Verb Vixen

I read. I listen. I watch. I write.
Monday, July 28
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Model Undercover: Paris by Carina Axelsson
I’ve loved a good sleuthing mystery since I was a little middle grade reader myself, which is why I jumped at the chance to review Model Undercover: Paris. I loved it! While I personally had a few issues in the start suspending belief that any 16 year old girl wouldn’t want to be a model (WHAT?!), I really loved the story. I enjoyed how dedicated Axelle was to her detective work and how resilient she was in the face of pressure to give up her dreams. The fast-paced cutthroat world of fashion during Paris fashion week makes a splendid backdrop for a mystery. The city itself is a great setting full of secret passageways and creepy catacombs. Of course, there are new friends, a cute boy, and clothes to die for. I highly recommend this book for fans of mystery, fashion, or just a fun story!
Overall: A-
Model Undercover is out now from Sourcebooks! Get your copy here. And check out the next book Model Undercover: New York here
Synopsis:
A Crime of Fashion…
Nancy Drew meets The Devil Wears Prada in the debut of this action-packed mystery series
Author Carina Axelsson, is a former professional model and draws her inspiration for this teen sleuth series from years of experience on the catwalk and a long time love ofScooby Doo. 
Axelle Andersen wants nothing more than to be a teen-sleuth despite the influence of her pushy fashionista aunt, Venetia. So when top fashion designer Belle La Lune goes missing, and Aunt Venetia becomes a prime suspect, Axelle must go undercover as a model during Paris Fashion Week to uncover the truth behind Belle’s disappearance and clear her aunt’s name.
She’s thrust into a frenetic world of castings, photo shoots, and sequins, while struggling to fit in and track down clues. Can Axelle solve a kidnapping and survive the world of fashion?
With educational back matter that includes information about the fashion industry and a glossary of fashion terms, Model Undercover: Paris is a marriage of fashion and mystery that is perfect for aspiring fashionistas and teen sleuths alike. 

About The Author: 
Carina Axelsson Carina Axelsson is a writer, illustrator, and former model. She grew up in California with her Swedish father and Mexican mother. After high school, Carina moved to New York City to model, then on to Paris where she published her first book. She currently lives in in the forests of Germany with four dogs and a very large aquarium full of fish.

Model Undercover: Paris by Carina Axelsson

I’ve loved a good sleuthing mystery since I was a little middle grade reader myself, which is why I jumped at the chance to review Model Undercover: Paris. I loved it! While I personally had a few issues in the start suspending belief that any 16 year old girl wouldn’t want to be a model (WHAT?!), I really loved the story. I enjoyed how dedicated Axelle was to her detective work and how resilient she was in the face of pressure to give up her dreams. The fast-paced cutthroat world of fashion during Paris fashion week makes a splendid backdrop for a mystery. The city itself is a great setting full of secret passageways and creepy catacombs. Of course, there are new friends, a cute boy, and clothes to die for. I highly recommend this book for fans of mystery, fashion, or just a fun story!

Overall: A-

Model Undercover is out now from Sourcebooks! Get your copy here. And check out the next book Model Undercover: New York here

Synopsis:

A Crime of Fashion…

Nancy Drew meets The Devil Wears Prada in the debut of this action-packed mystery series

Author Carina Axelsson, is a former professional model and draws her inspiration for this teen sleuth series from years of experience on the catwalk and a long time love ofScooby Doo. 

Axelle Andersen wants nothing more than to be a teen-sleuth despite the influence of her pushy fashionista aunt, Venetia. So when top fashion designer Belle La Lune goes missing, and Aunt Venetia becomes a prime suspect, Axelle must go undercover as a model during Paris Fashion Week to uncover the truth behind Belle’s disappearance and clear her aunt’s name.

She’s thrust into a frenetic world of castings, photo shoots, and sequins, while struggling to fit in and track down clues. Can Axelle solve a kidnapping and survive the world of fashion?

With educational back matter that includes information about the fashion industry and a glossary of fashion terms, Model Undercover: Paris is a marriage of fashion and mystery that is perfect for aspiring fashionistas and teen sleuths alike. 

About The Author: 

Carina Axelsson Carina Axelsson is a writer, illustrator, and former model. She grew up in California with her Swedish father and Mexican mother. After high school, Carina moved to New York City to model, then on to Paris where she published her first book. She currently lives in in the forests of Germany with four dogs and a very large aquarium full of fish.

Tags:   #i read #reading #books #ya #middle grade #Young Adult Fiction #ya lit #young adult #fashion #mystery #nancy drew #model undercover #sourcebooks #carina axelsson



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Friday, December 20
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Sam Sutton and the Winter of the Warrior Queen by Jordan Jacobs
Book 2 in the Samantha Sutton series is a brilliant blend of archeology, history, action, adventure, mystery, and fun. Jacobs writes compelling action, heart palpitating danger and an entwined history and present in a delightful way for any reader regardless of age. The Winter of the Warrior Queen is not merely a mystery or history, it’s a coming of age story as well, as much about a young girl finding herself and navigativing the shades of gray of life as anything else. With parents who don’t understand her, an uncle who can’t manage to keep her safe, and an archnemesis by the age of 12, Samantha has a lot to contend with.
Throughout the book there is a constant juxtaposition between civilization and nature and the interesting reversal of expectations that Jacobs presents with civilization often times being the more barberous setting. This juxtaposition is one of my favorite topics of thought so I really reveled in the experience of this book. 
And I haven’t even mentioned Boudica yet. I’m a medievalist (my masters is in medieval history and literature with an emphasis on gender) so when someone says Boudica, I practically become Pavlov’s dog hearing a bell. Immediately you have my attention. For Sam Sutton, Boudica becomes this icon —the very image of what women could be, both warrior and queen, leader and hero, rebel and last bastion of a way of life. Interestinly, she is contrasted with the masculine ways of Cambridge and it’s boy-centric anti-girl society as well as the mighty Rome (again can we talk about which is more barbaric?!). When I wrote history papers, I always used to dedicate the papers to my sisters, “that they may always have strong women to look up to.” Boudica is a strong woman and I’m glad to see her story being told to an audience who could use such an example. 
Lastly, there is this question of traditions not needing a reason. In the book, it’s an excuse for excluding women, but it poses an interesting question. What traditions, particularly at this time of year do we perform without a reason? 
I love books that make me think like this, that make me question civilization and nature and tradition. That being said, a younger me would have loved this book too. Sam Sutton is one part Nancy Drew, one part Bones, and one part Goosebumps, and I highly recommend it for readers of all ages!
Overall: A+
Get your copies of Samantha Sutton and the Labrynth of Lies and Samantha Sutton and the Winter of the Warrior Queen today!
I’m also delighted that I got to have Jordan Jacobs on the blog to answer a quick Fast Five for us! He’s got some GREAT answers and one of my favorite christmas songs to boot!
FAST 5:

1. Favorite Word?
“Thicket.” (Could there be a more satisfying word to say?)

Least Favorite Word?
“Mealy.”  (Ugh.  It’s even unpleasant to type!)

