Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011 Year in Review - Hawaiian Style

It's time for year end lists .... mine includes Hawaiian Proverbs!

He lawai'a no ke kai papa'u, he pokole ke aho; he lawai'a no ke kai hohonu he loa ke aho.

A fisherman of shallow seas uses only a short line; a fisherman of the deep sea uses a long line (reach for what you want).

I began the year stating that I would only blog on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  Ha!

I now blog daily plus guest posts at the Reading Reviewer on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Mahalo to the 265 blog followers plus 62 Twitter followers - you encourage me to use the long line!

Lawe i ka ma'alea a ku'ono'ono.
Acquire skill and make it deep.

February brought Hannah Dennsion at this link.  She is the author of the cozy mysteries, Vicky Hill Exclusive, including her latest release, THIEVES!   Vicky Hill continues to hone her sleuthing skills while she charms the readers.  

The series is set in Devon, England where I spent my childhood summers visiting my English granny.  THIEVES! was a fun read that brought back fond memories.

E lawe i ke a'o a mālama a e `oi mau ka na`auao
Take what you have learned and apply it and your wisdom will increase.

In March, I spotlighted Anne Elizabeth's THE PENDULUM at this link.  Tia demonstrates Anne's mantra, "Power up - Destiny is a choice!   Anne Elizabeth is a breath of fresh air in Romanceland!

Ua ola loko I ke aloha.
Love is necessary for life.

In April, Pamela Clare asked me to review BREAKING POINT at this link.  This book blew me away with its realistic portrayal of the Mexican drug wars, a Navy Seal's ingrained training, and love is necessary for life.

I maikai ke kalo i ka oha
The goodness of the taro is judged by the youngest plant it produces.

May brought Laura Harrington's ALICE BLISS at this link.  It is a poignant story of how a girl, her family, and her community react to her father's deployment.   It was a timely read for Memorial Day.

Aia no I ka mea e mele ana.
Let the singer select the song

June brought another non romance book - Elin Hildebrand's SILVER GIRL at this link.   After her husband is jailed for a Ponzi scheme, Meredith found herself alone and broke.  With the help of a reluctant friend, she finds that she could select her own song to sing.

He poho, o ke akamai no ke hana a nui.
Problems happens.  Use wisdom and skill to deal with them.

Deadly intrigue happens in Michelle Diener's IN A TREACHEROUS COURT at this link.  Set during Henry VIII's rein, the protagonists use their skills to survive ... and find love with one another.  I have already received an ARC for the next book, KEEPER OF THE KING'S SECRETS, available in Spring 2012.

‘A’Ole E ‘Olelo mai Ana Ke Ahi Ua Ana Ia.
Fire will never say that it has had enough.

Fire, murder, and the patrons at the Tiki Goddess will never say they have had enough in Jill Marie Landis' MAI TAI ONE ON - her first book in the Tiki Goddess Mystery Series at this link.

Set on the island of Kauai, where the award winning Jill lives, MAI TAI ONE ON delivers quirky characters and laugh out loud adventure on the Garden Isle.  

The last page made my heart swoon.

E lauhoe mai na wa'a; i ke ka, i ka hoe; i ka hoe, i ke ka; pae aku i ka 'aina.
Paddle together, bail, paddle; paddle, bail; paddle towards the land.

In September, I returned to my favorite genre - Regency historicals - with two Sourcebooks authors:

- Shana Galen's LORD AND LADY SPY at this link.
- Leigh Michaels' THE WEDDING AFFAIR at this link.

Both books provided light hearted adventure that required the lively characters to work together to their goals.

A'ohe hana nui ka alu'ia.
No task is too big when done together.

During last year's series premiere of the new Hawaii Five O, Chin Ho suggested this Hawaiian proverb for the team's motto. Perhaps Axel from Gwyn Cready's A NOVEL SEDUCTION also adopted this proverb as he attempted to work with former lover, Ellery, in their task - write an "legitimate" article to promote romance books.

