Random Thoughts

about reading, writing, teaching and anything else that interests me

Big changes ahead

Well, I did it. Yesterday I received an offer to teach part time this fall and I turned it down. I have been thinking since May that I was ready to retire, but I wasn’t convinced I would have the guts to really do it. But I seem to have done it. 

    I am afraid I will miss teaching a lot, but I know it was creating a lot of stress that I really don’t need. Most of the stress was self imposed, but that’s who I am. The only way to avoid the stress that I could see was to quit. And right now, at least, I am really relieved. 

    I did leave myself a little bit of an out, though. I told them I might be available in the spring. I hope by then I am so happy being retired that is don’t want to think about it. But just in case I’m not…

    Lots of reading and not much else!

    I don’t know about where you live, but here in southwestern New Mexico it has been exceptionally hot.  We have had way more 100°+ days this year than last year, for sure, and everyone says it’s way more than normal.

    We don’t have air conditioning in our RV, so we have been sitting in front of fans a lot lately. There is generally a good breeze, and fortunately, we really like hot weather. But even so, we wouldn’t mind a break!

    As a result, I have really gotten a lot of reading done this month – 8 books so far. It is just too hot to do much of anything else. Sunday is the first chance of a sub 100° day, so for at least the next 5 days, I expect the reading to continue.

    It will definitely take more than one post to report on all of my July reading!

    June Reading, part 2

    OK, on to the speculative fiction:

    • Warrior Mage by Lindsay Buroker is the first book in this series. I have enjoyed every single book by Buroker that I have read, and this was no exception.  The characters are interesting right from the beginning, and the action keeps you reading. I highly recommend this book — and everything else by Lindsay Buroker!
    • A Dream of Mortals by Morgan Rice is the 15th book in the series.  If you have been following my reading, you know I am reading this series in order but not one right after the other. This was another great story. Please do yourself a favor and read the series.
    • Death Never Sleeps by E.J. Simon is one of the books that I started reading in my Kindle app and then lost for some reason. When I got my Kindle, I started trying to finish the books that I had abandoned, and this is one of the first. It was a pretty good story, although the main character is not someone I am sure I really like. But the concept was interesting, and that kept me going. If you are into technology and thrillers, you would probably like this one.
    • The Medium y C.J. Archer was a fun story. Emily is a medium, and she falls in love with a ghost. As you can imagine, it is complicated! But the romance is only part of the story; the couple has to try to wrangle a shape-shifting demon back into the spirit world. And that is no easy task. The story was good and it was told well.  If the premise sounds even remotely interesting, give it a try; it’s free for the Kindle.
    • A Joust of Knights by Morgan Rice is number 16. I have to admit I don’t like these last books as much as I did the earlier ones, but that is probably because I don’t think the story is going to end the way I want it to. I am also seeing more typos and such. But the story is a good one. I am reading the last book in the series right now; I’m not sure what I am going to do when it is over. I have been reading and enjoying these books for a long time now!

    I am convinced that purchasing the Kindle, after purchasing the Kobo in May, is the reason I am reading so much. My old Kobo was frustrating and didn’t work well any more. So I tended not to read much on it. Getting the new Kobo really helped get me reading more again. Then getting the Kindle meant I didn’t have to use the app on my tablet, not a hard thing to do, but it was too easy to get distracted. Plus I have rediscovered a number of books that I wanted to read but “lost” as the app kept adding new books until I couldn’t find the old ones anymore.  (I know, I didn’t have to buy them all, but since the vast majority were free, I couldn’t resist!)

    If I am correct, then July should see a lot of titles read, too. Let’s see how it goes.

    June reading, part 1

    I got a lot of reading done last month, so here is a start on the list!

