June 22, 2016

POEM: THE PULSE OF LIFE BY RUDOLFO ANAYA



The Latina Book Club is honored to reprint Rudolfo Anaya’s new poem in memory of the 49 fallen in Orlando. 
Our prayers continue to be with the family and friends, and the LGBT Community at large.
#LoveIsLoveIsLove




“The Pulse of Life”


It was the twelfth of June
            another hot and humid Florida night.

In Orlando young people gathered at the
            Pulse Club, enjoying camaraderie, the
            dance floor pulsating with life,
            dancers moving to syncopated music,
            Latin rhythms, good will embraces,
            laughter, friendships, plans for
            tomorrow, flashing smiles releasing
            stress in silent motions.

Then the pulse of life ended.
            A man on fire came from a dark,
            twisted place, methodically spraying
            death, massacring our LGBT
            dancers who fell like cut flowers.

Pulses died in 49 bloodied wrists,
            blood pressures plunged to zero,
            juices of life that would never
            flow into the future stained
            the sad dance floor.

Shock spread across the country,
            across the world, enough grief
            to last many lifetimes.  Lost lives
            cannot be replaced.

Orlando pulled together, offering
            condolences and help.  From here
            we sent flor y canto, oraciones,
            flowers and poems, prayers.
            Left bereaved on this senseless
            plain, we wondered who killed the
            Golden Rule, Love Your Neighbor.

We mourn our fallen comrades, our
            gay sisters and brothers, and after
            grieving we march to tear down the
            barricades of hate, bigotry,
            prejudices.  We march to tear down
            walls that separate.


                                                ©2016 Rudolfo Anaya
                                                6/19/16



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Rudolfo Anaya is a Mexican-American writer and educator, and Professor Emeritus of English at the University of New Mexico.  Anaya taught high school and college courses while writing novels with groundbreaking Chicano themes, and received acclaim for BLESS ME, ULTIMA (1972), HEART OF AZTLAN (1976) and TORTUGA (1979). He has received numerous literary awards, including the Premio Quinto Sol and a National Medal of Arts. He resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  His new book, THE SORROWS OF YOUNG ALFONSO, is out now from the Oklahoma University Press.  Visit them at www.oupress.com.



June 20, 2016

REVIEW: LUCK IS JUST THE BEGINNING BY CELESTE LEON

  
  The Latina Book Club continues to celebrate and honor our Fathers.
Here’s a loving tale about a Dad who is a true hero to his family and his town; 
and an inspiration to men everywhere.


If one is lucky, a solitary fantasy can totally transform one million realities.—Maya Angelou

And for the cruel person who tears out the heart with which I live, I cultivate neither nettles nor thorns; I cultivate a white rose.—José Marti  
It’s your family, your friends, and our belief in one another that count most in the end.—Ramón Carrasquillo.

 


“Ramón León Carrasquillo had a powerful premonition. Something extraordinary was about to happen.”


Floricanto Press
So opens LUCK IS JUST THE BEGINNING, a novel by Celeste León based on her father’s true story.  It’s a beautiful, inspiring, mesmerizing tale written by a loving daughter to honor the man and father she admires most. 

But don’t think this is just another emotional retelling of a father’s life.  Oh no, LUCK IS JUST THE BEGINNING is a heroic adventure. Our hero Ramón wins the gold, but then faces demons from every quarter.  He is challenged repeatedly and comes close to losing his life a few times, and, in true champion style, our Hero rallies himself to conquer all evil and save the day.

Ramón Carrasquillo is a hero not only to his family, but to the town of Maunabo as well.  He was the seventh child, born in a caul on the seventh day of the seventh month. On November 17, 1944, he saw numbers in the clouds and had a strong urge to play the lottery. He did and he won, and so his life changed forever.

Ramón wasn’t frivolous.  He didn’t want the money for a house or a car; he wanted to use that money to fulfill a promise he made to his old mentor; a promise to become a dentist and open a clinic for his village.

