September 29, 2014


Hispanic Heritage Month is in full swing and The Latina Book Club continues its celebration and promotion of Latino authors.  Below is an impressive list of children's books and young adult authors.  I didn't include the obvious choices -- Esmeralda Santiago (When I Was Puerto Rican), Julia Alvarez (Return to Sender) and Sandra Cisneros (The House on Mango Street) -- to give their spots to "newer" authors, a few of whom have won the prestigious Pura Belpre Award. 

We also did not include these two new authors -- Cindy L. Rodriguez (When Reason Breaks) and Valerie Tejeda (Hollywood Witch Hunters) -- because their works will not be out until 2015, but keep them in mind for the new year.  The Latina Book Club welcomes your additions to our list.  --mcf

1.    *Yuyi Morales, Niño Wrestles the World,

2.    Yadhira Gonzalez-Taylor, Martina Finds a Shiny Coin,

3.    *Duncan Tonatiuh, Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote: A Migrant's Tale,

4.    *Benjamin Alire Saenz, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe,

5.    *Pam Muñoz Ryan, The Dreamer,

6.    Alidis Vicente, Violet,

7.    *Meg Medina, Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass*,

8.    Stephanie Diaz, Extraction,

9.    *Matt de la Peña, The Living,

10. Diana Lopez, Ask My Mood Ring How I Feel,

11. Sandra Perez Gluschankoff, The Last Hernandez,

12. Torrey Maldonado, Secret Saturdays,

13. Claudia Guadalupe Martinez, Pig Park,

14. Liz de Jesus, First Frost,

*Pura Belpre Award Winners,
Happy Reading!  Happy Hispanic Heritage Month!



September 23, 2014


We continue to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.  This week we are giving away an ebook copy of THE CITY OF PALACES by Michael Nava.  Enter to win by leaving a comment below and/ or by posting our hashtag on Twitter, #amreadingwiththelatinabookclub.  Winner will be announced next Monday.  And, look for more prizes every week during this special month.

A man must live his life in service of something. Without a cause, existence is pointless.  Whatever the stupid Christians may believe, the real hell is a life without purpose or meaning. -- Rodrigo Sarmiento

THE CITY OF PALACES is the first book in a new series by this gifted writer.  It's beautiful written, with strong engaging characters, rich narrative and astounding imagery.  Michael Nava has written a majestic, sweeping saga of a family, of a country.  Readers will be intrigued and captivated by the many contrasts within -- beauty and scars, grandeur and squalor, civilization and barbarism.  There is so much in this novel about family, about government, about corruption, about freedom, about faith. This book is destined to become a classic.  And this reader is eagerly anticipating book two in the new year.

SUMMARY:   It is the dawn of the 20th century and Miguel Sarmiento is a handsome young doctor just returned from his studies in Europe with a small practice among the wealthy of Mexico.  He is courted by many beautiful women, yet it is the scarred solterona Doña Alicia Gavilán that captures his attention and his heart.  They are complete opposites -- he is a modern man and she is the youngest daughter of an aristocratic family.  They have nothing in common and yet with her, he is the man he always wanted to be.  Alicia has dedicated herself to the less fortunate.  Her generosity and selflessness teach Miguel to love his people, his country.  Jealous rivals call them Beauty and the Beast but their marriage and love thrive and produces a son.  Miguel becomes a Health Inspector and begins to help the poor and diseased.  Now he sees the real Mexico, a country of opposites -- the grandeur and the squalor, the civilized and the barbaric.  Meanwhile, Alicia continues her help of the indigenous Yaquis Indians by forming an underground railroad to help them escape slavery and extinction.  Reluctantly, Miguel is pulled into politics and suddenly finds himself in the middle of the newest revolution.  And as the country celebrates its centennial with promises of a new century, new politics, new democracy, civil war breaks and a new dictatorship is born.  And, the Sarmiento family will pay a heavy price for their loyalty and their freedom.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:   Michael Nava, a third-generation Californian of Mexican descent, and the grandson of immigrants, was born in Sacramento. He is a lawyer and a writer, best known for his Henry Rios mystery series about a gay Latino criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles.  Michael is now at work writing a new series about  the Mexican Revolution, the near-genocide of the Yaquis (indigenous Indians) and the rise of silent film.  THE CITY OF PALACES is the first book in his Children of Eve series.  To learn more about the series and this gifted writer, visit him at

September 22, 2014


We are celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with fun "Top 14" Lists.  Here is a list of New York's Leading Latino Authors.  How many do you know?  Feel free to add to our list by leaving a comment.  And, follow us on Twitter.  Our hashtag is #amreadingwiththelatinabookclub.

