Books Authors Read with Jeramey Kraatz

We continue our “Books Authors Read” series with children’s author Jeramey Kraatz, who wrote The Cloak Society and The Cloak Society: Villains Risingwhich the School Library Journal declared “will likely find the same wide appeal as Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson books.” Jeramey himself is a lovely, wonderful person too — he joined us Sunday for a signing and a “Make Your Own Comic Book” activity with a bunch of kids who were very excited about creating their own superhero/supervillain narratives. We love his books, too. Thanks, Jeramey! — Kristen D. 

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I was born on Friday the 13th  (my name was almost “Jason”). Horror-movie marathons were a regular occurrence in my childhood. I feel at home with zombies, maniacs, and the soul-crushing abyss. Even when I was a kid, these were the kinds of tales I gravitated to. So, in honor of Halloween, here’s a non-exhaustive, completely objective collection of books and stories that have creeped me out over the years, listed roughly in the order in which I read them, from elementary school to now.

1. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark  – Alvin Schwartz (writer), Stephen Gammell (art)

Obviously. These were the Holy Grail of the book fair in elementary school. The kind of books you’d stay up late reading aloud at your friend’s house or hide from your parents because you were afraid they’d take them away from you. There’s a whole generation of readers out there who were equally entertained and traumatized by these gruesome little stories. (And that art. It’s just as gruesome as you remember.)

2. The Fear Street Sagas – R. L. Stine

I made the jump from Goosebumps to R.L. Stine’s teen series while I was still pretty young. There’s no telling how many of those books I read (seriously, go check out the series Wikipedia page—there are over 100 of them), but the Fear Street Saga books were the ones I read over and over again. They were part historical fiction, part family history, and packed with the kind of overwrought drama and twists I loved as a kid. And they were pretty gruesome, too—I remember one death scene involving the kitchen maid and a bunch of rising dough that was the most horrifying thing kid-me had ever read. At least until…

3. Urban Legends (generally)

Here is a very clear memory I have of being in the fourth grade: Jason, my best friend, had checked out a book of urban legends from the Ector County Library and brought it to school, where we passed it back and forth to each other, devouring the tales of insane murderers and men with hooks for hands. (I was especially creeped out by the “Don’t look behind you” and “Humans can lick, too” legends.) We made it about halfway through the book before school was out. That night, those stories were all I could think about. The nightmares were brutal.

The next day, Jason showed up to school and didn’t have the book with him. He told me he didn’t want to read it anymore, not elaborating any further. He didn’t have to.

4. Lord of the Flies – William Golding

I don’t know if I read the book or caught the movie first, but Piggy haunted me.

5. From Hell – Alan Moore (writer) and Eddie Campbell (art)

Moore’s incredibly layered telling of the Whitechapel murders is dense, sprawling, and, occasionally, completely insane. Campbell’s black-and-white art evokes more horror than any amount of blood-red ink could have (the chapter-long murder sequence comes to mind). It’s a must-read for anyone interested in Jack the Ripper. 

6. House of Leaves – Mark Z. Danielewski

This is the book that scared me more than any other! I’m not ashamed to admit it. I’m usually a really slow reader, but I devoured this weirdo labyrinth of a novel in one weekend while I was in grad school. It was one of those experiences where I read until I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore, and didn’t realize I was dreaming until I was already convinced my bedroom door had opened up into a dark, unending hallway. I woke up terrified and sweating, and had to finish the book immediately.   

7. In Cold Blood – Truman Capote, and 8. Helter Skelter – Vincent Bugliosi with Curt Gentry

When I’m working on a project, I don’t like to read anything that’s in a similar genre if I can help it. A few years ago when I was editing The Cloak Society and starting on the sequel, Villains Rising, I went through a big true crime phase. I’d just moved into a new place—my first time to live alone—and was in the middle of re-reading In Cold Blood when I started the audiobook of Helter Skelter as something to listen to in the background while I unpacked.

In retrospect, it’s really easy to see what a dumb idea this was.

9. The Haunting of Hill House – Shirley Jackson

It’s the classic haunted house story for a reason. It’s slim, and starts off fairly tame, but is deceiving in how claustrophobic and layered it is. That’s one of the best things about the book: you don’t realized how unhinged the narration is until its too late, and by the end you’re wondering if the house was ever really haunted at all. It’s a great example of a book letting you use your own imagination to fill in the gaps of the horror scenes, which is always creepier than just telling you what’s happening (to me, at least).

Also, everyone in this book does some serious Mad Men drinking. No wonder they were seeing things.

10. The Shining – Stephen King

If you’re avoiding it because you’ve seen the movie a dozen times, know that it both gives a lot of great backstory to the characters AND is different enough that things will still catch you by surprise. I just read it earlier this month, and am kicking myself for not having done so earlier. It’s kind of the opposite of Jackson’s book in that there’s no doubt this hotel is one bad, haunted place, but the real horror is in watching Jack slowly fall apart, from his perspective and the POV of his family.

