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

Sunday, January 30, 2022

January Books


The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse -- This book was OK, but I didn't like the main character, an English detective-on-leave Elin who was at a remote Swiss hotel with her boyfriend. A murder (or more) happens, and Elin tries to help out since the local police can't make it to the hotel (which was an old sanatorium) due to an avalanche.

Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder -- Andrew read this book before the new year, and told me that I'd enjoy the history and story. Although I've read books about the genocide in Rwanda, this story focused on the conflict from Deogratias's, a Burundian who came to the United States, perspective. It told of Deo's first days in New York and had flashbacks to his story of growing up in Burundi, and the awful things he experienced when the Hutus and Tutsis fought. Pretty interesting book. It made me thankful for people like the Wolfs, a family who took in a refugee and believed in him, and for Deo's heart for his people in wanting to better their lives - whether they were Hutu or Tutsi.

Meet Me in Monaco by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb -- My library has other books by these authors so I looked to see if anything else was available and got this from my Amazon Wishlist. It's a "Novel of Grace Kelly's Royal Wedding" told from the perspectives of Sophie, a French perfume maker, and James Henderson, a British photographer. Pretty good story.

The Postmistress of Paris by Meg Waite Clayton -- Some parts of this book were interesting, while others were hard for me to follow, but mostly I liked this book okay. My favorite part was when 5 year old Luki was in a greenhouse of sorts, and a nice man gave her and her stuffed kangaroo an orange! Luki then pulled Joey (baby kangaroo, of course) from Pemmy (short for Professor Ellie-Mouse)'s pouch, the man grinned and gave her another orange! A delicious luxury in France during World War II.

Do I Know You? by Sarah Strohmeyer -- Jane blows her cover as a "super recognizer" with the NHS when she spots a young lady connected to her sister's disappearance over a decade ago. Jane is determined to find out what happened to her sister, and finagles her way to a vacation at Cape Cod where her boyfriend's prospective PhD advisor and his family crash their vacation. Fast-paced, pretty fun book!

The Secret Keepers of Old Depot Grocery by Amanda Cox -- Sarah is back living with her parents in Tennessee after her husband's untimely death. Meanwhile her mom, Rosemary, and grandma, "Glory Nan" are arguing about keeping the old grocery store running. A decent, clean book.

Madam by Phoebe Wynn -- Rose gets recruited to teach at an elite boarding school in Scotland, but soon finds this school isn't as rigorous in academics as she'd hoped. In fact, they seem to value preparing girls for marriage to Britain's elite rather than preparing them to take care of themselves. Women shouldn't have to be rescued by men in this day and age. But when Rose tries to fight the patriarchy, the tradition, she finds it's a really huge deal.

E.R. Nurses by James Patterson and Matt Eversmann -- Snippets from about 30 or so nurses from around the United States, some with more complete stories than others Some make you want more details and/or a completion. Pretty interesting!

You Never Forget Your First: a Biography of George Washington by Alexis Coe -- Not long ago Andrew and I were in the Asheville Mall, and it closed at 6 (it was a Sunday) so we walked next door to Barnes & Noble to look around. I often jot down books that I want to look up later to see if my library has them: it had them all. The author realized that most all biographies of George Washington were by men, and really stressed what a man's man our nation's first President was. She wanted to write from a woman historian's perspective, and her focus wasn't so much what a great general he was or what great thighs Washington had, but on other things. It's a much less-flattering, but probably more-realistic look at Washington using letters and such circulating way back then.

Dark Roads by Chevy Stevens -- New to me author; I saw this book among the New Books, and got it. After her father dies, Hailey lives with her aunt and cousin, and her aunt's new husband who happens to be the local police chief in a small town. He's authoritative, watchful, bullying, and creepy, and Hailey uncovers something that makes her want to flee. Meanwhile Beth moves to this area in order to look for answers after her sister Amber is murdered. More than a few times I was like, "wow, these young ladies are brave/incredible/impressive" because of their mad hiking and survival skills. I am super-wimpy and fearful by contrast.

River Road by Carol Goodman -- Nan is driving home from a holiday party when she hits a deer, but the next day when one of her students is found dead on that road, the police and community question whether she truly hit a deer. Was she driving under the influence and did she hit and kill her student? A pretty good suspenseful/mystery type book.

Of Bears and Ballots: An Alaskan Adventure in Small-Town Politics by Heather Lende -- This is the last of Heather's books that the library has, and this was probably my least favorite due to the subject. Not that I dislike politics; I just have gotten tired of the divisiveness, and I'm sorry it is the same way in Haines. I do enjoy reading about her life there, though.

