Spotlight & Excerpt: Harley James and the Mystery of the Mayan Kings + Giveaway

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I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the HARLEY JAMES AND THE MYSTERY OF THE MAYAN KINGS by Leah Cupps Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!

 

Title: HARLEY JAMES AND THE MYSTERY OF THE MAYAN KINGS
(Harley James Adventures 1)

Author: Leah Cupps

Pub. Date: May 11, 2022

Publisher: Vision Forty

Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook

Pages: 172

Find it: GoodreadsAmazon, Kindle, B&NTBD, Bookshop.org

Read for FREE with a Kindle Unlimited Membership!

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Will Harley Find the Missing Mayan Statue & Save the World?

Amateur cryptologist Harley James has just landed in the sticky jungle of Tikal, Guatemala—home to the famous Mayan ruins. She’s made a few friends, a few mistakes…and a ground-breaking discovery.

The legendary statue of the long-lost Mayan King.

Just as she is about to impress her father with her discovery, the statue is stolen. Right from her own room!

And what’s worse? The legend says if the statues of the three kings are reunited, they’ll bring back an army from the dead to rule the world.

Follow along with Harley as she tracks down the missing Mayan statue, solves a few riddles and stumbles upon a secret society that will change her life forever!

Excerpt:

Tikal, Guatemala, Present Day
You know how you just know something in your “knower”? As if you had a crystal ball built into your brain?
Well, today I had a feeling. This was going to be my year.
I, Harley Rebecca James, am going to win the Junior International Cryptography Competition.
What is that, you ask?
JICC is an online competition that follows the story of two explorers as they embark on a cryptographic adventure. Solving riddles and clues are my favorite things to do, so naturally, I love cryptography. Each week for twelve weeks, a new chapter is released, with a new code to break. Thousands of kids enter to win. And I was about to solve the clue for week two.
Thirty-nine characters. A famous phrase… got it!
I scribbled the answer down in my journal and smiled.
“Where there is ruin, there is hope for treasure,” I whispered to myself.
A quote from the ancient philosopher Rumi. Of course, I’ve heard Dad say this a hundred times.
The code itself had been easy to crack. The technique used was a simple Caesar shift. The hard part had been finding the key to unlock the cipher.
I couldn’t wait to get back to my room so I could log on and enter the answer.
“Harley? Have you finished your report on Mayan glyphs yet?” A voice suddenly broke through my thoughts.
Report?
Right, I was supposed to be finishing my homework, not cracking codes.
“Almost,” I replied, tucking a piece of unruly blonde hair out of my face. I was with my tutor Jessica Rodríguez and her dog, Daisy, sitting under the shade of the famous temples of Tikal, an ancient Mayan site nestled in the dense Guatemalan forest.
“Are you solving riddles again?”
I smiled in response, shrugging my shoulders.
“You need to finish your history assignment.”
Jessica frowned at me and readjusted her long legs, shifting in her chair. She was pretty when she smiled, but most of the time, I felt like she was scowling at me. I sat upright and grabbed my notebook.
She hated when I got distracted during homework time.
Upon hearing my voice, Daisy rose up from her spot next to Jessica and walked over to me. She licked my face, and I patted her on the head.
I was currently sweating through another afternoon of sixth-grade homework, my books scattered over a large blanket. I scribbled in the last few lines on my report and shoved them back into my history binder.
“Done!”
Daisy was tugging at my backpack, begging for a walk. I smiled at her. I’ve always wanted a dog, but it was one of the many things I had to give up as a famous world traveler.
Okay, not quite famous, but the world traveler part was spot on. You see, I’m a bit of a nomad. The only daughter of world-renowned archeologist and engineer, Russell James. Global traveler, student of the world.
Sounds great, doesn’t it?
I’ll admit it, some parts are great. Exploring remote sections of the world, making new friends, learning new languages.
But then there are the other parts of world travel: staying in hotels with no air conditioning and traveling to remote areas with big—I mean BIG—spiders isn’t always fun. There was one time in Peru when we spotted a Giant Huntsman spider the size of a dinner plate. I had nightmares about it for weeks.
And Dad? Let’s just say he’s overprotective. I’m never allowed to explore anywhere on my own. I can barely get alone time in my room without him checking on me every fifteen minutes. I love him dearly, but I’d just like a little more freedom.
