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Monday, August 31, 2015

Interview and Giveaway: author K.C. Simos


I'm delighted to have author K.C. Simos stopping by today to chat about her YA series, Ambrosia Chronicles! Plus, you can win all three books...

Book 1: Ambrosia Chronicles: The Discovery
When Alex is reunited with her high school crush, Ian, she discovers that he is part of a suspicious organisation that she herself becomes involved with. Suddenly entrusted with a heavily sought-after little pouch, she must go on the run. Alex must let go of the frustrations of ignorance at her new circumstances with the knowledge that the less she knows the safer she'll be, while she relies on the protection of her arrogant and mysterious rescuer in order to reach the organisation's headquarters in one piece.


Book 2: Ambrosia Chronicles: The Initiation
Now that Alex is officially the Protector, she embarks on a road trip through Europe together with Ian. But will Ian ever be able to get past Alex’s assent up the Muse ladder? What will happen when the two of them run into mysterious Lucas again? And what role does Emma’s Sight have in all of this? 

Join Alex and Emma as they start to untangle the web of secrets that revolve around Muse… 





Book 3 Ambrosia Chronicles: The Curse
The thrilling conclusion of the Ambrosia Chronicles trilogy. Alex and Emma prepare for the inevitable face-off with the Rogue Queen Regina, after uncovering some truly shocking secrets...

find the books: goodreads/amazon/b&n/itunes/kobo






What three words best describe your Ambrosia Chronicles series?
Fantasy, road-trip, adventure

Can you give us your best one sentence pitch to convince readers, especially reluctant readers, to give the Ambrosia Chronicles a try?
“Percy Jackson” meets “Twilight” or “Vampire Diaries” - the main characters are thrust into a modern day plot that has mythology weaved into it…

Grab a copy of book one in your series, The Discovery, and answer the following:
-favorite chapter? Chapter 23: Light in the Dark

-favorite page? Since it’s an e-book, I can’t really provide a page – it’s the first section of Chapter 25, I guess it would be the second or third page of that chapter, just towards the end of the first section…

-favorite place/setting? Alex’s garden in Athens, Greece

-flip to a random page and give us a 1-2 sentences teaser:
“Lucas is the only one whose Powers were not granted by the Guardian,” Sarah explained.
Alex slowed down, confused. “Then how did he get them?”
“The question you should be asking is who granted Lucas his Powers, if not the Guardian.”

What inspired the Ambrosia Chronicles? How did the story come to be?
I think I just got a little fed up with all the Hollywood films based on Greek mythology – there was a trend a few years back – where everything was altered so much that you could only tell it was based on a Greek myth because of the characters’ names and nothing else. I started toying with the idea of a world where these myths actually took place once as that world’s history, and what it would be like to discover something like that – my version of incorporating life in the world we live in today with fantasy elements from the world’s myths.

Can you tell us a bit about your heroine, Alex? What makes her special and sets her apart from other YA heroines?
Alex is nineteen when the story takes place. She’s at that age where she’s supposedly already meant to behave as though she’s an adult, but she has no idea what she wants to do with her life, and she’s unsure of who she really is. I believe what sets Alex apart from other YA heroines is that she’s more realistic. She’s dealing with what many go through at that age, but few talk about. When she’s thrust into a dangerous situation that she doesn’t understand and requires rescuing from, she’s not the damsel in distress type by nature; despite having a desire to be rescued she nevertheless adopts a DIY approach. She’s self-conscious but strong-minded, shy but will stand up for herself and others. She enjoys a constant stream of sarcastic commentary in her head that she rarely voices. She’s practical and intelligent, and a realist who hopes the unreal exists so as to change her mundane life.

What kinds of cool mythology and lore can readers expect to find in the Ambrosia Chronicles?
The wickedest mythological names make an appearance; names I myself only learned about during my research so a couple are obscure but pretty darn intriguing. My aim was to breathe modern life into ancient individuals. There are loads of characters from Ancient Greek & Norse mythology who either make a small appearance or play a role in Alex’s adventures, as well as references to the scariest, creepiest stories I encountered during my research.

The mythological elements serve more as a backdrop while Alex’s struggles are at the forefront. Because I nevertheless did a lot of research on mythology, I decided to create a blog called “The Mytholian Corner” where there are entry posts that provide a little info about each character whose roots are from mythology; I describe this person as in my trilogy, but then also share some of my research and provide info on his/her mythological background in a little more detail for anyone who might be interested in knowing a little more.

What is the best thing about being an author? The hardest thing?
The best thing is that this is my story, my own. I work as a freelancer in film & TV production, which involves working on other people’s ideas and manuscripts. The best thing about being an author is that I can create something myself.

The hardest thing is the practical knowledge that, since I’m not making a living from my books, I need to also work in a different field. It’s hard to do when you know that what you love to do can’t be your full time job. I’m happy that the other work I do is also story-related. It’s why I chose it – I can’t get enough of stories in every shape and form.

