"Even when the rainbow seems to pass right by me....I'm still finding Gold in the clouds....."

23 October 2017

2017 Book Review #31: The Girl With No Name



I discovered another new-to-me author at our local town library.

The title captured my interest.

This book is set in one of my favorite time periods:  WWII.  And it's set in Germany and then England.  Most of the story takes place in England over a period of about 6 years.  And from the very first page, it grabbed me and wouldn't let go.

STORY SUMMARY

Franz and Marta Becker have two teenaged children.  Martin, who is blind, is about 15 and Lisa is just 13.  They live in Hanau, Germany, where Franz is a doctor and Marta is a homemaker. They are Jewish.

One night, their world is rocked upside down.

Lisa is put on the Kindertransport while Marta and Martin stay behind at Aunt Trudi's.  Franz is taken away by the Nazi soldiers.

Lisa arrives in London, England in August 1939.  She doesn't speak or read a word of English.  Her only belongings are crammed into a small suitcase and one thing that is very precious to her is a photo of her family, left behind in Germany.

Lisa is lonely and homesick but gets adopted by a wonderful childless couple named Dan and Naomi Federman.  She gets enrolled in school but quickly becomes the target of class bullies because she is German and England is at war.  A boy named Harry Black (born Heinrich Schwarz) comes to her defense and becomes a good friend.  In fact, he came over on the train too from Hanau!

Soon, London experiences the Blitz and her entire world is blown apart.  Lisa wakes up in a hospital with no memory of her name or where she has been living.  She does not even remember that she came from Germany.  The authorities at the hospital give her a new name, Charlotte Smith, because she was found on the street, being protected by the body of a man named Smith from Harrowgate.   She ends up in a children's home.  What will become of her??

She soon gets moved to a safer area of England and is taken care of by a bitter older woman named Edie.  Edie is very much anti-German because her finance Herbert was killed by the Germans in the Great War.  That was over 20 years ago and she has been bitter ever since.  Lisa begins to make new friends in this little village and her best friends are Billy and Clare.  Billy's parents invite her over to the farm often. 

Slowly, over time, Lisa begins to recall certain events and people and realizes she wants to know what happened to Naomi and Dan when the house was bombed.  Are they still alive?  How come they haven't come to find her?

Meanwhile,Lisa/Charlotte's sweet spirit wins Edie over and Edie begins to enjoy life again and comes to love Lisa very much.  When Edie dies suddenly, Lisa discovers that she has inherited Edie's home and savings. 

Lisa begins to work in a children's home with Caroline, the woman who helped her after she was found lying in the street, and soon discovers that Naomi and Dan are still alive!

Billy begins to fall in love with Lisa/Charlotte but Harry comes back into Lisa's life complicating matters. Harry has been in and out of prison during this war, and the people in Lisa's life do not trust him.  Lisa is just an innocent 16 year old when Harry pressures Lisa  to go away with him to Australia.  Whom will she choose??  Will she go away with Harry or will she stay in England with the people who matter the most to her?

Will she find the precious people who first adopted her when she arrived on the train from Germany as a refugee?

And what about her real family??  Will she ever learn the truth??

MY THOUGHTS

I really enjoyed this book.  The story was wonderfully predictable in spots, but also had many surprises in other spots.

The character development was quite well done and I found myself hoping Naomi would learn the truth about what really happened to Lisa.

I enjoy historical fiction and this one is a gem.  It is quite long and sadly, there were many editing mistakes which makes my rating slip a bit.

If you like reading stories set in WWII this is a good one....but keep in mind it is very similar to other stories regarding children who escaped Germany.

I liked that Lisa was a teenager from start to finish and that the ending, although predictable, wraps up nicely with all of the characters accounted for, minus one.  I won't tell you which one!

In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 14 and older.

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I rate this an 8.






20 October 2017

Mid-October Faves


Wow..how is it mid-October already....and still gorgeous weather here in eastern New York State!!  We have had some crisp cool evenings and chilly mornings but the sun has been absolutely glorious and the colors, although not as vibrant as when the colder temps have occurred in years past, are just so pretty.  I'm loving this weather so I guess that makes fave #1!


Join me in finding other  faves from our week....and link up at Susanne's to read more!!



