Thursday, March 31, 2016

Splintered Fate: Aorra Series by Yelena Lugin

I have been given the pleasure to read and review a book by someone I am very proud to call my friend. I met Yelena Lugin through the wonderful world of Goodreads while reading The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. We have bonded over our love for books and dreams for our futures. When she told me that she wanted to send me a copy of Splintered Fate for my 21st* birthday, I was honored. I knew I would like it due to our similar tastes in books, but little did I know that I would soon be reading a book that would evoke such strong emotions in me. You will find some minor spoilers from here on out.



*Ignore the fact that it says 25th birthday, please.
Plot

Splintered Fate is about a world that is torn in half between the Madonians and the Ramis. The Madonians are a race of people who can use the powers inside of them to make something out of nothing, and some have an Aorra, a spirit animal who shares a mental connection with their human counterpart. The Rami are a race that have an electric current running through them that they can use as a weapon. The biggest difference between the two is the Madonians can control their powers to make things, while the Rami have less control over theirs.

The story focuses around 2 characters, Lana Casteel, a Madonian, and Kaiden, a Rami. The two met when they were young at Ucu, but have not seen each other since their time there. When war breaks out between the two races, Lana and Kaiden are brought back together in hopes of saving their world. But can Lana trust Kaiden?

Lana and Kaiden, along with Donn and his grandchildren, and Lana's Aorra, Ardin, go on a journey after the saddening death of Lana's father during battle. Their goal is to get to Alogrin, which most people believe to be just a myth, but Donn says is a real place and has been there before.

Important Places

Ucu: A school on one of the moons where Madonian and Rami children can go to learn how to control their powers.

Abder: The land that Lana is from.

Alogrin: A land where Madonians and Ramis live in peace; thought to be a mythical land to most people.

Gorthyn: The land where Lana's mother was murdered.

Characters

Lana Casteel: The main protagonist of the story, she is a Councilwoman for Abder. Lana's mother, Eveline, was brutally murdered by Rami soldiers when Lana was young. Although Lana does not like the Rami's, she does not have the same outright hatred for them that other Madonians do. She is a very strong, independent young woman who just wants peace for her people.

Adrin: A white wolf, he is Lana's Aorra and best friend. He is quippy, but his love for Lana is 100% pure, he lives solely to protect her and he proves himself multiple times throughout the book.

Kirill Dukran: He is a Madonian, although he does not have an Aorra. In childhood, he was besties with Lana, but then she went to Ucu and became peaceful and he decided that killing Rami was the greatest way to spend his days and she grew to resent him. He starts out as a huge jerk, but when he makes a reappearance in the second half of the book, we learn about his evil past and I developed a small crush on him.

Arkhip Durkan: Kirill's father and told douche. I'll save you time, we hate him. 

Valdor Casteel: Lana's father who sadly dies early in the book which spurs Lana to find help.

Donn: A mysterious old man who has a lot of wisdom that he likes to share, as long as you can read between the lines. He is also the grandfather to Nadina and Alex.

Nadina: A young girl who Lana meets and eventually joins Lana on her trip. She has a fox Aorra named Nila.

Alex: Nadina's younger brother who also joins Lana on her journey. He does not have an Aorra, but he can make wood with his energy, which end up being an asset.

Kaiden: An orphaned Rami, he saves Lana's life when his brother is torturing her. By doing this, he makes himself an enemy of Rami's. He, unlike other Rami, can control the energy running through him, which makes him an important ally to Lana.

Garin: Kaiden's brother and a Lieutenant General for the Rami army. He attempts to take Lana's life, and in doing so, becomes Undesirable #1.

Bredin: An Alogrinian isn't exactly pro-Lana, although he ends up being a vital character in Lana's attack against Garin and his soldiers.

Clyte: A Rami who moved to Alogrin an unknown amount of type again. In Rami, she was a powerful warrior, but in Alogrin, she is a Councilperson who befriends Lana.

Cale: An Alogrinian who does not want to help Lana because he does not want to put his people in danger. He always has a chip on his shoulder.

Zorin: An amazing swordsman, teacher, and descendant of the great kings of Alogrin, he follows Lana into battle. His wife is Aria.

Tor/Victor: A silent man who does not have much interaction with Lana, but agrees to fight with her. We learn that he was one of the protectors of Lana's mother, Eveline, and almost died the day she did.

What I Liked

-Lana's indepence is so important. The world needs more books with strong female role models.
-The love story between Lana and Kaiden did not feel forced or predictable, it was extremely organic.
-All of the characters have a unique personality.
-It is unlike any story I have read before. The plot is 100% original.

What I Didn't Like

-Sometimes I feel like Lana takes advantage of Ardin. It is clear that he does everything with her first in mind and she can be selfish.
-I wish more sections were told from the POV of Kaiden.
-The next book doesn't come out for 2 more months!


The world the Lugin has created is incredibly interesting and it pulls you in from the very beginning. She does a brilliant job of introducing you to this new world and makes sure that you understand all of the new terms. There is never a dull moment. I spent the entire book falling in love with all of the characters, but wondering which characters would break my heart by either betrayal or death. The last chapter broke my heart and had me in tears, and the epilogue left me with my mouth hanging open. 



I am so glad that this book made it's way into my life because it is everything that a good book needs to be. The world needs more books like this. 

Rating: 10/10
Pages: 258 (paperback)
Number of Book in Series: 1 as of date; an expected 3-4 total
Genre(s): Fantasy, Young Adult
Should You Read Is?: Yes, go buy it right now! I'm 100% serious!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

I remember reading The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare for the first time clearly. It was the first book since Harry Potter that I completely and totally fell in love with. The Shadow world that Clare created was a world that I could live in forever. I told everyone about it and how wonderful it was. I loved the first 3 in the series more than anything. The last three I didn't love as much, but I was still glad that the world was continuing being built and I did not have to say goodbye to these characters just yet. I have read pretty much everything that Clare has written (I still need to read The Shadowhunters Codex, but I'll get there), and although I've never loved anything as much as the first 3 books she gave us, I have always loved going back into this familiar world.

When I learned that she was releasing another book, I was ecstatic! I pre-ordered it right away and started re-reading everything she had given us. I read the synopsis over and over again trying to figure out where this exciting new series was going to take us. I was definitely okay with the story following Emma and Julian instead of Clary and Jace; I was done with their story and ready for new blood. What made me overly excited for the book was that Mark Blackthorn was coming back, which meant that we would learn more about the world of the fae, which isn't really covered in the other series but as always intrigued me.

I didn't read the book right away when it first came out. I knew so many people reading it, I wanted to wait until there was less hype about it. But the more I saw people reading it, the more they said how amazing it was, I decided that it would be my next read.


