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review 2017-02-25 18:28
I may be in the minority here but...
Perfect Chemistry - Simone Elkeles

Perfect Chemistry - Simone Elkeles 

 

I amy be in the minority here, but I thought this was sweet and engrossing YA novel. I didn't mean to read it in a few hours, but once Brittany almost ran Alex over with her car, I just couldn't seem to put it down.

It was cheesy at times and very predictable, but it still didn't stop me from enjoying every minute of it. I really loved the Fuentes family and Brittany's sister, Shelley. I'm not sure how accurate the portrayal of gang life was since I've never been in a gang or known anyone in a gang, but it certainly seemed to have a grain of truth in it to me. Especially, when dealing with burying the people you care about due to gang violence. 

I thought that the intimacy between Brittany and Alex was handled well overall, nothing too detailed but it wasn't overly innocent either. And I was happy to see that epilogue. Very cute way to give us a glimpse into their future. 

I'm definitely going to pick up the next book in the series. I'd love to see more of the characters from this story. 

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review 2017-01-02 05:52
Review: Return to Paradise (Leaving Paradise #2) by Simone Elkeles
Return to Paradise - Simone Elkeles

My first official read of 2017 (though technically speaking I started this last year). My overall impression is that this narrative had some good points and some very bad points (keywords: rampant cliches and overly drawn out drama), but overall left a neutral impression on me. I think once the story got back to the main plot conflicts, I found a path to follow through the novel to the very end. Plus the audiobook narration was very good on the parts of Elizabeth Cottie as Maggie, and Nicholas Mondetti as Caleb.

"Return to Paradise" begins a little bit where "Leaving Paradise" left off, and finds Caleb and Maggie reuniting in a by-chance scenario. Caleb's gotten in trouble with the law again, and under his parole officer's wing, finds himself traveling with a group speaking to different kid/teen groups about how he ended up in prison/getting in trouble with the law and how it changed his life, in addition to having to stay at a campsite for a time. Conversely, Maggie travels with that same group talking about her experiences and how she ended up with her life-changing injuries. Suffice to say - Caleb and Maggie having to actively tell two sides of the same story is awkward and creates tension between them given their history. Caleb did a complete progress reversal of character of sorts since the last novel. He became worse for wear - being physically/mentally/emotionally abrasive - with Maggie being fully subjected to that abuse and lashing out. I hate romances like this, because it's like "Dude, Maggie was hurt because of circumstances that you were a part of, can you be more selfish and manipulative with your affection/possession/jealousy of her?"

Ugh.

I started following the narrative better after two things happened: 1. When the cat was let out of the bag with regards to the accident's events and 2. when the book actually got back to Paradise, with Caleb and Maggie both having to wrestle with how people in Paradise had changed since they'd been away. I appreciated the attention on the family conflicts and relationships, with a keen eye on the difficulties of starting over. Yet I almost feel like things in this novel were too easily resolved with respect to the central conflict in the way it was presented. Not that I couldn't believe that this could/would happen with both families having to come to terms with the truth of events, but it was the way it was presented. I found that I liked some of the supporting cast of characters in the book, but feel like they still primarily served as catalysts for the relationship between the protagonists of the novel.

Overall, it's not one of my favorite series depicting this kind of subject matter with the romantic inclinations, but I was still able to appreciate parts of it.

Overall score: 2.5/5 stars.

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review 2016-08-10 11:00
Chain Reaction by Simone Elkeles Review
Chain Reaction - Simone Elkeles

Goodreads Synopsis: 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?

 

 

Review:

 

Okay so I didn’t like the first book very much but was willing to give it the benefit of the doubt and read the second book, liked that a bit more so moved on to the third, with this one I felt like I was reading the first one again and not in a good way.

 

Lets start at the beginning….We have Nikki who has not had a great experience with a boyfriend in the past who chose to be in a gang over her and in the process broke her heart. She has a distrust of guys in general especially ones who say ‘I love you’ …Okay understandable because of what she went through but her putting every Mexican guy she comes across in the same category as her ex was so stupid! I did not like her character one bit, I really wanted to but it just didn’t happen.

 

Then we have Luis the youngest brother in the Fuentes family, he is an adrenaline junkie with great abs and a face that makes all the girls swoon, nothing new there. However, unlike his brothers Luis has his future planned out. He has big dreams of going to college and becoming an astronaut, so why would a boy this smart and this determined join a gang? Your guess is as good as mine!

 

This whole storyline just didn’t make sense! Not only that but the gang storyline got seriously old. I understood Alex and Carlos getting mixed up in that as they thought of that as their future but Luis is way too smart to get himself in that mess. I know he only joined to find out information (stupid excuse) but the author could have come up with something else to keep it interesting.

 

I was hoping going into this that we would get a flipped situation where we have a good boy from the north side who meets a sassy girl from the south side and the trials and tribulations of that relationship. Instead we got the same tired storyline of the first two books, yawn!

 

Also what was that epilogue? It seemed like the author was setting us up for a story about Junior but that obviously wasn’t where she was going with it. It was really random and unnecessary.

 

I know it seems like I’m totally dissing this series but I don’t mean to. A lot of people loved this series but unfortunately it just wasn’t for me.

