Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Review - Chain Reaction (Perfect Chemistry #3) by Simone Elkeles

Chain Reaction (Perfect Chemistry #3)
by Simone Elkeles

Summary: 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?

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Source: I borrowed a Kindle copy from my local library


No. Just.. No.

Like, the first two books were cute and kind of interesting if I just ignored the logistics and lack of depth. I still don't understand why people rave about this series like it's the best thing since sliced bread. Have any of them heard of K.A. Tucker? Colleen Hoover? Katie McGarry? Was this only all the rage before those authors were writing things?

I hate to sound harsh, especially after rating the first two books fairly at 4 stars. But I just could not do it anymore.

Book one deals with a gang member and a rich girl in Illinois. They both went to college in Colorado at the end, which was a nice change of pace. Because of the gang presence in their previous area, Alex arranged for his mom and brothers to move to Mexico when he moved to college. And then Carlos was dealing with some craziness in book two. So he moves to Colorado to be with his brother and get some good influence. Somehow, he also gets involved with a gang, but it's still like, not the way of life for that particular area.

Two brothers in the same family have been involved with gangs and have suffered the consequences of their choices and have tried to be better influences on their younger brothers. The only way for book three to even have had Luis be remotely involved in a gang is for him to literally not be on planet earth for his entire childhood and to be utterly unaffected by anything. Or, he's part of a family that doesn't ever talk about anything ever. I'm sorry, but Luis would have to be dumb and completely unaffected by his childhood, family, and surroundings for him to have chosen gang life. And even then, people join gangs because they are affected by their surroundings. We've already decided that Luis is completely blind to anything happening around him so what would make him join or even participate in gang activities? Family? Please. They obviously don't speak to each other about anything that matters. Loyalty? To what? He literally has no idea what color the sky is if he's that unaware of his surroundings.

I already watched two brothers cling to a gang in order to be loyal to themselves, their race, and their family. And I watched what happened, I watched them learn their lessons. I couldn't do it again. Luis was Alex if Alex was also given a million ways out and just didn't bother to pay attention.

Also, why on earth would this family ever move back to an area with gang problems when they lived in a nice area? And if they did, why would they move into the SAME HOUSE is same bad neighborhood. I'm not saying they should have moved to the rich side, but Illinois has to have "slightly ghetto, but still an upgrade" neighborhoods. Why would Alex ever go back to the town with the gang he was jumped out of? I'm pretty sure if you get jumped out of a gang, they still don't want to see your face and the active gang members are not allowed to talk to you and I know that from like handful of prison and gang documentaries.. So, it feels like a dump plot device to create the same situations as book one and two to give the reader the SAME story with different characters that are actually mostly the same.

I thought it would be good because the first two books dealt with unaware white girls who had no idea about anything Mexican or poor. Nikki was Mexican and she also knew about the poor side of the town since her dad was a doctor and operated on Alex (and probably a gazillion other gang members if they are so prominent). But Nikki was just like a Mexican version of the other two love interests in that she had no idea what it was like to have culture, be poor, understand Mexicans, or have a clue as to what is happening. It was disappointing enough to not have the author explore the culture divide and class divide in the first two, but to have a character ignore her heritage and the only real thing that showed it bothered her was when she screwed up homemade flan? Ugh.

Not only did Nikki and Luis irk me, but the OTHER brothers decided to be terrible, too. Alex moved his whole family to the town for no real reason and didn't tell his wife first. Carlos flirted with a girl IN FRONT OF his girlfriend and told the girl he was a bachelor?! Not only was I done with this book, it made me basically dislike everyone else.

If you enjoyed the first two books, but kind of thought they were far fetched, this book is like the icing on the cake. It's too much.

This review is harsh, I know. But it was agony to sit through the author regurgitating the formula of all of the other books. In the first two books, I thought perhaps the author just chose to keep things light and not delve into gang, race, or social issues. But the events of the third book show me that she didn't just want to keep things light, she just wanted to ignore the effects of all of the hard hitting things she inserted into her books and just keep using a formula that worked for her. The books have gangs in order to create a conflict, not because the author wanted to have characters who were affected by their situations or to say anything real about anything.

