Awesome Authors #12: John Green

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I first learned about John Green when I was assigned to read one of his books in my Young Adult Literature class during my final semester in college. He’s quickly become one of my favorites. I’m determined to eventually read all of his books.

Born in August 1977, Green moved several times during his childhood with his parents and brother, Hank. He graduated from Indian Springs School in 1995. He attended Kenyon College in Ohio, graduating in 2000 with a double major in English and religious studies.  Intending to become an Episcopal priest, he served as a student chaplain at a children’s hospital in Columbus, Ohio, although he ended up not attending divinity school.

Green lived in Chicago, Illinois, for several years. He worked as a publishing assistant and production editor for the book review journal Booklist. In addition, he has written book critiques for The New York Times Book Review, and created original radio essays for NPR’s All Things Considered and Chicago’s public radio station WBEZ.

His first novel, Looking For Alaska, was published in 2005. Green has written four novels individually, collaborated with other authors on two more, five short stories, and several pieces written for donors to Project for Awesome (P4A). In addition, he is an active vlogger with his brother, Hank, a podcaster, and has had roles in the movie adaptations of two of his novels (The Fault in Our Stars and Paper Towns).

Green has been honored with multiple awards since 2006. He received the Michael L. Printz Award in 2006 for Looking For Alaska, the Edgar Allan Poe Award for Paper Towns in 2009, the National Author Award at the Indiana Authors Award ceremony in 2012, and the Visionary Award at the mtvU Fandom Awards in 2014.


Looking For Alaska (2005)

Looking For Alaska

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This was the book that started it all. I fell hard for this book in my Young Adult Literature class in the spring of 2011. Immediately after finishing the last page, I went through Longwood’s library, looking for more by Green. This is such a powerful book, almost more powerful than the others that he’s published thus far. It’s gripping, spellbinding, and heart-wrenching.

While researching for this post, I learned that Green based this book on his experiences at Indian Springs School near Birmingham, Alabama. Fascinating!

Paper Towns (2008)

Paper Towns

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So far, this book is tied with Looking For Alaska as my all-time favorite of Green’s. I loved this book when I first read it, and I have my own copy now. I think I re-read it three times in one year. It’s that good. I loved the movie adaptation, too.

The Fault in Our Stars (2012)

The Fault in Our Stars

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I reviewed this book in January 2016: Book Review #9: “The Fault in Our Stars.”

I was definitely late to the party to read this book, but I’m glad I waited until the movie hype was over. I’m glad I read the book – But, I still haven’t seen the movie. It’s a heart-breaker. Like Looking For Alaska, Green based this book on his experience as a student chaplain at the children’s hospital in Columbus, Ohio, after his college graduation.

Turtles All The Way Down (2017)

Turtles All The Way Down

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This has been on my TBR since I heard it was being published. Green drew from his own experiences with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) for this book, and from what I understand, it’s one of his best yet.


What about you?

Have you read / seen any of John Green’s work?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Awesome Authors #11: Ann M. Martin

Ann M Martin Quote - Quotefancy

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I first discovered Ann M. Martin in elementary school, when I devoured all of The Baby-Sitters Club Little Sister books from my local and school libraries. There were so many!


Ann M. Martin was born on August 12, 1955. She grew up in Princeton, New Jersey. The daughter of a pre-school teacher and a cartoonist, Martin loved creative writing starting in second grade. As she grew, she loved working with children, and decided to become a teacher. As a teenager, she spent summer breaks working at the Eden Institute, helping autistic children.

She attended Smith College, graduating in 1977, having studied early childhood education and child psychology. After graduation, Martin taught fourth and fifth-grade students in Noroton, Connecticut. Her students had a variety of learning challenges, including dyslexia and autism. She has said that working with special needs children influenced her writing.

Martin pursued publishing after teaching. Starting as an editorial assistant, she worked her way up to senior editor at several children’s book publishers, including Pocket Books and Scholastic.

Her first book, Bummer Summer, was published in 1983. She began writing The Baby-Sitters Club series in 1985. She now focuses on single novels, many of which are set in the 1960s.

Martin has been honored with several awards, including the Children’s Choice Award in 1985, and a Newbery Honor in 2003. She started the Ann M. Martin Foundation in 1990, which supports art, education, and literacy programs, as well as programs for abused and stray animals.


Bummer Summer (1983)

This is Martin’s debut novel. I definitely want to read this one.

Missing Since Monday (1986)

A girl is kidnapped. Sounds like my kind of book.

