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

Thursday, December 31, 2020

December Books


Things We Didn't Say by Amy Lynn Green -- I wasn't sure at first if I'd like this book since the story was told by letters and newspaper columns, but it ended up being pretty interesting. Johanna returns to her hometown in order to be a translator at a German POW camp. The prisoners are there to help farmers with their crops, and Johanna has to translate for the Germans as well as censor their letters if necessary. Pretty cute story.

A Life Once Dreamed by Rachel Fordham -- After finding out a shocking secret surrounding her birth, Agnes left her life in Buffalo for the Dakota Territory where she's lived 6 years and taught the area children. When a new doctor comes to town, Aggie is stunned to find it is the sweetheart she left back east. An OK story; pretty good. I thought the part about scarlet fever and quarantining was interesting in these covid-19 times.

Island of Lost Girls by Jennifer McMahon -- While at the store one day, Rhonda watches someone dressed up in a bunny costume lure a little girl away from her car. This book was a bit bizarre at times, but fairly good in a weird way.

The Invitation-Only Zone by Robert S. Boynton -- "the true story of North Korea's abduction project;" this was one of Bridget's recommendations from last year that I got for my birthday or last Christmas and finally took the time to read. I am not overly-familiar with this region of the world, but found the background and information about the abductees interesting! I'm still not exactly sure why these people were targeted, but the explanations provided make some sense.

An Everyday Hero by Laura Trentham -- An ok book about Greer Hadley, thirty years old, forced to do community service at a music rehab place near Nashville, Tennessee. She helps out a teenager who lost her military father, and also rides out to meet Emmett Lawson, who is also suffering due to his military experiences.

Murder on Cold Street by Sherry Thomas -- another book in the Lady Sherlock Series. This time Sherlock Holmes with the help of his clever sister, Charlotte, and her companions are asked to help in the case of Inspector Treadles as he is charged in a double murder.

Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty -- This book features triplets - Lyn, Gemma, and Cat - and the adventures of their 33rd year. Pretty cute story.

The Paris Hours by Alex George -- Snippets of the lives of an Armenian puppet maker, a maid to Marcel Proust, a struggling artist, a novelist with dreams of America, but who must stay in Paris because of his search for someone - a lovely book.

Foreign Correspondence by Geraldine Brooks -- I am more familiar with this author's late husband as I've read most of Tony Horwitz's books in recent years. But I've read a couple of her books as well, and saw this non-fiction book was available at my library. I enjoyed reading of her growing-up years in Sydney, Australia, especially since I met my Aussie/Greek relative Kos about three months ago. It was interesting reading the author's version of events and thinking, "I wonder what Kos would say about this." The two of them are not very far apart in age, though he is an immigrant to Australia (arriving as a baby from Rhodes) whereas in Geraldine's case her American-born father is the immigrant. (Her mom's family is Irish Catholic in case you were curious.) Geraldine writes of wanting to learn more from pen pals in the US, Israel (a Jew and an Arab there), France, and even a girl on the nicer side of Sydney. Later in life, she travels to find these friends or their families.

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline -- I've read a few novels about orphan trains, but somehow had never read this one. Niamh comes to NYC from Ireland hoping for a good life for her family, but after a fire, she is sent to Minnesota where she's taken in by a couple who want her to work (sew) for their business. In more current times, Molly is part of a foster family and has to do community service at Vivian's house where she's helping the 90-year-old sort through her attic. Good story. 

The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette by Carolly Erickson -- The author pretends that Marie Antoinette kept a diary starting when she was 13 years old up until her demise. Pretty interesting way to learn more about this historical character, even if most of it was made up.

The Night Sister by Jennifer McMahon -- There is a bit of a creepy factor to this book about Rose and her older sister Sylvie, growing up at a motel in Vermont before the highway came through and ran them out of business. The books flips from Rose and Sylvie's childhood to Rose's daughter Amy and her two friends Piper and Margot; to modern times when Amy is thought to have killed her family and Piper and Margot investigate. Pretty good story.

Amy and Isabelle by Elizabeth Strout -- This author writes in a folksy, intimate way...I detected this in her other novels which I read this year. This book dealt with single mom, Isabelle, and her teenage daughter Amy. Pretty good story.

For Such a Time by Kate Breslin -- It took me a while to get through this book. Not because it's heavy; just I read it during the Christmas season and I kept getting distracted. This is like a modern-day (well, World War II) telling of Esther, but instead of the story of Haman and his plot to kill the Jews, it was a story of a ghetto and a young Jewish woman. Pretty good story.

Blue Monday by Nicci French -- first in a series starring psychoanalyst Frieda Klein of London. In this book her client's dream of a son sounds eerily like a recent kidnapping. Frieda shares her concerns with the local police detective and ends up getting involved in the case to find the little red-haired boy. 

A Good American by Alex George -- Frederick and Henrietta called Jette leave Germany for America after they do something that disgraces Jette's family. While they had thoughts of New York in mind, the only ship sailing from Bremen was headed to New Orleans. There the family meets folks who lead them towards Missouri where they chance to settle down in a little place named Beatrice. This book is told by Frederick and Jette's grandson James; a pretty good tale by this British-born author to end the year 2020.

Monday, November 30, 2020

November Books


Everything You Want Me to Be by Mindy Mejia -- When a dead body is discovered in an abandoned bar, Sheriff Del Goodman is horrified to learn his best friend's daughter was the victim of a murder in this small southern Minnesota town. Hattie had been a popular high school student, a smart person and an actress. Pretty good story.

A Mosaic of Wings by Kimberly Duffy -- Nora Shipley is nearing the end of her college years at Cornell where she's the only female scientist studying entomology. While her stepfather presses her to meet someone and get married, Nora is itching to earn the scholarship in order to get her master's degree and later take over her late father's scientific journal. Pretty good story. I like the part when Nora joins a team researching in India.

The Fiction Class by Susan Breen -- Arabella is teaching a class on fiction writing; in this book we meet her students, and also tag along for her trips to visit her mother in a nursing home. Pretty good story.

The One I Left Behind by Jennifer McMahon -- A suspenseful book about Reggie and the disappearance of her mother over 20 years before. When her mother suddenly reappears, Reggie returns to her hometown to take care of her (her mom's dying) and to get some answers about the murderer dubbed Neptune. Pretty good story if you like this sort of thing.

Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man by Mary L. Trump, Ph.D. -- I saw this in the library's online catalog a couple weeks ago, and when I went to pick up a library hold, this one was included. I started reading it the day Joe Biden was declared the winner (yay) of the presidential election. This is a somewhat interesting tale of the Trump family through the eyes of Donald's niece. She is the daughter of Fred and Mary Anne Trump's oldest child.

Defending Hillsborough by Clarissa Thomasson -- An OK story about a couple who ran the Orange Hotel and Tavern in Hillsborough, NC. My mom read this one recently and recommended it. It was a rather simple story of Henry and Sarah and their children in the years leading up to and through the Civil War.

