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October 31, 2014 / Leslie

Books for Young Readers

How to Behave at a Tea Party

TeaPartyby Madelyn Rosenberg
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books | September 2014

Julia’s little brother doesn’t know how to behave at a tea party. It’s time that changed.

Julia will show Charles that slurping and burping are not allowed, that teacups are not building blocks, and that underwear does not count as a fancy hat.

Charles will teach Julia that tea parties sometimes require deep breaths, and welcoming unexpected guests, and that maybe–just maybe–there is more than one way to properly behave.

Julia invites her brother, Charles, to her tea party, but when his friends show up along with the dog, who wants to eat the peonies, and a frog that jumps in the teacups, the party becomes a disaster. No one is listening to an increasingly bossy Julia and, in frustration, she yells and sends them all scurrying away. But you can’t have a tea party without guests, so Julia tries again and re-invites her brother and lets him bring his friends.

The book is only 32 pages long with cute and often humorous illustrations. There is not a lot of text with only a sentence or two on each page. The book is intended for preschool children and beginning readers. Besides teaching etiquette and manners, Julia also learns tolerance and acceptance of others. And, I suppose, a glimpse of what it’s like in the real world. I would have liked it a little more if it taught the same lesson without using stereotypical ‘girl’ behavior vs ‘boy’ behavior.

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kinkonnectionThis post is linked to Kid Konnection, hosted Saturdays by Julie at Booking Mama.
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Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
© 2014 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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October 30, 2014 / Leslie

Audiobook: You by Caroline Kepnes

You by Caroline KepnesYou by Caroline Kepnes
Narrated by Santino Fontana

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio | September 2014
Format: Audio Download | 11 hours
Audio Listening Level: Easy – Intermediate
Rating: 5 stars

About the Book:

When aspiring writer Guinevere Beck strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe works, he’s instantly smitten. Beck is everything Joe has ever wanted.

Beck doesn’t know it yet, but she’s perfect for him, and soon she can’t resist her feelings for a guy who seems custom-made for her. But there’s more to Joe than Beck realizes, and much more to Beck than her oh-so-perfect façade. Their mutual obsession quickly spirals into a whirlwind of deadly consequences . . .

My Thoughts:

This was an obsessive, addictive read. My desire to know how this scenario was going to play-out made me feel a little creepy, but I couldn’t stop listening to it. It’s not so much that I liked these characters; no, it was like watching a train wreck in slow motion and not being able to look away.

Joe is a stalker. From the day he encounters Beck in the bookstore, his desire to know everything about her, to control her, becomes an obsession. He steals her phone, he reads her email and tweets, he schemes to get rid of her sometimes boyfriend, Benji, he intensely dislikes one of her friends.

What makes this book so compulsive is the way it is written from the point of view of Joe, the stalker. But it’s not written in the first person – it’s written in the second person, and it is very, very effective. Joe rambles on to himself at length attempting to justify his actions, all the while explaining them to Beck who he refers to as… You.

I can’t recall another second personal narrative I’ve enjoyed this much. The dialog is clever, the story twisted and original. The author effectively gets into the head of a psychopath and we get a peek at what he’s thinking. And it’s not just his thoughts about Beck and her friends. He has disdain for the bookstore customers and their reading choices. He goes into a hysterical rant about the type of customers buying the new Stephen King book, Doctor Sleep, on release day…

6:08 and the next dude in line is buying the new King and The Shining just to be bold — he calls The Shining a prequel and I want to cut his face — and what an awful world it is out there, Beck. What a miracle that you came in here, so happy, when most of the people who come in are so miserable, everyone except for you and me and Curtis, who holds the door for Mr. Shining and starts with his bullshit.

Ummm, note that Beck is not there. The stalker is talking to himself, to You. And he does like King, just not his readers. And the rant continues.

I alternated between feeling terrified by Joe and the thought that there are people like him walking the streets, to feeling sorry for him and coming dangerously close to empathizing with him! He is so needy at times. And then there’s that cage he has in the basement and I am back to feeling creepy.

