Tag Archives: Simone Elkeles

Book Reviews
September 23, 2013 posted by Nichole

Wild Cards – Simone Elkeles

13065327After getting kicked out of boarding school, bad boy Derek Fitzpatrick has no choice but to live with his ditzy stepmother while his military dad is deployed. Things quickly go from bad to worse when he finds out she plans to move them back to her childhood home in Illinois. Derek’s counting the days before he can be on his own, and the last thing he needs is to get involved with someone else’s family drama.

Ashtyn Parker knows one thing for certain–people you care about leave without a backward glance. A football scholarship would finally give her the chance to leave. So she pours everything into winning a state championship, until her boyfriend and star quarterback betrays them all by joining their rival team. Ashtyn needs a new game plan, but it requires trusting Derek—someone she barely knows, someone born to break the rules. Is she willing to put her heart on the line to try and win it all?

 

Unlike a lot of contemporary fans, I haven’t read very much by Simone Elkeles. Long before I started my huge reading craze, I read one of her books. I think it was Perfect Chemistry. I remember that I liked it, but it was sooooo long ago. Everyone else was so excited for this book, and I knew that I had to read it just because of that. Unfortunately, I didn’t like this book. I didn’t even finish this book. I think I got about 100 pages into it, and then I was done. I skimmed the rest. I’m not going to be rating this book, but I’ll tell you guys what I didn’t like about it.

Wild Cards stars out really good. It’s a story about a football player, Ashtyn, who has just been made captain of her team. Her sister, who she hasn’t seen in about 8 years, has finally moved back home….and she brought along two additional packages: her 5-year-old son and her stepson, Derek. Ashtyn instantly feels a spark with Derek and fights it by treating him like he’s basically dirt under her foot. Then, Ashtyn’s boyfriend betrays her and the team by switching schools to be the captain of their rival team, and Ashtyn’s relationship with Derek begins to grow.

The beginning relationship between Ashtyn and Derek is both funny and cute. All the snide remarks topped by the sweet gestures every now and then were a great starter for what was to come. Derek, especially, was a great character! He was hot, smart (a smartass, really!), dedicated, loyal, and just sweet. He had a total bad boy act going on that many girls are going to love. If all of the characters had been like Derek, this book would have been a major hit. Unfortunately, Ashtyn was a whole other issue. She was whiney, annoying, bitchy, spoiled, and just an overall obnoxious character. I found myself  cringing every single time that she came on the page. She just wasn’t someone that I wanted to read about.

My major issue with this book was how choppy it was. It literally seemed like a group of people in an acting class rehearsing their lines. There were very short simple sentences, the characters didn’t seem to have the chemistry that I really wanted to see, and the supporting characters failed to impress me. It’s pretty choppy all throughout the book. I think the beginning might have been a bit better because that’s when Derek’s bad boy personality is at its peak. It starts dying down around page 60, though.

Overall, I wasn’t a fan of this book, and I will not be continuing this series. I would encourage contemporary fans to give it a shot, especially younger teens.

 

If you like this book, then try out:

Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles

Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

 

Pages: 288

Publication Date: September 24th, 2013

Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers

Source: ARC provided by publisher

Rating: N/A

Authors are Rockstars Blog Tour: Interview with Simone Elkeles
Author Interviews
August 27, 2012 posted by Nichole

Authors are Rockstars Blog Tour: Interview with Simone Elkeles

 

Simone Elkeles is the author of a whole host of great contemporary YA titles and we think she’s a super duper rockstar. There are many, many reasons to pick up a Simone Elkeles novel, but perhaps the reason we love her so completely is because she creates amazing characters that speak to our hearts. They’re broken, imperfect, and complex – just like real people in the real world. I challenge you to pick up the Perfect Chemistry series and not fall in love with the Fuentes brothers, as infuriating as they are. You’ll fail. I challenge you to pick up the Leaving Paradise series and not fall in love with Caleb and Maggie, as tortured and messed up as they are. You’ll fail. This is why we love her; this is why we can’t get enough. Her characters feel completely real, and their lives and stories are completely addictive. We’re proud to host her on our site during the Authors Are Rockstars tour, and we can’t wait to see what she comes out with next.