The Baby-Sitters Club series (1986-2000)

The Baby-Sitters Club - Elle

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Martin wrote the original 35 books, and the rest have been ghostwritten.

This is the most complete list that I have come across: List of The Baby-Sitters Club novels.

Baby-Sitters Little Sister series (1988-2000)

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This was the first series I completely devoured, although I don’t think I’ve actually read them all. I really identified with Karen, the main character, throughout elementary school.

The California Diaries

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This is one series that I discovered while writing this post. I definitely want to read them, since they are journals, and they deal with more mature topics than The Baby-Sitters Club typically covered.

A Corner of the Universe (2003)

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This was the book that received the Newbery Honor. Hattie turns 12, and her uncle Adam returns home for the first time in ten years. Adam has schizophrenia and autism, and while the other adults struggle to deal with his view of the world, Hattie wants to be a friend.


What about you?

Have you read any of Ann M. Martin’s work?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Awesome Authors #10: Laurie Halse Anderson

Laurie Halse Anderson - AZ Quotes

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Laurie Halse Anderson has been one of my favorite authors since I was in high school. I’ve read and re-read many of her books!


Born October 23, 1961, in Potsdam, New York, Anderson enjoyed writing and reading. She has a younger sister. She never saw herself as a writer. When she was a senior in high school, Anderson became an exchange student. She lived on a pig farm in Denmark for 13 months.

After high school, she attended community college. She graduated from Georgetown University in 1984, earning a bachelor’s degree in languages and linguistics.

Her first marriage was to Greg Anderson, and they had two daughters. Years after her divorce, she reconnected with her childhood sweetheart, Scott Larrabee. They married, combining their families. Scott also had two children, so they have four children between them.

Originally a freelance journalist at The Philadelphia Inquirer, she began writing children’s and young adult novels. Her first novel was published in 1996, titled Ndito Runs. She’s also written several works of non-fiction.

Several of her books have made The New York Times Bestseller List, and recognized by the American Library Association (ALA).


Speak (1999)

Speak - Wikipedia

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Speak was my first introduction to Anderson and her writing. It’s an impressive book that I’ve experienced multiple times, both in personal reading and in several classes between high school and college. Melinda learns to persevere through a traumatic event, horrible rumors, and people attempting to ruin her reputation.

Catalyst (2002)

Catalyst - Wikipedia

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Catalyst is set in the same high school as Speak. Once again, Anderson did not disappoint with her realism.

Prom (2005)

Prom - Goodreads

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This wasn’t my favorite book, but it was a good read about the drama surrounding high school prom.

Twisted (2007)

Twisted

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I remember reading this one only once. I’m adding this to my TBR!

Wintergirls (2009)

Wintergirls - Amazon

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This was probably the most challenging book that I’ve read, aside from the first time I read Speak. She dives deep into mental illness, eating disorders, and friendship. I want to read it again.


What about you?

Have you read any of Laurie Halse Anderson’s work?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Awesome Authors #9: Tom Perrotta

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I love so many podcasts, which is a great problem to have. Last month, I finally listened to the NPR Fresh Air interview with Tom Perrotta, which originally aired on July 31st.

I remember reading part of Election when I was younger, and I have seen parts of the movie. But, listening to the Fresh Air interview makes me want to re-read it, and read more of his work.


Born in August 1961, Perrotta was raised in New Jersey. His family roots are Italian and Albanian. He is one of three children. He decided early on that he wanted to be a writer. He wrote several short stories for his high school literary magazine. After high school, Perrotta went to Yale University for his bachelor’s degree, and then earned his master’s from Syracuse University. He married in 1991, and lives in Massachusetts, near Boston.

Since 1988, he has published seven novels, multiple short stories, two collections of short stories, two essays, and at least one ghostwritten novel. Several of his works have been turned into screenplays for film and TV. The most recent adaptation was The Leftovers, for HBO.


Election (1998)

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The story involves high school and presidential elections in 1992. I look forward to reading this again, and then watching the movie (1999).

Little Children (2004)

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This book is Perrotta’s most-lauded and praised books. This is definitely on my list. Like Election, it was adapted into a film (2006).

Mrs. Fletcher (2017)

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I look forward to reading this. The Fresh Air interview about this book was spellbinding. I wonder if this one will become a film?


What about you?

