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Sunday, March 6, 2016

(5th MMGM) Charmed by Jen Calonita (spotlight, exclusive short story, giveaway)

Charmed: Fairy Tale Reform School
by Jen Calonita
March 1, 2016
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
It takes a (mostly) reformed thief to catch a spy. Which is why Gilly Cobbler, Enchantasia’s most notorious pickpocket, volunteers to stay locked up at Fairy Tale Reform School…indefinitely. Gilly and her friends may have defeated the Evil Queen and become reluctant heroes, but the battle for Enchantasia has just begun.
Alva, aka The Wicked One who cursed Sleeping Beauty, has declared war on the Princesses, and she wants the students of Fairy Tale Reform School to join her.  As her criminal classmates give in to temptation, Gilly goes undercover as a Royal Lady in Waiting (don’t laugh) to unmask a spy…before the mole can hand Alva the keys to the kingdom.
Her parents think Gilly the Hero is completely reformed, but sometimes you have to get your hands dirty. Sometimes it’s good to be bad…

Praise for Charmed: Fairy Tale Reform School
“Fans of Calonita’s previous book in the series (Flunked, 2015) will enjoy this continuation of the story. New readers will be caught up within the first few pages thanks to a blog scroll (“Happily Ever After Scrolls”) that recurs throughout the book. Tweens who are fans of fractured fairy tales like the “Whatever After” series by Sarah Mlynowski (Scholastic) will have no problem getting into this read.” –School Library Journal
“Charming fairy-tale fun.” –Sarah Mlynowski, author of the New York Times bestselling Whatever After series

Excerpt from Charmed: Fairy Tale Reform School:
The Magic Mirror’s voice crackles throughout the school, “Let the first annual Fairy Tale Reform School WAND WHAT YOU WANT hour begin!”
        I hear students cheer and wands begin popping up in kids’ hands as we walk through the halls. POP! My wand arrives in my hand; long, dark-gray and nicked like its seen a few battles. What to try first… I’m just about test the wand out, when I feel the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I dive out of the way just as a classmate casts a spell on the girl next to me, turning her into an ice sculpture.
        POP! POP! POP! Kids begin casting all around me. The crowded hallways is suddenly full of talking woodland creatures, toads, fireworks, and a pretty impressive cloud raining licorice. Kids are cheering, fighting, and the sound of all those wands working is enough to give me a headache.
        The chaotic hallway disappears and a new empty hall arrives in its place. The magic hallways are always changing for security reasons, but I happen to know this hall leads to the school courtyard. More students appear and new spells begin zapping around me. I run out into the quiet school courtyard to test out my wand in peace. The warm sun is shining bright high above the castle walls, making me wistful for adventure. I can never sit still for long.
        “We hope you enjoy your wand experience, but remember, all wands disappear at the hour mark so choose your magic wisely,” I hear Miri continue. I’m relieved to find no mirror in the courtyard, which means she can’t see what I’m up to. That magic mirror is forever tattling on students for bad behavior. “Flying is not advised.”
        “Not advised, but she didn’t say it was against the rules,” I say to myself. I flick the wand over my stuffy, uncomfortable pale blue uniform and turn it into a comfy peasant shirt and pants. I get rid of my ugly school shoes and swap them out for my beloved high-lace up boots. Now that I’m comfortable, I get to the task at hand. I’m sure an actual spell would work better, but since I don’t know one, I just imagine myself flying and bam! I’m slowly floating up, up, up in the air. Score!
        A Pegasus flies by pulling a coach with four students in it.
        “HI GILLY!” they shout and wave.
        When you save your school from a wicked fairy, people tend to remember your name. Even if you don’t remember theirs.
        “Hi!” I say, lying back like I’m floating on a cloud. Wow, this is relaxing. I stretch my arms wide and -- oops!
        My wand falls from my grasp. Uh oh. I begin to plummet, spinning, faster and faster with no sign of stopping. Before I can even think of a way to break my fall, WHOOSH! I feel my body hit a blanket, bounce up, then land again on a magic carpet being steered by my friend Jax.
        “Ten minutes into WAND WHAT YOU WANT and you’ve already had a near death experience?” Jax says, a glint in his violet eyes. His curly blond hair looks white in the bright sunlight. “You’re getting sloppy.”
        “I’m not getting sloppy!” I’m seriously offended by that statement. “How’d you even know where to find me?”
        “I thought to myself, ‘What would Gilly do with wand access for an hour?’ and I knew right away you’d try to sneak home for a bit,” Jax says.
        My usual partner in crime steers our magic carpet over the castle walls and across the vast school grounds. Below I can see students fanned out on castle rooftops, in the garden mazes, near the lake, all casting away with various results. Jax flies the carpet faster, the wind whipping our hair and making it hard to see. I push the hair away from my eyes and strain to see home. There, beyond the gleaming pillars of Royal Court, where the princesses who rule our kingdom live, is my small village of Enchantasia. Somewhere down there, my family is working, playing and hopefully missing me as much as I miss them. The carpet is nearing the Hollow Woods which separates us and the village--CRACKLE! Our magic carpet is stopped by an invisible wall that keeps us from escaping school grounds. Clever of Flora to put the barricade up during wand training. Oh well. Leaving was a long-shot, but maybe I could wave my wand and at least see what my family was up to. “My wand! I realize. “I need to go get it.”

