Skip to content
July 3, 2015 / Leslie

The Girl on the Train – A Psychological Thriller

A Rapid Review

GirlOnTheTrainThe Girl on the Train Paula Hawkins

Publisher: Penguin Audio | January 2015
Format: Audio Download | 11 hours | Rating: 4 stars
Audio Listening Level: Intermediate

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking . . .

The story is told primarily from the point of view of Rachel, but we also get alternating points of view from Anna and Megan, the two women whose lives intersect with Rachel’s. All three are unreliable narrators and often unlikable—not the kind of group I’d pick for friends, but interesting to watch from the distance.

Rachel is the most troubled and flawed with a broken marriage and alcoholism resulting in frequent blackouts and boughts of bad behavior. And while some of what she thinks may really be happening, we are never sure when her point of view is fantasy or reality. Pieces of the puzzle slowly come together while at the same time the plot zips along with each new piece of information.

I’m a big fan of psychological thrillers and found this to be a worthy addition to the genre. While at times predictable, there were enough plot spins to make this a compelling read.

Audio production
The narration was performed by Clare Corbett, Louise Brealey, and India Fisher, each providing a distinct voice and personality to one of the three women making it easy for the listener to stay focused.

Audio Sample
[Audio Sample on SoundCloud.]

An Under My Apple Tree Rapid Review
——————————–
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
© 2015 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
Advertisements appearing on this site are placed by WordPress and are not endorsed or approved by me.

July 2, 2015 / Leslie

More June Giveaway Winners

congratwinner-red-smlThank you to everyone that stopped by to enter the giveaways last few weeks.

Winners have been selected and have been notified by email.
 
 

The Bones of You

by Debbie Howells

BonesOfYou

Winner: Kay @ Kay’s Reading Life

——————————–

Summer Secrets Beach Bag Giveaway

by Jane Green

SummerSecretsBeachBag

Winner: Pat @ Posting For Now

 
——————————–
© 2015 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
Advertisements appearing on this site are placed by WordPress and are not endorsed or approved by me.

July 1, 2015 / Leslie

Wordless Wednesday: Juvenile Cardinal

JuvenileCardinal_IMG_4565

Almost wordless: Yesterday morning I looked out the window and saw a juvenile cardinal hopping across the driveway. Before I could get a good look at him, he hopped into the shrubs, his daddy following close behind. Last year their spring nests were parasitized by brown-headed cowbirds, a species that reproduces by laying eggs in other birds’ nests, so I was thrilled to see this little guy so early in the breeding season.

JuvenileCardinal-2_IMG_4570

——————————–
More Wordless Wednesday. © 2015 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
Advertisements appearing on this site are placed by WordPress and are not endorsed or approved by me.

June 30, 2015 / Leslie

Best Books I’ve Read So Far This Year

The Year is Half Over!

How did that happen so fast? Life has a way of happening when you’re not paying attention. It seems like just yesterday we were complaining about the horrible cold and snowy winter and just like that summer is here, warm and rainy.

Since we are at the half-way point, I thought I’d take a look at what I’ve read so far this year. Of the 40 books I’ve read since January, a few stand out as favorites. Interestingly none of them were the must-read, hyped books I’d been looking forward to, but rather in a few cases, pleasant surprises.

Favorites So Far This Year

MemoryPainterAquariumHowWeGotToNow

 
The Memory Painter by Gwendolyn Womack
What if there was a drug that could help you remember past lives? A compelling blend of genres—history, science fiction, fantasy, and a little romance.

Aquarium by David Vann
Contemporary Fiction (Review coming soon)

How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World by Steven Johnson
Non-Fiction – Learn about how all the things we take for granted became part of our daily lives in fun, non-technical writing.

 

fishbowlLove Is Red (Nightsong Trilogy #1) by Sophie JaffBirdsOfPandemonium

 
Fishbowl by Bradley Somer
A unique, quirky tale with well-developed, likable characters and a surprise hit for me. I picked this one up for the cover and the fish!

Love Is Red by Sophie Jaff
Suspense/Thriller – A blend of genres including horror, fantasy, and the supernatural, uniquely told in alternating viewpoints.

The Birds of Pandemonium by Michele Raffin
Memoir – An uplifting story of one woman’s unending devotion to her birds. Even those who know nothing about birds will find themselves captivated by these beautiful creatures.

Pleasant Surprises

Interestingly, none of these were the must-read, hyped books I’d been looking forward to, but instead were pleasant surprises.

How about you—any pleasant surprises to recommend?

——————————–
© 2015 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
Advertisements appearing on this site are placed by WordPress and are not endorsed or approved by me.

June 29, 2015 / Leslie

Mailbox Monday ~ June 29th

GerberaDaisyMailboxWelcome 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.


 
Good thing there are lots of daylight hours this time of year because I have been crazy busy this past week with outdoor projects and events.

This past weekend I participated in a BioBlitz hosted by the forest preserve district. A BioBlitz is a 24-hour event in which teams of scientists, naturalists and volunteers work together to find and identify all the living species—plant and animal—within a designated area. I was a volunteer citizen scientist on the bird counting team. The final results aren’t in yet, but I already know the event was a success.

Unfortunately there was not a lot of time for reading or writing last week, but I did get to listen to some audiobooks. A few new books arrived in the mail . . .

New Arrivals

BooksJun29_164523

Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey from Goodreads.
A beautifully written and evocative novel—the story of an impossible, unstoppable love affair set in London during World War II and the present day.

