Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Review - Crash Into You - Katie McGarry

Crash into You (Pushing the Limits, #3)Title: Crash Into You
Series: Pushing the Limits #3
Author: Katie McGarry
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publication: November 1st 2013, Harlequin Teen
Pages: 474 Pages, Kindle
Source: Thank you to Netgalley for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review!
Rating: 4.5/5 Cupcakes!
From acclaimed author Katie McGarry comes an explosive new tale of a romance forged in the fast lane.
The girl with straight A's and the perfect life—that's who people expect Rachel Young to be. So the private school junior keeps secrets from her wealthy family…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 after the foster kid with the tattoos and intense gray eyes comes to her rescue, she can't get him out of her mind. 
The last thing Isaiah needs is to get tangled up with a rich girl who wants to slum it on the south side for kicks. But when their shared love of street racing puts their lives in jeopardy, Isaiah and Rachel will have six weeks to come up with a way out. Six weeks to discover just how far they'll go to save each other.

I have been marathoning all Katie McGarry's books lately! I read Pushing the Limits back as an arc when it was first published back in 2012 and while I really enjoyed it, it wasn't my favorite contemporary. Then I read Nowhere But Here (her latest release) two weeks ago and I LOVED it, like you know when you're completely in love with a book? That happened to me with Nowhere But Here! Then I decided to continue the PtL series and so I read Dare You To and OH MY GOSH MY MIND WAS BLOWN. That book just made me feel everything. I was like, 100% involved in that book constantly. 

And then I finished it and I was in a total book hangover. So then I thought, "Well, what's better way to recover from a Katie McGarry book than read another Katie McGarry book?" And while it helped slightly, I was still so caught up in Dare You To's story that I didn't feel as deeply emotionally connected to Crash Into You and I wasn't as absorbed in Rachel and Isaiah's story as compared to Beth and Ryan's story as I really just didn't ever want that book to end. Ever. It was still an excellent novel but there were a couple of things that kept me from fully loving it, but that was my own fault because Dare You To was just SO GOOD and I don't know how any book is going to top that this year to be honest.

Crash Into You is the third book in the Pushing the Limits series and shares the viewpoints of Isaiah Walker and Rachel Young! Isaiah is the notorious "bad boy", the guy with the earrings and the tattoos that scream "stay away". he feels unwanted and broken due to the continuous rejections he's had in his life and the upheaval he has faced due to being shifted from one foster home to the other. The only thing that makes Isaiah feel fully and completely whole is the cars he works on after school and the cars he sometimes races as well. One night at an illegal drag racing event, he meets private school girl Rachel Young, who puts on the facade of a perfect, sensible teenage daughter, meanwhile she's obsessed with cars and addicted to driving her Mustang at ridiculous speeds at night without her parents' consent. When Rachel makes what could potentially be a fatal mistake with the dangerous head of the drag racing community, Eric, Isaiah offers to help her earn the money that will pay off her fault. Throughout the course of the next six weeks, Isaiah and Rachel will form a deep, beautiful relationship that will prove to be unbreakable, as they give each other strength and - with the help of the other - to overcome the twisted turmoil simmering inside themselves, controlled by their personal demons.

I really enjoyed this book! I LOVE Isaiah, I really like Rachel, I loved the themes in this book and I loved the writing, however, there was just a couple of things I have complaints about that prevented me from fully loving Crash Into You. 

Firstly, I loved the concept of this almost secret kind of organisation where people gather on the streets to risk their lives at break-neck speeds for that intoxicating adrenaline high. I generally hate car books because they bore me to death, but Katie McGarry wrote in a way that I understood Rachel and Isaiah's passion. The way she wrote made me intrigued as well, as to why people would love cars so much and why they would want to experience that adrenaline of speeding. Those things I never understood before, but after reading Crash Into You, I get it. In fact, I started getting interested in cars myself and never did I think I would say that. Ever. 

