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Monday, July 29, 2013

Word Spelunking Is Taking A One Week Break



Hiya, Cupcakes!

I'm moving...no, not the blog, but me. This week my family is moving to a new house across town. Which means packing, packing, moving shit, packing some more, and even more moving of shit. NOT. FUN. It's amazing the amount of crap we can accumulate over the years! I care most about moving all of my books and Oh. My. Friggin. God do I have a crazy ton of books to move. This is me basically:


As you can guess, this is going to be a super busy week for me, so the blog shall be empty until next Monday, when we will resume our regularly scheduled cupcakey and spelunking goodness.

I'll be around on Twitter and my email if ya need me!

Until next Monday, stay cool, Cupcakes and let me awkwardly love you:




Saturday, July 27, 2013

Goodie Basket (53): Weekly Book Haul & Blog Recap


Goodie Basket...is a weekly feature hosted here at Word Spelunking that showcases all the goodies (books, bookish things, reviews, interviews/giveaways/guest posts, blog tours, etc) that popped up in the Goodie Basket that is Word Spelunking each week.

(This meme is inspired by other book haul memes such as In My Mailbox hosted by  The Mod Podge BookshelfStacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga’s Reviews, Showcase Sunday hosted by Books, Biscuits & Tea and Sunday Post hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer )

Hiya, Cupcakes! Before we get to all my bookish goodies this week, I have a few pics of my adorable, cutie-booty niece to share. Baby Aeicha is 2 months old now!

Now, let's see what I got this week...

FOR REVIEW

The Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren Myracle
(Abrams: from pub)

Man Made Boy by Jon Skovron
(Penguin: from pub)

Seers by Kristine Rowe
(Charlesbridge: from pub)

Eat, Brains, Love by Jeff Hart
(Harper Teen: from pub)

How to Catch a Bogle by Catherine Jenks
(HMH: from pub)

(Random House: from pub)

The Flame in the Mist by Kit Grindstaff
(Random House: from pub)


Frosty the Snowman by Kenny Loggins
-book plus musical cd
(Charlesbridge: from pub)

One Word Pearl by Nicole Groeneweg
(Charlesbridge: from pub)

PURCHASED/WON/GIFTED

Purchased

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
My cousin and I went to Ollie's this week and we found SIGNED hardcover copies of Lola for only $1.99, so that was super awesome!

Gifted

Radiant by Christina Daley
Christina was sweet enough to send me a signed copy!

Won

Imperfect Spiral by Debbie Levy
I read and loved the ARC of this book and was so excited when I won a hc copy from Bloosmbury!

Big THANK YOUs to Abrams, Penguin, Charlesbridge, Random House, Harper Teen, HMH, Christina Daley, and Bloomsbury for all the bookish awesomeness this week!

Weekly Blog Recap
This week on Word Spelunking...

MONDAY

TUESDAY

WEDNESDAY

THURSDAY

FRIDAY

SATURDAY

OPEN GIVEAWAYS


What did you get this week?!

Mini Picture Book Reviews: 20 Big Trucks in the Middle of the Street and The Day the Crayons Quit


I have two mini picture books reviews* to share with y'all today


20 Big Trucks in the Middle of the Street
by Mark Lee
Illustrated by Kurt Cyrus
Pub Date: June 11, 2013
Pub: Candlewick Press
Format: hardcover
Source: pub
Count the trucks getting stuck in a traffic jam in this rhythmic read-aloud sure to draw in kids who love everything on wheels.One ice-cream truck selling everything sweetBreaks down and blocks the middle of our street.If you’re a little boy on a bike, an ice-cream truck on your street is always a welcome sight. But what if it the truck breaks down and blocks the mail truck behind it (now there are two), not to mention a third truck carrying hay? One by one, trucks of all types and sizes and functions are sure to pile up behind, offering ample opportunity for ogling — and counting. And maybe the boy’s idea for putting one of the trucks to good use might even save the day.
I received a copy of this title from the pub in exchange for an honest review 


20 Big Trucks in the Middle of the Street, by Mark Lee, is an adorable picture book with captivating illustrations and an utterly addicting rhyming story. A cute little boy narrates this 32 page story, counting the twenty different trucks that get backed up in the middle of his street, all because of one stuck ice-cream truck.

