May 30, 2012

Review: Keep Holding On by Susane Colasanti

Title: Keep Holding On
Author: Susane Colasanti
Publisher:  Viking Juvenile
Publication Date: 5.31.2012
Pages: 224
Genre: Contemporary
Series: No
Source: ARC from swap

Rating: B+

Summary (from Goodreads):
Noelle's life is all about survival. Even her best friend doesn't know how much she gets bullied, or the ways her mom neglects her. Noelle's kept so much about her life a secret for so long that when her longtime crush Julian Porter starts paying attention to her, she's terrified. Surely it's safer to stay hidden than to risk the pain of a broken heart. But when the antagonism of her classmates takes a dramatic turn, Noelle realizes it's time to stand up for herself--and for the love that keeps her holding on.

I know Susanne Colasanti is a favorite YA author, but I had never read one of her novels until now. And now I need to read the others to see if they’re this good. Keep Holding On is a great story that not only gives a sweet love story, but also exposes the dark side of high school—bullying.

What attracted me to this novel first was the idea of bullying. It’s such a prevalent issue; the media is saturated with stories about kids bullying other kids and the ramifications of those acts, but it doesn’t seem to be stopping. This is one issue where there can never be too much awareness. Putting it into fictional form may help a teen down the road, so I applaud Colasanti for tackling this subject.

My heart broke for Noelle over and over throughout the book. While I was never the target of bullying in school, reading about it in this way was enlightening. I cannot believe how needlessly cruel people can be, and watching Noelle react and then grow into a stronger person from it was fantastic. Even Noelle’s mother was horrible to her. This poor girl could never seem to catch a break, except when it came to Julian.

I have mixed feelings about Julian. While I’m all for Noelle having a love interest, Julian just felt off to me. I never really got behind them as a couple. There was something about him I didn’t like. Aside from Noelle, Sherae is the character I adored. Sherae is the ultimate best friend, but she’s dealing with her own trauma and issues. I wish there had been a better resolution to what happened with Sherae.

As a whole, this is a great novel. My own minor issues aside don’t detract from the important message this book conveys: Bullying is wrong and needs to be stopped. Colasanti does a great job shoving this hot topic into the light and making it something everyone can relate to.

May 24, 2012

Splash Into Summer Giveaway Hop!

This giveaway hop is hosted by the aweomse Kathy @ I Am A Reader, Not A Writer. It will run from May 25 - May 31, 2012. I'll choose the winner on June 1, 2012

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 any book of your choice, up to $15 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:

Must be a public GFC follower - I will be checking!

*Bonus entries:
+3 - Reply to any of my reviews

I will contact the winner via email and they will have 48 hours to reply to my email before another winner is chosen!

That's all you need! Oh, and fill out the form:

All done? Awesome! Now, keep on hopping: HOP LIST!

30 Days of Daemon Tour: Couples Questions - Part 4

Welcome to the 30 Days of Daemon tour! Here is the conclusion to the 4 part "Couples Questions" series! Couples Questions is based off a game show here in the UK. Katy and Daemon have each been asked questions about each other, then brought back together to hear each other’s answers.

For the other segments, stop by:

And here's the questions....!

Daemon, what is your favourite subject at school?Does annoying Kat count?
We asked Katy what gift you would be most likely to buy her, what would you choose?I’d get her something book related—maybe a new Kindle.
If you could have one wish granted, what would that be?For my family to be together. 
We asked Katy what you would say your favourite thing about her is. What would you pick?I don’t think it would be appropriate to tell what I really, really like, but if I have to keep this PC, I’ll go with her stubbornness. It’s cute.
And finally, if you could have superpowers for one day only, what would you choose and what would you do with them?Turn back time and save Dawson.
Okay, I think we can deduce that you both know each other preeeetttttyy well. In fact, I think I’d go so far as to say you’re made for each other!
Thank you both for being on the show, and thanks everyone who watched tonight. I’ve been your host Carl Blackwood, tune in next week for another edition of Couples Questions!

