Buy Guy Collections & Curiosities: When Brecah Met Harry

As a Half Price Books employee in the late 90s, Brecah started hearing a lot of buzz about a guy named Harry, and she wondered just who this fellow was. That’s where a love affair began—and has never ended.

Brecah has an ever-growing collection of all things Harry Potter: books (of course—some signed by author J.K. Rowling), movies, games, magazines, action figures and more.

I know a lot of our customers are just as fond of Harry as Brecah is, so in this, the third in our series of videos featuring our employees’ collections, Brecah shows us some of her treasures and lets us in on the magic spell of collecting Harry Potter.

We thank Brecah for sharing her Harry Potter collection with us. And to all of you HP (and HPB) fans out there, may Harry Potter books, movies and other delights continue to find their way from our shelves to yours! Fantastic Beasts hits theaters November 18.

Steve is the”Buy Guy” at Half Price Books Corporate.

Midnight Release Events: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

MidnightRelease

Can’t wait until morning?  Join us at participating Half Price Books locations on Saturday night, July 30, to get the latest in the Harry Potter story. Celebrate with fellow Potterheads and grab the new book Harry Potter and the Cursed Child when it goes on sale at midnight. **Passes available beginning at 10 p.m.** Pass required for book purchase. Limit two passes per customer, one book per pass. Books available for purchase as specially-priced new items while supplies last. No pre-orders. Check with your local HPB store to see when the party starts. Midnight Release Party at select HPB stores.

MIDNIGHT RELEASE EVENTS WILL HAPPEN IN THE FOLLOWING HPB STORES:

CALIFORNIA

HPB BERKELEY
2036 Shattuck Ave.

HPB FREMONT
39152 Fremont Hub

HPB CONCORD
1935 Mt Diablo St.

HPB DUBLIN
7898 Dublin Blvd.

HPB CITRUS HEIGHTS
7975 Greenback Ln.

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A Grown-up Who Grew Up With Harry Potter

I was a junior in college when the first Harry Potter book was released. Needless to say, the series was not on my radar then, and it remained stealthily outside those bounds until I began substitute teaching after college. That’s when I first saw 12 and 13-year old children toting around the same book.

I finally asked, “What are you all reading?”

I got the definitive answer, “Oh! YOU HAVE GOT TO READ THESE BOOKS!”

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A Toast to J.K. Rowling

Here at HPB, we are huge fans of J.K. Rowling and her ever-popular Harry Potter series.
In honor of her birthday, we celebrate in true muggle fashion with a glass of Butterbeer.
Butterbeer is a deliciously frothy drink of sweet butterscotch and cream.
Here’s what you will need to make your own:

BUTTERBEER

1 cup – ice cream
1 cup – crushed ice
1- 12 oz – bottle of cream soda or club soda
1/2 cup – butterscotch ice cream topping
Whipped cream and cinnamon for topping (optional)

Blend all the ingredients in a blender until smooth.
Top with whipped cream and cinnamon.

CHEERS!

Stop by our stores or online, pick-up the whole Harry Potter collection and curl up with a nice cup of Butterbeer.

 

So let’s hear it, what is your favorite Harry Potter treat?

– Stephanie (muggle crafter)

Fiction Friday: The Night Circus — The Next Harry Potter?

It seems these days that everyone is obsessed with finding the next Harry Potter – and not necessarily a book that is like Harry Potter in content, but creates the same frenzy as Harry Potter. It is expected that The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, which will be available to the public on September 13, will do just that.

The Night Circus starts out with a man, Hector, meeting his six year-old daughter, Celia. Hector then starts a challenge with a friend – who can bring up and teach a better magician. His friend picks a young boy named Marco. As they grow older, Marco and Celia learn more and more about true magic and exactly what they are capable of. In the end, only one of them can win. The circus is their dueling ground. Marco and Celia eventually fall in love and their future, along with the future of the circus, is endangered.

This novel is written in present tense, which makes it awkward at times, particularly in the beginning. It took me a while to get a “reading rhythm” going. I find it very odd that Morgenstern chose to write in present tense, when the chapters jump back and forth in time. Morgenstern is also very descriptive in her writing, which tends to bog down present tense. It’s beautiful writing, but at times is a bit much. For example:

“After the cacophony of shattering sugar, it does not take long for the diners to realize that, though the globes appeared identical, each of them has been presented with an entirely unique flavor.”

One nice touch was the sporadic use of second person narrative between some chapters. The use of second person allows the reader to be guided through the circus and experience it as the characters are. It is a very nice touch and at times gave me goose bumps:

“There is a sound like a woman laughing nearby, or perhaps it is only the rustling of the trees as you push your way forward, searching for the next door, the next room.