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell -- This story alternates from Vanessa in 2017, and Vanessa 17 years prior when she attended a boarding school when she was fifteen years old. Her English teacher makes her feel really special, so special that 17 years later - during the Me Too movement - Vanessa still can't call what he did to her, rape. Because she feels like she had the power; that he was weak.

Last Day by Luanne Rice -- When Kate discovers that her younger sister Beth has been murdered, she does her best to figure out who did it, and why. Meanwhile detective Conor Reid is on the case. A pretty good story.

House of Correction by Nicci French -- A fast-paced story about Tabitha Hardy who ends up in prison because a neighbor was found dead in her shed. Her lawyer wants her to agree to a plea deal, but Tabitha is not guilty - at least she hopes not! - and wants to represent herself in court.  I've never read a book by this author - actually it's a husband and wife team so "these authors" - but I might read more of them eventually. Pretty good book.

The Hypnotist's Love Story by Liane Moriarty -- Back and forth between the hypnotist Ellen, and her new boyfriend's ex-girlfriend, Saskia, who stalks Patrick. Pretty good book. I tend to like this author and her characters!

We Came Here to Shine by Susie Orman Schnall -- Max and Vivi meet while both ladies are working at the World's Fair in New York in 1939. Max works at the Fair's daily newspaper while Vivi is the star of the Aquacade. Pretty interesting story.

I'd Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman -- Eliza receives a letter from Walter Bowman, the man on death row for murdering a teen girl when Eliza was 15. Walter wants to reconnect with Eliza, the girl he held captive for nearly 40 days that summer. Pretty good story.

Mr. Nobody by Catherine Steadman -- A pretty good book by a new-to-me author, an actress from North London. This psychological thriller features Dr. Emma Lewis who is called to her hometown in order to work with a patient who washed up on the shore and doesn't have any memories. Or is he faking it?

The Night Swim by Megan Goldin -- I read a book by this author earlier this year which I enjoyed, and this was quite different, but still good. There were a few things I took issue with because the author set the book in a fictitious coastal town in North Carolina, and maybe her research is way better than what I know about my state (which is probably true), but there were a couple things about certain trees that made me take notice. (Do we have fir trees and lemon trees that grow on our coast? We might, but in my mind fir trees = higher elevations, and lemon trees = a bit more tropical climate than we have here.  But I've never lived on the coast so what do I know?) But the author is based in Melbourne so I'll give her a pass. There were a few typos that I caught, but that would be more of a proofreader problem. Besides all that, the story itself was enjoyable. Rachel Krall does a true crimes podcast, and instead of visiting older cases, in this series she's covering a rape trial because unlike murder (which tends to not be quite so controversial in the public's eye), rape is more controversial. Did she give consent, but just regret that she agreed to have sex? It's more of a he said-she said thing.

The Cinderella Pact by Sarah Strohmeyer -- Cute, light read about three heavy-set friends, Nola, Deb, and Nancy who read the advice of Belinda Apple, the popular British columnist, and decide to lose weight together. Well, each lady has her own way of doing this, so it's not like they are together together. Nola is a fashion editor and, well, this book was a fun read - especially after reading books about murders and rapes this month!

Burntown by Jennifer McMahon -- A bit different, but overall a good book about Eva aka Necco when she lives on the street. When folks close to her are murdered, Necco is eager to find out who is after her. Luckily, she has Theo and Pru to help her. 

The Last Bathing Beauty by Amy Sue Nathan -- Betty Stern was left with her grandparents when she was four, and has helped run their resort in South Haven, Michigan. Now she's experiencing her one last summer before she leaves for New York City where she hopes to finish college and eventually become a fashion editor. Alternating between Betty of that summer in 1951, and Betty of decades later - when she's in her mid-80s - this book is about remembering the past and enjoying friendships that last. Well, sort of like that. Pretty cute book.

The Grace Kelly Dress by Brenda Janowitz -- Several of the books I'm reading now were on the New Books shelves of the library when I went in there recently. I thought I'd pick up some smaller fiction books to read over Thanksgiving week, and this was one of those. It was just ok. It wasn't terrible, but none of the three storylines really connected with me. Parts of each were a bit interesting, but when the book was done, I was just like "eh, not sure I'll read this author again."

The Happy Camper by Melody Carlson -- an OK book; fairly cute, but not overly-exciting. Dillon breaks up with her long-time boyfriend, quits her job, and moves back to central Oregon to care for her grandpa and figure out what to do next. Surprisingly her mom has also moved into grandpa's house and Dillion is stuck sleeping on the couch. Until...her grandpa gives her an old camper that his friend left for him when he died. Dillon enjoys fixing up her camper and such.

Sunday, November 1, 2020

October Books


Happy & You Know It by Laura Hankin -- After being replaced in her band, Claire licks her wounds and accepts a job as a musician for a playgroup full of wealthy, perfect mothers in New York City. Alternating between the perspectives of Claire, Whitney, Amara, and Gwen, this book tells more about their experiences.  Pretty entertaining story!

The Bedford Boys by Alex Kershaw -- I don't usually read a lot of war books or watch war movies, but Bedford is a small town in Virginia that Andrew and I have passed through several times on our way to hike at the Peaks of Otter. We had noticed all the memorials to their World War II heroes, and when we stopped at their nice visitor's center this summer, we decided to get this book to read more about "One American Town's Ultimate D-Day Sacrifice." I don't know that I've read a book with as much dread since I knew ahead of time that these guys who mostly just joined the National Guard in order to make a few dollars for their families, were killed. Many of them were in Company A, which landed first on Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944. As the book alternated between the boys in the service, and folks waiting back home, I shed a few tears at this great loss.

It's Always the Husband by Michele Campbell -- Aubrey, Jenny, and Kate were freshmen roommates at Carlisle and became close. Twenty years later, one of them is urged to jump from a bridge where someone died during their college days. A pretty good suspenseful book alternating between the ladies' perspectives.

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty -- Imagine yourself at your Friday spin class, you fall and bump your head, and wake up thinking it's ten years ago. That's what happened to Alice in this book only ten years ago for her was 1998. She can't remember the turn of the millennium, no remembrance of 9-11, she can't even remember her children!  Good book; I love the characters!

The Violets of March by Sarah Jio -- After Emily's husband leaves her for another woman, she travels to Bainbridge Island in Washington to visit her aunt, in a place where she spent summers in her younger years. Aunt Bee welcomes her, and soon Emily is interested in reading the journal from someone named Esther who wrote it in the 1940s. It's a bit of a mystery: was this Esther real or was this a novel someone started writing? Pretty good story.

The Spies of Shilling Lane by Jennifer Ryan -- After getting demoted from her job with the Women's Voluntary Service, Mrs. Braithwaite decides to visit her daughter who is doing some job for the war effort in England. Mrs. Braithwaite arrives at her daughter's boardinghouse to find out she hasn't been seen in a few days. Thus, the search for Betty and her involvement in spying and such. Quite the cute book with loveable characters such as Mrs. Braithwaite and Mr. Norris.

