I failed…a January update

That’s right.  It is January 2 and I have already failed miserably at something.  I’m admitting it right here and now.  I am at my in-laws as planned and I am typing this ON MY LAPTOP!  That’s right.  The laptop I was going to leave at home.


I was also on my phone tonight while others were in the room, which is an area that I really want to work on.  If I don’t absolutely NEED to be on the phone (e.g. our dogsitter texts me with a question or something), then I don’t want to be using it.  But, there I was, scrolling through Facebook.  Sigh…

I am addicted.  My DD took it really well when I told her I wanted to use this trip as a “reset” on our technology use.  She left her beloved 3DS at home.  And although we brought the iPad Mini, she barely used it in the car on the way here and did not ask for it once tonight after we arrived.  Yet, here I am, reaching for my phone and feeling the need to be on my laptop (and although it is nice for blogging, that is not what I originally got on here to do – I just felt like I NEEDED to be on here, checking email, responding to requests that do not have to be responded to, revising syllabi that don’t need to be revised tonight, etc., etc.).  I really need to be reading the books I want/need to read.  I should be journaling, by hand in my notebook that I am starting for this year.  I should be interacting with others.  I should, I should, I should…

So, tomorrow I WILL!  I am making a commitment to not look at my phone unless I have an incoming message that demands attention (example above).  I will not use my laptop until everyone has gone to bed and then only possibly – to write a blog post and/or deal with any issues that arose that may need to be dealt with (which I don’t see happening, but I guess it could).  I can get back to tech on Friday when we have returned home, but I really need a good detox.  Seriously.  This is going to be a little painful and difficult for me.  But, as usual, my DD has set the example.  She is perfectly fine without her tech because she has her cousin and Gigi and Papa and coloring and such.  I need to focus on what I have outside of tech to entertain myself.  I knew my desire for tech was getting a little out of control, but this has really raised my awareness of just how bad it is.  And I really want to get it under control.  Here is an article with some tips for helping me…maybe you need it too?


Book Reviews, Uncategorized

Summer Book Review – To Live and Die in Dixie

I must admit, the pink VW an on the cover helped me choose this book!

To Live & Die in Dixie (Callahan Garrity Mystery, #2)To Live & Die in Dixie by Kathy Hogan Trocheck

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I picked this up at the library because it was the first fiction book in author alpha order that seemed light and interesting enough to get through quickly and give me some reading momentum. I picked well! I will now have to go back and read the first of the Callahan Garrity series, Every Crooked Nanny.

This is a quick, enjoyable read with likable characters. It is not the greatest “mystery”. It is predictable and I figured out the killer about half way through, but the characters were enough to make me want to keep reading. I think the cop gone cleaning lady gone PI is interesting to set the story. There is a little bit of romance, a little bit of family drama, a little bit of suspenseful action and a lot of entertaining dialogue. Perfect light summer read if you like a character driven murder mystery. I will definitely be reading more of the series.

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Book Reviews

Book Review: Booker: No Mas

I am reviewing my second Booker series book today (you can read my first here) that I once again received from Beck Valley Books and although this book had some important differences from the other (setting and characters were much different in this one), I still thoroughly enjoyed it.  Booker’s life is still quite the mess in this one, as he seeks to rid himself and the world of a past threat and cold-blooded killer.  Once again, the plot line diverges with a few different plotlines and multiple characters being introduced, all of them compelling and somewhat a mess in their own right.

Having now read two of the Booker books, I really appreciate the author’s ability to put you in the place of action.  I could easily imagine the sights and sounds and even the smells that Booker was experiencing.  Although I am not as much a fan of the setting for this book (the last was tied to more familiar scenes in Dallas TX and the Sixth Floor Library Museum, this one takes place primarily in the Dominican Republic where I’ve never been), I can still appreciate the vivid detail of descriptions of places and people that Mefford brings to the story.

Once again, the plot is fast moving which made it a fast and furious read for me.  And Booker was once again a very likable character, with flaws but strong convictions.  The tension is definitely there throughout, although I felt like the final climax felt a bit too “neat” for the messiness that preceded it, but it didn’t take away from my enjoying the book.  Overall, it was a very enjoyable book and a fun read!  You can check out the whole series to follow Booker through his many challenges!  I would definitely recommend it to anyone who likes the Mystery/Thriller genre and enjoys a good tension-filled read.

Here are the details:


New Release….

No more deception.

