Aug 29, 2013

Blog Tour: The Bone Season

Welcome to the Irish Banana Review stop for the blog tour of The Bone Season. Going into BEA we heard a ton of buzz surrounding this book and even had the chance to meet Samantha Shannon (who is beyond sweet!). Here's Gabrielle's review of this stunning debut:

Title: The Bone Season
Author: Samantha Shannon
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: 8.20.2013
Pages: 480
Genre: Fantasy, Dystopian
Series: The Bone Season #1
Source: ARC from BEA

Rating: A

Summary (from Goodreads):
It is the year 2059. Several major world cities are under the control of a security force called Scion. Paige Mahoney works in the criminal underworld of Scion London, part of a secret cell known as the Seven Seals. The work she does is unusual: scouting for information by breaking into others’ minds. Paige is a dreamwalker, a rare kind of clairvoyant, and in this world, the voyants commit treason simply by breathing.

But when Paige is captured and arrested, she encounters a power more sinister even than Scion. The voyant prison is a separate city—Oxford, erased from the map two centuries ago and now controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. These creatures, the Rephaim, value the voyants highly—as soldiers in their army.

Paige is assigned to a Rephaite keeper, Warden, who will be in charge of her care and training. He is her master. Her natural enemy. But if she wants to regain her freedom, Paige will have to learn something of his mind and his own mysterious motives.

The Bone Season introduces a compelling heroine—a young woman learning to harness her powers in a world where everything has been taken from her. It also introduces an extraordinary young writer, with huge ambition and a teeming imagination. Samantha Shannon has created a bold new reality in this riveting debut.

Don't you love it when you read the summary of a book and think "Meh, this looks pretty good," and then you read it and your like "Why didn't I read this sooner?!" That was exactly how it went with this book.

Samantha Shannon is absolutely phenomenal in the way she has created a world that is exciting, mysterious, and full of secrets.

It is hard to believe a world such as Scion doesn't actually exist. The amount of planning, layouts, language, everything seems to have required so much thought I can't believe something so amazing isn't real. I was not left asking myself to try and picture something. It was always there. Literally watching a movie in my head.

Paige, Warden, the Seals, and even the Rephaim had enough history and detail that you weren't questioning their presence. You understand them and their motives, their hardships and lack of restraint. I loved these characters. Shannon gave you more then enough to love them,  enough to understand, and just enough to say " Ok, and they next isn't coming out 'til when?!"

My only reserve about this book is that it's going to sit alone on the shelf until the rest follow. I cannot wait until I can read more of Scion, Paige, and what happens to it all. Samantha Shannon is amazing, brilliant, and truly has a talent. The Bone Season is most definitely a must read!

Buy: Amazon

Aug 23, 2013

Blog Tour: Emblazoned Red

Welcome to my stop on the EMBLAZONED RED blog tour! Apparently my first post was so exciting that blogger opted to eat it, ergo my apologies for the late release. But I can assure you this book is worth the wait.


To be totally honest, I had never heard of Emblazoned Red nor Dawn McCullough prior to hearing about this tour. After a little digging I decided this seemed like a pretty good book, so why not?

Best. Decision. Ever.

First of all let me just commend McCullough on throwing in so many genres into one story. I was a bit apprehensive about this, but she did it surprsingly well. I will admit that I did, occasionally, get lost. There was a lot going on, but McCullough is careful to never let her reader get too far off track.

Ilka was a great character. I embraced her from the start and I loved going on this journey with her. McCullough wrote a compelling character that I believe a lot of people will identify with. She's strong and witty and amusing all at once.

One of the best things about blog tour is being exposed to authors and books I might usually pass by. I'm sad to say I would have passed by this book and I would have missed out. I definitely recommend all fan of adventure and paranormal books check this one out. It's most assuredly worth your time.

