Thrills and Chills: Reads for Fall

October is my favorite month, not only because it’s the true beginning of fall (I feel strongly enough about this that I will fight anyone who brings up that the equinox is in September!), but also because it’s the beginning of what I like to affectionately refer to as “creepy weather.” There’s something about fall and the approach of Halloween that bring both the cozy and spooky together, and I love to read a ton of mysteries and thrillers during this time.

Unfortunately, sometimes it can feel like this particular genre gets bogged down by a lot of work from dudes with names like James, Michael, John and Joe (no offense, guys), so I made it my personal mission to read thrillers from female authors this year. Here are several that were recently published that I think are worth checking out:

breakdown

The Breakdown by B.A. Paris
I happened to read B.A. Paris’ 2016 debut novel Behind Closed Doors this summer and was thoroughly horrified. So horrified, in fact, that I rushed to the bookstore to buy The Breakdown as soon as it was released in July. It wasn’t anything like Behind Closed Doors, but I liked it even more due to its heavy paranoia factor. Paris navigates various aspects of mental health—from anxiety to depression and dementia—and utilizes memory loss in a truly gripping way; to the point where every time I closed the book, I wondered if I was losing my mind along with the main character. Continue reading

The Island of Misfit Horror Sequels

Sequels are always a mixed bag – especially sequels to horror movies. Even if a horror movie doesn’t scare you, it should at least surprise you. And how do you get something that surprised you once to surprise you again?

I’ve selected some horror sequels that attempt – and mostly succeed – at being something other than just more of the same. Most of these movies aren’t the equal of the classics they’re based on, but they’re worth watching because they try to surprise you again. So if you’re looking for something new or different to watch this Halloween, I recommend giving these sequels a chance (or second chance).

So without further ado, I welcome you to <insert spooky voice here> the Island of Misfit Horror Sequels…

Friday the 13th, Part VI: Jason Lives
Well, we have to start with a Friday the 13th movie on Friday the 13th. I won’t lie, this series has never been my thing (sorry, Friday fans), but Jason Lives is a ton of fun.

jason

Why? The people who made it acknowledged how silly this series is and leaned into it. The end result is a charmingly self-aware horror-comedy that’s funny while still letting Jason do what he does to anyone who gets near Camp Crystal Lake. If this isn’t the best Friday movie, it’s right up there. Now let’s move on to something that takes itself more seriously…

Continue reading

Bebop Birthdays: Monk and Dizzy Turn 100

You could say bebop was born in October 1917. It wasn’t until the 1940s that this complex form of modern jazz was played or heard, but that one autumn month 100 years ago was when two of bebop’s principal architects first came into the world.

Pianist Thelonious Monk and trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie were born eleven days and 170 miles apart—Monk in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, on October 10, and Dizzy in Cheraw, South Carolina, on the 21st.Monk_and_Dizzy_together[1]

Along with Charlie Parker, Bud Powell and a few others, Monk and Gillespie would develop a revolutionary style of jazz that was more harmonically complex than the early jazz and swing that came before it. Initially dismissed by older musicians, bebop captured the imagination of younger players and profoundly impacted all jazz that came after it, establishing the DNA of the classic jazz of the 1950s and 60s. Both men were also known for their personalities and sense of style.

Let’s take a closer look at these two legends as we celebrate their centennials.

Continue reading

Meet the Bibliomaniac: Lizz Comer

Educator Appreciation Weekend is Oct. 5-9 at Half Price Books. While all of our staff loves teachers, we wanted to take a moment to recognize one of our great bibliomaniacs who has spent some extra time working with educators and students in her community. So in this edition of “Meet the Bibliomaniac,” we are pleased to introduce you to Lizz Comer from our Columbus, Ohio district. Take it away, Lizz!

17800241_1520290407983678_4328985803447515679_nName: Lizz Comer
Job Title: Store Manager
Location: HPB Northpointe Plaza in Lewis Center, Ohio

When did you join the team?
I started with Half Price Books in March 2007 at the wonderful Bethel Road location in Columbus. I was a bookseller and shift leader there before I transferred to Lane Avenue as an assistant manager in 2013. I became a store manager for the brand new Northpointe Plaza store Lewis Center in 2015 and have been getting this store up and running ever since.

