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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

6th MMGM: Beyond the Doors by David Neilsen (review, guest post, giveaway)

Welcome to Day 28 of the 6th Annual March MG Madness, featuring David Neilsen and his book, Beyond The Doors!

Beyond the Doors
By David Neilsen
August 1, 2017
Crown BFYR
Fans of A Series of Unfortunate Events and Coraline will devour this dark and creepy, humor-laced tale about four siblings who discover a mysterious world where secrets hide around every corner.

When a family disaster forces the four Rothbaum children to live with their aunt Gladys, they immediately know there is something strange about their new home. The crazy, circular house looks like it stepped out of a scary movie. The front entrance is a four-story-tall drawbridge. And the only food in Aunt Gladys's kitchen is an endless supply of Honey Nut Oat Blast Ring-a-Dings cereal.
Strangest of all are the doors--there are none. Every doorway is a wide-open passageway--even the bathroom! Who lives in a house with no doors?
Their unease only grows when Aunt Gladys disappears for long stretches of time, leaving them alone to explore the strange house. When they discover just what Aunt Gladys has been doing with all her doors, the shocked siblings embark on an adventure that changes everything they believe about their family and the world.

With their mother having left the family six years ago and their father involved in a horrible and mysterious accident, the four Rothbaum kids - Janice, Zach, Sydney, Alexa - must go live with Aunt Gladys, an aunt they never knew existed. Aunt Gladys is an eccentric, odd lady, with an even odder and downright weird home. The huge, circular home has a drawbridge for a front door, has only cereal in the kitchen, none of the rooms (even the bathrooms) have doors, but there are piles and piles of old doors laying around. And even weirder, Aunt Gladys shuts herself away beyond a mysterious room and does mysterious things...and when the kids discover just what Gladys is doing with all the doors, things get even weirder, odder, and mysteriouser.

David Neilsen’s Beyond The Doors is a fun mish-mash of adventure, mystery, and a creeptastic atmosphere! Full of exciting frights, silly laughs, and imagination, this middle-grade book took me on a zany, wack-a-doodle adventure...which, really, are the best kinds!

With an amusing and cleverly witty voice, Beyond The Doors captivates from the very beginning, entertaining readers with its whimsically dark humor and enticing mystery. David Neilsen infuses his tale with that over-the-top, wonderfully over-dramatic kind of humor and silliness that young readers love. With its creepy, lackluster, and just plain strange decor and design, and all the fantastically frightening and fun secrets it hides, Aunt Gladys’ unusual, yet totally fascinating house, makes for the perfect setting.

Most of the adult characters are adorkably useless, leaving the four Rothbaum kids to be the heroes of their own story...something young readers will appreciate! And the four Rothbaum children, from protective Janice, to calm Zach, wild; easily raged Sydney, and sweet; independent Alexa, are all engaging, likable, and fun characters to get to know. Plus, Neilsen, provides an unexpected and extra spooktacular and shiver-inducing opponent for the kids to face.

With its scary-fun setting, imaginative premise, and quirky atmosphere, young readers will love all the twists and turns Beyond the Doors throws at them!

What’s Beyond Your Door?
By David Neilsen

I have a very cool door in my house.

It’s in the guest bedroom, and is about three feet tall. When guests see that door, they are often a little confused. Some are even concerned. One guest refused to sleep in the room because of the door.

As a writer, I’m always looking at things and asking myself ‘Why?’ Why is there a three-foot-tall door in my house? Where does it lead? Who lives there?

The actual, real-life answers to these questions are rather dull. It opens onto an unfinished attic/storage space. Nobody is ever behind the door except when one of our cats is accidentally locked in the attic (And then we get eerie howls of woe reverberating throughout the house, convincing us our house is haunted.). But those aren’t the answers I’m interested in. Over the years, my imagination has come up with dozens of creepy or silly or just plain odd reasons for this door to exist. These include:

  • We have a deformed half-breed living in the attic who helps us with our evil midnight rituals.
  • It’s not a real door, but a physical manifestation of the ancient, secret information I’ve locked away inside my brain.
  • It’s a gateway to the magical land of BoomShakalaka, which is peopled by gnomes, dwarves, and pixies.
  • It’s not half the size of a regular door, I’m twice the size of a regular man.
The list goes on.

I think everyone should have a strange door in their house. Not that I’m advising anyone to grab a sledgehammer and bash in a section of their wall or anything, but it makes for a great metaphor. Doors lead to places. They suggest the beginning of a journey, even if it is just into the closet. There’s an old saying that goes something like “Every adventure starts with a first step.” Well, I would slightly alter it to say “Every adventure starts with opening a door, otherwise you’d just walk into a wall and that would be silly.”

Sitting down to begin writing a new book is, for me, a bit like standing in front of that strange door--I’m both a little nervous and a little excited. I don’t always know where the door will lead, but I look forward to the experience. Sometimes it opens up onto a whole new world that I can create and explore and enjoy. Other times it opens up onto a few pages that go nowhere and are very quickly discarded--in which case I take a deep breath and open another door.

So whether your door is three feet tall or made of cheese, do yourself a favor today and give it a good, hard look. There’s something just beyond it, waiting patiently to be discovered.

David Neilsen is the author of Dr. Fell and the Playground of Doom, and several other odd, weird, supernatural, and occasionally slightly disturbing books and stories. David is also a professionally trained actor who works as a professional storyteller up and down the Hudson River Valley and in New York City. His one-man performances based on the work of H.P. Lovecraft have sent many screaming into the hills in search of their sanity.

