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Friday, October 30, 2015

Put Me In The Story's Celebrating Personalized Peanuts Books Blog Tour {review & giveaway}


I'm so excited to be a part of Put Me In The Story's Celebrating Personalized Peanuts Books Blog Tour! Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, and the rest of the Peanuts gang are ready to help the little readers in your life learn their ABCs and 123s...


Hurry, friend! Your Peanuts pals have made a mess of the letters of the alphabet and they need your help to get them back in order. Go on an alphabet adventure with the Peanuts gang as they hop from A to Z and teach your little one just how fun learning can be! Find fun little phrases and colorful letters on each page to help your child recognize every letter of the alphabet. Delight your little reader with their first Peanuts ABC book and begin a lifelong alphabet journey. Practicing the alphabet has never been this fun!

Personalize this story with a name, cute photo and a dedication message. Plus, discover a personalized alphabet poster at the end of the book!

Come along for some counting fun! Your favorite Peanuts pals are ready to play and teach a new friend to count along the way! Show your silly Peanuts friends how to keep their numbers in order, then rhyme from 1 to 10 to start your counting adventure. You will play hide and seek, splash at the beach, visit the library and find a pumpkin patch. Through every adventure, your smiling friends are counting on you to learn something new. Join this bright bunch and jump into the fun. Discover lessons that last a lifetime with your first Peanuts 1-2-3 book!

Personalize this story with a name, cute photo, and a dedication message. You can also include a very important number–your child’s age! Plus, discover a personalized 1-2-3 poster at the end of the book.

*I received a copy of each book in exchange for my honest review

I was able to personalize a copy of both books above for my two year old niece, to create Aeicha's First Peanuts ABC and Aeicha's First Peanuts 123, and both Little A and I LOVE them!

Both books feature fun, lyrical, and accessible text and bright, amusing illustrations that, when combined, create such an engaging, educational, and entertaining reading experience for little ones. Since reading these to my niece, she has been reciting her ABCs and counting everything! All your favorite endearing Peanuts characters are featured throughout both books, being their classic lovable and humorous selves. The wonderful illustrations really capture each character's personality and do an awesome job of introducing newbies to the unforgettable world of Peanuts.

I've reviewed many different types of personalized books and the products from Put Me In The Story continue to impress me and be some of my absolute faves! From your child's name featured on the front cover to their name being sprinkled throughout the story and illustrations in fun ways, their picture displayed both in the beginning of the books and on their very own pull out posters, and the gift giver's ability to personalize the dedication, these books will always feel unique and super special for each little reader. 

Those looking to introduce their children to the Peanuts world or simply looking for a creative, enjoyable way to teach the ABCs and 123s, won't find a better tool than these fantastic personalized books!

MY RATING (for both books)
5/5 yummy cupcakes

Use code SNOOPY to receive $10 OFF on personalized Peanuts books.
will both be discounted to $19.99. Code valid 10/25-10/31

Connect with Put Me In The Story:

Win a $30 Movie Gift Card so you & your family can see The Peanuts Movie!
Winner will be notified on 11/2
(this is a tour wide giveaway and is not run by word spelunking)

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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Interview and Giveaway: Dorothy A. Winsor, author of Finders Keepers


I'm thrilled to have Dorothy A. Winsor stopping by today to chat about her exciting new middle-grade, 
Finders Keepers...

Finders Keepers
by Dorothy A. Winsor
September 12, 2015
Zharmae Press

Twelve-year-old Cade is lucky—or cursed—enough to be a Finder, someone who senses the presence of precious heart stones.  When Mum, who's also a Finder, is seized to work in the hellish heart stone mines, Cade's older brother wants him out of the path of anyone who might spot his "talent" and send him too to the mines.  But first, they have to search the city to find and free Mum.

Unfortunately odd things are happening in the city as it approaches its big New Year celebration, when the calendar will turn to the year 4000.  The old prophets say that on New Year's Eve, the world will descend into fire, earthquake, and plague, with the worst of it in the city, the center of the world.

Cade hides his talent, searches for Mum, and dodges a girl thief, who tells him that disaster can be averted if a dozen heart stones are placed in the temple at the city's center.  Won't Cade to help her find and steal them from miners' houses?  Danger presses from all sides—miners, the Watch, fever, fire, and possibly the thief herself.  And where, oh where, is Mum?




What three words best describe your book, Finders Keepers?

Intense. Quirky. Whole-hearted.

Can you give us your best one sentence pitch to convince readers, especially reluctant readers, to give Finders Keepers a try?

Can I give you a 140-character twitter pitch instead?

Boy senses presence of heart stones. Girl recruits him to steal some. World ends at New Year if they fail. Boy also rescues mother. Tricky.

Grab a copy of Finders Keeper and answer the following:

favorite chapter? #13: For Family (Cade's teenaged brother is sick enough to die.)

favorite page? #16. (Cade's mother is being taken by the City Watch.)

favorite setting? A thief gang's headquarters in the sewers

flip to a random page and give us a 1-2 sentences teaser: "We stopped while Shan ran her gaze over walls, windows, roof, everything. If she looked at my house like that, I'd expect to come home to find even the cobwebs missing."

What inspired Finders Keepers? How did the story come to be?

Believe it or not, I heard a voice in my head saying, "I'm not a thief. Not really. The thing I take doesn't belong to the people I take it from. Of course, it doesn't belong to the people I take it for either."

Can you tell us a bit about your hero, Cade? What makes him special and interesting?

Cade is my favorite kind of character to write about. He's a kid with good intentions and inexperienced judgment, which means he can get into trouble, especially since he has no adult to turn to. For a writer, no trouble means no story. He's small for his age, but he's tougher than he looks, which I'd like to think could be true of a lot of us.

In Finders Keepers, Finders sense heart stones...if you could be a real-life Finder, what would you always want to be able to find?

The people I love.

As a writer of middle-grade fiction, why do you think MG literature is so important and popular?

Kids need stories. They need to be entertained, yes. But more than that, they need stories that help them try out various feelings, actions, and roles in life. They rehearse being the people they want to become. There's some evidence that reading fiction builds empathy. That wouldn't surprise me at all.

What is the BEST thing about being an author?

I never get lonely. I always have my characters to talk to.

Fill in the blanks:
I’m really awesome at making brownies. Seriously. Friends beg me to make them.

I’m really embarrassed to admit that I don't enjoy most music. Apparently, it's a recognized brain condition, called anhedonia, that affects about 2% of the population. Still, it makes me feel weird.

The last great book I read was Stephen King's Misery. Believe it or not, I'd never read this before, and I was so struck not just by the horrifying plot but by what he has to say about writing.

If you were to bake a cupcake inspired by Finders Keepers, what would it look and taste like, and what would you call it?

It would have to be chocolate because that's the only flavor worth eating. It would have a big candy heart buried in the middle because Cade is searching for heart stones. The top would have candy rats prancing all over the frosting to show what Cade has to battle his way through. It would be called The Trickster's Treat.

Thank you so much for stopping by, Dorothy!


Dorothy A. Winsor is originally from Detroit but moved to Iowa in 1995. She still blinks when she sees a cornfield outside her living room window. For about a dozen years, she taught technical writing at Iowa State University and served as the editor of the Journal of Business and Technical Communication. Before that, she taught for ten years at GMI Engineering & Management Institute (now Kettering). She's won six national awards for outstanding research on the communication practices of engineers. She lives with her husband, who engineers tractors, and has one son, the person who first introduced her to the pleasure of reading fantasy. Finders Keepers is her first novel.
Win a copy of Finders Keepers!
Dorothy has generously offered up one paperback or ebook copy of her book.
DETAILS
-open INT
-winner can choose paperback or ebook 
(paperback is US only,  ebook is open to anyone)
-ends 11/7
please read all rules below rafflecopter

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Unless otherwise stated, the policies and rules for each giveaway are as follows:
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN.  Open only to legal residents of the 50 United States and Washington D.C. who are 13 years old or older as of date of entry.
To enter, fill out the appropriate Rafflecopter form associated with each giveaway.
The start and end dates for each giveaway will be clearly stated and followed.
The specified amount of winners shall be selected in a random drawing.
Winners will be notified by email and must claim their prize within 48 hours. If a winner does not respond within 48 hours, then a new winner will be chosen.
Word Spelunking is not responsible for lost, damaged, or stolen prizes in the mail. Once a prize is dropped off at the post office, it is no longer my responsibility and I will not compensate in anyway for prizes not delivered because of the USPS.
If a third-party (author, publisher, etc) is shipping a prize, once I provide the winner(s)' mailing information to them, the prize is no longer my responsibility. I will forward your mailing info to the proper people within 48 hours after getting it from you. If you have not received your prize from an author or publisher within 8 weeks, it is your responsibility to contact them further.
By participating in any giveaway, you agree to adhere to these rules. Any breaking of these rules by entrants will disqualify them from the giveaway and their entries will be deleted.

Friday, October 23, 2015

The Toymaker's Apprentice Blog Tour {guest post and giveaway}


I'm so excited to have The Toymaker's Apprentice Blog Tour stopping by today with a wonderful guest post by Sherri L. Smith and a giveaway...


The Toymaker's Apprentice
by Sherri L. Smith
Oct. 13, 2015
Putnam
A gorgeously imagined Nutcracker retelling from award-winning author making her middle-grade debut 
Stefan Drosselmeyer is a reluctant apprentice to his toymaker father until the day his world is turned upside down. His father is kidnapped and Stefan is enlisted by his mysterious cousin, Christian Drosselmeyer, to find a mythical nut to save a princess who has been turned into a wooden doll. Embarking on a wild adventure through Germany, Stefan must save Boldavia’s princess and his own father from the fanatical Mouse Queen and her seven-headed Mouse Prince, both of whom have sworn to destroy the Drosselmeyer family.   
Based on the original inspiration for the Nutcracker ballet, Sherri L. Smith brings the Nutcracker Prince to life in this fascinating journey into a world of toymaking, magical curses, clockmaking guilds, talking mice and erudite squirrels.  



PRAISE

“An absorbing tale of adventure, invention, family loyalty, and sly humor. . . . Bursting with unforgettable characters.” - School Library Journal, starred review

“Men and mice engage in mortal conflict in this multilayered retelling . . . . A fast-paced adventure.” - Kirkus Reviews

“An inventive fantasy.” – Booklist

What was the journey to publication like for you and your book?

When I was around the age of 9, my mother signed my brother and I up for piano lessons.  I loved music, I loved to sing, so it made sense.  But I could not stand piano.  Maybe it was being forced to sit still on that little bench for the half-hour lessons.  Or my 15 whole minutes of daily practice—each second felt like torture!  Maybe it was the notes, which looked suspiciously like a strange math problem.  Or maybe it was my teacher.  I don’t remember the poor lady’s name, but I recall she had a personality that was more forté than pianissimo.  
My brother and I shared an hour at the piano teacher’s house.  As the oldest, he would go first while I sat behind him on the sofa, watching her point and correct and explain.  She had a house full of insane cats who would race around the tops of the bookcases while we played.  And she had a stack of books and magazines wedged between the sofa and the wall. I used to stick my hand into that little library and see what I could find.  One day, it was The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by E.T.A. Hoffman.  (I could be wrong, but I think it was the Maurice Sendak version.)
I loved it.  
I looked forward to lessons so I could read for half an hour while my poor brother ran interference with the teacher.  Then I’d sit at the keyboard playing “Leaping Leprechauns” (which had a different name, but was so christened for my St. Pat’s Day birthday), and I would day dream about magician-like godfathers, creepy wooden princesses, creepier mice and a wonderful girl and her nutcracker.  It was then that the spark for The Toymaker’s Apprentice was born.
The road to publication for The Toymaker’s Apprentice was a long one in more ways than one.  The idea for the actual book came as to me as an image—an island kingdom with caves carved out of it to make a giant advent calendar.  That was over ten years ago, and I thought it the book would be my second novel.  But I was new to the book world and still getting my novel-writing legs under me.  Over the years, the story evolved.  The main character changed from the older Christian Drosselmeyer to his younger cousin, Stefan.  The tone changed from whimsical and very Baron Von Munchausen-like, to super serious, to silly, and back again until it settled somewhere on the border of serious whimsy.  Even the title changed.  Originally, I wanted to call it Drosselmeyer—I still love saying that name!  Not every middle grader in the world would agree, though.
As a new writer, I was also trying to learn the best ways to gather my story.  A writing friend suggested I organize my thoughts in a binder.  She helped me create one with tabs for timelines, real historical incidents of the period, costumes, maps, characters, places and more.  It’s huge and full to the brim with scribbled notes and Xeroxes.  It was a great exercise but, as I learned, not at all the way I like to write.  I prefer an outline over a manual, and when it comes to research, I absorb it and let simmer in the imagination for a while.  It comes out onto the page when and where it belongs.
I usually write for older teens so vocabulary was something I had to pay special attention to, and finding the right voice for my main character, Stefan.  While I’ve written from the male point of view before, I found it challenging to write a younger boy character.  In early drafts he felt way too young, or not very smart for his age.  It was the brilliant Lisa Yee who pointed out my problem—too much talking, not enough doing.  I went home, cut Stefan’s dialogue (and inner monologue) by a third, and everywhere I could have him act instead of speak, I did it.  Suddenly I had a real boy on my hands, one on the cusp of adulthood, but not quite yet ready to make the leap.  And that’s where the story happens.  On the horizon of growing up, in the borderlands of Serious and Whimsy.  What a wonderful place to start.

Sherri L. Smith was born in Chicago, Illinois and spent most of her childhood reading books. She currently lives in Los Angeles, where she has worked in movies, animation, comic books and construction. Sherri’s first book, Lucy the Giant, was an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults in 2003. Sherri’s novel, Sparrow, was chosen as a National Council for the Social Studies/Children’s Book Council Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People. Upon the release of Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet in February 2008, Sherri was featured as a spotlight author for The Brown Bookshelf’s Black History Month celebration, 28 Days Later. Flygirl, an historical YA novel set during World War II, is her fourth novel. It won the California Book Award Gold Medal, was a YALSA Best Book for Young Adults, and has received fourteen State Award nominations. Her latest novel,Orleans, is a cli-fi futuristic novel that garnered several starred reviews and was a 2014 CBC Best Book of the Year.


Win a copy of 
The Toymaker's Apprentice!
Penguin has generously offered one new book for one winner.
DETAILS
-US only
-ends 10/31
please read all rules below
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Unless otherwise stated, the policies and rules for each giveaway are as follows:
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN.  Open only to legal residents of the 50 United States and Washington D.C. who are 13 years old or older as of date of entry.
To enter, fill out the appropriate Rafflecopter form associated with each giveaway.
The start and end dates for each giveaway will be clearly stated and followed.
The specified amount of winners shall be selected in a random drawing.
Winners will be notified by email and must claim their prize within 48 hours. If a winner does not respond within 48 hours, then a new winner will be chosen.
Word Spelunking is not responsible for lost, damaged, or stolen prizes in the mail. Once a prize is dropped off at the post office, it is no longer my responsibility and I will not compensate in anyway for prizes not delivered because of the USPS.
If a third-party (author, publisher, etc) is shipping a prize, once I provide the winner(s)' mailing information to them, the prize is no longer my responsibility. I will forward your mailing info to the proper people within 48 hours after getting it from you. If you have not received your prize from an author or publisher within 8 weeks, it is your responsibility to contact them further.
By participating in any giveaway, you agree to adhere to these rules. Any breaking of these rules by entrants will disqualify them from the giveaway and their entries will be deleted.


Schedule:
The Book Smugglers – guest post – 10/12
Novel Novice – interview – 10/13
Owl for YA – guest post – 10/14
The Compulsive Reader – 25 Random Things - 10/15
Teen Librarian Toolbox – review -  10/16
Green Bean Teen Queen – guest post – 10/19
Kid Lit Frenzy – interview – 10/20
Great Imaginations – review – 10/21
The Children’s Book Review – top 5 list – 10/22
Word Spelunking – guest post – 10/23

Thursday, October 22, 2015

We Are All Made Of Molecules Blog Tour {guest post and giveaway}


I'm thrilled to have the We Are All Made Of  Molecules Blog Tour stopping by today with a great guest post and giveaway...

We Are All Made Of Molecules
by Susin Nielsen
May 12, 2015
Penguin Random House
Thirteen-year-old Stewart is academically brilliant but socially clueless. 

Fourteen-year-old Ashley is the undisputed “It” girl in her class, but her grades stink.

Their worlds are about to collide when Stewart and his dad move in with Ashley and her mom. Stewart is trying to be 89.9 percent happy about it, but Ashley is 110 percent horrified. She already has to hide the real reason her dad moved out; “Spewart” could further threaten her position at the top of the social ladder.
They are complete opposites. And yet, they have one thing in common: they—like everyone else—are made of molecules. 



Praise 
“This savvy, insightful take on the modern family makes for nearly nonstop laughs.”
Kirkus Reviews starred review 

“There’s so much to love about this story . . . but what grabbed me the most is the humor.” —Christopher Paul Curtis, winner of the Newbery Medal


“Nielsen has expertly created two characters with strong personalities, each of whom is loveable and endearing in their own unique ways.”—VOYA


Can you tell us who are your top ten middle grade/YA characters, and why?

With pleasure! I’ll save my top three for last, although really the first seven could go in any order.

10) Junior from “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie.  
Part fiction, part memoir, this story of Native American Junior is such a powerful book. Junior is an incredible character, resilient even in the face of poverty, racism and injustice. Alexie deftly uses humor to help make all the b.s. Junior faces, infinitely readable.

9) Damien from “Millions” by Frank Cotrell Boyce.

I love this book (it was a good movie too, directed by Danny Boyle). Damian is a delight. Another first-person narrative (a lot of my choices, it dawns on me, are in first-person, which is probably not all that surprising since my own books have used first-person narrative). Damian interprets the adult world around him in a hilarious, authentically kid-like way. I wanted to adopt him.

8) Margaret from “Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret,” by Judy Blume.

A classic, which I read when I was about Margaret’s age. This book, and Margaret herself, meant so much to me. I had to make a big move in my life; so did Margaret. And as I was going through puberty, buying my first bra, getting my period, getting more interested in boys – so was Margaret. I feel deeply indebted to Judy Blume and her heroine for making me realize “I am not alone.”

7) Adam from Teresa Toten’s “The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B”

Teresa is a fellow Canadian, and her Adam is a wonderful, fully realized young man who has OCD. He made me love him and feel for him and walk in his shoes, and feel glad for his small triumphs.

6) Caden from “Challenger Deep” by Neal Shusterman.

I had the real pleasure of meeting Neal Shusterman recently when we were both on a School Library Journal panel at their leadership summit in Seattle. I was unfamiliar with his work, but heard his new novel was longlisted for the National Book Award. Now that I’ve read it, I can see why (and it’s since been shortlisted). Caden is a deeply empathetic character, dealing with mental illness, and we see Caden in both the “real world” and when he’s in the throes of his illness. A powerful, moving read.

5) Scout from “To Kill A Mockinbird” by Harper Lee.

No explanation necessary.

4) Adrian from “The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Age 13 ¾” by Sue Townsend.

Oh how I adored this book when I read it many years ago. I believe this was the first YA novel I ever read that was told in first person narrative. It clearly burrowed deep in my mind, and influenced my own writing when I finally sat down to write my own novels. Adrian’s misadventures are so funny, and so painfully real.

