Haven Handel-Princess of the Pack

Haven Handel is a pen name for Shanna Handel. She’s writing paranormal romance under this name. Of course, just because she’s writing in a new genre with a new pen name doesn’t mean that she got rid of the spanking and domestic discipline that go along with her other books.

In Princess of the Pack, we meet a new cast of characters. There’s Cassandra and Deo, her husband, and all of his family. Deo’s family are interesting, but we’ll get to them later. Right now all you need to know is that they are Greek and they all look like they stepped down off Mount Olympus.

So, Cassandra and Deo have been married for 10 years. In fact, the story starts out the day before their 10th wedding anniversary. However, in the past few months, their marriage hasn’t been good. They have been fighting and arguing and just pulling away from each other, in general. During a big argument that night, Cassandra tells Deo that she is leaving. It’s that exact point in time when everything changes. Deo tells her to go to his office, tells her to get undressed, and then takes her over his knee, after she laughed in his face, which meant she got spanked even worse.

The next day she goes to work late, so she wouldn’t have to sit down at her meeting, and tells her friend Cynthia what happens. Then she goes out to lunch with her friend Andrew, when Deo shows up. Bye-bye Andrew. When she gets back from lunch, another Greek god looking dude, Baal, is waiting in her office and tells her that Deo sent her and she needs to leave.

OK, this is a good place to mention all the names of the hot guys. Whenever anyone meets them, they always tell the new person what their name is and what it means. Deo means godlike. Baal is short for Balthazar, meaning protect the king, he’s Deo’s couisn. Alekos is Deo’s brother, and his name means defender of mankind. Draco, another cousin, means the dragon. Xander, yet another relative, means protector. Then there was Cassandra, who was an unheeded prophetess.

Here is where the paranormal bit comes in. When Baal and Draco get Cassandra to Deo at the castle, he starts to tell her what’s the what. Turns out he and his family are shifters who have to fight against dark spirits. They are all wolves, but Draco has a second, more powerful, form. Gee, guess what it is? Not that we see it in this book, but we will, I’m sure.

Alright, here’s where you choose which path to follow, my little ducklings. There is spanking and romance. Not so much sex, and not a whole lot of bad language. Shanna/Haven writes rather tame stories, sex-wise, but very entertaining otherwise, so I’m not complaining in any way. I enjoy reading them. Shanna came up with a good premise in this and an interesting way to turn the people into wolves, which is a way I’ve not heard of before, and I’ve read a lot of paranormal and UF, so that was exciting.

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OK, so here’s how they become shifters. You know, in most stories, they are bitten or they are born to be a shifter. In this one, Deo’s family was cursed many, many, many years ago. Now, when the men make a sacred vow, whoosh, the curse activates and they turn into shifters. Until they do that vow, they have no clue what’s going. So, when Deo married Cassandra, he made that vow, and he found out about the curse and was able to turn into a wolf.

There are always dark spirits around, but they multiply when vows and promises get broken, and they like to attack a lot more people when that happens.

I like that Cassandra stays a strong woman even after her husband starts with his domestic discipline. She’s a high powered lawyer outside of their marriage and is pretty Alpha herself, so Shanna did really well not letting that part of Cassandra disappear. Sadly, it earns her a lot of punishment, but you know, this happens. But, Cassandra also gets to be a BAMF and a kickass fighter, which is good.

Outside of telling you to go check this out, I think I’ve said quite enough. It’s a fairly short story, which is amazing that I was able to talk this much about it, and it’s a great start to a new series in an interesting world.

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Parker Sinclair-Truth

So, we’re into book two of Parker Sinclair’s Alex Connor Chronicles. Sticking with the one word title, book two is called Truth. In book one, we got to meet Alex AKA Lex AKA Elia, an Earthen Protector and Healer. She’s super-duper powerful and has been hiding all her life, even though she didn’t really know it. The Council has been looking for her, but they don’t know who she is or what her name is, they are just looking for someone with her powers. She defeated a big bad with the help of Ryan, an Earthen Protector who was supposed to be looking for the powerful person for the Council, befriended Dana, a friend of her grandmother, and learned all kinds of secrets. We also met Justin, who is her boyfriend. There is a whole weird triangle setting up with Ryan, Justin, and Alex. I also said that I was mad at Ryan in the last review based only on the first book, but that I wasn’t going to say anything about how I felt about him in later books until I got to those reviews. So, let’s get started.

