REVIEW: The End of Oz (Dorothy Must Die #4) by Danielle Paige

The End of Oz by Danielle Paige
Series: Dorothy Must Die #4
Published by HarperCollins on 14th March 2017
Pages: 304
Source: *Received from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review*

Ding dong—Dorothy is dead.

I watched as the Emerald Palace crumbled to the ground, burying Dorothy, the Girl Who Rode the Cyclone, under the rubble. And now that the rightful ruler, Ozma, has been restored to the throne…

Oz is finally free.

My name is Amy Gumm. You might remember me as the othergirl from Kansas. When a tornado whisked me away to the magical land of Oz, I was given a mission: Dorothy must die.

But it turns out girls from Kansas are harder to kill than we look.

Now the Road of Yellow Brick is leading me away from Oz to the dark world of Ev, where I have a new, powerful enemy to deal with: the Nome King. And—surprise—he has a gingham-clad bride.

With my magical shoes and a shrinking group of allies, I have one final chance to fulfill my mission, and save not only what’s left of Oz, but Kansas, too. As the line between Good and Wicked blurs even further, I have to find a way to get rid of Dorothy once and for all—without turning into a monster myself.

Dorothy once said there’s no place like home. Can I stop her from destroying mine?
Magical, spine-tingling and transporting, The End of Oz is a thrilling and enlightening ending to the Dorothy Must Die series. How amazing are the covers for this series! And I must briefly mention that it is worth getting the hardcovers just to see the actual hardback underneath the dust jacket!

Throughout this series, Amy has been an amazing character to watch develop into the strong and powerful woman she becomes, without losing herself in the midst of it. She becomes stronger, and is a powerful protagonist, making the reader truly appreciate what they have as Amy finds a way to learn to forgive those around her as she grows. Paige did a brilliant job in ensuring the reader understood Amy’s morals and what Amy’s thought process was, as many a times reading novels like this they are soon lost amongst the action of what is normal in the world they have entered. Amy was kind, compassionate and forgiving, everything one could want in a protagonist. Not only was she these things, but she did not whine nor moan, Amy had her own voice and stood her ground.

Not only did Paige create a brilliant protagonist, she created memorable and intriguing secondary characters, answering the reader’s questions flawlessly throughout about the characters and their pasts, allowing them to grow and develop throughout the series too. Their voices and backstories were brilliant and intriguing to read about and certainly makes me want to read the large variety of novellas published even more. Furthermore, the romance in this final novel did take a bit of a backseat which was appreciated so one could focus on the plot, but it was still certainly there and it was executed beautifully.

What I loved most about this last novel is that we got to read half the novel from Dorothy’s perspective, and it truly made the novel, and series. Dorothy is such a vile and disturbing character, yet one that you cannot help but be intrigued by and want to read about. Not only that, but the reader gains more of an understanding of what actually happened to Dorothy once she went home and then came back to Oz again. And this was certainly enlightening to read about and made me want more, so I am really, really hoping at least one of the novellas is about Dorothy’s past so one can read it in more depth. But ultimately, Paige made Dorothy’s voice incredibly distinct from that of Amy’s and it was very much appreciated as far too many times in multi-perspective novels do the voices just merge into one and sound like the exact same character throughout.

The plot of this finale was absolutely brilliant. It was fast paced, action-packed but also tied everything off perfectly. The novel takes place over only a couple of days, but being able to switch between both Amy and Dorothy’s points of view really painted a brilliant picture of the plot, whilst helping one to really understand the plot and what was actually happening in this world. Throughout reading this series, each novel has amazed me with its imagery and descriptive language. Paige’s vivid imagery will have you gasping whilst also recoiling in horror and hiding under your bed! She has created an incredibly powerful and vivid world that is equally both beautiful and enchanting, and terrifying and violent.

It was the ending, I really did not know how Paige was going to end this series, as I was really hoping she would help Amy’s character retain her morals. I was pleasantly surprised and was very satisfied with the ending. All my questions were answered and that, as a reader, is everything I asked for. I was certainly worried about how this series would be ended, but it certainly surpassed one’s expectations, and I cannot wait to reread this series again in the near future; I am also excited to see what Paige writes next!