About The Emblazoned Red - Goodreads, Amazon, B&N

Once, in another world—a dark world, the world of Faetta—there lived paladins and pirates, tyrants and scallywags, vampires and the undead. In this world a revolution is brewing. The royalty of Sieunes are in chains, and those priests and paladins who follow the holy word of the gods are under attack. In the west, the kingdom of Kellerhald receives the fleeing priests in their temples of the paladins of Silvius, god of the Sky.
Here, a young woman has just passed her tests to become a paladin. A pirate crew raids along the Azez Sea. An undead creature, wielding great power, roams the graveyard of Yetta. And a lost soul, crying out from beyond the veil, seeks out a pure hearted warrior to hear its plea.
Amid the turmoil of the revolution, Ilka’s mettle is tested. Rescued by pirates, she ends up with an unlikely ally: the pirate captain himself. The newly trained paladin finds herself collaborating with the undead, working with a vampire, and worst of all, longing for revenge against the man who has ignited the revolution in Sieunes: Francois Mond.
Death of an Innocent. Rise of a Paladin.

About Dawn McCullough White - Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads
Dawn McCullough White is known for her strong female protagonists, and gritty dark fantasy.
Ms. McCullough-White has lived the majority of her life in and around Rochester, NY with a brief stint in Tucson, AZ. She is pursuing a degree in psychology at R.I.T. Dawn is a history buff and was a member of the Society of Creative Anachronism for years, active as a heavy weapons fighter. She currently resides with her husband and son in a quaint neighborhood next to an old cemetery.

For more info about the tour and some great guest posts by Dawn, check out: The Emblazoned Red tour page.

Aug 20, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!
Each week we will post a new Top Ten list that one of our bloggers here at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun!

Top Ten Things That Make My Life As A Blogger Easier/Better

1. Netgalley: I became a blogger when eARCs were becoming a big thing. I quickly decided to embrace the change (despite vowing to only love physical books) and it's been wonderful. Especially now that I am blessed with a lot of review copies and only have so much room for books.

2. Edelweiss: Not only is Edelweiss a great resource for eARCs, but they also have catalogs and a ton of info about upcoming books. Don't get hung up on requesting ARCs here - dig deeper and see what other amazing things they have to offer.

3. Goodreads: I don't think a blogger can survive without Goodreads to help track and organize what you've read. Also, take time to interact with other people on their forums! You can learn a ton. Last year everyone wanted to know how I had the inside track at authors signing at BEA - it's because there's a BEA forum where there are dozens of people scouring websites, twitter, and facebook and then sharing that info. Also? There's giveaways.

4. Blog Tour Hosts: Specifically, blog tour hosts (like Kismet and Rockstar) that go above and beyond by providing all the info needed to make a blog tour post a success - everything from review copies to banners to html codes to pictures. I adore working with these two groups as they're amazing.

5. Twitter: Twitter is the best way to network as a blogger. You can interact with authors, publishers, and other bloggers there. 

6. Google Drive: A great way to organize documents. I have spreadsheets on here for everything from giveaways to my BEA schedule. It saves everything and is easy to navigate.

7. BookExpo America: This conference is absolutely amazing for introducing me to knew and upcoming books. I love chatting with publicists and authors about what they're excited for and putting faces to names in person. Also? It's like a huge blogger reunion as I get to hang out with some of my favorite people!

8. Bloggers: Yes, other bloggers are an immense help to me. I have made some of the best friends blogging - frinedships that go beyond, "OMG! Did you read this book yet?" These are people I know I can call when my real life goes crazy and I need to vent. People who get all my crazy.

9. Publicists: Some of the hardest working people in the business. These people take the time to organize book tours, schedules, promote upcoming books, send out review copies, and answer a myriad of questions. I have met some of the coolest publicists since becoming a blogger.

10. Blogger: I know there's a big debate over blogger and wordpress, but blogger works for me. I like it. I know it. And most the blogs I follow are on it. For now? I'm a Blogger on blogger.

