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

Sunday, June 30, 2024

June Books

 Daughter of Mine by Megan Miranda -- Hazel returns to Mirror Lake for her father's funeral, and is surprised to learn that he left her the house. When two cars are found near her house and brought up from the lake during a time of drought, Hazel is shocked to recognize the second one as the car her mother drove - the one she thought her mom had taken years ago when she left the family.  Pretty good story.

One Perfect Couple by Ruth Ware -- I've noticed reality TV books have become more of a thing - or maybe it's just the books I've chosen, but in this one Nico talks his scientist girlfriend Lyla into traveling with a reality TV show. Nico hopes this will jumpstart his flailing acting career, and Lyla agrees to go. They end up on some remote island in Indonesia and while the place is beautiful, taping the show is odd. They also have to deal with a terrible storm and the aftermath of that isn't good.

The Widow Spy by Megan Campisi -- A fictional account based on true events. Kate Warne is a spy for Pinkerton detectives, and she's assisting in finding the cipher Rose Greenhow, a Confederate spy, has hidden. Pretty good.

It Had to Be You by Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke -- This book revisits Laurie, Jerry, and Grace who, quite frankly, I'd forgotten about, but maybe I read about them before. There were a number of back story references that didn't really ring a bell, but maybe I just forgot those. Laurie looks into the unsolved murder of two wealthy people, a couple, who were murdered ten years before. Their twin sons were under suspicion for their murders, and they want to finally solve this.

A Mother Would Know by Amber Garza -- Valerie's adult son Hudson came to stay with her. She's been forgetting things; he needs a place to live after breaking up with his latest girlfriend. When a local woman is found dead, Valerie wonders if her son had anything to do with her death.

Night Falls on Predicament Avenue by Jaime Jo Wright -- Murders rarely happen in Shepherd, Iowa, however, the two murders on record both happened at the same house on Predicament Avenue. What's up with that? Effie (short for Euphemia) and Norah live in this town, nearly 100 years apart, and both are trying to find out what happened.

The Hunter by Tana French -- DNF ; I collected a fair bunch of names in this small Irish community, but even after 150+ pages, I couldn't get into the story enough to continue this long (over 450 pages) book.  One of the main characters is Trey, (short for Theresa) who is a fifteen year old.

Can't Look Away by Carola Lovering -- Molly and Hunter are trying for a second child which has been harder to conceive. Meanwhile Sabrina is a new person who has come to town, befriending Molly. What does Molly's former boyfriend Jake have to do with any of this?

The Wives by Simone Gorrindo -- An interesting memoir by a lady who grew up in a pacifist household who somehow ended up the wife of a soldier. The author and her husband Andrew are progressives  (she more than he) and atheists (he more than she) from California and later New York City, and end up living for several years in Columbus, Georgia, where they befriend fellow military and their wives. Although she never specifies which Unit her husband is part of, it's more "elite" than just the regular Army.  In this book she tells about their decision to join the military, friends she makes, fights they had about how things were, how Andrew changed, and so forth.

The Last Time She Saw Him by Kate White -- Soon after she sees her ex-fiancé at a friend's gathering, Jamie is found dead. Many are quick to rule it a suicide, but Kiki doesn't believe this and wants answers. Of course, she investigates!

These Tangled Threads by Sarah Loudin Thomas -- This "novel of Biltmore" includes places I've traveled to, but back about 100 years ago when Biltmore Village was a series of shops where you could order material from weavers and toys or frames from woodworkers.  Maybe you can still buy those things there in Asheville, but I usually go to the mountains to visit nature or family, and not so much for shopping so I don't know. But it was interesting reading about the flood since I do know that region is prone to flooding - the Swannanoa, French Broad, they even made a trek to Madison County, NC, looking for the person who designs such wonderful patterns.  That's basically the gist of this book - Lorna and Arthur looking for the mysterious weaver and for the girl, Gentry, who was part of the weaving school several years prior. Sounds rather boring, but it worked okay for the book, I guess!

