Jun 24, 2016

Boldly Bookish Tour

It's end of the BOLDLY BOOKISH 2 Blog Tour, but you still can win! Thanks for following the tour! Tara Altebrando is here to talk about the top 10 things she can't live without.

10 things you can’t live without

MY SODA STREAM MACHINE:  I know it’s ridiculous, but we call water “flat water” in our house. I’m a seltzer addict through and through.

ALMAY TRUFFLE KISS LIP GLOSS: I admit I sometimes find myself applying lip gloss at really dumb times, when no one is going to notice or care. Like when I AM HOME ALONE. But I care! 

I’ve had flings with many a lip gloss in my day, but ALMAY Truffle Kiss has proven itself to be my one true love. Right now I have one in the kitchen junk drawer, one in my purse, another in my jacket pocket, one in my travel toiletry bag, and a backup unopened one for when I run out in any of the other locations.

BOOTS: I like spring and summer okay, but I definitely mourn the end of boot season every year and rejoice when fall comes and I can get back to stomping around in chunky-heeled black leather boots.

SPOTIFY: I’m all over the place with music in general but especially when I’m writing. I want to be able to jump from INXS to the Sing Street soundtrack to old Sloan or Replacements and then back to, no, not Taylor Swift because she’s not on Spotify but you get the idea. Spotify has made hopping around like that so very easy. I’m old enough that I still have a stack of LPs right over there on that shelf, and leather books full of CDS in that drawer down there, but they’re mostly collecting dust.

OLD PHOTOS: From where I’m typing right now I can see a photo of my late mother holding me when I was a baby, a photo of my parents on their wedding day, a picture of my husband and I the day we got engaged, and a photo of my 8 year old when she was maybe a year old. I have albums upon albums of pictures from my childhood and also bundles of older photos of my ancestors. I think I have a bad memory in a lot of ways and I like having photographic evidence as reminders of events and people and LIFE.

QUEENS CUISINE: I’ve become spoiled as an adult because I live in Astoria, where you can eat amazing food from pretty much every nation in the world. Greek. Indian. Egyptian. French. Japanese. Middle-Eastern. Spanish. It’s all right here within a few blocks. I keep swearing that I’m going to learn how to make my own stuffed grape leaves but what’s the point when I can walk two blocks for them?

MY SUMMER HOUSE: Queens is awesome for many, many reasons (vibrant, diverse community; close to Manhattan; amazing food, as described above) but it is also crowded and, during the summer, very hot and stifling. A few years ago my husband and I took a leap and bought an old house in the Hudson Valley. It has a stream in the backyard that I can stare at and listen to for hours. We have a hammock! A fire pit! Rocking chairs! These are things you don’t really get in New York City. I’ve found that spending time there—staring at stars, bird watching, whatever—had grounded us as a family and as people.

CRIME DRAMAS: I watch maybe one hour of TV a night and it is almost always some kind of procedural crime drama. There are exceptions, seasonally, like for Game of Thrones and Walking Dead, but I come from a long line of Law and Order fans (The original is still the best!) and it’s the type of show I’m most drawn to. Currently on the DVD: Elementary, Blacklist, NCSI: LA, and, er, Hawaii Five-O. I’m not sure what it says about me that these kinds of shows help me unwind, but there you have it.

MY FAVORITE RING: I have a ring I wear on my right ring finger—a wide silver band—that I feel naked without. I take it off to shower and sleep and to do dishes—it fits nicely on this long thin piece of our paper towel holder by the sink—but otherwise it’s on my finger. I bought it in a little shop called My Sister’s Jewelry Box in Lavallette, NJ, the summer before my dad and his sister’s ended up selling my grandparents’ much beloved house there, so it had become MEANINGFUL in a way it wasn’t when I bought it. I thought I lost it once and I was a mess. I tore up the house until I found it.

MY FAVORITE HOODIE: I can be cold all year round. I pretty much live in a hoodie. This one happens to be a Mortal Instruments one I got at BEA a few years ago. It’s the perfect weight and softness.

