Welcome to my Den of Delights! Please make yourselves comfortable.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Inspiration of the Moment - Step Outside the Box

"At the end of the day, it comes down to this:
The way we choose to see ourselves...it limits who we can be.
Step outside the box. And you might learn something.
Because we are more capable than we imagine.
Because we all have it in us to do the things we've never done before.
Because, sometimes, we can surprise even ourselves."
~ Erica from Being Erica

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

REVIEW: Chain Reaction (Perfect Chemistry #3) by Simone Elkeles


Muy caliente! HOT cover! To be released 24th May 2011 ...16th August 2011. Bring it!

I've had LUKE PASQUALINO in my mind as my Luis Fuentes ever since I saw him on UK Skins Seasons 3 and 4 (LOVED him as Freddie Mclair. *sighs*). And now, strangely, I think he kind of looks like the guy on the cover. Really looking forward to reading this! Loves me some Fuentes brothers! 


4.5 of 5 Stars

(This is an Adult-who-enjoys-reliving-the-stirrings-of-first-love-and-self-discovery-during-the-teen-years-through-YA books review)

**CONTENT WARNING - Since this is a YA book I will include a warning that this book contains some Sexual, Drug and Alcohol, Course Language and Violent Content - Recommended for Older Teens and Adults who enjoy YA books**

*sighs* Still loving ‘em Fuentes brothers! ^_^

I was totally drawn into this, read it quickly and really enjoyed it… but… Perfect Chemistry is still my favourite. What can I say, I ADORE Alex and Brittany!

Now, about Chain Reaction….In August 2010, in an interview for Return to Paradise, Simone Elkeles had this to say about the third “Perfect Chemistry series” book:
“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?”
Link to interview here

When I read this, I was interested to see Simone Elkeles turn around the “bad boy – good girl” formula of the first two books to a “good boy – bad girl” story in Chain Reaction. This is not what she ended up with, however.

While mostly everything else in the above blurb remained unchanged, Nikki is not the “bad girl” that Elkeles had originally planned on, and Luis certainly isn’t such a “good boy”. Please see the link below where Ms. Elkeles talks about why she changed this:  

Link to interview here

In Chain Reaction, Simone Elkeles gives us shades of gray in both Luis and Nikki instead, ie. ordinary teens who make some grave mistakes, that they can overcome and which need not direct/ruin the rest of their lives. I really liked that she did that!

Luis Fuentes, is considered the “good boy” in his family, but what the Fuentes family didn’t know, until Luis gets injured in a stupid stunt two weeks before Alex’s and Brittany’s wedding…pause for a SQUEE-SQUEEE!!! Uh-Huh…^_^...is that Luis is an adrenaline junkie.

So, it is Luis’own risk-taking nature that leads him to make some stupid decisions when he returns to Fairfield, Illinois, involving the Latino Blood (Alex and their father’s old gang). This misadventure leads to Luis to discovering some horrible truths that shake his very foundations, causing him to spiral out of control.

While I suspect some may think this book is too similar Perfect Chemistry, and may be dissatisfied, as a result, I felt that Elkeles was trying to portray that even for the so-called “good boy” of the family, he couldn’t run away from the legacy of the past of his family’s involvement in the Latino Blood. Also, for me, other aspects were different enough not to be an issue.

Of course, there were some parts when I was like, “What??? Luis, nooooooooo!!! Don’t be such a pendejo (idiot/dumbass)! Aaarggh!!!”

Yes, I clearly went on an emotional ride because of Luis. LOL

And Nikki…. Out of all the girls in this series, Nikki has the most “baggage,” from a painful life experience, which she suffers at the age of 15. I really connected with Nikki and felt for her. Nikki is feisty and vulnerable, at the same time. In order to protect herself, Nikki has built walls around herself and has severe trust issues with boys...and who could blame her? But Luis Fuentes makes her want to believe in a happily-ever-after, even though she fears trusting her heart to him.

