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October 11, 2014 / Leslie

Weekend Birding: Orange-crowned Warbler

Orange-crowned Warblers have a wide range throughout North America. They spend their summers in Canada and the Western US, and they winter in Mexico and Central America. They pass through much of the remainder of the US during migration, but most people will never notice them with their olive-gray color and lack of bold markings. The orange crown patch for which they are named is rarely seen.

Orange-crowned Warbler

The Orange-crowned is one of the few warblers that is more common in the Western states than in the East. They rarely visit backyards and prefer low, dense habitats. I spotted this bird at the park in the restored prairie foraging with a flock of Goldfinches.

Warblers are incredibly difficult to photograph. They are quick moving and constantly jump from plant to plant. I was lucky this one was low enough to the ground to be in camera range, and hungry enough to tolerate my presence while he continued to forage for food.

 


Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Melinda of West Metro Mommy. Visit her blog to see more great photos.

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

Wordless Wednesday: Woolly Predicts Average Winter

Woolly Bear Caterpillar

Almost wordless: According to folklore, the Woolly Bear Caterpillar I saw this morning is predicting an average winter with a cold start and a mild finish. The wider the brown stripe, the milder the winter; the black indicates cold.

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More Wordless Wednesday. © 2014 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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October 7, 2014 / Leslie

Review: Pen & Ink: Tattoos and the Stories Behind Them

pen-inkPen & Ink
by Isaac Fitzgerald, Wendy MacNaughton

Genre: Art
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publish Date: October 7, 2014
Format: Hardcover | 144 pages
Rating: 4 of 5

From the Publisher:

Why did you get that tattoo? Every tattoo tells a story, whether the ink is meaningful or the result of a misguided decision made at the age of fourteen, representative of the wearer’s true self or the accidental consequence of a bender. These most permanent and intimate of body adornments are hidden by pants legs and shirttails, emblazoned on knuckles, or tucked inside mouths. They are battle scars and beauty marks, totems and mementos.

My Thoughts:

While not a fan of tattoos, I am amazed – in both good and bad ways – at some of the artwork I see and have often wondered what motivated the person to make the choice they did. After all, this isn’t a decision that can easily be changed. In Pen & Ink, the authors asked the question ‘why’ to a range of mostly ordinary people (there were a few rock stars and porn stars in the mix), and received a fascinating array of answers.

While the stories are often serious, the book is presented in a whimsical fashion with the tattoos drawn in 4-color illustrations rather than photographs, and the essays are printed using a handwriting-style font. At first glance it resembles a graphic novel.

The stories range from only a few words, to long, full-page explanations. Some were done on a whim, others for love and still others as a tribute to a loved one or even a beloved pet. All were emotional and revealing – and a few were scary as people described giving themselves the tattoo!

An interesting look at pop culture and a revealing book for anyone who has ever wondered ‘why?’.

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Source: Review copy provided by Bloomsbury.
© 2014 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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October 6, 2014 / Leslie

Mailbox Monday ~ October 6th

FloralFallMailbox-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.


 

Last week I received a few new books and some audio downloads. I’m excited about the new cookbook, especially since it has the word ‘easy’ in the title and gorgeous photos of each finished dish. I was getting hungry flipping through the pages.

New Arrivals

Oct06Books_80744

Woman with a Gun by Phillip Margolin from Harper and TLC Book Tours.
Master of mystery Phillip Margolin transcends his traditional territory in this new and different book, a haunting thriller inspired by an unforgettable photograph.

Web of Betrayal by Clare F. Price from the author and Tandem Literary.
The year is 1994, the dawn of the Internet Age, when companies from Silicon Valley to London are fighting to claim the billions to be made on the new information highway.
[Click HERE for more info and a chance to win a copy of the book.]

Easy Gourmet by Stephanie Le from Page Street Publishing through AmazonVine.
Make the most delicious and gourmet dishes you’ve ever had with little to no effort, regardless of your experience in the kitchen.

Audiobook Downloads

StationElevenSparkWomanWhoWouldBeKing

From Random House Audio

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.

Spark by John Twelve Hawks
Edgy, hard-core, and wildly imaginative, this new thriller from New York Times bestselling author John Twelve Hawks features an assassin-narrator unlike anyone we’ve seen before, set in a present-day dystopia.

The Woman Who Would Be King by Kara Cooney
An engrossing biography of the longest-reigning female pharaoh in Ancient Egypt and the story of her audacious rise to power in a man’s world.

How was your week?

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October 4, 2014 / Leslie

Weekend Birding: A Flock of Robins

The American Robin is such a common backyard bird that it is often overlooked or taken for granted. Earlier this week a flock of about 40 or 50 robins choose my yard as a rest stop and stayed for three days. I rarely run for the camera when a robin stops by because I see them all time, but this large flock got my attention and were kind enough to pose for a few photos.

Why do robins form a flock?

American Robin

Robins are migratory birds, but their behavior does not fit a set pattern like some of the other song birds that always head to the same roosting grounds for the winter.

In September robins leave their backyard nesting territory and begin to form winter flocks. The size can range from a few birds to thousands of birds. Why do they do this? There is safety in numbers. It’s easier to spot predators and to find food with more eyes. Occasionally other fruit-eating species such as waxwings or blackbirds will travel with the flock.

