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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.
JD
Music enthusiast and all around acceptable person. Take it or leave it, JD will say things about music that you'll either love, hate, or feel indifferent about.
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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Tuesday
May062014

Books Authors Read with Christina Lauren

We continue our "Books Authors Read" series with Christina Lauren, the combined pen name of long-time writing partners Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings. Christina Lauren will stop by our Dallas Flagship store on Sunday, May 11 at noon as part of the Belles on Wheels bus tour. To tide you over until then, here are some of their favorite reads! – Emily

We’re lucky enough that we get to play in multiple sandboxes: erotic romance, contemporary romance, young adult fiction and even free-form stories on Wattpad. As readers, too, we’ve always gravitated toward romance of any form, whether it’s for teens or adults, and our bookshelves definitely reflect that. Our list of favorites seems to grow longer every year. Here are but a few!

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

When this story opened, we worried that it would be heartbreaking (it can be) or difficult (it is, a little), but the voice is so strong and so gorgeous, that it immediately eclipses the early heartbreak. What grows over the pages, really, is a story so wonderfully sweet and uplifting, with prose that is both real and completely absorbing, that it’s one of the few books we both reread at least once a year. By far, our favorite book of all time.

Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

In contrast to The Sky Is Everywhere, Forbidden is hands-down the hardest book we’ve ever read. It grabs your heart and squeeze, squeeze, squeezes until the very last page when you want to lie down and cry for a week. But it is so good, and the writing is so wonderful, and the story is so different than anything else out there that it’s the best kind of pain, the most delicious kind of book to read where it makes you feel things no other book makes you feel, and you never want to go back and un-read it.

Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert K Massie

Oh, if you love biographies, this book is for you. Massie makes Catherine real, and accessible and damn—girl gets hers. Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction, and in this case, nonfiction trumps so much fiction out there. Most of us know about her awful marriage to Peter, but what we loved here is the story of how she learned to live by her rules, how intelligent she was (far more intelligent and savvy than anyone around her, frankly) in a time when most women weren’t allowed to read, to write, to take power in the form of knowledge. We’re toying with the idea of writing a historical romance with a modern edge based on her life.

She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb

Lamb is Lauren’s favorite author by about a mile, and this is a book she’s reread at least a dozen times since college. Dolores Price narrates her story—with humor, heart, and a sometimes shocking level of obliviousness—starting from when she’s a little girl until she’s a grown woman. Her childhood is rife with accumulated small and big traumas. She’s overweight, lonely, abused and eventually broken. But this story is about her rebirth, really, and it’s one of the few books that gives the reader every heart wrenching piece of it: of her setbacks and victories, of her bad decisions and the increasing number of moments that Delores takes charge of her life and sees her own worth. It’s a female voice, in first person, masterfully delivered by a man. Simply adore this book.

Angelfall by Susan Ee

Angelfall is a mile a minute roller coaster. Make sure you’re settled in with snacks and hydration, because once you pick this one up, you won’t be able to put it down. It’s been six weeks since the apocalypse and the angels have descended from the sky. The catch? They aren’t the good guys. It opens on a dark, deserted street and a single feather floating down to the ground, and never stops. Literally. Penryn is a smart, capable heroine and Raffe will tear your heart out. We were lucky enough to discover this gem when author Susan Ee was still self-publishing, so it’s awesome to see it and it’s sequel, Worlds After in bookstores today.

The Curse Worker Series by Holly Black

What we love most about this series—and there is plenty to love—is how seamlessly Black has built a completely different reality in the very world we live in. She’s slipped in Curse Workers into our history, and our political system, and makes the reader believe this might actually be true. Her characters are tough and edgy, but you can’t help but want to take them home and make them dinner anyway, if only to give them a little break from the constant tight corners in which they find themselves.

