Jan 31, 2015

ApollyCon Featured Author: Cora Carmack

ApollyCon Featured Author: Cora Carmack

About the Author

Cora Carmack is a twenty-something writer who likes to write about twenty-something characters. She's done a multitude of things in her life-- boring jobs (like working retail), Fun jobs (like working in a theatre), stressful jobs (like teaching), and dream jobs (like writing). She enjoys placing her characters in the most awkward situations possible, and then trying to help them get a boyfriend out of it. Awkward people need love, too. She is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Losing It series.


Recent Release

Kalliope lives with one purpose.

To inspire.

As an immortal muse, she doesn’t have any other choice. It’s part of how she was made. Musicians, artists, actors—they use her to advance their art, and she uses them to survive. She moves from one artist to the next, never staying long enough to get attached. But all she wants is a different life— a normal one. She’s spent thousands of years living lie after lie, and now she’s ready for something real.

Sweet, sexy, and steady, Wilder Bell feels more real than anything else in her long existence. And most importantly… he’s not an artist. He doesn’t want her for her ability. But she can’t turn off the way she influences people, not even to save a man she might love. Because in small doses, she can help make something beautiful, but her ability has just as much capacity to destroy as it does to create. The longer she stays, the more obsessed Wilder will become. It’s happened before, and it never turns out well for the mortal.

Her presence may inspire genius.

But it breeds madness, too.

Other Titles

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Jan 29, 2015

Review: In His Keeping by Maya Banks

Title: In His Keeping
Author: Maya Banks
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: 1.27.2015
Pages: 432
Genre: Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Series: Slow Burn #2
Source: Finished copy from publicist

Rating: 4 Stars

Summary (from Goodreads):
Abandoned as a baby to a young wealthy couple and raised in a world of privilege, Arial has no hint of her past or who she belonged to. Her only link lies in the one thing that sets her apart from everyone else—telekinetic powers. Protected by her adoptive parents and hidden from the public to keep her gift secret, Ari is raised in the lap of luxury, and isolation. That is, until someone begins threatening her life.

Beau Devereaux is no stranger to the strange. As the head of Deveraux Security, he’s more than familiar with the realities of physic powers. So when a family friend approaches him about protecting his daughter, he’s more than ready to jump on board. What Beau isn’t prepared for is the extent of his attraction to his beautiful and powerful client. What began as a simple assignment, just another job, quickly turns personal as Beau discovers he’ll do anything at all to protect Ari. Even if it costs him his life.

The first thing I noticed when I got my happy hands on this book was the size. Clocking in at over 400 pages, IN HIS KEEPING is more than 100 pages longer than the first book in the Slow Burn series - which is a much needed thing. One of my issues with book 1 was that it wasn't fleshed out enough and felt rushed, so first assumptions on size alone (minds out of the gutter, people!), made me happy.

I didn't get a good feel for Beau in book 1, but I swear I loved him on sight (so it's easy to see why Ari feel so fast and hard). He's rough and tough and hard in all the right ways that make this a fantastic (if not a little cliche) romance.

Ari was a beacon of light in this book. I enjoyed her innocence and softness - a nice contrast to the brashness of Beau, but she also made some ridiculous decisions that made me sigh. Frequently.

The romance may give readers some whiplash because of how fast it happens, but one thing I actually enjoyed was that Maya Banks didn't rely on a lot of sex to sell the romance here. There was one major scene but the rest was teasing innuendos and kinda sweet. It was a nice change and gave more time for the plot line to breathe.

There are subtle little moments that nicely set up book 3 in a few months, and I cannot wait to get my hands on that book. I think Banks fans will already have this on their auto-order list, but if you're new to her books or looking for a light paranormal romance, I definitely recommend the Slow Burn series.
Buy:  Amazon

Jan 28, 2015

Blog Tour: The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

Welcome to my stop on THE WINNER"S CURSE blog tour. Today I was posed with the question:

The ‘Winner’s Curse’ is an economics term that means you’ve gotten what you wanted – but at too high a price.  What would you pay too much for?

