Dec
10

Title: Chain Reaction (Perfect Chemistry #3)
Author: Simone Elkeles
Published: August, 2011 by Simon & Schuster
Pages: 308
My Rating: ★★★☆☆ 
Purchase: The Book Depository

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?

Final Thoughts:
The spark seemed to have left with this one. It wasn’t boring, but it just felt like more of the same. I didn’t get all that invested with these characters as much as I did with Alex and Brittany or Carlos and Kiara. They just didn’t seem well rounded this time. Aside from the pregnancy scare, Nikki didn’t have much else going on in her life, and for Luis, it all led back to the gang stuff for him. I still enjoyed Chain Reaction, but found it much harder to find time to read it. I just didn’t have that pull making me want to pick it up.

Nov
22

Title: Openly Straight (Openly Straight #1)
Author: Bill Konigsberg
Published: May, 2013 by Arthur A. Levine Books
Pages: 320
My Rating: ★★★★★ 
Purchase: The Book Depository

Rafe is a normal teenager from Boulder, Colorado. He plays soccer. He’s won skiing prizes. He likes to write.

And, oh yeah, he’s gay. He’s been out since 8th grade, and he isn’t teased, and he goes to other high schools and talks about tolerance and stuff. And while that’s important, all Rafe really wants is to just be a regular guy. Not that GAY guy. To have it be a part of who he is, but not the headline, every single time.

So when he transfers to an all-boys’ boarding school in New England, he decides to keep his sexuality a secret — not so much going back in the closet as starting over with a clean slate. But then he sees a classmate break down. He meets a teacher who challenges him to write his story. And most of all, he falls in love with Ben . . . who doesn’t even know that love is possible.

This witty, smart, coming-out-again story will appeal to gay and straight kids alike as they watch Rafe navigate feeling different, fitting in, and what it means to be himself.

Final Thoughts:
Stumbling through the first chapter, I worried I wouldn’t be able to get into yet another boarding school story. I was wrong. I could barely put it down. Opening Straight had me fidgeting back and forth, trying to find a comfortable position to read in bed, long past midnight. The premise of going back into the closet, or even just trying to change people’s perception of you, was one quite easy to connect with. While the main character, Rafe’s, being gay (and hiding it) was a big part of the story, it wasn’t that big of a leap to extrapolate his situation into pretty much anyone having moved and wanting to reinvent themselves.

Nov
05

Title: Rules Of Attraction (Perfect Chemistry #2)
Author: Simone Elkeles
Published: April, 2010 by Simon & Schuster
Pages: 326
My Rating: ★★★★☆ 
Purchase: The Book Depository

Carlos Fuentes isn’t happy about leaving Mexico to start the “new” life his older Brother, Alex, has planned for him. Carlos like his freedom; living life on the edge and carving out his own path – just like Alex did.

Kiara Westford doesn’t talk much; preferring instead to shut the world out. And when Carlos bounds into her life she struggles to understand him and his wild ways. Carlos is sure that Kiara thinks she’s too good for him, which is just fine because he’s not interested anyway, right? But when they finally open up to each other, the connection they feel shocks them both. Can they overcome their fears and realize that sometimes opposites really do attract?

Final Thoughts:
Much like Perfect Chemistry, I couldn’t get enough of this one. Rules of Engagement is so similar in tone, but does so without feeling like a rehash of the first book. A couple of years have passed, and now we’re focusing on Alex’s younger brother, Carlos and his love interest, Kiara. I think I found these two even more enjoyable than Brittany and Alex (who make plenty of cameos)—there’s less gang stuff this time around and more of a focus on the romance and snark.

Oct
21

Title: Onyx (Lux #2)
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Published: June, 2012 by Entangled Publishing
Pages: 366
My Rating: ★★★★☆ 
Purchase: The Book Depository

Being connected to Daemon Black sucks…

Thanks to his alien mojo, Daemon’s determined to prove what he feels for me is more than a product of our bizarro connection. So I’ve sworn him off, even though he’s running more hot than cold these days. But we’ve got bigger problems.

