Behind the Book: Cilka’s Journey by Heather Morris

Our Book Club selection for October and November is Cilka’s Journey by Heather Morris. This heart-breaking true story centers on a young woman who endures horrific hardships and unimaginable conditions. Her story of survival is a powerful testament to the triumph of human will. Half Price Books was thrilled to be able to discuss this powerful novel with Heather Morris. Read on to discover her answers to our questions below.

Can you tell us more about Cilka Klein, the inspiration behind Cilka’s Journey? What made you decide to write a story inspired by her?

Cover.Cilkas JourneyCilka Klein was a Jewish girl from Bardejov, a small town in what is now Slovakia. She celebrated her 16th birthday in March 1942; a month later she was transported, along with her father and two sisters, to Auschwitz. A few weeks later she was transferred to Birkenau where she caught the eye of two senior SS officers and was singled out to be kept as their sex slave. Placed in a special block, No. 25, she survived until the liberation of Auschwitz by the Soviet Red Army. Her nightmare continued when she was condemned for ‘sleeping with the enemy’ and sent to a Siberian gulag.

It was Lale Sokolov who told me about Cilka – “she was the bravest person I ever met”, he told me, “she was a tiny young girl. And she saved my life”. Among all the wonderful letters, emails and questions I get from readers, it is the question I am asked over and over again – “what happened to Cilka?”.

And after having written about Lale, I wanted to write about women’s experience of Auschwitz, and of war – including the often untold stories of sexual abuse and violence. As for Cilka herself, the more I found out about her, I realized just how extraordinary she must have been, to survive all that she did, and find life and love after her time in two of the most brutal places on Earth. Continue reading

Totally Random Lists 2019: All About the Benjamins

Editor’s Note: This year our Half Price Books calendar once again features books, movies and music grouped together in weird, unexpected ways. You might even call them Totally Random Lists, which is what we did because, well, we had to put something on the front cover. We like the lists so much, we’ll be sharing them on this blog throughout the year.


 Some say money makes the world go ’round. Some say the love of it is the root of all evil. Either way, you can’t live without it, and storytellers have a lot to say on how it affects us. One thing’s certain: thanks to our prices, diving into the list below won’t cost you too much. Continue reading

Totally Random Lists 2019: Playing Hardball

Editor’s Note: This year our Half Price Books calendar once again features books, movies and music grouped together in weird, unexpected ways. You might even call them Totally Random Lists, which is what we did because, well, we had to put something on the front cover. We like the lists so much, we’ll be sharing them on this blog throughout the year.


If you’re a sports fan, it’s not enough just to play sports or watch sports. You also want to read about people playing sports. You want to see movies about people playing sports. You want to hear vaguely sports-related music. In other words, you want to check out the list below. Continue reading

Behind the Book: Mary Kay on People Management

Mary Kay is known for cutting-edge beauty innovations, entrepreneurship opportunities and female empowerment across the world. However, Mary Kay Ash’s pink road to success wasn’t always so rosy. When Ash founded her namesake company, Mary Kay Cosmetics, in 1963, it was in response to years of seeing the men she trained receive promotions over her. In fact, on more than one occasion, after taking a male recruit on the road with her for six months, she returned with him to Texas only to see him promoted above her at twice her salary. Frustrated and disheartened, Mary Kay Ash set out to create a company where “thinking like a woman” was an asset, not an insult. Continue reading

Totally Random Lists 2019: First-Name Basis

Editor’s Note: This year our Half Price Books calendar once again features books, movies and music grouped together in weird, unexpected ways. You might even call them Totally Random Lists, which is what we did because, well, we had to put something on the front cover. We like the lists so much, we’ll be sharing them on this blog throughout the year.


 It’s pretty simple. When you write a book or make a movie about a person, often the best title is just the name of the person. And sometimes the first name is enough, which sort of makes these books, movies and albums feel like good friends. Friends who live on your shelves. Continue reading

Behind the Book: Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center

We are thrilled to introduce our August/September 2019 HPB Book Club Selection, Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center. This book addresses the struggles of Cassie Hanwell, a woman born for emergencies who uproots her life to move from Texas to Boston, where she struggles to find her place as one of the only female firefighters in the state. This heartfelt, stirring novel touches on two of the most important things in life— love and the meaning of courage. In this installment of our Behind the Book blog series, Katherine Center gives us insight into her inspiration and decision to tell Cassie’s story.

