Cheever Books

July 21, 2014 at 7:25 pm (Travel) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

This weekend I had three book signings in San Antonio. Each signing was at a Half Price Books location.

When I wasn’t haunting Half Price Books stores selling and signing my own books, however, I found myself being a tourist and stumbled into quiet places like Cheever Books.

P1020562This is the back parking lot, you actually walk around to the front to enter.  It still looks appropriately quaint and historic from any direction.  And once inside, you are greeted with this:

P1020568The online reviews of this store run fifty-fifty.  It seems most people either love it or hate it.  I’m here to give my honest assessment.  I love it, but they aren’t perfect.

So here’s the scoop on Cheever Books…

You might want to spend hours here.  Don’t come for a quick peek.  Things aren’t organized well, but the experience is magical.  If you have the time to go on a treasure hunt you’re bound to find Gabriel Garcia Marquez in three different places within the M’s as opposed to one place in the G’s.

The poetry wall is extensive – and full of short story anthologies.  There’s a lot along this wall you won’t find anywhere else though.

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If I had had enough money, I would have bought this book.  It isn’t common.  It was in good condition.  It looks exciting.

However, I settled on something more affordable.

I found these hiding underneath a stack of Horatio Hornblower books that I already own.  I couldn’t get the whole set, they were roughly $10 a piece, but I did get the one on the far left and I hope to find the others again one day.

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Upon any visit you are bound to find three things: a magical gem over priced, a magical gem appropriately priced, and a great book that is neither magical nor appropriately priced.  Relish the ambiance and the appropriately priced gem, don’t allow your rose colored lenses to be clouded by the rest.  In a book hunter’s world, it is still a marvelous visit.

There’s a review about the owner being “creepy,” but I met two out of the what I believe to be three employees for the company, and both were pleasant.  I enjoyed my time in Cheever Books and would readily visit again with cash in hand to spend.

It’s not as clean and easy a shopping experience as what you will have at Good Books in the Woods (where you will find similar treasures at more affordable prices), but it is most excellent.  That is not to say it’s dirty either.  By “not as clean” I mean that you will find books piled in your path, much of the inventory is peppered along the floors.  There are a few dust bunnies, but not nearly what you would expect among such a haphazard collection of books.

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So, San Antonio residents who adore Cheever Books – when you visit Houston and you need your  book fix, your store is Good Books in the Woods.  Houstonians who love Good Books, when in San Antonio, the stores on Broadway are for you.  (The Broadway HPB gives our Kirby location a run for its money in the awesome department.)

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A Homeschool Mom Meets Seed Savers

November 14, 2013 at 4:02 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

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The thing about homeschooling – the awesome thing – is that plans are made, expectations logged, and as a parent you do a lot of letting go of both of those things as your child sort of takes over.

I personally planned on going full force into the alphabet and phonics, drill numbers and be sure my three year old was the smartest on the block.  At age two she already knew all the states on the U.S. map south of the Mason Dixon line.

Kiddo, God, and the universe, had other plans.  And I like them.

With the help of S. Smith’s Seed Savers series, some extreme budgeting issues (I’ve been the poorest person I know for the last twelve months), and Merriweather’s fabulous foraging site (see the links on the right), we’ve pretty much spent our ‘school days’ in the woods.

It all started many, many moons ago (as I like to say to my kiddo when telling stories)… somehow I was lucky enough to receive a copy of Seed Savers: Treasure from S. Smith by mail.  I remember reading some of it out loud, but then giving up and devouring it all alone.  I gave up because I wanted to read it faster, I wanted it all to myself, not because Kiddo was anything but cooperative.

P1000450What resulted is a long standing admiration for S. Smith, requests for her to participate in Earth Day 2013 (which she graciously accepted from 3000 miles away) and taking Kiddo to said Earth Day celebration.  Before Seed Savers, I was already on a mission to be more self-sufficient and have my own garden, but Seed Savers really solidified that need in my heart.  Instead of *wanting* to do it, I got my butt in gear and did it.  This shift in my mentality eased over into the preferences of my daughter.

She loved the Earth Day celebration.  She got to plant seeds with volunteers from the Mercer Arboretum.  She got to watch me raffle off S. Smith’s first two books (Treasure & Lily), and it was all over – these Fall plans I had noted during my pregnancy were half out the window.  Without hearing the entire Seed Savers story, Kiddo fell in love with seeds.  S. Smith’s words are so powerful they radiate into every aspect of our house just by sitting on the shelf.

We have seen and read The Lorax more times than I can count.  On her third birthday her great-grandmother gave her spending money and she spent it at Good Books in the Woods on two Cat in the Hat Learning Library books.  One is on Rainforests and the other on Seed Planting.

