Author: Danielle Paige

Reading roundup – March 30th 2016

yellowbrickwar

Hello and welcome to another reading roundup.  Again, it’s been a month where I’ve really struggled to focus on reading and blogging.  I really should be more ruthless about putting books into my Did Not Finish pile.  I spent too much of the month plodding through books which really weren’t doing anything for me.

Reading roundup – March 30th 2016Yellow Brick War by Danielle Paige
Series: Dorothy Must Die #3
Also in this series: Dorothy Must Die
Format: eBook
Pages: 288 pages
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
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Evelynne's rating: three-stars

With regards to Yellow Brick War by Danielle Paige, I’ll be perfectly honest and say that my opinion and rating is heavily influenced by my – mistaken – impression that this was the final book in the Dorothy Must Die series.  This is a series involving an updating and reimagining of the world of L Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz. I had been expecting, and looking forward to, resolution to the plot points introduced in Dorothy Must Die and The Wicked Will Rise.  So coming towards the end of the book when I realised there were no resolutions coming, I felt annoyed and frustrated.  My own fault, I freely admit it.  Had I known there was one more book to come, I could have better appreciated the continued excellent worldbuilding and character development in Yellow Brick War.  I will certainly read the conclusion when it comes out.  I look forward to reading the conclusion of Amy’s story.

I gave Yellow Brick War three stars out of five.

Reading roundup – March 30th 2016A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro
Series: Charlotte Holmes #1
Format: eBook
Pages: 336 pages
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery
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Evelynne's rating: two-stars

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro is one I should probably have consigned to the Did Not Finish pile much sooner than I did.  The concept sounded fascinating.  In Cavallaro’s world Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson were real and their modern day teen descendants Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson meet up at an exclusive boarding school to solve mysteries.  It’s clear that a significant effort was made to reflect the personalities of Holmes and Watson in a modern day setting and to some extent it succeeded.  What completely turned me off this book is that the author introduced sexual tension between Holmes and Watson.  With that partnership it is a meeting of minds, not bodies and I personally lost all interest in the story after that.  That is a personal opinion and your mileage may vary.

A Study in Charlotte rated barely two stars out of five on my scale.

Reading roundup – March 30th 2016The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Raven Cycle #1
Format: eBook
Pages: 468 pages
Genres: Young Adult, Supernatural
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Evelynne's rating: four-stars

This was my second attempt to read Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Boys.  The first time I started, I just couldn’t get into it at all.  This second attempt was much more successful.  It’s clear that this is setting up a series.  The book opens with a real bang – Blue is fated to meet and/or kill her one true love within the next year.  I definitely want to read how that plays out.  There were multiple points introduced that I expect will pay off in later books – I would say Stiefvater is an architect rather than a gardener.  I found the characters interesting even if not all of them are immediately likeable – or intended to be so.  The type of supernatural events in this book are ones that to me, personally, are very creepy.  I will have to take a break and read a cutesy contemporary to clear my mind before I start The Dream Thieves!

I gave The Raven Boys four stars out of five.

Reading roundup – March 30th 2016Fire Touched by Patricia Briggs
Series: Mercy Thompson #9
Format: eBook
Pages: 350 pages
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
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Evelynne's rating: three-half-stars

Fire Touched is the ninth book in Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series.  I must admit I wasn’t overly excited about reading it.  I like Mercy and the rest of her allies; I just feel after nine books her story has pretty much come to an end.  I’ve felt that way for the last couple of books.  It’s like a long established, high quality TV procedural.  You pretty much know what you are going to get going into it, but you still enjoy it.  I keep saying I’m not going to read any more, yet I still do and still enjoy them.

I gave Fire Touched three and a half stars out of five.

In other news, I’m beginning to get excited about Book Expo of America, BEA, in Chicago in May.  This will be my first time there, so if any of you old hats could give me some tips that would be very much appreciated.

Upcoming releases in April

There are two books coming out in April about which I’m rather excited.  

