Thursday, December 8, 2011

Story Hour with Santa

Santa seems to be just about everywhere this time of year and we know he is pretty busy, but, Santa knows there is nothing quite as important to the future success of young people as discovering a love for reading.

Since Santa also loves to tell a good story he has agreed to take a break from his busy schedule and spend a few hours with us at Paragraphs to visit with the kids (both young and old) and read a selection of Christmas tales.  Santa has not told us what he will be reading but I am sure he will end the evening with "The Night Before Christmas".

 Hopefully we can also convince him to stay around if anyone would like to have a picture taken. 

Everyone is welcome and there is no charge to attend. Refreshments will be provided.
This is becoming a Paragraphs tradition for young and old alike. Hope you can make it.

December 22, 2011
6:30 p.m. 

Paragraphs On Padre Boulevard
5505 Padre Blvd
South Padre Island, TX

Friday, August 12, 2011

Author of "The Padre Predator" to be at Paragraphs

Shortly after we opened David and Mary Tannenbaum came into Paragraphs and we fell into that easy conversation that develops naturally between avid readers.  So we were honored and pleased when he asked us to carry and help promote his first mystery novel, The Padre Puzzle.

The Padre Puzzle is a mystery/thriller set on South Padre Island, Texas. And as the author says in a recent article, "Where do you start a mystery? With a dead man on a beach." The novel introduces us to Jimmy Redstone, an aging and somewhat irreverent Texas Ranger and his unlikely partner Angella Martinez a rookie beat cop.

Now David brings us the much anticipated sequel, The Padre Predator, another Jimmy Redstone /Angella Martinez thriller. Jimmy and Angella are given a special assignment from the President -- find the security breach within the highest level of the government, track down the remaining terrorists before they carry out their plan, keep the bomb (or bombs) from exploding, and, keep it all quiet. In this sequel to The Padre Puzzle, author David Harry takes us on a ride with more twists and turns than Pikes Peak and as the search for the bombs and for the plotters intensifies, Jimmy and Angella are swept from South Padre to Washington D.C. and to the jungles of Mexico, unsure who to trust as suspicion spreads to include even themselves. With each turn, it becomes obvious that things are not as they seem. Jimmy and Angella soon suspect that they are pawns in a game that they might not be able to win.

While Harry writes to entertain his audience his ideas do reflect his genuine concern for the security of our country.  Harry reflects on his inspiration for the Redstone novels, as reported in the Port Isabel Press:
We know that guns are getting smuggled at an ungodly rate.  We know that people are getting smuggled into the country.  If they can get those two things in, why nor smuggle other things? I start thinking about them bringing an atomic bomb into the country.
Harry adds that his series, including the second title, The Padre Predator, isn't meant to scare his readers, but to arouse their awareness of serious issues the United States faces. He hopes that his novel illustrates how the threat of smuggled weapons is real, and that at times our country, with its numerous bureaucracies and agencies, may struggle to stop the threat.

Since its debut, we have sold over 230 copies of The Padre Puzzle and it is becoming a top selling title at Paragraphs. Readers enjoy the many references to Island establishments and the novels contain a sense of local color that visitors and residents both can appreciate.

In advance of the formal release of his novel this fall, David is having a low-key meet and greet on August 13 between 1 and 3 to sign books and meet the growing number of Redstone and Martinez fans.  So stop by and say hello, he would love to meet and visit with you -- and who knows you may be a character in his next novel!

David Harry at Paragraphs
August 13, 2011
1-3 pm

David Harry is a Texas transplant, arriving in Dallas in 1989 from Pennsylvania by way of Ohio, New Jersey, and Florida and has been a part time resident of South Padre Island since 1992.  An engineer and patent lawyer for most of his professional life, David, and his lovely wife Mary, are planning to move to the Island permanently within the coming year and he hopes to devote more time to his writing.  That will be good news to the ever increasing number of Redstone and Martinez fans.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

"El Valle" wins Book Award

For 16 years the Independent Publisher Book Awards have been conducted annually to honor the year's best independently published titles. The "IPPY" Awards reward those who exhibit the courage, innovation, and creativity to bring about change in the world of publishing. Independent spirit and expertise comes from publishers of all sizes and budgets, and books are judged with that in mind. All independent, university, small press, and self-publishers who produce books intended for the North American market are eligible to enter.

