Category Archives: have you heard about this amazing author?

Best Books I Read in 2012: Adult Fiction

I had to alter the title for this post, because as I was going over the best adult fiction I’ve read in 2012, I realized that some of it wasn’t published this year.  I tend to read the current middle grade and youth fiction books, but sometimes adult fiction slips by me.  So, here are a couple books from 2012, and one book that was too good not to include.  (Again, this list is comprised of my favorites from the year, so I’m sure there are books missing from the list.  Feel free to add your choices in the comments).

Best books published in 2012

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

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Once in a while I read outside my comfort zone.  This time it paid off.  Gone Girl is one of those books that you literally cannot put down.  Gillian Flynn has a knack for combining characters you love to hate with a compulsively page-turning plot.  I loved this book so much I read her debut, Sharp Objects, and currently have about 30 pages left in her sophomore novel, Dark Spaces.  All of them are must-reads in my book!

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

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2012 was certainly a good year for apocalyptic fiction.  As we all mused about the events of 12/21/12, some authors actually plotted out what the end of the world might be like.  For me, this wasn’t a perfect book, but it did make me wonder about the apocalypse.  Would people turn on each other?  How fast would society crumble?  Also, KTW’s theory about how the world ends (it simply begins to slow down, which wreaks havoc on the length of our days and the entire ecosystem) seemed very plausible to me.  I’m also a big fan of adult literature from a young person’s perspective (Julia, the narrator of this story, is 14 at the time of “the slowing”).  We made it through 12/21/12, but the apocalypse and everything associated with it is still an awesome topic for fiction.  (I have to include Everything Matters! by Ron Currie Jr. as another fantastic book about the end of the world).

Best books that I read in 2012

Swamplandia! by Karen Russell

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This is one of my favorite books of all time.  I know I said that quite frequently, but Karen Russell managed to tell this story in a way that made me re-read paragraphs.  I would read along and then get stuck on one beautiful line, and think “who writes like that?”  Nothing in this book is stale or cliche.  Karen Russell creates a world and then invites you along for a ride in the alligator-infested swamps of the Everglades.

What were your favorite books from 2012?  Which ones are you looking forward to in 2013?

Happy New Year’s Eve and see you next year!!!



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Top Books of 2012: YA and Middle Grade Fiction

The end of December causes us to look back on everything we did (or read) during the past year.  Here are my picks for the best YA and middle grade books of 2012 (limited to what I actually read, so I’m sure I’m missing more than a few good ones!)

I don’t know about you, but when I’m reading a book that is all the way at one end of the spectrum (either amazing or horrible) I tend to flip to the author’s photo many times as I read.  If it’s a great book, I’m in awe, thinking “How could you have written this?”  (If it’s bad, I’m thinking the same thing, but more along the lines of “How could you have written this???“)  Anyway, for this wrap up of the year, I thought I’d feature the books with their creators.


The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

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This book came out all the way back in January, but I still think about it a lot.  In fact, I read it twice.  Once on vacation, and I listened to the audiobook several months later.  If I could find the audiobook version with John Green as the narrator, I’d love to hear that story again.

Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley

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A coworker recommended this book to me, and I’m glad she did.  It’s one of those books that makes you invest in the characters, to the point where what happens to them seems like it’s happening to you.  This is another book that I think about often, and the fate of the characters at the end is still up for debate!

Every Day by David Leviathan

I read this on NetGalley, and it was the first time that I willingly read a book on a computer screen.  David Leviathan is capable of writing from many different perspectives (the main character in this book switches bodies every day) while giving each one complexity and depth.

Middle Grade

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

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This book broke my heart (in a good way).  I felt for August as he tried to make it through the jungle of middle school with a facial deformity.  This book has been embraced by librarians who realize that middle grade students need stories about what they’re really going through:  bullying, prejudice, cliques, and discrimination.  It’s not always easy to read about, but books like these can be a lifesaver to a kid in need.

Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead

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Rebecca Stead mixes quirky characters with an intriguing mystery.  I can’t think of a kid who wouldn’t get caught up in this book.

What was your favorite middle grade/YA book for 2012?  Tomorrow:  my favorite adult fiction from 2012.


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Some great book suggestions from John Green

When I need some blogging inspiration, I go to the best vlogger (video blogger) I know:  John Green.  YA author John Green and his brother, Hank Green, post short videos several times a week.  The videos cover a wide range of topics, from politics and how you can lend money to people in developing countries through Kiva to Hank’s original songs and John writing on his own face with permanent marker.  This video from John inspired me to write some book recommendations for the Christmas season (which are coming soon!)  In the meantime, check out some of his suggestions:

Have you read any of these books?  I second his demand for the third book in the Divergent series…what a cliffhanger!


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Reaching Teens at the Library

I recently listened to a webinar about dealing with teens in the library.  The presenter, Erin Downey Howerton, described teens as “adults without adult experience.”  I think she got it spot on.  As someone who works with teens, I try to keep this in mind.  When teens talk to librarians, they aren’t looking for another adult to tell them what to do.  They are looking for someone to recommend a good book, talk about the latest music, or just listen to what they have to say.

A Teen Advisory Board provides teens with a place to share their thoughts about books, music, movies, the library, and life in general.  I hope our TAB group reinforces the idea that the library can be a “third space.”  After home and school, many teens see the library as a meeting place to connect with others, do homework, or go online.  The Ellsworth Public Library Teen Advisory Board, although small, is one of the most rewarding programs for me.  If I could give teens one piece of advice to take with them through life, it would be “DFTBA.”  So, what do these 5 letters mean?  Don’t Forget to be Awesome.  Everyone has his/her own definition of awesome, but in general, I think it boils down to the same concept: do your best, respect others, and believe in yourself enough to take a chance.  No matter what your future goals are, DFTBA rings true for everyone.

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DFTBA is John Green’s mantra.  He is the author of many insightful YA novels (including Looking for Alaska, Paper Towns, and The Fault in our Stars) and happens to be the spokesperson for this year’s Teen Read Week.

At the Ellsworth Public Library, the Youth Services Department has a few ideas for Teen Read Week:

In our YA room, we will have a Teen Patron Pick book display (hopefully with some short book reviews by the teens).

We plan to wrap up some YA books that may have been overlooked (due to an unappealing cover or old copyright date) and encourage teens to check out these “mystery reads.”

We are getting a bulletin board for the YA room so we can start a “conversation” (in the form of post it notes) about what teens are reading. For Teen Read Week, we’ll ask them to write down the facebook status for a character in a book they’re reading (this idea was “borrowed” from a Pinterest board about Teen Programs). How do you plan to celebrate Teen Read Week?


Remember “DFTBA!”


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“One Morning in Maine” Day

Here are some pictures from our day in Brooksville, celebrating 60 years of One Morning in Maine as a fundraiser for the Brooksville Library.

Kids got a spark plug at Condon’s Garage and had the chance to look around inside.  Outside, there were plenty of old cars to examine:

Many of the illustrations from the book were displayed around town.  It was great to match up the picture with the locations–kind of like walking through the story!  Here’s one example:

The illustration from “One Morning in Maine”

Buck’s Harbor today.

Like Sal and Jane did in the story, we got an ice cream cone:

To top it all off, Jake had a loose tooth, just like Sal did in One Morning in Maine!

A good time was had by all!  Thanks to Jason, Cam, Cole and Jake for inviting and letting me tag along and congrats to the Brooksville Library on a successful event.


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Celebrate Robert McCloskey’s “One Morning in Maine” in Brooksville this weekend

Are you looking for a fun way to spend Sunday afternoon?  The Brooksville Free Public Library is hosting a day of fun events to celebrate Robert McCloskey’s One Morning in Maine.

This is a fundraiser for the Brooksville Free Public Library, so if you’re in the area, please stop by and show your support.

