Behind the Book: When the Men Were Gone by Marjorie Herrera Lewis

Editor’s Note: When the Men Were Gone is a debut historical novel centered on the truly inspiring story of a high school teacher who surprises everyone when she breaks with tradition to become the first female high school football coach in Texas. Set during WWII, Tylene Wilson faces extreme opposition but shows what courage really means. This inspiring story has won hearts everywhere and was chosen as our Book Club selection for October and November. We had the opportunity to discuss the book with Marjorie Herrera Lewis, which you can read about below.

This is your debut novel- what did you learn about the process of crafting a book?
The biggest lesson I learned about the process of crafting a book is that it’s hard; it’s really hard. It takes discipline, passion, skill and a willingness to learn something new almost every day.

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What first interested you in Tylene Wilson’s story?
The story resonated with me the instant I was told what Tylene had done. I am a career sports journalist, and to discover that a woman had coached football in the 1940s took my breath away. I also felt connected to her in a way because I was the first woman assigned to the Dallas Cowboys beat in the 1980s. I knew firsthand what it was like to work in a male-dominated field. I was drawn to what I imagined she had endured. Continue reading

Behind the Book: The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar

EDITORS NOTE: From debut author Imogen Hermes Gowar comes The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock, an atmospheric historical fiction novel set in 18th century London. The elegant prose and magical realism transports you to a world of opulence and turmoil. Gowar’s rich visuals and detailed descriptions kept us reading and reading and reading! We had the opportunity to catch up with Imogen recently. Read on to discover her answers to our questions!

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The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock is such a unique story. Where did your inspiration come from? Was there something in particular that drew you to mermaids?
I’ve been interested in the supernatural since childhood, and that definitely includes mermaids. I was particularly compelled by the traditional mermaid myths: the idea that they had a dangerous, inexorable power as much rooted in melancholy and longing as in anything erotic.

I was also really interested in the way people thought of mermaids, as opposed to how they were displayed. The goblin-like counterfeit mermaid effigies that were popular in the eighteenth century and beyond didn’t bear a huge resemblance to the sexy damsels of popular imagination, but people were willing to be taken in by them nevertheless. While I was working at the British Museum I came across one of these fake mermaids—it’s made from a monkey’s torso stitched to a salmon’s tail—and it is oddly chilling. I could immediately imagine the sort of man who might want to acquire it: how he would bridge the gulf between how it looked and what he wished to believe. Continue reading

If You Liked A Place for Us, You Might Also Like…

A Place for Us 2.jpgIf you are part of the HPB Book Club, you are currently reading (or perhaps just finished) A Place for Us, by Fatima Farheen Mirza, a heartbreaking story of family, identity and belonging. As all the members of an Indian-America Muslim family gather to celebrate the eldest daughter’s wedding, each family member looks back at crucial moments in their past as the three children have searched for the place they belong in the world, in their culture, in their faith and in their family. Mirza goes back and forth in time and from one perspective to another, letting the reader see the thoughts and feelings behind every circumstance and every consequence, showing how without understanding, even acts of love can turn into acts of betrayal. A Place for Us is the first title published under Sarah Jessica Parker’s new imprint, SJP for Hogarth.

If you liked A Place for Us, here are a few other books you might like:

 

All We Ever Wanted, by Emily Giffin, I’ll Be Your Blue Sky, by Marisa de los Santos, How Hard, Can it Be, by Allison Pearson, Stay with Me, by Ayobami Adebayo, An American Mariage, by Tayari Jones

 

Sing, Unburied, Sing, by Jesmyn Ward, Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng, What We Lose, by Zinzi Clemmons, Before We Were Yours, by Lisa Wingate, What We Were Promised, by Lucy Tan (coming out July 10, 2018)

So, what’s your next read?

Check out what we’re reading next. Join the HPB Book Club.

Ready Player One & What’s Next for Ernest Cline Fans

Editor’s Note: By now any serious movie buff has already seen the movie adaptation of Ready Player One, which hit theaters in March. At Half Price Books, we love movies too. But since we’re booklovin’ nerds at the core, we would like you encourage you to “READ THE MOVIE” – If you haven’t yet, pick up a copy of the book and discover all the action-packed stuff they couldn’t fit into the 2 hour and 20 minute film. While you’re at it, join the HPB Book Club as we re-read this genre-busting, Easter-egg-filled novel by Ernest Cline.

If you’ve already read the book and watched the flick, then keep reading here! This staff review is just for you! Let’s turn it over to Becky embracing her geekiness as she talks about Ernest Cline, Ready Player One and his more recently-released novel, Armada.

