Half Price Books presents the Half Price Blog featuring book reviews, music and movie reviews, trivia and randomness about things we love. That means a whole lot of fiction, nonfiction, music, movies, games, and collectibles… including rare and out-of-print literary treasures.
 
Meet all our Blog Authors & Contributors »

Authors
Becky
Potluck-genius, insomniac-procrastinator and crafting-whiz. Inventor of the “Hey that’s my Boots!” CEO Paper Doll, the HPB Snuggie, braille t-shirt and Tacky BW Holiday Sweater.
Emily
PR maven, news junkie, baseball fanatic, late-night talk show watcher, frequent restaurant diner and former VH-1 reality show addict.
Jim
Film buff and wanna-be chef. Who's up for dinner and a movie?! Crouching Tiger stir-fry or Godfather spaghetti and a bottle of vino. Please, no talking or texting during the movie.
 
Meredith
Donned in an apron, baking pies and other tempting treats – there's nothing desperate about this housewife. Loves travel, the great outdoors, classic films, indie music and non-fiction.
Steve
The Buy Guy is a quarter-century-plus employee expert on all things books & music; his favorite buy involved hundreds of old theology books from the Mount St. Michael Convent hilltop library in Spokane, Washington.
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Friday
Apr172015

Prepare for Star Wars: The Force Awakens

I may be showing my age here, but anyone who grew in the 70's remembers camping out in lines that went around the block just to see Star Wars for a fifth time. As a movie buff, few things make me feel like a kid again, but with this new Star Wars trailer out, I can't wait to see this movie. It should be exciting, with director JJ Abrams behind the camera, who is known for rebooting the Star Trek franchise. Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be in theaters December 18. That gives you plenty of time to drop by Half Price Books and pick up the original other Star Wars movies on Blu-Ray or DVD. Also, take home a few comics and books to get yourself prepared for this fall release. If you come by on Saturday, May 2nd, you can take home a comic book free with any purchase as part of Comic Book Day!

   

Check out the trailer!

What is your favorite movie in the Star Wars saga?

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Jim is Art Director at Half Price Books Corporate.

Wednesday
Apr152015

Before They Can Read: 10 Children's Book Illustrators Both Kids & Parents Will Love

For youngsters who can’t yet read on their own, like my precious daughter, illustrations in books are the heart of engaging imagination and captivating attention. Children’s literature is rich with beautiful art that can help a child develop a love of books (just as soon as they pass the stage where eating the book is the primary intrigue).

As adults who are reading aloud to your kids, I believe it’s important that you enjoy the book, too, if for no other reason than it means you’re more likely to read it over and over again, making story time a cherished ritual with your kiddos. While there are some amazing classic children's books which every child should read, here are 10 illustrators whose artwork will get you (and your babes and tots) hooked on books.


Oliver Jeffers is an artist, illustrator and writer from Belfast in Northern Ireland who now lives in Brooklyn, New York. Jeffers uses mixed media and figurative painting, along with his own style of composition, to create enchanting illustrations which are adored by readers of all ages. Several of his books – including Stuck and This Moose Belongs to Me (shown above) – rose to the top of the New York Times bestseller list. The Day the Crayons Quit, written by Drew Daywalt, comes to life thanks to the illustrations by Jeffers. Follow him @OliverJeffers on Twitter.

Canadian-born author and illustrator Peter H. Reynolds is known for his children’s picture books which encourage creativity and self expression, including The North Star, The Dot (shown above), Ish and So Few Me. The Dot is among my favorites. Clearly others agree, since it’s been published in more than 20 languages around the world. Follow him @peterhreynolds on Twitter.

Benji Davies is both an illustrator and animator. His work on the printed page features colorful scenes and charming characters, like award-winning On Sudden Hill, written by Linda Sarah, Goodnight Already! by Jory John, The Storm Whale (shown above) and dozens more. Follow him @Benji_Davies on Twitter.

Jane Chapman (also known by her pseudonym Jack Tickle) really hit her stride with the bestselling picture book Bear Snores On, written by Karma Wilson and published in 2002. Chapman’s feathery brush strokes are easy to spot. Due to her tendency to illustrate anthropomorphized creatures great and small, I’ve been compelled to acquire several of her books for my daughter’s library.

Chapman's husband, Tim Warnes, is also an illustrator, comic artist and children’s book author. One of my favorite board books which features Warnes’ work is I Love You to the Moon and Back. It’s sweet, gentle rhyme was written by Amelia Hepworth. Warnes and Chapman live in Dorset, England, with their son Noah. Teamed up, they published Hands Off My Honey! Follow this duo @chapmanwarnes on Twitter.


