When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

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Plot:ย This book follows two protagonists, Dimple Shah and Rishi Patel. Dimple is the science minded daughter to two traditional Indian parents; she and her mother clash on everything, from Dimple’s appearance (she doesn’t wear makeup and keeps her hair short) to her desire to go to college for a career, not to find a husband. Rishi is the quintessential first-born son to Indian parents: he follows the rules, he does as his parents ask of him and what is good and right, even if it means giving up on his hopes and dreams. Their paths collide when Dimple’s parents miraculously allow her to go to a summer coding convention where high school graduates try to create a working app in six weeks before going to college. Unbeknownst to her, Rishi is also there, under the impression that both of them are aware this was a marriage setup by their parents. Rishi is confused and surprised when Dimple has no idea what he’s talking about when he tells her they’re to be married, and Dimple has the natural reaction to toss her coffee on him. When the two of them are paired up to work on the coding project together, it’s a battle of the wills and a clashing of old traditions and new as these two sharp young minds try to find their places in the world.

Review: I was so excited to read this book, I ate it up like delicious chocolate. My best friend of 10 years is also Indian and her parents moved to America when she was young, and her story reminded me of Dimple so much (not to mention they have the same last name). Or maybe it was Dimple who reminded me of my friend? Either way, they both want normal, American lives, and while they love their parents and respect traditions, they also want to be their own person. (I’ll stop talking about my friend now BTW.) Dimple was a delight to read, because she was focused on her goal to become a coder and her desire for it never wavered even in the face of diversity (her parents). Rishi was a little harder for me to connect with personally, but I thoroughly enjoyed his view of the world, and how much he cared for his parents and respected them. It’s so rare that a YA book involves parents, much less those who support and care for their children, so that was really great to read!

I learned so much about Indian tradition and day-to-day life by reading this. It was truly a learning experience for me, and one that was completely and utterly adorable to read. There is something truly special about an #ownvoices book, because the culture and multiple languages isn’t forced or just used as a stereotype: it comes from life experience, which makes it so much more engaging and education for someone outside.

As for the story itself, the pacing was a tad bit choppy and some of the cliches were very, very cliche, but all in all it was a tightly wound spool of thread that worked great for a light, contemporary read. I was hoping for a little more focus on the actual con/coding/intellectual part of the book (mostly because Dimple was also looking forward to doing that part and was determined not to get distracted from her goal of winning) but it got swept under the rug by the romance after the first quarter of the book. That’s why my rating was a little lower than 5 stars. I really did enjoy this for so many reasons though! The couple(s) talked things through instead of just accepting miscommunication and creating stupid fighting (my least favorite trope ever!) and the side characters were all fully fleshed out. The atmosphere reminded me of freshmen year of college, which was fun and nostalgic for me to read. Rishi’s storyline, the one separate from his entanglement with Dimple, was super interesting to me and I was happy that he was there for more than just a love interest role.

Prophecy of the Sisters (#1) by Michelle Zink

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Plot:ย It is sometime in the late 1800’s and Lia and Alice’s father has just passed away, leaving them orphans. In light of his death, Lia, the protagonist, notices some odd things going on with her twin, Alice, as well as an odd circular mark like a scar that appeared on her wrist recently. As the connection between Alice’s odd behavior and Lia’s wrist mark becomes clear, Lia ends up being thrown into a world of mystic magic that she can barely comprehend. Tied to a prophecy that has been repeating itself for countless generations, Lia must figure out her part and stop her dark sister from going forward with any sinister plans. But, not all is what it seems for these two sixteen year old girls, and their world is about to change and never be the same.

Review:ย This review is based off a reread. I read the first book when it just came out and then bought the rest of the series but never reading them! So, I decided to reread this and dive back into the series. I had a hard time my first go round with the first-person-present-tense writing form, but had no problem my second time. It is worth it to push yourself if you have trouble with not-the-norm forms of writing. I’m not entirely sure what gripped me into this story. Maybe it was the gorgeous cover? (I rarely like covers with photographs of models on them but for this one they actually fit well and I adore them.) Or maybe it was the Victorian era of softness and chivalry. I’m not certain.

