"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Monday, September 2, 2019

August Books

Rough Justice by Lisa Scottoline -- this book introduces a new lawyer,Marta, who is this close to getting a "not guilty" verdict for her client - who just admitted to her that he did murder the homeless black man in question. Bennie, Mary, and Judy from  Rosato & Associates are featured in this book as well.

In the Company of Cheerful Ladies by Alexander McCall Smith -- another book featuring Mma Ramotswe and her friends and family, including Mma Ramotswe's tiny white van breaking down as she sought out her former husband's family, and Mma Makutsi heading to dancing lessons. Cute story.

Death of a New American by Mariah Fredericks -- this is a follow-up book to one I read earlier in the year; it's a murder mystery as told by the servant Jane Prescott.  A young Italian nanny is murdered in the room where her young charge - a baby - is nearly kidnapped (or so it's suspected). A pretty good story. 

Mistaken Identity by Lisa Scottoline -- This book introduces Lou Jacobs to the firm as Bennie Rosato is called to represent a murder suspect who claims to be her twin! Mary and Judy help Bennie in her defense. Lots going on in this book; good one.

Torrent Falls by Jan Watson -- more in the life of Copper Brown (see previous books) as she moves back to her father's cabin on Troublesome Creek

The Number of Love by Roseanna M. White -- Book 1 in the Codebreakers series; Takes place in London during World War II. This book is about Margot a refugee from Belgium who is a codebreaker. It was OK. Kind of interesting, but nothing special to me.

Blue Shoes and Happiness by Alexander McCall Smith -- another cute story featuring some great characters and observations about life in Botswana. 

Moment of Truth by Lisa Scottoline -- Jack Newlin confesses to a murder that he doesn't commit. He hires Mary DiNunzio to represent him - and wants her to back off on defending him. Interesting story!

Home for Erring and Outcast Girls by Julie Kibler -- an interesting look at Berachah Industrial Home for the Redemption of Erring Girls in Arlington, Texas, through the eyes of Lizzie and Mattie who were girls who stayed there. Also, in modern times, Cate and Laurel read accounts of the Home in order to learn more about the ladies who lived there.  Pretty good book. 

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens -- Kya is abandoned by her family to live in the North Carolina marsh. She survives with the help of her wits and a couple of friends. She even learns to read though she only attended school one day in her life. An interesting story. I saw a Facebook friend post about this so I put it on hold. I was 76th in line when I put it on hold in mid-June. It took just under 2 months to get it...not bad.  I enjoyed learning about the marsh and its importance. And Kya's story is pretty cool, too.

The Chelsea Girls by Fiona Davis -- an interesting way to look at the Red Scare after World War II through the eyes of two friends, an actress and a playwright/director.  Good story!

The Yankee Widow by Linda Lael Miller -- Caroline's young husband succumbs to his injuries during the battle at Chancellorsville, and she brings his body home to Gettysburg for burial. Not many days later, a battle takes place nearby and wounded soldiers are brought to her property. This book was OK. I liked it somewhat at first, but didn't really care for how the story went.

The Last Year of the War by Susan Meissner -- an interesting look at the last year of World War II and some afterward from the perspective of a young German girl, Elise, who was interred with her family. A good story!

The Pages of Her Life by James L. Rubart -- Allison Moore is gifted a beautiful journal, and she writes about the frustrations of her life as she ends a partnership with her best friend in order to become partner with a friend who fails to keep promises. The journal is rather special in that it talks back to her in a supernatural way.  An ok book. 

The Abolitionist's Daughter by Diane C. McPhail -- a book about life in Greensboro, Mississippi, around the time of the Civil War. Emily Matthews' father - a judge - seeks to free his slaves in a place where that's not allowed. This book was a bit disjointed for me, and was just ok.

Thriving in Babylon by Larry Osborne -- Andrew got this book for his birthday, I think, so I decided to read it. It's an easy read with some good challenges and reminders based on Daniel's life in Babylon. 

