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

23 October 2016

2016 Book Review #62: What She Knew

I love my town library!  Between it, and recommendations from other bloggers, like this friend, I have been finding some really good books to read during the evenings after dinner.

This was a real fast-paced, page-turner that is very gripping. It's the author's debut novel.  I hope she has plans to write more!


Rachel Jenner is a single mom.  Her husband, John Finch, left her to marry another woman named Katrina, about a year ago.  John and Rachel share custody of Ben, with Ben going to John's on weekends.  They live in Bristol, England a few minutes apart from each other.

One October Sunday evening, Rachel and Ben are walking in Leigh Woods...a little park with a playground and trails not far from their home.  Ben, age 8, asks his mom if he can run ahead and she is hesitant. But not wanting to be a hovering mother, she agrees he can run ahead to the rope swing and wait for her there.  He takes off ahead of her, with their little dog Skittle.

That is the last time Rachel sees her son.

He has simply vanished.

The police arrive and they find his clothing plus sneakers in a little bag on the wooded path.  They also find Skittle who has a broken leg.

Immediately, search parties are organized, and Rachel, who is already a bit insecure due to her divorce, begins to feel herself coming undone.  Hours pass, and then days.  There is no sign of Ben anywhere!

Everyone who knew him comes under investigation.  Everyone.  Even Rachel's newly married ex-husband and her "perfect" sister Nicky Forbes.  Ben's teacher, the other school staff, Katrina...everyone who plays a role in Ben's young life.

The media has a field day with this case.  They begin to focus on Rachel and many people via social media and a blog think she is guilty.  Their attitude goes from sympathy to suspicion...all because she is a single mother.

Rachel begins to piece together her own clues...and in doing so, she discovers that people are not always what or whom they seem to be.

The biggest dangers are not always the dangerous strangers.  Rather, it is sometimes the very people you trust.

Where is Ben??  The clock is ticking......and then one week later.....


This book is full of suspense, angst, and family drama.

It is very focused on what happens in the minds of parents with missing children as well as in the minds of the detectives and other law enforcement people helping in the case of a kidnapped child.

I loved that the author included real statistics and facts regarding the exploitation of missing children and what the family unit should do/act like when waiting for closure, whatever that might be.

The book is divided into the voices of Rachel and Jim, the main detective on the case.  Each section is preceded by facts or information from real sources from Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom.  I found it a fascinating way to write this plot.

The book also goes a bit into the future...with Jim and a counselor having a conversation which is told by the reader reading the "notes" made by the counselor.  Again, a brilliant way to write this fast-moving and gripping plot, especially because it is mixed in with the present.

The character development is amazing and at first I thought the kidnapper was going to be one character who seemed to be the obvious choice.  But then.....as in real life....the predator is someone you least expect.  It is discovered by one verbal clue towards the end of the book in the voice of one of the people who know Ben well, which was just so well done.  You do have to pay attention to little details regarding Ben and his life at home to know what that pivotal point is.  It was awesome!

Of course, after reading the book, I had to say a quick prayer of thanks that nothing like this had ever happened with my own children.  Kidnappings are very real....and not all turn out the way it does in this book of course.....

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.

21 October 2016

Little Things Faves

So I had purposed in my heart, made my plans, geared my self up for writing on this blog at least 3 times a week now that I'm not working this year,  (posting recipes and book reviews don't count) and I find myself in the middle of October with nothing written other than FFF's. (and the book reviews). Hm...this must change! There are things swirling around in my head like the falling leaves swirling around my yard right now as the wind kicks in.....but for now....for today....I will just list my FIVE FAVES from the last week......they're just little things really...but blessings to me.....

I'm joining other bloggers by linking up with Susanne's site...how about joining in?  What are you most thankful for this week??

  • PUMPKIN PANCAKES:  One of the grocery stores I shop at  had pumpkin pancake mix on sale.  I rarely make pancakes and when I do I always make from a mix as is so much quicker.  To replace the eggs, I simply use ground flaxseed so my vegan daughter can eat them too.  They were DELICIOUS and went so well with the turkey bacon.  My husband especially appreciated them and it was a work day because now that I'm home I can treat him to a hot breakfast since I have the time!  It's the little things......thankful for the taste of pumpkin this time of year.

