MINOTAUR by Phillip W. Simpson – A Review


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When I first read the blurb for MINOTAUR, I knew I had to read it, and I’m so glad I got an ARC from Month9Books. This story did not disappoint.

I do have to say it took me a bit to get into the story. The writing style is unique and a little ‘slower’  than I’m used to. I felt as if I were taking a leisurely stroll with Ovid, the scholar. And then this incident happens and we meet Asterion, aka Minotaur, who leads Ovid to the mountain and the labyrinth of Minotaur legend.

This story is so compelling, so heartbreaking, so different than anything you’ve ever read about the Minotaur.  It is billed as the true story of the Minotaur, and I’m inclined to believe it. Asterion opens his heart, his soul as he tells Ovid about his trials and tribulations of growing up, about being made fun of and ridiculed. About being shunned and despised by his father because he was the son of a god.  We learn of the love of his life and experience his heartache as he retells the moment when she was stolen from him. But the twist I wasn’t ready for was what really happened to him in the labyrinth.

For those familiar with the Minotaur stories, the creature suffers a horrible, bloody, gory end at the hands of Theseus, the god-founder of Athens.  This true story tells a different tale, one that will change everything you’ve ever learned or believed.  I was mesmerized, spellbound, and my emotions were all over the place as I read this story.

This is not your typical Greek mythology story-telling type book. If you’re looking for something like Percy Jackson retelling of Greek mythology, you’re not going to get it here. This is deep, dark and very solid, strong writing, and I’m happy to say I can give a two thumbs up review of this ARC from Month9Books.  This won’t be a book for everyone, but if you like good fantasy that takes its time to unfold, then you’re going to love Minotaur.

Do you want to read what others are saying about this amazing book?  Follow the Review Tour Schedule HERE

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ABOUT MINOTAUR:
 Minotaur by Phillip W. Simpson
Publication Date:  September 29, 2015
Publisher:  Month9books

“Where shall I start?” asked Minotaur.

Ovid made an expansive gesture with both hands. “Where else but the beginning of course.”

Minotaur nodded his huge head. “Yes,” he said. “Yes,” his eyes already glazing over with the weight of thousand-year-old memories. And then he began.

So begins the story of Asterion, later known as Minotaur, the supposed half bull creature of Greek legend. Recorded by the famous Roman poet, Ovid, Asterion tells of his boyhood in Crete under the cruel hand of his stepfather Minos, his adventures with his friend, Theseus, and his growing love for the beautiful Phaedra.And of course what really happened in the labyrinth.

This is the true story of the Minotaur.

Link to Goodreads:

Purchase Links:

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Giveaway Information:  Contest ends October23, 2015

  • Five (5) winners will receive a digital copy of Minotaur by Phillip W. Simpson (INT)

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Phillip W SimpsonABOUT PHILLIP W. SIMPSON:

Phillip W. Simpson is the author of many novels, chapter books and other stories for children. His publishers include Macmillan, Penguin, Pearson, Cengage, Raintree and Oxford University Press.

He received both his undergraduate degree in Ancient History and Archaeology and his Masters (Hons) degree in Archaeology from the University of Auckland.

Before embarking on his writing career, he joined the army as an officer cadet, owned a comic shop and worked in recruitment in both the UK and Australia.

His first young adult novel, Rapture (Rapture Trilogy #1), was shortlisted for the Sir Julius Vogel Awards for best Youth novel in 2012.

He is represented by Vicki Marsdon at Wordlink literary agency.

When not writing, he works as a school teacher.

Phillip lives and writes in Auckland, New Zealand with his wife Rose, their son, Jack and their two border terriers, Whiskey and Raffles. He loves fishing, reading, movies, football (soccer) and single malt Whiskeys.

Connect with the Author:  Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

M9B Friday Reveal: Chapter Reveal – Super Freak by Vanessa Barger with Giveaway #M9BFridayReveals


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Welcome to this week’s M9B Friday Reveal!

