Book review: Hacienda Moon

Hacienda MoonFrom Amazon:

A Gothic Romance based on true events that took place in Brunswick County, NC, on September 4, 1748.

Centuries ago, his ancestor fell in love with a woman cursed by a jealous witch. No one believed him until it was too late.

Eric Fontalvo was determined to prove one thing . . . that a family curse didn’t cause his father’s death.

The plan was working until the day he found her . . . again. Suddenly his life changes forever, and he is forced to question everything he believes.

Moving into an old plantation house was just what Tandie Harrison needed to recover from tragedy. So she writes a book, a story based on a man in her dream. There’s only one problem though . . . the characters from her novel keep showing up on her doorstep.

And then she finds a diary written hundreds of years ago. As if that isn’t strange enough, she meets him . . . the man from her dream. Someone who reawakens her psychic power.

A new classic tale of two lovers crossing time. Can their love destroy the force keeping them apart?

Or will darkness win again?

My Review

Hacienda Moon by KaSonndra Leigh was a very intriguing tale. I was immediately attracted by the cover, which is both ghostly and mysterious. What kept me reading was the twists and turns in the plot, the character development, and the strange occurrences. I enjoyed the story as it unfolded, and the characters were all interesting, well-written, and vivid. However, I did feel that the story was a bit slow in the beginning. I kept reading because I wanted to find out what would happen next. I was drawn into the story mainly by the characters, and Tandie Harrison, a mysterious woman in her own right.

Sometimes the plot was a tad confusing and there were a lot of characters to keep track of. Nevertheless, the author didn’t stray from developing her main characters, especially Tandie, whom I was able to picture well. If you’re looking for an unusual story with lots of supernatural aspects, check out Hacienda Moon.

Hacienda Moon on Amazon

If You Follow Me

Hoping to outpace her grief in the wake of her father’s suicide, Marina has come to the small, rural Japanese town of Shika to teach English for a year. But in Japan, as she soon discovers, you can never really throw away your past . . . or anything else, for that matter.

If You Follow Me is at once a fish-out-of-water tale, a dark comedy of manners, and a strange kind of love story. Alive with vibrant and unforgettable characters—from an ambitious town matchmaker to a high school student-cum-rap artist wannabe with an addiction to self-tanning lotion—it guides readers over cultural bridges even as it celebrates the awkward, unlikely triumph of the human spirit.

This is one of the most delightful books I have ever read. I found it on the shelf at the library and could hardly put it down. Malena Watrous weaves a tale that we can all relate to. I was extremely touched by Marina’s journey after the death of her father, and her attempts to deal with her grief.

Divine messages come from the most unlikely of places. I often find that when I am dealing with something particularly trying, I happen upon a book that leaves me speechless and helps me to deal with whatever I am going through. If You Follow Me was one such book.

This past February, my father died. I am much too young to have lost my father. Although Marina lost her father to suicide, the death of one’s parent is still traumatic . . . especially since I only had three years to get to know my father. In many ways, Marina’s journey was my own. I am still dealing with the grief, and there are times when I break down.

I know my dad is here, watching out for me. In If You Follow Me, Marina sees her father in the strangest of places:

I don’t know how long I’ve been staring at the swarm of blue and white dots on the TV screen before they rearrange themselves into my father’s face, only that I’m not surprised when it happens. It’s like I’ve been waiting for this. “How did you find me?” I whisper, and the image flickers, disappears, then reappears.

Malena Watrous writes with a beautiful simplicity. Her writing found its way easily into my heart, reminding me of my own struggles. It’s funny how things come to us when we need them the most. In this case, it was this book. As a fiction writer, I know that I often wonder if anyone really “gets” anything meaningful out of my books. The thing is, you never really know when the words you write will be the words that someone else needs to hear. Thank you, Malena, for writing such a lovely book.

Descendants: Fantasy, action, and adventure!

