Sep 30, 2013

Halloween With HarlequinTEEN

It's that time of year - leaves are changing, air is cooling, and kids are already dreaming about the bucket full of candy they'll have in a few weeks' time. I'm not a kid anymore, so this Halloween I'm laying off the chocolate (mostly) and indulging in one of my favorite treats - Spellbound by Cara Lynn Shultz.

Cara is one of my all-time favorite authors, and anyone who knows me knows that I rave about her books Spellbound and Spellcaster. I met Cara a few years ago at BEA and she is so incredibly sweet and gracious. I chat with her one twitter and she routinely cracks me up and doesn't seem horribly annoyed that I always lament that Brendan and Emma, the stars of her debut series, only got two books.

That, my dears, is changing because Cara has written an amazing little IM scene between these characters as a special Halloween treat for the HarlequinTEEN blog tour. So check it out:

[NEW IM from Emma Connor to Brendan Salinger]
[8:49 p.m.]
E.Connor: Hello, handsome. Sexy. Love of my life.
B. Salinger: What do you want me to do? J
E. Connor: Rude! I can’t say hi to my wonderful, majestic, superb boyfriend?
B. Salinger: Do you have open right now?
E. Connor: Ha, ha, ha. You’re so funny. :/
B. Salinger: I know. I should have my own talk show or something.
E. Connor: So you really won’t dress up for Halloween with me? Come on! Cisco’s party is going to be really fun. And costumes are required!
B. Salinger: I’ll go to the party. I just don’t want to dress up.
E. Connor: Please?
B. Salinger: Okay, I’ll dress up. I’ll be Brendan from the Future.
E. Connor: Yay!
E. Connor: Wait…what does Brendan from the Future wear?
B. Salinger: Black shirt and jeans.
E. Connor: Noooooooooooo!
B. Salinger: But…they’re FUTURE jeans.
E. Connor: Doesn’t count.
B. Salinger: Come on, Em. You know I love you but I don’t want to wear some uncomfortable outfit all night or dress up as a pirate or something lame. If you come up with something that isn’t embarrassing, I’ll do it.
E. Connor: Challenge accepted.
B. Salinger: Crap.
[Emma Connor has logged off]

[NEW IM from Emma Connor to Brendan Salinger]
[11:38 p.m.]
E. Connor: I know what we should do.
B. Salinger: Sneak you into my bedroom this weekend since my parents are out of town?
E. Connor: No.
E. Connor: Wait, what?
B. Salinger: J
E. Connor: Okay, let’s talk about that. But I’m talking about Halloween. You should go as Daryl Dixon.
B. Salinger: From The Walking Dead?
E. Connor: Yes! You can wear a necklace of zombie ears. We can get squirrel stuffed animals to hang from your belt.
E. Connor: Brendan? You there?
B. Salinger: I get a crossbow.
E. Connor: Yeah. And you don’t even have to brush your hair.
B. Salinger: Go on. What would you go as? And please don’t say Andrea. She is the worst.
E. Connor: A zombie, obviously.
B. Salinger: So you’ll spend all night trying to rip my shirt off and bite me?
E. Connor: Duh. I’d do that anyway.
B. Salinger: Okay, I’m in.
E. Connor: You’re the best!
B. Salinger: I keep telling people that but you’re the only one who believes me.

What's a girl to do when meeting The One means she's cursed to die a horrible

Life hasn't been easy on sixteen-year-old Emma Connor, so a new start in New York may be just the change she needs. But the posh Upper East Side prep school she has to attend? Not so much. Friendly faces are few and far between, except for one that she's irresistibly drawn to— Brendan Salinger, the guy with the rock-star good looks and the richest kid in school, who might just be her very own white knight.

But even when Brendan inexplicably turns cold, Emma can't stop staring. Ever since she laid eyes on him, strange things have been happening. Streetlamps go out wherever she walks, and Emma's been having the oddest dreams: visions of herself in past lives— visions that warn her to stay away from Brendan. Or else.

