The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline B. Cooney

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Huh. So apparently this is an old book (1991) that was recently reprinted. I saw it on Bookbub and the description made me curious. A girl finds out she may have been kidnapped from a milk carton photo? Sounds like a horror movie in the making.

Except it wasn’t. Every time the story could have taken a very dark turn, it went the opposite direction. Every time I thought I knew what was about to happen, I didn’t. Aside from the allusions to teen sex, it was very innocuous. Which was both a relief and a letdown.

I’m happy it was a short book, an in-between read that you can finish in a matter or hours. A safe but interesting plot. Worth the time and the wondering of what-ifs afterwards. I enjoyed it, but I’m ready for something a bit more heavy. Maybe it’s time for some real horror.

 

The End of Oz (Dorothy must die) by Danielle Paige

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Finally! I’ve been waiting to read this book for MONTHS. To finally find out what happens to Amy and Dorothy, to the witches and the fairies, to the Nome King and of course Oz itself.

I have to say I am thoroughly satisfied with this series. It felt more like a TV show of episodes than a book series, with cliffhanger endings and little resolution, but that’s not a bad thing. I enjoyed every single one of them and the story, while over, is still open for us to imagine more.

But, back to this book. If you’ve read the others in the series, you’d be surprised to find yourself reading parts from Dorothy’s POV. It definitely raised my eyebrow. I have to say, though, I really liked her conniving ways, and wish we saw her voice in the earlier books. I’m sure it was something Paige realized too late, but I’m glad she decided to go for it anyway.

I enjoyed getting to know a whole new world. Ev felt like a sexy secret vampire lair type world below while also being a Mad Max type of world above. The imagination behind this writing is incredible. Every creature seemed thought out and beautiful and terrifying. The smallest details bring them to life. I’ve never read books that put that much thought into the scenery and its denizens while not making it feel too descriptive.

Overall, a great series, and one I’m happy to finally complete. The books are short but each one brings something to the table. I truly wish to see this made into a movie.

Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak

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You guys…I think I’m getting older.

Even a few years ago I wouldn’t have picked up an adult family drama to save my life.

And yet, seeing this on my NetGalley email, something told me I should.

And oh my God was it good.

I devoured this book. When I was doing other things, like working or cleaning or cooking dinner, I was thinking about the next time I can pick it up so I can see what happens. It’s that good.

Now, after finishing it, I’m still digesting all the wonderful and emotional feelings that it brought. The distinctly British-style writing, the twists and turns, the coincidences of a well-thought-out plot. I think I smiled through half of it just imagining all the big reveals, and the satisfaction they brought was perfect.

So what does this mean?

I think it means it’s time for me to expand my horizons. I’ve been missing out. And if you don’t read this book, you’d be missing out too.

 

A huge thanks to NetGalley for letting me read this ARC!

Yellow Brick War (Dorothy Must Die #3) by Danielle Paige

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Why did I think this was the last book?

I think the better question is, why wasn’t this the last book?

As much as I love how short and sweet the books in this series are, I think this one was even more filler than the last one. We spend half the book in Kansas, looking for a magical pair of shoes, and then half the book in OZ, not killing Dorothy (again). Oh and there’s a new villain or something who pops up here and there. This could have easily been part 2 of book 2, and then we would have had a much more rounded story to lead us into the last part (which is on my to-read after A Court of Wings and Ruin).

Not that I didn’t enjoy reading it. Paige’s writing just sucks me in so bad. I love the ever-changing dynamic of the characters and their relationships. I love being on the inside of Amy’s mind while at the same time feeling like I’m also on the inside of everyone else’s mind too. It’s fantastic. I’m excited to see how this series ends, I’m just glad I didn’t start it when book 1 came out and had to wait for each book because I would have been quite disappointed in the lack of progression.

Overall, a good continuation of the story that leaves you yearning for more.

Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg

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One thing I can get behind is trying to get behind a label. When people see you as a geek/queer/jock/whatever, they see what those labels define, not the actual person beneath them. Once you fall into one, it’s branded on you until you do something drastic to change it.

How many of us wished we could just start over? Leave our old lives behind and be someone new? That’s what this book is about.

It’s also about the fact that you can’t. Making new friends doesn’t change who you are. Trying new activities doesn’t make you stop liking your old ones. You can always better yourself, but if you’re lying and repressing your true feelings then it’s not worth it.

Openly Straight was the kind of book that comes with a message, and it’s not afraid to show it. Not a ‘gay is ok’ message, but a ‘the only person who cares about your image is you’ message. How you see yourself is half of how others see you.

I have to say, I really enjoyed this book, the story is interesting and engaging and fun to read, but for some reason I couldn’t quite connect with the characters, aside from Ben. They all felt so judgmental. It didn’t matter which label they were on, they all judged others based on theirs. Even at the end, Rafe (the MC) has his revelations and still (subconsciously?) criticizes his ex-friends for being who they are. It was a bit off-putting. Still, Rafe did accept responsibility for his actions, and that’s what matters.

Overall, it’s a great book for teens, and I would recommend it to anyone struggling with self-identity, queer or not.

The Wicked Will Rise (Dorothy Must Die #2) by Danielle Paige

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I wasn’t going to read this so soon, but I’m a sucker for shorter books and this one was the shortest on my Kindle.

The weird thing about it is that after finishing, I realized there were only six total scenes. No, really, I went back and counted. This was a filler book in a trilogy, one that progressed the characters over plot, giving us insights into Amy and Pete and Oz in general. However – it was six scenes. It’s like ordering a meal and getting an appetizer. Delicious, sure, but not exactly what I paid for.

Still, I really enjoyed it. I loved Paige’s writing, especially the constant similes and pop-culture references she makes. I could read her books just for the feel of how connected she is to the world. She writes and I go ‘oh my God that’s amazing, how did she think of that?’

Her descriptions really put me in the story, wishing so much I actually was in the story. I saw it and smelled it and felt it. I loved the island of lost things and the fog of doubt and the absurd monkey palace. I know there’s a TV show coming out called Emerald City and I had to go check what book it was based on because I would love to see this series become a motion picture. It’s already halfway there.

Oh, and that last book? Already on it.

Basically, this book is great if you want to read something fantastical, but it won’t answer any of your questions from book one, only lead you into book three. I can’t wait to finally see where it all ends up.

Worst. Superhero. Ever. and Other Odd Short Stories by Scott Baron

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Expect the unexpected.

‘Odd’ is definitely a great way to describe these short stories, but not in a bad way. They’re quirky, fun, and hard to put down.

Worst. Superhero. Ever. is about a guy with super powers who just can’t get it right. He’s the Bizarro to your Superman, but also a very relate-able person. I could see this being a TV show.

One Last Fix is, as you might guess, about a kind of drug, but never in a million years would you guess what.

The Lesbian Farmers of Quagshire is an interesting take on a possible future. I wanted to like it more, but homophobia always gives me a bad feeling, despite the nice twist.

Huh was the most unexpected and intriguing. I can’t even say anything because it would spoil the surprise. I loved it.

If you have a half hour to spare, these stories are worth a read. I still think back on them here and there, and chuckle to myself. Definitely an author to keep tabs on.