Book Review ~ ‘Anatomy of a Darkened Heart’ by Christie Stratos.

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Anatomy of a Darkened Heart by Christie Stratos
(Dark Victoriana Collection #1)
Genres: Historical, Psychological
Release Date: 18th September 2015.

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SYNOPSIS

A pair of eyes underlined in weary darkness and punctuated with a knowing stare. These are not the normal eyes of a newborn baby. Abigail Delilah is the firstborn of three Whitestone children – and she is the most regretted.

But is it really her fault?

She can’t help that the revelation of Father’s wretched secret coincides with her birth. She can’t help the fear she feels during Mother’s psychological – and physical – assaults. As the shadows grow stronger over her soul and the noose of pain tightens around her neck, Abigail will find out which is stronger: her family’s wicked assumptions about her or her true self.

Take your first step into the Dark Victoriana Collection with Anatomy of a Darkened Heart.

Multi-layered with motifs, symbolism, and psychological depth, this tale of dark Victoriana will appeal to the literary reader and the leisure reader alike, combining key facets of several popular genres. And don’t be afraid to get addicted – the collection continues exploring the intertwining threads that weave together the complex tapestry of the Whitestone legacy.

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Book Review ~ ‘Anatomy of a Darkened Heart’ by Christie Stratos ~ 5 Stars!

Warning: DO NOT READ THIS BOOK BEFORE GOING TO SLEEP!

Wow! ‘Anatomy of a Darkened Heart’ had all my favourite things; Psychology, Darkness and the Victorian Times, and boy was this dark! But not in the way you’d expect. This is sheer awesome psychological darkness that makes you shiver, because it makes you think about whether this could happen to you!

Bringing together some of the common myths, fears and rituals of the time in which it is set, ‘Anatomy of a Darkened Heart’ is rich in historical detail, whilst making the setting seem as normal to us as our own everyday. I felt like I was there in the Whitestones’ house, and experiencing the fear and hysteria that was running rampant.

Abigail was a fantastic character that I really enjoyed getting to know. Like the rest of her family, she is deeply flawed, but it is the way in which she embodies her flaws that makes her perhaps the most terrifying of the characters. Throughout I was drawn to the thought that if her mother had loved her, not rejected her believing she was cursed, or if she had been a boy, and accepted immediately by her father, whether her life would have been so destructive. I loved how it dealt with this issue, as we see her brother and sister thrive in a place where she is constantly trampled.

Although playing with the idea of spirituality, ghosts and curses, ‘Anatomy of a Darkened Heart’ is primarily a story about the evils of humans, and that is what made me sit awake all night, jumping at sounds. It makes you nervous, it makes you think, and it makes you remember in terror.

Incredibly well written, ‘Anatomy of a Darkened Heart’ is not one to miss!

5 Stars!


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Christie Stratos

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Book Review ~ ‘Butterfly Dreams’ by A. Meredith Walters.

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Butterfly Dreams by A. Meredith Walters
Genres: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Release Date: 24th November 2015.

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SYNOPSIS

In a powerful romance for fans of The Fault in Our Stars and If I StayNew York Times bestselling author A. Meredith Walters tells the story of a troubled young woman and the unforgettable guy who teaches her to live—and love—to the fullest.

She’s waiting to die. . . . Corin Thompson is paralyzed by her obsession with mortality. Having lost both of her parents, she is terrified by the idea that she too will die young, and she loses control at any sign of illness. But when Corin connects with someone who has survived a very real brush with death, she begins to see the world in a whole new way.

He’s learning to live. . . . As Corin struggles under the weight of her neuroses, Beckett Kingsley is attempting to rebuild a life that feels all too temporary. With the ever-present threat of heart failure never far from his mind, he just wants to make the most of whatever time he has left. And that means pursuing the girl he never expected to find.

Together, Corin and Beckett finally learn to let go of their fears and take solace in everyday pleasures. Who knows what the future holds? After all, nothing lasts forever—the only promise they have is right now.

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Book Review ~ ‘Butterfly Dreams’ by A. Meredith Walters ~ 5 Stars!

How beautifully heartfelt and wonderful this book was! I’m a huge fan of A. Meredith Walters, so with each new book I read by her, I always start with a slither of doubt. What if this book isn’t as amazing as her others? But I needn’t have feared, as although ‘Butterfly Dreams’ was unique and different as they all are, it was as gorgeous as I hoped it would be.

