Monday, January 22, 2018

Review: EL DORADO BAY by Mary Schultz

A young U.S.-raised Mexico-born man brings only his hope, his complicated past and his chef’s talent to begin life anew in an isolated Mexican coastal village. When the wreckage of his past closes in, honor and love square off, and the fireworks begin.

Reviewed by: Celia
Rating: 2.5 stars


Review: The plan was to make El Dorado Bay Resort the most unique in all of Mexico. All David wanted was a job and forget the past he left behind. Born in Mexico and raised in the U.S, he aims to forge a new life to where his roots took shape.


Story depicted vibrant and colorful imagery of the Mexican landscapes; however, I felt the plot was somewhat lagging and ambiguous. I couldn’t see a clear lineage in the story. Where was it going? What was the point in all of it? Would we ever reach a definitive conclusion?  I honestly was lost by the whole thing.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Q&A with Philip Rivera



1.       What inspired you to write Suburban Luchador: Tales from Burb Side?

My inspiration for writing Suburban Luchador: Tales from the Burb Side was my sister who encouraged me to take my brief, humorous Facebook posts about life as a husband and father and post them to a blog for a greater audience to enjoy.  



2.       Where did most of the stories come from?

Most of my stories come from comical, slice-of-life scenarios from my misadventures as father, husband, high school teacher and whimsical thinker.


3.       In the summary, it is quoted that “[Suburban Luchador is the] everyday, luchador mask-wearing, suburban family man who's anything but common.” Could you please elaborate?

I consider myself a regular suburban man.  I water my lawn, pull the occasional weed, attempt and fail at various DIY home projects, take the kids to the park, and drive a 2014 minivan that I secretly believe is an illegal street racer.  I live in a fairly normal world, but my imagination adds a humorous spectrum to it.



4.       What are some of the main issues that you explore in this book and why did you explore them?

I explore issues of parenting, marriage and being a high school teacher of migrant students.  I chose these topics because they’re close to my heart and relatable to people from every walk of life.  I also find that misunderstandings between men and women and adults and teenagers are some of the greatest scenarios for humorous writing.



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

The hardest part about writing this book was finding the time to write.  As a father of 3 young children, as soon I get home and the garage door rises, a Pandora’s box lies awaiting.



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

My hope is that my readers will find the joy and humor that is present in our everyday, mundane, life situations.  Because if you can’t laugh about accidentally drinking your son’s urine, what’s the point of living?



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

What I like best about being a writer is being able to share the whimsical, offbeat, and hopefully humorous perspective I have on life.  What I like least is performing this one-man sideshow to an empty or unresponsive room.


8.       Who are some of your favorite authors?

Some of my favorite authors are Jack Handy and Joel C. Rosenberg.


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.)

If my book were to become a movie, the role of Suburban Luchador would be played by Eugenio Derbez.


10.   Are you working on anything right now?

 I am currently working on Suburban Luchador 2: Suburban Luchador vs. The Big Gulp, the second round of ringside suburban stories.


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

As a Hispanic teacher working with migrant youth, I see the hope, imagination and resilience that lies within the upcoming generation. Although many of them grow up in poverty, what they lack in material wealth they possess in cultural riches.  Their families pass on to them the stories from their homeland; consejos about life, spirituality, family and relationships.  I believe these young people will weave these stories into every vocation they fill.  Ours is a culture of stories passed on from generation to generation, so I believe Latino literature will continue to be passed on through today’s young Latinos as they influence social media, academia, and the business world. Estamos en buenas manos!

For more info, visit

Friday, January 5, 2018

Q&A with Jennifer Brasington-Crowley

Jennifer Brasington-Crowley is an author, illustrator, artist and animal advocate. She is a graduate of E.W. Scripps School of Journalism and an advertising copywriter and graphic designer. She has been writing all of her life, from poems and short stories, to children’s books and now contemporary fiction.

She is the author of the Lyndsay and Lainey Lion children’s book series (, as well as contemporary fiction The Woman Who Fell to Earth, Dolphin Song, and Dolphin Magic available for download from

She currently lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, with her husband and children, two dogs and three cats.

