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Second novel by indie author E L Croucher. Horned Winged Blessed

 Indie authors need readers support, and if youre a lover of dystopian type fiction this may be for you. Its out now at £3.99 and also available on KU.

Horned Winged Blessed

Horned Winged Blessed by [Croucher, E L]

Horned Winged Blessed opens in a post-world war three world,with an all-female, all-wiccan government in charge. They are known as theSilver Party, and have led Broken Britain through the war. Now, they are pavingthe way to a utopia in which hate crime and sexual assault are things of thepast.

One of their biggest and most profound laws is the law of 3×3. Three genders,and three sexual orientations. Men are now called Horned ones. Women are called Winged ones. Lastly, every other gender is grouped together as the Blessed ones.
The story follows the protagonist Joan Wood’s journey tounderstand the issues within this society and eventually finds her taking itdown. She is the daughter of the founder that started the Silver Party, and shestarts the novel under the illusion that this is indeed a utopia. However,after various attacks on her home from the rebel party the Grounded, as well asvarious friends warning her that life isn’t a rose-tinted as she thinks, she becomes aware that the Silver Party, and her mother, have indeed taken things too far, and many of the non-binary folk in society feel oppressed and labelled.
In the later half of the book, Joan actually finds her way to the rebel faction, and joins them in their aim to take down her mother and bring a true version of gender equality and LGBT liberation – rather than the erroneous attempts at such by her mother.The book ends with a showdown between her and her mother, eventually with her prevailing to crack her way through the Silver Party, with the help of her Grounded comrades.

Dirty Letters, Vi Keeland, Penelope Ward

Dirty Letters, Vi Keeland, Penelope Ward

Dirty Letters by [Keeland, Vi, Ward, Penelope]

Genre: General Fiction (Adult) , Romance

I love the ***** trope, but was wary as I’ve only read one other from this duo and it wasn’t a great fit for me but…. I loved this! So now I need to check more of their works. ( stars because I found this bit out from another review but its not in the description, don’t want to spoil it for those who’d rather not know)

What can I say about this? Well, it made me laugh so much ( Furbys! Happy meals! You’ll never see them in the same way again..) the characters were terrific.
Griffin, he’s just wonderful. Sensitive and caring, but life has changed him and he’s always been resentful of how Luca just stopped writing to him out of the blue, didn’t answer his letters, just dropped him like a brick. In a drunken rant he writes once more, eight years after his last letter, and what he gets back guts him.
Luca didn’t just drop him like a hot potato but went through a really bad trauma. He feels bad now about his drunken rant, writes back apologising, and the letters start again. But they are older now, each are curious about the other and the letters become decidedly sexy – and funny – see Furbys!!

Luca is curious about what Griffin looks like now, wants to exchange photos but he wants to keep the secrecy for a bit longer. Knowing more about Luca and her issues now he knows them, he’s scared she’ll find it hard to accept him as he is now….but curiosity eh? Gets them both…..

The there’s Doc, Luca’s friend-therapist-honorary granddad. He’s retired but sees Luca and has really helped her. Now its taking all of his skills and knowledge to push her that bit further, he knows she’s ready, she needs this if she’s to really get the most from her life. Its tough though, her fears are very real, the panic attacks crippling, and the journey through them to her future takes in the countryside, birds (Doc is a real bird-watching fan) and Griffin. He needs to adapt too, his life and Luca’s are at opposite ends, not just of the country but of life, and they both need to compromise.

Its a wonderful story, in tears one moment from laughing and the next from sadness. Luca’s issues were handled with sensitivity and explained really well, and Griffin, I understood exactly why he was tired of the life he was leading. I loved the story and will happily reread sometime.

Stars: Five, fabulous read full of emotion

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

 

Summary

 
She had yet to meet him but had never forgotten the British boy who’d warmed her heart.

As childhood pen pals, Griffin Quinn and Luca Vinetti couldn’t have been more different. Over the years, through hundreds of letters, they became best friends, sharing their deepest, darkest secrets.

Until one day it ended.

Griffin never understood why Luca disappeared. She was special. She knew the real him like no one else. He writes her a drunken letter, an angry one, never expecting her to write back.

