Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Interview with Monica Gomez-Hira, author of Once Upon a Quinceañera

Hi everyone! I've been pretty busy moving out but we are very happy in our new home. It has been a difficult but beautiful process. And guess what? My books are still inside a lot of boxes. But, today I have the pleasure to share with you an interview with Monica Gomez-Hira, the author of Once Upon a Quinceañera. This is Gomez' first book! It was officially out to the world yesterday, but today we are still celebrating the book birthday!
Synopsis

Carmen Aguilar just wants to make her happily ever after come true. Except apparently “happily ever after” for Carmen involves being stuck in an unpaid summer internship! All she has to do is perform! In a ball gown! During the summer. In Miami.

Fine. Except that Carmen’s company is hired for her spoiled cousin Ariana’s over the top quinceañera.

And of course, her new dance partner at work is none other than Mauro Reyes, Carmen’s most deeply regrettable ex.

If Carmen is going to move into the future she wants, she needs to leave the past behind. And if she can manage dancing in the blistering heat, fending off Mauro’s texts, and stopping Ariana from ruining her own quinceañera Carmen might just get that happily ever after after all.

If this book sounds like something you would enjoy, be sure to add it to you TBR!
Monica Gomez-Hira's interview
Photo by Nicole Lamkin

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Hi! My name is Monica Gomez-Hira, and Once Upon a Quinceañera is my debut novel. I’m a first generation Colombian-American who grew up in North Bergen, NJ, went to college outside of Boston, then moved to Austin, Chicago, and Los Angeles before making my home in Minneapolis. I live here with my husband and daughter.

 

How was the creative process behind Once Upon a Quinceañera? Where did the idea come from? How long did it take you to write it? 

I think I’ve had the idea for Quince germinating for a long time—ever since I attended some very elaborate quinceañeras thrown by family friends.  I was fascinated by this very specific Latin coming of age experience, and I knew that I’d write about it someday. Eventually, I started to get glimmers of the characters and then I knew that I could officially start.

I’m a pantser, which means I write by the seat of my pants and don’t outline in advance, so the drafting process was messy and a bit chaotic, but eventually after a few years of stopping and starting, I had a full draft. And then the REAL work of rewriting started!


Besides Carmen, who is your favorite character and why?

I loved writing Mirella! I love her frank voice, her humor, and her sass. She is an homage to so many of the outspoken, larger than life Latinas I grew up around. I try to channel her swagger when I’m feeling exceptionally nervous about things (to varying degrees of success!) She deserves her own book, as she would be the first one to tell you!

 

Quinceañeras are important for some Latinxs. Why did you decide to include it as part of the title and story?

Quinceañeras, past and present, were very important to the characters in my book, and really shaped their history and their relationships with each other. It’s not just one night of a coming-of-age, but something that tied them to their family history and culture.  Once Upon a Quinceañera suggests that the parties are to some extent just the beginning  of the story. It also captures the fairy tale elements of the book as well, since Carmen and Mauro work as Beauty and the Beast for a party princess company.


Since we are talking about Latinx, what can you tell us about the importance of representation in books?

I think representation is VERY important in books. I was a big reader as a kid, and I think I was searching for myself in every story.  I loved connecting myself to my favorite characters, and learned so much through that. But none of the main characters in the books I loved ever quite looked like me, or sounded like me and the people around me. So I wanted to write something that really celebrated our specific experiences and voices, even as it also connects to the universal feeling of growing up and falling in love for the first time.


I know this is probably too early to ask but, are you working on another book? If so, what can you tell us about it?

I am working on my second book! The story is still very much in flux, but I can share that it’s going to be another YA contemporary romance starring Latinx teenagers, set in Miami. 


And just for fun, tell us 5 random facts about you.

1) I am a lipstick FIEND and probably have over 200 at this point. So even with masks, I change up my color several time a day.

2) Spanish is actually my first language, and I learned English as a preschooler watching shows like Sesame Street and Electric Company—which is also how I learned to read!

3) I grew up obsessed with soap operas, and one of the highlights of my life was getting to attend the Daytime Emmys in 1996.

4) I didn’t get my driver’s license until I was 25 years old.

5) I’ve been with my husband since we were teenagers—I was 18 and he was 17. So...I really did end up with my YA romance! :)


Ok, this was so fun! Thank you so much for your time, Monica! It was a pleasure having you on my blog. Also, thanks to HarperCollins for giving me the opportunity to make this interview.


