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March 4, 2015 / Leslie

Vision in Silver – Urban Fantasy at its Finest

Vision In SilverVision in Silver
by Anne Bishop

Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Penguin | March 2015
Format: Print: 400 pages | Audio Book: 16 hours
Rating: 4½ of 5

From the Publisher

The Others freed the Cassandra Sangue to protect the blood prophets from exploitation, not realizing their actions would have dire consequences. Now the fragile seers are in greater danger than ever before—both from their own weaknesses and from those who seek to control their divinations for wicked purposes. In desperate need of answers, Simon Wolfgard, a shape-shifter leader among the Others, has no choice but to enlist blood prophet Meg Corbyn’s help, regardless of the risks she faces by aiding him.

About the Story

This is the third installment of The Others, a paranormal fantasy series for adults. The setting is on an earth inhabited by preternatural beings – shape-shifters, vampires, and other predators known as the Others – who rule over humans and consider them to be prey. In the first book, Written in Red, much of the focus was on world building and character development. In book two, many of the familiar names return, and several of the earlier story lines begin to develop along with a few new twists.

Do you need to read the first two books to enjoy Vision in Silver? The author does a fantastic job of weaving in the necessary background information throughout the story. The book begins with a prologue giving a brief history of the world, a map, and the names of the important cities and villages. So no, it’s not absolutely necessary to have read the previous books. However, the first two books are so good, and contain so much character development, that I highly recommend reading them in order.

Vision in Silver picks up right where book two, Murder of Crows, left off. The freed Cassandra Sangue are learning to live on their own, the situation between humans and the others is reaching a breaking point with the formation of a humans only supremacy group, and Meg’s presence is becoming more important in restoring harmony between the humans and the others.

More Thoughts

I have mentioned before that fantasy is a hit or miss genre with me, and this one is a hit. I love this series. The world building is fantastic; it’s creative and original with interesting story lines and well-developed characters. There is an ongoing attraction between Meg, the blood prophet, and Simon, a shape-shifting wolf that has been building slowly. No absurd romantic triangle, but instead a realistic story with a relationship between two very different individuals that works. My only complaint, if one could call it that, is that less time was spent with Meg and Simon in this book, and more on the some of the new characters and developing story lines.

For those who enjoy adult urban fantasy, or want to try a different genre, this series is highly recommended.

Audio production

I listened to much of the book, but also read parts of an eGalley.

As in books one and two, the audio was narrated by Alexandra Harris. She did a nice job in differentiating each of the many characters by changing her tone and inflection. Voices for Meg, Simon and other main characters were readily recognizable; however, there are a lot of characters and some of the minor ones began to sound similar. Listening, rather than reading, required a little extra attention to pick up on whom is speaking.

Audio Listening Level: Intermediate – Difficult

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Source: Review copy provided by Penguin Audio and
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March 2, 2015 / Leslie

Mailbox Monday ~ March 2nd

WinterCardinalMailbox-smlWelcome to Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia of To Be Continued, a place where readers share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week.

After several years of being on tour with different blogs as the monthly host, the Mailbox Monday Blog is now the permanent home for the meme.


 
I had a busy week in new books – lots of good reading ahead.

New Arrivals

BooksMar2_152325

The Daddy Diaries by Joshua Braff from Tandem Literary.
Joshua Braff delivers an authentic, funny and honest tale about modern family life.

The Silver Witch by Paula Brackston from St. Martin’s Press.
An enchanting tale of love and magic that weaves a modern day heroine together with the ancient Celtic past.

Where They Found Her by Kimberly from Harper.
A harrowing, gripping novel that marries psychological suspense with an emotionally powerful story about a community struggling with the consequences of a devastating discovery.

 
BooksMar2_152040

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson from Crown Books.
The enthralling story of the sinking of the Lusitania, published to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the disaster.

Nightbird by Alice Hoffman from Random House.
An enchanting novel from bestselling author Alice Hoffman: A charmed New England village, a family secret, and a friendship destined to defeat a witch.

Diamond Head by Cecily Wong from Harper.
A sweeping debut spanning China to Hawaii that follows four generations of a wealthy shipping family whose rise and decline is riddled with secrets and tragic love.

How was your week?

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February 28, 2015 / Leslie

Breakfast: Waffles on the George Foreman Grill

One of the great things about my new George Foreman Grill is that it has interchangeable cooking plates. In addition to ceramic grill plates, which are awesome by the way, there are a variety of baking and waffle plates. I love waffles, but never owned a waffle iron. Turns out they are as easy to make as pancakes.

Homemade Waffles

This is a basic waffle recipe adapted from the many I found on the internet.

Homemade Waffles

Ingredients

WaffleIngredients_122200

• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 4 teaspoons baking powder
• 2 tablespoons white sugar
• 2 eggs
• 2 cups warm milk
• ½ cup butter, melted
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation

WaffleBatter_100614In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients: flour, salt, baking powder and sugar. Set aside.

Preheat waffle iron to desired temperature. For the grill plates, preheat for 5 minutes at 425 degrees.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs. Stir in the milk, butter and vanilla. Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture; beat until blended.

Pour the batter into a preheated waffle iron. Cook until golden and crisp. Using the grill plates, waffles are ready in about 6 to 7 minutes. Be careful not to overfill the plates (like I did). When I closed the grill, batter ran out the back!

