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You are here: Home » Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Ten by Gretchen McNeilTEN by Gretchen McNeil Book Review
Publication Date: September 18th 2012 by Balzer + Bray
Rating: – Acceptable |

Book Summary: And their doom comes swiftly.

It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives—an exclusive house party on Henry Island. Best friends Meg and Minnie each have their reasons for being there (which involve T.J., the school’s most eligible bachelor) and look forward to three glorious days of boys, booze and fun-filled luxury.

But what they expect is definitely not what they get, and what starts out as fun turns dark and twisted after the discovery of a DVD with a sinister message: Vengeance is mine.

Suddenly people are dying, and with a storm raging, the teens are cut off from the outside world. No electricity, no phones, no internet, and a ferry that isn’t scheduled to return for two days. As the deaths become more violent and the teens turn on each other, can Meg find the killer before more people die? Or is the killer closer to her than she could ever imagine?

Ten by Gretchen McNeil Book Review Overview:

  • Creepy – you can’t read this one alone
  • Read it in one sitting; I just had to know who was behind it all
  • Would have liked an epilogue of some sort to know what happened after

I don’t read a lot of mysteries, but I’m glad to have picked up TEN by Gretchen McNeil. The plot sounds like your stereotypical teen slasher film. Best friends Meg and Minnie are excited to spend the weekend partying at the island home of one of the most popular girls at school. But everything starts to go downhill when one of the guests turns up dead. Stranded on a deserted island with no other means of communication, Meg, Minnie, and a small group of teens must find out what is going on before it’s too late.

TEN by Gretchen McNeil is not a book one should read alone. McNeil’s writing will make you paranoid. I was constantly checking my back to make sure that there was no one creeping up behind me, and the softest sounds startled me. I was also easily captivated by the plot of TEN by Gretchen McNeil. I read it one sitting – I just had to know who was behind it all.

The protagonist, Meg, was likeable enough that I didn’t want her to get killed. She wasn’t a simpering female who sat back and let the guys take action. She was pretty involved in the story, which I really liked. However, I wish that Meg had spoken up and voiced her thoughts a few times during TEN by Gretchen McNeil. Biting her tongue is a habit that she eventually learns to overcome in the novel. I admire her loyalty towards her best friend, Minnie, even if she wasn’t exactly the nicest friend in return.

Like any teen slasher film, there has to be a little bit of romance in TEN and Gretchen McNeil does not disappoint. Romance should probably be the last thing on the minds of these teens, but McNeil actually pulls off a decent romantic subplot. There was the perfect balance of mystery, horror, and romance in TEN by Gretchen McNeil.

Though the ending came as a shock, I was a little disappointed by the resolution of TEN by Gretchen McNeil. I would have liked to see an epilogue of some sort that showed how the characters dealt with the aftermath. As a reader, I’m left with a myriad of questions: Will the police actually believe what happened? How will the characters cope with living through such an event? But this is more nit-picking on my part than anything else.

TEN by Gretchen McNeilis a creepy read that will have you flipping pages until the culprit has been uncovered. McNeil will have you guessing until the very end.

Other Book Reviews:
365 Days of Reading
The Compulsive Reader
Step Into Fiction

About the Author

Gretchen McNeilGretchen is a former coloratura soprano, the voice of Mary on G4’s Code Monkeys and she currently sings with the LA-based circus troupe Cirque Berzerk. She is a founding member of vlog group the YARebels where she can be seen as “Monday,” and she is an active member of both The Enchanted Inkpot, a group blog of YA and middle grade fantasy writers, and The Apocalypsies, a group blog of 2012 children’s debut authors.

Find the Author

Website | Twitter | GoodReads

Comments 5 comments

Permalink Permalink Category Book Review, Three Stars - , , , , , , , | Words 1181 words

You are here: Home » Publisher: Balzer + Bray

ThumpedTHUMPED by Megan McCafferty Book Review
Series: Bumped, #2
Publication Date: April 24th 2012 by Balzer + Bray
Rating: – Exceeds Expectations |

Book Summary:  It’s been thirty-five weeks since twin sisters Harmony and Melody went their separate ways. And now their story has become irresistible: twins separated at birth, each due to deliver twins…on the same day!

