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

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

August Books


Between Two Strangers by Kate White -- Skyler is a struggling artist who gets a life-changing phone call one Friday afternoon. Someone died and left her an amazing inheritance. But who is this guy and why did he select her for this windfall? Pretty good.

The Wartime Sisters by Lynda Cohen Loigman -- I thought this was a new book since it was on the library catalog, but I quickly realized it wasn't, and it seemed very familiar. Sure enough I read it a few years ago, but since I didn't have another library book on hand, I went ahead and read it since it was an easy read.

Talk of Champions by Kenny Smith -- I heard a short interview with the author on an NPR program so when I saw this book at the library, I read it quickly. Andrew actually checked it out so I read it while he was working. I remember Kenny Smith from his days playing under Coach Dean Smith at UNC-Chapel Hill. He has various chapters about people who shaped him. Fast read.

Beware the Woman by Megan Abbott -- Jacy traveled to visit her father in law and while there has some complications that mean she may have to stay awhile. But this place is increasingly giving her the creeps so she'd really like to go!  An OK book.

The House Guest by Hank Phillippi Ryan -- Alyssa's husband left her so she's in a bar when she meets a woman who looks a bit down on her luck. She buys Bree a drink or two and gives her her phone number. Eventually Bree moves into the guest house, and, honestly, this book was a bit too hard for me to understand sometimes because I am sooo not one to have someone move into my life that easily. Online, perhaps, yes, but physically...no.  An OK book.

The Spectacular by Fiona Davis -- I always enjoy her books about some iconic building or place and event in New York City. This one focused on Radio City Hall during the time a man left pipe bombs around the city for several years. It's told through the eyes of Marion who becomes a Rockette. She meets Dr. Peter Griggs who is based on a person the FBI hired as a criminal profiler. Interesting, easy-to-read book!

A Bridge Across the Ocean by Susan Meissner -- This book alternates between present day Brette who has the Sight (passed down to females in her family though it skips generations sometimes) and Simone from her time in Paris during World War II and later on a war brides' ship the Queen Mary. Also, it deals with Annaliese who is trying to escape an abusive past. Interesting story.

Before She Finds Me by Heather Chavez -- Julia is standing in line to check her daughter Cora into her freshman dorm when the unthinkable happens: shots ring out and Cora's stepmother who was standing nearby is killed!  Meanwhile Ren recognizes this as being her husband's work, but he never ran this hired hit by her - and they plan their hits together. Why this rush? This story alternates between Julia's and Ren's perspectives. Fast-paced book.

The Messy Lives of Book People by Phaedra Patrick -- Really enjoyed this story about a cleaner, Liv Green, who is employed by the novelist Essie Starling. When Essie passes away unexpectedly, Liv is tasked with something besides cleaning the lady's house!

Pretty Things by Janelle Brown -- Nina is a con artist who works with Lachlan. She wants to get out of the business, but her mom's cancer treatments make it necessary for lots of cash. When Nina is eager to get out of LA (because the police have come around), she heads for Lake Tahoe where she and her mom spent a year when Nina was a sophomore in high school. There she singles out Vanessa,  of the fabulously wealthy Liebling family. Pretty interesting, entertaining book!

The Vanishing at Castle Moreau by Jaime Jo Wright -- DNF; I really tried with this one, but after 158 pages, I cannot get into this story nor keep the characters straight. It's just not that appealing to me.

Summer Secrets by Jane Green -- Cat is an English journalist who struggles with sobriety. Well, first she struggled with realizing her alcohol problem, but once she faces that, she struggles with staying on the wagon. When her American mom tells her a story about her trip to Nantucket before Cat was born, Cat decides to visit for herself. Pretty good story.

The Block Party by Jamie Day -- Every year on Memorial Day, the folks of Alton Street have a block party. Here you are introduced to these rich, complicated people such as Alex who might have a drinking problem; Ken who has been forgiven for an affair years ago, but his wife Emily suspects things; the new neighbors Samir and Mandy with their troubled son, Jay. There are Lettie and Riley and Dylan, and more. Pretty good.