What is your favorite part about working at HPB?
I love talking to people about books, movies and video games.

As a store manager, what’s an average day like for you?
My average day consists of coming up with lots of projects for our booksellers to work on.  I also spend a lot of time finding creative solutions to issues J.

What is your all-time favorite book, movie, album or video game?
This is way too hard to narrow it down to just one! I like classic horror movies with Vincent Price. My favorite authors are James Herbert, James Herriot and Shirley Jackson. My favorite video games are the Persona games.

What are you reading right now?
The Literary Ghost by Larry Dark, Yellow is for Fear by Dorothy Eden, The Shadow Queen by Rebecca Dean and Life Among the Savages by Shirley Jackson.

What other things do you do in your free time?
I volunteer at my local dog shelter and foster cats and dogs with PetPromise.

Tell us about your work with educators.
I recently had fun doing mock interviews with some high school students.  I gave the teacher a bunch of applications and then went to the school to tell them what I look for in an applicant. These students were in a work-study program and would soon be doing real interviews to find employment once they graduated.

Our store has also showcased local students’ essays about the book Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer.  We made a special display and most of the students came in to show their parents.

Who was your favorite teacher in school and why?
Every science teacher I ever had.  There are too many to name, but they made school much more interesting and instilled a curiosity to find out how things work.

Anything else to add?
I highly respect teachers and enjoy working with them.

Celebrating Boss’s Day Like a BOSS!

Each year on October 16, workers in the United States and a few other countries take time to thank their employers. Created by Illinois secretary Patricia Bays Haroski in 1958, Boss’s Day will be observed for the 60th time next year. The goal in creating Boss’s Day was to strengthen the relationship between a manager and his/her employees.

To celebrate Boss’s Day, here’s a look at some of our favorite fictional bosses. While they’re not all necessarily the best bosses, they’re certainly some of the most memorable.

BurnsThe SimpsonsBurnsMichael ScottThe Officethe office

Tony SopranoThe Sopranossopranos

Captain Kirk—Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek franchisestar trek Continue reading

Mystery Solved: A Book Nerd’s Look at Mystery Series Week

Some people would kill to fall in love. Some people are thrilled to be scared out of their socks. Some people are dying to escape to a totally different world. Me? I like to solve mysteries. Of course, I don’t mind if those mysteries include a little love, scare me out of my socks or take me to a different world. Fortunately, no matter what your poison, there is a mystery series out there for you. So, if you’re dying to find a new mystery series to read this Mystery Series Week (October 1-7), here are some that just might crack the case.

The Mystery Lover’s Must-Reads– Classic Mystery Series:
With overly observant detectives, a meddling old lady and a bunch of curious teens, this list may seem elementary to some, but you’ll have to look elsewhere if you think the butler did it.

  1. Sherlock Holmes Mysteries, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  2. Miss Marple Mysteries, by Agatha Christie
  3. The Hardy Boys Mysteries, by Franklin Dixon
  4. Nancy Drew Mysteries, by Carolyn Keene
  5. Hercule Poirot Mysteries, by Agatha Christie

Just Doing Their Job– Crime Detective Mystery Series:
Looking for those hard-boiled detectives and rebel cops? These guys will have you on the edge of your seat.

    1. Inspector Rebus, by Ian Rankin
    2. Alex Cross, by James Patterson
    3. Harry Bosch, by Michael Connelly
    4. Harry Hole, by Jo Nesbo
    5. Virgil Flowers, by John Sandford

Continue reading

Totally Random Lists: Reading Cats & Dogs

EDITOR’S NOTE: This year at HPB, we’re celebrating the random. Actually, we’ve been doing that every year since our founding in 1972. And we mean random in a totally good way, as in the random treasures you come across when you’re browsing our stores or website—and the wonderfully random stuff we buy from the public every day. In this series of posts, you’ll find books, movies and music collected in some very random ways. So here’s our list for October 2017!

Oct title

If there is one thing dog people and cat people can agree on, it’s that the HPB 2017 Calendar of Totally Random Lists is a great place to find a list of books, movies & music featuring or inspired by dogs & cats.