Plot

Lady Midnight takes place 5 years after City of Heavenly Fire, so 2012, in LA. Some killings have been going on, but they involve mundanes and faeries so the Clave won't investigate them. However, they have caught the attention of Emma Carstairs because they are very similar to her parents murders. Although the Clave decided that Sebastian Morgenstern was their murderer, Emma has never believed it. She is not the only one fighting demons of her past. Mark Blackthron has been returned to the family after he has spent 5 years in Wild Hunt. Mark may not have aged at all during these last few years, everyone else has and they aren't the kids who he left behind.

From here on out, there a spoilers that range anywhere from minor to major!
Read with caution!

I'm serious!
You've been warned!


Characters

Emma Carstairs: Emma is now 17 years old and she is completely in love with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, which is totally illegal in the Shadowhunter world. She is also very much obsessed with her parents murders because she doesn't think Sebastian killed them. She is a bad ass fighter and very determined.

Julian "Jules" Blackthorn: Emma's parabatai and make shift parent for the Blackthorn children. Being the oldest of the children who hasn't been abandoned by the Clave, he feels a major responsibility for them and takes on way more than he should. By the end of the novel, you learn everything he does to keep the family together, and your heart breaks a little.

Drusilla "Dru" Blackthorn: The second youngest of the Blackthorn children. She loves horror movies because there aren't demons in them. She is curvier than the average Shadowhunter, and she knows this, which makes her a little uncomfortable. She makes a comment on how her aunt called her a "Butterball" and I hate the aunt for telling an impressionable young girl this comment.

Livia "Livvy" Blackthorn: She is the 4th of the 7 children and is Ty's twin. She is one of the more practical Blackthorn children and takes great care to protect her family after that Dark War. 

Tiberius "Ty" Blackthorn: Twin of Livvy and 5th of the 7 children. He is autistic and because of this, he is deemed "weird" by other Shadowhunters. He is extremely brilliant though and is the detective of the family. He isn't much of a fighter but can throw knives like no ones business.

Octavian "Tavvy" Blackthorn: The youngest of the Blackthorn children, he has a very vivid imagination and taught himself to read when he was young. 

Mark Blackthorn: In CoHF, Mark was taken prisoner by the fae and has since been riding in the Wild Hunt. He suffers some serious PTSD and at first he doesn't recognize the children. He is a half-sibling to the other Blackthorn children and is part-Shadowhunter, part-faerie. 

Arthur Blackthorn: The uncle of the Blackthorn children, he isn't all there. He and his brother, Andrew, were taken prisoner by a lady of the Seelie Court after consuming faerie food. Although they were eventually let go, neither of them has ever been the same.

Cristina Rosales: A transplant from Mexico, she quickly becomes best friends with Emma. But she is holding some secrets that prevent her from fully opening up to Emma.

Diana Wrayburn: The tutor brought into the Institute to teach the children after the death of their parents. I never fully trust her even after she explains herself.

Diego "Perfect Diego" Rosales: The love interest of Cristina, even though she tries extremely hard to not love him for reasons that take her forever to tell us. He is a Centurion, which I wish was explained more, because I don't totally get why a Centurion is so special.

Kieran: A member of the Wild Hunt who is a love interest of Mark during their time in the Hunt together. He is a prince of the Unseelie Court, which gives him some freedom in the Hunt.

Malcolm Fade: The High Warlock of Los Angeles, and the eventual bad guy. He was the one who killed Emma's parents, and is a necromancer. A long time ago, he fell in love with a Shadowhunter, which was at the time a big no-no. The Shadowhunters killed her, although told everyone she became an Iron Sister. After finding out that she was killed, he started plotting his revenge on the Blackthorn family.

Gwyn: The leader of the Wild Hunt and a total ass.

Iarlath: A member of the Unseelie Court, he asks the members of the LA Institute for help in finding out who's kill fae and in return, return Mark. He's a bad guy too.

Old Favorites

Some characters from TMI and TID make some cameos, at times I liked it, other times, I didn't really care for them to be there. We get to get reacquainted with: Clary, Jace, Magnus, Robert Lightwood, Jem, and Tessa. We also learn through conversation that Simon and Izzy are engaged. Mazel Tov!

What I Didn't Like

-The book took forever to get going. Like, think Squints for Sandlot slowly repeating "for-eh-er, for-eh-er" kind of slow.


-Emma and Julian's love story is so predictable and used up. I am so over forbidden love.
-I want to know more about Mark's time with the fae. I want to know more about the fae period. 
-I didn't bond with the characters until the last few chapters. Not because they weren't good guys, but because they are pretty much re-writes of characters from TMI. i.e. Emma=Jace; Jules=Clary. Give me something new.
-The story focuses more on the forbidden love and less about what the real issue is: that someone is killing people!

What I Did Like

-I did not see who that bad guy was coming. Malcolm wasn't even on my radar! I thought we were going to meet someone new for it and when they put all the pieces together to figure out is was Malcolm, my mind was blown! Way to go, Cassie!


-There is more of a family aspect to this one than there were in previous Clare novels.
-The last 5-7 chapters made up for the entire novel.

So now I'm going to say two things that are going to upset you. #sorrynotsorry

When Lord of Shadows comes out, I'm not going to rush to read it.
Also, I ship Emma and Mark. Yep, I said!


All in all, I wasn't as impressed with it as everyone else was. For me, it didn't live up to the hype that everyone was giving it.

Rating: 6/10
Pages: 668 (Hardcover)
Books in Series: 3 planned, but this is currently the only one; sequel to The Mortal Instruments series
Genre(s): Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance
Should You Read It: If you are a fan of Cassie Clare, yes. Otherwise, I think you can pass.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

New Books, Lots of Tea, and New Adventures

My brother and sister-in-law totally get my love for books and they definitely enable me. For my birthday from them I got an Alice in Wonderland Cheshire cat mug and an Amazon gift card. These were my purchases from this gift card!



Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was first written by Lewis Carroll and published in 1865. The story has always been a favorite of mine (and is tied for first as a favorite non-princess Disney movie). This copy was published by Puffin as part of their Puffin in Bloom collection and is fully illustrated by Anna Bond. Puffin has published a lot of the Classics like this and I fully intend on owning all of my favorites one day.

Beloved is a novel by Toni Morrison that I have been informed by many people and articles is a book that everyone needs to read at least once in their life. I've always gone back and forth between buying it, but decided that it is time that I finally read it.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe was written by Benjamin Alire Saenz in 2012 and I have been told is a modern coming-of-age story. The cover is what drew me in, and there is supposed to be a sequel expected  in 2017/2018.

Breakfast at Tiffany's also includes 3 other stories by Truman Capote: "House of Flowers," "A Diamond Guitar," and "A Christmas Memory." I haven't read any of them before, however "Breakfast at Tiffany's" is one of my favorite Audrey Hepburn movies. It's been said that Capote wrote it about Marilyn Monroe.

