Sunset Views

There is a small mountain near our house which I like to walk up for the view. It had been closed recently because the flooding and rains in the summer caused landslides. It took time to repair the roads. A few of the trails are still closed to visitors. I don’t often catch a good sunset but I got lucky even though all I had was a camera phone.

Books that would make great gifts

This is a part of the blog hop from Long and Short Reviews.

First of all, I apologize it things look a bit wonky. I am redoing my blog and website and still getting used to it.

Are there any books that don’t make great gifts to a book lover?

I’m a firm believer in that people should read the books they enjoy and make them happy. If you like mysteries, romance, science fiction, westerns, historical fiction, suspense, or anything else if it gives you joy, fun, adventure and a sense of escape that’s a good thing. I don’t put down other people’s reading preferences. People’s lives are hard enough without someone putting down their little corner of joy. And especially with all the turmoil people have had in the past year, I hope books can be of some relief.

I am looking forward to my winter vacation reading. Christmas isn’t a real holiday in Japan, so I will be working. A couple of Zoom classes and a faculty meeting for my holiday. But for New Year’s I will have time off to relax. I plan to do my annual Lord of the Rings rewatch and have a few books that are ordered and waiting to be read.

The Fated Sky/ Mary Robinette Kowal. This is the second on the Lady Astronaut series which I am addicted to.

Grave on Grand Avenue (An Officer Ellie Rush mystery)/ Naomi Hirahara. I loved the first book about a bicycle cop in LA and look forward to this.

Leviathan Wakes(Book 1 of the Expanse) James S. A. Corey. I thought about getting the audiobook, but decided I wanted the paperback.

When it comes to ‘gift books’ for the holiday I usually splurge fancier copies or rare books I don’t normally purchase. I read a lot especially, paperbacks and e-books, but for the holidays I might go for a box set or an art book. 

I loved Blade Runner 2049. I want to see it in the theater twice and the 3D version was amazing. I am a fan of the original Blade Runner also. I have the Blu-Ray and the soundtrack and I really want this book. Needless, to say I am also eagerly awaiting Villeneuve’s DUNE. I know the plan is for streaming in the US, but I am hoping a few theaters will show it overseas. I cannot wait.

Favorite songs or musicians

Wow. This is a lengthy topic so I will narrow it down a bit.

I am a huge fan of music history and covers. One of my favorite podcast is Coverville, which does covers of different songs, performers etc.

 One of my favorite albums is Motown Sings the Beatles. I also like the Motown Christmas album which my parent still have the LP off.

I also have very bad driving anxiety. So in order to calm myself I listen to the Priscilla: Queen of the Desert soundtrack and or Monty Python Sings! Yes. I know it’s strange.

Anyway, I am also a fan of music history and tidbits. One of my favorites is Hound Dog. Although most widely known with the Elvis version, it was originally recorded by Big Mama Thorton a few years early. It was her biggest commercial success. And even after her version, there were a few more blues, R& B, and country versions release before it became the runaway Elvis hit.

My next one is Fever. Most people now know the Peggy Lee version(1958) because it was her signature, but the original was by Little Willie John (1956) and a Billboard best seller. Music in the 50’s and &0’s was strictly segregated, even in radio play, so it’s not surprising that many of the early blues, soul, and R&B versions were pushed out of the mainstream music history. 

I also have very bad driving anxiety. So in order to calm myself I listen to the Priscilla: Queen of the Desert soundtrack and or Monty Python Sings! Yes. I know it’s strange.

I also like an African musician named Wiyaala who does a cover version of ABBA.

And of course, the weird YouTube finds. Because everyone needs a medieval tribute to 50 Cent.

How I decide what to read next

This is the worst nightmare for a person as addicted to reading as I am. I agonize over it; especially if it’s Christmas and I’ve gone a bit crazy with my holiday reading purchases. I usually have a series I’m reading, so next in the series gets priority for orders. I finished THE CALCULATING STARS by Mary Robinette Kowal which I loved, so now I have book 2 of the Lady Astronaut series on order. I am also eagerly awaiting the next Vera Stanhope book, but it won’t  be out until next Fall. 