More about the author

Monica Gomez-Hira is the daughter of Colombian immigrant parents, the wife of an Indian immigrant, the mother of a half Latina/half Indian daughter, and the quintessential Jersey girl who loves her salsa as much as her Springsteen. After getting her BA in English at Wellesley College, Monica spent most of her professional life surrounded by books, and the people who love them. She began her career working for literary agencies, moved to publicity and editorial at Simon & Schuster and Random House, and most recently was a Children's Lead at Barnes & Noble. She lives with her family in Minneapolis, MN. Once Upon a Quinceañera is her first novel.


Sunday, January 31, 2021

#ReadLesMis2021 January update

Hi everyone! I know, I know... I've been MIA here on the blog. But I've been a little more active on Instagram. Well... kind of. Grad school is tough. And now, I'm teaching at the university, so I have more on my plate. Despite that, I'm still taking a little time for reading. So here's a short update on one of my current reads: Les Misérables by Victor Hugo. 
As you may already know, I started buddy reading this book with my friend Adriana. Then, a couple of friends decided to joined us and even some of We Read's followers. We got really excited! By the way, if you want to join us, you're still on time! Just be sure to download our check list (available in Word and PDF) and don't forget to use the hashtag 
#ReadLesMis2021 on social media when posting about it. 

Les Mis have 365 chapters, so we decided to read one chapter each day. Do you know what that means?! We just completed our first month! So far, we have met a lot of characters, including The Bishop, Jean Valjean, and Fantine; although, we are just barely starting to know a little bit about her in the last couple of chapters. 
As you can see in the first photo, I've been using post-it flags to mark quotes or important remarks as I'm reading. One of my favorite quotes is "The mind is a garden". I even made a canvas! Also, I asked Ann Jewelry Collection to make me a bookmark with the quote. 
I've got to say, I'm really enjoying this book (more than I thought I would)! Let's see how the rest of the book goes. For February's update, I'll tell you about my experience watching Les Misérables on Broadway, back in 2016. Oh, and my mom got me new plants! Here are the ones I named after some of Les Mis characters: Valjean, Éponine, Enjolras and Fantine.
Let me know if you are joining us on #ReadLesMis2021 or tell me what are you currently reading! Happy reading!

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¡Hola! Lo sé, lo sé... He estado desaparecida aquí en el blog. Pero he estado un poco más activa en Instagram. Bueno... algo así. El doctorado está fuerte. Y ahora, estoy ofreciendo una clase en la universidad, así que he estado más ocupada. A pesar de esto, todavía estoy tomando un poco de tiempo para leer. Así que aquí una breve actualización sobre una de mis lecturas actuales: Les Misérables de Victor Hugo.


Como ya sabrán, empecé a leer este libro con mi amiga Adriana. Luego, un par de amistades decidieron unirse a nosotras e incluso algunos de los seguidores de We Read. ¡Nos emocionamos mucho! Por cierto, si quieres unirte a nosotros, ¡todavía estás a tiempo! Solo asegúrate de descargar nuestro "check list" (disponible en Word y PDF) y no olviden usar el hashtag #ReadLesMis2021 en las redes sociales.


Les Mis tiene 365 capítulos, así que decidimos leer un capítulo cada día. ¡¿Sabes lo que significa eso?! ¡Completamos nuestro primer mes de lectura! Hasta ahora, hemos conocido a muchos personajes, incluyendo al obispo, Jean Valjean y Fantine; aunque apenas estamos empezando a saber un poco sobre ella en los últimos capítulos.


Como pueden ver en la primera foto, he estado usando banderitas post-it para marcar frases o situaciones importantes mientras leo. Una de mis frases favoritas es "La mente es un jardín". ¡Incluso hice un lienzo! Además, le pedí a Ann Jewelry Collection que me hiciera un marca páginas con la frase.


Tengo que decir que realmente estoy disfrutando de este libro (más de lo que pensé). Vamos a ver cómo me va con el resto. Para la actualización de febrero, les contaré sobre mi experiencia viendo Les Misérables en Broadway, en el 2016. ¡Ah, y mi mamá me trajo plantitas nuevas! Aquí pueden ver las que tienen los nombres de algunos de los personajes de Les Mis: Valjean, Éponine, Enjolras y Fantine.


