29 September 2014

Learning Everyday...

The wise man should be prepared for everything that does not lie within his control.


Ah yes, there is a lesson to be learned in this! Our ferry was in dry dock for 2 weeks (this makes it 5 weeks + in 12 months) and life stood still! 
There is something unique in the quietness which descends on this tiny island when we have no access to the outside world but for the Internet/phone.

Due to circumstances beyond our control (mainly power outage) we have been on a 'reduced diet' as I call it: everything that can go in the pot will do! 
And just when we are getting used to it, our ferry is due to reappears freshly painted and ready for sailing later this afternoon.

Alleluia! A Pizza sounds delicious at this time...

And now at 1527 hours...

It never pays to get too excited...An hour out of the shipyard our ferry broke down...Sigh...
Best case scenario is a sailing scheduled tomorrow for all those who are still marooned...

(Cartoon source Martina Zeitler - more HERE)

On a final note, I just wanted to explain why you have not seen me more regularly on Blog. 
Wishing each and everyone a splendid week,

26 September 2014

Imagine For A Moment Your Life As A Children's Book...

Have you ever wondered if your life was a Children's Book, what would it be?
Victor Hugo said: "To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark."

I heartily agree with the author as once I learned my letters and could put them together to read a book, my enthusiasm knew no bounds. As a child sharing my room with my sibling meant every precious spot was coveted for my books. Reading was an escape form the ordinary and fuel for my imagination.
Later as an adult I discovered its therapeutic effect when stress was likely to overwhelm me. No need
for Prozac/Zentax or such chemicals, a page here and there relaxed me and I soon became even a 
more adept reader as I started reading in another language.

Books have a delicious way to help you to escape without any physical demand other than a comfortable place to read. I will admit my thirst for the written word is perhaps greater than for others but I have observed time and time again that most people find reading relaxing, a little like brewing a cuppa and sipping it in a favourite corner. 

Best of all, Robertson Davies' observes that "A truly great book should be read in youth, again in maturity and once more in old age, as a fine building should be seen by morning light, at noon and by moonlight". 

Personally I found 'picture' books vastly irksome when I was growing up and quickly veered towards
adventure stories written by French, Russian and Nordic writers. I have revealed in the past my penchant for such material as Marco Polo's Aventures, Rudyard Kipling's Kim, Dumas, Tolstoy, J.F. Cooper, H. Beecher Stowe, Jean de la Fontaine, Hans Christian Andersen and the likes.

The only children's books I seem to have treasured are The Little Prince by Antoine de St Exupery followed by those written by la Comtesse de Segur. I never seemed to get tired of the first and the others were an opportunity to just dream like any other little girl.

I found myself wondering my life as a children's book and realized many of the classics children read on this side of the pond never featured amongst the many tomes I read. For all the stark insights in Victorian life with such as Dickens, Gaskell, Hardy and so on, I had to first mature as an adult to appreciate the messages behind the lines.

So to conclude, I think I'll have to ponder on it, my imagination often surpassed by events I had little control over. None the less, living on 2 continents and traveling around the world, brings a lot of material to screen for an interesting formula as you can imagine.

So what about you? Just imagine for a moment your life as a Children's book...What adventures would be featured in such a book?

Have a wonderful weekend!

23 September 2014

Apple Blossom Time by Kathryn Haig, Book review

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1st U.S. ed edition (April 1998)
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312183134


Everyone assures Laura that Edwin Anstey died a hero's death in France in 1918. But Laura suspects there is something about her father unrevealed. When World War II breaks out, Laura learns what war means, and she finds love--or thinks she has. But always haunting her is the image of her father--handsome (she believes), brave (she hopes), but always, mysteriously, absent. A superbly plotted, romantic saga reminiscent of Daphne du Maurier.

My thoughts:

Praises to Kathryn Haig for bringing readers Apple Blossom Time, a WW 2 emotional tale of a young woman seeking to find 
the father she never knew. Edwin Anstey's name does not feature on the WW 1 monument erected in the village for the many soldiers who lost their life in the Flanders fields and Laura cannot rest until she knows the reason. Her mother, stepfather and grandmother are extremely tight lipped on the subject.