The Shining is a well know Stephen King novel that has been adapted into a movie starring Jack Nicholson. I've seen the movie once, and although it didn't scare me, it did creep me out. I've decided it's time to see if the book has the same effect.

Pre-Tea

Post-Tea


I am so excited to start into these new books and drink my tea from my awesome new mug. I can see lots of adventures in the near future.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Best Gift EVER!!!

So last weekend I turned 21 for the 4th time. I'm not usually a person who likes to celebrate their birthday or age, even though I love celebrating others birthdays. But this one was a little more special. I mean, how many times can you turn 21!

My usual request for any present is books, or gift cards to buy books, or money to buy books. I'm pretty simple in those terms. But this year, there was something specific I wanted: a book embosser.

I got the idea from this article by Buzzfeed before Christmas and I saved it in case I ever wanted to buy myself something book related. There were lots of great ideas in there, some I had seen before, others I hadn't. Then all the way at the almost very bottom (#22), there it was!

A book embosser from Horchow! And you can customize it with your name!



So when my brother asked me this year what I wanted for my birthday, I told him that this is what I wanted. I really wanted it! So when I unwrapped it from the pink floral bag, I was ecstatic to see it there!


The first book I embossed was Splintered Fate which was written by my good friend Yelena Lugin, which is one of my current reads. The second was my most recent purchase Lady Midnight. I have since embossed 80+ books, but I have upwards of 200 more to go! I'll be busy for a while!

In comments, tell me what your favorite book-ish gift was that you've received!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Books vs TV vs Movies

Everyone who has read a book that has been turned into a movie has uttered these words:


The books have more detail, the characters have more development, you get to use your imagination to picture what the people and places look like; books have a lot going for them.

Books have been made into movies since about the early 1910s. A Christmas Carol was first written by Charles Dickens in 1843, but was made into a movie for the first time in 1910. It's running time was 11 minutes and had a cast of 6 people.

1910 adaption of Charles Dickens "A Christmas Carol."

One of the earliest book adaptions that to this day still has a good reception is Nosferatu which was released in 1922 and is an hour and 21 minutes. It is based off of Bram Stoker's Dracula, however they could not get the rights to the book, so key things were changed: vampire was changed to Nosferatu and Count Dracula to Count Orlok. The heirs of Stoker sued over the adaption and the courts ruled in their favor saying that all copies of the movie be destroyed. However, some copies survived and it is regarded as a influential masterpiece of cinema.

Poster of 1922 movie "Nosferatu."
 In more recent years, more and more books are being made into movies. Some have been extremely successful, others not so much. The first movie that I had ever seen that I knew was a book adaption was Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and I was amazed! Although it left out things that I (and many other Potterheads) have deemed important, the cast brought my all-time favorite characters to life and have made this world even more lifelike. They are movies that I watch every Christmas (because they are Christmas movies) and a few other times throughout the year.

But, there are movies that really do not hold up to the books. When I learned they were making The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones into a movie, I was ecstatic! I pulled my book off the shelf to reread it again, and pre-ordered tickets for my niece and I. When the movie came out in 2013, we were less than thrilled.

But, on the flip side, there are some movies that are better than the books. I know, I know, I am going to get a lot of heat for saying that, but you can't deny that there is at least one movie that is better than the book. For me, one that I enjoy more in movie form is The Notebook. The book and movie came out in 2004. I saw the movie first. I remember sitting in the last row of a very packed theater with my parents and two of my best friends and when old Noah and Allie (played by James Garner and Gena Rowlands, respectively) died while holding hands, any scrap of make up I had worn that day had be washed off my eyes and left streaks down my face and neck, and I wasn't the only one. I knew then that I had to read the book by Nicholas Sparks. Although it did spark emotion in me, it did not evoke the same emotion out of me. I have read it a couple more times since, hoping I could get the same experience, but the movie has always won out.

"If you're a bird, I'm a bird."

Recently, it's become a thing to make books into TV shows. For some reasons, this can be a good thing. A movie is usually between 90 minutes to 2 and a half hours, 3 hours sometimes, but it can be a stretch. But with a TV show, you can stretch it out into 10-20 episodes where each episode is about an hour long (45 minutes when you take out commercials). And when you have books that have 5+ books in it and a lot of information is covered in the books, it can be nice to have more time to space it out.

Game of Thrones has been pretty well received. I watched the first 4 seasons of it before I moved and forgot to record it in my new place and missed episodes (you can't even miss 2 minutes let alone 2 episodes). I haven't read the books (yet) but my brother has, and he doesn't have a bad word to say about it. I know enough people who feel similarly that I know I won't be disappointed when I do read the books.

One that I have read and watched is Pretty Little Liars. The books were written by Sara Shepard starting in 2006. I started reading them last year after we found out who A was on the TV series. I figured it was time to see if the books held up. Through the first 8 books, I wasn't disappointed. The TV series held close enough to books that I could know what was happening, but deviated enough that I was still interested. One thing that was hard for me was how the girls look completely different in the books than in the TV show. It was difficult listening to a girl who was described to have blonde hair and not think Hanna, even though the book was referring to Spencer.

Book: Hanna, Spencer, Emily, Aria

TV Show: Spencer, Aria, Emily, Hanna
It's a small thing. But I had been watching the show for 5 years (at that time) and what the characters looked like had been firmly set in my mind. After book 4, the show went their own way, only using tiny details to tie in with Shepard's books. In some way, I think the show is better. In other way, I like the books  more. For me, I'll take either one.

So who wins in the battle between books, TV shows, and movies? I think I'll always love books a little bit more in most situations. But with a good director, cast, and crew, I think TV shows and movies can hold their own. But I do wish more movies would stop copying books and come up with some new ideas.


Friday, March 25, 2016

11/22/63 by Stephen King

This was my first Stephen King novel and I wasn't disappointed. I believe when I first bought the book, it was 2013. My brother had suggested it to me after he had finally finished it after a few attempts. Once I started reading it, I understood why it took him a few times to get through it because it took me a few times as well. It was never that the book wasn't good, but that it's a long book and it's a very deep book and you have to be able to devote some time to it. Well, I have finally devoted the time to it and my mind is blown.

This is one of those books that makes complete sense but confuses you all the same. It makes you wonder "what if" a lot; you think if this is at all possible; are there different time "strings" happening, where all the different what ifs play out? Not only do you need to have time to devote to this book, you need to have a clear mind, as in, I don't recommend reading this book while you are under the influence of anything.



11/22/63 is a novel about Jake Epping, although for most of the book, he goes by George Amberson. Jake is an English teacher and a divorcee. He lives a simple life of teaching and occasionally eating at a diner that has a bad rep and is run by a man named Al Templeton. A few years before the story takes place, Jake teaches a GED class where one of the janitors takes classes. The janitors name is Harry Dunning, and during a prose entitled "The Day That Changed Your Life," Harry tells the story of how on October 31, 1958, Harry's father killed his mother, 2 brothers, and put his sister into a coma that eventually took her life. This event set Harry back and ending up dropping out of school after he had fallen too far behind. Although the story isn't true, it's a story that will stay with me for a long time.