You feel the warmth of breath on your neck, but when you turn there is no one there.”

I’m not so certain that this book will create the next Harry Potter type frenzy amongst readers. One of the reasons everyone loves Harry Potter is the readability of the books. The Night Circus does not have that same type of readability, being hampered with flowery words and present tense. 

However, I loved the actual story. While reading, I became completely emotionally attached to Marco, Celia and even some of the other characters. I truly wanted everything to work out for them in the end. If you’re looking for a great story and are up for a bit of a reading challenge, though, I would highly recommend The Night Circus. Summit Entertainment (creator of the Twilight movies) has already claimed the rights to this movie and I’m really looking forward to it. This book has the potential to be a great movie.

 The Night Circus was my last #fridayreads on Twitter. Today, I’m reading Skippy Dies, by Paul Murray.

What’s your #fridayreads today? 

— Kristen B.

What is 13,694 x 600? (BW Can Do Math Too!)

Now that all 13, 694 participants have turned in their Feed Your Brain Summer Reading logs (with at least 600 minutes each), BW was able to sit down to figure out the approximate total number of minutes read this summer by kids all across the country (see him concentrating?)

DRUMROLL PLEASE . . . . BW is thrilled to announce the GRAND TOTAL is:

OVER* 8,216,400 Minutes Read!!!

*(Because we know that many of you bookworms read well beyond the 600 minute minimum, but BW only has so many fingers to count on.)

Anyway– Wahoo, guys! That’s a LOT of brain food! Said Maxwell, age  9, one of our Top Readers from San Antonio, “Thank you, Half Price Books, for the summer reading program. I’ve read lots of books with the gift cards. I’ve read the whole Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Captain Underpants and Magic Treehouse series. Thank you for the support. I can always find good books I like at a good price at your stores. P.S. We have to read 10-20 books every 6 weeks at my school, and Half Price Books always has what I want.”

Here are some of our Top Readers, who logged the most minutes in their stores’ age groups:

     

           

Clockwise from top left: Lorelei, Store 051 (Greenfield, WI); Kyanna, Store 041 (Madison, WI); Megan, Store 051; Peyton, Store 041; Jordan & Talia, Store 063 (Pittsburgh); Lydia Jay, Store 063.

We also had one very special reader, Kiara, whose dad is stationed overseas (first in Afghanistan, then Italy). Kiara was another Top Reader from our Madison store, and she and her mom Karen read over 7,000 minutes this summer! Karen said that she & Kiara read an average of 10 books per day, some of those being chapter books (and since Kiara is only 4, that’s a pretty big deal).

Give them a round of applause! (and one for you too– be sure to keep feeding your brains all school year!) 

 — Kate (and BW)

Fiction Friday: Grossman’s “The Magicians” sets the stage for “The Magician King”

A few weeks ago I discovered that the sequel to The Magicians (by Lev Grossman), The Magician King, was coming out this week. I had The Magicians on my bookshelf for quite some time, so I decided it was time to give it a go. Before starting it, I discovered that many reviews compare it to an adult version of both the Harry Potter books and The Chronicles of Narnia. As a fan of both, I was immediately intrigued. The Magicians sets the stage for a whole new world and is, without a doubt, Grossman’s best work so far, trumping his earlier fantasy novels Warp (1997) and Codex (2004).

Quentin, a 17 year old boy about to finish high school, one day finds himself in Brakebills, a college of magic. He passes a series of tests and is allowed to attend the school. Quentin goes through five years of magic schooling and finally graduates. He and his friends discover another world and go on a quest to destroy an out of control beast.

Quentin is definitely no innocent Harry Potter. He’s an unhappy kid in his late teens/early twenties who uses foul language, drinks heavily and is sexually active. Magic does not live up to his high expectations. The reader gets to see Quentin at his lowest points and then sees how he climbs onward to become a man, instead of just a silly boy. He doesn’t quite become a man in this book, but the stage is set for the sequel.

The most important thing to remember is that while on the surface it is reminiscent of the Harry Potter books and The Chronicles of Narnia, they are by no means the same when you dig a little bit deeper. I feel like Grossman almost gives you a taste of these other adventure/fantasy books and then immediately dashes all thinking that they are the same. For example, at the beginning of Quentin’s time at Brakebills he has a male (Penny) and a female (Alice) best friend. Remind you of another adventure story with a trio of friends? But, just pages later you discover that Alice is extremely shy and has had a horrifying past, and the three of them do not stay friends for long. I enjoyed getting those small tastes of the similarities and then having Grossman turn the tables completely. I couldn’t put this book down.

I’d give this book 3.5 out of 5 stars if there was some sort of scale here, but I am really excited for where the next book is going. It is possible to see how, now that Quentin has matured, The Magician King is set up to flourish and be a very exciting adventure in Fillory.