Before they know it, they’re right where they left off. This time with heat.

But as playing catch-up goes from fun to flirty to downright dirty, Luca wants more. She wants Griffin in the flesh. That’s where it gets risky. Because when they meet, the mystery will be over. And once they really get to know each other, there’ll be no going back.

EXCERPT: Dirty Letters by Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward

The small dining room table had a pile of mail. I’d had Dad’s mail forwarded to my house, so mostly it was just catalogs and junk. Once a month, Mrs. Cascio sent me everything that arrived, even though I’d told her it wasn’t necessary. I mindlessly fingered through the pile, not expecting to see anything worth keeping. But I stopped at an envelope addressed to me—well, not me, but Luca Ryan. That was a name I hadn’t heard in a long time. In second grade, my teacher, Mrs. Ryan, started a pen pal writing program with a small town in England. We weren’t allowed to use our real last names for safety reasons, so the entire class used her last name—hence I was Luca Ryan. I checked out the return address for the sender’s name.

G. Quinn

Wow, really? It couldn’t be.

I squinted at the postmark. It was from a PO box in California, not England, but I didn’t know any other Quinn other than Griffin. And the handwriting did look pretty familiar. But it had been close to eight years since we’d exchanged letters. Why would he write now? Curious, I ripped it open and scanned right to the bottom of the letter for the name. Sure enough, it was from Griffin. I started at the beginning.

Dear Luca,

Do you like scotch? I remember you said you didn’t like the taste of beer. But we never did get around to comparing our taste in hard liquor. Why is that, you might ask? Let me remind you—because you stopped answering my letters eight damn years ago. I wanted to let you know, I’m still pissed off about that. My mum used to say I hold grudges. But I prefer to think of it as I remember the facts. And the fact of the matter is, you suck. There, I’ve said it. I’ve been holding that shit in for a long time. Don’t get me wrong—I’m not obsessive or anything. I don’t sit in my house thinking about you all day long. In fact, there have been months that go by when thoughts of you don’t even enter my brain. But then some random thing will pop into my head out of the blue. Like I’ll see some kid in a pram eating black licorice, and I’ll think of you. Side note—I’ve tried it again as an adult, and I still think it tastes like the bottom of my shoe, so perhaps it’s that you just have no taste. You probably don’t even like scotch. Anyway, I’m sure this letter won’t find its way to you. Or if by some miracle it does, you won’t answer. But if you’re reading this, you should know two things.

1. The Macallan 1926 is worth the extra cash. Goes down smooth.

2. You SUCK.

Later, traitor, Griffin

What in the hell?

 
Author Biographies
 

Vi Keeland is a #1 New York Times, #1 Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author. With millions of books sold, her titles have appeared on more than one hundred bestseller lists and are currently translated into twenty-six languages. She resides in New York with her husband and their three children, where she is living out her own happily ever after with the boy she met at age six.

 

Penelope Ward is a New York TimesUSA Today, and #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling author of more than twenty novels. A former television news anchor, Penelope has sold more than two million books and has appeared on the New York Times bestseller list twenty-one times. She resides in Rhode Island with her husband, son, and beautiful daughter with autism.

 

Together, Vi and Penelope are the authors of Dirty LettersHate Notes, and the Rush Series. For more information about them, visit www.vikeeland.com and www.penelopewardauthor.com.

Social Media Links

Vi Keeland Website: https://www.vikeeland.com

Vi Keeland Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorViKeeland

Vi Keeland Twitter: https://twitter.com/vikeeland 

Penelope Ward Website: https://penelopewardauthor.com

Penelope Ward Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/penelopewardauthor

Penelope Ward Twitter: https://www.facebook.com/penelopewardauthor

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Ancient Egyptian Myths, Gods and Pharoahs, Creation and the Afterlife. Catherine Chambers

Ancient Egyptian Myths, Gods and Pharoahs, Creation and the Afterlife. Catherine Chambers

Genre: Non fiction (Adult), History

The pyramids….who hasn’t been fascinated in their creation, the how and why Egyptians came to create them. They were incredibly elaborate decoratively, but the construction uses mathematical calculations we thought were discovered in the 1600s. Clearly the Egyptians were centuries ahead of modern day man in that way.
The Gods and Goddesses, the myths and legends that grew up around them fascinated me as a child and reading this wonderful book brought back much of that magic. Its a very dense read, Catherine fully explores all elements surrounding the Gods, the changing names, how they came about and why. It’s illustrated too with wonderful photos of surviving artifacts. It amazes me that we can still have things thousands of years old, I like to imagine someone carving one of these little objects, putting their heart and beliefs into it, and that carries through to today even though the creator is long gone.

