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October 1, 2014 / Leslie

Review – Audiobook: A Good Marriage by Stephen King

A Rapid Review

GoodMarriageA Good Marriage by Stephen King

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio | September 2014
Format: Audio CD | 3½ hours | Rating: 4 stars
Audio Listening Level: Easy

Bob Anderson, Darcy’s husband of more than twenty years, is away on one of his business trips, when his unsuspecting wife looks for batteries in the garage. Her toe knocks up against a box under a worktable and she discovers she doesn’t know her husband at all, but rather has been living with a stranger. This horrifying discovery, rendered with bristling intensity, could be the end of what Darcy thought was a good marriage…

Darcy’s husband has a secret and she can’t just forget about what she found and pretend things are the same as they used to be. Darcy begins to search for information to convince herself that what she suspects is not true. But what she discovers is even worse.

From the synopsis and the picture on the cover, I was expecting a classic horror story. And while it did have elements of horror, it is more suspense than horror. The tension builds as Darcy finds out more and more about the extent of her husband’s secret. And as the suspense builds, so does the fear.

If the plot sounds familiar to some Stephen King fans, it’s because this story was originally published in 2010 as one of the short stories in Full Dark, No Stars. It was re-released as a stand-alone audiobook to coincide with the upcoming motion picture production.

Audio production:
The book was read by Jessica Hecht. She did a great job portraying the at first clueless Darcy, who gradually gains confidence and strength, and her overconfident husband. The story is easy to follow and at only three and a half hours long, a good choice for listeners new to the audio format.

An Under My Apple Tree Rapid Review
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Source: Review copy provided by Simon & Schuster Audio.
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September 29, 2014 / Leslie

Mailbox Monday ~ September 29th

CardinalMailboxAutumnWelcome 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 received a couple of new books last week and I can’t wait to get started reading them. Both are non-fiction, but birds and computer tech are a couple of my favorite subjects.

New Arrivals

BooksSep29_IMG_3538

The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution by Walter Isaacson.
This is the story of these pioneers, hackers, inventors, and entrepreneurs—who they were, how their minds worked, and what made them so creative. It’s also a narrative of how they collaborated and why their ability to work as teams made them even more creative.

The Birds of Pandemonium by Michele Raffin.
Pandemonium, the home and bird sanctuary that Raffin shares with some of the world’s most remarkable birds, is a conservation organization dedicated to saving and breeding birds at the edge of extinction, with the goal of eventually releasing them into the wild. In The Birds of Pandemonium, she lets us into her world–and theirs.

New Giveaway

Web of Betrayal by Clare PriceWeb of Betrayal by Clare F. Price

Win a copy of Web of Betrayal, a chilling, pulse-pounding tale of murder and revenge set in Silicon Valley at the dawn of the Internet Age.

Click the image for details.

To enter, fill out the form. Continental US addresses only by 10/11.
 

How was your week?

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September 28, 2014 / Leslie

Review – Audiobook: Those Who Wish Me Dead by Michael Koryta

Those Who Wish Me DeadThose Who Wish Me Dead
by Michael Koryta

Genre: Thriller
Publisher: Hachette / Little Brown | June 2014
Format: Audio, 10½ hours | Print, 400 pages
Audio Listening Level: Intermediate
Rating: 5 of 5

From the Publisher

When fourteen-year-old Jace Wilson witnesses a brutal murder, he’s plunged into a new life, issued a false identity and hidden in a wilderness skills program for troubled teens. The plan is to get Jace off the grid while police find the two killers. The result is the start of a nightmare.

About the Story

Ethan and his wife Allison live in the Montana mountains. He is a survival instructor and also runs a summer camp for troubled teens. One night Jamie, a former survivor school student, shows up at Ethan’s door. She needs a favor. She is now working as a private bodyguard and wants to hide a young witness by enrolling him in Ethan’s wilderness camp for teens. The boy’s parents do not trust the police to keep him safe and have hired her to hide him from a pair of hitmen that want to eliminate the only witness to a murder they committed.