Knights are dead and gone since the days of Camelot. The ancient battles pitting sword and shield against one another are just a distant memory, one that very few even give validity, and that’s exactly how it should be. I mean honestly, if people knew half of what really went on in the shadows and under the bed they’d probably wind up institutionalized.

Luckily, that’s where people like me come in. I’m a Knight. That’s right, an armor-clad, sword-wielding powerhouse of old, with all the powers and responsibilities that come with that position. We’re not all gone, but unfortunately, trouble is brewing in the Kingdom hidden in North America . . . and it’s kind of my fault. I killed a bunch of gnomes, which in turn pissed off some trolls. Now they’re trying to kill me and start a war with all of humanity. And all while and ancient evil is awakening to try and block my path at every turn.

My Review

I loved the secret world created by the author in the fantastical novel Descendants. Sir Godric Patronar is heir to the throne of North America, despite the fact that everyone thinks that knights and kings are things of the past. A portal carries him between the kingdom and the front door of his modest apartment in Philadelphia, where he seemingly lives the life of a normal city dweller—never-mind the fact that he’s just killed off a bunch of gnomes and upset the trolls in the process.

The action begins straight away; Godric’s father is furious with him for the massacre, yet Godric feels that his acts were justified. Here’s one of my favorite parts:

I dropped out of my coat, rolled my sleeves up to the elbow, and pulled my blade from the back of my jeans. It didn’t make a sound as I flicked it open. I looked at Devin and asked as nonchalantly as I could manage. “Which four do you want?”

At first, I had trouble getting into the story . . . But once the action takes off, one cannot help but wonder what’s coming next. Naturally, I had to read the book because the author, Andrew Katz, hails from my neck of the woods: the Philadelphia area of Pennsylvania.
The story and Andrew’s style is reminiscent of an action-packed cartoon, or an edge-of-your-seat movie: the energy nearly jumps off the page. I think that the novel is best suited for young adults, and lovers of a great Fantasy tale. I wish Andrew much luck in all of his future writings!

About the Author

Andrew Katz is a young, up and coming author from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His novel, “Descendants”, is his first full length work. Action, adventure, and a healthy dose of sarcasm are staples of his writing. He has also published a short story in the anthology “Dark Light”, centering on the same protagonist as his novel. Andrew loves music, reading, his dog George, and relaxing in the sun. He may not be the most exciting person, but he makes up for it with imagination and . . . unpredictability.

Visit Andrew on Facebook | Buy Descendants on Amazon

Neptune’s Tear

This is a pre-publication review. Neptune’s Tear by Joseph Baneth Allen will be released on July 13, 2012.

Bob Crisci’s reality becomes fantasy when he journeys to Topsail Island, North Carolina, with the intent of writing an article on abandoned military towers. Instead, he has a strange run-in with an elusive nudist, and meets an old woman named Mary, whose desperate search for an unusual treasure captivates Bob’s imagination.

Neptune’s Tear is a delightful story, with vivid scenery, and fun characters. I especially loved the way the author incorporated Bob’s human flaws; he’s visiting the ocean, but he’s terrified of water. I found his character easy to relate to in many ways. The small-town atmosphere is well-described in the story. I felt as though I was really there!

The author doesn’t give away too much, and we are left to wonder about some of the characters and how they came to be. There is an air of mystery that is particularly enjoyable. Neptune’s Tear is a great summer read–short and sweet!

Blurb:

Becoming involved in a search for a missing treasure was not on Bob Crisci’s agenda when he arrived at Topsail Island, North Carolina.  Bob had come to the island town to write an article on the abandoned military observation towers and the role they played prior to NASA moving to Cape Canaveral.  Instead, at the urging of a mysterious island nudist named Connor, Bob becomes involved with the elderly Mary Morgenstein who is desperately searching for a mysterious treasure known only as “Neptune’s Tear.” While the entire town adores Mary, there is one who will stop at nothing to prevent her from finding her lost treasure.

Writers: What’s the most annoying question you’ve ever been asked about your work?

For me, the most annoying question is, “How much of your novel is autobiographical?”