Truth starts around a month after Trust ends. Alex is off in the desert training with Dana to enhance her Protector powers. She’s got really nifty hairsticks that turn into staffs, Serenity and Chaos. I so totally want hairsticks like that, mostly because I have more than 3 feet of hair hanging down my back and I use hairsticks and forks pretty much daily, but none of mine turn into magical staffs. I feel cheated. Anyway, Justin is doing work in Mexico not all that far away from where Dana is training Alex, and he comes to visit frequently. During one visit, Alex gets a call that her good friend and partner Shane has been injured in an accident and she has to go back to San Diego to try to heal him. Ryan is going to be there too. That makes Justin rather unhappy.

When she gets to San Diego, she and Ryan go to heal Shane and figure out that her foster brother has been fucking with him. They manage to get him taken care of and get him healed. Once they do some healing and such on Shane, they start arguing. She is mad at secrets he didn’t tell her. He is mad because she went off without telling him and has been ignoring him for a month. But, they are still madly and wildly attracted to each other. They are like really strong magnets. You just get them somewhere near each other and they are drawn together.

We also find out that Alex’s mom isn’t as out of Alex’s life as we thought she was, and they are working with each other to find Alex’s father, who was supposed to be dead but isn’t.

OK, we’re going to split off here. Remember how I said that we had the start of a really good adventure story? Well, we definitely have a great adventure series going on here. There is minimal sex, but maximal action and adventure. Most of the chapters start with journals again, which I really like. We also get information about Alex’s dreams in her journals and how they are affecting her current life. There are Dreamwalks which give us more info on the past. There is another book, as well as a novella about Sandra, Alex’s Seer friend. Those will show up sometime in the next few days, Friday probably, since this week is packed full of ARCs.

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Ryan has gone a long way to redeeming himself over where I was mad at him before. I was mad because Dana told Alex that the Council has said that Earthen Protectors and Healers should marry ordinary humans to help spread the powers since they are so important. Except Alex doesn’t give a good goddamn about what the Council says, and that’s not going to stop him from being with Alex if they want that to happen.

I’m glad to find out more about Stacy, Alex’s mom. Her history was tragic for so many, many reasons. We get a good look as to what caused her to go off the rails why she did and why she did it to protect Alex. She’s a BAMF though, and a BAMF who has a Demon who is into her.

Poor Alexander, Alex’s father. He’s been through hell, probably literally. But, we also see where he’s been popping in and out of Alex’s past.

And the end? Yeah, that’s going to make you yell WTF?!?!?!

OK, that’s all I have to say about this today. We have a really big week coming up, all kinds of ARCs, a new book from Candace Blevins, and of course, more Parker Sinclair. Meanwhile, happy reading!

Parker Sinclair-Trust

Parker Sinclair is a first time author for me. I signed up for her ARC team and I’m working my way through her backlog, which is always something I enjoy doing. Today we’re going to talk about the first book in her Alex Connors series, Trust.

These books are a little different to the ones that I generally review. For one thing, there is almost no sex. I know, you are all shocked. I do read books that don’t have sex and that aren’t considered romances. Trust is one of those books. It is a paranormal series, and I would probably classify it as urban fantasy as well. That puts it right into my wheelhouse.

Anyway, to the book. The main character is Alex. Alex can do magic. She is an Earthen Protector/Healer. She doesn’t know a lot about that because her mother was a junkie and didn’t teach her much, and her grandmother died before she could teach Alex. Alex went into foster care and was caught by a bad guy. She used her magic to bind him away so he could do no more damage to anyone.

Alex has a boyfriend named Justin. Justin is a really nice guy. He’s all into plants and such, and Alex just feels perfectly at home with him. He loves her and tells her so, but she has trauma in the past that makes it hard for her to trust him, let alone love him.

Part of the problem is that she is having horrific nightmares, and has been since around the time she met Justin. She’s seeing a therapist for it, but they are getting worse.