FIVE FAVES
backyard reading spot


  • GLORIOUS AUTUMN WEATHER!  We have had some perfect autumn weather that is for sure.  The evenings have been slightly warmer than usual which isn't helping the vibrant colors of the leaves but they are still pretty...although late to turn.  My backyard isn't ready to rake yet as both maples are just losing the leaves and they are just turning color. I've been able to enjoy my swing this week in the late afternoons before cooking dinner. It's definitely a fave and something I'm thankful for....reading outdoors!
Small mountain in the High Peaks area of the Adirondacks
  • HIKING, AGAIN!  Saturday I had plans with my longtime childhood friend to go hiking in the High Peaks region. It was cloudy when we started but the sun did come out at times! The mountain trail we chose was short and the summit is less than 3000 feet high so the climb wasn't too bad since there were switchbacks. If there hadn't been switchbacks though, the last half mile would have been wicked steep!  The views from the summit were marvelous and we could see the fire tower on the Hurricane Mt summit that we had hiked a month ago!  The leaves were past peak when we were there last weekend, but the views were still beautiful.  After the hike, (we were done around 2 pm) we traveled a bit north along the road you see in the above pic, and got our ADK 102 Challenge books signed in this town.  Then we drove back down the mountain to this town to get our books signed there before heading back to the highway and home.  It was a lovely day! Here are a couple of photos from the hike.  They are the high peaks as seen from the summit of Baxter. I'm so grateful for the chance to hike in these  glorious mountains!



  • HOT HERBAL TEA:  there's nothing like a steaming cup of hot, herbal tea for a head cold.  I somehow picked up a cold virus, probably from working with the preschoolers, and felt miserable on Sunday morning.  That hot tea tasted so good and really helped clear the nasal passages!  I'm thankful for the variety of tea options available nowadays and particularly like the Throat Coat licorice tea for colds. This was my first head cold in about 2 years so I'm thankful I had some of that tea in the cupboard!
Claire apple picking in NH!



  • Text! Our youngest daughter texted us last weekend with photos showing her with other Honors Program students on an apple picking trip.  She said she had a really good time...I'm always thankful when I receive calls or texts from my youngest daughter.  I do miss her so much!  I'm thankful she is in a good university but I sure do miss that girl!
Claire is in wagon right above the TT


  • LATE AFTERNOON WALK  Wednesday was a long day at work.....we were so busy with the children, then meetings and it seemed like 3 pm would never get there...and when it did the meeting was still going on!  I ended up getting home later than usual but decided to go over to the town park after changing my clothes and getting in a mile walk. I ended up doing just a little over 2 miles and it felt so good.  Here are some pretty scenes along the pathways I walked. Walking outdoors is always a fave with me.

around the pond

out of The Ramble over to The Rise

along the Ramble

That wraps up my weekly faves. 

 No matter what....always give thanks unto God!!


blessings,




14 October 2017

2017 Book Review #30: The Marsh King's Daughter


What a concept.  Basing a suspenseful psychological thriller on a fairy tale by Hans Christian Anderson!

The cover is actually what drew my attention to this book sitting on the "new fiction" bookshelf at my town library. I had never heard of the author and I believe this is her first novel.

STORY SUMMARY

Helena finally has a normal life.  A husband named Stephen and two little girls ages 3 and 5 (Marigold and Iris).  She also has a good home-based business making and selling her own jams and jellies.  Life is good.

But then her father escapes from the prison located nearby her home and she soon realizes that she really can't put the past behind her.

Helena has a secret from Stephen.  She is the product of a teen abduction!  Her mother was kidnapped at age 16 back in the 1980s and forced to live in the marshlands of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, far removed from civilization.  Her mother was held captive in a tiny, remote wooden cabin surrounded by the swamps.  Helena was born when her mother was just 18 years old.  In fact, until Helena was about 11 years old, the only human contact she had was her father the kidnapper and her very young mother.  She never knew anything was wrong, even though her father was an abusive man and very violent, until she was much older...almost 12.
  
She loved her rugged childhood even though her father often abused her and her mother and she did love her father.  But only until she learned just how horribly monstrous he truly could be.

And then one day Helena and her mother manage to escape!!  and her father is caught.

