Monthly Archives: March 2012

Saturday Snapshot

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce of At Home With Books.  It’s easy to participate – just post a picture that was taken by you, a friend, or a family member and add your link on Alyce’s site.   Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online.

My photos for this Saturday Snapshot are from our trip to TX for Spring Break last week.  We got to visit a lot of friends and family, and we saw a bunch of Austin Favorite’s.

This is my little heart on one of the concrete bulls at the Arboretum.

We visited the Elisabet Ney museum.  Here is some background on the museum and the sculptor, Elisabet Ney (from the Lone Star Junction).

“A pioneer in the development of art in Texas, Elisabet Ney was born in Munster, Westphalia, Germany on January 26, 1833.  She became the first woman sculpture student accepted in the Munich Art Academy.  Her talents were soon recognized, and she received commissions to model a number of famous men, including Bismark, Garibaldi, Schopenhauer, and King Ludwig II of Bavaria.

While visiting a friend in Heidelberg, Elisabet met and fell in love with Edmund Montgomery, a respected physician, scientist and philosopher. They were later married, but Elisabet continued to use her maiden name.

About 1870, Ney and Montgomery decided to move to America. After living in Georgia for two years, they chose Texas in 1872 as their permanent home. In Texas, they purchased the Groce Plantation near Hempstead, a well known landmark of antebellum Texas. The couple spent the next two decades centered around the plantation, which they named Liendo.

After a twenty year lapse, Elisabet resumed her career as a sculptress in 1892. She was commissioned to model Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin for the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. The sculptures of Houston and Austin can now be seen in both the State capitol in Austin and in the National Capitol in Washington, DC.

Ney established a studio in Austin, which she named Formosa. Over the span of her long career, she produced about one hundred portraits, statues, and medallions. Most of these are displayed today at Formosa, which was preserved as a memorial and museum after Ney’s death in 1907.”

 A mold used for sculpting.

This is standing in the center of the lower floor looking up at the Texas State Capitol building in Austin, TX.

These original chandeliers, 124 years old, are in both the Senate and the House rooms – notice the shape spelled out by the bulbs – T-E-X-A-S.

This photo is taken from the fourth floor balcony (the highest level currently open to the public), looking down – this star on the floor mirrors the star in the center of the ceiling.  On closer inspection you can see a crack in the star on the ground level – many years ago a painter was on a scaffold on one of the upper levels painting.  The scaffolding broke, and he plummeted to granite floor – leaving a crack in the star.  Another fact – when you are standing on the star on the ground floor, when you speak it creates an echo – but only you can hear it.

This is zooming in on the outside of the Capitol building. The statue, named “The Goddess of Liberty”, was placed on the dome of the Capitol in Feb., 1888.

Wildflowers on FM 304 in Bastrop, TX

And no trip to TX in the Spring would be complete without photos of Blue Bonnets.



Filed under Saturday Snapshot

Mailbox Monday

 I have been MIA for about a week – we went on Spring Break, and I had the best of intentions to blog while we vacationed, but it didn’t work out as I planned – but I’m back and will hopefully back on schedule!

Welcome to Mailbox Monday, a meme started by Marcia of  A Girl and Her Books.  The host for March’s Mailbox Monday posts will be Anna from  Diary of an Eccentric.

Mailbox Monday is a gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week and explore great book blogs.

Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.

Here are the books I got in the mail this week:

Wife 22 by Melanie Gideon from Ballentine Books

“Maybe it was my droopy eyelids.

Maybe it was because I was about to turn the same age my mother was when I lost her.

Maybe it was because after almost twenty years of marriage my husband and I seemed to be running out of things to say to each other.

But when an anonymous online study called “Marriage in the 21st Century” showed up in my inbox, I had no idea how profoundly it would change my life.  It wasn’t long before I was assigned both a pseudonym (Wife 22) and a caseworker (Researcher 101).  And, just like that, i found myself answering questions…

7. Sometimes I tell him he’s snoring when he’s not snoring so he’ll sleep in the guest room and I can have the bed all to myself.