Luis is just as sexy as his older brothers. I enjoyed the chemistry between Luis and Nikki and there were some very hot scenes between them. Hot Daaaammnn!! Although... it wasn't as strong as, definitely, Alex and Brittany, and perhaps, Carlos and Kiara...for me, anyway.

I loved that Luis wanted to reach for the stars, literally, and I loved the special gift that Nikki got for him. And his poem? *sighs* Luis is a romantic.

I loved Nikki's after school job and I adored "Granny"!

I loved how Luis was with Nikki's brother, Ben.  

I loved that while Nikki had been born in Mexico, she wasn’t in touch with her Mexican culture, and it was Luis who showed her the importance of not forgetting where you come from, to be proud of your culture, while not letting it confine you, either.

I enjoyed seeing Mrs Peterson, the “hard-ass-zero-tolerance” Chemistry teacher, again.

I really liked Nikki’s best friend, Kendall, and her boyfriend, Derek. But OMG, I seriously wanted to smack Nikki's ex, Marco, soooo many times!! Grrr!!! No love here for that total pendejo!!!

I loved the brotherly bonds between the Fuentes brothers!

I loved, LOVED seeing Alex and Brittany with little Paco, who we met briefly as a teen in the epilogue of Perfect Chemistry, and is an adorable toddler here. I loved seeing Carlos and Kiara, a few years down the track, and how Carlos can still be an idiot. LOL Thank you, Simone Elkeles, for giving us readers this continuity in the later books!  I love this aspect of the series!

Oh, and I loved the epilogue!!! I love seeing the snippet of the Fuentes family, many years down the track.

So... that's a whole lotta "love", huh? WHY was this a not-quite-5-Star read, for me, then? You mean, besides the times I was yelling at Luis? ^_^ Well, mamacitas, I still had some questions surrounding the shocker in this book. It just felt a bit unresolved and rushed, for me.

Also, I must say that I was a little disappointed that the shower scene on the cover, while was a cute scene, was not the hot scene I expected it to be. C’mon, Ms. Elkeles, how could you tease us like that?! LOL Though I never thought there were handcuffs involved; having always thought the chain in the picture was the shower pull.

And while I love the Mexican-Spanish words included in all the books, I do wish Simone Elkeles would have included a Glossary of those terms in the books so I wouldn't have had to google them.

I was actually debating giving this book 4 Stars, but seeing as I loved a lot about it, was so happy with the Alex and Brittany and Paco parts, and I'm re-reading it, soon after... well... I had to give it 4.5 Stars!

Being a huge Alex and Brittany fan, I just have to share this scene I loved:  
‘”I got Peterson for chemistry. Feel sorry for me?”

Brittany and my brother smile at each other.

“Definitely. She’s brutal,” Alex says. “Brit, didn’t she give us detention every day?”

“I’ve tried to block those days out.” Brittany cringes. “I really hated you back then, Alex.”

He slides the back of his hand slowly across her arm. “Come on, chica. You wanted me, but you were afraid to admit it.”

Brittany bites her bottom lip as she looks into my brother’s eyes. He cups her cheek in his hand and pulls her close, then kisses her.

I slide my nephew off my shoulders and shield his eyes. “Seriously, guys, aren’t you past the honeymoon stage by now? You’re on your second kid already.”

“I don’t want to get past this stage,” my brother says.

"Me neither," Brittany coos.'
*sighs* I love you, Alex, mi corazon!

If Ms. Elkeles does do any Fuentes next generation stories, I will certainly read them, what with how she’s completely whetted my appetite with the epilogues in this series! Though I hope she mixes up the formula. Keep the Fuentes swagger, but no more gang related stories, please. ^_^ 

Reading Order for the series:

1. Perfect Chemistry - Review here
2. Rules of Attraction - Review here
3. Chain Reaction 

My Luis (Luke Pasqualino) and My Nikki (Victoria Justice):