Posts Categorized: balzer & bray

I’m Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl Release Day Spotlight

18 Oct, 2016 by in balzer & bray, gretchen mcneil, YA fiction Leave a comment

I received this book for free from Balzer & Bray in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

I’m Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl

by Gretchen McNeil
Published by Balzer & Bray on October 18, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Pages: 352
Format: Hardcover
Source: Balzer & Bray
Buy the BookGoodreads
Beatrice Maria Estrella Giovannini has life all figured out. She's starting senior year at the top of her class, she’s a shoo-in for a scholarship to M.I.T., and she’s got a new boyfriend she’s crazy about. The only problem: All through high school Bea and her best friends Spencer and Gabe have been the targets of horrific bullying.

So Bea uses her math skills to come up with The Formula, a 100% mathematically guaranteed path to social happiness in high school. Now Gabe is on his way to becoming Student Body President, and Spencer is finally getting his art noticed. But when her boyfriend Jesse dumps her for Toile, the quirky new girl at school, Bea realizes it's time to use The Formula for herself. She'll be reinvented as the eccentric and lovable Trixie—a quintessential manic pixie dream girl—in order to win Jesse back and beat new-girl Toile at her own game.

Unfortunately, being a manic pixie dream girl isn't all it's cracked up to be, and “Trixie” is causing unexpected consequences for her friends. As The Formula begins to break down, can Bea find a way to reclaim her true identity and fix everything she's messed up? Or will the casualties of her manic pixie experiment go far deeper than she could possibly imagine?

Happy Book Birthday!


This book had me laughing out loud as Beatrice tries to reinvent herself and her group of friends using mathematical formulas. She’s “Math Girl, ” working on a scholarship to MIT, and she’s tired of her friends being bullied. Simple enough, Beatrice figures out a way to start over one day as Trixie, “manic pixie dream girl.” Her best friend Gabe reminds me a bit of Duckie in Sixteen Candles. Gretchen McNeil does a great job exploring the meaning of true friendship and the pitfalls of popularity.

Favorite character? Spencer

Content: heavy swearing, LGBTQ relationships, mature issues with parents.

About the Author

Gretchen McNeil is the author of the standalone YA horror novels POSSESS, TEN (a 2013 YALSA Top Ten Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, a Romantic Times Top Pick, a Booklist Top Ten Horror Fiction for Youth, a finalist for Washington state’s 2015 Evergreen Young Adult Book Award and Vermont’s 2014-2015 Green Mountain Book Award, and was nominated for “Best Young Adult Contemporary Novel of 2012″ by Romantic Times) and 3:59.  In 2016, Gretchen will publish two novels: RELIC, a YA horror novel, with HarperCollins/EpicReads Impulse on March 8, 2016, and in the fall, I’M NOT YOUR MANIC PIXIE DREAM GIRL, her first YA contemporary, with Balzer + Bray. Gretchen also contributed an essay to the Dear Teen Me anthology from Zest Books.


Breview: This Is My Brain on Boys~ by Sarah Strohmeyer

16 May, 2016 by in balzer & bray, contemp, ya Leave a comment

I received this book for free from Balzer & Bray in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This Is My Brain on Boys

by Sarah Strohmeyer
Published by Balzer & Bray on May 10, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Pages: 352
Format: Hardcover
Source: Balzer & Bray
Buy the BookGoodreads
Addie Emerson doesn’t believe in love, at least for herself. A straightlaced, brilliant girl, she’s more interested in getting an A than falling in love. But Addie is determined to prove the science of love—because Addie Emerson does believe in science.

Science tells her that “love” is nothing more than the brain’s state under the influence of certain chemicals. And by artificially stimulating those chemicals, the brain can totally be tricked into falling in love. So Addie decides to apply that knowledge—and make her classmates fall in love—to win the coveted Athenian Award for Science in her elite private school. One way to speed up the process—adrenaline—she’ll put her classmates in dangerous, high-risk situations . . . and research the fallout.

But a mysterious new guy keeps messing with her plans. And she kind of can’t stop thinking about his gorgeous brown eyes. With backstabbing competitors—including her former lab partner, the preppy, wealthier-than-thou Dex—and more than one pair of star-crossed lovers—can Addie manage to salvage her experiment and win the Athenian? And what happens if she does the unthinkable—and falls in love?