    First, the mysteries:

    • The Flinck Connection by Estelle Ryan is the 4th book in this series, which I am trying to read in order.  I really love Dr. Genevieve Lenard! If you haven’t read any of these books, I cannot recommend them highly enough. The characters are wonderful and the stories are very well told.
    • Death by Lotto 5 by Abigail Keam was a little bit of a disappointment to me.  I really enjoyed Death by A Honeybee, the first book in the series, but this one didn’t have the same appeal.  It could be because I didn’t read the three books in between.  Whatever the reason, it was an OK book – not bad but not anything I got real excited about.
    • Murder in the South of France by Susan Kiernan-Lewis is the first in this series but the third one I have read.  It maybe took away some of the suspense about Laurent, but there were no real problems with reading this one so out of order. The series is quite enjoyable.
    • Shot of Tequila by J.A. Konrath has been in my Kindle account since 2011, but I just now got around to reading it.  All in all, I have to say I enjoyed it. I don’t think I am really the demographic for this book, but it had enough appeal that I never questioned finishing it. I like the main character, Jack Daniels, so I will probably try to read more of the series.
    • The One You Love by Paul Pilkington is another book I’ve had for a long time but had never read until now.  It was a good read. It was darker than most of the books I read anymore, but I enjoyed it. I don’t know if I will read the others in the series or not, just because it is dark, but if you are more into thrillers than I am these days, you would probably enjoy them.

    The non-fiction book I read was Harry Truman: The Man Who Divided the World by Jack Steinberg. It was nothing spectacular, but for a quick, easy peek into the life of Truman, it was OK. My main objection was the inclusion of entire speeches in the text; excerpts and then more discussion would have been better for me.  It was a little superficial.

    The only historical fiction I read was Light of the Western Stars by Zane Gray. It was one I had purchased back when my dad got his kindle and didn’t know how to purchase books for it.  I walked him through the process over the phone by buying a free book that he was interested in. It worked. And I finally got around to actually reading it. My dad always talked about what a great writer Zane Grey was, and I always nodded my head. But after reading this book, I am definitely going to read more. He was a very good writer! This book, taking place in my part of the world, was especially interesting.

    The only audiobook I listened to last month was The Demon Spirit by R.A. Salvatore.  It was excellent! I am a good ways into the next book in the series now.

    No time now to do justice to the fantasy and sci fi books I read last month, so I’ll come back and discuss them later.

    A somewhat strange request

    I know this has nothing to do with the usual content of this blog, but I am going to post this anyway.

    My daughter is doing research for her PhD and is looking for the stories of women between the ages of 18 and 24 who have breastfed their children.  Below is information about her study:

     Did your baby exclusively receive breast milk for at least the first 3 months of life?
     Are you still breastfeeding or stopped within the previous 12 months?
     Are you 18 to 24 years old?
     Do you reside in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, or Texas?
     Are you interested in participating in this study?

    Consider telling your story.

    Please see the flyer below of you meet the criteria above.



    It’s been a little crazy!

    June has been a crazy month, mostly good crazy but some not so good, too.

    It started with my son and I driving from New Mexico to Illinois to see my mother, my bothers, and one of my daughters. We had a wonderful trip. My mom will be 90 in October, so these visits are important.

    As I was doing a lot of the driving, more than I usually do when my husband is with us, I didn’t get a lot of reading done early in the month. I have made up for it this past week, though. Part of that is because I broke down and bought a Kindle. I had said last month that I couldn’t justify buying two ereaders, but when they went on sale for Father’s Day, I decided to go ahead and get one. And I am really glad I did. I have over 2000 books in my kindle account, and it was just too hard to keep track of them in the kindle app. I am finding books I started some time ago and then lost track of.  I finished one of them today. So my reading is picking up. (I’ll post my take on both the Kobo Glo HD and the Kindle Paperwhite later. I am still a Kobo fan!)

    Things seem to be settling down again, at least for a while, and I am looking forward to a few calm weeks. Then it will probably get crazy again.  But that’s life, isn’t it?

    May Reading

    Here goes!

    I only read one non-fiction book – Spiritual Evolution: Examining Blocks, Expand Your Vision and Navigating Your Way to Happiness by Daniel Houtman.  I have to admit, I don’t remember much about it.  He talks about our life on earth being a chance to learn what we need to learn for the future, something I believe, so much of the book resonated with me.  It is a short book.  I remember that it seemed to fit with a lot of the mediation I have been doing lately.