Matt de la Peña
1.       Esmeralda Santiago,

2.       Theresa Valera,

3.       Chris Campanioni,

4.       Manuel A. Melendez,

5.       Torrey Maldonado,
Theresa Varela

6.       Matt de la Peña,

7.       Dalhma Llanos-Figueroa,

8.       Sofia Quintero,

9.       Bobby Gonzalez,
10.   Karina Guardiola "Eleven" Lopez,
Torrey Maldonado

11.   Luis Jaramillo,

12.   Yadhira "Yadhy" Gonzalez-Taylor,

13.   Raquel Penzo,

14.   Daisy Martinez,



September 15, 2014


Today is the start of Hispanic Heritage Month.  In celebration, The Latina Book Club will give one lucky reader a free e-book copy of THE AMADO WOMEN, our Book of the Week.  Enter to win by leaving a comment below or by posting this hashtag on Twitter, #amreadingwithTheLatinaBookClub.  It's a mouthful; we know.  Winner will be announced next Monday.  And, look for more prizes every week during this special month.

Cinco Puntos Press
Happiness is a decision.  You simply cast aside that which you are tired of looking at, weary of battling, unable to accept and focus on that which remains.  --Mercy Amado, matriarch

Stunning, original, beautiful, mesmerizing.

I love that this novel is about gutsy Latina women, and better yet, gutsy Latina sisters.   They fight and argue like sisters will do, but pick on one and you are facing all three!  And that fire, that passion is what makes Zamorano's debut novel such a success.

THE AMADO WOMEN is all about family and sisterhood. It's full of hopes and dreams, despair and triumph.  It's a fast-paced, emotionally-packed tale that will captivate readers from the start. It did me.

SUMMARY:  Mercy Amado was married to a lazy bum who drank away his paycheck.  She got smart, went to school and became a teacher. She divorced her husband and raised her girls to be strong, independent Latina women. But children never turn out exactly as parents plan. Celeste, the oldest, is obsessed with her career and becoming estranged from the family. Sylvia, the middle child, is married with two children and hiding a painful secret.  Nataly, the baby, is an artist who can never finish what she starts. Time and distance separate the sisters, but when tragedy strikes, these women will band together out of love and will fight to protect their own.###

ABOUTH THE AUTHOR:  Désirée Zamorano is a playwright, Pushcart Prize nominee for fiction, and the director of the Community Literacy Center at Occidental College.  She also collaborates with InsideOut Writers, a program that works with formerly incarcerated youth. She lives in Pasadena, CA.  Visit her at

Reminder:  Check in with us next Monday and see if you won a copy of THE AMADO WOMEN.  Good luck!

September 8, 2014


There are so many good, memorable, inspiring memoirs that it was difficult to choose only 14.  Please feel free to add your favorites to this list.---mcf

1)      RITA MORENO: A MEMOIR by Rita Moreno


3)      TAKE THIS MAN: A MEMOIR by Brando Skyhorse

4)      A CUP OF WATER UNDER MY BED by Daisy Hernandez


6)      THE CLOSER by Mariano Rivera

8)      WHEN I WAS PUERTO RICAN by Esmeralda Santiago

9)      DOWN THESE MEAN STREETS by Piri Thomas

11)   MY BELOVED WORLD by Sonia Sotomayor


13)   THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US by Reyna Grande

14)   CRAZY LOCO LOVE: A MEMOIR by Victor Villaseñor

September 4, 2014

MEMOIR WEEK: RITA MORENO: A Memoir by Rita Moreno

It's Memoir Week here at The Latina Book Club. Do let us know which memoirs/biographies you would add to our list. Happy Reading.

