Monday, July 29, 2013

Review: CLINGING TO DECEIT by Elena Martina

Summary: A young girl has been raised her entire life with the idea of an arranged marriage that she freely accepts. However, the future groom needs to be enticed into this engagement with a hefty dowry at a time when his young, romantic heart is passionately attached to another.
The powerful appeal of funds turns tragic for everybody involved, and his family realizes that happiness is not something money can buy. They soon struggle with the murder of a family member that further crushes the young man's dreams for a happy ending. Not able to emotionally recover from it, a final blow imprisons him for life.

Reviewed by: Sandra L.
Rating: 3 stars

Review: What if you were forced to marry someone you didn’t know? Born in Peru, Elena Martina weaves an intriguing tale of a culture bound by archaic practices and traditions.  

“Hassan felt his life and freedom had ended and fought tears.” (15) This is how it all starts out for our main character, Hassan. He doesn’t want to marry a stranger; instead, he wants to get to know this other girl that he noticed in his daily whereabouts.

What shocked me most was that he was going to marry a 14-year old girl, who still called her mother “mommy.”

Although I felt sorry for Hassan for being forced into this wedlock, my feelings toward him changed as I read on, especially right after he stated, “I would never hit a woman, unless she deserved it.” (23) That just blew Hassan out of the water for “great guy;” then he graduated to “cocky and selfish bastard” with his involvement with Seline (his manipulative, mystery girl) and his neglect for his younger siblings.  He definitely didn’t deserve a nice, sweet girl like Aqquela, his arranged bride.

It was frightening to learn how women get treated in third world countries. Ali, Hassan’s father, was mean and scary; I didn’t like him at all.

The book had a colorful mix of greed, drama, deceit, and betrayal. Some scenes made me sad while others just had me confused. How could Aqquela’s family be so blind to the troubles concerning Ali, Hassan, and the rest of the clan?

Executed in a passive style, the writing was brief and contained a fair level of dialogue; it almost read like a summary. There was also a little too much back-and-forth between the characters’ points-of-view. We would constantly switch from one character to another within the same paragraph. Still, a magnitude of potential existed between the pages of this unique tale.

What I liked best about this story was that even though you really couldn’t help despising many of these characters, you still couldn’t wait to find out how it would all end for them.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


Habanera is a wonderfully lively and entertaining journey, alternately humorous and wistful. By the end, you will feel as if you have traveled to one of the most exotic islands on earth, during its most surrealistic historical moment. Dovalpage is a master of quirky, loveable characters, and emotionally resonant narrative. Habanera bursts with the energetic curiosity and hopefulness of youth.
Reviewed by: Celia
Rating: 3 stars
Review: This story is about a young girl coming of age in a historical communist country. It allows us to re-live the struggles and hardships in a Cuba so unlike the one seen with Ricky Ricardo. Centered on one family struggling to break free of Castro’s domineering ways, we experience the history and politics through the astute vision of a little girl named Longina, who is unaware of what’s going on and is just hearing words like “revolution” and “visa” for the very first time. Filled with wholesome and vivid details so precise you can taste it, actually feel it scraping the roof of your tongue. This book will take you back in time and make you experience each day like a blind man trekking through mud.  
Even though this book was a tad too political for my taste, I was still impressed by the author’s impeccable writing skills. A highly recommended book for the history buff.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Interview with Jeff Rivera

Today, we have a special author with us: Jeff Rivera, author of Forever My Lady, which we recently reviewed.

Welcome, Jeff!

1. What inspired you to write a love story?

I was inspired by a real friend's story. I was working at K-Mart at the time. It was my first job after having been homeless and he was starting over too. He was in a work release program where he had been a gang member and was trying to start his life over. We became friends very quickly and he used to come in every day and tell me about this girl that he loved and was trying to change his life around for.  I got the idea of doing a boot camp because I belonged to this screenwriters association in Nevada and this producer visited us and said there was a prison boot camp out there in the middle of the desert, why hadn't someone written a story about it? Those two things and infusing a lot of events had happened in my own life began me on my journey to writing this story.
2. How did you come up with the title?
Well, my friend that I met at K-Mart always talked about his "lady" all the time, and I just thought Forever My Lady would be a great title.
3. Were any of the characters, like Dio, Jennifer, Simon, or Groissant, based on anyone?
Yes, all the characters were based on people I know but usually a combination of people I know. And many of them were based on aspects of me and my own experiences.
4. The main character, Dio, seemed adamant in the fact that he and Jennifer were destined to be together forever. Do you think this is true of some couples? What do you think love is and what is it that makes couples stay together?
I really want to believe that some people are destined to be together. It's very romantic. Now, that I get older, I do think that you can have more than one soul mate in your life time but you'll never forget your first love. That's what Jennifer and Dio are to each other and will always be. No body can take that away from them, ever. There are two schools of thought: Stay together no matter what vs. Life is short, why go through pain and suffering. It's really hard to decide which path you want to go on when you become a couple.
5. Do you think Dio and Jennifer could've worked it out?
That's a really good question. I hope so. I will this, that it is not the end of the two of them. They still have issues to work out.
6. That prison camp was interesting. Did you do any research on that?
Yes, I did. I went to the actual boot camp out in the middle of the desert in Nevada. It was so amazing! I became good friends with the drill instructor, who became one of the inspirations for the Jackson character; he's been amazing.

