Tag Archives: Lani Wendt Young

BOOKS TO WAIT FOR

‘Scarlet Redemption’ by Lani Wendt Young (3rd book in The Scarlet Series)

Lani Wendt Young’s newest series revolves around Scarlet – a young woman who returns to Samoa for her sister’s wedding.

The first two books, ‘Scarlet Lies’ and ‘Scarlet Secrets’, have quickly won readers’ hearts. But the conclusion to this romantic and poignant story is yet to be released. What will the future be for Scarlet? Will she find her true happiness? Will she finally let her fabulous self to flourish? It all remains to be seen.

‘Where Petals Fade’ by Sieni A.M.

The author of ‘Illumine Her’ and ‘Scar of the Bamboo Leaf’ has already announced that a new novel is in the works. What we know as of now is that there’s ‘a woman florist, a beach cottage, a graveyard, and of course a guy’. Sounds interesting, doesn’t it?

Taking into account that Sieni A.M. is an unbelievably talented writer, it’s safe to assume that her new book will be just as good as the previous ones.

‘Attitude 13 Volume 2’ by Tanya Taimanglo

Those who have read Tanya Taimanglo’s ‘Attitude 13’ know exactly how wonderful the book is. This collection of short stories makes readers laugh and cry, reminding them at the same time what truly matters in life.

The author has mentioned that the second volume will be released. When? It is not known. But I am certain it will be a book worth reading. We have no choice but to wait.

WRITTEN BY…LANI WENDT YOUNG

‘Pacific Tsunami Galu Afi’

This is a non-fiction book that commemorates the devastating tsunami that hit Samoa in September 2009.

Although a harrowing read, it is deeply moving, very informative, and extremely interesting. The survivor’s memories and the interviews with those who came to rescue them have been amazingly woven together, giving readers a thorough account of that horrible day.

For who: For non-fiction fans. For people interested in natural disasters. For those who appreciate literary craft.

‘Afakasi Woman’

This collection of twenty-four short stories gives readers fascinating insights into the lives of women in Samoa.

It is both light-hearted and serious, funny and sad, cheerful and thought-provoking. It’s a female voice from the Pacific region – strong female voice that touches on some of the most difficult issues. Definitely not to be missed.

For who: For all the people who think that women are important. And for those who prefer short forms.

The Telesa Series

The trilogy, which has its roots in Samoan mythology, revolves around a young American girl who initially comes to Samoa to meet her family, but ends up discovering her true self.

These are fantastic books! Excellently written and engaging, they transport readers into the world of ancient myths and legends, letting them discover the unknown side of the Pacific.

For who: For teenagers who love fantasy novels. For teenagers who hate fantasy novels (after reading these, they’ll love them). For adults who think they are too old and mature to read anything that’s a mix of imaginary world and romance.

‘I am Daniel Tahi’

This short novella is a companion book to the Telesa series. It tells the same story but from the male point of view.

Lani Wendt Young created a narrative that’s not only compelling, but also fun to read. Having been written in a very ‘manly’ manner, it is pretty enlightening (for us – girls) and often quite hilarious. A truly fantastic read!

For who: For girls (and women) who are dreaming of or looking for their Mr Perfect. Warning: you may suddenly heighten your expectations! Also, for all the females who think that Mr Perfect doesn’t exist – he does, at least in Lani Wendt Young’s books.

The Scarlet Series

The author’s newest series focuses on Scarlet – a young woman who, while coming back to Samoa to attend her sister’s wedding, learns that homecomings don’t always mean love, hugs, and happiness; especially when secrets from the past are involved.

Despite the seemingly light-hearted and humorous nature of the books, they broach some very sensitive topics, making the whole story multidimensional and unique. Fantastic, believable characters (with Scarlet taking the lead here) only add to the greatness that these novels are.

For who: For everyone who has already celebrated his/her 18th birthday. Probably a bit more suitable for women than men.

