Book Review: Out of the Past by Kalinda Vázquez

IMG_2387.JPG Book Review: Out of the Past by Kalinda VázquezOut of the Past by Kalinda Vazquez
Series: Once Upon A Time #3
Published: April 14, 2015
Format: Hardcover (112 pages)
Genres: Graphic Novel
Source: Library

Return to the immersive world of ABC's hit television series ONCE UPON A TIME with an all-new sequel to the original graphic novel, ONCE UPON A TIME: The Shadow of the Queen. Welcome to the Enchanted Forest, where the characters from classic fairy tales have come to life and are locked in an epic struggle between good and evil! Plott ed by series writer and co-executi ve producer, Kalinda Vazquez, and co-written by returning author Corinna Bechko, the release will tie into official show continuity and dive in to four never-before-told stories of fan favorite characters!
4 Stars

A fun, quick must-read for Once Upon a Time fans.  The art is gorgeous.  The stories are all new and set in the Enchanted Forrest which I don’t get to see as much of on the TV show as I would like.  Loved it!

Mild spoilers ahead! This spoiler warning is for those very sensitive to any spoilers. Major spoilers look like this > View Spoiler »


This is my first graphic novel that I’ve ever reviewed.  It might possibly be the first I’ve ever read.  So I can say, as a graphic novel novice, that it was really fun to read this.  I didn’t finish the first book in the Once Upon a Time book series because it was a novelization of Season 1 and not a very good one at that.  It was boring to re-read stories I already knew from the TV show.  I’m happy to say that all of these stories are new.  They are background stories for five of the characters – Belle, Rumplestiltskin, Captain Hook, The Mad Hatter, and the Evil Queen.  All of these stories are set in the Enchanted Forrest.  Of all the characters, we didn’t see much about them in the Enchanted Forrest and I loved getting to see more stories about them there.  It was a lot of fun.

There are two authors and four artists.  Each story has it’s own artistic style and none of the stories have the same style as the cover.  I kind of wish they had showcased the different art on the cover instead of having something completely different.  It gave me the expectation that it would have highly realistic illustrations inside but instead the art was more stylized or cartoonish.  I loved the art, don’t get me wrong, but I think the cover should at least match.

Pretty art! Hot Pirate!

 I was also surprised by how thin and tall this book was.  It almost felt like a picture book.


The first story is about Captain Hook.  It’s about an adventure he has as a pirate and it shows some of his sarcasm and bravery.  This story was good.  Maybe not amazing, but still good.  It reminded me that Captain Hook had a bad boy side to him that he’s lost a little of in the TV show.  The art for this story was my least favorite from the book.  It’s very sharp and undetailed.  I should admit right now that part of my motivation to read this book was to stare at some hot pirate pictures.  Sadly, not as much hot pirate as I was hoping for.  However, the art matches the adventure plot of this story and works really well.  *stares at hot pirate on cover some more*


The story about Belle and Rumple is so fun and romantic.  I think it might be my favorite.  It showed a stage in their relationship from the Enchanted Forrest that we didn’t get to see much.  They aren’t in love but they had moved past the cruel stage at the beginning of their relationship. The art is amazing.  It is colorful and beautiful.  The watercolors gave it a romantic fantasy style that matched the story.  The great plot twist at the end shows off Belle’s cleverness and adds a little romance, too. The artist did a good job being true to the characters and how they look on TV.


The least interesting story has to be the one about the Evil Queen.  Not much happens in the plot and the art is very dark and a little boring.  The end of this story increases the Evil Queen’s resolve to get revenge on Snow White.  Wow, that’s new! (Not.) That story line is already very emphasized in the TV show. If anything, it’s a little too emphasized.


I think the story that went into the most detailed background was for the Mad Hatter.  It was his entire backstory and it helped me understand his character in a whole new way.  The cartoony look of this story was perfect for the Wonderland setting.  Even though it’s the longest story in the book, it kept my attention the whole time.  What an emotional, sad story.  I like the Mad Hatter even more after reading this.


Content Rating: Mild, for mild language.  I think it swears only once or twice.

