Friday, May 29, 2015

Hipmunk City Love: San Antonio Fun Spots

San Antonio provides plenty of attractions to visit, museums to walk through, and plenty of outdoor activities. Be sure to include these six spots on your to-do list.

Sea World San Antonio

Image via Flickr by jdg32373
Sea World San Antonio is the world’s largest marine park. Memorable animal encounters, astonishing shows, and exhilarating rides will fill your day at the park. Many new attractions have been added, including Pacific Pointe Preserve, which features a coastal-themed sea lion habitat, a new restaurant, and a new show. The nearby Embassy Suites San Antonio NW is a great mid-range hotel for your vacation, with a fitness center, pool, in-room kitchenette, and flat screen TVs.

Six Flags Fiesta Texas

Six Flags Fiesta Texas provides thrilling rides and world-class shows for everyone in your party. Enjoy the Lone Star Nights Laser and Fireworks Celebration every night, with features including enhanced video projection, new lasers, audio, pyrotechnics, and special effects. The park features spectacular rides, including thrilling roller coasters, the Road Runner Express, and Zoomjets.

San Antonio Zoo

San Antonio Zoo is open every day of the year, and features over 8,500 animals. There’s plenty to do here, including visiting the new café, riding a one-of-a-kind carousel, and of course, visiting the 779 species that call the Zoo home. Visit the interactive exhibits, including Africa Live!, Butterflies, and Real Wild Fun Farm. Don’t forget to catch a ride on the San Antonio Zoo Eagle, a miniature train that takes you on a tour around Brackenridge Park.

Briscoe Western Art Museum

The Briscoe Western Art Museum preserves and interprets the history, art, and culture of the American West. Engaging Exhibitions, educational programs, and public events combine to reflect the rich traditions and shared heritage of the region. The Museum features nine galleries on three levels, and includes Pancho Villa’s saddle, a diorama of the Alamo, an authentic Chuck Wagon, and other great features. The nearby Hyatt Regency Riverwalk provides affordable accommodations on the Riverwalk.

Natural Bridge Caverns

The Natural Bridge Caverns comprise incredible underground chambers filled with remarkable formations. Take a guided tour along the paved, lighted walkways, and check out Texas’ largest premiere show caves. You can pan for gems, check out the Canopy Challenge, a four-level zip line course, and see the AMAZEn’Ranch Roundup, Texas’ only permanent, dynamic outdoor maze.

Sisters Grimm Ghost Tours

Sisters Grimm Ghost Tours is San Antonio’s most haunted place. A visit here will uncover the hidden history lying in wait for those brave enough to step through the doors. When you do, a 90-minute walk through San Antonio’s streets awaits you on the Nightly Ghost Walk, where you’ll hear chilling ghost stories from the past. You can also peek inside the Menger Hotel, the “Most Haunted Hotel in Texas,” on the Dinner and Ghost Tour. The Grand Hyatt San Antonio is nearby, where, if you’re brave enough to stay so close to the ghosts, you’ll enjoy affordable luxury on the San Anotonio Riverwalk. Choose from a single room, or a two-room suite with a separate living room, work area, and wet bar.
These six sites offer plenty of fun and entertainment. Check them out on your trip to San Antonio.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Hipmunk City Love: Visiting Austin on a Budget

Austin has a great mix of live music, wonderful restaurants, and unique culture. There are so many things to do and see, but when you’re on a budget, you can’t see and do them all. Here are six attractions to visit on your trip to Austin that won’t bust your budget.

Puzzle Room Austin

This is a great group activity that’s cheap enough for everyone’s budget. Do you enjoy playing point-and-click puzzle games? Well, this one is done in real life. Follow the clues given to your group of ten, and escape the room in which you are trapped. You have one hour to solve the puzzles and find the clues you need to escape.

Austin Detours

Take a tour of the city with Austin Detours, a local tour company that provides handcrafted experiences. There are several tours to choose from, including food, music, sports, and history tours. Follow your guide around the city to see it from a unique point of view and discover all of the delightful parts of Austin. The tours are affordable, and you’ll see a lot of Austin for your money.

