Day in Denton

Here in Texas, we believe bigger is better. This goes for antique malls and left over independent book stores. Dallas is surrounded by a bunch of cool towns with little fun shops in them, and we decided to take a trip to Denton this weekend to check it out. Upon arrival we entered into a humungo book resell shop that also had an impressive record collection.

Did I tell you about the 1970’s record player we bought a while back? It functions as our TV stand as well. Slowly Chris has been collecting records and occasionally we play them a little too loud at night and dance around our living room. 

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The only qualm I had with the bookstore was that there were no price listings anywhere, and only a few items had stickers on them. So, I went up to the counter not knowing exactly how much everything was going to cost. I try to live life in the now, with a sense of free spirit, but no price markings makes me a bit anxious. I got the books anyway. 

We also went into three antique malls all within two blocks of each other. Texans take their antiquing seriously! Well sorta. Each antique mall is divided into booths were various individuals display their wares. Or in some cases, their junk. 

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Some of the shops are well organized and hold cool items, gems, or hidden treasures that make me want to buy all the things!

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Chris really wanted to see inside the sarcophagus, but it was locked up tight.

Chris really wanted to see inside the sarcophagus, but it was locked up tight.

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Not surprisingly, there are a lot of Star Wars collectibles in these antique malls. 

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One fun thing about antique malls is all the weird and random, sometimes scary, items that we find. I’ve seen a baby doll head on a lamp, a white fake Christmas tree with blue feathers springing from it, and a lamp stand that looked like a porcelain bottom with a rose tattoo. In Denton we found scary clowns and dolls that come apart at the seams. 

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His head, arms, and legs came off. Yes, he is eating another doll and the pin on his lapel says, "I'm the Boss!"

His head, arms, and legs come off. Yes, he is eating another doll and the pin on his lapel says, “I’m the Boss!”

One booth that is in almost any antique mall, and usually my favorite spot ever, is the hidden book corner. So many books! So little time to look around and see what treasures may be hidden and waiting to be read. 

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Book Review: Hunted by the Others

Last week as I was walking into work with a book under my arm, a client stopped me and asked me, all excitedly, if it was a Harry Potter book. I stopped and held it up so he could see it, “No, it’s another YA fiction series. But often scifi/ fantasy series use the same font and similar cover art, so it can be confusing!” In fact, font often plays a big part in why I will pick up a new series as I’ve come to recognize certain ones that invoke memories of other series that I love. Font is one of the reasons I picked up Hunted by the Others, by Jess Haines, when I was at the library the other week.

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Summary from Amazon

Shiarra Waynest’s detective work was dangerous enough when her client base was strictly mortal. But ailing finances have forced her to accept a lucrative case that could save her firm – if it doesn’t kill her first. Shiarra has signed on to work for a high-level mage to recover an ancient artifact owned by one of New York’s most powerful vampires. As soon as Shiarra meets sexy, mesmerizing vamp Alec Royce, she knows her assignment is even more complicated than she thought. With a clandestine anti-Other group trying to recruit her, and magi being eliminated, Shiarra needs back-up and enlists her ex-boyfriend – a werewolf whose non-furry form is disarmingly appealing – and a nerdy mage with surprising talents. But it may not be enough. In a city where the undead roam, magic rules, and even the Others aren’t always what they seem, Shiarra has just become the secret weapon in a battle between good and evil – whether she likes it or not…

Shiarra is an interesting urban fantasy heroine. Her parents and brothers are still around and supportive, she works with her best friend doing what they both love, and money problems are her biggest concern. Often urban fantasy heroines come from broken homes, bad backgrounds, and find their only support network is the vampires and werewolves in their lives. But not Shia, and I think that is what makes this series interesting. Yes, she has more to loose, and that can be played against her, but she also has a reason to live and to find a way around the maneuverings of the mages and vampires. However, one of Shia’s flaws is her bigoted thinking of Others, influenced by her family’s phobia, so having a strong family network does not always help. While she does learn to set aside some of her prejudices as the book develops, the process was a bit clunky. While I’m all for the badass huntress thing, Shia’s is more window dressing than anything real substantial as she grapples with her new place in the world. But, seeing as this is the first book in the series, I will give some latitude to her learning curve and save final judgment on her character for a couple more books. 

