Tea & Book Chat: Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon

I picked up a signed copy of Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon at BEA and I’ve heard other bloggers raving about it since then.  I realized that it’s release date is rapidly approaching (September 1st to be exact) and I decided to spend some time reading it this week for the Bout of Books readathon.  Little did I know just how incredible Madeline’s story would be.  I finished reading the book within 3.5 hours because I just could not get enough.  Madeline is basically a bubble girl who’s spent her entire life inside and isolated from everyone, save her mom (who’s a doctor) and her nurse Carla, for fear of her weak immune system not being able to handle exposure to any foreign pathogens.  But everything changes for Madeline when a new family moves into the house next door.  This might sound cliched but I swear, the way it’s told is just beautiful.  There’s so much raw emotion and the exhilarating excitement of experiencing things for the first time.

Madeline is a friendly and optimistic teenage girl despite her seemingly hopeless condition.  Throughout the course of the novel I really admired her strength in relation to the comprehension of her situation, her love for her mother and her will to live.  Madeline has always been mostly content with her life at home playing phonetic Scrabble, Pictionary, and having movie nights with her mother but she begins to question how she’s spending the time she has when she starts IM-ing with Olly, the mysterious and handsome new boy next door who always wears all black.  Olly and his family struggle with an abusive father and mother that’s too scared to leave him and Madeline often trys to cheer Olly up after hearing his dad yelling from her window.  Madeline keeps her relationship with Olly a secret from her mother and it causes a rift to form between them.  Madeline becomes distant, falls deeply in love and starts taking risks that could mean everything.  I love them so much and ship them so hard<3  I also adore Madeline’s nurse Carla who is sort of like a second mom.  She always has Madeline’s best interest at the forefront of her decisions and I love her statement that life is a gift.  All of the characters had their flaws but they were lovable, insightful and inspiring.

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Nicola Yoon’s husband David Yoon created all of the artwork within the pages of the book which completely enhance the reading experience and add even more significance to the story.  The sketches, dictionary entries, book reviews and charts were my favorite part of reading.  They felt very personal and gave a true sense of Madeline’s creativity and what it’s like to be in her head. My favorite chart of hers is the one about measuring the passing of time before something exciting is going to happen because everyone can relate to that feeling.  The book left me feeling invigorated and appreciative to have control of the the life I’m living.  Madeline is such an inspiring girl and while the ending is rather unconventional and unexpected, the journey is everything everything.

Final Thoughts:  Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon is a must read contemporary YA novel about a girl who begins to examine her life, question the possibilities and search for meaning.  Madeline, a girl with a fatal immunodeficiency disease, and Olly, an attractive and mysterious boy next door are an unusual pairing of characters who help each other unlock the strength laying dormant within themselves.  The characters in Everything Everything are compelling and inspiring and so very well developed.  The story is told through multiple mediums which enhances the overall novel and trust me when I say that it’s impossible not to fall madly in love with Everything Everything.

Rating 5

This innovative, heartfelt debut novel tells the story of a girl who’s literally allergic to the outside world. When a new family moves in next door, she begins a complicated romance that challenges everything she’s ever known. The narrative unfolds via vignettes, diary entries, texts, charts, lists, illustrations, and more.

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster. (via Goodreads)

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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern is the most beautifully written book I have ever read.  The story revolves around a traveling circus and two magicians who’ve spent their youth training for a duel and the strings of prose that Morgenstern crafted to tell their story are pure magic.  I devoured the entire book in one day and it’s one that I know that I will for sure be re-reading in the future when I feel like immersing myself in magic.  I also love both the US and UK covers. The black, white and red designs are so incredibly striking.

Aftering pointing out how gorgeous the words are in the this novel, the next logicial talking point is the wonderfully immersive world that Erin Morgenstern has built around this mysterious traveling circus named Les Cirque des Reves.  “The circus arrives without warning.  No announcements precede it.  It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.”  I had to include the direct quote from the plot synopsis since it describes it better than I ever could!  There are people who become obsessed with the circus and spend their lives trying to catch it wherever it may turn up (they call themselves reveurs or dreamers).  That is how enchanting each show is.  The circus take place in black and white tents and has red accents throughout the different rooms but it’s the giant clock tower that I would do anything to see in real life. I loved that throughout the book there are certain scenes revolving around experiences at the circus that are told through second person POV which allows the reader to feel like they’re there.  I would also do anything to try some of the circus food which is so very vividly described or to take a ride on the magical carousel.  This book is PERFECT to be made into a really high budget artsy film.

