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

24 February 2018

2017 Book Review #8: The English Wife

I discovered another new-to-me author and I really liked her writing style!

The first thing that caught my eye at the town library was the cover art.  I just love it.

And then I read what the book is about, and was hooked.

STORY SUMMARY

Annabelle (also known as Georgie) and Bayard (Bay) Van Duyvil seem to live a charmed and privileged life on the banks and woods of the Hudson River just north of New York City.  Their palatial home is known as "Illyria" from Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.  They have a set of twins aged 3:  Viola and Sebastian.  Bay is a descendant from  a very proper Knickerbocker family and Annabelle grew up in a Tudor style home in England.   They met in London and had a fairy-tale, whirlwind romance.

The year is 1899 and there are rumors that Annabelle is having an affair with David Pruyn their architect.  However, only Annabelle, David and Bay know the real truth.  But rumors will be rumors and there are always gossips in the circle of friends that Bay's stalwart and ever so proper mother associates with.

Bay has one spinster sister named Janie.  And his cousin is Anne who is married to Janie's ex-boyfriend Teddy Newland.  But Janie really didn't want to be married to Teddy and it appears that Anne really does't want to be either.

On January 6th, "Twelfth Night", Bay and Annabelle host a large ball to welcome people to their newly constructed home, Illyria.  There are about 400 guests.

Around midnight, Mrs Van Duyvil sends Anne and Janie out to look for Bay and Annabelle who seemed to have disappeared.  Bay is found dead, with a dagger in his chest, down by the river and Janie thinks she saw Annabelle floating in the river!  They never find her body!

Who killed Bay and Annabelle?  and how are they going to solve the many twists and turns this couple brought to the lives of so many people?

What is truth....and what is imagination?

Who is Annabelle really?  why was she known in London as Georgianna Evans?  And who is Georgie Smith?? 

 And why was Annabelle protecting Bay??

The news reports all say Bay killed his wife and then killed himself.  But his sister Janie knows that can't possibly be true.  She decides to enable the help of one journalist, Mr Burke, to solve this crime.  Because she is convinced a crime was committed but not at the hands of her beloved brother.

As she begins to delve into the clues, and into Bay's life, the things she thought she knew about her brother and his wife all begin to unravel.

Where will this lead??

MY THOUGHTS

Excellent character development and setting. I was immediately hooked because of the plot but also because of the description of the setting and the very real places that are only about an hour south of my home.

This book is a bit of romance, drama and mystery.  It's about family saga, the marriage relationship, familial relationships, and friendships.  It is about how sometimes a person is something vastly different than what they portray themselves to be.  This book also touches on the topic of homosexuality.  But it is done discreetly and the language is never improper.  

One chapter is the present, 1899, and then another chapter will be the backstory, in 1894.

The plot is very interesting and took a turn in the middle that I was NOT expecting but it was brilliant!  I don't want to give details because I don't want to ruin it for anyone who might want to read the novel.

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.

I'm going to check out some of her other novels at some point!



23 February 2018

Winter Break Faves


It's been a nice, relaxing week as I've been home all week on Winter Break!

I do miss my preschool  students and I'm hoping they are all getting healthy and ready for the next month of learning.  Meanwhile, I've had some little blessings in the week that I'm sharing for the FFF post.  Link up at Susanne's to share yours!


  • GUATEMALA GIFT!  Dave arrived back in town late last Saturday night and he had a gift for all of us.  A beautiful blanket for Courtney and coffee for me. Claire will receive her tea when she is home for spring break next month. I do love Guatemalan coffee.  Thank goodness we have a grinder because he could only get it in whole bean this time.  It is amazing!!  He knows my love language for sure!  (and the missions team had a wonderful week of serving...thank you to all who prayed for my husband)
Adirondack Country Store
Northville, NY

my cousin Kenny and I
at a north country diner
  • TRIP NORTH:  my cousin Kenny and I hardly ever get together but when we do we always enjoy good food and conversation.  I did a little shopping first in his village, which happens to be the same village where my mother grew up and where I would spend my summers at our family camp.  It's located in the southern Adirondack mountains and they still have 15 inches of snow up there!  However, I loved the fresh mountain air!  There's nothing like it!  I did some shopping and then met Kenny for lunch at a little diner I'd never been to. The prices were fantastic as was the food!  We then followed lunch with a glass of wine at a local sports pub we like.  It was good to get together with my cousin and I'm thankful we have stayed in touch.
Lunch on my deck!

our backyard on 21 February at 70 degrees!
  • SPRING TEMPS!  WOW....on Wednesday, we woke up to very warm temps and the day got up to 73 degrees in the Capital Region!  I loved it!!  Of course yesterday we were back to 34 degrees and cloudy when I woke up.  But still.....I enjoyed the sunshine, took a drive to a new-to-me nature preserve where I will be hiking next month and came home to eat lunch on the deck!  I loved it!!  Thank you God for that brief respite of spring temperatures!  







