Monday 31 October 2011

October in Review

October 31. It marks Halloween for Americans, but for us Aussies? It's the last day we have to do our tax. Fun times. I know what I'd rather be doing right now... Anyhoo, October 31 also means another month is over! While it makes me incredibly anxious to see the year slipping away so quickly, I'm happy to report I had a pretty awesome reading month.

I read and reviewed...
Reading icons I admired...
I wanted to buy... 
I listed...
How was your October?

Mag Monday: Oh Haaaaay, Harry Shum Jr

Holy abs, Batman! I'm loving Harry Shum Jr showing off for GQ. The boy's got mooooves.

Sunday 30 October 2011

Review: Chain Reaction by Simone Elkeles

Chain Reaction is the final installment in Simone Elkeles' Perfect Chemistry series. After following the exploits of his two older brothers, this book focuses on Luis, who we first met in Perfect Chemistry when he was 11. At first I didn't think I'd be that interested in Luis because, well, he was a kid like, five minutes ago, and that is so not hot. But he's all grown up in Chain Reaction and, like his brothers before him, he is smokin'. But unlike Carlos and Alex, he's a good boy on the outside as well as the inside. As the book opens, the closest Luis ever gets to danger is rock climbing and the other extreme sports that give him the adrenaline hit he craves. That is, until his mother decides to up and move him back to Fairfield.

Yeah, that's right, the woman chooses the town where her husband was murdered and her eldest son was nearly killed as the ideal place to move to, with her 17-year-old son in tow.

OK, OK, so the Latino Blood have supposedly fallen apart and the cops have literally moved in to the neighbourhood, but seriously?! It doesn't take long for the shit to hit the fan. This mother fails at, well, being a mother. She made me So. Freaking. Mad. And her excuse for moving back to Fairfield? She wants to be closer to her grandchildren (that'd be Alex and Brittany's kids - but that's a whole 'nother rant), coz she cares about them... apparently more than the safety of her teenage son. Her actions are even less excusable when a family secret connected to Fairfield is revealed later in the book. Argh!

But enough of my ranting. At least on the topic of Mama Fuentes, anyway. Because I do have another one to get out of the way, as I alluded to above. That is... WTF happened to Alex and Brittany in this book?! It opens with their wedding, something you'd think would be a lovely, romantic, emotional event, given everything they've been through and how much they love each other... and it's a freaking circus. Mainly because Alex decided that they'd be living in Fairfield again after the wedding, because he's been accepted into graduate school there and Shelley is being moved to a facility nearby. None of which he's told Brittany about, let alone consulted her on. She finds out at the altar because Luis objects, refusing to let Alex start his marriage on lies.

10 points to Luis. Minus eleventy-billion for Alex. He didn't even feel like the same character at that point. What makes the whole thing worse is that it makes zero sense - surely he and Brittany had discussed their future plans?! And what about her graduate school? I'm assuming she furthers her education as well, because apparently together they're a hot-shot team who discover a miracle cure, if the Perfect Chemistry epilogue is anything to go by. Then again, according to an interview with Elkeles, Brittany pops out six kids in quick succession, so maybe she's too busy for a career, or anything else - an issue that's unfortunately not touched upon in the books. Then there's the curious fact that Alex knows that Shelley is being transferred, but Brittany doesn't - Alex, who Brittany's parents think so little of, they don't even show up to their wedding. Yeah, that makes total sense.

Obviously, I had a few issues with this book. But now that I've gotten them out of my system (are you still with me? Thank you kindly for your patience), I will say that, believe it or not, I did enjoy Chain Reaction. Luis is quite lovely, and takes after Alex, which was definitely attractive. I also liked Nikki, the girl he's drawn to, though I found her a little hard to connect with. But this was part of her character - due to certain painful events in her past, she puts up a wall between herself and everyone around her. So, while I couldn't exactly get under her skin, I could understand where she was coming from and sympathise with her.

Still, I have to say, I was a little disappointed that, seeing as Luis was supposed to be the "good" Fuentes brother, the tables weren't turned in this book and it wasn't the girl who was the "bad" one in the relationship, as I'd kinda been hoping. Alas, Nikki is still the good girl from the right side of the tracks, and poor Luis is forced to retrace the destructive path his family had trod before him. That said, I was glad to see Chain Reaction did have a different tone to its predecessors, and even the narrative pace was altered from the one that was set in both Perfect Chemistry and Rules of Attraction. It was also nice - aside from the crapness that was the wedding - to see Alex and Brittany and Carlos and Kiara again, all loved up and happy. So, even with a few hiccups, Chain Reaction was a great end to an addictive series. Though my ranting might have you believe otherwise, I came away pretty damn satisfied.