Listen for the Lie by Amy Tintera -- Lucy leaves her home in LA to return to her roots in Texas for her grandma's 80th birthday party. Meanwhile she's dealing with the story of her best friend Savvy (short for Savannah) who was killed five years ago. Folks always suspected Lucy did it, but the police were unable to prove it. Now a true-crimes podcaster, Ben, has brought it up again.

The Keeper of Hidden Books by Madeline Martin -- This book was OK... seems a variation of many books I've read about Nazis banning and destroying books while librarians worked to save some of those books. This story takes place in Warsaw so it was interesting to read about the German occupation of that city. I took note of Zofia saying she knew her Polish history and the last time her country was occupied, it was for 123 years!  Meanwhile Janina is her best friend, a Jewish lady who is forced to live in the ghetto.

Between Two Trailers by J. Dana Trent -- A memoir of a lady who grew up in Indiana and North Carolina in a family full of drugs, mental illnesses, and interesting characters. The author is now a minister and teaches at a community college in Wake County, NC.

Lethally Blond by Kate White -- Another Bailey Weggins mystery; this time Bailey is asked to help locate a missing actor, the friend of her former love interest, Chris. Bailey makes a gruesome discovery in upstate New York, and tries to find out what happened to Tom.

The Call to Serve: the Life of an American President by Jon Meacham -- Apparently the text of this book is taken from another book this author wrote about George Herbert Walker Bush, but he incorporated those words into this book which is mostly pictures, and, therefore, a pretty fast read for me. The text is interesting and the captions as well.  Really enjoyed this book I found at the library last week. 

Stuff I shared in a private group about this book:

I was at the library with Andrew recently, and saw this book about the life of George HW Bush which was full of big pictures and some text. I decided to check it out, and this morning I read through about half of it. Since a lot of it is pictures, you can make good progress. 😉
Anyway, his family often called him Poppy, he even signed letters home from the military this way, and Barbara referred to him as Poppy in a letter shared in the book.
He had one older brother who was named for their father, Prescott, so George was named for his mom's father who was named George Herbert Walker. (She was Dorothy Walker.)
George the grandpa was known as Pop, so George Herbert Walker Bush (the future 41st president) was nicknamed Poppy or Little Pop.
I read the letter he wrote home to his parents when he had to parachute out of the plane he was flying in World War II, and it was fascinating. Sadly, the two men with him died, and their deaths stayed with him throughout his life. He floated in his raft for over 3 hours until a submarine picked him up. It was cool reading the caption about that. A seaman swam out to get him, and they took him on board. He was a bit bored on the sub so he took over the job of censoring the letters servicemen wrote. The book noted that Bush had a privileged life, and reading these letters gave him a perspective of "ordinary" people.
Interesting to me, too, is that the navy sent him to Chapel Hill, NC, for part of his training. I think it was the course to become a pilot.
I shed a tear or two when I read about his daughter Robin's months-long battle with leukemia. I think she survived 8 or 10 months after the diagnosis; she was three and their second child (first was Bush 43 who said he believes he developed his wittiness and penchant for trying to lighten up heavy moments at that time in order to cheer up his mom during those dark times.) They said the physician was usually upbeat, but she was misty-eyed when she gave the family the diagnosis in Texas. Robin was sent to the north for treatment, but it didn't work. I doubt they had as good treatments then as they do now.
By the way, Robin was named for Barbara Bush's mom Pauline Robinson Pierce.

An Appalachian Summer by Ann H. Gabhart -- When Piper learns about the frontier nursing service in the mountains of Kentucky, she decides to spend her summer as a courier to the nurses who treat folks living in Appalachia. This, instead of attending parties, dances, teas, and dates during her debut season. Meanwhile will Braxton Crandall wait for her return? And what about her buddy Jamie? 

