Verb Vixen

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Monday, September 15
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My Year of Epic Rock by Andrea Pyros
Middle School was a B*TCH. I’m pretty sure it was like that for just about everyone. You’re navigating social labyrinths that have more booby traps the Temple of Doom; you’re figuring out who you are, who you want to be, what you like, who you want to be friends with and all while dealing with an 8 hour school day, after school activities, and acne. It’s the worst, but it’s nothing compared to what Nina deals with in My Year of Epic Rock. Nina’s serious food allergies add a layer of complexity to middle school that I certainly didn’t envy. While the issue of food allergies is becoming more prevalent in schools these days, this is the first story I’ve come upon that explains the social and personal ramifications. Nina feels isolated but has an amazing support system and while she’s different she also knows she deserves to be treated well, befitting her personhood. I loved My Year of Epic Rock and it’s perfect for all those young readers (9-12ish) who will at some point feel other, different, special, unique, or isolated, even if they don’t have food allergies. 
Overall: A-
My Year of Epic Rock is out now from Sourcebooks, get your copy here!
eArc provided gratis via NetGalley by Sourcebooks. 

My Year of Epic Rock by Andrea Pyros

Middle School was a B*TCH. I’m pretty sure it was like that for just about everyone. You’re navigating social labyrinths that have more booby traps the Temple of Doom; you’re figuring out who you are, who you want to be, what you like, who you want to be friends with and all while dealing with an 8 hour school day, after school activities, and acne. It’s the worst, but it’s nothing compared to what Nina deals with in My Year of Epic Rock. Nina’s serious food allergies add a layer of complexity to middle school that I certainly didn’t envy. While the issue of food allergies is becoming more prevalent in schools these days, this is the first story I’ve come upon that explains the social and personal ramifications. Nina feels isolated but has an amazing support system and while she’s different she also knows she deserves to be treated well, befitting her personhood. I loved My Year of Epic Rock and it’s perfect for all those young readers (9-12ish) who will at some point feel other, different, special, unique, or isolated, even if they don’t have food allergies. 

Overall: A-

My Year of Epic Rock is out now from Sourcebooks, get your copy here!

eArc provided gratis via NetGalley by Sourcebooks. 

Tags:   #i read #books #ya #young adult #middle grade #ya lit #young adult fiction #mg #publishing #sourcebooks #my year of epic rock #andrea pyros #epipens #epipens tour #food allergies



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Sunday, September 14
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I’m so happy to be part of the Epipens tour for My Year of Epic Rock! In addition to my review which will go up tomorrow, Andrea Pyros has written a guest post about why food allergies are so important to her and how it influenced her book. 
From Andrea:
Food allergies + middle school = NOT AWESOME 
The idea for My Year of Epic Rock came when my now eight-year-old daughter was a baby and we found out she had multiple food allergies to staples like eggs, nuts, and dairy. My husband and I were freaked out and totally overwhelmed on how to safely feed our poor kid. There was a big learning curve where I read everything I could about food allergies, from cookbooks and blogs to interviews and books with allergists. 
Two things I learned that stuck with me:
1) Many kids with food allergies are bullied or teased because of their allergies
2) It’s during the tween/teen years where food allergic people are most at risk for having an allergic reaction. Kids that age just want to hang out with friends and not worry about reading labels, asking restaurants what ingredients are in what dishes, or carrying around their medication like EpiPens and Benadryl.
They just want to fit in.
And nothing makes you feel like you stand out more than being the only one not eating a certain food that everyone gleefully chowing down on is or opening up a lunchbox with something “different” than everyone else. Even worse, someone makes fun of you for your health condition.

Thinking about how my daughter—and kids like her—might manage their food allergies during these already tricky years sparked the My Year of Epic Rock. It’s not just for kids with food allergies, though. Pretty much anyone who has felt different or apart from their peers (and who hasn’t at one point?) will hopefully relate to Nina’ story and experience and take comfort from what she learns and achieves.
Thanks Andrea! My Year of Epic Rock is out now from Sourcebooks. Get your copy here!
eARC provided gratis by Sourcebooks via NetGalley

I’m so happy to be part of the Epipens tour for My Year of Epic Rock! In addition to my review which will go up tomorrow, Andrea Pyros has written a guest post about why food allergies are so important to her and how it influenced her book. 

