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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Series Spotlight: Savvy by Ingrid Law


I recently had the chance to binge-read Ingrid Law's spectacular middle-grade Savvy Series and fell in love! Check out my series review below to learn why this is a must read series...

Savvy
(Savvy #1)
by Ingrid Law
May 1, 2008
Penguin
Thirteen is when a Beaumont’s savvy hits—and with one brother who causes hurricanes and another who creates electricity, Mibs Beaumont is eager to see what she gets. But just before the big day, Poppa is in a terrible accident. And now all Mibs wants is a savvy that will save him. In fact, Mibs is so sure she’ll get a powerful savvy that she sneaks a ride to the hospital on a rickety bus with her sibling and the preacher’s kids in tow. After this extraordinary adventure—full of talking tattoos and a kidnapping—not a soul on board will ever be the same.
goodreads/amazon/b&n/indiebound

Scumble
(Savvy #2)
by Ingrid Law
August 17, 2010
Penguin
It’s nine years after Savvy, and Mibs’ cousin Ledge is on the verge of turning thirteen. More than anything, he wants the power to run like the wind. But when his birthday comes, he discovers that his savvy is actually making things fall apart. It starts out with small things, but then it gets worse. To top it all off, someone outside the family has witnessed his destruction. Now, in addition to trying to figure out how to control – or scumble – his savvy, he’s got to worry about how to protect the family secrets. Over the course of one amazing summer, Ledge learns a lot about himself and his family, makes a new – and very unlikely – friend, and learns to appreciate his newfound skills.

Switch
(Savvy #3)
by Ingrid Law
Sept. 15, 2015
Penguin
Gypsy Beaumont has always been a whirly-twirly free spirit, so as her thirteenth birthday approaches, she hopes to get a magical ability that will let her fly, or dance up to the stars. Instead, she wakes up on her birthday with blurry vision . . . and starts seeing flashes of the future and past. But when Momma and Poppa announce that her very un-magical, downright mean Grandma Pat has Alzheimer’s and is going to move in with them, Gypsy’s savvy—along with her family’s—suddenly becomes its opposite. Now it’s savvy mayhem as Gypsy starts freezing time, and no one could have predicted what would happen on their trip to bring Grandma Pat home  . . . not even Gypsy.
goodreads/amazon/b&n/indiebound

Praise for the Savvy Series

Boston Globe-Horn Book Award (Savvy)
Newbery Honor Book (Savvy)

“Readers will delight in the tall-tale tropes and Ledge’s authentic physical, emotional, and artistic challenges.” – Booklist, starred review

“The title stands alone in its fast-paced plot with twists and turns galore, and readers familiar with Savvy will eat it up and wish for more.” –School Library Journal

“Law has again told a story with as much heart as creativity.” –SLJ 

“Readers will be caught up in this snowy, magical adventure.” –Booklist 

Ingrid Law's wonderful Savvy Series consists of three books that can be read as stand-alones/companions. In Savvy, we meet Mibs and the extraordinary Beaumont family who, on their thirteenth birthday, get a special talent/skill called a savvy. Taking place a few years after the events in Savvy, Scumble introduces Ledger Kale, a cousin of the Beaumonts, whose unusual savvy brings him a grand adventure. And in the latest companion book, Switch, we return once again to the Beaumonts, 10 years after Savvy, and follow Gypsy Beaumont, who is now the proud thirteen year old owner of her very own savvy.

There is SO much to love about this series! Magic, adventure, heart, fantastic storytelling, unforgettable characters...this series has anything and everything you could want from middle-grade. There are those dynamite series that just crackle with the kind of magic created by their words and stories; those series that never fail to captivate you with their literary awesomeness, no matter how many times you read them...like the Harry Potter series, the Percy Jackson series, the Chronicles of Narnia. Ingrid Law's Savvy series is most definitely THAT kind of series! 

Every page of Savvy, Scumble, and Switch sparkles and shines! Law is a stellar storyteller, whose writing is full of whimsy, wit, and wonder. Law's unique language has this way of charming you with its lyrical flow and whimsical nature. This series is dripping with so much creativity and imagination. Young readers will be absolutely fascinated by the idea of a savvy and have so much fun joining Mibs, Ledger, and Gypsy on their enthralling adventures...and Savvy, Scumble, and Switch all have lots and lots of adventure! 

Law's series is bursting with magic, laughs, and thrills, but at its core, this series is all heart: from family to friendship, finding oneself, discovering the extraordinary parts within everyone, and celebrating being unique. And much of that heart comes from Law's irresistible and unforgettable characters. Readers will fall in love with these characters and want to visit them again and again!

Of course, one cannot read this series and not wonder what their savvy would be. Since a savvy tends to coincide with someone's personality and nature, I *think* my savvy would be the ability to whip up yummy cupcakes in any situation and from any ingredients on hand...how fun and awesome would that be?!

my final thoughts: I love love love this series! Ingrid Law has spun three wondrous stories and crafted one phenomenal series. Readers young and not-so-young will be enchanted by Savvy, Scumble, and Switch!

