Paranormal Young Adult
Received from author for review
THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Before. Everything was so much better Before. I wasn’t haunted by nightmares, my place at school was secure and my face was flawless. Now, I’m a freak and everything has changed. The worst part is that I can’t remember the night I was sentenced to the shadows. The memory has been stolen from me and I just can’t shake the feeling that someone, something is out there -watching.
Just when I think I have my life handled, Sam, with his intimidating golden stare and shiver inducing voice, makes me realize that I don’t know anything. He makes me see that my scars don’t matter. That they never mattered. I can’t help but fall for him, completely unknowing that he knows exactly how I got this way. Not knowing he was involved.
Heven has no idea how closely death stalks her. She has no idea what I have done to keep her alive. I fear the day she learns my secrets, finds out what I really am. But even then I cannot stop, I vow to make things right. Finally her hunter will be hunted, Heaven and Hell, faith and sin will battle, and we will be victorious. But first, Heven must learn to be what she never imagined. I know her strength is there – I feel it. If we are to overcome all odds, she must push past her flaws - her frailties - to become much more.
Brimming with darkness and passion, Masquerade provides us with a intriguing combination of normal and paranormal, providing us the opportunity to closely examine the emotional complexities of a disfigured young woman while also unfolding before our eyes a supernatural mystery featuring blissfully underutilized supernatural entities. Due to the relative newness of these beings, we have an intense desire to know as much about them as possible, but sadly, the mythology is left fairly incomplete in this first installment with only a snippet here and there mentioning their history and how they came to exist alongside human beings. We know little of their traits and abilities other than the bare necessities to understand a certain character’s physical transformations, so we can't help but spend much of our time wishing for a touch less of the sweet lightness of the romance and a bit more of the alluring darkness of the unknown.
While Masquerade is certainly well-written and weaves a complicated and layered tale, heroine Heven is a difficult young woman to really connect with though we certainly sympathize with her circumstances. She suffers from extremely low self-esteem as a result of the brutal scars marring her otherwise stunning face, and while Sam’s affections do build her confidence, she remains throughout a girl who needs a boy in her life and has trouble fully functioning without him. Both she and Sam enter into a mutually co-dependent relationship, constantly needing to be together at every turn in order to feel at peace to the extent that they become the sole focus of each other’s existence, defined by the other person rather than by themselves.
Overall, Ms. Hebert has created the foundation for a potentially fascinating world, and toward the end prepares us for a rather epic journey to begin in the sequel, but I'm hoping we get a little more independence from both Sam and Heven as they set forth on their quest.
FRIENDSHIP ON FIRE
Contemporary Young Adult
Sid Harta Publishers
Received from author for review
THE STORY (from Amazon)
The first few days of year 12 are disastrous for school captain Daisy Brooks. But Daisy’s life takes a sudden turn when she is dared by Skye, the leader of the Blonde Brigade, to meet the mysterious, drop-dead gorgeous stranger, Nate, from rival school Addison Grammar. Daisy’s instant attraction to him disrupts her world. But what about her best friend Roman? How will he respond to this intruder? Daisy is a vulnerable, yet fiery girl going through the chaotic phase between teenage and adulthood. She is about to discover the complexities of relationships, the etiquette of friendship and, most of all, her development as a woman. Is it too late for Daisy to realise that the choices she makes shapes who she is and who she will become?
Friendship on Fire is a bit of a meandering tale, forcing us to take a long and winding path to reach our final destination rather than a shorter, more direct route, and often losing our attention at times as a result. We can see fairly early on where the story is ultimately heading–a story of friendship and first love and the evolving nature of the two–and while we’re thoroughly excited to dive in and begin our journey with Daisy, that excitement quickly wanes in the face of pages and pages of her day-to-day activities and the general minutiae of her life. It’s almost like we readers are on a merry-go-round–we’re able to spot something of interest between Roman and Daisy quickly, but before we can reach out and grab it for closer study, we’re whipped around in yet another circle and and continue to rotate gradually until we complete the revolution and are granted the opportunity to try and reach out one more time.
After we make our way through the extremely slow buildup of Daisy’s relationship with Nate and find ourselves about halfway through, things start to pick up and the emotions begin to feel far more real than the short temper flare-ups expressed by Daisy up to that point. Suddenly in the final 150 pages there’s a new layer of tension not bogged down by or hidden behind superfluous school events or soccer matches, instead the connection we’ve been waiting for begins to take form and we find ourselves invested in Daisy’s life. Overall, Friendship on Fire is a story that could have easily been told in well under 500 pages, but when Ms. Weiler does finally get down to the emotionally gritty parts of the story, she has a fully captivated audience in us as readers.
Thanks to Ms. Weiler, I have a signed paperback copy of Friendship on Fire up for grabs on the blog today! To enter, please just leave a comment with a valid email address so I can contact you if you win. This giveaway is open to US residents only and will run through midnight EST on Sunday, March 25th after which time a winner will be chosen and emailed. Good luck everyone!