Book Review: Just Like the Movies

Book Review: Just Like the MoviesJust Like the Movies by Kelly Fiore
Release Date: July 2014
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing USA
Pages: 288
Source: Publisher

Pretty, popular Marijke Monti and over-achieving nerd-girl Lily Spencer have little in common—except that neither feels successful when it comes to love. Marijke can’t get her boyfriend to say “I love you” and Lily can’t get a boyfriend at all. When the girls end up at a late night showing of Titanic, sniffling along with the sinking ship, they realize that their love lives could—and should—be better. Which sparks an idea: Why can’t life be like a movie? Why can’t they create perfect romantic situations? Now they have a budding friendship and a plan—to act out grand gestures and get the guys of their dreams. It seems like fun at first, but reality turns out to be much more complicated, and they didn’t take into account that finding true love usually requires finding yourself first.

Just Like the Movies came at the right time for me. Drowning in committee graphic novels, I needed a light read with a bit of fluff; something that Just Like the Movies nailed perfectly. After all, what girl hasn’t dreamed at one time or another of having that perfect movie romance?

But let’s be honest, movies aren’t real, right? While Marijke and Lily think they have the perfect schemes to get them what they want, they soon realize that plans don’t always go according to plan. Big elaborate set-ups fail for simple reasons. Even when everything else seems to be just right, it can still fall apart. I applaud Fiore for showing how complicated and difficult relationships, no matter what age you are, can be. However, we all know that YA books are like the movies, and that Marijke and Lily get their happily-ever-after in the end. And, for the most part, I wouldn’t want it any other way. I adore those tied up nicely in a bow endings

But the question remains: is it a good thing that everyone got their fairytale ending? For Lily and Joe, absolutely. I adored every moment of this blooming relationship. They seemed to have a genuine connection once they started talking. It’s a little cheesy that Lily knows she’s in love with Joe without knowing anything about him, but that can be forgiven due to how realistic it is. How many times have we convinced ourselves that we’re head over heels for someone we’ve never said more than five words to or merely watched from afar? I loved that Lily wasn’t trying to be over the top and how honest and real Joe felt. While them becoming an item felt a bit sudden, I still cheered when it happened.

Marijke and Tommy, though? I cheered when I thought they were splitting up. I wanted to pat Marijke on the back when she finally started to put herself first. The whole book I felt like she tried way too hard, especially since Tommy felt a bit sleazy to me. He would always say the right thing, but his actions never backed it up. When your significant other tells you they need you/asks you to come over right away, you don’t go off and practice with the band; especially not after you said you would come. A healthy relationship means supporting each other emotionally. I never got that sense of support from Tommy. Time and time again he blew her off. It isn’t until she breaks up with him that he changes his tune, but even then I doubt his sincerity. The silver lining is that Marijke realized she couldn’t build her world around a boy. She started making decisions that were best for her and not their relationship. Perhaps this too will be okay, but honestly, I wish Marijke had made the decision to stay single. With her going away for college, it would have been perfectly acceptable and understandable.

There’s one more thing I’d like to talk about and that’s Marijke and Lily’s friendship. These two formed an unlikely friendship that I simply adored. What started off as a ploy to help each other developed into something meaningful. I wish Fiore had focused more on this relationship because it truly was the heart of the book. If the happily ever after would just have been that these two formed a lasting bond I would have been satisfied. Sure, the romantic stuff was a bonus, but it wasn’t as important as this friendship.

Final verdict: If you’re looking for a fast, cute romance this is it. It’s a perfect beach read that will leave a smile on your face.

Book Review: Low Red Moon

Book Review: Low Red MoonLow Red Moon by Ivy Devlin
Release Date: Sept 2010
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing USA
Pages: 192
Source: ALA

Avery Hood is now an orphan. Her parents were brutally murdered at their home; a murder that Avery witnessed. But all she can remember is flashes of silver moving inhumanly fast, and lots of blood. What exactly happened and who did it remains out of her grasp.

While nothing will ever be the same again, Avery tries to keep things semi-together by returning to school. A place where she is completely friendless--that is until Ben arrives. The new boy in town--one with a dark secret and one that she is utterly drawn to. But when she learns that Ben is a werewolf with inhuman silver eyes and no memory of the night her parents died, she doubts everything she knows about him. Could he be the mysterious killer they’re looking for? Or is it all just a case of odd coincidences? Avery holds the key to the truth...if she could just unlock her memories before time runs out

The Short of It: So, I kind of knew I’d love this one before even starting. The author has rarely let me down and definitely did not disappoint this time. The only thing I wish is that it has been a little longer.