Déjame saber si te unes a nosotros en #ReadLesMis2021 o dime qué estás leyendo actualmente. ¡Feliz lectura!


Friday, January 1, 2021

#ReadLesMis2021

Happy New Year! We wish you a happy 2021, filled with health, love, good decisions, and books. Have you started reading your first book of the year? My friend Adriana and I decided to read Les Misérables by Victor Hugo. 
This book have 365 chapters and we are going to be reading one chapter each day. So for us, 2021 is Les Mis year! Do you want to join us? All you have to do is download the check list I made with the dates and chapters (available in Word and PDF), and use the hashtag #ReadLesMis2021 whenever you are posting about the book in social media. That way, we'll be able to find everyones' posts. That's it! I'll be posting an update at the end of every month. 

Let us know if you have any questions. Happy reading!


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¡Feliz Año Nuevo! Te deseamos un feliz 2021, lleno de salud, amor, buenas decisiones y libros. ¿Ya comenzaste a leer tu primer libro del año? Mi amiga Adriana y yo decidimos leer Les Misérables por Victor Hugo.

Este libro tiene 365 capítulos y estaremos leyendo un capítulo cada día. ¡Así que para nosotras, el 2021 es el año de Les Mis! ¿Quieres unirte a nosotras en esta lectura? Todo lo que tienes que hacer es bajar el "check list" que hice con las fechas y los capítulos (disponible en Word y PDF), y usar el "hashtag" #ReadLesMis2021 cuando publiques sobre el libro en las redes sociales. De esta forma, podremos conseguir las publicaciones de los demás que estén leyéndolo. ¡Eso es todo! Estaré publicando una actualización al final de cada mes.

Déjanos saber si tienes alguna pregunta. ¡Feliz lectura!

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Our top 10 favorite books we read in 2020

Hey everyone! We hope you are doing well. This year, we had plenty of time to update our reading list-and we made the most of it. However, we cannot tell you all the books we read, because you wouldn’t finish reading this post. So, we narrowed down the list and will share our favorites. It was a bit difficult to choose just 5 books each, but here are our top 10:

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

This book is about the education of race, while giving you a push to have an open-minded conversation about our flawed social, economic, and political systems that puts minorities at a disadvantage. This book opens eyes of people who are not necessarily part of the black community, and therefore, fail to put themselves in their shoes. Here's my full review on the blog.

Vitrinas by Yasmarie Hernández

This book was intense. I wanted to read it all at once but at the same time, I couldn’t! It was so intriguing when reading about topics we all think of but no one dare speak of-of taboos, if you will. The author’s way with words is just incredible. Here’s my review in goodreads.

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

If you are looking for a book that motivates you to start a new positive habit, or a book that propels you to reach goals that scare you, or a book that guides you to avoid further procrastination - this book is for you. Here is my full review in goodreads.  

Los amores imparables by Marwan Abu-Tahoun Recio

I had high expectations for this book because of all the amazing reviews it had. However, I wanted to judge it for myself. I agreed with every single positive review I read. This book does have all the potential to make you fall in love again-not necessarily with a person, but maybe with the text this book contains. Here’s my full review in goodreads.

Micropoemas 3 by Ajo

I love micropoems because just by using a few words, you can tell a world of ideas - and this book was not the exception. Here’s my full review in goodreads.

You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria

This is the first book I’ve read by Alexis Daria and I definitely want to read more! I got some Jane the Virgin vibes while reading this. Inclusive language was all over the book and I really enjoyed that. The sex scenes were pure fire! Here’s my review in goodreads.

Sildarus by Sarah Rubí

This is one of those books that I wish I could erase from my mind so I can read it again for the first time. I love it so much! Sildarus is filled with art, nature and psychological aspects. I couldn’t put it down! Here’s my review in goodreads.

Blazewrath Games by Amparo Ortiz

Seeing a Puerto Rican main character in a book made my whole year! This book is pure magic and I love it! I admire Amparo Ortiz because her writing style is so SO good. The details in every page were gracefully crafted. You can check out my full review (and interview) on the blog.

Each of Us a Desert by Mark Oshiro

The author takes you to a journey through a desert and self-discovery. One of the things I love the most about this book is the poetry. Each of Us a Desert was a rollercoaster of emotions. You can check out my full review on the blog.