2. Favorite Sound?
My toddler daughter’s wonderfully frequent belly laughs.

3. What profession other than author would you like to attempt?
Film director.

4.Favorite historical item?
Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about the cuneiform tablets I saw on display at Istanbul’s Museum of the Ancient Orient. I’m a sucker for any ancient text—the more mundane the better.  What were people thinking about 3300 years ago?  Same things we do, it turns out. Taxes, petty disputes, love.  

5. If there was a theme song for Samantha Sutton and the Winter of the Warrior Queen what would it be?

I tend to listen to music when I write – especially when I edit.  Movie soundtracks work well, and so does classical guitar.  But there are some times where I need a region-specific playlist to keep the spirit of the setting in mind.
For my first book, Samantha Sutton and the Labyrinth of Lies, it was Andean folk music. My limited knowledge of the genre made song selection easy.  But for a book set in England, how to even begin?  Samantha Sutton and the Winter of the Warrior Queen takes place in the present and explores events that occurred two thousand years ago, giving me centuries of British music to work with: from Handel to the Stones, from the Beatles to Purcell.
What worked was a little bit of everything.
Recent British music brings me back to my time in the UK– to the college bops, society swaps, cheesy nightclubs and fun, frenetic London. But, in writing, I leaned mostly on the Anglican choral tradition - the most English of English music, at least for me. I used to love attending Evensong services at Oxford and Cambridge, and hearing that music today puts me again in those hard-backed pews.  

And as for a specific song? Modern software makes this easy, tracking the number of plays.  The winner, it seems, was Holst’s In the Bleak Midwinter—an English poem set to music by an English composer.  It’s haunting, it’s beautiful, and it’s sad—the perfect theme song for the Warrior Queen’s quieter moments.
Thanks so much Jordan for stopping by! Come back anytime you’d like!
To all my lovely V.V. readers, If you haven’t heard In the Bleak Midwinter before check it out here and be sure to pick up Samantha Sutton and the Labrynth of Lies and Samantha Sutton and the Winter of the Warrior Queen for yourself or those young readers of yours for Christmas!

Sam Sutton and the Winter of the Warrior Queen by Jordan Jacobs

Book 2 in the Samantha Sutton series is a brilliant blend of archeology, history, action, adventure, mystery, and fun. Jacobs writes compelling action, heart palpitating danger and an entwined history and present in a delightful way for any reader regardless of age. The Winter of the Warrior Queen is not merely a mystery or history, it’s a coming of age story as well, as much about a young girl finding herself and navigativing the shades of gray of life as anything else. With parents who don’t understand her, an uncle who can’t manage to keep her safe, and an archnemesis by the age of 12, Samantha has a lot to contend with.

Throughout the book there is a constant juxtaposition between civilization and nature and the interesting reversal of expectations that Jacobs presents with civilization often times being the more barberous setting. This juxtaposition is one of my favorite topics of thought so I really reveled in the experience of this book. 

And I haven’t even mentioned Boudica yet. I’m a medievalist (my masters is in medieval history and literature with an emphasis on gender) so when someone says Boudica, I practically become Pavlov’s dog hearing a bell. Immediately you have my attention. For Sam Sutton, Boudica becomes this icon —the very image of what women could be, both warrior and queen, leader and hero, rebel and last bastion of a way of life. Interestinly, she is contrasted with the masculine ways of Cambridge and it’s boy-centric anti-girl society as well as the mighty Rome (again can we talk about which is more barbaric?!). When I wrote history papers, I always used to dedicate the papers to my sisters, “that they may always have strong women to look up to.” Boudica is a strong woman and I’m glad to see her story being told to an audience who could use such an example. 

Lastly, there is this question of traditions not needing a reason. In the book, it’s an excuse for excluding women, but it poses an interesting question. What traditions, particularly at this time of year do we perform without a reason? 

I love books that make me think like this, that make me question civilization and nature and tradition. That being said, a younger me would have loved this book too. Sam Sutton is one part Nancy Drew, one part Bones, and one part Goosebumps, and I highly recommend it for readers of all ages!

Overall: A+

Get your copies of Samantha Sutton and the Labrynth of Lies and Samantha Sutton and the Winter of the Warrior Queen today!

I’m also delighted that I got to have Jordan Jacobs on the blog to answer a quick Fast Five for us! He’s got some GREAT answers and one of my favorite christmas songs to boot!

FAST 5:

1. Favorite Word?

“Thicket.” (Could there be a more satisfying word to say?)

Least Favorite Word?

“Mealy.”  (Ugh.  It’s even unpleasant to type!)

2. Favorite Sound?

My toddler daughter’s wonderfully frequent belly laughs.

3. What profession other than author would you like to attempt?

Film director.

4.Favorite historical item?

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about the cuneiform tablets I saw on display at Istanbul’s Museum of the Ancient Orient. I’m a sucker for any ancient text—the more mundane the better.  What were people thinking about 3300 years ago?  Same things we do, it turns out. Taxes, petty disputes, love.  

5. If there was a theme song for Samantha Sutton and the Winter of the Warrior Queen what would it be?

I tend to listen to music when I write – especially when I edit.  Movie soundtracks work well, and so does classical guitar.  But there are some times where I need a region-specific playlist to keep the spirit of the setting in mind.