11. Uzumaki – Junji Ito

Uzumaki is a manga about a town obsessed with spirals. It starts out with one man obsessed with the shape, and then gets weirder and weirder as the madness spreads. There’s a vortex that opens up in someone’s forehead, snail people, hair battles…I don’t even know how to describe it other than that it’s got some incredibly potent scenes and images of horror that will stick with me for a long, long time.  

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Jeramey Kraatz is the author of The Cloak Society series, including The Cloak Society and The Cloak Society: Villains Rising

You may follow him on Twitter at @jerameykraatz.

30 Books That Are Better the Second Time Around

Long have I cursed my English teacher for forcing me to read the book The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding.  However, this fall, I forced myself to reread this book as part of the Half Price Books Book Club.  As an older (though I won’t say wiser) person, I will admit I enjoyed re-reading the book more than I did reading it the first time, and am now willing to concede that the my English teacher might not have been as sadistic as I had once thought.  It got me to thinking, what other books do I need to re-read? So, I turned to our 3,000 Bibliomaniacs and asked, what books do you think are better the second time around? And here’s what they had to say.

(1) The Bourne Identity, by Robert Ludlum (2) Catch-22, by Joseph Heller (3) The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak (4) A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle (5) Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott (6) Life of Pi, by Yann Martel (7) The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain (8) The Odyssey, by Homer (9) The Princess Bride, by William Goldman (10) Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon (11) Slaughter-House Five, by Kurt Vonnegut (12) The Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren(13) The Bus Driver Who Wanted to be God, by Etgar Keret (14) The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle (15) The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain (16) Italian Neighbors, by Tim Parks (17) Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, by Robert M. Pirsig (18) Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier (19) Hey Whipple, Squeeze This, by Luke Sullivan (20) Divergent, by Veronica Roth (21) Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins (22) Beautiful Creatures, by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (23) Shiver, by Maggie Stiefvater (24) The Magicians, by Lev Grossman (25) The Illuminatus Trilogy, by Robert Anton Wilson (26) Master and Margarita, by Mikhail Bulgakov (27) Watership Down, by Richard Adams (28) Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury (29) The Sound and the Fury, by William Faulkner (30) A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens

Now, it’s your turn. Whether the books is better because of the foreshadowing you missed the first time or because you are older or just understand the storyline better, what book do you think is better the second time around? — Julie

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

100 Books You Can’t Put Down

Oh the joy of discovering a book you just… can’t… put… down. I have a profound memory of being 12 years old and reading the mystical children’s book, When Marnie Was There by Joan G. Robinson (now out of print). I tried to read it slowly to stretch out the adventure, but I couldn’t stop. And I will never forget how I cried when I was finished. I cried not necessarily because it was a sad book, but because the adventure was over.

I have been lucky to read many books I just can’t put down. Below is a list of 100 Books You Can’t Put Down, compiled from both your recommendations as well as suggested titles from our HPB Bibliomaniacs.

(1) The Road, by Cormac McCarthy (2) The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis (3) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J.K. Rowling (4) The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson (5) The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown (6) The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls (7) The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins (8) The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger (9) The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini (10) The Help, by Kathryn Stockett (11) To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee (12) Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card (13) The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak (14) The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, by Stieg Larsson (15) A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving (16) The Fault in our Stars, by John Green (17) The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien (18) City of Bones, by Cassandra Clare (19) Storm Front, by Jim Butcher (20) 11.22.63, by Stephen King (21) Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon (22) The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky (23) The Giver, by Lois Lowry (24) Mists of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradlez (25) Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, by John Berendt

 

(26) A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini (27) Night Circus, by Eric Morgenstern (28) Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen (29) East of Eden, by John Steinbeck (30) On the Road, by Jack Kerouac (31) Uglies, by Scott Westerfeld (32) Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts (33) The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver (34) Tuesdays with Morrie, by Mitch Albom (35) Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett (36) Twilight, by Stephenie Meyers (37) Circle of Friends, by Maeve Binchy (38) Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan (39) Game of Thrones, by George R.R. Martin (40) Life of Pi, by Yann Martel (41) The Red Tent, by Anita Diamant (42) Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert (43) The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein (44) Sarah’s Key, by Tatiana de Rosney (45) The Time Travelers Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger (46) Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell (47) The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams (48) The Good Earth, by Pearl Buck (49) Divergent, by Veronica Roth (50) The Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson

 

(51) Memoirs of a Geisha, by Arthur Golden (52) The Golden Compass, by Philip Pullman (53) Someone Knows my Name, by Lawrence Hill (54)
The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd (55) The Other Boleyn Girl, by Phillipa Gregory (56) The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton (57) Big Stone Gap, by Ardiana Trigiani (58) Skinny Dip, by Carl Hiaasen (59) She, by H. Rider Haggard (60) The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros (61)
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou (62) Teacher Man: A Memoir, by Frank McCourt (63) Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck (64) And the Band Played On, by Randy Shilts (65)
Let the Great World Spin, by Colum McCann (66) World War Z, by Max Brooks (67) Under the Banner of Heaven, by Jon Krakauer (68) Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (69) History of Love, by Nicole Krauss (70) Girl in Translation, by Jean Kwok (71) Explosive 18, by Janet Evanovich (72)
Bossypants, by Tina Fey (73) The Leftovers, by Tom Perrotta (74)
Siddhartha, by Herman Hess (75) Catch 22, by Joseph Heller