Personal disclaimer: I was an elementary and middle school aged kid during that golden decade we call the ’80s. This was a time when girls and boys played arcade games, watched a lot of cartoons and played with the same toys. We ate sugary cereal, wore Mork from Ork suspenders, feathered our hair and (seriously) were all considered really cool.readyplayer1

Which brings me to Ernest Cline.

I read his first bestseller, Ready Player One, when I heard all the buzz about Armada. It was everything I loved about mid-’80s cinema, games, music and culture, and I decided that if Ernie Cline is writing it, I am on board.

“The grown-up’s Harry Potter… the mystery and fantasy in this novel weaves itself in the most delightful way, and the details that make up Mr. Cline’s world are simply astounding. Ready Player One has it all.” — Huffington Post

Cline’s second novel, Armada, hopes to answer the age-old question, what if your video game obsession is training you to LITERALLY save the world? In the near-future, teenager Zack Lightman, a gaming aficionado who just wants to graduate high school, soon realizes that he and other elite gamers might hold the keys to saving the planet against alien forces.

“Nerd-gasmic… Armada is another science fiction tale with a Comic-Con’s worth of pop-culture shout-outs.” — Rolling Stone

Armada reads like every ’80s video game geek adventure movie, and that’s not entirely a bad thing. It lacks a bit of the “wow” factor after the ingenious. Ready Player One, but it is no less adventuresome. Cline truly is an encyclopedia of video-gaming culture, not to mention his reaches into the depths of ’80s kid’s cinema. Just like with RPO, you can practically see the movie playing while you read. He also strategically places a complete ready-for-mixtape playlist headlined by Queen’s “One Vision.”

The thirty and forty-year old set who hung out at arcades and rushed to theaters to watch any movie with “Star”, “War”,“Games” or “Fighter” in the title will feel whisked back into their local mall movie theater at the over-the-top action, righteous references to all-things-’80s once in again in Cline’s Armada. It’s a great read for teens (with some language warnings for parents) who are really into gaming and retro-culture and they will be screaming for the movie releases in the next couple of years. Expect a lot of fan art and fan fiction to evolve, because that’s what the kids do these days, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see some video game spin-offs as well.

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Photo of Ernest Cline, courtesy of Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ. CC BY-SA 2.0

I imagine we’ll be hearing a lot more from Ernie Cline in the future. According to sources, there’s a yet-untitled Ready Player One sequel in the works and the acclaimed Steven Spielberg will direct it too.

Look for copies of Ready Player One and Armada at your favorite Half Price Books with our specially-priced brand new releases and hot bestsellers!

Becky is Marketing Communications Manager at Half Price Books Corporate. You can follow her on Twitter at @bexican75.

If You Liked Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore, You Might Also Like…

midnight at the bright ideas bookstoreWhen I found out the HPB Book Club would be reading Matthew Sullivan’s dark and twisty debut mystery novel, Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore, as part of our Mystery Madness promotion, I was thrilled. I mean, mystery is my favorite genre. Add the fact that the mystery takes place in a bookstore and all the clues come from books, and you have a book that every bibliophile will love.

When bookseller, Lydia Smith discovers the body of one of her favorite patrons dangling at the end of a rope in the Western History section and finds a picture of herself as a 10 year-old girl in his pocket, the memories of being the sole surviving victim of a killer known as the Hammerman come flooding back, and she realizes that she can’t hide from her past forever. Sullivan expertly pieces the past and present together like a puzzle, and the finished product may surprise you.

If you liked Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore, here are a few other books you might like.

A Bed of Scorpions, by Judith Flanders
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloan
Booked to Die, by John Dunning
The Body in the Library, by Agatha Christie
The Club Dumas, by Arturo Pérez-Reverte
The Bookman’s Tale, by Charlie Lovett
The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde
Quiet Neighbors, by Catriona McPherson
Unsolicited, by Julie Kaewert
Death’s Autograph, by Marianne Macdonald

I’ve already pulled Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore and The Eyre Affair from the shelves of my local HPB, but I think I may have to go back for a copy of The Club Dumas. What will your next read be?

Want to get in on the conversation? Join the HPB Book Club at hpb.com/bookclub.

If You Liked Wonder, You Might Also Like…

If you’re part of the HPB Book Club, you are currently reading (or perhaps just finished) Wonder by R.J. Palacio, a touching middle-grade novel about Auggie Pullman, a young boy with a rare medical facial deformity as he struggles through his first year at a mainstream school. The kids that are kind enough to look past Auggie’s strange appearance discover a smart, funny kid who  is so much more than what he looks like. Palacio explores Auggie’s story from different points of view so that you learn not just how Auggie feels about a situation, but also his family and his friends. Through Wonder, Palacio weaves a tale of courage and kindness that sparked the Choose Kind Movement, where classrooms fight against bullying by signing a pledge to Choose Kind.

If you liked, Wonder, here are a few other books you might like.

