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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Interview and Giveaway: Janet McLaughlin, author of the YAlit Fireworks

Fireworks by Janet McLaughlin
Dreams aren’t real. Psychic teen Zoey Christopher knows the difference between dreams and visions better than anyone, but ever since she and her best friend returned from spring vacation, Zoey’s dreams have been warning her that Becca is in danger. But a dream isn’t a vision—right?
Besides, Zoey has other things to worry about, like the new, cute boy in school. Dan obviously has something to hide, and he won’t leave Zoey alone—even when it causes major problems with Josh, Zoey’s boyfriend. Is it possible he knows her secret?
Then, one night, Becca doesn’t answer any of Zoey’s texts or calls. She doesn’t answer the next morning either. When Zoey’s worst fears come true, her only choice is to turn to Dan, whom she discovers has a gift different from her own but just as powerful. Is it fate? Will using their gifts together help them save Becca or will the darkness win?

Discover what’s real and what’s just a dream in “Fireworks,” book two of the Soul Sight Mysteries!

Q1. What three words best describe your book, Fireworks?
Exciting romantic mystery.

Q2. Grab a copy of Fireworks and answer the following:
Favorite chapter?
Chapter 28, where Zoey takes courageous action to save her friend but then feels angst over what she has just done.

Favorite page?
The last page. It’s “truly fireworks,” and I guess I’m an incurable romantic at heart.

Favorite setting/place?
The Moretti kitchen where I can almost smell the aroma of Maria’s sauce. I may not like to cook, but I love to eat!

Flip to a random page and give us a 1-2 sentences teaser:
Dan and the bald man are walking across the deck. He has a gun pressed against Dan’s back!

Q3. What inspired your Soul Sight Mysteries series? How did the story come to be?
I love telling this story. My husband and I published several local magazines. As publisher/editor, I was in the position to do any type of interview I wanted. We had a Body/Mind/Spirit section so I sought out several intuitives that lived in the area. (Sarasota, Florida, has a very active spiritual community.) All of the intuitives I interviewed had issues as teens with their gift. Even their families didn’t believe in them. So they would hide it, or fight it, or even “forget” about their gift only, to embrace it later in life. Their stories were the inspiration for my character, Zoey.

Q4. Can you tell us a bit about your heroine, Zoey? What makes her special, and what do you love about her?
Zoey Christopher is the girl I always wanted to be. Imagine having the ability to help people by “seeing” the potential future and doing all you can to stave off danger and save the day. (I say “potential” because our free will means everything on earth is subject to change.) I admire her innate honesty with herself and others, her kindness, and her humility—all things I strive for and so often fall short of accomplishing. But I can do all things through Zoey!

Q5. If you were psychic, like Zoey, what would you use your abilities for?
I sincerely hope I would do as Zoey does and use them for the good of others. She’s the better half of me.

Q6. What’s next for Zoey and the Soul Sight Mysteries?
I’ve just started on the next book in the series, but where would be the mystery if I gave it away here? Let’s just say there’s romance, angst, tragedy, and—of course—resolution in the end, with maybe just a hint of a new problem to come in the future.

Q7. Fill in the blanks:
I’m really awesome at being a loyal friend.
I’m really embarrassed to admit that I’m—here goes—sigh—vain.
The last great book I read was the entire Harry Potter series.

Q8. If you were to create and a bake a cupcake inspired by Fireworks what would it look and taste like, and what would you call it?
Oh no! I’m a horrible cook! Okay, it would be BIG, because I love cupcakes. It would be chocolate with swirls of color in the icing, because fireworks are set off at night (hence the chocolate) and colorful. Someone else would bake it so it would be delicious. I would call it “Dan’s Secret.”

Janet McLaughlin is the author of the Soul Sight Mysteries series, including “Haunted Echo” and “Fireworks.” She has been involved in the communication field most of her adult life as a writer, editor, and teacher. Her love of mysteries and the mystical are evident in her novels. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and the Florida Writers Association. She lives in Florida with her husband, Tom, and along with writing enjoys playing tennis, walking, traveling, and meeting people.

