Thursday, August 13, 2015

Review: STOCKHOLM DIARIES, CAROLINE by Rebecca Hunter

In this sexy contemporary romance, a Swedish pro hockey player with a rough reputation meets the American girl next door in a steamy twist of travel and adventure. Will they be able to overcome a dark past to turn their sensual nights into something more?

Photographer Caroline Mendoza finally sheds her safe life in Michigan for adventure and a fresh start, and her first stop is Sweden. But Stockholm suddenly becomes more than just a casual stopover when Caroline discovers her reclusive next-door neighbor is ex-Red Wings player Niklas Almquist, whose high-profile alpha bad-boy image, both on and off the ice, has followed him back to Sweden.

While Niklas’s darker side draws her to him, she knows the sensible decision is to move on from Stockholm before she gets too attached. Her time in Stockholm is running out. She must choose between what is safe and what her heart tells her is right. Is she strong enough to take the risk?
  




Reviewed by: Bela
Rating: 3.5 stars

 

Review: This is the story of Caroline Mendoza living life in Stockholm, the capital of Sweden. Her job is an interesting one: she is supposed to write an article (max two) in various countries throughout the whole summer.  It doesn’t pay much and she has “to fund the rest of [her] way around the world.” (9) Still, I wish I could get a job like that. I’m always marveled by Latinas in travel.

Then she meets Niklas, the “friendly” Swedish neighbor. Strange how he always looks like he’s been in a fight. Was he a hockey player? Of course, he was!

I did wonder why Caroline was attracted to this rude brute of a man—and he was a man, a BIG man. Mmm, maybe that’s why.

Hockey seems to be a major thing in Sweden and it played a key role in the book. Too bad I’m not a sports fanatic.

Story was a bit mediocre with mild portions of wit and playfulness. However, I believe readers will be able to relate to Caroline, especially her stubborn independence, her bleak finances, and her relentless ambition to see the world. It’s true how Mexican fathers will insinuate that traveling women are less likely to find a husband, which, according to them, should be #1 on the list, and I like that Caroline and Veronica are two Latinas that don’t follow the tradition. Go, chicas!

The real battle, of course, is the painful, confusing one between love and sports. Can Caroline and Niklas make it work? "Would the electric attraction between them run its course by the end of her time in Stockholm, or would it change into something much harder to break away from?" (61) Will their unexpected love survive?

Like sports, the romance is an intense and powerful one; it is hard to decipher and tough on the heart.





Monday, August 10, 2015

Q&A with Rebecca Hunter

Rebecca is a writer, editor and translator who has always loved to read and travel. Though she has been involved in book projects for many years, she only recently branched out into writing her own fiction. Actually, writing her first novel was a birthday present to herself... her 29th birthday, in case you're wondering, though possibly not her first 29th birthday.
 
This first novel dissolved into a complicated mess, but out of its ashes rose a new idea, an idea for an entire series, in fact: Stockholm Diaries. The stories are born from the author's love of and longing for Stockholm as well as all the wonderful romance potential that the city holds for both visitors and long-time residents. And, as you may have guessed, it is also part of the setting for her own private Stockholm Diaries story.
 
Rebecca has, over the years, called many places home, including Michigan, where she grew up, New York City, San Francisco, and, of course, Stockholm, Sweden. After their most recent move from Sweden back to the San Francisco Bay Area, she and her husband assured each other they'll never move again.
 
Well, probably not.
 
 
 
 
 
 
1.       What inspired you to write STOCKHOLM DIARIES, CAROLINE? My husband is Swedish, and we have lived in Sweden twice. Both times, I met women from around the world with interesting, unique stories about meeting Swedish men and moving to Sweden. These stories involved chance meetings, uncertain risks and sacrifice, all in the name of love. The whole Stockholm Diaries series is a kind of tribute to all these stories.
 