This post contains affiliate links and I receive a small percentage of sales made through these links.  

About Kalinda Vazquez


Kalinda Vazquez grew up in New York and moved to Hollywood in 2001 to pursue a career in television. She had no formal education in film or television when she got her first job in 2007.

Kalinda worked as a writing assistant, staff writer, and story editor from 2007-2009 on the Fox drama Prison Break. She also contributed several scripts to the series and co-wrote the final installment Prison Break: The Final Break. In 2010, she became an executive story editor and writer on the first season of the Fox action series Human Target.

In the summer of 2010, Vazquez joined the staff of The CW network's action/espionage series Nikita's first season as a writer and executive story editor. In 2011, at the start of Nikita's second season she was promoted to co-producer, a title she held until her departure from the show in 2012.

In the fall of 2012, Vazquez joined the second season crew of Once Upon a Time, as a writer and producer. In 2014, she co-wrote Once Upon a Time's second graphic novel, Out of the Past. It was also announced, following the conclusion of the series' fourth season, that Vazquez would not be returning as a writer or producer for the series' fifth.

Book Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Book Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. MaasThrone of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #1
Published: August 2, 2012
Format: Paperback (404 pages)
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Source: Purchased

In a land without magic, where the king rules with an iron hand, an assassin is summoned to the castle. She comes not to kill the king, but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she is released from prison to serve as the king's champion. Her name is Celaena Sardothien.

The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. But something evil dwells in the castle of glass--and it's there to kill. When her competitors start dying one by one, Celaena's fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival, and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world.
4 Stars

This exciting fantasy adventure stars a fascinating heroine who is a mix of sarcasm, humor, Cinderella, and deadly assassin.  The romance was a love triangle, but I thought it was well written.  Other than too many exclamation points in the writing for my taste, I loved this book.

Mild spoilers ahead! This spoiler warning is for those very sensitive to any spoilers. Major spoilers look like this > View Spoiler »


Throne of Glass has a fantastic main character named Celaena.  Her strong opinion mixed with her sarcasm and a little condescension made her so funny and likable and just awesome.  Even though she is a notorious assassin, she’s also not afraid to be feminine which I found refreshing.

Random question – I was confused about the “Adarlan’s Assassin” title.  Did she kill people FOR Adarlan or IN Adarlan?  I know there are prequels to this series and I’ll bet it answers that little detail.  I’ve heard good things about the prequel stories so I’m probably going to read them.  But if you happen to know the answer to that little detail, I’d be very grateful.

Throne of Glass started out as a fairy tale retelling of Cinderella but Sarah J. Maas changed it after asking herself, “What if [Cinderella] was an assassin who had just tried to kill the prince?”  The questions she asked herself after that helped shape it into an original story with only slight references to Cinderella.

To anyone that has issues with the realisticness of a woman being an assassin, I would like to point out that women already posses a lot of the skills required to be an assassin.  I think my favorite example is Kaltain staring Celaena down with a “keenness that would make any assassin proud. (pg 75)”  Being underestimated is also another huge advantage that women have.  Celaena is underestimated about her assassin skills all the time and she uses it to her advantage.

As much as I adore Celaena’s sarcasm and humor, she can only get away with it because of her vulnerable moments where she discusses her childhood which was full of abuse and tragedy.  I found myself noticing that Celaena used her sarcasm the most when she was telling tragic stories from her past.  It helped me connect with her character more when I realized that she was probably being overly sarcastic to cope with the pain she still felt.

Celaena is definitely brave, but she’s not perfect either.  If she was perfect I would hate her.  I like her flawed the way she is.  In the castle that Celaena is living in, there is something or someone going around killing people.  Celaena is usually very confident and brave, but she starts to have doubts about being able to kill this particular monster.  As she hurries up the stairs in the dark, she says to herself, “Not that the thought of something wicked dwelling in the castle scared her or anything. (pg 194)”  That made me laugh. She’s brave but maybe not that brave.  I felt like I could connect with her a little more after that.

