Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Book review: Green City Savior by Christen Civiletto


Niagara Falls, New York is known as a honeymoon hotspot to the world. But to the residents of the historic city it is known as a different type of hot spot. Cancer, diseases, toxic waste are all found here, destroying its economy and people. But hope comes in the form of a residential development, a town within a town called Cascata Verde. The Green City. Based on the promise of clean soil and water, the city of Niagara Falls begins to believe they have found their saviour. When it's discovered the earth is still tormented by radioactive waste, they are confronted by the One who can make all things new, their one true Restorer.

'Green City Savior' (a Green City novel) by Christen Civiletto is a moving story, and truly touched home for me. My own family has lived in the Canadian Niagara region since 1812 and the area is dear to my heart. When the novel presents issues with the environment and how it has affected health, it was amazing how true to life it was and it's very clear that Civiletto is passionate about the issue. The novel is told from a few different points of view which helped depict various aspects of the plot and showed how all things, and people, are connected.

What was best about this novel was the steady increase in how the characters relied on God. Civiletto uses scripture to show how, as Christians (and Jews, since the book of Genesis relates to them too) we have been commissioned by our Creator with the care of this earth. We cursed the ground with our sin, but that does not relieve us of our duty to take care of God's creation. In the end, He is the one who can and will make all things new. This theme was really brought out at the end of the novel.

'Green City Saviour' is a lovely novel demonstrating how our sins have affected the earth, and each other. But what's better is that this is a novel that shows the redeeming power of God's love.

Buy it here on Amazon
Visit Christen Civiletto's website

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Blog Tour - "Storm Bride" by J. S. Bangs

Displaying Storm-Bride-800 Cover reveal and Promotional.jpg

“Storm Bride” by J.S. Bangs

“Storm Bride” by J.S. Bangs is a tense drama centered on a fantasy world on the verge of war. On one side is Satose, a stranger from distant lands who follows where the God of the water leads her; and Keshlik, the leader of a warrior tribe seeking revenge for a wrong done to their people many years ago. Grief and rage fuel much of the actions of these characters as battles ensue and people on both sides die. Will this need for revenge consume everyone the war touches or will compassion and peace manage to save the day?

There was a lot of story and character development packed into “Storm Bride” by J. S. Bangs. The world the story is set in is rich in history and in spiritual dogma and left me wanting to learn more and more about it. There are several distinct cultures and groups identified in this world, three of which become embroiled in a savage war. The Yakhat are a homeless warrior group who are looking for revenge and the Prasei are peaceful traders and merchants who have built up a vast empire.

The main characters we get to hear from are well developed and relatable; the reader can easily emphasize with their situations and emotions. They each have their stories of hardship and sorrow and I found myself caught between wanting happy outcomes for both sides even though they were on opposing sides to each other. Because we are able to hear from both sides of the conflict it’s difficult to take a side, and I think that is the idea of the narrative; Bangs wants us to understand war is not about evil against good, the conflict is much murkier than that. You definitely feel like sitting the main characters down in a room together to force them to work out their differences, because in the end they are more similar than they are different, and of course you want the happy ending you know must be coming.

This story is not for the faint of heart; a lot happens in a short space of time and most of it is heartbreaking. It was hard to get to know characters and then face their gruesome deaths, but that just means Bangs did a good job in presenting the characters and pulling you into this world. However I would have liked to see this as a fully-fledged novel, because it had a lot of potential. The world was unique and the lore behind it was incredibly intriguing. The events that were the driving force behind the Yakhat aggression for example could have been explained more since it shaped much of what happened in the book. The character of Satose was also a bit of an enigma, I wanted to learn more about her bitterness, about her life before the story took place and more of her emotional drive rather than simply her actions, but she became more of a mother hen character and submerged her personality in favor of other character’s needs.

This was a strong story with a well-developed plot and a fantastic ending that left me on the edge of my seat and just as happy and relieved as the characters.

If you want to buy this book, you can go to Amazon here:
Author’s Website:

Friday, 20 March 2015

Author Interview - J.C Staudt

A while back I reviewed 'The Infernal Lands' by J.C Staudt. Haven't read the review yet? Go read it, and then go read the novel. And then come back here, of course. I wanted to sit down with J.C to talk about his book and writing process, and with the wonders of technology, we were able to do so!

