Sunday, May 24, 2015

Blog Tour: Sweet by Emmy Laybourne

Pop Culture commentary

Welcome to Day Four of my blog tour. I’m so delighted to be here on The Irish Banana! What a great name for a blog!

SWEET tells the story of the product launch of a new diet sweetener called Solu which turns out to be highly addictive. The high-profile, celebrity-studded launch takes place on a week-long luxury cruise. Laurel and Tom, two teens who, for very different reasons, are NOT taking the sweetener, find themselves out at sea amidst five hundred B-list celebrities, reality TV stars and wealthy playboys who become more and more desperate and depraved, willing to do anything to get more Solu.

Because SWEET crosses a couple of genres (Romance! Action! Horror!) and deals with some surprising issues (Body acceptance! Addiction! Celebrity!), I’ve decided to have 5 special blog posts on this tour, talking about the way SWEET plays within each type.

Today we’re going to talk about the Pop Culture aspect of the book.

My new novel SWEET takes place on a luxurious cruise ship loaded to the brim with B- list celebrities and reality TV stars.

They’ve all come aboard for a huge PR event - the launch of a new diet sweetener called Solu that makes you lose weight. It’s the “Solu Cruise To Lose” and our main character, Laurel, calls it “the most famous cruise since the Titanic.”

The celebrities are mingling with a couple hundred non-famous, regular-old rich people who can afford the hefty ticket price. Laurel has been brought on the cruise by her wealthy best friend, Vivika. While Vivika is definitely into partying with famous people like Sabbi Ribiero, a Brazilian heiress and the star of a reality show called Teens Of New York, Laurel is not really into it.

That is, until she meets Tom Fiorelli. Tom is a former child star. He was the star of a show called The Magnificent Andersons, and he’s known to all by his old nickname, “Baby Tom-Tom”. As you can imagine - he HATES this nickname!

It was really fun for me to write for Tom and Sabbi because back when I was an actor, I got to do some of the things they do in the book. I interviewed people and was interviewed. I got to work with hair and makeup people, who are the true MAGICIANS of the entertainment industry! And I even got to walk the red carpet! (It was surreal! It was for the movie Superstar. I was sure that none of the photographers would want to take my picture, but when I got up there, they all yelled, “Emmy! Emmy, over here!” I could barely keep a straight face!)

Another of my favorite characters is Rich Weller, the young publicity guru who was responsible for the concept of the cruise. He works incredibly hard to manage every aspect of the cruise’s publicity. I felt so bad for him when things started going so terribly wrong!

You see… Solu works! It makes all the passengers lose weight - the famous, the infamous and the un-famous. But it’s also highly, highly addictive. And soon the passengers will do anything to get their hands on it - and fame goes out the window. Because no one cares about fame when your life is on the line.

While SWEET is a bit of a media circus, I tried to present the celebrities in a very real way. That’s something I strive to do in all my books. I want the characters to feel truthful and to make decisions that feel realistic. After all, people are people, famous or not. I hope that readers will enjoy the little glimpse behind the scenes of the life of a celebrity that I’ve provided in SWEET - and then hang on for their lives as the book crashes into the insanity that takes over as the Solu becomes more and more scarce on board…

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Author Links/Info

Full Blog Tour Schedule
May 20-Fiktshun
May 26Ray Kay Books

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Blog Tour: Joyride by Anna Banks

           1. JOYRIDE is a completely different genre from your last series. Was it easier or harder writing a contemporary novel versus a paranormal/fantasy?

Surprisingly it was more difficult to write contemporary. In fantasy, I can create my own rules and my own boundaries, but writing in real life setting is somewhat restrictive—and so real that sometimes my heart ached for the characters. I can’t give my characters special powers to deal with obstacles—they have to find their own inner strength and gumption to come out on top. That was rewarding to write.

 2. JOYRIDE also deals with the very relevant issues of citizenship and deportation - what inspired you to write about these things and add them to Carly's story?

When I was a waitress, I used to work with some undocumented immigrants from Mexico. As I grew to know them, they shared with me their stories and struggles. Just getting in the US is amazingly difficult and dangerous, and you’re not safe once you get here. Families are separated all the time, depending on what circumstances surround the deportation.
Carly’s story came to because these undocumented immigrants I’d worked with? They were the most reliable, hard-working people I knew. I wondered what it would be like to be a teenager, caught between wanting to start your life but also wanting to stay loyal and true to family tradition. Family is important in this culture, and it’s not an easy thing to blow off everything one has been taught. And it shouldn’t be easy.