The Senator's Wife by Liv Constantine -- After Sloane's husband is killed, she marries her husband's friend Whit, and things are going pretty well until her hip replacement surgery. This causes her lupus to flare and suddenly she's taking a turn for the worse. Does this have anything to do with her new assistant Athena? What has she been putting into Sloane's food and drinks? Fast read.

Prom Mom by Laura Lippman -- Amber went to her high school prom with the rich boy she was tutoring in French. They weren't a couple that anyone could tell, but he agreed to take her to prom. When she left early due to a terrible stomach ache, well, who knew that she really was having a baby? Years have past, and Amber has distanced herself from her hometown and the "prom mom" label that described her back then. But when she's back in Baltimore to settle her stepfather's estate, she decides perhaps it is time to move home - and see if she has shed that label once and for all.  OK to pretty good.

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick -- I read another of her books recently and decided to try another. I enjoyed this story of Arthur Pepper who is coming upon the one year mark of when his wife of forty years died after a sudden illness. Arthur is finally cleaning out her things when he comes upon a charm bracelet placed in a boot. He never saw his wife wear this bracelet, and wonders about the history of these charms. Thus, his finally leaving the house for more than a trip to the store and finding out more about his wife - and himself.

The Secretary by Renée Knight -- Christine Butcher is the long-time secretary for the supermarket heiress Mina Appleton. Christine's role isn't just her sorting Mina's worklife, but doing much much more. And Mina requires loyalty and time like you wouldn't believe. When Mina is written about in a newspaper and sues due to the unflattering portrayal, Christine finds herself on trial. Pretty good story.

Blood Done Sign My Name by Timothy B.Tyson -- I found this in a Little Free Library awhile back and had it on a shelf. Recently I was between library books, and decided to start this one. The subject is tough so I didn't read it quickly as I alternated between it and light fiction instead. The author speaks of his upbringing in eastern North Carolina with an emphasis on the murder of a young black man in Oxford - what led up to it, who did it, and what happened to those who killed this man. This book started off as a thesis for university work, and ended up being fleshed out into this book. It helped me realize the necessity of sometimes destroying property, the reasons behind it, and such.

No Bad Deed by Heather Chavez -- Cassie is driving home from her clinic one night when she stops to help a lady who is being abused by a man. This leads to a host of issues like her husband going missing while trick or treating with her daughter the next night! What gives? Pretty good if you like suspenseful mystery types.

Her Perfect Life by Hank Phillippi Ryan -- When Lily was 7 years old, her college-aged sister disappeared. Later Lily is a celebrity journalist with the "perfect life," and she's confronted with what happened to her sister all those years ago. With the help of her producer, Greer, and a mysterious informant, Smith, Lily has to make a decision about what to do about Cassie.

None of This Is True by Lisa Jewell -- While eating out for her 45th birthday, Josie notices another lady celebrating her 45th birthday: what are the odds that they are birthday twins at the same restaurant? After looking up this lady - she'd heard her name mentioned - she realizes Alix Summer is a podcaster telling stories of women brave enough to make changes in their lives. Josie contacts Alix about her own story: one where she plans to make big changes.  Pretty good story.

It.Goes.So.Fast. by Mary Louise Kelly -- I've been listening to this author on NPR for several years now, and this book explored "The Year of No Do-Overs" as Mary Louise wanted to make time to see more of her sons' soccer games since the oldest one was getting ready to leave for college soon. The news program she co-hosts begins at 4, the same time her sons' games begin...it's a problem. This book touches on her struggle to hear (a big problem when you work in radio), aging as she wrote much of it the year she turned fifty, her parents, her children, some stories from Ukraine and about her interview with Mike Pompeo, even a curveball towards the end that saddened me. I read this book quickly - within a half day - as it was relatively short, but also fast-paced and interesting.