Mo Willems is an American writer, animator and creator of lovable children’s books. Caldecott honors and critically-acclaimed for starters, Willems' picture books offer whimsy with a twist on the ordinary. Known for Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale, Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs and dozens more. Follow him @The_Pigeon on Twitter.


Carin Berger is an author, designer and illustrator who created OK Go! and Not So True Stories & Unreasonable Rhymes. My favorite among her work is her latest picture book, called The Little Yellow Leaf,where she uses collage-based illustrations. Its subtlety and simplicity are delightful. Follow her @CarinBerger on Twitter.

Los Angeles-based illustrator Brigette Barrager has a retro style that harkens back to the 50s and 60s. She illustrated Where Does Kitty Go in the Rain?, written by Harriet Ziefert. Barrager also illustrates princesses, unicorns and paper dolls. Follow her @missbrigette on Twitter and Instagram.  

Charles Santoso is a picture book illustrator based out of Sydney, Australia. Perhaps the inspiration for his latest work came from Down Under as well. I Don’t Like Koala, written by Sean Ferrell, just hit shelves this week. Follow him @minitreehouse on Twitter.

Erin E. Stead is a Caldecott award-winning illustrator of children’s books. Her first publication was A Sick Day for Amos McGee, written by her husband Philip C. Stead, who is also an artist. Her other award-winning works include Bear Has a Story to Tell, also written by her husband, plus And Then It’s Spring (shown above), written by Julie Fogliano.

Who is your favorite contemporary illustrator of children's books?

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Meredith is Creative Director at Half Price Books Corporate. 
You can follow her on Twitter at @msquare21.

Friday
Apr102015

Happy Birthday Beverly Cleary: Celebrating Drop Everything and Read Day

Beverly Cleary turns 99-years-old on Sunday! The beloved author of books like Henry Huggins, The Mouse and the Motorcyle and the Ramona series, was born on April 12, 1916. We would like to celebrate her birthday by telling you a few things you may not know about this author.

  • Yamhill, OR, the town where Mrs. Cleary was raised, did not have a library. So her mother made an arrangement with the State Library to have books sent to her and then created a reading area in a small room above the Yamhill Bank.
  • After moving to Portland in the first grade, Beverly came down with the chicken pox and was out of school for a while. Being behind in her schoolwork when she returned she was placed in the lowest reading circle and quickly became bored with her required reading selection.  Since Mrs. Cleary began writing, she has always kept in mind children who are struggling with reading.
  • Though Mrs. Cleary’s parents had another gentleman in mind for her, Beverly eloped with Clarence Cleary, whom she had met in college.
  • Though Mrs. Cleary was determined to write “the kind of books [she] wanted to read,” she followed her mother’s advice and got a steady job as a librarian.
  • When her husband asked her why she didn’t write a book, Mrs. Cleary said, “Because we never have any sharp pencils,” so the next day Mr. Cleary brought her a pencil sharpener.
  •  Mrs. Cleary’s mother also advised her to write simply and make her books humorous, because “everyone likes to laugh.”
  • Mrs. Cleary’s first book Henry Huggins was published in 1950.

  • Mrs. Cleary’s best-loved character, Ramona, appeared as a minor character in Henry Huggins
  • Mrs. Cleary had a neighbor named Ramona, and one day, as Mrs. Cleary was writing the character of an annoying little sister, she heard someone call out “Ramona!” so that became the name of her character.
  • Mrs. Cleary would bake bread while she wrote.
  • You can see statues of Ramona Quimby and other Cleary characters in Portland’s Grant Park.  Many scenes from several of Cleary’s books take place in Grant Park.
  • Mrs. Cleary is a cat lover and owned one cat who tired of competing with the typewriter for Cleary’s attention, would sit on the keys
  • In 2000, Mrs. Cleary was named a living legend by the Library of Congress.
  • Mrs. Cleary’s last book Two Times the Fun was published in 2005.  It is an omnibus, containing stories like The Growing-Up Feet, Two Dog Biscuits and Janet’s Thingamajigs.

  • In Mrs. Cleary’s  book Ramona Quimby, Age 8, Ramona’s class celebrates Drop  Everything And Read (D.E.A.R.) Day, a day set aside to encourage everyone to take time in their day to read.  As a result, D.E.A.R. Day is now celebrated every April 12 to coincide with Mrs. Cleary’s birthday. What a wonderful way to celebrate someone’s birthday!