Austin’s Park

Image via flickr by  MarkScottAustinTX
Plenty of indoor and outdoor attractions can fill up your afternoon or evening at Austin Park. Opt for an All-Day Unlimited Fun pass, which is budget-friendly, and you’ll have unlimited access to all of the attractions, food, and drinks. Play laser tag, climb the rock wall, ride go-karts, play mini-golf, and check out all the rides. Stay at the nearby Orangewood Inn & Suites, centrally located in Austi.

Blue Starlite

Blue Starlite is an urban drive-in that plays indie films, cult classics, and childhood favorites. Admission costs only $5 per person. Bring a seat, and you’re done. If you want the ultimate drive-in experience, choose low-cost tickets for your car, and even add on concessions. You choose your budget and your experience. Check the schedule ahead of time, or choose from any of the current movies playing the night you head over.

Enchanted Rock

Enchanted Rock rises 425 feet above the terrain, and is one of Texas’s premiere rock climbing sites. For only $6 per person, you can hike, backpack, camp, and of course, go rock climbing. Set up camp here for a night or two, and you’ll save hotel fees, helping your budget even more.

Hope Outdoor Gallery

The Hope Outdoor Gallery was launched to provide local artists the opportunity to display their large scale pieces, including graffiti art and murals. The project provides an inspirational, positive, and educational message while beautifying an underutilized space. Since the start of the program, Hope Outdoor Gallery has grown into a three-story educational art project. Stop by and take a look at this amazing outdoor gallery during your stay. Book a room at the Downtown Clarksville! Walk to 6TH! Airbnb for an economical stay. Each apartment has one bedroom and one bathroom, and the facility offers Wi-Fi, laundry facilities, and bike rentals.
These six attractions will provide you with plenty of entertainment on your trip to Austin without breaking your budget.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Hipmunk City Love: Sites You Won't Want to Miss in Houston

There’s something for everyone in Houston. If you’re planning a trip during your school vacation, you’ll want to get as much out of the city as you can. Pick any of these six spots to make your Houston vacation memorable.

The Downtown Tunnels

Several of Houston’s downtown businesses are connected by a six-mile maze of tunnels. The tunnels themselves have dozens of shops and restaurants. You can even grab a map and take a tour of the cheerful, attractive tunnels. Hilton Americas - Houston is located near the tunnels, and is also convenient to the Houston museum district, George R. Brown Convention Center, and the Toyota Center. This AAA Four-Diamond hotel provides plenty of comfort.

Space Center Houston

Image via Flickr by AGeekMom
You can’t come to Houston and not visit the Space Center. It is, after all, the pride of Houston. Space Center Houston is more than a museum. Along with artifacts from space explorations, there are many scheduled exhibits, and interactive adventures. One of the best events is Lunch with an Astronaut. You’ll find real astronauts with real stories sitting at the dining tables with visitors just waiting to share their stories.

Discovery Green

Discovery Green has often been called Houston’s Central Park, with its own style and flavor. There are tons of free events throughout the year, including movie screenings, concerts, ice skating, and festivals. One of the park’s best features are the Listening Vessels. These huge, concave sculptures allow you to hear nearly everything going on in the park, depending on where you’re standing. For a great view of Discovery Green, stay at Downtown Convention Center, which features cozy one-bedroom apartments available for up to four people at a cost-effective nightly rate.

The Houston Museum District

Take a world tour without ever leaving the city. The Museum District features 19 museums where visitors can discover an enriching, cultural experience. Artistic, scientific, and educational resources are all included in the District, which is comprised in a 1.5 mile radius of the Mecom Fountain. Stop by and check out the wide range of exhibits, collections, workshops, and live performances.

Market Square Park

Market Square Park packs a lot of fun into a small space. Discover plenty of live entertainment, great dining, a full schedule of events, and even an adjacent dog park. Take a stroll around the park and check out all the sights, including photography, gardens, historic remnants, and a beautiful mosaic fountain. Hyatt Regency Houston is located nearby, and provides luxurious guest rooms, a pool, and an on-site restaurant.