Two years later, Harry has his GED and is retiring. Jake is in his classroom grading the last few papers of the year when Al calls him and asks him to stop by the diner. This event is the event that will change Jake's life for forever, although he doesn't know it yet. Although Jake saw Al just the night before and he was fine, Al looks like he has aged tremendously, he's lost wait, and he's on his death bed. Although Jake wants to focus on the health of his short order cook, Al needs to tell him about the wormhole and his plan to save JFK!

John F Kennedy

When Jake is first told the information, he doesn't fully believe it, but admits the way that Al talks about it, he almost believes it. And then Al leads him to the back of the pantry and tells him to keep walking to the back. Jake does this as a "dying mans last wish," but is thinking he is crazy until he takes a step down and he is confused. He goes down a few more steps and he comes out into Lisbon Falls, Maine on September 9, 1958 at 11:58 AM and is on the other side of the rabbit hole.

Lisbon Falls, Maine circa 1960
I have no clue what it would be like to go back in time 53 years, but I think Jake handled it better than I would have. He looks around a little bit and then comes back to 2011 as a complete believer in time travel. But there are important things to know about going down the rabbit hole:
   
     -Every time you go back, it is again September 9, 1958 at 11:58 AM.
     -It doesn't matter if you stay a few hours, days, weeks, or years, when you come back to the present, only 2 minutes will have passed.
     -You can change the past, but every time you go back, you undo everything you did on your last visit.
     -The past does not want to change and it will do everything in its power to stop you from changing it.

So through a series of events, Jake/George makes 4 trips to 1958. The first one is his stroll around the town to see that he is actually back in the past. The second he uses as a test where he goes to kill Harry's father before the father can kill his family in hopes of all members of the Dunning family having long lives. The third is when he stays the longest, 5 years, to stop the Kennedy assassination, and once more after seeing how the world turned out and with hopes of fixing another wrong doing.

The book starts out at a pretty good pace. It's not so fast that you can't keep up, but it's not so slow that you get bored. King does a wonderful job of adding the right amount of detail so that you get a good idea of your surroundings, but it's not so wordy that it's bogged down in details. I think the first time I started to feel the story was stale was after George killed Frank Dunning and before he turns up in Jodie, Texas. I didn't care too much for his quiet life of placing strategic bets and getting a degree through the mail. Seeing as this was about a third into the book, it worried me for the rest of the story.

But then George shows up in Jodie and King starts to make a love story out of a historical sci-fi novel. The relationship between George and Sadie Dunhill was so real, I felt like I was listening to someone's actual love story. But even before Sadie came into the picture, I loved hearing about George's time in Jodie.

(FYI: Derry, ME. and Jodie, TX are fictional places and it confused and broke my hearts!)

I pictured Jodie similar to Stars Hollow from Stars Hollow: small; everyone knows your name; and no one cares about your business, they're just looking for the next piece of gossip so they can judge you. I guess in some ways that can be charming and appealing, until something happens to you and you can't go to the grocery store without eyes peering at you over the produce stands.

Fictional town of Stars Hollow, CT. from Gilmore Girls.
The thing about being a man from the future is you have to  keep a lot of secrets from people. Although Sadie might have been naive in the past, she has wised up since leaving her psycho ex and she knows that George is hiding things from her. Although he at first keeps everything from her, they end up separating because of it and he hates himself every day they're apart. He thinks about telling her, he thinks about giving up his mission and living the rest of his life in the past with her, but really he just does a lot of moping and whining like people do when they've screwed up a good thing.

Through a turn of events, they end up back together, and he ends up telling her everything, a little at first, but slowly she learns everything. And while most people would think George was crazy, he knows the truth about too many things that will happen for her to think that. In the end, Sadie helps George, who she now calls by his true name Jake in privacy, kill Oswald and without her, he never would have been able to achieve it. However, the consequences are huge for Jake/George and the world.

This is where everything gets really what if-y. Obviously, we have no idea what would happen if JFK had lived. Al believed it only would have led to good things, like less hate crimes and discrimination. Honestly, that's what I want to believe too. And maybe, if things had happened that way originally, it would have. But since Jake went back to change it, things became so much worse. The apocalyptic world that Jake came back to is not a world that I would ever want to dream of living in. It's filled with radiation and constant natural disasters, evil kids, and more hate than was present in the original 2011 that Jake knew. 

The characters in the book are all extremely dynamic and all provide interesting dialogue. They all seem so real, I have to wonder if King based them off of people he actually knew. And as for the characters who were real people, it felt like I was listening to real conversations they could have had. The character you need to pay close attention to is the Green Card Man, he's quite important at the end. 

I will say that I do not like how Dallas and Fort Worth were painted. I can't talk about the Texas from the 60s, as I wasn't even a twinkle in my parents eyes then, but the Texas now is a wonderful place, and I am glad to be a Texan. I have spent 23 of my 25 years in the DFW metroplex, and although there are definitely areas that are sketchy, the people are 95% nice, a lot nicer than other cities I have spent time in over the years. But King did get one thing right: "There's no barbecue as good as Fort Worth barbecue." 

Fort Worth, TX


All in all, I was impressed with the book and I'm glad that I can finally say that I have read it. Because of the length of it, I don't think I'll read it again any time soon, but it has definitely earned it's place on my book shelf.

Rating: 7/10
Pages: 849 (paperback)
Genre(s): Historical Fiction, Science Fiction
How Likely Am I to Suggest it to Someone: If you like sci-fi or history, this should definitely be on your reading list!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Books & Oils

Anyone who knows me knows that I love my essential oils. I use oils multiple times a day for multiple different reasons. I've been oily a little over a year since I started using Young Living essential oils.

So it goes to figure that my love of oils has blended with my love of reading, and there are definite oils that helps with different problems every bibliophile has come across.

-Release: Every now and then, there is a book that makes you cry uncontrollably, or seriously mad or upset; books where there is a build up of emotions and you just can't move past it. Enter Release. It helps you let go of the negative emotions that the book has brought about and promote harmony, so you can move on to the next book in a happy, positive vibe.

-Fun Inspired by Oola: So anyone who hasn't heard of Oola should click that link and go learn about the Oola Seeker and the Oola Guru and learn how to make your life Oola. They have worked together with YL to create oils to help build the 7 F's in your life. One of the F's is Fun. Reading is Fun. See where I'm going with this. Add a little Fun to your wrists or diffuser and jump into your book and make reading extra fun!