I had the pleasure of reading your recently released novel 'The Infernal Lands' and I was immediately struck by the depth of it. Can you tell me a little bit about your process? How you put together such a large world with a history such as this?
I've always been both a huge fantasy fan and a follower of the post-apocalyptic genre, but I knew when I set out to write this series that I didn't want it to be just another sword and sorcery tale with knights and dragons and that sort of thing. I also knew I didn't want to set the story in a post-apocalyptic America - or anywhere on earth, for that matter - which is where I think most post-apocalyptic fiction is set. So I guess the closest thing to my line of thinking was, "What would've happened in a place like Middle-Earth if technology had been allowed to advance over about a thousand years, and then one day everything went wrong?" That's sort of the most simplistic way of explaining what I first imagined the Aionach to be like.
So when you started writing, you intended it to be a series, or did it just happen that way?
I think I knew from pretty early on that the story was larger than I'd be able to tell in one book, yes. I'm working on the second book now and I'm still not sure whether I'll be able to wrap it up in three or if it will end up taking four or five.
The genre is post apocalyptic, but not really set on earth. I may have read into it a bit much, but I found parallels with our earth's climate and that of Aionach in terms of global warming. Was that intentional?
I did a ton of research on things like solar flares and solar storms and how the indigenous people in some of earth's hottest climates survive. The fact that the Aionach has a problem with its sun is something I'll be delving into more in the next couple of books as the story continues. There is a definite reason for the light-star's erratic behavior that pertains to the overall narrative. But as far as it being a warning or a political statement about global warming, I didn't intend it to be anything like that. But the scientific aspects of it are all earth-related, yes.
Speaking of research, what kind of research did you conduct? Fantasy and sci-fi are great genres to write because of the relative suspension of reality (for some things) but other than solar flares, was there much else you focused on?
Oh man, that was such a huge part of my process. I can't remember how many different topics I must've researched. Anything and everything that I wasn't absolutely 100% sure about while I was writing, I stopped to read up on it. Just to name a few examples aside from the climate change stuff: maritime navigation (for Lizneth's voyage across the Underground Sea), types of seagoing vessels and sail configurations, sustainable living (for Decylum), biological and neural implants, languages and their construction, rat physiology, and desert flora and fauna. Of course, after I'd written all those scientific descriptions into the first draft, I remembered that I wasn't writing a textbook and stripped them all out again when I went back to revise. I realized that as long as I knew how stuff worked, that was enough.

I'm glad you did that research, because even if it wasn't all in there, it showed you knew what you were talking about. It made it a lot easier to trust your writing and continue reading.
I figured if I was putting it in there, it ought to hold up to at least some suspension of disbelief!
What made you decide to have different species/races, and what influenced the creation of them?
I decided to include non-human (but sentient) species for a few different reasons. One reason was that I wanted to test myself. I wanted to see if I could humanize a character who wasn't human and then put her in situations that would make readers feel like they could identify with her. I also wanted to try to present a species that experiences life very differently from the way we do - their behaviors, their customs, and even the way they gather sensory information - and make that relatable. Or at least translate that into something people can understand.
The nomads came about as the result of a thought process similar to what I described earlier - what if things had turned out differently? I like to think of the nomads as being almost the 'Native Americans' of the Aionach. Except instead of the foreigners coming in and oppressing them and driving them out, the nomads are kind of superior. They're sitting there laughing at everyone because they know the land. They know how to survive in it because they've been doing it for thousands of years, so they kind of have the upper hand where that's concerned. They have this incredibly brutal society, but they also look down on everyone else - they're refined and haughty in their own way. I thought that would be kind of an interesting dynamic to highlight, and there's more of an exploration of that as the story moves forward and the conflict between these various races begins to reach new heights.
So, you need to write the rest of the series quickly so we can read it as soon as possible, that's what I'm hearing.
Haha I guess so. This book has been moving a bit quicker than the first, now that I know the characters better and I've sort of taught myself all the preliminaries of how things work in the world.
Do you think you personally would be able to survive in Aionach?
As far as wilderness survival goes, I went through this phase when I was younger where I got really into living off the land. I read books like My Side of the Mountain and Hatchet and I used to think a lot about what it would be like to just walk away from society and live in the woods. I even went to this survival camp one time where they taught us how to set traps and make shelter and all that. Needless to say, that phase didn't last long. I like air conditioning too much. I've since brushed up on a lot of that knowledge, and I think if I were left to my own devices I'd have a decent chance of surviving in the Aionach. It's when the gangers and nomads came around that I'd probably be in trouble.