This week, we are revealing CHAPTER ONE of

Super Freak by Vanessa Barger

an MG title presented by Tantrum Books!

Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!

 

Super Freak

 

Thirteen-year-old Caroline is a freak. Her parents have uprooted her to a town full of Supernaturals. You’d think she’d be thrilled. But, with someone without a magical bone in her body, this daughter of tree sprites feels like even more of an outcast than she has ever before.

To make matters worse, her new home is cursed. But when Caroline takes to investigating the mysterious and strange happenings of Harridan House, her BFF goes missing. Seems someone doesn’t want Caroline sticking her non-magical nose where it most certainly does not belong. Determined to prove herself, Caroline uncovers a plot to destroy her new hometown.

Undeterred, Caroline can’t give up. But what’s a human without magical powers to do? Caroline better figure it out fast, before she loses everything she has ever loved and the whispers she’s heard all her life prove true: Caroline is a useless superfreak.

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Super Freak by Vanessa Barger
Publication Date: October 13, 2015
Publisher: Tantrum Books
Genre: MG, Fantasy

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excerpt

 

Chapter One

Twenty-five feet into town. That’s as far as we got before the first disaster happened. Dad turned onto Main Street, and just as we pulled up next to Greywolfe’s Spells and Supplies, a huge puff of smoke and flame burst from the front doors. Shattered glass and a large, hairy man shot into the path of our over-packed SUV.
Dad slammed his foot down on the brakes and jerked the wheel to the left, throwing us around the inside of the car. In the back, I covered my head, expecting the piles of wedged boxes to topple over, burying me in an avalanche of dishes and teddy bears.
“Caroline! Are you all right?” Mom reached into the back seat, her horn-rimmed glasses dangling from one ear.
“I’m good. Did we hit him?” I craned my neck, looking to see out the front window. Dad unbuckled and leapt from the car to help the man who had flown in the road to his feet.
“I think he’s fine. You’d think he’d at least have the decency to let out a warning before coming out like that. He could have been killed! We could have been hurt! Dishes might have fallen on you and broken!”
I rolled my eyes. The dishes would be a high priority.
Mom shook her head, letting loose a shower of tiny green leaves. It always happened when she was stressed. Dryads weren’t really known for their calm temperaments. You’d think, being tree spirits, they’d have that stoic thing going for them. Maybe it was because Mom was a weeping willow, but calm wasn’t really part of her vocabulary. Dad on the other hand, was solid as an oak.
Because he was an oak. After unhooking my seatbelt, I slid from the car. Mom followed suit. Her lips compressed into a tight line and she shed another couple handfuls of leaves, but for the moment, she contained herself.
Dad stood, tall and wiry, one arm hooked around a large, barrel-chested man with more facial hair than I’d seen in my life. Had to be a werewolf. He pulled away from my dad and brushed at the gravel and purple residue covering his gray suit.
“Thank you, Mr. …” The stranger held out one hand to my dad.
“George Bennings,” Dad said, shaking the stranger’s hand. “And this is my wife, Grace, and our daughter, Caroline. We just moved here from Lost Creek.”
“My name is William Grouseman. I’m thrilled you’ve come to town, but glad you didn’t pull in a few moments sooner.”
I wanted to warn him that sarcasm was lost on my parents, but he seemed to get the message when they didn’t share in his chuckle. They exchanged a confused glance and smiled blankly at him.
He offered his hand to me and I shook it. “Nice to meet you, sir.”
He frowned, looking between my parents and then back at me.
Mom’s arm curved around my shoulder, nudging me forward. She sniffed. “She’s just a late bloomer. We’ve got great hopes for her future.”
I sighed. She meant well, but it never failed. Supernatural people could sense the paranormal on each other. But when they got to me there was nothing. A void. A great, empty space where everyone expected some sort of natural magic.
The supernatural had been the normal since 1978 when an explorer by the name of Albert Merriweather stumbled into a cave in Greece and found Pandora’s Box, and then opened it. Apparently the myths about the box were off a little. Instead of holding all the evils of the world, it held all the magic that had been pulled out of it. Releasing magic out into the world, well, now every person was a little bit paranormal. It didn’t mean everyone could cast a spell or levitate. But everyone had something. Kids were tested in elementary school.
