Featured Articles

  • 2014 Hawaii Book Publishers Holiday SALE!

    After the loss of BORDERS Bookstores and the recent closing of the Kahala Mall Barnes & Noble, there are fewer opportunities to properly peruse through the latest Hawai’i books. Even at the Hawai’i Book and Music Festival it’s hard to get a grasp on all the different titles that are being published locally. Well, the Hawaii Book Publishers Association is hosting a pop-up warehouse sale where you can explore the latest and greatest in local literature. It’s a one-of-a-kind shopping experience with books and gifts from publishers small and large, all in one place!

    This is the perfect opportunity to support local literature, start your holiday shopping, AND contribute to a good cause since a portion of sales benefits Aloha Harvest; donations of nonperishable canned food may be dropped off during sale hours.

    In the next couple of weeks, we’ll feature some of our favorite picks from this year’s new releases and do some give-aways, so keep an eye out!

    2014 HBPA Holiday Sale

    Participating publishers include:
    plus art & gift items from Native Books/ Na Mea Hawaii, and much more!
    We wouldn’t miss this one… maybe we’ll see you there! ;)

  • A Booklist to Honor the Goddess Pele

    The Puna region of Hawaiʻi is having a tough a year. Hurricane Iselle seemed to do her worst there, crippling businesses and residents for weeks without power and water. And just when things started to improve, the communities of Pahoa have been in the path of a steadily moving lava flow for the past month. As it looms ever closer to homes and streets, and county officials prepare for the worst, we can only hope that Madam Pele is benevolent and merciful.

    It’s been awhile since we’ve done a book list and though we’ve done a short list for Pele before, we thought we’d appease the goddess with more reading recommendations, nothing too esoteric, just good books that honor her story and image.

    Pele Goddess of FirePele: The Fire Goddess (Bishop Museum Press, 1991) as told by Dietrich Varez and Pua Kanaka`ole Kanahele; illustrated by Dietrich Varez

    This is a retelling of the Pele myth with complementary linocut print illustrations by one of Volcano’s celebrated artists, Dietrich Varez. The bold images on every page bring the straightforward tale to life. It also really makes you want to buy a poster or calendar. Check out Dietrich’s other work Pele and Hi’iaka, A Tale of Two Sisters from Petroglyph Press in Hilo.



    Daughters of Fire

    Daughters of Fire (Koa Books, 2nd edition 2014) by Tom Peek

    It isn’t a surprise that this mystery novel is steeped in culture, mythology and spirituality, given its setting. But it’s also a modern tale of social and political discord. I like this book because, though Pele is not an actual character, her presence is imbued in the story. The second edition includes lots of great extras in the appendices–study and discussion questions, further reading recommendations, and author interviews. Check out our earlier review for this award winning book.



    Pele Rivers of Fire

    Pele and the Rivers of Fire (Bess Press, 1998) by Michael Nordenstrom

    Aside from the “Papyrus” font used for the cover title, this is an interesting book for reading to the keiki. It’s an adequate introduction to Pele’s role in Hawaiian mythology and folklore, although it does lack some of her depth of character. Illustrated in a paper-cut collage style with vibrant acrylic and water colors, this picture book follows Pele on her journey from Tahiti to form the Hawaiian Islands.

    Pele Ma

    Pele Ma (Bamboo Ridge Press, 2001) by Frederick B. Wichman, illustrated by Christine Faye

    Wichman is known for his ‘Kaua‘i Tales’ and Pele Ma continues this tradition with an amusing collection of stories that not only cover the activities of Pele, but also Kamapua‘a, Hi‘iaka, Lohi‘au, and their other companions. Pele is most commonly associated with the Big Island, but Wichman’s collection reminds us that Pele also has a strong connection and link to Kaua‘i.


    Here are a couple more book recommendations from an earlier post, including the must-read The Epic Tale of Hi‘iakaikapoliopele.

  • The Hawaiian Survival Handbook (Book review)

    SurvivalHandbookSurvival and preparedness guides have gained a lot of popularity in the last few years, becoming a part of pop culture with the broadcast of reality shows like Doomsday Preppers and apocalyptic dramas like The Walking Dead.

    The Hawaiian Survival Handbook (Watermark Publishing, 2014) by Brother Noland has all the necessities of a mainstream survival guide, but better. Not just because it includes plants, animals and scenarios specific to Hawai‘i, but because it considers the culture and customs of the people that live in Hawai‘i. It’s a valuable collection of knowledge, honed over generations, passed down from kūpuna who were once more connected to the land. Brother No puts an emphasis on aloha as key to not just learning wilderness survival, but balanced living.


    There are all kinds of smarts…and the aloha spirit is key to using all of them together for survival. A good sense of aloha keeps you open to learning as many “smarts” as you can. Your ego won’t get in the way because learning and listening is what aloha is all about. That’s how I learned to survive.

