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

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

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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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

Behind the Book: Whisper Network by Chandler Baker

Editor’s note: We are thrilled to feature this wonderful letter from author Chandler Baker. Her latest novel, Whisper Network, is her first adult fiction release and was just selected as Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club pick for July! It follows four women who speak out when their ill-reputed boss is slated to become CEO, which triggers catastrophic shifts throughout their company. This is a fantastic summer release, and Chandler Baker gives us a sneak peek into her inspiration for the novel below!

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Behind the Book: Hope Rides Again by Andrew Shaffer

Editor’s Note: Do you ever read a book and think- there’s no way this could get better? And then the author comes out with a sequel?! Well, we are thrilled to tell you that Andrew Shaffer, author of Hope Never Dies: An Obama Biden Mystery, has come out with its sequel Hope Rides Again. The New York Times bestselling author answers our burning questions as part of our Behind the Book series. Continue reading

Behind the Book: Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

Our current Half Price Books Book Club pick for June/July is Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate. This bestselling book (over a million copies sold!) is based on the true story of one of America’s most notorious adoption agency scandal

Lisa stopped by our Dallas Flagship on May 21 to celebrate the paperback release of Before We Were Yours. While she was here, she took a few minutes to discuss the book. Take a look!

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Behind the Book: The Spies of Shilling Lane by Jennifer Ryan

From bestselling author Jennifer Ryan comes The Spies of Shilling Lane, a thrilling new WWII story about a village busybody determined to find and rescue her missing daughter, discovering both herself and a second chance at love along the way. We are delighted that Jennifer Ryan has given us a inside look into her process and the inspiration behind this wonderful novel . Read on to discover more!

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Behind the Book: When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton

Beautifully, exquisitely wrought, When We Left Cuba is everything you could ask for from a historical novel, and it’s our HPB Book Club pick for April and May 2019. Chanel Cleeton will break hearts with this tale of a privileged Cuban refugee and the powers and people that change her life. Full of love, revenge and deadly situations, When We Left Cuba will leave your heart racing and your mind transported. Chanel  provided us with an in-depth look into her protagonist, Beatriz, for our Behind the Book series. Continue reading