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review 2015-09-03 07:00
Hawaiian Mythology Transferred into the Present: Ancient Guardians by Kanani Hurley
Ancient Guardians: The Hawaiian Legend of Sharktooth and Hawkeye - Kanani Hurley

Usually, I refuse to read books offered to me by their authors because I dislike too much feeling obliged to write a review, even less within a given time, but I made an exception for Ancient Guardians: The Hawaiian Legend of Sharktooth and Hawkseye by Kanani Hurley. The fact that she promoted her novel as Hawaiian folklore and mythology roused my curiosity, and despite me, I asked her to send me a copy. The book arrived about a month ago with a friendly covering letter and two sample bags of – most delicious – macadamias from Hawai’i.


Already at first sight I felt that the author probably had younger readers than me in mind when she wrote her novel. This is because its cover reminds me of the one or other children’s book that I had ages ago. Each chapter is introduced by black-and-white ki’i or images imitating ancient petroglyphes that can be found all over the Hawaiian Islands and necessarily looking like what we call today “primitive” or “naïve” art from the modern Euro-American point of view. It’s a nice idea and I like the ki’i. For the rest, I believe that above all teenagers and young adults may love this novel and its planned sequels, while at my age I find it a bit difficult to relate to the child heroine.


Kawehi, usually called Wehi, is a girl of about ten years living in a house on the island of Kaua’i with her parents and her adored older brother Kahoku. Her life is happy and carefree, not to say paradisiacal, until the first school day after summer vacation when Kahoku goes surfing with friends and in an attempt to save one of them drowns in the sea. The family is devastated, even more so because it seems odd to them that an outstanding surfer and swimmer like him should have died like this, but then the water was quite rough that day and tragic accidents happen. For Wehi her brother’s death is particularly hard and she reproaches herself for not having warned him in the morning when she had a feeling that something bad was going to happen. After the funeral Grandpa Ke Ali’i does his best to console or rather distract Wehi telling her the old Hawaiian legend of the ‘aumākua, the guardian spirits of the Hawaiians in the shapes of shark, owl and hawk, as a bedtime story. From this point the rather conventional family saga turns into a captivating fantasy thriller because Wehi and her entire family are forced to deal with a band of malicious ‘aumākua seeking their lives. And in due course old as well as new family ‘aumākua appear to protect its members.


To my great regret Ancient Guardians: The Hawaiian Legend of Sharktooth and Hawkseye by Kanani Hurley isn’t a stand-alone-novel, but the first part of a series. However absorbing the plot of this first volume may be, the cliff-hanger at the end leaves me disappointed, dissatisfied and annoyed. It’s not just that I’ve never been particularly fond of book series. I believe that the loose end is too important, but maybe this is only how I feel about it. At any rate, Kanani Hurley did an excellent job interweaving legend with fiction as well as personal experience not to say grief and I hope that she’ll see the remaining parts of the series published as well.


Ancient Guardians:

The Hawaiian Legend of Sharktooth and Hawkseye

by Kanani Hurley


ISBN: 9781478759249

Outskirts Press
242 pages

S.R.P.: $17.95

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review 2013-04-15 07:27
Edith Wharton: The House of Mirth
The House of Mirth - Edith Wharton,Janet Beer

The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton tells the story of the social descent of Lily Bart, a beautiful woman of twenty-nine years who belongs to a distinguished New Yorker family. When the chronicle begins, both her parents have been dead for years and Lily, who has no money of her own to support herself, is staying with her wealthy widowed aunt Mrs. Peniston because no suitor seems good enough to her. Approaching thirty her choice of suitable bachelors is already diminishing like her youth, and yet the idea of depending on a husband doesn’t particularly thrill her. She senses that a marriage of convenience will bore her and unconsciously lets slip good opportunities that present themselves. She even risks being compromised on several occasions when she is seen coming from the flat or house of married or unmarried male friends where she had been alone with them without anything happening really. In addition, she smokes, gambles high and runs into debt. When she turns towards her (married) friend Gus Trenor for financial help, her fate is sealed. Lily gets caught in a downward spiral nurtured by intrigues and gossip from people who she considered as friends. Little by little she loses her position in the circles of the old rich and is forced to work for her living although her education hasn’t equipped her with any useful skills for that purpose. Her reputation as ruined as her finances and her chances for a good match, Lily is even tempted to blackmail a former friend who betrayed her husband at one point and cuts her, but then she burns the compromising letters.


Times have changed in many respects, but certainly not in all. In our modern consumer society appearances are still as important as they were a hundred years ago. Those of us who fail or don’t fit in are dropped and left to themselves like Lily is. Also intrigues and gossip are part of our daily lives. If we like it or not, people haven’t changed that much after all and that is what make Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth  is surprisingly modern. I enjoyed the read.


For the full review please click here to go to Edith's Miscellany!

Source: edith-lagraziana.blogspot.com
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review 2013-04-05 12:03
The Almond Tree by Michelle Cohen Corasanti
The Almond Tree - Michelle Cohen Corasanti

In January I was so lucky to win this book. The title sounds lovely and makes believe the same about the story told in it, but this assumption proves completely wrong already in the very first chapter. In fact, the story has more in common with Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables than with any of the romances on best selling lists. The novel deals with suppression and cruelty, with fear and hatred, with prejudice and ignorance. And it gives hope showing that there are ways out of the vicious circle after all.The Almond Tree isn’t a light bedtime read likely to favour sweet dreams. The story isn’t amusing, nor very imaginative since it’s too realistic. The persons described and the events in their lives are invented, but sadly many Palestinians had and have lives very much like theirs. The author wishes to show that reconciliation is possible if both sides let go the hatred, tried to understand what is behind it and worked together for peace and prosperity. She makes Ichmad repeat his father’s words: “Only forgiveness will set you free.” (p. 191) However, I’m afraid that Michelle Cohen Corasanti’s message won’t reach the people who really need to open their minds and hearts in Israel, in Palestine, everywhere.All things considered The Almond Tree is a very good book. I liked the novel and I’m happy to have been given a chance to read it.


For more see my blog: http://edith-lagraziana.blogspot.co.at/2013/02/the-almond-tree-by-michelle-cohen.html

Source: edith-lagraziana.blogspot.com
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