The ones with lots of magic were usually the popular crowd. The rest of the population lived with it, picking up what they could, where they could. You could ask to be retested anytime. Sometimes people really did make progress.
Except me. I hadn’t just tested low, I’d flunked. So badly they brought in national analysts to make sure there wasn’t someone tampering with the tests. It was a relief really. I mean, my parents were powerful. Who wants to try and beat that?
My lack of powers drove my parents batty. Most people figured I was adopted. Two dryads–tree spirits who could change shape, manipulate the natural world, and talk to trees–produced a normal child? Impossible.
My parents were convinced I would show signs as I matured. I didn’t have the heart to tell them differently, but I really didn’t think it would ever happen. And that was fine by me. Magic was great–when it worked.
Maybe when I turned forty my parents would figure it out. Until then, I’d smile and nod when they gave me their speech about reaching my potential and discovering hidden talents.
I met Mr. Grouseman’s chocolate eyes and gave him a weak smile before he turned to my parents.
“Ah, well, it happens sometimes. If anyone can draw out her gift, it’s our teaching staff at the school. I’m the principal at Stein Middle School.” His eyes moved from them to me. I wished I were small and hidden under a rock. “You look like you’re about middle-school age. What grade will you be in?”
I swallowed. This was not how I planned to meet the school principal. “I’m supposed to start eighth this year.”
“I thought so. You’ll love the school. Excellent courses and teachers, and the students are some of the best.”
Just like every other school I’d been to. They always said that. It must be in a rulebook principals get when they start their jobs. Luckily, that was the end of his conversation with me. He told my parents where the school was, and what the summer office hours were, then waved at us as he headed back into the shop.
Mom raised a tentative finger and cleared her throat. “Are you certain it’s safe to go back in?”
Mr. Grouseman loosed a deep peal of laughter. “Of course! My nephew runs the store. What you saw was an accident when a new display tipped over. Have a great day!”
I didn’t buy his story, and I didn’t think Mom and Dad did either. But clearly he wasn’t going to share family quarrels with the new people in town. With a shrug, I climbed back into the car, put my cryptogram book away, and watched the town unfold outside my windows. The buildings wound around a central park with huge old-growth trees and the county buildings were the same as they’d been when the town was founded in the seventeenth century. My Dad gave me tidbits about the history of Hecate Bay for the last two weeks, trying to pump up my anticipation. History was one passion Dad and I shared.
Spell suppliers, voodoo parlors, psychic readers, and magical bookstores rubbed elbows with Food Lion, florists, and churches. The human and the paranormal had merged and become just like the country–an inseparable mix.
We headed for our new house. As we turned away from town, the library caught my attention. A huge stone building that, based on the size, I knew held thousands of books. I started to drool at the prospect. As I watched the people wandering down the street, and we passed another spell shop and magical supply store, my excitement began to fade. I thought about what I’d seen so far, the encounter with my new principal, and the new school year approaching, and my stomach churned with dread. I knew that no matter what, Hecate Bay wasn’t the restful small town my parents told me about. I’d hoped for one of those rare towns populated with only a few magical creatures and big magical talents. This place, well, I could practically taste the magic in the air.
I was doomed.

 

About-the-Author

Vanessa Barger was born in West Virginia, and through several moves ended up spending the majority of her life in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She is a graduate of George Mason University and Old Dominion University, and has degrees in Graphic Design, a minor in Medieval and Renaissance Literature, and a Masters in Technology Education. She has had articles published in Altered Arts Magazine, has had some artwork displayed in galleries in Ohio and online, and currently teaches engineering, practical physics, drafting and other technological things to high school students in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. She is a member of the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators), the Virginia Writer’s Club, and the Hampton Roads Writers. When not writing or teaching, she’s a bookaholic, movie fanatic, and loves to travel. She is married to a fabulous man, and has one cat, who believes Vanessa lives only to open cat food cans, and can often be found baking when she should be editing.

