Jul 31, 2011

Summer Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the Summer Giveaway Hop, hosted by the awesome gals from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and Bookhounds. On this stop in the hop you can win:

A hardback, first edition copy of Crusade by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie. This is the first in the Crusade series. The sequel, Damned, hits shelves August 30. This gives you a chance to catch up on the series just in time for book 2.

Goodreads Blurb:
For the past two years, Jenn has lived and trained at Spain’s Sacred Heart Academy Against the Cursed Ones. She is among the few who have pledged to defend humanity or die trying. But the vampires are gaining power, and the battle has only just begun.

Forced to return home after death takes a member of her family, Jenn discovers that San Francisco is now a vampire strong-hold. As a lone hunter apart from her team, Jenn is isolated — and at risk. She craves the company of her fighting partner, Antonio: his protection, his reassurance, his touch. But a relationship with Antonio comes with its own dangers, and the more they share of themselves, the more Jenn stands to lose.
Then Jenn is betrayed by one who was once bound to protect her, causing her to doubt all she had held as true. To survive, Jenn must find the courage to trust herself — and her heart.

This book has it all: romance, action, snark, and most importantly a cast of characters you will adore.

How you win:

I'm making this stop incredibly easy. All you have to do is be a follower on GFC and leave me a comment here with your email address & GFC name so I can verify you're a follower.

Also? If you have a blog of your own leave me a link and I'll be sure to follow you back.  :)

*Don't forget to enter my giveaway of the If I Die by Rachel Vincent ARC. That contest will end August 15, and you can enter HERE.

Jul 26, 2011



I have an ARC of "If I Die" by Rachel Vincent that I'm giving away. This is book 5 in the Soul Screamers series and won't be published until October. If you haven't read the series, consider this your written invitation.

July 26-August 15, 2011

1. Must be a GFC follower of The Irish Banana Review
2. Must live in the US and have a valid US address (no P.O. Boxes)
3. Must be over 13
4. I will email the winner (so make sure your email address is valid) and they will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is selected.
5. Have fun!

Extra Entries:
1. Follow me on Twitter: @irish_banana  ~ +1 Entry
2. Friend me on Goodreads: Hannah        ~ +1 Entry
3. Tweet/Blog about this giveaway           ~ +3 Entries
4. Reply to any of my reviews                  ~ +5 Entries (for fun you can reply to 2 reviews for 10 entries)



Jul 25, 2011

Guest Author Post: Bryan Cohen

If That's True
By Bryan Cohen

When I was learning to do improvised comedy in college, my team's first coach, Ross White, uttered a phrase that changed my thinking when creating any type of scene in a book or a show. This phrase has changed the way I think about characters and plot forever.

The phrase was: "If that's true, what else is true."

This short, seemingly simple phrase is a beacon of creative energy. I used the phrase thoroughly in my construction of my new book Ted Saves the World. In the story, an average, forgettable teenage boy gains super powers just seconds after he's broken up with at the small town's family diner.

After creating this situation, I applied the phrase. If Ted has just received super powers in a town where everybody practically knows each other, then the knowledge of his super powers is going to spread. If his identity as a super hero spreads in the world of today, practically everybody in the world will hear about it very quickly in a culture with a 24/7 news cycle. If everybody knows about it, that means the villains will know about it too and they'll be able to track him down easily and effectively.

Later on in the Ted Saves the World series, I will be applying this "if that's true, what else is true" idea even further to the universe. If Ted is a super hero known by the rest of the world, then people will flock to his town, rejuvenating the local economy. It also means that Ted and the people around him are constantly in danger.

Another character in the world of the book, Erica, is a beautiful, blond cheerleader who was murdered shortly before the events of Ted Saves the World. She is resurrected by an ancient spirit to protect Ted as he tries to become a savior of the world. By applying the phrase to her, I came up with a mysterious subplot. If Erica's former body inhabitant was murdered, that means that someone out there killed her and may want to do it again to cover his tracks.

It's crazy that even a tiny phrase like the one Ross shared with me could affect me over a decade later. I'm glad that I listened. And if it's true that I listened and learned from the phrase, maybe it's true that I can apply it for the rest of my life.


Description of Ted Saves the World (Available for just $0.99):
A possessed cheerleader. A cursed gang of criminals. Mysterious telekinetic powers. An angry ex-girlfriend in gym class? One second, sophomore in high school Ted endures his first breakup in his favorite place in town. The next, a mysterious blue light turns him into a worldwide superhero sensation for taking down a posse of grisly murderers. As his views on YouTube increase and his friend Dhiraj tries to capitalize on the marketing potential, his dangers increase as well when a presumed-dead cheerleader begins taking a personal interest. Can Ted survive his first week as a superhero in the public eye? This novella is the first taste in a series of full-length novels about the adventures of Ted Finley and Erica LaPlante. The book is also available on Barnes & Noble and Smashwords for $0.99.