Where do robins go in the winter?

American Robin

Robins can tolerate the cold and some flocks will stay in the northern states if food remains available. Robin migration is complex and doesn’t follow a typical north-south pattern. Some flocks will wander farther than others, usually in search of food. I often see them during the winter, especially in parks and nature preserves that have native, berry-producing plants.

Why did the flock choose my yard?

American Robin at birdbath

Robins don’t eat seeds or come to bird feeders. In the winter they switch their diet from insects and worms to fruit and berries. The main attractions in my yard are the bird baths – robins love water – and the berries on the Eastern Cedar trees. I have other berry-producing shrubs and trees, but the cedar tree is like a neon sign for the birds.

I don’t use pesticides and landscape with a lot of woodchips and mulch, which translates to lots of insects in the soil. Other ways to help birds during migration and through the cold months are to not prune back flowers and vines, and leave a few small areas ‘messy’ with leaves and clutter. This provides food and shelter.

A youngster takes a bath

Juvenile American Robin

I have four bird baths and one small pond in my backyard plus a birdbath out front. One of them is heated, and that stays out year-round. The birdbaths were very popular and there were often birds waiting in line to jump in (seriously, there was).

Juvenile American Robin

To accommodate the crowds I put out several temporary baths using the bottom saucers from my potted plants. This is an easy and inexpensive way to provide water for the wildlife without the expense and bother of a birdbath.

Even the squirrels are grateful for the water

Fox Squirrel

I usually keep a saucer on the ground all summer for the non-flying wildlife. If I don’t, they will just jump up there anyway.

 


Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Melinda of West Metro Mommy. Visit her blog to see more great photos.

© 2014 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
Advertisements appearing on this site are placed by WordPress and are not endorsed or approved by me.

October 2, 2014 / Leslie

Review – Audiobook: The Perfect Stranger by Wendy Corsi Staub

A Rapid Review

Perfect StrangerThe Perfect Stranger by Wendy Corsi Staub

Publisher: HarperAudio | July 2014
Format: Audio Download | 11½ hours | Rating: 3 stars
Audio Listening Level: Intermediate

During the darkest period of her life, Landry Wells found solace in a group of bloggers who had been in her shoes and lived to tell the tale. She’s shared things with her online friends that even her husband and children didn’t know. Things that now, looking back, make her uneasy. One of the bloggers is dead, victim of a random crime—or was it?

When Meredith, a popular breast cancer blogger, is murdered in her own home, the other bloggers in her circle of friends become worried that someone may have been stalking her through her writing. A major concern of the bloggers is how much information revealed is too much. They are planning to meet in person for the first time to attend Meredith’s funeral, but thoughts of a stalker following their moves heightens their fears, and at times borders on paranoid.

With multiple characters and perspectives, and a lot of personal detail, the murder mystery became secondary to the dangers of an online stalker. While I enjoyed the book, I didn’t feel the tension or suspense a murder mystery should evoke until almost the very end. It felt more like a warning about the dangers lurking on the internet and social media.

Audio production:
The book was narrated by Allyson Ryan who nicely captured the feelings of emotion and fear in each of the women while at the same time providing distinct voices for each of them. Because of the multiple perspectives and changing scenes, the audio requires a little extra focus and attention to detail.

Audio Sample:

An Under My Apple Tree Rapid Review
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Source: Review copy provided by HarperAudio.
© 2014 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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October 1, 2014 / Leslie

Review – Audiobook: A Good Marriage by Stephen King

A Rapid Review

GoodMarriageA Good Marriage by Stephen King

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio | September 2014
Format: Audio CD | 3½ hours | Rating: 4 stars
Audio Listening Level: Easy

Bob Anderson, Darcy’s husband of more than twenty years, is away on one of his business trips, when his unsuspecting wife looks for batteries in the garage. Her toe knocks up against a box under a worktable and she discovers she doesn’t know her husband at all, but rather has been living with a stranger. This horrifying discovery, rendered with bristling intensity, could be the end of what Darcy thought was a good marriage…

Darcy’s husband has a secret and she can’t just forget about what she found and pretend things are the same as they used to be. Darcy begins to search for information to convince herself that what she suspects is not true. But what she discovers is even worse.

From the synopsis and the picture on the cover, I was expecting a classic horror story. And while it did have elements of horror, it is more suspense than horror. The tension builds as Darcy finds out more and more about the extent of her husband’s secret. And as the suspense builds, so does the fear.

If the plot sounds familiar to some Stephen King fans, it’s because this story was originally published in 2010 as one of the short stories in Full Dark, No Stars. It was re-released as a stand-alone audiobook to coincide with the upcoming motion picture production.

Audio production:
The book was read by Jessica Hecht. She did a great job portraying the at first clueless Darcy, who gradually gains confidence and strength, and her overconfident husband. The story is easy to follow and at only three and a half hours long, a good choice for listeners new to the audio format.

An Under My Apple Tree Rapid Review
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Source: Review copy provided by Simon & Schuster Audio.
© 2014 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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