Monday, May 9, 2016

BOOK REVIEW - THE PURE AND THE HATED - by Richard Godwin

The Pure and the HatedThe Pure and the Hated by Richard Godwin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review of it. Thank you. vmls

On the surface one might think The Pure and The Hated a simple straight-forward tale of loss and the serendipitous crossing of paths with psychopath.

One might think that... one who was not familiar with the writings of Richard Godwin.

There is nothing ‘simple’ in the tales Richard puts to paper.

Shepard Butler lost his son in a hunting accident several years ago and with that loss also came the loss of self and a distancing between him and his wife, Mary. A 'gap', if you will, in their relationship neither seems able to close.

Grief can be an incredibly destructive force.

Shepard is also a man whose past is about to catch up with him.

With a vengeance.

Temple Jones is a psychopath. Of that there can be no doubt. But he is more than just a cold-blooded, sadistic killer. The psychopath usually targets a 'type', not a specific individual; but not so with Temple Jones. The psychology of Jones, like that of many of the characters Richard creates, is never ‘textbook’ and in Temple Jones the author remains true to his style in bringing to life a character both fascinating and frightening.

The Pure and The Hated is a taut drama set in the Vermont woods. Moody and atmospheric - I could almost hear the crunch of footsteps in the snow - Richard's latest offering is somewhat of a departure from the dark psychological/horror urban thrillers he does so well, with nothing lost in the translation. There is a poignancy to The Pure and The Hated so subtle as to almost be an undercurrent in the story. The themes of loss, revenge, forgiveness, redemption are explored with a profoundness and sometimes brutal honesty that will be familiar, and welcome, to fans of the author

Some lesser writers overuse plot twists to the point of cliche.

Not so Richard Godwin.

The twists in this dark little morality play are timed perfectly and executed with chilling certainty. This is 'trademark' Godwin and just one more reason his stories are so compelling and memorable.

The 'duality' of man is well on display here as Shepard battles not only with a ruthless killer but the man he himself is and the man he wants to be; the need to punish and to be punished. The desire for forgiveness and the need to carry the burden of guilt;

As Shepard delves deeper and deeper into the mystery of the man bent on destroying his family, he has to come to terms with his own past and how his actions then planted a seed that has now come to fruition.

With deadly fury.

The Pure and The Hated offers a view in to the soul of a man… and the monster he has wrought. Richard Godwin weaves a tale that captivates and draws the reader in from the first page, often times leaving the reader in fearful anticipation of what will come next, but unable to put the book down.

Not for the faint of heart, but then what of this author’s vast repertoire is?, I recommend The Pure and The Hated without hesitation.


Thank you,

Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw
8 May 2016


View all my reviews

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

BOOK REVIEW - Richard Godwin: ERSATZ WORLD

Ersatz WorldErsatz World by Richard Godwin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

In Ersatz World, the reader is immediately drawn in by the author’s sharp narrative and incisive dialogue. Sparing of word at times, Ersatz World has a voyeuristic thread throughout, weaving characteristics of noir, erotica, bizarro and science fiction into a tableau that Mr. Godwin does brilliantly… time after time. Richard consistently delivers those stories that our own ‘dark sides’ crave, and he does it with an authority and attention to the frailty of the human condition that only one who is a master of his craft can.

Ersatz World is, among other things, a cautionary tale of man’s reliance and growing submission to technology as well a ‘primer’ on the facets of man’s psyche, which as we see here, is both self-serving and self-destructive.

While battling his own duality… devoted husband and philanderer… publisher Samuel Verso must also deal with both failing business and failing marriage. Duality is a recurring theme throughout the story as Sam struggles between the two. Can he overcome the darkness within himself?

Richard draws a chilling parallel in Ersatz World between Samuel’s need to restructure his publishing business to keep up with technology… to survive… and his wife’s need to restructure herself to satisfy something dark and primal within herself… to survive. The dichotomy at work here is unmistakable and pure Godwin.

The subtle yet not-so-subtle sexuality throughout the story has a pentagonal dimension to it. The players - Sam, Maxine, Belinda and his wife, Phyllis and her fantasy lover – form their own ‘pentagram’, if you will, and the astute reader will not miss the symbolism as the players in this little ‘fete’ do their own ‘dance with the devil’.

Throughout the story the reader is forced to ask him/herself… what is real and what isn’t?

