“Kaye watched as he calmed somewhat, thinking that she should stop trying to anticipate what was going to happen next. After all, when you were alre
“Kaye watched as he calmed somewhat, thinking that she should stop trying to anticipate what was going to happen next. After all, when you were already in a slippery place, reality-wise, you couldn’t afford to assume things would be straight forward from here on in.”
Tithe was Holly Black’s first YA novel and unfortunately, it shows. Published in 2004, what was once a gritty and edgy urban fantasy for teens now pales in comparison to newer stories in the genre such as those by Sarah J. Mass and Julie Kagawa. Re-reading this one after all these years was a little disappointing.
I’m a huge fan of Holly Black. I first read Tithe in 2008 (or around there) and certain aspects of the story have stuck with me since then. While I didn’t particularly enjoy the leading character of Faye, the scary and ‘urban’ vibe I got from Tithe never faded. For me, Holly Black’s world of fae was the stepping stone all other authors needed to really dive into that realm. She was the first to really create faeries that scared me and made me think of our iron and metallic world as dirty and almost repulsive.
Reading it now, however, it’s clear to see that while Holly Black is spot on with those certain details, the world-building and character development within Tithe leaves a lot to be desired.
Kaye is an unsympathetic leading lady. A smoker, school dropout and often keeping questionable company, Kaye is the ‘anti-hero’ and not the sort of YA protagonist we’re used to seeing, even after ten years. Still, Kaye never really offers anything unique in way of development or story advancement. She’s the typical ‘girl-who-thought-she-was-normal-thrust-into-an-supernatural-situation’ leading character. I never warmed up to Kaye, or cared what happened to her.
The secondary characters such as Roiben, Corney and Janet were pretty stock-standard, too. I felt that the whole situation with Janet and Kenny could have been played down a little more, in order for Holly Black to focus on the marvellous world of Faerie she was obviously beginning to create. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t want to hear about who was wearing what nail polish or who was dating whom.
The romance between Kaye and Roiben was flimsy, too. I never rooted for them or particularly cared about whether they ended up together or even kissed (shocker, I know).
What is most disappointing, however, is how all over the place the plot is. I was never sure where Tithe was heading, or if it had a definite direction. There’s a lot of foiled plots, diverging loyalties, trips to faerie courts and random teen parties. It was a mish-mash of small events that were trying to adhere together to make an overarching plot.
I know that Holly Black has improved immensely over the years. While Tithe wasn’t a wonderful read for me in 2016, I do understand that the book would have been received differently in 2004, when the YA market was in relative infancy.
Enjoyable or not, Tithe was worth a re-read just to see how much Holly Black has changed over the years. While it still held her trademark grittiness and dark turn of fantasy (The Darkest Part of the Forest is quite similar to Tithe) the story and characters just weren’t up to her modern standards.
“Hell, I'll be safest pretending I'm a boy the rest of my life. The frontier ain't for the faint of heart, and it certainly ain't kind to women. Some
“Hell, I'll be safest pretending I'm a boy the rest of my life. The frontier ain't for the faint of heart, and it certainly ain't kind to women. Sometimes I think the whole world's 'gainst us.”
Having got my taste for YA Westerns from Rae Carson’s Walk on Earth a Stranger, I was fully expecting to dive into Vengeance Road and love it straight off the bat. Sadly, that wasn’t the case. Vengeance Road lacked any real ‘push, as well as a distinct level of urgency and excitement. This book took me weeks – WEEKS – to finish, as I kept putting it down and had little motivation to pick it up again.
Vengeance Road is startlingly similar to Walk on Earth a Stranger in the way that our lead protagonist disguises herself as a boy in order to seek revenge, striking out on her own in a world that’s unsafe and ‘no good’ for young ladies. Though the plots do differ, it was hard to sometimes keep in mind what happened in one book, and what happened in the other. Sometimes the plotlines and characters would intermingle for me, which made things confusing. I guess that’s what happens when you read two similar books in the span of a month.
