February 23, 2015


"The purpose of my life is not to get what I want.
The purpose of my life is to become who I am."
Love, Travel, and the Power of Running Away
A Memoir by Cara Lopez Lee
Conundrum Press
The first thing to intrigue me about this book was the title.  And it's fun that I can even get the t-shirt.  The second thing was the similarity of Cara Lopez Lee's THEY ONLY EAT THEIR HUSBANDS to Elizabeth Gilbert's EAT, PRAY, LOVE.  But though the two women are on journeys of self-discovery, their paths are as different as night and day.  One was searching for validation; the other was plotting her next escape.
Cara Lopez Lee's memoir is brutal, honest, adventurous, and outrageous.  Readers will be both intrigued and repelled by her situations and revelations, and yet they won't be able to stop themselves from cheering for this courageous, if misguided, woman in her desperate search for true love and real independence.
SUMMARY:  Cara strives to be honest and fair in the telling of her story, and it helps that she kept a journal with details of the good, the bad and the ugly from the nine years she spent in Alaska ("The Final Frontier") in a lover's triangle with two alcoholics.  Finally, enough is enough, and Cara is ready to runaway again -- a pattern she has repeated all her life.  So she runs away from Alaska and plans to go around the world and get in touch with her inner self.  Only neither journey turns out to be easy or as idyllic as she hoped.###
Read an excerpt of her book by clicking here.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Cara Lopez Lee's stories have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Denver Post, Santa Fe New Mexican, Connotation Press, and Rivet Journal. She's a book editor, and she's on the faculty at Lighthouse Writers Workshop. Her writing has earned multiple awards from The Denver Woman's Press Club and Alaska Press Club. She was a television journalist and a writer for HGTV and Food Network. She has traveled throughout Asia, Europe, Africa, Latin America, and the United States. Cara married her husband at an active volcano in Costa Rica. They live in Denver.  Visit her at http://www.caralopezlee.com/.


February 16, 2015


If we could, we'd leave them all-- the chronic bad boys, the frauds, the violent abusers, the unreliable, the lazy, the egotistical, the bad in bed, even the ones who pose as "good men" but have the relentless ability to turn every single happy moment into a day trip to the nearest latrine.  We hang on, looking and feeling, and taking notes right on our hearts, until we manage to be able to breathe, to stand, to tell ourselves we're not crazy.  That what we are is strong. And then, we leave.  Or we kill them. ---Mariela Estevez

Kensington Fiction
THE CLAIRVOYANT OF CALLE OCHO is entertaining, mysterious and a quick read.  It's a fun story about a clairvoyant whose fear of love put her in harm's way, with a cast of colorful characters and great recipes.  The arroz con sushi particularly sounds delicious, and one I'll have to try. 

SUMMARY:  After two cheating husbands and two divorces that almost leave her destitute, Mariela Estevez decides being a mistress is better than being a wife.  Her latest lover, Hector is a tenant in her building in Miami's Little Havana.  The thrill of sneaking around adds spice to their sex drive for a time.  When she realizes he is about to dump her, she dumps him first.  Unfortunately, Hector turns up dead and the police start looking at her.  (The "other woman" always makes a great suspect.)  Suddenly, Mariela is wishing she still had "the sight" but after her mother's death, she locked down that part of herself.  Now she must find a way to channel her inner bruja before she is thrown in jail.  And with a little help from her dead lover, a new lover and some lively neighbors, Mariela learns to accept her clairvoyance and finds the truth about Hector's death and the possibilities blooming within her.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Anjanette Delgado began her career as a journalist working for national media outlets such as NBC, CNN, Univision and Telemundo.  She won an Emmy award for her human-interest series "Madres en la Lejania," about the plight of Latino mothers who leave their children behind and come to the United States to work as undocumented nannies.  Anjanette's first novel, THE HEARTBREAK PILL, won the International Latino Book Award's first prize pick for Best Romance in English, first prize for Best Romance in Latino Literacy Now's "Book into Movies" competition in 2010, and was a Triple Crown Winner for Best Romance in Spanish.  She teaches writing at the Florida Center for the Literary Arts.  Visit her at www.anjanettedelgado.com

NOTE:  This book was chosen Book of the Month by Las Comadres & Friends national book club in December 2014.  Visit them at www.latinolit.com.

February 5, 2015

Book of the Month: PARISIAN PROMISES by Cecilia Velástegui

There is only one happiness in life, to love and to be loved. – George Sand

To love profoundly means both to soar and to dive. – Serge

Libros Publishing
American girls in search of amour and adventure in Paris, the City of Love, is a popular and much beloved theme. Author Cecilia Velástegui has taken an old theme and given it a new life.   

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. 

SUMMARY:  Set amid the tumultuous era of the 1970s, when radical insurgent groups plot social upheaval and guerrilla warfare at the Sorbonne, our naïve heroine arrives in Paris thirsty for romance and excitement, and gets more than she ever imagined.

A California girl more at home with horses than people, Monica secretly hopes to find her “true love” in Paris; what she gets is Jean-Michel, a Che-lookalike who’s really a sadistic terrorist preying on the innocent.  He casts a hypnotic spell on her, and using sex and drugs isolates her from her friends, and tries to break her to do his bidding.  She manages to get away from him, and with the help of her landlady – a former member of the French Resistance – escapes to the country where she meets the gentle Christophe, the young Viscount  Les Charmilles. 

