Saturday, January 9, 2016

Book review: The Natural World of Winnie the Pooh by Kathryn Aalto

I closed this book for the last time and wondered, will I ever enjoy a book as much as I enjoyed this one?  I'm sure I will, but it may take a while.  This book spoke to so many parts of me and the things I enjoy about life, all with excellent writing and beautiful photography.  I love all things British, I love nature, birds, and of course my old childhood chum, Winnie the Pooh.

Kathryn covers all things Pooh including a wonderful and detailed history of A.A. Milne and E.H Shepard.  I never knew much about them, but I have a greater appreciation for their talents and I have a much great appreciation for the stories themselves.  Kathryn also takes us on several walks to all corners of the forest and shows us the trees and critters that call this forest home.  I highly recommend this book to nature lovers, fans of Winnie the Pooh, anglophiles, etc.  There is a special place in all of us that would appreciate this book.  Thank you Kathryn for inviting me along on this Expotition.  You were a wonderful guide.  

Monday, December 21, 2015

Where have you been?

Welcome back to Carlybird's Home!  I've been gone for a long, long time.  Life has been a bit nuts lately and my priorities had to change for a while, but I'm happy to say I finally have some time to do some writing/reviewing/sharing things probably no one else really cares about, but I just feel like sharing.  My extended absence was due to the fact that I had a very sick dad.  He had liver failure and thankfully on November 14, 2014 he got his life saving liver transplant.  The recovery was long and complicated but he made it and now I have finally found the time to do the things I enjoy and I have found some new things to enjoy.  The stress of taking care of him was extreme and I needed to find some outlets for that stress.  One is photography, specifically nature photography.  I love taking a nature hike and trying to figure out how to work a camera that is much smarter than I am.  My newest favorite love is coloring.  The stress relief I enjoy from that has been remarkable, so you can expect to hear lots about my colorings.  I will share some of my favorite coloring books, markers, pencils and finished projects, because, well, that's what I like and this is Carlybird's Home.  I still read, but slowly and at my own pace so I will be sharing some of my favorite books too.  I'm happy you're here and I hope you enjoy my little world as much as I enjoy sharing it with you..

Monday, March 2, 2015

Under the Silk Hibiscus by Alice J. Wisler

About the book:

During World War Two Nathan and his family are sent to Heart Mountain, an internment camp in Wyoming for Japanese-Americans. Nathan's one desire is to protect the family's gold pocket watch, a family heirloom brought over from Japan. He fails; the watch is stolen. Struggling to make sense of his life in a bleak camp as the only responsible man of the household, Nathan discovers truths about his family, God, and the girl he loves.

My review of Under the Silk Hibiscus:

I have read several novels that take place during World War II.  So many I am a little tired of that genre, but Alice is my favorite author and she always knows how to bring a fresh approach genres that I feel have run their course.  Under the Silk Hibiscus was simply fascinating.  I knew very little of the Japanese internment camps that existed in this country during World War II and I loved the depth of research that was done to bring the reader into this sad part of our history.  I also found that I cared very much for Nathan and his family and I loved that Alice took us from the internment camp into Nathan’s new life.  She did a great job of bringing the story of Nathan’s family full circle and in a most pleasing way.  I loved this story because it was a story that needed to be told and Alice Wisler is just the author to tell it.  I highly recommend this one.

This book was provided for me by me for my own personal enjoyment :-)

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Paige Turned by Erynn Mangum

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Paige Turned
TH1NK (April 1, 2014)
Erynn Mangum


A few things about her:

So, if we were having this conversation in person, we would probably be hanging out at Starbucks or one of the cute coffeehouses in town. I’m nuts about all things coffee, I’m crazy about all things pink and girly, and I love, love, love the Food Network! I’m married to my best friend and the most amazing guy ever, Jon. He is amiable toward coffee, does not like anything pink or girly and tolerates the Food Network. So, we make a good match! In July 2010, we became parents to one of the funniest, cutest, sweetest little guys in the whole world (and nope, we aren’t biased at all!), our Nater-Tot, who is legally known as Nathan. Most days, I’m cleaning up messes, making goofy faces, trying to fit some writing in, and just LOVING the life that God has given me!