If Taking 1960 were autobiographical, I would be a tormented artist with psychotic relatives, and an apparent talent for solving decade-old serial murder cases.

If Check Out Time were autobiographical, I would be a somewhat homely girl with admirably large biceps, grease stains under her fingernails, steel-toed boots, and a dog named Diesel.

I am not either of these characters, and it grows tiresome when people continually confuse my life with my fiction. I know this happens to other authors. I attended a book talk once where the author was discussing her stories, which were loosely based on events in her childhood. In the book, the character’s father was a negligent drunkard (or something to that effect) and people in the author’s family were wondering if she was slyly revealing long-kept family secrets.

In a way, the confusion can be a compliment. Perhaps I have created such a believable world that people can’t help but think it’s an expression of my own life.

It does cause problems, though. When my mother first read the book, she was very upset, and wanted to know why I had killed her off. It took a lot of explaining to make her realize that Naomi is not me, and Naomi’s mother is not my mother. I pointed out some very large differences: Naomi’s mother is curvaceous, short-haired, and enjoys baking cookies. My mother is none of these things.

How much of Check Out Time is real?

Well, mostly just my experiences. Initially, I came up with the concept when I was working overnight in a grocery store, and when I had just met my dad again in 2008. I made up Naomi, gave her some of my interests, and gave her a few situations that I was familiar with.

To me, “write what you know” means “write the sorts of things that you’re familiar with.” I think some people take the phrase too seriously. Especially with fiction, people wonder if the author experienced the same things as the main character, or if the main character is based on them.

For example, the latest gossip centers around E.L. James and Fifty Shades of Grey. Everyone keeps whispering, “You’d have to know a lot about that stuff in order to write it.”

So, does E.L. James have a BDSM dungeon in her basement? Maybe.

Did anything in Check Out Time really happen? Most of it didn’t.

Writers: What’s the most annoying question you’ve ever been asked about your work? 

Have you ever written anything with a particular goal in mind, only to have readers interpret it completely differently? How did this affect you? 

Leave a comment: I would love to hear your thoughts!

Destiny Unveiled: An exciting Young Adult novel by Laura DeLuca

In Destiny Unveiled, a group of friends journey to stop an evil coven that plans to unleash catastrophic horror on the world as we know it. A novel like this is not something I would normally read. However, the author pens the battle between good and evil in such a way that makes it unique and multi-layered. The characters are well-developed, fun, and believable, as is their adventure to stop the Dark Coven from carrying out its plans. I have yet to read the prequel to this novel. Destiny Unveiled can be enjoyed as a stand-alone, and I know that when I do read Destiny, the first novel, I will love this book even more. Laura DeLuca has done a wonderful job creating a thoroughly riveting Young Adult novel.

Destiny Unveiled on Amazon — visit Laura’s website

Readers: I’d love to hear from you!

I am currently looking for readers who may be interested in reviewing Check Out Time. I am in need of reviews posted on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. If you are interested, please leave a comment on this post, or email me at: author.rosa.sophia@gmail.com

I will provide you with a FREE digital copy of Check Out Time if you are willing to review it.

I would love to hear what my readers think!

My book tour at Shades of Rose Marketing began this week. Check out my Author Spotlights on Ella Jade’s website, and Patricia Bates’s Of Ink and Quille.

Book Tour: Check Out Time

My virtual book tour for Check Out Time begins today! Check out the author spotlight on Love to Read Romance!! I will be continually updating the Appearances page (which can be found under the “About Rosa” menu at the top of the page) as the tour progresses. There will be interviews, spotlights, and reviews, so keep coming back!

Also posted today: Interview with Rosa Sophia on Woody’s Writings, author Mike Woody’s website.

Check Out Time: Retail is Murder

Naomi Vogler blames herself for her mother’s tragic death, continually reliving the accident in her nightmares.  When she reconnects with her estranged father, he invites her to live with him in a little town called Witchfire.  A simple job stocking shelves overnight at a local grocery store seems a perfect distraction.  But when the manager of the store is found dead in the boiler room, Naomi’s boring job becomes something much more complicated.  No matter how she looks at it, one thing is certain: retail is murder.

