I am completely in the minority on disliking this 2012 debut by Katie McGarry. I realise this and unfortunately I can’t change it, no matter how muc...more I am completely in the minority on disliking this 2012 debut by Katie McGarry. I realise this and unfortunately I can’t change it, no matter how much I wish I could have fallen in love with this book like so many other readers. I didn’t like the characters or the predictable flow of events – and I couldn’t bring myself to invest in the romance between Echo and Noah.
Pushing the Limits was a book I received a long time ago. I originally put off reading it because to be honest it just sounded too cliche for me to ever pick up. BUT, I kept hearing amazing things about it and how so many bloggers had fallen in love with Echo and Noah (not to mention their steamy scenes). The hype kept going as Katie McGarry added new books to her ‘Pushing the Limits’ series, but it wasn’t until Monday night’s Penguin Teen event in Brisbane that I actually decided – hey, I might read these now. What can I say? Everyone was absolutely raving about this series AGAIN and I was in the mood for a contemporary YA read.
Echo was hard to like. She had some good aspects (her interest in art gave her bonus points) but I just found her to be such a weak character. Yes, she’s been through hell – but she kept contradicting herself at every turn and refused to seek the strength that was obviously within her. Echo grew as the novel progressed, but her ‘revelation’ only comes about two chapters away from the end. There was a lot of back and forth’ing with her character and it drove me a little nuts. It infuriated me that she couldn’t comprehend the one shard of memory she uncovered – (not to spoil too much) – when it was so obvious to the reader.
And Noah? He just rubbed me the wrong way. Sure he was a bad boy, but I don’t like my bad boys smoking pot and not realizing this is going to heavily impact his chances of getting custody of his two younger brothers. It was only when Echo pointed this out to him that he seemed to consider it for the first time. Noah’s ONE goal in life pre-Echo was getting his brothers back and he hadn’t even considered this? I just found it strange. I also found it hard to find any scrap of the ‘old Noah’ hidden within the Noah of the present. He just wasn’t a likeable love interest for me and his constant use of ‘baby’ once he and Echo were a couple made me cringe.
Need I mention the ‘m’ word? When Noah started throwing that around things spiraled for me quickly. It was just so silly and gave me the impression that neither of the two had any real concept of the real world despite all the troubles and hardships they’d faced. Any respect I’d garnered for their relationship of their individual personalities was immediately washed away.
I won’t lie – this book was excruciatingly hard for me to get through. As soon as I’d put it down I’d have to muster all this motivation to pick it up again. I don’t like that feeling when dealing with contemporary reads. For me, contemps are a fun escape from the plot-heavy supernatural/fantasy YA’s I read. Pushing the Limits wasn’t exactly plot-heavy, but the plot it used was extremely predictable.
Without re-hashing too much, Pushing the Limits incorporates: a father’s re-marriage to his children’s babysitter, a crazy detached mum, a dead sibling, dead parents, the foster system and repressed memories. Not to mention a good chunk of the book is filled with counseling sessions and high-school politics. I wanted something fresh or offbeat, but sadly it didn’t eventuate in this book.
I wanted to be WOWED by this one so, so much. It just didn’t happen for me. I may continue on with the spin-off novels in the series, but I won’t be in any hurry.
Recommended to: If you have some interest in beginning this series, why not give it a go? It seems most people enjoy it. It is quite lengthy, however, so do your homework before going in.(less)
I found that Just One Year was a step up from its companion Just One Day. I slowly realised as the pages went by that I was becoming more and more i...more I found that Just One Year was a step up from its companion Just One Day. I slowly realised as the pages went by that I was becoming more and more invested in the story of Allyson and Willem, and that I truly wanted them to get their happy ending. Gayle Forman does an excellent job of pacing the two stories alongside each other as well. Though I knew where and how this one was going to end, Willem's journey was one worth reading.
