Review: Splintered

Splintered by A.G. Howard

Series: Splintered

Pages: 371

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Retelling, Romance, Adventure

My Rating: 5/5

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

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“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.”

As most of you know, I’m incredibly stingy when it comes to giving out 5 stars. Very few books I’ve ever reviewed have received a full 5/5 grade.

Splintered is about this girl named Alyssa who has to go to Wonderland so she can have the answers she’s been craving and also to get her mother out of the asylum.

Personally, I’m a huge Alice in Wonderland fan. I liked Disney’s movie, I like the books, the retellings, even the games. If you give me something that’s based around Alice in Wonderland, I will generally fall in love, and Splintered was no exception. I fell for this book almost immediately after reading the first paragraph. It takes you into a new world; one you’re vaguely familiar with, but becomes something wondrous in its own right.

I don’t read things to look smart or show off, I read things that appeal to me, which sometimes means I’m reading children’s books, like The Twits or a Goosebumps book.

Splintered really dragged me into the world of Alyssa and her family. She was a young, courageous, innocent girl that did nothing more than follow her heart. And the writing style was fantastic. It wasn’t written in a “sing-song” way, or a dumbed-down way either, it was just perfect. The imagery within made you feel like you were apart of the story. You could see the stars, feel the ocean, taste the oysters, and smell the decay. All throughout this novel, you were part of the story, you were Alyssa, or Morpheus, or Jeb. You were one of the characters. You felt what they felt, you were there the entire time. A lot of books don’t have the power to drag you in like this one did.

I really liked Alyssa, she reminded me a lot of myself. Innocent and shy with a lot of pent up emotion, just to come out later on as a woman who knows what she wants.

I liked how the characters weren’t solely based off of the Disney movie, nor were they based purely off the book. Howard gave a part of herself when she unleashed her imagination, which was a dark, sometimes grotesque picture. I loved it.

What can I really say about this book? I loved it and if you like Alice in Wonderland, chances are you’ll like it too. I can’t even really complain about the love triangle (that happens in EVERY YA book) because it was interesting. Personally, Morpheus reminded me a lot of M, which sounds weird, but just the way he acted… very protective.

So why did Splintered receive 5/5?

Truth be told, I’m extremely biased. I love Alice in Wonderland and I love reading about other peoples’ interpretations. It’s more of a girly read, but hey! I’m a girl, so it’s okay! And I’d definitely recommend it if you like even the thought of Wonderland and the creatures within. Just keep your mind open, for your own sake.

Enjoy, and happy reading!

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Review: House of Leaves

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

Pages: 709

Genre: Horror, Mystery, Literature, Speculative Fiction, Adult

My Rating: 4/5

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

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“Years ago, when House of Leaves was first being passed around, it was nothing more than a badly bundled heap of paper, parts of which would occasionally surface on the Internet. No one could have anticipated the small but devoted following this terrifying story would soon command. Starting with an odd assortment of marginalized youth — musicians, tattoo artists, programmers, strippers, environmentalists, and adrenaline junkies — the book eventually made its way into the hands of older generations, who not only found themselves in those strangely arranged pages but also discovered a way back into the lives of their estranged children.

Now, for the first time, this astonishing novel is made available in book form, complete with the original colored words, vertical footnotes, and newly added second and third appendices.

The story remains unchanged, focusing on a young family that moves into a small home on Ash Tree Lane where they discover something is terribly wrong: their house is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.

Of course, neither Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Will Navidson nor his companion Karen Green was prepared to face the consequences of that impossibility, until the day their two little children wandered off and their voices eerily began to return another story — of creature darkness, of an ever-growing abyss behind a closet door, and of that unholy growl which soon enough would tear through their walls and consume all their dreams.”

Um, wow.

This was an interesting read, and by no means a fast one. Within this novel (if you’d even call it that) there are probably 4 stories and all of the quotes and references it makes constantly have you flipping through pages to find the next thing. There are pages with one word on it, pages where you have to turn the book upside down or sideways, and to be honest, there were times I didn’t know what was going on. This book really tests your ability to multi-task because there is so much going on and you are constantly flipping from one subject/story to the next, and it isn’t as though it ends before it switches, oh no, no, it will switch right in the middle of a sentence. You have to remember what was said so that 4 pages later, after reading the other part, you can continue with what you first started reading.

