book · reviews

The Patchwork Bride- book review

This week when I was at the library I quickly picked up on book and then couldn’t decide what to get for my second book. I wanted a few different books, but they were not available.

I was looking through the “to be restocked” carts for a book that Colby wanted and happened upon The Patchwork Bride, by Sandra Dallas. I’m not sure what caught my attention, the cover is pretty plain and I had no clue what the story would be about from the title, but I picked it up anyway.

When we got home, I decided to dive into this book first. I just finished reading it.

Ellen is working hard on finishing up the bridal quilt she is making for her granddaughter June, when June shows up on her doorstep. June has run-away. She left her fiance. She left her family who was planning the wedding. She ran to the comfort of her grandparent’s farm. When June was a child she loved spending summers at this farm, and felt this was the place to go and seek comfort.

Ellen decides to tell June the story of a girl, Nell, who ran away from not one but three weddings.

Nell lived with her grandparents on their farm in Kansas. She did not see any ideal options for men to marry in the town she lived in, so she left Kansas and went to live with her aunt Lucy in the New Mexico Territory. She lived and worked on the Rockin’ A as a hired girl. She learned to live the life on the ranch and handler not only her chores but working side by side with the hired hands. There Nell meets “Buddy” who she plans to marry, but Buddy breaks her heart and she runs away home to Kansas.

She then decides to travel to again. Twice more she meets men who ask for her hand in marriage. Twice again she realizes that this isn’t meant to be.

Will Nell ever find the man of her dreams. Will she find a man to marry her so she doesn’t have to become an “old spinster” living in someone else’s house? Will this story help June with her crisis of heart?

I encourage you to read this realistic historical fiction book. It is set back in the 1890s when life was very different for women and the country. It was an easy read, and very romantic at time (not smut at all just good old fashion romance). I would not call this story a romance novel, but more of a real life story.

I didn’t want to put it down when I got to the end of the book. I was happy with the ending even if I had already picked up on the direction it was taking. It is a good read and I would encourage you to read it too!

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family · food · reviews · through my camera lens

Good and Plenty and Issac’s – restaraunts

Ok, I said I was done posting about the trip, but then I realized I took pictures at two restaurants to why not share that info too?

The days we were at Hersey we ate breakfast at the hotel and lunch and dinner inside Hershey. Monday and Thursday we ate dinner at the hotels. We stayed at Homewood Suites for both locations. They have a decent breakfast and Monday-Thursday most Homewood Suites have some type of “evening reception” which while it isn’t a full meal is enough to make do.

On Friday, we ate both lunch and dinner out at restaurants. For lunch, we walked over to Issac’s. It was in the same plaza at the ChooChoo Barn. Blake and Colby had build your own sandwiches. Blake had ham and provolone. Colby had turkey, bacon and cheese. Richard had the pterodactyl–  Smoked ham, Genoa salami, melted provolone and Swiss, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, vinaigrette, French bread. I had the magpie– Grilled chicken breast, melted provolone and Parmesan, bacon, spinach, pesto, ranch, flatbread.

For dinner we went to the Good and Plenty. Ok this is a true tourist trap, but a must do once in your life. This is said to be “authentic Dutch Cooking”.  The food is served family style, Each day they have fried chicken, 2 other proteins, corn, another vegetable, mashed potatoes and so much more. Appetizers were bread with fresh butter, cottage cheese, apple butter, apple sauce, chow chow (a pickled veggie combo) and pepper cabbage. Dinner was fried chicken, pot roast, ham loaf (think meat loaf with ham… it was strange I tried a bite), corn, peas, mashed potatoes, and noodles. Desert was cheesecakes, shoo fly pie, cracker pudding (graham cracker, coconut pudding… very strange taste and texture), cheery pie and ice cream (chocolate, vanilla and orange sherbet).

book · reviews

Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder– book review

Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder (Hannah Swensen series Book 1)I guess I’ve been in the food + mystery = good read thinking at the library lately. I posted about two food related mysteries here and here. I love reading book series and was looking for the book Peach Pies and Alibis which is the one after Pies and Prejudice, but they didn’t have it on the shelf in the library. Sooooo I picked up the first in a different food mystery series. Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder, by Joanne Fluke.  This book became a Hallmark Mysteries movie, I guess I’ll have to find that although I doubt it will be as good as the book. Plus the main character in the story had curly red hair and they have Alison Sweeny on the cover with blonde hair… ummm something is a miss there people.