FORGET GREY. BEST BOOKS FOR VALENTINE’S DAY

‘I am Daniel Tahi’ by Lani Wendt Young

‘I am Daniel Tahi’ is a companion novella to Lani Wendt Young’s well-known Telesa series. As it shows Daniel’s point of view, it is written in a very ‘manly’ manner. It’s casual, funny, and…quite hot. You think Christian Grey is a guy for you? That means you haven’t met Daniel Tahi yet. And believe me, you do want to meet him.

‘Sons For The Return Home’ by Albert Wendt

Albert Wendt’s cross-racial love story follows a young student, the son of Samoan migrants, who falls for a pakeha girl. Amidst the troubles and difficulties, the two lovers discover the world of intimacy and relationships, quickly realizing that it’s not always easy to love someone from a different culture. The plot of this book is filled with desire, lust, sexual tension, and…overwhelming longing for what’s not there but could be.

‘Conquered’ by Paula Quinene

This historical erotic romance revolves around Jesi, a young Chamorro girl who, in the most dramatic circumstances, meets the man of her dreams. The story will make your heart beat a bit faster than usual, and the couple’s intense relationship will make you green with envy…or red in the face (if you know what I mean).

The Scarlet Series by Lani Wendt Young

Sometimes girls just wanna have fun, right? And, trust me, no one does it better than Scarlet, the main character in the series. Especially when a very handsome man appears on the horizon. Although this very enjoyable book may seem light-hearted on the surface, it has a real plot full of secrets. And if you’re looking for some romance, you will definitely find it here!

‘A Farm in the South Pacific Sea’ by Jan Walker

This title is a little more ‘serious’, more ‘mature’. It recounts a true story of June von Donop, who comes to the Kingdom of Tonga to find a purpose in life but ends up finding her true soulmate (while at the same time having a romance with a young Tongan man). This is the most beautiful love story, told with great passion, that you’ll want to reread as soon as you finish the last sentence.

MOST INTERESTING CHARACTERS IN PACIFIC LITERATURE (PART 1)

Simone, The Telesa Trilogy by Lani Wendt Young

Just imagine… An exuberant fa’afafine who is an absolute ideal of a best friend and who seems to always know what to say and do. Don’t you wish you had a person like this around you? Yes, Simone is…well…just shamazing!

Lani Wendt Young created a character who’s far more interesting and compelling than the protagonists of the novels, but – what’s important – doesn’t steal the whole spotlight. The bright and bubbly personality she bestowed upon him makes the occasionally serious story exude humour and Polynesian cheerfulness.

Materena, The Materena Mahi Trilogy by Célestine Hitiura Vaite

Materena is the real heroine of the trilogy. A devoted wife, an excellent mother, a star. She is, as teenagers would say, the coolest ever.

The author managed to develop a dynamic female character who is, first and foremost, a woman strong enough to fight for herself and do as she pleases. This powerful feminist voice is a reminder that you can never forget about your own needs; and that your dreams are just as important as everybody else’s.

Kiva, ‘Scar of the Bamboo Leaf’ by Sieni A.M.

The most fascinating people are the ones who have a story to tell; the ones who are not perfect (what does it mean to be perfect, anyway?); the ones who can teach us something. And because we usually want the novels to reflect the real world, the same goes for literary characters.

Kiva, the protagonist of Sieni A.M.’s book, instantly becomes your best friend. She isn’t flawless (although for me she is!), she has her struggles, and yet she is determined to lead a happy and meaningful life. She is a true role model every one of us – regardless of age – should look up to and at least try to emulate.

Tomas, ‘An Ocean In a Cup’ by Stephen Tenorio Jr.

Stephen Tenorio Jr’s literary debut, ‘An Ocean In a Cup’, is a wonderful example that it is indeed possible to create a multi-layered character who can not only attract but also hold readers’ attention.

Tomas is a leading figure of the book. Although at first he seems like an ordinary – extremely gifted, yes, nonetheless completely average – young man, you quickly realize there is more to his personality than what you see on the surface. The inexplicable darkness within him makes you contemplate psychological mechanisms that define human nature.