Married to Ram and living in Goodside, Harmony spends her time trying to fit back into the community she once believed in. But she can’t forget about Jondoe, the guy she fell for under the strangest of circumstances.

To her adoring fans, Melody has achieved everything: a major contract and a coupling with the hottest bump prospect around. But this image is costing her the one guy she really wants.

The girls’ every move is analyzed by millions of fans eagerly counting down to “Double Double Due Date.” They’re two of the most powerful teen girls on the planet, and they could do only one thing to make them even more famous:

Tell the truth.

Book Review Overview:

  • Teen pregnancy is no laughing matter … but THUMPED will make you crack up
  • There are two swoon-worthy guys in this book: Jondoe and Zen.
  • Satisfying conclusion that is definitely worth your money

I can’t believe I had doubts coming into THUMPED by Megan McCafferty. I breezed through BUMPED by Megan McCafferty and I could not have enjoyed it enough. I couldn’t wait to read more about Harmony and Melody, but I couldn’t help but feel a bit of apprehension when I picked up the sequel. Would THUMPED by Megan McCafferty be as funny? Would it live up to my expectations? The answer is yes. THUMPED by Megan McCafferty is the perfect conclusion to Melody and Harmony’s story.

I think it is important to remember the author’s intention when reading THUMPED by Megan McCafferty. No, she is not trying to promote teen pregnancy. McCafferty is forcing readers to think about media and society and the way we portray teen pregnancies. We shouldn’t be glamorizing teen pregnancies. We shouldn’t be making these pregnancies as a form of entertainment on MTV. By poking fun of teen pregnancies in the most hilarious and absurd way ever, Megan McCafferty forces you to realize how serious the matter is. The world in BUMPED and THUMPED is based on reality.

It’s been a while since I read BUMPED so immediately, I had a problem differentiating between Harmony and Melody. They are completely different people, but because of the similarity of their musical names I have difficulty in remembering who’s who. I can finally tell the two apart, but it did take me a couple of chapters to get used to their names again.

I loved reading about Harmony and Melody and seeing them grow as characters from the first book to the end of THUMPED by Megan McCafferty. Harmony obviously changed a lot more than Melody because she previously had such a conservative lifestyle. I found it inspiring to read about how she finally manages to balance out her religion with her other beliefs. It’s not as if she traded religion for a whole new life with her sister, Melody. She found a way to live with both, and I honestly respect that.

Furthermore, I definitely got my romance fix in THUMPED by Megan McCafferty. Okay, Jondoe is seriously pushing tacky at times, but there are other moments where he just made my heart melt. His intentions are so pure – sometimes a little bit naive – that you just can’t help but fall for him a little. I know Harmony has a reason to distrust him, but I really couldn’t help but cheer her on to trust him again.

On the other hand, there’s Zen. Oh my gosh. Of the two guys, Zen has my heart. I seriously love the chemistry between Melody and Zen. Reading about the two of them was one of the biggest highlights of the book. I probably sped through the book so quickly just to read how the conflict between the two of them would be resolved. I wish that there were more chapters that focused on the two of them, and I did feel that Harmony and Jondoe overshadowed the others at times.

The ending of THUMPED by Megan McCafferty was satisfying, but at the same time, it was not tied up entirely. Readers can only guess what will happen to Harmony and Melody, and what impact the truth might have for the rest of the country and even the rest of the world. Harmony and Melody did not end teen pregnancy – that is something completely out of their hands. But they managed to make an impact in the way they can. The open ending leaves the characters in the book to act upon the sisters’ impact and create even more change.

I strongly urge you to pick this up if you read and loved BUMPED by Megan McCafferty. If you’re a fan of her Jessica Darling series, you should really read this series. They’re completely different and you really won’t find yourself comparing the two.

Other Book Reviews:
Birth of a New Witch
I Eat Words

About the Author

Megan McCaffertyMegan McCafferty is the author of BUMPED, a satirical dystopian YA novel published by the Balzer + Bray imprint of HarperCollins. She also wrote the bestselling Jessica Darling series: SLOPPY FIRSTS, SECOND HELPINGS, CHARMED THIRDS, FOURTH COMINGS and PERFECT FIFTHS.

