Sep 21, 2012

Cover Reveal: Opal by Jennifer L. Armentrout

It's no secret how much I adore Jennifer L. Armentrout and her Lux series (OK, everything she writes is literary gold). Here's the stunning cover to book #3 in the Lux series, OPAL.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
No one is like Daemon Black.

When he set out to prove his feelings for me, he wasn’t fooling around. Doubting him isn’t something I’ll do again, and now that we’ve made it through the rough patches, well... There’s a lot of spontaneous combustion going on.

But even he can’t protect his family from the danger of trying to free those they love.

After everything, I’m no longer the same Katy. I’m different... And I’m not sure what that will mean in the end. When each step we take in discovering the truth puts us in the path of the secret organization responsible for torturing and testing hybrids, the more I realize there is no end to what I’m capable. The death of someone close still lingers, help comes from the most unlikely source, and friends will become the deadliest of enemies, but we won’t turn back. Even if the outcome will shatter our worlds forever.

Well?! How stunning is that? I mean, that is just a great Daemon and Katy shot! I can't wait for this!

Also, for anyone interested, Jennifer L. Armentrout will be at the Baltimore Book Festival Sept. 28-30. I'm definitely going (I need my copy of Onyx signed!) - hope to see you there!

Sep 19, 2012

Back to the Books Winner!

Just realized I never announced the winner to the Back to the Books giveaway hop!
Our winner is .....
Jasmine R.!!!
Congrats! Book is already in the mail!

Dauntless Fan Page Contest

I feel like cheering anytime a young reader gets hooked on books. A young friend of mine recently got hooked on Divergent and Insurgent (if she's going to get hooked on anything, of course if would be Veronica Roth's incredible Divergent series).

In honor of the series, she started a Dauntless Fan Page on Facebook. I love that a 13 year old got so excited about a novel she started a fan page, hence why I'm bringing it to your attention.

And also because I decided to hold a small contest. :)

I have a brand-new paperback copy of Divergent by Veronica Roth I'm going to give away. If you already have your own copy of Divergent (which you totally should!), I will let you pick a book of your choice (up to $10 USD) from either or The Book Depository, so yes this contest is international.

This will last from September 19 - October 31, 2012.

In order to win you must:

1. Go to the DAUNTLESS FAN PAGE on Facebook and like it
2. Come back here and reply to this post with your:
   -Email Address and Name you used to Like the Facebook page

3. For 5 bonus entries, make a post on the wall and link back to it here in your reply!

I will contact the winner via email on November 1, 2012 and they will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is selected.

Sep 18, 2012

Review: Ten by Gretchen McNeil

Title: Ten
Author: Gretchen McNeil
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: 9.18.2012
Pages: 304
Genre: Horror, Contemporary, Mystery
Series: No
Source: ARC from a friend
Rating: A+
Summary (from Goodreads):
And their doom comes swiftly.
It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives—an exclusive house party on Henry Island. Best friends Meg and Minnie each have their reasons for being there (which involve T.J., the school’s most eligible bachelor) and look forward to three glorious days of boys, booze and fun-filled luxury.

But what they expect is definitely not what they get, and what starts out as fun turns dark and twisted after the discovery of a DVD with a sinister message:
Vengeance is mine.

Suddenly people are dying, and with a storm raging, the teens are cut off from the outside world. No electricity, no phones, no internet, and a ferry that isn’t scheduled to return for two days. As the deaths become more violent and the teens turn on each other, can Meg find the killer before more people die? Or is the killer closer to her than she could ever imagine?
Rarely have I wanted a book to be a movie as bad as I do Ten by Gretchen McNeil. Reading this book was like watching a fantastic horror flick. It has all the elements that I love—suspense, action, mystery, and a healthy dose of romantic angst.
Meg is, simply put, kick-ass. This is probably one of the most realistic teenage female characters I’ve read in a really long time. Not only is Meg strong, but she’s also not a total hero. When she’s supposed to be afraid, she is and admits it. One of my biggest pet peeves is taking a strong heroine and making her seemingly invincible. Meg is very human in her flaws, and I loved how easily I was able to connect with her.
McNeil does the novel a great service by truly setting up scenes. I felt like I was on the island with the characters. She does such a fantastic job laying out each scene; it was like watching a movie in my head. From the start when we arrived on the island in the midst of a storm, to walking around the island, I felt like I was an extra in the scenes because I was so clearly able to envision what was happening. McNeil walks that fine line between just enough information and too much info to enjoy a novel. While she would aptly illustrate a setting, it wasn’t overdone. It flowed effortlessly.
The plot kept me guessing to the end and the twist at the end was delicious. I highly recommend checking this book out, and if you can read it on a dark and stormy night at home alone, then definitely do it. It will totally get you in the mood.

Sep 5, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (29)

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week I'm waiting on....
By: Morgan Rhodes
In a land where magic has been forgotten but peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest is simmering. Three kingdoms grapple for power—brutally transforming their subjects’ lives in the process. Amidst betrayals, bargains, and battles, four young people find their fates forever intertwined:

Cleo: A princess raised in luxury must embark on a rough and treacherous journey into enemy territory in search of a magic long thought extinct.

