Cozy Up with These New Books

Cooler weather, big comfy sweaters and blankets, mugs of hot tea or chocolate and the scent of apples drifting in the air—yes, it’s time for fall! There are many ways to celebrate the arrival of fall, but our favorite is to curl up with a good book. Thankfully, there are plenty of new releases for you to cozy up with this season. Read on to discover our top picks for fall reading, and why they make the perfect read!

This list got pretty long, so if you want to skip ahead you can click for Fiction, or for Nonfiction or for Teen!

Fiction

Let’s start with some fantastic fiction reads—books that will make you light a candle and drink some cider.

The Clockmaker’s Daughter – Kate Morton
Kate Morton is the master of historical fiction, and this book proves her exceptional skills. Grab your blanket and descend into the summer of 1862. Discover a group of young artists led by the passionate and talented Edward Radcliffe as they descend upon Birchwood Manor on the banks of the Upper Thames. Their plan: to spend a secluded summer month in a haze of inspiration and creativity. But by the time their stay is over, one woman has been shot dead while another has disappeared, a priceless heirloom is missing and Edward Radcliffe’s life is in ruins. There’s nothing better than a thrilling historical mystery to put you in the fall mood! This book will be on shelves October 9.

Continue reading

Take a Break, Read a Book!: Your Spring Break Reading Guide

Disappear into a different world and enjoy your Spring Break reading these fantastic books!

Everyone is looking for something to do for Spring Break this year. Whether a vacation is in the works or not, the best way to take a break is to read a book! If you’re in the airport waiting on the arrival of a plane or sitting in the car trying to ignore a hotly debated directions dispute, reading a book is a great way to escape. Reading to the kids while traveling is a great way to distract them from the ennui of getting to the destination. Of course, if you’re not going anywhere for this particular Spring Break, reading a book is great way to get away without all the costs and hassles of real travel. Read on to discover our list of recently released books you can find online or at your local Half Price Books store that are perfect for Spring Break!

stranger-than-fanfictionStranger Than Fanfiction by Chris Colfer (Teen)
From the New York Times bestselling author of the Land of Stories series Chris Colfer comes this fantastic standalone novel that promises to be an engrossing read. The story is centered on Cash Carter, a young, world-famous lead actor of the hit television show Wiz Kids. Four fans jokingly invite Cash Carter on a cross-country road trip, which he shockingly accepts. The group are chased by paparazzi and hounded by reporters. It is the story of an unlikely crew taking off on a journey of a lifetime – but along the way they discover that the star they love has been keeping deep secrets. What they come to learn about the life of the mysterious person they thought they knew will teach them about the power of empathy and the unbreakable bond of true friendship.

the-beast-is-an-animalThe Beast is an Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale (Teen)
This fantastic story is a hauntingly beautiful twisted fairytale. The main character, Alys, was seven when creatures called soul eaters came to her village. These soul eaters are twin sisters who were abandoned by their father and slowly grew into something not quite human, something that needs to feed on souls to survive. Alys and all the children in her village were spared by the twins, but having lost their parents and elders, the children were sent to live in a neighboring village. Afraid of facing a similar fate, the villagers in the children’s adopted home created a strict world where good and evil are as fundamental as the nursery rhymes children sing. Fear of the soul eaters – and of the Beast they believe guides them – rules village life. But the Beast is not what they think he is. And neither is Alys. Continue reading

His & Hers: New Mystery Novels

Looking for a great mystery to read this summer with your significant other? Check out these “His & Hers” new mystery releases and other recommendations for summer.
 
His
What’s the point of being a detective and discovering a murderer when the whole world’s going to end in just a few months anyway? That’s what most people think in this pre-apocalyptic world that author Ben Winters has created in The Last Policeman. But not Detective Hank Palace. After visiting the site of an apparent suicide, Detective Palace just knows that something is wrong. He thinks it was murder. And now he has to prove it before the asteroid pummeling toward the earth makes contact and destroys the planet. He also wants to prove that just because the world is ending, it doesn’t mean humanity should be thrown out the window. Be sure you have a chunk of time to spare when you start reading this one, because if you’re anything like me, you won’t be able to put it down.  After you’ve finished reeling from the shocking ending with a new discovery that leads way to the next book in the trilogy, you might also enjoy some of these other new dark mysteries (shown below).

