Tangled Webs

18368525Tangled Webs by Lee Bross

Before we begin, I have something very important to show you all. Now, if you’ll please direct your attention slightly to the right of this screen…

LOOK AT THAT COVER!

I should know better by now than to go judging things by covers–but really, I think we’d all be lying if we tried to deny it–but this was just impossible to resist! Couple that with promises of blackmail and merchant ships and and eighteenth-century secrets and ohhhhhhhhh man. Come to mama!

(PS. I already regret that last sentence).

It really is a crying shame that appearences are so deceiving. Like a good politician, Tangled Webs left me so many empty promises. Exhibit A: the cover may be amazing but the book inside is mediocre.

I felt a little jilted actually because of just how much the implication of the synopsis led me astray. It doesn’t lie–Lady A is the most notorious blackmailer, she DOES sneak around as a boy, she DOES want out of her secret life, she IS emboldened by Grae–but where the synopsis promises all this with excitement and intrigue, the book delivers it in the most subpar, lukewarm, dull way possible. For one, there’s hardly any blackmail at all. Apart from two scenes of secret-trading, only one of which being particularly eventful, the rest is pretty much just Arista trying to escape. Where’s the intrigue? The spying? The manipulation? THE VERY THING THAT MADE ME WANT TO READ IT?!?!

Oh wait–it’s nonexistent.

Don’t get me wrong: Ariana gives it her best shot. But the book starts too late for us to get much of that. First scene is blackmail for Bones and I right away thought I’d enjoy it but that’s moments before she meets Grae, the day before she meets Wild, and the night before the fire that sets everything in motion. All of a sudden the blackmail is missing and she’s collecting payment for passage out of London. Oh and remember how she apparently dresses up as a boy to get around at night? Yeah. Once. And that’s before the fire too.

There are some instances where you can see the sneak of Lady A in dear Arista, mostly when she’s looking out for someone she cares about. Those are the best parts of the book so it’s unfortunate they’re so few and far between.

Arista herself isn’t particularly cunning or impressive. She’s more insecure and naive than anything else; this is fine, but not for a notorious blackmailer no matter how much of an alternate persona it is. She does have her moments though and she’s brave for sure, so that’s redeeming. IDK. I didn’t hate her, she’s just unimpressive.

Oh, and lustful.

HOLY INSTA-LOVE! Tangled Webs is probably the most at-first-sight devastating case I’ve read in ages. By the end of the first chapter, Arista and Grae have already met into a heady, lustful infatuation, followed by Grae hunting her down at every opportunity and she losing herself at even the merest glimpse of him. It’s also super horomone-charged–they’re clutching at each other every chance they get from the very second that they meet. Arista spends more time preoccupied by thinking about his touch and kiss and caress and fantasizing about the feel of him than she does figuring out her blackmail stuff, and even that is all done in relation to Grae! There’s chemistry there, that’s for sure, but physical chemistry. It’s more like they decided they liked each other and grabbed at the other than developed actual deep-rooted feelings for each other. Key word being ‘develop’ because 5 seconds doesn’t quite cut it.

A good point of Tangled Webs is the setting which is both unique and well done. Not many books are done in the eighteenth century–mostly we get the 1600s or 1800s –ad the Enlightenment is a cool period to be in. It’s one of the things that drew me to the book in the first place! Bross creates an authentic picture of 1725 London without spending too much time explaining or building it: it just is. This allowed the book to skip over a lot of that pesky set-up and feel, in a way, more real because it didn’t need to justify anything. It would have been nice though to dig a wee bit deeper into some facets of life in that period or weave them further into the story. For instance, there is one scene where Arista is taken to a secret feminist philosophy session which is fascinating! but hen nothing came of it. It would have been great if the scene was incorporated more into the main story, even just by using the people Arista met there, so that it became a more cohesive part of the book. There were a number of avenues introduced but left unexplored.