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Talk about badass. Andi is about as badass as you can get. She’s independent, salty, broken—but stronger than she thinks. She’s failing out of school and the only thing that matters to her is her music, her mother, and her dead brother. And that’s just the first chapter! Initially this sounded like something we weren’t sure could be done. Time shifts in books are often clunky, disorienting or so overdone you feel like you’ve been clobbered when you finish the book. Also, history as a rule scares one of us (Lauren): as a scientist, she works by rules and structure, and history is so easily remade with each iteration. But, in the end, that’s the point of this one. The story is so complex, but it never lets go of the reader’s hand. It is triumphant and heartbreaking—a truly fascinating read.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

This is a newer read for us—one we both devoured over the holidays—and a totally delightful one. It has unique voice coming out of its ears:  a different sort of narrator that we found irresistible. Of course there are a few savant-like stereotypes in there, but it’s nearly impossible to not completely fall in love with Don.

--

Romance author duo, Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings, are New York Times bestselling authors of Beautiful Bastard and Beautiful Stranger.

You can visit them online or follow them on twitter at @seeCwrite and @lolashoes

Thursday
May012014

21 Comic Book Challenges You Won't Believe!

EDITOR'S NOTE: Half Price Books is committed to buying and selling anything printed or recorded, except yesterday's newspaper! Did you know that HPB carries a great selection of comics, graphic novels and comic-related merchandise? Come check it out this weekend for annual Comic Book Giveaway event taking place at participating HPB locations this Saturday, May 3.

This year, we've teamed up with the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, our super heroes at protecting our right to read comics! Enjoy this post from our friend, Charles Brownstein, Executive Director at the CBLDF and we'll see you this weekend! -- Becky

 

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is a non-profit organization that protects the freedom to read comics, and we're proud to welcome Half Price Books to our roster of Corporate Members.  Many people ask whether censorship is still a problem facing comics, and the answer is a shocking yes.  In 2013 the year's tenth most challenged book was Bone by Jeff Smith.  Last year also saw the Chicago Public Schools attempt to ban Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis.  The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund fights these challenges when they happen, getting involved at the first sign of trouble and assisting communities to help keep comics on the shelf.  We also create proactive resources to help increase understanding of comics before challenges occur.

 

Today we take a look at 21 surprising comics challenges, providing the title, where the challenge occurred, and the allegations brought against the book.  To read the full story of these challenges, or to learn more about the CBLDF's important work, come on over to our website.

 1. Amazing Spider-Man: Revelations by J. Michael Straczynski, John Romita, Jr., and Scott Hanna

 

• Location of key challenge: A middle-school library in Millard, Nebraska

• Reason challenged: Sexual overtones

 

The parent of a 6-year-old who checked out the book filed a complaint and took the story to the media; the parent also withheld the book for the duration of the review process rather than returning it per library policy. Read more here.

 

2. Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley

 

• Location of key challenge: Stark County District Library in Canton, Ohio

• Reason challenged: Sexism, offensive language, and unsuited to age group


Despite the challenge, the library retained the book and now holds two copies, which are shelved in the Teen section. Read more here.

 

3. Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore and Brian Boland

 

• Location of key challenge: Columbus, Nebraska, Public Library

• Reason challenged: Advocates rape and violence

 

The library review board members present voted unanimously to retain the book when it was challenged by a single patron.  Read more here.

 

4. Blankets by Craig Thompson

 

• Location of key challenge: The public library in Marshall, Missouri

• Reason challenged: Obscene images

 

CBLDF wrote a letter to the Marshall library on behalf of Blankets and Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, playing a key role in keeping both books on shelves. Read more here.

 

5. Bone by Jeff Smith

 

• Location of key challenge: Independent School District 196 in Rosemount, Minnesota

• Reason challenged: Promotion of smoking and drinking

 

A letter from Jeff Smith decrying the attempted ban of his book was read aloud at the library review committee’s hearing, and the challenge was ultimately rejected by a 10-1 vote, to the praise of Smith and the CBLDF. Read more here.

