HAPPY RELEASE DAY: Breaking The Rules by Katie McGarry

BreakingTheRulesThe first time I read Katie McGarry‘s novel Pushing The Limits, I instantly fell in love not just with the story, but with the characters and their turmoils and delights and all in-betweens. Her two leads, Noah and Echo, became my favourite characters (and ultimate OTP) in such a short span of time that reading them felt like they became a part of me, and saying goodbye to them was heartbreaking. I have reread Pushing The Limits many times over the years whenever life became too overwhelming, and it has always managed to pull me out of the deep ends I found myself in. Noah and Echo have helped me so much, and I always wished that, in spite of the great sequels that McGarry released in the meantime, someday, we would get to enjoy a sequel just for Noah and Echo, and alas, it is here! Katie McGarry has answered all her readers wishes and Breaking The Rules, published by Harlequin Teen, is finally out, so excuse me while I go snuggle up in bed with my two favourites and enjoy their love story some more! Happy release day, Katie!

For new high school graduate Echo Emerson, a summer road trip out west with her boyfriend means getting away and forgetting what makes her so . . . different. It means seeing cool sights while selling her art at galleries along the way. And most of all, it means almost three months alone with Noah Hutchins, the hot, smart, soul-battered guy who’s never judged her. Echo and Noah share everything–except the one thing Echo’s just not ready for. But when the source of Echo’s constant nightmares comes back into her life, she has to make some tough decisions about what she really wants–even as foster kid Noah’s search for his last remaining relatives forces them both to confront some serious truths about life, love, and themselves. Now, with one week left before college orientation, jobs and real life, Echo must decide if Noah’s more than the bad-boy fling everyone warned her he’d be. And the last leg of an amazing road trip will turn . . . seriously epic.

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Enjoy a great teaser from the story below!

FROM NOAH’S POV
“Did you fall into some paint, Echo?” Isaiah asks, changing the subject.
Echo’s shoulder slumps as she pivots toward the mirror. She groans as she touches her cheek and forehead that are more red and pink than skin. “Dang it. Why am I such a mess?”
“I think it’s sexy as hell,” I say.
“I think I’m going to barf,” Beth mocks my tone.
Death radiates from the look I send her way. Enough that it should melt her. “Ever sleep in a tent, Beth?”
Beth focuses on the screen while raising her middle finger in my direction.
“Screw it.” Echo turns away from the mirror. “I need a shower.”
I smile, Echo blushes, then I laugh. Damn me for inviting Isaiah and Beth to share our room.
“Anyhow.” An excited glint strikes Echo’s eyes. “Are you ready? I hope you like it. It’s sort of…for you. But it’s not done, okay? I mean, something like this would actually take a while to perfect, so I guess I’m saying—”
“Echo.”
“Yeah?”
“It’s all good.”
“Okay.” Her fingers drum nervously over the top of the canvas before she repeats, “Okay.”
“I’m assuming that’s not the constellation Aires?”
“No. I’ll have to start on that tomorrow.” With a deep inhale, Echo pulls out a chair from the table and rests the painting on the arms and leans it against the back so it will stay upright.
Air rushes out of my body, and I sink onto our bed. It’s the same damned shock as when she drew my parents this past spring. There’s awe and joy and this ache that hits deep in my gut. I bend forward and rest my joint hands on my knees and stare at the sight in front of me.
Fuck me, my eyes burn. I shut them, attempting to get my shit together. It’s a painting. Only a painting. I reopen them, and it’s the same disorientation as a right hook to the head. It’s more than a painting, and that’s the reason my throat swells.
Last night meant as much to me as it did to her and she painted it, capturing it in a way unique to Echo. She’s right, it’s not done. It’s a skeleton compared to her other work, but I see enough to know what she desires, what she plans to design. Up close all those colors would look like chaos, but when viewed as a whole it creates this beautiful picture. In the end, that’s the best way to describe me and Echo, our relationship. Our love.
The bed dips as Echo eases onto it, settles behind me and props her chin on my shoulder. Her signature scent that reminds me of walking into a bakery becomes an invisible blanket surrounding me. “What do you think?”
“It’s us,” I whisper, and knots form in my stomach. Echo always finds a way to blow my mind. She tenses behind me and I continue, “It’s where we spent last night.”
“It is.” Echo relaxes, and her fingers curl around my biceps. “Do you like it?”
Struggling for composure, I place my hand over hers and pause. “It’s…”
I’m not Echo. I don’t have words for what happens inside me. If I did, I’d fail at describing this. I shift to rest my forehead against hers. “I don’t deserve you.”
“That’s my statement,” she says so only I can hear. “I wish we were alone again.”
I press my lips to hers, slide my hand through her hair and watch as the curls bounce back into place. “Me, too.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAABOUT THE AUTHOR