Daisy placed her tiny furry chin on my outstretched leg, breaking me from my thoughts.
“You ready for a walk, girl?” I scratched her head. “I’m ready for a break, too.”
Daisy stood up, twirled around in a circle, and nudged at her leash.
“Jessica? Would you mind if I take Daisy for a walk?”
Jessica barely looked up. “Hmm?” Her eyes lingered on the pages of her book.
“I could use a break.”
She raised her eyes to me and Daisy, who was now shaking with anticipation. “Okay. Just remember, stay close—”
“I know, I know. Don’t talk to strangers and don’t go into the jungle.”
Jessica gave me a thin smile. “And be careful.”
“Of course.” I gave her my most confident grin. “Let’s go, Daisy!”
I swung my favorite purple backpack over my shoulders. This wasn’t just any backpack, mind you. It was decorated with patches from all over the world. Mom had given it to me, along with my first traveler’s patch from France. I kept all the necessities inside; cell phone, colored pencils, a leather notebook, gum, and a headlamp—just in case.
Daisy fell in step with me as we started out across the edge of the jungle. Tikal, Guatemala, was a huge archeological site full of Mayan temples, statues, and monuments. Some of the temples extended above the tops of the trees, like lighthouses in the forest. The Mayans built one of the largest ancient cities in the world… made with no bulldozers, no cranes, and no construction equipment of any kind.
I stared out over the city. How did they do it?
Everything was going great—I was being completely safe—until Daisy suddenly tugged me away from the path around the Temple of the Jaguar toward a dense spot in the jungle.
“No, Daisy,” I said, pulling back on her leash. “We have to stay on the path.”
If I left this path, I’d never be allowed out of Dad’s or Jessica’s sight again.
But Daisy wasn’t giving up. She pulled me into the brush and out of the sunlight. Not good. Snakes and spiders loved hanging out in the shade. I looked around nervously.
“What is it, girl?”
As my eyes adjusted to the shade, I saw a figure standing in the trees about fifteen feet away.
“Hello?” I said, my voice cracking. Daisy continued to pull me forward like a sled dog. “Daisy, will you stop?”
But she was not giving up, and I couldn’t hold on any longer. The leash slipped from my hand, and she bolted into the jungle.
“Daisy!” I cried, dashing after her.
Branches and leaves whipped past me as I followed her deeper into the forest. I wasn’t about to lose Daisy in the jungle, rules, or no rules.
Just as I was about to run out of breath, Daisy stopped ahead of me with an excited, yip!
Apparently, she had found something.
I caught up to her in a few long strides and peered into the jungle. Nestled behind a bramble of jungle leaves was a wall made of stone. After I grabbed Daisy’s leash, I took a step closer.
“What did you find, girl?”
Six nooks were carved into the side of the wall, about the size of my outstretched hand. Five of the nooks had carved stones placed inside. I recognized the carvings. They were Mayan.
In fact, I had just been studying them for my history lesson.
Now I was intrigued. Maybe that report would come in handy. Dad was always going on and on about using our great knowledge of history in the field.
The first five symbols stood for Jaguar, Sun, Snake, Rain, and Skull. But the sixth nook was empty. I touched the soft grooves of the granite. My code-finding mind went to work. There must be a stone that fits into the final slot. It must follow a logical pattern.
What do the glyphs for Jaguar, Sun, Snake, Rain, and Skull have in common? I bit the edge of my lip. I tried to think of something useful from my report. I had taken a particular interest in the Mayan glyphs, given my love of codes and symbols.
I knew that Kinich Ahau, the god of the sun, was often depicted as a jaguar. And Chaac, the god of rain, was drawn with the body of a snake. And the skull? Well, the god of earth, and the underworld, was Cizin. He was often shown as a skull.
I felt a little chill run up my spine. Creepy.
But back to the glyphs.
Jaguar, Sun, Snake, Rain, Skull… Earth?
It was worth a shot.
There were stones scattered about the jungle floor and I quickly shifted through them, looking for earth symbol. A few were broken, some had parts of a carving. They represented everything from rain drops to mountains.
Then I stumbled over a sharp object jutting out of the jungle floor. I got down on my knees. I could see a stone half-buried in the mud. I dug my fingers into the ground and began to dig. When I was done, I stared at the stone.
It had the symbol for earth. Bingo!
I ran back to the center of the wall and placed it in the sixth nook. To my surprise, it fit perfectly in place.