Connect with the Author: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest | YouTube

 

Giveaway

 

Complete the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win!

Titles not yet released will be upon its publication.

 

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Middle Grade Mondays: Strange Country Day by Charles Curtis #MGMondays


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Welcome to Middle Grade Mondays!

This week, we are doing a featured spotlight on

Strange Country Day by Charles Curtis

an MG title presented by Tantrum Books!

 

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Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!

 

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Alexander Graham Ptuiac, the son of an inventor, wants to play for the school’s football team. During tryouts, and under the watchful eye of the team’s coach, he suddenly manifests mysterious superhuman powers. Alexander makes the team, but not before the some ill-intended adults take notice, putting his life in danger.

Alex struggles to suppress and control his strange new abilities, worried about exposing his secret and being kicked off the football team. Then he befriends Dex, a diminutive classmate who can somehow jump as high as ten feet in the air. Seems Alex isn’t the only one at school with a secret.

As the school year unfolds, Alex will find himself the target of bullies, holding hands with his first crush and discovering the shocking truth about himself and his parents.

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Charles Curtis

 

Charles Curtis is a writer and journalist based in New York City. He has reported and written for publications including NJ.com (where he is currently the site’s sports buzz reporter), The Daily, ESPN.com, ESPN the Magazine, Bleacher Report, TV Guide and Entertainment Weekly. Charles has covered the NFL, MLB, NHL, NBA, golf, tennis and NASCAR. He has also written about television, film and pop culture.

In addition, Curtis has also written, produced and was featured in videos for ESPN.com and The Daily. He has made radio appearances on stations including 92.9 The Ticket in Bangor, Maine, WLIE 540 AM in Long Island and on morning shows across Canada via the CBC.
He can be reached on Twitter: @charlescurtis82.

Connect with the Author: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

 

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“I’m beautiful. I’m worthy.”


We hear every day in the news about kids being bullied.  The shaming and beat downs come from all sides and for all stupid reasons.  And social media doesn’t help. I mean, I was bullied as a kid because I wore glasses and because I wasn’t thin. (I wasn’t fat, either, but I heard it enough to believe I was.).  Even my own brother called me ‘ugly’ almost on a daily basis. But when I was a teen in the ’70s, we didn’t have computers or social media, so the bullying had a short-range effect. Nowadays, social media takes bullying and shaming to a whole different level. I mean, it’s not only confined to your school. It’s nationwide, and people that don’t even know you comment on whatever was posted about you, the victim. Man, that’s just insane. I mean, it’s one thing to deal with 50 kids at a school. It’s something else to be a young kid, especially a girl, and have the whole world viewing your latest fight or bullying saga because someone with a damn cell phone thought it would be cooler to film it and post it on Facebook than it would be to get in between you and the bully and tell the bully where to shove it.

My mom always said to remember the saying “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”  Well, I’m here to tell you, words do hurt, and anyone who has ever been bullied will tell you the verbal wounds are worse than the physical ones. They remain etched and burned into your soul forever. No matter how often you try to tell yourself that it’s all bogus, that what they’re telling you are lies, it’s bullcrap.  When you have so many people telling you that you are this way or that way, you begin to doubt your feelings about yourself. Afterall, if 100 people are all saying the same thing, then it must be true, right?

Wrong.

Sad thing is, it took me 50 years before I had the courage to say to the world, “I don’t give a damn what you think of me. I’m beautiful the way I am, and I am worthy.”

50 years, girls, of feeling unworthy, unloved, unwanted. Even now, it is difficult for me to praise myself, for patting myself on the back for a job well done. I’ve been beaten down for so long in my life that my self-praise comes along with a built-in sledgehammer to remind me that I’m not all that special.  Even at my age, I struggle with self-confidence and self-degradation, with the degradation winning out in most cases.  Even as I stare at myself in the mirror and give my self-affirmations every day, there is a voice inside of me that says “who are you trying to kid? You’re not pretty and you’re an ok writer and a suck-ass mom.”  The thing is, I know in my heart of hearts and deep in my soul that I am beautiful in my own way, I’m better than an ok author and I wasn’t, nor am I, a suck-ass mom. In fact, I was a damn good mom who made some crappy mistakes.

