08 January 2013

Passing Along: Passages to the Past: Giveaway: The Last Summer by Judith Kinghorn

Passages to the Past: Giveaway: The Last Summer by Judith Kinghorn: I received an extra ARC of Judith Kinghorn's new release, The Last Summer , so I'm giving it away to one lucky reader! Pub Date:  Decemb...

Tuesday's Reveiw: Daughters of Fire by Tom Peek

When I read that this book picked up where James A. Michener's Hawaii left off,  I was all in.  Ever since I learned to read, I have loved reading about other eras and cultures, and from that perspective, the Michener classic was a double hit with me.  In fact, I count in among the best books I have ever read, and the beginning of my fascination with the Polynesian culture in general.  Since then I have read many books about Hawai'i and the Polynesian culture.

To say that this book picks up where Michener's  left off is a bit misleading.  Upon reading that, I expected a book centered on the history of Hawai'i from Statehood to the present.  What this book is, to my joy, is a top-notch contemporary fiction book about modern day Hawai'i and the cultural, economic, and political forces that are at play there.  It is truly a 'tale that illuminates the spirit of a native Hawaiian people struggling to keep faith the aloha.'

I'm not sure what Tom Peek's background is, or what compelled him to write a book about Hawai'i, but I am very glad that he did.  The story that he weaves of these 16 days on the Big Island of Hawai'i is a compelling one that will keep you turning the pages and stay with you after you finish.  It was easy to involve myself in the lives of the main protagonist; Hawaiian born anthropologist, Maile, who is trying to balance the "old ways" that she grew up with and modern life, and Mainland born astronomer who finds himself, not only in love with Maile, but caught up in a web of murder and politics.  I particularly enjoyed the way that the author used them, and the other characters in the book, to represent the various factions at play in today's Hawai'i.  Giving each faction a voice, and portraying them as themselves, neither good nor evil, but trying to fit in and pursue their vision of what Hawai'i is.

In addition to crafting great characters for this work, Peek's prose flows through the pages with all of the rhythm an feeling of the old Hawaiian legends.  In fact, these legends are the backdrop for the story that he tells.  I had read about several of the legends before in  other books, but thoroughly enjoyed the way that the author used them as a backdrop for his story, giving the story as a whole a truly Hawaiian feel.  In short, the combination of story and legend transported me, making me feel that I was actually on the island, dealing with the problems of clashing cultures.

In the end, I really struggled with the rating for this book, and would love to have given it 4.5 stars.  I ended with giving it 4 stars as it did not quite hit me the way that Michener's work did.  Nonetheless, it was highly enjoyable and gets a huge recommendation from me.  In fact, I think this one is a  treasure and definitely deserves more exposure and should garner many more readers.  

07 January 2013

What I hope 2013 will bring, the reader's version

Welcome to 2013!  Do you have a New Year's Resolution?  Many of my friends say that they do not make New Year's resolutions because they do not keep them very well.  As for me, I always make them, even though I don't often make it through the whole year.  So, what are my reading resolutions for this year?  Last year I had a very ambitious reading goal as well as several challenge goals.  For this year, I think I will scale it back a bit.  Here are my goals for the following year:

Read at least 70 books  - This breaks down to six books a month, which should be readily doable.  Many months I read more than 70 books.  It mostly depends on the type of books that I am reading. Last year my family and I took a 5 week vacation for the summer, and it really cut into my reading time.  On the flip side, though, I managed to take 5000 pictures on our trip.  I already have 50 books listed on my "to be read in 2013" list, and I am sure that the list does not even represent what I have slated for the first few months.  I guess I should have titled the list "hope to read in 2013".

Be more discriminating in my reading challenges -   I love reading challenges, especially those where you have to plan ahead for what you are going to read.  I get so caught up in the creativity that people display in coming up with challenge requirements, that I want to do them all.  Last year I got so distracted by all of the challenges that I did not manage to finish even a single one.  This year I plan to pick a few that are must finishes, even if I do work on some others.  As the year goes on, I will let you know my progress and which challenges are must finishes for me.  I do know that I am working on two challenges designed to help clear out/read some of the books that I actually own, or that have been around the longest.  These books have really fallen through the cracks the last few years.  I figure I should be able to fit in one or two of these a month while I am reading and reviewing all of the wonderful new books I come across.

Review, Review, Review -  I have found that I really enjoy writing book reviews.  My husband says that I have missed my calling in this regard.  Of course he says this while shaking his head as I triumphantly hold up another book, or download another one and shout, "All right!  I just got this great new book to read."  Sometimes I think he thinks that I am nuts.  Most of the time I think he is just amazed at how much time and energy I can give to reading.

Catch up - Another goal for 2013 is to start a few series that I have been wanting to read, as well as catch up on some that I have been reading and fallen behind on.  The same goes for some of my favorite authors.  While it is always fun to find new series and new authors to fall in love with, I find that I am really missing some of my old favorites.   Although having said that, I already have 11 books on my "upcoming books to get" list of anticipated new releases, and I am finding more every day.

Read with friends - While I love reading for challenges, reviewing, etc.  I also have a few friends that I love to read and discuss with.  This year I plan to read at least one book a month with a friend and have a discussion about it.  After all, we all like to be able to share our joy and enthusiasm for books with others, don't we?

So - Happy 2013 Everyone.  I will see you back here often with news, reviews, and just random thoughts.