Aug 19, 2013

Blog Tour: The Liberator

Title: The Libertaor        
Author: Victoria Scott
Publisher:  Entangled Teen
Publication Date: 8.27.2013
Pages: 350
Genre: Paranormal, Romance
Series: Dante Walker  #2
Source: eARC from publisher

Rating: A-

Summary (from Goodreads):
Bad boy, meet bad girl.

Dante has a shiny new cuff wrapped around his ankle, and he doesn't like that mess one bit. His new accessory comes straight from Big Guy himself and marks the former demon as a liberator. Despite his gritty past and bad boy ways, Dante Walker has been granted a second chance.

When Dante is given his first mission as a liberator to save the soul of seventeen-year-old Aspen, he knows he’s got this. But Aspen reminds him of the rebellious life he used to live and is making it difficult to resist sinful temptations. Though Dante is committed to living clean for his girlfriend Charlie, this dude’s been a playboy for far too long…and old demons die hard. 

With Charlie becoming the girl she was never able to be pre-makeover and Aspen showing him how delicious it feels to embrace his inner beast, Dante will have to go somewhere he never thought he’d return to in order to accomplish the impossible: save the girl he’s been assigned to, and keep the girl he loves.

A few months ago Victoria Scott blew me away with her debut, The Collector. Now D-Wubs (ahem, that’s Dante Walker for those of you not in the know) is back in The Liberator.

The Liberator picks up shortly where we left off from book 1. Dante is now a liberator for Heaven and while he may have a sparkly new title, he’s still the arrogantly loveable bad boy that made our pulses race.  This book was really Dante-scentric and really about him finding himself. There was a lot of inner struggles and turmoil, but it never felt dragging. It was natural; a fluid character progression.

I had my doubts about Aspen. I immediately get irritated and defensive when someone threatens my core couple. Anything that could possibly be perceived as a threat to my love of Dante and Charlie (and their love for each other) annoys me. Surprisingly, Aspen grew on me. Again, it’s probably just my own personal shipper issues, but I went in expecting to hate Aspen and found myself liking her by the end.

Not liking her with Dante, but as her own character.

I cannot recommend enough that people get into this series ASAP. It’s thrilling, romantic and Scott’s ability to throw curveballs while entertaining me never ceases to amaze me.

Where to find The Liberator:
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About Victoria Scott

I’m a teen fiction writer with a die-hard affection for dark and humorous books. My work is represented by Sara Crowe of Harvey Klinger literary agency. I have a master’s degree in marketing, and currently live in Dallas with my husband, Ryan.

My first series started with THE COLLECTOR, and was published by Entangled Teen in April 2013. The second book in the trilogy, THE LIBERATOR, will release August 2013. My next series kicks off with FIRE & FLOOD and is being published by Scholastic, February 2014.

*Author Links*
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1 signed copy of THE LIBERATOR and a signed copy of TWILIGHT, international.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Aug 15, 2013

Cover Reveal: Trust In You

To say I had crazy amounts of love for Wait For You is an understatement. A novella in Cam's POV? I cannot wait. And I love that this cover matches the rest!

It’s Wait for You as you’ve never seen it. Trust in Me lets you in on Cam’s side of the #1 New York Times Bestselling story.

Cameron Hamilton is used to getting what he wants, especially when it comes to women. But when Avery Morgansten comes crashing into his life – literally – he finally meets the one person who can resist his soulful baby blues. But Cam’s not ready to give up. He can’t get the feisty and intriguing girl out of his head.

Avery has secrets, secrets that keep her from admitting the feelings Cam knows she has for him. Will persistence (and some delicious homemade cookies) help him break down her barriers and gain her trust? Or will he be shut out of Avery's life, losing his first real shot at the kind of love that lasts forever?


Buy It:

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Review: Down London Road by Samantha Young

Title: Down London Road
Author: Samantha Young
Publisher: NAL
Publication Date: 5.7.2013
Pages: 375
Genre: New Adult
Series: On Dublin Street #2
Source: Purchased ebook

Rating: B

Summary (from Goodreads):
Johanna Walker is used to taking charge. But she’s about to meet someone who will make her lose control....