Alex is an event planner and a good one. At one of her events, she meets Ryan. She is drawn to Ryan, and feels safe around him. After one of the events, he has to take her home, and he stays there overnight. She has one of the best night’s sleep she’s had in a while. She’s wildly attracted to Ryan, but she feels guilty about Justin.

OK, so here’s where we part. I really do like this book and am well into enjoying the rest of the series. Expect a post about the second book on Sunday. There are some things that Parker did really well in this book. One is the way that she handles the exposition. Each chapter starts with a journal excerpt, and we know that Alex journals. That excerpt gives us backstory without having to start all the way back in Alex’s childhood. The story starts with her as an adult, but the journals start much earlier. I really liked the way that she did that. This is a really good adventure story. There is minimal sex, but there is bad language. If you are looking for a paranormal read, this is a good choice.

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I never trusted the hypnotherapist. The whole thing just seemed off to me. Turned out I was right.

Also, I’m not all that enthused with Ryan right now. The information we got at the end of the book about him makes me not trust him. It will take a whole lot for him to come back into my trust as of the end of the book. I’ll tell you my opinion of him in further books as we get there. I don’t want to get all spoilery even in my spoiler section.

I love Dana. She’s awesome, completely awesome. I want to be her when I decide to grow up. She’s dotty in all the right ways. I really enjoy her. I also love Vex, he’s pretty awesome. I wish I had a spirit animal like him.

There are all kinds of wonderful surprises to get into when you read this book, and if I give all of them away, you won’t enjoy the book, so head on over to King Zon and check out the book and the series.

Tomorrow we have a new and sexy Grace Goodwin story coming up and Saturday is a new Ava Sinclair. They are both marvelous, I’m really looking forward to sharing them with you guys. Meanwhile, happy reading!

Eris Adderly-The Eighth House

Anyone who reads on Literotica may be familiar with The Eighth House by DeathandTaxes. Well, D&T turns out to be Eris Adderly. The funny thing is that I found her stories on Lit and her books on Amazon separately and liked them both. It wasn’t until she said something on FB about another story that I realized that they were the same person. I read this story once or twice on Lit. So OK, maybe it was more like five or six times, but who’s counting? I’ve been waiting for this book to come out for a long time and pre-ordered it as soon as I could. I’m really enjoying the differences.

Persephone is my favorite myth. We all know the story. Persephone gets taken to the Underworld to be married to Hades. Demeter goes nuts and nothing grows, famines happen, all kinds of terrible things. Persephone eats 6 pomegranate seeds, which would usually relegate her to the Underworld forever, but a compromise is met, she’ll live with Hades for 6 months of the year, and the other 6 months, she’ll live on Olympus. The 6 months she lives in the Underworld are fall and winter, spring and summer are when she comes back. There’s just something so… I don’t know. The story just speaks to me so much. So, when I found Eris’s version, I had to read it. It was like something jumped out at me and said READ. So I did.

So, here we go, The Eighth House.

We open on a beach, where Persephone has just been having an interlude with a mortal man. She’s not all that satisfied, but her lover thinks that she’s all that and a bag of chips, which of course, she totally is. I mean, goddess, right? When she leaves that guy, she heads to see Polyxene, a mortal woman who she considers a friend. She’s been visiting Polyxene off and on for many years, sometimes giving her samples of plants that are very powerful and stronger. Anyway, while she is there, Persephone asks to wear Polyxene’s ring, does some magic to it, and tells Polyxene that if the ring hasn’t changed when Persephone sees her again, she can have what’s in it.

Flash to the Underworld. Hades is being confronted by Aphrodite. She wants a favor from Hades, and she reminds Hades that he owes her. She tells him that her favor is that he will take Persephone and make her his. When questioned, Aphrodite tells Hades that the reason for it is that Hermes, Aphrodite’s lover, is paying too much attention to Persephone.

Demeter, Persephone’s mother, has done everything she can to keep her away from the gods on Olympos. Demeter thinks that Persephone is still a maiden and hasn’t had anything to do with any man. She treats Persephone like she is a little girl, not as if she’s a grown goddess. So, Demeter sends her dear, darling, “maiden” daughter off to Nysa to gather baskets of flowers with Artemis and Athena.