In A Far-Off Land by Stephanie Landsem -- A good story about Minerva aka Minnie or Mina who travels from South Dakota to Hollywood where she hopes to make enough money to save the family farm! She stole the rent money in order to make the trip, but she has every intention of paying it back - and then some - once she lands a part in a movie.  Meanwhile Oscar and Max, Lupita, Roman, and Angel play their parts in this Depression-era story. Pretty interesting!
Tom Lake by Ann Patchett -- During the global lockdown in 2020, Joe and Lara's three daughters return to Northern Michigan in order to hang out at the family's cherry orchard. While working the fruit, the girls ask their mom about her time as an actress, and her relationship with a famous actor one summer at Tom Lake. I enjoyed this one! 

Monday, August 28, 2023

Itchy Boots Season 7: Sierra Leone to Benin; Time to leave West Africa for now


Yesterday, August 27, Itchy Boots announced that she was finishing her West Africa adventure - for now - due to three reasons so I wanted to record the episodes from Season 7 since I last wrote about them.  In my last post about this season, I went from February 15 through June 21 videos.  Here are the rest.

June 28

We watched episode 43 which was in Sierra Leone

July 2, 7, 9, 13, 17, 21, 23, 26, 30

We watched episodes 44-52 which were in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and the Ivory Coast

In Sierra Leone, I enjoyed the episode on blood diamonds. When Noraly got to Liberia, the main road was so deep in mud that huge trucks were stuck there for weeks. A local guy rode Alaska through some of the mud, but the process was so tough that it burned her clutch plates so she was unable to change gears. She tried to make it to a new town, but Alaska was having none of it so a nice guy named Prince towed her bike with his own smaller bike (ep. 50). Soon after Noraly had her bike towed to the border with Ivory Coast, and then loaded her motorcycle on a truck to be taken to Abidjan where mechanics worked on Alaska's issues. Riding in Africa was tough on her bike!  Sadly, Noraly didn't explore Ivory Coast much due to these issues so I was a bit disappointed in that. Also, she had a bad experience with an official there demanding bribes.

August 3, 7, 10, 13, 18, 20, 23, 27

We watched episodes 53-60 which were in the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, and Benin

I really enjoyed seeing Ghana as I have friends who have lived in this country. There we saw a stilt village, tree bridges, gold mines, a lake, and lovely mountain views!  In creepier news, she was called Sweet Angel by a boat captain who then talked about his wife. She did an episode about scarification, meeting a king in Benin (she took him some whiskey and had to bow many many times). The final episode included a local showing her their palm oil production and a lady making pots to sell at the market.  Then, of course, she told us why she was taking a break from West Africa.

1. She needs to get her visa for Nigeria, the next country, which is tougher to get for some reason. She thought she would have an easier time in Europe.

2. The rains had become heavier and she needed to wait until some of that was over as the roads were tough when they became muddy.

3. Health reasons: she is taking anti-malaria medicine that isn't good to take for long periods of time.

She said she had some other adventures planned so the channel should have some content so we'll see about that.

Thursday, August 3, 2023

Itchy Boots Season 6 Notes So Far (Ecuador to Mexico)


I decided to post these notes even though we are still watching Season 6.

I was first introduced to Itchy Boots when she was well into Season 6. Andrew started watching Noraly's adventures a few weeks before I started getting interested, but I didn't see her until she was already in the United States.

After Season 6 wrapped up, we started watching past seasons which I've blogged about in recent months. Eventually we got to Season 6 which is where Noraly attempts to complete her journey from Season 2 which was interrupted by the pandemic.

When last we saw her in the Americas, she was stuck in Peru and finally repatriated to the Netherlands. Unfortunately when she started this new adventure, Peru was still closed (though it opened about the time she came back to South America), so she made plans to begin her Season 6 adventure in Ecuador.

April 30, 2023

watched episodes 1-4 which take place in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Ecuador

Itchy Boots shows us her buying Alaska (her new Honda motorcycle), a tour of the Revit place, how her helmet was designed in the Netherlands. She went to the UK to ship her bike, and then she's in Ecuador on her way to pick up Alaska from customs. Getting her bike out of customs took seven hours with a helper. 

May 11

watched episodes 5-7 which take place in Ecuador

May 13

watched episodes 8-11 which take place in Ecuador

I enjoyed seeing the people in the small towns, markets, and the Inca ruins.

