Patrick Ness on Shelf Awareness

Patrick Ness is one of my favorite fantasy authors. I've been anxiously awaiting his latest, A Monster Calls, and truly loved his entire Chaos Walking series (as did the critics - Monsters of Men won the 2011 Carnegie Medal - I mean, did you listen to his amazing acceptance speech?). Today Shelf Awareness featured this unique author on their Maximum Shelf page with an interview and lots of insights into his books. Some fabulous stuff is there. Go check it out. And then go read his books.

Chain Reaction by Simone Elkeles

I've said this before but it bears repeating: Simone Elkeles' Perfect Chemistry novels are pure bookcrack to me: fast-paced, tension-filled and utterly entertaining. I cannot begin to tell you how much I have been dying to get my hands on her latest book, Chain Reaction, which follows the youngest Fuentes brother, Luis. Especially since I was able to meet the hilarious Ms. Elkeles at the RT Book Fair last April. She mentioned then that she had set up Luis as a good boy who falls for a 'bad' girl - and I have been anxiously awaiting the story ever since.

As the youngest of three brothers Luis Fuentes knows what he wants in life: to someday work for NASA as an aerospace engineer. Which means he's got to work hard at school and stay far, far away from any kind of trouble like his two brothers got into. Luis is all set to see his dream come true when his mother decides to move back to Fairfield, Illinois which means Luis is now surrounded by memories of his past - and the Latino Blood gang. Also there to distract Luis is the prickly Nikki Cruz who, despite her Mexican heritage, wants absolutely nothing to do any guy from the south side of Fairfield - especially Luis.

Oh Luis! How I was hoping to fall for your story! Instead, I came away from Chain Reaction feeling as if the book had only been half-way written. Like I had ended up with the cliff notes version. It's almost as if in the midst of all the family secrets revealed, dangerous gang fights, and tying up of loose ends that Ms. Elkeles forgot to finish developing Nikki and Luis to their fullest potential. The story simply felt too stilted and predictable to be satisfying. Which doesn't make sense at all because Simone Elkeles proved with Perfect Chemistry and Rules of Attraction that she is genius at taking a formulaic story (bad boy meets good girl, sparks fly) and making it special. Neither of her two previous novels could ever be classified as campy or contrived, but that's the vibe I got from Chain Reaction.

For example (but without going into spoilery details) I have NO idea how Luis could ever think he needed to 'stick close' to the LB gang in order to 'protect' his family. Really? Doesn't he already have two prime examples in the form of his brothers Alex and Carlos on Why It's Always Smarter To Stay Away From Gangs? He's supposedly the smart Fuentes brother but all I saw was one stupid choice after another. And aside from one or two honest confessions, it seemed like the boy spouted lies continually - especially to Nikki, which frustrated me to no end. Numerous times she tries to explain to him that lies are a definite deal-breaker yet Luis continues to keep the truth from her. And in the end, it doesn't really matter to her! I suppose lust (since I never saw them develop any sort of real relationship) can make up for a lot of things. That's just one of my frustrations with Nikki and Luis as a couple.

Sadness. I wanted to love this book so much more than I did. I guess I'll just have to go and comfort myself with a much needed rereading of Perfect Chemistry.

series reading order:
Perfect Chemistry - my review
Rules of Attraction - my review
~ Chain Reaction

Because Everyone Likes a Second Opinion:
Books Complete Me review
Confessions of a Bookaholic review
The Irish Banana Review

book source: review copy from the publicist


So I'm busy trying to finish reading The Help in my spare moments (ha!) before seeing the movie with some friends tonight when these two lovlies showed up today.

My self control just isn't that good people.

Minimalist Fairy Tale Posters

The cleverness kills me.
Thanks to Julie for the heads up.

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier

Gwyneth always knew her family was holding onto generations worth of secrets but she never imagined she'd get a first-hand glimpse at them. It's her beautiful cousin Charlotte who has been prepped to become the next time traveller in the Shepherd family but instead it's Gwen who is suddenly disappearing from school into the 18th century without a clue of what to do. Enter the Guardians and her fellow time-traveler Gideon de Villiers (with eyes to die for ladies) who whisk Gwen off to a life of fabulous period dresses and mortal danger lurking in nearly every year she visits.