BOOKS
The Cat in the Hat, Dr. Seuss
Marley and Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog, John Grogan
Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, T.S. Eliot
White Fang, Jack London

Oct visualMOVIES & TV
The Adventures of Milo and Otis
Lassie Come Home
Must Love Dogs
That Darn Cat!

MUSIC
Cats: Original London Cast Recording
Tha Doggfather, Snoop Dogg
Hounds of Love, Kate Bush
The Very Best of Cat Stevens

Fur more of these paw-sitively tail-wagging picks, check out HPB.com/cats.

Celebrating National Public Lands Day

Some of my fondest childhood memories are walking, riding my bike or roller skating to my neighborhood park. Marcus Park was my personal paradise where I played basketball, softball, kickball, hopscotch and even chess. My best friend and I shared secrets on the swings and made up stories while leisurely pushing the merry-go-round. This little plot of public land was an essential part of my everyday life and helped form my love of the great outdoors.

Through books, I was able to explore public lands beyond my neighborhood. When I was a young child, Make Way for Ducklings took me to the Public Garden in Boston and Brighty of the Grand Canyon instilled a lifelong desire to explore that great National Park. As an adult, I laughed my way through Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods and started planning my own trek on the Appalachian Trail.

Of course, movie directors have discovered the dramatic potential of public lands such as the cliff-hanging Mount Rushmore scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest.

IMG_9952
Plus,  in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Roy Neary’s (Richard Dreyfuss) UFO obsession leads him to an isolated mountaintop, aka Devil’s Tower National Monument in Wyoming, the nation’s first national monument.
IMG_0028
Saturday, September 30 is National Public Lands Day, a day to volunteer and help restore or improve your neighborhood, city, state, or national park, forest, monument or shoreline. And after you have finished volunteering how about discovering other publicly owned lands and waterways in these books and movies.

Continue reading

The Big List of Storytime Books

We read a lot of storytime books around here – before naptime, before bedtime, before breakfast, after breakfast, for breakfast – you get the idea. My daughters are three and almost two, which means that our library is well-loved (aka the covers now dangle from most of the books → aka time for some new books → aka cue all the jazz hands emojis because there’s nothing better than shopping for new books, right?). Since it’s National Literacy Month, I polled a bunch of my mom friends for their kids’ best storytime books, and here’s what we came up with – tried and true classics mixed in with some contemporary gems.

So! If you like Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, you might like these other books about going to bed:Goodnight Moon.jpg
The Going To Bed Book by Sandra Boynton
Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney
Good Night Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld
Goodnight Already by Jory John and Benji Davies
Sleep Like a Tiger by Mary Logue and Pamela Zagarenski
Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann
Goodnight Train by June Sobel and Laura Huliska-Beith
Little Owl’s Night by Divya Srinivasan
The House In the Night by Susan Marie Swanson and Beth Krommes
It’s Time to Sleep, My Love by Nancy Tillman and Eric Metaxas
Dream Animals by Emily Winfield Martin

Continue reading

There and Back Again: The Hobbit’s 80th Anniversary

5fe47-hobbit_cover“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” With this one sentence, J.R.R. Tolkien impacted my life (and many other lives) in a huge way. When I was a child, my dad would usually make up stories at bed time to get me to fall asleep. It was our routine. When he was running low on creativity, he would read to me. The Hobbit was the first book I ever remember him reading to me, and I loved it. It’s is my absolute favorite book in the world, and it is celebrating its 80th anniversary!

The Hobbit was published on September 21, 1937 and has been in print ever since. It was originally published by George Allen & Unwin in London to glowing reviews and has remained a beloved book through the decades. The book appeals to adults and children alike, as it combines wry humor and wit with an adventure story like no other. The Hobbit is the forerunner for The Lord of the Rings, the epic saga that is widely acknowledged as a classic. Though related to that epic story, The Hobbit is in a class of its own. For Hobbit lovers, this day is all about the quest of a homebody hobbit-turned-burglar and his companions. Although Bilbo begins the adventure a grumpy, immature hobbit, he gains a new level of maturity and wisdom as he completes different tasks in the adventure. This beloved classic has been adapted in the following ways:

Continue reading