Saturday, January 31, 2015

Tuesday REVIEWSDAY!!! "After Dawn" by Justina Taft

After Dawn

By: Justina Taft

For Aurora, it is the dawn of a new life.

She moves into a college dorm and explores Honolulu city life with her best friend, Alex. Her days brim with the promise of adventures to come, but at night, Aurora's dreams warn her that something is wrong. As she studies Hawaiian language in college she begins to understand the warnings in her dreams. She has cancer. By day, her parents and best friend do their best to support her through the medical treatments. By night, a dream lover tries to persuade her to go with him. She must choose between the life she knows and the lover who dares her to venture beyond the horizon...

"After Dawn" by Justina Taft is a beautifully executed paranormal romance set in Hawaii. But not the island paradise of postcards and Hollywood. This is refreshing view into the lives of everyday people in everyday Hawaii.

Yes, in comparison to the frozen parts of the world, Hawaii seems like a paradise. In fact, Hawaii is a paradise. It has idyllic weather most of the year. It has warm beautiful beaches, amazing hikes featuring incredible vistas... a perfect tourist getaway. I love my island home. And yes... there is a bit of surfing and there are hot muscular guys in the ocean in this book... it IS Hawaii after all... But the main character is a girl who canʻt surf!!! And I thought everyone in Hawaii surfed! Whaaat?


There is also real life modern Hawaii. Drugs and gang violence. Bad politics and homelessness. Taxes and Traffic. While this book doesn't delve into any of that, it is surrounded by the hustle and bustle that is the reality of Hawaii. It deals with real life struggles. That is the Hawaii I grew up in and that is the Hawaii that this book is based in. "After Dawn" is a refreshing read. It is a reminder that real life happens everywhere. Death and love. Marriage and Divorce. The search for ones identity... Taft brings it all into this book located on a beautiful rock in the middle of the pacific.

And then there is the spiritual Hawaii. This modern book is drenched in the dream and spirit world of Hawaii. Taft weaves her love story into the spirit of this tale in more ways than one. The Hawaiian mindset can be a duality... The people struggle with what it means to be Hawaiian. They struggle with not fully knowing their own culture because of being down-trodden and of own self-neglect that started a few hundred years before this book ever came to be. It is only within the last few decades... since the late Seventies maybe... that a cultural revolution has been slowly unfurling. Hawaiians can now learn their language in school - since most families have long lost the ability. Hawaiian can seek ways to immerse and fully understand what it means to be Hawaiian in this modern world. Taft explores these topics almost from the beginning of her book. There is an undercurrent of something lost - then found - throughout her story.

Justina Taft - Author of "After Dawn"
Taft has composed a romantic world set in the ebb and flow that is the real Hawaii. I recommend this novel to anyone who loves Hawaii. You can buy this book at the websites listed below. Happy reading!

You can also look for it on iBooks! Find Justina here at or on FACEBOOK


Disclaimer: Once I got a random comment from someone I don't know complaining that I only give good reviews. YES THAT IS TRUE. I will ONLY give well written good reviews. There is too much TROLLING and bad reviewing going on out there that I feel no need to add to the negativity that can be the world wide web. If you would like to read horrible reviews... go to Amazon or Goodreads. Lots of bad and badly written reviews there.

love and words words words,


Thursday, December 25, 2014

TUESDAY REVIEWS DAY!!! Peter Steigerwald's "The ZooHunters" Issue #2

So ... MELE KALIKIMAKA everybody!!! I did write this on Tuesday but with all the commotion and craziness and LOVE of Christmas, I didn't get to finish this until right now... 2AM -ish CHRISTMAS MORNING!!! Its my son's first Christmas!!! So EXCITED!!!

And since I'm writing about excitement...

I am so flipping excited to write about The ZooHunters!!! Peter Steigerwald is not only one of my favorite people in this universe, he is now one of my favorite Authors.

But before we go there... I got a random comment from someone I don't know complaining that I only give good reviews. YES THAT IS TRUE. I will ONLY give good reviews. There is too much TROLLING and bad reviewing going on out there that I feel no need to add to the negativity. If you would like to read horrible reviews... go to Amazon or Goodreads. Lots of bad and badly written reviews there.

Now where was I... oh yes...

"Dear Mom,

It still feels strange to write to you like this knowing you'll never read these.

You died."

If you have lost someone close to you... a mother, father... grandmother... you know that feeling. The author pours life and heart into the depth of this little boy's journal to his mom.

If this opening doesn't make you want to pick up the latest issue of The ZooHunters to find out what happened... then we can't be friends. (Go HERE for my blog on issue #1.) Maybe that statement is a tad emotional and harsh but I'm a new mommy and I'm allowed. I've even renamed this blog from "Monkey Monster Thoughts" to "MOMMY Monkey Monster Thoughts." I see things differently now. I'm not saying I see things better or clearer... just different.

Back to this BEAUTIFUL comic...

This comic makes all those different mommy feelings come alive. The comic is about FAMILY and reconnecting. It's about growing up and lislittle boy's journal to his mom.

