Hot Days and Steamy Books

August days are known to be hot and steamy. Maybe that’s why August is Read-a-Romance Month. As the resident hopeless romantic (yes, I love happy endings and cry over Hallmark commercials), I was asked to make a few reading recommendations to heat up the month of August.

Brushing Up on the Classics:
pride and prejudicePride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Ah, the classic story of boy meets girl. Boy insults girl. Girl snubs boy. Boy saves girl’s sister. Girl gets insulted by boy’s family. Love. If you haven’t read it, where have you been for the last 200 years? You need to read this book. If you have read it, then you know how good it is. Maybe it’s time to read it again.

Jane EyreJane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
The beginnings may smack a little of Cinderella, as this orphan deals with life in a not-so-pleasant household, but no one could call her brooding love interest a prince charming. One thing you can say about the Brontë sisters: they love themselves a bad boy. If you want a new take on the Jane Eyre storyline, try My Plain Jane, by Cynthia Hand, Ashton Brodi and Jodi Meadows.

Going Old School (Books my grandmother read):
The India FanThe India Fan by Victoria Holt
Take the proud, rich boy from the local aristocracy and mix him up with the local vicar’s daughter who is hired to be governess to his sister’s children and throw them in the middle of India during the uprising against the East India Company. What do you expect to happen? A must read for any hopeless romantic.

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Literary Heartbreakers…or Literally Heartbreaking?

I’m a sucker for a happy ending.  Unfortunately, some of my favorite literary characters don’t get that happy ending, whether it’s because they themselves are heartbreakers or because the story they have been written into is literally heartbreaking (sometimes, it’s a little bit of both).  But whether it’s the character or the author that breaks our heart, we have to admit they are impossible to forget.

Here are five heartbreakers and five heartbreaking stories that we can’t seem to quit.

Heartbreakers

prideandprejudice_19George Wickham from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice—He may have all the appearance of goodness, but looks can be deceiving.

giphyRhett Butler from Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind—Heartbreaker or heartbroken? He may be a little of both, but he don’t give a damn.

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50 Greatest Love Stories Ever Told (in a book)

Every great love story has a bit of conflict. You know? That moment of angst when you want everything to work out so they can live happily ever after. Life, not just romance fiction of course, has a chapter or two of conflict as well. But luckily, August 25 is “Kiss and Make Up” Day.

Here are the 50 Greatest Love Stories Ever Told (in a book) to inspire you to do just that. Start reading and get ready to pucker up!


1. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen • 2. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell • 3. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë • 4. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy • 5. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare • 6. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen • 7. Emma by Jane Austen • 8. Atonement by Ian McEwan • 9. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte • 10. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier • 11. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen • 12. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Márquez • 13. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden • 14. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald • 15. Cold Mountain by Charles Fraizer • 16. Bridges of Madison County by Robert James • 17. The History of Love by Nicole Krauss • 18. The Sound of Waves by Yukio Mashima • 19. Possession by A.S. Byatt • 20. The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough • 21. Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel • 22. Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak • 23. The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje • 24. Troilus and Criseyde by Geoffrey Chaucer • 25. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres • 26. The Odyssey by Homer • 27. The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andia • 28. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett • 29. The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles • 30. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green • 31. Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding • 32. The Other Boleyn Girl by Phillipa Gregory • 33. The End of the Affair by Graham Greene • 34. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger • 35. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins • 36. The Princess Bride by William Goldman • 37. The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen • 38. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt • 39. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion • 40. Ask the Passengers by A.S. King • 41. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell • 42. Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta • 43. P.S. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern • 44. The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver • 45. The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson • 46. Love Story by Erich Segal • 47. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon • 48. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh • 49. The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks • 50. The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer

What’s your favorite love story (in a book)? Your #greatestlove?

Meredith is Associate Creative Director at Half Price Books Corporate.
You can follow her on Twitter at @msquare21.

Countdown to Summer: 4 Vampire Romance Teen Fiction Series

Summer is so close, yet still so far away. It’s a great time to start looking for what books to get caught up in while most of your days are free. Or if you’re like me and are out of school, then what books you’ll be reading while dreaming of the beach.

All kinds of teen paranormal romance series have been flying off our shelves since the debut of Stephenie Meyer‘s Twilight. If you’re a fan of teen paranormal romance novels, be on the lookout for some of these titles next time you’re in your local HPB store.

The Vampire Diaries by L.J. Smith was originally published as a trilogy, but after an outstanding debut back in 1991 and pressure from fans, the series exploded from there, launching several spinoff series, including The Return, The Hunters, and Stefan’s Diaries. Throughout the series, we follow Elena, a teenager who is torn between her love for two different vampires, Stefan and Damon, who happen to be brothers. If the books don’t quench your thirst for vampires, check out the CW television series that is loosely based off the novels.
 
The Last Vampire is an eight-part vampire series by Christopher Pike, which has recently been re-done into omnibus edition entitled Thirst. The novels follow the life of a 5,000 year old vampire, Sita, who believes that she is the last vampire and enlists in a public high school, where she falls in love with a mortal. Sita discovers that she’s being stalked and needs to figure out who it is. It’s a little bit slower-paced than most teen vampire novels, but Pike is successful in debunking old vampire myths and stereotypes.
 
In The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare, you’ll find a lot more than just vampires lurking in the shadows. Clary, a teenage girl, goes to a club with her friend Simon, where she meets a boy named Jace and then witnesses a murder. Clary is quickly pulled into a world she never knew existed… one filled with demons, vampires, and werewolves, oh my! Clary becomes a Shadowhunter, or a human that kills demons. This is one series that you’ll definitely want to start at the beginning with The City of Bones. Are you already a fan of these books? The fifth book in the series, The City of Lost Souls, was just published last week!
 
