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November 18, 2014 / Leslie

Audiobook: The Children Act by Ian McEwan

A Rapid Review

ChildrenActThe Children Act by Ian McEwan

Publisher: Recorded Books | September 2014
Format: Audio CD | 6¼ hours | Rating: 3 stars
Audio Listening Level: Intermediate

In The Children Act, High Court judge Fiona Maye is buffeted by traumas both work related (religious beliefs stand between a boy and a life-saving blood transfusion) and domestic (Fiona’s husband leaves her after asking for an open marriage).

This character driven novel centers around two events – High Court judge Fiona’s crumbling marriage and a court decision she must make on the fate of a minor child who needs a life-saving blood transfusion against the wishes of his family. While this sounded like a story I would be interested in, ultimately I found it difficult to relate to, or care about, most of the characters. Try as I might, I could not get involved in this story.

While thoughtful and well-written, I found the story too slow and introspective, and I kept losing focus. Fiona spent much time agonizing over decisions made and not made in both her personal and professional life. This was a short novel so I pushed through it hoping the pace would pick up or I would become more engaged, but that didn’t happen until almost the end. The quality of the writing and the fact that in the final minutes the story redeemed itself, made the book worth finishing; but overall it was not a good fit or a satisfying listen for me.

There are many reviews praising this novel, and I’m sure others will enjoy it much more than I did.

Audio production:
The narrative was expertly read by Lindsay Duncan with the story unfolding in a linear time frame. This should have made it easy for me to follow, but instead I often found myself distracted and needed to go back a few minutes and listen again. This was partly due to the slow, at times cerebral, pacing of the story and partly to my own lack of interest in the characters. Listeners who engage in the story, however, should enjoy the audio.

An Under My Apple Tree Rapid Review
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Source: Review copy provided by the publisher through LibraryThing.
© 2014 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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November 17, 2014 / Leslie

Mailbox Monday ~ November 17th

HarvestMailbox-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 a milestone of sorts. Under My Apple Tree began in 2006 with occasional posts and no specific focus – and very few readers. In November 2009 I gave it a purpose – Mostly books and a bit of nature, birds, flowers, food and photography. It was five years ago today that I deleted all the old stuff and started anew.

There have been many changes over the past five years as the blog has developed and grown. But none of this would have been possible without the wonderful community of people who read and comment here everyday. Thanks to everyone who stops by – you are all appreciated.

And now on to the new books…

New Arrivals

Nov17Books_183759

When Books Went to War by Molly Guptill Manning from AmazonVine.
In 1943, the War Department and the publishing industry stepped in with an extraordinary program: 120 million small, lightweight paperbacks, for troops to carry in their pockets and their rucksacks, in every theater of war.

American Spirit by James Rodewald from AmazonVine.
Craft distilling has exploded in the United States in recent years, and this in-depth look at the intrepid characters at the forefront of the liquid revolution will have you rethinking what’s in your liquor cabinet—and possibly your career choice.

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray from AmazonVine.
A Thousand Pieces of You explores a reality where we witness the countless other lives we might lead in an amazingly intricate multiverse, and ask whether, amid infinite possibilities, one love can endure.

The Marauders by Tom Cooper from Crown.
When the BP oil spill devastates the Gulf coast, those who made a living by shrimping find themselves in dire straits. For the oddballs and lowlifes who inhabit the sleepy, working class bayou town of Jeannette, these desperate circumstances serve as the catalyst that pushes them to enact whatever risky schemes they can dream up to reverse their fortunes.
 

New Giveaway

GenesisCodeGenesis Code by Jamie Metzl:

A futuristic thriller that explores the national security implications of the human genetics revolution set in the context of a future US-China rivalry.

Click the image for details.

To enter, fill out the form. US addresses only by midnight 11/22.
 

How was your week?

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© 2014 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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November 15, 2014 / Leslie

Audiobook: Big Driver by Stephen King

A Rapid Review

BigDriverBig Driver by Stephen King

Publisher: Simon & Schuster | October 2014
Format: Audio Download | 4½ hours | Rating: 5 stars
Audio Listening Level: Easy

Mystery writer Tess has been supplementing her writing income for years by doing speaking engagements with no problems. But following a last-minute invitation to a book club 60 miles away, she takes a shortcut home with dire consequences.

When Tess’s car gets a flat tire, she accepts help from a man who instead attacks and rapes her, leaving her for dead. Yes, we see this coming, but she’s stuck on a lonely road and in an area with no cell phone service, leaving her few choices.

Big Driver is a classic justice and revenge story with just the right amount of scary to give me the creeps and keep me looking over my shoulder. Being female, this was a horror story for me, but a delightfully satisfying one as Tess saves herself and exacts revenge on her attacker. Who hasn’t taken that leap of faith and then was very thankful when things turned out OK? But in Tess’s case, it didn’t.

If the plot sounds vaguely familiar to some, that’s because this novella was originally published as part of the 2010 anthology, Full Dark, No Stars, and re-released as a tie-in to the recently aired Lifetime movie.

Audio production:
The story was written in the first person and narrated by Jessica Hecht. She uses a wide range of emotion for Tess – at first gentle and timid and eventually the determined and forceful personality Tess becomes. She picked up the pacing as the tension of the story increased, making this an enjoyable, if not somewhat creepy, four and a half hours.

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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November 12, 2014 / Leslie

Wordless Wednesday: Farewell Autumn

Norway Maple

Almost wordless: My maple tree several weeks ago in the evening light before the Halloween Day storm blew all the leaves away. Now winter has made an early arrival.