  • SWING TIME:  We still have our backyard adult swing set up as the season has been so mild. We haven't even had a hard frost yet!  Dave and I, after taking down a small tree and bagging TEN bags of brush, plus piling some to burn, sat together in the warm afternoon sun and just relaxed before going in the house to clean up.  It's just a simple thing....sitting together...but I'm thankful for those few moments of "together time". Sounds corny? Yup.  But we rarely have those moments, so that's why it makes my fave list! Here's a photo of our kindling pile for the bonfire pit.

  • DATE NIGHT WITH DAUGHTER #2:  Our youngest, way back in March, expressed an interest in going to see the Broadway version of "American in Paris" (we love and watch the original movie often in this house!).  Well, they are on tour now in our area so Dave had bought tickets back in the spring and we went on Saturday evening.  It was so much fun getting dressed up after a long day of outdoor work and homework.  We loved all the ballet in the stage version, too.  I'm thankful for a fun evening out with our Claire.

  • LUNCH DATE:  I call her my un-biological sister.  We have been friends since we were born..well...since she was a preschooler and I was a baby as she is 3 years older than me.  We are closely knit due to shared histories.  I can't imagine my life without my friend Diane.  We have been through much together and apart.  We are prayer partners and can talk about anything and everything.  We celebrated her 60th birthday by meeting for lunch on Sunday, about half way between our homes (she lives in Central NY in the same town we grew up in as she returned about 20 years ago).  I am so thankful we are friends and sisters in Christ.

  • SOAP SALE!  I had to run an errand at one of the local malls and I noticed a hand soap sale at one of my very fave stores.  The sale was buy 4 for $20!  I chose these autumn soaps (I bought 2 of the Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin) and LOVE them! I'm always thankful when there is a good sale!
images courtesy of pinterest

Those are just some little things that made for a nice week.  

What are some things that make your list?

What is your fave scent this time of year?

16 October 2016

2016 Book Review #61: The Book of James

Another book that caught my eye because of the title!

James happens to be one New Testament book that convicts me every time I read it.  Plus there is such good stuff in there about how we are to live as Believers.  So of course my eyes were drawn to this fiction book on the town library new book shelf.


Nick and Mackenzie, married for 4 years and in their early 30's, are on their way to a Boston Red Sox game at Fenway, from their home in Portland, Maine, when they are in an accident that leaves Nick seriously wounded.  He dies in the hospital after whispering these words to his beloved wife:  "As soon as they know I'm dead, they'll come after you."  Found among his things, is a slip of paper with the phrase "James 5 6".  Mackenzie keeps the paper because right before Nick slipped away he also whispered "find James".

Mackenzie is very confused...who is James???  She travels to Philadelphia where Nick is from, to hear the reading of his will, his words still echoing in her ears.

It is there, in the lawyer's office, where she learns that she does indeed have a mother-in-law, even though Nick had told her his parents were both dead. She also learns that she will now inherit millions of money.  Not thousands.  Millions. How??  What is the truth about Nick and his mother?

 The truth is, his father Bradford died when Nick was just a teenager, and although he said his mother died of cancer, she is very much still alive.  And dangerous. And Mackenzie finds out that Nick ran away from home at age 16 and never went back.  In fact, he never wanted anything to do with Cora again.  He gave up millions of dollars.  WHY??  Just who IS Cora Monroe Whitfield??

She is a recluse in a very old 19th century mansion that she has never really left.  In fact, she grew up in that mansion.  Her only friends are Ginny, a confused older woman, and Harrison, Ginny's brother who is a doctor.  What binds these 3 together?? 

Mackenzie is trying to figure out why her husband lied to her about his background and soon discovers that there is a lot more to the story than just what even the lawyer has explained to her.