I really loved the characters in this book, specifically Isaiah. I was SO excited to learn about Isaiah because I loved him so much in Pushing the Limits and Dare You To! Oh my gosh, when Beth broke his heart in DYT I just couldn't handle it I was like"MY POOR BABY". I just wanted to hug him and tell him that he was worthy and that he meant something to people. Isaiah believed that he was worthless, in a way, due to constant rejection he had faced in his life as a foster kid. He doesn't value himself at all and you could just see he was brimming with this burning desire to be loved. When he told the story of the tattoos and how he had to get the tattoos, and had to drink and smoke and get into fights, so that he could create this facade that would aid in his escapement of being bullied and threatened by people bigger and stronger than him, I teared up It was emotionally heartbreaking to see this toughened exterior stripped away and to see the raw pain emanating from him and OH MY GOSH THE FEELS. I just love Isaiah so much. Seriously. I want an Isaiah.

Another new character we were introduced to was Rachel. Rachel goes to a private school, is a straight A student and tries to be utterly perfect in the eyes of everybody. She was doing pretty well with that until she started getting extremely bad panic attacks due to her having to do speeches in public and she landed up in hospital because of the severity of her attacks.

Rachel is put under such pressure by her parents and her brothers as she is seen as the replacement in her family, to her older sister, Colleen, who died of leukemia before Rachel was born. She is completely aware that she has taken on the job that requires constantly pleasing her mother and being the perfect daughter: to be like how Colleen would've if she hadn't passed away. Rachel also has to deal with her four older brothers that are SO PROTECTIVE, she can't talk to guys let alone look at them without her brothers nearly attacking the poor kid. She basically can't do anything because she's seen as weak by her family due to her panic attacks. I could understand why they were so protective as their other sister had passed away and Rachel is such a valuable member of the family as she's seen as Colleen's replacement and she's the only girl and she's the youngest but GOSH, give the girl some breathing space.

So I could totally understand why Rachel felt like she had to be perfect and why she did the things she did, but one thing I didn't like about Rachel is that she did sometimes act quite weak. Not that that's the problem, because we all have our flaws and we all have some things that we don't cope with well, but I felt like because Rachel was so irritated by being treated like a weakling she should've been tougher. She fell apart at a lot of things and I believe that's why people believed she needed protecting and she would get so mad at people but (especially towards the beginning) she showed that she was quite naive and she gave people reasons to defend her.

She definitely grew throughout the book and became stronger towards the end. I admired her for standing up for what she believed in and having to strength to tackle her inner demons. I really liked Rachel and that's the only little thing I could think about her that I didn't really like! Rachel is probably the character I can relate to the most out of Katie McGarry's books, as she's quite shy and awkward and anxious like me so, hey, at least we have things in common.

We were also introduced to other characters in this novel, such as Rachel's four older brothers (I'm excited to read West's POV in the next book - I think that's going to be quite interesting!) and Abby, one of Isaiah's good friends. Oh my gosh, I LOVE Abby! You can see she's had a dark past that has threatened to consumer her and you could sense through Crash Into You that despite the resilient exterior, she is quite broken and needs someone to rely on. I can't WAIT to read Abby and Logan's story as I already ship them. That novella is going to be good guys, I can feel it. It was also interesting to meet Rachel's brothers and I look forward to reading from one of their perspectives next. I was actually surprised that Katie McGarry wrote from West's perspective, as he wasn't a character I really liked in Crash Into You - so it will be interesting to see if my thoughts on him change! 

Also: we got to see Beth, Ryan, Logan, Chris, Noah and Echo and it was AWESOME. It was like seeing long-lost friends again. Ahh! :')

The relationship between Rachel and Isaiah was absolutely adorable! I loved how they had complete opposite personalities, but how it ended up being perfectly as it balanced the two extremes. I loved how they were always there for one another, I loved how they cared so much for one other, I loved how with a single touch, a single gaze, a single word they could extend their safely stored strength to the other, in order for the other one to burn like an ignited flame in the dark: for them to feel warm, for them to feel worthy, for them to feel like with the other, they have a chance to fight against the thickening darkness that threatens to consume them. I'm just darn happy that Isaiah finally has someone who loves him unconditionally and that when Rachel is with Isaiah, she believes she can take on the world. It really was beautiful.

