Monday, May 23, 2011

Review: Evenings at the Argentine Club

Today we feature Evenings at the Argentine Club by Julia Amante

Victor and Jaqueline Torres imagined moving to the U.S. would bring happiness and prosperity-instead they found a world of frustration. While Victor put long hours into his restaurant business, Jaqui devoted her life to her daughters, until they grew up and moved on. Even their eldest, Victoria, is torn trying to reconcile being the perfect Argentine daughter and an independent American woman. Antonio and Lucia Orteli face the same realities, especially when their only son Eric leaves their close-knit Argentine community in pursuit of his own dreams. When Eric unexpectedly shows up at the Argentine Club-the heart of the Argentine community in southern California-he starts a series of events that will bring these two families closer than ever. New relationships are formed and old ones are put to the test, as everyone must learn how to balance different

Reviewed by: Sandra Lopez

Review: The whole story centers around the Argentine Club--a business owned by a working family that migrated to America for a better life. Victor, the father, who wants to leave something "great" before leaving this life; Victoria, the daughter, who never wanted to run her father's business; and Jaqueline, the mother, who fears she may no longer love her husband. Eventually, another family enters the story: Antonia, Lucia, and their son, Eric.

Written from a multi-character perspective, this book pulls you into a world of Argentine culture and values. With every character's personal issues, the story takes on a complexity that intertwines into the livelihood (and gossip) of the club. At times, I felt that there were too many characters to keep track of. I usually like it when a story is centered more on one, two, or even three characters at most. With this story, I sometimes asked myself, "Whose dad was he again?" I kept forgetting. But that was mostly in the beginning. Luckily, I got to know the characters more and more as I got deeper into the book.

Each chapter had a tad too much drama for my taste that it sometimes felt exhausting; however, as secrets are slowly revealed, you can't help but find out how it all ends. I enjoyed the blossoming romance between Victoria and Eric. Growing up, they began as friends; but they ended up falling into a deep love that they could not get anywhere else. It was like falling in love with the kid next door--the kid that kept all your secrets, the one that never made fun of you, the one that always accepted you for the way you were and still hung out with you. Those two were great together! But with Eric at the possibility of leaving again and Victoria finally going after her dreams, I couldn't help but wonder how things were going to turn out for them. A must read!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Review: Beyond the Gardens

Today we feature a book by one of our favorite Latina authors (the one who designed this blog, BTW,) Sandra Lopez! Her newest YA novel has been out for almost two years now and has received some great reviews. We are proud to present our review for Beyond the Gardens.

At the age of 18, Esperanza Ignacio begins her college years at an upscale Los Angeles art school, where she studies to fulfill her long-term dream in Animation. But she soon learns the truth to the old folktale: “you can take the girl out of the barrio, but you can’t take the barrio out of the girl.” Even though she’s getting financial aid, Esperanza works a part-time job during her break from classes just to make ends meet. Her roommate, Anna, is what she calls a “chicana from Beverly Hills” because of the rich daddy and the new car she got for her quinceaƱera.

Things get a little confusing for Esperanza when an old friend comes looking for her, hoping to start a meaningful relationship. But is Carlos the right guy for her? She never even considered him to be anything more than a friend since high school. Then comes Jake, a gorgeous mechanic, who shares her passion for books and loves her for who she is. What’s a girl to do?

Strength and determination help pave the way for the future. And, as she approaches her graduation, she is faced with a difficult decision: should she leave Los Angeles and leave behind her family, her home, and everything she’s known? Ever since she was born in the California barrio of Hawaiian Gardens, she’s always had to look over the fence, wondering what she’s been missing. Now she’s taking a flying leap over to see what’s beyond the little barrio. What’s beyond her family, her friends, and her past? What’s beyond the little nothing town, where dreams don’t exist? What’s beyond The Gardens? Is it life, love, a future? The story of Esperanza is finally concluded in this wildly entertaining and heart-warming sequel.

Reviewed by: Bela M.