Brought to the Caribbean island of Dominican Republic on the premise that he could finally close the chapter on the darkest moment of his life—and rid the world of a cold-blooded killer—Booker T. Adams instantly finds a far different scene. Set against the backdrop of a city consumed by the rising fear of terrorism and a brutal drug lord, a woman, seemingly with two lives and even two faces, uses her hypnotic charm to get what she wants, sending Booker on a mission to rescue a teenage boy held hostage.

No more lies.

Befriended by a fired cop and a homeless kid with nothing to live for, Booker struggles to understand fact versus fiction, while staving off wild bores, snakes, terrorist traps, and a past that has haunted him for almost thirty years. Is he dealing with people believing their own hypocrisy, or have they simply perfected the art of betrayal and treachery?

No more killing.

The all-powerful rule with brute force, killing women and children like they’re swatting flies. It’s a savagery that Booker can’t comprehend, let alone defeat. With the smell of death stuffed down his throat, the man with everything to lose puts everything on the line—because he can stand…

No more.

Available to buy at…

Amazon.com    Amazon.co.uk    Barnes and Noble    iTunes   Kobo

Check out the other books in the series


About the Author

A veteran of the corporate wars, former journalist, and true studier of human and social behavior, best-selling author John W. Mefford has been writing novels since he first entered the work force twenty-five years ago, although he never put words on paper until late 2009.

John writes novels full of intrigue, suspense, and thrills, but they also evoke an emotional connection with the characters.

When he’s not writing, he chases three kids around, slaves away in the yard, reads, takes in as many sports as time allows, watches all sorts of movies, and continues to make mental notes of people and societies across the land.

John lives in Frisco, Texas with his beautiful wife, three opinionated kids, and a feisty fat cat who rules the world.

Follow the author on the following sites…

Website   Facebook   Twitter   Google+    Goodreads   Amazon Author Page

Follow the book tour


I received this book to review through Beck Valley Books Book Tours, all the opinions above are 100% my own.


My Crazy Kindle Library and Challenge for Year 47

I have always been a collector of books.  I have books in multiple places in my house, shelves of them in my office at work and I will often visit Barnes and Noble just to wonder around and touch books.  It is kind of an obsession.  I got a Nook way back when they first came out, but I missed the feel of the books.  I missed turning the pages.  The smell of the paper.  But, really, I just liked touching the books, not actually reading them.  So, I would buy books and put them on shelves and there they would sit.  I think my friends and family have read more of my books than I have (I am a generous book lender).  So, I forced myself to stop buying books.  But, then when I got my iPad (free through work), I discovered the Kindle reader app and I could collect books, many for free, and not have them piled up anywhere.  They were all there…inside my Kindle…should I ever want to actually read them.  But, I didn’t have the guilt of looking at them.  They were hidden away.  Out of sight.  There wasn’t a lot of reading, but I didn’t feel guilty about them.


My kindle list of books is a mish mash of genres.  I have fiction, non-fiction, lots of mysteries, some recipe books, quite a few parenting books.  Just a whole lotta literature there!  So, today, I took my iPad to swim lessons and I sorted the books alphabetically, which is basically totally random.  And I started reading the first book.  And I’m going to see what I can get through in my crazy kindle list over the next year (tomorrow is my birthday).

I am a little shocked to say I am 47.  That seems so….well, old.  🙂  I realize that it should have been obvious that I was getting to be that old, but it still seems way to close to 50 for me.  I don’t feel like a 47 year old.  Having a six year old is probably a big part of that, but not having achieved a lot of what I would consider a middle aged person to have achieved in life is also part of it.  I mean, I have a career that I love, but even it seems somewhat underperforming when I look at the fact that I am a Part Time Faculty (although, I’m not, that is what I’m categorized as) and that I am not really looking at a lot of space for advancement (I don’t need that as much as I need the stable benefits with my DD’s health) and that I haven’t really figured out how to make my life work without a lot of chaos (despite what I consider to be my best attempts).  So, yeah.  Here I am.  Entering my 47th year without a whole lot more to show for it than when I started this blog two years ago.  I’m not disappointed persay.  I just feel like I’m underperforming in most aspects of my life.  And 47 seems like a good year to challenge myself.  I’m still shy of 50 (which seems like a rather intimidating number as an age), which gives me some time to make things a little better.  A chance to shine a little.  A chance to, as the blog title reads, BE MORE!

So, I’m starting with the As in my crazy Kindle Library as a bit of a challenge to start reading.  A lot.  And to get something out of that reading.  Enjoyment.  Education.  Experiences.  Whatever it is, I’m going to look in the book.  I will probably mix in some actual paper-based books as the year goes on.  But, I’m going to focus my efforts on the Crazy Kindle Libary (CKL).  I’ll post updates here and let you know how the reading is going and what I’m loving, learning and living because of the CKL.  It has stuck my fancy.

