Vox (ARC) by Christina Dalcher

Set to release on August 21, 2018, Vox is Christina Dalcher’s stunningly haunting debut novel. Set in a near-future United States in which half the population has been silenced, Vox is the harrowing, unforgettable story of what one woman will do to protect herself and her daughter.

On the day the government decrees that women are no longer allowed more than 100 words daily, Dr. Jean McClellan is in denial–this can’t happen here. Not in America. Not to her. This is just the beginning. Soon women can no longer hold jobs. Girls are no longer taught to read or write. Females no longer have a voice. Before, the average person spoke sixteen thousand words a day, but now women only have one hundred to make themselves heard. But this is not the end.  For herself, her daughter, and every woman silenced, Jean will reclaim her voice.

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Sea of Strangers (ARC) by Erica Cameron

Hi Bookworms! I have some really exciting news to share with you all – I will be participating in the Sea of Strangers Blog Tour, presented by Entangled Teen!  The Blog Tour runs from December 11 – 29 (M-F), and I will be hosting the tour stop on December 27, 2017!

Sea of Strangers by Erica Cameron, is the second book in an epic fantasy series titled the Ryogan Chronicals (you can find my review for Island of Exiles here), by Cameron, which will be released on December 5th, 2017. The Ryogan Chronicles is currently predicted to be a trilogy, so there’s at least one more book to look forward to in this fresh and exciting fantasy series (Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Reader Copy of Sea of Strangers from Entangled Teen in exchange for an honest review)!

The only way for Khya to get her brother back alive is to kill Varan—the immortal ruler who can’t be killed. But not even Varan knew what he was doing when he perverted magic and humanity to become immortal. Khya’s leading her group of friends and rebels into the mountains that hold Varan’s secrets, but if risking all their lives is going to be worth it, she has to give up everything else—breaking the spell that holds her brother captive and jeopardizing her deepening relationship with Tessen, the boy who has been by turns her rival and refuge since her brother disappeared. Immortality itself might be her only answer, but if that’s where Khya has to go, she can’t ask Tessen or her friends to follow.

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Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff

“Conquer your fear, and you can conquer the world” – Jay Kristoff, Godsgrave (p.144).

Godsgrave is the second thrilling installment of the award-winning Nevernight Chronicle, from New York Times bestselling author Jay Kristoff. Released in North America on September 5th, 2017, Godsgrave has already received a plethora of stellar reviews, with editorial reviewers raving about this original piece of literature, calling it “sexier, grittier, bloodier and fiercer” than its predecessor. And I have to agree – fans of Nevernight will adore this second installment, even as Kristoff effectively rips their hearts to pieces.

In a land where three suns almost never set, a ruthless assassin continues her quest for vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family. Mia Corvere has found her place among the Blades of Our Lady of Blessed Murder, but many in the Red Church hierarchy think she’s far from earned it. Plying her bloody trade in a backwater of the Republic, she’s no closer to ending the men who destroyed her familia; in fact, she’s told directly that Consul Scaeva is off limits. But after a deadly confrontation with an old enemy, Mia’s suspicions about the Red Church’s true motives begin to grow. When it’s announced that Scaeva will be making a rare public appearance at the conclusion of the grand games in Godsgrave, Mia defies the Church and sells herself to a gladiatorial collegium for a chance to finally end him. Upon the sands of the arena, Mia finds new allies, bitter rivals, and more questions about her strange affinity for the shadows. But as conspiracies unfold within the collegium walls, and the body count rises, Mia will be forced to choose between love and revenge, and uncover a secret that could change the very face of her world.

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MINI MONDAY: Song of the Current by Sarah Tolscer

“Adventurous and dangerous! Fate and fires, pirates and shadowmen, Song of the Current will carry you into a treacherous and fantastic world, which you will not want to leave.” —Stephanie Garber, author of Caraval

From debut author Sarah Tolcser comes an immersive and romantic fantasy set along the waterways of a magical world with a headstrong heroine determined to make her mark. Song of the Current by Sarah Tolscer had been on my watch list for awhile, then my June TBR, so as soon as it was released in Canada on June 6th, 2017, I was off to the book store to pick it up! And it did not disappoint –  Song of the Current instantly swept me away to a world of fantasy, pirates and danger that is not to be missed!