But saying it and even writing it doesn’t make me believe it. I mean like really believe it. And I know it’s because I waited too long in my life to tell the world, and more importantly myself, that I am a wonderful, good person who deserves an amazing life because I’m amazing.

So, I’d like to offer up some words to you young people that might come across this blog in search of some wise advice.

Don’t wait until you’re 50 to make a change and start loving yourself. Don’t believe the bullying, the shaming, because you are beautiful and worthy, and you deserve a rich, full life. And more importantly, don’t become your own worst enemy by being your own self-bully.  Start now at your young age by tossing off the negative vibes around you. Find like-minded people who know how you feel. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Love who you are and what you are. You are unique, a glorious present to the universe. So what if you’re a nerd, or wear glasses, or might pack on a few extra pounds. You have worth. You are amazing and special and are so many more things outside of your peer group’s definition of who they think you should be. Don’t worry about who they think you should be. Who do you  think you should be? That is the question to ask.  Be strong. Be beautiful and be your own cheerleader.  Love yourself.

 

 

 

 

 

Release Day Blitz: Serpentine by Cindy Pon with Giveaway


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Happy Release Day to

Serpentine by Cindy Pon!!

Join us in celebrating this release from Month9Books!

Enter the giveaway found at the end of the post.

Happy Book Birthday, Cindy!

 

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SERPENTINE is a sweeping fantasy set in the ancient Kingdom of Xia and inspired by the rich history of Chinese mythology.

Lush with details from Chinese folklore, SERPENTINE tells the coming of age story of Skybright, a young girl who worries about her growing otherness. As she turns sixteen, Skybright notices troubling changes. By day, she is a companion and handmaid to the youngest daughter of a very wealthy family. But nighttime brings with it a darkness that not even daybreak can quell.

When her plight can no longer be denied, Skybright learns that despite a dark destiny, she must struggle to retain her sense of self – even as she falls in love for the first time.

“Vivid worldbuilding, incendiary romance, heart-pounding action, and characters that will win you over–I highly recommend Serpentine.” Cinda Williams Chima, best-selling author of the Seven Realms and Heir Chronicles fantasy novels

“Serpentine is unique and surprising, with a beautifully-drawn fantasy world that sucked me right in! I love Skybright’s transformative power, and how she learns to take charge of it.” ~Kristin Cashore, NYT Bestseller of the Graceling Realm Series

“Serpentine’s world oozes with lush details and rich lore, and the characters crackle with life. This is one story that you’ll want to lose yourself in.” ~ Marie Lu, New York Times bestselling author of Legend and The Young Elites

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Cindy Pon is the author of Silver Phoenix (Greenwillow, 2009), which was named one of the Top Ten Fantasy and Science Fiction Books for Youth by the American Library Association’s Booklist, and one of 2009′s best Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror by VOYA. The sequel to Silver Phoenix, titled Fury of the Phoenix, was released in April 2011. Serpentine, the first title in her next Xia duology, will be published by Month9Books in September 2015. She is the co-founder of Diversity in YA with Malinda Lo and on the advisory board of We Need Diverse Books. Cindy is also a Chinese brush painting student of over a decade. Visit her website at www.cindypon.com.

 

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excerpt

“Skybright… ” He tugged her gently to him. “I never feel as if I can speak of my past with the other monks. Because of my birthmark. Because I’m different. But with you, I … ” He didn’t finish the thought, but instead leaned in and kissed her.

It was like a jolt, quickening her pulse. His mouth was full, firm against her own. He smelled of camphor wood and sweat. Of boy. His tongue flicked across her lips and instinctively she opened her mouth to him. She gasped when their tongues met. Warmth pooled in her stomach and spread, till her entire body was roused. Lit.