Q. We think authors are amazing. You are our rockstars. Do you have an author or authors that you look up to or are inspired or amazed by?

I adore David Levithan, Julia Quinn, Susan Elizabeth Phillips and so many others it’s hard to list them all. I totally go all fangirl when I meet authors I admire. I’ve always tried to be cool when I’m with David Levithan because I’m such a huge fan of his, but I think I end up acting like a complete dork and he’s always kind enough to pretend not to notice. I’m amazed by the intelligence and wit of John Green (his books and the man himself)– my fans are always telling me I should write a book with him. Oh, and I made a complete fool out of myself when I met Judy Blume – who couldn’t have been kinder or more generous with her time.

Q. What was your inspiration for becoming an author? Have you always wanted to write or is it a passion that developed later? And what was the first story you’ve ever written about?

Unlike most authors I know, I hated reading as a teen and hated English class. I got B’s and C’s in English class most of the time. I fell in love with reading as an adult – specifically romance novels. I was so in love with them, I started writing them. Once I started writing for “myself” and not a teacher or for a grade, I realized that I loved writing and never wanted to stop. Since I first fell in love with romance novels, my first book was a Native American historical romance novel. I tried to sell it, but didn’t have interest from agents or editors. It will probably live forever in a box under my bed where no one will see it! Or maybe not…you never know!

Q. You’ve written three contemporary series – Perfect Chemistry, Leaving Paradise and the How to Ruin series – which was your favorite to write? Which did you find to be the most challenging? And which characters did you make the greatest connection with?

I love all of my books even though some have been more challenging to write than others (I gained 30 pounds writing Chain Reaction, which is an indicator of how tough it was to write). You’re asking me to pick a favorite out of my children –which is close to impossible! But if I have to choose one, I would say that Perfect Chemistry was my favorite to write. I always believed that it was special and I call it the Book of My Heart!

Every book has presented different obstacles, but Leaving Paradise was probably the most challenging. I’m a person who tries to look at the brightest side of life, so it was hard for me to write Maggie’s character. Maggie eventually finds her strength, but it was hard for me to write all her weak moments.

I probably have the strongest connection with Amy from the How to Ruin series. I met my husband in Israel when I was 17 and we re-met and married when we were 26. Everywhere Amy goes in the books, I’ve been (yes, I even went kayaking down the Jordan river and shot an M16 in a “fun” summer military boot camp I signed up for to know what it was like to be an Israeli soldier!)

Plus, Amy totally has my attitude and sense of humor. I hate when people spit their olive pits on the plate right in front of me, just like Amy.

Q. Your characters are all very unique and different – definitely not mainstream. And they come from diverse backgrounds and are faced with some pretty big obstacles – your upcoming Fullriders series included. What is it about these types of characters that you enjoy writing about most? And what do you find most interesting about your characters in this new series?

The more I get to know my fans and the more stories I hear, the more I realize how many teens today are facing challenges that many adults wouldn’t be able to handle. For the sake of research, I’ve gone into gang territory with detectives from the Chicago Police Department. Some of the kids in gangs I interviewed have seen more violence, death, drug trafficking and crime than anyone should see in their lifetime. They live not knowing if they’ll survive another day, and some don’t even care. I’ve met really good kids who are stuck in bad situations. They want to get out and live a clean, gang-free life, but don’t know how or don’t think there’s another way to live. My heart goes out to those kids. That part of it is what makes me want to write the characters I write.

I love the brotherhood between guys, and the Fullriders series (which may or may not be renamed before the book comes out) will really showcase how friends can become your family. It’s also a romance, which I love to write. It wouldn’t be a Simone Elkeles book without a hot, steamy romance!

Q. The first book in the Fullriders series is slated for release in 2013. Is there anything more you can tell us about the series or characters? Were there any personal experiences you included in this new series? And what kind of research did you have to do for the story – do you have any interesting stories to tell?

I’m still in rewrites, so I can’t reveal too much because so much will change (I’m even thinking about changing the main character’s name!). I can tell you that the series will be about 4 high school football players and each book will focus about how one of them falls in love. I have always liked football and even wanted to play it when I was in high school. But don’t worry…you won’t have to know anything about football or even like football to enjoy the series. It’s going to be more about what goes on OFF the field!