May 23, 2012

Penguin Goodie Bag GIVEAWAY!

Not able to go to BEA this year, but want a taste of the action? Going to BEA, but want a fantastic prize anyway? Penguin has given me a goodie bag of gifts to give away to one lucky follower!

And the prize is....

A Penguin tote bag with:
1 copy of Veronica Wolff’s ISLE OF NIGHT
1 copy of Mari Mancusi’s BOYS THAT BITE
1 copy of Lev Grossman’s The Magician King
1 ARC of THE FARM by Emily McKay
Bookmarks for Rachel Caine’s BITE CLUB and Veronica Wolff’s VAMPIRE’S KISS and other cool swag, including a YA sampler.

Want to know how to win?

Simple! Be a follower of The Irish Banana Review and leave me a comment here with your email address!

*US Only - Contest ends June 5, 2012*

May 22, 2012

Review: When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle

Title: When You Were Mine
Author: Rebecca Serle
Publisher:  Simon Pulse
Publication Date: 5.1.2012
Pages: 334
Genre: Contemporary, Retelling
Series: No
Source: ARC from publisher

Rating: B

Summary (from Goodreads):
Rosaline knows that she and Rob are destined to be together. Rose has been waiting for years for Rob to kiss her—and when he finally does, it’s perfect. But then Juliet moves back to town. Juliet, who used to be Rose’s best friend. Juliet, who now inexplicably hates her. Juliet, who is gorgeous, vindictive, and a little bit crazy… and who has set her sights on Rob. He doesn’t even stand a chance.

Rose is devastated over losing Rob to Juliet. This is not how the story was supposed to go. And when rumors start swirling about Juliet’s instability, her neediness, and her threats of suicide, Rose starts to fear not only for Rob’s heart, but also for his life. Because Shakespeare may have gotten the story wrong, but we all still know how it ends…

While everyone knows the history of Romeo and Juliet, few people ever focused on Rosaline, Romeo’s ex barely mentioned in the beginning of the play. I adore the idea that Rebecca Serle came up with—modernizing one of the most infamous love stories, and then adding the twist that it’s from Rosaline’s perspective? Genius.

I enjoyed Rosaline from the beginning, and I love that she and Rob grew up as friends but are in that awkward transitional stage that most coed friendships finally culminate to: the “Should we try being a couple or just stay friends?” Of course this is where Juliet enters, and I’m sure you can connect the dots as to what happens next.

While I thought Rosaline was a great character, I grew more and more irritated with Rob (Romeo) as things progressed to the point of me not even wanting him to be with Rosaline anymore. I would have liked to have seen a bit more of Juliet, because I never really felt a connection to her. There is, however, one of the best supporting casts I’ve read in a novel here. Serle does a wonderful job of not making this book only about 3 characters—she throws in others (like Len and Olivia) that really flesh out the story.

I adore the idea that Serle came up with. I am a huge fan of telling a much beloved story from a different perspective, and I felt like Serle did a great job. I can’t say there were any jaw-dropping moments that blew me away, and occasionally I felt like the story dragged a bit, but overall this was a good book that I think teens will enjoy.

May 20, 2012

Trailer: The Last Princess by Galaxy Craze

I have this book sitting on my shelf now to be read, and it's half as cool as the trailer, it will be EPIC!

The Last Princess
by: Galaxy Craze

A series of natural disasters has decimated the earth. Cut off from the rest of the world, England is a dark place. The sun rarely shines, food is scarce, and groups of criminals roam the woods, searching for prey. The people are growing restless.

When a ruthless revolutionary sets out to overthrow the crown, he makes the royal family his first target. Blood is shed in Buckingham Palace, and only sixteen-year-old Princess Eliza manages to escape.

Determined to kill the man who destroyed her family, Eliza joins the enemy forces in disguise. She has nothing left to live for but revenge, until she meets someone who helps her remember how to hope—and to love—once more. Now she must risk everything to ensure that she not become... The Last Princess.

