September 18, 2018

CELEBRATING HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH








We celebrate our culture and our authors all year long.

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August 20, 2018

REVIEW: STRIPPED BY ZOEY CASTILE (debuts August 28)




KENSINGTON
Sensual. Daring. Funny. Heartfelt.  

Zoey Castile’s debut contemporary romance sizzles.  It’s Magic Mike meets Bridemaids.   STRIPPED is the first in what promises to be a very hot and erotic series full of skilled, sculpted and sexy men in the adult entertainment industry.  Readers will enjoy the bold characters; the novel’s fast pace; and, the seductive dance between our protagonists. 

Robyn Flores is in bridesmaid hell.  Her best friend is getting married; she’s a horrible maid of honor; and the groom’s sister is coordinating all the fun bachelorette activities that Robyn is supposed to be doing. And, if that didn’t prove she was a failure, her continued lateness at the school where she teaches gets her called into the principal’s office.  Only good thing in her life is the sexy guy next door.  Their laundry bags were switched and she ended up with his star-spangled thong.  Of course, she wants to go out with him.

Zac Fallon is new in town and already liking the neighborhood, especially the pretty schoolteacher next door.  Their encounters are passionate and steamy.  They both want more, but Zac has a secret. He is a stripper in an all-male revue, and to her horror, the headliner at her best friend’s bridal shower.  Will Robyn understand that Zac's dancing has nothing to do with his loving, or will his dream girl get away?

New Zoey Castile fans will be salivating for book 2 in the Happy Endings series.  HIRED releases in February 2019.  It’s set in New Orleans, about a one night stand gone right!



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Zoey Castile was born in Ecuador and raised in Queens, New York. She started writing in her teens and pursued that love in her studies at Hunter College and the University of Montana. For nearly a decade, she worked as a bartender, hostess, and manager in New York City’s nightlife. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @ZoeyCastile.  Visit her website by clicking here.



HAPPY READING

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June 24, 2018

BOOK OF MONTH: THE HOUSE OF IMPOSSIBLE BEAUTIES BY JOSEPH CASSARA



  
Ecco/ Harper Collins
It was the kind of freedom you felt
when someone was looking at you and
finally saw what others couldn’t see
because it had been bottled away for so long.
---Angel



The Latina Book Club congratulates author Joseph Cassara on his brilliant debut, and we are pleased to choose THE HOUSE OF IMPOSSIBLE BEAUTIES as our Book of the Month for Pride Month.

Inspired by the documentary Paris is Burning, and because he never found any books with “real” gay Latino characters, Cassara wrote his own story.  Set during the 80s and 90s when disco and AIDS reigned supreme, THE HOUSE OF IMPOSSIBLE BEAUTIES is the story of four Latino gay / transgender youths looking for the freedom to be true to themselves.  Angel, Venus, Juanito and Daniel become a family against all odds. Life is hard for them, but amid the abuse, violence and addiction, they find strength in each other.

We love that THE HOUSE OF IMPOSSIBLE BEAUTIES is about Latinos, that they speak Spanglish, that they live, love, laugh, dance, and while there’s not a happy ending --- sorry about the spoiler – this novel is a triumph for the LGBT community and all families of the heart.  Bravo, Cassara!


Book Summary:  It’s 1980 in New York City, and nowhere is the city’s glamour and energy better reflected than in the burgeoning Harlem ball scene, where seventeen-year-old Angel first comes into her own. Burned by her traumatic past, Angel is new to the drag world, new to ball culture, and has a yearning inside of her to help create family for those without. When she falls in love with Hector, a beautiful young man who dreams of becoming a professional dancer, the two decide to form the House of Xtravaganza, the first-ever all-Latino house in the Harlem ball circuit. But when Hector dies of AIDS-related complications, Angel must bear the responsibility of tending to their house alone.

As mother of the house, Angel recruits Venus, a whip-fast trans girl who dreams of finding a rich man to take care of her; Juanito, a quiet boy who loves fabrics and design; and Daniel, a butch queen who accidentally saves Venus’s life. The Xtravaganzas must learn to navigate sex work, addiction, and persistent abuse, leaning on each other as bulwarks against a world that resists them. All are ambitious, resilient, and determined to control their own fates, even as they hurtle toward devastating consequences.  

About the Author:  Joseph Cassara was born and raised in New Jersey. He holds degrees from Columbia University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He was a 2016-17 writing fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts. His debut novel, titled The House of Impossible Beautieswas chosen by Barnes & Noble as a Discover Great New Writers selection. He is an assistant professor of creative writing at California State, Fresno.  Visit him at www.josephcassara.com.


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March 8, 2018

INTERVIEW WITH THELMA T. REYNA, AUTHOR OF READING TEA LEAVES AFTER TRUMP (EXCERPT)



The Latina Book Club doesn’t talk politics, but Trump is like the elephant in the room.  How could you not?  
Our friend and Altadena, CA’s, Poet Laureate THELMA T. REYNA has just published 
a poetry collection about Trump and the future of our country.  
We are happy to have been granted an interview and an excerpt to share with our readers. 
Happy Reading and, as always, Read Latino Lit.