We are happy to announce that the beautiful book -- which was produced by Gorgas Science Foundation and includes the personal perspectives of over 29 authors, all of whom are familiar with the history, diversity, and natural beauty of the lower Rio Grande Valley, and features the incredible photography of Brownsville, Texas, resident Seth Patterson -- has been named the Best Regional Non-Fiction Book published in the South.

"El Valle - The Rio Grande Delta" is a 284 page coffee table book, written in English and Spanish, that offers the reader a visual introduction to this often misunderstood or overlooked region that is shared by two great nations. 

I have been lucky enough to get to know Seth since the publication of this book.  He is an enormously talented young man who is a joy to be around and we congratulate him on receiving this well-deserved award.

This award is also a great way of introducing the Rio Grande Valley, including South Padre Island, to a national audience.  These awards are followed by many people and this is wonderful exposure for us.

We had discontinued carrying this book for a few months because of a flaw in some of the bindings.  But, the printer has resolved all outstanding issues and replaced all of the books published. So, we are thrilled to again have this book on hand at Paragraphs and welcome you to stop in and enjoy our display copy.  If you happen to have an early copy of the book and notice any problems with the binding, please bring it to Paragraphs and we will make sure it is replaced.  I know that Seth and the people at Gorgas Science Foundation want you to be completely satisfied with your copy of "El Valle."

We again offer our congratulations to Seth, as well as the many contributors, all those who provided donations or sponsorships and everyone else who helped to get this book published.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Music in the Park

This is an awesome town committee. They have been putting together some great events for our visitors and residents. A snow cone sounds pretty good right now!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

What Do I Do With Your Donated Books?

I have been blessed with many generous folks that stop by and say "We have a lot of books that we don't know what to do with. Will you take them?"

As we begin our third year I am now feeling buried in used books.  We do buy some books but we are beginning to be more selective in what we will pay for and we are going to need to develop some guidelines so our customers know that we cannot buy back used books that we previously sold at a deep discount and that we need to restrict our purchases of books from other used paperback stores.

But that is not the purpose of this post.  We have the policy of always accepting donations of used books, and that won't change -- I can't bear to see books thrown away when there are so many less fortunate for whom a book is a treasured luxury.  My problem has been deciding how to get my ever-expanding and towering piles of books to those in need.

That is where Better World Books and the Reuse First Internet Service comes in.
Reuse First: Making sure books get to readers – wherever they are!
The Reuse First Division collects tons of unwanted books to help fund literacy initiatives locally, nationally and around the world. We have raised $8.6 million dollars for global literacy by capitalizing on the value of so-called “no-value books.” Whether you are an individual, student group, library, or bookstore, we have a program that is perfect for you.

As a for-profit social venture, Better World Books’ success is measured by the positive impact that we make in addressing specific social issues; for us, that issue is literacy. Our collected books benefit five major nonprofit literacy programs as well as 80+ other literacy-based nonprofits.
I signed up with this company last year and sent a box of books to them.  The great thing is they handle all the shipping and so the donation to them does not cost us anything.  My main objective was to try and make sure that the books our customers gave to us, that we could not use, would go to support literacy in our own country and abroad.

So anyway, I boxed up some books, sent them away and forgot about it.  Then, today, I decided to check out what had happened to this box of old, less than pristine and well-used books.  That was when I discovered the "Green" part of what Better World Books achieves. The environmental impact of recycling these 14 books resulted in saving 1 tree, 82 gallons of water, and reduced landfill space by 1 cu. yd. Okay, I know that isn't much but when you look at this program on a national basis the results are phenomenal

Since its founding in 2003, the company has raised over $7.3 million for its non-profit literacy and library partners; diverted more than 29 million pounds of books from landfills; achieved 11,000 tons of carbon offsets through carbon-neutral shipping, and created more than 200 full-time jobs with meaningful benefits.

Better World Books diverts books from landfills by conducting book drives on 1,800 college campuses, and by collecting discards from over 2,000 libraries nationwide. It then sells those used books and contributes a portion of the revenue on each sale to its non-profit literacy and library partners. Books that cannot be sold are frequently donated to at risk communities in the U.S. and African schools by the truckload..

So my next project is to see how we can arrange to have a Book Drop Box set up at Paragraphs.  But, until I get that done I will be sending some of those books you all have been kind enough to donate to us to Better World Books.  And, I encourage each of you to consider transferring any of your online buying from Amazon to Better World Books. Of course, we prefer you shop with us, but, please consider using Better World Books for some of your book purchases because at Better World Books every purchase you make helps to change the world.

But, don't worry, we will always have plenty of used books to pick from on our shelves. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

AUDITIONS for "Murder At the Tonylou Awards"

El Paseo Arts Foundation is kicking off its 7th season with a Mystery Theatre Production and "Chair-ity" Auction on September 15, 2011, at the Hilton Garden Inn. We'd loved to have you as part of the show.

AUDITIONS for "Murder At the Tonylou Awards" will be held
on August 8, 2011
at 7:00 p.m.
at Paragraphs

No previous acting experience is required. All you need is a sense of humor and a desire to have some fun. The play is a mystery spoof set at Hollywood style awards show and the audience gets to play detective and solve the crime. There are speaking parts for 6 females and 4 males and there's one non-speaking female role for a Trophy Girl.

Even if you're not sure you're ready for "prime time" auditions are always fun, especially for a spoof like this one. So come on the 8th and just watch if you just want to see what it's like. We can always use an audience.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Man Booker Prize Longlist Announcement

This is the list of the titles nominated for the 2011 Man Booker Prize

Julian Barnes The Sense of an Ending (Jonathan Cape - Random House)
Sebastian Barry On Canaan's Side (Faber)
Carol Birch Jamrach's Menagerie (Canongate Books)
Patrick deWitt The Sisters Brothers (Granta)
Esi Edugyan Half Blood Blues (Serpent's Tail - Profile)
Yvvette Edwards A Cupboard Full of Coats (Oneworld)
Alan Hollinghurst The Stranger's Child (Picador - Pan Macmillan)
Stephen Kelman Pigeon English (Bloomsbury)
Patrick McGuinness The Last Hundred Days (Seren Books)
A.D. Miller Snowdrops (Atlantic)
Alison Pick Far to Go (Headline Review)
Jane Rogers The Testament of Jessie Lamb (Sandstone Press)
D.J. Taylor Derby Day (Chatto & Windus - Random House)

The chair of judges, Dame Stella Rimington, comments:
 'We are delighted by the quality and breadth of our longlist, which emerged from an impassioned discussion. The list ranges from the Wild West to multi-ethnic London via post-Cold War Moscow and Bucharest, and includes four first novels.'

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Shelf Awareness for Readers

One of the newletters that I try to make sure I read every day is Shelf Awareness.  This online resource does a good job of keeping me, as a bookseller, caught up to date on new releases, media appearances by authors, and what is going on in the book publishing and retail world.  I also find their book reviews useful.  So, I am pleased to announce that they are making this resource available to readers. 

Shelf Awareness: Enlightenment for Readers is a FREE emailed newsletter with reviews on the 25 best books publishing each week along with author interviews, book excerpts, giveaways and more. Right now they’re running a contest for new subscribers.

Sign up below and you will be eligible to win a free book.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Plants of Deep South Texas: A Field Guide to the Woody and Flowering Species

Slide Show and Lecture
Plants of Deep South Texas: A Field Guide to the Woody and Flowering Species
Dr. Alfred Richardson
Paragraphs On Padre Boulevard
5055 Padre Boulevard, South Padre Island, TX
Thursday, March 31, 2011
5:30 – 7:00 pm

You are invited to join us on Thursday evening, March 31 at 5:30 for a slide show and lecture which will be presented by Dr. Alfred Richardson about the "Plants of Deep South Texas: A Field Guide to the Woody and Flowering Species" The event will begin at 5:30 and the slide show and lecture will be at 6pm. This book as well as other titles by Dr. Richardson will be available for purchase and for signing.

Over ten years in the making, Dr Richardson and biologist, Dr Ken King, travelled thousands of miles trying to find the right time to take photos and find many of these plants. This is your opportunity to meet and hear from one of the foremost experts in flora of the Lower Rio Grande Valley.

Dr. Alfred Richardson is professor emeritus of biological sciences at the University of Texas at Brownsville. Ken King, of Weslaco, Texas, has a MS in biology with an emphasis on herpetology. He serves on the board of directors for the Native Plant Project and is well known in the valley as a self-taught naturalist.

This event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be provided

For information call us at 956-433-5057

More about the book:

Covering the almost three million acres of southernmost Texas known as the Lower Rio Grande Valley, this user-friendly guide is an essential reference for nature enthusiasts, farmers and ranchers, professional botanists, and anyone interested in the plant life of Texas.

Alfred Richardson and Ken King offer abundant photographs and short descriptions of more than eight hundred species of ferns, algae, and woody and herbaceous plants—covering two-thirds of the species that occur in this region, excluding grasses.

Plants of Deep South Texas opens with a brief introduction to the region and an illustrated guide to leaf shapes and flower parts. The book's individual species accounts cover: Leaves, flowers, fruit, blooming period, distribution, habits, common and scientific names.

In addition, the authors' comments include indispensable information that cannot be seen in a photograph, such as the etymology of the scientific name, the plant's use by caterpillars and its value from the human perspective. The authors also provide a glossary of terms, as well as an appendix of butterfly and moth species mentioned in the text.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

This book has been on my to be read list for ages. I think the time has come to actually sit down to it. From everything I have read this would be a great book club selection.

One reviewer comments:
Intimate in feeling, astonishing in scope, and impossible to put down, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks captures the beauty and drama of scientific discovery, as well as its human consequences.

We now have it in stock in a trade paperback edition.

From the Prologue:

The Woman in the Photograph
There’s a photo on my wall of a woman I’ve never met, its left corner torn and patched together with tape. She looks straight into the camera and smiles, hands on hips, dress suit neatly pressed, lips painted deep red. It’s the late 1940s and she hasn’t yet reached the age of thirty. Her light brown skin is smooth, her eyes still young and playful, oblivious to the tumor growing inside her—a tumor that would leave her five children motherless and change the future of medicine. Beneath the photo, a caption says her name is “Henrietta Lacks, Helen Lane or Helen Larson.”

No one knows who took that picture, but it’s appeared hundreds of times in magazines and science textbooks, on blogs and laboratory walls. She’s usually identified as Helen Lane, but often she has no name at all. She’s simply called HeLa, the code name given to the world’s first immortal human cells—her cells, cut from her cervix just months before she died.

Her real name is Henrietta Lacks.
Part science, biography, and history this book deals with the many of the issues we see in the front pages of the news every day and which are at the center of some of the most fierce culture wars and ethical debates. I am really looking forward to reading this book.

We now have it in stock in trade paperback. You can also buy the book online, read this book on your ereader or download the audio book to listen to on your ipod or MP3 player.
Purchase at our online store here: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Download the audiobook at this link
Or, download it to read on your ereader of choice (Kindle excepted) here: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Kind Words from the SPI Flip Flop Foodie

Every once in a while I have to share some very nice thing someone has said about the store. One of our frequent visitors who stops by often and always generously shares some latest culinary experiment -- cookies, cake pops or some other decadent tasty treat -- writes a delightful blog The South Padre Island Flip Flop Foodie. Anyway, Debbi wrote this very nice blog post about Paragraphs and I had to share some of the highlights.
Paragraph's "Meet the Author Series" are like a "social"...people visit, there's usually snacks of some sort, frequently wine, coffee, or's like we've gone to Joni's home and she has entertained us at a fine, yet comfortable, soiree. (I can come with no make-up, shorts, and flip flops...
she continues ..
There are no whispering library voices in Paragraphs...just lots of happy and interesting people.
What I really liked about Debbi's kind words is her reinforcement that we are providing the atmosphere that has been the driving force behind the development of Paragraphs from the very beginning. Our logo was even designed to represent the social hub idea that is what we want Paragraphs to be all about.

So, I do appreciate the kind blog post by Debbi. If you cook, or like me just like to eat, The Flip Flop Foodie is a great blog to follow. And if you live on the island and haven't gotten to know Debbi Hook, she is a person you should meet.

She continues:
This week, Joni shared a fabulous little rum cake...I am determined to duplicate it. She said a friend shipped it to Griff from the Caribbean...something like a Tortuga Rum Cake. If I get around to making my take on it, I'll blog about it you can be sure! Past events have featured yummies from Zeste, cheese and crackers, chocolates, and other little yummies. What book store does that? We are so fortunate to have them.
Now, I am waiting for her to try the Tortuga Rum Cake! I can't wait to sample some of those experiments!