One Way Back by Christine Blasey Ford -- A look at the woman who came forward to share her experience with a Supreme Court nominee who is now a justice. A quick read. 

A Very Inconvenient Scandal by Jacquelyn Mitchard -- Frankie returns home to Cape Cod thinking there is a family emergency only to find the reason she was summoned is that her father is getting married again... in like a few days. Frankie's mom died suddenly several months back, and Mack just can't live without an adoring woman except this time, it's someone that makes Frankie cringe. This book was possibly better than ^ that sounded. I like reading about Frankie's job as a photographer - one who seeks to take pictures of aquatic life. So cool! 

Friday, May 31, 2024

May Books


After Annie by Anna Quindlen -- A young family and woman struggle with the sudden death of their wife and mother and best friend. Told mostly through the eyes of Ali, the first born who is thirteen when her mom dies; Bill, Annie's husband, and Annemarie, the BFF whom Annie saved, and who needs saving still. 

The Wild Side by Fern Michaels -- This book was a little too perfect for the main character, Melanie, but it was a cute read as she is a pretty neat lady. After her time with the Office of Special Investigations, Melanie goes back to school in order to become a school guidance counselor. Pretty cute.

The Exvangelicals by Sarah McCammon -- "Loving, Living, and Leaving the White Evangelical Church"; I am familiar with this author from hearing her reports on NPR, and when I saw that she grew up in a conservative evangelical household, I decided to read this library book. I could relate to many things she said: the songs she heard growing up, the teachings, so many things. I couldn't relate to the leaving part exactly though I understand why she did. I could very much relate to chapter 7 about whose character matters.  Towards the end of the book, she mentions Rachel Held Evans and I found it interesting that I was reading about Rachel on the 5 year anniversary of her death (May 4) - which Facebook posts reminded me of.  I used to enjoy Rachel's books, and was saddened by her sudden death when she was 37.

The Coworker by Freida McFadden -- Natalie and Dawn have cubicles nearby at work. While Dawn seeks to befriend Natalie, it seems Natalie is intent on bullying Dawn for her oddities. This book follows a series of emails from Dawn to her best friend Mia, as well as Natalie in present time seeking to find Dawn when she doesn't show up for work. Pretty good story.

Finding Margaret Fuller by Allison Pataki -- A pretty interesting way to learn more about this woman who challenged the status quo and made an impact on women's rights, among other things.

The Mystery Writer by Sulair Gentill -- Gus and Theo are Australian-raised siblings living in Kansas of all places. Theo (short for Theodosia) quit law school in order to write novels, and meets a famous author at a local coffee shop. When something happens to her friend, she strives to find justice. An OK book.

The Child by Fiona Barton -- When a newborn's skeleton is found during a construction project, reporter Kate Waters decides to investigate. Meanwhile Emma and Angela are convinced that it was her child who was found. Pretty good.

'Til Death Do Us Part by Kate White -- Bailey Weggins writes true crime stories for a magazine so when an acquaintance calls with her fear of possibly being targeted, Bailey agrees to look into the cases of two bridesmaids' mysterious deaths. Another in this series that I decided to read because, why not?

Still See You Everywhere by Lisa Gardner -- I haven't read anything from this author in awhile, but recognize Frankie whose speciality is finding missing people especially the cold cases. When Frankie is contacted by the Beautiful Butcher, a death row inmate, she finds herself on a private island near Hawaii looking for a woman who disappeared when she was five years old. Frankie is getting used to camp life on this atoll filled with crabs and an interesting bunch of people when she learns the death row inmate has now escaped, and Frankie feels she's on her way to rescue her sister for herself.

The Lost Book of Bonn by Brianna Labuskes -- This book followed the stories of Annelise and Christina, sisters on opposite sides of the Hitler Youth movement - for awhile at least, and a few years later when Emmy, an American librarian travels to Germany to sort books stolen by the Nazis. This book was just OK.

