June 5, 2019

BOOK OF THE MONTH: CONEY ISLAND SIREN BY THERESA VARELA



  
The Latina Book Club is proud to name CONEY ISLAND SIREN by Theresa Varela as Book of the Month.  It’s an amazing book on a hard topic with a surprising ending.  Readers will be captivated.

Theresa invites everyone to her book launch on Wednesday, June 12, 6-8 pm at the Nuyorican Poets Café on 236 East Third Street, NYC.  All readers welcomed. Books will be on sale.  Get your signed copy there!





“If I pen my thoughts on paper, are they no longer my secret?”   --Ellen

 “If you stay silent because of fear, you are forever voiceless.”  –Maggie



Pollen Press Publishing LLC
Astounding. Mesmerizing. Engaging.

Theresa Varela cleverly weaves fact and fiction, suspense and magical realism in her new captivating novel set against the backdrop of the joyful, chaotic, wondrous world of Coney Island.  

Domestic violence is not pretty.  It’s an endless nightmarish roller coaster ride; a vicious cycle not easily recognized from within or without until it’s too late.  Readers will sympathize with Maggie, even as they want to shake her into opening her eyes and doing anything, everything to get out from under a monster’s thumb.  However, that’s easier said than done.  Nothing will change for Maggie, or any woman, until they take a stand. Gods, Goddesses, friends, counselors, lawyers and cops can help, but the victim herself has to take that first step towards a new life, a new self.  

CONEY ISLAND SIREN keeps readers on the edge of their seat, lost in Maggie’s despair, then elated at her rebirth, and finally stunned at her shot at freedom.



BOOK SUMMARY:   Maggie Fuentes is a lucky woman. She has a great life: she lives by Coney Island, has a fancy apartment, is a well-liked nurse at a leading hospital, and her handsome boyfriend Police Officer Frank Ramirez is up for detective.  She is so happy.  In public.

In private, Maggie’s life is hell. She mistook Frank’s destructive possessiveness for love, and now she is a prisoner to his dark needs.  Cops can’t, won’t help.  She suffers in silence and “adjusts” her attitude after each insult, each blow.  Drugs are her favorite escape and soon she is hooked on opioids, which she steals from her patients.  Journaling is another escape, but she stops because she can’t be honest with herself. 

However, she loses herself in a journal she found at a Coney Island flea market about a turn of the century servant named Ellen; who also fell for a sweet talking monster.  The more she reads Ellen’s story, the more it echoes her own.  “I’m every woman,” thinks Maggie; every woman who has ever been abused -- her Mom, her best friend, Ellen and even Frank’s mother.  She dreams of being a siren and walking into the sea, of being free, of controlling her destiny, but she is stuck in an endless rollercoaster of violence.  Her job is at risk, her addiction growing out of control, Frank’s violence is escalating, all men turn out to be pigs, and her one friend turns her back on her.  Maggie’s chasing the dragon and the dragon is chasing her.  But, when her one chance at freedom arrives, a fearful but determined Maggie makes the most startling decision of her life.


AUTHOR BIO:   Award-winning Puerto Rican author Theresa Varela was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York.  She is the recipient of International Latino Book Awards for COVERING THE SUN WITH MY HAND in 2015 and NIGHTS OF INDIGO BLUE: A DAISY MUŇIZ in 2016.  Dr. Varela holds a PhD in Nursing Research and Theory Development, and currently works with the mentally ill homeless population in New York City.  She is a member of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses and a member of Las Comadres Para Las Americas, and is on the Advisory Board of the Latina 50 Plus program. Theresa is co-founder of La Pluma y La Tinta, a Writer’s Workshop.  Her blog, LatinaLibations on Writing and All Things of the Spirit, can be found at www.theresavarela.com. 

Check out our February / Valentine's Day interview with Theresa by clicking here.





#READLATINOLIT

#READLATINO

#READLATINX







April 4, 2019

BOOK OF THE MONTH: VIRGIN: POEMS BY ANALICIA SOTELO




The virgins are here to prove a point.
                                                 Do You Speak Virgin?




The Latina Book Club is pleased to announce its Book of the Month – VIRGIN: POEMS by Analicia Sotelo.  And, since April is Poetry Month, our selection is very apropos.


Milkweed Editions

Dynamic. Sensuous. Mythic. Authentic.