Friday, March 4, 2011

A Great Read to Listen to

I love audio books. I listen to them whenever possible - walking the dogs, working outside, driving, actually, I am listening to a book whenever I can't sit down and read. I must admit, most of the time I find this a good way to catch up on classics that are in the public domain and available at Librivox. What is better than getting a classic story read to you, for free? These volunteer narrators are quite good.

But, I am always surprised when I listen to a professionally produced audio book. Right now I am listening to "The Graveyard Book" by Neil Gaiman and read by the author. This had been on my TBR pile for ages but I just couldn't sit down to it. After hearing the audio version recommended by Michael and Ann, at Books On The Nightstand I have been waiting for it to become available at the Denver Public Library, but I finally decided to splurge and download a copy from Audible.

I have not been disappointed. Everyone knows Gaiman can write a great story but he is also a wonderful storyteller. I have been drawn into the story in a way I don't think I would have been by reading the book.

The publisher says:
Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn't live in a sprawling graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor of the dead.

There are dangers and adventures in the graveyard for a boy. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, then he will come under attack from the man Jack - who has already killed Bod's family.

Beloved master storyteller Neil Gaiman returns with a luminous new novel for the audience that embraced his New York Times best-selling modern classic Coraline. Magical, terrifying, and filled with breathtaking adventures, The Graveyard Book is sure to enthrall readers of all ages.

Music arrangement of "Danse Macabre" copyright 2008 by Béla Fleck and Ben Sollee, Fleck Music (BMI), admin. by Bug Music.

©2008 Neil Gaiman; (P)2008 HarperCollins Publishers

This is a young adult novel that can be enjoyed by kids of all ages. A little scary in places for sensitive readers -- it is Neil Gaiman, after all -- but generally a tale to keep your interest. You can purchase the book for download here.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Writer's Roundtable at Paragraphs

We have started a new group at Paragraphs for anyone interested in improving their writing skills. Any type of writing is welcome and there is no previous experience necessary. If you use words to communicate then you are wanted for this group -- songwriters, poets, historians, fiction writers, memoirists, manga -- whatever genre you are interested in, you are welcome. I am also setting up a Discussion tab for this group on the store FB page. Feel free to ask questions, offer suggestions to your fellow authors, post tidbits of information, whatever - the page is there for your use.

The group will have a variety of formats. Some months we will have individuals read a sample of their work and if they choose to, ask the rest of the group for suggestions or a critique of their work.

So that this is kept positive and no one is afraid to come to a meeting or intimidated by the thought of having their work critiqued, let me emphasize that sharing and requesting criticism is always voluntary. You are welcome to attend and listen and then share as you become more comfortable with the group. To be a good listener and to be able to provide helpful suggestions will add to the success of the group but will also improve the quality of ones own writing. To facilitate this I am going to share some basic guidelines. (Thanks to Pat Avery)

Critique Guidelines for Writer Round Table Discussions at Paragraphs

Basic Information:

1. Comments about a fellow writer's work should be constructive criticism of the material. Always show respect. A member of the group should never criticize the writer personally or ridicule his or her work.

2. Start with positive comments and then offer suggestions. Writers are creative personalities who write from the heart and intellect. Whether a person is writing a memoir, a novel, nonfiction or poetry it is uniquely personal.

3. Think in terms of cleaning up, strengthening, tightening and trimming the work. Help the writer whittle away unnecessary words and thoughts. Whatever the genre, a tightly written document generates more interest. Suggest improvements that add color and clarity to the work.

Areas for Critique:

Does it make sense? Did you like it? Did it keep your interest?

Is the plot consistent? Is it believable, understandable and well-organized?

Are the characters well developed? Were they consistent and true to their character throughout the manuscript? Could you form a mental image of each character?

Did the setting support the plot and characterizations? Were you able to form a mental image of place and time?

Did the writer develop a conflict? Did the conflict create tension? Did the plot keep your attention? Should the action be faster or slower? Were there too many subplots to stay focused? Did the plot come to a resolution?

Did the dialogue match the characters personalities? Was it believable and true to time and place? Did it move the plot forward or create a diversion? Did it build the conflict? Did the author use dialogue to show rather than tell the story.

Was the story easy to follow? Were sentences or paragraphs too long or short? Did the story flow smoothly? Was point of view established and maintained? Did the writer use too many -ly adverbs or were common words overused -- like very, many or just? Were grammar rules such as gender and tense consistent?
Of course, depending on the type of writing the above guidelines may vary but the basics are here and hopefully we will add to and revise these as we go along.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

President's Day Lecture at Paragraphs

Daniel Ruddy
Lecture and Discussion of
Theodore Roosevelt's History of the United States

Paragraphs On Padre Boulevard
February 21 at 7pm

If you could talk with any living or dead person about American history, who would it be?

For historian Daniel Ruddy the answer to that question is Theodore Roosevelt. As he states in the introduction to his book "Theodore Roosevelt's History of the United States", published by Harper Collins,

Knowing I could not resurrect the dead, I decided to do the next best thing and create Roosevelt's part of the conversation. The result is this book, which is based exclusively on Roosevelt's own words. I have not added a single word of my own to the main text, reserving my comments for the Explanatory Notes.

Beginning with Herodotus and Thucydides men have chosen to write about history with the hope that studying the great deeds of the past and the characteristics of the great men who performed them will be of service to the present.

Roosevelt claimed to be a historian and he did publish numerous books on history. His one wish was to write a history of the United States. While he never had the time to actually accomplish this goal, this volume, compiled by Mr. Ruddy, is just that, Theodore Roosevelt's History of the United States.

Ruddy, invites us in his Introduction to

..transport yourself back in time to a pleasant summer evening in the year 1918, to Roosevelt's home, Sagamore Hill, high on a hill in Oyster Bay, New York. Pull up a rocking chair and join TR on the veranda, with its fine view of Long Island Sound. after you settle in you can engage him in the topic that interests you most -- American history. It is a good topic to bring up because it interests him, too; in fact, it is one of his passions.

So I am pleased to welcome Daniel Ruddy to Paragraphs on Monday, February 21, in recognition of President's Day, for an informative evening celebrating the fine mind and astute observations of the 26th President of the United States.

Daniel has appeared on BookTV and been featured on Fox and friends. It is truly a pleasure and wonderful opportunity to welcome him to South Padre Island and Paragraphs.

Daniel Ruddy grew up on Long Island, New York, where a childhood trip to Roosevelt's home, Sagamore Hill in Oyster Bay triggered a lifelong interest in TR. He is a marketing consultant for Fortune 500 companies, and he holds a master's degree in international relations from the London School of Economics He is an avid researcher into U.S. history and the presidency.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Nelly Venselaar Book Signing

I was pleased with the nice crowd we had at Paragraphs for the signing of "Musical Voyage" a book by Valley Byliners author and poet Nelly Venselaar.

Nelly is a quiet, reserved and delightful lady, originally from Holland, who now divides her time between the Rio Grande Valley, TX and Manitoba, Canada.

I was touched by Nelly's tears of happiness when her daughter surprised her by driving the 100+ miles from Corpus Christi to present Nelly with a dozen beautiful roses in honor of Nelly's first event upon the publication of her debut novel.

The book tells the story of three generations of a family, who first escaped from Nazi occupied Holland, and eventually emigrated to Vancouver, Canada. Through all the joys and hardships of their lives, music and art sustained them. "Musical Voyage" celebrates all that is good in people and family, and does so in a way that testifies to Nelly's love of language.

As Nelly describes the book:
Colette at first lives in wartime Holland and England then moves to Vancouver, Canada where she and her husband establish their family. As a teacher and later on a writer of children’s books she needs an enormous imagination as well as a good work-ethic. Both help her deal with the loss of family as does her music.

Her daughter Ashley who follows in her mother’s footsteps is a gifted musician. She uses her abilities to teach music. Through her music and her work she is able to deal with her heartache when she thinks she has lost the love of her life. With discipline and energy she keeps striving for her goals and attains them. Though not exactly a feminist, Ashley shows that women can reach the top of the ladder through hard work and strength of mind.

This was a special event and it was truly rewarding to see the smile, pride, and sense of accomplishment on this lovely lady's face as she discussed her characters and the importance of the themes in the novel on her life. It was one of those times when I truly felt the joy of being a bookseller.

Nelly Venselaar swore to see the world and managed to do that. She has played piano all her life and started to write poetry when she retired. She worked as a teacher while raising a family and earning a university degree.

I can't wait to read her next novel which she tells me is about a family that buys a bookstore!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Leslie Presents....