 

Hers
Size 12 and Ready to Rock, the newest in the Heather Wells series by bestselling author Meg Cabot, is a fun, hilarious mystery to read this summer. Heather Wells is back at New York College for the summer break, but that doesn’t mean she actually gets to take it easy. What was supposed to be a nice, easy summer for Heather Wells as Assistant Resident Hall Director of Fischer Hall, somehow turns into a chaotic one. The dorm is taken over for filming the reality TV show, “Tania Trace Teen Rock Camp”. Just as the filming is about to start, there is yet another murder at Fischer Hall, the deadliest dorm on New York College’s campus. Heather is supposed to leave the detective work up to her boyfriend, Cooper Cartwright, but she just can’t resist a good investigation. If you’re a fan of Meg Cabot, be sure to pick up a copy! And after you’re done, be sure to grab one of the other books (shown below) in this fun, girly mystery series.

 

 

So, ladies and gents: What are you reading this summer? — Kristen B.

May’s New Releases on DVD & Blu-Ray

If there isn’t much to excite you in the theaters right now, maybe it’s a good time to catch up on some movies at home. There are some good titles coming out in the month of May that are worth watching.
 
W.E. (May 1 release) – Most movie fans by this point have seen the Best Picture winner, The King’s Speech. If you ever wanted to know more about the story of Bertie’s brother, Edward, this is one to catch for sure. This film, written and directed by Madonna, may surprise a lot of people. Don’t expect a straightforward historical film here, but a well thought out love story.
 
The Grey (May 15 release) – This film starring Liam Neeson hit the theatres earlier this year to mixed reviews. It’s about a plane crash in the wilderness and the struggle to survive afterwards. The scenes with wolves are a bit beyond reality, so don’t take this film too literally.   
 
The Woman in Black (May 22 release) – Harry Potter returns! Sort of. And as a lawyer no less. Daniel Radcliffe plays Arthur Kipps, a man having trouble dealing with his wife’s death, who is sent to settle the estate of one Mrs. Drablow. Kipps discovers the house is haunted by the ghost of a woman in black, and the townspeople want him gone before he discovers their deadly secret. A great ghost story!
 
Red Tails (May 22 release) – A film by Lucasfilm, Red Tails is about the Tuskegee airmen in WW2. Although the special effects were good, there is much more that could have been done with the story. A moving subject, but I really can’t put this one in the “great” category. I guess this is the sort of film I have come to expect from George Lucas lately.
 
Well, those are some of the new releases coming out and my two cents on their merits. Also be sure to look for some movies being re-released in Blu-Ray format this month. For starters, grab a copy of the entertaining Men In Black II (2002) and the incredible Being John Malkovich (1999).
 
Enjoy the movies! — Jim

April’s New Releases on DVD & Blu-Ray

War Horse  (April 3 release)

The Narracott family is short on money and has to pay rent or be evicted. To make matters worse, Ted Narracott has just bought a thoroughbred horse instead of a sturdy plow horse for the farming season. Ted’s son Albert develops a bond with the horse and names him Joey. Desperately needing money, the family is forced to sell Joey to the British Calvary as WWI is about to break out. Once Albert is of age, he enlists and joins the forces to help fight the war, always thinking and keeping an eye out for Joey, wanting nothing more than to see him again. Does Albert get his wish?

Still unsure about watching it? Just consider its director Steven Spielberg and its nomination for Best Picture of the Year. War Horse does not offer brilliant performances by its cast and has a few “family movie clichés” in it, but it has beautiful cinematography, direction, and overall offers a wonderful story. You can’t go wrong sitting down to watch this one.
 
Iron Lady
  (April 10 release)

Denis Thatcher passed away, leaving Margaret all alone. As she packs away her late husband’s things, she reflects back on her life. Remembering back to the days when she first met Denis, how he supported her clear up through becoming the first female Prime Minister in Great Britain.
 
Meryl Streep won her third Academy Award this year for her performance in Iron Lady (although I personally thought Viola Davis or Michelle Williams deserved it more.) Iron Lady also won an Oscar for Best Make-Up – most definitely deserved. Meryl Streep appeared to be a mirror image of Margaret Thatcher. The film as a whole was a bit disappointing, but it is worth watching just for the performances.
 
