Reader Spotlight

Blog name: The Hiding Spot
Blog URL:
Your name: Sara Grochowski

What genre(s) does your blog focus on?

All genres and ages from pictures books through Young Adult and even the occasional the adult novel with crossover appeal.

Which book(s) would you suggest for a middle grade level reluctant reader?

In my experience, it seems like most reluctant readers want to read, they’re just overwhelmed (often by the size of the book or the amount of text) or they haven’t been offered a book that fits their interests. So, in that regard, there’s a specific book for each reluctant reader! A few books that I find myself recommending again and again are The Terrible Two by Jory John and Mac Barnett, The Unwanteds series by Lisa McMann, and Oliver and the Seawigs by Philip Reeve & Sarah McIntryre. I also regularly recommend graphic novels for reluctant readers; recently El Deafo and Roller Girl have been my favorites!

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How long have you been blogging about books and why did you start?

I’ve been blogging about books for nearly 8 years now! Originally, I started my blog as a kind of online journal to keep track of what I was reading and as a way to meet fellow book addicts lovers. I’m from a very small town and I didn’t know very many other people who were passionate about reading… or reading socially, which is what book blogging feels like to me. I love to talk about books and blogging provided a perfect platform for that. Granted, I never imagined I would be doing it this long or that I would make so many great friends along the way!

You are also a Children’s & YA Literature Specialist at Brilliant Books, can you briefly explain your role and your favorite aspect of your job?

Oh, gosh, where do I start? Perhaps I’ll just touch on the biggest aspects of my job. I do the buying for the picture book, chapter book, and middle grade, and YA sections of the store, choose all of the Brilliant Books Monthly picks for Kids and YA subscribers, and assist teachers and librarians with grant research, selecting books to fulfill grant requirements, finding books to fit into curriculum, fill gaps in library collections, etc. I’m also responsible for displays within those sections. And, of course, I spend a lot of time talking to young readers and adults searching for the perfect book. My favorite aspect of my job isn’t anything that I do, it’s the feedback and interactions that I’m able to have with young readers. Like the time a boy and I bonded over shared love of Rohan Gavin’s Knightley and Son – which he read while in London!! – and then he recommended me a handful of books to read. Or any time a reader comes back and tells me that a book I recommend is their new favorite. Those moments are the absolute best!

Do you feel that your role as a blogger and as a bookseller impact and/or influence each other?

Definitely! I feel like my role as a blogger actually makes me more aware of which books are going to be well received by readers, which has an impact on buying decisions for the store. If I see fellow bloggers whose opinions I value and respect raving about an upcoming book, I know that it’s likely something special. Similarly, if a book isn’t being well received and I wasn’t already interested in it, I’ll likely give it less attention. At the same time, being a bookseller has affected me as a blogger in that I’m more conscious of what readers are looking for and struggling to find. When a reader tells me that he loves books like The Thickety and asks for readalikes, I’ll end up writing a post featuring the books I recommended! My blog may have started as a reading journal, but now it’s my hope that fellow readers see it as a resource.

Are there certain questions you usually ask when trying to match someone with a book?

Do you like books that are set in the real world or in fantasy worlds? How old are you? Do you like books that make you laugh? What was the last book you read? Did you like it? Tell me three of your favorite books. Tell me a book that you didn’t like at all. Books readers dislike are just as telling as books they love!

Which upcoming Middle Grade book(s) on NetGalley are you the most excited about recommending?

How to Outfox Your Friends When You Don’t Have a Clue by Jess Keating, Francine Poulet Meets the Ghost Raccoon by Kate DiCamillo, and Beastly Bones by William Ritter. The last one is technically YA, but it’s a great pick for Middle Grade readers who are reading well above level. Ritter’s books have great plots and pacing, but aren’t inappropriate for younger readers.

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Lightning Round!

If you could interview 1 author, who would it be?

Melina Marchetta.

Your favorite Storytime book to read:

The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat. (Then we make Beekle crowns to wear home!)

Your blog in 2 sentences:

Honest and passionate book recommendations for all ages from a lifelong reader and bookpusher. Plus author interviews, cover reveals, and giveaways!

Your bookstore in 2 sentences:

Brilliant Books is the nation’s Long Distance, Local Bookstore. We deliver personal service, expert selections, and efficient, no cost shipping across the USA. (Okay, I admit it – this is from our website, but I couldn’t say it any better myself!)

And to finish off our interview, if you could have coffee (…or something stiffer) with any author, dead or alive, who would it be, and why?

Bonnie Sue-Hitchcock. Her debut novel, The Smell of Other People’s Houses comes out next Spring and it is without a doubt one of the best books I’ve ever read. Her writing is gorgeous and her characters have burrowed deep into my heart and head. I want to press this book into the hands of readers everywhere. And if by something stiffer you mean a latte with 5 shots of espresso so that we can keep up our energy while talking books, we’re on the same page!

cartoon sara grochowski Thanks so much for spending some time with us and answering our questions Sara!
Please make sure to check out The Hiding Spot and stay tuned for our next Blogger Spotlight! 

Would you like to nominate your blog, or a blog you admire, to be featured in our Blogger Spotlight series? Fill out this form!

*Interviewed by Tarah Theoret


17 thoughts on “Blogger Spotlight – Middle Grade edition

  1. I’ve only recently started reading YA again … it’s been like since the time I WAS a YA…and that was too many years to remember. Thanks for the work that you do helping readers, young or otherwise!

  2. I mostly read adult books but I do get occasionally read a children’s book or a YA – I find that some YA books are so much better written than adult books these days – lol. Thanks for featuring Sarah and her blog – I do have friends who ask me for children and YA recommends and now I’ll know where to direct them.

  3. thanks for sharing! i’ve rekindled my love for YA and middle grade books a couple of months back and it’s been a blast ever since.

  4. Great interview! Great blog! I have always loved YA books. In fact, I have reviewed a few. STARLIGHT COMES HOME by Janet Muirhead Hill, was one of my favorites, and I loved the Illustrations, by Pat Lehmkuhl. This story really touched my heart.

  5. I love finding new books to read to my 2year old granddaughter! Very nice to meet you Sara, will be checking out Brilliant Books and your blog. Thank you……..

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