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April 19, 2017 / Leslie

Wordless Wednesday: Serviceberry Blossom

I’m happy to see all the trees budding and blossoming even if it does mean allergy season is here!

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April 18, 2017 / Leslie

I’ll Take You There by Wally Lamb

A Rapid Review

Publisher: Harper | November 2016
Rating: 3½ stars

An evocative, deeply affecting tapestry of one Baby Boomer’s life—Felix Funicello, introduced in Wishin’ and Hopin’—and the trio of unforgettable women who have changed it.

What’s it about . . .
Felix, an aging baby-boomer, turned 60 this past year. He is a film scholar and runs a film club in an old vaudeville theater.

One evening while setting up for a film, Felix is visited by the ghost of Lois Weber, a little known but innovative silent film director, and Billie Dove, an actress from the same era. They invite Felix to relive scenes from his childhood as they are magically projected on the screen.

The ghostly ladies return again and again, and these encounters help Felix gain a better understanding of the women in his life. He begins to look forward to his visits with Lois and her other ghostly friends.

What did I think . . .
I enjoyed the writing, and the ghosts were an interesting technique to allow Felix to travel back in time to visit with three important women from his life, but this story never really took off for me. There were some family secrets and drama revealed, and a look at feminism and the politics of the past, but nothing earth shattering or new.

I couldn’t decide if this book was intended as a nostalgic trip for baby boomers, or an education aimed at millennials. Either way, it was a pleasant read but not as engrossing as some of the author’s other novels.

An Under My Apple Tree Rapid Review
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Source: Review copy provided by Harper.
© 2017 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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April 17, 2017 / Leslie

Mailbox Monday ~ April 17th

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.


 
Happy Monday! It feels like spring is finally here.

As soon as I finish up filing these pesky tax returns, I may go outside and enjoy some garden time. And yes, I know I’ve waited until the last minute. As a former property tax consultant, tax forms are not my favorite way to spend a day or two, so I tend to procrastinate – a lot!

New Arrivals

The Space Between the Stars by Anne Corlett
One woman must confront the emptiness in the universe—and in her own heart—when a devastating virus reduces most of humanity to dust and memories.

‘Round Midnight by Laura McBride
A novel about the interconnected lives of four women in Las Vegas, each of whom experiences a life-changing moment at a classic casino nightclub.

Secrets of the Tulip Sisters by Susan Mallery
A Captivating Story about Sisters, Secrets and Second Chances.

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April 12, 2017 / Leslie

Wordless Wednesday: Early Spring Wildflower

Almost wordless: I discovered this cheerful little flower when I was cleaning up one of my wildflower gardens.

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More Wordless Wednesday. © 2017 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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April 10, 2017 / Leslie

Mailbox Monday ~ April 10th

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 good week for books . . .

New Arrivals

Cocoa Beach by Beatriz Williams from by William Morrow
The author of A Certain Age transports readers to sunny Florida in this lush and enthralling historical novel—an enchanting blend of love, suspense, betrayal, and redemption set among the rum runners and scoundrels of Prohibition-era Cocoa Beach.

Heartthrobs: A History of Women and Desire by Carol Dyhouse by Oxford University Press.
From dreams of Prince Charming or dashing military heroes, to the lure of dark strangers and vampire lovers; from rock stars and rebels to soulmates, dependable family types or simply good companions, female fantasies about men tell us as much about the history of women as about masculine icons.

Shadow Man by Alan Drew from Random House.
What Dennis Lehane does for Boston, Alan Drew does for Southern California in this gritty thriller about an idyllic community rocked by a serial killer—and a dark secret.

Where Dead Men Meet by Mark Mills from Blackstone Audio.
From the author of the bestselling Savage Garden, and set against a terrific backdrop of Europe on the cusp of the Second World War, this is a compelling novel, rich in adventure, espionage, secrets, and lies.

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© 2017 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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April 8, 2017 / Leslie

Review: Celine by Peter Heller

A Rapid Review

Publisher: Random House Audio | March 2017
Format: Audio Download | 11½ hours | Rating: 3½ stars
Audio Listening Level: Easy – Intermediate

The story of Celine, an elegant, aristocratic private eye who specializes in reuniting families, trying to make amends for a loss in her own past.

What’s it about . . .
Celine is a private eye who specializes in tracking down missing persons. Gabriella is searching for her father, a National Geographic photographer, who was thought to have been killed by a grizzly bear, although no body was ever recovered. Celine, a complex, feisty woman now in her 80s, is very selective about the cases she takes, but agrees to help Gabriella.

What did I think . . .
I would call this a mystery, but not a typical who-done-it. The story is very literary and beautifully written, and the mystery itself takes a back seat to the life story of Celine. Using frequent jumps back in time, we alternate between the past and the present to learn about Celine’s backstory. Celine is the most developed character, and while we do learn a little about Gabriella, I would have liked more.

While I enjoyed the story, I didn’t like it as much as one of the author’s previous books, The Dog Stars, but maybe I have set the bar too high. I loved Dog Stars and it is a favorite of mine. The writing is what made this novel especially enjoyable. Descriptive scenes, particularly Yellowstone Park, were captivating.

By the end of the novel, the mystery is solved and Gabriella has her answers: Perhaps a little too neatly, but an ending that should satisfy most. But there are still many unanswered questions about Celine. Perhaps a sequel?

Audio production
The audio was read by Kimberly Farr. Using a fair amount of emotion, smooth pacing, and appropriate inflection made this a pleasant book to listen to.

The audio format is a good choice for both experienced listeners and those new to the format. The story is easy to follow even with the jumps back and forth in time.

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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April 3, 2017 / Leslie

Mailbox Monday ~ April 3rd

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 good week for books . . . much nicer than finding bills in the mailbox!

New Arrivals

The Forbidden Garden by Ellen Herrick from by William Morrow Paperbacks
At the nursery she runs with her sisters on the New England coast, Sorrel Sparrow has honed her rare gift for nurturing plants and flowers. Now that reputation, and a stroke of good timing, lands Sorrel an unexpected opportunity: reviving a long-dormant Shakespearean garden on an English country estate.

Rigor Mortis by Richard F. Harris from Basic Books.
How Sloppy Science Creates Worthless Cures, Crushes Hope, and Wastes Billions

Ten Dead Comedians by Fred Van Lente from Quirk Books.
A darkly clever take on Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None and other classics of the genre, Ten Dead Comedians is a marvel of literary ventriloquism, with hilarious comic monologues in the voice of every suspect. It’s also an ingeniously plotted puzzler with a twist you’ll never see coming!

The Breakdown by B.A. Paris from St. Martin’s Press.
Cass is having a hard time since the night she saw the car in the woods, on the winding rural road, in the middle of a downpour, with the woman sitting inside—the woman who was killed. She’s been trying to put the crime out of her mind; what could she have done, really? It’s a dangerous road to be on in the middle of a storm. . .

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© 2017 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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