Better Than the Best Plan by Lauren Morrill -- When Maritza's mom decides to leave for a job-training opportunity in Mexico, she leaves a note for her 17-year-old daughter to find after school. Ritzy is suddenly without a guardian as she enters the summer before her senior year in high school. Somehow a social worker is informed and Ritzy has to move to a foster home. A pretty cute YA book. An easy read.

King's Shadow by Angela Hunt -- part of The Silent Years series, this "novel of King Herod's Court" was an interesting look at Salome and her brother Herod.

The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach by Pam Jenoff -- Adelia is put on a ship by her mom in order to escape Italy during World War II. She ends up in a south Philadelphia neighborhood where she frequently visits the Connally family, a mom and dad with four boys whom she grows to love. This book explores Addie's relationship with the family before and after a tragedy.  Pretty good story.  One I got for my birthday from a friend who purchased it from my Amazon Wishlist. This is one Pam Jenoff book my library didn't have. 

The Vendetta Defense by Lisa Scottoline -- When Pigeon Tony is charged with murdering an old rival from back home in Italy, Judy is asked to defend him.  An OK book, but not my favorite from this series.

The Dead Ex by Jane Corry  -- A good book about Vicki who suffers from epilepsy which affects her memory, or so the doctors tell her. But now she is being questioned by police about her ex-husband's disappearance. Did she do something and just can't remember? Also happening, Zelda is sent to prison while her daughter Scarlet is sent to foster care. How do these two plot lines come together? In a pretty interesting way!

The Good Husband of Zebra Drive by Alexander McCall Smith -- such a cute story; I laughed out loud a couple of times especially when the ladies figured out who would be in control of making sure the tea supply never ran out. (pg. 172).

Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler -- great book! Have you ever been forbidden to date or marry someone you loved...because he or she was different from you?  Well, this book explores this issue - in this case, a black man and white woman - in the story of Isabelle and Robert as told by Isabelle as an almost 90 year old woman.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Ancestry Yearbook Pictures

For a year I had a subscription to Ancestry.com, and then canceled it last October because I didn't really enjoy genealogy that much, found the site a bit overwhelming, and I didn't have much to look up when it came time to cancel.  I've since found some things I'd like know so maybe I'll subscribe again one day.

I still get - and enjoy - their emails, and still often check DNA Matches to see if anyone new shows up related to me.

Yesterday I saw that they were offering free access to their collection of yearbooks so I looked up my parents, grandparents, myself, my maybe/probably grandpa and his children, Andrew, his parents and brother, and so forth.  I shared the link on Facebook for any curious friends, and also shared it with my Babycenter (private group) friends. Several of us there were posting pictures of the family we found in Ancestry's collection.

I wasn't able to find myself or my siblings, but I did find these gems:

Three of my mom in college:

One of my dad in college (with a white spot over his eye):

Andrew's parents:

High school (first 2) and then college for his mom:

Andrew's brother and himself, senior years. Were they instructed not to smile??

Jim's picture really amused me... 

Andrew and Jim really are more smiley than they appear in school. Haha

Christmas 2017
Andrew: top right
Brother Jim: bottom right

My maybe/probably grandpa at a university where he taught in Ohio:

Wider view shows he was an adviser with Phi Sigma Kappa

Thursday, August 15, 2019

DNA-Match Mystery Solved (I think)

A couple months ago I wrote about Solving a DNA-Match Mystery as I awaited my aunt's DNA test results.  When my dad's high Italian DNA showed up, I thought it might be a mystery I'd never solve. It's pretty well-known that a great-great-something grandmother (she was born around 1810) on the Fuqua side never married though she had several (6, I think) children. I figured whoever fathered the child who became my direct ancestor passed along his Italian DNA. But then when the Greek* surnames showed up as very close matches to me and my dad, I had to rethink things.

I puzzled it out with my family. We have a Messenger group with just my parents and siblings. My mom actually made the correct suggestion. I had been looking at my grandfather as he was a known cheater. I was trying to make it fit with him.

But my mom suggested my grandmother - my dad's mom - was the key.  At first I said no because I had matches with her cousins, but then...yes, you're right, Mama. The ones missing from my list are Fuquas and Hamletts and Websters! What is the meaning of this?  And...how...?