The only things I didn't really find favorable in Crash Into You, is that I didn't find this instalment as addicting and I didn't find myself completely absorbed in the story constantly, but I think that was because I was in a semi book-hangover/reading slump from Dare You To. I also thought that the romance was quite insta-lovey at first and that Rachel and Abby's friendship progressed too swiftly, but it made up for that when I continued reading and saw the beauty in Rachel and Isaiah's relationship and in Rachel and Abby's friendship. I think the relationships in this book became too intense too quickly, but other than that, it was pretty much perfect!

So overall, I found much pleasure in the third instalment in the enthralling Pushing the Limits series. I was extremely pleased that I was provided with the chance to gain more of an insight into Isaiah's world and that I had the chance to become acquainted with Rachel and Abby! The romance in this book was beautiful and after I closed the book, I found myself wishing that I had my own Isaiah because he's just too lovely. I loved the aspect of drag racing and the lengths to which some people will go to have an adrenaline high and it was incredibly interesting learning about cars and racing and all sorts. I highly recommend this book and this whole series in general, especially if you're a fan of intricately weaved background stories, happy endings and sizzling romances. READ THESE BOOKS. But Isaiah's mine, just sayin'. 

I give this book: 4.5/5 CUPCAKES!

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Saturday, 13 June 2015

Stacking the Shelves #79

Stacking the Shelves

Helloooo everybody!

My holidays are over on Wednesday and although I'm quite sad about it, I'm looking forward to challenging myself with some more maths and chemistry! Because I'm a nerd and I actually enjoy stuff like that.

This past week has been quite interesting! I actually cooked a proper meal for the first time in my life and it was EDIBLE. No one was food poisoned and the house wasn't burnt down, so I consider that quite a successful cooking endeavor.

I've also been lucky to get some physical copies in recent weeks, so here are the few I've gotten. I'm really excited to read them all!:
As well as:

SQUEEE! I've heard amazing things about this classic, so I can't wait to read it in preparation for Go Set a Watchman!

I bought these on my trip to the bookshop straight after my last exam had ended! I can't provide pictures of the physical copies as all my books have been packed away, so I'll just put the Goodreads cover images:
Hunting Lila (Lila, #1)The Reptile Room (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #2)The Miserable Mill (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #4)Have a Little Faith (Faith, #1)The Summer I Turned Pretty (Summer, #1)Flipped

Books From the Library:
Time Between Us (Time Between Us, #1)Eleanor & ParkWhy We Broke UpAn Abundance of KatherinesWill Grayson, Will GraysonThe Illustrated A Brief History of Time/The Universe in a Nutshell

SQUEEEEEE! For a change my library had AMAZING books in! I can't wait to read them all!

Netgalley Books:
 Never Always SometimesThey Call Me Alexandra GastoneEverything, EverythingLegacy of Kings (Blood of Gods and Royals, #1)


So these are all the books I've gotten in the past few weeks! I think I've missed out on some as these are the only recent ones I can remember. Oops.

If you have read these, or if you want to read these, let me know in the comments! Which books have you hauled recently?
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Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Review - Nowhere But Here - Katie McGarry