Learn more at

1.       What inspired you to write Dolphin Magic: Love Goes On?
I published my first romance novel, Dolphin Song, in February of 2016. The ending was somewhat of a cliff hanger, and I had many people ask me to write the sequel. I admittedly did not want to write a sequel – I had finished the story of Janie and Christian. But after I published my second book, and still had people requesting a sequel to Dolphin Song, I relented. It actually became a joy to write after I decided on the angle I was going to take.
2.       How does this differ from a traditional love story (if it does)?
This story focuses more on familial relationships, and how our upbringing effects our life choices. The romance is quite accidental, and is almost a Shakespearean tragedy more so than a heart-warming romance.
3.       How do dolphins come into play, if at all?
There is a dolphin, a dolphin who made its first appearance in Dolphin Song, acting as a catalyst for change of the main character. In this novel, the dolphin represents hope. Its appearance occurs at desperate times, and again transforms the main characters, offering strength and courage.
4.       What are the intended goals of the main characters?
I want my characters to grow into better versions of themselves after having met the other person. I love how the people you meet in life transform you into the person you become, whether for better or for worse, but in the case of these characters, definitely for the better.
5.       What are some of the main issues that you explore in this book and why did you explore them?
I explore a lot about family ties in this book – how you are connected to family and why, and at what point do you get to make a decision on who you want your family to be. What are your familial obligations and how much do they matter when you are forced to choose between them and something better.
6.       What was the hardest part about writing this book?
The hardest part about writing this book was trying to fulfill my readers’ desire for a sequel, while trying to keep my own integrity and writing a story I felt deserved to be told. Once I had the idea, however, it was a pleasure exploring the characters and developing a story around them.
7.       What do you hope readers will gain from your book?
 I hope to bring emotions to my readers – whether it’s joy or sorrow, hope or despair, being able to move somebody with words is my goal
8.       What do you like best and what do you like least about being a writer?
I love bringing characters to life. I am not an action/adventure writer. I love character development and being able to transform a character from the beginning to the end of the story. What I like least about being a writer is selling my goods. It’s difficult to be an introverted creative and put on a salesman hat and hock your wares.
9.       Who are some of your favorite authors?
I love Ray Bradbury, Edgar Allen Poe, James Herriot, and I recently discovered a contemporary author T. C. Boyle. I love rich characters and moving stories, and I love a wicked ending. I am not a happily ever after reader.
10.   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 think Gabriel Aubrey with his green eyes and wavy surfer hair would be a beautiful Christian, and Genesis Rodriguez would make a lovely Marina – gorgeous, scrappy and independent.  The part of Miguel would hands-down be played by Ruben Blades. Oscar Isaac (my sister-in-law’s – who greatly inspired the character of Marina - cousin) would play the luscious Jaime. It’s all planned out now, let’s make a movie!
11.   Are you working on anything right now?
I am always searching for my next story, for inspiration to hit me and get my creative energy flowing. But right now, I am focused on promoting Dolphin Magic until I get that surge.
12.   And, finally, what do you think is in store for the future of Latino literature?
I would think that with the advancement of Latinos in the entertainment industry, like television shows like The Walking Dead and its spinoff, Fear the Walking Dead, which feature prevalent Latino characters, that authors would be inclined to write with more Latino heroes and heroines. It is time for a Latino superhero, don’t you think?


Thursday, December 21, 2017

Review: I’M SNOBBITY SNOWMAN by Maria Bardyukova and Quiet Riley

Snobbity Snowman has everything a snowman could possibly want: a shiny hat, freshly-picked noses and enough pride to last a lifetime. In fact, he is so egocentric that he can't even see when his life starts falling apart.

What disasters must take place to open his charcoal eyes? To help him see that pride and possessions cannot bring true happiness? Will he defrost his chilly ego and embrace the warmth of friendship? Only Snobbity can tell.

Depicting winter in rich and whimsical tones, Snobbity Snowman’s quirky characters and unexpected twists promise to leave a lasting impression on all its snobbulous readers.

Reviewed by: Celia
Rating: 3 stars

Review: This is the story of a snobby snowman that learns to see the light in his ways. It was kind of like the snowman’s version of Scrooge.

Illustrations were cute. I especially liked the facial expressions. I wish the text could’ve interacted more with the images. The images were so lively while the text just stood at the bottom of the page.

Overall, this was an okay holiday story.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017


Author Paz Ellis takes readers on a cross-cultural and trans-generational journey through her childhood in New Jersey to adulthood with Plantains and the 7 Plagues, A Memoir: Half-Dominican, Half-Cuban and Full Life.

Paz insightfully describes, the complexities and contradictions of growing up in the United States to a Dominican mother and a Cuban father. From her mother’s obsessive cleaning rituals to her father’s remarkable knack for invention, this book beautifully explains what living a hyphenated-life means for so many Hispanics. She writes about what it means to be American, and Cuban, and Dominican, and having to be all of those things and only one of them… all at the same time.