Despite being a little afraid, Celaena is trying to figure out who/what is killing people.  Her only clues are disemboweled, dead bodies with weird symbols around them like it’s the Da Vinci Code High-Fantasy Edition.  Celaena learns that the symbols mean this monster has been released from the Chamber of Secrets land of the dead, so she gets all Hermione at the library to figure out how to kill it.  This story keyboard smashed all my geek buttons at the same time.

As Celaena is chasing after this monster, two guys are chasing after her.  Kidding!  Honestly, it’s not that bad.  There are two guys that she develops relationships with.  I feel like it is my duty, as a book reviewer, to tell you that there is a love triangle.  I know this plot element can really bug people, but it doesn’t bother me that much if the romance is a subplot like it is in this book.  I really enjoyed the romance in this book.  Neither of the guys is perfect and they both have a unique connection with her.  Now I can’t choose.  As far as love triangles go, it’s a very well written one.  Captain Westfall annoys her too much for them not to have some romance later on.  And the Prince is just so darn charming but a little vulnerable at the same time that you can’t help but like him, too.

The Prince perfectly matches Celaena’s sarcasm.  When Celaena is having her period, she tells the prince to go away because she feels like dying.  He tells he that no one should die alone and makes up a a sarcastic and slightly suggestive story to entertain her in her “final moments.” By the way, how cool is the casual reference to a period?  I liked the honesty, but I liked even more the men’s reactions.  The captain freaks out and runs away.  The prince comes to tease her.

The prince was clever, charming, and persuasive.  I liked that he intuitively knew to appeal to Celaena’s competitive side to get her to join the assassin competition on his behalf.  I found it so interesting that the prince embodied the romanticism that a traditional princess has.  He insists on marrying for love, which Celaena finds old-fashioned and unrealistic.  He also believes in being polite and kind.  And he thinks incredibly gorgeous and romantic things like this about Celaena:

He couldn’t banish her heart-wrenching music from his mind, even when he burned his mother’s list of eligible maidens, even when he read a book long into the night, even when he finally fell asleep.

-Sarah J. Maas, Throne of Glass pg 149

Isn’t that just beautiful and romantic?

This next quote is a conversation that Celaena and the prince have and I think it shows the princes romanticism and Celaena’s realism.  I also think it makes them a good couple.

“What’s the point in having a mind if you don’t use it to make judgements?” [said Celaena]

“What’s the point in having a heart if you don’t use it to spare others from the harsh judgements of your mind?” [said the prince]

-Sarah J. Maas, Throne of Glass pg 231

As much as I like Celaena, I agree more with the prince.  I try daily to have more empathy and not judge others.

Captain Chaol Westfall is attractive in his own way.  He’s logical, loyal, and down to earth.  The captain also has a swash-buckling side to him that Celaena makes fun of, to my delight.

Chaol tossed his cape on top of hers, his toned body flexing through the dark threads of his shirt.  He drew his sword.  “On your guard!” He moved into defensive position, and Celaena looked at him dully.

Who do you think you are? What sort of person says “On your guard”?

-Sarah J. Maas, Throne of Glass pg 81

I have only one small complaint about Throne of Glass.  Exclamation points do not belong in prose.  Just saying.  It made the writing feel cheesy.  Here’s an example:

How lovely it was to hear a voice like her own–cool and articulate–even if he was a nasty brute!

-Sarah J. Maas, Throne of Glass pg 3

If the exclamation point had been left out it would have come across as delightfully sarcastic.  The eclamation point makes it just so dramatic!! You know!!! It sounds like Jim Carrey is stuck in my head!!!!

Here’s another one!  In the prose! I only marked it because it irked me.  Irked me, I tell you!

Celaena would not make a fool out of him!

-Sarah J. Maas, Throne of Glass pg 133

Here’s another example of the generous use of exclamation points! This is Celaena’s hilarious description of the prince!

Princes are not supposed to be handsome!  They’re sniveling, stupid, repulsive creatures!  This one … this … How unfair of him to be royal and beautiful.