Bryan Cohen is giving away four $25 Amazon gift cards, one for each week of his month long blog tour. To enter, simply comment with your e-mail address (feel free to substitute @ with (at) or other tricks to stop spammers from getting it). Bryan will draw the four names at the end of the tour, picking one entrant at random from each week’s set of blog posts. Entries will be counted through Monday, August 15th, 2011. Enter on as many sites as you want, follow the tour at Build Creative Writing Ideas. If Ted reaches the Top 100 on Amazon at any point during the tour, a fifth $25 card will be added to the giveaway.

Bryan Cohen is a writer, actor and comedian from Dresher, Pennsylvania. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2005 with degrees in English and Dramatic Art and a minor in Creative Writing. He has written seven books including 1,000 Creative Writing Prompts: Ideas for Blogs, Scripts, Stories and More. Contact Bryan through his Ted Saves the World blog, his Build Creative Writing Ideas site or Twitter.

Jul 23, 2011

Review: Falling Under by Gwen Hayes

Title: Falling Under
Author: Gwen Hayes
Publisher:  New American Library
Publication Date: 3.1.2011
Pages: 324
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series:  Yes (Falling Under #1)

Rating: B+

Summary (from Goodreads):
Theia Alderson has always led a sheltered life in the small California town of Serendipity Falls. But when a devastatingly handsome boy appears in the halls of her school, Theia knows she's seen Haden before- not around town, but in her dreams.

As the Haden of both the night and the day beckons her closer one moment and pushes her away the next, the only thing Theia knows for sure is that the incredible pull she feels towards him is stronger than her fear.

And when she discovers what Haden truly is, Theia's not sure if she wants to resist him, even if the cost is her soul.

If I had to describe Falling Under in one word, it would be: quirky. I found this book to be strange, frustrating, amusing, sweet, and jaw-droppingly crazy at various times. Occasionally all at the same time. I can’t put my finger on exactly what it is about this book that has me so curious, but my curiosity has most definitely been piqued by this intro book into Gwen Hayes’ Falling Under series.

Theia is a great character. She is sweet and intuitive and very easy to like.  But she’s very much a trapped teenage girl, who is constantly watched (almost to an obsessive degree) by her father. I felt like his reasons for why he kept such a tight rein on Theia were tedious at best, but the parents of teenagers have done stranger things in real life so who am I to question motives in fiction?

Haden, the leading man, however was another story. I found myself strongly disliking him for a good portion of the book—not a good thing since this is the guy Theia is supposed to fall for. While Haden does get redeemed by the end (thus setting up book #2, Dreaming Awake), I find that I had a hard time forgetting his actions and the fact that he genuinely annoyed me for a good chunk of the novel. I will say that the romance between Theia and Haden sizzled and kept my attention throughout the book.

I found some parts of this book insanely absurd. So absurd that I told several friends, which made them run out and buy this book so they could read it for themselves. We all agreed, however, that there is some magic about this book that just works. Hayes has tapped into some recess of my brain that is craving to know more of this story. The end is somewhat frustrating, and there’s a bit of a wait for the next book. Needless to say, I will be armed with my copy of Dreaming Awake when it’s released in January to see what happens next.

Jul 20, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (6)

"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....
Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally.  
Here's the Goodreads blurb:
  What girl doesn't want to be surrounded by gorgeous jocks day in and day out? Jordan Woods isn't just surrounded by hot guys, though-she leads them as the captain and quarterback of her high school football team. They all see her as one of the guys, and that's just fine. As long as she gets her athletic scholarship to a powerhouse university. But now there's a new guy in town who threatens her starting position... suddenly she's hoping he'll see her as more than just a teammate.

Why I need to read this one:

My friend was actually the starting varsity quarterback for my high school senior year, and yes, she was a girl. Unfortunately she broke her ankle before the season started, so she was unable to play, but something about this book makes me think of her. I love football and I love strong women who blow apart gender stereotypes ... while still falling in love.
Catching Jordan will be released 12.1.2011 by Sourcebooks Fire

Jul 17, 2011

In My Mailbox (7)

Hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren, I thought this would be a great way to share the reads I got this week by purchasing, trading/swapping, or for review. All links lead to Goodreads. This covers the last several weeks. This week I got lazy and just took a picture instead of my normal collage. LOL, sorry.

For Review:
Deadly Cool by Gemma Halliday (Thanks HarperTeen for sending me this book!)
Isle of Night by Veronica Wolff (Thanks Penguin USA for this one!)

