Tag Archives: Tanya Taimanglo

BEST BOOKS ABOUT WOMEN FOR WOMEN

The Materena Mahi Series by Celestine Hitiura Vaite

This trilogy is about being a woman – a partner, a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a cousin, a professional, a star. It’s about caring for those you love but not forgetting about yourself. It’s about having a dream and chasing it. It’s about not being scared. It’s about taking the risk and getting what you really want from life.

‘Afakasi Woman’ by Lani Wendt Young

What does it mean to be an afakasi woman? To belong neither here nor there? To be too brown to be white and too white to be brown? It’s not always easy. There are hardships; there are trials, and tribulations. But there are also hopes, triumphs, and joys. Because women – regardless of their colour, race, culture – know how to be strong even in the worst of times.

‘Secret Shopper’ by Tanya Taimanglo

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. When Phoenix’s husband tells her he’s leaving, her entire world falls apart. But she knows that she needs to take hold of herself and this new situation she’s found herself in if she wants her little world to get back to normal again. She quickly learns that life is full of surprises and that happiness can wait just around the corner. You just have to believe and never ever give up.

The Scarlet Series by Lani Wendt Young

You can’t choose your family. But you can choose what impact your family will have on you. Even though Scarlet’s past doesn’t let her forget about itself, she finds motivation to let go of it and – for the first time in her life – have a little bit of (steamy) fun. Well, that’s what girls wanna do when they meet a deliciously divine man.

‘Freelove’ by Sia Figiel

Growing up is hard. Growing up in Samoa is even harder. Inosia happens to know an awful lot about it. Restricted by her culture, she’s wondering whether love can ever be free; whether a woman has the right to desire, pleasure, and sexual fulfillment. If so, at what cost?

WRITTEN BY…TANYA TAIMANGLO

‘Secret Shopper’

This romantic comedy tells the story of Phoenix, a young woman who is forced to change her entire life after her marriage falls apart.

Tanya Taimanglo wrote a fabulous novel. Not only is it extremely enjoyable to read, but also – or rather most importantly – charged with positive energy. Phoenix is truly inspiring and her experiences joyfully uplifting.

For who: Definitely for women; especially those who are insecure, who have no hope for a better future, or who simply need a little pick-me-up book.

‘Attitude 13: A Daughter Of Guam’s Collection Of Short Stories’

This collection of 13 stories provides readers with fascinating insights into the lives of various Chamorro people, who try to reconcile their Micronesian traditions with modernity.

Although quite short, this book is a must-read. The narratives are a nice mix of light-hearted tales, which aim to entertain, and a little bit more thought-provoking pieces, which offer well-known but often forgotten words of wisdom.

For who: For everyone. For younger and for older. For men and for women. For people interested in Guam and Chamorro culture.

‘Sirena: A Mermaid Legend from Guam’

The heroine of this tale is Sirena, a young Chamorro girl who adores nature. Her life changes forever when she gets cursed by her own mother.

This is a retelling of an old Chamorro legend, which comes with a moral lesson. Beautifully written and adorned with even more beautiful illustrations, it is a book to keep. Great alternative for popular children’s stories.

For who: For children, especially girls; but also for their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents.

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.

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.

A CHAT WITH… TANYA TAIMANGLO

Who doesn’t know the famous Wonder Woman from Guam? Tanya Taimanglo, one of the most talented writers from the Pacific region, very kindly answered a few questions about her novel, ‘Secret Shopper’. Hopefully we won’t have to wait long for her next book…

TANYA TAIMANGLO

Pasifika Tales: ‘Secret Shopper’ – fiction or maybe not?

Tanya Taimanglo: I’ve been asked this a lot, especially from family and friends. Safe answer? Fiction, rooted in some personal experiences.

PT: You created a set of extremely believable characters. Who was your inspiration?

TT: Phoenix, the main goddess in training in my story was an alternate version of me. I used her to get through feelings of loss, especially about losing my father and leaving Guam. The family in this story mirrors mine to an extent, especially the comical but loving Korean mother. The ex from hell, well, no comment. And, Thomas, sigh…perhaps a culmination of all my dream guys’ traits.

PT: Quite honestly… How personal is this novel for you?

TT: I would say it’s extremely personal. I wrote it during many midnight sessions like I was possessed, and because my young children were asleep. I’d share the events with my mother who sat eagerly every morning to hear what happened to Phoenix next, like she was some friend I was gossiping about. Phoenix was the young girl who could, one who was more adventurous than me.

PT: The name of the main female character – Phoenix – is not entirely coincidental, is it?

TT: I love everything that a phoenix represents. I like the idea of rebirth and second chances, so no it was not coincidental; Phoenix was named so because she deserved it.

PT: ‘Secret Shopper’ is not just a romance. It’s a beautiful tale of self-discovery. Was it your intention from the beginning?

