Thursday, October 23, 2014

Review: In a Handful of Dust by Mindy McGinnis

Title: In a Handful of Dust
Author: Mindy McGinnis
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: 9.23.2014
Pages: 384
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian
Series: Not a Drop to Drink #2
Source: ARC from publisher

Rating: 4 ½ Stars

Summary (from Goodreads):
The only thing bigger than the world is fear.

Lucy’s life by the pond has always been full. She has water and friends, laughter and the love of her adoptive mother, Lynn, who has made sure that Lucy’s childhood was very different from her own. Yet it seems Lucy’s future is settled already—a house, a man, children, and a water source—and anything beyond their life by the pond is beyond reach.

When disease burns through their community, the once life-saving water of the pond might be the source of what’s killing them now. Rumors of desalinization plants in California have lingered in Lynn’s mind, and the prospect of a “normal” life for Lucy sets the two of them on an epic journey west to face new dangers: hunger, mountains, deserts, betrayal, and the perils of a world so vast that Lucy fears she could be lost forever, only to disappear in a handful of dust.

In this companion to 
Not a Drop to Drink, Mindy McGinnis thrillingly combines the heart-swelling hope of a journey, the challenges of establishing your own place in the world, and the gripping physical danger of nature in a futuristic frontier.


Lucy has grown so much since Lynn first found her. She has grown accustomed to living like Lynn. She pulls her weight and helps with the sick. But she has a spark even if he doesn't know why.

She hasn't always lived like this. She came from the city. Or what was left it. She wants more and she will find a way. Lynn has been such a good mother to her and stands by her. Even if she doesn't think it's a good idea.

They embark on a journey that allows them both to learn more about themselves. And throughout the journey I almost died. It's so suspenseful and I was holding my breath. Like when you watch a scary movie and the music is playing and you're like oh no! I wanted the best for Lynn and Lucy.

When they i ally get to a town, you get that feeling like maybe this is it but there is that shadow of doubt once you meet the people. And I just want to say ew. Like I really can't believe what they have done. Mindy really gave you a surprise there. But it goes well with the hardness of the times and everyone's just trying to survive.

I got to the end and I let out a breathe that I forgot I was holding. I can only hope for just one more book that lets you know about their end journeys. Lynn is an amazing woman. Hardened by how she grew up and all that she has gone through. Softened only by the little Lucy. Lucy was so gentle and sweet but has learned from Lynn and has grown to understand what it means to live.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Waiting On Wednesday: Dove Arising

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly event, hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly waiting to get into our hands.

This week I'm waiting on....

By: Karen Bao

Phaet Theta has lived her whole life in a colony on the Moon. She’s barely spoken since her father died in an accident nine years ago. She cultivates the plants in Greenhouse 22, lets her best friend talk for her, and stays off the government’s radar.

Then her mother is arrested.

The only way to save her younger siblings from the degrading Shelter is by enlisting in the Militia, the faceless army that polices the Lunar bases and protects them from attacks by desperate Earth-dwellers. Training is brutal, but it’s where Phaet forms an uneasy but meaningful alliance with the preternaturally accomplished Wes, a fellow outsider.

Rank high, save her siblings, free her mom:  that’s the plan. Until Phaet’s logically ordered world begins to crumble...

Suspenseful, intelligent, and hauntingly prescient, Dove Arising stands on the shoulders of our greatest tales of the future to tell a story that is all too relevant today.

Why I Want It:
I was so bummed this was pushed back and wasn't at BEA or ALA, but February is coming soon and I will have this book soon! This book sounds just phenomenal.

Dove Arising will be released February 25, 2015 by Viking Juvenile

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Review: Famous In Love by Rebecca Serle

Title: Famous In Love
Author: Rebecca Serle
Publisher: Poppy
Publication Date: 10.21.2014
Pages: 336
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Series: Famous In Love #1
Source: ARC from BEA

Rating: 4 ½ Stars

Summary (from Goodreads):
When seventeen-year-old Paige Townsen gets plucked from obscurity to star in the movie adaptation of a blockbuster book series, her life changes practically overnight. Within a month, Paige has traded the quiet streets of her hometown for a bustling movie set on the shores of Maui, and she is spending quality time with her costar Rainer Devon, one of People's Sexiest Men Alive. But when troubled star Jordan Wilder lands the role of the other point in the movie's famous love triangle, Paige's crazy new life begins to resemble her character's. 