About Cara Lynn Shultz:
Cara Lynn Shultz’s love of supernatural writing began when she was 7 and wrote a play about ghosts, which she and her friends acted out on her grandparents’ porch. Since then, her work has appeared in Teen People, Alternative Press, Stuff, InStyle, Us Weekly, The Guardian UK and countless posts on Facebook and Twitter. She is a proud graduate of Fordham University and is currently a senior editor at Cara lives in her native New York City with her husband, tuxedo cat and 8 million other people. Spellbound is her first novel. 


Monday, September 30th - Cara Lynn Shultz and Spellbound - The Irish Banana
Wednesday, October 2nd  - Cara Lynn Shultz and Spellcaster – Alice Marvels
Friday, October 4th  - Gena Showalter and Alice in Zombieland & Through The Zombieglass – The Page Turners
Monday, October 7th  - Dawn Metcalf – Indelible – Refracted Lights
Wednesday, October 9th  - Rachel Vincent and The Soul Screamers Series - Such A Novel Idea
Friday, October 11th  - Victoria Lamb  and Witchstruck – Book Swoon
Monday, October 14th  - Melissa Darnell and Crave & Covet – The Book Swarm
Wednesday, October 16th  - Melissa Darnell and Consume – A Bookish Escape
Friday, October 18th  - Julie Kagawa and The Immortal Rules – Tyngas Reviews
Monday, October 21st  – Julie Kagawa and The Eternity Cure – Bittersweet Enchantment
Wednesday, October 23rd  -Michelle Rowen and Dark Kiss – Books & Things
Friday, October 25th  -Michelle Rowen and Wicked Kiss – Bewitched Bookworms

Sep 19, 2013

Baltimore Book Festival 2013

It's that time of the year, guys! It's time for the Baltimore Book Festival! *throws confetti*

I had an absolute blast last year (check out my recap), and this year seems like it will be even more fun! I know it will be more interactive for me because I'll be on this panel on Saturday at the Maryland Romance Writer's tent:

Moderator: Lea Nolan, Author

Andye Eppes,, Jen Fisher, Jenuine Cupcakes/Young Adult Books Central, Hannah McBride, The Irish Banana Review, Stephanie Sinclair, Cuddlebuggery, Jillian Stein, Read-Love-Blog, Joy Harris, Joyfully Reviewed

What: Baltimore Book Festival
Who: A ton of authors, including YA authors Jennifer L. Armentrout, Brigid Kemmerer, Jeri Smith-Ready. Meg Cabot, Alethea Kontis, Lea Nolan and more! 
Where: Mount Vernon Place in Baltimore, MD
When: Sept. 27-29, 2013
Why: To celebrate the awesomeness of books!

For more info, check out the Baltimore Book Festival website:

And be sure to check out the Maryland Romance Writer's Stage:

I hope I get to see you guys there!

Review: Freakboy by Kristin Elizabeth Clark

Title: Freakboy
Author: Kristin Elizabeth Clark
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux
Publication Date: 10.22.2013
Pages: 448
Genre: Contemporary, Poetry
Series: No
Source: ARC from publisher

Rating: C

Summary (from Goodreads):
From the outside, Brendan Chase seems to have it pretty easy. He’s a star wrestler, a video game aficionado, and a loving boyfriend to his seemingly perfect match, Vanessa. But on the inside, Brendan struggles to understand why his body feels so wrong—why he sometimes fantasizes having long hair, soft skin, and gentle curves. Is there even a name for guys like him? Guys who sometimes want to be girls? Or is Brendan just a freak?

In razor-sharp verse, Kristin Clark folds three narratives into one powerful story: Brendan trying to understand his sexual identity, Vanessa fighting to keep her and Brendan’s relationship alive, and Angel struggling to confront her demons.