Six were taken. Eleven years later, five come back--with no idea of where they've been.

Eleven years ago, six kindergarteners went missing without a trace. After all that time, the people left behind moved on, or tried to.

Until today. Today five of those kids return. They're sixteen, and they are . . . fine. Scarlett comes home and finds a mom she barely recognizes, and doesn't really recognize the person she's supposed to be, either. But she thinks she remembers Lucas. Lucas remembers Scarlett, too, except they're entirely unable to recall where they've been or what happened to them. Neither of them remember the sixth victim, Max. He doesn't come back. Everyone wants answers. Most of all Max's sister Avery, who needs to find her brother--dead or alive--and isn't buying this whole memory-loss story.


Tara Altebrando is the author of numerous books for young adult and middle-grade readers. Her upcoming book, THE LEAVING (Bloomsbury), is a YA thriller that received a starred PW review and is a Junior Library Guild selection. Her other YA novels include ROOMIES, coauthored with Sara Zarr; Dreamland Social Club (A Kirkus Reviews Best Books for Teens), The Best Night of (Your) Pathetic Life, What Happens Here, and The Pursuit of Happiness.

Tara is a Harvard graduate who lives in Queens, NY, with her husband and children.

Tour Schedule:
Week 1 ~ BREAK ME LIKE A PROMISE by Tiffany Schmidt

Week 2 ~ THE LONG GAME by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Week 3 ~ THE LEAVING by Tara Altebrando

1 set of the BOLDLY BOOKISH 2 Tour books (US Only)

Books include: Hold Me Like a Breath & Break Me Like A Promise by Tiffany Schmidt, The Fixer & The Long Game by Jennifer Lynn Barnes & The Leaving by Tara Altebrando

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Jun 23, 2016

Blog Tour: The Marked Girl by Lindsey Klingele

ETA: Apparently my carefully scheduled post was eaten. Sigh.

10 emotions you have when writing a book

1)      Curiosity. Ideas in general can come from everywhere – from conversation, from songs, from articles, from other books you’ve read, or from a combination of all these things. I like to think about what I see in the world that excites me, or what I wish I could tell people about, or what I wish existed. For instance, I recently wished that Taylor Swift’s Bad Blood music video was an epic television series with six seasons and a movie. So I wonder what that would look like, and then I get --

2)      Excited.  I always know The Idea from all of the other regular ideas because I won’t be able to stop thinking of it. It’ll keep me up at night. It’ll make me have to do the dishes twice because I was too busy thinking about The Idea to wash the dishes properly the first time and now all my bowls are still covered in leftover mac & cheese crust. From this emotion, it’s easy to slide right into--

3)      Dedicated. Or also, industrious. The first 50 pages of any new project generally go by the fastest for me because I’m still driven enough to get the idea down before it flies from my head. But I can’t get attached to this stage, because then I’m onto—

4)      Stuck. It happens. There’s no stopping it from happening. At some point, I run out of steam and the words don’t come as easily as they did at first. Maybe I second-guess a character or a plot point or even the whole Idea altogether. At this point, I can either move on to something else, or I can get—

5)      Determined. Because no project worth doing is easy, and if I’m still passionate about something, this is when I have to buckle down and finish the draft, no matter how many cups of coffee it takes. This usually pays off, because when I do finish a draft, I’m—

6)      Elated. This is the best. I wrote a book! Even if it’s not a good book, it at least exists in some form. This is when it’s time to celebrate, usually with chocolate! And just in time for revisions, or—

7)      Despair. Now I have to take that first draft and make it good. That is hard. Getting notes helps a lot. But sometimes notes can be tricky. Especially notes that point out a major problem in the draft that I didn’t see there and now I can’t un-see it and now I have to fix it. This is when it’s time to lay my head down against my desk and think about how I’m a terrible, no-good writer and anyone who says otherwise is a liar. This emotion is also accompanied with chocolate. But it is followed by—

