The Romance Reviews

The Romance Reviews

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Ying Yang: Weddings and Amy Winehouse

Last summer, I re-connected with a friend from elementary school. Widowed for a while, she met a man who treated her wonderfully, and she was in the early stages of planning her wedding. That wedding is now a week away. 

Tomorrow, for the first time in NYC history, the first same sex marriages will legally take place and I am sitting here listening to Amy Winehouse warbling "Moody's Mood for Love".  You must be asking yourselves: "What do the two have in common?"

Well, here's my thinking:  Weddings are joyous events.  The bride is the center of attention and she is Queen for the Day.  Weddings bring about feelings of excitement and families get together in happiness; people become reacquainted; you hear songs of love, happiness and the future.  A new beginning is on the horizon.  The future is bright!

Funerals evoke feelings of sadness, hurt, pain that emerges from the abyss of your soul.  Unbearable pain.  Families get together embraced by and in a joint sorrow.  Conversations revolve around what could have been.  The deceased -- or rather-- the life led by the deceased is analyzed and solutions to the poor soul's issues are tossed around. It is the end of an era. There is nothing but darkness.  This is what I imagine might happen at Amy's funeral, as is common.  People just can't help themselves.

But what about that person who's life is being dissected?  Amy Winehouse was a tortured soul who just wanted to be loved.  Everybody wants to be loved, right?  But who really knows what goes on in a person's life?  Amy's soulful torch songs; her showy performance style and her lifestyle hinted at a search for something.  I believe all she wanted was to be loved and accepted as she was ... a la Billie Holiday.

I think it must be similar for same sex couples.  My friend's wedding got me thinking about all the same sex committment ceremonies I'd been invited to and attended over the years.  There is only one couple among them that will not legalize their union.  They are in the minority.  I am ecstactic that New York City has risen to the occasion!  It is wonderful to know that my hometown recognizes that love is love, no matter it's presentation.  It was a long hard road; one hard travelled.

Amy Winehouse, you WERE loved honey.  You just didn't see it.  Maybe you couldn't, but I hope your soul finds some peace.


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Howdy people!

Sinner here!  So, did you miss me?    I missed you guys and I'm happy to be here because I'm getting better every day.  But I still don't know what's happened to my baby.....

Anyhow, it's been a very long while since I've visited.  I'd say too long, wouldn't you?  A lot has happened since I last spent some time with you all.  So, let me begin:

The last time I was here was May 15.  Wow!  Has it really been that long?  Well, I guess it has been.  OK. Well --  since then, Minnie's been to Puerto Rico to visit with her Mom for her 90th birthday in June -- but don't get it twisted people.  It was no picnic.  Minnie's Mom is very sick and bedridden, but she is alert and really enjoyed her birthday.  Her brother hired a band to serenade her with songs of her youth.  It was very emotional.  It was the first time in a long time she was able to sustain herself in her wheelchair for any length of time.

Just a few hours after arriving home after her trip, Minnie went and adopted herself a cat -- a 17 pound grey and white cat named Bosco.  He's a fat cat and she's put him on a diet! LOL!!

Then things started to happen!  Minnie started following this guy on twitter ... some guy named Jorge Salgado-Reyes.  He's a PI you know, but she followed him .. get it??  HAHA!!  Anyhow, this guy is also the founder and  manager of an indie publishing company called Indie Authors Press.  So this Jorge guy gets it in his head that he wants to put her under the spotlight.  I thought she committed some sort of crime.  I told her not to do it, but she did!  I was scared for her, but it turns out that it was for an interview series on his forum!! DUH!!  This is what happened:

Next thing you know she agrees to sign on with his company and write books for them!!!  Here!  Here's the announcement:

You know?  They also have a Writer's / Beta Readers Circle for you authors reading this.  Check it out:  It's a confidential forum, so if you want to participate, you'll have to join.  It's free!  So you should join!!  They offer blogs too .. for free!  It's all free on that website!  Cool, huh?

