Tales From Oz: Volume 1

Tales from OzTales from Oz by Dan Wickline
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I picked this graphic novel up after reading Dorothy Must Die, because I was in the mood for some more Dark Oz. The artwork is amazing and the tales are darker than ever. After Zamora failed to conquer Oz, her daughters, Lynessa and Zinna swore to avenge her death and claim Oz. In Tin Man, we meet the woodsman. He & an apprentice fall in love. Lynessa finds out and rants.

“I have given her everything, yet all she concerns herself with is that brute of a man.
I have opened up the doors to infinite power and all he can offer her is WOOD!”

No pun seems intended. Lynessa tears his heart out of his chest in a very Temple of Doom manner and turns him into a mechanical man.

I’m a bit unfamiliar with this genre, but are all the women dressed like Vegas showgirls and so buxom that their boobs are almost falling out?

My favorite story was of the Cowardly Lion, Thorne. The Scarecrow one had the most gore, but they were all pretty bloody. Aside from the lingerie clad female characters, these were good, dark tales.

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The Twelve Kingdoms: The Mark of the Tala by Jeffe Kennedy

The Twelve Kingdoms: The Mark of the TalaThe Twelve Kingdoms: The Mark of the Tala by Jeffe Kennedy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

King Uorsin has three daughters. Princess Ursula, heir to the throne, is all hard edges. She’s a cunning warrior with a sharp mind. Princess Amelia, youngest and fairest, gets her golden prince, Hugh. Andi, well, she’s the invisible middle child. She escapes the the stifling castle every chance she gets to explore on horseback.

It’s on one of these wandering rides that she encounters a dark, frightening outsider. She buries her dagger in his shoulder and flees, but it’s too late. He knows who she is.

Rayfe is the Tala King, and he demands that Uorsin honor his long ago promise. The princesses are half blood, as Uorsin took a Tala bride on the condition that one of his daughters would wed their King. The Tala possess magic and can shape shift. Uorsin has destroyed books and rewritten history, painting them as demons. He’s never intended to honor the bargain he made, and refuses Rayfe. He tries to hide Andi at Prince Hugh’s stronghold and thus begins a seige. Andi is the daughter that bears the mark of the Tala.

Rayfe is determined to marry Andi at any cost, the survival of his kingdom hangs in the balance. He pleads with her. He tries to force her hand, angry with her indecision. He soon finds that he can boss all he wants, but Andi decides things for herself. She finally concedes, in order to save lives. Andi needs the help of her newfound ally, Dafne, because her father won’t let his powerful daughter go. Dafne was terrific!

She raised her eyebrows, giving me a pointed look. “This is why it’s perilous to ignore a librarian.”

I loved the Tala and their foreign ways. Andi comes into her own, finding backbone and opening her eyes to the misdeeds of her father. Her mother’s people, her husband King’s people, are her people. Her father and Hugh’s armies are coming, and she needs to unwind her mother’s secrets before it’s too late.

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Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly

Deep Blue (Waterfire Saga, #1)Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

89 page sneak peek only, I wasn’t approved for the rest. Weird. Anyway, Deep Blue read quite a bit younger than I was expecting. The money is called CURRENSEA
and the opposite of a boyfriend is a MERLFRIEND. I must be a grump, because I found it corny instead of cute. I wasn’t drawn in enough by 89 pages to finish it a month later when it’s released. To be fair, I was expecting a dark tale, not a little mermaid princess.

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Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Cruel BeautyCruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“I was raised to marry a monster.”
Nyx is an angry girl who’s been promised as a bride to the prince of demons by her father. She’s been raised as a sacrifice to buy her village protection from the demons that plague them.
“Don’t look at the shadows too long or a demon might look back.”
Nix is filled with hatred. Hatred for her father, her aunt, her dead mother, and her kind twin sister, Astraia. Nyx knows one of them has to die, because of the bargain her father struck, and she struggles not to resent the one person who’s always loved her. “If one of us had to die, it ought to be the one with poison in her heart.”

Meeting the Gentle Lord isn’t at all what Nyx expected, and it’s a pretty safe bet that Nyx surprised him. He tells her to call him Ignifex, but if she can guess his true name, she wins her freedom. Guessing wrong would be fatal. He neither ravages, nor kills her and promptly has his shadow, Shade, escort her to her room.

Since Nyx has grown up in a confusion of love and hatred for those surrounding her, she does surprisingly well in her new role. The Gentle Lord Ignifex tells her that he likes a wife with a little malice in her heart and they develop a nice rapport. She might even care about him, just a little. She’s still determined to destroy him and spends her nights exploring, trying to find all the house’s secrets. Shade is eager to betray his master, but can only give clues. Ignifex knows exactly what she’s about, but is arrogant enough not to be worried. In fact, he’s amused and enjoys trying to pull her off course. “Distracting me with gruesome stories will only work so often.”

Cruel Beauty is now my favorite reimagining of Beauty and the Beast to date. It’s beautifully written, with complex characters. Nyx is a lovely mix of bitter and kind, much like I enjoy my villains. Ignifex has been around for so many hundreds of years, he’s forgotten many of his own secrets. Shade’s been around the entire time, but is unable to divulge anything that would harm his master. 5 stars, highly recommended.

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Burnout and Book Hangovers

I mostly read fiction, but I enjoy the occasional cookbook or crafty/sewing book. I don’t usually review them, because who’s interested in reading that? Recently, a batch of extra cute ones popped up on NetGalley that I just had to look through. This is my fave so far:

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I read a bunch, and sometimes I need a quickie break before I start a new book. One thing that make me need a break is life stress. Or just being too busy to get into an all consuming story. My favorite reason is having just finished an amazing story that has ruined me for any other book. For a day or two. The latest culprit:

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I cleanse my reading palate with a sugary romance (okay, I know that’s a bit contradictory) or a nonfiction book. Another way I avoid burnout is jumping around in genres. Fantasy, paranormal, contemporary, sci-fi, historical.

I don’t know if other people have to use tricks to keep reading fresh and fun, but most of my real life friends don’t read as often as I do.

Romance Trilogy by Ann Aguirre + Backstreet Boys???

There’s a new series written by Ann Aguirre! A romance trilogy, first book will be published in August.
EACH OF THE TITLES IS A BACKSTREET BOYS SONG. No April Fool’s joke.

I Want it that Way
As Long As You Love Me
The Shape of my Heart

THE Ann Aguirre. The one who wrote the Razorland & Sirantha Jax books.
I’m so confused, especially because I’ll most likely end up reading them all.

Are we being punked?

High hopes for Popular by Maya Van Wagenen

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I may be jumping the gun, because I haven’t read this yet. I’m basing my pre-read opinions on author interviews & press. I hope this one comes through for girls. Will update as soon as I can get my grabby hands on this book!

I like the fact that here, popular = making new friends and being sincere. It’s important for young girls to stay true to themselves and not compromise their personal standards in pursuit of popularity. Real courage is daring to make the unpopular choice in order to be the person you are!