Pushing the Limits
Harlequin Teen, 384 pages
July 31st 2012
Amazon | Goodreads
So wrong for each other…and yet so right.
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.
I’ve tried avoiding reading reviews of Pushing the Limits because I really wanted to make sure my thoughts about it were completely my own. But reviews of this book have been hard to avoid. They’re everywhere! The good news is, from the few reviews I’ve skimmed through, I seem to (more or less) feel the same about this book as a lot of my reading buddies.
Still, I haven’t really been able to think of what to say about Pushing the Limits, which has been a bit baffling for me since I finished the book back in June.
I do know I liked it. But I can’t really decide if I liked it because it reminded me of Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles, which I loved, or because it was a romance about a couple who found their way to each other against the odds.
Either way, Pushing the Limits is an engaging, emotional, and intense story. It mixes gritty and raw emotions with a bit of hope and happiness as the main couple, Noah and Echo, try to figure their shit out – which is not an easy task considering that they both have their share of secrets and scars.
Still, even though I enjoyed Pushing the Limits, I can’t praise it as highly as other readers, mostly because I felt that some part of the interactions between characters felt artificial and some of the conflicts seemed a bit too contrived.
I understand the notion to make sure it’s clear that Noah and Echo haven’t had it easy. Aside from having been essentially abandoned, both of them also have to face situations that most teens their age don’t have to worry about. Noah tries to prepare himself for responsibilities he isn’t really ready for while Echo tries to remember a past her mind can’t handle. That in itself should be enough to tell a great story. But things are never that simple. They also have to deal with dysfunctional families, deaths, opposing social cliques, ex-boyfriends and ex-best friends, and, of course, misunderstandings due to a lack of communication. My preference has always been to not have so much going on because it’s overwhelming and always makes me feel forced sympathy for the characters. The whole time while reading, I kept thinking to myself, enough already! But it’s a personal preference and other readers might really enjoy as much as possible crammed in.
Though, I could have done without the extra melodrama, the underlining story resonated with the optimist in me. My heart raced for Noah and Echo as I waited for their love to solidify. It came slowly, but the build up was great because it took into consideration the healing and mistake mending they had to do as individuals first.
If you love romance, you’ll enjoy this opposites attract love story. I know I did. And, make sure to check out the Pushing the Limits read-along! The prizes for it are fantastic!
A Bad Day for Voodoo
June 5th 2012
Amazon | Goodreads
When your best friend is just a tiny bit psychotic, you should never actually believe him when he says, “Trust me. This is gonna be awesome.”
Of course, you probably wouldn’t believe a voodoo doll could work either. Or that it could cause someone’s leg to blow clean off with one quick prick. But I’ve seen it. It can happen.
And when there’s suddenly a doll of YOU floating around out there—a doll that could be snatched by a Rottweiler and torn to shreds, or a gang of thugs ready to torch it, or any random family of cannibals (really, do you need the danger here spelled out for you?)—well, you know that’s just gonna be a really bad day …
Note to self: Never play with voodoo dolls. Yup, I’ve learned my lesson, thanks to Tyler and the bad juju mess he finds himself in simply by having an idiot for a best friend. All I can say now is, thank goodness all my friends are (for the most part) sane.
I’ve never been a fan of stories in which the narrator speaks directly to the reader. That’s always been a little uncomfortable for me, especially when the narrator is a 16 year old boy who assumes I’m reading his story as a substitute for Shakespeare in hopes that I’ll be able to write a decent book report from his misfortunes. But hanging out with Tyler and co. through their ordeal was too fun to be bothered by the narrative style.
As you’ve probably guessed, A Bad Day for Voodoo is a light, clever, and humors story about a boy who hasn’t had the best luck since failing a History quiz he studied really hard for. Life heads towards a downward spiral for Tyler from there. And though there was an abundance of chaotic and sometimes a little horrifying scenes playing out in the story, Tyler always remained comical in some way, which quickly endured him to me.