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A note about the waffle plates:
While the grilling plates are ceramic and safe to use near pets and children, the waffle plates may not be. They are non-stick and contain PTFE or PFOA (aka Teflon), which makes them unsafe for use around pet birds, especially when heated to a high temperature. I cook my waffles outside or in the basement. A bit of a pain, but safer for my birds.

 


wkendcookingThis post is linked to Weekend Cooking, hosted by Beth Fish Reads.
Participation is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs.


© 2015 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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February 27, 2015 / Leslie

A Clever Look at Group Dynamics in ‘The Room’

A Rapid Review

TheRoomThe Room by Jonas Karlsson

Publisher: Hogarth | February 2015
Format: Paperback | Rating: 4 stars

Funny, clever, surreal, and thought-provoking, this Kafka-esque masterpiece introduces the unforgettable Bjorn, an exceptionally meticulous office worker striving to live life on his own terms.

Bjorn has recently accepted a position as a civil servant at “The Authority” and spends his days working in a modern, open-space office; a bureaucracy complete with petty co-workers, office politics, and a dreary environment.

Bjorn isn’t interested in socializing or making friends; he just wants to do his job and gain recognition as a leader. Unfortunately, he’s also a bit odd and irritating to his co-workers. When he finds a small, unused office near the elevators, he begins to spend his breaks there. The room is a peaceful, productive place where he can think and work. There’s only one problem: No one else can see the room.

This quirky little book was a quick read and an interesting change of pace. I read it in between a few more challenging books, but found it brought up some interesting questions: Is Bjorn a clever manipulator or a nut? How far will someone go to regain their personal space? Does the room really exist? In the end, a compelling psychological study.

An Under My Apple Tree Rapid Review
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Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
© 2015 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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February 25, 2015 / Leslie

Wordless Wednesday: Nest

Nest_IMG_3786

Almost wordless: This was near the pond and was probably a Red-Winged Blackbird’s Nest.

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More Wordless Wednesday. © 2015 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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February 24, 2015 / Leslie

Audiobook: Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

A Rapid Review

LeavingTimeLeaving Time by Jodi Picoult

Publisher: Random House | October 2014
Format: Audio Download | 15 hours | Rating: 4½ stars
Audio Listening Level: Intermediate

For more than a decade, Jenna Metcalf has never stopped thinking about her mother, Alice, who mysteriously disappeared in the wake of a tragic accident. Refusing to believe that she would be abandoned as a young child, Jenna searches online for her mother, a scientist who studied grief among elephants, and pores over the pages of Alice’s old journals.

With the help of Serenity, a psychic, and Virgil, a retired detective who was an investigator in her mom’s disappearance, Jenna sets out to find the truth. Is Alice alive or dead? And what really happened that night?

The book uses alternate perspectives – Jenna, Serenity, Virgil, and Alice – a device that works well with this mystery, and also serves to engage the reader as new details are revealed and observations made from the different points of view. In addition to the mystery itself, I was fascinated by the background story of the elephants and the sanctuary.

If it seems like I’m being vague, it’s because I am! Knowing too much about the mystery would spoil the story because of the way events are revealed and how the puzzle comes together. I should have seen the ending coming a mile away, but I didn’t, and that speaks to how well the story was written and how it unfolded.

Audio production:
The audio production consisted of an ensemble cast of Rebecca Lowman, Abigail Revasch, Kathe Mazur, and Mark Deakins, each giving voice to one of the four characters. When a book is long, complex, or has multiple perspectives, I prefer having more than one narrator. It provides a better sense of each character as opposed to one narrator attempting to give a believable voice to each. And, more importantly, it makes it easy for the listener to remember who is speaking, and makes the audio more enjoyable.

Audio Sample:

An Under My Apple Tree Rapid Review
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Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
© 2015 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
Advertisements appearing on this site are placed by WordPress and are not endorsed or approved by me.

February 23, 2015 / Leslie

Mailbox Monday ~ February 23rd

WinterCardinalMailbox-smlWelcome to Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia of To Be Continued, a place where readers share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week.

After several years of being on tour with different blogs as the monthly host, the Mailbox Monday Blog is now the permanent home for the meme.


 

No new print books this week but I did receive a few new audio downloads:

New Arrivals

From Random House Audio:

TouchOfStardustQueenieHennessyActOfGod

A Touch of Stardust by Kate Alcott
A blockbuster novel that takes you behind the scenes of the filming of Gone with the Wind, while turning the spotlight on the passionate romance between its dashing leading man, Clark Gable, and the blithe, free-spirited actress Carole Lombard.

The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce
From the bestselling author of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry comes an exquisite love story about Queenie Hennessy, the remarkable friend who inspired Harold’s cross-country journey.

Act of God by Jill Ciment
Part horror story, part screwball comedy, Jill Ciment’s brilliant suspense novel looks at what happens when our lives—so seemingly set and ordered yet so precariously balanced—break down in the wake of calamity.

From Penguin Audio:

InterstellarAgeDeadWake

The Interstellar Age by Jim Bell
The story of the men and women who drove the Voyager spacecraft mission— told by a scientist who was there from the beginning.

Dead Wake by Erik Larson
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author and master of narrative nonfiction comes the enthralling story of the sinking of the Lusitania, published to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the disaster.

How was your week?

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© 2015 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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