    I read three mysteries:

    • New Orleans Mourning by Julie Smith was a good story.  It was filled with complications – those of old southern families and those peculiar to New Orleans.  It offers good insight into the hierarchy of the Krewes.  I recommend this book highly.
    • Elections and Consequences by C.M. Carleton was another good one.  It is the story of an attorney in Kentucky, written by an attorney in Kentucky.  It is a pretty good picture of politics in a small, closed community. I enjoyed the book a lot and will definitely read the other three books in the series.
    • Dead Line by Jack Patterson was a book that I shouldn’t have liked, but I did.  The main character is a sports writer, and the story takes place around the Super Bowl — not anything I would imagine enjoying.  But the sports angle is just the hook; the main story is so much bigger and better than that.  While Cal Murphy seems to be given too much of a role in solving a very big case, you can suspend disbelief enough to enjoy the story because it is so fast-paced; you don’t really have time to think about it. This is the second book in the series.  I will be reading the others.

    Most of my time was spent reading speculative fiction, mostly fantasy this month.

    • The Destroyer by Michael-Scott Earle was a very interesting book.  It is dark and . As the main character gets his memories back, there are flashbacks that may be a bit confusing.  The sex scenes are explicit and seem a bit gratuitous. But I enjoyed the book.  As many of the reviewers on Amazon noted, the other books in the series, especially the third and fourth, are priced a little high for my budget, so I may not read more in the series for that reason.
    • Torrent by Lindsay Buroker was the first in this series by Buroker, one of my favorite authors. I really enjoyed it.  The main character, Delia, was an archaeology major and she managed to find a use for her degree that pays the bills — at least sort of most of the time.  It was a fun story, and I expect to read the rest of the series.
    • Murder of Crows by Annie Bellet is the second book in her Twenty-Sided Sorceress series.  I enjoyed it every bit as much as I enjoyed the first one, Justice Calling.  In this one we learn more about Jade’s birth family. It is an interesting story.
    • Pack of Lies by Annie Bellet is the third book in the series.  It offers more insight into the Justices, the beings that are supposed to keep the peace among the supernatural beings. I enjoyed this one a lot, too.  I will probably end up reading the rest of the series eventually.
    • Follow the Crow by B. B. Griffith is billed as a thriller, but I saw it more as speculative fiction.  The paranormal outweighed the thrill, for me at least. The story was a good one, if a little confusing at times.  Some reviewers on Amazon had trouble with his representation of Navajo life, but I am ignorant enough that I can say it wasn’t a problem for me. Maybe it should have been, but it wasn’t.  I agree with some reviewers that there was no real reason the book had to take place among the Navajo, and it looks like the second book in the series doesn’t. I think I will try the second book at some point in time.

    I only read one historical fiction book — A Fragile Peace by Paul Bannister. It was an excellent book about King Arthur.  It is the fifth book in the series but I had no trouble starting with this one. Bannister really makes this time period come alive.

    As for audiobooks, I listened to The Demon Awakens by R.A. Salvatore. I listened to it in three parts, done by Graphic Audio.  The audio productions were wonderful.  The story by Salvatore is amazing.  My son had been trying for years to get me to read his books, and now that I have listened to this one, I can’t wait to read more!

    So I think that was my reading for May.  It was a pretty good month!

    Reading on my new Kobo

    In the 6 days since I got my new Kobo Glo HD, I have read 4 books. (It just occurred to me that maybe I should be a little ashamed to admit that. I’m not, though!) This new ereader is so much nicer than my old one! And reading on it is much nicer than reading on my tablet! I am really happy that I made this purchase. 


    My new Kobo Glo HD

    I have had a Kobo Touch since 2012.  I love it.  But I have had a lot of problems with it in the last couple years.  I managed to find ways to work around the freezing and have been happily using it this whole time.  But as the ereader worked more reliably lately, it became harder for me to deal with the times it didn’t work well.  (I know that indicates a character flaw, but I can’t help it. ) So I decided to buy myself a Glo HD.  And, after two days, I can say that I am really happy that I did.