Despite her valiant efforts, Paige Alder seems stuck in chaos. Her new job as youth intern keeps her hopping from coffee shop to coffee shop all summer long, but at least she’s loving the one-on-one time she gets to spend with the girls. The unfortunate side-effect is that now, four weeks of laundry fills her apartment. Plus, she barely has time to help her sister and best friend with their weddings! And even worse? Something is definitely wrong between her and Tyler. She apologized for what he thought he saw happen with Luke. Can’t they move past it? Or could there be something he’s not telling her—something that could change everything?

If you'd like to read the first chapter of Paige Turned, go HERE.

My review of Paige Turned:

There are some books that are no-brainers and by that I mean it’s guaranteed that I am going to love it.  Any book by Erynn Mangum is a no-brainer for me.  I have been reading her books for a few years now and I never want to miss them.  I always like the light-hearted feel with a meaningful Christian message that Erynn never fails to present in her books.

Paige is a relatable character and even though there is a bit of an age difference between me and her, I still learned from her and I liked getting to know her.  There is just enough silly in this book to keep me interested, but at the same time there is enough of a faith message to make me feel like the time I spent reading it was meaningful.  I have always loved that about Erynn’s books.  I feel like she has been maturing as a writer with each book and she certainly has my respect as a Christian woman with a great gift to share her faith with her readers.  This is the last book in Paige’s story, but I am certain Erynn is busy with her next character and I look forward to meeting her.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

What Follows After by Dan Walsh

About the book:

In 1962, life was simple, the world made sense, and all families were happy.
And when they weren't, everyone knew you were supposed to pretend.

For the past year, Scott and Gina Harrison have been living a lie. While they show up at family get-togethers in the same car, they've actually been separated for over a year. To keep up the charade, they've even instructed their sons, Colt and Timmy, to lie--to their grandparents, their teachers, and their friends.

Colt, for one, has had enough, so he hatches a plan. He and his little brother will run away from their Florida home, head for their aunt's house in Georgia, and refuse to come home until their parents get back together. But when things go terribly, terribly wrong, Scott and Gina must come to grips with years of neglect and mistrust in order to recover their beloved sons, their love for one another, and their marriage.

In this emotional story, bestselling author Dan Walsh takes you on a journey to rediscover the things that matter most in life--love, truth, and family. With profound insight into the heart of a hurting child, he reminds us that a time will come to look back on hard times and smile, because we'll know that what follows after . . . is not what we expected at all.

My review of What Follows After:

Oh, that Dan Walsh.  He gets me every time.  I don’t know how he does!  When I first started reading this book, I actually (briefly) thought I may not like it.  It felt like it was going to be way too depressing and I cynically expected that maybe Dan’s talent has slipped a little with this one.  That was a silly notion and I didn’t have to get far into the story to really see how silly that notion was.  I may as well go ahead and say it, this was Dan’s best book so far.  I think I say that with all of his books and I am pretty sure I will say that about the next one, but really, this book was incredible.  

There are three things that really jumped out at me with this book, the story, the Christian message and the time period in which the story takes place.  I have a fascination with America in the 1960s and this story put an interesting spotlight on a truly scary time in our history.  I am glad Dan moved away from WWII era stories and has been using the 60s as his backdrop.  I don’t think I will ever get bored with that.  

I know I have said this before, but there are a lot of reviewers who compare Dan Walsh’s books to those of Nicholas Sparks.  That drives me crazy.  I have read a couple of Sparks’s books and he does not come close to writing with the same depth and heart that Dan writes with.  I have read every single one of Dan’s books and they are awesome.  He is awesome.  Read What Follows After and be inspired and moved to tears!

This book was provided for review by Revell.

Sincerely Yours, A Novella Collection

About the book:

Four unexpected letters. Four intrepid women. Four lives changed forever.

Spanning a century and a continent, these romantic novellas will lead you on a journey through the landscape of love. Four young women find their lives altered after each receives a letter that sets her on a new path. From a Hudson River steamboat to a lush drawing room, from a carousel carver's workshop to a remote hospital, you'll be swept into the lives of women who are making their way in the world and finding love where they least expect it.

Moonlight Promise by Laurie Alice Eakes
Camilla Renfrew is a highborn English lady fleeing false accusations when she runs smack into love on a steamboat bound for the new Erie Canal. But can this unexpected attraction survive the treacherous journey?

