Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Blog Tour Promo and Giveaway: Extraction by Stephanie Diaz


Welcome to the Extraction blog tour! I am so thrilled to be a part of this tour, and support the awesome debut author, Stephanie Diaz! Are you ready to learn all about this science fiction novel of awesome?! Be sure to check out the giveaway at the end of the post!



Extraction by Stephanie Diaz
Book One of the Extraction series
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: July 22, 2014

Summary (from Goodreads):

"Welcome to Extraction testing."

Clementine has spent her whole life preparing for her sixteenth birthday, when she’ll be tested for Extraction in the hopes of being sent from the planet Kiel’s toxic Surface to the much safer Core, where people live without fear or starvation. When she proves promising enough to be “Extracted,” she must leave without Logan, the boy she loves. Torn apart from her only sense of family, Clem promises to come back and save him from brutal Surface life.

What she finds initially in the Core is a utopia compared to the Surface—it’s free of hard labor, gun-wielding officials, and the moon's lethal acid. But life is anything but safe, and Clementine learns that the planet's leaders are planning to exterminate Surface dwellers—and that means Logan, too. 

Trapped by the steel walls of the underground and the lies that keep her safe, Clementine must find a way to escape and rescue Logan and the rest of the planet. But the planet leaders don't want her running—they want her subdued.

With intense action scenes and a cast of unforgettable characters,Extraction is a page-turning, gripping read, sure to entertain lovers of Hunger Games and Ender's Game and leave them breathless for more.



About the Author:


Twenty-one-year-old Stephanie Diaz wrote her debut novel, Extraction, when she should've been making short films and listening to college lectures at San Diego State University. When she isn't lost in books, she can be found singing, marveling at the night sky, or fan-girling over TV shows.



The Giveaway:

Review: Extraction by Stephanie Diaz


Extraction by Stephanie Diaz
Book One of the Extraction series
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: July 22, 2014
Rating: 1 star
Source: eARC from NetGalley:

Summary (from Goodreads):

"Welcome to Extraction testing."

Clementine has spent her whole life preparing for her sixteenth birthday, when she’ll be tested for Extraction in the hopes of being sent from the planet Kiel’s toxic Surface to the much safer Core, where people live without fear or starvation. When she proves promising enough to be “Extracted,” she must leave without Logan, the boy she loves. Torn apart from her only sense of family, Clem promises to come back and save him from brutal Surface life.

What she finds initially in the Core is a utopia compared to the Surface—it’s free of hard labor, gun-wielding officials, and the moon's lethal acid. But life is anything but safe, and Clementine learns that the planet's leaders are planning to exterminate Surface dwellers—and that means Logan, too. 

Trapped by the steel walls of the underground and the lies that keep her safe, Clementine must find a way to escape and rescue Logan and the rest of the planet. But the planet leaders don't want her running—they want her subdued.

With intense action scenes and a cast of unforgettable characters, Extraction is a page-turning, gripping read, sure to entertain lovers of Hunger Games and Ender's Game and leave them breathless for more.

What I Liked:

Obviously, I didn't love this book. Or even really like it. I can't say I like it, either. I wanted to like it though - I mean, come on. Science fiction? Intense action scenes? Earth's Core? Lethal moon acid? This book sounded kickbutt! And science fiction, no less! And... it's a tour review book. My tour post was originally a review one - well, that got changed, because we can't have a 1-star review on tour!

Basically, Clementine is one of ten sixteen-year-old children to be chosen to be taken to the Core. These ten are the elite, the best of the best, the smartest or strongest (or both) teenagers of this year. Clementine's best friend Logan didn't get chosen last year. He'll be killed at age twenty, along with other rejects. But Clementine is chosen. She is taken to the Core for training. But she slowly realizes that the Commander has been lying to her, to everyone, and that there is so much more at risk than Extraction testing and training.

I was not at all impressed with the first half, hmm, three-quarters of this book. See the next section. However, in the last quarter of the book, I was interested. Or maybe desperate to finish because, dear God, this book is a carbon copy of Divergent. With the space aspect.