I want to add that I loved the book Hatchet.
Absolutely, it's a great book!
Random writing question: what's the worst piece of advice you've received during your publishing process?
Let's see, the worst piece of advice I've gotten... that's hard to say. I've been told that I use too much description in my writing, but I've also been told that I don't use enough. Go figure. One thing I've been hearing a lot is, "I don't have time to read books. I only have time to listen to audiobooks during my commute. I'd read your books if you got them made into audiobooks." Which I guess is neither advice, nor is it bad, per se. But as someone who reads mostly via audiobook myself these days, I'd say there's some merit to that. About publishing specifically, I don't know that I can point to anything someone has told me and say it was bad advice, though.
On the other hand, there's a lot of good advice out there. It takes more than one book to build a brand. It's a marathon, not a sprint. Write every day. I think the most important thing to remember as a self-published author is that you are your own publisher. You're responsible for making sure everything gets done - except that you don't have a team of editors, designers, publicists, and agents behind you like a traditionally published author would. Good time management skills, therefore, are far more important than they would be otherwise.
Alright, final question: what's the one thing you aim to have readers think/feel when they finish reading your books?
I've found that most of my writing centers around some kind of moral or ethical dilemma. I tend to find those types of situations incredibly intriguing and thought-provoking. I want readers to put themselves in the characters' shoes and think about what they'd do - how far they'd go to resolve a dilemma like the ones I present. To that end, each of the POV characters in The Infernal Lands is struggling with some kind of decision (or series of decisions), and each one relates to those situations differently because of his/her background and circumstances. So I think the most important thing to me as an author is that my readers feel like they can understand the characters and can see how and why they did the things they did. Not that they necessarily agree with them; just that they understand. Because much like the characters, different people have different interpretations of what is justifiable and what is not. So if I've gotten the reader to go to the extremes and think about what they'd do to survive, or what they'd do for someone they love, or what they'd sacrifice to find a cure for their chronic disease, or how far they'd go to be recognized and accepted by others - then I find that a pretty satisfying result.
That's an awesome answer, and I don't think it's too much to say most of your readers will walk away with all of that in mind. I want to thank you for getting together to chat with me. I'm glad we were able to do this.
I hope they do! Thanks so much for having me, I've really enjoyed it.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Excerpt from "The Synopsis Treasury" edited by Christopher Sirmons Haviland

I wasn't able to review this collection, but it seemed too interesting to not showcase somehow. Here is the description from the publisher:


"The Synopsis Treasury" is a collection of actual story proposals submitted to publishers by grandmasters, award winners, international bestsellers, and rising stars of science fiction and fantasy, including H.G. Wells, Jack Williamson, Andre Norton, Robert A. Heinlein, Frank Herbert, Kevin J. Anderson, Terry Brooks, Joe Haldeman, Orson Scott Card, and many others.

In addition, "The Synopsis Treasury" includes editorial feedback by the legendary Frederik Pohl and Damon Knight, and an Introduction by Betsy Mitchell, former Vice President and Editor-in-Chief of Del Rey, who has evaluated thousands of synopses in her career.
This is an unprecedented new book that will be a must-read for writing students and fans alike!


A writer since the age of ten, Terry Brooks published his first novel, The Sword of Shannara, in 1977. He has written over thirty best-selling novels, as well as movie adaptations of Hook and Star Wars: The Phantom Menace and a memoir on his writing life titled Sometimes the Magic Works. He has sold over thirty million copies of his books domestically and is published worldwide. His Magic Kingdom series is currently under option at Warner Brothers with Steve Carell attached to the project as producer and star. The Shannara series has been optioned by Sonar Entertainment and MTV and the first season will air in 2015. The author lives with his wife Judine in the Pacific Northwest. 

