Oct 30, 2011

Review: Frail by Joan Frances Turner

Title: Frail
Author: Joan Frances Turner
Publisher:  Ace
Publication Date: 10.4.2011
Pages: 384
Genre: Horror
Series: Yes (Resurgam Trilogy #2)
Source: Finished copy provided by publisher

Rating: B+

Summary (from Goodreads):
Now that the Feeding Plague has swept through human and zombie societies, it seems like everyone is an "ex" these days. Ex-human. Ex- zombie. Except for Amy, that is. She's the only human survivor from her town-a frail. And if the feral dogs, the flesh-eating exes, and the elements don't get her, she just may discover how this all began. Because in this America, life is what you make it...

I really just didn’t think anything could shock me more than Dust (Book 1 in the trilogy), but I was clearly wrong. While Dust was told from a zombie’s point of view, Frail ups the ante on the horror by showing how humans have fared in Joan Frances Turner’s post zombie-apocalyptic world.

The story follows Amy, a frail (or regular human) as she tries to survive after an illness created a new breed of super humans/zombies that seem almost immortal. She bonds with Lisa, an ex who is struggling to hold onto her humanity.  Their friendship is anything but simple and easy, and it was fascinating to see them working together.

My biggest issue with this book was that I just didn’t connect with Amy, the narrator, the way I did with Jessie (narrator of Dust). Kind of odd since Jessie was a zombie, but I digress. I think the reason I connected more in book 1 is because the idea of a novel told entirely from the POV of a zombie was just so fresh and radical, I couldn’t help but love it. The perspective of a human seemed somewhat dull in comparison.

This series is unique and fresh, and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. I recommend you check it out if you love horror, can stomach some unpleasant imagery (‘cause there’s a whole lot of that!), and are looking for a break in the storybook romances the YA genre is drowning in. This book is about fight and survival, and I cannot wait to see what Turner brings in book 3!

Buy: Amazon

Oct 29, 2011

In My Mailbox (12)

Hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren, this is a great way to share the reads I got this week by purchasing, trading/swapping, or for review. All links lead to Goodreads. I usually only post one IMM a month, but this haul was too awesome not to share!

For Review:
Many thanks to Little, Brown; HarperCollins; and Sourcebooks!

Oct 27, 2011

Review: Dust by Joan Frances Turner

Title: Dust
Author: Joan Frances Turner
Publisher:  Ace
Publication Date: 9.7.2010
Pages: 384
Genre: Horror
Series: Yes (Dust #1)
Source: Finished copy from publisher

Rating: B+

Summary (from Goodreads):
Nine years ago, Jessie had a family. Now, she has a gang.

Nine years ago, Jessie was a vegetarian. Now, she eats very fresh meat.

Nine years ago, Jessie was in a car crash and died. Nine years ago, Jessie was human.

Now, she’s not.

After she was buried, Jessie awoke and tore through the earth to arise, reborn, as a zombie. Jessie’s gang is the Fly-by-Nights. She loves the ancient, skeletal Florian and his memories of time gone by. She’s in love with Joe, a maggot-infested corpse. They fight, hunt, dance together as one—something humans can never understand. There are dark places humans have learned to avoid, lest they run into the zombie gangs.

But now, Jessie and the Fly-by-Nights have seen new creatures in the woods—things not human and not zombie. A strange new illness has flamed up out of nowhere, causing the undeads to become more alive and the living to exist on the brink of death. As bits and pieces of the truth fall around Jessie, like the flesh off her bones, she’ll have to choose between looking away or staring down the madness—and hanging onto everything she has come to know as life

Maggots, rotting flesh and zombies? Sounds like a truly grotesque combination, but not so much in this originally crafted novel by Joan Frances Turner. While there are some truly gross moments (there’s maggots, OK?), I love this completely unique approach. Turner actually humanized zombies, something I never, ever considered.

Jessie fascinated me. I loved reading about the world through her eyes, and how her life changed since becoming undead. I enjoyed reading about the community that her gang had created, and all the people, uh, zombies in it. The book lagged a bit in places, but I still enjoyed reading this nonetheless. I love reading anything than can give me a fresh take on an idea I had long-since stereotyped.

This book is NOT for the squeamish. Some of the details are quite gory and disturbing, but I only thought that enhanced the overall novel. It gave a sense of realism to the book. I mean … it’s zombies. It’s not like they sit at the dinner table eating hamburgers; they eat raw meat. They kill and are constantly surrounded by death. It probably sounds a little crazy, but I loved that. I felt like it took a serious amount of commitment on Turner’s part to not water this down and gloss over the less pretty aspects of being undead.