Lessons in Love by Ann Shorey
Marigold Montgomery Bentley writes marriage advice for Kipler's Home Weekly even though she is single. Everyone assumes from the initials that "M. M." is a man. When the editor asks to meet Mr. Bentley, can Merrie come up with a ruse to keep her writing job?

One Little Word by Amanda Cabot
Lorraine Caldwell will lose her family fortune to a reckless cousin if she doesn't marry quickly. When she learns her long-lost brother is alive, she hopes she's found the answer to her problems. What she finds instead is a mysterious carousel carver who turns her life upside down.

A Saving Grace by Jane Kirkpatrick
Grace Hathaway must rescue a dear friend from a remote and notorious clinic that promises healing but delivers only heartache. In a place laced with deceit, where lives hang in the balance, whom can she trust to help her?

My review of Sincerely Yours:

I’m not usually a big fan of novella collections, mainly because the stories tend to feel rushed and incomplete, but when I saw the list of talented authors included in this book I figured it would be good.  I knew that if I could just get through the first story and like it, then I would enjoy the rest of them.  I had absolutely no trouble getting into the first story, written by Laurie Alice Eakes.  I loved it actually, so it was smooth sailing through the other stories.  Just don’t ask me to pick a favorite because I enjoyed them all equally.  I found this book very relaxing, the kind of reading experience I look forward to.

It’s been a while since I have enjoyed a book as much as I enjoyed Sincerely Yours and I think this is the first time I have ever really enjoyed a novella collection.  The stories fit together nicely, but they were still great stories on their own.  I highly recommend this book for a nice, relaxing reading experience.

This book was provided for review by Revell.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Summer of Joy by Ann Gabhart

About the book:

As summer draws to a close Jocie's world seems serene--but is it just the calm before a storm?

Unbeknownst to Jocie Brooke and her family, two people are making their way to the small town of Hollyhill, Kentucky. One everyone thought was gone for good and the other no one's ever heard of. Still, one thing is sure--they promise trouble. The past is coming to call, threatening to destroy strong relationships that everyone has simply taken for granted.

The summer of 1964 may be winding down, but the controversy in this little community where nothing ever seems to change is just heating up.

Bestselling author Ann Gabhart invites you to Hollyhill for a story both exciting and enduring that will stick with you long after you turn the last page.

My review of Summer of Joy:

I have loved so many of Ann Gabhart’s books.  In fact, whenever I get a new book from her I can’t wait to start reading it.  After reading the premise of Summer of Joy, I couldn’t start reading it fast enough, but then disappointment started.  It seemed like so much of the beginning of the book was used for reintroducing characters from the last book and getting the reader caught up on everybody that there was never going to be any story.  I don’t need to know who everybody is in just the first few pages.  I have no problem with an author taking his or her time letting us get to know their characters.  This issue almost turned me away from finishing the book.  But, I pressed on and the book did get better, but I have read so many other books by Ann, I just didn’t feel like this one measured up with the talent I have come to know from her.

This book was provided for review by Revell.

A Heart's Rebellion by Ruth Axtell

About the book:

In a world governed by unspoken rules, one young woman is about to break them all . . .

Dutiful Jessamine Barry is tired of waiting patiently for a man to decide her future. So even though Lancelot Marfleet, second son of an aristocrat, is taking an interest in her during the London season, she refuses to consider him as a suitor. Instead, she's ready to take fashionable society by storm--and finds a rakish young man all too willing to help her do it.

Can Jessamine trust her heart to lead her to a love that proves true through thick and thin? Or will her rash actions close the door on the life she really desires?

Lose yourself in Ruth Axtell's sumptuous story of discovering one's true self and finding true love.

My review of A Heart's Rebellion:

Regency books have become quite popular and I have read several of them, so I am getting a little bored with them, but I have to say that A Heart’s Rebellion is one of the better.  This book is the sequel to Moonlight Masquerade and I read that book as well.  I liked this one much better, but I did find that reading Moonlight Masquerade first helped me enjoy this one more.  The Regency time period is an interesting one.  I don’t think I would have enjoyed being around then so I could somewhat relate to Jessamine and I certainly felt for her and the heartbreak she was trying to recover from.

