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

Friday, May 31, 2024

May Books


After Annie by Anna Quindlen -- A young family and woman struggle with the sudden death of their wife and mother and best friend. Told mostly through the eyes of Ali, the first born who is thirteen when her mom dies; Bill, Annie's husband, and Annemarie, the BFF whom Annie saved, and who needs saving still. 

The Wild Side by Fern Michaels -- This book was a little too perfect for the main character, Melanie, but it was a cute read as she is a pretty neat lady. After her time with the Office of Special Investigations, Melanie goes back to school in order to become a school guidance counselor. Pretty cute.

The Exvangelicals by Sarah McCammon -- "Loving, Living, and Leaving the White Evangelical Church"; I am familiar with this author from hearing her reports on NPR, and when I saw that she grew up in a conservative evangelical household, I decided to read this library book. I could relate to many things she said: the songs she heard growing up, the teachings, so many things. I couldn't relate to the leaving part exactly though I understand why she did. I could very much relate to chapter 7 about whose character matters.  Towards the end of the book, she mentions Rachel Held Evans and I found it interesting that I was reading about Rachel on the 5 year anniversary of her death (May 4) - which Facebook posts reminded me of.  I used to enjoy Rachel's books, and was saddened by her sudden death when she was 37.

The Coworker by Freida McFadden -- Natalie and Dawn have cubicles nearby at work. While Dawn seeks to befriend Natalie, it seems Natalie is intent on bullying Dawn for her oddities. This book follows a series of emails from Dawn to her best friend Mia, as well as Natalie in present time seeking to find Dawn when she doesn't show up for work. Pretty good story.

Finding Margaret Fuller by Allison Pataki -- A pretty interesting way to learn more about this woman who challenged the status quo and made an impact on women's rights, among other things.

The Mystery Writer by Sulair Gentill -- Gus and Theo are Australian-raised siblings living in Kansas of all places. Theo (short for Theodosia) quit law school in order to write novels, and meets a famous author at a local coffee shop. When something happens to her friend, she strives to find justice. An OK book.

The Child by Fiona Barton -- When a newborn's skeleton is found during a construction project, reporter Kate Waters decides to investigate. Meanwhile Emma and Angela are convinced that it was her child who was found. Pretty good.

'Til Death Do Us Part by Kate White -- Bailey Weggins writes true crime stories for a magazine so when an acquaintance calls with her fear of possibly being targeted, Bailey agrees to look into the cases of two bridesmaids' mysterious deaths. Another in this series that I decided to read because, why not?

Still See You Everywhere by Lisa Gardner -- I haven't read anything from this author in awhile, but recognize Frankie whose speciality is finding missing people especially the cold cases. When Frankie is contacted by the Beautiful Butcher, a death row inmate, she finds herself on a private island near Hawaii looking for a woman who disappeared when she was five years old. Frankie is getting used to camp life on this atoll filled with crabs and an interesting bunch of people when she learns the death row inmate has now escaped, and Frankie feels she's on her way to rescue her sister for herself.

The Lost Book of Bonn by Brianna Labuskes -- This book followed the stories of Annelise and Christina, sisters on opposite sides of the Hitler Youth movement - for awhile at least, and a few years later when Emmy, an American librarian travels to Germany to sort books stolen by the Nazis. This book was just OK.

Even though the storylines in this book weren't the most interesting to me, I did enjoy an exchange on page 99 when Eitan, a Jewish friend, explained to Annelise why he liked poetry best. Besides enjoying the way "poets play with language," he said "most of all I like that it's how we used to tell stories. ... In ancient times, ... most people couldn't read or write, ... instead, stories were mostly spoken so the words had to flow and rhyme and repeat to make them easier to remember. ... For the longest time, poems are how we told the story of humanity."   Annelise realized this was "like songs" and why she could remember those better than anything else she tried to memorize. This helped me understand why the Psalms (poems I actually like) repeat things so often.

Another interesting exchange started on page 191 where Lucy, a Jewish lady, told Emmy how "We're very big on forgiveness, ... But only if it's earned. Teshuva is the process of repenting for the hurt you caused someone else. If you're sincere, the injured party can forgive you, which brings both people closer to God's divinity."