7. What was your writing process like for this story?

Well, first, it was a screenplay and after Hollywood rejected it, I decided to write it as a novel. I wrote the novel in less than 3 months and published really just the first draft. That's the same draft that ended up getting published by Warner Books.



8. What was the main message that you wanted readers to get from this story?
I think at that time, I wanted people to know that sometimes you have to love someone enough to let them go. And if they're meant to be with you, it will work out eventually, no matter how much it may hurt at the time.


9. Do you feel that your book is an inspiration for Latinas? How so?
I certainly hope so. I think a lot of Latinas can relate to falling in love with someone and then growing past them. It's really hard when you fall in love with someone and then find that you're outgrowing them. 


10. Are you currently working on any other books?
I am working on so many books, it's making my head spin! One of them is the prequel and sequel of Forever My Lady. But it's taken years to get it ready.


11. And, finally, where can we learn more about you and your works?

You can visit or of course, check Amazon. I have tons of books that I'm writing and co-writing there.


Monday, July 1, 2013

Review: FOREVER MY LADY by Jeff Rivera

Dio Rodriguez grew up on the streets and knew all too well the hard, cool feeling of the barrel of a gun tucked down the back of his jeans. But his hard exterior softened when he met Jennifer. Jennifer understands Dio like no one else and makes him want to be a better man. Suddenly a drive-by shooting lands Dio in a prison boot camp and sends Jennifer to the hospital. When Dio learns that Jennifer is pregnant, he realizes that he must find a way to turn his life around and return to his lady. But can trainee Rodriguez get his act together among the hardcases in prison? And will Jennifer be waiting for him if and when he does?

Reviewed by: Celia
Rating: 4 stars

Review: What's a jaina? Not being too familiar with the Chicano slang, that was my first question right from the start of this book. And what was a ruca? Admittedly, I found myself scratching my head at these words, but, at the same time, I couldn't help but be drawn to the raw boldness of the dialogue, a dialogue drooling with a refreshing wit and fierce overtone.

Forever My Lady is the story of Dio, a young Latino from the barrio who has always been judged by his vulgar and robust appearance, but that all changed as soon as he met Jennifer―his lady.  No one could really understand the love he had with her, especially not her parents, who were "like cold tamales that used to be piping hot." (25) It seemed that they would be together forever...until that frightful night that separated them, sending him to prison camp and her to the hospital. Suddenly, she realized that Dio was NOT the guy for her, that she could do better. And who wouldn't think that they could do better than a trouble-making thug? Still, Dio believed that she was the one and would do whatever it took to get her back.

His letter begging her to give him another chance was the same song performed by any gangster after a BIG screw up. Any promise to "straighten up" would be useless and would leave him right in the same spot.  I honestly hoped that Jennifer wouldn't fall for it. I thought that they should both forget about each other and get on with their lives. How naive is it think that someone could wait for you for 50 years? But Dio was a spicy pepper that wouldn't give, even with all that crap he put up with in the prison camp. Perhaps it was his undying love that helped him get through the camp, which was where he meets some funny odd-ball characters, all with their own story of how they got to be where they are. Even the sweet, little Jennifer has her story. This book is just a closet full of secrets.

Rivera's powerful words fill the reader with a fierce empathy. You can't help but feel a little pride as Dio begins to succeed little by little. As time goes by, Dio begins to gain compassion and learns to see that behind a rough exterior lies a beating heart of humanity.

A story of strength, resistance, and will power. A perfect liking to Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men with its colorful array of characters set against a backdrop of a gritty and desolated world, working like burros for a better life.

Please stay tuned for an interview with Jeff Rivera coming up next!