61. He was cutting peppers for the salad.  I looked at those hands and thought, I am going to have that man’s children.

32. That if we weren’t careful, it was possible to forget one another.

Before the study, my life was an endless blur of school lunches and doctor’s appointments, family dinners and budgets.  I was Alice Buckle; spouse of William and mother to Zoe and Peter, drama teacher and Facebook chatter, downloader of memories and Googler of solutions.

But these days, I’m also Wife 22.  And somehow, my anonymous correspondence with Researcher 101 has taken an unexpected turn.  Soon, I’ll have to make a decision – one that will affect my family, my marriage, my whole life.  But at that moment, I’m too busy answering questions.

As it turns out, confession can be a very powerful aphrodisiac.”

The Red House by Mark Haddon from Doubleday

“The setup of Mark Haddon’s brilliant new novel is simple: Richard, a wealthy doctor, invites his estranged sister, Angela, and her family to join his family for a week at a vacation home in the English countryside.  Richard has just remarried and acquired a willful step-daugther in the process; Angela has a feckless husband and three children who sometimes seem alien to her.  The stage is set for seven days of resentment and guilt, staples of family gatherings the world over.”

Full Body Burden: Growing Up in the Nuclear Shadows of Rocky Flats by Kristen Iversen from The Crown Publishing Group

Full Body Burden is a haunting work of narrative nonfiction about a young woman growing up in a small Colorado town close to Rocky Flats, a secret nuclear-weapons plant once designated “the most contaminated site in America.”  It’s the story of growing up in the shadow of the Cold War, in a landscape at once startlingly beautiful and – unknown to those who lived there – tainted with invisible yet deadly particles of plutonium.

It’s also a book about the destructive power of secrets – both family secrets and government secrets.  Her father’s hidden liquor bottles, the strange cancers in children in the neighborhood, the truth about what they made at Rocky Flats (cleaning supplies, her mother guessed) – best not to inquire too deeply into any of it.  But as Iversen grew older, she began to ask questions.  And as this memoir unfolds, it reveals itself as a brilliant work of investigative journalism – a shocking account of the government’s sustained attempt to conceal the effects of the toxic and radioactive waste released by Rocky Flats, and of local residents’ vain attempts to seek justice in court.  Based on extensive interviews, FBI and EPA documents, and class-action testimony, this taut, beautiful fully written book promises to have a very long half-life.”

I also received some ARC E-books, and, as a wonderful present from my sweet hubby, a Kindle Fire.  I read four books on it last week while we were on vacation.

Here is what I received:

The Stone Girl by Alyssa B. Sheinmel from Random House Publishing House

She feels like a creature out of a fairy tale; a girl who discovers that her bones are really made out of stone, that her skin is really as thin as glass, that her hair is brittle as straw, that her tears have dried up so that she cries only salt. Maybe that’s why it doesn’t hurt when she presses hard enough to begin bleeding: it doesn’t hurt, because she’s not real anymore.

Sethie Weiss is hungry, a mean, angry kind of hunger that feels like a piece of glass in her belly. She’s managed to get down to 111 pounds and knows that with a little more hard work—a few more meals skipped, a few more snacks vomited away—she can force the number on the scale even lower. She will work on her body the same way she worked to get her perfect grades, to finish her college applications early, to get her first kiss from Shaw, the boy she loves, the boy who isn’t quite her boyfriend.

Sethie will not allow herself one slip, not one bad day, not one break in concentration. Her body is there for her to work on when everything and everyone else—her best friend, her schoolwork, and Shaw—are gone.”


The Last Titanic Story by Chris Angus from Iguana Books

“What could possibly connect the famous sinking of the Titanic in 1912 with a WW II German U-boat loaded with a mysterious cargo? One of the mysteries has to do with the fabulous lost contents of the Titanic‘s safe, belonging to the great ship’s most famous passenger, John Jacob Astor.

