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July 29, 2015 / Leslie

Wordless Wednesday: Monarch Caterpillar Hatchling

Monarch Caterpillar Hatchling

Almost wordless: Monarch Butterflies visited the wildflower garden last weekend. I checked the Milkweed a few days later and found a very tiny hatchling on the underside of a leaf, about 2 or 3mm long.

Monarch Caterpillar Hatchling

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July 27, 2015 / Leslie

Mailbox Monday ~ July 27th

Butterfly-PinkFlower_Mailbox56392Welcome 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’ve been in a bit of a writing slump the past couple of weeks. I have lots to say but the words are getting stuck in my head. I hate when that happens! Perhaps there were just too many July distractions this month.

A couple of print books arrived last week . . .

New Arrivals

BooksJuly27_192957

Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin from LibraryThing.
Shocking, intense, and utterly original, Black-Eyed Susans is a dazzling psychological thriller, seamlessly weaving past and present in a searing tale of a young woman whose harrowing memories remain in a field of flowers—as a killer makes a chilling return to his garden.

Not Black and White by G.A. Beller from Tandem Literary. This was a surprise arrival, but does sound interesting since I know a lot about Chicago politics.
A fictional account of many of the events that led to the meteoric rise of a local charismatic street politician to become America’s first African-American president, and the downfall and imprisonment of two consecutive governors in the State of Illinois, along with several of their most trusted advisors and cohorts.

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Win A Copy …SummerSecrets

Summer Secrets by Jane Green

Jane Green delivers her second blockbuster novel of 2015, a story of one woman struggling to right the wrongs of her past, with even more complications in the present.

Enter on or before August 1st. US addresses only.

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July 25, 2015 / Leslie

Likers, Haters, and Manipulators at the Bottom of the Web – A Book Review

ReadingTheCommentsReading the Comments
by Joseph M Reagle

Genre: Non-Fiction
Publisher: MIT Press | April 2015
Format: Hardcover | 225 pages
Rating: 4 of 5

From the Publisher

Online comment can be informative or misleading, entertaining or maddening. Haters and manipulators often seem to monopolize the conversation. Some comments are off-topic, or even topic-less. In this book, Joseph Reagle urges us to read the comments. Conversations “on the bottom half of the Internet,” he argues, can tell us much about human nature and social behavior.

 

My Thoughts

More than just about comments, this book explores online discussion in many different forms. From the beginning of the internet and the early days of flame wars on usenet, to today’s many, many ways to express our opinions – blog comments, product reviews, Facebook posts, tweets, etc – commentary on the web affects us every time we log on.

Because I’m an avid reviewer, not only of books but also products, I was quite interested in what the author had to say about us. He researched various sites such as Amazon, TripAdvisor, Angie’s List (does pay for membership system make it more reliable?), and Yelp to name a few, and discusses his findings in several chapters. He also touched on Goodreads, the book review site, and talked about the authors vs reviewers war a few years ago–I’m sure many of the book bloggers remember that.

I can’t say I was shocked to find out there are fake reviews, but I was surprised at the lengths people will go to to buy five-star reviews and manipulate the ratings. There is an entire industry set up around it. And there is good reason why. Research has found that people do read reviews and act on them, and the earlier reviews with more likes tend to have more weight.

The book is written in a text-book format (as I would expect from MIT Press, so no surprises there). Despite the style, I found it very interesting, informative, and able to hold my attention. I mention this because many books today aimed at a more general audience provide graphs, illustrations, sidebars, and fun facts and figures to keep the reader’s attention from wandering. The author does sprinkle a few of his favorite cartoons, many from xkcd.com, among the text in each chapter. But mostly this is a more scholarly book, although still very readable and occasionally even humorous.

At about 200 pages long, the book packs in a lot of well-researched and annotated information. It is sure to appeal to those who like detail, facts and figures, but still contains a lot of good information for general reader.

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Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
© 2015 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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July 24, 2015 / Leslie

Friday Book Feature and Giveaway

Summer Secrets by Jane Green

I’m sure many of you have a summer reading list. Mine is an informal pile of books on my desk calling out to me to “choose me next”. And that brings me to today’s feature, Jane Green’s newest release, Summer Secrets, the next book on my summer must-read list.

Courtesy of the publicist, I have one copy to give away to a reader with a US mailing address.

About the Book

SummerSecretsSummer Secrets

by Jane Green
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: June 2015
Format: Hardcopy | 308 pages

Jane Green delivers her second blockbuster novel of 2015, a story of one woman struggling to right the wrongs of her past, with even more complications in the present.

June, 1998: At twenty seven, Catherine Coombs, also known as Cat, is struggling. She lives in London, works as a journalist, and parties hard. Her lunchtimes consist of several glasses of wine at the bar downstairs in the office, her evenings much the same, swigging the free booze and eating the free food at a different launch or party every night. When she discovers the identity of the father she never knew she had, it sends her into a spiral. She makes mistakes that cost her the budding friendship of the only women who have ever welcomed her. And nothing is ever the same after that.

