Two weeks after high school graduation, he walks into Willa’s life, the boy who gets into her blood like a fever. But Willa barely has a chance to mention Simon to Solace, her best ghost friend, before they’re swept up into kidnapping, murder, and the dangerous hidden world of witchcraft. As Willa and Simon discover their quirks are actually powerful gifts, they have to decide whether to join a True Coven and fight the darkness or simply walk (run!) away, turning their backs on who—and what—they really are.
Blood Moon by Teri Harman is book one in her Moonlight Trilogy. It’s a page turning read with a fast paced plot and characters that draw you into their world of intrigue, deception, and witchcraft like you’ve never read before. Deeply rooted in earth magic, the tendrils of witch generations reach out through time, the past affecting the future in ways unexpected and imaginative. It’s a master’s chess game of light versus dark magic that affects us all—even if the rest of world doesn’t realize it. Simon and Willa seem fated for true love, but I have to question whether it’s real or simply witchy thinking.
By the Moon, I guess I’ll have to wait until book two to find out!
Blood Moon, book one of The Moon Trilogy by Teri Harman is published by Jolly Fish Press and is available in hardback, trade paperback, and eBook from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other purveyors of fine books beginning June 22, 2013.
What if you had a powerful gift that was slowly killing you? What if at the moment you needed it most, it knocked you out cold? What if soldiers were hunting people with this gift and the only way to protect your family and everything you loved was to leave it behind?
Insight, book 1 of the Beholders, by Terron James is a sword and shield fantasy set in Appernysia. Seventeen year old Lon has the gift of True Sight, which in a trained Beholder’s hands allows a person to see the world’s energy and manipulate it. But Lon has never met another Beholder and doesn’t have a clue about how to use his gift. Just having it paints a target on his back for the Rayders, an invading army scouring the countryside for a True Sight Beholder. Lon soon realizes that for everyone’s sake, he has to leave his family to search for answers. It’s a journey that leads him to some remarkable revelations as he learns how harness and control his True Sight.
If it doesn’t kill him first.
Insight is an adventure quest full of battles, inner conflict, and humor. While this is mainly Lon’s story, I suspect Lon isn’t the only Beholder in the family.
Guess I’ll have to wait until book two to find out.
Insight, book one of Beholders by Terron James is published by Jolly Fish Press and is available in hardback, trade paperback, and eBook from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other purveyors of fine books beginning June 1, 2013.
Lehua, Ka‘ao a ka Wahine, by Gene J. Parola combines historical narrative with forbidden romance to paint a portrait of life in Hawai‘i circa 1819, just as Queen Ka‘ahumanu lifts the kapu, essentially abolishing the ancient Hawaiian religion and turning the caste system on its head. It’s a period of Hawaiian history that is often glossed over as teachers tend to quickly move to the coming of the Christian missionaries soon after, and I appreciated a more thoughtful approach to the effect these changes had on both the ali‘i and maka‘ainana—chiefs and commoners alike.
When I studied Hawaiian history in school, Queen Ka‘ahumanu’s actions were portrayed as noble, wise, modern. It’s only lately that the hardships of the kapu system and other less noble motives such as a desire for worldly material possessions at too high a cost are being openly discussed as part of a more balanced conversation about that time.
As a descendant of both the white merchants and the ali‘i, I remember many family conversations, arguments really, about the reasons the Hawaiian nation was eventually conquered by business interests supported by the US government and whether or not this was a pono. Through Lehua’s journey, I was better able to understand the different points of view.
I just wish I could go back in time to some of those family discussions and ask more questions!
Lehua is the first in a trilogy that follows a young ali‘i woman through this turbulent time. I look forward to continuing the conversation.
Connect with Gene J. Parola
If you scratched Kiana Davenport, beneath her sophisticated, erudite veneer I think you’d find the heartbeat of a no-nonsense Waimanalo titah, a contradiction that makes her work a delight to read.