Addie is on her way back to school on a flight gone bad. Her plane is about to go down when she notices the person seated next to her appears to be hyperventilating in panic. He looks vaguely familiar and he needs oxygen stat!

Kris is a world traveler/ humanitarian who just can’t relate to others his age after a trip to Nepal. So, in search of new neural pathways he transfers to a new top notch school only to find himself in trouble. Wrong group of friends, wrong girlfriend, and a summer to make it up to his dean.

Geek girl meets popular boy in Strohmeyer’s new YA contemporary.

The pacing is fantastic in the beginning and stalls a little though the middle, but in the end it right on track. I found myself smiling and laughing at Addie’s literal sense of humor plus the shenanigans she finds herself in trying to win a prestigious scholarship via science experiment. Overall, a clean teen read with fun characters and scientific jargon.

Content-some teen drinking and a few swear words

Author Bio

After being placed on other “must read” YA lists, SMART GIRLS GET WHAT THEY WANT has recently been chosen by Texas school librarians for the 2013 Lone Star Reading List, a great honor since Texas is a BIG state. Thank you, librarians!

It’s also my fourteenth novel, but my first for young adults after writing mysteries and stand alones, one of which, THE CINDERELLA PACT, became the Lifetime Movie – LYING TO BE PERFECT. Of all these, SMART GIRLS has been my favorite to write because not only was I a “smart girl,” but so were my daughter and her friends who, like me, grew tired of playing second fiddle. I figured the time had come for our kind to receive the kudos, the attention and the boys. The bad girls had hogged center stage long enough.

Before I wrote novels, I was a newspaper reporter of questionable talent for twenty years, never quite serious or responsible enough for the duty of recording all the news that’s fit to print. (My definition of what was fit to print and my editors’ often clashed. Apparently, it was not necessary to describe certain cops as “super cute.”)

Some novelists begin their careers by winning literary contests or writing their first manuscripts while pursuing a masters degree. I began mine by placing Barbie in forty contemporary and historical settings with photos taken by my friend (and awesome photographer) Geoff Hansen. BARBIE UNBOUND: A PARODY OF THE BARBIE OBSESSION became a cult hit, landed me on CBS This Morning and USA Today. It was, briefly, the most shoplifted book in America.
After that, I wrote the Bubbles Yablonsky mystery series featuring a bubble-headed blonde ditzy – or is she? – hairdresser with a gift for gossip who becomes a newspaper reporter. Kind of like a memoir, sure. And then a bunch of novels about women.
Today, I live in Vermont with my husband, a lawyer, and son, Sam, an upcoming high school junior. My daughter, Anna, is a senior at Bryn Mawr College where there are A LOT of smart girls. Also, there’s Fred, my five-year-old basset hound and between you and me, the love of my life.


A Cold Legacy by Megan Shepherd~ Book Blast and Giveaway

27 Jan, 2015 by in a cold legacy, balzer & bray, book blast, megan shepherd, rockstar book tours 4 comments



Fire and Ice is so excited that A COLD LEGACY by Megan Shepherd releases today and that we get to share the news, along with an excerpt
from the book!
If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful book by Author Megan Shepherd, be sure to check out all the details below.

This blast also includes a giveaway for a signed copy of the book and swag courtesy of Megan and Rockstar Book Tours. So if you’d like a chance to win, enter in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.

a cold legacyTitle: A COLD LEGACY
Author: Megan Shepherd
Pub. Date: January 27, 2015
Publisher: Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins
Pages: 400
After killing the men who tried to steal her father’s research, Juliet—along with Montgomery, Lucy, Balthazar, and a deathly ill Edward—has escaped to a remote estate on the Scottish moors. Owned by the enigmatic Elizabeth von Stein, the mansion is full of mysteries and unexplained oddities: dead bodies in the basement, secret passages, and fortune-tellers who seem to know Juliet’s secrets. Though it appears to be a safe haven, Juliet fears new dangers may be present within the manor’s own walls.
Then Juliet uncovers the truth about the manor’s long history of scientific experimentation—and her own intended role in it—forcing her to determine where the line falls between right and wrong, life and death, magic and science, and promises and secrets. And she must decide if she’ll follow her father’s dark footsteps or her mother’s tragic ones, or whether she’ll make her own.
With inspiration from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, this breathless conclusion to the Madman’s Daughter trilogy is about the things we’ll sacrifice to save those we love—even our own humanity. 


