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January 15, 2015 / Leslie

Station Eleven – Survival is insufficient…

A Rapid Review

StationElevenStation Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Publisher: Random House Audio | September 2014
Format: Audio Download | 10½ hours | Rating: 4½ stars
Audio Listening Level: Intermediate

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.

This post-apocalyptic novel begins typically enough with a devastating worldwide crisis that kills much of the population – in this case a new flu virus: The Georgia Flu. Kirsten is one of the survivors and much of the story is told through her eyes. Chapters alternate between the time of the flu outbreak, when Kirsten was only a child, and fifteen years in the future where she is now a part of a small group of traveling musicians.

And while this is a survival story, the way it unfolds is a refreshing change. There are no zombies, vampires, or excessive violence. It’s a more thoughtful, serene look at how fragile civilization is and how easily it could end. At the same time there is a hopeful beauty to a world where there is no light pollution, the night sky is brilliantly illuminated with stars, and where nature is beginning to reclaim the land. And people treasure print books.

Audio production:
Kirsten Potter narrates using a variety of tones to create a different voice for the many characters. A little extra attention to detail is needed by the listener to follow the shifts in time between life before and after the pandemic.

Audio Sample:

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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January 14, 2015 / Leslie

Wordless Wednesday: Black-eyed Susan in Winter

Black Eyed Susan

Almost wordless: Another flower in the winter garden that has a lot of texture.

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More Wordless Wednesday. © 2015 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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January 13, 2015 / Leslie

Review: Saving Grace by Jane Green

SavingGraceSaving Grace
by Jane Green

Genre: Women’s Fiction
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publish Date: December 30, 2014
Format: Hardcover | 352 pages
Rating: 4 of 5

From the Publisher

Grace and Ted Chapman are widely regarded as the perfect literary power couple. Ted is a successful novelist and Grace, his wife of twenty years, is beautiful, stylish, carefree, and a wonderful homemaker. But what no one sees, what is churning under the surface, is Ted’s rages. His mood swings. And the precarious house of cards that their lifestyle is built upon.

About the Story

On the surface, Grace and Ted appear to have it all: The family, the money, a beautiful house in an upscale suburb. But when their longtime personal assistant leaves to take care of her mother, Grace becomes overwhelmed with running the household and filling in as Ted’s assistant. It seems like Ted is always in a bad mood and he blames everything on Grace, rather than his own declining career.

When they meet Beth, a young woman who is looking for a job as a home organizer and assistant, Grace jumps at the opportunity to hire her. Her performance is nothing less than spectacular, but Beth is too good to be true – in more ways than one. Soon Grace’s perfect world begins to fall apart when a charity event she planned turns into a disaster making her the talk of the town – and not in a good way. She fears she is going crazy as she begins to experience fuzzy memories and mood swings and begins to withdraw from everyone.

My Thoughts

While this is a fast, easy read, the author doesn’t hesitate to take on a few heavy subjects: Mental illness, the dangers of prescription drugs, and marital problems. Grace’s fears of inheriting her mother’s bipolar disorder leads her to consult a psychiatrist who over-prescribes potent medications causing Jane to emotionally lose control. The suspense builds as Grace tries to save herself and her sanity.

While I would occasionally get annoyed with Grace and felt she was being more than a bit naive, it didn’t detract from a convincing story with mostly realistic, though sometimes flawed, characters.

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Source: Review copy provided by Tandem Literary.
© 2015 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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January 12, 2015 / Leslie

Mailbox Monday ~ January 12th

WinterBirdsMailbox-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.


 

A few new audio downloads this week:

New Arrivals

UnbecomingSmallMammals

From Penguin Audio:

Unbecoming by Rebecca Scherm.
A major debut novel of psychological suspense about a daring art heist, a cat-and-mouse waiting game, and a small-town girl’s mesmerizing transformation.

Hall of Small Mammals: Stories by Thomas Pierce
A wild, inventive ride of a short story collection from a distinctive new American storyteller.
 

SmallIndescretionAmericasBitterPill

From Random House Audio:

A Small Indiscretion by Jan Ellison
A gripping and ultimately redemptive novel of love and its dangers, marriage and its secrets, youth and its treacherous mistakes.

America’s Bitter Pill: Money, Politics, Back-Room Deals, and the Fight to Fix Our Broken Healthcare System by Steven Brill
Written by the author of the National Magazine Award–winning Time magazine article “Bitter Pill,” this epic political drama provides an unprecedented look at the broken U.S. healthcare system, as well as a sobering portrait of the Washington dysfunction that threatens to turn America into a failed state.

How was your week?

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© 2015 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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January 8, 2015 / Leslie

In The Blood – a dark psychological thriller

A Rapid Review

InTheBloodIn the Blood by Lisa Unger

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio | January 2014
Format: Audio Download | 10 hours | Rating: 4½ stars
Audio Listening Level: Intermediate

Liar, liar, pants on fire . . . College senior Lana Granger has told so many lies about her past that the truth seems like a distant, cloudy nightmare. But she meets her match when she begins babysitting for a volatile, manipulative eleven-year-old boy.

A compelling, dark psychological thriller, In the Blood is told through college student Lana’s first-person narrative. Lana is a girl with a troubled past. Her father was convicted of murder – she barely remembers her parents and what happened the horrible night her mother died. With secrets of her own and a desire to get a fresh start in a place where no one knows her past, she is likely an unreliable narrator. When Luke, the child she babysits begins to act like a psychopath and her roommate disappears, the action accelerates.

This fast-paced, well-plotted novel never slows down and keeps the reader guessing straight through to the riveting conclusion and a series twists – one that I almost didn’t see coming.

Audio production:
The book is co-narrated by Gretchen Mol and Candace Thaxton who expertly bring the story to life, keeping the pace moving and the tension high.

An Under My Apple Tree Rapid Review
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Source: Review copy provided by Simon & Schuster.
© 2015 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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January 7, 2015 / Leslie

Wordless Wednesday: A Hint of Spring

Gerbera Daisy

Almost wordless: I overwinter my Gerbera Daisies in a south or west window; one of the few summer plants that will bloom indoors for me during the winter.

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More Wordless Wednesday. © 2015 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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January 5, 2015 / Leslie

Mailbox Monday ~ January 5th

WinterBirdsMailbox-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.


 

Just one book in my mailbox to start out the new year.

New Arrivals

BooksJan5_163628

The Wild Life of Our Bodies by Rob Dunn from Harper Perennial.
Predators, Parasites, and Partners That Shape Who We Are Today.
A biologist shows the influence of wild species on our well-being and the world and how nature still clings to us—and always will.

How was your week?

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© 2014 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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