Walk on Earth a Stranger was, in my opinion, far superior to Vengeance Road. Comparisons aside, I was let down by the weak character development in this one, as well as the lacklustre romance. While I admired that our leading lady, Kate, didn’t hesitate in making hard decisions, I didn’t particularly enjoy her as a character, nor did I feel that I ever really got to know her all that well.
Jesse and Will were okay sidekicks; joining Kate on her journey to exact revenge for the notorious Rose Riders that killed her father. At times I found it difficult to really distinguish one brother from the other, nor did I buy into the growing attraction both Kate and Jesse had for one another. Their relationship seemed rather forced romantically, and the obstacles that kept them from their true displays of affection (such as Will) were conveniently swept aside near the end, so that we kind of got this stunted ‘all at once’ show of passion that didn’t really work.
I hate to say it, but Vengeance Road was just boring for me. When a book is mainly pegged as an action/adventure book, I expect to be hooked. I just wasn’t with this one. Certain parts lagged and a lot of it was way too predictable. There were nice little touches, such as the myth of the gold and the ghostly shooter in the ravine, but it was too little too late. Kate and co. kept getting side-tracked by other things, or by other minor encounters with the Rose Riders, and I couldn’t help but wonder just when it was all going to end.
Probably my main irk, however, was the Western slang that Erin Bowman utilised. It was teeth-grindingly difficult to swallow so many chapters of ‘I’s’ and ‘says’ and really hindered my reading.
All in all, I was severely unimpressed with Vengeance Road. If you’re going to pick just one of the YA Westerns currently circulating, I suggest you pick Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson instead.
“Let me tell you something straight off. This is a love story, but not like any you've ever heard. The boy and the girl are far from innocent. Dear l
“Let me tell you something straight off. This is a love story, but not like any you've ever heard. The boy and the girl are far from innocent. Dear lives are lost. And good doesn't win.”
I’m such a fan of the Peter Pan story and character in general that it was inevitable that I was going to get around to reading Tiger Lily at some stage. Having been on my TBR for some time now, and with so many stellar reviews, I decided to up it to the forefront of my reading this month. It was a massive disappointment that I seemed to have missed what was so magical about it.
Tiger Lily promises the story of Peter Pan pre-Wendy – when Tiger Lily was the apple of Peter’s eye. I loved this spin on things, even though I’m a huge fan of the Peter/Wendy relationship in all forms of the story. Unfortunately, Jodi Lynn Anderson’s Tiger Lily didn’t feel like it was set in the Neverland I had become so fond of.
Of course I understand that things needed (or had been chosen) to be changed, but somehow the magic of Neverland didn’t translate over to this one for me. Tiger Lily’s Neverland, instead of being a mystical dreamland place set ‘second star to the right’ is now an unchartered and hidden island off the Atlantic. Immediately, the place was less whimsical. Neverland, despite being hard to locate, is often plagued with ‘Englanders’ who wash ashore and cause problems for the inhabitants of the island.
The entirety of Tiger Lily is told from Tinker Bell’s point of view. I think this also had a hand in really distancing me from the story. Although it’s charming and sweet and full of insights into the life of a fairy, it felt a bit unnecessary. Tink’s loyalty to Peter (such a steadfast thing in the books, movies, etc.) just wasn’t there and despite her instant ‘love’ for him, her allegiance was first and foremost with Tiger Lily, which was strange.
Tiger Lily as a character was alright (I enjoyed her relationship with her shaman ‘father’ Tik Tok, as well as Pine Sap and Moon Eye) but I was never really rooting for her with Peter. She was so much stronger than he was, and I was kind of hoping she’d be resistant to his charms.
With Tiger Lily as the ‘lead’, the Indian camp became a big majority of the book. Although I loved the camp’s dynamic (so many colourful characters), I couldn’t help but feel that if more focus had been placed on the other aspects of the book, that it would have been more what I was expecting. What did surprise me, however, was that there was a lot of sadness and despair in this book - as well as a teeny bit of abuse and some questions of gender, religion and identity. For taking a look at some more troubling elements, I do applaud the author.