The Galleria

The Galleria features 400 stores spread out over several levels, and provides you a day full of window shopping. Check out exclusive stores such as Gucci, Apple, and Tiffany & Co. Choose from dozens of restaurants when you’re ready to eat, and check out the ice skating rink. The Galleria provides a great refuge from Houston’s summer heat, and an extravaganza at every holiday.
These six spots are the perfect choices to add to your Houston itinerary. Be sure to check for upcoming events and book tickets in advance.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Book Review | Thirteen Reasons Why

Thirteen Reasons WhyThirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a powerful book that was hard to get through but hard to put down at the same time. There were so many emotions going through me as I read each chapter, which was each side of the tapes left by Hannah, an emotionally disturbed teen who felt suicide was her only way out of a deep depression she was in. As we hear her tell her tale to those she felt were responsible for causing her to sink, we learned a lot about Hannah and these characters who may not have known just how much their words and actions affected her, until it was their turn to read the tapes.

The other part of the story I felt was very compelling was Clay's reaction as he listened to the tapes. Clay obviously cared for Hannah, more than she knew. His reactions to hearing her stories, and remembering events at the times, were sometimes gut-wrenching.

But it was the hard-core emotions of Hannah and Chase that wouldn't allow me to put the book down. This book really touched me on a deep level. As I kept reading, I couldn't help but wish there was a way to help Hannah. I kept thinking, "Someone please talk to this girl before something bad happens." Then I remembered: It already had.

I thought Asher's idea to write the book from Hannah's own words on the tapes she left behind was ingenious. I've never read a book like this before. The closest I can think of is "Dear Mr. Henshaw" by Beverly Cleary, which was comprised of letters sent back and forth from a fan to an author. But Hannah's tapes were more powerful than if Asher had used letters instead, because Chase had to hear her voice and her emotions as she told her tales.

The book had a very powerful message about depression, suicide, and how humans affect one another more than we might think we do.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday | Ten Authors I Really Want to Meet

This week's #TopTenTuesday theme is "Ten Authors I Really Want to Meet." There have been various authors over the years that I have really wanted to meet. Some of these authors write the romance novels I love, some write mystery, and some write my favorite YA fantasies. But they all have one thing in commone: They are awesome writers! So without further adieu:

I read a lot of Grisham's books in my late teens and early twenties after watching several of the movies his books were turned into. The Pelican Brief was the first book I had ever read before seeing the movie. I loved it! Some of his other faves of mine are The Brethern and Skipping Christmas, which isn't a mystery at all.

loved Ramona when I was growing up! She was always getting into wonderful mischief! She was a fun read, and I knew I could count on her when I needed a good laugh.

I grew up reading Are You There God? It's Me Margaret, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and other classic Judy Blume books. My favorite was Superfudge. I could read that book over and over, to the point where Mom asked, "You're reading that again?!" Yes, Mom, as often as possible.
Tonya is an author I'm lucky enough to call a friend. I met her through social media years ago, and became instantly hooked on her Magical Cures series. She's a delight as both an author and friend. If you like mysteries with a touch of romance, check out Tonya's books. I would love to meet her in person one day.

Melissa is another author I'm lucky to call friend. I met her through social media as well. I was lucky enough to find Melissa at the start of my writing career. She quickly became my mentor, and helped me through so much. I love her early books, but am really enjoying her new-to-me line of hot romance novels. Sorry YA readers, but these are adult-only! Put them low on your TBR list ;)

Nicholas Sparks was the second romance author I started reading. I was instantly hooked on his beautiful love stories, which always brought tears to my eyes. I love the movies too, but they are never as good as the books.

I was introduced to the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by my librarian when I started doing research for writing YA fantasy. She started handing me books by authors she thought I should study, and The Lightning Thief was in the pile. I devoured it once I started reading it. I had to read the rest of the series. Then I had to read The Kane Chronicles. They are so good! There are still a lot of Riordan's books I have yet to read. Ah, so many books, so little time...

OK, confession time: As some of you already know, I did not read TFIOS until January of this year! Yes, I know, I'm so far behind. But, oh, it was worth the wait. I am so in love with this book, these characters, and this author. I read Paper Towns last month, and want to read Looking for Alaska sometime this year.

Ah, this lady... This lady got me hooked back on reading in high school. My mom had read her books for years, and handed me one in my junior year, deciding I was old enough for adult romance. I was hooked. I had to have all of her books! In hardback! And I did, for so many years. I don't have room for bookshelves in my office right now, but when I do, all of my D.S. books will be back on display, where they belong.