P1000435We spend our days looking for birds on the trails, foraging for produce, growing our own bell peppers and okra, and now reading Heirloom as we tromp through the woods.

However, you don’t have to be a mom, a conservative, a homeschooler, a toddler, or a hippie to enjoy the Seed Savers Series.  Seed Savers, including the latest – Heirloom – is full of courageous characters, a rich adventure, and exciting philosophical food for thought.

What started out as a really unique young adult dystopian society concept on Smith’s part, has evolved into something more than we initially bargained for.  The story is more complex than I anticipated. The effect on our lives has more reach.  Smith has matured as a writer along with the growth of her characters.  I’m a little disappointed that the stories will, at some point, come to an end…

If you don’t believe me, find out for yourself.

Purchase the Seed Savers Series from Amazon

Visit the Author’s Website: http://authorssmith.com

Go Like Her on Facebook: http://facebook.com/AuthorSSmith

Follow S. Smith on Twitter: http://twitter.com/AuthorSSmith

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More Homeschooling with a Toddler – Pirates!

February 14, 2013 at 4:18 am (Education) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

It took longer than expected, but we read through Magic Tree House book #4 Pirates Past Noon and the companion research guide Pirates. We browsed through a pirate cookbook and played with our pirate ship and discussed parts of the boat, identified sails and masts and so on…

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While reading the companion book, kiddo sorted sea shells and counted her treasure…

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After that we learned about Vikings and ancient maps… even learned how to spell “Map.”

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And that’s what homeschooling a two year old looks like.

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Seed Savers – a series to be treasured

June 8, 2012 at 1:00 am (Education, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I haven’t been this in love with a young adult series since Harry Potter.  I haven’t been this in love with an individual young adult book since Lois Lowry’s The Giver, unless you count How To Buy A Love Of Reading by Tanya Egan Gibson (but her book, though it features a group of teens, is not really for young adults as far as I’m concerned.) I plucked it out of my mailbox, opened it, and read it in one sitting… 221 pages of exciting young adult goodness!  I devoured it, and it was delicious.  Book One of Seed Savers, titled Treasure, is no misnomer.  This book is truly a treasure!

Author S. Smith has written the latest and greatest of young adult dystopian society novels.  In the spirit of the previously mentioned Lowry novel and and Monica Hughes’ Invitation to the Game, Smith has given us solid middle grade tale featuring a new (and somewhat real) futuristic threat – illegal gardening.  It’s yet another great pre-cursor to students preparing to read Orwell’s 1984.  Educators everywhere should be aware of this rising star in children’s literature.

The detailed history of how this society came to be is part of its unique twist.  Most dystopian society stories don’t spend a lot time telling you how it got this way, just that it did and people didn’t notice, the path somewhat alluded to but not specific.  Smith helps point out the steps leading up to this future with factoids that suspciously resemble things that are happening in both the farmlands and corporate America.  From living organism patents made legal in the 1980’s to genetically engineered seedlings, Smith spells out just exactly how this future (though a little outlandish in a society newly obsessed with being eco-friendly in its marketing) could quite possibly go from where it is now to the kind of United States described in the book (corporations and the government in bed with each other making trouble for the little people – Banks, anyone?… in combination with the idea that a government can make a plant illegal – marijuana comes to mind).  Yet, she does this effortlessly, without killing the flow of the story.

I personally love social commentary presented through the art of fiction.  (You like this too? Check out this site: http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/371512?uid=3739920&uid=2129&uid=2&uid=70&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=56242603693).  I find it compelling and quite frankly the best way to address particular situations that when written about in a nonfiction format becomes an irate rant.  I love the way it personalizes events and characters in a book so quickly, in a way that the average story cannot do.  Get under the skin of an art fanatic… make it impossible for art to be appreciated, collected, loved (if you’re not a reader, check out the movie Equilibrium, then again, if you’re not a reader what’s up with you reading my blog? What brought you here? Leave me a comment.) Tug at the heartstrings of a gardener… attack the very core of their being by telling them in this reality, they can’t have one.

Needless to say, I loved it.  S. Smith, you are brilliant, my dear, and I can’t wait to read the rest of the series.  This one is going on loan to my nieces and nephews, is getting short listed on my very long list of required reading for my daughter who will one day be homeschooled.  It will be the fun fiction to parallel our botany classes that week, the friendly reminder of why she will be taught to tend her own garden, and perhaps raise a chicken.

Buy Your Copy of Seed Savers Today!

Visit the author’s website here: http://authorssmith.com/

Want to start your own garden (before its too late!), check out Mel Bartholomew’s Square Foot Gardening tutorial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N5Lu-7FIj_g

Also for fun, check out this blog: http://www.thisgardenisillegal.com/

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