Nick's mother, Cora, invites Mackenzie to stay for a week. Mackenzie soon finds out that Cora has a dangerous agenda.  She is clinging to some very deep memories and will do anything to keep the family secrets.  And there are many.

Meanwhile, Mackenzie tries to uncover a horrible truth that has long been denied.  And in doing so, she puts her life, her best friend Samantha's life and possibly her new friend Dylan's life in danger.

What does James 5 6 mean??  Is there a real James or is this just a Biblical reference??  and for what??


This is one of those "hold onto your seat" kind of stories.  It's the kind that left me staying up past midnight for the last 3 nights which means I read this book in just 3 days.  It is fast-paced, mysterious, a psychological thriller and in some ways reminded me of The Thirteenth Tale or a Margaret Atwood book minus the dystopian theme.  It is the author's debut novel.  I'll be looking for books from her in the future!

The character development and setting are just superb.  The author does a brilliant job of describing Cora....a lonely, bitter, angry, insane kind of person.  Read the story to find out why she ends up mentally deranged.

I loved the characters Dylan, Mackenzie, Ginny and Samantha.  It makes me wish there was a sequel although I know that would be odd for this type of story.  But those characters were just so lovable.

This book touches on domestic violence before women had rights or any kind of power to break away from the cycle of abuse.  It is also about bad parenting, isolation, grief, loss, murder, and bitterness.

Nick's childhood was utterly sad and twisted.....yet he was raised as a millionaire and walked away from the inheritance.  WHY???

The description of James is....well....dark.  Sad.  and I don't want to go into detail because I don't want to ruin the plot for you.

This book ends well and Mackenzie finally has peace and a sense of freedom.  But in getting there, it is a wild ride that she truly never expected to endure.

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

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

14 October 2016

All About Autumn Faves

This week has flown by!  I figured since I'm not working this year, that maybe I would be bored and the days would drag. NOT true!! Oh my goodness but this week just flew by.  We also had the long holiday weekend (Columbus Day) and my youngest had no school Wednesday due to a Jewish holiday.  So the week was jammed packed of good things to reflect on.

I'm sharing FIVE of the things that make my FAVES list by linking up with other blogging friends at Susanne's site.  It is good to give thanks to God for the moments He brings us.

Algonquin Lake
Wells, NY
Southern Adirondacks
7 October
  • ROAD TRIP NORTH! Last Friday, my oldest daughter Courtney and I took a road trip with one of my younger sisters (Hope) to the village where Hope and I spent our summers at our parents' camp.  The camp is long gone but the village is relatively the same.  We also traveled even more north, by about 20 minutes, and took photos like the one above of my favorite Adirondack Lake.  We took another road into a wilderness area that I hike in from time to time (the Wilcox Lake Wilderness Area) and took photos next to the banks of the West Stony Creek. Then we had lunch at a very nice cafe.  What glorious autumn color!  

Hope and I
on the banks of the West Stony Creek
Hope Falls, NY
Courtney with her Aunt Hope

the southern edge of the Great Sacandaga Lake
Northville, NY

  • CINNAMON COFFEE:  Oh my.  I had discovered this new Green Mountain brand coffee a few weeks ago but finally started drinking it almost every afternoon while reading or working on my Bible study.  It's called Cinnamon Sugar Cookie and it's coffee with just a hint of cinnamon.  It's so good and I was happy to find it in K-cups.  There's something about cinnamon that gets me in the autumn mood and I'm thankful I can enjoy this little autumn luxury.
image courtesy of Green Mountain

  • ANNUAL AUTUMN GIRLS DAY AWAY!  On Saturday, another of my younger sisters (Joy) and my youngest daughter Claire and I went to this small city in Vermont for the day.  This was a bittersweet time as it's our last Annual Autumn getaway.  (Claire will be in college next year!).  We have been doing these outings since the fall of 2011 when my oldest was away at college.  Although the weather was overcast and chilly on Saturday, we had a really good time and we n ate lunch at a little vegan cafe in town.  We also stopped at an overlook on the way home where we could see out to the White Mountains of NH.  Autumn is a wonderful time to visitNew England and because we live in eastern NY, it only takes a little over  an hour to get to 3 of the New England states! I'm very thankful we had such memorable trips each autumn for the last 5 years.
Claire with her Aunt Joy
downtown Brattleboro, Vermont
8 October 2016