Now it is the 21st century and life is vastly different than when Helena was a little girl.......but she finally feels free and normal......

Upon his escape from prison, Jacob (her father) kills two security guards and is on the run.  Helena knows the police don't have a clue about how to find him.

But she does.  And she has the skills.....skills her father taught her as a young girl, to track him down.  Her father is a murderer, kidnapper, and survivalist.  The world calls him "the Marsh King" because only one person was ever trained by him:  his daughter.  She knows how to track him.  She knows how to kill him.


Unless, he finds her first.


MY THOUGHTS

Well, the art work on the cover is what drew me to take this book out...that and the jacket description.

The premise behind the book is remarkable.  A fairy tale in which the characters of that tale are similar to the characters in Helena's world.

I loved the "cat and mouse" chase and I enjoyed reading the different parts of The Marsh King's Daughter by Hans Christian Anderson which the author would put at the beginning of each chapter.

However, I often found it confusing that she jumped from the backstory of Helena and her mother into the present.  I had to be very alert in the reading of this.

It is suspenseful which I like and fast paced.  It's not a difficult read but some of the subject matter was difficult. I do understand why the author had to be graphic but it kind of turned me off several times.

The ending was pretty good but a bit unbelievable.  Overall, it was a pretty good suspense story.

In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 17 and older (due to mature content).

On a scale of 1-10,with 10 being the highest, I rate this an 8.







13 October 2017

Autumn Faves

Autumn is moving right along....it's been about 3 weeks since it began and it's odd but here in Eastern NY it is still feeling like late summer.  I'm not complaining..I am LOVING this mild autumn weather.

Let's pause and take a breath to look back on the week and find FIVE of our FAVE moments or things that made us smile in gratitude to God.  Then join in by linking up with Susanne!



FIVE FAVES

Cheryl and Cindy on the trail to Stony Pond
Central Adirondacks
7 October


Me at Stony Pond
photo taken by Cindy!
  • THREE TRAILS/ONE SATURDAY!  Last weekend, due to the long weekend, I had planned on hiking with my long time friend Cheryl.  Well, another hiking friend of mine decided to come too and since Cindy is from my area, she rode up to the Central Adirondacks with me where we met Cheryl early on Saturday morning. We decided to do THREE trails in one day since all three were quite easy. What fun we had! The first hike, to Stony Pond (really more like a small lake) was only 2.1 miles in from the road and although it began to rain, we loved every minute along this beautiful trail.  The trees up there are just about at "peak" color so we were hoping the sun would come out for the next trail on our list...and it did!  Below are some scenes from the other 2 trails we did that day.  The first was the Boreas River Trail to the Hewitt Eddy which was only 1.2 miles one way.  The last trail was to Rankin Pond which felt so isolated even though it is only .4 miles in from the road!  The scents of autumn were everywhere as were the colors!!  It was such a glorious trip!!
The Hewitt Eddy
on the Boreas River
Central ADKS




Rankin Pond
Minerva, NY
Central ADKs

  • APPLE PIE!  Sunday after church was a day filled with housework and errands because I took my Sabbath rest in the mountains the day before.  By the time I got home, my husband Dave had left for a Sunday evening writers workshop so that left me time to bake an apple pie.  Oh my...the scent of the baking apples and the cinnamon with the nutmeg just made the house smell heavenly.  It was a wicked humid day so the central air was on and for that I am grateful as well! I was laughing with my daughter as we don't ever remember the autumn weather being this hot to where we needed the AC on to bake a pie!


  • SHOPPING!  On Columbus Day, Courtney and I traveled to Lee MA to the outlet stores there.  It only took us about 45 minutes to get there and even though it was raining, we had a lovely time together.  We shopped for new work outfits at this place.  Then we ate lunch at a fabulous wrap place and made our way to the shoe store where I snagged these adorable booties.  I love them and they are so comfy!!  I wore them to work once this week and my feet felt fantastic in them.  And the best part was everything we bought was on sale! I even did a bit of Christmas shopping!  It was a super fun and productive day and I'm glad my 24 year old gal still loves to shop with her mama!


