The Wizard Returns

Warning! Read Dorothy Must Die, No Place Like Oz, and The Witch Must Burn before continuing with this post. The Wizard Returns is the third prequel novella in the Dorothy Must Die series, and I’d hate to ruin this magical journey for you!

So, it’s the first day of my Spring Break, and I kicked things off by finishing The Wizard Returns this morning. (I would have posted on the novella sooner, but I decided to take two naps today. Priorities, people.) This prequel is the perfect lead-in to the second full-length novel, The Wicked Will Rise, which comes out on Tuesday.

In No Place Like Oz, we learn how Dorothy made her way back to Oz and rose to power. In The Witch Must Burn, we see the new power struggle through the eyes of Jellia Jamb, and we learn more about Glinda’s thirst for control. Now, in The Wizard Returns, we’re (obviously) off to see the Wizard.

Everyone thought the Wizard headed back to Kansas when his hot air balloon left the Emerald City. Everyone was wrong.

It is only as his balloon was leaving Oz behind that the Wizard realizes he doesn’t really want to leave. Well, it seems there are powers at work that also want him to remain in Oz, and, mysteriously, the Wizard never quite makes it back to the Other Place. Instead, he crash lands in a field of poppies…

Fast forward twenty-five years, and the Wizard wakes up…with no memory of who he is, what he’s done, or how much time has passed. He’s met by a curious figure named Pete. This boy gives the Wizard (who doesn’t know he’s a wizard) the name of Hex and takes steps to ensure that no one will recognize him. Why? Has Hex done things so horrible that being recognized would put him in danger? (In a word–yes.)

Pete informs Hex that he’ll have to pass three tests–tests of Wisdom, Courage, and Love–to have his memories restored, but Hex isn’t sure if all this trouble is really worth it. If he was such a horrible guy, does he really want to remember everything? Maybe it’s better to have a fresh start.

Unfortunately, those who were victimized by Hex’s actions don’t have the luxury of forgetting, so Pete guides Hex through the tests that will determine his fate. Hex must prove that he is willing to put the good of Oz over his own interests, but that proves easier said that done.

Something in Hex wants the power he knows he once had. He hungers for the magic that flows through Oz. Have these trials revealed and repaired the weaknesses in the Wizard’s character, or have they made him more convinced of his own superiority than ever before?

Will the Wizard do his part to restore Oz to its pre-Dorothy glory, or will he be this magical land’s ultimate doom?

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In Dorothy Must Die and the previous novellas, I was unsure about the Wizard’s motives in everything that was going on. After reading The Wizard Returns, I’m even more unsure. Sometimes, he really seemed sincere, repentant, and more concerned with others’ well-being than with his own. At other times, he was clearly looking out for his own interests. I just don’t know where that leaves us going into The Wicked Will Rise. Hopefully, things will become clear as I read that book.

One thing I will say about the Wizard is that his behavior toward the monkeys was thoroughly despicable. *Spoilers* When I learned how he essentially sold them into slavery to the Wicked Witch of the West, I was horrified. He seemed to feel the same way when he got snippets of his memory back, but I don’t know if that was enough to change his behavior. He still seemed to have a bit of a superiority complex, and I predict that will get him into trouble.

So, what’s going to happen to the Wizard when things come to a head with Dorothy, Amy, and the Witches of Oz? I don’t know, but I look forward to seeing how this intense power struggle plays out. Only a few more days until this wonderful series gives us some answers!

If you’d like more information about The Wizard Returns and the other Dorothy Must Die stories, visit author Danielle Paige on Goodreads, Twitter, or Facebook. Enjoy!

Published in: on March 28, 2015 at 9:09 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Witch Must Burn

If you haven’t read Dorothy Must Die or the first prequel novella, No Place Like Oz, I urge you to do so before reading prequel novella #2, The Witch Must Burn. That is all.

Welcome to my new obsession. I have quickly fallen in love with Danielle Paige’s Dorothy Must Die series, and that adoration only continues with The Witch Must Burn. It is absolutely fascinating to see the political maneuvering and machinations behind Dorothy’s rise to power upon her return to Oz. Yes, Dorothy is horrible, but she’s not the only one. In The Witch Must Burn, we get a closer look at Glinda, who seems to have forgotten that she’s supposed to be a “Good Witch.” The lines between Good and Wicked aren’t exactly clear anymore.

