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

Sunday, March 31, 2024

March Books


The Book Club Hotel by Sarah Morgan -- Every year three friends spent a week in a hotel in order to connect and discuss a book. Most years they meet in the summer, but this year they postponed their gathering until December. Elaine usually chooses something in the city and definitely not cute and Christmassy so Claudia and Anna are surprised when she chooses a quaint inn in rural Vermont decked out in Christmas finery. They soon find out why, but I won't tell you here. Pretty cute story though maybe a bit too much dialog for me at times. What's funny is that this book was written by a lady living in London and though the book is mostly about American women, it's peppered with what I consider Britishisms. 

For instance one of the ladies was crying so her friend pulled out a pack of tissues. Take the "lot," she told her friend. In my experience, an American would be like "here, take them all" or "keep the whole pack." Another was talk of a bookmark being a good stocking filler rather than what I've always heard, a stocking stuffer.

Also, there is the constant lack of "that" such as a sentence like: "Now I checked Delphi is okay, I will check on the guests." Though we are known for dropping extra letters like "u" in color, neighbor, and labor, we add words like "that." (I would write that sentence more like, "Now that I checked that Delphi is okay....")

Also, someone said "reckon***." Hahaha. And "Shall we do this?" instead of the more American, "Do you want to do this?"

As the story involved the ladies going to a local book shop, there was much talk of "cookery books," too.

*** I'd give "reckon" a pass if these were Southern friends, but Northeastern ladies.... nah!

The Women by Kristin Hannah -- I enjoyed this look at the Vietnam war through the eyes of Frances "Frankie" McGrath who served two years there as a nurse. First the reader gets a glimpse of what life was like over there, and then as Frankie returned to the US where she was spat upon and flipped off, and where she struggled to survive the mental anguish that memories of Vietnam gave her.  Good story!

Just a Regular Boy by Catherine Ryan Hyde -- When Remy is five, his dad takes him to a remote property where they can mostly live off the land and be free from all that's happening in the country. All goes well (kind of, but not really because that is a strange way to live) until one night when Remy's father doesn't return from his hunting trip. Meanwhile Anne is a foster mother who loves a challenge. She wants the children most people would pass over. Good story!

Beyond That, the Sea by Laura Spence-Ash -- Scared about bombs dropping in London, Reg and Millie decide to send their eleven-year-old daughter to America to live out the war years. She lives with Ethan, Nancy and their two sons Wiliam and Gerald. Beatrix fits in age right between the boys, and she's the girl Nancy always wanted. Bea loves her new family and the experiences she has with them. Meanwhile Reg and Millie miss their girl and see her growing up through pictures and read about her adventures in letters. A good story.

Don't Look for Me by Wendy Walker -- Molly is driving home from her son's football game when her car runs out of gas just a few yards from the station. Unfortunately it's closed due to a hurricane coming through the area. When someone stops his pickup truck and offers her a ride, Molly accepts. Molly had been thinking she might just run away from her family. After all, her husband seems to prefer someone else, her daughter hates her, and her son ignored her even though she traveled several hours to see him. Pretty good.

In Bitter Chill by Sarah Ward -- Decades after two young girls went missing and one stayed missing while the other returned, the police are looking into that case again due to some recent developments. Rachel is the girl who returned, now she's a woman who looks into family histories. Connie and Sadler are detectives looking into the case. Pretty good.

First Lie Wins Ashley Elston -- Evie Porter is on assignment, cozying up to a boyfriend. Hey, he even invited her to move in with him!  Only problem is that Evie Porter doesn't exist. She's on assignment from "Mr. Smith" to infiltrate her target's world. But then things get interesting...

The Lace Widow by Mollie Ann Cox -- A bit of historical accuracy mixed with a made-up mystery involving Eliza Hamilton only a couple weeks after her husband was buried. When her son, Alexander Jr., is accused of murder, Eliza seeks information to clear her son's name. An OK book.

Overkill by Sandra Brown -- Though their marriage ended acrimoniously years ago, Rebecca never wavered from wanting Zach to make end-of-life decisions for her. Zach is stunned when his ex wife is left in a vegetative state, and he is required to decide on her fate: remove the feeding tube or keep it. Eban Clarke, the man who put Rebecca there, is up for release though an ADA informs Zach that Eban can be retried for murder if Rebecca is allowed to die. What a thought!  I really kind of hated this book, and not for this ethical dilemma; rather the ADA and Zach.

Nine Lives by Peter Swanson -- Nine people are sent lists with nine names printed on them: their own plus eight strangers. When one by one these individuals are dying, police rush to figure out the connection and why they've been targeted by a killer. Interesting story.

Die For You by Lisa Unger -- Isabel tells her husband goodbye as he's off to work, but he never comes home. When she goes by his workplace, it's ransacked and many more strange things happen. What happened to Marcus, her husband of five years?  Not my favorite of hers, but not bad.

Last Night by Luanne Rice -- Hadley is on her way to see her sister and niece during a New England blizzard, but neither is there to greet her. Maddie left a note that she had a quick meeting, but should be back soon. Hadley is concerned about Maddie and CeCe, and goes to look for them only to stumble over her sister who is lying dead in the snow. CeCe is nowhere to be seen.

Bring Me Back  by B.A. Paris -- After Finn's girlfriend disappeared, he eventually gave her up as dead and over time, met Layla's sister Ellen and asked her to marry him. But then weird things started happening as tiny Russian dolls were left on the wall outside their house, and Finn gets emails from someone asking about a cottage where he and Layla once lived.