VIRGIN celebrates the power of women, and will resonate with many.  Little girls start as virgins and grow into women, brides, mothers.  This book, these poems are all about that growth; about all the things important to women --- feminism, sex, womanhood, family, culture, religion.  There’s love and loss, happiness and betrayal, reflection and self-discovery. 

In her poem, Do You Speak Virgin?, with which Analicia opens her book, the narrator thinks of herself as a “Mexican American fascinator.”  From her veil to her cherry-colored cardigan to her sandal covered feet, she fascinates and enthralls. This Virgin gives us a taste of her life, her spirit, and shares with us her humiliations, revelations and cures.  With this book, Analicia Sotelo definitely makes her point.

  
BOOK SUMMARY:   Selected by Ross Gay as winner of the inaugural Jake Adam York Prize, Analicia Sotelo’s debut collection of poems is a vivid portrait of the artist as a young woman.

In VIRGIN, Sotelo walks the line between autobiography and mythmaking, offering up identities like dishes at a feast. These poems devour and complicate tropes of femininity―of naiveté, of careless abandon―before sharply exploring the intelligence and fortitude of women, how “far & wide, / how dark & deep / this frigid female mind can go.” A schoolgirl hopelessly in love. A daughter abandoned by her father. A seeming innocent in a cherry-red cardigan, lurking at the margins of a Texas barbeque. A contemporary Ariadne with her monstrous Theseus. A writer with a penchant for metaphor and a character who thwarts her own best efforts. “A Mexican American fascinator.”

At every step, Sotelo’s poems seduce with history, folklore, and sensory detail―grilled meat, golden habañeros, and burnt sugar―before delivering clear-eyed and eviscerating insights into power, deceit, relationships, and ourselves. Here is what it means to love someone without truly understanding them. Here is what it means to be cruel. And here is what it means to become an artist, of words and of the self. Blistering and gorgeous, VIRGIN is an audacious act of imaginative self-mythology from one of our most promising young poets.



Analicia Sotelo is the author of Nonstop Godhead, which was selected by Rigoberto González for a 2016 Poetry Society of America National Chapbook Fellowship. Her poem “I’m Trying to Write a Poem About a Virgin and It’s Awful” was selected for Best New Poets 2015 by Tracy K. Smith. Her poems have also appeared or are forthcoming in the New YorkerBoston ReviewKenyon ReviewNew England Review, and Iowa Review. She earned her MFA from the University of Houston and works for Writers in the Schools in Houston.  Learn more about her at www.analiciasotelo.com.


Happy Reading.
Happy Poetry Month.
Happy Spring.

#READLATINOLIT

 



February 14, 2019

HERE IS THE LOVE! INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR THERESA VARELA




HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY !


The Latina Book Club is doing mini interviews with Latino / Latinx authors about Latin Lovers, favorite couples, and best presents to give this week.  

We are pleased to welcome International Latino Book Awards winner Theresa Varela.  
She’s a Puerto Rican author from Brooklyn, NY.

 
Photo by Patricia Dorelles 


LBC:  Welcome, Theresa.  Valentine’s Day is upon us, and nothing says romance more than a Latin Lover, or does it?  What do you think of the Latin Lover— is he a Macho Man, Eye Candy or other?  

THERESA:  The terms Latin lover, Eye Candy, and Macho Man bring forth the vision of grainy black and white cinema. A rose between a swashbuckler’s teeth or the heaving cleavage of a voluptuous barmaid evoke fantasy and passion.  Rudolph Valentino did much in his day for the construction of the female ideology that escape of the doldrums of a dull life could only be accomplished by a man who strides in on a magnificent white stallion.  We love adventure and magic in our relationships and that can be achieved with stability, groundedness, and with an inner core of trust in our partners. We’re fortunate that old fashioned expectations of traditional male and female roles no longer apply to individuals and choice in their cocreation of love.


LBC:     Describe the ideal Lover— Latino or otherwise.  

THERESA:  Most of us yearn for intimacy, for a deep, and lasting love. Our ability to love at such depths has usually already been affected profoundly by our pasts. In Coney Island Siren, the words protagonist and antagonist aptly describe Maggie and Frank as partners in an often disturbing, yet compelling bond. The couple’s psychology is complex. Both bring to their relationship early experiences that have left indelible marks on their psyches, spirits, and souls. That’s not to say that these novel characters cannot strive to be idyllic lovers. Characters are like actors in a play that portray us, in our ultimate humanness. Isn’t ideal love only identified in the eyes of the loving beholder?


LBC:    Who’s your favorite couple and why?