From Andrea:

Food allergies + middle school = NOT AWESOME 

The idea for My Year of Epic Rock came when my now eight-year-old daughter was a baby and we found out she had multiple food allergies to staples like eggs, nuts, and dairy. My husband and I were freaked out and totally overwhelmed on how to safely feed our poor kid. There was a big learning curve where I read everything I could about food allergies, from cookbooks and blogs to interviews and books with allergists. 

Two things I learned that stuck with me:

1) Many kids with food allergies are bullied or teased because of their allergies

2) It’s during the tween/teen years where food allergic people are most at risk for having an allergic reaction. Kids that age just want to hang out with friends and not worry about reading labels, asking restaurants what ingredients are in what dishes, or carrying around their medication like EpiPens and Benadryl.

They just want to fit in.

And nothing makes you feel like you stand out more than being the only one not eating a certain food that everyone gleefully chowing down on is or opening up a lunchbox with something “different” than everyone else. Even worse, someone makes fun of you for your health condition.

Thinking about how my daughter—and kids like her—might manage their food allergies during these already tricky years sparked the My Year of Epic Rock. It’s not just for kids with food allergies, though. Pretty much anyone who has felt different or apart from their peers (and who hasn’t at one point?) will hopefully relate to Nina’ story and experience and take comfort from what she learns and achieves.

Thanks Andrea! My Year of Epic Rock is out now from Sourcebooks. Get your copy here!

eARC provided gratis by Sourcebooks via NetGalley

Tags:   #i read #books #ya #young adult #ya lit #young adult fiction #sourcebooks #food allergies #netgalley #epipens #my year of epic rock #middle grade #andrea pyros #epipen tour #blog tour #publishing



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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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Monday, June 23
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Even In Paradise- Chelsey Philpot
When I read Even in Paradise, it was my fourth book of the day. I picked it up thinking it would be a novelty, an easy contemporary which I crave in the summer. Don’t let the cover fool you, this book is not easy. It is the kind of book that leaves you permanently altered, the words sinking under your skin like a tattoo. The “secret” was evident to me from the beginning, but it didn’t matter because I was as fascinated with the Great Buchanan’s as Charlie was—pulled into their wondrous web.
The book is clearly influenced by The Great Gatsby (which is referenced in the book itself); I’d say it’s a parallel story, but more than that it joins in a conversation with Gatsby that I find enchanting. At time the prose rivals Fitzgerald’s, maybe exceeds it in its simple beauty. Each and every character draws you in and charms you into loving them. The twists and turns of the story, every emotion, every separation, every occurrence is as much your own as they are Charlie’s. I could not have put the book down I was so ensorcelled.
No, this book is not easy. It leaves you with questions that burn deep in your gut and with answers that seem to wriggle just out of your grasp. It leaves you uneasy, broken, hopeful, but mostly it leaves you with a desire to live deeply.
It is my second MUST READ of the year and certainly a book that will haunt the edges of my consciousness. I’m glad of that though; we’ll just let it linger there at the edges as it unfolds secrets and subtleties.
Overall: A+
Even in Paradise is due out from HarperTeen October 14th. Pre-Order your copy here. 
ARC provided gratis by HarperTeen at BEA.

Even In Paradise- Chelsey Philpot

When I read Even in Paradise, it was my fourth book of the day. I picked it up thinking it would be a novelty, an easy contemporary which I crave in the summer. Don’t let the cover fool you, this book is not easy. It is the kind of book that leaves you permanently altered, the words sinking under your skin like a tattoo. The “secret” was evident to me from the beginning, but it didn’t matter because I was as fascinated with the Great Buchanan’s as Charlie was—pulled into their wondrous web.

The book is clearly influenced by The Great Gatsby (which is referenced in the book itself); I’d say it’s a parallel story, but more than that it joins in a conversation with Gatsby that I find enchanting. At time the prose rivals Fitzgerald’s, maybe exceeds it in its simple beauty. Each and every character draws you in and charms you into loving them. The twists and turns of the story, every emotion, every separation, every occurrence is as much your own as they are Charlie’s. I could not have put the book down I was so ensorcelled.

No, this book is not easy. It leaves you with questions that burn deep in your gut and with answers that seem to wriggle just out of your grasp. It leaves you uneasy, broken, hopeful, but mostly it leaves you with a desire to live deeply.

