Waiting on Wed: Bloodlines

Bloodlines (Bloodlines, #1)This is inspired by a meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine. In this post I talk about books yet to be released that I’m excited about OR already published book’s I’ve seen that I’m really wanting to read. I also like to try and find books other bloggers aren’t sharing so that more books are shared.

I’m Waiting On:

by Richelle Mead
Release: August 23

Why I’m Waiting

I had several girls that got hooked on the Vampire Academy series this school year (I hadn’t had any before), so I’m excited that there will be a new series for them to read.


When alchemist Sydney is ordered into hiding to protect the life of Moroi princess Jill Dragomir, the last place she expects to be sent is a human private school in Palm Springs, California. But at their new school, the drama is only just beginning.

Populated with new faces as well as familiar ones, Bloodlines explores all the friendship, romance, battles and betrayals that made the #1 New York Times bestselling Vampire Academy series so addictive – this time in a part-vampire, part-human setting where the stakes are even higher and everyone’s out for blood.


Review: Letters to Juniper

Title: Letters to Juniper
Author: Peggy Tibbitts


Twelve-year old Sarah Smith remembers when she was six years old her mother died and she moved to northern Idaho with her brother and father. Their lives changed drastically. The only vivid memory she has of her early childhood is her best friend Juniper Holland. In her letters to Juniper, Sarah reveals her innermost thoughts and feelings about her reclusive life with three younger brothers under the rigid oppression of her father and stepmother who call themselves Separatists. Their lives are turned upside down by an FBI investigation into her father’s association with members of the Aryan Nation. As the tension and violence escalate, Sarah faces life and death decisions in order to survive.

My Review

The topic of this book is not one you typically see for middle grade books, but that only added to my interest in the book.  I grew up when things like Ruby Ridge and Wacco happened, so the idea of a book written from the perspective of a child within the walls was one I wanted to read.

The book is written in a series of letters from the main character Sarah to a friend she remembers from when she was six and living in Florida – before she started living with her father deep within the wood isolated from much of the world.  These  letters, from the start, were over-layed with a thin veil of sadness.  Sarah never said she was sad or lonely or longed completely for her old life, but you could feel it in her words.  You could tell she loved her dad and her brother, but did she love the life they lived – that was the question I wanted answered.  The style of writing was really easy to read.  I moved through the book very quickly.  Because it’s in the voice of a 12 year old girl it keeps some of what could be deep (like her father’s beliefs) from becoming too much.  Sarah’s voice is well done and easy to “listen” to.

Reading from an adult I felt so bad for some of the things Sarah had to go through.  Her father had some different ideas about what was sinful and not, and that really affected how Sarah had to live.  She had to hid her letters to Juniper because he saw them as sinful mainly because if referred back to Florida where Sarah lived with her mother.  Her father said over and over that Florida was a place of sin.  How hard for Sarah! This was a place she remembered filled with happiness.  She struggles with how to put those two thing together.  She loves her father and wants to believe in him, but yet it seems off what he’s saying.

Speaking of her father – the story focuses around her father’s illegal gun selling and how the feds have put our a warrant out for his arrest.  Of course because of his beliefs he refuses.  A group called The Order is involved in his defense as well.  But throughout it all it’s hard to decide who to trust or not.  I think that mirrored Sarah’s life.  Because of her father’s beliefs it was hard to figure out who to trust.  She knew she should trust The Order, but she’s hearing things that make that confusing.  That confusing kept a lot of the tension in the story because you always felt a little on edge – uncertain.  Plus, I didn’t like her father, and I didn’t trust him so all this tension built around the whole situation.

The ending – I was shocked at how it all ended.  Lots I didn’t expect.  It isn’t the easiest ending, and because of it I would be a little careful what students I recommend the book to.  I think some kids might not be able to deal with it as well.  It’s a realistic ending, but difficult. I liked it and felt it fit though – although I would’ve liked more reaction out of Sarah.  My only thought was that she was in shock and couldn’t react stronger.

Final though:  Tough subject handled well.
Best stick-with-you image: The Birthing Shed.  That whole part was hard for me.
Best for reader who: are MG but more mature
Best for ages: 11+

For the Boys?  I’d like to say yes, but the book deals with some “girl” issues that boys but not feel comfortable about.