Montgomery stopped the horses outside a tavern. He came to the carriage door, opening it just a crack to keep the rain from drenching us. “I’m going to ask directions. We can’t be far now.”
We watched him saunter over the muddy street as though he didn’t even feel the bite of freezing rain. A face appeared in the tavern window. The door opened and he spoke to a woman in a wool dress for a few moments, then stomped back through the mud. “This village is called Quick,” he told us. “The manor’s only five
miles from here.”
“Did you hear that?” Lucy murmured to Edward, still stroking his hair. “We’re almost there. Just hold on. Everything will be all right once we arrive.” 
Montgomery’s eyes shifted to me. Neither of us wanted to remind Lucy that the prospect of Edward’s fever breaking—and the Beast’s reappearance—was almost more frightening than the fever itself. Delirious, he was less of a threat.
“Let’s go then,” I whispered to Montgomery. “And quickly.”
He closed the door and in another moment we were moving again, passing through the rest of Quick. Then all too soon the village was nothing but fading lights. The storm grew and the road became rougher, and all the while Edward’s eyes rolled back and forth beneath shuttered lids.
Thunder struck close by, and Lucy shrieked. Montgomery whipped the horses harder,pulling us along the uneven road impossibly fast, trying to outrun the storm. I twisted in the seat to look out the back window at the pelting rain. A stone fence ran alongside us.
“We must be getting close,” I said.
“Not soon enough,” Lucy breathed. “We’re going to crash if he keeps driving like this!”
The road widened, straightening, letting us travel even faster. Lightning struck close by, blinding me. The horses bolted. Lucy screamed and covered her eyes, but I couldn’t tear mine away. The lightning had struck an enormous oak tree, twisted from centuries of wind. The oak took flame, blazing despite the rain. A smoking gash ran down the trunk—the lightning’s death mark. I watched until the rain put out most of the flames, but it still smoldered, billowing hot ash into the night.
The horses pawed the earth, and I grabbed the window to steady myself. At this wild speed, just hitting a single rock at the wrong angle would send the carriage
shattering to the ground. It was madness to go so fast. Couldn’t Montgomery calm the horses?
Just when I feared the carriage would careen out of control, it stopped short, throwing me against the opposite wall. I tangled in Lucy’s limbs as the chains around Edward’s body clinked. Balthazar grunted, jerking awake at last. We scrambled in the bottom of the carriage until the door flew open.
Montgomery stood in the pelting rain. I feared he’d say we’d broken another strut or the horses had gone lame or we’d have to spend the night in the harsh storm.
But then I saw the lights behind him, and the night took shape into a turreted stone manor with bright lamps blazing and gargoyles on the roof vomiting rain into a stone courtyard.
Montgomery’s eyes met mine beneath the low brim of his hat.
“We’ve arrived,” he said.

About the Author

megan shepherd
I’ve been many things, like a professional exchange student, park ranger in Montana, and LOST enthusiast, but
what I am now is a writer.
I think it’s fair to say I was born into it. I grew up in the mountains of North Carolina, raised behind the counter of my parents’ independent bookstore, Highland Books in Brevard. Ah, so many free books. But I never thought being a writer could be a real career. After college I thought I’d end up as a foreign service officer somewhere dashing and exotic, like Canada. I studied French, Spanish, German, and Russian and still speak a few of those. Then I joined the Peace Corps and spent two years in Senegal, where I learned a few more languages I’ll never speak again and lived in a mud hut with no electricity or running water. You can probably imagine how that experience went, but if you’re curious, here are the dirty details
It wasn’t until a chance aquaintance read something I wrote and said, “have you ever considered being a writer?” that something clicked and I realized it was possible. My husband encouraged me, and I quickly fell head-over-heels in love
with writing and children’s literature in particular. I started out writing articles, which have appeared in Faces, Appleseeds, and Calliope magazines, and stories for younger children. I soon realized I wasn’t sweet enough to write fiction for that age and found myself writing young adult literature instead, which doesn’t require nearly as many tender moments and includes a lot more cursing.
When I’m not writing, I can usually be found horseback riding, day dreaming at coffee shops, or hiking in the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina. I love to hear from readers, so please drop me a line!
I am represented by Josh Adams of Adams LiteraryAuthor Photo by Kristi Hedberg Photography

The Giveaway

1 winner
will receive a signed copy of A COLD LEGACY and swag! US Only.
Ends on
February 6th at Midnight EST!

a Rafflecopter giveaway