    One might think, “when am I ever going to need to know how to field dress a duck?” But this book is full of practical information for all types of people. So much of our life here is spent outdoors and many of the instructions in this book are helpful for everyday safety and enjoyment of our ʻāina:

    • How to Avoid a Shark Attack
    • How to Survive a Rip Tide or Undertow
    • How to Forage Hawai‘i’s Shoreline
    • How to Wayfind in the Forest
    • How to Read Hawai‘i’s Weather
    • How to Avoid a Wild Pig Attack

    There are also an assortment of sensible tips such as how to treat an upset stomach, an insect bite, or a blister using plants and items in your surroundings. Then there are those little gems of humor that make this an entertaining read in addition to an educational one, like how to deal with box jellyfish: “If you see a box, assume the distance between you and the jellyfish contains its floating stingers and ‘get da hell outta dodge.’” Or how to brush your teeth in the wilderness and what to use if there’s no toilet paper. I also really enjoyed the appendices which included personal essays on the accomplishment of making sacred fire, throwing net, sustainable aloha and more.

    Reading The Hawaiian Survival Handbook reminded me of learning to clean tako with my Dad, or struggling with the leads on the throw net and getting just as tangled up as the fish until Uncle had pity on me and taught me the right way to pull and carry it–of being too busy and too sassy to listen or care until it was too late to learn from Tūtū Kāne. For gathering, cultivating and perpetuating this knowledge, Brother Noland has my sincerest mahalo and admiration. This is a book of things we don’t even know we should know living in Hawai‘i.

    In addition to being an award winning musician, Brother Noland is a cultural leader and teacher, founding the Ho‘ea Initiative and its Hawaiian Inside Tracking Program. The HIT Program offers camps designed to immerse participants in the traditional ways of the Hawaiian culture, including outdoor survival techniques such as tracking, fire-making, net-throwing and more.

    Check out the book’s Facebook page for great pics, tips and the latest information!


    Watermark Publishing has made a good practice of organizing creative book launches, and this one is no exception! Brother Noland’s SurvivALOHA Pa‘ina on September 23rd, promises to be an evening of good food and music with an incredible “from the wild” menu cooked up by Highway Inn and two stages of musical entertainment by Brother Noland and his friends, including Henry Kapono, John Cruz, Raiatea Helm…and more! Get your tickets soon because space is filling up fast.

    The Hawaiian Survival Handbook
    by Brother Noland
    Watermark Publishing, August 2014
    Hardcover, approx. 152-160pp

  • Lihue Mill (Book Review)

    Lihue Mill

    Regardless of the long-term social and environmental impacts of the sugar industry in Hawaiʻi, there is no argument that sugar production played an important role in shaping the culture and communities of our island home. This is evident in the one hundred fifty years of sugar processing along Nāwiliwili Stream that formed and shaped Līhuʻe into the thriving city and county seat that it is today. Kauaʻi journalist Jan Tenbruggencate brings this history to light in Lihue Mill: One Hundred Fifty Years of Sugar Processing Along Nāwiliwili Stream, a book cataloging the lifespan of the mill through an abundance of photographs, a distinct history, and narratives from former employees.

    Unlike many of the major towns in the state, Līhuʻe was not built around a bustling harbor, as the town is located inland, along a stream between two plateaus. Lihue Mill recounts the story of sugar in Hawaiʻi, focusing on the birth and growth of the mill in Kauaʻi and its influence on the town’s growth from sparsely populated woodlands into a bustling economic town. Tenbruggencate’s history of the mill is both detailed and precise, providing an expert insight into the history of the sugar industry and most notably its production, detailing sugar producing innovations, early adoption of technologies, and the development of fuel sources contributing to Lihue Mill being one of the most advanced sugar processing facilities in Hawaiʻi.

    This narrative provides an informative backdrop for the centerpiece of the book: its extensive collection of archival photographs. Beautifully constructed, Lihue Mill is fully deserving of the Honorable Mention it received in Excellence in Design at the 2012 Ka Palapala Pookela Awards. Photos spanning from 1865 to the present visually recount the humble beginnings of the mill and its surrounding community, and the industrious growth as both the mill grew in size and the town surrounding it grew in importance as a direct result.

    Punctuating this collection of historical photographs and reporting are ten oral history interviews with former Lihue Mill employees, written as narratives, providing a much needed injection of the human element to the book. After all, the stories of the people who worked at Lihue Mill are an integral piece in the history and community of Kauaʻi, and thanks to Lihue Mill, their stories and this history will not be lost with the mill’s closing.

    Lihue Mill: One Hundred Fifty Years of Sugar Processing Along Nāwiliwili Stream
    Jan Tenbruggencate
    Pahio Development & Lihue MS, 2011
    Hardcover, 116 pages
    ASIN: B00HBL8S96

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