Anyhow, back to Minnie, here's her author page:

Her bio is here for those two people who still don't know who she is:  Those of you who don't know her -- what are you, living under a rock??

Good for her though!! I'm very happy for her and she's very excited about this deal.  And don't tell anybody, but this guy seems pretty cool too .. the thing is, like I said before,  come closer...HE'S A PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR IN REAL LIFE!!!  Ssssh!!  She better watch her step!!  That gave me an idea!  Do you think he could help me find my baby?  Could somebody ask him?  Please?

So now she's all about her writing!  What's up with that??  She's forgotten all about me!!  Well ... that's not true.  She recently had a release party for my story and she read an excerpt that went really well.  Everyone sat in rapt attention.  I love it when that happens!  There were so many people ... some she never even met!!  And, my story is selling like hotcakes at her office after some executive decided to run a story on her in their company e-newsletter.  That is good for me.  Her company has offices everywhere!!  She's getting phone calls from people and she's talking to people she hasn't spoken to in a long time and she's happy.  I also think she is planning to make my story available right here on her blog, so look for that in the next couple of days.  And between you and I, I know she has copies at her home, so you can get your copy really quickly when you place an order for it here AND she WILL sign it!  I'll make sure of that! 

Oh! Oh!  Here she comes.  I'm going to go now.  I don't want her to be mad at me for being on her computer.  Be nice to her people!  Leave a comment or send her a tweet letting her know that you all encouraged me to write because you missed me, OK?

I'll be back soon.....


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Pandora's Box Book Blitz -- Guest Post by Katie Salidas!!

Happy Release Day Katie!!!

It is my pleasure to have Ms. Katie Salidas as a guest blogger here today on the day of the release of her paranormal novel, Pandora's Box!!  I asked Katie to talk about the origins of vampires and their legends. 

Also, if you are tweeting about this event, please use the following hashtags:  #Giveaways, #PandorasBox, #KatieSalidas, #Blitz #VBTCafe, #virtualbooktours . BK (tour host) is tracking based on those tags. Her Twitter is @bk36 Katie's is @Quixotickatie

So, without further ado, here is Katie's guest post! 

What are the origins of vampires? While the word “vampire” is a relatively new term (circa 1800’s), the idea of bloodsucking undead has been around since the dawn of time. Some legends state that simply being buried improperly can cause a human to reanimate as a vampire, Slavic legends for example.  Other legends stat that one must have committed a heinous crime to become the undead. There are other legends about animals jumping over a corpse. Some popular ideas that have been adapted to fiction, have vampires as the children of Cain or Lilith. Still more involve demonic spirits and possessions.   If we seek far back into mythology you’ll find the Greeks and Romans believed in demonic spirits themselves and in many ways they were the prototype of the common vampire of today.
That hooked me! I love ancient mythology and happened across some very interesting similarities between creatures of the ancient Greek world and the vampires I wanted to create.

The Keres, in fact were dead ringers for what I had in mind. Daughters of Nyx, Greek goddess of the night, these creatures are described as winged female death spirits with an insatiable lust for human blood. Perfect!
According to my research they were also one of the evils released when Pandora opened the fabled box (You’ll find this link in my newest release, Pandora’s Box as well). While they sound fearsome and probably would be, they weren’t exactly evil. They existed in a murky gray area of morality. They were agents of the fates, also known as Death Fates.  They did not attack people openly or without reason. They did however; hang around battles waiting for someone to fall. That’s when they swarmed, finishing the poor dying man off, savoring their blood as they sent his soul to Hades. They essentially sped a person’s fate on to its course. If you were going to die, they’d be there to do it and drink your blood at the same time.