MY RATING 
(for the whole series)

5/5 yummy cupcakes

Ingrid Law is the New York Times bestselling author of two novels for young readers, Savvy and Scumble. Ingrid’s books have been placed on more than 30 state reading lists, and have earned accolades from Publishers Weekly, Oprah’s reading list, the Today Show’s Al Roker’s Book Club for Kids, and the Smithsonian. Savvy was named a Newbery Honor book in 2009. Ingrid is a huge fan of words and stories, of small towns and big ideas. She lives in Colorado, where she writes full time.





Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Random House Children’s Banned Books Week Blog Tour: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory




I'm honored to be a part of Random House Children’s Banned Books Week Blog Tour! Each stop of this tour will feature an extraordinary book that has been banned and a giveaway. You can learn more about Banned Book Week here.

For my stop, I'm discussing Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl...




Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
(Charlie Bucket #1)
by Roald Dahl
first published in 1964
Willy Wonka's famous chocolate factory is opening at last!

But only five lucky children will be allowed inside. And the winners are: Augustus Gloop, an enormously fat boy whose hobby is eating; Veruca Salt, a spoiled-rotten brat whose parents are wrapped around her little finger; Violet Beauregarde, a dim-witted gum-chewer with the fastest jaws around; Mike Teavee, a toy pistol-toting gangster-in-training who is obsessed with television; and Charlie Bucket, Our Hero, a boy who is honest and kind, brave and true, and good and ready for the wildest time of his life!
goodreads/amazon/b&n/indiebound







Like most booknerds, the idea of banning books frustrates, confuses, and saddens me greatly! Books are an invaluable, precious resource and should never be locked behind bars. And the saddest part about the act of banning books, is that many of them are meant for children and teens. These are books that matter and, whether they simply entertain; teach; help; inspire; etc, these are books that need to be in the hands of readers.

Most are familiar with Roald Dahl's charming and irresistible story about a kind boy named Charlie Bucket, his trip to the infamous Wonka Chocolate Factory, and the wild mayhem and chaos that ensues. But, you may be surprised to find out why Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has been banned and challenged in the past. This book was first banned for its depiction of the Oompa Loompas, which were originally described as African Pygmies. After this depiction was deemed racist, Dahl revised his story and created the Oompa Loompas we're used to these days. While I don't condone banning books, I am glad the Oompa Loompas were changed. However, even after the racist depictions were removed, people have still sought to challenge Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It has been challenged because  “the book espouses a poor philosophy of life” and because Charlie has no “tremendously positive traits, only an absence of negative ones” (info/quote found here). I find these claims laughable and a really ridiculous reason to want the book banned.

At its core, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is about being kind and honest, doing the right thing, family, and taking responsibility for one's actions. Like all of Dahl's unforgettable stories, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is full of heart and clever lessons to be learned. This certainly isn't a book that glorifies a "poor philosophy of life" or celebrates the mundane. And most importantly, with its laugh-out-loud humor, whimsical setting, and larger than life characters, this is a book that excels at entertaining!  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory captures and inspires the imaginations of young readers. You don't walk away from reading this book feeling poor or ordinary, you walk away craving more delicious stories!

Readers, especially young readers, need books like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and we all deserve the right to have access to such books!



Roald Dahl (1916-1990) was born in Llandaff, South Wales, and went to Repton School in England. His parents were Norwegian, so holidays were spent in Norway. As he explains in Boy, he turned down the idea of university in favor of a job that would take him to ‘a wonderful faraway place’. In 1933 he joined the Shell Company, which sent him to Mombasa in East Africa. When World War II began in 1939 he became a fighter pilot and in 1942 was made assistant air attaché in Washington, where he started to write short stories. His first major success as a writer for children was in 1964. Thereafter his children’s books brought him increasing popularity, and when he died children mourned the world over, particularly in Britain where he had lived for many years.

Win a copy of
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory!
Random House has generously offered one new copy for one winner.
DETAILS
-US only
-ends 10/4
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.


Random House Children’s Banned Book Week Blog Tour Schedule
Sunday, September 27
Monday, September 28
Tuesday, September 29
Wednesday, September 30
Thursday, October 1
  • Ex Libris – Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause
  • Alice Marvels - A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck
Friday October 2
Saturday, October 3

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Ghostlight Blog Tour {review, guest post, giveaway}


I'm thrilled to have the Ghostlight Blog Tour stopping by today! Below, you can check out my review, an author guest post, and enter the giveaway...


Ghostlight
by Sonia Gensler
August 1, 2015
Knopf
Things that go bump in the night are just the beginning when a summer film project becomes a real-life ghost story!

Avery is looking forward to another summer at Grandma’s farm, at least until her brother says he’s too old for “Kingdom,” the imaginary world they’d spent years creating. Lucky for her, there’s a new kid staying in the cottage down the road: a city boy with a famous dad, Julian’s more than a little full of himself, but he’s also a storyteller like Avery. So when he announces his plan to film a ghost story, Avery is eager to join in.

Unfortunately, Julian wants to film at Hilliard House, a looming, empty mansion that Grandma has absolutely forbidden her to enter. As terrified as Avery is of Grandma’s wrath, the allure of filmmaking is impossible to resist.

