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February 20, 2017 / Leslie

Mailbox Monday ~ February 20th

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.


 
Happy Monday! I’m tempted to say Happy Spring because our weather has been so nice. As much as I wanted to start cleaning up the garden, I know better. The cold is on its way back next week.

Here’s what arrived last week . . .

New Arrivals

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Fatal Option by Chris Beakey from Post Hill Press.
A tragic accident. A family in crisis. And a killer watching every move.

Good Birders Still Don’t Wear White from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Avid North American birders share wit, wisdom, advice, and what fuels their passion for birds.

The Confessions of Young Nero by Margaret George from Berkley.
The story of a boy’s ruthless ascension to the throne. Detailing his journey from innocent youth to infamous ruler, it is an epic tale of the lengths to which man will go in the ultimate quest for power and survival.

Celestial Mechanics: A Tale for a Mid-Winter Night by William Least Heat-Moon from Three Rooms Press.
Celestial Mechanics embarks on a quest through the mind and wrestles with life’s major questions, like the Cosmos, knowledge, and truly being alive.

The Best of Adam Sharp by Graeme Simsion from St. Martin’s Press.
An unforgettable new novel about lost love and second chances.

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February 18, 2017 / Leslie

2017 Great Backyard Bird Count

The Great Backyard Bird Count takes place this weekend, February 17 – 20. 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.

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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.

I’ve been participating in the count for quite a few years and this is the first time I can remember having spring-like weather for the entire weekend. Because it’s so pleasant, I’m out walking the trails instead of looking out my window and counting the birds in the backyard.

Spring Migration is About To Begin

The reason the count originated as a February event was to create a snapshot of the distribution of birds just before spring migration 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.

Red-winged Blackbird Male

On my walk this morning I saw several Red-winged Blackbirds already scouting the prairie wetlands and calling out to defend their newly claimed territory. Females won’t arrive until next month.

Northern Cardinals and Song Sparrows were singing, House Sparrows were chattering, and the small pond had over 25 Mallards swimming around – a sure sign spring is near.

Want to Participate in the Count?

There’s still a few more days to count. Head on over to the GBBC start-up page and join in.

 


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February 13, 2017 / Leslie

Mailbox Monday ~ February 13th

valentinemailboxWelcome 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.


 
Some new audio books . . .

Audio Downloads

lincolnmyhusbandswife

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders from Random House.
The long-awaited first novel from the author of Tenth of December a moving and original father-son story featuring none other than Abraham Lincoln, as well as an unforgettable cast of supporting characters, living and dead, historical and invented.

My Husband’s Wife by Jane Corry from Penguin Audio.
When young lawyer Lily marries Ed, she’s determined to make a fresh start. To leave the secrets of the past behind. But then she takes on her first murder case and meets Joe. A convicted murderer whom Lily is strangely drawn to. Whom she will soon be willing to risk anything for.

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I See You by Clare Mackintosh from Penguin Audio.
An edge-of-your-seat, page-turning psychological thriller from one of the most exciting and successful British debut talents of 2015.

Setting Free the Kites by Alex George from Penguin Audio.
A powerful story of two friends and the unintended consequences of friendship, loss, and hope.

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February 11, 2017 / Leslie

Audiobook: Operation Happiness by Kristi Ling

A Rapid Review

operationhappinessThe 3-Step Plan to Creating a Life of Lasting Joy, Abundant Energy, and Radical Bliss

Publisher: Blackstone Audio | December 2016
Format: Audio CD | 7½ hours | Rating: 4 stars
Audio Listening Level: Easy

Happiness strategist and life coach Kristi Ling teaches you how to create immediate, positive shifts in your life by proving that happiness is a skill that can be cultivated, learned, and mastered – much like playing an instrument.

What’s it about . . .
The author draws from her own experiences, at times giving this the feel of a memoir. Struggling through a divorce, an illness, and a career change, she discovered that happiness was not only a choice, but a skill that could be learned. She outlines three steps to take on the road to happiness: Change your view, change you mornings, and create new habits.

What did I think . . .
I wasn’t feeling unhappy when I decided to listen to this book, but when I received a copy for review I figured everyone can use a little extra happiness, so I gave it a try.

I was pleasantly surprised to find many of her life-changing suggestions are very doable for most people. Sure, buy a new house, take a month off of work, or go on a solo vacation are not an option for everyone, but hiking, escaping through reading, volunteering, or going to a movie alone are within most people’s reach.

