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April 13, 2015 / Leslie

Mailbox Monday ~ April 13th

WelcomeBirdhouseMailbox-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.


 
Another busy week with the added task of finally finishing up the income tax returns. As a former tax consultant I probably should have had this done weeks ago, but it’s one of those chores I tend to put off. But it’s done now and I was able to enjoy a nice weekend including a four hour walk with my bird club on Saturday and a leisurely brunch with the girlfriends on Sunday.

Here’s what arrived last week…

New Arrivals

BooksApr13_071910

The Year My Mother Came Back by Alice Eve Cohen from Highbridge Audio.
Thirty years after her death, Alice’s mother appears to her, seemingly in the flesh, and continues to do so during the hardest year Alice has had to face.

Beneath the Bonfire: Stories by Nickolas Butler from St. Maritn’s Press.
The ten stories in this dazzling, surprising collection evoke a landscape that will be instantly recognizable to anyone who has traveled the back roads and blue highways of America, and they completely capture the memorable characters who call it home.

The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler from St. Maritn’s Press.
The Book of Speculation is Erika Swyler’s gorgeous and moving debut, a wondrous novel about the power of books, family, and magic.

Audio Downloads

DismantlingLastBookaneerHouseOfEchos

The Dismantling by Brian DeLeeuw from Penguin Audio.
Twenty-five-year-old med school dropout Simon Worth is an organ broker, buying kidneys and livers from cash-strapped donors and selling them to recipients whose time on the waitlist is running out. When a seemingly straightforward liver transplant has an unexpectedly dangerous outcome, Simon finds himself on the run.

The Last Bookaneer by Matthew Pearlfrom Penguin Audio.
The bestselling author of The Dante Club takes us deep into a shadowy era in publishing ruled by a forgotten class of criminals.

House of Echoes by Brendan Duffy from Random House Audio.
In this enthralling and atmospheric debut suspense novel, one young family’s dream of a better life is about to become a nightmare.

How was your week?

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© 2015 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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April 9, 2015 / Leslie

Winner: The Tusk That Did the Damage

Thank you to everyone that stopped by to enter the giveaway last week for a copy of The Tusk That Did the Damage by Tania James.

 

Winner: Kathy @ Bermudaonion’s Weblog

Tusk

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

Wordless Wednesday: Anglewing Butterfly

Angelwing Butterfly

Almost wordless: I’m pretty sure this is an Anglewing. They hibernate during the winter and are one of the first butterflies to appear in the spring. This one was enjoying a rare sunny day, and so was I.

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More Wordless Wednesday. © 2015 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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April 7, 2015 / Leslie

Audiobook: So That Happened by Jon Cryer

SoThatHappenedMy Unexpected Life in Hollywood

A Rapid Review

Publisher: Penguin Audio | April 2015
Format: Audio Download | 9 hours | Rating: 4 stars
Audio Listening Level: Easy

If it can happen in show business, it’s happened to Jon Cryer. Now he’s opening up for the first time and sharing his behind-the-scenes stories in a warmly endearing, sharply observed, and frankly funny look at life in Hollywood.

Funny and entertaining with lots of behind-the-scenes stories of his 30 years in movies, theater, and television, this was an enjoyable read. Jon Cryer is best known for his Emmy-winning role as Alan Harper on Two and a Half Men and, to the 80s generation, as Duckie in Pretty in Pink. Those are the characters I was familiar with and what prompted me to read his memoir.

We get to see a personal side to the actor and learn about his early years in theater, his near misses at stardom before Men (he was one of the actors considered for the part of Chandler on Friends), and about his years on Men, about his relationship with Charlie Sheen—the good, the bad, and the meltdown on social media, and the re-booting of the show with the hiring of Ashton Kutcher to name just a few. (There were other actors considered to replace Charlie Sheen, and did anyone know Jon Cryer dated Demi Moore? I didn’t. He describes discussing it with Ashton as “awkward!”. No more spoilers, just read the book).

Audio production
The author narrates the book adding authenticity and realism to his stories. Who better to tell the tales than the actor himself! And it feels like he is talking directly to us, the listener. This was an easy book to listen to while multi-tasking around the house. Even those who don’t usually listen to audio should find it easy to follow along.

Audio Sample

An Under My Apple Tree Rapid Review
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Source: Review copy provided by Penguin Audio.
© 2015 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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April 6, 2015 / Leslie

Mailbox Monday ~ April 6th

RobinMailboxWelcome 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.


 
There are so many good books coming out in the next few months. I’m excited about all of the titles that arrived last week. Some I requested and a couple were pleasant surprises.

New Arrivals

BooksApr6_000648

Circling the Sun by Paula McLain from Ballantine Books.
Circling the Sun tells the story of the beautiful young horse trainer, adventurer, and aviator Beryl Markham, from her childhood in British East Africa to her relationship with hunter Denys Finch Hatton and rivalry with Out of Africa author Karen Blixen—a notorious love triangle that changed the course of Beryl’s life.

Beach Town by Mary Kay Andrews from Tandem Literary.
Will true love find a foothold in this small beach town before it’s too late and disaster strikes? Told with Mary Kay Andrews inimitable wit and charm, Beach Town is this year’s summer beach read!