You'll say, oh, but the space/planets/moon acid thing is SO BIG AND DIFFERENT. Well, it is, but it's not. We really don't get to see much of this aspect until the last 25% of the book, in which suddenly the moon is super important. So, the last 25% was okay. Interesting, but ehhh, I really just wanted to be finished and be done. Sorry to say that (but not really sorry at all).

What I Did Not Like:

I actually made a list of things that I found were disturbingly similar to Divergent. Ready? *Possibly* spoilers. Maybe not though. Depends on what you think is a spoiler. Nothing major.

1. The simulations: Clementine is put under a simulation several times, for intelligence tests. She has to make decisions in the simulations, to show her character, her obedience to the government, her compliance. There is even a FINAL simulation, like how Tris had that last simulation to battle her fears. Eerily similar, eh? 

2. Sam (Eric): in this book, there is a character named Sam. He is a ruthless young lieutenant, just under the command of the Core's leader (Commander Charlie, we'll get to him). Sam is bloodthirsty and unfeeling, and takes pleasure in showing off his strengths and picking on weaklings and acting smug. He is just like Eric, but there is one thing that he does that is just like Peter.

3. Oliver (Al): in this book, there is a boy named Oliver. He is weak, has bad eyesight, sucks at fighting, constantly needs people to tell him he'll make it...  and there are a few other similarities that I won't mention. HE IS AL.

4. Ariadne (Christina): if we have Al, we have Christina. Ariadne is feisty and tell-it-like-she-wants. She sticks with Clementine, and stands up for her. She fights her own battles and isn't too bad in training. Christina much?

5. Shots: there are monthly shots, to ensure compliance among Core citizens. In Divergent, the Dauntless were given "tracker" shots, which controlled theirs minds. Which is basically what the shots in this book did.

6. Clementine gets chosen/i.e. she is special (like Tris): Clementine is one of ten teens that get chosen per year. Yet, she has a mental fortitude (like Tris's divergence). Clementine has a clear mind after a certain intelligence simulation, whereas everyone else... doesn't. I say Clementine is divergent, yeah?

7. Ariadne telling Clementine that it's okay to be afraid: and I quote, 

"It's not a bad thing to be afraid." (45%)

You have to understand the context of the situation, but this reminded me of everyone saying that Tris was fearless, of Four saying that fear wakes Tris up. This quote by Ariadne is basically saying that Clementine hasn't been afraid of anything (or shown her fear). Ariadne is telling Clementine to be vulnerable. Definitely a parallel.

8. Sam almost raping Clementine: this is the possible spoiler I was thinking of. It was kind of a drop in the bucket, in this book, and after it happens, we never hear of it again (like it doesn't affect Clementine AT ALL, though she fears Sam - for other reasons). Definitely something Peter would do.

9. Clementine beating everyone in the obstacle course and almost setting a new record: Clementine blows everyone out of the water at the obstacle course. Let me break this down for you: she isn't used to physical activity, but after her strenuous workout (several miles, pushups, etc.), she does this obstacle course in like four minutes. The record (held by Sam, after years of training) is around three minutes, and everyone else got like seven minutes. TELL ME THAT ISN'T RIGHT. An unfit, non-athletic, tired girl beats everyone on her first try, and almost beats Sam? Yeah right.

But the parallel with Divergent - it's like Tris with the simulations. Tris has record-breaking times (though her times actually make sense). Tris is marked when she starts putting up good scores - just like Clementine. Once Clementine starts achieving exemplary things (like the UNBELIEVABLE time at the obstacle course), she is marked.

10. Clementine setting a record in the Phantom simulation game: basically, see #1 or #9. The Phantom simulation is different - it's a game simulation (not a fear landscape), but OF COURSE Clementine puts up record-breaking kills, even more than the legendary Beechy's (um, wut. Is his name supposed to be a pun? What a horrible name). Just like Tris and her divergent ability in the fear landscape. 