Dark, violent and sexual, yet not without its moments of humour, Ersatz World is an insightful look at one possible future for man.

Will we heed the warning?

Thank you,

Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw

View all my reviews

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

COVER REVEAL AND PRE-ORDER OF ANDROMEDA'S REIGN

Urban Fantasy Romance at its BEST!



Cover Reveal and Pre-Order of Andromeda's Reign by

K. S. Haigwood and Anne Conley


Do you like big books? Andromeda's Reign slides in at just under 170,000 words!

Blurb:

The Moonrising story continues…

The Alpha Lion of Las Vegas, Ace Keller, has luck on his side, at the poker table and with the ladies, calling bluffs and breaking hearts whenever the notion strikes him.

After bonding with the Alpha Wolf of Montgomery, Alabama, fate flips Ace's simple world upside down when he finds himself desiring only one woman in his life — Andromeda. But not only does he want her, he needs her touch in order to live.

The bond forces them to feel each other's emotions and hear each other's thoughts, which wouldn't be a problem except Andromeda is in love with a Master Vampire, and Ace has dark secrets of his own that could put her in danger.






Release Date: May 12, 2016 

Excerpt:


Andromeda's Reign

Chapter 1

Wednesday, February 4th 2015 5:42 p.m. PST

Las Vegas, Nevada

Ace

"Do it again," I demanded.

I could feel Andromeda trying to give up emotionally, as well as physically, but I pushed her harder. I knew what her body and mind were capable of, and we were nowhere near her breaking point. She was a lot stronger than she thought she was.

Our connection, as we both liked to refer to the bond, seemed to be growing stronger, rather than weaker, like Andromeda had hoped it would. She wanted to find a way to reverse the ritual.

I didn't.

She could feel my every emotion and hear my every thought—unless I blocked the telepathy—but it worked both ways, so she could keep me out of her mind, too. Unfortunately, we couldn't block the emotions.

I felt each and every happy memory she'd had with Phoenix and each and every sad moment she'd had without him. The only time she wasn't thinking about him was when we were training. So I planned to make her train. A lot.

This damn rollercoaster of feelings was literally driving me insane. I had never in all my life felt as much as I had in the last week, and I hated it. Me… with one girl… forever… I rolled my eyes at the absurdity that my life had become in only the blink of an eye. But as crazy as that all sounded, and even though I had in no way asked or planned for any of it, I couldn't bring myself to hate the fact that I was finally ready to settle down.

I blocked Andromeda's kick, grabbed her shoe and threw her to her back on the workout mat. Grinning down at furious, pale-green eyes, I offered her my hand.

She huffed as she got to her feet on her own, looking down as she limped away from me. What a terrible actress. Chaos could have done a better job of fooling me.

I shook my head as my hands came up to rest on my hips. "Don't give me that shit. It might work on your wolf cubs or even your boyfriend, but you can't fake it with me, Andra. We're bonded. I know you're not hurt, so don't—"

"I'm tired, Ace—"

"You shouldn't be tired," I sneered. "You slept the whole flight here. But for the sake of a pointless argument, humor me. What are you going to do when you're in battle with an enemy and you get tired? Are you going to limp away? What if I'm not there to kill the fucker for you next time?"

"I never asked for this!" she screamed as she whirled around to glare at me, her beautiful eyes brightened by the tears shimmering in them.

"I didn't, either!" I roared back. She flinched as our emotions tangled together. I knew those tears weren't there because she was sad, because her fury washed over me like I had been doused with boiling water. The rush of it almost hurt. The anger sucked, but I knew anger. I could deal with anger. Anger was my friend. It was the sadness and the heartbreak and the sappy-frilly-frilly I couldn't fucking deal with. Unfortunately for me, Andra seemed to be full to the brim with all that shit.

With more effort than I really wanted to put forth with the mood I was in, I waded through her rage, then through my madness and forced calm over us.

This bond was new to us both, but getting it through her thick head that it would be easier on us if she would dump her boyfriend was like trying to breathe under water. I might have understood her side of the argument a little better if she had been dating the vampire longer than a month, and never mind the fact that two of those weeks she was locked in a silver cage as a wolf. They hadn't even had time to get to know each other. I knew her. She knew me. We had direct contact with each other's thoughts, memories and emotions, yet she wouldn't even consider the idea of us being together on an intimate level. I didn't understand it at all.

