{Review/Giveaway} SPLINTERED by A.G. Howard

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O P E N I N G   H O O K:

Splintered (Splintered, #1)
    I'VE BEEN collecting bugs since I was ten; it's the only way I can stop their whispers. Sticking a pin though the gut of an insect shuts it up pretty quick.

Some of my victims line the walls in shadow boxes, while others get sorted into mason jars and placed on a bookshelf for later use. Crickets, beetles, spiders . . . bees and butterflies. I'm not picky. Once they get chatty, they're fair game.

They're easy enough to capture. All you need is a sealed plastic bucket filled with Kitty Litter and a few banana peels sprinkled in. Drill a hole in the lid, slide in a PVC pipe, and you have a bug snare. The fruit peels attract them, the lid traps them, and the ammonia from the litter smothers and preserves them.

The bugs don't die in vain. I use them in my art, arranging their corpses into outlines and shapes. Dried flowers, leaves, and glass pieces add color and texture to the patterns formed on plaster backgrounds. These are my masterpieces . . . my morbid mosaics.

(Pages 1-2, US paperback edition)

Tearing down the rest of the world won't make you happy. Look inside yourself. Because finding who you were meant to be? What you were put into this world to do? That's what fills the emptiness. It's the only things that can. 

~Alyssa Gardner, SPLINTERED

Have you ever read a book, hungry for a twisted retelling of a familiar tale and thought, this just isn't twisted enough? I know that I have, and if you're like me I'll tell you that SPLINTERED by A. G. Howard will fill that deep set need inside of you. It's a vibrant snap crackle pop of darkly creative narration, and disturbingly colorful scenery. Alyssa Gardner lives a somewhat normal life; sure she hears the bugs and flowers around her whispering, and sure she uses dead bugs as an art aesthetic, but she also attends high school, falls of her skateboard when she messes up a jump, and harbors a painfully secret crush on her best friend,  Jeb. She worries about her father, and for the mother lives in sedated torture at an insane asylum, and she fears that she is going to wind up just like her.

Okay, so there's actually some very abnormal stuff about Alyssa. Especially when she learns that the "insanity" prevalent among the women in her family is actually a curse. Out of love for her mother Alyssa has to put together clues and fight to get into Wonderland, which is not at all the Wonderland from Lewis Carrol's stories. It's gruesome, dangerous, with hungry creatures that can be friend one moment and foe the next. Jeb is accidentally brought along with her, and as her quest is weaved and reweaved and goes through several metamorphosis Alyssa must struggle to right the wrongs of her late ancestor Alice and get herself and Jeb home safely.

I've got to talk about the narrative style first and foremost. I love that it's in first person narration, because it adds a special sort of intimacy between the reader and Alyssa. We feel directly tapped into her thoughts and feelings, like we took a sip from the Drink Me bottle and shrank to a size small enough to be slipped into her pocket and taken along to Wonderland. As a character she is fiery, smart, and passionate, ostracized by things beyond her control, but still fragile and very very easy to relate to, and the narration really brings out her personality in very layered chunks. The imagery in this book is dark and otherworldly, making sure this new Wonderland jumps off the page and stabs you through the heart. And the snarky banter between the characters makes you laugh and shudder at the same time, which is a hard combination to pull off.

What I love is the gruesome way Howard reimagines Wonderland. The White Rabbit is not actually so rabbit-like at all, instead appearing as a semi humanoid creature with antlers, and it's body half eaten away till it is noting but skeleton. Those pretty talking flowers you remember from the Disney movie? Yeah they have more eyes than a spider, and teeth that want to eat you up. That line OFF WITH HER HEAD, has a much more literal meaning and terrible consequences. Everything Alyssa thought to expect from this world is  twisted and maimed, and if that wasn't intriguing enough, the plot shifts and gathers layers and surprises both her and the reader. And if you're looking for a nice balance of high dark fantasy with a twist of romantic tension that doesn't overshadow the meat of the plot, this book is perfect. There's a bit of a love triangle between Alyssa, Jeb, and the darkly seductive Morpheus who serves as Alyssa's guide to Wonderland.  It's an underlying point of tension, but it's not the only one, instead a cog in a well oiled machine that gives you a little bit of everything.

If you're ready to fall down the rabbit hole with a strong, intriguing female lead, this book is for you. If you want to tremble with delirious admiration of how the author rebuilds the familiar childhood tale into something more sinister and grown up, this book is for you. It's part of a trilogy, and I can tell you from personal experience that you will want to dive into the second book as soon as you're finished SPLINTERED. This fractured tale will puncture your mind and haunt your dreams in the best of ways.


Content Ratings: highlight between ( ) for details

Romance: PG13 ( There are a few makeout scenes, sexual innuendos, and talks about sexuality in general. )
Language: PG13  ( Not over the top but the language does get rough a few times )
Violence:  PG13 Violence occurs but is not lingered on any longer than necessary. )
Other:  --
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

The cover is gloriously haunting and enchanting all at once. Alyssa's face is crazed and ethereal and intelligent. All the green behind her, the vibrant color of her lips and the bugs around her make it clear that you are not about to step into your mamma's Wonderland.
O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Author: A. G. Howard
Release Date: January 1st, 2013
Publisher: Amulet Books
Recieved: Purchased


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.



During A Week of Wonderland,
We're giving away a book of YOUR CHOICE
from the event!

It could be SPLINTERED!

This giveaway is INTERNATIONAL to any country that Book Depository ships to.  You can also claim an e-book as a prize; it doesn't have to be a physical copy!

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