Mundie Moms

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Book Review: Splintered by A.G. Howard

Published by: Amulet Books
To Be Released on: January 1st, 2013
Source: arc from publisher to review
4 stars: I Enjoyed It
Pre-Order from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

For sixteen years, Alyssa Gardner has lived with the stigma of being descended from Alice Liddell—the real life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s famed novel, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. But cruel jokes about dormice and tea parties can’t compare to the fact that Alyssa hears the whispers of bugs and flowers... the same quirk which sent her mother to a mental institution years before.

When her mother takes a turn for the worse and the whispers grow too strong for Alyssa to bear, she seeks the origins of their family curse. A set of heirlooms and a moth tied to an unusual website lead Alyssa and her gorgeous best friend / secret crush, Jeb, down the rabbit hole into the real Wonderland, a place more twisted and eerie than Lewis Carroll ever let on.

There, creepy counterparts of the original fairytale crew reveal the purpose for Alyssa’s journey, and unless she fixes the things her great-great-great grandmother Alice put wrong, Wonderland will have her head. -quoted from Goodreads

With a touch of Lewis Carroll's classic, Alice in Wonderland, A.G. Howard's original twisted debut is utterly entertaining, brimming with madness, and sprinkled with plenty of magic, romance and adventure. Much like the beloved classic, A.G. Howard does a beautiful job at creating a world that's unforgettable. I loved that while much of this story is given a unique spin, there are some minor similarities that were flawlessly incorporated into Alyssa's story that paid homage to Carroll's work. Unlike Carroll's story, this modern day/fantasy story doesn't include any dreaming, instead it focuses on a family curse passed down from generation to generation. Sadly the curse that Alyssa's mother passed to her, is what is keeping her in the mental institution. Armed with the determination to save her mother, Alyssa enters the rabbit hole and from there unravels one crazy mystery and twist after the other.

Having a part of this story focus on Alyssa's worry of going mental like her mother fit in well with this incredibly complex, and hauntingly mesmerizing world. I liked that dream like quality the story has. It made it all the more charming and intriguing. The further Alyssa and Jeb venture into this world, the crazier it gets with all that's unraveled. It takes a rather strong character to travel through the rabbit hole, and venture out the other side in tact. I loved that the more Alyssa learns to rely on and trust herself, the more it makes her realize that she's got much more potential than she ever thought she had. There's something about Alyssa that I couldn't help liking. She quirky, she has her flaws, and there's just something about her that drew me to her, even if I didn't always understand the reasoning behind her actions. She's a character that made me rooting for.

This story is not without romance, and it's different kind of love triangle. There's Jeb, the best friend who's been there for Alyssa, and seems to get her even without her ever needing to tell him anything. It might take a trip through crazyville for the two of them to finally admit their feelings for each other (FINALLY), but when they do, it's fabulous! I love that this relationship is not without it's flaws, and imperfections. It's realistic, it's a little complicated, and beautifully developed. Then there's of course the odd natured, yet fitting relationship between Alyssa and her childhood friend, Morpheus. He's that dark, mysterious, brooding character you feel yourself drawn to, even though you know you should stay away from him. There were times I wanted to despise him, and other times I couldn't help but like him. He's definitely a character who knows how to seduce not only Alyssa, but this story's readers. Though I liked both relationships, there were times things didn't quite add up for me in regards to the revelations between both guys and Alyssa. 

Over all I did enjoy this story. It's unlike anything I've read before, and I love that. Lewis Carroll gave us a classic. Walt Disney re-created an Alice in Wonderland for kids to enjoy and A.G. Howard created a brand new Alice in Wonderland story that YA readers are going enjoy getting their hands on! This is one book I'd recommend picking up if you enjoy an unforgettable adventure, love fairytale retelling with a twist, and enjoy fantasy story's with a touch of romance. I'm looking forward to reading more of A.G.'s books in the future.

Book Review: Dust Lands: Rebel Heart by Moira Young

Published by: Simon & Schuster
Released on: October 30th, 2012
Source: book from publisher to review
Series: Dust Lands #2
4 Stars: I Enjoyed It
Purchase from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Nothing is certain and no one is safe in the second book in the highly praised Dust Lands trilogy.

It seemed so simple: Defeat the Tonton, rescue her kidnapped brother, Lugh, and then order would be restored to Saba’s world. Simplicity, however, has proved to be elusive. Now, Saba and her family travel west, headed for a better life and a longed-for reunion with Jack. But the fight for Lugh’s freedom has unleashed a new power in the dust lands, and a formidable new enemy is on the rise.

What is the truth about Jack? And how far will Saba go to get what she wants? In this much-anticipated follow-up to the riveting Blood Red Road, a fierce heroine finds herself at the crossroads of danger and destiny, betrayal and passion. - quoted from Goodreads

It was so nice to jump back into this bleak, desolate world. Sounds funny to say, but in this at times hopeless world are some fascinating characters I have been anxiously waiting to meet up with again. These characters are of course, are not at all the same characters I met in Blood Red Road. Having experienced some traumatic events at the end of Blood Red Road, these characters have all changed in various ways, some of the better and some, well that's just say some surprised me. 