Uncle Kahana,  The Niuhi Shark Saga by Lehua Parker

In Middle Grade/YA genre characters are probably the most important element of the story. They may be an inspiring example for the youth; they may provide them with guidance; they may impart the words of wisdom. But most of all, they may entertain.

Uncle Kahana is a mysterious elder who knows more than he’s willing to show. Well versed in traditional knowledge, he represents ‘old Hawaii’, showing everyone that the ancient way of being is an integral part of the island life, and that indigenous culture simply must be respected.

BEST BOOKS BASED ON PACIFIC MYTHS, LEGENDS, FOLK TALES

The Telesa Trilogy by Lani Wendt Young

This highly acclaimed series is a modern take on Pacific mythology, which makes it a perfect read for teenagers.

The thrilling story of Leila Folger is a passionate romance based on the legends of Teine Sa, the spirit women of Samoa. The popular ancient beliefs are masterfully incorporated into the narrative – they constitute a considerable part of the story, yet they are not overwhelming.

The trilogy may be perfect for juvenile audiences, but you’ll love it even if you’re past your teenage years!

‘Sirena: A Mermaid Legend from Guam’ by Tanya Taimanglo

The story of Sirena, Guam’s legendary mermaid, is so well-known in the Pacific region that there is probably not a single person who wouldn’t be acquainted with it. This is one of the reasons why every Pasifika aficionado should read, and possess, Tanya Taimanglo’s book.

This particular retelling of the famous folk tale is a real beauty. Embellished with the most gorgeous illustrations – created by the author’s brother, Sonny Chargualaf – it will be an absolute treasure in your home library. Plus, it will definitely draw children’s attention!

‘Princess Hina & the Eel’ by King Kenutu

This is another wonderful book, especially for older children and teenagers.

The story of genuine, eternal love between a princess and a commoner is one of the better-known folk tales in Polynesia. It is captivating, thought-provoking, and timeless in its message. King Kenutu’s version is not only beautifully told but also full of passion that can be felt in each and every word.

The Niuhi Shark Saga by Lehua Parker

Lehua Parker’s saga is a brilliant example of engaging middle grade/young adult literature that’s deeply rooted in the local Polynesian mythology.

Although the series is not based on one particular myth, legend, or folk tale, it draws inspiration from old Hawaiian stories of a shapeshifting shark-man, Nanaue. It is not a retelling of the legend, but you may certainly find some similarities. Who knows, maybe Zader’s adventures will encourage you to delve into ancient tales from the Aloha State…

‘Turtle Songs: A Tale for Mothers and Daughters’ by Margaret Wolfson

This book tells the ancient Fijian myth – especially popular on the island of Kadavu – about the Turtle princess and her daughter.

It’s a classic retelling, gracefully narrated and adorned with lovely – absolutely lovely – watercolours. The illustrations make the story come alive before the reader’s eyes, so even young children will read or listen to this tale with great interest.

ON THE FOURTH DAY OF … MY TRUE LOVE SENT TO ME:

The Scarlet Series by Lani Wendt Young

Lani Wendt Young’s books need no recommendation. After releasing the famous Telesa trilogy a few years ago, the author have recently come back with yet another fantastic series.

The story revolves around Scarlet, a young woman who is forced to return to Samoa after a prolonged absence. And although the occasion is supposed to be joyful – after all it’s her little sister’s wedding – Scarlet is less-than-excited to meet with her family.

This is a truly captivating series with lots of white lies and some very dark secrets. Lani Wendt Young created a fascinating tale, which – despite being extremely funny and light-hearted on the surface – raises an important and quite heavy issues that bring out strong emotions.

As for now, you can enjoy the first two books of the trilogy. The third one is yet to be published.

‘SCARLET SECRETS’ BY LANI WENDT YOUNG

‘Scarlet Secrets’ is the second book in Lani Wendt Young’s new contemporary adult romance series that follows the story of Scarlet, a young Samoan woman who returns to her motherland after years of absence.

