Review | Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart

What is this? A book review? Has hell frozen over and the souls of the damned come to take me home? 

No, I just managed to find some time to review a new favourite of 2018. 

First off, thank you Hachette Australia for the review copy. In no way does it impact my opinion! 

Let’s get into this review. Also, happy book birthday to this beauty!


From the glittering court filled with Graces to the gritty and turbulent landscape of an all-female prison on a volcano, (yes, a volcano), Grace & Fury exceeded my expectations. It promised me a blend of The Handmaid’s Tale (which is an all-time favourite) and The Hunger Games (a teen Sofia’s favourite) – and it’s safe to say it delivered. 

At its core, Grace & Fury is a sister story.

It’s told from the perspectives of Serina and Nomi; Serina has been raised to be a Grace, revered for her beauty to become a token, a possession of the King, while Nomi has been trained to be Serina’s handmaiden. Both are thrown into unexpected situations and what I loved about them was they both refused to stay beaten. They fought against the boundaries placed upon them, and it made this story so much more intriguing. And ultimately, despite their circumstances, they wanted to make sure the other is safe, and that’s honestly just goals. 

This is a tale focused on the empowerment of complex women. 

In this society, women are stripped of their rights to choose their own lives (they can’t even read without being punished). From the beginning the reader is bombarded with how wrong this world is and you immediately question why. What I loved about this book is how complex the female characters are. They’re cunning, they’re soft, they’re intelligent, they’re filled with schemes and secrets. From the head Grace to the starving prisoners, every single one has a story adds something to this tale, and every single one plays a role in lifting women up.

The twists were unexpected and scheming and I loved it.

While there were a couple of plot issues, the overarching story is one surprise to the next. It keeps you on your toes and desperate for more. I want more from these two sisters now please. 

Rating

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Have you read Grace & Fury? What were your thoughts? Let me know in the comments!

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Mini reviews, the winter blues, and where I have been

Soooooo it’s been a while since I’ve posted something on here and it’s safe to say I’m alive and well. Winter in Australia is nowhere near as cold as other countries, but I’m still a baby and I hate it so send me some warm vibes, friends!

EXCITING NEWS!! As some of you might already know, I’ve recently started a job in publicity with Penguin Random House Australia. I’m super excited about this, yet that means I have a smaller amount of time to blog, review, and take photos. Despite this, I love my job and I can’t wait to see where it takes me. 

With that being said, I’ve got some steaming hot mini reviews for you.

Jade City by Fonda Lee 

This is literally one of the best fantasy books I have read in forever. In the city of Kekon, jade rules everything. It’s the most precious substance you can aquire, and the struggle for power rests in the hands of two clans. It’s about honour, blood and jade. Jade City is bloody ambitious, has a very distinct urban fantasy atmosphere, and blends together the law and gangster drama with a touch of wuxia. It’s politically charged, gritty, damn emotional and incredibly written. Fonda is killing me, folks.  

Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee

Lee delivers a superhero MG novel where Sky High meets post-WW3. In the city of Andover, Jessica is struggling to cope with the fact she doesn’t have powers – not even C-grade, which is a minute as changing your hair colour. Her parents are superheroes, her sister is in the League of Heroes, and her brother is science genius. She’s living the medicore life But the plot takes an interesting turn when she ends up working for her parents’ rivals at their tech company, and she discovers some things that were meant to stay hidden. This novel explores themes such as family, friendship, what it means to be a hero, and has some authentic representation of bisexuality and meaningful relationships. 

Found by Fleur Ferris

Thank you Penguin Random House for the review copy. 

Fleur always writes something that will have your heart racing. In her latest work, Beth is living the quiet life in a small town in NSW. But as she’s about to break the news to her dad she has a boyfriend, he disappears before her eyes. This moment plumments Beth into a life-changing race against time to rescue her dad, come to terms with her hidden past, and figure out how to live knowing everything was a lie. The dual perspectives of Jonah, her boyfriend, and Beth herself, provided a unique approach to a thrilling tale of revenge, family and love. The whole book read like a movie, and it was an enjoyable ride. 

