Tracy Banghart

Tracy Banghart's books on Goodreads

Rebel Wing Rebel Wing (Rebel Wing #1)
reviews: 118
ratings: 199 (avg rating 4.18)

By Blood By Blood (By Blood, #1)
reviews: 50
ratings: 88 (avg rating 3.97)

Moon Child Moon Child (Prequel to By Blood)
reviews: 27
ratings: 49 (avg rating 3.86)

Storm Fall Storm Fall (Rebel Wing, #2)
reviews: 27
ratings: 41 (avg rating 4.22)

What the Sea Wants What the Sea Wants
reviews: 5
ratings: 20 (avg rating 3.10)

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    Entries in Book Recommendations (5)

    Thursday
    Feb092012

    Bookanista Review: Silver Phoenix & Fury of the Phoenix

    Hey y'all! Today is a double whammy of awesomeness!

    I'm going to be talking about Cindy Pon's magical SILVER PHOENIX and its even more marvelous sequel, FURY OF THE PHOENIX, which I just finished. I discovered this series through a wonderful review Robin McKinley wrote on her blog (for the link, go to Cindy Pon's website, link at the end of this post). On the basis of that endorsement, I picked up SILVER PHOENIX, and I'm so glad I did!

    on the day of her first betrothal meeting--and rejection--ai ling discovers a power welling deep within her. she can reach into other people’s spirits, hear their thoughts, see their dreams…and that’s just the beginning.

    ai ling has been marked by the immortals; her destiny lies in the emperor’s palace, where a terrible evil has lived, stealing souls, for centuries. she must conquer this enemy and rescue her captive father, while mythical demons track her every step. and then she meets chen yong, a young man with a quest of his own, whose fate is intertwined with hers. here is a heart-stopping, breathtaking tale for fans of action, fantasy, and romance--of anything with the making of legend.

    My Take

    This is one of the most cinematic, beautifully written books I've read in a long time. Pon's descriptions of food in particular are mouth-watering...and also add to our understanding of Ai Ling, a wonderfully strong, independent girl...who happens to have an appetite and appreciation for good food (which I really loved about her, as I am ALSO a fan of yummy food! ;-)). 

    The story is a sweeping adventure in the same vein as some of my favorite fantasies, like On Fortune's Wheel by Cynthia Voigt and The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley, but it takes place in the Asian/China-inspired mythical Kingdom of Xia...and is all the more engaging for its vivid setting. 

    In addition to the lush writing, I particularly loved Ai Ling's character. She was aware of her duties and role in her world's society, but also independent, resourceful, and powerful. She was strong enough to make tough choices. And she was real, sometimes making mistakes. She had passions, fears, regrets...all explored through a complex, interesting story.

    And Chen Yong isn't just a pretty face. He's just as interesting and complex a character, with his own quest and his own strengths and weakenesses. They have great chemistry, and watching their relationship develop while they dealt with the challenges of their journey as well as the strictures of their society, was both wonderful and bittersweet. Theirs is not a relationship with easy answers, and I loved that about it.

    And let me just say, this is a book with one hell of a villian. SO. AWESOME. :-)

    Today I finished the sequel, FURY OF THE PHOENIX, and while I don't want to say much about it, so as not to give anything away, I WILL say that I think I loved it even more than SILVER PHOENIX, if that's possible.

    FURY OF THE PHOENIX is just as beautifully written as Pon's first novel, and the exciting story will keep you turning pages until well after you should have been asleep (take it from me!). I loved the way Pon delved deeper into the histories and mythologies of her characters, and how both books follow Ai Ling on a quest...while keeping those journeys different and fresh. I love books with adventure, romance, gorgeous scenery...and these books have all of those things in spades!

    I highly recommend this series...and, for more info and a taste of the author's beautiful artwork, check out her website

    UPDATE: Wanted to share that Koko's tumor turned out to be Stage 1 and the vet got it all, so she has a clean bill of health! YAY!!! :-)

    ~~

    Check out what the other Bookanistas are raving about this week!

    Christine Fonseca  takes a shine to A MILLION SUNS

    Carolina Valdez Miller falls for FRACTURE

    Jen Hayley surrenders to THE NIGHT SHE DISAPPEARED

    Stasia Ward Kehoe is dazzled by DARK COMPANION

    Nikki Katz wonders at THE FAULT IN OUR STARS

    Debra Driza is overwhelmed by UNDER THE NEVER SKY

    Jessica Love gives a trophy to BEAUTY QUEENS

    Shelli Johannes-Wells takes you on a tour of The Reading Room

    Tracy Banghart has double-love for THE SILVER PHOENIX and FURY OF THE PHOENIX

    Hilary Wagner is in the grips of THE GATHERING STORM

    Wednesday
    Feb012012

    Bookanistas Review: Juliet Immortal

    Welcome to another Bookanistas Review!