 

6. Dragon Ball by Akira Toriyama

 

• Location of key challenge: All public school libraries in Wicomico County, Maryland

• Reason challenged: Violence and nudity

 

The library review committee recommended that the books in the Dragon Ball series, which were recommended by the publisher for ages 13+, be removed from the entire public school library system, including at the high school level. Read more here.

 

7. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

 

• Location of key challenge: The public library in Marshall, Missouri

• Reason challenged: Obscene images

 

CBLDF wrote a letter to the Marshall library on behalf of Fun Home and Craig Thompson’s Blankets, playing a key role in keeping both books on shelves. Read more here.

 

8. Ice Haven by Daniel Clowes

 

• Location of key challenge: A high school in Guilford, Connecticut

• Reason challenged: Profanity, coarse language, and brief non-sexual nudity

 

A high school teacher was forced to resign from his job after a parent filed both a complaint with the school and a police complaint against the teacher for lending a high school freshman a copy of Eightball #22, which was later published as the graphic novel Ice Haven. Read more here.

 

9. In The Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak

 

• Location of key challenge: Multiple locations

• Reason challenged: Nudity

 

In the Night Kitchen was not often removed from shelves; instead, librarians censored it by painting underwear or diapers over the genitals of the main character, a precocious child named Mickey. Read more here.

 

10. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill

 

• Location of key challenge: Jessamine County Public Library in Kentucky

• Reason challenged: Sex scenes

 

Two employees of the Jessamine County Public Library in Kentucky were fired after they took it upon themselves to withhold the library’s copy of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier from circulation because they felt it was pornographic. Read more here.

 

11. Maus by Art Spiegelman

 

• Location of key challenge: Pasadena Public Library in Pasadena, California

• Reason challenged: Anti-ethnic and unsuited for age group

 

Nick Smith of the Pasadena Public Library describes the challenge as being “made by a Polish-American who is very proud of his heritage, and who had made other suggestions about adding books on Polish history… The thing is, Maus made him uncomfortable, so he didn’t want other people to read it. That is censorship, as opposed to parental guidance.” Read more here.

 

12. Neonomicon by Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows

 

• Location of key challenge: The public library in Greenville, South Carolina

• Reason challenged: Sexual content

 

Despite giving her 14-year-old daughter permission to check out the book, which was appropriately shelved in the adult section of the library, a mother filed a complaint, claiming the book was “pornographic.” CBLDF wrote a letter in support of the book, but it remains out of circulation pending review. Read more here.

 

13. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

 

• Location of key challenge: The public school system in Chicago, Illinois

• Reason challenged: Profanity, violent content

 

Furor erupted when Chicago Public Schools sent an email to local principals, directing them to remove all copies of Marjane Satrapi’s award-winning graphic novel Persepolis. CPS backpedalled on the initial email, sending a second email clarifying that the book was to be retained in libraries. It was removed from Grade 7 classrooms and remains under review for use in Grade 8 -10 classrooms. Read more here.

 

14. Pride of Baghdad by Brian K. Vaughn and Niko Henricho

 

• Location of key challenge: Various

• Reason challenged: Sexual content

 

Despite receiving high praise from the ALA and Booklist and featuring a cast consisting of animals, the book has been challenged at libraries for sexual content. Read more here

 

15. Sandman by Neil Gaiman and various artists

 

• Location of key challenge: Various

• Reason challenged: Anti-family themes, offensive language, and unsuited for age group

 

When asked about how he felt when Sandman was labelled unsuitable for teens, Gaiman responded, “I suspect that having a reputation as adult material that’s unsuitable for teens will probably do more to get teens to read Sandman than having the books ready and waiting on the YA shelves would ever do.” Read more here.

 

16. SideScrollers by Matthew Loux

 

• Location of key challenge: The public school district in Enfield, Connecticut

• Reason challenged: Profanity and sexual references

 

The school district removed the book from non-compulsory summer reading lists, possibly violating its own review policy, which states in part that “no parent nor group of parents has the right to negate the use of educational resources for students other than his/her own child.” CBLDF wrote a letter in support of the book and is still awaiting a response from the school board. Read more here.

