Awesome Authors #13: Caroline B. Cooney

Caroline B Cooney - AZ Quotes

Image Credit: AZ Quotes

I discovered Caroline B. Cooney through one of the libraries, either the school or the Russell Memorial Library in Chesapeake. I think I read her for the first time in middle school? It’s been a minute since then, wink wink.

Born in May 1947, Cooney grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut. After high school, she attended several different colleges (Indiana University, Massachusetts General Hospital School of Nursing, and University of Connecticut), but did not obtain a degree.

Her first novel, Safe as the Grave, was published in 1979. Since then, she has written well over 30 stand-alone novels, a trilogy, and three different series. Her work has received multiple honors and awards, including several from the American Library Association (ALA). In 2008, her book Diamonds in the Shadow was named an ALA/YALSA Quick Pick, and nominated for the Edgar Allen Poe Award.

Driver’s Ed (1994)

Driver's Ed

Image Credit: Between The Lines

This was the first of Cooney’s books that I remember reading. I think I was in middle school at the time, because I specifically remember asking my mom lots of questions about what I would learn in driver’s ed.

This book haunted me for years, and I didn’t dare read it again until after I got my license!

Flight #116 Is Down (1992)

Flight 116 Is Down

Image Credit: Caroline B. Cooney

I’m so glad I didn’t read this one while traveling! I realize Cooney’s works are fictional, but she brings such realism to them, I was always left a little paranoid after reading them.

Flash Fire (1995)

Flash Fire

Image Credit: Goodreads

This book made me grateful we never lived in California or anywhere with a high fire danger.

Code Orange (2005)

Code Orange

Image Credit: Caroline B. Cooney

I remember reading this book right after it was published. It was fascinating to me. She revealed the genesis of this book on her website – A librarian was going through donated medical textbooks and an envelope, at that time 100 years old, fell out. It was labeled “smallpox scabs.” What do you think happened next?

Cooney wrote the book in the context of a sixteen-year-old boy finding them in New York City. What could possibly happen?

The Face on the Milk Carton (1990)

I tried to read this one in middle school, but ending up waiting until high school. I do want to read the whole series eventually. It’s fascinating to read about Cooney’s research and writing processes – What if a girl recognized herself as a missing child on a milk carton?

Emergency Room (1994)

Emergency Room

Image Credit: FictionDB

This is one book I don’t remember hearing about. This is going on my TBR!

What about you? Have you read any Caroline B. Cooney’s books?

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂


Book Review #56: “Chances and Changes: My Journey with Molly”

Chances and Changes

Image Credit: Amazon

If you haven’t already, I recommend reading the Book Reviews on the first two volumes of Molly’s BeForever collection:

I really like the Journey Books that American Girl is producing. They offer readers the chance to connect with the historical characters via a modern girl character, and everyone learns something valuable along the way.

I mentioned my love of Camp Gowonagin in my previous Book Review, so I was thrilled when I first learned Molly’s Journey Book would be primarily set at camp. It had me dreaming of my own summer camp experiences, but those were in the late 1990s and early 2000s. This was 1945 – Very different!

I won’t give away a lot of detail, but I appreciated the lessons about friendship, teamwork, cooperation, courage, bravery, and helping others. I also learned a different series of facts about World War II – Something I never knew existed in the United States during this time. I really liked that American Girl took this and worked hard to educate readers about it. Kudos!

Reading this book made me wish there was a time portal in the book. Although summer camp back then was very much structured like the military, I think I would have loved it!

I’ve heard of “adult summer camps” in different states – Maybe it’s time that I sign up for one.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #55: “Stars, Stripes, and Surprises: A Molly Classic 2”

Stars Stripes and Surprises

Image Credit: Amazon

If you haven’t already, I recommend first reading my Book Review of Molly’s Classic Volume 1:

Volume 2 covers the other three books in Molly’s original Classic Series:

  • Happy Birthday, Molly!
  • Molly Saves The Day
  • Changes for Molly

This volume starts in the spring of 1944. Molly is excited to celebrate her birthday. Her family also receives some exciting news – A girl, Emily, is coming all the way from London, England, to live with her aunt. When Emily’s aunt falls ill, Mrs. McIntire offers to help out. Molly is happy – A girl her own age! After a few stumbles and culture shock, Molly and Emily become friends and celebrate their birthdays together. There’s also a few birthday surprises!

As school lets out, Molly, Linda, and Susan head to Camp Gowonagin for two weeks! I remember loving this story in particular as a kid, and made up countless stories about summer camps!

Along the way, the girls learn many things, including the camp’s hallmark event of Color War. They end up on different teams, so who will win?

The final chapters breeze through the fall, winter, and find Molly in the spring of 1945. The war is coming to an end, and everyone in town is putting on the “Hurray for the U.S.A.!” show. Molly’s family receives an exciting telegram from Dad – He’s being reassigned to the local Veterans Hospital and coming home for good! Yay! Molly really wants to be Miss Victory, the tap dancer with the big solo in the show. But, she wants to transform her stick-straight hair into big, beautiful curls before the show. Her sister, Jill, is happy to help. Will everything work out the way Molly hopes it will? And, will Dad arrive in time to see the show?

