Feb 28, 2012

Leap Into Books Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the Leap Into Books Hop, hosted by the ever-fantastic I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and Jinky is Reading.

Wanna know what you're trying to win?

That's right ... it's a mystery box of books. I will tell you this, the box shall contain no less than 4 books (quite possibly more). At least one will be a finished copy and at least one will be an ARC of a book that has not been released yet this year.

This is for the US Only, since I will be shipping it myself.

The only mandatory entry is to follow The Irish Banana Review via GFC.

You can get 5 bonus entries by replying to one of my reviews.

Also? If I hit 1,300 followers during the hop, I will pick 2 winners. :)  Good luck!

Feb 27, 2012

Cover Crazy (3)

Cover Crazy, hosted by The Book Worms, is a completely shallow meme where we get to gawk at those gorgeous cover arts for upcoming novels. We all not to judge a book by its cover, but we all do it.

This week I'm crazy about ...

The Last Princess
by Galaxy Craze

I love the whole end of the world vibe this cover gives off. The girl standing there looks like the last man standing in a fight to the death ... which makes me oddly excited.

Happily ever after is a thing of the past.

The year is 2090.

England is a barren land. Food is rationed. Oil has decimated the oceans. The people are restless.

A ruthless revolutionary enacts a plan to destroy the royal family, and in a moment, the king is dead. His heiress, Princess Mary, and her brother, Jamie, have been abducted, and no one knows their fate. Princess Eliza Windsor barely escapes, and finds herself scared and lost in London's dangerous streets.

With a mind for revenge and the safe recovery of her siblings, Eliza joins the enemy forces in disguise. There she is tempted by her first taste of independence -- and true love. Ultimately she must summon her courage and fight to ensure that she does not become... The Last Princess.

Feb 26, 2012

Review & Interview: Pretty Crooked by Elisa Ludwig

Title: Pretty Crooked
Author: Elisa Ludwig
Publisher:  Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: 3.13.2012
Pages: 358
Genre: Contemporary
Series: Yes (Pretty Crooked #1)
Source: ARC from publisher

Rating: A-

Summary (from Goodreads):
High school sophomore Willa and her artist mother move to Arizona where Willa starts attending an elite prep school after her mother finally sells some paintings, and Willa attempts to even things out by stealing from the rich students and giving to the poor ones.

Take the Robin Hood mythology and blend it with a heaping dose of Gossip Girl and you get Pretty Crooked; a fun, cute, and amusing read that left me wanting more. Elisa Ludwig does a fantastic job giving a glitzy, modern twist to an old story.

Willa was hysterical to read. She amused and intrigued me to no end from the harrowing beginning to the very end. I’m so glad this is going to be a series, because I look forward to reading about her adventures. I loved her heart and how she truly had the best of intentions when she stared crusading for the less fortunate girls in her school.

But Willa is just one awesome character in a myriad. The supporting cast from her supportive, yet often secretive mother down to the Glitterati (seriously, how cool a name is that for a group of spoiled, rich girls?). I loved the way they all interacted and the relationships Willa had with each of them. The only one who left me a little confused was Aidan. There’s something about him I still don’t entirely trust, but I suppose that will be explored in future books. At least I hope it will.

The details to this story were what really tied thing together for me. Either Ludwig is nursing a serious shopping addiction in her spare time, or she did her homework when it comes to fashion. I love that I could literally picture every scene in my head because of her details.

If you’re looking for something quick and cute to read on a rainy afternoon, I recommend you snag a copy of Pretty Crooked. It’s got great writing with an entertaining concept.

Interview with Elisa Ludwig:

1. What was your inspiration for writing Pretty Crooked?

The initial idea for the story came from a combination of Robin Hood and the Barefoot Bandit, who was in the news at the time. But while I was writing it I also watched a lot of Veronica Mars and Moonlighting for character inspiration and classic heist movies for plot ideas.

2. Have you always been a fan of the Robin Hood mythology?

Yes—it’s pretty hard to resist that story. In the current moment, it feels especially relevant.

3. Who is your favorite Robin Hood (actor) or movie version of Robin Hood?

Well, just for fun, I would have to say John Cleese’s version in Time Bandits, which is wonderfully silly.


4. What are you currently working on?

I just finished the sequel to Pretty Crooked, and I will be starting the third book very soon. Very excited about that. I’m just having the best time with them. I’m also working on an unrelated novel that I am too superstitious to talk about. So it’s busy around here!

