June 30, 2015

INTERNATIONAL LATINO BOOK AWARDS – WINNERS!

   
The Latina Book Club congratulates ALL the Winners and Finalists of the 2015 International Latino Book Awards. The Awards are produced annually by Latino Literacy Now, and were presented on Saturday, June 27th, at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis Hotel during this year’s American Library Association's Annual Conference.

2015 ILBA Winners, Finalists and Presenters

I was happy to be part of the Las Comadres Para Las Americas Team that helped present the awards, and especially proud to be able to present the Best Young Adult eBook Award to my friend author Dania Ramos for WHO’S JU? (Northampton House Press). 

It was a spectacular evening, complete with a special salute to past award winning author Juan Felipe Herrera, who was named U.S. Poet Laureate by the Library of Congress.  He is the first Latino to hold this honored position in 78 years.



Other notable winners included:

MICAELA by Adalucia (Cholito Prints and Publishing Company) which won three awards including Best Educational Young Adult.

TUESDAY TUCKS ME IN by Luis Carlos Montalvan (Roaring Book Press) which also won three awards including Best Inspirational Book.  (The author bought his service dog Tuesday to the awards.)

!A ESTUDIAR CARAJO! by Ana Maria Gonzalez (Editorial Santuarco) won for Best Latino Focused Fiction Books – Spanish.

THE CITY OF PALACES by Michael Nava (Terrace Books) won for Best Latino Focused Fiction Books – English.

DESERT HEAT by Elizabeth Reyes (Atria Books) won for Best Novel – Romance.

LETTER FROM HEAVEN/ CARTAS DEL CIELO by Lydia Gil (Arte Publico Press) won for Best Youth Latino Focused Chapter Book.

RIPPER by Isabel Allende (HarperCollins) won for Best Novel – Mystery.


For the full list of the winners, click here.



For more information about Latino Literacy Now, visit them at www.LBFF.us.  Note, that the application for the 2016 awards is available now. (Good luck!)

For more information about Las Comadres Para Las Americas, visit them at www.lascomadres.com and www.latinolit.com.

For more book reviews and author interviews, continue to visit The Latina Book Club weekly at www.latinabookclub.com.

Again, Congratulations to all the winners and finalists!###



June 16, 2015

REVIEW: ADULTERY BY PAULO COELHO

   

Vintage International
“For men it is just a ‘stupid mistake.’ For women, it feels like a spiritual crime against all those who surround her with affection and support her as a mother and wife.”—Linda

"Today I am a woman torn between the terror that everything might change and the equal terror that everything might carry on exactly the same for the rest of my days.” – Linda



Paulo Coelho’s new book, ADULTERY (or ADULTERIA in Spanish) is out now.  The title seems to tell the whole story – a bored housewife who has an affair  but does it really?  Look at the two quotes above.  They are at the very heart of our protagonist's angst.

Linda has a grand life that many would envy.  She has money, a good husband, two kids, an exciting job as a journalist, servants and lives in beautiful Switzerland. She has it all, don’t you think?

That’s what Coelho wants the reader to do—Think.  He wants us to see behind the trappings of her life, pass her sexuality.  He wants us to look into her soul and see the emptiness, the loneliness, the restlessness, the despair, the fear.  I believe Coelho doesn’t name the husband or the children because this is Linda’s story and hers alone. This is her inferno, her purgatory, and hopefully, her redemption.

Because it is not until Linda really looks inside herself and admits that she needs to change, that she is losing touch with herself; that she can truly start moving forward to a new, challenging and fulfilling life.###



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  The Brazilian author Paulo Coelho is considered one of the most influential authors of our times. His books have sold more than 165 million copies worldwide, have been released in 170 countries and been translated into 80 languages. He has received numerous prestigious international awards. He is member of the Academy of Letters of Brazil since 2002 and Messenger of Peace by the United Nations since 2007. In 2009 he received the Guinness World Record for the most translated author for the same book (THE ALCHEMIST). Coelho was the second most influential celebrity on Twitter in 2010 according to Forbes. Look for him at the following sites:
Blog: http://paulocoelhoblog.com
Twitter:  @paulocoelho

  

June 8, 2015

Q&A WITH YA AUTHOR SUSAN X. BRADLEY

   
The Latina Book Club is pleased to welcome author Susan X. Bradley -- a Latina Nancy Drew -- who has written a fun mystery series staring a Latina teen heroine.  Happy Reading!



