DNF Review of Illusionarium by Heather Dixon

IllusionariumIllusionarium
By: Heather Dixon
Release Date: May 19th 2015
Publisher: Greenwillow
Format: E-ARC
Source: Publisher

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I made it to 57%

Summary:
From the author of Entwined, a brilliantly conceived adventure through an alternate London. This sweeping, cinematic tale of an apprentice scientist desperate to save his family—and his world—is The Night Circus meets Pixar.

Through richly developed parallel worlds, vivid action, a healthy dose of humor, and gorgeous writing, Heather Dixon spins a story that is breathtaking and wholly original.

My Thoughts:
Did you read that intriguing (and vague) summary? Sounds like perfection-so I knew I’d need to read this book as soon as possible. I’ve read Dixon’s Entwined and enjoyed it so I was even more excited. Pus, look at that cover. Really, what isn’t appealing about this?

Sadly, I think my expectations might have been too high. I enjoyed the beginning of this book but it felt on the younger side of YA and I’d hoped for a more mature storyline. The characters were okay but none of them really gripped me.

Illusionarium does deal with an alternate universe and the way Dixon introduces it through inhaling a drug and pretty much hallucinating the door between worlds was incredibly unique if not a tad hard to visualize. You’d think with drug use and hallucinating this book would feel on the older side of the young adult spectrum but it didn’t for me. The dialog and level of detail seemed nearly middle grade. I believe a good amount of people will become absorbed in the creative world building and enjoy the lighter feel of the story but it fell just a tad short for my taste.

I think my detachment stems from my inability to really connect to the main character, Jonathan. He was likeable, intelligent though on the goofy side. His voice seemed unique to him and I cant really find any real flaw with his character but my connection to him was absent. I wanted to feel more emotionally attached to him and his quest but I couldn’t. I wasn’t overly concerned about how he faired.

The side characters were less developed and felt a tad like caricatures. We spend very little time in Jonathan’s real world so his family members and love interest are quickly forgotten as the new cast of characters from the alternate universe are introduced. I’d also thought the book would be a tad romantic because of that swoony cover but it really wasn’t. There was hardly any romance and I wonder if that if it had been included if I’d have liked the story better. The book does focus on a sibling relationship that was sweet but I wanted a few swoon-moments. Again, I brought my own expectations into the story.

I ended up putting this book aside for more other books with more pressing release dates and after hanging out on my currently reading shelf since December of last year I figured it was time to give up and put this away. I might venture back because I really did enjoy this author’s other book and there wasn’t anything bad per se but it just couldn’t grip me.

I want to know- have you read Illusionarium? If so, would you recommend I go back and finish it?

Review of Ensnared by A.G. Howard

Ensnared (Splintered, #3)Ensnared (Splintered #3)
By: A.G. Howard
Release Date: January 6th 2015
Publisher: Amulet Books
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

A copy of this book was provided in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating:
star

Summary:
After surviving a disastrous battle at prom, Alyssa has embraced her madness and gained perspective. She’s determined to rescue her two worlds and the people and netherlings she loves. Even if it means challenging Queen Red to a final battle of wills and wiles . . . and even if the only way to Wonderland, now that the rabbit hole is closed, is through the looking-glass world–a parallel dimension filled with mutated and violent netherling outcasts. In the final installment of the wildly popular Splintered trilogy, Alyssa and her dad journey into the heart of magic and mayhem in search of her mom and to set right all that’s gone wrong. Together with Jeb and Morpheus, they must salvage Wonderland from the decay and destruction that has ensnared it. But if they succeed and come out alive, can everyone truly have their happily ever after?

My Thoughts:
The difficulty of writing a review for the last of a series…it’s always such a challenge to write a spoiler free review that adequately explains how I’ve felt reading the ending of a series I enjoyed so thoroughly. I had a good amount of expectations going into Ensnared, the first two books were a blast to read with their exquisite details, vivid landscapes and a romance (or two) to swoon over.

This last installment went a tad darker than the previous two but kept me riveted. I’ll admit, after finishing I sat staring at the back of the book trying to fully digest my feelings. With any series finale there will be some that will not approve of the ending. I love that as readers we get so invested in the characters and story we are completely immersed in our personal desires and hopes for the story. I feel that this novel was ended the way that Howard had always intended.

It’ll come as no surprise that Alyssa was pulled in multiple directions not only between her human and Wonderland side but also her feelings between the two men that encapsulate these aspects of her being. I’ve been a full on Team Morph fan from the start and so I revel in every interaction between Alyssa and Morpheus. This book provided me with many heartwarming and wonderful scenes. Some of Morpheus’ dialog was to die for. There was a particular line I had to read multiple times because it was so perfect.