The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks -- The story of David as told from the viewpoint of Natan (Nathan), the prophet. I knew much of this Bible story, but it was still an interesting perspective. 

The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine -- a pretty good story about two women: Amber and Daphne. When Amber "accidentally" bumps into Daphne at the gym, the women bond over their shared experiences of losing sisters to cystic fibrosis. Amber finagles her way into Daphne's life and gradually lands a choice job as the personal assistant to Daphne's handsome and super-rich husband.

The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer -- Alice's life is busy with a gifted child and another child on the autism spectrum, but when her beloved Babcia asks her to go to Poland to solve some mysteries, Alice takes the trip. Alternating between Alice's life today and her grandmother's life in Poland during the German occupation... well, this is a pretty good story!  And I love that bits of the author's family inspired it.

Deep in the Alaskan Woods by Karen Harper -- I often enjoy this author's historical fiction books (particularly The Royal Nanny), but this book left much to be desired. Alex left her home in Chicago, fleeing an abusive fiancé who happens to be her boss. She meets up with her twin cousins, Megan and Suzanne, who run a B&B in Alaska, and I just thought it was kind of cheesy. But I did finish it.

The Sixes by Kate White -- While recovering from a plagiarism charge, Phoebe Hall is teaching at a small university in Pennsylvania where her good friend from boarding school is the president. Glenda or Dr.Johns asks Phoebe to look into a secret sorority rumored to be vandalizing property and up to no good. When one young lady winds up drowned in the nearby river, Phoebe wonders if the two are somehow connected. Pretty good suspenseful-type book.

The Yellow Bird Sings by Jennifer Rosner -- A little girl, Shira, has to hide in the barn loft of her mother's former customer because German soldiers are on the prowl in their part of Poland. Later Shira's mom is faced with a choice of giving up her daughter to a Catholic orphanage or continuing the hiding which is tough on a five year old child. A good story!

The Silence by Susan Allott -- Alternating between 1967 and 1997, this book tells the story of Isla who left London to return to her home in Australia after her alcoholic father is questioned in a missing-person case. The lady had been missing for 30 years before someone looked for her!  Mandy's husband struggled with his role as a police officer who had to remove Aboriginal children from families as part of a racist project. Pretty good story.

Kindred Spirits by Sarah Strohmeyer -- Years ago, Lynne, Carol, Beth, and Mary Kay met at the end of a PTA meeting and bonded over martinis. When Lynne dies after a long illness, the other ladies fulfil Lynne's request to go through her things, and there the ladies find a message from Lynne asking them to find someone from her past, which they attempt. Pretty good story.

When We Were Young & Brave by Hazel Gaynor -- great book! I loved the setting at the China Inland Mission School where British, American, Dutch, Australian, and other English-speaking children studied while their missionary or diplomatic parents did their work. Things changed when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and suddenly these students were considered enemies to the occupying Japanese forces. This is told mostly in the voices of a teacher, Elspeth Kent, and her student, Nancy, as they faced the years together. I really enjoyed this book!

Hush by Kate White -- a fast-paced, suspense story about Lake Warren, a marketing consultant who uncovers possible unethical practices at the fertility clinic she's working for. Also, a guy she's interested in winds up dead. What's going on?

Daughter of Rome by Tessa Afshar -- A fun look at ancient Rome when Priscilla and Aqulia of New Testament fame meet, and later serve the Church with the apostle Paul.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

September Books


The Dutch Wife by Ellen Keith -- When Theo and Marijke are arrested by Nazis for their work in the Dutch resistance and sent to work camps as political prisoners, Marijke vows to do whatever is necessary in order to survive and be reunited with her beloved husband. Karl is an official at the camp where Marijke is imprisoned.

The Other Bennet Sister by Janice Hadlow -- At just over 450 pages, I wasn't sure I would continue this book if it didn't grab my attention in the first 100 pages, but it did and I really enjoyed this story of Mary Bennet!  The first bit dealt with Mary living at home with her nuclear family, and later as she lived with various relatives. Cute story!

Behind Every Lie by Christina McDonald -- Eva Hansen wakes up from being struck by lightning and discovers her mother has been murdered. Her fingerprints are at the house and the police suspect she is involved. Unfortunately, Eva's memory from that night is gone. While looking at her mother's house, she discovers a note about her birth and Eva heads from Seattle to London, looking for clues. A pretty good book.

Outsider by Linda Castillo -- the second Kate Burholder mystery that I've read recently; this time Gina, one of Kate's friends from when she first left her Amish community, comes back into Kate's life after Gina is on the run from dirty police officers. Pretty good story.

The Wife Who Knew Too Much by Michele Campbell -- oh good, I found another suspense author, and I liked this book. It alternates between the voices of Tabitha, a struggling waitress in rural New Hampshire, and Nina, an ultra-rich, famous woman fearful that her much-younger husband is plotting to murder her for her fortune.

If I Were You by Lynn Austin -- Eve and Audrey were good friends growing up even though Eve was a servant girl in Audrey's house. They grew apart for a while, but the war brought them together again. This book delves into some of that and a bit of the story in the US where both women end up after the war. Good book!

The Book Charmer by Karen Hawkins -- I wasn't sure about this book at first thinking it would just be a little filler book between other good books, but it was rather charming on its own. Sarah Dove is the youngest of the seven Dove sisters from a small mountain town in North Carolina. Dove Pond, NC, has seen businesses shuttered and folks leaving for bigger areas like Charlotte and Asheville. Sarah is the town librarian and like the other Dove family members she's a little quirky. Grace is a former foster child who brings her troubled niece and her beloved foster mom, Mama G., to Dove Pond after a couple of unfortunate events. Pretty cute story.

The Wife Stalker by Liv Constantine -- This book alternates between the voices of Piper who has assumed a new identity and started a new business in Connecticut after fleeing her past, and Joanna who is determined to cheer Leo and make him love her and the kids, Evie and Stelli.  A pretty good story!

Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier --  After 14 years of hiding her best friend's murder Geo is sent to prison for five years. Meanwhile the guy involved in the murder is sent to prison for life. After Geo's time in prison is over, she's disturbed to learn of new murders in the area, similar in many ways to the ones committed years ago. Pretty good story.

The Chilbury Ladies' Choir by Jennifer Ryan -- My mom read this recently and recommended it. It was a collection of journal and diary entries, letters to friends or relatives, a somewhat different way to write a book perhaps, but it was a very enjoyable story of a small village in England during World War II.

One By One by Ruth Ware -- The book alternates between the voices of Erin, who works in a French chalet. She is hosting a tech group for a few days; folks from an app name Snoop. The other voice is Liz, a former worker at Snoop and a minority shareholder reluctant to be among her super-hip, former co-workers. A suspenseful book and pretty good, too!