After a moment, I held out my hand again. "Come here." I'd be dead and damned before I went to her, not with how she'd been acting since we left Montgomery, Alabama.

She looked down at my hand and set her jaw. I knew she wanted to touch me just as much as I needed her to, but I also knew by her thoughts that she wouldn't without a little more encouragement.

"I know you promised Phoenix that you would try to be happy here with me in Sin City. Do I need to make a call to the High Vampire of Montgomery to let him know you aren't playing fair, Andra? My first attempt at getting him to break things off with you was just that: my first attempt. You may hate me before this is all over and done with between you and your bloodsucker, but, in the end, you will still need me and you won't have him. I can live with that. Can you?"

Her lip quivered, and I nearly caved. I couldn't handle the tears, but I could counteract with a little rage, just enough to give her a taste of how I felt. "Ace—"

"You're mine, Andra. I'm willing to give you some time to let that soak in, but I won't wait long." I hardened my voice to a steely edge, even though she could undoubtedly tell I was serious. She had bonded with me, damn it! She was mine. She didn't belong to some vampire nearly two thousand miles away. And when he got here, he still wouldn't have her completely. I had to tamp down the utter rage at Andra's memories of the vampire in bed with her, his skin sliding against hers, his mouth on my mate's mouth. Fuck. If she wasn't going to realize it on her own, I'd have to push the issue. "He can't have you, Andra. I won't let that happen." I said the last part slowly, maybe for dramatic effect or maybe it was because, deep in my heart, I knew it to be true—I wouldn't let him have her. By the fear in her widening eyes, I could tell she was seeing things from my perspective now. It was about damn time.

"I knew you would do this! I knew you would get me here and try to control me—"

"The only thing I'm trying to do is train you, but you won't stop thinking of him long enough to concentrate on keeping your lovesick ass alive if this were a real situation!"

"Why do I need to learn how to fight so fast? We've barely stopped since we got here. And why haven't you let me in your mind in two days? You shut me out the moment I asked about Justice."

I huffed. I couldn't tell her about Justice yet. If this upset her, I could only imagine how enraged she would be when I told her that I nailed a huge target on her head with our bonding. The worst part was that I knew it before I even did it. I didn't know how to break the news to her without her hating me for it. Hell, I hated me for it. "I'm not ready to talk about it yet."

"Well, I'm not ready to stop missing Phoenix yet," she bit back. "I've only been away from my home for a little more than half a day, Ace. Cut me a little slack."

I guess I was damned and dead, because I took a step forward, reached out and took her hand. The relief was immediate. Our rage subsided and our tempers calmed as if we'd never been angry at all. Our fight seemed so petty now. "I'm sorry. I am trying, Andra, and I will talk to you about Justice soon. I promise. I just have to figure out how to go about doing it the right way."

She nodded as she wrapped her arms around me, and I looked up to the high ceiling, thanking the good Lord above us that He had given me enough sense to apologize. There was no better feeling in the world than when she was in my arms. It felt like heaven. It was new for me—totally unheard of for me—but I was quickly getting used to it. That in itself was mystifying.

"I'll understand," she said, and I lowered my head so that I could whisper in her ear.

"About what?"

"About him. Whatever it is, I'll understand, Ace."

God, if that were only true! Sighing heavily, I said, "I hope you will."

"Were you lovers?"

I blinked rapidly at that. What the fuck? "No!" I had to laugh. Of course she would think something like that! "I've never been intimate with Justice… or any other guy, for that matter," I said in disbelief, and then a smile crept across my face. "I like puss—"

Andra quickly clamped a hand over my mouth. "I hate that word. Call it something else."

I threw my head back and laughed harder than I had in a long time. After I calmed down enough to speak clearly, I said, "What do you call it?"

Her eyes nearly popped out of her head as she blushed, and then those walls swiftly went up, blocking me out of her mind. Damn it! "I'm not telling you what I call my… my…"

"Pussy?"

She slapped my chest, and I laughed. "Stop! That sounds so gross to me."

She did a little shudder-wiggle thing, and I couldn't stop laughing. I'm serious. It was freaking hilarious watching her squirm over a word I'd said in everyday conversation most of my adult life.

"Okay, we won't talk about what you call yours. What do you think I should call it in general? I have to call it something."