    This week I read JULIET IMMORTAL by Stacey Jay and let me just say...WOW. Like, a serious WOW.

    "These violent delights have violent ends
    And in their triumph die, like fire and powder,
    Which as they kiss consume."
    —Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

    The most tragic love story in history . . .

    Juliet Capulet didn't take her own life. She was murdered by the person she trusted most, her new husband, Romeo Montague, a sacrifice made to ensure his own immortality. But what Romeo didn't anticipate was that Juliet would be granted eternity, as well, and would become an agent for the Ambassadors of Light. For 700 years, she's fought Romeo for the souls of true lovers, struggling to preserve romantic love and the lives of the innocent. Until the day she meets someone she's forbidden to love, and Romeo, oh Romeo, will do everything in his power to destroy that love.

    My Take

    Holy moly is this book ah-maz-ing. I have to say that this is one that kept catching my eye in the bookstore, but I wasn't convinced it'd be my kind of thing. I generally am not a huge fan of retellings (except of the fairy tale variety) and wasn't sold on the whole "making the story of Romeo and Juliet paranormal" thing. 

    But here's the power of Twitter...I clicked on a link to a review and the person (I can't remember who now or I'd link, but it might have been a Bookanista) LOVED it. So I thought, hey...a) I'm about to go to Italy, the birthplace of Juliet and b) it's getting some great reviews...so why not? So I went to my local bookstore and picked up a copy.

    AWESOME, AWESOME decision by me. :-)

    I didn't end up reading it while I was in Italy, but that was probably a good thing. If I had, I wouldn't actually have SEEN much of Italy. This story drew me in from the first page and left me breathless with suspense until the last. 

    Juliet's voice is fantastic - lyrical and realistic. I loved the quality and flow of the language, the emotions that come alive on the page. The funny thing is, after I started reading it didn't bother me one bit that this was a retelling, because it wasn't. What Stacey Jay did with these iconic characters...I really don't want to give a thing away, but I have to admit...I loved Stacey's Juliet more than I did Shakespeare's...and I say that as a total W.S. 'shipper. 

    JULIET IMMORTAL is just...different. And twisty. And intense. And incredibly romantic. Imaginative...surprising...I could go on. But, really, you should just go out and get a copy for yourself, so you can see what I mean.

    Last Thought

    From a writer's perspective, my favorite element of the story was the way Stacey Jay threw HUGE, MASSIVE, LIFE OR DEATH obstacles at her characters. I really had no idea how she was going to resolve things. If things could even BE resolved. (I won't tell you if they are.) The reason I was breathless was because the entire book I knew exactly what Juliet - and the other characters - had to lose...and how very high the odds were stacked against them. This is something you hear over and over again as a writer - make it hard for your main character, raise the stakes, etc etc...but let's face it. It's a tough thing to do. Especially in a way that'll earn a payoff at the end (if you're going to make your stakes life or death, you better not have a simple solution at the end and keep everyone living and breathing like there was never any danger at all...ahem). 

    So I've gotta give Stacey mad props for that. 

    And everything else.

    Cuz this book is badass and you should read it. :-)

    ~~

    Check out what else the Bookanistas are excited about this week!

    Christine Fonseca  interviews author Denise Grover Swank

    Jessi Kirby and Jen Hayley are wowed by WANDERLOVE

    Corrine Jackson is mesmerized by MAY B.

    Stasia Ward Kehoe  interviews DIES IRAE author Christine Fonseca

    Debra Driza is entranced by HEMLOCK

    Katy Upperman delves into THE DISENCHANTMENTS

    Nikki Katz  celebrates CINDER

    Tracy Banghart  marvels at JULIET IMMORTAL

    Jessica Love spotlights SHINE

    Gennifer Albin gives some trailer love to STARTERS

     

    Wednesday
    Jan252012

    Bookanistas Review: The Other Life

    Hello, hello everyone!

    It's that time again, and I have to say, I am REALLY excited about this week's Bookanista review!

    Full disclosure: Susanne Winnacker, the author of THE OTHER LIFE, is a friend and one of my critique partners (though I didn't critique this manuscript specifically)

    So...THE OTHER LIFE hasn't actually been released yet, but Susanne sent me a copy of the UK version, and I devoured it in a matter of days. It's an incredibly fast, tense read and I loved it!

    Here's the cover and description for the UK version:

    3 years, 1 month, 1 week and 6 days since I'd seen daylight. One-fifth of my life. 98,409,602 seconds since the heavy, steel door had fallen shut and sealed us off from the world.