I just finished Opium Dreams, volume three in her Pacific Stories collection, and like in her previous volumes Cannibal Nights and House of Skin, I found myself slipping into the skins of the narrators. You don’t read her stories so much as breathe them along with her characters. Her eye for the small telling detail that reveals epic amounts of information is exquisite and her deft handling of imagery often makes the prose sing like poetry.
Da titah can write. Period.
I’ve admired Kiana’s work for a long time. Her main characters are often mixed-raced Polynesian women trying to make a life for themselves on the margins of western culture. The women in her stories survive abuse, make poor choices, bow under the burdens of history and culture, and fall to the whims of turn-on-a-dime fate. They also seize life and triumph in ways large and small. They are spectacularly flawed, raw, and real. Kiana has the knack of taking something alien to most western experiences and making it universal.
In Opium Dreams, her stories are about anger and revenge, self-destruction, the inevitable consequences of action vs. inaction, and the grace of forgiveness. In Kiana’s worlds, family is who you chose, and that choice is everything.
Opium Dreams by Kiana Davenport is available as an eBook through Amazon and is her first foray into self-publishing. It’s a steal at 99 cents. Be sure to check out her other titles: House of Skin, Cannibal Nights, Shark Dialogues, House of Many Gods, Song of the Exile, and The Spy Lover. I guarantee you’ll be haunted by these characters’ lives for years.
Pono is a complex Hawaiian word with connotations of righteousness, balance, and propriety. It’s one of the themes I try to develop in the Niuhi Shark Saga as characters make choices that place them in or out of being pono.
Ho‘o means to do or make; so ho‘o pono describes a way of being, of living one’s life in harmony with correct principles. As a student at The Kamehameha Schools, our Hawaiian culture teacher once told us that if there was only one thing we could remember from our time with her, she wanted it to be the concept of ho‘o pono. While I can’t remember all the place names we memorized, which fish were kapu during which seasons, or the number of voyages to Tahiti and back, I do remember her words about ho‘o pono.
So it was with great interest that I picked up Pali Jae Lee’s book Ho‘o pono: The Hawaiian Way to Put Things Back into Balance. Part oral history, part memoir, the book shares some of the family traditions and stories handed down from Ka‘ili‘ohe and Makaweliweli descendants from Molokai.
One of the central stories is really a parable about ho‘o pono. All children are born with an upright bowl of Light that grows with them and allows them to know and understand all things. But when a child is resentful or envious, he drops a stone into his bowl and a little of the Light goes out. If enough stones fill his bowl, the child becomes like stone, unable to move or grow. By turning his bowl over, the stones fall away and Light comes back.
It’s a simple, beautiful, and elegant metaphor for all the baggage we carry—no matter the era. These and other parables help give a voice to the past in ways that resonate with the future.
There was a time in Hawaiian families when nothing sacred or significant was shared with outsiders because only family would understand and respect the deeper truths. Looking at Hollywood’s version of Hawaiian culture, it’s not a big stretch to say what is often portrayed as Hawaiian has been misinterpreted, twisted, or fabricated out of whole cloth. But times are changing, and as more families are coming forward with their histories that challenge common perceptions, a clearer, truer picture of Hawaiian culture is emerging.
May all your bowls be filled with Light.
Ho‘o pono: The Hawaiian Way to Put Things Back into Balance by Pali Jae Lee is published by I.M. Publishing, Ltd. and is available as an eBook, hardcover, and trade paperback from Amazon.
As a mail carrier in Kaneohe, Hawaii, Louise Golden brings a little aloha to the people along her route. When elderly Conchita Santos doesn’t meet her at the mailbox for the first time in two years, Louise goes looking. The house is unlocked, Pipsqueak the dog is unfed, and Mrs. Santo’s purse is still inside. Fearing the worst, Louise files a missing persons report and begins her own investigation, an investigation that leads to murder, a movie set, new shoes, a French manicure, and a hand-carved tiki with a secret.
Not your everyday week in paradise no matter how stellar the weather.