-Sarah J. Maas, Throne of Glass pg 8

I know I’m starting to sound like Elaine Benes from Seinfeld criticizing someone’s use of an exclamation point, but it did pull me out of the flow of the story more than once.  Although, to be fair, the exclamation points work better in the last quote since this is a thought in her head instead of in the prose.  Still, they were used a lot throughout the book and the story didn’t need so many exclamation points.

I think the only way to write a fair review of this book is to mock it light-heartedly in a way I hope Celaena would approve of.  I loved this book.  It was so much fun.  But the exclatamtion points need to go.  *deep, tragic sigh* *hand over heart* *moment of silence for the dead exclamation points*

I’m sorry.  I’ll stop talking about exclamation points now.

One thing I enjoyed about the narration was when it moved to different points of view.  It didn’t do it a lot – just enough to be interesting.  It told the story from the Prince’s view, the Captain’s view, and Celaena’s view. And it was well written so I could tell whose head I was in without ever getting confused.  Most of the story was from Celaena’s view, but it added a lot to the story – especially the romance – when we got to see little snippets from the Prince or the Captain.

Throne of Glass had a fun, adventurous plot that I really enjoyed …  except for the ending. As Celaena continues the quest of finding out who is killing people she starts to think that it’s Nehemiah, who is her best friend.  I know from too much reading of books that I should not believe this.  I’m hoping for a cool reveal of who is controlling the beast that kills people and it sadly turns out to be the most cliche choice. I was kind of disappointed.  View Spoiler »

I loved the fresh and different take on magic in this book.  Celaena briefly mentions being able to see fairies as a child.  The day she first killed someone was the day they left her.  This quote talks about how there used to be magic in this world but it left on it’s own.

But even though the king had banned magic, most knew the truth: within a month of his proclamation, magic had completely and utterly disappeared of its own accord.  Perhaps it had realized what horrors were coming.

-Sarah J. Mass, Throne of Glass pg 31

This little snippet causes so many questions that I know I will devour this series until I find out where magic went.  Why did it leave? When is it coming back? WHAT IF IT NEVER COMES BACK? I found the idea of magic suddenly leaving one day so interesting.

 Also, unimportant detail (but what am I if not a noticer of unimportant details), the main characters are 18 and 22 which are technically adults.  Just curious why it’s not an adult book.  Not judging or anything.  They probably made it a young adult book because young adult books are awesome and this is an awesome book.  But still, it did make me wonder what “makes” a young adult book.  Does the age of the main character matter when it comes to labeling it young adult or not? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

What do you think about young adult books that have older characters? (like 18 or 22?)

Content Rating: Medium, for violence and language.  The violence is a little graphic.

This post contains affiliate links and I receive a small percentage of sales made through these links. 

About Sarah J. Maas

Sarah J Maas

Sarah J. Maas is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Throne of Glass series. Sarah lives in Southern California, and over the years, she has developed an unhealthy appreciation for Disney movies and bad pop music. She adores fairy tales and ballet, drinks too much coffee, and watches absolutely rubbish TV shows. When she's not busy writing, she can be found exploring the California coastline with her husband.

Book Review: The Eternity Key by Bree Despain

Book Review: The Eternity Key by Bree DespainThe Eternity Key by Bree Despain
Series: Into the Dark #2
Published: April 28, 2015
Format: ARC (368 pages)
Genres: Fantasy, Mythology, Retelling, Romance, Young Adult
Source: For Review

Fan-favorite author Bree Despain continues her modern-day romance trilogy inspired by the Greek myth of Persephone and Hades with this second book in her Into the Dark series.

Haden Lord, the disgraced Prince of the Underrealm, has chosen love over honor and will do everything in his power to protect Daphne Raines, the human girl he was supposed to bring to the Underrealm. Haden’s choice is put to the test as the Skylords and a figure from his past arrive in Olympus Hills with a plan that could destroy all of the realms.

Embracing her destiny as the Cypher, Daphne begins to understand the immense power of her musical ability to control the elements, but she must come to terms with her feelings for Haden and what she must sacrifice in order to protect him and her friends.