 
2.       What was the development process like? I started this book with character ideas. In Caroline, I wanted someone who was completely new to Sweden and in some ways completely out of place, but I also wanted to create a character that was already intimately familiar with the aspects of belonging or not belonging. This is where her father’s history comes in: As an immigrant from Mexico, he struggled with the pull of duel loyalties, and to some extent Caroline does, too. So when Caroline contemplates her friend Veronica’s situation in Stockholm and then, in Book Two, considers the possibility of moving there herself, I wanted her to understand the complexity of that decision, both for her and for her family.
Niklas was a little more straightforward. I'm (morbidly) intrigued by the idea that many professional sports reward aggression, but the players are supposed to be able to shut that part of them down off the ice/court/field. This can’t be easy, and I wanted to explore how that might play out in an essentially good guy.
 
 
3.       Did you relate to the main character, Caroline, in any way? If so, what? There are many pieces of Caroline’s life that came from my own experiences. I myself grew up in Michigan and studied at the University of Michigan, and like Caroline, I had early tastes of the world beyond the Great Lakes and wanted to explore it. Also like Caroline, I fell in love with a Swedish man, and we have lived together in Sweden twice.
But I should probably also add that Caroline’s life is certainly not my own!
 
 
 
4.       Why did you choose Stockholm as the setting for Caroline? Stockholm was my own home for three years, so this is a tribute to a city I know and love. One fundamental idea behind my Stockholm Diaries series is to explore romance and love with someone who comes from a different background—both the appeals and the difficulties.
 
 
5.       What was the hardest part about writing this book? The hardest part for me was to stick closely enough to the romance plot and not travel too far down the roads of other sub-plots. In the end, I cut some of Caroline’s personal history from the story because it didn’t add to the momentum of the plot. Sometimes it’s difficult for me to stick within the boundaries of a romance plot, but it’s the genre that connects with the most readers.
 
 
 
6.       What do you hope readers will gain from your book? The book is romance fiction, so first and foremost I hope that readers immerse themselves in Caroline’s world and enjoy the journey. But I do believe there is a place in genre fiction for ideas. At the recent Romance Writers of American national conference, author Piper Huguley was quoted as saying, “Fiction helps see the humanity in others, regardless of culture or sexual orientation.” This is where I hope to make my mark, however small. I hope audiences of all different backgrounds will see my Latina character as interesting and relatable, as our anchor of familiar in a foreign world. In this small way, I think genre fiction has a place in influencing the way we think of “us” in the United States.
 
 
 
7.       What do you like best and what do you like least about being a writer? Both the best and the worst thing about begin a writer is taking a jumble of ideas and turning them into a coherent story! Taking kernels of characters and plots and following them through to a finished product is a long project full of unexpected turns, much like juggling a dozen or so balls at the same time. The moments of realizations, the moments where the process moves along smoothly or the dialogue comes together in one, tight bundle—those are the best moments of being a writer. But for me, the worst part is the flip side of that same process, the unsuccessful struggle to figure out what isn’t working and how to fix it.
 
 
8.       Who are some of your favorite authors? Hmm… where do I start? George Orwell’s 1984 is a masterpiece I can read again and again, as is Joseph Heller’s Catch-22. I love Kurt Vonnegut, Donna Tartt, Thomas Pynchon… I guess you could say I'm a typical U.S. English major in my tastes! My favorite romance is probably Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera, a book I’ve read at least ten times. The book explores romance and love without falling into cliché—a rarity!
 
 
 
9.       If your book would be turned into a movie, who would you imagine playing the part of the main character? (Actor can be ANYONE, living or dead.) I imagine Caroline as sexy but understated, quiet and introspective. As is typical in romance, the couple is on the cover of my book, so it’s a little hard to think outside that! But if I were to cast someone, I think I’d pick Odette Annable, who seems to have the right demeanor, though she’s played a wide range of characters.
 
 
10.   Are you working on anything right now? Always! I'm usually working on at least two projects in various states. Right now, I'm making the last changes in short story #1 of 4 in the Stockholm Diaries, Alice series. It’s out on submission for an anthology, but if it’s not accepted there, I’ll release it myself later this summer on Kindle Unlimited. I'm also in the middle of the first draft of a non-fiction book called The Reading Writer: An English Teacher’s Guide to Better Romance Writing Through Reading.  And, as if that weren’t enough, I'm getting started on a short story that will fit between the two Stockholm Diaries, Caroline stories: working title is “Niklas in Italy.”
 
