By: Larissa | June 20, 2015 | (48) Comments

Mini Reviews: Historical Fiction StrugglesTangled Webs by Lee Bross
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Release Date: June 23th, 2015
Genres: Historical, Romance, YA
Pages: 304
Source: Received in exchange for review
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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?

This novel had quite the premise, it appealed to me on every level. I mean come on, historical fiction coupled up with a complex blackmail scenario? Sign me up. Unfortunately with Tangled Webs I found myself simply unable to finish it. I ended up marking it as DNF at 30 percent just because I was so, so, so detached and bored out of my mind. The biggest issue for me was definitely the writing in this one. It just read as so bland and typical, and because of that  the characters ended up in the same boat for me. You see I didn’t end up finishing this one not because it was overwhelmingly rage inducing, but rather because it was was so utterly mediocre for me. I had no interest or investment on what happened in terms of plot, characters, romance…anything. I think it says something that a story about blackmailing in the 1700s was so boring.

Perhaps that has something to do with the fact the story didn’t really feel like it took place in the 1700s. I felt as though the lack of worldbuilding made it feel like the novel could have taken place in Canada in the 1940s, or really any time period at all. Given this is a historical fiction novel, I do find the historical elements to be quite crucial and it would be an understatement to say Tangled Webs was lacking in that department. The setting and time period added nothing to the novel at all.

There was definitely romance in Tangled Webs…unfortunately. I didn’t read the story long enough to see if the love triangle presented was in fact a love triangle, but from what I’ve gathered this seems to be the case. The love triangle is between the main character’s sole confident (who has been with her over the course of her whole life and has saved it on a few occasions) and this random gentleman she met one night at a ball and is completely head over heels in love with. I can already make a guess who the main character ended up with (and I looked some reviews to confirm) and it’s truly just sad to me despite how many times we’ve raged about insta-love it continues to prevail in YA fiction. It honestly makes zero sense to me and never will. Of course, since I felt so detached from the characters, their romance(s) among each other definitely didn’t result in swooning, but rather rolling my eyes on an extremely frequent basis.

Overall, I found myself extremely disappointed by Tangled Webs.  I couldn’t get through more than 30 percent of the novel due to my extreme ennui, the lackluster romance, how the historical elements were lacking and how I frankly didn’t have a single care towards any of the characters.

~Thanks to Disney Hyperion for the review copy!~

DNF

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Mini Reviews: Historical Fiction StrugglesSilver in the Blood by Jessica Day George
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Release Date: July 7th, 2015
Genres: YA, Historical, Romance
Pages: 358
Source: Received in exchange for review
Goodreads | Purchase

A New York Times bestselling author brings dark secrets to life in a lush new YA perfect for fans of Libba Bray or Cassandra Clare. Society girls from New York City circa 1890, Dacia and Lou never desired to know more about their lineage, instead preferring to gossip about the mysterious Romanian family that they barely knew. But upon turning seventeen, the girls must return to their homeland to meet their relatives, find proper husbands, and—most terrifyingly—learn the deep family secrets of The Claw, The Wing, and The Smoke. The Florescus, after all, are shape-shifters, and it is time for Dacia and Lou to fulfill the prophecy that demands their acceptance of this fate . . . or fight against this cruel inheritance with all their might. With a gorgeous Romanian setting, stunning Parisian gowns, and dark brooding young men, readers will be swept up by this epic adventure of two girls in a battle for their lives.

I went into Silver in the Blood expecting a fun fast paced paranormal story with historical elements. I didn’t quite get that, and I think it’s important for some to be aware of what this story is about as their enjoyment may be contingent one my previous description. For me I found Silver in the Blood I found the story to be a quite slowly paced historical fiction novel with whispers of paranormal that focuses on the two main characters and their friendships. Dacia and Lou are the main characters of this story and are cousins who completely different from eachother on nearly every level. However, I found themselves to just be beautifully developed and experienced such great character growth as the story went on. I personally found myself able to connect easier with Lou and preferred her character overall, but I also liked what Dacia brought to the table. It’s inarguable that both cousins, while inherently different, manage to compliment each-other on a wonderful level. I loved getting to see their relationship be strong, get challenged and change as the story went on. It’s quite rare nowadays when a sister like relationship like this is highlighted and it was a beauty to see honestly.

The action in Silver in the Blood picks up in the last third, the first two thirds honestly were just building up the suspense to an almost unbearable degree and an exploration of historical Romania. Not to say I didn’t like the Romania elements, quite on the contrary actually. I felt the historical elements in this worked quite well and was undeniably atmospheric. When the action did finally hit its mark I found myself completely immersed in the novel and the paranormal aspect was finally brought to a head. The concept was of the Wing, Claw and Smoke truly was fascinating and I loved the way it was interpreted and applied. I personally would have liked to see more of it though.

