Blog Post

april, 2021

17apr6:00 pm7:00 pmA Conversation with Debut Authors featuring Laekan Zea Kemp, Crystal Maldonado, and Monica Gomez-Hira6:00 pm - 7:00 pm MST Bookmans Entertainment Exchange Facebook Page


Event Details

Bookmans, Las Musas, and Barrio Books presents a conversation with debut authors Laekan Zea Kemp, Crystal Maldonado, and Monica Gomez-Hira. Join us streaming live on the Bookmans and Las Musas Facebook and YouTube pages Saturday, April 17th at 6PM. Syrena Arevalo of Barrio Books will lead a discussion with three debut authors about their individual books, how culture and language informed their writing process, Latinx representation in kidlit and Young Adult books, and the debut experience. Come for the conversation and stay for the audience Q&A. Be sure to pick up all three titles available at Bookmans Tucson stores!



I’m Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter meets Emergency Contact in this stunning story of first love, familial expectations, the power of food, and finding where you belong.

Penelope Prado has always dreamed of opening her own pastelería next to her father’s restaurant, Nacho’s Tacos. But her mom and dad have different plans—leaving Pen to choose between disappointing her traditional Mexican American parents or following her own path. When she confesses a secret she’s been keeping, her world is sent into a tailspin. But then she meets a cute new hire at Nacho’s who sees through her hard exterior and asks the questions she’s been too afraid to ask herself.

Xander Amaro has been searching for home since he was a little boy. For him, a job at Nacho’s is an opportunity for just that—a chance at a normal life, to settle in at his abuelo’s, and to find the father who left him behind. But when both the restaurant and Xander’s immigrant status are threatened, he will do whatever it takes to protect his newfound family and himself.

Together, Pen and Xander must navigate first love and discovering where they belong in order to save the place they all call home.

This stunning and poignant novel from debut author Laekan Zea Kemp explores identity, found families and the power of food, all nestled within a courageous and intensely loyal Chicanx community.


Laekan Zea Kemp is a Mexican American author, living in Austin, Texas. She received her B.A. in Creative Writing from Texas Tech University and her M.F.A. in Teaching from the University of North Texas. When she’s not writing she’s religiously re-watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer, reading anything by Melina Marchetta, and teaching English as a Second Language to the most amazing teenagers from all over the world. Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet is her first traditionally published novel, expected spring 2021 from Little Brown Young Readers.



Eighteen-year-old Carmen Aguilar missed graduating from her Miami high school by that muchone credit short after she overreacted to a teacher destroying her dream of becoming a video editor. She’s relieved when a summer internship gives her another chance at her diploma. But instead of pushing papers, Carmen, the queen of screw-ups, finds herself dressing up as a Disney princess for children’s parties.
When her company is hired to perform at her spoiled cousin’s extravagant quinceañera, everyone fears Carmen will sabotage it. Her cousin Ariana was the reason Carmen’s own coming-of-age celebration was canceled three years earlier, and the families haven’t spoken since. This quince is an olive branch, an attempt to bring the families back together. Making matters worse is Carmen’s new dance partner: Mauro Reyes, her most regrettable ex. Absence may have made him hotter, but it didn’t make her fonder.
Still, Carmen is determined to leave the past in the past, even if late-night chats with Mauro stir up old feelings. She’s even getting along with Ariana. As the quinceañera approaches, along with the end of the summer, Carmen must break the spell of past resentments if she wants her own happily ever after. 


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.


Charlie Vega is a lot of things. Smart. Funny. Artistic. Ambitious. Fat.

People sometimes have a problem with that last one. Especially her mom. Charlie wants a good relationship with her body, but it’s hard, and her mom leaving a billion weight loss shakes on her dresser doesn’t help. The world and everyone in it have ideas about what she should look like: thinner, lighter, slimmer-faced, straighter-haired. Be smaller. Be whiter. Be quieter.

But there’s one person who’s always in Charlie’s corner: her best friend Amelia. Slim. Popular. Athletic. Totally dope. So when Charlie starts a tentative relationship with cute classmate Brian, the first worthwhile guy to notice her, everything is perfect until she learns one thing—he asked Amelia out first. So is she his second choice or what? Does he even really see her? UGHHH. Everything is now officially a MESS.

A sensitive, funny, and painful coming-of-age story with a wry voice and tons of chisme, Fat Chance, Charlie Vega tackles our relationships to our parents, our bodies, our cultures, and ourselves.


Crystal Maldonado is a young adult author with a lot of feelings. Her debut novel, FAT CHANCE, CHARLIE VEGA (Holiday House), will be released on Feb. 2, 2021. By day, she is a social media manager working in higher ed, and by night, a writer who loves Beyoncé, shopping, the internet, and being extra. She lives in western Massachusetts with her husband, daughter, and dog. Follow her everywhere @crystalwrote or visit her website at

ABOUT Las Musas…

Mission: To spotlight the contribution of Las Musas in the evolving canon of children’s literature and celebrate the diversity of voice, experience, and power in our communities.

Las Musas is the first collective of women and non-binary (identifying on the female spectrum) Latinx middle-grade (MG), picture book (PB), and young adult (YA) authors to come together in an effort to support and amplify each other’s debut or sophomore novels in US children’s literature. Titles by Las Musas are published by major houses including Arthur A. Levine Books (Scholastic), Charlesbridge, Disney-Hyperion, Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins), Knopf, Lee & Low, Page Street, Scholastic, Tor Teen and Walden Pond Press (Harper Collins), and Simon & Schuster.

The Latinx community is an incredibly vast and diverse group of people that includes Afro-Latinx, Indigenous Latinx, Asian Latinx, white Latinx, and any and all combinations of race, religion, gender, and sexual orientation. Latinx is not tied to any specific race, but is rather a classification term referring to people with cultural ties to Latin America. Las Musas represent Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Uruguay, just to name a few.

ABOUT Barrio Books…

We promote cultural representation for all ages
and carry a great selection of hidden
gems as well as well known
authors and titles in both English and Spanish.

We promote the sacred
knowledge of our
cultura and of our beautiful community.

On January 2nd, 2021 we opened our Brick and Mortar location in a partnership with Hotel McCoy. Today, we stay true to our vision as well as expand our inventory to other POC authors, Best Sellers and Local Authors.


(Saturday) 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm MST


Bookmans Entertainment Exchange Facebook Page

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