Splintered

Splintered by A.G. Howard

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Alyssa Gardner is cursed. Literally cursed. And it’s all because of her great-great-great grandmother Alice Liddell (of Alice in Wonderland fame) visited the land full of wonders and left it turned upside down.

Because of the first Alice, Alyssa can hear the tiny voices of insects and the ever so quiet murmurs of plants. In her heart of hearts, she knows it’s only a matter of time before she ends up like her mother – locked up in an insane asylum, eating any and all means out of tea cups.

When Alyssa’s mother tells her there’s buried treasure hidden deep beneath the daisies, she chalks it up to crazy talk. But crazy talk, it is not! Buried deep within the cushions of her father’s favorite, daisy covered recliner chair, everything she needs to right the wrongs of the first Alice.

So when she’s sucked through the looking-glass, following a beautifully colored moth named Morpheus, with best friend and crush Jeb trailing behind Alyssa find’s that everything she’s ever believed to be nothing more than fictitious ramblings of a crazy person, is a reality.

But Wonderland isn’t what she expected. It’s a terrifying place where danger lurks around every corner. Will Alyssa survive? And if she does manage to survive, will she be strong enough to bring peace and order to a land that’s full of, well, madness?

Splintered, author A.G. Howard’s debut novel, is a fantastically twisted retelling of Lewis Carroll’s beloved Alice in Wonderland.

Howard’s writing is simply stunning. Not only did she successfully manage to take a known world, and flush it out further and to her own imagining, but she also made Wonderland come to life. Howard’s twisted version of Wonderland is vivid and lush. Readers will instantly feel as if, they too, were sucked through the looking-glass and into a world so terrifyingly beautiful. Wonderland, is modern, mysterious, yet guarded and dangerous. World building is a skill, and one that author Howard obviously excels at.

Beyond a world Howard has created memorable characters that readers will sympathize with, will root for, and will face both ups and downs with simultaneously. Alyssa, Splintered’s main character, is one tough cookie. No matter how much she would love Jeb to be her knight in shining armor, she really doesn’t need one. Alyssa has no problem saving the day or her family on her own terms.

At it’s core Splintered is a debut novel that if full of action, adventure, and of course suspense. But buried deep down, it’s also a novel about love. Through Alyssa, who loves as fiercely as she fights, readers get the chance to see that love really does conquer all. And that there’s nothing more important in life than family and friends.

Readers going into Splintered will easily assume that they have it all figured out. Afterall, it’s a retelling, isn’t it? Yes, but it’s so much more. Howard’s retelling, but doesn’t really need nor does it rely on its classic counterpart. Chock full of twists and turns, readers will be blindsided, but in the best way possible.

Splintered is a stunning debut that will both capture and captivate readers attention and hearts. And for fans looking for more, they’ll be happy to find out that Splintered # 2 – Unhinged – is due to hit shelves January 2014.

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Book of the Week: Cats Night Out

Cats Night Out by Caroline Stutson Illustrated by Jon Klassen

Published: 2010 by Simon & Schuster

Reasons why I liked this book, and chose it as Book of the Week:

These aren’t just regular cats – these are dancing cats! And who doesn’t love a cat that can dance?!?

I really enjoyed the overall feel of this book.

This book really made me want to explore other kinds of music, kinds that I normally wouldn’t listen to.

Set in the heart of the City, readers will be able to find cats dancing and prancing all over rooftops.

What kind of dances can these cats do: they samba, they boogie woogie in poodle skirts, they tango, and tip tap in pink tuxedos.

There’s music to be found all over the city – drifting from the smooth jazz clubs, from apartment windows, from the beats found in their dance-filled cat hearts.

With each page, the number of dancing cats almost doubles. Starting up with two, than four, than six.

I love how this book isn’t only about music and dancing cats. It’s a book that will really help young readers learn all about numbers in a fun-fill way.

The cats also line dance in rhinestone boots, twist and turn, fox trot in top hats, rumba, polka, and conga along clothes lines.

