Friday, February 28, 2014

50 Children by Steven Pressman

Based on the acclaimed HBO documentary, the astonishing true story of how one American couple transported fifty Jewish children from Nazi-occupied Austria to America in 1939—the single largest group of unaccompanied refugee children allowed into the United States—for readers of In the Garden of Beasts and A Train in Winter.
In early 1939, America's rigid immigration laws made it virtually impossible for European Jews to seek safe haven in the United States. As deep-seated anti-Semitism and isolationism gripped much of the country, neither President Roosevelt nor Congress rallied to their aid.
Yet one brave Jewish couple from Philadelphia refused to silently stand by. Risking their own safety, Gilbert Kraus, a successful lawyer, and his stylish wife, Eleanor, traveled to Nazi-controlled Vienna and Berlin to save fifty Jewish children. Steven Pressman brought the Kraus's rescue mission to life in his acclaimed HBO documentary, 50 Children. In this book, he expands upon the story related in the hour-long film, offering additional historical detail and context to offer a rich, full portrait of this ordinary couple and their extraordinary actions.
Drawing from Eleanor Kraus's unpublished memoir, rare historical documents, and interviews with more than a dozen of the surviving children, and illustrated with period photographs, archival materials, and memorabilia, 50 Children is a remarkable tale of personal courage and triumphant heroism that offers a fresh, unique insight into a critical period of history.

I must start by saying when I selected this book I did not know it was non-fiction.  My expectations were for something more along the lines of a Philippa Gregory, a fictitious portrayal of real people and a real story.  Even with this misconception I enjoyed this book. I also did not know that there was a film covering the same topic and have plans to watch it in the near future.
WWII has always fascinated me.  Why did this happen, what possessed Hitler, how come more people didn't fight back.  The story of 50 Children answered some of these questions for me. I was glued to the book when Steven started covering American Immigrations laws of the time.  He laid out, in a not so positive light on America, why Jews couldn't just leave Nazi controlled areas.  The policy of quotas per country and that everyone must be self sufficient (no monetary aid needed).  It was interesting to learn about this portion of American history.
The book is broken down into three sections, 1) The Plan, 2) The Rescue, and 3) New Lives.  Each section is tightly written with loads of information and a smattering (I could have used more) of insight into who Gil and Eleanor Kraus were. Some of the insight into who Eleanor Kraus was made her look extremely shallow.  Perhaps more so than intended because of the heavy nature of the book.
Like many non-fiction books there are a plethora of names, all of which I couldn't grasp onto and keep in my mind through the duration of the book.  However, those that were most important I was able to follow.  On this topic there were also some characters that were thrown in and not used, Dr. Robert Schless went with Gil to Vienna but he is hardly ever mentioned at all.  And then there is Hedy Neufeld who aids the Kraus' and is only briefly covered.
The book closes by highlighting a number of the children and how they lived their lives after coming to America. 
For those interested in WWII and intrigued by rescue stories and the brave men and women behind them then this is a must read. 
50 Children will be available for purchase April 22nd. 
I received an advanced readers copy in return for an honest review.
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The Friday 56, Book Beginnings, Literary Friday
Book Beginnings
On a late April morning, as rain smeared the windowpanes, washed the dirt off the sidewalks, and slowed traffic on every block in New York City, twenty-seven-year-old Corinne Saybrook stood barefoot in a dressing room, talking on her cell phone in clipped, precise Turkish.
pg 11 (previous pages are a prologue) of The Heiresses
The Friday 56
Compared to Poppy's feminine touches in their own place, Rowan's apartment looked like the inside of a cigar box. It wasn't lost on her, either, that James hadn't seen this place in years.
pg. 56 of The Heiresses

Monday, February 24, 2014

Monday Munchies ~ Chicken Fried Steak

Last week I shared my altered French Breakfast Puff recipe from The Pioneer Woman Cooks, today I am going to share a savory recipe with my changes.  Again, this entire cookbook is offered by Google, HERE, but I will reiterate that this book is gorgeous and would make a great coffee table book.
Chicken Fried Steak
Mr. Glitter Tart gave this one 4 sprinkles of glitter
Mini Me's both ate it all!
I am going to give it a 3, but the next time I make it there will be changes that I know will make it better.
There is nothing tricky in this one, but it does make a mess, lots of dishes and splattered grease.
From The Pioneer Woman Web site
3 pounds cube steak
2 eggs
1 1/2 cup milk and 2 cups milk for gravy
3 cups all purpose flour, plus 1/3 cup for gravy
2 teaspoons seasoned salt (I used Lawry's)
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika (we love paprika, if you don't only use 1/2 teasp.)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup vegetable oil for frying (1/4 butter for roux if desired)
1.  Beat eggs and 1 cup of milk with a fork in a container you can dredge in.
2.  Combine flour, salt, paprika, red pepper and black pepper, place in a separate container.
3.  Create an assembly line, meat, milk mixture and flour mixture, and a plate to put the floured meat on.
4.  Season meat with salt and pepper
5.  Dip meat into milk mixture, coat completely.  Now drop it into the flour, flip, pat the flour on, possible add some more, just get a good coating.
6.  Do it all over again, milk and then flour and place piece on plate.
7.  Heat the oil
8.  Cook on one side until golden brown about 2 1/2 minutes
9.  Turn them over and cook 2 to 3 minutes
10.  Removed and place on paper towels, or something else to absorb excess grease.
This is where I made the big changes.
Ree makes her gravy with the oil, I say use butter, 1/4 cup.
Sprinkle 1/3 cup of flour over the butter
Whisk until you create a golden brown paste.
My Roux using oil, but I am going to use butter next time.
 Whisking constantly, pour in 2 cups of milk
Bring it to a low boil
Continue whisking until you get the desired consistency
Salt and Pepper the mess out of it.
Serve meat, cover it with gravy and enjoy!
So what are you eating?