The main push of the story, the prophecy itself, confused me. I know that it was meant to, considering it’s told through Lia’s eyes and we, as readers only know what she knows, but it was highly confusing and irritating to having to keep going back to reread it as Lia and the other characters talked about other lines in the prophecy. There were too many words starting with the same letters (Gate/Guardian, Samael/Samhain) so it was confusing to have to keep track of them, especially when their roles in the story are never fully explained in the first book. At least not to the extent in which I would have liked as a reader.

The overall theme/arc of the book is the battle between Lia and Alice, though there is never any climax to that through the entirety of this first book in the trilogy. There really are very few high points in the novel, and it keeps an even plateau feeling when it comes to lulls and highs. Not my favorite sort of way to tell a story, but I was so eager to figure out the prophecy myself that it kept me reading even though the story was almost too stagnant for my liking. There was also the small matter of the characters saying “all right” almost every time they spoke. Not just one of the characters, like a character quirk, but ALL OF THEM! I get that it’s Victorian era so you have to try to make it sound like they’re from a different time, but when three characters all have dialogue on the same page and they all say “all right?” after a sentence as an affirmation/question, it gets kind of annoying. These two reasons are why the star rating is a bit low, but I do plan on continuing onward and finishing the trilogy! I just hope some action starts to happen.

The Edge Chronicles (#1-10) by Paul Stewart & Chris Riddell

Note: This is going to be done differently than most of my other reviews, as I am reviewing an entire series. That will make this review longer and with a different format than my previous reviews! The following series was published non-linearly when it comes to content storyline, however, I read them by the numbers written on the spines and therefore have grouped them in respective trilogies in the order in which I read them. If you want to follow the author’s advice on how to read them, check out THIS LINK and decide for yourself! There will be some mild spoilers for the series, though I will try my hardest not to spoil too much.

The Twig Trilogy

Beyond the Deepwoods (#1):ย ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸย (5/5)
Stormchaser (#2):ย ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸย (5/5)
Midnight over Sanctaphrax (#3):ย ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸย (5/5)

Plot:ย The first trilogy follows the young protagonist, Twig, who was, to his knowledge, born and raised by woodtrolls in the vast forest called Deepwoods, situated in a world called the Edge. He soon finds out that he in fact was left in the forest with the woodtrolls by his true parents. Twig starts out his adventure by getting lost in the Deepwoods and finally finding his way across a vast white marsh and to the cities of civilization near the very edge of where the world stops on a steep cliff. Along the way, Twig finds his father and becomes a sky pirate in his own right and he and his friends end up being witness to the greatest event in history: the loss of the floating city of Sanctaphrax.

Review: These books are truly a delight. The world is so vivid and unique that it immediately draws you in. It took me no time at all to enjoy reading of Twig’s adventures, especially as more creatures and cultures were introduced. The writing was spot on, and, as an added bonus, there are dozens of brilliant illustrations throughout each book that helps the reader fully realize the world that they are reading about. Even as an adult, I felt like this was an extremely sophisticated series that anyone of any age could enjoy fully. The adventure never ended, and the themes of friendship and family and human error are rampant through this and the other books as well.

The Quint Trilogy

The Curse of the Gloamglozer (#4):ย ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸย (5/5)
The Winter Knights (#5):ย ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸย (4/5)
Clash of the Sky Galleons (#6):ย ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸย (5/5)

Plot:ย You start off this trilogy meeting Maris, daughter of the Most High Academe in the floating city of Sanctaphrax, and Quint, the son of the sky pirate, Wind Jackel, who very recently lost his entire family (wife and five other sons) to a terrible fire. Anyone paying attention in The Twig Trilogy will recognize Maris as Twig’s mother, making this a series about Twig’s parents. It follows Quint and Maris as they become friends and uncover the dark secrets brewing in the heart of the great floating rock. Following that, Quint grows older, becomes a sky pirate of his own, and helps his father take revenge on the man who killed their family.

