Latina Book Club Awards
Latina Book Club picks Parisian Promises as one of the year’s best fiction and my children’s bilingual fable, LALO LOVES TO HELP, is selected as a top book this year:http://www.latinabookclub.com/2015/12/3rd-annual-books-of-year-list.html
My children’s book Howl of the Mission Owl, a mystery about California history, was a finalist at the ForeWord Reviews Independent Book Awards during American Library Association convention in San Francisco.
Paris Book Festival Finalist
Latina Book Club
PARISIAN PROMISES is a sensual, suspenseful and satisfying novel and our February Book of the Month. The characters are passionate; the setting authentic (it’s Paris, the center of the world!); and the action quick with nail-biting suspense.
Velastegui’s writing is captivating and elegant. Parisian Promises is a historical fiction novel with elements of intrigue, suspense, fairy tale dreams of the perfect romance and even the perfect touch of heat that sparks the naughty mind. Velastegui writes with purpose, and it is apparent that she is well traveled. Highly recommended!
Multicultural Indie Author Gives Readers the World
*****FIVE STARS OUT OF FIVE
Parisian Promises gets a perfect Five Star review:
Angeleno Magazine and Riviera Magazine:
The Spanish edition of Traces of Bliss was selected as a finalist in Foreword Reviews Book of the Year Awards.The awards ceremony will take place on June 28, 2013 at the American Library Association conference in Chicago.
Missing in Machu Picchu is another beautifully written novel by Cecilia Velástegui. Combining historical fact with a modern fictional takes the reader on an incredible journey. The mysticism and beauty behind the mallqui adds to the drama.
*****FIVE STARS OUT OF FIVE
“The women hikers stood on the narrow path, their weary backs resting against the cool rock face of the cliff. They caught their breath and allowed the revelation of their ultimate purpose to sink in: they were on nothing less than a quest for their very future; they were on a sacred pilgrimage for love.” As Cecilia Velástegui makes clear in her epic saga Missing in Machu Picchu, these delusional dames are unlikely to find true love: Owing to a series of mysterious coincidences, they are in the thrall of a lady-killer.
Rodrigo is a to-die-for, handsome megalomaniac posing as a tour guide; he has lured a flock of willing flirts to Peru, where he promises to take them on a perilous hike to Machu Picchu, the “city of the Incas” high in the Andes Mountains. Rodrigo has an eye for conquest, convinced he is an Incan god; the women—Gabby, Hilary, Tiffany, and Mercy—have come to break their addiction to Internet dating and find lasting love. Each of them secretly believes she will find it with Rodrigo, little suspecting how evil and corrupt he really is.
Behind the scenes, but in pursuit, are two old crones. Taki and Koyam go unnoticed as they sell their handmade crafts in the public square. With nearly a century and a half of wisdom between them, they know Rodrigo’s maleficent nature and are determined to keep him from working further harm. Taki, who is a “clairvoyant, healer, seer, shaman, priestess” plagued with dark visions about Rodrigo’s influence, is protected by her old friend Koyam as they dog the villain’s tracks. As the journey progresses, omens such as heavy rain plague the party; when they get farther from the known world of cybercafés and tourist dives, the gringas begin to realize just how isolated they are. Still ahead lie bloodlust, terror, death, and “one final soul-awaking experience.”
Velástegui, an International Latino Book Award author, has crafted this story like the mystical patterns of the shawls that Taki weaves. In her creation the author draws together threads of her own life. Born in the Andes Mountains of Ecuador, Velástegui was raised in California and France, speaks four languages, and stalks the globe in search of her stories.
Missing in Machu Picchu is more than a thriller. Velástegui wants her readers to not only be enchanted by this tale of seduction, vengeance, retribution, and, for one character at least, atonement, but also to be educated about Latin American culture and mythology: the legends, the history, and the classic clash between earthly desires and the will of the gods. She has included photographs of sacred Incan shrines, mute and eyeless mummies, and the recently discovered “ice maiden.” A lengthy bibliography and a study guide appear at the end of the book.