While she is there, Hades arranges for the earth to open up and for Persephone to fall into the Underworld and into his arms. He had been planning on just playing with Persephone up until that point. When he saw, smelt, and felt her, he knew that he was doomed.

Alright, here is where we split. The Eighth House is a wonderful book. Not only is a good retelling of the Persephone/Hades myth, you get a book with a great plotline, wonderful descriptions, and hot sex scenes. So, really, it’s a win/win in my view. I have put it under dark romance because there is BDSM in there, but it isn’t as dark as other books I’ve put in there. There is an HEA, which yay! I don’t always need an HEA, but it’s nice to read. Right now this book is on KU, but as always, I recommend that you buy it. You’ll want to read it over and over.

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Before I go anywhere else with this post, I need to talk about the bridge scene. I can neither confirm nor deny that I have that whooooooole scene highlighted in my Kindle for… reasons. It is one of the most mind-blowing scenes that I’ve ever read. I mean, I’ve read some really hot sex scenes, but the reason that this one really got to me what the whole trust issue between Persephone and Hades. It’s not like it was easy for her to do what she did, but that’s what makes it so amazing.

Ok, now that I have that out of the way. Hades is now one of my newest book boyfriends. He is so devoted to Persephone, even when he is trying hard to control himself and not to be. Not only that, he actually gives a fuck about his job and about the souls under his care. I love his physical description, it’s a really stark image in my head but stark in a good way, like a statue carved of ivory with ebony accents.

Persephone. Poor Persephone. Polyxene was the only one who even came close knowing her before she met Hades. At one point, during a fight she’s having with her mother towards the end of the book, she tells her mom that she’s been boning mortal males all this time and what did it say about her mother that Hades knew more about her than her own mother did. I, personally, don’t think that Demeter really likes Persephone all that much. I mean, sure, she probably loved her, but just because you love someone doesn’t mean that you actually like them all the time.

I’m really glad that I bought this one. Like I said, I had it on pre-order as long as it was possible to. I may have squeed a little bit when I found out that Eris was turning it into a book. It looks like it’s going to be the first one in a series, and I can’t wait to see what else she has coming for us!

Cari Silverwood & Nicolette Hugo-Nightmare Rising

OMG, you guys, this book. This book was so good. I know I say that about every book that I review. After all, why am I going to review a book I don’t think is good? But this one wowed me. It took me in, swallowed me whole, drained me, and then refilled me.

I’ve been looking forward to Nightmare Rising ever since I heard Cari and Nicolette first started talking about it on FB, and then they posted the prologue. That prologue did me in. It is an incredibly dark scene. Intriguingly so. While the book is within the dark category, it isn’t completely black, more like dark gray with great black streaks. However, with the ending of this one, the knowledge of what these two talented ladies write, and being the first book of a series called The Nightmare Trilogy, I see very, very dark clouds on the horizon.

The prologue sets the stage for the rest of the story, which is an eternal battle between immortals, the Nightmare King and the forces of good, including the Cucitrice.

Fast forward many, many years, and we get to the start of the story.

Zara is a woman who came from the middle of nowhere. As a teenager, she was thought to be crazy because she told everyone her friend Yvaine was taken, but no one could find any proof of it. Yvaine’s family were wanderers and when she disappeared, so did they. Years later, Zara is trying to stay one step ahead of her stalker, who sends her letters and postcards. Those postcards give hints that her stalker killed Yvaine and others associated with Zara. Because of that, she keeps to herself, and only has one friend, Chester, who she mostly talks to by cellphone. He is a computer genius and helps her out as much as possible. Zara has done everything she can to keep herself safe, including carrying a gun with her. If her stalker ever comes for her, she’s ready to take him down.

Valor is a soldier who has survived war and loss, including his son being blown up in a terrorist attack. Valor carries a small teddy bear of his son’s around with him everywhere he goes, as a touchstone. These days, he’s a member of a very deep, dark, dark ops CIA team. He and his team are tracking terrorists on American soil. They are surveilling a bomber one day. They think they get him, but there’s another bomb. It goes off near a school bus, killing Valor’s partner, and knocking Valor out.