SCARLET SECRETS

Summary

Having spent a fabulous and passionate evening with Jackson, Scarlet starts to believe that it might be possible for her to actually survive the Samoan wedding of the year without killing the bride (her sister) or other very important people (the rest of her family) that ought to attend the ceremony. So she puts on a brave face and tries to be a good daughter, an even better sibling, and the best bridesmaid possible.

But, as the big day approaches, the secrets of the past begin to crawl out of the shade into the full Samoan sun. With Jackson’s encouragement, Scarlet decides it’s time to put a stop to the lies and reveal the painful truth.

Review

Yes, she did it again. Lani Wendt Young created another book that is so good, so engaging, so compelling that you simply can’t put it down. But, we’re not surprised, are we? That’s Lani Wendt Young – one of the best writers not only in Pasifika but in the whole wide world.

Those who are familiar with the first instalment of the series may be a little surprised to find out that this once humorous and light-hearted story suddenly got all 50 shades darker. This seems, however, to be typical of the author. If you analyze the famous Telesa trilogy and the first two titles in the Scarlet series, you’ll quickly notice a clearly visible pattern: the first book is an amusing, entertaining introduction that gives you a general idea of what is to follow; the second one tends to be more serious and focused on important and often weighty issues people prefer not to discuss openly; the third one is a powerful culmination that wonderfully sums up the whole tale, keeping you riveted until you reach the end. So, why exactly is this part of Scarlet’s story so dark?

No culture, no country, no nation is perfect. Every single one has its shameful side; something that is ethically wrong and yet deeply rooted in long-established social mores. Lani Wendt Young bravely exposes such disgraceful aspect of the Samoan culture, making it clear that sometimes even the oldest of traditions should…simply evolve. She also explains how cultural inheritance can become more a burden and less a reason for pride. When one has certain responsibilities, obligations, standards to live up to, it is extremely difficult to choose ‘me’ instead of ‘we’. Scarlet fights her own emotions, trying to deal with her painful past without disrespecting the culture she was brought up in. And she fails. One always fails while attempting to reconcile personal beliefs with contrasting cultural values.

Now, although the book is a little more serious, it doesn’t mean it is completely bereft of humour. Scarlet’s sparkling personality really shines through, making even the most disturbing scenes easier to digest. It’s impossible not to have laugh-out-loud moments every few pages, so be prepared for that.

You should also be prepared for hot, steamy, passionate sex. It does exist in this book. Yes, Scarlet gets some. And Jackson gets some. Lani Wendt Young, being a talented writer as she is, managed to paint quite vivid pictures that do not cross the thin line of good taste. And, taking into account Scarlet’s love of food, you can imagine how ‘tasty’ all these descriptions are.

‘Scarlet Secrets’ is a wonderful continuation of the first novel in the series. It’s brilliantly plotted and incredibly well written. It’s amusing, poignant, and thought-provoking at the same time. It’s full of emotions. And it should be a compulsory read. Why? Because it is a real eye-opener that has the power to change people’s minds.

Lani Wendt Young wanted to deliver a certain message. It has been delivered. Loud and clear.

PACIFIC WRITERS YOU SHOULD KNOW (PART 1)

Sieni A.M.

Sieni A.M. is one of the best contemporary Pacific authors who seems to get better and better with every book she writes.

Her debut novel – ‘Illumine Her’ – is a wonderful YA paranormal romance, full of unexpected twists and turns that keep readers riveted from the very first to the very last page. But it’s the second book that fully reveals her talent. ‘Scar of the Bamboo Leaf’ simply delights, and it should be read by every single person, regardless of race, sex, or age. Keeping that in mind, you can’t help but eagerly await her next work.

Albert Wendt

A Samoan living legend. This is how you could describe Albert Wendt – unquestionably one of the greatest Pacific authors of all time.

His exceptionally well-written novels constitute a phenomenal, truthful portrayal of Samoan culture and way of life, so frequently romanticized by foreigners. More than often he broaches the subjects of Samoan diaspora and the relations between Pacific Islanders and ‘white people’, examining the effect the latter have on the traditions of his countrymen.

