Series Review: Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

Book 1: Dorothy Must Die
Book 2: The Wicked will Rise
Book 3: Yellow Brick War
Book 4: The End of Oz

Overall Rating: 3/5

Synopsis: After Dorothy came back to the Oz, everything changed for the worst. Now Amy is brought in to right things, but how can she defeat Dorothy, when she is not even sure who is good and who is bad.

Review: Usually in my Series Reviews I try to put my two cents in each book within the series. For this series, I’ll try to do an overall review for all four books.

I first picked up the series two years ago with Dorothy Must Die, and I loved the new take on the famous heroine. Even with all the controversy with the author, I still wanted to give this series a try because I’m a fan of The Wizard of Oz. I enjoy fairy tale re-tellings as much as the next person, but the fact that Dorothy, the heroine of The Wizard of Oz, is more wicked than the Wicked Witch of the West, so definitely I had to see what it was all about. For me, the first installment had me at the first chapter. I enjoy the new heroine, Amy Gumm and I love seeing all the characters I loved in the old classic, but with the twist. I think Paige did a great job creating a new heroine for readers to love. Amy is the opposite of Dorothy in terms of personality and characteristics, but she’s a tough cookie that has a tough life. I also love the other characters that Paige included, it’s still a bit confusing on who to trust and such, but I’m enjoying the mystery. It was also great seeing the yellow brick road, munchkin land and all the other beautiful places in Oz. It might not look the same as I was used to, but the differences made Paige’s world different from Frank Baum’s world. I don’t really want to go into details on Paige’s world building, but I think she did a fantastic job in this first book.

The second book, The Wicked Will Rise, is also a great read, not as great as the first book, but an enjoyable sequel. There really wasn’t much that was happening to the characters that the author didn’t go through on the first book. Amy must still focus on her goal in defeating the evil Dorothy and her minions. The pacing in this book was rather fast-paced and a lot of things happen that made you want to look forward to the third book. I appreciate the romance in this second book, since it wasn’t the focal point of the story, but at the same time it was a cute added bonus. Basically, the first and second book was a great read until the last two books kicked in.

I think the third book, The Yellow Brick War, for me is the game changer. When this book was released, I was so excited because I thought this book was the last installment. I was sadly disappointed. Seriously, everyone thought this series was going to be a trilogy, and I was shocked that when I finished the book, it left with a cliffhanger. To be honest, this series did not need a fourth book, this story definitely could have ended with this last book and I think it would have been a fantastic ending. I’m really not sure why Paige thought it was a good idea to include another one, but I think everything could have been wrapped up nicely with the third installment.  I found this book to be slower than the other two books, only because the story line was stretched out to include the fourth book. The battles almost became repetitive as Amy gets taken out of battles in order to find Dorothy. As I said there is a cliffhanger at the end so beware!

Finally, the last book, The End of Oz, was even a greater disappointment as the previous, only because the ending totally gave up on me. I’m not really sure if Paige is going to do a spin-off series, or she enjoys toying with her readers, but I don’t really want to go into that. I’m not really a fan of this book out of the whole series and I really think the inclusion of this book is an afterthought. The one highlight for me in this book is Lang, I love her, a lot better than Amy in this book, but I’ll explain that later. Lang is an amazing character and the epitome of an Anti-heroine. Other than that, the book was bleh. Even Amy’s character became very bland and she seemed to loose herself with her relationship with Nox. I wish that there was more of a concrete ending to the series, but even if there will be another book, I’ll most likely skip it.

***********************SPOILER ALERT!!*********************

Ending: I hate the ending. Let’s just say she was able to defeat Dorothy.

 

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Motif Challenge: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E Scwab

darker shade of magic

Author: V.E Schab
Rating: 3.5/5
Protagonist: Kell, Delilah

Synopsis: Kell is a traveller, but not the kind that we know. She is able to move between dimensions or specifically different Londons. As a travellers he delivers notes from one monarchy to another. Unfortunately, he is also in the business of smuggling items to those who are willing to pay with treasures from their world. When he is caught during a deal gone wrong, he must fix his mistake before his world and the other Londons are destroyed.

Review: I’ve been wanting to read this book for sometime, but I’ve been putting it off month after month. Since the last book will be released this year I decided to finally pick it up at the start of the year. I want to try to read all three books this year. I don’t have much to complain about this book, I had a great reading experience, but at the same time, I didn’t love it as much as everyone did. I think my expectations were a tad too high.

