Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Twilight (Twilight, #1)Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I surprised myself... I actually liked TWILIGHT more than I thought I was going to... in spite of its numerous grammatical faux pas.  Or, perhaps, because of?

I do have to remind myself that TWILIGHT is written for the young adult demographic and the level of... how shall I say this... sophistication and technical writing is appropriate for that audience.

TWILIGHT is addictive... I will give the author that.  Having now written four books in her vampire/werewolf series, Stephenie Meyer seems to have found a formula that works... a simple story line... simple, if rather 'un-complex' characters... and a somewhat blurred line between good and evil.  Nothing too deep that the average reader would get mired in.

Her treatment of the vampyre is a bit predictable, but then... I don't suppose she has had much experience with them to have any real understanding.  I find it odd though, that having given the Cullen clan a degree of humanity, the author refers to them as less than human... I refuse to refer to a vampyre as a 'creature'!

I am now just a bit more than half through with the second book in the series, and likely will finish all four... unless the author 'runs out of steam' between the second and fourth books.

I can't in good conscience give TWILIGHT more than three stars... some might say that was being generous, but I honestly did like the book.  I just can't get past the predictable and rather formulaic story line.  And, I do think some of the writing is a bit sub-par, even for a young audience.

Veronica Marie Lewis Shaw
Portland, Oregon
28 December 2011

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Apostle RisingApostle Rising by Richard Godwin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Noir/Horror has a new ‘master’… his name is Richard Godwin.

Having been introduced to Richard’s dark telling of the depravity the human soul is capable of in his Pony Equus stories in Pulp Metal Magazine, I thought I was prepared for Apostle Rising… oh, foolish girl!

The third night in, reading Apostle Rising, I awoke in that sinister, slivery hour between midnight and pre-dawn… from a horrible nightmare… heart pounding in my chest, body drenched in sweat and a scream threatening to spill over my lips… an itching between my shoulder blades and the image of a dark, silvery blade dripping with blood locked in my brain.  Oh… my… god!

Yes… Apostle Rising is THAT good!

Apostle Rising is a police procedural/psychological thriller of the first order… dark, twisted and suspenseful. Richard gives nothing away in his narrative… no red herrings… no leading one down the garden path.  From the very first page, one knows this is not going to be a pretty ride.   Richard’s writing has a dark, sinister feel that, for fans of crime/horror, is irresistible to put down and impossible to ignore.   His rich, dark, imaginative prose draws one in much like one of those water vortices in the northern Atlantic… undeniably powerful and compelling.

Ahh… but we were talking about a novel, not water phenomena, weren’t we?

More than a quarter century previous, Detective Chief Inspector Frank Castle of the Metropolitan police was unable to mark ‘closed’ to the Woodlands Killer case; a case which almost destroyed Castle’s career and left him with deep psychological scars.

The ghosts of those long unsolved murders from decades past still haunt Frank, and now with what appears to be a copycat killer on the loose, DCI Castle, along with his new partner, DI Jacki Stone, is once again drawn into a madman’s dark desires and lusts.

I am trying to be careful here, and not reveal too much, so… this might be a good place to add a SPOILER ALERT!  Proceed at your own risk… you have been warned!

As the body count mounts, Castle and Stone become enmeshed in a nightmare that may very well end both their careers, as well as Jacki’s marriage.   At times, Frank seems either unaware or unable (or, unwilling?) to escape the monster’s(s) influence, so blind has he become in his singular quest to bring a killer to justice and redeem himself.

Castle’s ‘custom’ with the ‘ladies of the night’ reveals not only the frailty of his psyche, but also his determination to see justice… at whatever cost!

Will Frank become the monster he seeks to destroy?  That is a question the reader is forced to ask themselves, as we watch helplessly, the dark metamorphosis of a once proud and honourable man.  DCI Castle seems only too willing to cross the line between good and evil in a desperate attempt to stop a madman.

One wants (perhaps, though… this is only me)… feels the need to… to put the book down occasionally… if only to give their mind a brief respite from the tension… the dark horror… the mesmerizing litany of the mysterious Order’s perverted agenda… the stark look into the mind of a killer(s) so lost in his (?) own twisted, evil psychosis that one feels a shiver of fear run down their spine, and wonders… not for the first time, perhaps… if they remembered to set the dead-bolt.

The dark-haired girl tried to run… escape… but the air surrounding her was thick… it had a weight that pulled her down…

Oops!  Sorry… little flashback to that nightmare I had earlier (shudder).

Too often in reviews, comparisons between authors come out sounding trite or forced… I tend to stay away from them myself, unless…

Apostle Rising is how [Stephen] King would write if he did noir… the relentless, escalating horror of Richard’s deftly written prose leaves one on the edge… breathless… having serious second thoughts perhaps, about taking that evening walk unaccompanied.

Engrossing, beautifully written horror… with the technical detail of a first class police procedural, Apostle Rising is a ‘must-read’ for any fan of crime fiction or horror.

A final thought on Richard Godwin’s debut novel -

I have read countless books, seen countless movies… the ‘monsters’ in those pale in comparison to the walking evil in Apostle Rising.

Thank you,

Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw
Portland, Oregon
26 December 2011

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Whip Smart: The True Story of a Secret LifeWhip Smart: The True Story of a Secret Life by Melissa Febos

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(There may be a spoiler or two in here – don’t say I didn’t warn you.)

Firstly, let me say that I found Melissa Febos’ WHIP SMART to be extremely well-written and knowledgeable… this is truly an unforgettable read.   With only an occasional discordant note, Ms Febos' narrative has a ring of truth that makes WHIP SMART a compelling, thought-provoking, and compassionate telling of human frailty… of human need… of human imperfection.  I recommend this book without hesitation.