Continuing on from my recent read of Just One Day, I decided to uncover Willem’s side of the story in the companion novel, Just One Year. Though I had a few problems with its predecessor, I was curious to find out what had occurred to Willem that morning in Paris and ultimately what transpired for him in the year that Allyson desperately tried to track him down.
Unlike Allyson’s story in Just One Year, we don’t see ‘the day’ through Willem’s eyes in this one. We begin with him waking up in the hospital that morning and we set off from there. It was interesting to delve deeper into this character, since I wasn’t too fond of him in the last book. I found that I was able to connect with him a bit better this time around.
Willem is so… complicated. Even though the story was told from his point of view, I never had a clear handle on what he really wanted, and I doubt he knew himself. Girls seemed to THROW themselves at him at every turn, too. I mean, girls stripped naked on a whim or began undressing him. I clearly remember Allyson stating that he wasn’t typically good looking, so I can only chalk it up to his ‘charisma’ or whatever else he’s got going for him. He’s not exactly a ‘player’ (he doesn’t enjoy it but seems to go along with it merely for company and doesn’t make any promises) but he never says no, either.
I found Willem’s journey to be more eventful, as there wasn’t a huge boring block of nothing as with Allyson’s story. Willem travels around the world constantly, meeting new and exciting people and making decisions on the fly. The guy even stars in a Bollywood film! He, like Allyson, tries to track down the person that made ‘that day’ so special and it’s SO frustrating when they come so close to finding each other (such as on the beach in Cancun) but miss the opportunity unknowingly.
I felt that Willem did a LOT more growing than Allyson. He learns to deal with the death of his father, the issues with his mother, how to be a better friend, realising that his family still exists and that he doesn’t have to keep running away. He actually puts some roots down (such as the Shakespeare play and the renovation of the apartment in Amsterdam). His growing is constant, too, unlike Allyson’s.
Probably my favourite part of this book was seeing how all the dots connected with Just One Day. We get to see things we only heard talked about to Allyson such as Willem’s night with Celine after ‘the day’ and learn just who that mysterious girl was at the end who seemed to be ‘in love’ with Willem. I loved the idea that what I’d read previously was currently taking place as I read this one and that Gayle Forman made sure to tip us off. Also loved the mention of Adam from her previous series, If I Stay. A nice touch!
I could’ve honestly kept reading Willem’s story. I was hoping and praying that we’d get some more time to see his and Allyson’s reunion at the end… but alas, it left off on the same note. I guess I’m going to have to wait for the upcoming the novella ’Just One Night’, for that!
Recommended to: If you read the first book, I highly recommend reading this one. It will make the story come full circle and give you a deeper understanding of the characters! The story is much larger than you think!(less)
The Fault in our Stars was a very compelling and addictive read, one that I enjoyed and was able to devour in practically one sitting. Although this...more The Fault in our Stars was a very compelling and addictive read, one that I enjoyed and was able to devour in practically one sitting. Although this book had hardly any time to settle into the long, bleak waiting room that is my Kobo E-Reader, I still feel that the story itself was just 'okay'.
The Fault in our Stars is one of those books everyone raves about - ugly crying, no less - so I knew that one day I would have to face it. I kept putting it off, however, because the horribly named 'sick lit' genre is just not my type of thing. My curiosity only grew, however, when promotional material began coming out for the movie - and what can I say? I couldn't hold back any longer.
Yes, I read this book in a matter of hours and enjoyed it, but I wasn't absolutely blown away by it. I found myself a tad annoyed at all the long-winded philosophies and such that were spewed out by our characters at every turn (at times I even felt like skimming those paragraphs or skipping them all together). I wanted more story. While I realise that probably isn't the best thing to wish for in this genre, and that I should have been expecting flowery reflections on life and the human condition, I came to a conclusion that I pretty much already expected... and that was that this little niche in the contemporary just wasn't (and isn't) ever going to be my thing.
Putting aside those qualms with the novel, I really enjoyed the relationship between Hazel and Augustus. I was not expecting the 'plot twist' (ahem, the ending) when I first began reading about them, although I did have my suspicions as I got deeper and deeper into the novel. I just didn't expect John Green to turn the story down that avenue at all.
