A.G. Howard ROSEBLOOD Cover Reveal!

So excited…today, YA Book Central revealed the cover for A.G. Howard’s twist on Phantom of the Opera! Roseblood will be released on January 10, 2017…start your countdowns NOW! And click on over to YA Book Central to enter their rafflecopter giveaway for a copy! (U.S. only.) And now, the lovely cover, designed by the same artist who did the Splintered series…

roseblood

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Ensnared Trailer!

A.G. Howard has released a trailer for Ensnared, the final book in the Splintered trilogy! Check it out here:

Ensnared Final Cover

Ensnared Final Cover

I’ve really enjoyed these books, and I can’t wait to see how the series ends. Ensnared releases on January 13, 2015 in the US.

Ensnared Cover Reveal!

Anyone who reads my blog knows that I love the Splintered series by A.G. Howard, a modern-day Goth spin on “Alice in Wonderland.” The trilogy, started with Splintered (reviewed here) and Unhinged (reviewed here), will conclude with Ensnared in January. The author has been doing a week-long cover reveal that concluded today on Two Chicks on Books. The cover showcases Jeb:

Ensnared Final Cover

Ensnared Final Cover (Amulet Books/ABRAMS)

If you saw the preliminary cover, which was yanked after it was accidentally posted on Edelweiss, you should agree that this is a big improvement. I generally don’t care for Jeb as a character (I’m a Morpheus fan), but this Jeb looks sympathetic and vulnerable (as opposed to the almost villainous looking Jeb on the prelim cover). I love that it’s red, so it looks great with the other two covers from the series.

Splintered Series Covers

Splintered Series Covers

Ensnared will release in hardcover and ebook formats on January 6, 2015. Are you excited? I’m excited!

 

Unhinged (Splintered #2) by A.G. Howard

Unhinged Front Cover (Amulet Books)

Unhinged Front Cover (Amulet Books)

First, I need to thank Amulet Books; I was so excited to be one of the winners of an advance copy on Goodreads! So thank you very much. I loved  Splintered, and could not wait to get my hands on this book. Please keep in mind: although I do not claim to be “Team Morpheus” or an “Alyssa/Morpheus shipper,” I really enjoy Morpheus and do not like Jeb. You have been warned.

NOTE: This review will container spoilers for SPLINTERED, the first book in the series.

THE PLOT: We pick up about a year after Splintered left off. Alyssa and Jeb have been dating for a year (gag), and Alyssa’s mother has picked up the reins of motherhood after her release from the mental hospital. But Morpheus contacts Alyssa…just happening to break up a romantic interlude with Jeb…to tell her Wonderland is in trouble and needs her. When she refuses to help, Morpheus comes through to the real world (stealing a mortal’s body, natch) and proceeds to make life difficult for her at school. But what IS going on here? Is Red really the culprit? And what part in all this is Alyssa’s mother really playing? There’s a couple of very interesting secrets there. And a vision of the future that turns Alyssa’s world upside down. I just LOVE where Alyssa ended up at the end of this book. Such a shock, and yet perfect.

MY TWO CENTS: I love the macabre setting of this world, the clothing descriptions, and the weird art. The author seems to paint a very vivid picture without ever putting the reader into detail overload. I know pro-Jeb readers will probably hate that I loathe him so much and try to convince me what a good guy he is. Don’t.  I don’t like him. Sure, he’s done some good things, but I don’t think he’s a fundamentally consistently good guy. He’s also got the drawback of being a regular old human. When he does stupid and selfish stuff, he doesn’t have the benefit of being able to say, “Hey, I’m a mystical creature from a magical land!” I guess I expect better from a human. I just can’t root for him.

That doesn’t mean I’m necessarily campaigning for Alyssa to end up with Morpheus, though, either. Sure, he’s tons more charismatic, and I think, despite his MANY flaws (he’s a chronic lying manipulator), he better completes Alyssa’s true identity. However, I personally think the best thing for Alyssa would be to walk away from them both, at least for a while. I feel like Alyssa needs time to grow up, to grasp who she REALLY is before she makes any kind of permanent choice. Alyssa may get some of that time at the beginning of Ensnared, since I don’t know that she (or the reader) will see either Jeb OR Morpheus right away. She’s off on a rescue mission, plus there are some issues with her parents.

BOTTOM LINE:  I wish Ensnared wouldn’t be the last volume, but I can’t wait to get my hands on it in any case!

TEACUP RATING: Five out of five cups full of magical tea. Enjoy!

Unhinged Sample Chapter by A. G. Howard

Unhinged Front Cover (Amulet Books)

Unhinged Front Cover (Amulet Books)

If you read my previous review of Splintered by A. G. Howard, you already know that I love the character of Morpheus. So I’m wildly excited to see that the sample chapter for its sequel, Unhinged, features Morpheus and not Jeb. WHEEE!!!!!