It is my second MUST READ of the year and certainly a book that will haunt the edges of my consciousness. I’m glad of that though; we’ll just let it linger there at the edges as it unfolds secrets and subtleties.

Overall: A+

Even in Paradise is due out from HarperTeen October 14th. Pre-Order your copy here

ARC provided gratis by HarperTeen at BEA.

Tags:   #i read #books #ya #young adult #Young Adult Fiction #ya lit #even in paradise #chelsey philpot #harperteen #contemporary #the great gatsby #gatsby #epic reads


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Monday, June 16
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Trial By Fire (WorldWalker 1)- Josephine Angelini
You may remember when I fell completely head over heels for Josephine Angelini’s first series, Starcrossed, Dreamless and Goddess. I love those books more than I can possibly convey with words. There would need to be jumping and hand motions and squeeing in an octave only dogs can hear to explain how much I loved those books. SO unsurprisingly, Trial by Fire was my most anticipated book of BEA and it did not disappoint.
The story follows a sick and hyper-allergic girl, Lily, as she gets thrown into a foreign world that is a mirror of her own, one where magic rules instead of science, where she’s not sickly but an extremely powerful witch, and where class differences are about to bring about a civil war. I found Angelini’s mythology and world building as wonderful as ever—-the intersection of magic and science is beautifully done and delightfully conceived for this science nerd. I loved Lily, who despite her fragile body has a warrior’s heart. And shall we discuss Rowan? Cause that boy is a perfect fit for Lily, matching her heart with his strength. But then again, Angelini excels at creating perfectly matched characters doesn’t she? What impresses me more, however, is how well developed her secondary cast of characters are, each of them as riveting as the main ones: Tristan, Caleb, Gideon, Juliet and Carrick all have really interesting story lines worthy of their own books. I for one can’t wait for more world walking, especially with the ending we get in Trial By Fire! I can already tell I’m going to reread this book when I’m in the mood for something a little witchy—-so the fall pub date is perfect; I’ll certainly want a little magic to get ready for Halloween.
love burns. worlds collide. magic reigns.
Overall: A+
Trial By Fire is due out from Feiwel and Friends in September. Pre-order your copy here. 
ARC provided gratis by Macmillan Publishers at BEA. 

Trial By Fire (WorldWalker 1)- Josephine Angelini

You may remember when I fell completely head over heels for Josephine Angelini’s first series, Starcrossed, Dreamless and Goddess. I love those books more than I can possibly convey with words. There would need to be jumping and hand motions and squeeing in an octave only dogs can hear to explain how much I loved those books. SO unsurprisingly, Trial by Fire was my most anticipated book of BEA and it did not disappoint.

The story follows a sick and hyper-allergic girl, Lily, as she gets thrown into a foreign world that is a mirror of her own, one where magic rules instead of science, where she’s not sickly but an extremely powerful witch, and where class differences are about to bring about a civil war. I found Angelini’s mythology and world building as wonderful as ever—-the intersection of magic and science is beautifully done and delightfully conceived for this science nerd. I loved Lily, who despite her fragile body has a warrior’s heart. And shall we discuss Rowan? Cause that boy is a perfect fit for Lily, matching her heart with his strength. But then again, Angelini excels at creating perfectly matched characters doesn’t she? What impresses me more, however, is how well developed her secondary cast of characters are, each of them as riveting as the main ones: Tristan, Caleb, Gideon, Juliet and Carrick all have really interesting story lines worthy of their own books. I for one can’t wait for more world walking, especially with the ending we get in Trial By Fire! I can already tell I’m going to reread this book when I’m in the mood for something a little witchy—-so the fall pub date is perfect; I’ll certainly want a little magic to get ready for Halloween.

love burns. worlds collide. magic reigns.

Overall: A+

Trial By Fire is due out from Feiwel and Friends in September. Pre-order your copy here

ARC provided gratis by Macmillan Publishers at BEA. 

