Guest Post: Maria Holm

Good to see more guest posts arriving in my email!

Today I bring you a book review, from Danish blogger, Maria Holm. It is a book about a true story, a quest to find information about a family member who went missing during WW2.

A Book Memorial for a Lost Family Member

LOST

The Quest for Jan van Boeckel

During the first years of blogging, I came upon Mogromo’s Blog. The blog site was illustrated with the most fascinating photos that supported the mysterious disappearance of a dear family member during the last year of the war. The Dutch writer behind that blog was discreet about who he or she was and drew my attention to the purpose of the blog describing the Quest for Jan van Boeckel. Like the author, I grew up in the shadow of WWII having parents whose lives were heavily influenced by having their youth strained by the German occupiers. We in Denmark were not suffering so much as the Dutch people did.

Cover photo for the book on Jan’s last year of life. He had his 22nd birthday shortly before his death.

A book has come out as a result of the author Wendy van Eijnatten’s efforts through some years having searched intensively for traces of her uncle Jan who never came back to his family after the liberation. Uncle Jan was an older brother of Wendy’s mother. He was the sixth child of thirteen in this close-knit Dutch family. The loss of him never coming back from his confinement by the Nazis left a space in the whole family. His mother and his many siblings spent years in research and Wendy took up the baton many years later to find that Jan probably died on a death march to Dachau from a concentration camp in Saal near the Czech border. That last place was hell on earth guarded by the worst scumbags. The SS had delegated the dirty jobs to criminals so they could live a more comfortable life behind the scenes. You sense how in the end everything went from an organised terror regime to chaos as the Western Allied were closing in on the Nazis.

In her book, we follow Jan in his hiding from the Nazis, the harsh life in the cold forest with fellow young resist fighters until their sudden and brutal capture on a hot day in June in 1944. Reading about it, you feel the cold, the hunger and thirst and the dirt and insecurity of what the next moment would bring along. His last year in different prisons and concentration camps ended just before the liberation. Jan wanted to join the British Royal Air Force but was never able to escape Europe to get there. His older brother Gerhard was a pilot in the Far East and was shot down by the Japanese.

The last year of the war was extremely difficult for the Dutch population. Wendy describes in great details the hunger the Boeckel family endured while they never gave up but found ways to survive by sending the children out to friendly farmers for their survival. Before that, they had all taken part in the hunt for food and wood for heating. The Nazi occupiers made the population starve on purpose.

To lift the spirit for themselves and those around them both Jan on his journey to becoming a resistant fighter and his family talked about literature, sang choirs and exercised gymnastics.

The author herself keeps in the background in the book, but once in a while, she describes the two years of a challenging hunt for documenting Jan’s last year of his life. She succeeded in finding two living witnesses who know Jan in that critical time. Theo with whom Jan ran away with to become freedoms fighters and Jacob who sat with him on his last transport on their Death March.

In my opinion, they were a family of great character and good morals to be admired for posterity. The book is well written and so exciting that you read the 416 pages in a few days. The cover photo is descriptive for the content of a story hidden in forests and uncertainties.

To get hold of the book “Lost The Quest for Jan van Boeckel”, you can contact the author on her blog.
Jan van Boeckel Timeline


Here is a link to Maria’s own blog, where you can discover more about this very interesting and friendly l
ady.
https://mariaholm.blog/
And here is a link to the Goodreads page for the book, including buying links for those interested.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38588509-lost

Guest Post: Darlene Foster

I am delighted to be able to bring you a guest post from the lovely Darlene Foster, a Canadian blogger and published author.

Here is her own short bio.

Brought up on a ranch in Canada, Darlene dreamt of travelling the world and meeting interesting people. She has always loved to tell stories and was encouraged by her grade three teacher to write them down. She is the author of the exciting adventure series featuring 12-year-old Amanda Ross who loves to travel. Readers of all ages enjoy travelling with Amanda as she unravels one mystery after another in countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Spain, England, Germany, Holland and her own country, Canada. When not travelling herself, Darlene divides her time between the sunny Costa Blanca of Spain and the west coast of Canada.

And this is her unedited guest post.

How Travel Memories Became Books for Kids

By Darlene Foster

As a young girl living in rural Alberta, Canada, I always wanted to do two things, travel and write. My first time on an airplane was at age twenty-five when I flew to England to marry my British fellow. I couldn’t contain my excitement. I didn’t mind that London was fogged in and we had to land in Scotland first. It didn’t bother me that we missed our connection and had to sleep in Heathrow airport for a few hours until we could get a flight to Manchester. The only train to York stopped at every little town and hamlet along the way and we were almost a day late for the roast beef dinner his family made for us. For me it was all part of the amazing adventure, and I loved every minute. I never stopped travelling after that.

Years later I was invited to visit a friend who was working in the United Arab Emirates. An opportunity I would never get again, I didn’t hesitate to go. The moment I stepped off the plane, I was enthralled. I loved everything about the place; the people, the food, the culture, the geography, the history. I visited an archaeological dig, witnessed a camel race, spent a day in the desert at a Bedouin camp, rode a camel, took a drive into the mountains, walked in a wadi and shopped at a souk. I felt like I had stepped into a storybook. My friend commented that I acted as excited as a twelve-year-old.

I returned home and felt the urge to write about this remarkable experience. I started to write from an adult’s perspective but it wasn’t working for me. The story lacked the excitement I felt while encountering such unique experiences. One sleepless night I looked through my photographs which brought back vivid memories. I started to write, but this time from the point of view of a twelve-year-old. It felt right. I wrote about what I saw and felt, and I threw in an adventure. That night, Amanda in Arabia – The Perfume Flask was born.