Maybe this was my fault. Maybe I should have taken it literally when the synopsis said “in razor-sharp verse” because I was not expecting a book of poetry. Not that I have any issues with poetry—far from it. I love the symbolism and stilted, lyrical way of working through a poem. But an entire book written in poetry? Not even the explosive content Kristin Elizabeth Clark was exploring in Freakboy could make this work.

My first issue (other than the poetry) was that there are three dueling perspectives in this book and while I can see the validity of each one, Brendan’s in the one that matters most. This book is his transformation—his journey of self-discovery.  While it was a times nice to know what Vanessa and Angel were thinking, it was not vital to the story. I wanted more of Brendan.

Which brings me to why the poetry angle didn’t work. Part of the beauty of poetry is its simplicity. Its way of condensing pages of monologue and dialogue into a raw, emotional power punch of a single page or less. The problem I have it something with this type of subject matter needs the detail and intimacy of a novel. You need more than a page or two to full understand the extent of how Brendan is dealing and making decisions.  

I think I would have rather seen the poetry as a filler between chapters, not encompassing the entire novel. I cannot commend Clark enough for tackling such a delicate and controversial subject matter. Ten years ago there was nothing like this book on the market and I think these types of novels are essential to address. If this book helps one person, then it was well worth the effort put in by everyone.

Buy: Amazon

Sep 17, 2013

Review: Everything For Us by M. Leighton

Title: Everything For Us
Author: M. Leighton
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: 9.3.2013
Pages: 336
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary
Series: Bad Boys #3
Source: ARC from publisher

Rating: B

Summary (from Goodreads):
When it comes to passion this hot, it’s all or nothing. 

Olivia Townsend’s wealthy cousin Marissa had everything a girl could ask for—a great job, a privileged life, and all the friends she wanted. Or, at least, all the friends money could buy. But one case of mistaken identity has turned her privileged world upside down.

An abduction gone wrong lands her right in the lap of the sexiest, most dangerous man she’s ever met. To Marissa, he’s an enigma, but one to whom she’s irresistibly, inexplicably drawn.

With him comes a new world of freedom and passion, of dark shadows and dangerous secrets, a world where nothing is what it seems—except for the blind passion that Marissa can’t escape—or maybe even survive.

I have been a fan of this series since I read the first book several months back. These books aren’t award-winning, blow you away, but there is a fun freedom to them that lets me kick back and enjoy. M. Leighton is a good storyteller, and this recent addition to the Bad Boys series was definitely fun … but maybe not quite so fun as the others.

The first thing you have to know is that we’re no longer dealing with Cash and Olivia—the couple that has made us swoon since book 1. They take a backseat to the steamy affair of Nash (Cash’s twin brother) and Marissa (Olivia’s formerly spoiled, bratty cousin).

While I am all for redeeming a character, I had my doubts about Marissa. She was just so vile and hateful in the first few books, her sudden about face gave me whiplash. And Olivia’s ignorant, totally forgiveness often came off as na├»ve, not magnanimous. That aside, I enjoyed Marissa. She has a spark and a spunk that I admire (when she isn’t being a raging beyotch like in books 1 and 2). She’s a great balance to Nash.

Nash is dark. He is twisted and bitter and cynical. Which is totally fine for a brooding bad boy. He’s occasionally grating, but I love that Leighton didn’t make him suddenly all happy and funny. He has a biting snark and is more often than not crude and unpolished, which is indicative of the life he’s led.

The romance is hot and steamy, definitely pushing the edge even for new adult. There was one scene in particular, though, that legit bothered me. It was dark and I felt somewhat dangerous. I went from thinking, “This is hot” to “Stop the ride, I wanna get off”. I’m not sure it needed to be there (and trust me, you will know the scene when you get to it—I don’t need to add any more detail), but it was. 

If you’re looking for a happy, fluffy romance then this isn’t your book. Fans of this series might be shocked at the dark turn Leighton takes this time around, but if you’ve read the previous two books, you have to read this to see how it all plays out.