His hands had wound around her waist, sneaked under her sleep tunic so she could feel his rough palms against her midriff. They met at the small of her back and slid upward, till his fingers caressed her shoulder blades, and they were crushed against each other. They kissed until the blood roared in her ears and she felt drunk with desire. Then something ignited inside of her, that now familiar heat, writhing through and pulsing down her legs. Terrified, she shoved his shoulders hard, and he stumbled back, dazed.

Skybright clutched her head between tight fists, willing the blazing heat away. Willing herself not to change. No. Not now. Not in front of Kai Sen. Her body shook with the effort, still trembling from the kiss they had shared. Terror constricted her chest.

His thumb stroked her cheek, and she jerked away from him.

“What was that?” She tried to catch her breath, and the words came unevenly.

“I’ve always wondered what it was like, to kiss.” His voice sounded low and thick.

“So you decided to experiment on the first handmaid you came across?”

The first handmaid he came across naked in the forest. Humiliation and anger wound tight within her, and she welcomed the emotions. Anything to smother the heat that threatened to rise below.

Kai Sen made a choking noise. “No. Of course not. I wanted to kiss you.” He lifted his hand to touch her again and she slapped it aside. “I like you,” he said quietly. “I’ve seen plenty of servant girls in town, wandering the markets. But you were the only I ever knew brave enough to climb a giant cypress to spy on monks.” He smiled. “You’re the only one I’ve felt I could share my past with–”

“You don’t even know me,” she said. And it felt as if her heart was shattering like brittle porcelain, because Kai Sen could never truly know her. Not ever. “Please go.”

He took a step back, and she hated him for obeying her.

“Will you still meet me in the morning by the creek?” he asked.

 

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She’s a SUPER FREAK. SUPER FREAK – You’ve gotta check ‘her’ out!!


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                                     Welcome to this week’s M9B Friday Reveal!

This week, we are revealing the cover for

Super Freak by Vanessa Barger

an MG title presented by Tantrum Books!

Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!

 

Super Freak

Thirteen-year-old Caroline is a freak. Her parents have uprooted her to a town full of Supernaturals. You’d think she’d be thrilled. But, with someone without a magical bone in her body, this daughter of tree sprites feels like even more of an outcast than she has ever before.

To make matters worse, her new home is cursed. But when Caroline takes to investigating the mysterious and strange happenings of Harridan House, her BFF goes missing. Seems someone doesn’t want Caroline sticking her non-magical nose where it most certainly does not belong. Determined to prove herself, Caroline uncovers a plot to destroy her new hometown.

Undeterred, Caroline can’t give up. But what’s a human without magical powers to do? Caroline better figure it out fast, before she loses everything she has ever loved and the whispers she’s heard all her life prove true: Caroline is a useless superfreak.

add to goodreads

Super Freak by Vanessa Barger
Publication Date: October 13, 2015
Publisher: Tantrum Books
Genre: MG, Fantasy

BAM | Chapters | Amazon | B&N | Kobo | TBD | iBooks

 

About-the-Author

Vanessa Barger was born in West Virginia, and through several moves ended up spending the majority of her life in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She is a graduate of George Mason University and Old Dominion University, and has degrees in Graphic Design, a minor in Medieval and Renaissance Literature, and a Masters in Technology Education. She has had articles published in Altered Arts Magazine, has had some artwork displayed in galleries in Ohio and online, and currently teaches engineering, practical physics, drafting and other technological things to high school students in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. She is a member of the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators), the Virginia Writer’s Club, and the Hampton Roads Writers. When not writing or teaching, she’s a bookaholic, movie fanatic, and loves to travel. She is married to a fabulous man, and has one cat, who believes Vanessa lives only to open cat food cans, and can often be found baking when she should be editing.

Connect with the Author: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest | YouTube

 

Giveaway

 

Complete the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win!

Titles not yet released will be upon its publication.

 

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