Buy Check Out Time through Oaklight Publishing

Available on Amazon’s Kindle

Check Out Time is also available in print on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and through order from your favorite book store.

Check Out Time is also available to libraries, so ask your Reference Librarian to order Check Out Time today!

How my father inspired Check Out Time

As I sit here, still sick, still grieving from the loss of my father, I am thinking about how this loss was the devastating force behind so much of what I have done over the last year or so. Since yesterday was Father’s Day, I write this in his honor, just as I created the character of Roy Vogler, in Check Out Time, for my dad.

If I remember correctly, Dad’s accident was on January 23, 2010. I was determined to believe that he would recover, despite the stroke, and that things would continue as they had. I pictured myself moving back to Pennsylvania, driving over to his house and visiting Dad and my sisters, having dinner with him, all of us echoing the same sentiment: “Dear God, we came so close to losing you.”

This fantasy didn’t come to fruition. I lost Dad, for the second time in my life. I had three years to get to know my father all over again. I cannot even begin to describe how grateful I am for those three years. I try not to think about the what-ifs and the maybes. There have been a lot of moments where I have thought to myself, “If only I had contacted him sooner.” But the fact is, we reconnected when we did, and I have to accept that fact. In reality, things were the way they had to be.

But, oh! To be sitting across from him and realize how much we had in common. It was a mind-boggling experience. I tried to make Roy Vogler as close to the character of my father as possible, but I probably didn’t succeed %100. After all, the circumstances in my book are different, and Roy’s daughter isn’t completely me. There are aspects of Naomi Vogler that match my personality, but there are many things about the two of us that are different. Fact versus fiction– a novel doesn’t have to be accurate, it just has to entertain. But in my case, Check Out Time is not just a piece of entertainment fiction; it is an expression of how much I miss and love my father, the real Roy Vogler– Dennis Godshall, Sr.

Those of you who know me well enough will ask me if I’ve seen him. Yes, I have. I can get ready for bed at night and firmly ask, “Dad, I would like to see you in my dream tonight. Please visit me.” He will be there.

I know that I am not alone. He is far away, and it’s not easy for him to visit, but he manages it. It usually happens when I’m driving. I get the distinct impression that I am not alone. Very shortly after his death, on February 17, 2012, I was in school and I kept hearing people say things that sounded like something Dad would say. The feeling grew stronger when I heard someone whistling the theme to the Andy Griffith Show; that was something that Dad did well. When I went outside that night, there was no one behind me in the dark parking lot, and I felt a distinct tug on my sweatshirt. I knew it was Dad.

Our loved ones never really leave us. I know that Dad watches over me. The last time I saw him in the nursing home, I held his hand. When I cried, his forehead crinkled, and he stared fixedly at me the whole time. His lips parted as if he wanted to speak, but he couldn’t. I told him, “Dad, if you come to visit me, I will know it’s you. I will see you. We’ll never be all that far from each other.”

I am not well. As I try to recover from my physical sickness, I feel the hurt in my heart. The only photograph that I have of Dad and I, taken months or a year before his accident, is sitting by my laptop. I see his face every day. And I consider how this heartbreak drove me to change my life in some very large ways.

I remember standing in Dad’s house and saying excitedly, “Dad, I’m writing a book with you in it! You’re going to be one of the characters.”

Now, I want to say to my father, “Dad, I wish you could be here to see this book with you in it. I miss you more than I can say.”

I solved my own personal Mystery when I was reunited with my father. I saw how alike we were, and it was an eye-opener for me. In Check Out Time, Roy says to Naomi, “Like father, like daughter.” It’s the same in real life. After Dad’s accident, I made a concrete decision to go to school for Automotive, and decided that, one day, I would open my own automotive repair shop. Dad has influenced my life so much. I am always thinking, “I wish he were here to see it.”

But then I remember– He is here. And he always will be.

