Blog Tour Review: The Cat King of Havana

Tom Crosshill - The Cat King of Havana
Expected publication: September 6, 2016 by Katherine Tegen Books
Genres: Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 368
Rating: 4.5/5

Rick Gutierrez is . . . the Cat King of Havana! A cat-video tycoon turned salsa-dancer extraordinaire, he’ll take Cuba by storm, romance the girl of his dreams, and ignite a lolcat revolution!

At least that’s the plan.

It all starts when his girlfriend dumps Rick on his sixteenth birthday for uploading cat videos from his bedroom when he should be out experiencing the real world. Known as “That Cat Guy” at school, Rick isn’t cool and he knows it. He realizes it’s time for a change.

Rick decides joining a salsa class is the answer . . . because of a girl, of course. Ana Cabrera is smart, friendly, and smooth on the dance floor. Rick might be half-Cuban, but he dances like a drunk hippo. Desperate to impress Ana, he invites her to spend the summer in Havana. The official reason: learning to dance. The hidden agenda: romance under the palm trees.

Except Cuba isn’t all sun, salsa, and music. There’s a darker side to the island. As Rick and Ana meet his family and investigate the reason why his mother left Cuba decades ago, they learn that politics isn’t just something that happens to other people. And when they find romance, it’s got sharp edges.

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Rick Gutierrez's girlfriend has recently dumped him because she believes he's more obsessed with his cat-themed blog than her. Desperate to impress the new girl, Ana, who is Puerto-Rican - oh gosh, I've never been happier to read someone with the same ethnicity, oh yas - he decides to join a salsa class in an attempt to woo her, as his moves are considerably D-List. When they don't, he takes it step further and invites her to meet his mother's family in Havana, Cuba.

I could relate to some of Rick's issues, the terrible dancing and all. My sister and mother are great dancers. Whereas, I am not. I'm also one of the prime-time awkwards in my familia who can't speak Spanish. (I understand 95% of it. I can carry a decent conversation, ala "Hola! ¿Cómo estás?" but that's the length of it.) They tend to talk around me in Spanish, which they still do, but I can follow along now. My cousins and I used to be like, "What are they saying?" Now, I'm just like, #STOP.

Although, Rick yearns for Ana's love, his feelings aren't recuperated. As he introduces her to the family, aunts and cousins alike, Ana remains stony. But I have to say, the image of Cuba was so magnificently done. Unlike any other vacation-y, exotic-location YAs, this novel wasn't trying to wholly please anyone.

If I had any problem with this novel, it was definitely with Ana. I mean, I loved the girl, but at times, she was so selfish and dense. Certain aspects of Rick and Ana reminded me of A Fierce and Subtle Poison because of how blatantly dumb they were over cultural issues. Understandably, but come on. And if you're going to reject someone, flatout do it. She was like, "I don't like you, Rick. Not sure why. Just get over it." AND the whole Ysevany situation.

I seriously liked Rick. He's a go-getter. He reminded me a teensy bit of Charlie Brown. He'd face an obstacle, but manage a way to overcome it. Being led from his POV was an interesting, enthralling sight, and I enjoyed how he remained close with his father, considering their massive time difference.

The dance scenes were cute, too. I was glad he and Ana didn't succeed at everything, and continued to carry on with this nonchalant, breezy attitude. No offense, of course. It was very realistic. Very reminiscent of Silver Linings Playbook for those who've enjoyed that as well, and the ending was such a delight. All around, it's an enjoyable read, compacted with dancing, diversity, great location, and well-versed characters. Y'all surely won't forget THE CAT KING. ;)
Tom Crosshill's fiction has been nominated for the Nebula Award (thrice) as well as the Latvian Annual Literature Award. His stories have appeared in venues such as Clarkesworld, Beneath Ceaseless Skies and Lightspeed. In 2009, he won the Writers of the Future contest. After some years spent in Oregon and New York, he currently lives in his native Latvia. In the past, he has operated a nuclear reactor, translated books and worked in a zinc mine, among other things. 

Tom's young adult novel "The Cat King of Havana" is forthcoming from Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins) in 2016.

LINKS: Website | Twitter
Tour Schedule:

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Here we have the most amazing giveaway, where you can win a copy of this ama-zing book! Please, puh-lease, so I no longer have to place unnecessary brackets in my words. Thanks.

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  1. I love your review and how you personalized it with ties to your life and the meaning of these characters and their actions based on your life experiences. Thank you for sharing--I want to read this book now.

    1. Ooooh, glad to hear you enjoyed! It really was a great book!! :D


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