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

Monday, December 31, 2018

December Books

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn -- a great book and a fun way to learn about female spies; Charlotte St. Clair is in Europe with her mom; they are headed to Switzerland to take care of Charlie's "Little Problem," but before they make it out of England, Charlie abandons her mom to look for a person whose name she has in connection with her beloved missing cousin. Evelyn Gardiner is an old, drunk, crotchety woman with secrets. She and Charlie and Eve's handyman Finn head to France in search of Rose and René, a terrible sort from Evelyn's spying past (World War I).  Anyway, I enjoyed this book. It's funny and historical and gruesome altogether.

Together Forever by Jody Hedlund -- book 2 in the Orphan Train series; This book focused more on the middle Neumann sister, Marianne, as she goes on an orphan train as an agent who helps find families for the children along with her co-agent Andrew Brady.  Decent book. 

The Dry by Jane Harper -- Another good story by this Australian author!  I read her second book first, and knew there was an earlier book since the main character, Falk, had an issue with his hand that made me believe it was injured in book 1.  In this story Aaron Falk returns to his hometown for the funeral of a friend. Well, he would have skipped it since he and Luke hadn't been good friends in years, and he hated the memories associated with home, but Luke's father sent a cryptic message demanding Aaron be there. Aaron joins the local police in looking for a possible other reason that Luke, his wife, and their 6 year old son were brutally killed. Was it a murder suicide or something else?

A Conspiracy in Belgravia by Sherry Thomas -- Book 2 in The Lady Sherlock Series; Charlotte Holmes and Mrs. Watson look for clues in the disappearance of Lady Ingram's first love, who happens to be Charlotte's illegitimate half-brother, Myron Finch. A cute book.

Crash & Burn by Lisa Gardner -- The library has a lot of her books so I'll probably read more of them soon. This one dealt with a lady, Nicole Frank, driving over a steep ravine in the mountains of New Hampshire. She survived, but is looking for her missing girl, Vero.  Nicky has had three concussions in the last 6 months and with these brain injuries, memories have surfaced on her time at "the dollhouse" where she lived in a house that catered to wealthy men.  A mystery; pretty good story.

The Risen by Ron Rash -- Two teenage brothers met a girl from Florida swimming near their fishing hole one summer years ago.  After falling under her spell (so to speak), they begin supplying her with samples from their grandfather's medicine cabinet (he's a doctor) and alcohol.  Years later, Eugene reads a news article about Ligeia's remains being found buried along a creek, and he is stunned since Ligeia supposedly left on a bus for Miami all those years ago. The story goes between then and now times; a decent book.

The Ballad of Tom Dooley by Sharyn McCrumb -- a great way to learn more about the rascal Tom Dula and the women of Wilkes and Watauga counties: the Foster cousins, Ann Melton, Pauline Foster, and Laura Foster who was murdered. A pretty good story.

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman -- A pretty good story about Elsa and her Granny who leaves Elsa clues for a treasure hunt when she dies. I didn't always appreciate the fairy-tale aspect of half the book, but started enjoying it better when I realized who the characters stood for. 

The Saving Graces by Patricia Gaffney -- Told in the voices of the four ladies making up the close-knit group "Saving Graces," Isabel, Emma, Rudy, and Lee introduce themselves and their struggles.  I admit that one aspect of this book hit a bit hard as I have a dear friend struggling with quite likely the last stages of ovarian cancer (today - December 17 - is her birthday, in fact). A pretty good book.

Alone by Lisa Gardner -- I've been enjoying these crime thrillers and hope to get more. This one deals a lot with Trooper Bobby Dodge who also is a sniper. When he kills a man who appears to be threatening his wife and child, his life gets turned upside down. I read most of this book while we took Sophie back to Spring Creek today (12-19). It's a fast-paced, easy read.

Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight -- Kate is distraught when her daughter supposedly committed suicide by jumping off the roof of her elite school, but an anonymous text gets her looking into her daughter's life. This was an interesting book, but left me sad that teenagers are treating each other in such ways. A good book, though.

The Hollow of Fear by Sherry Thomas -- book 3 in The Lady Sherlock Series; a rather cute series, and definitely better if you can read the books in quick succession since, otherwise, I have trouble remembering aspects from previous books.

Touch & Go by Lisa Gardner -- another crime thriller; Part of the book is Libby narrating the story of her family's kidnapping after date night with her husband (who is trying to "do better" after being confronted for cheating); a good book on this Christmas Eve

Family Pictures by Jane Green -- Sylvie has a great marriage - when her husband is in town.  Those two or so weeks per month when he's traveling for work, it's actually really hard to get in touch with him. Sylvie tries not to think about it too much, but there is sometimes that niggling fear that he is with some other woman.   Maggie lives on the East Coast - in Connecticut, in a nice house. Her husband, too, travels quite a bit. One day these two women meet and, well, this is a rather good book. I may look for others by this author at some point.

Helpless by Barbara Gowdy -- A very pretty nine year old girl disappears during a city-wide blackout. Pretty good book

Girl Unbroken by Regina Calcaterra and Rosie Maloney -- "A Sister's Harrowing Story of Survival from the Streets of Long Island to the Farms of Idaho."  My mom and I both read Regina Calcaterra's memoir a couple of years ago, and what a story! There have been hints since then that her youngest sibling, Rosie, would write her story. Rosie and her brother Norm - the two youngest children of Cookie (mom) - were the only children taken to Idaho by Cookie and her then boyfriend. The older girls had left the hellhole home at this point, but Norm and Rosie were still rather young (12 and 9, respectively.)  Rosie's story is worth reading as well. Makes you appreciate good family and friends, school and church workers and neighbors who look around, take notice, encourage, LOVE, feed, clothe you.  And it makes you appreciate good foster families of which I know several. 

Hide by Lisa Gardner -- An underground chamber is discovered on the grounds of the former Boston State Mental Hospital. In it, are the wet mummified remains of four girls who died decades earlier. Another D.D. Warren, Bobby Dodge crime thriller.

And with that, another year of reading ends. May the stories continue. 

Happy 2019!

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Christmas Pics

The kids' Christmas pictures taken today. Aren't they sweet?

When Sophie came for a visit recently (post-hair cut), I made a big deal about her looking so good with her shorter hairdo.  She was hoping people would notice - and like it!  She does.

She's wanted bangs like Nana for awhile. She made me chuckle when she pointed to the part that drapes her forehead now, and said with some emphasis: 

"And...I have a bang."

Her long hair was pretty, but got so tangly and she would cry when you'd try to comb it out. Quite frankly, I couldn't comb the tangles out; they were terrible. And listening to her cry was even worse.

Zach is 7; Sophie is 4 (and over a half for each of them since they have spring birthdays.)