3. If you were on a roller derby team, who would you want on your team - Arden or Carly?

 Carly. Arden would probably not take any good shots because I’m a girl, but Carly would give me a run for my money, if not an elbow to the nose. Bloody noses make everything more interesting!

4. What was your favorite part about writing JOYRIDE?

 I loved writing about the pranks. It brought my characters a sort of relief in the book, and for me personally as the writer, it gave me a break from writing a book dealing with such serious issues, like racism, immigration, and human smuggling. Plus I wanted them to be a sort of Robin Hood meets Bonnie & Clyde, where they prank the rich in circumstances on behalf of the poor in circumstances.  I think no matter what, my funs expect me to be funny, and I hope I accomplished that for them in JOYRIDE with all the pranking. J

5. So now you've tackled mermaids and contemporary - what does Anna Banks have in store for readers next and when can we expect to have it in our hands?

I have an Egyptian YA Fantasy coming out next year called NEMESIS. Here’s what it’s about:
A Serubelan princess who possesses the power to create energy escapes her father, who wishes to weaponize it, only to be captured by Theoria, her father’s nemesis kingdom,  where she discovers that her powers could be used to fight a terrible plague.

I also have an adult romantic comedy coming out through Entangled called HOW TO LOSE A BACHELOR. It’s How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days meets The Bachelor Show. They have a past. She’ll do everything in her power to be voted off the show. He’ll never vote her off in a million years. The world is watching!

Thanks so much for having me! J If any of your readers would like a signed book mark or bookplate for JOYRIDE please email me at This off is open internationally. 

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Author Links/Info

Full Blog Tour Schedule

May 12- Xpresso Reads
May 13- WhoRU Blog
May 19-Fiktshun
May 27-Dana Square
May 29-Paper Riot
May 30-Mundie Moms

Thursday, May 21, 2015

#YAPARTY - 5/28/2015


#YAPARTY on Twitter!!!!


WHERE: Your couch, BEA, the mall, your bed ... anywhere you can access Twitter means you're at the party!

WHEN: May 28, 2015, 8-11 PM EST

Please tweet during those hours! But . . .

If you won't be around during that time, we recommend scheduling tweets using TweetDeck.

(ONLY entries during that time will count!)

A HUGE THANK YOU to the publishers, authors, and bloggers who provided the prize packages! See each one below.

(You must be 13 years old or older. This post and the prize packages are accurate as of 5-21-15, but are subject to change until the 11:00 PM EST on May 28, 2015. Notification will be done through Twitter. Prizes are not exchangeable. Winners will be notified by June 15, 2015 or sooner. Shipping will be done through the prize donors. You must contact the donor within 24 hours or another winner will be chosen.)

What are the rules you ask?

They're simple:

Follow your hosts of this event: @irish_banana @ReadingTeen @LizaWiemer on Twitter (mandatory)

Follow the PUBLISHER or AUTHOR and/or BLOGGER and tweet (information listed below for each prize)! It's seriously as easy as copy and paste the tweets! 

PRIZE #1-5: (USA Only)

BEA STUFFED TO THE BRIM Tote Bag of books donated by over 10 publishers!! You'll get at least 10 new HOT new novels and swag!

3 YA Prize Packages

1 MG Prize Package

1 NA/Adult Prize Package

Tweet: I joined the and follow the hosts. I hope to win one of 3 YA prize packages.

Tweet: I joined the and follow the hosts. I hope to win the MG prize package.

Tweet: I joined the and follow the hosts. I hope to win the NA/Adult prize package.

PRIZE #6-7: (USA Only)

ACOTAR GiveawayFrom Bloomsbury:


A copy of the finished book, an ACOTAR bookmark, temporary tattoo, and a mask!

Tweet: I joined the and follow @BloomsburyKids & the hosts. I hope to win the #ACOTAR prize package.


Finished copies of the Boldly Bookish books:

HOLD ME LIKE A BREATH by Tiffany Schmidt


LION HEART by A.C. Gaughen

THE DEVIL YOU KNOW by Trish Doller

Plus Boldly Bookish Swag!

Tweet: I joined the and follow @BloomsburyKids & the hosts. I hope to win the BOLDLY BOOKISH prize package

PRIZE #8: (USA Only)

From Little Brown @TheNovl

NOVLbox#NovlBox YA Package including awesome swag and . . .