  • COOLER TEMPS!  On Tuesday, and back to work day for all of us, our area experienced cooler temps and a full day of sunshine.  I was glad to open up the windows and get the house aired out again after having the central air on all weekend.  I love sleeping with the windows open! And I'm so happy the high humidity has left!
the Perimeter Trail on the ridge
(a 2.4 mile loop)
on Peebles Island State Park
Capital Region, NYS

A spot to rest along the Perimeter Trail
next to the Mohawk River
12 October
  • AFTER WORK HIKE!  Yesterday was just one of those perfect autumn days.....blue sky, bright warm sun and cool temps (about 64 when I did this walk between 3:30-4:30 pm).  As soon as I left work at 3 pm yesterday, I knew I was going to head to the state park near my town.  I'm so glad I wore boat shoes to work which can also be ok on a trail.  I loved every minute of my solitary walk.  There were other hikers there as well but they were on the trail either way in front of me or way behind me.  There are 3 main trails at this island park...I did one I haven't done in a while which is the longest one.  It goes around the perimeter of the park.  I took so many photos but the ones shown here are the highlights of the different parts of the trail.

interesting tree along the trail on the ridge

The Mohawk River
 as it flows towards the Hudson River
That wraps up my faves list.

Whatever you have planned for this weekend, may you find peace, rest and time to savor the little things!









08 October 2017

2017 Book Review #29: The Royal Nanny

 
If you like reading about the British Royal Family or British history, then this historical fiction (fiction highly stressed) book is for you!

The author is new to me.  She has many books set in England and enjoys researching and writing about the Royal Family.  This book is set in the early 20th century when Queen Victoria was on the throne and before the current queen was even born.  It was when her dad was a little boy!  It is highly fictionalized though and the author, in her notes, does stress that.  Much of this (the characters, some parts of the plot) is based on real facts from diaries, etc but most of it is definitely fiction.

STORY SUMMARY

It is April 1897 and on the Sandringham Estate, which is the ancestral estate of the Duke and Duchess of York, their new nanny, Miss Charlotte Bill, arrives to take charge of their two sons, David and Bertie (who will eventually be the father of the present day Queen Elizabeth!).  The Dutchess is expecting child number 3 and Charlotte is excited, nervous, and exhausted....but she is about to meet Royalty!!

Charlotte takes care of a generation of Royals in such a way that their parents never could.  The boys begin to call her Lala and the name sticks throughout her entire life.  She cares for David and Bertie, and then their little sister Mary, and then George and Harry, as though they are her very own.

Soon, little Johnnie (known as Prince John to the world) is born and it is discovered that he is vastly "different".  Not only does he have epilepsy, but he displays characteristics of a child who today would be labeled "autistic" or at best, "Asperger's Syndrome".  Johnnie needs all of Lala's love, care and protection. His own parents can't.....or won't...show him love. In fact, they basically hide him from the world.

As the years turn into another year, we discover that Charlotte loves Chad the estate gamekeeper, but she turns down his proposal of marriage because she feels she needs to be with "her children".  Chad then marries a woman who has several miscarriages and dies giving birth to their one child, a daughter named Penelope (Penny).  Chad and Penny continue the friendship with Lala and Penny even gets to play with Johnnie who is the same age. Chad and Charlotte plan their wedding when all of a sudden tragedy strikes the estate!

What will the future bring?

MY THOUGHTS

This book was absolutely enthralling.  The author did a great job with her historical research on the Windsor family and explains many points in the end notes.

I found myself really liking Charlotte and Chad and wanting them to overcome all the obstacles thrown in their path.

My heart broke for Prince John and the way the doctor wanted to deal with his epileptic seizures.  I discovered upon my own research and that of the author's end notes that these methods really did exist in England during the early 20th century! (shudder).

The author does introduce Kaiser Wilhelm and the Romanov families to this story and it was interesting to read the interactions between all these Royal cousins.  I found myself wondering if she also wrote a book about the Romanov family but upon researching this, I don't think she has.  She has written many novels and one series is beckoning to me (the Cold Creek Series).

This particular book gets into the daily lives of the Royal family and what it was like, especially for the servants and the women during that era.  Women's suffragette movement is mentioned as well as WWI and briefly, towards the end, there is mention of Winston Churchill, Adolf Hitler, David (actually known as Prince Edward) as an older adult (the prince who decided to abdicate the throne to his brother Bertie.  Bertie is based on the King who was the father of England's current Queen, Elizabeth.  Bertie is also the king who stammered and in which the movie The King's Speech is based on).

