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July 21, 2014 / Leslie

Mailbox Monday ~ July 21st

hummingbird mailboxWelcome 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.


Here’s what arrived last week:

New Arrivals

Books721_IMG_ 008

Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success by Shane Snow – Harper.
Entrepreneur and journalist Shane Snow analyzes the lives of people and companies that do incredible things better and faster than everyone else to reveal how each of us can use “smartcuts,” not merely shortcuts, to achieve success.

The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing by Mira Jacob from Random House Audio.
Spanning India in the 70s to New Mexico in the 80s to Seattle in the 90s, The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing is a winning, irreverent debut novel about a family wrestling with its future and its past.

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New Giveaway

NiceGuiltTripGuilt Trip Giveaway

Win a copy of Have a Nice Guilt Trip plus the previous four books.
Lisa Scottoline and her daughter, Francesca Serritella, have teamed up to bring their hilarious and witty perspective on the everyday life as mother and daughter in their weekly essays which you can find in their latest collection, Have a Nice Guilt Trip, released this week by St. Martin’s Press.

To enter, fill out the form. Continental US addresses only by 8/3.

How was your week?

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July 20, 2014 / Leslie

Sunday in the Garden: The Changing Seasons

March

Garden-March

By the time March rolls around I’m usually outside cleaning up the garden and getting it ready for early season flowers and vegetables. But this past March, only four short months ago, my yard was still covered with a blanket of snow and I was wondering when anything would start growing again.

May

Garden-May

A month later the perennials began to emerge and by May the garden even had a few flowers. You can see from the empty flower boxes on the deck railing that I held off on putting in the annuals; the night temperatures were still hovering near freezing.

July

Garden-July

I’m always amazed at what nature accomplishes. Even after a horribly cold and brutal winter, the worst in 20 years, almost all of my perennials survived and are even thriving.

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© 2014 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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July 19, 2014 / Leslie

Weekend Birding: Cowbird Fledglings

Once again I have fledgling Cowbirds at my tray feeder waiting for their adoptive parent to feed them. The cowbird is on the right. The Mourning Doves on the left were ignoring him and his sibling, who was out of camera range.

Are you my parents?

Fledgling Cowbird

It wasn’t long before a pair of Northern Cardinals showed up. As soon as the cowbird started begging, the male began to feed him. Why? Because cowbirds are brood parasites. They do not build their own nests or raise their young. The female will sneak into another species nest, drop in an egg or two, and let the other birds do all the work.

Are you my daddy?

Cardinal feeding Cowbird

Cowbirds are not fussy when they choose adoptive parents. Their eggs have been documented in the nests of over 200 species and about 145 of them have successfully raised a cowbird chick.

In my yard, the cardinals seem to be particularly susceptible to cowbird parasitism. This is the third year in a row I have seen cardinals caring for fledgling cowbirds. If this seems a familiar topic, I wrote more about cowbird behavior last year.

Cardinal feeding Cowbird

Unfortunately I have not seen any young cardinals this season. With two cowbirds to feed and care for, it’s doubtful any cardinal eggs from this nest were successful. Cowbirds hatch sooner, grow faster, are larger, hungrier and out-compete the host’s nestlings for food.

There’s my daddy!

Male Cowbird

The adult cowbirds visit my feeders but don’t claim their young until all the hard work is done. That’s the male cowbird in the photo above.

What I find amazing is that these young cowbirds do not imprint on their host. Somehow they know they are cowbirds and will develop their own song, social and breeding behavior. I have observed the male cowbirds rounding up groups of youngsters into the flock after nesting season has ended.
 


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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July 18, 2014 / Leslie

Review – Audiobook: Ruin Falls by Jenny Milchman

A Rapid Review

RuinFallsRuin Falls by Jenny Milchman

Publisher: Random House Audio | January 2014
Format: Audio Download | 12 hours | Rating: 3½ stars
Audio Listening Level: Intermediate

In a suspenseful follow-up to her critically acclaimed Cover of Snow, Jenny Milchman ratchets up the tension with this edge-of-your-seat story of a mother determined to find her missing children.

A family vacation turns into a nightmare for Liz Daniels. Her two children have wandered off and are missing. And now her husband is missing too. It soon becomes apparent that he has taken them. But where, and why? At first Liz is puzzled and confused, but determined to get her children back.

