Verb Vixen

I read. I listen. I watch. I write.
Thursday, December 26
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Christmas is Over, Our Next Countdown is

to #SexyMagic times. Book 3 of Spellspinners of Melas County by Heidi Kling is out 1/21!


Tags:   #countdown #widget #spellspinners #book 3 #heidi r kling #coliloquy #ya #books #young adult



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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 19
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We are extremely excited to be able to share with you the cover for Heather Lyons’ THE DEEP END OF THE SEA!! The cover alone is giving us chills! You can buy THE DEEP END OF THE SEA February 13, 2014!!     

About THE DEEP END OF THE SEA:   What if all the legends you’ve learned were wrong? Brutally attacked by one god and unfairly cursed by another she faithfully served, Medusa has spent the last two thousand years living out her punishment on an enchanted isle in the Aegean Sea. A far cry from the monster legends depict, she’s spent her time educating herself, gardening, and desperately trying to frighten away adventure seekers who occasionally end up, much to her dismay, as statues when they manage to catch her off guard. As time marches on without her, Medusa wishes for nothing more than to be given a second chance at a life stolen away at far too young an age. But then comes a day when Hermes, one of the few friends she still has and the only deity she trusts, petitions the rest of the gods and goddesses to reverse the curse. Thus begins a journey toward healing and redemption, of reclaiming a life after tragedy, and of just how powerful friendship and love can be—because sometimes, you have to sink in the deep end of the sea before you can rise back up again.   
About Heather Lyons: Heather Lyons has always had a thing for words—She’s been writing stories since she was a kid. In addition to writing, she’s also been an archaeologist and a teacher. Heather is a rabid music fan, as evidenced by her (mostly) music-centric blog, and she’s married to an even larger music snob. They’re happily raising three kids who are mini music fiends who love to read and be read to.    
Links: Website: http://www.heatherlyons.net
Author Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/heatherlyons
THE DEEP END OF THE SEA Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18844839-the-deep-end-of-the-sea?ac=1
Twitter: https://twitter.com/hymheather
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/heatherlyonsbooks?fref=ts  

We are extremely excited to be able to share with you the cover for Heather Lyons’ THE DEEP END OF THE SEA!! The cover alone is giving us chills! You can buy THE DEEP END OF THE SEA February 13, 2014!!   Deep End Of The Sea - Front Cover  


About THE DEEP END OF THE SEA:   What if all the legends you’ve learned were wrong? Brutally attacked by one god and unfairly cursed by another she faithfully served, Medusa has spent the last two thousand years living out her punishment on an enchanted isle in the Aegean Sea. A far cry from the monster legends depict, she’s spent her time educating herself, gardening, and desperately trying to frighten away adventure seekers who occasionally end up, much to her dismay, as statues when they manage to catch her off guard. As time marches on without her, Medusa wishes for nothing more than to be given a second chance at a life stolen away at far too young an age. But then comes a day when Hermes, one of the few friends she still has and the only deity she trusts, petitions the rest of the gods and goddesses to reverse the curse. Thus begins a journey toward healing and redemption, of reclaiming a life after tragedy, and of just how powerful friendship and love can be—because sometimes, you have to sink in the deep end of the sea before you can rise back up again.   

About Heather Lyons: Heather Lyons has always had a thing for words—She’s been writing stories since she was a kid. In addition to writing, she’s also been an archaeologist and a teacher. Heather is a rabid music fan, as evidenced by her (mostly) music-centric blog, and she’s married to an even larger music snob. They’re happily raising three kids who are mini music fiends who love to read and be read to.    

Links: Website: http://www.heatherlyons.net

Author Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/heatherlyons

THE DEEP END OF THE SEA Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18844839-the-deep-end-of-the-sea?ac=1

Twitter: https://twitter.com/hymheather

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/heatherlyonsbooks?fref=ts  

Tags:   #i read #books #cover reveal #inkslinger pr #the deep end of the sea #mythology #heather lyons #publishing #ya