Buy: Amazon

Sep 16, 2013

Confessions of a Former Muggle: How It All Began

Guys, can I have your attention for a very important post? Is everyone here? Yeah? *counting* OK, I think that's everyone.

Look, I have a confession to make. Some of you know what I'm about to say (and your love and support means more than I can possibly ever put into words), but I also think there's a group of you out there who have no idea.

I, Hannah, am a Harry Potter virgin.

I know, I know! Calm down, and let me explain, OK?

By Harry Potter virgin I mean I have never read any of the books or seen any of the movies. None of it. For years I have lived with the shame of being totally lost in all Potter-related conversations.

I don't know what a Muggle is. I thought a Dumbledore was that smelly kid that lived down the street (seriously, I don't think he knew what soap was). I thought Hogwarts was an affliction pigs suffered from, like a milder swine-flu.

Any time I mentioned, even briefly, that I had never done anything HP-esque, I was frequently met by shock, horror, and sometimes disdain. I felt like a pariah of the YA blogging world. So I kept my dark secret hidden buried deep.

But recently, my secret has been pulled out of the closet and hurled into oncoming traffic thanks to a few people uncovering my secret. And if I'm being called out, I'm totally calling out all the people who called me out. Yeah.

I think it began when I was in a car with Jen and Miranda Kenneally. We were obviously talking about books and when the taboo subject of HP came up, I admitted to not reading it because you don't lie to the girl who holds the cupcakes and one of your favorite authors. The conversation went like this:

Hannah: I just never read Harry Potter. It's not my thing.
Jen: Good books aren't your thing?
Miranda: You need to let Harry Potter touch you.

Well, OK then. And I might have put that online, where Andye and Nicole found out. Those two put the pressure on like a pair of sumo wrestlers tackling Urkel. And there might have been this awkward conversation about Harry and his wand.

But I was still a bit resistant. Even when Nicole picked it as my Secret Readers book and got me a copy of the book herself, did I hesitate.

Then I attended a book launch with a bunch of #YADCers (our "local" group of bloggers, authors, and book addicted people). After dinner, I found myself in being ganged up on by not only Jen and Andye, but not Steph, Jenn, Christina, and Steph - we have a lot of Jen's and Steph's in our group.

I may have made a deal with Jenn that if she bought All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill that I would read book 1.

After that night, I knew I simply had to read Harry Potter. It was time. I'm an adult, I can handle a 12 year old magician ... right?

Enter today's lengthy twitter conversation about my HP read-a-thon with Steph and Christina. I decided I would tweet as I read. And thanks to the help of A.K. Anderson, I have my hashtag:

If you want to see my reactions to HP, check out: #FormerMuggle

Sep 13, 2013

Blog Tour: Through the Zombie Glass by Gena Showalter

Welcome to the Irish Banana Review tour stop for THROUGH THE ZOMBIE GLASS! We're so excited to share with you guys why we love this series and we might have a few awesome giveaways, too! But first let's talk about Alice.

What Makes Alice A Kick Ass Heroine:

1. She fights zombies. Zombies, people!
2. She's fiercely passionate about what she does.
3. She has a good heart.
4. She's modest about everything she does - no braggy pants around here!
5. She's a survivor - she keeps getting back up when she's knocked down.

About Through the Zombie Glass:

Inspired by the childhood classic Alice in Wonderland, this harrowing and romantic story features teen zombie slayer Alice Bell who has lost so much—family, friends, her home.
After a strange new zombie attack, Alice fears she may be losing her mind as well. A terrible darkness blooms inside her, urging her to do wicked things.
The whispers of the dead assault her ears and mirrors seem to come frighteningly to life. She’s never needed her team of zombie slayers more—including her boyfriend, Cole—than she does now. But as Cole strangely withdraws and the zombies gain new strength, Ali knows one false step may doom them all.

