National Hispanic Heritage Month – Alisa Valdes


Alisa Valdes | Goodreads

This post is part of a feature at Jorie’s Reads by Starry Night Elf called “Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month.”

It was a happy accident when I came across an audiobook version of Alisa Valdes (formerly Valdes-Rodriguez) Haters. This book had great characters, good story, and a strong moral. The cover of this book touted her as the author of The Dirty Girls Social ClubOf course, I had to read that one as well!  Again, these characters were so clearly defined by Valdes that I felt they were sitting in the room with me.

Goodreads states:

Alisa Valdes is a NY Times and USA Today bestselling author of women’s fiction, young adult fiction, and memoir, including The Dirty Girls Social Club. She has a master’s in journalism from Columbia University and spent ten years as a staff writer for the Boston Globe and LA Times before becoming an author. She lives in New Mexico with her family and pets and wishes the calories you ate when no one was watching didn’t count.

Another thing I’d be remiss in not mentioning is how Valdes manages to bring together diverse female characters. This especially comes through in her books about the Dirty Girls (Las Sucias) – six successful Latin American women who met and bonded while students at Boston University. There’s been much talk of getting Las Sucias on film.

For more on Alisa Valdes, check out her website by clicking here.

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Siobhan Vivian’s The List


The List by Siobhan Vivian | LibraryThing

Vivian, S. (2012). The list. New York: PUSH. 9780545169172

Reasons for Reading: When perusing other bloggers’ Top Ten Tuesday lists, I stumbled upon Siobhan Vivian’s The List. The conflict described appealed to me so much that I sought the title at my library. When I found the book online, I requested in via HCPL.

Summary: Every year, some anonymous soul posts The List all over Mount Washington High during Homecoming Week. The List shares the names of eight girls, two from each grade – the prettiest and the ugliest. As the summary inside the book says:

ABBY’S joy at being named to the list is clouded by her sister’s resentment.

DANIELLE worries about how her boyfriend will take the news.

LAUREN is a homeschooled girl blindsided by her instant popularity.

CANDACE isn’t ugly, not even close, so it must be a mistake.

BRIDGET knows her summer transformation is nothing to celebrate.

SARAH has always rebelled against traditional standards of beauty, and she decides to take her mutiny to the next level.

And MARGO and JENNIFER, ex-best friends who haven’t spoken in years, are forced to confront why their relationship ended.

These eight girls struggle throughout the book, confronting their social stature as defined in print in eight different ways. While written in third person, the reader becomes privy to the thoughts of these eight girls.

What I Liked: The mystery of who was posting The List compelled me to read this so quickly I nearly suffered paper cuts. While I figured out the culprit well before I hit the back cover, I wanted to know the motives. Author Vivian formed intriguing characters and dealt with true issues such as: popularity, bullying, eating disorders, and self-esteem. I cared about some of these girls, especially Lauren and Danielle.

What I Disliked: The ending (which will remain unspoiled by this reviewer) left me dissatisfied. I wondered if this was the birth of the series as there were some thread left looser than I would’ve desired. Also, eight different characters was at least four too many characters in my opinion. The author could’ve pleased me by focusing on the story of ex-best friends Margo and Jennifer. Lastly, I sure didn’t like most of the parents featured in this book. Dishonorable mention goes to Abby’s parents, Lauren’s mother, and Candace’s mother.

Three Out of Five Pearls

Song: Maroon 5 – She Will Be Loved – YouTube

Setting: United States

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For more on The List check out the following sites:

Alisa Valdes’ Lauren’s Saints of Dirty Faith


Jorie’s Store – Lauren’s Saints of Dirty Faith: A Dirty Girls Social Club Novel

Valdes, A. (2004). Playing with boys. New York: St. Martin’s Press. 9780312332341

Reasons for Reading: When I found the existence of another book about las sucias, I quickly searched the library catalog for Lauren’s saints of dirty faith: A Dirty Girls Social Club novel.  Ultimately, I requested the bookthrough Inter-Library Loan (ILL).

Summary: The third installment of the Dirty Girls Social Club series by Alisa Valdes (formerly Valdes – Rodriguez) shares the latest adventures of three of las sucias – newspaper columnist Lauren Fernandez, ghetto-fabulous Usnavys Rivera, and media mogul Rebecca Baca. Lauren finds herself running away from her lunatic ex-boyfriend, a Boston cop with the help of Usnavys and Rebecca. Laid off, Usnavys must back up and start doing things differently. Rebecca learns of her father’s “other family” and struggles in her relationships with her soul mate husband, Andre, and her son who has Autism.

What I Liked :  I liked las sucias. Also, I did think it was good to read about just three of the ladies as opposed to the entire six. It was especially good to see Usnavys mature. 

What I Disliked : While I admire Valdes for taking matters into her own hands and publishing this book independently, I wish sh had caught numerous spelling/grammar errors. Editing should’ve also caught a time that Rebecca’s son was referred to as a daughter/girl.

I admit I’m not much for reading introductions. I should’ve read where Valdes said she tried on Dean Koontz’s style on for size. Oh, I wished I’d skipped ALL the sections about Jason, Lauren’s psycho ex.

Lastly, I realized that while I read this installment, that my favorite sucia was Sara.

Two Out of Five Pearls

Song: Stone Temple Pilots – Plush (Video) – YouTube

Setting: Boston, New Mexico

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For more on Alisa Valdes’ Lauren’s Saints of Dirty Faith, check out the following sites:
 

Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez’s Playing with Boys


Playing with Boys: A Novel by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez | LibraryThing

Valdes, A. (2004). Playing with boys. New York: St. Martin’s Press. 9780312332341

Reasons for Reading : As I liked the previous three books I’d read by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez, I requested Playing with Boys via HCPL.