Hannah moved back to her home town after her father passed away. Her sister was struggling to help their mother while trying to raise her daughter. Hannah left a life of school and academia and ended up opening her own cookie store “The Cookie Jar”. One morning before she opened her store for business she stumbled upon a murder! The milkman was late delivering her shipment and Hannah went out back to see if he was there, only to find him dead in his milk truck. Hannah’s brother-in-law, Bill, just passed his detective test and is ready to solve his first murder. Can Hannah help Bill solve the mystery?

This wasn’t a really deep book, but still a good read. I picked up another book in this series at the library yesterday. I couldn’t get the second one… what’s up with the second book in the mysteries all being MIA?

book · reviews

Palisades Park- Book review

Palisades ParkI began reading Palisades Park by Alan Brennert before we left for Hershey and finished it up on the trip. It worked out to be the perfect story to read right before traveling to a theme park. While I am way too young to have ever experienced Palisades Park, and I didn’t grow up in NJ, I at least had heard of Palisades Park before reading this story.

Palisades Park begins by telling you the back story of how Eddie and Adele met and fell in love at Palisades Park in the 1930s. Eddie had left home as a teenager and started off by jumping from carnival to carnival. He would take any carnival job he could get and then hop on the nearest train and find another carnival to join and make a bit of money.  He then decided to get off the train back in NJ and go to Palisades Park, the place he remembers from his youth with a smile. Adele began her life working for her father as an actor, but when the movie industry moved to CA, her father stayed in NJ. Adele got a job working at a root beer stand at Palisades Park.

Eddie and Adele get married when she gets pregnant.  They decide to purchase a French Fry stand in Palisades Park and work it together. They have a beautiful daughter which they named Antoinette. Antoinette, who decides to refer to herself as Toni, much to her mother’s chagrin. She enjoys playing with her brother Jack and the rest of the boys in the neighborhood. She spends her days at Palisades where she meets Bunty Hill who teaches her to swim and later dive right in the pool at Palisades.

Toni’s family has to learn to deal with the Great Depression, Eddie enlisting in World War II, the Palisades Park fires, discrimination and so much more. Can the family survive the changes and growing up and growing apart that takes place in life? Will Toni figure out how to reach her own goals in a world that sees her as just a girl? Can Jack find his place in the world? Will Eddie find a way to keep his head above water after the war? Will Adele ever find a way to accomplish her dream of being a movie star?

This was a great historical fiction. I enjoyed this story and felt it was an easy read. There were things that were predictable, but it didn’t make the story feel predictable. You will find yourself wanting to read what happens next. The story begins with Eddie as a boy himself and ends after Palisades Park closes in 1971. I enjoyed the fact that Toni was given a backbone and stood up for what she believed in during a time when it was frowned upon. I also enjoyed reading more about the life of the people who worked in Palisades. It gives you enjoy of a glimpse into the backstage life of the workers and their relationships. Being at Hershey while reading this I noticed many of the rides mentioned in this book as well it gave me an appreciation for the people who choose to work in the parks.

I encourage you to pick up Palisades Park by Alan Brennert, I know I will be looking at other books written by him.

book · Education · family · life · reviews

Grit- part 1 — seeing grit in yourself and children

Grit BookI have been reading the book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth. I haven’t finished reading it just yet, but I wanted to share some of my insights to this point.

Grit is a term that was starting to be tossed around in education before I left teaching. Grit is the stick-to-it-ness of people. This book dives into how grit comes about and how it effects each person in their lives.

I have always felt that I am rather gritty in life. I know that I am in my career path. I am a make a goal, stick to the goal type of person. I know that life isn’t perfect. I know that I am not perfect. I also know that I need to stick to the things that I want to accomplish and that both the successes and failures will assist me in growing in my career. I look at each academic year, each new class of children, as an opportunity to grow and develop as a teacher.

I have over the years seen the difference between a child who has grit and those who do not. So much of education and assumed to be based on ability. While having a high ability often makes school easier, it is not the only factor in a child’s success in school. Over the years the children who have made the biggest impact on me are the ones who work hard and overcome the deficits they come to me with. The kindergartners who did not go to preK and hardly know how to write their name and leave writing sentences. The children who come into the classroom not speaking English and leave as fluent readers and writers. The children who do not recognize their numbers and leave understanding addition and subtraction.

But it isn’t only the students who go from below grade level to on grade level who have grit. Some of the children who I worked with that had the most grit were my special needs children. The ones who fight through the pain, both physical and educational pains. The children who struggle to speak in complete sentences who want nothing more than for you to listen to their story.