Win an ARC of Beyond The Doors!
Random House has generously offered one (1) ARC for one winner.
-ends 4/5/17
-winner will be emailed and must claim prize within 48 hours
-Word Spelunking is not responsible for lost, damaged, or stolen prizes

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Monday, March 27, 2017

6th MMGM: Just One Thing by Nancy Viau (interview, giveaway)

Welcome to Day 27 of the 6th Annual March MG Madness, featuring Nancy Viau and her book, Just One Thing!

Just One Thing
By Nancy Viau
September 28, 2016
Anthony Pantaloni needs JUST ONE THING!—one thing he does well, one thing that will replace the Antsy Pants nickname he got tagged with the first day of fifth grade, one GOOD thing he can “own” before moving up to middle school next year. Every kid in Carpenter Elementary has something: Marcus is Mr. Athletic, Alexis is Smart Aleck, Bethany has her horse obsession, and even Cory can stake a claim as being the toughest kid in the whole school. Ant tries lots of things but – KA-BOOM – nothing sticks! It doesn’t help that there are obstacles along the way—a baton-twirling teacher, an annoying cousin, and Dad's new girlfriend to name a few. JUST ONE THING! is a funny middle grade novel about that awesome (and awkward!) final year of elementary school.

Q1. What three words best describe your book, Just One Thing?
Fifth-grade, funny, contemporary

Q2. Grab a copy of Just One Thing! and answer the following:
Favorite chapter? CHAPTER TEN: All Eyes On Me

Favorite page? 58

Favorite setting? CHAPTER SEVEN, Ant’s classroom

Flip to a random page and give us a 1-2 sentences teaser:
I freeze, but it’s not a chill that’s working its way up my spine to my cheeks. It’s fire.

Q3. Who are your favorite middle-grade hero and heroine?
Hero: Greg Heffley Heroine: Star Girl

What is your favorite middle-grade book?
Aargh! How can I pick one? There are so many great books being published every month! I can’t keep up!

Q4. Why do you think middle-grade lit is so important?
Let’s face it, things get weird during the middle-grade years. As a kid in 4th- 6th grade, you’re working on figuring out your hopes, your dreams, your face, your body, and even the world! Just when you think it’s coming together—KA-BOOM!—things change. Somehow, amidst the chaos, there’s still a know-it-all justification for thoughts and actions. (Parents, you know what I’m talking about.) Middle-grade lit addresses that crazy, exciting time, and let’s readers see they are not alone. The issues and plotlines, whether funny or serious, are relevant and universal.

Q5. If you were to create and bake a cupcake inspired by Just One Thing!, what would it look and taste like, and what would you call it?
Ugh, FYI: I’d be awesome at the creating part; the baking part, not so much. ; ) Anyway…My cupcake would be chocolate on the inside and each one would contain a different surprise filling because there are quite a few surprises in Just One Thing! No two would taste alike, representing the unique personalities and challenges kids have. The icing would be bright green (optimistic, yes?!), black lines would be scribbled across it (bring on the chaos!), and a big number 1 would sit on top. I’d call my cupcake creation: KA-BOOM!

Nancy Viau no longer worries about finding her one thing for she has found quite a few things she loves, like being a mom, writing, traveling, and working as a librarian assistant. She is the author of the picture books City Street Beat, Look What I Can Do! and Storm Song, and an additional middle-grade novel, Samantha Hansen Has Rocks in Her Head. Nancy grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA and now resides in South Jersey.

Author links:
Twitter/Instagram: @NancyViau1
Facebook: Nancy Viau
Skype: nancy.viau

Win a signed copy of Just One Thing! plus doodle notepad, markers, bookmarks!
Nancy has generously offered one (1) prize pack for one winner.
-ends 4/5/17
-winner will be emailed and must claim prize within 48 hours
-Word Spelunking is not responsible for lost, damaged, or stolen prizes

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Sunday, March 26, 2017

6th MMGM: Guardians of the Gryphon's Claw by Todd Calgi Gallicano (spotlight, giveaway)

Welcome to Day 26 of the 6th Annual March MG Madness, featuring Todd Calgi Gallicano and his book, Guardians of the Gryphon's Claw!

Guardians of the Gryphon’s Claw
By Todd Calgi Gallicano
August 29, 2017
Delacorte Press
A new action adventure series set in our famous national parks! Enter the world of the Department of Mythical Wildlife, where our protagonist, Sam London, is tasked with protecting legendary animals that secretly live amongst our treasured wildlife.
Haunted by a dream of a mythical gryphon, Sam London uncovers an ancient secret that will change the way he sees the world forever. Recruited by Dr. Vance Vantana, an eccentric zoologist and park ranger sent by the government, Sam is whisked away on an adventure that takes him to the farthest reaches of the globe. Along this journey, Sam learns an incredible truth: mythical creatures are real and living among us in our national parks. A special department in the U.S. government ensures that their existence remains hidden.

But Sam's dream is an omen that the secret may now be in danger. Someone seeks the power to expose these creatures and overthrow humankind--and that power can only be found in a magical talisman known as the gryphon's claw.

Todd Gallicano is the author of Guardians of the Gryphon’s Claw, the first book in the Sam London adventure series. Visit him at

Win an ARC of 
Guardians of the Gryphon's Claw!
Random House has generously offered one (1) ARC for one winner.
-ends 4/5/17
-winner will be emailed and must claim prize within 48 hours
-Word Spelunking is not responsible for lost, damaged, or stolen prizes
a Rafflecopter giveaway