The discordant note(s)? The imperfections which led me to upgrade my rating of the book?

The back cover of WHIP SMART reads (paraphrasing) – “Whip Smart is the story of Melissa’s journey into a shocking double life [as a college student and a professional dominatrix]. And she spares no one – clients, co-workers, herself…”

Oh, but wait a minute.  It seems Ms. Febos does spare herself… to a degree.  In characterizing her ‘work’ in the mid-town sex dungeons as ‘a professional dominatrix’, Melissa is less than honest with herself… and her readers.  And, disappointingly, she does not correct this misperception.

This was really my only objection with the book.  Well, there is one other thing, but it is really more of an observation than an objection with the story Melissa tells… and tells quite well, I might add.

All through the book, I waited for Melissa to have her ‘epiphany’.   Either the epiphany never came, or she chose not to share it with her readers.

I do not doubt for a moment that everything that Ms. Febos wrote about is true... I am nonetheless disappointed that she is not being as honest with herself as I would have expected in a ‘tell-all memoir’.   I don’t know - I have a suspicion - if this is deliberate or Melissa is simply in denial.  I just expected more honesty, in the midst of all that truth.

I do not say this to be mean or judgmental… it is simply fact.   Allow me to offer up a couple of definitions -

Prostitution – the act or practice of providing sexual services to another person in return for payment.

Dominatrix - a woman who takes the dominant role in bondage, discipline and sadomasochism - having near-absolute control over the submissive.   The submissive does just that… submits.  He, or she, does not ‘direct’ the dominatrix.

One can color it how they will, but what went on in those dungeons appears to have been more prostitution than domination… true domination.  It can hardly be called domination if one simply does what another person has paid to have done to them.  Is there really that much difference between paying a person to fellate them to orgasm, than to pay a person to whip or spank them to orgasm?   Both acts meet the first definition.   One does wonder though… about all those clients… how many of them went about the rest of their day thinking how cleverly they have reversed the roles?

If Ms. Febos were to be completely honest, she would preface her book with something along the lines of - “I spent four years as a prostitute in New York City, taking money from men who obtained sexual satisfaction from humiliation and pain, instead of the more conventional acts of sex. At the same time, I worked toward earning my degree, became addicted to drugs (in an attempt to numb myself to the fact that I was, in essence, selling my body so that other people could ‘get off’) and subsequently became a recovering drug addict; ultimately going on to teach creative writing at various institutions.”

I mean… if we want to take away all the pretty words; that pretty much sums things up.

The epiphany I waited for?

Just this… it became glaringly obvious fairly early in the book, that Melissa was not the ‘dominatrix’, but was instead, the ‘dominated’ – the submissive in the twisted symbiosis of two souls in need.

Consider this…

If someone gives you money and tells you exactly what to do… and you do it… who is the one in control?   And, who is the one being controlled?  Who is the one being dominated?

Who was… ‘whip smart’?

Did I miss the ‘mea culpa’?  No… I’m simply not going to spend a lot of time on it.  Drug addiction and recovery seem to be formulaic as far as memoirs go, and Melissa’s was about what one would expect.   Blame is portioned out… perhaps not equally, but the interesting thing about blame and responsibility… they evolve… until what was once an unclosed circle… is complete.

Some have noted that Melissa’s telling of her addiction was a “little too ‘all about me’”.  Of course it is… isn’t that what memoirs are all about?

It sounds as if Melissa has, as much as possible, made her peace with all that transpired during those years. Is her memoir that final step… an [attempt at] expiation of her ‘sins’… an exorcism of her demons?  Only Melissa can answer that.

If it isn’t, then she has paid a steep price indeed, to ‘live outside of convention’.  I want to ask her… if it was worth it… all that she lost.

In closing, I would say only this… Thank you, Melissa Febos.  Whip Smart is one book which will stay with me for a very, very long time.  I am certain that I will read it at least a couple of more times.

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Friday, December 9, 2011


Magenta Shaman Stones The CrowMagenta Shaman Stones The Crow by Lily Childs

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Lily Childs’ second book - in what one hopes will be a continuing series - featuring earth shaman Magenta Sweeney, is, if possible, even more breathtaking and compelling than her first novella, MAGENTA SHAMAN.

MAGENTA SHAMAN STONES THE CROW takes Magenta (Maggie) from her safe haven on the English coast with her husband Tom, to the dark forests of the Czech Republic, to an ancient castle where her father is prisoner.

In a style reminiscent of horror master Clive Barker, Lily weaves a dark tale filled with horror and magic, love and death, monsters and corrupt spirits. Lily writes with a verve and authority that draws the reader in immediately, grips them and doesn’t let go until the very end.

MAGENTA SHAMAN STONES THE CROW is only my second journey along the astral planes between this world - one that most of us only see with half-opened eyes - and the magical worlds of other planes… other dimensions in time and space. Even to the most diehard non-believer, Lily’s powerful prose brings a sense of wonder, danger and excitement that quickens the heart, and… at least, in my case… makes one sleep with the night light on full!

After reading Lily’s first book, MAGENTA SHAMAN, I had mentioned that, even with a night light on, I’d tossed and turned all night. I told Lily that if her book had evoked any lesser reaction in me, I would have been disappointed. With MAGENTA SHAMAN STONES THE CROW, I ‘suffered’ the same sleeplessness and turmoil… oh, such a sweet ‘suffering’! What I was not… was disappointed. Once again, Lily delivers beautifully!

MAGENTA SHAMAN STONES THE CROW is a rich, dark, magical story… taking the reader across the astral planes with Maggie, on mission to rescue her father from a terrible dark force… from the pits of Hell itself!

