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I Owe You One–the power of guilt

I Owe You One

by Sophie Kinsella

I Owe You OneI have read and enjoyed a number of books by Sophie Kinsella who is perhaps most famous for her Shopaholic series. Then I read one that just didn’t have the same zing and humor, so I entered I Owe You One with some trepidation. I am pleased to report that Kinsella’s latest book lives up to her standards and my expectations. At first I was a little concerned there would be too much predictability. The main character’s name is Fixie, derived from her penchant for fixing things ranging from the placement of objects to personal relationships. OCD is definitely in play as she struggles not to rearrange things or declare her every thought. As Fixie’s high school heartthrob reenters her life, the reader is watching a foreseeable train wreck: “No, Fixie, don’t do it!”

The plot leaves the anticipated pathway soon after with lots of surprises in store. It does not focus solely on Fixie’s love life. Fixie also struggles with family relationships which are closely tied with the family business. You will like Fixie if for no other reason than she tries so hard in everything she does. She feels like a failure, is loaded with unwarranted guilt, and carries the torch for making everything turn out right and keeping everyone happy—a big burden for one person.

There are many other interesting major and minor characters you will meet, but not all of them are likable, of course. The setting is West London where the denizens range from scruffy to posh. The book flows nicely with lots of humor and is a fast and enjoyable read.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Dial Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Women’s Fiction

Publication:   February 19, 2019—Dial Press

Memorable Lines:

When I think how I believed his version of everything, how I rationalized everything he said and did, I feel warm with stupidity. But he was so convincing.

Ryan’s pathological, I’ve realized. He says anything to anyone to get out of whatever situation he’s in. Truth doesn’t count, integrity doesn’t count, love doesn’t even figure. Yelling at him would be like yelling at a rock. It’s never going to change.

I learned that failing doesn’t mean you are a failure; it just means you’re a human being.

30 Days in the Land of the Psalms: a Holy Land Devotional

30 Days in the Land of the Psalms: A Holy Land Devotional

by Charles H. Dyer

30 DaysA devotional is such a personal kind of writing. Readers bring their backgrounds to the process. Then the Holy Spirit uses the author’s words, guiding their thoughts and providing inspiration for understanding and change. As a reviewer, I read 30 Days in the Land of the Psalms: A Holy Land Devotional daily to capture the devotional experience.

The author, Charles H. Dyer, has a lifetime of experiences in the Holy Land, having led many tours as a licensed guide. He also has outstanding academic credentials, and I am sure he knows more about the Bible than I ever will. He excels at analyzing the structure of each psalm. I discovered at the end of my reading that I had noted many more memorable passages than usual. Dyer’s format is to draw the reader into the psalm with a description of the area the psalm would have been written in or about and some historical background. Next he talks about the format of the psalm in terms of the repetition that is so important in Hebrew poetry and why it was written the way it was. Lastly he includes a section, “Walking in Our Land,” which applies the psalm to the reader’s life.

While 30 Days in the Land of the Psalms: A Holy Land Devotional has many good points, it did not offer personal inspiration for me. I have two major criticisms. As someone who has led forty tours in the Holy Land, he could have included more photographs and they could have aligned better with the point he was trying to make. Also, his efforts to make the book sound like a tour fell flat for me. An example is his writing in several chapters as if someone had posed a question, “I am glad you asked that question.”

I found 30 Days in the Land of the Psalms: A Holy Land Devotional to be an acceptable devotional, but not sufficiently interesting to encourage me to purchase other devotionals by this author.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Moody Publishing for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 3/5

Category: Devotional

Publication: May 2, 2017—Moody Publishing

Memorable Lines:

Whether we’re facing life’s struggles or rejoicing in God’s blessings, it seems we can always find a psalm that matches the mood of our spirit. And that’s what make the book of Psalms a songbook for all occasions.

The enemy might be somewhere just outside the city, but God is still seated calmly on His throne in heaven—and nothing takes the God of heaven by surprise.