-Sensation: This is the oil to use when you're reading Fifty Shades of Grey type books. It's a very floral, romantic blend that "enhances special moment" if ya catch my drift.  Read and enjoy. *Bonus: YL also makes it into a massage oil, bath gel, and lotion!!

-En-R-Gee: This is the oil to use when you're up late reading and need a little pick-me-up so you can push through and finish your page turner tonight. The scent is revitalizing and stimulating and does just as the name suggests-gives you a boost of energy!

-Stress Away: Some books are pretty damn stressful. The 5th Wave had me second guessing everyone, including myself; I was constantly on the edge of my seat and couldn't read fast enough. Stress Away helps bring you back down to calm so you can continue reading without pulling your hair out.

-Joy: Just like, Fun, this is a great oil to put on before every reading session. It's floral and comforting and inspires, well, joy! Put some over your heart and dive into your book.

So there you go folks! Six oils to use to get you through all your reading woes!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Fav Instagramer's

I love Instagram! When it was finally available for iPhones, I jumped on downloading it and have posted something on it every few days since. But I also love being able to follow other people. I know, you can do that on Twitter, but I prefer pictures to words, and Twitter has never been something I check frequently.

My most favorite people to follow are those who post pictures of their books, bookshelves, fandoms, etc. Looking at books is extremely calming. They're so pretty and perfect.

So here are some of my favorite bookstagram accounts. Feel free to share your favorites with me!

-hotdudesreading
It's exactly what it sounds like. Hot guys reading books out and about in the world, the very definition of book porn. Bonus, they're coming out with a book!
-abookishloveaffair
A Canadian Slytherin is how she describes herself, and when people tell you what house they're in, you know they're amazing. She also has an awesome Funko action figure collection!
-bookmarauder
Her posts are bright and colorful and artfully placed. Her bookshelves give me extreme envy!
-blueeyedbiblio
The bookstagram account I've followed the longest, she posts lots of books and lots of coffee (or maybe it's tea).

I wish my book game was as strong as these, and the others that I follow.

Yellow Brick War by Danielle Paige

So I did this to myself. I have created the void in my life. I have developed an addiction to audiobooks and I put myself in this position where I don't realize the end of the book is like 2 minutes away and it's over before I have a chance to catch up. I did not know that I was almost done with Yellow Brick War and now I'm sitting here with my mouth open because the cliffhanger it ended on was possibly the greatest cliffhanger in all of history, including movies and TV shows.

**Prepare for intense spoilers!**



So we pick up right where we left off. Amy, the Wicked, Nox, and Dorothy have landed in Kansas in Dusty Acres. Glamora is holding out a purple cloak to Amy, and there are two cloaked figures behind her. One is Mombi and the other is (drum roll) Gert! But how you ask? Well, we get there, but not quite yet. First, Glamora is saying that "it's time for you to join us" and "you've been training all your life for this." But Amy hasn't been training all her life. She's only been training a few months. Which is when we learn that Glamora is talking to Nox. Talk about being stabbed in the back! Then they preform this ritual that makes Nox part of the Quadrant, and that's going to cause all kinds of issues between our two star crossed lovers.

While all of this is going on, Dorothy is coming to after exploding the Wizard, and the Wicked are telling Amy to kill her while she's still weak. One problem-Amy doesn't have her magic anymore! So Dorothy escapes the hell hole known as Kansas and peaces out back to Oz.

Now Amy and Co are stuck in Kansas. I thoroughly enjoyed this portion of the book. Mostly because it's amazing, but I loved hearing how the Wicked reacted to things that we take for granted; Googling is magic and bacon is a delicacy (I mean, both of those are sorta true). But I loved that Amy was again interacting with her mom and Madison.

Amy's Mom-In Dorothy Must Die, she was an alcoholic who was always looking for her next fix. She left Amy to go to a tornado party and that was the last we physically saw of her. Through means of magic, we saw that she had cleaned up after she thought her daughter was lost to her, but part of Amy doubted how real that was. Present day Amy's Mom is clean and sober, working, and has herself a handsome farmer boyfriend who does not make sexist remarks, hit her mom, or ogle Amy's boobs (all amazing qualities to look for in a boyfriend). Mom makes a lot of attempts to make up for the past. She knows she screwed up, and she doesn't want to me that person anymore. I kinda adore her, and I really hope that she can keep her sobriety together after Amy disappears back to Oz.

Madison Pendleton: Okay, so you either have a Madison in your life, or you are the Madison. Pre-Oz Madison was an 8 month pregnant super bitch who is covered in pink and glitter, friends with everyone whose name isn't Amy Gumm, and dating the star football player. Post-Oz Madison has a baby strapped to her chest and is avoided and mocked by everyone in the school except her now ex-boyfriend who is no longer a star football player, but she is still a super bitch. At least now she's a super bitch on Amy's side. The relationship between these two enemies turned friends is enviable.

Dustin: I think Dustin's character development is the one I loved the most. Last time we saw him, he was a dumb jock who knocked up Madison. Now, he's a dad, and a good one! (Madison is a pretty awesome mom herself.) He's still not super smart, but there is definitely something under the surface. And he definitely still cares for Madison, but not in a creepy way. He knows that Madison wasn't perfect for him, but he still respects her and wants to have a good relationship with her for Dustin Jr. Him and Madison are a lot more mature than anyone I went to high school with.

The Nome King: So, NK in Baum's book is kind of a whiny jerk who likes his bobbles. NK in Paige's world is scary! I picture him kind of like Voldemort with a crown. Every scene he is in, he gives me the creeps. He's been living in the assistant principal's skin, which I kind of saw coming because the AP was weird, but how Paige describes him sloughing off his skin to reveal who he really is upped the icky factor!

While in Kansas, Amy feels conflicted about bonding with her mom. In all honesty, this kind of pisses me off. Your mom is clean and sober, and you know you're going to be leaving back to Oz soon, so the least you can do is spend some time with her and stop being melodramatic. She also builds a friendship with Madison and Dustin and enlists them to help Dorothy's silver shoes.

While all of this is going on, Mombi and the others are hiding in the Dark Lands while Nox explores Kansas-we never find out what he's actually supposed to be doing, but he's actually watching Amy which is a no no for a member of the Quadrant. And it's a good thing too, because when NK attacks Amy and Dustin in the school hall, Nox is able to come to the rescue. Dustin takes a hard blow from NK (but he survives because we see him later through different visions and he's just fine) and Amy gets the silver shoes to transport her and the Wicked back to Oz just in time.

Cue passionate kiss between Nox and Amy.
Then cue Mombi to come break them up and tell Nox that he needs to keep it in his pants.

Apparently the first rule about being in the Quadrant is you don't tell anyone about the Quadrant.
The second rule is that you aren't allowed to have a relationship.