About Gena Showalter:
GENA SHOWALTER is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of the
Intertwined novels and several other popular YA and adult series. Her stories have been featured on MTV and in Seventeen magazine and have been praised as unputdownable.” Growing up, she always had her nose buried in a book. When it came time to buckle down and get a job, she knew writing was it for her. Gena lives in Oklahoma with her family and three slobbery bulldogs. Become a fan on Facebook, follow her on Twitter @GenaShowalter and visit her at and at

 website | twitter | facebook | goodreads | Gena Showalter on Harlequin Website

Giveaway #1
A finished copy of either Alice in Zombieland (paperback; book #1) or Through the Zombie Glass (hardback; book #2) provided by Harlequin Teen.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway #2

You want all this? Then you gotta chase the rabbit and answer the question. Today's question: Ali can seriously kick ass and we love this girl! What do you think Ali must have in order to survive in Zombieland?


Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays , the white Rabbit will appear on a different blog and stays there for 48hrs. Once you have found the Rabbit, click on it and you will be directed to a Rafflecopter entry form for the Grand Prize Giveaway!
To enter, you must answer the daily question found at the Tour Stop!!

Sep 12, 2013

Blog Tour: This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

Title: This Song Will Save Your Life
Author: Leila Sales
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
Publication Date: 9.17.2013
Pages: 288
Genre: Contemporary
Series: No
Source: ARC from publisher

Rating: A+

Summary (from Goodreads):
Making friends has never been Elise Dembowski’s strong suit. All throughout her life, she’s been the butt of every joke and the outsider in every conversation. When a final attempt at popularity fails, Elise nearly gives up. Then she stumbles upon a warehouse party where she meets Vicky, a girl in a band who accepts her; Char, a cute, yet mysterious disc jockey; Pippa, a carefree spirit from England; and most importantly, a love for DJing.

Told in a refreshingly genuine and laugh-out-loud funny voice, THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE is an exuberant novel about identity, friendship, and the power of music to bring people together.

It’s not often I add a picture of GIF to a review. Call me old school, but I like my words to do the talking. But sometimes? There just aren’t words to describe your absolute love of a book.  And since you guys can’t actually see me sitting here, shaking with excitement like a Labrador puppy, I’ll give you this:

Oh, yes, my friends. This book is that freaking amazing.

Sometimes you just find your book soulmate. There’s no rhyme or reason, and it’s usually the book you never see coming. This Song Will Save Your Life by the amazing Leila Sales is mine.

From page one I just got Elise. I understood her need to be popular and accepted. My heart broke for the disastrous choices I witnessed her making. I wanted to protect and coddle her and keep her heart safe, but it was only through Elise being broken down and desperate that she emerged as one hell of a main character.

Typically a book needs a love story to make my heart beat erratically, and this book is no different in that respect. What is different is that instead of watching a girl fall for a boy, I was watching a girl fall in love with herself. Watching Elise transform from a girl who wanted to be loved by others to a girl who could love herself was the biggest joy of all.

I think one of the biggest reasons this book resonated with me was the music. Like Elise, I live my life with a constant soundtrack. I have a song, a playlist, a mix cd for every mood and emotion. Finding that one song that encompasses a memory or a specific emotion is like lightening in a bottle and winning the lottery at the same time. Sales perfectly captured that cosmic alignment repeatedly with Elise.

I cannot wait to hand this book to as many people as possible. Everyone needs to read this one. It’s easily making my top 5 favorite books of 2013.

Buy: Amazon


1.       Music plays an integral part of This Song Will Save Your Life. How important is music to you?
It’s probably a 9 on an importance scale of 1 to 10. I’m not saying I couldn’t live without it, but it is on the list of “things I would not want to live without,” right after nasal spray, Pepto Bismol, and Kleenex with aloe. (I get sick a lot.)

2.       Elise is an awkward, but loveable, character. Is she based off of anyone you know or experiences you had?
For sure. All my characters are based off me somewhat. They are not me, but they often view the world through the same lenses as I do.