NOTE TO OUR CALIFORNIA READERS!
Tuesday, March 13, at VRoman’s Bookstore in Pasadena, CA, from 7-8pm, Thelma and three other local distinguished guest poets will read from her new book.  All welcome. Visit www.vromansbookstore.com to make reservations.





INTERVIEW WITH THELMA T. REYNA

LATINA BOOK CLUB: In this book, you give voice to people’s fears of what is happening to this country with Trump in the White House— to immigrants, to the Dreamers, to all people of color.  How hard was it to put yourself into others’ shoes? Which stories were the hardest to tell?

THELMA REYNA:  Great questions, Maria. This is my seventh book, but my fourth book of poetry. For quite a while now, I’ve enjoyed writing “persona poems,” or poems in which the speaker or narrator of the poem is a very specific person, not me. So the entire poem is in the voice, with the emotions and perspectives, of that individual, and we’re seeing a particular issue, problem, situation through   the eyes and heart of that person. It’s kind of like “walk a mile in my moccasins,” as the old Native American proverb says. Thus it wasn’t difficult to write in all these voices, but some of them tugged at my heart more than others, even made me cry as I wrote the lines. It’s hard not to feel the pain and heartbreak that we’re expressing on behalf of those specific, vulnerable individuals.


LBC:  Racism has always been around but now it’s literally in our face.  By combining fact & fiction you hold up a mirror to this country’s face.

THELMA:  This is perhaps the most horrific damage that Trump has done to our nation: bring racism roaring out of the shadows and into an emboldened source of hate and danger. Trump embraces the White supremacists (who, by the way, were very instrumental in his victory) because he himself is a racist. The documented evidence of the harm these Neo-Nazis, alt-right, KKK, and White Nationalists have done is clear: murders they’ve committed as hate crimes have risen tremendously, about triple what they were before Trump. Voter suppression continues to rise in the right-wing states, assaults and killings of LGBQT people have soared. Muslims, Jews, Mexicans, Blacks are endangered more than ever. These are facts backed by statistics. Several poems in my book, such as “Charlottesville,” deal with this travesty. Thankfully, though, the majority of Americans don’t accept this racism and are fighting back strongly. I believe firmly that non-racists will win this struggle for, as they say, “America’s soul.”


LBC: How did you come up with title, with such a gorgeous cover? We love that the woman covers her eyes, yet we can see her.

THELMA:  And we can still see her weeping! To me the symbolism was that nothing can cover up our nation’s fear, distress, anxiety over the chaos that Trump has thrust upon us. We can try to hide it but we can’t. The world can see it.

As I followed the campaigns, then read daily about what President Trump was doing and saying in his first year of the presidency, all the dysfunction he demonstrated daily, his twittering and irrationality, I felt that nobody could ever predict what this unfit man would do next. A tea leaf reader had as much of a chance at being correct as the political experts, scholars, historians, journalists did! Thus, the title.


LBC: What IS in the tea leaves for the people? How do we support and nurture hope in the face of such tyranny? Can America really be great again?

THELMA:  The final poem in my book, the title poem, describes how more than 100 cups of tea leaves have been read by the speaker in her quest to understand, yet: “not knowing is all we’ll know after Trump.” I think that was an appropriate end to this book, but in my heart, I believe strongly that all the good people of America will ultimately prevail. Just witness the increase recently in protest marches and demonstrations against Trump and all he represents, including against his complicit, emasculated GOP. The majority of the people oppose his agenda. Now we must continue speaking out—in all forms, whether onstage at the Oscars, at rallies, or in books like mine. But our loudest outbursts will be at the polls this November and in 2020. We must vote them out, or we’ll lose the war for our nation.#

                       


Golden Foothills Press

EXCERPT POEM FROM HER NEW BOOK:

A DREAMER ASKS
by Thelma T. Reyna

I know no other land but this, learned to toddle on American soil, and
rise for no other anthem but yours.
My mother wrapped me in an old, frayed towel, a round bundle in her
brown arms, and never set me down till she arrived.
From the start, she pushed English on my baby mind like she pushed
Gerber in my mouth.
Her checks from cleaning buildings light-to-night were small but
targeted like lasers on school.
Day care, pre-K, books on a rickety shelf in my room next to hers,
scuffed wood floors, little heaters plugged into the wall.

But I learned and rose, rising higher as her pride in me broke
through walls and ascended clouds.
I write, I write and write, poems and stories about her, and dad,
and how he died when I turned ten.
I grow poetic now because it’s what I know: beauty in this world,
humanity she made me see,
brilliance of the human mind, freedoms of barriers smashed, things she
saw for me to make her risk her life.
I write essays for my college class, thick reports on politics and how this
nation was built on dreams,
how wave after wave of heroes and mortal gods bloomed
because of their visions of greater things.