Then something weird happened. The ground beneath began to rumble.
Was this an earthquake?
It wasn’t that unusual for an earthquake to happen in Central America. But right after I placed the sixth symbol? That was a little odd.
The stones in front of me suddenly began to move, and I pulled Daisy back as several rocks began to fall. We huddled together near the ground. I placed my hands over my head and squeezed my eyes shut. A few seconds later, the shaking stopped.
I looked up. The center of the wall that held the carved stones had crumbled into a pile at my feet.
So much for solving that riddle.
“Come on, Daisy, we better get back,” I said, pulling on her leash.
If my overprotective dad knew I was by myself in the jungle during an earthquake?
I shuddered at the thought.
But just as I was about to leave, my eyes caught on a peculiar green glow coming from the pile of stones.
Daisy must have noticed it too, because she walked back over to the spot. As she sniffed the ground, I saw she was standing over a small object that appeared to be lit from within. I squatted down and took a closer look.
It was a little statue, about as big as an eggplant. I reached down and touched it, feeling the cool surface on my skin. Perhaps it was made of jade?
I could hear Dad’s voice in my head shouting, You should be wearing gloves!
Well, he wasn’t here, so I picked it up.
It had to be a real Mayan artifact. What else would it be doing here in the jungle?
Then I got that weird feeling you get when someone’s watching you. I spun around and looked every which way I could. Leaves were moving off toward the temple as if someone had just parted them.
I figured I had a few choices. I could run the piece back to Dad and share my discovery. That would be the obvious thing to do.
Or I could do some research of my own, find out who this little guy was. Maybe if I found out enough, I could convince Dad that I was old enough to explore on my own.
What should I do?
One thing I did know was I had to get out of there. The waving tree limbs gave me the heebie-jeebies.
And then, the answer hit me.
I’d pay a visit to my friend, Aly, whose parents managed one of the museums here in Tikal. She could help me figure out what it was.
“What do you think, Daisy girl? Should we get out of here? Check this one out ourselves?”
Daisy yipped back, obviously agreeing with me.
I stashed the statue in my backpack and set off towards our rental house in the village. First, I had to stop at home and enter this week’s answer for the cryptography competition. After that, we’d head over to the museum.
I didn’t know it at the time, but that little statue I had stuffed in my backpack?
It was about to get me into a whole world of trouble.


About Leah Cupps:

Leah Cupps is an author, designer and entrepreneur. She came up with the idea for Harley James with her oldest daughter Savannah. Savannah had taken an interest in Mayan history and so the two of them worked together to come up with the idea for the first Harley James book; the Mystery of the Mayan Kings. Leah lives in Indiana with her husband and three children. She is also the cofound of Vision Forty Press, a small family owned publishing company.

Website | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube | Goodreads | Amazon | BookBub


Giveaway Details:

1 winner will receive a finished copy of HARLEY JAMES AND THE MYSTERY OF THE MAYAN KINGS, US Only.

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Tour Schedule:

Week One:

6/13/2022

Two Chicks on Books

Excerpt

6/13/2022

@jaimerockstarbooktours

IG Post

6/14/2022

The Momma Spot

Excerpt/IG Post

6/14/2022

BookHounds YA

Excerpt/IG Post

6/15/2022

Ya Books Central

Excerpt

6/15/2022

Jenguerdy

IG Post

6/16/2022

CherieColyer

Excerpt/IG Post

6/16/2022

Lady Hawkeye

Excerpt/IG Post

6/17/2022

Sadie’s Spotlight

Excerpt/IG Post

6/17/2022

#BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee Blog

Excerpt

Week Two:

6/20/2022

More Books Please blog

Review/IG Post

6/20/2022

Rajiv’s Reviews

Review/IG Post

6/21/2022

@jacleomik33 The Page Ladies

IG Review

6/21/2022

beersbooksandboos

Review/IG Post/TikTok Post

6/22/2022

@allyluvsbooksalatte

Review/IG Post

6/22/2022

The Bookwyrm’s Den

Review

6/23/2022

Fire and Ice

Review/IG Post

6/23/2022

M reads often

IG Review

6/24/2022

Books a Plenty Book Reviews

Review

6/24/2022

Nagma | TakeALookAtMyBookshelf

IG Review

 

Spotlight – A Friend to All: Charlie Hoessle, by Diane Key-Biggs

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a friend to all charlie hoessle

A Friend to All: Charlie Hoessle
by Diane Key-Biggs
Illustrated by Shelley Dieterichs
Children’s book, biography

You and your children will enjoy this delightful children’s book entitled A Friend to All: Charlie Hoessle. The book was written by Diane Key-Biggs who worked with Charlie at the Saint Louis Zoo. But the story is told through her son’s eyes.

He asks about the statue of Charlie Hoessle outside the Herpetarium at the zoo and why there is a giant snake around him. He then asks if Charlie grew up in the jungle, why did he like snakes so much, and more!

After hearing him give a talk at a local museum, Carol Perkins, wife of then Zoo Director Marlin Perkins, was impressed with how much he loved animals and talking to people about them. Charlie started working at the zoo part time. He started the education department and then moved up the ranks to become the zoo director. Charlie was the host of the Saint Louis Zoo Show, a weekly public television program that aired from 1968 – 1978.

