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March 25, 2015 / Leslie

Wordless Wednesday: Mister Bluebird

Bluebird

Almost wordless: The Bluebirds are already claiming territory for nesting season. This little guy was perched near one of the nestboxes at Cantigny Golf Course.

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More Wordless Wednesday. © 2015 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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March 23, 2015 / Leslie

Mailbox Monday ~ March 23rd

WelcomeBirdhouseMailbox-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.


 
A few new arrivals this week… along with yet another few inches of snow. Gardening, flowers, and veggies feel like they are still a million miles away. The robins and cardinals are singing their mating songs despite the nasty weather, so there is hope for spring arriving sometime soon.

New Arrivals

BooksMar23_175255

Genuine Sweet by Faith Harkey from AmazonVine.
Twelve-year-old Genuine Sweet, of tiny Sass, Georgia, can grant any wish . . . except her own. It’s a peculiar predicament, considering how much she could use a few wishes. New friends help Genuine give her family a boost–and then she takes her gift global!

Miramont’s Ghost by Elizabeth Hall, a win from 100 Pages A Day.
Miramont Castle, built in 1897 and mysteriously abandoned three years later, is home to many secrets. Only one person knows the truth: Adrienne Beauvier, granddaughter of the Comte de Challembelles and cousin to the man who built the castle.

Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own by Kate Bolick from Crown Books.
“Whom to marry, and when will it happen—these two questions define every woman’s existence.” So begins Spinster, a revelatory and slyly erudite look at the pleasures and possibilities of remaining single. Using her own experiences as a starting point, journalist and cultural critic Kate Bolick invites us into her carefully considered, passionately lived life, weaving together the past and present to examine why­ she—along with over 100 million American women, whose ranks keep growing—remains unmarried.

TheBooksellerStill time to enter the giveaway for The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson…

A provocative and hauntingly powerful debut novel reminiscent of Sliding Doors, The Bookseller follows a woman in the 1960s who must reconcile her reality with the tantalizing alternate world of her dreams.

Enter on or before March 25th. Continental US addresses only.

How was your week?

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March 20, 2015 / Leslie

Review – Audiobook: Mort[e] by Robert Repino

MorteMort[e]
by Robert Repino
Narrated by Bronson Pinchot

Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Blackstone Audio | January 2015
Format: Audio Download, 11 hours
Audio Listening Level: Intermediate

From the Publisher

The war with no name has begun; its goal, human extinction. The instigator of this war is the Colony, a race of intelligent ants who, for thousands of years, have been silently building an army that will forever eradicate the destructive, oppressive humans. Under the Colony’s watchful eye, this utopia will be free of the humans penchant for violence, exploitation, and religious superstition. The final step in the Colony’s war effort is the transformation of surface animals into high-functioning two-legged beings who will rise up and kill their masters.

About the Story

The book began as an engaging science fiction novel: animals are transformed by a hormone and become self-aware, rising up against oppressive masters; unfortunately we hear little from beloved pets that are treated as family members by their ‘owners’, and only from the ‘slave’ animals. The uprising was instigated by the ants and the other animals blindly follow along. There was a mysterious weapon, or maybe it’s a virus, or maybe it’s something else. In the end, we do find out, but along the way the plot got a little confusing, and sadly I struggled to stay involved.

Thoughts

I was hoping this would be like Watership Down, but it was not. The book is described as “A genre-busting postapocalyptic first novel, a page-turning adventure channeling “Animal Farm” as imagined by Cormac McCarthy”; and true, there are similarities. Animals are no longer acting like animals, but rather as angry humans. But Animal Farm was teaching a lesson, something I struggled to find in this novel.

The story is told through the eyes of Mort[e], a former house cat and now a fighter in the war against humans. Morte is also searching for a dog named Sheba who ran off before she could become self-aware. Everyone tells him she is most likely dead, but he persists in his quest to find her. I found that part of the story, and Mort’s compassion and concern for Sheba, most engaging.