The author included a list of the Main British Royal Characters and their names/titles. I found this very helpful.

I loved this book because it is written from the perspective of a nanny who really seemed to love all of the children as though they were her own.  The ending left me choked up and brought tears to my eyes. 

The famous quote "It is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all"  (Alfred Lord Tennyson) appears towards the end of this story.

  And that says it all.


In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 14 and older.

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I rate this a 10.





06 October 2017

October Faves

It's Friday and as of 2 pm I will be on a 3 day weekend due to the USA celebrating Columbus Day.  For now, I'm sharing FIVE of my FAVE blessings from the past week and linking up at Susanne's our Canadian host who will be celebrating the Canadian Thanksgiving.  Please join in and share something you are thankful for this past week.

FIVE FAVES

Fenimore Art Museum
photo courtesy of the Otesego Institute
  • ANNUAL AUTUMN DAY AWAY  Last Saturday my sister Joy and my oldest daughter Courtney went with me to Cooperstown where we explored the Dick Button Collection of figure skating art and sculptures followed by lunch at this place and then shopping at Fly Creek Cider Mill where I bought several Christmas gifts.  What a fun day despite the very chilly temperatures (it never got above 52!) and grey clouds. My fave part of the day was seeing the costumes of Peggy Fleming and Dorothy Hamill......figure skating is my fave winter Olympic sport to watch. 


  • LATE AFTERNOON BIKE RIDE: Monday was just perfect weather for autumn.  It was in the high 60s and sunny without a cloud in the sky!  The sky was so cerulean blue...a fave..so I changed out of my teaching clothes and into biking clothes and off I went for a wonderful 5 mile bike ride.  It made dinner late but it was worth it. 

Apple Pie Sensory Play
for ages 3-5
  • SUCCESS!  Last week, I was in charge of planning the sensory and fine motor activities for the special ed preK class I work in, so I found this Apple Pie Sensory play lesson on Pinterest and decided to tweak it a little to fit our classroom/children.  I wiped down our water table, added steel cut and regular cooking oats, a half bag of brown sugar, a bunch of cinnamon, ginger and real apples.  Then I added a couple of cookie cutters, bowls, scoops, small bottles.  This was a HIT with most of the 3-5 year olds but especially with our students who are on the autism spectrum. (they tend to need sensory input more than typical children ).  Out of 10 students, we have 4 who are autistic and they are all non verbal.  We also have a Down Syndrome child who signs, and children with emotional and speech/language concerns.  None are speaking at age level.  This activity really brought out language.  I loved it!  Even 2 out of the 4 non verbal children started using many words as they pretended to bake pies and muffins.  It was such a hit that next week I am adding more baking items. I love when lessons are a success.


  • CARE PACKAGE SENT!  So, I finally gathered some seasonal items to mail off to Claire in a care package. I had made vegan Pumpkin Bars on Sunday and wrapped them up for Claire and her roommate, along with a cute pillow for her bed, a drinking glass, vegan vitamin c (her last bottle of vitamin c contained milk!), and her fave vegan protein bars.  I sent it via UPS on Monday after work, and she texted me Tuesday afternoon saying she had just picked it up from the mail station at the university. She loved it!  And because gifts is my love language, my heart was full.
photo taken from Pinterest
  • FOOT BALM:  Oh my goodness.  This is my new fave for my feet.  I am on my feet A LOT during the day as any teacher is.  Yes, we sit and play with the children on the floor a lot as well but the agency I work for has a shoe requirement:  no open footwear, closed toes only.  SO...my feet get so tired because I am a lot like Claire.....I prefer barefeet or open toed shoes.  Well, this lavender foot softening balm is so soothing..and perfect for worn calluses or tired toes.....I put it on just before swinging my feet into bed and it smells so soothing, too!


That wraps up my faves for the week.

Whatever you have planned for this long holiday weekend, please do take time to give thanks to our Father in Heaven. 


 HAPPY THANKSGIVING, CANADIAN FRIENDS!

Happy Columbus Day weekend, USA FRIENDS!