WRITING TIP:  Read, read, then read some more. Writers must be readers. Know your genre and the formula the reader expects. -- S.X. Bradley



Q:  What does the X stand for?  And how does a Mexican-American from South Texas end up in Ohio?

A: The X is because I don’t have a middle name. For all my computer log-ins at work, they used to use your middle initial for your log-in name. Since I didn’t have one, they used an X, and I liked it. As for living in Ohio, I moved to be closer to my sister. She had two new babies, so I wanted to be closer to my nieces and sister.


Q:  Your love of mysteries started at an early age. Can you remember what got you interested in mysteries? Do you remember when you created your first one?

A:  I owe my love for mysteries to Nancy Drew.  I loved her books and thought she was the coolest girl on the planet. I used to pretend to be Nancy Drew when I’d visit my grandparents in Mexico. My cousins would come at the same time, and I’d create mysteries for us to solve.  My grandparents have the most fascinating property with an old wine cellar, train station, and factory on-site. It was the perfect setting.


Q:  Tell us about Autumn, the protagonist of your mystery series.  Why did Autumn have to be a Latina teen? How does she celebrate her Latinidad?

A:  Autumn is a 16 year old girl that has a gift for math. She comes from a family of bakers, so they have trouble relating to her. She feels very isolated, except for her relationship with her sister. When that is taken away, she decides to try and reach out to other people.  I grew up in South Texas (where the story takes place) and just knew that she had to be a Latina. I grew up in that cultural and wanted to stay true to it. I also wanted to feature a Latina character that had an affinity for one of the STEM disciplines to show that side of their world as well. Autumn celebrates her Latinidad much in the same way I did-large family gatherings. Tios and Tias are like your second parents, and cousins are like your siblings.


Q:  What is next for Autumn?  The poor girl had to solve her sister’s murder in book 1, and is now working with the police on a series of kidnappings in book 2.  How does that happen to a 16-year old?

A:  Yes, I have used and abused poor Autumn. Teen domestic violence and online gaming are realistic issues for teen, so I wanted to use those situations for Autumn. At the end of book 2, I created a situation for Autumn that she will need to resolve once and for all. That will be the basis for Book 3.


Q:  What are your favorite TV mystery shows? Movies?

A:  I’m a huge Castle fan, but I mainly watch HGTV and Netflix. I just finished watching Hemlock Grove and House of Cards-Season 3. I like suspense and action movies. One of my favorite movies of all times is Silence of the Lambs.


Q:  Who are your favorite mystery writers – Latino and non-Latino?

A:  I’ll read anything that Tess Gerritsen, Lisa Gardner, Karin Slaughter and Chelsea Cain write. Nothing makes me happier than discovering a new author or series to read.


Q:  Who are your favorite YA writers – Latino and non-Latino?

A:  I love Gayle Forman’s books. Others I enjoy are Laurie Halse Anderson, Suzanne Collins, Elizabeth Scott. .As far as my Latina writers, E. Charlton-Trujillo, Simone Elkeles, and Meg Medina are also some faves.


Q:  What’s your advice to budding mystery writers?

A:  Read, read, then read some more. Writers must be readers. Know your genre and the formula the reader expects.


Q:  What are you working on next?

A:  I’m working a new young adult mystery series, and I also revising a romantic suspense novel.


Q:  Tell us about yourself and how can fans reach you.   

A:  If you go to my website, www.sxbradley.com, I have a contact form on there.  I’m also on twitter as @susanxbradley.com and facebook: www.facebook.com/sxbradley.  My blog is at http://susanxbradley.blogspot.com/.  I love hearing from readers, so I hope you’ll reach out.#


Thank you, Susan!




June 1, 2015

BOOK OF THE MONTH: HIS-PANIC BY EDDIE H. CISNEROS (DEBUT AUTHOR!)

  

The Latina Book Club congratulates Eddie H. Cisneros on realizing his dream of becoming a published author.  We are happy for the chance to chat with him about his writing and his debut novel, HIS-PANIC, our selection for June's Book of the Month.