Saba surprised me the the most in this story. She wasn't the same girl I had excepted to come back to, though I can't same that I blame her. Instead of this strong, unbreakable character, she's a character whom I felt was on the verge of losing it for part of the book. I felt something snapped inside her, and as she tries to determine what's real and what's not, she allows her more emotional state to take over. There were a few times I wanted to slap her to snap her out of it, but Saba is a resilient character and slowly comes out of it on her own. Due to her more emotional side, she does make some rather surprising choices. Let's just say Jack isn't the only one who wants to win Saba over. I loved that love does play a bigger role in this story, and man alive I want to know more about some of the secondary characters! There were a few surprising things uncovered about them that leaves me wanting more! I have a feeling they'll play bigger roles in the next book. 

There's something about this vast, expanse of a wasteland that fascinates me. That mixed with Saba's haunting voice, Moria's distinct writing style, and her vivid story telling, all collectively create something that's a little different, and keeps me coming back for more. I will say the action the drove the storyline in Blood Red Road was replaced with emotion in Rebel Heart. It's that emotion, and that love and hope that drove these characters into action with this storyline. It kept them moving forward, and not giving up. It fueled their reasoning, and decision making for good or for bad. It also slowed the storyline down a bit for me. That's not necessarily a bad thing, as it was interesting to see how things unfolded for Saba and the rest of the characters and the turn of events that happen. I liked that it also made it hard to predict what was going to happen next. With Moria's storytelling I feel like I'm along for a ride, and it's nice to just sit back and read the story without trying to figure out and predict what's going to happen next.

Moira Young has created a rather unique story with her Dust Lands series. This series isn't one I'd normally enjoy reading, and yet there's something that I can't resist when I sit down and read it. I think it's being so different is what intrigues me the most. I know this writing style isn't for everyone, but it's definitely hooked me. Rebel Heart is a fascinating sequel. It's gritty, raw with emotion, and one that slowly unravels as you read along. If you've read Blood Red Road I'd definitely recommend picking this one up. 

Book Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

By: Marissa Meyer
Published by: Feiwel & Friends (MacMillan)
Released on: January 3rd, 2012
Source: arc from publisher to review

Series: Book #1 in the Lunar Chronicles
4.5 stars: I Really Enjoyed It
Purchase from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . . 

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future. - quoted from Goodreads

Cinder is a fabulously written creative twist on the beloved fairy tale, Cinderella. Though Cinder's story is no fairy tale, Marissa Meyer's debut has an incredibly engaging plot line, a dreamy Prince, a fascinating futuristic setting, and a character I really enjoyed reading about. Right off the bat it's obvious what Cinder is, and aspect of the book is what fueled my intrigue. I wanted to know more about Cinder, her world, and what it was that drove her.

One of the things I love about Cinder how smart she is. She thinks for herself, which I love. I also liked that bit of a stubborn streak she has. It's that stubbornness that gets her through some tough situations, and her a strong character. This poor girl has had a crappy upbringing, and even though I might have wanted to curse out her "wicked" stepmother, Marissa wrote her in a way that against my will, I might have felt sorry for her, even if was for a brief moment. I understood her stepmother's pain, and her bitterness, even though I didn't like that she directed it at Cinder, I got why she did. It's through her mom's horrid treatment of her that I got to see Cinder's vulnerability, and how she carefully crafted her own wall of self worth up around herself.

This setting is crazy awesome. I loved the concept of a "New" Beijing. I don't recall reading another YA book that has this kind of setting, nor are there many books I've read that have Asian characters who play such a huge role in the book, especially in a fantasy book. I loved this book's diversity! It was well written, and beautifully crafted. I love it when the setting and characters I'm reading about, are ones I can easily picture in my mind. Marissa's vivid details and vibrant imagination poured off the pages for me, and hooked me. Okay well the romance hooked me too. I LOVE there is no instana love in this book. Though Prince Kai might have made me swoon as much as he made Cinder swoon, I adored that their relationship is one that slowly developed over the course of the book. I of course loved their back and forth bantering. It's comical to say the least, and I loved that even though she wants to give to Prince Kai, Cinder stands her ground.

Prince Kai! I don't even know how I can say about him. I loved him from the moment he appears in the book, which is very early on. While he might have wowed me a bit, he also does something that made me a bit ticked at him. Like Cinder, I have hope that there is a true reason behind his action, and gah! I really need to know what that reasoning is. One of the things I enjoyed about this book are the layered little twists that get unraveled as the story continues, and the complex characters that are apart of Cinder's world. All of the characters, including the evil ones, had motives and reasons for their actions that were understandable. Seeing these actions, and reasoning made them more dimensional, and not just these filler characters.

If you're a fan of well written fairytale retellings, intrigued by a futuristic Asian setting, well crafted characters, and great character chemistry, then I highly recommend picking this book up! Just prepared that when you finish this one, you'll wish you had the sequel, Scarlet, in your hands.