  • LUNCH DATE!  I had a lunch date yesterday with my dear friend and spiritual mentor.  Oh my goodness.  We decided to try a rather new-to-us place right in town.  Apparently they've been around for 20 years but recently moved to our locale.  You can see their menu here.  They use all fresh produce and organic items as well as super foods.  It is amazing. The best part was sharing great conversation and prayer with my dear friend and mentor.  I had to run some things by M and get her spiritual input,  and she asked me to pray for some specific things and then asked my input on something. It was such great conversation from a spiritual aspect. It was also great  to catch up on family news from one another.  We'll do this again in the late spring.  I'm so very thankful for good Christian friends who love to stay connected!





  • IN MEMORY OF:  By now most of the world has learned of the Rev Billy Graham's death....er....new life with Jesus in heaven!  AMEN!  I was teary-eyed when I first heard the news because he was such a great preacher and so full of integrity.  And because our pastor served under him, he made a video in memory of him.  Dave and I had the pleasure to see Billy Graham at his Albany Crusade in July 1990.  We had just come back from our honeymoon! I'm so thankful for the legacy Billy Graham leaves this world and for the fact that he served well and represented Christ well.  Hopefully this link will work for you so you can hear my pastor's remarks. Please click on the link and it will bring you right to the tribute.





That wraps up my week.

I hope you all have a relaxing weekend.



18 February 2018

2018 Book Review #7: Close Your Eyes

Oh my word.

Discovered a new-to-me author again, this time compliments of my youngest sister Jill.

He writes about psychological thrillers/mysteries.  Very fast-paced and excellent plot!

The author used to be an investigative journalist.  You can kind of tell by his writing.  Love this guy and he reminds me of Patterson minus the frenetic pace of Patterson novels. (Alex Cross novels...some of my very faves!)

STORY SUMMARY

Early one Sunday morning, a mother (Elizabeth Crowe) and her teenage daughter Harper Crowe, are discovered murdered in their farmhouse.  Elizabeth  was stabbed over 30 times in brutal fashion.  Harper was found lying in the Sleeping Beauty position, clearly posed. Of course, Dominic Crowe, the father of Harper and husband of Elizabeth, is one of the first suspects, as is their stepson, Eliot Crowe, a drug addict.  Even the farm boy, Tommy Garrett,  from the neighboring farm is a suspect.

Who killed Elizabeth and Harper??  and WHY?? 

and why was there an open Bible on the coffee table??

Joe O'Loughlin, the forensic psychologist, was called in by the DCS boss Veronica Cray, known as Ronnie Cray.  His good friend and detective, Ruiz is also assigned to the case.

One of Joe's former students, a young man named Milo Coleman who labels himself "the mindhunter" has jeopardized the investigation by leaking some details to the media.  This of course stirs up much public anger and alarm.

Joe begins to discover a link between the farmhouse murders and a number of vicious attacks where the victims are choked unconscious and left with a horrible scar carved into their foreheads reminiscent of The Scarlet Letter.

And then one victim dies......

.......and all hell breaks loose.

Joe's oldest daughter Charlie, a senior in high school, wants to help Joe with parts of the investigation.  Her mother, Julianne, whom Joe is separated from, is not keen on the idea but Charlie wants to major in Psychology once she is at university.  Between keeping an eye on her little sister Emma, aged 10 and helping her dad, she is busy.  Julianne, meanwhile, has been recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer and has asked Joe to come back to their home to live. Will their marriage be put back together during this ordeal??

As all the clues begin to come together like a well put together puzzle, and just when they think they have the perpetrator, the unthinkable happens!!

Emma and Charlie are snatched by the perpetrator. 

And Joe is left trying to not only save his daughters' lives, but tries to capture this perp before more people are wounded and killed.

Will he succeed??


MY THOUGHTS

Wow.  A gripping fast paced book that I really had trouble putting down and getting to bed on time!

The setting was well done and the perpetrator's voice opens the story.  Each chapter that is in the perp's voice is like we the reader are inside his mind hearing this thoughts.  In fact, the author puts the entire chapter in italics.  Then the next chapter will be the actual story.  It continues like this until you think you know the perpetrator.

I was totally shocked by the actual perp and by the ending.

The only negative things I have to say about this book are that there were several editing errors and the language used in the perp's voice was just yucky.  Swearing and gutter talk.  A real turn off for me and which I won't give a 10.