OK, this lady.... OMG! What can I say about this lady that hasn't been said before? She's a-maz-ing! My mother-in-law bought the first three books for my stepson when the first movie came out. He never read them. My parents bought him book four when it was released. He never read it. So, there they were, sitting on the bookshelf. So, I picked up the first book and started reading it. Wow!!!!!!!!! I was instantly hooked, read all of the ones we had, and anxiously waited for the new ones to come out. Then I watched each movie as they came out. When The Deathly Hallows was released, I made my husband go to Walmart at midnight and buy it for me, then read the whole thing within a day. I cried so hard when it was done, not just because of the story itself, but because it was done. No more Harry Potter. Oh, how I wanted more... So, yes, Rowling is at the top of my list of authors I want to meet.

So, you may be wondering... What would I say to these authors if I could meet them in person? What would I ask them? Anything and everything!

What's your top-10 list of authors you'd like to meet?

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Hipmunk City Love: Istanbul's History and Culture Come to Life

Istanbul is one of the world’s great metropolises. The city reflects the cultural influences of different empires that once ruled it, including those of the Greeks, Persians, Romans, and Venetians. Remnants of this varied history are scattered throughout the city. Here are five sites you won’t want to miss on your visit.

Aya Sofya

Image via Flickr by eleephotography
Formerly the Hagia Sophia, the Aya Sofya was Byzantine Emperor Justinian’s church in 536 A.D. It was the emperor’s statement to the world of his empire’s wealth and technological advancement. Tradition states that the area inside the church that surrounded the emperor’s throne was the official center of the world.
Aya Sofya got converted into a mosque after the Ottoman armies conquered Constantinople and became a museum in the 20th century. It has remained one of Istanbul’s most cherished landmarks.

Topkapi Palace

This vast complex housed sultans of the Ottoman empire up until the 19th century and is now a dazzling display of Islamic art. Topkapi Palace has lavish courtyards lined with elaborate, hand-painted tile work linking several luxuriously decorated rooms, and battlement walls and towers surround it all. Plan on spending half a day touring this glorious palace. The nearby four-star Maywood Hotel will keep your day simple.

Blue Mosque

Sultan Ahmet I’s grand architectural gift to his capital was the Blue Mosque. Built between 1609 and 1616, the mosque caused an uproar throughout the Muslim world because it had the same number of minarets as the Great Mosque of Mecca. Eventually, Mecca received another minaret as a gift to ease the conflict.
The Blue Mosque’s nickname comes from its interior, which features thousands of Iznik tiles. The spatial and color effects make the Blue Mosque one of the finest achievements of Ottoman architecture.

Basilica Cistern

The Basilica Cistern once stored the imperial water supply for Byzantine emperors. The Basilica is very serene with its lit columns and softly trickling water. 336 columns arranged in 12 rows support the palace-like underground hall. The builders of the cistern recycled many of the decoratively carved columns from earlier classical structures. The most famous columns are the ones known as the Medusa stones. Located in the northwest corner, these columns have Medusa head carvings at their bases.


The Hippodrome was the center of Byzantine public life. It was the location of games, chariot races, and factional conflicts. Only a small section of gallery walls is left of the Hippodrome. Today, the At Meydani park stands on the site and is home to a variety of monuments.
A fountain is on the northwest side of the Hippodrome. German Emperor William II presented the fountain to the Ottoman sultan in 1898. Three ancient monuments stand on the southwest side: the Egyptian obelisk from Heliopolis; the Serpent Column brought from Delphi by Constantine; and a stone obelisk. Gold-colored bronze plating originally covered the stone obelisk, but soldiers of the 4th Crusade stole the plating in 1204.
These five landmarks show off Istanbul’s vast history and culture perfectly. Be sure to add them to your itinerary.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Hipmunk City Love: Kowloon Points of Interest

Planning a visit to Hong Kong’s urban area of Kowloon? Check out these four points of interest on your vacation.

Kowloon Park

Image via Flickr by Gavin Anderson
Kowloon Park is a tranquil, peaceful spot that will wash over you, and take the stress away. The irony is that the park was originally an army fortress, but the military handed it over for public use in 1970. The Chinese Garden is the most tranquil spot. It comprises a two-tiered lotus pond linked by a rock cascade. Relax here and watch the terrapins bask in the sun. You can enjoy Kowloon Park on a rainy day, too. The sheltered walkway lets you hear the rain fall on the foliage as you take a leisurely stroll. The Grand Hyatt Hong Kong is located just across the Bay, giving you a perfect spot to visit Kowloon Park over and over.