Its a wonderful read but I have it on PC as an epub read, and for me that’s hard going, and the reason its taken so long to read. Its very full of information that can’t jst be skimmed but needs time to absorb and appreciate, so I’ve been reading a little every now and then, mulling over the content when not reading. My youngest grandson has just being learning about Egyptian history and we’d recently talked over some of the things I found in this book. It was good to have a wider and more complete source than an 8 yr old primary school text 🙂
I think that as with most non-fiction books it would be better in physical form. I love my kindle but undoubtedly some books need to be “old school” print to get the best from them. If I had this book as a physical one I’m sure I’d be dipping in and out of it constantly.
Even though this society is thousands of years past its still a fascination for so many of us, and this book really fleshes out so many of the myths I know on the periphery, and goes into detailed information as to how and why they may have originated.

Stars: Five, a fabulous read, but would be best on physical book form.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Room to Breathe, Liz Talley

Room to Breathe, Liz Talley

Room to Breathe by [Talley, Liz]

Genre: General fiction (Adult), Romance

I really enjoyed this. Its good to read romance from someone older than twenties. Its just a few little niggles that let it down for me, stopped it being five star, things like Ellery pretending to be her mum in emails, Clay, the notorious man whore, wanting more, things that didn’t really feel true to character. Overall though its a great read.

I loved Daphne, pregnant at 16 she married Rex and made the best of things. They’re both devoted to their daughter but over the years Daphne and Rex grew apart, and then divorced. Daphne’s career has grown and daughter Ellery works as her PA, having failed to get the internship she’d set her heart on.
Its easy to see why Ellery is selfish, both Daphne and Rex have done everything for her since she was tiny, indulged her, let her think the world revolved around her and her wants. She’s now 23 and they’re still doing it, and Ellery just assumes they should, that they’ll continue to pay her rent, pay her credits cards…but of course outside mum and dad the world is harsh, Ellery isn’t central. I really disliked her, and understood why Gage saw her as spoiled princess type.
Ellery doesn’t have many true friends, maybe her selfishness bleeds through and that’s why. That may also be why she pretended to be her mother in that strange pen pal relationship. TBH I found that part of the story odd, didn’t really fit as I never really understood why she did it, why she continued. It was an integral part of how things developed though so I guess I’ll have to suck it up 😉 Ellery has a fiance though, Josh, who’s in med school, and whom she lives with. We don’t really see much of him though, he’s always studying and though I felt for Ellery when she tried to carve time for them as a couple and got rebuffed, I felt she still saw things only in terms of how they affect her.
When Ellery gets wind of the issue with Clay and her mother she goes berserk. She was a first class bitch, and I do so love it when characters are like that. It creates drama in spades and I love that. Its not like she wants Clay anymore, she’s still sore from him dropping her after just a couple of dates, and of course she has Josh. Its more that like so many spoiled kids she sees her mum as always being mum, doesn’t see her as a person in her own right. If mum has to date it should be someone age appropriate, someone Ellery can approve of.
Rex the Ex, ( nice term that!) was a typical jerk man of a certain type, happy when Daphne was running the business with him, so long as she kept in the background and let him take the success, he couldn’t deal when she got her own successful career. He was obnoxious – in the best way of course. Good books need someone like him as a foil, offsets all the good.
Then there’s Evan, he was just wonderful, and his nephew Gage was also. Loved those two, and the whole vineyard experience.