Rating: 2.5/5

Eye Candy
I pictured Diego Boneta as Luis and Selena Gomez as Nikki.

Fine Print
Genre: Young Adult
Published: 2011
Publisher: Walker Books

Saturday 29 October 2011

On My Wishlist: A Helluva Lot!

On My Wishlist, hosted by Book Chick City, is a weekly meme that keeps track of the books we want! I'm currently on a self-imposed book buying ban, so my wishlist is growing at a faster rate than ever...

Summary: Helen is a disembodied spirit who "attaches" herself to humans in order to possess their bodies. Unable to remember the circumstances of her death, and with no idea why she's in this precarious state of limbo, she knows this much: she's been haunting the living world for 130 years. But when Helen inhabits the body of a high school teacher, everything changes. For though he remains quite unaware of her presence, a certain boy in his class is clearly able to see Helen. This realization, and Helen's subsequent introduction to him, rocks her world.
Reviewer that made me want it: Missie at The Unread Reader, via My Book Boyfriend

Summary: Belly measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer--they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer, one terrible and wonderful summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along.
Reviewer that made me want it: Abbey at Abbey's Bookshelf, via My Book Boyfriend

Summary: For fifteen years, Amber, Drew, and Trevor have barely been able to recall—let alone explain—what happened the terrifying night they decided to explore the old, abandoned Lowry House. According to local legend, the house was cursed by a dark past and inhabited by evil. It burst into flames on the night of their visit, leaving the friends traumatized and nearly dead with only vague memories of the frightening events they had witnessed inside. Now, on the eve of their high school reunion, they have gathered to reopen their investigation and figure out, once and for all, what took place that fateful night . . . before the supernatural entity they escaped threatens to overtake them again.
Reviewer that made me want it: Melissa at Books and Things

Summary: Hartley Grace Featherstone is having a very bad day. First she finds out that her boyfriend is cheating on her with the president of the Herbert Hoover High School Chastity Club. Then he's pegged as the #1 suspect in a murder. And if that weren't enough, now he's depending on Hartley to clear his name. Seriously? Not cool.

But as much as Hartley wouldn't mind seeing him squirm, she knows he's innocent, and she's the only one who can help him. Along with her best friend, Sam, and the school's resident Bad Boy, Chase, Hartley starts investigating on her own. But as the dead bodies begin to pile up, the mystery deepens, the suspects multiply, and Hartley begins to fear that she may be the killer's next victim.

Reviewer that made me want it: Lesley at My Keeper Shelf, via My Book Boyfriend

Summary: When a strange boy tumbles down a river embankment and lands at her feet, seventeen-year-old adrenaline junkie Deznee Cross snatches the opportunity to piss off her father by bringing the mysterious hottie with ice blue eyes home.

Except there's something off with Kale. He wears her shoes in the shower, is overly fascinated with things like DVDs and vases, and acts like she'll turn to dust if he touches her. It's not until Dez's father shows up, wielding a gun and knowing more about Kale than he should, that Dez realizes there's more to this boy--and her father's "law firm"--than she realized.

Kale has been a prisoner of Denazen Corporation--an organization devoted to collecting "special" kids known as Sixes and using them as weapons--his entire life. And, oh yeah, his touch? It kills. The two team up with a group of rogue Sixes hellbent on taking down Denazen before they're caught and her father discovers the biggest secret of all. A secret Dez has spent her life keeping safe.

A secret Kale will kill to protect.

Reviewers that made me want it: Jacinda and Jasmine at The Reading Housewives of Indiana and Jen at In the Closet with a Bibliophile

Summary: It's 1946 and Juliet Ashton can't think what to write next. Out of the blue, she receives a letter from Dawsey Adams of Guernsey - by chance, he's acquired a book that once belonged to her - and, spurred on by their mutual love of reading, they begin a correspondence. When Dawsey reveals that he is a member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, her curiosity is piqued and it's not long before she begins to hear from other members. As letters fly back and forth with stories of life in Guernsey under German Occupation, Juliet soon realizes that the society is every bit as extraordinary as its name.
Reviewer that made me want it: Hanna at Booking In Heels 

Summary: Gemma Stone is convinced that it's always unseemly to chuck a birkett and that it's actually insane to chuck one in front of a complete stranger. But that was before she fell for a boy who barely knows she exists, before she auditioned for the school play, before she met the family of freaks her sister Debbie is marrying into, before the unpredictable Raven De Head took an interest in her, and before she realized that at the right time and for the right reason, a birkett could be a beautiful thing.
Reviewer that made me want it: Jenny at Alternate Readality