In Oz, they take up camp in the Tin Man's old castle and hope that they will have enough time to recuperate, but we all know that's not going to happen. Shortly after their arrival, Glinda shows up. I'm going to guess that since NK and Glinda are working together, he gave her the heads up that they would be somewhere in Oz and she was able to find them pretty quickly. Glamora decides it's time to go head to head with her sister and Amy can't figure out "which witch is which" (which I feel like Paige had been waiting to use that line). Amy decides that this would be a good time to rescue Ozma and Pete (why Glinda brought them, I don't get, she was asking for them to be kidnapped).

While this battle is going on, Glinda's army of Ozma knock off's are attacking the palace. Then, mid-battle Dorothy shows up with the remains of the Tin Man's army and an enlarged Toto with three heads (think Fluffy from Harry Potter). Glinda and Dorothy are now on the outs and aren't happy to see the other at the battle, and the army's don't know how to react or who to fight. It doesn't pay to have a lot of enemies.

Everything looks like this will be the end of the Wicked when the monkeys come to the rescue. Bless LuLu! Some of the monkeys rescue Pete and Ozma, while the others join the Wicked in fighting the two armies. Despite the wishes from Nox (Amy's supposed true love), Amy turns into a monster again using her magic so she can take out Toto and Dorothy. Toto dies, but Dorothy gets away (go figure).

Meanwhile, during the Battle of the Twin, Glamora and Glinda are combining into each other and now you really can't tell who's who. Glamora ends up winning the battle, but she is extremely weakened and something about her isn't just right.

The remains of the survivors eat a basic meal of bread, cheese and water and take the night off. Amy and Nox decide that when they can, they're going to use the silver combat boots to return to Oz, Quadrant member be damned!

Then our group of misfit members heads over to the Emerald City by way of flying wingless monkeys because we still have to kill the main bitch, you know, since Amy has let her escape on numerous occasions now. I'm doubting the extent to what she wants Dorothy dead. The Emerald City is even more dark and depressing than the last time we were there, and Dorothy is trying to mess with the great clock in hopes of taking over both worlds. While the Wicked are fighting Dorothy's minions, Nox and Amy head to the heart of the castle and find Dorothy next to a scouring pool trying to take over the clock. Through a little battle, Amy finds herself falling/diving into the pool.

While she is in the pool, she is in a world between worlds and we meet Lurline, the original fairy and Ozma's great-great grandmother (there might be one more great in there). Through Lurline, we find out that the silver shoes are from Lurline and the magic in them is hers. Lurline warns Amy about being careful with the magic she uses, but she's stronger than Dorothy was. She also give Amy a necklace that will help someone (how Amy doesn't figure out right away that it's for Ozma is beyond me). And then she is sent back through the pool back into a battle between Nox and Dorothy. They are able to take down the castle and Amy (stupidly) believes that Dorothy dies when everything comes falling down. No one else believes this.

But no time to worry about that!

Amy gives the necklace to Ozma once she figures out she is the one Lurline intended it for, and Ozma is restored to her non-crazy self. Everyone agrees that they need to have a party to celebrate the return of Ozma to her proper position. They spend the night relaxing and feasting, but the next day they party! LuLu crowns Ozma and Ozma gives praise to Amy, but all Amy can think about is getting the hell out of Oz. While everyone is celebrating, her and Nox are about to make a break for it when they overhear a conversation between Mombi and Glamora.

Glamora wants to take Amy down because she thinks that Amy is a loose cannon. But wait...why would Glamora feel that way about her? Well, when then twins were duking it out, Glinda might have physically died, but she is still in her sisters mind trying to come to the surface and Glamora is fighting a losing battle. Mombi and Glamora finish their conversation and Mombi tells all of this to Amy and Nox since they've been dropping eaves. But they aren't the only ones!

Glinda wins the internal battle of the sisters and tells our little group that she and NK are going to take over Oz and the other place! She pulls out a mirror and we see NK harassing Madison and Dustin while disguised as the assistant principal. Through a series of events, NK threatens Madison is Amy won't help him, and Madison finds herself in Oz, sans baby and baby daddy. NK knocks Mombi into a tree, but Mombi is sick of all this crazy and sneaks up behind him and bops him on the head with a branch. Well, it's harder than a bop. 

While Mombi, Glinda/Glamora, and NK are duking it out, Amy and Nox grabbed a freaked out Madison and make a break to the Yellow Brick Road. YBR is #TeamAmy and very not #TeamNomeKing and helps them escape. And then...

THE DAMN BOOK ENDS!!!

Just like that! No warning! Nothing is tied up in a pretty bow! It's all over! What the hell Danielle Paige!? You have me emotionally invested in a book and you leave me on a cliffhanger like that! How can I pick up another book after that?

Through some research, I've seen people say that they next book is expected next Spring, but no official word from Paige yet. I will make sure to let everyone know though!

Rating: 10/10
Pages: 432 (Hardback)
Books in Series: 3 primary works; 6 novellas (as of today)
Genre(s): Fantasy, Young Adult, Retellings
How Likely am I to Recommend This Book: Everyone needs to go out and buy this like yesterday! Everyone who has a birthday coming up will be getting this as a present.

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Wicked Will Rise by Danielle Paige

So like Dorothy Must Die, this is the second time I've read this book. Last time I enjoyed the book (it's one of my favorites), but I didn't like it as much as DMD. This time, it was the same reaction, although I enjoyed it more this time.

Some of the things that I haven't enjoyed either time around:
     -The length. DMD was about 150 pages longer that WWR. I love when books are longer because I feel like things can happen at a more appropriate pace, and nothing feels rushed, which leads me to...
     -The ending felt very rushed. The entire book, we're making our way through different places in Oz, fighting a battle here and there, and then all of a sudden, we're back in the Emerald City fighting the biggest battle yet and then we're back in Oz and everything happened so fast, your head is spinning.
     -One of my biggest issues is that Amy is suddenly pining for Nox. In DMD, yeah, they had a kiss-just one kiss-but it wasn't anything special, it wasn't true loves kiss. But YA novels have this standard that they are supposed to meet, and one of them is a love interest, but here, it felt like this love came out of nowhere. I liked Amy more when she was an independent badass than when she is wishing she was with Nox.
     -Star is murdered by the Lion at the beginning of the book! I hate when the animals die in books, you know, unless they're evil, like the Lion. I don't feel that this death moved the book forward in any way. Amy already had enough motive to do her mission, Star could have lived. This is a bigger issue than Amy suddenly being boy crazy.

Those things aside, it's still a great book. We learn more about the different areas of Oz that make this fairytale land even more real. One of the first places is the Queendom of the Wingless and meet Queen Lulu. I love Lulu. She reminds me of that eccentric aunt who always tells you what she thinks, but always has your back when you're fighting with your mom. And I'm jealous that she can get away with throwing bananas at people. Honestly, I wish the Queendom was a real place. I imagined it sort of like jungle that the lost boys live in in the movie Hook, which is another place I wish was real. I wish we could have spent a little bit of more time there, but Mombi had to come along and tell Amy to move on.

