Saturday, December 29, 2012

Twelve favorite books from 2012

If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all. - Oscar Wilde


Halloween is just around the corner, and between cauldrons of candy and a deliciously cute new neighbour, Jaine Austen is struggling to resist her sweet tooth. But this year, her once humdrum neighbourhood seems to be handing out more tricks than treats.

I posted my five star review on Goodreads at this link.


Pierce Waverly, the Earl of Devonmont, has been estranged from his mother for most of his life. When his mother’s new companion, Mrs. Camilla Stuart, writes to tell him that his mother is seriously ill, he goes home. But when he learns that the lovely widow tricked him in order to effect a holiday reconciliation, he refuses to stay—unless she meets his “terms.” 

I posted my five star review on Goodreads at this link

The things I want to know are in books; my best friend is the man who'll get me a book I ain't read. - Abraham Lincoln

Megan Mulry's A ROYAL PAIN:  

Smart, ambitious, and career driven, Bronte Talbot started following British royalty in the gossip mags only to annoy her intellectual father. But her fascination has turned into a not-so-secret guilty pleasure. When she starts dating a charming British doctoral student, she teases him unmercifully about the latest scandals of his royal countrymen, only to find out—to her horror!!—that she's been having a fling with the nineteenth Duke of Northrop, and now he wants to make her...a duchess?

I posted my five star review on Goodreads at this link.


She’s a green-fingered gardener. He’s a blue-blooded banker. Can the Queen of Spades really make it work with the Prince of Diamonds?

I posted my five star review on Goodreads at this link

You can't get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me. - C.S. Lewis 

Jill Mansell's A WALK IN THE PARK:

Lara Carson left her family and boyfriend Flynn eighteen years ago without a word to anyone. Why has no one heard from her since? Does it mean anything that she's suddenly reappeared in Bath just in time for her ex–best friend Evie's wedding? And what about Flynn? Even the most eagle–eyed observer can't tell whether he's happy to see her, or just stunned.

I posted my five star review on Goodreads at this link

Susanna Kearsley's THE SHADOWY HORSES:

Archaeologist Verity Grey has been drawn to the dark legends of the Scottish Borderlands in search of the truth buried in a rocky field by the sea.

I posted my five star review on Goodreads at this link.

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page. - Saint Augustine

Toni Anderson's DARK WATERS:

Known as the Graveyard of the Pacific, Barkley Sound is notorious for surging swells with the power to pull helpless victims into its merciless abyss…

I posted my five star review on Goodreads at this link

Dangerous Waters

Anne Elizabeth's A SEAL AT HEART:

Being a Navy SEAL means everything to John "Red Jack" Roaker, but a mission gone wrong has left his buddy dead, his memory spotty, and his world turned upside down. His career as a SEAL is threatened unless Dr. Laurie Smith's unconventional methods of therapy can help him.

I posted my review on Goodreads at this link.

You cannot open a book without learning something. - Confucius


Lady criminologist, Miss Emma Wallingford, unknowingly finds herself tangled in the dangerous final mission of Lord Derick Aveline, a spy who also happens to be her long lost first love. But when deception, however sweet, is the name of the game, no one can be trusted. And every love--and every life--is at risk.

I posted my five star review on Goodreads at this link.

Victoria Alexander's MY WICKED LITTLE LIES:

Evelyn Hadley-Attwater has it all—a genteel Victoria life replete with loving husband, ball gowns and elegant parties. No one, including the man she married, suspects that she was once “Eve”, a spy for England’s most enigmatic intelligence agency. Summoned for one final assignment, the excitement of her former life and memories of her mysterious, flirtatious boss “Sir” prove too tempting . . .

I posted my five star review on Goodreads at this link.

There is no friend as loyal as a book. - Ernest Hemingway

Cathy Maxwell's LYON'S BRIDE (Book 1 in the Chattan Curse series):

They call him Lord Lyon, proud, determined-- and cursed. He is in need of a bride, but if he falls in love, he dies. His fervent hope is that by marrying-- and having a son--without love, perhaps he can break the curse's chains forever.

I posted my five star review on Goodreads at this link.

Cathy Maxwell's THE SCOTTISH WITCH (Book 2 in the Chattan Curse series):

Harry Chattan is fighting for his family. For two hundred years the Chattan men have been destroyed by love . . . and now he's come to Scotland on the hunt for a witch to break the curse. Instead he finds himself bewitched by Portia. Harry has vowed to fight the demons that torture him.

I posted my five star review on Goodreads at this link

What are your favorite books from 2012?    I am giving away a book choice from my convention stash to one randomly selected commenter.  Comments are open through Saturday, January 5, 10 pm in Hawaii.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, January 6.


