Pushing the Limits By Katie McGarry

Title: Pushing the Limits

Author: Katie McGarry

First Published: 1st July 2012

Publisher: Mira Ink

Blurb:

“I won’t tell anyone, Echo. I promise.” Noah tucked a curl behind my ear. It had been so long since someone touched me like he did. Why did it have to be Noah Hutchins? His dark brown eyes shifted to my covered arms. “You didn’t do that-did you? It was done to you?” No one ever asked that question. They stared. They whispered. They laughed. But they never asked.

So wrong for each other…and yet so right.

No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with “freaky” scars on her arms. Even Echo can’t remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal. But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo’s world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible.Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she’ll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again. (From Goodreads, 12th May 2014).

Review:

Firstly, before I begin this review I have a confession to make…it has been quite a few months since I read this book and although I remember most of what happens I am a little hazy on the details. For that I appologise.

However, I am still going to review this book as I really did enjoy it and know I will be getting the companion novels at some point in the future (maybe when my TBR pile is slightly smaller!) ‘Pushing The Limits’ presents us with two protagonists who are dealing with a lot for their ages, however, sometimes finding another who is going through a rough time is what you need to get through it. Echo is dealing with forgotten memories. Noah is dealing with the death of his parents. Both are dealing with high school…and a persistent school councilor.

This is a novel that deals with difficult issues whilst also being very readable and not too ‘dark’ making it fantastic for teens and young adults…and adults too. We have a little bit of everything in this novel that makes it very real and raw. Katie McGarry captures human emotions impeccably and gives readers an adventure through the eyes of two teenagers lives. A realistic and gripping novel. Highly recommended.

4.5 out of 5

Finding Emma By Steena Holmes

Title: Finding Emma

Author: Steena Holmes

First Published: March 14th 2012

Publisher: Amazon Publishing/Self Published

Blurb:

Megan sees her daughter Emma everywhere. She’s the little girl standing in the supermarket, the child waiting for the swings at the playground, the girl with ice cream dripping down her face. But it’s never Emma.

Emma’s been missing for two years.

Unable to handle the constant heartache of all the false sightings, Megan’s husband threatens to walk away unless Megan can agree to accept Emma is gone. Megan’s life and marriage is crumbling all around her and she realizes she may have to do the thing she dreads most: move on.

When Megan takes a photo of a little girl with an elderly couple at the town fair, she believes it to be her missing daughter. Unable to let go, she sets in motion a sequence of events that could destroy both families lives. (From Goodreads, 25th May 2014)

Review:
‘Finding Emma’ is a novel that struck me. It has reminded me of other novels, which unfortunately I cannot remember the name of, however, although I found this novel predictable it was still highly enjoyable. The book was well written and portrayed human emotions fantastically. This is a novel, along with it’s sequel ‘Emma’s Secret’ which I would recommend to individuals who want a quick read that is not overly complicated but has a gripping element, whilst also having a human element that makes the novel seem so believable.
A series to enjoy, especially this summer!
3.5 out of 5

Marina By Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Title: Marina

Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Publisher: W & N

First Published: 1999

Blurb:

In May 1980, 15-year-old Oscar Drai suddenly vanishes from his boarding school in the old quarter of Barcelona. For seven days and nights no one knows his whereabouts. His story begins in the heart of old Barcelona, when he meets Marina and her father German Blau, a portrait painter. Marina takes Oscar to a cemetery to watch a macabre ritual that occurs on the fourth Sunday of each month. At 10 a.m. precisely a coach pulled by black horses appears. From it descends a woman dressed in black, her face shrouded, wearing gloves, holding a single rose. She walks over to a gravestone that bears no name, only the mysterious emblem of a black butterfly with open wings. When Oscar and Marina decide to follow her they begin a journey that will take them to the heights of a forgotten, post-war Barcelona, a world of aristocrats and actresses, inventors and tycoons; and a dark secret that lies waiting in the mysterious labyrinth beneath the city streets. (From Goodreads, 1st December 2013)

Review:

I was very excited when I won a copy of ‘Marina’ By Carlos Ruiz Zafon after entering a Goodreads competition. I was a huge fan of ‘The Shadow of the Wind’ and ‘Angels Game’ both by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.

