Thursday, June 22, 2017

Pen Name

~ I've decided to write under a pen name for all of my works of fiction, which at the moment is just one...(you gotta start somewhere, right?).  I'll still write poetry under the name Sandy Benitez but I've moved The Rosegiver, my gothic fantasy novel under Margret Moss.  I made this choice because I wanted there to be a distinction between lighter and darker works. It so happens that most of my fiction ideas tend toward darker fantasy or paranormal anyway.

I'm currently working on a paranormal novelette, which I hope to finish by this Fall. It's derived from an earlier short story that I wrote. Why a novelette you ask?  I may be weird this way, but I actually prefer short books, whether they be novellas or novelettes. I'm not worried about them being marketable or even selling copies, these are stories that I have floating around in my head that need to sprout wings and take flight.

My alter ego, Margret Moss, can be found on Goodreads and she also has her own fancy website: Stop by, won't you.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Jane of Austin by Hillary Manton Lodge

“Know your own happiness. You want nothing but patience - or give it a more fascinating name, call it hope.”―Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility

Just a few years after their father’s business scandal shatters their lives, Jane and Celia Woodward find themselves forced out of their San Francisco tea shop. The last thing Jane wants is to leave their beloved shop on Valencia Street, but when Celia insists on a move to Austin, Texas, the sisters pack up their kid sister Margot and Jane’s tea plants, determined to start over yet again.

But life in Austin isn’t all sweet tea and breakfast tacos. Their unusual living situation is challenging and unspoken words begin to fester between Jane and Celia. When Jane meets and falls for up-and-coming musician Sean Willis, the chasm grows deeper.

While Sean seems to charm everyone in his path, one person is immune – retired Marine Captain Callum Beckett. Callum never meant to leave the military, but the twin losses of his father and his left leg have returned him to the place he least expected—Texas. 

In this modern spin on the Austen classic, Sense and Sensibility, the Woodward sisters must contend with new ingredients in unfamiliar kitchens, a dash of heartbreak, and the fragile hope that maybe home isn't so far away.

REVIEW:  This was a sweet, modern take on the novel, Sense and Sensibility. The story begins in San Francisco, where the sisters live and where the two older sisters run a quaint tea salon in a victorian house. The third sister is much younger, a teen. New owners soon take over the building, increasing the rent to a price that the sisters can no longer afford to pay. So, they venture south to Austin, Texas to begin anew.

During their short time in Austin, there is romance, a love triangle of sorts, tragedy, heartache, but also resilience. The scenes I enjoyed most weren't actually the romantic scenes, but those of Jane as she talked about her tea making methods and the desserts she enjoyed conjuring up. I wish there were  scenes depicting the new tea salon but those were only brought out near the end of the story and were scant. I do like how the author included actual recipes for tea, desserts, and other fare in the book. This reminded me of the Little Paris books by Nina George.

I would recommend this book to readers of romance. I was given this book for free in exchange for an honest review from Blogging for Books.


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Muddy River Poetry Review Spring Issue

~ The Spring 2017 Issue of Muddy River Poetry Review is out!  Three of my poems: Bleeding Hearts, House of Dust, and The Entomologist and Butterfly Specialist (Found Poem) are in this hefty issue along with more than 40 other poets.  Check it out today!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Surviving Death by Leslie Kean

While exploring the evidence for an afterlife, I witnessed some unbelievable things that are not supposed to be possible in our material world. Yet they were unavoidably and undeniably real. Despite my initial doubt, I came to realize that there are still aspects of Nature which are neither understood or accepted, even though their reality has profound implications for understanding the true breadth of the human psyche and its possible continuity after death. 

So begins Leslie Kean s impeccably researched, page-turning investigation revealing stunning and wide-ranging evidence suggesting that consciousness survives death. Here she continues her examination of unexplained phenomena that began with her provocative and controversial New York TimesbestsellerUFOs: Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials Go on the Record. 

Kean explores the most compelling case studies involving young children reporting verifiable details from past lives, contemporary mediums who seem to defy the boundaries of the brain and the material world, apparitions providing information about their lives on earth, and ordinary people who recount some of the most extraordinary near-death experiences ever recorded. Kean's first book, and her credibility as a seasoned and well-respected journalist, made people take notice of a topic that many considered implausible. This book will do the same this time enriched by Kean s reactions to her own perplexing experiences encountered while she probed the universal question concerning all of us: Is there life after death?"

REVIEW:  I've always wondered, for as long as I can remember, if there is anything beyond physical death. When I spotted this book on Blogging for Books, I knew I had to read it and I was fortunate enough to order the last available print copy for review.

There are some fascinating real life stories and situations in this book that can't be explained rationally. One of the stories I was already familiar with, after watching it on tv a few years ago. This was the story of the young boy who felt he had lived a previous life as a Hollywood agent and actor.  He mentioned many facts about this man's life that were accurate and even relayed them to the deceased man's sister, which she verified. How could a young boy know all of this information about him?  Truly mind boggling.

I learned some new things as well, such as kids who believed they were reincarnated were also born with birthmarks on the exact same body parts where the deceased person was fatally injured. Other must read chapters include mediums and psychics, the author's own supernatural experiences involving her deceased brother, which were plentiful, apparitions, visitations, and hauntings, to name a few. The few chapters that personally didn't interest me as much, I admit I skimmed through and those involved seances, trances, and physical mediumship.  

Overall, I think the author and researcher, Leslie Kean, wrote a highly fascinating and honest book.  You can tell she spent many years studying the topic and compiled a lot of information throughout her research.  Technical terms used in the book were hard to remember at times and there were areas that were dry and too drawn out.  After reading this book, I'm still not sure what to think about something beyond physical death. There may be a possibility that consciousness lives on, outside our bodies but then you wonder, where does it go in the meantime?  Do we all eventually become reincarnated into someone or something else?

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Goodreads Giveaway Winners - Cherry Blossom Days

~ Congrats to Janet, Tera, and Michael!!!  Winners of Cherry Blossom Days Goodreads Giveaway.  I'll have the signed copies to you very soon and I do hope that you enjoy the chapbook.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Raven and The White Rose

~ Just started dabbling in digital art again. This is a gothic piece I recently created titled, Raven and The White Rose.

copyright Sandy Benitez 

Monday, April 17, 2017

The Fall by Bethany Griffin

Madeline Usher is doomed.

She has spent her life fighting fate, and she thought she was succeeding. Until she woke up in a coffin.

Ushers die young. Ushers are cursed. Ushers can never leave their house, a house that haunts and is haunted, a house that almost seems to have a mind of its own. Madeline’s life—revealed through short bursts of memory—has hinged around her desperate plan to escape, to save herself and her brother. Her only chance lies in destroying the house.

In the end, can Madeline keep her own sanity and bring the house down? The Fall is a literary psychological thriller, reimagining Edgar Allan Poe’s classic The Fall of the House of Usher.

REVIEW:  Anyone looking for an atmospheric, gothic story should read this book. It's engaging from the first few pages until the very end. I found it very hard to put the book down at times. I love the dark, gothic imagery of the manor and its surroundings. The main character, Madeline Usher, is melancholy yet inquisitive and brave as she struggles to release the hold that the manor has on her and her twin brother, Roderick. And who could not love her loyal wolfhound, Cassandra.