The Fury by Alex Michaelides -- Elliot Chase is a playwright telling one final story: the story of his soulmate Lana and their last outing to her Greek island. Along with Elliot and Lana are Lana's son and husband and best friend, and, well, a murder happens.

Maybe Next Time by Cesca Major -- Emma is way too busy, and once again, she's forgotten the importance of this Monday, but she is too busy to rectify things between her and her husband Dan. When the day ends tragically, she cries herself to sleep only to wake up and have a fresh Monday where she knows what happened the day before yet no one else does. It's Groundhog Day in a book!

American Ramble: A Walk of Memory and Renewal by Neil King, Jr. -- This journalist takes a walk from his home in Washington, D.C., to New York City talking about people he met along the way and interesting sights. I tend to like books like this, though this one was a bit more boring than some. I really miss Tony Horwitz's books!  He was great!

The New Couple in 5B by Lisa Unger -- Rosie and Chad are stunned when Chad's uncle dies and leaves them his Manhattan apartment worth a small fortune, but life in this old New York City building is odd. First there is the doorman who seems to always know what is going on because the apartments have intercoms, and cameras are everywhere. Also, he's almost always on duty. A good, fast read if you like this type of book.

Oath and Honor by Liz Cheney -- A Memoir and a Warning ; I saw someone mention this book on Facebook so I decided to check it out since my library had it. I knew much of this, but I learned more about the January 6 committee and the things leading up to the insurrection. Sobering read, especially since Donald Trump, despite his numerous lies, is still so popular among many Republicans. I don't understand his appeal.  Blah.

The Murder List by Hank Phillippi Ryan -- Rachel is a law student doing a summer stint with the DA while her husband, Jack, is a defense attorney who despises the lady Rachel is working for. This makes life interesting. 

The Guest by B.A. Paris -- After seeing a teenager die after an accident, Gabriel and Iris take a trip to get away from things. When they come back to their house, they realize their Parisian friend Laure has made herself at home. It's fine; this is how close their friendship is, except Laure won't leave, and after weeks, it's a bit much. Meanwhile Iris makes friends with a new couple in town, who along with their gardener, make up most of the cast of this story. Pretty good.

Like a Mother by Mina Hardy -- After Sarah's husband Adam dies from cancer, she is stunned to meet a lady claiming to be Adam's mom. Adam always told her his parents were dead, but Candace looks like Adam and says things the same way he always did. In a desperate situation, Sarah decides to move in with Adam's mom, but finds her new residence quite odd. Pretty good.

Thursday, February 29, 2024

February Books


The Heiress by Rachel Hawkins -- When Camden gets an email from his cousin, he realizes he needs to return to the home he departed ten years ago when he fled all the baggage of family. His wife Jules is enthusiastic about her trip to see the famous (or infamous) Ashby House in the mountains of North Carolina. In between their sides of the story, we read publications about the McTavish family as well as letters written by Ruby McTavish, the heiress who adopted Cam when he was three. Pretty good.

The Mystery Guest by Nita Prose -- Once again, a story about a maid and a murder featuring the lovable, quirky Molly. When a popular author reserves the hotel tea room for an important announcement - a secret he's kept - but falls over dead before he can spit it out, the police get involved. This book deals with that plus Molly's own childhood memories of working with her Gran in Mr.Grimthorpe's house.  Cute story.

The Beach at Summerly by Beatriz Williams -- Emilia Withrop, one of the locals with a long family history in the area, is the help to the wealthy summer crowd.  Story of her and her friends Shep and Amory, and also nowadays as she lives with her sister Susana.  This is during the era when the US and Soviet Union were at odds. Pretty good.

The Fiction Writer by Jillian Cantor -- Olivia's book sales are struggling so when her agent approaches her about someone well-known wanting her to write a book for him, she takes a trip to Los Angeles to meet him.

Riding Rockets by Mike Mullane -- "the outrageous tales of a space shuttle astronaut."  This book was referenced in one of my favorite books last year about the first six women who were chosen to be astronauts in the US. They were in Mike's class, and the author of that book mentioned this one which I got for Christmas. Pretty interesting.

Wicked Redhead by Beatriz Williams -- I believe I would have enjoyed this one much more if I'd read the earlier book about Wicked City instead of starting with this one. Alas, I had this one on hand with no other library books, and decided to give it a go. Ginger is a redhead during the time of Prohibition.  She likes two brothers, one more than the other. In more current times, there is Ella who recently left her cheating husband. Meh... this one was OK.

The Outcast Girls by Shirley Dickson -- I remember reading a book or two by this author and adding a few of her other stories to my Amazon Wishlist. This is one I got for Christmas, and it's about Frieda, a German Jew who was brought to England during World War II. She meets an English girl, Sandra, who has lived a life of service. The two of them wind up on a farm helping the war effort. Pretty good.

The Lost Children by Shirley Dickson -- Twins Jacob and Molly are eight years old when their mom decides to send them to the countryside where they will be safe from Hitler's bombs. They are sent to the area I read about in the book before, and this book has some of the same characters so I'm glad to read these stories back-to-back. Another pretty good tale.

The Orphan's Secret by Shirley Dickson -- Lily leaves home to become a Lumberjill during World War II.  Her husband is serving in the war, and Lily wants to do her part. She meets Ethel, who grew up an orphan, and the two eventually become friends. When both of them realize they are expecting babies at the same time, and Ethel has nowhere to live, Lily invites Ethel to live with her until something can be decided. Pretty good story.

Five Bad Deeds by Caz Frear -- I'm back to reading library books. This one is about sisters Ellen and Kristy, and mostly Ellen's hectic household and group of friends/acquaintances.

