Sunday, August 31, 2014

Shout Out to Indies - Esperanza: A Latino Story by Sandra Lopez AND Six Strings by Jennifer Sanya Willliamson



We here at The Paperback Princesses often receive emails from Indie authors requesting reviews and are blessed with free book copies. Often we are unable to get to so many titles before our mass market published books take over our TBR shelves. That doesn't mean there aren't plenty of great reads though! We want to give back to those Indie authors and are declaring EVERY SECOND SUNDAY our SHOUT OUT TO INDIES MEME. For those of fellow bloggers, please feel free to add our meme to your regular schedule. We only ask that you quote and link back to us as a courtesy. For all of you Indie authors, we invite you to contact us at the contact link to your top left. We will select 1 - 3 titles (each time we post) that sound interesting. Lastly, for you readers, this is a bit of a test so please do comment and let us know what you think. We will also be offering up giveaway copies whenever we can! So without further ado, here are this week's pick:

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Fourteen-year old Esperanza Ignacio could only think of a few words to sum up her life: crap, crap, crap! She was born into a poor Latino family living in a small crummy apartment in the barrio side of town, 
where the graffiti chiseled more the souls and character of the residents than it impacted the exterior 
looks of the buildings. Her father was a drunken, gambler, and wife-beater who, one cold night, got 
arrested after a violent intrusion. Her entire circle of relatives consisted of nothing but formers-former 
drug-addicts, former gangsters and gang-bangers, former alcoholics, former everything. Yep, her life was 
nothing but a huge load of crap. And she hadn't even started high school yet. After surviving a scorching 
summer heat, Esperanza enters the unfamiliar world of high-school with a tight knot in her stomach. On 
the very first day, she is sucked into a blunder of catastrophic events beginning with accidentally running 
into the world's BIGGEST bully. Now, she has made herself the prime target for a main course. And, to 
top it all off, she has to see this girl everyday in P.E! P.E.-the one class Esperanza truly despises the most. 
Could life be any worse for her? Well, her family could take in a relative hopped up on drugs, a probable 
shooting can take place right in front of her, and Esperanza could also sit and listen to the crazed ranting 
of her loud psychotic mother. Oh, wait, all that does happen. To make things even easier, her best friend, 
Carla, won't stop trying to marry her off to her twin brother, Carlos. And she has these two puny siblings 
constantly vying for her attention. God, it's a wonder she doesn't strap herself in a straight jacket and 
pretend to be Elvis. Nonetheless, Esperanza attempts to get through it all. She is a smart and ambitious 
young kid struggling to survive her life while fighting to make her mark on the world. Her story is filled 
with pain, strength, and too much loud bickering. It carries a voice enriched with barrio slang and 
sarcastic humor. Esperanza illustrates what persistent Latino youth can achieve when they get back up 
after a fall and keep on walking straight into college.

Why I chose to write YA

I started writing Esperanza right after graduating high school when I still possessed that “raw, teenage voice” that my publisher loved so much. I remember thinking how I never read anything with a Latino theme. Heck, at that time, I never heard of Latino writers such as Sandra Cisneros or Luis Rodriguez. And so that is why I decided to create a character named Esperanza—one who was not an illegal immigrant or a gang member, but just somebody who wanted to go to school, learn everything humanly possible, and learn to survive in this heart-breaking world. I merely wanted to create a character that was just like me: shy, quiet, smart, and a fervent reader. 

Growing up in a poor barrio with a single mother and two young siblings, it was tough avoiding the influential behaviors of the other kids. I didn’t want to end up pregnant or succumb to alcohol and drugs; I wanted to make something of my life. And that’s what Esperanza wants to do. Since the publication, many readers have been inspired by Esperanza’s tenacity and resilience. She has become a magnificent role model for YA audiences. But why do I write YA? Well, I simply wrote the novel that I, myself, would’ve LOVED to have read when I was young—a story with a strong Latina that 
fought against the odds.

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Born and raised in Hawaiian Gardens, CA, Sandra C. López is one of today's influential Latina authors in Young Adult literature. Her first novel, Esperanza: A Latina Story, was published in March 2008 WHILEshe was still in college. Shortly after that, she wrote the follow up title, Beyond the Gardens, starring her inspirational heroine. Now, this young writer is a full graduate of Cal State University Fullerton with a BFA in the arts. She was named as one of "2011 Top Ten New Latino Authors to Watch" by Latino Stories. For more information, log on to www.sandra-lopez.comLike her on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sandra-Lopez/173657042664609

And our second book this week is: 

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Riley Witt is running out of time.

