Category Archives: Balzer and Bray

Review: For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release date: June 12, 2012
Source: Purchased

The only book by Jane Austen that I’ve actually read was Pride and Prejudice, after watching the A&E version with Colin Firth in fifth grade, so it was so long ago I don’t even compare anymore. With Persuasion, obviously I’ve never read the book, but I’ve seen the movie starring Ciaran Hinds, so there were comparisons between that and For Darkness Shows the Stars. Thankfully not many, since this book holds it’s own and only draws inspiration, and doesn’t copy. 
Overall I liked all the characters very much. The captains were interesting, as were the admiral and his wife. I would say that I would’ve liked to have seen the admiral, but we didn’t get much exposure of him throughout the story. He took a backseat to his wife and captains. I was very impressed by Elliot’s sister Tatiana, and definitely less so with the father and cousin Benedict of course. There were times when Elliot seemed extremely dense, more so than the story really required, and that was frustrating at times, especially when things are being spoken of quite clearly by the other party.
The story itself was very interesting. I would have liked more details about the world itself and not just the divide between the Reduced and the Luddites. More explanation about the Reduction would’ve been nice, and how the Reduction led to the Reduced besides humanity being arrogant. The one thing I felt weird about while reading was that they were made to seem as though they weren’t actually human, and that just didn’t sit well with me. It seemed like more than just them being from different social classes. Like slavery, but worse in a way, if that makes any sense at all. That was the only thing I didn’t like.
All in all, this was definitely one of my most anticipated novels of this year, just because it was inspired by a work of Jane Austen’s. I was definitely not disappointed with the overall book and would recommend it to those who love post-apocalyptic and dystopians combined, as well as fans of anything Austen related.

Review: Thumped by Megan McCafferty

Thumped by Megan McCafferty
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release date: April 24, 2012
Source: Purchased
Series: Bumped #2

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.

I didn’t reread Bumped before this so I felt like I was reintroduced to these characters. And I have to say that there’s one twin I prefer more over the other, and it’s not the twin I would’ve thought I’d pick. But her part of the story was just so much more interesting. She was actually dealing with issues we can all relate to. The other just had boyfriend or non-boyfriend issues.

I think I had mixed thoughts on Bumped, because it does talk about a controversial issue. One that is going on right now even, fictional virus or no fictional virus. Teen pregnancy is a serious issue. And even with the religious aspect of Bumped, I wasn’t all that thrilled with a book promoting teen pregnancy. But Thumped I think resolved that issue somewhat. And I only say somewhat because it’s not a perfect resolution since there’s still that virus going around.

There’s still a weird vocabulary, but if you keep in mind that this is set not that long in the future, and if you’ve read the first book, than it shouldn’t be all that hard to slip into their jargon. I actually liked some of it this time, some of the joined words were clever and made me laugh upon first reading them.

In the end, I must say I enjoyed Thumped much more than I remember enjoying Bumped. Don’t get me wrong though, I did like Bumped. Both books are thought-provoking, and definitely eery. I could well imagine a future like this happening with everything we do to our bodies, all the chemicals and toxins around us everywhere daily. Recommended for fans of dystopian, though it is slightly different from most in that genre.

Review: Partials by Dan Wells

Partials by Dan Wells
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release date: February 28, 2012
Source: Purchased
Series: Partials #1

Humanity is all but extinguished after a war with partials—engineered organic beings identical to humans—has decimated the world’s population. Reduced to only tens of thousands by a weaponized virus to which only a fraction of humanity is immune, the survivors in North America have huddled together on Long Island. The threat of the partials is still imminent, but, worse, no baby has been born immune to the disease in over a decade. Humanity’s time is running out.

When sixteen-year-old Kira learns of her best friend’s pregnancy, she’s determined to find a solution. Then one rash decision forces Kira to flee her community with the unlikeliest of allies. As she tries desperately to save what is left of her race, she discovers that the survival of both humans and partials rests in her attempts to answer questions of the war’s origin that she never knew to ask.

