ARC Review: Unhinged by A.G. Howard

UnhingedTitle: Unhinged (Splintered, #2) by A.G. Howard

Author: A.G. Howard

Publication date: January 7, 2014

Publisher: Amulet Books

Pages: 400

Source: e-ARC / physical ARC provided by publisher (Thanks to Laura of Abrams Kids and Tina of A&C Kids UK!)

Purchase the book:  Amazon / Barnes & Noble Book Depository

Synopsis:

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.

*Photo and synopsis from Goodreads

My review:

Unhinged is pure magic. Darkness and mystique jump right off every page! The story is constructed beautifully. Events are all lined up in an orderly sequence so the fictional world was easy to navigate and understand. A.G. Howard’s writing took my breath away just like it did in Splintered. It oozed with brilliance, creativity, and life, infusing a magical feeling that lit up every part of me. Through the beautiful and vivid descriptions, I felt that I was in the story too, following Alyssa, Jeb, Morpheus, and the rest of the stellar cast in their thrilling escapades.

In this much-awaited sequel to Splintered, baffling dilemmas tremendously challenge Alyssa’s strength in making the right decisions for herself and for the people she loves. The choices she would make could change her life in ways she never thought of. Then things get further complicated when Wonderland weaves into the mortal world. The plot resembles a puzzle. Every mystery spins readers around until they find the right pieces that connect everything together. It’s an exciting kind of crazy! Oh and I won’t forget the unforeseen twists up ahead! WHOA. Madness tightened its grip on me in Chapter 19! That part! I can’t even. Hints: Alyssa. Future. Chances.

The conflicts in Unhinged magnify Alyssa’s powers and stretch her skills to their greatest potential. Readers will undoubtedly be stunned by what else she can do. Alyssa has more fire in her and I really like this improved version of herself. Alyssa’s boyfriend, Jeb, is as dashing and genuine as he was in Splintered. He loves Alyssa with all his heart and he doesn’t need magic to prove that. His deep love and selfless sacrifices are more than enough for Alyssa to love him just as much. And this time, Alyssa and Jeb’s relationship is more passionate and romantic. The intense and sweet moments between them burn brighter than before. THE FEELS! *flails* I’d read Alyssa and Jeb’s conversations over and over again and never get tired of them!

Then there’s Morpheus, the attractive and sexy moth from Wonderland who is still manipulative. And similar to Splintered, his motives are the fuel that keeps the book intriguing and unputdownable. So thank you, Morpheus, for spicing up things! I remember saying in my Splintered review that I have a feeling Morpheus is so much more than what I perceived him to be. Well, he is. His perseverance to win Alyssa is what made me appreciate him. I’m convinced that he’s clearly in love with the girl and I bet he’d even make several life-magic vows just to get her.

Alyssa’s mother, Alison, plays a huge part in Unhinged. She annoyed me at the beginning of the story but after all the revelations about her and Alyssa’s dad’s past, I have a newfound respect for Alison. I admire her for the sacrifices she did to protect her family. With a heart filled with so much courage, devotion, and love, she is one amazing woman who exemplifies what a mother truly is.

The ending is an absolute cliffhanger and I could only wish for 2015 to come faster! I can’t wait to go to *insert name of parallel dimension of Wonderland* and find out what happens next! Where are you, Ensnared? I need you NOW!

This dark, twisted, breathtaking sequel is tangible proof that magic exists even in reality. Thank you Anita for writing another unforgettable masterpiece. “You are Wonderland.”  🙂

Rating:

5/5 stars

Favorite quotes:

“You’re our happy ending.”

“Is that not the true meaning of sacrifice? Giving more than you ever thought you had, to save the one you love?”

“This is what I want. It’s what I’ve always wanted. A future with you. A life with you, my fairy bride. Forever.”

“I never saw it coming. It was me all along. Me who would betray myself in the worst possible way.”

“You and me? We’re far from over.”

“I am mad, and I embrace it. Madness is part of my heritage.”

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Blog Tour: Unhinged by A.G. Howard [Guest post + Giveaway]

Unhinged tour banner

Welcome to stop #9!

Today Alyssa and Jenara are going to discuss one of their favorite campy movies and the impact it had on their fashion choices for prom. But first, a quick bit of Unhinged trivia: Alyssa’s prom dress was actually inspired by Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride, one of my very favorite movies!

Corpse Bride

But while helping me revise the story, my editor suggested we make up something fun and campy for the dress’s origin—something that would add some unique window dressing to Alyssa’s world. Thus, Zombie Brides in Vegas was born.  After Googling to make sure there wasn’t such a movie, it was a go. Though the film’s premise isn’t discussed in detail throughout the book, today, we’ll let the girls tell you a little about it.

*****

Zombies in Vegas

Jenara: At first, it was the movie poster that sucked us in.

Alyssa: Totally. Who can resist something that gets two severed thumbs up? *snorts*

Jenara: Then, we found out it was going to be showing at the drive-in, which meant screamy scary snuggle time with our guys.

Alyssa: After that, nothing could stop us.

Jenara: So, we’re supposed to say our fave scene and the part we hated most, right?

Alyssa: Yep. And I guess spoilers are cool?

Jenara: That’s the way I understood it. You go first.

Alyssa: Okay. Favorite scene, when Drusilla realizes her groom, Rig A. Mortis, is the one who infected her and she bites off his ring finger and yells, “A-nnulled!”

Jenara and Alyssa: *laughing hysterically*

Alyssa: *wiping eyes* Worst part was when Carrie’s groom tried to slide the garter off her thigh and her leg–

Jenara: Cracked in half and he started gnawing on it! Gag!