Allison wasn’t so sure this was a good idea, but Ethan wanted to do the right thing and help the boy. He knew could keep him safe in the wilderness. But in no time the hit men, the exceptionally creepy Blackwell brothers, were able to track them and began closing in on the group.

My Thoughts:

This is one of my favorite types of books – a classic thriller that captures my attention from the very first chapter and won’t let go. The suspense was riveting, the plot rich and complex, but never difficult to grasp. The pace never slowed down with one plot turn after another. The setting in the mountainous wilderness is a character in itself, offering its own obstacles including an encroaching forest fire.

I listened to this book knowing little about the plot other than the synopsis – and not knowing what was to come enhanced my enjoyment. The narrative shifts between the different character’s points of view, including a creepy glimpse into the minds of the hitmen. Their eerie conversations, relentless pursuit and joy in killing add to the gripping nature of the story.

Audio Production

The audio was performed by Robert Petkoff who did an excellent job with each and every character. Voices were distinct and it was easy to identify a shift in point of view. My favorite voice was for the Blackwell brothers. They are the stuff nightmares are made of, and the narration drove that home.

I had no trouble following the story, but the shifting narrative requires a little more attention than usual. Nevertheless, I would recommend this to listeners of all levels.

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Source: Review copy from the Hachette Audio through LibraryThing.
© 2014 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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September 27, 2014 / Leslie

Weekend Birding: Fishing – Heron Style

I barely noticed a Great Blue Heron standing at the edge of the pond. They can remain still as a statue while waiting patiently for dinner to swim past. When I saw the bird with his mouth open, I stopped and waited to see if he was going to grab a fish or other small amphibian.

Preparing to stike

Great Blue Heron

This is a young, juvenile heron. The black and white striping on the throat and breast, two-toned dark bill and solid dark crown distinguish it from the adult herons with their black and white striped crown and yellow bill.

Caught a small fish

Great Blue Heron

Herons will eat pretty much anything within striking distance, often impaling the prey on their sharp bill. Fish, reptiles, insects and even small mammals or birds are part of their diet.

Shaking the fish

Great Blue Heron

After spearing the fish with his beak, he turned around and began shaking it. This breaks the sharp spines and makes it easier to swallow.

A drink of water

Great Blue Heron

After a few minutes of shaking the fish, he gulped it down whole, followed by a drink of water.

 


Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Melinda of West Metro Mommy. Visit her blog to see more great photos.

© 2014 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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September 25, 2014 / Leslie

Spotlight & Giveaway: Web of Betrayal by Clare Price

Today I have a special feature and the opportunity to win a copy of Web of Betrayal, a chilling, pulse-pounding tale of murder and revenge set in Silicon Valley at the dawn of the Internet Age.

About the Book

Web of Betrayal by Clare PriceWeb of Betrayal

by Clare Price
Genre: Thriller
Publish Date: July 2014
Format: Paperback | 412 pages

The year is 1994, the dawn of the Internet Age, when companies from Silicon Valley to London are fighting to claim the billions to be made on the new information highway.

Peter Ellis, an aggressive investigative reporter struggling to repair his damaged reputation after being framed for rigging a story, attends the Consumer Electronics Show and learns that a skilled programmer known for cracking secure computer code has mysteriously disappeared.

Peter’s quest to find the missing programmer unwittingly pits him against a brilliant hacker and deranged killer with an agenda of his own: taking revenge on the man who ruined his life – computer industry luminary David Lockwood – who is now poised to introduce a product that will change the Internet forever.

As Peter is drawn into the deadly game of betrayal and murder, he is faced with losing everything he holds dear: his career, his one true love, even his own life. Can he find the programmer’s encoded disk – which the holds the key to the killer’s identity – before his luck runs out?

About the Author

Clare Price is a former business journalist, technology reporter, Internet industry analyst and a VP of marketing for several software startups. She saw the birth of the commercial Internet firsthand as a research director with the Gartner Group, the global leader in information technology consulting. As a principal analyst in Gartner’s Internet Strategies Service, Clare assisted many of the world’s biggest technology companies (IBM, Microsoft, Cisco, HP, Sun Microsystems, Oracle) in their bid to make the internet a reality.