Have you read any of Tom Perrotta’s work?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Awesome Authors #8: Sharon M. Draper

I first discovered Sharon M. Draper in high school. I found The Battle of Jericho at the Russell Memorial Library in Chesapeake. She introduced me to a whole new world. Through her books, I quickly gained a better understanding of African-American teenagers and their lives. Draper’s writing is incredibly realistic, and I felt connected to many of the characters. I’m adding a few of her books to my TBR, also.


Sharon M. Draper was born August 21, 1948. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, she graduated from Pepperdine University. She’s married, and has two children, a son and a daughter.

She was named the 1997 National Teacher of the Year. She has received multiple national and international awards and recognition. Draper is a five-time winner of the Coretta Scott King Award. Several of her books have been listed on the New York Times Bestseller List.


Hazelwood Trilogy

I read this trilogy, one after the other, after reading The Battle of Jericho. It was so life-like, I needed a break after finishing the series. It shows the consequences of driving drunk, to say the least.

Jericho series

I read The Battle of Jericho first, and then I had to wait until November Blues was published in my senior year of high school. I remember feeling ecstatic when Just Another Hero was announced when I was in college. Like the Hazelwood trilogy, Draper covers many real-life topics in these books, including hazing, teenage pregnancy, tragic deaths, and school shootings, to name a few.

Romiette and Julio (1999)

Romiette and Julio

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I don’t actually remember reading this, so I’m adding it to my TBR.

Double Dutch (2002)

Double Dutch - Simon and Schuster

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Like some of the other books, I don’t remember reading this one. This is also going on the TBR!

Copper Sun (2006)

Copper Sun

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This is one of her historical novels. I remember reading parts of it, but I don’t think I finished it. I’m putting this one on my TBR.

Fire from the Rock (2007)

Fire from the Rock - Scholastic

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This is one of my favorite books from Draper. I love historical novels, and this one is written in journal / diary-style. I definitely want to re-read it soon.

Out of My Mind (2010)

Out of My Mind - Goodreads

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This is another book I’m adding to my TBR. It’s told from the perspective of a girl with cerebral palsy. I have deep appreciation for writers that respectfully approach and write about individuals with challenges.


I hope Draper will continue to write and publish! I look forward to reading and re-reading her books, especially her historical novels.


What about you?

Have you read any of Sharon M. Draper’s works?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Awesome Authors #7: Veronica Roth

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I first discovered Veronica Roth in 2011, when I heard the buzz about her debut novel, Divergent.

In my Book Review at the end of 2014, I liked Divergent, loved Insurgent, but Allegiant was disappointing, to say the least. It took me several months, from July through December, to finish the trilogy.


Veronica Roth was born on August 19, 1988. She was born in New York City, but raised in Barrington, Illinois, which is 32 miles northwest of Chicago. She has an older brother and sister. Her parents divorced around 1993, but her mother eventually remarried.

She graduated from Barrington High School. She initially studied at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. After one year, she transferred to Northwestern University to study creative writing. She graduated from Northwestern in 2010. She married Nelson Fitch, a photographer, in 2011.

Roth wrote Divergent while on winter break during her senior year at Northwestern.

She has received several awards. She received the Goodreads 2011 Choice Award. In 2012, she was recognized as the Best of 2012 in the category of Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction, as well as Best Goodreads Author.

The publishing rights for Divergent were sold before her college graduation. The film rights were sold before the novel’s printing in April 2011.

By fall 2013, Divergent and Insurgent had sold more than five million copies.


The film adaptation of Divergent was released in March 2014. The film adaptation of Insurgent was released on March 20, 2015.

Initially, the third book, Allegiant, was scheduled to be split into two films. The Divergent Series: Allegiant was released on March 18, 2016. The former Part 2, re-titled as The Divergent Series: Ascendant, was released on March 24, 2017.


The Divergent trilogy:

  • Divergent (2011)
  • Insurgent (2012)
  • Allegiant (2013)

Image Credit: en.wikipedia.org

Image Credit: en.wikipedia.org

Image Credit: en.wikipedia.org

The cover art for these books is gorgeous. It’s one of the things that attracted me to the trilogy. As I mentioned in my 2014 book review, I loved the first two books, particularly Insurgent. However, Allegiant was a huge turn-off for me. In my opinion, Roth could have made both Divergent and Insurgent a little bit longer, and wrapped up the series with those two books.

The World of Divergent: The Path to Allegiant (2013)

The World of Divergent'

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Roth also published a companion book / guide to the Divergent trilogy, around the time that Allegiant was published. To be honest, I haven’t read this, and I’m not sure if I ever will.