June, 2014: Cat has finally come to the end of herself. She no longer drinks. She wants to make amends to those she has hurt. Her quest takes her to Nantucket, to the gorgeous summer community where the women she once called family still live. Despite her sins, will they welcome her again? What Cat doesn’t realize is that these women, her real father’s daughters, have secrets of their own. As the past collides with the present, Cat must confront the darkest things in her own life and uncover the depths of someone’s need for revenge.

About the Author

Jane Green is the author of seventeen novels, including fifteen New York Times Bestsellers, including her latest, Summer Secrets. Previous novels have included The Beach House, Second Chance, Jemima J, and Tempting Fate.

A former feature writer for the Daily Express in the UK, Green took a leap of faith when she left in 1996 to freelance and work on a novel. Seven months later, there was a bidding war for her first book, Straight Talking, the saga of a single career girl looking for the right man. The novel was an immediate top-ten bestseller in England, and Green was an overnight success.

More Information

Twitter | Pinterest | Website | Facebook | Goodreads

Giveaway Information

Courtesy of the publicist, I have one copy of Summer Secrets to give away to a reader with a US mailing address. To enter, fill out the form below on or before midnight, Saturday, August 1st. The winner will be chosen in a random drawing and notified by email.

 

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© 2015 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
Source: Giveaway provided by Tandem Literary.
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July 23, 2015 / Leslie

Audio Review: The Accidental Empress

A Rapid Review

AccidentalEmpressThe Accidental Empress by Allison Pataki

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio | February 2015
Format: Audio Download | 18 hours | Rating: 3 stars
Audio Listening Level: Intermediate

New York Times bestselling author Allison Pataki follows up on her critically acclaimed debut novel, The Traitor’s Wife, with the little-known and tumultuous love story of “Sisi” the Austro-Hungarian Empress and captivating wife of Emperor Franz Joseph.

In the mid 1800s, the Habsburg’s of Austria ruled over a large part of Europe. When young Emperor Franz Joseph is introduced to the woman chosen to be his wife, he instead falls in love with her younger sister, 15-year-old Elisabeth. Against the wishes of their families, Franz Joseph marries Elisabeth. But young Elisabeth was unprepared for what she would experience in Hapsburg Court and the difficult life she was about to undertake.

The author’s detailed account and description of life in the royal court—the lavish feasts, clothing, hair styles, gossipy servants—brought Sisi’s day-to-day experiences to life; however, I never got a real feel for the true historical events. While Franz Joseph and his overbearing mother were pivotal characters, Sisi was the only one I felt was fully developed.

After a little research on my own and discussion with my bookclub (this was our July read), I realized the story was only loosely based on actual historical facts; events were shifted in time to conveniently fit the story line and some were complete fiction. Reactions of the bookclub members were mixed with some liking it a lot and others not so much. For me it was OK, but I thought it could have been better considering the rich subject matter. Historical romance fans should enjoy this more than I did.

Audio production:
There were a lot of characters and more than a few shifts in time and location to keep up with, so attention to time and place is important. The audio was nicely performed by Madeleine Maby with a range of emotion and a captivating voice. [Audio Sample on SoundCloud.] An Under My Apple Tree Rapid Review
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Source: Review copy provided by Simon & Schuster.
© 2015 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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July 22, 2015 / Leslie

Wordless Wednesday: On the Nest

MrsRobin

Almost wordless: I put this nesting shelf on my garage years ago and the robins always chose to build their nest in the tree. This year they used the shelf.

MrsRobin

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July 20, 2015 / Leslie

Mailbox Monday ~ July 20th

Butterfly-PinkFlower_Mailbox56392Welcome 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.


 
Not much reading has been happening here the past few weeks although I’ve still been listening to my usual amount of audio. It’s not that I don’t want to read, it’s just that in the summer I have trouble sitting still.

And then there are the little tasks that manage to expand to eat up the entire day. I start out clipping a few stray branches on a shrub and the next thing I know I’ve got the loppers out and I’m trimming everything along the back fence because this is brush pick-up week. Or I’m rescuing baby birds. Or trying to troubleshoot a problem with my new laptop – it likes to freeze up for unknown reasons and is eating up hours of my time.

Anyway, a few books managed to trickle in . . .

New Arrivals

BooksJuly20_092349

The Redeemers by Ace Atkins from Putnam.
He is only in his early thirties, but now Quinn Colson is jobless—voted out of office as sheriff of Tibbehah County, Mississippi, thanks to the machinations of county kingpin Johnny Stagg. He has offers, in bigger and better places, but before he goes, he’s got one more job to do—bring down Stagg’s criminal operations for good.

Audio Downloads

From Random House Audio

NightSisterCirclingTheSun

The Night Sister by Jennifer McMahon
The latest novel from New York Times best-selling author Jennifer McMahon is an atmospheric, gripping, and suspenseful tale that probes the bond between sisters and the peril of keeping secrets.

Circling the Sun by Paula McLain
Set against the majestic landscape of early-twentieth-century Africa, McLain’s powerful tale reveals the extraordinary adventures of a woman before her time, the exhilaration of freedom and its cost, and the tenacity of the human spirit.

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© 2015 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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