Stars: Four, Its a fun read, fabulous characters, some terrific drama, some great surprises, and a satisfying ending.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

The Ex-Girlfriend, Nicola Moriarty

The Ex-Girlfriend, Nicola Moriarty

The Ex-Girlfriend: The gripping and twisty psychological suspense by [Moriarty, Nicola]

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance

Gah, women’s fiction: c’mon publishers, this category has no place in 2019. Men read romance, men write romance, stop trying to alienate a potential reader base.

Anyway, I found this book kind of slow at the start, and felt it was a little predictable. I was pretty sure what was going on and almost gave up.
Glad I didn’t though, once things picked up they rocketed along, with surprises way beyond what I thought would happen. Its totally absorbing, and so much more than I first thought, so although I found that first 30% a bit meh, a little obvious as to what was going on, once past that and I was gobsmacked, the story went way beyond what I’d thought.
What seemed like a simple story turned into a deliciously complex one full of unexpected events and long planned motivations.
The events had me mentally screaming “nooo….don’t” and I was so astonished at how seemingly unconnected events finally came together.
Its a shortish review for me, but its impossible to say more without giving away important events, suffice to say its a story that had me gripped once past that slow start.

Stars: four, it would be five but for that slow start. Still, for others its a five as it is so its perfect for them.
Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Tangled Up In Christmas, Lisa Renee Jones

Tangled Up In Christmas, Lisa Renee Jones

Tangled Up In Christmas (Texas Heat Book 2) by [Jones, Lisa Renee]

Genre: General fiction (Adult), Romance

Well, having read several of Lisa’s books now this one caught me out. I’m used to her hot and sensual, suspenseful and edgy reads, and this one – well it felt like Lisa Renee Jones does Mills and Boon. It was a fun read and I enjoyed it but I didn’t love it.
Maybe if I’d read the previous book I’d have got more from it, although they are stand alone reads. I might try the truth about cowboys and see.

Roarke, wow, what a man, hot and sensual he drips sex with every word. And horses, he helps horses, so how could I not love the guy. Yet I didn’t feel his excuse for not coming after Hannah was really enough. I also wasn’t convinced by her running away – did she love the guy or not? That though does get a proper and plausible explanation later in the story.
Of course poor Hannah is still in Hate Roarke mode, and yet deep down she still harbours feelings for him, something that’s obvious to the whole town, and which Roarke makes full use of. They end up having some steamy encounters, so maybe its M&B racy version 🙂 I did like that there was lots going on in the novel, not just Hannah and Roarke, but little side plots that added to the enjoyment for me.

Its a fun read, easy to follow, but although there was a lot going on it lacked real depth for me. I felt the past issues were glossed over too easily, especially with regard to her parents. I’m not sure I could be that forgiving.

Stars: Three and a half, more than just a simple Good read, but not the drama I look forward to in a LRJ novel that makes for four and fives.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

A Lie for a Lie, All In Book 1, Helena Hunting

A Lie for a Lie, All In Book 1, Helena Hunting

A Lie for a Lie (All In Book 1) by [Hunting, Helena]

Genre: General Fiction ( Adult), Romance

I first found Helena’s book from the fabulous Clipped wings, still my favourite and just downloaded again for a reread. I’ve enjoyed others from her but also read some that didn’t hit the spot. This one kind of falls in the middle.

I loved RJ, and understood exactly why he was so cagey about revealing who he was. Having had a stalker issue, he’s bound to be cautious and with fame bringing out all sorts of crazy its sensible to take care. Of course that led to lots of issues further down the line, but he never outright lied, just didn’t tell all and I thought once she knew the truth Lainey was a bit harsh to him over that.
I understood her issues, she’d been through a huge trauma. As a parent myself understood where her parents were coming from too, but of course at 25 no-one wants to still be having to run decisions by parents, and it was well past time for them to accept that.
When something happens in the novel I had a feeling it would lead to….and I was right. TBH I’m getting a little tired of that trope, its becoming too predictable. Maybe I’m just choosing wrong books though 😉 It then takes up a large part of the novel naturally, and becomes the focus of whether they can make it as a couple or not. I understood the characters, why they acted as they did, I enjoyed the story but wasn’t glued to it, and it won’t be a re-reader for me.

Stars: Three, an easy, relaxing read, but a little short on plot and drama for me.