Confused yet?

In all honesty, it wasn’t that hard to follow, there was just a lot of information from within. It definitely gives you a lot to think about in regards to how novels are written; it challenges everything you know!

What made me choose this book was the fact it’s about a house that’s bigger on the inside. I’m a Doctor Who fan and it (obviously) made me think of the tardis, though it’s not even close to being similar.

Basically, this guy named Johnny collects papers from Zampano, and puts it all together. Simultaneously, we’re reading about the Navidson record and what’s happening with Navy and Karen.

There’s a family living in this house that (did my font colour change? No, not the blue. I just realized I could change the colour) finds closets pop up out of nowhere and there are hallways that lead, seemingly, to nowhere. The Navidson record is a bunch of photographs and recorded information from when they decided to search this area.

It’s hard to explain, you’d have to read it for yourself.

I was actually quite freaked out while reading this. The growling in the dark really disturbed me (I’m terrified of the dark) and I had to put the book out of sight for a while just because it got to me. I think this book is a real psychological thriller. Not in the way that other novels are, but this makes you think. What is real? What IS reality?

I started questioning my sanity!

Is this house controlled by psychological fear? It seemed that everything that was happening was based on someone’s psychological state. The book, at one point, even states something about the psychological state. Now THAT really made me start thinking!

The ending also got to me. Johnny’s mother was in an asylum. She was constantly writing letters to him, and I don’t know if she was actually insane or not. A lot of the same things had been happening to Johnny (ie. nightmares). His mother seemed more sane than anyone in the book! But it got me thinking… was Johnny real? Early on, I questioned whether Zampano ever existed. Was his mother actually him? Did any of this really happen?

So many questions…

Maybe I misunderstood some stuff (I skimmed some parts), but I don’t know if there’s anything to misunderstand, it seems to be open for interpretation. And I couldn’t imagine how long it took to write, it seemed like a lot of these references were made up! I also didn’t find it “terrifying” like some did. It made you think more than feel like running away.

Anyway, if you’re looking to read something out of the box and different from what you’re used to, I totally suggest this book. It wasn’t the greatest, but it was pretty good. I gave it a 4/5 just because of the sheer insanity within. I’ve never seen a book like this before (besides an I-spy book) where you need a mirror to read pages and do all this other stuff.

This book isn’t a read. It’s an experience.

Enjoy, and happy reading!

Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Pages: 352

Genre: Fantasy, Horror, Young Adult, Paranormal

My Rating: 4/5

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“It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that Miss Peregrine’s children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow – impossible though it seems – they may still be alive.

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.”

* * *

A lot of people rated this book quite low, and my reasoning on why was the fact that this story wasn’t exactly scary. No, not in the slightest. But I don’t think that was the intention. Sure, the photographs were, at times, quite creepy, but most old photography (1800’s – early 1900’s) does look to be quite eerie.

Despite it not being horrifying (and thank goodness for that), I really enjoyed being taken on this journey. There were times I thought Jacob was a whiny character, but c’mon, he’s a 16 year old boy with no friends (kind of reminds me of me at that age). The way the pictures are paired with the story is absolute genius. It’s always fun to use your imagination and you always do while reading, but having a bit of an “imaginational push” was great! I’m a sucker for anything old though.

I thought the grandfather was great. As kids, what’s better than our grandparents telling us these lavish stories about their lives? Their accounts of things, their experiences, their history.

And even better than that, what’s better than a *spoiler alert… well, sort of* bunch of kids living in a time loop?

I think the thing that really captivated me about this story was the adventure. This boy, Jacob, goes on such an adventure. He doesn’t know if his grandpa’s stories are true or not – he doesn’t see how they could be and even questions his own sanity, despite all of this, he still goes on the adventure to find out the truth. And let me get started on these children. What is cooler (actually, it’s rather hot) than kids that have these… powers? Fire, invisibility, the ability to float – freaking awesome.

Overall, I gave this book a 4/5. I’m usually pretty stingy on giving stars, but I thoroughly enjoyed this read and I’d suggest to anyone to give it a read despite all of the 1-2 stars people seem to endlessly give it.

It won’t have you jumping out of your seat but there are some disturbing aspects and it really is a fun journey.

Enjoy, and happy reading!