Zara is at work when the bomb goes off and she rushes out, just in time to see the Cucitrice (which is a fancy word for seamstress), using a knife and stabbing something into Valor’s arm, over and over. Then the Cucitrice gets shot, drags herself over to Zara and downloads as much of herself into Zara as possible.

And this is where we cut away. This book is just so amazing. Zara and Valor have a hard time trusting themselves let alone each other, which sets up so much conflict in this book, it’s totally awesome. Their partnership, when it happens, makes them stronger, but they have to make it that far first.

Like I said, this book tends toward the dark side and the series will only be getting darker. There is violence and language, and you immediately get dropped into the deep, dark end of the pool and never quite get to the shallower end. There is hate and angry fucking galore, and it’s glorious. And forget the idea of a happy ending. If this isn’t your shot of tequila, definitely avoid it. You’ll be happier.

 

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This book is seriously good. I mean so good. I was so pulled into it, so immersed, that just the fact that the book ended traumatized me almost as much as the ending. It gave me a massive book hangover and it took me awhile to find something else to read. Even once I did, Zara and Valor, and can we just mention how great a name that is, followed me into the next book.

Valor is hiding the Nightmare King inside his head. He knows it’s there, but he hides it from Zara, even after they have become lovers. At the start, he doesn’t really stick with Zara so much for the fact that Zara is nifty neato and more for the fact he wants to access the Cucitrice’s memories to figure out how to get the Nightmare King out of his head.

The Nightmare King’s name really fits him. Not only does he control all the nightmare creatures that came into our world, he is nightmarish. Every thing that he wants Valor to do in general, and to Zara specifically, is right out of someone’s nightmare.

The search for Zara’s stalker goes to places that she never expected, especially after Valor points out that the latest postcard she got is a faked up card. Valor kind of thinks that she may be faking it at first, but then changes his mind as proof shows up. But, I didn’t expect that storyline to end up the way that it did. What happens with that ending directly affects the way that the book ends.

The story has a hell of a cliffhanger. Fuuuuuck, I really hated Cari and Nicolette for a minute. Then I remembered that I loved their writing, and I know better than to expect a HEA from them, especially from a book called Nightmare Rising in a trilogy called Nightmare.

I’m willing to do a deal with the devil or associated demons in order to get the next 2 books sooner, but Nightmare Rising pretty much destroyed what little soul I had left.

If anything I’ve written makes you want to check it out, go visit Amazon. It’s on KU right now, but I recommend buying it so that you are ready for when the next one comes out. I’m going to be sitting in the corner, suffering the DTs until it does. Meanwhile, happy reading!

 

Danielle Lori-A Girl in Black and White

“There is no black and white in human nature. Just because a man is a prince doesn’t make him a good man.” Calamity’s Grandmother, telling Calamity a bloody fairy tale in the prologue.

So, you all may remember that a couple of weeks ago I did a blog post on Danielle Lori’s A Girl Named Calamity. In that post, I said how much I was looking forward to reading the sequel, A Girl in Black and White. Well, Danielle took pity on this poor blogger and sent me an ARC for it. Yay for Danielle! Sadly, it took me forever to get to it because of the stupid move and how backed up I got with that. But, here I am now. And Girl met and exceeded my expectations. I’m so glad that Danielle sent it to me and I’ve signed up to read the ARC for the next one. I think it’s going to be totally awesome. Let’s get into A Girl in Black and White. Do be aware that I will spoil stuff from the first book, so if you haven’t read it and don’t want to be spoiled, then you should stop right now, go read the books and then come back. You’ve been warned.

So, Girl picks up a year after Calamity ended. Calamity ended on a very, very mean cliffhanger, with Weston’s brother Roldan killing Calamity and throwing her into the ocean. Calamity is now living in Symbia in a brothel. She’s not a whore, but she is a Sister. The Sisters are a group of witches. The brothel is a safe house. The Sisters who live there don’t have to work there, so Calamity is still hanging on to her virginity. Symbia also happens to be the place where her mother lives.

Now, while Calamity was killed a year ago, she doesn’t remember all the time she was gone. There are about 4 months where she doesn’t remember anything, really. She just remembers waking up on a beach outside Symbia and someone finding her.