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?”

Rules of Attraction: A Perfect Chemistry Novel – Simone Elkeles
Book Reviews
June 4, 2010 posted by Nikki

Rules of Attraction: A Perfect Chemistry Novel – Simone Elkeles

Carlos Fuentes doesn’t want any part of the life his older brother, Alex, has laid out for him in Boulder, Colorado. He wants to keep living on the edge, and carve his own path—just like Alex did. Unfortunately, his ties to a Mexican gang aren’t easy to break, and he soon finds himself being set up by a drug lord.

When Alex arranges for Carlos to live with his former professor and his family to keep him from being sent to jail, Carlos feels completely out of place. He’s even more thrown by his strong feelings for the professor’s daughter, Kiara, who is nothing like the girls he’s usually drawn to. But Carlos and Kiara soon discover that in matters of the heart, the rules of attraction overpower the social differences that conspire to keep them apart.

As the danger grows for Carlos, he’s shocked to discover that it’s this seemingly All-American family who can save him. But is he willing to endanger their safety for a chance at the kind of life he’s never even dreamed possible?

Carlos Fuentes is a lot like his older brother, Alex, used to be. He’s got the hot Mexican look working for him, the gang affiliations, and a whole lot of bad boy ‘tude to go with it. On first glance, Carlos looks a whole lot like you’re average trouble maker, and he does absolutely nothing to dispel such ideas, either. But then Carlos’ mother ships him off to America to live with his brother, hoping and praying that such a change will give Carlos a better chance in life, and everything Carlos knew to be true about himself comes crashing on down.

Alex is different now. He’s cleaned himself up and managed to pull right away from any gang affiliations that he was previously linked to. He’s dating Brittany and going to college. All in all, Alex is making a good, honest life for himself. As irrational as it sounds, Carlos feels betrayed by Alex and his attempts to step away from his familial roots. What Carlos can’t seem to understand, though, is that Alex made those changes for his family.

Not surprisingly, Carlos instantly gets mixed up with the wrong kids at school and lands himself in trouble with the law. Through circumstances that are beyond his control, Carlos winds up unable to live with Alex and – begrudgingly – ends up rooming with a teacher. It’s here, in this house, that Carlos develops an infatuation with his fellow classmate, and daughter of the professor, Kiara.

Kiara is everything Carlos isn’t. She’s plain, modest, and a good, wholesome teenager. She holds responsibility and academic achievement in his esteem, and abides by the natural order of right and wrong. Although she’s not a typical ‘leader’, Kiara knows who she is and is confident in her sense of self and character.

And she completely wipes Carlos off his feet. He knows its crazy. He could have any girl he wanted. Why her? His attraction to a plain, goody two shoes makes no sense to him at all and he does everything in his power to fight it. But if we’ve learned anything from Alex and Brittnay’s tale in Perfect Chemistry, we know that Fuentes boys can only deny the sound of their thumping hearts for so long.

Lucky for Carlos, Kiara is also seriously taken with Carlos. Although she’s completely surprised by her feelings for him, she processes the whole thing in a mature way. She accepts their differences and opens herself to the possibility that something could develop between them.

In true Fuentes fashion, though, Carlos lands himself in a whole lot of hot water. His gang affiliations catch up with him and Carlos is forced into a situation that he can’t say no to. His life, and the lives of those he loves, depends on his participation in a high risk, illegal activity.

You’ll never believe who swoops in and saves the day…

Although Rules of Attraction follows a similar formula to Perfect Chemistry, Carlos has enough personal differences to Alex to make this story unique enough. The relationship that develops between Carlos and Kiara is different to the relationship readers are exposed to in Perfect Chemistry.

Like everything Elkeles does, Rules of Attraction is an easily digested novel, and I read the whole thing in just a handful of hours. This novel has all the good stuff – romance, action, suspense, humor and good, colorful writing. As is everything she produces, this instalment from Elkeles was a joy to read. I can’t wait to see what she does next.

Rating:: ★★★★☆

Teaser Quote: “As long as you’re talking to Brittany,” I say as I bite off the end of an egg roll, “why don’t you ask for your huevos back.”