Unfortunately the human neighbors aren’t too happy with the dancing cats or with all the loud music drifting into their windows and waking them up at all odd hours of the evening.

But it’s getting lighter out, and the cats know that their evening dance marathons are coming to an end.

The text rhymes. Beyond that it’s a solidly written picture book that will really capture reader’s attention.

The illustrations are spectacular. I especially love the use of darker colors.

Speaking of illustrations, I really loved how when the cats were busy dancing they were wearing some hip threads, but when they returned to their normal cat lives at sunrise they were suddenly clothes-less.

And I love how all the humans featured in the book all look the same. And they are all wearing the same clothes.

This book, even though short and sweet, is a really fun read.

 

This was a really fun book.

Golden (Golden # 1)

Golden (Golden # 1) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

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Felicity “Lissy” James has the sight. She possesses the unique ability to, not only read, but actually see people’s auras. She’s never wanted this ability, believing it to be a curse rather than a blessing.

But when she and her family move from sunny California to the middle of nowhere Oklahoma, Lissy soon learns that her sight is both a curse and a blessing.

In Emory High you’re either a Golden or a Non. For Lissy, being able to see the various shades of auras she knows exactly who’s a Golden and who definitely isn’t.

As if the social hierarchy wasn’t bad enough, Lissy realizes that something or someone around her in pure evil. And it’s up to her, through the gift of the sight, to put an end to it all.

Golden is the first book in, not only author Jennifer Lynn Barnes Golden duet, but the first book that she ever had published!

There is a lot to really enjoy about Barnes’ debut, Golden. Barnes excels at creating a straight-up paranormal book that’s incredibly unique. The fact that Lissie’s paranormal ability isn’t a cliché ability, is what really makes Golden stand out.

As readers, we’ve seen vampires that sparkle, humans who have to ability to, not only hunt, but even fall in love with ghosts, and even angels fighting to save the human race. But never once aura readers!

Beyond uniqueness, Golden is thought-provoking. Readers will find themselves thinking, if everyone has an aura, what color is mine? Do the people who think we connect with, really connect with our auras?

At it’s core, Golden is a coming of age story. Lissy transform from a girl who struggles with who she is and the gift she possesses to a person who fully embraces and fully understands the importance of her abilities.

Barnes’ characters are real. They aren’t perfect – they make mistakes, they get into trouble, they are flawed. Because of this, the characters that fill the pages of Golden are relatable, even the one’s that weren’t so likable.

Barnes’ Golden, though quick, is a really fun, well written read that will satisfy all readers tastes.

Spring Cleaning Giveaway Hop

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Spring is in the air!

And what does that mean? I means it’s out with the old and in with the new!  Once again I’m participating in I Am A Reader, Not A Writer’s annual Spring Cleaning Giveaway Hop. It’s a chance for me to unload some books, and for you my readers to win some!

So! What’s up for grabs this time around?

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A (used) ARC (advanced readers copy) of Eireann Corrigan’s The Believing Game. Along with the ARC winner will recieve an assortment of bookmarks or swag.

Giveaway is open to U.S. Residents only, ages 13 years old and older.

Giveaway will run from March 20th, 2013 (12:01 a.m.) until March 25th, 2013 (11:59 p.m.).  To enter simply leave a comment on THIS BLOG POST ONLY telling what your love about spring? (Personally, I love the weather. It’s not too cold, but isn’t too warm. It’s just right!). When leaving a comment please make sure to leave a valid e-mail address.

Winner will be notified via email on March 26th and will have two days, until March 28th, to respond to e-mail with mailing information.  If a response is not recieved within the given time-frame a new winner will have to be selected.

Thank You to Kathy over at I Am A Reader, Not a Writer for hosting such a great giveaway hop. As always there’s many, many other blogs participating so make sure to check them all out!