When WW 2 erupts Laura finds herself volunteering like many and is shipped to Egypt as a code breaker along with her close girlfriends. 
Spanning the length of the second world war conflict, the bittersweet novel gives readers a definite insight on the staggering cost to British forces as they fight to stop Rommel's advance in North Africa. Many of those young soldiers gave their life for King and Country in the faraway desert whilst thousands of miles away British soil was mercilessly bombarded leaving countless homeless. 

Kathryn Haig's protagonists easily win readers' hearts as they struggle throughout the conflict and come home to civilian life, often suffering of one form or another of PTSD. 
Reading about the myriad of little details regarding everyday life from rationing to victory gardens, sometimes on extensive manor grounds, brought a stark reality to the novel and its romantic overtone is done with good taste.
The war has come to an end for Laura, answers must be sought at all cost and when she finds a BEF officer's uniform along with a packet of letters in her grandmother's attic, her quest truly begins. 

We are reminded here that we often cannot anticipate what we are going to uncover and consequences must be met, sometimes at a cost, when searching for the truth.
For Laura however, war has already exacted a higher cost than she ever imagined and nothing will stop her from discovering the secret behind her father's disappearance.

At over 400 pages, this book is to be enjoyed without rushing but merits a resounding 5 stars for dragging the suspense until the last few pages! 
I'll be checking more of Kathryn Haig's work in the near future!

About the Author:

Kathryn Haig was born in Scotland. She has been an officer in the Women's Royal Army Corps, a civil servant and a computer programmer, and now lives with her husband, daughter and an assortment of animals in the New Forest. 

Her two most recent novels, Apple Blossom Time and A Time to Dance, are published by Corgi.

Note: This was a library loan and all opinions are mine only.

20 September 2014

An Illustrated History Of The First World War by John Keegan, Book review

  • Hardcover: 456 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1st edition (October 30, 2001)
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375412592


John Keegan's The First World War was everywhere praised, and became the definitive account of the war that created the modern world. The New York Times Book Review acclaimed Keegan as "the best military historian of our day," and the Washington Post called the book "a grand narrative history [and] a pleasure to read."

Now Keegan gives us a lavishly illustrated history of the war, brilliantly interweaving his narrative--some of it derived from his classic work and some of it new--with a brilliant selection of photograps, paintings, cartoons and posters drawn from archives across Europe and America, some published here for the first time. These images take us into the heart of battles that have become legend: Ypres, Gallipoli, Verdun, the Somme. They show us the generals' war and the privates' war--young soldiers, away from home for the first time, coming of age under fire.

We see how a civilization at the height of its power and influence crippled itself as the faith in progress, rationalism and liberalism that had prevailed in Europe since the Enlightenment was shattered. We see how four empires--the German, the Russian, the Austro-Hungarian and the Ottoman--collapsed, and how the seeds for the Second World War were planted. Keegan tells how ambition, mistrust and failures of diplomacy and communication all played a part in allowing this conflict to set ablaze what was then the world's most prosperous society. And he describes how the effects of this war lasted long after it ended; its ghosts still haunt Europe today.

An Illustrated History of the First World War carries us across the Europe of nearly a century ago, revealing the devastation, camaraderie, political machinations and battlefield maneuverings that changed the world. It presents the essential cast of that cataclysmic drama, from the decision makers at the top--Haig, Joffre, Hindenberg, Pershing--to the troops in the trenches. Through its unique amalgam of pictorial and narrative brilliance, the book illuminates the war as no other work has done.

My thoughts:

For those of you interested (as I am) in the "War That would End All Wars', there are many sites to check out on the Internet along with libraries offerings for a start.
The British Royal Legion 'Every Man Remembered' is one of the latest I have visited where I found that more than 800 British women also died during this conflict and are included in this remembrance. 
Note: This particular campaign was inspired by a British Explorer Scout who wrote to the legion after visiting a WW 1 Belgian cemetery.

2014 is of course the Centenary of the Great War and perhaps or because of this, history buffs and families from every affected continent are looking into available records. It is absolutely amazing to see how much has in fact been preserved, from first count remembrances to diaries, letters, documents and best of all, photographs.

On a note of worth, the last of WW 1 veterans, Florence Green, AAF, passed away on 4 February 2012 whilst the last combat veteran, Claude Choule, BRN died in May 2011 and Harry Patch,  the last veteran to serve in the trenches died in July 2009. 

With the advent of computerized records, folks all over the world are now able to research family members' military records. I noticed the last Belgian veteran C. Camillus Barbary passed away in September 2004 at the age of 104 years. The stories they could tell...