3.       Did you consider any other titles for this book while writing?
I had entitled it “The Last of the Famous International Party Girls,” which is a reworked title of a Morrissey song. My editor didn’t feel that best represented the story, so she proposed changing it to “My Suicide Playlist.” I don’t remember which of us ultimately came up with “This Song Will Save Your Life,” but I’m very happy with it. The folder on my computer is still called “Party Girls,” but that’s just because I’m too lazy to change it, and anyway I know what it refers to.

        4.    I fell totally and completely in love with This Song Will Save Your Life—what’s the last book                    you fell in total love with?
Thank you! I’m thrilled that you loved it so much. The most recent book that I fell for was John Cusick’s Cherry, Money, Baby, which is also coming out this fall.

5.       What are you currently working on?
A lot of blog posts for the This Song Will Save Your Life blog tour! The full schedule is here: This is nearly the end of the tour, so make sure to get caught up on my earlier posts if you haven’t already.

The Leila Sales Soundtrack
What songs would you assign as the soundtrack to your life at these specific moments:

1. High School Days: “Get Me Away from Here, I’m Dying,” by Belle and Sebastian

2. Love Life (past, present or future): “Maybe You Can Owe Me,” by Architecture in Helsinki

3. Finding out you were being published: “Time to Pretend,” by MGMT

4. Current writing project: “I Love You Always Forever,” by Donna Lewis

5. Theme song of your life: “Roadrunner,” by The Modern Lovers

The awesome folks at Macmillan are letting me giveaway one finished copy of This Song Will Save Your Life AND a CD with the TSWSYL playlist. Trust me - it's epic.

You must be a resident of the US or Canada and over the age of 13 to enter.


Sep 11, 2013

Review: Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter

Title: Alice in Zombieland
Author: Gena Showalter
Publisher: HarlequinTeen
Publication Date: 9.25.2012
Pages: 404
Genre: Paranormal
Series: White Rabbit Chronicles #1
Source: Finished copy from BEA

Rating: A

Summary (from Goodreads):
She won’t rest until she’s sent every walking corpse back to its grave. Forever.

Had anyone told Alice Bell that her entire life would change course between one heartbeat and the next, she would have laughed. From blissful to tragic, innocent to ruined? Please. But that’s all it took. One heartbeat. A blink, a breath, a second, and everything she knew and loved was gone.

Her father was right. The monsters are real….

To avenge her family, Ali must learn to fight the undead. To survive, she must learn to trust the baddest of the bad boys, Cole Holland. But Cole has secrets of his own, and if Ali isn’t careful, those secrets might just prove to be more dangerous than the zombies….

I wish I could go back and do a thousand things differently.
I'd tell my sister no.
I'd never beg my mother to talk to my dad.
I'd zip my lips and swallow those hateful words.
Or, barring all of that, I'd hug my sister, my mom and my dad one last time.
I'd tell them I love them.
I wish... Yeah, I wish.

So, zombies. I'm thinking moaning, stumbling around, and yelling "I'm going to eat your brain!" That's the only thing I think of when it comes to zombies. Now, I'm not much into this kind of thing, so I was a little hesitant to read it. Can I tell you how glad I am that I did read it!

This book was so surprising. But in a good way! While we were at BEA 2013 I had heard that a few people weren't into it. So I was like, "Eh I probably won't be either." READ IT!! Gena created a world that is much more than Resident Evil or Zombie Apocalypse, and a little deeper than those as well.

Alice, the groupies, and Kat were my favorite. You got the clique drama and stereo types but also that sense that everyone is holding something secret. Not only do you have that secrecy, you are literally inside Alice's head the whole way. I know I was freaking out when she was!

One of my other favorites about this book was the story itself. Yes you had "zombies" but it's surprising yet a fresh, new way to have zombies. I don't want to spoil it so I’ll leave it to your imagination and say that you have to read it.

Alice is Zombieland is a refreshing twist on zombies that is nail biting, emotional, and addicting!
Buy: Amazon