Wonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons #1) by Leigh Bardugo

Released in North America on August 29th, 2017, the highly anticipated, entirely new coming-of-age story for the world’s greatest super hero, Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo,  is the first of a series of DC Icons books, inspired by some of the most well-known DC Superheroes of all-time. This new series features megastar young adult authors Leigh Bardugo (Wonder Woman), Marie Lu (Batman), Sarah J. Maas (Catwoman), and Matt de la Peña (Superman).

She will become one of the world’s greatest heroes: WONDER WOMAN. But first she is Diana, Princess of the Amazons. And her fight is just beginning. . . . Diana longs to prove herself to her legendary warrior sisters. But when the opportunity finally comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law—risking exile—to save a mere mortal. Even worse, Alia Keralis is no ordinary girl and with this single brave act, Diana may have doomed the world. Alia just wanted to escape her overprotective brother with a semester at sea. She doesn’t know she is being hunted. When a bomb detonates aboard her ship, Alia is rescued by a mysterious girl of extraordinary strength and forced to confront a horrible truth: Alia is a Warbringer—a direct descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery. Together, Diana and Alia will face an army of enemies—mortal and divine—determined to either destroy or possess the Warbringer. If they have any hope of saving both their worlds, they will have to stand side by side against the tide of war.

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An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

In Margaret Rogerson’s debut novel, An Enchantment of Ravens, a skilled human painter must stand up to the ancient power of the faerie courts—even as she falls in love with a faerie prince. Filled to the brim with folklore and beautiful prose, An Enchantment of Ravens is a must read for fans of the genre – and especially those who love all things faeries!

Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes—a weakness that could cost him his life. Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love—and that love violates the fair folks’ ruthless laws. Now both of their lives are forfeit, unless Isobel can use her skill as an artist to fight the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel.

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The Falling Kingdoms (Books 1-3) by Morgan Rhodes

Falling Kingdoms is a fantasy book series for young adults by Morgan Rhodes.It follows the lives of four teenagers, Princess Cleo, Prince Magnus, Princess Lucia, and Jonas (the wine sellers son) as they, and others, navigate through increasingly dangerous political, personal and mythical situations. This review will focus on the first three books in the series – Falling Kingdoms, Rebel Spring and Gathering Darkness. I will be reviewing the latter three books in a future review.

While I enjoyed Falling Kingdoms, Rebel Spring and Gathering DarknessI am sad to say that overall,  I found them to be lacking. The character development felt quite forced and artificial, the relationships so “black and white”, so clear-cut that they too felt forcefully constructed, and the world-building was really just lacking – sometimes it was there, and other times Rhodes seemed to just forget about it.

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Falling Kingdoms (Book 1) 

“War brought them together. Love will tear them apart.”

Princess Cleo of Mytica confronts violence for the first time in her life when a shocking murder sets her kingdom on a path to collapse. Once a privileged royal, Cleo must now summon the strength to survive in this new world and fight for her rightful place as Queen. The King of Limeros’s son, Magnus, must plan each footstep with shrewd, sharp guile if he is to earn his powerful father’s trust, while his sister, Lucia, discovers a terrifying secret about her heritage that will change everything. Rebellious Jonas lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country cruelly impoverished—and finds himself the leader of a people’s revolution centuries in the making. Witches, if found, are put to death, and Watchers, immortal beings who take the shape of hawks to visit the human world, have been almost entirely forgotten. A vicious power struggle quickly escalates to war, and these four young people collide against each other and the rise of elementia, the magic that can topple kingdoms and crown a ruler in the same day.

Falling Kingdoms was definitely an interesting book, but unfortunately I just couldn’t bring myself to love it, for several reasons. First off, this book is perhaps the best example of my earlier statement regarding character development feeling quite forced and artificial. In fact, it was less character development, and more a character suddenly morphing into a completely new person after one singular event – Jonas, Cleo and Magnus are all exemplary examples of this flaw. By comparison, Lucia’s character development felt much more holistic and natural, leaving me quite disappointed that she wasn’t featured very heavily in Falling Kingdoms.

Secondly, the world-building in this one was just all over the place – characters seemed to teleport from one location to another, and then other times travel took a more reasonable amount of time, leaving me quite confused about the actual size of Mytica.

Finally, and this is perhaps my biggest qualm with Falling Kingdoms, the writing simply felt childish. Often, the vocabulary used felt more suited to a middle grade novel than YA. Moreover, the plot development was similarly childish, building for far too long, with a disappointing climax and conclusion, leaving the reader feeling cheated. Overall, this was not a fantastic book, but I maintain high hopes for the rest of the series (2/5).