What I have seen, in my own sons, as well as many gifted children, is that the gifted children often develop grit later than others. Children who learning come easy to do not have to push themselves to gain academic knowledge. They do not have to work to learn, it just happens. So what do we do for these students? How do we help them gain the passion and perseverance to grow in life? How do we help them learn to overcome adversity and move on with life? This in itself is a form of learned helplessness. They feel that they can do anything so when things do not go smoothly they do not know what to do next.

For Blake, he hit this struggle this year. In math this year he actually had to work. He needed to practice the skills worked on in class. He struggled to complete homework assignments and needed to learn to ask for help. He needed to see that even if he got things wrong the first time he could go back and try again. He is learning that life isn’t simple. That all learning isn’t just a matter of showing up and then knowing how to do everything. One of the big things that Richard and I did was let him struggle. He needed to fail. He needed to see that even after he failed he could do it.

As parents we want our children to be successful. We want our children to feel pride. But, are we giving them true pride by using empty praise? When we do things for our children what are we telling them? What happens when you praise a child for their ability and not their practice? What happens when everything easy? How do we push children without hurting them? Is it bad for them to feel hurt from time to time, or will that actually encourage them to step up and try again harder next time?

How do you find that fine line between helping and hurting. If you do too much you are inviting a feeling of learned helplessness. If you do not help enough at certain times are you also bringing on those same feelings? Where is that fine line? Do gritty parents raise gritty kids? Can you increase your level of grittiness in yourself? In your child? The answer is yes, but is isn’t easy and there are many things that must fall into place. Finding something that you are passionate about and finding the perseverance to stick to the thing you are passionate about no matter what is thrown in your way… that is grit.

 

 

book · life · reviews · Uncategorized

Star Girl and Mockingbird book reviews

This summer the boys and I got library cards. We have been going to the library every week. Each week Blake gets 7-9 books and Colby gets 5-7 books. I have been picking up 2 books each week. I am always shocked to see that we have plowed through the books and are ready to return them the next week.

The last two weeks Colby has been choosing books off a list we found of books for children who liked the Wonder series. He asked me to read one last week and one this week.

Book - Stargirl by Jerry SpinelliLast week he had me read Star Girl, by Jerry Spinneli. Star Girl is written about how a school deals with “The new girl” who starts school for the first time. Leo tells the story of how Star Girl changes Mica High from the first day she arrived. Star Girl did not look, act or even think like anyone else in the school. Is it good to be THAT different? Can the positive energy and unique desire to be happy all the time, that is Star Girl, bring about a change in the culture of a whole school, or at least a few of the students there?

I really enjoyed this story and so did Colby. I believe in some ways he could relate to Star Girl. He was just the new kid and he too is very emotional, passionate and always wants people to be happy. Now don’t get me wrong he doesn’t dress crazy, or call himself a unique name, or go out of his way to feel that different, but he knows his personality draws people in and makes them happy.  This is a YA book and one that is a good read for teen and tweens. The story is written from the voice of Leo and how he reacts to Star Girl. Both male and female readers can relate to this story.Book - Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine

Colby and I both plowed through the book Mockingbird, by Kathryn Erskine yesterday. It’s not that the book was super short, it was just that good. Caitlin is in the fifth grade. She is bight, a gifted reader and a talented artist. Caitlin also has Asperger’s syndrome. Before, her brother Devon helped her negotiate how to fit into a world that makes little to no sense to her. But, then the unspeakable happened. Devon was killed in a school shooting. Her father doesn’t no know to deal with his own emotions never mind those of his daughter. The school counselor tries to help Caitlin see that with a little guidance she can understand empathy and then understand how to help herself and so many other people in her life that are hurting after this tragedy.

This book is a good ready for anyone! It was an interesting look into the thought process of a child with Asperger’s. I have taught children with this and I could relate. I have know children with his and see how they just don’t fit in even when they don’t realize they don’t fit in. They see the world through their own set of eyes. This book did an excellent job of showing how important it is to see each person for their strengths and that if you just step back and look at the person for their strengths and not the aspects of why they don’t fit in you may see you have more in common than you realize.

The theme of school shooting plays a back plot in this book. It is not discussed in great details, but more deals with how this effects those left behind. The purpose seemed to be to connect a variety of characters to the same tragedy. This is something that is being addressed in schools on a regular basis, and helping children see how the shooting effects more than just the victims themselves may help children see this act in a new light as well.  (this is also a YA story)

food · reviews · through my camera lens

Freedom Pizza and Deli

A few weeks ago we went out to eat lunch at Chipotle and the parking lot was packed. So we decided to try a different place. We ended up at Freedom Pizza and Deli, which was a new to us place. When we went that time, I didn’t even think to take pictures of the foods until we were done eating.