I quite enjoyed the cast of characters in this book from the sexy vampire to the geeky mage. Some of their characteristics were predictable, especially Alex the mysterious and overbearing vampire and Chaz, the ex-boyfriend, with a puppy-dog like desire to follow her around. But despite the sexy vampire being a dark brooding vampire and the hot werewolf being all hairy and manly, nerdy Arnold the mage is my favorite secondary character. He is intelligent, sneaky, and willing to help when it suits his purpose. While he has ulterior motives up the wazoo, none of them include sleeping with Shia which was refreshing. I mean the whole triangle thing is obviously going on with the werewolf and vampire, but if the mage was after her too, I was going to be a bit – le sigh all the boys want Shiarra. I found Shia’s partner and best friend, Sara, interesting and the brief look into her unusual past only whetted my appetite to learn more. I’ll admit by nerdy and law interests bias me in favor of these characters, because I like how they think and act. I especially like that though nerdy, Arnold gets into the thick of things. Sara wants to use her brain for good and struggles with moral gray areas. What? A lawyer portrayed with ethics? Yes, and thank you. 

Speaking of lawyers.. after the reveal of the Others in the wake of 9/11, legislature became very important to try and stop the Others from committing atrocities toward the poor humans (no wonder Shia has some biases). One way is through the requirement of a Contract between the Other and the Human stating that the Human has willingly given over to the Other and that if the Human is killed, the Other is not legally responsibly. This plays into Shia’s first case with Alec because he insists she sign a Contract with him. How she handles this is the most surprising part of the book, and one of the reasons I kept reading the book and want to continue with the series.

While this series is not as dark as some of the other urban fantasy I’ve ready, as it does have its lighter moments, it was not a light-hearted romp, by any means. If you like police procedural urban fantasy with a dose of chuckles check out Hunted by the Others

Read a review by Love Vampires, The Happy Logofile, and check out the author’s site for a list of more reviews and the other books in the series. 

Television Review: Witches of East End

After the bar I needed something to help me decompress from an extremely stressful summer and keep me occupied as I made boutonnieres, glued burlap and lace to jars, and created bridesmaids bouquets for my upcoming nuptials. Netflix kept recommending I watch Witches of East End and sometimes Netflix is right, so I decided to give it a chance and I’m really glad I did. 

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Julie Ormond (First Knight, Legends of the Fall, and Sabrina) stars in this show as a powerful witch who is keeping a secret from her two daughters, that they too are witches. Joanna has many secrets from her grown daughters, Freya and Ingrid. But when the girls start exhibiting powers, she can no longer act dismissively and must begin to reveal to them their heritage. Then her sister shows up at her doorstep as a cat, and Joanna’s life becomes even more complicated. 

I really enjoy this series. I think it is an incredible cast of characters and as the season goes on they become more of an ensemble cast than it just being about Joanna. Plus, the series pulls in some serious acting power! Each of the girls characters takes shape and they each have their own story lines that are interwoven with the family and magic. Ingrid is a librarian and her geeky side really helps her understand the Latin spells, plus the library she works in is just amazingly beautiful! Freya is  a free spirited bartender who is engaged to one man, but starts to fall in love with his brother who shows up in her premonitions. Everything gets wonderfully complicated in a this-would-never-happen-in-real-life-i-hope kind of way. And Joanna’s sister, Wendy, sticks around for the season and her character beautifully complements Joanna’s. Where one has a weakness the other has a strength. They don’t just blindly follow each other, but discuss and disagree with respect. Most of the time. 

Witches of East End reminds me of Charmed in that it is a female ensemble cast with their own problems that comes together and help each other out. Often women on television are shown as katty and unhelpful toward each other, so it is quite refreshing to see a cast of women actively and sincerely involved in each others lives. However, unlike Charmed, this show is less campy and more on the dark side. For example, Ingrid brings someone back to life and there are some really serious consequences I thought the show would gloss over, but did not. Some of the choices the women must make are heartbreaking. 