Corin was a heroine that I think many people will identify with. She is controlled by fear, like many of us are, but on a level that we may not know exists. Corin is brave in her own way, even in her moments of weakness. She is confronted with the expectation of death everyday, and to have lived her life through such a debilitating mental illness shows just how strong she is to have come so far. The psychological elements of this book were written to perfection. I loved the descriptions of Corin’s anxiety being like butterflies, only ones that consume her whole being, rather than those that give a warm feeling. Her thought processes were so intriguing and I really loved getting the nitty gritty of her illness and learning alongside her, what caused it and how she could overcome it.

Beckett was the best hero for Corin. His development throughout the novel was one that was intrinsicly linked with Corin’s. With every move he made to come to terms with his heart condition, he helped Corin come to terms with her fear of dying, and of living life to the full. It was a heartbreaking, yet warming relationship, that bought tears to my eyes on more than one occasion.

This is a beautiful work of art, written in a style that is both contemporary and hypnotic. I finished ‘Butterfly Dreams’ in one sitting, because it didn’t even occur to me to put it down. I was engrossed and I had the journey of a lifetime.

5 Stars!


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A. Meredith Walters

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Book Review ~ ‘Cross Stitch’ by Amanda James.

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Cross Stitch by Amanda James
(Needler #2)
Genres: Romance, Adult, Time-Travel.
Publisher: Choc Lit
Release Date: December 9th 2014.

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SYNOPSIS

A stitch in time may save nine but a cross-stitch spells disaster …
It should be the happiest day of her life. Despite past heartache, Sarah Yates is finally marrying her true love, John Needler.
But Sarah and John can’t pretend they’re an ordinary couple. They’re time travellers and where time travel is involved, nothing runs smoothly. One minute Sarah is saying her vows and the next she is hurtled back in time to a country that is on the cusp of war, and into the company of the bad-tempered Veronica Ratchet.
Newly-wedded bliss is certainly not on the cards for Sarah as events see her travelling from the British punk era to 1950’s America. And even when she returns home she can’t escape Veronica.
But when the past and the present collide, that’s when the real problems start …

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Book Review ~ ‘Cross Stitch’ by Amanda James ~ 5 Stars!

It’s been a couple of years since I read ‘A Stitch in Time’, so I made the decision to re-read the first book before moving onto ‘Cross Stitch’. In doing so, I’ve had the most wonderful couple of days reimersing myself in John and Sarah’s world, laughing along with their banter, and nervously witnessing Sarah’s trips to the past. I’d definitely recommend making a reading marathon out of the two books one after the other, as you just become a part of the Stitch and Needler world, and I was more than happy to get lost in it.

‘Cross Stitch’ had the same essence to ‘A Stitch in Time’, a brilliant underlying level of humour, and a sweet tenderness that tugged at my heartstrings. I loved seeing John and Sarah in their happily ever after, and how Sarah’s decision to continuing stitching at the end of Book 1, influenced her relationship with John throughout Book 2.

I particularly loved Veronica. A brilliant portrayal of a WWII teacher, Veronica was gutsy, stubborn and more than a little strict. The stark contrast between her and Sarah’s relationship with students was great to see, and really showed how different education has changed in the last seventy years! Veronica’s character development was also spectacular, seeing first hand the experience that another Stitch had when they started their life-style was really wonderful, and I loved seeing how they saved people in a way that was natural to them; Sarah with a quick initiative, and Veronica with a no-nonsense manner.

Amanda James really packed the emotion into ‘Cross Stitch’, and there are some brilliant scenes where we see how Sarah isn’t as unaffected with her trips to the past as she may always show. Her desperation to have a child, and her pain at leaving having to leave Artie in the previous book, all make an appearance here too, which allows for some great development into her character and in her relationship with John.

Gorgeously romantic, ‘Cross Stitch’ was everything I hoped for in a sequel to ‘A Stitch in Time’.

5 Stars!

*Review copy was kindly provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review*


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Amanda James

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Cover Reveal ~ ‘Wrapped in Lace’ by Prescott Lane.