After completing the book, I decided Amanda needed to do more travelling. My in-laws had retired to Spain from England and we had been to visit them there a number of times. Spain is another country I found fascinating. It wasn’t too difficult to incorporate my travels and experiences in Spain into Amanda in Spain – the Girl in the Painting. I had fun including the Gaudi buildings of Barcelona, The Prada Museum in Madrid and the hanging houses of Cuenca.

We returned to England a number of times since my inaugural flight to visit relatives, spending time in a different part of that historic country with every visit. It was natural that the third book would take place in England. But what to write about when there is so much to see and do? I narrowed it down to sites in London such as Hampton Court, The Tower of London, Harrods and the London Eye. I also had Amanda visit The Isle of Wight and Windsor Castle, two of my favourite places. Amanda in England – The Missing Novel is one of my most popular books.

Amanda has since travelled down the Danube on a river cruise, gone on a school trip to New Mexico and visited the delightful country of Holland, as well as entertained her British friend in her home province of Alberta. All these stories are based on my own travel experiences. I get great enjoyment out of reliving my trips through the eyes of Amanda. Of course, she has way more adventures than I did.

Although these books are written in a style that children can easily read and understand, to my delight I find many adults enjoy them as well. One adult reader commented, “Amanda in Spain is a book for the young and the young-at-heart. Vivid descriptions of the country and its customs, humorous details, and enough tension that keeps you turning the page, make this a very enjoyable reading. I look forward to Amanda’s next adventure!”

Another adult reader had this to say about Amanda in New Mexico: “Even though I am way beyond the age bracket market this series is intended to, the child in me truly enjoyed Amanda and her classmates’ adventures on their school trip to New Mexico, discovering enchanting villages and people along the way and getting into all kinds of scraps that may or may not involve spirits and otherworldly phenomena. I especially enjoyed learning about a part of the world I have never been to, in particular, the town of Taos, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and its History, as well as the Day of the Dead celebrations and Doña Sebastiana, the female saint of death.”

I have many more ideas for future Amanda travels books and am currently working on Amanda in Malta. Readers keep asking, “Where is Amanda going next?” My only rule is it has to be somewhere I’ve visited myself. This means I’ll have to keep travelling so Amanda can visit more places and I can write more books!

Here are some useful links where you can find out more, connect with Darlene, and even buy her books!
Please visit Darlene, and give her some encouragement. She is a very helpful and engaged blogger, as well as being a huge asset to our community.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DarleneFosterWriter/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/supermegawoman

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/darlene6490/

Website: http://www.darlenefoster.ca/

Blog: https://darlenefoster.wordpress.com/

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3156908.Darlene_Foster

Amazon author page https://www.amazon.com/Darlene-Foster/e/B003XGQPHA

Issues and Views

Yesterday, I had some frustrating issues with WordPress over logins, comments, and verification codes.

That generated five posts on this blog, as I expressed my frustrations, warned other bloggers, and finally told everyone it was resolved.

Late last night as I logged off my PC, I checked the stats on my blog for that day. Despite not having posted the episode of my fiction serial, and only posting about my blogging woes, I was amazed to see that it was my biggest day EVER for views on this blog, after more than seven years.

Well over 600 views in twelve hours, beating the previous busiest day by almost seventy views.

I cannot help but conclude that if you want to really boost your readership, then have a good moan about WordPress!

Fresh Start

After all my issues with WordPress today, they finally sorted it out, and even admitted that it was them. So not me, nor Microsoft then.

But by the time it got sorted, I had to take Ollie out, and then drive down to town to the cinema, to see ‘1917’.

I am just back, and found over 60 posts listed in my email. I am never going to be able to catch up with them, so have just deleted them all, I’m afraid.
I will do my best to answer all your comments on my posts though.

And there is no episode of “Home About Six’ today, either. Apologies to those reading that.

I will have a fresh start tomorrow morning, when hopefully WordPress will be stable.

Best wishes to everyone, Pete.

In case I go missing…

After a lot of very frustrating fiddling around with WordPress today, I finally managed to access the ‘Live Chat’ feature with their help desk that comes with my paid plan.
I explained the issues, and got this.

Ok thanks. We were experiencing some issues earlier today which could be related to that but they should be resolved now. Have you tried within the last half hour or so?
This seems to be related to the cookie information and or cache in your browser. By testing in the incognito window it uses a fresh browser with no cookies or cache. By logging out and logging back in it will refresh the cookies for WordPress.com in your browser.

If that doesn’t work it may be required to clear the cache and cookies in the browser

I was also directed to log in using an ‘Incognito’ window. That worked, and I was able to leave a test comment elsewhere.

I now have to log off the WordPress platform, and clear the cookies and cache.

I have low confidence that I will ever be allowed back.

So if that happens, it was nice knowing you all. 🙂

WP glitches, and ‘Anonymous’ comments

***Third post today already about issues with WordPress.***

I am now receiving blog comments from followers who are shown as ‘Anonymous’.

WordPress is picking and choosing who and where I am allowed to leave a comment.

I have over 40 posts in my inbox from blogs I follow that I cannot comment on, though it is allowing ‘Likes’, for some reason.

These regular glitches are not acceptable to me, especially as I have a paid plan for blogging on WP.

I am refusing to get stressed about it, but I am also sick and tired of WP doing this stuff.

They have little regard for their bloggers and ‘customers’, and never bother to let us know when they are experiencing these issues, or messing around behind the scenes and creating problems.

A message to you all at WordPress. “NOT GOOD ENOUGH. DO BETTER!”