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review 2020-09-22 21:36
The Hostess, the Actress and the Duchess...
At the Stroke of Nine O'clock - Jane Davis

Another triumph from indie author Jane Davis in this gloriously gritty novel that engages head-on with a post-war London struggling to re-boot itself and wider society, amid ongoing privations. Against this authentic backdrop, the dawning realisation that Britain needed to change and to challenge former ingrained inequalities, particularly the structural disadvantage of women, is deftly explored by the author, through the lived experiences of three fictional women in the 1950s. Moreover the reader discovers that Caroline, Ursula and Patrice are each held hostage by their very different respective circumstances and perceptions of duty to family (parents, children, husband). Such traditional values are also cleverly juxtaposed with the tragic real-life story of Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hanged in the UK. The sensationalised accounts of her crime carried in the press at the time (Ellis shot her lover, killing him) succeeded in vilifying Ellis, but drew a veil over the scandalous and violent behaviour of the ‘innocent’ male victim.

 

The format of the book reflects multiple points of view and rotates between the key characters’ perspectives. Indeed, it sounds like the start of a joke, the hostess, the actress and the duchess, but despite the disparity in their social positions, their common experience of abuse (financial, emotional and physical) at the hands of men, is something of a leveller. But for quirks of chance, all three might not be so far removed from the fate awaiting Ruth Ellis, yet they are drawn inexorably together, bonded by a shared sense of being social misfits. The intertwining of their journeys also offers touching examples of support, without judgement.

 

Far from being a tale of ‘doom and gloom’, the writing is sumptuous and though perhaps not intended as a feminist commentary on the period, the author has provided the reader with a genuine depiction of a society in transition and three strong and courageous female characters equal to their time. 

 

Indeed, time, as measured for the nation by the iconic notes of ‘Big Ben’, provides a wonderful symmetry to this book. From August 1949, when the bongs failed to appear on cue, to July 1955 when sections of London held their collective breath in anticipation of the nine o’clock salvo, the author locates each of the women and enables the reader to follow their discrete but convergent journeys. It is true there are no male role models to speak of, which perhaps begs the question whether the period also presided over the demise of ‘gentlemanly’ conduct, or leastways diminished capacity to do the ‘right’ thing? But, the dilemmas the book exposes and the moral conundrums posed make for a fascinating and stimulating read, irrespective of the reader’s gender.

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review 2020-08-30 13:46
'Champion' Heroes
This Paper World - Jeff Lane

In his thrilling fantasy novel, indie author Jeff Lane introduces two strains of superhumans, in effect the Yin and Yang of seemingly contrary forces, locked in a perpetual existential struggle for survival. That the conflict between the ‘champions’ and the ‘spoilers’ rages alongside the humdrum existence of the vast majority of the human population is interesting. That such extraordinary beings are hidden in plain sight among the general population and their activities go largely unnoticed is also slightly unnerving! Both groups are relatively small in number and co-opt lesser mortals to their respective causes, however, the enmity between the two factions is palpable. For the champions it is driven by the predation of the spoilers, whose hunting style resembles that of hyenas. The spoilers seek to harvest power from their superior opponents in a gruesome and tortuous process, draining the very life force from a lone champion, most often isolated and overwhelmed by numbers. Still, for the reader, this insatiable appetite for the ‘consumption’ of champions’ energy, in what is essentially a parasitic existence, readily casts the ‘spoilers’ as villains and the battlelines drawn between ‘good’ and ‘evil’ are clearly marked throughout this opening book in the series.

In an act of self preservation, some champions are loosely connected through a national network and this story follows the transition of eighteen year-old, Jim Hunt, from college student to elite champion-in-the-making. Jim is the prodigy of his neighbour, the enigmatic Nathaniel Parker, who had identified the boy’s potential at a young age (and the need to protect it), but until now never disclosed why he was so special. However, the importance of the young man does not go unnoticed and when spoilers audaciously organise to trap Nathaniel and use him as bait to feast on two of the most powerful champion ‘batteries’, Jim has a life-changing decision to make. 

This, will he, won’t he, journey to potential ‘champion’ undertaken by Jim is exciting and at times comical, as the hero is supported by his college roommate, Eric Warner, who exhibits all the more familiar traits of a hapless mortal teenager. In fact, at times, Eric reminded me of Sancho Panza, with his squirely regard and selfless support for his friend, though he is also weighed down by a substantial secret, his ‘sanchismos’ provide a useful lighter tone amid the surrounding tension.

In the broader arc of this compelling story, can the champions survive this coordinated attack on their existence? Maybe even counter attack the unusually organized incursion into their established, but intentionally nondescript lives? No doubt which side the reader is on, but the grandstand finish raises plenty of new questions, which will have me reaching for Book 2 (“This Burning World”). The author has also confirmed that Book 3 (“This Champion’s World’) is currently being edited, so more to look forward to. For fans of thrilling fantasy tales, this is a very welcome addition to the bookshelf and I am obliged to Jeff Lane for a welcome diversion in this time of COVID-19. 

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video 2020-07-29 14:12
The Princess of Aenya Book Review

The Princess of Aenya by Nick Alimonos was a good book, but I think I would enjoy it more reading it a second time. From the beginning, there’s an onslaught of action and story coming from multiple characters at once. The main storyline follows Radia and Demacharon as they fight to survive. But Hugo and Esse, a soldier and a servant, are introduced, as well as Ugh, a Bogren, and Eros, an assassin hired to kill Radia.

Through alternating chapters, the reader has to follow all of these storylines before they eventually intertwine in the end of the book and, for me at least, this was difficult. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed the individual storylines and characters.

