Saturday, October 22, 2016

Second Goodreads Giveaway Winners

~ Congrats to the two winners of The Rosegiver's second Goodreads giveaway: Stormi and Jonathan! I'll have the signed books to you in a few days. Thanks for participating in the giveaway and I really hope that you enjoy the story.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Readers' Favorite Review - 5 Stars!!!

~ This morning, as I clicked on my inbox, I was excited to see that a review had come in from Readers' Favorite. You don't know how long I've been waiting to see this and just hoping that the review and rating would be good. I was utterly surprised and thankful at the same time. The review is posted below:

Reviewed By Ruffina Oserio for Readers’ Favorite - FIVE STARS!!!

"The Rosegiver by Sandy Benitez is a beautifully written mix of supernatural, mystery, and romance for young adult readers, but adult readers will still get a lot of entertainment by reading it. Set against the English rural landscape in the late 1800s, a young girl with the rare gift of reading people travels to her aunt, Judith Constantin, to help her with household chores at the Rosethorne Inn in Thistle Grove. Before she could reach her destination, she learns about the disappearance of girls within the locality and the presence of vampires, which rouses Rachel’s curiosity. The reader is introduced to Rachel’s world with her strange dreams and desperate need to learn about the vampires, and find out what is happening to the missing girls. Will she discover her destiny as she develops her gift as the rosegiver and be able to solve a mystery that baffles everyone?"

"Sandy Benitez writes well and has a gift for descriptive prose. The idea of the rosegiver is original, or at least, I haven’t read anything like it before, and it drew my attention to the book immediately. The author did a great job in character development and readers can really see how Rachel grows in confidence, harnessing her gift. From the beginning, readers are introduced to the characters, and the sense of mystery created at the beginning of the story will be a great hook to many. For instance, readers will begin to ask questions about the scratching Rachel hears on the walls of her train compartment and the long and broken fingernail she finds the next morning. The plot has enough to keep readers guessing, but what is so beautiful about this book is the prose and the feeling one gets that Sandy Benitez is a master storyteller. The Rosegiver was, for me, a satisfying read. Great story. Great setting."

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Black Pearl Sky - Poem

~ I wrote this poem several years ago but still love it after all this time...perfect for October.

She was alone again, trying not to
look behind at the ghosts that followed
her home. The cool air stifled her
breath; she coughed just to think.

With a loud rumble, the clouds above 
parted ways, having fought over a lost 
crow that stole their warmth. Pellets
of black pearls fell from the sky, 

bouncing off her porcelain body. Like
old war wounds, she carried the cracks
in silence. There would be no storytelling
for the children, only nightmares 

replaying in her eyes. Her pale hands 
trembled as they shielded her from the 
pain. With a loud caw, she spread her 
wounded wings, ever searching for the 

sun that would warm her frozen heart. 

Sandy Benitez is the editor of Black Poppy Review. Her first novel, a gothic fantasy, The Rosegiver, was published in February 2016. She enjoys horror movies & books, wandering through old cemeteries, and perusing antique stores.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

In America by Nina Romano

Beautiful, headstrong Marcella Scimenti has the affection of a handsome neighborhood boy, the love of her large Italian family, and serious dreams of singing in Hollywood. But the course of true love nor the journey to finding one s true self never did run smooth. "In America" follows the story of Marcella, the daughter of the characters at the center of Nina Romano s continent-spanning Wayfarer Trilogy, as she comes of age in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, in the late 1920s. In the trilogy s heartwarming conclusion, Marcella must learn to balance new friendships, promising suitors, and life as a modern working girl with the expectations of her tradition-bound family, all against the backdrop of a looming economic depression and a changing world. Along the way, she unearths a devastating family secret that shakes her to her core and tests the boundaries of her love, loyalty, and faith."

REVIEW:  In America is the final book in The Wayfarer Trilogy. Thanks to author Nina Romano for providing me with a print review copy that was also autographed!

This novel is written from the perspectives of Marcella, one of the daughters of Angelica (from book two) & Giacomo and Giacomo (from book one and book two). Marcella is a headstrong, blunt, and independent teen who finds herself caught up in all sorts of situations and trials. It was good to see that she had matured quite a bit at the end of the story and discovered that the love she was searching for, was with her all the time. She reminded me of her mother, Angelica, from Lemon Blossoms. 

It was also interesting to rejoin Giacomo as he lived and worked in America and all of the experiences that he went through. There is a surprise in the story, when Giacomo meets a young man named Bao, a friend of Marcella's, and figures out who the man really is. Everything in Giacomo's life truly did come full circle for him.

The writing is gorgeous and very descriptive. I enjoyed reading about various Italian ingredients and dishes and how they were prepared. Once again, the author did a wonderful job of creating that historical feel, this time with the story taking place during the 1920s. The imagery, language, and dialog seemed true to that time period.