If you like magic, ensemble shows, and empowering female characters who are multidimensional with their own vices and problems, check out Witches of East End. 

Josephine Tussaud Wax Museum

Some time last fall I went with my sister to Hot Springs, Arkansas, which was an experience all its own. It is all very touristy, but also on the decline.  It is weird to watch history fade from a place, and sad. We went to the Josephine Tussaud Wax Museum. What once was a casino and supper club in the 60’s, now houses various scenes in wax. The escalator was not working and at some point many of the wax figures had been replaced due to a fire. While a lot of the figures resembled the people they were supposed to, I must say I was expecting them to be more realistic, and I did quite enjoy the characters from the stories, which need not look like anyone in particular. The scene from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was probably my favorite.

The lighting in this place was terrible, I honestly think it was because they didn’t want you to notice that most of the figures did not look like the people they were representing. Plus, my phone does not have the best camera. But I got a couple of interesting photos.

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In My Element

This weekend Chris and I went to an estate sale on a whim since we both had the day off. While there the car overheated, which waylaid our plans and so we found a shady spot and walked around for a bit. Once we finally got back on the road it was really bad traffic so when we saw the Forth Worth Montgomery Antique Mall we pulled over and spent some time wandering the aisles. It is MASSIVE! I’ve been to many antique malls over the years and this was by far the biggest store I have been to. I would guess it was the size of a football field. But my favorite little shop (the mall is divided into several shops) was a book corner I found. The book I’m holding was worth $40. Unfortunately, I forget the title.

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Cigarette Zombies

Razor sharp teeth, mouth agape, lips stretched wider than a human’s mouth should go, a monster that was once a man rushed past me. I threw my arm out and caught the child by my side, pushing us up against the wall hoping the oncoming swarm would pass by and leave us alone.

It all started earlier while I was stocking shelves. The last of summer’s water toys were going up for clearance, the bright colors out of place next to all the decorations for Halloween. Holidays arrived earlier every year. My co-worker next to me was peeved, “I just don’t understand.” He mumbled.

“CVS and Walgreens merged, they are now one company.” I explained again. “We have to get inventory ready for the merger now that we work for Walgreens.”

“I can’t believe we work for Walgreens. I just don’t understand.” She mumbled again.

I noticed a wiry man with long stringy graying hair shuffle pass me, looking around out of the corner of his eyes. Checking to see if any of us employees noticed him. Suspicious behavior requires excellent customer service, so I went over to him and offered to help him find something. My co-worker peeked around the corner to see where I had gone, his brown bangs swinging in his face, hiding his eyes. The customer didn’t need my help and shambled away from me. “Surprisingly”, I found work to do near him, watching for more suspicious behavior.

He was looking at cartoons of cigarettes which for some reason had been temporarily moved because of the merger and were no longer locked up or put out of reach. He piled his arms full of them and headed toward the checkout counter. I kept “fixing” the items on a shelf watching to see what he would do. Suddenly he darted toward the automatic sliding doors and ran outside with his stolen loot. Fast on his heels was a old woman, her arms also full of stolen cigarettes.

I stood up from where I was shelving lotions, and watched as the man and woman flung cigarettes into the air, liberating them for the masses. Quicker than I would have dreamed possible, hordes of tobacco starved people began to pile onto the street grabbing at the falling cigarettes. I caught movement in my right peripheral and saw a gaping mouth, spread too wide, full of inhuman teeth running toward me and realized I was in the way of the zombie and his cigarettes.

I reached out for my co-worker and pulled her back against the wall next to me, hoping that we would not be bitten by such horrific teeth. His mouth loomed closer and closer. Something wasn’t right. How was the child next to me also a man and a woman? Why would  a cigarette zombie even exists?

I woke with a start and rolled over pushing my face into the pillow. Ugh, zombie interrupted sleep. Again.

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Picture by Chris who also suggested the ending, and wants credit for it.