I do spend an insane amount of money on books (but I don't think that's paying too much). One thing I spend waaaay too much money on is .... makeup. 


If you follow me on any form of social media then you likely see my makeup driven shopping trips, pictures of makeup hauls, and that's just the tip of the eyeliner. I have a serious obsession and sadly spend entirely too much money.

Winning what you want may cost you everything you love.

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions. 

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. 

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined. 

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.


Book two of the dazzling Winner's Trilogy is a fight to the death as Kestrel risks betrayal of country for love.

The engagement of Lady Kestrel to Valoria’s crown prince means one celebration after another. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making. As the wedding approaches, she aches to tell Arin the truth about her engagement…if she could only trust him. Yet can she even trust herself? For—unknown to Arin—Kestrel is becoming a skilled practitioner of deceit: an anonymous spy passing information to Herran, and close to uncovering a shocking secret.

As Arin enlists dangerous allies in the struggle to keep his country’s freedom, he can’t fight the suspicion that Kestrel knows more than she shows. In the end, it might not be a dagger in the dark that cuts him open, but the truth. And when that happens, Kestrel and Arin learn just how much their crimes will cost them.

Marie Rutkoski is the author of the YA novel The Shadow Society and the children's fantasy series The Kronos Chronicles, including The Cabinet of WondersThe Celestial Globe and The Jewel of the Kalderash. Her next project is a YA trilogy that begins with The Winner's Curse, which is scheduled to be published in March 2014. 

Marie grew up in Bolingbrook, Illinois (a suburb of Chicago), as the oldest of four children. She holds a BA from the University of Iowa and a PhD from Harvard University. Marie is currently a professor at Brooklyn College, where she teaches Renaissance Drama, children's literature and fiction writing. She lives in New York City with her husband and two sons.


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Jan 27, 2015

Discussion: All About Fan Fic

Today, my friends, I would like to talk about fanfiction and publishing and why it's OK.

It seems like every other week I'm seeing a headline about a new author emerging from the fanfiction 'verse and making a splash on everything from Amazon to the NYT Best-Seller List. I'm sure you can name at least one book - whether you like it or not - that was born in the world of fanfiction. It also seems like people, bloggers especially, are either very anti-fanfiction or very pro with little gray area in between. 

I started writing fanfiction before I even knew it was called that. It started off because I would fall in love with a TV show and typically a specific pairing (or ship). If my ship didn't get the storyline I wanted, I gave it to them. Around 2001, I found my way to several online sites (like fanfiction.net) where not only was fanfic the norm, but it was embraced openly. Proudly. But these communities were quiet and not into making waves.

I spent the better part of a decade inside these places - forming lasting friendships and indulging in every creative fantasy I could come up with. I found people, fangirls and fanboys, who I could be myself around. I didn't have to hide that I was a massive TV addict who loved fantasy land more than her nursing classes and studying. I created my own website for my fanfiction where at the peak of it's time had several thousand followers. I could posted a new chapter and within minutes have a dozen reviews. As a writer, this instant feedback was beyond helpful. I can clearly see how my writing quickly evolved because trust me: hell hath no fury like a fandom done wrong. Writing a character out of character (OOC) was the equivalent of failing a final exam. 

But slowly I started backing away from fanfiction writing. My interests shifted after a few fandom wars. I mean, you think bloggers have fights? Authors behave badly?You haven't seen online carnage until you've pitted 2 rival ships against each other. I also started reading more and writing less and that evolved into blogging. The more I got into blogging, the more I drifted away from the fanfiction, almost forgetting about it until one book was suddenly everywhere.

Fifty Shades of Gray pulled fanfiction out of the shadows and straight into the spotlight. Suddenly everyone was weighing in on fanfiction and its merits and did author E.L. James even deserve any credit? Shouldn't Stephenie Meyer being calling her army of attorneys and filing a lawsuit? IS THE WORLD IMPLODING AROUND US?! Charlatans are making millions off someone else's work!

Calm down, OK? Calm the frak down.

