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Book Review: Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau

Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau is a coming of age novel taking place in Baltimore, Maryland. During the 1970's, fourteen year old Mary Jane is caught in the middle of her family's conservative ideals and the progressive ideals of the Cone family where she is a summer nanny. Mary Jane is a sheltered teen who enjoys cooking with her mother, listening to Broadway Show Tunes, and singing in the church choir. On the first day of work, she is shocked at the mess in the Cone's home and introduces them to home cooked meals and keeping the house clean. In return, Mary Jane gets a front row seat to sex, drugs, and rock & roll. This novel was the selected for the book club I belong to. Again, this is a novel that I likely wouldn't have chosen to read on my own, but I was glad I did. Mary Jane is the first novel I've read by Jessica Anya Blau, and I was impressed with her storytelling.  Touching on race, class, and stereotypes, along with drugs and infidelity, it reminded

Book Review: Dorothy Must Die (Dorothy Must Die Series, #1) by Danielle Paige


Dorothy Must Die Series #1
 
When my mom raved about the first book in the Dorothy Must Die Series by Danielle Paige, aptly named Dorothy Must Die, I was definitely interested in reading the series. At the time, I had a lot of books on my to be read pile, so I put off reading it. A few months ago, the site BookBub.com sent me an email with books that were on sale. Lo and behold, Dorothy Must Die (Dorothy Must Die Series, #1) by Danielle Paige was one of the ebooks on sale, so I decided to purchase the book. I finally decided to read it, and I was not enthralled with it at all.

I'm not sure what I expected from Dorothy Must Die (Dorothy Must Die Series, #1) other than I knew it would be a retelling of sorts of The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. Let me begin by saying that I'm not offended by foul language in the least, but seeing as this book series is targeted towards teens, I was caught off guard by the amount of curse words. Yeah, yeah, yeah . . . I know teenagers tend to curse a lot, and I guess the author was trying to appeal to them with the language. I know a lot of parents don't care if the book is age appropriate for their children and let them read whatever they want, but I definitely would recommend that children under the age of 11 not read this book just because of the language used.

When Amy Gumm landed in the land of Oz after the tornado, I was sure she was dreaming. However, the further I read on, the more unsure I was that she was actually dreaming. The reason I thought she was dreaming at first is that it always seemed that her injuries magically healed themselves. Time will only tell when I read the sequels. One thing that really bothered me was what I consider to be an editing oversight . . . in the third chapter, Amy talks about how sore she was from her fall into Oz, but in the next chapter, she tells us that she was "free of bruises, aches, and pains". Then, she goes on to say that her headache had subsided. These contradictions frustrated me a lot.

Wicked witches aren't supposed to work together.
But that was before Dorothy.
The above quote was one of my favorite quotes of the entire book and pretty much sums up the story line into one concise statement. Dorothy had returned to Oz and turned into an evil person, and now the wicked witches were now "good witches". I really hated that the author turned Dorothy into the bad guy. In fact, all the good guys in the original series have been turned into the bad guys. It definitely puts a cloud over how I think of the movie The Wizard of Oz. I haven't read any of the original books, but Dorothy Must Die (Dorothy Must Die Series, #1) has definitely renewed my interested in picking up Baum's books.
 
One thing I absolutely hated about this book is all the torture that was inflicted on quite a few of the characters, especially when some of the animals were tortured. This is another reason why I wouldn't let children under the age of eleven read this book. If it bothered me as an adult, I hate to think how it would affect young children.

At first, I wasn't all that enthralled with Dorothy Must Die, but the more I read, the more I wanted to know what happened. It definitely redeemed itself as it went along, and I now want to know what happens. For that reason, I bumped my score up to three out of five stars.

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