Almost Paradise, a Louise Golden Mystery by Laurie Hanan is a breezy afternoon beach read, an entertaining escape to sunny Hawaii. The protagonist, Louise Golden, is unmoored, drifting through life after a devastating loss. Nothing seems very permanent in Louise’s life. Through routines that include folk dance groups, piano sing along dates, Scrabble games, and peanut butter sandwiches Louise connects to the world through the family she creates. It’s busy, but not really fulfilling until she reaches out of her comfort zone and begins to grow. I’ve got the feeling that learning to make plumeria leis is just the start.
Almost Paradise, a Louise Golden Mystery by Laurie Hanan is published by Savant Books and Publications, LLC and is available in paperback and eBook from Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Be sure to look for book two, How Far is Heaven.
It’s not surprising that the latest census figures show that there are far more Hawaiians living outside of Hawai‘i than in it. Pepper Bibeau, the central figure in For Every Action There are Consequences by Gail M. Baugniet, fits into the pattern of islanders leaving for economically greener pastures, but trying to keep a bit of aloha in their lives.
After serving as a nurse in Vietnam, Pepper finds herself investigating insurance claims in 1968 Chicago, a time of racial unrest and social change. Along with unraveling the truth about medical claims and insurance fraud Pepper has to solve the murder of a friend killed while wearing Pepper’s coat. Wondering if the murder was mistaken identity, Pepper’s investigation leads her to explore things as diverse as sickle-cell anemia and drug trafficking.
Readers of crime fiction and mystery will feel at home here. It’s fast paced and easy to read, full of small details that pin it to the late 1960s. Descriptions of social norms and Pepper’s feelings about her Hawaiian identity being lumped into other ethnic groups was spot on. As late as the 1980s my sister’s modeling agency in Utah had her listed as ‘light black’ because ‘Hawaiian’ wasn’t on their radar no matter how often she corrected them. Pepper’s experiences in Chicago remind us of how far we’ve come.
What intrigued me most were the interactions Pepper had with her Hawai‘i ‘ohana. The Pidgin dialogue is used sparingly and to good effect. I really want to know more about Pepper’s son and the family raising him in Hawai’i!
Good thing book two in the series, Deadly as Nature, Envy Spawns Grief, is now available. I won’t have long to wait.
For Every Action There are Consequences and Deadly as Nature, Envy Spawns Grief, the first two books in the Pepper Bibeau Mystery series by Gail M. Baugniet, are self-published and available as paperbacks and eBooks on Amazon.
Connect with Gail M. Baugniet
Today’s post is an interview with Jenniffer Wardell, author of Fairy Godmother’s, Inc., published by Jolly Fish Press just last week. I caught up with Jenniffer as she shared her thoughts on her wonderful world of fairy tales with a twist.
To an outsider, having a career as a fairy godmother sounds pretty sweet. But poor Kate shows us it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be. What sparked the initial idea for Kate’s situation?
Kate sort of fell into her job. Certain companies are always looking for a hard worker who has her own set of highly atmospheric fairy wings, and Fairy Godmothers, Inc. was the one that didn’t require being obsessed with flowers or regularly mobbed by small children. Also, she likes helping people through stressful situations, and nothing is more stressful than a fancy dress ball.
I love reading your Facebook and Twitter posts about Fairy Godmother rules. Have you written an actual rule book or do these posts simply percolate through your brain and end up on social media?
I get them one rule at a time, which means that my numbering system is a complete and total mess. If I ever do organize them into a complete book, I’ll have to re-file everything and put them into the appropriate sub-categories. While I’m vaguely terrified by the idea, my inner geek would love it.
Your day job is reporting for the Davis Clipper. Do you approach writing fiction differently than reporting? If so, how do you switch mental hats?
The basic idea is surprisingly similar. Whether I’m writing an article or a novel, my main job is to watch what’s going on and translate it in such a way that my readers will know everything I do. Sometimes I’m watching city council meetings, and sometimes I’m watching fancy dress balls. Either way, “Show, don’t tell” are important words to live by.