Kowloon Walled City Park

Kowloon Walled City was once the densest place on the planet. It was a lawless labyrinth filled with crime, grime, commerce, and hope. The city was made up of tiny houses built on top of each other, with snaking staircases connecting them underneath dangling wires. It housed 33,000 citizens in the space of only one city block. Fascinating architects all over the world, the Walled City was demolished 20 years ago.

Wong Tai Sin Temple

The Wong Tai Sin Temple is home to Taoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. It claims to “make every wish come true upon request.” The Temple is made up of natural settings and beautifully ornamented buildings. It is as much a scenic attraction as it is a religious one. The Temple commemorates Wong Tai Sin, the famous monk of yore who was born in the 4th century and became a deity at Heng Shan (Red Pine Hill). In 1915, a Taoist priest carried a portrait of Wong Tai Sin from China to Hong Kong, and it is now housed in the Temple. Worshippers come to pray for good fortune through offerings, divine guidance, and fortune telling. The Temple is also a sanctuary to Feng Shui enthusiasts for its structures representing the five geomantic elements: the Bronze Pavilion (metal); the Archives Hall (wood); the Yuk Yik Fountain (water); the Yue Heung Shrine (fire), where the Buddha of the Lighting Lamp is worshipped; and the Earth Wall (earth).

Clock Tower Hong Kong

The Clock Tower Hong Kong is all that remains from the Kowloon-Canton Railway Terminus. It was built in 1915 and overlooked Victoria Harbor. It was the first site tourists, travelers, immigrants, and locals saw as they entered the Harbor. In 1975, the Hong Kong government moved the terminus to its present-day location in Hung Hom. The area around the Clock Tower is now a famous sightseeing and meeting point, and is often used for special occasions and decoration, particularly Chinese New Year and Christmas. The Langham, Hong Kong is nearby and can provide you an excellent view of the Tower.
These four points of interest provide you with a variety of attractions to see on your trip to Kowloon. Be sure to add them to your itinerary.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Mother's Day

I wrote a post for Indie YA Books discussing my favorite book moms. With Mother's Day coming up this Sunday, I thought this was a great topic for our readers. There have been tons of book moms throughout literature, many that stand out more than others. The four that stood out to me when I wrote the post was Marmee from Little Women, Molly Weasley from Harry Potter, Esme from Twilight and Frannie from TFIOS.
These moms are only a dot on the chart of book moms. So many have been created by authors as both main and supporting characters. In YA books, they are very important characters, as they help shape the main character in the book. Mom may not even be around physically to touch the life of our hero or heroine. But she's always there...
Just like in your favorite book, your mom is always there too, in one way or another. You may not always see eye-to-eye with her, but you know she loves you, and would do anything for you. So this Mother's Day, take some time to let Mom know how much you love her and appreciate her.
Happy Mother's Day! I love you, Mom.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Hipmunk City Love: Best of Los Angeles Movie Studios Hotels

Movie buffs will love visiting sunny Los Angeles, California. You can visit Universal Studios, Warner Bros. Studios, and Paramount Pictures. Here are five great hotels for you to choose from to get the most out of your studio tour visit to Los Angeles.

Loews Hollywood Hotel

Image via Flickr by espensorvik
Loews Hollywood Hotel is centrally located in Los Angeles, near all three movie studios, the Dolby Theater, the famous Chinese Theater, and steps away from the Hollywood Walk of Fame. One of the best locations for movie lovers, the hotel is also near the Historic Theater District. The hotel has two on-site pools, one heated and one on the rooftop. The heated pool has a Wolfgang Puck restaurant that serves casual fare. Both pools have complimentary cabanas. There’s also a fitness center, business center, steam room, and kids’ program. Spacious rooms and suites come with modern furnishings and artwork. They have pillowtop mattresses, Keurig machines, LCD flat-screen TVs, mini bars, and an iHome docking station. Staying at Loews Hollywood Hotel will set the mood for your movie-filled experience.