Most comic books I have perused usually catch my initial attention with phenomenal art. Example: Michael Turner's "Fathom" Vol 1. I was FLOORED by the artwork. (pencils by Michael Turner and colors by Peter Steigerwald) I drooled over it's pages! I'm from Hawaii... I can see that stuff all the time... but there was just something about the way that that man drew... It was stunning. And... I didn't actually READ the comic until a week or so later. (I've all ready admitted this to JT Krul, the author) The art was almost TOO AWESOME.

Such is the case with "The ZooHunters"... sort of. I am FLOORED by the art. It is a feast for the eyes. And in this case the Artist IS the Author. I could read this WITHOUT the art. The art --- BREATHTAKING and DROOL WORTHY --- lends itself to the story. It is the WRITING that makes me turn the page. It is truly amazing. I was mesmerized. Great balance in storytelling. We learn more about his characters and we watch the father and son connect on deeper levels. Also the characters from Issue #0 collide with our little family at the end of this issue.

I can't wait to fly deeper into The ZooHunter universe.

I can't wait until Steigerwald writes a novel.

Just saying...

Issue #2 came out CHRISTMAS EVE!!! Get your copy at your local comic book store or at

To learn more about The ZooHunters and more offerings from Aspen Comics go to

or on Facebook:

Mele Kalikimaka Peter!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Tuesday Reviewsday!!! "The Creation of Life" by God

And God said let there be light!

And there was a blinding pain as I took my last laboring breath to push. 

And there was light. My sons first breath. And there was light. My sons first shout. And there was light. My son is placed on my chest seconds after his birth. I look into the eyes of this amazing being...

... And I see light.

There will be no Review this week folks as I review the importance and beauty of the new light in my life. 

Love, Light. And Aloha,


PS... Come back next week. I'm gonna try to get my hands on a book by Justina Mattos, a professor at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

TUESDAY REVIEWSDAY!!! Aspen Comics "The Zoohunters"

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen!!!


We have a fine specimen for your perusal today. This beautiful, veracious creature was found in the distant reaches of the worldly brain of Steigerwaldland. The beast is hardly awake in its current state... but from what I have read thus far... I can guarantee this WORLD will swallow you whole.

This world has only received a taste, the debut of Aspen's newest series, "The Zoohunters" art and story by Peter Steigerwald. In addition to a review, I may delve into the topic of WORLD-CREATION. I am an amateur when compared to the likes of Steigerwald but we can all learn from the morsel we will now devour.

The "Prelude" for this new comic can be found in the Aspen Comics "Free Comic Book Day: Worlds of Aspen 2014" for more information on how to receive this comic please go to

Even as the page turns, we are transported into another realm. The vibrant pinks and purples that surround the lone hunter gives us the immediate feeling of being very far away from anything we know. She lays in the grass under a knarly trunk of a tree topped with a crown of whitish coral-like webbing. Glowing pink eggs grow from the base of this exotic tree. The sight of her weapon is trained on something in the distance. We are in Northern Hah'suFari, Grand Plains: Idulani and we are HUNTING. 

The huntress, Minalara or Min, has her sights on a prize, a large beast that looks like very strange zebra-antalope with tusks. Even though Min is hurt in the process, she uses only her voice and a tranquilizer dart to bring it down. Here we find two character traits of our beautiful main character: she does not like to make mistakes and she is humane. An odd choice of words, I know, considering she might not be human...  

Just in there first six pages, Steigerwald has established the beginnings of a character in a world that is not our own. 

Turn to page seven. We have traveled to the Live Cargo holding at Poslan Cosmoport. Min becomes the only human-looking character on the following pages. Dialogue ensues and we find out that she was hired to find, capture and bring in the Atrurk, the strange zebra-antalope with tusks. We meet the short, many eyed, touchy-feely Qaurec who seems to be the leader/owner of the facility. 

Qaurec wants Min and Min wants nothing to do with him or his methods. Within these last five pages we are given another look into the soft humanity of Min, her expertise in hunting and knowledge of the "animal"-life she traps. In the end she purchases a dog-like, monkey flower lizard with a giraffe tongue in exchange for her help in convincing a yet-unknown character named Abros to work for this little toad-like Qaurec.

She cuddles her new friend. And the Prelude ends.

I want one so bad! Isn't he cute!!!

I will leave you here, wanting and waiting for September to come so that we can see and read where this comic will transport us to next. On the topic of world creation... MAYBE I can get a small interview with the Artist-Author Peter Steigerwald. 

Hmmm... you reading this Mr. Steigerwald??? 

Peter Steigerwald is Co-Owner of Aspen MLT, Inc. He is an internationally celebrated artist and colorist widely know for bringing life and color to the works of Michael Turner as well as other top pencilers in the industry. "The Zoohunters" is Mr. Steigerwald's first creator-owned publication. He is the creator, author and artist on this endeavor. For more information on "The Zoohunters" go to or

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

TUESDAY REVIEWSDAY!!!! Aspen Comics: "Damsels in Excess"

SPOILER ALERT!!! Well... not too much...