The rhyming, sing-song narration flows in the most perfect and pleasing way. Little readers, and those being read to, will love the simplicity and sound of the rhyming rhythm. The bright, physically appealing pictures, by Kurt Cyrus, illustrate the story wonderfully. Each of the different twenty trucks has its own personality and pizzazz and little readers will love pointing the various trucks out and picking their favorites. The illustrations are busy enough to keep little eyes entertained and enthralled, but not too busy to overwhelm.

I love that the little boy narrator is the voice of reason and comes up with the big plan to save the day, and I think little ones will get a kick out of this too. The story begins and ends with the stuck ice-cream truck, bringing the story full circle.

20 Big Trucks in the Middle of the Street is a delightful little story, perfect for little readers who love cars or who are just learning how to count. The lovely illustrations and addicting rhyming story will have little ones asking for this story again and again.

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PURCHASE
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The Day the Crayons Quit
by Drew Daywalt
Illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
Pub Date: June 27, 2013
Pub: Penguin
Format: hardcover
Source: pub
Crayons have feelings, too, in this funny back-to-school story illustrated by the creator of Stuck and This Moose Belongs to Me. Poor Duncan just wants to color. But when he opens his box of crayons, he finds only letters, all saying the same thing: His crayons have had enough! They quit! Beige Crayon is tired of playing second fiddle to Brown Crayon. Black wants to be used for more than just outlining. Blue needs a break from coloring all those bodies of water. And Orange and Yellow are no longer speaking—each believes he is the true color of the sun.What can Duncan possibly do to appease all of the crayons and get them back to doing what they do best?
I received a copy of this title from the pub in exchange for an honest review 


The Day the Crayons Quit, by Drew Daywalt, is a hilarious tale about the day the crayons have just had enough! This awesomely original story is clever, laugh-out-loud funny, and perfectly illustrated. The story begins with Duncan taking out his box of crayons only to find a stack of letters. Each letter, written by a different colored crayon, tells of that crayon's woes, complaints, and demands.

This book is just too cute and entertaining! Like me, younger readers will love how each crayon has its own wildly fun personality, from overworked Red to neat freak Purple to overlooked White to poor, naked Peach, and every other color in between. Little readers will laugh at the book's silliness and root for their favorite crayons.

Oliver Jeffers' spectacular and whimsically child-like illustrations are the perfect companion to Daywalt's story. Jeffers does a fantastic job of bringing each crayon to life and creating vivid eye-catching pictures.

The Day the Crayons Quit will appeal to readers of all ages (it had this “grown-up” completely enchanted), and will definitely be a big hit amongst little readers!

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ADD ON GOODREADS
PURCHASE
Amazon / B&N / IndieBound
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*I don't rate picture books here at Word Spelunking, I merely review them

Friday, July 26, 2013

Review and Giveaway: Nomad by J.L. Bryan


Nomad releases today!


Nomad
by J.L. Bryan
Pub Date: 7/26/13
Format: e-ARC
Source: author
They took everything: her family, her home, her childhood.By the age of nineteen, Raven has spent most of her life in the sprawling slums of America, fighting as a rebel against the dictatorship. When the rebellion steals an experimental time-travel device, she travels back five decades to the year 2013. Her plan: assassinate the future dictator when he is still young and vulnerable, long before he comes to power. She must move fast to reshape history, because agents from her own time are on her trail, ready to execute her on sight.
 I received an eARC from the author in exchange for my honest review

If you've read my reviews in the past you've probably noticed that I generally stick to middle-grade and young-adult books. I don't read much New Adult. Honestly, I'm not really a fan of most New Adult...but, when I heard that J.L. Bryan wrote a new New Adult book AND it was a cool mix of dystopian and time-travel, I knew it was one New Adultish book that I wasn't going to pass up. And I'm so glad I didn't because Nomad is just as awesome as I hoped it would be.

I'm a huge fan of J.L. Bryan's Song of Magic series (which is for younger readers), so I was excited to delve into one of his books for older readers (and Nomad is definitely meant for the older YA and NA crowd), and he continues to impress and enthrall me with his fantastic storytelling and ability to weave entertaining, intriguing stories.

Nomad is a gripping, richly complex, and fresh story with a thrilling mix of dystopian and sci-fi and captivating doses of action and romance. I'm always fascinated by time-travel and love when authors aren't afraid to take this concept to some complex and thought-provoking places. So many time-travel premises are severely lacking simply because they aren't well thought-out or their authors create too many plot-holes. In Nomad J.L. Bryan has thought of everything and boldly takes on the concept of time-loops and paradoxes. Bryan's time-traveling premise is so smartly crafted, multifaceted, and anything but simple. For the most part I found the complexity and intricacy of the story to be easy to follow, and certainly intriguing, but at times it could be a bit overwhelming.

