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December 19, 2014 / Leslie

Tempting Fate – Book and Wine Charms Giveaway

Tempting Fate by Jane Green is now available in paperback.

To celebrate the paperback release of Tempting Fate, I have a fantastic prize package, courtesy of the publisher and Tandem Literary, to giveaway to one lucky reader with a US address.

TemptingFateThe winner will receive:

  • A copy of Tempting Fate in paperback
  • Two sets of custom wine charms.
    There are 4 charms per set – a purse, a shoe, sunglasses, and a goblet.

About the Book

Tempting Fate
by Jane Green
Genre:
Women’s Fiction | Paperback
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press | November 2014

When Gabby first met Elliott she knew he was the man for her. In twenty years of marriage she has never doubted her love for him—even when he refused to give her the one thing she still wants most of all. But now their two daughters are growing up Gabby feels that time and her youth are slipping away. For the first time in her life she is restless. And then she meets Matt…

Intoxicated by the way this young, handsome and successful man makes her feel, Gabby is momentarily blind to what she stands to lose on this dangerous path. And in one reckless moment she destroys all that she holds dear.

Consumed by regret, Gabby does everything she can to repair the home she has broken. But are some betrayals too great to forgive?

Jane Green’s new novel, Saving Grace, releases December 30th

SavingGraceAbout the Author

A former feature writer for the Daily Express in the UK, Green took a leap in 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.

Saving Grace, Jane’s sixteenth novel, is available for pre-order now. With purchase, you get a copy of her new cookbook, Happy Food, for FREE. Details and more about the book are at Jane’s website.

More Information

Twitter | Pinterest | Website | Facebook | Goodreads

To enter the giveaway:

Fill out the form below on or before midnight, December 27th. One entry per person or address, Continental US only. I will draw a random winner who will be notified by email.


 
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© 2014 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
Giveaway provided by Tandem Literary.
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December 18, 2014 / Leslie

Review: A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

ThousandPiecesA Thousand Pieces of You
by Claudia Gray

Genre: YA / Science Fiction
Publisher: Harper | November 2014
Format: Hardcover | 368 pages
Rating: 4 of 5

From the Publisher

Every Day meets Cloud Atlas in this heart-racing, space- and time-bending, epic new trilogy from New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray.

About the Story

Marguerite’s parents have invented a device – the Firebird – that allows travel throughout the multiverse. The multiverse is a possible set of hypothetical universes also known as parallel or alternate universes.

As the story opens, Marguerite’s father is murdered and the prime suspect is Paul, a physics graduate student and her father’s assistant. He steals the Firebird and jumps to another universe. With the help of friend Theo, Marguerite chases Paul through the multiverse and along the way learns much about herself, her relationship with Paul and Theo, and who really wants control of the Firebird.

My Thoughts

YA isn’t my usual scifi genre, but I’m a sucker for time-travel and alternate universe stories regardless of whether or not I’m the target audience. I picked this one up on a whim after gazing at the beautiful cover and was under the impression that it was primarily science fiction.

YA always has its share of teen angst, and that’s ok. What I wasn’t expecting in this book was a lot of romance. At first I was a little annoyed, but the writing was good and the underlying story was holding my interest. I enjoyed the world-building in the different universes, and it was enough for me to almost overlook the inclusion of a love triangle. As much as that device is overused in YA books, and it seemed unnecessary at first, it did work in the end due to a couple of plot twists.

The story is narrated by Marguerite and we view the different universes through her eyes. There aren’t a lot of technical details, and this is science fiction only because characters are able to jump to parallel universes. When they arrive in the new universe they temporarily take over the body of the person who actually belongs there but how the Firebird works isn’t explained.

This is the first book of a new trilogy, but it is a complete story with an ending and no cliffhanger. It was enjoyable, escapist reading that I liked a lot more than I expected to.

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Source: Review copy provided by the publisher through AmazonVine.
© 2014 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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December 17, 2014 / Leslie

Wordless Wednesday: Winter Prairie

Winter Prairie

Almost wordless: The sepia tones of the prairie are a small spot of color in an otherwise cloudy, rainy, dreary December.

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More Wordless Wednesday. © 2014 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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December 16, 2014 / Leslie

Review: The Innovators by Walter Isaacson

How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution

Innovators-audioThe Innovators
by Walter Isaacson
Narrated by Dennis Boutsikaris

Genre: Non-Fiction
Publisher: Simon and Schuster | October 2014
Format: Audio CD, 17½ hours | Hardcover, 528 pages
Audio Listening Level: Easy – Intermediate
Rating: 4½ of 5

From the Publisher

Following his blockbuster biography of Steve Jobs, The Innovators is Walter Isaacson’s revealing story of the people who created the computer and the Internet. It is destined to be the standard history of the digital revolution and an indispensable guide to how innovation really happens.

Thoughts

After reading, and absolutely loving, Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs, his new book about the people who were instrumental in the computer revolution was a must-read for me. Unlike the in-depth biography of Jobs, this was an expansive survey of the many individuals who played a part in the development of the tech world we know today.

