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August 22, 2014 / Leslie

World of Trouble by Ben H. Winters

WorldOfTroubleWorld of Trouble
by Ben H. Winters

Genre: Pre-apocalyptic Detective/Mystery
Publisher: Quirk Books | July 2014
Format: Paperback | 316 pages
Rating: 4½ of 5

From the Publisher:

The third novel in The Last Policeman trilogy, World of Trouble, presents one final pre-apocalyptic mystery – and Hank Palace confronts questions way beyond whodunit: How far would you go to protect a loved one? And how would you choose to spend your last days on Earth?

My Thoughts:

After scientists announced that asteroid 2011GV1 will slam into the earth within the next six months destroying most of the planet, many people abandoned their responsibilities and went off to pursue their bucket-lists during their remaining days.

In book one, The Last Policeman, we are introduced to Detective Hank Palace, a regular guy still doing his job, fighting crime and living his life while society is breaking down around him. Even if the world may soon end, Hank takes his job seriously, and eventually solves the crime.

In book two, Countdown City, scientists have pinpointed the date of impact with the asteroid and now know most of earth will be destroyed in 74 days. Hank has been laid off from his job in the Crimes Division; no one cares about solving crimes anymore. Except for Hank. Against a backdrop of an increasingly dysfunctional world, Hank agrees to try to find a friend’s husband who has gone missing.

In the final book, World of Trouble, the earth is days away from the asteroid strike. Rather than seek safety, Hank, accompanied by his dog and a grifter/thief he met a few months back, set out to find his sister who has run off with a cult that has a plan to save the world.

The pace picks up with a sense of urgency as Hank becomes more and more desperate to find his sister, and time is running out. The journey is treacherous and approaching people along the way can be deadly. The author has given us a realistic sense of what it would be like in those final days. Food is difficult to come by and technology is non-existent.

The characters are well-developed and the reader will easily become engaged in the story while racing to end for what we expect to be the inevitable conclusion. I’m not going to tell you if the world does end, but I will say there were some unexpected turns along the way that will keep you guessing.

While the first two books can be read as stand alone novels for their mystery/detective story, the final book will be best enjoyed as the culmination of a series, where questions are answered and loose ends are tied up in a satisfying conclusion.

Source: Review copy from Quirk Books through LibraryThing.
© 2014 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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August 21, 2014 / Leslie

The Creative Shrub Garden by Andy McIndoe

The Creative Shrub GardenThe Creative Shrub Garden
by Andy McIndoe

Genre: Gardening
Publisher: Timber Press, July 2014
Format: Hardcopy | 248 pages
Rating: 4 of 5

Publisher’s Synopsis:

Home gardeners know the key elements to a well-designed garden: perennials that bloom year after year, annuals that add a burst of color, and bulbs that guarantee spring flowers. But what about shrubs—what role should these hardy plants play?

My Thoughts:

The Creative Shrub Garden contains a wealth of information for gardeners looking to enhance their existing landscape or to create a new space. The experienced gardener will be able to jump right in and browse through the sections on how to combine shrubs to create different moods or styles. Color combinations can be bold or relaxing, and styles range from country garden to contemporary or exotic. Each page is filled with gorgeous color photos. Whether the space is large or small, there is something for every garden.

New gardeners will benefit from the introductory chapters which explain the role of shrubs and how to make them fit in to the available landscape, plus how to choose the right shrub for the garden. There is an important chapter at the end on planting and caring for the new shrubs. Early in my gardening years I learned the hard way that the proper care during the first few years was critical for the survival of a new, and often expensive, shrub.

When I decided to add a few areas of wildflowers to my garden, I also assessed my overall landscape and realized that I only had a few shrubs. Shrubs add structure to a landscape. They are a good focal point and many have foliage, flowers or berries that add interest and change with the seasons; some are even a food source for wildlife.

The Creative Shrub Garden also contains a plant directory including the scientific and common names of each shrub, expected size at maturity and a brief description. Each is accompanied by a color photo. This is the section I was most interested in. I already knew what I wanted to accomplish, but I didn’t know which shrubs would be the best ones for my yard and I wanted to see what they looked like.

For anyone looking for ideas, or that wants to know more about the care and maintenance of shrubs, this is a good place to begin.

Source: Review copy through NetGalley and Timber Press.
© 2014 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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August 20, 2014 / Leslie

Wordless Wednesday: Red Admiral Butterfly

Red Admiral Butterfly

Almost wordless: Butterflies have been frequent visitors to my wildflower garden.