Review: The Calling by Kelley Armstong

Title: The Calling
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Publisher:  HarperTeen
Publication Date: 4.10.2012
Pages: 326
Genre: Paranormal
Series: Yes (Darkness Rising #2)
Source: ARC from publisher

Rating: B-

Summary (from Goodreads):
Maya and her friends--all of whom have supernatural powers--have been kidnapped after fleeing from a forest fire they suspect was deliberately set, and after a terrifying helicopter crash they find themselves pursued by evildoers in the Vancouver Island wilderness.

I was so excited to read The Calling, a follow up to The Gathering. I love that The Calling jumps in right where book 1 left off. No time has passed, therefore there’s no three page summary of what we missed while we were away (I really dislike those). The reader is immediately thrown back into the action and drama.

Kelley Armstrong does a great job of keeping the story moving. The Calling hits the ground running and doesn’t stop. More happened in the first five chapters than happens in most books, almost to the point where it can be a little overwhelming. I also wasn’t very happy that one of my favorite characters from The Gathering is absent for most of the book, which I found unnecessary.

I love that a lot of back story and little details were unearthed that pulls the series together even more, but I feel like this was a “filler” book. It does what I’m finding a lot of second books do—they cover what happened in the past so things make more sense in the present, twist up a few more storylines for dramatic flair, and then ultimately leave with more questions than when you started.

While I will definitely be grabbing the last book in this series to see how it all plays out, this book really didn’t live up to the expectations I had after reading The Gathering. Armstrong is a great writer, as is evident in all her novels. She creates these amazing characters in these detailed, lush setting that can sweep you away. I’m hoping the final book in the trilogy makes up for this one.

PreOrder Fated & Get A Gift!

In celebration of Alyson Noël's new series, The Soul Seekers, the publisher is giving away a pair of earrings inspired by the book for people who preorder the first book, Fated.

For details check out the rules:

Preorder your copy! Amazon | The Book Depository

May 15, 2012

The Near Witch / Ash Born Boy News!

It's May 15th!

Not only does THE NEAR WITCH by Victoria Schwab come out in paperback TODAY, but, to celebrate its release, "The Ash-Born Boy" is finally up over at Disney*Hyperion's website!

So, what IS "The Ash-Born Boy"?

It's a free story Victoria wrote as a thank-you to her fans, and she wrote it to answer ONE question: "Who was Cole before he came to Near?"

Now, if you've already read THE NEAR WITCH, "The Ash-Born Boy" is guaranteed to change the way you see Cole. And if you haven't read THE NEAR WITCH yet, don't worry, "The Ash-Born Boy" won't spoil anything!

So basically, either way, you should go read Cole's story ;)

And if you want to wait and read THE NEAR WITCH first, don't worry! Cole's story will stay up on Disney*Hyperion's website, and if it ever comes down, Victoria will carve out a space for it on her own site. It will always be available somewhere, and it will always be free.


Cole's story isn't the only goodie to go along with the paperback release. In the back of the paperback itself, you'll find the first chapter of Victoria's new book, THE ARCHIVED, which doesn't come out until January! So what are you waiting for?

Help Victoria celebrate today by taking a look at "The Ash-Born Boy," and don't forget to buy/order/pick up your own paperback copy of THE NEAR WITCH!

May 10, 2012

Review: Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris

Title: Unraveling
Author: Elizabeth Norris
Publisher:  Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: 4.24.2012
Pages: 445
Genre: Paranormal, Aliens
Series: Yes (Unraveling #1)
Source: ARC from publisher

Rating: A

Summary (from Goodreads):
Two days before the start of her junior year, seventeen-year-old Janelle Tenner is hit by a pickup truck and killed—as in blinding light, scenes of her life flashing before her, and then nothing. Except the next thing she knows, she's opening her eyes to find Ben Michaels, a loner from her high school whom Janelle has never talked to, leaning over her. And even though it isn't possible, she knows—with every fiber of her being—that Ben has somehow brought her back to life.