Lily’s vivid description of her journey through a supernatural world leaves this reader more than a little breathless! When I dare close my eyes, I can almost see the dark forest before me… feeling the vibration of the boar’s hoof beats on the forest floor… all the rich scents of flora and fauna around me. At one point, I actually felt a bitterness in the back of my throat when Magenta… well, I can’t say here… that might spoil it for the reader. The dusty blackness of the crow is all too real!

Throughout her narrative, Lily enthralls the reader with everything Magenta is doing, from her preparation to do battle with dark forces in the spiritual world, through to the fight itself… a struggle to the death… all in the name of love. While explaining all of this in rich detail, what Lily does not do is burden the reader with a lot of writerly detritus, losing the reader in so much description and ‘authorly voice’ that they become lost.

Lily’s rich prose carefully blends magic, evil and love in a masterful telling that keeps the reader’s interest throughout, captivating their imagination… and upon reaching the end of the tale, leaving them wanting more! Wanting more… not because Lily’s storytelling is lacking in any manner; but wanting more… because her voice so captivates the reader that they don’t want the story to end.

For those of you disappointed that I didn’t relate more of the actual story - tell you about Tom’s struggles for instance, or what happens in the castle - I say this… go buy the book and read it yourself! I mean no disrespect, but really… I’m not your ‘Cliff’s Notes’. Besides, I could not come within a continent’s breadth of coming close to Lily’s rich, magical prowess with the written word.

I will tell you this… Lily’s dark imagination tells a story… a love story, if you will… of the power of love… both in this earthly realm, and in the magic and spellbinding wonder of the supernatural realms.

One final thought. It has been three nights since I turned the first page of MAGENTA SHAMAN STONES THE CROW, and I will have the night light on again tonight. My inamorata and wife, Tina, asks me why I read this ‘stuff’ if it is “…only going to cost you sleep and give you nightmares?” I say to her, with a smile and a wink… “That is the whole point, honey!”

Once again, Lily… a simple ‘Thank you’ somehow seems rather inadequate.

Brava, sweetie… BRAVA!

(Author’s note – visit Lily at Lily Childs Feardom for more of her dark prose and verse of horror and urban fantasy. Lily is also the horror editor over at THRILLERS, KILLERS ‘N CHILLERS.)


Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Silverdale, Washington
Portland, Oregon
9 December 2011

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Thursday, December 8, 2011


The ProphetThe Prophet by Khalil Gibran

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Prophet is an impartation of wisdom that is timeless. Khalil Gibran brings to us the other side of questions we ask every day... questions about life... love... fear... truth... honor... purpose.

"Love possesses not nor would it be possessed; For love is sufficient unto love. And think not you can direct the course of love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course. Love has no other desire but to fulfil itself."

This is just one of my favorite passages in The Prophet. It speaks of so much more than just love.

Beautifully written and thought-provoking, The Prophet begs to be taken in small measures... little bits at a time... allowing ourselves time for introspection... to look inside us at the person we are. Time for reflection on the purpose of our lives.

The Prophet is a wonderful companion to keep close to us as we experience this wonderful journey called life.

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Monday, December 5, 2011


The Obelisk Trilogy: Tropic of Cancer, Tropic of Capricorn, Black SpringThe Obelisk Trilogy: Tropic of Cancer, Tropic of Capricorn, Black Spring by Henry Miller

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I wouldn't go so far as to call Henry Miller a genius, and I think he sacrificed a great deal... what could have been classics are simply mediocre.

He does seem to obsess about women... understandable though, considering his contempt for them.

I may or may not come back to 'the tropics'... we shall see. I would like to think that there is something at least a little redeeming in his work... time will tell.

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Saturday, November 26, 2011


 I love the e-book… primarily for its convenience, but my love affair with the bound and printed word transcends even 21st century technology and I will never completely give up the traditional book… be it hardback, soft cover or paperback.  For those who are like-minded, Lost Children: A Charity Anthology can now be ordered in the form of nature’s most renewable resource… paper.

The Lost Children: A Charity Anthology contains stories by 30 different authors, of which I am humbled and honored to be included among, which sprung from the brain child of Thomas Pluck, Fiona Johnson and Ron Earl Phillips over at Flash Fiction Friday.  Having raised a tidy sum for children’s charities in an online flash fiction writing challenge earlier this year, the trio decided to take things a step further… thus the Lost Children Charity Anthology e-book was born, followed now by the print version.  You can read a bit of the history of this project over at The Lost Children: A Charity Ebook Anthology, including stories about the authors and their personal experiences.  The goal of everyone connected with this project, is to bring public awareness to the plight of lost, abused and neglected children and to raise money for PROTECT: The National Coalition to Protect Children and Children 1st of Scotland.

This is a great book … for a great price… and written for a great cause!  If you are looking for a compelling read, for yourself or as a gift (that’s right… Christmas is looming over us like the rock wall at Six Flags!), you can order the anthology online at Amazon or Createspace for the modest sum of $9.99, of which 40% goes directly to PROTECT and Children 1st

The anthology is also available digitally at Amazon (Kindle), Barnes and Noble (NOOK), iTunes (ibook for iPad/iTouch) and Smashwords.  The e-book is only $2.99, of which every penny goes to charity.