Ladies, ever wonder what the world would be like without the that other GENDER? I'm sure a few of you have much cause to wish for that fairytale land where women rule and men... well... they just don't exist. They've all been killed off. Done. Extinct. 

Would life be easier?

In true Aspen Comics style, "Damsels in Excess", written by Vince Hernandez and Penciled/Colored by Mirka Andolpo, is dripping with magic. Hernandez has taken a dramatic leap into the singularly vibrant lives of five Princesses who each rule a portion of this manless kingdom. The characterization of each Princess is exquisitely rounded. These are Women. They may be dressed up in beautiful gowns but they have been written with faults, wants, needs...  They are no where near perfect, each struggling with her own portion of the kingdom. Aspen Comics has a slew of strong female characters and "Damsels" is no different. Except where there is usually ONE standout female... here there are FIVE. 

But then I found myself wanting. The close of the first issue has left me confused. When these characters finally meet at the end of the first issue one of the princesses must ask the same question that is posed at the beginning of the book:

"Why we should listen to the words of a lost gender is beyond me."

I ask the same question. Why?

Hernandez has truly piqued my interest. This series has a colorful and magical start. I cannot wait to see where this new brand of the magic of Aspen Comics takes us.

To purchase "Damsels in Excess" go HERE!!!

For more on Aspen Comics check them out at

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

TUESDAY REVIEWSDAY: "A Missive with Love." by Michael Leath

Tuesday Reviewsday:

"A Missive With Love" by Michael Leath.
Published in Firewords Quarterly, Issue One - Spring 2014

This story is like that photograph, frayed and held together by tape that has turned yellow over the years. That photo that you found in your grandparents closet in an album full of faces long forgotten. Or that photo in the rusty, antique frame that sits on your aunts mantel. The picture is of a young couple staring into each others eyes with such love that it makes you smile. It makes your day. It makes you crave that wholesome, beautiful love from the olden days that warms you like a bath on a cold winter night.

At least that is what I wished for. I wished that this story had that beautiful "The Notebook" ending. I wanted so much for the unnamed husband and wife of "A Missive with Love". I want to know how they met and I want to read about their honeymoon in Paris. I want to read all the love letters that she'd received from him in the height of their romance. This "Missive" is the end of a poignant, delicately woven story that speaks to your heart like a love letter, torn to pieces.

Although this short story leaves me aching I cannot think that there was any love lost in this piece. The love that the husband and wife had for each other resonates throughout and flows clearly though to the end. Hearts are broken but Love was freed with a heartbreaking price. 

I want to see that happy photograph of the love that was once so bright and new. I want to see the light in her eyes as she looks at her new husband on the decks of the Eiffel Tower. I want to read about their tender kisses and embraces of yesterday. 

This is a story of wanting and letting go. Mr. Leath has done his job well. He makes me wish that things had ended differently. He leaves me wanting the happy ending that will never come.

Michael Leath is a Vietnam Vet, former screenplay writer and a life long Texan. I had the pleasure of making his acquaintance on Trigger Street Labs, a website for writers and filmmakers. Please check out more of his work at If you would like an entire magazine full of imagination and creativity please go to to snatch up the latest Firewords Quarterly. Mr. Leath also has a novel published for purchase on Amazon. Go HERE to purchase "Queen takes Kings Pawn."

Monday, July 21, 2014


Hello my fellow artists, writers, thinkers and dreamers...

I am going to set some goals for myself. Could you help me to keep them? Any small thing would be awesome. A little note here and there... especially if I miss something.

Goal #1: WRITE 500-1000 words daily. That's not much. By the time I am finished with this blog I will have satisfied todays requirement. If I do not fulfill the daily requirement... well let's just say that there have been consequences that have been set up. Consequences that involve tickling. I hate being tickled.

Goal #2: READ. I have been given homework from a great writer friend of mine, Michael Leath. Please check him out at These are the books he would like me to read and understand for the betterment of my mind and craft:

---WIRED FOR STORY by Lisa Cron
---WIRED FOR FICTION by Donald Maass

Goal #3: An easy one... keep READING. I've read a about Eight romance novels (it's for research... really!) and about a dozen comics from Aspen Comics just in July. Plus I just received my first Fireword Quarterly Magazine a few days ago and have been pouring over the fantastic short stories there. So... this is the easy Goal.

Goal #4: Take my reading to the next step by REVIEWING. I got this idea from the author John Green. I am sure others do it as well. TUESDAY REVIEWS-DAY. Every Tuesday I will review the works of writers I know... and I know a good handful. I have read such horribly written... not horrible reviews... actual published reviews that lacked any substance. I will start on one tonight to post tomorrow. Not sure what I will review though...

Goal #5: Take steps to bring my novel to the next level. I am not sure what that is but if you have the name of a good line or developmental editor, please leave their name and contact info below. I'm shopping around.

Five Goals.

I can keep Five goals... especially with your help.



PS... please follow the links for Aspen Comics, Firewords Quarterly and Michael Leath. All hold wondrous worlds of imagination and creativity.