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Word Spelunking’s temporary hiatus is now permanent. All requests are closed and there will be no new content. Thank you to everyone I’ve worked with and everyone who has read and supported this blog. Y’all are awesome!!

Aeicha @ Word Spelunking

Monday, August 26, 2019

Dead Voices Blog Tour (review & baking project)

Dead Voices 
(Small Spaces #2) 
By Katherine Arden 
Penguin Random House 
Source: ARC from pub 

Bestselling author Katherine Arden returns with another creepy, spine-tingling adventure in this follow-up to the critically acclaimed Small Spaces. 

Having survived sinister scarecrows and the malevolent smiling man in Small Spaces, newly minted best friends Ollie, Coco, and Brian are ready to spend a relaxing winter break skiing together with their parents at Mount Hemlock Resort. But when a snowstorm sets in, causing the power to flicker out and the cold to creep closer and closer, the three are forced to settle for hot chocolate and board games by the fire. 

Ollie, Coco, and Brian are determined to make the best of being snowed in, but odd things keep happening. Coco is convinced she has seen a ghost, and Ollie is having nightmares about frostbitten girls pleading for help. Then Mr. Voland, a mysterious ghost hunter, arrives in the midst of the storm to investigate the hauntings at Hemlock Lodge. Ollie, Coco, and Brian want to trust him, but Ollie's watch, which once saved them from the smiling man, has a new cautionary message: BEWARE. 

With Mr. Voland's help, Ollie, Coco, and Brian reach out to the dead voices at Mount Hemlock. Maybe the ghosts need their help--or maybe not all ghosts can or should be trusted. 

Dead Voices is a terrifying follow-up to Small Spaces with thrills and chills galore and the captive foreboding of a classic ghost story. 

With their terrifying encounter with the dangerous smiling man and his scarecrows closely behind them, new BFFS, Ollie; Coco; and Brian, along with Ollie’s dad and Coco’s mom, are headed to a ski vacation at the newly reopened Mount Hemlock Resort. But their vacation soon takes a sinister turn when a powerful snowstorm traps them inside the resort and a ghost hunter shows up spinning ghostly tales about the resort. Soon those tales become reality and the three friends find themselves running from ghosts and trying to figure out why Ollie’s not-so-normal watch is telling them BEWARE. 

Katherine Arden follows up her excellent Small Spaces with another spooktacularly spine-tingling middle-grade adventure! Captivating storytelling, likable characters, and an exciting fast pace make Dead Voices an exhilarating page turner. 

It’s no secret that young readers crave the fun of awesomely scary stories, so Dead Voices will certainly not disappoint. With a lushly eerie atmosphere, this book is genuinely spooky in all the right and age-appropriate ways. From a creeptastic setting with a perfectly twisted backstory to a deliciously frightful ghost story, unpredictable twists, and imaginative horror elements, Dead Voices is dripping with more than enough chills and thrills to keep even the most reluctant reader on the edge of their seat.  

I really enjoyed getting to know Ollie, Coco, and Brian even better in this sequel. Young readers will find these three friends comfortingly relatable, awesomely capable, and a lot of fun to tag along with. Ollie’s dad and Coco’s mom make for interesting secondary characters and I’m already fully invested in their side story. 

Dead Voices wraps up one wicked adventure nicely, while excitedly setting up future stories...which is definitely a good thing because readers are going to be hungry for more! 

5/5 Cupcakes

Born in Austin, Texas, Katherine Arden spent a year of high school in Rennes, France. Following her acceptance to Middlebury College in Vermont, she deferred enrollment for a year in order to live and study in Moscow. At Middlebury, she specialized in French and Russian literature. After receiving her BA, she moved to Maui, Hawaii, working every kind of odd job imaginable, from grant writing and making crepes to guiding horse trips. Currently, she lives in Vermont, but really, you never know. 