Best Western Plus Hollywood Hills Hotel

Best Western Plus Hollywood Hills Hotel is also centrally located in Hollywood. You’ll be located close to all three studios, as well as Capitol Records Tower, Hollywood Walk of Fame, Dolby Theater, and Hollywood Bowl. Guest rooms feature kitchenettes with refrigerators and microwaves, pillowtop beds with Frette Italian sheets, flat-screen TVs with satellite, and complimentary Wi-Fi. The hotel has an outdoor pool and a 24-hour fitness center. Dining is available at the hotel restaurant or coffee shop.

Quality Inn Near Hollywood Walk of Fame

If you’re looking for the best spot for the best price, check out the Quality Inn Near Hollywood Walk of Fame. It’s located on a quiet street off Hollywood Boulevard, in the center of all of the action you want to see. The hotel is within walking distance of prime Hollywood attractions, including the Dolby Theater, Hollywood Walk of Fame, and Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum. It’s in the center of all three studios, so you’ll have easy access to each one. All rooms feature wireless Internet. The hotel offers free breakfast, coffee, newspapers, and local calls.

The Redbury @ Hollywood and Vine

The Redbury Hotel is located on the corner of Hollywood and Vine, the geographic and iconic center of Hollywood. All three studios are close by, and Capitol Records is right across the street. Take a short walk to the Chinese Theater, Hollywood Walk of Fame, or Sunset Boulevard. All suites feature full kitchens, separate living/dining room, and a washer and dryer. There’s an indoor/outdoor lounge with a view of the skyline.

Hudson Apartel

Hudson Apartel is a prime location in Los Angeles, and puts everything the city has to offer at your doorstep. Rooms include free Wi-Fi, full sleeping amenities, and the option to have a seating area and kitchenware. It fits smaller budgets, too. If you don’t plan to spend a lot of time at your hotel, Hudson Apartel may be the perfect spot for you.
These five hotels will give your movie-dream vacation to Los Angeles a happily ever after.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Hipmunk City Love: World War II Berlin Historical Guided Tour

World War II enthusiasts would relish a trip to Berlin. Several historical landmarks, museums, and memorials tell the tale far better than your history book. Here’s a guided tour of some not to be missed.

German Resistance Memorial Centre

The German Resistance Memorial Centre conveys the work of the brave Germans who stood up to the regime, specifically the attempts by members of the German army in 1944. The exhibition was built in German army’s former supreme headquarters, and offers a chilling dynamic. It is the location of the execution of the members of the 1944 assassination attempt. A naked sculpture is located in the central courtyard as a dedication to these men and those involved in broader German resistance attempts.

Haus Der Wannsee Konferenz

Image via Flickr by nagerw
A great haunting during World War II took place inside Haus Der Wannsee Konferenz: the decision to exterminate the Jews of Europe. The highest members of the Nazi regime made this decision within the walls of the estate, which now serves as memorial to this tragic and horrific event. The estate documents the event itself and the horrific crimes committed afterward.

The Holocaust Memorial

Covering an area more than 62,000 feet, the Holocaust Memorial is a monument comprising 2,711 concrete blocks of various sizes, laid out individually on a rolling background, gradually increasing in size as they move toward the center. A fraction of light is allowed to penetrate through, and a maze of paths gives visitors a sense of “getting lost” among the blocks. Combined with the lack of light, visitors can feel a strange sense as they walk among the blocks. The Memorial allows each visitor to form a unique interpretation of what it represents, as well as their own feelings.

Hitler’s Bunker

Located close to the Holocaust Memorial, Hitler’s former bunker, which was also the site of his death, attracts a large crowd of World War II enthusiasts. But if you add this spot to your itinerary, you may be disappointed: All that is left of Hitler’s bunker is located beneath a car park. The bunker itself has been excavated and removed. However, a small plaque still marks the spot and allows visitors a brief reflection.

Topography of Terror

Housed in the former Gestapo offices, the Topography of Terror is a museum and exhibition center. The building was abandoned after the war, and discovered when the Wall was taken down. Gruesome torture cellars were found in the cellar. A permanent exhibition was created to chronicle the growth of National Socialism. It dissects all of the mechanics that got it to power and kept Hitler in charge.