I want to change this world as they did, to wield my American-ness for
nurturance of hope and growth,
and I’ve been the best, the best son, and student, the best neighbor
and friend, eyes wide and seeking truth.
So I ask you now, and every day, alongside others who traveled
in arms through desert suns and cactus nights,
other babies now grown, other toddlers pulled through thorns
and dirt many years ago, now grown,
grade-school children made to carry water in jugs, to sleep
without blankets in their dusty treks,
I ask you now why these children should be punished for their
parents’ deeds,
how children without another land can be condemned to
leave their roots, now deep and strong, and let their spirits die.#



AUTHOR BIO:  Thelma T. Reyna’s books have won 10 national literary honors. She has written a short story collection, two poetry chapbooks, and two full-length poetry books. As Poet Laureate in Altadena, CA, 2014-2016, she edited the Altadena Poetry Review Anthology: 2015, and 2016.  Reyna’s fiction, poetry, and nonfiction have appeared in literary journals, anthologies, textbooks, blogs, newspapers, and other media for over 25 years.  She is a 2017 Pushcart Prize Nominee, and her new book, Reading Tea Leaves After Trump was released in January 2018. Visit her websites to learn more.

Social Media:

Websites:


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March 6, 2018

DEBUT! STEEL BY J. L. LORA (excerpt)



The Latina Book Club congratulates author J. L. Lora on the debut of Book 3 – STEEL – of her Trinity Series.   
Below is an excerpt of the book, along with a summary and author bio.  Happy reading.


STEEL
by J. L. Lora

Book Summary:

Only the Devil you know has the power to really hurt you.
Strong, daring, and loyal to a fault, Amelia Solis is the soul of The Trinity. Yet, this leader of New York’s top cartel has become a pawn in the game of revenge. All to hurt Leandro, the man she wants more than life but cannot be with. 

The enemy’s always watching, biding his time
Leandro Masseur, Lieutenant in the McLean crime family, earned his position through loyalty, shrewd business, and ruthlessness. His enemies never see the bullet until it’s ready to lodge between their eyes. When a dead woman is found in Amelia’s bed, his world is flipped off its axis. 

Their Devil knows what buttons to push.
Four women will die before a killer finishes a macabre target list, with Amelia as his crown piece. Leandro and Amelia must dodge the barrage of bullets and bombs to keep her safe. Tragedy has left them scarred and broken. But love won’t be denied, won’t wait, and Leandro won’t stop fighting for a chance. The only woman he’s ever loved has been marked for death. Leandro won’t let that happen.



STEEL
EXCERPT


The pounding on the door wakes me and I look around the room, wondering how the hell I got here. I'm in our old apartment, sleeping in the room I once shared with my sister, Nelly, before we all got rich and got our own places. Back then, all we had to worry about was Calum's tired ass trying to get us.

I'm still wearing the pink bridesmaid's dress, a color that only Gia could force on me. Nelly's pillow's in my hand and, as I do every morning, I dwell on the thought that she's gone. But my chest is not as tight and the tears don’t come today.

Since my sister died, I have two states of waking up: pissed off and agitated. If I dream of her, I wake up shaken, scared, sad. She's still dead, because I overprotected and under-protected her in equal amounts. The guilt is a reminder, firming up my resolve because when I wake pissed off…I've dreamt of things I shouldn't.

Better said, someone I shouldn't. Doing things I really shouldn't. Not that I haven't done him, which is why I'm really messed up in the head these days.

Someone pounds on the door again and I jump off the bed. "Hold on. I'm coming."

I fling the door open, ready to skin my bodyguards. Instead, I find my friend Jamie. The strain on his surfer-cop face makes him look like he's got a sweaty tummy ache. He throws his arms around me, his hug so tight he squeezes the breath out of my lungs. It hurts and I pound on his bicep. "Let up."

He pulls back. His lips are ashen, and his eyes dart over my face like marbles, as if he's going down a mental checklist of all my features. What the hell is going on?

"Jesus, Mel. I'm so happy to see you. You fucking scared me. Carissa is bugging the hell out." He drags himself to the rack where we keep the alcohol and grabs a bottle of rum so old I can't remember when we bought it. Jamie removes the cap and tilts the one eighth of a bottle into his mouth and drains it.

My hands are trembling, my knees sending me a firm warning. They're about to fold. I can't wait anymore. "What are you talking about? Why is Carissa flipping out? I fell asleep here, waiting for Byanca. She made me get on a plane last night, saying she needed my help, then stood me up for some dude."

Jamie slams the bottle on the rack and moves closer to me. His lips do the cop pucker-and-purse. "Who was she meeting? At what time was that? Why didn't you call her?"

I feel a slight pull on the back of my neck, like someone's yanking my hair at the root. "I don't know. I took the red eye after the wedding and when I got here, she wasn't around. She sent me a text saying she’d met some hot piece and would be here right after she took care of business…why?"

His shoulders sag, fall along with his gaze. He doesn't need to say it, I know. I know, because I've gotten bad news before. A lot. I've seen the footsteps of death in other people's eyes. #

This book is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, etc.



Author Bio:  J. L. Lora is a Dominican-American author. Her stories explore the dark side of good characters, people living in the gray areas of life while playing the cards life has dealt them. She loves strong heroines and their equally powerful Men. She currently lives in Maryland, pursuing her dream of writing compelling, sexy, can’t-put-down stories about empowered, badass alpha heroines and take-your-breath-away alpha heroes.  Visit J. L. Lora at:

Website: www.JLLora.com


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