For my first book, Samantha Sutton and the Labyrinth of Lies, it was Andean folk music. My limited knowledge of the genre made song selection easy.  But for a book set in England, how to even begin?  Samantha Sutton and the Winter of the Warrior Queen takes place in the present and explores events that occurred two thousand years ago, giving me centuries of British music to work with: from Handel to the Stones, from the Beatles to Purcell.

What worked was a little bit of everything.

Recent British music brings me back to my time in the UK– to the college bops, society swaps, cheesy nightclubs and fun, frenetic London. But, in writing, I leaned mostly on the Anglican choral tradition - the most English of English music, at least for me. I used to love attending Evensong services at Oxford and Cambridge, and hearing that music today puts me again in those hard-backed pews.  

And as for a specific song? Modern software makes this easy, tracking the number of plays.  The winner, it seems, was Holst’s In the Bleak Midwinter—an English poem set to music by an English composer.  It’s haunting, it’s beautiful, and it’s sad—the perfect theme song for the Warrior Queen’s quieter moments.

Thanks so much Jordan for stopping by! Come back anytime you’d like!

To all my lovely V.V. readers, If you haven’t heard In the Bleak Midwinter before check it out here and be sure to pick up Samantha Sutton and the Labrynth of Lies and Samantha Sutton and the Winter of the Warrior Queen for yourself or those young readers of yours for Christmas!


Tags:   #i read #middle grade #young adult #ya #books #publishing #sourcebooks #samantha sutton #mystery #history #action #adventure #archeology #the winter of the warrior queen #labrynth of lies #jordan jacobs