And while I can't ask my grandmother for any information since she died in October 2017 at age 91, I can make some educated guesses. All this thanks to the Ancestry DNA Matches feature plus a rather detailed online obituary.

So, I've concluded that my dad's full siblings are really half-siblings, and he's not even biologically related to all those aunts, uncles, and grandparents he grew up with!  (His parents divorced when he was ten so he lived with his grandparents and was/is very close to his aunts and uncles.)  He has several half-siblings plus extended family in Ohio whom we only know about thanks to the DNA testing.

I wondered how the Ohio guy and my grandmother met. Because his obituary mentions his service,

"...veteran of the U.S. Army, serving with the 82nd Airborne Division; 504th Parachute Regiment, qualifying as a parachutist and gliderman."

I was able to look up that division and saw they are based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina!  Perhaps he came through on a bus or train and met my grandmother. Or maybe he had a buddy in this area, and came here on leave. Or maybe she traveled to Fort Bragg. I'll likely never know.  But I know so far two of the children and three of the grandchildren listed in his obituary are on my DNA Match list.  And based on how accurate the DNA has been on all the other matches, I can't easily dismiss this!

This is already too wordy so I'll close.  Feel free to ask me any questions especially if I need to clarify something.

* Although the DNA presently shows up as Italian according to Ancestry, the family is Greek with the grandparents coming from the Isle of Rhodes in the early 1900s.  One of the DNA Matches (Laura) provided this information about a year ago when we chatted briefly about our close DNA connection. I've not heard from her since.


Thursday, August 1, 2019

July Books

The Whispered Word by Ellery Adams -- Another books from Miracle Springs, NC, featuring the Secret, Book, and Scone Society members. This time a stranger in town Abilene needs help, and the SB&SS helps her and hears her story. An easy, OK read.

The Road Home by Richard Paul Evans -- the final book in the Broken Road trilogy. Charles James, the multimillionaire seminar speaker who supposedly died in a plane crash, is finishing up his walk along Route 66. An easy, good read.

Exposed by Lisa Scottoline -- Mary DiNunzio agrees to help out a childhood friend who believes he was wrongly terminated because his daughter's cancer treatment cost the company a lot of money. Mary agrees to the case, but then finds out that her partner Bennie Rosato represents the parent company. Another exciting book in this series!

Wherever She Goes by Kelley Armstrong -- a pretty good book; I liked the main character, Aubrey, who tries hard to be a good mom to Charlotte, but her past haunts her and she looses her marriage and seems to be hanging onto her child by a thread. When Aubrey witnesses a kidnapping, she isn't taken seriously by the police so she starts looking for the child on her own. Is she crazy? Will this be more ammunition for her ex-husband in a custody battle?

Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith -- book 2 in The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency series; Mma Ramotswe shows me life through her eyes; cute story.

The Very Picture of You by Isabel Wolff -- this was much much better than the two previous books; this book was more like the library books I've read from this author. In fact, this reminded me of the Vintage Affair book due to the portraiture going to people's houses or hosting them in her studio and learning some of their stories. But I like that aspect and this book was a much better read than the Tiffany and Minty books.

Morality For Beautiful Girls by Alexander McCall Smith -- book 3 in The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency series; Mma Ramotswe and her secretary/assistant detective move headquarters to Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni's garage. Another cute story and easy read while the kids are in town. I read nearly half this book while Sophie played four hours at the park yesterday.

The Kalahari Typing School for Men by Alexander McCall Smith -- book 4 in The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency series; Mma Ramotswe looks for tips in dealing with her foster son; meanwhile her secretary/assistant detective decides on a way to earn a little more money by using her typing skills. I enjoy these books!

Beyond the Point by Claire Gibson -- a look at acceptance and life at West Point (and a bit beyond) through the eyes of three friends, Dani, Hannah, and Avery. The author's father was stationed at West Point so she lived there several years. Pretty good story.

