Friday, May 31, 2013

Amazing, Bold...and Chilling! Finalist in Three Fiction Categories for 2013 International Latino Book Awards, by Cecilia Velastegui!

English: Peru Machu Picchu
English: Peru Machu Picchu (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
"That is exactly what they do. They go online and they beg for men to meet them and to screw them. These
women have everything the rest of the world wants. They
are attractive, they are educated, they are well-fed, they
can buy whatever they like, but they cannot find a man.
Why do you suppose that is?
"Illapa, Inca god, should I answer or not?
"Go ahead, idiot!
"Their men are like me, they are not potent. Are their
rods limp?"
"A stupid answer, Choque. No, their men are potent and
even those who aren't take pills that make them rock

Illapa: Incan God of Thunder
"That was the mountain apu's
message: silence or you will
die. Be silent and learn from
us. Through her silence, she
could truly listen to the
Andean deities..."

Missing in Machu Picchu
Free E-book download June 24 to July 7, 2013
By Cecilia Velastegui
International Latino Book Award Author
"Taki would rather see her mallqui entombed forever in his native grotto, with its god-awful smelling bats than reside in the hygienic laboratory of a soulless institution abroad. She had lived long enough to remember that the treasures of Machu Picchu and the Andes had been pilfered or destroyed by foreign conquerors. First the Spanish arrived and burned all the mallquis they could find in the realm, knowing full well that for the Incas there was no greater death than to be burned, even if one was already a mummified corpse. Then Bingham arrived in 1911 with visions of his own type of conquest. When he saw the great carvd niches within a wall in Machu Picchu, he knew that the important mummies had been installed there to rest. He forced men to dig up their own ancestors in search of the perfect Inca emperor mummy to take back to New York, but all he found were the remains of numerous female mummies. The imperial ancestors had been carried away by the faithful, never to be found. Always the great promoter, spindly-legs Bingham had decided that the skeletal remains of the women must have been those of the Brides of the Sun. The imaged sexual hijinks of one Inca king and hundreds of young virgins would sell lots of newspapers back in United States.

Although placed in the psychological suspense genre, those of you who look for historical novels should certainly considered Missing in Machu Picchu. I was fortunate to be given a hard cover version and I must tell you that it is simply beautiful! The inside cover provides a two-page spread of the mountains and the city as well as many historical black and white drawings shown in the book trailer. There is also an extensive Glossary and Bibliography, as well as a section for Book Clubs. I will certainly be pleased to pass this onto our local library for its collection!

Now I have to admit that I was just a bit turned off at first because of the inclusion of online dating, which didn't seem to fit such an epic story; however, I must assure you that the topic was really incidental to the issue of women's lives--lives that have been spent in college and then into many years as they built their careers, only then to find themselves unhappy and "resorting" to online dating. The novel not only covers the pitfalls of that type of dating, but, more importantly, explores the inner turmoil each of the women are going through.

"stood laughing at the four cowering women who
thought they could dictate a revelation, who thought
personal transformation could be ordered online and
paid for like an overnight delivery.
"One step at a time, that is how you will be transformed.
he lectured them. "Just as you arrived at this point by
taking one painful step along the precarious path, by
hiking on my Inca Illapa Trail, that is how you will
untether yourself from all your online addictions and
your psychotic disorders."
"...gazed out at the black night, unsure of what he was
going to say or do next. The one thing he did know was
that he had not broken the women down sufficiently
to command them to do his bidding--in particular, the
very cruitical next step--so he backed off. He had until
dawn to brainwash these Ivy League women, so he
decided to punish and reward them, to pit them one
against the other, to make love to them and to beat them
down in order to make them draw blood. Then and only
then would they be ready to commence the sacred
procession to the peak..."
But what they went through on that trip was unlike anything you could imagine... 

The purpose of the trip was to burn an effigy representing all of the "crazies" they had met through online dating. But the whole thing, the trip, was a sham...

The tour guide was a man with whom most of the women had been intimate--to say he was a con man was the least awful thing that could be used to describe him...

But their trip had been foreseen...

Images of these women, walking up the mountain, falling off the edges, had driven Taki nearly mad as she tried to understand...

Taki was a seer and keeper of the Mallqui, one of the Incan ancestors that were still buried in the secret coves, and not yet found by those who would steal the mummies and sell them to make money--never considering the desecration of those graves.

Taki and Koyam, her friend and protector were now 70, sometimes weak with old age, only to be revived by spirits when needed. Taki had helped and blessed many who came, while Koyam was the one who chased or beat those who would do harm to Taki. If they had not known of these women, they would have died...

How that occurs on those winding secret paths on which those women were taken is so chilling that it will sometimes stun readers as they, too, see and learn of what had happened at Machu Picchu in the ancient past...

And how and what a psychopath was planning to do in order to bring back those days...

The more I read, the more this book spoke boldly of what rich and powerful people have done to destroy the culture, the artifacts, and even the dead of those that lived in the past. The author also speaks boldly about how women have chosen to live lives that sometimes prove to be totally different from what they would have wanted. At first, I felt it was a little too stereotypical, but ultimately, as each woman's story is shared, some will find their own story. If not, they will find they can be content with what has happened in their own lives.

Velastequi also has attacked the atrocities of selling babies, children and women. again amazingly merging many important issues into a novel that does not bogged down with the magnitude of the information shared. My most favorite characters were the two older women who, even in their later years, never gave up responding to the guidance provided by their ancestors... May we all learn such respect with wisdom available to us... Highly recommended for many reasons...


Cecilia Velástegui is the International Latino Book Award winning author of the psychological thrillers with historical intrigue:Traces of Bliss and Gathering the Indigo Maidens. She was selected on the 2012 Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club in partnership with the Association of American Publishers.
Velástegui was born high up in the Andes Mountains in Quito, Ecuador, where she spent her childhood. Although she now lives at sea level in Monarch Beach, California, she has two friendly pet alpacas. Velástegui was raised in California and France, and has traveled extensively in over 50 countries. She received her graduate degree from the University of Southern California, and speaks four languages. She serves on the board of directors of several cultural and educational institutions.
Velástegui donates a portion of the proceeds of her novels to fight human trafficking, the underlying theme of her novels.
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