Here's the Wiki definition of fanfiction:

Fan fiction or fanfiction (also abbreviated to fan ficfanfic or fic) is fiction about characters or settings from an original work of fiction, created by fans of that work rather than by its creator. It is a popular form of fan labor, particularly since the advent of the internet.

What this doesn't get into are the many facets of fanfiction - because it is NOT one fic fits all. There are more genres of fanfiction than I can count. From AU (alternate universe) to Canon (elements established in the original work) and Original Characters (OC) to Crossovers (merging two or more fandoms and their characters together), fanfic is much more involved than you think. (Definition Source)

So let's take Fifty. This is an example of an AU story. That mean E.L. James took already created characters but put them in a whole new world while maintaining characteristics or original characters - a world she created with new plots, new settings, and new dialogue. 

If this is true, then what about retellings? Is it OK to recreate a fairy tale with an updated setting and plot, but still using the same characters? Or is it only OK because the Brothers Grimm aren't around to file a lawsuit?

Isn't JANE by April Lindner (which I love and is amazing) nothing more than Jane Eyre fan fiction? I just finished SCARLET by A.C. Gaughen which was so freaking good, but isn't that  also considered Robin Hood fanfiction?

Most recently Anna Todd is catching a lot of flack because her debut, AFTER, is based off fanfiction of a real-life celebrity. People think it's creepy and wrong and shouldn't be published. I haven't read this series yet, but I might. 

So, let me ask you this: What do you think historical fiction is? It's taking a real life figure and making a fictional story about them or events they were involved in. Is it only all right because those people are dead? 

Fanfiction writers don't have some magic formula where they have an idea and poof - it appears online. They do exactly what other writers do - they sit down and write. And write. And write some more. They edit, they interact with readers and receive positive and negative feedback. I wrote a fic once what took me 6 months to write. It was work

I guess the point of this is I'm tired of a fanfic hating and people saying that writing fan fiction is inferior to original fiction and that these authors don't deserve credit for the words they've written and hours they've worked.

Maybe you hate fan fiction, maybe you write fan fiction. Maybe you still have no clue what fan fiction is. If S.E. Hinton and Meg Cabot can write fan fiction, why can't I?

Jan 26, 2015

Review: The Originals - The Rise by Julie Plec

Title: The Originals: The Rise
Author: Julie Plec
Publisher: HQN Books
Publication Date: 1.27.2015
Pages: 352
Genre: TV novelization, Historical, Romance, Paranormal
Series: The Originals #1
Source: eARC from publisher

Rating: 4 Stars

Summary (from Goodreads):
Family is power. The Original vampire family swore it to each other a thousand years ago. They pledged to remain together always and forever. But even when you're immortal, promises are hard to keep. 

Arriving in New Orleans in 1722, Original vampire siblings Klaus, Elijah and Rebekah Mikaelson believe they've escaped their dangerous past. But the city is lawless, a haven for witches and werewolves unwilling to share territory. The siblings are at their mercy…especially after Klaus meets the beautiful and mysterious Vivianne. Her impending marriage is key to ending the war between the supernatural factions—and Klaus's attraction to her could destroy the uneasy alliance. As Elijah works toward securing a piece of the city for his family, and Rebekah fights her unexpected feelings for a French captain, will Klaus's volatile desires bring their world crashing down—and tear them apart for good?

A prequel book series to one of my favorite TV series?YES, PLEASE!

I was so excited to see 3 of my favorite Originals getting their own backstory. I mean, we've learned a lot about Elijah, Klaus, and Rebekah from flashbacks in both their namesake show and The Vampire Diaries, but those were always so limited. THE RISE dives into the Mikaelson family rise to power (along with some heartache) in New Orleans their first time around.

Now some may argue that this book is little more than officially sanctioned fan fiction, and to an extent, it is. But what I love is that as a fan of the show I loved the filler this novel provided with more insight into what drives these three immortal creatures. But I can also see how someone with limited to no knowledge of the show could pick up this book and not be completely lost. There is enough detail that this book could be read by someone who has never watched the show.

The other high point of this for me was the romance. It wasn't skimpy and I was surprised at how ... detailed some of the romance scenes were. I mean, this is Harlequin, so by those standards it might be considered tame, but I was still a little surprised, but in a good way.