“She looks like a Spanish Elizabeth Taylor.”
                             -- Louis B. Mayer of MGM  

Woman.  Actress.  Legend.

Rita Moreno’s memoir is fascinating and full of juicy details.  She has written a vivid tell-all book about her childhood in Puerto Rico, her move to El Barrio in New York and her rising star during Hollywood’s Golden Age. 

She tells us about her discovery by Louis B. Mayer, dancing with Gene Kelly and acting with Gary Cooper and Yul Brynner.  Rita is frank about the racial and sexual discrimination in the film industry, and about her many lovers, including Elvis Presley and “bad boy” Marlon Brando.   

Best known for her iconic role as Maria in West Side Story, Rita soon found she couldn’t get any roles where she was not playing the spitfire Latina.  But despite the self-doubts and the doors slamming in her face, Rita persevere and slowly conquered not only Hollywood but Broadway as well. 

Rita is one of the few performers—and the only Hispanic!—to win an Oscar, Grammy, Tony and two Emmys. 

Readers will be captivated by this inside look into the life and loves of an amazing woman, who continues to mesmerize us with her wit and talent.###

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Rita Moreno is one of the few artists to win an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony. She has also received a Golden Globe Award and a National Medal of Honor. She recently concluded a sold-out run of her one-woman show, Life Without Makeup, at the Berkeley Repertory Theater in Berkeley, California, and regularly appears in the television show, Happily Divorced.  Visit her at

September 3, 2014

MEMOIR WEEK: HANDBOOK FOR AN UNPREDICTABLE LIFE: How I Survived Sister Renata and My Crazy Mother, and Still Came Out Smiling (with Great Hair) by Rosie Perez

It's Memoir Week here at The Latina Book Club. Do let us know which memoirs/biographies you would add to our list. Happy Reading.

And join us in congratulating Rosie on joining ABC's The View!

Rosie Perez is best known for her accent, her hair and her humor.  She is also a well-known actress, dancer, choreographer, director and activist.  Her humor is her trademark so it comes as a shock to learn that this wonderful funny woman can laugh after enduring such a cruel childhood. 

In her HANDBOOK FOR AN UNPREDICTABLE LIFE, Rosie opens a vein and let us into her life – the good, the bad and the very ugly.  From her days in a Brooklyn foster home to being abandoned by her crazy mother to being shuffled among relatives to being discovered by Spike Lee to dancing on Soul Train (How I envy her!) to choreographing for Janet Jackson and Bobby Brown to working with Jennifer Lopez and the Fly Girls to being nominated for an Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for her role in Fearless.

Readers will be amazed at Rosie’s bravery, courage and strength as she survives against tremendous odds both at home and in Hollywood.  And, they will rejoice as Rosie comes to terms with her past and makes a grand life for herself.

Rosie is the first to admit that her childhood was a nightmare, and that having to write about it was difficult, which was why it took her 18 months to finish.  But her tale had to be told, and hopefully other children/teens/adults who have also been abused will also find the power within to survive and thrive. ###

Check out Rosie’s interview with On Purpose Magazine, by clicking here.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Rosie Perez is a Puerto Rican Oscar-nominated actress, whose credits include Do the Right Thing, White Men Can't Jump, Fearless, and The Counselor. She is the Artistic Chair of Urban Arts Partnership and sits on the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS.

September 2, 2014



It's Memoir Week here at The Latina Book Club.  Do let us know which memoirs/biographies you would add to our list. Happy Reading.