Combining the fast-paced action of The Hunger Games with the provocative themes of Battlestar Galactica, Partials is a pulse-pounding journey into a world where the very concept of what it means to be human is in question—one where our sense of humanity is both our greatest liability, and our only hope for survival.
I almost gave up on Partials. I started it in early March, and it just wasn’t grabbing me, even 150 pages in. Too much worldbuilding and setup and not enough story movement. So I put it down for nearly a month. Then I picked it back up again, because I don’t like to not finish a book if I can help it. I know a lot of people have a 50 page rule, or even up to 100 page rule, but I don’t. I have more of a time rule. If it takes me too long to get even halfway through, like the year it took me to get have way through the first Shannara book, then I give up. Partials is divided into three parts, and the first part is the slowest and hardest part to read. That may be off-putting to some of you, but it is worth it to get through that first part. I’m very glad I did.
The second two parts have tons of action and story movement. I liked most of the characters well enough, though they didn’t really feel their ages to me. Kira was supposed to be 16, but she felt older than that. But that could also work since in a world like theirs, especially with something they have called The Hope Act, you would have to grow up hard and fast. I didn’t like Marcus, who was Kira’s love interest. First we don’t really see him all that much, and second even when we did see him I have to admit he kind of acted oppressive. Definitely not attractive. I liked the Partial Samm even more, and definitely want to see the interaction between him and Kira in the second book. For the most part though, the story is definitely lacking in the romance department.
Partials was one of my most looked forward to books in 2012 so far, and I have to say it didn’t quite meet up with my expectations, but in the end it didn’t fall too short either. I will definitely be reading the sequel, especially since more questions were asked than answered, and I have to know what happens with all the different things going on.

Early Review: Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris (ARC)

Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release date: April 24, 2012
Source: Publisher for an honest review
Purchase: Book Depository

Two days before her junior year, Janelle Tenner is hit by a pickup truck and killed —as in blinding light, her life flashing before her, then nothing. Except the next thing she knows, she’s opening her eyes to find Ben Michaels, a loner from her high school whom Janelle has never talked to, leaning over her. And though it isn’t possible, she knows with every fiber of her being that Ben has brought her back to life.

But her revival, and Ben’s possible role in it, is only the first of the puzzles that Janelle must solve. While snooping in her FBI agent father’s files for clues about her accident, she uncovers a clock that seems to be counting down to something — but to what? And when someone close to Janelle is killed, she can no longer deny what’s right in front of her: Everything that’s happened—the accident, the countdown clock, Ben’s sudden appearance in her life—points to the end of life as she knows it. As the clock ticks down, she realizes that if she wants to put a stop to the end of the world, she needs to uncover Ben’s secrets—and keep from falling…

This is one of the most awesome books I’ve ever read. And it’s huge, with so many things going on all the time throughout the story that there was never a point that dragged for me. As you’ll know if you’ve read the summary, Janelle dies and is brought back to life. What I didn’t expect was for it to happen right off the bat, but it did.

Janelle is also one of the most kick-ass characters I’ve ever met. Her dad is an FBI agent, so she knows more than an average girl her age would know about things going on with the FBI, and also how to protect herself. Eli gives her crap every time they meet, but Janelle just rolls with the punches and deals them right back with ease. I’d love to be like her. Her dad’s partner, Struz, was awesome as well. Kind of like an older brother to her, it was apparent that he was part of the family.

There are so many twists and turns in this story that I have to say I never saw what was coming. When it was revealed what the countdown was to, I initially was disappointed because I wanted the book to continue in the way it had, as an FBI action thriller. As I kept reading though the real cause for the countdown grew on me, and ended up making the story more awesome than it would’ve been had it gone the way I wanted it to.

All in all, if Goodreads had the option it would definitely get 6 starts out of 5. These characters felt so real, that when certain stuff went down with people she knew, I choked up. I felt connected to these people, and definitely cared about what happened to them. This is probably the best debut I’ve ever read and I seriously cannot wait to read more by Elizabeth Norris.

Review: Everneath by Brodi Ashton

Everneath by Brodi Ashton
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release date: January 3, 2012
Source: Around the World Tours
Published format: Hardcover, 370 pages
Series: Everneath #1
Purchase: Book Depository

Summary from Goodreads:
Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath, where immortals Feed on the emotions of despairing humans. Now she’s returned- to her old life, her family, her friends- before being banished back to the underworld… this time forever.