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Wrapped in Lace by Prescott Lane
Genre: Contemporary Romance (Holiday)
Series: Standalone
Release Day: November 2nd

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SYNOPSIS

When I was a little boy, the best thing about the holiday season was unwrapping presents on Christmas morning — tearing off the paper and tossing it on the floor. Now that I’m a man, I like to unwrap slowly, deliberately, taking my time to savor what lies before me. I still like to throw the wrapping on the floor, but now I know the best gifts come wrapped in lace.

And unlike when I was a kid, I won’t get sick of this present by New Year’s. I’ll definitely be playing with this girl day after day after day.

After six years avoiding my hometown, the last thing I expected when I returned was a wannabe bad girl to unwrap my heart and rip open my soul. But that’s exactly what happened. Now if I can just get the hell out of my own way, maybe I’ll finally get the best gift of all — her!

Come get unwrapped by Drew this holiday.

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I sat back and studied the canvas.  Id finally gotten it right the way his lips turn up in that smile that makes both my heart and panties melt.  It had taken me over a dozen tries to get it just perfect, but I finally had.  Unfortunately, I didnt feel any better.  I thought if I could capture Drews smile on my canvas, my pain would somehow lessen.  Because Id always have his image, that his leaving me wouldnt hurt so bad.  It hadnt worked.  The pain in my heart was just as sharp, just as overwhelming as it was yesterday and the day before.  I knew Id never get over him.  I knew it like I knew the deep blue color of his eyes, the rough spots on his hands.  I knew it like I knew the way his lips tasted, the feel of his thick brown hair.


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PerfectlyBroken

Perfectly Broken  

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First Position  

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Quiet Angel

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Prescott Lane

Prescott Lane is the author of First Position, Perfectly Broken, and her new release, Quiet Angel. She is originally from Little Rock, Arkansas, and graduated from Centenary College with a degree in sociology. She went on to receive her MSW from Tulane University, after which she worked with developmentally delayed and disabled children. She married her college sweetheart, and they currently live in New Orleans with their two children and two crazy dogs. Prescott started writing at the age of five, and sold her first story about a talking turtle to her father for a quarter. She later turned to writing romance novels because there aren’t enough happily ever afters in real life.


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Happily Ever Afters Guaranteed.

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Book Review ~ ‘The Japanese Lover’ by Isabel Allende.

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The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende.
Genres: Historical, Contemporary Romance.
Release Date: 3rd November 2015.
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK.

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SYNOPSIS

From New York Times and internationally bestselling author Isabel Allende, an exquisitely crafted love story and multigenerational epic that sweeps from San Francisco in the present-day to Poland and the United States during the Second World War.

In 1939, as Poland falls under the shadow of the Nazis, young Alma Belasco’s parents send her away to live in safety with an aunt and uncle in their opulent mansion in San Francisco. There, as the rest of the world goes to war, she encounters Ichimei Fukuda, the quiet and gentle son of the family’s Japanese gardener. Unnoticed by those around them, a tender love affair begins to blossom. Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the two are cruelly pulled apart as Ichimei and his family, like thousands of other Japanese Americans are declared enemies and forcibly relocated to internment camps run by the United States government. Throughout their lifetimes, Alma and Ichimei reunite again and again, but theirs is a love that they are forever forced to hide from the world.

Decades later, Alma is nearing the end of her long and eventful life. Irina Bazili, a care worker struggling to come to terms with her own troubled past, meets the elderly woman and her grandson, Seth, at San Francisco’s charmingly eccentric Lark House nursing home. As Irina and Seth forge a friendship, they become intrigued by a series of mysterious gifts and letters sent to Alma, eventually learning about Ichimei and this extraordinary secret passion that has endured for nearly seventy years.

Sweeping through time and spanning generations and continents, The Japanese Lover explores questions of identity, abandonment, redemption, and the unknowable impact of fate on our lives. Written with the same attention to historical detail and keen understanding of her characters that Isabel Allende has been known for since her landmark first novel The House of the SpiritsThe Japanese Lover is a profoundly moving tribute to the constancy of the human heart in a world of unceasing change.

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Book Review ~ ‘The Japanese Lover’ by Isabel Allende ~ 5 Stars!

At its heart ‘The Japanese Lover’ is a story about love. Not just romantic, but all the types of love in the world; the love of a lover; a friend; family; acquaintances; mentors – it portrays them all, and you are left with that feeling of satisfaction as you turn the last page and think over the strength of the bonds the characters you have come to know have for each other.