 

Book of the Week: This Is Not My Hat

This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen

Published: 2012 by Candlewick

Reasons why I liked this book, and chose it as Book of the Week:

I previously read I Want My Hat Back and really loved it.

I love the tiny fish, wearing a tiny hat on the cover.

Even though the cover is rather simplistic, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t attractive. I firmly believe that this cover will, in fact, draw in readers.

The main character, the tiny fish, admits that he’s a thief. That the hat isn’t is, and that he took it.

It isn’t a mystery as to who he stole it from. He stole it from an exceptionally large fish. One so large he spans two full pages …. literally!

Okay, how did this teeny tiny fish steal a hat from a gigantic one? It’s a mystery.

Not really, the big fish was napping.

This book made me wonder about things I’ve never wondered about before. Like, do fish sleep with their eyes closed? Also, I wonder what KIND of fish the main characters are?

Even though the tiny fish thinks he’s safe, and he pulled off this hat heist, he really didn’t. The big fish knows that his hat has gone missing. We all know the tiny hat didn’t grow equally tiny feet and walk, or swim, away.

The big fish knows exactly who’s behind the heist. So big fish swims out in search of, not just his hat, but the tiny fish.

But the tiny fish is hiding.

Since the readers are obviously NOT the gigantic fish, he let’s readers know exactly where he is going to hide.

Hiding place #1: in the plants. Specifically the plants that grow wild, big, tall, and very close together.

But there’s a slight problem with his hiding place: someone, a crab, has seen him. Will he tell big fish?

Of course the crab tells. Well, he points the way.

The little fish knows that stealing is wrong, but he has a good reason for taking the hat: it was simply too small for the gigantic fit. Besides, it fits him just right.

I love when the tiny fish is hiding in the camouflaging plants. Even though he thinks he’s shielded, he really isn’t. Readers will be able to spot him, maybe not easily, but they will spot him none the less.

They’ll also spot the gigantic fish hot on his tail — err, fin!

I love how this book has a touch of mystery. Readers will want to know if the gigantic fish will ever get his hat back?!?

I love the illustrations that fill this book. Especially the use of the dark colors.

The writing, though simple, is stellar.

I think this book would make a great bed time story!

This book is such a fun book, I found myself laughing out loud at several spots.

It’s a must read for any love of children’s lit!

Shootin’ the Breeze with Daphne Benedis-Grab

A few years back, when I was just starting Grad school, and started dipping my toes into the world of teen books a book titled Alive and Well in Prague, New York was one of the first teen books I read.

Picking it up blindly from my local library’s shelf, I read Alive and Well in Prague, New York within a few short days. Besides really loving the coming of age/finding yourself storyline, what I remember really loving about the book was the writing.

From the moment I closed the back cover of Daphne Benedis-Grab’s debut, I knew she was an author that I would definitely want to read more from. So I waited, and I waited patiently.

Waiting paid off, for both me, and for you readers.

I had the chance to read this great book, and now readers you get the chance to get to know author Daphne Benedis-Grab a little bit better.

Daphne was kind enough to take time from her busy schedule to anser a few questions for The BookBandit Blog and for all it’s readers!

BookBandit Blog (BB): Can you tell me about yourself, and your journey as a writer?

Daphne Benedis-Grab (DBG): I always knew I wanted to be a writer but somehow I could never think of exactly the story I wanted to tell.  Meanwhile, while still in my twenties and then into my thirties, I couldn’t seem to stop reading YA books. I would hide them in my lap on the subway, hoping no one would wonder while the lady well past her teen years was still indulging in teen books.  But then one day I was glancing through the acknowledgments of a book I had just finished and enjoyed, and I saw that the author had gotten an MFA at The New School.  I decided an MFA was just what I needed to find my story and when I got their catalog I saw that in addition to a concentration in adult fiction, they also had one in writing for children and teens.  Bells went off and I realized the stories I had to tell were teen stories- and once I figured that out, I couldn’t stop coming up with story ideas!  I will also tell you that I still read YA on the subway, now held up proudly for anyone to see!

