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!


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:

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.