TT: I don’t think I started out the story knowing this. Themes arise like cream sometimes. I knew the events and the ending, but as I wrote her journey, I didn’t want it to be cliché. Girl meets boy and falls in love? So boring. I wanted it to be girl loses boy, meets her true self, and then falls in love with new boy only if he was worthy.

PT: You are from Guam, which is something you’re obviously very proud of. There are quite a few references to the island and Chamorro culture in your book…

TT: So, yes, I am proud. You are a great observer. Being Chamorro, especially one living in the states, we often times wear our culture on our sleeves. (Literally, so we could be identified by others). I made many references to Guam and some of my observations came through as one who left the island for some time and returns with a different ‘prescription’ of sorts in viewing their home. It is an identifiable phenomenon with the diaspora.

PT: For those who don’t know much about Guam… Could you ‘explain’ the ‘cultural tidbits’ that appear in ‘Secret Shopper’?

TT: Gosh. Food? The cuisine is mentioned quite a bit, from kelaguen to barbecue. There are references to songs and legends, as in our mermaid tale, Sirena. The weather on Guam is its own character too. There are also observations of the people and their behaviors. And, the way Phoenix exists in the world is a result of her Chamorro/Korean upbringing.

PT: I cannot refrain myself from asking… When can we expect a new book from Tanya Taimanglo?

TT: Please ask, I consider it a fire under my writer’s butt. I have several projects in both women’s lit and Young Adult genres in the works. I’m looking forward to releasing, indie style or via an agent and publisher, YA stories. My arsenal is building up, but I’ve found less time to write and edit lately. I do have ‘Attitude 13 Volume 2’ in the works, and that is firming up to be my next release. Let’s hope within the year. Some stories require more baking time than others.

‘SECRET SHOPPER’ BY TANYA TAIMANGLO

‘Secret Shopper’ is a first novel written by Tanya Taimanglo. It’s a romantic comedy that follows a young woman whose whole universe is suddenly turned upside down.

SECRET SHOPPER

Summary

Life is not always a fairytale, and Phoenix certainly knows that. When Bradley, her high school sweetheart husband, calmly tells her their marriage is over, she realizes there’s absolutely nothing she can do to change that. But she may do something else – she can start again from scratch and rebuild her own little world.

With a positive encouragement from her best friend, Nix gets a grip and becomes a true goddess she was always meant to be. She begins to enjoy life and thrive in her job as a secret shopper. While on assignment, she meets a handsome man whose charm is impossible to resist.

Review

At first glance this book may seem like a typical light-hearted romance, where two people fall madly in love with each other and – after overcoming several formidable obstacles – live happily ever after. But, start reading – take a second glance – and you’ll soon discover that this novel is so much more. It is light-hearted, yes. Its main characters indeed fall in love with each other – not madly though. And there are really no obstacles they need to surmount to live happily ever after. By the way, do they live happily ever after? Well, you don’t expect me to give you such spoilers, do you?

‘Secret Shopper’ scores high on all fronts – from storyline and characters to style in which it is written. The latter makes the book a true pleasure to read. Tanya Taimanglo is a former English teacher, so she knows exactly how to put thoughts into words. In terms of language and tone, this title is a very contemporary work. Even though the author shows, not tells, you won’t find here any yawn-inducing descriptions, elaborate sentences, incomprehensible expressions. This is not to say the book is plain; oh no, it is not! It’s clear and straightforward; extremely well-crafted, and adorned with feminine humour – remarkably uplifting – that will certainly bring a smile to your face. Tanya Taimanglo didn’t even try to impress readers with her impeccable writing skills. But that’s exactly what she did by creating a novel that’s beautiful in its simplicity.

The story itself unfolds at a lively pace, and each chapter compels you to read another. The narrative is quite brilliantly constructed, I must say. Untypically for this kind of genre, it has ebbs and flows that gently carry you through the pages instead of progressively raising tension that leads to one powerful climax. It’s pretty much like the human’s existence – we experience constant ups and downs; every single day little occurrences we sometimes don’t even notice affect our behaviour and shape our choices. We don’t wait for the big storm to happen – we just live. This may be the reason why the plot is so incredibly believable and easy to relate to – this is not a fairytale you dream of, but a story solidly anchored in reality.

The narrative of ‘Secret Shopper’ wouldn’t be so convincing if it weren’t driven by strong characters. Especially Phoenix, the heroine and female voice of the story, is thoroughly lovable. She is one of those woman you pass by on the street – a woman that has her issues, deals with one hundred problems a minute, and does everything possible to lead a happy life. Her incredible journey of self-discovery, of becoming a better (or the best) version of herself makes you cheer for her. For her and for Thomas. When the two meet, the chemistry between them cannot be denied. Chemistry, not love at first sight. Despite the evident attraction, Phoenix lets this relationship develop naturally. She doesn’t try to rush things that need time to grow. Because there is one important lesson she learns along the way: you should never make your self-worth dependant upon others; love and value yourself and then let others do the same. A protagonist with such mature attitude is a very refreshing change from your typical romantic comedy characters. Don’t you agree?