The connection is discovered by Laura Engalls, an anthropologist working with the Inuit in current day Greenland. She is shown a diary kept by sixteen-year-old Samuel Meade. The small, aging leather booklet describes an almost unimaginable ordeal endured by Samuel and his companions, the last unaccounted for passengers of the ill-fated Titanic.

Engalls enlists the help of reporter Matt Mosher, author of a book on the Titanic. Together, they begin an adventure that takes them back to the ice fields of Greenland, where they soon discover they are not the only ones trying to unravel the mystery.

What ensues is a tale of intrigue, international thievery and murder that ranges across the century from the sinking of the famous ship to the machinations of modern day neo-Nazis to the involvement of Adolf Hitler himself, who inexplicably makes a journey to Greenland during the depths of WW II. The final confrontation between the Nazis and the Inuit may be the only such encounter in modern fiction.”

The Mapmaker and the Ghost by Sarvenaz Tash from Bloomsbury Children’s Books

“Goldenrod Moram loves adventure, especially when it comes in the form of mapmaking. An avid fan of the legendary explorers Lewis and Clark, she decides to start her own exploring team, the Legendary Adventurers, and to spend her summer vacation discovering the unmapped forest right behind her home. This simple task is complicated by a series of unique events-a chance encounter with a mysterious old lady has her searching for a legendary blue rose. Another, more unfortunate, encounter lands her in the middle of a ragtag bunch of nicknamed ruffians. Throw in the trapped spirit of Meriwether Lewis himself and her well-meaning but nuisance of a little brother, and Goldenrod Moram is in for the quest of a lifetime . . .”

The Orphanmaster by Jean Zimmerman from Penguin Group

“It’s 1663 in the tiny, hardscrabble Dutch colony of New Amsterdam, now present-day southern Manhattan. Orphan children are going missing, and among those looking into the mysterious state of affairs are a quick-witted twenty-two-year-old trader, Blandine von Couvering, herself an orphan, and a dashing British spy named Edward Drummond.

Suspects abound, including the governor’s wealthy nephew, a green-eyed aristocrat with decadent tastes; an Algonquin trapper who may be possessed by a demon that turns people into cannibals; and the colony’s own corrupt and conflicted orphanmaster. Both the search for the killer and Edward and Blandine’s newfound romance are endangered, however, when Blandine is accused of being a witch and Edward is sentenced to hang for espionage. Meanwhile, war looms as the English king plans to wrest control of the colony.”

And because of my sweet husband’s gift of a Kindle, I also purchased some E-Books:

Sundered by Shannon Mayer

Bound by Shannon Mayer

Dauntless  by Shannon Mayer

Hollowland by Amanda Hocking

Hollowmen by Amanda Hocking

Grave New World by S. P. Blackmore.

What new books made their way to your house this week?


Filed under Mailbox Monday, reading

Mailbox Monday

Welcome to Mailbox Monday, a meme started by Marcia of  A Girl and Her Books.  The host for March’s Mailbox Monday posts will be Anna from  Diary of an Eccentric.

Mailbox Monday is a gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week and explore great book blogs.

Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.

Here are the books I got in the mail this week:

Prague Fatale by Philip Kerr from Penguin Group – releases April 17, 2012

“After more than a decade as an investigator in Berlin’s Kripo, Bernie Gunther quit the force as the Nazis rose to power, setting himself up as a private detective.  But as head of the SS, Reichsprotector Reinhard Heydrich has brought Kripo under his own control and forced Bernie back to police work.  Now Bernie is a member of an organization he despises, unhappily reunited with a man he both hates and fears.  Heydrich suspects that everyone around him is a potential assassin, and he engages Bernie as his bodyguard.  Yet it’s not Heydrich who is murdered, but his young adjutant.  And Bernie must pick through the lives and motivations of some of the Reich’s most odious officials to find the killer.”

Sacrilege by S. J. Parris from Doubleday – releases April 10, 2012.