Tags:   #i read #books #ya #young adult #ya lit #young adult fiction #publishing #macmillan #feiwel and friends #trial by fire #josephine angelini #starcrossed #dreamless #goddess #witches #paranormal #world walking #world walker #fantasy #reading



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Monday, May 12
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Talon (Talon #1)- Julie Kagawa
Julie’s done faries. She’s done vampires. And now, she’s doing Dragons and DAMN! Is she doing dragons! Talon was a riveting book, as much about being human as it is being “other.” Where the Iron Fey yielded interesting questions about humans and technology, Talon brings up questions that are more interior—investigating what it means to be truly human. From the start, we’re thrown in to a centuries old war that’s about as morally ambigious and complicated as you can imagine. What resonates most is Ember’s unfailing moral compass, her desire to be true to herself and live up to her own expectations rather than others. And Garrett? Well it’s hard not to pity the boy who knows less about being human than a dragon does, isn’t it? I really loved them. What bugged me a little was this love triangle thing with Riley. It reminded me a bit of the relationships in Andrea Cremer’s Nightshade series. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but I can already tell there are going to be serious team factions for the Talon fandom. Frankly, Team Garrett Xavier Sebastian all the way. ;)
Overall: A
Talon is due out from Harlequin Teen on October 28th. Pre-order your copy here. 
ARC provided gratis by Harlequin Teen

Talon (Talon #1)- Julie Kagawa

Julie’s done faries. She’s done vampires. And now, she’s doing Dragons and DAMN! Is she doing dragons! Talon was a riveting book, as much about being human as it is being “other.” Where the Iron Fey yielded interesting questions about humans and technology, Talon brings up questions that are more interior—investigating what it means to be truly human. From the start, we’re thrown in to a centuries old war that’s about as morally ambigious and complicated as you can imagine. What resonates most is Ember’s unfailing moral compass, her desire to be true to herself and live up to her own expectations rather than others. And Garrett? Well it’s hard not to pity the boy who knows less about being human than a dragon does, isn’t it? I really loved them. What bugged me a little was this love triangle thing with Riley. It reminded me a bit of the relationships in Andrea Cremer’s Nightshade series. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but I can already tell there are going to be serious team factions for the Talon fandom. Frankly, Team Garrett Xavier Sebastian all the way. ;)

Overall: A

Talon is due out from Harlequin Teen on October 28th. Pre-order your copy here

ARC provided gratis by Harlequin Teen

Tags:   #i read #ya #young adult #ya lit #young adult fiction #books #reading #publishing #harlequin teen #julie kagawa #talon #iron fey #dragons #fantasy


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Tuesday, March 25
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I am extremely excited to say that Nichole Chase’s RECKLESSLY ROYAL is now available!! RECKLESSLY ROYAL is a New Adult contemporary romance novel being published by HarperCollins Avon imprint and is a part of Nichole Chase’s Suddenly Series.

Recklesly Royal

RECKLESSLY ROYAL Synopsis:

Catherine has spent her life being the perfect princess. She’s kept her hands clean, her head down, and most importantly—men at arm’s length. After all, most men are after only one thing, and for Cathy there’s a lot more at stake than her bed; she has to worry about the fate of an entire nation. But at the rate she’s going, Cathy is afraid she’ll give the Virgin Queen a run for her money. She is tired of waiting for someone good enough to come along. She has a plan, and it all hinges on seducing the one man who seems utterly unimpressed by all things royal. The one man she is tempted by more than any other …

When David arrives at the royal wedding of his friend, the newly ordained Duchess Samantha Rousseau, he expected to feel uncomfortable and out of his element, but he wasn’t prepared to be targeted by Prince Alex’s gorgeous younger sister. With Cathy’s giant blue eyes, killer figure, and sense of humor, it won’t take long before he gives in. But when he finds out just how innocent the crown princess really is, will he play the part of knight in shining armor or the dashing rogue?

Amazon

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Excerpt:

I was a bit sloshed, but I wasn’t going to tell Sam that. My legs slipped and I slid the rest of the way to the ground, my head stopping my fall. Maybe I was drunker than I thought. The doorbell rang as I scrambled up from my spot on the floor.

“I’ve got it!” Chadwick took off to the front door, his steps a little too loud.

Backing away from the pole, I took a running jump and grabbed directly in the middle. I used my momentum to swing my legs high in the air. Making sure I had a good grip on the pole, I spread my legs into a split.

“Wow.” A deep voice broke into my thoughts and I looked up. A man was standing next to Chadwick, wearing a backpack and carrying a large duffel bag. His dark eyes ran over my body and I shivered, which was a bad thing. My hands slipped and I fell, crashing to the floor with a loud oof.