The Gilded Lady by Elizabeth Camden -- Book 2 in the Hope and Glory series; this one focused on another of the Delacroix siblings, Caroline, who works as the secretary for First Lady Ida McKinley. This was a fun way to learn more about this First Lady from Ohio and also about the secret service's role in protecting presidents. Pretty good story.

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson -- a great story about Cussy Mary or Bluet who works for the Pack Horse Library Project in Kentucky. She traveled her route through the mountains to take library materials to her patrons. These women (mostly) were fascinating. Also, Cussy Mary is a Blue which is why some called her Bluet. But many on her route dubbed her "the Book Woman."

Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson -- a pretty good tale about a bookstore owner, Malcolm, who is contacted by an FBI agent, Gwen, who is looking for someone murdering people according to an old blog post Malcolm wrote about the perfect murders. An easy, entertaining read if you like this sort of thing.

An Ivy Hill Christmas by Julie Klassen -- Richard Brockwell reluctantly leaves his home in London to return to Ivy Hill where his mom has matchmaking on her mind. Many favorites from past Ivy Hill books make their appearance in this novella. Kind of weird to read a Christmas book in late September, but Christmas IS just three months from today as I type.

Children of the Colossus: The Rhodian Greek Immigrants to the United States by James W. Kiriazis -- Usually this book wouldn't hold my interest as I can't imagine why I'd want to read about Rhodian Greeks in two US cities - Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, and Warren, Ohio. However, since I'd made a connection to the Kiriazis family through my DNA, I have been wanting to read this textbook about James Kiriais's community. Why? Because I'm probably his biological granddaughter, and I figured why not read his book to learn more about this culture that makes up my DNA? I'd given up on buying this book online as it's out of print, and no one seems to have it for sale. Thankfully after talking to a DNA Match in Australia (Kos), I was motivated to reach out to my friend Myrna who works at BYU's library, and she was helpful in suggesting that I check with my library in case they were part of the interlibrary loan program. They were! And the lady from my local library was able to put out a request. Duke University immediately said "no," and Martha told me I might not be able to get it since it's a reference book and some libraries are still closed due to the coronavirus. Over a week went by before she wrote back. I was expecting an update, but didn't expect an email that it was HERE in Alamance County, on loan for four weeks from the University of Georgia! I picked it up Friday, September 25, so I could start reading it over the weekend, and I finished up today (Monday, September 28.)  I took notes on the 8 chapters which I sent to my Rhodian friend/relative and he is discussing them with me by email. Note to self:  The notes are saved in my Gmail folder under Kos's name in case I want to reread them later.

The Clergyman's Wife by Molly Greeley -- This is dubbed "A Pride & Prejudice Novel," and it indeed includes the Bennets, Mr. Bennet's heir, and Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Charlotte is eager to escape the life of a spinster so she's happy to make the acquaintance of Mr. Collins whom her friend Elizabeth Bennet rejected as a marriage partner. A marriage with him means Charlotte is set as the future mistress of Longbourn. This book takes place before that time when Charlotte, Mr. Collins, and their daughter Louisa live in Kent where her husband is the clergyman. Charlotte visits the tenants and has special friendships with a few. This book was pretty good although it left me feeling some sadness especially where Mr. Travis is concerned.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

The New Me (according to Ancestry DNA updates)

The other day one of my friends posted her new Ancestry DNA updates, and I didn't even know that had happened so I went to Ancestry AND FOUND IT WAS TRUE!!


So I looked to see if I had changed in the past two years, and I did.  I'm just going to post screenshots of the new me.





my parents







my aunt





and Andrew.  


Things to save

 For my own safekeeping in case this computer crashes.  Documents I've saved to my computer for various reasons.

Monday, August 31, 2020

August Books


Strands of Truth by Colleen Coble -- This book was a murder/thriller type without the real scary aspect which was fine. It wasn't as good as some books of this type, but not too bad.  I think some of the characters are from past series as I noticed LOTS of them by this author. In this book Harper meets her half sister, Annabelle, after a DNA test matches them. Both ladies have a mystery surrounding the deaths of their moms. Also both women are suddenly being sought by someone with sinister motives.

The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold -- Bridget and her mom both recommended this book last year, and I got it for my birthday. Although much of the book is speculation based on social norms and "what people often do in these situations," a lot of it is fact-based due to all the research on census forms and registers. I enjoyed learning more about this interesting period in history. I noted the soldiers' lives and their women (pg. 77), abstinence from drink pledges (pg. 109) and how sex workers were checked by local officials for syphlllis and other STDs (pg. 148, among others.) There was lots more in the book, but for some reason I noted those pages.

Liberation by Imogen Kealey -- I read a book about Nancy Wake a few months ago, so this was a nice surprise to open up to read it and discover it talked about her some more. Since I'd read the earlier book, I knew most of what would happen, but it was a nice refresher course. She was a brave lady! I admire how she did things despite her fears and the many obstacles in her way!

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah -- an interesting look at the Kenai Peninsula area of Alaska in the mid-70s! Leni's father came home from Vietnam a changed man. The family was never able to settle in one place for long until one day when the Allbright family is informed about a bit of land and a cabin left to her father in a remote area of Alaska. The family moves there, and learns how to be Alaska Tough (which all that was rather fascinating to me!). Leni's father continues to struggle with nightmares especially in winter when they only get a few daylight hours each day. A good story!

Officer Clemmons by Dr. François S. Clemmons -- This is a memoir by the man who played on the popular children's program Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. He discusses a bit about his childhood in the South, and their relocation to Ohio to escape his father. He also talks a lot about his music education and career, his friendship with Fred Rogers, his experiences as a black man and a gay man.  (I'm listening to him sing Swing Low, Sweet Chariot on YouTube as I type this.  He loves old Negro spirituals.)

The Wrong Man by Kate White -- When Kit hooks up with a stranger while she's in Key West, she never knows showing up at his apartment in New York for a second date will be an extremely disturbing experience. The guy who answers the door and answers to the name of the guy she met in Florida is NOT the same person! Somehow Kit ends up involved in some mystery where two people are murdered.

Until the Mountains Fall by Connilyn Cossette -- book 3 in the Cities of Refuge series; In this book Rivkah is betrothed to her late husband's younger brother who is two years younger than herself, but she doesn't want to marry Malakhi because she remembers what a teasing, troublesome child he was. When her friend Nessa decides to flee the city to escape her own betrothal, Rivkah joins her. What awaits them in Laish, and beyond?

Mrs. Lincoln's Sisters by Jennifer Chiaverini -- a somewhat interesting look at Mary Todd Lincoln and her family through the eyes of her sisters - Elizabeth, Frances, Ann, and Emilie. It went from present (to them) time to flashbacks when Abraham Lincoln was a rising political figure. Several parts were quite a good way to learn about his character.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty -- this book centered around a kindergarten class and their parents. A new kid in town, Ziggy, is accused of bullying at kindergarten orientation and that rep follows him and his mom, Jane, as they try to make friends in town. Madeline believes Jane, whereas other powerful moms circulate a petition to get Ziggy thrown out of kindergarten!  Another good story from this author!