“Summer, 1584: Beneath a baking sun, rumors of a plague ship docking in the Thames send a wave of fear through the streets of London.  Radical philosopher, ex-monk, and spy Giordana Bruno suspects he is being followed.  He is shocked to discover his pursuer is Sophia Underhill, a woman with whom he was once in love.  Disguised as a boy, Sophia has come to seek Bruno’s help after being accused of murdering her much older husband, a prominent magistrate in Canterbury.

Using a false identity, Bruno befriends the wayward son of Sophia’s murdered husband and begins to uncover secrets about the dead man.  Why did he change his will shortly before he was killed?  What was his connection with the mysterious Widow Gray and her mute son?

When Bruno discovers evidence of a horrific crime in the cellar of the dead man’s house, the stakes of the game change, and he must turn his detective’s eye on history – to Saint Thomas Becket, the twelfth-century archbishop murdered in Canterbury Cathedral, whose tomb was supposedly destroyed years ago.  As legend has it, the body of St. Thomas was removed in the nick of time and has been guarded in a secret crypt ever since by a cabal of men who believe his bones have miraculous powers.

Bruno’s investigations unravel a lucrative plot to restore the pilgrim’s shrine.  But as his feelings for Sophia grow more complicated and intense, so does his fear that another murder – perhaps his own – is about to take place.”

Strindberg’s Star by Jan Wallentin from Viking.  Releases May 24, 2012.

“1897, The Arctic: Nils Strindberg crashes his hydrogen balloon during the mysterious Andree Expedition to the North Pole.

1942, Germany: Gruesome and inexplicable experiments are performed on concentration camp prisoners.

Present-Day Sweden: Cave diver Erik Hall finds a dead body wearing an ancient ankh, buried deep in an abandoned mine.  Religious symbol expert Don Titleman seeks out Erik to study the ankh – but finds Erik dead.  Don is the prime suspect, and soon he’s being chased across Europe to escape a secret society that will do anything to get its hands on the ankh…”

E-book ARC’s I received this week:

Out of the Blue by Vanita Oelschlager from Vanita Books LLC.

Out of the Blue shows children the magic of idioms – words that separately have one meaning, but together take on something entirely different.
Children are curious about words, especially phrases that make them laugh (“Tickled Pink”), sound silly (“Shrinking Violet”) or trigger images that tickle a child’s sense of the absurd (“A Red Letter Day”).
Out of the Blue uses outlandish illustrations of what the words describe literally. The reader then has to guess the “real” meaning of the phrases (which are upside down in the corners of each spread). At the end of the book, the reader is invited to learn more about these figures of speech.”

The Shapeshifter’s Secret by Heather Ostler from Cedar Fort

“Like any sixteen-year-old, Julia’s used to dealing with problems. From her overprotective father to her absent mother to a teacher who definitely has it in for her. But everything changes when Julia’s reactions become oddly vicious and angry—more animal than human. This action-packed adventure has it all: humor, romance, and a plot that’ll keep you guessing to the very last page.”

Ravens Cove: An Alaska Iconoclast Mystery by Mary Ann Poll from YoudoPR – Publication Company

“Welcome to Ravens Cove, Alaska,a tiny town nestled in a small hollow on the majestic Cook Inlet. A town familiar with storytelling-after all, Alaska abounds in rich legends. Unlike other tales, however, the account of Ravens Cove is not just based in fact. It is fact. Meet Josiah Williams, the peculiar stranger whose warning to lifetime residents Kat Tovslosky and her cousin, Sheriff Bart Andersen, raises more questions than answers; a man whose dark past and knowledge of the murders make him a suspect more than an ally. Join Kat and Bart as an unlikely troop forms (including a very unwelcome FBI agent) to discover the identity of a killer. The unearthing of which will throw the reluctant warriors into a battle for their very lives and the lives of all who call Ravens Cove home.”

What books made their way into your home this week?