Isaacson begins in the mid-1800s with one of the earliest innovators, the mathematician Ada Lovelace, poet Lord Byron’s daughter, and moves through history in a linear fashion to today’s internet. I was pleased to see Ada and other women pioneers – programmers during the Enigma code breaking period – getting their fair share of time in the book. An illustrated timeline is included in the front of the book, which is a helpful reference to have as the large number of people introduced in the book can be a little overwhelming at times, especially during the early years.

This is a very readable historical account for anyone interested in the subject, and is suitable even for those with only a moderate background in tech – and that’s most of us. If you use a computer, tablet, laptop, or smartphone, you already know the basics.

Unlike people born during the 80s who have not experienced a time without personal computers, I went to school in the 70s – a world that barely had pocket calculators much less mobile phones or PCs. I am still in awe of the tech revolution and found most of the book very relatable. The first half was an enlightening history lesson to for me, but once we arrived in the 1980s, it was a fun trip down memory lane as I revisited the ‘innovations’ I grew up with – 300 baud modems, bulletin boards, CompuServe, Gopher, dialing up AOL to access the internet, and my outrageously expensive computer with its 486DX2-66 processor and 8MB RAM. Yes, that’s MB not GB, but I digress.

While the book is not 100 percent inclusive, it’s an interesting and entertaining look at the people who had the most influence on the tech we use today. [Geek disclosure: I build my own computers and love to take things apart.]

Audio production

This was an easy book to listen to. Dennis Boutsikaris did a fine job on the narration with a pleasant voice and good pacing plus his ability to relate some of the funnier stories in an entertaining manner. In particular were a few tales about Bill Gates in his early high school and college days – I’m still laughing at those.

I find nonfiction very listenable and generally choose it over print. However, I also have the hardcover version of The Innovators for my personal library because this is a subject I will go back to again. The extras that are in the book are photos, the timeline and an index.

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Source: Review copy provided by Simon and Schuster
© 2014 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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December 15, 2014 / Leslie

New Books, Writer’s Block, and the Virus that Won’t Go Away

BooksDec15_075603

A Quiet Few Weeks

For the first time in the five years I’ve been writing this blog, I took a week off from posting. I wish I could say I was away on a vacation, but I was right here at home.

It was an unconscious decision. I have lots to write but didn’t feel like sitting down at the computer to do it. I’m blaming, in no particular order…

  • Writer’s block
  • Work
  • Holiday distractions
  • Foggy brain from the cold virus that won’t go away
  • Haven’t seen sunshine in weeks – persistent clouds are keeping temps mild, but it’s oh so gloomy
  • Most of the birds have migrated south.

Anyway, a few new books arrived last week and I have plenty of audio queued up to keep me busy. I was able to write some reviews yesterday and I may even get outside for a walk today.

Mailbox Monday

WinterBirdsMailbox-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.

 

New Arrivals

The Room by Jonas Karlsson from Random House.
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.

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven from Random House.
The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor and Park in this compelling, exhilarating, and beautiful story about a girl who learns to live from a boy who intends to die.

The Alphabet House by Jussi Adler-Olsen from Penguin.
In the tradition of Alan Furst, the #1 international bestselling author delivers his first stand-alone novel, a psychological thriller set in World War II Nazi Germany and 1970s England.

How was your week?

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© 2014 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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December 8, 2014 / Leslie

Mailbox Monday ~ December 8th

WinterBirdsMailbox-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.


 

Another quiet week on the blog. A nasty cold pretty much wiped out most of my energy for the week, so not much got done. Thankfully, it’s almost gone now. Here’s what arrived in my mailbox…

New Arrivals

Dec8Books_200046

Lillian on Life by Alison Jean Lester from Putnam.
Life and love lessons as told by sassy narrator Lillian as she looks back in this brilliantly written, bold debut. Lillian, a single, well-traveled woman of a certain age, wakes up next to her married lover and looks back at her life. It’s not at all the life she expected.

God Loves Haiti by Dimitry Elias Leger from Harper.
A story of romance, politics, and religion that traces the fates of three lovers in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and the challenges they face readjusting to life after an earthquake devastates their city.

How was your week?

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December 5, 2014 / Leslie

Review: Adultery by Paulo Coelho

A Rapid Review

AdulteryAdultery by Paulo Coelho

Publisher: Random House Audio | August 2014
Format: Audio Download | 8 hours | Rating: 3 stars
Audio Listening Level: Easy – Intermediate

A woman in her 30s begins to question the routine and predictability of her days. In everybody’s eyes, she has a perfect life: happy marriage, children, and a career. Yet what she feels is an enormous apathy. All that changes when she encounters a successful politician who had, years earlier, been her high school boyfriend…

I could not relate to Linda, the main character – not because she was unhappy, we all experience unhappy times, but because her solution was so extreme. A degrading affair? Yes, I thought it was a bit raw and unfulfilling. This was not a romance; this man was using her. And then she would have these long, soul-searching conversations with her husband. Really? Too often I felt like I was listening to man’s view of a women having a mid-life crisis.

I kept listening partly because the audio was good and I was hoping it would get better, but in the end I was left underwhelmed.

Audio production:
Susan Denaker narrates the story using quiet, even tones and steady pacing. The story is written in the first person and she did a nice job capturing the flat, depressed sounding Linda.

Audio Sample:

An Under My Apple Tree Rapid Review
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Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
© 2014 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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