But her revival, and Ben's possible role in it, is only the first of the puzzles that Janelle must solve. While snooping in her FBI agent father's files for clues about her accident, she uncovers a clock that seems to be counting down to something—but to what? And when someone close to Janelle is killed, she can no longer deny what's right in front of her: Everything that's happened—the accident, the murder, the countdown clock, Ben's sudden appearance in her life—points to the end of life as she knows it. And as the clock ticks down, she realizes that if she wants to put a stop to the end of the world, she's going to need to uncover Ben's secrets—and keep from falling in love with him in the process.

Unraveling is one of those amazing books I just fell in love with from the first page. Right from the start, Elizabeth Norris drew me in with her earnest, warm storytelling. I can’t remember the last time I fell so quick for a heroine.

Janelle is, plainly put, an extremely likeable girl. When weird things happen she questions them and goes after answers, but she also has the good sense to be afraid when it’s appropriate. So many YA heroines dismiss danger because of love, but Janelle pauses and that endeared her forever to me. I love that her family is fractured and broken because it makes her all the more human.

And what can I say about Ben? I rooted for them from the very beginning. There was something about Janelle and Ben that is reminiscent of Liz and Max (from Roswell—both the TV show and the book series). Their love was impossible, but visceral.

I’m not a huge SciFi fan, but this book kept me entertained the whole way through. The scientific aspects are very well explained (and dumbed down for science idiots like myself) and not hard to follow. The entire plot is wonderfully paced, never dragging or rushing. Norris did a fantastic job keeping everything moving, but still adding necessary details that made the story come alive.

I adored this book, and I’m sure you will, too. My only complaint is that there isn’t more of it, or that there won’t be more books because I was still left with a few questions. That minor annoyance aside, go and get this book. I highly doubt you’ll regret it.

ETA: I have now learned this is only book one and it's sequel will be out next year, this answering my unanswered questions and making all right in the world again. READ THIS BOOK.

Review: The Temptation by Alisa Valdes

Title: The Temptation
Author: Alisa Valdes
Publisher:  HarperTeen
Publication Date: 4.24.2012
Pages: 320
Genre: Paranormal
Series: Yes (Kindred #1)
Source: ARC from publisher

Rating: C

Summary (from Goodreads):
His touch was electric.
His eyes were magnetic.
His lips were a temptation....
But was he real?

After crashing her car on an empty highway, Shane is miraculously saved by Travis, a mysterious cowboy who walks out of nowhere. She is instantly attracted to him, and for the first time, she believes in “soul mates.” But Shane soon discovers that Travis is dead and that strict rules from the Underworld govern kindred spirits of different dimensions. Breaking these rules could destroy both their souls. And while Travis is almost impossible to resist, temptation proves to be the kindest enemy they encounter.

This is one of those books I wanted to love, but just fell flat for me. I could never get into it. From the beginning the story and characters felt forced. Alisa Valdes starts The Temptation out with a huge storm that I feel like I never found my way out of.

Let me also say, that I am finding I am not a huge fan of ghost stories. As in, where a ghost plays a central role. I’ve tried reading several and I can never connect with them. This book definitely slid into that category.

Shane was a weak narrator and, to me, had a very young voice. Travis, her love interest was all right, but I never felt any chemistry between them. It seemed like a quick insta-connection and those tend to leave a sour taste in my mouth.

Valdes has a great concept, but I just felt it got jumbled. Too much happened too quick and then stalled and then raced forward. It was very jerky, not fluid. I actually started skimming in later chapters to see if the end payoff was worth all the confusion and frustration. While it was a bit enlightening (hence why I’m giving this a C rating), I wasn’t moved by it. I still never felt that connection to the characters or story that would keep me invested.