Jellia Jamb has lived in the royal palace of Emerald City as long as she can remember, and she’s worked her way up to the position of head maid. Jellia has seen lots of changes during her time at the palace, but the current state of things give her cause for great worry.

When Ozma, the land’s true leader, was in power, life was idyllic. Now that Dorothy’s in charge, however, things are different. Everyone walks on eggshells, people are punished–and often disappear–because of the smallest infractions, the Scarecrow is conducting strange experiments, and much of the magic has gone out of Oz.

Jellia, who has her own magical abilities, does what she can to ease the way for herself and the other maids, but a mighty force soon realizes that Jellia’s gifts may be more powerful that even she realizes. Glinda sees something in Jellia, something she can possibly use to mine the magic deep within Oz’s core.

Glinda borrows Jellia from Dorothy and spirits her away to her own estate for the summer…a summer that will throw Jellia into a situation more dangerous than she ever could have foreseen. She’ll learn that Glinda is the real force behind Dorothy’s rise to power, and she’s working to gain more magic and control than ever before. Jellia will also discover that a revolution is in the works…a revolution that is trying to restore Oz to its former glory.

Jellia is now in a position to help those who seek to put an end to Glinda’s–and Dorothy’s–reign of terror. Is she willing to trust these people–the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked–who know more about Jellia than she does herself? Will she put her fate and that of Oz in their hands? And what may she learn about herself and her own abilities in the process?

Join Jellia, a seemingly simple maid, as she navigates the power struggles in Oz. What can she do to turn the tide? Read The Witch Must Burn to find out!

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I’m so glad this novella is told from Jellia’s perspective. We see this character in Dorothy Must Die, and, by the end of that novel, we know that she plays a much bigger role than originally thought. It’s wonderful to see how that role developed. Given what happened at the end of Dorothy Must Die, though, I wonder how much intel Jellia was able to gather and how that will help Amy Gumm and the Order overthrow Dorothy, Glinda, and their associates. That’s something to ponder before the second novel, The Wicked Will Rise, comes out on March 31st.

Before we get to The Wicked Will Rise, there’s still one more prequel novella to dive into. The Wizard Returns is next on my to-read list, and I will begin reading it as soon as I finish a couple other reads-in-progress. The Wizard has made appearances in the other Dorothy Must Die stories, but his loyalties and motives have been a little suspicious. I’m hopefull that The Wizard Returns will clear things up a bit. We’ll just have to see.

For more information about The Witch Must Burn and the other Dorothy Must Die stories, visit author Danielle Paige on Goodreads, Twitter, or Facebook.

 

Published in: on March 22, 2015 at 1:47 pm  Leave a Comment  
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No Place Like Oz

Warning! Even though this post is on a prequel to Dorothy Must Die, I strongly urge you to read that book before proceeding with this post or with No Place Like Oz. And if you have a special fondness for Dorothy Gale from The Wizard of Oz…well, that’s about to change.

For those of you still with me, you’ve probably guessed that I’ve become slightly obsessed with Danielle Paige’s Dorothy Must Die series. The first book simply took my breath away, and I just had to dive in when I learned there were several prequels detailing events leading up to Amy Gumm’s journey to and through Oz. Last night, I finished the first of those prequel novellas, No Place Like Oz, and it was everything I could have possibly hoped for.

In No Place Like Oz, we see almost sixteen-year-old Dorothy in Kansas. Her adventurous trek through Oz is over, and she’s back to her humdrum life on the farm.

When Dorothy was in Oz, all she wanted was to get back home. Now that she’s actually home, though, Dorothy dreams of going back to Oz. In Oz, she was important. In Oz, she was the hero and had some very close friends. In Kansas, she’s the girl with the crazy stories. In Kansas, she’s poor, has no friends, and is always left wanting. Why wouldn’t she want to go back to Oz?

Well, it seems that someone out there wants the same thing for Dorothy. On her sixteenth birthday, Dorothy receives a pair of shoes. Now, these are not just any shoes. (They’re never “just shoes” when it come to Oz.) These towering red heels were supposedly sent to Dorothy from Glinda, and they fill Dorothy with a feeling of magic–of power–the minute she puts them on. The shoes are so powerful, in fact, that Dorothy is able to use them to take her–and Toto, Aunt Em, and Uncle Henry–straight to Oz.