8)      Gathering perspective (i.e. pretending I don’t care). Sometimes the only way to keep myself going after the despair stage is by reminding myself that while stories and writing are important, they are not the most important thing all the time. Family, friends, food, community, the fate of the world, and also television are also important. In the grand scheme of things, getting a sentence wrong isn’t the end of the world. I am zen. I can do my best, work hard, and tell myself that’s all that really matters…right?? Anyway, it usually pays off. The book gets done. And then there’s –

9)      Pride. Woo-hoo, I wrote and revised a book! It’s really done! Woo-hoo again!!! And now the book is being published? Time for—

10)   Excitement (redux)/worry/nervousness/joy/fear/etc. etc. I wrote a book and it’s out in the world and people might hate it! But also they might love it? Probably there will be both! That inspires a LOT of emotions, but it’s okay because at this point, I’ve earned them. And also more chocolate.

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away (Los Angeles)…

When Cedric, crowned prince of Caelum, and his fellow royal friends (including his betrothed, Kat) find themselves stranded in modern-day L.A. via a magical portal and an evil traitor named Malquin, all they want to do is get home to Caelum—soon. Then they meet Liv, a filmmaker foster girl who just wants to get out of the system and on with her life. As she and Cedric bond, they’ll discover that she’s more connected to his world than they ever could’ve imagined…and that finding home is no easy task…


Lindsey Klingele grew up in Western Michigan, where she read every book she could get her hands on. She eventually moved to Los Angeles (the real land of make believe) and worked as a writers' assistant for TV shows such as THE LYING GAME and TWISTED. She still loves living in LA, especially since it's home to great television shows, truly excellent cheeseburgers, and her pitbull, Bighead.

Tour Schedule:
Week 1:

Week 2:

3 Finished Copies of THE MARKED GIRL (US Only)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Jun 21, 2016

Spotlight: The Four Night Run by William Lashner

Welcome William Lashner to the Irish Banana Review! We're so excited to have you here to talk about your new book, THE FOUR NIGHT RUN!

1: Outside of crime-related fiction, what’s your favorite genre to read?
I read everything, history, biography, old moldy stuff, and a lot of science fiction, which was what I mainly read when I was a boy.  I’ve been really enjoying the work of Paolo Bacigalupi, especially his short stories.  A couple books that I’ve recently admired are BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME by Ta-Nehisi Coates and LIFE AND FATE by Vasily Grossman, which is simply one of the best novels I’ve ever read.

2: Did you always want to write?
Yes, from early on.  But I also always wanted to play baseball in the big leagues or lead guitar in a punk rock band and neither of those was going to happen.  The question was whether I could make living writing novels, and that’s been a rather shocking surprise.

3: How much of your experience as a prosecutor do you incorporate into your writing?

The same impulse that made me want to prosecute infuses all my writing.  Fiction has been described as a justice dealing machine, which I accept, and the great goal of the prosecutor is not to win but to do justice.  In everything I write, there is the pursuit of justice juxtaposed against everything that frustrates that same pursuit, which usually comes down to sex, money, and power.  As individuals, we all want justice, but we all want sex, money, and power more.  Right there is the conflict that exists in all my novels.

4: Do you have a particular method when you write (a time, a place, a pre-writing routine)?
Generally I just sit in my office and work and don’t show anything to anybody until the book is finished, but I did something different for THE FOUR-NIGHT RUN.  I wrote it in sections and sent the sections out to a few trusted friends as I finished them.  The only thing I asked my readers was not to give me any feedback or advice – I didn’t want comments, I just wanted to know what the process would feel like with someone looking over my shoulder as I worked.  What I discovered was that I was much more conscious about pacing, about keeping the scenes taut and the story moving, and especially about heightening the suspense.  With every word I wanted to delight my friends.  The little experiment, I think, made me a better writer and the book, I hope, is the proof.

