Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Book Review: Touch of Frost by Jennifer Estep

Touch of Frost by Jennifer Estep
Release Date: July 26, 2011
Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation
Pages: 336
Received: ARC from author
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Goodreads Page


From Goodreads:

My name is Gwen Frost, and I go to Mythos Academy — a school of myths, magic and warrior whiz kids, where even the lowliest geek knows how to chop off somebody's head with a sword and Logan Quinn, the hottest Spartan guy in school, also happens to be the deadliest.

But lately, things have been weird, even for Mythos. First, mean girl Jasmine Ashton was murdered in the Library of Antiquities. Then, someone stole the Bowl of Tears, a magical artifact that can be used to bring about the second Chaos War. You know, death, destruction and lots of other bad, bad things. Freaky stuff like this goes on all the time at Mythos, but I'm determined to find out who killed Jasmine and why—especially since I should have been the one who died. . .


It's a Hufflepuff's time to shine

No, no, there aren't any real Hufflepuffs here, but Gwen Frost is the Mythos Academy equivalent to a Hufflepuff. She's not particularly powerful, she isn't rich, she isn't gorgeous, she isn't popular, her interests typically fall into the dorky category (like mine!), and she isn't the Girl Who Lived or any such thing. She's just Gwen.

But "Just Gwen" is pretty cool. Gwen and her first-person narration totally made the book for me. She's snarky, but not overly so. She doesn't have any friends, but she's not all pole-up-her-butt about it. She's actually kind of sad, like a puppy. Her dorky interests made her endearing and totally relatable. This made me instantly like her and even feel a little protective.

All that alone would land her an invitation to my sleepover party, but her determination to do the right thing and solve a girl's murder--even when no one else seems to care, even when the girl was really mean, and even when things become increasingly dangerous--makes her totally worthy of BFF Charm status.

The massive amounts of drool-inducing baked goods Gwen always seems to have handy cinch the deal. My gosh, seriously, purge your house of all baking supplies before you read this book or you'll totally gain 50lbs with all the book-inspired eating you'll do.

Boarding schools!

This is a boarding school book, and all of the familiar features of boarding school books are present here. There's the mean girl, the hot guy, the dorms, the library, the teachers who know more than they let on. But there's a twist to everything. Ok, the dorms are pretty standard (Gwen's tower room sounds awesome), but there's just enough of a twist to all of the major components to make Touch of Frost seem both comfortingly familiar and intriguingly different.

The mean girl is different from the typical mean girl. The very first scene opens with a confrontation between mean girl Daphne and Gwen and I had my eye-roll all ready to go, but Daphne turned out to be completely different than I had originally assumed. She has depth and I actually like her as much as I like Gwen. She reminded me of Alona Dare from Stacey Kade's Ghost and the Goth series--prickly popular girl, but with a sweet soft side.

The hot guy isn't the typical insta-love magnet at all. Their relationship is refreshingly real and doesn't really move beyond the very beginning stages of crush-but-maybe-more in this installment (and Gwen is so cute as she deals with her mixed feelings for him). I'm not totally on board with him yet because, well, he's pretty much a player. But there are hints at some Hidden Depths and that maybe all those rumors about his, ahem, conquests, aren't telling the whole truth? I can't wait to find out and see how their relationship develops in the sequel.

Murder! Epic battle!

Ok, that's kinda misleading. Sorry. There are no epic battles. But there is the set up to epic battles. Basically the pawns are moving out of formation and testing the waters. I know Something Big is going to happen down the line, but at this point the pieces are just starting to come into play.

The focus is instead on Gwen solving the murder of mean girl Jasmine. The pacing of the mystery was pretty good. I wasn't ever really OMG WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN??!?! but I had fun following Gwen as she put together clues and pretty much stumbled on the answer (which was as much a surprise to me as it was to Gwen).

So why not 5 stars?

There were a few things I didn't love. The students at the school are way racy. They're frequently boozing it up and having lots of sex. It was all very naughty, which makes it a difficult book to recommend to younger YAs, even though I think they would love Gwen and the rest of the story. The "adult-ness" of this clashed with the fluffy lightness of everything else (think Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins).

My only other complaint is that a lot of things felt underdeveloped. I love the idea of a school full of Amazons, Valkyries, Spartans, Ninjas, etc, but not much detail is really given about them. I want to geek out over descriptions, histories, famous people, etc of the different categories. Give me juicy bits like Godric Gryffindor and his sword and involvement in the creation of Hogwarts and the traits prized in his house, and so on. That richness and detail sadly wasn't there, but it so easily could be given the premise. Maybe in the next book?

Oh, and some things felt a little repetitive. Like the flash Gwen had that set everything into motion. It was mentioned A LOT more than I thought it needed to be.

Bottom line

Love! I'm totally reading the rest of the series and I can't wait until Kiss of Frost comes out in November (November? OF 2011?!?! Did I read that right? YES!!!).

While there is the murder mystery and that part is solved in Touch of Frost, this really is very much a "setting up for the rest of the series" type of book. There's a LOT of stuff that isn't resolved and you might want to wait until the rest of the books are published before starting the series. Or at least just prepare yourself for this if you can't wait (and I don't blame you for not wanting to wait!)

And because I didn't know where else to stick it: Grandma Frost and Vic (the SWORD) are totally awesome! I cannot wait to see more of them!