Black Out by Lisa Unger -- Annie keeps having flashbacks to when she was a teenager who moved with her mother from New York City to Florida so her mom could pursue a relationship with a man behind bars. Although this stuff is in her past, it keeps rearing its head and life is quite frightening! 

Random in Death by J.D. Robb -- If I'm so inclined I see that I have about sixty other "futuristic thrillers" available to read in this In Death series featuring Lt. Eve Dallas and her fellow officers. In this book a couple of teenaged girls are jabbed with a needle full of a blend made to kill them within minutes. Lt. Dallas is in charge of identifying the suspect. Decent book, but I would know more about these characters if I'd read the other sixty books, no doubt. But, whew!  I did not like the teenage lingo throughout the book.

The Therapist by B.A. Paris -- When Leo suggests he and Alice move in together, he finds a house in London behind a gate where Alice believes she will be able to make quick friends. When she learns from a private investigator that something terrible happened at the house where she now lives, she decides to ask the neighbors in order to learn more about the therapist who lived at house #6 in The Circle. 

One Wrong Word by Hank Phillippi Ryan -- When your reputation is in ruins, Arden Ward is who you want working for you. Only, now she's been falsely accused and given the sack yet her boss wants her to do one last job for him. Cordelia hires Arden to clean up the image of her husband who was acquitted of running over someone yet the moms at school still give Cordelia the cold shoulder. Pretty good story.

The Disappearing Act by Catherine Steadman -- A British actor comes to Los Angeles to audition for several roles. At one casting, she meets Emily who gives her her wallet and keys to top off the car meter, then disappears. While juggling reading scripts and auditioning, Mia wonders what happened to Emily and decides to search for her. Pretty good. 

The Eden Test by Adam Sternbergh -- It's their third anniversary, and Craig is ready to leave his wife after a quick meal. He's got plans with another woman, yet Daisy surprises him by not being at home and instead giving him instructions to meet her at a cabin in upstate New York. He does, and instead of a quick meal and goodbye, Daisy tells him she's booked the place for a week and it's some kind of couples retreat... so weird.

The Bones of the Story by Carol Goodman -- Nell is a dean of the college she attended, and she's busy preparing for a big event complete with most of her friends from back then.  When a snowstorm traps most of her peers together, strange things happen including a murder or two. An OK book.

Keep Your Friends Close by Leah Konen -- While going through a separation from her husband, Mary is looking for housing, a preschool for her son Alex, and a job in a new area. One day she happens upon Willa, a friend she'd made who ghosted her. Only when she confronts Willa, she acts like Mary is a stranger. What is going on?  Pretty good.

The Woman from Lydia by Angela Hunt -- Book one in The Emissaries this told the story of Euodia, a supporter of Paul's ministry as he told the good news of Jesus Christ. In this book she and a couple servants travel to various cities along the Via Egnatia in search of a girl, Sabina. I rather like this quote at the front of the book:

"If a man gets lost in the mountains, hundreds will search and often two or three searchers are killed. But the next time somebody gets lost just as many volunteers turn out. Poor arithmetic, but very human. It runs through all our folklore, all human religions, all our literature - a racial conviction that when one human needs rescue, others should not count the price."  -- Robert A. Heinlein

Two Dead Wives by Adele Parks -- This was a sequel to an earlier book: I knew some of this sounded familiar, but I really didn't remember what all transpired in the first book. Still, in this book Kylie is missing presumed dead by her former BFF who pushed her over the cliff. What? Yeah, and Daan and Mark are out a wife since Kylie was married to them both. Kind of.

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Itchy Boots Season 6 Notes Finished (Mexico to Alaska)


See the first part of Season 6, here

August 12, 2023

watched episodes 84-86 which take place in Mexico

Pretty mountain roads, tunnels under the streets and cool temples.

August 26

watched episodes 87-88 which take place in Mexico

Red dunes, the gorge, and mountains

September 4

watched episodes 89-90 which take place in Mexico

I love her reference to being too Dutch re: time when the parking lot is supposed to open at 8 in the morning, and she's still waiting several minutes later.

September 5

watched episodes 91-92 which take place in Mexico

Noraly visited people who lived in a cave, I laughed at the escape dog when she was trying to leave the guesthouse, and enjoyed learning about the zone of silence.

September 8

watched episodes 93-94 which take place in Mexico

Riding through Copper Canyon, cartel area, which had some lovely mountain views and friendly people in the towns.

September 23

watched episodes 95-97 which take place in Mexico

Ferry ride to Baja California and riding in the desert

October 7

watched episodes 98-99 which take place in Mexico

October 8

watched episodes 100-101 which take place in Mexico and USA

Border crossing and riding through the desert in California; I like that one of the border guards recognized her; he said his father in law watches [her] all the time!

October 20

watched episodes 102-104 which take place in USA (California, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah)

It was funny seeing her riding with the train; she comments on the long trains, big cars and roads and portions; Noraly rode through Las Vegas; Later she was hurt on a steep hill so Ed from C90 adventures picked her and Alaska up and took them to his house in Moab, Utah, so she could recover for a few days.

November 7

watched episode 105-107 which take place in USA (Utah and Colorado)

She went in a side by side with Ed mostly in Moab while her ankle healed

November 16

watched episodes 108-110 which take place in USA (Colorado)

November 27

watched episodes 111-113 which take place in USA (Colorado and Wyoming)

She visited a town called Nederland where she found out about the Frozen Dead Guy Festival and told that story; she was surprised by a snow storm.  In Wyoming, she loved seeing bison.