Check out my interview with the author HERE.

Author Interview: Peggy Tibbetts – Letters to Juniper

Today for Tween Tuesday I’m very excited to welcome Peggy Tibbetts author of Letters to Juniper.  I just finished reading the book, and I’ll be reviewing it later today.  Peggy was kind enough to answer some questions about the book and her writing.

Before we get to that, here’s a bit about the book:

Twelve-year old Sarah Smith remembers when she was six years old her mother died and she moved to northern Idaho with her brother and father. Their lives changed drastically. The only vivid memory she has of her early childhood is her best friend Juniper Holland. In her letters to Juniper, Sarah reveals her innermost thoughts and feelings about her reclusive life with three younger brothers under the rigid oppression of her father and stepmother who call themselves Separatists. Their lives are turned upside down by an FBI investigation into her father’s association with members of the Aryan Nation. As the tension and violence escalate, Sarah faces life and death decisions in order to survive.

Welcome Peggy to The O.W.L.!

For your Letters to Juniper – what part/character/event are you most excited/proud about?
The unexpected ending of “Letters to Juniper” has been described by reviewers as “shocking”, “mind-numbing”, “brilliant”, and “similar to the surprise kick in the movie ‘Sixth Sense’”. I can appreciate the readers’ astonishment. It surprised me, too.

Tell about your writing process.  How long did it take you to write Letters from idea to finish?  Please tell about revision if you can!
I wrote “Letters to Juniper” in less time than it took me to write my other novels. It took about six months to write it. Usually I spend a couple months researching and outlining my books. But in this case, the story came to me so quickly I had to do the research as I wrote it. Then I spent another two months editing and revising. Revision is my favorite part of the process because I have a story to work with instead of a blank page.

During the revision process I use this list of questions to improve my story:
 1) Can you summarize the story in a sentence or two?
 2) Have you checked spelling, grammar and formatting?
 3) Does your main character have flaws? Is she/he someone readers will be interested in?
 4) Does the beginning draw the reader in?
 5) Did your main character change throughout the story?
 6) Have you chosen the best point of view?
 7) Does your dialogue move the story forward, as in no idle conversations? Does everyone sound alike? Or can readers tell who’s talking without dialogue tags?
 8) Is there tension in this story?
 9) Is there unanswered conflict until the end?
10) Is every character necessary to this story?
11) Does each chapter offer information that moves the story forward?
12) Does every scene?
13) Does the story end where it’s supposed to?
14) Do you like this story?

Is the story and/or characters based on anything/anyone in your real life?
“Letters to Juniper” isn’t based on anything or anyone in my own life. However during the 90s, I was as horrified as everyone else at news stories about the Montana Freemen, Ruby Ridge, and the Waco Siege. In all three cases, children were living inside the compounds during the standoff. I asked the question: “What would it be like to be a child, yet old enough to be aware of what was happening?” The skeleton for the story is based on the events at Ruby Ridge in 1992, which involved a standoff between federal agents and the Randy Weaver family at their home in northern Idaho.

How much say did you have in the cover of this book?  What is the process for creating a cover (my students are always curious about this!)
I trust the cover design to my publisher, although I do have final approval and I’m allowed to make changes. Big publishers with big budgets use artists and cover designers and original design and artwork. I work with a very small publisher who uses stock photos and Photoshop to create eye-catching covers that pop. By “pop” I mean in today’s digital world the cover needs to stand out not only in full color paperback but even when it shows up as a tiny thumbnail image in black-&-white on an ereader screen.

Now something not related to your book or writing!  What kind of student were you?  Was English your favorite subject in school and did you always write?
When I was in first grade, every morning our teacher, Miss Knight helped the class compose a “Today” story, which she wrote on the blackboard. Then we had to copy it on blue-lined manuscript paper. Through that daily exercise I grew to love writing and learned how to tell a story. I still write my first drafts in long hand, only now I use yellow legal pads. In school I enjoyed English and History equally and I was definitely a good student. Actually I was kind of a nerd with glasses and my nose always stuck in a book. But it was a good background for a writer because I spend a lot of time reading and a lot of time doing research.

And because it’s the owl my standard question always is: WHOOO do you admire when it comes to writing? Whoooo are your favorite authors now and when you were growing up?
L’Engle. She was a great writer and a great teacher. She taught me how to write fiction in two weeks. I have been practicing ever since.