Berliner Unterwelten

Take a tour of Berlin’s numerous underground tunnels, bunkers, and passageways via Berliner Unterwelten. These tunnels were built and used in World War II to house high-ranking Nazi officials, and flak towers built under Hitler’s command to shoot down enemy aircraft. Stay at the Hotel Adlon Kempinski to be centrally located near all of Berlin’s historic sites.
This guided tour of Berlin will give you a more realistic sense of World War II.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Hipmunk City Love: Best of Tokyo's Rogoku Kokugikan Hotels

Tokyo is a wonderful vacation spot if you’re looking to soak up fresh culture. There are beautiful gardens to see, delicious food to try, and several spots to check out the night life. But it you’re looking for something off the beaten path, take in a sumo wrestling match. Ryogoku Kokugikan is Tokyo’s National Sumo Hall, and schedules bouts throughout the day. You can enjoy your sumo experience by staying at one of these six hotels near Ryogoku Kokugikan.

Pearl Hotel Ryogoku

Image via Flickr by *_*
If you’re looking for a central location in Tokyo, look no further than Pearl Hotel Ryogoku. Less than half a mile from Ryogoku Kokugikan, the hotel keeps you in walking distance of the Sumo Hall, and keeps you centrally located in Tokyo. You’ll be close to other attractions, including Senjoji Temple, Tokyo Sky Tree, and Tokyo Imperial Palace. Rooms feature refrigerators, Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, and digital programming. You can relax in your deep-soaking tub, or request an in-room massage.

Anne Hostel

If you’re traveling with a group of friends, the Anne Hostel may be your best choice. Serving free breakfast every day, the hostel is within walking distance restaurants, money exchange, Karaoke, bars, and even a 7-Eleven. It’s less than a mile from Ryogoku Kokugikan, and has an onsite pool and restaurant. Nearby stations are only five minutes away, and can take you to all the cities you’d want to visit on your trip to Tokyo.

Daiichi Hotel Ryogoku

Stay in the heart of Tokyo at Daiichi Hotel Ryogoku. Less than half-a-mile from Rogoku Kokugikan, the hotel is also within walking distance of Edo-Tokyo Museum, and close to Tokyo Sky Tree and Sensoji Temple. Rooms feature refrigerators, complimentary Internet, and satellite programming. Stop in at the hotel’s coffee shop/café for a bite to eat.

Hotel Yanagibashi

Conveniently located near the Rogoku Kokugikan, Hotel Yanagibashi is a 28-room hostel that keeps you in close proximity to many of Tokyo’s favorite attractions. The Sensoji Temple, Tokyo Sky Tree, and Tokyo Imperial Palace are also close by. Rooms feature refrigerators, flat-screen TVs, and digital programming, and private baths with tubs and showers. You can dock your MP3 player, hook up your Wi-Fi, and rent a safe if needed. Breakfast is served free daily.

Hotel MyStays Asakusa-bashi

Centrally located in Tokyo, Hotel MyStays Asakusa-bashi is a half-mile from the Rogoku Kokugikan.  The Sensoji Temple, Tokyo Sky Tree, and Tokyo Imperial Palace are also close by. Rooms feature refrigerators, private baths, free Internet, and coffee/tea makers. There are recreational activities available to you, including bike rentals, and other amenities including dry cleaning/laundry service and luggage storage.

Khaosan Tokyo Ninja

Another hostel you’ll want to look into is Khaosan Tokyo Ninja. It’s a half-mile from the Rogoku Kokugikan, and convenient to the Sensoji Temple, Tokyo Sky Tree, and Tokyo Imperial Palace. The hostel has 17 air-conditioned guestrooms with complimentary Wi-Fi. Bathrooms with showers are provided for your convenience.
These six hotels will provide you a comfortable place to stay in close proximity to the Rogoku Kokugikan. Take your pick from fancier hotels with modern conveniences, or check your group into one of the great hostels.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Book Review | A Charming Secret

A Charming Secret (Magical Cures Mystery Series Book 6)A Charming Secret by Tonya Kappes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another great magical mystery in Tonya Kappes' Charming series! Perhaps it is that I've read so many now, but this book seemed to go by so fast! I loved that June returned to Locust Grove for a bit. It was good to hear about her non-magical community, and how much she's grown since she moved from there to Whispering Falls.