So, don’t forget to stop by your local Half Price Books on Sunday, April 12, and take time to read something fun. Perhaps even revisit your childhood by picking up a copy of your favorite Beverly Cleary book.

Happy Birthday, Mrs. Cleary!

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Julie is Traffic Manager at Half Price Books Corporate.
You may follow her on Twitter at @auntjewey.

Wednesday
Apr012015

Local Store Events Round-Up: April 2015

Looking for something to do at your favorite book store? Check out these fun happenings at Half Price Books stores across the country during the month of April!

ALL STORES

2015 HPB Tournament of Fandoms!

We’re down to the final four in our The Tournament of Fandoms! Your votes will decide who has the biggest fans of all. May the best fans win!
 
ARIZONA

HPB at Phoenix Pride Festival

Look for the Half Price Books booth at the 35th Annual Phoenix Pride Festival on Saturday & Sunday, April 11-12, from noon - 9 p.m., at Steele Indian School Park. We’ll have books, music and movies to sell plus valuable coupons! See you there!

Phoenix – Camelback

First Sunday Storytime

Pack up your half-pint readers and come to your Camelback HPB for Storytime Sundays. Sit down and enjoy a good tale with us at 1 p.m. on the first Sunday of each month. All young readers and listeners are welcome! See you April 5!

Jeannine Pondozzi Book Signing
Meet local author Jeannine Pondozzi on Saturday, April 25, from 1 to 3 p.m. at your Camelback HPB in Phoenix. Jeannine will sell and sign her books including, The House of Santos series. Books will be sold independently by the author while supplies last.

ILLINOIS

Niles
Saturday Storytime

Pack up your half-pint readers and come to your Village Crossing HPB for Storytime Saturday. Sit down and enjoy a good tale with us at 3 p.m. on the first Saturday of each month. All young readers and listeners are welcome! See you April 4!

Orland Park
20% Off Vinyl Sale

Listen up, audiophiles! Saturday, April 18, from 3 to 5 p.m. we're giving you 20% off all vinyl at your Orland Park HPB. We’ll be spinning classic tunes and at 4 p.m., DJ Tanner will hold a Vinyl-themed trivia contest with a chance to win a Vinyl Gift Pack. Be sure to thumb through our vast collection of LPs and discover new treasures to add to your vinyl collection.

Gerald Manuel Book Signing

Meet author and pastor Gerald Manuel on Saturday, April 25, from 1 to 3 p.m. at your Orland Park HPB. Pastor Manuel will sell, sign and discuss his book How to Identify Your Spiritual Soul Mate, which provides valuable dating advice for adults of all ages and backgrounds. Books will be sold independently by the author while supplies last.


INDIANA

Pop Mania Saturday

Pop, Pop! Check out the magnitude of items on sale! Saturday, April 18, all Indiana HPB stores are offering an additional 20% off select comics, graphic novels, manga, music and movies!

Bloomington – Half Price Books Outlet

Vinyl Thursdays

Listen up, audiophiles! Your Bloomington HPB Outlet is offering 50% Off Vinyl each Thursday. You can buy stacks o'wax, a plethora of platters, gobs of grooves, loads of LPs, or as many as you please.  See store for details.

Indianapolis – Northbrook/Greenbriar

Greyhound Pet Adoptions

Looking for a loyal friend, a lovable buddy, a canine companion? On the 4th Saturday of each month, from 2 to 4 p.m., Greyhound Pets of America - Indianapolis will bring their Greyhound dogs for a meet and greet. Stop by your HPB at 86th and Ditch Rd. and meet the fastest dog on earth. Learn about this affectionate breed and how you can adopt a retired racing Greyhound. See store for details. See you April 25!

Indianapolis – Clearwater Village

Ta’Sean McKinley Book Signing

Meet youth minister and author Ta’Sean McKinley on Friday, April 17, from 6 to 9 p.m. at your Clearwater Village HPB in Indianapolis. Ta’Sean will sell and sign his inspirational autobiography Unaccompanied. Books will be sold independently by the author while supplies last.

Marc Thomas Eckel Book Signing
Meet Fort Wayne artist and author Marc Thomas Eckel on Friday, April 24, from 5 to 7 p.m. at your Clearwater Village HPB in Indianapolis. Marc will sell and sign his latest novel ReBoren, based on the two lives of Chaplain John Boren . Books will be sold independently by the author while supplies last.