Thursday, November 29, 2018

November Books

Mina by Jonatha Ceely -- I read book 2 before book 1 (this book) so I knew how the story ended with Mina in America, but I didn't know the backstory except for what was alluded to in book 2. Which was actually quite a lot of it, but still it was good reading this one. I enjoyed this book.

With You Always by Jody Hedlund -- Sisters Elise, Marianne, and Sophie are struggling to survive in New York City and gain employment at a mission house. When economic problems arise, they lose their livelihood. As the eldest, Elise travels to central Illinois to work in a new town that Thornton Quincy is trying to establish along the railroad line.  This is book 1 in the Orphan Train series.  Mostly predictable, but an easy read, and an OK, decent story.

A Heart Revealed by Josi S. Kilpack -- Amber is the Rage of the (London) Season until a health issue brings humiliation and a change in address: she's pretty much banished to her family's small cottage in northern England.  As she and her loyal maid-turned-friend Suzanne live so far from London, they learn to survive without a household of staff and the life of privilege.  A pretty good story.

Heart on the Line by Karen Witemeyer -- I read two of her books previously and wrote that they were merely ok, but this one I rather liked.  It wasn't super by any means, but I liked it better than the others for some reason.  Grace and Amos are telegraph operators who talk after hours over the wire. When Grace is threatened, Amos travels to her town and they meet face-to-face for the first time.  Pretty good book.

Walking to Listen by Andrew Forsthoefel --  "4,000 miles across America, one story at a time" ; Andrew leaves his home in Pennsylvania with a sign on his backpack "Walking to Listen." He heads south and I love some of the stories he shares especially from Virginia and later from Alabama.  Also good was when he was on the Navajo and Hopi reservations out west and the people were so kind to him. 

If Only by Richard Paul Evans -- an easy read, and a sweet book about Eric, a ninth grader who recently moved from California to Utah. While at work one night, Eric finds a girl looking in the Dumpster for food.  He takes her to the clubhouse on his family's property where she hides out for several weeks.  A cute story. 

The Bright Side of Disaster by Katherine Center -- This, I believe, is the fourth book I've read by this author, and I could tell within the first bit what would happen as far as men go.  Not that other books and authors aren't predictable, but hers really stand out.  Main Character is living with a guy who turns out to be a loser (or Looozah as Sophie would say) so she ends up with some other guy who comes on the scene who for real is Mr. Perfect. But how each Main Character gets to that point in each of her books is pretty good.  In this book Jenny is pregnant and when Looozah Fiancé leaves her, she does the whole single parenting thing alone. And it is tough.  A decent book; not my favorite of hers.

Circle of Three by Patricia Gaffney -- One of those three-generations-of-women books.  Grandma Dana (70ish), Mom Carrie (42), and Daughter Ruth (15) who struggle through life's changes.  A decent book.

The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai -- I got this at a Little Free Library, and I really do not know what all it was about. Indians and other nationalities in India?  And Indian young men in the US?  I didn't like it.

The Outcasts by Kathleen Kent -- I'd read one other book by this author so I figured why not read this one? It alternates between Lucinda's story as an epileptic whore escaping the brothel with a mission to locate information about gold on a small island somewhere in Texas and Nate's story as a Texas lawman who teams up with a couple of Rangers to locate an outlaw.  Despite how it sounds here, it was a halfway decent book, I guess. 

Note to self: put Becoming on hold -- 16th in line as of November 14, 2018; I want to see how long it takes me to get it from the library  Edited on January 18, 2019, to add: 2 months. See January 2019 books post when it's posted.

The Season of Second Chances by Diane Meier -- After holding herself aloof from relationships most all of her forty eight years, Joy leaves her professorship in NYC for one in Amherst, Massachusetts. There she makes friends and helps people out, and learns more about herself in the process.  An OK book.

The Preacher's Bride by Jody Hedlund -- Elizabeth works for Pastor John Costin's family as a housekeeper after the death of his first wife. Vicious rumors are spread about her and the reverend. Should he marry her or another in this Puritan community in order to squelch the talk? This was an OK book.

Force of Nature by Jane Harper -- A corporation chose 5 men and 5 women for a bonding retreat in the Australian bushland. The two teams head out with their supplies and a map, but the women fail to make it to camp the second night.  Tempers flare, injuries abound, and when the group finally emerges hours after the scheduled time, only 4 of the women walk out of the woods. Alice is missing, but what happened to her?  I found this book by chance at a local library (but not the one nearest me) and I enjoyed this mystery and have put the author's other book on hold.

Life's a Beach by Claire Cook -- A light, easy read for when the kids were visiting. Ginger Walsh is 41 and living in the apartment above her parents' garage when her mom decides to put the house on the market. Ginger tries to figure out her life: a job, take a higher commitment with her boyfriend and all that stuff. An OK book. Cute, but nothing special.

Rebellious Heart by Jody Hedlund -- Massachusetts while the US was still a colony of England. Susanna Smith's loyalty to her king is tested when a British soldier oversteps his authority. An OK book. 

The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain -- the library got another book by this author, and this one was different, but interesting especially if you don't mind a little time travel between 1970 and the 2000s.  Hunter shows up in 1970 with a broken ankle after falling from the roof of a building. Some say he is suicidal, but in reality, he just landed in 1970 after being part of 2018, and he fell off the building he landed on! Weird. But the book is pretty good.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Rolling, Rolling, Rolling

Sophie is visiting the area now, and today she was at my house for a couple of hours.  She had a great time playing with Tucky, and when he left to help with youth group at church, Sophie and I went to the park which is near my house.

When we first got there, Sophie and I had the whole place to ourselves so we entertained ourselves by doing the scavenger hunt.

We have to locate the apple, frog, star, clock, carrot, and so forth. Ten items in all. Or "awwb jects" as Sophie drawls it.  Objects, if you don't understand Southern.

She loves when she finds the objects first.  

About twenty minutes after we got to the park, people started arriving and - yippee! - Sophie had not one, but TWO little girls just a bit older than her to play with.

I had been walking up and down a hill in order to redeem the time and get a little exercise. It's a favorite hill to roll down - or, at least, both Sophie and Zach have rolled down this hill in times gone by.

Sophie asked if they could, and I said I could not give permission for Jillian and Carla since I'm not their guardian/parent. But eventually all three girls rolled down the hill.

Here are a few pictures I took of Sophie in the process.

And finally I had her stop so I could show her her leafy hair!

She loved it!

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Toy Bonnie and Cinderella made the paper!

Zach and Sophie's grandmother - they call her Nana - sent us this picture via text last evening.  The kids were included in the local county paper, The News-Record & Sentinel, while wearing their Halloween costumes.

The caption should really have an "at" in place of that first "and" to be accurate and "Freddie" should be "Freddy's," but possibly the caption writer was like me about FNaF stuff.

(No clue.)