I don't recommend this book unless you just want a light romance that has cookie cutter characters. I expected too much by wanting anything deeper than that. #sorrynotsorry

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Monday, August 24, 2015

Review - Rules of Attraction (Perfect Chemistry #2) by Simone Elkeles

Rules of Attraction (Perfect Chemistry #2)
by Simone Elkeles

Summary: 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?

Source: I borrowed a kindle copy from my local library

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I liked Perfect Chemistry enough to be curious about the rest of the series. Since all of the books are available to download on Kindle from my local library and are quick and easy to read, I figured I might as well read them all.

For a light contemporary YA romance, Perfect Chemistry and Rules of Attraction are good books. They are full of conflict, emotions, and romance with all of the right lessons learned and changes made. I get why so many people have raved about this series.

I enjoyed Rules of Attraction and liked the characters. I liked getting to see Alex and Brittany from the first book and getting to see Alex's younger brother change his ways and grow as a person. However, I feel like it was pretty similar to the first book in the sense that the guy is in a gang and falls for a girl who has no idea what that might be like. There's something unbelievable about it all. It doesn't have the realness that I look for when I read contemporary romances and it was just too.. easy.

I know I'm being picky, but I think it's because I'm a huge Katie McGarry fan and she tackles the poor and mixed up youth in a way that is believable and real. She kind of digs underneath the exterior and shows us why they are the way they are and how they are awesome people, just like she exposes the richer characters and shows how their family life can be less than perfect.

In this series, I feel like Alex and Carlos are in their gang just to be a plot device and I don't sense the reasons why someone would join. I have no idea if the author has experience with gang members or mixed up youth, but I feel like the author must either be too far removed to truly express a person's motivations in a sympathetic light, or only vaguely educated about what gang life is like. Also, I feel like the author doesn't quite capture regular people, either. Everyone is a little too much of who they are supposed to be. The popular girl is shallow. The gay guy is funny and quirky. The tomboy girl is more complex that you'd expect. It's not like the characters are all cookie cutter, but none of them really... break their molds.

This is a YA romance I recommend to fans of light contemporary with a little fluff and a happy ending. If you're looking for something that captures the complexities of class and culture, it's not really the right series.

With that being said, of course I've downloaded the next book. The series is fun, cute, and I have no idea what else to read right now. And sometimes, books like these are the best medicine for times when you don't know what to read and want a story that makes you feel good.

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Sunday, August 23, 2015

Wreck This Journal - Pages 34-37: Dinner, Chew

Wreck this Journal
Pages 34-35
Document your dinner.
Rub, Smear, Splatter Your Food
Use This Page As A Napkin
I love some Chick-fil-A chicken. I destroyed my fry box to make this page, so it does have some fry grease on it. =)
"If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world." J.R.R. Tolkien
I drew a tiny waffle fry and Chick-fil-A sandwich. It's smaller than I meant it to be, but I didn't mess up! Also, I added the Eat Mor Chikin slogan and I made the 3's in the page number like the C in Chick-fil-A.
Pages 36-37
Chew on this.
Warning: Do Not Swallow
If you know me, I'm always chewing gum. Of course, I picked gum for this prompt. And yes, there are two pieces of chewed gum on this page. My husband said it was really gross. Oh well!
"Some books should be tasted, some devoured, but only a few should be chewed and digested thoroughly." Sir Francis Bacon

P.S. If you haven't had Sour Patch Kids gum.. it's AMAZING. I did NOT chew and glue a piece of that. It's way too good to waste, but the packaging worked well for this collage. 

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Saturday, August 22, 2015

Review - Perfect Chemistry (Perfect Chemistry #1) by Simone Elkeles

Perfect Chemistry (Perfect Chemistry #1)
by Simone Elkeles

Summary: 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.

In a passionate story about looking beneath the surface, Simone Elkeles breaks through the stereotypes and barriers that threaten to keep Brittany and Alex apart.

Source: I borrowed a kindle copy from my local library.

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People rave about this series, yet I've only ever read one book by the author and didn't enjoy it very much. When I saw this was available through my local library, I decided I'd give it a shot. I really enjoyed the book, despite my initial reservations. It's not the best YA contemporary romance I've read and I do prefer the way that Katie McGarry tackles the tough issues and "other side of the tracks" characters, but I felt like Perfect Chemistry was well done and better than I imagined it would be.