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Thursday, December 5
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I’m so excited to bring you the cover and a sneak peek at Geoff Herbach’s new book, Fat Boys vs The Cheerleader! It’s not just a war against the “in-crowd,” it’s a revolution! It’s going to be an awesome read! Check out the exercept below and pre-order your copy here!xoxo
V.V.
Fat Boy vs. the Cheerleaders
by Geoff Herbach
Sourcebooks Fire
MEMORANDUM
From: Henry P. Rodriguez, Attorney at Law
Submitted To: Seventh District Court, Otter County
Re: Case No. 1745321—Gardener et al v. MLA Independent School District
SHORTLY BEFORE MIDNIGHT ON JUNE 15, GABRIEL JOHNSON, A SIXTEEN-YEAR-OLD FROM MINNEKOTA, MN, WAS APPREHENDED OUTSIDE CUB FOODS BY OFFICER REX McCOY. JOHNSON POSSESSED $17.75 IN SMALL BILLS AND CHANGE, WHICH HE CONFIRMED HAD BEEN REMOVED FROM THE VENDING MACHINE AT MINNEKOTA LAKE AREA HIGH SCHOOL.
POLICE SUGGESTED THE ALLEGED ROBBERY WAS RELATED TO A LARGER CONFLICT INVOLVING ASSAULT, VANDALISM, AND DEFAMATION OF CHARACTER THAT HAS COME TO BE KNOWN AS THE SPUNK RIVER WAR.
THE FOLLOWING TRANSCRIPT IS GABRIEL’S VERBATIM ACCOUNT, RECORDED IN A CONFERENCE ROOM AT THE MINNEKOTA POLICE DEPARTMENT BETWEEN 10 A.M. AND 5:40 P.M. ON JUNE 16.
WE SUBMIT THIS DOCUMENT AS CONTEXT FOR THE ABOVE NOTED CASE. THERE IS A SPECIFIC HUMAN COST WHEN THOSE IN POWER WIELD POWER ARROGANTLY. THIS CASE SUPPORTS A TEENAGER’S FIGHT FOR DIGNITY, OPPORTUNITY, AND FAIRNESS.
Chapter 1
Ripping off the pop machine last night wasn’t meant to be funny. It was my duty to all the geeks, burners and oddballs in school, because that machine sucks. Robbing it was serious business, okay?
Why are you laughing, Mr. Rodriguez?
I did it myself. I robbed the machine all by myself.
There were sheep in the school this morning? Real sheep?
How—? Oh, wait, I remember now. I must’ve let them in there by accident. Whoops. Like, left the door open after I robbed the machine and all those sheep wandered in by themselves.
No, it’s not funny, sir. Really.
I’m telling you, I’m the one who stole the money. It was eighteen dollars, but I lost a quarter when Officer McCoy roughed me up. Look at my chin! I have scrapes all over my stomach and knees, too.
That stupid pop machine. Stupid pop! It all started with that stupid…
Yeah I hate that machine! For so many reasons.
For instance, in May, me, Justin Cornell and Camille Gardener did this pop study for health class. The study was Camille’s idea, because she turned into a health nut when her dad started organic farming last year (they grew like two tomatoes and a one giant zucchini—they’re not the best farmers). Anyway, out of Camille’s concern for student health, she got us to study usage of the pop machine, her theory being that unhealthy kids would be the heaviest users.
Big, bad study, sir. Mr. Luken, our Health teacher, gave us passes to hang out in the cafeteria all day. We made a chart of jocks, brains, music geeks, gamers, burners, and “others” (sad sacks who are hard to categorize because they have no social connections to anyone) and we took note of who purchased a product from the pop machine and what specific product they purchased.
Almost nobody paid attention to us while we took notes. Only a couple said stuff like, “What are you staring at, dorks?” Seth Sellers, a jock, made fart sounds when he saw me.
This pop project was eye-opening, sir.
After school that day, me, Camille and Justin went to Bitterroot Coffee Shop down on Main Street to tally things up.
“Nick, Gamer, purchased three Pepsis in four hours,” Justin said.
“Kendra, Burner, four different pops in five hours,” Camille said.
“She’s pretty overweight,” Justin said.
“Not as big as Tiff, Other, who bought four bottles of Sierra Mist,” Camille said.
“Oh Lord Mother of all Balls,” I said.
Camille plugged the data into a spreadsheet, squinting.
Justin shook his head, sucked his latte and was all like, “Whoa.”
Then Camille sat back, sipped her green tea and was all like, “Just as I suspected.”
I smiled and said, “Holy Mother of all Balls, right?” I drank a mocha with whipped cream, which has a million calories, by the way.
Here’s the scoop, sir: Purchasers of pop at Minnekota Lake Area High School are fat asses, trailer park kids, addicted gamers, and burner chicks who eat cigarettes for breakfast. Dozens and dozens of these kids. Most of them went for second rounds later in the day. Some for thirds. A couple, fourths (me, for instance). Very few jocks purchased pop from the machine. (Seth Sellers bought one bottle of Pepsi late in the afternoon, so he was able to greet me with the aforementioned fart sounds.) Two cheerleaders purchased from the machine, but they both bought diet. That diet stuff will kill you, but not make you fat on the calories.
What does that tell you, Mr. Rodriguez?
I tried not to show my concern, but Justin and Camille were clearly concerned.
“You drink a lot of pop, Chunk,” Justin said. “Could be part of the problem,”
“Oh, is there a problem?” I said. “I wasn’t aware of a problem!” I smiled big and raised my fat mocha like I was making a toast.
“There’s a problem, Chunk,” Camille said. “A big problem.” She didn’t smile. She didn’t toast me.
“I’m just sayin’,” Justin said.
Yeah. Really. A problem. I drank a hell-ton of Code Red Mountain Dew every day—four bottles, five bottles—and the only pants that fit me were stretchy pants (elastic waistband, sir).
I knew it, too, knew pop was part of my issue. But, see, I also thought it was part of my success! I was winning by buying all that pop! All the vending machine money went to fund the band! I’m a trombone player, you know? That’s one badass, hilarious instrument, right? Trombone! Awesome instrument. I love band so much so I figured I was paying myself by drinking all that pop. Winning it huge.
No. Stupid.
The truth is, I’ve gained a load of weight in the last couple of years. Kids call me fat ass, sausages, fudge balls, butter balls, cake balls, lard ass, 8 Butt Johnson. All kinds of names. I laugh and go along with it, but those names hurt my feelings.
Even my stupid gym teacher calls me names!
The day after our pop study, I was depressed, so it took me a long time to get to school, so I was late to gym class, so Mr. McCartney ordered me to “orbit,” which means run laps. I didn’t want to get detention (McCartney had been threatening me with detention, because I make jokes and I’m quote unquote mouthy). So I did what I was told.
While I was jogging around the gym, Seth Sellers shouted, “Planet turd in orbit!”
I smiled. “Yeah, watch out, planet earth. This shit ball might crash out of the night sky!” I faked being out of control and weaved off course like I was crashing.
McCartney got pissed. “This isn’t a joke, Chunk,” he said. “This is a punishment.”
“Okay,” I said. “Sorry.” I jogged on, but when I got to the far end of the gym, Janessa Rogers, this nasty cheerleader, said, “Shake it, Chunk! Shake it!”
I puckered my lips duck-face style and started shaking my ass while I jogged.
Everybody laughed.
Everybody except McCartney. He freaked. Way out of control. His face turned dark red and sweat streamed down his forehead. He started yelling, “You wanna be a clown, Chunk? You wanna disrupt my class? Oh, you’re real hilarious!”
I stopped my ass shaking,
“God, I’m sick of it,” McCartney shouted.
I stopped jogging all together. Stared at him, because he was screaming. Everyone else stopped whacking their birds (we were in a badminton unit).
McCartney walked toward me fast. “I’m so sick of your baloney. Sick of your face.”
“My face?” I asked, because I was surprised, because I always thought McCartney sort of liked me, even if I annoyed him.
“Your fat face! Get out of my gym, you sack of shit. Get your fat ass out of here.”
Everybody stared. Everybody’s mouth hung open.
I swallowed hard. Stared at McCartney for a second. Then said, “Okay.” I put my head down and bumbled out of there as fast as my fat legs could carry me.
Terrible. Teacher verbally assaults you like that?
Hey. Why are we talking about this, Mr. Rodriguez? Shouldn’t we be talking about how…how you’re going to keep me from going to jail or something? I’m a little nervous about my crime.
The whole story, huh? Okay. You asked for it. I can talk forever.
Pop. The night after I was kicked out of gym, I pulled five empty bottles of Code Red Mountain Dew out of my backpack (there isn’t recycling at school, so I bring my empties home). One bottle didn’t have a cap on it. A little Code Red dribbled out onto my bedroom rug. It made a little stain. I squinted at it and my heart beat hard.
This stain reminded me of Doris our cleaning lady back when Dad was trying to pick up the pieces after Mom hit the road (Mom ran away to Japan while I was in eighth grade, by the way).
Doris was a tiny old lady. She spilled dirty mop water on the carpet. She said, “Better laugh than cry.” She broke a lamp when she whacked it off a side table with the duster. “Better laugh than cry.”
Poor Doris! She was terrible. She could barely lift a broom, she was so old. Dad had to fire her, which made him cry (serious sobbing breakdown, which he did a lot back then), but what was he going to do? She plugged the toilet with Clorox wipes. She broke a whole set of plates. She fell off a stool and ripped down our shower curtain. Dad had no choice. But when the taxi dropped her off at our place on the day he actually fired her, he broke down like a weak-ass baby. “I’m sorry,” he cried. “I’m so sorry, Doris.”
Doris shrugged and smiled and put her coat back on. I was so nervous about how she would react. What if Doris cried about getting fired? What would we do then? But she didn’t seem to care at all. “Better laugh than cry,” she said. Then Dad drove her home.
And I exhaled. I relaxed. And I thought: Doris has it right, right? Better laugh than cry. I don’t want to be a fool sobbing mess like my dumb dad, who can’t deal with his wife leaving him (my mom left me, too, and I wanted to cry, but seriously, better laugh than cry). That became my whole way of dealing.
A couple years later, there I was, ass dancing in the high school hallway while Seth Sellers mocked me with fart sounds. Laughing all the way, man.
But I stared at that Code Red stain on my rug and my heart beat and I thought, that’s not funny. For the first time, sir, it occurred to me that my total lack of dignity is not remotely funny.
That feeling continued into the night.
Grandpa, who you met this morning, moved in with me and Dad last summer to help us out. He cooks really well and sort of cleans—better than Doris, I guess. After he got too old to be a professional body builder, Grandpa ran a diner in town and the dude can make comfort food like nobody’s business.
Yes, you heard me right, body-builder.
Why are you laughing?
Everybody in town knows about Grandpa. He was Mr. Minnesota 1977, Mr. Rodriguez. I’m serious. The ladies loved him. Grandpa was Arnold Schwarzenegger’s main competition back in the day.
That’s what he told me and I believe him.
Long story short, sir, that night Grandpa cooked up some steaks and a bunch of mushrooms in butter sauce and mashed potatoes and green beans and fixed us salads. The deal is I never ate the green beans or the salad part. I doubled up on mashed potatoes, because oh balls, yes, do I love the awesome flavor of my grandpa’s cream cheese infused mashed potatoes.
While I was sucking down the potatoes, Grandpa stared at me. He said, “Boy, the lack of roughage in your diet accounts for that big gut of yours.”
I looked up, stared back at Grandpa’s pinched face. I remembered Mr. McCartney calling me a fat ass in gym. My heart sank. My chin quivered. “Big gut?” I asked.
"You heard me," he said.
I swallowed hard, thought I might cry, because all these names… But then my Doris philosophy kicked in. I said, “I’m out of here!” I put the rest of the potatoes in my mouth—a giant wad—jumped up from my chair and ass-danced out of the dining room.
“Sure love the spuds, don’t ya, ya Chunk,” Grandpa called after me.
“Ha ha ha!” my dad laughed.
Back downstairs in my room, I stared at the stain again. What the hell is so funny? Am I really just a joke? I pictured Doris’s quivery arms and unsteady gaze and her wrinkled old face.
Then it hit me! Oh man, I thought. Crap! You’re not Doris, you idiot. 
Total realization, sir. Doris couldn’t help it that she was so old. What was she going to do? Cry about living so long she no longer had control of her body? Better laugh than cry makes sense for her. I, on the other hand, have a choice. I’m a powerful young buck. Ass dancing isn’t the only option, right?
Don’t get me wrong, sir, I like being funny. But I don’t like…
You asked for it! The whole story! This totally has to do with the pop machine.
See, I was already pretty crabby that last week of school. Because I tried to limit my Code Red intake to three bottles a day, because I didn’t want to be a victim anymore, didn’t want to just laugh it all off. I wanted to do something for myself. I’d become dependent on the sugar and caffeine in the freaking pop, okay?
 Justin and Camille both commented on my bad mood.
“Why so sad?” Justin asked while driving me to school.
“Someone hit you with the sad stick?” Camille asked during chemistry.
“Bah,” I replied to both of them. “Screw everything.”
See? I was already evolving the attitude that caused me to become the criminal I am today.
Then, Wednesday that last week of school we had the first tiny event of what has since come to be known as the Spunk River War.
What a stupid name. Spunk. That’s a bonehead name.
Sure thing, sir. Go ahead and get coffee. I’ll be here when you get back. Not like I can go anywhere.