She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can’t find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.

Nikki longs to spend these months reconnecting with her boyfriend, Jack, the one person she loves more than anything. But there’s a problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who first enticed her to the Everneath, has followed Nikki to the mortal world. And he’ll do whatever it takes to bring her back- this time as his queen.

As Nikki’s time grows short and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she’s forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole’s…

I loved Everneath. A different take on the Persephone/Hades myth, very unique. The world building Brodi did, and the myth building worked for this story. I love how while they’re still gone for the six months in human time, that timespan is actually longer in the Everneath, nearly 100 years.
Warning for those who don’t like them, love triangle is definitely present in this book! I immediately latched on to one guy over the other and definitely wanted her to end up with him. In a way she kind of does, but definitely not how I was expecting it. I can’t wait to see how that is played out in the second book.
Nikki as a character is both strong and vulnerable, like all the best are. She doesn’t care that everyone at school and in town think certain things about her because of her disappearance, but she is concerned what her close family and friends think, and tries to use her time with them as wisely as she can, despite the obstacles she’s given. Cole and Jack were both great characters as well, though one I definitely liked less than the other. But both in their own way care for Nikki the best they know how.
This is a new entry into the paranormal that you don’t want to miss! If you love different takes on greek mythology, this is definitely your book. I loved it, and can’t wait to buy a finished copy to add to my personal library.

Review: Bumped by Megan McCafferty

Bumped by Megan McCafferty
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: April 26, 2011
Source: Bought
Format: Hardcover, 336 pages
Purchase: Book Depository

Summary from GoodReads:
When a virus makes everyone over the age of eighteen infertile, would-be parents are forced to pay teen girls to conceive and give birth to their children, making teens the most prized members of society.

Sixteen-year-old identical twins Melody and Harmony were separated at birth and had never met until the day Harmony shows up on Melody’s doorstep. Until now, the twins have followed completely opposite paths. Melody has scored an enviable conception contract with a couple called the Jaydens. While they are searching for the perfect partner for Melody to bump with, she is fighting her attraction to her best friend Zen, who is way too short for the job.

Harmony has spent her whole life in religious Goodside, preparing to be a wife and mother. She believes her calling is to bring Melody back to Goodside and convince her that “pregging” for profit is a sin. But Harmony has secrets of her own that she is running from.

When Melody is finally matched with the world-famous, genetically flawless Jondoe, both girls’ lives are changed forever. A case of mistaken identity takes them on a journey neither could have ever imagined, one that makes Melody and Harmony realize they have so much more than just DNA in common

Compared to other dystopians, this didn’t have the feeling of impending doom, the on the edge of your seat tension. Which was actually kind of a nice break. Execution, on the other hand, was bit sketchy for me. On the very first page we’re introduced to a word I’ve never seen before. I immediately searched through the book to see if there was some kind of glossary. There wasn’t, so every time new words popped up I had no idea what was being talked about. That kind of disrupted the flow of the story for me, which was somewhat annoying. I did like how each chapter alternated in POV. We’re seeing a lot more of this lately, and so far I’ve been loving this trend. And other than the weird words, the rest of the world-building definitely made this seem a likely possibility of what could happen in the future.
Melody was more likeable than Harmony, in my opinion. I mean sure, she wasn’t exactly thrilled for her sister to show up, but she wasn’t a preachy church girl fresh off the farm ready to bring God to the heathens. Sorry, that may have been a bit much. In terms of religion, my philosophy is to each their own. If you believe in one faith or another, awesome. I’ll support you in your beliefs. Harmony got on my nerves very early on and managed to stay there throughout. In the end though I was definitely thinking she might just move off the nerve, except that hope was dashed with the choice she made. Melody’s choice though made me happy. Zen was completely real and loveable, as was Ram. Jondoe… I wanted to like him. But there was no chemistry between myself and this character in the end.
This book was definitely left open enough for the possibility of a sequel, so I’d be curious to see how certain things play out if one comes. It’ll also be interesting see the discussions Bumped will bring up, because this is definitely a controversial topic being discussed. But as I said earlier, I did enjoy the overall story. Some parts were laugh out loud funny, others just plain confusing. But it also makes you think.