I didn't really like that the main character was in a gang. I'm all for poor meets rich romances, but I kind of lose all respect for people who actually join a gang. However, I grew to like Alex as a character and understood why he made some of the choices that he did. I would have preferred he just been in a certain lifestyle without actually being a part of a gang, but I guess I got over it once I got to know his character.

I liked Brittany and I enjoyed getting a glimpse of her stressful life. I liked that she was so good to her sister, who had some physical and mental disabilities, and I think dealing with that made her a better person than she appeared. However, I wish she didn't place so much effort on being perfect and I wish she spoke her mind more often. I liked that Alex was the spark that made her more herself.

The conflict was great and I'm glad I picked this up. I might have enjoyed it more had I not just read Take Me On by Katie McGarry that deals with a similar situation, but Perfect Chemistry was super addicting and I devoured it in less than a day, so I still highly recommend it if you like YA contemporary romance and I'm bumping up what might have been 3 stars to a 4 because I enjoyed it so much. The series is available through my library, so I'll definitely grab the sequel.

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Review - Rush (Breathless #1) by Maya Banks

Rush (Breathless #1)
by Maya Banks

Summary: Gabe, Jace, and Ash: three of the wealthiest, most powerful men in the country. They’re accustomed to getting anything they want. Anything at all. For Gabe, it’s making one particular fantasy come true with a woman who was forbidden fruit. Now she’s ripe for the picking...

When Gabe Hamilton saw Mia Crestwell walk into the ballroom for his hotel’s grand opening, he knew he was going to hell for what he had planned. After all, Mia is his best friend’s little sister. Except she’s not so little anymore. And Gabe has waited a long time to act on his desires.

Gabe has starred in Mia’s fantasies more than once, ever since she was a teenager with a huge crush on her brother’s best friend. So what if Gabe’s fourteen years older? Mia knows he’s way out of her league, but her attraction has only grown stronger with time. She’s an adult now, and there’s no reason not to act on her most secret desires.

As Gabe pulls her into his provocative world, she realizes there’s a lot she doesn’t know about him or how exacting his demands can be. Their relationship is intense and obsessive, but as they cross the line from secret sexual odyssey to something deeper, their affair runs the risk of being exposed—and vulnerable to a betrayal far more intimate than either expected.

Source: I borrowed a kindle copy from my local library

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I should just stop trying to read billionaire romances that everyone else loves. I get into a mood where I want to read romance with a bit of spice to it and I think that maybe I'll find of these I'll enjoy. And then I don't. I just need to stop trying.

There's something so cold and clinical about these types of situations and it loses all of the things I love about a good romance novel, where two people just click and can't avoid each other. The contract and the I'm-going-to-take-over-your-life-and-work thing just sucks all of the romance out of it for me. I mean, sure, I like the fact that the guy gets to take control and those things give him extra power, but I think it's a shitty plot device designed to create a situation in which the heroine wouldn't think to refuse and makes being bent over a desk by your boss seem more... reasonable? I don't know.

I think I just need to stick with regular people romance (as in no powerful and controlling billionaires) and paranormal romance (when a guy's need to take control can be part of his animal instincts and not just him being a rich jackass).

Rush was better than Fifty Shades because Mia wasn't annoying and she didn't refer to any inner goddess or bite her lip a thousand times. Also, I think it was better because, while the arrangement was crappy and not something I like, at least I could pretend like the characters knew what they wanted because they had a history of knowing each other and being in the same circles and weren't strangers. So, if you like these kinds of romances, it's better than Fifty. I prefer the Bared to You series over this one, though, because Mia didn't have quite as much spunk as that heroine and because Gabe was also older and I'm not really into the 15 year age gaps.

(Also, I think it's hilarious that people say the contract aspect makes it a rip off of Fifty Shades when Fifty Shades is freaking Twilight fan fiction in the first place, but that's another story).

