Monthly Archives: September 2012

Review {7} Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

Pushing the Limits
By: Katie McGarry
Published: July 31st 2012 by Harlequin Teen
Obtained: Library – But I’m definitely buying this one!
Rating: 5 Stars
Categories: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama, Five Star Rating.

What the Back of the Book Says: No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with “freaky” scars on her arms. Even Echo can’t remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal.But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo’s world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible.

Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she’ll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.

My Thoughts: I am not the contemporary-romance type, so I was majorly surprised when I realized how much I loved this book. And while there is definitely romance, there is so much more to this novel than I ever expected. It’s hard to even summarize Echo and Noah’s characters because they are so multi-dimensional and just probably two people who’s story I’d love to see in a movie. This book could easily become a movie.

What I love about this book is that the character’s are all so real. I mean, they have different backgrounds and different struggles, but they sympathize because they share the same feelings and emotions. When both feel at their lowest and most depressed and feel that they are fighting their toughest battles, they find each other. The relationship between Echo and Noah is unlike most young-adult book relationships. They don’t fall instantly in love. They do admit to an attraction, but they don’t just jump in and fall in love. They slowly build their love on trust, and friendship. They build the type of relationship that can last the distance.

Echo is not only fighting a battle within herself, but with the fact that something happened to her, at the hands of her mother, and she cannot remember anything. No one will tell her what really happened either. She is living at home with her father and step-mother (who used to be her babysitter until her parents divorced) and dealing with the death of her brother Aires and the birth of her soon-to-be step-brother. She’s lost most of her friends at school since she’s become very self conscious since the accident, which left nasty scars up her arms. Everyone assumes she cut herself and attempted suicide. They all want her to be “Normal” again, and try forcing Echo back with her ex-boyfriend Luke. Things are starting to get back to normal – somewhat – but things come to blows when Luke and Noah get into a fist fight – and Echo ends up getting knocked down.

Noah is dealing with the death of his parents and the subsequent placement of his little brothers’ in foster care. Noah’s been deemed “emotionally unstable” since he punched his first foster father for hitting his own son, and his brothers’ foster parents are trying very hard to keep him from seeing Jacob and Tyler. Noah’s determined to graduate high school and get his own apartment and work full time so that he can get custody of his brothers. Noah’s currently living with foster parents Shirley and Dale, their niece Beth, and another foster kid, Isaiah.  Noah considers them his brother and sister.

Once Noah and Echo meet and start dating, they begin to support each other, and help get each other through tons of really tough things. They both are devoted to one another, and having someone that you can truly love and trust by their side regardless of whats going on is really endearing. I really believe their story was one of my favorite to read about ever.

For anyone who’s ever struggled in life – regardless of what it was with; friends, family, etc – this book is one you can easily find something to relate to and will find yourself unable to put the book down, craving more and more and more. I think the ending was perfect and I am pretty sure that I would read absolutely anything that McGarry writes. Her writing is amazing and wonderful and she is incredible with writing her characters and the situations that she puts them in.

My final words are that you HAVE to read this book. HAVE TO.

Happy Reading,

Review {6} The Selection by Kiera Cass

The Selection
By: Kiera Cass
Series: The Selection #1
Published: April 24th 2012 by HarperTeen
Obtained: Library
Rating: 4 Stars
Categories: Young Adult, Dystopian, Romance, Four Star Rating
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What the Back of the Book Says: For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in the palace and compete for the heart of the gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself- and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

My Thoughts: My initial thoughts brought a mash-up of The Hunger Games, Matched, a little bit of Wither, and some of The Bachelor all rolled into one. I had a bit of trouble with the world-building though. I think sometimes it’s easy for an author to create this amazing, visual world in their minds but sometimes it is difficult to fully translate into words on a page. I do believe that book two, The Elite, will clear up a lot of my questions and confusions regarding the world that America lives in.
The characters are absolutely amazing in this book. Immediately you are sucked into America’s day-to-day life, and feel the love she has for her family. We then meet her boyfriend, Aspen, whom she shares a deeply passionate connection with. Each scene with America and Aspen is so intense, so raw and full of emotion. When America is chosen as part of the Selection I began to prepare myself for this intensely emotional goodbye between the two – but of course Cass had other plans for them at that point of the story!! 
When America decides to apply for one of the 35 Selection spots, she never intends to be chosen – and even if she was, she was only doing it for the safety and well-being of her family. The money that she would be given for participating would help the family out immensely – since America’s world lives by a Caste System – ranging from Ones (Rich, wealthy, elites) to Eights (The scums of society, poor, etc). There are also renegades in both the North and South who regularly plan attacks on the palace. So the whole experience America continues to tell herself is for her family, but when you see her experiencing friendship, budding love, and a taste of the real world beyond her own town, it appears that just maybe she had it wrong all along, and she was doing it somewhat for herself.
America’s character is strong, independent, and calm in the face of upheaval. When attacks occur on the palace during the Selection, America is one of the only girls who remains calm and steadfast, and even becomes a sort of confidante to Prince Maxon. He truly seems to value her opinion, especially because she knows what life is really like beyond the palace walls. She has seen the suffering, the starvation. She has an opinion of Prince Maxon as being this stuck-up, rich, materialistic, boring person with no heart or thought to the citizens of Illea. But as their friendship grows and blossoms, she realizes that there just might be more to the Prince than she ever could’ve believed.
But of course just as things seem to be going so smoothly, just as America is able to kind of close off the part of her heart that loves Aspen, and the part of her brain that only lets her think of him, and focus her time and efforts on figuring out how she truly feels about Prince Maxon – Aspen shows up as one of the guards in the palace. Now, amidst a palace full of guards and possibly being tried for treason if caught, America and Aspen are stealing midnight kisses and trying to figure out what is going on between them, and what the future can hold for them – if anything.
Cass’s writing style is pleasant and fluid, moving us deftly from scene to scene without a hiccup or hesitation. Her characters are all very in depth and individual, each having their own voices and personalities – even though she is writing with a huge cast list (35 girls alone just for the Selection!) It’s easy to get lost in the lives of the characters, and there were several nights where I absolutely couldn’t close the cover until my eyelids drooped and demanded I set the book aside until tomorrow.
I am thoroughly excited for the second book, The Elite, to come out in 2013. With such a cliffhanger ending, I’m craving to continue America and Maxon (and Aspen’s!) Story.
Happy Reading,