One of the main reason why I picked this book up is because of the hype surrounding V.E Schwab. She’s a very popular author amongst the BookTubers. So obviously, I had to try one of her books out. To be honest, I don’t think I like this as much as other readers do. I know its a big deal with bloggers, youtubers and book lovers, but for me I wasn’t as amazed by it. Don’t get me wrong, I love the way she writes, but this book really is more of a background story, so it dragged a bit in the beginning. Since it did take awhile for the story to pick up, I didn’t fully enjoy my reading experience until half way into the book. I know all the introductory story is important to understand the world of Kell, but I would have enjoyed it even more if the main story had more length. I felt that the actual story of Kell and Lila was a bit rushed, especially the ending, I wanted a more extravagant battle. Other than that, I have no other problems.

As soon as the main story of the book came into play, I was hooked and couldn’t put the book down. Besides the fact that ending left me underwhelmed, I still enjoyed the story as a whole. I love the way V.E Schwab was able to re-create four different Londons and how each of them were unique from the environment to the people. The story is intricately woven to create one amazing story of adventure, magic and mystery. I also really enjoyed the different characters that Schwab introduced in this book. Kell is an amazing protagonist and I can’t wait to read more about him. I also really liked Lila, she brings something different to the whole story and I love how Schwab gave her a ‘devil-may-care’ attitude.

I know I gave this book such a low rating, but I really wasn’t impressed with the first half of this book, but after that, it was an amazing read. I really can’t wait to read the next two books into this trilogy. Hopefully, I’ll be able to pick up the next two book this year.

***********************SPOILER ALERT!!*********************

Ending: In Kell’s world there is four different Londons, each consisting of the same layout but with different levels of magic. Grey London had long forgotten magic, Red London magic is flourishing, White London is being overcome by magic and finally Black London has been overcome by magic. Black London used magic to try to over rule to the Londons in order to contain them, Red London sealed them close. Unfortunately, White London is the closest to Black London and they are in charge of keeping them at bay, which consequently is draining them of their life.

Kell, being an Antari, was tricked into smuggling a forbidden stone that is from Black London. Since Black London is a taboo place, any relics from this place is unwelcome in any of the Londons in fear of spreading the dark magic within it. Lila coerce Kell into letting her help him bring the stone back to its original place. Since Atari’s are the only ones who can move from one London to the other, we are led to believe that this stone helped her through her adventure, until the very end. Dun, dun, dun. Let’s leave it at that!

TBR Challenge #1: Short Shorts

stars-above

Stars Above by Marissa Meyer
Rating: 3.5/5

Theme: Short Stories, Novellas, Romance, etc. Any short books.

Why?: I chose Stars Above for two reasons: 1. It’s a short story and 2. I really want to finish this series ASAP. This book has been on my TBR since it first came out and finally, finally, I can proudly say I finish this series!

Review: I was never a die hard fan of the Lunar Chronicles, but I did enjoy them. Also, the last book basically sold me on the series. This bind up of novellas featuring Meyer’s popular series is a hit or miss for me. I enjoyed seeing the whole group again, but some of the stories within were not my favorite. I didn’t really feel that all the stories added anything new to the main story arc as a whole. I do have my favorite characters with the 6 main, so I tended to favor the stories that included them. The main reason why I enjoyed the last book because of the comradeship between the characters and the last story featured this same connection, therefore, it safe to say I loved the last story the most. I’m finding a trend here, I tend to enjoy Meyer’s last stories all the time.

I also really love the second last story of Kai’s perspective on his first encounter with Cinder. I wasn’t a fan of the first book, but it was sweet and cute to see the two characters interaction from Kai’s perspective. I applaud her in creating this scenario as a short story rather than writing a whole book of the same story and selling it as a ‘new’ book.

Well, that is that, and I’m really happy that I finished this series. YAY! *celebratory dance with confetti*

Reviews on: Scarlet and Winter

Top Ten All Time Favorite Fantasy Novels

toptentuesday

Hello Everyone and welcome to another Top Ten Tuesday! For this week were to list our 10 favorite books in a specific genre, we were able to sub-divide the genre if we wanted to. Yes, it’s quite hard to pick 10 book in one genre, but I think it’s doable.

Most would think that I would pick Mystery since it is my favorite genre, but for this Top Ten I think I will make it a bit difficult for me and choose fantasy instead. I will sub-divide this category into two: High/Epic Fantasy and Urban Fantasy.