A Trip to The Moon  (April 10 release)

Remember the movie Hugo last year? If you saw it, or saw a Smashing Pumpkins music video for “Tonight, Tonight,” then this movie may look familiar to you. A Trip to the Moon is a film by Georges Melies. The memorable shot of the rocket crash landing on the moon graces the cover of this re-mastered limited edition. At the time this film was considered to be one of the most technically innovative films out there. Of course, that was 1902, and we have come quite a ways in movie-making technology since then.

I am very interested to see what is done with the restoration with this film– both the black and white and hand colored versions. I’ll be getting a copy for sure, since I don’t yet own this film on DVD or Laserdisc.
 
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol  (April 17 release)

In a botched attempt to stop a terrorist with nuclear launch codes, a bomb has accidentally gone off, leaving the Kremlin in ruins with the IMF being implicated. The President of the United States has evoked Ghost Protocol, the disavowing of knowledge of any member of the IMF. Ethan Hunt, played by Tom Cruise, is forced to track and catch the terrorist to prove their innocence. Their adventure takes them to Dubai, where there are some great action sequences, one on top of a skyscraper and the other in a sandstorm.

Simon Pegg is back as Benji, and new to the team is recent Academy Award nominee Jeremy Renner. If you liked the previous Mission Impossible movies, this Tom Cruise action film falls right in line. It will not disappoint.

Pop some popcorn and enjoy the feature presentation! — Jim

New Releases on DVD & Blu-Ray

Greetings, fellow movie fans. Now that the Academy Awards are behind us and there are slim pickings for new releases at the theater, it is a good time for new DVD and Blu-Ray releases. Here are some of my top picks.

Hugo (February 28 release)
Winner of five of this year’s Academy Awards, this film surprised me. I went into it thinking it was a simple kids’ movie, but Hugo is an absolutely wonderful film about an orphan boy who fixes clocks at the local train station. His only connection left with his father is an automaton that needs a heart shaped key. The boy discovers that a shop owner at the station has a history with the automaton, a history that will help him rediscover his long lost love of film making. Highly recommended: a must see for sure!

Plan 9 From Outer Space (March 6 release)
One could argue this is the worst movie ever made, but this Ed Wood film has quite the cult following by being a so-bad-it’s-good guilty pleasure.  It is known for its crazy mistakes and complete lack of attention to detail– in one scene, night becomes day, and then back to night (with no explanation), and the graveyard is made of plywood and cardboard. This is one fun train wreck of a movie, and one you can now see with a crystal clear picture and digital sound via its Blu-Ray release.

The Adventures of Tintin (March 13 release)
You can’t really go wrong with the combination of Steven Spielberg as director and Peter Jackson as producer. Tintin has just bought a model ship at the local market and becomes quite curious when Mr. Sakharine seems so insistent on buying it from him. For Tintin, the adventure is on, with his faithful dog Snowy. A great cast voices this one, including Jamie Bell (Billy Elliot), Nick Frost and Edgar Wright (duo from Shaun of the Dead) and James Bond himself, Daniel Craig. A fun romp of a movie done with that Spielberg flare.

The Descendants (March 13 release)
OK, don’t let the trailers fool you, because I went into this film thinking it had some comedy to it — it is much more serious than that. However, it was a very well done and well acted film. It won the Oscar for Adapted Screen play a week ago, and of course it was up for Best Picture, with George Clooney up for Best Actor. This is one you have to be in the mood for, but I am looking forward to watching it again with a different mindset.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (March 20 release)
This is one of the best spy movies I have seen in a very long time. Gary Oldman gives a superb, understated performance, which earned him his first Best Actor nomination. This film takes place during the cold war and involves a plot in which one of their own is in fact a spy for the Russians as they discover and flush out the mole in their own organization. 

When you’re looking for movies on DVD or Blu-Ray, remember to check your local Half Price Books. And if you’re upgrading your DVDs to Blu-Ray, HPB will give you cash for your used movies. Or, if you’re a collector like me (or the HPB Adventure Ladies), check out the selection of Laser Discs and other treasures in the racks at HPB.

— Jim