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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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Thursday, November 28
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Season’s Greetings: A Parish Mail Short (Parish Mail 2.5) by Kira Snyder
Alternatively titled: Why this novella is like a hug plus my recipe for Peppermint Hot Cocoa
I love the holidays. I love everything about them. It’s the only time of year I turn into a sappy, cheesy Hallmark movie loving fiend. I also find myself reading a lot in December and I’m particularly fond of winter themed books—-does it have snow? hot chocolate? ice skating? Great, I’ll read it. That’s part of the reason I was so excited to get to read Season’s Greetings.
The Parish Mail books, Dead Letter Office and Post Mortem are a series of paranormal mysteries set in New Orleans. Now go back and read that last sentence and tell me how many of those things I love. Yep, all of them. That’s part of why I love the Parish Mail series so much! Then when you add Coliloquy’s active fiction aspect—Oh, you’re going to let me choose which boy she calls? Oh, you’re going to let me decide where she goes? It’s like a dream come true. Also if you’re like me you’ll go back and reread every option at every available choice point. 
Now combine all of my loves into one novella and you have Season’s Greetings. The story continues the Parish Mail world—this fight of good versus evil and of restoring balance through solving crimes both in the past and the present. There’s three smexy boys vying for Celia’s attention, an amazing witchy best friend and a great family support system too. The plot of Season’s Greetings feels less ominous and dangerous but has a wonderful holiday message at the core of which is love and family. At the end you feel warm, full of joy and somehow renewed which is why this novella is just like a hug.
In the spirit of the holidays, I recommend a warm delicious beverage to accompany this book: Peppermint Hot Cocoa. It’s simultaneously cool and warm. It’s like Icy Hot for your mouth if Icy Hot were delicious. To make: Add a packet of Swiss Miss with mini marshmellows to your mug. Add boiling water, a splash of milk and 1 capful of this peppermint syrup from Starbucks. Stir. Top with some more mini marshmallows and a cute little candy cane as a stirring utensil. BOOM! INSTANT HOLIDAY CHEER and a perfect accompaniment for Season’s Greetings!
Overall: A+
You can get a copy of Season’s Greetings here, as well as Dead Letter Office and Post Mortem.
eARC provided gratis by Coliloquy 

Season’s Greetings: A Parish Mail Short (Parish Mail 2.5) by Kira Snyder

Alternatively titled: Why this novella is like a hug plus my recipe for Peppermint Hot Cocoa

I love the holidays. I love everything about them. It’s the only time of year I turn into a sappy, cheesy Hallmark movie loving fiend. I also find myself reading a lot in December and I’m particularly fond of winter themed books—-does it have snow? hot chocolate? ice skating? Great, I’ll read it. That’s part of the reason I was so excited to get to read Season’s Greetings.

The Parish Mail books, Dead Letter Office and Post Mortem are a series of paranormal mysteries set in New Orleans. Now go back and read that last sentence and tell me how many of those things I love. Yep, all of them. That’s part of why I love the Parish Mail series so much! Then when you add Coliloquy’s active fiction aspect—Oh, you’re going to let me choose which boy she calls? Oh, you’re going to let me decide where she goes? It’s like a dream come true. Also if you’re like me you’ll go back and reread every option at every available choice point. 

Now combine all of my loves into one novella and you have Season’s Greetings. The story continues the Parish Mail world—this fight of good versus evil and of restoring balance through solving crimes both in the past and the present. There’s three smexy boys vying for Celia’s attention, an amazing witchy best friend and a great family support system too. The plot of Season’s Greetings feels less ominous and dangerous but has a wonderful holiday message at the core of which is love and family. At the end you feel warm, full of joy and somehow renewed which is why this novella is just like a hug.

In the spirit of the holidays, I recommend a warm delicious beverage to accompany this book: Peppermint Hot Cocoa. It’s simultaneously cool and warm. It’s like Icy Hot for your mouth if Icy Hot were delicious. To make: Add a packet of Swiss Miss with mini marshmellows to your mug. Add boiling water, a splash of milk and 1 capful of this peppermint syrup from Starbucks. Stir. Top with some more mini marshmallows and a cute little candy cane as a stirring utensil. BOOM! INSTANT HOLIDAY CHEER and a perfect accompaniment for Season’s Greetings!