Arc via Netgalley

Lies Lies Lies, Adele Parks

Lies Lies Lies, Adele Parks

Lies Lies Lies: The Number One Sunday Times bestselling new domestic thriller from Adele Parks by [Parks, Adele]

Genre: ,Women’s Fiction, Romance

Bah, Humbug. Women’s Fiction – that infuriates me. Why do we insist on having such an outdated category?
Well, that’s out of the way so on to the book…I loved it, though at the start I thought it was going to be just meh!

Daisy and Simon seem top have the perfect marriage, adore each other and their talented daughter Millie, both have good jobs, a nice home and long time friends that lead to a good social life. Then we see a few cracks appear, the friends have a few issues, Daisy carries a grudge against one of her college friends, kept it up for the last 15 years even though the parties have all moved on. Lucy had an affair with Daisy’s sisters husband, she’s now married to him and they have a child, and Daisy’s sister is also happily married but for Daisy its an unforgivable breach. They all still meet, having friends in common but Daisy avoids Lucy as much as she can. For me this characterises Lucy’s nature, she has strict codes of right and wrong, and is incredibly loyal. This loyalty spreads to Simon when he drinks too much, he’s a functioning alcoholic and for the most part is more or less in control, always the life of the party, always a fun guy and he adores Daisy and Millie. So much so that he thinks they should have another child. It took a while for them to have Millie though, and they’re older and seek medical help. After that his alcoholism really takes over his life and Daisy just doesn’t know what to do. I really began to dislike Simon here even though I felt sorry for him. I sympathised with Daisy, been there, done that and its tough. You love someone but don’t necessarily like what they do.
Gradually the issues get worse, until things go horribly wrong. Their lives all change irrevocably, and the secrets that have been stacking up increase, there are outright lies and untold ones, lies of omission. I so felt for everyone, and the people I least expected to help stepped up, showing the power of true friends.
You need to suspend believe a little to really get into the story, when the secrets and lies get revealed and the consequences come out, but then as they saying goes, Truth can be stranger than fiction, so who knows?

A gripping read, full of unexpected events and turns, and a fabulous story. The characters felt very real though in my head, their actions very true to form. I guess I thought of them very much as “Boden Catalogue” families. UK readers will understand that, the Middle classes, university, property owning families. I’m making that point as a fact not a criticism, its just a type of family, as real as the landed gentry type and the families that never get beyond renting homes, where a stable job is an aspiration. Adele herself makes the point that Simon isn’t the typical prisoner, and sadly she’s right in that some people seem almost destined for a life or crime. The prison section, prison life, how easy it is to become accepting, institutionalised, how the hierarchy of people like the Dales who run the prisoners and some of the guards, even though they are prisoners themselves was very realistic. She’s celalry researched the prison rules for visitors etc, I learned a lot I didn’t know about visiting rules. I find when authors do that research it leads to a much better reading experience for me, that I can enjoy the realism of the events more, feeling that this is the way life, and in this case prison life, works.

Stars: Five, a brilliant read, very emotional, very well put together, turning my feelings about characters completely upside down. The ending – a little hard to believe but for me it was what I wanted so I’m happy even if its a little stretching credulity.

Arc via Netgalley

Built to Last, Hidden Hearts Book 1, Kate McBrien

Built to Last, Hidden Hearts Book 1, Kate McBrien

Built to Last (Hidden Hearts Book 1) by [McBrien, Kate ]

Genre: Romance

I loved the Indigo Trilogy, and this is a spin off of characters from that, but you don’t need to read it to follow this story, its a stand alone read.

I remember Althea and Max from the Indigo books but only vaguely, and they felt very much like new characters for me.
I loved Max, taciturn, loving but troubled family and wanting to further his career in the direction he originally intended. That was on track til an awful betrayal by an ex led to him meeting Justin, and becoming involved with his band. That’s been good, but now he wants to move forward in his early ambitions, take his career that way. He’s got an opportunity, needs the job to help his struggling parents and pay for his sisters rehab treatment, and is determined to give this chance his best shot. And then Althea gets landed on him as an independent voice about the bands he’s seeing.
Althea. One part of me loves her, she’s so open, so friendly, so helpful. There’s a section where Max sings a song from Annie to her and TBH I hate that show, and Althea epitomises just why. At times she’s relentless. Relentlessly cheerful, optimistic, full of help and goodwill, and I just want to say “doesn’t Anything get you down?”
Of course it does, she just hides it well. She’s got her own family issues and reasons for living on the island, and there’s a lot more than this light, casual persona she shows.
I loved Kiki, Althea’s stepsister – I love nasty characters, and I wish we’d seen more of her….