Now, let me talk about Peter… long story short, he was awful. Being a massive Peter fangirl wasn’t enough for me this time around. Tiger Lily’s Peter has been aged up (he’s around 15/16 years old) and he can’t fly, climb trees well or even swim. There was nothing that set him apart from the other Lost Boys, yet they seemed to rally around him and put him on a pedestal. I kept wondering what made Peter this fantastic being, because I couldn’t see it at all.
When Wendy came into the book, she was penned solely to be a plot device to sour Peter’s affection for Tiger Lily. Two-dimensional and purposely written to be hated, Wendy offered nothing to the reader other than a reason for Peter to leave Neverland. Peter and Wendy’s relationship was void of anything real or genuine and was merely based on the fact that Wendy liked to stroke his ego. As for Hook and Smee, they were there, but they hardly took the mantle of being the book’s ultimate villains. It was quite disappointing.
Yes, there were little nods to the original material (how the clock ended up in the crocodile’s mouth) but considering how much this one diverted from it in all other areas, it could hardly be called a prequel. Peter and the Lost Boys didn’t even stay on in Neverland by the end of the book, nor did Hook lose his hand to a crocodile in the first place, so I’m unsure on how his fear of the crocodile and it’s ticking clock would ever come into play.
Tiger Lily just didn’t live up to my expectations. On its own it would be quite the nice little book, but when you have a massive Peter Pan fan constantly comparing it to the original, it just can’t compete.
"Only the view remains; the buildings might get bombed, condemned or demolished, but new buildings spring up in their place, each t
"Only the view remains; the buildings might get bombed, condemned or demolished, but new buildings spring up in their place, each taller and more fantastic than the last. London is always changing but it will always be a place where you can have adventures, make new friends, change your story, change your life."
London Belongs to Us is a fun little contemporary read full of pop culture references and colourful characters. But, despite the fun I had reading it, I couldn’t help but feel that something was missing.
Our lead character, Sunny, is pretty standard when London Belongs to Us begins. To be honest I wasn’t sure that I was that into her as a protagonist, but by the end of the book I was surprised to found that my opinion about her had changed. Probably the best part about this book is how much Sunny grows and changes (in a positive way!) after her journey across London in the span of one night.
Sunny and her friend Emmeline are pretty ‘juvenile’ when it all begins. Beginning their afternoon in Crystal Palace, we’re flooded with the stock-standard teen drama of cheating boyfriends, high school crushes and abbreviated text messages. I was beginning to wonder if this was the book I had been expecting when I read the synopsis… Things quickly got shaken up, however, when Sunny attempts to find said cheating boyfriend, Mark, and comes across her first obstacle – the fact that the trains aren’t working.
We’re introduced now to the Godard boys – French cousins living in London and the kind of boys who have become myth due to their mysteriousness and beauty (they even have a tumblr fan page). While Vic and Jean-Luc add an interesting dynamic and no doubt aid Sunny tremendously in her hunt for Mark, I couldn’t help but feel weirdly unattached to them. Though quite a bit of emphasis is placed on both boys (Jean-Luc is always frowning while Vic is a charming ‘romantic’) I never really warmed up to either boy nor did I feel a twinge of genuine feeling other than friendship between them and our narrator.
No romantic vibes between Sunny and the Godards was a-okay with me, but I wish Sarra Manning would’ve stuck to her guns on this rather than suddenly announcing Jean-Luc and Sunny had feelings for one another in the closing chapter. Um, what? Never once did I get anything other than ‘oh okay, he’s quite good looking’ from Sunny, nor did Jean-Luc show any particular fondness romantically for Sunny before he was as tired as a zombie by the end of the night. Their sudden attraction for one another really sprung up from nowhere and threw me for a loop.
But, London Belongs to Us, paints quite a lovely picture of London and its urban-ness. Sunny, a native Londoner, is quite possessive and loyal to her home city and it shows in how she speaks about it. I also really adored the mini-histories behind each district they visit at the beginning of each chapter. For someone who has sadly never been to London (yet) but has been fascinated by it for such a long time, this was a really nice addition. We really get to experience the city from an insider’s perspective.
