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.