Believing the Key of Hades is the only thing that can stop the Underrealm Court from releasing the monstrous Keres on the mortal world, Haden, Daphne, and their friends set out to find the Key before Persephone’s Gate opens again on the spring equinox.
4 Stars

Slow-burning romance.  Fun, modern retelling of Greek myths.  Epic, cliff-hanger ending.  Twists.  Famous rock star father sold your soul.  All the things you need for the perfect novel to lose yourself in for a while.


The parental dynamics in the book are refreshing.  There are no clueless, barely existent parents that act unrealistically.  Oh no.  The parents in this book CAUSE the problems by selling their children’s souls.  That understandably gives Daphne, the main character, some trust issues.  Daphne’s dad, Joe, made a deal with the devil and deeply regrets it.  I liked Joe because he genuinely tries to become a better person.  One of the most tender and emotional moments is when they finally mend their relationship.

I liked the pace of Daphne and Haden’s relationship.  It was beautiful, deep, and slow-burning.  Since they hadn’t just gotten together and made out really fast in the first book, their relationship still had somewhere to go in this book.  I didn’t feel like their relationship was being artificially sabotaged for “reasons.”  Daphne not admitting her love for Haden was heart-breaking but it I bought it.  She says that it’s because the future is in uproar and I guess that’s true, but with her character I felt like it had more to do with her trust and abandonment issues from her dad.  She has a plan for the future and a guy is not supposed to be in it because she wants to be independent.  I was biting my nails because I could totally understand where she was coming from but I know she’s going to realize the error of her ways but will it be too late?!?!

My favorite twist at the end – and there were a lot of them so don’t worry I won’t tell them all – was finding out that her uncle is Cupid/Eros.  I really didn’t see it coming, but then it made me smile when I thought about the fact that he loves Valentine’s Day and works at a flower shop.  Maybe that’s a little obvious foreshadowing, but I was so focused on her mom being Demeter that I forgot to think about who her uncle would be.  I also probably let it slide a little since I love Valentine’s Day and I’m in the minority like he was. Anyway.  His arrows were awesome!  Who knew Cupid could kick butt! He was like a guy Katniss with arrows of evil and love.  Such an unexpectedly cool character.

The cliffhanger.  All I have to say is that if book 3 wasn’t happening I would be extremely upset.  Angry.  That’s quite the mess they got into by the end.  I loved how Daphne kind of mirrored Orpheus’s story but the genders were swapped.  The Persephone myth was woven in as well with a little reference to Cupid and Psyche.  So much awesome mythology to geek out over and I loved it!

Content Rating: Medium, for one kissing scene and some mild violence and some mild swearing.  Pretty clean for a YA book.

This post contains affiliate links and I receive a small percentage of sales made through these links.  I received this book for review in exchange for an honest review. I was not told what to say, I was not paid to write this review and all the opinions expressed are my own.  I read an Advanced Reading Copy for this review. 

About Bree Despain

Bree Despain

Bree Despain is the author of the Dark Divine trilogy and the upcoming Into The Dark trilogy. Bree rediscovered her childhood love for creating stories when she took a semester off college to write and direct plays for at-risk, inner-city teens from Philadelphia and New York. She currently lives in Salt Lake City, Utah with her husband, two young sons, and her beloved TiVo.


Book Review: Splintered by A. G. Howard

Book Review: Splintered by A. G. HowardSplintered by A.G. Howard
Series: Splintered #1
Published: January 1, 2013
Format: eBook (371 pages)
Genres: Fantasy, Retelling, Young Adult
Source: 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.
2 Stars

Splintered starts out as an awesome retelling of Alice in Wonderland with a gothic twist. Alyssa, the main character, goes on a journey fixing what Alice broke in Wonderland, which I thought was a clever idea. The middle suffered from way too much info-dumping. The end never quite recovered from that loss of momentum from the slow middle.  The story turned into a shaky quest to get this thing so she could get that thing then the other thing and I easily got lost which made me stop caring about the story.  I sadly didn’t like it as much as I thought I would.


I’ve been collecting bugs since I was ten; it’s the only way I can stop their whispers. Sticking a pin through the gut of an insect shuts it up pretty quick.