Dorothy is thrilled to be back in Oz, but Aunt Em and Uncle Henry don’t find the place as wonderful as Dorothy does. They only want to go back to Kansas, but Dorothy honestly has no intention of returning to that boring, dreary life. She plans to stay exactly where she is, and she’s willing to do just about anything–including using the mysterious power and magic of her new shoes–to make that happen.

As Dorothy becomes more obsessed with staying in Oz, her true nature (?) becomes apparent. She’s tired of always wanting. Shouldn’t she get something out of saving Oz? Shouldn’t she be revered and given anything she wants? Of course, she should! And with her special red shoes, anything she wants is possible…even taking over Oz herself.

But what price will Dorothy pay in her quest for fame and power? Is she that willing to do anything (and I do mean anything) just to feel special? Why was she given her magical shoes in the first place, and is there more at work in Oz than even Dorothy knows?

Learn how a seemingly innocent farm girl from Kansas is transformed into a megalomaniac bent on showing everyone just how special she truly is when you read No Place Like Oz by Danielle Paige!

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When I was reading Dorothy Must Die several days ago, I wondered how Dorothy left Kansas once again and came to rule over Oz. Well, this novella went a long way in answering my questions. It showed how Dorothy progressed from innocent (but still kind of annoying) farm girl to the power-hungry monster she grew to be. I was captivated from start to finish, and I’m hoping the other prequel novellas–two of which are already out–continue to clarify how the current state of things in Oz came to be.

The next two novellas, The Witch Must Burn and The Wizard Returns, are pretty high up on my to-read list, and I’ll tackle those as soon as I can…hopefully before the next book is released. The Wicked Will Rise, the second full-length novel in the series comes out on March 31st, which is the second day of my Spring Break. Woohoo! A fourth prequel novella, Heart of Tin, will be out on July 28th.

If you’re interested in learning more about this wonderful series, visit author Danielle Paige on Goodreads, Twitter, or Facebook.

Published in: on March 17, 2015 at 11:42 am  Leave a Comment  
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Dorothy Must Die

I grew up loving The Wizard of Oz. I watched the movie almost incessantly, and I read the book as soon as I was old enough to understand most of the words. As I got older, though, I was less intrigued with Dorothy’s journey and more interested in the Wicked Witch. (Dorothy seemed like kind of a goody-two-shoes to me. Boring.) That interest only intensified the first time I saw Wicked (which remains my absolute favorite musical).

It shouldn’t surprise anyone, then, that I thoroughly enjoyed reading Danielle Paige’s Dorothy Must Die, a book that delves into what happened after the Wicked Witch was gone and Dorothy returned to Kansas. It seems that Dorothy didn’t stay in Kansas very long, and she didn’t exactly remain the good girl that everyone remembers…

Amy Gumm’s life in Kansas is less than stellar. She’s something of an outcast at school. She gets in trouble for fighting with a pregnant girl (who totally started the fight in the first place). Her relationship with her mother is strained to say the least. She’d dearly love to escape her many worries. Well, Amy should probably be careful what she wishes for…

When a tornado rips through town, it takes Amy and her home with it. And where does Amy land? Oz, of course. (Where else would a girl from Kansas caught up in a tornado land?!) But this is not the Oz Amy remembers from film and books. No, this Oz is terrifying, bleak, and seemingly devoid of the magic that should be all around. What happened here?

Well, as it turns out, Dorothy happened here. After her time in Oz, life in Kansas just couldn’t compare, so she found her way back…and proceeded to completely take over. Now, the monkeys, Munchkins, and other creatures are essentially enslaved. They do Dorothy’s bidding or they find themselves in for a world of hurt. That “hurt” comes from the Scarecrow (who performs horrifying experiments on those who anger Dorothy), the Tin Woodsman (who has knives for fingers and leads an army of tin soldiers), and the Lion (who has left cowardly behind and delights on feeding off of others’ fear). And let’s not forget Glinda, the “Good” Witch, who is now Dorothy’s adviser and oversees many of the twit’s projects. So, yeah, it’s not a great time to be in Oz.

So what is Amy to do in this frightening, unfamiliar Oz? How can she get back home? She doesn’t exactly have the warm-ish welcome that Dorothy enjoyed all those years ago. All she knows is what she remembers from the book and movie based on this place, and there’s no resemblance to that now. Even the yellow brick road is crumbling.