It has always been up to Johanna to care for her family, particularly her younger brother, Cole. With an absent father and a useless mother, she’s been making decisions based on what’s best for Cole for as long as she can remember. She even determines what men to date by how much they can provide for her brother and her, not on whatever sparks may—or may not—fly.

But with Cameron MacCabe, the attraction is undeniable. The sexy new bartender at work gives her butterflies every time she looks at him. And for once, Jo is tempted to put her needs first. Cam is just as obsessed with getting to know Jo, but her walls are too solid to let him get close enough to even try.

Then Cam moves into the flat below Jo’s, and their blistering connection becomes impossible to ignore. Especially since Cam is determined to uncover all of Jo’s secrets
even if it means taking apart her defenses piece by piece.

Samantha Young is back again with more hot accents, hot scenes, and hot covers. Seriously—did you guys see that thing? Young’s On Dublin Street series is fast becoming a favorite new adult guilty pleasure of mine. In Down London Road, we get a chance to get inside Jo’s head—Jo, the flighty, sometimes ridiculous girl we were introduced to in book one. Jo needed her own book—there’s so much going on under the surface of this character, it astounded me.

I think the hardest part for me to click with in this book was Jo. While I understood a lot of why she was doing what she was doing (vague enough for you? Read the book!), I personally couldn’t understand those choices. But seeing the way she acted with Cole and her mother and then with Cam … She’s a character I was slow to love, but I truly did love her by the end. She’s a great heroine to root for.

And Cam … Cam wowed me from the start. Things got a little rocky about 2/3 of the way into the book and he does some pretty idiotic things I wanted to slap him for, but for the most part, he’s a solid, good guy. He especially steps up at the end when Jo needs him most.

Young’s series is not literary brilliance, but it has a certain element of fun. It’s fiction that lets me escape my own reality and fall into another world for a few hours with entertaining characters.

Buy: Amazon

Aug 12, 2013

Author Interview: Levi Stack

1) As detailed as this first book is, how much forethought went into it? (Like research or actually creating the cards)

I planned out the entire plot of The Card Game series before I ever wrote the first book. It took a year to plot the four books in the series as well as research the dark characters of the Russian Empire (be it Gypsies, nobles, or members of the Russian Mafia). But I'm not crazy... I just want my mysteries to pay off for readers!

2) What do you have planned for Romulus and Viktor in the next book? With spoiling of course.

Dangers - and lots of them! The town of Aryk becomes increasingly dangerous in the second book, The Magic Trick. Strange messages begin showing up in the streets, a bizarre circus comes to town, and assassins are hot on the boys' trail. And atop all that, Viktor and his friends are chosen for a deathly apprenticeship...

3) What helps you get through a day of writing? Do have a certain place you like to write, drinks, food, music?

So. Much. Espresso. I'll also listen to music during breaks (usually The Shins), but besides that, I just need my sturdy wood desk.

4) Are you currently writing anything? Do you have any other books planned?

I hereby sweareth not to write anything but The Card Game series until the fourth book is finished. As a reader, I was always impatient for authors to put out the next book in a series. Now it's my turn to crank the words out!

5) What are you most excited about this year or into the beginning of 2014?

I can't wait to connect with new readers. I've always loved stories, and if I can give back a fraction of the excitement that books have given me, I'll be content.

When Viktor and Romulus, two peasant boys, dig too deep into their town’s strange past, they awaken the wrath of a mysterious overlord. As the blood brothers struggle to survive, their search for answers takes them through gambling parlors, bare-knuckle boxing matches, and dark forests full of wild animals and men alike. But even with the help of their friends, can they escape the deathly experiments their foe is creating in Staryi Castle?

Enter the bold lands of the Russian Empire where the colorful characters of The Card Game dwell, from the fortune-tellers and fire-jugglers of the Romani Gypsies, to the dangerous criminals that make up the Thieves World, the predecessor of the Russian Mafia.