Friday, November 2, 2018


Lifetouch gave me a coupon for a free digital download since I made a purchase on their online site today. Actually they said it was because I signed up for their rewards program.

I wanted to have a copy of this here.

Zach, 7 years old

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

October Books

The Vanishing Year by Kate Moretti -- Zoe has been keeping her past hidden as she hides in plain sight in New York City.  Her husband Henry discovered her at charity event and "rescued" her from a life of poverty and gave her a lavish lifestyle. A somewhat suspenseful book; I enjoyed it.

On Wings of the Morning by Marie Bostwick -- The stories of Georgia and her learning to fly with the WASP during World War II, and Morgan as he left his small Oklahoma town to fly in the Pacific.

How Do I Love Thee? by Nancy Moser -- this is "a Novel of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Poetic Romance" ; not the most exciting book, but OK. Boy, her father was a piece of work! 

Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Graynor and Heather Webb -- an OK story about Ellie and Tom as Tom goes off to fight for England during World War I, and Ellie writes him.  Nearly the whole book is letters from these two to each other, and a few more.  It was a somewhat interesting way to learn more about this war; if not overly-exciting.

The Dive From Clausen's Pier by Ann Packer -- found this at a free little library; not my favorite, but OK. I didn't really like the main character all that much.  Carrie Bell is already bored of her fiancé so he shows of by diving from Clausen's pier. No big deal usually, but this year was lacking rain and they had done something to the lake - and Mike breaks something and can no longer walk. What does Carrie do? If you want to know, read the book.

Victoria by Daisy Goodwin -- I enjoyed this glimpse of Queen Victoria in the early years of her reign.  I wouldn't mind reading others that tell more of her story. 

Hurricane by Karen Harper -- Julie and Zach's children go missing after Thad took Randi out on a Jet Ski.  The worried parents go looking for their teens all while the rest of this area of Florida is boarding up and evacuating because of Hurricane Dana's imminent arrival! This was a timely book in a way since Hurricane Michael hit part of Florida earlier in the week.  He was a fast-strengthening storm, and even cause many in my area to lose power and trees.  My neighbor had a big tree fall and hit her house (not too much damage to the house, thankfully; and we lost power for right at 24 hours).  An OK book.

A Lady in Disguise by Sandra Byrd -- This book starts with Gillian Young attending her father's funeral.  He was a policeman who died from a runaway cart (supposedly.)  She noticed her father's former coworkers are less friendly and some downright hostile towards her, her house is searched, and she's being harassed. What is going on? I like this book about her work as a theatre seamstress, and her young interns. 

Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey -- While running from an abusive boyfriend, Jess finds an unoccupied house to break into. She ends up staying for a few days in this abandoned place and finding a bit of a mystery about Stella, an English lady, married to a vicar, and Dan, the American soldier who made her life more interesting during World War II. 

Angel Falls by Kristin Hannah -- When Mikaela suffers a head injury after falling from her horse, her family talks to her while she lies in a coma. Her husband finds one name makes her respond - the name of her ex-husband.  So, he locates the ex-husband with hopes that his talking to Mike will help her wake up.  Weird thing to do maybe, but a decent book.  Easy read.

Sweet Caroline by Rachel Hauck -- After reading a few books with heavier topics, this was a light, easy read about Caroline there in Beaufort, SC. She was left the Frogmore Café, an institution in the town, but a falling-apart money pit!  Caroline is a lovable character anyone would be lucky to know. A cute book. 

Get Lucky by Katherine Center -- After Sarah is fired from her advertising job, she visits her sister in their hometown of Houston.  She realizes Mackie (toddler version of Mary Katherine in case you were wondering) really wants a baby, and since Mackie has been unsuccessful in this quest for a child for 6 years, Sarah decides to have a baby for Mackie and her husband Clive.  No problem.  An easy read, and I do like the characters quite much. 

Bread and Dreams by Jonatha Ceely -- This is actually the second book in the story of Mina, so I will have to read the first book soon.  This story followed Mina as she left home in Ireland to travel across the Atlantic for New York, and as she continued her life there. Thankfully she had her trusty friend, Mr. Serle, who looked out for her, and she meets interesting characters - the Corbetts (Jane and Honor) and Flint, the sailor, among others.  Good book. 

Evergreen by Rebecca Rasmussen -- A pretty good story that starts with Emil, a recent immigrant from Germany, and his bride, Eveline, who begin married life in a small cabin in the woods of Minnesota in 1938.  To them is born Hux (named for Emil's grandpa, I believe, Huxley), and later Emil travels back to Germany because his father is dying.  In that year he was gone, something life-changing happens to Eveline that affects the next couple of generations (and maybe more, but the story ends around Naamah's daughter Racina's 11th birthday.)  Some rather interesting characters in this book, and overall a decent read. 

Lord Fenton's Folly by Josi Kilpack -- Lord Fenton does his best to live an outlandish lifestyle in London in order to bring shame to his father, but he changes his ways when his father nearly cuts him off from his title and inheritance.  The List Of Things To Do In Order to Stay in My Good Graces includes marrying within a few months.  Looking around for the least objectionable woman he knows, Lord Fenton proposes to Alice Stanbridge.  That's always a good way to woo a lady.  Pretty good book.

Fields of Gold by Marie Bostwick -- this was actually the first in a two-part series; I read the second book a few weeks ago and then realized this book covered Morgan's mom's life and his birth whereas book 2 focused a whole lot more on Morgan and his flying during World War II.  Charles Lindbergh was a minor, yet influential, character is both books. Pretty good story about Eva and her life in Dillon, Oklahoma.

Once Upon a Prince by Rachel Hauck -- Part of the Royal Wedding Series; I'm not sure I'll continue these because I didn't find it all that good.  I liked a book by this author that I read a week or so ago, but this was just ho-hum at best. Susanna lives on St. Simons Island in Georgia and meets this really cool fellow who happens to be a prince from a (fake) European nation. He doesn't introduce himself as that so she thinks he's just a regular guy with a cool accent. 

Friday, September 28, 2018

September Books

The Girl Who Came Home by Hazel Gaynor -- I enjoyed this novel about the Titanic, and a group of 14 from a village in Ireland who traveled together.  It explores some of their stories, especially Maggie Murphy, the 17 year old orphan who was traveling to start a new life with her Aunt Kathleen. A touching book.

Mist of the Midnight by Sandra Byrd -- First book in the Daughters of Hampshire series; an interesting story about Rebecca Ravenshaw's return to England after 20 years in India.  After her parents are killed, Rebecca returns home with hopes of reclaiming her ancestral house.  Instead she finds a distant cousin, Captain Luke Whitfield, is settling in, and a tale about another Rebecca Ravenshaw who already showed up, claimed the house, and died not too long ago - what?!  I liked this book.

Jude by Kate Morgenroth -- After Jude witnesses his father's murder (he was selling drugs, and cutting the supply so...), he is introduced to his mother, a local district attorney!   His life changes drastically...and this book was rather troubling.