There was romance in this one. Ehhhh. Thank goodness it didn’t take over the plot of the story as quite honestly it didn’t do too much for me. I felt like both relationships highlight in Silver in the Blood could have been developed better as especially one of them gave off some insta-love vibes. I much preferred the relationship between Lou and Dacia to that of either of them and their love interests. Furthermore, their love interests themselves were barely explored and fell flat to me. They were quite one dimensional, and I think that same description could definitely be applied to numerous other side characters and certainly the caricature like antagonist.

Overall, I think Silver in the Blood isn’t for everybody. However, despite not enjoying some aspects I did manage to like the novel overall. I found the main characters and their relationship combined with the historical setting worked for me.

~Thanks to Bloomsbury Childrens for the review copy!~

3 Stars

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Larissa was born and still is living in the land of ice, snow and maple syrup. She's 18 years old and really has no idea what to do with her life lately. Larissa's plans are constantly changing--though there’s one thing has remained constant throughout her seventeen years, and that’s reading. It takes her to another world and puts her into impossible situations and that’s why she loves it so much.

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48 Responses to Mini Reviews: Historical Fiction Struggles

  1. I was so excited, SO EXCITED, for Tangled Webs but all these negative reviews.. I can’t stand them at all. Also, love triangle? Really? No, thanks.
    But I do have to read Silver in blood because I’ll be in the booktour, so I’m glad you liked it a little bit at least! 😀
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    • Larissa says:

      RIGHT?! Omg Tangled Webs was definitely one of my most anticipated reads for this year. And yeah love triangle, though I’ve read other reviews from those who finished the book and they say it goes away?? Which still isn’t that comforting because that would mean the insta-love romance takes precedence.

      Hope you enjoy Silver in the Blood

  2. I’m not big on historical so I’m thinking of skipping both of these. 🙂
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  3. Great reviews, Larissa! I actually am really glad I got to read your review of Silver in the Blood before I start it. 🙂 I didn’t know what to expect, but now I feel like I do. I’m excited for the Romania history aspects, but not so excited about the lack of action for most of the book. I will deftly let you know how I feel about it when I finish lol.
    As for the other book you read— you touched on the most important thing (at least lately) to me when I consider how much I enjoy a historical fiction novel. I feel like I NEED to feel like the book took place back in the day it as written.
    There was a book Iread recently (which I am trying so hard to review) because it felt definitely like it was written today, and ugh it bothered me. BUT I liked the book, it’s like a guilty pleasure. haha. I liked it for other reasons than historical accuracy, but still didn’t make it above 2 stars.
    Great reviews! Glad to know you like the same types of books as I do (currently) with my kick of historical. 😀
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    • Larissa says:

      Thank you! Yeah I already feel like Silver in the Blood will have a lot of people disappointed in regards to it’s promised paranormal side..which is honestly only touched upon in the last parts of the story.

      Oh yes, I think historical fiction requires atmospheric writing that can really transport you to the era. If it’s written like it could be any moment in time then it begs to question- what is the point? Hahaha.

      I LOVE historical fiction (: It’s definitely my favorite sub-genre within YA. If you ever feel like discussing particular titles with me feel free to shoot me a tweet or something ;p

  4. It’s a shame you didn’t like Tangled Webs. With historical fiction, if the writing is boring, it’s just not going to work. And insta-love is the worst!
    I’m glad that you somewhat enjoyed Silver In The Blood, I’ve had my eye on that on recently.
    Great review!
    Olivia @ Fluttering Pages
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    • Larissa says:

      Yeah, I think the writing is one of the crucial components in making a historical fiction novel great. I hope you do end up reading and enjoying Silver in the Blood.

  5. I am a huge fan of historical fiction, but I don’t think I’ll be reading either of these books anytime soon. It’s a shame that the worldbuilding in Tangled Webs wasn’t solid because worldbuilding is such a crucial part to historical fiction. Otherwise, there’s really no reason for it to be set in that time period.

    I agree that it’s really refreshing to see a sister relationship explored in a YA book as it’s really rare to see family and friend relationships explored in depth in YA. Alas, I’m not a fan of paranormal, so I’ll probably pass on that one. Great reviews, though!

    • Larissa says:

      Woop! Haha fellow historical fiction fans unite <33 But yeah Tangled Webs definitely didn't bring it on the worldbuilding front (...or any of the fronts LOL shhh). I agree that lacking worldbuilding in historical just adds a feeling of pointlessness in regards to why it's historical in the first place.