11. Clementine living in a poor world with little food choice: basically, Clementine is an Abnegation. Except she's an orphan. But she lives in a poor, poor world on the Surface, and she hasn't seen most foods. So when she gets to the Core, and sees all of the food choices, she's like whatttt?? Just like Tris and the burger.

12. "Training" to be soldiers (though no one knows what they'll fighting): they take the top ten most "Promising" teenagers of this year, and train them to be soldiers. Yup, you heard me. All of these nerds get some serious physical training, especially in guns. And what are they fighting? Who knows! At least in Divergent, it makes sense that the Dauntless would learn to fight and use weapons. In Divergent, no one knows who they are fighting (until it is revealed about Erudite and Abnegation). The parallel is very, very similar (I won't say more though, in case someone hear wants to read this book).

I could actually go on, honestly. I stopped listing similarities. This book is entirely too much like Divergent - you can't TELL ME that these are all coincidences. You can't tell me that the space/moon craziness aspect makes this book totally different. Yeah, okay. It's just another dystopian novel in which the poor, everyday people revolt against the elite, and try to destroy the intricate and larger-than-life system that the elite has created. *rolls eyes*

Talk about originality. But anyway, the similarities between this book and Divergent weren't the only things I didn't like about this book. Similarities aside, this book wasn't that great. It was kind of boring, totally predictable, and not that interesting. I didn't care for Clementine (good God, she is dumb. For such a "smart" girl, she is stupid. That stunt in the crowd, looking for Logan? WTF). I have no feelings toward Beechy, Ariadne, or Oliver. Or anyone. I guess I just didn't care. Unforgettable characters? HA! Give me two days, I'll forget all about them. And this book. Cross your fingers.

The romance is pretty horrible, too. Nonexistent, but it's kind of there. We know Clementine loves Logan, but in the end, they both realize they're in love with each other? Or it's adrenaline when they kiss? Honestly, it feels like bulls***. Everything Clementine did, she did for Logan. Which is noble and all... but she loses so much of herself. Like, I don't want to spoil it, but was losing SOME CERTAIN THINGS worth it? Nahhh. Not in my opinion. Maybe that's selfish, but also? Saving the world (in a general sense) is more important than one person's life. No matter how important that person is. In my opinion.

Okay I'm finished. No more.

Would I Recommend It:

No. Not at all. And not just because it's Divergent. Don't misunderstand me - I LOVED Divergent. I hate copycats, carbon copies, etc. Don't bother with this one. It's honestly not that original, not that captivating, and not worth my time. 

Rating:

1.5 stars -> rounded down to 1 star, because what the heck. I want to say the space aspect might have saved this one... but not for me. In general, this book wasn't for me. 


Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Review: Between the Spark and Burn by April Genevieve Tucholke


Between the Spark and Burn by April Genevieve Tucholke
Book Two of the Between series
Publisher: Dial Books
Publication Date: August 14, 2014
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by the author (thank you, April!)

Summary (from Goodreads):

Freddie once told me that the Devil created all the fear in the world.
But then, the Devil once told me that it's easier to forgive someone for scaring you than for making you cry.

The problem with River West Redding was that he'd done both to me.

The crooked-smiling liar River West Redding, who drove into Violet's life one summer day and shook her world to pieces, is gone. Violet and Neely, River's other brother, are left to worry—until they catch a two a.m. radio program about strange events in a distant mountain town. They take off in search of River but are always a step behind, finding instead frenzied towns, witch hunts, and a wind-whipped island with the thrum of something strange and dangerous just under the surface. It isn't long before Violet begins to wonder if Neely, the one Redding brother she thought trustworthy, has been hiding a secret of his own . . .

What I Liked:

How to write this review. I remember when I read Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, I prefaced my review by saying that I wouldn't be able to do the book justice. Same goes for this book. I didn't rate this book quite as high as the first book, but I still seriously loved this book.