Hello, Goodbye, and Everything In Between by Jennifer E. Smith

The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker (signed!)

Wolf By Wolf by Ryan Graudin

Drift And Dagger by Kendall Kulper

Not If I See You First by Eric Linstrom

I Crawl Through It by AS King

Tweet: I joined the & follow @TheNovl & the hosts. I hope to win a Little Brown mystery YA package! Info:



From Paper Lantern Lit: An e-copy of each title from The Studio OR an editorial review of 50 pages of a manuscript OR an editorial review of 15 pages of a plot outline.

Tweet: I joined the and follow & the hosts. I hope to win a 50 page manuscript review.


I joined the & follow & the hosts. Hope to win a 15 page plot outline editorial review.


I joined the & follow & the hosts. Hope to win an e-copy of each title from The Studio.

PRIZE #10: (USA Only)


From Spencer Hill Press and Spencer Hill Contemporary


Tweet: I joined the & follow @SHContemp & the hosts. I hope to win a six-book package!

PRIZE #11-12: (USA Only)

1b69a6d8a3b2f8183c33bb5ff595df76_400x400From Books of Wonder:

Two lucky winners will win a signed copy of your choice of any book. Value not to exceed $20.00

Tweet: I joined the & follow @BooksofWonder & the hosts. I hope to win a signed book of my choice!


From the hosts:

$10.00 Amazon Gift Card

Tweet: I joined the & follow the hosts. I hope to win a $10.00 Amazon Gift Card!

PRIZE #15: (USA/Canada Only)

From Alloy Entertainment:

photo (1)

FIVE (5) Fabulous Books:

REBEL WING by Tracy Banghart

IMITATION by Heather Hildenbrand

VICIOUS by Sara Shepard (signed copy)

THE HEIRESSES by Sara Shepard (signed copy)

THE BLONDE by Anna Godbersen (signed copy)

Tweet: I joined the & follow @alloyent & the hosts. I hope to win 5 fabulous novels!

PRIZE #16 (USA Only)

From author Martina Boone:

COMPULSION Prize Package: Compulsion for Reading T-shirt, signed hardcover, silver plated key necklace, & Compulsion & Persuasion trinket bookmarks

Tweet: I joined the #YAParty & follow @MartinaABoone & the hosts to win a COMPULSION prize package!

PRIZE #17 (USA Only)


From author M.G. Buehrlen:

A signed copy of THE 57 LIVES OF ALEX WAYFARE, a "Talk Nerdy to Me" sticker, bookmark, and a pair of Wayfarer sunglasses.

Tweet: I joined the #YAParty & follow @mgbuehrlen & the hosts to win a her novels!

PRIZE #18 (USA Only)

IMG_5049From Fiction Fare Bloggers Jaime & Erin Arkin: IMG_5048

A set of The Grisha Series by Leigh Bardugo with signed bookplates & lots of awesome swag, including a HUNGER GAMES T-shirt.

Tweet: I joined the #YAParty & follow @fictionfare & the hosts to win signed Leigh Bardugo's Grisha Series & swag!

IMG_3616PRIZE #19 (USA/Canada Only)

From Macmillan:

Graphic Novel Prize Package:

THIS ONE SUMMER by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki

LAST MAN 1 & 2 by Bastien Vivès, Michaël Sanlaville, Balak

EXQUISITE CORPSE by Penelope Bageu

THE SCULPTOR by Scott McCloud


Tweet: I joined the #YAParty & follow @MacKidsBooks & the hosts to win a Graphic Novel Prize Package & swag!

BraceletPRIZE #20 (USA Only)

From Swoony Boys Podcast Bloggers Meg Caristi & Kassiah Faul:

Custom designed bracelet with book charms - covers your choice!

Tweet: I joined the #YAParty & follow @SwoonyBoys & the hosts to win a custom book bracelet.

PRIZE #21 (USA Only)

From SimonTeen:

Mega prize package - 8 new YA titles and awesome swag

  • A PulseIt tote bag

  • A Zeroesstainless steel tumbler

  • The following galleys:

o Carolyn Lee Adams, Ruthless

o Erin Bow, The Scorpion Rules

o Ellen Hopkins, Traffick

o Shaun David Hutchinson (editor), Violent Ends

o Daniel Krauss, The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch

o Heather W. Petty, Lock & Mori

o Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan and Deborah Biancotti, Zeroes

o Suzanne Young, Hotel Ruby

Tweet: I joined the #YAParty & follow @SimonTeen & the hosts to win 8 new YA titles & swag!