The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa

I don't even know where to start! Mia Sosa's writing style and sense of humor is amazeballs! I enjoyed the POV and the characters, especially Max. You can check out my full review on the blog.


Are any of these books on your top favorites? Share with us your top 5 reads of 2020!

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Andrea Carolina's social media:

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Nuestros 10 libros favoritos del 2020


¡Hola! Esperamos que estén súper bien. Este año tuvimos tiempo para actualizar nuestro “reading list”-y nosotras lo aprovechamos al máximo. Sin embargo, no le podemos decir tooodos los libros que leímos, porque lo más probable no terminarán de leer la publicación. Así que redujimos la lista y compartiremos nuestros favoritos. Fue un poco difícil escoger solo 5 libros cada una, pero aquí nuestro top 10: 


So You Want to Talk About Race por Ijeoma Oluo

Este libro trata sobre la educación de la raza, mientras que le da un impulso para tener una conversación de mente abierta sobre nuestros sistemas sociales, económicos y políticos defectuosos que ponen a las minorías en desventaja. Este libro abre los ojos a personas que no son necesariamente parte de la comunidad negra y, por lo tanto, no se ponen en su lugar. Aquí mi reseña completa en el blog.


Vitrinas por Yasmarie Hernández

Este libro fue intenso. Quería leerlo todo a la vez, pero, ¡no pude! Fue tan intrigante leer de temas en los que todos pensamos pero de los que nadie se atreve a hablar, de tabúes, por así decirlo. La forma de escribir de la autora es simplemente increíble. Aquí está mi reseña en goodreads.


The War of Art por Steven Pressfield

Si estás en busca de un libro que te motive para comenzar un nuevo hábito positivo, o un libro que te impulse a intentar las metas que te causan miedo, o un libro que te guíe para evitar seguir procrastinando-este libro es para ti. Aquí mi reseña completa en goodreads


Los amores imparables por Marwan

Tenía grandes expectativas para este libro debido a todas las reseñas positivas que tenía. Sin embargo, quería juzgarlo por mí mismo. Estuve de acuerdo con cada reseña positiva que leí. Este libro tiene todo el potencial para enamorarte de nuevo, no necesariamente de una persona, pero tal vez del texto que contiene. Aquí mi reseña completa en goodreads


Micropoemas 3 por Ajo

A mi me encantan los micropoemas porque con tan solo utilizar pocas palabras, puedes decir un mundo de ideas-y este libro no fue la excepción. Aquí mi reseña en goodreads.


You Had Me at Hola por Alexis Daria

Este es el primer libro que leo que Alexis Daria y definitivamente, ¡quiero leer los demás! Mientras estaba leyendo este libro, sentí unos “vibes” como de Jane the Virgin. El lenguaje inclusivo estuvo presente en todo el libro y me gustó ese detalle. ¡Las escenas sexuales fueron puro fuego! Puedes leer mi reseña en goodreads.


Sildarus por Sarah Rubí

Este es uno de esos libros que quisiera olvidar haber leído, para volver a sentir la emoción de leerlo por primera vez. ¡Lo amé tanto! Sildarus está lleno de arte, naturaleza y aspectos psicológicos. ¡No lo podía soltar! Puedes leer mi reseña en goodreads.


Blazewrath Games por Amparo Ortiz

Ver una puertorriqueña como personaje principal me hizo el año. ¡Este libro es pura magia y lo amé! Admiro a Amparo Ortiz porque su estilo de escritura es muy bueno. Los detalles en cada página fueron elaborados de una forma súper elegante. Puedes leer mi reseña completa (y entrevista) en el blog.


Each of Us a Desert por Mark Oshiro

Mark Oshiro te lleva en un viaje a través de un desierto y autodescubrimiento. Una de las cosas que más disfruté en este libro fueron los poemas. Each of Us a Desert fue una montaña rusa de emociones. Puedes leer mi reseña completa en el blog.


The Worst Best Man por Mia Sosa

¡No sé ni por dónde comenzar! El estilo de escritura y el sentido del humor de Mia Sosa es increíble. Disfruté mucho los distintos puntos de vista en la historia y los personajes, especialmente Max. Puedes leer mi reseña completa en el blog.


¿Alguno de estos libros está en tu lista de favoritos? ¡Comparte con nosotras tus top 5 lecturas del 2020!

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