River, Neely, Luke, and Sunshine set out to find Brodie and River, after hearing strange reports on the radio about a sea king and a boy stealing girls' dreams, and children disappearing. Could River and Brodie be working together? Could River have broken his promise, or could he have gone mad from the glow? Will they find the boys before it's too late?

Just like in the first book, the prose blew me away. The writing style is AMAZING. Like in the first book, this book is written in an old-time, small-town type of way. It's Gothic and lush and beautiful. I've never read books with such a unique and distinctive writing style. There came a point in both books that I knew what Violet would say, or how she would portray a certain thought, because the writing style was so unique and well-crafted. Once again, I'm impressed and stunned!

Violet is a quiet, thoughtful character. She seems passive, but she is a girl of subtle action. I love that she decided to take a chance and search for the Redding boys. She took a chance to free Finch, a boy in a town that was sure that he was the one stealing girls' dreams. I loved Violet's bravery and her command over what she wanted.

Neely plays a large and important role in this book. I didn't get a good feel of him in book one (mostly my fault, because I wasn't too concerned with him, so I ignored him), but his character gets very developed in this novel. I am a huge fan of Neely! I found that I really liked him. He is selfless and brave, protective and loyal. There are so many great qualities to him, but he isn't perfect.

Sunshine and Luke aren't *too* important in this book, but their roles are necessary. They accompany Violet and Neely for the first half of the journey to Inn's End, but they go back to Maine, whereas Neely and Violet go to North Carolina with Finch, the boy they rescued in Inn's End. In South Carolina, Neely, Violet, and Finch meet Canto, and she joins the crew. I wasn't a huge fan of Canto, but I liked her role in the book.

The plot of this book is slow-moving, but like the last book, the it creeps up on you, slow snaking its way through what seems like a slow plot. The story is like a narrative, a journal entry, a description of small events that are important, but the important plot winds its way slowly through the story. I. Love. This. Tucholke surprised me with the climax, honestly. I wasn't expecting it at all. I don't know if I should have, or if I have wrapped up in the spellbinding prose, but I really enjoyed the surprises.

The romance is different in this book. I don't want to give anything away, but it's different. At first, I was a little surprised at the direction that Tucholke took it. But then I was totally on-board. It makes complete sense, with book one, and I really like what Tucholke did. I can't say anything too specific, because you really need to READ this book in particular to understand. Trust me.

The setting is very different in this book. In the first book, we were given much detail on Violet's grandmother's house. The entire book takes place in her town (or house). This book takes place in the house, or in the Appalachian Mountains, or on an island off the coast of North Carolina, or in Colorado. Literally all over the place. I really like this! Tucholke does just as amazing a job of weaving the setting into the story as she does with the setting of the beautiful house (in book one).

Also, we get a lot of journal entries from Violet's grandmother, Freddie. I like this. I like that readers (and Violet) get to see into Freddie's past. Freddie is an interesting woman, just as much affected by the glow as Violet was. The two stories parallel, though they are different. I found myself looking forward to reading the journal entries - which is rare for me (usually, I don't read filler things like entries before the chapter begins, or so on).

This series is a duology, so this is the last book of the series. The ending of this book is, well, not necessarily bittersweet, but not super duper everything-wraps-up-so-perfectly happy. It's a really fitting ending, and I loved it. That doesn't mean it is perfect and everyone who should live lives and everyone who should die dies and everyone who loves each other finds their way to each other. Again though, an excellent, fitting ending.

What I Did Not Like:

Errr, I'll get back to you on this one. I can't think of anything at the moment.

Would I Recommend It:

YES! Very much so! This series in general is one of my favorite series of all time. The writing style alone is enough to make anyone want to read the books. But the story is beautiful and haunting and rich. Both books are very fulfilling! So you should read books one and two if you haven't.

Rating:

4 stars. What a fabulous series! I'll definitely be reading anything that Tucholke writes. I hope she has something wonderful up her sleeves, besides the anthology. And you already KNOW that I'm reading that anthology (even though I don't usually care for anthologies)!


Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

Book Blitz and Giveaway: Let's Get Lost by Adi Alsaid


Welcome to the Let's Get Lost book blitz! I haven't read this book, but I've heard wonderful things about it. Let's get to the post, shall we? :)


(I can't seem to figure out how to put the excerpt into the post. It's on a PDF file, which is super annoying. So just bear with me.)



Let's Get Lost by Adi Alsaid
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: July 29, 2014

Summary (from Goodreads):


Five strangers. Countless adventures. One epic way to get lost. 

Four teens across the country have only one thing in common: a girl named LEILA. She crashes into their lives in her absurdly red car at the moment they need someone the most. 

There's HUDSON, a small-town mechanic who is willing to throw away his dreams for true love. And BREE, a runaway who seizes every Tuesday—and a few stolen goods along the way. ELLIOT believes in happy endings…until his own life goes off-script. And SONIA worries that when she lost her boyfriend, she also lost the ability to love. 

Hudson, Bree, Elliot and Sonia find a friend in Leila. And when Leila leaves them, their lives are forever changed. But it is during Leila's own 4,268-mile journey that she discovers the most important truth— sometimes, what you need most is right where you started. And maybe the only way to find what you're looking for is to get lost along the way.



Pre-Order Today!



Early Praise:


“Reminiscent of John Green’s Paper Towns and road trip novels that feature a teen paving the way to adulthood, Alsaid’s debut is a gem among contemporary YA novels.” – School
Library Journal

“Five love stories, beautifully woven together by a special girl in search of adventure, hope, and full appreciation of life’s simple pleasures. A do-not-miss. ” – Justine Magazine

“Moving and poignant.” - Glitter Magazine

“An entertaining and romantic road-trip debut.” – Kirkus

"Leila's quest to find the Northern Lights takes readers on a captivating cross-country journey, where four strangers' adventures collide into one riveting tale of finding yourself." ―YABooksCentral.com

“This will likely be a popular summer hit, especially for older teen about to embark on their own journeys of self-discovery.” –Booklist


About the Author:


Adi Alsaid was born and raised in Mexico City, then studied at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. While in class, he mostly read fiction and continuously failed to fill out crossword puzzles, so it's no surprise that after graduating, he did not go into business world but rather packed up his apartment into his car and escaped to the California coastline to become a writer. He's now back in his hometown, where he writes, coaches high school and elementary basketball, and has perfected the art of making every dish he eats or cooks as spicy as possible. In addition to Mexico, he's lived in Tel Aviv, Las Vegas, and Monterey, California. A tingly feeling in his feet tells him more places will eventually be added to the list. Let's Get Lost is his YA debut. 






I CAN'T SEEM TO GET THE EXCERPT TO WORK... just pretend it's here. Or ask me, and I'll send it to you via email :)

The Giveaway:



1 signed hard cover copy of Let’s Get Lost

1 Let’s Get Lost luggage tag

1 Harlequin TEEN notebook

1 Let’s Get Lost sachel

1 Harlequin TEEN tote bag


Book Blitz Organized by:

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Review: Mortal Danger by Ann Aguirre


Mortal Danger by Ann Aguirre
Book One of the Immortal Game series
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: August 5, 2014
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):

Revenge is a dish best served cold.

In Ann Aguirre's Mortal Danger, Edie Kramer has a score to settle with the beautiful people at Blackbriar Academy. Their cruelty drove her to the brink of despair, and four months ago, she couldn’t imagine being strong enough to face her senior year. But thanks to a Faustian compact with the enigmatic Kian, she has the power to make the bullies pay. She’s not supposed to think about Kian once the deal is done, but devastating pain burns behind his unearthly beauty, and he’s impossible to forget. 


In one short summer, her entire life changes and she sweeps through Blackbriar, prepped to take the beautiful people down from the inside. A whisper here, a look there, and suddenly . . . bad things are happening. It’s a head rush, seeing her tormentors get what they deserve, but things that seem too good to be true usually are, and soon, the pranks and payback turns from delicious to deadly. Edie is alone in a world teeming with secrets and fiends lurking in the shadows. In this murky morass of devil’s bargains, she isn't sure who—or what—she can trust. Not even her own mind.