Summary:. Talent agent Alexis hails from Texas and strives to make a name for herself. Gorgeous starlet Marcella’s smart mouth  has often cost her jobs. Screenwriter Olivia barely keeps up with her toddler son. They all have issues with guys as well as launching their careers. Yet, when these three radically different Latinas meet serendipitously in Los Angeles, they see that they can collaborate and rise to the top.

What I Liked :  I enjoyed catching glimpses of some of the sucias from The Dirty Girls Social Club books.Just having three main characters was good. Valdes-Rodriguez created compelling characters. I especially liked Alexis as she seemed to want the best for everyone and she used her talents for the greater good. I rooted for her to thrive.

What I Disliked : On the other hand, I couldn’t ever appreciate Marcella. I found myself scanning quickly through the sections she narrated. Also, I didn’t like that anyone who wasn’t one of three main characters had a section. I feel that Valdes-Rodriguez could’ve didn’t really have to move outside this group of friends for a point of view.

Two Out of Five Pearls

Song: Christina Milian – Us Against The World – YouTube

Setting : Los Angeles

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For more on Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez’s Playing with Boys, check out the following sites:

Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez’s The Dirty Girls Social Club


The Dirty Girls Social Club: A Novel by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez | LibraryThing

Valdes, A. (2003). The Dirty Girls Social Club. New York: St. Martin’s Press. 9780312313814

 Reasons for Reading : In April, I enjoyed Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez’s Haters. Also, I have been reading more chick  lit lately.  So, I checked out The Dirty Girls Social Club.

 Summary: Six women meet at Boston University. While completely different in looks and personality, they are the only women of Latin descent in the Communications Department. Thus, the six form a strong bond and call their group the Buena Vista Sucia Club also known as The Dirty Girls Social Club. At the beginning of the book, the sucias have been out of college for a few years. They meet each other every six months, rain or shine. These ladies have their ups and downs but always support their sucias. The Dirty Girls Social Club is narrated in the first person, each shedding light on her own life. The sucias are:

 –Lauren, the “caliente” columnist for the local Boston paper whose love live has recently led her to her boyfriend’s closet…to catch him in the act with someone else
–Sara, the perfect wife and mother who’s got it all but who is paying a high price
–Amber, raised a Valley girl without a word of Spanish but who is becoming a huge rock en Español star
–Elizabeth, the stunning black Latina whose TV anchor job conflicts with her intensely private personal life
–Rebecca, hyper-in-command in the world of her glossy magazine, Ella, but totally at sea when it comes to men
–Usnavys, fabulous and larger than life, whose agenda to land the kind of man who can keep her in Manolos almost prevents her finding true love

– From the flap

What I Liked : While brought together by the narrow-mindedness of others, the sucias rise above and show such a devotion to one another that some can only dream of. They’re far from perfect and do ill-advised things but these women are definitely compelling and believable. I felt I could see Lauren, Sara, Amber, Rebecca, Elizabeth, and even Usnavys on the street and in my life. I even visualized some of their faces as those of my friends. I also liked how these women were diverse – Lauren (part-Cuban, part-white  trash), Sara (Cuban Jew), Amber (Valley Girl of Mexican descent), Rebecca (New Mexican Spanish), Elizabeth (Colombian), and Usnavys (Puerto Rican). I also liked how each section was prefaced by passages from Lauren’s column in a Boston newspaper.

What I Disliked : Maybe Valdes-Rodriguez had too many main characters. I think she may have fared better with just four women. Since the narrators alternated from sucia to sucia, I felt some of the stories became cold. Sometimes, I wanted to know about what was happening with one sucia but would be delivered to another. Also, I didn’t care for the very detailed “love scenes.” I like a few things left to the imagination.

Four Out of Five Pearls

Song: El sol de la noche. Salsa céltica. – YouTube

Setting : Boston, Los Angeles, Puerto Rico, Colombia

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For more on Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez’s The Dirty Girls Social Club, check out the following sites:
 

Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez’s Haters


Haters by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez | LibraryThing

Valdes-Rodriguez, A., & Parker, J. (2006). Haters. Prince Frederick, MD: Recorded Books. 9781428122031

Reasons for Reading Right before Easter break, I needed a short audiobook to keep me company on my way home from work. That’s when I noticed Haters on the shelf in the Teen Zone. So, I checked it out from HCPL.

Summary High schooler Pasquala Rumalda Quintana de Archuleta (“Paski”) lives with her graphic artist father in Taos, New Mexico. Nearby lives her grandma, a well-to-do psychic who communicates with the dead. Paski rides her mountain bike, hangs out with her best friend, and just began dating the cutest guy. Then, her dad drops the bomb; Hollywood picked up his graphic novels for movies and they’re moving to California. This news makes Paski miserable. Adding to her agony, Paski falls for the hottest guy at her new school, Chris Cabrera. He just happens to date Jessica Nguyen, the reigning queen of the Haters. To top it off, Paski must also deal with her own psychic abilities.

What I Liked: The fact that this was Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez’s first young adult novel left me amazed. She created identifiable characters, particularly Paski, and such a rich understanding of teen life. I completely believed the portrayal of her dad, too.

What I Disliked I absolutely loathe “abridgements.” Once I realized the audio happened to be such, I asked myself if I had truly read the book. Then, I requested the print edition and found several details didn’t make it onto the CDs. Seriously, abridged books should be illegal.

Four Out of Five Pearls

Song: GWEN STEFANI – RICH GIRL VIDEO – OFFICIAL – YouTube

Setting : Taos New Mexico, Orange County California

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For more on Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez’s Haters, check out the following sites: