The Holiday Grind… and its aftermath

January 30, 2012 at 2:27 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , )

A Typical Holiday Clearance Sign

During the Holidays, I get overwhelmed.  The decorations, the obligations, the cold… it just gets to me.  But after its all said and done, when gift giving, chores, and the extreme traffic isn’t constantly flooding my daily routine, when its ripped away from me and I am denied it, I get a little bit nostalgic for what I previously despised.

Its perfect timing too, because everything is on sale.  You go to your favorite bookstore, what do you find? All the holiday titles are on clearance.  You check out any of your favorite retail items for winter, and it’s all so much more affordable than it was the previous months.

So, it’s the tail end of January and beginning of February that I find myself reading titles like Holiday Grind by Cleo Coyle, and stocking up on Scentsy fragrances like Honey Peared Cider, Comfort & Joy, and Pumpkin Roll before they are replaced by Spring and Summer appropriate smells.

Cleo Coyle’s Coffeehouse Mystery Seriesare short, sweet, and cozy. They are the kind of book I either enjoy in a hot bubble bath, or under a pile of afghan blankets, but either way you must have a hot cup of coffee to enjoy them properly. I can’t wait to get my hands on the next: Roast Mortem.

Honey Peared Cider Scentsy Bar - only available thru Feb.

When reading these books, whether it’s a holiday edition or not, its always best to have some café-like scents warming in your burner – like Baked Apple Pie or Hazelnut Latte, typically available from Scentsy year round; or just your usual suspects for fall and winter – like Pumpkin Marshmallow, Central Park Pralines, or Cozy Fireside, scents often only offered during the Holidays.

Despite the disappointment I have that these latter fragrances won’t be available to me during the Spring and Summer months, there is one thing that consoles me: During the month of February, a good portion of them will be 10% off.  Between a Scentsy sale and clearance holiday books, I’m quite certain that January and February are the best parts of Winter.

Purchase your Scentsy products today at  There’s a party open.

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A Lovely Event

January 24, 2012 at 2:38 am (Events) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Typically, I’m not a huge fan of Valentine’s Day.  Its  a day that is seemingly invented for sheer consumerism.  Many people find this ironic, because I am very happily married to my soul mate and love.  The thing is, though, usually I’d rather curl up with a good book as I snuggle my honey, and not worry about what’s going on in the outside world as everyone else worries about things like “Is she going to like this gift?” or “What can I do for him that wont say too much and scare him off?”

You're Invited!

But this year, its been put in perspective of things I love and things I can do to make it more fun.  This year, I’m an Event Coordinator for a bookstore I love and I get to make it what I want.  This year, its about celebrating some of my favorite stories of all time (books like The Scarlet Pimpernel and Time Traveler’s Wife will absolutely be featured, as well as biographies on people like Nicholas and Alexandra and so on) and celebrating a fabulous little Italian restaraunt in Humble that I’ve grown to love.  This year, you can come to the Humble Half Price Bookstore, buy your favorite love story and upon purchase be entered to win a dinner for two to Italiano’s in Humble.  How much fun is that?

What’s even better? We’re doing it on the 10th, not the 14th, so people who already have big plans, or have to work because they are in the retail or service industry, or just don’t want to fight Valentine’s Day traffic can have a low-key but intimate date night with us.  On top of that,  some lucky couple will get to do Valentine’s Day, or some other special day they choose, practically for free!

My hope is that if we get a lot of people in the door, next year more businesses will donate gift cards and the year after that even more people!  We could maybe one day build Valentine’s Day up to a bookstore extravaganza so that even the most non-Valentine-date night people ever, like me, will look forward to the month of February.

So, if you’re in the Houston area, come celebrate Valentine’s on February 10th with me as we bask in the loveliness of books – our mutual true love.

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Brick and Mortar vs. The Online World

January 15, 2012 at 6:09 pm (In So Many Words, Reviews, The Whim) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Inspired by:

Featuring the Best Bookstores inTexas

Despite being an affiliate, I truly believe in being a patron of a brick and mortar bookstore.  In my mind, online sales are a necessary evil for the true bibliophile who cannot afford to travel toWalesfrom theUnited Statesto pick up a copy of the next book in the Scarlet Pimpernel series.  (I shop every three or four months for this exact purpose.)  Online sales are for that student looking for the cheapest textbook because its that or don’t eat for a month, and where not eating for a day or two is fathomable, not eating for a whole month would counter the act of trying to improve your mind.  I shop online if I’m gravely ill and cannot expose my disgusting germs to the outside world for a few weeks and am dying to read that biography that is just obscure enough that my favorite stores wont have it in stock for months anyway.  I shop for Paul Collins books on the regular, because they are readily available there, but most his stuff is out of print and isn’t carried by Barnes & Noble (I really like the one at the Woodlands mall) and rarely seen at most used stores.

For this reason, I am signing paperwork on Tuesday to be an Event Coordinator at my local Half Price Books (Humble), my favorite family owned bookstore in the country and the easiest store to shop inTexas.  I’d like nothing more than to generate traffic at a place I love while mostly still being a stay at home mom, as this job is only 20 hrs. a month and is a bit like a consulting gig.

That being said, Half Price Books isn’t the only great bookstore inTexas.  I’m also a huge fan of Murder By the Book inHouston, mostly for the fact that they have become world famous and still manage to be the coziest place in the world.  Murder By the Book is right around the corner from a Half Price Books, and though I stop at HPB first, if they don’t have the latest and greatest in stock yet, I have no problem popping over and buying a current pub if I have to.  The real life story to this hypothetical scenario being when Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s Angel Game was first released.

Murder By the Book is great, but they are a bit of a drive for me.  So when I want the same cozy atmosphere, comfy chairs, and intimate shelving units, but not the drive, another favorite place for me is Good Books in the Woods in Spring, off Oak Ridge, almost to the Woodlands.  It’s a quiet little gem tucked away literally in the woods, a house turned bookstore.  They have their own book clubs and writing workshops.  They specialize in first editions, signed copies, and all that is old and interesting, but there are some run of the mill things you can find there too.  It’s a bit more expensive than HPB on most days, but sometimes worth it if HPB doesn’t happen to have what you’re looking for and you’re too impatient to wait for it to be shipped to you.  I say “a bit more expensive,” but their prices are always reasonable, I’m just used to my beloved HPB clearance section.  (Visit Good Books in the Woods here:

As I’m headed back home, often severely hungry because I’m always hungry, on the southbound side of 45 you can also find Once and Again Books, often mistaken as an HPB because its quite similar.  Honestly, I only shop there because its next to my favorite food joint: The Olive Oil, fabulous Greek Food.  And it’s on the way home.  But its nice, its clean, and in good order.

Now for myDallaspeeps:

I’m absolutely, positively in love with the Recycled Bookstore inDenton.  The entire shopping experience happens, literally, in layers.  There are stairs and cubbies and closets, all brimming with organized, clean, lovely used books.  They also function in an old school fashion and will negotiate prices with you, something most stores just can’t do anymore.  For my every day Dallas shopping, I stick to all the near by Half Price Books locations peppered all over the city, but on special day trips up the highway, a bookstore in an old Opera House is just the thing.

As for Dallas Half Price Books locations (and there are quite a few!), my favorites are of course the flagship for its enormity and coffee shop, and the Cedar Hill location for having been my college haunt and my first introduction to Half Price Books at all.

Now, Texans, really… with all these just moments away, why would you go online to shop unless you absolutely had to?,,, all those fabulous .com bookstore – are tools when you need them, not your first go to.

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Exposure is Everything

November 17, 2011 at 2:57 pm (In So Many Words) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

My whole life I have been enthralled by the world of books.  As a child, I was an avid reader the school librarian could not keep appeased.  I lived in the worlds of Laura Ingalls, L.M. Montgomery, Louisa May Alcott, Charles Dickens, C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, and more.  Although I went to college to study business, as soon as I was out I sought a position in a bookstore; my dream was to run the literature section, and I did.  I worked there for some years, fully stocked up my home collection, became the inventory manager, but then had a baby and so left the company.

We have 17 overflowing bookshelves in our house and books stacked on every available end table in between.  I have been gathering up children’s titles throughout my pregnancy until now for my daughter, preparing for a lust of the written word comparable to mine.

People keep warning me that she may not want to read, she may not like it like I do.  They keep telling me I cannot force my child to enjoy my hobbies.

I am not forcing her.  I am making the written word available.  She sees books everywhere, she sees people enjoying books everywhere.  In addition to our own collection that we read from every day, we visit the public library for group readings and she sees people outside her family unit gathering to enjoy a book.

My daughter is one year old, and already she often chooses Eric Carle over a stuffed animal.  She brings me Rainbow Fish and expects me to read it aloud while she sorts her blocks.  It seems sometimes as though she is not actually listening, just sorting her belongings, until I stop reading and she looks up and points at the book.  My daughter sorts through her picture books and flips through the pages, she even has her own little cushioned rocking chair she climbs into to do it.  She rocks and pretends to read while I lounge and read in our library in our house.

My daughter loves books, and I am both amazed and proud.  I implore the world to make books available to their children from a young age.  Read aloud to them, they cannot help but be interested and thirsty for stories and knowledge.

Get Your Kid Started!

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The Ghost and Mrs. McClure by Alice Kimberly

November 29, 2009 at 8:53 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , )

The first of the Haunted Bookshop Mystery Series is adorable.  I want to shop Buy the Book (a small bookstore that reminds me of Houston’s Murder By the Book), hug Penelope McClure, and exchange witty dialogue with her resident ghost P.I. Jack Shepard.  Like her Coffee House Mystery Series (written under the name Cleo Coyle), Alice Kimberly’s bookshop murders are fun, endearing, and most importantly, cozy.

Buy it Here!

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The Bookshop

November 23, 2009 at 3:41 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , )

MC  bookshopThe Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald:

“In 1959 Florence Green, a kindhearted widow with a small inheritance, risks everything to open a bookshop – the only bookshop – in the seaside town of Hardborough. By making a success of a business so impractical, she invites the hostility of the town’s less prosperous shopkeepers. By daring to enlarge her neighbors’ lives, she crosses Mrs. Gamart, the local arts doyenne. Florence’s warehouse leaks, her cellar seeps, and the shop is apparently haunted. Only too late does she begin to suspect the truth: a town that lacks a bookshop isn’t always a town that wants one.”

The blurb above was provided by  The quote below is from the book itself:

“A good book is the precious life-blood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life, and as such it must surely be a necessary commodity.” – P. Fitzgerald’s The Bookshop

Fitzgerald’s work is cozy, depressing, beautiful, and romantic – if you’re a booklover.  I became so infatuated with the growth and decline of this little shop, I had to read every book mentioned by its characters.  Of course, Lolita by Nabakov is the work up for the most debate in this little village, and until my encounter with Florence Green, Lolita had never been high on my list of must read books.  I thank Fitzgerald for introducing me, it has been quite an experience.

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