Claire and I
Vermont with NH behind us

  • AUTUMN COLORS!  A friend of mine from church works part time so on one of her days off we headed to one of the local nature preserves for a mid-day hike.  This preserve is only 10 minutes from our houses, just in the next town to the west and the woods were just gorgeous that day!  It's always a fave of mine to have fellowship with a friend while surrounded by nature and with the autumn colors just beginning to peak, it was perfect.
in the Lisha Kill Preserve

  • COLUMBUS DAY HIKE WITH COLOR AT PEAK!! Two of my friends and I decided to climb Moxham Mountain (2360 feet high) on Monday because it was a holiday and perfect weather for an autumn hike.  Kathy and I had hiked this mountain last October and really wanted to climb it again and my neighbor-friend Melissa had never hiked it so she wanted to go, too.  What fun we had. We discovered that the 3 of us make great hiking partners because we keep a steady, somewhat quick pace and are all in synch.  We also like taking a couple of water breaks and then getting right back to hiking and lingering for lunch on the summit to enjoy creation!  It was only about 9:30 when we started and only 44 degrees F.  We quickly warmed up as we set a good pace and we were on the summit by 11:30 or so.  We were COLD on the summit so our hats and gloves came back out and we  enjoyed the view, taking many photos.  We were back down to the car by 2:30 pm and I was home by 4:30 that day!  It was heavenly being with hiking friends, enjoying the autumn colors and the Handiwork of God.

at first look out going up Moxham Mt
10 October

Gore Mt as seen from first look-out 

one edge of the summit
Moxham Mt
high peaks in the background

Melissa, me, Kathy
Cold on the summit!!
Vanderwhacker Wild Forest is below us and the high peaks are behind us

on the trail looking up towards the summit!
Yes...we climbed that!!
I'm in my happy place where I feel closest to God!!
A Naturalist all the way!!
photo taken by Melissa
the wind was brutally cold on the summit but the sun felt  awesome!

time to hit the trail back down

 That wraps up my faves list.

I hope you enjoy whatever the weekend brings to you.


11 October 2016

2016 Book Review #60: River Road

This book caught my eye because of the title.  I power walk along a bike trail/nature path that  goes along River Road here in town.  When I started reading about the author, I was hooked!  She is a professor down at SUNY New Paltz about an hour south of us in the Catskills along the Hudson River.


Ms. Nan Lewis is a creative writing professor at a small university in the Hudson Valley of New York State, called SUNY Acheron. (fictional name)

One evening, she is driving home from a faculty Christmas party, thinking about why she was denied tenure.  All of a sudden, not far from her home, she has to hit her brakes but hits a deer.  It is snowing out and she leaves her car to go look for the deer.  Not finding it, she makes her way up her driveway, as her car is stuck, and heads to bed.

The next morning, the police are at her door with some horrible news.  One of her favorite students, a young girl named Leia Dawson, has been killed by a hit and run driver down on the River Road.  Because Nan's car has some major damage, she is now a suspect.

Nan soon becomes involved in trying to solve the mystery of why and how Leia was killed.  Nan is soon released from being a suspect when the investigation does indeed confirm her story that she hit a deer.  So just who DID kill Leia...and why did they run??

The difficult thing for Nan to cope with, is that Leia has been hit right where Nan's 4 year old daughter was killed by a drunk driver six years before.  She has always blamed herself for little Emmy's death and because of the death of her precious daughter, her marriage to Evan ended in divorce.

She soon discovers little tokens related to Emmy's death at the scene of Leia's!!  

Are these two accidents connected???  and if so, by what...or whom??


This is another great story!  I've been fortunate this summer and autumn to have found some great books at our town library!