Today we lost power from about 11:45-2pm. Richard, Blake and Colby came back from mountain biking right after the power went out. We decided that it would be a good opportunity to go back to Freedom Pizza and deli.

This time we purchased an extra large pizza (half pepperoni/half cheese), Alfredo pasta (for Colby) and an Italian “Wedgie” – think Stromboli cut in half with lettuce and tomato added after cooking is complete.

We really like the pizza here and think it is probably the best pizza we have had here so far. Last time we had an Italian sub and Colby and I had wraps. These were also very tasty. We will certainly be going back there again soon!

 

book · reviews

The Secret, Book & Scone Society

When we went to the library last week, I only planned on picking up The Elite. Colby wanted to go upstairs to the non-fiction section so I decided to go check out the fiction section while I was there. I found myself browsing through the new book section

ellery adams' THE SECRET, BOOK & SCONE SOCIETYWhile I was looking at the shelves the title of this book drew me in: The Secret, Book & Scone Society, by Ellery Adams. How could I walk away from a book that has both book and scone in the title? This book is a mystery which I enjoy but don’t read as often as I do other types of fiction.

Miracle Springs North Carolina was a picturesque town. People flooded here from “the city” to bask in the tranquil nature to take advantage of the natural springs, five star restaurants and inn. While there they found so much more.

Nora who owns Miracle Books will help the visitors find the best books to read to help them heal what ails them. Many of these visitors also visit The Gingerbread House owned by Hester to get her famous comfort scones.

When a visiting business man reaches out to both Nora and Hester for help, and then if found dead on the local train tracks, the town is turned on edge. Through this the Secret, Book & Scone Society was formed. Can a group of women who all have their own daemons to deal with ban together to discover the truth? Can the find friendship and healing, or will they keep their own secrets guarded as well as their hearts?

I enjoyed this story. It was a mystery, but even more than that it was a book about trust. It is about women working together to find the strength to deal with the past and move onto the future. Can they learn to trust each other enough to help each other while helping themselves.

I know I will be searching for more books by this author tomorrow when I head back to the library!

 

 

book · reviews

The Elite– book review

When I posted about reading The Selection by Kiera Cass, many of you said you felt the story sounded interesting and that you would like to hear if I read the second book. Well… I did! This week the boys and I went to the library and the first book I picked up for myself was The Elite.

If you want to refresh your memory about what happens in The Selection, you can read my post here.

35 girls arrived to steal the heart of the prince, and now only 6 remain. America Singer still doesn’t know what she wants to do. Who should she love? Does she stay and try to become the princess or leave and go back to her first love?

America went into the selection feeling that the whole process was wrong. She envisioned the prince picking based on looks, politics and/or other reasons than love. She saw that many of the girls involved were more in getting the crown than loving the man. But that all changed the more she got to know Maxon. Now she doesn’t know what to think.

America learns more about how Illea comes to be as well as why they now live in a caste system. What does she do with this new found information? Will it change how she feels about Maxon and the possibility of becoming a princess?

I can tell you this…. I’m ready to head back to the library and pick up the next book in the series!

 

book · reviews

Hello Love– book review

You can tell it is summer by the rate I am reading books. Or maybe it is because I have been reading lighter stories lately. Last night I finished reading Hello Love, by Karen McQuestion.

This is a really cute story, predictable, but cute.

Hello Love by [McQuestion, Karen]Dan lives with his daughter Lindsay and their dog Anni. Anni, so named because Dan’t wife Christine gave Dan Anni for their anniversary. Christine passed away a year ago of cancer and Dan is trying to hold all the pieces of their lives together. Every night Anni waits for Christine to come home, which makes it hard for Dan since he knows his beloved Christine will never return again.

Meanwhile… Andrea is dealing with moving past her recent divorce from Marco. Her friend Jade drags her off on an outing where Andrea is expected to push away all the negatives of her life and as the cosmos for something more positive. Andrea plays along even though she doesn’t believe it will work.

One day Lindsay lets Anni out and she is “dognapped” from their driveway. Lindsay and Dan are devastated.

Andrea, who works for a management company, get a complaint of an illegal dog. She finds the dog there and feels the dog is being abused. Instead of calling the police, she takes the dog and claims it as her own.

Dan and Andrea’s paths cross from time to time. Will they ever realize the connection they truly have. Can they each find what they are searching for in life?

This is a great summer/beach read (even if half the book is set in the winter… that’s not important). It is an easy read where even if you know what is going to happen you want to continue to read to make sure all is right in the world. There are a less predictable moments, and those help to keep the story rolling. If you like dogs and want a happy ending story, then Hello Love by, Karen McQuestion is a good book to pick up.