Other than that, the actual plot is brilliant, the character development is amazing and now I want to read his earlier books.  It appears that Joe O'Laughlin is a main character in the other novels as well.

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

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I rate this a 9.






16 February 2018

NEW Faves

This week was busy but there were so many little blessings that it was hard to choose just 5.  The good news is that Dave and the 16 other church volunteers going to Guatemala last weekend, made it there safely. They return very late tomorrow night! So, thank you to those of you who said you would pray for my husband and the Missions Team.

Let's take a moment to share FIVE of our FAVES from the past week and link up at Susanne's site to join in on and read other FFF posts.

  • NEW WALL ART:  This past week, a new wall hanging I ordered about 2 weeks ago was finally shipped to me.  It hangs where a summery photo usually hangs in my living room but this Christmas I had swapped out the summer still life for a quote about His Presence.  Well, once February arrived I knew I wanted something to get me through the winter and into spring that didn't reek of Christmas!  This wall art was the perfect thing!  I'm thankful it arrived before Valentine's Day.  I love it because cardinals are my absolute fave birds!


  • NEW DIFFUSER:  I have never owned a diffuser and since I'm getting into essential oils and one of my sisters really likes hers, (as do several of my friends and co-workers) I began to look for coupons for them.  CVS had them on sale last weekend and I had a $5.00 off coupon plus I had some "extra bucks" to apply towards it!  I LOVE it.  It has rotating colors when on or you can choose by just a touch of the button, to not have any colored lights.  I use oil of lemon in it and it makes the house smell so fresh and clean!  It is supposed to be good for breathing in dry forced hot air too so is perfect for the winter months when all the windows are closed.  I also bought one called Calm (for sleeping) but the smell just gave me a horrible headache.  It's the lavender and patchouli  in it which I should have known as I have had issues with those scents in the past. So for now, I will stick with the lemon.  I'm thankful it was on sale!


  • VALENTINE'S CARD:  Well, since Dave is away on the missions trip and this was our firstValentine's Day in 28 years that we haven't spent it together (married for 27, friends for 28), I tucked a special card into his suitcase with the message "Do not open until 14 February".  Guess what?!  He did the same thing for me!  He tucked in behind my daytimer on my desk with just a little corner peeking out.  I loved the message he wrote inside about being a wife who supports him on missions and that just warmed my heart, knowing that we had the same thoughts!  I'm thankful he got to go and serve in Guatemala and I'm thankful it's just once a year! 



looking from the deck of the art house on to the Mohawk River/Erie Canal
14 February

a little snow family along the bike path

The Mohawk River from Bike Trail
  • EASY HIKE!  Oh my goodness.  When I left work at 3 pm on Wednesday, the temp was 51.  Guess who dashed home to grab trail sneakers, a snack and re fill my water bottle to hit the trails along the river in town??  This girl!  My first time "hiking" (more of a walk) since November.  My heart was full, my body was refreshed and my soul just soared.  Several people were walking, running or doing what I was doing and "hiking" off trail to tramp in the quickly melting snow and snap some photos of the changes that late winter brings.  The little snow family was adorable and I'm assuming some young preschooler went there with his/her mama earlier in the day.  I'm thankful I live so close to good trails that don't require driving north or east to the mountains so that I can get in a bit of nature and fitness after work!
  • SCRABBLE!  Wednesday evening, since my oldest daughter isn't dating anyone right now, left she and I alone in the house to watch some figure skating (by the way...the opening ceremony in Korea was phenomenal was it not??!) and play a board game.  We chose Scrabble because it had been several years since we'd played it together and most of our other games requires more than 2 people.  What fun we had just relaxing in the family room after dinner.  I'm thankful she is still willing to hang out with her mama!


And now....as of 2 pm today, I am on WINTER BREAK until February 26th when we return to the classroom!  The preschoolers need a break as well as us teachers!

Have a restful weekend!!

Happy Lent to those of you who are Catholic!



11 February 2018

No Matter What

 Ah.....

that first cup of coffee in the wee hours of the morning, dawn yet to break across the sky and day unfolding to be busy........

Shower, breakfast, devotional, making lunch,  out the door to commute across the river, sitting on the bridge inching slowly east   as car after car going west whizzes past and I'm pondering life as an almost empty nester and back to teaching full time and making lessons and teaching language and play and fitting in the work outs and dinner prep and clean the house and find time to connect with husband, and with oldest daughter, and small group prep and a social life with friends and church and..........

you get the idea.

We are busy.  Americans don't really know how to rest, I have been reading.  Europeans get it.  They incorporate a rest time into their actual work day!

They take a month vacation, many of them, with no threat to their jobs.