Even though the storylines in this book weren't the most interesting to me, I did enjoy an exchange on page 99 when Eitan, a Jewish friend, explained to Annelise why he liked poetry best. Besides enjoying the way "poets play with language," he said "most of all I like that it's how we used to tell stories. ... In ancient times, ... most people couldn't read or write, ... instead, stories were mostly spoken so the words had to flow and rhyme and repeat to make them easier to remember. ... For the longest time, poems are how we told the story of humanity."   Annelise realized this was "like songs" and why she could remember those better than anything else she tried to memorize. This helped me understand why the Psalms (poems I actually like) repeat things so often.

Another interesting exchange started on page 191 where Lucy, a Jewish lady, told Emmy how "We're very big on forgiveness, ... But only if it's earned. Teshuva is the process of repenting for the hurt you caused someone else. If you're sincere, the injured party can forgive you, which brings both people closer to God's divinity."

The Foxhole Victory Tour by Amy Lynn Green -- Maggie and Catherine are among a handful of performers chosen to travel with the USO in order to spread some cheer to American troops fighting the evil Germans. First stop: North Africa. Really enjoyed these characters and this story. 

The Inmate by Freida McFadden -- Brooke returns to her hometown and takes a job as a nurse practitioner at the prison where her first boyfriend was incarcerated after her testimony put him behind bars. Awkward. Meanwhile her son attends school where her best friend Tim is the assistant principal. Pretty good.

A Deadly Thaw by Sarah Ward -- Second in the DC Childs series; I read the first book, but the library didn't have any others. I put them on my Amazon Wishlist and got three more for my birthday. In this book, a body is found of someone who recently died only he was identified by his wife in a murder over a decade ago. Why did she lie about the identity of her husband back then? Who is the guy who was killed earlier? Now Lena is missing, and her sister Kat is trying to figure out what's going on. The police are, too.

A Patient Fury by Sarah Ward -- Another DC Childs book. In this one Julia and George's father, stepmother and young half-brother are murdered one night. The police mostly decide it was a murder-suicide while DC Connie Childs wants to pursue another possibility which gets her in trouble with her boss. Interesting tale!

The Shrouded Path by Sarah Ward -- The final DC Childs book that I have; maybe the last in the series...I don't know. The police are investigating a couple of unattended deaths that could be suspicious. They aren't sure. But then an elderly lady dies in the hospital rather abruptly which gets the detectives looking for connections. Mina is wondering why her mother was agitated before her death, and why she talked about seeing Valerie and the Cutting. 

A Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena -- Tom comes home one night to find his wife missing. Later he finds out she's been in an accident; she'll be OK, but her memory has failed for now. Meanwhile a detective investigates a murder that took place and comes calling on Karen to see if she knows anything. Pretty good. 

The Split by Kit Frick -- On a stormy night in Connecticut, Jane takes a phone call from her younger sister Esme about Jane picking up Esme in New York City. Jane has trauma from an accident she drove through as a teen so she hesitates. One chapter deals with Jane having picked up her often troubled sister, and another deals with her not having gone that night, but having Esme missing. Each chapter delves into Gone or Home scenarios. Pretty good if you like this sort of thing. 

Bye, Baby by Carola Lovering -- Cassie is a new mom, an influencer on Instagram, and Billie misses her best friend! During a birthday party, Billie ends up with Cassie's little girl, and well, this was pretty good if you enjoy these types of books.

The Favorite Daughter by Kaira Rouda -- Jane is a mother coming out of her "complicated grief" after the supposed accidental death of her older daughter Mary. As the family marks one year since her death plus the upcoming high school graduation of Betsey, the other daughter, Jane has plans. Plans for how to handle the affair she knows her husband is having, and later plans to deal with Betsey's hidden (until now) relationship with a tutor. What a lady! 

Democracy Awakening: Notes on the State of America by Heather Cox Richardson -- I occasionally read her posts on Facebook, and when I saw this book in the new section of the library, I decided to read it. Also I remember Suzanne having read it last year. Thought-provoking and interesting.