Nowhere But Here (Thunder Road, #1)Title: Nowhere But Here
Series: Thunder Road #1
Author: Katie McGarry
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publication: May 26th 2015, Harlequin Teen
Pages: 496 Pages, Kindle
Source: Thank you to Netgalley and Harlequin Teen for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review!
Rating: 5/5 Cupcakes, but really, I'd give it an infinity amount of cupcakes. YES IT WAS JUST THAT GOOD.
An unforgettable new series from acclaimed author Katie McGarry about taking risks, opening your heart and ending up in a place you never imagined possible.
Seventeen-year-old Emily likes her life the way it is: doting parents, good friends, good school in a safe neighborhood. Sure, she's curious about her biological father—the one who chose life in a motorcycle club, the Reign of Terror, over being a parent—but that doesn't mean she wants to be a part of his world. But when a reluctant visit turns to an extended summer vacation among relatives she never knew she had, one thing becomes clear: nothing is what it seems. Not the club, not her secret-keeping father and not Oz, a guy with suck-me-in blue eyes who can help her understand them both. 
Oz wants one thing: to join the Reign of Terror. They're the good guys. They protect people. They're…family. And while Emily—the gorgeous and sheltered daughter of the club's most respected member—is in town, he's gonna prove it to her. So when her father asks him to keep her safe from a rival club with a score to settle, Oz knows it's his shot at his dream. What he doesn't count on is that Emily just might turn that dream upside down. 
No one wants them to be together. But sometimes the right person is the one you least expect, and the road you fear the most is the one that leads you home.

WARNING: This is a review filled with squealing and fangirling. Proceed at your own caution.

GUYS. THIS BOOK. It was amazing, it was flawless, it was stupendous, it was...basically every adjective for freaking awesome. When I saw the blurb for this book I knew that I was going to fall absolutely in love with it and I WAS RIGHT. This book blew me away and I can safely say that it's one of my new favorites. 

Nowhere But Here is about seventeen year old good girl Emily whose quick trip to her biological father's home town turns into an extended vacation filled with motorcycle gangs and clubs, family secrets and the devastatingly handsome Oz. Emily believes she knows what has happened with her family, she believes she knows why her dad didn't bother seeing her very much, she believes she knows who she is and she believes that the motorcycle gang is exaggerating the dangers of the opposing motorcycle gang that are venturing into the Reign of Terror's (the motorcycle club her biological father is part of) territory. However, Emily is about to learn about her concealed past, about her mom and dad's past and the horde of secrets that are beginning to seep out, with the help of Oz - the biker assigned to protect her - Emily soon unveils the secrets she's been dying to find out.

That wasn't a very good description, was it? But seriously this book is EPIC. That's what originally drew me in: the whole concept of this book. I've always found bikers to be terrifying and mysterious, but I think I've always secretly harbored a large interest in them as they're something unknown, something feared and slightly elusive as well and I found that aspect highly interesting. Through reading this book I got to experience the life of being with the "bad boys" and embrace my tough, biker side...haha just kidding, I don't have one of those, I like pink and fluffy animals and motorbikes scare me. But seriously, Katie McGarry did a great job in portraying bicycle clubs, what they stand for, the loyalty, the protectiveness, the family aspect. I just found the whole thing - the intrigue and the danger - so exhilarating. 

She did a fantastic job creating the atmosphere to do with motorcycle clubs, the mysteriousness, the perils, the euphoria of being a part of something so steadfast and loyal. There's often this stigma about bikers, that they're cruel, felons and breakers of the law, and although Katie McGarry doesn't sugarcoat the violence and the activities that can happen between clubs and within them, she also displays their affection, their views, their values and how they would lay down their life for the people they love. 

I loved the characters, they were absolutely amazing and I just love, love, LOVE them! They all have such unique voices and are so distinguishable from the other and they're all so genuine and have their flaws and are so real and UGH, someone hold me! *faints* 

We have Emily, daughter of Eli, the most respected man in the club. Emily is basically club royalty (I found this so fascinating! She was basically like the princess of the motorcycle club and it was so adorable how protective the people of the club were over her!) yet she isn't really aware of this because she hasn't fully grasped the club's dynamics (I loved how we figured out the club's activities and their rules and their foundation alongside Emily - it made the story so much more exciting!). 

Emily is one of my new favorite female characters. She's smart, she's sassy, she doesn't just accept things and challenges news and facts that are thrown at her - which is often lacking in YA - and she is incredibly genuine. I love how Katie McGarry allows Emily to have insecurities and expose her vulnerabilities. It's like Emily is terrified of the dark and the woods due to a traumatic incident in her childhood and she fainted when all the news of the club and her origins was thrown at her. I really appreciated that McGarry allowed Emily to faint because often in YA books the female characters are seen as "weak" if they faint, but I like that this happened as it's realistic and it makes Emily seem even more real because people in real life faint! It doesn't mean you're weak, it just means that you're a REAL PERSON. But yes, I totally adored Emily! 