Something worse than the Arum has come to town…

The Department of Defense are here. If they ever find out what Daemon can do and that we’re linked, I’m a goner. So is he. And there’s this new boy in school who’s got a secret of his own. He knows what’s happened to me and he can help, but to do so, I have to lie to Daemon and stay away from him. Like that’s possible. Against all common sense, I’m falling for Daemon. Hard.

But then everything changes…

I’ve seen someone who shouldn’t be alive. And I have to tell Daemon, even though I know he’s never going to stop searching until he gets the truth. What happened to his brother? Who betrayed him? And what does the DOD want from them—from me?

No one is who they seem. And not everyone will survive the lies…

Final Thoughts:
Having taken a four-and-a-half-year gap between Obsidian and Onyx, I went into this a little worried, but having just closed the book, I don’t think that hindered my enjoyment of this one. While it did take me a little longer to get back into the sexy alien mindset, once I got there, I was back! It did take me around 10 days of lunchbreak reading to finish this one, but it was by no means a bore. I found the Katy and Daemon angst brought a grin to my face, especially adding in all of the alien/government drama. It brings back memories of Roswell, yet managing to do its own thing. I have no doubt I’ll be continuing this series, with the rest of the books on their way to me now.

Oct
09

Title: All Wrapped Up (Geek Girl #1.5)
Author: Holly Smale
Published: November, 2015 by HarperCollins
Pages: 220
My Rating: ★★★☆☆ 
Purchase: The Book Depository

Harriet Manners knows a lot about Christmas.

She knows that every year Santa climbs down 91.8 million chimneys.

She knows that Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer was almost definitely a girl.

She knows that the first artificial Christmas trees were made out of goose feathers.

But this Christmas is extra special for Harriet, because four days ago she had her First Ever Kiss.

Now she just needs to work out what’s supposed to happen next…

Final Thoughts:
Harriet is addicted to Christmas—that’s pretty much what this novella tells you from the get go. There’s even a gift receiver’s checklist included for rating Harriet’s Christmas gifting prowess. I’d missed that kind of wackiness as it seems to have dissipated in the later books. Still, it was weird stepping back in time, trying to remember where everybody was at. Set earlier in the series, Harriet is enthralled with her Aussie model boyfriend, Nick, waiting to hear from him about their first date. If you ship Nick/Harriet, you will eat this up. I’m not their biggest supporter, but even I enjoyed this.

Oct
04

Title: Perfect Chemistry (Perfect Chemistry #1)
Author: Simone Elkeles
Published: December, 2008 by Simon & Schuster
Pages: 368
My Rating: ★★★★½ 
Purchase: The Book Depository

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.

Final Thoughts:
It may have taken me five years to get around to this long-standing resident on my bookshelf, but time hasn’t diminished it. Even with the characters’ use of flip phones, I never found it dated. Brittany and Alex simply took hold of the story and drew me right into their complicated high school and home lives. With alternating perspectives, each are quite distinct, never confusing you as to whose head you’re in—Alex, the gang member, putting up a front to keep his family safe, and Brittany, the head cheerleader, putting up her own front to appease her parents, help with her disabled sister, and make their lives easier.

Sep
20

Title: Head Over Heels (Geek Girl #5)
Author: Holly Smale
Published: March, 2016 by HarperCollins Children’s Books
Pages: 451
My Rating: ★★★½☆ 
Purchase: The Book Depository

Harriet Manners knows many facts:

Fourteen squirrels were once detained as spies.
Snakes and Ladders and Chess were both invented in the same county.
Astronauts’ hearts become rounder in space.

And for once, she knows exactly how her life should go. If only everyone else would stick to the plan…

Final Thoughts:
It’s always fun coming back to this series and the familiarity of it. There’s always some sort of drama going on, but it manages to maintain its underlying feel good vibe. It’s about modelling, but it’s not. The characters are what shine through here—and Harriet’s personality certainly does. I don’t think I could stomach Harriet in real life, but she’s amusing to read. Not always as smart as she thinks she is, Harriet can grate on your nerves with how clueless she can be. I had moments where I wanted to tell her what was going on, to think of others, but her big personality pushes through and tells the reader not to worry about things like that.