Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Where do you Read?

Where to?

What is your favorite place and time to read?  Under the warm sun on the beach? After the kids go to bed when the house is finally quiet? During the commute to work on public transportation?
When the flakes start to gather, so does my need to read kick into over time. The stack of books go from the "To Read" pile to the "Write up the Review" pile grows at a some what heavier pace.  Rather it be "real" books or "E-reader" books, to me it's all the same.  

I seem to enjoy the days when on the those cold & winter-y days when the roads are covered in a blanket of fresh powder.  I find that when there is no pressing need to be outside and the world is quiet, I want to do nothing more than to be a small part of it. Especially when I'm curled up under the blankets or sitting in the recliner next to a roaring fire with a cat or two on my lap. Just listening to those little noises that a home-y fire makes as it crackles; you'll find me quietly reading at some point.  You might even see me with some ear buds to listen to some classical music.  One never knows and that is the beauty of it.  We each have our own little world when it comes to enjoying the written word.

This week in reviews I have another mixed bag of goodies for you but wanted to try something a little different in my format.  At times, having a whole stack of books can be daunting; when write up that many reviews all at one time. I can find myself struggling to get them all written up. I'm going to try to do a couple books a posting but more frequent postings.

So I'll start you off with Esther Ehrlich's "Nest"  through Random House Children's division/ & Wendy Lamb Books and published Sept. 9, 2014. Now remember that I receive an ARC from the publishing house for free in return for my honest opinion.  So these are my thoughts and hold no baring on those who brought the book to press.

A heartfelt, deeply moving, and unforgettable middle grade debut about an irresistible girl, Chirp, and her family.
For fans of Jennifer Holm (Penny from Heaven, Turtle in Paradise), a heartfelt and unforgettable middle-grade novel about an irresistible girl and her family, tragic change, and the healing power of love and friendship.

In 1972 home is a cozy nest on Cape Cod for eleven-year-old Naomi "Chirp" Orenstein, her older sister, Rachel; her psychiatrist father; and her dancer mother. But then Chirp's mom develops symptoms of a serious disease, and everything changes.

Chirp finds comfort in watching her beloved wild birds. She also finds a true friend in Joey, the mysterious boy who lives across the street. Together they create their own private world and come up with the perfect plan: Escape. Adventure. Discovery.

Esther Ehrlich's lyrical writing is honest, humorous, and deeply affecting. Chirp and Joey will steal your heart. Long after you finish Nest, the spirit of Chirp and her loving family will stay with you.

It's been a while since I read something at a middle school level and sometimes I chose to do so to see how todays' authors are portraying difficult subject matters. This one reminds of some of the authors that I grew up reading. Like Beverly Clearly in the mid to late 70's.

I found that the main character, nicknamed; "Chirp"  to be someone I could relate to in her interactions during a difficult time in the family.  The author shows us the struggles "Chirp's" mother, a former dancer; now faces with her battle with MS. It shows us how she slides in to deep clinical depression so deep that she .... well ... she decides the struggle is too much for her to bear. 

Even though this is a tough subject, the author opens up our eyes to the plight of dealing with this devastating journey each family member takes through out the book. We also see Chirp struggle her feelings about the things like peer pressure, friendships and a possible first "crush". There are hints of darkness when we read about Joey her neighbor that Chirp doesn't understand but she and Joey did find a small place in my heart as I read more about them. 

These are normal every day things that one would possibly deal with in a typical middle schoolers life out side of the home. Ms. Esther has done a great job bringing us this rich but serious issue on a level that most middle-schooler could understand. Her language level is on their level but it didn't make it feel like she "dummied" down the language to make a point it was unappealing to an adult reader.  I even got my 12 year son to read part of the book while he was here for the summer.  Let me tell ya -  that it wasn't a small feat all in it's self.  He said it made him think.  And Ms. Esther that is high praise indeed!! I give this a 4.5 stars out of 5 and a boy who wants to finish the book come this summer. 