THERESA:  I hope it’s not cheating to say that my spouse and I are my favorite couple. We’ve lasted many chapters and quite a few episodes of life together. Our early excitement and passion have bloomed into strong commitment, embracing and championing each other’s visions, and support of one another’s disappointments when those invariably occur. My adult children love her dearly. She is my grandson’s godmother. My father, who recently crossed over, loved her as a second daughter. Over the years we’ve learned to accept each other’s differences while celebrating our love all the time, not only on Valentine’s Day, although that is a great excuse for fun.

  
LBC:  What’s the best present to give your Valentine?

THERESA:  Valentine’s gifts should be symbolic of the relationship. When I was much younger, I longed for deep crimson teddy bears that wore tee-shirts declaring the sentiment of LOVE. As I’ve matured and my awareness of love has deeply ripened even the desire for a Valentine’s present has changed. There are years that my spouse and I discuss beforehand the limits or the expansiveness of the Valentine gift. Some lovers gift each other flowers, champagne, chocolates, or sexy underthings. At this point, I prefer the trust, confidence, and reciprocal love that I’ve come to cherish in my intimate relationship. A card, a dinner, with a little handholding, and deep commitment is celebrated any day of the year.


LBC:  Describe your novel, CONEY ISLAND SIREN, in 5 words.

THERESA:  Sensual, provocative, surreal, mystical, awakening!




The Latina Book Club thanks author Theresa Varela for participating in our Valentine’s Week Special.


BIO:   Award-winning Puerto Rican author Theresa Varela was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. She is the recipient of International Latino Book Awards for Covering the Sun with My Hand in 2015 and Nights of Indigo Blue: A Daisy Muñiz Mystery in 2016. Dr. Varela holds a PhD in Nursing Research and Theory Development, and currently works with the mentally ill homeless population in New York City. She is a member of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses and a member of Las Comadres Para las Americas, and is on the Advisory Board of the Latina 50 Plus program. She is co-founder of La Pluma y La Tinta, a writers’ workshop. Her blog, LatinaLibations on Writing and All Things of the Spirit, can be found at www.theresavarela.com



#HappyValentinesDay

#HappyReading

#ReadLatinoLit



February 13, 2019

HERE IS THE LOVE! INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR CHRIS CAMPANIONI




Happy Valentine’s Week! 
The Latina Book Club is doing mini interviews with Latino / Latinx authors about Latin Lovers, favorite couples, and best presents to give this week.  

We are pleased to welcome award-winning author, model, poet, editor, and teacher Chris Campanioni.





LBC:  Welcome, Chris.  Valentine’s Day is upon us, and nothing says romance more than a Latin Lover, or does it?  What do you think of the Latin Lover— is he a Macho Man, Eye Candy or other?  

CHRIS:  I feel uncomfortable about prescribing to or even reproducing that cultural stereotype; however, when I think about romance, and about my background and experience, I tend to often equate love with food--the way to your loved one's heart, then, is through their mouth, the tongue, and into the belly. 


LBC:     Describe the ideal Lover— Latino or otherwise.  

CHRIS:  Someone curious and willing; someone open and considerate--they don't hesitate to take great leaps; they constellate around uncertainty and a certain silence. Perhaps most of all, someone who excites themselves with the miracle of every day.


LBC:    Who’s your favorite couple and why?

CHRIS:  My parents--duh! Everything I've learned about love--and so much more--has been through their own love and guidance.

  
LBC:  What’s the best present to give your Valentine?

CHRIS:  A book dedicated to them, written for them.


LBC:  Describe your novel, DRIFT, in 5 words.

CHRIS:  Time, memory, exile, death, excess.

 
King Shot Press

The Latina Book Club thanks author Chris Campanioni for participating in our Valentine’s Week Special.


BIO:  Chris Campanioni was born in Manhattan and raised in New Jersey, the son of immigrants from Poland and Cuba. He is the author of the novel Going Down (Aignos, 2013), named the Best First Book at the 2014 International Latino Book Awards. His poem “Transport (after ‘When Ecstasy is Inconvenient’)” was a finalist for the Zócalo Public Square Poetry Prize.  Campanioni’s hybrid works include the internet is for real (C&R Press, forthcoming 2019), Drift (King Shot Press, 2018), and the experimental memoir Death of Art (C&R Press, 2018). Campanioni’s work can include multimedia aspects, including the piece This body’s long (& I’m still loading), an official selection of the Canadian International Film Festival in 2017.  Campanioni’s honors and awards include an Academy of American Poets College Prize. His creative writing, criticism, and journalism have appeared widely in journals such as Brooklyn Rail, Gulf Coast, DIAGRAM, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and the San Francisco Chronicle. The editor of PANK, Tupelo Quarterly, and At Large magazinehe earned an MA from Fordham University and is currently a Provost Fellow and MAGNET Mentor at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, where he is pursuing a PhD. He teaches at Pace University and Baruch College. Learn more about him at www.chriscampanioni.com. 