The Foxhole Victory Tour by Amy Lynn Green -- Maggie and Catherine are among a handful of performers chosen to travel with the USO in order to spread some cheer to American troops fighting the evil Germans. First stop: North Africa. Really enjoyed these characters and this story. 

The Inmate by Freida McFadden -- Brooke returns to her hometown and takes a job as a nurse practitioner at the prison where her first boyfriend was incarcerated after her testimony put him behind bars. Awkward. Meanwhile her son attends school where her best friend Tim is the assistant principal. Pretty good.

A Deadly Thaw by Sarah Ward -- Second in the DC Childs series; I read the first book, but the library didn't have any others. I put them on my Amazon Wishlist and got three more for my birthday. In this book, a body is found of someone who recently died only he was identified by his wife in a murder over a decade ago. Why did she lie about the identity of her husband back then? Who is the guy who was killed earlier? Now Lena is missing, and her sister Kat is trying to figure out what's going on. The police are, too.

A Patient Fury by Sarah Ward -- Another DC Childs book. In this one Julia and George's father, stepmother and young half-brother are murdered one night. The police mostly decide it was a murder-suicide while DC Connie Childs wants to pursue another possibility which gets her in trouble with her boss. Interesting tale!

The Shrouded Path by Sarah Ward -- The final DC Childs book that I have; maybe the last in the series...I don't know. The police are investigating a couple of unattended deaths that could be suspicious. They aren't sure. But then an elderly lady dies in the hospital rather abruptly which gets the detectives looking for connections. Mina is wondering why her mother was agitated before her death, and why she talked about seeing Valerie and the Cutting. 

A Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena -- Tom comes home one night to find his wife missing. Later he finds out she's been in an accident; she'll be OK, but her memory has failed for now. Meanwhile a detective investigates a murder that took place and comes calling on Karen to see if she knows anything. Pretty good. 

The Split by Kit Frick -- On a stormy night in Connecticut, Jane takes a phone call from her younger sister Esme about Jane picking up Esme in New York City. Jane has trauma from an accident she drove through as a teen so she hesitates. One chapter deals with Jane having picked up her often troubled sister, and another deals with her not having gone that night, but having Esme missing. Each chapter delves into Gone or Home scenarios. Pretty good if you like this sort of thing. 

Bye, Baby by Carola Lovering -- Cassie is a new mom, an influencer on Instagram, and Billie misses her best friend! During a birthday party, Billie ends up with Cassie's little girl, and well, this was pretty good if you enjoy these types of books.

The Favorite Daughter by Kaira Rouda -- Jane is a mother coming out of her "complicated grief" after the supposed accidental death of her older daughter Mary. As the family marks one year since her death plus the upcoming high school graduation of Betsey, the other daughter, Jane has plans. Plans for how to handle the affair she knows her husband is having, and later plans to deal with Betsey's hidden (until now) relationship with a tutor. What a lady! 

Democracy Awakening: Notes on the State of America by Heather Cox Richardson -- I occasionally read her posts on Facebook, and when I saw this book in the new section of the library, I decided to read it. Also I remember Suzanne having read it last year. Thought-provoking and interesting.

Over Her Dead Body by Kate White -- Another in the Bailey Weggins series. Bailey goes to work for a new magazine, and pretty soon is investigating the murder of her boss, Mona.  Nice to read in between sessions with the book just above by HCR.

Letters from My Sister by Valerie Fraser Luesse -- I feel there was another book or two about this family that would tell me more about things alluded to in this book. Callie and Emmy are sisters in a large family. While Emmy is eager to marry and set up a house, Callie is content climbing trees and visiting the creek. Decent book. Had a few sweet moments towards the end re: Decoration Day* and sibling death. I liked the epitaph parents placed on the stone of their child:
 "Dear, you are not dead to us, 
but an affectionate one unseen." 

* Two days from now (Sunday, June 2) at cemetery in Spring Creek so interesting timing.