Before I Let You Go by Kelly Rimmer -- I felt like I'd read this book before because so much of it seemed familiar, but I checked my blog and my paper list of books I've read and didn't find it. And there were enough new things in it, but wow, there must be a very similar story out there. It was somewhat predictable (as are many books), but it was a good story about doctors who are engaged, and Lexie's sister Annie calls her when she's having trouble with her pregnancy. Annie hadn't told her sister she was pregnant. Not only is she pregnant, but she's been taking about a gram of heroin a day. Poor baby having to get off that stuff. This is a very touching book and would probably be very sad for readers especially if you know someone struggling with drug addictions.

Like Flames in the Night by Connilyn Cossette -- final book in the Cities of Refuge series; Tirzah gets a role as a spy for the Hebrews; meanwhile Liyam vows to avenge the death of his little girl who was run over by a trader. A look at what that area might have been like during the time of the Judges.

The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis -- I like how this author tells the story of an interesting building - in this case the New York Public Library - by creating a cast of individuals to make it come alive. Laura Lyons lives in the apartment within the library with her husband and two children. Laura's desire is to become a journalist, but in 1913 it's a tough career for a married mother. In more contemporary times, Sadie works at this library where her great grandmother lived. When a series of book thefts happen on her watch, she delves into her family's past to learn more about them and their former home - the library.

The Boy Who Followed His Father into Auschwitz by Jeremy Dronfield -- using Gustav Kleinmann's cryptic diary, his son Fritz's short memoir, plus many other sources, the author shares a gripping tale of this father and son from Vienna who survived over 5 years in concentration camps. I was amazed at their resourcefulness and found it interesting to learn about life within the camps, kindnesses that kept them going, yet I was once again saddened by the evil of many Germans and other people at that time who thought that this cleansing was acceptable and needed!

Shamed by Linda Castillo -- I decided to try this author, and enjoyed this suspenseful novel which takes places in Holmes County, Ohio, among an Amish community. The chief of police is a former-Amish lady, and Kate Burkholder is trying to figure out who committed a gruesome murder of an Amish grandmother, and took a seven-year-old girl. 

Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid that Sparked the Civil War by Tony Horwitz -- Unlike most of his books, in this one the author doesn't mix history with his present travels, but tells the story of John Brown. While I missed the Tony aspect of the story, he really kept my attention sharing intriguing facts about John Brown, his family, his beliefs, friends, supporters, and so forth. Good story. I still hate that Tony Horwitz died last year, as I really enjoy his books. I think I've read most of them now. My library didn't have this one, so I got it for my birthday.

East Coast Girls by Kerry Kletter -- Blue, Maya, Renee, and Hannah were best friends in high school, but after a tragedy, the girls have had a hard time staying connected the last twelve years. When Blue informs Maya of her grandmother's plan to sell the family cottage where the girls used to go each summer, Maya wants to recreate those wonderful days one last time.

Monday, August 3, 2020

July Books

The Return by Rachel Harrison -- Elise's friend, Julie, was gone for exactly two years before she reappeared. Most everyone thought she had died after disappearing from a hike, but Elise had a gut feeling that her best friend was alive. Elise, Julie, Mae, and Molly agree to reconnect at a resort and Julie's appearance shocks the other friends. Strange things keep happening at the hotel, with the staff's disappearance, and this book takes a really weird turn. I liked it OK, but then it just got a bit too weird for my tastes.

Little Secrets by Jennifer Hillier -- A parent's worst nightmare - Marin's son is kidnapped while they are at a crowded market days before Christmas. As she works through this nightmare, the private investigator she hired finds out that her husband is having an affair with someone named Kenzie. Marin gets advice from her best friend, Sal, on what to do about Kenzie. Meanwhile Kenzie is trying to see how she can advance her status in life with her rich, married boyfriend. Sounds terrible, I know, but it was actually an interesting story if you like this sort of thing.

The Half Sister by Sandie Jones -- most all the books I've read recently are New Books that I put online at the library pre-covid shutdown. Most were still On Order, but have come in in recent weeks so I have had lots of holds arrive...and most of them are decent. I read two from this author earlier this year, and this was pretty good as well. It begins with Kate and Lauren with their families visiting their mom for the traditional Sunday lunch. Kate is struggling with getting pregnant, and Lauren is struggling with her bully of a husband. What else does the family need than a knock on the door with a young lady claiming to be their half sister (thanks to a DNA match on an ancestry site.)  Kate thinks there is no way that her beloved father had another child while Lauren doesn't seem surprised. 

The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty -- I've found another author whom I enjoy a lot! I've only read two of her books, and am happy that more books exist so I can get to them eventually. In this story Cecelia finds a letter her husband wrote for her to open in the event of his death. Initially she abides by his wishes to not read the letter, but when he returns home from America and she finds him rummaging in the attic for the letter, she decides she better take a look. This puts her in a bind as to what to do about his secret. Meanwhile Tess has come home to Sydney after her husband and favorite cousin have surprising news. Also, Rachel, the school secretary, deals with her emotions after her daughter was killed over two decades ago. Interesting story and characters!

The Blue Cotton Gown: A Midwife's Memoir by Patricia Harman -- I really enjoy her fiction midwife stories, and this was similar except it was her own story! Really interesting tales. I got this for my birthday, but it was late coming and then I got to reading a bunch of library books, finished all that I had of those, and decided to read this until the library reopened today (July 6). Good book!

Transcription by Kate Atkinson -- Pretty good story though I had a little hard time following it at times. I saw someone at the local library recommend it so I checked it out. I really like the main character Juliet Armstrong and how she sees the world. She gets a job with MI5 during World War II, and this story follows that as well as ten years later when she runs into some of her former coworkers.  I may check out more from this author.

Eyes on You by Kate White -- Another fast-paced suspenseful novel; Robin is part of a hit TV show focusing on celebrity news and a little bit of crime. She and her co-anchor, Carter, have that spark that makes it a ratings success. Robin is stunned when nasty notes and mean things start happening to her. Is someone at her workplace out to get her?  And if so, why?

Truths I Never Told You by Kelly Rimmer -- Beth struggled to get pregnant, and now that she has a sweet little boy, she struggles with feelings of not wanting to be a mother. Or, rather, that she can't parent him properly. While cleaning out her father's house, Beth comes across notes from her mother, and learns more about the woman who gave birth to her, and died when Beth was a small girl. A good story.

Dead to Her by Sarah Pinbrough -- about a third of the way through, I wished I hadn't read this book because there were just some things I didn't like at all (I have my own level of ick factor in books), but I kept reading because I really wanted to find out what happened. And the rest of the book was decent enough that it was redeemable in the sense that I liked the bit of mystery (whodunit) if not the activities of certain characters. Keisha is the new foreign second wife fresh in the South from London. Margie notices how all the guys are attracted to her because she's stunningly beautiful. Margie is jealous that Keisha is after her husband, but then Jason asks her to become friends with Keisha in order to influence Keisha's older, super-wealthy husband.  And it goes on from there. 

