14 October 2019

*Review & GIVEAWAY!* Journey of the Pale Bear by Susan Fletcher

Middle Grade / Medieval Historical Fiction (grades 3-7)
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Date of Publication: October 2, 2018
Paperback: October 1, 2019
Number of Pages: 302

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A runaway boy befriends a polar bear that’s being transported from Norway to London in this lyrical and timeless adventure story about freedom, captivity, and finding a family.

The polar bear is a royal bear, a gift from the King of Norway to the King of England. The first time Arthur encounters the bear, he is shoved in her cage as payback for stealing food. Restless and deadly, the bear terrifies him. Yet, strangely, she doesn’t harm him—though she has attacked anyone else who comes near. That makes Arthur valuable to the doctor in charge of getting the bear safely to London. So Arthur, who has run away from home, finds himself taking care of a polar bear on a ship to England.

Tasked with feeding and cleaning up after the bear, Arthur’s fears slowly lessen as he begins to feel a connection to this bear, who like him, has been cut off from her family. But the journey holds many dangers, and Arthur knows his own freedom—perhaps even his life—depends on keeping the bear from harm. When pirates attack and the ship founders, Arthur must make a choice—does he do everything he can to save himself, or does he help the bear to find freedom?

Based on the real story of a polar bear that lived in the Tower of London, this timeless adventure story is also a touching account of the bond between a boy and a bear.



Honor Book, Golden Kite Awards, 2019
Vermont's 2019-2020 
Dorothy Canfield Fisher list 2020 
Oklahoma Sequoyah Book Award 
Children's Master list School Library Connection highly recommended book 
Junior Library Guild Selection 50 Must-Read Historical Fiction Books for Kids, bookriot.com 

“…a stupendous coming-of-age-tale stuffed with adventure and laced with deeper questions… A richly satisfying story saturated with color, adventure, and heart.” –Kirkus, starred review 

“I simply adore this novel. It has it all: gorgeous prose, fascinating history, riveting adventure. But it’s the unlikely tender friendship between a lonely boy and a polar bear that makes this a story to cherish. A lovely little miracle of a book.” 
–Katherine Applegate, Newbery Medal-winning author of The One and Only Ivan 

“I loved every single thing about this large-hearted and riveting medieval adventure.” —William Alexander, National Book Award-winning author of Goblin Secrets

Do you ever get that indescribable hankering deep down in your soul for a different kind of read? You can’t put your finger on it, but it’s that inner gnawing that just won’t shut up and go away.

I’ve been having that dadgum nagging hankering for a while now. Now, I’ve got a TON of books in my house. Every single room is loaded with them (it’s taking forever to complete the conversion of my spare bedroom into a library). Even my little ole Kindle is so full of unread books that I’m surprised it hasn’t exploded yet.

But nothing has sounded good. I was getting hangry for something different. I was about to give up.  Until Kristine had the confounded, all-out nerve and unmitigated gall to post a sign-up in our blogger group for some book about a bear.

I shrugged, squinting at the image of the cover on the Google form sign-up page.
“Hmmm … well, the cover is my favorite color,” I says to myself. “Why the heck not?” I also says to myself.

So I shrugged once more and typed in my deets, not too overly-concerned or ecstatic about getting selected to review a book about a boy and a bear.

And then I forgot I signed up for the blog tour.

Until one bright, sunny autumn day.  I was minding my own confounded business, checking my mail, and discovered a very suspect and suspicious envelope in my mailbox.

I immediately imagined that it was a bomb.
I mean…what else could it be. Right?

Well, I let my boss - AKA Sascha Marie, resident four-legged bomb squad and herder extraordinaire – sniff the package, just in case. She was instantly bored and went back to snoozing on her pillow. So, I felt it was safe to tear into the strange envelope.

Follow Sascha Marie on Facebook by Clicking her Pic
I gingerly put my hand in and felt something smooth and cool to the touch.

I withdrew the alien object to discover …

An absolutely GORGEOUS book! 