I can see how readers that are not fans of the show might roll their eyes and cry, "Insta-love!" but they need to understand that this is how these vampires operate. They know how long their lives are (not to mention impulsive) and how short human lives are, so there's little need for pretenses and games with them. They see what they want, they take what they want. The End.

Fans of the show will love reading this, but I'm also excited for non-watchers to engage with these three. I think they'll truly enjoy it.
Purchase The Originals: The Rise

Jan 25, 2015

ApollyCon Featured Author: Chelsea Cameron

ApollyCon Featured Author: Chelsea Cameron

About the Author

Chelsea M. Cameron is a New York Times/USA Today Best Selling author from Maine. Lover of things random and ridiculous, Jane Austen/Charlotte and Emily Bronte Fangirl, red velvet cake enthusiast, obsessive tea drinker, vegetarian, former cheerleader and world's worst video gamer. When not writing, she enjoys watching infomercials, singing in the car and tweeting (this one time, she was tweeted by Neil Gaiman). She has a degree in journalism from the University of Maine, Orono that she promptly abandoned to write about the people in her own head. More often than not, these people turn out to be just as weird as she is.

Her New Adult Contemporary Romance titles include My Favorite Mistake, which has been bought by Harlequin along with a sequel, My Sweetest Escape (January 28, 2014), Deeper We Fall and Faster We Burn and For Real (November 14, 2013) and the novella, Christmas Catch (November 1, 2014).

Her Young Adult books include Nocturnal, Nightmare, Neither and Neverend (The Noctalis Chronicles) and Whisper, the first in The Whisper Trilogy. The second and third books in the series, Silence and Listen, will be out in 2014.

Her Adult Contemporary Romance titles include Sweet Surrendering, and coming soon, Surrendering to Us and Dark Surrendering.


Recent Release

Ryder Blythe is is a disaster. A red-headed, tattooed, dirty-talking disaster. But that doesn't stop Sloane Harris from being totally and absolutely attracted to him. She knows he's bad news, but she can't fight the way she feels.

Plus, it's hard to avoid him since he's her best friend's fiancé's brother. But Sloane can't ignore the issues Ryder has following his unintentional overdose. Ryder flirts with darkness and Sloane's not sure if she can fight being dragged down with him.

It seems like only a matter of time before Ryder will self-destruct. Is Sloane willing to take that risk? Or will Ryder finally get his life together and become the man she needs?

Other Titles

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Jan 24, 2015

ApollyCon Featured Author: Katie McGarry

ApollyCon Featured Author: Katie McGarry

About the Author

KATIE MCGARRY was a teenager during the age of grunge and boy bands and remembers those years as the best and worst of her life. She is a lover of music, happy endings, and reality television, and is a secret University of Kentucky basketball fan.


Recent Release

A summer road trip changes everything in this unforgettable new tale from acclaimed author Katie McGarry

For new high school graduate Echo Emerson, a summer road trip out west with her boyfriend means getting away and forgetting what makes her so... different. It means seeing cool sights while selling her art at galleries along the way. And most of all, it means almost three months alone with Noah Hutchins, the hot, smart, soul-battered guy who’s never judged her. Echo and Noah share everything — except the one thing Echo’s just not ready for.

But when the source of Echo’s constant nightmares comes back into her life, she has to make some tough decisions about what she really wants — even as foster kid Noah’s search for his last remaining relatives forces them both to confront some serious truths about life, love, and themselves.

Now, with one week left before college orientation, jobs and real life, Echo must decide if Noah's more than the bad-boy fling everyone warned her he'd be. And the last leg of an amazing road trip will turn... seriously epic.

