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March 15, 2015 / Leslie

Review & Giveaway: The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson

TheBooksellerThe Bookseller
by Cynthia Swanson

Genre: Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Harper | March 2015
Format: Hardcover | 352 pages
Rating: 4½ of 5

From the Publisher:

A provocative and hauntingly powerful debut novel reminiscent of Sliding Doors, The Bookseller follows a woman in the 1960s who must reconcile her reality with the tantalizing alternate world of her dreams.

About the Story:

Kitty Miller co-owns a bookshop with her best friend, Frieda. This would be nothing out of the ordinary today, but the setting is Denver, 1962, and women were rarely in charge of running a business, much less being the owners. They defied conventional standards by being single women, having a career, and making their own decisions.

Kitty thought she was happy until she began having unusually vivid dreams of another life…

In the dreams it is 1963 and she is called Katharyn, not Kitty. She is married to a wonderful man, has a beautiful home, and lovely children. Her dreams are a pleasant diversion into a life she never imagined she would have. Before long she begins to wonder: which life is real and which one does she want to live.

Thoughts:

Chapters alternate between the two worlds, with Kitty discovering more and more about Katharyn’s life and comparing it to the differences in her own reality. The author sets up a few mysteries for Kitty to solve and at the same time hooks the reader (well, it hooked me anyway).

I enjoyed the story a lot, even though halfway through the book I could guess where it was heading. It was a little fluffy at times, but also compelling and entertaining in an un-put-down-able way. And while I suspected what was happening, I wanted to learn the details… and stayed up an hour too late to find out.

Win a copy of the book – US Only

Thanks to the publicist, I have one copy of The Bookseller to give away to a reader with a mailing address in the continental US. To enter, fill out the form below on or before March 25th. For an extra entry, tweet or blog the giveaway and include the link. I will draw a random winner who will be contacted by email and have 48 hours to respond.

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Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
© 2015 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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March 11, 2015 / Leslie

Wordless Wednesday: Spring Thaw

SpringThaw_IMG_0982

Almost wordless: I am eagerly awaiting the return of ‘color’ to the landscape. Only nine more days until spring!

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More Wordless Wednesday. © 2015 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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March 9, 2015 / Leslie

Mailbox Monday ~ March 9th

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.


 

A variety of formats arrived in my physical and virtual mailboxes last week…

New Arrivals

BooksMarch9_163211

Smash Cut by Brad Gooch arrived unexpectedly from Harper.
Beautifully written, full of rich detail and poignant reflection, recalling a time and a place and group of friends with affection and clarity, Smash Cut is an extraordinary memoir and an exquisite account of an epoch.

The Mapmaker’s Children by Sarah McCoy from Crown.
When Sarah Brown, daughter of abolitionist John Brown, realizes that her artistic talents may be able to help save the lives of slaves fleeing north, she becomes one of the Underground Railroad’s leading mapmakers.

Digital Downloads

SummerSecretsCrazyLoveYou

Summer Secrets by Jane Green from NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press.
Jane Green delivers her second blockbuster novel of 2015, a story of one woman struggling to right the wrongs of her past, with even more complications in the present.

Crazy Love You by Lisa Unger from Simon & Schuster Audio.
Falling in love can feel like a dream…or a living nightmare.

How was your week?

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

Vision in Silver – Urban Fantasy at its Finest

Vision In SilverVision in Silver
by Anne Bishop

Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Penguin | March 2015
Format: Print: 400 pages | Audio Book: 16 hours
Rating: 4½ of 5

From the Publisher

The Others freed the Cassandra Sangue to protect the blood prophets from exploitation, not realizing their actions would have dire consequences. Now the fragile seers are in greater danger than ever before—both from their own weaknesses and from those who seek to control their divinations for wicked purposes. In desperate need of answers, Simon Wolfgard, a shape-shifter leader among the Others, has no choice but to enlist blood prophet Meg Corbyn’s help, regardless of the risks she faces by aiding him.

About the Story

This is the third installment of The Others, a paranormal fantasy series for adults. The setting is on an earth inhabited by preternatural beings – shape-shifters, vampires, and other predators known as the Others – who rule over humans and consider them to be prey. In the first book, Written in Red, much of the focus was on world building and character development. In book two, many of the familiar names return, and several of the earlier story lines begin to develop along with a few new twists.

Do you need to read the first two books to enjoy Vision in Silver? The author does a fantastic job of weaving in the necessary background information throughout the story. The book begins with a prologue giving a brief history of the world, a map, and the names of the important cities and villages. So no, it’s not absolutely necessary to have read the previous books. However, the first two books are so good, and contain so much character development, that I highly recommend reading them in order.

Vision in Silver picks up right where book two, Murder of Crows, left off. The freed Cassandra Sangue are learning to live on their own, the situation between humans and the others is reaching a breaking point with the formation of a humans only supremacy group, and Meg’s presence is becoming more important in restoring harmony between the humans and the others.