Another interesting feature of this novel are constant references to Chamorro culture, which give the book a nice multicultural dimension. A perceptive reader will be able to ‘see’ Guam in little snippets about the island’s food, legends, beliefs, traditions, practices. These are not insights that may help you get to know the Micronesian country, but if you’re already familiar with it, you’ll surely enjoy this added bonus.

Tanya Taimanglo managed to create a charming and quite thought-provoking novel, which – I would say – should be a mandatory read for every self-conscious, insecure woman. It’s perfect for long winter evenings and warm summer days. And it proves that it is possible to write a romantic comedy that is not only sweet but also funny and – most importantly – intelligent.

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

‘Secret Shopper’ by Tanya Taimanglo

A romance novel always makes a nice gift, especially during Christmastime. And ‘Secret Shopper’ is definitely the best pick in this category!

The book revolves around Phoenix, a young woman who is suddenly left alone after finding out about her husband’s infidelity. Forced to find a job, she steps into the world of secret shopping. While on assignment, she meets Thomas.

This is not one of those cheesy, easy to predict love stories. Oh no! Tanya Taimanglo managed to create a heart-warming tale with quite a few surprising twists and turns. It’s a book that inspires and makes you believe that you and ONLY you are responsible for your own life. Highly, highly recommended!

PACIFIC WRITERS YOU SHOULD KNOW (PART 2)

Tanya Taimanglo

Tanya Taimanglo is one of the best-known Chamorro authors. Although she’s been living in the US for quite a long time now, her love for Guam can be easily noticed in all of her works.

A versatile writer, Tanya pens books for children, the most amazing and thought-provoking short stories, and marvelously good novels. Her exceptional writing skills, wit and wisdom, as well as gentle sense of humour make every title a true pleasure to read.

Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner

Those who are interested in climate change has probably already heard Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner’s moving poem ‘Dear Matafele Peinem’, which she recited during the opening of the 2014 UN Climate Summit. And this is only one of many incredible pieces this talented Marshallese artist has created.

Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner is a poet, writer, performer, and journalist. Her poems are more like stories than anything else – poignant, straightforward, focused on raising awareness about some of the most important issues. They’re deeply touching when read. When declaimed by the author… It cannot be described. It must be felt.

John Saunana

John Saunana was a great poet and novelist from Solomon Islands, whose books – most notably his fictional story that depicts the country’s colonial past – are one of the best works in Melanesian literature.

The author wrote only one novel, which is very unfortunate considering the enormous talent he had. ‘The Alternative’ is therefore a must-read and virtually the only way to get acquainted with John Saunana’s genius.

Sia Figiel

Sia Figiel is unquestionably one of the most acclaimed female novelists from the Pacific Islands. This woman of great insight and even greater talent is, much like Albert Wendt, synonymous with Samoan literature.

In her books, Sia Figiel focuses on culturally important themes, which are gracefully wrapped in her beautiful, poetic prose. She delights, amazes, provokes. She entertains and moves. She captivates. But most of all, she leaves no one indifferent.

Lehua Parker

The one name that immediately comes to mind when one thinks about Children and Young Adult Pacific Literature is, of course, Lehua Parker. Indeed, she is most famous for her excellent Niuhi Shark Saga. However, and this is something you might not know, she also writes (equally excellent) stories for a little bit older readers.

All of Lehua Parker’s tales are set in Hawaii and ooze that mysterious Hawaiian charm. With each page you get to know the incredibly fascinating culture of the archipelago slightly better, you understand more, and you discover the world you may not have realized existed. Young or old, this author has something for everyone!

BEST READ-MORE-THAN-ONCE BOOKS

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

This incredible story of love between a physically-flawed artist girl and a troubled, misunderstood boy is nothing short of – I dare to say – a masterpiece.

Right from the very first page, the novel grabs your attention and doesn’t let go. A few chapters later, it touches your heart and starts messing with your feelings. The next thing you know, you’re officially hooked. Lush Samoan settings; more than believable characters; well-written, well-paced, thoroughly engaging narrative; words that make you think. What more could you wish for? It is a stunning book. Complex, poignant, thought-provoking, deeply moving. Just beautiful.

‘We Are the Ocean’ by Epeli Hauʻofa

This is an exquisite collection of exquisite essays, public lectures, and poems, in which Epeli Hauʻofa shares his thoughts concerning Pasifika – the great sea of islands.

Written with passion and genuine love for Oceania, the publication can be regarded as unique – truly unique – teaching material. It informs and educates. It enlightens. It inspires. The author’s words, opinions, and ideas are of great significance and should definitely be pondered upon. What can I say, this book is a keeper!