I doubt I’ll pick up the rest of the series, but there are a lot of people who seemed to enjoy this story. Again, if you like ghostly tales, give it a go. Unfortunately I have found that I’m not a fan, and thus I didn’t really enjoy this one.

May 7, 2012

Book Blogger Confessions (8)

This is a shiny, new blogger meme co-hosted by Tiger from Tiger's All Consuming Books and Karen at For What It's Worth Reviews. It's time to open up and share (and vent) about our blogging experiences!

The question is:

May 7: Comments. The holy grail of blogging success! What type of posts do you leave comments on? How do you try to encourage more comments on your blog? Do you respond to people who leave comments on your posts? How do you handle negative/spam comments? Do you use captcha?

Honestly? I mostly comment on reviews and memes, and if it's a meme, it's one I'm participating in. I comment on reviews that strike my fancy. I also comment on the blogs of people who reply/comment to my reviews. If someone can take the time to comment on my reviews, I can do the same. When I host giveaways, I often award bonus entries for people when the comment on one of my reviews.

As far as negative comments, I don't think I've ever really had any. I've had a few spam comments, but I just delete those. It's not like I get spammed with spam.

Captcha irritates me. I'm less like to comment on someone's blog if they have captcha. Maybe it's laziness, but captcha just bothers me. I also have a hard time understanding it 80% of the time. I don't have it here. I turned it off a year ago and it would take a massive amount of spamming to get me to turn it back on.

May 6, 2012

BEA 2012 Info

It's that time of year when talk of BEA 2012 is blowing up everyone's Twitter feeds and dashboards. Everywhere I turn there seems to be a new post or mention of BEA ... and I totally love it since I will be attending! This time in 4 weeks I will be sound asleep since I have an early train to catch Monday morning. Here's a quick post about me:

Name: Hannah
Dates in NYC: June 4 (Monday) - June 8 (Friday)
Email:  (Email me if you want to set up a meeting! I'd love to meet some of the bloggers I've been chatting with the past year!)
Twitter: @irish_banana (I'll be tweeting frequently throughout the event, so be sure to follow me for updates/pics)

People I'm Planning to Stalk Meet:
Mariah @ FarEscape Reviews
Julia @ Rex Robot Reviews
Audrey @ Bibliosaurus Text
Liza @ Reading With ABC

Events Attending:
BEA - June 5-7
Teen Author Carnival - June 5

Things to check out:
BEA Forum - Goodreads
BEA 2012 Blog Feed
BEA Attendees Twitter List

Helpful Posts:
Lexie's BEA Post (Lexie's post pretty much has it all - from information to how to set up a BEA schedule)

Review: Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross

Title: Kill Me Softly
Author: Sarah Cross
Publisher:  EgmontUSA
Publication Date: 4.10.2012
Pages: 331
Genre: Fairytale remake
Series: No
Source: ARC from publisher

Rating: B+

Summary (from Goodreads):
Mirabelle's past is shrouded in secrecy, from her parents' tragic deaths to her guardians' half-truths about why she can't return to her birthplace, Beau Rivage. Desperate to see the town, Mira runs away a week before her sixteenth birthday—and discovers a world she never could have imagined.

In Beau Rivage, nothing is what it seems—the strangely pale girl with a morbid interest in apples, the obnoxious playboy who's a beast to everyone he meets, and the chivalrous guy who has a thing for damsels in distress. Here, fairy tales come to life, curses are awakened, and ancient stories are played out again and again.

But fairy tales aren't pretty things, and they don't always end in happily ever after. Mira has a role to play, a fairy tale destiny to embrace or resist. As she struggles to take control of her fate, Mira is drawn into the lives of two brothers with fairy tale curses of their own... brothers who share a dark secret. And she'll find that love, just like fairy tales, can have sharp edges and hidden thorns

I have adored fairytale since I was a little girl. I love the magic and the romance. When I heard about Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross I knew I had to get my hands on it. A reimagining of fairytale? Sounded like a YA version of “Once Upon A Time.” I am so glad I read it. This is a fun, delightful tale that fairytale fans should get ahold of.

