Thursday, December 29, 2011

Chain Reaction (Perfect Chemistry #3) by Simone Elkeles

Chain Reaction (Perfect Chemistry, #3)

The latest Perfect Chemistry book is told in the youngest Fuentes, Luis' point of view. Luis may have big plans to become an astronaut, but that doesn't mean he lacks that rebellious streak his older brothers have. He falls for Nikki, and is determined to make her his girlfriend. He is also drawn into the Latino Blood, who reveal a devastating secret to him. Nikki had been dating Marco for a year when he broke her heart, saying he was going to be involved in the LB. Nikki was heartbroken, especially since she was pregnant with Marco's baby. Ever since then, she hasn't let any guy get close to her and keeps her guard up. She's skeptical of love, until Luis.

Overall, I the plot and characters were enjoyable as always. There was just the right amount of romance mixed with action and family. I liked how all the previous characters are still involved in this book and how they've come along. I did like how the shower scene from the cover was Incorporated into the story, it was a nice surprise than what was expected.

The only thing I can say is that after reading this series I felt like I basically read the same story three times. Because that's basically what it was. Fuentes meets rich girl, they don't click right away, then eventually fall hopelessly in love. Throw in some gang violence and other various complications, and there you have it! A Perfect Chemistry story. I was excited to read that Nikki was Mexican because I was expecting a variation in the plot, but I was pretty wrong because you might as well put her in the same category as the other girls.

Something else I find amusing about the Fuentes is that they are so driven on breaking the stereotypes of Mexicans and gangs, yet they enforce those stereotypes. Like when they say things like "I'm a Fuentes, it's in our blood." or "violence is in my blood" "I have to fulfill my father's footsteps" bla bla bla. Anyway...

I thought Chain Reaction was pretty good, even though it's basically the same as the other books in the series. 4 out of 5 stars.

Where There's a Wolf, There's a Way (Monster High #3) by Lisi Harrison

Where There's a Wolf, There's a Way (Monster High, #3)

The newest edition of the Monster High series focuses on Clawdeen, as well as our usual narrators (Frankie and Melody). The monster documentary was released, but yet no faces were blurred. The RADs identities have been discovered and many of them are forced to leave town. This is basically the aftermath and what happens next, while developing some interesting relationships and putting twists into the plot line.

I liked the overall plot, yet I found it to be a little bit boring compared to the last two books. I liked Clawdeen's character and Melody's discovery. I also liked how Billy has become a regular and is growing more interesting. I have to say that he's my favorite character by far! I hope he'll get his own book at some point... The usual pop culture references were enjoyable and the writing is simple and fun.

I didn't find this one as good as the first two, but I'm still looking forward to reading the fourth book, where Lala gets her time in the spotlight. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Julius Caesar (Oxford School Shakespeare) by William Shakespeare

Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar is a play written by Shakespeare that tells of his murder and the events that follow. Contrary to what the title suggests, this play is not actually Julius Caesar. Instead, it is a story of revenge and human character.

Julius Caesar was required reading over the winter break. I thought it was an interesting story that helped me further understand history. At times, I liked the wording and such of Shakespeare, but at other times it was a bit confusing. The version I read from was Oxford School Shakespeare. I found it to be very helpful with many footnotes and pictures on the sides. The book I had also had helpful summaries in the beginning, so if I was unclear about the whole scene, I could read the summary. It also had a synopsis for each scene, so that also helped me as a reader understand more than I would have originally. I liked now the characters are really deep and you can't decide who you like better, Cassius or Brutus. The only other Shakespeare play I've read is Romeo and Juliet, and I have to say I prefer Romeo and Juliet. Not bad for required reading, but a bit confusing at times. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks

The Best of Me

Dawson Cole was born into the rebellious and dangerous Cole family in Oriental, North Carolina. But Dawson is different, unlike his family he didn’t want to be violent and get into trouble. One day in chemistry class, he meets Amanda.

Amanda Collier was born into a wealthy family and has big plans to graduate from Duke. When she meets Dawson, they fall in love despite their families differences.

When Amanda’ parents refuse to pay her tuition if she continues to see Dawson, Dawson makes a difficult decision in letting her go so she can pursue her dreams. Twenty-five years later, they are reunited with the death of Tuck, and older friend of theirs. They are forced to confront the realities that they live in, neither of them having the future they imagined.

