A Raven’s Touch is author Linda Bloodworth’s debut novel into the world of paranormal/fantasy… a world filled with gods and demons, fairies and elves,A Raven’s Touch is author Linda Bloodworth’s debut novel into the world of paranormal/fantasy… a world filled with gods and demons, fairies and elves, dragons and wolves, witches and humans.
A world where if good is to triumph over evil…. ‘good’ is going to have to get a little ‘bad’.
I am a relatively new reader to the world of paranormal. It is not a genre I usually indulge in, preferring bullets, bad guys and broads to otherworld creatures and magic. In fact, A Raven’s Touch is only the third book I have read in this undeniably fascinating genre. This is a testament to the author, who has crafted a story both brave and compelling, fast-paced and well thought-out. An ambitious story quite remarkable in the world of debut novels today where few rise to the calibre of A Raven’s Touch in originality, creativity, strong plot and engaging characters.
High school teen Justice St. Michaels has a problem. And it isn’t the school bullies she endures on a daily basis. No, Justice’s problem is not going to be solved by the principal of her high school meting out suspensions to the bullies. Fortunately, Justice has a circle of friends, her best friend Moira among them, looking out for her. Friends who are, unbeknownst to her, witches, elves and Halflings.
Which is good because things are about to go… what’s that English expression?... pear-shaped in Fallingbrook and cops, counselors, and clergy are not going to be of much help. It is going to take some ‘supernatural’… some ‘otherworldly’… powers to slay the demons and keep Hell where it belongs, deep in the bowels of Earth.
There’s something about Justice herself that lies at the root of her ‘problem’, something her parents, for their own reasons, have not told Justice about yet.
Justice, it seems, has ‘abilities’. For some time Justice has felt that there was something different about her… something not right. And now she’s having dreams… nightmares might be a better word… and she is ‘changing’.
And as if life weren’t complicated enough for a teenage girl, enter stage right a stranger… a man both charming and dangerous. But then, isn’t that always the way with their ‘kind’?
Oh, and did I mention a jealous demon? Or is it demoness? You know what they say… “Hell hath no fury as a scorned woman.”
And with that, I should stop. I really, really hate spoilers.
I thoroughly enjoyed A Raven’s Touch. It has a solid plot that does not get mired in unnecessary subplots. There is a good level of suspense… I liked the ‘slow reveal’ of some of the characters and of Justice’s ‘secret’ as well. The pacing of the story was quite nice, with well written and engaging characters; the character of Darien Raventhorn was especially well done. I thought the moodiness of Justice was just right, a touch of teen angst to make the character believable but not so much that you really just want to reach out and slap the girl. And what I think really helps bring the story together… the thread of theology throughout the book. The element of theology helps to round out the story and it showcases the main character’s inner strength.
All of this points to a writer who knows her craft as well as her audience. I am quite looking forward to the next book in the series. That says a lot, coming from a girl who reads, writes, and bleeds noir.
Good job, Linda… Brava! Now get busy on Book Two. You kind of left us on a ledge here, girl!
Dear Internet: It’s Me, Avery: Avery Fowler 2.0 Series, Book 1 is Jennifer Ammoscato’s breakout debut novel that will leave you in stitches and with tDear Internet: It’s Me, Avery: Avery Fowler 2.0 Series, Book 1 is Jennifer Ammoscato’s breakout debut novel that will leave you in stitches and with the realization that you’re either going to have to work on those Kegels or stop by the Depends aisle of your local supermarket. Because putting down Dear Internet: It’s Me, Avery is simply not an option.
Smart, funny, sassy, snarky and at times irreverent, Avery Fowler is the best friend we all want (or is that just me, dear reader?).
With her life turning into a cliché… cheating husband (they always go for the younger blonde, don’t they?)… the new boss-from-hell who, if she were a cartoon, would have a balloon over her head that reads “I drown kittens and knit their skins into placemats for my dinner parties.”… a career headed in the wrong direction… Avery does the only thing a girl can do. She gets a life coach. But where does one find a life coach that is a good match for one with Avery’s unique personality (read "quirks and foibles")? The Yellow Pages? Recommendation from a friend? Noooooo….!
Avery turns to the Internet because, well… because the Internet can fix anything, right? I mean, if it’s on the Internet…. right?