 

17. Stuck in the Middle, edited by Ariel Schrag

 

• Location of key challenge: The public school system in Dixfield, Maine

• Reason challenged: Language, sexual content, and drug references

 

CBLDF wrote a letter in support of the book, and the school board voted to leave the book on library shelves with the caveat the students must have parental permission to check out the book. “While we’re pleased to see the book retained in the library’s collection, we’re very disappointed that it is retained with restrictions,” said Executive Director Charles Brownstein. Read more here.

 

18. Stuck Rubber Baby by Howard Cruse

 

• Location of key challenge: Montgomery County Memorial Library System, Texas

• Reason challenged: Depiction of homosexuality

 

The book was challenged alongside 15 other young adult books with gay positive themes. The book was ultimately retained in the Montgomery County system, but was reclassified from Young Adult to Adult. Read more here.

 

19. Tank Girl by Alan Martin and Jamie Hewlett

 

• Location of key challenge: Hammond Public Library in Hammond, Indiana

• Reason challenged: Nudity and violence

 

The Tank Girl books are meant to entertain an adult audience, frequently depicting violence, flatulence, vomiting, sex, and drug use. After the 2009 challenge, the Hammond Public Library chose to retain the book, and it remains on shelves today. Read more here.

 

20. The Color of Earth by Kim Dong Hwa

 

• Location of key challenge: Various

• Reason challenged: Nudity, sexual content, and unsuited to age group

 

When the American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom released their list of the Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2011, the second-most challenged book on that list was The Color of Earth, the first book of a critically-acclaimed Korean manwha, or comic book, series. Read more here.

 

21. Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons

 

• Location of key challenge: Various

• Reason challenged: Unsuited to age group

 

Watchmen received a Hugo Award in 1988 and was instrumental in garnering more respect and shelf space for comics and graphic novels in libraries and mainstream bookstores. The inclusion of Watchmen in school library collections has been challenged by parents at least twice, according to the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. Read more here.

 

--

Charles Brownstein is the Executive Director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

Tuesday
Apr222014

b(eco)me bagless.

Being kind to the environment is an important part of our mission at Half Price Books. We have always believed that "Books should fill our lives, not our land." And we've tried to remain true to that premise for more than forty years.

It becomes clearer every day that we all need to work together to make this world a better place for our children and grandchildren. I encourage our employees, business partners and suppliers to join with us as we strive to improve the environment and conserve our natural resources.

In our stores we remind our customers to b(eco)me greener by declining plastic bags. Starting today, when a customer declines a plastic bag we will donate 5 cents to a local environmental nonprofit organization.

We hope you'll join us in our effort to keep plastic bags out of our landfills and oceans. To read more about our b(eco)me bagless movement and to find out which nonprofit HPB is supporting in your neighborhood, visit hpb.com/eco.

Sincerely,
Sharon Anderson Wright
President and CEO 
Tuesday
Apr082014

Books Authors Read with Victoria Scott

We continue our "Books Authors Read" series with YA author Victoria Scott, who wrote The Dante Walker trilogy and recently held the launch party for her new book, Fire & Flood, at our Dallas Flagship store. Thanks, Victoria, for sharing some of your favorite books! -- Emily 

My own work, while laced with fantasy, is often set in modern day, and in places we’re familiar with. So when I read, I like nothing better than to step into the opposite. I adore young adult books that whisk me away to another time and place, and make me forget I’m sipping coffee in Dallas. Here are five of my favorite books that did just that!

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

This is quite possibly my most beloved series. It’s a story about a princess who flourishes as a queen. About an underdog who triumphs. About an ugly duckling who becomes beautiful in the right person’s eyes. And don’t get me started on the settings in this series—serene stretches of desert, uninhabited islands, the reckless sea. I tell everyone I know to read these books, and you should too!

