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.