The Night Circus

Throughout the course of the novel, you’re introduced to an extensive range of characters and the story spans over years so it can be slightly difficult to keep track of, but it’s complexities are completely worth your time.  The story begins with Prospero the Enchanter choosing his daughter Celia and Mr. A. H. choosing an avid reader from an orphanage as the students they will spend their lives training and who will ultimately duel one another to the death when the time comes.  Depite their inevitable fate, Celia and Marco fall deeply in love with one another and it’s forbidden romance at its finest.

Final Thoughts:  The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern is a magical foray into a world about a traveling circus that I will spend the rest of my life wishing I could experience firsthand.  The story is full of the most beautiful imagery surrounding the circus and the magical elements will leave you smiling and daydreaming for years to come.  Plus, there are two magicians training for their fated duel and a blossoming forbidden romance between the pair.  This book is literally perfect.

Rating 6

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called “Le Cirque des Reves,” and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus performers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead. (via Goodreads)

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Kristin

BookTube: BookTube-A-Thon Wrap Up

BookTube-A-Thon is over and I feel completely satisfied with all the reading I was able to do.  I completed all of the challenges and had so much fun doing it! I’m definitely going to be participating again in the future.  Here’s a belated look at what I thought of everything!

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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini is a novel I really struggled with sorting out my feelings about.  It covers some very rough subjects and there is a definite trigger warning for anyone who suffers from depression or has suicidal tendencies.  Sadly, the author himself was afflicted with mental illness and he ultimately ended his own life soon after I had read this book.  This is why I have such a hard time expressing my feelings toward Craig’s story which now feels that much more personal.  Vizzini also spent time in a mental hospital in New York City prior to writing Craig’s story which is a sort of parallel to Craig’s outlet.  I loved finding out the significance of the cover and that’s the part of the story that hooked me.

The book follows Craig who is a teenage boy that gets accepted to attend a prestigious all boys high school full of people who’s intelligence levels match or surpass his own.  Criag is initially excited for the opportunity but when he is no longer the top student in his class, he begins having a very difficult time adjusting.  He becomes so stressed out that he cannot keep any food down and he can no longer sleep at night which results in a suicide attempt.  This event leads to Craig being checked into a mental hospital so he can begin taking steps to improve his mental health.  There were so many parts of this book that I found difficult to read because I felt so awful for Craig and being an outside observer, it was challenging for me to hear his thoughts and not be able to offer him any type of comfort.  Not that it would have helped, but I really wanted to hug him and tell him that life after high school is so much better.  It’s always upsetting to see an intelligent young person feel like there’s reason to live or no change they could make to improve their situation.

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I think It’s Kind of a Funny Story is an accurate portrayal of depression and the throught process that goes along with it.  Craig’s therapist has taught him to identify different elements of his life and contributors to his depression as Cycling, Anchors and Tentacles and  it’s a really interesting system.  The majority of the book takes place in a mental hospital and while there is definite humor intended regarding some of the patients, it’s difficult to feel okay laughing about it.  I did enjoy how Craig seemed like such an outsider among the patients but the longer he stayed in the hospital, the more he realized that many of the other patients were not so different from him.  It’s also difficult to read the scenes involving Craig’s mother and little sister because their pain toward Craig’s unease shines through their attempted support.  Without spoiling anything, I very much enjoyed the ending of the book despite the discomfort I felt on the journey there.

Final Thoughts:  It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini is a story about depression and anxiety that is a definite challenge to read at times.  The book will make you feel uncomfortable and categorize elements of your own life.  Despite the serious subject matter, there is plenty of humor interwoven but be warned that this is a very heavy read.

Rating 4

Ambitious New York City teenager Craig Gilner is determined to succeed at life – which means getting into the right high school to get into the right job. But once Craig aces his way into Manhattan’s Executive Pre-Professional High School, the pressure becomes unbearable. He stops eating and sleeping until, one night, he nearly kills himself.

Craig’s suicidal episode gets him checked into a mental hospital, where his new neighbors include a transsexual sex addict, a girl who has scarred her own face with scissors, and the self-elected President Armelio. There, Craig is finally able to confront the sources of his anxiety.

