Review: Splintered – I’m out of this rabbit hole

splintered-ag-howardSplintered (Splintered, #1) by A.G. Howard
Publication date: January 1, 2013 by Amulet Books
Genres: Fantasy | Retellings | Young Adult
Pages: 371
Links to: Amazon | Goodreads

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.

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Review: A Darker Shade of Magic – definitely magical and entertaining

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
Publication date: February 24th, 2015 by Tor Books
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 378
Links to: Amazon | Goodreads

Kell is one of the last Travelers—rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit.

Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. Once there was Black London—but no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see. This dangerous hobby sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to another world for her ‘proper adventure’.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive—trickier than they hoped.

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Review: The Winner’s Curse – I asked for politics, not pretty dresses!

The Winner’s Curse (The Winner’s Trilogy, #1) by Marie Rutkoski
Publication date: March 4, 2014 by Farrar Straus Giroux
Genres: Fantasy | Romance | Young Adult
Pages: 355
Links to: Amazon | Goodreads

Winning what you want may cost you everything you love…

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

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Review: Peter Pan – cute, innocent and… devilish?

Peter Pan by James M. Barrie
Publication date: October 1st 2003 by Henry Holt and Co. (first published January 1st 1902)
Genres: Adventure | Children | Classics | Fantasy
Pages: 176
Links to: Amazon | Goodreads

Peter Pan, the book based on J.M. Barrie’s famous play, is filled with unforgettable characters: Peter Pan, the boy who would not grow up; the fairy, Tinker Bell; the evil pirate, Captain Hook; and the three children–Wendy, John, and Michael–who fly off with Peter Pan to Neverland, where they meet Indians and pirates and a crocodile that ticks. Renowned children’s-book artist Michael Hague has brought the amazing adventures of Peter Pan to life. His beautiful illustrations capture the wild, seductive power of this classic book. This newly designed edition will be enjoyed by fans young and old alike.

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Review: The Snow Child – a whimsical tale

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
Publication date: February 1st, 2012 by Reagan Arthur Books
Genre: Fantasy | Fairytale Retelling
Pages: 368
Links to: Amazon | Goodreads

Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart–he breaking under the weight of the work of the farm, she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season’s first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning, the snow child is gone–but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees. This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods. She hunts with a red fox at her side, skims lightly across the snow, and somehow survives alone in the Alaskan wilderness. As Jack and Mabel struggle to understand this child who could have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they come to love her as their own daughter. But in this beautiful, violent place things are rarely as they appear, and what they eventually learn about Faina will transform all of them.

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The Bazaar of Bad Dreams – varied and great

The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King
Publication date: November 3rd, 2015 by Hodder & Stoughton
Genres: Fantasy | Short Stories
Pages: 483
Links to: Amazon | Goodreads

The No. 1 bestselling writer presents a generous collection of stories – some brand new, all assembled for the first time in one book – each with a revelatory introduction.

Stephen King has dazzled readers with his genius as a writer of novellas
and short story fiction since his first collection Night Shift was published. ‘There’s something to be said for a shorter, more intense experience,’ writes King. ‘It can be invigorating, sometimes even shocking, like … a beautiful curio for sale laid out on a cheap blanket at a street bazaar.’

In The Bazaar of Bad Dreams there is a curio for every reader – a man who keeps reliving the same life, repeating the same mistakes over and over again, a columnist who kills people by writing their obituaries, a
poignant tale about the end of the human race and a firework competition
between neighbours which reaches an explosive climax.

There are also intriguing connections between the stories – themes of morality, guilt, the afterlife and what we would do differently if we could see into the future or correct the mistakes of the past.

Effervescent yet bittersweet, juxtaposing the everyday against the unexpected, these stories comprise one of King’s finest gifts to both his ‘Constant Reader’ and new audience. King introduces each with a
fascinating autobiographical passage about its origins or his motivation
for writing it, giving unique insight into his craft which will delight the millions inspired by his celebrated non-fiction title On Writing.

‘I made them especially for you’, says King. ‘Feel free to examine them,
but please be careful. The best of them have teeth.’

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Review: Unnatural Creatures – all things weird and fantastical

Unnatural Creatures by Neil Gaiman
Publication date: April 23rd 2013, by  Harper Collins
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 469
Links to: Amazon | Goodreads

Unnatural Creatures is a collection of short stories about the fantastical things that exist only in our minds—collected and introduced by beloved bestselling author Neil Gaiman. The sixteen stories gathered by Gaiman, winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards, range from the whimsical to the terrifying. The magical creatures range from werewolves to sunbirds to beings never before classified. E. Nesbit, Diana Wynne Jones, Gahan Wilson, and other literary luminaries contribute to the anthology.

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