An offbeat romance that draws on Hawaiian mystical beliefs.


Debut author Kayne offers a historical love story with supernatural elements, featuring a horseback-riding Hawaiian woman with unusual abilities.

This novel is the first in a planned series featuring women of the Hawaiian islands. Leticia “Letty” Lili‘uokalani Lang has always felt a warmth inside herself—a fire that urges her to try things, to be brave and bold. But it also led her parents to send her away to a boarding school in San Francisco in 1906 to learn to stop making “a complete spectacle of herself.” Now, in 1909, she’s returned to her native Hawaii, having picked up some veterinary skills; those who ran the boarding school introduced her to a vet after she showed talent with animals. She hopes to eventually become one of the first female professional veterinarians, with a focus on horses, but it will take some work to convince her family of this idea. While visiting her godmother, Princess Kahōkūlani, Letty meets the grandson of an English countess, Timothy Rowley, and problematically calls him an “ass and a moron.” But Timothy soon realizes Letty is not foolish, as he first thought, but in fact quite knowledgeable when it comes to the horses on his ranch; she even saves a pregnant mare from certain death. However, as Letty prepares to leave the island, and Timothy, for California, her godmother reveals that the fire that Letty has felt all her life is, in fact, a power that allows her to heal others—and possibly destroy others, as well. Over the course of the novel, Kayne gives readers a vivid portrait of Hawaii in the early 20th century, when the native Hawaiian monarchy had been forced to abdicate but still maintained cultural power. Along the way, the author sprinkles in enough Hawaiian terms to give the reader a sense of the sound of the language, and smoothly provides translations in the course of the storytelling. The central love story between Letty and Timothy, and the plotline involving Letty’s coming to terms with her abilities, would be enough to make this novel an entertaining read, but a subplot involving a fugitive horse thief adds further depth to the story.

An offbeat romance that draws on Hawaiian mystical beliefs.

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-73360-770-4

Page Count: 358

Publisher: Passionflower Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2019

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A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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