December 5

watched episodes 114-116 which take place in the US (Wyoming and Montana)

Great look at the Tetons and part of Yellowstone

December 8

watched episodes 117-119 which take place in the US (Montana and Idaho)

Here Noraly met Roger with his chain saw

December 11

watched episodes 120-122 which take place in the US (Idaho) and Canada

Noraly crosses from the US into Canada (Creston) and sees the glaciers

December 12

watched episodes 123-124 which take place in Canada

Noraly visited some indigenous people and saw buildings dealing with the fur trade. She was also part of chicken and duck races - ha.

December 14

watched episodes 125-127 which take place in Canada

Noraly visited Haida Gwaii islands and did some beach hiking

December 18

watched episodes 128-129 which take place in Canada

Boat tour of Haida Gwaii islands: totems, sea creatures, hot springs.

December 19

watched episodes 130-131 which take place in Canada and the US (Alaska)

First Nations; Hyderized; ice sea and glacier


January 1

watched episodes 132-133 which take place in Canada

She went to a remote area of British Columbia with pretty views

January 5

watched episodes 134-136 which take place in Canada and the United States (Alaska)

Noraly visited the Red Onion brothel, took a ferry to Haines (I've read books from a lady who lives there), and she commented on motorhomes she saw along the way.

January 16

watched episodes 137-139 which take place in Canada

I enjoyed the silver trail museum, learning about the gold trail, Klondike River and Bonanza Creek. Meeting some of the people who work in that area including a family and a twenty-year old miner; even Noraly panned for gold. Whew, there are some huge mosquitos there!

January 19

watched episodes 140-141 which take place in Canada and the US

She followed a tradition of blowing up her panties, and found a British motorcycle gang who helped with a fork seal.

February 9

watched episodes 142-144 which take place in the US (Alaska)

Great tour of an abandoned copper mine and walk on a glacier. Met Bill the mechanic.

February 12

watched episodes 145-147 which take place in the US (Alaska)

Noraly stayed with Bill and wife, toured Cabela's and was amazed by all the stuffed animals and guns

February 20

watched episodes 148 and the first part of The Movie which take place in the US (Alaska) and recap her adventure

February 21

watched the rest of The Movie which is a recap of her adventure plus her plunge into Prudhoe Bay, Alaska ; great season!

A reminder about this journey to Alaska:

At the end of the movie, Noraly mentions that she started her journey on October 1, 2019 and ended it on August 11, 2022 when she reached the Arctic Ocean. (Remember that her journey was interrupted due to the covid-19 pandemic). She traveled 65,000 kilometers and went through 18 countries.

See more about my Itchy Boots watching, here.

Thursday, February 1, 2024

Itchy Boots Season 7: Benin to the Central African Republic


Not terribly long after Noraly's break from Africa in which she traveled a bit more and managed to break a bone in her hand, she was back posting her twice-weekly videos. She started in Benin where her motorcycle Alaska had been waiting all these weeks. Noraly acknowledged that she'd left Alaska longer than she had wanted, and it wasn't a good idea to leave a bike that long. She showed where rust had formed on Alaska because the bike had been left in a humid climate. Thankfully she was able to get most of that off, and told us Alaska started immediately!  That bike took her through parts of South and Central America, and from Mexico up to Alaska before Noraly shipped her to Spain for this adventure in Africa. So, Alaska has been through a lot. In her recent (January 2024) newsletter/email Noraly said she was looking for a new bike for when she starts a new trip later this year.

In the meantime, Morocco and West Africa has morphed to Return to Africa on her YouTube channel. Here's the last couple of months!

December 3, 6, 10, 13, 17, 20, 24, 27, 31

We watched episodes 61-69 which were in Benin, Nigeria, and Cameroon

In these videos, she got a huge stack of money when she traded in her dollars and CFAs as the Nigerian money "is not doing well."  She started this return with a Live Chat with other subscribers (our first time joining a live chat). She noted few helmets were used in the part of Nigeria she was in which was strange since they had been required in Benin. Nigeria had so many checkpoints, many of which were sketchy so she didn't stop for them unless they seemed official, or it was just not possible to continue.  The locals used tree branches to block parts of the road.  In one episode she crossed the Niger River in a ferry. Nigerians on YouTube and Facebook said they use a bridge and didn't know you could ferry across. Also, some Nigerians wondered why she used these terrible roads instead of the main roads.  (She likes backroads usually so she might have chosen them instead of ones she thought were busier. Then again, her GPS might have taken her along these routes.)   One interesting thing to me (ep. 63) was seeing the locals dry the grain by placing it on the streets.

Noraly went to the capital Abuja to sort her visa to Cameroon. She seemed to really like this capital as she said it was laid-back, and not like those she's typically encountered. She also seemed to enjoy having running water and electricity. I think she stayed there a few days to do some work and rest up as she seemed better-rested when the videos resumed.

Episodes 65 and 66 were my favorite in Nigeria as the mountains were so pretty, the locals were friendly and she interacted with them more (or showed it more than some past videos where she just struggled to ride the bike on muddy roads.)   (Note: my mom grew up in Nigeria and her youngest brother was born there so my mom would point out things that were familiar to her. She said this mountainous region was similar to where she attended boarding school at Kent Academy.)

In episode 67 Noraly made it into Cameroon. She noted that she used this particular border crossing because other crossings were closed to foreigners due to rebel activity.  In Cameroon she has done more sightseeing which I enjoy. She admitted skipping this in Nigeria because of security issues in that country.  She visited a snake and spider museum and got instructed on how they make bronze statues.  She also visited a waterfall that was gushing water after many recent rains. We got tickled at the local who said the lake area directions. Something like "take this bad road, and the next bad road and then..."  And, yeah, there were some bad roads, but that lake area was gorgeous!