The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd -- Have you ever wondered if Jesus were married? And if so, what was his wife like? And how was he as a husband? This book delves into this a bit with the story of Ana, a product of the author's imagination. It was interesting looking at Jesus's life through her own perspective, and not always from a front-row seat as you may expect.

Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia -- When a young man turns up after disappearing with his father ten years ago, he is taken to a psychiatric hospital where Maya Stark is asked to help him "find his voice."  As a former resident and later orderly, and now speech therapist, Maya is determined to help Lucas. Lucas finds Maya fascinating, and she connects with him in ways no other staff are able. What happens when she finds out that Lucas's dad is still in the Boundary Waters forest - and in desperate need of help?

The Alchemist's Daughter by Katharine McMahon -- the story of Emilie who grew up in a very scientific household with her father training her from infancy to be a thinker. Later her head is turned by a visitor to her family's estate, and, well, her time in London with her husband Aislabie is a learning experience since she'd never been out of the country. A pretty good story.

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty -- This book goes back and forth from present day to The Day of the Barbeque where something happened to forever change the lives of Erika, Oliver, Clementine and Sam, Tiffany, Vid and their children.

The Lost Orphan by Stacey Halls -- When Bess gives up her infant daughter, she vows to one day come back for her little Clara. Six years later, when Bess has saved what she thinks she owes the Foundling Hospital for caring for her child, she learns that someone took home her daughter the day after her birth. That someone signed Bess's name and address, and Bess has no idea where to find her child! Meanwhile Alexandra's story is told, how she came to care for Charlotte. Pretty good story.

Murder at the Mansion by Sheila Connolly -- Kate is drawn back to her hometown by her former best friend who calls asking Kate if she can "save" the town. She is intrigued by the Barton house and while there discovers a murdered lady on the doorstep. This book was decent enough, but not super-exciting or interesting. I might read more in this series just to see what becomes of the town. (It's a Victorian Village Mystery, in case I need to find that information again.)

March by Geraldine Brooks -- Have you ever read Little Women and wondered more about the girls' father. In this book the author imagines life for Mr. March as he serves as a chaplain for the Union during the Civil War. Pretty good story.

Something Needs to Change: A Call to Make Your Life Count in a World of Urgent Need by David Platt -- quite often Andrew has me pick up books for him at the library and this was one he finished last week. I had finished my final library book so I decided to read this one before picking up the book the library had on hold for me. It was a good challenge from this pastor as he hiked in the Himalayas with a local person who worked with the various villages to meet needs. In the book we were introduced to a man who lost his eyeball due to an infection that could have been easily treated in many places in the world; we "met" villagers who sold their daughters to sex traffickers, and even a few followers of Christ. I appreciated the pastor's prayer in his journal where he asked God to "teach him what that means."  "That" being how to love God with all our hearts and minds and how to love others as God called us to do (see pgs. 82-89).  Around page 97, I appreciated the reminder to come to God boldly in prayer and how privileged we are to have Someone love us and care for us so that we may come to Him for our many needs. Page 158 reminded me that it's not easy to be a Christian in many parts of the world. No one there followed Christ because it was "culturally acceptable to be a Christian, and not one person is here because this is the most comfortable way for him or her to live." They knew it was a sacrifice, made things hard, and often cost them their families, yet they wanted to follow Jesus.

The Lost Husband by Katherine Center -- After her husband dies in an auto accident, Libby and her young children, Abby and Tank live a couple years with her mother before "crazy Aunt Jean" invites her and the children to live in the Texas country on a goat farm. Eager to get away from her mom, Libby decides to give it a try. Not only does Aunt Jean not believe in carbs (except for her whole-wheat pancakes), she doesn't own a television! Libby learns how to milk goats and make cheese, and has hairy O'Conner, a neighbor, to help her learn the ropes. Pretty cute story; an easy read.

Friday, July 31, 2020

More 2020 Sadness

I was nearly at Aldi around noon today when I got a call from my mom. Usually we text so I figured she had more information she wanted to share than she had time or inclination to type.

Unfortunately, it was the sad news that my dad's sister, my aunt Dorothy, had died while at the dentist this morning. She was a few weeks shy of 71.

Five of the 6 siblings at a birthday party - July 2020

I don't know all the details or even if this part is correct, but what Mama told me is that Dorothy was in the dentist chair, said she couldn't breathe, then had a heart attack. They tried CPR, but couldn't bring her back.  (In all this, I feel so bad for the dentist staff as well...that had to be so hard for them!)

Hard to believe my aunt is now with Christ! I was with my dad on Monday when he called her and I heard her because my dad likes to talk with his phone on speaker sometimes. I'm glad of that now since I was able to hear her. She was frying squash, and they chatted about 5 minutes or so.

My dad checks on his siblings nearly every day - whether by a brief call or text.

The officer who came to my parents' house - after first calling - said that they found my dad through Dorothy's cell phone contacts, and he looked to be the one she chatted/texted with the most. And the one who said "I love you."

Indeed my dad got to looking at their last texts - which were from last night, and Dorothy ended it with an "I love you," and he replied the same.

My aunt was widowed several years ago, and my dad made sure if she didn't have food that day, he'd drive to her house with food! He'd have my mom fix her things, he'd fix her things, he'd take candy and ice cream. I remember he said she really enjoyed butter pecan. And also Tootsie pops (suckers).

She had just been at my parents' house, in the driveway, yesterday as my dad had some food for her. She'd even bought a watermelon for herself and brought half for my dad. She text to tell him she made it home safely, and later that night that it was lightning. Those were among their last words to each other. 

Little did anyone know, within 10 hours or so, she would be gone from this life.

I've comforted myself today thinking of her happy, pain-free, welcomed to heaven by her loving grandparents and husband, Bobby - who called her "Red." They both were red heads, but I remember Uncle Bobby calling her Red.

I have probably posted some of these pictures before, but I wanted to share them again, on this post dedicated my aunt, Dorothy, on her Home-going day.

I updated my Ancestry family tree and it was really somber adding her to it, and having to add 31 Jul 2020 as her date of death.

2020 continues to be a tough, tough year.

( I was going to caption some of these pictures, but Blogger has changed and made it so much harder to add pictures or captions. Thanks, Blogger!)

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

June Books

July is upon us! What a year so far!

Letters From Home by Kristina McMorris -- a decent story about several young people during World War II - it actually had about 4 main characters - Liz who was asked to write a letter for Betty who ended up joining the WAC; Morgan who went to war with his brother Charlie, and Julia who was torn between an internship and marriage.  Not my favorite story, but parts of it were interesting if not a bit predictable.

Come Home by Lisa Scottoline -- I think I've now read all of the fiction books that this author has written. My library had them all. In this one, Jill Farrow, a pediatrician, is involved with her former stepdaughter's father's death. The former stepdaughter thinks her dad was murdered, but Jill is skeptical. Abby asks Jill for help which causes Jill to delve into her ex's life, and it's pretty exciting. Good, fast-paced book.