Buy: Amazon

Oct 26, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (16)

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

Under the Never Sky
by: Veronica Rossi
Here's the Goodreads blurb:
Since she’d been on the outside, she’d survived an Aether storm, she’d had a knife held to her throat, and she’d seen men murdered. This was worse.

Exiled from her home, the enclosed city of Reverie, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland—known as The Death Shop—are slim. If the cannibals don’t get her, the violent, electrified energy storms will. She’s been taught that the very air she breathes can kill her. Then Aria meets an Outsider named Perry. He’s wild—a savage—and her only hope of staying alive.

A hunter for his tribe in a merciless landscape, Perry views Aria as sheltered and fragile—everything he would expect from a Dweller. But he needs Aria’s help too; she alone holds the key to his redemption. Opposites in nearly every way, Aria and Perry must accept each other to survive. Their unlikely alliance forges a bond that will determine the fate of all who live under the never sky.

In her enthralling debut, Veronica Rossi sends readers on an unforgettable adventure set in a world brimming with harshness and beauty.

Why I need to read this one:
I cannot get enough of dystopians and this one will be a welcome addition to the genre. I can't describe it, but I just get a good vibe from this one. I cannot wait to read about Aria and Perry and their adventures in this post-apocalytpic world that debut author Veronica Rossi has crafted.
Under the Never Sky will be released 1.3.2012 by HarperCollins

Review: Dark Eden by Patrick Carman

Title: Dark Eden
Author: Patrick Carman
Publisher:  HarperCollins Children’s Books
Publication Date: 11.1.11
Pages: 336
Genre: Horror
Series: No
Source: ARC from publisher

Rating: B+

Summary (from Amazon):
Fifteen-year-old Will Besting is sent by his doctor to Fort Eden, an institution meant to help patients suffering from crippling phobias. Once there, Will and six other teenagers take turns in mysterious fear chambers and confront their worst nightmares—with the help of the group facilitator, Rainsford, an enigmatic guide. When the patients emerge from the chamber, they feel emboldened by the previous night's experiences. But each person soon discovers strange, unexplained aches and pains. . . . What is really happening to the seven teens trapped in this dark Eden?

This book could not have been read (for me) at a more opportune time. With Halloween right around the corner, this book is filled with terror, thrills, and chills. I am a horror-fan, so this book was right up my alley. Patrick Carman did a fantastic job. The way he wrote this novel pulled me in from the very beginning.

The story follows Will Besting, who has been seeing a therapist for a while to deal with his incessant fears, but it doesn’t seem to be helping. In a radical (but clearly calculated) maneuver, the therapist suggests he go away, with six other teens, to help Will get better by confronting their worst fears. What happens next is equal parts thrilling, horrifying, and incredible. I hate to say much more for fear of divulging too much. And while it started a little slow for my tastes, it quickly took off and I became engrossed in the story and finding out what would happen to Will.

What I will say is that this is an excellent cast. I love ensemble novels, and while the novel is told from Will’s perspective, you get a great sense of the six other teens. With a cast this diverse, the reader can easily find someone to identify with. There are hints of romance, but nothing solid. If you’re looking for a romance, this isn’t your book. If you’re looking to be scared and freak every time you hear a creak in the house? This is your book.

When I was first approached about reviewing this book, I was initially intrigued by the bonus content as opposed to the actual story (but I came to enjoy the story itself quite a lot). This book is so much more than just a story; there’s an entire website, smart phone app, and so much more that plays along to enhance the story. It made reading the novel an experience that I could actually, physically, get into. I cannot begin to tell you how much fun that was.

Buy: Amazon

Oct 24, 2011

Review: Epic Fail by Claire LaZebnik

Title: Epic Fail
Author: Claire LaZebnik
Publisher:  HarperTeen
Publication Date: 8.2.2011
Pages: 288
Genre: Contemporary, Remake
Series: No
Source: Purchased from Amazon.com

Rating: B+

Summary (from Goodreads):
Will Elise’s love life be an epic win or an epic fail?

At Coral Tree Prep in Los Angeles, who your parents are can make or break you. Case in point:
As the son of Hollywood royalty, Derek Edwards is pretty much prince of the school—not that he deigns to acknowledge many of his loyal subjects.

As the daughter of the new principal, Elise Benton isn’t exactly on everyone’s must-sit-next-to-at-lunch list.