Y’all, allow me a moment to geek-out and gush. The publisher sent me a lovely hardcover copy and a letter, to boot. No, it’s not autographed, and I’m smirking about that, even as I type this. Y’all know how I lurve it when the author signs the book.

Le Sigh.

Maybe she’ll send me a signed bookplate?

*crosses fingers*

But I digress. I know … I know … y’all came here for a review.

I’ll get on with it. Dang, y’all are about as bossy as Sascha Marie!

This book feels great in your hands. Its tactile quality is lovely. But what is even better is what’s inside.

Now, y’all know that I’m a huge history nerd. I wasn’t even expecting to take a trip back in time. Yet, there I was (in my flannel pajamas) traveling back to 1272, London. I could hear the sounds - the clink of chain mail, the clank of a sword; feel the feels - the hand-carved boards of the wooden drawbridge beneath the soles of my leather shoes; see the sights - the glare of a torch held before my face, its warm glow leaving spot of light swimming in my eyes.

And into the past, I tumbled, head-over-heels, landing onto the cobblestones of the outer bailey of an ancient fortress.

Fletcher reeled me in, line and sinker from the very first word. What a hook!
(She was prolly laughing maniacally whilst reeling me in with that whopper of a hook in my ever-loving jaw, yo!)

Like so:

No, I will not give y’all any sort of spoilers! Y’all keep on asking like I’m finally gonna give in!

This book deserves to be devoured, for it is a delicious banquet served in troughs placed on wooden tables in the great hall. It simply must be enjoyed, picking every single nibble from the bone until the very last word.

But what I will tell y’all is - though this book is written for middle-grade, it is so intelligently written, one would think it was penned for YA or adults. There is no pandering in Susan’s writing. She is holding up a literary standard, and the story is so good that even young readers will rise to the challenge.

JOURNEY OF THE PALE BEAR by Susan Fletcher is one of those rare books one is loath to put down for fear of missing something whilst away.

Within these covers, the reader becomes the main character, and the author is the bard-ess, sitting across the fire, the warm glow of light reflecting in her eyes as she recounts the tale of the journey of the pale bear and her beloved companion. I know it must be a true story! It simply must! It’s too good to be fictitious!

Simply put:

Fletcher’s writing is so lyrical, tangible, and delicious … It left me hungry for more!

All y'all need to read this book! Grab a copy! Heck, scroll down to enter to win!

And that’s why I grant
Journey of the Pale Bear by Susan Fletcher
5 Glorious, Ancient Brooms!

Although Susan loves to write about long-ago and faraway places, she can’t bring those worlds to life without grounding them in the details of this one. To that end, she has explored lava tubes and sea caves; spent the night in a lighthouse; traveled along the Silk Road in Iran; ridden in a glider, on a camel, and on a donkey; and cut up (already dead!) baby chicks and mice for a gyrfalcon’s dinner. To research Journey of the Pale Bear, she explored the grounds of the Tower of London and went backstage at the Oregon Zoo, where, standing breathtakingly near, she watched polar bears Tasul and Conrad lip grapes from their keepers’ open palms. Journey of the Pale Bear is Susan’s 12th book, including the Dragon Chronicles series, Shadow Spinner, and Alphabet of Dreams. Collectively, her books have been translated into nine languages; accolades include a Golden Kite Honor Book, the American Library Association’s Notable Books and Best Books for Young Adults, BCCB Blue Ribbon Books, and School Library Journal’s Best Books. Susan has an M.A. in English from the University of Michigan and taught for many years in the M.F.A. in Writing for Children and Young Adults program at Vermont College. She lives in Bryan, Texas with her husband, historian R.J.Q. Adams, and their dog, Neville.

OCTOBER 10-20, 2019
(U.S. Only)

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06 October 2019

*Read My Review & Enter to Win!* PARANORMAL TEXAS by Tui Snider

Your Travel Guide to Haunted Places
Near Dallas & Fort Worth 

  Genre: Travel / Haunted Places / Texas History
Publisher: Castle Azle Press
Date of Publication: September 19, 2019
Number of Pages: 210 with 100+ black & white images

Scroll down for Giveaway!

