Books Based off of other Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Mystery, Paige-Danielle, Young Adult

#688 The Witch Must Burn by Danielle Paige

The Witch Must Burn by Danielle PaigeThe Witch Must Burn by Danielle Paige

Jelia is the head maid at the castle. She has been in the Emerald City almost all of her life. Ozma was in power for a short time. This was fine with Jelia because she and Ozma got along. Dorothy took over though and no one knows why she was brought back to Oz.

One day, Glinda comes to pay Dorothy a visit and insists on borrowing Jelia. She thinks Jelia will have what it takes. Glinda has nefarious plans in mind. She tries to use Jelia to mine magic. It doesn’t work out the way Glinda plans and Jelia is relegated to kitchen and maid work. There, Jelia meets a boy named Nox. He counsels her through her job at Glinda’s. Which pink food goes where–that sort of thing. Ultimately, Jelia learns about a secret plot to undermine Dorothy and Glinda and she knows that she must be a part of it. She also discovers something interesting about herself.

What I liked

I’m liking this series. I hope to get to read it all. This was a prequel to the other two books I have already read in the series. It gives just a bit of background about why things in Oz are the way they are. Jelia is quite an interesting character.

What I didn’t like

This book was rather short and I would have liked more to it. There didn’t seem to be a whole lot of conflict, but it certainly did set the stage for the rest of the series.

Overall

Which witch?

Weigh In

Would you eat all pink food?

How do you feel about something that was once good, turning so evil?

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Books Based off of other Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Paige-Danielle, Romantic Fiction, Young Adult

#683 The Wicked Will Rise

 The Wicked Will Rise by Danielle Paige The Wicked Will Rise by Danielle Paige

Amy Gumm has failed to kill Dorothy, but she did get the Tinman’s heart. The strange object still beats and ticks without being inside of a body. The Emerald City is on fire and Amy has no idea where the rest of the order is. She is whisked to relative safety by Ollie the wingless monkey and his sister Maude, also Ozma is there as well, but Ozma is a full bolts short of a toolbox.

The relative safety doesn’t last long. Amy once again faces up with the Cowardly Lion, and this time, things fare better than the last time. Amy is taken to the queendom of the wingless ones, high in the trees. The queen’s name is Lulu. She doesn’t want to see Ozma at all and she also puts Mombi on trial when she shows up. Amy is told, by Mombi, to go and find Polychrome, perhaps Polychrome could help.

Amy and Ozma go out into the world looking for a way to Polychrome’s glass castle in the sky. They end up going through quite a few obstacles and then ending up on the Island of Lost Things. Ozma and Amy find many things there that had been lost, including Nox. They also find someone else, he says his name is Bright. Yes, it’s none-other than Button Bright, who has never been all that bright, but he’s grown up now, and handsome. He smokes rainbow cigarettes. I imagine he looks like Garret Hedlund. Bright, can find the way to Polychrome’s castle, which he does, and takes Nox, Amy, and Ozma along.

Amy soon learns the truth about Pete and Ozma, and also Tip. A fearsome battle ensues involving some of our favorite people. Amy is once again, more determined than ever to kill Dorothy, which she sets out to do, only to find that the bad guys aren’t quite as bad as she expected and that some people, who seemed like good guys, really aren’t. Amy must remember that evil could overtake her, just as it overtook Dorothy. Amy ultimately asks the question, “Are Oz and Kansas really all that different?”

What I liked

This one was better than the first one, I thought. I read this first book in this series Dorothy Must Die. It was entertaining. It was imaginative. It was philosophical. What the first book had, this book has more of. This one is even grittier than the first book. It’s full of death, hard feelings to familiar relations, and hard questions about right and wrong. It’s full of facing the doubt that is within yourself. Sometimes, you, yourself, can be your worst enemy.

I liked that some of the beloved Oz characters show back up in this book. Polychrome and Button Bright are not commonly talked of Oz characters. I think it’s great how they seemed to grow up and want grownup things.

What I didn’t like

I rather enjoyed this book and I don’t have a lot to say that’s negative about it.

Overall

I think more people than Dorothy need to die.

Weigh In

Do we sometimes let ourselves hold ourselves back, even when no one else is?

If you had to go through a fog of doubt that revealed all the doubts you had about yourself in a short period of time, could you make it through?

