Tag Archives: Leaving Paradise

August 11, 2010 posted by Nikki

Return to Paradise Giveaway – Simone Elkeles

Did you read Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles? Can’t wait to get your hands on the sequel, Return to Paradise? Then you’re going to just love this…

That’s right, as part of our Book of the Month promotion for the very awesome Simone Elkeles and her new novel, Return to Paradise, we’re excited to be giving a bunch of them away.

We’ve got three signed copies of the book to giveaway, and folks, we’re opening this one up for worldwide participation.

All you have to do is leave your details in the fields below. Get cracking, folks – this book is definitely one that you wont want to miss!

The Nitty Gritty:

  • Simply fill out the form below with your name, email, and mailing address.  We randomly draw the winners using random.org.
  • Giveaway is open worldwide.
  • Ends on August 31, 2010.

Return To Paradise – Simone Elkeles
Book Reviews
August 2, 2010 posted by Nikki

Return To Paradise – Simone Elkeles

Caleb Becker left Paradise eight months ago, taking with him the secret he promised to take to his grave. If the truth got out, it would ruin everything.

Maggie Armstrong tried to be strong after Caleb broke her heart and disappeared. Somehow, she managed to move on. She’s determined to make a new life for herself.

But then Caleb and Maggie are forced together on a summer trip. They try ignoring their passion for each other, but buried feelings resurface. Caleb must face the truth about the night of Maggie’s accident, or the secret that destroyed their relationship will forever stand between them.

When Caleb left Paradise eight months ago, he thought he was doing the right thing. For himself, for Maggie, for his family. Paradise was full of bad memories, and trouble seemed to find him wherever he went. Turns out, trouble seems to find him no matter where he is. Caleb is one of those accidental bad boys – he does everything he can to keep his nose in line, but somehow, he always ends up in the middle of the most horrible situations.

That’s how he wound up on this stupid summer program. Although he wasn’t dealing, he ended up in the middle of a drug bust – a huge miscommunication that he couldn’t talk his way out of – and it was either back to juvenile hall (for yet another crime he didn’t commit) or attend this program for kids affected by drunk driving. Caleb chooses the program.

What he didn’t expect, though, was to come face to face with Maggie – his ex. He never really got over Maggie, and he thought that leaving Paradise would be the best thing for her, but standing in front of her now, actually looking into her eyes, Caleb realizes he let the one good thing that’s ever happened to him go. What a blustering idiot. But Caleb, being Caleb, doesn’t try and make things right with Maggie in the conventional way. He antagonizes her, constantly offends her, and insults her again and again and again. But that’s Caleb for you – emotionally stunted.

When Caleb shows up on the program, Maggie almost can’t believe her eyes. Where has he been for the last eight months? Why didn’t he call to say that he was safe? How could he have just left her like that? In the wake of Caleb’s departure, Maggie fell into a deep depression, but she made it through the other side and forced herself to move on. Move on from Caleb, move on from everything they shared together.

But standing in front of him right now … God, how could this be happening?

While Caleb and Maggie air their dirty laundry in front of their group members, they realize that they’re still very much in love. They’re hurting, and stumbling blindly through each day, but they still love each other. That should be all that really matters, but the big question is, how can they possibly make it, when the entire world is stacked against them?

I’ve said this before, and I’m sure I’ll say it many times again – Simone Elkeles rocks my yaReads socks off! I fell in love with Caleb in Leaving Paradise, but now I’m completely beyond help. I am a Caleb addict. He is, without a doubt, my favorite Elkeles character to date. He’s so messed up, so emotionally deficient, but at the same time, he knows exactly who he is, what his limitations are, and where his strengths lie.

During this novel, Maggie becomes a force to be reckoned with. She was meek, shy, and lacked any kind of confidence in Leaving Paradise. It’s clear she’s grown a whole lot since Caleb left, and she’s got her boxing gloves on, ready to go as many rounds as she needs to get the absolution and the closure that she so desperately wants. She’s strong, intelligent and utterly believable in everything she does. When it comes to the crunch, though, Maggie’s underlying essence is still there, and she follows her heart – even when she probably shouldn’t.