Flunked: Fairy Tale Reform School
Available Now in Hardcover and Trade paper
Would you send a villain to do a hero’s job?
Gilly wouldn’t call herself wicked, exactly…but when you have five little brothers and sisters and live in a run-down boot, you have to get creative to make ends meet. Gilly’s a pretty good thief (if she does say so herself).
Until she gets caught.
Gilly’s sentenced to three months at Fairy Tale Reform School where all of the teachers are former (super-scary) villains like the Big Bad Wolf, the Evil Queen, and Cinderella’s Wicked Stepmother. Harsh. But when she meets fellow students Jax and Kayla, she learns there’s more to this school than its heroic mission. There’s a battle brewing and Gilly has to wonder: can a villain really change?

About the Author:
Jen Calonita is the author of the Secrets of My Hollywood Life series and other books like Sleepaway Girls andSummer State of Mind, but Fairy Tale Reform School is her first middle-grade series. She rules Long Island, New York, with her husband Mike, princes Tyler and Dylan, and Chihuahua Captain Jack Sparrow, but the only castle she’d ever want to live in is Cinderella’s at Disney World. She’d love for you to visit her at jencalonitaonline.comand keep the fairy-tale fun going at

Win a set of Fairy Tale Reform School 
Books 1-2!
-US/CAN only
-ends 3/31
-2 winners will each get a set
-this giveaway is run by sourcebooks
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Exclusive Short Story by Jen Calonita

From the Private Scrolls of Headmistress Flora at Fairy Tale Reform School

The Transformation of the Big Bad Wolf (hence forth known as Professor Xavier Wolfington)