Kim in Hawaii

Come back on Monday, December 31, when I share other bloggers' favorite books from 2012!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Dueling Review - Anne Elizabeth's A SEAL AT HEART

Aloha!   Today is the 71st anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  In Hawaii, it is a day of reflection for those who sacrificed for our freedom.   So I thought it fitting to post the dueling review of Anne Elizabeth's A SEAL AT HEART.   Please welcome my dueling partner, Tracey Cramer-Kelly, Army veteran and romance author.   From the book blurb,

He Lost Just About Everything On That Mission....

Being a Navy SEAL means everything to John "Red Jack" Roaker, but a mission gone wrong has left his buddy dead, his memory spotty, and his world turned upside down. His career as a SEAL is threatened unless Dr. Laurie Smith's unconventional methods of therapy can help him.

Maybe She Can Show Him How to Get it Back...

Laurie's father was a SEAL—and she knows exactly what the personal cost can be. She can't resist trying everything to help this man, and not only because she finds him as sexy as he is honorable.

As the layers of Jack's resistance peel away, he and Laurie unearth secrets that go to the highest levels of the military— and the deepest depths of their hearts...

File:John William Finn.jpg
John Finn received the Medal of Honor
from his valor on December 7, 1941.

Kim:  Why did you want to review this book?

Tracey:  I love reading military characters - not so much about intense “firepower” situations or missions, but in more personal aspects. I want to read about a character’s struggle with guilt or loss; self-doubt about their own actions; conflict with self and those they care about; balancing a desire to serve with a desire for personal fulfillment or love. And, being an ex-Army medic, I am drawn to stories of wounded veterans overcoming both physical and mental injury.

The USS Nimitz salutes the USS Arizona Memorial

Kim:  Can you name one aspect of the story that resonated with you?

Tracey:  The healing elements resonated with me. I especially liked the scene when the heroine’s touch flooded the hero with different emotions - fascinating!

Anne Elizabeth, right, visited Walter Reed Army Medical Center

Kim:  How would you classify this book?

Tracey:  I love your description (action adventure, self discovery, and love story rolled into one) and don’t think I can improve on it! In fact, can I borrow it as a descriptor for my novels True Surrender and Last Chance Rescue since the themes are so similar?! J

A new arrival in Pearl Harbor - USS Michael Murphy.
The ship is named for Navy SEAL Michael Murphy,
killed in action while saving his team in Afghanistan.

And Tracey turns the tables on Kim ....

Tracey:   The opening scene of the book depicts a mission going south. What did you like about it (or not like), and how did that make you want to continue to read the book?

Kim:  I tend to shy away from Romantic Suspense, but Anne Elizabeth hooked me.   She wrote the scene in a away that it was compelling by not gratuitous.

File:SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team (SDV) 2.jpg
Navy SEALS in training with USS Hawaii
Image from US Navy/Public Domain

Tracey:  The hero is a Navy SEAL who’s been sidelined by an injury and memory loss. What scene did you feel best displayed his core personality in dealing with this?

Kim:  Jack invited Laurie back to his apartment and she commented on his abundance of games.  Jack explained that he went to live with his grandfather after his mother died and his father abandoned him.   His grandfather played games with him to draw out the shell shocked six year old.   Jack commented that his grandfather had been in the Navy and Jack wanted to follow his Grandfather's example of doing the right thing.  This scene blew me away.

A Hawaiian Monk seal on the Marine Corps Base

Tracey:  The heroine’s backstory as a SEAL “pup” and her relationship with her adoptive SEAL father affects her attitude toward all Navy SEALs.   Why do you think she ultimately falls for a Navy SEAL?

Kim:  Although Laurie claims she does not want to date any military men, it's hard to get it out of her blood.   Tracey and I are members of the RomVets - women veterans who are now writing romance (they write, I blog).   We have a Yahoo group for us to share ... because we get each other.  Ultimately, Laurie gets Jack.

File:US Navy SEALs SEAL jumps over side boat.jpg
"Swimming lessons"
Image from US Navy/Public Domain

Tracey:  How did you feel about the “apparitions” or appearances of the hero’s dead partner? Did they add to the story?

Kim:  I commend Anne Elizabeth for giving Jack a means to wrestle with these demons.  Throughout the book, he feels guilty that his swim buddy died, leaving behind a family.   In fact, his partner made several appearances to "kick Jack's butt" over his guilt.    Since this is a HEA, its safe to say that Jack finds peace ... have a hanky available for Jack's final scene with his swim buddy.  I think Anne Elizabeth left it to the reader to decide if it is his spirit or Jack's imagination.

