Tag: epic reads

Dorothy’s Back in Oz: Review–Dorothy Must Die (2014) by Danielle Paige

Dorothy’s Back in Oz: Review–Dorothy Must Die (2014) by Danielle PaigeDorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige
Published by Harper Collins on April 1st 2014
Genres: Action & Adventure, Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 464

Suggested age range: 13 and up

The Book: Oz is not the place you remember. When Dorothy returns to Oz a second time (read No Place Like Oz, the prequel novella), the power of magic starts to go to her head. Eventually, this leads her to displace Ozma as ruler, and give powerful roles to the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodsman, and the Lion. Basically, Dorothy begins to do pretty bad things, and her supporting trio also joins in. They take part in horrible acts perpetuated against the citizens of Oz, and the land becomes a place that is slowly being sucked of its magic. All for Dorothy. So, when Amy Gumm arrives in Oz after a tornado hits her trailer park in Kansas, she’s surprised at what she discovers. She is also not expecting to be told that she may be the only one who can save Oz. She’ll just have to accomplish a few tasks: Steal the scarecrow’s brain. Get the tin woodman’s heart. Grab the lion’s courage. And then, kill Dorothy.

Spirituality in Dorothy Must Die: There is a spiritual dimension to some YA books that I recognized in this dark Oz retelling. It’s tied up in the way the protagonist reacts to injustice and strives to do the right thing, even under pressure. Even though Amy is told to stay focused on one thing, and one thing alone, she doesn’t hesitate to diverge from the course when she is offered the chance to save a life. I recognized a sensitivity in Amy, even under her hard shell, to the suffering going on around her. Certainly, there are consequences to Amy making decisions to diverge from the path when she is told differently, but I admired her compassion and her strength that is prevalent throughout the story.

Who Should Read This Book: Any Wizard of Oz fans out there? You must read this! It’s simple really. Just grab the book, open, and begin! If you enjoyed any of Gregoy Maguires books (Wicked, etc.), then there’s a good chance you will like this book. Be prepared, however—this is going to be a trilogy, and while Paige does provide a good conclusion, in my mind, you are certainly left wishing you could continue the journey in Oz.

The Final Word: Did I really just read this book right after it was published? Do I really have to probably wait a whole year for the sequel? The answer is yes and yes. I love all things Oz-related, so you can imagine my excitement at reading this twisted Oz reworking. Paige has really done it with this one—it has action, introspection, drama, mystery, and intrigue. You may never look at Oz the same way again. And that’s ok. But it really is a pity we have to wait a year for the sequel. One reassuring thought, however, is that you can sink your teeth into the prequel, No Place Like Oz, after reading Dorothy Must Die. No vampires included.


What Katie Read

Compassion & Love in 1930s Munich: Prisoner of Night and Fog (2014) by Anne Blankman

Compassion & Love in 1930s Munich: Prisoner of Night and Fog (2014) by Anne BlankmanPrisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman
Published by Harper Collins on April 22nd 2014
Genres: Europe, Historical Fiction, Holocaust, People & Places, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 416

Suggested age range: 13 and up

The Book: Gretchen is living in 1930s Munich—a time of rapid change, uncertainty, and darkness. Though her father is dead and she misses him terribly, Gretchen goes to school and dreams of one day becoming a doctor. She is adored by her “Uncle Dolf”, a close family friend…who just happens to be Hitler. And he is growing in power. It isn’t until Gretchen receives a message from a Jewish reporter about her father’s death that she begins to question all she has been led to believe about Uncle Dolf and what is happening in Germany. What begins as a search for information about what happened to her father turns into a dangerous and risky adventure that will affect Gretchen and her family far more than she thought.

Spirituality in Prisoner of Night and Fog: One reason why I appreciate books set during World War II so much is because of the way these stories often illuminate the simple bravery, compassion, and love found within people. Though there is also the very real juxtaposition of the battle between good and evil in such stories, these books highlight how people make sacrifices for one another, sometimes even for people they don’t know, because it is simply “the right thing to do.” This story expertly depicts how a person might be raised with a particular worldview, but that perspective can either deepen or change as other viewpoints come into focus. Gretchen’s character reflects someone who desires to connect meaningfully with others, and is not afraid to go after what is right.

Who Should Read This Book: If you liked The Book Thief or Code Name Verity or just a good historical novel with intrigue, suspense, and some romance, you should certainly pick up this new release by Blankman. I read this in one afternoon, and was thinking about the book for several days afterwards. What would it have been like to be a family member or close friend of Hitler’s? From the first page, readers will be drawn into an exciting story set within a turbulent and significant time in history.

The Final Word: I loved this book! It was one of my highly anticipated releases by a debut author for 2014, and I was not disappointed. I read the book as part of Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-a-Thon and I would have read it all in one day, even if I hadn’t participated in the read-a-thon. The pace of the story was perfect, and the development of Gretchen’s character was not too rushed. I was very interested in her as a character—Blankman has created a female protagonist whose story I am anxious to know about when the next installment is released.


What Katie Read

#AtoZchallenge: “P” is for Prisoner of Night and Fog (2014) by Anne Blankman

What would you do if your uncle was none other than…Adolf Hitler??

That is exactly the case for Gretchen Muller, the protagonist of Anne Blankman’s Prisoner of Night and Fog (Balzer & Bray), which will be in bookstores on Tuesday, April 22nd!!!

Today’s post is highlighting the novel, since it is one of my anticipated releases for 2014. Historical fiction is a favorite genre of mine, especially novels set during World War II. Some of my favorites include The Book Thief, The Devil’s Arithmetic, Number the Stars, and Tamar (The Invisible Bridge is a favorite in the adult genre). I am currently brainstorming a future research project on how reading and responding to historical fiction might nurture the spirituality of young readers and help them to be grow in empathy.

I’m very excited about reading this novel by Anne Blankman and am happy April 22nd is just around the corner!

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Here’s the GoodReads summary:

“In 1930s Munich, danger lurks behind dark corners, and secrets are buried deep within the city. But Gretchen Müller, who grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her “uncle” Dolf, has been shielded from that side of society ever since her father traded his life for Dolf’s, and Gretchen is his favorite, his pet.

Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler.

And Gretchen follows his every command.

Until she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen. Gretchen should despise Daniel, yet she can’t stop herself from listening to his story: that her father, the adored Nazi martyr, was actually murdered by an unknown comrade. She also can’t help the fierce attraction brewing between them, despite everything she’s been taught to believe about Jews.

As Gretchen investigates the very people she’s always considered friends, she must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she choose the safety of her former life as a Nazi darling, or will she dare to dig up the truth—even if it could get her and Daniel killed?

From debut author Anne Blankman comes this harrowing and evocative story about an ordinary girl faced with the extraordinary decision to give up everything she’s ever believed . . . and to trust her own heart instead.”

Are you planning to read this next week? What is your favorite historical novel for children or YA set during World War II?

What Katie Read
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