Thank you,
Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw

Monday, November 21, 2011


I join my colleagues in a very heartfelt thank you to Thomas Pluck, Fiona Johnson and Ron Earl Phillips for their tireless efforts in seeing The Lost Children: A Charity Anthology to its fruition.
I would be remiss if I did not make a special thank you to artist and photographer extraordinaire Danielle Tunstall for her generous permission to use one of her photographs on the cover of the e-book as well as The Lost Children Anthology websites, and to Sarah Bennett Pluck for her incredible work producing the cover for this anthology.
"Some children are lost before they have even started living. Some children are a throw-away commodity like a burger box that’s left to blow down the street in the wind and rain." - Fiona Johnson
This is how it started.
A prompt on Flash Fiction Friday - A Community Writing Project.  Guest moderator, author Fiona Johnson, asked us to write a story about lost children.  Our inspiration was the heart-wrenching photograph by Danielle Tunstall shown below.
Thomas Pluck offered to donate $5 for each story submitted to PROTECT: The National Association to Protect Children.  Fiona in turn pledged to donate $5 to Children 1st, a children’s charity in Scotland.  Together , $600 was raised for the two charities, thanks to the generous and creative writing communities of Flash Fiction Friday, Fictionaut; as well as the crime fiction community on Twitter.
43 entries were submitted.  The flash fiction challenge was such a success that Thomas, Fiona and Ron decided to take it further... they would publish an anthology, with 100% of the e-book proceeds going to the two charities PROTECT and Children 1st.  Ron, Fiona and Thomas chose 30 of the best stories for the anthology.
50% of the e-book proceeds will go to Children 1st, which is a children’s charity based in Scotland.  The other 50% of the e-book proceeds will go to PROTECT:  The National Association to Protect Children.  PROTECT is based in the United States.
More information about PROTECT and Children 1st can be found at their respective websites..
Lost Children: A Charity Anthology is available at Amazon, Amazon UK, Amazon Germany, Amazon France, Smashwords, Apple iBookstore, and Barnes & Noble.  Please help us support these charities and help a child.  With Christmas just around the corner, this anthology will make a wonderful gift for family and friends.  Links for Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords are to the right, under the anthology's cover image.
The e-book anthology is available in the following formats:
$2.99 for Kindle, Kindle Cloud Reader and Kindle for Phone and Desktop at Amazon
$2.99 for Adobe PDF, epub format, mobi format, Kobo, Sony e-reader and readable online at Smashwords
$2.99 for Nook in the Barnes & Noble store (also available via Smashwords, if you use Calibre e-book manager)
$2.99 at the Apple iBookstore
Thomas has lately been burning the candle far into the night to prepare a print edition, which will soon be available through Amazon and Createspace.  This should be ready in time to give as a Christmas gift, for either yourself or friends and family.
Thank you.
If you would like a little background on my story, LOST BUT NOT FORGOTTEN, please visit  I am humbled and and honoured to have my story selected and to be part of this amazing project.  By buying the anthology, you too can help a very worthwhile cause.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Kick It AgainKick It Again by McDroll

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh... Beeny's a little shite, isn't he? Lying to his mate like that!

Veronica, Queen Slave of the Mutant Monkeys sounds very interesting indeed... she doesn't come on the DS, does she? Haha!

A STRAIGHT GAME is an absorbing, all-too realistic story of a couple of delinquents. The characters.. . the dialogue... I can almost hear the conversation... the inflection in their voices... you capture perfectly the dialect. It really brings the characters to life. Excellent read!

This is really first rate writing, Fiona! As with all of your stories, I absolutely LOVE A STRAIGHT GAME.

NO MORE CHOICES... a raw, powerful, bleak story... when a mother's love and desperation takes her down to the very bottom of that long, dark path to something she hoped and prayed would never come to pass. there is a dark, tragic sadness in this telling of the human condition. Beautifully written, Fiona.

This one doesn't tug... it rips at my heart! We read stories like this and the lucky ones who haven't had to make the hard choices can only be thankful that they haven't had to. For those of us who have... the anguish and torment here wrings our emotions. This one brings tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat.

Beautifully written, Fiona! That last line... "The pilot light popped. The gas hissed into the darkness." ... that one got to me.

If I write anymore, I might give something away, so I will leave to you, gentle reader, the other three amazing stories in this collection.


Brilliant and breathtaking 'slices' of crime/noir; Fiona Johnson has another winner in KICK IT AGAIN. She sets a bar many reach for, but few attain.  Be sure to check out her previous collection - KICK IT, available on Amazon, and visit Fiona's website at  Her writing can also be found in The Lost Children:  A Charity Anthology, on sale at Amazon, Smashwords and Barnes and Nobles; proceeds of which go to children's charities.  Visit THE LOST CHILDREN:  A CHARITY ANTHOLOGY  for more information.


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Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Lost Children Charity Anthology - On Sale Now At Amazon, Smashwords and Barnes and Noble