In addition to her 5-book series, The 5 Easy Pages Essential Marketing System, Clare has written more than 700 articles and is a frequent speaker in the areas of marketing, management, and technology.

An Ohio native and graduate of the UC Berkeley, Clare lives in Sacramento with her two Shetland Sheepdogs, Dan and Toby.

Connect with Claire

Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Webpage

Giveaway Information

Courtesy of the publicist, I have one copy of Web of Betrayal to give away to a reader with a continental US mailing address. To enter, fill out the form below on or before midnight, Saturday, October 11th. For an extra entry, tweet or blog about the giveaway. The winner will be contacted by email and have 48 hours to respond.

 
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© 2014 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
Source: Giveaway provided by Tandem Literary.
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September 24, 2014 / Leslie

Wordless Wednesday: Hiding in Plain Sight

Katydid on Hosta

Almost wordless: I was raking leaves when I disturbed a bug relaxing on (or maybe snacking on) my hostas. Once it moved I got a better look at it. It’s a Katydid. I took this shot with my phone and didn’t expect the clarity and crispness to match my Canon DSLR. Now I want a better lens for my Canon.

Katydid
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More Wordless Wednesday. © 2014 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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September 23, 2014 / Leslie

Review – Audiobook: Personal by Lee Child

PersonalPersonal: A Jack Reacher Novel
by Lee Child

Genre: Thriller
Publisher: Random House / Delacorte | September 2014
Format: Audio, 13 hours | Print, 368 pages
Audio Listening Level: Easy – Intermediate
Rating: 4 of 5

From the Publisher

Jack Reacher walks alone. Once a go-to hard man in the US military police, now he’s a drifter of no fixed abode. But the army tracks him down. Because someone has taken a long-range shot at the French president. Only one man could have done it. And Reacher is the one man who can find him.

About the Story

Jack Reacher is on a bus to Seattle when he finds a discarded copy of the Army Times. He picks it up and flips through it and in the personal ads he sees one with his name in it – a large box in the center of the page in bold print: Jack Reacher call Rick Shoemaker.

Reacher owed Shoemaker a favor, so he found a pay phone – yes, a pay phone, he doesn’t carry a phone, or much of anything else for that matter – and made the call. The military needs his help. Someone took a long-range shot at the French President. Only four snipers in the world could make that shot and one of them is an American who was just released from jail. Reacher was the guy who put him away fifteen years ago.

My Thoughts:

Reacher teams up with Casey Nice, a young, an inexperienced female operative from the US State Department, and they set out to find their guy. Most of the action takes place in Paris and London rather than being set in the United States. Although Reacher was born and raised overseas and is familiar with the territory, this is a change from previous novels.

This book was a different from the usual high-octane adventure Reacher is known for. The story was fairly low-key as thrillers go with not as much action as the usual Reacher novel, but still plenty for my tastes. There are lots of gangsters and thugs and evil ex-military guys to defeat. The pacing is quick, the dialog sprinkled with humorous quips and the plot moves quickly as Reacher proceeds to get things done – his way.

This is the nineteenth book in the Reacher series, and while he may be showing a few signs of slowing down, Reacher is still the guy I most want to have on the bus in the event of trouble.

Audio Production

The narration was performed by Dick Hill who has read many, if not all, of the previous novels and is the voice of Reacher for many fans. Pacing was good, I enjoyed the ‘bad guy’ voices, but his female voice for Casey was just OK. Male narrators performing female dialog rarely works for me.

This is the first full-length Reacher novel I’ve listened to rather than read and for me the performance was good but not spectacular. That is mostly due to my own expectations of what Reacher should sound like. Personal is written in the first person, and as Hill read the lines for Reacher he often sounded snarky and at times ambivalent. I still enjoyed it – I listen to a lot of audio and have a lot of narrators to compare each performance with in my own mind. Listen to a sample and decide for yourself…

Audio Sample

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Source: Review copy from the publisher.
© 2014 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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