When Elise’s beautiful sister catches the eye of the prince’s best friend, Elise gets to spend a lot of time with Derek, making her the envy of every girl on campus. Except she refuses to fall for any of his rare smiles and instead warms up to his enemy, the surprisingly charming social outcast Webster Grant. But in this hilarious tale of fitting in and flirting, not all snubs are undeserved, not all celebrity brats are bratty, and pride and prejudice can get in the way of true love for only so long.

Finally, a reworking of Pride and Prejudice that would make Jane Austen proud! Claire LaZebnik created a vibrant cast, took Austen’s original novel, but then made the concept her own with a great modern twist. The ending result is fabulous and total entertainment.

I cannot get over how much I fell for Elise and Derek. Something about their connection simply jumped off the pages and grabbed me. Elise was simply awesome. She’s the type of girl I would have loved hanging out with in high school. And yes, while Derek is a bit standoffish and hard to read at times, that mystery only adds to his appeal. Their scenes together were a big part of what kept me reading—I could not wait to get to their next interaction.

If I find fault in anything about this novel it’s the way it sort of fizzled at the end. I felt like it dragged on a chapter or two more than necessary. I’m not sure what, if any, purpose the last few chapters added to the story. I thought maybe something else would happen, but it never materialized. I was left a little confused and let down by that.

Epic Fail is a fast, fun, and adorable read. It’s the kind of book you want to sink into in one sitting and not feel the least bit guilty about binging on after three straight hours.

Buy: Amazon

Oct 23, 2011

"Spooktacular" Giveaway Hop!

This giveaway hop is hosted by the aweomse people from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer & The Diary of A Bookworm. It will run from Oct. 24 - Oct. 31, 2011 (yes, I'm posting a little early). I'll choose the winner on Nov. 1, 2011. I had so much fun last time and met so many awesome people from a variety of countries, that I decided to make this one international as well.
The Prize:

You can win a book of your choice, up to $10 USD from:

if you live in the US,

if you live outside the US! That means this giveaway is international as long as The Book Depository ships free to you. Not sure? Check this list HERE.

The Rules:

1. Must be a public GFC follower (I will be checking!)
2. Have a valid address
3. The winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email announcing their win. After that, I will select another winner.

Bonus entries:
     +3 for replying to any of my reviews
     +2 tweet about this contest (must provide the link & include my handle: @irish_banana)

In My Mailbox (11)

Hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren, this is a great way to share the reads I got this week by purchasing, trading/swapping, or for review. All links lead to Goodreads. Since I haven't posted one in a bit, this covers the last month.
For Review:
Thanks to NAL, Penguin, HaperCollins, and Little, Brown.

Oct 19, 2011

Review: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Title: Shatter Me
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Publisher:  HarperTeen
Publication Date: 11.15.2011
Pages: 342          
Genre: Paranormal, Action, Dystopian
Series: Yes (Shatter Me #1)
Source: ARC swap

Rating: A+

Summary (from Goodreads):
Juliette hasn't touched anyone in exactly 264 days. The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal. As long as she doesn't hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don't fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war- and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she's exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

I typically hesitate when reading books that have been hyped up as much as this one. It seems Shatter Me is all anyone in the YA blogosphere can talk about, and I usually always feel let down when I get to it. I can say, though, with 100% certainty that this book does indeed live up to all the hype and rave reviews. In her electrifying debut, Tahereh Mafi has set the bar for dystopian novels and paranormal novels alike. With only a few months left in the year (I know, right?!), this will probably go down as my favorite pick of 2011.

Juliette is incredible. Not only are her gifts astounding, but after being constantly beaten down by society and her family for years, she still hasn’t let their hatred of the different ruin her. She’s beautiful and an exceptional heroine that refuses to admit defeat. I love how broken her perception is. Mafi tells her story in almost fragmented sentences that gradually build into these perfect passages that let the reader know exactly how Juliette is feeling. And don’t even get me started on the imagery used inside the book. It has been years since a writer was able to touch me so thoroughly with words and descriptions. Mafi has this incredible gift of piecing words together. I am awed by her abilities.

The romance between Juliette and Adam had me hooked from their first meeting. Adam is, simply put, the ideal guy. He’s loyal, protective, caring, and sexy as hell. What more could a girl ask for? Their scenes sizzle on the pages, and their connection is visceral. I could not get enough of these two.

I almost went into this book expecting disappointment. Surely it couldn’t be that amazing, but I was happily proved wrong on so many levels. I have never been so giddy to have my preconceptions of a book shattered. Anything Tahereh Mafi writes I will gratefully read. She’s an amazing storyteller and has a huge career ahead of her. Pre-order this book now.