Unfortunately, newspaper articles rarely give you the chance to be funny. Luckily, I have my novels for that.
I know you’ve written short fiction in the same world as Fairy Godmothers, Inc. Do you have plans for other works?
My novel set to come out in 2014, Beast Charming, is also set in the same world as Fairy Godmothers, Inc. I’m currently at work on a third novel in the same world (I’m having some fun with Sleeping Beauty this time), and have some ideas for a Fairy Godmothers, Inc. sequel.
Jenniffer Wardell is the arts, entertainment and lifestyle reporter for the Davis Clipper. She’s the winner of several awards from the Utah Press Association and the Utah Headliners Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. She currently lives in Salt Lake City, Utah.
What do you do when you’re a matchmaker with an iron-clad wish-fulfillment contract to make Rellie’s happily ever after happen with the heir to the throne of Somewhere, but not only is the prince unwilling, he’s gone missing and the new-found love of your life has to fill in? What if true love had a darker side, a potion that compels love to seal the forever after deal? And what if Rellie didn’t like glass slippers and wanted something furry?
Add in Bubbles the boss from hell, fairy wings, and entrance packages with firework flourishes and you’ve got a glimpse into Kate’s less than glamorous life as a fairy godmother.
Fairy Godmothers, Inc. by Jenniffer Wardell is a rollicking romp through familiar fairy tale characters and landscapes with a bureaucratic twist. Slipping into Kate’s wacky corporate world is delightful; the writing’s sharp and reminiscent of PG versions of The Nanny Diaries and Bridget Jones’s Diary. As Kate rallies against fate, contracts, and clients readers will fall in love with her plucky bravado.
Fairy Godmothers, Inc. is the first published novel set in Jenniffer’s fairy tale/super hero/monsters-that-don’t-sparkle world. Beast Charming is scheduled for 2014 and there are several short stories on her blog that give you a taste of her hilarious work.
Fairy Godmothers, Inc., by Jenniffer Wardell and published by Jolly Fish Press, is available April 27, 2013 in hardback, paperback, and eBook from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other purveyors of fine literature.
We are all products of our pasts, a combination of long ago childhood experiences and what we ate last night. Like an order of deluxe saimin noodles, Blood Orchids, the first book in The Lei Crime Series by Toby Neal is a multi-layered and nuanced murder mystery.
There are two mysteries—the noodles and miso soup of the novel. Lei Texeira is a beat cop in Hilo, Hawaii trying to figure out who’s murdering women and who’s playing a cat and mouse stalking game by leaving notes on her doorstep. There are a lot of possibilities and questions about whether it’s one perp or three and whether the crimes are related.
As the mystery deepens, Lei finds out more about her past and begins to understand how the abuses she triumphed in childhood continue to shape her today. Like thin slices of teri beef these revelations add substance to the soup by allowing the reader to infer more about the characters and their motivations than they know themselves.
There’s a budding romance angle—the chopped green onion—and extended family relationships—the pink and white striped fish cake—but the real seasoning is in Neal’s deft handling of the setting. It’s a difficult thing to write a novel for a wide audience that authentically portrays life in Hawaii and Toby’s nailed it. She balances on the fine high wire of explaining just enough that readers unfamiliar with the culture get it without boring or oversimplifying it in the eyes of islanders. There’s a little Pidgin dialogue in Blood Orchids—Pidgin Light, you could say—enough to add flavor without a lot of work on the part of non-native speakers.
One of the highest compliments I can give is that Toby makes the setting seem normal and natural. Yes, it’s set in Hawaii. Yes, there are beaches, kālua pig plate lunches, funerals with remembrance stones, and all respected elders are called aunty and uncle, but none of this is center stage or explained too deeply. It’s all about the characters and the story.
And what a story it is.
Blood Orchids, book one in The Lei Crime Series by Toby Neal is self-published and available as a trade paperback and eBook on Amazon and on her website. Can’t wait to read the sequels: Torch Ginger, Black Jasmine, and Broken Fern.
Connect with Toby Neal