In Symbia, there is a woman running around doing things, called the Girl in Black. Can  you guess who that is? I bet you can. The Girl in Black does things like compel slavers to stop being slavers, which actually causes some of the slavers to die.

One of my favorite things is towards the beginning when she rescues a little boy named Henry who is a 7 year old pickpocket that she has befriended. He’s chained up in the magistrate’s house, and so is his monkey, Tasha. Tasha is a little more aware than most monkeys. While she’s there, she taunts two king’s guards, Steady and Tuko, and sorta becomes friends with them. It’s just a funny af scene.

Anyway, after that, Calamity goes back to the bar where Henry’s mother works, and there are two posters there. One is a badly drawn picture of her, the other is a well drawn picture of Weston. Or, should I say, Prince Weston of Titan? He is being lauded as the hero while she is being vilified. He’s being lauded for killing her and stopping her from opening the seal.

Then she runs to the brothel so that she doesn’t miss dinner and her mother shows up. That’s when we find out that everything that her grandmother told her about her mother and her past is a lie. Having her mother show up and take off her cuff was something her grandmother totally arranged so that Calamity would have to leave.

This is also when we find out that the fairy tale that’s the prologue is actually a repressed memory of Calamity’s.

Maxim, the Untouchable prince, has taken over Symbia, and he runs into Calamity and tells her that he just wanted to see if it was really her. She makes him swear not to tell Weston that she is there. Spoiler, he totally does.

OK, I’m going to go into the whole spoiler section now. This series is totally worth reading. While I thought that Calamity had some slow spots, I don’t think Girl has any at all. It really moves along well and is intense. There are some very vivid sex scenes in this, and my opinion on those scenes is that it was just about damn time for it to happen! Check out the series, and stay tuned for my review of the third book as soon as it comes out. Just another tip, this doesn’t end with an HEA either, it totally ends on a cliffhanger.

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OK, so on to the spoilers and good stuff. Weston is still totally possessive and jealous when it comes to Calamity. He gets really pissed off when he finds out that she is living in a brothel, and he assumes that she’s working there. She doesn’t really tell him any different. Maxim doesn’t do anything to help with the matter, intimating that he has had Calamity in his bed.

Calamity has to be pledged, or married, on All Sisters Day, and her mother and step-father are really wanting her to marry Alis, her step-brother, who she can’t really stand. She keeps trying to tell him no, but he’s not taking now for an answer, so when Weston saves her from Alis and some of his friends, she has Weston compel Alis to marry one of the other Sisters in the brothel.

We also find out that Calamity isn’t just a Sister. She’s also a Shadow. If her black blood falls on the ground, she turns into a Shadow and is intangible and has serious magic. The Shadows of the Dawn aren’t a good group and they live away from Alyria.

There is so much more, but if I keep going into spoilers, there’s no point for anyone to read the book, and you really want to. Danielle has really stuck all kinds of layers into this book, and what happens with her grandmother and Weston at the end is just wow. It was just shocking. I mean… Wow.

Go check out this series on Amazon. It’s worth it. And happy reading!

The Rite

Hey everyone! You know how I love to recommend books, right? Well, here’s another Jennifer Bene book for you to check out!

The Rite by Jennifer Bene is available now and available on KU!

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Heather isn’t a witch – yet. She’s a woman with a complicated love life and an even more complicated family who is pushing her to complete the rite that they have guarded for generations. A rite that will give her unimaginable power at the cost of someone else’s life.

All she has to do is choose someone, take them to bed, and curse them to die.

After her cousin pressures her to go to a speed-dating event and just pick someone, she meets Neil. Ex-army, ex-foster kid, who just moved to Cambridge. He’s blond, dimpled, and gorgeous. He seems like the perfect choice, almost too perfect, but he’s her only choice if she wants to survive her family.

Can she choose him, and take him to bed, knowing that he’ll die for her to gain her power? To be one of the Pritchett witches? And can she live with herself, can she have the life she wants, if she does?

Publisher’s Note: This is a dark story that involves some delightful BDSM, heavy decisions and themes, and scenes of dubious consent and torture aided by magic.

US: http://amzn.to/2vKHekM
UK: http://amzn.to/2vKPeT2
CA: http://amzn.to/2vLikla
AUS: http://amzn.to/2vKI8xU