Alyssa: Right?

Jenara: My fave was when Drusilla and Carrie pulled that Thelma and Louis move at the end, riding off the mountain after catching their car on fire. But it’s also my least favorite, because I hated thier, “Till death do us part” line. Total cheese.

Alyssa: But we both loved the costuming. It was perfect.

Jenara: Yep, somehow, they made those dresses and tuxedos look elegant and sophisticated, even with blood, brains, and mud splashed across the fabric.

Alyssa: Which is what inspired our prom outfits.

Jenara: *taps finger on lower lip* I’m pretty sure the movie’s out on DVD now. You with me?

Alyssa: *takes Jenara’s elbow* Till death do us part, baby.

Jenara: *rolls eyes*

(Picture Attributions: Corpse Bride Poster by Jurro;   Corpse Bride Doll by Cliff Nordman; Zombie Bride by Martin Soulstealer )

*****

What do you think? Should Hollywood make a movie about undead brides and grooms infesting Vegas? Personally, I think it would rock. 😉 Be sure to join us tomorrow for the next tour stop when Jeb, Jenara, and Alyssa discuss some Halloween memories and host a giveaway for a Wonderland inspired journal. Until then, if you haven’t entered the rafflecopter below for a chance at one of the 12 Unhinged ARCs, there’s still time.  Hope to see you soon!

GIVEAWAY TIME!

12 ARC’s of UNHINGED (Domestic Only)

Please click on the Rafflecopter link for a chance to win an ARC of Unhinged!

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ABOUT THE BOOK

Unhinged

Title: Unhinged (Splintered #2)

Author: A.G. Howard

Publication date: January 7, 2014

Publisher: Amulet Books

Pages: 400

Blurb: 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.

Links:  Goodreads/Amazon/Barnes & Noble

ABOUT A.G. HOWARD

AG Howard

A.G. Howard was inspired to write SPLINTERED while working at a school library. She always wondered what would’ve happened had the subtle creepiness of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland taken center stage, and she hopes her darker and funkier tribute to Carroll will inspire readers to seek out the stories that won her heart as a child.

When she’s not writing, A.G.’s pastimes are reading, rollerblading, gardening, and family vacations which often include impromptu side trips to 18th century graveyards or condemned schoolhouses to appease her overactive muse.

 Website/Blog/Twitter/Facebook/Tumblr/Pinterest/Goodreads

 

 

 

UNHINGED BOOK TRAILER:

Thank you so much A.G. Howard, Amulet Books, and Rockstar Book Tours for the opportunity to be part of this blog tour! And thank you guys for dropping by! You are AWESOME! CLICK HERE for the full schedule of the tour. 🙂

Jesselle xx

Book Review: Splintered by A.G. Howard

SplinteredTitle: Splintered

Author: A.G. Howard

Published: January 1, 2013

Publisher: Amulet Books

Pages: 371

Source: Bought from Fully Booked

Synopsis:

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.

*Image and synopsis from Goodreads

My review: 

From the moment I saw Splintered on blogs, I knew I had to read it. The cover oozes with absolute brilliance and mystery. The green, red and blue colors, as well as the striking eye of the blond girl, encompass a magnetic pull that will entice anyone who sees it. The words “Welcome to the real Wonderland” will compel readers to explore the intriguing world of this fictional masterpiece.

I loved the story. Alice in Wonderland is one of my favorite childhood tales and reading Splintered transported me back to that world. I didn’t expect that the Wonderland in Splintered is dark, eerie and crazy. It is very different from the Wonderland I knew as a kid. But you know what?  I found it AWESOME. A.G. Howard did a fantastic job in constructing the world. The sequences of events in the book are wonderfully presented and the powerful, vibrant descriptions produced a cinematic effect in my imagination. I was also charmed by the impeccable and enchanting writing style. It enraptured me from the very beginning until the last sentence of Chapter 21. So beautifully written! To be honest I read this book in two weeks because I devoured every word. And by the time I finished reading, it was difficult for me to let go.

The madness started with the introduction of Alyssa’s character and her ability to hear voices of plants and insects. I really liked that the main character is presented alongside her intriguing gift. It immediately gives that creepy sensation that crawls on your skin until you’re cloaked with the spine-chilling mystery of the story. I’m always amazed by books that give readers “feels” right away, because it means they are in for a wonderful haunting experience.

So the story takes readers deep into the origin of Alyssa’s ability when she decides to embark on a quest for truth—about her identity and the supposed “curse” that runs in her family. And down the rabbit hole she goes…with the swoon-worthy, selfless and oh-so-handsome Jebediah Holt. Jeb is Alyssa’s best friend who she has a crush on since forever. In the course of their journey through Wonderland, their feelings toward each other were magnified. The passionate kisses and tender moments they shared will make your heart explode with giddiness. Believe me in this one because I caught myself blushing as I read those scenes. 🙂

Now enter Morpheus, the radiant and mystifying winged creature from Wonderland, who frequently visited Alyssa’s dreams when she was a child. Morpheus added flavor to the recipe of this stellar novel. His character’s alluring and daunting presence infused excitement and tension. Some readers may view him as a “villain,” with him being the backbone of conflicts and obstacles in the story. But for me, his manipulative nature is what makes him Morpheus. And even if I’m Team Jeb, there’s something about Morpheus that made me like him. I can’t fathom what that something is but I have a strong feeling that Morpheus is so much more than what I perceived him to be.

This gripping tale of madness and magic took me to a one of a kind adventure and I’m so thrilled there’s a sequel. That ending was a total cliffhanger! I’m so excited to read more!  🙂

Rating:

5/5 stars