Code Name Hélène by Ariel Lawhon -- an interesting story about Nancy Grace Augusta Wake, the New Zealand born, Australian woman who worked with the French Resistance during World War II.  Good book; fascinating leader!

The Split by Sharon Bolton -- I enjoyed learning a bit about ice (glaciers) as part of this story takes place on South Georgia, where Felicity Lloyd has taken a two year assignment with hopes that her ex-husband, Freddie, won't find her in that remote Antarctic island. The other part of the story takes place "nine months prior" to the earlier chapters when Felicity is attending therapy sessions with her therapist Joe, back home in Cambridge. Pretty good story; a bit different.

The Most Dangerous Things by Laura Lippman -- five neighborhood children in Baltimore had fun together for a short time in their youth, but then something happened that no one wants to talk about. This book is a mix of voices from the children (now adults), their parents, and flashbacks to what happened that summer when everything changed.

You and Me and Us by Alison Hammer -- Alexis and Tommy head to Destin, Florida, with their daughter CeCe soon after Tommy's cancer diagnosis. He wants to spend his last summer in the place where he grew up, and where he met Lexie all those years ago. I knew this would be a sad book from the get go as it addressed two of my biggest fears in life: letting go of a beloved parent and partner in life. Pretty good book.

(So, I recorded this book last night - June 14 - and woke up to shocking news that a high school acquaintance/Facebook friend died yesterday. He had had surgery recently due to his Crohn's disease, but he posted a few days ago that after 14.5 days, he was headed home. He was so excited to see his 8 year old daughter and wife again. He had mentioned his daughter really missing him. And now he's dead and Lacy is without her father in her life and Jennifer is widowed. I have cried off and on all morning. Tommy wasn't a close friend, but he was well-liked and caring and I enjoyed his Facebook posts. My sister and her family went to church with him all these years, and he was always cheering on the church kids. In recent years he'd even taken on the role of getting the Christmas program planned since the older lady who had done that for years wanted to step down. He was the librarian at a local public high school in the "bad" part of town, but you never heard those words from him. He loved his "kids" there and like most of the rest of us, hated that this school year ended without proper goodbyes and rites of passage. He will surely be missed in so many places: home, church, school, community.)

Unyielding Hope by Janette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan -- Lillian Walsh is preparing to follow her father to Wales after the death of her mother, but she gets sidetracked when a solicitor tells her that her birth parents' estate needs to be settled - and that her sister whom Lilly thought dead for years is alive! After tracking down Grace, the sisters help children who had been taken from England to Canada, and had less-than-ideal experiences with those who were supposed to make these children, family.  A decent story.

The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate -- an ok book about a formerly enslaved woman Hannie who ends up following her former mistresses' daughter and their adventures. That part was OK. I liked the modern part with Benedetta's struggles to teach her students in a low-income area of Louisiana, and how the past and the present(ish) came together. Not my favorite of hers, but good enough to keep me reading to the end.

Being Known by Robin Jones Gunn -- book 2 in the Haven Makers Series; this one focused more on Jennalyn, mother of 2 young children, whose husband Joel is super-busy with his restaurant. An easy read; good reminder of the importance of friendships.

The Queen's Secret by Karen Harper -- "A Novel of England's World War II Queen" ; I enjoyed learning more about Elizabeth Bowes Lyon, later the Queen Mum, in this book.  I'm not so sure about the secret part, but learning more about the royals in this way was pretty good.

Death of an American Beauty by Mariah Fredericks -- I've read a couple others of her books about the elderly Jane Prescott, former ladies maid who saw things and solved mysteries in her younger years. This one took place when Rutherford's Department Store was getting ready for its yearly Miss Rutherford's pageant (thus the American beauty part of the title.) These are easy reads, and pretty cute books.

Miss Austen by Gill Hornby -- I wasn't sure I'd finish this book by the end of the month, but I did with a few hours to spare! This book focused on Jane Austen's sister, Cassandra, though Jane was featured as Cassandra reflected on their years together. Pretty good story. 

Sunday, May 31, 2020

May Books

Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus by Lois Tverberg -- I think Amazon recommended this book "how a Jewish perspective can transform your understanding" based on things I've looked up in the past, and I put it on my Wishlist and got this book for Christmas. I enjoyed some chapters very much; "Painting in Hebrew," and "Greek Brain, Hebrew Brain" and the two or three after that were my favorites.

Toute Allure: Falling in Love in Rural France by Karen Wheeler -- I read book one from this lady and enjoyed it more than I thought I would so I put two more books by her on my Amazon Wishlist and got this for my birthday. It was interesting to read more about this Englishwoman's life in a small village in rural France, the friends she makes, the people she meets, the line dancing she ends up practicing with folks she meets there, and her life with Biff, the dog, and dealing with her super-loud Portuguese neighbors.

Smokescreen by Iris Johansen -- this is a book my mom checked out before the library closed for covid-19, and I don't think she ended up reading it, but I did. It was ok, nothing great. Eve agrees to go to Africa in a ruse to reconstruct skeletons of children who were murdered in a massacre near the Congo. Once she gets there, the real reason that Jill and Novak wanted her there is made known. Will she stick around to help despite the trickery? Not my favorite "thriller."   (And, yay, the library announced on Facebook today (May 6) that they will restart curbside pickup of books on Monday, May 11!)

The Midwife of Hope River by Patricia Harman -- finally I read book 1 in this midwife series because I got this for my birthday; great story introducing us to Patience Murphy and her background. I enjoy these books!

Tout Soul by Karen Wheeler -- This book starts with Karen rushing back to her small village in France to meet up with her boyfriend (introduced in book 2) only to find things have changed. In this third book which is "the pursuit of happiness in rural France," we learn more about this Englishwoman's life as an expat. Fairly entertaining if you like reading this sort of thing...and since I read books 1 and 2, I'm glad I went ahead and got this one as well.

My Husband's Wife by Jane Corry -- I've read a couple books by this author that my library had, but they didn't have this one so I got it for my birthday. It was a pretty good story about Lily and Ed in England, and their neighbor Carla, the 9 year old who struggles in school since she's different (she's Italian and the kids bully her.)  Later in life Carla comes back into their lives and what a tale that turns out to be. When the book starts, Lily is headed to prison to represent a convict who is appealing his sentence (of murdering his girlfriend by pushing her into scalding bath water when she was drunk.)

Stitches in Time by Suzanne Woods Fisher -- the library is back open for curbside pick up and this was a book that was waiting for me from a few weeks ago when I put it on hold. I accidentally read book 3 before this one, and I didn't really enjoy book 3 very much because there was stuff that didn't make sense. I hesitated to read this one, but I actually enjoyed it and now wish I'd read the books in order. Anyway, this Amish community helps the local foster children by taking in some older children for a couple months. I know several foster families so this one was a good read.