5. What was your initial reaction at seeing the cover?

I loved it immediately. It had the right combination of glamour, sass and intrigue. I also love how fresh it feels with the graphic pattern and the contrasting colors.

6. What was the last book you read?

I just finished Divergent. I know, I’m the last person on earth, but I’m constantly behind! In any case, it was worth the wait.

7. What book are you most excited about in 2012?

Oh my. There are so many. Can I just say that I am excited for ALL of the Apocalypsies books to come? Because, seriously, I am!

8. Describe Pretty Crooked in 15 words or less!

When Willa finds out her friends are bullies, she takes justice into her own hands.

Thanks so much for having me, Hannah! This was really fun.

Feb 20, 2012

Trailer: Pretty Crooked by Elisa Ludwig

 Just finished this book and it is straight up adorable with a heaping portion of awesome. Check this one out!

Pretty Crooked
by: Elisa Ludwig

High school sophomore Willa and her artist mother move to Arizona where Willa starts attending an elite prep school after her mother finally sells some paintings, and Willa attempts to even things out by stealing from the rich students and giving to the poor ones.

Book Blogger Confessions (4)

This is a shiny, new blogger meme co-hosted by Tiger from Tiger's All Consuming Books and Karen at For What It's Worth Reviews. It's time to open up and share (and vent) about our blogging experiences!

The question is:

February 20th: Social networking with authors: Do you interact on Twitter/Facebook/etc with authors? Does it affect how you review their work or do you look at their books differently because you're on friendly terms with them?

As far as my blog goes, I'm a Twitter girl, and even that is sketchy at best. I set up a Facebook page for my blog, but that's it. I rarely ever Facebook, so I figure there's no point. I like the simplicity of Twitter.

I follow a hundred or so of my favorite authors, or authors I have reviewed, and occasionally "chat" with them. I think it does alter my perception of their book. For example, I got friendly with an author on Twitter, who is an absoulte doll. Seriously, a huge sweetheart. I chatted with her frequently before I read her book, and then when I read the book, I was actually pretty disappointed. I felt like I forced myself to write a really positive review because I didn't want to hurt her feelings. My review was more glowing than it should have been, but I learned my lesson. Now I wait until after I read a book to casually chat up an author.

I love authors. I think 99% of them are freaking awesome people I would love to hang out with, see a movie with, grab a burger with, etc. Unfortunately because of the situation I'm currently in as a blogger/reviewers, I feel I need to maintain a level of distance because otherwise my objectivity comes into question.

Feb 19, 2012

Review: Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters by Meredith Zeiltin

Title: Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters
Author: Meredith Zeitlin
Publisher:  G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Publication Date: 3.1.2012
Pages: 288
Genre: Contemporary
Series: No…?
Source: ARC from publisher

Rating: A+

Summary (from Goodreads):
Kelsey Finkelstein is fourteen and FRUSTRATED. Every time she tries to live up to her awesome potential, her plans are foiled – by her impossible parents, her annoying little sister, and life in general. But with her first day of high school coming up, Kelsey is positive that things are going to change. Enlisting the help of her three best friends — sweet and quiet Em, theatrical Cass, and wild JoJo — Kelsey gets ready to rebrand herself and make the kind of mark she knows is her destiny.

Things start out great - her arch-nemesis has moved across the country, giving Kelsey the perfect opportunity to stand out on the soccer team and finally catch the eye of her long-time crush. But soon enough, an evil junior’s thirst for revenge, a mysterious photographer, and a series of other catastrophes make it clear that just because KELSEY has a plan for greatness… it doesn’t mean the rest of the world is in on it.

Kelsey’s hilarious commentary throughout her disastrous freshman year will have you laughing out loud—while being thankful that you’re not in her shoes, of course…

I cannot remember the last time I laughed so hard I cried. Let alone the last time that happened when I was reading a book. Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters is a rare gem of a book. It’s witty, fresh, and so much fun. I enjoyed every single page I read, and plan on keeping this one on my shelves as a go-to book when I need a good chuckle.

Kelsey Finkelstein is, in a single word, awesome. If I were in high school with her, I would imagine we would be BFFs. She is the embodiment of all things teenage and girly. She is one of the best narrators I have encountered in YA fiction. I could have read about her escapades all day, every day.

Meredith Zeitlin is a genius. She has perfectly captured everything it is to be a teenage girl. The moment she transported me in to Kelsey’s world, I was hooked. Reading through Kelsey’s eyes is exactly like being in the mind of fourteen year old girl. Heck, it could have been my mind when I was fourteen. The way Zeiltin’s characters navigate through the tumultuous first year of high school impressed me. She artfully handled issues like drinking, peer pressure, sex, and first dates. Zeitlin delivers a full novel here, and the only fault I can find in her story is that it wasn’t long enough. I could have kept reading this book forever.