What I Liked:

Um. In general? I don't think I was expecting this book to be what it turned out to be. At all. The summary isn't entirely indicative of the book, but in hindsight, this is a GOOD thing. I was a bit surprised when I reached some parts of the book, and discovered some things. Also, I didn't expect this book to be so... dark. Creepy. Not scary. But dark. Twisted.

Edie is about to commit suicide when she is offered a bargain she can't refuse from a gorgeous boy who seems to know her pain better than she does: she'll grant her three favors, she can get her revenge, but once her favors are granted, she is tied to the company for which he works. Edie takes the deal. She asks to become beautiful, so that she can get revenge on the beautiful, self-absorbed peers at Blackbriar. But things start to occur at Blackbriar, to the people she despises... but it's not her. It's not Kian, the guy who offered her the deal. Something dark is at work, a world in which Edie must find her way.

This book kind of has two parts: the first deals with Edie getting acquainted with Kian and her wishes and the whole bargain business. Also, it has to do with her going to Blackbriar, and feeling in control, for once in her life. The second part deals more with the dark occurrences at Blackbriar and surrounding Edie. Things she can't explain and doesn't understand start to unfold.

To be honest, the first half of this book was boring. I totally understand that Aguirre needed to lay the groundwork for the rest of the book - she did an excellent job of introducing readers to Kian and his deal, his boss, his enslavement. We get to know all about Edie's difficult life at Blackbriar and at home. She had a really hard time at Blackbriar - the "Teflon" crew, as she calls them, are a horrible bunch. 

So I understand why the first half was slow, boring even, because the worldbuilding needed to be carefully constructed before the "real" stuff rolled around. And by "real", I mean DARK. The creepy, twisted stuff was more in the second half of the book, and that made things much more interesting. I was bored in the first half of the book, but I couldn't finish the second half/the book fast enough!

I like Edie a lot. I'm not saying I'm terribly ugly (which apparently, Edie was, she was horrible to look at, before the first wish Kian granted her). But in terms of nerdiness... yeah, we're both so there. Talk about physics/science/math nerdiness at its finest. I'm totally like her, in that sense. So I definitely felt for her, in that aspect. My parents aren't physicists, but I definitely felt the slavedriver regime they had me on when I was in elementary, middle, and high school. Now that I'm at Johns Hopkins University studying engineering... well, I've proven myself to them. I think.

Anyway. I liked Edie. I REALLY liked Kian. Kian comes off as perfect, but he isn't. He was also a kid on the verge of suicide, offered three wishes... and roped into the business. That explains his stunning good looks. It also explains why he isn't super arrogant or cocky, like many YA heroes. He's actually adorable and unsure of himself and cautious. I APPROVE.

I already mentioned the plot... let me tell you about the dark side of this book. Without spoiling things, of course. I seriously thought this book was all about Edie getting revenge on her peers. WRONG. That's scratching the surface of it all. Edie's life and wishes don't necessarily matter, in the grand scheme of things. Greater "powers" are at work here, and it gets bloody. Fast. Literally bodies flying everywhere. That's all I'm saying. 

Despite my skepticism (after starting the book), I ended up really enjoying this book (as I seem to be doing with Aguirre's books in general). I definitely can't wait to read the next book! I feel like things are just getting started... like Aguirre is going to start blowing up things (figuratively and possibly literally as well). 

What I Did Not Like:

I already mentioned this before, but the slow start to this book was a little painful, at times. But I understand why it was necessary. So maybe take this "dislike" in a positive light - if you're stuck in the first "half", in which it's all about Edie's makeover and her revenge, keep going. It gets better, more interesting, and creepier. Talk about dark. I don't want to say anything specific because the synopsis mentions nothing about the subject matter to which I'm referring, so I'll keep the "surprises" alive.