One of the things I love best about Bryan's writing, is his vivid and layered world-building abilities. Nomad takes place mostly in our present day (Yale University to be exact), with flashbacks (flashforwards?) to Raven's dystopian future. Normally, I'd be frustrated with a book that didn't spend the majority of time in its more intriguing dystopian future, but the way Bryan sets his story mainly in present day and sprinkles brief glimpses into Raven's future throughout, works really well for the story being told; and the world-building of Raven's dystopian future doesn't suffer at all. Bryan is deftly able to create and explore this dystopian future, with more showing than telling, without creating a disjointed flow between the “then” and the “now”. I'd love to read more about Raven's dystopian future though...perhaps in a new book set there... hint hint wink wink Mr. Bryan ;)

Raven is a great heroine and I really liked her. She's smart and capable, with an engaging mix of strength and vulnerability, compassion and logic, relatability and badassary. Raven finds herself in an unfamiliar time and place, caught between desire and duty, and has the balls to do what she has to to get shit done. She also finds herself caught up in an unexpected romantic entanglement and I really like what Bryan does with this storyline and where he take its. The interaction between Raven and her guy is amusing and addicting, and the sexytimes are hot and fun.

Nomad has a clever and really satisfying ending that brings the story full circle.

MY FINAL THOUGHTS: Nomad is an awesomely original and well-written dystopian, with a complex time-travel premise, entertaining story, and J.L. Bryan's signature world-building and witty dialogue. New Adult fans looking for something a bit different, but still craving great characters and sexytimes, will definitely enjoy Nomad.

MY RATING
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Purchase
Amazon / Nook

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J.L. Bryan
J.L. Bryan studied English literature at the University of Georgia and at Oxford, with a focus on English Renaissance and Romantic literature. He also studied screenwriting at UCLA. He lives in the metro Atlanta sprawl with his wife Christina, where he spends most of his day servings the toddler and animal community inside his house. He is the author of the Paranormals series and the Songs of Magic series.His novel Jenny Pox is currently free on KindleSmashwordsAppleSonyKobo, and Nook 

Win an ebook copy of Nomad!
Thanks to J.L. Bryan, I have on e-copy (mobi or epub) to give away.
DETAILS
-open INT 
(to anyone who can receive and read ebooks)
-will end 7/28 at 8pm EST
-must be 13+
-winner will be emailed and must clam prize within 24 hours
TO ENTER SIMPLY LEAVE A COMMENT ON THIS REVIEW LETTING ME KNOW YOU WANT TO ENTER AND WITH AN EMAIL ADDRESS OR TWITTER USERNAME I CAN CONTACT YOU WITH!

GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED!



Thursday, July 25, 2013

Book Spotlight: Saving the Planet & Stuff {Guest Post and Giveaway}


I'm thrilled to be spotlighting Saving the Planet & Stuff today! Author Gail Gauthier is here with a fab guest post and giveaway...

Saving the Planet & Stuff: An Eco-Comedy
by Gail Gauthier
Feb. 2012
originally published by Putnam 

Michael Racine is spending a miserable summer alone at home when he stumbles upon a temporary job and housing with his grandparents’ friends, Walt Marcello and Nora Blake. Walt and Nora made names for themselves in the environmental movement with their magazine, "The Earth’s Wife," and Michael believes he’s headed for an internship with them that could rival the summer activities of his far more industrious and accomplished friends. Lack of air conditioning and biking to work get old very fast for him, though, and he has trouble taking seriously Nora’s concerns about the environmental impact of golf courses and Walt’s interest in composting toilets. He gets to leave his hosts’ solar home each weekday only to be faced with turmoil and revolt among "The Earth’s Wife"’s staff. How can Michael­-or Walt and Nora-­decide on the right course of action?

