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February 21, 2015 / Leslie

Audiobook Review: The Rosie Effect

A Rapid Review

RosieEffectThe Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion

Publisher: Simon & Schuster | December 2014
Format: Audio Download | 9 hours | Rating: 3½ stars
Audio Listening Level: Easy

The Rosie Project was an international publishing phenomenon, with more than a million copies sold in over forty countries around the world. Now Graeme Simsion returns with the highly anticipated sequel, The Rosie Effect.

At the end of the first book, we leave Don and Rosie happily married and living in New York. Don is a professor of genetics, and Rosie is finishing up her PhD and preparing to enter medical school. We pick up ten months later when Rosie announces that she is pregnant.

From the first book, The Rosie Project, we know that Don is a socially challenged individual whose often inappropriate, although innocent, actions indicate he probably has Asperger’s Snydrome. Adding a pregnancy into the mix gives Don a whole new set of challenges. He now begins researching children with the same zeal that he researched potential girlfriends. For example, following children at the playground is not a good way to learn about them! Well, you get the picture; I won’t spoil the fun.

These are the same likable, fun characters back for another adventure; sort of like tuning in to your favorite sitcom ever week, you pretty much know what to expect. I enjoyed the book and found it entertaining, but it was little too much like the first book and got predictable after a while.

Audio production:
The audiobook was delightfully narrated by Dan O’Grady, whose voice and accent I now associate with the quirky Don Tillman.

This was a quick, easy listen. A good choice for the car or while multitasking. This would also be a good choice for readers new to the audio format with its fun, simple, and easy to follow plot.

An Under My Apple Tree Rapid Review
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Source: Review copy provided by Simon & Schuster.
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February 18, 2015 / Leslie

Wordless Wednesday: Meet Jentrie

Jentrie_20150208_094613

I adopted Jentrie, a Senegal Parrot, a few weeks ago. He recently arrived at the bird shelter in need of a new home after his owner of 21 years could no longer care for him. He is still getting used to us but adjusting nicely.

JentrieRoofTop-sml_104339

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February 17, 2015 / Leslie

The Jaguar’s Children by John Vaillant

A Rapid Review

JaguarsChildrenThe Jaguar’s Children by John Vaillant

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt | January 2015
Format: Hardcover | 288 pages | Rating: 3½ stars

… a gripping survival story of a young man trapped, perhaps fatally, during a border crossing.

Héctor is trapped. The water truck, sealed to hide its human cargo, has broken down. The coyotes have taken all the passengers’ money for a mechanic and have not returned. Those left behind have no choice but to wait.

The entire story is related through Héctor’s point of view. Using his phone, he records sound and text files chronicling the time in the tanker. He spends much of it reflecting back on his life, his family, and his reasons for undertaking this journey.

While the book started out strong, with the opening pages finding everyone already trapped in the tanker for over a day and conditions fast deteriorating, it began to slow down and, at times, drag, as we spent more time on the story of Héctor’s life, his family, and his ancestors in Oaxaca.

The part I found the most compelling and riveting – the survival story itself – was not the primary focus. Other than Héctor’s friend, César, who is with him in the tanker, we learn little about the other people trapped in there. César’s story about a corporate plot to spread GMO seeds with a terminator gene into the wild was fascinating, but only briefly explained towards the end.

This was a compelling plot that could be ripped from the headlines as so many people are willing to risk their lives to cross the border. I would have liked to have heard their stories. And in the end, much is left to our imagination, and for that, the story felt a little incomplete.

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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February 16, 2015 / Leslie

Mailbox Monday ~ February 16th

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.


 
Just when I start to get caught up, I lose two days with a nasty stomach virus. And the irony of it – I’m pretty sure I picked it up at the Doctor’s Office. Ah well, I’m all better now. And a few new books showed up in the mail to cheer me up.

New Arrivals

Feb16Books_155922

A Small Indiscretion by Jan Ellison from LibrayThing.
With the brilliant pacing and emotional precision that won Jan Ellison an O. Henry Prize for her first published story, A Small Indiscretion announces a major new voice in suspense fiction as it unfolds a story of denial, obsession, love, forgiveness—and one woman’s reckoning with her own fateful mistakes.

Ask the Dark by Henry Turner from Clarion Books.
Billy Zeets has a story to tell. About being a vandal and petty thief. About missing boys and an elusive killer. And about what happens if a boy who breaks all the rules is the only person who can piece together the truth.

Feb16Books_160043

Ella by Mallory Kasdan from Tandem Literary and Penguin Books.
This is ELLA. She is six years old. She lives at the Local Hotel. She has a nanny called Manny. He has tattoos for sleeves and he might go in with some guys to buy a grilled cheese truck.

If Ella and Kay Thompson’s Eloise got together for a play date, they would have a very good time indeed.

Less Medicine, More Health by H. Gilbert Welch from LibrayThing.
The author of the highly acclaimed Overdiagnosed describes seven widespread assumptions that encourage excessive, often ineffective, and sometimes harmful medical care.

How was your week?

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February 14, 2015 / Leslie

2015 Great Backyard Bird Count

The annual Great Backyard Bird Count is this weekend, February 13 – 16. The event was started in 1998 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society. It was the first online citizen-science project to collect data on wild birds and to display results in near real-time.

Northern Cardinal

The Northern Cardinal, above, is a frequent visitor to my backyard. I always have a supply of sunflower and safflower seeds in my feeders; a favorite food for cardinals, and many other song birds.

Citizen Scientists Needed

The Backyard Bird Count is an opportunity for citizen scientists around the world to help researchers by spending a few minutes counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of where the birds are. It’s as easy as looking out your window for 15 minutes or going for a walk at a local park.