Overall, it wasn't bad, if this sort of story if your thing. For me, these just don't work. The only one I ever really enjoyed was Fixed on You by Laurelin Paige, and even then I wonder if I did because I expected to hate it more. In any case, because I realize that I should just not be reading these books in the first place, I'm giving it 3 stars to be fair.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Wreck This Journal - Pages 30-33 Lines in Motion, Circles

Wreck This Journal
Pages 30-31
Draw lines while in motion. On the bus, on train, while walking
I drew lines with various markers and pens while walking and jumping and running through my house and yard. I'm sure my neighbors thought I was crazy. Better that than driving and wrecking my journal, right?! lol.
"Gravity is our playmate, momentum is our friend. We are blurs of motion. We are racing, and we are both winning, because we do not race each other. We race the world, and as fast as it rotates, as fast as it revolves, we are faster." Amy Zhang, Falling Into Place
It was hard to pick the right quote about lines or being in motion, but I really liked this one and it does have blurs of motion, which worked enough for me to use it.

Pages 32-33
Fill this page with circles
This is not a book quote. Instead, I picked a song quote that seemed perfect.
"Know that everything moves in circles." Incubus
I'd also like to mention that this page was really hard. It seems easy. It looks simple. But once you draw like 3 little circles, your hand literally doesn't want to make full circles and resorts to loops of cursive/squiggles. It's insanely difficult to force your hand to make tiny circles over and over again. And this page is FULL of circles. Each letter is comprised of tiny circles. I liked the way it turned out, but it's harder to read than I imagined it would be.

Have you decided to try Wreck This Journal?
Do you think it will inspire you to be more creative?

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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Review - The Dream Thief (Drakon #2) by Shana Abe
The Dream Thief (Drakon #2)
by Shana Abe

Summary: In the remote hills of northern England lives a powerful clan with a centuries-old secret. They are the drákon, shape-shifters who possess the ability to Turn—changing from human to smoke to dragon. And from the very stones of the earth, they hear hypnotic songs of beauty and wonder. But there is one stone they fear.

Buried deep within the bowels of the Carpathian Mountains lies the legendary dreaming diamond known as Draumr, the only gem with the power to enslave the drákon. Since childhood, Lady Amalia Langford, daughter of the clan's Alpha, has heard its haunting ballad but kept it secret, along with another rare Gift...Lia can hear the future, much in the way she hears the call of Draumr. And in that future, she realizes that the diamond—along with the fate of the drákon—rests in the hands of a human man, one who straddles two worlds.

Ruthlessly clever, Zane has risen through London's criminal underworld to become its ruler. Once a street urchin saved by Lia's mother, Zane is also privy to the secrets of the clan—and is the only human they trust to bring them Draumr. But he does nothing selflessly.

Zane's hunt for the gem takes him to Hungary, where he is shocked to encounter a bold, beautiful young noblewoman: Lia. She has broken every rule of the drákon to join him, driven by the urgent song of Draumr—and her visions of Zane. In one future, he is her ally. In another, her overlord. In both, he is her lover. Now, to protect her tribe, Lia must tie her fate to Zane's, to the one man capable of stealing her future—and destroying her heart.

Source: I purchased a kindle copy.

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Determined to avoid a book hangover after finishing A Court of Thorn and Roses by Sarah J Maas, I knew I had to venture into another genre and leave YA for a minute. What better way to avoid a book hangover than by reading the beautiful writing of Shana Abe, right? I absolutely adore her YA dragon series, but for some reason the next book is taking LITERALLY AGES to release, so I had to resort to her older historical adult dragon series, which is just as elegantly written. I read the first book, The Smoke Thief, ages ago, but I did purchase the sequel and it's just been kind of sitting on my Kindle waiting for me to be in the mood to read it.

I enjoyed The Dream Thief, probably more than the first novel because I preferred the point of view of Lia. The novels take place much further in the past than I prefer to typically read about. I don't think I'm quite sold on historical fiction, but I really enjoy Shana Abe's writing, so it makes up for the less than ideal time period.

The chemistry between Lia and Zane was awesome. He wasn't drakon, but he was a thief with a lifestyle ill suited for settling down. Not to mention the fact that diluting the drakon bloodlines was kind of not okay at all in Lia's village. However, it was clear that the two were fated to be together. Through Zane and her feelings for him, Lia was able to break open the lock and come into more drakon powers instead of continuing to be useless and not Gifted.

I still prefer Abe's YA series set in the 1900s, but the drakon legends are captivating and I did enjoy The Dream Thief quite a bit. I recommend it, especially if you love historical fiction mixed with paranormal romance. Shana Abe is an amazing author who has such a poetic way with words.

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