Plot: I’m trying to be careful about the plot without ruining anything. As far as paranormals go, this was something I hadn’t really seen before. Okay, yes, werewolves are nothing new, but it was the additional elements that Devlin added in that I enjoyed. For example, the connection that Avery has to the forest? Kind of love it. And I can say that I kept switching my vote on who killed her parents. I will admit that I didn’t guess the right person, but I was so very close! There is still a lot of unanswered questions by the end of the book, especially about her grandma. I certainly hope that a sequel is in the works because I would love to see where the story leads.

Characters: Avery. I’m not sure what to really say about her. Her upbringing made her a bit different from any other YA character I’ve read before. I mean, after all, you don’t see too many main characters who have grown up secluded. Yes, I know they did go into town, but she didn’t have many friends. And being home-schooled just made her seem more isolated from her peers. However, she really acted like a normal teenager would. She was kind of down to earth and had her head on straight. And considering her parents were just murdered, that is saying quite a lot. I just wish she would have been a bit more cautious at certain times and had learned to trust the right people a little more.

Romance: This is the one spot I felt was a little weak. I would have liked to see a bit more relationship building when it came to Ben and Avery. I know that Devlin explains why they have an instant connection–especially Ben, but I would have liked to see more. I know I’m being kind of vague, but I don’t want to ruin the paranormal parts of their relationship. I will say that it has been done before, but I still enjoyed it nonetheless.

Writing: No complaints here. Devlin’s story kept me entertained throughout. I will say there were a couple of spots that I would have liked to be fleshed out more. I don’t mind being kept in the dark sometimes, and I get that’s where the mystery/suspense part comes in, but there were some parts I just wanted to know MORE. Again, I assume there is to be a sequel, but I really wish there had been just a little bit more answered in this book.

Librarian-Mode: This one will go easily with the paranormal lovers. It can be grouped easily with Shiver, Dark Divine, and the like. Although, I think those who like mystery/suspense will eat this one up as well, as long as they’re not totally turned off by paranormal.

So, now it’s your turn…have you read Low Red Moon? If so, be sure to let me know what you thought.

Book Review: Rules of Attraction

Book Review: Rules of AttractionRules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles
Series: Perfect Chemistry #2
Release Date: April 2010
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing USA
Pages: 326
Source: ALA

Carlos Fuentes wants nothing to do with his new life in Colorado with his brother, Alex. So what if he was in a gang in Mexico? He liked living life on the edge; safe and boring is not his style. Of course, being out of Mexico doesn't mean that trouble won't find him. When drugs are found in his school locker, he's faced with two options: jail time or living with Alex's former professor. Neither choice is particularly welcomed, but living with an all-American family has to be better than jail time, right? But when Carlos starts to fall for Kiara, the professor's daughter, he begins to learn how complicated life can be. Torn between the growing attraction and remaining at arm's length, Carlos will have to decide if Kiara is worth putting his heart on the line. She may not be his normal Latino hotty, but she may be exactly what Carlos needs. Will he be able to give up his bad-boy, gang lifestyle for her or will he let his perfect chance at happiness slip away?

The Short of It: There are some similarities between Rules of Attraction and Perfect Chemistry, but there are enough differences to make Rules of Attraction stand out on its own. Elkeles drew me into her world right away and I had a pretty hard time putting this one down. A sizzling romance with spunky characters, this book is one I easily recommend buying right now. And to be honest, while it’s being called a sequel, you could easily read this one without having read Perfect Chemistry.

Plot: So, the rich girl-poor boy theme is just a tad bit overplayed. We saw it Perfect Chemistry and now again in Rules of Attraction. Of course, the drugs and gang affiliation play a big role as well, but it’s more to put the story in motion than pivotal facts. Carlos has been sent to Colorado from Mexico to distance himself from his gang and the type of life his brother has worked so hard to keep him out of. And while Carlos joined to take care of his family, he doesn’t hate it like Alex did. His need to keep Kiara safe is the only thing that truly begins to change his mind. In between the fights, drugs, and gang threats, you’ll find a story of two teens falling for someone who seems wrong, but may just be the perfect match.

