Hawaii's Summer Reading List

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Hawaii's Summer Reading List

Posted by: Kim Steutermann Rogers
Destination: Hawaii Island
Jun 15, 2009

You know how it is with Facebook. You receive emails from people with whom you graduated from high school 25 years ago. You receive emails from people you don’t know but who fanned the same group as you. You receive emails from people who say they know someone in common with you. And they all want to be your friend. That’s how it was with Mia King. I didn’t know Mia King. I hadn’t ever met her before. In her email, she said that I knew a good friend of hers and that I knew her husband. She was right. On both accounts. She knows my friend and fellow blogger Patricia Wood, author of the novel Lottery, and she's married to Darren Gee, a golf instructor about whom I once wrote for Hawaii magazine.  So, I friended her.  Boy, was I glad I did.  I immediately clicked on the information tab on her Facebook page. Turns out, Mia King is a published author, living on Big Island. It's always good to connect with other writers in Hawaii.

Meeting Mia got me thinking of putting together a reading list for you—of Hawaii-based writers with books either wholly or partially set in Hawaii. Good reads while on your Hawaii vacation.  With Mia’s help, I created this summer reading list. (If you want, I am sure Mia wouldn’t mind if you friend’ed her on Facebook. While you’re at it, you can "fan" me at OutriggerHawaii’s new Facebook page or follow me here on Twitter.)

Sweet Life by Mia King
What if you got away from it all–and then it all got away from you?
When her husband gets a new job, Marissa Price, 40, leaves the island of Manhattan for the island of Hawaii. Paradise seems like the perfect place to find herself, save her marriage, and reconnect with her daughter. But Marissa soon discovers that her new life is less about beaches and beautiful sunsets and more about cows and lava flows. Their new “home” is a fixer-upper at best, and her brilliant daughter suddenly wants to be homeschooled. But what needs fixing the most–her marriage–is the first thing to crumble when her husband announces he wants time apart to find himself. Pulled in opposite directions, Marissa is faced with the most important decision of her life–a choice that will define who she is, what she wants, and where her happiness lies.

Destination: Marriage by Jill Marie Landis
DESTINATION: MARRIAGE is a collection of three wedding themed novellas. One is by Jo Leigh, who has written over forty books for Silhouette and is a triple Rita Award finalist. She was part of the launch of the Harlequin Blaze line. Another story is by Jackie Braun, a three time Rita Award finalist as well who writes traditional romances for Silhouette. Jill Marie Landis’ story is entitled “Trouble in Paradise” and it is set on Kauai, Hawaii. Carrie Evans is set to marry Kurt Rowland in Hawaii. Unfortunately, he misses the plane. After she reads an in-flight magazine story about signs and omens as warnings for danger and misfortune, she begins to wonder whether a destination wedding was a good idea.

Flirting with Forty by Jane Porter
Playful and smart, a coming-of-middle age story of a woman not ready to give up on love and life.
He got the second home and the Porsche. She got the kids and a broken heart. Now Jackie, post-divorce and heading toward the big four-oh, is on vacation, staring down her upcoming birthday in sunny Hawaii—alone. But not for long. She's soon falling for Kai, her gorgeous, much younger surf instructor, and the wild passionate fling they have becomes the biggest surprise of Jackie's life.
Returning home, Jackie has to struggle with single parenthood...and memories of Kai. He hasn't forgotten her either. With her friends disapproving and thousands of ocean --not to mention an age difference--separating them, Jackie starts to wonder what she got herself into. When a choice must be made, can she, will she risk everything for her chance at happiness?

Here Today, Gone to Maui by Carol Snow
When Jane Shea sets off for a week at a luxurious Maui resort, she worries about missing her flight. She worries about losing her luggage.  It never even occurs to her that she might misplace her boyfriend.  It’s not that Jane – human resources professional, weekend baker and compulsive list maker – doesn’t know how to let loose. In her twenties she left the northeast for an uncharted life in California. In her thirties she ditched a perfectly nice IT manager for Jimmy James, a hot waiter in tight pants who just happens to run a scuba equipment company. There’s only so much spontaneity a woman can take, though, and Jane hopes a romantic week in Maui will lead to something more permanent.  But paradise has a way of attracting trouble, and before Jane even has a chance to learn the hula or paddle under a waterfall, Jimmy disappears without so much as an “Aloha.” When the police conclude that Jimmy has drowned, Jane thinks things can’t get any worse – but the trouble has just begun. This is one vacation the guidebooks didn’t warn her about.

The Descendents by Kaui Hart Hemmings

Hemmings's bittersweet debut novel, an expansion of her first published short story ("The Minor Wars," from House of Thieves and originally published in StoryQuarterly), stars besieged and wryly introspective attorney Matt King, the land-rich descendant of Hawaiian royalty and American missionaries and entrepreneurs. He wrestles with the decision of whether to keep his swath of valuable inherited land or sell it to a real estate developer. But even more critical, Matt also has to decide whether to pull the plug on his wife, Joanie, who has been in an irreversible coma for 23 days following a boat-racing accident. Then Matt finds out that Joanie was having an affair with real estate broker Brian Speer, impelling him to travel with his two daughters—precocious 10-year-old Scottie and fresh from rehab 17-year-old Alex—from Oahu to Kauai to confront Brian. Matt finds out the truth about Joanie and Brian, which influences his decision about what to do with his family's on-the-block land and complicates his plans for Joanie. Matt's journey with his girls forms the emotional core of this sharply observed, frequently hilarious and intermittently heartbreaking look at a well-meaning but confused father trying to hold together his unconventional family.

Hotel Honolulu by Paul Theroux

Scrappy, satiric and frowsily exotic, this loosely constructed novel of debauchery and frustrated ambition in present-day Hawaii debunks the myth of the island as a vacationer's paradise. The episodic narrative is presided over by two protagonists: the unnamed narrator, a has-been writer who leaves the mainland to manage the seedy Hotel Honolulu, and raucous millionaire Buddy Hamstra, the hotel's owner and former manager, who fired himself to give the narrator his job. The narrator is at once amused and moved by Buddy, "a big, blaspheming, doggy-eyed man in drooping shorts," who is as reckless in his personal life as he is in his business dealings. He hires the writer despite his lack of qualifications, and the writer returns the favor in loyalty and affection, acting as witness to Buddy's flamboyant decline. As the hotel's manager, the writer comes to know a succession of downtrodden travelers and Hawaii residents, each more eccentric than the next. Typical are a wealthy lawyer whose amassed fortune does not bring him happiness; a past-her-prime gossip columnist involved in a love triangle with her bisexual son and her son's male lover; and a man who is obsessed with a woman he meets through the personals. Theroux, never one to tread lightly, often portrays native Hawaiians including the writer's wife as simpleminded, craven souls. But he is an equal-opportunity satirist, skewering all his characters except perhaps his alter-ego narrator and Leon Edel, the real-life biographer of Henry James, who makes an extended, unlikely cameo appearance. The lack of conventional plot and the dreariness of life at Hotel Honolulu make the narrative drag at times, but Theroux's ear and eye are as sharp as ever, his prose as clean and supple. (May)Forecast: A nine-city author tour kicks off a promotional blitz for Hotel Honolulu, which includes a sweepstakes with a trip to Hawaii as prize. More carefully worked than Kowloon Tong, Theroux's last novel, and more familiar in setting, this may be one of the part-time Hawaii resident's better selling efforts.


Note: All book descriptions and synopses come from Amazon or the author’s own websites. 

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