The first book I’m reading is one called Abandon by Blake Crouch.  Not to be confused with the trilogy series by Meg Cabot.  The beginning definitely sucked me in and I’m hooked.  I can’t wait to find out what happened in Christmas 1893 that left only a small, murderous child alive.  Paranormal, mystery and relationships.  Sounds like a good read to me!

So, tomorrow I am going out to dinner with friends and then to the Concert in the Park downtown where some “Honky Tonk” band will be playing.  I’ve scheduled a sitter, six of us are going and I’m actually looking forward to it.  So, here’s to year 47, as old as it seems, I’ll live it to the fullest.

Book Reviews

Book Review – Three Silver Doves

 I am participating in another Book Tour at Beck Valley Books.  Unfortunately, my mom’s unexpected stay last week threw a wrench in my review’s scheduling which means you all missed out on the Giveaway related to this book.  Sorry about that!  But, I thought I would go ahead and share my thoughts and the book information.  So, here are my thoughts:

Although this book is described as a mystery, after reading it, I think it is equal parts travel story, romance and mystery. Desperately in need of a vacation when I started reading, I really enjoyed the descriptions of the hotel/spa and the surrounding environment. The author does a good job of putting the reader in the place through her descriptions. I would have loved to have checked myself in to the Agua Encantada for a few days, enjoyed the mineral baths and the delicious food!

If you’re looking for a fast-moving thriller, this is not the story for you.   But, if you’re more someone who likes character and setting development and/or a little romance rather than constant edge-of-your-seat action, then this book is definitely for you. I love the development of relationship between Paige and other characters throughout the book, both those in Agua Encantada and her boyfriend in far-off Wyoming.  The mystery develops slowly but surely and has the reader following a trail of clues along with Paige, with page-turning interest.

The book is a great summer read that allows for a little escape even for those of us who are not so lucky as to be traveling ourselves during these summer months. This is a book in a series, but I had not read any of the previous books and I didn’t feel like it negatively affected the story at all.

And now the details on the book:


When New York reporter Paige MacKenzie heads to Tres Palomas, New Mexico, the resort of Agua Encantada seems a perfect destination to combine work with pleasure. A quick article on the healing mineral springs and a few leisurely soaking sessions in the resort’s soothing waters promises well-deserved rest and relaxation.

Paige is immediately intrigued with a local artist’s one-of-a-kind jewelry designs, as well as weekly gatherings to hear legends from an elderly storyteller. But when identical jewelry shows up on another guest and the storyteller goes missing, Paige’s R&R is soon redefined as restlessness and risk. Curious and persistent by nature, Paige is convinced there’s a connection. Enlisting the help of a flirtatious resort worker seems like a good idea until it begins to test her loyalty to her favorite cowboy, Jake Norris. Will an unexpected overnight trip to Tierra Roja Casino lead her to the answers she seeks, or are darker secrets lurking along the way?

eBook available from…Amazon.com    Amazon.co.uk

Paperback also available from…

Amazon.com    Amazon.co.uk   Barnes and Noble

About the author
Deborah Garner is an accomplished travel writer with a passion for back roads and secret hideaways. Born and raised in California, she studied in France before returning to the U.S. to attend UCLA. After stints in graduate school and teaching, she attempted to clone herself for decades by founding and running a dance and performing arts center, designing and manufacturing clothing and accessories, and tackling both spreadsheets and display racks for corporate retail management. Her passions include photography, hiking and animal rescue. She speaks five languages, some substantially better than others. She now divides her time between California and Wyoming, dragging one human and two canines along whenever possible.
Find the author on the following sites…
Follow the book tour

I received this book to review through Beck Valley Books Book Tours, all the opinions above are 100% my own.