Marina is a dark Gothic style novel that will make your hair stand on end. This is a novel aimed for young adults but was still very chilling in my opinion, and many adults will enjoy this macabre novel. One of the reasons I really enjoyed ‘Marina’ was that the story was new to me. Many novels I read nowadays are either similar to ones I have read before or new takes on fairy tales. ‘Marina’ had a fresh new mystery, with new demons, new monsters, and a new setting. Maybe for Spanish readers this may not be the case, and some of this story reflects local folklore, but maybe not. But as an British reader, the ideas in ‘Marina’ were new to me.

Carlos Ruiz Zafon is a fantastic author, whose prose just draws you in. His writing style is high class, and simply beautiful. I cannot express how fantastic his writing is. If you haven’t read a novel by Carlos Ruiz Zafon you must pick one up. ‘Marina’ is maybe not as expressive as ‘Shadow of the Wind’ but I believe that to be due to the target audience of each book.

‘Marina’ is a fast paced novel and a quick read. We have love, loss, tragedy, mystery, horror, death, everything, it has everything. It is a book I suggest reading for Halloween, and a book I want everyone to get there hands on. I feel that I cannot really do justice in reviewing a book by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, as his books sing to me. I love them. I simply love them.

5 out of 5

Hold Still By Nina LaCour

Title: Hold Still

Author: Nina LaCour

First Published: 25th September 2009

Publisher: Dutton Juvenile

Blurb:

Devastating, hopeful, hopeless, playful . . . in words and illustrations, Ingrid left behind a painful farewell in her journal for Caitlin. Now Caitlin is left alone, by loss and by choice, struggling to find renewed hope in the wake of her best friend’s suicide. With the help of family and new-found friends, Caitlin will encounter first love, broaden her horizons, and start to realize that true friendship didn’t die with Ingrid. And the journal which once seemed only to chronicle Ingrid’s descent into depression, becomes the tool by which Caitlin once again reaches out to all those who loved Ingrid—and Caitlin herself. (From Goodreads, 21st November 2013)

Review:

‘Hold Still’ is a hard hitting novel dealing with the topic of suicide. Caitlin is dealing with the aftermath of her best friend, Ingrid’s, suicide. Caitlin has withdrawn from life and is dreading the return to school after the summer holidays. Her parents do not know how to help there grieving daughter and Caitlin does not know how to deal with her loss.

Upon finding Ingrid’s journal Caitlin begins to learn what went through her friends mind during those last months before she ended her life.

‘Hold Still’ was Nina LaCour’s debut novel and a brave novel at that. I was taken in by the rawness of this novel and the fact that this novel dealt with teen suicide – a topic that you do not find often. Nina captures the loneliness, the confusion, the loss and the grief Caitlin is battling whilst also expressing the depression that plagued Ingrid to eventually take her life. Understanding the differences between these two states is hard but Nina captures these different states very well.

This is a novel that although the main topic is morbid, and depressing, we have a novel of hope. Caitlin begins to deal with her loss by gaining friendship in unlikely places. By finding a task that helps remind her that there is a point, that she can keep going. That she is not the only person who has lost someone close to her.

This is a novel on a tricky subject and it is hard to know who would appreciate this subject. As a psychology student who’s main interest is in mental health, novels like this are very interesting to me. I find it enlightening that such novels are written for young adults and that it can open up the lines of communication so discussion about suicide can come about, and no longer brushed under the carpet. However, the subject matter is hard and I would advise caution to readers who are fragile, have recently had a loss, or are dealing with issues such as suicide and depression. But, on the other hand, this novel may help some gain insight and strength to help in dealing with the issues they are experiencing.

A brave novel which I highly recommend and I commend Nina LaCour in creating such a thought provoking read for young adults.