Reading Icons: Rory Gilmore

"Rory never even shoplifted. Not a candy bar, not a lipstick. She forgot to return a library book once. And she was so guilty about it that she grounded herself. I mean, can you imagine? She's just sitting there in her bedroom yelling at me, 'Now no one else got to read The Iliad this week because of me!'" - Lorelai Gilmore

Friday 28 October 2011

Top 5: Books I Feel I Should Read

Some books are so hyped-up, even if I have zero interest in the plot, I feel like I should give them a go to see what everyone else is on about. This sometimes works in my favour and the book lives up to the hype (as in the cases of Anna and The French Kiss, If I Stay and The Hunger Games), while other times I still don't get the fuss (like with City of Bones, The Secret History and The Da Vinci Code). Here are five books that are currently on my TBR list purely because of the hype...

The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson. I feel like everyone in the world has read this book except for me. Even my fiance, who isn't a big reader, has read this series. It's currently sitting on my bookshelf, demanding I read it before seeing the movie. I haven't picked it up yet because, well, it's so massive, and I've also heard it's hard to get into at first. I worry that I'll be too impatient to persist - though if my fiance, owner of the shortest attention span in the house, can do it, surely I can. I'll get there... eventually.

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins. OK, so this one isn't on my list just because of the hype. It's also on there because Perkins' first book, Anna and the French Kiss, was one of my favourite reads of the year (if not ever). So I have extremely high hopes of Lola. There's been a helluva lot of hype around it, but from what I hear, it lives up to it.

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. This is another book sitting on my shelf because my fiance has read it and I'm avoiding it because of its size. Once again, if he, as someone who reads about four books a year, can get through it (and even enjoy it), then I feel like I should be able to. I just need to work up the courage/strength to pick up the brick.

Fallen by Lauren Kate. As I've mentioned before, from the small amount of experience I've had with them, I'm not a fan of angel books. But so many people seem to love this one I feel like I should give it a try. I've even got the whole series on my shelf, so there's no reason for me not to read it. Except that I'm not convinced I'll like it.

One Day by David Nicholls. I had three people in the space of one week tell me I MUST read this. So I ordered it, planning to read it before I watched the movie. Then a friend invited me to a preview screening of the flick at the last minute, and I didn't get a chance to read it first. And the movie depressed the hell out of me. Now I'm too scared to pick up the book. I still feel like I should. I will. One day (badum tish).

Do you buy into hype? What books have you read (or want to read) because of the hype?

Review: Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles

I have never been so excited to get a book. After finishing Perfect Chemistry, the first in Simone Elkeles' series, I cursed myself for not having ordered the whole thing, and immediately went online to remedy my mistake. Then I waited. And waited. Everyone in my office was on book watch. Each day a book didn't come (or the wrong one did) was a disappointment. Then, when Rules of Attraction finally appeared on my desk...

Yep. I squealed. Then went home and DEVOURED it. I'm talking staying up 'til 2am even though I had to work the next day. I could not put it down. I sped through the pages, anxious for the next appearance of Alex and Brittany, plus excited to watch the developing relationship between Alex's little bro, Carlos, and Kiara, the girl whose family had taken him in.

Squealing aside, I was initially a little concerned that Rules of Attraction would feel like copypasta of Perfect Chemistry, but I needn't have worried. Sure, the two books are structurally and thematically similar, but the characters are completely unique. Carlos may be related to Alex, but the two are quite different. Carlos is even angrier at the world than Alex was, and takes his emotions out on those around him. As a result, he comes off as quite, well, douchey for a big chunk of the book. Of course, he's a good guy deep down; his sweetness just takes a little longer to surface than it did in Alex's case. Which makes him pretty amusing, but also incredibly frustrating and hard to warm to at first. It's OK though, coz his hotness in the second half of the book more than makes up for it.

What I liked most about Rules of Attraction, though, was not actually Carlos - it was Kiara. She was a bit of a dag, but I loved that she was smart, had unique interests, an awesome gay best friend, didn't care what other people thought of her and took no crap - especially from Carlos. She gave as good as she got, and it was totally hot. Plus she has an incredibly amazing family who were so fun to read about. At first I was like, are these people for real?! Taking in a gang member the same age as your teenage daughter is not exactly a smart move, when you think about it. But when Kiara's dad's background is revealed, it all makes sense. I loved the way they all looked after each other and enjoyed spending time together. Hello, Family Fun Night? Adorable!