Sure, some parts of the story dragged on for longer than necessary and most of the characters were a bit too spoofy for my taste. Still, I really enjoyed the satire and sarcasms used; it made the reading fast and flow-y. A Bad Day for Voodoo may not be the type of story you take seriously, and that’s okay because it’s not meant be one, but it’s still a great read.
Read for The All Male Review Challenge
Author: Misty Provencher
Series: The Cornerstone Series
Release Date: November 7, 2011
Source: purchased from Amazon
Pages: 219 pages
Links: Amazon | Goodreads
My Rating: 4 stars
Nalena Maxwell has been branded ‘The Waste’ at her new school, due to her mom’s obsessive paper hoarding. Nalena desperately wants something to change in her life, but when she receives a sign (and it’s the wrong dang one) inviting her into a mysterious, ancient community, too much changes.
What she knew of her family, what she thought of her life and what she believed about her future, is no longer applicable. Seventeen years worth of family skeletons come crashing into Nalena’s life and it is the boy…the one that smiles at her like he wants to hear everything she’ll ever say…that already knows her powerful secrets. But it is only Nalena that can choose between protecting the life that is already crumbling beneath her feet and the one that might sacrifice everything she could ever have.
If I had to sum up Cornerstone in a word, it’s be surprising!
When I began reading Cornerstone, I thought I had a good grasp on what the story was about, and at first, it seemed like I was right. But as the story progressed, I was thrilled to discover unexpected twists and turns I hadn’t seen coming.
Cornerstone reminded me a lot of Demons at Deadnight by A&E Kirk, of which I’m a huge fan. Running along the same lines as DaD, there is a discovery of a secret destiny, parental/family involvement, BOYS, and, best of all, no love-triangle. And just like DaD, Cornerstone presents a very unique mythology, one that is well developed and fascinating, though the way it was gradually introduced did have me tearing my hair out right along with the MC in my desperation to find out what exactly was going on.
Nalena was a very easy protagonist to settle in with and like. My feelings for her ranged from pity to admiration, before falling on deep sorrow. Given that she is forced to deal with a lot in a short amount of time, I wasn’t expecting her to be so introspective and witty, but she was! Her inner musings were those of a typical teenager dealing with shame and guilty, yet, she also displayed an weighty amount of emotional growth and bravery.
The romance did develop very quickly, but it was sweet and filled with just the right amount of yearning. Nalena spends a lot of time pining for a boy she thinks she could never have, but I couldn’t fault her for it. The boy, Garrett, is absolutely charming! And confident in a way that wasn’t conceited but loyal – to himself, to his family and to his duties. He’s just the type of guy that drives me crazy with his mixture of impulsive and restrained actions. Poor Nalena, she didn’t stand a chance, and neither did he.
The writing was great! Fresh, carefully crafted, and filled with subtle humor, which is my absolute favorite. I loved laughing out loud upon finding cleverly constructed phrases, the kind that I wish I was smart enough to create myself, so I’m happy to point out that Cornerstone was filled with them, and I’ve got an exhausted highlighter button on my Kindle to prove it.
I wouldn’t say the story ends with a cliffhanger, but it’s obvioius there is more to come, and I’m looking forward to it!
During the duration of the blog tour Cornerstone is available on Amazon for only .99¢! Get it! Or, for a chance to win a copy of Cornerstone, visit THE CORNERSTONE BLOG TOUR page.
Title: The Immortal Rules
Author: Julie Kagawa
Series: Blood of Eden #1
Release Date: April 24th 2012
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Source: Media Masters Publicity
Links: Amazon | Goodreads | TBD
Rating: 3.5 stars
Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a vampire city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten.
Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them. The vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself is attacked—and given the ultimate choice. Die
or become one of the monsters.
Faced with her own mortality, Allie becomes what she despises most. To survive, she must learn the rules of being immortal, including the most important: go long enough without human blood, and you will go mad.