The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert -- Lou runs a French-cuisine restaurant in Milwaukee.  Usually everything runs smoothly and she and her staff make delicious food.  But on one of the worst days of her life, the local food critic drops by, is served terrible food, and writes a scathing review.  Meanwhile Al Waters meets Lou who gives him - an Englishman new to the area - tours of famous Milwaukee things to do.  A rather cute book; an easy read. 

Bride of a Distant Isle by Sandra Byrd -- Second book in the Daughters of Hampshire series; Throughout her life, Annabel Ashton has battled the rumor of her mother giving birth to her out-of-wedlock (in an era where this really really matters) and the fact that her mother died in an insane asylum.  Is she also going mad? Will she also end up dying young in an asylum?   Her cousin Edward inherited everything, but their expenses have increased so much that he asks her to sweet talk (essentially) the Maltese captain Marco Antonio Dell'Acqua in order to gain Dell'Acqua's business.  And so forth...

The Secret Keeper by Sandra Byrd -- This is "a novel of Kateryn Parr," the last wife of King Henry VIII. It follows the story of one of Kate's ladies, Juliana St. John.  It was a good way to learn more about the queen and king and England at that time.  It took me awhile to get into this book because of all the names and titled people, and the fact that I wasn't fully focused due to both Sophie and Florence (hurricane coming to my state) visiting. 

Alena by Rachel Pastan -- I read this whole book hoping to find out the name of the main character, but I did not!  She's referred to as the curator or "she" the non-Alena...ugh. So, she gets a curator job at an art museum on Cape Cod. But she lives in the shadow of the late, Russian-born Alena who disappeared one night two years ago, and was thought to have drowned.  This book was OK, but ultimately unfulfilling since I never found out the Curator's name. Maybe it's in there, and I just missed it.  *shrug*

The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware -- After her mother died in a hit-and-run accident 3 years ago, Hal (short for Harriet) struggles to pay the bills and gets taken by a loan shark. When a letter arrives from a lawyer saying that her grandmother died and left her something, Hal is hopeful that some of her money woes will be relieved. But the grandmother mentioned in the letter is not the same lady mentioned as her grandmother on her birth certificate.  Can Harriet dupe this super-rich family out of a few thousand pounds in order to pay off the people threatening her?  I enjoyed this book; suspenseful!

Miss Wilton's Waltz by Josi S. Kilpack -- a decent, easy read; Lenora is rather a wallflower compared to her younger sister, Cassie. When Lenora's fiancé dumps her for her sister, Lenora finds she's not heartbroken (she didn't really love him), but is embarrassed at local gossip about her.   Her aunt offers her a home in Bath, and Lenora shines as a music teacher at a school for girls.  When 12 year old Catherine comes to the school, Lenora finds this troublesome girl brings more challenges into her life than anticipated!

The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent -- A story about Martha Carrier, who was hanged as a witch during the Salem witch trials, as told through the eyes of her 10 year old daughter, Sarah.  A pretty interesting way to learn more about this time in history. 

The World Made Straight by Ron Rash -- A story out of Madison County, NC.  While out fishing, Travis stumbles upon some marijuana growing and takes it to a local seller. I know, I know...what a book. Well, it gets some better, and was actually somewhat interesting. Travis ends up living with this dope seller, Leonard, a former teacher, who encourages Travis to get his GED.   I actually saw a book or two by this author in gift shops along 441 (between Cherokee and Gatlinburg). That's what prompted me to look at what books the library offered (quite a few) so I may read more from him at some point. 

Thieving Forest by Martha Conway -- I got this from my Amazon Wishlist, a birthday gift, I believe, and I enjoyed this story about Susanna and her sisters who live in west Ohio during the days of the settlers and Indians. This story takes places just after Susanna and her sisters are orphaned, and a tribe of Indians kidnap most of them.  Susanna was feeding the pig - Saul - so she saw it all happen.  The story follows her search for them, and the sisters' lives among the natives.  Pretty interesting story!

Serena by Ron Rash -- This book made me so very very thankful for those who lobbied, purchased, donated to make national parks a reality!  Because Serena and Pemberton are just ruthless. And although this book is fiction, I was never so glad someone was unable to have children.  (THIS is actually the book mentioned above that I saw in mountain area gift shops.)

The Bird Sisters by Rebecca Rasmussen -- Milly and Twiss (Theresa Wis, in case you were wondering; Wis for Wisconsin because as a baby she put black Wisconsin dirt in her mouth; her dad gave her dirt as a newborn) are 70-something, never-married sisters who live together on the old family land.  This story flashes back to their growing-up years, the summer when their cousin Bett came to stay, the year their father had the Accident which lead to his loss of career and his living in the barn.  It was a good book with interesting characters. 

The Life Intended by Kristin Harmel -- I really enjoyed this book about Kate, a music therapist who works with children.  It was an interesting way to learn more about music therapy, American Sign Language, and foster children. Good book.

Everyone Is Beautiful by Katherine Center -- a cute book and very easy read about Lanie and Peter's move from Houston to Massachusetts so Peter can do something with his musical composition work.  Lanie tries to wrestle their three young boys while making friends and getting into shape.  

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Not so Italian after all: DNA updates from Ancestry

Just over two years ago, I spit into a tube and mailed my saliva to somewhere in the USA so my DNA could be analyzed.  I realized much of this was a lark and not definite, but it was something I had friends doing, something I was interested in doing, so I did it!

I posted about my results in August 2016, and now it's time for an update.

Why?  My friend posted her updated DNA results the other day and said Ancestry had emailed her about their thousands of new samples and new science which changed some of the findings.

Some trace regions were eliminated, some broad groups were better refined.  I actually was not super-shocked when my highest original 35% Europe South (Greece/Italy) was dropped to 18% Refined to Italy.  Italy is still surprising to me so you can imagine a 35% would be, and was.

I thought my dad's total would drop as well since HE is the one I got that high percentage from. But his 47% Europe South (Greece/Italy) changed to 47% Italy and 5% Greece and the Balkans!

So, I'm not sure what to make of that.  Mine dropped significantly as my DNA became much more English all of a sudden ... and his did not.  (Well, it kind of did, but not the Europe South part.  See his updated results below.)

See why I take this as not totally true and more for entertainment purposes?

Here are our updates as of earlier this week:  (Click pictures to view larger; they are the updated results) 

Since my sister controls her son's test, his results are pictured differently so I copied his original here to make it easier to compare.  I think his switch from 35% Iberian Peninsula which was his top one to 37% France being the top is odd.  His dad is Venezuelan so the Iberian Peninsula didn't shock me.  France is actually what I expected more from my parents since Fuqua and Truax are purportedly French surnames. 

