Thursday, May 21, 2015

Review: DUE DILIGENCE by Owen Parr

Based on true events.
This fictional novel will leave you wondering.
DUE DILIGENCE is a fast paced romantic thriller. It will take you on a journey full of intrigue, double crosses, corporate takeovers, money laundering, assassinations and a sinful love affair. Let your imagination wander as you witness the Cuban government's attempt to launder their illicit gains of over forty years utilizing our own Wall Street.
Owen has written a unique fictional novel, incorporating his over 27 years with Wall Street companies. Born in Havana, Cuba and later growing up in Miami during the drug-war years, he has woven a tale that will leave you breathless. His creativity and first hand experiences make this a fast paced riveting suspense-filled thriller.
You'll ask: could this really happen?

Reviewed by: Malin
Rating: 2 stars

Review: This is the story of Alex and Julia, two Cubans that happen to cross paths in Paris; however, this is not your typical love story. Set against the backdrop of Cuba's social politics and vibrant landscapes, Due Diligence is a tale of corruption and power. Through the eyes of Fidel Castro, a crucial character in the plot, readers are introduced to an enriching history of Cuba and a ploy to commandeer a government.

It would seem that there is conspiracy lurking in the shadows, and somehow Alex and Julia are tossed in the mix. Alex is this hard-core, CIA militant with a boxer's build and Julia is a descendant of the 1st president of Cuba. Although they are two vital pieces in this convoluted chess match, they somehow created a sparkling chemistry, adding a strong romantic element to this covert thriller.

For the most part, this was a well-written and exquisitely crafted story, but, personally, I'm not big on politics, so some of the details were a bit daunting and complex. I find that this would be better suited for those who are into army-style and political co-ops.  

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Q&A with Owen Parr

Owen Parr has written a unique fictional novel. Utilizing his experiences of over a quater of a century working for Wall Street firms. Born in Havana, Cuba and later growing up in Miami through the 'drug war' years, he has woven a tale incorporating his first hand experiences and creativity into a fast paced riveting suspense-filled story.

Published author of articles in trade magazines. Hobby painter of acrylics on canvasses and middle of the road golfer, Owen spends his day still employed in the financial advice industry.

Newly married at the age of nineteen he pursued a career in electrical engineering until boredom set in. From there he went to own and operate his own multi-branch real estate firm and licensing school until the years of 21% prime interest rates circa 1980's.

Since 1986 he has been employed in the financial advice industry. During this time he has written articles for the local paper, political ramblings for his blog and screenplays that he is now converting into fictional novels.

Still married to his high-school sweetheart, he is often heard asking for a 'table for ten' to accomodate his two lovely daughters, four grandchildren and yes, the son-in-laws.

  1. What inspired you to write Due Diligence?

It started as a screenplay I wrote in the 1990’s.  My intent was to write a love story, but felt I needed a vehicle with multiple plots to create more of complex story.  Rumors have always swirled that Castro had bought business in Miami and around the world to hide his elicit gains.  Being in the investment banking business myself, I was told by one of my clients that another of my clients was a Castro owned business, which of course it was not.  However, the seed was planted for the main plot to develop the story.


  1. How would you describe the relationship between Alex and Julia?

We are supposed to have one true soul mate.  Alex and Julia have found each other.  However, both are married to other spouses and thus must either ignore the impulse or succumb to the temptation.  If theirs is true love and is wrong, then is their marriage to others right?


  1. In what way did you want to portray Cuba?

Cuba before the Castro revolution was known as the “Jewel of the Caribbean” with abundant natural resources and riches.  After the communist take over of the island, only the elite party members and those in the circle of power enjoy the riches.  The citizenry has become totally dependent of the government for its poop existence.  Cuba became an “outlaw country” exporting communist revolution to Latin America and involving itself in criminal activities.