Amy does the only thing she can think of. She starts toward the Emerald City…but that may not be the smartest thing to do these days. Amy encounters many dangers–and a couple of potential friends–along the way, and she finds herself in the clutches of Dorothy herself (who turns out to be the most evil, sadistic you-know-what imaginable).

Luckily (depending on one’s point of view), Amy eventually receives help from a rather interesting source. The Revolutionary Order of the Wicked. This group of Wicked Witches rescues Amy from certain death at the hand of Dorothy and the Scarecrow, but the witches’ help is not without its price. They want Amy’s assistance with something. Something that only Amy, a girl from Kansas, can do.

They want her to kill Dorothy.

Even though Amy has seen Dorothy’s cruelty first-hand, she doesn’t quite know how she feels about killing her. (The lines between Good and Wicked are becoming blurrier by the second.) Even so, she trains with the Order and discovers she’s got a bit of magic of her own. Amy’s new-found skills and powers give her confidence, something she’s never really had before. She’s strong, and she knows she can put an end to Dorothy’s reign of terror…but will she?

Amy’s resolve is soon put to the test, and, as she learns more and more about what’s really going on in Oz, the more determined she becomes to see this thing through. But will things be as straightforward as she’s been led to believe? Who can she depend on to have her back when things go sour? And is she really getting the whole story from the Order, or is more going on in Oz than even they know?

Read Dorothy Must Die, the first book in a thrilling series by Danielle Paige, to see just what Amy encounters when she goes “over the rainbow.” No happy little bluebirds here, folks.

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If it wasn’t already apparent, I adored this book. I can hardly wait to dive into the three prequel novellas that are already out (and waiting on my Kindle). If you’re curious, those are No Place Like Oz, The Witch Must Burn, and The Wizard Returns. The second full-length novel in this series, The Wicked Will Rise, comes out on March 31st, and a fourth prequel novella, Heart of Tin, will be out on July 28th. Lots to look forward to!

Dorothy Must Die is a perfect read for those who enjoy fractured fairy tales or readers who always wonder what happens after the story ends. This wonderful book tells us that it’s not always the happily ever after we envision…which is kind of cool.

I have to admit that this book has forever changed how I look at The Wizard of Oz. I don’t think I can ever view the Scarecrow as the lovable dolt I’ve always known. No, both he and the Tin Man are now the stuff of nightmares. The Lion is in another category entirely. He is beyond nightmare status, and I really wish he’d stayed cowardly.

I don’t know yet where this series will lead or how it will further change my perception of Oz and its inhabitants, but I look forward to the journey!

If I still haven’t convinced you to give this book a try, check out the book trailer below. You may also want to connect with author Danielle Paige on Goodreads, Twitter, or Facebook.

Published in: on March 9, 2015 at 1:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Sweetly

Notice:  Sweetly is a companion novel to Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce.  It is not absolutely essential to read Sisters Red first…but it would help.  And since Sisters Red is awesome, you should really read it anyway.  The cover alone is reason enough to pick this one up.

Now, moving on to Sweetly…like Sisters Red, it is a retelling of a familiar fairy tale.  Where Sisters Red gave us a new way to look at Little Red Riding Hood, Sweetly gives us a new view of Hansel and Gretel.  (In my review of Sisters Red, I mentioned that I was not a big fan of Little Red Riding Hood.  Well, the same is true of Hansel and GretelSweetly may have changed that.)  And again, readers are blessed with a cover that does its part in drawing us into the story before we even get to the first page.

Sweetly begins twelve years ago with a brother and two sisters in a forest. They are looking for the witch that a book said lives in the woods. Unfortunately, they find more than they bargained for.  The book may have been right, and a witch–or something even more sinister– comes upon the children in the forest, and this mysterious yellow-eyed thing begins to chase the young children.  They try to stay together–holding hands as tightly as possible–but they have to let go to run faster.  When they reach their home, it immediately becomes clear that every child did not make it.  Ansel made it, Gretchen made it, but Gretchen’s twin sister never returned home.  Ansel and Gretchen know the witch took her, but no one truly believes them…and the two siblings have to live with the knowledge that the witch is still out there, waiting, watching, while a family is slowly torn apart.