Lost Children: A Charity Anthology

I join my colleagues in a very heartfelt thank you to Thomas Pluck, Fiona Johnson and Ron Earl Phillips for their tireless efforts in seeing The Lost Children: A Charity Anthology to its fruition.
Two special thank you's - To artist and photographer extraordinaire Danielle Tunstall for her generous permission to use one of her photographs on the cover of the e-book as well as The Lost Children Anthology websites, and to Sarah Bennett Pluck for her incredible work producing the cover for this anthology.
"Some children are lost before they have even started living. Some children are a throw-away commodity like a burger box that’s left to blow down the street in the wind and rain." - Fiona Johnson
This is how it started.
A prompt on Flash Fiction Friday - A Community Writing Project.  Guest moderator, author Fiona Johnson, asked us to write a story about lost children.  Our inspiration was the heart-wrenching photograph by Danielle Tunstall shown below.
Thomas Pluck offered to donate $5 for each story submitted to PROTECT: The National Association to Protect Children.  Fiona in turn pledged to donate $5 to Children 1st, a children’s charity in Scotland.  Together , $600 was raised for the two charities, thanks to the generous and creative writing communities of Flash Fiction Friday, Fictionaut; as well as the crime fiction community on Twitter.
43 entries were submitted.  The flash fiction challenge was such a success that Thomas, Fiona and Ron decided to take it further... they would publish an anthology, with 100% of the proceeds going to the two charities PROTECT and Children 1st.
Ron, Fiona and Thomas chose 30 of the best stories to put in a charity anthology, all proceeds of which would go to PROTECT and Children 1st.
50% of the proceeds will go to Children 1st, which is a children’s charity based in Scotland – see for more information about the charity and how you can help.
The other 50% of the proceeds will go to PROTECT:  The National Association to Protect Children.  PROTECT is based in the United States - see for more about them and how you can help.
And finally, please see for a little background on my story, ‘LOST BUT NOT FORGOTTEN’.  I am humbled and and honoured to have my story selected and to be part of this amazing project.  By buying the anthology, you too can help a very worthwhile cause.
Lost Children: A Charity Anthology is now available for purchase on Amazon, Smashwords and Barnes & Noble.  Please help us support these charities and help a child.  Thank you.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Spider Bones (Temperance Brennan, #13)Spider Bones by Kathy Reichs
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I did not enjoy Spider Bones as much as some of Kathy's earlier books.  I thought it rather 'busy', and some of the subplot suggested rather heavily of incompetence on the part of certain government agencies.  The chimera 'device' seemed a bit desperate... an attempt to get out of a less than perfectly plotted story?  Not fond of the cliches, either.

I love technical writing and usually have no trouble following Ms Reichs' stories, but I confess... this one; I got 'lost' a couple of times.

Overall, Kathy Reichs has produced a great body of work... I have loved everything before Spider Bones... and will continue to read her.  I would offer a couple of suggestions to her...

Get rid of Ryan... he is played out and tired.

Please do something with Charlie!  Please?

P.S.  If you already have, in books subsequent to Spider Bones, forget I mentioned it.  :)

Kathy Reichs is still one of my favorite writers!

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Monday, September 5, 2011


Drunk on the MoonDrunk on the Moon by Paul D Brazill
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well... this is just a wee bit embarrassing!  I read DRUNK ON THE MOON almost two months ago and STILL haven't written so much as a "Smashing read, Paul!"? (Turn in your reading glasses and go to your room, young lady!)

I read the first part of DRUNK ON THE MOON in Dark Valentine some months back... it takes a truly dark and brilliant mind to conjure the idea of a werewolf P.I.... and make it so incredibly believable!  When I finished that short story, I was completely taken by Paul's writing... what a wonderful introduction to a new author!  Smashing read, Paul!

Okay... redemption?

DRUNK ON THE MOON takes my breath away... it sends chills up and down my spine... absolutely!  This story gave me many a sleepless night, tossing and turning... unable to get those dark, gruesome images out of my head... even a night light could not keep them at bay (Paul, if you don't own stock in a night light company, you may want to look into that.)

What a dark, deliciously horrifying read... I LOVED every minute of it!  Someone... I'm sorry, I can't recall who it was at the moment... said Paul's writing was a bit like jazz (I'm paraphrasing).  This  is so true... his words have a beat and a pulse all their own... wrapping themselves around your senses and pulling you in... taking you on an amazing journey through P.I. Roman Dalton's world.  And, like great jazz, Paul's writing doesn't let go after you've read the last line and closed the book.  It stays with you long after you've finished... leaving you sated, yet wanting more at the same time.

Paul's writing has all the grit and punch of Chandler and the horror of Stoker and Shelley.  Seemingly without effort, he blends noir and horror to create an unforgettable character and a story you won't forget.  The dialogue is dark and gritty, perfectly balanced with his wonderfully colorful narrative of The City and the others in it.

"The moon slices the night like a fang..."... "...death black coffee."  Such startling imagery from a few well-chosen words, Paul's style is unmatched.  Others may yearn to write like this, but just as Chandler is oft-imitated, yet always missing the mark... those who attempt to emulate Paul D Brazill's style will be pale imitators at best!

Okay... time to wind this up... somebody has got it in their head that I am cooking dinner tonight.

What's that?  What is the book about?

Oh... I'm not going to tell you that... I could not even begin to do it justice... no, you will have to read this for yourself.

DRUNK ON THE MOON is not just a story... it's an experience!

Okay... a hint... there's a new 'sheriff' in town... P.I. Roman Dalton... and he is ridding The City of criminal elements.  Now... go buy the book!

Oh... one more thing...

P.I. Roman Dalton is a werewolf... did I forget to mention that?

Paul... from the bottom of my heart... thank you for all the sleepless nights you have given me... with DRUNK ON THE MOON, that is! (Wouldn't want to give people the wrong idea... give you a reputation undeserved... hehe!)  Not to mention the inspiration you have given me as well... I mention Roman in one of my short stories... seems my vampyre has a crush on him.

Read this book, people! You won't be disappointed!

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Sunday, August 21, 2011


Magenta ShamanMagenta Shaman by Lily Childs
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Breathless... that's what I am, after reading Magenta Shaman.  And, it's not because I literally 'tore' through the story.  Once I started reading, I could NOT put this down!  I don't have a Kindle yet, so I download to the Kindle for PC app.  I was reading this on my desktop computer the other night, and if the power had chosen that particular time to go out... my 'cries' would have been heard all the way to Eastbourne! (I live on the West Coast of the United States.)

Urban fantasy/horror is a genre I have not read a lot of, especially the last several years.  Not because I lost interest... but, because I found new interests.  After reading Magenta Shaman, I am asking myself what was so bloody important to leave behind stories like this!