Overall: A+

You can get a copy of Season’s Greetings here, as well as Dead Letter Office and Post Mortem.

eARC provided gratis by Coliloquy 

Tags:   #i read #books #reading #seasons greetings #holidays #christmas #parish mail #coliloquy #kira snyder #dead letter office #post mortem #mysteries #seasonal #publishing #ya #young adult #ya lit #young adult fiction #recipes #hot cocoa #peppermint



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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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Thursday, November 7
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Season’s Greetings, a holiday short, comes out on 11/19! Here’s my review of Book 2 in the Parish Mail series. Get caught up now!
Post Mortem (Parish Mail Series #2)- Kira Snyder
I love the Parish Mail Series. Post Mortem sealed that deal, like one of those letter Celia Jane gets in the books. Okay that was a stretch, but in all seriousness, a good old fashioned ghost story and some sleuth work make for damn good winter reading. There is something classic about the Parish Mail series, something of Nancy Drew and Goosebumps, something in the pleasure of being a bit scared, a bit nervous and bit curious when reading these books that delights in the signature way. Post Mortem picks up where Dead Letter Office ends and extends our motley, meddling crew further into the worlds of historical and present day murder and mystery. Now they are a team with a mission and more is revealed regarding the evil loosed on Halloween and the paranormal misbalance that needs to be rectified. Trust me, Parish Mail isn’t a series to be missed, particularly for fans of things that go bump in the night.
Overall: A 
Post Mortem is out now from Coliloquy. Get your copy here.  

Season’s Greetings, a holiday short, comes out on 11/19! Here’s my review of Book 2 in the Parish Mail series. Get caught up now!

Post Mortem (Parish Mail Series #2)- Kira Snyder

I love the Parish Mail Series. Post Mortem sealed that deal, like one of those letter Celia Jane gets in the books. Okay that was a stretch, but in all seriousness, a good old fashioned ghost story and some sleuth work make for damn good winter reading. There is something classic about the Parish Mail series, something of Nancy Drew and Goosebumps, something in the pleasure of being a bit scared, a bit nervous and bit curious when reading these books that delights in the signature way. Post Mortem picks up where Dead Letter Office ends and extends our motley, meddling crew further into the worlds of historical and present day murder and mystery. Now they are a team with a mission and more is revealed regarding the evil loosed on Halloween and the paranormal misbalance that needs to be rectified. Trust me, Parish Mail isn’t a series to be missed, particularly for fans of things that go bump in the night.

Overall: A 

Post Mortem is out now from ColiloquyGet your copy here 

Tags:   #i read #books #ya #mystery #paranormal #kira snyder #coliloquy #parish mail #post mortem #dead letter office



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Tuesday, November 5
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Season’s Greetings! Here’s your first look at the cover for this new holiday short from Kira Snyder and Coliloquy due out 11/19!
Enter the Giveaway:  Enter the rafflecopter here. 

Season’s Greetings! Here’s your first look at the cover for this new holiday short from Kira Snyder and Coliloquy due out 11/19!


Enter the Giveaway:  Enter the rafflecopter here

Tags:   #i read #books #ya #mystery #seasons greetings #post mortem #dead letter office #parish mail #coliloquy #cover reveal


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Tuesday, October 29
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Crash Into You (Pushing the Limits #3)- Katie McGarry
McGarry is a genius when it comes to broken characters. An actual genius. Her characters are consistently believable walking the razor’s edge between dark and light, innocence and experience. Crash Into You’s Rachel and Isaiah find in each other both someone who understands, who loves with out conditions or constraints, and who reflects their own internal struggles. Point and counterpoint, a mix of other and same.  It’s mindboggling to me that each Pushing the Limits novel not only showcases compelling characters but does so with an authentic narrative which balances between   a harsh reality and hopeful optimistim. I loved this story just as I suspect I’ll love the next one too. Crash Into You is definitely worth the read and the emotional rollercoaster.
Overall: A
Crash Into You is out November 26th from Harlequin Teen. Pre-order your copy here!  Want to read the first two? Pushing the Limits and Dare You To are out now!
ARC provided gratis by Harlequin Teen

Crash Into You (Pushing the Limits #3)- Katie McGarry

McGarry is a genius when it comes to broken characters. An actual genius. Her characters are consistently believable walking the razor’s edge between dark and light, innocence and experience. Crash Into You’s Rachel and Isaiah find in each other both someone who understands, who loves with out conditions or constraints, and who reflects their own internal struggles. Point and counterpoint, a mix of other and same.  It’s mindboggling to me that each Pushing the Limits novel not only showcases compelling characters but does so with an authentic narrative which balances between   a harsh reality and hopeful optimistim. I loved this story just as I suspect I’ll love the next one too. Crash Into You is definitely worth the read and the emotional rollercoaster.

Overall: A

Crash Into You is out November 26th from Harlequin Teen. Pre-order your copy here!  Want to read the first two? Pushing the Limits and Dare You To are out now!