– A. G. Howard, Splintered (p. 1)

What an opening line! It’s so cool! This girl, Alyssa, is slightly crazy but so relatable and likable that I kind of over looked it.  She kills bugs as a way to deal with hearing their voices and then makes beautiful/creepy art out of them.  It’s such a strange but fascinating way to deal with the struggles she has.  The fact that she does her best to deal with them instead of ignoring them is what makes her so easy for me to like.

I tapped the bee hard enough to stun it. Then I whisked the flowers out of the water and pressed them between the pages of a spiral notebook, to silence their chattering petals.

– A. G. Howard, Splintered (p. 4)

Chattering petals.  I just love that.

When Alyssa does go to Wonderland, she meets some flower zombies (which is an awesome idea all by itself) and then tries to fix all the things that Alice ruined in Wonderland to fix a curse that has plagued her family (who are descendants of Alice) ever since.  What a cool way to retell Alice in Wonderland! She soaks the ocean of tears up with a sponge and defeats a creepy gothic version of the walrus.  Oh. My. Gosh. I am so on board with this.  I’m having the best time!


Alyssa goes to Morpheus’ house.  He’s the “grown-up” caterpillar meaning he’s a moth/human thing of some sort.  So cool.  But at Morpheus’ house we run into the major issue I had with this book.  What started as a journey to fix a curse is getting twisted into a story about Alyssa getting crowned Queen because she’s actually a descendant of the Red Queen (and so not cursed but a half-breed, solving that problem nicely).  We obviously don’t know that at this point in the book (which was almost exactly in the middle), but to foreshadow such a big shift like that takes a lot of info-dumping.  Buckets and buckets of tedious, boring information.  It took so much setting up to have the twist at the end that *gasp* Alyssa is the new Red Queen (!) that I had lost interest by that point.  I kept getting impatient with the middle of the book waiting for things to happen again.  Some of the info-dumping was about things I had already guessed, like her mother was not really insane. Duh.  It’s hard to keep interested in a story when 30 pages of it goes something like this:

“After Queen Red was exiled to the wilds, she was never seen again. Her stepsister, Grenadine, married the king and became Queen— a woman so forgetful, she could never handle wearing the crown. And now her king wants to give her two.” Morpheus drags a glittering diamond tiara from the bag. “I’ve a spy stationed in the Red castle. When the White Court came to me with news of Ivory’s fate some weeks ago, I sent word for my contact to steal the jabberlock box. I’m harboring Ivory here, along with her crown, to keep them safe from Grenadine and King Red. If they control both the Red and White portals, good luck ever getting home.” He tucks the tiara away again. “All this will be ameliorated once Alyssa finds the vorpal sword. It’s the most powerful weapon in Wonderland. I can use it to force them to grant Ivory’s freedom. Her portal will be open to you then.”

– A. G. Howard, Splintered (p. 201)

It’s too much all at once.  I want to experience events as much as possible and be told about past events as little as possible.  One instance of info-dumping isn’t so bad.  It happens sometimes in stories.  But so many stories like this were told right in a row that it slowed the story down.  We get info-dumps about her boyfriend’s past issues and info-dumps about how Alyssa has looked extremely different the entire time she was in Wonderland.  Say what.  I’m baffled that this guy would keep Alyssa’s altered appearance to himself.  For what reason does he do this exactly? No guy would mention it that late in the game if they had even noticed a change in her appearance at all.  But because he decided to keep it to himself, we get another glorious info-dump.

“You’ve been like this the whole time. I noticed it when we first stepped out of the rabbit hole. I thought your makeup had smeared. But then, after the ocean, you still had it. I didn’t make the connection until I saw Morpheus without his mask a few minutes ago.” Jeb pauses, looking like he might be sick. His thumbs rub the edges of the black designs. “They don’t wipe away. And the glitter all over your skin? That’s not salt residue. You’re starting to look like my fairy sketches, for real.”

– A. G. Howard, Splintered (p. 188)

The theme of insanity was well done and one of my favorite things about the book.  I enjoyed the quotes that came up about sense and logic and how relative those terms really are.  When Alyssa goes to a dinner where they have to hunt down and kill what had, at first, seemed like a dead and roasted bird, I love how Morpheous explains that just because it looks insane, doesn’t mean that it is.