Lily's dark tale... you were right, Lily. It IS a love story... leaves a delicious 'taste', and a hunger for more!  What absolutely wonderful, dark imagery her words conjure... I can almost feel the Billowat's fetid, rotting breath on me. From the opening paragraph, my heart rate doubled... if I had been reading a paper book version, I would have left sweaty fingerprints throughout.

Oh... I was right about one thing, Lily.  Even with a night light, I tossed and turned all night!

Somehow... "Thank you" seems a bit inadequate!

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Monday, August 15, 2011

PULP INK – New Anthology By Chris Rhatigan and Nigel Bird - You Gotta Read This! Don't Make Me Get All Medieval On Your A**!

Just think... for a minute of your time and the minuscule sum of $2.99... you can have HOURS of reading pleasure!  Where else you gonna get that kind of deal?  :)

But, Veronica... How can I get this treasure?

Glad you asked... see that little blue line of letters and numbers that change color when you move your mouse pointer over it?  Just click that little baby and get your VISA, MasterCard, Discover, American Express (no... your library card isn't going to cut it... nice try, though!) ready!

See... easy, peasy... wasn't it?

Now... grab a cold one... kick back... and, ENJOY!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

PULP INK – New Anthology By Chris Rhatigan and Nigel Bird Coming Next Week!

Congratulations to Chris Rhatigan and Nigel Bird! Can you believe the incredible talent in this anthology? Brazill... Seamans… Godwin… Johnson... Bird... Rhatigan... Guthrie... Ayris... Abbott... the list goes on and on! If you like pulp, this is going to be the best you have read in a long time! I can't wait to sink my teeth in!!

Sunday, August 7, 2011


New flash fiction over at

Rules - 100 words max flash fiction or poetry using the following words – etiquette, stag, play. Deadline is 9pm UK time on Thursday 11th August.

By Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw

Fuck etiquette!

The blonde man circled around the stables, making his way back to the stand of trees east of the mansion.  This was a competition and all that mattered was who won.  Let the other idiots play fair.

Waiting and watching… a chill seeped into his bones. 

Behind him… a sound… he turned around… a split second to regret.


“A splendid trophy, Audra… splendid!”

Turning her gaze to the new plaque over the fireplace… next to the stag head…

“I bagged that one just last week… bloody Yank was too predictable… no sport in it.”

Audra smiled.


Saturday, July 2, 2011


Water for ElephantsWater for Elephants by Sara Gruen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Okay... I have to take back my earlier comments.  I LOVE this story!

True, it did start a little slow for me, and I would have liked a little more dimension to some of the characters.  But, on the whole... a thoroughly enjoyable story...I am glad that I did not let my first impressions hold me back.

Sara Gruen took a big risk, telling the story from the perspective of a ninety-something man... a risk that pays off handsomely.  I do not believe the story would have had the same impact if she had told it through the eyes of another.

More than a love story, this is a story of a young man's coming of age in Depression-era America; at the same time, dealing with the loss of his parent's and having his entire world turned inside-out.  "Welcome to adulthood, young man!"

Romance, intrigue, mystery, humor, murder... can one ask for more?  A hero, you say?  But, there is a hero... Rosie!

Sara reminds us that the elderly were once as young, vibrant, and ambitious as any one of us, and that we should not value them less, simply because they have more years than we do.

I read through some of the reviews here, and I have to ask the question... did some of these people even read the book?  Or, are they just spouting what they heard someone else say.  One person in particular, who wrote that it made her physically angry, and she found the story unimaginative and predictable... cliched.  Really?  Why don't you try actually reading the book before you trash it?

Water For Elephants is both heart-warming and heart-wrenching, often at the same time.  I cried.  More than once.  This book touched me deeply, more so than I thought it would when I first started reading it.  This is a story I will long treasure.    

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Anthology Call - Fat Girl in a Strange Land

Crossed Genres Publications is now accepting submissions for the anthology Fat Girl in a Strange Land, to be published in February 2012.  Genre is science fiction and/or fantasy, with a fat female protagonist.  Please read guidelines carefully... "fat" can't be just a passing detail.

Friday, June 10, 2011


Farewell, My LovelyFarewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The New Yorker put it best...

"Chandler wrote as if pain hurt and life mattered."

Chandler's rich prose, his multi-faceted protagonist and often one-dimensional "bad guys" defined a genre... he set a standard that, while many have aspired to, few have met.

I loved the twists and turns in Farewell, My Lovely... from a routine case, Marlowe "steps in it" and finds himself embroiled in murder, a ring of jewel thieves, and more murder.

Through it all, Mr Chandler keeps his character human... he doesn't make him out to be some sort of super-hero.. Marlowe gets cut... he bleeds.  He gets "coshed", he hurts.  But, he keeps getting back up... relentless.

I loved this book immensely and would recommend to anyone.  My favorite line...

"I like smooth shiny girls, hard-boiled and loaded with sin."

Me too, Mr. Marlowe... me too!  *wink*

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Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Prompt: Write a story based on a common conspiracy theory
Genre: Any
Word Count: 1000 words
Deadline: Thursday, June 2nd, 2011, 4:30 pm EST

By Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw

In February of 1962, President John F Kennedy met in secret with the leaders of Canada and Mexico, to explore the possibility of establishing a North American Union.  This was at the height of the Cold War, and it did not take long for Russia to learn of these meetings. 

Recognizing that such a union would dramatically alter the economic and political status quo, and tip the balance of power between the two superpowers irrevocably in favor of the United States, Premier Khrushchev ordered the KGB to “settle the Kennedy problem” once and for all.