People of all ages and skill levels can participate. You do not need to be an expert to contribute. Even if you can only identify the common birds, you can still take part in the count.

How to participate

Red-breasted Nuthatch

The Red-breasted Nuthatch on the right is enjoying my backyard peanut feeder. They are occasional winter visitors to the Chicago area, but usually spend their winters further north.

Red-breasted Nuthatches are irruptive migrants and will only leave their usual range when their food supply becomes scarce. They have not visited my yard this winter and sightings in the area have been infrequent. These are the type of trends that scientists are evaluating.

Why Count in February?

You might be wondering why a bird count that originated in North America is held in the coldest month of the year. The reason was to create a snapshot of the distribution of birds just before spring migrations begin in March. Several years ago a change was made and the count went global, creating snapshots of birds wherever they are in February, regardless of seasons across the hemispheres.

Dark-eyed Junco

The Dark-eyed Junco, above, is a winter migrant across much of North America. They are predictable and return every year. When they appear in my yard in October, I know winter isn’t far behind.

Where to find birds?

Your backyard, at a local park or wildlife refuge, or wherever you like to watch birds.

I count in several places. The easiest is my backyard where I have several feeders and a regular crowd of birds. I can always count on cardinals, finches, woodpeckers and sparrows to stop by for a meal. I also count on the trails at the park and the forest preserve, weather permitting. With the cold temperatures we are having this weekend, I will probably count in my backyard where I can look out the window and not freeze.

Mourning Dove

Mourning Doves are also year-round residents. On a below freezing day, the bird in the photo above is taking advantage of the warm air rising from my heated bird bath.

Last Year’s Statistics

Graphic and figures from http://gbbc.birdcount.org/

Graphic and figures from gbbc.birdcount.org

Checklists Submitted: 144,109 | Total Species Observed: 4,296 | Countries participating: 135

There’s Still Time to Participate

Head on over to the GBBC start-up page and join in.

 


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February 13, 2015 / Leslie

Lillian on Life by Alison Jean Lester

A Rapid Review

Lillian on Life by Alison Jean Lester

LillianOnLifePublisher: Penguin Audio | January 2015
Format: Audio Download | 4½ hours | Rating: 3½ stars
Audio Listening Level: Easy

This is the story of Lillian, a single woman reflecting on her choices and imagining her future. Born in the Midwest in the 1930s; Lillian lives, loves, and works in Europe in the fifties and early sixties; she settles in New York and pursues the great love of her life in the sixties and seventies. Now it’s the early nineties, and she’s taking stock.

This was an interesting look at an unconventional woman – one who made choices that were not the standard in her time. And although Lillian claimed she always wanted marriage and children, her choices in men and career caused her to remain single. But Lillian still lived her life to the fullest.

It was written in the style of a memoir using a series of short chapters with titles that sound like an instruction manual on the life Lillian is reflecting back upon; such as: “On the Dual Purpose of Things”, “On One-Night Stands”, “On Us”, “On Looking the Part”, “On the End”.

Witty and full of life, Lillian’s story will entertain women of all ages… and might enlighten a few men too!

Audio production:
At only a little over four hours, I listened to this in one afternoon. It was pleasantly narrated by Kathe Mazur; an easy, entertaining listen.

An Under My Apple Tree Rapid Review
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Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
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February 12, 2015 / Leslie

Spotlight On… Teaser: A Corey Logan Thriller

Today I am hosting a stop on Burt Weissbourg’s Virtual Tour for his latest release, Teaser, a thriller set in the Pacific Northwest.

Teaser by Burt Weissbourd

Teaser

Synopsis:

Teaser, the sequel to Inside Passage, takes Corey and Abe into the interconnected worlds of private school kids and the runaways who roam Seattle’s streets. Billy attends the Olympic Academy, where two friends, Maisie and Aaron, are experimenting with sex and drugs. They’ve become close to Star, a streetwise seductress who leads them down a treacherous path. Despite the best efforts of Abe and Corey, Maisie is abducted by the diabolical “Teaser,” a man determined to take revenge on her father, his former cellmate. Teaser is a mystery to everyone except Abe and Corey, who alone realize what they must do to rescue Maisie. They contrive a plan that shocks even them.

February 10, 2015 | Rare Bird Books
Hardcover, 280 pages

 

About the Author

Burt WeisbourdBurt Weissbourd writes character-driven thrillers. Reviewers describe his work as “brilliantly detailed, evocative … thrillingly suspenseful.” “His descriptions are luscious.” “An incredibly strong and intelligent female protagonist.” “[His] dark characters rank with some of Koontz’s and King’s worst imaginaries.”

Burt began his career producing movies, working closely with screenwriters, then writing his own screenplays. A newcomer to Hollywood, he approached writers whose movies he loved — movies such as “Klute,” “Two for the Road,” and “Ordinary People” — and worked with those writers and others, including working with Ross Macdonald, a legend in crime fiction, on his only screenplay.

This was the “New Hollywood” (1967 – 1980), and he found writers whose work grabbed viewers viscerally, not with explosions but with multi-dimensional characters who would draw you into a deeply moving story. Savvy actors wanted to play finely drawn characters in compelling stories, and before long, Burt was developing screenplays, working directly with Robert Redford, Lily Tomlin, Goldie Hawn, Sally Field, and Jill Clayburg, among others.

As a producer developing a screenplay, he looked for stories with strong, complex characters and a “rich stew” — that is to say, a situation with conflict, emotional intensity, and the potential to evolve in unexpected ways. This is exactly what he tries to create for the books he writes.

TeaserTour

Connect with Burt Weissbourd

Facebook | Webpage| Goodreads | Twitter | Amazon

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