More Haunted Places and True Ghost Stories!
Tui Snider's popular travel guide to haunted places in North Texas is back with a fully updated 2nd Edition featuring more haunted places and true ghost stories!

What's new in Paranormal Texas, 2nd Edition?
Just like the original travel guide, Paranormal Texas 2nd Edition gives readers haunted history and directions to sites where paranormal activity is reported in the Dallas - Fort Worth Metroplex.

The 2nd edition now includes:
• Photos: Readers asked for photos of haunted places. Paranormal Texas, 2nd edition has over 50 photos of haunted towns, haunted hotels, and more.
• Ghost hunting tips: Tui Snider explains what she has learned since she began attending paranormal investigations with Texas ghost hunters.
• More haunted places: Several new venues (including a haunted doll museum!) with fascinating haunted history were added to Paranormal Texas, 2nd edition.
• Firsthand accounts: Readers asked for more true ghost stories and hauntings. (She even shares personal experiences with paranormal activity, including a strange encounter with her doppelganger at a haunted hotel!)

All the above, PLUS a paranormal activity evidence database:

See the paranormal activity for yourself: Readers can access an online database with links to EVPs, ghost photos, videos, and other evidence gathered by paranormal investigators who have visited the haunted sites in her book.

Continually updated: This database will be continually updated with EVPs, anomalous photos, videos, and other data gathered at haunted places featured in Paranormal Texas, 2nd edition.

Add your paranormal activity: Readers can contact the author if they have paranormal evidence to add!

Is Paranormal Texas, 2nd edition for YOU?
1. Ghost Hunters - If you want to plan a fun road trip to haunted places (with or without ghost hunting equipment) Paranormal Texas, 2nd edition can help.
2. Armchair Travelers - If you prefer reading about haunted history, Paranormal Texas, 2nd edition can take you on an exciting armchair tour through haunted towns of North Texas.

"Tui's 2nd edition is spot on fun and thrilling for everyone 
to read as only Tui can tell it!"  
- Greg Stephens, Paranormal Investigator (RIP)

5 Surprising Facts about Haunted Places in Paranormal Texas

I don’t always choose to drop my name in the hat for each book review opportunity that pops up in our blogger group. But, seeing as how Halloween was coming up, and, quite frankly, seeing as how this book looked totes awesome, I nearly screamed my ever-loving lungs out whilst filling out the review request form. It’s a good thing that Google forms don’t record sound, ‘cause Kristine would prolly’ve called the Po-Po thinkin’ there’d been some bloody-murder occurrence.

At any rate, I squealed with glee when I received my autographed … YES, AUTOGRAPHED (y’all know I lurve it when the author signs the book) copy in the mail. I was so uppity about the signed copy that I didn’t even realize that the fabulous Tui Snider had also included a cute handwritten postcard (featuring herself and an alien-looking dude. Y’all know I lurve me some aliens!) until I carefully (‘cause y’all know I love my books to remain looking new) turned back the cover and –

Out popped the SWAG!

“Be still my beating heart!” I says to myself. “Herself must be a kindred spirit!” I also says to myself.

Gaze upon the splendor. Is it not Coolio?

Alas, I digress from my moment of fangirlitude.

I know…I know. Y’all came here for a book review. And so, I shall sally-forth and tally-ho, yo!

Y’all. This book … gosh … this book is just plain F to the U to the N – FUN! The other day, I saw a post on Facebook in which one of my friends was saying how she wishes she could do some traveling like she sees some other people on Facebook doing.

PARANORMAL TEXAS by Tui Snider is the kind of book that makes you feel as if you’ve just taken an enthralling, albeit spooky, road trip with your BFF.

I plan on messaging that FB friend and advising her to grab a copy of this book. Because, it really, truly does feel as if I’ve taken a drive across Texas to some places I’d like to visit – and to some places I actually have visited years ago – whilst doing some ghost (and alien) hunting.