  1. Were there any historical facts that you acquired for this book? If so, what?

In the book I cite historical accounts of the first elected president of Cuba after the Spanish-American War when Cuba became an independent country in the early 1900’s.  The same president who lower tariffs for American goods, so imports from the U.S. could benefit the island and its people.  In the news today we hear a lot about GITMO, or the U.S. military base in Guantanamo, Cuba.  Again, the first president of Cuba negotiated that agreement.  My main fictional character, Julia, is the great-great granddaughter of the first president of Cuba.


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

Developing a discipline to write everyday.  I had the story well outlined as a result of having written the screenplay, although I made quite a few changes from the original screenplay to the actual published book.


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

I want readers to feel the love between Alex and Julia.  At the same time, I want them to follow the complex plots I developed and be entertained.  Most of my chapters end in a cliff-hanger making this a page-turner.  Readers will also gain an insight into what it takes for a private company to go public on Wall Street and at the same time enjoy the many Cuban culture references in the story.


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

I read somewhere, that writing and publishing a book is similar to undressing in front of your closest 300 friends.  I have certainly felt and feel that way every time someone I know purchases a book.  However, the satisfaction of actually completing the book, your creation in print, is extremely gratifying.  When characters talk to authors, as mine do, and you are able to convert their story on paper and tie it all in plots and sub-plots is exhilarating.


  1. Who are some of your favorite authors? 

I like storytellers like Hemingway.  Historical biographers are one my favorites authors no matter whom.  In the fiction genre I read a lot Clancy, Thor, Dan Brown.



  1. Are you working on anything right now?

Working on a sequel to Due Diligence called “I’m Coming For You”.  Another fictional story involving corporate espionage and of course, a romantic tone.


  1. If your book would be turned into a movie, who would you imagine playing the part of Alex and Julia? (Actors can be ANYONE, living or dead.)

Easy question.  Since I originally wrote the screenplay, I found it convenient to write to a character.  Alex my main male protagonist is Andy Garcia.  Julia my main female protagonist is Michelle Pfeiffer.  My main male antagonist in the book is Rick Ramirez who when I wrote the screenplay I wrote for Armand Asante. 


  1. And, finally, what do you think is in store for the future of Latino literature?
I think as the Latino population of the U.S. begins grow, we should see more and more literature geared towards their interests.  Further, I see more and more Latino writers influencing the American audience with their own brand of literature.  A win-win for both.

To learn more about Owen Parr, visit

Up next: A review of Due Diligence

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Review: MISPLACED by S.L. Hulen

Misplaced takes a glimmer of historical fact and weaves a story of conviction, unlikely friendships and mysterious forces at work in the Land of Enchantment. What are misgivings of a young woman compared to the needs of the greatest nation of the ancient world? Khara’s life has been spent preparing for the day when she will become Egypt’s first ruling woman. A dutiful daughter, she embraces a future already written in stone. Until the day of her coronation, when her father is brutally murdered, plunging the House of Pharaoh into what history will come to know as “70 rulers in 70 days.” To save her life, she is unwittingly thrust into the future where she lands in the Mal Pais of the American Southwest. Confused and alone, she crosses the Mexican border illegally where she is rescued by Victoria Barron, a well-meaning if not emotionally misplaced immigration attorney. Together they must outmaneuver the artifact smuggler bent on keeping Khara, the find of a lifetime in the present for his own gain. Can they find a way to return Khara to the past to claim her destiny? What happens to history as we know it if they fail?  

Reviewed by: Celia
Rating: 2.5 stars

Review: This story begins with Khara, an Egyptian princess destined to take the throne. Before her coronation, her father is brutally murdered. That along with tension and jealousy of a rival sibling gives the story a rather Shakespearean undertone that is both melancholy and theatric.

Suddenly, Khara is on a fierce run for her life and is inexplicably leapfrogged into another body hundreds of years into the future. I still don’t get how she was able to do that. At least we knew it was the Delorean that sent Marty McFly to the future.

We fast-forward somewhere to present-day Texas, to a lost, confused, little girl, who is supposed to be Khara, but this isn’t very clear to the reader at first.