Katie McGarry was a teenager during the age of grunge and boy bands and remembers those years as the best and worst of her life. She is a lover of music, happy endings, reality television, and is a secret University of Kentucky basketball fan. Katie is the author of full length YA novels, PUSHING THE LIMITS, DARE YOU TO, CRASH INTO YOU, TAKE ME ON,  BREAKING THE RULES, and NOWHERE BUT HERE and the e-novellas, CROSSING THE LINE and RED AT NIGHT. Her debut YA novel, PUSHING THE LIMITS was a 2012 Goodreads Choice Finalist for YA Fiction, a RT Magazine’s 2012 Reviewer’s Choice Awards Nominee for Young Adult Contemporary Novel, a double Rita Finalist, and a 2013 YALSA Top Ten Teen Pick. DARE YOU TO was also a Goodreads Choice Finalist for YA Fiction and won RT Magazine’s Reviewer’s Choice Best Book Award for Young Adult Contemporary fiction in 2013.

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Be sure to check out all of the books in the series on McGarry’s Goodreads profile above, you do not want to miss these amazing young adult contemporaries in your library! Happy book birthday, Katie, and thank you for all your words that have encouraged so many!  Here’s to Noah and Echo and how it all began!

BTR available now

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BOOK REVIEW: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

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Publication Date: September 10th 2013 by St. Martin’s Press
Genres: Young adult, romance
My Rating: 5 Stars AMAZONBARNES & NOBLEiBOOKS

Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . . But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving. Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere. Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to. Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone. For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories? And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

There’s something about Rainbow Rowell’s third novel Fangirl that captured the gist of struggling to grow up and trying to figure out your own person when you have always been busily losing yourself in stories and fictional character’s lives rather than your own that made me fall irrevocably, head-over-heels in love with both this book’s plot and characters. Fangirl is a lot of things, but most importantly it’s disarmingly clever, heartwarmingly quirky, ridiculously charming and delightfully genuine. tumblr_my1fleYZjG1qlhw95o1_500Attending college is rocky enough as it is, leaving behind everything you’ve known for the better part of your life – friends, family and familiar surroundings – in order to go out in the world to widen your horizon, as they say, and let go of everything you’ve thought has defined yourself thus far. And Rowell illustrates the different reactions that can be triggered by such life-changing circumstances with twins Cath and Wren, who are perfect to portray two different perspectives because they are initially as alike as they possibly cold be due to their genetics, upbringing and mutual love for the Simon Snow book series, but who find themselves at a crossroads from each other and on two wildly different paths to self-discovery over the course of the book. ImageWhile the two used to be super close and obsessed with the fandom’s fanfiction branch – writing stories about title character Simon Snow and nemesis Baz – they have come to grow apart in the months after graduation and drifted even further now that their first semester has started. While Wren has decided to become more outgoing and free-spirited, Cath has remained faithful to the characters she has spend her childhood with. Timid and anxious, Cath is not only worried about her twin, she’s also struggling with social anxiety and fear for her single dad who is now living alone in their family home and trying to cope with his own personal demons. Cath tries to escape college by holding on to Simon and Baz for dear life but she doesn’t succeed for long, with Rowell introducing Cath’s promiscuous roommate Reagan and her maybe/maybe-not boyfriend, Carhartt-clothed and Starbucks-employed Levi to the equation. Both characters complement Cath so well, it is positively uncanny how real and lively they all become, so much so that they manage to pop right out of the page together. In between chapters, Rowell has selected fanfiction excerpts written by Cath that perfectly harmonize with the story’s progression, too. IMG_7538 KopieThere are a whole lot of other struggles going on between Fangirl’s pages, and that is what makes it such an addictive read for all age groups, really. Let me just tell you how refreshing it was to read about a college experience that actually – gasp – was an honest depiction of it, one that didn’t feel forced or suffocated by superfluous and scandalized character and plot tropes (I’m looking at you, New Adult!). Sure, Fangirl has its ups and downs, but Rowell writes them well, and they never feel fabricated or alien to the story. Everyone who loves books and stories about the love for books and stories will feel right at home with this novel – there’s romance, there are family feuds, there’s friendship, and then there’s that perfect understanding of that in-between stage of your life that made you feel powerless or confused or lonely even, and it still manages to leave you with an hopeful undertone, because that’s just how Rowell does it – she manages to write about life in a way that is honest and ongoing, but most importantly reassuring. And then there’s that amazing scene with Cath and Levi featuring S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders that doesn’t hurt, either.