Reading the Comments: Likers, Haters, and Manipulators at the Bottom of the Web by Joseph M. Reagle from Amazon Vine.
Online comment can be informative or misleading, entertaining or maddening. Haters and manipulators often seem to monopolize the conversation. Some comments are off-topic, or even topic-less. In this book, Joseph Reagle urges us to read the comments. Conversations “on the bottom half of the Internet,” he argues, can tell us much about human nature and social behavior.

——————————–

CakeTherapist-BakeHappyA two book giveaway . . .

Award-winning cookbook author Judith Fertig has just released her first novel, The Cake Therapist, combining her expertise in baking with a passion for storytelling.

Win a copy of The Cake Therapist and a brand new cookbook, Bake Happy, by Judith Fertig

——————————–
© 2015 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
Advertisements appearing on this site are placed by WordPress and are not endorsed or approved by me.

June 28, 2015 / Leslie

Audiobook: A Small Indiscretion by Jan Ellison

A Rapid Review

Indiscretion-audioA Small Indiscretion by Jan Ellison

Publisher: Random House Audio | January 2015
Format: Audio Download | 10 hours | Rating: 4 stars
Audio Listening Level: Intermediate

A Small Indiscretion is a riveting debut novel about a woman’s search for understanding and forgiveness, a taut exploration of a modern marriage, and of love—the kind that destroys, and the kind that redeems.

Even in the days before Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, the past has a way of resurfacing when you least expect it.

Annie is a happily married mom of three, until the day a photograph taken years ago arrives anonymously in the mail. Twenty years ago Annie lived a carefree life as an office assistant to a real-estate developer in London. The photo was of Annie, her boss, his wife, and the wife’s lover (who Annie had a passion for). She didn’t even remember this photo being taken, and it was from a part of her past she had thought was long forgotten.

The story moves back and forth in time between London twenty years ago and San Francisco in the present. As the story opens, Annie has just learned that her son was in a car accident. Although he is in a coma, Annie sits at his bedside and begins to tell him about the year he was conceived—the year she lived in London—and of the several romantic affairs she had, and how she met his father that same year.

Eventually pieces of the puzzle come together and Annie’s story is revealed. The beautiful, descriptive prose and richly detailed surroundings made this compelling story a joy to listen to.

Audio production:
The narration was performed by Kathe Mazur. Shifts in time were deftly handled and I did not have a problem following the progression of the story.

[Audio Sample on SoundCloud.]

An Under My Apple Tree Rapid Review
——————————–
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
© 2015 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
Advertisements appearing on this site are placed by WordPress and are not endorsed or approved by me.

June 26, 2015 / Leslie

Friday Feature and a Two Book Giveaway

The Cake Therapist by Judith Fertig

Award-winning cookbook author Judith Fertig has just released her first novel, The Cake Therapist, combining her expertise in baking with a passion for storytelling.

Today I have a delicious treat — an opportunity for one of my readers to win a copy of The Cake Therapist AND Judith’s brand new cookbook, Bake Happy.

About the Book

CakeTherapistThe Cake Therapist

by Judith Fertig
Publisher: Berkley Trade Paperback | 304 pages
Publication Date: June 2015

A fiction debut that will leave you wanting seconds, from an award-winning cookbook author.

Claire “Neely” O’Neil is a pastry chef of extraordinary talent. Every great chef can taste shimmering, elusive flavors that most of us miss, but Neely can “taste” feelings-cinnamon makes you remember; plum is pleased with itself; orange is a wake-up call. When flavor and feeling give Neely a glimpse of someone’s inner self, she can customize her creations to help that person celebrate love, overcome fear, even mourn a devastating loss.

Maybe that’s why she feels the need to go home to Millcreek Valley at a time when her life seems about to fall apart. The bakery she opens in her hometown is perfect, intimate, just what she’s always dreamed of-and yet, as she meets her new customers, Neely has a sense of secrets, some dark, some perhaps with tempting possibilities. A recurring flavor of alarming intensity signals to her perfect palate a long-ago story that must be told.

Neely has always been able to help everyone else. Getting to the end of this story may be just what she needs to help herself.

About the Author

Cookbook author Judith Fertig grew up in the Midwest, went to La Varenne Ecole de Cuisine in Paris and The Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and now lives in Kansas City. Described by Saveur Magazine as a “heartland cookbook icon,” Fertig writes cookbooks that reflect her love of bread, baking, barbecue, and the fabulous foods of the Heartland.

Fertig’s food and lifestyle writing has appeared in more than a dozen publications, including Bon Appetit, Saveur and The New York Times. You can read some of her cookbooks like novels–the fabulously photographed Heartland, the award-winning and James Beard Awards-nominated Prairie Home Cooking (a “tour de force,” says Saveur), the encylopedic All-American Desserts, and Prairie Home Breads. Her IACP Cookbook Award-winning The Back in the Swing Cookbook (with Barbara C. Unell) takes you on a delicious daily journey to get you back in the swing after breast cancer.

And one of her books IS a novel, her debut The Cake Therapist (June 2015), the story of a talented pastry chef with a very special gift who opens a bakery in her hometown, with mesmerizing results.

Visit Judith at her blog, Alfresco.

Two Book Giveaway

Win a copy of The Cake Therapist AND Judith’s brand new cookbook, Bake Happy.

CakeTherapist-BakeHappy

To enter, fill out the form below on or before midnight, Saturday, July 4th. Continental US addresses only. For an extra entry, tweet or blog about the giveaway. The winner will be contacted by email and have 48 hours to respond.


 
——————————–
© 2015 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
Source: Giveaway provided by Tandem Literary
Advertisements appearing on this site are placed by WordPress and are not endorsed or approved by me.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,600 other followers