Sunday, April 10, 2011

Hawaii Book Blog Re-Launch!

Thanks for visiting

The web site is currently under construction as we are in the process of uploading a brand new web experience for you. The site will be down for a few hours but should be back up on Monday, April 11. We look forward to your thoughts on our new look, design and structure. We think you'll be very happy with the results.


Hawaii Book Blog crew

Thursday, June 11, 2009


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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Upcoming Book Events: Free Fiction Writing Workshop

Mark your calendars! Award winning authors, Wendy Miyake and Michael Little will be hosting a free writer’s workshop at Aina Haina Public Library on Saturday, September 13th, from 10:00 a.m. to noon. Both will briefly discuss their individual writing and publishing experiences but will also host a workshop on creating successful short stories.

Wendy and Michael were both winners in HONOLULU Magazine’s Fiction Contest and they have both been published in issues of BAMBOO RIDGE, Journal of Hawai’i Literature and Arts. Their creative experience combined should be a worthwhile learning experience for any aspiring author.

Wendy Miyake has published a collection of short stories called Beads, Boys and the Buddha and most recently a semi-autobiographical novel, The Bodhisattva Club. Her stories are humorous and culturally enlightening tales with universal appeal. Her books and stories have been praised for encouraging diversity.

Michael Little is President of the Romance Writers of America Aloha Chapter and the author of several books and short stories including “Seven Ways to Tell If You Married a Cosmo Girl” which appears in the latest Bamboo Ridge collection, issue 91.

This workshop is sponsored by The Hawaii State Public Library System and The Romance Writer’s of America Aloha Chapter at

“Writing Short Stories”
FREE Fiction Writers Workshop
Hosted by Wendy Miyake and Michael Little
Saturday, Sept. 13th 10:00-12:00

A Waikiki "Stay-cation"

posted by M.L. Sanico

Speaking of airlines, and overwhelming travel costs, my family and I decided on a Waikiki “stay-cation” for a long weekend off. The recent specials and kama’aina rates inspired us to revisit old stomping grounds and check out the changes to Waikiki’s landmark locations… some of which we, sadly, have not visited in years!

Just two weeks ago, I serendipitously came across an interesting book on walking tours of Waikiki. Waikiki: Nine Walks Through Time is a brochure sized, spiral bound book, mapping out various “walks” through Waikiki. The trails are varying lengths, so you can do a short walk or something broader to the area, and each trail is different so you never see the same thing twice. My family and I particularly enjoyed the trail outlined along the Ala Wai, it was perfect for an evening stroll–it wasn’t too long, and we were away from the hustle of Kalakaua Avenue.

The great thing about this book, even for local residents, is that it is chock full of history and facts about almost every street and building in the Waikiki area. I learned things that I never knew and I’ve passed these streets and buildings a thousand times! The book includes old pictures so you can see the difference between then and now, short mini-bios of people who influenced the area, and the roles that certain places played in pop cultures past. Learning new things about the places we see everyday was fun for my whole family and prompted many discussions. The most valuable of which were my parent’s memories of how Waikiki used to be… a plate-lunch place here, a novelty store there, swimming at the Natatorium. It was great to hear their stories and feel the presence of the past through their words.

The experience was worth far more than the twelve dollars it cost to buy the book and we plan on using it again for the other eight trails outlined. Some trails take you through Waikiki’s most famous and recognizable landmarks, so the book is ideal for visitors as well. It’s a fantastic alternative for anyone who wants to see a few local and historic sites, get a little exercise, and have fun without spending a ton of money.

If you’d like to peruse other resources for walking tours of Waikiki, I suggest visiting this website. However, the different points of interest highlighted are not as many and not nearly as detailed as those in this book.

On the subject of walking tours, historic or otherwise, Downtown Honolulu is also a popular bet (especially for architecture). Click here to see a special insert that the Star Bulletin did on historic downtown buildings.

Happy trails!