    Sherry has lived with her family in a sealed bunker since things went wrong up above. But when they run out of food, Sherry and her dad must venture outside. There they find a world of devastation, desolation...and the Weepers: savage, mutant killers.

    When Sherry's dad is snatched, she joins forces with gorgeous but troubled Joshua - an Avenger, determined to destroy the Weepers. But can Sherry keep her family and Joshua safe, when his desire for vengeance threatens them all?

    My Take

    So, I have to admit, I'm not a huge fan of post-apocalyptic stuff. And I haven't read much dystopian either. BUT. This book so, so works for me. I think it's because it's so rooted in the characters, especially Sherry...a strong and yet vulnerable main character with a distinctive voice. I related to her and rooted for her because she had the same kinds of thoughts I think *I* would have when faced with a similar circumstance (though she's got much more of a survival instinct than I do! I think I'd totally wuss out when faced with the devastation and danger she deals with). Sherry is a fantastic character and I love how rich her relationships with her family are. This isn't a book with absent parents...the story is as much about Sherry's relationship with her family as it is about the Weepers. Of course, her dad does figure into the plot...and because we've seen Sherry interact with her father and know how she feels about him, it's even more devastating when he's taken.

    Other stuff I loved about this book

    The incredible way Susanne builds the intensity. I actually couldn't read this book before bed because every time I opened it, I was on edge, afraid for Sherry and her family and Joshua. The tension builds seamlessly throughout, making you turn the pages faster and faster.

    I also loved the early chapters, when Sherry is stuck in the bunker with her family. The claustrophobia, the boredom...the click-click of Sherry's grandmother's knitting needles...build build build goes that tension. Numbers figure prominently in the book...Sherry counting up the seconds and minutes and days between events...and it becomes this ticking clock of sorts. Totally got under my skin!

    Each chapter begins with a short memory from Sherry's "life before"...these vignettes serve as windows into Sherry's character and her hopes and dreams...as well as building tension, yet again, by breaking into the rhythm of the present day story and delaying your gratification in finding out what happens next.

    And ladies, there's romance all right, but NO love triangle! Watching Sherry and Joshua's relationship build is one of the joys of this story. They both are strong and brave...but also damaged and vulnerable, which forces them to interact and relate to one another in interesting ways.

    Final thoughts

    This book isn't big on the science part of the fiction, but this didn't bother me as it had so many other strengths, and I was much too engaged in the tension and characters to care.

    Check out Susanne's blog for awesome news about the UK release...and a certain young man's diary entries. ;-)

    THE OTHER LIFE is an intense, wonderful read and I highly recommend that you check in out!

    In the UK, you can pick up your copy NEXT WEEK beginning February 1st!

    In the States, you unfortunately have to wait until May 1, but check out the awesome US cover and add it to your Goodreads TBR list! :-)

    ~~~

    Check out what the other Bookanistas are jazzed about this week...

    Christine Fonseca  brings you a special Guestanista review of SPRINKLES AND SECRETS

    Shannon Messenger delights in DEAD TO YOU – with giveaway

    Beth Revis interviews TEMPEST author Julie Cross – with giveaway

    Jessi Kirby takes a shine to the SURRENDER and new POSSESSSION covers

    Stasia Ward Kehoe adores IN HONOR

    Jen Hayley gushes over THE GIRL WHO LOVED A CITY

    Veronica Rossi  is crazy for INCARNATE

    Nikki Katz marvels at A MILLION SUNS

    Gennifer Albin   is on fire over CINDER

    Tracy Banghart  is all about THE OTHER LIFE

    Jessica Love wonders at THE FAULT IN OUR STARS

    Hilary Wagner mourns over THE DEATH OF YORIK MORTWELL -- with giveaway

    Thursday
    Dec152011

    Bad Blogger

    It's been a busy month, and unfortunately the blog has suffered. My apologies! But I am happy to say I've had the opportunity to read some fantastic books recently...here are a few of my favorites!

    ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD by KENDARE BLAKE


    Cas Lowood inherited an unusual vocation. He kills the dead.

    So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father's mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

    When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn't expect anything outside of the ordinary: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he's never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

    But she, for whatever reason, spares Cas's life.

    Anna Dressed in Blood is a 2011 Kirkus Best Teen Books of the Year title.
     
