Wednesday, July 22, 2009

FIRST NIGHT Review - Tom Weston

FIRST NIGHT by Tom Weston is a strange and oddly fascinating mix of humor, mystery, adventure, and paranormal. Without wonderful descriptions of Boston that only a true observer could write, Weston instills his love of the area and the First Night festivities into the story making it come to life. With a good deal of fun and the perfect amount of adventure, FIRST NIGHT was a pleasure to read and a book that I know I'll be going back to.

First Night by Tom Weston
Publisher: Tom Weston Media
Pages: 260
ISBN +13: 9780981941301
My Recommended Age Group: Any Age
Released: December 31, 2008

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From Tom Weston Media:
Alexandra O’Rourke, aged 16, is not a happy camper. It's New Year’s Eve. She should be partying in San Diego with her friends, but instead she is stuck in Boston, with just her younger sister, Jackie, for company. As if that wasn’t bad enough, she is being haunted by Sarah, the ghost of a seventeenth century Puritan. Oh, and there is the small matter of the charge of witchcraft to be sorted out.

Armed only with big shiny buttons and a helping of Boston Cream Pie, the sisters set out to restore the Natural Order. Can Alex solve the mystery of the Devil’s Book? Can Jackie help Sarah beat the sorcery rap? And can they do it before the fireworks display at midnight? Because this is First Night - and this is an Alex and Jackie Adventure.
My thoughts:

If you've ever been to a First Night festival, you'll know all about the fun and festivities that surround the celebration. For those that haven't experienced this joy, First Night takes place on New Year's Eve in many cities but most famously in Boston. Party goers receive a First Night button that gets them in to the events attractions where they can party the day and night away. For Jackie and Alex, First Night is both a blessing and a curse.

Jackie is thrilled to be visiting her aunt and uncle. The sisters are given the entire day to wander the city on their own and Jackie can hardly contain herself at the possibilities this entails. Her older sister Alex, however, would much rather wait out the day in the car while her aunt and uncle finish up their work. Where Jackie is outgoing, Alex is more quiet and subdued. It'll take a miracle, or maybe a walking dead girl to get this teen excited about something.

Sarah Pemberton is just your average Puritan girl. Only problem is that she's walking around Boston 300 years after her death. When her spirit is woken and brought to the Court of the Spirits, a charge of witchcraft against her might mean the difference between returning to a restful eternity of peace or eternal fire and fury for her soul. Allowed time to find an advocate for her defense, Sarah is set free on modern day Boston. As fate, and some great writing would have it, Sarah runs right into, or should I say through, Jackie and Alex. What follows are pages and pages of a unique story full of mystery, humor and curiosity.

I found FIRST NIGHT to be quite an enjoyable read. This is the kind of book that I would return to when I wanted something lighter and fun but still with a note of authenticity in it. The part that really sold me on FIRST NIGHT was the obvious research that went into the writing. Both the historical pieces and the modern pieces were described in great detail. The events and locations were as authentic as the author could make them and this aided the story. I think I expected a little less of the book, especially the historical sections but found myself pleasantly surprised (which has been happening more and more). Instead of racing through the historical sections and making up details to get on to the modern story, it seems that Weston spent a good deal of time developing both time frames.

As is often the case with a book I like, the characters were another great aspect. I found the characters to be well developed and complex. Jack and Alex, the two blond sisters, could have easily become two identical puppets with different names simply to separate the dialogue. Instead, it is obvious that the two characters are two unique individuals. Each has their own personality and Weston's attention to detail ensure that these personalities come to life. My favorite character was, however, Sarah. How could one not love her! In my opinion Sarah provides the majority of the humor in the book either by her words or her actions. Weston does a great job of maintaining Sarah's historical nature even when the rest of his world is set in modern times.

Writing: 8
Interest: 9
Passion: 8
Originality: 9
Characters: 9
Pace: 9
Overall: 52/60 - B

Book Cover: 2/3

The scores are in! Based on my rating scale, FIRST NIGHT is a book that you are really going to want to read. It seems to have something for everyone including a great series of plot twists and turns. The only thing I would have loved more was a little smoother flow. The story was fantastic and the characters well developed, but occasionally the words wouldn't travel across the page as easily as my eyes wanted. Regardless, I did read the story and I wouldn't be hear recommending it right now if it wasn't good.

Don't forget to visit Weston's website at While there you can view more about the book including a sneak peak at Chapter One and other reviews. You can also check out the interview that Weston did with A Journey of Books, or the short story "There Be Monsters!" that is currently exclusive to A Journey of Books.


Tom Weston said...

Hi Cinnamon,

Thank you for being such a gracious host these last 3 days; and for this wonderful review of First Night.

I must confess that Sarah Pemberton is also my favorite character. Alex and Jackie will move on to different cities and stories, but Sarah is not that fickle.



Sheila DeChantal said...

Sounds great! I have never been to a First Night Festival or have even heard of it before reading your review here. How fun!

The review is great and the books sounds like a great mix!

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