Back to John Keegan, a well respected name in this particular field and his latest 'Illustrated History of the First World War', which is nothing but short of magnificent in its extensive compilation. This visual record begins with the worldwide crisis of 1914 and its impact on the European theater, particularly the stalemate which emanated as both sides struggled to win the war. 

Keegan's research enabled him to produce an amazing amount of photographic records focusing not surprisingly often on the battlefields aspects and the stark aftermath of such warfare reality. One look at those trench soldiers and you will have a feel for the miserable conditions in which this war was waged and its senseless horrors.

However Keegan did not stop there, and inserted enough solid documentation about the hierarchy behind major front line decisions, some so innate as to puzzle the average reader, to satisfy any student of the period along with a fair amount of maps. 

Additionally the writer recorded the effects on civilian life during these four years of conflict for which I am grateful as a Belgian citizen, the grand daughter of a veteran serving under Albert 1. Best described as a tiny army, Belgian troops under the command of their King heroically defended major strong points until the last 60,000 survivors retreated along the coast to the estuary of the Yser river where on 27 October 2014, he ordered floodgates to be opened. The resulting inundations formed a barrier stopping the German army' advance.

From 1914 until the Armistice warfare was staged on every continent, leaving for future generations countless reminders of this conflict as shown in this illustrated record.

(Painting source: The Angels of Mons by W. H. Margetson)

Finally I would like to stress that along with the political and economical effect throughout and beyond this war, Keegan reminds the world that the military leaders of this horrific conflict were mere men presented with a near insurmountable problem, that of breaking a strong fortified front with weak, inadequate means. Errors, dreadful mistakes were made and we can only hope we have learned something from those. 
Never again would engagements be conducted in the same apathetic way.  

Excellent and well worth 5 stars!!

Note: This was a library loan and all opinions are mine only.

17 September 2014

And The Winner Is...

Christian Family Movie


The best part of any giveaway is that moment when you have the opportunity to announce its winner!
So here it is!!

The WINNER of HERO's DVD is...

I would like to share this movie with my grandson. He doesn't have any real hero figures in his life and he needs a good idea of what to look for in a hero.


I will contact you shortly to confirm your win!

A heartfelt THANK YOU to EDIFY MEDIA as always for the opportunity to offer this DVD to my readers!
This sponsor has brought to my attention many Christian films I would not otherwise have
heard of and I am always glad to pass along DOVE approved entertainment for the whole family!

And He Shall Turn The Heart Of The Fathers To The Children, And The Heart Of The Children To Their Fathers.
~Malachi 4:6 KJV~

14 September 2014

Sunday Dreams...

John W Waterhouse

~John W. Waterhouse~

When you find a Dream inside your heart
Don't ever let it go
For Dreams are the tiny seeds from
Which beautiful tomorrows grow...
(Author unknown)

Have a wonderful Sunday!

11 September 2014

Every Boy Needs A HERO, DVD review and GIVEAWAY


Christian Family Movie

Running time 94 minutes

From producers of Alone Yet Not Alone, comes a heartfelt movie about legendary small town baseball coach, Joe Finn (Burgess Jenkins, Remember the Titans, Nashville, The Shunning), who after taking his shot as a scout for the big leagues returns home to discover the damage he's done by leaving his family behind.   Now on a quest to rebuild his relationship with his son David, Joe forms a new baseball league to reinvigorate the underdog little league team his son had been coaching.  Together, as father and son, they try to put away their differences and help bring their ragtag team of ball players, “The Gappers”, to victory.
Burgess, who has a child of his own, was excited about the film.   “This movie really reinforces the importance of fathers in a child’s life.  Sports can be that vehicle to solidify the bond.”  George Escobar, a producer of Hero, wanted to make a movie that highlighted the real value in playing a sport and trying to win.   “I grew up playing sports, and this idea of playing without winners and losers just seems like a missed opportunity to teach the kids how to train themselves to win.  As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.  A rival will push you harder than the desire to do your best.  
In a movie sure to inspire fathers and sons alike, Hero presents an all-star cast including Gregory Alan Williams (In the Line of Fire, The Preacher's Kid), R. Keith Harris (Big Fish), and Mark Joy (The Ultimate Gift).    The film also includes a musical score by Grammy winner, Michael Omartian. 

