June 30, 2012

Stacking the Shelves!

Stacking the Shelves is a meme started by Tynga over at Tynga's Reviews.  Here's how she explains it:

Stacking the Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in a physical store or online, books you borrow from firends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!
To find out more go HERE for the launch post!

This week I got a lot!!! Actually with the move this may be two weeks worth!

For Review

Seraphina (super excited about this one!)


From Paperback Swap


And an OWL for the week!!!!
If you have coffee at my house (or tea or hot chocolate) you WILL have an owl cup :)

June 27, 2012

Author Interview: John J. Bonk - Madhattan Mystery

I love a good mystery.  And lately it seems like mysteries are making a come back.  I'm super excited about that which is one of the reasons I was thrilled to interview John J. Bonk because he has written a middle grade mystery!

First a bit about the book
All set to spend their summer in New York City with their aunt while their father is honeymooning with his new wife, Lexi and her younger brother Kevin’s snoozy summer plans turn into high-stakes adventure when Lexi overhears a plot to steal Cleopatra’s famous jewels from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Joining forces with budding investigative journalist Kim Ling Levine, they ditch day camp to track down the thieves and rake in the reward money. Can Lexi, Kevin, and Kim find out who’s behind the jewel heist without getting into too much trouble themselves? 
For fans of the classic From the Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler comes a hilarious whodunnit that will keep readers guessing to the very end.
And you've got to check out the trailer!

Now help me in welcoming John J. Bonk to The O.W.L. 

First let's start with the easy questions
What Point of View -1st or 3rd:  Technically, it’s third person, but written very much from the main character’s point of view.

Boy or Girl main character (or both!): Girl. Lexi McGill

Genre: Contemporary adventure

Middle Grade or Young Adult: Middle grade.

More boy or girl book (stereotypically): Tipping more on the girl side, but Lexi’s 10-year old brother Kevin is with her every step of the way.

The Serious Questions!
For Madhattan Mystery- what part/character/event are you most excited/proud about? 

 I have to admit that how I wound up writing a mystery in the first place is—well, a mystery!  I really hadn’t had much exposure to mysteries in the past. So, I suppose I’m proudest of the fact that I could actually pull it off. When I started writing the book, I was aiming for a funny, coming of age adventure story with just a dollop of mystery thrown in. But the more I worked on it, the more the mystery aspect took center stage. Then again, if you think about it, all stories are mysteries in a sense, aren’t they? There are always secrets, and surprises, and puzzles to be solved. Other than the quirky main characters, who I’m in love with, I’m particularly excited about how the story takes these kids on a crazy adventure to all sorts of well-known New York City landmarks as well as a few tasty hidden gems throughout Manhattan. (HIDDEN GEMS: SUBTLE HINT!)  From the Whispering Gallery in Grand Central Station where a mere whisper in one corner of the hallway can be clearly heard at the opposite end—to an old, abandoned train station many levels below the ground—to glitzy Radio City Music Hall, to the magnificent Metropolitan Museum of Art, and finally Central Park at the site of an ancient Egyptian monument.

Tell about your writing process.  How long did it take you to write Madhattan Mystery from idea to finish?  Please tell about revision if you can! I’m very curious about how you plot out a mystery to keep the ending a secret!

I really can’t say exactly how long it took to write this book. There was a lot of starting and stopping with other projects popping up in the middle of the writing process. What I can tell you is that there were many, many revisions. Every time someone new would read a draft of it, I’d take their feedback into consideration and make necessary changes. Plotting everything out down to the smallest detail certainly helps the writing process but it doesn't stop there. Unsuspecting brilliant ideas can strike at any given time. I added an entirely new ending after seeing a particular television news story that sent my imagination into overdrive and gave my novel a big juicy twist. As a writer, you have to be hyper-aware of the world around you ’cause you never know what you’re going to absorb and work into your story.

When you were in middle school kind of student were you?  Did you write then? 

I was pretty much an A-student and was really into music, acting, singing, dancing, playing the piano, drawing and painting. Every color in the creative rainbow except writing. Weird, isn’t it? The only writing I did back then involved schoolwork. I just wanted to be onstage in plays and concerts, that type of thing. Fast forward a whole lot of years and I ended up becoming a professional musical theatre actor, which I did for many years. The writing bug didn’t get me until I was well into my thirties—and I’m so glad it did!

And because it's the owl my standard question always is: WHOOO do you admire when it comes to writing? OR WHOOO do you like to read or really enjoyed in HS or middle school?

Oh, I admire sooo many! Barbara Park and her Skinnybones books really inspired me. They’re such a HOOT! (Sorry. Couldn’t resist, since we’re getting all owly.) I love everything Kate DiCamillo writes and Because of Winn-Dixie remains one of my all-time favorites. I also love Jerry Spinelli, Jack Gantos, Lemony Snicket, and the list goes on and on. Anyone who can write something that makes me laugh and cry at the same time I consider a genius.

The Fun Questions! (based on what 7th graders do!)
Do you chew gum? Yes or No If yes favorite kind? 

Oh, you’d better believe it! Ever since I had teeth. I’m told that when I played the piano to accompany the high school choir, I always chewed my gum in time to the music. At the moment, my favorite is Orbit Bubblemint. It’s sugar-free so there’s very little guilt involved, and the flavor lasts for days.

