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November 20, 2017 / Leslie

Mailbox Monday ~ November 20th

Welcome 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 couple of new books last week.

New Arrivals

The Italian Party by Christina Lynch from St. Martin’s Press.
A delicious and sharply funny page-turner about “innocent” Americans abroad in 1950s Siena, Italy.

One Sheet Eats by Oxmoor House from AmazonVine.
100+ Delicious Recipes All Made on a Baking Sheet
Recipes crafted for simple, clutter-free, and satisfying cooking.

Voices on the Road Blog Tour & Giveaway

This month I am participating in the Voices on the Road blog tour sponsored by the APA and audiobook publishers. The tour runs through the month of November. Each blogger on the tour is recommending some of their favorite audiobooks and narrators, and hosting a giveaway for ten audiobooks.

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November 17, 2017 / Leslie

Audiobook: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

A Rapid Review

Publisher: Simon & Schuster | June 2017
Format: Audio Download | 12 hours | Rating: 5 stars
Audio Listening Level: Easy – Intermediate

Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

What’s it about . . .
Monique Grant is a little known writer. Logically, she should not be Evelyn’s first choice to write her biography. It soon becomes apparent that Monique is not only her first choice but her only choice. She will give Monique all the rights to story, and it is only to be published after her death. Monique has no idea why she was chosen and is conflicted about taking the assignment, but it is too big a coup to pass up.

Evelyn begins the fascinating story of life beginning with her arrival in Hollywood in the 1950s through three decades and seven husbands. Along the way we realize that nothing was as it appeared in the tabloids or the official accounts.

What did I think . . .
This was one of the more engaging stories I’ve read this year. It kept me entertained until the very end.

Evelyn had many secrets and much to hide. As hard as I tried to figure out the connection between her and Monique, it was not apparent until the end what Evelyn wanted to keep secret until her death. There were a few clues, but I didn’t catch them.

It’s not necessary to be a fan of Old Hollywood to enjoy this book, but it just might turn you into one!

Audio production . . .
Narrators: Alma Cuervo, Julia Whelan, Robin Miles
The story was told in alternating perspectives interspersed with readings from the tabloids of each time period. The two different voices made it easy to detect when a change of perspective occurred. And Julia Whelan’s snarky tone for the tabloid readings was a delight.

Audio Sample . . .

An Under My Apple Tree Rapid Review
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Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
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November 15, 2017 / Leslie

Wordless Wednesday: Prairie Grass

Almost wordless: Along the fence in my front yard wildflower garden.

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November 13, 2017 / Leslie

Mailbox Monday ~ November 13th

Welcome 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 week flew past and again I find myself asking where the time went.

In the past few years since I stopped working full time, I have taken on several volunteer positions with the forest preserve and an animal shelter in addition to occasional part time work and my usual hobbies. Plus I have adopted several parrots and work with the shelter birds that have special needs. This explains, in part, why my blogging and writing has slowed down this past year. With winter on the horizon and less outdoor activities for the next few months, I should have more free time. Or perhaps I need to organize better!

Last week I received a couple of print books. Seaside Summers was a surprise, and I think came from the author. This is outside of my genre, but I want to give it a shout-out for romance fans out there.

This month I am participating in the Voices on the Road blog tour sponsored by the APA and audiobook publishers. The tour runs through the month of November. Each blogger on the tour is recommending some of their favorite audiobooks and narrators, and hosting a giveaway for ten audiobooks.

New Arrivals

The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle by Leslie Connor from HarperCollins.
From the critically acclaimed author of Waiting for Normal and All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook comes a deeply poignant and beautifully crafted story about self-reliance, redemption, and hope.

Nights at Seaside (Sweet with Heat: Seaside Summers #6) by Addison Cole from the author.
Sweet with Heat: Seaside Summers features a group of fun, flirty, and emotional friends who gather each summer at their Cape Cod cottages. They’re sassy, flawed, and so easy to relate to, you’ll be begging to enter their circle of friends!

The Copyright Handbook: What Every Writer Needs to Know by Stephen Fishman from AmazonVine.
No writers like to see their hard work or creativity copied by others – or to be accused of copying. Fortunately, The Copyright Handbook provides everything you need to protect yourself! Find information and forms to help you.

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November 9, 2017 / Leslie

Voices on the Road Blog Tour & Giveaway!

November is the busiest travel month of the year, and audiobooks are the perfect travel companions. So the Audio Publishers Association is sponsoring a Voices on the Road Tour and Audiobook Giveaway.

Throughout November, bloggers will be posting about their love of audiobooks and recommending some of their favorite titles and narrators.

I love audiobooks!

Most of my regular readers know more than half of what I read and review are audiobooks. I never go anywhere without one. They keep me company while multitasking around the house and garden andaccompany me on my walks and on the road. And they let me get to more of those books that have been piling up just waiting to be read.

Audiobooks have evolved!