Following the passing of her mother, the author finds herself on a search for meaning through not only her past, but also her mother’s. This book is about life, loss, memory, culture, and family, the glue that determines who your family actually is- love. Written with a healthy dose of wit and an abundance of sincerity, Plantains and the 7 Plagues is honest, painfully relatable, and deeply heartfelt

Reviewed by: Celia
Rating: 3.5 stars


Review: Born a “mutt,” Paz Ellis writes a memoir dating back to the courtship of her parents through her childhood in New Jersey.  

With witty sentiment and reverence, this story is a simply poignant recollection of a young girl’s life as she transitions into adulthood. Although lengthy and monotonous at times, Ellis still manages to bring her story to life. Her story is so insightfully detailed that it puts the reader in the author’s shoes, walking around in a half-Cuban/half-Dominican world.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Review: MASQUERADING OUR LOVE by Audrey Rich

Junior year has been tough on Thalía Reynari.

A new high school, trying to fit in with new friends, schoolwork, family commitments. With everything going on in her life, Thalía could use a break, an adventure.

So when Thalía meets Christopher, the most gorgeous guy in town, her life should change for the better, right?

Don’t bet on it.

Thalía’s conservative parents insist she’s too young to date. Plus, Thalía and Christopher find themselves caught in the middle of a simmering feud that’s kept the two families apart for a decade. And no one is sure if young love will be enough to bridge this divide.

As they hide their relationship behind masks they must decide if this new love is worth losing their parents’ approval.

First-time novelist Audrey Rich imbues Masquerading Our Love with the joy and pain of how teens live life today as they wrestle with love, friendship, and faith. Thalía, Christopher, and Rich’s entire cast of characters is so vibrant, so alive, that they’re sure to leap off the page—and into your heart.

Buy this stand alone novel and lose yourself in a clean, wholesome story about young love determined to stay matter what.

Reviewed by:  Celia
Rating: 3 stars


Review: Surrounded by her new high school’s crowd of Beamers, Lexis, and Benzes, Thalía Reynari was the “clunker” of Stonehaven. Always academically driven and her nose in a book, she has always been the odd-girl-out and wouldn’t dare trade in her non-social status for the in-crowd…well, unless she’d have a shot at Parade Guy, for whom she might disobey her parents for.

As the story progresses, a whole slew of characters enter the scene, which portray the typical high school setting. It definitely brings you back to high school with all the various cliques and nameless faces. Story just had some characters that you forgot almost instantly—just like high school. It probably would’ve been better if the story had limited some of these characters.  

Thalía is a smart, endearing character that readers could look up to, but I guess I had a hard time understanding her journey. Did she want to be a swimmer or a life guard? What was her purpose?  And who was Parade Guy and why was he called that?

For me, the story had more questions than answers. The writing was good, but I just could not connect with the character or the story.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Review: DEAD SEASONS by R.M. James

A group of four wedding goers, on their way to California, get lost somewhere in Kansas. The car doesn’t work. Reception is down. And morning has mysteriously become evening. In utter confusion, they search their surroundings, only to find a dead girl, rotting in a creek.

They discover this small town is more than what it seems. From its undisclosed location, vacant establishments, and the bestial creature lurking in the shadows. When they come across the townsfolk, who take a keen interest in them, the four are then forced to participate in a simulation game, where newcomers must play to be allowed to leave.

In this place, their fears manifest into tangible forms meant to kill them. Sanity gets tested. Doubt consumes each unwilling player. Yet no one knows the exact rules of the game. Except for one detail. If you don’t play, you die. There can only be one winner.

Seasons change as the four contestants try to make it out of town alive.

Reviewed by: Sandra
Rating: 4 stars

Review: A group of friends get stranded in the middle of Kansas, where they stumble onto the body of a dead girl. Tension and emotions run high among the group as the struggle for escape reaches critical levels, especially when a killer is still out there. Possibly human or animal…something that is part dog or wolf? Whatever it was, it was hungry.
Somehow, one of them—Canela Robles—wanders off and encounters a man with a butcher knife. His name was Gabriel, a convict just released from prison. Now, he joins the group, which leaves everyone wondering who to trust. Who can you confide in? And who are you truly safe with? In fact, one just has to wonder who (or what) was the real danger. And “fear could do strange things to people.” (72)
The characters’ fears and secrets rise to the surface as their lives interweave into a fantastically spellbinding tale of suspense and horror.  Eventually, they realize that they’re stuck in some twisted game, and everyone’s a player. What kind of game? And what happens if you lose?

Mystery and surprise are unveiled in every corner of this book. At times, you can’t make sense of what’s going on because of all the cryptic info. Were they running from wildebeests or man-hunting cannibals?  Also, some of the details can be pretty sick. It was almost hard to take. In fact, this book struck me as a cross-over between Jeepers Creepers and Cabin Fever.

Still, well-written and strangely gripping.