A NOVEL SEDUCTION reminded me that contemporary romances are fun reads at this link.  This book was both a tribute and parody of the romance genre 

I ulu no ka lala i ke kumu.
The reach of a tree's branches depends on its trunk.

November brought another contemporary romance to my doorstep.  Gina Robinson's THE SPY WHO LEFT ME demonstrated through humor that a family's unconditional love (tree's trunk) supports the family's endeavours at this link.  In this book, the family's endeavour is national security!   Bonus - it is set on the island of Maui!

'Ike aku, 'ike mai, kokua aku kokua mai; pela iho la ka nohana 'ohana.
Recognize others, be recognized, help others, be helped; such is a family relationship.

From Kelly at SOS America,
"This is a massive thank you for those who sent cards or packages. Hearing back from some that they got tons of mail!"

Hauʻoli Makahiki Hou - Happy New Year!

Kim in Hawaii

What's a blog without a giveaway?!?  One randomly selected commenter will win a book choice from my convention stash (infused with new books!)   This giveaway is open to all readers.  Comments are open through Saturday, January 7, 10 pm in Hawaii.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, January 8.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Special guest - Pamela Clare and Uncle Joe

Today I welcome a special guest who needs no introduction, Pamela Clare - journalist, author, activist, and niece of Uncle Joe who tragically died aboard the USS Utah on December 7, 1941. 

USS Utah (in water) and memorial

When Americans think of Pearl Harbor Day, they think of the smoke, the explosions, the burning ships. They think of President Roosevelt and his iconic speech about the attack and the “date which will live in infamy.” They think about the nation’s plunge into the Second World War.

I think of an uncle and aunt I never knew—Uncle Joe and Aunt Lillian. 

I don’t know how they met. I don’t know what made them fall in love. I know from photographs that Joe Conner was a handsome man and Lillian was beautiful. I know they got married late in November and spent the first week of December on their honeymoon in Hawaii, where Uncle Joe served as a seaman in the U.S. Navy.

On Saturday, Dec. 6, his honeymoon at an end, Uncle Joe, a Fireman 1st Class, reported back to the U.S.S. Utah, which was moored off Ford Island. A battleship that had been launched in December 1909, the Utah had had been refitted for training young seamen. It had just returned to port after participating in an advanced anti-aircraft gunnery cruise in Hawaiian waters, probably while Uncle Joe was off on his honeymoon.

At 8 a.m. the next morning, men on deck reported the approach of three airplanes, which they at first believed to be American airplanes. But when the planes reached the southern end of Ford Island, they began dropping bombs on seaplane hangars. At 8:01, the Utah was hit by a torpedo and immediately began to list to port, its stern sinking.

What had begun as another day of training had now become a battle for survival for the more than 500 men on the U.S.S. Utah. Men who were below decks rushed to get topside, knowing that remaining below would mean death.

At 8:12, the mooring lines snapped, and the ship rolled onto its side, clearly on its way to capsizing. 

A sinking ship poses a variety of risks to human life. If you’re onboard, you can become trapped and drown. Because the lights on a ship go out when it is flooded, victims not only drown, but lose their way and drown in the dark. A sinking ship can also suck down nearby swimmers with a force that makes the strongest undertow seem like a bathtub drain. And when cold water hits the hot boilers inside, the boilers can explode. The men knew these things, and those who’d made it off the sinking vessel swam hard for shore.

Of Utah’s crew, 30 officers and 431 enlisted men survived the attack. Six officers and 52 men died. Uncle Joe went down with the ship, and his body remains there still. The U.S.S. Utah memorial, often called the “forgotten memorial,” is his tomb.

I traded emails with survivors of the U.S.S. Utah a few years back. Sadly, none of them knew Uncle Joe. But they were able to share some information with me. Because I know he was a Fireman 1st Class, one survivor speculated that he had been deep in the ship and had either died as a result of the torpedo attack or drown while working with Chief Watertender Peter Tomich to buy time for others to escape by trying keeping the boilers from exploding. (Tomich was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his sacrifice, which no doubt saved many men’s lives.)

