Splintered Series Review

125582851744919722447220Titles: Splintered, Unhinged, Ensnared

Author: A. G. Howard

Publication dates: 2013-2015

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy Retelling

Synopsis: Alyssa Gardener has always been afraid of ending up in an asylum like her mother who spends her days having tea parties, talking to the bugs, and dressed like Alice from Lewis Carroll’s book. This “curse” has afflicted Alyssa’s family ever since her ancestor, Alice Liddell herself, inspired Carroll’s novel.

When Alyssa’s mother’s mental health becomes so bad the only option is electroconvolsive therapy Alyssa learns Wonderland is a real place. Desperate for another solution to her mother’s mental health and to prevent herself from ending up there herself she must travel into Wonderland and complete a series of tests to break the curse Alice brought upon her decedents.

Review: I had a hard time getting into the first book, but ultimately really enjoyed it. The story begins by talking about our protagonist’s use of bugs in artwork. Being not too fond of bugs myself, I found this habit creepy rather than endearing.

The world-building in this series is a lot of fun. A. G. Howard’s vision of Wonderland was rich and well imagined. I liked how it was essentially a blend of Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland with fairies, but not Disney fairies, the tricky, untrustworthy type.

Due to this fairy element this series reminds me of The Iron Fey. I read the first book of The Iron Fey, The Iron King, after having read the first two books in this series and was immediately struck by the simulates. This is not to say the two books are copies of one anther, both series draw on much of the same mythology and it is likely their similarities occurred merely by chance.

My biggest pet peeve in this series was the love triangle. It was practically a constant competition between the main character’s two love interests to the point that it often overshadowed the plot, particularly in the third book.

The family dynamic in this book was great. In too much YA the main characters family and the rest of his/her life before are entirely neglected by the author as though they never occurred at all. In this book, however, the main character’s family life and personal history were what set the plot in motion.

In the second book I wanted to see more of Wonderland. Much of the book took place on Earth which I didn’t care about too much. Unhinged, unlike the first book, drew me in almost at once, and kept my attention.

The final book in this series was too focused on the love triangle for my liking, though I enjoyed the world-building and getting to see new places like I’d wanted more of in book two. I still enjoyed Ensnared, just not as much as the first two.

Favorite Quote: “Tearing down the rest of the world won’t make you happy. Look inside yourself. Because finding who you were meant to be? What you were put into this world to do? That’s what fills the emptiness. It’s the only things that can.”
― A.G. Howard, Splintered

What Readers Should Know: There are some references to sex, and some of the characters sleep beside one another in bed together but no sex actually occurs. There is some cursing but it is infrequent and PG-13. There are references to violence and blood, but none are gory.

Rating: Splintered on it’s own would get a 4 for it’s ultimately captivating storyline but slow beginning. Unhinged would get a 4.5 for being captivating throughout but not enough forward motion in the plot, and Ensnared would get a 3.5 because although I enjoyed the story and world-building the love triangle felt too overpowering without serving any real purpose in the plot.

I recommend this series to people looking for something similar to The Iron Fey and fans of retellings of classic tails.

4 blue jays

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Reading Wrap-up: February 2015

In February I read four books for the first time and reread three. I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump and still am. When this happens I typically start rereading some books I found highly enjoyable.

First Time Reads: 

Sapphire Blue by Kerstin GierShort Synopsis: Book two in a series about a family with a time traveling gene.

Thoughts: I didn’t enjoy this one as much as the first in the series and am debating whether to continue on. The characters have really begun to annoy me, although I do enjoy the underlying plot.

Rating: 

3 blue jays

Fairest by Marissa MeyerShort Synopsis: Prequel to the Lunar Chronicles Series. Find out how Queen Lavana got to be such an evil villain.

Thoughts: If it weren’t for my reading slump I think I would have enjoyed this much more. It gives background information I suspect will be useful for understanding Winter when it is released, but those who try to skip this book in the series should still know enough to grasp events in the series finale.

Rating: Too conflicted to decide.

Born at Midnight by C.C. HunterShort Synopsis: Teenager finds herself at a camp for paranormal creatures.

Thoughts: This book had me laughing out loud on several occasions, and put me in a good mood. It was a great choice for when I was both in a reading slump and not feeling well. At the same time I felt like it was following some sort of unspoken formula for YA and middle grade novels (ie girl goes somewhere new where two boys fight for her affections). This book feels like it was very much an introduction for the future books in this series which I do intend to read.

