Monday, May 14, 2012


I never intended to write book reviews on this blog since I don’t read a lot (a horrible excuse for an English major), but when I finished the last page of this particular novel, I had so much I wanted to say. So here is my very first book review... Telesa: The Covenant Keeper, by Lani Wendt Young.
image via Amazon


A Samoan writer I follow on Twitter RT’d a tweet from Mrs. Young, and I remembered the name Wendt on a novel that I read in college (well, attempted to read—I really was a pathetic English Lit student). I thought maybe she was related to that author, so I started following her. She has a blog that resonates with me, about being Samoan, being a mother, being a writer, and getting through each day. From the blog I learned she is in the process of publishing a second book to a Pacific young adult fiction series, so I had to read the first one. Lucky for me, it has been discounted on Amazon Kindle to promote said sequel, so I snatched it. 

And I believe that deal is still going; so if you want to grab your copy at a discount, get it now!


After her father’s passing, Leila Folger did the one thing her dad promised her not to do: go to Samoa. She left the only surviving family she knew—a rich shrew for a grandmother—to live with new family that wished she never came—surly Aunty Matile and Uncle Tuala—in hopes to find out who her mother was. She never expected what followed: a world alien to what she knew, a boy who would change everything, a secret unspeakable to all the island, and a power locked where she was the key.


This book has been coined the Twilight of Samoa, and for good reason. There is a very distinct resemblance to the famous series: an introverted female lead who moves to an entirely new place for reasons even she doesn’t fully understand; a hot guy who makes every female reader wish their own significant others were as perfect as he; a supernatural flair and creative insight to old legends, and enough romance to keep the young adult readers wanting more.

But as far as my opinion goes, the Twilight series has nothing on Telesa. The vampire/werewolf stories never get old, but the telesa (teh-leh-SAH) is a fascinating Samoan legend that could just as easily capture the heart of the Western world. Now I have to mention, reading this book for me was learning about my culture. I could relate a little bit to Leila: I am half Samoan from California, who knows very little about the culture, has never been to the motherland, and certainly has never heard of telesa until now. This book was as close to being there for me as it gets, and Lani Wendt Young paints such a beautiful picture of Samoa that maybe I won’t feel so intimidated and actually go there one day.

The storyline was predictable, yet I couldn’t put the book down. I would think, “I bet this is gonna happen,” and then I'd turn the page and shriek, “I knew it!” But I loved that, because I loved what happened. The story was so fun to read. The characters are lovable, except for Grandmother Folger and Sarona, who are easily unlikable. I had issues with Leila (she’s almost as irritating as Bella), but I commend her for her inner strength and her heart, especially towards the end. And Daniel is perfect. Too perfect. I have never liked tattoos until I read them on this guy's body. ;-) Everything about him is a dream, though his romantic lines are borderline cheesy. Are Samoan guys that cheesy? Where were they when I was single? (Just kidding, Sweetie!)  But I guess that’s what makes a good YA Fantasy Romance novel – a hot boy with cheesy, swoon-worthy lines.


Ok, I have to dock it on some points. One of my issues is that Leila is unbelievable as an American. Since it’s written in fist person with Leila as the narrator, seeing her think with words like “jandals” and “meters” throws me off. Clearly, those are not American colloquialisms, and I wish the author had been more careful with that. Or at least written in third person instead of first so the need to use foreign jargon could have been avoided. My guess is that Young didn’t anticipate her book being read to an American audience.

I also feel “less is more” could apply well here. The writing at times was redundant; I could understand and picture what the author was trying to convey instantly, so much so that any reiteration was unnecessary, even a bit annoying. But, again referring to Twilight, I’ve read worse. And that is the nature of a YA novel.


YES! A thousand times yes! It’s a great fantasy story, a great young adult love story, a great cultural story. It has action, humor, drama, great characters, FOOD (I forgot to mention that... ohh the foooood!), and big scenes. And I mean, BIG scenes. Like volcanoes. I’ve already decided that Hollywood HAS to make it (J.J. Abrams-slash-James Cameron), but the actors have to be Samoan. I know if they filmed on location in Samoa or New Zealand then they could find tons of "qualified" actors. But all I know is the U.S. part of the screen actors guild, so I'll just stick with that pool. Young already has her Hollywood leads picked should they fail to find Samoans, but I have some ideas too. I do love Michael Trevino as Daniel, though.

Michael Trevino of "The Vampire Diaries" -- could pass for afakasi
with a good tan, tatau, and a rugby ball.
(image via M.T. Romania)

Ok, here are my picks of people to play the characters, some actors, some personal acquaintances (who are gonna murder me for putting them on here!):

#2 Daniel choice: Jason Momoa of "Conan" -- already Samoan, already an actor
... and cleans up pretty nicely.
(image via Man Central)
Leila: Lanea Snow -- Samoan model, dancer, and a friend of mine. (I'm sooo gonna get it! :-P)
 She was Leila for me. No one else.
(Except me, of course. ;-) Even then, in my mind I looked like her. lol)
(image via Model Mayhem)
Nafanua: Tia Carrere -- not Samoan or Polynesian, but at least local. And in Hollywood.
And can pass for Lanea's mom.
(image via UGO)

Jason: somebody with Chris Pine's charm and Zach Roerig's looks
... or either of them.
(images via Famous Wallpapers and Wikia)
Sarona: Teuila Blakely from "Sione's Wedding" -- I don't know her nor have I seen "Sione's Wedding"
but she's gorgeous and was in a movie. She could also be Nafanua #2.
(image via Johnson & Laird)

"Simone": "Maiesha" Taulogo -- not an actor (excuse me, actress), but obviously doesn't need to be.
Total fabulousness. hands. down.
(image via Marianna Ah Quin Photography)

Read the book, even if you're not a fan of YA fiction. Or Samoan. Trust me, you'll be pleasantly surprised.

(And J.J. Abrams: if you are reading this post... think about it.)


  1. YOU ARE GONNA GIT IT!!!!!!!!!!!OMG I was on fb and was wondering wat all of these posts were and thinking, huh? Maybe they got me mixed up with someone else, until I saw a link. Ok Ms English major-hott-mama-book-reviewer: first of all, I think you should be a professional book reviewer (like the kind that they give 2 thumbs up for books they like).

    Second of all, YOU HAD TOTALLY MADE My ENTIRE MONTH!!!! Girl, I have been in and out of being depressed for months and this was honestly the biggest pick-me-up I'd ever ever read in a LONG time.

    Esther, I cannot tell you how much u made me entire past few months just by ur nice things you have said. I LOV EYOU!

    1. Ok wait, my post is on FACEBOOK??? Who the- that's what I get! (Crap... does Maiyesha know!?)

      Awww, Nea, you just made MY month!! I guess we both needed a pick-me-up, because I haven't felt this good about something I've done (or written) in a long time! Thank you thank you for YOUR kind words to ME! You're the best! I love you back! x

  2. girl you got me wanting to read this book now. that's gonna be my next book to attack ;)

    1. oooh girl i hope you read it! it's fierce, just like you! :-) and thank you for letting me steal your photo to put on this post lol!! you're the bomb-dot-com photographer! (speaking of which, i'ma need your services soon!)


Oooh, so you read my post? Yipee! Let me know what you think! I'd love your two-cents on the matter!