 
11.   And, finally, what do you think is in store for the future of Latino literature? I'm not sure I can speak about the future of Latino literature, but I do think I can speak on the future of North American literature, especially in the romance genre. I am not Latina and did not not set out to write Latino literature per se, but my starting point is based on experience: I visited my then-boyfriend’s family in Puebla years ago. My book features two Latinas with very different personalities and backgrounds. This is where I think North American literature is headed: writing complex, nuanced characters who represent all different experiences and backgrounds. My characters are the creative outcome of the ideas I wanted to explore—Caroline is a relatable romance heroine first, and her Mexican roots are one important part of her among many. I do believe literature shapes our culture and the way we relate to each other. I think North American literature is broadening the concept of “us,” and I hope to be a part of that.     
 
 For more info, visit http://www.rebeccahunterwriter.com/
 
UP NEXT: A review of Stockholm Diaries, Caroline.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 

Friday, July 24, 2015

Review: HIS-PANIC: THE EARLY YEARS by Eddie Cisneros

Antonio wanted the normalities of a childhood, but that wasn't the hand he was dealt. . . Instead, he got a heroin addicted AIDS victim as a mother and an abusive drug dealing step-father... Witness the birth of a kingpin in a world littered with money, guns, murder, and an odd assortment of characters that make up Antonio Pintero's life. "I was considered a drug dealer. Any sympathy my heart felt slowly faded with each year I grew older. How far do you think I went?" HIS-Time... HIS-Life... HIS-Story... HIS-Panic


Reviewed by: Celia
Rating: 3.5 stars 

Review: This is the harrowing story of Antonio Pintero in 1970’s New York. From the time he was born to a drug-addict mother with AIDS, Antonio hasn’t had an easy life. By the time he was 5-years old, he was out on the street selling drugs for his hot-tempered and abusive stepfather. By 12, he had his own gang.

I did kind of wonder why we switched from Antonio to two detectives half way through the novel. Who were these guys? I thought this was Antonio’s story. Was he eventually going to get arrested by the two cops? Were the two cops going to be corrupted by Antonio? Was a big showdown about to happen in the end? Were the cops in the present or the future? It was confusing and a bit disconcerting.

Poignant and raw, HIS-panic is a heart-wrenching and powerful story that is all too real. It is filled with hardships, drugs, and violence that both innervate and sedate the reader.  It makes sense that all Antonio talks about are drugs and gangs since it was all he knew, but it grows wearisome.


Overall, this is a captivating coming-of-age story that is nearly on the same plateau as the works of Luis Rodriguez. In fact, Cisneros could be his successor.



Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Q&A with Eddie Cisneros


Employed as a doorman for over twenty one years, Edward Cisneros “Eddie C.” has been quoted as saying, “I am not a doorman who chooses to write, but a writer who happens to be a doorman.” Apart from his novel series, HIS-PANIC, Eddie has two finished screenplays under his belt. A stylized thriller titled BEND about New York City homicide detectives on the trial of a serial killer and its sequel. He also served as contributing writer for a real estate website with bi-weekly posts entitled, “A Doorman Speaks.” Eddie has resided in Queens, New York, for much of his life, and it is where he continues to live with his family. He is currently setting up a website, but he can be found on TWITTER; readers can connect by searching @EddieCauthor


  1. What inspired you to write HIS-PANIC: THE EARLY YEARS?

In general, I've always had a love for writing. Whether it was short stories or even attempting to write screenplays. The passion and creativity have always been there. His-Panic came about as an idea that was constantly brewing in my head. And while the book itself is purely fictional, it is bundled with little things from my childhood memories. Growing up with a group of friends and hanging out. Seeing things going down in the neighborhood. Some people I knew or even know. And suddenly one day, all these ideas and memories just basically came together and pretty much turned into a truly powerful story about this one person's life that's laced with an influence of New York and Hispanic culture. Yet, I believe all kinds of people can relate to the story in itself.


2. What was the development process like?

I did some research. Even though I grew up during the seventies, when it comes to certain dates in time or even talking about certain police procedures and lingo, you kind of want to be spot on in order to give whatever story you're writing that much credibility. Make it that much believable. As for the drugs aspect of the story, again, there is some research involved but at the same time, I go back to those things I saw growing up. People that lived in the area. You kind of never forget that stuff and it makes for great writing.