Jonas: Enraged at injustice, a rebel lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country impoverished—and finds himself the leader of a people’s revolution centuries in the making.

Lucia: A girl adopted at birth into a royal family discovers the truth about her past—and the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield.

Magnus: Bred for aggression and trained to conquer, a firstborn son begins to realize that the heart can be more lethal than the sword...

The only outcome that’s certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?
Why I want it:
As a big fan of the Game of Thrones, I am really excited about this sweeping, epic fantasy. I'm also loving that there are FOUR main characters. I have this one sitting on my shelf, and I am itching to dig into it.

Sep 4, 2012

Review: Speechless by Hannah Harrington

Title: Speechless
Author: Hannah Harrington
Publisher:  HarlequinTeen
Publication Date: 8.28.2012
Pages: 336
Genre: Contemporary
Series: No (companion to Saving June)
Source: ARC from BEA
Rating: A+
Summary (from Goodreads):
Everyone knows that Chelsea Knot can't keep a secret
Until now. Because the last secret she shared turned her into a social outcast—and nearly got someone killed.

Now Chelsea has taken a vow of silence—to learn to keep her mouth shut, and to stop hurting anyone else. And if she thinks keeping secrets is hard, not speaking up when she's ignored, ridiculed and even attacked is worse.

But there's strength in silence, and in the new friends who are, shockingly, coming her way—people she never noticed before; a boy she might even fall for. If only her new friends can forgive what she's done. If only she can forgive herself.
Rarely has a book affected me as much as Speechless by Hannah Harrington. This book is heart breaking, poignant, and culturally relevant; it took aim at my heart and the arrow sailed straight through. I cried, I cheered, and at the end I had that deep satisfaction of reading a great novel.
When Chelsea tells the secret of a fellow classmate at a party, things quickly take a turn for the worse. In the aftermath, she reads an article where someone takes a vow of silence and decides to adopt this approach for herself. It was fascinating to read people’s reactions to her vow—everything from contempt to befuddlement. Her teachers especially seemed the most perplexed, and one class mate sexually harasses her.
This is really a novel about a girl becoming a young woman and understanding that words hurt and have consequences. Watching Chelsea’s evolution as a character was such an absolute joy. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a character transformation so complete and so genuine. Harrington has a gripping way of writing that drew me in from page 1.

When I started reading Speechless, I didn’t expect to find a book that would move me so much. It’s a fast read, which will hopefully appeal to a younger audience that can’t always appreciate the value of a 400 page novel. There are many lessons to be learned here from bullying to gossiping to taking responsibility for your actions. This is a novel I would enthusiastically pass on to teenagers and adults.

Top Ten Tuesday (7)

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!
Each week we will post a new Top Ten list that one of our bloggers here at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun!

This week is...

Top 10 Fall TBR Books!
1. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
It's been awhile since I read a book by Maggie Steifvater, and this one looks incredbiel - magic and boarding schools are always a fun combo!
2. Falling Kindgoms by Morgan Rhodes
I am definitely looking forward to reading this sprawling, epic book. I looks fantastic.
3. Eve and Adam by Katherine Applegate & Michael Grant
Genetically engineering the perfect boy? What could go wrong with that plan?
4. Valkyrie Rising by Ingrid Paulson
I am always in favor of a book that blends mythology with the present day.
5. Crewel by Gennifer Albin
The idea of being able to weave time just seems fascinating. Plus, this novel has already gotten a rave review from a good friend of mine.
6. Blind Spot by Laura Ellen
I will admit that the original selling point for me here was the cover art. I mean - it's stunning! But the entire book is narrated from the POV of someone who is blind, which is something I haven't encountered yet.
7. What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang
This book reminds me a lot of Stephenie Meyer's The Host, which I absolutely adored. Two souls, one body ... Lots of drama.
8. Cursed by Jennifer L. Armentrout
It's Jennifer Armentrout, which means I shall read it and I shall love it.
9. Nerve by Jeanne Ryan
I'm not sure if this is classified as SciFi or not, but it seems exciting and original.
10. Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter
One of my biggest BEA regrets is that I somehow missed this gem. A teenage zombie hunter? Sounds good to me!

Author Interview: Michelle Gagnon

I recently had the chance to chat with Michelle Gagnon about her new novel, Don't Turn Around. Hyped as a YA version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, this book is getting insanely popular reviews. Here's what Michelle had to say about writing, her foray in the young adult genre, and who she would headline the cast should Don't Turn Around be made into a movie!

1.) What was your inspiration for Don't Turn Around?
An editor and I collaborated on the underpinnings of the story; we knew that Noa would wake up on a table with an IV in her arm and no memory of how she gotthere, and that Peter would have his house broken into after hacking into awebsite. But from there, it really progressed in fits and starts. I’m not an outliner, so one idea just led to the next. When I sat down to write every day, I rarely had any idea how Noa was going to get out of her latest predicament unscathed—for me, that’s the fun part (while simultaneously being the most terrifying!)