I also admired her that she was still a virgin and that she didn't just want to give that away to anyone, even someone who she's totally in love with at the time. She would rather wait it out. Virginity is treated like nothing in books (generally) and characters are generally ashamed if they haven't yet had sex, but there are some people that do want to wait and I appreciated it that Emily was one of those people. So thank you, Katie McGarry, for writing a book where a female protagonist knows the repercussions having sex and respects herself enough to wait longer.

I also loved Oz, like I was literally in love with him. He's just so amazing and WHY CAN'T HE BE REAL?!?! Oz has like this bad biker boy vibe about him but he cares so much about his family and friends, he's so loyal, he'll protect the people that he was best friends with before even though they've wronged them. He's also really good with old people and kids, especially disabled kids. It was really heartwarming how he would take time to include children, especially ones with special needs. I also like how he respects Emily and never pushes her further than what she wants to do, which was very gentlemanly of him. He never tried taking advantage of her and he was so nice to her and I just really love him a lot.

Then there's Eli, Emily's biological dad that we don't originally have a good impression of after he "abandoned" Emily and her mom. When I first met Eli, I was quite weary of him due to the way Emily first described him intially but I grew to absolutely love him! He is so protective over Emily and her mother that he would lay down his life for them. I love how much he cared for Emily and I love how they became so close during Emily's visit there and you could just SEE how much it pained him that he had missed out on so much of Emily's life. And the reason for the stars on his arm?! SO FREAKING ADORABLE I JUST WANT TO CRY.

One of the other main characters that we are introduced to is Olivia, Eli's mother. I really liked her, she was so sassy, so brave, funny and determined. You could see she didn't give a hoot about what people thought about her and that nothing would stop her of getting to know Emily and telling her the secrets of her past. *Spoiler*When Olivia had a fit and when she died I started crying because it was such a shock that somebody brimming with so much life could seize to exist. In someway Katie McGarry allowed us to feel the shock of Olivia's death alongside the other characters. Even though we knew it was inevitable, we wanted to remain ignorant to the fact that she was dying.*Spoiler*

I also loved Emily's mom and her stepdad! They were such a close family and I appreciated that they were actively involved in Emily's life and set boundaries for her, as parental guidance is somewhat lax in YA books. Emily's stepdad was so nice though and you could see how much they loved and cared for each other - it was adorable!

OOH AND THE ROMANCE. The romance was brilliant! At first they both know the other would cause them nothing but trouble and initially they really don't like each other but you could just feel the chemistry sizzling between the two! However, despite the physical attraction between the them, you could see that they genuinely loved and cared deeply for the other and that shone throughout the book. But yes, I shipped them so hard. Like, #Ozily is my new OTP.

I loved the plot, as I've said before. I also loved finding out all the hidden secrets about Emily throughout the course of the novel. That ending?! Did not see that coming at all. This book kept me gripped the whole way through and there wasn't a singular moment of boredom!

The writing is lovely as well. Katie McGarry captures the thoughts and feelings of Emily and Oz perfectly, as well as the emotions of the other characters throughout. Also? Her romance scenes are flawless.

Overall, I am absolutely in love with Nowhere But Here! The high expectations I had were met and even exceeded. The characters were diverse and genuine, the romance was sizzling with chemistry, the plot was utterly fantastic as well as unique (I've never read a motorcycle club book before!) and it was just everything I look for in a novel. The family and friendship dynamics were portrayed beautifully and the novel was rife with loyalty, love and protectiveness. This book just made me so incredibly happy and I just loved it so much and it's one of my new favorites and JUST GO READ IT ALREADY.

I give it: 5/5 CUPCAKES!

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