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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Caged In Winter Celebration!

CAGED IN WINTER is a November 2014 release from the amazingly talented Brighton Walsh. I actually read this story a few weeks ago and it has quickly skyrocketed into my new favorite new adult book. There's just something about these characters, this writing, that really resonates with me, and I think everyone will love it.

*Part of this excerpt has been hidden due to mature content. Simply highlight the text where indicated to read on.*

“Okay, now add the flour, but—” It’s too late, a puff of white exploding in Winter’s face before I can get the words out or reach to flip the switch. “You need to turn the mixer to low.”
She spins around, her cheeks covered in random white spots, some of the flour dusting her hair. “You couldn’t say that before, ‘Now add the flour’?” Her voice is low, her eyes narrowed, and I take a step back.
“Well, yeah, I guess I could’ve, but I just sort of figured you’d know enough not to add loose flour to a wildly spinning mixer.”
“Oh, you figured I’d know enough for that, huh? Even after I told you I’ve never made cookies before? Even then?”
She’s advancing on me now, and I shouldn’t be retreating like a scared animal. I have more than a foot on her, a hundred-plus pounds, but she looks pissed. And that glint in her eye tells me she’s up to something. I glance down at her hand, seeing a measuring cup half filled with flour, and I realize what she’s going to do a split-second before she does, but not soon enough to dodge it.
A cloud of white powder hits me straight in the face, and I cough as I inhale some. Wiping away the dust from my eyes, I say, “I can’t believe you did that.”
“Oh, well, I just figured you’d know enough to duck.” She shrugs and offers me a saccharine smile.
“I don’t think you want to start this with me, baby.”
“In case you missed the flour in your face a second ago, I already started it, baby.”
I stare her down, then reach over, grabbing the bowl of melted chocolate—my mom’s secret ingredient in her cookies—and dip my fingers into it. Winter narrows her eyes at me and takes a step back. “Don’t you dare.”
“Where you goin’? I thought you wanted to get messy.”
“No, I wanted you to get messy. I didn’t have a choice with this,” she says as she gestures to where the flour hit her. She darts her eyes down to the bowl of chocolate, then back up to my face. “Don’t, Cade. You’re going to get me dirty, and I have to be at work soon.”
“You maybe should’ve thought about that before you threw a scoop of flour in my face.” I don’t wait for her response before I smear the chocolate down her cheek to her jaw, then all the way down her neck and into the deep V of her shirt, stopping when I feel the swell of her breasts. “Whoops.”
“You did not just do that.”
“Looks like I did.” I shrug, putting the bowl back on the counter before I lick the chocolate from my fingers. She focuses on the act, her lips parted. I lean closer to her, drop my voice, and gesture to the spots of her skin that are covered. “You want me to clean you up, too?”
Glaring, she gives a jerky shake of her head, but a flush works its way up her chest to her neck—one of the tells she’s getting turned on.
I step closer, backing her into the corner until she’s pressed against the cabinets behind her. “Sure about that? It wouldn’t take much. Just a lick or two. Maybe a couple sucks. We’d probably have to take your shirt off, though, and your bra, too. I really got down in there.”
Her head’s tilted back as she stares up at me, her chest rising and falling in quick succession from her labored breathing.
I lean into her space, lick up a path from her neck to her ear. *Highlight now to continue*“I think you do. I think you want my tongue all over you, don’t you, baby? I got you all dirty. Seems only fair I clean you up.” Before she can respond, my mouth closes over her shoulder, my tongue tracing along the chocolate I smeared there. By the time I’ve dipped into the neckline of her shirt, my tongue in the valley of her breasts, her nipples are pressed tight against the material, and she’s got a white-knuckled grip on the countertop behind her.
“Want me to stop?”
I wait a second. Two. And when she gives the slightest shake of her head, I take. Gripping her face in my hands, my mouth covers hers, my tongue slipping inside. She groans into the kiss, her hands finally coming up to clutch my forearms.
“Wait.” She wrenches her mouth from mine, turning her head to the side. “Cade, wait. Your sister.”
I focus on licking every stray ounce of chocolate I can find, her hands a counterpoint to her words as she holds me close. “Not home. Gone till four.”
“Shit! Four. I have to be at work at four!”
“We’ve got time. Now stop talking.”
I peel her jeans and panties off, then lift her onto the counter, desperate to feel her around me. With one hand, I fumble with the button of my jeans, the other busy between Winter’s thighs, rubbing soft circles around her clit, getting her ready for me. She’s moaning, her head resting back on the cabinets, and the sight of her there, half naked in my kitchen, is too much. Too fucking much, and I can’t get my goddamn jeans off.

When she notices, her hands are there, opening my jeans and yanking my boxers down just far enough to pull me out. Her hands are around my cock, pumping slowly, and I need inside her now.

In this emotional and sexy New Adult debut from Brighton Walsh, the only thing more frightening than commitment is hope…

Aspiring chef Cade Maxwell is immediately, viscerally attracted to Winter Jacobson. But it’s not her mouthwatering curves he’s drawn to—it’s the strange emptiness in her eyes. When Cade saves her from a drunken customer with grabby hands, he’s shocked at her response…

Winter doesn’t need Cade’s help. After a lifetime of getting by on her own, she’s happy to rely on herself. She’s exactly seventy-six days away from graduating college, and if she can hold it together that long, she’ll finally be able to rise above the crappy hand she was dealt.

But now, every time she turns around, Cade is there, ready to push her, smile at her, distract her from her plans. Winter knows she can’t afford to open up—especially to a man she’s terrified to actually want…

Brighton Walsh spent nearly a decade as a professional photographer before deciding to take her storytelling in a different direction and reconnect with writing. She lives in the Midwest with her husband and two children.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Spooktacular Giveaway Hop

It's been awhile since I did a giveaway hop, and I figured, why not?

This giveaway hop is hosted by the amazing Kathy @ I Am A Reader, Not A Writer. It will run from October 15-31, 2014. I'll choose the winner on Nov. 1, 2014

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 a $15 gift certificate to

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:
*I will contact the winner via email and they will have 48 hours to reply to my email before another winner is chosen!
*Must be over 13

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Review: Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

Title: Snow Like Ashes
Author: Sara Raasch
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: 10.14.2014
Pages: 432
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Series: Snow Like Ashes #1
Source: ARC from BEA

Rating: 5 Stars

Summary (from Goodreads):
A heartbroken girl. A fierce warrior. A hero in the making.

Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again.

So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, and serving her kingdom just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.

Sara Raasch is AMAZING!!!!! I read the back and was immediately intrigued. Using the seasons was so different that I had to read it. And I'm so glad I did.

Meira immediately captured my attention. She has such a strong will and determination that you feel with her. She wants to be a part of something bigger and tried so hard to please everyone and prove she is worth it. Her struggle with herself and Sir is iconic of a daughter trying to prove she is just as equal as her brother. She pushes herself so much and eventually wins out, just not as she first thought, with a completely unexpected turn of events I never saw it coming.

I think why I loved most was the details in the lands. This story is so descriptive that I didn't need to reference the map in the beginning at all. I loved how she used the season as different regions and how descriptive each location was in accordance with their season. It was all so pretty. Made me want to be there.

The most palpable thing in this book was the struggle. The Winterians were so strong, well trying to be, and all the refugees trying their hardest to free their people and get their kingdom back. All that they went through definitely pull at my heart. She was so descriptive in their pain that it made you really want them to win.

This book was different for me. I loved it. And I can't believe that what happened, happened. I hope there is more. There definitely should be. I would love to have more of Meira and Sir and all of the Winterians.

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