Tag Archives: Return to Paradise

Guest Reviewer: Simone Elkeles
Guest Reviews
September 6, 2010 posted by Ivy

Guest Reviewer: Simone Elkeles

Simone Elkeles is the author of Perfect Chemistry, Leaving Paradise, and our August Book of the Month: Return to paradise. She can be found at www.simoneelkeles.net.

Simone has agreed to review one of her latest YA reads The Duff by Kody Keplinger. Enjoy!

The Duff
A review by Simone Elkeles

How do you keep having these amazing hook-ups and then actually fall in love with the guy who’s somehow become your best friend after rudely calling you “the Duff” (designated ugly fat friend) to your face? Repeatedly.
It shouldn’t really be possible. Should it?

So when Bianca Piper, a seventeen-year-old cynic with a razor-sharp tongue, realizes that the person who knows, understands, and likes her the best is Wesley Rush, the school’s resident hottie who will do any girl so long as she has legs, it comes as a bit of a shock. A very unpleasant, unwelcome shock.

In this debut novel that I found incredibly hard to put down (forget feeding my family a healthy dinner the day I read this – did they even get dinner?), author Kody Keplinger deftly and believably transports the reader to the very real, seemingly average life of Bianca Piper, an unconventional heroine and modern American teen: her parents are separating, her gorgeous, thin friends are boy-crazy, and she thinks she’s The Duff. But it’s when Bianca realizes her own worth and that of her new best friend (and secret lover) that Keplinger’s The Duff is a YA book with real depth that’s definitely worth picking up.

A lot of girls in high school think they’re The Duff at some point in their lives; Keplinger’s debut , that I think she wrote when she was 17, celebrates the Duffs in all of us!

Author Interview with Simone Elkeles
Author Interviews
August 15, 2010 posted by Nikki

Author Interview with Simone Elkeles

As you all know, to celebrate the release of her new novel, Return to Paradise, we’re celebrating all things Simone Elkeles this month. Everyone here at yaReads has Elkeles Fever and were stoked when she sat down for an interview with us. If you’ve been following any of Simone’s stories, chances are you’re going to love this interview! Strap yourselves in, folks. This one is too awesome for words.

Return to Paradise gives readers a bit of closure. Is this it for Maggie and Caleb, or will we be treated to another novel?

The story is finished after Return to Paradise.  However, I want to tell my fans that they will feel much better about the ending I have in store for Maggie and Caleb this time!

I know what my favorite moment is, but I’m dying to know what your fave Caleb and Maggie moment in Return to Paradise is…

I would have to say when Maggie and Caleb are kissing in the lake.  Things really heat up and I think my fans are going to be surprised by what Maggie does next.  I’m just so proud of her!  She’s so much stronger than she was in Leaving Paradise.

Will we ever learn what Maggie and Caleb got up to during the year they spent apart?

I think the most important thing that happened while they were apart is that they learned what’s most important in life:  being with the ones you love.  I know many of my fans were upset with the ending of Leaving Paradise, but I didn’t think Maggie and Caleb were ready to be with each other yet.  However, after a year apart. . .

I’m curious to learn what happens to Leah next – will we ever find out?

Everyone has a lot of healing to do, but Leah more than anyone.  I think Leah has a rough road ahead of her, but I have no doubt that she will prevail.

Of all the characters you’ve created, Caleb is definitely my fave. Who is your fave?

I get asked that question a lot, but there’s no way to pick!  (It would be like having to choose my favorite out of my children.)  I love Caleb because he is so strong in most areas of his life, but he needs Maggie to be complete.  I love Maggie for the way she forgives Caleb and Leah even though she’ll have scars forever.  Of course, I love Alex and Carlos for pushing the envelope, but still being very caring.  I respect Brittany and Kiara for not giving up on the guys they love, even when the boys make things very challenging!  See what I mean?  I could never pick!

Of all the characters you’ve created, which did you find the most challenging to write, and why?

All of my characters were challenging in different ways.  I had to do quite a bit of research to write about Alex and Carlos and their gang affiliations as well as Hispanic culture.  I talked to kids in Juvenile Detention facilities, met with police officers who work in tough neighborhoods, and even went on a “ride-along” and got to wear a bullet-proof vest!

You seem to have quite an affiliation with bad boys being reformed by good, wholesome girls. Why is that?

I love bad boys.  They’re my weakness.  Find me a hot and sexy bad boy and I melt.  I think it’s my “female gene” that makes me want to fix those bad boys.  If I can fix a bad boy, I can fix anything! (females are natural people-fixers, in my opinion)  Alex and Carlos and Caleb are a mixture of a bunch of boys I know or did know throughout my life… I’m totally sarcastic and “get” guys like that.  And just like behind a good man you’ll find a good woman, behind most bad boys you’ll find a good heart.  (Not all bad boys are redeemable in real life, but I write fiction and my bad boys are ‘curable!’)

How do you go about choosing your character’s names?

I get asked that question all the time.  Listen, if you were obnoxious in high school your name is somehow connected to the rude girls in my books, ha ha.  My friends laugh when I say to beware of pissing me off because you just might find yourself in one of my books (although Darlene was a great friend of mine in school and she’s the mean girl in Perfect Chemistry and Madison is the daughter of my best friend and the mean girl in Rules of Attraction). I’m a girl scout leader, so I use a lot of my girls’ names in my books.  I use last names of people I know most of the time or I make them up.  I will also go to baby name websites and find names that I like.  Sometimes I even use names from my fan mail.  My fans have some very cool names!

What’s in your TBR pile at the moment?

My “to read” pile is enormous because I can’t remember the last time I felt like I had enough time to read!  But, I definitely want to make time to read Mockingjay when it comes out.  I loved The Hunger Games!

For you, what are the best and worse things about being a writer?

There are so many things I love about being a writer!  I love the satisfying feeling of writing “The End” when I finish a book.  I love my RITA award I just won at the Romance Writers of America conference!  (seriously, she’s so pretty. . . I can’t stop looking at her!)  But, most of all, I LOVE MY FANS!  The wonderful comments I get on my Facebook, myspace, and twitter really keep me going when I’m feeling down or frustrated.

Can you tell us what you’re working on next?

I’m currently working on Chain Reaction, the third book in the Perfect Chemistry series.  This one is about Luis, the youngest Fuentes brother.  He’s such a good guy who doesn’t live with the angst that his big brothers have always lived with.  Luis is smart, funny, and has big dreams.  When he falls for the wrong girl, Luis enters a dark world he’s never known to try and save her from herself.  Just when he thinks he’s got life all figured out, Luis 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?

Contests
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?”