ARC Review: Storm Fall-Tracy Banghart

StormFall_300wGoodreads/Amazon

Storm Fall (Rebel Wing, #2) by Tracy Banghart

Release Date: December 16, 2014

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In the action-packed sequel to Rebel Wing, Aris battles for life and love . . . and not everyone will survive.

Aris Haan gave up everything to join the Atalantan Military: her family, her boyfriend, even her identity. In the end, though, it didn’t matter that she was a war hero. When the all-male Military discovered that she was actually a woman, she was sent home and erased from history.

Now she has a chance to go back to the battlefield—as herself. But as hard as it was to be a soldier in disguise, it’s even more difficult now. The men in her unit undermine her at every turn. The Safaran army has spies everywhere, perhaps even on Aris’s stationpoint. And she’s falling for her mysterious superior officer, Milek. But their relationship is forbidden, just stolen moments between training sessions and missions. There’s no room for love in war.

Then Aris discovers that Safara’s leaders have set their sights on her, Atalanta’s hero. And she must find them before they find her . . .

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***I received this eARC in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley and Alloy Entertainment

I’ve been a huge fan of Tracy Banghart’s Rebel Wing series since before it was called that. I was lucky enough to receive a review copy of Shattered Veil (now Rebel Wing) when it was first released. I fell in love with this elaborate world made of fierce women, worn torn cities ravaged by manipulation and sadistic leaders, and heady romance. Sometimes a sequel can fall flat, especially after such a brilliant start but Storm Fall brought elements to the story that were only blossoming in Rebel Wing and laid the foundation for even more action, devastation and sacrifice to come. I finished reading about 30 minutes ago and I’m already yearning for the next book.

PROS:

  • Aris is a powerful, courageous character. She stands up for herself and her fellow female officers against adversity and harassment. She has an unwavering moral compass but perhaps what is most compelling and inspiring is her regard for human life. Everyone is precious and deserves a chance to breathe the beauty of the world, to laugh and love even when everything is crashing down in a flurry of gunfire, smoke, and torture. Each time  Aris hits the sky, dancing through the air in her wingjet it’s an exhilarating, freeing experience. Her passion, her thirst to save the injured, to save the world from the darkness of corrupt political leaders is a battle much bigger than her but she doesn’t question her path. Aris risks everything for a brighter, peaceful tomorrow and understands that bloodshed in a necessary, traumatic part of that process. The way she remains in control as enemy fire is raining down on her is remarkable. Aris has come so far from who she was in Rebel Wing, her convictions and protectiveness reign supreme and though she’s conflicted when it comes to her heart, Aris always puts Atalanta’s cause above her own.
  • The suspense is killer. There’s a constant foreboding and sickening danger on each mission. There’s no guarantees of life or saving, everything is precarious and even the main characters may fall prey to a wayward gun or precise target. Tracy Banghart doesn’t sugarcoat war. She presents it as bleak, debilitating and made of decisions that are so heart wrenching and hard you’ll question your humanity. Death can come in the blink of an eye or at the hands of vile torturers. Civilian casualties, POWs, and refugees are all depicted with a stark reality. Banghart gives a face and side to both warring nations, highlighting the grey area between good and evil and the fallacy with charging an entire country for the fault of a small group/dictator.
  • The ending. So many feels erupted in an explosion of terror and elation. The ecstatic tension between characters, the terrifying news of what’s to come, and the staggering loss is overwhelming but in a stunning, deeply satisfying way.
  • Recon and battle scenes are vibrant, action-packed and detailed. It’s almost like playing Call of Duty as the scenes unfold.
  • Milek. I thought I loved him before but now, I realize that was respect and a teensy bit of infatuation. This Milek is worthy of the top spot on my book boyfriend list. His hard exterior, the sharp tones, the way he hold himself with such power and strength. So sexy. His confidence and authority are staggering. He’s in control and gives orders like nobody’s business. Yet, he has a playful side. The disciplinary action was hilarious. He wavers between gruff formality and this endearing charm when he lowers his guard. The way he is with Aris…sigh. He worships her. He sees her for exactly who she is, a take charge, incredibly powerful woman who fights through her fears and throws punches. He doesn’t tell her to be anything she’s not, he simply looks on and falls, hanging on her every word, movement, action. It’s a hot, urgent love that will leave you breathless and eager for more of them.
  • Dysis is back and as lively as ever. The girl is reckless, violent, and acts first but she is definitely a force to be reckoned with and the best friend Aris could ever ask for. Her sections were moving. Seeing her internal conflicts, her pain, and the agony, the bittersweet agony is heartbreaking.
  • Calix is a surprise. He’s had moments of epiphany and understanding that have effectively helped him become an amazing man. The boy who got lost in rules and expectations is gone and in his place is someone willing to put everything on the line for a chance at an apology. He steps up and miraculously doesn’t crumble but excels. 

CONS:

  • A broader look at the militaristic events and agreements between the other countries would have been invaluable. The discussion of aid is brief and the reader can’t form a full picture of the state of the world. It looks as though the war is between two forces and the effects of this carnage are small when in reality, everything is in a delicate balance of give and take, safety and sacrifice for each nation.
  • Galena’s sections were too short for my liking. The huge reunion at the end left so much unsaid and I couldn’t help but feel disappointed. I was out for blood after the nauseating and twisted events in book one.