 

(76) I Love Everybody (And Other Atrocious Lies), by Laurie Notaro (77) You Shall Know Our Velocity, by Dave Eggers (78) Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret, by Judy Blume (79) Me Talk Pretty One Day, by David Sedaris (80) The Man Who Planted Trees, by Jean Giono (81) The Princess Bride, by William Goldman (82) Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett (83) Confessions of a Counterfeit Farm Girl, by Susan McCorkindale (84) Halfway to the Grave, by Jeaniene Frost (85) Prey, by Linda Howard (86) The Thin Man, by Dashiell Hammett (87) The Crying of Lot 49, by Thomas Pynchon (88) High Fidelity, by Nick Hornby (89) A Walk in the Woods, by Bill Bryson (90) Deerskin, by Robin McKinley (91) Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn (92) The Perfect Storm, by Sebastian Junger (93) The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, by Michael Chabon (94) The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery (95) Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James (96) Dead Until Dark, by Charlaine Harris (97) Murder on Astor Place, by Victoria Thompson (98) Deadly Sins, by Lora Leigh (99) Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, by Hunter S. Thompson (100) Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging, by Louise Rennison

Do you remember a book you just couldn’t put down?

Susan is Production Assistant at Half Price Books Corporate.

Autumn Pairings: Fall Drinks & Novels

Now that the weather is (finally) cooling down, there’s no better time to curl up with a good book while taking slow, measured sips of autumn-in-a-mug. Not sure what to read while enjoying your favorite fall refreshment? Here are a few pairing suggestions to get you started.

(1) If your go-to harvest beverage is a Pumpkin Spice Latte, try sipping it alongside The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving. This short story is a fitting read for October, and the pumpkin in your cup is sure to taste better than the one encountered by the unfortunate schoolmaster Ichabod Crane.

(2) Enjoy the cozy flavors of Earl Grey Tea? Brew a mug while rereading Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. The Mad Hatter’s tea party will prepare you for get-togethers with the eccentric relatives that you’re about to see during the holiday season, and the soothing bergamot oil in Earl Grey will help you keep your head around the Queen of Hearts.

(3) Nothing evokes the chilly evenings and colorful leaves of fall quite like the aroma of apple cider. Inhale a mug of it with John Irving’s The Cider House Rules, and imagine yourself picking apples in Maine’s orchards alongside the novel’s earnest protagonist, Homer Wells.

(4) If you’re sipping a candy corn cordial while waiting for trick-or-treaters this October 31st, why not complement the experience with Ray Bradbury’s The Halloween Tree? This fantasy novel follows a group of costumed children who travel through time to save a friend and learn about the origins of Halloween in the process. While written for younger readers, this is a great pick for adults who want to learn more about the holiday’s history and related traditions in other cultures.

(5) Add some sci-fi spice to your fall with the unexpected pairing of chai tea and Dune by Frank Herbert. The extremely valuable melange spice of the planet Arrakis blends well with the peppery combination of cardamom, ginger, and star anise in masala chai, and you’ll appreciate not having to brave giant sandworms and inhospitable deserts for your fix.

(6) Yo-ho-ho and hot buttered rum – take a nip of this cool-weather classic while adventuring with Jim Hawkins and the pirates from Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. Just don’t drink too much, or you may have trouble following the map to the buried gold.

Do you have a favorite fall beverage to warm you up while settling down with a good book? Let us know in the comments! — Kate 

 

Teen Read Week: Final Chapters of Divergent and Legend trilogies

If you ask me how I feel about the final books of the Divergent and Legend trilogies coming out this fall, I will jump up and down with excitement and then break down into tears. Since 2011, young adult booklovers have been following the adventures of Tris and June as they fight battles, fall in love, and struggle to make their respective worlds better places. Now their journeys are coming to an end as the final books in each trilogy are released, and though I desperately want to read the books, I know I will miss the characters when the journey is over.

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Release date: Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Main Characters: Tris & Four

Set within a dystopian version of Chicago, the Divergent Trilogy follows sixteen-year-old Tris Prior, who struggles to find herself within the accepted walls of the factions. But when traitors from two factions work together to seize control of their divided society, Tris discovers the world of the factionless and the reasons the factions were created.  This third book promises to answer all of the questions left unanswered in its predecessors. A movie based on her first book, Divergentis scheduled to be released March 2014.

Champion by Marie Lu

Release date: Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Main Characters: June & Day

This dystopian trilogy begins on the flooded coast of the former city of Los Angeles, where the Republic and the Colonies are at war. The Legend Trilogy follows two fifteen-year-olds, June and Day, who are pitted against each other by the Republic, and are used as pawns by the Patriots. In an interview with USA Today, Lu said that she hopes people will still like her after the ending, which makes me nervous about saying good-bye to these characters. Although there is talk about a movie version of Legend, production has not yet begun on the project.

(Sigh) Well, I guess there is nothing we can do after the last books come out but read each trilogy all over again.

You will be able to find Allegiant and Champion on their release dates at your local Half Price Books as part of our New Bestsellers Program.

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