"Wings of Paradise": Hawaii's history of flight brings insight to our turbulent times

posted by A. Alba

The culture of aviation has strong ties to Hawaii. Being an island chain isolated in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, air transportation becomes a necessity towards our way of life and Hawaii has served as the fertile soil for the birth of many unique air carriers. Whether through our strong dependence on tourism, visiting relatives on the neighbor islands, or shipping goods throughout the state, our native airlines not only provide us with a vital service but are a part of our culture, our family and our livelihood. Peter N. Forman’s Wings of Paradise: Hawaii’s Incomparable Airlines is the story of these homegrown airlines and the competitive world of the airline business. Of course, you can’t talk about airlines in Hawaii without mentioning the big two: Hawaiian Airlines and Aloha Airlines. This is mostly their story, but it’s also the story of the numerous upstarts who challenged their dominance and the many other local commuters who served smaller, niche services and became local institutions in their own right.

The first few chapters were my favorite. They told the story of a young man in the steamship business who had a vision that air travel would be the way of the future. This vision became Inter-Island Airways, the predecessor to Hawaiian Airlines. It was fascinating reading about how they pioneered the concept of commercial aviation between the islands. Air travel was not common back then, so Inter-Island Airways had to slowly gain the public’s trust such as initiating service with amphibious planes which eased the minds of passengers who feared of going down over the water. Occurrences such as a volcano eruption could save you from a financial lull, as passenger counts dramatically rose making airlines scramble to offer customers aerial tours of the volcanic scene. The chapter on World War II is an exciting read, as you get to experience the attack on Pearl Harbor and subsequent implementation of martial law through the civilian eyes of Hawaii’s first airline.

As a former employee of Aloha Airlines, and one who is interested in the history of Hawaii as seen through the blue skies above us, Wings of Paradise provided me with a lot of insight and interesting material. I was tickled to find that the street I drive down to work every morning is named after famed Hawaiian Airlines pioneer, “Captain Sam” Elliot. Or that Kahului Airport’s funky three-letter abbreviation, OGG, was named after Hawaiian chief pilot, Jim Hogg, who aided the FAA in certifying VOR navigational aids by flying tedious routings at Maui. Naturally I loved reading about the rise of “the people’s airline” as Rudy Tongg started up Trans-Pacific Airlines as a business where local people and Asian workers could feel more at home and provide the people of Hawaii with a distinctly fresh product. Soon, this airline would become known for its friendly spirit as Aloha Airlines. From this point, the book becomes a study of the airline industry as Aloha and Hawaiian engage in cutthroat competition in order to gain market share through price wars, branding, service, marketing and the powerful sway of introducing new aircraft to the fleet. They did not fight alone, as the book details the numerous upstarts who challenged the “big two” by using a low-cost model to compete with lower prices.

Unfortunately, the unwritten epilogue of this story is a sad one. Aloha Airlines closed down its operation on March 31, 2008 after 61 years of service. Finally, one of the “upstart” airlines, backed up with financial clout from Arizona, was able to come and help write the final chapter in this long saga. But knowing the ending to this 61 year old dogfight should not prevent you from picking up this book.

Obviously, this is a must-read for anybody into aviation as it provides a wonderful story of our unique aviation history. It is also a great study into the world of business and economics, as both Hawaiian, Aloha and the rest employed numerous business strategies often with dramatic results. Finally, it provides a nice snapshot of Hawai’i throughout the 20th century seen through the lens of her native airlines. Wings of Paradise is easy to read and even those who are unfamiliar with the technical aspects will soon understand all the nuances of each airline’s fleet with the descriptive storytelling that Forman peppers throughout the book. Much of the book is told through entertaining and insightful anecdotes collected from former pilots and employees and it is these stories that propel the book forward and provide you with substantial examples that put you in the middle of the flight deck. For these treasures alone, Wings of Paradise is definitely worth a read!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A busy summer Saturday!

There were several book events happening simultaneously in Honolulu on Saturday (July 19th). Try as I might, and only successfully in the realm of my imagination, I have a hard time being in two places at once. Alas, I am a mere mortal slave to things like time…and traffic.

The first was an all afternoon story time event hosted by The Honolulu Navy Exchange and the Read It Loud Foundation with Clifford the Big Red Dog featured as a special guest. A big colorful carpet was laid out on the second floor of the department store’s toy section, welcoming children to sit and wait for the stories to begin. There were balloons and book displays and several plushie versions of Chip & Cookie, characters created by famed cookie-maker Wally Amos to encourage parents to read to their children and promote literacy in development.

Following the sale of his “Famous Amos” brand, Wally Amos moved to Oahu for some R&R– except he’s been anything but idle! He’s back to baking and has opened a store that sells delectable mini-cookies by the pound. He even reads aloud to children regularly at his store/bakery in Kailua (see here for a schedule of his Saturday story sessions).

Also attending the event was Tammy Yee, the author and popular illustrator of several local picture books, to sign autographs and talk to fans and children about creating picture books. She is one of my favorite artists from the islands and has garnered much acclaim on the mainland and internationally as well. Check out her webpage in our link section! Reviews and feedback on some of her books are forthcoming.

The second event was being held all the way at Aina Haina public library, and I didn’t quite make it there in time. Lynde Lakes is a published author and member (former president) of the Romance Writer’s Association Hawaii Chapter –see their webpage in HBB’s link list and favorite sites! Lynde held a one hour presentation on the challenges of getting published using her book Billboard Cop as an example. I am very sad to have missed such a useful presentation but look forward to more events hosted by RWA Hawaii.

Hawaii Book Blog on Goodreads website!

Have you heard of Goodreads? It’s a social networking site for book lovers and a fantastic resource for useful book reviews...and it’s fun! Take a look at the never-ending book quiz to test your literary chops! Create your profile and show off your book lists, read special interviews with authors, review books and join discussion groups like Hawaii Book Blog! Check us out!

I did a preliminary search for different book titles/authors from Hawaii and was delighted to see many of them pop up. I was very interested in learning about which books from Hawaii resonated with people and what they liked about them. It’s also great to see real reader feedback, and not a journalistic review on many of the books. That kind of input is valuable for those with so many books and so little time!

Monday, July 7, 2008

*LAST DAY* for Honolulu's BIGGEST Booksale

Saturday, June 6th was the last day of the ‘Friends of the Library of Hawaii’ annual book sale. This is the day when you have to put your treasure hunting skills and patience to the test! All books went for fifty cents, sometimes less, but those literary gems were harder to come by in the leftovers. Most of them had already been picked up during the earlier days of the sale, but it was actually a bit easier to sift through since the overwhelming amount of books had been weened.

This year had been one of the biggest sales the Friends have hosted. They expanded into the common areas and school hallways setting up tables of fiction, children’s books and history/politics outside! The trade-winds came through the tent and made it quite comfortable for perusing books.

There were more check-out stations this year and more fantastic volunteers to help or direct you. The long lines and cramped areas of yester-year were long gone. The result of the ‘Friends’ hard work was obvious with this years sale success and there were even small business vendors outside selling refreshments and baked goods if you needed a break from your bargain book hunting.
Word must have spread about the potential for this sale because it’s busier than I’ve ever seen it! I'm looking forward to an even bigger and better sale next year.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Children's Literature Conference

The 14th Biennial Conference titled “Sharing Memories, Shaping Possibilities” and hosted by Children’s Literature Hawai’i and UH Manoa, was held on the last weekend of June. Teachers, authors and illustrators gathered to discuss various topics specific to children’s literature and Hawai’i during this two day event culminating in a children’s fair on Saturday, June 28th.

Keynote speakers Ralph Fletcher and Barry Moser were present throughout the entire conference holding special writing and illustration sessions for adults and teens. Ralph Fletcher is an author and educator from the mainland, and Barry Moser is an author and illustrator who also operates his own printing press.

I was only able to attend the Friday sessions, or the beginning half of the conference since I had a book sale to checkout the next day but I was sad to miss the rest of it. Ralph Fletcher’s keynote speech was interactive and illuminating and you could tell he cares deeply about encouraging children to write, and helping adults write for children. If you visit his website, he even provides children with his email address so they can contact him directly with any questions or ideas they have. He charmingly began his keynote speech by sharing some of his favorite emails with us.

He also briefly commented on the oral traditions of Hawaii, and about how ‘talking story’ is such a big part of local culture. He further explained that many of his interesting story ideas come from things that happen in ordinary life, and that writing them and sharing them is a lot like ‘talking story’. Later, he provided handouts of the first draft manuscript for Hello Harvest Moon and we examined the differences between that and the final version, as well as his email from the editor. It was a great example of the process of publication.