ARC provided gratis by Harlequin Teen

Tags:   #i read #books #publishing #ya #harlequin teen #katie mcgarry #pushing the limits #crash into you #romance #contemporary



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Monday, September 16
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Letters to Nowhere- Julie Cross
I haven’t read Julie’s timetravel series, Tempest, but I do love a good contemporary so I went into Letters to Nowherewith no expectations. Turns out, I LOVE sports books. Seriously love them. I want to work out the entire time I’m reading them. I also maybe have a small competitive streak the size of the Grand Canyon so sports books seem to play into my psychology well.
 Karen is an elite gymnast. I love Olympic gymnastics so this behind the scenes peak into what that life is like was fascinating for me. Don’t mistake me, this book is about more than gymnsatics; its about death and loss and grief. It’s about regret, fear, making your own life choices, expectations and of course, romance. The dynamic between the gymnasts, this fine line between individual and team, sisterhood and selfishness is done perfectly. I also love that the budding romance with Jordan wasn’t immediate and it wasn’t perfect. I appreciate a dose of realism now and again. Frankly, I though Letters to Nowhere was a read worthy of a ten from even that persnickity Russian judge and well worth a read. 
Overall: A
Get your copy here. For $3 it’s a steal on Kindle right now!
e-Arc provided gratis via Erica at The Book Cellar. Thanks Erica!

Letters to Nowhere- Julie Cross

I haven’t read Julie’s timetravel series, Tempest, but I do love a good contemporary so I went into Letters to Nowherewith no expectations. Turns out, I LOVE sports books. Seriously love them. I want to work out the entire time I’m reading them. I also maybe have a small competitive streak the size of the Grand Canyon so sports books seem to play into my psychology well.

 Karen is an elite gymnast. I love Olympic gymnastics so this behind the scenes peak into what that life is like was fascinating for me. Don’t mistake me, this book is about more than gymnsatics; its about death and loss and grief. It’s about regret, fear, making your own life choices, expectations and of course, romance. The dynamic between the gymnasts, this fine line between individual and team, sisterhood and selfishness is done perfectly. I also love that the budding romance with Jordan wasn’t immediate and it wasn’t perfect. I appreciate a dose of realism now and again. Frankly, I though Letters to Nowhere was a read worthy of a ten from even that persnickity Russian judge and well worth a read. 

Overall: A

Get your copy here. For $3 it’s a steal on Kindle right now!

e-Arc provided gratis via Erica at The Book Cellar. Thanks Erica!

Tags:   #i read #books #ya #young adult #ya lit #young adult fiction #publishing #julie cross #letters to nowhere #gymnastics #olympics #read #sports



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Friday, September 13
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Chaos- Christine O’Neil

I really enjoyed Chaos by Christine O’Neil. The semi-god plot plays well into my love of mythology while the romance was a bit Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy and who doesn’t love that trope?! I like how much time we spent getting to know and engage with the complexities of Maggie. The friendships in this book with Bink and Libby stand out almost as much as the romance with Mac does and I’m grateful for that balance. Love in all its various forms is the glue that holds this story together and it was lovely to stop and think about that for a while. I found Chaos to be a great start to the series, one which leaves open lots of obstacles to overcome and potential danger to avoid. I’m looking forward to reading more of “Magpie” and Mac as soon as possible!

I should also mention that Chaos is one of two books on the Ember tour, so you may want to check out Dark Days from Jus Accardo as well. These are the first books from Entangled Teen’s new imprint, Ember. If this story is any measure, the books we can expect from them will make us burn with wanting more.

A message from Ember: Our fires burn brightly for our readers and as a way to say thanks to our readers we’ve launched our latest division of Entangled Teen and it’s name is Ember. We have two exciting launch titles: Darker Days by Jus Accardo and Chaos by Christine O’Neil. Read away!” Entangled Teen Ember is a division of Entangled Teen that specializes in digital-first YAs.

Overall: A-

Thanks to InkSlinger PR you can enter to win a gift basket from Jus Accardo or a prize pack from Christine O’Neil using the rafflecopter here!

Don’t forget to order your copy of Chaos here!