The Island of Lost Things sounds like paradise! Maybe I'd find some things that I'll never find again! And here, we meet Bright, who in Baum's books annoyed the hell out of me, but here, I love him! I have definitely met a few Bright's in my life. Bright leads us to probably the prettiest place in all of the worlds, the Glass Castle on the rainbow and we meet Polychrome and Heathcliff. I feel like we could have spent some more time here with these people before Glinda kills Poly and Heathcliff. This is also when we learn that we seriously can't trust Pete, who I haven't trusted since he ditched Amy by the side of the crater.

The best thing about reading the book this time was not having to wait for Yellow Brick War to come out. I finished this book Friday night and jumped right away into the next. Even though the ending feels rushed, it's an extreme cliffhanger. We're left in Kansas with Glamora holding out a robe saying "It's time," and Dorothy in a heap on the ground, and the Wizard just exploded.

My hopes with YBW is that we will finally learn who we can and can't trust (I have a feeling that we can't trust Nox); that Amy learns to control her magic; and I really want Amy to end up in Kansas, or at least our world, and that she is happy with life.

Rating: 9/10
Pages: 293 (hardback)
Genre(s): Fantasy, Young Adult, Retellings
Books in the Series: 3 primary works; 6 novellas
How Likely Am I to Suggest it to Someone: Extremely, very likely!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Scholastic Book Fair

My mom works for a school district. For a myriad of reasons, this has always been something I liked. But earlier in March, I finally found the best reason: BOOK FAIRS!

She stopped by my office early that morning with some cook books she had bought and wanted me to look through. Then she said I should stop by during my lunch break (the office where I work and the school where she works are less than a mile from each other), but she said she didn't think I'd find anything.

Let me repeat that: she didn't think I would find anything. Famous last words.

I showed up promptly at 11:32 and we walked down to the library where the book fair was taking place. I chatted politely with people I have known for years. And then I got to start looking.

There were probably 100-ish books. I picked up most of them and read through the different synopses. Being surround by books is the happiest feeling in the world. By the time I was halfway around, the librarian (who was my 6th grade English teacher and totally sweet) was asking me if I wanted to leave my pile at the front while I kept looking, and then I kept looking around.

This was my haul.


In case you can't read all of the titles...

     -I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
     -Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone
     -Is It Night or Day? by Fern Schumer Chapman
     -Serafina & the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty
     -Ellie's Story by W. Bruce Cameron
     -All We Have is Now by Lisa Schroeder
     -The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson
     -The Haunting of Sunshine Girl by Paige McKenzie
     -Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge

Now I haven't had a chance to read any of them, but I was very excited to add these new reads to my bookshelves! I promise as I read them, I will give reviews and let you know how wonderful they all are. Or horrible. You never know.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Always

Sadly, on January 14, 2016 we lost one of our beloved actors, Alan Rickman. Rickman is known for roles such as Professor Snape in Harry Potter, Sheriff George of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Theives, and Hans Gruber in Die Hard, along with so many others.

Professor Snape

Sheriff George of Nottingham

Hans Gruber
People from all generations felt this loss and many people showed their love for him in many ways. Lilies were left at the Harry Potter Universal Studios, wands were raised, and the internet was flooded with quotes from his many characters. One thing that I loved was that Fandom of the Month was doing a tribute box for him. You didn't have to be a part of the usual monthly subscription, anyone could order it, and a portion of the proceeds went to St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital. I knew that I had to get this.

They warned me (and everyone who purchased one) that it would be a while before we received our boxes in the mail, but I was okay with it. This week, I finally received my box in the mail! I was so excited for it. I had waited almost 2 months for it! It was so worth the wait.

Contents of the Box

Window Sticker
I think the window sticker for my car is the most favorite thing. Although I frequently wear shirts that show my love for Harry Potter, or quote the books and movies, now, everywhere I drive, people will know that I am a Die Hard Potterhead (see what I did there). I am so glad that I got this box.

Alan Rickman February 21, 1946-January 14, 2016
Alan Rickman, you have brought these wonderful characters to life. You will always be loved by so many people, and you will be greatly missed.


After all this time? Always.

Friday, March 18, 2016

LOVE Bookshelf

One of my most prized possessions is my LOVE bookshelf that my dad made me last year for my birthday. I had found a post of it on Pinterest a few years before and had been wanting one ever since. It was so amazing and beautiful and fit me perfectly.

So when I woke up one morning and found my dad working hard on it, I was ecstatic. This is what it looked like before paint.



I thought, and still do, think it is the most amazing thing ever. After it was assembled, we went out and bought paint for it: a black-ish brown and a bright fire engine red for the "O." Once it was all painted, I loved it even more.


It's perfect, right? Once it was all dry, like really dry, I put my books on it (I had to make sure that it wasn't going to mess up any books if it wasn't dry enough). I've moved it around the room a few times, but I have finally found a perfect spot for it! It's the best thing in the world!


I only put my most favorite books on it! I mean, really, look at how wonderful it is!

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

This is the second time I've read Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige, and this is the second time I loved it. The plot line is addicting, the characters are fascinating, and the cliff hanger at the end makes me very happy that the rest of the series is already out because I couldn't wait to dive into the second book.

I found the book last March while wondering around Barnes & Noble. The Wicked Will Rise had just been released and there was a huge display for it. The cover is what caught my attention.


They are edgy, the color and font scream out at you, I couldn't help but pick it up. Which, as I started to read the synopsis of the book, I realized it was a second and I immediately tore my eyes and went to search for the first one.

Usually when I buy a book where its subsequent books are released, I buy all of them. However, I was short on money and I had been in a reading slump where I couldn't finish anything, so I just bought DMD. I immediately regretted that because I finished it in one sitting. With that, my reading slump was over.

There are minor spoilers from here on out. Read cautiously!

Dorothy Must Die takes place around Amy Gumm, "the other girl from Kansas." Just like Dorothy, she lived in a flat plain in the boring state of Kansas and is taken to Oz by ways of cyclone. But the Oz that she lands in is nothing like the technicolor world that everyone knows and loves. Here, Dorothy Gale is evil, Glinda is wicked, and Dorothy's companions have become extremely scary versions of the originals. Amy has been brought to Oz by someone who wishes to not be named to save Oz. Through a series of events, Amy ends up becoming an operative for the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked, a group of (not-so) wicked witches who want the old Oz back and Dorothy gone.

I love the amazing character that we meet. Paige has done a brilliant job of bringing them to life where you feel that while you're reading, you can reach out and touch them. (Note: if you do this, you will be reaching into the air and touching nothing and people will look at you funny while saying "Oh, honey.")