5: How do you come up with new ideas for what to write?
I get tons of ideas – once you start looking for them they come in waves.  The question is always whether the idea is worth a year of thinking about and another year of writing.  I have a notebook of just new ideas that I’m working on, trying to map out a structure and build the right protagonist and antagonist for the story, which is harder to come up with than the idea itself.  I have one great idea that I’ve been working on for years, but I just can’t figure out the right bad guy and so it just sits there, moldering.  Too bad, because it could be really special if I could just nail that part of it.

6. Your protagonist's name is J.D. Scrbacek. Is his name significant to you?
The name is a take on one of my favorite old TV characters, Banacek, who in my estimation is right up there in the pantheon with Mannix.  That sounds like a law firm, doesn’t it?  Mannix and Banacek.  I fiddled with the name a bit and came up with Scrbacek, which I think looks really good on the page.  That seems to matter to me.  And the initials, well, this is very much a legal thriller, with a whole section about law school, and so J.D., which is the degree that lawyers get, seemed quite natural. 

7: Scrbacek is a really complex character. Did you find him difficult to develop?
Often, there is something surprising that comes out in the writing that gets me to the heart of a character.  For Scrbacek it was his smirk.  As soon as I gave it to him in the first chapter I wanted to wipe that smirk off his face and I spent the rest of the book doing just that.  But I also had a more personal connection to the character.  There was an old rabble rousing criminal lawyer I met in Chicago who was very much a model for Deloatch, the law professor, and I found his view of the law and the world quite seductive, even though he had done some shady things.  I almost succumbed to the old man’s charms, Scrbacek did, and when he did he started smirking.   

The Four-Night Run description:
"J.D. Scrbacek has just won the biggest trial of his career, but even as he crows to the press, his entire life blows sky-high. Was the bomb meant for him, or for his mobster client? In this seaside casino town where the tables run hot and the tensions run high, the odds say the attorney is a marked man.
Alone and on the run, Scrbacek flees into the city’s forgotten underbelly, a ruined corridor called Crapstown, where he is forced to confront the ghosts of his past, his present, and his future. Somewhere in the sordid stream of his own existence lie the answers he needs. But in order to emerge from the depths of Crapstown, Scrbacek must argue for his life before a jury of the forgotten and the damned. Is he lawyer enough to save his own skin?
From the bestselling author of The Barkeep comes a raucous tale of reckoning, racketeering, and revenge."

Lashner's bio:
William Lashner is the New York Times Bestselling creator of Victor Carl, who has been called by Booklist one of the mystery novel's "most compelling, most morally ambiguous characters." The Victor Carl novels, which have been translated into more than a dozen foreign languages and have been sold all across the globe, include BAGMEN, KILLER'S KISS, FALLS THE SHADOW, FATAL FLAW, and HOSTILE WITNESS. He is also the author of BLOOD AND BONE, THE ACCOUNTING, and, most recently, THE BARKEEP, which was a Digital Book World Number One Bestselling Ebook.

Lashner was a criminal prosecutor with the Department of Justice in Washington D.C. before quitting the law to write fulltime. A graduate of the New York University School of Law, as well as the Iowa Writers' Workshop, he lives with his wife and three children outside Philadelphia.

Jun 16, 2016

Blog Tour: Auto Focus by Lauren Gibaldi

10 emotions you have when writing a book

Writing a book is a rollercoaster. You literally experience all the feels from beginning to end. Let me explain, in inner monologue:

1. Excitement: Oh my gosh, I have this new book idea! It’s going to be so good. I’m so excited to write it.
2. Joy: This is going so well! I have so many ideas! I’ll finish this in no time. Writing is FUN!
3. Concern: Ugh, this scene is dragging. I don’t want to write it, and I don’t know where to go next. It’s okay, it’s okay, I can keep going.
4. Dread: Do I have to write today? This scene is honestly going nowhere. Let me take a day off. The story needs time to develop. Right?
5. Envy: I bet other authors aren’t experiencing writers block. I bet they write all the time. Their books are so much better than mine. 
6. Utter conviction: My book is doomed. Everyone will hate it. I’m a fraud of a writer. A FRAUD.
7. Hope: Oh, wait, this is kind of interesting. Let me write this scene and see where it leads.
9. Drive: Let me just get to the end. If I finish, I can hate it then. I can do it!