Books Based off of other Books, Books set in Europe, Fantasy, Fiction, humor, Mystery, Ware-MJ, Young Adult

#675 Harry Plotter and the Chamber of Serpents by MJ Ware

 Harry Plotter and the Chamber of Serpents by MJ Ware Harry Plotter and the Chamber of Serpents by MJ Ware

Austin Winters has just arrived in England where his father works at the embassy. There isn’t a lot to do at the embassy, but an owl drops a strange letter for him there. He is accepted into the Hogworts School of Mysteries and Magic. His father wants to send him to an expensive boarding school, but Austin suggest Hogworts, so off he goes. He doesn’t have any of the supplies and the whole thing is kind of weird.

He gets to school and he’s sorted into the Slipperin House. There is some surprise there, because Austin is considered a Muddle, a non-magical person, but he’s in Slipperin anyway. At first, Austin doesn’t think he has the knack for magic, but with the tutoring of Hermione Danger, he starts to get along pretty well. He even doesn’t do so badly in Smape’s potions class.

Austin hears a wear voice that says it wants to kill and this concerns Austin. He finds a weird door with snakes on it in the dungeon and the voice that says it wants to kill. The door is opened. People start getting petrified in the hallways. The Weaseley twins play pranks on everyone; the turn the Slipperin common rooms into a swamp. Austin begins to make friends though, but not with Drano Malfoy, because no one is really friends with him.

Dumblesnore entrusts Austin with some important tasks along the way.

In the end, Harry Plotter, Ron Weaseley and Hermione Danger aren’t the bad people everyone in Slipperin says they are. Austin finds good friends and hopes he gets to come back the next year, without all the giant snakes though. Austin does not like snakes.

What I liked

This book wasn’t roll on the floor funny, but it was humorous. I liked the parody of the whole story. Everyone has a different name, or at least part of it. This story supposes that there were other alternate people helping Ron, Hermione, and Harry defeat the Basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets, or Serpents rather. I think it’s interesting to think about the fact that there may have been a more concerted effort in this whole thing rather than just three kids trying to defeat an evil monster.

I liked that I got an American’s take on Hogworts/Hogwarts. This is a loving parody and in no way trying to demean the Harry Potter series. It’s really flattery at its best. The author knows his stuff about Harry Potter.

What I didn’t like

Nothing really, this was a pretty good book, especially for free.

Overall

I wonder if Austin will be around the help Harry Plotter next year?

Weigh In

If you were in Hogwarts, what house would you be sorted into?

Do you think the rest of the world of Hogwarts would be interesting to find out? For example, would it be interesting to find out what a day in the life of Filch is like?

Books Based off of other Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Finding Your Self, Paige-Danielle, Social Commentary, Young Adult

#671 Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

Amy is from Kansas and she lives in a trailer. Her mom shops at Salvation Army. Her dad is gone. Her mom has also become an alcoholic. At school she is bullied. One day the weather is ominous and Amy’s mother goes out to the bar leaving Amy at home in the trailer park alone with the pet rat, Star. As tornadoes are prone to happen in Kansas, one does, and sweeps Amy’s trailer up off of the ground.

Amy does not die, but is helped out of her trailer by a nice boy with emerald-green eyes, what she sees astounds her. She’s definitely not in Kansas anymore. She’s in Oz.

She soon meets up with a couple of companions who tell her that Oz isn’t the place that it once had been. Dorothy is evil, or good rather, and so is Glinda. Dorothy has gone mad with power. All the characters she heard about, who were good, are still good, but they’re not good, they’re evil. The Tin Woodman, the Cowardly Lion, and the Scarecrow are all awful people. Dorothy soon finds herself imprisoned in the palace, but she is soon whisked away by a group who needs some help. They’re the wicked, or rather, the good people of Oz.

The group is composed of witches and various revolutionaries against Oz. They want to kill Dorothy. They want to get rid of her awful regime. Amy is trained by witches and warlocks. She’s trained to be lethal. She’s trained to use magic. She’s trained to be a witch. This is all in preparation for the time in which she will be planted in the palace itself in order to make an assassination attempt on Dorothy. Amy finds out that Dorothy is good, or rather not good, and she must go down.

What I liked

This is a rather interesting look at the world of Oz. What happens after the story is over? Does everyone stay good? Do their allegiances change? How does a person of Earth manage to survive in Oz? We’ve seen, after all, that it made the wizard become a humbug who pretended to be a magician and also the ruler of Oz.

We always think of Dorothy as this sweet little thing, which she was in the stories, rather one-sided, rather flat, father a child. In the movie, she’s definitely more grown up.

Danielle knew her Oz stuff. She knows the correct characters’ names. She mentions characters you’ll only find in reading the Oz series by L. Frank Baum, the Shaggy Man for example, he was never in any of the movies or shows, that I know of.