Mirabelle is the main character, and I have to admit that I was somewhat irritated by her in the beginning. The way the sneaks off and some of her actions in the beginning were off putting. It took a little while before I was Team Mira, and even then I questioned some of her decisions. I’m also not a huge fan on insta-romances, which was what I felt like when it came to Mira and Felix. Honestly? I liked Blue much better.

Cross’ writing, though, makes up for the character flaws. I adore the way she words sentences. The very beginning set the mood for the story, making me feel like I was reading a fairytale. There is this incredible, one page introduction to the story that just swept me away. I fell in love with Cross’ writing in a single page – I can’t say that frequently about a book I’ve read. I also marveled at the way she intersected so many fairytales in one novel. Not only did she modernize them, but she kept it all from getting jumbled and confusing for people who might not be as … fanatical about fairytales as I am.

If you’re a fan of excellent writing, definitely grab this one. If you like fairytales? Grab this one. If you’re just in the mood for a good, original story? Yeah, grab this one.

Interview: Sarah Cross

I recently had the chance to interview Sarah Cross, author of Kill Me Softly (now in stores!) She's an awesome woman who adore fairytale as much as I do and also has a lot of book on her TBR list that I do.

1. Were you a big fan of fairy tales as a child? Which were your favorites?
I was! Hmm, favorites ... I liked "Cinderella" because the art was so pretty. I had a big book of Disney fairy tales, and "Cinderella" was illustrated by Mary Blair. Talk about gorgeous! And I was a big fan of the bad kid fairy tales, like "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" and "Jack and the Beanstalk." I guess I was less interested in happily-ever-afters at that age, and more interested in breaking into someone's house, busting up their furniture, eating their porridge, complaining about it, stealing their treasures and getting off scot-free. For the record, my favorites have changed since then.

2. Where did you get the idea for Kill Me Softly?
I had wanted to write a fairy tale novel for a long time, and there was one fairy tale in particular that I wanted to retell. It took me years to figure out how I wanted to retell it, and then one minor piece of the story clicked, and I started to build on that. I know that's really vague, but it's hard for me to talk about this book's inception without spoiling it. But if I look further back, I think the books that really got me interested in the idea of retelling fairy tales were Tanith Lee's Red as Blood, Anne Sexton's Transformations, Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber, Robert Coover's Briar Rose, and Spells of Enchantment edited by Jack Zipes, just because they opened up so many possibilities, and made me look at fairy tales in an entirely new way.

3. Describe Kill Me Softly in 10 words or less.
What if your life was like a fairy tale?

4. If you could rename your book, what would you pick?
I chose the title before I'd written a word of the actual book, so I can't imagine any other title except this one. It's been a part of the story for so long! I guess I'm lucky I got to keep it, because I didn't have a list of back-up titles ready.

5. What books are you most looking forward to reading in 2012?
Black Heart, the third book in Holly Black's Curse Workers series, which is a very imaginative retelling of the fairy tale "The White Cat." Diana Peterfreund's For Darkness Shows the Stars. Sarah Rees Brennan's Unspoken. Malinda Lo's Adaptation. Barry Lyga's I Hunt Killers. Grave Mercy by R.L. LaFevers. This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers.

6. Are you a book buyer or a book borrower?
Both, but I use the library a lot. I love libraries. Going to the library is like being sent into a store full of things you love, and being told, "You just won a shopping spree. Take anything you want. Take everything you can carry and bring it home." Sure, you have to return the books in a few weeks, but you can always check them out again.

7. What are your "must-haves" while writing?
Tea and my laptop. If I have those two things, I'm good.

8. What were your first thoughts when you saw the cover of Kill Me Softly?
The first cover I saw was just a comp, so it didn't have the font with the thorns and the vines, but I thought the bloody rose concept was really cool and fitting for the book. I had asked for something traditionally beautiful but also unsettling, and the designer definitely delivered. I also really liked that it had a "painting the roses red"/Alice in Wonderland feel to it. It said "fairy tale" to me in a modern way.