Here is my list:

URBAN FANTASY:

HarryPotter

Harry Potter Series by J.K Rowling

No list of mine would ever be complete if these books are not in it. I love the world, the characters and the way Rowling interweaves her story to connect all of the seven books. This too me is perfection!

percy

Percy Jackson Series by Rick Riordan

I love all of Riordan’s books that I have read, by the Percy Jackson series takes the cake. I enjoy the concept of the Gods still around us and still manipulating peoples actions. I enjoy how this worlds just keeps growing and growing, with more characters being added as the different series progress.

gregor

The Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins

I admit that I only picked this up because I loved Collins’ The Hunger Games, but I’ve actually grown to love this series more than the former. I feel that this book has a lot more depth and the characters evolve with each passing novel. When I read this book, I feel that I am actually transported in the Underland and I’m alongside the protagonist. I highly recommend this for middle grade readers.

sisters grimm

The Sister’s Grimm Series by Michael Buckley

I love reading anything fairytales, from the gory original ones to the cuter fantasy re-telling of Disney. For me fairytales is fairytales. This series that Buckley has created is actually a very enjoyable and entertaining read for those who wants something different. I love the two protagonist in these books and they actually show many traits that I adore on my kick-ass heroine.

pendragon

The Pendragon Cycle by D.J. MacHale

This is actually one series that I have not talked about on this blog, but is one of the series that I have enjoyed reading growing up. Yes, there is elements of sci-fi in this novel, but for the most part, for me anyways, I have always associated it to fantasy. Just like the other books I’ve listed here, I love the protagonist, the worlds Machale created and all the diverse people he has created. This is actually one series that I need to re-read sometime soon.

HIGH/EPIC FANTASY:

Poison Study

The Study Series by Maria Snyder

I admit I didn’t really read all the books in this series yet, but this book is definitely on my favorite list. If you enjoy reading The Throne of Glass, then this is a must read on your TBR. The protagonist is lovable, but still the type that you can’t help but admire.

hobbit

The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien

I’m not sure you can create a Favorite Fantasy List without having at least one of Tolkien’s novels. His writing is magnificent and you can’t help but love the world that he has created, we all know as Middle Earth. If you’re a fantasy enthusiast then Tolkien is definitely your guy!

graceling

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

This is another book that I haven’t finished all the books, but like Poison Study, this book is amazing! Since it can be a stand a lone it doesn’t really need to co-exist with the other two in its trilogy. That being said, the world that Cashore created is vibrant and beautiful and her written words is just as amazing. She is able to transport you from one world to another.

alanna

Song of the Lioness by Tamora Pierce

I know it seems like I read nothing by strong female lead, but I really don’t. I want this list to be a bit more diverse, but I also have to stay true to what I love and enjoy reading. These books are actually a must read for anyone who loves reading. The world that Pierce creates in her novels will make Tolkien proud.

the-thief

The Queen’s Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

This is another series that is a must re-read for me. It’s been awhile since I’ve read these books and its high time that I get to them again. I love everything about these books, the characters are superbly written and the world that Turner created is just as beautiful.

That’s it for this weeks TTT. Let me know if you have any fantasy novel that you totally love and recommend for me to try. See you next week!

 

Lunar Chronicles: Scarlet (Book 2) by Marissa Meyer

Scarlet
Author: Marissa Meyer
Genre: Dystopia, Fantasy
Rating: 4/5
Protagonist(s): Scarlet Benoit, Lihn Cinder
Other Characters: Wolf/Ke’ev, Thorne, Prince Kai, Thaumaturge Jael, Levana

Synopsis: A different take on the beloved children’s fairy tale, The Little Red Riding Hood.

On her journey to find her missing grandmother, Scarlet stumble on a street fighter who is willing to help her. Unknown to her, this mystery helper has an agenda of his own. On the other side of the world, Cinder is still trying to get accustomed to her new parts and trying to wrap her mind with the problem she is facing.

Review: When I read Cinder, I listened to it on audio. I admit it wasn’t my favorite book of the year, in fact I wasn’t that impressed. I read it a second time, but actually reading it from a physical book. Now I don’t really know if it was just the audiobook that I disliked or maybe I was in a reading slump on my first try, because second time around I actually enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would. With Scarlet I didn’t have a problem liking it. True, I read it and not listened to it, but I feel that I love this story a lot more than its predecessor. There are legitimate reasons as to why I enjoyed this book a lot more. One, the book was a lot more fast-paced. Two, the relationship between Scalet and Wolf was very interesting. Finally, I really enjoyed the way Marissa Meyer integrated the Little Red Riding Hood story in Scarlet. Usually I don’t try to compare two books in the same series, but sometimes you just can’t help it. Hopefully, I won’t be so biased and make it seem like I’m trashing Cinder.