…aaaaand repeat for every book you write after. It’s not a one-time thing. The thing is, we all experience it, and we all make it through. It’s exhausting, definitely, but it’s so incredibly worth it. Because holding a finished copy of your book in your hands? Absolutely magical. 


It’s always been a loaded word for Maude. And when she is given a senior photography assignment—to create a portfolio that shows the meaning of family—she doesn’t quite know where to begin. But she knows one thing: without the story of her birth mother, who died when Maude was born, her project will be incomplete.

So Maude decides to visit her best friend, Treena, at college in Tallahassee, Florida, where Maude’s birth mother once lived. But when Maude arrives, she quickly discovers that Treena has changed. With a new boyfriend and a packed social calendar, Treena doesn’t seem to have time for Maude—or helping Maude in her search.

Enter Bennett, a cute guy who lives in Treena’s dorm. He understands Maude’s need to find her mother. And as Bennett helps Maude in her search, she starts to find that her mother’s past doesn’t have to define her own future.

Lauren Gibaldi has crafted a beautiful and timely coming-of-age story that poses the question: Is who we are determined at birth, or can we change as we grow?

Public librarian and author of THE NIGHT WE SAID YES, MATT'S STORY (a Night We Said Yes novella), and AUTOFOCUS (out 6/14/16), all with HarperTeen / HarperCollins. Fan of dinosaurs and cheesy jokes. And you.

Tour Schedule:
Week 1:

Week 2:


3 Finished Copies of AUTO FOCUS (US Only)

Jun 14, 2016

Blog Tour: And I Darken by Kiersten White

Top Ten YA Books That Use Genre to Tell True Stories

My favorite genres are the ones that use non-real-world elements, such as sci-fi, dystopian, fantasy, and historical fiction. When done right, it’s exactly those larger-than-life elements that tell the truest parts of the story. I wanted to examine how good people get to the point where they can commit atrocities in the name of their goals. Using a gender-swapped, notorious historical figure made an odd sort of sense. I could explore everything I wanted to, but on a grand, lavish scale. And even though And I Darken is set in the 1400s, the parallels to today’s political and cultural climate are inescapable. I hope it feels visceral and familiar, in spite of the centuries between us.

In that vein, I selected ten books I feel use their genre to tell the truest, most timely stories they can.

1–2. Alexandra Duncan’s SALVAGE and SOUND

Both of these books are sci-fi, set in the future where space travel and even colonization are a reality. SALVAGE explores a culture in which women are literally trapped and made weaker than men, and gracefully but honestly looks at one girl’s difficult path away from her polygamist space-cult. (It really is more nuanced than “polygamist space-cult” makes it sound, I promise.) SOUND, a companion novel about her adopted younger sister, looks at issues of slavery and corporate greed while flying around outer space and having adventures on one of Jupiter’s moons.
3–5. Melina Marchetta’s LUMATERE CHRONICLES

This series has PTSD, war crimes, sexual violence, refugees, politics, relationships, and responsibility to country over self, all with a smattering of magic subtle enough to make this read feel almost historical rather than fantastic. These are intense but beautiful books that don’t shy away from what decades of violence breed in entire generations of people.

6. Kristin Cashore’s BITTERBLUE

Bitterblue is also about a whole kingdom suffering from PTSD after the rule of a deranged, depraved, magically evil king. This book is entirely about how to heal and move on by openly engaging with your past rather than trying to hide from it. Another book in which heightened abilities and magic are by far the least important elements.