As the kids explore the secrets of Hilliard house, eerie things begin to happen, and the “imaginary” dangers in their movie threaten to become very real. Have Avery and Julian awakened a menacing presence? Can they turn back before they go too far?


Praise

". . . a delight for readers aging out of junior horror and looking for some thematic meat in their reading. Gensler neatly captures a setting that has real history behind it instead of a stage-bound backdrop . . . Frightening and engrossing."

   —Kirkus Reviews
"Ghostlight is well paced and suspenseful with a sensitive, endearing protagonist."

   —School Library Journal
"deliciously spine tingling"

   —Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books



Twelve year old Avery loves spending the summer at her Grandma’s house, but this summer is different: Avery’s older brother, Blake, says he’s too old for their imaginary world of “Kingdom”. Lucky for Avery, there’s a city boy staying with his famous father in the cottage down the way. Julian, an aspiring filmmaker, is a little hard to like, but Avery is intrigued by his desire to film a ghost story. Julian wants to film in the creepy, abandoned Hilliard House, and Avery has been strictly forbidden to enter that house...but Avery’s curiosity wins out and, along with Julian’s little sister, they set out to film an unforgettable ghostly story. Soon their ghost story starts to become all too real and scary!

Sonia Gensler’s Ghostlight is an entertaining, genuinely spooky middle-grade read, with an atmospheric setting, captivating storytelling, and likable characters. Gensler offers readers deliciously eerie frights that are scary enough to amuse and enthrall, but not too scary to give younger readers nightmares. Hilliard House provides the perfect spooktacular backdrop to both the ghost story Avery and Julian are trying to capture and the emotional story Gensler has created for her characters. Like a classic horror film, Ghostlight relies on steady pacing and subtle frights, instead of theatrical, in-your-face scares, which will keep readers eagerly and anxiously turning pages. The clever ghost story woven throughout Ghostlight is full of mystery, history, and unexpected turns.

Ghostlight isn’t all chills and thrills, though. Gensler’s characters each come with their own emotional and personal struggles, from absent parents; mental illness, regret, loneliness, etc., and, for the most part, these hard, emotional subjects are handled well. I found Gensler’s characters to be likable, engaging, and often amusing. There is quite a bit of focus on religion (both positive and negative aspects), which sometimes feels out of place or forced.

Both stories within Ghostlight (the ghost story and Avery’s story) take some interesting turns and conclude in satisfying ways.

my final thoughts: With genuine frights, an atmospheric setting, and effective storytelling, Ghostlight proves to be a captivating and enjoyable read.

MY RATING
4/5 yummy cupcakes

Setting in Ghostlight
by Sonia Gensler

All my story ideas start with setting. A particular building or location will tickle my fancy, and my writer brain soon kicks into gear. I daydream about the sort of people who would inhabit that place. Then I wonder about their joys and sorrows, in particular the conflicts they might face. The story evolves from there.

Ghostlight is set in Carver County, Tennessee, a fictional version of Stewart County, which happens to be where I grew up and where a large portion of my family still lives. My own grandmother had a wonderful farm (just like Avery’s grandmother), but I never thought of it as a setting for a story until I saw the Lylewood Inn Bed & Breakfast. This late 19th century brick mansion was a mere 20 minute drive from my grandmother’s house, but growing up I never knew it existed. It was only a few years ago that I stumbled across it, and it immediately struck me as a perfect story location. I mean—look at it!


To me there was something sinister about the way it perched on top of the hill, looking down with disdain on passersby. That sentient, secretive quality gave me a wonderfully creepy feeling. Because I was writing fiction, I created a little wrinkle in the map of Stewart County that would push my grandmother’s farm closer to Lylewood Inn. In that way I put something familiar and beloved very close to something that inspired dread. That sort of tension appealed to me as a writer—what could be spookier than adding an element of horror to a location that had always made me feel safe and secure?

=
Sonia Gensler is also the author of the young adult novels The Dark Between and The Revenant. She grew up in a small Tennessee town and spent her early adulthood collecting impractical degrees from various Midwestern universities. A former high school English teacher, she now writes full-time in Oklahoma. To learn more, and to download a free curriculum guide, visit soniagensler.com.





Win a brand new copy of
Ghostlight!
I have one new copy of this spooktacular book for one winner.
DETAILS
-US only
-ends 10/1
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.



follow the tour
Mon, Sept 14
Cracking the Cover
Tues, Sept 15
Ms. Yingling Reads
Wed, Sept 16
Charlotte's Library
Thurs, Sept 17
The Book Smugglers
Fri, Sept 18
Unleashing Readers
Mon, Sept 21
The Hiding Spot
Tues, Sept 22
Proseandkahn
Wed, Sept 23
Word Spelunking
Thurs, Sept 24
The Book Monsters
Fri, Sept 25
GreenBeanTeenQueen
Mon, Sept 28
The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia
Tues, Sept 29
Kid Lit Frenzy
Wed, Oct 1
Mother Daughter Book Club