“Are you okay?” Sam ran over and helped me stand up, but I wasn’t feeling any pain. In fact, I was feeling awesome. Looking past Sam’s shoulder, I smiled at the hottie and waved. He was perfection, from his messy dark hair down to his scuffed boots. And exactly what we needed to end the night with a bang.

“Heeeyyooou. I don’t remember hiring a stripper, but boy am I glad you showed up.” I let Sam help me up to my feet and wondered why she was making a choking sound. I slapped her on the back, worried. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine. Fine!” Sam barked a laugh. “That’s not—”

“Good! Because it looks like I outdid myself!” I turned her around with a flourish to look at the delicious man standing on the stairs. His shirt strained across his chest as he shifted his feet and I found myself thinking about tracing my fingers across those hard lines. I let my eyes run over him instead, taking in the tight plaid shirt, worn jeans, and work boots. There was nothing polished or metropolitan about him. Everything screamed outdoors. And I liked it.

“Cathy,” Sam tried to stop me, but I shrugged her off and skipped up the steps.

“What are you supposed to be? A lost lumberjack?” I pulled the heavy bag out of his hands and set it on the ground. “We’ll, c’mon! Someone start some music.” I gyrated my hips a little and wiggled my eyebrows. “Take it off, bab-ay!”

“If you insist, gorgeous.” His American accent gave me pause as a dim memory tried to fight through the fog in my brain, but it didn’t last long. His eyes stayed locked on mine as his calloused fingers worked the top couple of his buttons free. I wasn’t sure if it was the alcohol, or just his deep brown eyes, but I was entranced. I didn’t even notice when Sam climbed the stairs.

I couldn’t look away from him as he slowly unbuttoned his shirt and exposed the skin underneath. The need to touch that tantalizing bit of flesh raced through me and my fingers twitched. Hypnotized by eye the color of melted chocolate, I leaned forward. One corner of his mouth turned up into a smirk and it only added to his appeal. Where it might have been a turn off in another man, It simply added to this strippers appeal. I smiled in response, eager for him to continue.

“God, please don’t, David. I’ll never be able to look at you again.” She covered his hands with her own and laughed, her cheeks a bright red.

“David?” I looked at him, confused, before looking over my shoulder at Jess. She was nodding her head with wide eyes like I was supposed to remember something. “David?” I said the name again, mulling over what that could mean.

I looked down at the bag I had taken from him and my eyes landed on his boots. It was then that a moment of clarity surged through my mind like a stampede of wild horses and I covered my mouth.

“Oh God.” A wave of nausea hit me. “You’re Sam’s friend.”

I promptly turned around and threw up into a potted plant.

RecklesslyRoyal RDL Banner

Author Photo B&WNichole Chase Bio:

Nichole Chase is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Suddenly Royal, Flukes, The Dark Betrayal Trilogy, and several short stories. She is also the instructor of Say What? a dialogue class at the Romance Academy.

Nichole lives in Georgia with her husband, energetic daughter, superhero dog, Sulcata tortoise, and two cats. When not writing, you may find her reading, painting, crafting, or chasing her daughter around the house while making monster noises.


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Tags:   #i read #books #ya #young adult #ya lit #young adult fiction #nichole chase #recklessly royal



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Tuesday, February 25
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Kiss and Sell by Brittany Geragotellis

I was in a bit of a reading slump. The kind of slump where you dont want to even pick up a book and try to read. Well I finally forced myself to start Kiss and Sell, and then here was this sweet little book reviving my love of reading again. The entire time I was reading this I saw a made-for-tv movie of it in my head and let me tell you it would be fabulous! It’s smart and sassy; the kind of story that leaves you with the warm and fuzzies and maybe, just maybe, a little nostalgic for your own first kiss. 

I loved Arielle Sawyer’s from the very beginning and watching her grow into self-confidence was a delight. While putting a first kiss up for sale on Ebay sounds odd and unsafe, if you suspend reality enough to get past that this book gives you so much more. Who doesn’t remember their first kiss or more appropriately the time before their first kiss when all you wanted to do was check that box off the bucket list? Also, Arielle has some kick ass friends and a disturbling cool and smart mother. There are mean girls, swoon worthy boys, and an empowering story of taking your life and fate into your own hands and growing into your confidence. Now that’s a story I can get behind. I highly recommend giving Kiss and Sell a try—-you just might fall in love all over again.