Y'all know that I love cupcakes almost as much as I love books, so for this blog tour Little A and I made cupcakes inspired by Dead Voices:

The cupcakes are a white cake base with hot chocolate mix and tiny marshmallows inside: the white mix for the snowstorm in the book and the hot chocolate because the characters love it. Two of the cupcakes are decorated with a swirl of buttercream frosting in colors inspired by the cover and marshmallow ghosts! And of course, the other cupcake is decorated to look like yummy hot chocolate, with a dollop of "whip cream" (buttercream), some hot cocoa powder, sprinkled on top, mini marshmallows, and a straw. I think Ollie, Coco, Brian, and Ollie's Dad (who loves to cook) would approve!

Blog Tour Schedule

Week One
August 19 – The Midnight Society – Inspiration Collage
August 20 – Fangirl Fury – Review + Inspired by the Book: Baking Recipe
August 21 – Teachers Who Read – Reviews + Author Guest Post: Why spooky for middle grade readers?
August 22 – Bookishgals – Creative Instagram Picture
August 23 – Liezel and Angie’s Book Blog – Review

Week Two
August 26 – Word Spelunking – Inspired by the Book: Baking Project
August 27 – By Hook or By Book – Review
August 28 – Vicariously & Voraciously  
August 29 – The Book Deviant – Review

Thursday, August 22, 2019

8th Blogiversary Giveaway!

Word Spelunking turns 
8 years old today!

Y'all, this blogiversary sneaked up on me like a ninja. Seriously, I didn't even realize today was my blogiversary until I was scrolling through my memories posts on Facebook. But holy cupcakes, I can't believe I've been running this little blog for 8 whole years. So much has changed in 8 years and so many awesome things have happened for me because of Word Spelunking. 

I want to thank everyone who has made the last 8 years so much fun. To every author, publisher, publicist, assistant, PR manager, etc, a giant thank you for continuing to send books and products for review, offer giveaways, invite me to blog tours, and more! And to every reader who has stopped by, entered giveaways, left comments, and interacted with me on social media, I send to you a bunch of hugs!! I look forward to joining all of you for more bookish fun in the coming years.

Now to celebrate...

One winner will get a $10 gift card of their choice!

-open to anyone who can receive a gift card via email
-will end 10/23/19
-winner will be emailed and must claim prize within 48 hours
-all entry requirements will be checked and any cheaters will be disqualified

Fill out Rafflecopter form to enter please:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

The Jumbie God's Revenge Blog Tour (excerpt)

The Jumbie God’s Revenge 
(The Jumbies #3) 
By Tracey Baptiste 
September 3, 2019 
Algonquin Young Readers 

In book three of the popular Jumbies series, Corinne must use her emerging supernatural powers to battle the angry god who would destroy her Caribbean island home. 

When an out-of-season hurricane sweeps through Corinne’s seaside village, Corinne knows it’s not a typical storm. At first Corinne believes Mama D’Leau—the powerful and cruel jumbie who rules the ocean—has caused the hurricane. Then a second, even more ferocious storm wrecks the island, sending villagers fleeing their houses for shelter in the mountains, and Corinne discovers the storms weren’t caused by a jumbie, but by the angry god Huracan. 

Now Corinne, with the help of her friends and even some of her enemies, must race against time to find out what has angered Huracan and try to fix it before her island home is destroyed forever. 

Excerpt from The Jumbie's God Revenge

1 The Horizon 

Corinne La Mer leapt from one tall coconut tree to another. Nothing but air surrounded her and there was only the sand and a few sharp rocks below. She landed on the rough trunk of the tree, slapping it hard with her palms and then wrapping her legs around it. She slipped and felt a rush of panic rise to her throat until she got the soles of her feet flat against the bark to grip her in place. Corinne looked down at the beach. Mrs. Duval, in a bright purple headwrap and a loose white blouse and colorful skirt, shaded her eyes as she peered into the tree. “Don’t injure yourself before you get my coconuts, please,” she teased Corinne. 