Enter Clementine, Avery’s ‘life advisor’ from HowTo.Com. Clementine soon becomes, unwittingly, Avery’s partner-in-crime as Avery takes (read "ignores") much of Clementine’s advice and sets out to ‘fix’ things in her life and when things go from bad to worse…
Well, I can’t say more… that would be a spoiler.
I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard! I already have a reputation on the train as that crazy lady who laughs out loud for seemingly no reason and Dear Internet: It’s Me, Avery had me laughing with each page turn.
Jen Lancaster and Sophie Kinsella… move over because there’s a new funny lady on the block. Her name is Jennifer Ammoscato and she is bringing it ‘live and unplugged’! Jennifer brings her characters to life with a verve and wit that you just don't see a lot of in today's rom/com - chick-lit. They are sharply drawn and all-too human, a reflection of people some of us know all too well. The dialogue is unforced and spot-on and flows seamlessly with the story. Jennifer gets high marks indeed for her skills as a storyteller.
Hmmm… I have a sudden craving for a chocolate chip muffin. Darn you, Avery! You're gonna make me fat!
Dear Internet: It’s Me, Avery: Avery Fowler 2.0 Series, Book 1 is a ‘can’t-put-down’ must-read that I can’t recommend highly enough. You’ll want to be careful reading it on the bus or train though, lest you miss your stop (oh, surely I am not the only person that has ever happened to. Don’t judge me, blame Avery… err, I mean Jennifer. *wink*).
“I LOVE you, Avery Fowler!”
Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw 9 November 2015 (Writing under a large mushroom somewhere in the Pacific Northwest)...more
Disclaimer: I received, at my request, an advance copy of this book from the publisher. This in no manner or form had any bearing on my review. ThankDisclaimer: I received, at my request, an advance copy of this book from the publisher. This in no manner or form had any bearing on my review. Thank you. vmls
In this slick, fast-paced noir thriller, Richard Godwin brings the same verve and compelling narrative style that is the trademark of all of his writing, crossing genres as effortlessly as one crosses a street. Stories with sharply drawn characterizations, crisp dialogue and action that keep the reader moving as the suspense builds to its inevitable conclusion.
Wrong Crowd is a voyeuristic view of one man’s desires and the passion, if I may use such a mundane word to describe a woman who is anything but ordinary, which drives him back to a life he had thought left behind. But, to paraphrase a character in a popular American movie.... "They keep pulling me back."
That passion is Maxine. A woman who demands little and gives all. A woman whose very existence consumes Claude. Every waking moment. Every second of sleep.
Desire is a powerful force.
Claude is a man with desires... appetites… waking dreams. And neither Russian gangsters nor cheap East End hoods are going to come between Claude and the woman he would possess. Totally. At any cost.
And with each line Claude crosses, there is a little cut to his soul, a blood trail leading back to…
Ahh, but one does not want to reveal too much, does one? I will say this about Claude…
The adage 'the means justify the ends' has never been more apropos than in Wrong Crowd as Claude plumbs the very depths of his soul in his quest.
Wrong Crowd is an erotic tour de force, interwoven with cheap but deadly Russian mobsters, East End low-lifers and one man's erotic desires brought to life as only Richard Godwin can do. Godwin is like a knowing lover, his tales leaves one sated, yet eager for the next encounter.
Memorable characters, fast-paced action and more than a little ‘undercurrent’ of sex, Wrong Crowd delivers and will leave even the most die-hard reader breathless.
I recommend without reservation, Wrong Crowd. Richard Godwin often surprises, but never disappoints.
Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw 1 October 2015 (Writing under a large mushroom somewhere in the Pacific Northwest)...more
When reality becomes so dark, brittle and confining... so tortured and twisted... and there is no escape... where does one go?
Dale Helix can't wake upWhen reality becomes so dark, brittle and confining... so tortured and twisted... and there is no escape... where does one go?
Dale Helix can't wake up. He is caught in a dream ‘cum’ nightmare. A dream that is both exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. A nightmare that is freeing and soul-twisting from one breath to the next.
Dale Helix is caught in a dream that has given him purpose... a raison d 'etre. A dream... a portent of the hero the world needs.
But is it?