Friday, February 21, 2014

Palisades Park by Alan Brennert

Growing up in the 1930s, there is no more magical place than Palisades Amusement Park in New Jersey—especially for seven-year-old Antoinette, who horrifies her mother by insisting on the unladylike nickname Toni, and her brother, Jack. Toni helps her parents, Eddie and Adele Stopka, at the stand where they sell homemade French fries amid the roar of the Cyclone roller coaster. There is also the lure of the world’s biggest salt-water pool, complete with divers whose astonishing stunts inspire Toni, despite her mother's insistence that girls can't be high divers.

But a family of dreamers doesn't always share the same dreams, and then the world intrudes: There's the Great Depression, and Pearl Harbor, which hits home in ways that will split the family apart; and perils like fire and race riots in the park. Both Eddie and Jack face the dangers of war, while Adele has ambitions of her own—and Toni is determined to take on a very different kind of danger in impossible feats as a high diver. Yet they are all drawn back to each other—and to Palisades Park—until the park closes forever in 1971.

Evocative and moving, with the trademark brilliance at transforming historical events into irresistible fiction that made Alan Brennert’s Moloka'i and Honolulu into reading group favorites, Palisades Park takes us back to a time when life seemed simpler—except, of course, it wasn't.
This is a book about a park where all the characters seem to be supporting the parks growth and development.  It is written in third person with multiple points of view, Eddie, a man who's dream it is to own a concession stand at the park, Adele, who marries Eddie and Toni, Eddie and Adele's daughter.  It chronicles the dreams of each of these characters in relation to the park.  The problem with these points of view is that you never really connect to any of them.  While there are hiccups in the characters lives, everything is still a bit too perfect. 
I love a good historical fiction and really like how the author touched on all the major historical events that took place during the parks reign.  Starting with the Great Depression, moving into WWII, The Civil Rights movement, the Korean War, and the Kafauver Committee (Crime in Interstate Commerce).  Another thing that Brennert does is use characters that were actually part of the parks history.  John Rinaldi was a superintendent and makes an appearance in the book.  Minette Dobson and Bunty Hill play pivotal roles in Toni's life and were fixtures of the park in history.  The Rosenthal brothers owned the park for over thirty years. And Melba Valle Rosa, a civil rights activist, leaves a lasting impression on Toni.
Since I have mentioned all these characters I will add that there are too many minor characters mentioned at the start of the book.  My head was spinning with all the names and it took me over half the book to work out who was who and which characters were actually important. 
I think this book would have been better as a documentary of the park instead of throwing in characters that one can't connect to and a soap opera type vibe where everything is solved within a few paragraphs.  It's an easy read but a bit of a disappointment.  What it did make me do was venture out to discover more about the actual history of the park.
The Friday 56, Book Beginnings, Literary Friday

Book Beginnings
London, 1867
I blame Charles Dickens for the death of my father.
pg. 1 of This House is Haunted

The Friday 56
As the little girls closed the door behind me, it sealed with a heavy sound, making me jump and turn round in fright, at which pointed I startled again, for standing next to her, wearing a similarly white, crisp nightshirt, was a little boy, perhaps four years her junior.  I hadn't seen him before.  Had he been hiding behind the door?
pg. 56 of This House is Haunted

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Poe, A Very Odd Bird

 This is what you get when you give me Alpha Stamps, An Odd Bird Kit.  I love all things Poe, so of course he is the first "Odd Bird" I thought of.  If you would like to join the Odd Bird Swap, visit Alpha Stamps Yahoo Group.
This is the second of my FREE art pieces this month.  You can order it from my Etsy shop, you only pay shipping and I reimburse any overage. 
Thanks for visiting, hope you enjoy.
Who do you think of when you hear "Odd Bird?"