In this coming-of-age romance inspired by the kind of celeb hookups that get clever nicknames and a million page views, Paige must figure out who she is -- and who she wants -- while the whole world watches.

OK, Rebecca Serle, you are freaking brilliant. I just need to get that out of the way because Holy Moses, this story was awesome. The premise, the cast, the settings … FAMOUS IN LOVE was like getting a tantalizing glimpse of the life behind the tabloids and every single thing about it was just sheer perfection.

Does it sound like I’m fangirling a bit here? Because I am.

GAH! It’s been weeks since I read this gem of a book and I am still having a hard time expressing just why I love it so hard.

This is a fun book. A guilty pleasure, stay up late and miss work kind of book. It’s not overly heavy or dramatic despite it being set in the glitzy yet troubling world of teenage Hollywood, but this book is pure entertainment. Maybe because it’s a little bit like fantasy fulfillment. Don’t tell me you never imagine being plucked from obscurity and thrust into the spotlight where you meet an amazingly hot guy (or two)!

It’s just us girls (and guys?) here. You can tell me…

Look, FAMOUS IN LOVE is a feel-good book with extremely likeable characters. Paige is a great narrator and I actually loved that she was torn between these two guys. I can assure you the ending isn’t what you expect, but before you go freaking out like I did, there’s another book coming.

If it’s half as good as this one? Then I’ll love it, and so will you.
Buy Famous in Love

Monday, October 20, 2014

Review: Not A Drop To Drink by Mindy McGinnis

Title: Not A Drop To Drink
Author: Mindy McGinnis
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: 9.24.2013
Pages: 320
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian
Series: Not A Drop To Drink #1
Source: ARC from publisher

Rating: 4 ½ Stars

Summary (from Goodreads):
Lynn knows every threat to her pond: drought, a snowless winter, coyotes, and, most importantly, people looking for a drink. She makes sure anyone who comes near the pond leaves thirsty, or doesn't leave at all.

Confident in her own abilities, Lynn has no use for the world beyond the nearby fields and forest. Having a life means dedicating it to survival, and the constant work of gathering wood and water. Having a pond requires the fortitude to protect it, something Mother taught her well during their quiet hours on the rooftop, rifles in hand.

But wisps of smoke on the horizon mean one thing: strangers. The mysterious footprints by the pond, nighttime threats, and gunshots make it all too clear Lynn has exactly what they want, and they won’t stop until they get it….


What a way to live! Some might like being cut off from society and the days filled with hard labor just so you can survive. It made me think of just how bad off we would be if something like this were to happen. How we are so dependent on modern technology that we would have no idea how to survive if we were cut off from it.

Lynn grew up this way. Cut off from the world and hardly knew what anything else was. Her mother can only teach her so much about a world that no longer is. She was so cut off from everything. She grew up fast, learning how to shoot and hunt just to make it by. She had a hard life. I really can't even imagine living in her world.

I love how she grows, and for the better. She takes in a little girl who becomes her life. She learns about love and it's unfortunate heart break in the meanest way. She keeps her old ways but grows a little more each day.

The events she goes are really amazing. I can only imagine being her or even with her. Growing up thinking that what you have is all you have and you have to protect it is hard to just turn your back on. She soon realized that maybe her mother was just a bit to hard or life and decides that people really aren't as bad as she feared.

Purchase: Not a Drop to Drink

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Where In the World Is PRETTY GIRL 13?

Nearly two years ago, I fell hard for this unknown book, PRETTY GIRL-13. (Check out my review!) This book was brilliantly written and quickly became one of my favorite contemporaries of all time. While the book slowly slipped out of everyone's minds, it's been gaining traction globally. Liz Coley, author of Pretty Girl-13, is here today to talk about where her book is and what's been going on. She also comes bearing gifts, so be sure to check out the bottom of the post!

Where in the World is Pretty Girl-13?
One of the coolest surprises about my debut novel Pretty Girl-13 is the reception she’s received in foreign translations. My German publisher has just sent me this amazing cover image, revealed here!

At the moment, there are overseas editions in Russia, Ukraine, Brazil, France, the UK, Taiwan, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and the Spanish speaking countries. Coming next year are Norway, Germany, and mainland China. A lot of people are curious about how the whole international publishing biz works, so here are some basic FAQs.