An explosive mixture of adventure and mystery, The Silent Deal is a young adult novel that will rip readers through the pages. A perilous journey awaits…

*The Silent Deal is available for free in ebook format today!*

Review: Keeping Her by Cora Carmack

Title: Keeping Her          
Author: Cora Carmack
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: 8.13.13
Pages: 100
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Novella
Series: Losing It #1.5
Source: eARC from publisher

Rating: B+

Summary (from Goodreads):
Garrick Taylor and Bliss Edwards managed to find their happily-ever-after despite a rather . . . ahem . . . complicated start. By comparison, meeting the parents should be an absolute breeze, right?

But from the moment the pair lands in London, new snags just keep cropping up: a disapproving mother-in-law-to-be, more than one (mostly) minor mishap, and the realization that perhaps they aren't quite as ready for their future as they thought.

As it turns out, the only thing harder than finding love is keeping it.

I fell in love with Garrick and Bliss back in Losing It, the stunning debut by Cora Carmack that helped launch my awareness of this awesome new New Adult genre. When I had the chance to go back and visit with two of my favorite characters, I jumped at the chance.

Keeping Her is a quick, sweet story that picks up with Garrick and Bliss’ engagement where they are heading overseas (to London) to meet Garrick’s friends and family for the first time. Watching Bliss panic and freak as she is apt to do was adorable, because who wouldn’t be nervous jumping the pond to meet a bunch of people who you were sure would be judging you?

Garrick is wonderfully supportive (as per usual), and I loved watching him interact with Bliss. Their relationship is truly a partnership and you see that working here.

I think my only issue was the literary whiplash I suffered at the end. It almost felt like Carmack put in enough plots and subplots for a full length novel, but then realize it was supposed to be a novella at the last second and everything wrapped up in 3 pages. BAM! and then The End. Maybe it’s just me being a little selfish for wanting to hang out with Bliss and Garrick a little longer (and really, who wouldn’t?), but I wanted more of a resolution, more of an explanation.

Regardless, fans of Carmack’s series will jump at the chance to catch up with these two fan faves a few months down the road, and I think they’ll be happy at this glimpse into the world of Bliss and Garrick. I know I was.

Aug 9, 2013

Review: Real by Katy Evans

Title: Real
Author: Katy Evans
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: 4.8.2013
Pages: 266
Genre: New Adult
Series: Real #1
Source: Purchased ebook

Rating: B

Summary (from Goodreads):
A fallen boxer.
A woman with a broken dream.
A competition…

He even makes me forget my name. One night was all it took, and I forgot everything and anything except the sexy fighter in the ring who sets my mind ablaze and my body on fire with wanting…

Remington Tate is the strongest, most confusing man I’ve ever met in my life.

He’s the star of the dangerous underground fighting circuit, and I’m drawn to him as I’ve never been drawn to anything in my life. I forget who I am, what I want, with just one look from him. When he’s near, I need to remind myself that I am strong–but he is stronger. And now it’s my job to keep his body working like a perfect machine, his taut muscles primed and ready to break the bones of his next opponents . . .

But the one he’s most threatening to, now, is me.

I want him. I want him without fear. Without reservations.

If only I knew for sure what it is that he wants from me?

I first found out about this book (OK, about Remy) from the NA Crush Tourney. I was stunned to see someone had beaten Cam—my Cam!—and my curiosity was piqued. Who was this Katy Evans with the hot guy that came out of nowhere to beat someone I was a sure shoe-in to win. One Barnes & Noble download and five hours later and I totally got it.

I have to admit that when I initially started this, I was sure I had Remy and Brooke figured out from the beginning. I hate to say, but Real comes across like a lot of other New Adult titles saturating the market—seemingly obscure girl somehow attracts the attentions of the hot guy who is nursing some serious anger issues. It sounds like every other new adult book I’ve read recently—and not in a good way.

But Evans takes that to the next level.