Megan edited a short story anthology called SIXTEEN: Stories About That Sweet and Bitter Birthday. She has contributed to several fiction and nonfiction anthologies including DEAR BULLY, MY LITTLE RED BOOK, DOES THIS BOOK MAKE ME LOOK FAT? and EVERYTHING I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT BEING A GIRL I LEARNED FROM JUDY BLUME. Her work has been translated into eleven languages, including German, Chinese and Hungarian.

Find the Author

Website | Twitter | GoodReads

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Permalink Permalink Category Book Review, Four Stars - , , , , , , , , , , , | Words 1468 words

You are here: Home » Publisher: Balzer + Bray

FROST by Marianna Baer
Publication Date: September 13th 2011 by Balzer & Bray
Rating: |

Summary: Leena Thomas’s senior year at boarding school begins with a shock: Frost House, her cozy dorm of close friends, has been assigned an unexpected roommate: confrontational, eccentric Celeste Lazar. But while Leena’s anxiety about a threat to her sanctuary proves valid, it becomes less and less clear whether the threat lies with her new roommate, within Leena’s own mind, or within the very nature of Frost House itself. Mysterious happenings in the dorm, an intense triangle between Leena, Celeste, and Celeste’s brother, and the reawakening of childhood fears, all push Leena to take increasingly desperate measures to feel safe. Frost is the story of a haunting. As to whether the demons are supernatural or psychological . . . well, which answer would let you sleep at night?

Review Overview:

  • A psychological thriller
  • Too much high school drama at times, which is a turn-off for me
  • Ending was anti-climactic but open for interpretation

I was not quite expecting FROST to be so psychological or so scary. There’s a reason why I wasn’t sorted into Gryffindor. I lack courage. FROST was one of those books I just couldn’t read at night. I know that fear is a very psychological emotion, and Baer was able to trigger my illogical fear just as well as she had with her characters Leena and Celeste.

Leena and I would probably not get along if I knew her in real life. Her character just rubbed me the wrong way. It is pointed out by the Dean that Leena is sometimes skewed with her beliefs and opinions. She gives advice as if she thinks Leena Knows All, and the Dean shuts her down by saying that sometimes what Leena thinks is best is not the best for everyone. I guess her know-it-all mentality and constant urge to meddle with other people’s – ahem, Celeste’s – business just didn’t agree with me.

I love David Lazar and it is completely understandable how Leena can take an instant liking to him. I love that he cares deeply for his family and he would go out of his way to help out his sister. I love some of his quirks such as his obsession with spoons. David was a refreshing love interest to me. He actually felt like a guy that I could meet in real life. He’s not a one-dimensional love interest, which made it frustrating to me at times that Leena increasingly grew neurotic. He probably could do a lot better, and it drove me crazy to see Leena doubt his affections or character.

I would have loved this book more if it wasn’t riddled with so much high school drama. It’s one of the main reasons why I loved my nontraditional high school setting; I escaped unnecessary cat fights for four years. I was not jumping for joy when Leena’s drama with her friends were stirred up. Mostly it comes back to the fact that I know that Leena was at fault and I failed to sympathize with her. She would complain about how her life is a mess, but most of it was her fault to begin with. On the other hand, I feel like drama is inevitable in stories that are set in a boarding school. Still, I wish that there was less of it, even if I can see that it’s important for the development of Leena’s character. FROST would have been stronger minus the excess drama and more focused on the supernatural aspects.

Is this a ghost story? Funny how I can’t exactly answer that. FROST leaves off a little anti-climactic because it fails to answer this question. After 400 pages, I still don’t quite know what happened at the Frost House, and I doubt the characters know either. The ending is open for interpretation so if you like that kind of ending, you’ll probably end the book on a better note than I did.

Other Reviews:
365 Days of Reading
The Book Muncher
Ivy Reads

About the Author

Marianna Baer received an MFA in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and a BA in art from Oberlin College. She also attended boarding school, where she lived in a tiny dorm called Frost House, the inspiration for her first novel, Frost. She currently lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Find the Author

Website | Twitter | GoodReads

Comments 4 comments

Permalink Permalink Category Book Review, Three Stars - , , , , , , | Words 1083 words

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