Thanks for having me, Hannah!

Fairytale art by Mary Blair:

May 2, 2012

Review: The Summer My Life Began by Shannon Greenland

Title: The Summer My Life Began
Author: Shannon Greenland
Publisher:  Speak
Publication Date: 5.10.2012
Pages: 250
Genre: Contemporary
Series: No
Source: ARC from publisher

Rating: B

Summary (from Goodreads):
Elizabeth Margaret—better known as Em—has always known what life would contain: an internship at her father’s firm, a degree from Harvard and a career as a lawyer. The only problem is that it’s not what she wants. When she gets the opportunity to get away from it all and spend a month with the aunt she never knew, she jumps at the chance. While there, Em pursues her secret dream of being a chef, and she also learns that her family has kept some significant secrets from her, too. And then there’s Cade, the laid-back local surfer boy who seems to be everything Em isn't. Naturally, she can’t resist him, and as their romance blossoms, Em feels she is living on her own terms for the first time.

This was a book I hadn’t heard of before it popped up in my mailbox, but I was pleasantly surprised by it. This book is the quintessential beach read. I kind of wish I had waiting a few months to be on the beach, letting the sun soak into my bones as I read this because I think that would have totally made the experience. As it is, Shannon Greenland has written a charming, simplistic tale of a girl finding herself (and love).

I wasn’t horribly taken with Em at first. She didn’t seem like a very strong character, but as the book progressed and I got into her head more, I started to enjoy her. Cade was by far my favorite. From the first second I read about him, I adored him. The relationship of Em and Cade is sweet; it isn’t mind-blowing fireworks, but it is still fun and enjoyable to read.

My only complaint is that the book felt a little too cliché at times. I didn’t feel like there wasn’t anything I hadn’t seen in a dozen or so other contemporaries. The details were different, but the end outcome was the same. Again, this would make for a great, lazy beach read.

The Summer My Life Began is cute, flirty, and light. Snag this one to take with you on your next vacation.

Review: Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock

Title: Hemlock
Author: Kathleen Peacock
Publisher:  HarperCollins
Publication Date: 5.8.2012
Pages: 400
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Werewolves
Series: Yes (Hemlock #1)
Source: ARC from publisher

Rating: A+

Summary (from Goodreads):
Mackenzie and Amy were best friends. Until Amy was brutally murdered.

Since then, Mac’s life has been turned upside down. She is being haunted by Amy in her dreams, and an extremist group called the Trackers has come to Mac’s hometown of Hemlock to hunt down Amy’s killer: A white werewolf.

Lupine syndrome—also known as the werewolf virus—is on the rise across the country. Many of the infected try to hide their symptoms, but bloodlust is not easy to control.

Wanting desperately to put an end to her nightmares, Mac decides to investigate Amy’s murder herself. She discovers secrets lurking in the shadows of Hemlock, secrets about Amy’s boyfriend, Jason, her good pal Kyle, and especially her late best friend. Mac is thrown into a maelstrom of violence and betrayal that puts her life at risk.

I’m a huge fan of the paranormal genre, especially when it has an element of romance thrown in for good measure. I did not, however, expect to fall so completely and utterly in love with this novel. Hemlock completely took me by surprise, forcing me to frantically flip through the pages until the wee hours of the morning so I could see how it all ended. Kathleen Peacock is a name you’re going to want to remember guys; she’s here to stay.

Mac is one of the best, most compelling heroines I’ve read. She’s strong and capable, tenacious and vibrant. She has this emotional vulnerability that makes me want to hug her as I cheered for her. And I loved the boys—Kyle and Jason are great in their own right. I waffled nearly the entire book over who I wanted Mac to end up with. Jason has the bad boy thing in spades, and even when he was being an ass I still adored him. Kyle stole my heart, though. He’s just … epic, for lack of a better word. While I saw the twist to the triangle coming, it didn’t detract from the story at all.