January 3, 7, 10, 14, 17, 21, 24, 28, 31

We watched episodes 70-78 which were in Cameroon and the Central African Republic

Such muddy, horribly rutted roads! Noraly dropped her bike, lost a mirror and half her windshield in Cameroon, but met kind people who helped her along the way. I enjoyed seeing the sunset at the beach and her night-time turtle patrol (ep. 72.)

In episode 73, I loved the church ladies singing in the road and Noraly's time in the capital. Yay for pizza! Also notable was her search for petrol and those huge rain drops!

Loved her riding with the cattle and something notable were those toll detours (ep. 74).

I loved the military guys taking pictures with Alaska at the border of Cameroon and CAR. Yikes, a broken start button and quickly approaching nightfall: thank goodness she stopped and found shelter with the villagers. Really great episodes in CAR! (see #75-76)

Forest elephants at their mineral-rich watering hole. Noraly counted over 100 of them! So pretty! Then in the next video, we see western lowland gorillas in the wild - fascinating!  I love the people.  (ep. 77-78).

One of my favorites (paraphrased)... When Noraly was walking down the path to see the elephants, she noted footprints several times. 

She asked her guides: Do you ever see elephants when you are on the paths.

Uh, yeaaah...

What do you do?

Hide behind a tree.

Love that.

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

January Books


A Circle of Wives by Alice LaPlante -- I started this last week when Zach and Sophie were visiting a few days after Christmas, but we were so busy that I didn't take much time for reading. Thus I finished it this first day of 2024. When Dr. John Taylor turns up dead in a hotel room, Samantha is assigned to the case involving John's legal wife plus two other wives who knew nothing about being part of this bigamous (or trigamous) case. Wild! Pretty good.

Tumbleweed: Six Months Living on Mir by Shannon Lucid -- One of the best books I read last year was about the first six women astronauts in the U.S.'s space program. In the back of the book the author mentioned some books she read to learn more about these women. This book was one of them, and I got it for Christmas. I enjoyed learning about the author's year living in Russia as she trained for her voyage with the two Yuris. It was interesting reading about the mission as well - how she talked to folks back home, the food they ate, their exercising, how they got along with each other. Neat book!

Sally Ride: America's First Woman in Space by Lynn Sherr -- Interesting biography written after Sally's death from cancer. The author was not only a journalist, but a friend. Still, a few things she learned only after Sally died. This covers some of her childhood, college years, her playing tennis, her lovers and brief marriage, her applying to NASA, some training and years later when she taught physics in California and wrote books with her partner Tam O'Shaughnessy whom she'd met years ago when they both played tennis. Pretty good.

The Engagement Party by Darby Kane -- A library book came in so I'm back to reading mystery/thrillers. This one is the reunion of college friends who really don't want to be together yet meet up for Will and Ruthie's engagement party at a hard-to-access beach house. When a body is discovered and other strange things happen, the couples wonder if this has more to do with their past, when a friend was killed on graduation day.

Mother-Daughter Murder Night by Nina Simon -- Three generations of females - Lana, Beth, and Jack - come together to help solve a mystery after Jack finds a dead person while on a kayaking tour (her job.)  Pretty cute story.

Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Lord by Celeste Connally -- A mystery featuring Lady Petra who is disbelieving when she finds a friend died and was buried without her knowledge. Then when a footman tells her that he saw her friend - after she was supposed to be dead and gone - Petra investigates to see what in the world is going on in her privileged world.

Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante -- Told from the point of view of Dr. Jennifer White as she struggles with early-onset Alzheimer's.  Well, she's 65 so that's not early-early since some folks get it in their forties, but it seemed young-ish to me.

The Golden Spoon by Jessa Maxwell -- Cute book about a baking competition that turns ugly. Six contestants meet at a manor in the woods of Vermont, but weird stuff happens and someone ends up dead.

The Frozen River by Ariel Lawhon -- Great story inspired by the life and diary of Martha Ballard, a midwife in Maine, 1789. Enjoyed this one!

Necessary People by Anna Pitoniak -- Stella and Violet meet in college. Stella who has had an easy life, and Violet who has not. When Violet finally starts making her way in the TV news world, Stella's jealousy leads her to get a job at the same station. Can these best friends handle this new complexity? They already share an apartment in New York City. 

Lie Beside Me by Glytha Lodge -- I'm continuing the series featuring London police officers, Jonah, Juliette, Ben, Domnall, and the gang. In this book Lousie wakes up after being so drunk that she can't remember the night before. The trouble is there is a dead man in her bed. She has no idea who he is and why he is there. What a mystery for the police to solve!

The Stranger Inside by Lisa Unger -- Rain Winter is a journalist currently staying at home with her young daughter. When a crime is committed, Rain is immediately wanting to investigate because it's a story she covered. This is told in the voices of Rain and her childhood friend Hank, both of whom were in a terrible situation that left them scarred for life. Decent story.

The Resemblance by Lauren Nossett -- Last year I read book two in this series featuring Marlitt Kaplan, a detective in Athens, Georgia, and I wanted to read this book to find out her backstory which was hinted at in book two. While visiting her mom on the UGA campus, Marlitt is one of the first upon a hit-and-run involving a student who is part of a Greek society. She and her partner Teddy investigate Kap-O, and find out more about this society. 