My nephew Michael:  Original

DNA Results

Africa 3%
Trace Regions 3%
Africa North 3%

America 14%
Native American 14%

Europe 77%
Iberian Peninsula 35%
Europe West 24%
Italy/Greece 8%
Great Britain 6%

Trace Regions 4%
Ireland 4%
West Asia 6%

Trace Regions  6% 
Caucasus 4%
Middle East 2%


Me: Original 


My parents: Original


Andrew:   Original


I still believe the test is accurate in matching family members because I have several on my DNA Matches whom I know personally - and we are, indeed, related.  Plus I've met several other extended family members by messaging them in the last couple of years.

But as my brother (not tested) rightly noted when I updated my close family on these new results:

Interesting info. The only thing I would be a little bit,..not miffed, but a question raised in my mind, "At what point can you put some certainty in their findings?" What if people told their friends at a certain date that they were such and such? Do they have to now give them Intermittent updates? Who's to say that in a year, "Ancestry" will update again and you'll be from a totally different region? Oh well, lol, I don't guess it really has much impact on our lives other than being interesting.

So, who knows?  I may update my DNA regions again in a couple of years to find something even different.   It's all for fun, anyway! 

Stay tuned.  

Friday, August 31, 2018

August Books

How to Walk Away by Katherine Center -- A new book by a new-to-me author. This is the story of Margaret who is terrified to ride in a plane, but is guilted into it by her boyfriend who plans to propose to her while he is taking her up in the one-engine plane.  Margaret ends up in the hospital with a life-altering injury.  I admire her attitude.  Pretty good story.

The Art of Keeping Secrets by Patti Callahan Henry -- Two years ago Annabelle and her children had to go through an awful time after their husband and father was killed in a plane crash in Colorado.  Now hikers find the wreckage and discover a lady had been traveling with Knox when he died.  What is up with that? Was Knox having an affair? Or is there something else going on here?  A pretty good read while the kids are in town and I'm sitting around at parks and other fun places while they play nearby.

The Lost Castle by Kristy Cambron -- this book was OK; it told bits of stories from three ladies from different time periods. Ellie leaves her ailing grandmother in Michigan to travel to France in order to find out about a man and a castle and the story her grandmother is no longer able to tell (Alzheimer's) about both.

A Vintage Affair by Isabel Wolff -- I enjoyed this book about Phoebe and her new store: a vintage clothing shop in London.  I like the characters and the stories as Phoebe meets people to buy clothes to sell in her store. 

Slow Dancing on Price's Pier by Lisa Dale -- Thea runs a coffee shop and I enjoy the tidbits about coffee from her newspaper columns, but I mostly didn't like the characters in this book that much. Thea grew up with Garret and Jonathan; was great friends with both; fell in love with one, married the other.

The Idea of Love by Patti Callahan Henry -- I mostly read this while watching the kids at parks and museums; it was OK.  Ella takes the attention of Hunter who is in South Carolina looking for a love story to reignite his screenwriting career.  They both spin lies about who they are because they think they will no longer see the other in a few days. 

Between Heaven and Texas by Marie Bostwick -- described as a prequel to the Cobble Quilt Series, this book is about Mary Dell Templeton, the flashy dresser and beloved Texan, who helps Evelyn open her quilt shop.  This was a great little read telling about Mary Dell's life in Texas and how she got her start in her own quilt shop. 

The Bookshop at Water's End by Patti Callahan Henry -- After one of her ER patients dies, Dr. Bonny Blankenship is put on leave while the hospital does an investigation.  She takes her troubled daughter with her to the old house by the river where she spent three summers as a child.  There in Watersend, SC, she is joined by her best friend Lainey - an artist in California with two small children. 

True Colors by Kristin Hannah -- I picked this book up at a Free Little Library at the park one day while the kids were playing. Since I finished all the library books I had on hand, I decided to read it. And I enjoyed the story about three sisters - Winona, Aurora, and Vivi Ann - in Washington's Hood Canal as they grew up on a ranch, hired a strange ranch hand from Texas (and an Indian, at that!), and the events that took place that sent a man to prison and one sister to heartache.

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware -- I blame Amber for getting me interested in this author.  She's reviewing one of Ruth Ware's books on her blog - which I read a couple weeks ago, in a day - so I got this one from the library yesterday afternoon and finished it this morning. I enjoy the thriller aspect of them although they are a touch spooky to read at night.   And I would not read them at night at all if Andrew were out of town.  Because when he's away...ghosts make my house creak!  Against her better judgment Leonora attends her former BFF's "hen party" - a two-night event in the dark wood in the north of England.  It's all so weird, really, and then someone is murdered!

Inside the Wire by Erik Saar and Viveca Novak -- "a military intelligence soldier's eyewitness account of life at Guantanamo" -- I found this at a free little library months ago and finally decided to read it. Pretty interesting account of Erik's 6 months serving there!

Look For Me by Lisa Gardner -- a crime book/thriller type, but not too scary to read at night. I enjoyed this book - meeting Detective D.D. and the vigilante Flora Dane who was introduced in an earlier book which I've not read.  This was on a new books shelf and I liked it. I'll definitely look for others by this author.  It also had a touching view of foster children - kind of breaks my heart.

The Optimist's Guide to Letting Go by Amy E. Reichert -- a decent, easy read; Gina runs her food truck - Grilled G's - and parents her child. She was widowed a couple years ago.  One day she goes by her mother's house and discovers her mom on the floor.  Gina finds a birth certificate and picture and later finds out more about her family. 

The Forgotten Road by Richard Paul Evans -- I think years and years ago I read some of this guy's books because my library had them.  Well, I saw this on the new books shelf and decided to read about the guy who was supposed to have died in an airplane crash so he decided to gain some new perspective on his life by walking from Chicago to California, along the famous, old Route 66.  This book tells of his struggles and some fun facts about his trip.    I saw that this is the middle book of a trilogy so I'll go back and read book 1.  Book 3 is not due until spring 2019.

The Lying Game by Ruth Ware -- Kate sends a text to her BFFs:  "I need you" so the three of them - Thea, Fatima, and Isa (rhymes with "nicer," according to Isa; they live in England so...) - leave to meet her.  Isa brings along her baby Freya, and, I...just think she's not that great of a mom at times. But, eh, I don't have kids so who am I to judge?  But I am.  Maybe it's because I don't care for liars.  That's why I usually don't like politicians very well, and really really dislike this Liar in Chief we have in Washington, D.C.  They girls met in boarding school, and they had this Lying Game which may have been all in good fun, but it continues into adulthood.  I do like this author, though. I think I have one more book of hers to read, and I'm like 9th in line at the library to read it.   

Behaving Badly by Isabel Wolff -- I love the animal behaviorist aspect of this book about Miranda who is looking for someone she wronged 16 years ago. Pretty good book. 