When I think of the attack on Pearl Harbor, I wonder about Uncle Joe. Did he die in the initial blast? Did he stay behind, hoping to escape but placing the lives of his crewmates first, knowing that those boilers had to be controlled? When did he realize that he was going to die, leaving his new bride a widow? Did he drown in the dark, drawing his last breath alone in the blackness? 

My family has a strong Navy tradition. My grandfather served in the Navy during World War II. We have photos of him roller-skating in Brazil while on shore leave. My father’s younger brother served in the Navy during Vietnam. I participated in Navy Jr. ROTC in high school, attending boot camp at the San Diego Naval Training center.

But Uncle Joe died at Pearl Harbor. All we have of him are the mementos of the U.S.S. Utah that Kim Adams (thank you, Kim!) sent us last year. My mother and I went through them together, the reality of Uncle Joe’s experience becoming more vivid to us as we looked at photos and read about the memorial. One day we’d love to visit, although I understand the memorial is open only to military personal and civilians with a military escort. Hopefully, we can arrange that, even as we both try to learn more about Uncle Joe and how he died. 

But now you want to know how the rest of the story goes. You’re wondering about his bride, Lillian.

Sadly, she did not get a second chance at a happy ending.

Widowed a week after her wedding, heartbroken and grieving for her husband, Lillian never remarried. She eventually returned to the mainland and lived the rest of her life with her two sisters, Lorena, who had dozens of cats, and Ethel, who’d shot and killed her abusive husband with his own handgun. But that’s another story.

Pearl Harbor shocked the nation to its soul. Most of us have some idea what it must have felt like because we were around for 9/11. But in the wake of 9/11, and as those who remember World War II pass on, it’s easy to let the events of Dec. 7, 1941, fall into the background, as if they were ancient history.

Take time today to learn about the attack on Pearl Harbor. Read the stories of each ship and of the hangars that were bombed and the people who were shot by strafing fire. If you read the casualty list, you’ll find my uncle there: Joseph Ucline Conner, F1c.

May he and the others who gave their lives that day rest in peace.

Mahalo, Pamela, for sharing your family's legacy with us. Back in May, Pamela asked me to review BREAKING POINT whose hero was a Navy SEAL. I read the book out loud to Uncle Joe and the other 57 sailors aboard the USS Utah. I thought I heard him reply, "How about a Fireman 1st Class for a hero?" 

The USS Utah is located on the opposite side of the island where the USS Missouri is moored, overlooking the USS Arizona. The tour buses visit Mighty Mo but not the Utah. But I visit it once a week and I want Pamela's family to know that Uncle Joe is not forgotten.

In honor of Uncle Joe, I am giving away a 2012 Hawaiian Calendar that may represent places he shared with his bride. To enter the giveaway, leave a comment about freedom. This giveaway is open to all readers.


Kim in Hawaii

Rainbow over Pearl Harbor near the Utah

As we remember those lost to this tragedy, we live in freedom knowing others step forward to serve in the military.  Tara Nina is my guest at ALOHA ON MY MIND at this link, sharing her thoughts on her son's enlistment in the Navy - he is the next generation of heroes. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Aloha to new friends, hidden manuscripts, and Patricia Wood's LOTTERY

Sounds of Aloha (Barbershop Chorus) at Holiday Show
Photo by Frank Lowe

Holiday parties are in full swing in Hawaii!  I recently attended the holiday party for the RWA Aloha Chapter Holiday Party.  I met two other military spouses who recently arrived on the island, moved onto Hickam AFB, and write books - we've made a pact to get together once a week to talk books, set goals, and see Hawaii!  I'll introduce you to them in the new year!

Patricia Wood from Amazon page

The guest speaker was Patricia Wood, author of LOTTERY.   Patricia lives on a boat in Hawaii, is pursuing her PhD at the University of Hawaii, and brought so much warmth to our luncheon.   I recall the points of her speech (paraphrase), "I am going to share the secrets of writing.

1.  There are no secrets.

2.  Some tell you to write what you know; I tell you to write what you want to know.

3.  The manuscripts hidden under your bed (that will never be published) are "tuition" in pursuing your dream of writing."