Over Her Dead Body by Kate White -- Another in the Bailey Weggins series. Bailey goes to work for a new magazine, and pretty soon is investigating the murder of her boss, Mona.  Nice to read in between sessions with the book just above by HCR.

Letters from My Sister by Valerie Fraser Luesse -- I feel there was another book or two about this family that would tell me more about things alluded to in this book. Callie and Emmy are sisters in a large family. While Emmy is eager to marry and set up a house, Callie is content climbing trees and visiting the creek. Decent book. Had a few sweet moments towards the end re: Decoration Day* and sibling death. I liked the epitaph parents placed on the stone of their child:
 "Dear, you are not dead to us, 
but an affectionate one unseen." 

* Two days from now (Sunday, June 2) at cemetery in Spring Creek so interesting timing.

Saturday, May 25, 2024

Itchy Boots Season 7 ENDS: Central African Republic to the Netherlands


When I posted about Itchy Boots' adventures in early February, she was in the Central African Republic. Since then she made her way across several other countries, and finally concluded her ride, but not in the way anyone hoped.  Here is the final post about her trip.

February 5, 7, 11, 14, 18, 21, 15, 28

We watched episodes 79-86 which were in the Central African Republic, Cameroon, the Republic of Congo, and Angola

While crossing a river in the dark, Alaska fell in the water. A mechanic took 3 or 4 hours to fix it in the dark. (ep. 80)

Interesting to see Noraly wait over an hour for gas and for her to ride on the nice Chinese-built road (ep. 81).  In order to avoid the Democratic Republic of Congo, Noraly sailed around it into Angola which was very nice and had cheap gas.  In Angola, her motorcycle got a nice service.  Noraly enjoyed how the locals called her amiga, but felt old when the kids called her tia even though she said she was an "auntie." (ep. 84). Angola is a lovely country with a huge waterfall especially in this rainy season, and a rushing river.

March 3, 6, 10, 13, 18, 20, 24, 27, 31

We watched episodes 87-95 which were in Angola, Zambia, Malawi, Ethiopia (airport and hotel only), and Madagascar

Noraly was frightened to be caught in a thunderstorm with lots of lightning, but in the next episode she continued on to the border with Zambia crossing some sketchy wooden bridges. We laughed at pigs enjoying the mud puddles in the middle of the road. She also rode through thick sand before reaching the border (ep. 88).

I enjoyed the nice people in Lusaka (ep. 90) and the wild animals on the safari in Zambia (ep. 91). Noraly decided to fly to Madagascar where she rented a KTM Enduro bike in order to explore some of the paths. She also took along a guide, Didier, for most of this visit. There were many rough roads, but the scenery was pretty. She mentioned being there during hurricane or cyclone season.  

April 3, 7, 10, 17, 21, 27, 28

We watched episodes 96-103 which were in Madagascar

During a nighttime forest walk, we saw some lemurs and giant snails. (ep. 96). Noraly's Enduro bike did well in the sand, but her guide had a Chinese bike which made the trails tough, and he ended up falling quite a bit.  (I read a comment that he was given that bike because all of the other Enduro bikes were rented for an event taking place around this time.)  I enjoyed the children Noraly saw around episode 100, and absolutely loved her time with the fishermen and videoing them underwater (ep. 101).  In episode 102, Noraly traded bikes to a vintage African Twin due to her being more on tarmac as she rode towards the capital. Also, she said goodbye to Didier who guided her throughout her Madagascar adventure near the western areas.