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Stray Thoughts Sunday

Stray Thoughts Sunday

Today’s thoughts are straying toward sadness, so I’m going to try to focus on positive, hopeful and fun things.  Why sad?  Well, there is the world at large where a bitter and evil person chose to take the lives of nine people at a prayer meeting because of some deranged hatred.  There is my smaller world where my husband will be gone for seven weeks and we’ll miss being with him on Father’s Day (and I didn’t plan ahead to have something where he will be) as well as missing my dad who passed away a little over a year ago.  I am also still feeling a bit overwhelmed with my life in general…trying to clean up and declutter seems more like a cycle of clean, pile up, clean, pile up, clean, pile up, take some stuff away.  Repeat.  I don’t feel much progress right now, but I’m sure I will get there.  Bit by bit.  Anyways – on to my stray thoughts this Sunday:

Stray Thought Sundays

First off, I have not been overly invested in the Rachel Dolezal story and I have various opinions about the situation and I’m sure none of us who are outside her personal social circle and personal history have a complete understanding, but I can definitely get behind this perspective shared in the Boston Globe’s “Rachel Dolezal a lesson in how racism works,” :

Finally, it is troubling that so many of us now know the name and story of Rachel Dolezal, a white woman who passed as black advocate, rather than the names of countless black women who occupy the front lines in the war against racism. Dolezal is a national phenomenon, but Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi, the activists who started the Black Lives Matter campaign, are scarcely recognized. Dolezal’s peculiar and sensational fall from grace have made her more recognizable than Rekia Boyd and Natasha McKenna, two black women among many who were killed by police with little national attention. Uncovering the truth about Dolezal is no substitute for speaking the names and telling the stories of true martyrs and warriors in the battle for social justice.

As a debate coach and appreciator of argument, I am loving the articles focused on argument, like this one: “This is why you will lose your argument.”  Unfortunately, I don’t think most people will go to the trouble to really force the issue of relevance and “point at issue,” and will instead settle for poorly focused discussions that get us no closer to truth or conclusive claims.  Sad, but true.

I am (still) loving Modern Mrs. Darcy  I started reading this blog quite a while ago when in one of my “I’m a reader.” phases where I figure if I follow blogs of people who read a lot perhaps I will be encouraged to read more.  I’ve given up on a lot of those blogs since then, but this is one that survived even once I realized that reading a bunch of book reviews did not actually make me read more myself (maybe I should have spent that time reading actual books).  She is funny, a great and honest critic and writes about so much more than just books.  Plus, I love the name of her blog and all the design work on the blog.  If you are a reader, lover of books or just like to read posts from someone who is a reader and lover of books, this blog is for you.

Those are some of my stray thoughts for this Sunday.  What about you?

Book Reviews

Book Review: Booker: Hate City

I received a copy of the book Booker: Hate City from Beck Valley Books in return for doing this review as part of the virtual book tour.  All of the opinions are my own.

From the moment Booker: Hate City by John W, Mefford opens, you know it is going to be a messy ride:

“He was afraid to look in the mirror.

Heaving breaths surged from his lungs, as bile dripped off the corners of his mouth. Squeezing his eyelids shut, his heart fluttered with a drumroll cadence. Searing heat poured out of his chest like molten lava.”

With that opening, we are pulled into the world of Booker Adams, a former Dallas police officer with some skeletons in his closet, who is now working as a PI. There are numerous references in the book that I imagine are being made to the previous titles, Booker: Streets of Mayhem and Booker: Tap That. But, I definitely do not think it is necessary to read the former titles to enjoy this third in the series. I was able to enjoy it, but would like to go back and read the two prior volumes to fill in those details.

The book has a few different plot lines working throughout. Being a conspiracy theory fan, I loved the setting of the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas, TX, a place I’ve actually visited. For those unfamiliar, the Sixth Floor Museum is dedicated to the John F. Kennedy assassination and is housed in what was once the Book Depository where Oswald was working at the time. The opening scene has Booker standing in the window where the Oswald had positioned himself to take the shot. This setting and the story line of stolen items from the museum definitely piqued my interest early on in the book. In addition to this plot line, there is a grisly killing of a CEO of an energy company that is doing fracking – a nice tip of the hat to a current event to balance against the historical event of Kennedy’s assassination. But, is there a connection between the two cases? That, my friends, is part of the book’s appeal. You just aren’t quite sure what is coming next throughout.

Booker is a very likable character. He has charm, but not too much of it. He is honest, but as I said before, has some skeletons in his closet. He has a sense of humor that comes across in both dialogue and what we know of his thoughts. The character development is excellent for such a short book. I feel like I get to know the characters quickly, but without them being left too shallow. If you’re someone who loves a thriller-type mystery, you’ll like this book. If you’re someone who likes a conspiracy theory thriller, you’ll like this book. There is a lot of different things that are appealing about the book and I think it makes it attractive to a broad audience. Being someone who likes mystery, thriller AND conspiracy theories, the book was a home run for me as a reader.