3) Alice from Susan Juby’s “Alice, I Think.”

Juby is another fellow Canadian, and one of the funniest, most unique voices I know. Discovering Alice was like a really pleasant wallop to my funny bone. I beg anyone who loves YA to seek out this book. Also in diary format like “Adrian Mole,” Alice is deliciously wrong-headed, self-centered, but super-sympathetic and real. I really can’t say enough about Alice, except that you have to read it to believe it.

2) Bud from Christopher Paul Curtis’s “Bud, Not Buddy.”

Bud changed my life. I couldn’t believe how adeptly Christopher Paul Curtis managed to tell what is really an incredibly heartbreaking story, but through the eyes of Bud, an African American boy who’s lost his mom. Set in the Great Depression, CPC uses first-person narrative, and that allows the story to be filled with humor thanks to Bud’s perspective on things. I wanted to wrap my arms around Bud and never let go. This book encouraged me to try my hand at my first YA novel, “Word Nerd,” which is also rather sad in spots but leavened with humor thanks to a first-person narrative.

And now, drumroll please, for #1 …

1) Harriet from “Harriet the Spy,” by Louise Fitzhugh.

I read this book when I was eleven. Then I re-read it last year, the 50th anniversary edition. I was blown away at just how much Harriet, and Louise Fitzhugh, had influenced my own writing without my being aware of it. Harriet had clearly lived on in me all those years! She broke new ground. Harriet is the antithesis of a girly-girl and she can be really mean sometimes – in other words, she is utterly human and believable.

Thanks so much for inviting me to visit your blog!


Susin Nielsen got her start writing a spec script for the popular television series Degrassi Junior High. She went on to pen sixteen episodes of the hit show and four of the Degrassi books. Since then, she has received two Canadian Screenwriter Awards and a Gemini Award. She has written for many TV series, including HeartlandArctic Air, and Robson Arms, which she co-created. Her first novel, Word Nerd, won four Young Readers’ Choice Awards and was a finalist for the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award and the Canadian Library Association’s Book of the Year Award, among others. Her second novel, Dear George Clooney, Please Marry My Mom, won three Young Readers’ Choice Awards and is a Winner of the Top Shelf Fiction for Middle School Readers by VOYA and the Gold Winner of the Book of the Year Award in Juvenile Fiction by ForeWord Reviews. Her third novel,The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen, won many awards, including the Governor General’s Literary Award, CLA’s Book of the Year for Children Award, and three Young Readers’ Choice Awards. It was also selected as one of the best fiction for young adults by the American Library Association and a Top Shelf for Middle School Readers by VOYA. Susin Nielsen lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, with her husband and son.

Win a hardcover copy of
We Are All Made Of Molecules!
Thanks to Random House Kids, I have one copy for one winner.
DETAILS
-US only
-ends 10/30
please read all rules below

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Unless otherwise stated, the policies and rules for each giveaway are as follows:
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN.  Open only to legal residents of the 50 United States and Washington D.C. who are 13 years old or older as of date of entry.
To enter, fill out the appropriate Rafflecopter form associated with each giveaway.
The start and end dates for each giveaway will be clearly stated and followed.
The specified amount of winners shall be selected in a random drawing.
Winners will be notified by email and must claim their prize within 48 hours. If a winner does not respond within 48 hours, then a new winner will be chosen.
Word Spelunking is not responsible for lost, damaged, or stolen prizes in the mail. Once a prize is dropped off at the post office, it is no longer my responsibility and I will not compensate in anyway for prizes not delivered because of the USPS.
If a third-party (author, publisher, etc) is shipping a prize, once I provide the winner(s)' mailing information to them, the prize is no longer my responsibility. I will forward your mailing info to the proper people within 48 hours after getting it from you. If you have not received your prize from an author or publisher within 8 weeks, it is your responsibility to contact them further.
By participating in any giveaway, you agree to adhere to these rules. Any breaking of these rules by entrants will disqualify them from the giveaway and their entries will be deleted.