The first of these is Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire.  This is a young adult fantasy and I was drawn to it by the concept; what happens to young people like Alice or Dorothy when they return home from Wonderland or Oz?  How do they adapt?  Every Heart a Doorway is released on April 5th and I’ve preordered it in Kindle format.

The second is Eligible, the next in the Austen Project series of modern retellings of Jane Austen classics.  Eligible is the adaptation of Pride and Prejudice and is written by Curtis Sittenfeld.  There is a sneak peek of the audiobook available on SoundCloud, which sounds fantastic.  I have preordered the book in audiobook format based on this snippet.  That’s not to say I don’t have my concerns.  The Austen project adaptations have ranged from the bland and uninspired (Emma, Sense and Sensibility) to the very, very good (Northanger Abbey).  Pride and Prejudice is probably the best known – and most adapted – of Austen’s works and Eligible has a lot of work ahead of it to compare to the superb Lizzie Bennet Diaries YouTube series. I am intrigued that Sittenfeld has moved the story to Cincinnati and aged up our protagonists to nearly 40, giving a more modern pressure point for Lizzie and Jane to look for a husband.  It could well work, and from the snippet I am cautiously optimistic.  Eligible is released on April 26th.

Have a good week and will review more books soon. 

three-stars

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige – Review

dorothy must die
Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige – ReviewDorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige
Series: Dorothy Must Die #1
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Devon Sorvari
Length: 14 hrs and 12 mins
Genres: Classics, Contemporary Fantasy
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Evelynne's rating: four-stars

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige was one of my most anticipated reads of the season.  I read and loved the prequel – No Place Like Oz –  and indeed my desire to read Dorothy Must Die sent me into a reading slump for a while as nothing else hit the spot.  Having read it, I can say that, while there was a lot to enjoy about Dorothy Must Die it didn’t quite live up to my anticipation.

What I liked

The protagonist.  I really liked our protagonist, Amy Gumm, and enjoyed following her journey. She is a strong, kick-ass heroine, yet is dealing with her own internal demons and has her own buttons that can be pressed.  Coming from Kansas as she does, she is the reader’s inroad to Dorothy’s Oz.  Many parallels are drawn between Amy and Dorothy; both are originally from Kansas, both were feeling trapped in their mundane lives with little escape from their farm/small town before their arrival in Oz.  Both are sensitive to the magic that is all around in Oz.

The worldbuilding.  While it’s fair to say that L. Frank Baum did a lot of the heavy lifting in his creation of the world of Oz, Paige has added her own twist to the world.   Baum’s Oz is clearly identifiable in the book, but there is a much darker twist to it with Dorothy’s influence.  It’s based on the children’s novels rather than the 1939 Judy Garland film in that there are characters mentioned who are in the books not in the movie, and also that the original slippers are silver not red.  I would suggest you read No Place Like Oz first before coming to Dorothy Must Die to get an idea of the background.

Good vs Wicked and Trust.  The question of trust and whom to trust and whom not to trust comes up too many times for it not to be a major theme in the series.  Amy is working for the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked and is repeatedly advised by the operatives not to trust anyone.  It’s clear that they don’t trust Amy either, keeping her in the dark until the last possible moment.  It’s a common trope in good vs evil fantasy that the good guys always win because they trust their colleagues to have their backs and are willing to sacrifice themselves for the greater good whereas the bad guys are too busy looking out for themselves to implement any cohesive plans or trust their colleagues to work with them.  Although the so-called wicked have come together in Dorothy Must Die they don’t have that trust that good guys have.  It’s an interesting twist and I look forward to seeing how it plays out in subsequent books.

Writing style.  I did enjoy Paige’s writing style.  It came across as fresh and immediate and really brought me into the story.

What I didn’t like

Pacing.  Here we come to the main problem I had with Dorothy Must Die; the pacing was off.  For a significant chunk of the first half of the book Amy is training with the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked yet, due to trust issues mentioned above, has not been given a goal to work towards except the vague Dorothy Must Die.  This section drags on far too long and really slows the book down.  I would encourage you to work past this section though – it improves a lot once Amy is working on a more specific goal.