Like I mentioned above, I was attracted to the book because of the title and also because it is set in the area just south of us here in the Capital Region of NYS along the Hudson River and the Catskill mountains.

It's a fast-paced, "can't put this book down" kind of a story.  The plot moves very quickly and you can start to guess which character in the story might be the possible killer.  (I guessed correctly but the ending turned out differently than I had thought it would).

The setting is very well done as is the character development.  

This book touches on drug addictions among college students, as well as alcoholism in adults who are trying to deal with loss and grief issues.

I liked the air of mystique that the author played with in the setting of the swirling snow in the woods.....the description put me right in the mountains at wintertime.  

I plan on looking for more of this author's books as the back jacket says she has written 14 novels.  I love discovering new authors!!

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

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

07 October 2016

Early October Faves

This week flew by!

And because it's Friday, it's time to reflect back on the week and share the FIVE FAVES by linking up at Susanne's site.  

It is good to give thanks to the Lord and this is what this writing exercise is meant to be.  Those of us in the FFF community, share five blessings God brought our way.....even the simple things.

  • HOMECOMING!  Last weekend was the high school's homecoming weekend which meant it was our baby's last homecoming!  Bittersweet time.  The photos are of her last Friday for Spirit Day and then the 2nd one is from Saturday evening before she left for the Homecoming Dance with her friends.  Claire is very different from her big sis. She is less high maintenance for one thing, choosing, instead of buying a brand new dress, to wear a skirt she wore for another event and for the top she chose a former ballet show costume leotard. She did her own nails in the school colors and just wanted her hair down.  EASY!

2016 Homecoming Spirit Day
Homecoming 2016!
Claire, age 17

  • KAYAKS HOME!  On Saturday afternoon, Dave and I drove up to the state park lake where we have had our kayaks since May 1st and brought them home for the autumn/winter season.  We aren't sure if we are going to keep them up there next spring and summer or not.....there were pluses and minuses about doing so....but hopefully we will get at least one or 2 more kayaking trips in before Thanksgiving.  Our plan is to explore a little lake that just opened up to kayakers in our area.  There's a nice parking lot now and an official boat launch.  I'm excited to explore it!
Moreau Lake in early October 

  • SEASONAL SALES!  This past week I happened to be running errands in two different stores and discovered that some seasonal items were already marked for a major discount!  As in half off and Halloween has not even happened yet!  I bought an adorable teal pumpkin (teal signifies that your home has non-food treats for children with food/allergy issues) and some little trinkets as well as some more pumpkins.  Some are real and some are fake.  It was fun to save money and add some more autumn decor around the house.
non food  Halloween treats for children with food issues

my backyard afternoon reading spot

on the front stoop to signify a non-food treat house
but yes....we will have candy to give out too!
under one of our cherry trees...a real white one :)

  • NATURE WALKS:  How I am loving the mild temps, crisp, cool evenings and mornings, and glorious sun we have had this week.  I just love summer as you know but autumn is a very close 2nd....and now that I'm not working this year, it is even more of a fave. I had the privelege of walking along 2 different nature/bike paths this week and also a nature preserve hike with a friend.  Here are a few pics from my suburban town from 2 different parks.
Cows on my morning walk!

The path leading away from the cows at The Crossings Park

colored leaves are starting to arrive in NYS's Capital Region parks

my fave bike path to walk on during the daytime
already some leaves are falling here..this is a bit north of the other park in town
it runs east-west on the northern edge of town along the Mohawk River
and is a little less populated in the autumn than the town park pictured above
  • PRAYER:  I love when my husband and I get a chance to actually pray together. We used to do this more often than we have lately. A reminder in a marriage sermon from our pastor spurred us on to do this more now, like in years past. There is nothing like being united in prayer for direction, wisdom, forgiveness, guidance.  Am so thankful we get to go directly to Jesus.
Those are some of the blessings from my week............

I hope you all have a lovely holiday weekend:  Happy Thanksgiving to my Canadian friends and enjoy the Columbus Day weekend all of my USA friends.