More Thoughts

I have mentioned before that fantasy is a hit or miss genre with me, and this one is a hit. I love this series. The world building is fantastic; it’s creative and original with interesting story lines and well-developed characters. There is an ongoing attraction between Meg, the blood prophet, and Simon, a shape-shifting wolf that has been building slowly. No absurd romantic triangle, but instead a realistic story with a relationship between two very different individuals that works. My only complaint, if one could call it that, is that less time was spent with Meg and Simon in this book, and more on the some of the new characters and developing story lines.

For those who enjoy adult urban fantasy, or want to try a different genre, this series is highly recommended.

Audio production

I listened to much of the book, but also read parts of an eGalley.

As in books one and two, the audio was narrated by Alexandra Harris. She did a nice job in differentiating each of the many characters by changing her tone and inflection. Voices for Meg, Simon and other main characters were readily recognizable; however, there are a lot of characters and some of the minor ones began to sound similar. Listening, rather than reading, required a little extra attention to pick up on whom is speaking.

Audio Listening Level: Intermediate – Difficult

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Source: Review copy provided by Penguin Audio and
© 2015 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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March 2, 2015 / Leslie

Mailbox Monday ~ March 2nd

WinterCardinalMailbox-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.


 
I had a busy week in new books – lots of good reading ahead.

New Arrivals

BooksMar2_152325

The Daddy Diaries by Joshua Braff from Tandem Literary.
Joshua Braff delivers an authentic, funny and honest tale about modern family life.

The Silver Witch by Paula Brackston from St. Martin’s Press.
An enchanting tale of love and magic that weaves a modern day heroine together with the ancient Celtic past.

Where They Found Her by Kimberly from Harper.
A harrowing, gripping novel that marries psychological suspense with an emotionally powerful story about a community struggling with the consequences of a devastating discovery.

 
BooksMar2_152040

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson from Crown Books.
The enthralling story of the sinking of the Lusitania, published to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the disaster.

Nightbird by Alice Hoffman from Random House.
An enchanting novel from bestselling author Alice Hoffman: A charmed New England village, a family secret, and a friendship destined to defeat a witch.

Diamond Head by Cecily Wong from Harper.
A sweeping debut spanning China to Hawaii that follows four generations of a wealthy shipping family whose rise and decline is riddled with secrets and tragic love.

How was your week?

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© 2015 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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February 28, 2015 / Leslie

Breakfast: Waffles on the George Foreman Grill

One of the great things about my new George Foreman Grill is that it has interchangeable cooking plates. In addition to ceramic grill plates, which are awesome by the way, there are a variety of baking and waffle plates. I love waffles, but never owned a waffle iron. Turns out they are as easy to make as pancakes.

Homemade Waffles

This is a basic waffle recipe adapted from the many I found on the internet.

Homemade Waffles

Ingredients

WaffleIngredients_122200

• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 4 teaspoons baking powder
• 2 tablespoons white sugar
• 2 eggs
• 2 cups warm milk
• ½ cup butter, melted
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation

WaffleBatter_100614In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients: flour, salt, baking powder and sugar. Set aside.

Preheat waffle iron to desired temperature. For the grill plates, preheat for 5 minutes at 425 degrees.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs. Stir in the milk, butter and vanilla. Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture; beat until blended.

Pour the batter into a preheated waffle iron. Cook until golden and crisp. Using the grill plates, waffles are ready in about 6 to 7 minutes. Be careful not to overfill the plates (like I did). When I closed the grill, batter ran out the back!

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A note about the waffle plates:
While the grilling plates are ceramic and safe to use near pets and children, the waffle plates may not be. They are non-stick and contain PTFE or PFOA (aka Teflon), which makes them unsafe for use around pet birds, especially when heated to a high temperature. I cook my waffles outside or in the basement. A bit of a pain, but safer for my birds.

 


wkendcookingThis post is linked to Weekend Cooking, hosted by Beth Fish Reads.
Participation is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs.


© 2015 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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February 27, 2015 / Leslie

A Clever Look at Group Dynamics in ‘The Room’

A Rapid Review

TheRoomThe Room by Jonas Karlsson

Publisher: Hogarth | February 2015
Format: Paperback | Rating: 4 stars

Funny, clever, surreal, and thought-provoking, this Kafka-esque masterpiece introduces the unforgettable Bjorn, an exceptionally meticulous office worker striving to live life on his own terms.

Bjorn has recently accepted a position as a civil servant at “The Authority” and spends his days working in a modern, open-space office; a bureaucracy complete with petty co-workers, office politics, and a dreary environment.

Bjorn isn’t interested in socializing or making friends; he just wants to do his job and gain recognition as a leader. Unfortunately, he’s also a bit odd and irritating to his co-workers. When he finds a small, unused office near the elevators, he begins to spend his breaks there. The room is a peaceful, productive place where he can think and work. There’s only one problem: No one else can see the room.

This quirky little book was a quick read and an interesting change of pace. I read it in between a few more challenging books, but found it brought up some interesting questions: Is Bjorn a clever manipulator or a nut? How far will someone go to regain their personal space? Does the room really exist? In the end, a compelling psychological study.

An Under My Apple Tree Rapid Review
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Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
© 2015 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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