Tag: Prison

Book Review: Grace and Fury

Grace and Fury – Tracy Banghart – Hodder Children’s Books – Published 26 July 2018




In a world where women have no rights, sisters Serina and Nomi face two very different fates: one in the palace, the other on an island prison where women must fight to survive.

Serina has spent her whole life preparing to become a Grace – selected to stand by the heir to the throne as a shining example of the perfect woman.

But her headstrong and rebellious younger sister has a dangerous secret, and one wrong move could cost both sisters everything.

Can Serina fight? And will Nomi win?

My thoughts

Grace and Fury is a compelling and thought-provoking fantasy – no magic, just an invented world that feels historical and transports you to a place much like Venice – that asks, what would you do if you were a girl in a world where women had no power?

I am a huge fan of Tracy Banghart’s Rebel Wing series, so when a fellow reader recommended Grace and Fury to me I was quick to take up the opportunity to read and review an advanced copy of this thrilling and unique YA fantasy.

Tracy has a wonderful way of capturing the essence and voice of her characters, and Grace and Fury centres around Nomi and Serina – two sisters, both trapped in a world that offers women very few choices. Serina has trained all her life to become a Grace – a concubine of the King’s Heir, a position of esteem and luxury, if not power. Nomi hates everything about the world she lives in and rages against the constraints forced upon her. When she accompanied her sister to the palace as her handmaiden, Nomi knows she must hide her rebellion and her deadly secret. But when Nomi is chosen as the Heir’s Grace and Serina is sentenced to an island prison for Nomi’s crime, both girls must decide how much they will risk to survive.

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Book Review: Holding Smoke

Holding Smoke

Holding Smoke – Elle Cosimano – Hyperion-Disney – Published 3 May 2016



John “Smoke” Conlan is serving time for two murders but he wasn’t the one who murdered his English teacher, and he never intended to kill the only other witness to the crime. A dangerous juvenile rehabilitation center in Denver, Colorado, known as the Y, is Smoke’s new home and the only one he believes he deserves.

But, unlike his fellow inmates, Smoke is not in constant imprisonment. After a near death experience leaves him with the ability to shed his physical body at will, Smoke is able to travel freely outside the concrete walls of the Y, gathering information for himself and his fellow inmates while they’re asleep in their beds. Convinced his future is only as bright as the fluorescent lights in his cell, Smoke doesn’t care that the “threads” that bind his soul to his body are wearing thin-that one day he may not make it back in time. That is, until he meets Pink, a tough, resourceful girl who is sees him for who he truly is and wants to help him clear his name.

Now Smoke is on a journey to redemption he never thought possible. With Pink’s help, Smoke may be able to reveal the true killer, but the closer they get to the truth, the more deadly their search becomes. The web of lies, deceit, and corruption that put Smoke behind bars is more tangled than they could have ever imagined. With both of their lives on the line, Smoke will have to decide how much he’s willing to risk, and if he can envision a future worth fighting for.

My thoughts

I’ve not enough words to covey the supreme brilliance of this book. Superbly written, I was hooked from the very first line – which is about yard brawls, I might add. This book is dark and edgy and so very readable. It’s harsh and eye opening, heartbreaking and just a touch hopeful. I couldn’t put it down, intrigued by the thrilling and fast-moving plot, and addicted to the complex characters.

I haven’t read a book by Elle Cosimano before (I’m going to rectify that right away) so was initially drawn to Holding Smoke by that very intriguing summary. Is it a paranormal tale or a mystery suspense? Or better yet, both? It’s definitely both, and it is truly stunning.

John Conlan is serving a double murder sentence in a youth rehabilitation centre. No one believes him when he tells them he never killed the first victim and was acting in self-defence when he killed the only witness to the first murder. It’s complicated. But John’s life has never been easy, so he stays quiet, using his skills in gathering and trading information to stay alive inside. No one is quite sure how he gets his intel, earning him the name Smoke. But the name is more correct than they realise, as John has the ability to leave his body behind and ghost outside the centre’s walls. It’s not until he meets a spunky and determined girl who can actually see him when he is ghosting that John realises he might have a chance to change things, get answers or at least find out who is trying to kill him.      Continue reading

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