The A Circuit by Georgina Bloomberg & Catherina Hapka - Read my REVIEW HERE
Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later by Francine Pascal
Original Sin by Lisa Desrochers
If I Die by Rachel Vincent
Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken
The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson
Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma - Read my REVIEW HERE

Review: The A Circuit by Georgina Bloomberg & Catherina Hapka

Title: The A Circuit
Author: Georgina Bloomberg & Catherine Hapka
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books
Publication Date: 5.24.2011
Pages: 272
Genre: Contemporary, Sports
Series:  Yes (The A Circuit #1)

Rating: C+

Summary (from Goodreads):
The A Circuit is the top of the top when it comes to horse shows. It's a world with its own rules and superprivileged lifestyles. Teens travel the circuit all year, showing horses that cost as much as some homes.

Tommi, Kate, and Zara are all elite competitors on the circuit, but they come from totally different backgrounds. Tommi is a billionaire heiress trying to prove she has real talent (not just deep bank accounts). Kate puts the working in working student—every win has been paid for with hours of cleaning stalls. She's used to the grueling schedule, but Fitz, the barn's resident hot guy, is about to become a major distraction. And then there's Zara. She's the wild child of a famous rockstar, but she's ready to take riding seriously. Can a party girl really change her ways?

Readers who enjoy peeking into the elite world of Gossip Girl or The A-List will feel right at home in this new series with its friendships, drama, and privilege set against the backdrop of competitive horseback riding.

Allow me to begin by saying horse lovers will thoroughly enjoy this book. It’s a fun, light read and Catherine Hapka and Georgina Bloomberg truly immerse the reader in the world of competitive equestrian riding with charming characters that sparkle on the pages. Unfortunately, if you are a reader who doesn’t know much about horses or equestrian, I think this book will be a tough sell.

Hapka and Bloomberg throw equestrian jargon around with alarming frequency and do not always take the time to explain what things are. Some people might be confused by what “tack” is. Or where exactly a horse’s withers are and what posting is. Luckily I grew up owning horses and had a good friend who excelled in jumping and showing thoroughbreds, otherwise I might have felt quite a bit lost. I also believe this is where they will lose readers. This book really reads like Gossip Girl with horses, but unless you are a horse enthusiast or fan it doesn’t work. The quirky character traits that made Gossip Girl work fall flat here.

While the book was a breeze to read, by the end of it I felt hardly anything for the characters. I felt like I barely got to know them past the superficial level. I get that Kate and Tommi are best friends at the barn and occasionally hang out, but what makes them friends other than a strong love of horses? Take horses out of this book and it’s simply a bunch of kids standing around. I loved the horses more than I loved the main characters by the end. Like Zara—I understand the authors trying to vilify her, but to what end? She is a weak villain and a worthless friend. She irritated me to no end, and the small steps taken to make me like her meant nothing because she was such a whiny brat for all but the last two chapters.

This book isn’t a bad read. I’d recommend you snag it from the library if you want something mindless and unchallenging to read. If you love horses? Go buy it. You won’t be sorry. I just believe the writers have boxed themselves in by focusing so heavily on the horses that they lost sight of the characters. I hope they rectify that issue in the next book.

Jul 16, 2011

Review: Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

Title: Forbidden
Author: Tabitha Suzuma
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: 6.28.2011
Pages: 464
Genre: Contemporary
Series: No

Rating: A+

Summary (from Goodreads):
Seventeen-year-old Lochan and sixteen-year-old Maya have always felt more like friends than siblings. Together they have stepped in for their alcoholic, wayward mother to take care of their three younger siblings. As defacto parents to the little ones, Lochan and Maya have had to grow up fast. And the stress of their lives--and the way they understand each other so completely--has also brought them closer than two siblings would ordinarily be. So close, in fact, that they have fallen in love. Their clandestine romance quickly blooms into deep, desperate love. They know their relationship is wrong and cannot possibly continue. And yet, they cannot stop what feels so incredibly right. As the novel careens toward an explosive and shocking finale, only one thing is certain: a love this devastating has no happy ending.

I was never sure I would work up the nerve to read this book, and if I ever did it would be in the hidden seclusion of my room at night behind a locked door. And then if I finally dared to read it, I would never openly admit that this book has won a special place in my heart for all time.

Except that is exactly what has happened.

Forget the taboo for a moment. Forget that a brother and sister falling in love sounds like a trashy Lifetime movie of the week. What this entire story breaks down into is the story of a broken boy falling for a shattered girl, and the fact that these two people are the only ones in the world who understand one another. It literally is Lochan and Maya against the world and the fact that these two soul mates are related makes it all the more tragic.

The incest storyline aside, this story is powerful and poignant. The writing is sharp and on point, and the characters are people I fell hard and fast for. Not just Lochan and Maya, but Willa and Tiffin and Kit. I love this entire family, flaws and all.