 

Hugo and Esse deserve their own book. I would love for a companion novel to be made about them leading the rebellion in Tyrnael while Radia had to be in hiding. Esse was bred to be a servant, someone designed to not stand out or aspire to anything more than serving others. But she fought against that lifelong training to lead a rebellion against a sadistic tyrant. Before Zaibos, Tyrnael was at peace for a thousand years. No one had any experience protesting or rebelling because there wasn’t a need. But Esse stepped up and started to lead! Honestly, her story is just as fascinating as Radia’s, and a lot more relatable. I love stories about people who take their fate into their own hands so Esse’s story would be a great one.

 

I really liked Eros as well. He represents the dark side of Tyrnael. Just because there was peace doesn’t mean everyone was happy. Sexual intercourse is forbidden in Tyrnael. Eros was born from sexual intercourse so he and his mother were branded and ostracized. He was forced to become an assassin to support and protect his mother. Honestly, I wanted him to fail and succeed at the same time because succeeding meant killing Radia but it also meant the brand getting lifted from his mother.

 

However, while I enjoyed the characters and could follow and enjoy the plot overall, there’s still a lot I’m confused about. There are five storylines to juggle, six if you count Demarchon’s flashbacks. Not only are we following Radia, but we are also following Eros, Ugh, Esse, and Zaibos through their stories. It’s a lot to take in and keep straight.

The Princess of Aenya was an enjoyable read and the ending was satisfying. However, I would get a lot more out of the story if I reread it.

 

Get The Princess of Aenya on Amazon.

 

Nick Alimonos is a member of the Read for a Better World Hall of Fame for donating to Trees for the Future in exchange for an honest review. Learn more about my Read for a Better World program here.

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review 2020-07-16 18:50
Book Review for Devious Savior (Vicious Vipers MC Book 6) Lynn Burke
Devious Savior (Vicious Vipers MC Book 6) - Lynn Burke

 

 

What an enjoyable story this was after the whopping ending with Virgil's story and with his brother's continued attempts to self-sabotage and continuing down the rabbit  hole we were more intrigued than ever what his story was.

The answers to Ricky's past are revealed and he finally comes face to face with his demons that have been haunting him for over 20 years and with a little help from a blonde tiny dancer he even may overcome them once and for all.

I have to say that I really enjoyed Ricky's character because I found him to be real, vulnerable, protective, heartsick, guilt stiffened while having a lot of insecurities all probably stemming from his life choices and past deeds but, not so gone that he wasn't the type of man who wouldn't be redeemable.

I loved Casey from the moment that women graced the pages because that woman was a spitfire also sexy, independent, bold, beautiful, forward, and not the kind of woman to give up what she wants. Casey had me smiling and laughing out loud at her antics and forwardness and she kept that  smile plastered to my face the entire book. Casey may have been all those things but, like all women, she had her own insecurities which made her even more of a love-able character.

Lust and love, at first sight, we're pretty much what drew Ricky and Casey together in the first place baring her amazing resemblance to Ricky's past lover who haunts his dreams but, in the reality, they are complete opposite's. The chemistry and pull between the two was scorching hot  and sexy but, as always the road to getting want you to want is never an easy one and for this couple will love to be able to conquer all and lay those demons to rest once and for all?

We loved the story from beginning to end and we loved that it was heartfelt and emotional and complicated and had awesome characters that felt real so much so you felt their pain and suffering. A touching story about addiction, and healing, love, and forgiveness all wrapped up in one but, along that path and through all that chaos it leads you to the one woman destined to be your soulmate. A tale that kept you glued to the pages the entire time.
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review 2020-07-16 18:27
Book Review for Twisted Devil by Lynn Burke
 Twisted Devil (Vicious Vipers MC #4) by Lynn Burke - Lynn Burke

 

 

Twisted and Dasia's story was touching and heartfelt. I have to say Twisted's character surprised me as he was so much more than a hacker and not your typical computer nerd that is obsessed with his craft he is outgoing, outspoken and likes kinky sex and is obsessed with a girl almost half his age. The age difference had a bit of an ick factor for me but, Dasia's age is nothing compared to all this young girl as already endured and she is already wiser beyond her years as she had to grow up rather quickly to overcome all that she has already suffered just to survive.

Twisted has been drawn and obsessed with Dasia since she showed up at their gate broken and battered but, she is lost and broken and the last thing she needs is a man who needs dominance and obedience in and out of bed even if the age difference isn't really a factor.

Our heart broke for Dasia and time again as that girl was dealt nothing but, hard breaks her entire life but, Pia and Ryder aka Callous are there to pick up the pieces and for the first time in her life has made her feel safe and loved. We loved how Callous was Dasia as it was quite out of the norm for him but, one thing for sure she quickly wormed his way in that dark heart of his. We also loved how quickly she also wormed her way into the hearts of the other club members so much so they considered her one of their own and would give their lives to protect her.

Dasia story just broke our heart time and time again and its a miracle that life didn't completely break her.Dasia had some sort of bond with Twisted from the moment she meets the gorgeous biker and is obsessed with the man just as much as he is with her but, she felt no man would ever want her so this just adds to her torment.

Dasia and Twisted had some off the chart chemistry and perhaps his kink is just what she needs to feel cherished and safe.

Overall the story had enjoyable characters a suspenseful plot and one that broke one's heart. We really are enjoying this series as well as this story as it had us engrossed in the pages to the very end. The series and this current read also had so many loveable characters that you can't help but love each and everyone one of them and we just love that!

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