3. Did you relate to the main character, Antonio, in any way? If so, what?

Not to skirt around the question but I guess, yes and no. Obviously, Antonio is this battered individual. The story opens up and here is this character laying on a bed and he has tears forming in his eyes, and he kind of feels like this is the beginning of the end for him. On that level, I'm definitely not like Antonio. As for the nostalgia of hanging out with a core group of friends, those moments we shared, yes, I can relate. As for the drugs? It is what it is. I wouldn't go out and say I was some big time hustler. But, again, you grow up, you see things, and yes, you do certain things whether on a big scale or a small one. Thankfully for me, I'm doing alright with my full time job, raising a family and living life.


4. What was the hardest part about writing this book?

Trying to balance the story out emotional wise. There are quite a few moments where the book really hits hard. I've gotten so many comments on one particular scene. I don't want to give away too much but it involves little Antonio, his step father and a certain broken glass on the kitchen floor. In between some of these scenes, you want to try and maybe throw in some light stuff or even the action, hence the detectives that come into play at one point in the story. At the end of the day, this is a fictional story/series and there is going to be so much stuff happening. As the series goes on, I'd say the hardest part is keeping all the subplots running smoothly as different characters get introduced. I want to make sure that everything comes full circle and finishes off right.


5. What do you hope readers will gain from your book?

While you get caught up in the story, entertainment wise, I kind of do want readers to perhaps dwell for a moment that Antonio's story, his life, is sometimes the true story of a lot of young children that grow up in impoverished surroundings. Its children that grow up knowing the street way of life because they lack positive role models in their life and because of that they become products of the environment. Antonio's character is a very complex one as readers who stick with the series will find out because for a good portion of his life, he feels disconnected, he lacks faith, and this is why he does or acts on things. As he gets older, it is here where Antonio finally realizes he wants to try and make certain situations in his life better. But there's always a price that has to be paid based on a person's actions.


6. What inspired you to be a writer?

I know growing up I had this wild imagination. It was a love for movies, horror ones especially, that my friends and I were dead set on filming a low budget horror movie in our neighborhood. I even worked on a script and everything. Writing to me has always been something that I truly enjoyed. The entire creative process, you know? Being able to make up characters and then putting them into whatever situations you can come up with, but putting it together so well, that you can actually visualize what you're reading. This to me is what writing is all about.


7. What do you like best and what do you like least about being a writer?

Like I said before, the creative process is great. It's an open canvas to let go, let ideas just run wild. What I dread the most from writing, I'd have to say is the editing process. There are a few editing annoyances. One is and no matter what, it will happen, when you re-read your story and suddenly something doesn't sound right. A few sentences might get changed into an entire different scene. You definitely go through phases where you love what you write and then you simply hate it to death. If you're fortunate enough and you've finally found an editor for your book, then yeah, that's another equaling headache. To have something you've written, thought was the best literary piece this side of Shakespeare, and then finally given back to you all chopped up and re-worded. 


8. Who are some of your favorite authors?

I absolutely enjoy dark stuff, horror. So I've read my share of Stephen King, Dean R. Koontz and Clive Barker. Oh yeah, and this new up and coming Latino writer, Eddie H. Cisneros. I heard his stuff is hot. I'm sorry. I just had to do that. Lol.


9. If your book would be turned into a movie, who would you imagine playing the part of Antonio?


Wow. That's a tricky one because the series depicts Antonio at different stages of his life. I'd say a full adult, perhaps an Alex Gonzalez or maybe even a Diego Boneta. These are two low key actors who have done some mainstream but mostly series stuff, some movies here and there. I think the look fits. You definitely want to attract a women audience as well so these guys could hold their own. I mean I certainly can't write and act as well. I just can't do it all. Lol.



