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

Friday, June 30, 2023

June Books


Loyalty by Lisa Scottoline -- While I appreciated learning some Sicilian history, the fast pace due to short-ish chapters, and bits of humor, this book was chaotic and not a favorite. I wasn't sure how all these storylines tied in, and they did in the end somewhat, but I much prefer this author's contemporary books. Eventually I'd like to watch these videos from the author's trip to Sicily. I find the history kind of interesting, but the book just wasn't as great.

The Rooster Bar by John Grisham -- I got this from a Little Free Library at Southport over a year ago, and started reading it recently when I had finished all my library books and it was closed for Memorial Day. Three law school students realize they are so far in debt and their degrees from a bottom-tier school hold no guarantees of lucrative jobs - shoot, just over half of Foggy Bottom Law School students even pass the bar! So Mark, Todd, and Zola decide to just practice law without finishing all that.  Bizarre!

With My Little Eye by Joshilyn Jackson -- In order to avoid a stalker who has been harassing her, Meribel Mills and her daughter Honor move from Los Angeles to Atlanta where Meribel can continue her acting career in her home state. She broke up with her boyfriend before leaving LA, but finds out he is open to moving to Georgia to be with her.  Meanwhile, she meets her neighbor Cooper, and Honor makes her first friends in Georgia, Sheila and Xena. Pretty good.

Code Name Edelweiss by Stephanie Landsem -- This book follows Liesl Weiss who loses her job with MGM. In desperation to provide for her mother and children, she takes a job with the Jewish lawyer Leon Lewis who has watched Adolph Hitler's rise to power and influence spread to the California German community. Pretty interesting story.

Only the Beautiful by Susan Meissner -- An interesting look at eugenics in the United States, specifically California. Rosie is left orphaned and later finds she is pregnant which means she is sent to live in an institution where women are sterilized. Meanwhile Helen is in Austria as a nanny to a little girl born with deformities. Yet the Nazis don't want crippled people to be a burden on society.

Where Coyotes Howl by Sandra Dallas -- I really enjoyed this story of Ellen who answered an ad for a needed teacher so she left Iowa for Wyoming. She was thinking lovely mountain views would greet her, but instead she arrived in the prairie part of the state. Nevertheless, she's determined to stick it out, and meets Charlie, a cowboy who is infatuated with Ellen from the get go. This book follows their life together as they marry and seek to become ranchers.

The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown -- I liked this in some ways. Rose, Bean, and Cordy (ok, ok, Rosalind, Bianca, and Cordelia) grew up in a small college town where their father taught ... something Shakespearean. The family constantly quotes lines from Shakespeare to each other. Anyway, the girls are adults who find themselves back home, living together once again. Rose is trying to decide what to do about her wedding and where to live afterward; Bianca is wondering how her life in New York City led her back to this place, and Cordelia is wondering whether her days of living on the road are over. An OK book.

A Borrowed Dream by Amanda Cabot -- book two in the Cimarron Creek Trilogy; until last month, I'd last read a book by this author in 2017 and when the book last month mentioned Cimarron Creek and some backstory, I realized I had only read book one of this trilogy - and that was nearly 6 years ago. Because of this, I had forgotten most of the characters' stories, but this was still an easy read and a decent book. Catherine is a school teacher trying to help the new girl Hannah who arrived in town recently with her father Austin. Meanwhile Austin is trying to keep his past a secret as he and his little girl flee from some unsavory characters.

I'll Be You by Janelle Brown -- Sam and Elli are twins who acted in a few shows as teenagers, but have struggled some post-stardom. Sam wanted to keep acting, but found being an adult twin actor without the twin, a difficult transition. Elli never enjoyed acting and wanted to go her own way. The girls each tell her side of the story. Pretty good.

Two Wars and a Wedding by Lauren Willig -- Betsy is such a great character. I love how she stands up for herself in a world that thinks women should be librarians rather than out on an archaeological dig. Why not both?  This book is based on two women during the time of the Spanish-American War. You'll find Betsy in Greece, Cuba, and on a ship en route to New York. Pretty good story.

The Housemaid's Secret by Freida McFadden -- A fast-paced story about Millie who was hired by the Garrick family - the husband actually since his wife is always locked inside the guest bedroom supposedly because she's got a chronic illness. When Millie believes Wendy is being hurt by her husband, she tries to help.

One Last Secret by Adele Parks -- A pretty interesting mystery-type book told from the perspective of Dora, an escort/sex worker in London. When one of her clients asks her to pose as his girlfriend during a trip to southern France, Dora feels she can do this one final job before she quits the business to marry her best friend, Evan.

I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon -- Anna Anderson reveals her current status and tells her story - flashbacks to when her family was taken as prisoners in Russia and later when she made her way out of her country. Oh, and yeah, she's trying to prove that she truly is Anastasia Romanov.  Is she?

Red Letter Days by Sarah-Jane Stratford -- After Phoebe is subpoenaed for her supposed-Communist ties, she travels to London where she meets Hannah and writes scripts for a new television show written and produced by people blacklisted in Hollywood. A pretty interesting look at this shameful time in US history.

Hang the Moon by Jeannette Walls -- After her involvement in a coaster wagon accident that knocked out her little half-brother, eight year old Sallie Kincaid is sent to live with an aunt "for a little while" that turned out to be until her stepmother died nine years later. Then the Duke (her father) sends for Sallie to take care of her younger brother Eddie. What follows is a host of complicated family things alongside the era of Prohibition in the US. Decent story.

Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio -- When Seattle gets a rare May snow, Claire, a features reporter, is assigned a story based on an old May snow which she finds involved the case of a missing three year old. Alternating between Vera and Daniel of 1933 and Claire of today, this book was a fast, easy read.

The Saints of Swallow Hill by Donna Everhart -- I learned a bit about turpentine farms in this book featuring Del who has a harrowing time with a bunch of corn and Rae Lynn who leaves her home after her husband's untimely death. Pretty good book. 

Don't Wake Up by Liz Lawler -- Dr. Alex Taylor had a horrible thing happen to her at her own hospital, but when she makes her claim, no one believes her! And why would they? The things she says happen: there is no physical proof on her body. Is it all in her head? Pretty good thriller/mystery type book.

The Lost English Girl by Julia Kelly -- Really enjoyed this book about Viv Byrne, single mom to a little girl, who has to be evacuated during World War II and her struggles due to unforgiving and often cruel parents. Also Joshua is the husband who abandoned his pregnant wife soon after they married because he wanted to pursue his career opportunities as a musician. After a few years of living in New York, he returns to England to fight for his country.

Thursday, June 22, 2023

Itchy Boots Season 7 - The Beginning through her UK Trip

 Although this season hasn't ended, I decided to post about it.

Season 7 is the first Itchy Boots season that I've watched from the beginning as she posted videos to her YouTube channel. For that reason, this is not like past seasons where we were able to watch more than one video each time - unless, of course, we saved up videos which we did not do.

Between the time Noraly finished her journey to Alaska and the start of Season 7, her bike was being upgraded and later shipped to an unknown destination. Finally on February 15, she posted her first video of Season 7. She was at a port city in Spain where she left on a ferry for Morocco. Thus, her season in Morocco and West Africa began.

February 15, 2023

Episode 1 was in Spain and Morocco

February 17, 20, 23, 24, 27

We watched episodes 2-6 which were in Morocco

She rode through the Rif Mountains, the Blue Pearl city, through Saharan dunes, and met some lovely people.

March 1, 3, 6, 9, 10, 14, 16, 17, 20, 22, 24, 27, 29, 31

We watched episodes 7-20 which were in Morocco, Western Sahara, and Mauritania

We saw water in the oasis, the high Atlas mountains, incredible, desolate desert views; a mechanic in Morocco fixed the chain guard and two holes in Alaska's airbox.  Some of these rides through Mauritania (episodes 18-23) were with Ahmed who drove a supply truck because her journey was just too remote for her to carry enough fuel and food. He was able to carry her luggage which lightened her bike in order to make it through thick sand.

April 3, 5, 7, 10, 12, 14, 17

We watched episodes 21-27 which were in Mauritania and Senegal

A few more rides with Ahmed in the desert with some incredible views. The drone footage looked like another planet at times.  Noraly was headed towards Dakar to have some maintenance done on her motorcycle and she needed a logistics break to plan her next moves, get visas, and so forth. She announced this was the end of Leg 1 and took a couple of weeks off posting videos in order to accomplish these things.


LEG 2 -- Noraly mentioned in an email that her new posting schedule would be Wednesday and Sundays instead of her usual Monday, Wednesday and Fridays. She said it was just too difficult to post three times a week in this part of the world.  Not only did she often not have good internet, many places still don't have electricity.

May 3, 7, 10, 14, 17, 22, 24, 28

We watched episodes 28-35 which were in Senegal and The Gambia

She showed what maintenance had been done on Alaska, took us to shell island and the delta.

June 1, 4, 7, 11, 14, 18, 21

We watched episodes 36-42 which were in Senegal, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, and Sierra Leone

I really enjoyed her ride through the Highlands of Guinea which she said was the water tower of West Africa. I loved seeing the people react to seeing their town on Noraly's GPS and her interaction with the children and other locals.  She announced that she had wanted to do more in Guinea but due to issues with Alaska, she was headed to Freetown in Sierra Leone rather quickly. She was hoping to find a Honda mechanic who could diagnose why Alaska was making a strange noise. Unfortunately the mechanic didn't show up for work, his coworkers didn't know why, and she never received a phone call of his arrival back there. . . .

Noraly has mentioned the coming rainy season which started early and how that might impact her travel especially since so many countries have dirt roads. She loves riding on dirt, but knows with layers of mud and roads turning into rivers in some cases, it will be more difficult.

On June 22, 2023, Noraly announced that she was in the UK for an Adventure Bike Rider event, and would be back with Alaska in Africa soon. The Adventure Bike Rider Festival had just announced her as their Mystery Guest earlier in the day which a couple people on the Itchy Boots fan page had noted. So, no Sunday video this week. 

Also, I saw in the comments of episode 42  (posted to her channel on June 21) that the famous Cotton Tree in Freetown which Noraly featured had been destroyed by a storm in late May. We know Noraly has a built-in delay of when she visits a place and when she posts a video, so we know she was in Freetown sometime before May 24th.

About the tree,

Google says:

Date felled: May 24, 2023 (aged 231 years, 2 months and 2 weeks)
Date seeded: March 10, 1792
Season 7 Morocco and West Africa: to be continued...