Next to Mrs. Duval was Corinne’s friend Malik. He shaded his face with a small hand, watching Corinne as she moved. His older brother, Bouki, wasn’t looking her way at all. He was focused on the road, hoping for one last customer before they called it a morning. Corinne caught her breath and returned to her task. It was dizzyingly high at the top of the coconut trees. Even in the shade of their large fan-like leaves, and with the sea breeze blowing to shore, the heat had her drenched in sweat. She panted as she reached up for a thick, yellow coconut. She twisted and twisted it until the tough stem snapped and then looked down to see where Malik was waiting to catch it, but the coconut slipped from her sweat-slick palm. “Watch out!” she cried. Malik stepped nimbly out of the way, but Bouki, busily counting Mrs. Duval’s coins, didn’t hear her warning. The coconut grazed the side of his arm and dropped near his foot. “You nearly killed me!” he yelled. “I said ‘watch out.’” Corinne carefully climbed back down the sloping trunk. She had skinned the insides of her thighs climbing down before and had learned to use the soles of her feet to keep her body away from the bark. When she was close enough to the bottom, she pushed off the tree and landed near Bouki, who had lopped off the top of the coconut with a machete and passed it to Mrs. Duval. 

Mrs. Duval shook the coconut and screwed up her face. “All these coconuts dry, dry these days. I thought it was rainy season already.” She peered up into the tree again. “Aren’t there any more up there?” Bouki patted the trunk. “We only have what nature gives us,” he said. “And whatever else you can grab,” Mrs. Duval added. Bouki put on a fake look of offense as he pocketed her money, but it was not news to anyone that Bouki and Malik used to be thieves. “They’re reformed,” Corinne said. “Hmm. Reformed,” Mrs. Duval repeated, looking at the boys out of the corner of her eye. She sniffed the opening of the coconut and first sipped, then tipped it back and drank long. When she finally came up for air, there was a look of satisfaction on her face, but only for a moment. “You should go back to selling oranges,” Mrs. Duval said to Corinne. “Nothing on the island compares to your oranges.” Corinne blushed, but her gaze flitted over the waves, and the compliment faded quickly. “I can’t only sell oranges, Mrs. Duval,” she said. “It’s not good business.” “Ah, of course,” Mrs. Duval said, smiling. She turned to the beach, where a band of children played on the sand. She waved at them to catch their attention, and then pointed with the whole length of her arm to a pink house. They all went running. 

Corinne waved at Laurent, the oldest of the bunch, who played cricket with her when he wasn’t doing chores or watching his younger siblings. “I can send him along later,” Mrs. Duval said. “If you want to play.” Corinne shook her head. “Maybe another time.” “You know,” Mrs. Duval said, leaning in close. “You can’t watch the waves forever.” When Corinne didn’t answer, Mrs. Duval picked up all her coconuts by the stems and walked behind her children to their house. The sea was bright blue and the sun reflected off the choppy waves in dazzling silver and gold. In the line of fishing boats near the horizon, Corinne could just make out her papa’s, even though it was impossible to see its bright yellow color. She had memorized the shape of it, so she could always pick out her papa on the waves. “He’s safe, you know,” Bouki said. “For now,” Corinne replied. “You worry too much.” Corinne turned from the sea to look at her friend. There had been a time when she didn’t worry. That was before her orange trees bore their first fruit, when she and her papa had their routine. He would wake her up in the morning and tell her to be careful on land, and she would tell him to mind that the sea didn’t swallow him up, and they would both promise to be safe. But then Severine came. She was beautiful at first, dreadful at their last encounter, and with her came all of the jumbies. “You don’t worry enough,” Corinne told Bouki. She clutched the stone pendant of the necklace that hung near her heart, and rubbed its cracked surface with her thumb. Corinne hadn’t believed in jumbies before Severine followed her out of the forest. She thought they were only stories that grown-ups told to scare the children on the island, stories about things that came out at night so little ones would stay in their beds. But then she encountered creatures with backward feet, women who shed their skin, and men covered in spiky fur with teeth as sharp as daggers. There was a jumbie who cared for the woods, and one who lived beneath the waves who would turn anyone into stone at a glance and who ruled the mermaids in the sea. Corinne had seen them all. But worse than that, she had witnessed their power, and she understood just how easy it was to succumb to any one of them. She had nearly lost her papa to Severine, and Bouki to Mama D’Leau. It was enough to make anyone worry. Months ago, when Corinne had dragged Severine into the sea and left her there, she had been sure that it was only a matter of time before the sea spat Severine back out. “The sea doesn’t keep anything, Corinne,” her papa had told her. So today, and every day, she stayed near the shore watching the waves and waiting. 