More Wordless Wednesday. © 2014 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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August 18, 2014 / Leslie

Mailbox Monday ~ August 18th

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.


No new books in my mailbox last week, but I did receive a couple of audio downloads in my digital mailbox.

New Arrivals

From Random House:

Colorless TsukuruAdulteryCatsPajamas

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami.
The remarkable story of Tsukuru Tazaki, a young man haunted by a great loss; of dreams and nightmares that have unintended consequences for the world around us; and of a journey into the past that is necessary to mend the present. It is a story of love, friendship, and heartbreak for the ages.

Adultery by Paulo Coelho.
A woman attempts to overcome midlife ennui by rediscovering herself in a passionate relationship with a man who had been a friend in her youth.

2 A.M. at The Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino.
A sparkling, enchanting and staggeringly original debut novel about one day in the lives of three unforgettable characters.

How was your week?

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August 16, 2014 / Leslie

Cooking from the Garden: Aromatic Rosemary

I have a large herb garden just outside my kitchen door and use just-picked herbs as often as possible. This summer’s mild temperatures and plentiful rain have produced, to my delight, a bounty of herbs.

For the next few weeks I’ll be featuring recipes from the garden. Today, I have a marinade using fresh snipped Rosemary. This is an herb that’s readily available at farmer’s markets and produce sections at many grocery stores.



Rosemary is an hearty, aromatic herb used in traditional Italian cusine. The plant is part of the evergreen family and, in a temperate climate, will grow into a large shrub several feet tall.

A favorite use for Rosemary is in a marinade for grilled chicken. This is my go-to recipe if I’m having guests. I can prepare it the night before and the next day it is ready for the grill.

Recipe: Grilled Rosemary Chicken



• 2 pounds boneless chicken breasts
• ½ cup dry white wine
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 4 minced garlic cloves
• 4 teaspoons fresh rosemary
• 1 tablespoon finely chopped lemon peel
• ½ teaspoon lemon juice
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• ¼ teaspoon ground pepper


Prepare the marinade in a food processor. Combine wine, olive oil, garlic, rosemary, lemon peel, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Process for about 15 seconds. Place chicken in a plastic zipper bag and add marinade. Seal bag and refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight.

Remove chicken from the marinade and grill 10 to 12 minutes over med-high heat. Turn once halfway through grilling and brush with remaining marinade. Transfer to serving dish.

Grilled Rosemary Chicken

Grilled Rosemary Chicken

I served the chicken with green beans and grilled yellow squash, also picked fresh from the garden.

wkendcookingThis post is linked to Weekend Cooking, hosted by Beth Fish Reads.
Participation is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs.

© 2014 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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August 14, 2014 / Leslie

Review – Audiobook: Life Drawing by Robin Black

A Rapid Review

Life DrawingLife Drawing by Robin Black

Publisher: Random House Audio | July, 2014
Format: Audio Download | 10 hours | Rating: 5 stars
Audio Listening Level: Intermediate

In Life Drawing, her gorgeously written first novel, Robin Black unfolds a fierce, honest, and moving portrait of a woman, and of a couple’s life—the betrayals and intimacies, the needs and regrets, the secrets that sustain love and the ones that threaten to destroy it.

Augusta and Owen have moved to a secluded house in the country, far from friends and family. They are trying to rebuild their relationship which had fractured after an admission of infidelity. They also feel the solitude will rekindle their creative abilities: Gus is an artist and Owen a writer. But it doesn’t work out as planned, and tragically, Owen is dead.

The story is told in the first person as Gus reflects back on her relationship with Owen and the events of the past few years leading up to Owen’s death. The characters, while not always likable, are complex, well-defined and often relatable. It’s an emotional journey, and as I became drawn into their lives I wanted them to fix their relationship, at times forgetting that, from the opening paragraph, we already know the ending.

Audio production:
The narration was performed by Cassandra Campbell, with a captivating range of emotion and voice. I enjoy her work so much that I was drawn to this book simply because she was reading it. And in the process I discovered a new author and a beautifully written novel.

Audio Sample:

An Under My Apple Tree Rapid Review
Source: Review copy provided by Random House Audio.
© 2014 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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August 13, 2014 / Leslie

Wordless Wednesday: Hummingbird Clearwing

Hummingbird Clearwing

Almost wordless: This is actually a moth that mimics a hummingbird. They are almost always in motion, making it difficult to see the detail on their wings; but this one had stopped for a rest.

More Wordless Wednesday. © 2014 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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