I’m so excited to bring you the cover and a sneak peek at Geoff Herbach’s new book, Fat Boys vs The Cheerleader! It’s not just a war against the “in-crowd,” it’s a revolution! It’s going to be an awesome read! Check out the exercept below and pre-order your copy here!
xoxo

V.V.

Fat Boy vs. the Cheerleaders

by Geoff Herbach

Sourcebooks Fire

MEMORANDUM

From: Henry P. Rodriguez, Attorney at Law

Submitted To: Seventh District Court, Otter County

Re: Case No. 1745321—Gardener et al v. MLA Independent School District

SHORTLY BEFORE MIDNIGHT ON JUNE 15, GABRIEL JOHNSON, A SIXTEEN-YEAR-OLD FROM MINNEKOTA, MN, WAS APPREHENDED OUTSIDE CUB FOODS BY OFFICER REX McCOY. JOHNSON POSSESSED $17.75 IN SMALL BILLS AND CHANGE, WHICH HE CONFIRMED HAD BEEN REMOVED FROM THE VENDING MACHINE AT MINNEKOTA LAKE AREA HIGH SCHOOL.

POLICE SUGGESTED THE ALLEGED ROBBERY WAS RELATED TO A LARGER CONFLICT INVOLVING ASSAULT, VANDALISM, AND DEFAMATION OF CHARACTER THAT HAS COME TO BE KNOWN AS THE SPUNK RIVER WAR.

THE FOLLOWING TRANSCRIPT IS GABRIEL’S VERBATIM ACCOUNT, RECORDED IN A CONFERENCE ROOM AT THE MINNEKOTA POLICE DEPARTMENT BETWEEN 10 A.M. AND 5:40 P.M. ON JUNE 16.

WE SUBMIT THIS DOCUMENT AS CONTEXT FOR THE ABOVE NOTED CASE. THERE IS A SPECIFIC HUMAN COST WHEN THOSE IN POWER WIELD POWER ARROGANTLY. THIS CASE SUPPORTS A TEENAGER’S FIGHT FOR DIGNITY, OPPORTUNITY, AND FAIRNESS.

Chapter 1

Ripping off the pop machine last night wasn’t meant to be funny. It was my duty to all the geeks, burners and oddballs in school, because that machine sucks. Robbing it was serious business, okay?

Why are you laughing, Mr. Rodriguez?

I did it myself. I robbed the machine all by myself.

There were sheep in the school this morning? Real sheep?

How—? Oh, wait, I remember now. I must’ve let them in there by accident. Whoops. Like, left the door open after I robbed the machine and all those sheep wandered in by themselves.

No, it’s not funny, sir. Really.

I’m telling you, I’m the one who stole the money. It was eighteen dollars, but I lost a quarter when Officer McCoy roughed me up. Look at my chin! I have scrapes all over my stomach and knees, too.

That stupid pop machine. Stupid pop! It all started with that stupid…

Yeah I hate that machine! For so many reasons.

For instance, in May, me, Justin Cornell and Camille Gardener did this pop study for health class. The study was Camille’s idea, because she turned into a health nut when her dad started organic farming last year (they grew like two tomatoes and a one giant zucchini—they’re not the best farmers). Anyway, out of Camille’s concern for student health, she got us to study usage of the pop machine, her theory being that unhealthy kids would be the heaviest users.

Big, bad study, sir. Mr. Luken, our Health teacher, gave us passes to hang out in the cafeteria all day. We made a chart of jocks, brains, music geeks, gamers, burners, and “others” (sad sacks who are hard to categorize because they have no social connections to anyone) and we took note of who purchased a product from the pop machine and what specific product they purchased.

Almost nobody paid attention to us while we took notes. Only a couple said stuff like, “What are you staring at, dorks?” Seth Sellers, a jock, made fart sounds when he saw me.