Caroline Oresteia is destined for the river. For generations, her family has been called by the river god, who has guided their wherries on countless voyages throughout the Riverlands. At seventeen, Caro has spent years listening to the water, ready to meet her fate. But the river god hasn’t spoken her name yet—and if he hasn’t by now, there’s a chance he never will. Caro decides to take her future into her own hands when her father is arrested for refusing to transport a mysterious crate. By agreeing to deliver it in exchange for his release, Caro finds herself caught in a web of politics and lies, with dangerous pirates after the cargo—an arrogant courier with a secret—and without the river god to help her. With so much at stake, Caro must choose between the life she always wanted and the one she never could have imagined for herself.

 
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MINI MONDAY: Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini

Set in a world of witches, magic, and romance, Trial by Fire by internationally bestselling author Josephine Angelini is the first book of the young adult fantasy Worldwalker Trilogy.

This world is trying to kill Lily Proctor. Her life-threatening allergies make it increasingly difficult to live a normal life, and after a completely humiliating incident ruins her first (and perhaps only) real party, she’s ready to disappear.Suddenly, Lily finds herself in a different Salem. One overrun with horrifying creatures and ruled by powerful women-including Lillian, this world’s version of Lily. What made Lily weak at home, makes her extraordinary here. It also puts her in terrible danger. Faced with new responsibilities she can barely understand and a love she never expected, Lily is left with one question: How can she be the savior of this world when she is literally her own worst enemy?

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Gilded Cage by Vic James

Gilded Cage by Vic James is darkly fantastical debut set in a modern England where magically gifted aristocrats rule, and commoners are doomed to serve – for ten years of their lives, at the mercy of cruel master who view them as nothing more than chattels of the state.

“I know you like history, Abigail. Remember: those who don’t learn from it are doomed to repeat it. Or should it be: those who do learn from it are able to repeat it?” – Silyen (Vic James, Gilded Cage, p. 279)

Our world belongs to the Equals—aristocrats with magical gifts—and all commoners must serve them for ten years. But behind the gates of England’s grandest estate lies a power that could break the world. Abi is a servant to England’s most powerful family, but her spirit is free. So when she falls for one of their noble-born sons, Abi faces a terrible choice. Uncovering the family’s secrets might win her liberty—but will her heart pay the price? Abi’s brother, Luke, is enslaved in a brutal factory town. Far from his family and cruelly oppressed, he makes friends whose ideals could cost him everything. Now Luke has discovered there may be a power even greater than magic: revolution. He is a shadow in the glittering world of the Equals, with mysterious powers no one else understands. But will he liberate—or destroy? (Chapters.Indigo.ca)

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Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Are you reading Caraval? Have you read Caraval? Looking for some place to talk about the book, or share your opinions? The YA Readers Alliance is reading Caraval as our February Book of the Month, and we’d love if you would join us! Click here for more information! 

Caraval is Stephanie Garber’s break-out novel, released on January 31, 2016, and it is a fabulous one, rich with detail and intrigue. Described as spell-binding, enchangting and decadent, Caraval certainly doesn’t disappoint.

Whatever you’ve heard about Caraval, it doesn’t compare to the reality. It’s more than just a game or a performance. It’s the closest you’ll ever find to magic in this world . . . Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over. But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner. Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

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A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

“You can kill people, but you cannot kill magic.” – V.E. Schwab, A Gathering of Shadows (p. 197)

A Gathering of Shadows, released on February 23rd, 2016, is the second book in V.E. Schwab’s wildly popular A Darker Shade of Magic series (you can find my review for A Darker Shade of Magic here). Picking up some months after the concluding events of A Darker Shade of MagicV.E. Schwab dives right back into the action, illustrtaing how Lila, Kell and Rhy’s lives have moved forward, and how the ongoing events are shaping their lives.