I’m desperately hoping that this isn’t the last I’ve seen of Kelsey Finkelstein and her incredible band of friends. This is a book I cannot recommend you discover enough for yourselves. Buy a copy and a spare to lend out to friends, nieces, daughters, cousins, etc. It’s that good.

Feb 15, 2012

Review & Giveaway: Vampire's Kiss by Veronica Wolff

Title: Vampire’s Kiss
Author: Veronica Wolff
Publisher:  NAL
Publication Date: 3.6.2012
Pages: 320
Genre: Paranormal
Series: Yes (The Watchers #2)
Source: ARC from publisher

Rating: B+

Summary (from Goodreads):
By her wits, blood, and sacrifice, so far Drew has survived the intensive training on the Isle of Night. As a second-year Acari, her ultimate goal is to become a Watcher, and now she has a shot at her first mission. Except nothing is as it seems. The vampire Alcántara is as sinister as he is sexy, Ronan is more distant than ever, and it turns out there are other vampires out there. Bad ones.

Ancient, bloodthirsty, and powerful, these undead are really old school. They’ve captured one of the Watcher vamps and are torturing him for information. The only chance to save him is to infiltrate a major summit the baddies are holding on their own island. There will be mortals there, serving as butlers, maids, and various hired help. Drew had better brush up on her skills as a serving girl, because she’s about to go undercover…

But, when their vampire prisoner turns out to be a gorgeous bad boy, Drew’s first mission quickly turns into more than she bargained for…

I so love Veronica Wolff and her brilliant new spin on vampires. The second book in her Watchers series is full of the same heart-pounding action and seductive drama I came to love in Isle of Night. Vampire’s Kiss is a wonderful follow up.

Drew is just amazing. I love her wit and sarcasm; it really adds flavor to her narrative. She has this fantastic self-deprecating nature that keeps the story from getting too dark or too intense. Her inner monologues had me cracking up at several points, and she seems like the kind of girl I would really get along with.

The only drawback (and I don’t even know if one would call it that) is the fact that by the conclusion of book 2, Drew has four possible suitors. Four. I get the romantic triangles that seem to be necessary in books nowadays, but four? A love pentagon? For the record, I think I’m going Team Alcantara this time. I love their vibes, and they have this insane sexual chemistry that really jumps of the pages.

If you read Isle of Night, then you have a good idea of what’s in store for you in Vampire’s Kiss. Wolff is a solid storyteller with fresh new ideas and a knack for writing great action sequences. If you haven’t started this series, then what are you waiting for? Consider this your written invitation if that’s what you need.


Want to win your own copy of Vampire's Kiss? Comment below with your email address by Feb. 27, 2012! US and Canda only please!

Feb 13, 2012

Review: Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

Title: Pandemonium
Author: Lauren Oliver
Publisher:  HarperCollins
Publication Date: 2.28.2012
Pages: 375
Genre: Dystopian
Series: Yes (Delirium #2)
Source: ARC from publisher

Rating: B+

Summary (from Goodreads):
I’m pushing aside the memory of my nightmare,
pushing aside thoughts of Alex,
pushing aside thoughts of Hana and my old school,
like Raven taught me to do.
The old life is dead.
But the old Lena is dead too.
I buried her.
I left her beyond a fence,
behind a wall of smoke and flame.

It’s safe to say that Delirium was on the top of everyone’s must read list last year. It was an epic, sprawling dystopian that took the YA world by storm, and Pandemonium is a book that is going to be just as huge this year. It goes without saying that Lauren Oliver is a writing phenomena, and anything she pens is breath taking and worth reading.

Getting back into Lena’s world was a relief. Delirium left things way too open-ended, and I was dying to know what had happened to her. The first few pages are heart-pounding as you escape with Lena. Her jumbled, broken thoughts are mesmerizing. I love how quickly I was drawn back into this story.

While I absolutely adore Oliver’s writing and the way she tells a tale, I felt like this story was a bit frustrating. Let me explain: While the action and drama were undoubtedly present, this book did what so many other books and even TV shows do in their sophomore chapters. They introduced new characters, and inevitably when new characters are introduced and given their own arcs, other main characters you initially fell in love with are pushed to the side. I will say that by the end, I came to enjoy most of these new characters, but I found it a bit off-putting in the beginning.