May 1, 5, 8, 12, 15, 19, 22

We watched episodes 104-110 which were in Madagascar, Malawi, Tanzania, and the Netherlands

Noraly declared Madagascar to be one of her top 5 countries after having visited over 100. She ended her time there with food poisoning that left her racing for her destination in order to leave the country. Back in Malawi, she was reunited with her bike, Alaska, and we saw beautiful views and a huge lake. She was also able to meet up with her best friend Mandy who was visiting Malawi at the time. Unfortunately Noraly left her rain jacket at the last place she stayed, and because the roads were tricky, she decided to not go back for it. One day she saw local college students out fixing the road (ep. 108). 
Unfortunately in Tanzania, something happened that caused her trip to end abruptly. She was going to tour Tanzania and end her journey in Kenya, but things didn't go as planned (episode 109.)  In the final episode she told everyone about her rescue, leaving Tanzania, and her surgery and recovery prospects. The surgeon punctured her lung during surgery and they didn't realize it so she's also dealing with a collapsed lung.  Note to self: the x-ray in Tanzania indicated that her crash was on April 17th. Based on other things she said, I think her surgery was in early May.  It was rather emotional seeing Alaska loaded up. Noraly has already said she is getting a new bike for her next adventure. Alaska carried her through many states, provinces, and countries. 
I really enjoyed her time in Africa, and look forward to seeing where she goes next!  I hope she rests this summer and heals, and we'll see her on YouTube again in coming months.

Tuesday, April 30, 2024

April Books


All My Secrets by Lynn Austin -- Three generations of women, Junietta, Sylvia, and Adelaide, live together during the Gilded Age, and the older two are trying to influence the youngest. Does she want to marry to save her family home, or should she look to do whatever makes her fulfilled?

My Name Was Eden by Eleanor Barker-White -- After a drowning incident, Lucy is relieved when her daughter Eden coughs up the water and lives. However her personality is totally different and Eden now declares that she is Eli, the name Lucy gave the twin she carried for a short time during her pregnancy.

The Silence in Her Eyes by Armando Lucas Correa -- Leah has lived with motion blindness since an accident when she was eight. Now at 28, her sharpened senses of smell and hearing have her befriending her new neighbor, Alice, and attempting to save Alice from her abusive husband.

Family Family by Laurie Frankel -- Alternating between now and when India was in high school and college, this story explores what makes a family. Fig and Jack are twins, and Fig has a secret: she's met (online) a child her mom placed for adoption when she was 16. Rebecca now goes by Bex, and she does something to "out" her biological mom.

Note: I have seen Bex in several books lately. Usually books located in the UK, but this one is in the US. Still, it's worth noting as a thing.  The Eden book above also had a Bex.

The Truth About the Devlins by Lisa Scottoline -- TJ is the black sheep of the Devlin family, but he has a good heart, and wants to solve the mystery his older brother John brought him into. Things turn weirder when John starts accusing TJ of relapsing and committing a crime. 

End of Story by A.J. Finn -- I read a bit over a fourth of this 400+ page book, and decided it wasn't good enough to keep reading.  DNF

Everyone Is Watching by Heather Gudenkauf -- Five contestants gather at an estate for a new reality TV show that promises ten million dollars to the winner! Although the contests are grueling and bordering unethical, Maire, Camille, and the three guys duel it out as the assistant/host Fern encourages them on. Pretty good.

The Underground Library by Jennifer Ryan -- When Germans bomb London and the library is destroyed, Juliet, the deputy librarian in Bethnal Green, and her friends Sofie and Katie among others decide to move books to the underground where folks sheltering from bombs can enjoy the stories. Pretty good.

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris -- Grace is the main caretaker for her sister Millie who was born with Down's Syndrome. Grace would like a husband and family, but knowing that she is the one who will care for Millie, often has boyfriends scrambling when they find out. Enter Jack Angel...who not only loves Grace, but adores Millie, and wants to take care of them both. After a whirlwind engagement and marriage, Grace is stunned to discover Jack missing on the night of their wedding. Where has he gone? And what will it be like to be married to Jack?

Has Anyone Seen Charlotte Salter? by Nicci French -- Three incidents - two of them over thirty years prior - and one recent murder. Are they somehow connected to the disappearance of Charlotte Salter the evening of her husband's fiftieth birthday party? When Morgan decides to do a podcast about the events - and gets his brother Greg to give his side of the story, the police reluctantly decide to take a closer look.