Win a digital copy of Fireworks from
One winner will be sent an ebook copy.
US only
Ends 8/4/17
Winner will be emailed and gifted digital book from Amazon.
Winner must claim prize within 48 hours
Fill out Rafflecopter form to enter:
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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Guest Post & Giveaway: Irma the Inventor by Kim Kasch

Irma the Inventor
By Kim Kasch

How many kids do you know who can build robotic spiders out of scrap metal, develop a substance that’s stronger than steel, or crash a cyber-wizard's computer from an undetectable monitor? Irma the Inventor can but all she really wants is to make some friends and blend in. But, no matter how hard she tries, Irma always seems to stand out—NOT in a good way.
Irma’s minions bring back thoughts of Terminator…okay in a much less lethal way, but who wouldn’t want to be able to build their own personal bodyguard or create a pet that will live forever?
Those are the sorts of questions Irma the Inventor asks and then answers. That’s a good thing because women are lagging far behind men when it comes to careers in computer science. And robotics is an interesting field that blends mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and computer science together and manages to spit out a mechanical (wo)man in the end.
Irma the Inventor just might inspire a few young girls to study a career in the S.T.E.M. fields because Irma actually creatures her own robotic creatures and (SPOILER ALERT) even ends up a hero by the end of the story.
So, if you’re interested in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math you might just fall in love with IRMA THE INVENTOR and, even if you aren’t interested in anything S.T.E.M. related, you might enjoy this story of surprising friendships and even learn a thing or three all while laughing on the journey through middle school mania.

I want to send a HUGE shout out to Aeicha for giving me the opportunity to share Irma the Inventor in a post for Word Spelunking. And I’m hoping Irma will help inspire a few of you to read more…maybe even something about S.T.E.M. careers.
See, I'm a writer who grew up in a family with 9 kids and only 1 t.v. so I spent my days reading and, later, writing. I love books. . .maybe because I never got to pick t.v. shows we watched. But I’d run home after school to catch the last fifteen minutes of Dark Shadows...
 I still love to run...and read. My favorite romance novels are The Hunger Games...okay, I know, it's a survival book but it's really all about romance. Then there were the series: Twilight, Fifty Shades, and more but I also love paranormal, Horror and even light books like Dewey the Small Town Library Cat... Mainly, I just love to read. . . and write.
Sorry to be so long-winded but did I say I love to write? ...and talk and...knit, and sew, and bake... I could go on but I'll stop by saying, I hope you’ll stop by my blog and say “Hi” or send me a shout-out on Instagram or twitter.
But, most of  all,  I want to say thanks for spending a few minutes with me listening to me talk about Irma the Inventor.
Join me on Twitter or stop by and see what I'm pinning on  Pinterest and, if you read Irma the Inventor and have a question or simply want to share a comment, please feel free to send me an email. I love connecting with readers.

Win an Irma the Inventor prize pack filled with science experiment goodies for kids and a copy of the book, from Kim Kasch!

(prize provided by and shipped from author)
US only
ends 8/4/17
winner will be emailed and must claim prize within 48 hours
word spelunking is not responsible for lost, damaged, or stolen prizes in the mail
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Friday, July 21, 2017

Picture Book Reviews + win Found Dogs by Erica Sirotich (giveaway)

I have three wonderful picture books from Penguin Random House to share with y'all today! Plus, there's a giveaway...

Here Comes Teacher Cat
By Deborah Underwood
Illustrated by Claudia Rueda
August 8, 2017
Dial Books

It's back to school for the New York Times bestselling Cat when he steps in as a substitute teacher.

Cat is not pleased to be tapped as substitute teacher. Not only is it cutting into his naptime, but a roomful of kittens is a little, well, scary. At school, he's faced with six adorable kittens and follows the lesson plan of music, building, and painting--only in pure, mischief-making Cat style. By the end, Cat has learned a thing or two about inspiring others by being himself. But even more heart-melting and humorous is what the kittens have learned from Cat.

Deborah Underwood returns to her adorable and hilarious picture book series about Cat, with Here Comes Teacher Cat. Cat finds himself playing the role of substitute teacher for a classroom full of kittens...and really, he'd rather be napping. But soon Cat finds that even though being a teacher is hard work, it's also kind of fun!

With her signature sparse, yet pitch-perfect text, Underwood will charm and entertain little readers with silly, giggle-inducing humor and antics. Readers will love joining Cat and his kitty students as they play music, build, and create unforgettable art. And Rueda's engaging illustrations, with their soft and whimsical palette, and lively depictions, make for the perfect companion to Underwood's text.

Lexie the Word Wrangler
By Rebecca Van Slyke
Illustrated by Jessie Hartland
April 4, 2017
Nancy Paulsen Books

Lexie is the best wrangler west of the Mississippi, word wrangler, that is. She watches over baby letters while they grow into words and ties shorter words together into longer ones; she herds words into sentences, hitches sentences together, and pens them all in to tell a story. But lately, something seems off at the ranch. First the "d" goes missing from her "bandana," leaving her with a "banana" to tie around her neck, and soon afterward every "S-T-A-R" in the sky turns into "R-A-T-S." There's no doubt about it there's a word rustler causing this ruckus, and Lexie plans to track him down.

In Rebecca Van Slyke's Lexie the Word Wrangler, cowgirl Lexie is the best word wrangler around, but when someone starts messing with her words, she must make sure justice is done!

