Review of Unhinged by A.G. Howard

Unhinged (Splintered #2)Unhinged (Splintered #2)
By: A.G. Howard
Publisher: Amulet
Release Date: January 7th 2014
Purchase:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble

An arc was sent by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

My Rating:
star

This is the sequel to Splintered. There are spoilers from the first book.

Summary:
Alyssa Gardner has been down the rabbit hole and faced the bandersnatch. She saved the life of Jeb, the guy she loves, and escaped the machinations of the disturbingly seductive Morpheus and the vindictive Queen Red. Now all she has to do is graduate high school and make it through prom so she can attend the prestigious art school in London she’s always dreamed of.

That would be easier without her mother, freshly released from an asylum, acting overly protective and suspicious. And it would be much simpler if the mysterious Morpheus didn’t show up for school one day to tempt her with another dangerous quest in the dark, challenging Wonderland—where she (partly) belongs.

As prom and graduation creep closer, Alyssa juggles Morpheus’s unsettling presence in her real world with trying to tell Jeb the truth about a past he’s forgotten. Glimpses of Wonderland start to bleed through her art and into her world in very disturbing ways, and Morpheus warns that Queen Red won’t be far behind.

If Alyssa stays in the human realm, she could endanger Jeb, her parents, and everyone she loves. But if she steps through the rabbit hole again, she’ll face a deadly battle that could cost more than just her head.

My Thoughts:
When I finished Splintered I was desperate for more of Howard’s Wonderland and its creepy residents.  The moment the sequel was announced I knew I’d be reading it as soon as possible. When I laid eyes on the Unhinged cover and saw that Morpheus was prominent I was ecstatic since he is my favorite character in the first book. Thankfully, Unhinged did not disappoint even though less time was spent in Wonderland and the story focused more on Alyssa’s human side.

Unhinged starts a year after Alyssa has made her decision to live in the human world and with Jeb. Howard did a wonderful job showing Wonderland and Morpheus dripping into her day to day life even though she has chosen to reside in the human realm. The imagery is even creepier than in the first book (a toy clown anyone?) and to me, the descriptions and general aura resonated darker than Splintered.

Howard kept up a fast paced adventure that delved deeper into family history and secrets as well as showing a girl who’s heart is torn between two men and realities. I’m not usually much for a love triangle, but in this case it didn’t bother me due to the separation of worlds. I know that when the cover was released many Jeb fans feared that he would not star prominently in the book. I didn’t feel that he was absent and I was actually surprised with how large a part he played.  In Splintered I had some problems with his character and veered on strongly disliking him.  Again in Unhinged he wasn’t a character I felt drawn to and questioned his loyalties and priorities.

Personally, I will always be more intrigued and drawn to Morpheus due to his darkness and depth of mystery. I felt that his character was further developed and I enjoyed every scene he made an appearance in. I think it is a testament to Howard’s writing ability that she has created a character that manipulates and twists other’s motives and actions yet retains immense likeability. The fact that he teeters between good and evil but I still feel sympathetic to him is impressive.

One of the aspects I enjoyed most about Unhinged was the focus Howard took in Alyssa’s mother and father. Her mother has been released from the asylum and is regaining her life and relationships. We get to learn more about how and why she was put in the asylum to begin with. I found this entire story arc to be fascinating.

Final Thoughts:
Once again Howard has taken me on an adventure through dark and light and I loved every moment of it. I love her interpretation of Wonderland and those that inhabit it and seeing them venture into the human realm was a treat. The cliff hanger she left me on was painful but a pain I gladly take though the wait for the next installment will be painful.

Extras:
LEGO Morpheus
Interview with A.G. Howard
Interview with the cover artist Nathalia Suellen
Review of Splintered

Top Ten Tuesday-Sequels I Can’t Wait To Get My Hands On + Giveaway

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week a different question is posed and gives us bloggers an opportunity to share our top tens on all different types of bookish topics. This week’s topic:

Sequels I Can’t Wait To Get My Hands On
There are so many but these were the first to come to mind:

 Dreams of Gods & Monsters (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #3)Ignite Me (Shatter Me, #3)Between the Spark and the Burn
In the End (In the After, #2)Ruin and Rising (The Grisha, #3)Winter (Lunar Chronicles, #4)

1. Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor
2. Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi
3. Between the Spark and the Burn by April Genevieve Tucholke
4. In the End by Demitria Lunetta
5.  Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
6. Winter by Marissa Meyer
These don’t have covers yet but so eager for them regardless
7. . Shadow Scale (Seraphina #2) by Rachel Hartman
8. Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin #3) by R.L. LaFevers
These don’t have titles or covers but I love where the authors have gone so far
9.  Book 3 of Penryn and the End of Days by Susan Ee
10. Book 3 of Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
My last is a companion novel but I’m adding it anyway
This Shattered World (Starbound #2) by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Unhinged (Splintered, #2)One of the books I have been most eager for this year is Unhinged (Splintered #2)by A.G. Howard. I am reading it right now and feel so happy and excited that I have a chance to visit Wonderland again. I wanted to share that with you guys so I am giving away an arc. This is U.S. only because of shipping costs.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Showcase Sunday #27

Showcase Sunday is a weekly meme hosted by Vicky at Books, Biscuits and Tea where you show what books you’ve purchased, gotten from the library, received from giveaway, as gifts or for review.