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More Wordless Wednesday. © 2014 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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November 11, 2014 / Leslie

Genesis Code by Jamie Metzl

Today I have a special feature plus the opportunity to win a copy of the newly published Genesis Code, a futuristic thriller that explores the national security implications of the human genetics revolution set in the context of a future US-China rivalry.

First Chapter – First Paragraph Intro

From the moment we’re born we begin learning, creating ourselves in a process that lasts a lifetime, a process that is our life. It’s an uplifting thought. But, depressingly, from the same moment the clock starts ticking down on our finite lives. We’ve already begun to die.

And when you’re dead, you’re just dead.

I’ve always hoped that were it my corpse lying on the floor people would hover around drawing lessons from my life, pondering the infinite.

But in this finite world bodies start to stink after a while and MaryLee Stock sadly is not going to be an exception.

About the Book and the Author

GenesisCodeThe Book

Genre: Thriller
Publish Date: November 2014
Format: Hardcover | 336 pages

The time: The not so distant future. The US government has learned that China has a secret genetic enhancement program where they are breeding super babies and placing them in the equivalent of their Olympic sports schools-but for science, math, engineering, business, and government. The Americans believe if they don’t match the Chinese, the US won’t be able to compete a few decades on.

The catch: The US has restrictions on this very process. So they devise a clandestine workaround by creating a front company that purchases a small chain of American fertility clinics and begins impregnating young women coming for fertility treatment with genetically enhanced embryos–without ever telling these women.

The Author

Originally from Kansas City, MO, Jamie Metzl is a Partner in a global investment firm and a Senior Fellow of the Asia Society. He previously served as Executive Vice President of the Asia Society, Deputy Staff Director of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senior Coordinator for International Public Information at the U.S. State Department, Director for Multilateral Affairs on the National Security Council, and with the United Nations in Cambodia. He appears regularly on national and international media discussing Asian economic and political issues and his syndicated columns and other writing on Asian affairs, genetics, virtual reality, and other topics is featured in publications around the world. Jamie MetzlHe is the author of a history of the Cambodian genocide and the novel The Depths of the Sea (both published by St. Martin’s Press).

Jamie is a founder and Co-Chairman of Partnership for a Secure America, a board member of the International Center for Transitional Justice and the Jewish refugee agency HIAS, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and a former White House Fellow and Aspen Institute Crown Fellow. An avid ultramarathoner and Ironman triathlete, he holds a Ph.D. in Asian history from Oxford, a JD from Harvard Law School, and is a magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Brown University. He lives in New York City.

Recent Op-Eds by Jamie Metzl
In Foreign Affairs: The Genetics Epidemic
In US News: Building a Better Baby

Connect with Jamie: Twitter | LinkedIn | Goodreads | Webpage

Giveaway – Win a copy of the Book

Courtesy of the publicist, I have one copy of Genesis Code to give away to a reader with a continental US mailing address. To enter, fill out the form below on or before midnight, Saturday, November 22nd. For an extra entry, tweet or blog about the giveaway. The winner will be contacted by email and have 48 hours to respond.

 
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© 2014 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
Source: Giveaway sponsored by Tandem Literary.
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November 10, 2014 / Leslie

Mailbox Monday ~ November 10th

AutumnLeavesMailbox-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.


 
With only a few straggling blooms here and there, there are no flowers for my photo this week. Almost everything has been packed up and put away for the winter. I am so not ready for the cold, though.

Here are last week’s new books…

New Arrivals

BooksNov10_161715

Prince Lestat by Anne Rice from Random House Audio.
A stunning departure, a surprising and compelling return…From Anne Rice, perennial best seller, single-handed reinventor of the vampire cosmology-a new, exhilarating novel, a deepening of her vampire mythology, and a chillingly hypnotic mystery-thriller.

The Happiest People in the World by Brock Clarke from Algonquin.
Take the format of a spy thriller, shape it around real-life incidents involving international terrorism, leaven it with dark, dry humor, toss in a love rectangle, give everybody a gun, and let everything play out in the outer reaches of upstate New York—there you have an idea of Brock Clarke’s new novel.

I Take You by Eliza Kennedy from Crown Books.
Brilliantly executed and endlessly funny, this page-turning debut showcases one of the most winning, irrepressible voices since Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones.

Genesis Code by Jamie Metzl from Tandem Literary.
Set in a future that may yet come to pass, “Genesis Code” is a thriller of the next generation, when genetic engineering, personal ambition, religious fundamentalism, and the potential explosiveness of big power politics meet.

How was your week?

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© 2014 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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November 9, 2014 / Leslie

Books for Young Readers

The Hug Machine by Scott Campbell

HugMachinePublisher: Atheneum Books | August 2014
Age: Preschool – 2nd Grade | 40 pages

This endearing story encourages a warm, caring, and buoyantly affectionate approach to life. Everyone deserves a hug—and this book!

The Hug Machine is an adorable book about a little boy who loves to give hugs. He is so good at hugging that he calls himself ‘The Hug Machine’. Nothing is too big or too small – or even too prickly – to receive a hug. And how does the Hug Machine get all that energy to keep hugging? Pizza, of course!

With only a small amount of text and many fun illustrations, this cute picture book is aimed at pre-school through second grade children.

I realize the little boy is hugging everyone and everything in town and indiscriminate hugging is not a good thing to teach a young child. However, I liked this book enough to assume that he knew all the people he was hugging and his parents were OK with it, so it was all good – and besides, this a book to be read with the very young, and an ensuing discussion about who to hug would be most appropriate.

Rating: 4½ stars
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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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