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Purchase
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Writing About Food—Again And Again
Gail Gauthier
A favorite scene in my eco-comedy, Savingthe Planet & Stuff, involves my sixteen-year-old main character, Michael, suffering a shock when he stumbles upon one of his employers in a restaurant. It was not the “grilled-unpopular-vegetables-and-polenta (whatever that was)-over-a-wood-fire type place” where Michael would have expected to find Walt, a long-time environmental warrior and vegetarian. The young man ends up joining the older one for a meal that ends up being a far cry from the tofu hot dogs, whole wheat noodles with undercooked zucchini, and peach nectar that they had been sharing up to that point.
Saving the Planet & Stuff is not the only book I’ve written that includes situations constructed around food. Food has turned up regularly in my writing throughout my career. I didn’t set out to make meal and snack time a recurring motif and only became aware of it after the fact. But it makes a great deal of sense that I ended up going down that road.
I come from a family that likes food. No, that’s not quite accurate. Saying we “like food” suggests that I come from a long line of discerning cooks or that maybe we maintain marvelous ethnic food traditions. To be more precise, I come from a family that likes to eat, and we have for generations. When we are preparing for a family gathering, we are far less concerned with the quality of the food we’re going to serve than we are that there be enough of it. If one of us loses a few pounds, the rest of the family worries about our health. And, quite honestly, when some of us lose weight, it often is because we’ve been sick.
I am just barely maintaining a normal BMI right now, but I can’t deny my familial interest in eating. It’s there for all the world to see in many of my children’s books, beginning with the very first, My Life Among the Aliens. That novel came out of my life as a mother of young boys, and the bran muffins and underappreciated oatmeal cookies that attract alien life forms to narrator Will’s home were based on the muffins and cookies I made for my own kids. When Will’s family does provide him with the kind of nourishment he longs for, you can be sure he comments on it. He is, after all, my creation. Before heading out to watch the Perseid showers with his parents and brother “The four of us pack up food—good stuff, too, like buttered popcorn and salty potato chips and brownies made of chocolate instead of carob…”  The book’s sequel, Club Earth, features an elaborate Thanksgiving dinner, designed (and paid for) by Will and his brother Rob to rid their home of the beings from other planets who had been using it as a destination vacation spot because they actually liked Mom’s home cooking. The boys give their guests an anti-Mom meal designed around four pounds of hot dogs (“turkey gets so dry”), the candied portion of candied sweet potatoes, five frozen pizzas, four cans of cooked spaghetti to which they add frozen breakfast sausages, cheese puffs, and, as an appetizer, barbecue chips topped with spray cheese. For dessert, they have two pies they made themselves out of Twinkies.
In The Hero of Ticonderoga I offer up some ethnic cuisine, though Franco-American dishes are not the stuff of Food Channel specials. Therese LeClerc’s mother makes Therese’s favorites, poutine and tarte au sucre, to serve a young visitor. The poutine, in particular, does not go over well with Therese’s guest, Deborah Churchill. “I could see her poutine beginning to congeal—the brown gravy was beginning to form a thin skin and the melted cheese curds were thickening. Soon the best moment for eating it would have passed.
“You’re not going to leave that, are you?” I asked, horrified.”
Very quickly Therese and her mother engage in an undignified battle for Deborah’s uneaten portion of French fries and cheese curds covered with pork gravy. (I  love that stuff.)  Therese could have been chagrined. Instead, she looks forward to eating leftovers from the meal after she’s finally rid of Deborah.
Even my books like A Year With Butch and Spike and Happy Kid!, which are set primarily in schools, have lunch room and family meal scenes. And my first published short story for adults, Rosemary and Olive Oilbegins in a hospital cafeteria and deals with an epiphany experienced while eating a bag of rosemary and olive oil flavored potato chips.
No one in my family would be at all surprised to have something like that happen.
Gail Gauthier
Gail Gauthier is the author of eight children's books, including The Hero of Ticonderoga, an ALA Notable Book, and the two volumes of the Hannah and Brandon Stories series, A Girl, a Boy, and a Monster Cat, and A Girl, a Boy, and Three Robbers, which were both selected as Junior Library Guild offerings. Her books have been nominated for readers' choice awards in six states, and published in foreign editions in Italy, Germany, France, and Japan. She has spoken in schools in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont, as well as at professional conferences. She maintains the weblogOriginal Content, where she writes about children's literature, writing, self-publishing, and time management for writers.

Win an ebook copy of Saving the Planet & Stuff!
Gail has generously offered one ebook copy of her book to one lucky winner.
DETAILS
-Open INT (to anyone who can receive ebooks)
-will end 7/31
-must be 13+, one main./free entry per person
-winner will be emailed and must claim prize within 48 hours
Fill out Rafflecopter form:

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Radiant Book Blitz {Excerpt and Giveaway}


I'm thrilled to have the Radiant Book Blitz stopping by today! I just adore author Christina Daley and I really enjoyed this book...