Buy: Amazon

Oct 12, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (15)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine. This allows people to showcase the books they cannot wait to get their hands on!

This week my pick is....
The Way We Fall
by Jill Hathway

Goodreads Blurb:
When a deadly virus begins to sweep through sixteen-year-old Kaelyn’s community, the government quarantines her island—no one can leave, and no one can come back.
Those still healthy must fight for dwindling supplies, or lose all chance of survival. As everything familiar comes crashing down, Kaelyn joins forces with a former rival and discovers a new love in the midst of heartbreak. When the virus starts to rob her of friends and family, she clings to the belief that there must be a way to save the people she holds dearest.
Because how will she go on if there isn't?

Why I want it:
I love apocalytpic books/movies/shows. Seriously. I have this huge fascination with things ending, and how people will rebuild or cope. There's something about breaking a civilzation down to its base and starting over that really intrigues me. This looks like it'll be a great thriller to curl up with this winter!

The Way We Fall will be released 1.24.2012 from Disney-Hyperion

Review: Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Title:  Lola and the Boy Next Door
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Publisher:  Dutton
Publication Date: 9.29.2011
Pages: 338
Genre: Contemporary
Series: No (Companion to Anna and the French Kiss)
Source: Purchased Hardcover

Rating: A-

Summary (from Goodreads):
Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit -- more sparkly, more fun, more wild -- the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.

When Cricket -- a gifted inventor -- steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door

After reading Anna and the French Kiss earlier this year, I fell in love with Stephanie Perkins. I love the way she could tell a story and put me right there in the middle of it with a cast of vibrant characters I would love to befriend. Thankfully, she retained that gift of telling a heart-warming tale of a girl falling in love in Lola and the Boy Next Door.

It’s so hard for me not to make comparisons between both of Perkins’ books, but I’m going to try. At first I found Lola somewhat irritating. The way she blatantly ignored the fact that her boyfriend, Max, was a tool to everyone else got under my skin like you wouldn’t believe. When everyone tells you the guy isn’t as great as you think? You might wanna listen. Just saying. It didn’t take me long to love her, though. Her individuality is stunning to read and an inspiration to teenagers. I love that she made a resolution to wear something different every day, and that her clothing typically depicted exactly how she was feeling. I love that she wasn’t afraid to be different.

The story between her and Cricket is just … *sigh*. Literally. It gave me the dopiest, goofiest grin for the majority of the book. I just loved reading their scenes together. The whole supporting cast was plain fantabulous (fantastic + fabulous = fantabulous). From Lola’s two dads, to her crazy mother that occasionally made sense, to her best friend and even Calliope. This cast is as rich and colorful as Lola’s many wigs.

My only real complaint (if you even want to call it that), is that I didn’t feel the same magic in San Francisco that I felt Perkins captured in Paris with her debut novel. She made Paris a character in Anna and the French Kiss, and I just felt that connection with San Francisco lacking in this book. I wish I could’ve fallen in love with this city, too.

Basically, a good rule of thumb to live by is: If Stephanie Perkins writes it, read it. Buy it, own it, cherish it. Her books are little slices of heaven; a sweet escape from reality to a world where love really does conquer all.

Buy: Amazon

Oct 5, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (14)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine. This allows people to showcase the books they cannot wait to get their hands on!

This week my pick is....

by Jill Hathway

Goodreads Blurb:
Vee Bell is certain of one irrefutable truth—her sister’s friend Sophie didn’t kill herself. She was murdered.

Vee knows this because she was there. Everyone believes Vee is narcoleptic, but she doesn’t actually fall asleep during these episodes: When she passes out, she slides into somebody else’s mind and experiences the world through that person’s eyes. She’s slid into her sister as she cheated on a math test, into a teacher sneaking a drink before class. She learned the worst about a supposed “friend” when she slid into her during a school dance. But nothing could have prepared Vee for what happens one October night when she slides into the mind of someone holding a bloody knife, standing over Sophie’s slashed body.

Vee desperately wishes she could share her secret, but who would believe her? It sounds so crazy that she can’t bring herself to tell her best friend, Rollins, let alone the police. Even if she could confide in Rollins, he has been acting off lately, more distant, especially now that she’s been spending more time with Zane.

Enmeshed in a terrifying web of secrets, lies, and danger and with no one to turn to, Vee must find a way to unmask the killer before he or she strikes again.