I absolutely love this spin on werewolves. Werewolves have sort of become the new vampire, and I felt the genre was growing stale for a while until I read this. I love the concept that Lupine syndrome is a known “disease” that the public acknowledges and tries to battle. Peacock creates a sense of fear in the community because of the Lupine syndrome that is palpable. Like with every disease, people fear what they don’t understand.

I cannot endorse this book enough. I’ve already preordered my copy, and I recommend you do the same. This series is going to be phenomenal.

Waiting on Wednesday (27)

"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....
by: Sarah Crossan 
Goodreads Synonpsis:
Inhale. Exhale. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe . . .

The world is dead.
The survivors live under the protection of Breathe, the corporation that found a way to manufacture oxygen-rich air.

has been stealing for a long time. She’s a little jittery, but not terrified. All she knows is that she’s never been caught before. If she’s careful, it’ll be easy. If she’s careful.

should be worried about Alina and a bit afraid for himself, too, but even though this is dangerous, it’s also the most interesting thing to happen to him in ages. It isn’t every day that the girl of your dreams asks you to rescue her.

wants to tell him that none of this is fair; they’d planned a trip together, the two of them, and she’d hoped he’d discover her out here, not another girl.

And as they walk into the Outlands with two days’ worth of oxygen in their tanks, everything they believe will be shattered. Will they be able to make it back? Will they want to?

May 1, 2012

Review: Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Title: Insurgent
Author: Veronica Roth
Publisher:  HarperTeen
Publication Date: 5.1.2012
Pages: 525
Genre: Dystopian
Series: Yes (Divergent #2)
Source: ARC from publisher

Rating: A

Summary (from Goodreads):
One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

I absolutely, positively love that Veronica Roth picks up Insurgent right where Divergent left off. There’s been no lapse in time (they’re still on the train), so we literally do not miss a second. There’s no three page summary of what happened over the last two months, the story fluidly picks up right where its predecessor left off, throwing the reader right back into the heat of the moment.

Tris is still awesome. This girl has been left reeling from everything that happened in Divergent, but still finds the strength to pick up the pieces are carry on. Four/Tobias (I prefer Four) is still as epically fantastic as he was in Divergent, but I wished there had been more alone moments for him and Tris. Maybe it’s just the romantic in me, but I fell hard for these two and was somewhat disappointed they weren’t together.

I am so grateful that Insurgent didn’t fall prey to the sophomore slump. Instead of letting her characters relax and bogging down the reader with a ton of back story and unnecessarily added new characters, Roth truly ups the ante. Yes, there is back story and yes there are new characters added, but nothing ever felt unnecessary or like it was there for filler. Roth has this magical, heart pounding writing style that just amazes me. I can’t get enough of it. She could probably write about a box and I’d be engrossed.

If you loved Divergent, rest assured that Insurgent is just as wonderful. There are many new twists and turns that left me gaping, and the ending makes me all more anxious for book three. If you haven’t started this series … I can only assume it’s because you have a low tolerance for all things amazing and don’t want your mind blown.


Join Veronica Roth (@VeronicaRoth) for a live hour-long Twitter chat celebrating the release of INSURGENT today beginning at 4:00pm EST! #InsurgentDay

Watch the livestream of Veronica's Barnes & Noble TriBeCa event today at 7pm EST

If you're in the area, come meet Veronica in person!

Tuesday, May 1st 2012 – NEW YORK, NY
Barnes & Noble Tribeca @ 7PM
97 Warren St.
New York, NY 10007

Wednesday, May 2nd – CINCINNATI, OH
Joseph-Beth Booksellers @ 7PM
2692 Madison Road # M
Cincinnati, OH 45208

Friday, May 4th – CHICAGO, IL
Anderson’s Bookshop @ 7PM
123 West Jefferson
Naperville, IL 60540