We can’t always choose our circumstances, but we can choose how we’re going to respond. David had enemies, but during those times of trouble he also experienced God’s loyal love. And remembering how God had worked in the past gave him confidence that God would continue to bless the rest of his life. He rested in the presence of God.

Pride (the attitude that I can do it all myself) and impatience (thinking I want it all now) bring us into conflict with God…while humility and a sense of patient trust place us in proper relationship to Him.

Postal Service in Mexico

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I think everyone from North of the Border who lives in Mexico has a postal service story to tell. Today I saw a post on Facebook from a friend who lives in Ajijic, Jalisco. This week she received two Christmas cards, one from Canada and one from the U.S., that were sent in December. Not bad. Lots of mail doesn’t ever arrive. We discourage anyone who has a notion of using the postal service, but I have used it twice in ordering some pills from a Mexican company. BOTH times they arrived in good shape in about 2-3 weeks. I consider that a success. So today I am posting a picture of the beautiful stamps that were on the last package (in December) in honor of the brave young men in Mexico who ride little motorcycles laden with letters and packages and negotiate the roads filled with drivers with “interesting” driving habits. Salud!

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Closeups from the Beach

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A little collection of some of my favorite closeups from the beach:

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A bowl of newly hatched turtles awaiting release at dusk, the time of greatest safety

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A welcoming display of bougainvillea on the porch

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Nothing says the beach like coconut trees!

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I love burros so I thought it was perfect that our casita should have this tiled decoration.

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A peek at the huge palapa at Roberto’s Bistro

Head for Mexico: The Renegade Guide–expect the unexpected!

Head for Mexico: The Renegade Guide

by Don Adams

head-for-the-borderI picked this book up in the second hand book room at the Lake Chapala Society Library   for a few pesos. This is an informative book written with a sense of humor. Don Adams doesn’t take himself too seriously, and he doesn’t want you to take yourself too seriously either. He has organized the book well so that you can enjoy it in its entirety or you can pick and choose sections as needed. I already live in Mexico, so my perspective was one of comparing my experiences with his. Although he has spent a lot of time in the Lake Chapala area (home of MANY expats from the U.S. and Canada), he also has lived in many other parts of Mexico. Just like other countries, there is no ONE Mexico, but Adams accurately offers up a taste of cultural differences South of the Border with respect for the kind and generous people here. Unlike his Internet references which are about 14 years old, the people of Mexico have not changed much since he wrote the book. I found it to be an accurate portrayal of life in Mexico where one should always expect the unexpected.

Rating: 4/5

Category: Travel, Nonfiction (Adult)

Notes: Some government information and Internet references are dated, but it still stands as a good resource for someone thinking about moving to Mexico.

Publication:   August 11, 2003–Trafford Publishing

Memorable Lines:

Here’s typical (and accurate) advice from Don Adams to give you a flavor of the book: “And a lot of folks caution against driving at night. Actually, nobody in their right mind would even want to consider this. Usually it’s just me and the truckers flying through the dark, although you’ll usually find a pretty active level of traffic on the autopistas connecting the major cities.”

Warm up in Zihuatanejo, Guerrero

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Welcome to Zihuatanejo in the state of Guerrero–a tourist town with a traditional, colonial feel alongside a port, beaches and beautiful views. The average high temperature is 89.8° F (32.1° C) and it varies only a degree or two from that all year.

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Happy New Year! Changes Ahead in 2017!

announcement-001I am very excited to announce an expansion of the scope of this blog. It began as a way to express my concerns about education. Next I added book reviews, certainly a feature connected to education. Now I am excited to add posts about Mexico. This will not be a travel guide or a tutorial about how to move to Mexico. Each post will contain a picture or two taken in Mexico with a few notes. Although I expect to post “A Touch of Mexico” about once a week, I do not run my life or my blog on a schedule–one of the best parts of retirement! I hope you will join me in experiencing “un poco de México.”

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