#HappyValentinesDay

#HappyReading

#ReadLatinoLit


  



February 12, 2019

HERE IS THE LOVE! INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR PRISCILLA OLIVERAS





Happy Valentine’s Week! 
The Latina Book Club is doing mini interviews with Latino / Latinx authors about Latin Lovers, favorite couples, and best presents to give this week.  

We are pleased to welcome USA Today Bestselling Author Priscilla Oliveras.  She is a double RITA Finalist.  The RITA is the Oscar for the romance industry.  (Congrats, Congrats, Priscilla!!)   Her novel, THEIR PERFECT MELODY, is book three in her Matched to Perfection series, about three sexy, sassy Puerto Rican sisters.  And we are looking forward to her new series from Kensington in 2020.


Photo by Michael A. Eaddy



LBC:  Welcome, Priscilla.  Valentine’s Day is upon us, and nothing says romance more than a Latin Lover, or does it?  What do you think of the Latin Lover— is he a Macho Man, Eye Candy or other?  

PRISCILLA:  Honestly, I tend to shy away from the idea of the “Latin Lover” because often it becomes more of a caricature. For me, the ideal Latino is a guy who speaks my language in many ways. Meaning, sure, our Spanglish conversations run the gamut from fun and games to serious and neither one of us is confused by the mix of words, but he also understands my commitment to familia and has just a touch of machismo evidenced by his dedication and desire to protect his loved ones without egoism involved. He knows how to make me feel special, cherished, and respected. Ooooh, and he can definitely hang with me on the dance floor. ;-) 


LBC:     Describe the ideal Lover— Latino or otherwise.  

PRISCILLA:  Wait, I think I jumped ahead in my response to question #1 and started answering this one, too. Like I said, my ideal lover understands and values the importance of knowing how to make me feel special, cherished, and respected. In and out of the bedroom. Of course, I’d expect the same from myself when it comes to how I treat him.


LBC:    Who’s your favorite couple and why?

PRISCILLA:  Real life couple? Michelle and Barack Obama, I love seeing them together. How they beautifully they interact with each other. To me, they epitomize how two individuals can achieve personal and professional success while maintaining a healthy, loving relationship and raising a family together, even while being under such an intense spotlight. They’re like a living romance novel: Conflict and bad things happen in life (in the story), but with the right partner beside you, you get through it and find your HEA or HFN. J


LBC:  What’s the best present to give your Valentine?

PRISCILLA:  Something that they’d like, which doesn’t necessarily mean something I’d want to receive. Gift giving involves thinking about the other person. Trying to please them. So, I look at it from their perspective, maybe even consider their love language, and see if I can figure out something they’d love to receive.


LBC:  Describe your novel, THE PERFECT MELODY, in 5 words.

PRISCILLA:  Rather than toot my own horn, I figured I’d share some of the descriptors used by reviewers when describing my novels: emotion-packed, culturally-rich, moving, welcoming, compelling.  (The Latina Book Club would like to add lovely.)


Zebra Books


The Latina Book Club thanks author Priscilla Oliveras for participating in our Valentine’s Week Special.

BIO:  Priscilla Oliveras is a USA Today bestselling author and 2018 RWA® RITA® double finalist who writes contemporary romance with a Latinx flavor. Proud of her Puerto Rican-Mexican heritage, she strives to bring authenticity to her novels by sharing her Latinx culture with readers. She and her work have earned praise from the Washington Post, New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, Redbook, Publishers Weekly, and Booklist, amongst others. Priscilla earned her MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University and currently teaches the online class “Romance Writing” for ed2go. While she’s a devotee of the written word, Priscilla also considers herself a sports fan, beach lover, and Zumba aficionado, who often practices the art of napping in her backyard hammock. To follow along on her fun-filled and hectic life, visit her on the web at www.prisoliveras.com, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/prisoliveras or on Twitter and Instagram via @prisoliveras.



#HappyValentinesDay 

#HappyReading 

#ReadLatinoLit