“You understand the logic behind the illogical, Alyssa. It’s in your nature to find tranquility amid the madness. And that’s what we’re doing here. We’re giving our food a fighting chance.”

– A. G. Howard, Splintered (p. 211)

I don’t mind sensuality when it adds something to the story.  When two characters are falling in love, it works.  I felt like there was a lot of pointless sensuality in Splintered.  The vomit inducing sensuality didn’t add anything to the story besides my vomit.

Then she turns to Jeb. “Elfin knight, do you wish for pleasure on your quest? I can provide it, if you so desire.”

– A. G. Howard, Splintered (p. 145)


The romance.  Jeb draws pictures of Alyssa all the time but he has a girlfriend. Ok. All Alyssa can think is, “He’s going on a dangerous adventure with me and he almost kissed me. Clearly he likes someone else.” Ok. I just really didn’t get it.  Then they make-out some more.  End romance.

I wished I had liked the ending, but it was even more confusing than the romance.  Stuff happens and Jeb loses his head. Literally.  It was one of those things where it’s so crazy that the only way to fix it is with magic.  Alyssa fixes this problem by going back in time and making it so Jeb doesn’t come this time and therefore doesn’t lost his head.  Weird magical time jumps should not just magically fix things.  But maybe that’s just me.

Then we get to a possessed toy graveyard and by this point I’m just really sad.  I’m really sad for all the toys I’ve ever thrown away and I’m really sad that there are now characters that weren’t in the original Alice in Wonderland.  I don’t really get why these spider/woman things are even in the story other than stopping Alyssa from getting the latest thing.  I think it’s a sword right now.  I’m also really sad that the love I had for the first quarter of the book is gone.  I wish the rest of the book could have been that awesome.

When I finished, I don’t I understand why this book is a series.  The ending seemed pretty wrapped up.  For some reason, Alyssa is a queen in Wonderland but decides to go home.  Seems like a lot of work to go through to become queen if all she gets out of it is going home.  Maybe she couldn’t find the ruby slippers.  I don’t know.  Morpheous got eaten by a pig but I don’t really care that much.  To be honest, there’s nothing that is pulling me into the next book.  I love retellings and while I liked some things about this gothic rendition that was inspired by Tim Burton’s take on Alice in Wonderland, it just didn’t click with me liked I hoped it would.

Content Rating: Medium, for sensuality some of which seemed unnecessary and a few make-out scenes that were a little too graphic for my taste.  Mild language.

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About A.G. Howard

A G Howard

A.G. Howard was inspired to write SPLINTERED while working at a school library. Her pastimes are reading, rollerblading, gardening, and family vacations which often include impromptu side trips to 18th century graveyards or condemned schoolhouses to appease her overactive muse.

SPLINTERED & UNHINGED, books 1 & 2 of her urbanized /gothic Alice in Wonderland series, are now available from Amulet Books. Book 3, ENSNARED, launches 2015.

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Exclusive Teasers from The Shadow Prince by Bree Despain

The-Shadow-Prince-by-Bree-Despain-Paperback-Banner Exclusive Teasers from The Shadow Prince by Bree DespainThe Shadow Prince by Bree Despain
Published: April 14, 2015
Format: Paperback (512 pages)



I loved The Shadow Prince when I read it last year, and I’m so happy to be on the blog tour for the paperback release!  The Shadow Prince is like Percy Jackson for YA.  It’s a Greek mythology retelling of Persephone and Hades with a feminist twist and swoon-worthy romance.  If you haven’t read it yet, check out these exclusive teaser quotes from the book!


Check back next week for more teasers and a giveaway!  What do you think of the new cover?

About Bree Despain

Bree Despain

Bree Despain is the author of the Dark Divine trilogy and the upcoming Into The Dark trilogy. Bree rediscovered her childhood love for creating stories when she took a semester off college to write and direct plays for at-risk, inner-city teens from Philadelphia and New York. She currently lives in Salt Lake City, Utah with her husband, two young sons, and her beloved TiVo.