As a child my favorite authors were Madeleine L’Engle, Beverly Cleary, Albert Payson Terhune, Jack London, and Phyllis Whitney.  As an adult, and probably because I am also a writer, my favorites have changed over the years. These days in young adult authors I also admire the works of M.T. Anderson, Cynthia Voight, Louis Sachar, S.E. Hinton, Philip Pullman, and Gary Paulsen, to name a few. For me favorite authors tend to be about what I’m into at the time. So currently I like Natalie Collins for her edgy mysteries that give readers a glimpse behind the veil of Mormon life – and for her friendship. I like Bruce Cameron and Sara Gruen’s amazing animal stories. And because I am currently writing a dogoir – a memoir about a dog – I have been reading lots of nonfiction dog stories. My favorite so far is Jon Katz because he really delves into understanding animal behavior.

 Thank you Peggy! And please stay tuned because later today my review for Letters to Juniper will be posted! 
And if you want to learn more about Peggy check out her website 
and follow her on Twitter.

Tween Tuesday was started by GreenBeanTeenQueen!

Cover Crush: Oddity

I soooo love book covers. Honestly I’ve been known to drag my sister through the bookstore to show her a cover I like or hunt down certain students to show them.  It really is like I have a crush.  So once a week I like to highlight these covers.
This week I’m crushing on:

Oddity by Linda Pohring
Oh wow!  Wow! Wow! Wow! Normally I crush on covers that are “pretty”.  This one isn’t.  It doesn’t have the girl with the flowing dress or the striking eyes.  No this is more raw.  That girl just jumps off the page on me.  What is she going through?? Why is she without clothes? I want to get to know her and her story. 
Wouldn’t you be pulled towards it if you saw it on the shelf?

A New Poll: IMM Do You Want an IMM Post?

Hey all another quick poll for you.  I stopped doing IMM posts awhile back, but I’m curious.  Would you like an IMM post from me?  Do you like them because it give you a fill for what I read and like so hence what the focus of my blog is?  Do you not really care about IMM posts and skip them?  Just your thoughts please.  
And please please please I’m not bashing in any way the IMM posts if this even hints at it! I stopped doing them because they took time!  But I’m wondering if it’s something my readers would like to see.
If you could take the  poll on the right that would rock!
Thanks all!!!!!

For the Guys – I Am Number Four Series

On Friday’s I like to highlight great books for boys.  I see tons of YA/MG books for girls, so I think it’s important to showcase books for boys too!

Today it’s the I Am Number Four series.  I know that most of you know of I Am Number Four especially since it was made into a movie, but if you don’t here’s the summary:

In the beginning they were a group of nine. Nine aliens who left their home planet of Lorien when it fell under attack by the evil Mogadorian. Nine aliens who scattered on Earth. Nine aliens who look like ordinary teenagers living ordinary lives, but who have extraordinary, paranormal skills. Nine aliens who might be sitting next to you now. 
The Nine had to separate and go into hiding. The Mogadorian caught Number One in Malaysia, Number Two in England, and Number Three in Kenya. All of them were killed. John Smith, of Paradise, Ohio, is Number Four. He knows that he is next. 
I Am Number Four is the thrilling launch of a series about an exceptional group of teens as they struggle to outrun their past, discover their future—and live a normal life on Earth. 

I had a bunch of boys (yes and girls) read this book and really enjoy it.  The fact they made it into a movie really really helped!  What? You didn’t see the trailer for the movie.  Here is it 🙂

What I always like with boys’ books is when they are part of a series.  I Am Number Four is!  Coming in Aug 23rd is the sequel:
 The Power of Six!!!!

Here’s the summary for that one!

 I’ve seen him on the news. Followed the stories about what happened in Ohio. John Smith, out there, on the run. To the world, he’s a mystery. But to me . . . he’s one of us. 
Nine of us came here, but sometimes I wonder if time has changed us—if we all still believe in our mission. How can I know? There are six of us left. We’re hiding, blending in, avoiding contact with one another . . . but our Legacies are developing, and soon we’ll be equipped to fight. Is John Number Four, and is his appearance the sign I’ve been waiting for? And what about Number Five and Six? Could one of them be the raven-haired girl with the stormy eyes from my dreams? The girl with powers that are beyond anything I could ever imagine? The girl who may be strong enough to bring the six of us together? 

 Now if that wasn’t enough, they’ve also released a novella!
 It’s titled: I Am Number Four: The Lost Files: Six’s Legacy. 

It’s available now exclusively as an ebook! 

Number Six—when John meets her in I Am Number Four she’s strong, powerful, and ready to fight. But who is she? Where has she been living? How has she been training? When did she develop her legacies? And how does she know so much about the Mogadorians?In I Am Number Four: The Lost Files: Six’s Legacy, discover the story behind Six. Before Paradise, Ohio, before John Smith, Six was traveling through West Texas with her CÊpan, Katarina. What happened there would change Six forever….

So glad there is this series for boys.  I know the boys I teach were interested in I Am Number Four because the main character is a boy – and a seemingly strong confident boy.  And they could tell it was going to be full of action, and they liked that.  I’m hoping The Power of Six delivers as well!

Interview with Taylor Morris and GIVEAWAY

Yesterday I was able to review the tween book BFF Break up by Taylor Morris.  A good book about that dreaded fear of losing your BFF.  Today I get the pleasure of sharing her answers to some questions I was able to ask.  Make sure to look below the interview for a two SIGNED book giveaway!

Welcome Taylor Morris to The O.W.L.!!

For BFF Breakup – what part/character/event are you most excited/proud about?
In BFF BREAKUP, I’m proud of how I handled the actual fight that led to Brooke and Madeline’s breakup. I wanted to write something that the reader could empathize with from both sides. I didn’t want there to be a hero and a villain. Or even so, perhaps one reader was on Brooke’s side and another was on Madeline’s. I just didn’t want it to be obvious which character was at fault because in the end they both were, in their own ways.

Tell about your writing process. How long did it take you to write BFF Breakup from idea to finish? Please tell about revision is you can!
I started thinking about BFF BREAKUP months before I began writing, which is usually the case. I start with an initial idea—like, How about a story about best friends who get in a huge fight and break up?—and then start thinking about who the characters are, who their friends and family are, what lead them to the fight, what exactly the fight was about, what happens afterward, etc. All that plotting and planning will hopefully make for a better book and an easier write. I thought about BFF BREAKUP for about nine months before I started writing it, and then it took about three months to write. That’s a pretty short writing time but I was on a steep deadline with a series I was about to begin.

Is the story and/or characters based on anything/anyone in your real life?
Sadly, yes. My best friend and I had into a huge, ginormous, awful fight that had us not speaking for three years. I assumed we would never talk again. In the meantime, an acquaintance friend of mine got angry at me for something I did and sort of wrote me off and I started to think, What is it about me and girlfriends? Am I a bad friend? Or do I choose bad friends? I looked back on all my friendships and really started to think about it. Then, my best friend and I started talking again—very slowly and tentatively—and I thought that the story of best friends was so simple and yet complex, not to mention relatable that it would be a good story to tell. BFF BREAKUP is not the story of me and my friend, although I can certainly understand the emotions my characters, Brooke and Madeline, experience.

I really think this is something most girls and women can relate to!

Why MG instead of any other grade level?
I have sharp memories from that time in my life so I started from there. When I wrote my first novel, CLASS FAVORITE, I had the main character as 16 but my agent felt like she acted a bit young and asked if I’d consider changing her to 13. And like that, I became a middle grade writer and have had five novels published with more on the way. I’ve written two other books for young adults—one that will never see the light of day, and another that I will edit and resubmit to agents. I’d like to have a hardcover YA book but beyond that, I love writing for and about teenagers and have no plans to stop writing middle grade books. I have no desire to write for adults. 

Ok once the story was done – How much say did you have in the cover of this book? What is the process for creating a cover (my students are always curious about this!)

Absolutely zero say whatsoever. They did email me and ask me what I thought about it but I’m pretty sure it was just a courtesy. For my series, Hello, Gorgeous!, I didn’t even see the cover until it was finalized. Generally speaking, unless you’re some big-selling, fancy author you usually don’t have much say in your book cover. Sometimes the editor will ask if you have an idea for a concept before they begin designing and they might take that into consideration. But the ultimate decision is with the publisher’s art and marketing departments. That’s their job and their strength. Leave the writing to me. (For more on covers, got to Melissa Walker’s blog for Cover Stories where she has authors talk about their experiences with this.)

Now for a nonwriting question that my students are always curious about- What kind of student were you? Was English your favorite subject in school and did you always write?
I was a completely average student! Truly, there was nothing special or outstanding about me. I made average grades, had an average amount of friends, was of average popularity. I did some writing when I was in elementary school (including a 12 page handwritten novel called Love At First Sight, starring two of my classmates) but after that I didn’t do much writing until college. English was definitely my favorite subject—I always liked stories but also I always got As so of course I liked it!

And because it’s the owl my standard question always is: WHOOO do you admire when it comes to writing? Whoooo are your favorite authors now and when you were growing up?
I read shockingly little growing up. Some Judy Blume in elementary school. In junior high I read the Flowers in the Attic series and for some reason, Drew Barrymore’s autobiography Little Girl Lost. By high school I was reading Gone With the Wind. Other than that, it’s strange to say I wasn’t much of a reader. I loved reading, but I never knew what books to buy or get at the library.

As for authors from today who I admire, I love Maureen Johnson’s wit and Meg Cabot’s humor. Barbara Dee’s middle grade books are adorable and full of heart. The Harry Potter series will always be in my top five—what an incredible writer and storyteller J.K. Rowling is!

Thanks for hanging out with us today!

Now for the giveaway.  
Taylor Morris has provide the first two books in the Hello Gorgeous series: Blowout and Foiled
Now that she’s had her thirteenth birthday, Mickey’s finally old enough to work at her mother’s super glam hair salon-Hello, Gorgeous! And true to the old cliche about people confiding in their hair stylists, Mickey starts getting an earful right off the bat. Customers love talking to her because she’s so empathetic, but what happens when she starts getting overly involved in their dramas?

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Book Review: BFF Breakup by Taylor Morris

Title: BFF Breakup
Author: Taylor Morris
Publisher:  Aladdin Mix


Brooke and Madeline have been best friends since they first met. And now they’re going to be best friends in high school, then go to the same college where they’ll be roommates, date—and marry—boys who are also best friends. Finally they’ll live next door to each other and go on family vacations together. Nothing could possibly change that, right? 

Well not so fast. A new school year brings new challenges, and suddenly Brooke and Madeline’s friendship isn’t looking so solid. When the cracks in the relationship become chasms, is there anything worth salvaging at all? 

Taylor Morris has written a laugh out loud funny, touching, novel about what happens when “Best Friends Forever” becomes “Best Friends No More.”


How many of us have gotten into fights with out best friends?  Fights so bad you aren’t sure that you’ll ever be friends again?  I know I have! And then throw into the mix a group of new friends seemingly taking your best friend away.  Isn’t that a lot of tween girls’ fear?  Well that’s what BFF Breakup is all about.  Having a best friend and losing her.  It’s such a realistic premise that many girls will be interested just because it’s something they can so completely relate to.  What’s great is that the story goes beyond just an interesting premise.  The story itself is well written, true to the age of the character and reader and it doesn’t sugar coat going through something like this.

I’ve said it before, but it needs to be said again.  One thing that I find wrong with some middle grade (tween) books I read is the voice of the characters.  They don’t sound like kids I see and hear everyday at school.  This wasn’t really an issue with Brooke and Madeline.  Their reactions (the cute boy you like sitting next to you), their language (deciding the word disco would  mean whatever you wanted it to) were spot on.  But what was more completely tween was how they reacted during the fight.  Avoiding each other, refusing to look at each other, blurting out things they have no clue where it came from, saying bad things about the other to new friends because of anger.  It was all there.  I think the most realistic was when Madeline sent Brooke and apology email thinking it was worded just perfect not at all realizing how it might sound to Brooke.  I’ve heard apologies like that!  Their reactions rang true to me.  Kids are really are really turned off by books that don’t represent them accurately.  I don’t think that would happen with this book.