Welcoming Lorrieann Russel, author of By Right of Blood

William Fylbrigge is ill prepared to claim what is his by right of blood and his place among the powerful clan he has been born into. His older brother, Thomas, doesn’t want to share what he thinks is rightfully his, secretly arranging to have the young lad killed in a convenient “accident.” William could lose everything, including his life.

Sean Wilbrun, the son of a common groomsman, transcends the barriers of his class and station when he is elevated to the esteemed ranks of guard for Lord Edward, Duke of Stonehaven. His first assignment, however, is not to wield a sword to protect his duke, but instead to attend to the newly arrived foster son.

William and Sean soon form an unlikely duo and a lasting bond as together they face Thomas’ accusations of murder and treason.

*  *  *

My name is Lorrieann Russell. I have the great pleasure to introduce you to William Fylbrigge, late of Drumoak Castle, Stonehaven, Scotland, who has joined me today to tell you a little bit about himself. One thing that you should know about Mr. Fylbrigge; he is a work of fiction, and so happens to be the main character in my newly re-released novel, By Right of Blood. Who better to tell you about his story than the man himself? So without further nonsense, I will turn the floor over to him.

William:  I’ve been part of this castle so long, I could rightly claim not to recall the time before I arrived; though if the truth is told, perhaps I remember it all too well. How well I recall growing up in my father’s manor, Fylbrigge Hall in Aberdoir, and how well I recall my daily prayers and pleas to any god who would choose to hear, to free me from its walls. Though it was not my father whom I longed to be free of—him, I never knew, being orphaned in my infancy—but my older brother, Thomas, who stepped into the role of father to me. Thomas, who had enjoyed the status of sole heir to our father’s fortune; until I was born, of course. Thomas and his wife, Bryndah (I still shudder at the thought of her) became my ‘parents’, though loving, they were not.

My own dear mother was lost to me, you see. She drew her last breath, just as I drew my first. It was a blessing from the Lady Goddess that I was suckled by a nurse named Rebecca. I loved Rebecca as a child loves a mother, trusting her to keep me warm, fed and protected against Bryndah’s raging temper. How well I recall the many times I hid within the folds of Rebecca’s skirt to escape Bryndah’s lash or a scratch from her talon-like fingernails. Indeed, Rebecca protected me too well, for her own well being. I have missed her all these years, and a night does not pass when I do not see her face, wet with tears, imploring me to “run, little one” . . . before the flame engulfed her.

I was six then. I would spend the next six years being reared on monster tales of a man who ate his rivals and dressed himself in leather made of the skin of those who dared speak against him. His name was Edward of Stonehaven, and he was Bryndah’s father. I believed every word she told me. After all, she was a demoness in my eyes—the vilest of the vile—how much worse, then, was the man who sired her?

I was twelve when my nightmare became reality and I was tossed into a carriage and taken to Drumoak. My fate, she assured me, that Lord Edward would use my bones for quills and my skin for his bed curtains. I believed her.

I was a fool.

That is where my story begins, my arrival in Stonehaven in the summer of my twelfth year. I consider that to be the true year of my birth as it was at Drumoak that my life truly began. Nothing before then really matters. I am here, and this is where I will stay—for a while.

*  *  *

William is tired now, and has asked to be excused. If you’d like to read more of his story, please get a copy of By Right of Blood, available at Amazon.com and other online booksellers.

Author Bio: 

Lorrieann Russell has written three books (so far) chronicling the life and times of William Fylbrigge: By Right of Blood, My Brother’s Keeper, and In the Wake of Ashes.  She has also published several short stories, and has been a featured guest on Edin Road Radio.  She is an accomplished artist, illustrator, photographer, and designer.  A native New Englander, she spends much of her time in the mountains of New Hampshire, hiking and taking pictures of the landscape.

Visit Lorrieann:

Lorrieann’s website
Listen to Lorrieann talk about her book on Edin Road Radio.
Lorrieann and By Right of Blood at Edin Road Press