Catch Me When I Fall by Nicci French -- This book drove me a little bit bonkers because the first part is so fast-paced following Holly's lifestyle. The second half of the book was better as Holly's best friend, Meg, took over the narration. An OK book. Not my favorite of these authors, but I'm trying to finish the rest of their books that my library has so ...  Only a couple left!

Don't Try to Find Me by Holly Brown -- Marley is just fourteen when she leaves her mom a note on the whiteboard in the kitchen asking her parents to not try to find her as she's leaving home. Told in alternatiing story lines of Marley and how her days post-leaving home are going, and her mom, Rachel's, days are going. Pretty good story.

Reckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins -- A murder mystery set on the rather creepy Meroe Island, a few-days boat ride from Hawaii. When Lux's boyfriend, Nico, is hired by two well-to-do young women who want to go somewhere off the grid, Lux is dubious, but agrees to join them for their two week trip. Instead of having the island to themselves, the girls find Jake and Eliza already there, and the six of them enjoy some boozy good times until things start to change. Fast-paced, pretty good story if you like these sorts of murder mysteries.

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane -- This book follows the stories of Francis Gleeson and his daughter Kate as well as the neighbors next door, the Stanhopes. Kate was best friends since babyhood to Peter, son of a fellow police officer Brian Stanhope.  A pretty interesting tale about Irish police officers, their families, and their lives in and around New York City.

The Last House on the Street by Diane Chamberlain -- An interesting story about Ellie who worked with SCOPE, an organization that canvassed black neighborhoods in order to register more black voters in the mid-1960s. This book alternated between the 1960s as Ellie volunteered to more present times when Kayla and her husband build a house in the wooded area near where Ellie grew up. A good story especially since so many Republican legislators seem to want to make voting harder for many folks.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

2021 in Review

 I used to do this most years, but got out of the habit. Niki's post reminded me and since I had time, I did it! 

1. What did you do in 2021 that you’d never done before?

got a bike as an adult
2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
didn't make any

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

sister-in-law had a baby boy in September


4. Did anyone close to you die?

my uncle died from covid, and his daughter died three months later (not from covid)


Miss y'all

5. What countries did you visit?


6. What would you like to have in 2022 that you lacked in 2021?

a visit to somewhere new, or somewhere I've not been in awhile

7. What date from 2021 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

September 19 - the day my uncle died

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

staying covid-free, I reckon



Pfizer #2


9. What was your biggest failure?

not maintaining friendships

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

nothing aside from small injuries like when I ran into a wall or the dishwasher door

11. What was the best thing you bought?

my bike

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

Sophie; she was determined to learn to swim and she did

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Many politicians and their followers

14. Where did most of your money go?

bills and the dehumidifier put under the house

15. What did you get excited about?

swimming with Zach, Sophie, and my sister because in 2020, we were swimless!

16. What song(s) will always remind you of 2021?

"Scars In Heaven" -- it was played during a lot of video tributes to people who died last year

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

i. Happier or sadder?

I'm  always sadder when I lose more family

ii. richer or poorer?

about the same

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

gone to more of the outdoor community concerts in Graham

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

worrying about the world and weather

20. How will you be spending Christmas?

We ate lunch next door with Andrew's parents, brother, his wife, and her dad. Later we went to my sister's house to hang out with my family.

Christmas 2021

21. What was your favorite TV program?

NCIS, I suppose

22. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

I don't think so

23. What was the best book you read?

I read over 200 books so it's hard to remember what all I read. I just skimmed through about five or six months of my books and remembered I liked these quite well. But there are others that were really good, too!

Radar Girls by Sara Ackerman

Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty

An Unlikely Spy by Rebecca Starford

The Last Green Valley by Mark Sullivan

24. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Our local meteorologist Christian Morgan posted this video of himself singing, and I really enjoyed it. His band is called Bantum Rooster.

25. What did you want and get?

 a bike

26. What was your favorite film of this year?

I think I watched one: Hidden Figures, and I enjoyed it! Great story!

27. What did you do on your birthday?

I looked at my calendar, and it must not have been anything out of the ordinary though my dad brought me some cheesecake or something like that.
28. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2021? 

29. What kept you sane?

prayer; family

30. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

I made contact with Heather Lende after reading two of her books. I didn't especially "fancy" her, but I enjoyed her writings.

31. What political issue stirred you the most?

probably the January 6th stuff; all of the "Big Lie" talk

32. Who did you miss?

after my uncle died, I really missed seeing his comments on Facebook

33. Who was the best new person you met?


34. Tell a valuable life lesson you learned in 2021.

Not all who claim to be pro-life want to inconvenience themselves enough to protect vulnerable lives, and not all who are pro-choice want to "follow the science" when it comes to abortion. There's a lot of hypocrisy and room for improvement among most all of us, but this topic just stood out to me in 2021.