Althea and Max don’t hit it off too well, and yet there’s a very clear feeling of attraction between them that neither wants to admit. Thrown together though for a week, looking at bands, talking and assessing them they each see that their first impressions weren’t everything, and of course that attraction is still lurking…..Slowly, as they get to know each other more their feelings change.
Its a fun read, much lighter than the Indigo books, no suspense and supernatural angle, just a straight forward romance, but with plenty of backstory and struggles to keep it interesting.
I wasn’t entirely convinced of Max and Althea in love, that they could get past their issues in the short time they were together, but loved that the breakup part wasn’t over quickly, but each really needed to reflect, to work towards the ending. I love where characters have to really work for the happy ending. That felt more real than the way they got together so quickly, where casual sex became more so swiftly, from just one night, just this week to…..For me that was just a little too slick. I can believe in insta-love so to speak, just didn’t really feel it here, they were such different characters in all ways.

Finally got round to listening to the Grateful Dead too… I enjoyed it a bit but its not really music for me, sorry Althea 😉

Stars: four, a fun read, a good story but Althea’s relentless cheer was a little too much occasionally, and I wasn’t totally convinced at first by her and Max. I was by the end though, the breakup reactions sealed it for me.

Arc via Author and Netgalley

Lost and Found, Liv Rancourt

Lost and Found, Liv Rancourt

Lost and Found by [Rancourt, Liv]

Genre: LGBTQIA, Romance

One of the reasons I love LGBTQIA reads is that the romance that always seems to have that extra edge of passion. Maybe it’s because of the barriers, historically it was illegal, punishable by prison, and even now in our supposed enlightened terms its still frowned on. People still carry that bigotry and make life difficult for those who want to love outside what they feel is *right*. Sad isn’t it that we can’t all just live and let live in real life. Still, it makes for some fabulous fiction.

When we meet Ben its clear to see the War ( WW1) has affected him mentally, but of course its an age when such things were not only largely unknown but unspoken too, and he’s kind of floundering along, single mindedly searching for his childhood friend Elias. He can’t explain why he needs to do this for a friend but he just has to.
Its clear to the reader than they had more than just friendship, but in times like those Ben seems to have shut off his mind to the possibility that they were more, that he is attracted to men. Who can blame him when any hint of liking your own sex carried the taint of Unnatural, the threat of prison, the ostracising in society and employment prospects. Awful isn’t it that we could send people off to war, to die for their country but not let them live as they chose.
Louis is also a tenant in the building where Ben has rented a room, and at first he seems so surly, dislikable, rude. Yet their landlady is one of those who gently interferes in folks lives, caring about them as friends, really looks after her tenants, and somehow she engages Louis to help Ben. Together more they start to understand each other, learn about the things that plague them both, and Ben discovers some surprises about himself that he’d locked in his mind.

Its a wonderful story, a beautiful romance, with all the period details that allowed me to feel there with them. Books like that work best for me, where I almost feel part of the story, and am happy or sad along with the characters. Its not just Ben and Elias but a host of others here that made the story so real, they became people I felt I knew as friends.
At the end Liv talks about the story and says a certain part was at the suggestion of her agent. I’m so glad she took that advice, without that section it would be a good read, with that addition it becomes a great read. That part really moved me, let me understand Ben more, made the feelings between Louis and Ben more concrete, made the problems they faced more real.
I love it when a book delivers a love story but makes the characters have real issues, face seemingly immovable barriers to their love, and lets those problems take over a complete section of the story, not just a couple of pages. Ben needed that, I needed it 😉 and it really made the ending more satisfying.

Stars: Five, a perfect historical read, full of tenderness and emotion.

Arc via author

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