In late April, a coded message was sent to a sleeper in southern California.


In the early summer of 1962, while working on “Something’s Got To Give”, a young writer at 20th Century Fox caught Marilyn Monroe’s eye.  This was shortly after Marilyn had been deemed a security risk to the presidency, and was “warned off” of the Kennedy brothers.  On the rebound, Marilyn was quite receptive to the young man’s “attentions” and soon the two of them began a clandestine sexual relationship.  His name was Thomas Evans… otherwise known by his KGB handlers as “Blond Ambition”. 

Thomas’s mission was simple… establish a relationship with Marilyn in order to gain access to the President.  Security would be minimal at their little rendezvous’ and the Russians saw this as the perfect opportunity to assassinate Kennedy and place the blame on an unsuspecting Marilyn.   

Marilyn did not tell Thomas that she was now persona non grata with the president.  Instead, she told him that JFK was very busy, but would be coming out to the West Coast in a few weeks to spend the weekend with her.  

In late July, after an evening of sex, booze, and drugs at Thomas’s West Hollywood bungalow, Marilyn awoke in the middle of the night to find Thomas gone from her side.  In a haze of drugs and alcohol, she wandered through the house and made a startling discovery.  In a tiny room at the back of the house, Thomas was hunched over a short wave radio, speaking in Russian.  Marilyn ran from the room, screaming that Thomas was a “dirty Commie spy”.  Thomas gave chase and caught up with Marilyn outside on the front lawn.  Screaming incoherently, she collapsed on the dew-covered grass, succumbing to the depressants in her system.

When Marilyn awoke the next day, she could recall nothing of the previous evening; it appeared that Thomas’s identity was safe.  However, Thomas had dutifully reported the incident to his controller, who ordered him to kill Marilyn immediately.  Thomas could not do this… he had fallen hopelessly in love with Marilyn.  Over the course of the next several days, he tried to convince his controller that Marilyn knew nothing, and that there was no reason to kill her.  His controller argued that the risk was too great… Marilyn had to die. 


This is where I came in.


I watch as the green sedan turns out of Fifth Helena Drive and heads north on Carmelina.  After waiting several minutes, I pull away from the curb and turn into the cul-de-sac, parking the black Volkswagen at the end, next the curved wall fronting Marilyn Monroe’s Brentwood estate.  Reaching under the front seat, I unclip the tiny derringer and stash it in the bottom of my purse.  Checking makeup and glasses in the rear-view mirror, I am ready.

It takes several minutes for Marilyn to come to the door.  The face that greets me is a tragic parody of her movie posters… puffy, tear-stained, lipstick and mascara a wreck, drugged look in her eyes.

“Miss Monroe” I say, handing her my card.  “My name is Nina Johnson, Dr. Greenson’s assistant.  Doctor asked me to come by and…” I stop… Marilyn looks as if she is about to collapse.  “Oh, you poor dear” I say, catching her and guiding her back into the living room and over to the sofa.

We talk for some time, or rather… Marilyn talks and I listen… my ears perking up when she re-tells of a particular evening with a lover… Thomas… she does know!  After a while, I suggest to Marilyn that she take a little nap, and we will talk more when she wakes up… that I need to confer with Doctor. 

Marilyn becomes agitated, begging me not to leave her, and then… as if a switch was turned, she suddenly becomes this sultry little seductress, moving close to me… touching me.  What is expression in America?  Business is business… but, do not forsake pleasure?  Marilyn stands… taking my hand… she leads us down the hall to her bedroom.

Buttons unfasten… zippers slide down… clasps undone… delicate lace slips down creamy thighs… soon we are lying against one another… Marilyn’s warm, soft mouth pressed to mine… tongues entwined… her soft breasts pressed to mine… moving down her flawless body… my long, dark tresses brush over her creamy, pink skin…lips caressing warm flesh… lower… over the rise of her mons… the heat of her passion warms my face as I lower my mouth… red-painted lips parted… she moans softly…

Some time later… Marilyn slumbers.  I slip quietly out of bed and dress… gazing down at her beauty… a small regret forms… and then… passes.  I walk back out to the living room for my purse… stopping to set things right, and then return to the bedroom.

Sitting on the edge of the bed, I retrieve the small hypodermic from its case… gently easing Marilyn’s thighs apart… fingers part her delicate flower… the tiny needle slips into her flesh.  I wait.  A few minutes later… her breasts no longer rise and fall.

I stand and look down… the face of a sleeping angel… peaceful.  Bending over her, my lips touch Marilyn’s in a final kiss…

“Good bye, Norma Jean…”      


Dallas, Texas – November 22, 1963 – 2:48 AM

Unobserved, a dark haired young woman, carrying a long package, entered the Bryan pergola on the north side of Dealey Plaza.  A little less than ten hours later, she left… walking slowly in the opposite direction that people were running to. 


Friday, April 29, 2011


The Long FirmThe Long Firm by Jake Arnott
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This an amazing read.  Jake Arnott takes the reader deep into the seedy underbelly of 60's London... "lairy" blokes getting "aggro" in dark dives... Mad Harry, a gangster's gangster ("I'm not gay, I'm homosexual!") with a thing for the soft, young gay-boys out looking for danger, and trying to make a dishonest dollar honest... bent coppers dipping their greedy paws in for a share.

The Long Firm is a collection of five stories, with intertwining characters and new faces in each "chapter".  Each chapter brings people and events to their inevitable conclusion, not predictably, but with a certainty and finality that makes one wonder if those poor souls lives were really about choices, or if their destinies were foretold long ago, and all they can do is let the "fates" do as they must, because... "our wills are not our own... we are shaped and ruled by forces we are barely capable of understanding, and virtually powerless, to change."  Do we really have no control?  Does society make us what we are, and when it sees the truth, turns a blind eye and deaf ear?

