Telesa: The Covenant Keeper, book 1 in the Telesa Series by Lani Wendt Young is nothing but trouble. It starts out innocently enough with orphaned Leila Folger as a recent private all girls’ high school graduate leaving Washington D.C. against her grandmother’s wishes to meet her mother’s Samoan family for the first time. Born with a privileged silver spoon and raised by her recently deceased Caucasian father, it’s easy to predict the conflicts of wealth vs. modest means, American permissiveness vs. traditional Samoan conservative values, and the culture shock of everything from the food to church to going to school with boys. Lani nails all the angst of being on the cusp of womanhood perfectly and these themes are well-developed and a pleasure to read.
But Sistah Lani didn’t stop there and that’s why this book is Trouble with a capital T. After I started reading, dishes piled in the sink. Kids were late to piano and soccer and shhhhh, Mom’s working was yelled all too frequently. Dinner? Order pizza, I’m busy.
Fo’real. The Covenant Keeper takes Samoan legends of Teine Sa and Pele, who I know best as the Hawaiian goddess of volcanos, and creates a new mythology that sizzles. Hoping to discover her Samoan roots, Leila uncovers family secrets beyond anything you can imagine.
I love that Leila is a modern woman who questions her gifts with a scientific mind. She respects tradition, but isn’t afraid to blaze her own trail or shake up the status quo.
Did I mention the love triangle? Break out the fans, people! I doubt there is anything more beautiful than a young Samoan man who is kind, moral, graceful, and athletic. Sparkly vampires? Give me a break! One love song from Daniel and you won’t remember why you liked vampires or werewolves in the first place.
And that’s the key–like the Twilight series this book is written for young adults from their perspective. Leila’s powers, love, relationships, and emotions are raw, new, and overwhelming. If you can remember being 18 and in love for the first time, you’ll be highly entertained as you escape to a fantastical vision of life in Samoa for an afternoon.
Telesa: The Covenant Keeper by Lani Wendt Young is self-published and available from Amazon as an eBook and trade paperback. Don’t miss the other works in the series, I am Daniel Tahi, When Water Burns, and The Bone Bearer.
Telesa Series Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Telesa-Trilogy/146318935466086?fref=ts
Daughters of Fire by Tom Peek is an epic speculative novel set in contemporary Hawaii. Like a local plate lunch special, it’s a mix of many different genres, an unexpected combination of flavors and tastes that work well together. It’s a romance. It’s a murder mystery. It’s a political thriller. It’s a social commentary on traditional Pacific vs. western world views. It’s a speculative tale of ancient gods and goddesses, curses, prophecies, and traditions. It spans everything island-style from mo’o legends to bento boxes and from the politics of lounge singing to the politics of international stargazing.
On the surface, Daughters of Fire is the story of three strong Hawaiian women: an anthropologist who works with corporate developers to identify and preserve ancient sites, an elderly traditional healer and seer, and a young Hawaiian rights activist. The stories intertwine as a murder occurs, a controversial mega-tourist resort opens, legalize gambling rears its head, and reports of an imminent volcanic eruption are hidden from the public.
Despite its convoluted storylines, it’s an easy, entertaining read. Readers familiar with the landscape and culture will appreciate the authenticity and those new to Hawaii will get a taste of the complexity of island culture without feeling lost. If you’re looking for a book to take on a trip—or to remember your Big Island vacation—this one satisfies.
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