Open Door

Open Door

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Book Review: On Shark, No Swim

The Niuhi Shark Saga
One Shark, No Swim
by Lehua Parker

There’s something bugging adopted Zader Westin, something more troubling than his water allergies where one drop on his skin burns like hot lava. It’s bigger than his new obsession with knives, designing the new murals for the pavilion with Mr. Halpert, or dealing with Char Siu’s Lauele Girlz scotch tape makeover. Zader can’t stop thinking about a dream, the dream that might not have been a dream where Lē‘ia called him brother then jumped into the ocean and turned into a shark.

Zader’s got a lot of questions, not the least being why he’s hungry all the time, restless at night, and why he feels a constant itch on the back of his neck. It’s making him feel like teri chicken on a pūpū platter, but Zader doesn’t want to think about chicken, not with his growing compulsion to slip it down his throat—raw.

With Jay busy at surf camp and Uncle Kahana pretending nothing’s happening, Zader’s left alone to figure things out, including why someone—something—is stalking him before it’s too late.

Summer in Lauele Town, Hawaii just got a little more interesting…

The weather turned a little colder this week, and I needed a vacation, so I decided to spend the weekend in my mind at least. Lehua Parker's second book, One Shark, No Swim, in The Niuhi Shark Saga just came out, and I thought it was a good excuse to curl up on the couch with my son and a warm blanket to see what Zader, Jay, and Uncle Kahana are up to.

Let me tell you why I love this series. For me, the greatest part is Lehua’s connection to not only the Hawaii culture, but the twelve-year-old boy experience. Sure, Zader’s a Niuhi god, but he still has to deal with the same growing pains as all boys, like impressing his art teacher, always being hungry, deciding if he likes make-up on girls, and how to be a bully blocker without becoming too aggressive himself.

I have a son who is close to Zader’s age, and I find it difficult to find good literature both appealing to this middle-grade boy market and a mom’s sensibilities. This book does! My son loves the sharks and the supernatural element. I love the cultural diversity and Lehua’s witty, wry humor. If you like to read with your kids, it’s a win for everyone.
One Boy, No Water can be purchased at bookstores and via:            

One Shark, No Swim can be purchased at bookstores and via:         

Connect with Lehua Parker:
Blog & Free Short Stories:
All things Niuhi Shark Saga:
Twitter: @LehuaParker

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Book Review - Beatrysel

For the past two days, I’ve been haunted by a demon.  She has consumed my every waking moment, either with deep thoughts or tentative looks over my shoulder to see if there was more to the shadow lurking in the hallway.  Her name—Beatrysel. 
Even as I cleanse my house with incense and holy water, I’m struck with the mastery in which this story was delivered.  I’ve never actually read a novel where the premise was written in present tense third person before, and I must admit the style threw me for a loop at first.  But once I got the hang of the delivery (about three chapters in), I realized it was brilliant.  The pacing gave a sense of urgency to Julian’s plight all the way to the last page.
The plot was terrifying in a way that only possession can be.  Mr. Worthen obviously has a vast knowledge of the occult arts, and his descriptions of this secretive society could place even a novice into the sense of a practitioner’s rites and rituals.  This awareness of course adds an extra layer of fear to an already emotionally charged tale, leaving the reader jumping at every little bump in the night and questioning reality.  So, grab a bag of chocolate, your favorite talisman (believe me, you’re going to need it), and allow Julian to introduce you to his creation.  She’s beautiful, she’s deadly, and her love for her maker knows no bounds.  Don’t speak her name, don’t even think it.  Forget you've ever heard of Beatrysel.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Pot of Gold

 I wrote this piece for my daughter to perform at a Debate competition.  She never used it, but I fell in love with the piece and wanted to share it:


         When I was a child, I always looked up, searching the sky for a double rainbow and the happier days finding one would certainly bring.  Daddy once told me a pot of gold sat in between the identical bands right at the base and it was mine for the taking.
“If you can just imagine it, lassie,” He’d say and I was convinced I would be the one to change our luck.  Our family was unfortunate in the luck department, but I was going to change all that.  We would never want for anything and our heartache would be replaced with a contented feeling swallowing up the empty spaces.  
Momma called the idea ridiculous, but she was too busy looking at the rain falling over her head to ever notice hope.  She didn’t like living in a shabby trailer in the middle of a pile of garbage.  The ugliness blinded her.  She never saw the flash when clouds would separate—how the light filtered through the grey, coloring away the drab, if only temporarily.  In those sacred moments, something stirred within me.  The colors were magnificent—a divine gift restoring my faith that anything was possible.
Yes, I believed in the pot of gold.  Daddy was the only one who understood why—I believed because I was born with a dreamer’s heart. 
Once upon a time, Daddy had been a dreamer too.  Maybe that’s why Momma pursed her lips whenever I showed any signs of sky-gazing, but it wasn’t always so.  There were old photos of their younger days hidden inside a chest.  Sometimes, I would sneak into their room to steal a glance when Momma was busy frowning at clouds.  When Daddy and Momma were first married, his head tilted upwards.  Staring at the heavens, he was waiting for his big chance, but with each passing year, disappointment had his eyes lowering ever so slightly.  Until one day, he barely managed to look past the soles of his shoes.  All of his aspirations were lost, torn away by the storm inside of Momma.  My eyes had seen firsthand, just how destructive she could be.
“You’re dreams will never amount to anything.  You’re a loser, just like your father was before you!” she would scream at him, pointing at an empty refrigerator, or waived past due notices under his nose.
He never stood up to her, just stared at the ground as the tears ran down his cheeks.  It’s hard to raise your head when someone is always pulling you down with expectations you will never live up to. 
“Why do you love her?” I once asked.
“Your mother is my rock,” he replied—like the word “rock” explained everything.  The answer made me angry.  He wanted me to chase rainbows, but he wasn’t strong enough to weather the storm.
He started drinking when I was ten and I wanted blame him for checking out, but Momma did enough finger-pointing for both of us.  Funny, how her contentment grew as the lines of despair creased into his leathered face, like his unhappiness fed her storm.  Didn’t she notice the way he was suffocating under all her pressure?  Daddy was a bird, broken and lost.  He was meant to soar, but Momma’s turbulence had torn his wings.  He had survived, but he would never fly again.
Time went by, and I watched daddy sink a little lower each day.  One day I found him lying in the street.  It was raining but there were no rainbows in sight.  He was sick and miserable and I wondered if dreaming would bring me the same fate.  I started to doubt in the pot of gold.  What if momma was right and thoughts of more contented days were silly?  What if daddy’s aspirations really were his downfall?  The thought made my dreamer’s heart heavy with disappointment.  Suddenly, my head started pulling down under the weight of my feelings, and momma was happy.  Of course she was happy.  My mind was growing more sensible, more like her.  Daddy became even gaunter with illness and I hated him!  I hated him for making me believe in rainbows!  I hated him for lying to me!  I hated him for dreaming, but most of all, I hated him for leaving me…
  I was only sixteen.  Certainly not old enough to weather the storm.
After daddy died, I never even looked to the sky.  What was the point?  There was no pot of gold waiting for me or any other form of hope.  My dreams weren’t special and even if I found my double rainbow, I’d never find my heart’s desire waiting for me.  The darkness descended in the form of rainclouds pouring misery over my hanging head. 
Years went by.  I married and had a child of my own. I forgot about rainbows and thoughts of better days.  Much to my dismay, I found my daughter to be foolhardy.  Her dreamer’s heart refused to be sensible.  I wanted her to be more like me—a practical woman who was constantly planning a way to weather the inevitable clouds.  
One day I went outside and my daughter was standing in the rain again, staring up at the sky in wonder.  I stalked after her and started to drag her in.
“You’re ridiculous, gawking at the sky in the middle of a storm!” I yelled at her, but she wouldn’t budge.  Frowning, I glared at her then up at the clouds in accusation. 
In that moment, something amazing happened and everything changed. 
The darkness separated ever so slightly, allowing a silver light to shine through, and there it was!  A double rainbow—shining over the crown of my daughter’s golden head.  My treasure sat in front of me for all those years, and I only had to gaze up. 
Finally, I saw her for the precious gift she was.  Laughing at myself, I grabbed her hands, spinning her around.  We giggled and danced as the droplets sprinkled our cheeks, masking my tears of happiness.  After a while I sat down on a blanket of wet grass.   I noticed it was green as I held her close, happy the storm had came and the rain had fallen.

“You see that double rainbow right there?” I whispered into her ear.  I thought of the day I learned about rainbows.  Thinking of my daddy, I shared my dreamer’s heart.