Let’s play This OR That:
-morning OR night Night
I am NOT a morning person.

-the hero OR the villain 
The hero as long as he isn’t a goodie-two-shoes; the dark hero

-stay in OR go out 
Go out… I stay in way too much.

-switch places with your favorite fictional character OR switch places with your favorite celebrity? 
Definitely picking the favourite fictional character. It means I can take part in a world of dragons and magic! Who’d pick dodging paparazzi over that?

Fill in the blanks
I’m really awesome at sarcasm.
I’m really embarrassed to admit when I’m wrong. I’ll do it, but I’ll feel my cheeks get hot.
The last great book I read was “Harry Potter” – I recently reread the whole series ☺

If you were to create and bake a cupcake inspired by the Ambrosia Chronicles, what would it look and taste like, and what would you call it?
Since this is a trilogy, I’m allowing myself 3 cupcakes (any excuse for more dessert with me):
“Fresh Discovery” –dark chocolate cupcake with a green mint icing & white choc shavings on top
“Bittersweet Initiation” – blueberry cupcake with buttercream icing and blueberries on top
“Cursed Temptation” – red velvet cupcake with buttercream icing (not the biggest fan of cream cheese icing) & dark choc shavings on top
My mouth is watering now…

Thanks so much for stopping by! Those cupcakes sound AMAZING and YUMMY!


K. C. Simos was born and raised in Athens, Greece. She studied law and marketing before pursuing her passion for film. She works as a freelancer in film & TV production. The "Ambrosia Chronicles" trilogy surfaced through her fascination with fantasy and mythology, and her desire to incorporate them into a world of her own.                                                                        website * author facebook * series facebook blog





Win an 
Ambrosia Chronicles ebook bundle!
K.C. Simos has generously offered one ebook bundle, which includes all three books in her series, for one winner.
DETAILS
-open to anyone who can read Amazon ebooks
-ends 9/7
please read full rules below rafflecopter form

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, August 28, 2015

Review: Hamster Princess (Harriet the Invincible) by Ursula Vernon {giveaway}

Don't forget to enter to win a hardcover copy of Hamster Princess: Harriet the Invincible, below my review...


Harriet the Invincible
(Hamster Princess #1)
by Ursula Vernon
August 18, 2015
Dial Books
Sleeping Beauty gets a feisty, furry twist in this hilarious new comic series from the creator of Dragonbreath

Harriet Hamsterbone is not your typical princess. She may be quite stunning in the rodent realm (you'll have to trust her on this one), but she is not so great at trailing around the palace looking ethereal or sighing a lot. She finds the royal life rather . . . dull. One day, though, Harriet's parents tell her of the curse that a rat placed on her at birth, dooming her to prick her finger on a hamster wheel when she's twelve and fall into a deep sleep. For Harriet, this is most wonderful news: It means she's invincible until she's twelve! After all, no good curse goes to waste. And so begins a grand life of adventure with her trusty riding quail, Mumfrey...until her twelfth birthday arrives and the curse manifests in a most unexpected way.


Perfect for fans of Babymouse and Chris Colfer's Land of Stories, this laugh-out-loud new comic hybrid series will turn everything you thought you knew about princesses on its head.

Praise for Hamster Princess
* ”A joy to read, and we can only hope that Harriet – long may she reign – will return in later installments.” —Booklist, starred review

* “Move over, Babymouse, there’s a new rodent in town!…Vernon has created a spunky heroine readers will cheer for and who will leave them eagerly searching for the happily ever after in the next installment.” —School Library Journal, starred review

* “Harriet is her own hamster, but she takes her place proudly alongside both Danny Dragonbreath and Babymouse. Creatively fresh and feminist, with laughs on every single page.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

* “A book with all the makings of a hit. Readers will be laughing themselves silly.”  —Publishers Weekly, starred review

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Princess Harriet Hamsterbone is not your typical princess. She rather defeat monsters with her sword, have grand adventures, and figure out fractions than sit around the castle all day being princess-y. When Harriet learns of a curse placed upon her that means she will prick her finger on a hamster wheel, on her twelfth birthday, placing her in a deep sleep, she is ecstatic! The curse means that until she turns twelve, Harriet is invincible, so she sets out to have those epic adventures she always dreamed about. But curses can’t be avoided and on her twelfth birthday the curse is activated...although, in a most surprising and peculiar way!


Hamster Princess: Harriet the Invincible is a delightful and charming new furry twist on the Sleeping Beauty tale! Part novel and part comic, this amusing first book in Ursula Vernon’s  new series is full of laughs, girl power, and sparkling storytelling. Young readers will be captivated by the never boring world Harriet lives in. A world that is filled with all kinds of animals, mythical creatures, and thrilling monsters. Hamster Princess: Harriet the Invincible is brimming with fun adventure, laugh-out-loud humor, and exciting twists.