This was my first Nicholas Sparks novel, and nobody warned me that it was going to be so sad! My god it broke my heart. Anyways…

I liked the whole basic plot of the story, it was interesting and nicely paced, though maybe a little slow at times. The story was entrancing and there were some surprisingly suspenseful action scenes. I liked how the author shifted between points of view and the different characters so you didn’t get too bored and you were able to understand everyone’s thinking. I liked all the characters, except maybe Abee and Ted, but even then I still understood their motives and everything. The romance was so real, and it makes me so sad to see how things didn’t work out for them. I also liked how Sparks kept the reader guessing, and even though I assumed mutiple times about things, I turned out to be wrong.

My only complaints were the author’s enter button seemed to have been broken for a while. And also how sad it was. The story could have gone either way, but instead it took a sad turn. :(

I was reading some other reviews, and I noticed that a lot of them said that the whole “Dawson seeing a spirit” was cheesy, but I liked it because it kinda put an ongoing mystery into the story, one which I did not see at all. Also, they complained about how predictable the story was. Maybe it’s just me and my hope for a happy ending, but I DID NOT see that coming. I had my suspicions set in a different area.

All in all, I loved this book no matter how sad it was. I liked how everything came together nicely in the end and how touching it all was. It’s being turned into a movie, and I’m interested in seeing how they will interpret it.

If you’re a fan of Nicholas Sparks or Jodi Picoult, then I would recommend this one. I loved it, even with the dramatic twists. 5 out of 5 stars.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Cold Kiss by Amy Garvey

Cold Kiss

Wren loved Danny. In fact, she still does. He was her everything, and she was his. One sunny day, he dies in a car crash. Wren is devastated, and decides that she must do anything she can to have him back. She’s always known she was special and possessed supernatural powers, so with the hope to have her boyfriend back, she performs a spell. When she opens her eyes, she finds Danny in front of her. At least, it’s sort-of Danny. He’s colder, paler, less human. Undead. She hides him away and is glad to have him back. Then Gabriel comes to town. He sees the power that’s inside Wren, and makes her see that what she did was wrong. With things getting worse with Danny, as well as her relationship with her friends and family, Wren discovers what it means to love and what it means to lose.

The plot was interesting and I liked the author’s take on zombies. In the beginning , I was very intrigued with the mystery and romance. I kinda was over it halfway through. I felt like this would have done better as a longer story, with more background to their relationship, and also the future. I don’t know if a second book is planned, but there were some unanswered questions at the end. It was also pretty anticlimactic. It was promising in the beginning, but it got less interesting as the story went on. Oh, and if you are planning on reading this novel, I suggest you read the summary of it so you get a basic idea of what’s going on. Because the author just throws you out there and explains it later, which can be a bit confusing.

The characters were iffy. I found myself relating to Wren in the way that she loved Danny a lot, and wanted to bring him back because she missed him so much. I loved the bits of the past that she described, because it helped me sympathize with her and understand how special their relationship was. However, she also bothered me because of her selfishness and ignorance to other people’s feelings, like her friends’ and family’s. And also to Gabriel. He had been nothing but nice to her, and basically it was like “Thankyou Gabriel I need you” to “Get away from me and stop helping” in the next second. She was just so afraid of loving him and decides to be mean to him, and every time he comes back. I didn’t find myself connecting with any of the other characters.

I know all I’ve been doing is criticizing this book, but I promise there were some good parts. Those are the parts where I really connected with Wren and her struggle, like when you see why she loved Danny so much. I also really liked the concept, and the conflicting feelings of grief, love, and loss.

The cover is gorgeous, and probably what interested me in the first place. Overall, this is an average paranormal romance for me. I liked the take on zombies, but this just wasn’t my cup of tea. I’m sure If I wanted to read a paranormal romance, I could find a more satisfying story. But this was just okay, not good and not bad. If wouldn’t recommend it, just because I think there’s better out there. If you want a good read about loss and love (not paranormal though) try Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler. 3 out of 5 stars for Cold Kiss.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Something Borrowed: Movie vs. Book

This post is a comparison of the movie Something Borrowed versus the book by Emily Griffin.

I found the book to be a million times better than the movie. In the movie, as a viewer you immediately side with Rachel and not at all with Darcy. Darcy is seen as a manipulative bitch and bad friend. In the book, the reader is truly torn between who is in the wrong. The book is more thought provoking and interesting, while the movie is straightforward. I think by reading it you get more out of the story and understand more. That way, you're not just watching a chick flick but thinking about your morals.