Four months have passed since the shadow stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Rhy was wounded and the Dane twins fell, and the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift, and into Black London. In many ways, things have almost returned to normal, though Rhy is more sober, and Kell is now plagued by his guilt. Restless, and having given up smuggling, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks like she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games-an extravagant international competition of magic, meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries-a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port. But while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life, and those who were thought to be forever gone have returned. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night reappears in the morning, and so it seems Black London has risen again-and so to keep magic’s balance, another London must fall…

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The Remnant Chronicles by Mary E. Pearson (SERIES REVIEW)

The Remnant Chronicles is a three book series. The first book in the series, The Kiss of Deception, was released on July 8th, 2014, followed by The Heart of Betrayal a year later on July 7th, 2015, and completed on August 2, 2016 with the release of The Beauty of Darkness. The Remnant Chronicles is a Young Adult Fantasy series which centers around the journey of Lia of Morrigan, a young princess who flees her marriage to a foreign prince, launching her own life and multiple kingdoms into chaos.

Please note that the Mini Reviews for later books in the series feature some spoilers for the prior! 

The Kiss of Deception

She flees on her wedding day. She steals ancient documents from the Chancellor’s secret collection. She is pursued by bounty hunters sent by her own father. She is Princess Lia, seventeen, First Daughter of the House of Morrighan. The Kingdom of Morrighan is steeped in tradition and the stories of a bygone world, but some traditions Lia can’t abide. Like having to marry someone she’s never met to secure a political alliance. Fed up and ready for a new life, Lia escapes to a distant village on the morning of her wedding. She settles in among the common folk, intrigued when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive-and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deceptions swirl and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets-secrets that may unravel her world-even as she feels herself falling in love.

The Kiss of Deception gets off to a quick start, with Lia and Pauline fleeing Lia’s wedding day to a foreign prince to secure a political alliance. While this quick start is a sure way to engage readers, it also makes Lia slightly less likeable, as she comes across as a bit spoiled and stuck-up, fleeing what I perceived to be a relatively stereotypical wedding arrangement (for her world and her station). Upon settling down, Lia and Pauline quickly encounter two strangers – Rafe and Kaden. Unbeknownst to the girls, one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Despite to peril of her current situation, Lia quickly finds herself increasingly attracted to the strange men – perhaps seeking a romance of her own choice, rather than an arranged marriage. But Lia’s freedom brings many dangers – men hunt her, her parents have disavowed her, and she has no idea who she can trust. As Lia finds herself falling more deeply in love, she must make an impossible choice, before one of the men in her life makes it for her.

The Kiss of Deception is a great adventure, and an even better romance, making even the dreaded love-triangle endearing. Lia, Kaden and Rafe’s plights immediately draw the reader in, as do their morally grey decisions and motivations. The three are easy to relate to, despite the gravity of their situations. In addition, the plot is fast-paced, but easy to follow, hooking and keeping the reader’s attention early on, and hanging onto it with every twist and surprise (5/5).

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The Heart of Betrayal

Held captive in the barbarian kingdom of Venda, Lia and Rafe have little chance of escape. Desperate to save her life, Lia’s erstwhile assassin, Kaden, has told the Vendan Komizar that she has the gift, and the Komizar’s interest in Lia is greater than anyone could have foreseen. Meanwhile, nothing is straightforward: There’s Rafe, who lied to Lia but has sacrificed his freedom to protect her; Kaden, who meant to assassinate her but has now saved her life; and the Vendans, whom Lia always believed to be barbarians. Now that she lives among them, however, she realizes that may be far from the truth. Wrestling with her upbringing, her gift, and her sense of self, Lia must make powerful choices that will affect her country . . . and her own destiny.