This is hands down the most difficult review I have ever tried to write because no matter how much I loved this pairing and wanted it to work, I can’t shove aside my instinct to recoil at the subject matter. It was like two halves of me warred against each other the entire time I was reading this, which is nothing but a compliment to Tabitha Suzuma. She made me actually begin to accept something that in everyday life would repulse me, a feat few writers have been able to do.

Jul 9, 2011

Congratulations - Freedom Giveaway Hop Winners!

Just wanted to say congrats to my two winners of the Freedom Giveaway Hop Challenge. I said if The Irish Banana Review hit over 300 followersw during the contest I would give two books away, and we well surpassed that number!

So, hi to all of my awesome new followers! If you have your own blog, leave me a comment because I'd love to follow you back!

Both winners were chosen by random.org. The numbers selected were #4 and #98.

Susanna from SusieBookworm! Make sure y'all check out her blog:

Marlene from Book Lover and Procrastinator! She also has a blog, which I think you should see:

Thanks so everyone who participated in the hop. Check back soon for my next giveaway!

Jul 3, 2011

R.A.K. ~ June Thanks!

RAK is hosted by Book Soulmates. Its a way to pass on the book love.
Here is my WISHLIST for July. 
If you want to participate this month sign up is HERE.
June Thanks:
Megan @ Amethyst Daydreams gifted me a copy of Outside In by Maria V. Snyder!
Thanks again, Megan!!!

• Sign up each month you'd like to participate in.
• Show off your participation! Grab one of the buttons available :)
• Create a wishlist and post it in the Google Doc located in each R.A.K post for the month.
{Post on your blog, Amazon, where ever as long as there's a link to it.}
• If you choose to do a R.A.K for someone, check out their wishlist and contact that blogger for their address.
• At the end of the month, SHOW US YOUR R.A.K!
{Make a post saying 'Thank You' to whoever granted one of your wishes}

Once Upon A Readathon!

Once Upon a Read-a-Thon

I'm proud to announce I will be participating in the "Once Upon A Readathon" this July 11-13. The idea is to read as many books as possible in those three days.

My goal is to read 5 books. Luckily I'm on vacation and will be at the beach then, so hopefully I can accomplish my goal! I'm already eyeballing my bookshelf for what books I should take on vacation, but there are so many to choose from...

Maybe I'll set up a poll so you guys can vote on what I take?

Review: Tris and Izzie by Mette Ivie Harrison

Title: Tris and Izzie
Author: Mette Ivie Harrison
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Publication Date: 10.11.2011
Pages: 272
Genre: Romance, Arthurian Legend
Series: No

Rating: D-

Summary (from Goodreads):
A modern retelling of the German fairytale "Tristan and Isolde", Tris and Izzie is about a young witch named Izzie who is dating Mark King, the captain of the basketball team and thinks her life is going swimmingly well. Until -- she makes a love potion for her best friend Brangane and then ends up taking it herself accidentally, and falling in love with Tristan, the new guy at school.

If you are 13 and have no knowledge of the legend of Tristan and Iseult there is a chance that you may like this book. But it’s probably a very, very slim chance. This book was quite possibly the biggest let-down of my reading year, maybe because I had some seriously high hopes for it.

Nevermind the fact that the book makes a mockery of the Arthurian legend of Tristan and Iseult (Isolde) or that the plot jumps around more than a sleep deprived, over-caffeinated teenager, but the characters in this are just flat out annoying. Our heroine, Izzie, is a whiny, self-indulgent child who irritated me to no end.

When Izzie makes the potion for her best friend, Branna, she makes it in the hopes of finding a true love for her best friend. But she doesn’t give the potion to a guy she knows Branna likes, or even a guy she’s known for more than five minutes. She literally meets Tristan, decides he’s open for business and basically forces the potion down Tristan’s throat. Then Branna refuses to drink, and Izzie’s boyfriend, Mark, reaches for the bottle. God-forbid Tristan and Mark fall in love, so Izzie drinks it herself.

She drinks the potion. She doesn’t simply drop it and say, “Clumsy me.” She drinks the potion knowing full-well what will happen, and then spends the next ten chapters complaining about it. Did I mention she didn’t even tell her best friend she was manipulating her into falling in love forever? Some friendship.

Not that Branna is much better. She is seriously the worst best friend I have ever read in a novel. And Gwen, Izzie’s mother, is quite possibly a contender for Worst Mother of the Year. When Izzie confesses she drank the potion and she and Tristan are now stuck together and Mark will be devastated, Gwen pretty much says that sucks for Izzie, but it’s not her problem. Way to help your daughter, Gwen. Kudos.

I found the romance thin and anticlimactic. The scenes where Izzie and Tristan were together gave you whiplash because Izzie threw herself at Tristan and the next page slapped him for lying to her. Uh, pot meet the kettle? The whole book was ludicrous, which is a shame because the legend of Tristan and Iseult is a great story.