Why I want it:
A mystery with a paranormal twist I haven't encountered yet? Yes, please! Sign me up for that! This book seems very tantalizing: from the awesome packaging to the original plot, everything about it calls to me.

Slide will be released 3.27.2012 from Balzer + Bray

Giveaway: Eyes in the Mirror by Julia Mayer

Want to win your own copy of Eyes in the Mirror by Julia Mayer? Sourcebooks is letting me giveaway 3 copies to some lucky people!

There are only 3 rules:
1. The winners must live in the US (I'm not shipping these books, the publisher is)
2. You must reply to my review of Eyes in the Mirror
3. Fill out the form!

You can get a bonus entry by replying to my interview with Julia Mayer

Have fun, and good luck! The giveaway will end Oct. 28, 2011!

Author Interview: Julia Mayer

I got the chance to interview Julia Mayer, author of the new YA novel, Eyes in the Mirror. Here's what she had to say about writing, inspiration, and what books she would need to survive on a deserted island:

The Irish Banana: What inspired you to write Eyes in the Mirror?
Julia Mayer: Eyes in the Mirror was originally a short story I wrote when I was about 12. The story started, as most of mine do, with a character that was knocking around my head. I tend to start weaving a story in mind and then can’t stop thinking about the story or its characters until it’s written down. The book that came from the story was inspired by a poster put up in my public high school (Bard High School Early College) for a novel writing program at 826NYC. I started the first chapter the night I saw the poster and from there the characters just took over.

TIB: What are the must-haves (i.e. drink, music, etc.) when you're writing?
JM: I do most of my writing long hand so the first must have is a spiral notebook and pen. I find physical writing to be so much easier and more satisfying than typing. I try to write outside as much as I can, usually someplace where I can hear people talking. I need noise around me when I write and I’ve struggled with writing realistic dialogue so I like to be somewhere I can hear people talking just to keep me in the spirit.

TIB: If you were stranded on an island with only 3 books, which books would you want?
JM: I would choose three vastly different books to avoid getting bored so I think I’d go with:
100 Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. This is my absolute favorite book- I’ve read it at least half a dozen times and enjoyed different parts of it each time.
The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoyevsky. This is another favorite- I’ve read it twice, once for a class, and once for fun and was completely engrossed both times but it’s pretty hefty, so I think if I was stranded on a desert island and had tons of time to read, I’d want to have it with me.
Sloppy Firsts, by Megan McCafferty. We started reading this book by flashlight in my bunk at camp during a blackout one year and my entire cabin devoured the whole series. It’s really different than the other two but it always makes me laugh, which is a fantastic break from the heftier reads.

TIB: What was your initial reaction at finding out you were going to be published?
JM: “Ballabadawah?” I originally wrote Eyes in the Mirror when I was 16 and got the publication phone call when I was 20. The book had almost completely fallen off my radar (besides as something I lent to friends occasionally) so I was shocked when I heard from my editor, Dan Ehrenhaft, that he wanted me to rewrite Eyes in the Mirror for publication. I think the next thing I thought was Wow, I’ve missed those characters; I can’t wait to see them again!

TIB: Any advice for aspiring writers?
JM: Put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard if that’s your preference) and see what comes out. It’s so important to keep in practice. Find people who you’re comfortable showing early drafts to- it’s a huge help to have other people giving multiple takes on your work. In my case, I had a writers group brought together through 826NYC and the notes from my group mates that summer range from “This doesn’t sound like this character” to a drawing of how angry one character made the other. All of it was helpful in different ways, and the book wouldn’t be the same without any of it.

Review: Eyes in the Mirror by Julia Mayer

Title: Eyes in the Mirror
Author: Julia Mayer
Publisher:  Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: 8.1.2011
Pages: 214
Series: No
Source: Finished copy for review from publisher

Rating: B-

Summary (from Goodreads):
Every teen girl fantasizes about having a double and best friend rolled into one-an alter ego with whom she can trade places, allowing her to disappear. Samara is a troubled and lonely adolescent, prone to cutting, who desperately craves both intimacy and escape from her unfulfilled life...until she meets her reflection, Dee, the seeming answer to all her problems.

With dual and dueling points of view, Eyes in the Mirror provides a perspective on one girl's life never before seen in YA fiction: her own and from her freer, wilder reflection.

When I was approached about reviewing Eyes in the Mirror, the initial description really grabbed me. Pairing that with the cover it was given, and I was all set for a good paranormal adventure. Reading the actual novel was somewhat of a disappointment on that front because the story is less paranormal and more realistic, but with a fantasy twist. Make sense? So, I suppose I should say that my disappointment didn’t come from Julia Mayer’s writing, but rather the way I thought this was proposed to me.