      Thank you girl! Though I must say for Silver in the Blood the paranormal aspect was honestly only floated over in the end

  6. Sorry neither of these really worked for you! I want to read more historical fiction, but it does have to be done quite well. I’ve only read one review for Tangled Webs and it was pretty “meh” as well.
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  7. Chioma says:

    It is unfortunate that you did not enjoy Tangled Webs. The synopsis sounds great, but I guess the book did not live up to it. I’m glad you at least enjoyed Silver in the Blood. Great Reviews!
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  8. Bland writing is my NIGHTMARE. I can’t…nope. Just CANNOT. I always drift away if the writing is overly wordy or just emotionally detached. And I think this is a reason I don’t gravitate to HF?? I grew up on it, so it used to be The Be All And End All genre and now? NOOOO. Plus love-triangles. Ugh. *scratches off TBR* I haven’t got time for that.
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    • Larissa says:

      RIGHT!?! Omfg it’s the worst. It’s like the author aimed for sparse writing (which can def work) and just totally missed the mark. Haha, I love historical fiction but I’ll let your distaste slide [; lmao it just means more for me. But yeah no, love triangles certainly aren’t appetizing.

  9. I’m reading Tangled Webs now, and I’m SO BORED. I wish we spent more time actually paying attention to what was going on in the 1700s in London! There are bits of references here and there but I’m not impressed… Also INSTA LOVE. NO.

    I hear Silver in the Blood is a huge disappoint which makes me sad because I’ve been wanting to read it. It’s a shame to see that the romance is subpar. Lovely reviews, sorry historical fiction is disappointing!

    • Larissa says:

      Oh shit! Hahaha. We must compare notes Rachel. And right!? It’s like the fact the story was set in the 1700s of London was completely overlooked. AND OH MY GOD THE INSTA-LOVE IS SO BAD.

      Yeah /: Some were defs disappointed, I think you honestly need to go into it with the right set of mind to like it.

      I actually love most historical fiction ;p it’s just these two were a bit lacking in my view

  10. Oh, no! I was so, so excited for Tangled Webs. I love books about political intrigue! I’m so sorry that it wasn’t for you, but I’m probably still going to give it a try.
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    • Larissa says:

      Yeah, admittedly so was I /: I was really hoping for those mysterious blackmail vibes but definitely didn’t get that. Hope it works out better for you! <33

  11. I read both of these and felt pretty meh about them both. They weren’t awful but def not as good as I hoped they would be. They are both such pretty books too. Pretty disappointing. 🙁 So sorry they weren’t great for you either.
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    • Larissa says:

      Yeah, seems like we’re on the same pages then Kristen. I definitely was disappointed in both of them. The covers are so gorgeous right?! Ahhh.

  12. Hilary says:

    Oh dear. The insta-love. I cringed at that. Actually, my face had its own earthquake because I can’t stand insta-love.
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    • Larissa says:

      Yup >.< You'd think from our utter hatred of that trope that authors/publishers would listen at lest a little. LOL dying at the earthquake comment

  13. Lyn Kaye says:

    Tangle Webs, I hear, is just an excuse for a romance. Meh.

    Silver in the Blood seriously sound like an MG ACOTAR. I have the ARC but….I’m not really rushing to read it anytime soon.
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    • Larissa says:

      Yup >.< I definitely saw that insta-love romance and had to DNF before it became more of a soapy mess Oooo! That's a great way to think of it. I've never read ACOTAR but I do see the similarities from the summary

  14. Hmmm if you’re not invested in the world building, and the historical setting,

    I think it’d be hard to get into. I know what it feels like to be bored by a

    book and just trudging through it, so I’m glad you DNF’d Tangled Webs.

    The paranormal aspect in Silver in the Blood is probably the most interesting

    to me, along with the wonderful cousin relationship (how rare are cousins in

    YA?). The romance though, it sounds kind of flat and boring.

    Historical fiction isn’t my favourite, so I can definitely see how these

    weren’t up your alley either Larissa. Wonderful reviews!
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    • Larissa says:

      Yeah /: Those aspects are quite vital in historical fiction so when they’re lacking?? The novel definitely doesn’t work as a good example of historical fiction. And yeah, it was tough to DNF just because i’m so stubborn but lkdsjfklsdjflkfds. I had to Jeann omfg.

      Thank you <33

  15. I’m not that good with Historical Fiction (I get bored or I just don’t really care what happens) so I wouldn’t have done very well with these books either. However I was really excited about Tangled Webs… Guess I’ll have to pass. Great reviews nonetheless!
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    • Larissa says:

      Yeah, I’m quite a huge historical fiction fan so. If you’re not a fan of the genre at all? I would definitely recommend skipping these ones. Thank you loads! <33

  16. Sorry to see that you ended up being so disappointed with these reads, Larissa. I was actually on Netgalley today, contemplating on whether or not I should try to get Tangled Webs. The premise intrigued me as it did you, and then I went to GR, saw your review and I was like, “HAHAHAHA. Nope, no thanks!” You saved me a whole lot of trouble and headaches 😉
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    • Larissa says:

      Yeah, disappointed really does sum up my feelings towards these books unfortunately. And oh shit! Hahaha Faye, knowing your tastes I don’t think Tangled Webs would have boded too well for you.