Evilness Scale: 9 out of 10
Most Famous Evil Act: Stalking then eating Granny and Little Red Riding Hood
Update: Thankfully, that hunter was able to rescue the pair (or was he a lumberjack? I am not sure. Red and Granny are still too traumatized to discuss the situation). The scene was so chaotic, some say the Wolf was cut open to rescue Red and Granny, others say they found Granny in a closet and Red unharmed. Either way, the Wolf got away and has been stalking victims every full moon ever since. Red, meanwhile, took up martial arts and became a black belt in karate. She now owns Red’s Ready for Anything shop where her gadgets aid in self-defense. I have bought a kit for my plans today.
Update this AM: Pete, the Dwarf Police Squad chief and his aid, Olaf, have helped me set a trap for the Wolf at the cottage of Daniel, the boy who cries wolf, who the Wolf has been stalking. At the first sign of the full moon, we hope to finally apprehend this villain once and for all.
My heart is pounding out of my chest. My face is sweaty and looks very unlady-like. My neck feels itchy, but I suspect that’s just because I’m wearing Daniel’s red and blue plaid scarf. Daniel, otherwise known as the boy who cries wolf in these parts, was more than happy to part with his signature item in the hopes the scent would lead the Wolf to me instead of him. At least, that’s what Red and I are hoping. She’s outfitted me with all of her Wolf-protection items and given me specific instructions on how to lure the Wolf into our trap. It’s the first time she’s ever remotely discussed what happened that day the Wolf attacked her and Granny. I shudder at the thought. This is my most dangerous transformation attempt of a villain yet. If my girls knew where I was, they’d give up their finest gowns to stop me. I hope.
Red does not believe I can do this. Pete does not believe we can tame the beast either.
I, however, love a good challenge.
And, truth be told, I desperately need more teachers at Fairy Tale Reform School. If we can transform this wolf, he’d be our greatest asset yet.
The tiny magical ear bud Red outfitted me with crackles to life. “This is Pete the Great radioing Step-Monster. Over!”
I tap the ear bud to make sure I heard him right. “Peter, did you just call me a step-monster?”
“Er….no, Headmistress! I said, stepmother. It’s a code name. Nothing more.”
“Well, lets concentrate less on code names and more on being on the watch for the Wolf, shall we?” I am sitting in a rocking chair facing the fireplace, not the door, so the Wolf can only see the back of my head when he comes in. I’m wearing a cap like Daniel’s on my head, the scarf and men’s clothes. Why they prefer pants is beyond me. They’re so constricting! I shrink down lower in the chair so I look short. “Pete? Did you hear what I just said?” I ask, taping the ear bud again. A light crosses the fireplace and I look up at the nearest window. Through the trees, I can see the full moon rising. “Pete? Are you there?”
The ear bud crackles like lightening and I hear a lot of movement.
“Pete?” I say louder, my heart beginning to pound. Maybe I should have taken Harlow up on her offer to join me tonight. She’s not fully transformed herself yet so I worried about her safety, but now I’m beginning to worry about my own. “Pete!”
“Headmistress! He’s here!” I hear Pete whisper so quietly it comes out as a hiss. “He’s moving towards the cottage. Olaf! Get down! Get down! He’s hideous…holy crumb cake, he’s huge! And those fangs…he’s sniffing for something. He’s…”
The lone wolf cry is enough to send shudders through my whole body. I’m beginning to regret this decision. What if Red’s charms don’t work? What if my reflexes are too slow? What if--
SMACK! I hear the door to the cottage fly off its hinges as the Wolf enters. I tap my magical ear bud, which Pete is now yelling into, to turn down the volume so I can hear the Wolf’s every breath.
“HOWWW-LLL!” The wolf cries again. “Daniel! We meet at last!” he growls, sniffing the air as his large, hairy paws move closer to my rocking chair. I close my eyes and imagine the sight of him. Half man, half wolf in the full moon, he spends his days mostly staying in wolf form, I’m told, which is his more menacing side. Villagers say he wasn’t always like this. He was once a man. A man at the wrong place at the wrong time who is now cursed with this werewolf life. It will be up to me to see if there is still a man in there left saving.
“Daniel?” he says in a throaty voice that drips with snarls. “No last words to say before I devour you whole? No pleading for your life? That is always my favorite part.” I feel his hands pull the rocking chair back so that I’m about to lean backwards. “No? Oh well. We’ll just get this meal over with.”
“NOW!” I cry and Pete and Olaf thankfully burst through the open cottage door at the same time I jump out of my chair and point the wand directly at the Wolf. His yellow eyes open in surprise as the gingerroot laced tightly with silver hits his body. His snout opens in a howl of anger. From behind, Olaf shoots another round of gingerroot laced with silver and the effect is exactly as Red predicted. It holds him firmly in place, mid-pounce, hairy paws ready to attack. With another wave of the wand, I produce the elvian berries and watch them levitate towards his slimy, salivating mouth and drop down among his two rows of gnarly teeth.
“Chew!” I command the Wolf with the use of my wand and despite his visible struggle, the elvian berries slide down his throat.