Saturday, May 25, 2024

Itchy Boots Season 7 ENDS: Central African Republic to the Netherlands


When I posted about Itchy Boots' adventures in early February, she was in the Central African Republic. Since then she made her way across several other countries, and finally concluded her ride, but not in the way anyone hoped.  Here is the final post about her trip.

February 5, 7, 11, 14, 18, 21, 15, 28

We watched episodes 79-86 which were in the Central African Republic, Cameroon, the Republic of Congo, and Angola

While crossing a river in the dark, Alaska fell in the water. A mechanic took 3 or 4 hours to fix it in the dark. (ep. 80)

Interesting to see Noraly wait over an hour for gas and for her to ride on the nice Chinese-built road (ep. 81).  In order to avoid the Democratic Republic of Congo, Noraly sailed around it into Angola which was very nice and had cheap gas.  In Angola, her motorcycle got a nice service.  Noraly enjoyed how the locals called her amiga, but felt old when the kids called her tia even though she said she was an "auntie." (ep. 84). Angola is a lovely country with a huge waterfall especially in this rainy season, and a rushing river.

March 3, 6, 10, 13, 18, 20, 24, 27, 31

We watched episodes 87-95 which were in Angola, Zambia, Malawi, Ethiopia (airport and hotel only), and Madagascar

Noraly was frightened to be caught in a thunderstorm with lots of lightning, but in the next episode she continued on to the border with Zambia crossing some sketchy wooden bridges. We laughed at pigs enjoying the mud puddles in the middle of the road. She also rode through thick sand before reaching the border (ep. 88).

I enjoyed the nice people in Lusaka (ep. 90) and the wild animals on the safari in Zambia (ep. 91). Noraly decided to fly to Madagascar where she rented a KTM Enduro bike in order to explore some of the paths. She also took along a guide, Didier, for most of this visit. There were many rough roads, but the scenery was pretty. She mentioned being there during hurricane or cyclone season.  

April 3, 7, 10, 17, 21, 27, 28

We watched episodes 96-103 which were in Madagascar

During a nighttime forest walk, we saw some lemurs and giant snails. (ep. 96). Noraly's Enduro bike did well in the sand, but her guide had a Chinese bike which made the trails tough, and he ended up falling quite a bit.  (I read a comment that he was given that bike because all of the other Enduro bikes were rented for an event taking place around this time.)  I enjoyed the children Noraly saw around episode 100, and absolutely loved her time with the fishermen and videoing them underwater (ep. 101).  In episode 102, Noraly traded bikes to a vintage African Twin due to her being more on tarmac as she rode towards the capital. Also, she said goodbye to Didier who guided her throughout her Madagascar adventure near the western areas.

May 1, 5, 8, 12, 15, 19, 22

We watched episodes 104-110 which were in Madagascar, Malawi, Tanzania, and the Netherlands

Noraly declared Madagascar to be one of her top 5 countries after having visited over 100. She ended her time there with food poisoning that left her racing for her destination in order to leave the country. Back in Malawi, she was reunited with her bike, Alaska, and we saw beautiful views and a huge lake. She was also able to meet up with her best friend Mandy who was visiting Malawi at the time. Unfortunately Noraly left her rain jacket at the last place she stayed, and because the roads were tricky, she decided to not go back for it. One day she saw local college students out fixing the road (ep. 108). 
Unfortunately in Tanzania, something happened that caused her trip to end abruptly. She was going to tour Tanzania and end her journey in Kenya, but things didn't go as planned (episode 109.)  In the final episode she told everyone about her rescue, leaving Tanzania, and her surgery and recovery prospects. The surgeon punctured her lung during surgery and they didn't realize it so she's also dealing with a collapsed lung.  Note to self: the x-ray in Tanzania indicated that her crash was on April 17th. Based on other things she said, I think her surgery was in early May.  It was rather emotional seeing Alaska loaded up. Noraly has already said she is getting a new bike for her next adventure. Alaska carried her through many states, provinces, and countries. 
I really enjoyed her time in Africa, and look forward to seeing where she goes next!  I hope she rests this summer and heals, and we'll see her on YouTube again in coming months.