There are so, so many pop culture references. I really applauded the nod to RuPaul’s Drag Race (huge fan!) as well as the other little quips to do with Doctor Who, etcetera. Will these references stand the test of time? I’m not sure. I think if someone were to read this in 10-15 years that maybe some of the jokes would be lost on them. For now though, it’s great.
Despite this beingso well-paced and exhilarating (seriously, you keep reading to see WHEN the elusive Mark is finally going to be cornered by Sunny and forced to explain his actions) I couldn’t help but feel like this book was just fingertips away from greatness. Something essential was missing – something that prevented me for really jumping on the bandwagon where this book was concerned. I’m not sure if it’s the lack of a clear and fascinating romantic interest, or that it took me some time to really warm up to Sunny, but London Belongs to Us never really defined itself as a favourite for me.
That being said, it was extremely FUN and Sarra Manning managed to create a book that had me feel like I’d been through the ringer as much as Sunny had by the end of it. Seriously, I wanted to pass out on the nearest horizontal surface from everything we’d experienced!
London Belongs to Us is a nice, quick little read that will have you smiling. If you don’t go into it with too much expectation, I promise you’ll enjoy it. The perfect book to pass a handful of hours!
“The fae went down, and before he could retaliate, I went all Van Helsing on his ass.”
And the award for the most predictable book I’ve read in 2016
“The fae went down, and before he could retaliate, I went all Van Helsing on his ass.”
And the award for the most predictable book I’ve read in 2016 goes to…. *sigh* Wicked, despite being set against the gritty, historic streets of New Orleans is the epitome of ‘predictable, tropey urban fantasy’.
I should’ve heard the warning bells clanging as soon as I realised this one was self-published by Jennifer L. Armentrout. Having heard rave review upon rave review about JLA’s romances, I decided to pick this one up and give it a go (the premise sounded exciting and that cover was gorgeous!) However, I have read JLA’s The Dark Elements and was less than impressed with that one (totally frustrated with how that series completely threw away all its potential).
Ivy is our main character, and although Wicked is firmly ‘new adult’, I couldn’t help but feel as if Ivy Morgan acted no better than a fifteen year old. Sassy, headstrong and gullible, Ivy has trust issues when it comes to letting people get close to her. You see, like the majority of YA/NA paranormal heroines, she’s lost everyone close to her and fears what losing someone else she cares about will do to her. Orphaned, with only her ‘supreme butt-kicking skills’ to get her through the day, Ivy constantly bemoans how no guy would ever find her attractive when her stunning best friend Val is around.
Sound familiar? I know, right.
I was so, so hoping that Wicked would provide me with some surprises. Having not delved much into New Adult, I thought that maybe – maybe – there was something awesome waiting just around the corner for me within the pages. No such case. It seems that all it takes these days for something to be ‘new adult’ is simply having a lot of swear words and some graphic sex scenes. Maturity in characters? Nada.
I could see the ‘twists’ coming from a mile away and it was as if JLA just dove toward them, not caring that she was leading her readers down that well-trodden road.
Ren, as a love interest, was iffy. He tried to be this amalgamation of alpha-male-bad-boy and sweet-caring-sensitive-guy and it was just a weird mesh. He was constantly ‘groaning’ and making all sorts of guttural sounds when it came to Ivy’s beauty, all the while sheltering a wounded soul. I just got this weird vibe from him – like he was trying to be too many characters instead of one. It also irks me when human men in paranormal fiction call human women ‘females’. It’s just odd.
Aside from the screamingly obvious plot; there were so many pop culture references it became suffocating. We were constantly tossed ‘snarky’ and ‘witty’ lines about Supernatural, Harry Potter, Twilight, etc. and it just threw me every time. I didn’t find it hilarious, or relatable, and it just seemed like JLA was trying too hard to nail the fact that these characters were modern ones entrenched in pop culture. I don’t need names of franchises, etc. to make me believe that.