Brooke, our narrator, was unfortunately my least favorite of the bunch, but what makes up for her sometimes grating and judgmental ways is Remy. Yes, Remy has some issues, but the moment I knew he was different than all those other book boys that have burned me was when he actually backed down from a fight. I literally sat up and took notice. There may have been some eyebrow raising, too. And this was just the beginning.

Evans continually surprised me throughout the story. She takes so many stereotypes I’ve unfortunately developed with new adult books and slams through them with dizzying force. I can’t wait to read her next book.

Aug 7, 2013

My Life As a Blogger (the GIF version)

I've had a few friends (who aren't bloggers) and a couple newbie bloggers ask me about the life of a blogger, so I decided to tell you guys a story. Well, the story. About my beginnings as a blogger until now.

This all began in January of 2011, when I was starting to rediscover the YA genre and read a lot. A fellow friend from livejournal (Ashley) started talking to me about book blogging. The more we chatted, the more I wanted to start my own.

That February, I decided to go all in and I created The Irish Banana Review - you know, the blog you're currently reading. And it was a glorious day. But I was also a little scared.

It was in this moment I knew I would quickly own the blogosphere with my awesome ability to be ... awesome. Yeah.

But then suddenly (and by suddenly I mean 3 months later) it wasn't so glamorous. Where were the hoards of people that were supposed to adore my every written word? Where were these magical, mystical creations called "ARCs" that were supposed to arrive at my door?

And where were the other bloggers that were going to embrace me with open arms and welcome me into their fold?

So, my friends, this newbie blogger found herself at a crossroads. She could walk away from the blog (and really, who of the 56 followers she had amassed would notice? Surely not the robots that outsmarted the captcha to get here.) or she could dig in and keep going.

Spoiler Alert: I kept going! 

Even in the face of dire straits like no comments, minimal page views, and a low GFC number (because back in my day, kids, that was the only number that mattered), I decide to press onward.

I worked hard. I reviewed often, participated in enough memes/giveaways to bring in new followers, but not so many that I was one of "those bloggers" that I heard whispers and rumors about. And then, this one glorious day, a package arrived in my mailbox.

It was my first ARC. A shiny, advanced copy of Half-Blood by then-unknown author Jennifer L. Armentrout. It. Was. EPIC.

Not too long after this, the online world exploded in a flurry and fury of twitter fights, plagiarism scandals, and rampant cases of authors behaving badly. 

I took one simplistic approach that I try to maintain in my life: If it doesn't involve me, I generally stay out of it. 

Then, this one day, I saw this strange little word on Twitter: BEA.

After some careful research, I discovered that this was a place, really a mecca, for book lovers. And as a book lover, I would make my pilgrimage there the following year. So I kept working hard at my blog and decided to go to my first BEA. 

That week in NYC went something like this:

I met a lot of cool people and started making friends with other bloggers. Like, I started texting them, and tweeting them, and facebooking them, and stalking them. But we were friends now and that that made it OK.

But seriously, I came back from BEA and took a small break from blogging because of weddings and jobs and vacations ... But then I was refreshed and ready to go. And go I did; doubling and sometimes tripling the number of page views/visitors per month compared to what I had been averaging before.

Life was good ... but it was also getting overwhelming. I was getting burnt out, and was suffocating under a pile of unread books I had committed to reviewing.

Enter my partner-in-crime, Gabrielle. It's always a plus having a cousin you adore who is also a book lover. So Gabrielle became my co-blogger and helped shoulder a lot of the reviewing duties.

So with Gabrielle came a lot of freedom. I was able to read books for pleasure - not just like a mindless reviewing robot. And because things were going so well, Gabrielle accompanied me to BEA in 2013.

And of course by this time those people I had actually become real-life friends with were there. It was like an awesome reunion. With books! And there were even parties that I got to go to! It went like this:

That pretty much brings us up to now. Now, where I am a happy blogger who gets to do cool things, hang out with pretty awesome people and get the inside scoop in fantastical books.

Until next time, guys!