A general note on the story is that it’s not especially surprising. Now, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t try to surprise you–it gives it a good shot!–but any twists fall flat. It’s like that obnoxious kid who cracks a stupid joke but ends up the only one laughing: you get excited for the joke and then…you’re not. It’s like that, but minus the sad self-laughter (which I am all too familiar with…). I don’t know if it’s just me but I saw pretty much every ‘surprise’ Arista got coming from a mile away.

Overall Tangled Webs is alright. Not especially good, but it’s not especially bad either and even with everything I wasn’t fond of there were things that I did enjoy, even more when all thrown together. It definitely helps too that it’s a standalone novel (well, now–it was meant to be a duology but the second book got cancelled) because a) I don’t know how much motivation I could drum up for the second one and b) the ending wraps up nicely and anything more would seem forced. I’m content with what there is and more or less moderately content with the novel itself.


Click here for the book synopsis on goodreads!

Doon

17745703Doon by Carey Corp & Lorie Langdon

So good so good so so so good!

Doon‘s synopsis promised pretty much everything I’d like. Scotland? Magic? Medieval castles? Princes? Romance? Best friends? Basically all of my favourite things to read wrapped up in one paperback package? And it came to me with a lot of hype, but for some reason despite all this I just…never read it.

BUT NOW I HAVE AND IT WAS GRAND.

The story follows Vee and Kenna, two best friends who are spending summer at Kenna’s late aunt’s home in Alloway, Scotland. Vee’s been seeing an apparition of sorts of a hot blonde Scotsman everywhere and it’s her ‘hallucinations’, a mysterious letter, and a magical set of rings that send she and Kenna over the Brig O’ Doon and into the magical hidden kingdom of Doon. But of course, as with any good magic kingdom, evil is awakening and the girls must find a way to stop it or risk destroying Doon and being trapped in its ruins forever. Dun dun dunnnnn. Continue reading

The Cake Book Tag

img_1416Howdy, Bookworms! Today we’ll be doing something a little different. I’ve yet to do a tag on this blog so I’m super excited for this one, especially since, um, CAKE! Thanks so much bookchanted for tagging me–if you haven’t already, you should definitely go check out her blog too. For ease I linked the titles to their goodreads pages in case any of you want to check them out. Now, on to the deliciously bookish goodness! Continue reading

Forbidden

18889290Forbidden by Kimberley Griffiths Little

So it seems I’ve been on a bit of a Middle/Near Eastern kick lately, this time delving into the scorching world of an ancient Mesopotamian desert! Forbidden is at its core a love story about sixteen year old Jayden who despite her betrothal to her tribe’s sadistic and violent prince of sorts, falls in love with exotic stranger Kadesh. Her mom is gone, her sister is too preoccupied with the sex cult of a new goddess to be of much. assistance, her betrothed is cruel, and her love is forbidden so basically everything she know is falling apart.

This book was good; not great but not bad either, just good. For one, it’s essentially the same story I’ve read a thousand times (albeit with a new setting and original twist which is why I picked it up in the first place) I found that for majority of the novel it felt little else was going on with Jayden than her already-established issues regarding her upcoming nuptials to Herob and mixed feelings about Kadesh. Continue reading

Recreated

27774409Recreated by Colleen Houck

Recreated is another one of those surprising instances where the second in a trilogy is much better than the first.

If any of you read my review of Reawakened last year you’ll know that I did not feel it did my dear beloved Egyptian mythology justice. Or, rather, my too-many frustrations with the MCs rendered me unable to enjoy the history. If it weren’t that Egyptian mythology is basically never used in any form of text nowadays (*wink wink* *nudge nudge* authors!) and my undying love for (read: obsession with) Ancient Egypt, Recreated probably would have been one of those sequels that got put on my TBR list just because I don’t like not finishing series and then remained mysteriously unread until I forgot about it. Not that that’s happened before. Haha. Ha. Nope…

A thousand thanks to the old gods and the new for depriving me enough of Egyptian goodness that I was forced to read this. Please accept the sacrifice of a virtual goat in tribute for my thanks. Continue reading

The Wrath and the Dawn

18798983The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

All it took was opening the cover for The Wrath and the Dawn to DESTROY ME.