What did you think of The Magicians? Has anyone finished The Magician King yet? I just started Chapter One. What did you think? (P.S. No spoilers, please!)

— Kristen B.

Good Mourning: A No-Spoiler “Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows” Review

I am indeed in mourning, whilst I choke down the first of several large lattes with a glassy stare at my computer screen. I knew last night would be difficult, but I didn’t know it would evoke such emotion. I realized I was not alone when only a few minutes into the midnight premiere, I heard my fellow movie-goers choking back the tears as we ended our journeys together. I wonder if they were still teary-eyed on their commutes to work today?

I could quibble over details about changes between the book and the movie, but I am sure there are better Potter-ologists than me in the world. I am consoled by the fact that all Deathly Hallows book-to-movie changes were met with J.K. Rowling’s stamp of approval, and, as a reader and movie-watcher, the story wraps up quite well: Hope prevails. Most importantly, love, friendship and loyalty are the most important things in life– which is what that lonely tousle-headed boy with a scar sought from the beginning, and that is what the boy-turned-man is surrounded with in the end.  

On a scale of one to legendary, the book and movie series scores a big, bold EPIC. Who knows if in 10 or 20 years the cinematic world will find the technology dated, but the story continues in the hearts of young readers for generations.

The midnight premiere atmosphere: It is redundant to say it was magical, but it was. There were ample laughter, giggles and many tears as well as plenty of cheers, fist pumps, and colorful exclamations.

Last impressions from the supporting cast: Neville is a rock star, I’d put Molly Weasly up against any hockey mom with or without lipstick, Professor McGonagall is my home girl and Snape…oh, Snape.

Happy Tears, Wizards and Witches– Becky

Muggles, Despair Not: Top Five Post-Potter Picks

Ok, first off, who isn’t a little bummed that the Harry Potter film series is coming to an end? I’m not going to dwell too long on the end, but would rather reflect on what a great ride it has been. Currently, I’m watching all of the films as a crash course to prepare for the last film, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2“– and I’ve noticed what great casting each film has had. There are Oscar nominees and winners throughout, from Richard Harris to Ralph Fiennes. Knowing we will all miss these characters when the series ends, I would like to recommend some of the other top films from these actors:

Ralph Fiennes (Lord Voldemort/You-Know-Who/He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named): Let’s start with the bad man himself. It would be easy to just hand you his Oscar nominated roles in “Schindler’s List” and “The English Patient,” but I will look a little deeper for you. Check out the movie “Sunshine,” where Fiennes takes on not one but three roles. The film follows a Jewish family for three generations and tells a story of persecution, survival and pride.

Maggie Smith (Professor McGonagall): Moving over to the good guys, Smith has six Oscar nominations and two wins to her credit. There’s a laundry list of great films from which to pull, from her winning Best Actress role in “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” to her Oscar nominated performance in “A Room With a View.” The film I would recommend is “Gosford Park,” which just so happens to feature Michael Gambon, who plays Albus Dumbledore. The first time I saw this film, it came across a little slowly, but multiple viewings have really brought out the subtleties and the remarkable script of this who-done-it murder mystery.

 Kenneth Branagh (Professor Lockhart): Let’s not forget the early Potter film that featured this Oscar nominee. I would recommend “Rabbit Proof-Fence,” but Branagh’s role is very small. Who knew he could play a German Major so well? My suggestion is “Valkyrie.” With plenty of espionage and politics, this is so much more than a war film about the attempted assassination of Adolf Hitler.

 

Helena Bonham Carter (Beatrix LeStrange): With two Oscar nominations under her belt, this Tim Burton regular has many quirky roles to choose from. Coming off a Supporting Actress nomination this past year, you need to watch “The King’s Speech,” which won this year’s Oscar for Best Film. Even though this film is driven by Colin Firth’s Oscar winning performance, Carter was perfect in her supporting role.

 

Emma Thompson (Professor Trelawney): Most would say the movie to see is Sense and Sensibility, for which she was nominated Best Actress, but I’m going with “In the Name of the Father,” for which she received a Best Supporting Actress nomination. “In the Name of the Father” is a true story about a man and his father wrongfully imprisoned for an IRA bombing. Thompson is especially good in the courtroom scenes at the end. Worth watching for sure.

 

So to all you die-hard Muggles, be sure to check out some of the great performances given by the actors and actress you have grown to love in the Potter films. A special tip of the Wizard’s hat goes to Alan Rickman and Gary Oldman, who will eventually get their Oscar nominations, as they are great at what they do. And always remember: No talking or texting during the movie.

Who have I missed? What other movies would you recommend from these actors and actresses?

Happy watching, Jim