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

The Shock of the Fall By Nathan Filer

Title: The Shock of the Fall

Author: Nathan Filer

First Published: May 8th 2013

Publisher: Harper Collins

Blurb:

‘I’ll tell you what happened because it will be a good way to introduce my brother. His name’s Simon. I think you’re going to like him. I really do. But in a couple of pages he’ll be dead. And he was never the same after that.’ (From Goodreads, 25th May 2014)

Review:

‘The Shock of the Fall’ is a novel that is best to go into without knowing much about it, so I am going to keep this review short and sweet. ‘The Shock of the Fall’ is Nathan Filer’s debut novel and takes on the complexities of describing the world through the eyes of an individual with mental health problems. This novel interweaves the past and present to build a picture, a movie, a story of one families life. This is a novel that is elegantly written and captures real people. Nathan Filer makes you feel for his characters and understands humans more than most, no wonder this novel won Costa Book of the Year 2013.

This is a novel I highly recommend.

4.5 out of 5

Other People By Kelly O’Callan

Title: Other People

Author: Kelly O’Callan

First Published: 7th March 2014

Publisher: Createspace

Blurb:

Painfully shy and socially awkward, Ginny avoids engaging in a world filled with “other people” as best as she can. After a failed suicide attempt, Ginny is diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and begins a journey towards improving her distraught life. In her quest to fit in among other people, Ginny studies the behaviors of her picture-perfect new neighbors, Jim and Nina, and tries her best to mimic their life skills. But, will Ginny’s attempts to be one of the other people help her fit into their world, or send her crashing back deeper into the dark, isolated world she is desperately trying to escape? (From Goodreads, 12th May 2014)

Review:

‘Other People’ is about Ginny and the way her life begins to change after her new neighbor, Jim, finds her during a suicide attempt. In arriving at hospital Ginny begins the process of therapy and is diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder.

‘Other People’ is the first fiction novel that I have read about Borderline Personality Disorder and there were both good and bad things in this book. Firstly, this book acknowledged the true complexities and extreme emotions an individual suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder is inflicted with on a daily basis. It highlights what can appear like a simple situation to most people can be devastating for an individual suffering with this disorder.

Another aspect that I enjoyed about this novel is that it had a regular story line that intertwined friendships, relationships, and their complexities and further complexities by bringing in an individual dealing with emotional instability.

However, I was not happy with the fact the psychiatrist in the novel described Ginny as a ‘borderline’. It really feels, to me, that those with Borderline Personality Disorder are ‘borderline’ and ‘borderline’ alone. Further, he describes such individuals in such a diagnostically list like manner, simply explaining ‘borderlines’ alongside diagnostic criteria. Although this is important to understand individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder it just didn’t feel ‘real’ to me.

This novel is the first of what I hope will be many novels that deal with personality disorders and the complexities they add to individuals suffering from them. Further, this novel begins to challenge the idea that individuals with personality disorders cannot get better, a debate that is long running in psychology and psychiatry circles. However, many individuals learn to deal with emotions and begin to lead successful lives.

4 out of 5.

Willow By Julia Hoban

Title: Willow

Author: Julia Hoban

First Published: 2009

Publisher: Speak

Blurb:

Seven months ago on a rainy March night, Willow’s parents drank too much wine at dinner and asked her to drive them home. But they never made it–Willow lost control of the car, and both of her parents were killed.

Now seventeen, Willow is living with her older brother, who can barely speak to her. She has left behind her old home, friends, and school. But Willow has found a way to survive, to numb the new reality of her life: She is secretly cutting herself.

And then she meets Guy, a boy as sensitive and complicated as she is. When Guy discovers Willow’s secret, he pulls her out of the solitary world she’s created for herself, and into a difficult, intense, and potentially life-changing relationship. (From Goodreads, 12th May 2014).

Review:

‘Willow’ was one of those novels that helped get me out of a reading slump, however, ‘Willow’ is not the greatest book I have read focusing on self-injury. On the other hand, for a novel aimed at teenagers this deals well with a topic many individuals do not understand whilst also dealing with love, death, loss, stress, friendships and much more ‘life stuff’.

Willow is a girl who blames herself for the death of her parents, whilst also feeling like a burden to her older brother and his wife and baby cousin. Both Willow and her brother have not yet come to terms with the sudden death of their parents or the sudden changes in their living arrangements. Willow cuts herself to help escape the true pain she is feeling inside, it is the only way she manages to cope with life. However, soon her life begins to spiral out of her control when Guy, a boy from school who quickly enters her life, finds out that Willow cuts herself. We soon follow this relationship, through ups-and-downs and watch how life begins to change for both individuals who each carry the knowledge of Willows cutting.

As I said above, I have read other novels regarding the topic of self-injury that I preferred, but this may be due to two things. Firstly, I read a lot of books on this topic when I was in my teenage years, and therefore know the formula. Second, I have also read many books about self-injury aimed at adult audiences, and also researched a lot about self-injury, which includes case examples and memoirs. Therefore, having such a knowledge, and having exhausted (at the time) many of the books focusing on self-injury aimed at teenagers during my teenage years I may be slightly harsh compared to other readers. For that I appologise.