Here’s some more detailed information:

Hope to see you there!

This is a hard question, but what is your favorite book by Robert McCloskey?  I would have to say One Morning in Maine (or Blueberries for Sal, or Time of Wonder, or Make Way for Ducklings 🙂 )

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Author Interview: Phillip Hoose

Here is my interview with 2012’s Katahdin Award winner Phillip Hoose.  Phillip’s new book, Moonbird:  A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95, will be released on July 17th, 2012.

Photo credit: Jan van de Kam

How did you decide to write a book about B95?

My friend Charles Duncan told me of a Red Knot that had been banded in Argentina as an adult bird in 1995, and who was still alive in 2009, when we had the conversation.  Identified primarily by an orange band bearing the inscription B95 around his upper left leg, he was rapidly becoming famous.  They gave him the nickname “Moonbird,” because he (and he is a he) had migrated during the course of his lifetime a distance farther than that between the earth and the moon.  It struck me that by following and learning everything I could about a single charismatic individual, I could put a face to a worldwide loss of shorebirds, which is a great crisis.


What makes B95 different from the rest of his species?

He has some inexplicable combination of toughness, judgment and luck.  Some scientists think he has a ‘gift for the middle.’  That means he stays in the middle of the flock, an advantage, say, when a Peregrine falcon flies above you and tries to harry a single individual from your flock.  Other scientists think he is more adaptable than others: when one beach is covered by the incoming tide, perhaps he can find the next beach where food is still available faster than other birds.  Or maybe it’s good genes.  Or great luck.  Or all of the above and more.  Speaking of genes, who wouldn’t want The Moonbird’s genes?  And the good news there is that he’s been a father many times over.  At this moment, as I write, he has probably just reached the Arctic, where is staking out a breeding territory.  He’s probably very busy right now.

Humans play a part in the disruption of these birds’ food supply.  What are some small things we can do to help the situation?

First, learn your birds.  Go outside and notice the differences between a robin and a jay.  Who gets up first?  Where do they nest?  What are the markings and behaviors that identify them?  Find people in your community who know about birds and go out birding with them.  Learn all you can.  Get a bird app for your smart phone–there are some great ones that produce bird songs.  Go to the beach and learn your shorebirds.  Help with efforts not to disturb shorebirds during nesting season.  Keep dogs away. Join Friends of the Red Knot, a youth-led program whose goals are to get red knots listed under Endangered Species Act protection, and to ensure that horseshoe crabs–a main knot food source–are not overfished in Delaware Bay.  Link is

What are some of the challenges you face while researching a non-fiction book?

Different challenges for different books.  For example, with Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice, a major problem was finding photographs of her.  Her family had no camera.  Photos others had taken of her had been destroyed or lost.  With We Were There Too: Young People in US History, a major problem was finding stories, and then verifying their veracity.  And my own stamina was tested–the project took six years and wore me to a nub.  With Moonbird, the main problems have been about keeping up with the science that biologists use to find, capture, band, track, and assess the health of shorebirds.  Geolocators changed everything.  They are these miniature sextants that you can fit on a birds leg.  The devices record a longitudinal and latitudinal reading every day.  So if you can recapture the bird and remove the device, you can plug it into a computer and ascertain the birds’ day by day journey.  It is a revolutionary tool, because now we really know where they go on these unimaginably arduous flights.

What was your first thought when you found out that B95 had been spotted in New Jersey?

It was just so cool!!  I was elated.  The discovery happened on May 28, which the most frequent day of departure for knots from Delaware Bay to the Arctic.  So Patricia Gonzales may well have found him on the last possible day.  Had she not spotted and photographed him, we would have had to wait until late summer or early fall to see him again.  I mean, can you believe that any creature could be so strong?  And I have held many knots in my hands.  They seem delicate but they’re not.  The Moonbird must be one of the toughest creatures alive.

Thank you, Phillip! 

To learn more about Moonbird, click here to check out Phillip Hoose’s blog.


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