Sometimes, I’ll choose a book based on mood. I loved reading the Song of Ice and Fire, but after that I was craving fantasy that was a bit lighter, ie. less rape and murder; more elves and fun. 

Which reminds me, book with sexy Elves always gets moved to the top. Haven’t found a good handsome elf hero in a while. Must remedy that. 

I balance out my mystery books. If I read a darker mystery/crime like Ian Rankin; I have to balance it out with a Stephanie Plum. If I read a dark romance, I balance it out with a romantic comedy. 

Sometimes, especially with non-fiction, I’ll read it immediately. Usually because I watched a movie or went to a museum or lecture or something that triggered and interest in a topic. I’ve done a lot of castle visits lately, so I’m slowly building up a library of castle and sword related books. (Those I can afford.)

Topics I Never Get Tired of Talking About

Books. Well, I like books. I like talking about bookstores and used bookstores and libraries and museums. 

Star Trek, but I have to remember not everyone wants to talk about it. I can also talk about Blake’s 7 or Babylon 5 for variety. 

I just finished reading all the A Song of Ice and Fire books, so now I am dying to talk about it with someone.

History. I love museums. I read and collect books on African American history. My grandmother was a part of a historical archive project and I found a three hour interview with her online! It was a real treasure to hear her voice again.

Science. I don’t know as much about science as I like but I enjoy learning about it.

Food. I enjoyed reading everyone’s post about food because I love to try new cuisine.

The truth is, I’m fairly open about what I will talk about. I am a shy person, but when I get a chance to meet someone new, I try to listen and get to know about them. The only things I don’t talk about with people I don’t know well are sensitive topics like politics or religion. I also hate office gossip. As soon as the office gossip starts in the break room, I leave. I really don’t want to be pulled into it.

I don’t much like talking about sports but I’m trying to more open about that. I had so much fun watching World Cup Rugby last year, I think I’m actually beginning to like it. 

The strangest things I’ve eaten



One thing I’ve learned is that what is strange to me, may not be strange to anyone else. I used to think Vegemite was strange. So, I thought I’d mention some of the more unusual foods I’ve tried.

Japanese food is very different from western food. I took me a while to get used to rice, tofu, seaweed, miso as basic to a daily diet. Nowadays, lots of people around the world eat Japanese food so I don’t think it’s so odd for younger people. Cuisine had gone global rapidly in the past few decades.


One of the unusual foods I enjoyed were dandelions. On this site, there is a recipe for sesame spinach and dandelions. ( I had no idea they could be eaten, but one of my  Japanese friends made it for dinner. I’ve never tried to make it on my own.

bamboo-rice-takenoko-gohan-III have fallen in love with bamboo for cooking. One of my absolute favorites now is bamboo rice. My husband and his friends too me to pick fresh bamboo. The smell of it cooking is absolutely wonderful and I look forward to it in season. There is a wonderful recipe on (Just One

On the odder end, I did try snake soup in Hong Kong. Eels took some getting used to, but now I don’t mind it so much. I actually like grilled eels.

Locusts, however, were not something I could really get used to. I did try fried locusts. It was…crunchy. Bugs are a food source in many parts of the world and many eco-friendly activists are advocating eating bugs as better for the earth.There are online recipes for honey and miso locusts, grub granola, and grasshopper tacos.  It is also believed to be a way to solve the growing resource problem. One SF series I like by Becky Chambers, had her crew members eating bugs and this is a real possibility for colonies and space travel.

What I wanted to do vs. what I actually do

Well. Well. Well.

i always knew that I wanted to travel, so I figured whatever I did I’d live in a foreign country, which I do. At the time I wanted to love in Mexico or England. I’m not sure why, but it’s probably because  I only knew anything about a handful of countries. 😀

I knew I wanted to write a book someday.  I used to make little books and handmade covers; most with bizarre plots. I wanted to be on the radio too. I used to make up radio plays with with my tape recorder and have my sister help with sound effects. I also wanted to work in a museum, ie. The Smithsonian or the British Museum.

