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:
Barnes and Noble

Book Review: Take Me On by Katie McGarry

Title: Take Me On
Author: Katie McGarry
Series: Pushing the Limits

Take Me On

I really didn’t think the books in this series could top Pushing the Limits. Not because they wouldn’t be as good, but because there’s something about that first book that has some sort of magic. It’s the first book, the first introduction to the world, and it’s hard to beat that first bit of magic.

It’s almost like eating a pizza. All slices of the pizza are delicious, but it’s that very first slice that melts in your mouth and reminds you just how delicious pizza is.

Take Me On is my favorite book of the series. It beat Pushing the Limits for that honor. It has characters that don’t need each other for completeness. They make mistakes, yes, but in the end, they make decisions based on what they need, not what the relationship needs. Haley has an amazing concept of wanting to be yellow. She’s yellow, West is blue. She’s not ready to be green yet. She wants to figure out how to be yellow before mixing and making green. I think that’s the perfect way to describe this novel. These characters need to figure out how to be yellow and blue before they can create other colors.

Haley has some trouble in her history. She was a fighter, but one incident took that away from her. She sees weakness in a moment of strength, and it costs her the thing that made her happiest. When she’s thrown back into that world, she resists. She doesn’t want to feel that weakness again. She fights against it with everything she has. West is there to challenge her, but he can’t bring her back to fighting. She has to decide to do that on her own, and the moment she makes her decision is perfect. I had a huge smile when she faced her demons and moved on.

West should have everything. We met him in Crash Into You. He has a rich family that looked happy on the outside. Then his sister met Isaiah and found herself in trouble. West blames himself for her accident and her injuries. He remembers clearly his actions that led to his sister being in a car crash. He can’t bring himself to face her. It was tough to read those emotions. It’s clear that he misses her, but to him, he doesn’t see how she could miss him. He doesn’t feel like he fits in with his family, and the accident was the final nail in the coffin. He acts before he thinks, and that’s how he ended up training with Haley.

The colors metaphor is probably one of the best I’ve read in a novel. Both characters have to figure out how to be their own person before they can work on relationships. Haley has to figure out how to be yellow before she can try to make green with West, or any other colors with the members of her family. She’s been belittled and lost sight of who she is because of her family’s circumstances. She’s a muddled grey at the beginning of the novel from trying to be everything to everyone else before owning who she is. West is trying so hard to be his family’s color that he forgot he’s supposed to be blue. The fact that the color metaphor can be applied to every single relationship in this book is perfect.

Take Me On is my favorite book of this series. The characters and perfectly imperfect, and their growth is amazing. The story was tense with some wonderful sweet moments. Mostly, I love that this book focused on finding out who you are before you try to add more pieces to your whole. You can’t be a whole person if you don’t know what makes you, you. I loved it.

If you’d like to read Take Me On, you can purchase it here:
Barnes and Noble

Book Review: Crash Into You by Katie McGarry

Title: Crash Into You
Author:Katie McGarry
Series:Pushing the Limits

Crash Into You

I need good characters to like a book. A good setting is fine; a good story is nice to read. But for me to really love a book, I need good characters. They need to grow. They need to shed their tie to the book and become actual people. If I read a story with characters that I see as people, chances are, I’ll love it.

McGarry created wonderful people in this book.

Rachel looks like she has everything a person could want. From the outside, it looks like her family is perfect and happy. But her family is hiding secrets. Her mother wants her to be the daughter she lost. Her brothers and father want her to make her mother happy. They want her to be perfect, making up for the daughter gone too soon. But Rachel doesn’t want to be that girl. She wants to work on and drive her car. She doesn’t want to play the part of perfect daughter. She wants to make her family happy, but she doesn’t know when it’s okay to stop making others happy at the expense of her health.

On the other hand, Isaiah doesn’t have a family to make happy. He has Noah and Echo. He had Beth, but their friendship has been messed up. His mother wants back in his life, but he has years of pain in her way. He tries not to need anyone because he feels like no one needs him. He’s not completely lost, though. Cars provide his escape and hope for a better future than his present circumstances. It’s fast cars that bring him and Rachel together.

I really enjoyed this story, even though cars aren’t really my thing. I know how to change a tire, oil, and car battery. That’s pretty much the extent of my car knowledge. Even though some of the car talk in the book was above my head, it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the whole story. Rachel’s panic attacks really tugged at me. I’ve never had panic attacks like hers, but I have had panic attacks. The out of control feeling, of knowing that the panic makes no sense and that it doesn’t help anything, isn’t a feeling easily written. McGarry does a great job at writing those moments.

McGarry, once again, has a fantastic book on her hands. She creates characters that are the quintessential “more than their looks” characters. They appear on the outside to be one character, but there’s so much to them that the outside barely shows a piece of who they are. They aren’t characters; they’re people. I’ll keep reading and recommending McGarry because she does an amazing job of capturing people and weaving a story around them.