Other Titles

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Jan 23, 2015

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Shoalman Immortal by Toni Decker

Welcome to the end of the SHOALMAN IMMORTAL blog tour. Toni Decker is a phenomenal writing duo that I have had the privilege of knowing for some time now - they are two of the funnest, charming, and endearing women I've ever encountered and I love having them around. I was even blessed to read a super early copy of book one, and now here I am to present Chapter 5 of book 2, SHOALMAN IMMORTAL:

Falling in love was never supposed to be part of the picture.
Kyrissa Spears was born with a powerful, and deadly, gift. When she paints, she captures emotions so strong they cankill.Desperate to find a teacher capable ofhelping her unlock and controlher abilities, Kyrissa'ssearch leads her toan artist who may be able to help her.And he's the one person she can't accidentally kill.
After five centuries of pain and loneliness, Robert Shoalman craves release from his immortality. He's all but given up hope until he meets the beautiful and intriguing Kyrissa.She could paint his death and break the curse, but at the cost of destroying her gift and being lost to him forever—none of which will matter if the demon hunting him finds them first.

About Toni Decker:
Who is Toni Decker?
Two authors telling one sizzling story after another about twenty-somethings getting along in their own crazy, fantastical
worlds. Both women are wives and mothers, sharing brain cells and characters as if they only exist with the other.
Toni, one half of the Toni Decker brain, is an avid reader of all things Young and New Adult while Kira, the Decker half of Toni Decker brain, devours fantasy for midnight snacks.

Together, their stories are one part New Adult, one part Fantasy and three parts of Holy Hotness.

We leave it up to the readers to decide who writes which character.
You can follow our journey on:

GoodreadsToni Decker
WordpressToni Decker Books
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Week 1:
Jan. 12 - Krista's Dust Jacket / Guest Post
Jan. 13 - Poisoned Rationality / Chapter Reveal
Jan. 14 - The Book Swarm / Guest Post
Jan. 15 - BookShelfery / Chapter Reveal
Jan. 16 - Step Into Fiction / Guest Post

Week 2:
Jan. 19 - Winterhaven Books / Chapter Reveal
Jan. 20 - Jenuine Cupcakes / Guest Post
Jan. 21 - Reads All The Books / Chapter Reveal
Jan. 22 - Read-Love-Blog / Guest Post
Jan. 23 - The Irish Banana Review / Chapter Reveal

Jan 22, 2015

ARC Essentials: Penguin Teen

ARC Essentials is a series I've posts I've done wherein I interview publicists about how bloggers (new and old) should go about requesting those beautiful ARCs for review. I am so freaking excited to have Rachel Lodi, Digital Associate Publicist for Penguin, here today to talk about Penguin Teen. 

1. What should I include when asking for a review copy (Page view stats? Follower count? All social media accounts)?
When asking for a review copy, please use the forms on our Penguin Teen Tumblr page located here: http://penguinteen.tumblr.com/bloggers. There are 2 forms—a blogger registration form and a galley request form. Here, you can enter your stats (most important are Unique page views per month and social media reach). There is also an explanation section where you can elaborate. If you have registered your blog, the galley request form should be super easy, and you won’t need to enter much new information.

2. How long should I be blogging before I ask for a review copy?
We’re less concerned with the length of time that you have been blogging and focus more on the consistency of posts, social presence, and reliability. If you’re a new blog, it definitely doesn’t hurt to request!

3. Who should I contact about receiving review copies?
You should use the galley request forms on the Penguin Teen Tumblr first. I am the digital publicist, monitor these forms daily (almost obsessively!), and add all requests to separate spreadsheets that are specific to each book. When the time comes to begin a campaign, I will first look at these spreadsheets when deciding who to reach out to, so I highly encourage you to use the request forms.

4. Should I email an author about obtaining a review copy and have them forward my request onto their publicist?
I don’t recommend emailing the author since I would prefer you go through our channels (so nothing gets lost). If you do email the author, they will likely pass it on to the publicist or to me, but we wouldn’t want anything to slip through the cracks!

5. Do you expect me to review books I never requested, such as an ARC or finished copy I was sent but never asked for?
If we send you a book that you have not asked for, it usually means that we have looked at your past interests and preferences and thought that you might like the book. We do these kinds of mailings when we are looking for review coverage, so yes, we would love you to review it! However, if you don’t want to, you are not obligated.