Fast forward twelve years…Ansel and Gretchen are on their own after their stepmother throws them out.  They are all alone and trying to start a new life away from the pain of the past.  The brother and sister make a long journey from the only home they’ve ever known in Washington to a small town near the coast in South Carolina, a town where outsiders are viewed with contempt.  Only a few people treat the siblings with kindness.  One of those people is Sophia Kelly, the local candy maker, who is dealing with her own problems with the people of Live Oak, South Carolina.  Sophia takes the two young outcasts in and makes them feel welcome in her home.  They had only intended to stay a night, but a night quickly turns into a week, a week into a month.  Before they really know how it happened, Ansel and Gretchen have found a home, one that is far removed from the past they are running from.

But is it really?  As everyone knows, small towns tend to have secrets, and Live Oak is no exception.  It seems, though, that the secrets in Live Oak revolve around one Sophia Kelly, the girl who has befriended Gretchen and bewitched Ansel.  The townspeople blame her for their daughters leaving and never returning.  They don’t visit, they don’t call, they don’t write.  In fact, no one ever hears from them after they attend Sophia’s annual chocolate festival.  Could Sophia have something to do with their disappearance, or is she as innocent as she seems?  Gretchen knows that Sophia is keeping secrets, but she just can’t believe that the girl who has become her only friend could have anything to do with girls vanishing from the face of the earth.

Gretchen reevaluates her views, however, when she encounters the very thing that has haunted her for twelve years.  She discovers it wasn’t a witch that captured her twin sister.  It was a werewolf…more specifically, a Fenris.  When Gretchen narrowly escapes one of these monsters, with the help of the mysterious Samuel Reynolds, she is determined to learn more about these horrible beings and what they have to do with the missing girls of Live Oak.  What do they want with the girls, and how is Sophia involved?  The truth may be more than Gretchen is prepared to handle, but handle it she must.  Gretchen must face her own fears if she has any hope of preventing other girls from vanishing like her sister did.  Is she strong enough to face an evil that has ruined nearly everything she holds dear?  And can she face her dearest (and only) friend’s role in the horror surrounding her?  Join Gretchen as she learns that living in a candy shop isn’t as sweet as it seems.

If your interest has been piqued at all by this post, I strongly urge you to make both Sisters Red and Sweetly part of your holiday reading.  They’re awesome books with strong, yet flawed, female characters, and they turn the “fairy tale” idea of a helpless girl who has to be rescued by the handsome prince on its ear.  (Don’t get me wrong.  There are handsome guys in these books, but these strong ladies could get along just fine without them…most of the time.)

According to Jackson Pearce’s website (http://jackson-pearce.com/), there is going to be another companion book to Sisters Red and Sweetly (and given the way that Sweetly ended, I expected this and even predicted which fairy tale would be retold next).  The book is Fathomless, a retelling of The Little Mermaid, and will be released in August of 2012.  I’m very interested in the connections between these three stories, and I hope Fathomless answers some of the questions that popped up at the end of Sweetly.  At any rate, I know I’m in store for another great story from Jackson Pearce and, I hope, another fantastic cover to grace my bookshelf.

Beautiful Chaos

Spoiler alert!!! If you haven’t read Beautiful Creatures and Beautiful Darkness, turn back now. Even if you have read these wonderful books, it might not be a bad idea to reread them a bit before starting book three, Beautiful Chaos. This book will make absolutely zero sense if you’re not pretty familiar with the first two books in the Caster Chronicles. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

I finished reading the third book in the Caster Chronicles, Beautiful Chaos last night, over a year after I read the second book, Beautiful Darkness. That was not smart. I really should have reread book two before re-entering this world. But it’s too late now, and, to be honest, it didn’t take that long to re-familiarize myself with the fascinating characters created by authors Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. (Revisiting my blog posts on the previous two books did help, though.) The characters, plot, and setting in each of these books are unbelievably rich and dramatic, so a little effort expended to remember details was well worth it.