Filed under fiction books, Mailbox Monday, reading

Saturday Snapshot

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce of At Home With Books.  It’s easy to participate – just post a picture that was taken by you, a friend, or a family member and add your link on Alyce’s site.   Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online.

My Saturday Snapshot is of a piece of evolving artwork in our area – I’ve seen them in other places as well.  This guy gets an update every few weeks. Here he is decked out for the Race for the Cure.  (But with eyelashes like that, maybe it’s a she!)

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Filed under photos, Saturday Snapshot

Wondrous Word Wednesday

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme from Bermuda Onion where we share new (to us) words that we’ve encountered in our reading.  If you want to play along, grab the button, and write a post.

This word I found in a recent news article about a missing EastEnders soap opera star in London.


1 : a small house
: an apartment often on two floors

Neighbours of Miss McCluskie have reacted with shock following the discovery.  Margaret O’Carroll, 88, said: “I’ve seen Gemma grow up around here, this is terrible.  She lives in that maisonette with her mother and one of her two brothers. She’s very nice, a nice girl.”

It seems like such a paltry offering, this one word for Wondrous Word Wednesday, but it’s all I’ve got!  🙂

What new words did you come across this week?


Filed under reading, Wondrous Word Wednesday

Firefly Lane – by Kristin Hannah – Review

Firefly Lane is the first book I have read by Kristin Hannah, and I really enjoyed it.  When I finished the book, crying and blubbering everywhere, I might add, I immediately added more of her novels to my hold list at the library.  (Which reminds me of something funny my little one said to me this morning – Me: Honey, it’s the last day of school before Spring Break!  Be sure and find out if you have to turn in your library books.  Her: We just went to the liBerry to get them!  Me:  It’s liBRary, not liBerry.  Her: Aw, Mom, I made up a great joke about liBerry, it only works if I say liBerry, not liBRary, can I just keep saying liBerry?  Me: No, no you can not!)  Anyway….back to the book.

Fireflay Lane is about two teenage girls who live on Firefly Lane, and meet at the bus stop.  One has lived there all of her life, the other just moved there with her mother, who does lots of drugs, and randomly disappears from her life.  As opposite as these two are, a personal tragedy for one brings them together.  Soon they are inseparable.  TullyandKate.  Through thick and thin (and high school), they are best friends.  When Tully’s mother gets arrested (again), she is sent to live with her grandmother.  After her grandmother’s death she comes back to Firefly Lane, where Kate’s family takes her in as one of their own.

The girls head off to college together, and Tully dreams of them being newscasters together.  Tully has a big personality, and is nicknamed Tropical Storm Tully.  She knows what she wants, and she goes after it.  Kate, however, isn’t sure she wants to go into news-casting at all, although she is about to graduate with a degree in communications/broadcast journalism.  Tully has landed an internship at a local station, and drags Kate along to work in the office.  Tully catches some lucky breaks, and begins to make a name for herself in the news industry, while Kate feels further and further from her own dream.

As the years pass Tully becomes highly successful, and travels the globe reporting the news, while Kate gives up her career to have a baby.  Though their paths have diverged, they still maintain their close friendship.  Tully lands her own day-time talk show, and lets her desire for ratings get the best of her when she brings Kate and her daughter on the show under false pretenses.  Kate ends their friendship, and is both angry and grief-stricken over the rift.  Months pass without the two connecting, but then a big life change brings them back together.  (To tell you more would be a huge spoiler).

I enjoyed this book so much!  I look forward to reading more of her books!

Here is the link to the author’s website.  Here is the information about the book from her site.  Here is the goodreads review.


Filed under fiction books, reading, review

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of  Should Be Reading.  Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

“As thirsty as he was, Derek had no desire to drink blood from somebody’s neck.  A cold Diet Coke, however, would have been cause for rejoicing. Every so often he ran his fleshy fingertips along his capped teeth in expectation of fangs.”

From Chomp by Carl Hiaasen.


Filed under fiction books, reading, Teaser Tuesdays