The last tidbit resonated with me as I have many "hidden manuscripts" under my bed - not actual manuscripts but projects I've tried.  Some successful, some not.   Indeed, our path to success for the future is building upon our experiences of the past.

I am giving away an autographed copy of LOTTERY to one randomly selected commenter:

Perry’s IQ is only 76, but he’s not stupid. His grandmother taught him everything he needs to know to survive: She taught him to write things down so he won’t forget them. She taught him to play the lottery every week. And, most important, she taught him whom to trust. When Gram dies, Perry is left orphaned and bereft at the age of thirty-one. Then his weekly Washington State Lottery ticket wins him 12 million dollars, and he finds he has more family than he knows what to do with. Peopled with characters both wicked and heroic who leap off the pages, Lottery is a deeply satisfying, gorgeously rendered novel about trust, loyalty, and what distinguishes us as capable.

To enter the giveaway (no purchase necessary),

1.  Leave a comment about the lottery - do you play?  Does Lady Luck favor you?  Lady Luck gives us great weather in Hawaii (as we don't have the lottery).

2.  This giveaway is open to all readers.

3.  Comments are open through Saturday, December 3,10 pm in Hawaii.   I'll post the winner on Sunday, December 4.


Kim in Hawaii 

To learn more about Patricia and her books, check out her website at

Funny Bones Barbershop Quartet (hubby is second from right)
Photo by Frank Lowe

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Aloha to Gina Robinson and THE SPY WHO LEFT ME

Last week, Mary Gramlich called me, "YOU MUST READ THIS BOOK."  She was referring to Gina Robinson's THE SPY WHO LEFT ME.   In fact, Mary asked the publisher to send me a book.  Thanks to Jessica at St. Martin's Press for doing so as this was a fun read of pure escapism.   Check out review on Goodreads at this link.

Haleakula - Maui's No. 1 destination

Beside being a fun read, Mary drew my attention to THE SPY WHO LEFT ME because it is set in Hawaii:

If there’s one thing that can ruin a vacation, it’s running into your ex. Just ask Treflee Miller. If she’d only known that her husband Ty would be here in Hawaii—muscular, sun-bronzed, and infuriatingly gorgeous—she would have brought the divorce papers for him to sign. But life is full of surprises when you’re married to a world-class spy…

Ty Miller can understand why his wife is tired of playing Mrs. James Bond. He’s never home, he’s always on a mission, and he’s usually surrounded by exotic informants. He has to admit that the perfect spy makes a pretty lousy husband. But for the sake of Ty’s security and Treflee’s safety, they can’t blow his cover. Not here. Not now. Not when his longing is so strong, her lips so tempting—and his enemies so close…

Naturally, I invited Gina Robinson to be my guest ... and what a treasure she is!   Please join me in welcoming Gina Robinson!

Kim:  From your bio, you have an Italian grandmother who told fairy tales - how precious is that! What was your favorite story ... and favorite food if Grandma cooked?

Gina:  Being Italian, my grandma told Italian fairy tales. Her favorite and mine was The King Who Would Have a Beautiful Wife, which, as the title suggests, is about a king who wanted the most beautiful woman in his kingdom to be his wife. His guards scour the land, looking for just such a woman. But they are fooled into taking a very ugly old woman to the king. The old woman knows she’ll be killed once the king gets a look at her, so she appeals to fairies who make her beautiful. That’s the gist of it, anyway. As true fairy tales are, it’s a little gruesome in its original form. But Grandma softened it up and embellished it for her grandchildren. When I was a girl, she used to tell it to me as she brushed the tangles out of my hair. Because, of course, I hated to have my hair brushed and complained about the pain and the moral of this fairy tale is so appropriate--It takes a little pain to be beautiful. Isn’t that so true, lol?

As far as cooking, Grandma was a terrific cook. She made a mean pasta fagioli and polenta. But no one could make better fried chicken than she did.

Kim:  Tell us about where you live - your favorite sight, sound, and smell.