Review:ย I was originally thrown off about who the main character was, and it took me longer than it should have to realize it was Twig’s father! And it’s also funny that this trilogy had my favorite and least favorite book in the entire series in it.ย The Curse of the Gloamglozer was my favorite story out of all 10 books, because it was so rich and dark and full of adventure from the first page to the very last. However,ย The Winter Knights was my least favorite, as nothing actually happened in it at all. It was still entertaining to read, because you learned more about the world of the Edge in that single book than the entire rest of the series, but after the breathtaking adventure ofย TCOTG,ย TWK fell flat for me. However, the story picked up its pace very quickly with the third book. It was such a unique experience to read about characters I knew of from years later in The Twig Trilogy. One thing that Paul Stewart does amazingly throughout this entire series is interviewing the world in such a way that nothing is coincidence and every character introduced is someone you should remember in case they show up again.

The Rook Trilogy

The Last of the Sky Pirates (#7):ย ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸย (5/5)
Vox (#8):ย ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸย (5/5)
Freeglader (#9):ย ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸย (5/5)

Plot: Fifty years after the plot of The Twig Trilogy, we find the world a new and unknown world. The great buoyant rocks that once created flight for the sky pirates are sick and no longer fly. The great librarians are forced to live underground in the sewers beneath Undertown, which is where we meet our protagonist, Rook Barkwater, a young under-librarian. He is chosen to travel from Undertown, across the Mire and Twilight Woods to the Deepwoods, where there is a settlement called the Free Glades, where people can live free from the rule of an evil trio of creatures. Along his journey, Rook meets an old sky pirate, fights the fierce skryke bird warriors, flies on a thin craft lifted ย the light floating wood and sails, and fights to free the Free Glades. All the while, another new change is brewing in the world, ready to change the face of the Edge forever, and it’s up to Rook to save everyone from certain death.

Review: The Twig Trilogy and The Quint Trilogy were relatively similar, as they took place in a familiar Edge that the reader got very comfortable reading. Rook’s world, however, was so different, I had a hard time figuring out the timeline until it explicitly told you in the text. Rook was young and adventurous, like the other two protagonists, but he had more friends and more emotional struggle than the others. With each page I read, I was thinking of the first six books and having the face of the Edge change in my mind as changes took place. It was quite exhilarating to read through so many generations in a world that was constantly changing, from geological changes to introductions of new species and places in the Edge that we hadn’t heard of before. Again, the ties started way back in book 1 continued to tie together in these three books. It was like a big giant puzzle trying to figure out how every character fit together and why some sounded familiar as you were reading. It was truly a powerful read and this trilogy, like the others didn’t shy away from blood and violence and death.

10ย Rating:ย ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸย (5/5)

Plot:ย Once again transported into the future, this book takes place about 500 years after The Rook Trilogy. We see a world completely transformed, where people live in the Deepwoods and harvest stormphrax from the ground where it sank through the Twilight Woods’ ground. We meet Nate Quarter, a recent orphan, who finds himself run out of his familiar life when his friend is murdered trying to save him. Things keep going wrong for Nate. He meets a number of interesting characters and settles into a life in a city of Great Glade, only to find his life upturned once again and set him on the run with a growing ensemble of former librarians, old sky pirates and various creatures. The story follow’s Nate’s journey to clear his name, his friend Eudoxnia’s journey to find her kidnapped father, a former librarian’s journey to find his brother who is missing, and the general question of the disappearances of entire towns of woodtrolls and slaughterers and other natives to the Deepwoods.