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley -- I had never read any of the Flavia de Luce novels, but was gifted this one from a friend for my birthday. What a cute book!  And clever detective! You have to love an 11 year old girl who puts poison ivy in her older sister's lipstick, and takes notes each day to see if a rash has broken out.  Plus, she has a bicycle named Gladys, and likes to lie on the ground with her arms and legs outstretched so that she looks like an asterisk (*).  In this book a man dies in her yard near the cucumber patch. Flavia overheard her father arguing with this mystery man a few hours prior, but did her father really kill someone?  Flavia looks for clues in order to solve the mystery!

High Tide Club by Mary Kay Andrews -- I picked this one up in the New Books section of my library, and enjoyed it pretty well.  This is about a single mom, attorney Brooke who quit her work at a law practice to move a few hours away and hang her shingle.  She is called to the private island of Talisa off the coast of Georgia at the request of the terminally-ill, 99-year-old Josephine Warrick.  She gets involved in a mystery concerning heirs and lawyers and..it was a decent, easy read. 

By the Book by Julia Sonneborn -- Anne Corey is a professor at a liberal-arts college in California, she's hoping to get a book published so she can stay on teaching.  In the meantime, she is startled by the news that her ex-fiancé is the new president of the college!  Pretty good story, light reading. 

A Fierce Radiance by Lauren Belfer -- I enjoyed learning more about the creation of penicillin while reading this novel.  It was especially weird, however, to read about people dying from scratches on their knees since I was (still am) sporting four boo-boos on my left leg. (One from a hike at Grandfather Mountain, and three from, uh, missing the last step outside the other day.)  So there I sat reading about people dying from things like a cat scratch or tripping on a sidewalk while jumping rope, and I was thinking how very blessed I am to have medicines available to help me.  Pretty interesting story of Claire, the photographer for Life magazine during World War II, and the doctors and scientists who were looking for cures for medical problems. 

Pearl in the Sand by Tessa Afshar -- a novel look at Rahab, the lady who was saved when she hid Israel's spies when the Hebrews were preparing to attack Jericho.  A pretty good story, an easy read, and it had some good reminders to me about God's holiness and mercy.

 ETA this book because I finished it at 10:30 PM before September began. So . . .

The Broken Road by Richard Paul Evans - book 1 in the trilogy I mentioned above; this gives more of the backstory of Charles James, the guy walking Route 66 in book 2.  Charles talks about his growing-up years and how he met his wife Monica - and what drove them apart.  

Monday, July 30, 2018

July Books

Island of Bones by Imogen Robertson -- another book in the Westerman Crowther mystery series; this one has the twosome plus Mrs. Westerman's young son Stephen, traveling to the north of England to the place Mr. Crowther grew up.  A skeleton was found in a grave - an additional body - and the pair are asked to solve the mystery.

These Healing Hills by Ann Gabhart -- an easy read.  This book is about Francine, a nurse midwife, who left her home in Ohio to work among the mountain people.  She is warned not to get too close to them, but that's hard for her to do. 

Ties that Bind by Marie Bostwick -- these Cobbled Court Quilts novels are often good to read at parks or the children's museum while the kids are visiting.  So, when they both came to visit, I checked this out of the library.  And it was a good read while I kept one eye on the kids.  This book focused more on Margot, the quilter friend who never married, and was celebrating her fortieth birthday at the beginning of the book. Also, the reader is introduced to the new pastor in town, Philippa.  I enjoyed this book; it was sweet.

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware -- I read this mostly because my friend Amber started a new blog and she's discussing it a few chapters at a time. It was an exciting read!

The Other Alcott by Elise Hooper -- an interesting story about a less-famous Alcott sister, May, who pursues art lessons in Europe. I got this from my Amazon Wishlist.  Pretty good story.

And After the Fire by Lauren Belfer -- When Susanna Kessler's uncle dies, she finds a Bach composition among his papers, along with a note about how her uncle killed someone after the war (in Germany) and came into possession of the composition.  Told from today through Susanna and expert consultants, and through how the composition came to be in that house in Weimar. 

Bread of Angels by Tessa Afshar -- a novel about Lydia, seller of purple, from the book of Acts (chapter 16).  An interesting way to learn more about Lydia's possible life

Circle of Shadows by Imogen Robertson -- the final book that my library has in the Crowther-Westerman murder mysteries; this time the pair travel to a fictional place in the German Kingdom after Harriet's brother in law is held in connection to a murder

Roamin' & Restin' Wtih the Roamin' Man of the Smoky Mountains by Wiley Oakley -- we bought this at the Clingman Dome gift shop recently.  It was neat reading about this man's experience growing up in the Smokies, and of his travels in some areas we are familiar with (LeConte, the Chimneys, Gatlinburg, Sugarland, and so forth).  But they left everything as he wrote it so you get sentences like this:  "I dident want the dog to wool the opsam or chew it for the sent would git in the dogs nose and then he couldnt smell very good."  (pg. 90)

Let Them Eat Cake by Sandra Byrd -- a rather cute, easy-to-read book about the Francophile Lexi as she tries to get a dream job after graduating from college.  She ends up working in a French bakery.  This was a nice read after a few heavier books. 

The Second Sister by Marie Bostwick -- Lucy is in the final stages of a presidential campaign when this book opens.  Her sister Alice keeps calling in the middle of the night, to talk, make plans for Christmas, to invite Lucy home to Door County, Wisconsin.  Soon Lucy ends up back home and rediscovers people she left behind when she departed this rural area after high school.

This Rock by Robert Morgan -- I've read several books now touching on these characters.  This one spoke in alternate voices of Muir and his mother, Ginny.  Both describe Muir's rocky relationship with his brother Moody, and his zeal to make something of himself in this mountain community.  I'm always left amazed at how hard these people work!

To Die For by Sandra Byrd -- a story of Anne Boleyn as told from her friend Margaret "Meg" Wyatt (whom in the Author's Note, it was noted that Meg was really Anne, but she didn't want to use Anne to avoid confusion so... Meg).  I've read a few historical fiction books about Anne Boleyn so it was good to read another even though much of her story is familiar. 

The Road Home by Beverly Lewis -- an easy read about Lena Rose's parents' sudden death and the splitting of her and her siblings. Lena Rose is offered a sewing position in her father's cousin's house, but it's 500 miles away from her siblings in Michigan. 

The Bride's House by Sandra Dallas -- the story of three women from three generations - Nealie, Pearl, and Susan.  Mothers and daughters who lived in the Bride House there near Denver, Colorado. I liked this book.

Friday, June 29, 2018

June Books

The Plum Tree by Ellen Marie Wiseman -- I've now read all three books that my library has from this author, and I like her. This book is somewhat the story of her own family. Her mom grew up in Nazi Germany, and the author depicted what an ordinary German family had to go through. Not everyone supported Hitler, but they suffered regardless.  I hate to think of people being drafted to serve that monster!  It gives a look inside Christine's family as they struggle through the war as Germans who do not support Hitler, but still must serve in the army and struggle to survive. 