Radiant
by Christina Daley
2/13/13
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Purchase: Amazon

Mary is part Vietnamese. Carter is a complete jerk. Normally, they don't talk much.

But when Mary's in an accident on the way to school one morning, Carter nearly dies saving her life. The doctors say his chances of living are slim, and Mary's feeling the full weight of survivor's guilt.

However, Carter's back at school in a matter of days, as if nothing had happened. Although, he is a little "glitchy," and he's developed a sudden and intense interest in Mary. She thinks he's suffering from major brain trauma from the accident. Or that he's been possessed.

As it so happens, Carter really is possessed. And the thing controlling him is having the time of its life learning to be human.

Featuring a diverse cast of characters, RADIANT is a funny "paranormal-lite" story about being human, being in love, and being healed.


Excerpt 1 from Radiant


A voice called to her. It seemed close, and it was getting louder as the pain got sharper. "Hey? Hey! Are you all right?" it asked.

Mary blinked several times before she could finally see again. She was in the middle of the street. The cars had stopped and people on the sidewalk were staring.

"Are you all right?" the voice asked again. It was coming from a man wearing some type of uniform.

"What…?" Mary tried to say more, but her voice suddenly stopped working.

"Careful," he said as he helped her up. "Looks like you can move all right. Here, let's get you out of the street."

He helped her over to the sidewalk. "Stay here. Someone's calling the paramedics." And then he was gone.

Mary sat there, still in a daze. She started noticing familiar stuff all over the ground—an open book bag, books, folders, unused tampons, a shoe, and an apple with one bite mark. Her eyes followed the trail of debris to a brilliant red sports car, half of which was smashed in by a city bus.

What had happened? Mary studied the whole scene, trying to puzzle together the pieces. Then it dawned on her. The car had hit her. Not intentionally. She had run in front of the bus without knowing it. It was about to hit her, but the car had gotten in the way first. It had saved her life.

Mary thought about looking in the car. Then her feet sorta moved without her meaning them to, and she made her way to the passenger door. She recognized the person inside. Carter. She knew his last name, but she couldn't think of what it was. He was slumped over the seat with blood oozing all over his face. His eyes were shut.

Mary knocked on the window. The tears in her hand stung.

No response.

She beat the window with her fist.

Still nothing.

Mary stared. She couldn't believe it. On any other day, she wouldn't exchange two words with this guy. Just yesterday, he nearly mowed down an elderly couple while driving out of the school lot. Mary had secretly wished he'd be taught a lesson. But she didn't mean this.

She tried the door handle, but it was still locked. Suddenly, Carter's eyes flickered opened. He looked straight at her.

Mary gasped and pressed her face against the window.

Carter's eyes closed.

She stared at him, waiting for him to open them again. Waiting for any sign of life. But he was still like he was before.

Hands suddenly took hold of Mary, pulling her away from the car. Her feet moved on their own again. Someone was yelling "Miss" a lot. Parts of her brain found other noises too, like sirens, voices, beeping, and other things. The hands directed her to sit on something hard and cold.

"Miss? Can you hear me? Can you tell me your name?"

Mary didn't answer. She still hadn't found her voice, and her mind was fuzzy, too.
"Is that her bag there? Does she have a driver's license?"

A different person spoke. "No license, but I found a student ID. Her name's Mary Phan. She's seventeen and a junior here at Lewis Prep."

Mary heard a third voice. "I just talked with some of the kids on the sidewalk. One of them said her mom's a nurse at the memorial hospital."

"Find out how to contact the mom. Anyone see what happened?"

"Cops are questioning witnesses right now. Looks like she ran in front of the bus. It would've nailed her if that sportster hadn't gotten in the way."

"Anything on the bus or the driver of the car?"

"Everyone on the bus looks fine. The car belongs to a kid named Carter Maxwell. Also a junior." A sigh. "I wouldn't hold my breath. He looks really bad in there."

Mary tuned out everything else. All sights. All sounds. The only thing she could see in her mind was Carter staring at her.

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Christina Daley
Christina Daley made her first book with neighborhood friends when she was four years old. They "wrote" out some semblance of lettering with crayons, cut up a cardboard box for the cover, and bound it all together with clear adhesive tape. It was brilliant.
Quite a few years later, Christina is trying her hand at writing "real" books. She lives in Dallas, Texas, with a pet plant named Herb.
Win a paperback copy of Radiant + a bookmark
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