For people on the Island and our visitors Leslie seems like an old friend. She makes everyone who attends her numerous performances feel like they belong and are true "Islanders". I know that the Coral Reef, two blocks to the south of Paragraphs is packed whenever Leslie is on the roster of entertainers. She also performs regularly at The Shrimp Haus, Boomerang Billy's and Louie's Backyard. This is one busy and much-loved lady.

So, I was thrilled when she contacted us about selling tickets to a concert she is planning. Leslie explained to me that she gives away three concerts every year, and agrees to appear at the place and for the charity designated by the winners.

Bonnie Schoultz was the local winner of one of these free concerts and Leslie will perform on Monday, January 31st, at the Commemorative Air Force Hanger in Brownsville. The doors will open at 2pm and the concert is scheduled to begin at 3pm. Proceeds will go to benefit the American Cancer Society.

This should be a special event. Leslie's show is billed as "Music of the Time-WWII" and will include music from the 40s, and 15 vintage aircraft, in flying condition, will provide the backdrop for this performance which is to be held inside the hanger.

The $8 admission ($10 at the door) will include a tour through the Commemorative Air Force museum, personal talks with our RGV Wing Members of the CAF, and a rare and unique up close look at these fascinating planes. There will be drawings for various prizes the most exciting of which is the chance to go up in one of these wonderful airplanes. The CAF will receive the proceeds from the beer, wine and set-up sales and you are welcome to BYOB.

The Rio Grande Valley Wing was founded in 1971 and is based at the Brownsville International Airport in Brownsville, TX. The hanger serves as the museum and primary restoration and maintenance facility. In addition to the aircraft, there are hundreds of artifacts on display and a variety of military vehicles.

Take advantage of this great opportunity to visit the museum, listen to some wonderful music, support the American Cancer Society, but most of all just get out and have a wonderful afternoon.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Dr. Van Wagenen Book Available at Lecture Series

Dr. Michael S. Van Wagenen will be speaking at Club Padre this Friday at 5:30 p.m. as part of the UTB/TSC Island Lecture Series. The topic of his lecture will be "The Enduring Legacy of the U.S. - Mexican War."

Michael Scott Van Wagenen, is an award-winning documentary film-maker and teaches history and documentary film at the University of Texas at Brownsville. You can read more about his extensive academic and film career at this link. His book on this topic is now under contract with the University of Massachusetts Press, but won't be available for another year.

He does have a book that was published in 2002 by Texas A&M Press titled "The Texas Republic and the Morman Kingdom of God." This is a book about the little known local history behind the Mormon church's attempt to purchase this region in 1844 to create a theocratic buffer state between Mexico and Texas.

Readers state:
The Texas Republic and the Mormon Kingdom is well written and tells a story that few Texans know. It is easy reading that offers an excellent history of the Mormon movement and its founder. It shows another side to Sam Houston, a loyal Baptist but certainly interested in attracting other religions to his Republic. Get this little book, it will add a different perspective to the development of our state.” --Mexia Daily News

“This readable, well-researched book would be a valuable addition to any Texas history collection.” --The Gilmer Mirror

“The author of this new book furnishes us with many interesting facts and ably tells the tale of the pioneering efforts of a 150-member expedition led by Mormon apostle Lyman Wight beginning in 1845.” --Off The Press

Paragraphs will have 25 copies of Dr. Van Wagenen's book on hand at the lecture and he has graciously agreed to stay and sign copies for anyone who wishes to purchase one from us. I am offering a 20% lecture discount for a total of $16.50 with tax. I hope this will provide an added dimension to the Friday event and I thank Club Padre for the opportunity.

More about the book:
From its earliest days of colonization, Texas sparked the imagination and ambition of some of North America’s greatest leaders. Joseph Smith, the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, was one such man. His interest in Texas coincided with the strategic goal of Sam Houston, the president of the young Texas Republic, to create a buffer zone between the areas of Anglo settlement and Mexico. History has until now hidden how close the ambitions of these two men came to carving out a Mormon Kingdom of God in the Republic of Texas.
In 1844 Smith and his followers were received with political jealousy, religious suspicions, and distaste by their neighbors in Nauvoo, Illinois. Smith looked outside the United States for both refuge and empire. Times were difficult for Texas president Sam Houston, as well. Texas faced the wrath of the Comanches on the western frontier and of Santa Anna on the disputed southern border. To make matters worse, the U.S. Congress was balking on the annexation issue. Houston was desperate, in debt, and looking for assistance from England, France, or perhaps even the Mormons. Smith appointed an ambassador to the Texas Republic, and secret negotiations began in earnest.
According to Mormon records, Houston agreed to sell Smith a disputed strip of land between the Nueces River and the Rio Grande. Before the Mormon leader could take further action, however, he was murdered by a mob in Illinois. In the leadership succession crisis that ensued, the negotiations were abandoned.
Yet, the secret negotiations cannot be seen as a total failure. Houston remained a friend to the Mormons throughout his political career and was later instrumental in ending the Utah War of 1857–58. In addition, a group of Mormon settlers emigrated to the Texas Republic on the eve of statehood and became an important part of the Texas cultural mosaic.