The core of the plotline for Magic Kingdom for Sale (once upon a time known as Holiday’s Magic) came from Lester del Rey, my editor back in the early ’80s, who by the way also changed the title to its present form. He gave me the idea on loan for one year. The understanding was that if I wrote the book, the idea was mine. If I didn’t, he got it back from me. It seemed a fair deal to me, so I took it. Of course, two such diverse minds ended up going in opposite directions. Lester envisioned the book as a sort of Piers Anthony Zanth (sic.) story with lots of jokes and humor. I saw it as something much darker. I kept thinking about how desperate someone must be to buy such a ridiculous item out of a catalogue. A magic kingdom? Really? Why would anyone do that? Flying home from New York after deciding to write this book, I found myself wondering who would be so desperate. Clearly someone who was very dissatisfied with his life. The mind goes where it wants to, and mine began to mesh the story of Ben Holiday with my own. I was a lawyer, not happy in my life in almost every respect, desperate to leave it behind. Holy cow, I thought. This is my story! A year later, the book was published, and I had left the practice of law and moved to Seattle to write fulltime. I don’t often talk about how I see Magic Kingdom as autobiographical. But this is how I wrote my way out of the practice of law and into a writing life. That’s as true as it gets. 
—Terry Brooks

Magic Kingdom for Sale
By Terry Brooks

How much would you pay for a magic kingdom? Not one with a Disney logo and a lot of mechanical rides, but the real thing—a land that you once believed only existed in fairy tales? 
That’s the question facing Ben Holiday. It isn’t the money that gives him pause so much as it is the preposterousness of the idea that such a place could even exist.
But there it is, all spelled out in black and white in the current edition of Rosen’s, Ltd.

Christmas Wishbook: 
Magic Kingdom for Sale 

Landover—Island of enchantment and adventure rescued from the mists of time, home of knights and knaves, of dragons and damsels, of wizards and warlocks. Magic mixes with iron, and chivalry is the code of life for the true hero. All of your fantasies become real in this kingdom from another world. Only one thread to this whole cloth is lacking—you, to rule over all as King and High Lord. Escape into your dreams, and be born again. 

Price: $1,000,000. 

Personal interview and financial disclosure required. 

Inquire of Meeks, home office. 

A high-powered trial lawyer with nothing to lose and everything to gain, Ben Holiday is tempted. The deaths of his wife and unborn child in a car accident and his disillusionment with the practice of law have left him ready for a change. But this kind of change seems impossible. There must be a gimmick, even though the offer is advertised in the catalogue of one of the most highly respected department stores in the business. Places like Landover don’t exist. Places like Landover can be found only in children’s books.

Ben decides to find out anyway, wanting to believe, hoping that maybe there is just enough truth to the ad to make it worth his while. So he goes to New York and a meeting with Meeks, the intimidating old man who is invested with the power to decide if Ben should be given a chance to make the purchase. To Ben’s astonishment, Meeks decides that he should. To his further astonishment, he decides that he will.

Abandoning his law practice and his life, Ben goes off to the magic kingdom of Landover and discovers that it does exist and is indeed what was advertised in the Christmas catalogue—a place out of time and dreams, a fairytale come true. 

Unfortunately, it is a few things more, as well, and none of them are good. Ben is a King in name only. His court consists of an inept wizard, a talking dog, and two monkey-faced kobolds with sharp teeth. The treasury is depleted and the army disbanded. The castle that serves as his home is falling apart. No one in all of Landover cares whether Ben is King or not, save the Iron Mark, the Demon Lord out of Abaddon who has made a practice out of disposing Landover’s Kings for the past twenty years. 

Ben has been tricked into making a bargain that will either cost him the money he has paid (along with a good chunk of his self-respect) or his life. He is threatened at every turn—by the Lords of the Greensward, who prefer life without a King to rule over them; the River Master, who commands the fairy folk and thinks the King an anachronism; the witch Nightshade, who hates Kings of any kind and Ben in particular; and the Dragon Strabo, whose power is exceeded only by that of the King’s champion, the Paladin.
But the Paladin has been absent since the death of the old King, and no one thinks he exists anymore.

Then he appears several times after Ben arrives in Landover, twice saving his life, and opinions begin to shift. When Ben decides not to quit, as Meeks had intended he should, but to stick it out, even with his life at stake, opinions begin to shift further. A journey through his kingdom persuades him that he has found a place worth fighting for. He finds an unexpected ally in the beautiful sylph Willow, who tells him on their first meeting that she is destined to be with him forever, even though she turns into a tree every twenty days or so. He wins friends in unexpected quarters, some better than others, some truer of heart. One by one, he confronts all those who stand against him and whose allegiance he must win. One by one, he wins them over. 

But, in the end, it takes a battle to the death with the Iron Mark to take the measure of Ben’s determination and to reveal to him the truth about what it really means to be the King of a Magic Kingdom.

