Publisher: Putnam Juvenile

Monday, March 23, 2015

Interview with Jennifer Banash + Giveaway!

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After reading and loving Silent Alarm a few weeks ago (read my review here), I’m happy to have had the chance to interview its author, Jennifer Banash, for y’all today! And in case you hadn’t stumbled on it yet, here’s a bit more on the book first:

Interview with Jennifer Banash + Giveaway!Silent Alarm by Jennifer Banash
Published by Putnam Juvenile on March 10th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, YA
Buy on Amazon

Alys’s whole world was comprised of the history project that was due, her upcoming violin audition, being held tightly in the arms of her boyfriend, Ben, and laughing with her best friend, Delilah. At least it was—until she found herself on the wrong end of a shotgun in the school library. Her suburban high school had become one of those places you hear about on the news—a place where some disaffected youth decided to end it all and take as many of his teachers and classmates with him as he could. Except, in this story, that youth was Alys’s own brother, Luke. He killed fifteen others and himself, but spared her—though she’ll never know why.

Alys’s downward spiral begins instantly, and there seems to be no bottom. A heartbreaking and beautifully told story.

Interview with Jennifer Banash

What inspired you to write on the topic of school shootings?

I was reading about the 2012 shooting in Chardon, Ohio, and when I came to the end of the article, it mentioned the fact that the shooter had a sister only a year younger. Although the real life sister didn’t attend the same school as her brother, I began thinking, what if? I wondered what it would be like to live in the same town where your own brother had committed such an unfathomable act of violence—would you have seen it coming? My heart went out her, and I knew I wanted to tell this story. And so Silent Alarm was born.

Silent Alarm revolves around some very dark and emotional subjects, what was the hardest part of writing this novel?

The hardest part was writing the opening scene, which is the day of the shooting. I’m a high school teacher, and in order to make the scene believable in a way that would resonate with the reader, I had to tap into some of my darkest fears. What happens when we, as educators, can no longer trust our students? This is a question I think about a lot, as you can imagine. Our job is not only to educate, to teach skills, but to keep our charges safe from harm. No one wants to think about the possibility that you could go off to school one day, a place you previously thought of as a protected environment, and be anything but.

What does your writing process look like? Do you outline the story or go with the flow?

I don’t outline. It never works anyway. And my books aren’t terribly plot driven in the first place. I’m more interested in exploring one moment in a characters life than creating a super arc of events. I trust my characters to tell their stories, to take me where they need to go.

How do you go about creating your main character? Do you base her personality off someone you know?

Usually I don’t. I may borrow things from people I know, such as names, or talents, but the personality that emerges from my protagonists usually does so pretty organically. The challenge with Alys’ character was that she’s so defined by the shooting that the reader only gets to know who she was before through characterization and flashbacks. And there’s such a difference between the girl Alys was before her brother killed 15 people, then himself, and after. It’s an enormous divide.

Do you have any favorite quotes or a favorite passage in the book you want to share?

I really like the following passage because it really illustrate how it feels to have everything you’ve believed to be true about your life ripped away from you—which is exactly how Alys feels—dislocated.
“Before yesterday, we were a normal family. Normal. Camp in the summer and igloo forts in the winter. Icees made from the first snowfall, sugar and drops of food coloring melting on our tongues in a pink slush. Two parents, two cars. The low moan of a cello streaming from the speakers, the high-pitched burst of my violin punctuating the bustle and hum of our daily lives. Chocolate chip pancakes at IHOP on Sunday mornings. A white clapboard house with a manicured lawn, splashes of yellow roses lining the fence. Everything neat and tidy. Of course, now after what Luke has done, people will say, Oh, the Aronson’s. I always thought they were weird. But we weren’t. We were just like you. Except we weren’t. But we didn’t know it yet
But you knew it Luke, didn’t you?
Didn’t you.

About the Author

Jennifer Banash was born and raised in New York City. She now lives in Southern California with her beagle, Sigmund, and her vast collection of designer shoes.

Check out my blog at



Jennifer has generously offered up one finished SIGNED copy of Silent Alarm for giveaway!