To get it out of the way, there are a few reasons why I found Scarlet a lot more fascinating than Cinder besides for the reasons stated above. For me, Cinder is just like every other first novel. It’s the one that establish the setting and the overall mood of the entire series. There really isn’t much that I found interesting in the book and from what I remember, the characters are enjoyable enough that I finished it. I can’t deny the importance of this book, since it did get me to understand more of the situation of the present world. Both books are equally beautifully written and both need to co-exist for you to fully appreciate the story.

Now on to Scarlet.

I highly enjoyed its fast-paced story and didn’t find any dull moments. Both the POV of Scarlet and Cinder was equally filled with action from beginning to end. There were so many information for me to process, but at the same time it wasn’t overwhelming. I really enjoyed reading the mystery of grand-mere Benoit. To be honest, I don’t remember her or Dr. Tanner being introduced in Cinder, so when the whole “looking for grandmother” phase came into the picture, I didn’t really connect the two until later on in the book. Fortunately for me, since it did give a sense of mysterious quality to it. I love the turn of events with the LSOP, but it wasn’t a major surprise, you eventually realize that it was heading that way. The author did a good job on explaining the pack thoroughly.

I’m not really the type of reader to root for a certain couple, fearing that it may end badly. Usually I’m very hesitant to get attached to a couple from the beginning, but with Scarlet, I fell in love with the coupling instantaneously. I think it’s the fiery temper of Scarlet and the timidity of Wolf that drew me in. I admit, there was a point in the book that made me hold my breath, hoping that all goes well. Then there is another point, later on in the book, that made me laugh on its cheesiness. Really, Ms. Meyer “Alpha-female”?!?!?! Even with that gagging moment, for me, I still found their relationship endearing.

I enjoy any version of The Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale, original or re-make. So I think that’s another reason why I favored Scarlet compared to Cinder. I love how Meyer integrated important parts of the original story in her version. There was a scene with Scarlet and Ran that made me literally aware of where Meyer’s Scarlet originated:

“Scarlet staggered out of her seat and backed against the rail, staring at her grandmother. The familiar unkempt hair in its always crooked braid. The familiar eyes growing colder as they peered up at her. Growing wider.

She blinked rapidly against the hallucination and her grandmother’s hand grew larger.”

This, in my opinion, is what sold me. For some weird reason, I loved this book more because of this one scene. I can’t help but associate this line with “grandmother, what big hands you have!” It’s all very nostalgic.

In terms of books, Scarlet is hands down my favorite book between the two. Scarlet as a heroine was also pretty fantastic. She’s kick-ass, fiery and I feel, a total bad ass. I admit I wasn’t impressed with Cinder in her own book, but eventually she started growing on me more in this. I was really hesitant to keep reading this series, since the beginning did leave me with a bad taste. I’m so glad that I continued on and listened to all the peer-pressure. Now, I can’t wait to read Cress so I can be ready on November for the release of Winter. This second installment of the Lunar Chronicles was my saving grace, for this series!

***********************SPOILER ALERT!!*********************

If you do not want the ending to be revealed, please do not read any further.

Ending: There are only a couple of spoilers that I want to reveal since this is the second book of the series and I want everyone to at least be surprised in the end.

The one major spoiler is Prince Kai agrees to marry Queen Levana.

Here is why…

Wolf tells Scarlet that he is part of the group that kidnapped her grandmother. BUT he informed her that he is trying to move away from the group of vigilantes. In all actuality they are special forces of the Lunar Queen. When Prince Kai was unable to hand over Cinder, who escaped from prison, Queen Levana unleashed her “minions” to attack earth. These special forces act similar to real wolves with their hierarchy of Alphas and Omegas. The Thaumaturge who works for the Queen, work with these group at a young age to be able to control the alpha and most of the omegas.

The queen is unable to control them and even the Thaumaturge can only control a handful with intensive training. Cinder was able to control one of the “special operatives”.

Saga Volume 1

Saga_1_cvr (1)
Story: Brian Vaughan
Artist: Fiona Staples
Genre: Fantasy, Graphic Novel, A
Rating: 3.5/5

***********Spoilers Revealed**********
I’m not much of a graphic novel enthusiast. So I’m hardly an expert on what’s good and what’s not. I do however, know what I like and don’t like. This really isn’t a “review” on this graphic novel and I won’t go into details on the pros and cons of it. Since I only read the first book of the series, I think its hardly unfair for me to judge the storyline and the writing style of the author. So, this is really just my thoughts on the first instalment of the SAGA series.