I also wasn’t entirely crazy about the flip flopping from Then and Now. The story alternates chapters, dividing the novel into past and present, which took a bit of getting used to. I was used to it by the end, but never entirely comfortable with it. I felt the story lost some of its fluidity. I would have preferred a more linear story, but that’s my personal preference.

The ending positively killed me. Oliver has also mastered the jaw-dropping, cliff hanger ending, so be warned. If Delirium left you craving more, Pandemonium will leave you pulling your hair out in frustration. I personally can’t wait to see what the next installment in this story brings, and how Oliver ties everything together. I’m sure it will be epic.

Feb 12, 2012

Tempest Audiobook Giveaway!

I got the chance to read and fall in love with Julie Cross' debut, Tempest. Now, thanks to the awesome people at St. Martin's Griffin, you can have your own audiobook copy!

Here's my review: http://theirishbanana.blogspot.com/2012/01/review-tempest-by-julie-cross.html

All you have to do is reply here with your email address and you're entered. The contest ends Feb. 23, 2012. Unfortunately this is US Only since the publisher will be shipping it directly to you.

Here's a sample of the audiobook:

Author Interview: Lauren Oliver

HarperTeen recently posted on their YouTube channel an interview with Lauren Oliver, author of the Delirium series and Before I Wake. She talks about Pandemonium and Lena's reaction to the wilds and why it was so important for her, as an author, to write about it.

Review: Hallowed by Cynthia Hand

Title: Hallowed
Author: Cynthia Hand
Publisher:  HarperTeen
Publication Date: 1.17.2012
Pages: 403
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Angels
Series: Yes (Unearthly #2)
Source: egalley from publisher

Rating: A+

Summary (from Goodreads):
For months Clara Gardner trained to face the fire from her visions, but she wasn't prepared for the choice she had to make that day. And in the aftermath, she discovered that nothing about being part angel is as straightforward as she thought.

Now, torn between her love for Tucker and her complicated feelings about the roles she and Christian seem destined to play in a world that is both dangerous and beautiful, Clara struggles with a shocking revelation: Someone she loves will die in a matter of months. With her future uncertain, the only thing Clara knows for sure is that the fire was just the beginning.

I really don’t know why I waited so long to read this book. Cynthia Hand is a writing goddess. I absolutely adored her style in Unearthly, and she kept it going just as strong and fluidly in Hallowed. It was magic from start to finish.

As a reader, I completely love a well-spun tale (don’t we all?). Hand really goes all out with the world she has created and the angel mythology. I love that it seems equal parts fact and fiction. She threads just enough truth into her story to make you pause and wonder if it could really be truth. But she never crosses the line into outright blasphemy. It’s a dangerously thin line that she toes with grace. I love the history she gives her characters, and the way she explains glory and purpose.

No matter how great a plot is, it can’t be amazing without characters you love. Clara is still a great narrator. I love her strength and innocence and heart. She is truly one of my favorite female heroines of all time.

I have to admit … I think I may have jumped the Tucker/Clara ship and am swimming frantically for the Christian/Clara ship on the horizon. Please don’t get me wrong, Tucker is still … Tucker. Which means he is epic and incredible and everything a girl could want in a YA boyfriend. But Christian and Clara just have this connection that Hand really pushes to the foreground this time around. You simply cannot deny their chemistry. A blogger friend of mine texted me after she read this and said she was firmly now Team Christian, which stunned me as she had been a complete Team Tucker fan at the start.

Honestly? I don’t care one way or another who Clara ends up with. I think both are right for her in their own ways, and I’ll be happy with whatever Cynthia Hand decides is best for Clara.

While Hallowed doesn’t have a major cliffhanger ending (it’s actually fairly sweet), there are a lot of burning questions that are begging to be answered. It will be borderline torturous to wait another year to find out what happens to Clara, Tucker, Christian, Jeffrey, Angela and the rest, but I have a feeling it will be well worth the wait.

Feb 6, 2012

Review: Shooting Stars by Allison Rushby

Title: Shooting Stars
Author: Allison Rushby
Publisher:  Walker Children’s
Publication Date: 2.28.2012
Pages: 272
Genre: Contemporary
Series: No
Source: ARC swap

Rating: A-

Summary (from Goodreads):
Meet Josephine Foster, or Zo Jo as she’s called in the biz. The best pint-sized photographer of them all, Jo doesn’t mind doing what it takes to get that perfect shot, until she’s sent on an undercover assignment to shoot Ned Hartnett—teen superstar and the only celebrity who’s ever been kind to her—at an exclusive rehabilitation retreat in Boston. The money will be enough to pay for Jo’s dream: real photography classes, and maybe even quitting her paparazzi gig for good. Everyone wants to know what Ned’s in for. But Jo certainly doesn’t know what she’s in for: falling in love with Ned was never supposed to be part of her assignment.