May 14

watched episodes 12-13 which take place in Ecuador

May 19

watched episodes 14-17 which take place in Ecuador

She stayed with an Amazonian family and crossed a cable car over the Amazon River

May 26

watched episodes 18-21 which take place in Ecuador and Colombia

More great adventures

May 30

watched episodes 22-24 which take place in Colombia

June 2

watched episodes 25-27 which take place in Colombia and Panama

Due to the season of rough-water crossing, Noraly decides to leave Colombia though she has much more she could explore there. Instead she takes a three-day border crossing which includes a long boat ride around the Darien Gap. She said she hiked through this region about ten years ago, but the interior doesn't have roads for Alaska so she chose to take herself and Alaska around much of this region by boat.

June 4

watched episodes 28-29 which take place in Panama

After Noraly just makes it in time to get her temporary import permit in a city she doesn't want to stay in overnight, she arrives in Panama City where she does want to stay. I really enjoyed watching a couple of ships go through the Panama Canal plus learning some of the history about the place and seeing the Old Town and the modern side.

June 6

watched episodes 30-32 which take place in Panama

I have loved the views and people while Noraly travels through Panama!

June 7

watched episodes 33-34 which take place in Panama

Mountains and beach views!

June 9

watched episodes 35-37 which take place in Panama and Costa Rica

I really enjoyed the river travel and visit with the Naso people. I love the humor of the people in these Central American countries. Noraly gets a tour of a local "milking farm" in such a beautiful volcanic region!

June 11

watched episode 38 which takes place in Costa Rica

Lovely view of a crater with toxic water.

June 12

watched episodes 39-40 which take place in Costa Rica

Noraly broke one of her cameras and laptop during a fall.

June 15

watched episodes 41-42 which take place in Costa Rica and Nicaragua

Lots of travel by boat!

June 16

watched episodes 43-45 which take place in Nicaragua

I enjoyed her showing us the variety of fruit growing on the property of the guest house. Her travels on the river were great. We were amazed how the men caught supper (iguanas from high in the tree!) and laughed when Noraly mentioned someone walking their pig "as one does."  Also it was funny when she was waiting to load Alaska on a boat, and a couple of pigs laid down under the motorcycle to enjoy the shade.

June 18

watched episodes 46-47 which take place in Nicaragua

I enjoyed her visit with the native people and their hike in the jungle.

June 19

watched episodes 48-50 which take place in Nicaragua

An interesting tour of a gold mine and a fun trip with Noraly who went boarding down a volcano -- wheeeee!

June 20

watched her Live from Central America video which was from March 23, 2022

June 21

watched episodes 51-52 which take place in Nicaragua and Honduras

Beautiful scenery!

June 24

watched episodes 53-54 which take place in Honduras

cave exploration

June 27

watched episodes 55-56 which take place in Honduras

snorkeling and visiting small islands

June 30

watched episodes 57-59 which take place in Honduras and El Salvador

July 1

watched episodes 60-63 which take place in El Salvador and Guatemala

Her friend Charly Sinewan joins her and they ride through a lava field.

July 2

watched episodes 64-65 which take place in Guatemala

I enjoyed seeing places in Antigua (churches and ruins). Noraly had a police escort her through one area that is prone to bandit attacks.

July 14

watched episodes 66-68 which take place in Guatemala

Noraly stayed with an Ixil family and the cute children were following her everywhere. She found the school she attended ten years ago when she was learning Spanish. She tried to find her host family from then, but found out that they had moved to the US.

July 15

watched episodes 69-71 which take place in Guatemala

She went through a really muddy jungle and also went to a thermal waterfall.

July 18

watched episodes 72-73 which take place in Guatemala and Belize

Noraly told about Mennonite communities in Belize; she visited some Mayan temples and pyramids.

July 22

watched episodes 74-76 which take place in Belize and Mexico

July 23

watched episodes 77-78 which take place in Mexico

Lovely waterfalls and she met modern-day Mayans

July 29

watched episodes 79-80 which take place in Mexico

July 30

watched episodes 81-83 which take place in  Mexico

Details about a group trying to save sea turtles along the Pacific coast; Noraly trying some interesting native dishes, and a long detour to avoid men on the road with guns.