Or is it a waking, walking nightmare?
Is Dale so consumed by his own paranoia... brought on by his own failings as both a man and a husband and father... that his mind has constructed its own reality in which he is alternately the 'everyman hero' who will go to any extreme to save society from itself and the 'fallen' for whom no amount of penance can bring redemption?
Dale's world is the penultimate dystopic society, a 'brave new world' shaped by the apathy of generations past and mankind's surrender of will. Of self.
Right up to the very end, I still could not decide. Was the only thing 'real' the madness of a man who created an world in his own head... a world he could save... or watch slide into oblivion.
Or... has Richard constructed within these pages a dystopic world beyond anything contemplated by Aldous Huxley, George Orwell or P.D. James?
Richard Godwin brings such a reality to life in Paranoia and the Destiny Programme, a perfect blend of horror / erotica / science fiction / psychological dystopia… in other words…
Signature Godwin… unmistakably Richard.
I recommend Paranoia and the Destiny Programme without reservation.
Godwin at his finest!
Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw 6 July 2015 (writing under a large mushroom somewhere in the Pacific Northwest) ...more
(Reviewer's note - My review does not show as a 'verified purchase' on Amazon because my review copy was a gift from the author. This in no way has an(Reviewer's note - My review does not show as a 'verified purchase' on Amazon because my review copy was a gift from the author. This in no way has any bearing on my review. Those who know me know that I will not review a book I have not read, nor can I be induced to provide a review that is not honest. Thank you. vmls)
Richard Godwin brings in Confessions of a Hit Man, not a psychopath... the protagonist 'type' that predominates much of his work (The Apostle, Mr. Glamour, Meaningful Conversations, and a good body of his shorter stories)... but a character who is both more human and humane.
A point Richard makes in all of his stories, besides the more obvious ones relevant to a particular tale, is that we... regardless of class or upbringing... all have more than a tinge of sociopathy to our psychological make-up. We are all to some degree 'damaged'. Even the much-written 'everyman', humankind's 'anti-hero hero'.
In Confessions of a Hit Man, Richard's protagonist, Jack is no exception. Ex-Royal Marine commando (someone, I can't recall who now, once said that anyone who serves in the military, for patriotic or other reasons, is a sociopath. To a lesser degree than some, but sociopathic, nonetheless), Jack has a 'skill set' that makes him well-suited for a person whose 'life-view' has been altered by the realities of the world, but who still believes in certain fundamental principles of a civilised and progressive society.
Jack tells himself at first that it - the 'hit' - will be only the once and that the ends justify the means. Jack has, you see, an underlying philosophy. He believes in justice more than he believes in the law. He sees justice as black and white, and the law as having shades of grey. Paedophile, necrophile, murderer, sadists, psychopaths all... may have escaped the long arm of the law, but they'll soon enough meet their maker. Jack, you see, doesn't follow the 'niceties' of the law. And with each hit, Jack's proficiency only grows, adapting to each new situation as needed.
But, unfortunately, Jack and his little 'enterprises' have not escaped the attention of some very corrupt people in very high places. And when a woman, the first in a long, long time that has touched a place in Jack's heart he had thought lost forever... things get more a bit complicated for Jack. Dames will do that.
Confessions of a Hit Man is told in first-person narrative (Richard 'humanizing' a character some would consider a monster), a narrative that is tight and well-written, fast-paced and brilliant. Richard's writing, with its plots and sub-plots running like a fine-tuned engine, pulls the reader in immediately and keeps them there throughout, often at breakneck speed, building the suspense in true Godwin fashion.
With his characteristic wit, turn-of-phrase, and insight to the human condition, Richard brings to his audience another sure 'hit', if you'll pardon the pun. His spot-on psychology of a professional assassin does make one wonder though. When he's not writing, what exactly does Mr. Godwin do with himself? Hmmmm...
Once again, Richard Godwin brings his imprimatur to that dark place known as noir... and the reader is not disappointed! I recommend this book without reservation!
Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw (Writing under a large mushroom, somewhere in the Pacific Northwest) ...more
From pothole to published author, Torture is an amazing and intimate journey... a journey of soul-searching and redemption. A journey possible only byFrom pothole to published author, Torture is an amazing and intimate journey... a journey of soul-searching and redemption. A journey possible only by the grace of an angel and one woman's indomitable spirit.
