Saturday, July 14, 2018

A Chat With Tracy Banghart, Author of GRACE AND FURY

Today, I'm happy to host author Tracy Banghart! Her new novel, Grace and Fury, is one of the upcoming releases I'm most excited to check out. Keep reading to learn about her life, characters, and writing style. 


"Tracy Banghart grew up in rural Maryland and spent her summers on a remote island in northern Ontario. All of that isolation and lovely scenery gave her the time to read voraciously and the inspiration to write her own stories. Always a bit of a nomad, Tracy now travels the world Army-wife style with her husband, son, cat, and sweet pupper Scrabble."

(text and photo taken from Tracy's GoodReads profile
)
 
  
Can you tell us a little bit about how Italian culture inspired the world in Grace and Fury? 

I studied abroad in Florence when I was in college and have loved Italy ever since. When I started brainstorming Grace and Fury I wanted it to be set in a world with a lot of glitz and romance, so my mind went immediately to Italy. You’ll see architectural details, food, and names inspired by the country. It was fun to imagine the bridges and gondolas of Venice in my fictional world.

As an army wife, you move around quite a bit. Which city has been your favorite to live in and which has been the best for your writing?

Well, I wrote Grace and Fury while I lived in Hawaii, and I still miss it a lot. It’s definitely up there in terms of favorite places I’ve lived. And actually, it was probably best for my writing too—being six hours behind the East Coast was good for my productivity. Less distractions!

Which sister in your novel do you relate to more, Nomi or Serina? 


I think I relate to aspects of them both. Serina is the eldest—she’s responsible, protective of her little sister, and feels the weight of her family’s expectations. As the eldest sibling in my family, I felt a lot of that growing up. But I also wanted to rebel against those expectations and all the ideas everyone else had for my life. Which is where my Nomi instincts kick in.

How do you think the story of Grace and Fury can inspire your female readers? 

One of the ongoing themes in Grace and Fury is that women working together can conquer any challenge. And that there are different ways to be strong. I would love it if my female readers found those messages inspiring, but mostly I just hope they enjoy the book!

Which of your favorite authors do you think has inspired your writing style the most? 


Ooh. This is a tough question. I would love to be a meaty fantasy writer like Robin McKinley, who’s one of my idols, but I think my style is probably more in line with the fun, quick reads I read in high school, like The Vampire Diaries and The Secret Circle. I’m also inspired by movies and tv – often when I’m writing I can see the scene playing out in my head as if it were a movie.

What is one underrated book you would like to recommend to everyone?

I recently fell in LOVE with Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu. I don’t know if it’s underrated, but I would certainly recommend it to everyone! I don’t read much contemporary fiction, and yet this book completely stole my heart and made me feel so empowered. I wish it had been around when I was in high school. 




Release Date: July 31, 2018

Bold, brutal, and beautiful--a must-read fantasy full of fierce sisterhood, action, and political intrigue for fans of The Selection series, Caraval, and The Handmaid's Tale.

In a world where women have no rights, sisters Serina and Nomi Tessaro face two very different fates: one in the palace, the other in prison.

Serina has been groomed her whole life to become a Grace--someone to stand by the heir to the throne as a shining, subjugated example of the perfect woman. But when her headstrong and rebellious younger sister, Nomi, catches the heir's eye, it's Serina who takes the fall for the dangerous secret that Nomi has been hiding.

Now trapped in a life she never wanted, Nomi has only one way to save Serina: surrender to her role as a Grace until she can use her position to release her sister. This is easier said than done. A traitor walks the halls of the palace, and deception lurks in every corner. But Serina is running out of time, imprisoned on an island where she must fight to the death to survive and one wrong move could cost her everything. (taken from goodreads.com)

Friday, July 13, 2018

Advanced Review: A Touch of Gold by Annie Sullivan


Title: A Touch of Gold
Author: Annie Sullivan
Publisher: Blink
Publication Date: August 14, 2018
Format: ARC Paperback

Page Count: 320

Rating: 

Gold is wealth. Wealth is power. Power is a curse.

King Midas once had the ability to turn all he touched into gold. But after his gift—or curse—almost killed his daughter, Midas relinquished The Touch forever. Ten years later, Princess Kora still bears the consequences of her father’s wish: her skin shines golden, rumors follow her everywhere she goes, and she harbors secret powers that are getting harder to hide.

Kora spends her days locked in the palace, concealed behind gloves and veils, trying to ignore the stares and gossip of courtiers. It isn’t until a charming young duke arrives that Kora realizes there may be someone out there who doesn’t fear her or her curse. But their courtship is disrupted when a thief steals precious items from the kingdom, leaving the treasury depleted and King Midas vulnerable. Thanks to her unique ability to sense gold, Kora is the only one who can track the thief down. As she sails off on her quest, Kora learns that not everything is what it seems—not thieves, not pirates, and not even curses. She quickly discovers that gold—and the power it brings—is more dangerous than she’d ever believed.

Midas learned his lesson at a price. What will Kora’s journey cost? (taken from goodreads.com)


"Once upon a time, a little girl helplessly watched
as liquid gold spun a web across her tiny frame, racing to wrap her up in an icy cocoon."

I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.

