Book Feature, Holiday House Books, Reader Kit

Reader Kit: Fat Chance, Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado

On The Booked Shelf is a new feature known as the Reader Kit which is a fun way of learning more about upcoming Young Adult books by spotlighting a catered list of items from the author.

Today’s first guest is Crystal Maldonado author of the upcoming rom-com Fat Chance, Charlie Vega. Here she is to tell you more about the curated items from her charming debut:

As an avid reader, I love nothing more than fully immersing myself in a book, its world, its characters and its entire vibe. So, I’ve rounded up a few Charlie Vega-approved things that you might enjoy as you dive into FAT CHANCE, CHARLIE VEGA, which is out Feb. 2, 2021!

Chai Latte
A coffee shop called Jake’s is a place that Charlie and her best friend, Amelia, return to over and over throughout this book. A few kids at school hang out here, but for Charlie and Amelia, it’s officially their spot. Jake’s is equal parts cozy and warm, with delicious drinks and baked goods, as well as eclectic furniture (think well-worn leather chairs and end-tables-turned-checkerboards) and an assortment of used books. It’s everything you could ask for from a place to relax. A few of the story’s big conversations happen here — and always with a yummy drink! Charlie’s drink of choice is a chai latte. Hot or iced? Since they’re in Connecticut, it fully depends on the season. You do you!

A Cupcake of Your Choice
Food is a running theme in this book, with special homage paid to desserts, including delicious cupcakes. Charlie especially loves the chocolate raspberry cupcakes one of her coworkers always prepares for holiday parties, but I say go with whatever flavor your heart desires. The real question: Is it better to eat the cake-y bottom first and then save the frosting top for last (Team Charlie), or to create a cupcake sandwich by carefully breaking the bottom off and squishing it on top so that the frosting is in the center (Team Brian)? I’m Team Charlie all the way.

Charlie is a writer and avid reader and always needs to be in the right headspace before she can get any writing or reading done. This includes settling into her writing nook, finding the right music, and being surrounded by her twinkle lights. I also like to imagine she would have one or more candles going to help set the vibe. She would most definitely have a Beyonce candle on her desk — probably unlit and for decoration only. Since she’s a hopeless romantic, I imagine Charlie would also have this candle called Love Spell by Casa De Yan Candles burning every time she’s writing one of her romcoms.

Notebook & Writing Utensils
I definitely hoard notebooks like they are going out of style and I use them to make lists, capture story ideas, write down inspiration, journal, brainstorm, doodle, whatever. Your perfect notebook may change over time, but I imagine Charlie would have a notebook with some kind of motivational phrase on the front, like this gorgeous, red, leather-bound one that says Book of Jefa Moves by Hija de tu Madre.

Obviously you also need a good set of pens! I personally have and LOVE these gorgeous magic glitter pens from Jen Zeano Designs. Nice, smooth black ink, great sayings, and some glitter—what more could Charlie (or you) ask for?

Cozy Clothes
Charlie lives for fashion and looking cute. But when it comes to curling up with a good book, she’s all about comfort. So pile your hair up in a bun and snuggle under the blankets in something cozy, like these tie-dye shirt and pant sweatsuit sets from Viva La Bonita from its cloud collection.

They’re comfy enough to lie in your bed with your favorite read but cute enough that if you get an unexpected text from your cute crush, you can be ready to go in a second.

Deadline City and Hey YA Podcasts
As an aspiring writer and perpetual overthinker, Charlie would highly recommend checking out the Deadline City podcast, hosted by the immensely talented author of the Brooklyn Brujas series Zoraida Córdova and New York Times bestselling author of The Belles Dhonielle Clayton.

These talented (and hilarious) authors are besties who offer real insight into the art of writing books. As for Charlie’s ever-growing TBR list, she would get tons of recommendations from Bookriot’s Hey YA podcast—and it’s always a charming listen.

Spotify Playlist
The right music can be a game changer when it comes to your mood, regardless of what you’re doing. Charlie’s #moodmusic would be a mix of Beyoncé, Chloe x Halle, Lionbabe, Janelle Monae, and a handful of retro 90s songs — which you can actually find on Charlie Vega’s ***Flawless Playlist!

Charlie and I have an intense love of Beyoncé and Chloe x Halle in common, though my personal faves would also include Mariah Carey, Ariana Grande, Solange, Harry Styles, Taylor Swift, Brittany Howard, Leon Bridges, and literally any ’90s or ’00s pop music (especially boy bands like the Backstreet Boys).

Happy reading!

Author Bio
Crystal Maldonado is a young adult author with a lot of feelings. Her debut novel, FAT CHANCE, CHARLIE VEGA, is available Feb. 2, 2021 in hardcover, eBook, or audiobook format from Bookshop, IndieBound, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon. By day, she is a social media manager working in higher ed, and by night, a writer who loves Beyoncé, shopping, spending too much time on her phone, and being extra. She lives in western Massachusetts with her husband, daughter, and dog. Follow her everywhere @crystalwrote or visit her website at

Cover Artist: Ericka Lugo

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.