Like Volume 1, I miss the original illustrations. But, the writing is so vivid, I feel like I’m beside Molly the whole time!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #54: “A Winning Spirit: A Molly Classic 1”

A Winning Spirit

Image Credit: Amazon

Finally! The new BeForever books for Molly were released last week!

Some of you may know that I fell in love with Molly’s character as a kid. I read and re-read her six-book Classic Series over and over. I loved everything that was featured in the catalogs. In 2013, I finally realized one of my biggest childhood dreams by buying the Molly doll from American Girl, shortly before she was archived.

Now, on to the review!

Like the other BeForever series, this first volume covers Molly’s original three books:

  • Meet Molly
  • Molly Learns A Lesson
  • Molly’s Surprise

We first meet Molly around Halloween, with her friends, Linda and Susan. They live in Jefferson, Illinois. They are planning their Halloween costumes in the fall of 1943, as World War II continues. Molly’s father, James McIntire, is an Army doctor, currently stationed in England helping sick and wounded soldiers. Molly misses him dearly, but has a full house at home, with her mom, the housekeeper, Mrs. Gilford, and her three siblings – Older sister, Jill; older brother, Ricky; and younger brother, Brad.

After multiple tricks and treats at Halloween, Molly learns several lessons about lending a hand, cooperation, jealousy, and speaking up when it counts the most.

Christmas is challenging with Dad still away and the war, but the Merry McIntires make the most of it. Molly works together with her sister to pull off one great surprise, and someone in the family has a surprise of their own to share!

I certainly miss the beautiful illustrations from the Classic Series, but Valerie Tripp’s writing, as always, carried me back in time, right alongside Molly, her family, and her friends.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂


Awesome Authors #12: John Green


Image Credit: Pinterest

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

Image Credit: Amazon

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

Image Credit: Amazon

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

Image Credit: Amazon

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

Image Credit: Amazon

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 🙂

Book Review #53: “Bright-Sided: How Positive Thinking Is Undermining America”


Image Credit: Amazon

This was the second book that Al gave me for Christmas. He’s heard me talk about Barbara Ehrenreich before. I read her book Nickel and Dimed (2001) for one of my early college classes, and it’s stuck with me ever since.

Right out of the gate, Ehrenreich writes about her own battle with breast cancer, and how “fighting cancer with a positive attitude” has permeated our culture. Although this book was published in 2009, nearly 10 years ago, the same sentiments appear to be holding strong. I have my own opinions about breast cancer charities and the amount of money that is spent on research (Susan G. Komen in particular), but let’s just say that Ehrenreich’s words and research fell in line with my thoughts.

Ehrenreich continues with chapters about the economy, life coaches, how “coaching” entered into corporate culture, and so on. One review compared positivity and positive thinking to a fake orgasm. “Fake it ’til you make it” is referenced a lot, and not always in a good way. But, Ehrenreich says, that’s okay. It’s actually healthier to not be positive all the time. Her main point is to not get brainwashed, and make sure you remain in control of your emotions.

While I was reading, I couldn’t help but think of the Pixar movie Inside Out (2016), where the viewers are inside the head of 11-year-old Riley and seeing her emotions (Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Fear, and Anger) interact. If you haven’t seen the movie, you should. And I wondered if Ehrenreich had seen it, and what she thought about it. A lot of her writing in this book, years before the movie was released, was spot on with the messages Pixar was sending to moviegoers. We all have Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Fear, and Anger among us and in us for a reason and a purpose.

I’m glad that I put this book on my Amazon wish list. I had been thinking about Ehrenreich and Nickel and Dimed a lot last year, and I found myself searching for more books written by her. I was not disappointed. I plan to read several more of her works in the future:

Despite this compelling read, I still have a positive attitude. I’ve always been an optimist – One nonfiction book isn’t going to turn me into a pessimist. However, I’m definitely going to pay closer attention to my surroundings, try not to get caught up in hype, and stay in control of my emotions.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #52: “The Woman in Cabin 10”

The Woman in Cabin 10 - Amazon

Image Credit: Amazon

This is one of three books that my wonderful husband gave to me for Christmas!

I first learned about this book, and the author, in September 2017 thanks to a book review from Thrice Read. Don’t worry, the ladies have spoiler-free reviews, and this is one of them. I immediately added this book to my Amazon wish list!

Once I started reading, I could hardly put this book down. Ever since I read The Girl On The Train, I wanted to find and read more thrillers. Ware’s writing is amazing, and spellbinding. I did not want to put this book down. She seamlessly takes you from London, to Scandinavia, and back again.

I will say that I’m glad I didn’t read this book on a boat or on a cruise, and I recommend that you don’t either. Ware is so talented at making you feel like you’re a fly on the wall, watching main character Laura’s (Lo’s) every single move on the luxury yacht.

And once you think you’ve figured it all out, there’s a twist. And another. And another. I felt for Lo, I caught myself holding my breath several times! It’s very much like a murder mystery, with psychological horror thrown in.

I’m amazed I didn’t have nightmares, since I typically read before going to bed. Ware is such a good storyteller!

I look forward to reading In a Dark, Dark Wood very soon! I hope she continues writing, because Ruth Ware is quickly rising toward the top of my favorite authors list.

5 out of 5 stars.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