The Breakdown by B. A. Paris -- Cass is out for the summer holiday, and on her way home from a teachers' night out when she takes the shortcut through the woods and sees a lady sitting in her car. The next morning she hears about a woman being murdered and realizes that was the woman she saw!  Struggling with this situation and the fact she keeps forgetting - does she have early-onset dementia as her mom did? - Cass reaches out to her husband Matthew and her best friend Rachel for help. But her problems get worse.

Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman -- Erin and Mark are British newlyweds on a trip to Bora Bora when they discover something on a diving trip that could change their lives. Do they turn it in or keep it for themselves?

The Legacy of Longdale Manor by Carrie Turansky -- Catherine and her mom and sister are horrified when they lose their home after the untimely death of their father and husband. While Catherine's mom tries to mend fences with her father so they'll have a place to live, the family lives with her mom's childhood friend on a sheep farm. Meanwhile, in more current times, Gwen is tasked with pricing art and other pieces for an auction at Longdale Manor. Pretty good story.  

Little Sister by Gytha Lodge -- I started reading this series around book five so I decided to start at the beginning and I've finally read all of the Jonah Sheens and Company series. This one is Keely telling her story of abuse at the hands of foster care parents and workers. The team isn't quite sure what to believe, and they are trying to locate Keely's younger sister, Nina, whom they think Keely has harmed. 

Good Company by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney -- Flora and Julian are both actors as well as Flora's best friend Margot. One day while looking for a favorite photo, Flora happens upon the wedding ring her husband claimed to lose while swimming in a pond many years ago. What's up with that? As Flora learns more about the past, she has to come to terms with secrets and forgive - if she chooses to.

The Berry Pickers by Amanda Peters -- Great story about a Mi'kmaq family from Nova Scotia who traveled each summer to Maine in order to pick blueberries. One summer the littlest child went missing. This book is told from the perspectives of Joe, the next-oldest child who was the last to see his little sister, and Norma, the young woman who grew up in an overly-protective family. Really enjoyed this one more than I expected, and I think the cover is pretty.

On Moonberry Lake by Holly Varni -- After her mother's death, Cora returns to Moonberry Lake where she inherits her grandparents' lodge - a place she loved to live until she was seven years old when suddenly and inexplicably her mother took her away from her extended family. A stipulation to inheriting the property is that she has to live there a year so Cora sets about to restore the lodge to its former glory. With the help of longtime friend Sam, and Widgy, the repairwoman who never washes her coffee pot because each layer of old coffee "seasons" the pot, Cora follows her dream of restoring her grandparents' home.  A bit predictable, yes, but a cute story with interesting and lovable characters.

Sunday, December 31, 2023

December Books

Happy last day of the year! Hope next year is a good one for you! 



In the Blood by Lisa Unger -- Lana comes from a troubled family to put it mildly. Her dad is on death row after being convicted of murdering his wife. Lana has spells where she can't remember what happened. As her college studies wind down she takes a job helping a single mother care for her eleven year old son who has ... issues. He's part of a school that specializes in helping troubled children. Pretty good story.

From a Far and Lovely Country by Alexander McCall Smith -- another adventure featuring Precious Ramotswe and the loveable cast of characters that make this series worth reading - even if the plots are rather bland compared to other books. I enjoy these trips to Botswana through these characters!

The End of Her by Shari Lapena -- Stephanie and Patrick are exhausted parents of twin girls with colic. One day a beautiful woman from Patrick's past comes into his workplace under the pretense of applying for a job. Patrick is stunned at the request and claim Erica has, and Erica seeks to tell Stephanie about her husband's past. Is Patrick telling Stephanie the truth? Should she be wary of him?

A Killer in the Family by Gytha Lodge -- I feel like this is part of a series that I walked into, but it was stand-alone enough to be pretty interesting. It takes place in England with a lot of Irish names thrown in. News of the Bonfire Killer spreads and unfortunately the DNA matches someone in Aisling's family. Her dad left the family when she was a child - could he be the killer setting women (and a mare) on fire?

Nineteen Steps by Millie Bobby Brown -- Nellie lives with her close knit family in the East End of London where they use their tube station at Bethnal Green as a shelter when the Nazis bomb their area. The mayor wants to improve the entrance to the station because someone reported how dangerous it could be based on the steep stairs, very low lighting, and other things.

A Twisted Love Story by Samantha Downing -- Ivy and Wes have the weirdest on-and-off relationship, but they seem to thrive in it. Things are ok until Detective Karen decides to look into both of their pasts. OK book.

American Princess by Stephanie Marie Thornton -- an interesting story about Alice Roosevelt, the oldest child of President Theodore Roosevelt

She Lies In Wait by Gytha Lodge -- I had walked into the midst of a series (see book above by same author) so I decided to start with book one in order to properly "meet" these English detectives, Jonah, Juliette, Ben, and the gang. When bones are found at a campground Jonah remembers three decades ago when Aurora, a fourteen year old, went missing. Soon the team is trying to solve the mystery of her disappearance that night. 

Someone We Know by Shari Lapena -- Olivia is worried about her son who has been a good kid up until he confesses to breaking into houses to look at people's computers. Meanwhile something more troubling happens in the neighborhood when a missing lady is found in a car that was driven into a lake. Fast-paced mystery!

The Night Before by Wendy Walker -- Laura has had a tough time meeting the right guy, and when she finds a promising match on a dating app, her sister is excited for her - but wary, too. When Laura doesn't return from her date, Rosie and her husband Joe and their best friend Greg help retrace Laura's steps.