Mockingbird, by Kathryn Erskine • Stargirl, by Jerry Spinelli • Out of My Mind, by Sharon M. Draper • Counting by 7s, by Holly Goldberg Sloan • Absolutely Almost, by Lisa Graff • Firegirl, by Tony Abbott • Fish in a Tree, by Lynda Mullaly Hunt • Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key, by Jack Gantos • Lost in the Sun, by Lisa Graff • A Dog Called Homeless, by Sarah Lean • Because of Mr. Terupt, by Rob Buyea

Since one of my favorite things about Wonder was how the story was told through different perspectives, I think I’ll head to my local HPB to pick up a copy of Because of Mr. Terupt, as its story is also told through varying points-of-view. What will be your next read?

What to get in on the conversation? Join the HPB Book Club at hpb.com/bookclub.

If You Liked The Girls, You Might Also Like…

If you are part of the HPB Book Club, you are currently reading or perhaps just finished The Girls by Emma Cline, a clever, yet disturbing coming-of-age novel inspired by the murders committed by Charles Manson’s followers in 1969. In the novel, a strange encounter with an ex-boyfriend’s son leaves Evie Boyd looking back to the summer of 1969, the summer she met “the girls.” Told though multiple flashbacks, Cline describes how Evie obsession with one of “the girls” draws her into a cult and ultimately to one night of unthinkable violence. Cline’s spellbinding prose and psychological insight make this book hard to put down. If you also liked The Girls, here are a few other books you might like.

Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk • Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson • Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman • How to Set a Fire and Why by Jesse Ball All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda • Modern Lovers by Emma Straub • Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

So, what’s your next read? Join the HPB Book Club at hpb.com/bookclub.

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

If You Liked The Girl on the Train, You Might Also Like…

trainIf you’re a part of the HPB Book Club, you are currently reading or perhaps just finished The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins. This psychological thriller is told through the perspective of three different women who have one very dangerous thing in common—they are all living a lie. In the book, Megan Hipwell is found dead and Rachel, who has secretly watched Megan’s life from the safety of the passing commuter train, believes she can solve Megan’s murder. From the moment The Girl on the Train was released, people have compared it to Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn, and with its suspenseful plot and surprise ending, they are not wrong. However, if you have already read Gone Girl and are looking for other books like The Girl on the Train, you may like some of these.

1. The Luckiest Girl Alive, by Jessica Knoll 2. The Good Girl, by Mary Kubica 3. Behind Closed Doors, by B.A. Paris 4. The Silent Wife, by A.S.A. Harrison 5. Big Little Lies, by Liane Moriarty 6. Before I Go To Sleep, by S.J. Watson 7. Truly, Madly, Guilty, by Liane Moriarty 8. The Woman in Cabin 10, by Ruth Ware 9. The Couple Next Door, by Shari Lapena 10. Elizabeth is Missing, by Emma Healey

I’ve already snapped up two of these books. What about you? What are you reading next?

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

If You Liked A Man Called Ove, You Might Also Like…

If you’re part of the HPB Book Club, you are currently reading or perhaps just finished A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman, a heartwarming story about a cranky old man who, through a series of humorous yet touching events, learns to open his heart to those around him and that his life still has meaning. When I finished the book, I wanted to start reading it all over again. If you enjoyed A Man Called Ove as much as I did, here are a few other books you might also like.

1. My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, by Fredrik Backman
2. Britt-Marie Was Here, by Fredrik Backman
3. The Little Paris Bookshop, by Nina George
4. The Invoice, by Jonas Karlssonlarge
5. Our Souls at Night, by Kent Haruf
6. The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper, by Phaedra Patrick
7. The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, by Jonas Jonasson
8. The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden, by Jonas Jonasson
9. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, by Rachel Joyce
10. The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy, by Rachel Joyce
11. Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, by Helen Simonson

Well, I have already picked up the other two Backman novels to read, but I will definitely start looking for the rest of the books on this list. So, what are you reading next?

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

If You Like Me Before You, You May Also Like…

Me-Before-You-Jojo-MoyesIf you are part of the HPB Book Club, you are currently reading or perhaps just finished Me Before You, by Jojo Moyes, which is a book all hopeless romantics must read. At the beginning of the book, gregarious waitress Louisa Clark loses her job, and being one of the only working members of her family, she needs to find a new job fast. The problem is she isn’t really trained to do anything. Enter Will Traynor. After an accident left Will paralyzed, his family needs to find a caregiver for him, but they are not looking for someone who will look after his physical needs as much as they need someone to show him that his life is still worth living. Louisa Clark seems perfect for this. However, as Will and Louisa’s relationship grows, she discovers Will has a secret, and her job turns out to have greater consequences than she ever imagined. Me Before You is a book that will make you laugh, cry and just maybe plan a trip to Paris. Continue reading