Would I Recommend It:

Definitely, if you're a fan of Aguirre's books. It seems like Aguirre is a natural storyteller, and this book is no exception to her talent. It's so great that she all but churns out so many books, and they're all really good (in my opinion)! I'll definitely be catching the sequel to this book, as soon as possible. In the meantime, I guess I'll have to be content with reading her other upcoming novels. What a hardship that is, LOL.

Rating:

4 stars. An excellent start to a new series! This book doesn't just have an awesome cover, but also, an amazing story!


Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Stacking the Shelves (#82)


Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews, in which bloggers share the books and swag they've received in the past week!


So, what did I get in the week of Sunday, July 13th to Saturday, July 19th?


(all links to Goodreads are provided!)


In the mail:



Thank you for the trade, Stephanie! Now I have an ARC set of Pivot Point and Split Second! I know my good friend Pili will be happy ;D



Thank you, Random House! I featured this one as a WoW choice a little while back. I'm honored to have the chance to read it!



AHHH, SO EXCITED!! Fantasy fantasy fantasy! Thank you so much, Random House!



Thank you so much, Celeste! She is seriously the best. So many huggles. 


From NetGalley:



Dang, I've been waiting for this request to be approved since April O_O But I haven't read the book yet, so I guess that works out!



I usually steer clear of New Adult contemporary romance novels these days, but it's Ann Aguirre. How could I stay away?!



Is it bad that while everyone is thinking of the Backstreet Boys song, I'm thinking of Justin Bieber? I hate Bieber, but I didn't grow up with the Backstreet Boys so...


Another great week! Especially in books ;D

Friday, July 18, 2014

Review: Unhinged by A.G. Howard


Unhinged by A.G. Howard
Book Two of the Splintered series
Publisher: Amulet Books
Publication Date: January 7, 2014
Rating: 4 stars
Source: Hardcover copy won from a giveaway

Summary (from Goodreads):

Alyssa Gardner has been down the rabbit hole and faced the bandersnatch. She saved the life of Jeb, the guy she loves, and escaped the machinations of the disturbingly seductive Morpheus and the vindictive Queen Red. Now all she has to do is graduate high school and make it through prom so she can attend the prestigious art school in London she's always dreamed of.

That would be easier without her mother, freshly released from an asylum, acting overly protective and suspicious. And it would be much simpler if the mysterious Morpheus didn't show up for school one day to tempt her with another dangerous quest in the dark, challenging Wonderland—where she (partly) belongs.

As prom and graduation creep closer, Alyssa juggles Morpheus’s unsettling presence in her real world with trying to tell Jeb the truth about a past he’s forgotten. Glimpses of Wonderland start to bleed through her art and into her world in very disturbing ways, and Morpheus warns that Queen Red won’t be far behind.

If Alyssa stays in the human realm, she could endanger Jeb, her parents, and everyone she loves. But if she steps through the rabbit hole again, she'll face a deadly battle that could cost more than just her head.

What I Liked:

Purple is my favorite color ^_^

Anyway. You all know my story with this series - I've been following this series since before Splintered came out. I didn't even give myself the chance to read these books until I won a giveaway of both books earlier this year. I saw how popular the first book was, and how popular the second book was, and I was turned off by the hype. However, it's close enough to the release date of book three, and I won that giveaway, so there is no time like the present, to read the first two books!

I was very pleased with this sequel! Sometimes, I find sequels unnecessary, like fluff to the series. Some authors love to drag out the series' plot with the sequel, and "set up" for the big showdown in book three. That was not the case with this book. I really liked this book, and found it an excellent and necessary sequel.

Alyssa is back in the human realm. Jeb remembers nothing from Wonderland. Allison is home, recovered. But things aren't right in Wonderland - the world is deteriorating. Red is hunting, searching, and won't stop until she gets what she wants - even if that means that she will enter the human realm. Everything and everyone Alyssa loves is in danger. It all comes down to prom - can Alyssa, Morpheus, Allison, and Jeb face Queen Red and her army, and save Wonderland?