The Lady and the Unicorn by Tracy Chevalier -- a very clever story behind these tapestries!  At first I wasn't so sure about this Nicolas des Innocents, but I grew to enjoy this story. I liked reading chapters by so many of the characters.

Brass Ring by Diane Chamberlain -- After Claire tries to talk a suicidal lady from jumping off a bridge, she starts having flashbacks that bring her pain. Meanwhile across the country in Seattle, her estranged sister Vanessa - whom she hasn't seen since their father took Vanessa with him when their parents divorced thirty years prior - struggles with her own demons. A rather interesting book.  I believe I have now read all the books by this author that my local libraries offer.

The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet by Colleen McCullough -- Rather odd, rather interesting at times...an amusing ending. This is the story of the Bennet sisters about 20 years after Darcy and Elizabeth married.  Mrs. Bennet finally dies and Mary is free from taking care of her mom.

Laura Ingalls is Ruining My Life by Shelley Tougas -- an easy read about a 12 year old girl who moves to Walnut Grove, MN, where her single mom tries her hand at getting inspiration from Laura to write about a girl on the prairie.  Charlotte takes us through her time of trying to fit in at school.  Pretty cute.

Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda --  After the loss of her first child due to the fact she was a girl, Kavita vows this will not happen again.  When she gives birth to another daughter, she tricks her husband and takes the infant to an orphanage many miles away.   Back in the US, a couple struggle with infertility and look into adoption.  This story speaks of life in both India and California; a pretty interesting look at one couple's struggle and one adopted daughter's outlook on life. 

Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters  -- a friend sent this to me for my birthday; it's an Amelia Peabody mystery which kept me entertained while at the beach and while Zach was playing nearby at the splash park yesterday (6/11) and hopscotch park today. I finished it there. 

Through the Heart by Kate Morgenroth -- this story is told with alternating voices of Nora, a thirty-something back home in Kansas, living with her ailing mother, and Timothy, the rich, progressive New Yorker (utterly a shallow jerk in my opinion - at least for much of the story.)  I chose this book because it looked short and easy to read, and it was.  And for the most part, I enjoyed it even if I didn't like Timothy much at all.

Child of the South by Joanna Catherine Scott -- Eugenia returns home to Wilmington after the Civil War; she tries to find out more about her true mother. Was it her father's wife - or a slave they called Tilde?  This story also talks about black people influencing the North Carolina constitution and being elected into the government. 

The Sea Before Us by Sarah Sundin -- The first in the Sunrise at Normandy series; this is the story of the "Wren" Second Officer Dorothy Fairfax, and a Texan named Wyatt Paxton who meet in London. Both make plans for the Navy's strategy off the coast of Normandy.

Instruments of Darkness by Imogen Robertson -- I enjoyed this book about a Mrs. Harriet Westerman in Sussex, and her rather reclusive neighbor, the local anatomist named Gabriel Crowther and how they joined forces to solve murder mysteries!  I see a couple more books featuring these two so I will check them out of the library soon.

The Promise Girls by Marie Bostwick -- I decided to take a break from her series and try this stand-alone book.  The Promise sisters -- Joanie, Meg, and Avery -- were famous in their younger years as their mom exploited their story (some of the first babies conceived via IVF); years later they deal with the aftermath of the fact that they didn't end up as the gifted artist, writer, and pianist as their mother Minerva had envisioned.  A pretty good book. 

They Did it with Love by Kate Morgenroth -- When her husband Dean asks her to consider moving to Greenwich from NYC, Sofie surprises him by agreeing right away.  In the "country" Sofie is invited to join Priscilla's book group - a group that read mysteries!  When one lady in the group is found hanging, Sofie puts her detective skills to work trying to figure out if the victim's husband is to be blamed.  I enjoyed this book!

Anatomy of Murder by Imogen Robertson -- another Westerman-Crowther murder mystery. This time they are in London where Mrs. Westerman's sailor husband is recovering from a terrible blow to his head while serving his country.  Harriet and Gabriel are asked to look into the murder of a guy from the theater who may be part of a spy ring.  (This takes place when the rebels across the Atlantic are fighting for independence from England.)

The Seakeeper's Daughters by Lisa Wingate -- While Whitney is struggling to keep her restaurants in Michigan open, she gets news about her stepfather being hospitalized so she travels to the Outer Banks in North Carolina where she deals with memories and family secrets.  Pretty good book. 

Thursday, May 31, 2018

May Books

The Mapmaker's Children by Sarah McCoy -- a neat look at the work of Sarah Brown, daughter of abolitionist John Brown who was hung in (now) West Virginia prior to the US Civil War.  It also follows the story of the contemporary couple Eden and Jack who move into a house where the Browns stayed at one point.  A pretty good book. 

Necessary Deception by Laurie Alice Eakes -- sometimes I try new authors hoping that I'll discover new books that I like. This book just didn't hook me into this Daughters of Bainbridge House series.  This story focused on the eldest daughter, 26-year-old widow Lydia, who is in London trying to get her younger sister married off after her Season.  Lydia becomes involved in some spy mission, and it just wasn't that great to me. 

The Truest Pleasure by Robert Morgan -- another good story by this author. This time it's told from the perspective of Ginny who grew up in the mountains and worked hard with her family.  This book had one of the saddest endings to me. 

Appalachian Trials by Zach Davis -- "a psychological and emotional guide to successfully thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail"; Andrew mentioned this book which I put on my Amazon Wishlist, got for my birthday, and read.  Nothing amazing, but an easy read.

Beneath a Prairie Moon by Kim Vogel Sawyer -- Helena Bingham runs a matchmaking service in Massachusetts. When over a dozen men from a Kansas town request brides, she decides to travel there with her assistant, Abigail, with hopes of teaching these men some manners and how to treat women properly. What an adventure awaits! I saw this on the new books list online and requested it since I've read all the others by this author.

The Widow's War by Sally Gunning -- It took me a few pages to get into this story, but once I did, I really enjoyed Lyddie's war on 1791 patriarchy in Massachusetts.  After her husband dies in a boating accident, she shows us how her status changes as a widowed woman - and she wars with the status quo. Kudos!

Counted With the Stars by Connilyn Cossette -- My mom read this book which she checked out of the library.  It's somewhat the story of the 10 plagues on Egypt (by God through Moses) and the story of the Hebrews leaving Egypt as told from the perspective of an Egyptian slave who left her home country with these children of Israel. It's book 1 in the "Out From Egypt" series.

So Far Away by Meg Mitchell Moore -- such a cute book by an author I'd not read before; The story alternated between the voices of 50-something Archivist in Massachusetts and a 13 year old girl who was researching her family tree for a school project.   I enjoyed this book. 