PRIZE #22 (USA & Canada Only)


From author Gayle Rosengren:

A signed copy of WHAT THE MOON SAID; a Tee shirt; a bookmark; a refrigerator magnet; and a key chain or luggage tag; PLUS a signed advanced reader copy of COLD WAR ON MAPLEWOOD STREET.

Tweet: I joined the #YAParty & follow @GayleRosengren & the hosts to win her fabulous MG prize package.

PRIZE #23-24 (USA & Canada Only)

From PenguinRandomHouse:

2 mystery prize packages including some of the hottest YA titles!

Tweet: I joined the #YAParty & follow @PenguinTeen & the hosts to win 1 of 2 YA novel packages.

PRIZE #25 (USA Only)

IMG_1349From author Liza Wiemer:

Signed ARC of A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

22663633-1Signed Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen and "Unlock your hear and the rest is easy necklace."

Signed ARC of Hello? by Liza Wiemer and swag!

Tweet: I joined the #YAParty & follow @LizaWiemer & the hosts to win signed copies of ACOTAR, Saint Anything, & Hello?.

*All prizes subject to change up until the day of the #YAParty! Checkin frequently for updates. We may add more prizes up until the event and throughout!*

Thanks for joining us!!!!
~Liza, Andye, & Hannah

Monday, May 18, 2015

Review: Hold Me Like A Breath by Tiffany Schmidt

Title: Hold Me Like A Breath
Author: Tiffany Schmidt
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: 5.19.2015
Pages: 400
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Romance
Series: Once Upon A Crime Family #1
Source: ARC from publisher

Rating: 4 Stars

Summary (from Goodreads):
Penelope Landlow has grown up with the knowledge that almost anything can be bought or sold—including body parts. She’s the daughter of one of the three crime families that control the black market for organ transplants.

Penelope’s surrounded by all the suffocating privilege and protection her family can provide, but they can't protect her from the autoimmune disorder that causes her to bruise so easily.

And in her family's line of work no one can be safe forever.

All Penelope has ever wanted is freedom and independence. But when she’s caught in the crossfire as rival families scramble for prominence, she learns that her wishes come with casualties, that betrayal hurts worse than bruises, that love is a risk worth taking . . . and maybe she’s not as fragile as everyone thinks.

I have to admit I'm struggling with this book. I'm not sure what I expected when I started HOLD ME LIKE A BREATH, but it wasn't this. Tiffany Schmidt took me on a journey and I don't know if I want to commend her ... or shake her.

Let's go with what worked:
Pen. Penelope was such a fun character to read over all. Her growth and journey during this story is a thing of beauty. My heart ached for her when she was constantly wrapped in cotton to keep from breaking. Her frustration bled off the pages. I couldn't help but root for her.

Also? Schmidt has a beautiful way of writing that utterly captivates and enthralls a reader. I love when she puts a story to life.

What didn't work:
The romance. Pen's biggest flaw is how fast she switched from one guy to the next., especially after only knowing one for a handful of minutes. What's faster than insta-love?

Maybe I’m just sore the guy I was rooting for didn't win. Could be I have a case of sour grapes that tainted the love story aspect of this story for me and others will have no problem with it. Whatever it was, it didn’t work for me but it also didn’t detract from the inherent awesome of the overall story.

Regardless, it is still a book I don't regret reading. I think people are going to love it, and the world Schmidt crafts is one in the not-too-distant future that you can almost (scarily) see taking shape now. It's a compelling start to a new series.
Buy: Hold Me Like a Breath

Thursday, May 14, 2015

There's a GIF For That: Prep & Pack for #BEA15

Since the last two of these seemed to be a hit, I figured now that BEA is in less than 2 weeks, we needed a GIFs for BEA prepping and packing.

Like when you realize that BEA is in less than 2 weeks ....

But you still need to survive another full week of work ....

Oh, yeah, and you volunteered to work overtime because that means more money for BEA & NYC ....

.... except you don't get paid until after you return from BEA ....

You should probably start packing ....

No, really. Start packing ....

Or maybe you should go shopping ....

You have your schedule, right?

Yes, schedule. As in the one that tells you when all the drops are, signings are ....

You just realized you have 5 MUST HAVES in the same 30 minute block, didn't you?

We've all been there ....

You've got your hotel booked ....

And you have your roommates ....

But just because you've never met one of them in person doesn't mean they're crazy or anything ....

Wait - you did pack, right?