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BOOK REVIEW: The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

17347389Series: The Raven Cycle #2
Publication Date: September 17th 2013 by Scholastic Press
Genres: Young adult, contemporary, paranormal
My Rating: 5 Stars
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Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same. Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after….

Excuse my theatrics, but I want to marry and have children with this book. Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Boys sequel The Dream Thieves hasn’t just got the most formidable title in the whole history of anticipated sequels, but it also properly delivers. It’s an uplifting, yet eerie conundrum of point of views, a mix of light and dark places, and it completely manages to effortlessly suck you into the magical world of Henrietta and Blue and her Raven Boys once more. The Dream Thieves picks up right where its predecessor left us hanging, coaxing us into the quest for Glendower at a hot and sweaty summer’s day, perfectly blending with the first volume’s atmosphereImage.
I did not think this book’s magic was able to get more powerful, but it most certainly did, especially with adding more of Ronan’s point of view to the story. There’s still the humour I so loved with the first book, but it’s going to darker places with a more proper introduction to Ronan’s and his brothers psyches, and his relationship with Aglionby Academy student/criminal Kavinsky. Stiefvater manages to paint a fine line between the innocent and sinister motivations of her characters and how they are defined and obscured by all the ley line’s secrets and desires, while a new villain, the ominously named The Gray Man, is out for the infamous Greywaren and his dream objects.
ImageThere’s a decent amount of romance going on (as much as I love the Gansey/Blue relationship, it’s definitely and thankfully not just about them); what really stands out about this sequel is that it puts the magical quest’s ambiguity to the foreground, and the doubts and insecurities this adventure brings out in our characters. There’s tumult for everyone – Blue’s own search for her something more and where her place is in her world, Adam’s dealing with the consequences of his choices from the first book, Noah’s longing for liveness, Gansey’s fear of losing his friends and himself in the process of finding his Welsh King, and of course Ronan’s job to keep his brothers safe from his ever-unravelling history and present, and himself from the secrets that have festered in him for years.
ImageThe Dream Thieves, even though it can be downright depressing at some points, always manages to keep up that peacefulness that The Raven Boys set out on. It’s still a hopeful story of friendship and loyalty, highlighting real struggles that every relationship would have to deal with even under less difficult circumstances. Once more, the prose is incredible, hilarious at one point, and then hounding the next, creating some serious tension that will keep you from putting this down once you’ve started. The characters remain real and vulnerable, but their struggles and how they ultimately live up to them (or not) are fascinating to observe. This book is a big puzzle box when it comes to twists and turns, so be prepared for Cabeswater and some serious power blackouts and surges in both the plot and our five favourite characters lives!

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BOOK REVIEW: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

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Publication Date: September 3rd 2013 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Genres: Young Adult, horror, dystopia, romance
My Rating: 5 Stars
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Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave. One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.