I Heard a Fly Buzz When I Died by Amanda Flower -- This is "an Emily Dickinson mystery" featuring Emily and her family, friends, and peers, but told from the perspective of Willa, the family's maid and a sort of companion to Emily.  Pretty good.

The Other Mothers by Katherine Faulkner -- Tash's son has struggled fitting into playgroup so Tash is happy when Laura and the gang of "perfect" moms invites her to join them. Meanwhile Tash is also investigating the death of a nanny who had ties to the playgroup her son attends. Pretty good. 

Good Girls Lie by J.T. Ellison -- After her parents are killed, Ash moves from Oxford, England, to attend a private all-girls school in Virginia where bad things still happen to those close to her. Is she part of the problem or does she just have really bad luck?

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena  --  Anne and Marco are at a birthday dinner next door when their daughter disappears. What happened to baby Cora between the time Marco checked on her and they came home for the evening?

Greenwich Park by Katherine Faulkner -- Helen is attending her prenatal class alone - husband out of town again - when she meets Rachel, a vivacious young lady who drinks and smokes and laughs just a little too loudly. Rachel keeps popping up everywhere so she and Helen hang out. Things are ok, but not great. Then Rachel vanishes.  Pretty good.

The Professor by Lauren Nossett -- Now that she's lost her job as a detective, Marlitt has all the time in the world to help her mother's friend, a professor who is being investigated because her student died under suspicious circumstances. Meanwhile we learn some of the background of the professor, a German-Turkish lady who is teaching German at the University of Georgia.

Watching From the Dark by Gytha Lodge -- Another in the series I started earlier this month. When Aidan is waiting for his Skype call with Zoe, he believes he witnesses her murder.  Though he can't see anything, he hears things. Yet he's reluctant to call the police due to things he wants to keep secret.  A lovely book to read on Christmas Eve, right? 

An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena -- Guests are looking forward to a wonderful stay at a quaint hotel, but when a storm turns into an icy mess leaving them without power, they are dismayed. Especially when someone winds up dead - a murder? Maybe!  Another good one to read at Christmas!

Strange Sally Diamond by Liz Nugent -- When Sally's father dies and she quite literally follows his instructions about taking him out to the trash, the town realizes "weird" Sally Diamond is as strange as they thought. This book explores Sally's bluntness, her inability to fit into "normal" life,  her past, and the story of Peter and his father, a dentist in Ireland, who fled with his son to New Zealand when a burglar made quite a discovery. Interesting story and characters!

Thursday, November 30, 2023

November Books


The Leftover Woman by Jean Kwok -- I was ready to put this book aside as it took a bit to get into, but it ended up being pretty good.  Jasmine left her family in China to come to the Beautiful Country where she found a job working in an Asian strip club. She doesn't want to work there, but has an enormous sum to repay. Additionally, she seeks to avoid the husband she fled. Meanwhile Rebecca is trying to land an author for her publishing job while balancing life as a mom and wife. Their live-in nanny from China is there to make their adopted daughter Fifi more in touch with her native culture.

A Million Little Choices by Tamera Alexander -- When Claire's big-wig lawyer husband accepts a partnership in another state, she's angry that their lives will be uprooted without much input from her. Their marriage is already shaky because of a friendship he had that turned a little too chummy.  After they relocate to Atlanta, Claire discovers something in her big, new house that makes her popular among the historical society. She reads about the former owners of this house which was quite interesting.

The Guest Room by Tasha Sylva -- This book was OK. After her sister Rosie was found dead, Tess moves into her flat, and rents out a room as an AirBnB. She has a bad habit of going through her guests' belongings, and when a longer-term guest Arran comes to stay, she starts reading his diary.

Gone Tonight  by Sarah Pekkanen -- Ruth has been on the run since she was a pregnant teenager full of secrets as she ran away from home. Catherine is a few weeks away from her move to the Baltimore area to begin a new job and classes when her mom's diagnosis causes her to put her plans on hold. But then Catherine is puzzled when she realizes her mom's deception: about her possible disease, her upbringing, so many things. Why is her mom lying to her?

The Traitor Beside Her by Mary Anna Evans -- This is one of those books that I think I'd like better if I read the previous books because even though it doesn't say it's part of a series, I noticed another book that seemed like it would explain Justine Byrne and her friends Georgette, Paul, and Jerry. More of the backstory. Instead I was plopped into this event with them all working as spies to varying degrees. Justine is trying to figure out who in her department is selling information to the Axis powers. Decent book.

Stay Awake by Megan Goldin -- Everytime Liv wakes up she forgets things. The last thing she recalls, she was at work when she got a phone call. After that...nothing.  Her best friend and boyfriend aren't at their apartments or answering their phones, apparently she doesn't even live at the apartment she remembers. What happened? 

The Caretaker by Ron Rash -- Blackburn Gant is the caretaker of a cemetery near Blowing Rock, NC. When his best friend Jacob gets drafted and heads to Korea, Jacob asks Blackburn to look after his wife Naomi as she's expecting their first child. Jacob's parents refused since Jacob and Naomi eloped and they were angry about it. Good story.

A Small Affair by Flora Collins -- Vera meets a super-rich guy on a dating app only to ditch him after three dates. Then something terrible happens and many blame her. She loses her job and reputation. Later she tries to figure out what exactly happened. An OK book. 

Against the Wind by Amanda Cabot -- book two in the Secrets of Sweetwater Crossing series; Josh is on a quest to improve his grandfather's store based in New York, but he finds himself laid up in Texas for several weeks after his horse throws him. Meanwhile Louisa is back in her home community with hopes of being the next midwife and doctor. 

