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May 27, 2015 / Leslie

Wordless Wednesday: Deer Mushrooms

Mushrooms_171836

Almost wordless: It’s been raining so much that mushrooms are popping up between storms. These are probably deer mushrooms since they were growing where a dead tree had been removed. [And no, I’m not going to eat them, although they are edible.]

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More Wordless Wednesday. © 2015 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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May 26, 2015 / Leslie

Audiobook: Our Souls at Night

A Rapid Review

OurSoulsAtNightOur Souls at Night by Kent Haruf

Publisher: Random House Audio | May 2015
Format: Audio Download | 3½ hours | Rating: 4 stars
Audio Listening Level: Easy

A spare yet eloquent, bittersweet yet inspiring, story of a man and a woman who, in advanced age, come together to wrestle with the events of their lives and their hopes for the imminent future.

Addie and Louis live in the small town of Holt, Colorado. They’ve been acquaintances for years, yet never really knew each other. Her husband died years ago; Louis’ wife died too. They each live alone now; their children moved away. When Addie approaches Louis for companionship—to spend the night together as friends—Louis is at first surprised, but then happy to have someone to talk to.

Their late night conversations reveal the stories of their lives: Happy and sad times, loves and losses, hopes and dreams, and family secrets. Although they are discreet, not everyone approves of their relationship. When Addie’s six-year-old grandson, Jamie, comes to stay with her for the summer, her son strongly disapproves leaving Addie torn between family and her feelings for Louis.

This is a beautifully written story with a deeply emotional ending: bittersweet and sad. And an ending I was not expecting. To say much more would spoil this captivating short story.

Audio production:
The narration was performed by Mark Bramhall. His soft, even tone and steady pacing made it pleasant and easy to listen to. [Audio Sample on SoundCloud.]

An Under My Apple Tree Rapid Review
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Source: Review copy provided by Random House Audio.
© 2015 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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May 25, 2015 / Leslie

Mailbox Monday ~ May 26th

FlagMailbox-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.


 
Today is Memorial Day in the US, a federal holiday and day of remembrance to honor all Americans who have died while in the military service.

Here’s what arrived last week…

New Arrivals

BooksMay26_112113

The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins from Crown Books and the 24-Hour Readathon.
Neil Gaiman meets Joe Hill in this astonishingly original, terrifying, and darkly funny contemporary fantasy.

Audio Downloads

From Simon & Schuster Audio

ImmortalistInsideObriens

The Immortalist by Scott Britz
For fans of Robin Cook and Michael Crichton comes a medical thriller that melds cutting-edge science with ripped-from-the-headlines terror. What happens when a new immortality drug leads to an explosive outbreak of a deadly virus that, if not contained, could wipe out humanity once and for all?

Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova
From award-winning, New York Times bestselling author Lisa Genova comes a powerful new novel that does for Huntington’s Disease what her debut Still Alice did for Alzheimer’s.

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May 24, 2015 / Leslie

May Giveaway Winners

Thank you to everyone that stopped by to enter the giveaways for Stella Rose, The Daddy Diaries, and the Save the Date and Summer Rental book and goody bag giveaway.

 

Winner: Suko at Suko’s Notebook

StellaRose

 

Winner: Anita

Daddy Diaries

 

Winner: Natalie

SaveTheDateSummerRentalGoodieBag

 
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May 22, 2015 / Leslie

Journey Across Time with ‘The Memory Painter’

A Rapid Review

MemoryPainterThe Memory Painter by Gwendolyn Womack

Publisher: Blackstone Audio | April 2015
Format: Audio Download | 12 hours | Rating: 4½ stars
Audio Listening Level: Intermediate to Difficult

What if there was a drug that could help you remember past lives? What if the lives you remembered could lead you to your one true love? What if you learned that, for thousands of years, a deadly enemy had conspired to keep the two of you apart?

Bryan Pierce is a famous artist whose paintings are inspired by vivid dreams. These dreams are so real he feels he is re-experiencing other people’s lives. When Linz Jacobs, a neurogeneticist working on memory research, sees a painting of a terrifying, recurring nightmare she has experienced on display at Bryan’s art show, she knows she has to meet him. But their meeting triggers a new dream for Bryan—that of a researcher working on a drug to cure Alzheimer’s in the 1980s. In recurring dreams he learns that the research was abruptly shut down after an accident in the lab kills two of the team members.

In a richly woven, multi-leveled plot, relationships are revealed through Bryan’s dreams as we journey back in time thousands of years. If Bryan is remembering his past lives, and if souls stay together through time, then the knowledge he is acquiring through these dreams could put him and Linz in danger.

I enjoyed the blending of genres—history, science fiction, fantasy, and a little romance, and the way the complex plot unfolded in bits and pieces as we built towards a climactic ending. And I admit, I was fooled by one of the plot twists at the end.

Audio production:
Will Damron narrated with a steady pace and pleasant voice. The complex plot, numerous characters and relationships, plus movements back and forth in time requires extra focus from the listener. This is perfect to listen to while doing routine tasks. I listened while gardening, and was able to give my full attention to the narrative.

Audio Sample:

An Under My Apple Tree Rapid Review
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Source: Review copy provided by the publisher through Audiobook Jukebox.
© 2015 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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May 20, 2015 / Leslie

Wordless Wednesday: Green Heron

Green Heron

Almost wordless: On a bird watching outing a few weeks ago, about twenty of us were watching this heron for five or ten minutes—he or she remained still as a statue. That’s how they sneak up on their dinner.

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More Wordless Wednesday. © 2015 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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May 19, 2015 / Leslie

Review: Love Is Red by Sophie Jaff

Love Is Red (Nightsong Trilogy #1) by Sophie Jaff Love Is Red
by Sophie Jaff

Genre: Suspense/Thriller
Publisher: Harper
Publish Date: May 12, 2015
Format: Hardcover | 384 pages
Rating: 4½ of 5

From the Publisher

This electrifying, addictive, and hypnotically beautiful debut spins suspense and literary fantasy into a stunning epic—the first volume in the Night Song Trilogy—ablaze with fear, mystery, and possibility.

About the Story

A serial killer is terrorizing New York City. Young women are found murdered in their apartments with symbols carved on their bodies. There are no signs of forced entry and very few clues left at the scene. However, these murders are just a warm-up. His real target is Katherine, a young writer that lives in the city. He is no ordinary killer, but a supernatural entity who has returned after several centuries to fulfill a prophecy and will not stop killing until he has achieved his goal. Meanwhile Katherine is unaware but has been having disturbing dreams and visions.

My Thoughts

At first this appears to be a murder mystery, but it’s actually a blend of genres. In addition to being a suspenseful thriller, it also has elements of horror, fantasy, and the supernatural. The story is told using alternating viewpoints with Katherine narrating in the first person and the killer using the second person. Second person narrative can be difficult to pull off, but I thought it worked well as we got a glimpse into the disturbed mind of the killer.

This was one of those books that I knew I was going to like right from the start. It’s creative and different and defies classification. And it’s scary, dark, and a little erotic too. Reading it alone at night gave me the creeps. It’s also a book where the less detail you know going into it, the more interesting it is. The author parcels out bits and pieces of the puzzle to keep the reader guessing about the identity of the killer, although early on it will be pretty obvious to most that it is one of two people. The mystery wasn’t what kept me engaged, it was the suspense.

This is book one of a trilogy, but it works as a stand alone story, although some questions are left unanswered for still-to-come books two and three. If you’re looking for something different, give this one a try.

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Source: Review copy provided by HarperCollins.
© 2015 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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