KENTUCKY

Bowling Green – Half Price Books Outlet

Literature Art Competition

Calling all creatives! Your Bowling Green HPB Outlet is hosting an art competition in April with the theme of “Literature.” Students and local artists are invited to submit original mixed-media artwork or photography that fit the “Literature” theme from April 1 through April 15. Artwork will be on display in the store from April 16 through April 25, when customers are invited to vote for their favorite pieces. On

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Thursday
Mar262015

The Sweet Sixteen: Matching Up Basketball Movie Classics

It’s the end of March, folks, which means that Spring has sprung, we’ve all worn our green and March Madness is in full swing. Since we’re down to 16 contenders, I thought I’d match up some of the best basketball-themed movies. Which are your favorites?

90s Faves

Eddie (1996)—Limo driver Eddie (Whoopi Goldberg) wins a contest to coach the New York Knicks, whipping the team back into shape before their owner moves them to St. Louis!

 

 

White Men Can’t Jump (1992)—Hustlers Billy (Woody Harrelson) and Sidney (Wesley Snipes) band together and take to the court in Los Angeles, with laughs along the way.

 

 

 

The Thinkers

Finding Forrester (2000)—Basketball player and brilliant student Jamal Wallace (Rob Brown) befriends reclusive author William Forrester (Sean Connery), helping Jamal pursue his true dream of writing.

 

 

O (2001)­­—A modern take on Shakespeare’s Othello, O tells the store of the basketball prodigy Odin (Mekhi Phifer) and jealous coach’s son Hugo (Josh Hartnett), leading to a tragic conclusion.

 

 

Coach Spotlights

Sunset Park (1996)—Phyllis Saroka (Rhea Perlman) is the white, female coach of an all-black high school boys’ basketball team. More than just a coach, Saroka inspires the team to greatness.

 

 

Coach Carter (2005)—Samuel L. Jackson stars as Ken Carter, who imposes a behavior-based contract on his basketball team. When the team breaks the contract, they are benched—all of them.

 

 

Love Stories

Love & Basketball (2000)—Sanaa Lathan and Omar Epps star in this hoops-themed romance about two life-long friends who navigate the twists and turns of love while also building pro careers.

 

 

Just Wright (2010)—Queen Latifah portrays physical therapist Leslie Wright, who begins to treat NBA star Scott McKnight (Common). When Leslie begins to fall for her patient, what will she do?

 

 

Shaq vs. Michael

Space Jam (1996)This ‘90s classic pits Michael Jordan and our favorite Looney Tunes characters against a pack of aliens and NBA starts in a basketball showdown to ensure their freedom.

 

 

Blue Chips (1994)Shaquille O’Neal makes his acting debut in this classic story about a coach who is forced to break the rules of recruiting to keep his school competitive.

 

 

 

Kid Faves

Air Bud (1997)—Young Josh Framm (Kevin Zegers) befriends a stray dog named Buddy with a unique ability to play basketball. Buddy helps Josh embrace his own basketball talent and overcome the odds.

 

 

Like Mike (2002)—A legendary pair of basketball shoes and a bit of supernatural intervention leads orphan Calvin (Shad Moss a.k.a. Lil Bow Wow) all the way to the NBA.

 

 

 

Family Dynamics

Above the Rim (1994)—Kyle Lee Watson is a promising basketball star whose relationship with brothers Birdie (Tupac Shakur), a drug dealer, and Shep, a former hoops star, could be his downfall.

 

 

He Got Game (1998)—Spike Lee’s classic tells the story of Jesus Shuttlesworth, whose budding basketball career is overshadowed by his father, Jake (Denzel Washington), who is in prison.

 

 

Championship Classics

Hoosiers (1986)—One of the greatest basketball (and sports) movies of all time, Hoosiers is based on the true story of a high school team in Indiana that overcame the odds to make the state finals.

 

 

Glory Road (2006)—Coach Don Haskins (Josh Lucas) leads the 1966 Texas Western University basketball team, the first all-black starting line up, to the NCAA championship.

 

 

 

Honorable Mentions: Teen Wolf (1985), The Basketball Diaries (1995), The 6th Man (1997), Semi-Pro (2008)

That’s a whole lotta hoops! Did I miss any of your favorite basketball classics?

Looking for more great matchups? Cast your vote in our Tournament of Fandoms today!

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Jason is Email Marketing Coordinator at Half Price Books Corporate.
You can follow him on Twitter @jasonapermenter.