Friday, February 5, 2016

These Vicious Masks ~ Kelly Zekas & Tarun Shanker (earc) Review, Guest Post, Giveaway [@SwoonReads @XpressoTours @tkshanker @kellyzekas]

These Vicious Masks (#1)
by Kelly Zekas & Tarun Shanker
Swoon Reads
February 9, 2016
352 pages
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/B&N/or Amazon

Evelyn has no interest in marriage and even the dashing Mr. Kent can’t make her want to live up to society’s expectations. She’d much rather assist her beloved sister Rose in becoming the world’s first female doctor. But everything changes the night she meets Sebastian Braddock – not only is the reclusive lord both vexing and surprisingly attractive, he’s also quite possibly mad, and his interest in Rose is galling. So when Evelyn wakes up to discover that Rose has disappeared, she immediately suspects Sebastian.

But then she discovers that Sebastian’s strange tales of special powers are actually true, and that Rose’s kidnappers have worse in mind for her than simply ruining her reputation. Surrounded by secrets, lies, and unprecedented danger, Evelyn has no choice but to trust Sebastian, yet she can’t help but worry that Sebastian’s secrets are the most dangerous of all…

For some reason, I, originally, was not that sure I wanted to read These Vicious Masks. I say that only because if you are thinking the same thing? Read it. Even if you weren't thinking anything of the sort: read it.

Really, how can a book where one of the dedications is to Buffy be bad? (It can't, can it?)

I loved Evelyn and her sister Rose right from their introduction. Evelyn's desire not to go to a ball, her contemplation of whether or not she could jump from the carriage along with Rose's pragmatic seeming but still wonderfully sarcastic responses were perfect. Evelyn's snark and the way she was quite contrary to, well, just about everything really worked.

The affection between Rose and Evelyn - despite their differing personalities - is evident from the beginning. As are their differences with their mother. The events surrounding Rose's disappearance and Evelyn's decision to find her were dramatic, but also very fitting of the characters and what they felt was at stake.

The inclusion of people with 'special powers' really makes things a whole new level of fun. They are different than superhero type books usually feature and I really enjoyed how those powers, who has them, who may have them, who wants to know who has them, and what they are played into things. More than that, though, I enjoyed that the characters, their interactions and relationships were so strong apart from the 'powers.' 

Evelyn was my favorite character but all of the other characters with how they interact with her, what they say and do, what they cause her to think about and the conclusions they lead her to are key.

It's great how the 'powers' complicated some things for them, logistically and with how they felt about each other, or wanted to feel about each other but weren't what the one thing the book hinged on. If you had taken away that element, it still would have been good. (Maybe nonsensical, but good.) 

Though the desire to find-slash-rescue her sister is Evelyn's key motivator, there is a great balance between that detective work, her attempts to figure out how she feels about the young men in her life and her questions over where she fits in the world. This is a good mystery, with strong supernatural elements and fantastic characters. I need Book 2 asap.

Dreaded balls, fancy dresses, possible brothels, mad scientists, awesome younger sisters, evil step-mothers, brilliant sister-sister relationships, fights, powers, danger and maybe some romance, These Vicious Masks has it all.

(Really? I just love, love this book, its characters, the writing, the wit, the snark, the special powers, absolutely all of it. Please read this book.)

Other Books You May Also Enjoy: Jackaby by William Ritter and the Lovegrove Legacy #1 & #2 by Alyxandra Harvey

Guest Post:

Though it does sound like a lot of fun, it would seem that co­writing a novel could also be tricky at times. I would love to know if there was a time you disagreed on the inclusion of a scene/character/etc ­ and how it was handled, Thanks.

On the best days, having a co-writer is the most wonderful thing ever. We share successes, feed the other’s imagination and revel in their praise. And on the worst days, having a co-writer is sometimes the only thing that keeps us going. When one of us gets low, frustrated, or stuck, the other steps in, refocuses the project and bucks us up. It’s on those medium days where we might squabble, get exasperated and think “maybe this would be easier if I got to call all the shots, here” that we both have to work hardest and find a way to compromise. We don’t want to have something in the book that only one of us likes.
But this only works if you can be 100% honest at all times. We have a huge amount of respect and trust for each other and it probably wouldn’t work if we didn’t. However, because we have to be super honest, it can lead to Gchat conversations like this one during edits last year after Kelly read one of Tarun’s chapters:

Kelly Zekas:
sheeeee shoouuuullldddnnnttt beeee soooooo annnngrrrryyyy wiiiitthhhh sebbbb
and nooooot ruuuuuun aaaawwwaaayyy

Tarun Shanker:

Kelly Zekas:
i'm sorry
it just ... doesn't work

Tarun Shanker:
you don't work!

Kelly Zekas:
i think it just needs to be

Tarun Shanker:
i guess mr kent could just make her leave

Kelly Zekas:
"you should have told me. You should have trusted me."
and he is like "ev wait"
and Kent tells him to shush
and ushers her out
tells her she is tired
and then it is just more of an exhausting, long 24 hrs

Tarun Shanker:
i can possibly deal

Kelly Zekas:
i don't think i should change it right now though

Tarun Shanker:
it's just hard to go from a stronger emotional moment to a weaker one

Kelly Zekas:
i know what you mean

Tarun Shanker:
it's like seeing a trailer for a fast and furious movie where they fly through 3 buildings
and then they just fly through 1

Kelly Zekas:
i don't think it's that bad

Then one of us would email the other an hour later and say, “Okay, fine, you’re right, good idea. You fix it and I’ll look at it tonight.”

Or sometimes it won’t be solved that easily. Sometimes we fight things out for days at a time. Sometimes we write two different versions of a scene to compare. Sometimes we call our editor and make her play mediator. But in the end, we DO trust each other. We wouldn’t be writing with each other if we didn’t believe that Evelyn’s story could be told by one of us alone. In fact, we’re honestly a bit terrified of the day when we each might write solo novels– Hopefully not anytime soon! J

About the Authors:

Tarun and Kelly met in a freshman year writing class at NYU and started writing These Vicious Masks a few years later.

Tarun is a writer living in Los Angeles whose idea of paradise consists of kung-fu movies, David Bowie and chai tea. Since completing his first horrible screenplay in high school, he’s written everything from one-act plays and film criticism to humor pieces and strongly-worded emails. He’s also magnetized, crushed and burned the hard drive where that first screenplay can be found.

Kelly is a writer and actor living in NYC. YA is her absolute favorite thing on earth other than cupcakes and she has spent many hours crying over fictional deaths. She also started reading Harlequin romances at a possibly too early age (12?), and still loves a good paperback romance.





-US/Can only
-ends Feb 21


  1. Thanks for hosting today, Elle! This sounds like a great read and with good character development too which is awesome! Glad you liked it! :)

  2. This is seriously one of my most anticipated book of 2016! I love the cover and the story just sounds fantastic! Thanks for the chance :)

  3. I cannot wait to read this book! It sounds amazing!

  4. I've been on the fence about reading this....but now I'm sold! Added to my goodreads shelf :) thanks for the review!


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