With Harriet, Vernon does a spectacular job of creating a truly unique and unforgettable heroine! Feisty, sassy, clever, brave, and caring Harriet will have readers cheering and charm you completely. Harriet is the epitome of girl power and shows that there is no right or wrong way to be a princess or a girl. Vernon fills Harriet’s world with an amusing and entertaining cast of characters, from a snarky quail, silly parents, a couple of surprising princes, and a whimsical baddie.

Harriet’s grand adventures and story are perfectly captured in the witty and engaging comic like illustrations.

my final thoughts: Hamster Princess: Harriet the Invincible is a rollicking, clever, and captivating book that will amuse and inspire young readers.  

MY RATING
4/5 yummy cupcakes

Ursula Vernon is the creator of the popular Dragonbreath series, and her work has won a Hugo award. She lives, writes, draws, and lives in a castle (ok, maybe it’s more like a house) in Pittsboro, North Carolina.

Win a hardcover copy of
Hamster Princess: Harriet the Invincible!
The awesome folks at Penguin have offered one new copy for one winner.
DETAILS
-US only
-ends 9/4
please read full 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.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Back To School Personalized Books Blog Tour from #PutMeInTheStory {review and giveaway}


I'm thrilled to have the Back To School Personalized Books Blog Tour stopping by today! Below you can learn all about Put Me In The Story, their new books, and enter the awesome giveaway...

Put Me In The Story is excited to announce three new books just in time for back-to-school that feature favorite characters along with your child as they head off to school in:

Sesame Street: Off to School!
Dora Goes to School
Let’s Go to School: Hello Kitty & Me

Let your child grown and learn alongside Elmo, Dora, and Hello Kitty just in time for school!


Grab your backpack and lunch box! It is time to get ready for the first day of school with
your friends on Sesame Street. Elmo is so excited to go back to school, but he needs your help. Everything is easier with a friend by your side. Follow Elmo from bedtime to breakfast then ride the bus to see what a blast school can be! If every day is like this, you are sure to have a shining school year.

Personalize this book with a great picture and encouraging dedication message for a special reminder before your cutie heads to class.



Adventures can happen at any time, especially on the first day of school! Join your new classmates, Dora and Boots, as they journey back to school. First, you must help your teacher get to the classroom before the last bell. No problem is too big for a curious adventurer. You will run into old friends and learn fun, new things along the way. Dora will help you read, count and speak Spanish.

Personalize this book with a picture and a message to help your explorer on the path to learning. Every stellar student loves a good adventure!



Head back to school with a bright bunch of characters. Hello Kitty and her twin sister,
Mimmy, have saved a spot just for you! You will count fun objects, find letters of the alphabet, paint colorful pictures, and play with your classmates. From breakfast to the last bell, Hello Kitty turns every second into a learning moment. Show your little scholar that sharing special moments and spending quality time are lessons that do not need to be taught.

Personalize this vibrant book with a picture and dedication message for the smartest student that you know!


The wonderful folks at Put Me In The Story sent an adorable copy of their new book, Let's Go To School: Hello Kitty & Me, for review. I had the copy personalized for my two year old niece, Aeicha. 


We love personalized books, and Put Me In The Story creates some of the best we've ever seen! Let's Go To School: Hello Kitty & Me is a charming and darling book that is filled with bright and engaging images, simple and fun text, and adorable characters. From the very first pages, your child is the star of this cute story!


Little readers will love exploring each colorful and exciting page, pointing out their name and the fun objects they find. And your child will be delighted to discover their own image on one of the pages:

(see the picture hanging above Hello Kitty's bed?!)

Of course, as awesome as they illustrations are, it's all the wonderful learning found within the pages that makes this personalized book stand out! From counting, colors, and shapes, your little readers will learn so much and have a blast while doing it. 


my final thoughts: I've read many personalized books and Let's Go To School: Hello Kitty & Me is definitely a shining example of how a company does personalized AND educational right. My niece loves the captivating pictures, the unforgettable characters, and seeing herself in the pages. And I love how the book engages her mind and imagination!

I give it 5/5 yummy cupcakes

About Put Me In The Story

Put Me In The Story creates personalized versions of bestselling books featuring your favorite characters. Our gifts capture moments that matter and memories that last. With each touching picture and special dedication message, our readers have become our most dynamic characters. Don’t tell just any story, tell your own!
Put Me In The Story inspires a love for reading, across all ages and generations, through the experience of shared, personalized stories. Share a story with your family now at www.PutMeInTheStory.com.