Americans are lucky if they get a week.

and so as I ponder this life in this season, I begin to reflect on some Scriptures I've read recently about rest. And yet, it isn't all about actual physical rest.  I need to rest spiritually.

I need to let all of the above earthly things...although all good things...just go and let God control them.  Give them over to God for Him to do with them what He purposes.  I'm finding many Scriptures on spiritual rest.

Here's one I've been savoring:

"In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength.....therefore God will wait, that He may be gracious to you; and therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you.  For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for Him."
 ~Isaiah 30:15, 18~

 I started researching what this portion of the Word means.

This is a picture of Israel having trouble with trusting God. They had  trouble depending on God alone. They had left God due to their fears.  They are being exhorted to come back to God by their faith.  Of course, this applies to us today.

Rest refers to quietness here.

And returning refers to confidence.


We have to rest........to give God our plans and purposes.  When we have the confidence of God..that known trust, we can rest!  We can still our hearts and minds in Him knowing He will lead us.

When we trust God, He brings strength to us.  We can be assured that He is working for us.  And in so doing, we will glorify Him.

The second part of that Scripture is about God waiting.  He has mercy and grace to impart to us.  He will wait for us to come to Him.  To trust Him.

This is a promise!  We can stand on the promises of God to give us renewed hope and strength!

I'm sure commentators would explain this much better than I.  I'm sure they would delve into the history of the Jews and why they had so much trouble just trusting God.

For me?  I just need to let go each day of the things I hold on to ever so  tightly.....every thing that comes my way....and see it as a God moment....to be in the present while I trust Him for the future.  And if I am stuck in traffic on that bridge inching ever so slowly to work....I can know that God sees this too....He sees me struggling with patience and He whispers...."let it go".  Trust me to see you through to the other side.

It works......a peace will wash over me.

And if it works for me, it will work for you.

Trust him....rest in Him.....and He will give you the strength.

 No matter what the circumstances.






09 February 2018

2018 Book Review #6: After the War is Over

Historical fiction.

Set just after WWI.

England.

What's not to love?

This author is new to me although several authors I like and read recommended her books.

STORY SUMMARY

Charlotte Brown, single and in her early 30's, spent 4 years as a military nurse during WWI.  She is the daughter of a vicar and has always wanted to be a person who helps others.

She moves to Liverpool and puts all of her energy into her job with Miss Rathbone and several other girls.  She helps displaced families get their needs met.

When she isn't at work, she reads books and writes for the Herald newspaper, run by John Ellis. John is a good friend who is considered somewhat radical.  He allows Charlotte to write about women's rights and the plight of the poor.


She lives in a boardinghouse with several other women, all of whom she considers friends.  Her very good friend is Lilly Cumberland of whom she used to tutor as a governess when Lilly was a teenager.  Lilly is now engaged to Robbie and Lilly's older brother Edward, is still in touch with Charlotte whom he hired before the war broke out.  He has always really liked Charlotte and she has always admired him, yet knows that he is out of her league as he is already engaged to be married to the very pretty Helena....a result of an arranged marriage due to money.

Now that the war is over, however, Edward, now known as the Earl of Cumberland, is just a shadow of his former self.  He now drinks too much, smokes too much, and is depressed.  He also had one leg amputated from a war injury and wears a prosthetic.  This does not bother Charlotte in the slightest but he feels "less of a man".

Can Charlotte find her true voice and help change the course of women's rights as well as help change her own life?  and what about Edward??  Will he discover his true path in life?

MY THOUGHTS

This book was pretty good but not outstanding.

I've read much better historical fiction. (Pam Jenoff, Tatiana de Rosney (my absolute fave!!), Anthony Doerr, Kirstin Hannah, Dan Brown)

The characters are well developed as is the setting but the overall plot is just ok.

It is predictable, and doesn't move forward fast enough for me.

Something that bugged me was that it starts out in the present, then shifts to the past, then present, then past, etc. and sometimes this was a bother and too abrupt. The author did put the setting and time at the beginning of each chapter but I found with this type of story, I prefer either a Part One all in the present, with a Part 2 in the past, or vice versa.

Also, I found that the story was just a bit too smug.  Everything worked out so perfectly for Miss Charlotte.  I thought it was a bit sappy. There was a section where Charlotte is caring for Edward, alone in a cottage, and they end up in bed together so he can feel comforted and sleep. Well, in the time frame that this was set, I don't think that really would have happened especially with such a proper lady as Charlotte!  Nothing "happened" and the point was to show that she could comfort him like no one else and that they really did love each other.  However, I just found the next scene to be way too overdone: they end up kissing and fondling and then....stopped.  Again, unrealistic!!  It just bugged me.

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 7.