If you’ve read Beautiful Darkness, you may recall that Lena, a powerful Caster (or witch, to you people not in-the-know), claimed herself as both Light and Dark, an unheard-of occurrence in the Caster world. Well, in Beautiful Chaos, we learn that big decisions like the one Lena made can have catastrophic consequences…

Ethan Wate, a Mortal, and his Caster girlfriend, Lena, have barely survived Lena’s seventeenth moon, and now they must deal with the fallout of Lena’s decision to be both Light and Dark. Lena may be both Light and Dark, but Gatlin, their small South Carolina town, is all dark. The Order of Things has been torn asunder, and Gatlin–and the entire world–is in total chaos. Gatlin is experiencing record-breaking heat, swarms of locust-like insects, lakes drying up, and lots of other stuff that makes people thing that the End of Days is near…and they might be right. Even Lena’s family of Casters is experiencing the chaos. Their powers aren’t working the way they should, and they all know that things will get much worse before they get better–if better is even an option.

Ethan is experiencing his own brand of chaos. He’s forgetting things, he’s being haunted by a strange voice that has followed him out of his dreams and into the real world, and he can no longer trust Amma, the woman who has always been there for him, because she has delved into a darkness that he can’t pull her out of. Is there anyone he can turn to? How can he figure out what’s wrong with him when there are so many wrong things happening?

As Ethan, Lena, and several friends–both known and unexpected–try to find a solution to the madness engulfing the world, secrets are revealed, more questions arise, and Ethan is faced with a horrible choice. What will he have to do to restore order to the world and save everything he knows and loves? Can order even be restored when Ethan and company are seemingly fighting fate itself? What price must be paid to save the world? Find out when you read Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.

But wait…there’s more!

Beautiful Chaos is not the end of the Caster Chronicles (and based on the way it ended, I can only say, “Thank the Maker!”). In addition to a novella, Dream Dark, that takes place before the events of Beautiful Chaos, there’s also going to be a fourth book in the Caster Chronicles. I don’t know what the title will be yet, but I do know the book is set for a 2012 release–most likely in the fall. I’ll post any information about the book’s release, title, and cover as soon as I possibly can. No matter what the details are, based on the previous three books, I can guarantee that book four will be amazing. (I’m also hoping that it has a happy-ish ending, especially if it’s the last book in this emotionally-draining-yet-somehow-satisfying series.)

For now, though, you can find a lot of wonderful Caster Chronicles stuff at the authors’ website, http://beautifulcreaturesnovels.com/, and the official fan site, Caster Girls & Boys, http://castergirls.com/. Enjoy!

Published in: on November 29, 2011 at 5:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Chime

It’s rare that it takes me three weeks to finish a book.  Usually, it’s more like three days.  My latest read, however, almost completely stalled my reading progress, which is a shame because I was so excited about this book when I started it.  This book is Chime by Franny Billingsley.  (If you’ve been following the controversy surrounding this year’s National Book Award, this book might seem familiar to you.)  The cover is beautiful, nearly every review was positive, and the synopsis I read before diving into this book promised an interesting, engaging read.  Well, that might have been true for some readers, but this book just didn’t do it for me.

In Chime, we meet Briony Larkin.  Briony is not an average girl.  She spends her days taking care of her twin sister Rose, avoiding her father, and hating herself.  Why does she hate herself, you ask?  Well, Briony is a witch, and she can feel nothing but hatred for herself.  She cannot cry, she cannot love, and she cannot feel remorse.  She knows she’s a wicked girl, and only bad things will befall her and those around her.  After all, Briony’s jealousy injured Rose and killed their stepmother, right? 

When a young man, Eldric, arrives in the small village of Swampsea, Briony notices a change in herself.  She begins to feel more than just self-hatred.  She’s becoming adventurous, she’s laughing, and she’s having strong feelings for this boy-man.  She’s venturing into the swamp that she’s always been afraid of (and drawn to).  She’s longing to tell someone the truth about herself.  But what will Eldric do if he learns the truth about Briony?  Will he announce to the town that she’s a witch?  Will he watch Briony hang?  Will he keep her secret? 

Join Briony, Eldric, and a host of other colorful characters on a journey through the mysterious mires of Swampsea.  What will they discover?  What secrets will they unearth?  In the end, all truth will be revealed when you read Chime by Franny Billingsley.

Like I mentioned above, this book was not a favorite of mine.  The dialog was as hard to wade through as the swamp-filled setting.  On a more positive note, I thought the ending of the book was pretty good, and I like that this book serves as a stand-alone title (no trilogy in the works that I’m aware of).  If you decide to give Chime a try, let me know what you think of it.  Maybe I missed something that you didn’t.