While the whole 'Peter van Houten' side plot was at least a little interesting, I became bored of it and felt like I was reading something I already knew the ending to. I guessed that van Houten would be this weird, eccentric man and Hazel wouldn't get the ending she wanted. I knew he'd be a disappointment. The only thing I liked about his inclusion within the story was the way in which it affected Hazel and Gus's relationship.
Augustus Waters is truly a fantastic creation of a character. He was probably my favourite part of the book and I can't wait to see him portrayed on screen.
All in all, The Fault in our Stars was an enjoyable read, but it didn't 'blow me away' as promised by legions of fans. I did consider for a time giving it 4 stars, but the more I thought about it the more 'faults' (hah, a joke?) I found with it.
Recommended to: No doubt you've been recommended this book. If so, you will have to read it if only to make up your own mind about it. This book is perfect for readers wanting something quick and breezy before bedtime and not having to invest in a series.(less)
I was so torn on what to rate this book. On the one hand, Temptation was a book I could absolutely not put down from start to finis...more**spoiler alert**
I was so torn on what to rate this book. On the one hand, Temptation was a book I could absolutely not put down from start to finish. From the moment I picked it up, I was hooked. But, somewhere around the halfway mark, the main characters became extremely infuriating and the feminist part of me was ready to go on a rampage with the decisions that were made by our leading lady, Rose, and the possessiveness of our male lead, Noah.
Let me just point out that if a book has an incredible readability like this one, it’s a five-star rating hands down, or a four. For that reason, I was see-sawing on what to rate Temptation. I haven’t been able to read a book of this length all the way through in one sitting since Veronica Rossi’s Under The Never Sky, so imagine the thrill at finding another when I dipped back into my review ARC pile! Karen Ann Hopkins has the ability to weave a tale with no boring bits! Although there were MANY things I disagreed with (see rest of the review), I can’t say that this author made me bored in the slightest! The book had some serious star-quality and I’m sure that other readers out there will LOVE it. I want to say that I LOVED it too – because to a certain extent, I really did – but there were just some things I could not ignore when writing up my review.
I guess the main thing was that I seriously disagreed with the actions of the characters and the ‘message’ that this book sort of put across. Whether or not that message was intended, I’m not sure, but the feminist inside me was screaming at our leading lady, Rose. I know a lot of readers put down the Twilight series for being anti-feminist and teaching a generation to be dependent on men, but as a reader, I never found that to be the case. With Temptation, however, the issue of male dependency was always floating on the surface. I first thought Rose to be quite strong-willed and independently minded, although quite childish and naïve. But as she delves deeper into the relationship with Noah, the love interest, he soon manages to squash this out of her. Even though Rose – and the author - desperately try to convince us as readers that she’s so wild and free, her actions and decision-making severely contradict this. I’ll give a few examples a little further down.
I admit that I didn’t know THAT MUCH about the Amish culture before I read this book. My existing knowledge of their lifestyle mainly came from the movie For Richer or Poorer, haha, so in that regard, Temptation really taught me a lot as I read. But even though I ‘know’ that the Amish are quite segregated when it comes to men and women, I couldn’t help but get riled up at how Noah treated Rose even though she was ‘English’ and not born of that lifestyle herself. He was constantly trying to mould her to the ways of his people, even though the reason why he was drawn to her in the first place was because she was so different! He was constantly criticizing her sense of dress, her hobbies, etc.
Rose herself, as I mentioned, seemed initially to be quite strong and feminist herself, and although she had her doubts and got a little cranky at Noah for ordering her around and trying to reform her, she kept giving him what he wanted without much of a fight. This would have all been fine if he himself was willing to compromise, even if only away from the eyes of his family. It just seemed to me that Rose was the one who had to give up everything, even though she’d just lost her mother, and Noah didn’t have to give anything up. He had a lot to lose, but ultimately it was Rose making all the sacrifices. And she was fine with that!