Morpheus interrupts a particularly intimate moment between Jeb and Alyssa (that’s my boy!) to pull Alyssa into Wonderland…and looks damn fine while doing it, wearing a black duster coat, red suade pants, and a poet shirt with lacy cuffs. (I’m getting a cross between Captain Jack Harkness and Duran Duran, which is pretty close to perfection for an 80s freak. If you’re too young to have appreciated Duran Duran, go find the video for “Come Undone” and you’ll see what I mean. DO IT NOW!) Anyway..without giving away too many details from Splintered, Morpheus wants Alyssa to return to straighten Wonderland out. Some of the loose ends are ruining the land, and it falls to her to put things right.

Alyssa, of course, refuses because she wants to be with Jeb (because she’s crazy), so Morpheus threatens to come live in the real world instead. Which, from the description of Unhinged, seems to actually happen.

I am all but giddy over this delicious sample chapter, and wildly excited for this book. Mark your calendars: it is scheduled to release on January 7, 2014. I give just the sample chapter 10 out of 5 teacups. (Hey, I can do that…it’s my blog. )
Note: This review is based on a sample chapter provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Splintered by A.G. Howard (Audio Edition)

I’m a sucker for Alice in Wonderland stories, especially those that act as continuations or sequels. I’m especially fascinated by those that focus on the more macabre and surreal elements. The examples that come immediately to mind are the Tim Burton film (natch), American McGee’s game “Alice: Madness Returns,” and the classic Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers video for ” Don’t Come Around Here No More.” Cake, anyone?

audio

Cover for Splintered (Audio Edition), Amulet Books

I don’t remember now how Splintered came to my attention…did I see an ad for it? Was it recommended on Goodreads or Amazon? Not sure, but it caught my eye. I was in need of a new audiobook (yes, I listen to audiobooks at night after my eyes get tired from reading all day) so I bought it.

THE PLOT: Teenage Alyssa Gardner is a descendent of Alice Liddell, THE Alice. Unfortunately, every female in the line eventually goes mad, including Alyssa’s mother, who has been institutionalized since Alyssa was five. Alyssa’s neighbor and crush, Jeb, has family issues of his own, but he’s always been there for Alyssa…until recently, when he hooked up with his new girlfriend (the school’s version of Paris Hilton).

Like her mother before her, Alyssa has started to hear insects and flowers talk, and her research on the family curse inadvertently breaks a pact her mother had made to keep her safe. Now Alyssa is heading down the rabbit hole with Jeb in tow since he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. But they get more than they expected when they meet Morpheus, a mysterious yet familiar character who has an agenda of his own.

MY TWO CENTS: I am not a teenager nor a particularly young adult, so I’m not going to get involved in a “Team Jeb versus Team Morpheus” type debate. I will say this, though: Morpheus is like a mixture of some of my very favorite fictional charactersa generous helping of the Phantom of the Opera (musical version), a sprinkling of Jareth from the movie Labyrinth, a couple spoonfuls of Julian from L.J. Smith’s Forbidden Game trilogy, and a dollop of Captain Jack Sparrow to finish him off. There’s also something of a glam rock star about him.

So, yeah, I LOVE Morpheus. I love him as a character. It might be partially because the audiobook narrator, Rebecca Gibel, does such a good job with his voice. I’m not sure her Cockney accent is spot-on, but it’s close enough to capture the right feel.

I wonder if Gibel’s reading also contributes to my intense dislike of Jeb. Everything he says is so controlling and sometimes demeaning to Alyssa. For example, when he gets the word that she’s trying to score a fake passport, he barges into her house, accuses her of being mean to his girlfriend, and demands to know why she’s “acting out.” He KNOWS that Alyssa spent the day visiting her mother at the asylum, which must be hard for her no matter what happened there. And oh, yeah, Jeb is on his way to prom with the girl he’s moving to London with. Jerk. I don’t like Jeb. I NEVER get to like Jeb, no matter what he does.

Gibel’s reading may make Alyssa seem slightly weaker than how she comes across on the written page. I don’t really fault Gibel for that; she’s trying to give emotion and drama to her reading, so when Alyssa is frightened or uncertain, that’s magnified in the audio.

BOTTOM LINE: I liked the book well enough to also purchase a paper copy so I can really absorb it, and I’m looking forward to the upcoming sequel, Unhinged. For me, though, the big draw is definitely Morpheus. I look forward to finding out what his next plans are for Alyssa, and what charming velvet hat he wears while manipulating her.

TEACUP RATING: I’m going to do something a little different…stars are so overdone! So I’m going to award teacups from now on instead. I’d give the story itself 3 to 3½ teacups, but Morpheus gets a whole teacup just on his own, which brings the total to 4 to 4½ teacups.

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