Betrayed by Kaden, an assassin sent to kill her, Lia finds herself captured and being transported through rough terrain to the barbarian kingdom of Venda. Lia has always believed the Vendans to be barbarians, but the more she lives among them, she realizes that may be far from the truth. Rafe too has thrown himself into the hands of the Vendans, desperate to save Lia, with whom he has fallen deeply in love. But as he and Lia struggle to be together, and to find a way to escape, Lia finds herself increasingly embroiled in Vendan affairs, and in the Komizar’s plans. Furthermore, Lia struggles with her gift, unsure what she can do, and how it can be used to free herself and help the Vendans she is slowly coming to understand, and maybe even care for. Kaden is desperate to protect Lia from the Komizar’s cruel power, but unwilling to let her go. And Rafe is equally desperate to save Lia, to free them both, and warn their kingdoms of the coming danger – because the Komizar is readying an army, and war is on the horizon.

The Heart of Darkness is a story of individual growth, of love in the face of impossible odds, and off impossible choices, all leading towards a final, heart-shattering conclusion. Lia, Kaden and Rafe are once again easy to relate to, and their struggles are heart-breaking to read. The reader will find themselves drawn in by the sheer humanity infused into this tale, irregardless of the plot. That being said, the story Pearson weaves here is equally masterful, once again keeping a fast-paced plot with plenty of twists, but still finding a way to make sure the reader isn’t left behind (4/5).

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The Beauty of Darkness

Lia has survived Venda—but so has a great evil bent on the destruction of Morrighan. And only Lia can stop it. With war on the horizon, Lia has no choice but to assume her role as First Daughter, as soldier—as leader. While she struggles to reach Morrighan and warn them, she finds herself at cross-purposes with Rafe and suspicious of Kaden, who has hunted her down. In this conclusion to the Remnant Chronicles trilogy, traitors must be rooted out, sacrifices must be made, and impossible odds must be overcome as the future of every kingdom hangs in the balance.

As Lia and Rafe flee Venda with Kaden and a handful of vengeful Vendans on their heels, Lia fears the worst, desperate to return to Venda. But Rafe is terrified of putting Lia in anymore danger, and his love quickly become smothering, pushing the two further apart as they find themselves at a cross-purposes, each with their own country in mind. Finally, Lia is forced to make a heart-wrenching decision, leaving Rafe and her companions behind, striking out for Morrighan with only Kaden at her side. Her mission will involve plenty of danger, espionage and betrayal, as she seeks to root out the traitors in Morrighan’s court and redeem herself, all before the Komizar arrives to destroy everything she loves. Meanwhile, Rafe struggles to find a balance between his duty as King and his love for Lia. Finding himself forced to an impossible decision, Rafe rushes to Morrighan with an army on his heels. Everything comes to a head as Rafe, Kaden and Lia finally stand as a united front in the face of true evil – the Komizar. In battle, each will make impossible decisions, forever changing the course of their lives and the trajectory of their kingdoms.

The Beauty of Darkness is a story of loss, strength and war. No character escapes change as they come face to face with both internal and external horrors, which force them to question their decisions, their loyalties, and their future. Lia, Kaden and Rafe each face impossible decisions, and their choices render them completely bare before the reader, solidifying them as potentially some of the strongest and most human characters I have ever read in the Young Adult Fantasy genre (4/5).

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Overall, The Remnant Chronicles was a strong series, which seamlessly blended romance and adventure. Pearson created a magnificent piece of literature here, which examines human motivation, characters, political drive and individual emotion. Lia, Rafe and Kaden are enthralling, engaging “grey” characters who draw the reader into their plight almost immediately, and keep them reading as they become increasingly invested in their well-being. Lia, in particular, was an exceptionally strong female character, who embodied feminine empowerment as she went about her story, never truly the damsel in distress, but instead a strong warrior who fought for her successes and accepts her failures. The plot was well-written, with just enough complexity to be engaging, but not so complex that the reader became confused. At times, the story did become a bit fast-paced, but Pearson always reeled it back in. One downside of having such a fast-paced plot was that at times, certain details fell to the side – one such aspect was the magic system, which could have greatly benefitted from more development. Despite this, overall, Pearson has crafted a truly engaging and entertaining series, with enthralling characters, a solid plot and just the right amount of fantasy (4/5).