"Why do you have to call it anything? People don't go around talking about hoo-has all day long. You could just leave that particular body part out of your vocabulary altogether," she said matter-of-factly.

My eyebrows rose as I stared at her in fascination. "Hoo-has?"

"Well, hoo-has is plural, meaning more than one. Hoo-ha is singular, meaning only one."

Shit! Is she really giving me a grammar lesson on pussy slang?

"I know what singular means, Andra. I'm fairly educated."

"Oh, then there you go. Hoo-ha and hoo-has."

Frowning, I shook my head. "I don't like that word. Call it something else."

She grinned playfully, mimicking my head shake as she turned to walk away, but I grabbed her wrist and pulled her to me, enclosing her in the iron-like frame of my arms. Her skin—coated in a thin sheen of sweat—slid against mine, bringing to mind all sorts of erotic delights, but I only held her tighter. She stiffened, but she was too distracted to keep her walls intact. We were too close and she wasn't as experienced with blocking as I was. I felt her desire for me the exact moment I smelled it.

Not only did the lion in me wake up, but the bonded male in me did, too. I wanted her. Bad. But it was too soon. She still had that vampire on a leash and I hadn't told her my secret. My wants could wait for the perfect time. And there would be a perfect time. I was damn sure of that.

I had her right where I wanted her, though. Her walls were down and she was fully aware of how much she wanted me. The bonding did that to us. The attraction we felt for each other was unavoidable when we were this close. It may have been mean of me to use it to my advantage, but I had to know; she could not leave this room without me knowing. I did exactly what I intended to do from the start and no more. I bent until my lips almost touched hers, and then I dove into her mind. She hadn't even tried to hide it from me. It was right there, for the taking, what she called her Golden Grotto, her Holy Grail or, in her words, hoo-ha.

I smiled as I whispered, "Kitty-cat."

Desire left her eyes as she pushed against me. I let her go with a light chuckle.

"You're an ass, Ace," Andra said as she avoided looking at me. I could feel her embarrassment and guilt. Yes, guilt was there, too. The fucking vampire was cock-blocking me from seventeen-hundred miles away.

There was no need to bring up the fact that she would have willingly let me pet her kitty-cat if I had only kissed her. There was no vampire here for her to run to now. She wouldn't have stopped me, but she would have regretted it. I didn't want her to regret being with me. Ever. I had to play my cards right. There was no folding or losing in this game. I would win.

The gym doors opened, and Slade walked in with Kai, Rogan and Chaos. Chaos ran straight to Andra, and she knelt down to ruffle his ears and baby-talk to him. She was spoiling him, and he was eating it up. I frowned, my mood turning a bit sour at admitting to myself that I was envious of my Rhodesian Ridgeback.

"Great timing, assholes," I grumbled.

Slade's grin was a mile wide as he watched Andra pet my dog, and then his green eyes cut up to mine, his black eyebrows rising in amusement. He thought it was funny as hell that I'd finally met a woman I liked and she wouldn't put out. His words, not mine. And what made it worse, I hadn't even told him. My Beta knew me better than I knew myself most of the time. I guess he could tell by the sexually frustrated look on my mug that I hadn't gotten any—or any worth bragging about—in a while. I was never, ever telling him what Andra called the cockpit. Hoo-ha… What kind of word is that for something so awesome? The fucker would never let me live down how vanilla she was.

Slade nodded to Andra. "Has Ace been a good host? Are you getting settled in okay?"

She smiled shyly as she gave him a curt nod, but her face was still a little pink from the embarrassment I had caused only a few moments earlier, so I closed the distance between us and took her hand. She squeezed my fingers in response, and I winked at Slade.

"I've got it taken care of. She's staying in my room."

All three men did a double-take. My dog even looked at me funny. It didn't surprise me. No female of mine had ever been allowed in my room—not that I kept one for more than a night, but that was beside the point. I took care of my women away from the lion's den. None of the other pride members who lived here were allowed to bring anyone back here with them for some kinky play, either. It was best for everyone if humans didn't know shifters existed. Every Tom, Dick and Harry would grab their pitchforks and hunt us. That's all we needed, a bunch of simple-minded rednecks who didn't understand a damn thing about us, trying to become slayers. That wouldn't do anything except get a bunch of humans killed.

Rogan's whiskey-colored eyes nearly popped out of their sockets. "Huh?"