About the Author: 

Christine O’Neil was born and raised in Connecticut, where she spent most of her childhood outdoors catching salamanders, frogs and colds. When she wasn’t terrorizing Mother Nature, she was curled up under the covers with her nose in a book. As an adult, she’s stopped stalking amphibians, but still loves books. When she isn’t reading, she likes to spend her time people-watching. In fact, she’s probably watching you RIGHT NOW O_O She’s also pretty obsessed with writing YA books, but if she had to pick another profession she would be a ninja…or a Professor of the Dark Arts. Christine also writes adult romance under the pen name Christine Bell.

 Twitter | Website | Goodreads

Synopsis of Chaos:

My name is Maggie Raynard. After sixteen years being just plain me, suddenly, when I lose my temper, my fingers become weapons of mass destruction. Turns out I’m a semi-god, descended from Aphrodite. Sounds cool in theory, but when I accidentally put my ex-boyfriend in a coma, things go downhill pretty fast.

Now some new guy named Mac Finnegan has made it his mission in life to continually piss me off. I’m stuck learning how to use my new powers while also dealing with regular high school problems, and with this annoying and super-hot—guy all
up in my business, I’m about to flip out.

But it gets worse. I just learned there’s this watchdog council of semis who keep an eye out for any bad apples. They think I’m the baddest one in the bunch and want to take me out before I do any more damage. My nemesis Mac might turn out to be my salvation, only he’s got secrets of his own…and they may just kill us both.

e-Arc provided gratis via InkSlinger PR 

Tags:   #i read #young adult #young adult fiction #ya lit #ya #books #reading #publishing #chaos #christine o'neil #macmillan #entangled teen #ember blog tour #inkslinger pr



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Tuesday, September 3
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Sweet Legacy Blog Blitz with Tera Lynn Childs!
I’m obsessed with mythology if you didn’t already realize that and I’ve been in love with Tera Lynn Child’s take on the Medusa myth since page 1 of Sweet Venom. The best news: the third book Sweet Legacy is out now! I had a chance to ask Tera five fast questions. In addition, there’s a blurb and a CONTEST OF EPIC PROPORTIONS below! Read on friend…
xoxo,
V.V.
Fast Five with Tera Lynn Childs


Favorite Word? Equality
Least Favorite Word? Hate
Favorite Sound? Thunderstorms
What profession other than author would you like to attempt? World traveller (what, that’s a profession)
Favorite Greek God or Goddess? Athena

About Sweet Legacy
Greer has always known she was privileged, though she had no idea how special her second sight made her, even among her triplet monster-fighting sisters. But when a god starts playing with her mind, can Greer step up in her pretty high heels to prevent anything from stopping her sisters’ mission?
Grace loves her adopted brother, Thane, but now that he’s back and has joined her sisters’ team, it’s clear his past is full of dark mysteries. She wants to trust him, but will Thane’s secret put the girls in even more danger?
Gretchen knows she can rely on her sisters to help her stop the monsters. But after getting to know some of the beasties in the abyss, she finds her role as a huntress comes with more responsibility than she ever imagined. How can she know what her birthright demands of her now?
The girls cannot hesitate as they seek the location of the lost door between the realms, even as monsters and gods descend on San Francisco in battle-ready droves. In this exciting conclusion to the Sweet Venom trilogy, these teenage heirs of Medusa must seek the truth, answer the ancient riddles, and claim their immortal legacy.
The Giveaway! Enter to win lots of books!
Grand prize is a complete set of Tera Lynn Childs books that includes her demigod, mermaid and Medusa series: Oh.My.Gods!, Goddess Boot Camp, Forgive my Fins, Fins are Forever, and Just for Fins, Sweet Venom, and Sweet Shadows, and of course, Sweet Legacy. That’s EIGHT books!
Additional prizes include: 3 complete Sweet Venom trilogies, 6 copies of Sweet Venom, 6 copies of Sweet Shadows, and 6 copies of Sweet Legacy.
To Enter the giveaway use the rafflecopter here!
Where to buy Sweet Legacy:
Indiebound (hardcover)
Amazon (hardcover | kindle)
Apple (ibookstore)
Barnes & Noble (hardcover | nook)
Books-a-Million (hardcover)
Book Depository (hardcover)
Follow Tera Lynn Childs through her website, twitter, facebook.

Sweet Legacy Blog Blitz with Tera Lynn Childs!

I’m obsessed with mythology if you didn’t already realize that and I’ve been in love with Tera Lynn Child’s take on the Medusa myth since page 1 of Sweet Venom. The best news: the third book Sweet Legacy is out now! I had a chance to ask Tera five fast questions. In addition, there’s a blurb and a CONTEST OF EPIC PROPORTIONS below! Read on friend…

xoxo,

V.V.