Words Unspoken by Elizabeth Musser -- After her mother is killed in a car accident, Lissa struggles to move on with life. In an attempt to do that, she takes driving lessons from Ev McAllister, and befriends him and his wife, Annie.  The story also involves the mysterious anonymous novelist, S.A. Green, a stock broker named Ted, and an Italian man in the US working to make money to help his family.  I liked the reminder of forgiveness and being careful of those voices in our heads, especially those that condemn. 

The Housemaid's Daughter by Barbara Mutch -- Set in South Africa near the time of apartheid, this story is about Ada, the daughter of a handmaid, and her Madam Cathleen.  Told from the perspective of Ada mostly; this was a pretty good book. 

Shadow of the Storm by Connilyn Cossette -- second book in the "Out From Egypt" series; this one focused on Shira, the Hebrew friend of the main character in book one.  The story takes place during the year they were living at the foot of Mount Sinai after their escape from Egypt.

Birds in the Air by Frances O'Roark Dowell -- I saw this on the new books list online and signed up to read it. It was a very easy read, pleasant, with a decent message.  Emma and her family left Chapel Hill, NC, to move to a small (fictitious) mountain community where they struggle a little to fit in.  Emma finds a quilt in one of the trunks that were left in the attic of the house they bought to fix up.  I looked up several quilt patterns that were mentioned in this book. 

The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth  -- A neighborhood in Australia filled with interesting characters. You think your neighbors' lives are normal and nice, and yours is not?  Well, you never know what is going on in that family next door. This book follows the lives of Essie as she struggled with PPD, and Fran through her manic-jogging routine. What is she hiding from her husband?   And what's with this new neighbor, Isabelle, coming into the 'hood with no family?   Easy read; I enjoyed this one.

Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China by Jung Chang -- I got this book for Christmas from an old blogger/Facebook friend, and I decided to start it on my birthday.  I wasn't sure if I'd like it, but I wanted to read it to learn more about this lady.  It took me three weeks of reading off and on - at least a little every day - and I finished it the morning of May 20th.  Not everything was super-interesting, but for the most part, I really enjoyed this look into China's past, and into the life and cultural events surrounding this era of China.  Cixi is an interesting lady. I like that the book has several pictures, as I enjoyed looking at certain people mentioned throughout the book.

Wings of the Wind by Connilyn Cossette  -- might as well read book 3 in this Out From Egypt series since it's there at the library. This one dealt with the Hebrews as they were taking the land from the Canaanites.  Alanah is a Canaanite woman captured during a war with the Israelites.  Pretty interesting story. I liked this one better than book 2, and it may be my favorite of the three in this series. 

The Arrivals by Meg Mitchell Moore  -- that summer when all your adult children - ok, there are just three of them - come back home for various reasons. One with his pregnant spouse, and one with two little children.  Things just got busy and messy and loud! 

The Rest of Her Life by Laura Moriarty -- While calling someone on her cell phone, while driving, with a stray dog that she and her best friend had just picked up, Kara hits and kills a schoolmate in a small Kansas city.  This book deals with the immediate and few-months-later aftermath of that. 

Best Staged Plans by Claire Cook -- I was in a local library recently (not my usual one), and saw this book. Looked like a small, easy read which it was.  Professional home stager Sandy Sullivan gets a staging job and heads to Atlanta to stay with her daughter and son in law for about a month.  Haha...her daughter has to go back to Boston (where she grew up) for training so Sandy has to stay with her son in law while her daughter goes to stay with her dad and brother.  It was a pretty cute book.

The Martian by Andy Weir -- I received this for my birthday, and decided to start reading it on Andrew's birthday (5/18) - a little per day because I wasn't sure how I'd like it.  I admit some parts made my eyes glaze, but over all, it was a rather cute, interesting book. I liked Mark's sense of humor and his BRAINS as he figured out how to survive life on Mars. Oh, his crew thought he was dead after a piece of equipment impaled him, but somehow he survived that only to find out his companions had had to abandon him on Mars.  I read quite a bit of this while Sophie played at area parks and museums during her recent visit, but I finished it last night (5/26) before bed.  The author is a big ol' nerd who figured out all this physics and math stuff - incredible!

What She Left Behind by Ellen Marie Wiseman -- Izzy is a 17 year old, starting a new school after being transferred to a new foster family. Clara is a young lady from years ago. She didn't obey her father as he wished so she was committed to an asylum until she can straighten up.  Two story lines; an interesting book. I liked this one though it's disturbing! Some people should never have children.

One Perfect Lie by Lisa Scottoline -- I went into the library hoping to find a couple of good reads and saw this one in the new book section. I see there are many books by this author, but I'd never read her before. But this was pretty good.  Chris Brennan is the new AP Government teacher and assistant baseball coach. But his identity and backstory is a lie. He's trying to get close to certain kids to pump them for information. What's up with that?  Does he have criminal intent? 

Brave Enemies by Robert Morgan -- this is a "novel of the American Revolution" featuring Josie under the guise of Joseph Summers joining up with a ragtag band of rebels. Josie didn't seek out a group to fight with, but after her family life is messed up, she ends up in Cowpens, SC, fighting the British. 

Monday, May 28, 2018

Dirty Girl

Sophie came for a two-week visit recently, and we had a great time going to area parks and museums.  We've been under a humid air mass for nearly the whole last three weeks, and perhaps that contributed to this.

Let's take a moment to appreciate the way a sweaty Sophie attracts sand.  It's caked on her!

She didn't want me to take a picture

...so I zoomed in for this one

She played hard, and fell asleep on the way home.  Before I got her out, I took the opportunity to take a few close-up pictures.

Isn't she precious? 

Pictures from The Hopscotch Park* on May 21, 2018

* Beth Schmidt

Friday, May 4, 2018

Family Letters from China

Several months ago my mom gave me a small manila envelope that had my grandmother's handwriting on it.  It said "Inf. on Dan's Mother;" Dan's mother being my great-grandmother Prudence Ruth Cooley Truax who died in 1930 at age 28.  She'd given birth to her fourth child, her first daughter, a couple of days prior.  My grandpa - the one I called Pop - was just four when his mom died.  Pop is the smiley little boy below, pictured with his parents and older brothers, David and Carlton.  (Pop was born April 8, 1926, so this picture was probably a bit later that year.)

The envelope had some interesting things which I wanted to photograph and share with family members partly because the paper is so thin - and what if I lost the letters somehow? 

If you are interested in reading Edgar Allen Truax's letter to his mom, about his wife's death, here you go.   I think if you click on the pictures, you can read it better.

Also, another family member wrote this about her burial. Apparently Prudence's mother wrote folks back home (I'm thinking "back home" was Iowa) with this information.

This was written on the outside of the above (2nd) letter.  

Finally, a wedding announcement for Pop's mom and dad's marriage.