Review:ย I indeed read this as if it were the last book in the series. It is twice the size of any other other books, and condenses what could have been a full trilogy into one hefty novel. This world is completely unrecognizable to the world that Twig introduced us to. This world is darker but grander and has more to offer when it comes to the ties to previous characters. Nate is a highly likable character to be the protagonist, and he creates a great band of misfits into a family not of blood but of experiences together. It was paced perfectly, and somehow all of the questions I had been building up from the previous nine books were almost all answered by the time I reached the end. I also found myself completely flabbergasted by the amazing plot twist near the end of this book. I hadn’t seen it coming and yet it was so simple that it completely threw me in an amazing way that I haven’t been completely surprised since I read Harry Potter.ย It almost made me not want to read the (possibly) last trilogy that isn’t quite complete yet, because this was such a lovely ending and it tied together just about everything that I was questioning. I do, however, want to read the (probably) last three books once the final one is released!

The Girl At Midnight by Melissa Grey

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(4/5)

Plot:ย Echo lives in a world where she doesn’t belong. An orphaned human child, she gets taken in by the Ala, who is Avicen, a species of birdlike humanoids who live in the underbelly of the human world. Their rivals are the Drakhair, dragon-like beings, with whom they’ve been fighting with for centuries. Echo is just a simple thief who knows just enough magic to portal herself around the world, and she’s content with her life. She has the Ala in place of a parent, Ivy as a best friend and a budding new romance with the golden feathered Rowan. Echo’s life starts to tumble from the moment when she steals a music box from a warlock. She learns that the fabledย firebird of legend is actually real and the Ala sends her on a mission to find it. The mission sends her across the world, gets her tossed into dungeons, thrown into a mix of characters never expected to interact, and get a crash course in how to reallyย live rather than to just survive.

Review:ย From the get-go, this reminded me a whole hell of a lot of Laini Taylor’sย Daughter of Smoke and Bone: human orphan taken in by otherworldly creature, they accept her, but maybe not fully, human learns a little bit of magic to get by, there’s “bad guys” and there’s a flit of romance with said “bad guy”. However, the books were different enough for me to become fully invested withinย The Girl At Midnight. The world was artfully created, and the characters felt real, even though they were covered with feathers or scales. The characters also drew me in, since they were a bit more developed and complex than a lot of YA characters; Echo wasn’t a typical mousey protagonist without agency…she stood her ground, had history, had secrets, had motives…it was all really well done.

The storyline itself, away from the magic of it all, was very predictable. I didn’t mind knowing what was going to happen by the end of the book when I was less than half-way through. The characters drove through well enough to keep me excited to see their reactions to what was happening around them. The predictability is the reason why I gave this four stars, rather than five. This book is 100% what I would call a mashup of magical realism and urban fantasy, but it’s always hard to categorize these days since many books cover many genres. Needless to say, it’s my favorite type of magic-meets-urban-world setting, and the writing’s pace made me forget that I knew what was happening until I got to the climaxes and found myself un-surprised.

I loved each second of this book, and I’m totally interested in reading the concluding novels to the trilogy (I think?), just to see if the story starts to get a bit more unpredictable. I want to read more about the characters and the relationships that were introduced in this first book–from the good to the bad.

The Edge Chronicles (#1): Beyond the Deepwoods by Paul Stewart & Chris Riddell

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Note: This is the first in a 10 book Middle Reader series. I don’t believe I will review each book of the series, but I will do a full review for this first book, and I will do a combined review of the entire series once I’m finished!

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(5/5)

Plot:ย This book takes place in a made-up world where there are creatures and beings unlike the world around us. There are all kinds of goblins, trolls, elves and totally fantastical creatures by many ridiculous and scary names. This book starts us off introducing us to Twig, a woodtroll who has never fit in. He is tall and thin and does not have the same aptitudes of the short and squat woodtrolls around him. When it is revealed to him by his mother that he is not her blood son, that she found him at the base of her tree, Twig is sent away on a journey that will change the course of his life. He is supposed to go to a family member’s home, but instead, being thirteen and easily swayed by the treachery of the Deepwoods. There he meets slaughterers, banderbears, goblins and creatures he has no names for all leading up to one final destination: the sky pirates.