Lani Wendt Young

They say that talent runs in the family. In case of Albert Wendt and his niece, this is indeed very true.

Lani Wendt Young never ceases to amaze. Her writing style, fantastic sense of humour, and ability to turn great ideas into even greater stories is unmatched. Whether you’ll reach for her famous Telesa series, the new Scarlet trilogy, the collection of short stories, or the account of the 2009 Pacific tsunami, you will be taken on an unforgettable journey, because every publication with Lani Wendt Young’s name on the cover is a promise of something truly extraordinary.

Epeli Hau’ofa

Epeli Hau’ofa was a writer, poet, storyteller, thinker, and mentor, whose beautiful mind created some of the most amazing pieces about the Blue Continent, or ‘sea of islands’, as he used to call it.

Hau’ofa was a versatile author who could write anything, from fiction to short stories to essays to poetry, equally well. Every single of his works is not only highly engaging but also very thought-provoking and thus worth contemplating. It’s impossible to discuss Pacific literature without mentioning at least one (if not all) of his publications.

Célestine Hitiura Vaite

Célestine Hitiura Vaite is one of those authors who have their very own, distinctive style. Not everyone appreciates it, which is quite incomprehensible, because this lady definitely knows how to create a gripping narrative that is funny and poignant at the same time.

Her wonderful trilogy about Materena Mahi, a professional cleaner-turned-radio star, is a literary masterpiece, pure and simple, and a great example of contemporary Pacific fiction. Sadly, the three aforementioned books are Célestine Hitiura Vaite’s only published works, and no new book is on the horizon.

‘SCARLET LIES’ BY LANI WENDT YOUNG

‘Scarlet Lies’ is the first instalment in Lani Wendt Young’s new saga that revolves around a Samoan woman trying to find her place in a traditional small island society. The series is categorized as contemporary adult romance and thus not recommended for a younger audience.

SCARLET LIES

Summary

Scarlet hasn’t been back home for quite a few years. Now, when her little sister – her successful, beautiful, perfect-in-every-way little sister – is getting married, she is forced to travel to Samoa to be a smiling bridesmaid at the wedding of the year. What is even worse, she’s been given the arduous task of escorting her sister’s special wedding dress – a designer creation worthy of its own seat in business class.

So together with the Dress of Destiny, Scarlet boards the plane desperately trying to subdue her overactive imagination. Anti-anxiety medications and complimentary champagne turn out to be a wonderful remedy for her agonizing fear of flying, as does the tall, dark, and incredibly handsome man sitting next to her. Chugging down one glass of bubbly after another and certain that she will never see the beautiful stranger again, Scarlet spills her guts revealing a little too much about her life. She has no idea that Jackson is heading to Samoa to be the best man at his friend’s wedding.

Review

It’s official – Lani Wendt Young is unable to write a bad or even mediocre book. This lady has a rare gift for delivering wonderful stories that are not only highly enjoyable but also very perceptive, quite thought-provoking, delightfully anchored in Samoan culture, and always fabulously written. I guess I have just summed up ‘Scarlet Lies’.

Anyone familiar with the author’s previous works knows that her novels are characterized by well-developed, multi-layered, extremely believable and authentic characters. This novel is no exception. Scarlet is a true heroine. She is not your typical flawless woman. Wait… Actually she is your typical flawless woman. Just because her body is a little bit curvier doesn’t mean she can’t be considered perfect, does it? So yes, Scarlet is the embodiment of perfection – gorgeous, intelligent, confident, fun-loving young lady who isn’t ashamed to admit that she truly enjoys her life. Scarlet’s charming personality makes you fall in love with her – instantly! Quite honestly, she – not Jackson – is the real hottie in this book. Surprised? Well, you shouldn’t be. In Lani Wendt Young’s world nothing is plain, simple, and usual. Which leads us to the next point: fantastic story.