I absolutely adored ‘The Japanese Lover’. There is something about Isabel Allende’s stunning writing that made it not just a historical romance, but instead a magical journey where I actually saw the places and people being described, and could feel the connection they all shared.

Beautifully crafted, The Japanese Lover takes you across the globe, and across time. I have a special place in my heart for World War fiction, and the way that Allende described the actions of the Americans due to their fear of the Japanese migrants was fascinating. I learnt so much from this book about the war that I never had before, all through her lyrical storytelling, which made it even more real than reading it in a historical textbook.

Alma is a character that you have to work to love. She can be difficult and stubborn, yet Allende developed her character brilliantly, by giving us glimpses into the past to see how she’d grown up, and the people she loved throughout her adult years. Most of all we see the strength of her relationship with four very different people; Nathaniel, Ichimei, Seth and Irina and come to see that love can take many different forms.

The story of Irina and Seth is also beautifully told and is woven brilliantly between the passages of the past, mimicking the detective work they are doing to uncover Alma’s past.

A beautiful story which spans decades.

5 Stars!

*Review copy was kindly provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review*


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Isabel Allende

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Book Review ~ ‘The Lost Girl’ by Liz Harris.

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The Lost Girl by Liz Harris
Genres: Historical, Western, Romance
Publisher: ChocLit
Release Date: 16th October 2015.

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SYNOPSIS

What if you were trapped between two cultures?

Life is tough in 1870s Wyoming. But it’s tougher still when you’re a girl who looks Chinese but speaks like an American.

Orphaned as a baby and taken in by an American family, Charity Walker knows this only too well. The mounting tensions between the new Chinese immigrants and the locals in the mining town of Carter see her shunned by both communities.

When Charity’s one friend, Joe, leaves town, she finds herself isolated. However, in his absence, a new friendship with the only other Chinese girl in Carter makes her feel like she finally belongs somewhere.

But, for a lost girl like Charity, finding a place to call home was never going to be that easy …

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Book Review ~ ‘The Lost Girl’ by Liz Harris ~ 5 Stars!

Liz Harris has delivered a beautifully portrayed romance of two people of different cultures, at a time of racial, and cultural unrest. I adored Liz Harris’ novel ‘The Road Back’, and with ‘The Lost Girl’, Harris has again shone with her portrayal of an American raised Chinese girl ‘Charity’ and the struggles she has in finding herself when she is neither purely American, nor purely Chinese.

Charity was a brilliant heroine, and what I loved especially was seeing how she developed as she grew up. Instead of starting the novel when Charity was in her late teens, we are instead introduced to Charity as a baby, when young Joe takes the orphan home to his family, and from this we see her struggles as she grows up, shunned by Americans for the colour of her skin, and shunned by the Chinese, as she is not as a ‘Good Chinese Girl’ should be. By the time we see Charity as a teenager, I was able to understand her choices in a way I wouldn’t have had I not witnessed her home life growing up. I really loved the scenes with Sin Lu and Chen Fai, especially how they interacted with Charity in English that improved over the years, whilst contrasting with the brewing hate of the miners for the Chinese in their town.

This story is one of a growing love, and I adored seeing Joe and Charity reconnect after he had left home for seven years. Their relationship was a special one, and I felt so strongly for Joe when he wanted the best for Charity, even though knowing that might not be with him. There are some issues that are dealt with brilliantly in this book; the cultural unrest where the miners grew to hate the Chinese for their taking lower wages, leading a knock-on effect of the miners having lower wages too; the difference in day-to-day life in cultures, and the festivals and rituals of the Chinese compared to the Americans. All this was rich with historical detail, and I felt as though I was there in the story, learning alongside Charity.

This is a gorgeous tale of a forbidden love that grows from childhood, the dangers of a love unrequited, and the strength of belief in your culture in times of upheaval.

5 Stars!


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Book Review ~ ‘The Wicked Will Rise’ by Danielle Paige.

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The Wicked Will Rise by Danielle Paige
(Dorothy Must Die #2)
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Release Date: March 31st 2015.

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SYNOPSIS

In this dark, high-octane sequel to the New York Times bestselling Dorothy Must Die, Amy Gumm must do everything in her power to kill Dorothy and free Oz.