THE LONG FIRM was another recommendation from my dear friend, Paul D Brazill... and, I will say this once again...

You will not go wrong with one of Paul's recommendations!  Thank you, Paul.

And... Thank you, Mr Arnott... for a superb story!

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Thursday, April 14, 2011


Who you were before is unimportant...
The past is past... dust in the wind... no more.

You have come to me... and I to you... two becoming one... 
You are mine... my Cytherea... and I…your Sappho.

Two stars racing across the night sky... chasing the dawn...
Two spirits… riding the moonbeam’s ethereal glow.

And when morning's light brings us back to earth...
Consummation on white satin... lovers entwined... as before.

Our lives now… more than the sum of all things…
As your fate is mine...  so then, my fate is yours.

Destiny is not a dream... we are beamriders of the night...
Moonlit souls with gossamer wings.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


The earthquake in Japan, now reported as a 9.1 and not an 8.9, and the after-shocks which followed, has been incredibly devastating.  The imagery coming out of Japan is almost too much to comprehend.  Below are a couple of quick ways you can help...

Text REDCROSS (all one word) to 90999, to donate $10 to the Red Cross.  The charge will appear on your phone bill.

Text JAPAN or QUAKE to 80888, to donate $10 to the Salvation Army.  The charge will appear on your phone bill.

Thank you.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Quelques choses ne sont pas toujours noires et le blanc.


Article in the Hartford Herald – July 17, 2007

In what is hoped by many to be the final chapter in the case of the UNH coed who was kidnapped in the late summer of 2005, and tortured and raped over a six month period of time, a grand jury, for the second time, has declined to bring murder indictments against the woman known only as Jane Doe.

Victims-rights advocates hailed this as a victory for victims of sexual assault everywhere, reiterating their position that “charges should never have been filed in the first place, given the circumstances, and that this was clearly a case of self-defence.”


London – Summer 2009


Steel-tipped stilettos tap a beat on the sidewalk.  Ignoring the “look left” admonition on the roadbed, I walk out into the street, focused on the white and blue sign across the road.  Black Audi honks angrily.  “Bitch!”  The epithet acknowledged with a raised finger.  Camden Town… New York City… Portland; drivers speak the same language.    

Two teen girls walk out as I approach the bank door.  Sharp inhalation… a too loud whisper… “… you see her arm?  Bloody mess…”  I turn as they pass by.  The redhead turns and looks back… our eyes meet… blood rushes… her face the color of her hair now.  Her eyes avert and head dips in shame.  Trace of sadness… I turn and open the door… remind myself… I don’t mind… I don’t mind…

The interior of Barclay’s smells and sounds like a hundred other banks I’ve been in, the only difference here is the accented voices.  Pretending not to notice the arm - you can see it in her eyes - the dark-haired young clerk smiles as I approach her window.  The smile slowly slips as she reads the note I hand her.  Eyes look down, then dart to the left and back to me.  A barely perceptible shake of my head, grim determination on my face.  She quietly fills the large envelope with banknotes.

A week later, as has been custom for the past two years, a local charity receives a large envelope in the post.    




Dropping keys and purse on the small table in the foyer, I walk in to the parlor.  She is sitting on the white leather sofa...  a tall, mocha-skinned woman, completely naked except for a pair of white sheer stockings and garter belt.  A pair of five- inch orchid stilettos adorns her slender feet.

The woman turns her head as I enter the parlor.  I stop, returning her gaze… we take measure of each other.    After a few moments, she tilts her head slightly, motioning to a spot on the carpet in front of her.  A small black leather whip lies coiled on the sofa cushion. 

Wordlessly, I disrobe and kneel on the plush carpet in front of her.  She spreads her legs apart and I move in closer… scent of cinnamon and musk rising up.  She picks up the whip, uncoiling it in her hands.  I lean forward, placing my hands on the warm flesh of her upper thighs.  My head dips down… sound of braided leather slicing the air…


Later that night, in bed with Charrlote… her voice rising up in the quiet… “So, ma chere… how did you find Mistress Emeline?”  I sit up and turn to face her.  “Satisfactory.”   A pause… “Do you think me odd, Charrlote?  What I do?”

“We all do our emotional penance in our own way, Veronique… I do not judge.”  She pulls the camisole over her head, revealing her naked breasts.  Smiling, she reaches for mine.  I put my hand on her arm, stopping her.  Slender fingers touching me… “I really don’t mind the scars” she says.

Charrlote draws me into her arms… the silk sheets pull us down into their embrace.


Portland – Autumn 2009

Home… Not Home

The turn of the century stone building in downtown Portland looms in front of me.  Entering the lobby… street sounds hush as the door closes quietly behind me.  Dark-paneled walls echo the beat of the steel-tipped stilettos on the hardwood floor.  Gloved finger presses the elevator button.  Second floor – attorney – broken promises.  Third floor – physical therapist – broken bodies.  Fifth floor – psychiatrist - broken minds.

Dr. Kay sits back in her chair… I stand at the tall window across the room, looking out at the night lights of the city.  She continues… “Bank or dominatrix?”  The good doctor knows me well.  “Both.”  I reply. 

“Veronica… what happened… none of that was your fault… why do you still punish yourself?”  Why do you keep asking me questions to which we both know the answer?  I think to myself, looking out at a full moon.

Turning away from the window, tears pricking the back of my eyelids… “I don’t mind the scars… really… I don’t.”


23 February 2011
Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw