Freshly brewed in Hawaii and sent to you with love.
Happy Holidays to you! As I'm sure you know, the big excitement over here is the stunning eruption of Mauna Loa for the first time in 38 years. I missed the 1984 eruption, and while I've seen Kilauea flows over the years, this is my first time seeing Mauna Loa with lava running down her flank in such spectacular fashion. It makes the holidays feel extra special❤️
This is a short & sweet newsletter, and here's what I have for you:
This audiobook special is going on for the month of December! Here is my obligatory book shot with Mauna Loa in the background. You can see a tiny speck of lava at the base of the clouds.
2 Recent Reads for Animal Lovers
By Lynda Rutledge
West With Giraffes
This is a tense read, brimming with anticipation of what is waiting right around the corner. These two giraffes captured my heart from the get go and Woody is a character to really root for. I found myself holding my breath, hoping time after time he would make the right decision. West With Giraffes is a coming of age tale that is full of adventure and mishaps and keen insights into human behavior. It's also fascinating to ride cross country with this band of characters and get a taste for America in the 1930s. A great read for animal lovers.
By Shelby Van Pelt
Remarkably Bright Creatures
I listened to this for my book club (at 1.8x speed because I put it off until 2 days before), and I absolutely loved it! So much so, I just bought the print book too, and plan on savoring that one. Shelby Van Pelt is a master at creating characters to root for, as well as a plot that really pulls you along. Her inclusion of Marcellus' (the octopus) point of view was also genius. A very human and feel good book that I highly recommend. This is a book I will also be gifting family and friends.
Bookish & foodie friends! Have you heard of The Book Club Cookbook? It's such a fun concept – recipes inspired by books📚 You can find my dad's famous mango bread recipe on their website (click on the photo), and others Codebreaker themed recipes borrowed from sources below. Also, check out @thebookclubcookbook IG posts to read about why I chose these recipes! R E C I P E S O U R C E S 🌱Upside Down Passion Fruit Cheesecake Pots @jamieoliver 🍍Pineapple Pizza @giadadelaurentiis 🍹Frederico Cocktail (the drink of the @maunakeahotel ) @travelagewest 🍌Peanut butter and Chocolate Banana @earthyandy
Though we knew it was coming, with all these big earthquakes we've been having, when I first heard Mauna Loa was actually erupting, I threw on my warm clothes, grabbed the binoculars and was out of the house five minutes later. Here are a couple pics from two different vantage points.
Watching the curtains of lava fountaining, and then the glowing rivers flowing towards Saddle Road and the ever changing plume above was like seeing a dream or an old movie.
Or maybe the memory was from a book. When you write about something happening, it almost feels as though you've experienced it✨
Here is a short passage from Red Sky Over Hawaii, on the 1942 eruption of Mauna Loa. I would have included more but didn't want to give spoilers for those of you who have not read it yet.
"The glow blotted out the stars in half the sky. Lana was reminded how nature always had the last say. Lava built the ground up, while at the same time swallowing everything in its path––trees, roads, houses. There was nothing anyone could do but surrender. Maybe she should take note."
Future Books Update
My 6th novel, Her Most Perilous Flight,[inspired by the Dole Air Race] is slated for release in spring of 2024. That means that 2023 will be the first year in quite some time that I don't have a book releasing, which is bittersweet.
That doesn't mean I won't be writing, though! I am working on an as of yet unannounced project (can't wait to share more) and when that is done I'll be starting my next historical novel. I pitched my editor 3 very different story ideas, and just got the green light on one of them. Yay! This novel is another dual timeline split between 1905 and a more current year (70s perhaps, I haven't quite decided) and is largely set in Waikiki. It involves a real life mystery and I am VERY excited to tackle this one.
I also have a couple non historical novels up my sleeve, as well as a book on novel writing that I would love to put out into the world. And have I mentioned a writers retreat in the works? Stay tuned for more on that.
For all you writers out there, would you be interested in a writers retreat in Hawai'i? Just curious.
This is ALOHA, one of the planes in the Dole Air Race, 1927.
Which of your books is your favorite? It’s very hard for me to choose, but I think I have to say Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers. I love the characters and the setting and I think because it’s the one most closely based on my grandmother and mother’s stories, it feels special to me. I also really loved writing from Ella’s (the young girl) point of view, and how she experienced the war. If you had to pick a favorite character, who would it be? Sorry, but I can’t do that, lol. But I will say this: there are always characters that seem easier to write, who come alive on the pages for me and I develop a real fondness for, aside from my main characters. Like Jean and Bernard Lalamilo in Sweet Pies, Brandy the dog in The Lieutenant’s Nurse, Coco and Sailor (the Great Dane) in Red Sky, Fluff in Radar Girls, and Matteo Russi in Codebreaker. Do you have a favorite scene in your books? In each book, there are always a couple scenes I really had fun writing. One that stands out is the Waipio Valley scene (Sweet Pies) where Violet and Parker go to the waterfall and encounter Bernard Lalamilo.
I also loved immersing myself aboard the Matson SS Lurline in The Lieutenant’s Nurse, imagining how incredible a journey it would have been.
And in Red Sky, I loved when Lana and the girls hike down into the crater and Coco wishes the volcano would erupt.
Also, that opening scene in Radar Girls! That came to me as though it was a movie playing in my mind.
In Codebreaker, I love the scene on Goat Island, and also the part where the two storylines converge. That was so satisfying to write.
I guess that is more than one scene. Sorry! Which of your books would you most like to see made into a movie? I would have to say The Lieutenant’s Nurse. Again, I’d love to see the Matson SS Lurline crossing to Hawaii brought to life, and then all those mysterious radio signals along the way. The Pearl Harbor scenes, too. I think it would all be so cinematic. So gut wrenching, and yet also uplifting.
IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS FOR ME, PLEASE EMAIL ME AND I WILL DO MY BEST TO ANSWER IN FUTURE NEWSLETTERS
Thank you for being here! I am so grateful to each and every one of you. Wishing you and yours a holiday season full of cheer and love and good health, and plenty of hope for the future.