A secondary story is Madeline’s parents separating.  I think this too is a situation that some tweens could relate to.  And I did believe Madeline’s reaction to it.  She was angry and confused which all seemed natural.  I did think the parents handled it a little dis-functionally, kind’ve letting the kids deal with in on their own, but it wasn’t bad enough to really bother me.  Having Madeline going through this crisis added another layer to the problems between her and Brooke.  Not only were they growing and changing, but now they had to figure out how to handle a crises with one of them.  It also set up nicely why Madeline thought her new friend Susanna was ‘better” than Brooke.  And it helped show some of Brooke’s naivety.  I wondered if this story line was really necessary – could it have just focused on the first – but I realized it was really needed.  It pushed along a lot of what happened and fueled the emotions both girls were feeling.

There were a few scenes that I did have a bit of a hard time believing.  They mostly involved Brooke and a boy named Christopher.  Christopher would be seen as a bit odd by most kids this age (he wears ties to school).  Brooke though thinks he’s cool.  Some of the scenes where she encourages his personality were a little harder for me to buy into just because I know how kids this age can have a hard time encouraging individuality because it could put the spotlight on them in a wrong way.  It know it was to help encourage being ok with who you are and letting others be who they are, but I also know the struggle with this at 7th grade. This wasn’t a huge deal, but it was the one point I wasn’t completely sure of.

I won’t say what happens in the end, but I was very pleased with how it was handled.  It wasn’t all perfection and sunshine and rainbows.  It was more realistic and I liked that.  I think a young reader would take more away from the book because it didn’t try to snowball them into believing something they know would be somewhat unrealistic.  Honesty with this age goes a long way and this book was honest.

Final Thought:  Good real look at losing your BFF
Best stick-with-you image:  When Madeline turns really mean to Brooke. Ouch!
Best for readers who: Have every had a fight with their BFF
Best for ages: 9-12

For the Boys?  Nope.  Pretty much a girl topic.

Stay tuned because tomorrow I have an interview with the author and a giveaway!!!

Cover Crush: Revolution NEW Cover

I soooo love book covers. Honestly I’ve been known to drag my sister through the bookstore to show her a cover I like or hunt down certain students to show them.  It really is like I have a crush.  So once a week I like to highlight these covers.
This week I’m crushing on:

Revolution by Jennifery Donnelly
The new (?) paperback cover
When I saw this cover for Revolution I stopped me in my tracks!  There is just something about it that makes me stare.  There isn’t a lot her, but somehow it just conveys emotion – a just type of sadness or longing or something.  Then there’s that key.  Why is it there???? Why does it seem so important??  Such a simple cover that totally grabs me.  I was never real fond of the hardcover version, and to be honest I know it turned off some of my 7th grade readers.  This one I think will interest them much more.  
Well done!

Weekend Question: Why Do You Read and Owl of the Week

I’ve been looking for something simple to do on the weekends, and after reading a post that really hit home about showing your followers who you are and letting YOU shine through on your blog, I thought this would be a great addition to my week.  What is this?  It’s the Weekend Question hosted by Cleverly Inked.  
Each weekend she poses a question, and we share the answer with our readers.  It’s a great way to for us bloggers to get to know a bit more about each other.  
Hope you like it, and if you want to play along, visit Cleverly Inked.
This weekend’s Question:

With so many hobbies and tons of activities the can easily fill more then one life time, why do you read?

You know I’ve thought about that question a lot, and sometimes that answer is “Why do I breathe?”.  For me reading has always been as important, as part of my life, as natural as breathing.  I’ve spent time reading, large amounts of time, for as long as I can remember.  I was THAT girl in high school that always had a book with me.  That was excited about having reading days in English.  It’s just a part of me. 

But I guess there is more of an answer than that.  I read because I love getting caught up in the story and lives of the characters. I read because it can take me places I’ll never go.  I read because it teaches me.  I read because sometimes it makes me feel less alone in what I’m going through.  It just has always been a comfort to me in some way – in a way I can’t fully put into words.  But you know how sometimes when you’re feeling out-of-sorts or sad or lonely, so you curl up in a blanket to feel safe, or eat that food that makes you feel like you’re home again – that’s what reading feels like to me.  Always has.

Ok hope that wasn’t too touchy-feelly 🙂  So what about you?


And, um, I thought I’d sneak in another old favorite of mine – the Owl of the Week!  Don’t you all miss it???? Ok here he is:

This adorable Owl Slippers!!!! Check out the Etsy store that sells them,The Little Pea Shoppe.    

Have a great weekend!!!!!!!!!