Q:   You are a writer who works as a doorman. Tell us about yourself, your family and when you knew your passion was writing? 
EDDIE:  I am employed as a doorman. This month, will mark 21 years at the same position in the same building. I currently reside in Queens with my wife, two kids and my super, super pal, our dog. I've been writing for quite some time. I've had a passion for writing going back to when I was really young. It was just something I enjoyed doing, the entire thought process and the creativity bundled with a vivid imagination I guess. Growing up, I really enjoyed watching movies and would even try and write scripts for movies that my friends and I had in our minds to film in our neighborhood. In my teen years, writing turned towards music and taking a stab at a rap career, which resulted in several demos but nothing furthermore. A bit older now and I am back to writing scripts, serving as a contributing writer for a real estate website, and more recently, writing the novel series of HIS-PANIC.


Q:  Congratulations on your debut novel, HIS-PANIC. Tell us how you got the idea for Antonio Pintero. What is his story? How did you decide on the title?
EDDIE:  Again growing up, I wouldn't say I was raised in this hugely bad area or anything considered to be the "ghetto" but you still saw things. I knew people, still know individuals who dabble in the let's say, "street way of life." I was taught, while taking a writing course for Gothic Writers Workshop, that the best writing comes from what one knows. Therefore, I believe the sheer vividness of the book bundled with my imagination, kind of brought out the character of Antonio Pintero. He's this fascinating character that at the same time is this enigma, if you will. Throughout the series, he's conflicted with different types of emotions but they're unfortunately based around events and things that he's been exposed to in his life and because of this, he is the way he is. I firmly believe that readers will connect with his character on different levels. In the street sense, yes, Antonio becomes this big figure in the drug game. But in all, he's this emotionally scarred individual who grows up and lives a good portion of his life without faith, and this becomes a very big part of the final parts to the series. As he gets older, he seeks to try and right certain things that he's done wrong because he feels time is running out. As far as what ultimately happens to Antonio, readers are going to have to tough out the entire series. The title is simply a pun on words: Hispanic, for the main character being a Latino. But, because the series involves the life of a drug dealer, you then get HIS relating to anyone. And the word Panic, describing fear within that world and way of living.


Q:  We understand that HIS-PANIC is a series. How many books are you planning? What will happen to Antonio?  Are you writing anything else?
EDDIE:  The series in all, is really four books, but because of the size of them, basically all coming in at around four hundred pages each, it was best decided to try and break them down. So, in keeping with parts, it may look to be eight books in the entire series. I may have answered this next part in the second question, regarding Antonio's outcome? Let's just say he goes through an epiphany and realizes that some things in life maybe shouldn't be the way they are. Basically all of us have the power to carve out our own destiny by the decisions we make. And that, is the true basis as to what HIS-PANIC will finally be about. At the moment, I am working on the last installment of HIS-PANIC, but I do have two completed screenplays. I also served as a contributing writer for the website Brickunderground.com, and I have amassed over 40 articles in a course of about a year and a half. 


Q:  Who are your favorite writers? Favorite Latino writers? Your favorite books?
EDDIE:  I am a big horror fan, so I would have to say Steven King. But I have read and enjoyed in my time, all types of writers. I have kept close watch with Sandra Cisneros, (we're not related because of the same last name), Charles Rice Gonzales and even Jerry A. Rodriguez' THE DEVIL'S MAMBO. 


Q:  What do you think of the We Need Diverse Books movement? How can Latinos be better represented in books?
EDDIE:  I actually have been reading more on it. Love the idea of children's books having an injection of various flavors. By that I mean, on a personal level, I went to an elementary  school and had friends and classmates that were all mixed, be it White, Black, Hispanic, Indian, Asian etc. I fully believe that in keeping with that idea, children's books and even adult ones, should really lend voices to different types of people. It's what keeps cultures alive. As for Latinos, I know my book does involve a character that is a drug dealer and the book can be harsh in some respect because of its language. But it was most important to me to give a Latino character a voice, especially in the street/urban lit. I felt there really wasn't one book that stood out that had such a powerful voice coming from a Latino character. And that is why I believe my book to be still different and miles apart from your standard street/urban lit. But in the end, it's really about situations and things going on that I think everyone can relate to, that HIS-PANIC has the potential to gain a wider audience.