A typical time-travel story blended with historical fiction, Misplaced follows the adventures of a young princess fighting for both her life and the fate of her future. Story seems to be cloaked in a suspenseful mystery that I failed to recognize on account of a slow and uninspiring start followed by an exquisitely convoluted plot. Having read and enjoyed other time-travel stories in the past, I anticipated to enjoy this novel, but, sadly, that wasn’t the case for me. I do, however, see a potential readership for this type of work.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Q&A with S.L. Hulen

S.L. Hulen was born to an American aerospace engineer and a Mexican beauty who met in the flower shop of the famed Hotel Sylvia’s in Ciudad Juarez. The rich history and mysterious locations of the southwest serve as the setting for her first novel, Misplaced.
She presently lives with her husband in Phoenix where the flavors, traditions, and soul of the southwest continue to inspire her.

1.        What inspired you to write MISPLACED?
It’s a story I’ve had in my head for more than twenty years now.  Over time, a few details have changed, but like many authors I’ve spoken to, the initial idea for the story came to me in a dream.


2.        How would you describe the relationship between Menefra and Khara?
Since they’re twins, they’re closer than most siblings, but as they grow into adults, the underlying tension of having their futures chosen for them begins to tear them apart. Khara, the oldest, feels the burden of her position and envies Menefra’s freedom.  Menefra feels unimportant next to her accomplished sister; this fuels the jealousy that eventually rips them apart. 


3.        How was Khara able to use Victoria as her vessel and why?
In Victoria, Khara sees a fiercely independent woman, yet at the same time, one who puts the needs of others above her own.  Khara initially uses Victoria’s generosity to navigate the modern world but very quickly, she engages her as a sounding board, particularly regarding moral issues.


4.       How would you say Victoria and Khara evolved in this story?
I chose the name “Misplaced” because in the beginning of the story, Khara is physically misplaced in time but extremely clear about who she is and the role she must fill.  Victoria on the other hand, knows exactly where she is, but is emotionally misplaced.  My story goal was to show their individual journeys towards discovery.


5.       What are some of the most important lessons that Victoria and Khara learned in their journey?
Victoria’s most important lesson was to learn to trust, she’s done everything on her own for so long that it doesn’t come easily to her.  For Khara, this time away from Egypt gave her time to explore her beliefs and for the first time, she makes a few daring choices of her own.


6.       What was the hardest part about writing this book?
Because I’ve thought about it so much, writing the story was the easiest part. I’d have to say that editing was hard for me.  It’s hard to give up those details that had become so important, even when I realized they didn’t actually help the story line.  During most of the writing of this book I had one and sometimes two full-time jobs, which left little time for writing.  


7.        What do you hope readers will gain from your book?
My goal was to not to fill in every gap, but to leave enough unanswered questions to keep readers pondering the possible historical consequences of such an event. 


8.        What do you like best and what do you like least about being a writer?
Best is easy, I love seeing the characters and their experiences come to life.  What did I like least?  I would have to say that when you undertake a story, you put much of your life on hold.  I am rather a work first and play later sort of person, so I always felt like I had this huge project that I had to be chipping away at all the time.  It was wonderful to finally say, “I’m finished!”


9.       Are you working on anything right now?
I’ve started my next novel.  I think Victoria needs another adventure, and this one will take her deep into Mexico, in search of her family’s history.  She isn’t going to like what she finds….


10.     If your book would be turned into a movie, who would you imagine playing the part of Khara?
I think Zoe Saldana would make a beautiful Khara.  She has a certain seriousness and feline grace about her that I think fits Khara perfectly.  She’ also so exotic looking, and slight, just like Khara. 


11.     And finally, what do you think is in store for the future of Latino literature?
That’s a fantastic question, especially when you consider that there are roughly 40 million Latino readers in this country.  I hope to see more books that target this significant market.  Misplaced will be translated into Spanish, many other authors are doing the same. 

I believe it is our responsibility as writers to chronicle the time in which we live, in my case it happens to be during this wonderful emergency of Latinos appreciating their roots, even as we strive to become model U.S. citizens.  My mother was born in Mexico, I grew up a half-mile from the border and I couldn’t be prouder.

UP NEXT: A review of Misplaced.