File:US Navy SEALs insignia.png

Mahalo, Tracey, for joining me today!    Here are links to reviews for A SEAL AT HEART:

Tracey's on Goodreads at this link.

Elf, the Reading Addict, at this link.

Mary Gramlich, the Reading Reviewer, at this link.

And my review on Amazon at this link and Goodreads at this link.

I am giving away a print copy of A SEAL AT HEART to one randomly selected commenter.  To enter the giveaway,

1.  Leave a comment about "apparitions" in non-paranormal books - love it or loathe it?

2.  This giveaway is open to all readers.

3.  Comments are open through Saturday, December 7, 10 pm in Hawaii.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, December 8.


Kim in Hawaii

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

To learn more about Tracey Cramer-Kelly, check out her website at

Check out my photos of Pearl Harbor on my travel blog, ALOHA ON MY MIND, at this link.

Flags at the Valor in the Pacific National Monument

Monday, December 3, 2012

Aloha to Anne Elizabeth and A SEAL AT HEART

Last week, the Boy Scouts stayed overnight on the USS Missouri.  From her deck, we spotted the Navy's newest Arleigh Burke class destroyer - the USS Michael Murphy.  The ship is named for Lieutenant Michael Murphy, a patriot who is A SEAL AT HEART.  In fact, the state flags on the Mighty Mo were donated by SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team One in honor of those SEALS killed in action, including Michael Murphy. 

Anne Elizabeth knows something about SEALS and their hearts.  Tomorrow is release day for her debut single title contemporary romance - A SEAL AT HEART.    Anne Elizabeth is always in my heart .... and she joins us today for a cozy chat!

Kim:  You live in the mountains above San Diego - what is your favorite sight, smell, and sound?

Anne Elizabeth:  Great question! My favorite sights are the sunset over the mountains and the star-studded skies at night. Oftentimes my husband and I will take an evening walk and watch the sunset or sit outside on the back porch late at night and look at the stars. We live on the side of a mountain, so it’s very quiet. Sometimes, we can hear the turkeys flying into the low branches of the tree and the coyotes running in the valley below. 

Sunset over Pearl Harbor

Kim:  You married into the military life. Even though your hubby is retired, you both are active in supporting the SEAL community. What were your first thoughts when you realized there was no turning back ... and SEALs were in your future?

Anne Elizabeth:  I took a deep breath and dove right in. I’ve always been involved in the communities I’ve lived in, previously as an EMT or volunteering at church. Becoming involved in the SEAL Community was another natural step. The best part was...having my husband by my side and having opportunities to help out wherever there’s a need. Being there, when someone is in need, is a gift of the soul.

Kim:  You are a multi-genre published author. Your graphic novels took off ... and then you ventured into single title romance. What are the challenges and rewards of the two different genres?

Anne Elizabeth:  I began writing the teen-rated PULSE world – my comic book and graphic novel series – when I was in high school. The struggles of my characters were ones that resonated in my life such as ‘destiny is a choice’ and ‘stepping up is worth the effort’ and so many more. The rewards are two fold: 1) when I first began the series the writing gave me an outlet to play with scenarios and experiences on paper, to take them out of my head and examine them and then find a resolution; and 2) hearing the responses from readers, friends, and family as they read the finished product. It’s been very rewarding to receive the feedback and to know my main character Tia is bringing empowerment and joy.

With the romance realm, I’ve written spicy and sweet stories for adults. Switching gears seems to fit my lifestyle as I can take the computer whenever Carl and I travel. I’ve been in six anthologies and A SEAL AT HEART is my first novel, so my favorite part would be the research. Talking to SEAL wives and actual SEALS (retired & active duty) is more social and fun then anything else. They seem to enjoy my off-the-wall storylines, and I do my best to honor my husband and community by making the stories as realistic as possible with real facts and applicable languages while protecting the SEALS personal story, or any kind of active duty military stuff.

Kim:  Romance 101 tells authors to write what they know. And you know Navy SEALs! How did you research? What has been the response from the SEAL community to your book? What do you want readers to take away from reading this book and, ultimately, the series? 

Anne Elizabeth:  In reference to what I want readers to take away from the book... “Nobody does it alone.” We walk this world as individuals, this is true, but our community--those people that choose to be in our lives--are precious and they are right there with us. Living or having passed on, their spirits helped mold us...and we are in essence formed by their influence. For better or worse, we never walk alone.

