ARC Review: Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart

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Release Date: July 31, 2018

It struck her that she might spend the rest of her days like this: trapped in a beautiful room waiting for Serina to return, her own life a footnote. Unremarkable. Invisible. Forgotten. 

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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.

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4 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

PROS:

  • Headstrong, outspoken, risk-taking women who fight for their sisters and stick up for the women around them. These girls were raised to accept gender stereotypes, to remain uneducated, demure, and submissive. Their whole purpose in life-if they weren’t training to be a Grace-is to work in a factory or be sold off into marriage. They were denied the power of knowledge, of words, of BOOKS. If they were trained to be a Grace, they had to look a specific way, eat enough to have “womanly curves”, speak only when spoken to, and were taught to deny their own opinions, their voice, and do whatever pleases the Heir. 
  • Love between sisters. I’m not sure that I have read any YA that fully captured the beautiful bond between sisters and their willingness to sacrifice themselves to protect one another. Nomi and Serina are opposites. They rarely see eye-to-eye and fight quite a bit, but they love each other with that bone deep, eternal magnitude that pushes them to survive when they are on the verge of giving up just to see each other again. Throughout the story, this feeling only grows and is reinforced through both actions and words. 
  • There is some SERIOUS heat between the couples. I had to stop and fan myself during one…kind of extensive scene. More sensual than sexual, but fire. 
  • Gladiators meet Amazonian women. Ruin Mountain has clans of women who each have their own subculture and are forced to fight to the death for food rations. They’re fierce, crafty, and willing to do whatever it takes despite their horrifying circumstances. 
  • The pacing is great. It flows, sucks you in, and it took me a little over a day to plough through.

CONS:

  • The “plot twist” was fairly predictable. It was so much like another book I read a year or two ago that I called it within the first few chapters. There are shades of The Sin Eater’s Daughter, The Red Queen, and Cruel Beauty.
  • While the world-building is fairly solid, I would have loved to hear more of the back story. The brief moments of history and the folklore were intriguing and those legends, it was like a new brand of mythology meets historical fiction.
  • Nomi’s twin Renzo. There was zero development there are hardly anything about their relationship prior to the Grace selection and yet, Nomi expects him to take life-threatening risks for her? There wasn’t a strong enough foundation or enough for the reader to care/appreciate the risk that was being taken. 

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

Keep reading, 

Jordan

 

ARC Review: Being Hartley-Allison Rushby

3/5 Stars

Being Hartley-Allison Rushby

Publication Date: March 1, 2014

***I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review from the Patchwork Press via NetGalley

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Plot: Being Hartley is a coming of age novel told from the perspective of 15-year-old Thea Wallis. Thea comes from a legendary Hollywood family of actors, dancers, and award winners. Thea has the tell-tale Hartley hair, golden curly locks of fame. Thea’s mother has tried desperately to keep Thea out of the spotlight, even moving their home to Tasmania and keeping Thea from her family and any activities that may show signs of the Hartley talent. Thea is fed up, she yearns to shine like the rest of her family but is constantly thwarted by her mother. Thea yearns to be a dancer, hip hop despite her ballet frame and is extremely envious of her cousin Rory’s spot on the popular Saturday Morning Dance show. Because Thea has been so sheltered, her cousins are her best friends, she doesn’t have any other friends, she never got the opportunity to make any and because of this she’s incredibly lonely. When Thea’s cousin Rory disappears in L.A., Thea’s mother is called in to be a mother figure to Rory, to guide her through her transition from a child to adult star and keep her from going off the deep end. Rory is sick of everything. Dancing used to be fun but when a new producer gutted the show and is planning on updating it for a more racy, older audience, Rory feels trapped in a contract that she no longer has the heart to fulfill. Thea is used to Rory confessing everything to her and when secrets come out, Thea feels more betrayed that she thought was possible. Thea is tossed into the reality of Hollywood and the expectations and dangers she had never been exposed to because of her mother’s careful protection. Being Hartley is a humbling story of shattered dreams, new reality, and self discovery.

Fifteen-year-old Thea Wallis was born to entertain. Her mother, Oscar winning actress Cassie Hartley, thinks differently and has kept her daughter out of the spotlight since day one. Coming from showbiz royalty, it hasn’t been easy to go unnoticed, but mismatched surnames, a family home in Tasmania and a low-key scriptwriter father has made this possible.