Ned Vizzini, who himself spent time in a psychiatric hospital, has created a remarkably moving tale about the sometimes unexpected road to happiness. (via Goodreads)

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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: Where She Went by Gayle Forman (If I Stay #2)

**Warning! If you haven’t read If I Stay which is the first book in the duology by Gayle Forman, there will be spoilers ahead.**

Where She Went is the second book in the If I Stay duology by Gayle Forman.  There will be some spoilers ahead for the first book so if you haven’t read it yet I would suggest waiting to read my review of the second.  Okay, so now that my warning is out of the way, the second book takes place three years after If I Stay and Mia and Adam are living on opposite coasts from each other.  We also find out that Mia has left Adam after coming out of the coma during her accident and Adam is a broken man because of it.  I really enjoyed the first book in this duology and part of the reason I waited so long to read the second is because I could never remember if I owned it or not.  Seriously, I almost bought it 4-5 times because I thought I didn’t actually have it (which shows just how many unread books I own but that’s another issue for another day).

Going in to Where She Went I had known that Mia left Adam so I was prepared for that but I was not at all expecting the perspective shift.  The book first book is told from Mia’s POV and the second jumps to Adam’s.  It took me longer than I would have liked to adjust to being inside Adam’s head and after everything, I found that I didn’t love him as a character.  I had such warm feelings for him when Mia described his character to me but him relaying his own experiences just didn’t do it for me… until the end.  Adam has gone on to become a famous rockstar and he seems very ungrateful for his good fortune.  He takes his band for granted and doesn’t treat them or his manager the way he should.  He has obviously been deeply affected by losing Mia but it doesn’t excuse his behavior.

Where She Went

I did love the adventurous night that Mia and Adam set out upon after their chance encounter in NYC.  I loved reading about what Mia has been going through since her accident and the loss of her family and I love all of the awkward nuances between she and Adam during her dual trip down memory lane (it’s her last night in New York and she is remembering all of her favorite places in addition to remembering her feelings for Adam).  Despite disliking the narrator, I did give Where She Went a four star rating on Goodreads because OMG that ending.  I’m so happy that I read the conclusion because I have so much closure on Mia and Adam’s story.  There were so many intense feelings in the last couple of chapters that I thought my heart was going to explode.

Final Thoughts:  Where She Went by Gayle Forman is the conclusion to the If I Stay duology.  If you read and loved the first book, you should absolutely continue the story (despite how much the POV change may annoy you).  The ending is everything and you’ll get an immense amount of closure.  Seriously, there is so much payoff!

Rating 4

It’s been three years since the devastating accident . . . three years since Mia walked out of Adam’s life forever.

Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard’s rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia’s home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future – and each other.

Told from Adam’s point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I Stay, Where She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance. (via Goodreads)

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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han (The Summer I Turned Pretty #1)

After loving Jenny Han’s duology which consists of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You (both of which I’ve reviewed and you can read here and here) I’ve been eager to read anything else that she’s written because I just adore her writing style.  The Summer I Turned Pretty is the first book in a trilogy that was published prior to To All the Boys.  I added the first book to my TBR pile for BookTube-A-Thon and it ended up being the last book I read to complete the readathon.  If you’re looking to buy your own copies, I HIGHLY suggest the UK editions on Book Depository because the US covers are just plain awful.  I read that Jenny Han’s inspiration for writing this book is that one magical summer when you start noticing guys and they start noticing you back and it feels like everything is changing.

Usually I don’t start a review off with a gripe, but I really disliked the main character’s nickname.  Her given name is Isabel and everyone calls her Belly (ugh).  Getting past that, I did really enjoy the story.  Belly spends every summer in a beach community named Cousins along with her mom, brother Stephen, her mom’s best friend Susanna and her sons Conrad and Jeremiah.  Belly has always had a major crush on the older brother Conrad but she’s always been seen as the little sister and no one had ever really taken her seriously until that one pivotal summer.  Belly’s brother has to leave their summer house after only a week and Belly is able to grow a lot without him hindering her spirit.  I do think Belly is immature but I think a lot of people can relate to her desire to fit in and be seen as an equal.

The Summer I Turned Pretty

What I loved most about this book is that each chapter jumped between the current summer and one from the past.  I loved experiencing Belly’s past memories in the present tense and it really enhanced her story and showed all of the growth her character has undergone.  The primary plot is typical of contemporary as it revolves around Belly’s interactions with three guys but it’s the secondary plot involving Susanna and Belly’s mother that really pulled at my heartstrings.  To be honest, when I had heard this book described as having a sibling love triangle, I was REALLY worried but I ended up enjoying it because Han crafted a believable summer romance story.