Do you text? Nope. Only when absolutely necessary.

Was school lunch just as yucky then as it is now?! 

Hmmm. I don’t remember school lunches being particularly yucky—aside from the occasional soggy fish stick or over-steamed faded green beans. In fact, Sloppy Joe Wednesday was the highlight of the week for me! And if memory serves, I was also crazy about those giant pretzel rods—oh, and those yummy peanut butter cookies. They were bigger than average, crispy at the edges, with little ripples across the top—and when they were baking, they’d fill the halls with an irresistible aroma. Okay, now my mouth is watering. 

Thank you John! And Because of Winn Dixie is one of my all-time favorites too!  Love that book.  And I'm very excited that you were inspired to write a mystery!

To find out more about John visit his website johnjbonk.com 

June 26, 2012

Summer Essentials Book Review: The Girls' Ghost Hunting Guide

Sourcebooks contacted me awhile back with a fun Summer Essentials pack - to help middle grade readers have the ultimate summer!  One book was The Girls' Ghost Hunting Guide.  My daughter and I love shows like Ghost Adventures and Ghost Hunters.  We watch them all the time, so I knew we had to check this book out.

Title: The Girls' Ghost Hunting Guide
Author: Stacey Graham
What was that noise? The cat? The wind? Little brother stealing a peek at your diary?Or is it a ghost?The Girls' Ghost Hunting Guide will help you identify the creepy crawlers from the spooky spirits, the howling winds fromt he haunting phantoms. And with this guide you can learn from real experts how to investigate and contact your very own ghosts!Everything a girl needs for a night full of fun, including:• Spooky urban legends to set the mood• Must-have stuff for your ghost hunting kit• Pointers for leading the best-ever ghost hunt• Tips for writing your own ghost• With fun quizzes, games, recipes, and more!So gather your friends if they are brave enough, grab a flashlight, and go investigate!

My Review
My fear when I first got this book was that it would be too cutesy and not really tell the girls anything.  I was very happy to find out that wasn't the case at all.  This book would be great for a girl serious on ghost hunting.  

The first chapter looks at the history of ghost hunting and specific hauntings which I found very interesting.  I liked that this was included because I think if a girl (or anyone) wanting to ghost hunt should know the past.  From that chapter it looked at animals and ghosts.  Very cool chapter since I have a dog and cat, and I always wonder if they are "seeing" things.  My sister was convinced her cat saw a ghost!  I also liked the chapter on ghost parties because it wasn't about cute cupcakes to serve. Instead it was about things to do at a party to make it a true ghost party! Very fun.

From there it went into how to put together a team, what you need to ghost hunt and how to do the actual ghost hunt.  All of it was good direct information that wasn't dumbed down or made to be all girly. It went into things like what to look for on the hunt like sounds, what an EVP (electronic voice phenomenon) is and how to record your evidence. Very well done!  I could definitely see a girl using this information to go on an actual hunt.

What was also fun about the book was the pieces scattered throughout.  There were bios of women ghost hunters.  I liked those because all of the shows I watch with ghost hunters have girls but NEVER has the lead hunter.  Seeing some of the women in ghost hunting was great.  There was also pieces about urban legends, popular ghost sightings and quizzes about hunting.  

Final Thought: Great guide for future hunters
Best stick-with-you image:  How do to some of the party tricks
Best for readers who: Want to ghost hunt!
Best for ages: 9-13

For the guys? They could definitely learn from it, but would they even try with it's title??????

Want to know more:
 Check out Stacey’s website for more information: http://www.girlsghosthuntingguide.com/
And a  a downloadable guide from Sourcebooks’ Educator’s Page.

June 10, 2012

I'm Moving!

No not the blog - ME! I'm moving!!

My kids and I are moving to a new house next Monday.  
Now that school is out for summer I have to go into a packing frenzy not to mention the flooring in my basement needs to go in after the flooding (loooooooooong story there).  

Because of all this I will be taking a two week break from The O.W.L. except for a couple of promised posts. That should give me long enough time to pack, move, unpack some and get my WIFI back up and running!

Hope your summer is going great, and I'll see you in two weeks!

June 6, 2012

What to Read Wednesday?? You Decide

I'm starting something new.  I've got soooooooo many books I need/want to read that looking at new books coming out is sometimes useless!  
So I thought I'd ask my followers to help me pick a book that they think I should read.  This will be done by voting on a poll.  
Then I'll read it within two week and put up the review on the Wednesday two weeks later. This post will be titled What I Read Wednesday :)

This time's choices:

Deadly Cool by Gemma Halliday

Kiss Crush Collide by Christina Meredith

Cold Kiss by AmyGarvey


June 4, 2012

Cover Crush: Boys for Beginners

I  love book covers.  Love love love them! I've been known to drag my sister around Barnes and Noble and show her all the covers I like. I'll hunt down certain students in the morning because I know they'll love a cover as much as me.  I really think I develop a crush on certain covers!

Today I'm crushing on:

by Lil Chase

Ok I'd be the first to admit I'm not usually drawn to covers like this but I LOVE this one.  Why? Why? Why? I love all the colors, and I love how you can look at it several times and see something you didn't notice before.  For example it took a while before I saw the Scrabble tile!  Maybe it's the time of year too.  It's May - spring - so the bright fun colors really appeal.  For whatever reason I'm completely crushing on this cover.