But with his good fortune came the bad – a long line of people begging, even demanding, that he helped them; friends who promise to help him succeed getting into college but for a price; an aloof girl who suddenly welcomed his courtship but in the end would not marry him; dark temptations that prove hard to resist; and worse of all an enemy who threatened his life and his integrity.

LUCK IS JUST THE BEGINNING is also about paradoxes.  Good and bad fortunes.  It’s about winning the lottery and gaining enemies.  It’s about winning the girl but not her hand.  It’s about helping your family but losing your friends. It’s about fighting for your country but not winning its respect. 

But luckily, this novel is also about admitting your mistakes and correcting them.  It’s about paying bad actions with good ones.  It’s about being honorable and faithful; and most of all, it’s about being true to yourself.  Hard lessons all true Heroes most learn.  Lessons Ramon learned and lived.  He changed his actions to positive ones, and in doing so changed the fortunes of his family and his beloved town.

Celeste León has good reason to be proud of her heroic father, and after reading this novel, readers will also be cheering for this Hero Dad.###
  


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Celeste León is an award winning author. Her debut novel, LUCK IS JUST THE BEGINNING, was awarded Finalist in the Multicultural Fiction Category in the 2016 International Book Awards and the Mariposa Award for Best First Book in the 2016 International Latino Book Awards.

Celeste was named “One of Ten Latina Writers to Watch and Read” by The Latina Book Club, and shortly thereafter they published this interview in honor of Women’s History Month (March): Beyond a Stroke of Luck: An Interview with Celeste León by Teresa Dovalpage

Celeste is a 2013 alumna of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers. She is the recipient of First Prize in the annual contest for the High Sierra Writers group in Reno, Nevada for her essay, Finding Home, about her travels to Puerto Rico in search of her family roots. When Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor read the piece, she said, “If your work on your short story reflects your work on your book, it will be successful.” The piece was also a finalist in the 2014 annual contest for The Preservation Foundation.  Celeste is a physical therapist and lives in Truckee, CA with her family.  Visit her social media sites:




For 2016 International Book Awards announcement, click here.

To watch her NPR interview, click here.


  

Here’s to our first heroes – our Dads.

Thank you for loving us and inspiring us.

Happy Father’s Day….every day!


READ LATINO



June 19, 2016

HONORING MY FATHER BY CELESTE LEON

  
The Latina Book Club wishes Fathers everywhere a Happy Father’s Day.

We also welcome author Celeste Leon, who shares with us the story of her “lucky” father 
and the reasons she just had to write a book about him.

And many Felicidades to Celeste on her book, LUCK IS ONLY THE BEGINNING, being named a Finalist in the 2016 International Book Awards, and a Finalist for the Mariposa Award for Best First Book in the 2016 International Latino Book Awards.




Three Generations
Author, father & daughter
FROM CELESTE LEÓN:

In 1944 my father, Ramón León, won the lottery. $18,000, a fortune! ($500,000 in today's money.) To say that it changed his life and the lives of others is a gross understatement.

His story has become such family lore that ten years ago, I decided I must tell it. “Why do you want to write about me?” my father asked when I said I was writing a book about him. His response shows his humility. What he accomplished is extraordinary, though he’d never admit it.

Ramón León grew up in the remote seaside town of Maunabo, Puerto Rico. From the age of seven, he carried trays of pastries on his head into the nearby sugar plantation to sell to field hands. He saved every penny he earned. At 19, he had a premonition – a vision. A number flashed across the sky: 14007.  “Guillermo,” he said to his friend, “I need to play that number in the lottery!” He felt it so strongly that for the first time, he bought a full sheet of tickets, something only the very wealthy did. And he won. Going from poor to rich in a heartbeat caused as many problems as it solved. He struggled to use his winnings to stay true to himself, ensure family and community harmony, and fulfill his dream of being a healer.

a young Ramon Leon
Years before, a dentist known in his village as “El Humanitario” had cured Ramón's abscessed tooth. Since that day, Ramón dreamed of helping others as he'd been helped. Puerto Rico had few dentists and no dental school in 1944, so, though he knew no English, he attended Michigan State University. Although it was far from easy, his winnings allowed him to live his dream and ultimately return to Puerto Rico to carry on the work of his beloved mentor, “El Humanitario”

Weeks before my novel inspired by his story was released, one of my dad’s old patients read my story, A LUCKY MAN (2006). She posted it on our town’s Facebook page.