Thus far, the SEALS who have read my book have enjoyed it! I’m thrilled about that! But, my husband is going to take a guff. A SEAL AT HEART is a little on the sexy side. :) 

Hawaiian monk seal on the "Presidential Beach"
Marine Corps Base Hawaii - Kaneohe Bay

Kim:  Hey, SEALS are sexy!  What's next for Anne Elizabeth?

Anne Elizabeth:  Goodness, I am working on edits for ONCE A SEAL—Book II of the SEAL Series—and I’m also simultaneously writing Book III. I turned in several columns to RT BOOK REVIEWS magazine for the Comic Feature column. BTW, there are some amazing interviews coming up! I put together the listing and line-up for Graphic Fiction Workshops at the RT BOOKLOVERS Convention in 2013. Lastly, I finished a script for another short comic. Oh yeah, somewhere in there is the Sourcebooks Blog Tour and Holiday shopping. 

My keiki wear SEAL hats from Anne Elizabeth!

Mahalo, Anne Elizabeth, for joining us today.  I truly thank you for your unlimited devotion to military families!   I posted my five star review of A SEAL AT HEART on Goodreads at this link.  It will be available from your favorite retailers on Tuesday, December 4 (look for my review on Amazon when it is released).   I am giving away a print copy of A SEAL AT HEART to one randomly selected commenter.  To enter the giveaway,

1.  Leave a comment or question for Anne Elizabeth.

2.  This giveaway is open to all readers.

3.  Comments are open through Saturday, December 8, 10 pm in Hawaii.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, December 9.


Kim in Hawaii

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

Check out my travel blog, ALOHA ON MY MIND, for the Countdown to Pearl Harbor Day at this link.   Anne Elizabeth and I have a mutual admiration for Lt John Finn, recipient of the Medal of Honor for his valor during the Japanese attack on Oahu.   His quote is the first entry in the Medal of Honor Book:

I always remember the day I took the oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. That really meant something to me.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Cloth Book Covers - An Open Letter to Vicki Lewis Thompson

Aloha, Vicki Lewis Thompson!

This week I received the Romance Writers' Report, November 2012, Volume 32, Number 13.   I enjoyed your article, "Keeping the R in RWA."   I appreciated your candor in describing yourself as "your worst English-major, cultural snob nightmare" before you discovered romance.   But I do take exception for your discussion of book covers,

How many of you remember the hot item for sale at most conventions around the country 20 or 30 years ago?  Cloth book covers.  Maybe these were to protect the covers of our mass-market paperbacks from potential damage, but methinks not.  Methinks it was so we could take a romance to the dentist's office without being embarrassed to be seen reading one of those books.

I haven't seen any mass market paperback book cover for sale in a while, so maybe we've outgrown them.  I hope so ....

I discovered romance ten years ago while volunteering at the  US Thrift Shop in the Netherlands.  I took those books on the bus tours with the NATO ladies.  They asked me, in broken English, where to buy those books.  

When I moved back to the US, I  attended my first RT conference in Daytona Beach/2006.   I was delighted to find cloth book covers for mass market and trade size paperbacks from Hidden Secrets Book Covers (at this link).   I see Bob each year at RT ... and I add another book cover to my collection.  The best part - Bob is retired Navy - you can never go wrong with the Navy!

Bookcover Sizing for paperback and hardback book covers

Here's my favorite cover - the tropical theme to keeps me in the Aloha spirit.  

Here's my trade size book cover ... the pandas are happy readers!  

Here's my Kindle cover with the Hawaiian theme ... hubby bought it at a craft fair.

I often receive compliments from people in line for bringing reading material.  They even ask what I am reading.   Methinks the cloth book cover attracts attention to the books, leaving others to wonder what is so valuable that requires protection.


Kim in Hawaii

Do you read in public?  Are you concerned with the cover art?  Do you use cloth book covers?  One randomly selected commenter wins a book choice from my convention stash.   This giveaway is open to all readers.  Comments are open through Saturday, November 24, 10 pm in Hawaii.   I'll post the winner on Sunday, November 25.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Happy 237th Birthday, United States Marine Corps

On this date in 1775, Captain Samuel Nicholas established two battalions of Continental Marines in the Tun Tavern, Philadelphia. 237 years later, the corp proudly sings its hymn,

From the Halls of Montezuma,

To the shores of Tripoli;
We fight our country's battles
In the air, on land, and sea;
First to fight for right and freedom
And to keep our honor clean:
We are proud to claim the title
Of United States Marine.

Our flag's unfurled to every breeze
From dawn to setting sun;
We have fought in every clime and place
Where we could take a gun;
In the snow of far-off Northern lands
And in sunny tropic scenes;
You will find us always on the job
The United States Marines.