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Tower of Dawn by Sarah J Maas

Tower of Dawn is the next installment of the New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Maas. Tower of Dawn follows Chaol , Nesryn and Yrene Towers on their sweeping journey in a distant empire. This may be one of Sarah J Maas best works, highlighting just how adept Maas is at world-building, character development and story-telling.

Please note that the below review may contain some spoilers for Tower of Dawn by Sarah J Maas, in addition to other books in the Throne of Glass series. 

Chaol Westfall has always defined himself by his unwavering loyalty, his strength, and his position as the Captain of the Guard. But all of that has changed since the glass castle shattered, since his men were slaughtered, since the King of Adarlan spared him from a killing blow, but left his body broken. His only shot at recovery lies with the legendary healers of the Torre Cesme in Antica–the stronghold of the southern continent’s mighty empire. And with war looming over Dorian and Aelin back home, their survival might lie with Chaol and Nesryn convincing its rulers to ally with them. But what they discover in Antica will change them both–and be more vital to saving Erilea than they could have imagined.

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Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke

“Every story needs a hero. Every story needs a villain. Every story needs a secret. Wink, Poppy, Midnight. Two girls. One boy. One summer. One bad thing. What really happened? Someone knows. Someone is lying.”

Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke is an enthralling Young Adult Contemporary read, wherein mystery, deceit and magic coalesce; where nothing is quite as it seems, no one is quite who you think, and everything can change in an instant. Released in Canada on March 22, 2016, this short, yet intense, YA Contemporary read is a mysterious tale full of intrigue, dread, beauty, and a whiff of something strange that is a must read for fans of The Raven Cycle (Maggie Stiefvater) and We Were Liars by E.Lockhart.

Wink is the odd, mysterious neighbor girl, wild red hair and freckles. Poppy is the blond bully and the beautiful, manipulative high school queen bee. Midnight is the sweet, uncertain boy caught between them. Wink. Poppy. Midnight. Two girls. One boy. Three voices that burst onto the page in short, sharp, bewitching chapters, and spiral swiftly and inexorably toward something terrible or tricky or tremendous.

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Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller

Released on August 29th, 2017, Mask of Shadows is Linsey Miller’s debut novel, and the first book in a planned duology. Riddled with action and deceit, Mask of Shadows is sure to draw readers in right from the get-go. Perfect for YA fantasy fans of Sarah J. Maas, Susan Dennard and Leigh Bardugo, Mask of Shadows features a compelling gender fluid main character, impressive worldbuilding, and fast-paced action. I initially received an ARC of this book through Net Galley, and quickly fell in love with Miller’s writing style and irresistibly human characters – now that the finished book has (finally) been released to the world, I knew I had to pick my own copy up and share my thoughts with the world!

Sallot Leon is a thief, and a good one at that. But gender fluid Sal wants nothing more than to escape the drudgery of life as a highway robber and get closer to the upper-class-and the nobles who destroyed their home. When Sal steals a flyer for an audition to become a member of The Left Hand-the Queen’s personal assassins, named after the rings she wears-Sal jumps at the chance to infiltrate the court and get revenge. But the audition is a fight to the death filled with clever circus acrobats, lethal apothecaries, and vicious ex-soldiers. A childhood as a common criminal hardly prepared Sal for the trials. And as Sal succeeds in the competition, and wins the heart of Elise, an intriguing scribe at court, they start to dream of a new life and a different future, but one that Sal can have only if they survive (Chapters.Indigo.ca).

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Spellslinger by Sebastien de Castell

Labelled as a “witty western that will will enchant both YA and adult readers” Spellslinger by Sebastien de Castell was released in North America on May 4th, 2017. While Spellslinger may be hard to stumble across in your local bookstore (here in Canada at least), seeking out this magical book will be worth every bit of time and effort you put into it (coincidentally, if, after reading this review, you want to buy your own copy of Spellslinger, you can pick it up at The Book Depository, which conveniently has free world-wide shipping)!

There are three things that earn you a man’s name among the Jan’Tep. The first is to demonstrate the strength to defend your family. The second is to prove you can perform the high magic that defines our people. The third is surviving your sixteenth year. I was a few weeks shy of my birthday when I learned that I wouldn’t be doing any of those things. 

Kellen is moments away from facing his first mage’s duel and the start of four trials that will make him a spellcaster. There’s just one problem: his magic is gone. As his sixteenth birthday approaches, Kellen falls back on his cunning in a bid to avoid total disgrace. But when a daring stranger arrives in town, she challenges Kellen to take a different path. Ferius Parfax is one of the mysterious Argosi – a traveller who lives by her wits and the three decks of cards she carries. She’s difficult and unpredictable, but she may be Kellen’s only hope. The first in a rich and compelling fantasy series bursting with tricks, traps and a devious talking squirrel cat.

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