Buy it on Amazon

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Excerpt from "Beyond the Gardens" by Sandra Lopez

As an indie author, I know how tough it can be to get the ball rolling. When Sandra approached us for a review, we had to unfortunately decline as it's not something we review. However, we wanted to showcase her work somehow. Let us introduce to you "Beyond the Gardens" by Sandra Lopez.

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 quinceañera.

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.

Excerpt: Chapter 1
As the evening sun was settling over the small hills, I steadily hiked along the concrete path that led into the center of the campus quad. I hung to the strap of my book bag with a light wind sweeping through the air, then walked past the student store and the food court. The garlic aroma of chicken chimichangas was overwhelming and floated around seamlessly. My god, did it smell good. I almost wished I had five bucks to waste.
Instead, I ignored the aching grumble in my stomach and moved on. 
The dorms were located on the outskirts of the school next to a highway that was often busy at this time of day. When I reached Da Vinci Hall, I passed along a few students bundled in a corner with large pads sketching the scattered trees on the forefront of the breaking dawn. I had missed the elevator going up just as the doors were closing. Damn. Exasperated, I punched in the button for the next one. But the wait was so long I decided to just forget it and 
took the stairs instead. 
Crossing down the hallway, I fumbled inside the withered pocket of my jacket for the keys. I unlocked the door and then stepped into a tiny cubicle, where I hit my knee passing by the end table. At that point, I couldn’t decide whether the furniture was moving closer or the room was just shrinking. I limped across the room and dropped my bag on a nearby chair. Then I took off my cap and tossed it aside. Oh, what a day, I thought while my fingers stroked through the thick strands of my dark hair. I couldn’t believe I stayed up half the night to study for a quiz the teacher decided not to have after all. What a shame. I was really looking forward to it, too. 
After spotting my bed just a few feet away, I fell on top of it landing on a soft pillow that cradled my head. Humble sighs trickled through as the evening sun cast a mild afterglow through the shiny window, shadowing the room with a tinted orange. I yawned while the soothing warmth poured across my tanned face. Then I closed my eyes as a tranquil slumber soon began to take its course. Suddenly, the door quickly slammed open, and I instantly 
bolted upright. 
“Hey, good news you lucky people, I’m here!” 
“Jesus Christ!” I yelled, responding to the triumphant arrival of my roommate, Anna. 
She looked at me with cavalier naïveté. “Oh, were you sleeping?” 
“No, I wasn’t,” I answered. “I was just trying to, that’s all.” 
“Well, as long as you weren’t sleeping.” Casually humming, she sauntered back into the hall and returned with several large shopping bags. Most of them looked like they weighed more than she did. 
“Been to the mall, lately?” I asked. 
“Just for the last half hour.” 
“And that’s all you got?” 
“Well, I couldn’t really get much because I had to come back for a class.” 
“Oh, of course.” I watched as Anna closed the door behind her so she could peek at the mirror nailed in the back. She twirled around a few times, checking out all the angles of herself. 
Then she fluffed her short, reddish-brown hair, which was decorated with bright, silver streaks. Under closer inspection, she turned from side to side and caressed the light, 
delicate skin on her face. She checked out everything from the straight arches in her eye brows to the rich, glossy color of her lips. Oh, brother, I thought as I reclined back 
into position. 
There was just no doubt about it. Anna Zapata was the “Chicana from Beverly Hills.” She, technically, came from Orange County, but she was possessed by someone in Beverly Hills. Note: Anytime you see the word “hills” in a city name, you just know it’s a fancy, ritzy area packed with people, who just have too much money. For example, Anaheim Hills, Woodland Hills, Chino Hills, Beverly Hills. Need I say more? 
“Do you think I need to add another streak?” Anna asked suddenly. 
“Another streak?” 
“Yeah, right here near my bangs.” 
“Well, I don’t know,” I answered. “I think you wouldn’t look any different.” 
“Would you get up and look,” she insisted. 
“Why, I can remember what you look like.” 
“Will you just look.” 
“Okay, fine,” I said with a roll of my eyes. With a discouraging grunt, I hoisted myself up and leaned on the tips of my elbows. I cocked my head in her direction, straining to give her a glance. My face crinkled in confusion as I attempted to drum up an opinion. 
“Well?” she persisted. 
“Well, uh—” 
“Be honest.” 
“Honestly……you’d look the same.” 