Now I won’t go into details on the character development of the book or even the different characters in the book. I will, however, comment on the protagonists of this volume because I love Marko and Alana. Now, I’m not certain if they will be present all throughout the series, but I know for certain, if ever I want parents who are rebels, these would be the parents I choose. I love how they risk everything to be together and to bring a child into this chaotic world. Plus, hello, they would do anything for their baby daughter, which I think is pretty heroic enough! The narrator of this book, I’m not really sure, but I think she might be our future protagonist. I didn’t really get much from her, I did find out that she will be present in future volumes, and she is the daughter that Alana and Marko protects all throughout this book.

Another thing I wanted to talk about is the actual graphic of the book. Like I said, I’m not much of a graphic novel reader, and probably read only a handful of such genre, but I do love the graphic of this book. It’s very well drawn and the use of color is amazing! Its interesting how the artist can capture the facial expressions of the characters as if they are real, their eyes alone speaks volumes! Even the gruesome details of the story is very well done and I felt myself cringing on the sight of these drawings. Just as much as I love reading very well written books, I love looking through very well drawn graphic novels!

I said that I won’t judge the plot of Saga, but I must say that I’m really liking the story of the two protagonists. Besides the fact that they are running away from assassins and the “prince”(?), I’m not really sure where the main story arc is going. Not that I need to know more, Marko and Alana’s story is enough for me to keep reading.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

HarryPotter
Author: J.K Rowling
Narrated By: Jim Dale
Genre: Fantasy

As stated on the title of this review, its not the actual book I’m going to talk about, but rather the audio version. Since most, if not all, have read the book or at least has seen the movies, I won’t go into details regarding the synopsis of the novel. Yes, I know the book is not the same as the movie, but you get the main idea. This is my honest thoughts and opinions on the audio version of J.K Rowling’s best selling series, so please, if I said anything bad or things that you didn’t like, don’t hate me for it.

I have read this particular book more times than I can remember and every time I pick it up I can’t help but fall in love with Hogwarts and the wizarding world all over again. Many have told me that the audiobook is fantastic and Jim Dale, the narrator, does justice to the voices of the characters and he brings even more life to Rowling’s already vivid world. With such high praises, I can’t help but give in to peer pressure and even if I don’t end up liking it, I at least get the chance to re-read Harry Potter all over again. So its a win, win situation.

Now, if you have never listened to an audiobook in your whole entire reading life, I feel that this is a good place for you to start. I can see why many enjoy Jim Dale’s narration. He gives each character life in his many voices and you will be able to identify each of the characters in the book. If you have watched the movie as much as I have, then the voices might be a hit or miss for you. There are some that I enjoyed and some where I just thought it didn’t suit the character and there are others that made me chuckle each time I hear it. I know that the audiobook was released way before the movies, but I can’t help compare them. I think that Professor Dumbledore and Hagrid’s voices are dead on to Richard Harris and Robbie Coltrane’s. The first time I heard it, I almost thought that maybe they lent their voices to Jim Dale for the book (hahaha!). I did have problems with Hermoine’s voice. I love, love Emma Watson, so when I heard the voice that was used for her, it slightly broke my heart. The audio version sounded very whinny and high pitched, I get that she’s suppose to sound like a know-it-all, I just can’t accept that’s how she sounds like. I would rather keep Emma’s voice in my head. The two that really stood out for me, and made me hold my stomach in laughter, is Mr. & Mrs. Dursley. Just thinking about it makes me laugh. Mr. Dursley sounds like a cross between Marvin the Martian, from Looney Toons, and Mr. Bean. Yea, you heard me right, Mr. Bean! I really can’t describe Mrs. Dursley’s voice, but I think her voice is only hilarious because it sounds very much like Mr. Dursley’s, in a feminine way. That being said, I did enjoy the overall narration of the book. I love the magical sounding voice of Jim Dale and to be honest, it kinda sounds like Professor Dumbledore is reading the to me. I think he did a stupendous job in this audiobook.

Even with the misses on some of the voices, I didn’t really mind it that much. I liked it enough that I would actually listen to the second book, but it’s not the best I’ve heard. There are some books where their audio is so great that I can’t help but associate the voices to the character when I’m actually reading the physical book. For me, this is what makes an audio very good. The problem is, I feel that I’m biased, only because I love the movie actors that plays our beloved characters so much, that I associate those people and their voices to their counterparts. That being said, I still highly recommend the audio, because it’s a different way to “reading” the Harry Potter books. I feel that when I’m listening to the audio, I find bits and pieces that I missed when actually reading the physical book. So, if you’re a Harry Potter fan, and are planning on re-reading the series all over again, maybe you can keep the audiobook in mind. Try it out. Like I said, like it or not, its a win, win situation.