The chemistry between Carlos and Kiara wasn't quite as explosive as it was between Alex and Brittany (for me, at least), but it was still pretty fiery. I loved the glimpses we got of the older couple, too; they're so loved-up for most of the book and it's great to see them going strong. There was one plot twist that kinda threw me off, but thanks to the cheesetastic epilogue in Perfect Chemistry I knew everything would be OK. There's another extra cheesy epilogue in this installment, and I gotta admit I enjoyed it. I do love me a happily ever after.

Rating: 3/5

Eye Candy
I pictured Tyler Posey as Carlos because a) he's hot, b) he has Mexican heritage, c) he's hot, d) he looked hot doing the whole (highly stylised) gang thing in Best Coast's Our Deal film clip, and e) he's hot.

I pictured Tyler's Teen Wolf co-star Crystal Reed as Kiara, because I'm just THAT imaginative. In my defense, she does look kinda how I thought Kiara would - brunette, athletic...

Also? They're totally adorable together.

The aforementioned Best Coast clip, which I watch at least twice a day. I'm obsessed.

Fine Print
Genre: Young Adult
Published: 2010
Publisher: Walker Books
Get It: Book Depository

Images via Tyler Posey Online and Ultimate Crystal Reed

Thursday 27 October 2011

Bookish Buys: Costume Fun

Man, I wish we celebrated Halloween in Australia. It seems like so much fun. Just look at these costume ideas!

Mad-Eye Moody (in possibly the scariest interpretation of a Harry Potter costume ever)

Sookie Stackhouse Merlotte's Tee

Dread Pirate Roberts Mask

Austen Character Regency Dress (*siiiiiiiigh*)

Queen of Hearts Costume

Robin Hood Pet Costume (Hee!)

Complete Jacob Black Costume

So, if you're doing the Halloween thing, let me live vicariously through you - tell me what you're dressing up as!

Wednesday 26 October 2011

My Book Boyfriend: Julian Ascher


My Book Boyfriend, hosted by Missie at The Unread Reader, is my favourite meme ever, allowing book bloggers to showcase our fictional crushes (and drool over each other's). This week I tried to think of the scariest book boyfriend I could, in honour of Halloween. The problem is, scary books don't generally lend themselves to book boyfriends. The closest I've come to a creepy (but still hot) fictional guy lately is the demonic (literally) Julian Ascher in Where Demons Fear To Tread by Stephanie Chong. He has his share of evil moments, but he also has some pretty sweet ones. And he's ridiculously good looking. I pictured him as Matt Bomer.

Swoon-Worthy Quotes

"He would let her go, not only because his honour demanded it, but because it was the best thing for her. In her absense, he would survive... He bent to kiss her. Tried to ignore the certain knowledge brewing within him that he was kidding himself that his life would ever be the same without her."

"They were linked, he and she. He wasn't sure if he could ever go back. And it scared the shit out of him."

"He had lost himself to her, utterly and irrevocably... He realised he had meant it when he'd told her she had made him believe in love. Because he had fallen in love with her."

"With her, he felt some part of himself falling, some part of him that was ripped away as he reached out, realising that he was too late to catch her. He MUST save her, or a part of him would die with her on this desert rock."
Images via Matt Bomer Fan

Tuesday 25 October 2011

Bookish (Movie) Fun: Young Adult, Snow White and Paradise Lost

I posted a little while ago about how I was cautiously excited about Diablo Cody's upcoming flick Young Adult, because it sounded like an interesting comedy about a YA author, plus it had an awesome poster. Well, the trailer has been released, and I have to say I'm no longer excited at all. I think I'll give this one a miss. It doesn't even look craptastic - it just looks crap.

One movie that I am getting increasingly excited about is Snow White, starring Lily Collins and Armie Hammer. There's no trailer yet, but there is a bunch of pretty stills:

In other (kinda old, but new to me) movie news, I was surprised to find out that John Milton's epic poem Paradise Lost is being adapted for the big screen. As an action movie. In 3D. Starring The Hangover's Bradley Cooper as Lucifer, unknown Benjamin Walker as Michael, Ben's little brother, Casey Affleck, as Gabriel, I Am Number Four's Callan McAuliffe as Uriel, Pretty Little Liars' Diego Boneta as Adam and... wait for it... the girl Joe Jonas dumped Taylor Swift for, Camilla Belle, as Eve. I don't know how I feel about this. I'm curious, that's for sure. I guess angels really are the new vampires, huh?