Review: After reading Esperanza, you can bet how much I was looking forward to reading this sequel. Esperanza is now in college! She is living her life the way she’s always wanted—on campus away from her mother and barrio neighborhood. Suddenly, her life is upended when friends from her past re-enter: Carlos, who is now interested in her romantically, and his sister, Carla, who had urged Esperanza to marry her brother in high school. Esperanza also contends with her roommate, a rich Chicana; and with Jake, a hunky mechanic who seems to be her soulmate. Life becomes complicated for Esperanza as she constantly wonders what is "beyond the gardens" of her barrio, and what life can possibly hold for her.

This was a very quick and enjoyable read.

Lopez’s story comes across as a somewhat autobiographical fiction, and her character, Esperanza, is someone I really liked. She’s neurotic, an over-achiever, and totally entertaining. She’s a young Latina from the barrio, making a life for herself by breaking out of all expectations and stereotypes. I love this about her, and I think most of us can see ourselves in her.

This is a love story and an inspiration to young ladies who are less apt to try to be beauty queens and more likely to try and use their brains to better themselves. Funny and romantic. Be sure to jot down the name Sandra Lopez as you will be hearing more from her in the future.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Cinco de Mayo Winner!

And the winner is.......

Patricia of Patricia's Dreams


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Cinco de Mayo Giveaway!

In honor of Cinco de Mayo, we have a new giveaway.


  1. To enter, please post a comment in this entry with your name and email address

  2. Only U.S. residents are eligible (No international o PO box address)

  3. Entries must be posted by midnight, 12pm, Pacific Standard Time on May 8, 2011

  4. A winner will be announced on May 9, 2011

Good luck!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Review: Hot Tamara

Hot Tamara by Mary Castillo

Tamara Contreras will never again settle for unmemorable sex. Her long-time boyfriend may look perfect to her traditional Mexican-American parents -- something Tamara has never been -- but at twenty-six she wants more from life than marriage and motherhood. So in front of everyone, Tamara does the unthinkable: She turns down her boyfriend's unexpected marriage proposal and leaves home for L.A.

Tamara thinks she's got the single-girl-in-the-city thing down, until she runs into Will Benavides, the former high school bad boy turned firefighter. If Tamara's parents had known how Will lit up her teenage fantasies, she'd have been shipped off to the nuns for sure! Now Will wants to make those fantasies come true permanently.

When an unexpected opportunity lands in her lap and Tamara has to choose between the career and the man of her dreams, she wonders if maybe la familia was right after all . . .

Reviewed by: Bela M.

Rated: Review: FAIR WARNING: Right away in chapter one, you get hit with this confusing Spanish--"La va a pesar" and "No le veo la punta." What does that mean? Has the author even heard Spanish?

The story then begins with a public proposal to Tamara, who has been living under the control and constant scrutiny of her overbearing mother. C'mon, how can anyone say "no" to a proposal with everyone watching and expecting you to say "yes?" I would've ran away from the scene too. I would've looked like the road runner and left dust trails in my speed.

Then Will enters the picture. He is so HOT! Reminds me of (fireman) Geoff Stults from 7th Heaven--that church show. And Will was an artist too! Hot!

I did not like the whole back-and-forth thing when Will and Tamara had their first kiss. It was annoying and really unnecessary to the flow. It was like listening to a song, then, half way through, stopping it and having to go back to the first part.

The whole thing is written in multi-character perspective, which is fine with me; but I just don't like it when the perspective keeps changing in the same chapter, in the same paragraph. The author should've kept that more uniform. Also, the attraction between Will and Tamara was sort've surreal--in other words, not genuine. It seemed like they were just slapped together at the last minute to make the story work. And, another thing, the book was full of awkward phrasing, like, "Her hair whispered against the pillow." Hair doesn't whisper! I don't even know what this means. No doubt about it that this book could've used some more editing.

Overall, this is an okay book if you like a fast and easy Harlequin Romance with VERY LITTLE Spanish flavor (honestly, you can hardly even taste it.)