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

A book that takes place in outer space? Yes, please. I fell in love with Revis’s characters, but it was the wickedly beautiful stars, the crops growing under false lights, and the ship’s blueprint that truly swept me away. Every time I cracked open one of these books, I was no longer on earth. I was elsewhere, with Elder and Amy and a fleet of restless people bound for a world they may never reach. This pulse-pounding story is one you shouldn’t miss.

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke

Every time I pick up this book, I want a glass of iced tea. This southern gothic horror takes place in an old, crumbling estate by the sea. As if that wasn’t enough to hook me, a strange, nerve-rattling guy rents the main character’s guest house. I spent the better part of a week equally terrified and attracted to this guy. Is he dangerous? Is he a gentleman? I’ll never tell. But I will say this, pour yourself a glass of the South’s syrup and settle in for a mystery unlike any you’ve ever read.

The Beautiful and the Cursed by Page Morgan

Set in Paris in the late 1800s, this gothic story evokes a gloomy, foggy feel. I could practically feel the cobblestone streets beneath my heels, and the gargoyles watching my every move from the abbey eves. Morgan creates a romance in the city of love unlike any I’ve ever read. It’s part paranormal, part ball gowns and etiquette, part kick-butt fight scenes…and wholly entertaining. I can open one of Morgan’s books and within seconds that dark, dreary, enticing world falls over my shoulders once again.

Fire Horse Girl by Kay Honeyman

This book took me on a journey to China, Angel Island, and finally, to America in the early 1920s. The main character, Jade Moon, born a Fire Horse, is one of my absolute favorite main characters. Her quest to have a voice among men takes her on a journey across the world, and I was enthralled every step of the way. I wept when she was sad, felt my blood boil when she was frustrated, and rejoiced when at last she found a makeshift home. I rarely reread books, but this is one I have no doubt will be enjoyed time and again. Go Jade!

--

Victoria Scott is the author of Dante Walker Trilogy and Fire & Flood Series

You may visit her online or follow her on Twitter at @VictoriaScottYA.

Monday
Mar312014

4 Home Run Movies For A Baseball Fanatic

Play Ball! A Few of our Favorite Baseball Movies.

 

Today is opening day for most of Major League Baseball. As a huge baseball fan, it's one of the best days of the year. Everyone has hope that a World Series is in the cards for their favorite team.

 

To celebrate the start of the season, I thought I’d share some of my favorite baseball movies. Enjoy!

 

1. Bang the Drum Slowly (1973) – Starring Michael Moriarty and a guy who would go on to become pretty famous, Robert De Niro, Bang the Drum Slowly tells the story of Henry Wiggen and Bruce Pearson, players for the New York Mammoths. Bruce finds out he is terminally ill at the beginning of the film. Not the brightest or the best player, the Mammoths are prepared to cut him. But Henry ends his contract holdout and makes the team include one condition – that he and Bruce come as a package.  Grab some tissues for this one because this one’s a tearjerker.

2. A League of Their Own (1992) – Starring Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, Rosie O’Donnell and Madonna, A League of Their Own tells the story of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Many great quotes came from this classic, but the most famous and widely used has to be, “There’s no crying in baseball!”

3. Moneyball (2011) – I was surprised I enjoyed a movie focused on building a successful team through sabermetrics so much. Having great actors like Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill and Philip Seymour Hoffman certainly doesn’t hurt. Moneyball tells the story of the 2002 Oakland A’s and general manager Billy Beane’s quest to field a competitive team on a budget.

4. Little Big League (1994) – This is probably the least known of these movies, but one of my all-time favorites.  12-year-old Billy Heywood inherits the Minnesota Twins when his grandfather dies. After running off the team’s manager, Billy decides to name himself the manager of the team. The players are skeptical (as they should be!) but the team comes together to make a run at the AL wild card. Hilarity ensues as Billy tries to balance his adult job with the normal activities of a 12 year old. Look for appearances by former baseball greats Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez, Randy Johnson and Ken Griffey Jr.!

---

Emily is Public Relations Manager at Half Price Books Corporate.
You can follow her on Twitter at @emilytbruce.

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