The tension that builds as the story unfolds chapter by chapter, introducing new characters, new settings, but without giving too much in the way of explanation of the mystery provides great motivation to continue reading. I loved the unfolding, rather than straight forward telling, of the story.   And I found myself driven to continue reading to reveal the next piece of the story and to get to know the characters just a little bit better.

Overall, this book is a short, fun and tension-filled read. I look forward to going back and reading the other two volumes in the series to fill in some details that were left a little fuzzy for me in this third installment. But, I definitely enjoyed the book without having read the first two volumes.


Now, the information about the book, previous titles and the author:


After a life filled with destruction of others and himself, and his body ravaged by disease, there’s only one thing left for Javier Calero to do. Leave a legacy that will finally bring meaning to his life—and to the death of an American president more than fifty years ago.

The CEO of a green energy company is murdered behind his million-dollar estate, his neck nearly severed in two. Recruited to aid the widow and find a savage killer, Booker finds himself in the middle of a family train wreck.

Days later, thrust into the crossfire of a deadly sniper, Booker eludes sure death with the uncanny arrival of a young woman who only wants to save her father from harm. But she can’t do it without Booker’s help.

Joining forces with a Latin spitfire, Booker and his new sidekick, Maggie, embark on a twenty-four-hour quest to hunt down a killer determined to make an indelible mark on history—just like the one that struck down John F. Kennedy a half-century earlier, which launched a cascade of assassination investigations and theories.

BOOKER – Hate City weaves a historic tale of thrills and suspense, examining the justifications of the unjustifiable.

Book available from…

Amazon.com    Amazon.co.uk   Barnes and Noble   iTunes   Kobo   

Check out the other books in the series

Booker: Streets of Mayhem (Booker #1)On a cool October afternoon, the majestic blue sky above Dallas is polluted with swells of gray smoke, carrying shattered memories of fifteen people, mostly children, who’ve just been killed by an explosion on a bus.

A white supremacist group claims responsibility, opening old wounds, turning neighbor against neighbor–fracturing the community.

A Southeast Dallas native, Booker T. Adams couldn’t be more invested in the city…in the people he’d served for the last seven years as a beat cop for the Dallas Police Department. Without warning, it becomes personal for Booker on so many levels. And as panic grips the city, he must decide how much he’s willing to sacrifice to end the chaos.

With his career called into question and his family in the crosshairs of one terrorist act after another, Booker invests every fiber of his being to protect a broken community, and to stop the brutal, senseless slayings.

If he fails, terrorism will reign in the city of Dallas.

Book available from…

Amazon.com   Amazon.co.uk   Barnes and Noble   iTunes   Kobo

Booker: Tap That (Booker #2)

A performance for the ages.

Courtney Johnson brings the house down in the heart of the vibrant Dallas Arts District. Later, shrills pierce the hallways of Wyle Theater when Courtney, a budding Broadway musical star, is found dead, a single bullet to the head.

Driven to find the killer before panic tears apart the arts community and all those who support it, private investigator Booker T. Adams discovers evidence of a professional hit, then uncovers a lovers ‘ triangle that takes him all the way to the mean streets of Boston.

And then it happens again. Another performer killed, someone Booker had met. Rocked by the shocking murders, performers and patrons alike fear that a serial killer is on the loose, and no one knows when and or where another dead body will show up.

But professional obligations quickly morph into personal vendettas. Running against an unforgiving clock, Booker is forced to solicit the help of a crime boss, The Shark.

With his life threatened at almost every turn, and his heart being put through a meat grinder, Booker taps into every resource at his disposal to stop more than just a killer.

But at what price?

Full of unforgettable characters, bone-chilling suspense and stunning thrills, BOOKER – Tap That is a wild ride that will test even the most fervent reader’s quest for a luminous reading experience.

Book available from…

Amazon.com   Amazon.co.uk   Barnes and Noble   iTunes   Kobo

About the Author

A veteran of the corporate wars, former journalist, and true studier of human and social behavior, best-selling author John W. Mefford has been writing novels since he first entered the work force twenty-five years ago, although he never put words on paper until late 2009.

John writes novels full of intrigue, suspense, and thrills, but they also evoke an emotional connection with the characters.

When he’s not writing, he chases three kids around, slaves away in the yard, reads, takes in as many sports as time allows, watches all sorts of movies, and continues to make mental notes of people and societies across the land.

John lives in Frisco, Texas with his beautiful wife, three opinionated kids, and a feisty fat cat who rules the world.

Find the author on the following sites…

Website   Facebook   Twitter   Google+   Goodreads

Follow the book tour

I received this book to review through Beck Valley Books Book Tours, all the opinions above are 100% my own.


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