"Your room?" Kai said as he swept his shaggy blond mop out of his eyes so he could see me with both of his deep blue eyes. "But you—"

"How did I miss that?" Slade said, interrupting Kai. "I thought Olivia had an extra bed in her room that Andra was supposed to sleep in while she stayed here."

Narrowing my eyes at him, I released Andra's fingers so I could drape my arm over her shoulder and pull her closer to me. I already knew she had access to everything about my past, since she'd received all my memories the moment we bonded, but I didn't want these dickweeds making her think she was like those other chicks. "Andra is special, guys. Shut up, will ya?"

The guys just stared at me in disbelief. I wasn't joking, but they were obviously waiting for me to tell them I was. Did they expect me to be a bachelor forever? Of course they did. Four days ago I would have expected that of myself.

Andra snickered, I was guessing at the nervous feeling I was sending her through our connection. "I got settled in just fine, thank you. Though I haven't had much time for rest. Ace has had me training since we arrived."

Slade grinned at her mischievously. "He's easily bribed. Give him something he wants. He'll do whatever you want him to do."

"You can go now," I said, letting the lack of amusement that I felt seep into the tone of my voice.

Andra laughed softly. "I'll have to try that. What would he want?"

Kai snorted. "What does every man want from a woman?"

I looked up to the ceiling and huffed in annoyance when her embarrassment crept over my skin. "Get the hell out of here, guys. We're about to turn in for the night. The rest of the Pride will be here early in the morning to meet Andra."

"Turning in for the night?" Rogan said, and then looked at the other guys, like he was missing something. "We came to tell you it was time to leave for work. None of us are as good as you are, Ace."

A muffled curse passed through my lips as I ran my free hand down my face. "Uh…" I stammered, and Andra turned to look at me, confusion pouring out of her and into me in waves. She was on the verge of freaking out that I might leave her here alone. I forced a smile as I pried my wide eyes away from the guys to look at her. "It is, uh… tonight is poker night, and kind of a tradition I started a few decades ago. I'm pretty good at it, hence why I named my lion Ace. Most of us don't really work around here. We gamble. It's how the bills get paid. And I guess it's my night to make sure we have a place to live next month."

She glanced around the huge gym that was only a small fraction of the house. "You gamble and win enough money to pay for this place?"

"Yeah… and then some. Look, I won't go if you don't want to go, but I'm better than anyone here. We'll lose everything pretty quick if I depend on some of these losers to cover the bills. A few of them lose more than I win sometimes."

"Wait… the chick is coming with us?" Rogan said on a chuckle, and then his expression turned serious. "You're fuckin' joking, right?"

I saw red, but managed to shove Andra out of the way before I shifted—the welcome feel of bones stretching and changing, the fur sprouting, the muscles morphing—and pounced on Rogan. My teeth not-so-tenderly brushed the skin above his jugular where his pulse was pounding hard enough I could hear it. Kai and Slade backed away, but I could sense Slade wanted to interfere, and I suppose that was the only thing that stopped me from biting Rogan's head off.

"Rogan doesn't know about the bond, Ace!" Slade shouted. "Nobody but me and the crew that went with you knows that you're a bonded male now! Don't kill him! Christ! He didn't know any better!" I didn't glance up, but I knew him well enough to know that he was running his fingers through that stark black hair and gripping it hard enough to pull it out by the roots.

"Ace," Andra's startled voice said. "Don't kill him."

I moved my head back enough to close my mouth, and then just stared down into Rogan's eyes as a low growl rumbled up my throat.

"I would advise against ever calling her a chick again if you value your life, Rogan," Slade said on a relieved exhale. "Ace bonded with Andromeda in Alabama. She's your Alpha now, too."

There was cold fear in Rogan's confused eyes. He knew he'd screwed up, but I could tell that he wasn't sure how he'd managed it. The truth was that none of us knew how strong this bonding thing was—well, aside from me and Andra; we knew exactly how tough this bitch was, but I wasn't in the mood to give lessons or talk about it unless bloodshed was involved. I'd let Slade explain it to Rogan. Instead of backing away, I stepped forward, placing one of my back paws on Rogan's groin as I made my way back to Andra.

Howls of agonizing pain issued from behind me as I shifted back to my human form.

Ignoring the scene behind me, I chuckled when Andra held out my shredded gym clothes, her head turned in the opposite direction from my immodesty.