Assad Or We Burn the Country by Sam Dagher -- "How one family's lust for power destroyed Syria." This book was recommended by Bridget and her mom, and I got it for my birthday, started it that day, and finished it today (May 14). Interesting tale of the Assads and the Syrian conflict in the last few years, and some of the history of the family as they rose to power.  I wish so much that this book ended with Bashar and Asma's demise. God willing, one day.

A Long Way From Home by Connie Briscoe -- A story about enslaved women (mostly) on the James Madison plantation and later as Susan is sold to another house in Richmond, Virginia. An interesting story through the eyes of enslaved women.

The Runaway Midwife by Patricia Harman -- Usually her books take place around the Great Depression era, and I thought this was part of that series. Instead it's a modern book about a nurse-midwife who leaves her practice and disappears onto a small Canadian island and takes on another identity. I didn't like this book as much as her others, but it was still good.

No Rest For the Dead by 26 authors -- I ordered this book from the library thinking it was one of the two Lisa Scottoline books I had left to read. Instead I found out it's a book by 26 authors each one writing a short chapter or two in this mystery concerning a lady who some say was wrongly executed 12 years prior. The lead detective is among those thinking an innocent lady was put to death. An OK story; pretty good, but not the best. 

The Rose of Sebastopol by Katharine McMahon -- Mariella travels to Crimea in search of her cousin Rosa, who left to nurse British soldiers wounded in the conflict. A pretty good story.

The Moonshiner's Daughter by Donna Everhart -- Jessie Sasser's mom died in a moonshine accident when Jessie was 4. Jessie grows to resent the family business, but she's at odds with her dad, brother, aunt, uncle, and cousin who all get the good things "shine" money brings to the family. Pretty good story.

Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler -- this was an easy read which I read in a couple of hours; it's about the Tech Hermit, Micah Mortimer, who is visited by his college girlfriend's son and his woman friend faces eviction. Micah is used to routine and these things disturb his routine. Rather cute, simple story. Reminds me of similar stories written in recent years about people on the autism spectrum.

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout -- at first I was confused about this book as it seemed disjoined, but when I finally read that it was a collection of short stories, it made a bit more sense. I do like how it portrays Olive as "ferocious and complicated and kindly and sometimes cruel. In essence, [she is] a little bit of each of us," according to the author in the last pages of this book (see author interview, pg. 276).

The Secret Orphan by Glynis Peters -- this book started out rather well, but fell apart for me in places. I struggled with Elenor being with her aunt, housekeeper Victoria and her odd husband "for years" in a couple places in the book, yet Elenor later was back on her farm fixing to turn 20 when she'd just turned 19 while living with her aunt. Also, I felt like the end was just the author couldn't figure out how to end things so it all wrapped up in a few pages. Which is OK, I guess as I was ready for the book to end. It wasn't a bad book; it just could have been better.

The Other Woman by Sandie Jones -- Emily is thrilled to meet Adam and within months they find a flat together. Unfortunately as Emily and Adam plan their wedding, Adam's mom, Pammie, makes things very difficult. Why does Pammie dislike Emily so badly? A pretty good thriller.

Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout -- another Olive book, and I'm glad I read her earlier one to see who Olive was. This is like a sequel to her other book, but written over a decade later. I grew to really like (and somewhat understand) Olive in the first book, and this book was similar in style. I also noticed some characters from other books by this author (the Burgess siblings, Isabelle and Amy) which was kind of neat. One chapter of this book had me like "eh," and then other chapters had me crying as a lady struggles with cancer treatments and Olive deals with getting older and missing folks.

Have You Seen Me by Kate White - before the library shutdown, I had put a bunch of their new books on hold online, and this is one of the first from that batch that finally came through. Several others are still On Order. I picked up this suspenseful book the other day and decided to read it first since it's new and others might want to read it. It was a good, fast read, and I enjoyed the mystery and suspense of it. Ally is shocked to realize she walked into her old workplace thinking she was back from vacation or somewhere, but she'd not worked there in five years. Come to find out, she can't remember a couple days of the last week, and she wonders what caused her to disassociate with her life: did she have an argument with her husband? And was that bad enough to cause this? Did she witness something horrific? Even worse, did she do something terrible?

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Book from Bill

My dad knew he had a book that his Air Force friend Bill gave him when the two were leaving the base where they had become friends. In this book is the most thoughtful inscription. I typed it up because it's hard to read these pictures, and I wanted to keep the words in memory of William H. Zahrndt, my dad's friend.

To David B. Fuqua, a unique and exemplary man in every way, as a token of my esteem, I give this book to you and the very act of giving it becomes a salutation for all that you are.

Never in the Air Force or in civilian life have I met one with such admirable qualities and traits which I, frail human that I am, have tried and failed to achieve. You are living proof that the goals I sought can be attained.

Thus, knowing you has served, in a rather unorthodox manner, as an inspiration to me.

(continued on back flyleaf)

While some may show scorn or derision for your dedicated and sometimes ascetic manner, I can only praise you for it.

All your admirable qualities, e.g., your incurable optimism, your patient and understanding manner,  your staunch resistance to worldly temptations and all the other outstanding traits with which your Creator has so richly endowed you, these I can only stand by and admire and, yes, perhaps even envy. But be that as it may, my only words of advice to you is to persevere and not be influenced by the ways of the crowd.

Knowing you has been a pleasure, an honor and yes, a privilege. May you continue to walk with God throughout your life; and most of all, as we have helped each other, may God help us both to attain the faith "to move mountains" and overcome the world as Christ did on the Cross.

Your war-ravaged
life-weary pal,

Friday, May 1, 2020

Selfies and USAF pics

Yesterday was my birthday, and I was a bit sad about not having Michael or Zach and Sophie around to take selfies with me as we've done occasionally in past years (not every year, but some.) I was walking around the property behind our house which belongs to Andrew's parents who live beside us, and enjoyed seeing these clouds from the west. They later gave us a half inch of rain, and we'd already had nearly 2 inches earlier in the day (thankfully, most of it in the wee morning hours so it didn't make the whole day rainy.)

I was in a bit of a silly mood and decided if the kids weren't around for pictures, I'd take some with the horse. Only I'm not really brave around animals so I wouldn't get super-close to Skip in case he decided to bite me. I did manage a couple, and was so amused by this one that I doctored it up with text and graphics, and shared it on my Facebook story.

When you hit the fire on your phone, it kind of sparked like you were getting burned which I thought was cute.

Thankfully, Sophie and Zach did call later, and Sophie stuck around for about 40 minutes of Messenger games and these: 

It was a joy to hang out with her! I miss taking her places and watching her interact with all the "best friends" she makes at parks and museums. 

I was visiting my parents today, and my dad showed me this picture of his Air Force friend from when Bill was back home in South Dakota after their military days. He's the one I mentioned a few posts ago. I took a close-up of the small picture in order to focus on Bill.

I also saw this newspaper clipping of my dad which I wanted to save and compare to the yearbook picture I found at Ancestry earlier this week.