Review:ย Because of the cover, I knew what sort of story I was walking into and I was not disappointed. It was fun and vivid, with the graphics drawn by Chris Riddell bringing to life this intense world created for a children’s series. It had much more world-building than I expected, especially for 1) a kid’s series and 2) the first book in a kid’s series. I was only a quarter through when I realized it reminded me of a mixture of Lord of the Rings and The Spiderwick Chronicles.

The main character is adorable and lovable if not a bit gullible, but if he wasn’t, he wouldn’t get into the adventures that he gets into! The action is non-stop and, like I said, the graphics are amazing and really bring to life the story. Even as an adult, I had a fun time reading this and am happily waiting to read the rest of the series. My boyfriend has this series and told me it isย the series that got him into reading when he was younger. Because of this I was obviously stoked to read it, and I am so glad that I did. I would recommend this to really anyone…an adult who wants to take a step back into their childhood and have some adventures, a young person who loves reading and fantasy, a young person who doesn’t like reading and needs a good series to push them over the edge…it really has it all. It’s got consequences for actions and choices, and a main character who is finding himself and never strays from his morals, and a slew of characters who will entertain with each page turn.

Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley

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(3/5)

Plot: Aza Ray Boyle has spent her entire life dying. With a completely new disease that makes it difficult, if not impossible, for her to breath, she’s been slowly counting down the days until she finally dies. As her days start to dwindle, Aza Ray begins to see hallucinations of skips in the sky, and no one believes her. And the freakiest part? She collapses in school, wakes up in the hospital and they find a feather in her lung! Feather…in…her…lung. Days before her sixteenth birthday, there is a freak snowstorm and she dies in an ambulance, surrounded by her dad, her sister and her best friend, Jason. Except, she doesn’t actually die. Aza Ray wakes up on one of those sky ships she thought she’d been hallucinating…surrounded by people who look like birds and birds that look like people and every combination in between. She learns then why she couldn’t breath on Earth with it’s heavy oxygen…she’s a Magonian, someone who lives in the sky. Action, a little bit of romance, and a lot of betrayal follow Aza Ray as she tries to adjust to her new life and leave her human family behind.

Review:ย I really, really love the concept of this book. The actual plot is so interesting, so unique that it blew me away. I can’t even think of anything to compare it to. When I read the first two or three chapters, I fell in love with Aza Ray as a narrator. I actually didn’t hate reading a first person YA book! However, the writing style got a bit much after the first few chapters. There isn’t actually any action that happens until almost the middle of the book. That, paired with the super vague and every-other-sentence metaphor writing style, it was hard to get into unless you just sat down and read it all at once. And even then I tended to skim a lot of the imagery. I love imagery in writing, don’t get me wrong, but when there is this much, it all bleeds together and stops being influential to the reader’s imagination.

While I continued to enjoy Aza Ray as a character–I wish she had a little bit more agency, but she had a bit more than a lot of female YA protagonists–I found myself growing tired of her narration. I was also disappointed when Jason’s PoV was added, since he sounded exactly the same as Aza Ray. That’s what’s hard about multiple first-person PoVs…you have to work really hard to separate your characters. Sure Jason had hiss quirk with pi, but other than that, I couldn’t tell a single distinguishing thing that made him stand out from Ava’s chapters.

I wasย pleasantly surprised at some of the small twists in the book, but none were totally jaw-dropping shocks. The world that the author created was definitely full of life, if not a bit confusing at first glance. I am aware that there is a sequel, but I don’t think I’ll end up reading it solely for the metaphor-heavy writing. Metaphors are meant to be powerful and stand-alone, not squished together, ten per page. I would have given this four stars if I wasn’t so bothered by the writing, but I still would recommend this to anyone who would want to read something very airy and different with interested formats in the writing style.