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review 2016-08-08 11:30
Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles Review
Rules of Attraction - Simone Elkeles

Goodreads Synopsis:  Carlos Fuentes doesn't want any part of the life his older brother, Alex, has laid out for him in Boulder, Colorado. He wants to keep living on the edge, and carve his own path-just like Alex did. Unfortunately, his ties to a Mexican gang aren't easy to break, and he soon finds himself being set up by a drug lord.

When Alex arranges for Carlos to live with his former professor and his family to keep him from being sent to jail, Carlos feels completely out of place. He's even more thrown by his strong feelings for the professor's daughter, Kiara, who is nothing like the girls he's usually drawn to. But Carlos and Kiara soon discover that in matters of the heart, the rules of attraction overpower the social differences that conspire to keep them apart.

As the danger grows for Carlos, he's shocked to discover that it's this seemingly All-American family who can save him. But is he willing to endanger their safety for a chance at the kind of life he's never even dreamed possible?

 

 

Review:

 

This book was slightly better than the first book but I still didn’t love it.

 

Right off the bat I didn’t like Carlos, not exactly what you want when he’s our main protagonist. He was cocky and could be really annoying at times. I think I also just couldn’t imagine him as a 17 year old and kept thinking of him as Alex’s younger brother. He grew on me as the story went on though.

 

My favourite characters of the story were Tuck (he was freaking hilarious!) and Kiara’s family, especially her dad. These characters brought the comedic aspects to the story and I loved how welcoming and loving her whole family were. I think it was these characters that made me like this book more than the first as they were well rounded and gave the story a more realistic feel.

 

One thing that was also present in the last book that still annoyed me in this one is the author having her main characters get together with no build up! Kiara and Carlos were in a fake relationship for all of 2 seconds before they realised they have actual feelings for each other. When there is no build up to the relationship and it just happens out of nowhere it’s not believable.

 

Overall though this was much better than the first book, I especially liked it being set in Colorado instead of Chicago. That epilogue also wasn’t as cheesy, it actually made me laugh at the irony of the situation. I gave this 4 stars on Goodreads but it was actually more of a 3.5.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2016-07-20 11:00
Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles Review
Perfect Chemistry - Simone Elkeles

Goodreads Synopsis:  A fresh, urban twist on the classic tale of star-crossed lovers.

When Brittany Ellis walks into chemistry class on the first day of senior year, she has no clue that her carefully created 'perfect' life is about to unravel before her eyes. She's forced to be lab partners with Alex Fuentes, a gang member from the other side of town, and he is about to threaten everything she's worked so hard for: her flawless reputation, her relationship with her boyfriend, and the secret that her home life is anything but perfect.

Alex is a bad boy and he knows it. So when he makes a bet with his friends to lure Brittany into his life, he thinks nothing of it. But soon Alex realizes Brittany is a real person with real problems, and suddenly the bet he made in arrogance turns into something much more.

 

 

 

Review:

 

I was really excited to read this story as it had gotten great reviews and it had been on my tbr for forever. However, I was slightly disappointed.

 

We have your typical good girl and bad boy from the wrong side of the tracks story. These kind of stories are my guilty pleasure so this wasn’t the issue. I loved the start of the book and even the middle but by the end I wasn’t impressed.

 

I did like the aspect of Brittany’s home life not being sunshine and rainbows and how she didn’t fit in the typical rich girl category. Her mom seemed like a right b***h and at times I just wanted to shake her and tell her to grow up. I loved how Brittany took care of her sister and loved her more than anything. She would do anything to help her which was really admirable.

 

However, the structure of this book was all over the place. The author would skip to different scenes and different moments in time without warning. We would be in the middle of one scene and the next we’re jumping to two weeks later which was a bit confusing at times.

 

That epilogue was also the most cheesy ending I have ever read. I’m all for a happy ending but its okay to leave their future to our imagination.

 

I am now going to talk about certain things that happened so if you haven’t read the book then continue at your own risk :P

 

Okay so lets talk about this drug deal. At this point Brittany has told Alex that she loves him (bit soon but alright) and although he hasn’t told her we know he has feelings for her. She tries to convince him not to do it but of course he doesn’t listen to her. Then the minute she gets into her car and drives away he suddenly has a change of heart, where did that come from? She hadn’t broken up with him or said anything to him that would get him thinking so that decision came out of nowhere. This happened throughout the book where the main characters would just feel a completely different way out of the blue. For me this didn’t give the story much flow and was like the author would just switch their feelings so the story could go her way faster.

 

Up next we have the 5 month separation. Alex told Brittany he only slept with her for a bet (half true) and that he doesn’t have feelings for her (lies) so she obviously is upset by this. Alex then drops out of school and of course we skip to 5 months later where Brittany is still moping around heartbroken. I know she loved him but she hasn’t seen or talked to him in months and should at least be trying to move on at this point. This didn’t sit well with me as her life shouldn’t revolve around him.

 

Then we all of a sudden are another 5 months into the future and Brittany is off at college but Alex shows up to apologise to her and they get back together and live happily ever after….umm no. This was not at all realistic, Brittany wasn’t even angry at him for a second for breaking her heart and then ignoring her for 10 months! Instead she just took him back like nothing had happened. Again the author just wanting the happy ending without doing any of the work.

 

This book had a lot of potential and like I said I did enjoy aspects of the story but as a whole it just didn’t do it for me. I am going to read the next book as I’m hoping this series can be redeemed.

 

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