If you’d like to read Crash Into You for yourself, you can purchase it here:
Barnes and Noble

Can’t Wait for Mondays: Crash into You by Katie McGarry

When I read Pushing the Limits, I wasn’t really sure it was going to be for me. I can be picky when it comes to teen romances with drama. Sometimes there’s just too much that goes on that’s either unbelievable or cringe-worthy. Instead, I found myself completely drawn in and loving McGarry and her writing.

The same thing happened when I read Dare You To. I knew McGarry could write a contemporary teen novel that didn’t stray into the overly dramatic, but I was still just a little hesitant. I had absolutely nothing to fear. Dare You To was even better and gave my heart even more flutters.

And now to round out the trio of friends’ stories, Isaiah gets to tell his love story. And I really, really can’t wait. From everything I’ve read, it is even more glorious than the first two novels.

From the book description:

The girl with straight As, designer clothes and the perfect life-that’s who people expect Rachel Young to be. So the private-school junior keeps secrets from her wealthy parents and overbearing brothers…and she’s just added two more to the list. One involves racing strangers down dark country roads in her Mustang GT. The other? Seventeen-year-old Isaiah Walker-a guy she has no business even talking to. But when the foster kid with the tattoos and intense gray eyes comes to her rescue, she can’t get him out of her mind.

Isaiah has secrets, too. About where he lives, and how he really feels about Rachel. The last thing he needs is to get tangled up with a rich girl who wants to slum it on the south side for kicks-no matter how angelic she might look.

But when their shared love of street racing puts both their lives in jeopardy, they have six weeks to come up with a way out. Six weeks to discover just how far they’ll go to save each other.

That sounds like a book that is going to get my heart racing for more than one reason. And those are the books I love. They get me involved and caring and then something comes along to make me catch my breath.

Crash into You is available for pre-order and will be released on November 26th. Be sure to get your copy as soon as possible. McGarry isn’t an author you want to miss.

Review: Dare You To by Katie McGarry

Title: Dare You To
Author: Katie McGarry
Series: Pushing the Limits series
Pages: 462 pages hardcover, 480 ebook
Rating: ★★★★★

I love to sleep. From the moment I wake up in the morning, I look forward to crawling back in bed that night, curling up in a ball, pulling the covers around me, and going to sleep. So when a book makes me want to avoid sleeping, makes me drink caffeine just so I can stay awake to finish it, I know that is an amazing book.

Dare You To is one of those books.

I hadn’t expected to love Pushing the Limits as much as I did, so when I started Dare You To, I was ready. I knew that if this book was anything like the first, I’d be in for quite a ride.

Beth takes care of her mother at all costs; risking herself in order to make sure her mom is somewhat safe. When things go horribly wrong and she ends up being forced to live with her uncle, all she wants is a way out.

Ryan is the town’s golden boy who can do no wrong. To everyone else, his life is perfect…he has the perfect parents, the perfect home, the perfect life. He can’t share the imperfections with anyone.

When Ryan is dared to get Beth to go on a date with him, he looks at her as a challenge. Beth doesn’t feel worthy of Ryan’s perfection and his attention, so she turns him down at every chance. When they start to fall for each other, secrets come out, trust is put to the test, and their relationship faces difficulties at every turn.

I think what I enjoyed most about Dare You To is how real the characters felt. It was easy to imagine these two people growing up in my city, going to my high school. They are both rough around the edges, but are constantly trying to make themselves better. They aren’t the amazing teens that sometimes fall into young adult novels…they make mistakes and don’t always think things through.

Pushing the Limits surprised me with how much I loved it. Even going into Dare You To with high expectations, I was still blown away. McGarry has an amazing way of writing and I’ll be anxiously awaiting the day I get to read what comes next.

If Dare You To sounds like your kind of book, you can purchase it here:
Barnes and Noble

Thank you to HarlequinTeen and NetGalley for providing an advanced copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

I’m not sure why I wanted to read this book. I’m not usually one for lots of teen drama. If I want a romance, I go for sweet, lovable books. From the description, I thought there’d be way too much going on to make for a good novel. And yet, I am in love with Pushing the Limits.

I was right about this book on one count. There is a lot happening. However, instead of making it seem like drama for drama’s sake, it fit. Every little detail made sense and left an empowering feeling as I read. Each little thing Echo and Noah face helped them grow as characters until the very end. The people that we are introduced to at the beginning are not the people we know at the end. McGarry did character development right and I love her for that.

On the surface, Noah is the typical “bad guy.” He’s a bit of a loner, smokes pot, and has a reputation of using girls. But once you start reading his side of the story, things change and it comes to light that he’s that way as a front, as a way to keep himself from getting hurt. I think that’s why I loved him so much. For all his toughness and macho behavior, he’s still a guy afraid of getting hurt.

Echo starts out a little weak, but it fits. She doesn’t remember a major event in her life. That memory lapse has made her question herself, made her think of herself as less than. As the novel progresses, she fights with those inner demons and comes out on top. She realizes her worth, even if she struggles with it occasionally. She knows she’s worth something to people, and to see that at the end of the novel was wonderful.

Pushing the Limits is probably not a book I would have picked up in the store. This book somehow called to me anyway and made me read it and I’m so happy I listened to that call. Pushing the Limits is a fantastic debut novel and I can’t wait to read more from McGarry.