I fell in love, not literally of course, with the creature and knew I just had to base my vampire legend off of them somehow.
In the first book, Immortalis Carpe Noctem, Lysander explains to Alyssa the origin of the vampire species.  He tells her that the first “vampire” was created by a mating of one of the Keres with a dying man she encountered on the battlefield. The resulting child was immortal, like its mother, and carried the same insatiable bloodlust, but had the features of its father. Being a hybrid and the only one of its kind, Nyx (essentially Grandma) cursed it to the night so that she could keep watch and protect it.

The use of the legend doesn’t stop there however. As the Immortalis series progresses we delve deeper and deeper into the history. In Hunters & Prey, we are reminded of the fact that a human-turn-vampire is not a dead creature, they are “changed” but that change must happen properly. If not done correctly it will create a hideous abomination. In the third book in this series Pandora’s Box, we’ll delve even deeper into the legend’s origins and learn more about the first vampire and what became of it. Along with that, we also learn about other supernatural creatures and how closely they are linked to vampires.

Needless to say I really do love my vampires and the legends they spawned from and I hope you will too.  Please enjoy the Immortalis Series!

Now, before you go, participate in the giveaways!! It's going to be fun! Here's my post from early this morning with all the details:
And there you have it!!  Read 'em and enjoy!!


Pandora's Box Book Blitz - One Day Only!!!

The day has finally arrived!!!  Katie Salidas' third book in her Immortalis Series, Pandora's Box releases today!!! 

On June 27th I wrote a review and offered a giveaway (congratulations to Bryanna!) for the first in the series, Immortalis Carpe Noctem.  This is the link:

The following day I did the same thing for the second in the series, Hunters and Prey, (which no one has won -- why?).  Here's the link for that:

I am extremely happy to participate in this one day Book Blitz Tour for the release of Pandora's Box along with a host of other bloggers! There will be a bunch of giveaways and you could be the grand prize winner of a signed print copy of this exciting new release!  Katie will also be a guest blogger on participating blogs, including this one!  All you have to do is leave a comment on all the blogs that Katie visits and once you have, send me an email at and I will enter your name into the drawing.  Once it has been verified that you did indeed leave a comment at each pit stop, a winner will be drawn.  Everyone has a chance to win! 

A Meet & Greet along with the entire schedule will be live at at Midnight on July 12.   I've also listed all the participating bloggers below if it makes it easier for you to do it from here.  So let's get these comments in!

Here is the schedule:


Here is the schedule:

Meet & Greet at
Guest Blogging at
Guest Blogging at
Guest Blogging and Giveaway at
Guest Blogging and Giveaway at
Review and Giveaway at
Giveaway at
Guest Blogging and Giveaway at
Guest Blogging and Giveaway at
Guest Blogging and Giveaway at
Review and Giveaway at
Guest Blogging at
Guest Blogging and Giveaway at
Guest Blogging and Giveaway at
Review, Guest Blogging and Giveaway at
Guest Blogging at
Review and Giveaway at
Guest Blogging at
Review at
Interview at
Review, Guest Blogging and Giveaway at
Review, Guest Blogging and Giveaway at
Spotlight at
Interview at
Spotlight at

Good luck everyone!!


Monday, July 11, 2011

My Book Signing Event - Musings


Friday night, July 8, 2011 was my first ever book signing event.  I woke early and while still in bed, read and responded to the emails, tweets, and facebook messages that had come in overnight.  An hour later, I got out of bed, said my prayers, had my coffee, showered and headed out. 

It was hot and humid and sticky and I was cranky!  I didn't want anyone near me so I disappeared into my own world with Meat Loaf, yea, Meat Loaf screaming in my ear from my iPod.  If I weren't out in public, I would have been singing at the top of my lungs scaring everyone away, cause I can NOT sing to save my life!  On my way home from running my errands something hot plopped on my bare shoulder.  A flying rodent (a NYC pigeon) had pooped on my shoulder!  Great!  I hoped that was not a sign of things to come!