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#HPBUniversity: Customer College Stories

Let’s face it. College can be tough. Those four years—or more—teach us just as many lessons about survival as they do about our major, and whether it’s late nights at the library or being down to that last pack of ramen, we all come out a little stronger in the end. In the spirit of reminiscing about our days in the dorms, we’ve taken to Facebook to ask about some of your favorite college memories. Check out our favorite responses below!

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  • “Don’t sign up for that credit card just to get a free t-shirt.” — Eric B.
  • “You’re going to want to quit a few times. Don’t!” — Anita C. 
  • “Get involved in the clubs for your major/minor. Go to office hours, even if you don’t have a horrible problem. Build a relationship with your professors – you’re going to know them for four or more years and they are generally good people. Plus, they can be super helpful professionally.” — Ken O.
  • “Go to tutor sessions.” — Christopher D. 
  • “You need to do some cardio in the summer beforehand. I was dying walking across campus in the 15 mins I had.” — Myshell R.
  • “Stop trying to make Mom happy. It wont happen.” — Michelle S.
  • “Beware of the freshman 15! Those pounds are a real thing and hard to get rid of!” — Janet K.
  • “Branch out and meet more people in the dorm.” — Shalei B.
  • “You’re going to go through some hard time, but you’ll come through stronger and braver.” — Cassandra S.
  • “Take an intramural sport that you wouldn’t have done otherwise. I had a lot of fun doing sports I wanted to try in high school but just never felt good enough to do.” — Alanna L.

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Behind the Book: The Middle Matters by Lisa-Jo Baker

Editor’s Note: Lisa-Jo Baker’s newest book, The Middle Matters: Why That (Extra)Ordinary Life Looks Really Good on You invites us to get a good look at our middles and gives us permission to embrace them — because Lisa-Jo knows that the middle might be the best part of the love story of life, kids, faith, doubt, marriage, failure, wonder and the muffin top—and that these are all good things. Read on to get a glimpse Behind the Book with Lisa-Jo Baker.


I like to think of my latest book, The Middle Matters: Why That (Extra)Ordinary Life Looks Really Good On You, as a love letter to ordinary life.

Because if we’re not careful, I think midlife will actually run right over us. Like a runaway hamster wheel. There’s so much carpool and extracurriculars and work and before we know it we will have missed the chance to relish the very stories that will line our empty nests one day.

Between meeting thousands of women at speaking events and hearing from podcast listeners, I’ve learned that we all keep waiting to feel like grown-ups while going through all the grown-up motions. It’s weird to have all the responsibilities of a grown-up and look like a grown-up and have a grown-up job and a grown-up mortgage and still not be sure how or when to change the air filters.

It’s a shock to most of us to find ourselves here at the midpoint of our lives and still be figuring so much of it out. Normal feels all stretched out and squidgy around the edges when you’re splitting time and to-dos, and yet it’s the stuff of life and marriage and kids and work that everyone lives. The intimidation of financial planning and the reality of retirement as more than just that infomercial you used to fast forward through but also something you will actually need in the no-longer distant future.

And the just-as-crucial fighting for time to keep dating the man you’re raising kids with so you feel like a couple and not just a couple of people running a summer camp together. Turns out we’re all trying to make sense of this season we’re in. And it helps to talk about it. How exhausting it is to constantly feel pressured to seize every minute of every day. How lots of days just feel like figuring out new ways to make chicken.

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Behind the Book: Home for Erring and Outcast Girls by Julie Kibler

Inspired by historical events and a follow-up to the bestselling Calling Me Home, Home for Erring and Outcast Girls follows the deep friendship between two women at an early 20th-century rehabilitation home for cast-out single mothers and the reclusive librarian who discovers their story a century later. Read on to discover author Julie Kibler’s recommendations, inspirations and influences as we go Behind the Book. Continue reading