To make Oz a free land again, Amy Gumm was given a mission: remove the Tin Woodman’s heart, steal the Scarecrow’s brain, take the Lion’s courage, and then Dorothy must die…

But Dorothy still lives. Now the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked has vanished, and mysterious Princess Ozma might be Amy’s only ally. As Amy learns the truth about her mission, she realizes that she’s only just scratched the surface of Oz’s past—and that Kansas, the home she couldn’t wait to leave behind, may also be in danger. In a place where the line between good and evil shifts with just a strong gust of wind, who can Amy trust—and who is really Wicked?

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Book Review ~ ‘The Wicked Will Rise’ by Danielle Paige ~ 5 Stars!

Smart, funny and electric, this follow-up to ‘Dorothy Must Die’ embodies everything I loved about the first book, and kicks away the little errors that I’d noticed in its predecessor. What keeps me reading above all else, is the storytelling, and I read this is one sitting as I was just so engrossed in the story that Paige was telling. I loved the world that she had taken and twisted, and given a whole new dimension to. Whilst Oz is not her creation, she still made it fresh, and made it her own. This is particularly noticeable in ‘The Wicked Will Rise’ as Amy’s adventure takes her away from the Emerald City and into territory that is new to us.

I loved how Amy’s character has developed over the two books so far. Her quirky asides, whilst still present, were more focused, which brilliantly highlighted how focused she had become as a person and on her mission as a whole. At first her sarcasm was a protective shield against the harshness of the world, but as she became stronger throughout this book, her wit became stronger and more grounded, whilst still remaining the same Amy Gumm that we loved at heart.

And Nox. *sigh* Oh Nox, how I love your bad boy awkwardness. The tension built brilliantly between Amy and Nox and I was desperate for more. Danielle Paige does a great job at hooking you in, and you will happily wait any length of time to see your favourite characters because you just know that their story will be told with justice.

‘The Wicked Will Rise’ ends with another cliffhanger, and wow was it a brilliant one! I have so many questions, and the story has taken an even darker turn, which I was not expecting, and I can’t even begin to guess where the story will go next.

A brilliant job!

5 stars.

*Review copy was kindly provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review*


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Dorothy Must Die Stories
(Dorothy Must Die Prequels #0.1-#0.3)

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Long before Amy Gumm got swept away from a Kansas trailer park…Dorothy Gale received a package on the night of her 16th birthday: a pair of red high-heeled shoes. Dear Dorothy, the note read. I thought about silver to match the ones you lost, but in the end I decided that red was more your color. I think you know what to do with them.

And with a knock of her heels, Dorothy returned to the magical land that made her a star—and Oz would never be the same again.

This bind-up of three prequel novellas to the New York Times bestselling Dorothy Must Die series follows Dorothy Gale as she transforms from good girl to Wicked Witch. Kiss the land where troubles melt like lemon drops goodbye. Here there’s danger around every corner, and magical shoes won’t be able to save you.

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Dorothy Must Die
(Dorothy Must Die #1)

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I didn’t ask for any of this. I didn’t ask to be some kind of hero.

But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado – taking you with it – you have no choice but to go along, you know?

Sure, I’ve read the books. I’ve seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little bluebirds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can’t be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There’s still a yellow brick road – but even that’s crumbling.

What happened? Dorothy.

They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe.

My name is Amy Gumm – and I’m the other girl from Kansas.

I’ve been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked.

I’ve been trained to fight.

And I have a mission.

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Yellow Brick War
(Dorothy Must Die #3)

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SYNOPSIS

In this dark, action-packed third book in the New York Times bestselling Dorothy Must Die series, Amy Gumm—the new girl from Kansas—must do everything in her power to save Kansas, kill Dorothy, and make Oz a free land once more.

Amy Gumm’s mission to take down Dorothy Gale is not going according to plan. Dorothy has found a way to bridge the worlds of Oz and Kansas, and if the power-hungry dictator of Oz has her way, Kansas will be destroyed forever. Now, Amy has to team up with the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked to save her home, restore the balance between the magic and nonmagic worlds, maybe get the guy—and kill that not-so-sweet Kansas farm girl once and for all.

In the third installment of the New York Times bestselling Dorothy Must Die series, Danielle Paige’s twisted versions of beloved Oz characters are back, including the biggest, baddest, most famous of all: the Wicked Witch of the West.

Welcome to the other side of the rainbow. Here there’s danger around every corner, and magic shoes won’t be able to save you.

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