 

 

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang 

Step aside, Callum. I have a new boyfriend and his name is Michael Larsen. I haven’t read a contemprary romance in so long, and Helen really just set the bar for me. To summarise such a swoonworthy book, Stella Lane is an economist with Asperger’s  struggling to figure out love. She thinks French kissing feels like a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. She’s quirky and adorable, and she hires Michael, an escort, to teach her how to be a better lover and girlfriend. Michael, who has secrets of his own, agrees and it’s safe to say this book executes the fake relationship trope perfectly. The romance is adorable, the plot is lovely, and the consent is A+ I also listened to this on the train without realising it would get a little hot and heavy, and I made eye contact with someone and I almost died. I love this book a lot and I cannot wait for the rest of the series.  

Restore Me by Tahereh Mafi

I flew through the first three books in this series once I’d known there would be three more. It’d been on my TBR for ages, yet I didn’t see the appeal until recently. Restore Me is a strong continuation of the series, picking up right where Ignite Me left off. Juliette is struggling to come to terms with her new position of power and how to move forward with her revolution. She has a lot of growth in this book, much more than I expected, which I really enjoyed. However, Warner’s development was the most interesting as he suffers from PTSD and a ton of guilt from the previous books. A lot happens in this rather short book, and I’m excited to see where Mafi takes us with these beloved characters. 

Want by Cindy Pon

I’d like to thank my Audible fam for introducing me to my new fav. This urban fantasy weaves together the consequences of pollution, global warming, and population density into a YA story that follows a young man named Jason, who is trying to topple over the corrupt regime of the elite in Taipei. The elite where special suits that clean the air they breathe, whereas the less fortunate are left to suffer in the polluted smog that covers the city. The polarisation of wealth in the city plays a large role in character development and world building, particularly when Jason’s plans become complicated when the daughter of the corporation he’s trying to destroy finds her way into his life. This fast-paced YA tackles a lot of environmental issues as well as the morality of the rich. I loved it – go read it! 

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Also, before I disappear for another five years, I am open to commissions for editing and sensitivity reading. The things I do include: 

  • Manuscripts – YA, Fantasy, Romance, Sci-Fi
  • Short stories
  • Essays
  • Theses – this is a time sensitive commission, so the sooner the better
  • Feature articles 

Shoot me an email if you’re interested! Until next time!

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Book Review: ‘All Of This Is True’ Will Make You Second Guess Everything

35068735All Of This Is True by Lygia Day Peñaflor

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Synopsis: Miri Tan loved the book Undertow like it was a living being. So when she and her friends went to a book signing to meet the author, Fatima Ro, they concocted a plan to get close to her, even if her friends won’t admit it now. As for Jonah, well—Miri knows none of that was Fatima’s fault.

Soleil Johnston wanted to be a writer herself one day. When she and her friends started hanging out with her favorite author, Fatima Ro, she couldn’t believe their luck—especially when Jonah Nicholls started hanging out with them, too. Now, looking back, Soleil can’t believe she let Fatima manipulate her and Jonah like that. She can’t believe that she got used for a book.

Penny Panzarella was more than the materialistic party girl everyone at the Graham School thought she was. She desperately wanted Fatima Ro to see that, and she saw her chance when Fatima asked the girls to be transparent with her. If only she’d known what would happen when Fatima learned Jonah’s secret. If only she’d known that the line between fiction and truth was more complicated than any of them imagined. . .

GOODREADS | BOOKTOPIA| AMAZON

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Book Review: ‘Circe’ Breathes Life and Love into a Forgotten Witch

9781408890080Circe by Madeline Miller 

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Synopsis: In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe has neither the look nor the voice of divinity, and is scorned and rejected by her kin. Increasingly isolated, she turns to mortals for companionship, leading her to discover a power forbidden to the gods: witchcraft.

