For we are God’s Masterpiece.
Eph. 2:10 NLT

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About the Book

As a direct descendent of survivors from the Ottoman genocide against the Armenian people during WWI, my great-great-grandparents were slaughtered before the eyes of my great-grandparents. As a little girl, I myself witnessed the collapse of the Soviet Union and survived wartime in the Republic of Georgia immediately following in 1991-1993. As a third-culture kid, having grown up as half-Ukrainian (mother), half-Armenian (father) in the Republic of Georgia, I endured ethnic discrimination for much of my life. I may not look like it now, but I grew up as a minority to be rejected by my grandparents, mocked by relatives and refused entrance to universities. This book speaks to the warriors, the survivors, the determined and even the bankrupt in spirit. Walk with me through an experience in discovering one’s power, and what it can lead to. It is my desire to take the reader on a life adventure in search of passion for life, and the essence of true identity…on a journey of discovering joy that delivers from devastation of real-life events and provides victory in times of loss and fear.

Book Synopsis
About the Author
  • Ms. Parunakova has earned her B.S. in Business Administration
  • She is a candidate of M.M. Master in Ministry, Doctoral in Christian Counseling and PhD in Christian Philosophy with Biblical Entrepreneurship
  • She is Administrator and Program Director.
  • Ilona has additionally served in an international non-profit organization as a liaison, speaker, and as an organizer for fundraisers and other community events.
  • She completed her Bachelor of Science degree in one year on an accelerated program and graduated Summa Cum Laude with a 4.0 GPA. She is an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Nutritionist, Certified Neuro-Linguistic Programming Master Practitioner and Certified Master Life Coach.
  • Ilona became a winner of People’s Choice Award in a Republic of Georgia Beauty Pageant in 1998, has earned medals for completing a Marathon and a Triathlon in 2017 and 2018 and was chosen as the 2020 Student Speaker for Colorado Technical University Graduation Ceremony.
  • She is also an International TEDx Speaker and is featured on FOX, NBC, CBS articles.
my Article

special Edition

Opium of The Almond Tree

Book Endorsement

“Ilona transcends time and takes you on the journey of a lifetime. The ingenuity of her words provides a limitless resource of history, culture, faith and heritage. By Coupling history with nuggets of truth and faith, she motivates us through her words to look at life differently. It’s a must-read book”

- Tangelia Terrell

Educator and Mental Health Trainer, Teacher PGCPS/Mental health and trauma healing advocate, Keynote speaker

“I felt goosebumps running down my spine as I read the first few lines, it continues as I went through the pages. It made me to catch the next flight to this enchanting place Georgia. Ilona has combined word, poetry and passion to take you on a journey of her life beginning with the enchanting city of Tbilisi, captivating you with stories of identity, joy, thrill, tragedy, adversities and triumph. Ilona transports you with her on a journey to Ibitsa, captivating you with its story’s splendor and joy. Whether you want to learn about the history of the story splendor, to read first-hand experience of war and poverty, gain a different perspective on life to stir up gratitude, or just a good story, this book has it all. I would love to watch a movie made out this, it will keep the audience edge”

Edlyn Sabrina, Actress, Model, TEDx Speaker, Transformation Coach

“Ilona’s book paints a moving picture of her life, history and culture through her distinctive family lineage. As a product of a bi-ethnic marriage living in a nation that is not her own, she grew up with the unique perspective of being a foreigner in her own birth country and brings much of that third culture mentality to recognizing her true cultural anchors in a foreign land. Filled with warm endearing characters and delightful memories of an accident land. “Opium of the Almond Tree” will transport its readers to a world many know little of.”

Chris Jones, Executive Director The North American Azerbaijani Network

“This book is a practical example of School of Life full of depth of the history, culture and life experiences. This book took me though the unforgettable journey through the times, counties and invited me to examine my own life to alight into the light of Joy to discover my identity. This is absolutely must-read book. I keep the copy of this book on my desk as a reminder to keep my priorities of life and appreciate the essence of life.”

Arkadii Altunian, LLM, Attorney, 25 year in private practice, Perm, Russian Federation

“What a beautiful journey this book took me on. I loved learning about Ilona’s family history, royalty, culture and strong faith in the Lord while overcoming very difficult and painful situations. Ilona’s name and baptism name, Lucine, are perfect adjectives that define this book – Joyful and full of Light.”

Nicole D’Anna, Attorney and small business owner

“You are invited to experience the life transforming power of voice full of passion and appreciation of life! I have never read a book with such practical, relevant, effective, authentic and most magnificent massage of inspiration. This book mirrored my life and helped with my own journey of identity. It is a must-read book, hands down!”

Kamila Lytvynova, wife, mother of four. Master in engineer, Paralegal

“Ilona’s book is a delight look at her roots but not in a dull genealogical manner but who her parents were – warts and wonders. We learn about Ilona but not only her feelings and insights but also her discoveries to life today, no doubt for her children, but also for us.”

Lt. Colonel Harry Brocksieck

“Ilona uses authenticity, the cantor and the creative writing that is tremendous and appears to free you.”

Charlotte Scott, EdD, Executive Vice Dean and a Professor in Rutgers University Newark Institute at Northeast Normal University in Changchun, China. Assistant Professor at Colorado Technical University

“Ilona Parunakova’ s Opium of the Almond Tree is the best Memoir I have read in a long time! She has a knack for drawing readers her world as she describes in captivating details the events and the heart of her childhood. This is a story of true strength, beauty, and inspiration! I found myself devouring every word, oftentimes shaking my head knowingly, fully understanding the emotions being expressed. If you love a great Memoir, this is a must read!”

- Rosann Cunningham

Personal Trainer, Nutrition Coach, and Author, Fuel Your Fire.