Monday, February 17, 2014

Monday Munchies ~ French Breakfast Puffs

 Today I am sharing one of my all time favorite breakfast treats, French Breakfast Puffs by The Pioneer Woman. 
When I went to look up the recipe I realized that I have made them so many times that I've totally changed the recipe.  So what follows is how I make them.  Google offers The Pioneer Woman Cooks online! But for those of you who love good food and eye candy, this is one of the prettiest cookbooks ever.  She peppers photographs of life on the ranch throughout the book.  It makes a great coffee table book. 
3 cups all purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup butter
1 egg
1/4 cup applesauce
1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoon cinnamon
French Puff Muffins
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Line muffin tin with aluminum cupcake wrappers.  It may sound strange but something about the aluminum cupcake wrappers makes these muffins really puff.
1.  In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder, slat and nutmeg.
2.  Mix (I use a stand mixer) sugar and butter.
3.  Add egg and applesauce to sugar and butter and mix.
4.  Alternate adding flour and milk
5.  Fill the muffin cups 2/3 full
6.  Bake 20 - 25 minutes
1.  Melt butter in a bowl
2.  combine sugar and cinnamon in another bowl
3.  Dip the top of the muffins first in the butter then in the sugar
What are you cooking?

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Grow Your Blog Giveaway Winner

Well, it's the end of this years Grow Your Blog hop and time to announce the winner of my giveaway.  I had so much fun this year visiting the over 500 blogs!  I've made new friends and found new blogs to follow and can't wait to see what this year has in store for everyone.
Anyway onto the giveaway. 
and who is #8...Judy of Attic Raggedys who said...
Hi Caroline,
Nice to meet you.You make some beautiful creations. Thanks for visiting my blog today. Please enter me in your giveaway.
Congratulations Judy!  Please e-mail me your address at
 Thank you all the visited, I am so grateful you stopped by and your comments made me smile. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne's fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick's clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn't doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife's head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media--as well as Amy's fiercely doting parents--the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he's definitely bitter--but is he really a killer? 

 As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn't do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet? 
I've been sitting on this review trying to figure out how I truly feel about this book.  Well, I'm still conflicted.  On the one hand this was a book that I couldn't put down, on the other I despised the ending, the unnecessary crudity in the writing and the predictability of the storyline.   
Gone Girl has two distinct voices, Nick, the unconcerned husband, and Amy, the unhappy, unloved wife.  Both voices are strong, even if some of the things they are saying are a bit fishy.  From the start I didn't like Amy but I don't think that was the authors intent.  As I read on this feeling grew stronger even after discovering that Nick was no saint.  So there was never a "Oh my gosh" moment for me, I guess that is why I say this book is predictable. 
On the surface Gone Girl is a mystery, but mystery lovers will be highly disappointed.  It is nothing more than an ultra dark chick lit book.  Demented and disturbing don't even begin to describe the content within the covers of this book.  I'm all for a dark demented story but what I didn't need, and got beat over the head with, was the crude narrative from both characters.  It did nothing to enhance the voices of the characters or describe the situations, it just read as tawdry unnecessary words.
What I did love is how Gillian takes major marital issues like money, employment, children, infidelity, and trust and mixed them into a toxic formula that propels both characters to do things no practical human would ever consider.  This and this alone is what made the book compelling. However the reader doesn't know this is going on until halfway through the novel, so getting through the first 200 or so pages can drag. 
This will be a book that I will never forget and one that would make a great book club discussion.
New rides were introduced, including the Water Scooter - managed by an up-and-comer named Joe Rinaldi, who also ran the Dodgem cars - and a hair-raising new coaster, the Lake Placid Bobsled, whose steep drops and hairpin turns could hardly have been called "placid."
pg 56 of Palisades Park

Thursday, February 6, 2014

It's all about the Style

It's Round Robin Journal time with the Circle of Friends. 
Susan, of Lily & The Lotus' journal is all about Style.

I've been playing with acrylic paints recently, trying my hand at new backgrounds, so I decided to start my page off with some texture and paint. Then I drew the dress.  It's hard to see but the book print skirt is actually pleated.
I was inspired by one of my favorite stamps, which I stamped on the back of my page. 
I hope she likes my contribution. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Books 'n' Bloggers Swap Show Off

I discovered the Chaotic Goddess Swaps just in time to take part in the Books 'n' Bloggers Swap.  And as y'all know, I love my books. 
My partner was Colletta from Colletta's Kitchen Sink.  We both love historical fiction romance. 
We exchanged three books.
1.  A book you want to read
2.  A book you love
3.  A book your partner wants
As you can see Colletta sent me more than just 3!  In fact she filled the flat rate box to overflowing!
These are the extra books she sent.  Titles include, Nora Roberts Chasing Fire, Golden Shores, and The Search.  I've never read a Nora Roberts (yes I know, I should be hanging my head in shame),

And these are the actual books.
The White Queen is the one off of my Wish List. 
The other titles are
Leslie Tentler's Midnight Fear, Colletta sent me the next book in this series as one of the additional books.
Linda Lael miller's Big Sky Country
I received so many good sounding books I don't know where to start!  Thank you so much Colletta.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Birds of a Feather ~ An Odd Bird Swap Announcement

 Alpha Stamps is hosting another fabulous bird themed swap.  This time it's an Odd Bird Swap.
To join please visit Alpha Stamps Yahoo Group
I had a lot of fun creating this "Odd Bird" seams he's lost his way and finds himself among the birds.
This piece is available in my etsy store for just the cost of shipping.