I really have no idea how a book in which so little happens could be so much fun. It must be the effortless inquisitiveness of Gwyneth and her best friend Leslie as they attempt to unravel the many, many mysteries of the new life Gwen has been throw into. Despite Gwen being completely unsure of her new role in all this time-travel business, she's not all 'boo hoo! poor me!' - she's actually excited to wear the clothes, see the sights, and get the answers to her questions! I just love me a proactive heroine. Plus Gwen and Leslie's friendship is plain awesome. Leslie is never jealous of Gwen's new 'talent,' frankly she's her biggest fan. And in turn Gwen doesn't forget about Leslie amidst all the drama of her new life. Leslie is still the first person to hear all about her crazy experiences. So very, very refreshing for a YA novel.

If that weren't enough, Ruby Red also offers up a centuries-old secret society (insert misogynist tendencies which I'm sure Gwen will only be too happy to break down), a fantastic Evil Mastermind who gives me the shivers, SECRETS, and the possibility of true love. That's a winning forumla right there my friends. It's no wonder Kerstin Gier's Ruby Red is a German bestseller, the plot is twisty and imaginative with plenty of intrigue and the characters are clever and entertaining. And I want the sequel, Sapphire Blue, like yesterday. Perhaps I could convince Gwen to let me use the famed chronograph to read the translation a bit earlier. I think in this case, she'd make an exception just for me.

series reading order:
~ Ruby Red
~ Sapphire Blue (Spring 2012)

Because Everyone Likes a Second Opinion:
Bookshelves of Doom review
Charlotte's Library review
Mostly Reading YA review
The Story Siren review

book source: provided by the publicist

The Family Fortune by Laurie Horowitz

Oh Jane Fortune! How do I love thee!!

Just so you know I did go into this retelling of Persuasion, my all time favorite Jane Austen novel, with a hefty does of wariness. I mean, nothing could come close to imitating the original on this one, right?

Here's a quick synopsis via Goodreads:
Jane Fortune's fortunes have taken a downturn. Thanks to the profligate habits of her father and older sister, the family's money has evaporated and Jane has to move out of the only home she's ever known: a stately brick town house on Boston's prestigious Beacon Hill. Thirty-eight and terminally single, Jane has never pursued idle pleasures like her sibling and father. Instead, she has devoted her time to running the Fortune Family Foundation, a revered philanthropic institution that has helped spark the careers of many a budding writer, including Max Wellman, Jane's first—and only—love.

Now Jane has lost her luster. Max, meanwhile, has become a bestselling novelist and a renowned literary lothario. But change is afoot. And in the process of saving her family and reigniting the flames of true love, Jane might just find herself becoming the woman she was always meant to be.
Truth be told, Laurie Horowitz did a fabulous job of updating my beloved Persuasion for the modern world in The Family Fortune. The Fortunes are decidedly Boston Old Money with connections and oodles of spare time to devote to their favorite pastime: themselves. Of course when financial disaster strikes, the family must retrench* and a whole new world is opened up for Jane. Morphing Anne Elliot into Jane Fortune, an almost-forty year old trustafarian who spends her days editing the Euphemia Review, was pure genius in my book. And once again my heart broke over and over for Jane as I watched the world pass her by. Truly I don't know how such a passive character could ever win me over, but she does. Perhaps it's her eventual determination to take control of her life little by little in order to carve out her own bit of happiness away from her rotten family.

My only complaint with The Family Fortune happens to be a somewhat large sticking point: Max Wellman (the reinvention of Cpt. Wentworth). Throughout most of the book, I ached with Jane as she silently pined for her lost love and then as she was 'reunited' with him only to watch him date other women. To say I was building up their eventual reunion would be a complete understatement -- I was expecting true fireworks people. Sadly, there was no grand moment of love rekindled. Not even an impassioned letter from Max! **cue extreme sobbing** Just simple, no nonsense decisions. Which does go along with Jane's character but I was just hoping for something a teeny bit more swoon-worthy. But honestly? I still love this book for Jane's transformation alone, even if her happily ever after wasn't as blissful as Anne Elliot's. I'm thinking any true lover of Persuasion will think so too.

*I always thought the 'reduced circumstances' bit in Persuasion was hilarious because yes, the Elliots have to retrench, but they still are gentry and have means -- albeit reduced. I mean, they are spending the winter in BATH (a resort town) for goodness sakes! Anyways, Horowitz does a nice job of calling Ms. Austen on this in The Family Fortune. 
"From what I hear, he is really crazy about you, Jane."
"That's ridiculous. Does he know about our 'reduced circumstances'?" I asked.
"Honey, the Fortunes in reduced circumstances live better than ninety-nine percent of the population -- but that's not it. He has money. He's not interested in your money."
HA! My thoughts exactly.

Because Everyone Likes a Second Opinion:
Book Harbinger review
Chachic's Book Nook review
Emily and Her Little Pink Notes review
Janicu's Book Blog review
Steph Su Reads review