The author refers to this as a “syphilis fairy tale,” which I find perversely delightful. Though the royal court she focuses on never existed, it feels like historical fiction. Politics of power, the absurdity of monarchies, vulnerable women, and those same women coming together to subvert the systems of oppression around them makes for a fantastic read.


(Okay, okay, let’s all take a moment to sing the horribly cheesy theme song from the old movie adaptation of this book. And then I’ll remind you that the author was so embarrassed by the movie adaptation that he didn’t let them attach his name to it.) This book is gorgeous and brilliant on so many levels. The first half deals with the danger of losing your imagination. But the second half looks at how we can lose ourselves so deeply in fantasy that we actually lose ourselves.

9. David Levithan’s EVERY DAY

Levithan writes with such beautiful, gentle compassion. In this book, the main character, A, wakes up every day in a new body. Levithan uses that high-concept hook to allow his readers to experience multiple lives in a stunning exercise in grace and empathy.

10. Franny Billingsley’s CHIME

Apparently I like books that use magical elements to explore the nature of guilt and PTSD! Magical elements allow the stories to be framed in ways that keep dark, heavy themes in a way that is dislocated from reality, and therefore more palatable. Chime is set in a pseudo-English countryside where supernatural and fairy-tale creatures are a fact of life, Billingsley smartly confronts guilt, repressed memories, and the ways we fail to save those we love the most.

So: What are your favorite books that use magic, sci-fi, or history to tell stories that feel true?

CLAIM THE THRONE. Visit AndIDarken.com to order now!


And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, who’s expected to rule a nation, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.

But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.


KIERSTEN WHITE is the New York Times bestselling author of the Paranormalcy trilogy; the dark thrillers Mind Games and Perfect Lies; The Chaos of Stars; and Illusions of Fate. She also coauthored In the Shadows with Jim Di Bartolo. She lives with her family near the ocean in San Diego, which, in spite of its perfection, spurs her to dream of faraway places and even further away times. Visit Kiersten online at kierstenwhite.com and follow @kierstenwhite on Twitter.

AND I DARKEN Blog Tour Schedule
Monday, May 30th through Friday, July 8th (Mondays through Fridays)

Monday, May 30thIcey Books, Review
Tuesday, May 31stBookiemoji, Guest Post (Character Profiles)
Wednesday, June 1stSeeing Double in Neverland, Review
Thursday, June 2ndAlexa Loves Books, Playlist Post
Friday, June 3rdAwesome Book Nut, Review

Monday, June 6thJessabella Reads, Review
Tuesday, June 7thThe Eater of Books!, Top Five Roundup
Wednesday, June 8thAcross the Words, Review
Thursday, June 9thPandora’s Books, Sneak Peek for Book Two
Friday, June 10thTales of the Ravenous Reader, Review

Monday, June 13th: A Midsummer Night's Read, Review
Tuesday, June 14thThe Irish Banana Review, Top 10 Guest Post
Wednesday, June 15thStories & Sweeties, Review
Thursday, June 16thJenuine Cupcakes, Author Mystery Guest Post
Friday, June 17thThe Soul Sisters, Review

Monday, June 20thWinterhaven Books, Review
Tuesday, June 21stTwo Chicks on Books, Q&A (4-6 questions)
Wednesday: June 22ndThe Book Swarm, Review
Thursday, June 23rdRead. Sleep. Repeat., Top Five Fantasy Books Kiersten Loves to Re-Read
Friday, June 24thPlease Feed The Bookworm, Review

Monday, June 27thComfort Books, Review
Tuesday, June 28thFitshun, Q&A
Wednesday, June 29thAddicted Readers,Review
Thursday, June 30thLindsay Cummings, Movie Casting Post
Friday, July 1stRabid Reads, Review

Monday, July 4thReading Teen, Review
Tuesday, July 5thYA Bibliophile, Guest Post (Trip to Romania)
Wednesday, July 6thCarina’s Books, Review
Thursday, July 7thMundie Moms, Author Mystery Guest Post
Friday, July 8th:  My Friends Are Fiction, Surprise Post!
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