March 23, 2020


The Latina Book Club is Celebrating Women’s History Month by showcasing female authors and poets all this month.  
We thank these fearless women for joining the celebration and sharing their works with us.  Enjoy!

MARTA M. MIRANDA-STRAUB is a poet and storyteller who has spent her life working towards equity, inclusion, and creating systems change. Her activism has focused on advancing social and economic justice for marginalized communities. Until the age of twelve Marta was raised in Pinar del Rio, Cuba. In 1966 she immigrated to New Jersey. “As a refugee family from Cuba,” Marta said, “we were resettled by Catholic Charities in West New York, New Jersey, with a sponsor family in September 1966. We left our extended family, photo albums, toys, worldly belongings, language, culture, flag, and land on the island.” She now lives and works in Louisville, Kentucky, and affectionately describes herself as a Cubalachian— a combination of Cuban and Appalachian. When she arrived in Kentucky and saw the beauty of the “old and worn mountains” she “knew that [she] could be an American, a Cuban-American, as long as [she] could live in Kentucky.”


It's Women's History Month. What three women inspire you most of all? Any female authors?

MMS:   Audrey Lorde, Alice Walker and Isabel Allende.

Do you think a woman can be President of the U.S.?

MMS:  Yes, and thank you for this question. I think a woman can and should be President of the U.S. Electing a woman is well overdue. Many other countries have excellent female presidents and history has shown women can and should be given the opportunity to lead their countries. 

What do the skeletons signify in your title? In your poetry?

MMS:  The skeletons in CRADLED BY SKELETONS / MECIDA POR ESQUELETOS represent the people in my life who had the same circumstances as me but died or were killed. My twin sister died at birth. Many refugees seeking asylum died on their journey to the U.S. Also, I grew up in a violent ghetto in New Jersey upon arriving in the U.S. Many did not live to make it out of that ghetto due to violence, drug use, or other circumstances. Personally, I am recovering (for thirty-eight years now) from drugs. All of these people are the skeletons in my title, in my work. They cradle me and I carry them in my DNA. They hold me up to give voice to their experience. 


Shadelandhouse Modern Press
CRADLED BY SKELETONS:  A Life in Poems and Essays / MECIDA POR ESQUELETOS:  Una Vida en Poemas y Ensayos  (book includes complete Spanish translation)

This memoir relates Marta Miranda-Straub’s experience of trauma, resilience, and transformation. The book also portrays how her life’s work as a social worker, educator, leader, activist, advocate, and community organizer has been fueled by discernment, resistance, and transformation of individual, institutional, and societal systems of power. Miranda-Straub has a keen sense of awareness and she questions injustices with intention, compassion, humility, and humor. There is a shared connection with both the victim and the perpetrator in her writings that exalts the grit and grace of humanity. 


You can read more about this book and see a sample of inside pages, at this link:



March 16, 2020


The Latina Book Club is Celebrating Women’s History Month by showcasing female authors and poets all this month.  
We thank these fearless women for joining the celebration and sharing their works with us.  Enjoy!

Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa was born in Puerto Rico and raised in New York City. She is a product of the Puerto Rican communities on the island and in the South Bronx. She attended the New York City public school system and received her academic degrees from the State University of New York at Buffalo and Queens College-City University of New York. As a child she was sent to live with her grandparents in Puerto Rico where she was introduced to the culture of rural Puerto Rico, including the storytelling that came naturally to the women in her family, especially the older women. Much of her work is based on her experiences during this time. Dahlma taught creative writing and language and literature in the New York City public school system before becoming a young-adult librarian. She has also taught creative writing to teenagers, adults, and senior citizens throughout New York while honing her own skills as a fiction writer and memoirist.  Her short stories appear in the following anthologies: Bronx Memoir ProjectLatina Authors and Their MusesBreaking Ground: Anthology of Puerto Rican Women Writers in New York 1980 - 2012, and Growing Up Girl. Dahlma's work also appears in various literary magazines such as the Afro-Hispanic Review, Punado, and Kweli Journal.  Since her retirement, Dahlma continues to dedicate herself to her writing, speaking engagements, and workshops. She resides in the Bronx with her husband, photographer Jonathan Lessuck.