The advice to ask yourself “what speaks to your soul” resonates with me and is something I had already done. Regular visitors here know I love birds and nature. When I’m out on the nature trails monitoring or photographing birds, I am blissfully happy and unaware of the passage time. My pet birds give me joy. Gardening is my therapy.

I enjoyed this inspirational and uplifting book. While I am already doing some of steps to happiness, I found several more that I will incorporate, notably, a change in mindset (anything is possible) and creating new habits (reinvent my sluggish morning routine).

Audio production . . .
The book was narrated by the author, Kristi Ling. I’m not always a fan of author’s reading their own books, but not in this case. Her cheerful, uplifting tone is very listenable, and her enthusiasm for the subject is inspiring.

Audio Sample:
[Audio Sample on Downpour.]

An Under My Apple Tree Rapid Review
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Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
© 2017 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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February 10, 2017 / Leslie

All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai

A Rapid Reviewwrongtodays

Publisher: Dutton Books, Penguin Audio | February 2017
Format: 384 Pages | 10 hours | Rating: 4½ stars
Audio Listening Level: Intermediate

All Our Wrong Todays is about the versions of ourselves that we shed and grow into over time. It is a story of friendship and family, of unexpected journeys and alternate paths, and of love in its multitude of forms. Filled with humor and heart, and saturated with insight and intelligence and a mind-bending talent for invention, this novel signals the arrival of a major talent.

What’s it about . . .
Tom Barren comes from an alternate year 2016. The world he lives in is the one people in the 1950s imagined we would have — flying cars, moving sidewalks, moon bases, unlimited energy and resources, and time-travel. When Tom makes a trip to the past to observe a historic occasion, he accidentally interferes and changes the future. He activates the emergency recall back to 2016, but when he gets back he finds himself in our 2016 instead of the one he came from.

What did I think . . .
This is a clever twist on the time-travel theme. Once Tom returns to the present, he needs to adjust to a lot of changes. The timeline had diverged with some subtle changes and some quite drastic. There is some science and techo stuff, but this is also a story about relationships – Tom’s family, his girlfriend, his career.

The story is told mostly in the first person and had the feel of a memoir. The book does switch to the third person a few times and we get a summary or recap of what has happened to Tom. The beginning was a little slow but picks up once we get past the initial world building. Most of the book takes place in our timeline, but we need to know about Tom’s world in order to understand him.

I found the story lighthearted, entertaining, and at times humorous. While this is definitely scifi, it’s not confusing or difficult to follow, and there is enough story about relationships and even a few romances to keep other genre readers entertained.

Audio production
I read the eGalley and also listened to the audio. The narration was performed by the author. While it very listenable and pleasant, and he gave the character Tom a lot of feeling, at times the pacing was uneven.

I am not usually a fan of author’s reading their own books unless they are a professional speaker or actor. I listen to a lot of audio so I notice the difference right away. However, despite the uneven pacing, this was good, and I would recommend giving the audiobook a try for those who enjoy the format.

Audio Sample:

An Under My Apple Tree Rapid Review
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Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
© 2017 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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February 8, 2017 / Leslie

Wordless Wednesday: Mrs. Cardinal

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Almost wordless: Always nice to see Mrs. Cardinal at the feeder. She’s a bit shy, though, so I had to take this from a distance.

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More Wordless Wednesday. © 2017 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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February 6, 2017 / Leslie

Mailbox Monday ~ February 6th

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.


 
Happy Monday! Wow, this week sure flew by.

I’m not a football fan, but I did stop what I was doing yesterday to watch the Super Bowl half-time festivities and the overtime at the end. Since Chicago did not have a team in the game, I chose to cheer for the birds, I mean, Falcons. Hope I didn’t jinx them!

A couple of new books last week. I like it when the cover colors coordinate so nicely!

New Arrivals

booksfeb5_20170205_164821

Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard from Blackstone Audio.
The day Adam Dunne’s girlfriend, Sarah, fails to return from a Barcelona business trip, his perfect life begins to fall apart. Days later, the arrival of her passport and a note that reads “I’m sorry–S” sets off real alarm bells.

Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson from LibraryThing.
A classic nail-biter about a troubled young woman in jeopardy. This novel echoes those of Patricia Highsmith at her best.

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