Gina:  I live in a suburb of Seattle in the Greater Puget Sound region of Washington State. My favorite sight is the majestic Mount Rainier which you can see from almost anywhere here when you look to the south. I love the sounds of the birds here in summer, and the smell of the fresh air after a rain shower. And we get plenty of rain showers here, believe me.

Seattle skyline

Kim:  You are an author new to me - what inspires your "humorous contemporary stories with plenty of romance and suspense". Where do you find research for spies?

Gina:  I write humor because it comes naturally to me. I’ve always loved reading romance, mystery, and suspense novels. I like spy novels, too, but I kind of fell into writing about spies. Years ago, my husband showed me a travel article about a fantasy spy camp. That article inspired an idea for a novel—what if a woman who was totally un-spy-like went to fantasy spy camp and bumped into some real intrigue? That idea eventually became my first published novel, Spy Candy. Things evolved from there.

I do a lot of research for my novels online but I also have a bookshelf full of books about spies – both the CIA-type and the James Bond-type. People now know I love spy stuff so they buy it for me or send it to me. And then, yes, I may have talked to a former spy or two.

Kim:  Have you seen the CIA Cookbook, SPIES, BLACK TIES, AND MANGO PIES? It offers both unclassified stories and delicious recipes (available at this link).

Gina:  I haven’t seen this book, but now I’m going to have to buy it. Wouldn’t it be fun to write a book about a spy who’s a chef? Sort of like a modern day Julia Child, who really did work in the intelligence field. See? I can grab an idea from anywhere ;-)

Kim:  Tell us about THE SPY WHO LEFT ME. What inspired you to set it in Hawaii and include female veterans?

Gina:  I call The Spy Who Left Me a simply spylicious romance. It was the most fun to write. I just let myself go and imagined all the downsides of being married to a spy and the problems his career could cause in a marriage. I wanted to portray marriage as sexy and fun and worth saving if you still love your partner.

I chose to set it in Hawaii because I wanted a fun tropical setting. I’ve vacationed in Maui and loved it. For so many of us on the mainland, Hawaii beckons as the ideal getaway vacation. As for female veterans, I wanted strong female characters, women with courage and knowledge of battle. My dad was a lieutenant in the army when I was young. He instilled in us a deep respect for the men and women who serve our country. I’m so grateful to our military and all those who serve. They have courage and a sense of self-sacrifice that I truly admire.

Kim:  The bride and her bridesmaids were a riot!  Thank you for spotlighting women veterans as strong characters that can still have strong emotions.  What's next for Gina Robinson?

Gina:  My next Agent Ex book, Diamonds Are Truly Forever, comes out in June of 2012. It features Ty’s sidekick spy as the hero facing problems in his own marriage. In fact, he has to go undercover as himself. Here’s a sneak peek at the back cover copy:

Staci Fields loves her gorgeous husband—and that’s the honest truth. Unfortunately, her inability to lie is a major liability for the wife of a CIA agent. During a previous mission, her loose lips nearly got her husband killed. So now Staci’s filing for divorce to keep him out of danger—no matter how much her lips still crave his kiss…

Drew Fields knows that his wife doesn’t want to play the spy game anymore. But when he learns that Staci may be a pawn in her stepfather’s secret dealings with terrorists, he has no choice but to step back into her life. This time, the stakes are higher than ever. The closer he gets to Staci, the deadlier the odds. And the more he loves his ex, the more he has to lose…

Mahalo, Gina, for joining us at SOS Aloha!  Gina has generously donated an autographed book for me to giveaway today.  To enter the giveaway,

1.  Leave a comment about spy life - who are your favorite "spy" authors and characters?

My favorite James Bond movie is THE SPY WHO LOVED ME - Egypt, Triple X, Jaws, and, of course, the parachute with the Union Jack!  And Carly Simon belts out the most beautiful song, "Nobody does it better."

