progeny, and her poppa, have been thrown into.

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The Ashby Chateau Series

This series is an alternate take on historical romance. A wealthy gentleman has set up a boarding school for “littles” who are sent there to be trained into the type of bride their future husband/daddy is looking for.

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Book 1

From Goodreads:

Philip Hartley owns an elite finishing school; a hidden gem that focuses on the sexual submission and complete discipline of young ladies. Behavior, expectations, and beliefs are quite different there. It’s a finishing school to help a woman find that inner little girl which once was lost. A private school that requires its pupils to surrender their bodies, their minds, and their souls to their betrothed.

When Henrietta Waters’ estranged uncle decides it is best for her to attend the Ashby Chateau and become betrothed to a proper husband, the young woman has no choice but to comply. The recent death of her father has left her with very little options.

But can Etta fully surrender in ways she has never imagined? Can she allow a nanny to take care—fully take care—of her every need? Can she submit to discipline and sexual training as the purity of her inner child blends with the fire of her sexual desires? And is it possible for her to truly become the little love that Headmaster Philip Hartley demands?

Publisher’s Note: Enrolling Little Etta is a Victorian erotic romance that focuses on ageplay, anal play, spankings, and graphic sex. If a spicy Victorian story is not your cup of tea, then please do not take a sip.

 

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Book 2

From Goodreads:

When street urchin Georgiana Hayes meets a mysterious gentleman who offers her a warm meal and a chance to get warm again, she cannot resist.

The man who has rescued her from the cold is, in fact, Mr. Philip Hartley; headmaster of the Ashby Chateau – a finishing school, and a place where young ladies can learn to submit and rediscover their inner ‘little’ selves. He is looking for a new nanny, and is quick to offer the position to Georgiana.

Georgiana accepts gratefully, and she instantly becomes The Nanny.

Unfortunately, she soon realizes that she is not really cut out for the role of disciplinarian. If anything, she finds herself beginning to envy the girls under her care, and wishes that she, too, could experience what it would be like to be little; to be cherished, cared for, and loved.

Theodore Elliott, a well-established businessman, is seeking a wife, and has craved the special love and affection of a ‘little’ for as long as he can remember. The moment he sets eyes on Nanny Giana, he knows without a doubt that she is the one he has been searching for. No other little at the school can compare to the dark-haired beauty.

Can Theo convince the headmaster to allow Giana to resign from her position as governess and enroll in the Ashby Chateau as a little? More importantly, is Giana willing to take that step for a man she barely knows… but is intrigued by? Can she surrender herself physically, emotionally and sexually in order to become what Theo desires above all else: his little Gia?

From the authors of the best-selling ‘Enrolling Little Etta’, this next book in the Ashby Chateau series also contains elements of age-play, anal play, spanking, and graphic sex. While ‘The Nanny’ does feature some characters and settings from the first book, it should be noted that it can be read as a standalone.

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I hope this blog post is informative! I have come across a couple more author who write on this theme and I will periodically review their books here.

xx

The Girl on the Train (Paula Hawkins)

The Girl on the Train

EVERY DAY THE SAME
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

UNTIL TODAY
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

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The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins has been one of the hottest book club picks around for a couple of years now. It is a thriller written from the points of view of three complicated, troubled women: Anna, Megan, and Rachel (the main character).

I picked this book to read because it has been so popular for such a long time, and I like to keep at least sorta-up on to date on these types of books, considering that I work as a library clerk. It makes it easier to chat with customers about different types of books, and make recommendations if I am well-read in more genres that just my favourite one or two. And lately, I’ve just been in a bit of a book rut so it was time to read a few outside of romance / erotica!

I liked the pacing of The Girl on the Train. It is an easy read that I got through in two sittings. I felt that the outcome of the novel was hidden for most of the novel, although I did suspect the killer’s identity several chapters before Rachel did.

One of things that I appreciated was the author’s decision to not make any particular characters the “good guys”. Every single character from the Rachel to the police officers and the “red-haired man in the train station” were flawed people, everyone with something to hide, to prove, to overcome. It helped the story to stay grounded in my opinion and stopped me from assuming the character’s POV as my own. I didn’t particularly cheer for any one or root against the other.

Overall, I did find this book to be entertaining but I am not sure why it received as much attention as it did. I can definitely name several books along this line that I would recommend much more strongly to another reader, The House Between Tides for one. This story was good, I just didn’t find it to be particularly memorable.

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Deepwater Horizon (2016)

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Synopsis from IMDB:

On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explodes in the Gulf of Mexico, igniting a massive fireball that kills several crew members. Chief electronics technician Mike Williams (Mark Wahlberg) and his colleagues find themselves fighting for survival as the heat and the flames become stifling and overwhelming. Banding together, the co-workers must use their wits to make it out alive amid all the chaos.

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I was expecting Deepwater Horizon to be an intense movie. The events happened not that long ago and I remember seeing the trailer in the movie theatre and turning to my friend and saying “it’s too soon”. Well, it was definitely intense! More so than I expected, that’s for sure.