REVIEW: Don't Even Think About It (Don't Even Think About It #1) by Sarah Mlynowski

Don't Even Think About It by Sarah Mlynowski 
Series: Don't Even Think About It #1
Published by Orchard Books on 1st May 2014
Pages: 299

This is the story of how we became freaks. It's how a group of I's became a we.

When Class 10B got their flu shots, they expected some side effects. Maybe a sore arm. Maybe a headache. They definitely didn't expect to get telepathy. But suddenly they could hear what everyone was thinking. Their friends. Their teachers. Their parents. Now they all know that Tess has a crush on her best friend, Teddy. That Mackenzie cheated on Cooper. That Nurse Carmichael used to be a stripper. Some of them will thrive. Some of them will break. None of them will ever be the same. 

A smart and funny story about friendship, first love and surviving high school from the bestselling author of Ten Things We Shouldn't Have Done.
Comical, light and an entertaining read, Don’t Even Think About It was a fun and quick read that will have you laughing and cringing a little to yourself throughout. I love this cover, and the colour is a beautiful pink!

Twenty-two out of the twenty-four students in 10B have their flu jabs, resulting in twenty-two of them being able to hear the thoughts of everyone around them. Now nothing is secret, and with twenty-two teenagers, who knows what is going to happen.

Although this novel is described to be not suitable for younger readers, I feel like this has possibly been marketed to the wrong age range; I understand this is probably because of the language and themes throughout. The characters in this novel are between the ages of fourteen to sixteen, and it was very evident that their characters were towards the younger side of this age range, although Mlynowski tried to make them appear older, sadly it just did not work and their age was evident.

As this novel involved twenty-two teens who could mind-read, I was a little concerned to begin with when it was insinuated that it would be from all their points of view and was intrigued how this would be done. Mlynowski did this brilliantly, throughout the perspectives would change, you had about ten of them whom you learnt the most about and it was surprisingly easy to keep track of them, mainly because they all had distinct personalities and voices. Their ages were evident, yet the actions of these teenagers I was a bit surprised by, which is where Mlynowski tried to make them appear older. I understand that this is not for younger readers due to a certain few themes plus swearing, but otherwise this should have been for a younger audience.

The plot was good. It was light, fluffy and entertaining. It was by no means my favourite book or one I would read again, but it was certainly unique and fast-paced, similarly I was intrigued as to where this novel’s plot was going. This novel tackled some important issues, simultaneously morals due to the fact that these teens can hear everyone’s thoughts, there is the contemplation on one’s privacy and morals, paired with the issues that are tackled in this such as cheating and divorce.

I would certainly recommend this for a slightly younger audience than myself, but due to the themes and swearing it is certainly more appropriate for the older teen.


REVIEW: Fyre (Chronicles of Warshard #0.5) by Katherine Bogle

Fyre by Katherine Bogle
Series: Chronicles of Warshard #0.5
Published by Patchwork Press on 15th February 2017
Pages: 122
Source: *Received from the Publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

Join Haven and her siblings on four unique adventures in a time when war ravaged the six kingdoms… 

HAVEN has always hated royal gatherings, and jumps at the chance to sneak away for a race through town on horseback. But when the young princess is injured, her ancestry is brought into question.

Much is expected of the heir to the Rythern throne, but when LUCIAN is forced to leave the warfront by his father, his reluctant agreement comes at a price.

The battle for Helms Keep has disastrous consequences for MARCEL. Soon he finds himself fighting both enemy forces and his own memories.

ASTRID is sent to the family summer home in the Cinder Mountains for her own safety. Only she doesn’t expect the knee-high snow and frigid temperatures. With only her guards to protect her, Astrid must dig deeper than she ever thought herself capable of in order to survive.
This was such a shame. I was so excited to read this, as I really enjoyed reading Haven's story in the first novel Haven, and was disappointed with the companion novel Savages, so I could not wait to go back into Haven's world as I was really intrigued knowing this was about her family. However, I just got so disinterested whilst reading it, and it really is such a shame.

I believe the main issue I had with this novel is the characters. The characters did not feel like they were introduced well, and so therefore it was really difficult to connect and understand them, all but Haven, but that is only because her character was so well explored in the first novel. This therefore caused the prequel to drag, and as the reader is was very difficult to feel immersed in the novel.