So this book isn't spent in Wonderland, like the first book is. I really like this. We get to explore Wonderland in book one, and we get to explore Alyssa's human world in book two. In book one, she adjusts to being not-so-human in a not-human world. In book two, she adjusts to being human and not-so-human in a human world. She struggles to separate her two selves - something she shouldn't be doing at all. Alyssa is stubborn, and doesn't want to accept the fact that she is a halfling, she is both netherling and human, and that she belongs in and to Wonderland. 

I enjoyed the plot of this book - even if it's a little cliche (save the world! Or, worlds). Don't misunderstand: the plot itself isn't cliche, the general idea of it is. Alyssa must save Wonderland (and the human realm). But how she achieves this is very unique and original. Like book one, book two is fresh and creative. I love the amount of imagination and creativity that Howard puts into these books. I love how Howard bases many aspects of this book on those of the original story, but she spins them to her own use.

One thing I love (that I didn't expect to love) was the fairy aspect. I have to admit - I hate fairy stories. This ISN'T a fairy story though. Yes, Alyssa has wings and basically is a fairy. But this doesn't feel like a your typical fairy, and I like this. I like that Howard made the magic and fairy aspect and lore her own.

The romance... still a raging love triangle, guys. I hate love triangles. I still feel like Jeb is going to "win" this one, which pisses me off a little, because he doesn't belong in the netherling world. He really doesn't belong with Alyssa - and not because he's a bad, horrible person (he's not, he's decent). But I still feel like Howard likes his character more.

Which totally blows because I LOVE Morpheus, as a character, and as a love interest. Comparing the two, I am more intrigued by Morpheus than I am with Jeb. I honestly don't care about or for Jeb. He's great, the tortured artist, with a horrible past, blah blah blah, but I'm just kind of apathetic towards him. Morpheus, on the other hand, is twisted and deceitful and selfless and complex. I hate his guile and deceit, but I love his complicated being.

And as a love interest, dang. He's flirtatious and full of teasing. He's also very caring and kind when he wants to be, when he thinks no one is watching. Alyssa just doesn't get how much he cares. He's not human, so obviously he's not going to follow a human's guide to morals. Ugh, Alyssa. It's okay. THIS Alyssa likes you plenty, Morph. 

As much as I hate love triangles, I'm not *too* invested in this one (probably because I resigned myself to the fact that Jeb is "winning" this one). So I don't care. I do and I don't. I don't want to care, but I do, but I can ignore the feels right? Ha.

Bring on book three! I can't wait to read Ensnared - it's going to be quite a showdown. This book set up the showdown really well - but it did so much more! Unhinged took Wonderland and Alyssa's queenly responsibilities and the ROMANCE to another level. Me wants more!

What I Did Not Like:

I've already complained enough about the love triangle in my review of book one... but seriously, ugh, love triangles. I don't care for this one because Alyssa really doesn't deserve Morpheus, and yet, she doesn't necessarily deserve Jeb (not that I really like him or anything). It's one of those things where I wouldn't care if Alyssa ended up with either guy or alone. Just not with both (like I've heard about Clockwork Princess?). Because that's just WEIRD. And I would be FURIOUS if that's the route this author would take. It's just... disgusting to think about. And weird. And twisted. In my opinion.

Otherwise... I'm really happy with this series. So far?

Would I Recommend It:

I would highly recommend this book, as well as this series. Unhinged is an EXCELLENT sequel to a brilliant start to this series, so if you enjoyed Splintered, you'll enjoy this book. And in my opinion, this is definitely a series to read! Of course, I haven't read Ensnared, so I can't speak for the entire trilogy. But so far, I'm enjoying the ride!

Rating:

4 stars. It's officially official - I can't wait to read Ensnared! Thank goodness I decided to binge-read the series, because I can't imagine waiting so long in between books, and for the final book. Pure torture, especially for a book with such vicious love triangle. I NEED TO KNOW ALL THE THINGS!


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