Don’t even get me started about the conversation in the barn when Rose tells Noah she doesn’t think she can give up her life by marrying him and becoming Amish. I was cheering at Rose for finally taking a stand, but Noah takes it personally, making a jibe and saying that the only reason she’s refusing him is because she wants to continue dancing for the ‘English men’ - merely because she’s a jazz and ballet dancer. Rose then proceeds to slap Noah (hooray!) and he holds her hands down, fighting off aggression toward her. If I were in Rose’s position at that moment, I would be OUT OF THERE. For me, this was the final straw in really feeling for Noah and seeing him as ‘the cute love interest’. It was sad, because when the book started I actually quite liked him, and was intrigued by his and Rose’s growing relationship, but as he began to get more possessive and controlling, that was it.
What irked me most is that Rose seemed to pay it no mind. Ala Bella in New Moon, she spirals into depression after refusing Noah’s ultimatum. Should I just mention that this girl is only sixteen? Noah wants her to throw her life to the side, marry him and live in the Amish community, even asking her if he should get her pregnant in order for her father to consent. While Rose initially laughs this off, she even considers the idea later on. I just couldn’t stop shaking my head!
Yes, I can understand that these values are the only ones Noah has ever known, but he IS exposed to the outside world; his family hires drivers to take them to building sites, he drinks Mountain Dew when going to the gas station with friends, etc… so he should have SOME understanding about Rose’s life and her ideals. Instead, he keeps criticising her ‘people’ for being promiscuous (even her own father who is now moving on after his wife’s death) and Rose’s brother, and Rose just takes it! Sure, her brother Sam is a player, but she is constantly bagging him out to Noah and making Noah’s case legit. Don’t give him any more ammo, girl! And even if he’s being truthful, defend your family! They’re all you have left!
Another point that REALLY got on my nerves was toward the end when Noah was in hospital… After almost losing him, Rose tells him that she’s willing to convert to Amish. Noah, who had been ready to convert English, doesn’t even TELL her that he was willing to compromise HER way. He keeps his mouth shut, allowing Rose to give up everything and ‘take the victory’, so to speak. I wanted to quote the passage, but if you’ve read the book you know which one I’m talking about. To me, this really stuck out because it showcased practically all that I’ve mentioned about Noah’s character in one little portion.
I could ramble on about the things I didn’t like in this book all day, but I’m afraid it will detract from what I actually adored about the book. Believe me, it’s a good read – an enjoyable read – but I just couldn’t tuck away my personal feelings toward the whole ‘marriage and kids’ ideal and the boyfriend/husband being the controlling party. If you can suspend your own beliefs, or if you’re a little more non-critical, hopefully it won’t worry you as much as it did me.
At the heart of the book, it’s a story about love and overcoming obstacles to pursue that love. I’ve never before read a YA book focused on the Amish culture, so it’s definitely unique in that aspect and it’s what initially drew me to the book itself. There’s a lot of food for thought, too and I learnt a lot on the way. I only wish that Rose hadn’t annoyed me so much (I’m never more disappointed when reading to find a pseudo-independent female, sigh) and that she had proved to be what everyone ‘said’ she was. Noah at first was quite loveable and cheeky, but that soon turned on its head and I felt that really detracted from my initial enjoyment.
This book could have been tied up quite nicely (not too happy with the ending, but it obviously wasn’t going to happen any other way…) but at the end I found out there’s another in a series… not sure how that’s going to work, but I will definitely be reading it. It’s probably the first contemporary romance YA that I’ve read that isn’t a standalone.
I have so many thoughts on this book – too many to even add into this lengthy review! – but I WILL be continuing with the next book, as the sneak peak kind of indicates that there might be a compromise after all… Karen Ann Hopkins writes a compelling tale, one that is an enjoyable escape for the reader, so I can kind of forgive her for making me scream at the characters and their actions… for now! We’ll see what the next book brings, I guess!(less)