The plot also went very slowly. It felt very similar to previous plots and events that occurred throughout the series, and so therefore it lost its 'wow' factor, and were no longer the shocking or eventful scenes that they should have been; I felt like I just kept having deja-vu. I got half-way through, 50%, and I could no longer continue as I was just rather bored. And it feels such a shame to say, as I had such high hopes. I just could no longer continue, the plot felt the same as previously, and it no longer felt unique.

Sadly, I had to stop at 50%, and it feels like such a shame as I was so looking forward to reading Haven's families story.


REVIEW: Savages (Chronicles of Warshard #2) by Katherine Bogle

Savages by Katherine Bogle
Series: Chronicles of Warshard #2
Published by Patchwork Press on 11th April 2017
Pages: 300
Source: *Received from Publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

Daughter of Chief Ruin, Breen is one of the most fearsome warriors in the Southern Delica Tribe, but nothing can stop the Emperor from reaping the Savage Lands for soldiers. 

When her village is attacked, Breen is taken from her home and her family to the Seaburn Academy, where southern savages are broken and chained into a life of service to the Empire. Through the beatings and torture, Drakkone, one of the few Seaburn-born soldiers, brings solace to her days and gives her hope for the future.

Once freed of the Academy dungeons, Breen is sentenced to daily training between her plots for escape. But one night of unexpected passion turns into a problem bigger than either of them could have imagined. 

Breen and Drakkone must risk capture and flee the city or death might be a blessing compared to eternal imprisonment.
Going into this sequel, I did not realise until two thirds of the way through that this happened before the first novel, and this really threw me off. I was really enjoying this, but I started to get rather bored half-way through, and with a huge time jump added to the mix, the flow of the novel just seemed to disappear, and so the timescale within this novel was just lost as weeks, months and even years kept being skipped throughout.

I do not want to give too much of a summary of this as it will spoil the first book. This is about different characters to the first novel, but I want to strongly emphasise that this novel is set before the first novel, and in all honesty, I wish I had read this one first, and then the first book. It is about Breen whom is captured by the Seaburn army, and her journey and struggle as they try to turn her into another of their soldiers.

Our main protagonist Breen was brilliant. Breen was strong, fierce and protective, whilst being intelligent and inspiring as a teacher. Breen trained hard and was great however, I really struggled to connect with her. In full, Breen had all the qualities a reader wants to witness, but instead of progressing and growing as a character, Breen did the opposite, and became too reliant on those around her, no longer the strong, independent woman we first met. It was so disappointing. And although she had all these qualities, I found it really hard to connect with her.

Then there are the relationships formed in this novel. Everything felt far too convenient and 'insta'. There was a bad case of insta-love between Breen and Drakkone, alongside insta-friendships! In this novel it felt like there was no time for anything, so it was just all made to happen in the hope it seemed natural. Whilst the huge jumps in time throughout the novel made it very hard to witness the forming, and further the progression, of these friendships

As I have mentioned numerously throughout this review, the pace of this novel felt rather off. It went way too fast, so much so that I keep getting disorientated in how much time had passed. I think having read the first book did help in terms of the world-building as I did have a better understanding going into this of what was going on in this world. But everything just felt far too convenient, as mentioned earlier.

Like I said in the beginning of this review, only until I had read two thirds did I realise that this book is actually set before the first book, and it really threw me off. Mainly because I then had to go back to the first novel in order to reconnect with who these characters had become or where they had been originally, but that also left me feeling disappointed, because I knew exactly where this plot was going to lead and it would no longer be the surprising, dramatic and emotional ending it was suppose to be; as the reader, I was just waiting for what I knew was going to happen, and it just caused me to skip over sections in order to be done because I already knew what was happening, and so it completely left me wondering why I was bothering to read on knowing what was going to happen anyway. Although one thing one cannot dispute, is that Bogle is brilliant at writing action scenes, mainly the sword fighting scenes, as I was constantly able to envisage everything as they really put me on the edge of my seat.

Therefore I feel disappointed with this companion novel, and would much rather have read this first, and then read Haven.