A Question of Love by Isabel Wolff -- I received this book for my birthday from my Amazon Wishlist. It wasn't as good as some of hers, but I liked it pretty well. Laura likes facts, trivia, useless information, and she is the new host of a show involving puzzles. An old boyfriend is one of the first contestants on the show, and suddenly Luke is back in her life. Is this a good thing?

Feared by Lisa Scottoline -- Mary DiNunzio and her partners are being sued for reverse-sex discrimination when three men claim they were not hired due to their not being female. The lone male associate is thinking of quitting when something terrible happens that .. well, just read it if you like these types of books.

The Memory House by Rachel Hauck -- Beck Holiday, of the NYPD, inherits a house in Florida after a lady named Everleigh dies. Since she's currently suspended from the force, she travels to Fernandina Beach and finds people who knew who during the years her father was alive, years Beck cannot remember.

Everywhere That Mary Went by Lisa Scottoline -- remember all those books I've been reading about Mary DiNunzio and her associates at the law firm? Well, as far as I know, this book introduces readers to Mary and it goes way back to 1993 when people had car phones, but not smartphones that we use nowadays. I enjoyed reading about Mary and Judy back in the day, and compare/contrast them then to what I learned about them in the newer series.  In this book, Mary is being harassed by hang-up phone calls, anonymous letters, and the fact that she no longer thinks her husband's death was an accident.

The Light Over London by Julia Kelly -- I enjoyed this story about Cara who works for an antique company and finds a diary from World War II. She decides to track down L.K.'s family, if possible. In the meantime - or between chapters, we learn more of the story of Louise Keene and her work in the Ack-Ack Command. Good book!

 The Full Cupboard of Life by Alexander McCall Smith -- book 5 in The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency series; the story continues; Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni is supposed to jump out of an airplane in order to raise funds for the orphan farm. Meanwhile Mma Ramotswe wonders when they will ever set a date to be married. 

All Manner of Things by Susie Finkbeiner -- Annie Jacobson and her family survived their father leaving a dozen years ago, but now that Mike, the older brother, is headed to Vietnam, Frank (formerly known as "dad") comes back into the picture.  A pretty good story.

Legal Tender by Lisa Scottoline -- this book introduces readers to Benedetta Rosato aka Bennie who was quite prominent in the later series featuring her and Mary. In this book Bennie's partner wants to dissolve the company that they built together.

Becoming Us by Robin Jones Gunn -- an easy read I found in the New Books area; After a few years of living with her inlaws in North Carolina, Emily and her husband and daughter move across the country to take over a car lot ownership in southern California. As the family struggles to make it, they make friends - especially good girl friends. This book focuses a lot on family togetherness and friendship togetherness.

Troublesome Creek by Jan Watson -- an easy read and fairly interesting look at life on a mountain farm in the l800s. Copper Brown is 15 years old, and her mother (actually her natural mom's sister) is talking about sending her off to boarding school. But Copper loves her way of life, and wants to stay.  Pretty good book. I actually read this years ago, but it's been so long that hardly any of it seems familiar. My mom read it recently and there are two follow-up books which I don't think I ever read so I plan to do that soon. 

Willow Springs by Jan Watson -- this continues the story of Copper Brown as she marries and makes a life with her husband in a new area, outside her beloved mountains. She battles homesickness, but then starts making friends in the community.

Friday, July 26, 2019

On loving the squad and DJT

After seeing yet another Facebook meme against "the squad" posted by an acquaintance, I was thinking if I were brave I would post something like, "Yeah, it's really too bad Jesus told us to love our enemies, huh? That Jesus is way out-of-touch and clueless about life and how tough it is for us to love these political folks we can't stand."

But then I thought about my own great dislike and disgust of a certain president, and figured I should clean up my own act first (i.e., love my enemy, pray for him, etc., etc.) 


I really have tried to pray for him a time or two. And I even asked God to save his soul, and for those who claim to follow Christ to...follow Christ and not DJT.

Just putting it out there.  I struggle with loving my enemy.  OK, I'm off to read.