We loved your book DAUGHTERS OF THE STONE, but now you have a new version.  Why did you change it? What did you add to make it even better?

DLF:  By 2018, the original hard cover edition was out of print. For years, I pushed for the publisher to release a Trade Paperback edition that would be more affordable for our community. They would never do it, so when I finally got my rights back, I published it for myself. There are no words that can express the freedom to be able to have total control over your own work. What's changed? The text is the same, however, because it's the 10th anniversary edition, I really wanted to thank my longtime supporters and readers directly. This edition has a new cover design and spine (though I kept the original artwork that is so much a part of the story). It also contains A Note from the Author, as well as a Readers Guide for use by schools and book clubs.  

You have a new book, A WOMAN OF ENDURANCE.   Describe it in 5 words.  

DLF: It's about a woman who is used as a human breeder of slaves and her fight to heal from that trauma. (Sorry, couldn't keep it down to five words.)

When will the new book be published?  Was it hard to find a publisher for it?

DLF:  My agent, Marie Dutton Brown, is currently seeking a home for my second novel. Several publishers have expressed interest. You, my readers and followers will be the first to know when I sign on the dotted line.  Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Latina or Latinx?  This question keeps coming up.  Do you have a preference?  Are the terms interchangeable? 

DLF:   I personally prefer Afro-Latina or Afro-Boricua which embody more of the totality of who I am as a woman and as a writer.  

March is Women's History Month.  What women have inspired you and your writing?

DLF:  My mother, grandmother and my great grandmother are my personal role models. They broke the molds of women of their times, taught me about struggle, endurance, and storytelling as a way to pass on personal history. On the literary level, Julia de Burgos, Isabel Allende, and Toni Morrison taught me that I can tell my own story, my own way. They also taught me how to make language sing. I owe them all a debt of gratitude.

Do you think  a woman can be President of the USA? 

DLF:  The short answer is women are ready and certainly qualified to be president, but I don't think the country is ready to see that happen. 


DAUGHTERS OF THE STONE spans five generations of Afro-Puerto Rican women. A lyrical powerful debut novel about a family, detailing their physical and spiritual journey from the Old World to the New.

Book is available by clicking here.





March 8, 2020


The Latina Book Club is Celebrating Women’s History Month by showcasing female authors and poets all this month.  
We thank these fearless women for joining the celebration and sharing their works with us.  Enjoy!

JASMINNE MENDEZ is a poet, playwright, educator and award winning author.  Mendez has had poetry and essays published by or forthcoming in The New England Review, Crab Creek Review, Kenyon Review, Gulf Coast, The Rumpus, and others. She is the author of two poetry/prose collections ISLAND OF DREAMS (Floricanto Press, 2013) which won an International Latino Book Award, and NIGHT-BLOOMING JASMIN(N)E: Personal Essays and Poetry (Arte Publico Press, 2018). She is a Pushcart Prize nominee, and has received fellowships from Canto Mundo and the Kenyon Review Writer's Workshop among others. She is an MFA graduate of the creative writing program at the Rainier Writer's Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University, and University of Houston alumni. 


It's Women's History Month.  What three women inspire you most? Any female authors?

JM:  The three women that inspire me the most are: my mother, Frida Kahlo, and Lucille Clifton and Patricia Smith (black poets).

Do you think a woman can be President of the U.S.?

JM:  I do think a woman can and should be president and I hope to see it in my lifetime. 

If poetry is a song, what music would be playing at your house?

JM:  Almost any kind of bachata (but preferably the old school kind), the rhythm, motion, "1, 2, 3" step of it all reminds me of poetry. How bachata moves and feels in the body is how poetry moves and feels in the body to me, that it can be fast or slow, loud or soft, that in the pickup of that hip or leg or foot there's a pause/a breath, that bachata began as a revolution in the DR, the poor fighting back against oppression and dictatorship (Trujillo hated bachata), but it's also music about love and loss and the blues. Bachata has a very specific dance step and rhythm, the way a sonnet or a villanelle has a specific structure, but within that there is so much freedom and creativity at what's expressed. Bachata relies heavily on the guitar, the way a poem relies heavily on the line, to me the strings of the guitar are like the lines of a poem.

What are you working on now? When will it be published?