Rating:

 3.5 blue jays

Hamlet by William ShakespeareShort Synopsis: Hamlet attempts to kill his uncle, Claudius, to avenge his father’s murder.

Thoughts: I was read exerts from Hamlet before bed when I was younger and it was interesting to see how all of those exerts came together to form a story.

Rating: I can’t decide.

Rereads: 

Seraphina (Seraphina, #1)Short Synopsis: Teenage girl tries to ease tensions between humans and dragons while keeping her own past a secret.

Thoughts: Thoroughly enjoyed this book both times I’ve read it. For my full thoughts see my review.

Rating: 

4.5 blue jays

Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days, #1)Short Synopsis: Angels leave the world in ruins and kidnap a girl’s sister. Girl nurses an angel back to heath to convince him to give her information about her sister’s location.

Thoughts: A fast pace, captivating read. For my full thoughts see my review.

Rating: 

five blue jays

World After (Penryn & the End of Days, #2)Short Synopsis: Sequel to Angelfall.

Thoughts: Still enjoyed this one, and am eagerly anticipating the series finale, but I liked the first one better. This book has a much slower pace, and a certain male character didn’t have enough page time which wouldn’t normally be a problem for me, but this character and the main character have an amazing dynamic. This dynamic was part of the reason I loved the first book.

Rating: 

4 blue jays

Currently Reading: 

Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin, #2)

To see a full review of anything I’ve read this month but haven’t reviewed please comment below with a request.

Seraphina by Rachel Heartman 4 and a half Stars

19549841Title: Seraphina

Author: Rachel Hartman 

Publication date:  July 10, 2012

Genre: Young Adult High Fantasy

Synopsis: Dragons and humans are at peace, but it may not last much longer. The long war between dragons and the humans of Goredd  has not been forgotten by either species. As the forty year anniversary of the peace accord draws near tensions are high after a member of the royal family is murdered in a suspiciously dragon-like manor.

Seraphina, who has just arrived at court and recently become assistant to the court composer, is about to become involved. The last thing Seraphina wants to do is to gain attention from others, especially not Prince Lucian Kiggs who is determined to solve every mystery that presents itself. Seraphina has a secret of her own, one that she could be killed for if discovered.

Review: Several people I know who’ve mentioned this book thought it was a sequel to Eragon. I assure everyone it isn’t. Yes, it’s about dragons and the main character’s name sounds quite a bit like “Saphira,” but that’s where the simulates end. That said, I’ve always been attracted to the topic of dragons which is what drew me to this book.

I was expecting to be bothered by the fact that their were characters shifting between human and dragon “forms.” This is fairly common in dragon stories (for example Firelight by Sophie Jordan or Eustace from C.S. Lewis’s Voyage of the Dawn Treader), but was pleased that the main character did not have this ability which made the story more unusual.

The portrayal of dragons was made further unique in that despite the dragon characters in the book occasionally appearing human their thought process is made to seem very different. This is something I have found lacking in other dragon books: dragons aren’t humans so they shouldn’t think like humans no matter what they look like.

The relationship between Kiggs and Seraphina was refreshing. The relationship developed slowly, and I enjoyed that the two struggled to trust one another as I would expect from people of their particular backgrounds. They’re also unusual in YA in that they don’t stop in the middle of a disaster to kiss. In fact, at one point Seraphina states, “‘Crisis first, love later.'” The romance remains very much a subplot without overpowering the story as a whole.

My main complaint with this story is the number of flashbacks. I normally do not like flashbacks and prefer the story I read be told primarily in the present as telling the story out of chronological order can make it difficult to follow. Despite this, all of the details included makes this a good book to reread. I’ve read this book two and a half times now and am surprised how many details I notice after multiple readings I missed the first time.

What readers should know: This book contains frequent use of the word meaning illegitimate child that starts with a “b.” Other than that it’s pretty clean language-wise. The romance doesn’t go beyond kissing when involving the main character, but there are some scenes involving other characters that suggested more was going on romantically between those side characters, but the novel doesn’t go into much detail. There was some violence, but it wasn’t described in depth. This novel deals with discrimination between humans and dragons with some organizations and reactions that loosely resemble historical manifestations of discrimination.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 for good world-building and well thought out plot.

4.5 blue jays