One of the things I didn’t like was the violence. I don’t mind a little of it, after all I do enjoy Stephen King horror novels, but I wasn’t expecting such graphic detail—or maybe because it was animals and former pets. Another was the religious symbolism which was prevalent throughout the second half of the story.

The book did have an interesting premise and lots of action, and I really wanted to like it, but in the end it fell a little flat for me.

Audio production

The book was read by Bronson Pinchot who brought the characters to life. Mort was not that well-developed, and yet the narration made him seem real and more complex. The audio was nicely performed; my problem was following the plot.

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Source: Review copy
© 2015 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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March 18, 2015 / Leslie

Wordless Wednesday: They’re baaaaaack!

Robin_IMG_3916

Almost wordless: A sure sign that spring has arrived. Lots of robins in the park last Saturday.

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More Wordless Wednesday. © 2015 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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March 16, 2015 / Leslie

Mailbox Monday ~ March 16th

WelcomeBirdhouseMailbox-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.


 
A couple of new audio books last week…

New Audio Downloads

BeneathTheSurfaceOldVenus

Beneath the Surface: Killer Whales, SeaWorld, and the Truth Beyond Blackfish by John Hargrove from Random House Audio.
After leaving SeaWorld, Hargrove became one of the stars of the controversial documentary Blackfish. The outcry over the treatment of SeaWorld’s orca has now expanded beyond the outlines sketched by the award-winning documentary, with Hargrove contributing his expertise to an advocacy movement that is convincing both federal and state governments to act.

Old Venus, edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois from Random House Audio.
From pulp adventures such as Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Carson of Venus to classic short stories such as Ray Bradbury’s “The Long Rain”, the planet Venus has loomed large in the imaginations of science fiction writers. Here, that steamy, swampy jungle world with strange creatures lurking amidst the dripping vegetation is explored in sixteen all-new stories.

How was your week?

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© 2015 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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March 15, 2015 / Leslie

Review & Giveaway: The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson

TheBooksellerThe Bookseller
by Cynthia Swanson

Genre: Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Harper | March 2015
Format: Hardcover | 352 pages
Rating: 4½ of 5

From the Publisher:

A provocative and hauntingly powerful debut novel reminiscent of Sliding Doors, The Bookseller follows a woman in the 1960s who must reconcile her reality with the tantalizing alternate world of her dreams.

About the Story:

Kitty Miller co-owns a bookshop with her best friend, Frieda. This would be nothing out of the ordinary today, but the setting is Denver, 1962, and women were rarely in charge of running a business, much less being the owners. They defied conventional standards by being single women, having a career, and making their own decisions.

Kitty thought she was happy until she began having unusually vivid dreams of another life…

In the dreams it is 1963 and she is called Katharyn, not Kitty. She is married to a wonderful man, has a beautiful home, and lovely children. Her dreams are a pleasant diversion into a life she never imagined she would have. Before long she begins to wonder: which life is real and which one does she want to live.

Thoughts:

Chapters alternate between the two worlds, with Kitty discovering more and more about Katharyn’s life and comparing it to the differences in her own reality. The author sets up a few mysteries for Kitty to solve and at the same time hooks the reader (well, it hooked me anyway).

I enjoyed the story a lot, even though halfway through the book I could guess where it was heading. It was a little fluffy at times, but also compelling and entertaining in an un-put-down-able way. And while I suspected what was happening, I wanted to learn the details… and stayed up an hour too late to find out.

Win a copy of the book – US Only

Thanks to the publicist, I have one copy of The Bookseller to give away to a reader with a mailing address in the continental US. To enter, fill out the form below on or before March 25th. For an extra entry, tweet or blog the giveaway and include the link. I will draw a random winner who will be contacted by email and have 48 hours to respond.

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Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
© 2015 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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March 11, 2015 / Leslie

Wordless Wednesday: Spring Thaw

SpringThaw_IMG_0982

Almost wordless: I am eagerly awaiting the return of ‘color’ to the landscape. Only nine more days until spring!

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More Wordless Wednesday. © 2015 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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