‘Attitude 13: A Daughter of Guam’s Collection of Short Stories’ by Tanya Taimanglo

Tanya Taimanglo’s tales offer a rare and most fascinating glimpse into the lives of various Chamorro people, who try to reconcile their traditions and heritage with modernity.

Even if you read this book hundreds of times, you always discover something new: an inspirational passage, a conveyed between the lines message, a hidden meaning of the story. The narratives are a great reminder of those eternal truths we tend to forget. But, most importantly, they are also a sheer delight to read. Beautifully written, embellished with vivid imagery and a gentle sense of humour, they take you on a wonderful journey to the island of Guam. And – I should mention this – it’s a journey you don’t want to end.

‘Sons for the Return Home’ by Albert Wendt

This story of a cross-racial romance between a Samoan student at Auckland University and a girl from a wealthy pālagi family is one of the most important works in the history of Pacific Literature.

It is a cleverly constructed page-turner, which keeps you riveted from the very first to the very last sentence. Most likely, it is the result of Albert Wendt’s terse, unornamented writing style – thoroughly charming (oh yes, it is charming!) and totally unique. With this ‘shortness’, this lack of descriptive language the author gets right to the point, making the novel all the more powerful. One of the best reads ever; absolutely.

‘Tales of the South Pacific’ by James A. Michener

A Pulitzer Prize-winning book must be extraordinary. And this collection of interconnected stories about World War II certainly is.

Michener’s novel is an emotional roller-coaster ride; thrilling, quite nerve-racking, at times disturbing. And yet it makes you want to come back for more. The war-torn ‘paradise’, the complex characters, the South Seas atmosphere… Some say it’s a good book. I say it’s truly a literary classic. James Michener at his best.

A CHAT WITH… TANYA TAIMANGLO

Not only is she an extremely talented writer, but also an utterly lovely person. A mother and a wife, a true Wonder Woman – Tanya Taimanglo – agreed to answer a few questions regarding her book, ‘Attitude 13’, as well as her beloved Guam. Here’s what she had to say…

TANYA TAIMANGLO

Pasifika Tales: Why did you decide to write ‘Attitude 13’?

Tanya Taimanglo: There wasn’t a large body of Chamorro literature out there in 2010, and what was available was mainly textbook style or history. There was some fiction and I wanted to add a collection of stories that reflected the culture of Guam. I think we, Chamorros, need it.

PT: Where did you draw your inspiration from?

TT: I’ve always loved writing and much of my writing reflects how I was raised in a Chamorro-Korean household. Tie in an American influence, and I guess you have me. I observe life around me. I people watch and spin off scenarios in my mind and jot those down as well. Some of these observations will be inspiring enough to flesh out into a short story or full novel.

PT: Are any of the stories based on real-life events?

TT: There are 13 short stories in my collection and while none of them are directly autobiographical, many strands of my life are woven into these narratives. Characters may mirror people I know, but I hope that universal themes presented in these stories tie the reader to the text.

PT: Which story do you like the most?

TT: That’s a tough one. I love some stories more than others, but I have to say I’m quite fond of ‘Off Road’, the 13th story. I love cinema and would like to believe that one day a Chamorro will win an Oscar.

PT: Would you say that your book describes the real Guam?

TT: That’s a tricky question. On one hand, my stories serve as ambassadors to the culture for those outside of it, on the other hand, the people I hope the stories reflect may not feel as if describes the ‘real Guam’. I don’t stress about that too much. The stories are my interpretation of the Chamorro culture I love. It’s my form of art and I would hope the real Guam comes through.

PT: What do you love about the island?

TT: Guam will always be my home. I miss the warm weather, the sense of family and the slower pace of island living.

PT: And what do you hate?

TT: I don’t miss the ravages of typhoons quite frankly. I once managed without electricity for about 8 weeks, with spotty water service too. I recall getting ready for my ten year high school reunion using bottled water to bathe. Definitely don’t miss that.

PT: Chamorro culture is worth cultivating, isn’t it?

TT: Definitely! All culture is. I don’t speak my native tongue, which I can change over time and practice. But, I do impart on my children aspects of our culture I value as tenets for my life. We are a strong, proud people who have endured so much. I come from a line that dates back to 2,000 B.C. That is remarkable. True, there is no pure Chamorro, but the culture is wonderful and we must keep it alive.

PT: You’ve been living in mainland US for quite a few years. Can you see yourself coming back to Guam one day?

TT: I never say never. As a Navy spouse, Washington State is my home now, and formerly San Diego, California. When I got married on Guam, ten years ago, I made my husband promise we would come back some day. I will always love my island home. I don’t know where the next ten years will take us, but I know I will have a warm, sunny place to return to if I needed.