Snider takes you for an informative ride to, and a guide through, some of the most haunted places near Dallas & Fort Worth, Texas. I totes geeked out over the history she weaves throughout each haunted visit. The backstory of each place was also enthralling. Y’all know I’m a history nerd – I minored in history at university, after all! And I really loved how she managed to clear the name of one poor dude who’d been accused all these years of having murdered his entire family, before hanging himself. Poor ole fella had been innocent all along (though the folks of his own time actually knew how he and his family died) No, I ain’t gonna tell ya! You’ve gotta read the book to find out this kinda stuff, yo!

Now, y’all know I don’t give any spoilers, and I wish y’all would stop asking. No, I won’t give away any in this review, either. But what I will give you are these deets:

This book is organized alphabetically by the town names, and then by HAUNTED sites within each town. This is very handy for those who’d love to plan an actual road trip (unlike the armchair one I took.) Each section includes enough information, without droning on and on. Short, fun, and to the point.

I simply loved the Introduction. I got a really good feel for the author’s sense of humor and writing style, before digging into the meat of the book.

One of my absolute geekiologiest (I just made that word up) moments in reading PARANORMAL TEXAS was in the Introduction. The author has actually created the Paranormal Texas Evidence Database where readers can go check out some EVPs and other stuff to scare the doowocky out of themselves in the dark of the night (‘cause that’s when I do my best reading – and writing – in the dark of the night. Hence the perpetual dark circles under my eyes.) She also gives readers the option to submit their own spooky stories to her via email to be added to the database.

Should I submit my story about those freaky, disembodied legs I experienced just up the road from here? 

Hmm …. I may just do that.

Okay, okay, I might give y’all one teeny tiny itsy-bitsy spoiler: there’s a Texas cemetery that I’ve long wished to visit. I’m not going to tell you the name of it, but I will tell you that it’s known to contain the grave of an extraterrestrial that died in a fiery UFO crash in the 1800s. Yes. You can imagine my level of midnight geekitudology (I just made up this word, too) whilst reading that section.

Or…maybe you can’t. Prolly not.

Oh! Before I forget …

One of my fave things of this book is that Snider has included photos she took, herself, of many of the places she visited whilst writing PARANORMAL TEXAS. The photos are in black and white. Normally, I would scoff at the fact that they weren’t in color. But, truthfully, the black and white photos lend that extra je ne sais quoi of spookiness to the pages of chilling ghost stories and hauntings in Snider’s PARANORMAL TEXAS.

I fear I may have droned on for too long here. Suffice it to say that I truly enjoyed PARANORMAL TEXAS by Tui Snider. It’s a great book to read for any time of year, but especially for the month of October … when spirits find that opening in the fabric betwixt this world and the next and slip through to scare the doowockie out of the unsuspecting living.

Grab a copy for yourself and and one for your BFF! Plan a spooky October road trip, even if it’s an armchair one! And come back here and let me know which was your favorite stop along the way of haunted places near Dallas & Fort Worth!

The bottom line of this here review of PARANORMAL TEXAS by Tui Snider is this:

Her writing is witty, engaging, and intelligent … just plain fun!

And that’s why I hereby grant
5 Gleaming Scary As All Get Out Brooms!

Tui Snider is an award-winning writer, speaker, photographer, and musician specializing in offbeat sites, overlooked history, cemetery symbolism, and haunted lore. As she puts it, “I used to write fiction, but then I moved to Texas!” Tui lectures frequently at universities, libraries, conferences, and bookstores.This fall, she will speak about the Great Airship Mystery of 1897 at this year’s UFO Congress and teach a course on Understanding Cemetery Symbols at Texas Christian University. She also shares weekly info-videos based on her research at her YouTube channel. Snider’s writing and photography have been featured in a variety of media outlets, including WFAA TV, Coast to Coast AM, LifeHack, Langdon Review, the City of Plano, Wild Woman Waking, Shades of Angels and many more. She has several more books in progress.

 GRAND PRIZE (US only) Signed Paperback Handmade Cemetery Angel Pendant +$10 Amazon Gift Card
2ND PRIZE (US only)Signed Copy
3RD PRIZE (International): Kindle eBook
  October 1-October 11, 2019

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