This pop project was eye-opening, sir.

After school that day, me, Camille and Justin went to Bitterroot Coffee Shop down on Main Street to tally things up.

“Nick, Gamer, purchased three Pepsis in four hours,” Justin said.

“Kendra, Burner, four different pops in five hours,” Camille said.

“She’s pretty overweight,” Justin said.

“Not as big as Tiff, Other, who bought four bottles of Sierra Mist,” Camille said.

“Oh Lord Mother of all Balls,” I said.

Camille plugged the data into a spreadsheet, squinting.

Justin shook his head, sucked his latte and was all like, “Whoa.”

Then Camille sat back, sipped her green tea and was all like, “Just as I suspected.”

I smiled and said, “Holy Mother of all Balls, right?” I drank a mocha with whipped cream, which has a million calories, by the way.

Here’s the scoop, sir: Purchasers of pop at Minnekota Lake Area High School are fat asses, trailer park kids, addicted gamers, and burner chicks who eat cigarettes for breakfast. Dozens and dozens of these kids. Most of them went for second rounds later in the day. Some for thirds. A couple, fourths (me, for instance). Very few jocks purchased pop from the machine. (Seth Sellers bought one bottle of Pepsi late in the afternoon, so he was able to greet me with the aforementioned fart sounds.) Two cheerleaders purchased from the machine, but they both bought diet. That diet stuff will kill you, but not make you fat on the calories.

What does that tell you, Mr. Rodriguez?

I tried not to show my concern, but Justin and Camille were clearly concerned.

“You drink a lot of pop, Chunk,” Justin said. “Could be part of the problem,”

“Oh, is there a problem?” I said. “I wasn’t aware of a problem!” I smiled big and raised my fat mocha like I was making a toast.

“There’s a problem, Chunk,” Camille said. “A big problem.” She didn’t smile. She didn’t toast me.

“I’m just sayin’,” Justin said.

Yeah. Really. A problem. I drank a hell-ton of Code Red Mountain Dew every day—four bottles, five bottles—and the only pants that fit me were stretchy pants (elastic waistband, sir).

I knew it, too, knew pop was part of my issue. But, see, I also thought it was part of my success! I was winning by buying all that pop! All the vending machine money went to fund the band! I’m a trombone player, you know? That’s one badass, hilarious instrument, right? Trombone! Awesome instrument. I love band so much so I figured I was paying myself by drinking all that pop. Winning it huge.

No. Stupid.

The truth is, I’ve gained a load of weight in the last couple of years. Kids call me fat ass, sausages, fudge balls, butter balls, cake balls, lard ass, 8 Butt Johnson. All kinds of names. I laugh and go along with it, but those names hurt my feelings.

Even my stupid gym teacher calls me names!

The day after our pop study, I was depressed, so it took me a long time to get to school, so I was late to gym class, so Mr. McCartney ordered me to “orbit,” which means run laps. I didn’t want to get detention (McCartney had been threatening me with detention, because I make jokes and I’m quote unquote mouthy). So I did what I was told.

While I was jogging around the gym, Seth Sellers shouted, “Planet turd in orbit!”

I smiled. “Yeah, watch out, planet earth. This shit ball might crash out of the night sky!” I faked being out of control and weaved off course like I was crashing.

McCartney got pissed. “This isn’t a joke, Chunk,” he said. “This is a punishment.”

“Okay,” I said. “Sorry.” I jogged on, but when I got to the far end of the gym, Janessa Rogers, this nasty cheerleader, said, “Shake it, Chunk! Shake it!”

I puckered my lips duck-face style and started shaking my ass while I jogged.

Everybody laughed.

Everybody except McCartney. He freaked. Way out of control. His face turned dark red and sweat streamed down his forehead. He started yelling, “You wanna be a clown, Chunk? You wanna disrupt my class? Oh, you’re real hilarious!”

I stopped my ass shaking,

“God, I’m sick of it,” McCartney shouted.

I stopped jogging all together. Stared at him, because he was screaming. Everyone else stopped whacking their birds (we were in a badminton unit).

McCartney walked toward me fast. “I’m so sick of your baloney. Sick of your face.”

“My face?” I asked, because I was surprised, because I always thought McCartney sort of liked me, even if I annoyed him.

“Your fat face! Get out of my gym, you sack of shit. Get your fat ass out of here.”

Everybody stared. Everybody’s mouth hung open.

I swallowed hard. Stared at McCartney for a second. Then said, “Okay.” I put my head down and bumbled out of there as fast as my fat legs could carry me.

Terrible. Teacher verbally assaults you like that?

Hey. Why are we talking about this, Mr. Rodriguez? Shouldn’t we be talking about how…how you’re going to keep me from going to jail or something? I’m a little nervous about my crime.

The whole story, huh? Okay. You asked for it. I can talk forever.

Pop. The night after I was kicked out of gym, I pulled five empty bottles of Code Red Mountain Dew out of my backpack (there isn’t recycling at school, so I bring my empties home). One bottle didn’t have a cap on it. A little Code Red dribbled out onto my bedroom rug. It made a little stain. I squinted at it and my heart beat hard.

This stain reminded me of Doris our cleaning lady back when Dad was trying to pick up the pieces after Mom hit the road (Mom ran away to Japan while I was in eighth grade, by the way).

Doris was a tiny old lady. She spilled dirty mop water on the carpet. She said, “Better laugh than cry.” She broke a lamp when she whacked it off a side table with the duster. “Better laugh than cry.”

Poor Doris! She was terrible. She could barely lift a broom, she was so old. Dad had to fire her, which made him cry (serious sobbing breakdown, which he did a lot back then), but what was he going to do? She plugged the toilet with Clorox wipes. She broke a whole set of plates. She fell off a stool and ripped down our shower curtain. Dad had no choice. But when the taxi dropped her off at our place on the day he actually fired her, he broke down like a weak-ass baby. “I’m sorry,” he cried. “I’m so sorry, Doris.”

Doris shrugged and smiled and put her coat back on. I was so nervous about how she would react. What if Doris cried about getting fired? What would we do then? But she didn’t seem to care at all. “Better laugh than cry,” she said. Then Dad drove her home.