Characters: Carlos is, well, he’s your typical smart ass bad boy. I know a lot of girls love bad boys and I hope that Carlos will be added to their list. Yes, he has a bad attitude and doesn’t think he needs to play by the rules, but underneath it all he really isn’t a bad guy. A little rough around the edges, but he do anything for his family/those he loves. He tries to push people away by being a punk, but it is more of a defensive mechanism than truly being an ass; he thinks that if he can live his life in numbness then he’ll have nothing to worry about. There were several, several times I wanted to slap the boy because of his attitude, but I really did enjoy his character and he is easily one of my favorite “bad boys”.

Kiara, man, what can I say about her? I adored her. I loved how she wasn’t afraid to stand up to Carlos, even when he did intimidate her. (And the cookie prank, priceless!) Yes, she had some self-doubts/pity, but she proved time and again that she was able to hold her own and didn’t need a man to complete/protect her. She may look soft, but she really wasn’t. Her inner strength was one of my favorite things about her. I also liked how appearances didn’t really matter to her. I know she made comments that she wasn’t as pretty as Madison/other girls, but it really takes a certain level of self-confidence not to care about make-up or if her hair was falling. I think we need more characters like Kiara in novels; girls who are outside the “norm”, but still prove to be sexy just the way they are.

Romance: Hot, Hot, HOT. Overall, I really liked Carlos and Kiara’s relationship. There was a lot a bickering and hating on both sides to start from, but it more in the fashion of “I like you, but I shouldn’t, so I’m going to push you away”. They both had walls they had to break down in order to be with each other. I liked that even when they were trying to “hate” each other there was a lot of playfulness to them, like the cookie-locker incident was hilarious! Beyond one little spot where I felt the relationship skipped ahead really fast, I thought the romance was spot on. And the cover scene was totally my favorite scene of the whole book; it may have made me melt a little. (Did I mention I’m a big romantic sap at heart?)

Writing: I really enjoy Elkeles’ writing and story telling. I like that she does switching point-of-views in alternative chapters. It’s a nice way to see into both character’s heads. The only thing is I wish that we could have had more of Kiara’s POV. At times, it felt that Carlos’ chapters were much, much longer than Kiara’s. I realize that Carlos’ story is kind of what moves the plot along, but I would have loved to see just a bit more of Kiara, too.

Librarian-Mode: Of course those who liked Perfect Chemistry will enjoy the sequel. Other than that, I think this could easily be recommended to your chick-lit/romance readers. There is a bit of predictability to it, but isn’t that true of most romances? (I mean, the guy is usually going to get the girl, right?) I’ve been reviewing a lot of this type of book lately, so if you want more suggestions try doing a search for chick-lit.

Book Review: Princess Academy

Book Review: Princess AcademyPrincess Academy by Shannon Hale
Series: Princess Academy #1
Release Date: 2005
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing USA
Pages: 336

Mount Eskel is known for one thing; mining precious blocks of stone called Linder. Imagine everyone’s shock when the king’s priests name Mount Eskel as the home of the next princess. Surely, the lowlanders must be playing a joke on them. However, they soon find it is no joke as every eligible female is herded off to an academy to learn how to be a “proper princess”.

Miri is one of these girls. Thanks to her small statue her father has never allowed her to step inside the quarry. She has spent most of her life feeling like a burden…someone who can’t pull her own weight because of this decision. When the academy first starts, she fights against the harsh governess and her cruel tactics to keep them in line. But when a beautiful gown and first dance is promised to the head of the class, Miri finally sees her chance to make a difference. If the prince can just pick her, maybe, just maybe, she can help improve life on Mount Eskel. Of course, Miri never imagined that the stuff she would learn to be a princess could be used to reshape life at home, even without the prince. Soon, she finds herself torn between wanting to being chosen and reinventing her village. Will the prince discover that Miri is the one…if so, can she really leave the mountain that she loves so dearly?

So first off, don’t pick up this book late at night. Otherwise, you’ll end up reading until 2 am because you simply cannot put it down. Princess Academy has easily made its way to the top of my favorite list. While at first glance, it may not seem like a book for boy, I believe there is still enough action that they could like it. In fact, one of the reasons I liked the book so much is because there is a little of something for everyone; there’s action, romance, and intelligence. Hale does a nice job showing that women can be strong, no matter what there size may be. Not only does little Miri show this through intelligence but it can be seen in others through strength and wisdom. Although I was able to pick who would be chosen, I wasn’t able to guess the reasons why. It was a nice little twist and sock to the rigid rules that royalty can have. (Or I’m just a hopeless romantic and like seeing love win.)