The Overnight Guest by Heather Gudenkauf -- Wylie is in Iowa renting a house and writing a true crime story about an event that took place decades before. Josie lost both her parents on the same night that her best friend Becky and her brother Ethan went missing. No one was ever arrested for this crime. Meanwhile a little girl lives with her mother in a basement. Her father sometimes brings her treats and food, and sometimes he doesn't.

The Opposite of Me by Sarah Pekkanen -- Lindsey has always been the smart twin who worked hard to make it to the top whereas her sister Alex seemed to have it made easily because of her stunning looks. When Lindsey moves back to Maryland due to a major job fiasco in New York, she and Alex have more time together than they have in years. A pretty good story.

Never Lie by Freida McFadden -- Tricia and Ethan are on the way to a remote area to look at a house that's for sale. Unfortunately a blizzard means they are stuck at this house, but thankfully they are able to get inside and spend the night there. They realize they are in the house of a therapist, Adrienne, who went missing three years ago and presumably killed by her boyfriend. A pretty good thriller/mystery type.

Good Half Gone by Tarryn Fisher -- Iris is a teenager when her twin Piper is taken by some men. The police wonder if it's truly a kidnapping or if Piper just ran away. This is told in the timelines of Iris then - as a teen begging for help in finding her sister - and today as she gets a job helping those deemed incompetent to stand trial. She wants to get close to someone she believes is connected to her sister's disappearance. 

The Night Shift by Alex Finlay -- Years ago Ella was the only survivor of a stabbing spree where she worked at Blockbuster. Now that a similar crime has occurred, she's been summoned to talk with Jesse, the only survivor who has been hospitalized. Sarah Keller is an FBI agent called in to help (because the local police needs the feds' resources), and Chris is a public defender with ties to the past case. Pretty good. 

Death in the Details by Katie Tietjen -- After Maple's husband dies in the war, she turns her hobby of making doll houses into a business in order to support herself. She has always had perfect recall for details, and after witnessing a disturbing scene, she recreates it in order to solve a possible murder.

Becoming Madam Secretary by Stephanie Dray -- An interesting book about an impressive lady, Frances Perkins (sometimes Wilson), who served in FDR's cabinet among many things.

If Looks Could Kill by Kate White -- Since I read several of her books already, I decided to read the first of the Bailey Weggins Mystery series. In this story, Bailey is helping her friend Cat solve the mystery of the nanny who winds up dead in Cat's house. 

The Dilemma by B. A. Paris -- This alternates between Adam and Livia on the day of Livia's fortieth birthday party, something she's been saving for and planning since the couple was young and needy.  Fast read

She's Not Sorry by Mary Kubica -- Meghan is a critical care nurse charged with caring for a young woman brought in as having attempted suicide by jumping off a bridge. Later a witness comes forth claiming someone else was on the bridge with Caitlin and it might be more than meets the eye. Meanwhile Meghan is trying to raise her 16 year old daughter mostly by herself since she and her husband divorced recently. Also she's trying to help a high school friend, Natalie, who recently came back into her life.  Pretty interesting story.

Watch Where They Hide by Tamron Hall -- This is the second book in the Jordan Manning series. Jordan is called by a distraught woman who claims her sister disappeared, but she's getting little help from authorities. As an investigative reporter, Jordan is asked to help. This book was OK.

What Have We Done by Alex Finlay -- Jenna, Donnie, and NIco were best friends at a group home, and years later weird things happen that reunite these friends in order to solve a mystery. Pretty good.

A Body to Die For by Kate White -- Second in the Bailey Weggins series... Bailey is looking forward to her weekend getaway to her mom's college friend's spa, but when one of the massage therapists ends up dead, Bailey gets involved with trying to figure out what happened.

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.