I took the threads and covered myself enough to make her comfortable. "So, how are you at poker?" I said as we walked toward the doors to leave.

She laughed. "I'm better at Blackjack."

"Let's go Double Down then, my dear," I said with a flirtatious grin, and she beamed at me. God, I loved that smile.

"I need to take a shower first," Andra said.

I grinned playfully. "Good. You can shower with me. There's a spot on my back I can never quite reach." She gaped at me, and I nearly busted a gut laughing. "I'm kidding… unless, of course, you want to shower with me. I wouldn't tell you no. I'm nice like that," I said with a wink.

Catching me off guard, she shoved me into the corridor wall, and then laughed when I hit my funny bone and let out a loud curse. "You are not showering with me, Ace."

I scowled as I rubbed my elbow, until I glanced up to see her walking away from me. That high ponytail and the look of her ass in those workout shorts had me forgetting all about the sharp pain shooting from my elbow to my wrist. I bit my lip as I watched her hips sway, and then I ran to catch up with her before she noticed I had started panting.
She might not shower with me tonight, but she would soon. She would soon.
©Copyright 2016 by Kristie Haigwood


Special prices set for the other books in this series:

Accepting the Moon - Prequel $0.99


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Midnight Moonrising - Book 1 $2.99


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Saturday, February 20, 2016

BOOK REVIEW - Savage Highway - Richard Godwin

Savage HighwaySavage Highway by Richard Godwin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

DISCLAIMER: I received, at my request, an ARC of Savage Highway from the publisher. This has in no way influenced my review. I give only honest reviews; my reputation depends on it. Thank you. vmls

Richard Godwin’s Savage Highway is an intense, shocking and riveting blend of contemporary noir fiction and Faustian drama. Sparingly drawn characters and short, sharp dialogue, trademarks of the master storyteller that Richard is, tell a story so brutal and visceral one hopes that such things could take place only in the realm of the fiction writer’s dark mind.

The thing about fiction though… it all springs from at least a grain of truth.

The setting for Savage Highway is a desolate area of the American Southwest where a group of men, yearning for “more than earthly meat and drink" take their fill from the lost souls unfortunate enough to stumble across their path. These men, from both sides of the law, have little regard for women, seeing in them little more than an entrée to satisfy their twisted appetites.

From the beginning of the story and Patty’s ‘encounter’ in a truck stop restroom to the startling conclusion, the pace of Savage Highway is not unlike that of one journeying one of the highways in the American Southwest. One moment moving at breakneck speed as the protagonists race to prevent another death… or escape their own… and then slowing for the curves and hills of the rolling landscape ahead as Richard introduces another twist and turn to the story.

The duality of several of the characters… constantly shifting between responsible, law-abiding citizens and sexual sadists… is something that the author does quite well and is one reason his stories are so absorbing and memorable. The characters Richard draws are indelible and one of my favorite parts of any Godwin tale.

Well-paced action, sharp dialogue, and terse descriptions of both character and place make Savage Highway a story not easy to put down and will leave imagery in the reader’s head long after.

I hesitate to use such over-played phrases as ‘pulse-pounding’, but it is apt in this case as Richard brings us a story filled with suspense, danger and virtually non-stop action. If this doesn’t get the adrenaline surging through your veins, you’re probably dead and just haven’t fallen over yet.

Savage Highway is ‘five-star’ in every sense of the word and well-deserving of accolades. This is classic noir… taut and unapologetic.

Savage Highway is Richard Godwin at his ‘noirest’. A must-read story I recommend without hesitation.


Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw
27 January 2016


View all my reviews

Monday, January 25, 2016

BOOK REVIEW - A Raven's Touch, Book One in the series A Raven Wing - Linda Bloodworth

A Raven's TouchA Raven's Touch by Linda Bloodworth
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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.

And vampires.

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.

Her birthright.

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!

Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw
23 January, 2016

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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

BOOK REVIEW - Wrong Crowd - Richard Godwin

Wrong  CrowdWrong Crowd by Richard Godwin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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. 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)

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Sunday, August 16, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: The Beautiful Daughters - Nicole Baart

The Beautiful DaughtersThe Beautiful Daughters by Nicole Baart
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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 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.

Thank you,

Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw
16 August 2015
(Writing under a large mushroom somewhere in the Pacific Northwest)




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