REVIEW: The Devil You Know by Trish Doller

The Devil You Know by Trish Doller
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on 2nd June 2015
Pages: 246

Eighteen-year-old Arcadia wants adventure. Living in a tiny Florida town with her dad and four-year-old brother, Cadie spends most of her time working, going to school, and taking care of her family. So when she meets two handsome cousins at a campfire party, she finally has a chance for fun. They invite her and friend to join them on a road trip, and it's just the risk she's been craving-the opportunity to escape. But what starts out as a fun, sexy journey quickly becomes dangerous when she discovers that one of them is not at all who he claims to be. One of them has deadly intentions. 

A road trip fling turns terrifying in this contemporary story that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.
Thriller and mystery novels are two of my most favourite genres, I like to be made to think and be given a challenge by the author and so admittedly, having read a lot of thrillers and mysteries, I am hard to please; this is just because I want the novel to give me something that I didn't expect, yet for it also to make sense. This novel had so much potential, but I had some really big issues with it. It was predictable and questionable, and I am bitterly disappointed. The one thing I do like about this book though is the cover, it is so intriguing and mysterious!

When Cadie meets two cousins, she thinks she has finally found her time to have some fun, where she can be relieved of the pressures from her family and job. When they begin their road-trip all is like she has dreamed, however soon things start to not add up and their innocent road trip soon becomes a dangerous game. Soon Cadie realises one is not whom he claims to be...

I suppose one will start with the first aspect that frustrated me, and that was the plot's believability. Obviously when I first read the summary I knew it was about a girl who goes travelling with two strangers, but usually authors integrate these strangers rather well, making them not seem like strangers. This was sadly not the case with this novel. I don't know about you, but I would never just go off with two random guys across the country. You don't know who they are, or anything about them. And the thing that was uncomfortable when reading this was that out main character Arcadia didn't even really question whether this was actually a good idea or not, she just did it. And as a character, I felt this novel could have really made her shine, and really do something good with her character, but instead she came across very naive and just did whatever she was told to do; she didn't seem to think for herself.

The plot was predictable. From the get-go I had already worked out which of the two it was. But the thing that really frustrated me was that, when (highlight for spoiler: Lindsey left, let alone when they were told she was missing,) none of them worried or thought to themselves they needed to go back, they just carried on, and paid only one line of thought. Their total disregard for her really shocked me and left a sour taste in my mouth. Everything in this novel was just thrown together far too quickly; the relationships, conclusions, plans. None of it felt realistic or engaging. At times the plot goes from one extreme to the other, it was too fast-paced then too slow-paced; it just did not flow together and continuously felt disjointed. And as for the  plot again, it was predictable and questionable. The characters were one-dimensional, they did not feel like they were really explored and just felt like they were there just in order to write the novel, not to play their roles.

(Highlight between here: Additionally, the conclusion of this novel in terms of Matt's motivation, was all because of a car. I mean, really?! A car?! That was the best motivation behind the guy's murders, a car?! That was the final straw for me, I had had enough at that point and it really topped it off for me. and here for the spoiler 😊)

Overall The Devil You Know was incredibly disappointing, and this is a good case of don't judge a book by its cover.


REVIEW: Under Different Stars (Kricket #1) by Amy A. Bartol

Under Different Stars by Amy A. Bartol
Series: Kricket #1
Published by 47North on 9th December 2014
Pages: 296

Kricket Hollowell never wished upon stars. She was too busy hiding in plain sight, eluding Chicago’s foster care system. As her eighteenth birthday approaches, she now eagerly anticipates the day she’ll stop running and finally find her place in the world.

That day comes when she meets a young Etharian soldier named Trey Allairis, who has been charged with coming to Earth to find Kricket and transport her to her true home. As danger draws close, he must protect her until she can wield the powers she cannot use on Earth…and he soon realizes that counting a galaxy of stars would be easier than losing this extraordinary girl.

Kyon Ensin knows the powerful depths of Kricket’s gifts—gifts he’ll control when he takes her for his tribe and leads the forces that will claim Ethar and destroy his enemies, starting with Trey Allairis. Now, Kricket faces the most difficult choice of her life: whether to wage a battle for survival, or a fight for love.
This was addictive. And exactly the sort of novel I needed to get me out of my long reading slump. I love this cover! It is just beautiful! And you should see the whole series cover's below, just, wow. Although, if I had not had read the synopsis, I would have been expecting a different genre and storyline to what it was.