And I exhaled. I relaxed. And I thought: Doris has it right, right? Better laugh than cry. I don’t want to be a fool sobbing mess like my dumb dad, who can’t deal with his wife leaving him (my mom left me, too, and I wanted to cry, but seriously, better laugh than cry). That became my whole way of dealing.

A couple years later, there I was, ass dancing in the high school hallway while Seth Sellers mocked me with fart sounds. Laughing all the way, man.

But I stared at that Code Red stain on my rug and my heart beat and I thought, that’s not funny. For the first time, sir, it occurred to me that my total lack of dignity is not remotely funny.

That feeling continued into the night.

Grandpa, who you met this morning, moved in with me and Dad last summer to help us out. He cooks really well and sort of cleans—better than Doris, I guess. After he got too old to be a professional body builder, Grandpa ran a diner in town and the dude can make comfort food like nobody’s business.

Yes, you heard me right, body-builder.

Why are you laughing?

Everybody in town knows about Grandpa. He was Mr. Minnesota 1977, Mr. Rodriguez. I’m serious. The ladies loved him. Grandpa was Arnold Schwarzenegger’s main competition back in the day.

That’s what he told me and I believe him.

Long story short, sir, that night Grandpa cooked up some steaks and a bunch of mushrooms in butter sauce and mashed potatoes and green beans and fixed us salads. The deal is I never ate the green beans or the salad part. I doubled up on mashed potatoes, because oh balls, yes, do I love the awesome flavor of my grandpa’s cream cheese infused mashed potatoes.

While I was sucking down the potatoes, Grandpa stared at me. He said, “Boy, the lack of roughage in your diet accounts for that big gut of yours.”

I looked up, stared back at Grandpa’s pinched face. I remembered Mr. McCartney calling me a fat ass in gym. My heart sank. My chin quivered. “Big gut?” I asked.

"You heard me," he said.

I swallowed hard, thought I might cry, because all these names… But then my Doris philosophy kicked in. I said, “I’m out of here!” I put the rest of the potatoes in my mouth—a giant wad—jumped up from my chair and ass-danced out of the dining room.

“Sure love the spuds, don’t ya, ya Chunk,” Grandpa called after me.

“Ha ha ha!” my dad laughed.

Back downstairs in my room, I stared at the stain again. What the hell is so funny? Am I really just a joke? I pictured Doris’s quivery arms and unsteady gaze and her wrinkled old face.

Then it hit me! Oh man, I thought. Crap! You’re not Doris, you idiot.

Total realization, sir. Doris couldn’t help it that she was so old. What was she going to do? Cry about living so long she no longer had control of her body? Better laugh than cry makes sense for her. I, on the other hand, have a choice. I’m a powerful young buck. Ass dancing isn’t the only option, right?

Don’t get me wrong, sir, I like being funny. But I don’t like…

You asked for it! The whole story! This totally has to do with the pop machine.

See, I was already pretty crabby that last week of school. Because I tried to limit my Code Red intake to three bottles a day, because I didn’t want to be a victim anymore, didn’t want to just laugh it all off. I wanted to do something for myself. I’d become dependent on the sugar and caffeine in the freaking pop, okay?

 Justin and Camille both commented on my bad mood.

“Why so sad?” Justin asked while driving me to school.

“Someone hit you with the sad stick?” Camille asked during chemistry.

“Bah,” I replied to both of them. “Screw everything.”

See? I was already evolving the attitude that caused me to become the criminal I am today.

Then, Wednesday that last week of school we had the first tiny event of what has since come to be known as the Spunk River War.

What a stupid name. Spunk. That’s a bonehead name.

Sure thing, sir. Go ahead and get coffee. I’ll be here when you get back. Not like I can go anywhere.

Tags:   #i read #books #ya #young adult #ya lit #young adult fiction #reading #publishing #sourcebooks #fat boy vs the cheerleaders #geoff herbach



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Friday, November 22
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I’m delighted to bring you, my dear readers, a pre-order gift opportunity from Sourcebooks for Miranda Kenneally’s new YA Racing Savannah. Read on for more about the book and how you can score an exclusive horseshoe key chain for preordering!

xoxo

V.V.

From Sourcebooks….

They’re from two different worlds, but Savannah isn’t exactly one to follow the rules… get the next contemporary novel from blockbuster YA novelist Miranda Kenneally: RACING SAVANNAH!

Right before her senior year, Savannah’s father whisks the family off to Tennessee to work as head groom at fancy Cedar Hill Farms. Savannah finally sees it as the perfect opportunity to earn extra money as an exercise rider—no matter how many others don’t want a girl around the barn.  But she’s also caught the eye of Jack Goodwin, the owner’s son. She knows the rules: no mixing between the staff and the Goodwin family. But Jack has no such boundaries. With her dream of becoming a jockey, Savannah is not going to let someone tell her a girl isn’t tough enough to race. Sure, it’s dangerous. Then again, so is dating Jack.

We’ve put together a fun campaign to thank readers for pre-ordering: send us your proof of pre-order and we’ll send you this fabulous horseshoe key chain!

A Gift for You, for Pre-Ordering RACING SAVANNAH by Miranda Kenneally

We have a special offer for U.S. and Canada YA fans for the release of RACING SAVANNAH by Miranda Kenneally in stores in a little over three weeks! If you pre-order the book, we will send you an exclusive horseshoe key chain—perfect for any busy teen on the go! You have until December 2 or until quantities run out.

Here’s how to get your charm:
1. Pre-order the book (print or eBook) through any retailer (Barnes & Noble, Amazon, your local independent bookseller/Indiebound, Books-A-Million, Hastings, etc.)

2. Email your proof of purchase (receipt or picture of the receipt) to teenfire@sourcebooks.com. Put “Racing Savannah Pre-Order” in the subject line. Don’t forget to include your home address (US & Canada only please) so we can send you the horseshoe key chain! If you’ve already pre-ordered this book—not a problem! Send us your receipt!

3. You will get an email back confirming when the items have been sent out. 

4. Enjoy Racing Savannah when it comes out in December!

Optional: take a pic of you and your horseshoe key chain and share it with Miranda Kenneally or Sourcebooks Fire on Twitter! You can find Miranda @mirandakennealy and Sourcebooks Fire @sourcebooksfire.