Velástegui’s prose is dreamlike and evokes comparisons with the best writers of modern magical realism. The simple lives of peasants and the complex schemes of city slickers reveal special meaning when drenched in the romance, violence, and pure zaniness of folk memory. Velástegui brings the genre up to date, with peasant grannies struggling to understand computers and identify with their clever but insensitive grandchildren, and college-educated women forced to do battle with ancient spirits and cosmic forces well beyond the reach of the worldwide web.
Foreword Clarion Review
*****FIVE STARS OUT OF FIVE
Traces of Bliss is full of surprises, switchbacks, and skillfully evoked vignettes of an ancient world of supernatural events that bleed into present-day reality. Its focus on strong but otherworldly females will remind some readers of the books of Isabel Allende and Margaret Atwood, while its blend of everyday happenings with step-through visions from the world of ghosts and spirits is reminiscent of Gabriel García Márquez and Mario Vargas Llosa. Velástegui, an Ecuadorian author who has also written Gathering the Indigo Maidens, spins her lush tale with a sense of the sacredness of inner vision. Hers is a celebration of language that readers have come to expect from Latin American writers; Velástegui deserves to be recognized as a distinguished member of that group. READ MORE>>>
US Review of Books
The author cleverly weaves historical persecution of various races and religions into a modern day twisting tale of deception and predation of the elderly. Introducing a sordid cast or characters, each filled with tragedy and darkness and unable to either recognize or control the “duende” or spirit inhabiting them, they are forced to come face-to-face with the realities of their lives while deciding their roles in this novel of tragedy. Proving that the righteous are rewarded while the wretched receive their due as well, the author continues the unpredictable plot to the bitter end. The reader is taken on a true journey across not only time but landscape as well, as they delve past historical fiction and into a boundless exploration of love, love lost, and the stakes associated with reclamation. READ MORE>>>
“Traces of Bliss” by Cecilia Velástegui was quite unlike any other book I’ve ever read. Her ability to seamlessly weave the past and the present together in a fashion that defies description, coupled with a great sense of language and meticulous research, resulted in a story which at times read like historical fiction, bordering on fantasy, and at others was a very insightful view of class and race issues in the contemporary California. Some of the scenes from the past, as well as the ones from Octavio’s childhood, were almost dreamlike, and some of the ones happening in the seedier parts of contemporary Los Angeles or to its seedier characters were downright disturbingly harsh, yet brilliant. The incredible cast of characters was rich and drawn with lots of detail, and each one of them turned out to be more complex than what one would expect of them at a first glance. There is a heady mix of Moorish invasions, Basque Witch trials, duende, prehistoric caves, flamenco dancers and gypsies, cross-dressing military officers fighting for the Spanish crown in the 17th century, mermaids, missing teenagers, Sephardic Jews, poets, shamans, involuntary memories, magic mushrooms, violent husbands, crying babies, impersonators, gigolos, and more… and somehow it all makes sense in the end.
“Traces of Bliss” is a hauntingly beautiful book, which will certainly appeal to readers of intelligent fiction, particularly those who are truly interested in history and not opposed to some novel views. While happiness might not be found easily in this story, it definitely exists, and reminds us time and again what really and truly matters. READ MORE>>>
Reader View on Gathering the Indigo Maidens
“Gathering the Indigo Maidens” tells an incredible story that incorporates both the beauty and history of Spanish art into a modern story about the evils that come with greed in our society. The author does an excellent job of taking us to different times in history where we can see that things weren’t much different even going back as far as 1699. Lack of respect and abuse towards women existed then and still exists today. By sharing this story, my eyes were opened.
While paintings which depict women don’t suffer physically, they do experience some of the same disrespect that the young women do. Neither the paintings nor the women are seen as anything more than their monetary worth. There is no humanity or appreciation for the beauty of both. The exception to this is in Paloma’s eyes.
“Gathering of the Indigo Maidens” is an exceptionally written story that is guaranteed to hold you captive and stir at your heart strings while you read it. I highly recommend it, especially for readers who enjoy a mix of history, art and mystery. READ MORE>>>