When Lori Nelson steps in a pothole on her street, virtually destroying her foot and shattering her soul, life as she knows it over. Or so she thinks. But, it seems, every time that inner voice says "I can't"... Lori discovers that she can. Souls and bones heal, but it takes time.
It isn't easy. It isn't pretty. It is long, slow torture. Telling herself every day, for days and weeks on end, that she can't, her own mind and body... guided by an angel named Graham... proves the lie to all those negative thoughts and feelings.
Torture is a frank... often brutal, often intimate... and transformative story. An experience that only a person with the keen insight of not just herself, but the human spirit, that Lori has could possibly tell. Interjected with equal doses of honesty, psychology and humour, Torture is a must-read for anyone who has ever doubted themselves in the face of adversity.
Brava, Lori... brava!
Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw (Writing under a large mushroom, somewhere in the Pacific Northwest)...more
When one looks back on Richard Godwin's writing career, Meaningful Conversations will, I have no doubt of this, be named one of the author's most impoWhen one looks back on Richard Godwin's writing career, Meaningful Conversations will, I have no doubt of this, be named one of the author's most important works and an extraordinary contribution to the genre of psychological horror and contemporary noir fiction.
Bertrand Maver may not serve up pan-seared human brain with chianti and fava beans, but he is more than a match for Lecter and in Meaningful Conversations, Richard unleashes a psychopath Thomas Harris only wishes he had written.
Richard's unique wit and brilliant turn-of-phrase are showcased perfectly in Meaningful Conversations and as I have said before... his writing never disappoints.
The pacing of Meaningful Conversations leaves one breathless at times as the madness of the man behind the cello increases almost exponentially, struggling to keep up with Bertrand's psychoses - don't you just love a multi-faceted psychopath?
One thing that particularly stood out for me in Meaningful Conversations - aside of course from the fact that Richard's writing is bloody brilliant! - is the metaphor of the lipstick and man's domination of / dominion over 'weaker' women; although, this is really only part of the metaphor. Now, before some of you get your kit bunched up, no, I am NOT saying women are weak or that man is the stronger of the sexes and if that is all you got out of my words, you need to go back and re-read the book.
Others before me have made the literary comparisons to some of the greats of the last two centuries so I won't go on about that here, other than to say that they are all spot on!
Richard's tense narrative, interwoven with pathos, humour, erotica and psychopathy, make Meaningful Conversations a story that will long be remembered, discussed and dissected. And a definite 'must-read'!
Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw (Writing under a large, rain-drenched mushroom, somewhere in the Pacific Northwest)...more
(Reviewer's note: I received, upon request, a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher, Howard Books - a division of Simon & Schuster, i(Reviewer's note: I received, upon request, a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher, Howard Books - a division of Simon & Schuster, in exchange for my honest review. vmls)
Fame... one's own or that of a friend or family... and the price that we are willing to pay to protect that fame, coupled with being sexually abused as a young teen set young Anny Donewald on a course... on a journey... of self-destruction that very nearly claimed her soul forever.
Dancing with the Devil tells the heart-wrenching story of a young woman caught up in the world of drugs, sex trafficking, prostitution and trade and her journey to and through that dark, dangerous world that has claimed literally tens of thousands of lives... many to the point of death and many to a life in which death would have been a welcome release from the hell on Earth they found themselves in.
It begins innocently enough... amateur night at a small time strip club. A few bucks... some free drinks are the 'prize'... and 'stories' to tell your friends later ... just another Saturday night, right?
But, wait... that wasn't the beginning of Anny's long dark night - a night that would last for years. No, for Anny the darkness began the first time she was abused by one of the players on her father's college basketball team.
For far, far too many women, their own journey into darkness began - will begin - the same way. Sexually abused at a young age by, not a stranger, but someone known... someone they are close to. Someone they trusted. And like Anny, their guilt and shame over what had been done to them made their own abuse a secret. One, as Anny says, had to be kept at all costs!
For Anny, that night was the beginning of a nightmare that seemed would never end. Guilt and shame overwhelmed her, robbing her of self-esteem, self-worth... robbing her of hope. And just when Anny feels that everything is lost... that she has used up all her chances at life... she has lost everything and everyone... save one... she ever loved or cared about... and she has finally hit rock bottom... and there is nowhere left to go...