I've always been a sucker for myth and fairytale retellings, so obviously I was excited to get my hands on this version of the Midas story. Princess Kora has been haunted by her father's touch ever since he accidentally transformed her into a gold statue. Thankfully, she's now a living, breathing human, but her skin has always held onto the golden sheen it once acquired. Plus, she's got some magical powers, to boot.

In many ways, this novel reminds me of that animated Sinbad movie. You know, the one with the snarky pirates and watery sirens? Imagine that movie, but with some extra mythology and a golden girl thrown in. You've got pirates, fight scenes, and plenty of stuff to keep you entertained.

As great as the concept of this retelling was, there were a few things that bothered me. First of all, the romance was one of the most predictable ones I've encountered in a while, which bored me and left the story lacking. Secondly, Kora is kind of... uninteresting? I hate to say that, but truly, I just didn't see that much spirit or uniqueness in her character, other than the fact that she's been cursed since she was a small child.

Still, I wouldn't say I disliked this book. I was intrigued by Sullivan's take on the Midas legend and happy to see that she wove some character development into the various magical scenes. I certainly don't regret reading A Touch of Gold, but I just wouldn't label it as one of my favorite retellings. 



Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Waiting On Wednesday: Nine by Zach Hines

Waiting On Wednesday was created by Jill over at Breaking The Spine. It's a weekly post for you to share what upcoming books you can't wait for! Here's mine for the week.



Title: Nine
Author: Zach Hines 
Release Date: August 7, 2018

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29960644-nine

In an alternate world startlingly close to our own, humans have nine lives—and they can’t wait to burn straight through them.

As you shed lives, you shed your awkward phases: one death is equal to one physical and mental upgrade. Julian’s friends are obsessed with the idea of burning lives, but Julian is determined to stay on his first for as long as he can. His mother, the ultimate cautionary tale, burned through her first eight in just a few years, and Julian has no intention of succumbing to the debilitating rebirth sickness that she inflicted on herself.

But the regime has death incentives aimed at controlling overpopulation, and Julian realizes that he’s going to have to burn at some point—especially when he becomes a target for Nicholas, the manipulative leader of the Burners, the school’s suicide club. And when Julian eventually succumbs, he uncovers suspicious gaps in the rebirth system that may explain exactly why his mother went so far down the rabbit hole years ago. Along with a group of student dissenters, Julian sets out to find answers and is soon on the verge of exposing the greatest conspiracy ever unleashed on the world.

He has just eight more lives to uncover the brutal truth. (taken from goodreads.com)

Why I Need It: 

So I guess we're playing on the whole "cats have nine lives" thing here? Not sure, but it sounds pretty cool, and definitely unlike many of the other novels I tend to pick up.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Review: 9 Days and 9 Nights by Katie Cotugno


Title: 9 Days and 9 Nights
Series: 99 Days #2
Author: Katie Cotugno
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: May 2, 2018
Format: Hardback

Page Count: 272

Rating: 

The irresistible sequel to the bestselling 99 Days.

Molly Barlow isn’t that girl anymore. A business major at her college in Boston, she’s reinvented herself after everything that went down a year ago... after all the people she hurt and the family she tore apart.

Slowly, life is getting back to normal. Molly has just said “I love you” to her new boyfriend, Ian, and they are off on a romantic European vacation together, starting with scenic London. But there on a Tube platform, the past catches up to her in the form of Gabe, her ex, traveling on his own parallel vacation with new girlfriend Sadie.

After comparing itineraries, Ian ends up extending an invite for Gabe and Sadie to join them on the next leg of their trip, to Ireland. Sadie, who’s dying to go there, jumps at the prospect. And Molly and Gabe can’t bring themselves to tell the truth about who they once were to each other to their new significant others.

Now Molly has to spend nine days and nine nights with the boy she once loved, the boy whose heart she shredded, without Ian knowing. Will she make it through as new, improved Molly, or will everything that happened between her and Gabe come rushing back? (taken from goodreads.com)


"I'm a damage doer, no matter how hard I try not to be.
Maybe everybody is, in some way."

So, when I finished 99 Days recently, I was left feeling a little... deprived. The story was entertaining, and man did that love triangle throw me for a loop, but Molly learned so little about herself. There just wasn't enough of a moral to the story to justify the bulk of her immaturity and risky behavior.

Thankfully, that probably was remedied in 9 Days and 9 Nights. This is the new and improved version of Molly's emotional journey. Not only is it set in Europe, but it's also a more developed, deep story.

The circumstances of the story are certainly outrageous. I mean, who runs into the ex-boyfriend from the States in London? But still, I was highly impressed by Cotugno's efforts to make Molly an authentic character who actually learns and grows. Goodbye old, go-with-the-flow Molly and hello to a girl who's been through sh*t and is willing to become a better person because of it.

Oh, and don't worry: there's still a hefty dose of romantic tension and relationship drama, so you won't be bored as Molly and her crew traipse around London, Ireland, and Paris.

As usual, this review is purely me rambling about my unfounded opinions, but if you take one thing from it, let it be this: I think that 9 Days and 9 Nights finally tapped into the emotional journey that I wanted to see in the first book, and for that, I'm proud of Cotugno and her sequel.