Testimonials from Dad’s former patients poured in, 25 years after he'd retired. “Best dentist I ever had.”  “One of a kind!” One patient told how Dad saw him on a Sunday after a terrible car accident. Recognizing the serious nature of the young man's injuries, Dad referred him to the nearest hospital. Dad made house calls, and if someone couldn’t pay, he bartered for services.
 
Dentist Ramon Leon
My father showed respect to everyone without question, and in turn, earned it. These lessons and values shaped the person I am today in my work as a physical therapist and author. In sharing intimate details of his life as I wrote Luck is Just the Beginning, he revealed a humble heroism.

Life has come full circle. His dream came true and, with the publication of my novel, LUCK IS JUST THE BEGINNING, so has mine. Readers have told me how the book inspired them, how they rejoiced during the good parts and cried during the bad.

I share this story in honor of Father’s Day. From selling pastries on sugar plantations to a career as an acclaimed dentist and healer, with a big boost from the Puerto Rican lottery, my father's story is truly amazing.###



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Celeste León is an award winning author. Her debut novel, Luck is Just the Beginning, was awarded Finalist in the Multicultural Fiction Category in the 2016 International Book Awards and the Mariposa Award for Best First Book in the 2016 International Latino Book Awards.

Floricanto Press
Celeste was named “One of Ten Latina Writers to Watch and Read” by The Latina Book Club, and shortly thereafter they published this interview in honor of Women’s History Month (March): Beyond a Stroke of Luck: An Interview with Celeste León by Teresa Dovalpage

Celeste is a 2013 alumna of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers. She is the recipient of First Prize in the annual contest for the High Sierra Writers group in Reno, Nevada for her essay, Finding Home, about her travels to Puerto Rico in search of her family roots. When Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor read the piece, she said, “If your work on your short story reflects your work on your book, it will be successful.” The piece was also a finalist in the 2014 annual contest for The Preservation Foundation.  Celeste is a physical therapist and lives in Truckee, CA with her family.  Visit her social media sites:




For 2016 International Book Awards announcement, click here.

To watch her NPR interview, click here.



HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!

READ LATINO



June 9, 2016

LIBRARIES: SUMMER READING CHALLENGE 2016



  
The Latina Book Club loves libraries.

Libraries are magical places full of miles and miles of wondrous books that transported readers of all ages to different cities, countries, even galaxies. Libraries are great places to visit and see science exhibits and art shows, and play computer games. But, best of all, readers can borrow books from their local library – dozens of books, hundreds of books – and take them home to read at their own pace.

This Summer, kids of all ages can take part in the Summer Reading Challenge offered by the New York Public Libraries in all boroughs.

The challenge is to read every day.

Whether it’s a fiction novel, memoir, comic book, how to book or DIY project, read at least 20-minutes each day.  Readers can also read in all languages – English, Spanish, Chinese, French, et al.  There are even braille and talking books for the blind.  For more information, visit the NYPL program by clicking here.

The Library offers tips on how to select a book, and there are different book lists to choose from.  The Latina Book Club offers a short list of Summer Reads as well, see below.

The Library also offers advice on how to read at home and log your reading.  There are FREE downloads of calendars and log books for all.

And, Play Ball!  Children reading baseball books can write a book review on their book and be entered to win tickets to a Yankee game this August.  For more information, visit the NYPL program by clicking here.

So visit your local Library and sign up for the Summer Reading Challenge today!


SUMMER READS! 