A spark inside Anny refuses to die and a tiny voice inside her... a whimper almost lost in her dark despair... "help me... please!"
And God hears that plea... that tiny prayer... and He answers! God picks up Anny and touches her in such a soul-deep way that only our Creator... our Father... our Healer... our Redeemer... can.
Even after all the things Anny has done... after all the times that she turned away from God... all the times she set aside what she had read in the Bible... been told by friends... the messages she heard in church...
Even after all the times Anny turned her back on God... when she finally called out to Him.... He answered. Without hesitation... without condemnation... without any conditions... God answered Anny.
He lifted her up from the darkness and showed her light. He showed Anny his purpose for her.
That moment marked the beginning of Anny's next journey... one of salvation and redemption... one of hope and a message. A journey that would set her on a path of ministry that would come to touch many, many lives... and bring the message of Christ our savior to other lost souls. A message of love... of hope... of grace and mercy to countless 'lost souls', because this was Anny's calling.
It hasn't been an easy journey and I think Anny would be the first one to tell you that her journey is far from over.
At one point in the book, Anny relates something Jesus said to her. "Don't let people tell you who I am; let me show you who I am."
Anny doesn't tell us who Jesus is. She shows us. Her amazing story... from her 'fall from grace' all those years ago to where she is now... her salvation and redemption... the ministry known as Eve's Angels that she began... is an amazing testimony of God's love and of His grace and mercy.
Anny, through God's grace and with the support and encouragement of her cousin Carrie, tells an amazing, riveting and at times heart-stopping story of her journey through darkness and her divine rescue from the sex industry. Anny's open, frank words lay bare a world of depravity... a world no one wants to acknowledge exists... a world that isn't spoken of in polite company and only obliquely referenced in churches. A world that makes us squirm in our seats and change the television channel.
But more than that, it is a testimony of God's amazing grace and healing... and His unconditional, never-ending, never changing love. It is a reminder that we are all His children and there is nothing we can do... no hole so deep or dark or depraved that we find ourselves in... that He can't lift us out of.
Anny Donewald is living proof of that. She is also proof that the 'cycle' can be broken. That is part of the message of Eve's Angels, the ministry that she founded.
It doesn't matter how you got where you are. God will bring you home.
Dancing With The Devil is one of those rare reads that is hard to put down. It is told in such a compelling manner and voice that one could easily finish the book in a single sitting. I recommend this book without reservation.
Dancing For The Devil should be on everyone's 'must-read' list!
Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw (writing under a large mushroom, somewhere in the Pacific Northwest) ...more
(Reviewer's note - I received a complimentary copy of the Audible book in exchange for an honest review.)
I don't read romance, although I am a hopeles(Reviewer's note - I received a complimentary copy of the Audible book in exchange for an honest review.)
I don't read romance, although I am a hopeless romantic. I don't read paranormal, although I do have my own vampyre character, who totally defies stereotype.
I don't read paranormal romances.
But... I am always open to new genres. One can't have an open mind if it closed to some things.
For a 'first-timer' to the paranormal/romance genre, Accepting the Moon is a wonderful introduction to the world of werewolves and vampires and how they intermingle and interact with 'humans'. I do know a bit of the mythology surrounding vampires and werewolves and I am glad to see Kristie stepping outside the stereotype of these two mythical (?) creatures to bring a thoroughly engrossing tale, and a very promising series, to her readers.
The author weaves a tale both captivating and promising, pulling the reader along with almost non-stop suspense and action. Yet, she doesn't bog the reader down in a lot of useless 'stuff' or lose the reader in one-too-many plot twists/turns. The story is paced very well, pulling the reader but not dragging them or leaving behind.
Kristie tells the story in three voices... the three main characters - Mena, Jackson and Phoenix... weaving backstory seamlessly into the present moment. I hesitate to go too much into the story itself and spoil it for others, but I will say that I received a few surprises as I read through - or, rather listened - the story and came away quite impressed. As well as completely captivated!
The author's storytelling prowess is a testament to that.