For Review (via publisher-Thank you Amulet!):

Unhinged by A.G. Howard

If you saw my Showcase Sunday last week you would have seen that I received Unhinged already so this is my second copy. I will be giving away a copy at the beginning of November either here or through a Twitter giveaway. Be sure to follow me if you’re interested.

For Review (via NetGalley):

Archetype

Archetype by M.D. Waters

Showcase Sunday #26

Showcase Sunday is a weekly meme hosted by Vicky at Books, Biscuits and Tea where you show what books you’ve purchased, gotten from the library, received from giveaway, as gifts or for review.

For Review (via Publisher):

Time After Time (Time Between Us #2) by Tamara Ireland Stone

Gifted:

Thank you Krys (Bibliopunkk)!
Unhinged by A.G. Howard

For Review (via NetGalley):

Sekret by Lindsay Smith
Tin Star by Cecil Castellucci

Purchased:

Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone

Be sure to check out my GIVEAWAYS
Winner’s Choice (INT)
SIGNED copy of Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake (US)

Interview with Artist Nathalia Suellen


We all know that you can’t judge a book by its cover but I’m not sure it’s possible to avoid doing just that when you see a cover that is breathtaking. I know that I’ve taken covers for granted even though I fall deeply in love with them. I wanted to change that and find out who was behind them and a little about the industry. Most importantly I wanted to learn about the artists and their inspirations and artwork aside from what they do for the covers.

Nathalia Self Portrait

Nathalia Self Portrait

What better place to start than with Nathalia Suellen the artist behind Splintered and Unhinged.

After visiting her website I was completely amazed with her talent and creativity. I knew that I had to interview her and honor her work on my blog.

Thank you Nathalia for agreeing to take the time to answer my questions.

Concerning Cover Art:
What book series have you produced cover art for?
Oh there are so many series, I don’t think I could say all of them but to name a few:  Otherworld Assassin by Gena Showalter ,  The Last Year by Trisha Leigh , The Grisha Trilogy (uk) by Leigh Bardugo, Splintered by A.G. Howard among others.

As for the process: what knowledge do you have prior of the storyline? Do you get to read the book, talk to the author or are you given requirements for elements that have to be included?
I don’t read all the books I work for, that would be really exhausting for me.  That was not different with Splintered, I had no contact with the book story and not even with the author.  I knew roughly about the story through the art director and of course I had some requirements to comply but nothing too specific. I remember of starting the first sketches thinking in three essential things: bugs, strangeness and eye-catching colors.

Many of you don’t know, but the very first Splintered sketch was a full body Alice with gothic clothes, striped socks, windy hair and a scenery full of bones, mirrors and bugs around (the model was insanely beautiful too). We spent a month or so in this first idea but things got too nice and serious that they decided to move the whole idea for a close up Alice, which I think now was one of the most important things for achieving this “special” thing, it somehow turned the cover more powerful and movie-like.

Do you have to offer multiple conceptual covers for them to choose which to pursue or do you get free reign?
We basically do things together. My clients guide me, they show me exactly what they want and I try to make it as close as I can to what they imagine.  Of course, I can’t do everything I want like in my personal works; we need to work as a team and I need to respect the story and their idea before anything.  Sure, if they give me some freedom, I try to make it even better, always.

Are you a fan of young adult fiction?
Strangely enough I’m not the kind of girl who loves to read, I have the necessity of feeding my eyes with pictures and movement all the time, maybe that’s what keep me creative.  (I can’t even read magazines; I’m just like a child who just looks at the book drawings and then close it.)  However I would say I love anything that drives me out of reality for a period of time. Being a book or not, I love fiction.

I recently had the opportunity to meet Anita Howard and thought that your image of Alyssa on the cover of Splintered resembled her…is that intentional?
Not at all. That’s another big coincidence… you know, it’s happening very often with me, so damn weird.

I love your interpretation of Morpheus on Unhinged, what inspirations did you draw on to create him?
While creating Unhinged, I had to keep in mind that Morpheus was NOT the Mad Hatter and my very first task was to find out the differences between the characters.

Steampunk was the first thing that came to mind regarding Morpheus’ style before knowing he was such a GOTHIC and strange “guy”. I got some inspiration from the author’s Pinterest, and I was shocked how different he actually was when compared with the Mad Hatter. I mean, Morpheus is way more gothic and MUCH more mysterious and strange.  My duty was to show as much as I could on the second book: He is NOT the mad hatter!

General Art Questions:
How long have you been expressing yourself with art?
Professionally, almost 6 years.

It appears that there is photography involved in your artworks, are you a photographer too?
No, sometimes I take my own photography but just for fun.

I was absolutely amazed with your collection of work on your website; I read that you are self-taught. How did you get started in the industry?
I started as anyone else, promoting my art and working HARD. In a beautiful day, God blesses your effort and you get discovered. I still have lot to learn and to improve but you know, I really love what I do.

Giveaway:
I am giving away ONE (1) 7×10 art print of one of Nathalia’s gorgeous works. This is an international giveaway if Society 6 ships to your local. Visit HERE to see which prints to choose from and if they ship to you.
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