Here's health to you and to our Corps
Which we are proud to serve;
In many a strife we've fought for life
And never lost our nerve;
If the Army and the Navy
Ever look on Heaven’s scenes;
They will find the streets are guarded
By United States Marines.

Another blogger printed quotes about the corps, but I would like you to hear it from the Marines themselves.   From the Medal of Honor Quotes,

There is only one way to go:  full speed ahead for God and country.  - Joseph J. Foss, WWII 

Freedom is not free for a few, but for all to enjoy and prosper.  Cherish and protect it. - Duane E. Dewey, Korea

No matter how difficult it seems at the time, it's easier to do the right thing than spend a lifetime regretting that you didn't.
Robert E. O'Malley, Vietnam

Hau`oli Lā Hānau to the Few, the Proud, the Marines.


Kim in Hawaii

USMC mascot

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Dueling Review Continued - Sabrina Jeffries and 'TWAS THE NIGHT AFTER CHRISTMAS

On Monday, I posted part one of the "dueling review" with LSUReader at this link.   Today I offer you part two.

Kim:  I am ambivalent to holiday books, mostly because I read them in advance of the holiday. Yet 'TWAS THE NIGHT AFTER CHRISTMAS grabbed my attention in the first chapter. It is a heartfelt story that stands alone from the holiday references. But add the Christmas cheer and it was a five star winner for me. What are your thoughts on holiday books? What drew you to this book?

LSUReader:  I like books with Christmas settings. They put me in the mood for one of my favorite times of the year. (I also admit to singing Christmas carols in July!) Add that Sabrina Jeffries is one of my go-to authors for historical romance, and 'TWAS THE NIGHT AFTER CHRISTMAS is a book I knew I wanted to read. She didn't disappoint. One thing that I really enjoyed was her use of Clement Clarke Moore's poem, "A Visit from St. Nicholas," in the novel, not just as a catchy hook for a title. So many of us are familiar with that Christmas story; we forget what new and different concepts it introduced. Here, we get to see how 'TWAS THE NIGHT AFTER CHRISTMAS 1826 characters related to the then recently published story of flying reindeer and stockings hung by the chimney.

The Night Before Christmas in Hawaii

Kim:  I am also ambivalent to children in romances. Yet Jasper was the glue that brought the characters together - he was the gift from Camilla's loveless marriage. He brought hope to the Dowager Countess. He gave Pierce the chance to be a child again at Christmas. What are your thoughts on children in romance books? Did you bond with Jasper?

LSUReader:  I agree with you on children in romances generally (I'm ambivalent) and specifically with regard to Jasper. His character was necessary to move the whole story forward. Jasper's relationships with his mother, the Dowager Countess and Pierce are key to their character growth. The six-year old offers a second chance at mothering for the Dowager Countess. He is a reverse mirror of what might have been for Pierce; and it is both painful and illuminating. For Camilla, Jasper is the reason she can understand the tremendous hurts of the past in the Waverly family. I can't imagine a successful conclusion--or such an enjoyable read--without Jasper.

Picture of Children Ahead Road Sign - Free Pictures -

Kim:  Sabrina's writing enveloped me, taking me to Herefordshire's countryside and its Christmas fair. What part of Sabrina's writing worked for you?

LSUReader:  I did read the two earlier novels where Pierce was a supporting character (books 4 and 5 of Sabrina's Hellions of Halstead Hall series.) My first impressions of him were of a stiff and unforgiving rake with little regard for family. And then I read 'TWAS THE NIGHT AFTER CHRISTMAS prologue. That quickly, I was drawn into his story. Within a couple of chapters I began to understand why he was this way and I hoped (but wasn't sure) he could be freed from his miserable past. I admire how Sabrina so artfully and thoroughly redeemed Pierce and the other  'TWAS THE NIGHT AFTER CHRISTMAS characters who were guilty of deception. She answered those fears that I had early in the book. That's what worked best for me: how Sabrina brought her characters to a peaceful, forgiving resolution. 

Picture of Yat Rock Viewpoint, Herefordshire - Free Pictures -
Yat Rock Viewpoint, Herefordshire

Mahalo, LSUReader, for joining me in this dueling review - we must do it again in the future!   Check out Sabrina's website (at this link) for the synopsis, excerpt, scoop, accolades, and links to purchase. I am giving away a special prize today - a Hawaiian holiday tote plus 3 titles from the Hellions of Halstead Hall series:


To enter the giveaway,

1. Leave a comment children in romances - love them or loathe them?

2. This giveaway is open to all readers.

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


Kim in Hawaii