JM:  I'm working on several things now - in production with Arte Público Press are two books - One children's book, JOSEFINA’S HABICHUELAS, about a little girl who gives up eating sweets for Lent and then learns to make her favorite dessert Dominican habichuelas con dulce, and one as of yet untitled middle grade memoir about my life ages 9-13. I'm working on edits for both and both will be out in 2021. 

The main project that I'm actually toiling away at daily is my choreopoem play and poetry collection CITY WITHOUT ALTAR or EL DESALOJO, I've sent the poetry manuscript out to publishers and who knows when it will be published?! But as I work on edits for the play version, I hope to have several staged readings of it in the next year or so.


Arte Publico Press

NIGHT-BLOOMING JASMIN(N)E is a stirring collection of personal essays and poetry. Mendez shares her story, writing about encounters with the medical establishment, experiences as an Afro-Latina, and longing for the life she expected but that eludes her.

Learn more about Jasminne Mendez here:

Twitter: @Jasminne Mendez 
Facebook: jmendezmemoirs
Instagram: @Jasminne Mendez 



March 2, 2020


The Latina Book Club's March Madness begins.  No, not basketball.  Our madness is a dark and thrilling book that will keep people on the edge of their seats.  Happy Reading!

Independently Published
He was not the demon everyone portrayed him to be, but rather he was a savior –a messiah—saving souls, and forgiving those who had failed to protect those they were supposed to protect.
---The Cowboy

Dramatic. Scary. Thrilling. 

Author Manny Meléndez has written a dark crime thriller that attracts and repels readers in equal measure, but keeps them reading. Clichés abound, but the author uses them wisely to quickly identify villain and hero alike. Readers are in for a roller coaster of emotions in this gripping page-turner, with twists and turns that will have readers on the edge of their seats until the surprising end.

Meléndez doesn’t shy away from writing dark menacing characters.  Must be his love for the dark Master Edgar Allan Poe.  In THE COWBOY, a machete-wielding psychopath has a serious vendetta against nurses, and the headless bodies are stacking up.  After more than 10 years on the force, New York City Detectives John Delgado and Bill Crocitto had thought they’d seen everything. They haven’t. They are now on the hunt for a monster, and following every lead no matter how trivial. They will stop the Cowboy at all costs, even if it means going out in a blaze of glory.#

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Manuel A. Meléndez was born in Puerto Rico and raised in East Harlem, N.Y. He is the author of two mystery/supernatural novels, WHEN ANGELS FALL and BATTLE FOR A SOUL; five poetry books; two collections of Christmas short stories; and one collection of horror stories. His novel WHEN ANGELS FALL was voted by The as the Best Novel of 2013, while BATTLE FOR A SOUL was awarded Honorable Mention in the 2015 International Latino Awards for mystery novels. His short story, “A Killer Among Us,” was published by Akashi Books in San Juan Noir anthology. The author lives in Sunnyside, N.Y. harvesting tales from the streets of the city. For more information, please visit his website at



January 30, 2020


The brotherhood of Beast Riders is lifting me in a huge hum of instructions, with great ferocity of purpose, with a kind of love new to me.  
Love that says, Stranger, we are in this together. --Manuel

The Latina Book Club is proud to be a blogger reviewer for Multicultural Children’s Book Day – January 31, 2020.  This year’s book review is of the BEAST RIDER by Tony Johnston and Maria Elena Fontanot de Rhoads (Abrams Press).  Views expressed are our own. 

Haunting. Inspiring. Genuine.   

BEAST RIDER is a harrowing, thrilling, and emotional ride fraught with danger and hope.  It’s one boy’s journey across the border to reconnect with his long lost brother. This very realistic tale is about love, courage, family and growing up fast.

It’s also frightening because it can – and does! -- happen.  Young boys – girls, adults, elders – do ride “The Beast,” the fast moving train from Mexico towards the U.S.  12-year old Manuel is such a boy.  In this fictional tale, he leaves his small town to join his older brother Toňo in Los Angeles. Neither the journey nor the ride are easy.  There are gangs, thieves, corrupt police, etc., who prowl around The Beast. Manuel is not prepared for the violence he encounters, but he does find strangers who help him on his way. Third time proves lucky, and Manuel, now 15, finally makes it to L.A. and is reunited with his brother in a strange new land.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:   Tony Johnston is the award-winning author of more than 100 children’s books. She lives with her family in San Marino, California. Maria Elena Fontanot de Rhoads is a Mexican psychotherapist who specializes in childhood trauma. She lives in Mérida, Mexico.


Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2020 (1/31/20) is in its 7th year! This non-profit children’s literacy initiative was founded by Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen; two diverse book-loving moms who saw a need to shine the spotlight on all of the multicultural books and authors on the market while also working to get those book into the hands of young readers and educators. Seven years in, MCBD’s mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves continues. 

MCBD 2020  is honored to have the following Medallion Sponsors on board

Super Platinum





Author Sponsor Link Cloud

Jerry Craft, A.R. Bey and Adventures in Boogieland, Eugina Chu & Brandon goes to Beijing, Kenneth Braswell & Fathers Incorporated, Maritza M. Mejia & Luz del mes_Mejia, Kathleen Burkinshaw & The Last Cherry Blossom, SISSY GOES TINY by Rebecca Flansburg and B.A. Norrgard, Josh Funk and HOW TO CODE A ROLLERCOASTER, Maya/Neel Adventures with Culture Groove,  Lauren Ranalli, The Little Green Monster: Cancer Magic! By Dr. Sharon Chappell, Phe Lang and Me On The Page, Afsaneh Moradian and Jamie is Jamie, Valerie Williams-Sanchez and Valorena Publishing, TUMBLE CREEK PRESS, Nancy Tupper Ling, Author Gwen Jackson, Angeliki Pedersen & The Secrets Hidden Beneath the Palm Tree, Author Kimberly Gordon Biddle, BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 by Mia Wenjen, Susan Schaefer Bernardo & Illustrator Courtenay Fletcher (Founders of Inner Flower Child Books), Ann Morris & Do It Again!/¡Otra Vez!, Janet Balletta and Mermaids on a Mission to Save the Ocean, Evelyn Sanchez-Toledo & Bruna Bailando por el Mundo\ Dancing Around the World, Shoumi Sen & From The Toddler Diaries, Sarah Jamila Stevenson, Tonya Duncan and the Sophie Washington Book Series, Teresa Robeson  & The Queen of Physics, Nadishka Aloysius and Roo The Little Red TukTuk, Girlfriends Book Club Baltimore & Stories by the Girlfriends Book Club, Finding My Way Books, Diana Huang & Intrepids, Five Enchanted Mermaids, Elizabeth Godley and Ribbon’s Traveling Castle, Anna Olswanger and Greenhorn, Danielle Wallace & My Big Brother Troy, Jocelyn Francisco and Little Yellow Jeepney, Mariana Llanos & Kutu, the Tiny Inca Princess/La Ñusta Diminuta, Sara Arnold & The Big Buna Bash, Roddie Simmons & Race 2 Rio, DuEwa Frazier & Alice’s Musical Debut, Veronica Appleton & the Journey to Appleville book series  Green Kids Club, Inc.

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.

Co-Hosts and Global Co-Hosts

A Crafty Arab, Afsaneh Moradian, Agatha Rodi Books, All Done Monkey, Barefoot Mommy, Bethany Edward & Biracial Bookworms, Michelle Goetzl & Books My Kids Read, Crafty Moms Share, Colours of Us, Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes, Educators Spin on it, Shauna Hibbitts-creator of eNannylink, Growing Book by Book, Here Wee Read, Joel Leonidas & Descendant of Poseidon Reads {Philippines}, Imagination Soup, Kid World Citizen, Kristi’s Book Nook, The Logonauts, Mama Smiles, Miss Panda Chinese, Multicultural Kid Blogs, Serge Smagarinsky {Australia}, Shoumi Sen, Jennifer Brunk & Spanish Playground, Katie Meadows and Youth Lit Reviews

FREE RESOURCES from Multicultural Children’s Book Day

·       Our New FREE Teacher Classroom Physical and Developmental Challenges Kit

·       Free Empathy Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians, and Educators

TWITTER PARTY! Register here!  Twitter Party on Friday, January 31, 2020, from 9:00-10:00pm ET.  Follow the #ReadYourWorld hashtag to join in and win!