When I read the synopsis for this book, I was totally intrigued. When I started reading this book, I was somewhat disappointed. By the time I finished this book, I was melting from adoration.

It took me half the book to warm up to our narrator, Jo. I’m not even going to mince words: Jo annoyed the crap outta me for a good while. I felt like too much time was spent with her talking about the “papping” world (every time she said “pap” my mind went to an icky, not so good place). I wanted to know more about Jo the person, not the paparazzo. It took some time, but Jo finally let her true self shine through. I have to commend Allison Rushby of her writing of Jo. There were so many layers to this girl, and I feel like I should be chastised as a reader for not realizing there was more simmering under the surface of this character. I wrongly wrote her off too quickly, and for that I apologize.

By the time I was 1/3 through this book, I was positive I was sure I knew what would happen. In fact, I was actually penning the review in my head (it wasn’t that wonderful). Then this huge … twist happens that I swear I never, ever saw coming. Totally threw me for a much needed loop, and after that I was gone. I became completely engrossed by this book. I hate not being able to tell you what the twist is, but that would completely ruin the best “OMG” moment in the novel. It’s jaw-dropping worthy, trust me.

Rushby has written a fun, witty, and quick-paced novel that kept me on my toes. It was a great, read-in-one-sitting type of book. Definitely a deliciously guilty pleasure read. Check this one out, and be prepared to fight off urges to go camera shopping!

Buy: Amazon

Follower Love Giveaway Hop!

This giveaway hop is hosted by the aweomse people from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer & Rachel Renee Anderson. It will run from Feb. 7 - Feb. 14, 2012. I'll choose the winner on Feb. 15, 2012

This one is INTERNATIONAL! So best of luck and start thinking of which book you'd like to get! I love my followers, so I had to make it accessible for all!
The Prize:

You can win any book of your choice, up to $15 USD from:

if you live in the US,

if you live outside the US! That means this giveaway is international as long as The Book Depository ships free to you. Not sure? Check this list HERE.
The Rules:

Must be a public GFC follower - I will be checking!

*Bonus entries:
+1 - Follow Me on Twitter
+3 - Reply to any of my reviews
+1 - Answer the following question in the comments: What is your favorite book romance?

I will contact the winner via email and they will have 48 hours to reply to my email before another winner is chosen!

That's all you need! Oh, and fill out the form:

All done? Awesome! Now, keep on hopping: HOP LIST!

Valentine's Day with HarperTeen

I am a huge fan of HarperTeen. In fact, they may be my favorite YA publisher. That being said, it is getting close to the big ole day of love, and they have set up a bunch of cool giveaways and things. Make sure you check it out!

Month of Love: https://www.facebook.com/EpicReads?sk=app_208788519217199      
Crush Calculator:

Book Blogger Confessions (3)

This is a shiny, new blogger meme co-hosted by Tiger from Tiger's All Consuming Books and Karen at For What It's Worth Reviews. It's time to open up and share (and vent) about our blogging experiences!

The question is:

February 6th: Deadlines for reviewing and blogging. Do you set them? How do you keep them? What do you do if you can't meet a deadline?

I'm a huge fan of planning and mapping out. I know a lot of bloggers who have calendars set up of what to post on which day, which memes to follow ... All nicely color coded, organized, and pretty.

I am not that blogger.

I wish I were. I think my life might be easier if I could be more organized, but at the same time, I might go a little nutty. The blog is my hobby. It's a way to talk about one of my biggest passions, but it isn't my day job. Truth is, I'm not organized with my blogging. I will go days without posting and then post-dump 6 entries at once. I'm not habitual in my memes ... If they strike my fancy, I join in.

The one thing I am a stickler about is reviews. If I tell an author/publisher that I will have a review posted by a certain day, I will. If they are going to go out of their way to send me a free book, the least I can do is accomodate them and keep my word.

I have aspirations that I will get a planner or calendar to map out my blog ... but I know it's a dream and will likely never happen. For now, though, what I'm doing works for me.

Feb 5, 2012

Under the Never Sky Survival Quiz

I absolutely adore Veronica Rossi's Under the Never Sky. It was one of the best books I've ever read. Now there is a quiz to see if you could survive in Rossi's intense world.

I couldn't. Sigh.

See if you can!