When I first began listening to audiobooks I only listened in the car on my tape player and then on CD. But now the books are also available in digital format and by streaming, and that has made them infinitely more portable and available everywhere. If you have a smartphone, and most of us do, you can listen anywhere!

Five of my favorite audiobooks

I have many favorites and it was difficult to narrow down the list, but here are a few I would recommend while traveling . . .

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

I often find that non-fiction or a memoir is easier to listen to than a complex novel when I am traveling or doing something that requires a little of my attention. This not only is one of my favorite books, read by a favorite narrator, but is also a good choice for listening on the road.

The use of multiple narrators enhanced the story, and there was never any confusion over who was speaking. Cassandra Campbell’s narration was a pleasure to listen to.

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson

This is another work of narrative non-fiction that kept me glued to the headphones.

For those who enjoy history, this is a thoroughly researched, fascinating account of the Lusitania. While filled with facts and details, there is nothing dry or boring here. The book is written like a novel and is narrative non-fiction at its finest. You don’t have to be a history buff to enjoy it. This is a story that many of us think we know but we really don’t.

Room by Emma Donoghue

At first I wasn’t sure if I could listen to an entire book in a child’s voice, but I needed to read this for bookclub and time was short, so I took a chance on the audio. I wasn’t expecting to like it knowing that a small child was a narrator, but instead I loved it. An ensemble cast performed the adult characters and the voice of 5-year-old Jack was portrayed with just the right amount of emotion and wonder to make him believable. A compelling, thought-provoking story that I’m glad I finally got around to reading.

Bossypants by Tina FeyBossypants by Tina Fey

I find memoirs easy to listen to when I need to pay a little attention to the task at hand, and that would include driving! Humorous memoirs are even better to listen to in the car as they make a stressful ride more enjoyable.

Tina Fey has written a hilarious, laugh-out-loud funny book and performs the narration herself. I often complain about authors not being the best narrators, but that is often the opposite in celebrity narrators, and Tina does a fastastic job.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

I saved one of the best for last! If you enjoy science fiction, or even remotely enjoy science fiction, choose the audio version of this book.

This was a fun read filled with loads of 1980s pop cultural references, a lot of it sci-fi, and perfect for the geek in me. And to make it even better, it is narrated by Wil Wheaton (geeks know him from Star Trek and more recently, Big Bang Theory). His narration is outstanding: The characters, the pacing, the action, the voices are just perfect.

Win Audiobooks!

And now for the giveaway — a fantastic selection of 10 audiobooks (TBD by the publishers) that have been generously donated by Galaxy Press, Hachette Audio, Harper Audio, High Bridge Audio, Macmillan, Penguin Random House Audio, and Post Hypnotic Press, Scholastic, Simon & Schuster Audio, and Tantor Audio.

Fill out the form below on or before midnight, November 30th. I will draw one random winner (US/Canada only) and they will be notified by email. That’s it. Easy!
 

 

For more great audiobook recommendations, check out the full blog tour schedule.

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November 8, 2017 / Leslie

Wordless Wednesday: Wildflower – End of the Season


Almost wordless: A few weeks ago on the prairie.

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November 2, 2017 / Leslie

Rapid Review: How Not to Kill Your Houseplant

A Rapid Review

Survival Tips for the Horticulturally Challenged

Author: Veronica Peerless
Publisher: DK Publishing | August 2017
Format: Hardcover | Rating: 4 stars

Can’t keep a houseplant alive, no matter how hard you try to how good your intentions are? This is the book for you. You need this book. Give plants a chance.

What’s it about . . .
This is a brief reference book aimed at those who know little about houseplants. It’s perfect for those folks who are gifted or purchase a cute plant and then mysteriously watch it die… over and over again. This book might help them keep their plant alive.

The book begins with a section called “The Basics”, which covers how to buy the plant, where to put it, how to water it, how to feed it, and how to spot pests and diseases. Don’t know the name of your plant? The beginning of the section has an eight page index of illustrations for you to look at to identify your plant and find it in the book. Each plant has several pages of information including full color photos and details on what that plants requires to survive indoors. My advice: Keep the little stick that comes in the starter pot. It has valuable information on it about food, light, and watering needs.

What did I think . . .
So will this book help the noobie? Yes, but it is not going to cover every scenario. However, it will help people give their plant a fighting chance by giving it the right amount of light, the correct room temperature, and a proper watering schedule. In my experience, overwatering is the biggest killer of plants. The roots can survive a lack of light, less than ideal temperatures, and even underwatering, but too much water causes the plant to rot and die.

The book is also a handy quick-reference guide. I consider myself to have a green thumb and a lot of what I do is instinctive. But once in a while I don’t know a plant’s name and the index of illustrations has already proven helpful. Will it solve all your problems? No, but it’s a good start for the horticulturally challenged and is written in an approachable, friendly manner.

An Under My Apple Tree Rapid Review
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Source: Review copy provided by the publisher through AmazonVine.
© 2017 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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