When love drives Circe to cast a dark spell, wrathful Zeus banishes her to the remote island of Aiaia. There she learns to harness her occult craft, drawing strength from nature. But she will not always be alone; many are destined to pass through Circe’s place of exile, entwining their fates with hers. The messenger god, Hermes. The craftsman, Daedalus. A ship bearing a golden fleece. And wily Odysseus, on his epic voyage home.

There is danger for a solitary woman in this world, and Circe’s independence draws the wrath of men and gods alike. To protect what she holds dear, Circe must decide whether she belongs with the deities she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

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LIFEL1K3 by Jay Kristoff is a whirlwind urban sci-fi adventure 

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LIFEL1K3 by Jay Kristoff

Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Synopsis: On a floating junkyard beneath a radiation sky, a deadly secret lies buried in the scrap.

Eve isn’t looking for secrets—she’s too busy looking over her shoulder. The robot gladiator she’s just spent six months building has been reduced to a smoking wreck, and the only thing keeping her Grandpa from the grave was the fistful of credits she just lost to the bookies. To top it off, she’s discovered she can destroy electronics with the power of her mind, and the puritanical Brotherhood are building a coffin her size. If she’s ever had a worse day, Eve can’t remember it.

But when Eve discovers the ruins of an android boy named Ezekiel in the scrap pile she calls home, her entire world comes crashing down. With her best friend Lemon Fresh and her robotic conscience, Cricket, in tow, she and Ezekiel will trek across deserts of irradiated glass, infiltrate towering megacities and scour the graveyard of humanity’s greatest folly to save the ones Eve loves, and learn the dark secrets of her past.

Even if those secrets were better off staying buried. 

GOODREADS | BOOKTOPIA | AMAZON

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My Top Picks for SWF’s All Day YA

If you don’t know what Sydney Writers’ Festival is, it’s this amazing literary festival that happens every year in the heart of Sydney. Recently relocated to Carriageworks, the festival is simply an incredible place to be. They also feature the amazing All Day YA program at Riverside Parramatta.

This will be my second year attending All Day YA, with my first being the initial moment I stepped out of the house and realised there was an entire day dedicated to YA loving bookworms. If there’s one thing I know about Sydney Writers’ Festival is it gets better and better every year.

All taking place at Riverside Parramatta on Saturday 5th of May, the lineup for this year’s All Day YA program is brilliant and here are my top picks!

From the Sidelines (10am – 11am)

This is possibly one of my most anticipated events! This panel will be answering these questions: Is it enough to include diverse voices if their only role is to prop up the hero? Why does the quiet kid always need to be saved by a cool romantic interest? I need to know.

Youth Curator Rameen Hayat will be chatting to Tamar Chnorhokian, Sarah Ayoub, Michael Mohammed Ahmad and Patrick Ness about diversity and tokenism in YA fiction and I cannot wait!

Burn The Book: Real Girls in YA (11:30am – 12:30pm)

This is right up my alley. This panel asks the ultimate question: What does it mean to be a ‘real’ girl?

Chatting with Youth Curator Kellie Phan, Alicia Tuckerman, Rebecca Lim, Jenna Guillaume, and Tara Eglington will be exploring about all those experiences we have as young females: from friendships to frenemies to first loves. Breaking stereotypes and kicking ass – that’s what I love about realistic female characters and this panel sounds like a blast!

Architects of New Worlds (1:30pm – 2:30pm)

If that title of this panel doesn’t interest you, we’re gonna have a problem. I adore world building, especially in sci-fi and fantasy. Reading about post-apocoalyptic worlds, catastrophes or tyrannical regimes are aalways so fascinating. This panel sounds perfect for those who want to know what it’s like creating dystopian worlds that ignite the imagination, and forcing us as readers to reflect on our world.

