Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Hurricane Kiss by Deborah Blumenthal | Review

Hurricane Kiss by Deborah Blumenthal | ReviewHurricane Kiss by Deborah Blumenthal
Published by Aw Teen on May 1st 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 256
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
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2 Stars

For sixteen-year-old Jillian McKay, the threat of Hurricane Danielle means a long car ride with her neighbors including River Daughtry, the former star quarterback of Harrison High. The guy who was headed to glory until suddenly he disappeared to a West Texas juvenile detention center. Once cocky and flirtatious, he's now silent and angry. When their evacuation route is gridlocked, River is the first to recognize the danger they're in. Together he and Jillian set out to seek shelter in their abandoned high school. As they wait out the storm, they confront the past and realize survival is about more than just staying alive it's about fighting for yourself."

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Oh how I wanted to love Hurricane Kiss.  I don’t know what it was about this book but I was really drawn to it (despite the embarrassing cover).  I figured this would be a quick, fun read with some good secrets and romance.  It was quick but that was about all I got right about this one.

Pros:

  • Pacing: Let’s be real here; the only good thing about Hurricane Kiss was that it didn’t take long to read.  It was slow to start but once I got about 40 pages in, things took off.  It’s pretty clear from the summary what you’re getting into as far as the hurricane and the survival part of the story.  I will admit that I was so not impressed with the time spent in the car trying to get out of Houston but once River and Jillian took off on their own, things really started to move.  Survival stories always intrigue me while also creeping me out.  Hurricane Kiss definitely did both of those things.  I have to say that that is probably one of the main reasons I didn’t just give up on this one.  I wanted to see what would happen to River and Jillian and everyone else in their lives.  If nothing else, the story is very captivating.

Cons:

  • Characters:  I felt nothing for River or Jillian.  Jillian was judgmental and very closed off.  River was tortured and messed up and every other thought in his head was about how bad he was for everyone around him.  Put them together and they were not any better.  And don’t get me started on their parents.  Jillian’s mom would rather stay behind to report than take her kids to safety.  Sure she sends them off with someone else so they aren’t trapped in Houston with her but I could not believe that any mom would do that.  As for River’s dad, he didn’t even like his son.  He wasn’t willing to listen to him and he just believed what everyone else had to say about him.  Then he let him run off (literally, run off) in the middle of an evacuation.  He didn’t try to stop him or go after him.  What kind of dad does that?  So yeah, while I disliked both Jillian and River, I disliked their parents even more.
  • Romance: Can you say insta-love that is totally based on looks alone?  Maybe there was more to it than that but all it seemed these two ever thought about was how attractive the other was.  I couldn’t see any other good reason they might be interested in each other.  They had nothing in common (except for the single parent thing) and to make matters worse, Jillian had a boyfriend!  Yeah, she didn’t feel much for him but that doesn’t mean she should just go for another guy without breaking up with him.
  • Story: There were two parts of the story that I just couldn’t get behind.  One: I don’t think Jillian and River would have survived the storm.  They holed up in their high school and they weren’t prepared at all.  They stayed in rooms with windows (isn’t that a big no-no during tornadoes and hurricanes), they had almost no food, and they kept going out into the storm for completely stupid reasons.  Oh and when the roof would collapse or windows would shatter, instead of just leaving it alone, they would go to check it out.  That makes a lot of sense.  The second part was River’s story about what happened to land him in juvie and his time in juvie.  His dad is ex-military.  I find it hard to believe that he just took the schools word for his sons actions and didn’t fight him getting sent to juvie.  Then there were the stories about what happened at juvie.  I know I have never spent any time in a juvenile detention facility but it seems like beating them, drugging them senseless, and feeding them food crawling with worms would be frowned upon and easily discovered.  What do I know though?

Overall, Hurricane Kiss is not something I’d recommend reading.  I could go on and on about this book but I’m going to stop here.  I’m just really happy it was a quick read and I didn’t waste too much time with this one.

Overall reaction:

 

What others are saying about Hurricane Kiss:

A Belle’s Tales’ review: “I really enjoyed Hurricane Kiss; it was a fast read, and the writing and characters were captivating.”

The Reader and the Chef’s review: “All in all, I believe Hurricane Kiss will attract readers in search of books inspired by events as real as natural disasters, brooding hot guys with a dark past, personal obstacles, light romance, and revelations until the very end of the book.”

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

How to Ruin a Summer Vacation (How to Ruin #1) by Simone Elkeles | Review

How to Ruin a Summer Vacation (How to Ruin #1) by Simone Elkeles | ReviewHow to Ruin a Summer Vacation (How to Ruin, #1) by Simone Elkeles
Series: How to Ruin #1
Published by Llewellyn Publications on October 8th 2006
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 234
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
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3 Stars

Moshav? What’s a moshav? Is it “shopping mall” in Hebrew? I mean, from what Jessica was telling me, Israeli stores have the latest fashions from Europe. That black dress Jessica has is really awesome. I know I’d be selling out if I go with the Sperm Donor to a mall, but I keep thinking about all the great stuff I could bring back home. 

Unfortunately for 16-year-old Amy Nelson, “moshav” is not Hebrew for “shopping mall.” Not even close. Think goats, not Gucci. 

Going to Israel with her estranged Israeli father is the last thing Amy wants to do this summer. She’s got a serious grudge against her dad, a.k.a. “Sperm Donor,” for showing up so rarely in her life. Now he’s dragging her to a war zone to meet a family she’s never known, where she’ll probably be drafted into the army. At the very least, she’ll be stuck in a house with no AC and only one bathroom for seven people all summer—no best friend, no boyfriend, no shopping, no cell phone… 

Goodbye pride—hello Israel.