Accepting the Moon is skillfully written, weaving characters and plot to bring the reader a story long remembered after the last page is read.
And wanting more, I might add.
Accepting the Moon is a very well-written prequel to a promising new series - MOONRISING - by the incredibly talented writer and author, K.S. Haigwood and I recommend this book as well as the upcoming series without reservation.
Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw (writing under a large mushroom somewhere in the Pacific Northwest) ...more
Lily Childs shows once again why she is the Queen of horror/urban fantasy. Within Wet Walls is a wonderfully crafted story... dark and dripping with eLily Childs shows once again why she is the Queen of horror/urban fantasy. Within Wet Walls is a wonderfully crafted story... dark and dripping with erotica... necrotica... fantasy... a thirsting for life at all costs... told only as Lily can. Within Wet Walls is a stunning tapestry of death, desire, drugs and disrepute... woven from the rich fabric of Lily's ever fertile imagination.
Wealdstone is a stately old manor of indeterminate age... weathering through seasons of repute and seasons of disrepute, but one thing remains constant...
The dark secrets that lie within the walls of Wealdstone. The dark, deadly secrets. The creatures... the spirits... that roam the rooms and corridors of the old manor. The beings... living but long dead that become the 'life blood' for those dark secrets whose 'lives' are measured not in hours and days, but seasons... seasons of man.
Beings who 'live' in the exquisiteness of death. Beings who 'taste the terror' of their....
Oh, but let's not be spoiling it here, eh?
No other writer I know holds a candle to Lily when it comes to telling a tale guaranteed to leave one stifling a scream... sleeping, albeit a most restless sleep, with a night light on for nights on end... and the echo of her words remaining long, long after the last page is turned and the cover closed.
Brava, Lily... Brava!
Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw (writing under a large mushroom, somewhere in the Pacific Northwest)...more
You can run from your past for only so long. For every five steps forward you take, your past takes six, until the distance between tomorrow, today anYou can run from your past for only so long. For every five steps forward you take, your past takes six, until the distance between tomorrow, today and yesterday is no more than the space between heartbeats.
************ Harper has a secret.
One that only three people in the whole world know. One of those three can't reveal Harper's secret... at least not any longer. Another won't reveal Harper's secret because to do so would reveal his own secret, and he will go to any lengths to prevent that. And the third person...?
She doesn't know yet that the secret she possesses is not the secret she is hiding.
She doesn't know yet that time and distance cannot stop the power of a secret.
She doesn't know yet that no amount of penance can still the power of a secret.
But she is about to find out. And when she does, the carefully-crafted life that she has now will be irrevocably changed.
Harper has a secret.
But she is not the only one.
Adri has a secret.
One that only three people in the whole world know. One of those three can't reveal Adri's secret... at least not any longer. Another won't reveal Adri's secret because to do so would reveal her own, something she is determined to prevent the disclosure of. And the third person...?
She doesn't know yet that the secret she possesses is not the secret she is hiding.
She doesn't know yet that time and distance cannot stop the power of a secret.
She doesn't know yet that no amount of penance can still the power of a secret.
She is about to find out. And when she does, the carefully-crafted life that she has painstakingly built will be changed, and there is no turning back.
Adri has a secret.
But she is not the only one.
************ In The Beautiful Daughters, the hugely talented writer Nicole Baart combines her gift for rich, textured prose with her gift of compassion and empathy for the human condition to weave a tale that is both as old as time itself and as new and fresh as this morning's sunrise.
The Beautiful Daughters is the story of two daughters... daughters not by blood, but by a bond as strong as blood. It is a story of secrets. It is a story of penance. Of redemption. And second chances.
The Beautiful Daughters is the poignantly moving and powerful story of two young women and their journey through present and past to find their future.
With her keen understanding of the human condition and a seemingly bottomless well of compassion for humanity in all its shades, Nicole tackles a subject that – sorry, no spoilers here! – will make some people uncomfortable. But, as Nicole knows all too well, fiction is a reflection of reality… one that is sometimes sharper and more defined… and writers are more than just storytellers. We are chroniclers of humanity.
I recommend The Beautiful Daughters without reservation. This is a story that will stay with you long after the last page has been turned.
Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw 16 August 2015 (Writing under a large mushroom somewhere in the Pacific Northwest)