I liked this question of good being evil and evil being good. It can certainly change. It can certainly flip. Someone who is good, can be evil. A hero can become the villain. Under what circumstances do these things happen? It also reminds me of a scripture that says something along the lines of–good will be called evil and evil will be called good. This is speaking of the day when our society has changed so much that our moral compasses have skewed and we don’t know which way is up. I feel as if this is what has happened in Oz. Moral compasses have been frizzed out and yes, the wicked are actually the good people, maybe, but according to the story, you should never trust anyone but yourself–so who knows?

What I didn’t like

The book ended on rather a cliff-hanger note, just be warned. I feel as the first book in a series, it can sort of stand on its own. It’s still interesting and still a good read, but there is more to the story, a lot more, that you don’t get with this one book.

It’s a bit sad to think of these characters that you’ve always seen as good, be bad, but none of us are entirely good or bad, we’re a mixture of both, and that mixture can change.

Overall

Interesting concept, and, yes, Dorothy does sound as if she needs to die.

Weigh In

Would your opinion of one of your favorite good guys change if they were evil in a story?

Does the quote, “You either die a hero or live long enough to be the villain,” apply here?

Books Based off of other Books, Children's, DeKeyser-Stacy, Fantasy, Fiction, Social Commentary

#634 One Witch at a Time by Stacy DeKeyser

One Witch at a Time by Stacy DeKeyserOne Witch at a Time by Stacy DeKeyser

Rudi was going to market with the tanner’s daughter, Susannah, she was six. Rudi said he was allowed to sell a cow as well as the milk and butter, if he got a good price. At the market Rudi is separated from Susannah. She says she has sold his cow for magical beans. They look like ordinary beans to Rudi. He knows his family will not want to lose a cow for beans to a foreign person no less.

Rudi races home where he talks to his grandmother. She thinks that the beans might indeed be magic, but they should go ask the witch up on the hill. Everyone knows she is a witch, but people simply say she is an old woman. Rudi and Susannah go to see her. She confirms that the beans are indeed magic and they should go back to the land from which they came, but she could not go there herself because only one witch was allowed in one land at a time. Rudi and Susannah would have to go. She tells Rudi to plant one of the beans at the border between the lands. He does and a beanstalk grows.

Rudi and Susannah climb to the top where they endeavor to return the beans to the witch there, who is a giant and a man. A girl named Agatha is going with them, but it turns out she’s the girl who started the trouble in the first place. She helps with the task, sort of, but she doesn’t like the witch. Rudi tells her that there can only be one witch so if someone were to take the place of the witch there, then maybe Agatha could get what she wished.

What I liked

This was a fairly entertaining story. I liked the twists on traditional fairy tales. I liked how the people in the story admit there’s a witch, but don’t admit there’s a witch. They secretly acknowledge that they don’t know all the pieces of things, but outwardly they persist in putting on a front that everything can be explained. Typical humans.

What I didn’t like

The whole one witch at a time thing seems illogical, but it’s not my written world.

Overall

Everything ended up ok.

Weigh In

Would you trade a cow for magic beans?

If there is something you can’t explain do you admit you know the answer, or do you put up the front that you think it’s silly?

Atwood-Margaret, Books Based off of other Books, Books set in Europe, Fiction, Romantic Fiction

#585 The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood

The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood

Oh Penelope, left alone for quite a long time while her husband Odysseus went off to fight wars and deal with gods. Penelope was just a teenager when she was married to Odysseus. She was in the shadow of her cousin Helen and was then taken away from her family and off to Ithaca once she was married. She had a son. Life seemed good, or at least alright, until men were called to arms to go to war.

Penelope was left by herself. She didn’t know anything about running a household, but she decided to do her best.

After her husband was gone some time, everyone assumed he was dead. Penelope didn’t want to think this. She had not dreamed of his ghost. Suitors started to show up. They were young. They were boisterous. They were around her son’s age. They all wanted to marry her for her money and her estate, but she didn’t want to marry any of them.

Odysseus did make his way back, as we all know. Penelope arranged a contest for the suitors, which Odysseus won, disguised. Penelope knew it was her husband, but let things play out. She once again had her husband and things went on, even into the afterlife.

What I liked

I have never actually read the Iliad or the Odyssey. They’re considered “epics.” I like poetry, but I don’t like poetry that much. Maybe some day I will read each of these epics, but that day is not today. Despite the fact that I have never read these, I know large parts of the story line. Penelope was a character, but not necessarily one in the spotlight. The story wasn’t really about her, although she was definitely a part of it. I liked that this book was about her and her side of the story.