 

Kricket has been in hiding from Chicago's foster care system for a while, desperately waiting for her eighteenth birthday when she will finally be free and can stop running away. But Kricket is soon captured by Etharian soldiers, and taken from Earth to her real home; where Kricket finds out things about herself and her biological family that she never knew.

I found the whole relationship in this novel uncomfortable. I feel like Bartol tried to make it as though Kricket had become friends with her captors, but it just did not feel right. The relationship between Kricket and Trey did not feel natural, it happened too fast and under strained circumstances. However, I loved Kricket as a character. She was strong, independent, and stood up for herself. She had a bit of sarcasm and sass, but she spoke truth. Kricket said what she needed to say, and did not rely on those around her; she fought for her voice to be heard. It was just the relationship that I found rather uncomfortable.

I really liked the secondary characters. One of my favourite things when reading is when authors really explore their secondary characters. Jax and Wayra were brilliant and hilarious, they brought humour and fun to the novel, and truly I do not feel it would have been the same without them.

The world Bartol created was unique and intriguing. The plot was so addictive and fast-paced, it was really refreshing and intriguing to read. The imagination that had gone into this was brilliant, I was able to truly visualise everything, I was also rather surprised as some of the scenes were quite violent, but it did added to the suspense of the novel. The only thing I did struggle with was the different words and names. Sometimes there were far too many introduced at once, and so it was very difficult to remember who was who. Similarly with places, objects and animals, I feel like the reader needed a key at the start of the book so one could go back and forth, as it really did become rather confusing at times.

Overall, Under Different Stars was fast-paced and addictive; it is highly likely I will try the sequel Sea of Stars.



REVIEW: Haven (Chronicles of Warshard #1) by Katherine Bogle

Haven by Katherine Bogle
Series: Chronicles of Warshard #1
Published by Patchwork Press on 10th March 2017
Pages: 208
Source: *Received from Patchwork Press through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

Princess Haven was never meant to be Queen. 

Her immortality has saved her time and time again, but when the last of her royal family dies at her feet, she is next in line to rule a nation on the brink of war. With no formal training on how to be Queen, Haven must rise to the occasion with the help of her best friends, and personal guard, or risk losing everyone she has ever loved. 

With war to the west, and no escape to the east, the evil tyrant Kadia sets her sights on the six kingdoms. Haven's neighbors are quick to fall under the swords of Kadia's shadow soldiers, leaving a sea of bodies and a clear path to Haven's only home. Haven must make a choice; take her people and flee to the foreign Republic across the sea or lead a last stand against a powerful dictator.
Wow. Haven really was not what I was expecting. It was raw, dark and emotional; and I really enjoyed it. This is definitely a case of don't judge a book by its cover, I was expecting this novel to be a lot lighter than it actually was.

Princess Haven has now been made Queen, it was unexpected, but after Kadia murders her whole family, the immortal Princess Haven is left to protect her people and kingdom. But as Kadia moves ever closer, Haven must begin training to protect her people and the other kingdoms, before she is the only one left with Kadia.

Our main protagonist Haven is a brilliantly likeable protagonist; Haven was strong and powerful, yet kind and compassionate. What Haven had to go through was shocking and awful, but she uses those experiences to help others and drive her to save them. Haven also used her immortality to help save and spare the lives of her people, she showed bravery and strength, and is a character that will be admired by the reader. Our antagonist, Kadia, made a big impact. Usually with villains, you remember them when reading, but afterwards you forget them. But I am still thinking about Kadia now. She was such a disturbing and vile character, who subjected people to horrendous things, including when she wanted to test the lengths of Haven's immortality. It was so disturbing and dark, yet you wanted to carry on reading to ensure you saw Haven save her people. These characters really made the novel come alive, helping the reader to become immersed in the world.

The plot of Haven truly shocked me. It was very dark and disturbing at times, and one felt like the visualisation really brought this novel to life, you couldn't help but imagine the scenes occurring, many of which made you go all cold. There is certainly a very serious side to this novel, but there is a lot of action including sword fighting and magical beasts. There was also a great focus on female empowerment, which will truly appeal to the reader, and it was explored brilliantly, especially because of the environment they were in. The plot was fast-paced and engaging, and one cannot wait to see how the plot progresses in the sequel!

Overall, Haven was a pleasant surprise, and I cannot wait to read the sequel Savages and the prequel Fyre.