About college time I was under pressure to be a lawyer, teacher, or minister. I did get a teaching certificate, but never liked teaching high school.  I took the law school exam, but didn’t pursue it when I discovered I had no interest. I had no desire to go into ministry, and that caused a big rift with my family for years.

At the moment, I’m happy with my job. I work as a university lecturer. It’s not the first job I thought of as a child, but it suits me, and it gives me flexibility to go to all my daughters school events. And I get to spend a lot of time in the library.

And I get to write!!

Character Names in a Book I Can’t Pronounce


WednesdayBloggingChallenge-copyI have a confession… I can’t stand not being able to pronounce a character name in a book, so I immediately look it up. Yay social media! 

As a learn more about writing on my own, I have discovered how difficult it can be to name characters. Even if I have a name in your head, often I will change it by the time I draft chapter three or so because I have too many characters with similar names (Amy, Amanda, Amelia) or it is too cumbersome or too common. Or I already used a similar one in another story. And I think some names get overused. I remember long, long ago when I worked for a review blog there was a spate of books with heroes named Liam. There have got to be other choices for an Irish character.  As an aside, there are too many Hollywood Chris’. The limit has been reached.

 If you’re doing SFR, it’s tough to come up with alien names that sound ‘alien’ but aren’t too distracting. I used to get annoyed with too many alien character with names like Zar, but then I tried to  write an SFR and realized how incredibly difficult that is. Writers have a tough job. 

I remember reading a book, again awhile ago, and it was about hero names in romance. This was before indie publishing took off so the ‘rules’ are rather restrictive on what traditional publishers wanted. One rule was that you couldn’t have a hero with a Russian name because those didn’t sell. (There are tons of Russian heroes now, but apparently that was a thing.) And if the character was Latina it was almost always Maria.  Asian characters in romances were rare, mostly supporting characters stuck to a handful of  (Chang, Patel, Sato ) here or there. Southeast Asian names were non-existent.  

You also weren’t supposed to have names that were too ethnic. If you were writing African American romances you had to make sure the names were more ‘neutral’, but not too ethnic like ‘Tameka’ or Keisha’. I had a problem with that. I still do. As a young woman, I read Harlequin’s now defunct line geared to African American romances (there was a teen one also) and I liked having characters that looked like me and people I knew. So it grated that certain names were considered ‘bad’ by publishers as if a person’s name automatically makes them less worthy to be a hero or heroine in a romance. 

This post went off the rails. Oh well. 

A Project or Hobby of mine that was inspired by a book


Wow. This is a challenging one, because usually I seek books about my hobbies. And I’m interested in just about anything. I’ll go through phases of reading. Once year, it was all books about Mathematics and Mathematicians. It did not encourage to me to do more math, but it was interesting to read about. Books don’t necessarily inspire hobbies, but they do inspire obsessions.

When I was young, I loved the Harriet the Spy books, so I did try to copy her. I stayed with my grandmother every summer for about a week in a very small slow paced town in NC. I was bored. Sitting around in the summer heat in NC, with no air-conditioner just rickety fans blowing hot air around. Not much in the way of TV. No cable, three stations with reception, and we had to be sit there and be quiet in the afternoons while my grandmother watched The Guiding Light and The Young and the Restless.  For some reason, I got it in my head that I could spy on people like Harriet so I made journals  of the neighbors coming and goings, and came up with elaborate plots about who they ‘really’ were and what they were involved in. I didn’t discover any great secrets.

There was a whole series of books called Ghosts of North Carolina, if I remember correctly. They probably aren’t around anymore. Anyway, each book had a list of locations in NC that were said to be haunted complete with ‘real’ photos of ghosts. So, on another slow summer with my grandmother I decided I’d be a paranormal investigator. Nothing much happened except scaring the crap out of my younger sister. 

I do love Bill Bryson’s books. He’s a travel writer, and it does influence my love of travel. His books are funny but really packed with information. A Walk in the Woods about walking the Appalachian Trail is wonderful. And he has another book, Notes from a Small Island, that really makes me want to go to Australia one of these days.

I’m also blogging at Coffee Time Romance today, celebrating my series and upcoming release. So if you have a moment, come by and drop a comment about your favorite alien species.

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