And is it normal for people to swear so much? I mean, come on, I’m not a hermit…. And I’m a firm believer that when used right, swearing can be all kinds of emotive and useful in dialogue… but Wicked just went beyond any semblance of normalcy. Basically everything was ‘fucking sweet’ or ‘fuck-sticks’ or ‘fuck that shit’ and I believe there was even a ‘fuckity fuck’. ALL THE TIME. Again, I couldn’t help but feel that it was just trying too hard to be all ‘edgy and New Adult’. Even the cute little fairy guy was swearing his ass off and instead of being hilarious it was just wrong.
Sigh. As for the bigger plot of the ancient fae being loose and about to wreak havoc on New Orleans? I really couldn’t care less. Ivy was busy mooning over Ren and buying sugar for her live-in brownie, Tink, that I never really felt the urgency of the supernatural/fantasy plot. Just thinking about the next book exhausts me, because I can already guess how it’s going to play out and I don’t think I can bear it.
Why am I even continuing with Torn, the next book in the series?
'I'd never pictured it possible that I could hurt Simone. And if I had been able to block that memory - it made me wonder what else I was forgetting.
'I'd never pictured it possible that I could hurt Simone. And if I had been able to block that memory - it made me wonder what else I was forgetting.'
This book was such a nice little surprise! With Malice is a complete page-turner, urging the reader to desperately read just one more chapter.
This is my first novel by Eileen Cook. I can’t say I’m familiar with the author or any of her previous work. Upon seeing the cover of With Malice, my curiosity was instantly piqued. Though I tend to stay away from the ‘teen motivate to murder her best friend’ type of stories (too drama-rama for me) something about With Malice stayed in my mind and I decided to add it to my Goodreads shelf. Cue a week or so later when I saw that Allen & Unwin Australia was hosting a competition with an ARC of the copy available to win…
Yup, I managed to score one. As soon as I finished my previous read, I picked it up and was instantly hooked. With Malice includes a trip to Italy, but really all we’re given is our main protagonist Jill either in a hospital, court or recovery room. What should be boring manages to be positively gripping as we follow Jill through the media circus that has become her life, all while trying to piece together what happened on a trip she can’t even remember.
Her best friend dead and now a suspect in her murder, Jill struggles to balance recovery and the thought of what her life will be like without Simone. Not sure what to believe – or whom – Jill comes across as a sympathetic character who the reader can instantly relate to. While Jill wasn’t the perfect narrator (she was a bit immature at times) I never struggled with her chapters. I actually wish the mixture of court documents, transcripts, blog posts, etc. that fit between chapters had been left out of the story, as I felt although they added flavour, they offered little in the way of progression or the ability to see the ‘big picture’.
That being said, I found Jill to be a very conflicting character. On one hand everyone seemed to gush about how studious and polite she was, while others spoke about her partying habits and her ability to push Simone into a corner. I know everything was inflated by rumour, but at times I found it hard to fathom how said rumour could even begin when Jill was such a mouse.
At around 300-pages, this one was a quick and entertaining read. I was eagerly ploughing through the chapters to find out what happened, and if Jill would ever get her memory back. As things kept being brought to light (Nico, a knife, footage of the crash) I had no idea how things were going to wrap up. There was a very real possibility Jill was going to have to go back to Italy and things were looking a bit grim.
When we finally learn ‘the truth’, I’m not sure if it’s actually truth at all. To say the ending was disappointing is pushing it a bit, but I wasn’t wholly satisfied where things ended. Yes, I was able to close the book and go ‘okay, then’… but I didn’t feel like the matter was closed. There were so many elements I expected to be a larger focus (Nico – I mean, what the? He could’ve been used in such a big way!) and instead they were glossed over. Still, I didn’t go into this book wanting or needing a hard-hitting mystery that lingered days after the book ended. With Malice is a page-turner and a great shot of entertainment, and I think that’s all it really needs to be.