Overall: A

Kiss and Sell is out now, you can get yours here.

Synopsis: Arielle Sawyer is freaking out because she’s the last in her class to be kissed. Frustrated and wanting to get it over with, she and her friends decide to sell her first kiss on eBay! Suddenly, this former wallflower finds herself the focus of everyone’s attention. But as her popularity grows and her friendships start to weaken, Arielle begins to wonder why she put the post up in the first place. In the end there will be a winner, but will Arielle’s first kiss end up being everything she’s ever dreamed of?

About the Author: Brittany Geragotelis, a former Olympic-bound gymnast and magazine editor, is a self-professed pop culture junkie turned author. Her paranormal action book, LIFE’S A WITCH, received 19 million reads on the writing site Wattpad before being sold to Simon & Schuster in 2012. Both LIFE’S A WITCH and the prequel WHAT THE SPELL (which appeared in an episode of “Glee”) debuted in 2013. The third book in the series, THE WITCH IS BACK, will be published Jan 2014. Brittany recently moved to Los Angeles with her husband Matt, and her two cats, Murray and Cohen. Visit her at www.thebookslayer.com.

eBook provided gratis in exchange for a fair review

Kiss and Sell by Brittany Geragotellis

I was in a bit of a reading slump. The kind of slump where you dont want to even pick up a book and try to read. Well I finally forced myself to start Kiss and Sell, and then here was this sweet little book reviving my love of reading again. The entire time I was reading this I saw a made-for-tv movie of it in my head and let me tell you it would be fabulous! It’s smart and sassy; the kind of story that leaves you with the warm and fuzzies and maybe, just maybe, a little nostalgic for your own first kiss.

I loved Arielle Sawyer’s from the very beginning and watching her grow into self-confidence was a delight. While putting a first kiss up for sale on Ebay sounds odd and unsafe, if you suspend reality enough to get past that this book gives you so much more. Who doesn’t remember their first kiss or more appropriately the time before their first kiss when all you wanted to do was check that box off the bucket list? Also, Arielle has some kick ass friends and a disturbling cool and smart mother. There are mean girls, swoon worthy boys, and an empowering story of taking your life and fate into your own hands and growing into your confidence. Now that’s a story I can get behind. I highly recommend giving Kiss and Sell a try—-you just might fall in love all over again.

Overall: A

Kiss and Sell is out now, you can get yours here.

Synopsis: Arielle Sawyer is freaking out because she’s the last in her class to be kissed. Frustrated and wanting to get it over with, she and her friends decide to sell her first kiss on eBay! Suddenly, this former wallflower finds herself the focus of everyone’s attention. But as her popularity grows and her friendships start to weaken, Arielle begins to wonder why she put the post up in the first place. In the end there will be a winner, but will Arielle’s first kiss end up being everything she’s ever dreamed of?

About the Author: Brittany Geragotelis, a former Olympic-bound gymnast and magazine editor, is a self-professed pop culture junkie turned author. Her paranormal action book, LIFE’S A WITCH, received 19 million reads on the writing site Wattpad before being sold to Simon & Schuster in 2012. Both LIFE’S A WITCH and the prequel WHAT THE SPELL (which appeared in an episode of “Glee”) debuted in 2013. The third book in the series, THE WITCH IS BACK, will be published Jan 2014. Brittany recently moved to Los Angeles with her husband Matt, and her two cats, Murray and Cohen. Visit her at www.thebookslayer.com.

eBook provided gratis in exchange for a fair review

Tags:   #i read #books #ya #young adult #ya lit #young adult fiction #kiss and sell #contemporary #romance #brittany geragotellis #indie #self publishing #publishing #amazon



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Thursday, January 23
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Devil’s Frost (Book 3 of Spellspinners of Melas County) by Heidi R. Kling

If this series were a movie, Devil’s Frost would be the summer action blockbuster. It has everything you want—-deadly action, sizzling romance, and lots of plot twists. The Gleaning ended with a hell of a cliffhanger and Devil’s Frost picks up right where things start getting good left off. This book is very Lily-centric and so we hear her version of events first, followed by Logan’s account. Kling nails the emotions—-the betrayal, the loss, the fear, the love, and most of all the confusion that both Lily and Logan are grappling with. There’s also a hot morally ambiguous bad boy, Jude, a frenemy to end all frenemies in Orchid, a complex parental situation, a Jafar like warlock villain, this looming tyrranical council and a major prophesy to fulfill. Not enough for you? Let’s go back to the romance then because that’s where Kling shines. I will never tire of Lily and Logan, not in eucalpytus groves, not in caves and certainly not on questing adventures in the next book.