My favorite part of the book was the fantastic new business in Whispering Falls: Full Moon Treesort. I want to visit there so bad! Tonya created a beautiful retreat for Whispering Falls visitors, that match all the wonderful magical shops perfectly. Book me a room today!

The mystery in this book was, well, as mysterious as the others. So many possible suspects to choose from! I'm happy to say I figured it out before the revelation. I love when I do that? But I'm not telling who done it. You'll have to read the book and find out for yourself.

I also loved the growing relationship between June and Oscar. They are a marvelous couple, and I love reading their love story.

As you see, this book has it all: Mystery, magic, love and, of course, charm. I can't wait for the next one!

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Hipmunk City Love: Lahaina's Top Galleries

Lahaina was the capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom in the early nineteenth century, and a historic whaling village. Today it is a Maui hot spot filled with unique shops, restaurants, and beautiful art galleries. Here are six galleries you won’t want to miss on your trip to Lahaina.

Village Galleries Maui

Image via Flickr by Merelymel13
Established in 1970, Village Galleries Maui is Maui’s oldest art gallery. It represents Hawaii’s fine artists, with the largest collection of original art in all media. You’ll see a variety of works done in oils, acrylic, encaustic, watercolor, glass, ceramic, wood, and bronze, as well as unique island jewelry. Maui’s top two art events take place at Village Galleries Maui: the Maui Plein Air Invitational in mid-February and The Celebration of the Arts at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua in May. The Best Western Pioneer Inn is located close to the Gallery, and offers great views of Maui’s natural glory.

Wyland Galleries of Hawaii

Wyland is a well-known marine life artist whose work changed the way people think about our environment. Wyland Galleries of Hawaii displays Wyland’s bronze sculptures, original oils, watercolors, and fine art giclee reproductions. His gallery in Lahaina offers a beautiful view of the islands of Lanai and Molokai, and is located on Front Street, Lahaina’s version of Main Street with other wonderful galleries, restaurants, and shopping.

Diamond Head Gallery

Fine art collections are awaiting you at Diamond Head Gallery. With the most beautifully framed artwork in the Hawaiian Islands, Diamond Head Gallery strives for excellence. More than 25 Hawaiian artists are featured, as well as from the Mainland and abroad. The Gallery features bronze sculptures, coffee tables, and lamps, and Japanese raku pottery.

Martin Lawrence Gallery

For over 25 years, the Martin Lawrence Gallery has been a treasured Maui landmark. Located on Front Street, the gallery displays a mix of Contemporary and Modern art alongside the Aloha Spirit. Martin Lawrence Galleries is dedicated to presenting the great names, as well as the best of the emerging artists. Different exhibits are displayed throughout the year, so be sure to check the schedule to see what will be on display during your visit.

Lahaina Galleries

Also located on Front Street, Lahaina Galleries was founded by a couple who do not typically fit the bill when you think of art gallery owners. Jim and Nancy Killett bring a true family feeling to their galleries, including how they deal with artists and customers alike. You’ll find a delightful mix of artists and works displayed throughout the gallery, and a welcome environment inviting you to come in and browse. Stay at the Hale Nanea, located down the street from Wyland Galleries of Hawaii, Diamondhead Gallery, Martin Lawrence Gallery and Lahaina galleries, for the best location to visit these wonderful galleries.

Old Jail Gallery

Located in the historic Lahaina Courthouse, the Old Jail Gallery is below ground, in the original jail of the old courthouse. It’s sponsored by the Lahaina Arts Society, and displays some of Maui’s most talented artists. Displays of local artists include oil paintings, watercolors, ceramics, photography, wood carving, and so much more.
These six galleries provide a wonderful experience on your visit to Lahaina.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Book Review | Ascension (The Shapeshifter Chronicles Book 4) by Natasha Brown

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This was a wonderful ending to the Shapeshifter Chronicles. Ana and Chance's story was wrapped up beautifully, and all of my questions were answered. The author did a wonderful job of filling in all of the necessary background story throughout the story via conversations and memories, rather than dumping all of the information at the beginning of the book like a summary.
I have been following this series since the first book came out, and each book has been better than the last. I love this series, and these two characters, so much. They touch my heart and my soul.