There’s only one thing you need to know about this book: it’s absolutely fabulous in every single way.

Simone Elkeles is fast becoming on my fave YA authors around.

Publication Date: August 2010

Pages: 285

Rating:: ★★★★★

Teaser Quote: I remember the times we spent together working at Mrs Reynolds house, when we fooled around in the gazebo and I ran my hands over her smooth, milky soft skin. “You knew I didn’t hurt you, but you let me go along thinking that you did. How could you?”

Leaving Paradise – Simone Elkeles
Book Reviews
May 1, 2010 posted by Nikki

Leaving Paradise – Simone Elkeles

Nothing has been the same since Caleb Becker left a party drunk, got behind the wheel, and hit Maggie Armstrong. Even after months of painful physical therapy, Maggie walks with a limp. Her social life is nil and a scholarship to study abroad—her chance to escape everyone and their pitying stares—has been canceled. After a year in juvenile jail, Caleb’s free . . . if freedom means endless nagging from a transition coach and the prying eyes of the entire town. Coming home should feel good, but his family and ex-girlfriend seem like strangers.

Caleb and Maggie are outsiders, pigeon-holed as “criminal” and “freak.” Then the truth emerges about what really happened the night of the accident and, once again, everything changes. It’s a bleak and tortuous journey for Caleb and Maggie, yet they end up finding comfort and strength from a surprising source: each other.

Caleb wishes that his parents would stop pretending that everything is fine. He just got out of juvenile hall, for Pete’s sake – everything is not fine. So when Caleb’s mom throws a little ‘welcome home’ party for Caleb and invites all her friends rather than his, he almost wishes he was back behind bars. On top of that, he’s having trouble getting back into school, his friends are treating him differently and his girlfriend wants to pick things up from where they left off, but she’s seeing someone new now. Just when Caleb thinks his life couldn’t possibly suck any more, he runs into Maggie.

The girl he hit with his car.

His sister’s ex-best friend.

His neighbor.

When he looks into her eyes, he’s confronted with a whole bunch of emotional baggage that he would rather not think about. He wants to apologize for ruining her life, but what would be the point? There is nothing he could say that could possibly fix what he did to her. He knows he should turn and walk away – after all, his probation forbids him from speaking to or contacting her – but he just can’t seem to get his legs to move.

When Maggie sees Caleb standing there only a few feet away from her, it hurts. It hurts more than she thought it would. He did this to her. Before the accident, she was an athlete. A good one, at that. Now she can barely walk. Her athletic scholarship has been revoked and she’s got no chance of getting out of this place. She turns to walk, to get as far away from him as possible, but she stumbles. He reaches for her, catches her. She recoils, of course, but it’s in this moment that both Maggie and Caleb’s lives are forever changed.

As always, Simone Elkeles does not disappoint. Leaving Paradise is raw, emotional, and anything but heart-warming, but it’s one of those ‘must read’ kind of novels. There are many things I love about Simone Elkeles: her writing style is free-flowing and effortless; her descriptions are bright and colorful and tantalize the imagination; but most of all, her characters are enigmatic and alive. I could be Maggie. You could be Caleb. Elkeles creates characters that are flawed and mirror real life, actual people. And that, dear yaReaders, is the thing that sets Simone Elkeles aside from many Young Adult authors today.

Leaving Paradise is so believable it reads like a memoir, rather than popular teen fiction.

Simone Elkeles – I heart you!

Rating: ★★★★★

Teaser Quote: Caleb crouches down, his face right in front of mine.

“You are not a loser. Hell, Maggie, you always knew what you wanted and went for it.”

I tell him the honest truth. “Not anymore. When you hit me, a part of me died.”