Round Rock New Neighbors is a social organization of women welcoming women in the Round Rock area since 1978. Both "new" and "old" neighbors are welcome. For more information: [Barnes & Noble requires that RRNN's book club be open to the public, so you do not need to be an RRNN member to attend book club, and both men and women are welcome and do attend. ]

Literary Events

The Friends of the Georgetown Public Library’s Hill Country Authors Series events will be listed here. Next event:


Austin novelist, Jeff Abbott, will return to the Georgetown Public Library to speak at the Hill Country Authors Series on Wednesday, January 31st at 2 PM. Abbott’s first appearance here was in 2012; this time he’ll discuss his fourteenth novel, Blame, published July, 2017, to critical acclaim. Known as one of the best thriller writers in the business, his latest effort was described by fellow thriller author, Harlan Coben, as “the perfect blend of complex characters, plot twists galore, and great psychological suspense."

Bestsellers around the world, Jeff's novels are thrillers that center on ordinary people caught up in sudden, unexpected nightmares, often related to secrets in their past. They combine high-stakes intrigue with emotional punch.

In Blame an amnesiac accident victim has to investigate her own past in Abbott’s tense psychological thriller. Froom Kirkus Review: “The Austin, Texas, suburb of Lakehaven is shaken when two teenagers drive off a cliff; driver Jane Norton survives while high school hero David Hall is killed. Jane comes out of a coma with part of her memory lost. After a note is found at the accident scene that suggests Jane caused the accident in a suicide attempt, she becomes an outcast; as Jane pieces together her own history, she becomes convinced she wasn’t trying to kill herself, and the accident starts looking more like murder. The unconventional plot, the constant surprises, and above all the psychological depth of the characters all make this a first-rate crime novel. “

A Rice University graduate with a degree in History and English, Abbott worked as a creative director at an advertising agency for more than eleven years, as he continued to write novels. He left that job in 2005 in order to write full-time after the success of his thriller, Panic. Three of his novels have been optioned for film, and are in script development.

He is a three-time nominee for the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Award and a two-time nominee for the Anthony Award. Jeff’s first novel, Do Unto Others, won both the Agatha Award and the Macavity Award.

The event begins at 2 pm at the library located at 402 W. 8th Street in Georgetown; the doors open at 1:30 pm. Tickets may be purchased online (link here) beginning December 1 at the special online price of $13.00. Tickets will go on sale in the Second-Hand Prose bookstore on the second floor of the library on January 2, 2018 for $15.00, $18 at the door. Tickets are also available from the Wow!mobile, the bookmobile that services Georgetown. Contact Marcy Lowe at 512-868-8974 for more information.

A dessert and beverage from the Red Poppy Café in the library will be served.


The Nobel Prize in Literature was given to author Kazuo Ishiguro.
Amazon is planning a video series based on stories by Philip K. Dick. Date of release is not yet announced.
Click here to see the trailer for Stephen Spielberg's Ready Player One, currently scheduled to debut March 30th. Look for the DeLorean. (Hint-it's moving quickly and is black and you're more likely to find it if you watch one of the explanatory videos that elaborates on the trailer.) If you want to, stay on the YouTube page and see lots more about Ready Player One. After all, it's a movie about the native online generation.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

"In the Garden of Beasts" Scores Unanimous "Like"

Everyone seemed to "like" reading In the Garden of Beasts, by Erik Larson. That doesn't mean it made anyone feel happy! This book took place during a dark time that was followed by a darker one. If the book shed light on anything, it highlighted even darker implications than we already had known about Hitler's rise to power. And yet, the author's focus on the young and freespirited Martha interspersed hope into the hopeless scenario, even though the reader was well aware of the dismal history that would occur after the Dodd family left Germany.

Jay's questions directed our discussion. In most cases, we were in agreement as to the answers to the questions. We brought out a lot of depth in our answers, as usual. One question that brought out some interesting discussion was When did the Dodd family, and particularly Martha, experience a turning point of understanding the situation as an evil one? Pam noticed that Martha went back and forth, for example seeing a concentration camp and seemingly changing her previous view of the attractive Germany but then a few chapters later bouncing back to her tendency to view the persecution as isolated incidents. Rather than a weakness on the author's part, others in our group saw this vacillation of the Dodds as representing to the reader a realistic view of the Dodds being unable to believe the depth of evil that Hitler's early displays of power reflected.

In the book, Larson didn't ever go into detail on the situations in the United States and Russia during Hitler's rise to power. In our discussion, we found that the history of the United States and Russia were significantly related to the success of Nazi Germany. Frank noted that the United States was undergoing the Great Depression, which meant that the American government was focused inwardly. Also, the United States didn't have a powerful armed forces at that time; whereas Hitler spent much of those 10 years building a huge army that encompassed almost every able-bodied young man in Germany. Dennis reminded us that another reason why Hitler was able to work without disturbance from the rest of the world was that there was chaos in many countries at the time after World War I, particularly in Russia, where Stalin was enacting purges and persecution similar to those of Hitler in Germany.

I particularly enjoyed the answers to Jay's question, "What wasn't answered by the book?" Answers about the unanswered included, "Whatever happened to the Jewish family who owned the house the Dodds rented?," "What was Bill Dodd doing during his stay in Germany? (and afterwards, although someone said he ended up as a salesman in the United States)," and "Why didn't Martha's mother rein her in more?" Someone said that we do not know what transpired between Martha and her mother, because there was no diary published about this. I guess that this makes sense but I would add that Martha might have indeed journaled about arguments with her mother and decided later to keep them from the public eye. I admit that "journaled" is a bit of an anachronistic/futuristic term for the 1930s. But Martha did indeed "journal," and would surely have blogged if she were able to!

This book did not gloss over the horrors inflicted by the Nazi regime but gave us insight into the chain of events that climaxed in World War II.

Resources:  "Our" Frank Campbell has posted in his new blog about this book, which he read with us. To read his post, go to:  The article about the book is called "A Sheep Among the Wolves."

Jay found some books by Martha Dodd that are available in the UT library. You can view them at the library but not borrow them. Thus, they will be there if you go looking for them!   Here is Jay's list:

Dodd, Martha. (1939). Through embassy eyes. NY: Harcourt Brace and Company. (943.085 D661T) (In this memoir, Martha mentions her affair with a young foreign embassy secretary [Boris Vinogradov, First Secretary of Soviet Embassy] as her hottest love.)

Dodd, Martha, & Dodd, William E. (Eds.).  (1941). Ambassador Dodd’s diary, 1933-1939. NY: Harcourt Brace and Company. (D413 D6 A3 1941)

Dodd, Martha. (1945). Sowing the wind. NY: Harcourt Brace and Company. (PS 3507 O22 S695) (Novel based on Martha’s plane ride with WWI flying ace Ernst Udet, whom she dated.)  

Dodd, Martha. (1955). The searching light. NY: Citadel Press. (813 D661 SE)

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