Amy Gumm: Our main protagonist who comes from Kansas. There, Amy is known by her classmates as "Salvation Amy" ever since Madison Pendleton made fun of her in the 3rd grade because Amy lives in a trailer park. Amy has a stressed relationship with her mother, who is constantly popping pills and in an almost-comatose state on the couch or out at the bar getting drunk; her father isn't in the picture at all because he is too busy living in New Jersey with his new family after walking out on Amy and her mom. But in Oz, Amy is an assassin who is finding her place in this world, even if it's not her real world. Here, Amy matters, people rely on her, and she finds people that she cares about and wants to seek revenge for those who have been hurt.

Star: Star is Amy's mothers rat who ends up making the journey to Oz with Amy. Although she doesn't talk, she becomes very important to Amy, as she is the only thing from Kansas she has left. Although Star can't physically talk, she is very intuitive and has a good instinct about people. I always love the pets in the stories I read, and I develop an attachment to them, apparently even ones that are rats.

Pete: The first person that Amy meets upon landing in Oz, Pete saves Amy (and Star) from falling into a pit, and although is very secretive, confirms to Amy that she is in fact in Oz. Then Pete disappears and we don't see him until Amy has ended up in the dungeons of the Emerald City for pissing off Dorothy. Pete pops up in her cell and tells Amy that he is going to find a way to save her from certain death, and then he disappears again, but not before Amy asks him to hold onto Star. The next time we see Pete is after Amy has entered Dorothy's palace disguised as a maid, Ingrid. Although the magic disguising Amy is extremely powerful and no one else can tell that she isn't the real Ingrid, Pete somehow knows, which adds to the sketchy factor. Pete returns Star and has intermittent meetings with Amy during her stay in the palace. But be warned, Pete isn't who you think he is. (If you've read the original Wizard of Oz stories by L. Frank Baum, you'll know who Pete is.)

Indigo: The first munchkin Amy comes across is the goth, angst-y Indigo. She isn't in the story for too long, because she is killed by a member of the Tin Mans army, but she does provide Amy with a bit of knowledge about Oz and introduces us to Perma-Smile. Her death is also a catalyst for Amy to destroy the reign of Dorothy once she joins the Order.

Ollie: A wingless monkey who, when we first meet him, is on his way to Oz to save his sister from the torture of the Scarecrow. Ollie used to have his wings, but the wings are what holds the magic that ties them to Dorothy, so a group of monkeys have decided that instead of having wings, they will cut them off for their freedom. His family however thought that they were stupid and kept their wings, and have ever since been slaves to Dorothy. Ollie bails when Amy and group run into the Tin Woodsmans soldiers, but we meet him later after he has infiltrated the palace in hopes of saving his sister, Maude. Luckily, Amy runs into him before he does something stupid, and agrees to help him save her, and in return, Ollie helps Amy at the end of the book.

Dorothy and the Gang: These guys are not the sweet people we all fell in love with in the 1939 movie starring Judy Garland. Dorothy is still a fan of her blue gingham, although prefers her dresses to be a bit tighter, shorter, and more revealing, and she never takes off her ruby red shoes, as they are the source of all of her power, and definitely help fuel her evil. Glinda as well has said goodbye to her pink ballgown and now prefers sleeker numbers. You can tell that even though Dorothy is the front woman, Glinda is the one calling all the shots. She also uses munchkins to mine magic for her and Dorothy so they can become more powerful. The Tin Woodsman is hopelessly in love and will do anything for her, but this is completely one-sided. Tin still holds out hope though. But his love has caused him to do horrible things in hopes of impressing Dorothy. His army is made out of deformed Gilikins and Munchkins whose bodies have been replaced with metal parts and whose appendages are scary weapons that will cause the worst sorts of pain. Even Tin himself has hands made out of knives, so even if he did get close to Dorothy, he'd cause some major pain (maybe that wouldn't be so bad). The Scarecrow only cares about his brain and power. He experiments on different people trying to figure out what makes them smart, and uses their brain juice to make himself smarter (yes, it's as bad as it sounds). Forget about the Scare we all thought we knew, this Scare is completely ruthless and will do anything to get what he wants. The final member of the torture gang, the Cowardly Lion is anything but cowardly now. In fact, he literally feeds off the fear of poor creatures and people he comes across. Amy and the Order have a battle with him and almost kill him off, but the battle ends in a way that no one was ready for.

Mombi: Our first Wicked Witch and member of the Order that we meet. Mombi saves Amy from Dorothy's prison as long as Amy promises to help the Order. Amy has no idea what this entails yet, but she knows it's her only option, so she agrees mid-battle with Tin and his army. Like everyone in the Order, Mombi isn't a person who you can fully trust because she's not going to do anything unless she gets something in return. The good thing about Mombi is she tells you this up front, so you know to take everything with a grain of salt. Mombi helps Amy channel her magic and helps form her into the perfect secret assassin.

"Grandma" Gert: One of the nicest witches in the Order, she used to be a good witch, but that doesn't mean she's anymore trustworthy.  Gert is who helps Amy realize the potential she has and is a positive force for her. However, she can read minds and uses this against her. Gert is killed during a battle with the Lion and her death really impacts the Order.

Glamora: Glamora is the twin sister of Glinda and is supposed to be the evil half of the pair, but no one is really as evil as Glinda. Glamora is just as fancy and proper as her other half, however, she has to hide the damage that Glinda has done: a dis-formed scar on her face. As Glamora says, it doesn't help Glinda's cause to have a twin who looks just like her.

Nox: The only warlock in the Order and the kinda, but not really, love interest of Amy. He is dark and mysterious, like all love interests are, and he has a sad past. No one is more committed to the cause than him and he's very serious about ending Dorothy's tyranny. He shares one kiss with Amy, but in my opinion, it's not all that romantic, but neither of them have really done much kissing to know how it's supposed to go.

Princess Ozma: The true ruler of Oz, she hasn't been the same since Dorothy's return. Words that are commonly used to describe her are: a shell of her former self, a bobble head, lost, gone, missing. We see her a few times, but her she is very incoherent (or is she). No one listens to what she has to say, but that might be their downfall.

Jellia Jamb: Another original from the Oz series for people who have read the books. Jellia loves her job as a maid; she loves making everything perfect; she loves praising Dorothy. Honestly, her enthusiasm is nauseating. But like Ozma, she's knows more than she lets on. Jellia is not a person to overlook.

Now I know DMD was published by Full Fathom Five, which has become a big no no due to the controversy surrounding founder James Frey, but this series is extremely good and deserves to be read. Don't let one bad seed turn you away from a wonderful series.

Rating: 9/10
Pages: 480 (in paperback)
Genre(s): Fantasy, Young Adult, Retellings
How Many Books in the Series: 3 primary works; 6 novellas (as of today)
How Likely am I to Suggest it to Someone: Pretty much expect that I am going to tell everyone they need to read it!