    I read a lot of Kindle books on my tablet, but I wasn’t interested in buying a Kindle. (OK, I was, but I couldn’t justify buying two ereaders!!)  I like the more open approach of Kobo, and all the books I have paid more than $0.99 for are on Kobo.  I know it isn’t the most popular ereader out there, but I am really happy with it.

    The Glo HD is smaller than the Touch was, but it isn’t so small that it is hard to hold and read on. The touch screen is much more responsive than the one on the Touch ever was. And, of course, it is backlit, so reading is easier.

    I had a little trouble actually purchasing the Glo HD (My order kept getting cancelled.), but it was worth the frustration with that process.

    I know I will probably not convince anyone out there to try Kobo, but I have to at least try. There is something nice about reading on an ereader, and there is something really nice about reading on a Kobo.

    April Reading

    Not as much reading got done in April, but I am still happy with it!

    I only read one non-fiction book last month, Hormones in Harmony by Deborah Maragopolous.  It was an interesting book, about how hormone imbalance can lead to lots of health issues. Of course, the author is trying to sell you her products, so the book is a little like an infomercial.  But if you don’t get turned of by that, there is a lot of good information in the book.  I don’t know how many people would be interested in it, but I thought it was worth reading.

    I read four mysteries:

    • A Fatal Twist of Lemon by Patrice Greenwood was a good read. It was a little predictable, but I didn’t mind. The protagonist put all her money into a new business, only to have someone murdered there before it is even really open for business. It had the requisite handsome cop to help the protagonist solve the case. It had enough little twists and turns to make it interesting. I think you would like it if you like “cozy” mysteries.
    • Rosemary’s Gravy by Melissa F. Miller was similar in some ways to A Fatal Twist of Lemon and to most cozy mysteries. The personal chef is under suspicion of having murdered her client with food she is allergic to.  There is a cop who tries to help her. It was an easy read, and I enjoyed it.
    • Bring It by Seeley James was the second in the Pia Sabel series. I liked the first one better than this one, but I am not sure why.  I think the story was too convoluted. And I didn’t care too much for one of the main characters. But I will keep reading the series because Pia is an interesting person.
    • Code Blues by Melissa Yi was a good book.  The author is a doctor, so she is in a great position to write medical mysteries. I enjoyed the book a lot. Some of the characters were a little much, but not so much that I had to stop reading. I would like to read more by Melissa Yi.

    I read three speculative novels:

    • Accord of Honor and Accord of Mars by Kevin McLaughlin were both really good books.  They deal with the question of who gets to control space and how they come to control it. An accord is only good if everyone abides by it, and that is always iffy. People can choose to ignore the accord for good or bad reasons, but they are sure to violate it.  The main characters are larger than life — and incredibly lucky. But I enjoyed reading these books and look forward to the next in the series, which is due out this month.
    • Requiem’s Song by Daniel Arenson was wonderful. The idea of people turning into dragons was fascinating. Many reviewers on Amazon thought it was too dark or the characters weren’t developed enough or something, but I didn’t have trouble with it on either account. Yes, it paints a kind of black and white world, but it was still an interesting world, peopled by interesting characters. I’ll read more in this series.

    I read three books of historical fiction:

    • Mercenary by David Gaughran is one of those books that I read because it takes place in places I know, in this case Honduras and other parts of Central America. While I started it for that reason, I finished it because it was a good book. I cannot say I really liked the main character, but he certainly was remarkable.I would be very interested in reading other books by Gaughran.
    • Sea Witch by Helen Hollick kept me interested through 360 pages. But how could it not? A pirate story with a witch in it? Heaven! I have the second book in the series, Pirate Code, and I expect to read it her every soon.
    • Bloody Lessons by M. Louisa Locke was another in her Victorian San Francisco series, and I very much enjoyed it. Annie Fuller isn’t your typical widow, but she is a very interesting character, as all her friends. I have enjoyed every book I have read in this series, and this was no exception.

    I listened to two audiobooks:

    I enjoyed them both a great deal.

    And here it is May 3. Let’s see what happens this month!

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