The Diabolic by SJ Kincaid

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(4/5)

Plot: In a futuristic, sci-fi world, humans live on space ships or in facilities on planetary moons in a distant star system after the destruction of Earth. While these people can alter their physical appearances as easily as changing their clothes, the world of humans is dwindling and growing ignorant. In a political struggle between the religious sect and the scientific sect, the Excess (those who live on planets) are trying to figure out how to repair the ships and devices and mechanics that humans have lived with all of their lives but that are now breaking. Amid this swirl of politics and ignorance lives genetically engineered humans, called Diabolics, who are trained for one purpose: to kill. After the Emperor passes a law that all Diabolics are to be killed because they are too chaotic, Sidonia Impyrean and her parents spare the life of Sidonia’s Diabolic, Nemesis. As Sidonia’s father gains the Emperor’s attention in a negative light, Nemesis is trained and transformed into Sidonia to be sent in her master’s place into the throngs of the political epicenter of their world: the mega-ship, Chrysanthemum. Pretending to be human is difficult for Nemesis, but she navigates through the world of political vipers with an ease that her sweet Sidonia would never have been able to do. Introduce the Emperor’s insane nephew and heir to the thrown, murder plots and even a visit to a planet’s surface, and you’ve got The Diabolic.

Review:ย Luckily this is one of those books that doesn’t give you a lot of info in the blurb on the jacket. It’s one of those books that is HARD to explain without giving everything away. It’s crafted delicately but deliberately, almost like Nemesis herself. Nemesis, this non-human being bred only to kill and serve Sidonia, is our narrator. That in itself brings about a very interesting point of view. Nemesis is not human, she’s never been treated as such, so her view of the world around her is completely unique. It almost made me forget how much I dislike reading first person because I was so involved in reading how her mind worked and processed things.

I had no idea what was going to happen in this book at the beginning. Everything was new and exciting as the reader had to catch up on the lingo and the new history about the human race in this world created. However, once Nemesis got to the Chrysanthemum, I could pretty much call everything that would and did happen. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed the plot. For me, there weren’t many BIG moments, just an even plateau of ebbs and flows. This may be because it took me about three weeks to read (life was crazy) so it may have a bit more impact when read during a few days time instead.

Once I got to the end of the book, I realized that this wasn’t the typical YA book. From the outside, yes, and skimming the surface of the text, yes. But once you dig just a little deeper you can see that Nemesis, the romance that builds for her, and her place and personal development…it all points toward an antagonist rather than a protagonist. I don’t want to use the words “hero” and “villain” since they’re so simple, but in this world, to me at least, Sidonia could be considered more of a hero character with Nemesis as more villainous. I am not really explaining this right, solely because to fully press my point, I’d need to use the very last chapter to quote from and I don’t want to spoil anyone!

Think of it this way: no villain thinks they’re the villain of their own story; if you wrote the villain’s story from a book or series (take Harry Potter for example) the author would write it as THEIR story, so obviously they wouldn’t be the bad guy. That is, Nemesis may have ending up doing some hanky stuff, but she always thought she was doing good.

If I wasn’t so swayed by reading things with a “Social Justice Warrior” lens, I’d probably have enjoyed this a tiny bit more, especially the odd romance. The romance that ALMOST was perfect because it was imperfect and showed as not healthy, but again, the ending sort of foiled a lot of good buildup throughout the climax of the book for me. Otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have batted an eye and given this five stars just for the originality of the world and characters.

I’d recommend this to anyone who likes interesting sci-fi, wants to feel like hating humans is valid for a little while (in light of the real world humans around us that make us a little less than supportive of our species), and who want to read a book filled with morally gray characters who can’t really be considered heroes or villains…this is the book for you!

Four of five stars just because of the way the romantic relationship was completed in the final chapter, and the semi-slowness of the plot.