If you’d like more information about Chime and author Franny Billingsley, visit http://www.frannybillingsley.com/.  I was just browsing this site, and I discovered that Ms. Billingsley wrote a favorite picture book, Big Bad Bunny.  Cool.

Published in: on November 15, 2011 at 8:27 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Always a Witch

Spoilers ahead!  If you haven’t read Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough, stop right there.  Read that book before you continue with this post.  Always a Witch will make absolutely no sense if you read it without the background provided in the first book.  Seriously.  No sense at all.

Well, I’ve finally finished the sequel to Once a Witch (which I read way back in March).  Always a Witch continues the story of Tamsin and her newly discovered Talent.  (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you obviously didn’t heed my warning above.  Shame on you.)  Tamsin and her family are getting ready for a very special celebration when things get weird…and that’s really saying something in a family full of witches.

Just days before Tamsin’s sister, Rowena is to be married, an enemy returns to wreak havoc on the Greene family.  The evil Alistair Knight warns that he will stop at nothing to restore his family’s power…and he means it.  When Tamsin learns that Alistair has Traveled back to 1887 New York, she knows she must follow him.  She must warn her family (ancestors, really) of what is to come so that they can prevent the dismal future that could await them.  But things aren’t really that easy.  Then again, they never are when it comes to Tamsin.

When Tamsin Travels back in time, she almost immediately finds herself employed…by the Knight family.  She is to be lady’s maid to young Jessica Knight.  But Tamsin may just be able to use this unexpected circumstance to her advantage.  She uses her position to learn more about her enemy, and she’s truly horrified by what she discovers.  The Knight family is the epitome of evil, and they must be stopped.  But can Tamsin convince her family to stop them when it could mean the loss of their powers and even their lives?

With or without help, Tamsin is determined to do what she must to ensure that the Knights lose their power.  But is she really willing to make the hard choices?  Choices that could impact the past as well as the future?  What will she do when she realizes that the future of her entire family rests on her shoulders?  What would you do?  Read Always a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough to discover how far one will go in the name of family.

Even though this book was heavy on the time travel (which I believe I have mentioned seriously messes with my head), I think Always a Witch was even better than its predecessor.  I was (figuratively) on the edge of my seat throughout the entire book.  Tamsin grew up and began to really think about how her choices would impact not only herself but also everyone around her.  I also kind of like that the villains of the book were the Knights.  That’s just awesome.  I’ve kind of always wanted to be a villain (but a good, misunderstood one like Darth Vader).  Even though the Knights in this book were pure evil, I still think it’s pretty cool that we share the same last name.  I know that’s incredibly juvenile of me, but, let’s face it, sometimes I am incredibly juvenile.

If you’d like more information on Once a Witch, Always a Witch, or other books by author Carolyn MacCullough, visit her website at http://www.carolynmaccullough.com/index.html.  As for me, I must get ready for the first day of school tomorrow.  Wish me luck!

Published in: on August 16, 2011 at 8:43 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Demonglass

Spoiler alert!  If you haven’t read Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins, proceed with caution!  Demonglass is book two in the Hex Hall series, and this post will be very spoilery.  (New word alert!)

If you just heard a scream of frustration that seemed to originate from a small town in upstate South Carolina, that was me.  I just finished reading Demonglass, the second book in Rachel Hawkins’ Hex Hall trilogy, and it ended on such an unbelievable cliffhanger that I am having difficulty suppressing my urge to throw things.  I want to read book three NOW, but I’m sad to report that I’ll have to wait until at least March of next year to find out what is going on in this amazing story.

If you liked Hex Hall, then I think you will like Demonglass even more.  The story picks up where Hex Hall ended.  Sophie Mercer, as wonderfully sarcastic as ever, is still at Hecate Hall.  She’s waiting on her dad to come and get her so that she can begin the process of removing her powers.  (Just to refresh your memory, Sophie is a demon with nearly uncontrollable powers.)  She’s scared of what she could do, and she wants the powers gone.  But things might not be quite so straightforward.