Adele Walsh discovers how real-life concerns have influenced Jesse Andrews, an acclaimed novelist and screenwriter; Cally Black, who writes genre-smashing YA sci-fi; Claire G. Coleman, whose debut novel explores a future Australia that is colonised again; and Jay Kristoff, a bestselling fantasy and sci-fi author.

Bringing Imaginary Worlds to Life (3pm – 4pm)

This is almost like a companion panel to Architects of New Worlds, except we get to hear about MAPS! We all love maps. Right? Illustrators have their time in the spotlight as This panel discusses how they draw a fantasy-world map and show examples of their previous work. Expand your imagination with author and illustrator Chris Riddell, Oscar–winning animator Shaun Tan, award–winning children’s illustrator Nicki Greenberg and A Song of Ice & Fire illustrator Levi Pinfold.

The Future of Writing (4:30pm – 5:30pm)

I’m a writer. Sometimes I think I’m a terrible writer, but the other day I found an old manuscript and literally wanted to toss it out because I realised how much I’ve evolved as a writer. This panel simply speaks to me.

The panel features author Anna Todd, whose success with fan-fiction favourite After has resulted in publishing houses increasingly looking to online self-publishing for new stories with a built-in fan base. The panel will explore digital platforms, author freedom and technology in modern publishing. Three incredible writers – Tonya Alexandra, Alison Croggon and Jay Kristoff – sit down with YA author and Twitter famous Jenna Guillaume to chat about how technology is reshaping writers’ lives and how it has influenced their careers.

I don’t know about you, but I’m gearing up for May 5th. Come down, hang out with fellow bookworms, and have fun. You’ll also see me there so don’t hesitate to say hi!

 

Book Review: The Things We Can’t Undo by Gabrielle Reid

38402124The Things We Can’t Undo by Gabrielle Reid

Publisher: Ford Street Publishing

Synopsis: There’s no backspace key for life’s decisions.

Samantha and Dylan are in love – everyone knows it. So it’s no big deal when they leave a party for some time out together. But when malicious rumours surface about that night, each feels betrayed by the other.

Will Sam make a decision she can’t take back?

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To Kill A Kingdom| A Killer Tale with Murderous Sirens and Swashbuckling Princes

34499221To Kill A Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Synopsis: Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.

The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby—it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?

 

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What the Heck Did I Read In March?

It’s ya girl, Sofia. I’m back with another heckin’ blog post about my reading habits because I know you all love reading these (I know you do). 

March was hectic af. I started my final year of uni. I’m now co-hosting a fantasy/sci-fi book club called The Name of the Book. I’ve been writing, editing and working non-stop. 

I just wanna sleep for a few years, you know? 

But I did get some reading done, and here are my mini reviews on my March reads. 

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Author Q&A and Book Review: Neverland by Margot McGovern

Neverland Cover

Neverland by Margot McGovern 

Publisher: Penguin Teen

Synopsis: Kit Learmonth would rather die than grow up and leave Neverland…
When she was twelve, Kit Learmonth watched her parents drown in a storm as their boat sailed over the Tranter Sink Hole. Now seventeen, Kit doesn’t remember the incident, and she doesn’t want to. In fact, her only clear memories from before her parents’ death are of the fantastical stories of pirates and mermaids that she and her dad invented about the small island where she grew up, a place she calls Neverland. 

Following Kit’s parents’ deaths, her uncle and guardian, Doc, transformed the island into a boarding school for mentally ill teenagers and sent Kit away to school on the mainland. But when Kit tries and fails to end her life, Doc brings her home to the island and places her in the care of his colleague, Dr Hannah Ward. 

Resisting her treatment, Kit instead pulls her friends deeper into her world of make-believe. It’s only when Kit and her new boyfriend, Rohan, take the fantasy too far and land themselves in very real danger that her faith in Neverland is shaken, and Kit must find a way back to reality.

GOODREADS | BOOKTOPIA | PENGUIN TEEN

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