Monica falls under love’s spell again.  She and her new amour enjoy walks in the country and long nights wrapped in each other’s arms until the abusive Jean-Michel finds her.  He imprisons her until she agrees to deliver one little thing for him – a bomb.  Again, Monica escapes and runs back to Paris with both lovers right behind her: one wants to reconcile, the other wants her life.  All are helpless to stop the final confrontation, when this lover’s triangle concludes with an explosive, triumphant, romantic finale! 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Cecilia Velástegui received First Place from the International Latino Book Awards for her novels MISSING IN MACHU PICCHU (2013) and TRACES OF BLISS (2012).  GATHERING THE INDIGO MAIDENS (2011) was a finalist for the Mariposa Award.  Cecilia was born in Ecuador and raised in California and France.  She received her graduate degree from the University of Southern California; speaks four languages; and has travelled to sixty countries.  She lives in Monarch Beach, CA.  Visit her at www.ceciliavelastegui.com

For our review of MISSING IN MACCHU PICCHU, click here.

January 30, 2015


The Latina Book Club ends its week-long celebration of multicultural children's books and diverse books.  We hope you enjoy them and share them with your children, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, et al.  Happy Reading.---mcf

"He listened to their voices welcoming him, speaking to him as brothers. A wave of mystical recognition swept over Diego. He felt weak at the knees with the discovery of his identity. It wasn't every day a sixth grade boy found out he might be on a collision course with an unknown destiny."

Crying Cougar Press
Move over Toothless. There is a new dragon in town and his name is Magnifico!

DIEGO'S DRAGON is magnificent, adventurous, and enchanting.  And, it won second place in Young Adult Fantasy at the 12th International Latino Book Awards in 2012.

DIEGO'S DRAGON is Book 1 of the author's new fantasy/sci fi series starring a 10 year old Mexican boy named Diego and a surly dragon named Magnifico.  The author does a great job of mixing magic and reality.  Readers of all ages will be captivated by Diego, his dragon, his close-knit family and his friends.

Kevin Gerard got the idea for the series when he visited some California middle schools and was asked to bring a gift for a lucky student.  He gave the student a dragon statue.  What also struck the author at the time was the fact that there were few books for children with Latino boys as heroes.  One thought let to another and suddenly inspiration struck: what if a young boy is awarded a dragon, and it comes to life? And so a series is born and a Latino boy becomes a hero!  

SUMMARY:  Diego Ramirez wins the district wide writing contest for six graders, and is awarded a beautiful statue of a black dragon.  Little does Diego know that his prize will change his world forever.  For that is not just a statue.  Magnifico is a real, fire-breathing dragon, and the leader of the Sol Dragones who live within the magical fires of the sun.  The Dragon has been looking for the Chosen One, the Guide that will help free a people from desolation.  But first Diego must believe in his dragon, in himself and in his destiny.###

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Kevin Gerard lives in San Diego, CA.  He teaches sociology and statistics at Cal State San Marcos. When not writing or teaching, he enjoys walking the grounds at the San Diego Zoo, hitting the waves at Cardiff State Beach and hanging with his brother, nieces and nephews at the local pizza port. Look for him in the rocket games as Seefra, the Master of Darkness, from The Connor and the Crosswords Fantasy Series.  To learn more about this author, Diego and dragons, visit www.diegosdragon.com.

January 29, 2015


Join The Latina Book Club is its week-long celebration of multicultural children's books and diversity.

Arte Publico Press
"The note was important, because even if you missed the visit, you'd still get to enjoy the surprise...To know that someone cared enough about you to come by." -- Grandma

The bond between mothers and daughters is special, but the bond between Grandmothers and granddaughters is extraordinary.  Abuelitas / Grandmas are like BFFs, cohorts, protectors and wise women all rolled into one.  You can tell them things you can't tell your mother and know they are always in your corner.

Lydia Gil's LETTERS FROM HEAVEN/ CARTAS DEL CIELO starts with the loss of an grandmother-granddaughter bond.  Our young heroine, Celeste, is struggling to deal with this loss and the changes in her life.

Upon the loss of her beloved grandmother, her world changes literally overnight -- her mother has to get a second job and is hardly home; there is not enough money to keep Celeste in dance class; she becomes a latch-key-kid home alone after school; and her friends and teachers treat her with a continuing pity which angers her.  Then Celeste receives a letter -- a letter from Grandma -- a Letter from Heaven.  Each letter contains an encouraging message and a favorite recipe. 

The letters help Celeste get past her grief and help reconnect mother and daughter.  Soon Celeste realizes that she has enough recipes to make a complete meal, a celebration of her Abuelita's cooking and life.  So she invites her neighbors and her friends to a family dinner where they can all remember her Grandma with "love.... and flavor!"

LETTERS FROM HEAVEN / CARTAS DEL CIELO is a little book of 50-odd pages.  Readers will devour it in half an hour or less; and start crying at the half-way mark.  This book is emotional, engaging and mysterious. 

Celeste is an endearing heroine that will win the hearts of readers of all ages.  By the end of the book, readers will get the urge to cook a traditional Cuban meal as the book contains six easy-to-follow recipes.  And, another great thing about this book is that you can flip it over and the Spanish translation is on the "back."  Happy Reading! ---mcf ###

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Lydia Gil was born in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, of Cuban parents.  She is the author of the bilingual children's picture book, MIMI'S PARRANDA / LA PARRANDA DE MIMI (Piñata Books, 2007).  She teaches at the University of Denver and writes for EFE, the leading Spanish-language news agency.  She holds a Ph.D. in Spanish from the University of Texas at Austin and a Master of Arts in Comparative Literature from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Visit the author at http://lydiagil.com/.