You know how sometimes they print an excerpt on the first page of a book, before the title and the copyright and the actual story start?

THAT. That is all I read. And I just…dissolved.

THIS BOOK IS FANTASTIC! BEYOND FANTASTIC! SO FANTASTIC I’M AT SUCH A LOSS FOR WORDS I JUST KEEP SAYING ‘FANTASTIC’!

The Wrath and the Dawn is a retelling of (more so inspired by) the old Middle Eastern story One Thousand and One Nights or The Arabian Nights. In the original story, the basis is that the caliph takes a new wife every night only to kill her by morning until he marries Shaharzad who each night captivates him with a story. By leaving each tale unfinished every night she manages to keep the caliph so intrigued for 1001 nights that he doesn’t kill her. This is the part that Ahdieh takes into The Wrath and the Dawn, as well as her own versions of the traditional tales, but the rest is an entirely new world and an altogether mesmerizing new creation. And it is–wait for it!–FANTASTIC! Continue reading

The Fire Wish

16123804The Fire Wish by Amber Lough

You ever find a hidden gem on the bargain bookshelf? This is one of them.

The Fire Wish follows two girls from very different worlds in the (I think Ancient? Or medieval?) Middle East. Zayele is a human girl forced into an unwanted marriage with the young prince of the caliphate in Baghdad while Najwa is a jinni hiding from humans in underground caverns with a peculiar ability to breach the palace’s magical wards. By chance encounter the two meet and Zayele, desperate to escape her betrothal, makes a desperate wish on Najwa to switch places. And because making magical wishes on errant genies is such a fantastic and not at all dangerous ordeal, Zayele gets what she wants…in a totally wrong, completely dangerous, 100% so-not-worth-it-way-but-also-kind-of-necessary way. Continue reading

Blackhearts

21936937Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman

Arrrrrrrrr, me hearties! Are ye ready for a swashbucklin’ tale of scoundrels sailing upon the raging seas? A tale of how the fiercest pirate to ‘ave ever lived became who he was?

Then this probably isn’t it.

But are you so in love with pirates that a book about a pirate before he was a pirate, set entirely in England and never on a ship, that’s primarily a love story is still right up your alley, especially if it promises that swashbuckling goodness in book 2?

Then you’ve come to the right place. Welcome aboard! Continue reading

A Thousand Pieces of You

17234658

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

First thing first: THAT COVER!

Oh my sweet baby Jesus, it is gorgeous. Watercolour! Skylines! Image flips! Hello beautiful. I know you can’t judge a book by its cover but DAYUM. That is how you get readers: ensnare them with your prettiness.

Beyond that, A Thousand Pieces of You, the first of Claudia Gray’s Firebird trilogy, is an interdimensional sci-fi romance that follows teenage Marguerite as she jumps through dimensions with the help of her mother’s invention to apprehend (read: kill) her father’s suspected murderer, basically-a-brother Paul. What follows is a high stakes race through the dimensions complete with a corrupt corporation, forbidden romance, and plot twists galore. Continue reading

Dancer Daughter Traitor Spy

17262751.jpgDancer Daughter Traitor Spy by Elizabeth Kiem

Slow. That’s the first word I would use for this book. With only 264 pages, the first 100-150 were purely set-up, which I’m sure you all know quickly becomes obnoxious. This is supposed to be a spy thriller! Where are the spies? The thrill?? The ANYTHING INTERESTING WHATSOEVER????????? Honestly. On average I read 100 pages in roughly an hour and yet Dancer Daughter Traitor Spy took me forever and there were multiple times in which I considered just giving in and not finishing it at all (which I pretty much NEVER do).

I genuinely wanted to enjoy this. I love espionage, Russia is fascinating (I actually took a course last year on intelligence in the Soviet Union so I learned a lot about the KGB, especially their dealings in and with the USA), and the spy war of the Cold War was so ridiculously intense and often cruel that if properly reflected in the book it would have made a pretty kick-ass novel. Continue reading