Fast Five with Tera Lynn Childs
Favorite Word? Equality
Least Favorite Word? Hate
Favorite Sound? Thunderstorms
What profession other than author would you like to attempt? World traveller (what, that’s a profession)
Favorite Greek God or Goddess? Athena

About Sweet Legacy

Greer has always known she was privileged, though she had no idea how special her second sight made her, even among her triplet monster-fighting sisters. But when a god starts playing with her mind, can Greer step up in her pretty high heels to prevent anything from stopping her sisters’ mission?

Grace loves her adopted brother, Thane, but now that he’s back and has joined her sisters’ team, it’s clear his past is full of dark mysteries. She wants to trust him, but will Thane’s secret put the girls in even more danger?

Gretchen knows she can rely on her sisters to help her stop the monsters. But after getting to know some of the beasties in the abyss, she finds her role as a huntress comes with more responsibility than she ever imagined. How can she know what her birthright demands of her now?

The girls cannot hesitate as they seek the location of the lost door between the realms, even as monsters and gods descend on San Francisco in battle-ready droves. In this exciting conclusion to the Sweet Venom trilogy, these teenage heirs of Medusa must seek the truth, answer the ancient riddles, and claim their immortal legacy.

The Giveaway! Enter to win lots of books!

Grand prize is a complete set of Tera Lynn Childs books that includes her demigod, mermaid and Medusa series: Oh.My.Gods!, Goddess Boot Camp, Forgive my Fins, Fins are Forever, and Just for Fins, Sweet Venom, and Sweet Shadows, and of course, Sweet Legacy. That’s EIGHT books!

Additional prizes include: 3 complete Sweet Venom trilogies, 6 copies of Sweet Venom, 6 copies of Sweet Shadows, and 6 copies of Sweet Legacy.

To Enter the giveaway use the rafflecopter here!

Where to buy Sweet Legacy:

Follow Tera Lynn Childs through her website, twitter, facebook.

Tags:   #i read #books #ya #young adult #young adult fiction #ya lit #tera lynn childs #sweet venom #sweet shadows #sweet legacy #medusa #greek mythology #mythology #publishing #reading



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Wednesday, July 17
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Going Vintage- Lindsey Leavitt
Going Vintage is predicated on an interesting idea—that the world is more complicated because of technology. As we come to rely on technology and that technology changes the way we communicate and interact, I think the idea of “going vintage” while slightly insane is actually quite a novel idea. When Mallory finds her boyfriend is emotionally cheating on her with his “online wife,” Mal decides she’s done with this decade. She ends up slightly romanticizing the 60s as an idyllic time when it was actually far from that but the book (and her sister) also calls her out on that.  While she sort of misses the forest for the trees, the results of her decision forces her to stretch outside her comfort zone and discover new things and new people. It’s appropriate for even young teens and I think the message is actually useful for all ages—Get offline and go live your life; the results may surprise you!
Overall: A-
Going Vintage is out now from Bloomsbury. Get your copy here!

Going Vintage- Lindsey Leavitt

Going Vintage is predicated on an interesting idea—that the world is more complicated because of technology. As we come to rely on technology and that technology changes the way we communicate and interact, I think the idea of “going vintage” while slightly insane is actually quite a novel idea. When Mallory finds her boyfriend is emotionally cheating on her with his “online wife,” Mal decides she’s done with this decade. She ends up slightly romanticizing the 60s as an idyllic time when it was actually far from that but the book (and her sister) also calls her out on that.  While she sort of misses the forest for the trees, the results of her decision forces her to stretch outside her comfort zone and discover new things and new people. It’s appropriate for even young teens and I think the message is actually useful for all ages—Get offline and go live your life; the results may surprise you!

Overall: A-

Going Vintage is out now from Bloomsbury. Get your copy here!

Tags:   #Going vintage #i read #books #reading #publishing #lindsey leavitt #ya #young adult #ya lit #young adult fiction #contemporary #the 60s #vintage


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Tuesday, July 16
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The Trouble With Flirting- Claire LaZebnik
I really enjoyed The Trouble With Flirting, a theatre centered contemporary. In addition to Shakespeare (they hook me with Will everytime!), there’s quite a bit about costumes which was actually really different. I feel like I haven’t come across too many theatre books where the costume aspect is explored as a main plotline. I had no idea how much work that was. Franny is kind of adorable and her summer of working with her aunt turns into something so much more than she expected. I like that even though she isn’t conceited, she is confident and sure of herself and yet humble too. Even more importantly, the boys are hot. I liked her dilemma of being torn by past feelings and current chemistry. The supporting characters range from delightful to narcissistic and everything in between. I’d call it a great light summer read for sure. 
Overall: A-
The Trouble With Flirting is out now. Get your copy here!