Just like her cousin Rory on the hugely popular TV show Saturday Morning Dance, Thea loves to dance. She learns the show’s routines off by heart each week, despite her mother’s attempts to convince her that dentistry would be a far more fulfilling career choice.

However, when Rory goes off the rails in LA, Thea’s mother is suddenly left with no choice at all – Rory needs them and to LA they must go. Within forty-eight hours, Thea finds herself a long way from Tasmania and living her dream – on the road to Las Vegas with the Saturday Morning Dance team.

It doesn’t take long before Thea’s talents are discovered and she’s offered everything she’s ever wanted on a plate, including the dance partner she’s had a crush on forever. But, as her mother has always told her, Hollywood dreams come at a price. Thea soon realizes she will have to work out just how much she’s willing to pay. And, ultimately, discover her own way to be Hartley.

-via Goodreads

PROS:

  • Being Hartley is for the younger end of the YA spectrum, it’s borderline children’s fiction. Thea is very young and naïve. She’s fulled by that wonderfully vibrant and spirited mix of stubborn surety and bashfulness. Thea is cautious, she makes some hilarious comments but is always careful, analyzing the situation before speaking her mind, afraid of the backlash and upsetting her older cousin. She wants to be trusted and is a great listener. She’s there for her cousin’s in a completely understanding and candid way. Thea is worried about her cousins to the point that she reminds them to eat and to be calm. She’s attentive and wide-eyed in her innocence. As the blinders come down, Thea is awakened to the harsh reality and wisdom of her mother’s lifestyle choices for her.
  • Thea’s relationship with her parents is imperfect, it’s real, broken, and filled with Thea’s hurt. Thea can’t understand why the rest of her family gets to be a Hartley and she’s stuck being a Wallis, bland, unknown, and caged. As the book progresses Thea and her mom work on their relationship, it blossoms and grows into a beautiful blend of mutual respect and love. It’s really heartwarming.
  • The dialogue was perfect for the various age groups and flowed really well.
  • Rory is sometimes hard to like. She’s a horribly difficult brat, who’s prone to outbursts and snarky comments but on other occasions she’s playful, kind to Thea and fights hard for equality for her sickly sister Allie.
  • One of the best themes throughout this book was a very realistic look at the importance of image and choosing the ideal representation based on looks not necessarily talent. The scenes with Allie, her battles to dance through her illness and recovery are heartbreaking and her brutally honest statements are insanely powerful because she recognizes the system and accepts it.
  • The interactions between the Hartley’s, the glimpses into the older Hartley’s past paint a compelling and dark picture of the entertainment industry and its effects on family life.

CONS:

  • Being Hartley is slow to start and continues at a mild pace. There’s not much drama or suspense until almost the end of the book.
  • The love aspect felt like an afterthought and was a little bizarre. It suddenly happens with randomness and hardly any build up. I’m also not too keen on 15 and 18 year olds in relationships.

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

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Happy reading all,

-BB

 

 

Release Day Blitz: Some Like It Wild-M. Leighton #MMM

Out TODAY! M. Leighton’s second installment in the Wild Ones series features a preacher’s daughter and a bad boy with a haunted past.

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Check out that cover.

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How far will a good girl go for the bad boy she loves?

Laney Holt is a preacher’s daughter. A good girl. Her only goal was to get married, have babies, and live happily ever after, just like her parents. Only that didn’t happen. The two people closest to her betrayed her, and Laney’s dreams came crashing down. Now she’s left with an empty space she doesn’t know how to fill. Until she meets Jake Theopolis, a daredevil with a death wish who has heartbreaker written all over him.

Jake has no interest in thinking beyond the here and now. All he wants out of life is the next rush, the next “feel-good” thing to keep his mind off the pain of his past. His latest rush? Showing Laney there’s more to life than being a good girl—and that going bad can be so much fun. Her only concern now is how she can ever hope to satisfy the wild side of a boy like Jake. She’s looking forward to trying. And so is Jake.

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Get it on Amazon

This is already at the top of my TBR pile. I love M. Leighton. Her Madly series  is one of my favorite of all time and it makes me so happy to share this release with you as well as these sizzling images! Enjoy and pleasant reading all, 

-BB