Disclaimer by Renee Knight from Harper.
Finding a mysterious novel at her bedside plunges documentary filmmaker Catherine Ravenscroft into a living nightmare. Though ostensibly fiction, The Perfect Stranger recreates in vivid, unmistakable detail the terrible day Catherine became hostage to a dark secret, a secret that only one other person knew–and that person is dead.

10% Human by Alanna Collen from Harper.
How Your Body’s Microbes Hold the Key to Health and Happiness: In this riveting, shocking, and beautifully written book, biologist Alanna Collen draws on the latest scientific research to show how our personal colony of microbes influences our weight, our immune system, our mental health, and even our choice of partner.

Love Is Red by Sophie Jaff from Harper.
This electrifying, addictive, and hypnotically beautiful debut spins suspense and literary fantasy into a stunning epic—the first volume in the Night Song Trilogy—ablaze with fear, mystery, and possibility.

Orient by Christopher Bollen from Harper.
A gripping novel of culture clash and murder: as summer draws to a close, a small Long Island town is gripped by a series of mysterious deaths—and one young man, a loner taken in by a local, tries to piece together the crimes before his own time runs out.

How was your week?

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© 2015 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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April 4, 2015 / Leslie

Let the Gardening Begin

Garden season never truly ends for me; I’m always gardening, indoors and out. But there’s a special feeling in the spring when the days get longer and the air has that fresh smell. I want to get outside and plant stuff in the ground.

Pink Geraniums

PinkGeranium_IMG_1269

At the end of every growing season I bring a selection of favorite annuals inside to spend the winter. If the plants can survive the dry air and the lack of indirect sunlight, I can usually coax them back to life in the spring. These brilliant pink geraniums are a favorite and I save a few plants every season.

View into my patio door

Garden Window

I have two south-facing windows and a sunny west window in the laundry room where I overwinter about 50 plants plus my year-round houseplants. The geraniums got a little anxious and have already begun to bloom. Above was the view into my patio door last weekend. Yeah, I know, I should probably invest in a greenhouse.

RootingGeraniums_IMG_1286Take cuttings to make more plants

This week I began taking cuttings from the geraniums and rooting them in small pots. I’ve always had a green thumb—plants seem to like me. Whatever it is, they usually respond well and don’t die too often. That doesn’t mean I haven’t killed my share of plants—just ask my orchids!

GeraniumCuttings_IMG_1276Use rooting hormone

The trick to successfully rooting most cuttings is to use a rooting hormone and a good potting soil; then put them in a sunny window and lightly water or mist the cuttings every day.

This works on many plants that won’t readily grow roots in water, but geraniums are one of the easiest plants to grow—they will usually root without the hormone, but I use it to give them a boost.

The benefits of taking cuttings are getting a plant exactly like the original, plus you will save lots of money at the garden center.

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© 2015 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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April 2, 2015 / Leslie

How We Got to Now by Steven Johnson

Six Innovations That Made the Modern World

HowWeGotToNowPublisher: PenguinAudio, Riverhead | Sept 2014
Format: Hardcover, 255 pages
Format: Audio Download | 6 hours
Rating: 5 stars

From the Publisher:

Steven Johnson explores the history of innovation over centuries, tracing facets of modern life (refrigeration, clocks, and eyeglass lenses, to name a few) from their creation by hobbyists, amateurs, and entrepreneurs to their unintended historical consequences. Filled with surprising stories of accidental genius and brilliant mistakes—How We Got to Now investigates the secret history behind the everyday objects of contemporary life.

Thoughts

This was a fascinating look at innovation and discovery. Concentrating on just six areas – glass, cold, sound, clean, time, light – and using what he calls the “hummingbird effect,” the author demonstrates how discoveries build upon one another and bring about changes in seemingly unrelated ways, leading us in directions we never imagined.

For example, glass: before the 15th century, most people were farsighted and never knew it; most couldn’t read and had no need to see tiny shapes formed into words. Therefore, spectacles remained rare and expensive items. The invention of the printing press changed that when it brought the written word to the masses, creating a market for spectacles. People began experimenting with lenses; microscopes, telescopes, and cameras were invented, creating a multitude of new discoveries in the sciences as a result.

The author discounts the lone genius theory where one person magically came up with an idea and “invented” it. He demonstrates how most innovations were collaborations. An example was the light bulb: multiple individuals were working on developing a light bulb, and many “invented” it, but the person known for the light bulb was the one whose bulb outperformed the others and was most successful in bringing it to market. And that was Thomas Edison.

I could babble on a lot about this book and how much I enjoyed it. But instead I’m going to encourage you to give this a read or a listen and have fun learning about how all the things we take for granted became part of our daily lives. And no, you do not need to know one bit about science to enjoy this – just curiosity about the world around us.

Audio production

Audio Listening Level: Easy

I can be a bit of a science nerd and once I started reading this I didn’t want to stop and switched between audio and print so I could keep going. The audio was competently read by George Newbern in a very listenable but documentary-like style. For those who prefer the visual, there were some very cool drawings, photos, and illustrations that make having a print copy worthwhile. But in either format it was an enjoyable read.

Audio Sample:

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Source: Review copies provided by Penguin Audio and Riverhead Books.
© 2015 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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