The Latina Book Club offers this short list of books for readers’ consideration:

For adults:
NEVER TOO REAL by Carmen Rita (Kensington)
LABYRINTH LOST by Zoraida Cordova (Sourcebooks)
LATINA AUTHORS & THEIR MUSES edited by Mayra Calvani (Twilight Times Books)

For young children:
CHOCOLATE MILK, POR FAVOR! by Maria Dismondy (Cardinal Rule Press)
PEDRO: FIRST-GRADE HERO by Fran Manushkin (Picture Window Books)
WHO’S JU? 7th Grade Sleuths by Dania Ramos (Northampton House Press)

For young adults:
BURN BABY BURN by Meg Medina (Candlewick Press)
Hollywood Witch Hunter by Valerie Tejeda (Bloomsbury Publishing)
The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros (Vintage)


Happy Summer!  Happy Reading!

And remember to always Read Latino!



June 7, 2016

BOOK OF THE MONTH: NEVER TOO REAL BY CARMEN RITA

  
Congratulations to Carmen Rita on her debut novel.
The Latina Book Club is happy to name NEVER TOO REAL our Book of the Month.


 “Everyone bore witness to…the supreme power of love. Family love and the love of friends. It was all so real.”



Kensington Books
THEY ARE EVERY WOMAN!

Finally!  A book where today’s professional, savvy Latinas are represented.  

Latinas will be able to recognize themselves in these four protagonists -- educated, professional, hard-working women, who are proud of their heritage and sexual orientation.  Readers will find the book funny and heart-wrenching, and at the end wish they too could be part of this tremendous sisterhood.

NEVER TOO REAL is a “savvy and wise” novel by debut author Carmen Rita.  It’s awe-inspiring and very real.  It’s about fierce friendships that stay with you through lost careers, broken marriages, financial troubles and identity-crises.  It’s about the family you make for yourself and a sisterhood that lasts forever.

Cat, Magda, Gabi and Luz are today’s successful Latinas. They are at the top of their careers; living life on their terms; true to themselves and their sexuality. But life is not always a fairytale and happy ever after’s don’t last long.  So when your world crumbles, who are you gonna call?  These women call on each other.  For sisters stand together; and it is together that they come through everything, always.

If you can only read one book this summer, NEVER TOO REAL is the one! ###




BOOK SUMMARY:  In NEVER TOO REAL, four close friends who've earned the best of everything are forced to decide what they can afford to lose…

Cat, Magda, Gabi, and Luz. They've helped each other up the ladder with unshakable encouragement--and raw honesty--since forever. But lately, trouble is throwing everything these formidable women thought they knew into doubt.

When outspoken Cat's high-flying T.V. career crashes and burns, she's got to figure out which dream she wants to keep alive the most--her own, or someone else's.  Gorgeous venture capitalist Magda defied her traditional family to make her own way--in her personal life and her career--but an unexpected crisis could finally shatter her chance to resolve the past.  As a therapist, sensitive, supportive Gabi has all the answers. But when her own world falls apart, can she turn her compassion--and her trademark tough love--on herself?  And proud, wealthy Luz thought she knew everything about her upper-class family background--until a revelation she never saw coming threatens to be the one legacy she can't afford.

Now all four women will have to face the truths that make them vulnerable and the failings that give them strength to discover who they really are--and what real happiness means.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Carmen Rita is Carmen Rita Wong, CEO and Founder of Malecon Productions, a multimedia content company. A successful entrepreneur, she was one of the few Latinas on American television to host a daily national news program, CNBC’s On the Money and has been a national advice columnist for Glamour, Latina, Essence, Men's Health and Good Housekeeping, as well as an expert with NBC’s TODAY Show, MSNBC, CNN, CBS This Morning, a regular on ABC’s The View, ​and has written for ​The New York Times and PARADE​. A guest of the White House as a member of President Obama’s ‘Business Forward’ initiative to further African-American, Latino and Asian business owners, Carmen was also a faculty professor at New York University and is the author of two best-selling financial advice books, including THE REAL COST OF LIVING. A seasoned speaker, moderator and native New Yorker, Carmen serves on the board of several nonprofit organizations and most-importantly, is ‘Mami’ to a young daughter and rescue pooch. Visit her at www.carmenrita.com.  Follow and friend her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.



READ LATINO!

Happy Summer!