Then Allie is forced to flee into the unknown, outside her city walls. There she joins a ragged band of humans who are seeking a legend—a possible cure to the disease that killed off most of humankind and created the rabids, the mindless creatures who threaten humans and vampires alike.
But it isn’t easy to pass for human. Especially not around Zeke, who might see past the monster inside her. And Allie soon must decide what—and who—is worth dying for.
OMG, look! It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s another review and giveaway for The Immortal Rules.
Sick of seeing this book everywhere yet? I hope not, because then you’d truly be missing out on something fangtastic.
Being the vampire fiend that I am, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a bit more critical of my vampire reads than any other genre I read. I can’t help it. It’s just the nature of the fang-girl in me.
So, upon discovering that Julie Kagawa, the same author who enchanted me to the wickedly awesome world of the Fae when I thought fairytales were lost on me, was next going to be releasing a vampire series, I squee’d in my pants. And when the ARC of The Immortal Rules arrived at my doorstep, the first thing I did was sink my imitation fangs into it.
The Immortal Rules is a perfect example of why I don’t like to give up on books. I have the hardest time DNF-ing books, and it’s because somewhere in the back of my mind, I have that endless hope that even if I don’t really like the beginning of the story, things will get better. And fortunately, most times it does, as was the case with Allison’s tale.
In a effort to not give too much away, and this is coming from the girl who loves spoilers but still refused to read a single review for this book so my reaction could be completely authentic (yes, that is how seriously I take my vampires), I’ll say the latter half of The Immortal Rules is where Kagawa truly shined, with her slow but extremely intense take on one girl’s journey to take the world. It pains me to admit this, but I had my doubts because the beginning half of the novel was predictable and, well, kind of boring.
Initially, my main problem was with Allison. Her TSTL moments piled up faster than I could bear. Plus, the one thing I’m always looking for in stories about vampires is that one unique quality that makes the author’s interpretation of my beloved bloodsuckers stand out from the norm. Yes, keep the fundamentals intact, but also give me something different, something exciting. Much to my dismay, everything about the way the vampires fed to the way they turn others into the undead was very standard and familiar in Kagawa’s novel, and I failed to identify one single quality that would brand her vampires to her.
Those first disappointing impressions aside, I was beyond thrilled when I discovered that the story found more solid footing almost from the start of Part III of the novel. Not surprisingly, this was also when the boy showed up. Yes, I’m that shallow, but come on! Who has the power to resist swoon worthy boys? And the turn in tone finally make me feel wholly invested in Allie and her plight. Now, I can’t wait to get more.
Maybe it’s wrong of me to do this, but I always judge a book by how easily or not it is for me to put it down. Does it erase time by capturing my attention from the start, or is it one that I could leave on my bedside table for a few days in between passages? I may have had a rocky start with The Immortal Rules, but ultimately, I was left breathless, desperately needing just one more shallow gulp of air in the form of another page to keep me until next year.
Thanks to Media Masters Publicity and Harlequin Teen I have a hardcover copy of The Immortal Rules to give away! To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Giveaway is open to US and Canada mailing addresses only.
City of Fallen Angels
The Mortal Instruments #4
Narrated by Ed Westwick, Molly C. Quinn
Simon & Schuster Audio
Length: 12 hrs & 39 mins
Amazon | Audible | GR
Who will fall in love, and who will find their relationship torn apart?
Who will betray everything they ever believed in?
Love. Blood. Betrayal. Revenge.
In the heart-pounding fourth installment of the Mortal Instruments series, as we follow Simon into the heart of Downworld, the stakes are higher than ever.
I own a physical copy of this book, as I own all the other books in this series. I mean, how could I not? I love the shiny, pretty covers and the way they look next to each other on my shelf. But when I found out that Ed Westwick was one of the narrators for this installment, I just had to listen instead of read.