The Year of Jubilee by Cindy Morgan -- Grace is a young teenager who struggles to fit in school. When her brother Isaac goes away for treatment, her Aunt June stays with Grace and her sister. Good story.

The Book Spy by Alan Hlad -- Maria Alves is a "microfilm expert" working in New York, but she wants to be part of the team sent to Europe to gather Axis publications, microfilm those to be sent back for scrutiny.  Meanwhile Tiago is a Portuguese bookseller who is doing his part to help Jewish refugees. Pretty good.

The Other Princess by Denny S. Bryce -- A novel of Queen Victoria's goddaughter, Aina who was given the name Sarah Forbes Bonnetta. She was a kidnapped African princess given to Captain Forbes as a gift for Queen Victoria. Interesting story!  Here is a YouTube video about her.

Christmas Presents by Lisa Unger -- A novella that I read in an afternoon as I sat outside enjoying the sun. Madeline runs a bookstore and as she wraps a book for someone's Christmas gift, she learns a rather-famous true crimes podcaster is standing at her counter. Only, he's looking for her, and more specifically her side of the story of what happened in high school when Madeline's best friend died, two girls disappeared, and Madeline was left for dead. 

Walking With Sam by Andrew McCarthy -- "A father, a son, and five hundred miles across Spain;" a travel memoir documenting the author and his nineteen year old son as they walk the Camino de Santiago.

Everyone Here Is Lying by Shari Lapena -- When nine-year-old Avery goes missing, the detectives interview neighbors, parents, schoolmates and friends. It seems so many people have things to hide. Pretty good.

A Novel Proposal by Denise Hunter -- Sadie visits South Carolina one summer in order to write a romance novel. Her western series got nixed by her publisher and now she has to write romance -- but she has never had a long-term relationship and is unsure how to write about love. Meanwhile her grumpy neighbor Sam.... well, he is less-than-welcoming at first.

Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing by Matthew Perry -- I didn't watch Friends when it was a super-popular TV show, but I was alive then so I knew of the characters to varying degrees. I was saddened when Matthew Perry died a few weeks ago at age 54, and decided to check out his memoir and put it on hold at the library. It was my turn a few days ago, and I read most of it around Thanksgiving. It's a bit strange reading a memoir of someone who recently died suddenly, especially as he admits time and again of his struggles with alcohol and drugs, and how often he almost died from his addiction. He admits to checking out of a rehab place in Switzerland "needing" 1,800 milligrams of Oxy every single day...just to stay level, not to get a high, but so he wouldn't be in agony!  When he flew back to LA and told his doctor, she was like, Um no...cancer patients only get 100 milligrams; here's 30.  He immediately flew back to Switzerland on a $175,000 private jet ride so he could get his 1,800 milligrams. (see pg. 86). One thing Matthew struggled with a lot was being accepted and being lonely. He told how he often broke up with someone because the relationship was going so well, and he knew it was too good to be true. So he wanted to break up first, before the other person could break up with him. (He did this to Julia Roberts and others.)   Throughout the book, he was that lost, lonely kid who at five years old was an Unaccompanied Minor flying from his mom's house in Canada to his father's place in Los Angeles.  He hated that feeling.  He was five years old. Someone pick up this child and take him with them, don't send him by himself. (Matthew's thoughts on the subject.) He wrote in one place that he'd spent around $7 million on rehabs, and mentioned, "I've detoxed over sixty-five times in my life - but the first was when I was twenty-six."  He said during the Friends years that he ranged from a weight of 128 pounds to 225 pounds.  "When I'm carrying weight, it's alcohol; when I'm skinny, it's pills. When I have a goatee, it's lots of pills," he stated. "By the end of season three, I was spending most of my time figuring out how to get fifty-five Vicodin a day - I had to have fifty-five every day, otherwise I'd get so sick. It was a full-time job: making calls, seeing doctors, faking migraines, finding crooked nurses who would give me what I needed."  (see pg. 121)  As he stated in the book and which I'd read online before I read his memoir, when he died people would be shocked by the news, but not surprised.  Overall this was such a sad read for me, and I pray that he is at peace now. 

I found out my sister read this memoir a few weeks before Matthew Perry died, and I, of course, read it a few weeks after.  Steph and I talked about it some while looking around Barnes & Noble the other day (Nov. 28, 2023).

Dirty Laundry by Disha Bose -- When Ciara, the Instagram influencer, is found dead, this book takes us back a few days to see what led up to her murder. Featuring Lauren and her longtime boyfriend whom she decides to ask to marry, Ciara and her family, Mishti and her husband who are Indians living in Ireland. This book was OK.

Saved by Benjamin Hall -- "a war reporter's mission to make it home;" Andrew saw this one at the library and read it. He often said, "You'd probably like this one," especially since the author went to Syria at one point, and later Ukraine.  I decided to read it before returning it to the library. Interesting story, especially the mission to get him out of Ukraine after the car he was in was hit by a bomb.

It Ends at Midnight by Harriet Tyce -- Sylvie is up for a big promotion when her best friend Tess decides they need to come clean about a lie they told twenty years ago that sent a classmate to prison. Sylvie doesn't want a black mark to hold her back from a coveted position, but eventually agrees to try to set things right with the woman they harmed. Pretty good.

The Six by Loren Grush -- This book tells the stories of the first six women who were selected by NASA to become astronauts. They include Sally Ride who was the first American woman in space, and Judy Resnik most known to me as one of the astronauts who lost her life in the Challenger explosion.  Plus I learned about four other women who made space history. Really enjoyed this one!