For the first half of the book we are like Liz, unsure of what is going on and don’t know who to trust. There are a lot of layers, many secondary characters and the plot tends to wander at times as Liz searches for answers. I didn’t feel a lot of suspense, but did get caught up in the mystery and Liz’s evolution from ‘dazed and confused’ to ‘tiger mom’. Readers who have small children will probably feel a little more of the fear that enveloped Liz than I did.

The loose ends do come together in the end, but the explanation for her husband’s actions was a little unbelievable – or perhaps needed a little more explanation. Apparently Liz didn’t know her husband very well.

Audio production:
I chose the audio because it was narrated by Cassandra Campbell, a favorite of mine. She does a nice job conveying the emotion and suspense. The multiple viewpoints and complex plot require a little extra attention from the listener, but overall an enjoyable production.

Audio Sample:

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An Under My Apple Tree Rapid ReviewSource: Review copy provided by Random House Audio.
© 2014 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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July 17, 2014 / Leslie

Guilt Trip Giveaway – Win a Set of 5 Books

Have a Nice Guilt Trip
by Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella
St. Martin’s Press | July 8, 2014 | Hardcover • eBook • Audio

NiceGuiltTrip

Lisa Scottoline and her daughter, Francesca Serritella, have teamed up to bring their hilarious and witty perspective on the everyday life as mother and daughter in their weekly essays which you can find in their latest collection, Have a Nice Guilt Trip, released this week by St. Martin’s Press.

Win a collection of five books

Courtesy of the publicist, I have a copy of their new release – plus their four previous books – to give away to one lucky reader.
WinAll5-sml

  1. Have a Nice Guilt Trip
  2. Best Friends, Occasional Enemies
  3. Meet Me at Emotional Baggage Claim
  4. My Nest Isn’t Empty, It Just Has More Closet Space
  5. Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog

To win a set of all five books, fill out the form below on or before August 3, 2014. One entry per person or address, continental US only. I will draw a random winner who will be notified by email.

Where would you sneak off to for a Guilt Trip summer getaway?

I’d run off to a tropical location with beaches and beautiful birds!

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Visit Lisa and Francesca for another giveaway

Guilt Trip Giveaway-smlEvery Wednesday through August 29th, Lisa and Francesca are giving away everything you need for your own personal GUILT TRIP, a prize pack worth more than $1,000!

Each week through a random drawing, one winner will win a sleek 29” Hartmann black raspberry spinner suitcase, a pair of gorgeous Ray Ban gold-framed aviator sunglasses, a plush and colorful beachtowel, sunscreen, and, of course, signed copies of Lisa and Francesca’s five books.

Visit this page on Lisa’s website for full details and the entry form.

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Source: Giveaway provided and fulfilled by Tandem Literary.
© 2014 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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July 16, 2014 / Leslie

Wordless Wednesday: Black Swallowtail Butterfly

Black Swallowtail Butterfly

Almost wordless: This looks like the male. Females have a wider band of blue spots. Last week I spotted a swallowtail caterpillar in my parsley.

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More Wordless Wednesday. © 2014 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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July 14, 2014 / Leslie

Mailbox Monday ~ July 14th

hummingbird mailboxWelcome 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.


 
Here’s what arrived last week:

Print Books

BooksJul14

Stone Mattress: Nine Tales by Margaret Atwood from Doubleday.
Margaret Atwood turns to short fiction for the first time since her 2006 collection, “Moral Disorder,” with nine tales of acute psychological insight and turbulent relationships.

The Clairvoyant of Calle Ocho by Anjanette Delgado from Kensington Books.
With warmth, wit, and insight, award-winning author Anjanette Delgado explores one woman s flawed but heartfelt attempt to live and love well, transporting listeners to the center of contemporary Little Havana and a community of uniquely human, unforgettable characters.

Audio Downloads

Good GirlLife Drawing

The Good Girl by Mary Kubica from Blackstone Audio through AudioBook JukeBox.
An addictively suspenseful and tautly written thriller, The Good Girl is a compulsive debut that reveals how even in the perfect family, nothing is as it seems.

Life Drawing by Robin Black from Random House Audio.
In “Life Drawing”, her gorgeously written first novel, Robin Black unfolds a fierce, honest, and moving portrait of a woman, and of a couple’s life – the betrayals and intimacies, the needs and regrets, the secrets that sustain love and the ones that threaten to destroy it.

How was your week?

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© 2014 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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