How did you find foreign publishers?
My literary agency in New York works with a foreign rights co-agent (also in New York) who specializes in this aspect of selling an author’s work. My foreign rights co-agent maintains relationships with literary agents in many other countries; she gets to know them and keeps tabs on the kind of work they like to represent. When she reads a property (manuscript) she think has international appeal, she will pitch it to her overseas literary agents to represent in their own countries, and if they agree with the potential, they will take it on and attempt to sell it. In this chain, with three agents ultimately involved in the sale, each one typically get 10% of advance and royalties for their work. You don’t have to publish in English first, but that’s the more usual path; the American or English publisher edits the manuscript to its final version with the author.

How did you find translators?
Foreign publishing houses read manuscripts in English and if they acquire rights for their territory, they hire their own preferred translators. There is no need or desire for the author to lift a finger, which is a good thing, since I only speak one of the translated languages of PG13, and at that, not well enough to read my own book!

Was it fun picking all the different covers?
It was fun SEEING all the different covers as the files were sent to me, well into the production process. Unlike the domestic editions where the author can intervene in cover design to some extent, the foreign covers are a “fait accompli” as they say—a done deal. I love seeing not only how each country has decided to package the story for its audience, but also how they have decided to title it (another fait accompli). The Taiwan edition (Sun Color) includes tear out trading cards of Angie’s alter personalities. You need to buy two copies to get the full set. Clever.

Do you get any input?
Several publishers have asked for a special author’s note or letter for their readers, which gives me a chance to personalize that edition just a bit. I wrote a brief note in French for the first French edition and a letter to readers about Dissociative Identity Disorder for the mainland Chinese edition.

Which is your favorite cover? 
Ha! Do you have a favorite child? I love different things about each one. The eyes of the girl on the Russian cover captivate me (yes, pun intended), as does the faraway expression on the Taiwan edition. The French title “Hear Us” is really smart—thank you my dear editeur Frédérique!. The two brilliant red covers—the UK snow globe girl and the German girl of shards—complement each other so well. The Swedish title “Bereft” emphasizes what is lost. The title “Return from Darkness” for the Czech and Slovakian editions emphasizes what is found. In a way, each new translation helps me understand my own work even more.


*US mailing address only. Winner must be over 13. The Irish Banana Review is not responsible for any lost/damaged/unsent prizes by a third party.*

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About Pretty Girl-13:
Pretty Girl-13 is a disturbing and powerful psychological thriller about a girl who must piece together the story of her kidnapping and captivity and then piece together her own identity.

When thirteen-year-old Angela Gracie Chapman looks in the mirror, someone else looks back--a thin, pale stranger, a sixteen-year-old with haunted eyes. Angie has no memory of the past three years, years in which she was lost to the authorities, lost to her family and friends, lost even to herself. Where has she been, who has been living her life, and what is hiding behind the terrible blankness? There are secrets you can’t even tell yourself.

With a tremendous amount of courage and support from unexpected friends, Angie embarks on a journey into the darkest corners of her mind. As she unearths more and more about her past, she discovers a terrifying secret and must decide: when you remember things you wish you could forget, do you destroy the people responsible, or is there another way to feel whole again?

About Liz Coley:

Liz Coley writes fiction for teens and for the teen in you.

Her first published work was science fiction short stories, published in Cosmos magazine and several anthologies.

Self-published YA novel Out of Xibalba features a contemporary teenager thrown back to ancient Mayan times. 
The story starts when the world ends.

Pretty Girl-13 from HarperCollins will be released in at least ten languages on five continents, in print, ebook, and audiobook.
There are secrets you can't even tell yourself. 

Liz lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband, her teenaged daughter, 18-year-old Tiger the cat, and kittens Pippin and Merry. When she's not involved in writing-related activities, she can be found sewing, baking, shooting photos, playing tennis, and singing.

Liz loves reading aloud.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Review: Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

Title: Heir of Fire
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: 9.2.2014
Pages: 556
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Romance
Series: Throne of Glass #1
Source: ARC from BEA

Rating: 5 Stars

Summary (from Goodreads):
Lost and broken, Celaena Sardothien’s only thought is to avenge the savage death of her dearest friend: as the King of Adarlan’s Assassin, she is bound to serve this tyrant, but he will pay for what he did. Any hope Celaena has of destroying the king lies in answers to be found in Wendlyn. Sacrificing his future, Chaol, the Captain of the King’s Guard, has sent Celaena there to protect her, but her darkest demons lay in that same place. If she can overcome them, she will be Adarlan’s biggest threat – and his own toughest enemy. 