6. When is the best time to post a review?
Right around the pub date is best. We like reviews to come out when the book is on sale, but coverage in the few weeks prior is okay too. If you review in advance, it would be great if you could mention that it is available for pre-order and then do another post (or social media mention) at the on sale date and say that the book is out now.

7. Where can I send in review links?
You can send them to me at rlodi@penguinrandomhouse.com.

8. Do you want to see all reviews I’ve done—positive and negative?
We always love positive reviews J. But you should definitely be honest in all of your reviews. If you feel uncomfortable giving a negative review and would rather do an interview with an author or run a giveaway instead, that is certainly fine.

9. Am I more likely to get approved if I request an eARC of a book instead of a physical copy?
That doesn’t really make a difference. It’s certainly helpful for me and cuts down on the number of things I have to mail.

10. When is the best time to request a book or be asked to be put on a list to receive a review copy?
When you’re using the forms, I can see the date that you have requested the book (and you only need to do this once!). It depends on the book when the campaign will begin/when I will begin contacting people, but I would say that you can feel free to request as far in advance as you would like, but note that I still won’t be contacting people about that book until about 2 months in advance.

11. Do you have a catalog mailing list for bloggers that I can request to be a part of?
We have a digital catalog mailing that goes out. Some bloggers may already be on this list, and we are not going to be doing printed catalogs in the future. I am compiling a list of bloggers who should be receiving this seasonal mailing. The fall 2015 one is next, so look out for that. If you are not on this mailing list, you can still request the pdf link.

12. If I want to interview an author or ask them to write a guest post for my blog, is it best to contact the author directly?
It is best to contact me, and I can help facilitate. Generally when an author gets a request, they will forward it along to the publicist or schedule it themselves, but we always want to be kept in the loop about these kinds of things!

13. Anything else you would like to add that you think bloggers should/need to know?
We very much appreciate all that you do, and keep it up! I look forward to working with you all in the future.

Thanks, Rachel!!!

And now, time for a giveaway! Want to win a package of 5 Penguin Teen books including:

Kalahari ARC
Mosquitoland ARC
The 5th Wave pb
Half Bad pb
Dove Arising ARC

Enter below:

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*Winner must have a US mailing address / Must be over 13 to enter / The Irish Banana Review is not responsible for any unsent, damaged, stolen or lost prizes sent by a third party*

Jan 21, 2015

Cover Reveal: All Played Out by Cora Carmack


First person in her family to go to college? CHECK.
Straight A’s? CHECK.
On track to graduate early? CHECK.
Social life? …..yeah, about that….

With just a few weeks until she graduates, Antonella DeLuca’s beginning to worry that maybe she hasn’t had the full college experience. (Okay... Scratch that. She knows she hasn't had the full college experience).

So Nell does what a smart, dedicated girl like herself does best. She makes a "to do" list of normal college activities.

Item #1? Hook up with a jock.

Rusk University wide receiver Mateo Torres practically wrote the playbook for normal college living. When he’s not on the field, he excels at partying, girls, and more partying. As long as he keeps things light and easy, it's impossible to get hurt... again. But something about the quiet, shy, sexy-as-hell Nell gets under his skin, and when he learns about her list, he makes it his mission to help her complete it.

Torres is the definition of confident (And sexy. And wild), and he opens up a side of Nell that she's never known. But as they begin to check off each crazy, exciting, normal item, Nell finds that her frivolous list leads to something more serious than she bargained for. And while Torres is used to taking risks on the field, he has to decide if he's willing to take the chance when it's more than just a game.

Together they will have to decide if what they have is just part of the experiment or a chance at something real. 

Pre-Order Your Copy Today!

And don’t miss the first two books in the Rusk University Series…



About Cora Carmack:

Cora Carmack is a twenty-something writer who likes to write about twenty-something characters. She's done a multitude of things in her life-- boring jobs (like working retail), Fun jobs (like working in a theatre), stressful jobs (like teaching), and dream jobs (like writing). She enjoys placing her characters in the most awkward situations possible, and then trying to help them get a boyfriend out of it. Awkward people need love, too. Her first book, LOSING IT, was a New York Times and USA Today bestseller.