Review | No Place Like Oz by Danielle Paige

After returning to Kansas, Dorothy Gale has realized that the dreary fields of Kansas don’t compare to the vibrant landscapes of Oz. And although she’s happy to be reunited with Aunt Em, she misses her friends from the yellow brick road. But most of all, Dorothy misses the fame and the adventure. In Kansas she’s just another prairie girl, but in Oz she was a hero. So Dorothy is willing to do anything to get back, because there really is no place like Oz. But returning to the land she left comes at a price, and after Dorothy is through with it, Oz will never be the same.

Perfect for fans of Alex Flinn, Marissa Meyer, and Gregory Maguire, No Place Like Oz is a dark reimagining of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. Building off of its rich mythology, Danielle Paige creates an edgy, thrilling story for teens that chronicles the rise and fall of one of the literature’s most beloved characters. This digital original novella is a prequel that sets the stage for the forthcoming novel Dorothy Must Die.

3 cupcakes

“This wanting itself was a kind of magic—one that I’d had since I was just a little girl. Since even before I’d been to Oz. Even before I’d had a pair of magic shoes, silver or red. I had always wanted more.”

No Place Like Oz takes place shortly after the events in The Wizard of Oz. Dorothy’s previous adventures are briefly referenced and readers are reintroduced to several famous characters and landmarks, so one does not need to be an Oz connoisseur to appreciate this story. Those who are familiar with either the movie or Baum’s stories, though, will appreciate the subtle nods to each that are placed throughout the story (like creating an explanation for why Dorothy’s silver shoes in the book were replaced with the red shoes that she’s more commonly associated with).

This glimpse inside Dorothy’s head made me a lot more sympathetic to her character than I had thought possible. I understood why she desperately wanted to get back to Oz – after all, going from all that glitter and recognition to your normal, monotonous routine would be hard – so I was able to forgive her selfishness and unkind thoughts towards her Auntie Em and Uncle Henry… at first, anyways. She’s power-hungry and wants more for herself (both in terms of material items and future prospects), and as the story progresses, these help push her further over the edge in her transformation to powerful “villain.”

Overall, No Place Like Oz was a rather addictive read. I enjoyed seeing how the twisted version of Dorothy that we were presented with in Dorothy Must Die came about, and am interested to see how this information will colour my read of The Wicked Will Rise.

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Review | The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas

Celaena Sardothien is Adarlan’s most feared assassin. As part of the Assassin’s Guild, her allegiance is to her master, Arobynn Hamel, yet Celaena listens to no one and trusts only her fellow killer-for-hire, Sam. In these action-packed novellas – together in one edition for the first time – Celaena embarks on five daring missions. They take her from remote islands to hostile deserts, where she fights to liberate slaves and seeks to avenge the tyrannous. But she is acting against Arobynn’s orders and could suffer an unimaginable punishment for such treachery. Will Celaena ever be truly free? Explore the dark underworld of this kick-ass heroine to find out.

5 cupcakes

“She was fire, she was darkness, she was dust and blood and shadow.”

The Assassin’s Blade is easily my favourite book in the Throne of Glass series. I had initially read the set of e-novellas before starting the series, which I definitely recommend doing; they lend so much depth to Celaena’s character. They’re just as powerful when you know the continuation of Celaena’s story in Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight, though, as you can see how the events in this collection shape her actions and the person that she is today.

Over the course of these novellas, which are set before the events in Throne of Glass, Celaena undergoes a tremendous amount of growth. It was thoroughly enjoyable watching her transformation from an arrogant assassin who blindly follows orders to someone who makes decisions based on her moral centre, placing her compassion for others fully on display. My favourite part, though, was watching her develop tentative relationships, especially her hate-to-love relationship with Sam Cortland, a rival assassin. Even though I knew it was going to completely crush my heart when I got to The Assassin and the Empire.

The Assassin’s Blade also gives readers a better feel for the world that Celaena inhabits. While much of Throne of Glass was spent in the castle, The Assassin’s Blade takes readers all across the continent: from Skull’s Bay to the Red Desert, so many elements of this world were open for exploration.

Overall, The Assassin’s Blade is a wonderfully written introduction to the world that Sarah J. Maas has created, and I highly, highly recommend giving it a read.

Book Review: The Transfer by Veronica Roth

More Four! Fans of the Divergent series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Veronica Roth will be thrilled by “The Transfer,” the first of four new short stories told from Four’s perspective. Each brief story explores the world of the Divergent series through the eyes of the mysterious but charismatic Tobias Eaton, revealing previously unknown facets of his personality, backstory, and relationships.

My Rating:  4 cupcakes

I wasn’t a fan of Free Four Tobias Tells the Story, since it was just a retelling of one scene and didn’t provide any additional, important information. As a result, I was very wary about reading The Transfer. While this also didn’t provide too much new information, it was the perfect reminder of why I like Four so much – and just how much he’s changed from the weak, scared Abegnation member that he once was. I really enjoyed this glimpse into Tobias’ life, and I cannot wait to see what the rest of the e-novellas show us next.

Book Review: The Night After I Lost You by Sarah Rees Brennan

 

Set the night after the end of Unspoken, before all the action of Untold. You have to keep moving in a Gothic mystery. But sometimes you can take a night to be sad.

 

 

My Rating:  3.5 cupcakes

The Night After I Lost You is an excellent way to bridge the gap between Unspoken and Untold although it does nothing to alleviate the heartbreaking ending of the former – for a nine page story, this was surprisingly sad!

Through Brennan’s excellent descriptions, we are able to see (and feel) exactly how the events of Untold have affected each character. Instead of being inside Kami’s head like we were in Untold, we’re given the opportunity to see things from Ash’s perspective. It gives great insight into his character and past, showing how desperately he wants to belong and feel wanted. While it doesn’t quite excuse how he behaved in Unspoken, it definitely paints him as more of a sympathetic character.

Overall, The Night Before I Lost You was a really great addition to the series. I’m looking forward to reading Untold, even if it is probably going to break my heart further.