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September 28, 2016 / Leslie

Wordless Wednesday: Cardinal Flower

cardinalflower

Almost wordless: A lone Cardinal Flower along the path in the park. I have tried unsuccessfully to grow these in my wildflower garden.

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September 24, 2016 / Leslie

Book Review: I Am No One by Patrick Flanery

A Rapid Review

IAmNoOnePublisher: PRH Audio | Tim Duggan Books | July 2016
Format: Audio: 12 hours | 352 pages Rating: 3 stars
Audio Listening Level: Intermediate

Jeremy’s life begins taking strange turns: boxes containing records of his online activity are delivered to his apartment, a young man seems to be following him, and his elderly mother receives anonymous phone calls slandering her son. Why, he wonders, would anyone want to watch him so closely, and, even more upsetting, why would they alert him to the fact that he was being watched?

The premise is excellent and timely: Jeremy, a history professor recently returned to New York from a decade in England, suddenly begins to receive boxes filled with records of his online activities. Someone is watching him and they have been doing so for many years. They also want him to know he is being watched. Who is doing it and why?

I was expecting not only a mystery, but a thriller — a story that would grab my attention from the first chapter. Instead it was very tedious and detailed. Sentences went on and on. At times incredibly boring. There was a lot of long-winded political commentary and seemingly endless diatribes on “privacy”. I get it. Where’s the plot? Just as I was about to give up near the halfway point, the story picked up the pace. Jeremy isn’t really the “no one” he thinks he is and we start to get some answers.

I figured out the mystery about three-quarters of the way through but finished up the book to see if I was right. The ending, when it finally arrived, was a bit of a let down. Not quite a thriller, this was more a warning on the dangers of unchecked mass surveillance with a little paranoia thrown in. Maybe with a different writing style — I don’t enjoy a lot of stream-of-consciousness dialog — I would have liked it a little better.

Audio production:
The novel was narrated by Steven Crossley. I started this in print but the book was such slow going that I switched to audio thinking a good narrator would make it a bit more interesting for me. And that worked. I enjoyed the way he portrayed Jeremy with a slight British accent and stuffy demeanor that I imagined Jeremy might have.

Audio Sample:

An Under My Apple Tree Rapid Review
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Source: Review copy provided by the publisher and LibraryThing.
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September 22, 2016 / Leslie

Goodbye Summer

The Autumnal Equinox

As much as I enjoy the temperate days of fall, the beautiful colors of the foliage, and all things pumpkin and spice, I am always sad to see summer end. Trees, flowers, and gardens are ending their annual cycle of growth. Birds have gathered into flocks and many are beginning their migration south.

Lake Ellyn in Early October

Lake Ellyn

Shorter Days, Longer Nights

The Autumnal Equinox occurred today at 9:21am CDT in the northern hemisphere. This was the moment the sun crossed the equator from north to south and the beginning of later dawns and earlier sunsets.

For the next week or so, the sun rises due east and sets due west, which is what causes that glare when driving on east-west roads. As we move into the final months of the years, the northern hemisphere will tilt farther and farther away from the sun causing its rays to arrive at a steeper angle and giving us the short days of winter. This continues until December 21st when the sun will have reached it’s southernmost position: the winter solstice.

And then I begin to count the days until spring!

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September 14, 2016 / Leslie

Wordless Wednesday: Young Sparrows

Juvenile House Sparrows

Almost wordless: These little guys were probably only a week out of the nest when I took this a few weeks ago. I am still seeing youngsters in the yard. Sparrows will start nests into late July or August because they do not migrate.

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September 12, 2016 / Leslie

Mailbox Monday ~ September 12th

Butterfly-PinkFlower_Mailbox56392Welcome 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.


 
Happy Monday! A few new books arrived last week.

New Arrivals

bookssep12_20160911_183250

A Life Everlasting: The Extraordinary Story of One Boy’s Gift to Medical Science
by Sarah Gray
from HarperOne.
A donor mother’s powerful memoir of grief and rebirth that is also a fascinating medical science whodunit, taking us inside the world of organ, eye, tissue, and blood donation and cutting-edge scientific research.

Monticello by Sally Gunning from William Morrow.
A captivating work of literary historical fiction, set in America in the years after the Revolution, that explores the tenuous relationship between the brilliant and complex founding father Thomas Jefferson and his devoted daughter, Martha Jefferson Randolph.

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September 7, 2016 / Leslie

Wordless Wednesday: Very Tall Coneflower

Tall Yellow Coneflower

Almost wordless: With all the heat and rain we’ve had this year, the prairie flowers seem taller than usual. This coneflower was at least 8 feet tall and bending over the path. I had to shoot up into the trees to get the shot.

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September 6, 2016 / Leslie

First Chapter First Paragraph ~ Tuesday Intros

The Velvet Hours by Alyson Richman

Berkley | September 2016 | Paperback • Kindle • Audio | 384 pages

VelvetHours

June 1940 Paris

Outside, I could hear the sound of airplanes, and their rumble filled me with unease. The only thing worse would be the wail of a bomb siren. I bit my lip and hurried to grab my bag.

I moved through the rooms of my grandmother’s apartment one last time. My finger trailed over the edges of her furniture, my eyes absorbing the image of her beloved porcelains, her carved ornaments, and, lastly, the magnificent portrait of her over the mantel. The only possession of my grandmother’s that I would take with me was hidden underneath the collar of my blouse, and feeling it against my skin gave me courage.

What do you think? Would you keep reading?

Paris, WWII, a mystery . . . I can visualize this scene and it makes me want to start reading right now.

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From Goodreads:

An elusive courtesan, Marthe de Florian cultivated a life of art and beauty, casting out all recollections of her impoverished childhood in the dark alleys of Montmartre. With Europe on the brink of war, she shares her story with her granddaughter Solange Beaugiron, using her prized possessions to reveal her innermost secrets. Most striking of all are a beautiful string of pearls and a magnificent portrait of Marthe painted by the Italian artist Giovanni Boldini. As Marthe’s tale unfolds, like velvet itself, stitched with its own shadow and light, it helps to guide Solange on her own path.


First Chapter Tuesday is hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea. Join us by visiting Diane and linking your own First Chapter post or to find out what others plan to read this week.

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Source: Advance copy provided by Tandem Literary.
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