I wish I could say I’m glad I did. Usually, I’m a big fan of audiobooks with duel narrators, but for that to be possible, I feel that the narrators’ voices have to compliment each other, and in this case, I don’t think they did.
Most times, when I review an audiobook, I’ll talk about the narrators’ voices last, but because the combo on this audio was kind of creepy, I thought I’d admit that right away. Don’t get me wrong. Ed Westwick’s accent is sexy as hell. And while he read, I was found myself very engaged, but when he took on a few of the character’s voices, he made them sound much older than confused teens running round New York. And the girl’s voice sounded way too young. It was awkward and high against Ed’s husky and low tenor. I still listened to it the whole way through, so I guess I’d say it was bearable.
For the story itself, I was happy to see Simon take the spotlight. I was eager to find out more about his vampirism and how exactly he grows into it. An intriguing mystery surrounding his new undead life seemed to be developing, and that quickly got me on board. So I was more than a little disappointed when I discovered that he was just being used as a pawn for a demon with bigger fish to fry.
Not surprisingly, those fish turned out to be Clary and Jace. I guess I shouldn’t fault them because they are the heart of the series, but why not just let them have their moment of peace and happiness? It was frustrating to see them being dragged around again. And I suspect that the next book in this series is only going to prolong their happiness, and that really upsets the HEA wanting girl in me.
And please don’t tell me that I’m the only one who is not a fan of the Alec/Magnus thing. It’s super creepy! But only for the reasons that were highlighted in this book: Magnus, 800 years old, been with a whole lot of people and creatures, and he’s immortal. Alex, only 18 and mortal, throws a tantrum when it finally dawns on him that Magnus has had many, many other lovers. I just don’t get the Magnus draw. I keep thinking I missed something, like a novella that focused on Alec and Magnus’ relationship, one that would have convinced me.
But even with all the things that frustrated/annoyed/upset me in City of Fallen Angels, I must say there were some very interesting developments in the overall arc of the story, even if the main thing wasn’t all that surprising.
Narrated by Emily Bauer
Length: 7 hrs & 53 mins
Amazon | Audible | GR
New York City has been decimated by war and plague, and most of civilization has migrated to underground enclaves, where life expectancy is no more than the early 20s. When Deuce turns 15, she takes on her role as a Huntress, and is paired with Fade, a teenage Hunter who lived Topside as a young boy. When she and Fade discover that the neighboring enclave has been decimated by the tunnel monsters – or Freaks – who seem to be growing more organized, the elders refuse to listen to warnings. And when Deuce and Fade are exiled from the enclave, the girl born in darkness must survive in daylight, in the ruins of a city whose population has dwindled to a few dangerous gangs. As the two are guided by Fade’s long-ago memories, they face dangers, and feelings, unlike any they’ve ever known.
Though I didn’t feel like anything new was introduced to the YA world with Enclave, I still enjoyed the story. It was a quick listen because of the many fighting/action scenes. The narrator was a great Deuce, who did an excellent job of conveying an array of emotions for the young protagonist. From her moments of fierce determination to her cries of true fear, the narrator animated a Deuce that was every bit a Huntress who should not be reckoned with.
I didn’t really feel a connection between Deuce and her love interest, Fade. This story wasn’t really a romance at all, so it didn’t really bother me, and I understood Fade’s disconnect since he’s the type of character that was meant to be mysterious. Still, I thought the hints of a coming romance between the two were sweet and much needed in the mist of all the fighting to survive that took place.
My main observation was that I just didn’t think the story was very memorable. Every thing that happened had a familiar and common quality to it. Yes, Aguirre did a phenomenal job in her descriptive writing, illustrating an array of settings; for instance, I was as taken away as Deuce was when she saw the ocean for the first time because of the way Aguirre described it. But as a series, I think it might have been better to wait to read this book until the rest are released because I couldn’t identify anything unique and will probably forget a lot of the particulars of Deuce’s story by the time the next book comes out.