Some of the short sessions I participated in afterward:

  • Interpreting Gender through Children’s Literature
  • A Literary Map of Hawai’i (be on the lookout for more on this!)
  • Beyond the Islands: Creating Stories with Universal Appeal

By far the most exciting session I attended, especially in relation to this blog, was the Literary Map session hosted by Helen Slaughter, a UH professor. She has founded an organization dedicated to mapping Hawai’i’s literature as a reference for teachers, students and parents to help promote literacy and give people a better idea of what stories are out there and where they come from. It would be an organic kind of reading list, interactive and personal because it gives stories and authors a sense of place…makes them even more relatable and a part of the community. After hearing her speak and learning about some of her goals for the literary map of Hawai’i, I cannot help but be excited and optimistic about the future of Hawai’i’s books. I am definitely looking forward to the next conference in 2010!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Lili'uokalani: Queen & Author

Hawai’i has inspired many people and some of its most historically recognized authors are also its most influential monarchs. Queen Lili’uokalani published Hawai’i’s Story by Hawai’i’s Queen in 1898, just before annexation. The overthrow of the Hawaiian Monarchy is a controversial topic of debate so naturally Lili’uokalani’s book is controversial as well. After publication, her authorship of this provacative and intimate portrayal of Hawai’i’s royal history was questioned.

Controversy aside, this book is absolutely enchanting! Read about the monarchy, Hawaiian government, society and culture–all through the eyes of a queen who lovingly describes her land and people with inspiring detail. This book reminded me of a regency novel, similar to Jane Austens popular stories of Edwardian life, only more heartwrenching because of the real life political turbulence that provides the conflict of her story. It has the same vibrance and grace but with an underlying sadness in its language and imagery.

Perhaps the greatest testament to her skills as a writer and to her unique voice, is the honor of being recognized as one of history’s greatest female authors. You can read an electronic version of Hawai’i’s Story by Hawai’i’s Queen at the site below, A Celebration of Women Writers. She is in great company there.

If you’re interested in learning more about how the book itself was written, and why her authorship has been debated, the following essay is a great place to start. It was written by a University of Hawaii professor who studied Queen Lili’uokalani’s diaries extensively. Queen Lili’uokalani kept several diaries from 1896 through 1897. These diaries, along with her memories of childhood, were used to compile the manuscript for her book.

The Diary of Queen Lili’uokalani

Monday, June 23, 2008

61st Annual 'Friends of the Library of Hawaii' Book Sale!

This is the mother of all used book sales, and if you’ve never been to one of these hosted by the ‘Friends of the Library’ then you’re in for a treat. For one whole week they fill (and refill) the entire cafeteria with used and out of circulation books! All the books are priced at a steal, some of them rare and out of print, some of them brand new– either way it’s a deal.

Book lovers can come out of there with oodles of bound treasures. I hurt my back one year carrying a box that was clearly not meant to hold 75 pounds of books. So bring your backpacks and your canvas totes and get ready to hunt for some literary treasure. The cafeteria is laid out by genre, with a very generous children’s section, and a Hawaiiana section as well!

The only setback is that the cafeteria can get very hot. With all the people and books, it can be positively sweltering. A tanktop and shorts is the usual dress code, or you can opt to visit the book sale at night when it’s cooler. The ‘Friends of the Library’ also sell water and refreshments so you can take a break before heading in for round two. All proceeds from the sale go to the Hawaii Public Library system. Books and charity, you can’t go wrong!
Click here for the official hours of operation.
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Thursday, June 19, 2008

"Hawai'i's Party Food" equals elegant pupus!

It's my inaugural post and I thought I'd start with something we consider a priority here in Hawai'i... food!

Food is an important part of our cultural identity here in the islands--the only place you'll find such unique multi-ethnic concotions as Spam Musubi and Poi Mochi. Ohana is also important and we express our love for each other through food and celebration. Holiday dinners usually include sushi, poke and lumpia in addition to the traditional western fare because we just gotta have variety! And since everyone brings something, even if you tell them 'no need', you inevitably wind up with an ecclectic mish-mash of yummy things.
Cookbooks are among Hawaii's most well known contributions to the world of publishing and I thought I'd take a look at one of the recent releases.

Hawai'i's Party Food
by Muriel Miura is the perfect book for anyone wishing to jazz up some of our local favorites. Read more....

To read more about this book and others at Hawaii Book Blog, visit our main page at: