Current Giveaways

-March MG Madness Giveaways: click here to see all the giveaways

My Review/Request Policy has been updated. Please read it before you send a request.
Review requests are currently closed, although interview, guest post, blog tour, and giveaway requests are still open through May. I will NOT be scheduling anything in June and July.

Friday, March 27, 2015

(MMGM) The Telling Stone by Maureen Doyle McQuerry {review and giveaway}


Welcome to Day 27 of the 4th Annual March MG Madness! Today we are celebrating Maureen Doyle McQuerry's The Telling Stone, book two in her Time Out of Time series...


The Telling Stone
(Time Out of Time #2)
by Maureen Doyle McQuerry
5/12/15
Amulet Books
In book two, the excitement and mystery continue as Timothy, his sister, Sarah, and their friend Jessica journey from America to Edinburgh, Scotland, where they seek the Four Treasures of Ireland, especially the Telling Stone. They must keep the treasures from falling into the hands of Balor, who can use them to deprive the world of good. The children pass through Time out of Time as they undertake their quest and encounter a number of mythic and folkloric characters, including the Tuatha Dé Danann, Gwydon, Cerridwyn, and others.

In this book, a code hidden in a map is the key to finding the Stone, and readers work alongside Timothy, Sarah, and Jessica to decode the message. Along with the code, the book includes a glossary of the many historical, literary, and folkloric references mentioned in both volumes.

Praise for the Time Out of Time Series


"Threaded with ancient and medieval mythologies, McQuerry’s compelling narrative races forward, immersing the reader in its lyrical mysteries, just as the circumstances surprise and confound the protagonists." STARRED BOOKLIST

"A sense of wonder and worry permeates the narrative, evocative of The Dark Is Rising or the work of Neil Gaiman, and the cliffhanger ending will leave readers clamoring for more." PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY

"This intelligent, engaging series is highly recommended for middle-grade and teen readers, who will eagerly look forward to the next installment."
(Morgan Brickey VOYA 2015-02-01)

"The overlap of mythical and present is nicely realized, with adults especially not what they seem, whether representative of good or evil. [R]eaders...will be looking for the next in the series."(Kirkus Reviews 2015-03-01)


Timothy, his older sister Sarah, and their friend Jessica, once again find themselves traveling through Time out of Time as they seek four important treasures and try desperately to avoid the evil Balor. The trio’s journey takes them all the way to Edinburgh, Scotland, where they use a coded map to search for the Telling Stone, finding help and enemies in unexpected places.

Maureen Doyle McQuerry returns to her exciting Time Out of Time series with book two, The Telling Stone. Like book one, The Telling Stone is full of action, adventure, magic, mystery, and fantastical, wondrous elements! This series is rich in captivating lore and mythology that McQuerry spins and explores with enthralling, smart storytelling and excellent world-building. From the mystical Market to the picturesque Edinburgh and the hills of Scotland, The Telling Stone is brimming with great, vivid details and settings that come to life. McQuerry does a wonderful job of making the sometimes complex mythology very accessible to young readers, who will find these elements absolutely fascinating and riveting.

McQuerry has crafted some truly compelling and engaging characters in this series. I’ve very much enjoyed getting to know our hero, Timothy, and two heroines, Sarah and Jessica. Young readers will love how capable, likable, and relatable these young characters are and how they grow throughout the series. And, like in book one, we are introduced to some intriguing and unforgettable characters that have stepped right out of myths, folklore, and history, and been given new life.

The Telling Stone picks up right where book one ends and opens with quite the explosive beginning, and the thrills, action, and adventure don’t stop! McQuerry sprinkles some clever twists and turns throughout the book that took me by surprise.

my final thoughts: Full of fascinating lore and myths, engaging characters, and fantastic storytelling, The Telling Stone is a wonderful sequel in an equally wonderful series.

MY RATING
5/5 yummy cupcakes


Writers are like crows. They collect shiny objects that capture their attention and hide them away. Maureen has been collecting interesting bits since she was six and decided she wanted to be a writer. Like all interesting journeys, the road to her goal took many twists and turns along the way: teaching middle grade through college, coordinating a program for gifted students, marrying and raising her own two children, traveling the world, and all the while writing in the spaces in between. 
 
Maureen’s published works include The Peculiars,(Abrams/Amulet) a YASLA, Bank Street, Horn Book and Westchester YA best  book;  Nuclear Legacy, (Battelle Press) an Independent Publisher’s Award winner and numerous poems in literary journals. Her next books, Beyond the Door and The Telling Stone (Abrams/Amulet), are due out in spring and fall 2014.
 
Whenever she has the opportunity, Maureen loves to present to students in the schools, share her love of language and books, and encourage them to follow their passions. Maureen works with teachers to tailor workshops to specific writing goals.  She is also a frequent presenter at writing conferences.
 
Maureen grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area before it became Silicon Valley and now lives in WA State near the banks of the Columbia River with her husband. Eagles, wood ducks, a friendly owl and raccoons visit her yard. When she’s not writing or teaching, Maureen’s always hoping for a real life mystery to solve.

Win both books in the 
Time Out of Time Series!
Abrams has generously offered copies of both Beyond The Door and The Telling Stone for one winner.
Details
-US only
-ends 4/3
(please read full rules below the 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.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

(MMGM) The Dungeoneers by John David Anderson {review, interview, guest post}


Welcome to Day 26 of the 4th Annual March MG Madness! Today we are celebrating John David Anderson's The Dungeoneers...


The Dungeoneers 
(Dungeoneers Series #1)
by John David Anderson
6/23/15
Walden Pond Press
The Dungeoneers is an action-packed, funny, and heartbreaking middle grade fantasy-adventure from the author of the acclaimed Sidekicked and Minion, John David Anderson.

The world is not a fair place, and Colm Candorly knows it. While his parents and eight sisters seem content living on a lowly cobbler's earnings, Colm can't help but feel that everyone has the right to a more comfortable life. It's just a question of how far you're willing to go to get it.

In an effort to help make ends meet, Colm uses his natural gift for pickpocketing to pilfer a pile of gold from the richer residents of town, but his actions place him at the mercy of a mysterious man named Finn Argos, a gilded-toothed, smooth-tongued rogue who gives Colm a choice: he can be punished for his thievery, or he can become a member of Thwodin's Legions, a guild of dungeoneers who take what they want and live as they will. Colm soon finds himself part of a family of warriors, mages, and hunters, learning to work together in their quest for endless treasure. But not all families are perfect, and even as Colm hones his skills with fellow recruits, it becomes clear that something from outside threatens the dungeoneers--and perhaps something from inside as well.

Meet the Dungeoneers



Being the only son of a poor cobbler and the brother to eight sisters is not easy...just ask 12 year old Colm Candorly. And when Colm, a natural and talented thief, finds (aka pilfers) a pile of silver and gold from the richer people in town, he finds himself in quite the pickle. But then slick talking Finn Argos arrives and offers Colm an unusual way out of trouble. Colm soon finds himself training in Thwodin’s Legions, a guild of dungeoneers, and among his own kind for the first time. Colm, a quick study of the art of being a rogue, may have just found a way to use his talent and find fame and riches along the way...if he can survive training and its trials and the plot of a traitor.

The Dungeoneers is such a fun, addictive read and I loved every minute of it! John David Anderson spins a spectacular tale full of action, humor, magic, adventure, and captivating characters. With an absolutely pitch-perfect middle-grade voice and smart, compelling storytelling, The Dungeoneers is riveting from beginning to end. Anderson’s world-building is pure perfection as he crafts a clever, wildly imaginative, and fully developed world. From Colm’s hometown of Felhaven to Thwodin’s castle and the dungeons explored by the dungeoneers, this world is vividly laid out in enthralling details. The world of the dungeoners in Thwodin’s Legions is full of fantastical and whimsical (both dark and light) elements, exciting classes, and amazing things to learn!

From rogues, mages, barbarians, druids, goblins, orcs, and more, The Dungeoneers is full of eclectic and engaging characters. Anderson gives such amusing life to each of his characters and I thoroughly enjoyed each and every one of them. I just loved plucky Colm and his quirky group of friends, including fierce Lena, endearing Quinn, and sweet Serene.

Colm’s time with the dungeoneers is full of thrilling action, laugh-out-loud moments, and plenty of surprises, leading to a truly twisty reveal and heart-racing conclusion.

my final thoughts: With smart, sparkling storytelling; awesome characters; and an exciting premise, The Dungeoneers will charm and wow readers! I certainly cannot wait until book two!!

MY RATING
5/5 yummy cupcakes


What three words best describe your book, The Dungeoneers?

Dungeon-diving deliciousness? Monster-mashing mayhem? Funny…I hope.

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

Girl barbarians fainting at the sight of blood, fireballs shooting out of peoples’ ears, pickpockets, twists and turns, swords with names, a door with a hundred locks, and a couple of charming rogues—that covers about a tenth the book.

Grab a copy of  The Dungeoneers and answer the following:

favorite chapter?
Chapter 16

favorite page?
416. Because you knew it was bound to happen eventually.

favorite place/setting?
The dining hall of the guild. Dungeons are cool, but a lot of important stuff happens in the small moments when four friends sit around a table and give each other a hard time.

flip to a random page and give us a 1-2 sentences teaser:
Page 215. Attack on the castle. Waves of orcs thundering across the field. And the arrival of a legendary swordsman that Colm has reason to distrust.

What inspired The Dungeoneers? How did the story come to be?

A childhood spent reading about hordes of treasure guarded by dangerous beasts combined with a fatherhood spent playing D&D-type board games with my kids. Obviously the fantasy genre is ripe with heroes who are called upon to descend into the darkness to retrieve some mystical totem or priceless artifact, but those heroes are usually on some noble quest to save the world from evil-wizard-total-takeover—they don’t actually do this sort of thing for a living. Enter the Dungeoneers—specially trained to take stuff that doesn’t belong to them, despite all of the orcs, giant spiders, acidic blobs, and magically tainted breakfast rolls standing in their way. I enjoy writing fantasy novels because they are tropes I am familiar enough with to put my own spin on. Dungeoneers is high adventure, but it’s also a little subversive and self-mocking at times. Plus girls with axes are cool.

Can you tell us a bit about your hero, Colm? What makes him special and sets him apart from other middle-grade heroes?

For starters, he’s missing a finger and has eight sisters. He also has both parents—which really sets him apart from traditional fantasy heroes (usually they are orphans, though sometimes one parent is lucky enough to survive past the prologue). What I think makes Colm “real” is that he is constantly battling with his own conscience. He does things in the book that are questionable, morally, or at the very least, selfish—and many of those things are also justified by the people around him. He has to redefine his priorities as the book progresses, which I think a lot of young readers can identify with. Do I do something illegal if it means helping my family? Am I willing to take something that isn’t mine if I share it with others I care about? I think Colm’s situation, while fantastic, will be recognizable to readers.

I should add, though, that while Colm is the protagonist of the book, Dungeoneers is full of young heroes, all of them struggling with their own issues—and it’s the chemistry between them that I think really makes the book stand out. Hopefully every reader will find one Dungeoneer that they can empathize with (the character they will choose if they ever make a video game version). Plus they would make mongo-awesome action figures.

As a middle-grade author, why do think MG is so important and popular? What do you love about MG?

MG catches young readers at a crucial moment in their literary evolution—at a time where reading either turns into a lifelong passion or simply more homework. With so much competing for their attention, I know it can be difficult to privilege reading for pleasure, but that’s what great MG books do—they hook their young readers, giving them an emotional and intellectual thrill that rewards them for the time they devote to reading it. As an author I like the challenge of helping to create lifelong readers. I also think the last twenty years have done a great job creating a library of wonderful books for kids that age to choose from. They don’t have to jump straight from Nancy Drew to Stephen King (which is kind of what I did). There’s a book out there for every single MG reader—they just have to find their favorites.

What I love most about MG, though, is the ability to escape into the worlds I inhabited when I was twelve, romping my way through imaginary adventures, but with the benefit of thirty more years of life experience. My goal when writing a novel is to try and infuse what little wisdom I’ve gathered into an entertaining yarn so that readers are left breathless sometimes and with questions at others. Plus I never really matured past that stage in my life, so I have no problem pretending to be twelve. It’s something I am thankful for every day as I put on my Darth Vader t-shirt and admire my Lego collection.

What are some of your favorite middle-grade reads and characters?

