Prophecy of the Sisters (#1) by Michelle Zink

516fsGq7lAL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_ย Rating:ย ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸย (3.5/5)

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!

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

This is a general statement for most of my reviews, if not specified otherwise: the review will be spoiler free until the designated SPOILERS section at the end! Read that at your own peril if you have not yet read this novel!

RATING

โญโญโญโญโญ (5/5)

WRITING

The writing within this was simply stunning. It was told in first person (something I generally stay away from) but it didn’t take away from the story at all. I have to admit I am used to reading YA books, and since this is a general fiction/fantasy novel, I should have had higher expectations for the writing and for this book in general. The main character was only eighteen, but the way she described everything was so detailed that I never once had to stop and go back and try to figure out what was going on in the world created here. The writing was enthralling and engaging, the characters and places jumping off the page as if they were right in front of me, flesh and blood and wood and stone. It was really remarkable, as I have had few instances in the past few years of reading where I wasย this intent on finishing a novel.

Sidebar: I actually read this as a read-along with my dearest bookishdarling Ace, and because of that I was forced to read it little by little. At the beginning I just really wanted to read it all in one sitting, but I’m very glad that I read it slowly. It gave me more time to appreciate the way the writing could keep pulling me in even after reading 30 to 50 pages and then coming back to it twenty four hours later. It was really amazing how I could end on a cliffhanger and return to it with excitement and anticipation and Naomi Novik was able to suck me back in without it even being a struggle for me to remember what was happening.

The world she created was full of life, the Woods themselves were truly stunning, frightening and towering tall above me. During some of the passages I actually felt them crowding around me, and in others, I could feel the cool chill inside the Dragon’s tower, the stuffiness of the court…gosh, everything just came so to life that I was completely taken away.

Note to self: read more general fiction/fantasy if it’s as amazing as this!

PLOT

The blurb on the back gives you little to no inkling of what’s going to happen. The blurb takes place in the first chapter and then you’re running blind. I’ll tell you aย tinyย bit more about the plot just to give you an idea. The main character is named Agnieszka and she is a girl from a small village. Like stated in the blurb, a wizard called The Dragon chooses a girl every ten years to bring to his tower. Everyone thinks it will be Agnieszka’s best friend Kaisa, but it’s actually Agnieszka herself! The Dragon takes her away from her family, and Agnieszka basically goes kicking and screaming once she’s been taken away. The Dragon is there in their land to fight off the evil magic of The Wood, a powerful and dark forest that has a life of its own. Agnieszka and the Dragon find their lives and fates more intertwined than either of them could imagine as the power of The Wood starts to overcome the powerful wizards of the land.

So that’s a tiny bit more you get about the plot. I don’t want to say too much and risk completely spoiling the book. I really loved how I just read the back and was thrown into the story. The plot takes some turns and twists that I both expected and didn’t expect, and it was a wonderful ride. All throughout it had a feeling of a fairy tale; the type that the Grimm Brothers originally wrote, with death and macabre touches. The entirety of the story was just that: a big fairy tale. I’m told it’s based off of Polish fairytales, and the lands and language within the story also give nods to that part of the world, while also being in a completely made-up world.

I was never disappointed in the plot, and the ending tied everything up perfectly in a bow, which I wasn’t expecting but happy to have. I much prefer reading standalone books these days, and this one was superbly done, creating a full, enticing story all in one written world, while leaving the reader with a little more to think about past the ending and also about the world in general.

CHARACTERS

Agnieszka was one of my favorite protagonists I have ever had to read. She was so flawed that she was utterly human. She was scared, she was brave, she was reckless, she was kind, she acted accordingly to the situations around her in a way that painted her as an actual human being. I believe in chapter three I instantly decided that she was going to be my favorite female character in a fantasy series. I’m not sure anyone can top her andย that scene (I’ll talk about this in the spoilers down below!). I think that any young woman should definitely read this book if just to see how someone not “perfect” can still be strong and carry an entire story on her shoulders with ease.

The Dragon is another character I really enjoyed. At first I was put off by him…because Agnieszka was put off by him and she was the narrator. I was happy to see him (and all of the other characters in the book as well) not being romanticized or falling into cliches. His personality stayed the same through the entire book, though we did get to see some layers of him as the story progressed. I almost want to say he wasn’t that big of a part in the book as you’d imagine, but that may be my own personal bias, as I was completely focused on Agnieszka.

I want to talk about other characters but I fear that will spoil you, so read below only if you want to in the spoilers section!

GENERAL THOUGHTS

Hands down I think this is the best book I’ve read probably in my whole life, a notch below the Lord of the Rings series. I’ve had a few days to really digest and think about this, and I still think that fact holds true. It’s just so well done, it had everything in it that I was hoping and looking for and I wasn’t never disappointed, not even a little bit. I think a lot of that had to do with it being a general fantasy rather than an YA book, but I still think that once I dive more into general fiction, this will still be up on a pedestal. It’s just that amazing.

I want this book to now be that one that I tellย everyone to read! It’s just too good to go unnoticed by people I know who will thoroughly enjoy it as much as I did.

As I was reading, I was thinking it had a touch of Beauty and the Beast in it, and then it sort of just escalated and became entirely it’s own thing. I really dislike comparing books to other books because, in my opinion, if a book cannot stand on its own, maybe it’s not as great as itย should be.

Below is a section of blatant spoilers where I gush about certain events in the book! Don’t read on if you don’t want to be spoiled to bits!

!!!!SPOILERS!!!!

Ahhhhhh! I loved this so much! Time to scream about it!!

Ace and I originally read this because we were trying to find books with asexual characters in them. This came up on every list, and I’m not sure which character it was talking about…Kaisa? The Dragon? Agneiszka? It was hard to tell since the “romance” was so tiny. I found that I didn’t really care all that much who the supposed asexual person was, because the romance was handled well enough and didn’t overpower or become a driving force for the plot at any one time.

The scene that I decided Agneiszka was gonna be my favorite protag ever was when she beat up the prince with a food tray. I just…it was so unexpected I was laughing by the time I ended the chapter and I was just so stunned at the turn of events.

At first I wasn’t too impressed with the Agneiska/Dragon thing…y’know, where their magic fuses together and they almost have sex in the library…I was like, ugh noooo why is this a thing? But then I remembered I wasn’t reading a YA novel and the situation was handled really well. I understood why it happened in the first place, and it was addressed in the future when they fused magic again, and when they actually did sleep together, it was their own will and not magic pulling the strings. I’m still a bit iffy about the “romance”, I kind of wish it had stayed platonic, but that’s just me, since I did go into thinking the main character was gonna be asexual…not to say asexuals can’t be in relationships or don’t have sex, but yeah….this is getting messy, I’ll shush now.

I was totally shocked to see Kaisa become such a huge part in the story, but I loved her so much. She became just as important as she’d been raised to believe that she would be. She protected people, she saved children, she was just…a glowing, beautiful knight of wood and golden hair. Truly remarkable that that sort of character was a woman and not a man.

The entire history/climax at the end with the Wood Queen and the Wood itself was really interesting, because it tied up loose ends, gave purpose to the Wood and everything clicked into place for me as a reader. It also left enough questions for me to still be thinking about it later on. Will they ever be able to reunite her with her kin? Will the Wood ever really be tamed? So many questions! Questions that I’m totally okay with having and thinking about for years to come.