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I was looking for a fun summer read and I figured this couldn’t be more perfect. I’m a huge fan of Simone Elkeles’ Perfect Chemistry series so I had really high hopes for this one. While I did find it a fun read for the summer, I was disappointed by many things about it.

Pros:

  • Setting: To be completely honest, I’ve never been all that interested in Israel as a setting. It’s not that I don’t think it’s a cool place, I’ve just never seen many books set there and I never set out to find a book set in Israel. I’m glad How to Ruin a Summer Vacation was set in Israel though. It’s a unique setting and Simone Elkeles did a wonderful job including not just the atmosphere but the history as well. I may have to see about finding more YA books set in Israel.
  • Romance: I love the romances where the characters start out disliking each other. I feel like characters who argue quite a bit sometimes have the best chemistry and that was the case with Amy and Avi. I could see their romance coming from a mile away but I wasn’t sure how they were actually going to get together. They had their ups and downs but I thought they were really good for each other. They balanced each other out.

Cons:

  • Amy: Amy was one of the most immature characters I have ever read about. She was so self-absorbed. Her dad wanted to take her to Israel to see her grandmother because she was sick. All Amy could see was that her dad was trying to ruin her life. Then she met her family and she treated them like crap. Yes, her cousin was a bitch. However, so was Amy. She didn’t even try to make things work between her and Osnat. I was really let down by that. And honestly, I don’t know what Avi saw in her because she was such a bitch to him most of the time. Really, she was a bitch to everyone.
  • Story: There really wasn’t much going on for the story. This was really just mostly a romance. I was okay with that since the book was so short but if there were more pages to the book, I would have gotten bored. I was hoping there would be more to the story as far as Amy’s relationship with her father and that didn’t happen. I know it could still happen in the next two books but for now, there wasn’t much to that relationship and what there was happened rather quickly.

Overall, How to Ruin a Summer Vacation is not Simone Elkeles’ best book, that’s for sure. I will continue with this trilogy since it is a fun read but I’d definitely recommend the Perfect Chemistry books over this trilogy.

Overall reaction:

What others are saying about How to Ruin a Summer Vacation:

Stuck in Books’ review: “If you like contemporary YA then this is good one to choose.”

The Page Sage’s review: “The insight into Israeli culture is fantastic.”

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1) by Rick Riordan | Review

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1) by Rick Riordan | ReviewThe Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #1) by Rick Riordan
Series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1
on June 1st 2005
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 377
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
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4 Stars

Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school... again. And that's the least of his troubles. Lately, mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy's Greek mythology textbook and into his life. And worse, he's angered a few of them. Zeus' master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect.Now Percy and his friends have just ten days to find and return Zeus' stolen property and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. But to succeed on his quest, Percy will have to do more than catch the true thief: he must come to terms with the father who abandoned him; solve the riddle of the Oracle, which warns him of betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves.

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I can’t tell you how many people have told me to read the Percy Jackson series.  I also can’t tell you how many times I’ve put off reading the series.  I honestly don’t know why, I just did.  The urge finally hit me to actually sit down and give this one a shot and I’m very glad I did.  This seems like the start of a series that I’m going to enjoy.

First off, things were a little odd for me with this one because I’ve read the graphic novel and I’ve also seen the movie.  Yes, the movie is very different but it still felt a bit like deja vu while I was reading.  I didn’t mind though because there was enough new content for me that I found it enjoyable.  Sure there wasn’t so much mystery about how things were going to end but that didn’t slow me down at all.

This series is very much middle grade, at least for now.  Percy is only 12 years old at the beginning of The Lightning Thief and while I knew that, I still found it a little off putting.  I’m so used to reading about older teens that getting used to Percy was difficult.  He was not very mature but what 12 year old boy is?  Some of his concerns seemed trivial to me but otherwise I liked him and I enjoyed watching him grow throughout the course of the book.  He went through a lot in a short period of time and he handled it really well, especially for someone so young.  I was impressed by that.  As for the other characters, Annabeth and Grover were awesome.  Annabeth was a little snotty at first but she came around eventually.  Grover was, by far, my favorite.  He was hilarious.  Grover was definitely the comic relief here but he also played a huge role in the quest.  He was funny but that wasn’t his only purpose and I appreciated that about him.

The Lightning Thief incorporates a ton of mythology.  I can see now why so many people love this series.  It’s full of stories that people of any age can enjoy.  I lost track of all the myths that were included in The Lightning Thief.  Even if it was just a brief mention, I caught so many gods, goddesses, and myths.  I think I really appreciated this now because I just finished a mythology in literature course and I was able to catch so many references that I might not have before.  It was fun trying to figure out all the myths and people as I went along.

The story itself is pretty straightforward but I can tell it’s going to tie into something much bigger as the series goes on.  The theft of Zeus’ lightning bolt is the main storyline in The Lightning Thief (obviously) but it all ties into something that doesn’t get wrapped up at the end of this book.  While I wouldn’t call the ending a cliffhanger, it’s definitely enough to get me to keep reading.

The writing style is simple and I enjoyed that in this case.  Rick Riordan’s writing is nothing fancy, that’s for sure, but I think that works with the type of story this is.  Like I said, I knew a lot of what was going to happen in The Lightning Thief but it never got boring and the style of writing really helped move things along at a good pace.

Overall, The Lightning Thief wasn’t absolutely amazing but it’s definitely earned the hype that surrounds it.  The Percy Jackson and the Olympians series is one that I will be continuing.

What others have to say about The Lightning Thief:

Fantasy Book Review’s review: “A fantastic book for sure that has me thanking the gods I bought the series.”

Shae Has Left the Room’s review: “The story itself was also a joy to read.”