Matthew 5:43-48 New International Version (NIV)

Love for Enemies

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Monday, July 1, 2019

June Books

Gone by Lisa Gardner -- Finishing up the last of these books at the local libraries. I think I have one to go. This one takes place in Oregon as former FBI profiler Quincy and his wife Rainie have moved back to her part of the US. After Rainie starts back drinking, Quincy moves out in order to give her some space. During that time her car is discovered running, door open, purse in the seat..but no Rainie. The local police along with Quincy and his FBI daughter and her boyfriend work to solve the case.

After the War Is Over by Jennifer Robson -- Charlotte Brown works to make life a bit better for people who've fallen upon hard times. Especially those in England affected by the War (WW2). This book almost seemed like a sequel to another book, but it was fine as a standalone as there were plenty of flashbacks to earlier days. A pretty good story.

Sonoma Rose by Jennifer Chiaverini -- an Elm Creek Quilts novel -- I took a break from reading these even though I had only this and one other book left. This story didn't focus as much on the Bergstrom family in Pennsylvania. Rather it took place in California. It's the story of Rosa and Lars who were mentioned in a previous books when a Bergstrom cousin, Elizabeth, and her husband went across the country to claim the ranch they purchased sight unseen. Well, Rosa became friends with Elizabeth, and Lars was part of the Jorgensen clan. It was good reading their story some of which was alluded to in that previous book. Also, this book shared an interesting perspective of wine-sellers in Prohibition times.

Promises and Primroses by Josi S. Kilpack -- first book of the Mayfield Family Series; after his wife dies and his governess marries the vicar, Peter interviews a few ladies to care for and educate his daughters. Julia is actually his last choice, but she ends up with the job. And she does a splendid job with the children - and even assists in Peter's dog business. A pretty good book.

Betrayed by Lisa Scottoline -- I figured I'd read another in the Rosato & Associates series; this book focused more on Judy Carrier, one of the attorneys who finds out that her favorite aunt is facing a double mastectomy -- in, like 2 days. Aunt Barb kept her cancer and chemo treatments a secret from her sister and niece.  Judy rushes to visit Barb, and meets her Mexican friend, Iris. Sadly, Iris is discovered dead later that day of an apparent heart attack. But when Judy starts putting together some clues, the death looks more like murder than dying of natural causes!

A Death of No Importance by Mariah Fredericks -- I enjoyed this mystery as told by the servant of Charlotte and Louise. Many years have past, so Jane Prescott is telling the truth about a murder that happened in 1910 when Norrie was killed in the family's library. A pretty good book.

Corrupted by Lisa Scottoline -- I really enjoyed this story from the Rosato & Dinunzio series; Bennie takes on a murder case for a young man she knew from 13 years prior when she worked to get him out of juvenile detention. Part present, part 13 year in the past, and part trial...a good read!

The Secret, Book & Scone Society by Ellery Adams -- A cute, easy read about a book seller and bibliotherapist Nora, and her friends in Miracle Springs, NC, who find themselves involved in solving a mystery when a stranger is flattened by a train. They are determined to prove he was murdered and who did this awful deed!

Daisies and Devotion by Josi S. Kilpack -- book 2 in the Mayfield Family Series; I read the earlier book in this series and figured this would be a good easy read while the kids were in town. Sure enough I read several pages in it while Sophie played at the park for hours while Zach was visiting Michael. In the book, Maryann is back in London for the Season and she meets up with her friend Timothy who is looking for a wife. He confides his list of the perfect wife to Maryann - a list of a lady who is pretty much nothing like Maryann, but she decides to help him find that match. A pretty cute and predictable book.

Montauk by Nicola Harrison -- After her brother died in a car accident, Beatrice marries well and lives away from her rural Pennsylvania family amongst the good society of New York City. One summer she and her husband Harry went to Montauk where Beatrice stayed to be pampered and entertained while Harry worked his job during the week with plans to join her on weekends. It ended up not always working out quite that way, and Beatrice ends up helping the lighthouse keeper when he is injured while she visits. A pretty good story.

