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January 18, 2017 / Leslie

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North

A Rapid Reviewharryaugust

Publisher: Redhook | April 2014
Format: eGalley | Rating: 3 stars
Genre: Science Fiction

No matter what he does or the decisions he makes, when death comes, Harry always returns to where he began, a child with all the knowledge of a life he has already lived a dozen times before. Nothing ever changes.

Until now.

What’s it about . . .
The story has a great premise — Harry and a small number of others like him are destined to live their lives over and over again. No matter how they die, they are reborn and live the same life. Nothing ever changes … until someone in their group begins interfering.

What did I think . . .
The book was promoted as a time travel story, but it really isn’t. It’s more like Groundhog Day, only Harry remembers and repeats an entire life instead of just one day.

A lot of people loved this book, but I had a difficult time getting into it. It was a slow read for most of the book, probably because I had trouble caring about Harry’s lives. Plus his lives are presented out of order making it a little more confusing than necessary to follow the timeline.

The mystery of who is changing things and why kept me interested enough to keep reading. The last quarter of the book does pick up and we finally find out what is happening, but it was an arduous journey to get there.

An Under My Apple Tree Rapid Review
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Source: Review copy provided by NetGalley.
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January 16, 2017 / Leslie

Mailbox Monday ~ January 16th

WinterBirdsMailbox-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 this week . . .

January is Vintage Scifi Month, and when I saw that The Lathe of Heaven, a classic scifi novel that I never got around to reading, was being re-released in audio, I just had to request it.

Even though I have a backlog of NetGalley reads, I couldn’t resist adding two more. I’ll just have to read a little faster.

New Arrivals

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Dragon Springs Road by Janie Chang from William Morrow.
From the author of Three Souls comes a vividly imagined and haunting new novel set in early 20th century Shanghai—a story of friendship, heartbreak, and history that follows a young Eurasian orphan’s search for her long-lost mother.

The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin from Recorded Books.
A classic science fiction novel by one of the greatest writers of the genre, set in a future world where one man’s dreams control the fate of humanity.

From NetGalley

wanderersillwill

The Wanderers by Meg Howrey
Station Eleven meets The Martian in this brilliantly inventive novel about three astronauts training for the first-ever mission to Mars, an experience that will push the boundary between real and unreal, test their relationships, and leave each of them—and their families—changed forever.

Ill Will by Dan Chaon
Two sensational unsolved crimes—one in the past, another in the present—are linked by one man’s memory and self-deception in this chilling novel of literary suspense from National Book Award finalist Dan Chaon.

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January 11, 2017 / Leslie

Favorite Books of 2016

I know, this is a bit late. I intended to post this the last week of December, and then life got in the way.

I read only 52 books this year, down a bit from previous years. Blogging was also down. My additional roles at the bird shelter have taken up a chunk of my previously “free” time. In addition to working on the adoption committee, I am also the Treasurer and administrator of our Facebook page. (Feel free to like and follow us. We encourage people to adopt, not shop!)

Two Favorites That Stood Out

I usually don’t rank my favorites but rather just list them. This year two stood out as especially memorable: The Never Open Desert Diner and Dark Matter.

Never-Open-Desert Diner3DarkMatter

The Never Open Desert Diner by James Anderson.
A surprise hit for me; a literary noir mystery with the desert as a main character. This is an original, well-plotted tale, both haunting and beautiful, that left me thinking about it long after I’d finished the book.

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch.
I had a feeling I would like this book before I even started it, and I was right. I loved it. It’s a fascinating journey through alternate realities that becomes more and more complex as our protagonist attempts to make his way back to his own timeline. Yes, there is science and physics involved, but the author does a wonderful job of making it understandable. Even if one is not into the science, there is a great mystery and adventure story here.

Three More Favorites

versioncontrol-printgoodmorningmidnight-printAtomic Weight of Love

Version Control by Dexter Palmer.
This is a time travel story but not the action-adventure type. I would call it literary science fiction. There is character development and a complex plot. The device causing the time travel isn’t even referred to as a time machine — it’s a causality violation device. It’s set about 10 years in the future, but it’s very relatable to the present day with our technology and social media. I listened to this in audio, and there were a few times I had to back up to be clear on the details — events keep changing as we travel back in time — but it was worth the extra work.

Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton.
An aging astronomer and an astronaut tell their stories in alternating viewpoints after an unknown catastrophic event causes all communications on earth to shut down. I enjoyed the parallel stories of these two scientists that gave up their families for the work they loved. A thoughtful, haunting, and at times beautiful look at what the end of the world as we know it might feel like.

The Atomic Weight of Love by Elizabeth J. Church.
In the 1940s, one woman’s dreams of becoming an ornithologist are interrupted when she falls in love with a physicist working on the atomic bomb. From the cover of the book one would think it is about birds — it’s not, although they do play a role in the story and those who enjoy reading about birds will find the references interesting. What I enjoyed about the story was the beautiful writing and the way it captured the essence of mid-century America and women’s roles, expectations, and evolution.

Non-Fiction Favorites

Both of my non-fiction favorites were books chosen by my book club.

justmercydeadwake-print

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson.
I had not heard of this book until it was chosen for my book club. It is a memoir by a young, idealistic lawyer who founded a legal practice dedicated to defending the unjustly convicted and those most desperate and in need. This is a chilling account of just how broken our justice system is and the difference one person can make in the lives of so many.

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson.
This is a thoroughly researched, fascinating history 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.

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January 9, 2017 / Leslie

Mailbox Monday ~ January 9th

WinterBirdsMailbox-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 few new books in my mailbox this past week.

New Arrivals

booksjan9_20170108_165950

Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly from William Morrow.
Set against the backdrop of the Jim Crow South and the civil rights movement, the never-before-told true story of NASA’s African-American female mathematicians who played a crucial role in America’s space program—and whose contributions have been unheralded, until now.

Marlene by C.W. Gortner from William Morrow.
A lush, dramatic biographical novel of one of the most glamorous and alluring legends of Hollywood’s golden age, Marlene Dietrich—from the gender-bending cabarets of Weimar Berlin to the lush film studios of Hollywood, a sweeping story of passion, glamour, ambition, art, and war.

The Original Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig
A compulsively readable and touching novel about being an outsider trying to find a place to belong and making sense of a world that just doesn’t seem to add up.

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January 5, 2017 / Leslie

Happy National Bird Day

Greetings from my flock . . .

What is National Bird Day?

National Bird Day is on January 5 each year, as it’s scheduled to coincide with the end of the annual Christmas Bird Count. The Christmas Bird Count has been going on for more than a decade. It lasts three weeks and is the longest running citizen science survey in the world that helps to monitor the health of our nation’s birds. Birders and the public go out and count as many birds as they can see during the count.

The reason National Bird Day falls on January 5 is that, for three weeks, the country is focused on native birds and wild populations. Once that period ends, we begin to focus on captive birds (who mainly consist of bird species that are native to other countries, but who are kept in captivity in the U.S.). January 5 is the new beginning for captive birds!

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January 4, 2017 / Leslie

Wordless Wednesday: American Tree Sparrow

americantreesparrow_img_5733

Almost wordless: During the last cold spell I noticed a sparrow that looked a little larger than the usual House Sparrows that hang out at my feeder. It was an American Tree Sparrow. Notice the spot on the chest, the rusty cap, dark feet, and the bi-colored bill. They are migratory birds that spend the summer in Canada and winter in the US. They usually hang out in small flocks at the forest edge but will readily visit feeders. This little guy was here for a week, probably separated from his flock.

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January 2, 2017 / Leslie

Mailbox Monday ~ January 2nd

WinterBirdsMailbox-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.


 

One new book last week which was also my choice for First Book of the Year.

New Arrivals

booksjan2_20170101_225435

Ninth City Burning by J. Patrick Black from FSB Associates and Ace Books.
Centuries of war with aliens threaten the future of human civilization on earth in this gripping, epic science fiction debut.

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