From the start I’ve had a tough time ever liking Jeb. I was shocked to find I was actually able to like him in this book. We see a darker, deeper side to him that I adored. His artistic abilities were forefront again and I absolutely loved where Howard took his part of the story; I felt it was expertly done and so incredibly imaginative. And, yes, I hate to admit it, but I was actually able to ship Alyssa and Jeb for the first time ever. A tip of the hat to Anita for being able to turn me around in the last book of a series. I thought it was impossible to get me to enjoy Jeb.

Of course, Alyssa has a lot of soul searching and discovery to find out about herself and her motivations. Her journey was not an easy one and the final showdown between her and her advisory, Queen Red, was intense and very dark. I adored all of Howard’s lush descriptions and her unending imagination. I had thought that Wonderland was a creepy place but Howard went even further in the looking-glass world. Her description of the denizens of this alternate reality caused revulsion yet the inability to stop reading about the horrifying and twisted inhabitants.

I really don’t want to give away any details about the storyline because anyone that has read the first books of the series has to read this conclusion and those that haven’t started the series should.

Final Thoughts:
I felt that Ensnared was gripping and horrifying though Howard was able to relieve the reader from the gruesome with swoon-worthy moments that will appease fans of both Jeb and Morpheus. I felt that the characters and story have been on this path since the start and it was a pleasure to read the conclusion that the author has had planned for her world and creations. I am thrilled to know that Howard has teased about writing another novella and possibly a spin off? We can only hope and dream that these become a reality because I will miss her unique and mesmerizing take on Wonderland.

Extras:
Review of Splintered
Review of Unhinged
Interview with A.G. Howard
Interview with Nathalia Suellen (cover artist)
Lego Cover of Unhinged

My 2015 Blog New Year’s Resolutions

2015

A new year is right around the corner and it’s customary to figure out our goals/plans for the new year-things we want to strive to accomplish and ways we want to improve. I typically don’t care much to make resolutions but this year I am. I feel like I have a lot I want change in my personal life and in my bloggy life. It’s also a time to reflect on the past year and see if we met the challenges we set out for ourselves.

Review of 2014

Goodreads Reading Challenge:
I set myself a goal of 130 books for the Goodreads Reading Challenge. How did I do?

2014ReadingGoalWith about a week left in 2014 I think I’ll be making my goal.

Twitter:
As for my stats this year-I was so excited to read over 3k on Twitter! I didn’t think I’d ever get over that amount of followers so I was really excited when I did right around the time of my 2 year blog anniversary.

Endof2014twitterBloglovin:
I will have a personal party when I hit 3k and I’m close- just 100 more to go.

Bloglovin2014

Instagram:
I just joined Instagram and started posting a few months ago. I’ve fallen in love with it. I had no clue it was so much fun.

2014instagramI’m on Pintrest and Facebook but not a lot happened with them this year. I feel like Facebook is pretty worthless these days yet I still try to update it on occasion. My pageviews and such leveled out this year and stuck with a pretty typical average. I hope to raise it some this year but we’ll see.

Milestones and Post Popularity

I hit over 100k pageviews this last year and I hope 2015 can see my go over 200k. We shall see. As for my most popular posts…

Interviewwmichael
Next popular posts are

Most popular categories

I also did my first blog redesign which was way easier than I expected and a lot of fun.

2015 Goals and Resolutions

  • Not create a numeric reading goal for myself this year. I think I’ll skip the Goodreads challenge and focus on quality over quantity.
  • I really need to work on my ARC envy. This typically goes in waves for me but I wish I could banish it for good. There are SO many amazing books I already own that I need to read I shouldn’t always be focused on that next big thing.
  • I also want to purge myself of books I know I won’t reread or have duplicates of. I’ve already found about 30 books I want to get rid of so look for many giveaways this coming year.
  • I had this goal last year but I didn’t accomplish it- request less ARCs.
  • I want to be better at writing my review immediately after reading the book. I tend to take notes and then wait a good amount of time before I sit down and work on the review. I feel like I don’t write as informative reviews when I do it this way. Plus, I end up having about 5-7 I need to write. I don’t want that stress.
  • I want to work on more discussion posts
  • ACTUALLY get a Lego cover completed and posted! These take around 8 hours to do and my husband and I have not been making the time.

That’s it for me. I’d love to see your 2015 resolutions…link them in the comments if you have one posted.