Last but not least, dive into the teen fiction series Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead. Rose is a seventeen year old dhampir (a child of a vampire father and a human mother) who is in training at St. Vladimir’s Academy to become a guardian for her friend and Moroi Princess, Lissa. While learning how to defeat Strigoi (evil undead vampires), Rose falls in love with her instructor, Dimitri Belikov, while sharing a one-sided psychic bond with Lissa. There are only six books in the series, but if you don’t want the series to end, never fear. The spinoff series which starts with Bloodlines continues story from the point of view of Sydney Sage, a girl who helps out Rose in the Vampire Academy series.
 
Hungry for more? Next up in our “Countdown to Summer” — 4 Dystopian Young Adult Series, because let’s be honest: not everyone is a fan of vampires and romance.

— Kristen B.

P.S. Want to be rewarded for your extracurricular reading? Kids 14 and under can earn $5 HPB Back-to-School Bucks during the Feed Your Brain® Summer Reading Program. Check it out!

Top 5 Classic Hollywood Romances

It’s hard not to fall in love with the characters of classic films. Many other romantic movies have been produced since, but they all pale in comparison to these great couples and their classic love stories.

1. Scarlet O’Hara (Vivien Leigh) and Rhett Butler (Clark Gable) in Gone with the Wind (1939) — Who can forget these two strong-willed characters? Take a look at this famous scene where Rhett says his famous line, “You need kissing, badly… You should be kissed. And often. And by someone who knows how.”

2. Terry McKay (Deborah Kerr) and Nick Ferrante (Cary Grant) in An Affair to Remember (1957) — In this clip, the two lovers agree to meet on the top of the Empire State Building, just after Miss McKay says, “Winter must be cold for those with no warm memories.” This movie helped make the Empire State Building into a romantic icon of the New York City skyline, and later played a key role in the romantic plot of Sleepless in Seattle (1993).


3.
Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn) and Paul Varjack (George Peppard) in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) — Paul (aka Fred Baby), a writer, and Holly (aka Lula Mae), a party girl, find love and friendship when they become neighbors in a New York City brownstone. Holly’s stubbornness gives way in this final scene of the film, ending with a romantic kiss in the rain.

4. Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman) and Rick Blane (Humphrey Bogart) in Casablanca (1942) — Rick’s Cafe sets the stage for the reunion of two lovers who find their love is just as strong as it was when they first met. Their sentimental song,”As Time Goes By” – a song made famous by the film – is played by Sam (Dooley Wilson) in this scene. And along with it comes the famous line, “Play it. Play it again, Sam.”



5. Mary Hatch
(Donna Reed) and George Bailey (James Stewart) in It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) — Among many other things, this film is remembered for the romantic gesture made by George promising to lasso the moon for Mary. This is the scene where their love for one another begins — “Do you want the moon? Just say the word and I’ll throw a lasso around it and pull it down!”

Which movie scene makes you swoon every time? Do tell – Meredith

Meredith is Associate Creative Director at Half Price Books Corporate.
You can follow her on Twitter at @msquare21.

Top 8 Cheesy Romance Titles

Cheddar? Pepper Jack? Asiago? Roquefort? I’m talking cheese, and any HPB bookseller’s day can instantly brighten at the sight of a choice cheesy romance title. Not to poke fun at a genre we love to sell (and, let’s be honest, it sells really well) but there are some interesting titles out there. Here are just a few favorites our employees have enjoyed shelving these last few months– and for the record, I can neither confirm nor deny I have read these.

Popular title knock offs: The Devil Wears Tartan or Eat, Prey, Love? How about Forbidden or For Bedding?

Here are a couple from some of our favorite romance subgenres:

Paranormal: Touch a Dark Wolf; Dead Girls Are Easy

Western: Long Hard Ride; The Cowboy Wants a Baby

Historical: The Very Virile Viking; What a Duke Wants

Urban: Every Thug Needs A Lady; Shame On It All: A Novel

 

Or, use some of these formulas to create your own:

Option One:

(Tamed/Taken/Claimed) by the (Tycoon/Sheik/Argentine Billionaire/Savage)

Simple circle one from Choice A and one from choice B. Easy as pie.

Option Two:

Combine three or more of the following in any order.

Something about the man: (Sheik, Billionaire, Boss, Prince, Italian, Tycoon)

+

Something about the woman: (Secretary, Virgin, Mistress, Bride, Assistant, Pregnant)

+

Something about their relationship: (Taken, Bought, Marriage, Convenient, Arrangement, Price)

=

Title-naming gold: The Sheik’s Marriage Arrangement. The Tycoon’s Taken Secretary. Bought: The Billionaire’s Bride. The Italian’s Pregnant Virgin. The Boss’ Convenient Mistress. The Price of the Prince’s Assistant.

And, my own creation, which includes a tagline: Pick Up Day: The Trash Collector Meets the Aging Heiress

 

Is there a job opening for romance title creators? Call me! Loving to read romance has never been so fun…or cheesy!

Any romance subgenres we’ve left out? We were going to include Amish Romance (in fact, a few of us are planning on starting an Amish Romance Book Club soon — our first title is The Englisher) but as you can see, Amish Romance titles are a touch more  . . . proper than other romance subgenre counterparts.

Any other titles you have browsed lately that you find worth sharing?

— Becky