Tags:   #i read #ya #miranda kenneally #racing savannah #sourcebooks #publishing #read #books #horseshoes #pre-order



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Monday, December 31
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Real Mermaids Don’t Need High Heels review below!

Real Mermaids Don’t Need High Heels review below!

Tags:   #covers #real mermaids #sourcebooks


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Tuesday, December 11
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In anticipation of the third book release in the Real Mermaid series by Helene Boudreau, Real Mermaids Don’t Need High Heels, we’re delighted to bring you a yummy, festive holiday treat from Jade! A super easy and super yummy raspberry mug cake! Oh, and be sure to check back tomorrow to read our review of Real Mermaids Don’t Need High Heels!

xoxo,

V.V.

Real Mermaids Festive Treats

Hi everyone! Jade here from Real Mermaids. 

One of my favourite things about the upcoming holidays is the great treats we get to make and share. I love food so much, in fact, that I included a recipe for some of my favourite snacks in each of the Real Mermaids books. 

My friend Cori and I thought we’d experiment a bit and ‘holiday-ize’ each recipe for you!

In Real Mermaids Don’t Wear Toe Rings, I was stuck at my Gran’s cottage without any chocolate in sight. That’s when I turned to Google and found a recipe for a 5-minute Chocolate Mug Cake. Yes! Cake in FIVE MINUTES. I added raspberries and whipped cream to this version. Holiday dessert, anyone?


Chocolate Mug Cake with Raspberries and Whipped Cream

First, get yourself the biggest microwaveable mug in the cupboard. Add:

- 4 tablespoons flour 

- 4 tablespoons sugar 

- 2 tablespoons cocoa 

 Mix it well. Then add:

- 1 egg 

Mix. Then add:

- 3 tablespoons milk 

- 3 tablespoons oil 

Mix. Then add:

- 3 tablespoons chocolate chips (NOT optional—at least as far as I’m concerned) 

- 1 capful of vanilla extract 

And… MIX! 

Cook in the microwave for 3 minutes at 1000 watts (high). The cake will look like it’s going to overflow but don’t freak out! Let it cool for a bit (unless you want to burn your lips off) and add raspberries and whipped cream to make it fancy, then ENJOY!

Happy treats and have a great holiday, everyone!

Love, 

Jade


About the Book:

Everyone’s favorite mer-girl Jade is back to make a big splash as she enters high school in the hilarious,  third installment of the critically-acclaimed Real Mermaids series, Real Mermaids Don’t Need High Heels (February 2013; ISBN: 978-1-4022-6458-0; $6.99 U.S.; Juvenile Fiction; 240 pgs.; Sourcebooks Jabberwocky; Ages 9 and up).

In Real Mermaids Don’t Need High Heels,Jade is finally ready for life to return to normal—even if starting ninth grade is like being a goldfish in a shark tank and being asked to the school dance means Jade must get over her fear of awkward dancing.

But just as Jade settles into high school life, there is unrest in the ocean, and the whole mer-world is on the brink of civil war. Can Jade find a plus-sized dress that doesn’t look like a shower curtain, keep her mer-ness a secret, and finally figure out if she and Luke are officially dating? Who knew being a high school freshman is even more awkward than being a plus-sized aqua-phobic mer-girl?

The Author:

Hélène Boudreau never spotted a real mermaid while growing up on an island surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, but she believes mermaids are just as plausible as giant squids, flying fish, or electric eels. She now writes fiction and nonfiction for kids from her landlocked home in Ontario, Canada. Her first book of this series, Real Mermaids Don’t Wear Toe Rings, was a 2011 SCBWI Crystal Kite Award finalist. Learn more about Helene at www.heleneboudreau.com.

Tags:   #blog tour #cake #covers #helene boudreau #real mermaids #real mermaids love the holidays #recipes #sourcebooks #real mermaids don't need high heels


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Friday, August 17
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BLOG TOUR: A Bad Day for Voodoo

I’m so excited to be part of the blog tour for Jeff Strand’s A Bad Day for Voodoo!  

A Bad Day for Voodoo

Glad we covered that. Now, I want you to imagine you very worst day ever. Okay, now I’m going to need you to imagine that bad day getting worst by say, ohhh, x1000. That’s what A Bad Day for Voodoo is like; it is that level of bad day. 

 

It is humorous horror, if such a genre exists. There is a frantic pace to the plot and to the dialogue/writing. Both the pace and the story pretty much define action/adventure. Adam is perhaps actually dumber than a rock, while pragmatic and practical Kelley is a good counterbalance for him. Tyler meets them somewhere in the middle and has perhaps the most outrageous impulses I’ve ever read. When I think about the plot the only phrase I can come up with is “a ridiculous riot.” We’re talking voodoo dolls, zombies, crazy cabbies, gangsters, shootouts, guarddogs, and so much more. Frankly the book is worth the read just for the FAQ section which had me laughing out loud. I didn’t mind the “Intermission” either. If you’re okay putting reality aside for a little while, if you’re in it to laugh and to be caught up in the fun, then A Bad Day for Voodoo is a perfect read for you. 

Overall: A-

A Bad Day for Voodoo is out now from Sourcebooks! Get your copy now. Want to know more about the plot? Keep reading

Synopsis: Tyler was majorly mad when his teacher gave him an F on his final.  But he didn’t really believe one quick poke on a voodoo doll would make Mr. Chick’s leg explode.  He definitely didn’t think his best friend Adam, who gave him the doll in the first place, would blackmail him with a second doll made in Tyler’s image.  And then his car is hijacked…with the dolls inside. With a group of deadly car thieves, a suspicious cop, parents who demand that they come home “right this minute” and countless other obstacles, they’ll need to work fast to avoid the same gruesome fate as their teacher!There are some days you just want to crawl into bed and forget the rest of the world. For Tyler, that day was today.

About the Author: JEFF STRAND is a three-time nominee for the Bram Stoker Award, lives in Tampa, Florida, and doesn’t believe in voodoo.  But he thinks you should carry a doll around, go up to people you don’t like, and chuckle while you jab at it with pins, just to make them squirm.  Poke around his 

e-Galley provided gratis for review by Sourcebooks via Netgalley.

Tags:   #blog tour #a bad day for voodoo #jeff strand #sourcebooks


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