But inevitably you'll forget something ....

And have to buy it in NYC ....

Or realize you printed your color coded schedule in black & white ....

Or notice they changed the times on half of the signings you wanted to get to ....

But it's OK, because you've trained all year for this one event ....

You've got this ....

You still haven't packed yet, have you?

Really? You're taking books to a book convention where you will get more books?

Yeah, so am I .... 

Like this? Check out: 
There's a GIF For That: BEA Edition
There's a GIF For That: BookCon Edition

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Blog Tour & Giveaway: 5 to 1 by Holly Blodger

Character Dossier: Asha

Full Name: Asha Pitale
Birthdate: August 23, 2037
Age: 17
Birthplace: Koyanagar
Height: 5’2”
Weight:  115 lbs
Eyes:  Dark brown
Hair: Black, wavy
Marital Status: Engaged to be married in one week
Parents:  Nissim and Haiya Pitale (but I call them Baaba and Aai).
Siblings: None, but Susa has always been like a sister to me.
Current Residence:  In a fourth floor flat in Tower B of Koyanagar Heights. For now…
Greatest accomplishment:  Getting a perfect score on both my Calculus and Algebra finals this past March.
Greatest dream: To become an engineer somewhere far away like Australia or America.
Most valuable possession: A photo of Baaba and Aai on their wedding day. They looked so happy. Couples never look like that when they get married now. The girls always look disappointed and the boys always look terrified.
Strengths:  Numbers. I’ve been able to do sums in my head since I was a child. I used to tell Susa that I was going to pick Mathematics for my last test, but when it came time to announce it, I did not see the point. None of the boys left had any chance of figuring out a complicated equation. It would have been mean to embarrass them like that.
Weaknesses:  Aai says I have a quick temper. I can’t help it. Everything about Koyanagar makes me angry, especially the leaders.
Fears: Being stuck in Koyanagar for the rest of my life.
Happiest Memory:  When Tanu told me that he would follow me to the end of the Earth.
Saddest Memory: When Aai told me she and Baaba wanted me to leave them forever.
Biggest regret: Not trying harder to make Susa see what her nani is like. I know she loves her and respects her, but that doesn’t mean she should be blind to her lies.

Character Dossier: Nani

Full Name:  Arpana Mehra
Birthdate: May 12, 1998
Age:  56
Birthplace: Mumbai, India
Height: 5’ 1”
Weight: 135 lbs
Eyes:  Brown
Hair: White/grey
Marital Status:  (Happily) Widowed
Parents:  Deceased
Siblings: One sister (Yasmin) who reminds me that she is older every single day
Current Residence:  Penthouse flat in Tower B of Koyanagar Heights
Greatest accomplishment: Coming up with the Love Your Daughters campaign. This was really what made the people of Koyanagar want to separate from India. They merely had to look at Surina’s face and they knew it was the right thing to do.
Greatest dream: To be President of Koyanagar. Yasmin thinks she will be next. Perhaps she will be. She has always had everything handed to her—a wealthy husband, Papa’s love. She never has to work for things or get her hands dirty, but she will not be a good President if this does not change. Being a leader means making hard decisions. I’m not afraid of that.
Most valuable possession: Koyanagar Registry. There is a backup copy in the State Council safe, but it does not have my notes in it.
Strengths:  I am very resourceful.
Weaknesses: Yasmin. She always finds a way to make me feel like I must obey her because I owe her for helping get Nalini and me off the street. It is a debt as deep as a well.
Fears: Men with power. They are too easily corrupted by it. That is why women must lead Koyanagar.
Happiest Memory: When Yasmin, Papa and I first moved to Powai. That was before Yasmin got married and moved to Koyanagar. Before Papa realized he hated me.
Saddest Memory:  When my sass told me that my first daughter had been stillborn. I knew she was lying. I’d heard the baby cry outside, right before she was murdered.

Biggest regret: That I didn’t run away from my husband sooner.


Sudasa doesn't want to be a wife and Kiran, a boy forced to compete in the test to become her husband, has other plans as well. Sudasa's family wants nothing more than for their daughter to do the right thing and pick a husband who will keep her comfortable--and caged. Kiran's family wants him to escape by failing the tests. As the tests advance, each thwarts the other until they slowly realize that they might want the same thing.

HOLLY BODGER has a BA in English Literature and has spent her entire career in publishing. She is an active member of RWA and is a 2013 Golden Heart finalist in the Young Adult category. She lives in Ottawa, Canada.

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