I step back, watching the Wolf begin to transform as the moon disappears behind the clouds. Pete and Olaf are as amazed as I am at this sudden reversal. The Wolf’s snout begins to recede, his hairy body loses much of its long, fur and he begins to look less like a wolf and more like a man, especially when his teeth return to normal size and his eyes stopping glowing yellow. Within minutes, I’m staring into the blue eyes of a frightened man.
“What…how did you just do that?” he asks in a soft voice I wasn’t expecting. He stares down at his hands. Still hairy, but considerably less so. His clothes are tattered and ripped, but they were before the transformation. He looks like a shell of a man, but a man no less.
“How does not matter, it is the why that does,” I say simply, my heart beginning to slow now that I know I’m out of immediate danger. I can see the glow of the gingerroot beginning to fade as the herb begins to lose its effect on him. It can’t hold creatures as long as it holds humans. “I’m here to help you.”
He sighs deeply and runs a hand through his long mane of hair. “I assure you, madam, there is no helping me. Run, while you still can, before your magic loses its potency and I return to my original form. There is no help for me.”
“That’s where you’re wrong, Wolf,” I say and I watch him cringe at the sound of his so-called name. “Those are elvian berries, from the deepest trees of Hollow Woods. Nearly impossible to find, but we have procured an extensive collection of them to help you. The ether in those berries can suppress your wolf side.”
“That can’t be,” he says and his arms begin to break free. “Nothing can do that! I searched for years when I could, but was told there was no cure.”
“Not a cure, a solution,” I correct him. “There’s a difference. These berries can help you be a man again, but you will never fully be rid of your wolf side. You’ll have to work to keep it contained. Work to make amends for the pain and suffering you put so many through.”
For a moment, I see the pain in his face, but then his expression turns wolfish. “A man again? And why would I want to be that? Will Enchantasia suddenly welcome me with open arms once I’m in human form?” His arms open wide and he laughs. “Who will hire the wolf that eats all the customers?” His legs break free and he moves towards the doorway. Pete and Olaf scurry out of the way and drop their weapons in the process. Typical. “Forget it,” the Wolf growls. “I’m not interested.”
I stare at the wand in my hands. “Red said you wouldn’t be.”
He slowly turns around. If he’s trying to hide his emotions, he’s doing a terrible job. “Red?” he says, the pain in his face visible.
“Yes, you remember her and Granny, do you not? Your first almost-victims are now thriving. Red owns a shop that helps others protect themselves from the likes of you and other dark forces. I went to her to discuss my plan to transform you and have you work at Fairy Tale Reform School. She said you’d never do it.”
“You should have listened to the girl,” the Wolf growls. “She was right.”
“She said the guilt you had over what you had done to her and to others made you prefer to stay a wolf rather than face your crimes and ask for forgiveness,” I explain. “You can’t live with what you did. I can’t say I blame you.” His face falls. “The pain you will feel as you recount the wrongs you have done will be no picnic, but if you can mend your ways, maybe you can save other villainous children from the same lonely fate.”
He looks thoughtful for a moment, then shakes his head violently. “No. It’s too late for me. Save someone else instead.”
“I want to save you,” I insist as Pete looks at me like I’ve eaten too much mulberry pie. “Red doesn’t think you can be saved, but she still wanted to help me try. How do you think an older woman like myself was able to get these Elvian berries in the middle of a dark forest? Red gathered them for me in her basket.”
“She did?” the Wolf asks quietly and I nod.
I’m getting through to him! I know it.
But then that pesky moon begins to pull away from the clouds again.
I see the Wolf’s eyes begin to change and his hair begin to grow.
“Headmistress, it’s too late,” Pete says, backing through the door with Olaf at his side. “We only had enough for a short dose tonight. He’s a lost cause.”
“He’s not!” I thunder. I walk closer to the Wolf as he begins to transform, knowing if I’m wrong about him, I could be his last supper. “You can do this!” I insist. “Fight the urge! I have enough Elvian berries on me to get you through this night, but you have to want to win this battle against the darkness.” His face begins to bubble and change and his snout begins to grow. “If you do, I’ll help you.” I watch his nails begin to yellow and grow into sharp claws. “You’ll come work and live with me at Fairy Tale Reform School. You can have a life again! You just have to want it bad enough.” I take his hand and squeeze, feeling it grow and change beneath my fingers.
“HOWWW-LLL!” escapes from the Wolf’s lips and I worry I’ve made the wrong choice, but then his snout clamps shut, he holds his breath, and pushes his feet deeper into the floor, his nails scratching the wood. He grits his teeth and suddenly the hair and nails begin to recede again. He’s doing it! The Wolf is trying! That’s all I can ask for at this moment.
I wand the final batch of Elvian berries into his mouth and see him swallow quickly. Slowly, he begins to look like a man again. “Thanks,” he says in a weary half-growl.
I smile and motion for Pete and Olaf to help me get the Wolf out of there. “Don’t thank me just yet. You have a lot of work to do.”


Slowsly said...

I love the name Gilly Cobbler! It sounds like a fun adventure.

Mark said...

Sounds like a fun adventure series.

Unknown said...

I would like to be friends with Belle from Beauty and the Beast. We could talk books. ;)

Unknown said...

I've been wanting to read this one too!