Four: A Divergent Story Collection (2014)

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In addition to the Divergent trilogy, Roth wrote four short stories from the point of view of Tobias Eaton.

  • The Transfer
  • The Initiate
  • The Son
  • The Traitor

The stories have been sold separately, but also packaged together.

We Can Be Mended (2017)

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An epilogue to Divergent, titled We Can Be Mended, was announced in December 2016. I’m willing to give it a shot, although I immensely disliked Allegiant as a whole. Maybe Roth can redeem herself with this one.

Carve The Mark (2017)

Carve The Mark

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Roth’s latest young adult book, titled Carve The Mark, was published on January 17, 2017. I actually didn’t realize she had written a new book until researching her for this specific post, so I plan to add this book to my TBR. It looks like a completely new, completely different story, and I’m excited to try it out. To the library!


I’ve really enjoyed following Roth’s journey into writing, so far.

As critical as I’ve been about Allegiant and the film adaptations, I plan to add Carve The Mark and We Can Be Mended to my TBR. We shall see!


What about you?

Have you read any of Veronica Roth’s works?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Awesome Authors #6: Tim O’Brien

Tim OBrien - Quotefancy

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For some odd reason, I’ve been fascinated by the Vietnam War time period for many years. It started around middle school, when I read the Dear America and My Name is America books based in the late 1960s:

  • Where Have All the Flowers Gone? The Diary of Molly MacKenzie Flaherty, Boston, Massachusetts, 1968 (2002)
  • The Journal of Patrick Seamus Flaherty: United States Marine Corps Khe Sanh, Vietnam, 1968 (2002)

Both of those books were written by Ellen Emerson White. In high school, I read another of her books focusing on that time period, a young adult (YA) book called The Road Home (1995).

I also remember studying the Vietnam War in depth in my 20th Century History class as a senior in high school. In addition to history class, I gave a presentation on Woodstock for my Theory of Knowledge (ToK) class.

Maybe it’s because that was the time that my parents were in college and told me various stories over the years. No one in my family was involved in the combat or action, but I’ve read many books and done a lot of research about the war, and the U.S. involvement.


All that said, I can’t remember when I was first introduced to Tim O’Brien and his books. I think it was Dr. Lynch’s ENGL 150 class when I was a freshman in college. Regardless, as soon as I started reading, I was a fan.

Born in Austin, Minnesota, O’Brien had a younger brother and sister. At the age of ten, O’Brien’s family moved to Worthington, Minnesota. The move greatly influenced his writing, and he uses Lake Okabena in his book The Things They Carried (1990).

O’Brien earned a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1968. The same year, he was drafted into the Army and sent to Vietnam, serving there from 1969 to 1970. In 1968, the unit he was assigned was involved in the now-infamous My Lai Massacre.

After his tour in Vietnam, O’Brien started graduate school at Harvard University, and received an internship with The Washington Post. In 1973, he published his first work, his memoir of his experiences in Vietnam, titled If I Die in a Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Ship Me Home.

Since 1973, he’s published eight other works. His most recent publication was released in 2002.

In the present day, O’Brien lives and writes in central Texas. He’s married and has two sons. He teaches full-time every other year at Texas State University-San Marcos. When he’s not teaching full-time, he teaches workshops to MFA students in the creative writing program.

He has been recognized with several honors and awards. Most recently, he received the $100,000 Pritzker Military Library Literature Award, in June 2013.


Going After Cacciato (1978)

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This is the book I remember reading at Longwood. It left such an impression on me for a long time. Cacciato is a member of Paul Berlin’s squad in Vietnam who goes absent without leave (AWOL), trying to get to France.

Critics and readers alike have marveled at O’Brien’s ability to blur reality and fiction, also known as verisimilitude. I think we read this in Dr. Lynch’s class, my very first semester in college, and the discussions we had were just incredible.

The Things They Carried (1990)

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I didn’t read this collection of short stories for any class (I don’t think so, anyway), but writing this post has inspired me to put it on my TBR. This is where O’Brien use of verisimilitude shines.

In the Lake of the Woods (1994)

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Inspired by O’Brien’s upbringing in Minnesota, this book combines drama, mystery, war, and politics. This is also going on my TBR!

July, July (2002)

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I don’t know what it is about class reunions, but whenever that particular topic is explored, I find myself intrigued. This novel is set in 2000, focusing on the delayed 30-year reunion of the class of 1969. This is also going on my TBR!


What about you? Have you read anything by Tim O’Brien?

Come back next month for another installment of Awesome Authors!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