Tickets are $2.00 per person and are available at Club Padre or the South Padre Island Visitor Center. If you are interested in purchasing a book but cannot make the event give me a call at 956-433-5057.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Touch the Mayan Moon

Susan LeMiles, a local South Padre Island author, and native of San Benito, Texas, will be having several book signings and other events in the Lower Rio Grande Valley promoting her first novel, which we were honored to launch this fall. If you were unable to attend the launch party at Paragraphs and would like to see Susan and congratulate her on the publication of "Touch The Mayan Moon" the following opportunities are scheduled.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011
6:00 pm
Reading and Discussion
Narsisco Martinez Cultural Arts Center
225 E. Stenger, San Benito, TX

Wednesday, January 19, 2011
11:00 am to 3:00 pm
Book Signing with reading and discussion at 2:00 pm
Lobby of the Learning Resource Center
TSTC campus
1902 N. Loop 499, Harlingen, TX

Saturday, January 22, 2011
1:00 pm
Reception, Reading, Discussion and Book Signing
Harlingen Public Library
410 76 Drive
Harlingen, TX

Manuel Acosta in Concert

Manuel Acosta, the world-class tenor will be performing in concert at the South Padre Island Convention Center on Tuesday evening, January 18, 2011.

Acosta is hailed as one of the most brilliant tenor voices to come out of Mexico. His clear, ringing tone and exuberant style are reminiscent of the great Placido Domingo who thrilled music lovers as a member of the Three Tenors. In fact, Acosta’s program recaptures typical repertory in Spanish, Italian and English of the Three Tenors’ concerts, according to a press release.

Acosta made his concert debut at the age of 19 in the National Theatre of Fine Arts (Bellas Artes), in Mexico City, singing the role of "il messagero" in the opera Aida. His credits include Rodolfo, in La Boheme, Don José in Carmen, Nemorino in L´elisir d´amore, Alfredo in La Traviata and Romeo in Romeo et Juliette. In 1998, Mr. Acosta sang the role of the prince in Disney’s Spanish version of Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty. In 2001, Mr. Acosta made his American debut as Rodolfo in the Natchez Opera Festival's production of La Boehme. Mr. Acosta appears regularly at Mexico’s Palacio de Bellas Artes and at important regional opera companies across Mexico and the U.S. He has performed major opera roles in Detroit, Florida, Texas, California, Colorado, Louisiana and Mexico.

The YouTube video is from his performance of Don Jose in Carmen.

We have tickets available at Paragraphs. They are $25 or $20 for members of the El Paseo Arts Foundation. The price of the ticket includes hor d'oevres to be served from 6:30pm until 7:20pm and a cash bar will also be available. The performance will begin at 7:30 pm. This is an awesome opportunity and I hope we have a good crowd for the performance.

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Hours for 2011

After much consideration we have finally decided on our new hours for 2011. Some circumstances have changed and so we are going to try something different for the new year.

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday we will be open as usual from 10-6
We will now be closed on Wednesday instead of Tuesday
Saturday we will be open from 10-4,
Sunday we will be open from 12-4

Closing at 4 instead of 6, on Saturday, will allow us to attend mass which is something important to both me and Griff and a spiritual obligation that we have found nearly impossible to fulfill with our former hours. I hope our friends and repeat customers will understand this change.

On Sunday, most visitors to the island are heading back to their homes on the mainland in the early evening and so we hope to take an extra hour for ourselves Sunday evening.

And, of course, you can always shop online at We are also happy to arrange to be open for any book buying emergency -- just give us a call at 956-433-5057 and if we are available we will always be happy to have you join us.