Sophie’s dad, the head of the Prodigium (magic folk) Council, takes Sophie and a couple of friends to London for the summer so that Sophie can reconsider the Removal.  She decides pretty quickly against removing her powers but only because she senses that things around her are somehow wrong.  Add to that a betrothal she knew nothing about, a couple of “new” demons, getting to know dear old dad, a ghost who’s seemingly attached to Sophie, and her feelings for Archer (who happens to be a member of the Eye, a group sworn to wipe out the Prodigium), and it’s going to be quite the eventful summer.

A war is brewing between the Prodigium and the Eye.  Sophie’s powers, and those of her father and the other demons (whose origins are unknown), could be used as weapons in this coming war.  Is Sophie willing to use her powers to fight for the Prodigium even if it means battling Archer, the boy who holds her heart?  Is there a way to avoid the war that is coming?  If Sophie can only find out who is creating demons, she knows that she can at least minimize the threat of war.  Her search for answers will take her to some unexpected places, and she may be unprepared for what she finds.  Can Sophie reconcile her duty to the Prodigium with her love for her sworn enemy, or will that choice be taken out of her hands?  Read Demonglass to find out!

I thorougly enjoyed Demonglass, and, like I said, I cannot wait for the third installment in this series.  Sophie’s voice is so refreshing and snarky.  Even with everything crumbling around her, she finds a way to break tension with a well-placed sarcastic comment.  I love that, and I think a lot of readers, especially teens, will be able to relate to Sophie’s fluency in sarcasm.

The third book in the Hex Hall series is currently (at least to my knowledge) untitled, and it is scheduled for a spring 2012 release.  I am happy to report, though, that there is a spin-off series in the works (Yay!) which will include cameos of our favorite characters from the Hex Hall series (at least those that survive…and maybe some that don’t).  Author Rachel Hawkins is also working on a new series that promises to include more snarkiness, kissing, and swordfights.  (Yay again!)  For more information on the Hex Hall series and what’s going on with the author, visit Rachel Hawkins’ blog at http://readingwritingrachel.blogspot.com/.

Published in: on April 19, 2011 at 11:23 am  Leave a Comment  
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Once a Witch

I picked up my latest read, Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough, primarily because it is a 2011-12 South Carolina Young Adult Book Award nominee.  I served on the Young Adult Book Award committee for three years, and, even though I work with much smaller mammals now, I still like to keep up with what teens in my state are reading, and I think they will really enjoy Once a Witch (especially girls who are fans of the Twilight saga and similar books).  Once a Witch is the first book in a tantalizing new series, and I think it takes readers to places that they never expected to go…

Tamsin Greene is an oddball in her family, and that is definitely saying something.  You see, Tamsin comes from a family of witches, all of whom have special Talents…except Tamsin.  She’s ordinary.  No Talent, no special powers, no hint of anything magical about her.  So, when a mysterious man comes into her family’s bookshop and mistakes Tamsin for her older, extremely gifted sister Rowena, Tamsin plays along and agrees to help him find a lost family heirloom.  If she can find what this man is searching for, maybe she won’t feel so much like an outsider in her own family.

What Tamsin didn’t count on, however, were the strange man’s intentions when he asked her to look for his lost heirloom.  It seems both he and the object of his desire are far more dangerous than Tamsin could have possibly known, and the search for the heirloom will take Tamsin and everyone close to her down a path fraught with peril at every turn.

What will happen when Tamsin locates this mysterious object?  What is the strange man really after?  Can Tamsin stop the storm that is brewing before it is too late?  And, most importantly, is she really as Talentless as everyone has always led her to believe?  Join Tamsin on her quest for answers when you read Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough.

I, for one, really related to the character of Tamsin.  No, I don’t come from a family of witches (that I know of), but I have felt like an outsider in my own family.  (Mom, if you’re reading this, try to chill.  You know exactly what I mean.)  I’m not loud, I don’t really like to talk all that much (and trust me when I say that is odd in my family), and I’d rather escape into the pages of a book than deal with people.  I’m just not like most of the other people in my family, so I found it very easy to sympathize with Tamsin, and I think many teen readers will as well.

I highly recommend this book to young adult readers.  (It may be a little much for the middle grades, though.)  Once a Witch is a wonderful first book in what promises to be a captivating series.  The sequel, Always a Witch, will be out on August 1, 2011.  I look forward to seeing what trouble Tamsin will get into this time.  For more information on this series, author Carolyn MacCullough, quizzes, and facts about witches, visit http://onceawitch.com/.

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