Sunday, December 23, 2012

Splintered by A.G. Howard

Splintered by A.G. Howard is not a retelling of Alice in Wonderland, but an extension of the story.  What if Alice Liddell really did go beyond the looking glass?  What if what she experienced was not told correctly in Lewis Caroll’s book?  Splintered is the story of Alyssa Gardner, a descendant of Alice.  Because of Alice’s visit to Wonderland and everything she did there, a curse has been placed on her family that affects the women.  Each descendant is touched with madness, being able to speak and hear nature and being hunted down by Him. 

Alyssa is dealing with her mother being locked away in an asylum because of what occurred 12 years earlier.  Was she trying to kill Alyssa, and who made her do it?  Not only is Alyssa dealing with her mother’s sanity issues but she has also been dealing with her slip in reality since she turned 14.  What lies ahead is a journey down a rabbit hole in order to fix Alice’s mistakes and save the rest of the women in her family, including her.

Armed with small glimpses into her memory, items hidden from the past, her ultimate crush and a strangely familiar guy’s advice Alyssa dives down the rabbit hole.  Here she encounters a Wonderland like no one ever imagined.  To say that Wonderland was already a dark fantasy is an understatement after reading the descriptions in this novel.  On top of the disturbing differences, Alyssa must fulfill her destiny to save Jeb, her crush, and ultimately her blood line.  What really is amazing is the clever twist at the end, the twist that explains the true motives behind the characters of Wonderland.   A very haunting and deceptive tale—much like fairy tales—Splintered is a genuinely good read.

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

The Darkest Minds
The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken is in one word: GOOD.  Not the most flowery of words to use but this story has the ingredients to become the next Hunger Games or Divergent series.  Set in a dystopian world where there is a virus IAAN (Idiopathic Adolescent Acute Neurodegeneration) that is causing children between the ages of 9-13 to die or become PSI (have psychic abilities).  Those that become PSI are feared by the adults and this cause the taking of children from their home, once symptoms hit.  The children are taken to camps and separated by a different color x marking their PSI power.  There are a total of 5 groups: Green, Blue, Yellow, Orange, and Red.  Green means that the child is good at solving puzzles/mathematical equations, the Blue means they have the ability to move objects with their minds, Yellow is for those that can control electricity, Orange is for those that can control others and their thoughts, and Red is not fully explained.

Ruby is our main character, who has been institutionalized since she was ten, she is now 16.  It is unclear what happened to get Ruby sent away, meanwhile you hear about others’ stories.  This leads to a mystery of her true code color.  She is placed with the greens but is that what she really is?  At some point someone infiltrates the camp and breaks Ruby and a boy named Martin out.  Because of their special powers, a group of rebels see them as a ticket to destroying the new world order.  As, Ruby begins to think about this group of rebels and what her part might be, she decides it would be better to make a run for it, to find her grandmother.

She then finds Liam, Chubs and Zu, kids that have escaped another camp and are on the run.  Once she meets up with them a world wind of suspense and lies commence.  Ruby will not tell them her ability, they do not tell her what they have been through and this person they are searching for, an Orange who helps way wards like them, who is he really. Bracken chose the brilliant technique of missing puzzle pieces and strung them along in this novel.  By the end I wasn’t sure what the hell was going on, for that matter I still don’t.  I don’t mean this negatively at all, the end begs for a sequel and I don’ think it is possible to know what will happen in the next book.  I loved it and think this is a great book for both genders since it hits romance, sci-fi, suspense, and thriller.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Surrender (The Ferryman and The Flame, #1) by Rhiannon Paille

Surrender (The Ferryman and the Flame #1)
Kaliel was warned about her love for the Ferryman.  One day he will marry the land and leave Avristar forever.  She doesn’t listen, and because of what she is—a flame, one of the nine apocalyptic weapons, she sparks a war.”

Surrender (The Ferryman and the Flame, #1) by Rhiannon Paille was enchanting and heartbreaking.  The story opens in the Great Library of The Island of Avristar.  Kemplan works in the the Great Library, here he finds a parchment with a drawing on it of the Ferryman and the Flame.  Of course his negative response makes it obvious that something like this happened in the past and destroyed the land, something like this should never happen again.

After that scene we meet the male main character, Krishani, he is elven and is tall, strong, with black hair and one blue and one green eye.  He is part of the brotherhood and his destiny is a big mystery but also a bigger honor.  He first sees Kaliel when she is bathing in the lake, which is forbidden due to the merfolk.

Kaliel is the female main character. Described to be pale skinned, with pale hair and emerald green eyes she is a curious elf.  She swims with the merfolk and speaks to trees, things that others cannot do.  After meeting Krishani a “flame” is sparked within her that cannot die.

The Great Oak is where everyone in Avristar goes to learn their destiny and then they marry the land, which I think means that everything the people of Avristar do is for the land and can only love and be married if the land approves.  The Great Oak has told both Kaliel and Krishani that they will have important roles in the next war of Avristar.  What they eventually realize is that they are the Flame and the Ferryman, respectively. 

The setting is magnificent or at least the descriptions were amazing.  The love story is your classic star crossed lovers story but with fight.  Kaliel will not “surrender” her love to marry the land.  She and Krishani vow to never surrender, but with an old foe searching Avristar for the remainding flames and killing them, will this vow be broken?  A great tale to have in YA libraries.

Stolen Nights (Vampire Queen ,#2) by Rebecca Maizel

Stolen Nights (Vampire Queen, #2)

Infinite Days by Rebecca Maizel was a great read.  I loved her world of vampire, which held an almost gothic romanticism of authors such as Anne Rice.  To be frank it was a breath of fresh air from the cookie cutter vampire stories out now, not that I don’t love those too.  After receiving Stolen Nights (Vampire Queen #2) from it took me about 4 hours to read.  I was not planning to read it but I missed the world of Lenah and frankly after the end of the first book I knew that if Lenah had survived the ritual so had Rhodes.  This led to the question, where the hell is Rhodes?

Stolen Nights tells you where the hell Rhodes has gone to and if you are patient enough Maizel does a beautiful job of unfolding all the intricacies it took to get to book one for the characters.  There was of course no easy way of unfolding their story, that of Rhodes and Lenah.  At times it was difficult to decipher if Rhodes was the wonderful partner Lenah had painted a picture of in book one.  Lenah also seemed to be having difficulty maintaining her faith on Rhodes and their love for each other. 

What about that lovely fellow Justin, you might ask.  Well he is around as well, but there is clearly a change in him.  Whether it is about Rhodes showing up or because he is unsure of Lenah, it is hard to tell.  Okay not really, there are clues as to why Justin is a little different in the sequel but still it is shocking.  There are some, um, nice scenes with Lenah and Justin.

The book is centered on discovering the truth.  What was once thought of each character is tested and strained to better understand how the characters set out on their course during the first book.  With interesting new players, that are potentially harmful and scary, along with the multitude of sacrifices each character has to face Stolen Nights gives the same thrill as Infinite Days.