The novel is told from dual points of view—Dee and Samara, who eventually switch places in the mirror and experience the other half’s life. Both personalities are different enough that there is no confusing them (a blessing when the novel keeps shifting back and forth between them), and it was fascinating to see how each interpreted the same situation. Samara seemingly has it all on the surface, but is falling apart. Dee, on the other hand, comes from a family struggling financially, but has a great group of friends and a mom that loves her.

I felt the story kind of stalled in some places, but then shot forward out of a cannon at others. The cadence of it didn’t flow all the time, but the overall story was still entertaining and kept me interested. Some if the dialogue felt off and stilted, but it was something I eventually got used to. I cannot praise Mayer enough for addressing the issue of cutting. So few YA novels have the guts to tackle issues that many teens face. I felt this was especially important to me because I knew a cutter in high school.

While the premise and other parts of Eyes in the Mirror are far-fetched and unbelievable, it’s a good, fun escape-ish novel that I breezed through in an afternoon. I recommend you check it out for yourself. I highly doubt you’ll be sorry you did.

Oct 2, 2011

Book Swap!

I just added a new section to The Irish Banana Review!

I have a TON of books I need to clear off my shelves. While I'd love to keep them all, I need room for some new ones! If you're interested in swapping/trading with me, check out my post:


Review: Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan

Title: Glow
Author: Amy Kathleen Ryan
Publisher:  St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date: 9.27.2011
Pages: 307
Genre: Sci-Fi, Dystopian
Series: Yes (Sky Chasers #1)
Source: ARC from publisher for review

Rating: B+

Summary (from Goodreads):
What if you were bound for a new world, about to pledge your life to someone you'd been promised to since birth, and one unexpected violent attack made survival—not love—the issue?

Out in the murky nebula lurks an unseen enemy: the New Horizon. On its way to populate a distant planet in the wake of Earth's collapse, the ship's crew has been unable to conceive a generation to continue its mission. They need young girls desperately, or their zealous leader's efforts will fail. Onboard their sister ship, the Empyrean, the unsuspecting families don't know an attack is being mounted that could claim the most important among them...

Fifteen-year-old Waverly is part of the first generation to be successfully conceived in deep space; she was born on the Empyrean, and the large farming vessel is all she knows. Her concerns are those of any teenager—until Kieran Alden proposes to her. The handsome captain-to-be has everything Waverly could ever want in a husband, and with the pressure to start having children, everyone is sure he's the best choice. Except for Waverly, who wants more from life than marriage—and is secretly intrigued by the shy, darkly brilliant Seth.

But when the Empyrean faces sudden attack by their assumed allies, they quickly find out that the enemies aren't all from the outside.

I’ll be upfront and say that Sci-Fi novels usually aren’t my cup of tea, but there’s something about Glow that just drew me in from page 1. Maybe it’s because Amy Kathleen Ryan created a world so realistic, so visceral, that I couldn’t help myself. Maybe it’s because the characters are complex and the plot is powerful. It’s probably an electrifying combination of all of the above.

I loved Waverly as a character. When the girls are kidnapped, she becomes their leader as the oldest. They look to her, and she has the insight to not only realize something is very wrong with the way the girls were taken, but also the intelligence to know she has to play along while on board the New Horizon. She was a joy to read from start to finish. I loved her sections in the novel and was often fighting the urge to skip ahead and stay with her story instead of reading what was happening to those left behind on the Empyrean.

The other two leads, Kieran and Seth, were somewhat more … disturbing for me to read. I felt like Kieran was a weak leader, and he was very black and white. I also didn’t feel the chemistry between him and Waverly the way I did between Waverly and Seth. The problem with Seth is that I felt he went from shy, bad boy to crazy, psycho boy. I honestly have no idea who I’d prefer Waverly with—I feel Kieran is too wishy-washy and Seth is too unpredictable (and not in a fun way). I’m assuming that we’ll later learn more about their reasons for doing things in later books and that will help me make a better choice. But for this book, I didn’t really enjoy either.

The Sky Chasers series is definitely going to be big. You can tell that from reading the blurb. It’s futuristic, it’s dramatic and it’s insanely intense. While I don’t usually like to be as in the dark as I feel with this book, sometimes it’s good not to know where the story (and characters) are going. There were several plot twists in this book that left me breathless. I can’t wait to see what Ryan has in store for the rest of the series.