  17. Tangled Wens seems to have so many negative reviews so I can’t really say I’m surprised. Being bland is not something that gets you excited to read a book. It’s really too bad because the blackmail scenario did sound pretty awesome.
    Hmm… I don’t know if Silver in the Blood would be worth my time. I feel like I would fall in the category of not liking it even though… Jessica Day George. I might try it out just because of her and the fact that there were some things you enjoyed. I would just have to bear in mind the lack of action in the beginning.
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    • Larissa says:

      Yeah, I guess there’s just a lot of people who didn’t feel happy with how Tangled Webs turned out. There’s no better word in my view that describes my feelings about the writing in that one: bland. It was like I was reading the words and not absorbing them because they were just so meh.

      Yeah Silver in my Blood will definitely either somewhat appeal to people, or they’ll hate it ;p This was my first book by Jessica so I didn’t have anything to compare it to haha.

  18. Aww I’m so sorry to hear these two were so mediocre for you Larissa – especially knowing how much you love historical fiction! 🙁

    To be honest, I don’t think Silver in Blood would be for me either. One of my main pet peeves in reading just in general is when paranormal elements are thrown into a non-paranormal story. It makes everything seem so unrealistic and hard to believe.

    And ugh. It’s a shame that Tangled Webs didn’t work for you because it sounds like it had an amazing plot. 🙁 It sounds like the historical setting just wasn’t researched enough so it didn’t feel authentic to you as a reader, you know?

    Thanks for sharing these and fabulous reviews! ♥
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    • Larissa says:

      Haha yeah, historical fiction is definitely a love of mine which of course makes my ratings for these ones even more disappointing.

      I think historical and paranormal can be done well (THE DIVINERS OH MY GOD) but most of the time stories in that area tend to favor one genre over the other?? Making it unbalanced in my eyes.

      RIGHT!? I was definitely in love with the sound of Tangled Webs’ plot. It definitely didn’t brim with the amount of research I think should have been done for a novel taken place in that era.

      Thank you <33

  19. Shannelle says:

    And I was so excited for these too! Tangled Webs had a really pretty interior design, and it sounded fascinating too, so I’m sad to hear that it wasn’t good. But then, I really hate terrible world-building too. It’s a historical, and I expect history.

    And Silver in the Blood! You liked it a bit more, but you still did just give it a three. I’m wary of these titles now.
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    • Larissa says:

      Right!? Ahhh. Tangled Webs has such a gorgeous cover and the synopsis is definitely what caught my interest. And yes, world building is so crucial for quality historical fiction. Without it, the novel looses its purpose in my view.

      Yeah, honestly both of these managed to disappoint me- just to different degrees

  20. Wow. Mini reviews? Larissa, the size of these mini reviews would equal to the size of one of my full-length reviews, lol. Good going 🙂 I’m sorry the first book wasn’t enjoyable – the premise really pulled me in.
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    • Larissa says:

      LOL ooops. Yeah these are mini for me haha. In general my reviews are like 1000 words+ And yeah, the premise for Tangled Webs was so inviting but unfortunately the execution didn’t work for me at all.

  21. Cynthia says:

    Oh that sucks about Tangled Webs! I was so looking forward to it, but there are so many negative reviews! Sigh. I may end up skipping that one.
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  22. Johanna Richards says:

    You call THESE mini reviews? Haha xD I haven’t heard of either of these before and it sucks that neither really stood out. I think I’ll looked into Silver in the Blood though! Heard promising things for that author and I really like historical fiction.

    Thanks for the reviews!

    • Larissa says:

      Hahaha! Ooops. Lol my normal reviews end up being 1000 words + sooo… I guess these are mini for me. Yeah, go give Silver in the Blood a chance [:

  23. I have the arc of Tangled Webs in my kindle, and I am not at all interested in starting it now. Writing is really important to me in a book, and while I can tolerate moderate writing styles, I can’t stand bland pudding ones!
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    • Larissa says:

      Ooooo yeah. Good luck with Tangled Webs…it really didn’t work out for me at all obviously. If writing style is important to you then I honestly think Tangled Webs will be a struggle for you

  24. Benish says:

    I haven’t read both of these, I keep seeing mixed reviews about them though 🙁 I struggle with Historical fiction nowadays, I only liked Grave Mercy and that was about it lol thank you for the honest reviews though 🙂
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  25. I’m sorry neither of these worked for you, Larissa. 🙁 After reading reviews, they both fell off of my radar – they don’t sound like ones I’d enjoy.
    Thanks for your honesty!
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