I really liked the casting that they did though, I think that Darcy was chosen perfectly. And Ethan I think? I liked him a lot too. The rest of the characters were easily likable too.

Another major difference between the book and the movie is that Rachel's friend (I think her name starts with a C or something... the one who dislikes Darcy and is supportive of her) is nonexistent. Her part of the supportive friend is replaced by Ethan, and it's a nice twist of the story. I actually enjoyed that difference More than the book. I think it flowed better and put some drama into the story.

The movie didn't get very good reviews, which I can understand. If you're interested in the movie, I would suggest reading the book at some point to truly understand the story.

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

The Scorpio Races

Every November, the capaill uisce return. The capaill are water horses, born from the sea. They resemble land horses, but stronger, faster, dangerous, wild, and carnivorous. When the horses come to the island of Thisby, the Scorpio Races take place. Men all over the island claim one of the deadly horses and announce they will race them. Then, the betting begins. This novel tells of two characters orphaned by the capaill uisce and their determination to win the race and prove themselves.
There is Sean Kendrick, the four-time winner of the races. He has a special bond with the horses and can understand and ride them like no other. He is said to have one foot in the sea, and the other on land.
And then there is Kate “Puck” Connoly. She is struggling to make ends meet for herself and two brothers. She has never paid attention to the races but when her older brother announces that he is going to leave the island, she is driven to win the races and her brother back. She is the first girl to ride in the races and not only that, but she’ll be racing with her land “pony” Dove, which is unheard of.
I loved this book! I usually don’t go for fantasy, but this was more like mythology and had the perfect blend of real and imagination. Stiefvater has a magical, lyrical way of writing. The way she describes things puts you under a spell and makes you want more. It’s also really graphic, and made me flinch a few times.
I adored Sean. He’s so simple and quiet and always has so much going on in his mind he doesn’t verbalize. And Puck, I loved her too. Even though she could be a tad annoying at time. The characters are all very realistic and relatable, as Stiefvater’s always are. I love the cover! It’s the same color as blood is when it dries, and there’s a lot of blood in the book so I thought that was pretty cool.
The only negative thing I have to say about this book is the occasionally slow plot. It’s pretty slow, but there are quite a few capturing moments, and those are what keep you interested. If you’re thinking about putting down this book, trust me and just keep reading. It’s worth it. Also, the romance. The sleeve of the book promises romance, and you’re like “This is coming from the author of Shiver. And the story is about a boy and a girl about the same age. They have to fall in love.” But it took so long! They didn’t even meet until like halfway through! So I think that the Scorpio Races is more about a different kind of love, such as family, animals, nature, and of your town.
I’m not a huge fan of horses, but honestly, it didn’t matter with the Scorpio Races. It was fantastic and breathtaking. And I loved it all the same. And the end? I ADORED it. And I loved how there was no epilogue, so it’s up to the reader to decide what comes next. Plus, all the suspense! It’s a race, and you grow to love Sam and Puck. You know they can’t both win, and everything all leads up to that final moment.
For those of you who are wondering how it compares to the Shiver series, it’s entirely different. If you are looking for that breathtaking romance that Sam and Grace had, you’re in the wrong place. However, The Scorpio Races is told in an alternating point-of-view like the Shiver books. Her style of writing is the same, but much more descriptive and wonderful. Please don’t crack this spine expecting romance like Shiver’s, it’s not happening. But open this book anyway, because it’s something else entirely magical. 5 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

Things Fall Apart

Things Fall Apart was required reading for my English class, therefore it was not a book that I chose to read of my free will. As required reading, I found it to be enjoyable and easy to follow. The writing was easy to interpret and I was able to relate to the characters. Reading this book on my own, I probably would have written it off as a pointless book. But after doing like a million “Guided Reading Questions” and participating in class discussions, as well as studying the Scramble to Africa in my World History class, I enjoyed it and appreciated the way that Achebe wrote so that I, as a Western reader, could get a more African point of view about this historical time, rather than the shallow “white man” view that we are often taught in school. This book literally opened my eyes and helped me destroy the stereotypes I had in my head, helped me become more culturally aware, and influenced me to think about different points of views when it comes to history lessons like this. Things Fall Apart probably isn’t a book I would recommend for pleasure reading, but as for classroom reading, it’s not all that bad. 3.5 of of 5 stars.