Battling Alzheimer’s disease, Riley’s grandmother Mary suffers from memory loss, mood swings, and a tendency to wander off. When she moves in the summer before senior year, Riley has to face the reality that the one person she depends on most is slowly fading. Making matters worse, when Mary does remember the past, she tells tales of time travel and visions. As Mary’s version of the past gets more confused, Riley knows they are running out of time together.

But when Riley discovers a guitar belonging to a famous rock star in the back of her grandmother’s closet, the truth behind Mary’s tales finally comes out.
First, Riley learns that her dad is not her real dad. Her real father is the late music legend, Jonah Wolff. This revelation is almost more than Riley can handle. But then an even bigger secret is revealed.

Riley is also a sixth generation time traveler. She has the power to open six portals to the past, lines to her own life, which will answer questions she never thought to ask, and influence her future in the most unexpected ways.

SIX STRINGS tells the story of Riley’s first leap—the leap back to 1973—where she enters a world of music, long-lost family, and first love. Her adventure is all about discovering her past, understanding her present, and figuring out how to step into her future.

Why I Write for Young Adults
By Jen Sanya Williamson

            When I tell people what I do for my day job—teach English to junior high students—I am usually greeted with a look of sympathy or a joke about what I must have done in a former life to receive such a punishment. I take it in stride; in fact, I often feel I’m in on an inside joke. See, what a lot of people don’t know is junior high kids are awesome.
            Sure, they are emotional basket cases at times. Hormones are raging. They often see things in black and white, so trying to reason with them can be a task. They’re immature, they have short attention spans, and getting them to read for pleasure is often my biggest challenge each year.
            But, the positives of hanging out with teenagers all day outweigh any negatives. What I’ve learned from being a teacher is that junior high students are funny, thoughtful, and when they believe in something they often do so earnestly. I’ve had amazing conversations with my students, conversations that have changed my perceptions and helped me understand why this is such an important time in their lives.
            Before becoming a teacher seven years ago, I never thought I would write young adult literature. In fact, I imagined myself as a 21st Century Raymond Carver, perfecting the art of the short story, uncovering the quiet moments in life through my writing. But spending time with my students—reading what they read, trying to understand what they need from literature—has changed me. It has changed my writing. I now write for them.
            I believe that every student can find a book to love while in my class. Not just a book that’s “all right,” but a book that affects them, a book they’ll remember years from now. There’s a lot working against us: Facebook, Instagram, texting, reality TV, boy drama, girl drama, chores, babysitting, sports. These kids are busy. I know that reading is something they should fit into their schedules. I know that reading literature will help them do better in all of their classes. I know that a book will teach them about things they can barely imagine, take them places they only dream of, and help them see that they are not alone in this world, that what they feel are the same things teens have been feeling for the last hundred years. But, convincing them of this isn’t always so easy. Matching kids with books has become my mission.
            I write for young adults because I want as many books as possible available to my students and all teenagers. I want them to read about characters who are like them; kids who try to fit the world into their black and white views, kids who worry about their families and friends, kids who try hard to be good even when they don’t know how to be. I strive to write about the world my students live in as realistically as possible, even when my heroine Riley is traveling back in time. I want her relationships to be real, the conversations she has to be authentic, and her reactions to the events in her life to make the reader think, “Yeah, that’s what I would do.” I know my kids deserve good literature.
            This is such an exciting time for young adult fiction. Amazing writers like Walter Dean Myers, John Green, Sharon Draper, Sarah Dessen, and Ellen Hopkins have challenged young readers to think and care about books. There’s so much good writing out there, and there’s good librarians and teachers helping students get their hands on it. I want to contribute any way I can. I write for young minds, young voices. I write for my students.

Author Bio:

Jen Sanya Williamson is a graduate of the University of Arizona where she received a BA in creative writing. She spends most of her time with her junior high students, teaching and talking books. When not in a classroom, Jen is writing, watching TV shows from the ‘90s, or cheering on the Wildcats with her husband and children in her adopted hometown of Tucson, Arizona.

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