2.  This giveaway is open to all readers.

3.  Comments are open through Saturday, November 26.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, November 27.


Kim in Hawaii

To learn more about Gina and her books, check out her website at

Plus I feature Maui over at ALOHA ON MY MIND at this link where I am also giving away a second copy of THE SPY WHO LEFT ME.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans' Day 2011 - I Remember You

Joint Honor Guard

Woke up to the sound of pouring rain 
The wind would whisper and I'd think of you
And all the tears you cried, that called my name
And when you needed me I came through

Buffalo Soldiers during Spanish American War

I paint a picture of the days gone by
When love went blind and you would make me see
I'd stare a lifetime into your eyes
So that I knew you were there for me
Time after time you were there for me 

WWI Veteran Joseph Ambrose holding the flag that 
covered his son's casket from the Vietnam War

Remember yesterday - walking hand in hand
Love letters in the sand - I remember you
Through the sleepless nights and every endless day
I'd wanna hear you say - I remember you 

WWII veterans on the National Mall.

We spend the summer with the top rolled down
Wished ever after would be like this
You said I love you babe, without a sound
I said I'd give my life for just one kiss
I'd live for your smile and die for your kiss 

Korean Veteran  visits the Korean Memorial 

Remember yesterday - walking hand in hand 
Love letters in the sand - I remember you
Through the sleepless nights and every endless day
I'd wanna hear you say - I remember you 

Vietnam Veterans in Rolling Thunder

We've had our share of hard times
But that's the price we paid
And through it all we kept the promise that we made
I swear you'll never be lonely 

Blackhawk crew in Somolia

Woke up to the sound of pouring rain
Washed away a dream of you
But nothing else could ever take you away
'Cause you'll always be my dream come true
Oh my darling, I love you 

Gulf War Veteran comes home.

Remember yesterday - walking hand in hand
Love letters in the sand - I remember you
Through the sleepless nights and every endless day
I'd wanna hear you say - I remember you 

Sailors aboard USS Kitty Hawk man the rails and
salute the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor

Remember yesterday - walking hand in hand 
Love letters in the sand - I remember you
Through the sleepless nights and every endless day
I'd wanna hear you say - I remember you

WWII veteran thanks wounded Marine.

Lyrics by Skid Row.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Aloha to Bonfire Night and other highlights of British Culture

Last weekend, SOS Aloha was heavy with Jane Austen.  Today we are going to the opposite end of British Culture with Six Degrees of Separation.

1.  November 5 is Bonfire Night - a tradition from 1605 when the Gunpowder Plot failed to blow up Parliament.  The bonfires lit across the country celebrated the monarch's safety.

2.  Parliament is the UK's legislative body with two chambers - House of Lords and House of Commons.  

3.  The House of Lords was reformed in 1999 to reduce the hereditary seats.  One lord who lost his seat was Christopher Haden Guest, 5th Baron Haden Guest.  

(Guest is a screenwriter, musician, and comedian.  He appeared in The Princess Bride, A Few Good Men, and This is Spinal Tap).


4.  Christopher Haden Guest is married to Jaime Lee Curtis.

(Her father, Tony Curtis, served on a submarine tender in Tokyo Bay.  He witnessed the end of WWII when the Japanese surrendered aboard the USS Missouri.  Mighty Mo is moored in Pearl Harbor).

5.  Jaime Lee Curtis starred in A Fish Called Wanda with John Cleese.


6.  John Cleese gained famed from MONTY PYTHON.

(Hubby loved him in Fawlty Towers, filmed in Torquay, where my English granny lived).

7.  Nothing is sacred to MONTY PYTHON.   During their TV series, Monty Python's Flying Circus, the comedy team spoofed the general election of ridiculous candidates.  

8.  The general election fills the House of Commons, the second chamber of Parliament, which was saved when the Gunpowder Plot was foiled.

Parliament is still intact 405 years later!

OK, that was eight degrees but didn't you learn something?  In honor of the British culture other than Jane Austen, I am giving away a book choice from my convention stash.   To enter the giveaway, 

1.  Leave a comment about Britain - what do you love about it?

2.  This giveaway is open to all readers.

3.  Comments are open through Saturday, November 12, 10 pm in Hawaii.   I'll post the winner on Sunday, November 13.


Kim in Hawaii

To learn more about Bonfire Night, log onto its website at