Put Me In The Story is also hosting an Off to School with Elmo Sweepstakes! Enter via the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win:

One Grand Prize: Sesame Street Prize Pack
·         Off to School with Elmo personalized book
·         Sesame Street Hello Elmo Red Toddler Backpack
·         Sesame Street Elmo and Friends Red Lunch Bag
·         Sesame Street Elmo 12x12 Canvas Wall Art
·         Sesame Street Elmo and Friends Throw

Three Runner-up Prizes: Personalized Elmo Book
·         Off to School with Elmo personalized book

Winners will be notified September 17, 2015.
(this giveaway is not run by Word Spelunking)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Review: Appleblossom the Possum by Holly Goldberg Sloan {giveaway}

I'm excited to share my review of the charming Appleblossom the Possum today! Plus, you can win a hardcover copy...

Appleblossom the Possum
by Holly Goldberg Sloan
August 11, 2015
Dial Books
Fans of E.B. White and Dick King-Smith will adore this heartwarming and funny animal adventure by the award-winning author of Counting by 7s 

Mama has trained up her baby possums in the ways of their breed, and now it’s time for all of them—even little Appleblossom—to make their way in the world. Appleblossom knows the rules: she must never be seen during the day, and she must avoid cars, humans, and the dreaded hairies (sometimes known as dogs). Even so, Appleblossom decides to spy on a human family—and accidentally falls down their chimney! The curious Appleblossom, her faithful brothers—who launch a hilarious rescue mission—and even the little girl in the house have no idea how fascinating the big world can be. But they're about to find out!

With dynamic illustrations, a tight-knit family, and a glimpse at the world from a charming little marsupial's point of view, this cozy animal story is a perfect read-aloud and a classic in the making.

Praise for Appleblossom the Possum

“Readers will enjoy both the realistic details of a newborn possum making her way to her mother’s pouch, and the fanciful view of adult possums’ urban nightlife, complete with rooftop music and a conga line. . . . This attractive book will engage young readers intrigued by animals.”—Booklist“Insights about possums add an educational element to this otherwise comic adventure, while humorous illustrations capture the wee possums’ antics and personalities. A warm and funny possum-family saga.”—Kirkus Reviews

“A perfectly sweet animal tale, with just the right blend of humor, excitement, and uncertainty.”—School Library Journal

“Amid the homey message that family matters most, Sloan seeds the story with assorted possum facts and vocabulary lessons, but it’s the possum-as-actor metaphor . . . that generates the most fun.”—Publishers Weekly

------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Mama Possum has trained her baby possums in their possum ways the best she can. She’s taught them the art of acting (especially acting dead!), how to find food, and most importantly, how to stay away from the three monsters: cars, people, and hairies (dogs). But when it’s time for the babies to go their own way, little Appleblossom and two of her brothers, Antonio and Amlet, just aren’t ready to walk away from each other. And when Appleblossom gets a little too curious, she falls down a chimney and gets trapped inside a people monster home. Antonio, Amlet, and a surprising newcomer, set out to rescue Appleblossom...meanwhile, Appleblossom learns that maybe not all people monsters are so bad.


Holly Goldberg Sloan’s Appleblossom the Possum is a sweet, charming, and unforgettable middle-grade read! With sparkling storytelling, endearing characters, and an exciting and amusing storyline, Appleblossom the Possum is a delight from beginning to end. After jumping into Appleblossom’s world, readers will never look at possums the same way again! With vivid imagery that engages all the senses, authentic possum behavior, and age appropriate humor and thrills, Sloan crafts a captivating and fun setting. Young readers will be fascinated by this world of possums and inspired to learn more.

Sloan does a wonderful job of anthropomorphizing her animal characters and given them such big, engaging personalities! With her curiosity, unexpected bravery, and clever thinking, Appleblossom is a darling and daring heroine. I love Appleblossom’s relationship with her brothers, intelligent Antonio and amusing Amlet. And Appleblossom and Izzy’s (her new people monster friend) surprising, tender friendship will just melt your heart.

From the protective hedges to high up a tree, into the big city, across dangerous roads, in the fascinating people monsters’ home, and everywhere in between, Sloan takes Appleblossom and readers on a dazzling adventure.

my final thoughts: Appleblossom the Possum is a simply adorable little book, full of memorable characters, big adventure, and a lot of heart. Readers of all ages will fall in love with Appleblossom!

MY RATING
4/5 yummy cupcakes

Holly Goldberg Sloan was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan and spent her childhood living in Holland, Istanbul, Turkey, Washington DC, Berkeley, California and Eugene, Oregon. After graduating from Wellesley College and spending some time as an advertising copywriter, she began writing and directing family feature films, including Angels in the Outfield and Made in AmericaCounting by 7s, her first middle-grade novel, was a New York TimesBestseller. The mother of two sons, Holly lives with her husband in Santa Monica, California.

Win a hardcover copy of
Appleblossom the Possum!
The wonderful people at Penguin have offered one new hardcover copy for one winner.
DETAILS
-US only
-ends 8/31
please read full 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.