Q:  What is Mafieta and how have they help your dreams come true?
EDDIE:  The Mafietta Movement. Wrapped up nicely its geared towards women in the sense of empowerment. A woman and her will to succeed, bettering themselves. A strength exuded through sheer defiance. That kind of "hear me roar" attitude. It's what makes a woman stand out and compete and succeed in an industry or just anything. I owe gratitude towards the one woman who has founded that Mafietta movement. A writer herself and that is EW Brooks. I reached out by simply searching around for publishers that specialized in street/urban fiction, and was eventually contacted by EW and the rest just kind of fell into place. She has believed in HIS-PANIC from the start and that is the one thing I asked for: One person to believe and take a chance on me, and the rest would follow.###



BOOK SUMMARY

I chose to live my life having people fear me instead of them taking advantage
and walking all over me--Antonio Pintero


HIS-PANIC is book one in what promises to be a vibrant, violent, vivid retelling of Antonio "Ant" Pintero's life story.  He begins with "The Early Years." He was raised by a heroin addict mom with Aids and an abusive drug dealing stepfather.  At age five, Ant's stepfather teaches him to weigh and bag weed; by age ten, he has Ant and his "Strike Foo Crew" --a group of eight middle graders--selling for him in school to students and teachers alike. It is during these informative years that Ant starts his life of crime and learns the hard way all about trust, loyalty and revenge, but there are harder lessons to come.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Employed as a doorman for over twenty one years, Edward Cisneros “Eddie C.” has been quoted as saying, “I am not a doorman who chooses to write, but a writer who happens to be a doorman.” Apart from his novel series, HIS-PANIC, Eddie has two finished screenplays under his belt. A stylized thriller titled BEND about New York City homicide detectives on the trial of a serial killer and its sequel. He also served as contributing writer for a real estate website with bi-weekly posts entitled, “A Doorman Speaks.” Eddie has resided in Queens, New York, for much of his life, and it is where he continues to live with his family. He is currently setting up a website, but he can be found on TWITTER; readers can connect by searching @EddieCauthor  (Eddie C Author).
 
 
GOOD LUCK, EDDIE!
 
 

May 28, 2015

REVIEW: THE HOUSE ON MANGO STREET: ARTISTS INTERPRET COMMUNITY EXHIBITION

 
 
I was in Chicago recently and I made time to visit the National Museum of Mexican Art to see THE HOUSE ON MANGO STREET exhibit.  The exhibit included some photos of Sandra Cisneros and there was even a cordon-off area with her old desk and typewriter, and an old street sign.  (There actually is a Mango Street.)  There were also a few photos that spoke of her life and experience.
 
But the real focus of the exhibit was the work of other artists interpreting Cisneros' book.  Picture taking was not allowed inside the exhibit so I can only tell you about the amazing, creative, colorful and vibrant interpretations from other artists -- some were paintings, there was a mural and a 3D structure one couldn't miss.  All very inspiring.
 
I was able to take this one picture as I was going into the exhibit -- a quote of limitless energy:  "I can never have too much sky."
 
 
 
Here are some other photos of some street murals leading up to the museum.  Unfortunately, it was raining but that only adds to the beauty of them.
 
 
 
 
 
The National Museum of Mexican Art also featured three other exhibits:  Carmen Parra: Suave Patria; Dos Experiencias, Una Identidad: Rene Arceo Prints; and Nuevas Historias.   There were  more prints and paintings; neon lights that spelled "Make Tacos Not War; skulls, dishes, furniture.  All beautiful in their own way.
 
So the next time you are in Chicago, add The National Museum of Mexican Art to your list of places to visit -- you won't be disappointed.
 
 
To visit the museum and learn more about their exhibits: http://nationalmuseumofmexicanart.org/
 
 
 
BOOK SUMMARY:  THE HOUSE ON MANGO STREET is the remarkable story of Esperanza Cordero. Told in a series of vignettes – sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous – it is the story of a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago, inventing for herself who and what she will become.  This book is being taught in High Schools and Universities around the world.
 
 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Sandra Cisneros has written several award-winning books and is the founder of two organizations that serve writers: the Macondo Foundation and the Alfredo Cisneros del Moral Foundation. She was awarded the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship, two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, and the Texas Medal of the Arts. With more than six million copies sold and translated into many languages, her novel THE HOUSE ON MANGO STREET has become a true coming-of-age classic. To learn more about this legendary artist, visit her at www.sandracisneros.com.