You’ll want to add A Friend to All: Charlie Hoessle to your list of must have children’s books. With charming illustrations by artist Shelley Dieterichs, A Friend to All: Charlie Hoessle delights with this fun story about a wonderful man who is truly a friend to all!

Purchase


About the Author & Artist

shelley dieteriches penguinAuthor Diane Key-biggs is a mom, an animal lover, and a lifelong learner. She has a National Association of Interpreters certification, her Masters of Arts and Education in Multiple Discipline Studies from Webster University, her Missouri Elementary School Teaching Certificate and Washington University Graduate Certificate in Science Education. Diane has been a seasonal park guide at The Gateway Arch and a seasonal instructor at The Saint Louis Zoo and Library for over 11 years.

shelley dieteriches snakeArtist and children’s Illustrator Shelley Dieterichs has been a freelance designer and illustrator for 39 years. She has illustrated numerous children’s books and educational materials. Recent work includes Noodle & Nugget: A Tale of Two Kitties, the Dover Fabulous Fairies Coloring Book, and When Michelle Met the Queen, a new release that Shelley co-authored and illustrated. Shelley has created numerous illustrated alphabets that she uses to personalize products for children, pets, teachers and her Garden Alphabet was licensed for embroidery designs. Shelley’s products and books are available at her website: goodbuddynotes.com. Samples of her artwork may also be viewed online at artbyshelley.com.

Spotlight: It’s Me + Giveaway

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Join us for this tour from Jan 25 to Feb 12, 2021!

Book Details:

Book Title:  It’s Me by Jeff Kubiak
Category:  Middle-Grade Non-Fiction (Ages 8-12),  57 pages
Genre:  Children’s/Middle Grade, Non-fiction, own voices
Publisher:  EduMatch Publishing
Release date:   November 14, 2020
Content Rating:  PG. Although the book reads like a graphic novel, it does contain topics dealing with racism and other social issues.

Book Description:

It’s Meis dedicated to every person who has ever felt less about who they are or want to be because of someone else’s opinion, feelings, or prejudice. Let’s ditch the prejudiced labeling, and embrace our Human Race for the diversity, inclusivity, equity, and individuality we all deserve.

Buy the Book
Amazon ~ B&N ~ Bookshop

add to Goodreads

Meet the Author:  Jeff loves children’s literature , “One Drop of Kindness” is Jeff’s first published children’s book. It’s Me reads like a fun graphic novel, but it is entirely non fiction. Every character in the book is a real student, or educator. It is so important for us to give access, equity, inclusion, and compassion to all those we meet. “Seeing” each other and embracing our differences are jewels to life! Jeff taught for ten years as an elementary school teacher in grades 4, 5, and 6 and has seven years of administrative experience. He’s always looked at education from a different lens: from someone who hated and struggled with school. Jeff vows to always do his best to help increase opportunities for all students to feel heard, noticed, celebrated, challenged and safe. Jeff works hard to push back against the old model of “Industrialized Education” and fight compliance. There is not a day that goes by that he is not looking ahead to improve teacher pedagogy, student engagement and digital access for all. Being a former world class swimmer and coach and looks at education from perspectives that others don’t. Jeff knows what it takes to fail, struggle, win and go through the daily challenges that we all face. Jeff is based in California and can be found at jeffkubiak.com, Twitter at @jeffreykubiak and https://jeffkubiak.blogspot.com/.

connect with author: 

website ~ twitter ~ facebook ~ instagram ~ goodreads


Tour Schedule:
Jan 25 – Splashes of Joy – book review / author interview / giveaway
Jan 26 – Cover Lover Book Review – book review / author interview / giveaway
Jan 27 – Jazzy Book Reviews – book review / giveaway
Jan 28 – Rockin’ Book Reviews – book review / guest post / giveaway
Jan 29 – Sadie’s Spotlight – book spotlight / giveaway
Feb 2 – ’cause I said so & other advent in Parenting –review / guest post / give
Feb 3 – Reading is My Passion – book review / giveaway
Feb 4 – Book Corner News and Reviews – book spotlight / giveaway
Feb 5 Pick a Good Book – book review / guest post / giveaway
Feb 8 – Reading Authors Network – book review / giveaway
Feb 8  – Library of Clean Reads – book review / giveaway
Feb 9 – Books, Tea, Healthy Me – book review / auth interview / give
Feb 10 – Bound 4 Escape – book review / giveaway
Feb 11 I’d Rather Be At The Beach – book review / giveaway
Feb 12 – Ice Fairy’s Treasure Chest – book review / giveaway
Feb 12 – KC Beanie Boos Collection – book review

Enter the Giveaway:

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