10. Are you working on anything right now?

I am currently working on the last installment of HIS-Panic. This one is subtitled Absolution. I already have everything in my head, I know exactly what is going to happen I even know some dialogue. The crazy part of that is when a writer actually gets to those last two words, THE END. I know it will feel emotional and bittersweet. I do want to get back into writing screenplays. I've had this wild story in my head for such a long time. A horror movie titled Vicious. Its a road trip movie about two estranged brothers who kind of get to bonding only to pick up the wrong hitchhiker along their trip. That's  when everything pretty much goes down hill from there.



11.  And finally, what do you think is in store for the future of Latino literature?

I believe there are quite a few up and coming authors out there. I would love to get to a point where perhaps I'm even classified in such a list. I think its important for Latino's as a whole to embrace these authors, books in general. In order to break a notion how I once read, that Latino's don't really read. If so, then maybe its time that more Latino characters are introduced in books, characters with strong voices and opinions. I mean, we have stories too. Whether fictional or non fiction, I think it's important for our culture to also make its mark through the literary word.      
         

1.        

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Spotlight: Antonio Rodríguez Hernández


  

 
 

Antonio Rodríguez Hernández was born in Totana, Murcia in 1945 in the midst of the post-civil war era. Working for the Telefónica, he spent most of his life involved in the technical world where literature and poetry were things very far removed from his day to day life.

  Due to a private family happening in 1990, he started to embrace the poetry; writing small snippets, which he kept hidden in a drawer until, in 1995, he made the bold decision to select some of them and form his first book of poems called ‘Jugando a Poetas’.

  From that moment on he dedicated his life to writing. Antonio was entered into some literary competitions, such as the ‘Gregorio Parra’ and ‘Villa de Aledo’ and he has won several, such as ¨La Cárcel¨ in Totana (Murcia) in 1999 and 2000, also AAC de Alguazas (Murcia) in 2001.

 

So far, Antonio Rodríguez Hernández has published 22 poetry books including:

 

Con nocturnidad y alebosía (2001)

101 Haiku (2001)

al fin y al cabo (2002)

A propósito de lo nuestro (2003)

Poemas para un tiempo final (2004)

 

7 novels including:

 

La alargada sombra del Rey de Bastos (2003)

En el nombre de Roma (2013)

El monje de Gorma (2015)

and Cerro Verde (2010), which has been translated into English and called ‘Silver Bullets’(2015).







SILVER BULLETS

A Novel by Antonio Rodríguez Hernández 

The end of the Civil War did not mean the beginning of peace for most of the Spanish people because it was not part of the victors plans to heal all wounds. 
From 1939 the ill-fated word was ‘Purging’.
Every Spaniard, whether victorious or defeated, was obligated to state that their past did not influence their willingness to live in the 'New Spain’.
The Fascists were the conquerors and the Communists were outcast as ‘bad seeds’ with no opportunities in normal society.
In the region of Axarquía Malagueña a group of Spanish Maquis tried to survive, maintaining their Republican ideals against intense pressures from the Franco regime.
This is a story of two friends forced to fight on opposite sides under the irrationality of their circumstances, knowing that in war, there are no winners!





"Silver Bullets is a historical novel about one of the cruelest periods in the history of Spain: The bloody aftermath of the Civil War (1936-1939).

The history of the author´s father is prodigiously documented, perfectly recounted and accompanied by photographs to further enhance the experience.

A collective tragedy narrated with passion"

Juan Ruiz García  ~  Caja de Semillas

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Q&A with Adex Garza


Adex was born and raised in Plainview, Texas. After attending Texas Tech University for three and a half years, he decided to move to Los Angeles in order to pursue his professional aspirations. He is currently working on "Ripped", the sequel to "Grip", and a television series, "Stush".




1. What inspired you to write Grip? 

GRIP is actually inspired by what inexperienced during my own weight loss journey and growing up in Texas. One thing I do want to make clear, though, is that I didn't write it with ill intentions, quite the contrary actually.

I couldn't be more thankful to the incredible sport of artistic gymnastics, the guy who inspired Gable Cask and the incomparable state of Texas for the memories I cherish and the person they molded me into. 




2. How did Declan’s character develop throughout the story and what did he learn in the end?
When we meet Declan, he's already in rehab and his reticent nature is painfully apparent, however, as the narrative progresses the reader is, hopefully, able to understand why Declan has grown reticent through the flashbacks and therapy sessions. It isn't until the end the reader, again, hopefully, realizes that it's not so much the lesson(s) he learned that are imperative to the story, but his own resilience and how he's able to use it in order to inspire those around him that counts. 