I actually have a tendency to skip around, trying to read as many different authors and different stories as possible. As such I don’t get attached to series often (blasphemy, I know). It makes it difficult to call Percy Jackson a favorite when you’ve only read the first book (don’t think less of me). I’ve always got a middle-grade novel on my nightstand though (just finished Rain Reign). I think the classics are worth rereading (does MG have classics?)—things like The Giver and Where the Red Fern Grows (that book made me cry—and I’m not really a crier). I’ll also read just anything by Kate DiCamillo or M.T. Anderson, and I have a soft spot for authors that can make me bust a gut, like Chris Healy or Dan Gutman.  

Probably my favorite MG characters are girls—tough, and smart and a little bit salty. Hermione Grainger meets Amelia McBride. They remind me a bit of my own daughter. What I don’t like are MG heroes who are just miniature adults, hyper intellectual and uber responsible. Kids are nuts. They do crazy random stuff. I love that. It makes me feel better about being nuts too.   

If you could jump into any middle-grade world, which would you choose and what would you do there?

Are you kidding? Two words: Willy Wonka. What would I do? Four words: Eat till I vomit.

Fill in the blanks:

If I could travel through time, I’d go to
2250 AD. I’m seriously worried for my great great great great great grandchildren. I want to know that there’s going to be a world left for them to inherit. Of course I’d also like to take a Snoopy Snow Cone Maker back to the Dark Ages and brighten those guys’ lives up a little.

If I were in the Guinness Book of World Records, it would be for
Most sea-salt dark chocolate caramels eaten in a single sitting. See question eight above.

My cool outlaw name would be
Doc McToodles. Oh. Wait, you said “cool,” didn’t you?

My favorite mythical creature is
Manticore. I mean, seriously. Somebody was like, let’s make an awesome animal mash-up! It’s enough to have a flying lion—but a scorpion’s tail? How wicked is that?

The last awesome book I read was
All the Light We Cannot See. Sorry, middle-graders—you’ll need to wait a few years for this one, but it will be worth it. Hauntingly beautiful is overused, but I think it applies in that case. I wish I could write like Anthony Doerr.

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

I’d call it Colm’s Secret Confection. It would be chocolate, but with a gooey golden buttery center, like a chest of gold you discover at the end of a dungeon. Of course the cupcake would be locked in a box and you’d have to pick the lock to get to it. And then an ogre would jump out and try to eat you.


John David Anderson once hit himself so hard on a dare by his sister that he literally knocked himself out of a chair and nearly blacked out. He has since translated this passion and singularity of purpose to the related arts of novel writing and pizza eating. The author of STANDARD HERO BEHAVIOR and the forthcoming SIDEKICKED, Anderson is a firm believer in wearing the same pair of jeans for three days in a row (four in the winter). He lives with his beautiful wife and twins in Indianapolis.

Win a copy of The Dungeoneers!
Walden Pond Press has generously offered one copy for one winner.
Detail
-US only
-ends 4/3
(please read full 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.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

(MMGM) Sara Pennypacker, author of the Clementine Series {interview and giveaway}


Welcome to Day 25 of the 4th Annual March MG Madness! Today we are celebrating Sara Pennypacker's charming Clementine Series...


Completely Clementine
(Clementine #7)
by Sara Pennypacker
3/3/15
Disney-Hyperion
Summer is coming, and Clementine is not ready. She is not ready to start speaking to her father again, because she’s still mad at him for eating meat. Instead, she has to express her sadness by giving him drawings of animals she knows would not want to be somebody’s dinner. 

Then there is the new baby on the way. Clementine’s mom sure doesn't seem ready. She’s suddenly crazy about cleaning (Dad says she is nesting), but she doesn't even have a name picked out yet. Clementine just hopes the baby won’t be a dud.

What Clementine really isn't ready for is saying good-bye to her third grade teacher. She knows Mr. D’Matz is going to tell her all kinds of things that aren't true. Everything else may be changing around her, but that doesn't mean that Clementine has.

But which is worse, saying good-bye, or not saying good-bye?

You can learn about and purchase the other Clementine Books HERE



Praise for the Clementine Books

"A delightful addition to any beginning chapter-book collection."
-School Library Journal, 10/06 STARRED REVIEW

"Along with humorous bits, Pennypacker seamlessly weaves into the narrative common third-grade themes...Fans of Judy Moody will welcome this portrait of another funny, independent third-grader." 
-Publishers Weekly, 08/06 STARRED REVIEW

"Libraries will need multiple copies of this one, because early chapter-book readers will jump at the chance to spend another eventful week with Clementine." 
STARRED REVIEW School Library Journal, April 2007

"Pennypacker once again demonstrates her keen insights into the third-grade mind with Clementine's priceless observations of the world around her" 
-Kirkus STARRED REVIEW

"New readers and listeners will cheer when Clementine discovers her talent and will eagerly await the next book about this "one of a kind" girl." 
-Horn Book, May/June 2007


What three words best describe your Clementine series? 

“Uh-oh!” “Funny” and “Honest”


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

I predict that you will laugh while you’re reading it, and that at the end, you’ll feel like you’ve met a new friend.

Grab a copy of Completely Clementine and answer the following:
favorite chapter? The last one
favorite page? Page 53. I love Principal Rice!
favorite illustration? The very first one, where Clementine and Moisturizer are waking up.
favorite place/setting? Clementine’s kitchen, with the whole family in it. Always.
flip to a random page and give us a 1-2 sentences teaser: “I just remembered I might have left a bologna sandwich in my desk in September,” I said. “So I’d better go clean it out now.”

What inspired the Clementine series? 

Kids. Specifically, kids who are told to pay attention a lot. My son was a kid like that, and I came to understand that he actually was paying attention - to some pretty important things, like how beautiful and interesting the world is, and coming up with creative ideas, and caring about how other people are feeling.

Can you tell us a bit about your heroine, Clementine? What makes her special and sets her apart from other middle-grades heroines? 

What I love best about her is her attitude. She gets herself in trouble a lot (although always it’s because she’s trying to do something good, and just hasn’t thought it through enough!) but she never stays down about it. She says, “Okay, fine,” which to me means she accepts herself as a mistake-maker and knows she’s going to do better. Like most kids, Clementine sometimes does need to work on paying attention and not being impulsive or distractible, but she’s got so many great qualities.

No wait – what I really love best about her is how funny she is...Clementine just cracks me up!

What do you hope young readers learn from and/or walk away with after reading your Clementine books? 

Definitely this: That they are not the only ones. All human beings make mistakes, and we can laugh about that and feel better.

As a middle-grade author, why do think MG is so important and popular?

At the middle-grade age, kids have solid reading skills and they love stories and characters. Stories show them both people like themselves and people who are completely different – it’s such an important way to learn about human experiences and possibilities. Middle grade books open up the world to people who are hungry for that at just the right time.

What do you love about MG? 

The readers. Mid-grade readers read more books per year than any other group – it’s not unusual for them to read a whole book in a day. Grown-ups almost never do that!  It’s an honor to write for people who care about books so much.

What are some of your favorite middle-grade reads?

There are so many great ones! Some are really old - A Wrinkle in Time; My Side of the Mountain; Shiloh; The Borrowers; Charlotte’s Web. I like Harriet the Spy more every time I read it. I love all of Roald Dahl’s mid-grades.
Some new ones include Brown Girl Dreaming; Okay for Now; Wonder; Because of Winn-Dixie; Moonbird; Bomb; When You Reach Me; Higher Power of Lucky; Ninth Ward...Oh, I have to stop. I could name a hundred more – I love this genre.

Fill in the blanks:

I’m really awesome at Ping-Pong.
I’m really embarrassed to admit that sometimes my Smart-phone makes me feel dumb!
The last great book I read was The Little Prince..I just read it again for about the 10th time. Perfect!

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

What a great question! Well, it would be based on a Boston Crème Pie – vanilla cake, custard filling, dark chocolate icing – which is a delicious combination. It would be topped with a clementine slice, of course. Uh-oh...I WANT ONE RIGHT NOW!!!!!


Sara Pennypacker is an author of children's literature. She has received many awards for her books including the Christopher Award for Clementines's Letter and the Golden Kite Award for Pierre In Love.

Win the ENTIRE Clementine Series!
Disney-Hyperion has generously offered one set of all seven books in the series, for one winner.
Details
-US only
-ends 4/3
-one winner will get books 1-7
(please read full rules below rafflecoper)
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.