The Brickmaker's Bride (Refined by Love, #1)

I received  The Brickmaker’s Bride (Refined by Love #1)
by Judith Miller this ARC in a "real" book form in exchange so that I could give an honest opinion of the book. The following description was proved by Goodreads.com.

Yearning for a fresh start, Ewan McKay travels with his aunt and uncle from northern Scotland to West Virginia, promising to trade his skills in the clay business for financial assistance from his uncle Hugh. Hugh purchases a brickmaking operation from a Civil War widow and her daughter, but it's Ewan who gets the business up and running again. 

Ewan seeks help from Laura, the former owner's daughter, and he feels a connection with her, but she's being courted by another man--a lawyer with far more social clout and money than Ewan. Besides, Ewan has resolved he'll focus on making the brick-making operation enough of a success that he can become a partner in the business and be able to afford to bring his sisters over from Scotland.

But when Hugh signs a bad business deal, all Ewan's hard work may come to naught. As his plans begin to crumble, Laura reveals something surprising. She and her mother may have a way to save the brickworks, and in turn Ewan may have another shot at winning Laura's heart.

I positively enjoyed the book even though it plays on my emotions some and that  includes some tear. I love the fact the author didn't make it feel like a TV sitcom, where every thing was all sunshine & rainbows; but it had a more realistic approach to it. I just think it is an easy read and a wonderful book!! It's storyline has a post - Civil War feel with some historical references in it. 
It has a wonderful appeal to me as the main male character, Ewan & family come from Ireland. I have a soft spot for anything set in Ireland. Judith brings a range of emotions as we encounter each character in the book. The pace was steady and in a way educational too.  Judith took the time to do her research on brick making in order to make us, the readers; understand the process that it takes to make good bricks and the down fall of making poor quality product.
We do see that we can pick our friends some times, but never our family as Ewan's aunt tends to be a harpy in the way she treats not Ewan, but her sister, her husband and even the Widow Woodfield. And then there is Hugh - the uncle who addicted to gambling and interested in finding a gaming table than actually doing what it takes to run the brick-making business. Even though he thinks like he knows all, a jack-of-all-trades so to speak. He occasionally shows guidance to Ewan at times when dealing with his aunt so you don't think he is a total jerk. 
Unlike the supposed fiancée of Laura, Winston Hawkings; is only thinking of his self through out the book and his aspiration to have a political career. You can't help to do more than only dislike him as this was the way of thinking back in a time women were to seen - not heard. To never voice an opinion outside that of their male counterparts. Woman of gentle breeding was expected to marry up, volunteer in the right charities and be a follower.  Unless in some cases far and few part, a mere girl was "allowed" to learn the family business like Laura who is strong, caring and more than capable to know and understand the skills that would be helpful to Ewan though out the book. Good for her for have a spine against the likes of Winston!!  

As I stated that this book has the ability to have to you sorting you feelings after turning that the page. I look forward not only to the next book in this series (which is written by Beyond All Dreams by Elizabeth Camden) but also that of Judith Miller. Thank you Judith for bringing us such wonderfully book.  I would & a have recommended to others, including to my local library.  I give this book a very solid 4.75 stars out of the normal 5 stars.

Now this where I'll end this week's reviews. I know that in the recent past there was 5 or even 6 books reviewed at one time but like I said earlier, I'm playing with the format a little.  So I'm asking you to share your honest opinions with me:
  1. Do you prefer less titles per a review with more postings? Or the older way of more with a weekly post?
  2. Would you like to see a book give-a-way every now and again?
  3. You really don't care and wish the reviews go away unless it is quilt/craft related?  
This I hope brings me some much needed feedback as I want to bring only the best to my readers that I can offer.  I know there are a TON of other blogs out there with so many more than my 75 followers to pick from. 

I just don't know how to grow my followers so I turn to you guys for some thoughts.  What makes other blogs that you follow more appealing? What would you like to see here?  Come on with the comments and gentle critics.   Until next time...


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