I arrived home, showered again, dressed, made some phone calls then headed out to the site of my signing around 4:15 Eastern.  Everything seemed to be going on schedule, so why did the sky open up as soon as I got to my courtyard to meet my cab?  It began to pour.  I didn't focus on the rain, instead I fiddled with my blackberry and tried to not think about it.  Arriving at the site, I began to set up and about an hour later people began to trickle in. 

As people began to arrive, I began to relax.  I was so, so touched to see so many people come out in the rainstorm to support me.  My daughter, my sister and my brother in law; my good friend Miriam, who was my party-partner and room-mate when we were both going through divorces in the 80's arrived soon after, Johanna Pitcairn my co-worker, friend and collaborator -- was there as well. 

When my old friends, Carmelo and Belinda walked through the door, I almost lost it!  One of the attorneys I report to directly showed up with his wife; my co-workers, my daughter's co-workers.  When my cousin and her daughter, Tiffany -- who is my god-daughter and who impressed me so -- arrived, I was through -- I hadn't seen her in years and when I spotted her, we hugged so tight I thought we would both need CPR!!

There were new faces as well and some very interesting people.  I finally got it together and we proceeded with the reading, the raffle and signing. The grand prize was won by my "new cousin", Soly Nana, who wore a grin from ear to ear after winning!  She's so cute!!  Fun was had by all -- at least I hope so!!

During the signing, I loved talking to all my guests individually, but was really shocked to see so many people standing on line, patiently waiting for their turn so I could sign their newly purchased copy of Sinner's Ride!

Overall, despite the rainstorm, which caused us to lose our wifi signal, it was an awesome event!!

I want to thank, from the bottom of my heart, all those who have supported me all along and who joined me in this celebration as well as those who were there for me as I took this journey.  My sponsors, The Arctic Circle/Finns of New York and in particular, Kristina Anne Reilly, Nina and Harriet Kulmala who were instrumental in making this happen!  It was a pleasure working with them!!

I am excited about the way things have turned out and now that I've found my passion, I will continue working hard at weaving the kinds of stories that keep you interested, engaged and wanting more!!  The future is bright!!

Thank you!!


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Sinner's Ride - Book Signing/Release Party -- Update

It is 10:30 p.m. EST and I am exhausted!!! I haven't really slept all week except for a few cat-naps a couple of hours at a time due to anxiety.

I wanted to post an update to my last post regarding my book signing/release party tomorrow evening, Friday, July 8, 2011, before crashing as I suspect I will.

So here goes: As much as I wanted to stream the whole event, I won't be doing that as it isn't really practical. Instead we will stream my introduction, a reading from Sinner's Ride, a question and answer session followed by as much as we can get of the raffle drawing and the acceptance of the donation by the representative of the Safe Horizon Bronx District.

You can go to around 7 p.m. Eastern. Also, I will be recording this so that those that are unable to watch it live can do so at their leisure.

Again, if you are in the NYC area and would like to join us, please do! Though rain is forecasted for tomorrow, there is no need to worry. The Delancey Rooftop Garden has a retractable roof, so this event will take place rain or shine!

For directions to The Delancey:

168 Delancey Street
New York, NY
212- 254-9920

The Delancey is located on the North East side of Delancey Street between Clinton and Attorney, at the base of the Williamsburg Bridge.

By Subway:
Take the J, M or Z train to the Essex Street stop or the F train to Delancey Street stop. Please refer to for more details.

By Car:
From Brooklyn, take the first right off of the Williamsburg Bridge onto Clinton Street.

From Uptown Manhattan, take 2nd Ave. to Houston St., turn right on Ridge street, and right onto Delancey. The Delancey is between Attorney and Clinton Streets.
And for your viewing pleasure, here is a gallery:​/gallery.html
Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Upcoming Sinner's Ride Event - Friday, July 8, 2011

This coming Friday, July 8th my sponsors, The Arctic Circle/Finns of New York and I will be hosting my very first Release and Book Signing Party! Can you say nervous? *laughing nervously*!

