Sunday, August 28, 2011

Chain Reaction by Simone Elkeles

Wow! Simone Elkeles really hit it out of the park in the conclusion of the Perfect Chemistry trilogy. In fact my final reaction to this book is shocking because quite honestly I was not really anticipating this book. After reading the description I really was a little unsure of this book. I loved the earlier two and wasn’t so sure of this one. Here’s the description from Amazon:

Luis Fuentes is a good boy who doesn't live with the angst that his big brothers, Alex and Carlos, have always lived with. Luis is smart, funny, and has big dreams of becoming an astronaut. But when he falls for the wrong girl, Luis enters a dark world he's never known, and just when he thinks he's got life all figured out, learns some disturbing news about his family that destroys his positive outlook on life. Will that Fuentes bad boy streak come out with a vengeance and lure Luis to live on the edge like his new girlfriend and his own father?

This series has a little bit of a West Side story to it. All 3 books revolve around a division in ethnicity and class. The boys are from the wrong side of the tracks and are involved with gang activity. If you enjoyed West Side Story or other books in that topic then you will love this series. Although there is more of a love story to Elkeles work.

First of all Luis isn’t my favorite Fuentes by far however I think this is probably the best book of the series. Luis is a great lead but I found that he wasn’t quite as intense as Alex and Carlos. He still has his moments and some emotions still have that fierce intensity but overall he doesn’t live life as passionately as his brothers. Then he meets Nikki and she brings out his intensity.

Nikki was by far the most interesting love interest in the series. She has gone through so much prior to meeting Luis that she has a lot more depth from the first chapter. She is a very strong girl and has sustained a good amount of hurt. At times as a reader you might want to shove her along to heal but it makes for a great story.

The plot of this book is surprising. I don’t want to ruin it but I was dumbfounded about ¾ of the way through the book at the curveball we are thrown. There are so many issues that this book addresses and the others simply dance around. It isn’t just a love story but a coming of age/healing story for both of the main characters.

This was by far my favorite book even though Alex and Britney are my favorite couple. I give this one a 5/5. Be sure to check out the first book Perfect Chemistry if you haven’t started the series. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tris and Izzie by Mette Harrison

I have really begun to lean toward the summer romance books this past month and so my last few reads haven’t been as paranormal as usual. Also there is a bit of a lack of interesting paranormal books. I saw this book on Netgalley and was really intrigued because Tristan and Isolde is a great love story. Here’s the summary from goodreads:

A modern retelling of the German fairy tale "Tristan and Isolde," Tris and Izzie is about a young witch named Izzie who is dating Mark King, the captain of the basketball team and thinks her life is going swimmingly well. Until -- she makes a love potion for her best friend Brangane and then ends up taking it herself accidentally, and falling in love with Tristan, the new guy at school .

There were parts that I absolutely loved about this book and parts that I didn’t care for. It seemed very black and white while I read it. In the beginning I found it hard to stay interested. It is obvious that the relationship with Mark is comfortable and a major plot conflict was very obvious to me. ** Spoiler ** I figured out extremely easily that she didn’t really take a love potion. However, there were still some surprises at the end about what she did take

I found the rest of the story between the two to be very sweet. It is fairly brief due to conflicts but it was sweet. I also liked the supporting characters and seeing them develop in the story instead of just the main couple.

I found the paranormal aspect completely unbelievable. It is really hard to read a book that is unrealistic. Izzy basically just finds out about her powers and heads out to destroy something that has been killing her kind for decades. I didn’t find that at all believable.

I liked the way the author ended the story. It was obvious that it was the end of the this story and it was nice to see where the characters ultimately ended up. The last few pages of the book were probably the most enjoyable for me.

Overall I give the book a 2/5. I feel like a younger YA audience would appreciate this book better. I don’t think it will work well for older YA readers. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Juliet Spell by Douglas Rees

I came across an interesting modern story of Romeo and Juliet on Netgalley and thought I would give it a try. I really enjoyed the modern Pride and Prejudice that I read and was hoping for another hit. Here’s the description on Netgalley:

I’m Juliet.
At least, I wanted to be.
So I did something stupid to make it happen.
Well, stupid and wonderful.
I wanted the role of Juliet more than anything. I studied hard. I gave a great reading for it—even with Bobby checking me out the whole time. I deserved the part.
I didn’t get it. So I decided to level the playing field, though I actually might have leveled the whole play. You see, since there aren’t any Success in Getting to Be Juliet in Your High School Play spells, I thought I’d cast the next best—a Fame spell. Good idea, right?
Yeah. Instead of bringing me a little fame, it brought me someone a little famous. Shakespeare. Well, Edmund Shakespeare. William’s younger brother.
Good thing he’s sweet and enthusiastic about helping me with the play...and—ahem—maybe a little bit hot. But he’s from the past. Way past. Cars amaze him—cars! And cell phones? Ugh.
Still, there’s something about him that’s making my eyes go star-crossed....
Will Romeo steal her heart before time steals him away?
I’m afraid for me this book was not a hit. I had several problems with the story. First the spell itself is odd. Some random spell happens to work and then later on the explanations get really crazy for the age group the book is written for. Being a math major I could relate to several mentions of higher level math or science facts, however, I feel like most teenagers would have no clue.
I also didn’t care for the entire second half of the book. A lot of characters and obstacles are introduced to the plot. I would have preferred a much simpler plot. In the end, too much ends up going on and in a way that distracts you from the real story that is going on with the main characters.
I did like the first half of the love story between the main characters. I felt like there was a definite chemistry between the characters and it definitely piqued my interest in the book. However, as things kept going I was less enthused.
Overall I would give the book a 2/5. For me it wasn’t a great book. I do feel like it will have an audience though and while I didn’t love it others might enjoy it as a quick read. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Beyond the Grave by Mara Purnhagen