Misleading marketing.  HarperCollins’ blurb for Dorothy Must Die contains the following:

“My name is Amy Gumm—and I’m the other girl from Kansas.I’ve been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked.I’ve been trained to fight.And I have a mission: Remove the Tin Woodman’s heart.Steal the Scarecrow’s brain.Take the Lion’s courage.Then and only then—Dorothy must die!”

If that is the blurb you’re using to hook readers into the book, it might be a good idea to have your protagonist actually work towards that goal in that book and not have it be a supposed finale twist that Dorothy can’t die until the Tin Woodman, Scarecrow and Lion have been neutralised.  Clearly, it’s a blurb for the series as a whole not just Dorothy Must Die.  When reading the book please bear this in mind so that you are not frustrated at the end.

The audio narration.  In general I really liked Devon Sorvari’s narration.  She really brought out Amy’s strength of character and kick-ass attitude.  However there were long pauses left at the end of each paragraph – long enough to be very noticeable and very irritating.  I kept wondering if I’d reached the end of a chapter.  Of course, it may not bother you at all.  Here’s a sample.

In general though I really enjoyed Dorothy Must Die and will definitely continue with the rest of the series.  Amy is a really great character and I love the world of Oz.  I look forward to seeing more.

I gave Dorothy Must Die four stars out of five.

 buy from Amazon, Kobo, iTunes, Audible, eBooks.com

four-stars

Reading roundup – 21st March 2014

Reading roundup – 21st March 2014No Place Like Oz by Danielle Paige
Series: Dorothy Must Die #0.5
Also in this series: Dorothy Must Die
Format: eBook
Pages: 132 pages
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy, Young Adult
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Evelynne's rating: five-stars

One of the upcoming books that has been on my radar is Danielle Paige’s debut novel Dorothy Must Die.  This is set in the world of L Frank Baum’s Oz in which a modern day Kansas teen is taken to Oz and tasked with bringing down the current despotic tyrant, our old friend Dorothy Gale.  The concept sounded intriguing and I have heard some excited buzz around this.

So you can imagine I was excited when I discovered that there is a prequel out called No Place Like Oz which tells the story of how plucky Kansas girl Dorothy became a tyrant.  At 132 pages it’s a pretty decent length for a novella.  The electronic copy also includes a snippet from Dorothy Must Die.

I loved No Place Like Oz and it’s really whetted my appetite for Dorothy Must Die.  It is based on the L Frank Baum stories rather than the 1939 Judy Garland movie – it mentions the Silver Slippers rather than the movie’s ruby ones (apparently it was felt red made a stronger visual punch than silver) and references characters such as the China Girl and Saw-horse who only appear in the books.  Some reviewers have been put off by the inconsistency of the dates; the Oz books were published in the early 1900s and Paige’s series is basing itself on them, yet she has the main character talk about things that would have been unknown in that period.  Personally, I was so sucked up into the story I neither noticed nor cared.  

For me, I found it important that Dorothy’s journey to despotism was a mixture of both character – Dorothy is portrayed as struggling to adapt to being a normal Kansas farmgirl again after having been the heroine of Oz – and magic.  I could easily see how Dorothy the heroine could turn despotic given this perfect storm – and I can understand why she has to die.

The snippet we get from Dorothy Must Die also makes me desperate to read more.  There are definite parallels drawn between our modern day Amy Gumm and Dorothy Gale.  Suspended from school, responsible for her addict single mum, no family or financial support, Amy has as much chance of escaping her Kansas backwater as Dorothy had of escaping her farm.  It’s clear that Amy too has a lot of strength of character.  I can’t wait to read her story in Dorothy Must Die.

Added to my library this week:

William Shakespeare’s The Empire Striketh Back.  This is the sequel to Ian Doescher’s brilliant William Shakespeare’s Star Wars in which he retells Lucas Star Wars saga in the style (iambic pentameter!) of William Shakespeare.  I picked this up in both Kindle and Audible format.  I would seriously recommend picking up the audiobook rather than the book.  The fantastic cast really makes it come alive.  Enjoy.

 

five-stars
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