The Trouble With Flirting- Claire LaZebnik

I really enjoyed The Trouble With Flirting, a theatre centered contemporary. In addition to Shakespeare (they hook me with Will everytime!), there’s quite a bit about costumes which was actually really different. I feel like I haven’t come across too many theatre books where the costume aspect is explored as a main plotline. I had no idea how much work that was. Franny is kind of adorable and her summer of working with her aunt turns into something so much more than she expected. I like that even though she isn’t conceited, she is confident and sure of herself and yet humble too. Even more importantly, the boys are hot. I liked her dilemma of being torn by past feelings and current chemistry. The supporting characters range from delightful to narcissistic and everything in between. I’d call it a great light summer read for sure. 

Overall: A-

The Trouble With Flirting is out now. Get your copy here!

Tags:   #i read #books #ya #young adult #ya lit #young adult fiction #publishing #the trouble with flirting #theatre #shakespeare #claire lazebnik



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Monday, July 15
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Welcome to Louisiana! Reading Road Trip Blog Stop!

I am a New York girl but I love, love, love Louisiana! It’s my go to vacation spot and frankly I’d live there if I thought I could slow myself down for more than a few days at a time. What isn’t there to love though—-jazz music, sweet tea, Creole cooking, parades, masks, and a decaying beauty that makes my breath catch every damn time. I often say that every city has it’s own heartbeat. To me, NYC has the frenetic heartbeat of a hummingbird—constant and almost a buzz. New Orleans, ahh New Orleans has something completely different—-the thready beginings of a jazz song, individual notes surrounded by silence. It’s lovely. But I’ve digressed—I wanted to highlight Louisiana with a great book that combines my love of New Orleans with lots of my other loves (like Greek Mythology) and well there was one series of books that jumped to mind as probably being under-read but deserving of more press and importantly, more readers: Darkness Becomes Her and A Beautiful Evil by Kelly Keaton.

Set in New Orleans post a series of devastating hurricanes that have all but destroyed the city, Darkness Becomes Her captures both post-natural disaster NOLA and the magic of the city itself. Not only did the NOLA setting impress me, but the plot is well conceived—putting a mythological classic twist on the paranormal.  I love it when authors go old school, and by old school I mean ancient Greek. Goddess villains, shady adults, and a great band of misfits that make a family. Ah, but there is more!  A fiery female lead and a hot love interest.  It’s perfect start to a great Medusa series.

A Beautiful Evil is the sequel to Darkness Becomes Her.  The series transcends genres managing to be dystopian, paranormal, and mythological in a brilliant feat. A Beautiful Evil picks up right where Darkness Becomes Her left off and boy is that an interesting place. Ari and Sebastian just make sense and what they go through together in this book makes every page worth reading. In addition to a great romance this book is ALL ACTION.  Ari’s a doer more than a thinker and damn is she busy. Part of that is because Athena is such a good villain. What I love the most is that Keaton places these tiny details in her narrative that end up being important. The future destroyed and then reclaimed New Orleans is a great setting and there’s beauty amidst the decay and rubble. 

There are lots of other amazing books set in New Orleans—Dead Letter Office, Post Mortem, and Interview with a Vampire to name a few. And everyone knows that Charlene Harris’ books are set in Louisiana too (SOOOOOOKIE) If you’re interested in more recommendations or if you just want to talk about NOLA or books set in the crescent city, you know where to find me. 

I hope you’ve enjoyed your trip to Louisiana with me. It’s been a pleasure. And for those of you who don’t want you stop to end here, I’m giving away a set of Darkness Becomes Her and A Beautiful Evil to one lucky winner! Enter the rafflecopter here.

Bless Your Hearts,

V.V.

Tags:   #i read #books #ya #young adult #young adult fiction #ya lit #publishing #reading #louisiana #reading road trip #road trip #Darkness becomes her #a beautiful evil #kelly keaton #paranormal #mythological #dystopian #new orleans



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