Thursday, March 22, 2012

Mini Reviews + Giveaway: Masquerade and Friendship on Fire

MASQUERADE (Heven and Hell #1)
Cambria Hebert
Paranormal Young Adult
360 pages
Otherworld Publications
Available Now
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.

Rating: 3/5

Danielle Weiler
Contemporary Young Adult
488 pages
Sid Harta Publishers
Available Now
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.

Rating: 3/5


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!


  1. It's funny to me that these are what you consider "mini reviews". It's too bad about Masquerade's lack of world building because that is critical for me. Otherwise, it is as you put it, "potentially fascinating".

  2. Do you think that the cover of Friendship on Fire looks like a teen Christian fiction book? That's what I'd assume it was.

    Speaking of physical disfigurement, have you read North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley? It's about a girl who has a large birthmark on her face. A beautiful, sad, yet uplifting book.

    alisoncanread at gmail dot com

  3. I've been looking at Masquerade on Amazon, it was tempting. Now, not so much. Maybe if the next book is better, I'll start the series. Or if it's free some time.

    Friendship on Fire-hmm 350 pages on a merry go round of everyday minutiae is not something I want to read. If it's that long, it better be damn good. No thanks.

    Thanks for the great reviews Jenny.
    I don't know what makes them mini in your mind. They seem as thorough and long as your typical review!


  4. Hm I'm most definitely intrigued my Maquerade.! I saw this book around and only read awesome things about it!

    I find it a little too often that it's hard to grab the specifics of a world in one book. Too many things are left open for the sequel but, sometimes this is just confusing..

    It does sound great though :))

  5. Both sound like they would be awesome reads. I've seen Masquerade around and would love to get my hands on it. Thanks for hosting an awesome giveaway.


  6. I'm reading Masquerade right now (yay for the read=along!) and I'm adoring it so far! I was only allowed to read to chapter eight, but I can definitely see what you mean about Heven being easy to sympathize with but hard to connect with. Hopefully maybe the sequel will impress you more? :)

    And oh gosh, I never realized that Friendship on Fire was so long before LOL! Sometimes I like reading shorter books better because they tend to be more fast-paced and intense. But other times, I like a book so much that I don't want it to end so it balances it out haha! x)

    Amazing mini-reviews, Jenny! Even though they weren't perfect reads, they both still sound great! :) <3

  7. Great mini's jenny...:D I think I have the Friendship one in my list of review books...:) I cant get over that first books lips...LOL

  8. Aylee - Hahaha I know, they're not super mini. I guess mini in comparison to my other ones:) I really liked the Masquerade world, that's why I wanted to know more about it:)

    Alison - It definitely does, but it's not a Christian Fiction book:) I have not read North of Beautiful, I'll have to check that one out!

    Heather - The main issue I had with Masquerade was Heven. I don't deal well with young women whose lives revolve completely around a boy. I want them to be independent first before love enters their life. And I definitely could have done without about 200 pages of Friendship on Fire, but once she got down to it I really enjoyed it.

    Danny - It's gotten great ratings from most reviewers, I'm just particularly hard on female protagonists, and Heven posed some problems for me.

    Felicia - You're welcome!

    Mimi - Glad you're enjoying it! And I don't mind books that are 500 pages as long as each page is used for a purpose, and I didn't quite feel that way about Friendship on Fire. The core story was really interesting, I wanted more of it and less of the everyday stuff.

    Tina - I'll be interested to see what you think of it:)

  9. RE: Masquerade- While I understand the low self esteem because of scars and other issues involved, the co-dependent relationship would absolutely frustrate the crap out of me. While I don't mind female characters be all lovely dovey, I need to see them stand on their own two feet and grow a spine of their own.

    RE: Friendship on Fire- The merry-go round metaphor nails exactly how I felt with this book too.

    Awesome minis, Jenny!

  10. There is just something about the cover of Masquerade that I don't like.

  11. Great reviews, Jenny. I am eager to start Masquerade soon. I'm glad you enjoyed it despite the issues you had with the characters. It's good to hear it is intriguing and well-written. I'm looking forward to starting it! :)

  12. Masquerade! It sucks you had some issues connecting with the heroine, but I'm glad you enjoyed it overall. I am extremely curious about it! I hope you get your wish about more independence from the characters in the sequel!

  13. I love your reviews... mini or full. :)

    I like the idea of a scarred heroine but not so much about the co-dependent relationship. I don't like the part about not feeling fully functioning without him.

    I like the idea of the slower build to the relationship in Friendship on Fire. I'm curious about it and I'm glad that the emotional parts sing.
    books (dot) things (at) yahoo (dot) com

  14. Wow--488 pages is really large for a contemporary YA. Sounds good but that it needed some "kill your darlings" love.

    The world of Masquerade sounds very intriguing, though the best world-building in the world can't complete with a character you can't connect with.

  15. I like minis :) More to read in the end, well if there are two minis around

  16. Yay! I'll be reading Masquerade in April from the read-along. Looking forward to it.

    And yeah, the long winded path that FoF took, kind of lost me a bit, so I put it down a while back. But I've been meaning to get back to it. Hopefully soon. :)

  17. I guess the lack of world building didn't bother me so much in Masquerade but the insta-love and then their dependency on each other did kind of bother me. But it was still a good read. :)

  18. Thanks for the giveaway!
    natasha_donohoo_8 at hotmail dot com

  19. I enjoyed your honest review. It sounds like an interesting book.


  20. I do appreciate your honesty with your comments and that you criticized fairly. Thanks for the heads up about the slow development of the plot, characterization, etc. I will remember that as I read it!

  21. Thanks for the giveaway. Please enter me in contest. I would love to read this book.

  22. Great mini reviews Jenny! I would enter the giveaway but I re3ad it already! LOL!

  23. I'm super excited to start Masquerade!!! I love dark and passionate dude!!!!