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 Robin McKinley (2)

    Thursday
    May102012

    Bookanista Review: Sunshine

    Happy Vampire Diaries finale day!! This is both SUPER exciting and sad. I'm already wondering how I'm going to survive until the fall. So, in honor of TVD, this week's Bookanista review is for SUNSHINE, my fave vampire book of all time!

    SUNSHINE, by Robin McKinley, is not actually a young adult book...but it's one I nonetheless LOVE and think is appropriate for mature YA readers (what puts it in adult territory is the sex, so keep that in mind if recommending to younger readers).

    So, yeah. I've read SUNSHINE many times. It's one of my favorites, and my own particular brand of comfort read. I've been reading a lot of awesome new YA lately, but I needed to take a break and go back to something familiar and well-loved this week, as life's been a bit hectic. 

    We actually had a little disagreement this morning, over who got to cuddle with the book. Mia won.

    From Goodreads:

    There hadn't been any trouble out at the lake for years, and Sunshine just needed a spot where she could be alone with her thoughts. Vampires never entered her mind. Until they found her. 

    My Thoughts

    Alright, that isn't much of a description. But it's okay. How about we just add that Neil Gaiman called this book "Pretty much perfect"...so yeah. What else is there to say, right?

    Well, while I'm certain I can't do this story justice in a review, I CAN extoll its virtues and recommend that you read it, if you haven't already.

    Robin McKinley's greatest strength, I believe, is in creating worlds so detailed and extensive that they live and breathe and make sense in the ways only a real world can. You believe in Sunshine's New Arcadia. You believe that most of the world's been weakened, in some places destroyed, by the Voodoo Wars. And, most of all, you believe in Charlie's coffeehouse, because you can almost taste Sunshine's Killer Zebras, Bitter Chocolate Death, and cinnamon rolls as big as your head. (In fact, I was SO craving a cinnamon roll reading this book that I made MAJOR HOTSAUCE pick us up some Cinnabuns!) 

    That's not to say the characters in SUNSHINE aren't also fully realized. From reading McKinley's blog, I know she's gotten near constant requests from her fans to write a sequel or companion novel to SUNSHINE ever since the novel was published. And it's not JUST because of the awesome world she created. It's because her characters are so INTERESTING...we all want to follow them on more adventures, learn more about them, hang with them a little longer. Sunshine, the titular character, is brave in the truest sense of the word - she plays the hero even while absolutely terrified. Her relationship/connection/affinity with sunlight is one of the most gorgeously rendered elements in the entire book, which is saying something. I love that her relationships with her family and boyfriend feel authentic (she and her mom, in particular, feel very real to me...they fight a lot. ;-)), and that she thinks about stuff. She has hobbies, interests, skills...I don't know if I'd be interesting enough to be her friend, but I'd CERTAINLY eat her baked goods, if I lived in New Arcadia. And that's what I love about her most, I think. She isn't necessarily the kind of character you'd imagine being best friends with - because she's prickly, private, and obviously going through her own life-changing stuff and doesn't have time for you - she is her own person, unapologetically. As a reader, I can't help but love her, not because she's like me, but because she's so HER.

    And, in SUNSHINE, vampires are as they should be (apologies to Damon and Stefan - I still love you, hottie vampires!): scary, ugly monsters. I love that Sunshine's "good" vampire, Con, is STILL a vampire and follows the "rules" of the world. He's not attractive, he's not a "vegetarian" (that we know of), he's still scary as shit. But he has his own personality too, his own sense of honor and morality. In some ways, I find him to be an even more complex, intriguing character than Sunshine, because there's so much about him we don't know. He doesn't fully reveal himself or his history, and that makes him especially compelling to me.

    At any rate, I could go on and on, but you probably should just pick up a copy of SUNSHINE for yourself. :-) Though, if you're a writer, this is one of those books, like DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE, that shouldn't be read in a vulnerable state...it's intimidatingly awesome!! But I also think it's inspiring. LOOK what someone has created with nothing but words - see the world, the characters, shimmering into life before you. THIS is what a writer can do. SUNSHINE is the kind of book I read when I want to remind myself of what I'm striving for....and how far I have to go. It's both a comfort and a challenge. 

    Aaaanyway....here are some more cute Mia pics!

    Look how shiny and pretty!

    ~~

    And now, check out what the other Bookanistas are up to!

    Christine Fonseca  adores IN HONOR

    Debra Driza is celebrating HEMLOCK with giveaway

    Stasia Ward Kehoe unwraps UNGIFTED

    Tracy Banghart basks in SUNSHINE

    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