3. What was the hardest part about writing this book?
The entire book was difficult to write, to begin with, but the more I wrote, the more cathartic it became. I was able to breathe better, and even relax, which is something I hadn't done in years up to that point. 

However Chapter 36 was a particularly ghastly segment to write. I would go into detail, but I feel like the chapter itself is pretty self explanatory. 

 

4. What do you hope readers will gain from your book?
More than anything, I want to be able to help someone who is going through what I went through, and see that they're not alone. I want to give hope to those who can't see the light at end of the tunnel, because I didn't see it for the longest time; I didn't have anyone for me there, until rehab. I want whomever reads this to know that they shouldn't be afraid to be the best version of themselves due to someone else's bigotry and ignorance. 




5. What inspired you to be a writer?
I think the most ironic aspect of this all is how much I never imagined myself a writer. I swore up and down I would be a designer and, at most, a singer/songwriter with all the Grammys in the world. 


Now, at 24, I see that I have a responsibility to my people, and by that I mean first generation immigrants, I mean the LGBTQIAAP community, and I mean those with eating disorders. I must fight to make a change for us.




6. What do you like best and what do you like least about being a writer?
The best part about being a writer is being able to use your words to entertain someone. Storytelling is something that goes back a couple generations in my family, so it definitely makes me happy. 

As far as what I least like about being a writer? The system. I've talked to some of my contemporaries and It's extremely discouraging to up and comers to see mediocrity praised and have money thrown at it, while the rest of us work our butts off to provide the world with quality literature. It's almost infuriating to see poorly written fan fiction earn millions while the rest of us have to get by with whatever means necessary. Which is not to speak ill about anyone's hustle, because... Hey, by all means, stack your paper, boo boo, but just know that it's discouraging to those who actually put effort into our work.




7. Who are some of your favorite authors?
As far as classical authors go, I love Hemingway, Steinbeck, Austen, Christie and Orwell.

Contemporary authors include JK Rowling, Meg Cabot, Sophie Kinsella, and Stephen King. 

 

8. Are you working on anything right now?
Apart from working for Joel Flora at Joel Flora Photography, aka the best photographer in the business Winking faceI am working on the first draft to RIPPED, the sequel to GRIP, STUSH which is a television series I wrote, and a couple side projects that are still in very early stages of development. 




9. If your book was made into a movie, who do you see playing the role of Declan? (You can pick any actor, living or dead)

Well, immediately after STUSH, that is the goal. As far as who would play Declan? Well, I wouldn't want anyone else to portray "me" but myself because I am Latino, and there needs to be more Latino actors on screen... That, and I'm selfish when it comes to things of that nature. As far as Gable goes, I would kill for MTV "Awkward"'s Beau Mirchoff. Yes, he's easy on the eyes, but I believe him to have the acting chops to really bring Gable's character to life... Not to mention he looks like an almost carbon copy of Gable. As far as the rest of the cast, I'd love Jennifer Hudson to play Dr. Anderson, even though it's a male part. Kevin Spacey would make for a great Coach Johnson, Shailene Woodley or Selena Gomez would be incredible for Karen and Jax Pinchalk rounding out the main cast as Skylar.




10. And, finally, what do you think is in store for the future of Latino literature?
Definitely a stronger presence in not only the literary sense, but in all other aspects of the media. I may be one voice, but one voice turns into two and so on and so forth. 

I've chosen to be a part of this industry, not for the fame, like many others, but for the power that comes with success. I want to be an advocate for those like me. I want to make a change. The last words I told my mom before driving off were, "I WILL change the world," so I want for little kids to look at me and say, "I'm going to do it, because he did it." 

I won't stop until I've amassed the Pulitzer, Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony because I want first generationals to realize that they don't necessarily have to give up on their dreams because they're big... In fact, it's because those dreams are so big that they can be accomplished, because those who dare to dream big are the ones that achieve what they seek. Not to mention that I do hope to make my parents proud some day.