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I don’t know if it’s ever been mentioned on this blog but I am a huge environmentalist. I studied it at University and got my undergraduate degree in that field. So when this tragedy happened most of my focus was on the pollution and the devastation to the ecological systems that were affected in the Gulf of Mexico and up the coast line of the United States.

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The movie didn’t actually touch upon this at all though. It starts with the crew arriving on Deepwater Horizon and takes place all on the same day. The plot of the movie takes you through the different key players who were on the scene and the things that failed. A large part of the movie was the surviving crew trying to stabilize the rig by cutting off the oil that was fuelling the fires, and then getting the hell off and into rescue boats.

As intense as I expected the movie to be, it was so much more so. I can’t stress enough how well portrayed the events were of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. It is a high-action movie with a lot of big name stars, including Kate Hudson, Kurt Russell, and Mark Wahlberg.

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Amy Schumer’s The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo

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The Emmy Award-winning comedian, actress, writer, and star of Inside Amy Schumer and the acclaimed film Trainwreck has taken the entertainment world by storm with her winning blend of smart, satirical humor. Now, Amy Schumer has written a refreshingly candid and uproariously funny collection of (extremely) personal and observational essays.

In The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, Amy mines her past for stories about her teenage years, her family, relationships, and sex and shares the experiences that have shaped who she is – a woman with the courage to bare her soul to stand up for what she believes in, all while making us laugh.

Ranging from the raucous to the romantic, the heartfelt to the harrowing, this highly entertaining and universally appealing collection is the literary equivalent of a night out with your best friends – an unforgettable and fun adventure that you wish could last forever. Whether she’s experiencing lust-at-first-sight while in the airport security line, sharing her own views on love and marriage, admitting to being an introvert, or discovering her cross-fit instructor’s secret bad habit, Amy Schumer proves to be a bighearted, brave, and thoughtful storyteller that will leave you nodding your head in recognition, laughing out loud, and sobbing uncontrollably – but only because it’s over.

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Normally I don’t go for books like this – memoirs and anecdotal stories – but Amy Schumer’s book came highly recommended from a friend. She listened to the audiobook, which is read by Amy herself, and was laughing her head off beside me at work. Humour is communicated so much more honestly via conversation than as words on a page, so with books like this, I really feel that the only way to take it in is via an audiobook. Something funny sounded great after the emotional story ( The Light Between Oceans ) that I listened to last, and the decision-making process stopped there!

The girl with the lower back tattoo is at turns witty, insightful, educational and of course, laugh out loud funny. I wasn’t too sure what the book would be about. It’s about Amy and her life of course, but she clearly states at the beginning that this is not her autobiography because she has decades of life still to live. The woman is only in her 30s after all. I think that in the end it is a collection of stories about Amy but I agree that I wouldn’t call it an autobiography. The timeline jumps around, but you get a sense of her childhood and upbringing, her early years struggling to become a comedian who actually gets paid for her stand-up, and where she is today after the global success of Trainwreck.

My friend was correct in pointing out that this was one of those rare books that is actually funny. I work as a librarian and humourous books are the hardest type to help a person find because – in my opinion – humour doesn’t translate as well on page as it does in conversation. So, unsurprisingly, Schumer’s stories were less funny than I expected and more along the lines of heartfelt stories and sarcastic asides. That isn’t to say that this book isn’t funny though, it is and I particularly liked the story of her lower back tattoo. But you get to see who the real person is behind the pen and this was charming.

I didn’t not know very much about Amy before I started this book. I knew she was a comic, and she was that girl in Trainwreck. But I didn’t know that she had written the movie. I didn’t know that she was a successful comic before the movie was ever filmed, or that she had written for magazines.  I certainly did not know about her undying love affair for the island of Manhattan.

Some of the topics that Amy discusses throughout this novel are her very uncharitable reasons for volunteering at a camp for disabled children and adults one summer as a preteen, balancing a type one introvert personality with a career that demands you give everything to everyone. She also discusses how the future and ideology of an entire gender of our species been placed on her by journalists with questions such as how do you think the success of your movie shape the future of Hollywood for other women. As she points out “Um, hello?! I am just one woman. Not all women”. And women’s place in Hollywood won’t change until people stop asking questions like this.

Two of the most difficult portions to listen to are the ones surrounding her father’s MS and the two women who were shot and killed at a showing of her movie in Lafayette. When something like that happens I’ve always thought of course the actors and directors and producers, anyone associated with creating the attraction, must feel terrible to be attached to the tragedy, even though they are in no way responsible for it. But to hear how difficult it was for Amy, in the following weeks, her genuine desire to reach out to those families, and the fact that she carries the pictures of the two women who were killed makes her much more human. I also never knew that she was so involved in efforts across the United States to create legislation that would prevent mentally ill people with criminal records from accessing firearms.

The girl with the lower back tattoo is not a typical biography. It is funny and heartwarming and at times brought a couple tears to my eyes. It definitely challenged my preconceptions of who this woman was and is and I have a lot more respect for her now. I can also relate to Amy on a personal level. I definitely recommend this book, specifically the audiobook, because humour is just communicated so much more freely through this medium.

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xx