Although the plot is somewhat predictable, it has quite a few ‘layers’ that keep it interesting. One of them is Scarlet’s love-hate relationship with her family: mother, sisters, aunts, cousins. This underlying theme spices up and drives the narrative, making it very ‘relatable’, especially to female readers. We all have those aunties who can’t stop nagging and telling you how you should do this or shouldn’t do that. And if you are, God forbid, a single woman in your 30s… Oh my! Our heroine encounters the exact same problems. Add to that constant comparisons with the bride-to-be and often rude remarks regarding her voluptuous body and you can imagine what it’s like to be in Scarlet’s shoes.

Another intriguing ‘layer’ is the mystery – yet unsolved – that lingers in the background of the story. This first instalment unravels bits from Scarlet’s past – you learn that she was once sent away in disgrace and is basically the black sheep of the family – however, you have no idea what this dark/shameful/terrible secret of hers might be. The author certainly knows how to build up the suspense. Your anticipation of what’s going to happen next is heightened with every single page. And when you reach the last sentence, you are still left wondering.

I must admit that I enjoyed this book very much. It is an engaging read and yet another proof that you can’t praise Lani Wendt Young enough. She is an extremely talented writer who created a delicious novel – seasoned with irony, wit, humour; flavoured with poetic descriptions; garnished with intense passion; coated in relaxed atmosphere of the Samoan archipelago. Tasty, isn’t it?

BEST BOOK SERIES

The Telesa Series by Lani Wendt Young

It is an engaging story of Leila Folger, a young woman from Washington D.C., who comes to Samoa in search of her heritage. As she spends time on the beautiful island, she not only discovers who she really is, but also finds the love of her life.

The series, which is considered Young Adult Paranormal Romance, is suitable for readers of all ages. It is an extremely compelling tale of love, friendship, commitment and devotion, which introduces people to Samoan mythology and the legend of Teine Sa. Every single book of this trilogy is a masterpiece; it’s something you will not regret buying, reading, and rereading over and over again.

The Materena Mahi Series by Celestine Hitiura Vaite

The novels follow Materena Mahi, a young female living in Tahiti. Her seemingly ordinary life is full of surprises and events that constantly turn her little world upside down.

This trilogy is a cultural study of contemporary Tahiti woven into a gripping and written with a great sense of humour story. Celestine Hitiura Vaite created an amazing group of characters, whose trials and tribulations show readers the true value of life and family. These heart-warming novels simply deserve to be read and praised, as they are exceptionally good.

The Niuhi Shark Saga by Lehua Parker

Set in modern Hawaii, the Niuhi Shark Saga is a series of five books that tell the story of Zader, a boy who was found abandoned on a reef and adopted by the Westin family. His life on the island, not an easy one, is full of secrets and mysteries that Zader needs to uncover.

As for now, only two volumes have been published; the third one is due out later this year. This is a wonderful series for children, both boys and girls, but if you ask me, any adult will be more than happy to read it. Lehua Parker did a fantastic job of mixing magic with reality – while reading the books, everyone will be transported to a completely different world of exciting adventures.

The Ancient Tahiti Series by Clare Coleman

It is a story of Tepua, a chief’s daughter, whose canoe is wrecked on the shores of Tahiti. Despite many adversities, despite being a stranger in a foreign land, she learns to live among not always friendly and amiable people. Everything changes when she finally comes back home.

This is an extremely moving and exciting historical trilogy. It takes readers on a wonderful journey to Tahiti, where ancient customs and traditions come to life. It is a truly captivating read. Settings, scenery, characters – everything is just magnificent.

The One Foot Island Trilogy by Graeme Lay

The books tell the story of a teenage girl, Tuaine Takamoa, who leaves her beloved islands to attend school in New Zealand. When she comes back home, she falls in love with Adam, an Australian boy whose parents are not happy with their son’s new relationship.

This is another series for young adults, but, let me tell you, it is a good one! Tuaine is a very believable heroine. The problems and dilemmas she needs to deal with provide readers (both young and old) with interesting insights into the world of teenagers. An alluring titles for adolescents and valuable and educational material for their parents.