“Oh, no I wouldn’t.” 
“Yes, you would.” 
“No, I wouldn’t.” 
“Yes, you would.” 
“Oh, what do you know?” 
I collapsed back on the bed with a loud murmur under my breath. 
“Can’t you see that one streak will add balance to my bone structure?” 
“No, I clearly don’t see that,” I said. 
“Obviously.” She looked back at the mirror. “Maybe I should just start all over with a brand new color. What do you think about that?” 
“Why don’t you just go back with the color God gave you?” I asked. 
“Well, that kinda presents a problem,” she said. “See, I sorta forgot my original hair color.” 
“Are you serious?” 
“Nope, I’ve been dyeing my hair for years, and it just sorta slipped my mind.” 
“Well, why don’t you ask your mom then?” 
“Are you kidding?” she responded. “Who do you think taught me how to dye my hair? My mother couldn’t find her own roots if she was digging for gold.” 
“Okay, point well taken,” I mentioned. At least now I knew where her obsession with hair started from. 
Ya know, I think I will add that extra streak,” she said. 
“Whatever you say.” 
“And while I’m at the salon, I’ll get a manicure, pedicure, and a facial,” she added. “I’ll just beautify all this even more.” 
“Are you sure you’re Mexican?” I asked once again. 
“For the last time, I am Mexican,” she replied in defiance. 
Yo hablar español y todo. I just don’t listen to Spanish music or eat spicy foods. Why, don’t I sound Mexican?” 
“I resent that,” she said. “I would stay and fight you on that, but I gotta go get my facial, manicure, and pedicure.” 
“So, back to the mall you go?” 
“That’s right,” she said. “Oh, and while I’m there, I might as well get that cashmere blouse I was thinking about buying but didn’t. See ya.” With giddy excitement, Anna glided out of the room. 
Finally! Now where was I? Oh, yeah, I was trying to relax. 
I lied there and closed my eyes, gradually reacquainting myself with the peaceful and quiet sounds around me. At some point, I actually wondered whether or not I went deaf. But I didn’t. There was absolutely no noise. Wow, this was nothing like home back in the barrio, I thought. Back home I had the raucous sounds of police helicopters flying overhead to lull me to sleep. But not here. 
Sounds of the barrio didn’t exist. I haven’t heard screeching tires against the harsh gravel of the streets, or the sounds of drunken cholos clashing with shattered beer bottles. Up until now I figured I’d be stuck with those noises for the rest of my life. It was amazing. I mean, I’ve heard about lawns being greener on the other side of the fence; but it’s another thing to actually sink your feet into that beautiful grass and wiggle your toes in it. Could I really have done it? I wondered. Could I have gotten myself away from the other side and made it all the way here—at the Atkins Art Institute, the place I’ve been working so hard to get 
to ever since I saw Bugs Bunny as a kid? Could this be a dream? Yes, it was a dream—it was a dream come true! After conquering the world of high school as a kid and cherishing the last few moments of summer with the people who meant the most to me, I can now say that I had finally made it. I did it! I was here, standing in the middle of a whole new adventure, ready to begin the grand odyssey of college life, ready to discover the answer to the question that’s been nagging me for years: What’s beyond The Gardens? 
Ever since I was born in the small town of Hawaiian Gardens—a California barrio that a lot of the locals referred to as The Gardens— my life always had barbed wire around it, and I just couldn’t get through. I was caged like a raggedy, flea-infested dog, always snuggled in 
a dirty corner while surrounded by the foul stench of that filthy pound. I would look at the world through steel bars, wondering what it would be like to be on the other side. Was there some other life beyond those gates? Was there something better over that fence? I never knew; I’ve always just wondered. And I kept on wondering even when we moved to East L.A., where I was only transferred from a smaller cage to a bigger one—my curiosities still the same though. I knew I was going to die if I stayed right where I was. I knew it was never going to get any better unless I got out. Well, now, I was a dog that had gone free. I finally 
escaped my cell. I have passed the gates of limitations, running every step of the way, ready to discover what I have been missing all my life. I was now going to see this new world through fascinated eyes and finally mark my territory wherever I go. What changes await me? What will I find? Who will I meet? How will the next chapters of my life going to end this time? Or were they going to end at all? Maybe my ending will turn out to be a brand 
new beginning. I couldn’t wait to find out! 
To read the full story of Beyond the Gardens by Sandra Lopez you can:
Buy it on Amazon
Visit the author's website or connect with her on Facebook