BB: What was the inspiration behind The Girl in the Wall?

DBG: I am generally inspired by my overly active imagination.  I am always wondering “what if.”  That is not so good when I am alone at home and scare myself, but it can be a great way to come up with a story idea.  In the case of The Girl in the Wall I started thinking about what would happen if a party was taken hostage, and once the idea was born I couldn’t stop playing it through, thinking about what would happen next.

BB: The Girl in the Wall is told from two different perspectives – Ariel and Sera’s perspectives. Which of the two was the easiest perspective to write from? Which was the hardest? Why?

DBG: I think they were each challenging and easy in different ways.  Sera is more like me so her voice came easily and I never had to think about her reactions to things.  Ariel was more of a reach but she is sassy and badass which is super fun to write!

BB: If The Girl in the Wall were to be made into a movie, who would you want to see cast as Ariel? As Sera? As Hudson? As Nico?

DBG: I adore Pretty Little Liars so I’d love to see Ashley Benson as Ariel and Lucy Hale as Sera.  For Hudson Logan Lerman- I thought he was awesome in Perks of Being a Wallflower.  And Diego Boneta for Nico- amongst other things he guest starred on PLL.

BB: Do you have any project you’re working on that you can share?

DBG: Right now I am writing a book that is the complete opposite of The Girl in the Wall.  It’s a middle grade mystery centering around a Christmas tradition in a small town- it will be out in fall 2014.

BB: What are you currently reading?

DBG: I am about to start Boy 21 by Matthew Quick.  I know I am going to love it because his book Sorta Like a Rockstar is one of my all time favorites.

BB: Any advice you can give to aspiring writers?

DBG: Write what you know and what you love.  Don’t be afraid of criticism it will make your writing stronger.  Revision is a part of the process- a first draft is never perfect so don’t try to make it so- just get your story out.  And last but most important- enjoy it as you go!

The Girl in the Wall

The Girl in the Wall by Daphne Benedis-Grab

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Ariel’s birthday is going to be the social event of, not just the year, but quite possibly the entire century. And everyone is looking forward to it. That is, except for Sera.

Once upon a time Ariel and Sera were best friends. But that was before the incident in Mexico, before Ariel turn her back on her supposed traitor best friend. Since than Sera is a social pariah, normally ignored but often ridiculed.

There is only two reasons why Sera is even going. One, her father – who’s completely oblivious to the Ariel situation – is forcing her to go. And two, Hudson Winter, the singing heart-throb will be giving a private show.

But when masked-men storm the room just as Hudson takes the stage, killing Ariel’s father and the person they think is Ariel, both Ariel and Sera know this party is not going to be what they expected it to be.

The Girl in the Wall is author Daphne Benedis-Grab’s second novel, and it’s an exciting one!

Full of twists and unforseen turns Benedis-Grab has written a novel that is taut with both mystery and suspense. As Ariel and Sera struggle to survive the long night ahead of them, reader’s struggle alongside of them, trying to figure out who exactly is the mastermind behind the hostage situation.

Benedis-Grab’s writing is strong, purposeful, and really drives the plot forward. She’s spun a story that will capture reader’s attention and really play with reader’s emotions. One page they’ll be laughing at the corny jokes Ariel’s father is cracking, and then the next they’ll feel as if they are fearing for their own lives.

The Girl in the Wall is told from both Ariel and Sera’s perspectives. This facet of Benedis-Grab’s novel adds a layer of depth. Readers will get the chance to see that Ariel is a fierce character – one that loves her family and friends, including Sera, a lot. While seeing that Sera, though the social pariah, is strong – of mind and of body. Together these two leading ladies make for a lethal combination – but in a good way.

The Girl in the Wall is a quick read, clocking in at just over two-hundred pages. But don’t let it’s length fool you. It’s an action-packed, layered read that will keep reader’s guessing, and even when all is said and done, wanting more!