    This is the first book I've read in a WHILE with a male protagonist. Partly that's personal preference...partly it's just what's on offer in YA, but I have to say I LOVED Cas's voice. In fact, I loved just about everything about this book. It was super creepy, descriptive, intriguing...the characters were well-developed, and each plot twist was unexpected and yet felt consistent with the world Blake created. Cas was both strong and vulnerable...and gave us a compelling window into his life that made me root for him from the very beginning. As a writer who sometimes struggles to get my main characters to come alive on the page, I have so much respect for Kendare Blake's ability to do this! Cas felt like a living and breathing person, and his responses to events and other characters felt 100% authentic. I'm so happy that there's a sequel coming, so I can live for a little longer in Cas's world.
    ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD is a fantastic story wrapped in a gorgeous package. The cover is lovely and I was particularly tickled by the publisher's choice to use blood-red ink instead of black. Awesome touch!
    If you haven't read this book and you like spooky, tense thrillers with compelling characters, go pick up a copy!
    DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE by LAINI TAYLOR

     

    From Laini's website:
    Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky. 
    In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth grown dangerously low. 
    And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war. 
    Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she's prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands"; she speaks many languages--not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out.
    When one of the strangers--beautiful, haunted Akiva--fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

     

    Before I ever picked up this book, I'd heard from several friends and all over Twitter how awesome it was. And boy, those folks weren't joking. The world building is absolutely incredible and the writing lyrical and beautiful and totally engaging. It's true that this is not a good book to read, as a writer, if you're in an "I'm a crappy writer" mood, because it is SO good, it'll just reinforce that impression! ;-) But I found it inspiring too. It's such a treat to experience the power and beauty of words, especially as someone who so often reads with a critical eye. With DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE, I could just relax and let myself be swept away in Karou's world.

    That said, towards the end there's a fairly hefty flashback sequence that dragged a bit for me, though I understood its necessity, and was fully engaged again by the end of the book. This is another where I'm already waiting impatiently for Book 2!

     

    THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER by MICHELLE HODKIN

    From Michelle's website:

    Mara Dyer believes life can't get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.

    It can.

    She believes there must be more to the accident she can't remember that killed her friends and left her strangely unharmed.

    There is.

    She doesn't believe that after everything she's been through, she can fall in love.

    She's wrong.

     

     

    This book is spooky, intense, and wonderfully written. The sense of urgency - along with the fear Mara is going insane - builds so spectacularly that I had to read faster and faster just to keep MYSELF from going crazy! :-) Some scenes in particular were so vivid and compelling I had to reread them - for example, the scene fairly early on with the dog. Won't say more than that, but WOW. 

    I admit, I wasn't Team Noah at first...I'm a little tired of the jerky "bad boy" who sleeps around and is mean to the main character, by which behavior we're meant to infer he's sexy and desirable. BUT, Noah DID grow on me throughout the book. Michelle did a great job with character development, actually giving him compelling reasons for his attitude, which as a reader I appreciated. 

    And Mara...wow. The question of whether she was suffering PTSD or insanity...we were so squarely in her head that what she experienced felt visceral, intense, real...and satisfyingly creepy. Though, for me, the reveal of what was really going on took just a few too many scenes to get to. Having said that, though, I found the ending both satisfying and maddening...I can't wait to get my hands on the sequel!

     

    Well, that's it for now! Diving back into my own writing...and holidays preparations with MAJOR HOTSAUCE. :-)

    Friday
    Oct282011

    Halloween Reading

    I've been wanting to write a post about Victoria Schwab's amazing debut, THE NEAR WITCH...and then I found out she's hosting an AWESOME giveaway on her blog, and the stars aligned! Click HERE to go to her site and enter for a variety of amazing prizes! (It's only open til Halloween!)

    A few weeks ago, I read The Near Witch and was totally blown away by the beautiful, atmospheric language. This is the kind of book I wish I could write...haunting and lovely and full of fully realized characters and romance. Oh, and danger too. There's definitely danger. It's a perfect book to read this fall, as it gracefully evokes the blustery, crisp days and chill, spooky nights of this time of year. I LOVED LOVED LOVED it.

    Isn't the cover gorgeous??

    Here's a little more info from the jacket flap:

    The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children. 

     If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company. 

    And there are no strangers in the town of Near.

    These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life.

    But when an actual stranger—a boy who seems to fade like smoke—appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true.

    The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion. Still, he insists on helping Lexi search for them. Something tells her she can trust him.

    As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi’s need to know—about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy.

    Part fairy tale, part love story, Victoria Schwab’s debut novel is entirely original yet achingly familiar: a song you heard long ago, a whisper carried by the wind, and a dream you won’t soon forget.

     

    And my very favorite passage:

    Her eyes widen, blue circles like pieces of sky. "Is it a secret?" she whispers back. In my sister's world, secrets are almost as much fun as games.

    "Very much so," I say, my fingers dancing down her arms to her hands, cupping them in mine. I bring our cradled hands up to my lips, whispering into the small place between her palms. "Can you keep it for me?"

    Wren smiles and pulls her hands back to her, still cupping the secret as she might a butterfly. 

    Pick up a copy of The Near Witch and head over to Victoria's fantastic blog to enter the contest. You won't be sorry!