Corinne nicked the skin of her thumb on a sharp edge of her stone necklace. The stone had been her mama’s, and after Corinne had broken it, her papa had wrapped it in leather to hold it together again. In the months since, Corinne had rubbed some of the cracks smooth, but the stone did not soothe her like it used to. “What is it we are looking for?” an old woman asked. She had appeared out of nowhere and stood next to them in the shade of the coconut tree. “Witch!” Bouki said. The witch picked up her walking stick and brought it down with force on Bouki’s right foot. The sparse few strands of her short white hair shook with her jab. Bouki doubled over to nurse his foot and looked daggers at the white witch, but he knew enough not to say anything else. “Good morning, neighbor,” Corinne said. The witch knocked her walking stick on the trunk of the tree and squinted up at the fruit. “Any more good ones left?” she asked. “All green,” Corinne said. The witch nodded. “I don’t mind the young ones.” Malik scrambled up the tree. The witch leaned against the trunk, letting her stick rest against its curve. She rubbed her left arm slowly. Everything about the white witch looked like it was near expiration: the sun-bleached pattern on her dress, the threadbare wrap that tied her head, the few drooping twists of short white hair that refused to be contained in her headwrap. Even the skin of her body sagged loose around her bones as if it might detach and crumple around her at any moment. No one knew how old the white witch was. Even the oldest people in the villages remembered her as ancient when they were young. Corinne watched the witch massage her damaged arm. It was even more shriveled and grayer than the rest of her, as if the life had been leached out of it. But at the end of her arm, her hand seemed more vibrant. Her fingers curled and stretched in short, jerking movements. “Your hand is getting stronger,” Corinne said. “There’s only two ways for a thing to go,” the witch said. “Better, or worse.” She stretched and bent her fingers as she looked out to sea. “What you looking out at the sea for? You already know what is under the water.” Before Corinne could find an answer, Malik jumped to the ground holding a coconut with just the barest hint of yellow on the husk. He macheted the top off before presenting it to the witch. The witch’s tongue jumped out in anticipation, flicking over her thin, dry lips. She took the husk in her good hand and drank deeply. Some of the water dribbled out the sides of her mouth, past a patch of gray chin-stubble, and down the dark, wrinkled folds of her throat, which made jerking movements like fresh fish bundled in a net. 

She downed the entire contents in one go. Then she handed the coconut back to Malik. He moved to cut it open, but she shook her head. “There’s nothing there,” she said. She seemed to be discussing the sea, not the lack of jelly in the coconut. Without another word, the witch shuffled off, kicking up pale sand. “Didn’t I say that, brother?” Bouki asked. “Didn’t I tell her that nothing was going to happen?” “Is that what I said?” the witch called over her shoulder. She maneuvered back around to face them. “Dunce. Who ever said nothing is going to happen?” She lifted her cane with some difficulty and gestured around her. Her loose dress rippled in the wind. “Something is always happening.” She moved her mouth in a way that made Corinne think she was rearranging her teeth before she continued. “Boy, nothing is as dull as you.” “You think something else is going to happen,” Corinne said. The witch shot her the same look of disdain she had turned on Bouki. “Something is happening right now,” she said. “And a moment after that something will happen again.” She cut her eyes at Bouki again. “Maybe you are spending too much time with this one. You were smarter when you were coming to the market alone. You will miss things if you keep wasting time standing guard at the sea. You think this is the only piece of shore? The only spread of water?” She stretched her ruined fingers again and muttered, “Only two ways for things to go, better or worse. And there’s nothing you can do about it.” They watched the witch as she bent the corner around a grove of coconut trees. It was only after she was out of sight that Bouki shouted, “She didn’t pay!” 

credit: Latifah Abdur Photography
Tracey Baptiste lived in Trinidad until she was fifteen; she grew up on jumbie stories and fairy tales. She is a former teacher who works as a writer and editor. Visit her online at and on Twitter: @TraceyBaptiste.