My thoughts:

Gather the whole family together and watch this bittersweet story of one man seeking to amend for leaving his family!

Joe Finn followed his dream leaving behind a wife and a boy who worshiped the ground his father walked on. Life did not stand still however and his return is done under less than joyful circumstances.
He wants to make amends but is it too late to regain his son's love and respect?

If you like small town wholesome atmosphere, baseball little leagues and care about good solid family values, this movie is for you! It is a movie about filial love and caring for what really matters in life, something we parents sometime forget in our busy lives. Most important, EVERY BOY NEEDS A HERO reminds us of the influence we have on our children's lives, an important factor if we care about their future.

I give it 5 stars for its honest portrayal of a true Christian father who cares to admit he was wrong and does something about it.

And He Shall Turn The Heart Of The Fathers To The Children, And The Heart Of The Children To Their Fathers.
~Malachi 4:6 KJV~

Would you like to have your own copy of this DOVE Approved DVD?
EDIFY MEDIA graciously offered a reader a copy of Every Boy Needs a HERO!
Here is what to do:

Place a comment on this post before Midnight 16 September 2014, that's easy, right?!
Giveaway opened to Continental US only.
Winner's name will be announced on 17 September on this blog and contacted via email for confirmation.

You will want to see this one Folks!
Best of luck,

Disclaimer: I received a copy of each DVD courtesy of EDIFY MEDIA Inc. as part of the movie's promotion. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 255 'Guides concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising. I was not asked to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are entirely my own. 

07 September 2014

What Your Heart Needs For The Hard Days by Holley Gerth, Book review

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Revell (September 2, 2014)
  • ISBN-13: 978-0800722883
Also available in KINDLE format


In this uplifting book, Holley Gerth invites readers to sit down with her to be filled with the strength, peace, and joy that come from God's promises to us. Each of the 52 devotions based on the Psalms will help weary women remember that God is good and we're all in this together. Whether it's a bad hair day or a broken heart, Holley offers hope and encouragement to get us through whatever life brings.

Women need that kind of encouragement because we all have hard days--days that make us want to give up, retreat inside ourselves, and drown our sorrows in a pint of ice cream. And while we may crave all sorts of things to ease the pain we feel in our hearts, what we really need is truth. We need to be confident in God's character and his promises. We need to remember--and celebrate--who he made us to be. And we need exactly the kind of encouragement Holley Gerth loves to offer.

My thoughts:

I'll admit her winning smile and the illustration " Dream God Sized Dreams" (see photo below) helped me to decide on this potential review of Holley Gerth's called appropriately What Your Heart Needs For The Hard Days or 52 encouraging truths to hold on to!

There are of course countless devotionals on the market these days so what makes this one a little bit more special?
Let's first agree we all have good and bad days, the latter the kind where you would rather hide 
somewhere preferably where no one can find you (including the dog, the cat or/and the kids!).

In this perfectly formatted (purse size) little gem, you will find 52 devotions (I like to think of these as home truths) each one interactive to reconnect with the Lord and find a measure of peace in this (too) busy life of ours. If you are anything like me, it is the little things (piling up) which gets me. Once they start, it has a snowball effect and disaster strikes inadvertently. 

With chapters such as "God wants to lift you up when life lets you down" and "God wants to know how are you, really?" Holley reminds us of what a treasure we are in His eyes and that we are not alone. Using Psalms as references she introduces us to restful thoughts about what truly matters to us and to Him. I like to hear that we are not alone when our heart is heavy!

Of course like praying, devotions are a personal experience but this one never felt like preaching 
(one of my pet peeves) and I enjoyed reading it at leisure.

Give it a try Folks and let me know what you think!

5 Stars!

Meet the Author:

Holley Gerth is a bestselling writer, certified life coach, and speaker. She loves connecting with the hearts of women through her popular blog and books like You're Already AmazingYou're Made for a God-Sized DreamOpening the Door to Your God-Sized Dream, and You're Going to Be Okay. She's also cofounder of (in)courage and a partner with DaySpring. Holley lives with her husband, Mark, in the South. 

Visit her at http://holleygerth.com/.

Note to Readers: This book is the perfect companion to Holley's book You're Going to Be Okay.

(Photo source Holley's website - Love this one!)

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from BAKER PUBLISHING. as part of the it's promotion. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 255 'Guides concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising. I was not asked to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are entirely my own.