Book Review: Tangled Webs by Lee Bross

Book Review: Tangled Webs by Lee BrossTangled Webs (Tangled Webs, #1) by Lee Bross
Published by Disney Hyperion on June 23rd 2015
Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, Historical, Romance, Science Fiction, Steampunk, Young Adult
Pages: 304
Goodreads
one-star

London, 1725. Everybody has a secret. Lady A will keep yours—for a price. This sumptuous, scandalous YA novel is wickedly addictive.
Lady A is the most notorious blackmailer in the city. With just a mask and a gown to disguise her, she sweeps into lavish balls and exclusive events collecting the most valuable currency in 1725 London—secrets.
But leading a double life isn't easy. By day Lady A is just a sixteen-year-old girl named Arista who lives in fear of her abusive master, Bones, and passes herself off as a boy to move safely through the squalor of London's slums. When Bones attempts to dispose of his pawn forever, Arista is rescued by the last person she expects: Jonathan Wild, the infamous Thief Taker General who moves seamlessly between the city's criminal underworld and its most elite upper circles. Arista partners with Wild on her own terms in the hopes of saving enough money to buy passage out of London.
Everything changes when she meets Graeden Sinclair, the son of a wealthy merchant. Grae has traveled the world, has seen the exotic lands Arista has longed to escape to her whole life, and he loves Arista for who she is—not for what she can do for him. Being with Grae gives something Arista something precious that she swore off long ago: hope. He has promised to help Arista escape the life of crime that has claimed her since she was a child. But can you ever truly escape the past?

I love books set in time periods I wish I could have lived in, especially just to wear the pretty dresses. I heard that this book had masked balls, a badass spy and blackmail. It sounded fun and exciting and I decided to give it a chance. Unfortunately, I did not love this story.

From reading the synopsis, I was expecting a really strong, determined and brave heroine in Lady A/Arista, but she wasn’t really any of those things. Her job was to blackmail the nobility, but she didn’t want any part of it. Lady A/Arista is suppose to be an accomplished and hardened spy, who is witty, clever and a skillful blackmailer, but throughout the book she is overwhelmed by her feelings. Who ever heard of a good spy/blackmailer crying all the time? Or swooning over her crush? (Also…really? Arista? As in Aristocrat? Did anyone else who read this think this name was ridiculous?).

Arista keeps getting close to the people she is suppose to be spying/blackmailing. She keeps revealing her weaknesses and falling into the same traps over and over again. If I were her boss I would have fired her a long time ago (Not that her boss deserves any sympathy…he’s a nasty piece of work). What I mean is that this girl just has no “street smarts” or common sense, yet she was apparently “brought up” on the streets. It’s amazing she has survived up to the ripe old age of 17, because whoever was training her in the school of hard knocks clearly didn’t do a very good job.

Then there is the whole falling into “instant love” plotline. On her first mission she barely can control herself from swooning at Grae’s feet. I mean “COME ON!” what are you trying to teach all the young girls out there with these constant instant love type of storylines authors? The minute this dark, and handsome stranger Grae appears Arista is all in heads over heels in love with him. She even forgets all about her previous crush on her fellow orphan and thief Nic. Nic who she has known all her life, and has helped and protected her. He just gets thrown to the sides because in comes Grae with his mysterious aura and dazzling smile.

There are so many moments in this story that instead of actually doing her job, or more importantly fighting for her life, she is more focused on her attraction for a guy. Even when she is almost discovered to be the spy she is focused on her attraction to a guy. Aside from her constant “boy-craziness” she is also constantly sobbing, blushing, falling into tears, and that is not what I wanted from this character. I wanted her to be strong, to be her own person, to actually have some common sense. I wanted to cheer for her, but instead I found myself wanting her to just be discovered already because I couldn’t take her lack of common sense, or her stupidity any longer.

I was not impressed by Tangled Webs. It could have been a really great outlet to promote some healthy girl power…but no. Instead we are left with a confused, boy obsessed, weak heroine. Also the other characters in the book like Nic, Grae, Becky and Wild also just seem to have “walk on” rolls and only come around when dialogue is needed. All the characters don’t have much depth to them, or any real development of actual personalities.

I don’t mind reading something cheesy or even fluffy, but this mainly just angered me. I finished it because I was hoping that maybe Arista would grow as a character and have the guts to actually escape her life of crime and maybe live a normal life. There is at least 2 other books coming in this series, I hope they get better. However, I won’t be returning to this story, or this character again.

**This review was originally posted on Reading In The Tardis**

one-star

Book Review: Valiant by Sarah McGuire

Book Review: Valiant by Sarah McGuireValiant by Sarah McGuire
Published by Egmont USA on April 28th 2015
Genres: Adventure, Fairy Tale Retelling, Fantasy, Middle Grade, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 384
Goodreads
five-stars

Saville despises the bolts of velvet and silk that her father loves- he's always prized them more than he's ever loved her. Yet when he's struck ill, she'll do anything to survive, even donning boys' clothes and begging a commission to sew for the king.
Piecing together a fine coat is far simpler than unknotting court gossip about an army of giants led by a man who cannot be defeated. And they're marching toward Reggen to seize the throne. But Saville knows giants are just stories, and no man is immortal.
Then she meets them, two scouts as tall as trees. She tricks them into leaving, but tales of the daring tailor's triumph quickly spin into impossible feats of giant-slaying. And mere stories won't deter the Duke and his larger-than-life army.
Now only a courageous and clever tailor girl can see beyond the rumors to save the kingdom again.

I first heard about Valiant through a tweet I saw on Twitter. I loved the drawing they had on the cover, and I decided to do a little digging to find out more about it. I learned that it was a fairy tale retelling with a gender bending twist, about a girl named Saville who is the daughter of a tailor. I love fairy tales, I love reading well written retellings of fairy tales, and I also enjoy books that allow me to “escape” into a whole other world. I decided I just had to have this book in my life.  I was lucky enough to be provided with an E-ARC by NetGalley in return for an honest (slightly late…sorry!) review of it.

Valiant is a story about a young girl named Saville, who has to disguise herself as a boy in order to take on commissions from the king when her father gets sick. Saville’s father is just an awful specimen of a human (I really hated his character). No matter how hard Saville tried to win his love, she just has no luck. Even so, she keeps on trying and she still cares for him very much. Saville kind, brave, determined and clever. (Some really wonderful traits to demonstrate, especially for younger readers…it really gives them a hero worth looking up to).

When invading giants (and the mad Duke) threaten to take over the country Saville finds herself standing up to them and saving the whole kingdom. She did have help from  her love interest Galen (the king’s cousin), but don’t expect this to be the typical fall “head over heels” type of romance plot. This is a slow burn type of romance, it’s lovely because they both compliment each other and support each other. It’s beautiful to watch them fall in love slowly.

There were a few times that it all seemed a bit light and “young”, but there are some very intense moments and some real depth to the story too. Don’t be fooled into thinking that only Middle Graders would enjoy this fantastic story. The author does a wonderful job in keeping you “hooked” and on the edge of your seat (even if the beginning is a bit slow…keep reading…it get’s exciting pretty fast). It swept me away once I really focused on reading it, and  I simply could not put it down. I really loved this story, and it’s definitely everything one could hope for in a fairy tale and a really brilliant retelling.

**This review was originally posted on Reading In The Tardis**

five-stars