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

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

December Books

A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel -- The subtitle is 'Growing Up Small in Mooreland, Indiana' and it was a cute book. Liz recommended it as one of her favorites awhile back. I think she enjoyed it more since she lived in Indiana for part of her married life.  My library had it in the Biography section so I read it. She's a pretty good story-teller. 

Last Lessons of Summer by Margaret Maron -- in this book a lady from New York City comes to a small town outside of Raleigh, NC, to close out her grandparents' estate. In the process, she has to solve the mysteries of her grandmother's and mother's deaths.

Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr -- the tale of a fifteen year old pastor's daughter, and the troublesome summer when her mom was in rehab, and her world seemed to fall apart.

From Beirut to Jersusalem by Thomas L. Friedman -- I found this one at a book exchange and just took my time reading a little bit nearly every day.  I began it on October 25 (my wedding anniversary), and finished the nearly 600 pages yesterday on the cool date of 12-13-14.  Lots of interesting stuff in here, but I felt like I needed an up-to-date tale from the author. As it ends, "Rabin himself is not talking regularly about 'separation' from the Palestinians," Arafat is still alive, and Hafez Assad still rules Syria.  So much has happened since then! I do wonder what the author would say in regards to his predictions of the future in that part of the world.  I enjoyed reading about his life in Beirut and Jerusalem; great reports from those places!

Hallie's Heart by Shelly Beach -- an aunt and niece share a few days together as they come to grips with a bad accident in their pasts.  Both learn the importance of forgiveness.

You Had Me at Good-bye by Tracey Bateman -- a book my mom finished while I was at her house so I decided to read it. Rather cute book, cute characters. Predictable, yes, but an easy read about a young editor in New York City.

Her Amish Man by Erin Bates -- I got this book while at the library recently. My sole quest was for easy reads, and this one was. But it was a rather silly book. Still, it fit the bill of being an easy book to read during this holiday season.  Lawyer Leah hides out with the Amish after being accused of murder. Exciting, right? 

The Tyrant's Daughter by JC Carleson -- can you imagine leaving your war-torn home country where your family was the "royal family" only to find out in your new country that your father was a dictator who approved many crimes against your countrymen?  That's the gist of this book. Quite an interesting tale.  Bridget recommended this one.

Little Bee by Chris Cleave - a friend recommended this one to me; a Nigerian girl makes her way to England where she is an illegal refugee. She meets up with a couple she met years before in her home country.  This book makes you feel more for those leaving troublesome pasts. 

A Likely Story: One Summer with Lillian Hellman by Rosemary Mahoney  -- A few years ago, I read one of her books about living in China, so I must have put her biography on my list for that reason. This book takes place when Rosemary was 17. She wanted to work one summer for a favorite author, and wrote asking if she could.  Ms. Hellman agreed, and it was quite an eye-opening experience for Rosemary.  I just looked up Lillian Hellman as she's not a famous person that I'm familiar with.  Anyway...if this sort of thing interests you, great.  Sometimes famous people aren't what they seem from their stories or movies.  Sometimes this is a blessing, and other times it is a great disappointment.

Summer of the Gypsy Moths by Sara Pennypacker -- this year I've been jotting down books that people recommend on their blogs especially if my library has them. This is one book Crystal wrote about in September.  I found it in the Junior Fiction at my library so it's not really in my age group, but it's a cute story of two young girls who are trying to survive one summer in Cape Cod when their caregiver suddenly dies.  Neither wants to go into foster care so they bury Louise in the garden and live as if Louise is inside with a broken leg or out with her boyfriend. 

Dreamers of the Day by Mary Doria Russell -- I think Niki recommended this book, and I finally found it at a local library. It's the story of Agnes Shanklin, a school teacher in Ohio, who inherits some money, and eventually goes on a trip to Egypt, Jerusalem, and Gaza around the time of Lawrence of Arabia and Winston Churchill.  In fact, she speaks with both of these men at some length while traveling. 

Four Mile by Watt Key -- another YA recommended by Crystal.  I read this in one sitting.  Foster and his mother are preparing to sell the family farm when a stranger happens by.  For some reason Foster instantly likes Gary, and this book is about their times within about a month when Gary is helping to get the place ready to sell.

Which Way to the Wild West? by Steve Sheinkin -- my friend Jennifer's twelve year old son really enjoyed this book. I think she read it as well, and she recommended it to me. It was written by a former textbook author who saved all these cool stories - that the editors didn't have room for in a history book full of dates and charts - for a book of his own. Quite interesting and a quick read for my last book of 2014.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

After-Christmas Trip to the Beach and Southport

A few days before Christmas, it was gray and rainy. I am grateful for rain because I know it's needed, but I admit sunshine cheers me more.  Christmas day was lovely, and we saw the forecast was going to be nice at the beach for the weekend. So Christmas night - around 9:30 - we got back from my sister's house, and I made online reservations for a small motel on the Cape Fear River at Southport.  We had stayed there back in April, and enjoyed the location very much.

So we headed out Friday morning and arrived in Wrightsville Beach (pictured above).  I walked there while Andrew got in a nice bike ride.  Later we headed to Southport where we stayed much of the next day and a half (two nights).

Saturday we drove over to Caswell Beach which is where we sat for awhile and I decided to put my feet in the water.  'Twas cold!

Both nights we watched the sunset over the Cape Fear River in Southport (below).  Several other people gathered to enjoy it as well.

At night we would dress warmly, and walk around the streets to see the houses lit up for Christmas.  I didn't take very many photos of them, but they looked festive!

Today we stayed around Southport for morning walks and Andrew took a bike ride.  I talked to some people on the pier and around the swings each day. Met folks from New York, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Raleigh, and "here." 

We went to Wrightsville Beach for another walk before we headed home. The temperature was in the low seventies, and we sat along the marina watching the boats on the intracoastal waterway. We were just getting ready to leave for home when Andrew saw this boat about to tip over.  It did. So we stayed to watch the rescue. The men were fine, but their handmade boat took on some water and when we left, they were trying to remedy that. 

What a great after-Christmas trip!

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Arab Spring

I had an interesting talk with a friend yesterday.  He and his cousin are both Syrians living in Germany, and while visiting together last weekend, they got to talking about how well they were treated by the Germans.

S said he ponders how non-Muslims treat them better than Muslims. How that saying about going to the West to see true Islam, but not as many Muslims was maybe true.

I countered, "Ah, but you know Muslims in Muslim countries aren't that way! Dictators rule so that is why people are mistreated!"

What he said surprised me. Otherwise I'd not have jotted it down for this post.

Here's the gist of it:

Before the Arab Spring I would have said the same thing: Arabs are oppressed by their dictators.  But now, no.  Arabs are at fault!  A sizable majority like their dictators, and the ones who don't - the ones who want freedom from dictators - are not willing to put aside their differences to make something better.  

They go back to "primitiveness" and tribalism takes over.  No common goals, but each person for himself at the expense of the whole country.  

If we really wanted freedom, we would be different.

I don't have time to go into any more right now, but that made me curious what the Arab Spring has taught others.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Anxiety Help

Someone shared these on Facebook from a book she was reading.  I liked them, and wanted to keep them somewhere easy to find.