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On the Books: Amazon will offer 1-hour delivery service in Manhattan

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Amazon is jumping on New York’s same-day-delivery bandwagon with Prime Now, a new service promising one-hour delivery of a number of products to Prime members in Manhattan. From 6 a.m. to 12 a.m. every day of the week, customers can order through the Prime Now mobile app—opting for one-hour delivery at the price of $7.99 or two-hour delivery for free. The orders will be filled at Amazon’s new center at 34th street, its first brick-and-mortar retail location. “There are times when you can’t make it to the store and other times when you simply don’t want to go,” said Amazon’s SVP of worldwide operations, Dave Clark. “There are so many reasons to skip the trip and now Prime members in Manhattan can get the items they need delivered in an hour or less.” The service is only available to Manhattanites for now, but Amazon expects to roll out Prime Now in other cities next year. [GalleyCat]

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J.K. Rowling: Yes, there are LGBT students at Hogwarts too

On Dec. 16, J.K. Rowling finally revealed that there were Jewish students at Hogwarts. So fans started wondering: Were there LGBT students, as well?

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Pottermore Christmas, day 7: The life and loves of Professor McGonagall

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Today’s Pottermore riddle features the back story of one of Hogwarts’ most dedicated professors: Minerva McGonagall.

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On the Books: Philip Pullman's new short story revisits an old character

A new short story by Philip Pullman returns readers to the world of the classic His Dark Materials trilogy for the first time in six years. Pullman wrote “The Collectors” for exclusive digital distribution by audiobook publisher Audible—available in the U.K. this week, and out in the U.S. in January. Set at his alternate version of Oxford, the story follows the early life of Pullman’s villain Mrs. Coulter. The author last visited the fictional world in his novella Once Upon a Time in the North.

Pullman may be using old characters, but writing “The Collectors” was a new experience for him. “I find it very difficult as a form,” the author said of short story writing. “With a novel you can sprawl out, go down blind alleys—it’s a much bigger, looser thing. With a short story, you have to be tight.” [The Guardian]

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'Big Man Plans': Like Tyrion Lannister, but with grenades-exclusive

From the first few pages of their new comic Big Man Plans, it’s clear what creators Tim Weisch and Eric Powell have in mind—a Tarantino-esque, blue-collar revenge fantasy about a disenfranchised member of society straight-up wrecking dudes. Powell’s no stranger to big, bold action stories—he’s the writer/artist behind the Eisner winning comic The Goon, a story about a brawny guy in a golf cap wrecking a wide array of horrific monsters. Weisch—whose day job is VP of Business Development over at Oni Press—is very good at drawing dudes getting wrecked. They’re a good fit.

But as much as you may like comics about wrecking stuff, there’s more to Big Man Plans than big, violent fight scenes—and so EW reached out to Powell and Weisch to get a feel for what we can expect from the titular Big Man and his plans.

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J.K. Rowling: Yes, there are Jewish students at Hogwarts

With Christmas just around the corner, many Harry Potter fans find themselves reminiscing about Hagrid’s 12 trees—which for some is then quickly followed by one burning question: Were there any Jewish students at Hogwarts?

In a recent fan Q&A on Twitter, one fan asked J.K. Rowling that question, to which she responded with a name: Anthony Goldstein was Jewish! Rowling then clarified: Goldstein wasn’t the only Jewish student; however, he’s the only one she knows by name.

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Pottermore Christmas, day 6: Is Snape a vampire?

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Judging from the past few days, it seemed like the new material in this “12 days of Pottermore Christmas” was probably just the riddles. However, today’s backstories were a bit juicier, as they addressed the fan theory that says Snape is a vampire.

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'Clifford the Big Red Dog' creator Norman Bridwell dies at 86

Author and illustrator Norman Bridwell died on Friday, Dec. 12, in Martha’s Vineyard at age 86. His publisher, Scholastic, announced the news Tuesday, but did not give a cause of death. READ FULL STORY

Neil Gaiman and J.H. Williams III talk Morpheus' father and this week's 'Sandman: Overture'

When Neil Gaiman announced that he would be once again returning to his much beloved comic book series The Sandman with a six-issue prequel series titled The Sandman: Overture, fans rejoiced. There really isn’t anything quite like The Sandman, a 75-issue story about stories written by Gaiman and illustrated by a long list of some of the best artists in comics. Illustrated by J.H. Williams III, one of the most jaw-droppingly gifted artists working in comics today, Overture was to tell the story that immediately preceded the first issue of Sandman, which saw the Master of Dreams laid low—something had weakened him, leaving him vulnerable to human occultists that imprisoned him for 70 years.

However, Overture hasn’t had the smoothest release schedule. Initially planned as a bi-monthly series, the book has slipped to an irregular schedule—issue three was released in July. While the long waits can be frustrating, when an issue does come out, it’s absolutely worth it. Williams’ art is lush, inventive, and ludicrously pretty, while Gaiman’s writing feels like he never quit telling Sandman stories.

With Overture’s fourth issue, available tomorrow, we’re approaching the confrontation between Dream himself and the mysterious force that lies at this story’s end. There’s a city of anthropomorphic stars, an asylum where one insane star resides, and the father of Dream and the Endless makes his first appearance. As things start to build toward Overture‘s conclusion, EW reached out to Gaiman and Williams to talk a little bit more about what readers can expect—and to share a few stunning preview pages.

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Pottermore Christmas, day 5: Dumbledore remembers Tom Riddle

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Today’s Pottermore riddle is brought to you in part by Kid Voldemort, a.k.a. Tom Riddle.

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