The Summer Country by Lauren Willig -- Emily travels to Barbados from her home in England with her cousin Adam and his wife, her best friend Laura. Emily is curious about this plantation her grandfather left her as it was a surprise from his will. A good story from this island nation in the 1800s!

Damaged by Lisa Scottoline -- another in the Rosato & Dinunzio series; Mary is asked to represent a ten-year-old boy who has dyslexia and was recently in trouble for violence against a teacher's aide. Good story.

Almost Home by Valerie Fraser Luesse -- a decent book and easy read about boarders at Si and Dolly's house in Alabama during World War II. People from all over the country are headed to this area to work in munitions plants.

How to Listen to God by Charles Stanley -- This short book appeared in my mailbox in a bag with a note of thanks for supporting the ministry. It didn't have a mailing address/postage though I'm guessing it was just sent a different way. Anyway...figured God was sending me a message because I used to joke that I wished God would send me a letter and just tell me His will for my life. Since this appeared in my mailbox, I read it.  I always like the story about the disciples in Acts 4:13, "...and they realized they had been with Jesus."

The Library of Lost and Found by Phaedra Patrick -- a rather cute, easy read about a librarian, Martha, who is surprised one evening when a book dedicated to her is left on her door. The dedication was from her grandmother, Zelda, but the date was 1985, three years after Zelda disappeared from her life, supposedly dead.

The Friends We Keep by Jane Green -- Imagine making friends while in college - such good friends that you all lived together, going off to your separate ways, and then later in life coming back together again, as good friends and living together just like your college days! Only, not really because so many years have passed and things have happened. That's the story of Maggie, Evvie, and Topher, two Americans and one Englishwoman who met while in England, and later met up again. Pretty good story.

The Giving Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini -- an Elm Creek Quilts novel; finally!  I finally finished this series. Some books were better than others, but they are all kind of comfortable especially towards the end when you feel you know Sylvia and the crew through and through. Only this time, they have some quilters in for Quiltsgiving, a time after Thanksgiving when quilters come for a free week of quilt camp with the purpose of making quilts for a good cause.

The Atomic City Girls by Janet Beard -- Although the characters are fiction, the town and what they did there in East Tennessee is true. The book starts with June Walker's grandfather being kicked off his land because the government wanted it for the war effort. June later gets a job at the newly-constructed "city" and later finds out they are helping create the atomic bomb!

Right Behind You by Lisa Gardner -- this, I believe, is the last of this author's books at my local libraries! And they were good. Well, some were really creepy and dark since they are crime books, but some aren't quite so bad. And this was one that wasn't so dark although still...violence. It's about Quincey and Rainie who are fostering a 13 year old girl, Sharlah, with hopes of adopting her later in the year. Sharlah's estranged brother goes on a shooting spree and the hunt is on to locate him!

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Solving a DNA-Match Mystery

If you've read my blog for a couple of years, you may remember how startled I was by my high Europe South (Italian/Greece) DNA results from Ancestry.com awhile back. Then, of course, the results were updated and I wasn't quite as Italian after all, but my dad stayed strongly Italian. I figured if my results refined to more Great Britain (which is much more understandable and likely), his should as well. That wasn't the case.

I figured it was just one of those mysteries that the Fuqua side held. Who knew if I'd ever figure it out?

But then I started contacting some of the closer cousin DNA matches which brought me some "new" cousins on the Truax, Wilkinson, Ferrell, Wilson, and other sides. I even convinced a guy from California that he was my Truax cousin, and what fun detective work that was last year!

What's been odd, though, is that some last names I'd hoped to find are absent from my list. And then there are a host of these Greek and Italian surnames showing up - a few as close family. Like close enough that they are in the same category as my nephew Michael. Yet...I have no idea who they are. And at least one of them has replied back that they are puzzled on their end as well as they've never been to the South...and they live in Ohio.

I've put more things together, and I think I've figured it out. My dad's sister did a DNA test recently, and when her results come in, I'm pretty sure that I will have more answers.

Unfortunately the responsible parties aren't alive to confirm anything, but with the DNA results plus my online sleuthing, I'm going to make the best scientific-and-mystery-solving guess that I can!