It will begin at 6 p.m. Eastern in the (now) trendy Lower East Side, here in NYC, at a place called The Delancey. We were lucky enough to secure the Rooftop Garden with our very own specially created drink - Sinner's Punch - for the occasion. I think that's hysterical! LOL!!

Here's a gallery:

The event will stream live on ustream and I will also be recording it for later viewing for those who wish to do that. I will post further details by Thursday here as well as on Twitter:  @Lahongrais

Yes, I am extremely nervous, I am anxious and I am petrified! But I've learned in life you've just got to put one foot in front of the other and keep it moving. My anxiety stems from the fact that there will be people attending who I work with (bosses - past and present; clients); family members I haven't had much to do with (two generations worth!) and friends, some of whom I haven't seen in decades but have been in contact with thanks to the internet.

You might already know that I have a soft spot for battered women and children. Therefore, the highlight of the evening, for me, will not be me or even the book for that matter. What I am MOST excited about is the potential for raising some money for a Women's Shelter here in the Bronx! We're holding two raffles. The rafflle tickets will not go for any set price. What I will do is ask people to donate whatever they could for each ticket, while I keep my fingers crossed they will be generous. All proceeds will be donated to the designated shelter with a presentation made to a representative of the Bronx District of Safe Horizon!

Cool! Right?

Then I'm going to drink!

So stay tuned....

Hasta pronto!


Sunday, July 3, 2011

Interviews, and Writing and Events -- Oh My!

Greetings friends!

It's a very rainy day here in The Big Apple, and though I am EXHAUSTED I am exhilarated!  It's been a very busy week, filled with very satisfying happenings!

My week began with an "Author Spotlight" interview with my friend Katie Salidas on her blog (  Katie is the author of the popular Immortalis vampire series.

She also featured an excerpt of the first chapter of "Sinner's Ride", however, be forewarned, this is not a G-rated excerpt.  Continuing on, I participated in her Virtual Tour in anticipation of the release of the third book in her series "Pandora's Box" and wrote reviews for the first two books in her series.  That experience was really, really cool!

My work week went well, busy, but normal.  By the end of the week I, along with other authors (Michael R. Hicks and Paul Antony Jones) were being interviewed by Jorge Salgado-Reyes on the Indie Authors Press "Shining the Spotlight on .." series (  This one was really interesting.  It's on a forum where not only Jorge asks you questions, but so do viewers of the thread and you truly are virtually under a spotlight.  This is an ongoing interview and can take place over several days.  Also on the site, you can join to become a participant of a Writers/Beta Readers Circle and share ideas, support other indie writers/authors and do critiques.

Regarding ongoing work, I've slowly begun to focus again on my ongoing WIP,  "The Radocians" series and "Resurrection of Dead Dreams" which will be book one.  This one's much harder to write than "Sinner's Ride" was because it's so personal, but I think it is that personal touch that will make it interesting.

Things on the family side are fun too!  My grandson is now heading to the fourth grade and my daughter seems happier than I've seen her in a while.  The highlight was spending time with my nephew/son who was in town.  It's crazy when the three of those get together!  It was like having a house full of kids again!  They drove me crazy -- but it was a good crazy!  Today, I'm taking my grandson and his friend to see "Green Lantern", and a burger dinner afterward.  I'm telling you, I have had my fill of kids' movies!

And finally, my book signing event which is this coming Friday!  I am a little nervous -- not good being in the spotlight like that.  I am more the observant/in the background type.  But, I am extremely excited and I can not wait to see friends and family members I haven't seen in a long time.  Some of those people I haven't seen in decades!  So psyched!  So, for more info on that event, please go to  If you are in the NYC area on Friday, please consider joining us.  Lots of fun stuff planned, including a specially created drink just for the occasion is in store!

I can't leave this space without plugging my book :)  Remember, "Sinner's Ride" is available in e-book format, so why don't you download a copy before you go to the beach?

Have a safe and happy Fourth of July weekend!!