Book of the week: Almost Paradise by Laurie Hanan

I would like to introduce a new feature to this blog: Book of the Week. Every week I will share a book with you that I have enjoyed……or not!

Once an English teacher, always an English teacher.

For my debut post in this category I am choosing Almost Paradise written by my friend and neighbor and local member of the Jewish community (and Kapolei SJS Carpool driver), Laurie Hanan.

It you didn’t get an autographed copy from me for Chanukkah or Christmas or because I had lunch with you recently, then you should order a copy from Amazon and read it right away. If you want an autograph, let me know…I have a few connections.

While the book does not have a lot of Jewish content, it has a few Israeli characters and some references to Hebrew. But that’s not why I like the book. Besides the good story, I like the book because of the local setting. The author (my friend Laurie) captures what it feels like to live in Hawaii without overdoing it. The local flavor is delicious! I guess you could say that the book is not about Hawaii, it is set in Hawaii.

My two favorite parts are the beginning and the end. I liked getting to know the characters. It was hard at first to separate the heroine: Louise Golden from Laurie Hanan. I kept wanting them to be the same person. She uses details from her life to color her characters, but they are not her or her family, just minor reflections of each. Once I was able to separate myself from that, I settled into the story. You probably won’t have that problem unless you know Laurie.

I usually hate the end of books and movies and TV shows.  Mostly I am  disappointed that the story is over and I have to put the characters away. It’s hard to just end, life doesn’t work that way. That did not happen with this book. It was the opposite. The ending was beautiful. I felt like I was there, not reading about it.

Laurie wove  a wonderful portrayal of local lifestyle into a good old-fashioned murder mystery. I keep thinking I might run into Louise Golden one of these days.

I hear Laurie has a new book coming out soon, another Louise Golden mystery. Perfect, now I know what to give people for Chanukkah next year.

You can read more about her characters and her books all on her blog: West of the Equator.

13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. lauriehanan
    Feb 28, 2012 @ 17:48:56

    Thank you, Lorrie. I am truly honored to have you as a neighbor, and count you as a friend. I enjoy your blog more than any other.
    Part of my reason for writing ALMOST PARADISE is that I adore mysteries. I wanted to convey through this story that people are more alike than different. In Louise Golden, I set out to create a character who everyone can relate to. She’s no superhero. In fact she’s gone out of her way to live a no-commitment life. But her heart won’t let her walk away from someone who truly needs her help. This, of course, gets her into plenty of trouble. I also wanted to show that a story can be fun without foul language, graphic violence, or graphic sex. One can read my books and rest assured that nothing too horrible is going to happen, and the animals and children will always fare better than the adults.
    The proof copy of the second Louise Golden mystery, HOW FAR IS HEAVEN? arrived in my mailbox yesterday. It sits on my desk awaiting corrections. It should be available through Amazon sometime in March, and will also be available on Kindle very shortly.


    • Being Jewish in Hawaii
      Feb 28, 2012 @ 17:59:46

      Thank you, Laurie. Besides the fact that both you and your husband have great names, we enjoy being together with your family in the West Side Jewish Community! Maybe that’s why I like Louise so much, I once aspired to a no-commitment life-style. How did I get so far off track! Can’t wait for the next book. Aloha…


  2. Robert Spiller
    Feb 29, 2012 @ 17:50:32

    Laurie, I am not Jewish and don’t live in Hawaii (although I’d love to; I live in Colorado, which is beautiful as well). However, I really like the idea of a ‘Book of the Week’. I write a cozy mystery series with a female math teacher sleuth. I would love to send you a copy (either electronically or print) and be on your blog. The fourth mystery in this series, Radical Equations is due for release in March.


    • Being Jewish in Hawaii
      Feb 29, 2012 @ 21:47:16

      Hi David, you may not be Jewish or live in Hawaii, but you write about a teacher in live in a beautiful place. That’s good enough for me! It never occurred to me that when I added this new feature that I might get an offer for a free book! How cool. I have several books on my list that I want to review and can plan to do yours by June-ish if that sounds ok with you, then by all means, send me an electronic version. This is sooo cool.


      • Robert Spiller
        Feb 29, 2012 @ 23:15:06

        June sounds great. I’ll send you an electronic version as soon as I have one to send then take your time. You’re right though, this is very cool! One more thing, my name is Robert.


        • Being Jewish in Hawaii
          Mar 01, 2012 @ 16:48:46

          Hi Robert, nice to meet you. Are you a math teacher? I have a great respect for math teachers, especially the ones who were patient enough to teach me. I am looking forward to reading your book. Mahalo and Aloha, Lorraine


          • Robert Spiller
            Mar 01, 2012 @ 18:05:23

            I was a math teacher for 35 years and loved it. The last 10 were in a wonderful middle school where everyone loved teenagers as much as I did. Consequently, our children had fun and were high achievers. Whereas, I don’t miss getting up in the dark to scrape my car (you probably don’t do much of that in Hawaii), I do miss how completely weird and fun 13 year olds can be.

          • Being Jewish in Hawaii
            Mar 01, 2012 @ 21:04:10

            Hi Robert, I just checked out your website and love it. I also think the names of your books are great. An English teacher always loves a play on words! I am looking forward to reading your book.

  3. Gail
    Feb 29, 2012 @ 21:13:40

    Lorrie, You are right that it took a conscious effort, at first, to separate the author from the protagonist in Almost Paradise. Laurie expertly portrayed Louise Golden as a three-dimensional character, flawed and likeable, allowing the reader to partake in the story rather than just read about events as they unfolded.

    Laurie, I am looking forward to ‘How Far Is Heaven?’


  4. lauriehanan
    Mar 01, 2012 @ 23:21:01

    Thanks, Gail. It’s worrying to think people believe the Louise Golden stories are my own personal biography. Especially with all the trouble she gets into in the second book. Not me, I swear! Just my crazy imagination.

    Robert, I’ll check your books out too. I enjoy a good cozy mystery.

    Lorrie, now that you’ve started blogging about book reviews, you may find yourself deluged with offers. Good luck!


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