While Celaena learns of her true destiny, and the eyes of Erilea are on Wendlyn, a brutal and beastly force is preparing to take to the skies. Will Celaena find the strength not only to win her own battles, but to fight a war that could pit her loyalties to her own people against those she has grown to love?


I have grown so attached to Calaena that it was hard knowing this would be it for a while.  Maas has created such an in depth character that she, along with her adventures, feels real.

After CoM, I expected Calaena to be all put together with her mind set and a plan and all the good stuff. Well, she does, sort of. You can see her change of heart and how she is in complete denial, as if she hasn't been for the last ten years. As if she couldn't hate her current situation any more, in strolls Rowan. I like him. He is mine. The boundaries he pushes Calaena to are heartbreaking. He is perfect at what do does and his reasons for doing it.

The imagery is just jaw dropping. I wish this world, almost, existed. Maas certainly has a gift for describing something in such detail, and not overly so, that you get exactly what she wants you to see and there is this pretty, sometimes gruesome, picture of a world we can only imagine and would hope to see.

There is just so much in this book. Everything is coming together and you start to understand Calaena  and everything that has happened directly and indirectly to her.

Chaol, Dorian, and the newly met Aedion all have their stories. The plotting and secrecy and love and hate and it is all just amazing. It is nonstop action, breathtaking suspense and the best cliffhanger I have seen. I CANNOT believe the end. I was so surprised  that I let out a wonderful line of expletives at the King. He is yet another character whose thoughts and feelings become palatable in this story. I never knew a story could have so much feeling.

If you have followed Calaena's journey you can understand my love for her and all of her friends and foes. I cannot wait for Maas' next masterpiece.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Spotlight: New World Rising by Jennifer Wilson

Since witnessing her parents’ murders at the age of eleven, Phoenix’s only purpose in life has been to uphold her mother’s dying words- to be strong and survive. But surviving outside of The Walls- outside of The Sanctuary- is more like a drawn-out death sentence. A cruel and ruthless city, Tartarus is run by the Tribes whose motto is simple, “Join or die.” 

Refusing to join and determined to live, Phoenix fights to survive in this savage world. Trusting no one, she lives as a rogue, fending only for herself. Then in a moment of rash judgment, she breaks all of her rules to save a child, and in that moment her life is turned upside down. When the rescue mission goes awry, Phoenix is captured by an underground group who claims no allegiance with either the Tribes nor The Sanctuary. She finds herself in the most dangerous game of survival she has ever played. 

In her captivity, only one person- the handsome and oddly sympathetic Triven- shows Phoenix something she has never before experienced: kindness. While warring with unfamiliar emotions and still skeptical of her captors' motives, Phoenix quickly realizes that these people may just hold the key to her lost memories. But who can she trust, when no one can be trusted? Not even herself.

New World: Rising on Amazon

About Jennifer:

As a child Jennifer loved getting lost in the stories of others, but struggled greatly with reading. A notoriously slow reader who stumbled with words and spelling, Jennifer shied away from books, leaning heavily on musical theater and movies to get her inspirational fix.

It was not until in her mid-teens, when a persistent friend convinced her to read the Harry Potter series, that Jennifer found her love for the written word. J.K. Rowling’s books opened doors not only to the fascinating world of a young wizard, but to a life filled with a multitude of literary friends and fantastical worlds. Once a timid reader, Jennifer now devours books and loves getting lost in a new series.

Jennifer had wanted to write her own novel since her early twenties, but unfortunately inspiration doesn’t always strike on command. Her first book, The Chosen, was completed in 2013. But as most first attempts go, it was a flop. While looking through a multitude of rejection letters, inspiration struck again, putting Grace’s story got on hold as Phoenix’s began.

New World: Rising began to fill Jennifer’s brain, flowing like a fully opened valve from her fingertips. What was once such a struggle in her early years suddenly became a passion.

When Jennifer is not writing, she is enjoying life in Colorado, rock climbing, camping, exploring new foods, playing with her golden retriever, Duke, and sharing her life with her handsome and wonderful husband.

More details about Jennifer Wilson and New World: Rising can be found at:

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