The book has been described as a romantic thriller because (without getting spoilery) Beck and Joe do
get together, sort of. And in a way, they are perfect for each other… or maybe I should say, deserve each other.

Audio production

The audio was narrated by Santino Fontana, a new voice for me, and he did a fantastic job making me think I was listening to an obsessive, unbalanced person. He portrayed Joe with emotion and feeling… kind, impatient, angry, frustrated… easily switching between Joe’s many moods. It added to the aura of unease knowing that someone like Joe was watching Beck’s every move, or could be watching any of us!

One warning – there is some explicit sexual content and more than a few swear words. While I thought the audio enhanced the book, hearing rather than reading may not be for everyone. If this doesn’t bother you, then definitely try the audio. [Audio sample HERE.]

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Source: Review copy provided by Simon & Schuster.
© 2014 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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October 29, 2014 / Leslie

Wordless Wednesday: Late Bloomers

SnapDragons_IMG_3727

Almost wordless: Although it’s late October, a few determined snapdragons are still blooming in my garden.

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October 28, 2014 / Leslie

Giveaway Winner: A Brief Moment of Weightlessness

Thank you to everyone that stopped by to enter the giveaway last week.

 

Winner: Debbie at ExUrbanis

BriefMoment

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October 27, 2014 / Leslie

Mailbox Monday ~ October 27th

BooHalloweenMailboxWelcome 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.


 

Nothing in the physical mailbox last week – my mail carrier is probably happy – but I did receive a couple of audiobook downloads.

 

Audiobook Downloads

NotADrillChooseYourOwn

From Random House Audio

Not a Drill by Lee Child
In this short story from Lee Child, Jack Reacher is again on the move. But even a pleasant hike on a beautiful summer day turns into a walk on the wild side . . . and perhaps something far more sinister.

Choose Your Own Autobiography by Neil Patrick Harris
This hilarious book has been adapted especially for the audiobook edition so you’ll hear all of the same fun and humor from the printed version but you don’t have to make any decisions or jump around—just kick back, relax and listen.

How was your week?

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October 23, 2014 / Leslie

Review – Audiobook: Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little

DearDaughterDear Daughter by Elizabeth Little

Publisher: Penguin Audio | July 2014
Format: Audio Download | 10 hours | Rating: 4 stars
Audio Listening Level: Intermediate

Former “It Girl” Janie Jenkins is acerbic, whip smart, and fresh out of prison. Ten years ago, at the height of her glamour and fame, she was incarcerated for the murder of her mother, a philanthropist best known for her string of rich husbands. Now, released on a technicality, Janie chops off her trademark hair, determined to chase down the one lead she has about her mother’s killer. The only problem? Janie doesn’t know if she’s the one she’s looking for.

Janie was one of the bitchy popular girls, a ‘mean’ girl, and a mostly unlikable character. She was unlikable to me because she was completely unrelatable, but this was one of those books where I didn’t need to like the main character to get swept up in the story.

The writing is crisp and sharp, the dialog often witty, and except for a brief period in the middle of the novel – when Janie first arrives in Adeline, a small, remote town that Janie has reason to believe holds the answer to the mystery of who killed her mother – the story moves along at a quick pace. There were plenty of suspects, motivation and twists to keep me guessing until the unexpected ending.

Audio production:
The audio production was excellent and added another level of entertainment to the book. The story, written in the first person, was narrated by Bonnie Dennison. Interspersed between the chapters were snippets of TMZ Reports, Celebrity News, CNN Breaking News, blog postings, diary entries, etc., which were read in a ‘news media’ voice by Tony Daniels. At one point we are introduced to a lot of characters, and that will require paying a little extra attention (and maybe a rewind or two), but once they are established, it is a fun and easy listen.

An Under My Apple Tree Rapid Review
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Source: Review copy provided by Penguin Audio.
© 2014 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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October 22, 2014 / Leslie

Wordless Wednesday: Wild Aster

Wild Aster

Almost wordless: The Wild Aster provided the last burst of color on the prairie with waves of purple flowers. This was taken a few weeks ago. We have since had a light freeze and many of the blooms have dried up now.

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