The plot in Devil’s Frost moves quickly, the fastest of all three books so far and it ends in an interesting place. You can see the reprecussions coming like a tidal wave that will crush everything and everyone in the way. Unfortunately we have to wait for the next book to see who will be swept away.

Overall: A
Devil’s Frost is out now from Coliloquy. Get your copy here or get Books 1-3 here!

eArc provided gratis via Coliloquy.

Devil’s Frost (Book 3 of Spellspinners of Melas County) by Heidi R. Kling

If this series were a movie, Devil’s Frost would be the summer action blockbuster. It has everything you want—-deadly action, sizzling romance, and lots of plot twists. The Gleaning ended with a hell of a cliffhanger and Devil’s Frost picks up right where things start getting good left off. This book is very Lily-centric and so we hear her version of events first, followed by Logan’s account. Kling nails the emotions—-the betrayal, the loss, the fear, the love, and most of all the confusion that both Lily and Logan are grappling with. There’s also a hot morally ambiguous bad boy, Jude, a frenemy to end all frenemies in Orchid, a complex parental situation, a Jafar like warlock villain, this looming tyrranical council and a major prophesy to fulfill. Not enough for you? Let’s go back to the romance then because that’s where Kling shines. I will never tire of Lily and Logan, not in eucalpytus groves, not in caves and certainly not on questing adventures in the next book.

The plot in Devil’s Frost moves quickly, the fastest of all three books so far and it ends in an interesting place. You can see the reprecussions coming like a tidal wave that will crush everything and everyone in the way. Unfortunately we have to wait for the next book to see who will be swept away.

Overall: A

Devil’s Frost is out now from Coliloquy. Get your copy here or get Books 1-3 here!

eArc provided gratis via Coliloquy.

Tags:   #i read #books #ya #young adult #ya lit #young adult fiction #publishing #coliloquy #kindle #witch's brew #the gleaning #heidi r kling #devil's frost #witches #warlocks #romeo and juliet



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Tuesday, December 31
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Guys. This Cover. I Die. 
1. I love the blue! It matches my summer hair.
2. There’s something sinister here, perhaps the evil red eye that whispers of the darkness that this book promises.
3. I mean, is there a better way to end a year then with a magical read? I think not.
4. Is there a better way to start a year then with a magical read? I think not.
5. I love how it’s sort of reflective of the current state of the world. When winter’s darkness descends, I want to see something reflect that desolation and despondency. I’m constantly thinking about Queen Mab and winter courts, but now perhaps I’ll think of witches who are being a bit wicked.
Anyway, this cover makes me super excited Devil’s Frost. Devil’s Frost is the third book in Heidi R. Kling’s #sexymagic series…The Spellspinners of Melas County. To celebrate the cover reveal, there’s a witchy giveaway you can enter via the rafflecopter here.
xoxo,
V.V.

Guys. This Cover. I Die. 

1. I love the blue! It matches my summer hair.

2. There’s something sinister here, perhaps the evil red eye that whispers of the darkness that this book promises.

3. I mean, is there a better way to end a year then with a magical read? I think not.

4. Is there a better way to start a year then with a magical read? I think not.

5. I love how it’s sort of reflective of the current state of the world. When winter’s darkness descends, I want to see something reflect that desolation and despondency. I’m constantly thinking about Queen Mab and winter courts, but now perhaps I’ll think of witches who are being a bit wicked.

Anyway, this cover makes me super excited Devil’s Frost. Devil’s Frost is the third book in Heidi R. Kling’s #sexymagic series…The Spellspinners of Melas County. To celebrate the cover reveal, there’s a witchy giveaway you can enter via the rafflecopter here.

xoxo,

V.V.

Tags:   #i read #books #reading #ya #young adult #ya lit #young adult fiction #coliloquy #devils frost #spellspinners of melas county #heidi r kling #sea #witch's brew #the gleaning #witches #warlocks #magic #cover reveal #giveaway



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Monday, December 30
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Tags:   #writing #write #books #ya #young adult #heroines #female protagonists #fiction


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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 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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