Lexie the Word Wrangler is a clever and witty tale that encourages little readers to explore the world of letters, words, and reading. With endearing, fun cowgirl and cowboy "talk", a creative and imaginative plot, a precocious and lovable heroine, and Hartland's childlike and sweet illustrations, Lexie the Word Wrangler is sure to entertain and educate eager little readers!

Found Dogs
By Erica Sirotich
July 18, 2017

For fans of Sandra Boynton’s Doggies and a perfect fit for every preschooler’s library, this adorable rhyming and counting book tallies up all the dogs at the shelter, and then counts backward as the pups are adopted.

Babies and toddlers will delight in counting up each wriggly, wraggly rescue pup and then counting back down as each doggie is adopted. A bright, bouncy rhyme, jubilant art, and scads of adorable dogs will have wee ones giggling for more.

These patient pound dogs.
Now they’re family!
Found dogs.

Erica Sirotich's Found Dogs is a joyful, brightly illustrated picture book that celebrates doggies of all kinds and encourages little ones to practice their counting. Readers will count from one to ten, as each adorable pupper is accounted for, then will count down from ten to one, as each of those eager puppers is adopted and becomes found dogs.

Sirotich's rhyming text flows in a wonderfully whimsical and charming way that will delight little readers (and grown-ups!) and have them smiling big. Little ones will love counting each and every cute, sweet doggie and rejoice when each dog finds his forever family. Sirotich pairs her text with colorful, happy, and captivating illustrations. Joyful, bright, and irresistible Found Dogs is sure to be a favorite of little readers!

Win a copy of Found Dogs!
Thanks to the generous folks at Penguin Random House, I have one copy of this fun picture book for one winner.
-US only
-ends 7/28/17
-winner will be emailed and must claim prize within 48 hours
-word spelunking is not responsible for lost, damaged, or stolen prizes in the mail

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Monday, July 17, 2017

The Queen Is Coming To Tea Blog Tour (review & giveaway)

The Queen Is Coming To Tea
by Linda Ravin Lodding
illustrated by Constanze von Kitzing
February 7, 2017
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
ISBN: 9781492607571; $16.99; Hardcover
Source: from pub for review
Can Ellie and her furry friends get everything ready in time for tea with the Queen?

One day there was a knock at Ellie’s door. There stood the Queen’s Footman.

“A message from Her Royal Highness.” He offered Ellie a note on a silver tray.
May I please come for tea?
Sincerely yours,
The Queen Herself
When Ellie finds out the Queen is coming to tea, she snaps to attention! With her best friend, Langley the Elephant, Ellie travels to Paris, China, Italy, and New York to make sure they have everything they need for tea with the Queen. But will the Queen patiently wait? And what exactly will be waiting for the Queen?

The Queen is Coming To Tea, by Linda Ravin Lodding and illustrated by Constanze von Kitzing, is a deliciously charming and delightful picture book! When Ellie finds out that the Queen is coming for tea, she and her animal pals travel across the globe in search of the perfect tea, snacks, clothes, and more for a tea party fit for, well, a queen.

With an exciting story (travel adventures and tea with THE Queen?!) and Lodding's sweet, endearing, and fanciful text, little readers will be enchanted by Ellie's whirlwind country hopping trip and will love meeting all the fun new friends Ellie picks up along the way. von Kitzing's whimsical illustrations, with their soft colors; humorous scenes; and lively action, will captivate readers, and perfectly bring the story to life.

The Queen is Coming To Tea is sure to be a hit with all the little princesses and princes in your life and will surely inspire many tea parties!

5/5 Cupcakes

And here's a tea recipe for your own tea parties!

Peach Mango White Iced Tea Recipe

4 Cups Water
3 White Tea Bags
1 Peach
½ Cup Chopped Frozen Mango
1 tbsp sugar plus Sugar to Taste

Boil the 6 cups of water; remove from heat
Steep the tea bags about 5 minutes; remove bags and allow tea to cool to room temperature
Add chopped peaches and mango to a mixing bowl and mix with sugar; let fruit soften
Place fruit in pitcher and pour cooled tea on top; add sugar to taste and stir
Chill and serve

About the Author and Illustrator
LINDA LODDING is originally from New York, but has spent the past fifteen years in Austria, the Netherlands, and now lives in Sigtuna, Sweden. Visit her at

After finishing her studies, CONSTANZE VON KITZING worked in the cover department at Der Spiegel. She now works as a freelance illustrator, teaches, and runs an art shop in Cologne, Germany, where she lives with her family.

Two winners will win a copy of The Queen Is Coming To Tea and a ceramic tea set!
(this is a blog tour wide giveaway and not run by word spelunking)

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