Book Review: Breaking the Rules by Katie McGarry

Title: Breaking the Rules
Author: Katie McGarry
Series: Pushing the Limits
Rating: ★★★★

Breaking the Rules

After finishing Pushing the Limits, I felt satisfied with the ending. It wasn’t a happily ever after ending, but it still felt right for Echo and Noah. So I wasn’t really sure I wanted to read Breaking the Rules. I didn’t want to read more of their story and end up feeling let down by whatever came next for them. The little glimpses into their lives from the other novels in the series were good enough for me.

Thankfully, McGarry created a fantastic continuation of Echo and Noah’s story. It felt authentic to the characters, even if that authenticity meant they annoyed me at times. So many of their issues could be fixed, even avoided, if they just talked to each other. However, I do realize that it’s not entirely how their characters would act. They aren’t really talkative characters, at least about things that are difficult to talk about.

Echo is still trying to separate herself from her mother. She’s trying to make it on her own as an artist, relying only on her talent and not her name. She and Noah took a road trip to try and get her art into galleries and shows across the United States. She’s trying to become a better person, one that doesn’t let her past haunt her as much.

Noah is being the supportive boyfriend. He finds work where he can, and is just enjoying his time with Echo. When he learns just how close one of their stops brings him to his family, he has to decide if he wants to face the family his mother left behind, or continue moving forward in life, trusting his mother’s judgment in ignoring them.

Through all of this, their insecurities are working against them. Echo still feels like the girl who isn’t worthy of real love. She still feels like the “leftovers,” her father has a new family and she’s what left from his old one. Her mom’s focus is her art, and Echo gets whatever she attention her mother might have leftover. Noah knows he isn’t the person he wants to be for Echo. He wants to give her more than he can at the moment, and he’s worried that Echo will leave him before he can become the man he wants to be.

Like I said, a lot of their issues would have been solved if they could really talk to each other. Sure, they have meaningful conversations, but it’s rarely about their insecurities. If it does, it only grazes the surface.

In the end, I was happy McGarry added a little more to Echo and Noah’s story. Even though I was content with the ending of Pushing the Limits, the resolution of some open questions was nice to have. It also provided a little more information on how they went form the Echo and Noah of the first book, to the Echo and Noah found in the other novels.

If you enjoyed Pushing the Limits, I highly suggest reading Breaking the Rules. The look into their relationship is wonderful, and really wraps up their story well.

If you’d like to read Breaking the Rules, you can purchase a copy here:
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Review: The White Princess by Philippa Gregory

Title: The White Princess
Author: Philippa Gregory
Series: The Cousins’ War series
Rating: ★★★★★

Philippa Gregory has written yet another fantastic historical fiction novel. This time it centers on Elizabeth of York, the wife of Henry VII and the mother of Henry VIII. She’s forced into marriage in order to unite the two sides of the Cousin’s War, but rarely feels at peace with her role in the new world her husband is forging. Her story is compelling and rich, and Gregory does an amazing job of telling it.

Elizabeth has always known she would be a pawn somehow, someway. As a female, she can’t rule, but she can give her husband the authority he needs to rule. So when Henry VII defeats her lover Richard III in battle and takes the title of king, she knows it will be her job to marry the victor. Their relationship starts out on horrible terms, with neither trusting the other or even liking each other. They know their marriage is one for show; Henry must marry Elizabeth to show a united front and Elizabeth must marry Henry to show the country who is king.

Even though their relationship starts out on bad terms, they come to form a type of love and respect for each other, even though it can never fully form. Henry doesn’t trust anyone who once sided with the York cause, including Elizabeth. There is always someone around the corner trying to take the throne away from him and that makes it hard for him to trust in others. Even when Elizabeth truly does not know anything about the plots surrounding her husband, the fact that she is a York is enough for Henry to distrust her.

Elizabeth played a different role in this novel than the women of the previous novels. In the previous novels, the women were determined and worked as hard as they could to secure their line on the throne. The men may have gone off to war, but the women were fighting their own battles. For Elizabeth, the struggle isn’t so much for the throne, but for who she is as queen. She is relatively safe with either side on the throne, but she must decide where her loyalties lie. She was raised a York, believing her brothers were the true heirs to the throne. However she creates a new line with the birth of Arthur, the Tudor line. She is played by both sides and must figure out which future she is willing to fight for.

I liked this internal struggle as compared to physical battle. There is still fighting and the battles one expects of a war, but getting inside Elizabeth’s mind as she is isolated yet loved, respected yet distrusted, fought over yet pushed aside was amazing. As much as Henry never felt secure, Elizabeth was just as questionable. Her fate was tied to people she had no control over, but she still fought to make her own path anyway. I wasn’t ready for a character like her, but I’m glad Gregory wrote her the way she did.

The White Princess has a different feel to it when compared to the other novels of the series. The fighting between the cousins has slowed, but not ended, and that leaves room for other factors to come into play. Instead of reading about the fight for a crown, this novel feels more like a fight for loyalties. Do you side with the family you are born with or with the family you have created? It’s a difficult question to answer but I feel like Gregory did a wonderful job looking at how Elizabeth of York handled that very question. This is yet another fantastic novel in the Cousin’s War series and it feels very bittersweet that it’s the second to last novel. Almost every story has been told and as much as I hate to see the end, I am looking forward to reading The Last Rose.