What I didn’t like

I love Margaret Atwood, but this was one of those books that was difficult to get through. There was poetry mixed in with the text, which I admit to not thoroughly reading. Penelope’s story seemed rather thin, but this was a short book. There wasn’t necessarily enough time to develop Penelope’s story further. Her story is famous and already developed to a point. This book is more like an addition to what we already know of Penelope. I liked that I have more insight into Penelope, but it’s not really deep enough for me.

Overall

Penelope is definitely quite the faithful woman.

Weigh In

If you were in her situation, would you have waited?

Do you feel sorry for Penelope?

Books Based off of other Books, Books set in Europe, Fiction, Shaw-George Bernard, Social Commentary

#524 Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw

Pygmalion by George Bernard ShawPygmalion by George Bernard Shaw

Making a creation is great and all, but what happens when that creation becomes more than just a creation? What happens when your creation becomes sentient and develops feelings?

I’m not talking about sentient robots who take over the Earth, I’m actually speaking about Eliza Doolittle. You probably know this story better as My Fair Lady. All you classy people know this story as a movie called My Fair Lady staring Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn, but it was generally meant to be a play.

This story is based on of a bit of Greek Mythology. I explain it to you, I promise, if I remembered the entire story. The premise of it is that Pygmalion created Galatea and Galatea became real to an extent instead of just being a creation. I can’t get any more detailed than that right now, otherwise I would do you and the story an injustice.

This whole story starts out in the market. There’s a flower girl there trying to sell flowers. She’s rather crude in her speech and dress. There comes to be an uproar when some change is made and some better-off people show up. One man takes notes like a weirdo, but he can guess where everyone is from. Another man just wants to be kind to the flower girl. It ends up that the two men sort of know each other. One man is Henry Higgins and the other is the Colonel. They make a bet. They bet that Eliza, the flower girl, can be cleaned up and presentable in six months.

Eliza ends up living with Henry Higgins and the Colonel, who moved in with Henry. Eliza surpasses all of their expectations. She becomes the perfect example of a lady. Her speech is impeccable. No one recognizes that she’s not high-born.

Henry merely saw Eliza as his creation, but it turns out that she has feelings as well. She wants approval from both of the men and she wants to be recognized for herself. In the end Henry is still Henry and Eliza finds herself a little better off in life.

What I liked

It’s been so long since I’ve seen My Fair Lady that I’ve forgotten much of the story, but what I haven’t forgotten was in the book, word for word, because it’s actually a play. I generally don’t read plays, but this one was alright.

There’s a phrase in the book that I really liked. I highlighted it.

“The difference between a lady and a flower girl is not how she behaves, but how she is treated.”

Eliza has the same potential as any other woman, but it took two men on a bet to put some faith in her for her to have faith in herself. Sometimes we see ourselves as nothing, until someone comes along and thinks we’re great. Then we look at ourselves again and realize that maybe we’re not so bad. If you treat a person like a dog, they’re eventually going to think they’re like a dog. If you treat a person well, they’re eventually going to realize that they have worth.

Eliza is this perfect story of how a little faith from someone else can change a person’s entire outlook. Don’t ever second-guess telling a person they’re good at something, or they look nice, or they’re a good person. You never know what impact that compliment may have on them. It could completely change the way they think about themselves.

It also goes to show you that sometimes you just need one other person in the world to believe in you and that makes all the difference.

What I didn’t like

Honestly, I’m kind of disappointed this isn’t the love story we would think it would be. In the movie, we know that Henry Higgins ends up thinking that Eliza is pretty great, but in the original story they don’t end up together. Eliza doesn’t even really like Henry in that manner. She knows that he is who he is and he’s not going to change.

Blast it, Henry, be the man everyone wants you to be! You’re ruining our love story.

If you read the little section before the book even starts, there is this bit about the English language and how it should be spoken properly and with a certain accent. You’re barking up the wrong tree George. English, while not as widespread as say Spanish or Chinese, is a widely spoken language and people speak it however in the heck they want to. How an Australian speaks English is different than how an English person speaks English. How someone from New York Speaks English is different from how someone from Alabama speaks English, and that’s within the same country. English is a language that has been adapted and appended in so many ways. Essentially, there really isn’t a correct way to speak it. We have added so much of other languages into our language and spread it so far, that you pretty much just have to accept what a person thinks as English is English.

Look, this is all pretentious. As much as I hate to admit it, there really isn’t a correct way to speak English. Anyone who claims you’re only supposed to pronounce a word in one manner with one accent is a stuck-up jerk. You say To-mah-toe…. I say gross.

Overall

Just you wait Henry Higgins…just you wait.

Weigh In

What life do you imagine for Eliza had she not been plucked out of the streets for a bet?

In your opinion, does everyone have the same inborn potential as everyone else?