I would recommend this novel to fans of historical fiction and romance. I wasn't into historical fiction that much before I began reading The Wayfarer Trilogy, but now I definitely am.


Sunday, October 2, 2016

The Rosegiver - Second Goodreads Giveaway

~ Conducting another giveaway on Goodreads for my debut gothic fantasy novel, The Rosegiver. The giveaway started on September 30th and ends on October 21st. I decided to run it for just three weeks this time instead of a month. I would've liked to include Canada and England in the giveaway, but after finding out how much it cost to mail the book to last month's winner in Canada, that definitely was a shocker. Let's just say, it cost more to ship the book than the actual retail price. I simply can't afford it, wish that I could. Good luck to all the entrants! I can't wait to find out who the two lucky winners are!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Yesternight by Cat Winters

From the author of The Uninvited comes a haunting historical novel with a compelling mystery at its core. A young child psychologist steps off a train, her destination a foggy seaside town. There, she begins a journey causing her to question everything she believes about life, death, memories, and reincarnation.

In 1925, Alice Lind steps off a train in the rain-soaked coastal hamlet of Gordon Bay, Oregon. There, she expects to do nothing more difficult than administer IQ tests to a group of rural schoolchildren. A trained psychologist, Alice believes mysteries of the mind can be unlocked scientifically, but now her views are about to be challenged by one curious child.

Seven-year-old Janie O’Daire is a mathematical genius, which is surprising. But what is disturbing are the stories she tells: that her name was once Violet, she grew up in Kansas decades earlier, and she drowned at age nineteen. Alice delves into these stories, at first believing they’re no more than the product of the girl’s vast imagination. But, slowly, Alice comes to the realization that Janie might indeed be telling a strange truth.

Alice knows the investigation may endanger her already shaky professional reputation, and as a woman in a field dominated by men she has no room for mistakes. But she is unprepared for the ways it will illuminate terrifying mysteries within her own past, and in the process, irrevocably change her life.From the author of The Uninvited comes a haunting historical novel with a compelling mystery at its core. A young child psychologist steps off a train, her destination a foggy seaside town. There, she begins a journey causing her to question everything she believes about life, death, memories, and reincarnation.


The summary for this novel was too intriguing to pass up, so I entered the Goodreads Giveaway and to my surprise, I won a copy! I've never read any other books by Cat Winters but I've heard her name and her other novels mentioned before. Also, an early reviewer for my book, The Rosegiver, noted that the book reminded her of the writing of Cat Winters except tailored to a YA crowd. After reading Yesternight, I can only hope to ever write as well as Ms. Winters.

The story moved along at a slow pace, but this time, it didn't bother me as much because the plot and dialogue were so interesting. There was the mystery of what was happening to the little girl Janie. Why was she recalling events that happened many years before she was even born? And why was she calling herself Violet Sunday? How was she so gifted in advanced math when no one had ever taught her these difficult formulas and equations that she was scribbling all over her bedroom walls?

While the mystery of Janie was evolving, I also enjoyed the main character, psychotherapist Alice Lind's personal story and her struggles to recover from terrible past incidents. I felt the author's writing was lovely and I enjoyed her use of imagery. I also liked the various locations in which the story took place, on a train, a schoolhouse, a hotel that sat upon a cliff by the sea, and an isolated inn named Yesternight with a dubious past. The last chapter ended in a creepy, shocking way that I wouldn't have guessed.

Overall, this was a really enjoyable read and I would recommend this novel to readers of paranormal, historical fiction, and mystery.


Sunday, September 25, 2016

Autumn Tempest

~ It's finally Autumn once again! I've been looking forward to this season ever since, well, Summer began. I'm not a Summer person at all, can't stand the hot temps. My two favorite seasons are Spring and Autumn; the latter for the cooler temps and colorful leaves and in Spring, the abundance of flora and fauna. This is also when darker clothes in hues of aubergine, burgundy, chocolate brown, grey, and black come out of the wardrobe.  

~ Feels like Wyoming here today, the winds are strong and haven't let up since I woke up this morning. Occasionally, we get these strong windstorms here in the inland region of southern California. This made me think of a poem I wrote several years ago:

The Tempest

She gathers leaves beneath 
November's moon, their texture 
reminiscent of linen paper and 
pressed rose petals.  Her auburn 
hair twists and turns in the 
Autumn wind like a red flame.   

Her hands sense the annoyance, 
attempt to tame the wild tresses.  
A temporary fix until the next 
gust has its way, trampling 
through maple leaves and fragile
branches.  Disrupting life in its

Shadows play on white fences; 
she tells them to go away.
They whisper among themselves,
trees bend backwards to hear the
conversation. Shake the secrets
from their limbs where they fall
to the earth in a tempest of gold,
copper, and amber leaves.  

And the cycle begins again.  Raking
and gathering the dead into funeral
pyres.  Lighting prayers.  Then 
watching them burn away her sorrow 
in smoky clouds of redemption.

~ Sept 06 ~