Simon & Schuster
"At least it's never boring." --Mami's favorite saying
Brando Skyhorse's memoir is at times funny, poignant and simply outrageous. Imagine growing up thinking you are an American Indian -- Mami's good intentions aside! -- and  then learning that your whole life was a lie, that you are really a Mexican.  TAKE THIS MAN is Skyhorse's search for his true identity and his real father.
BOOK SUMMARY:   When he was three years old, Brando Kelly Ulloa was abandoned by his Mexican father. His mother, Maria, dreaming of a more exciting life, saw no reason for her son to live his life as a Mexican just because he started out as one. The life of “Brando Skyhorse,” the American Indian son of an incarcerated political activist, was about to begin.
Through a series of letters to Paul Skyhorse Johnson, a stranger in prison for armed robbery, Maria reinvents herself and her young son as American Indians in the colorful Mexican-American neighborhood of Echo Park, California. There Brando and his mother live with his acerbic grandmother and a rotating cast of surrogate fathers. It will be over thirty years before Brando begins to untangle the truth of his own past, when a surprise discovery online leads him to his biological father at last.#

To read The Latina Book Club's review of THE MADONNAS OF ECHO PARK, click here.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Brando Skyhorse’s debut novel, THE MADONNAS OF ECHO PARK, received the 2011 PEN/Hemingway Award and the Sue Kaufman Award for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The book was also a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers pick. He has been awarded fellowships at Ucross and Can Serrat, Spain. Skyhorse is a graduate of Stanford University and the MFA Writers’ Workshop program at UC Irvine. He is the 2014 Jenny McKean Moore Writer-In-Washington at George Washington University. Visit him at

September 1, 2014

MEMOIR WEEK: A CUP OF WATER UNDER MY BED by Daisy Hernandez (incl NYC appearances)

It's Memoir Week here at The Latina Book Club. Do let us know which memoirs/biographies you would add to our list. Happy Reading.

Beacon Press
The road before me is English and the next part too awful to ask aloud or even silently: what is so wrong with my parents that I am not to mimic their hands, their needs, not even their words?

A CUP OF WATER UNDER MY BED is a coming-of-age memoir told in vignettes and familial anecdotes.  It's a story about family and tradition, about exploring the world and one's sexuality, about living your life your way.

SUMMARY:  Daisy Hernández chronicles what the women in her Cuban-Colombian family taught her about love, money, and race. Her mother warns her about envidia and men who seduce you with pastries, while one tía bemoans that her niece is turning out to be “una india” instead of an American. Another auntie instructs that when two people are close, they are bound to become like uña y mugre, fingernails and dirt, and that no, Daisy’s father is not godless. He’s simply praying to a candy dish that can be traced back to Africa. 

These lessons—rooted in women’s experiences of migration, colonization, y cariño—define in evocative detail what it means to grow up female in an immigrant home. In one story, Daisy sets out to defy the dictates of race and class that preoccupy her mother and tías, but dating women and transmen, and coming to identify as bisexual, leads her to unexpected questions. In another piece, NAFTA shuts local factories in her hometown on the outskirts of New York City, and she begins translating unemployment forms for her parents, moving between English and Spanish, as well as private and collective fears. In prose that is both memoir and commentary, Daisy reflects on reporting for the New York Times as the paper is rocked by the biggest plagiarism scandal in its history and plunged into debates about the role of race in the newsroom.

A heartfelt exploration of family, identity, and language, A CUP OF WATER UNDER MY BED is ultimately a daughter’s story of finding herself and her community, and of creating a new, queer life.#

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:   Daisy Hernández grew up in Fairview, New Jersey in a Cuban-Colombian family. She's worked at the New York Times, Jenny Craigs, McDonald's, and ColorLines magazine (though not in that order) and has made home in Virginia, Florida, California, England, and the Upper East Side (though again not in that order). She is the author of "A Cup of Water Under My Bed: A Memoir" (Beacon Press, 2014) and coeditor of the anthology "Colonize This! Young Women of Color on Today's Feminism" (Seal Press, 2002). Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, the National Catholic Reporter, bitch magazine, Ms. magazine, the Christian Science Monitor, Fourth Genre, and Bellingham Review. A former editor of ColorLines magazine, she has an MFA in fiction from the University of Miami and an MA in Latin American Studies and Journalism from New York University.  Visit Daisy at

NYC BOOK TOUR:  Daisy Hernandez will be at La Casa Azul Bookstore on September 26 and will be one of the presenters at the 3rd Annual Comadres Latino Writers Conference on September 27.  For locations, visit or