Explanation of rating system: Star Rating Key 

Do you have any questions about Touch of Frost  that I haven't addressed? 
Feel free to ask in the comments!

Looking for another book like this? 
You might like: 

Click on the covers to go to my reviews.


  1. *claps hands* that sounds awesome !!!! I so love boarding schools!!..and I think, I will appreciate the "naughtiness" ;)

    Very very excited to read that one!

  2. Yes! Okay, the thing that gets me most excited: the paranormal boarding school, obviously. But also, Gwen just sounds awesome to me. Though, to me anyway, she sounds like the kind of character I would read and wonder why she doesn't have any friends. I mean, if you and I both definitely want to be her friend, and presumably lots of readers who read this would as well, then why wouldn't she be able to find any in this book? Anyways, this sounds excellent. Except for the lack of details because I always crave that in the books that I read. Amazing review!

  3. *glares*
    You mean I gotta wait till November to get my hot little paws all over this book???

    You taunt me, madam! You taunt me!

    In all seriousness, it sounds like a really awesome book and I shall add it to my to buy list. I like the idea of Gwen being a 'normal' girl for a change.

    Mean Girls with hints of Alona sounds good too.

    And thanks for the heads up on the racy, I don't usually love books like that, but the rest sounds awesome so I'll give it a go

  4. Oh, wait, I went back and re-read the whole thing, and I realized you meant Kiss of Frost for November!

    sorry *takes back glare*

    *gives cookie*

    I apologize!

    I guess my brain is trying to tell me to go to bed already :P

  5. Love this review Small. I want this book now (like right now). Gwen sounds amazing. I like a female lead how is quick witted. And I also like the fact that mean girl is likeable. Because I normally have a problem with cliche mean girls. Definitely getting my hands on this book!

  6. If you hadn't already psyched me up for this one--what with the bookmark-sending and the mentioning in various blog posts--this review definitely would have. And it has me MORE excited. I can't wait to get my hands on this!

    ~ Asher (from Paranormal Indulgence)

  7. I'm so glad you liked this book! I've been looking forward to it for a while but sometimes had second thoughts about it...you know, not wanting to get it too hyped up in my mind so that it couldn't fulfill the expectations. You're review though has let me know that I am the right amount of excited for this book. yay!

  8. Hmmm, hoping to get this one in the mail soon! Thanks for the review!

  9. Yay!!! So glad you enjoyed this one too, I just adored Gwen. I'm with you on Logan, I want to like him, but he's making it difficult which is kind of fun since he's unpredictable. So excited for Kiss of Frost!

  10. I have this one on my wishlist and your review just made me more excited for it. Yay for relationships that develop slowly, characters that are layered and relatable and an overall good story.

  11. This sounds fabulous! I love that she's snarky but not and also not mopey or braggy about having no friends. Moderation is key. The raciness would irritate me too though.

  12. K I'm a little bummed I don't get to gush over all the cool Greek gods and history and epicness but everything else sounds awesome! naughty boarding school, no insta-love, and a likeable MC--sweet!

  13. Yet another book (or post) that I just starred from you!

    I think I'll be interested in this book for the same reasons you were. My dorkiness shall be liberated. Great review.

  14. Yahoo! Boarding school murder mystery paranormal amazeballs! Count me in, despite the underdeveloped stuff. I don't mind the sexy times.

  15. Danny, I think you’ll really like it!

    Aylee, Ooh, how do I answer without giving things away? Hm, well, usually I would have the same question you do about Gwen not having any friends, but it actually makes sense in this book. Gwen’s a new student and her status, reason for coming to the school, and nature of the other kids all make it believable that she doesn’t have any friends yet.

    Alex, Haha, nope, you don’t even have to wait a month! But I’ll take that cookie, thank you :) I hope you like it!

    Nic, Thanks! Daphne is definitely different from the typical mean girl. I really like her and the way she and Gwen work together.

    Asher, Yay! I hope you love it! (nice signature, btw :) )

    Scarlett, Well, I don’t want to OVER hype you. It wasn’t a perfect book for me, but I just really liked Gwen and the overall story a lot. I hope you do too!

    Savannah, I hope you get it soon and enjoy it!

    Jenny, Wasn’t Gwen just awesome? She made the book for me.

    A Canadian Girl, Yes! I hope you enjoy it! It was such a nice surprise to see all of those features.

    Alison, Agree about moderation. Luckily, while there is raciness, it’s in the background and Gwen just observes it. She doesn’t take part.

    Laura, Aw, yeah I know, but Gwen is really good. Hope you like it!

    Book Geek, It was so much fun “spending time” with dorky Gwen :)

    Logan, Tons of fun to be had :) The sword Logan, the SWORD. He’s cool.

  16. Hmm, okay. I guess I'll have to read it to find out!

  17. Sounds like a fun book. I loved this review. I really want to start reading this series now. (Loved the HP references btw, haha)

  18. The biggest lure for me is BOARDING SCHOOL (magical) that got me. I think this is something I would really enjoy - now if I could just carve out some time to read it....hmmm that's the challenge.

  19. I hadn't heard of this series AT ALL. I just read the entire Hex Hall series over Thanksgiving break and adored them. It was the first "boarding school" series I'd read since Harry Potter (though does Anna and the French Kiss count?) and I didn't realize how much I missed that particular setting. I'll definitely be checking these out, especially since you're gushing over the later books in the series!

    Lauren @ Hughes Reviews


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