If The White Princess sounds like your kind of novel, you can purchase it here:
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Review: Crash by Nicole Williams

Title: Crash
Author: Nicole Williams
Series: Crash series
Pages: 484 pages paperpack, 323 ebook
Rating: ★★★

I didn’t expect to enjoy Crash as much as I did. It was an easy quick read that did have a few issues, but it wasn’t horrible.

Lucy’s life changed drastically five years ago and her family still hasn’t recovered. Her father shuts out reality to cope, her mother freezes the rest of the world to cope, and Lucy tries to save things that don’t have much hope of being saved.

I think that reason is why Jude’s anger issues didn’t bother me as much as they usually would. Normally, if I read about a guy as angry and violent as Jude, I am immediately turned off. I wouldn’t put up with it in my own life and I don’t want to read about some girl putting up with it because the guy’s hotness cancels out his issues. But in Crash, Lucy knows he has issues. She doesn’t put up with it much and makes Jude start to change. Yes, he still has anger issues at the end of the book. But he isn’t the boy who needs saving anymore.

Don’t get me wrong, the violence still bothered me. If I met someone like that in my own life, I’d probably walk away. But in Crash I think it works a little better because Lucy knows and acknowledges Jude’s issues. Lucy’s main problem is feeling the need to fix everything, leading her to stick with Jude longer than she should have. In the end, though, they both grow from where they began in the story and I did like that.

As for the rest of the story, some things are a little far-fetched, but I can forgive because they don’t really add or take away anything from the novel. They could have been removed and the novel still would have read basically the same.

Crash wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. It has its issues, yes, but it also has its silver linings. I’ll probably read the next books eventually, since I’d like to know how Jude and Lucy’s story continues, but for now, it was a decent read that I enjoyed.

If Crash sounds like your kind of book, you can purchase it here:
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Review: Ten Tiny Breaths by K. A. Tucker

Title: Ten Tiny Breaths
Author: K. A. Tucker
Series: Ten Tiny Breaths series
Pages: 304 paperback, 262 ebook
Rating: ★★★★

I had this book figured out before I even started it. I knew what the twist would be; I knew how it would end. It was the little pieces; the little bits that I couldn’t quite figure out, that made me enjoy this novel.

Kacey’s life hasn’t been the same since she lost her parents, best friend, and boyfriend in a crash caused by a drunk driver. She still has her sister to live for, but to Kacey, her life feels shattered so much she doesn’t think it can ever be put together again. She runs off to Miami with her sister to start fresh. It’s a place no one knows them and no one knows her story.

Their next door neighbor is Trent. He’s practically perfect, except he’s not. He and Kacey begin a relationship and he manages to break down the defense walls Kacey has built up. He’s completely swoon-worthy and says the right things at the right times.

My favorite character, though, was Storm. She and her daughter are the real reason Kacey begins to change. They are the first to break down a piece of her wall and from there on pieces continually fall. She’s a contradiction, but one of the best characters I’ve read. This novel wouldn’t be the same without her.

I can’t really say what I wish was different about the novel without giving a major spoiler, but it did take me a little bit out of the novel. Things were forgiven just a little too easily and I wish there had been more time devoted to working through that problem.

Ten Tiny Breaths is about learning from tragedy and finding a way to move on with life. It’s about forgiveness and living for yourself. Second chances and love; it’s all important. Ten tiny breaths is a way to slow the world down and give you the perspective you need to tackle life’s problems, and Ten Tiny Breaths is just that. There are tough times, but it’s like taking those ten tiny breaths and finding yourself thinking clearer and feeling better.

If Ten Tiny Breaths sounds like your kind of book, you can purchase it here:
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Thank you to Atria Books and NetGalley for the advanced copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Dreamland by Sarah Dessen

Title: Dreamland
Author: Sarah Dessen
Pages: 250 pages hardcover/paperback, 256 ebook
Rating: ★★★

When I started reading Dreamland, I felt like it was going to be a book I struggled to finish. I just couldn’t get connected to Caitlin and I felt like I was reading from a distance instead of being right there. About halfway through, that changed.

Caitlin has always lived in the shadow of her older sister, Cass. So when Cass leaves one night without warning, Caitlin feels like it is her responsibility to step up and fill in that “perfect child” role. At the same time, she doesn’t want to be Cass. She doesn’t want to have to be perfect. She’s confused and doesn’t know which way to go. Her confusion ends up leading her down the wrong road, sending her life spiraling down a hole she never thought she’d end up in.

In the attempt to step out of her sister’s shadow, she falls into Rogerson’s. The relationship between these two is heartbreaking, horrific, and realistic. Caitlin’s confusion over how she feels about Rogerson is what makes it all worse because I can understand her thinking. Reading about her struggles made my heart ache for her. He met her when she was already down and only brought her lower.

I think the reasons I didn’t find myself completely loving this book are because of that initial disconnect between me and Caitlin, as well as how blind those closest to Caitlin were. Out of everyone that knew and loved her, not one took enough notice of her downward spiral. I understand why it was done that way, but I still wish one of them had shown something more.

Dreamland is a quick read, but a powerful one. It shows that sometimes the weak are actually the strongest and that what we see on the outside my only be an illusion.

If Dreamland sounds like your kind of book, you can purchase it here:
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