Splintered By A.G. Howard: Review

Splintered Book Cover Splintered
Splintered
A.G. Howard
Paranormal, Young Adult
Amulet Books
January 1, 2013
Hardcover
371
Library

This stunning debut captures the grotesque madness of a mystical under-land, as well as a girl’s pangs of first love and independence. Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now.
When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.

Splintered by A.G. Howard is an interesting take on the Alice In Wonderland story. It is a little dark and sexy while still capturing the wonder and strangeness of Wonderland. Overall, I found Splintered to be OK. The main character, Alyssa, is a bit annoying. She has had a tendency towards rash, sometimes silly, decisions.The romantic tension would have been solved if the characters just asked the most obvious questions. (This is something that kills me in books, TV, and movies, creating tension with situations that any sane person could solve in two seconds by speaking. So frustrating.) There are some scenes where the romantic plot, there is a kind of love triangle, is done well.      

The world created by A.G. Howard was the best part of Splintered. I enjoyed the adventure through this Wonderland and reading about her take on characters we have seen in the original story and the countless iterations. Very creative and interesting, it really saved this book for me.

Overall, Splintered by A.G. Howard is a solid debut but it just was not for me. I enjoyed the book, but did not feel a connection with the main character. Those who enjoy Paranormal Romance would be more likely to enjoy it. This is the case where the book is fine but just not for me.

Review: The Bone Season By Samantha Shannon

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

Title: The Bone Season

Author: Samantha Shannon

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA

Publication Date: August 20, 2013

Source: eARC via NetGalley

Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal

Challenge: Debut Author Challenge

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Summary

It is the year 2059. Several major world cities are under the control of a security force called Scion. Paige Mahoney works in the criminal underworld of Scion London, part of a secret cell known as the Seven Seals. The work she does is unusual: scouting for information by breaking into others’ minds. Paige is a dreamwalker, a rare kind of clairvoyant, and in this world, the voyants commit treason simply by breathing.

But when Paige is captured and arrested, she encounters a power more sinister even than Scion. The voyant prison is a separate city—Oxford, erased from the map two centuries ago and now controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. These creatures, the Rephaim, value the voyants highly—as soldiers in their army.

Paige is assigned to a Rephaite keeper, Warden, who will be in charge of her care and training. He is her master. Her natural enemy. But if she wants to regain her freedom, Paige will have to learn something of his mind and his own mysterious motives.

Review

I was not sure what to expect when I picked up The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon. The book is hyped to be the next big thing and I try to make it my business to read all the hyped books. The fact that Samantha is such a young (21!) author and talk of film rights, I knew I just had to get my hands on this book. The extremely unusual plot (umm clairvoyants?), really did not hurt either.

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon is extremely ambitious. The world Shannon creates is large, intricate, and full of wonderful detail. I loved that the beginning of the book contains a list of all the different types of clairvoyants and that the back contains a glossary of different terms. (I really thought about how much my husband would enjoy that because he is obsessed with book extras such as detailed maps and diagrams of buildings or ships.) This extra detail was very helpful because this world is enormous.

The story follows Paige Mahoney as she lives a life of crime in London. Paige has a very rare form of clairvoyance and is able to join a high level crime syndicate. This group is the first time Paige felt like she can be herself. They teach her how to use her gift and become a surrogate family. She is happy in this life until she is rounded up and taken to an undisclosed location, where her world is turned upside down.

There are so many layers to The Bone Season, I can see why a seven part series is possible. We barely scratch the surface of the questions I have and what else I need to know about this world. Plus, we end with a little light romance that I would like to see more of.

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon is an epic story that is non-stop excitement. Paige is a great protagonist she is complicated, brave, and a little frustrating. There is so much more here to flesh out and I will definitely be back for book two. I need to know where the story goes and learn all of the mysteries of this unique, weird little world.

I was given a of The Bone Season in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Summary and cover image from goodreads.

Review: The Thinking Woman’s Guide To Real Magic By Emily Croy Barker

The Thinking Womans Guide To Real Magic by Emily Cory Barker

Title: The Thinking Woman’s Guide To Real Magic

Author: Emily Croy Barker

Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books

Publication Date: August 1, 2013

Source: eArc via Edelweiss

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy

Challenge: Debut Author Challenge

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Summary

Nora Fischer’s dissertation is stalled and her boyfriend is about to marry another woman.  During a miserable weekend at a friend’s wedding, Nora wanders off and walks through a portal into a different world where she’s transformed from a drab grad student into a stunning beauty.  Before long, she has a set of glamorous new friends and her romance with gorgeous, masterful Raclin is heating up. It’s almost too good to be true.

Then the elegant veneer shatters. Nora’s new fantasy world turns darker, a fairy tale gone incredibly wrong. Making it here will take skills Nora never learned in graduate school. Her only real ally—and a reluctant one at that—is the magician Aruendiel, a grim, reclusive figure with a biting tongue and a shrouded past. And it will take her becoming Aruendiel’s student—and learning magic herself—to survive. When a passage home finally opens, Nora must weigh her “real life” against the dangerous power of love and magic.

Review

Occasionally, I pick-up a book that is getting great reviews and has an interesting premise, but it is not for me. The Thinking Woman’s Guide To Real Magic by Emily Croy Barker is one of those books.

The book starts by introducing us to Nora, who is not doing well in either her professional nor personal life. Her long-term boyfriend dumps her and announces he is marrying another woman. She is forced to interact with him at a wedding of all places. Then during an innocent hike, Nora stumbles upon another world.

The next quarter of the book should have been interesting. Filled with world building and magical creatures, instead it is a dull plod in which nothing happens. If I had not received this book for review, I would have put it down at this point. It was obvious at this point in the book, that The Thinking Woman’s Guide To Real Magic was not for me. The book is blurbed to be for those who enjoyed A Discovery Of Witches. This should have been my clue that the problems I had with A Discovery Of Witches might be present here. Mainly, that both books are overly long and lacking in action. Sticking with the book did lead to the much more interesting second half, but I generally do not think reading should be a chore and it felt like one until I got to where the action began. I wonder if it is this category of Adult Fantasy aimed at women where the authors do not seem to focus on world building and the characters feel flat. In 576 pages, I did not really know Nora until the very end. Understanding her motives and her life before being trapped in a different world, would have gone a long way to making me more interested in The Thinking Woman’s Guide To Real Magic. I had a hard time connecting with any of the characters and never felt strongly about any of them.

Overall, I would say The Thinking Woman’s Guide To Real Magic by Emily Croy Barker is an OK book. It would be better if it was trimmed down and there was more action throughout. The character of Nora should have been more fleshed out before the very end. I only started to feel that I knew her in the last twenty pages of the book. In a book of this length, that does not have many characters, there is no reason for this. If you enjoyed A Discovery Of Witches by Deborah Harkness, you may enjoy The Thinking Woman’s Guide To Real Magic by Emily Croy Barker. If not, I would skip it.   

I was provided a copy of The Thinking Woman’s Guide To Real Magic but all opinions are my own.

Cover image and summary from goodreads.