Final Thoughts:  The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han is the first light and fun contemporary novel in a The Summer I Turned Pretty trilogy.  It’s perfect for beach reading or for getting yourself into the mindset of summer.  The main character’s desire to fit in is something that most readers will be able to relate to and both the primary and secondary plotlines will keep the pages turning.  While I did not enjoy this book as much as Jenny Han’s duology, I will be continuing on with the series.

Rating 4

Belly measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer–they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer, one terrible and wonderful summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along. (via Goodreads)

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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: The Selection by Kiera Cass (The Selection #1)

The Selection by Kiera Cass in the first book in the Selection trilogy.  It’s also the first book I started reading as part of BookTube-A-Thon to fulfill the challenge of reading a book with blue on the cover.  It’s a very quick paced read that’ll keep you just as hooked as your favorite garbage reality show.  To be totally honest, I wasn’t expecting to like it nearly as much as I did.  Were there flaws?  SURE, but sometimes I’m just in the mood for those quick, fun, short reads.  The Selection follows America Singer who is one of 35 girls chosen from all of the castes in Illea to move into the Palace and take part in a competition to woo and eventually marry Prince Maxon, also known as The Selection.

The Selection is a Cinderella story of sorts and while the quality of the writing is not the best (seriously, this not an earth shattering read by any means), the story itself is an addicting one.  It’s not a spoiler that America gets chosen to partake in The Selection because obviously the book series is about her so anyone who picks it up should see that coming.  While the story is engaging, I feel obligated to address the love triangle which I am not so fond of.  America is torn between her forbidden childhood love Aspen and Prince Maxon whom she quickly begins building a relationship with (I’ll say right now that I am Team Maxon).  Maxon is completely opposite from what America had expected and I think he will be a great King when his time to rule comes.  He’s compassionate toward his people, he truly cares about the well-being of others and he’s already doing what he can to make changes.

The Selection

The aspect of The Selection that I enjoyed most is the worldbuilding.  The story takes place in a future dystopian America and the population is broken in castes ranked One through Eight, One being the most wealthy and Eight being the most impoverished.  It’s difficult to marry outside of your caste and the only opportunity anyone has to truly advance their place in society is to be The One to win The Selection.  I enjoyed hearing about life within the Palace and the extravagant parties, dresses and pastries the Selected girls were being treated to.  Speaking of pastries, one of my favorite characters (besides Maxon) is America’s younger sister May.  She’s adorably enthusiastic and she’s so obviously hoping that her sister gets a happily ever after.

Final Thoughts: The Selection by Kiera Cass is an addictive futuristic Cinderella story.  It takes place in a dystopian version of America in which 35 girls compete to marry Prince Maxon and join the monarchy.  The characters are very frustrating at points, but the descriptions of their dresses and the silly squabbles the girls get into will keep you from putting this book down.  If you enjoy binge watching reality television, this is a series for you!

Rating 5

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself—and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined. (via Goodreads)

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Kristin

BookTube: July Wrap Up

Hello fellow bookworms! I read a total of NINE books in July (go Kristin!) and here is my video so you know what I thought of them!

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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn #1)

I have to start by saying that The Final Empire which is the first book in Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy far exceeds the hype surrounding it.  It’s THAT good.  After months of watching my favorite BookTubers rave about this book and after reading and loving Steelheart (review here), I knew it was my time to dive in to this series.  Mistborn is a magical novel about a band of thieves and it’s heavily politically driven.  I hadn’t been expecting that part (I thought it would be pure fantasy) but I couldn’t help loving every word as I learned more and more about the world.

The main characters Kelsier and Vin are everything<3  Kelsier acts as Vin’s magical mentor and their relationship with each other is a pleasure to read about. Kelsier is somewhat of a father figure to Vin and she reluctantly grows to trust him after growing up in an environment that destroyed her beliefs in the general good of the human race.  Kel teaches Vin all about how to use the magic she has within and he integrates her into his band of thieves which is unlike any other Vin has ever seen.  It’s easy to see how much Kel and Vin care for each other and their friendship warms my heart.  I also really enjoyed the secondary characters, particularly Elend, from the moment they appeared on the page.