2.) What made you decide to write a young adult novel?
One of the reasons I switched to YA for this series was that a friend pointed out that I’ve had a strong teen character in nearly all of my adult thrillers, and he suggested I try writing an entire thriller from that point of view. And it was really liberating-I ended up writing the rough draft in a little over eight weeks, research and all.

3.) If you could play casting director, who would you cast for the roles of Noa and Peter?
I really loved Dylan Minnette, the actor who played the son in the (sadly) short-lived series AWAKE. He didn’t have much of a chance to display humor in that role, but he’s such a talented actor that I believe he’d be a perfect Peter.
For Amanda, Amanda Seyfried would be fantastic. I’ve loved her work ever since I first saw her in BIG LOVE, and she definitely has the chops to make self-righteous Amanda likeable.
Noa is a tricky one. Christian Serratos has the right look, but I’m not sure if she has the edge. I’d really love a slightly younger Rooney Mara.

4.) What are your must-haves when writing?
Other than a laptop, nothing, really. I’m pretty bare bones, although a mug of coffee tends to help, too.

5.) What is your favorite part of being a writer?
Being able to go to work in my pajamas! I also love being able to take a day off if I need to. There’s nothing like going to a matinee on a Wednesday.

Sep 3, 2012

Review: Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Title: Tiger Lily
Author: Jodi Lynn Anderson
Publisher:  HaperCollins
Publication Date: 7.3.2012
Pages: 292
Genre: Fairytale; Retelling
Series: No
Source: ARC from friend

Rating: D+

Summary (from Goodreads):
Before Peter Pan belonged to Wendy, he belonged to the girl with the crow feather in her hair. . . .

Fifteen-year-old Tiger Lily doesn't believe in love stories or happy endings. Then she meets the alluring teenage Peter Pan in the forbidden woods of Neverland and immediately falls under his spell.

Peter is unlike anyone she's ever known. Impetuous and brave, he both scares and enthralls her. As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland's inhabitants, Peter is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily. Soon, she is risking everything—her family, her future—to be with him. When she is faced with marriage to a terrible man in her own tribe, she must choose between the life she's always known and running away to an uncertain future with Peter.

With enemies threatening to tear them apart, the lovers seem doomed. But it's the arrival of Wendy Darling, an English girl who's everything Tiger Lily is not, that leads Tiger Lily to discover that the most dangerous enemies can live inside even the most loyal and loving heart.

Few books made me quite as excited as Tiger Lily this year. To say that I’m a Peter Pan fanatic is putting it mildly. I adore Peter Pan and everything about Never Neverland—the pirates, the mermaids, and, yes, the Indians. Tiger Lily has always held a special place in my heart, and I have always wanted some sort of back story for her. I felt like with this book I would finally get that. I was even on board with the idea of a Tiger Lily/Peter Pan romance or flirtation.

Which I why I was stunned at how much I really disliked this book.

From the beginning I felt like Tiger Lily was a cold, impersonal girl. I never connected with her. She was silent, stoic and introverted. I was hoping Jodi Lynn Anderson would take this opportunity to flesh out the quiet girl from the book/movie. Instead I got a passionless, emotionless girl who simply moved through life and never enjoyed it.

The only time I felt like Tiger Lily had a spark of personality was when Peter Pan was around, but even that was muted and dulled. I wish there had been more of Peter Pan in the story, but his storyline was (to me) strange and unsettling. Peter Pan has always flirted on the edge of arrogance and childishness, but in this he seemed more outright violent and crass. I was amazed at how much I disliked all the characters here.

I feel like the opportunity was there for a great novel. A lot of people have loved the Peter Pan folklore and stories, but this attempt fell seriously flat for me.

*If you want a different perspective on Tiger Lily, check out the review at Hippies, Beauty, and Books - Oh My!*

Sep 2, 2012

Stacking the Shelves #3

Stacking The Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews. This a new way to showcase all the books currently weighing down my shelves. This week I am showcasing the books I got at Bookexpo America for review, as well as a few other review copies I received. Because there's so many, I won't list them all here.

Sep 1, 2012

Back to the Blog

It's that time again.

Summer is coming to a close. School is starting back up, the heat is dying down, and after a much longer hiatus than anticipated, I'm finally in a place where I can start blogging normally again! Well, as normal as normal can be.

So much happened this summer ... I feel like I haven't stopped moving since I was at BEA nearly 3 months ago (it was seriously that long ago?!). I started a new job, which sent me away almost immediately for training across the country, my little brother got married in a whirlwind (seriously - try putting a wedding together in 10 days), I went on vacation, and was generally just running like a maniac trying to get adjusted to all the changes.

Did I mention I'm going to be a first-time aunt in January? Yes, my niece Aria Elizabeth (named for the character from Sara Shepard's Pretty Little Liars series) will make her debut this winter.

For those of you who are still around, thanks for sticking it out for my sporadic posts; I promise the best is yet to come. Those of you who just got here? Welcome to the Irish Banana Review, and I hope you enjoy the ride!

Back to the Books Giveaway Hop

This giveaway hop is hosted by the aweomse Kathy @ I Am A Reader, Not A Writer. It will run from September 1-7, 2012. I'll choose the winner on Sept. 8, 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 $20 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:
+5 - Reply to any of my reviews

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!