4 out of 5

The Program By Suzanne Young

Title: The Program

Author: Suzanne Young

Publisher: Simon Pulse

First Published: 30th April 2013

Blurb:

In Sloane’s world, true feelings are forbidden, teen suicide is an epidemic, and the only solution is The Program.

Sloane knows better than to cry in front of anyone. With suicide now an international epidemic, one outburst could land her in The Program, the only proven course of treatment. Sloane’s parents have already lost one child; Sloane knows they’ll do anything to keep her alive. She also knows that everyone who’s been through The Program returns as a blank slate. Because their depression is gone—but so are their memories.

Under constant surveillance at home and at school, Sloane puts on a brave face and keeps her feelings buried as deep as she can. The only person Sloane can be herself with is James. He’s promised to keep them both safe and out of treatment, and Sloane knows their love is strong enough to withstand anything. But despite the promises they made to each other, it’s getting harder to hide the truth. They are both growing weaker. Depression is setting in. And The Program is coming for them. (From Goodreads, 23rd May 2013)

Review:

For some reason I am struggling to write a review for this book. I really don’t know why. I loved the premise, I want to read the next book when it comes out, and I was very excited for this novel coming out.

So many good things about this but I disliked the amount of dialogue in the book. It really has reduced my enjoyment of the book. I wanted  love this book. But something is holding me back. I don’t know what, I really can’t work it out!

This is a book set in the future where suicide among teens is an epidemic. But the ‘cure’ (the program) can be feared by teens. Would you rather die with your memories? Or be happy without them? Do your memories make you who you are? Does love go past just memories?

There is a lot in this novel that I wanted to be explored further, but may this will happen in the second book in the series. I didn’t realise it was going to be a series.

Something about this book frustrated me, I can’t say I don’t like it, but can’t stay I love it! I don’t know how to review this.

I felt there was so many good ideas but nothing tackled in depth enough for me. It is a daring subject and one I am highly interested in. It is one I wish was seen more in the public eye. I am hoping so much that this series as a whole beings to settle my confusion.

The plot is good and exciting keeping you flicking through the pages, wanting to know what happens. If you want a story with a gritty side and a focus on love this is a book for you.

I can only give a 3 out of 5 because I really don’t know how I feel about this.

The Sea of Tranquility By Katja Millay

Title: The Sea of Tranquility

Author: Katja Millay

Publisher: Atria Books

First Published: 5th September 2012

Blurb:

live in a world without magic or miracles. A place where there are no clairvoyants or shapeshifters, no angels or superhuman boys to save you. A place where people die and music disintegrates and things suck. I am pressed so hard against the earth by the weight of reality that some days I wonder how I am still able to lift my feet to walk.

Former piano prodigy Nastya Kashnikov wants two things: to get through high school without anyone learning about her past and to make the boy who took everything from her—her identity, her spirit, her will to live—pay.

Josh Bennett’s story is no secret: every person he loves has been taken from his life until, at seventeen years old, there is no one left. Now all he wants is be left alone and people allow it because when your name is synonymous with death, everyone tends to give you your space.

Everyone except Nastya, the mysterious new girl at school who starts showing up and won’t go away until she’s insinuated herself into every aspect of his life. But the more he gets to know her, the more of an enigma she becomes. As their relationship intensifies and the unanswered questions begin to pile up, he starts to wonder if he will ever learn the secrets she’s been hiding—or if he even wants to. (From Goodreads, 7th March 2013)

Review:

Well the above blurb gives you a good idea about the books content so I will not summarize as I often do. This is a very well written book which flips between Nastya and Josh’s point of view. Both are damaged and you learn what has happened to them at a good pace, along with what happens between them. Friendship, love, pain, hurt. It is all there. This story gripped me. Nastya’s silence and Josh’s wish to be left alone bring these two damaged characters together. You will feel for them, and you wish for them to be okay. If you like ‘issue’ books this is one that you should buy and not regret.

4 out of 5