I have really enjoyed the previous books in the Past Midnight series so I was excited to see that the newest installment was “in my mailbox.” Here’s the description of the book:

Being Charlotte Silver, the daughter of famous paranormal investigators, means my life isn’t like that of other teenage girls. Especially after what happened to my parents. Things changed. I missed prom and deferred my big college plans. But I still have my boyfriend, Noah. He’s everything I could want—if I can figure out what’s up with him. Suddenly Noah is secretive.
I fear it has something to do with what happened to us three months ago. The bruise Noah suffered during a paranormal attack has never completely faded. Now I’ve learned Noah is researching demons. And when he disappears, it’s up to me to find him—before something else does.

I have to say that I found the first book in this series to be “ok” and the second book really piqued my interest in the series with the curveball that happened in the end (see my reviews in the archives). I was a little apprehensive about the plot of this installment. **Spoilers** The second book doesn’t end well with Charlotte’s mom having sustained a severe head injury. I felt like this book could be a major growing part for the characters or it would be really depressing with the loss of such a vital part of the family unit in the series. I must say that I was really happy that it the first and not the latter.

We see Charlotte grow tremendously in this book along with Noah. They both go through so much that they can’t help but mature and grow. Charlotte finds an inner strength that is amazing. While dealing with her own emotions over her mother she also must deal with her dad and his issues surrounding that night. I liked that we see more of just Charlotte. There isn’t as much interaction with Avery or other supporting characters.

New characters are introduced in the series that counter the Watcher. I really thought that this was well done as it introduces a new belief without seeming outrageous. Furthermore, there are some revelations that once again come at the end of the story that are shocking.

It seems as though things are wrapped up in this book so you aren’t left at a cliffhanger at the end of this book. It is still open to possibly have more books but it doesn’t end with a major event that we have to wait for a resolution for. Overall, I give the book a 4/5. 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Wildcat Fireflies by Amber Kizer

Wildcat Fireflies is the much anticipated sequel to Meridian by Amber Kizer. I absolutely fell in love with Meridian when I first started by blog. You can check out the archives for a review of Meridian. I was so excited when I saw that the next installment in the series was coming out this summer. Here’s the summary from

Meridian Sozu is a Fenestra—the half-human, half-angel link between the living and the dead. She has the dark responsibility of helping souls transition safely into the afterlife. If people die without the help of a Fenestra, their souls are left vulnerable to be stolen by the Aternocti, a dark band of forces who disrupt the balance of good and evil in the world and cause chaos.

Having recently lost her beloved Auntie—the woman who showed her what it meant to be a Fenestra—Meridian has hit the road with Tens, her love and sworn protector, in hopes of finding another Fenestra. Their search leads them to Indiana, where Juliet, a responsible and loving teenager, works tirelessly in the nursing home where she and several other foster kids are housed. Surrounded by death, Juliet struggles to make a loving home for the younger kids, and to protect them from the violent whims of their foster mother. But she is struggling against forces she can't understand . . . and even as she feels a pull toward the dying, their sickness seems to infect her, weighing her down. . . .

Will Meri and Tens find Juliet in time to save her from a life of misery and illness? And will Meri and Tens' own romance weather the storms of new discoveries?

I have mixed feelings about this book. I loved all of Meridian but did not quite feel the same about the latest installment. It was weird at first because I couldn’t put my finger on what exactly was out of place for me in the story. The characters were the same and the writing is the same however it just didn’t hold my interest as much as the first book. After rereading the book, I really think it was because I couldn’t get into Juliet’s story. I really enjoyed any parts that related to Meridian and Tens but had a lot of trouble getting through the parts related to Juliet. I found it hard to relate to her situation and then trying to puzzle through what was going on in the situation also took away some of my interest.

On the other hand, I couldn’t get enough of Meridian and Tens. They grow quite a bit in this story as a Protector and Fenestra and as a couple. They also mature as they are now on their own. I still feel like we don’t really know anything about Tens because his character is so guarded. While we get some insight to what’s inside of his head we don’t fully see “what makes him tick.” I am hoping to get to know more later on in the series.

We are also left wondering about the relationship between a Fenestra and her Protector. I am really curious to  learn what role the Protector plays. So far we haven’t seen Tens do much other than anticipate Meridian. I am wondering what he could do against a Aternocti. I am thinking that as a Protector he likely has a role against them.

New characters are introduced to the story that are fun and make things interesting. I am hoping Meridian and Tens stay in the same area so we can see how the new characters will play into the story.

Overall, I give the book a 4/5. After reading it the second time I was able to get through more of Juliet’s story and appreciate the addition to the series. Meridian is searching for Fenestras so of course new characters have to be introduced. I am just a little more excited to see how the rest of Meridian and Tens story continues.