This book does have somewhat of a slow start, but once we get introduced to more characters and the story develops more, the momentum builds nicely.  I really enjoyed this book and I know that Regency fans with absolutely love this book.  I am looking forward to seeing what else Ruth plans on writing, perhaps a contemporary romance!

This book was provided for review by Revell.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Tide and Tempest by Elizabeth Ludwig

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Tide and Tempest
Bethany House Publishers (March 4, 2014)
Elizabeth Ludwig


Elizabeth Ludwig is an award-winning author whose work has been featured on Novel Rocket, the Christian Authors Network, and The Christian Pulse. Her first novel, Where the Truth Lies (co-authored with Janelle Mowery), earned her the 2008 IWA Writer of the Year Award. This book was followed in 2009 by "I'll be Home for Christmas", part of the Christmas anthology collection, Christmas Homecoming.

In 2011, her second mystery, Died in the Wool (co-authored with Janelle Mowery) was nominated for a Carol Award. In 2012, the popular EDGE OF FREEDOM series released from Bethany House Publishers. Books one and two, No Safe Harbor and Dark Road Home, respectively, earned 4 Stars from the RT Book Reviews. Book three, Tide and Tempest, received top honors with 4 1/2 Stars.

Elizabeth is an accomplished speaker and teacher, often attending conferences and seminars where she lectures on editing for fiction writers, crafting effective novel proposals, and conducting successful editor/agent interviews. Along with her husband and children, she makes her home in the great state of Texas.


Two years ago, her fiance perished during their voyage to America.

Now she discovers it may have been murder...

Dreaming of a better life, Tillie McGrath leaves Ireland behind and, with her beloved fiance by her side, sets sail for America. But when illness robs her of the man she holds dear, she's left alone with only a handful of tattered memories. While forging on proves difficult, Tillie soon finds some new friends at her New York boardinghouse, and begins pursuing a new dream--to open a home for orphaned children.

Despite two years passing, Captain Keondric Morgan has never forgotten the lass who left his ship so heartbroken. When a crewman's deathbed confession reveals her fiance's demise was the result of murder, the captain knows he must try to contact her. But his attention draws the notice of others as well--dangerous men who believe Tillie has in her possession something that could expose their crimes. And to their way of thinking, the best way to prevent such an outcome is to seize the evidence and then hand Tillie the same fate as her naïve fiance.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Tide and Tempest, go HERE.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Wildwood Creek by Lisa Wingate

About the book:

With love and loss tangled together, how was she to know where her life would lead?

Allie Kirkland has always heard the call of her father's unfinished destiny. When she's offered a production assistant's job on a docudrama filming in the hills near Moses Lake, Texas, the dream of following in her director-father's footsteps suddenly seems within reach. The reenactment of the legendary frontier settlement of Wildwood is a first step into the film industry. A summer on set in the wilderness is a small price to pay for a dream.

But in 1861, the real Wildwood held dangerous realities. Town founder Harland Delavan held helpless residents, including young Irish schoolteacher Bonnie Rose, in an iron grip. Mysterious disappearances led to myths and legends still retold in the region's folk songs. Eventually, the entire site was found abandoned.

When filming begins, strange connections surface between Allie and the teacher who disappeared over a century ago, and everyone in Wildwood--including Blake Fulton, Allie's handsome neighbor on the film set--seems to be hiding secrets. Allie doesn't know whom she can trust. If she can't find the answers in time, history may repeat itself...with the most unthinkable results.

My review of Wildwood Creek:

I have read several of Lisa Wingate’s books and I have always liked them, but I often found that they took a while for me to get into.  That was not the case with Wildwood Creek.  This was by far my favorite of her books that I have read.  This one grabbed my attention right away and I found it difficult to put down.  I have always liked Lisa’s way of creating depth in her stories and her characters and in this particular book, that depth didn’t slow down the story at all.  It just made it harder to put down.  I loved the two storylines that ran together throughout the book and how Lisa wove them together.

This book has reignited my enthusiasm for Lisa’s books because she has far exceeded my hopes and expectations in Wildwood Creek.  This book had just right right amount of everything to appeal to many different readers.  This is definitely a book that I will hang onto for a while and recommend highly.

This book was provided for review by Bethany House.