A refreshing blend of romance, history and religion that entertains as it informs.

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IN PURSUIT OF LOVE, SPIRITUALITY AND HAPPINESS

Romance, Hawaiian history and spirituality intertwine in Gita’s first novel.

Centered on a couple’s romance and life together, Gita’s book subtly informs readers about Hawaiian history and finding faith—whatever form it may take. The story begins when Jonathan, a wealthy, big-shot banker for his father’s company, takes a vacation to Hawaii to escape his miserable job and oppressive parents. There he meets Oliana, a full-blooded Hawaiian beauty. The plot development is sudden: Their relationship quickly progresses and they get married before he leaves for the continental U.S. Occasionally, the story tells readers rather than shows; while well written, additional detail and buildup could improve the early sections of the book. Even so, the couple’s love and passion is on full display. Oliana teaches her new husband much about Hawaiian history and religion, but after moving to Houston with him, she has a difficult time adjusting to a ritzy lifestyle; she also feels suppressed by her possessive mother-in-law and cold father-in-law. Likewise, Jonathan soon becomes consumed by work, and the passion they shared slowly dwindles. When Oliana returns to her first love—Hawaii—Jonathan searches for and discovers the true meaning of love, happiness and spirituality. Many married readers will be able to relate to Gita’s novel. Despite an engaging story line and a well-rounded supporting cast, the novel could benefit from more description and dialogue to fully flesh out the story line. In covering Hawaiian religion, Christianity and Buddhism, the novel draws attention to spiritual discovery, emphasizing the age-old adage “money can’t buy happiness.”

A refreshing blend of romance, history and religion that entertains as it informs.

Pub Date: July 20, 2009

ISBN: 978-1440139895

Page Count: 196

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2012

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Though gripping, even moving at times, the novel doesn’t do justice to the solemn history from which it is drawn.

CILKA'S JOURNEY

In this follow-up to the widely read The Tattooist of Auschwitz (2018), a young concentration camp survivor is sentenced to 15 years’ hard labor in a Russian gulag.

The novel begins with the liberation of Auschwitz by Soviet troops in 1945. In the camp, 16-year-old Cecilia "Cilka" Klein—one of the Jewish prisoners introduced in Tattooist—was forced to become the mistress of two Nazi commandants. The Russians accuse her of collaborating—they also think she might be a spy—and send her to the Vorkuta Gulag in Siberia. There, another nightmarish scenario unfolds: Cilka, now 18, and the other women in her hut are routinely raped at night by criminal-class prisoners with special “privileges”; by day, the near-starving women haul coal from the local mines in frigid weather. The narrative is intercut with Cilka’s grim memories of Auschwitz as well as her happier recollections of life with her parents and sister before the war. At Vorkuta, her lot improves when she starts work as a nurse trainee at the camp hospital under the supervision of a sympathetic woman doctor who tries to protect her. Cilka also begins to feel the stirrings of romantic love for Alexandr, a fellow prisoner. Though believing she is cursed, Cilka shows great courage and fortitude throughout: Indeed, her ability to endure trauma—as well her heroism in ministering to the sick and wounded—almost defies credulity. The novel is ostensibly based on a true story, but a central element in the book—Cilka’s sexual relationship with the SS officers—has been challenged by the Auschwitz Memorial Research Center and by the real Cilka’s stepson, who says it is false. As in Tattooist, the writing itself is workmanlike at best and often overwrought.

Though gripping, even moving at times, the novel doesn’t do justice to the solemn history from which it is drawn.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-26570-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A classic plot plus Lauren's trademark snark and steam add up to a winning rom-com full of heart and holiday cheer.

IN A HOLIDAZE

A Christmas wish leads to a Christmas nightmare when one woman gets stuck reliving the holiday season, Groundhog Day style.

Things aren’t going as planned for Maelyn Jones. At the age of 26, she’s living with her mom and stepdad, she’s stuck in a dead-end job, and, perhaps most important, she just had an eggnog-filled holiday hookup with Theo Hollis, her family friend and the brother of her unrequited lifelong crush, Andrew Hollis. Maelyn’s spent years waiting for Andrew to notice her as more than a friend, but now she knows she’s screwed things up for good by kissing his brother. The only thing that’s going perfectly in her life is the lovely Park City cabin where her family, Theo and Andrew’s family, and her parents’ other college friends get together every Christmas. But then, on the last day of their vacation, Theo and Andrew’s parents announce that they’re selling the cabin. On the drive to the airport, Maelyn miserably wishes that she could find out what would make her happy…and suddenly, she’s back on the plane to the cabin, pre-Christmas, about to live the whole week over again. With another (and another and another) chance to make things right, will she be able to finally tell Andrew how she feels and discover real happiness? Lauren—the author team behind The Honey-Don’t List (2020) and countless other romantic comedies—is as reliable as ever with this cheery holiday outing. Down-on-her-luck Maelyn is a likable protagonist, and it’s easy to relate to her desire to fix her life (even if most readers don’t have the benefit of time travel). Her conversations with Andrew are adorably banter-filled, and her relationship with her parents’ friend Benny, an aging, wacky stoner, is sweetly charming.

A classic plot plus Lauren's trademark snark and steam add up to a winning rom-com full of heart and holiday cheer.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-982123-94-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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