Mistborn

A big part of what makes this story so magical is, well, the magic.  Brandon Sanderson crafted such an intricate system of magic which can be used by certain people with the ability to burn a specific metal.  There is also a very rare race of people called Mistborns who are able to burn multiple metals.  He consistently explains which metals do what throughout the novel and there’s also a handy guide in the back of the book.  In addition to the magic, I loved the political system within the world and the description of the Lord Ruler is chilling.  The way that Kelsier, Vin and crew plot to overcome a ruler who is a self proclaimed god is fascinating.  It’s a dangerous adventure which resulted in a thrilling read.

Final Thoughts: The Final Empire (Mistborn #1) by Brandon Sanderson is a magical adventure story that is full of political intrigue.  The characters are perfectly complex and feel real and the system of magic within the world is thoughtfully crafted and explained in depth to the reader.  The main villain is bone chilling and the sense of camaraderie between Kelsier’s band of thieves is heartwarming.  Mistborn is an underdog story and I cannot wait to continue with the trilogy!

Rating 6

In a world where ash falls from the sky, and mist dominates the night, an evil cloaks the land and stifles all life. The future of the empire rests on the shoulders of a troublemaker and his young apprentice. Together, can they fill the world with color once more?

In Brandon Sanderson’s intriguing tale of love, loss, despair and hope, a new kind of magic enters the stage – Allomancy, a magic of the metals. (via Goodreads)

Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: The Wicked Will Rise by Danielle Paige (Dorothy Must Die #2)

**Warning! If you haven’t read Dorothy Must Die which is the first book in the trilogy by Danielle Paige, there will be spoilers ahead.  You can read my review of the first book instead if you haven’t started the series yet!**

The Wicked Will Rise by Danielle Paige is the second book in the Dorothy Must Die trilogy.  I’ll admit that I picked it up before I became aware of all the drama surrounding the author, but after loving the first book so much I felt like I should continue.  Plus, at 293 pages it’s a really quick read.  Unfortunately I wasn’t ever able to get into this book like I had the first one.  The story was not anywhere near as engaging and there were changes in storytelling that took away from the overall enjoyment. Womp womp.

The only reason I didn’t give this book 1 stars on my goodreads rating is because I didn’t see the ending coming and there’s potential for the third book to save this series if goes back to the style of Dorothy Must Die.  The story continues in Oz with Amy Gumm searching for the missing members of The Revolutionary Order of the Wicked while plotting to steal the remaining assets (the Scarecrow’s brain and the Lion’s courage) from Dorothy’s inner circle of henchmen.  Throughout the book, Amy becomes increasingly afflicted and controlled by dark magic.  Some of her allies even speculate that it’s the same dark magic that corrupted Dorothy. Amy lost some of her sass from the first book and she also gets little too boy crazy.  We do get to see more of Ozma who still doesn’t make much sense.  My main issue with this book is that it didn’t feel like anything really happened until the last chapter.  The characters were mostly mosying along through Oz without any events furthering the story.

The Wicked Will Rise

What drew me to this series initially is my love of Oz so the setting of the story is appealing.  I particularly enjoyed reading about the rainbow area and the bubbly ruler within it and I loved how she had a faux unicorn as a pet.  I also enjoyed the Island of Lost Things and I thought that was a fun addition to the world.  I’m not positive if it exists in previous Oz lore but it felt like it belonged in the world.  The end of the story is a completely unexpected twist but it led to some pacing issues in the early stages of the story and hindered its development.

Final Thoughts:  The Wicked Will Rise by Danielle Paige is the continuation of Dorothy Must Die.  The story is not as likable as the first and the plot drags until the last chapter.  While the ending is an unexpected twist, it’s not enough to make up for the lack of story development in the first 90% of the book.  The main character Amy reads differently than she did in the first installment and we see much less of her original allies and the characters she’s trying to pursue so she can take down Dorothy.

Rating 2

In this dark, high-octane sequel to the New York Times bestsellingDorothy Must Die, Amy Gumm must do everything in her power to kill Dorothy and free Oz.

To make Oz a free land again, Amy Gumm was given a mission: remove the Tin Woodman’s heart, steal the Scarecrow’s brain, take the Lion’s courage, and then Dorothy must die…

But Dorothy still lives. Now the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked has vanished, and mysterious Princess Ozma might be Amy’s only ally. As Amy learns the truth about her mission, she realizes that she’s only just scratched the surface of Oz’s past—and that Kansas, the home she couldn’t wait to leave behind, may also be in danger. In a place where the line between good and evil shifts with just a strong gust of wind, who can Amy trust—and who is really Wicked? (via Goodreads)

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Kristin

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