vampire_fangs_by_Dodo91[1]Let’s be honest, I am a nightmare for a reader. I am so picky when it comes to books, it’s a miracle I even have favorites. But I am truly the pickiest when it comes to vampire literature ever since taking a class on the matter two years ago. We had to read Polidori, LeFanu, Stoker, Rice and Gomez and I’ve been even more of a nightmare on any supernatural story featuring the undead that comes my way ever since. So, color me surprised when I read The Coldest Girl In Coldtown by Holly Black and knew from chapter 1 onwards that I was in love. Rest assured, this book is awesomeness incarnated.
Coldest Girl is told from various perspectives of the story’s main characters, and I absolutely adored it. It made for great tension and surprise while reading, and definitely raised attention anew every time a different perspective aside from Tana’s opened a chapter. Tana is the main character and point of view here though, and, unlike too many female protagonists of the genre, I never found her or her decisions annoying or weak in any capacity. The way she’s introduced was something new and oddly “normal“, and the way the supernatural was then incorporated made for a great start to the story all-together. 4-north-point-hong-kong-rundown-buildingsEverything reminded me a lot of a Anne Rice novel, only more interesting considering the book’s target age group (because let’s be honest, Armand didn’t really do it for me in the long run as a storyteller quite frankly because he was old and a man). I loved that this vampire story featured Tana as the main connection to the story rather than say her badass and dangerous love interest Gavriel, who really could’ve been taken straight from Interview with a Vampire. But because Tana took the reins in the journey (she’s NO damsel in distress like too many female characters in the genre, she’s badass in her own right, but she’s real), it made for something I could relate to on a new level and which made Coldest Girl so exciting to delve into. Her love interest Gavriel and his backstory was so much fun to get to know, too, because he’s NOT a romanticized version of a vampire, he’s mad to the core and I loved it.
ImageThe world Black has created for the setting is also greatly captivating and felt surprisingly unique, with the ideas of Coldtowns and the media aspects in the story. I loved how the modern media played a great part in this vampiric version of ours. It made for great entertainment for the characters, as well as for the reader. A must-mention is that oh my God, does this book have the BEST kissing scene I have ever read. It was scorching, and I loved it and probably reread it ten times before continuing with the novel. So yeah, be prepared. Tana is awesome, and she gets more awesome by the end of the book and she’s one of my favourite vamp lit heroines for sure.

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BOOK REVIEW: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

The-Raven-BoysSeries: The Raven Cycle #1
Publication Date: September 18th 2012 by Scholastic Press
Genres: Young adult, contemporary, paranormal
My Rating: 5 Stars
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It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive. Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them–not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her. His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble. But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all–family money, good looks, devoted friends–but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little. For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

IMG_0023Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Boys is hands down my favourite book of all time. So much so that if I could only ever read a single book for the rest of my life, this one would be it. Not any of the Harry Potter series or The Lord of the Rings, but The Raven Boys.
Why? Well, I’m a firm believer in that the best story cannot possibly work without great characters, and boy, do I love these characters to pieces. There’s Blue, the slightly odd, sensible daughter of a psychic, and of course her Raven boys – seemingly entitled rich kids that attend Aglionby Academy: Gansey, a drop-dead wealthy explorer, the less unfortunate Adam who tries to make it from rags to riches on his very own feet, there’s Ronan, the angry dreamer, and there’s Noah, the glum little creeper (and of course batches of brilliant supporting characters!) Each of these five protagonists are so real and raw, it’s quite impossible to not fall in love with each and every single one of them over the course of this magic carpet ride. And Henrietta, West Virgina, is a whole new world filled with magic, adventure and loyalty, with its eyes on exactly these fast five friends.
97a076568c4ae99d6b61d204c0998b0cBut the characters aren’t the only things lovable about The Raven Boys. Stiefvater has managed to find a quest so outrageously fascinating it’s hard to put the book down once you start reading. I used to be completely put off by the medieval studies classes I had to take at uni, but somehow, she managed to get me interested in this topic again, and I was excited to delve further into the history of Welsh prince Owain Glendower (a real Welsh ruler by the way) and the hunt for his corpse on the infamous ley line in town.
And this is also where Stiefvater manages to enthrall you with her writing (from different POVs) so much so that it is able to create a feeling so magical and of such utter peacefulness that it is a hauntingly beautiful reflection to her magical adventure quest of a story. Reading this book, you can’t help but feel completely at home in the setting.
ImageHonestly, I can never stop fangirling over this book because it has everything I love about literature: amazing prose, beautiful characters, quick humour, so much magic that it transcends the pages, great twists and revelations that keep its seemingly slow pace interesting enough to never want to stop reading, a gorgeous 1973 Chevrolet Camaro (in orange!) and above all great friendship and a great undertaking for the something more.

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