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

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Happy reading,

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ARC Review: Shattered Veil-Tracy E. Banghart

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Shattered Veil (The Diatous Wars, #1)-Tracy E. Banghart

YA Dystopian

Release Date: February 28, 2014

*I received this ARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley and Tracy E. Banghart

Goodreads/Amazon/Barnes and Noble

Warmth rolled in slow, heavy waves from her cheeks down low into her belly. For a while, Aris didn’t think. She lived in the heated space between their bodies, in the slick warmth of Calix’s mouth. Every thought, fear, memory faded and the world was reduced to the wildness of the ocean throwing itself to the shore, the fathomless swish of rain against the sand. To the hardness of the rocks that enclosed them, the hardness of his body beneath her.

***

Galena fell to her knees, powerless to stop the flames from curling around his body, powerless to stop his writhing. The heat licked at her knees, at her hands and she was on fire too, screaming as it engulfed her, the demons of hell licking her cheeks, giggling and skittering in red-edged shadows before her eyes. Locked in torment forever, she burned.

Shattered Veil is one of those books that you want to read in one sitting and curse life for getting in the way; one of those books that leaves you breathless and wanting, savoring the wonderful escape from the world into one fueled by desire, danger, and political intrigue; Shattered Veil is one of those books that you need to recover from, to slowly wean yourself away from and come back to reality. The world stops, everything is suspended, and in that perfect moment when you read the final page, you won’t know whether to laugh or cry. The bittersweet, fantastic journey has left a whirlwind of emotional carnage behind and yet somehow, the world seems brighter, and that contented, satisfied feeling that only comes when finishing an amazing book will cocoon you in its warmth.

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When everything that defines you is stripped away, who do you become?

War has invaded Atalanta’s quiet villages and lush woodlands, igniting whispered worries in its glittering capitol. Far from the front lines, 18-year-old Aris Haan, a talented wingjet flyer, has little cause for concern. Until her beloved Calix is thrust into the fray, and a stranger makes her an impossible offer: the chance to join a secret army of women embedded within the all-male military.

Aris’s choice to follow Calix to war will do more than put her in physical danger; it will make her question everything she believes about herself. When she and her enigmatic commander uncover a deadly conspiracy, her expert flying may be the only hope for her dominion’s survival…and her own.

It’s Mulan meets Battlestar Galactica, with a heroine who is strong enough to save a nation…but only if she’s willing to sacrifice everything, even the one promise she swore she’d never break.

-via Goodreads

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  • The cover is beautiful. It’s thought-provoking, colorful, and each link in that bracelet features little pictures that are almost like a hidden objects game, waiting to be discovered and pieced together to create a bigger picture. The opalescence, the tagline, everything draws you into the mystery of the book.
  • Aris is the bravest, fiercest protagonist. She’s a survivor through and through. Her self discovery is poignant, brilliantly written and full of raw, striking emotions and truths.
  • Some scenes are almost whimsical, they’re poetic and romantic, while others are graphic, grotesque depictions of the horrors of war and torture. These are balanced by the alternating perspectives of Aris and Galena. Both are compelling, dominant female warriors in their own right, one in the military and the other as Ward of Ruslana. They overcome terrifying, sadistic obstacles and put everything on the line to protect the ones they love and gain their freedom as women. The sheer feminism is striking in that each woman is unique in her reasons for aiding the war cause, their conflicted feelings about how to function and keep their secret as men but still maintain their sense of self as women is complex and delves acutely into what exactly it means to be a woman in a masculine world like the military. I admired and was very impressed with the fact that although the female characters had to become men essentially to achieve their goals, they were never unaware or damning of their gender. They recognized what others perceived as their weakness as women and blatantly challenged that idea.
  • Often in YA, physical beauty is a key component to how the female protagonist views herself and how others see her. Shattered Veil transcends that idea, physical beauty is not mulled over or focused on but attributes are highlight, what these women can accomplish is paramount to their character and their development as both women and people in general.
  • Shattered Veil deals with very relevant political issues regarding gender inequality and resource allocation. Banghart depicts the underlying motivations and manipulations in a somewhat farfetched but real way.
  • The dystopian world, dividing into 5 regions and different sectors is meticulous. Everything is detailed from the geographical attributes to the cultural characteristics of the people there. That the names of the regions are so close to what they are in reality adds another layer of foreboding and suspense to the story.
  • Galena is such a heartbreaking, agonizing character. Her suffering is almost unbearable. The nostalgic, dream-like state that she collapses into in order to cope is a revelation of her heart. She’s a magnetic, driven woman with a broken heart and perseverance beyond anything imaginable. That she continues to fight in the face of her trauma is remarkable and inspiring, no matter how dismal and dark her situation, her strength sparks desperate hope for a happy ending.
  • Romance is dealt with in an open, realistic way. That defeated, sad realization that people change and what we once thought was no longer works is so well written and easy to identify with.
  • Dysis. I wish I could have seen more of her internal dialogue because this woman is a fire starter. She’s violent, opinionated, determined, and kind of crazy at times but has the biggest heart. Her love for her brother and the ends she’s willing to go to for him is out of this world. The battle within herself to keep up the charade and to uncover intel about her brother is brutal. You’ll want to hug her and restrain her at the same time. Her heart is so open to love but her past makes truly taking the risk almost impossible.

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  • The male characters are just fleeting glimpses apart from the protagonists’ respective love interests, whether it be filial or romantic.
  • The story starts out a little slow and the gushing romantic sections may irk some but as Aris learns more about who she is as a person, it’s hard not to become enraptured with her yearning for flight, autonomy, and matters of the heart.

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Pleasant reading, if you like dystopian or powerhouse female protagonists, pick this up!

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