Open to US addresses only
Giveaway ends April 6th, 2015
Use the Rafflecopter below to enter

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Review: Silent Alarm by Jennifer Banash

Review: Silent Alarm by Jennifer Banash

Posted by on 02/24/2015 • 8 Comments

This was very dark, very gritty, and very powerful. I have read a few books about school shootings, and while my favorite will always be Nineteen Minutes, this is one I’m not likely to forget any time soon.

Silent Alarm focuses more on after the fact than the shooting itself. We do see the event unfold, but the story is more about Alys having to live with what her brother did. As expected, there’s a great amount of grief, of guilt, of “what ifs” on her part. Her character is developed in a way that even though she closes herself off emotionally – self preservation and all – she still lets us in. With many emotional books like this, I keep myself at arm’s length due to the overwhelming…

Review: All Four Stars by Tara Dairman

Review: All Four Stars by Tara Dairman

Posted by on 07/10/2014 • 10 Comments

After reading serious book after serious book and then topping it off with a gore-filled horrorfest novel, I didn’t think there could be a better cleanse for my palate than a sweet MG read. I was wrong, there was something better, a sweet MG read that is full of the most luscious, tasty food descriptions that I have ever come across! All Four Stars by Tara Dairman is a wonderful middle grade read that makes you fall for it’s voracious MC and also leaves your mouth watering like no book I have read before.

This book along with my last read are leaving me thinking that I am warming up to third person perspective. Of course I know that in these two instances it’s just cases of the POV being…

Review: Conversion by Katherine Howe

Review: Conversion by Katherine Howe

Posted by on 07/01/2014 • 20 Comments

This is the second time I have been let down by a book with nearly the same premise. Sure Megan Abbott’s, The Fever, goes in a different direction and has it’s own unique spin on a mystery illness taking over a school as it begins to afflict girls rapidly, but it’s easy to determine that the idea behind Abbott’s latest work and Conversion come from the same news story.

The main difference that I came away with from the two books was that while The Fever managed to have a dark tone and keep me interested in what the outcome would be, Conversion failed to do that and instead bored me for most of it. From the title and blurb it’s quite apparent that what the afflicted girls are dealing…

Review: Pointe by Brandy Colbert

Review: Pointe by Brandy Colbert

Posted by on 04/10/2014 • 24 Comments

I have mixed feelings towards Pointe and it leans closer to a 3.5 read. For one, it ended up being an incredibly heartbreaking, tragic, and important story. For another, it’s well written with a compelling narrator who’s a realistic portrayal of a teenager with a shattered self-esteem. And all of it is very very gritty. But, before you realize what it all has to do with the heart of the story, the book feels like it’s dodging the real issue at hand with the introduction of tons of others. It kept circling around the actual kidnapping for so long – which was what attracted me to this book in the first place – that I started to feel let down at about the half way mark. It makes us wait…

Review: Frozen by Melissa de la Cruz

Review: Frozen by Melissa de la Cruz

Posted by on 08/27/2013 • 34 Comments

I haven’t read a book I could describe as truly terrible in a long time. I was surprised at every turn of a page that I was still reading it. I’m not really sure why I kept reading. A fruitless hope that it would suddenly turn into a good book? Or catch fire? Either way, this book has taken hours of my life I will never get back! ROBBERY! This is a book that, if read drunk… would still be terrible. Beer goggles can never be thick enough – well I guess once it blurs the words so much you have to make up your own…

Ok moving on.

How did I go about hating this book so much? Mostly the fact that this whole world is filled with nonsense…

Review: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

Posted by on 04/18/2013 • 30 Comments

Now THIS is how you write a book, ladies and gentleman! With the slew of dystopian and post apocalyptic novels coming out you can only imagine how refreshing it is to stumble upon a truly refreshing, incredibly well created novel about an alien apocalypse. And don’t let this term fool you, aliens may not be running rampant on our planet (yet), but Yancey has succeeded in making this event just as realistic as any other world disaster. Plus, in my opinion I think it’s a little naive to believe we’re the only life form with intelligence in the universe. Could this happen to us? Absolutely! I believe it!

Told via multiple perspectives, this novel begins with the introduction of our main character; Cassie. With a lot of luck, sure, but…