I did enjoy ‘Willow’ as it was fast paced and Julia Hoban successfully incorporated Willows life into the novel with self-injury not being the main focus, which is nice. It reminds you that individuals who self-injure have a life with stresses and why these stresses result in self-injury. We have a teenager who is going through many ‘normal’ teenage stresses, such as a new school, exams, making friends, whilst also dealing with more extreme difficulties, such as her parents death.

‘Willow’ is a novel that tactfully addresses many hard hitting issues and some more run of the mill teenage issues without belittling them or over exaggerating them. It is because of this that makes ‘Willow’ a believable and human novel. It also means I feel able to recommend ‘Willow’ to individuals who self-injure, friends  and family of individuals who self-injure, and also those who are interested in mental health related fiction. This is a novel that as a teenager I would have loved to have found in the school or local library, just simply because it reminds you that you are not alone. Novels that deal with difficult issues specifically aimed at teenagers are so important and valuable, no matter what the topic, just to give someone even a small amount of strength to find the help and advice so many of us need.

However, for me this novel is only a 3.5 out of 5 stars, but I would imagine if I read this novel when I was in my teenage years (and mot my mid twenties) I would have given it 4 to 4.5 stars.

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

The Silver Linings Playbook By Mathew Quick

Title: The Silver Linings Playbook

Author: Mathew Quick

Publisher: Sarah Crichton Books

First Published: 2nd September 2008

Blurb:

Meet Pat. Pat has a theory: his life is a movie produced by God. And his God-given mission is to become physically fit and emotionally literate, whereupon God will ensure a happy ending for him — the return of his estranged wife Nikki. (It might not come as a surprise to learn that Pat has spent time in a mental health facility.) The problem is, Pat’s now home, and everything feels off. No one will talk to him about Nikki; his beloved Philadelphia Eagles keep losing; he’s being pursued by the deeply odd Tiffany; his new therapist seems to recommend adultery as a form of therapy. Plus, he’s being hunted by Kenny G! (From Goodreads, 1st December 2013)

Review:

I initially saw ‘The Silver Linings Playbook’ film adaption, and thus the film will have barged it’s way into my reading experience, despite my attempts to avoid this happening. So I will say my review is slightly contaminated with the film adaption, and please keep that in mind!

When Pat returns to his parents home he must begin to deal with his time in a mental health facility, what instigated his stay and how to move forward in his life. The problem is, Pat’s main focus is in trying to win back his ex wife. He starts reading all the novels she teaches her school kids, has become athletic and has attempted to make himself the husband he thinks will bring his wife back.

I really enjoyed ‘The Silver Linings Playbook’ due to the fantastic characters. Firstly, Pat and his true determination to improve himself, despite the slightly misguided intentions. Tiffany, as damaged as Pat, with an abrupt personality that continues to shock. Pat’s therapist is a man who entertains and is an avid Eagles fan just like Pat. It is these characters that make the book. If it wasn’t for them I don’t think I would have enjoyed it.

The book is written in quite a simplistic style, with Pat as the narrator, and sometimes it is slightly monotonous as it sometimes appears to be lists of activities. However, I think this is Mathew Quick (the author) trying to emulate the childish nature of Pat, in which case it is a good narrative tool. My other issue was the constant talk about the Eagles matches. Being female, with little interest in sport, this just causes frustration. But, it is Pat’s character and is integral to the culture in which Pat belongs.

A book that deals with multiple issues, brings humor into some dark situations, shows determination, and strength of character.

Again I must reiterate that I saw the film first, and that has affected my reading of this novel. However, I really enjoyed this novel, despite the film taking away my ability to use my imagination.

A book that many will enjoy.

4 out of 5

The Iron Daughter By Julie Kagawa

Title: The Iron Daughter

Author: Julie Kagawa

Publisher: Mira Ink

First Published: January 1st 2010

Blurb:

Half Summer faery princess, half human, Meghan has never fit in anywhere. Deserted by the Winter prince she thought loved her, she is prisoner to the Winter faery queen. As war looms between Summer and Winter, Meghan knows that the real danger comes from the Iron fey—ironbound faeries that only she and her absent prince have seen. But no one believes her.

Worse, Meghan’s own fey powers have been cut off. She’s stuck in Faery with only her wits for help. Trusting anyone would be foolish. Trusting a seeming traitor could be deadly. But even as she grows a backbone of iron, Meghan can’t help but hear the whispers of longing in her all-too-human heart.(From Goodreads, 14th November 2013)

Review:

It has been nearly a year since I read “The Iron King” and I have no idea why I waited so long to pick up “The Iron Daughter” but I am so glad that I finally did. I had read some negative reviews saying it was just a love story. But I found that despite the teen romance going on there was a lot of adventure keeping me interested and reading late into the night. In “The Iron King” Meghan is attempting to save her little brother from the the Iron King, and just discovering the world of Faery. In “The Iron Daughter” Meghan is implicated in a much bigger adventure that affects all those that live in the Never Never.

I will not write any more about the actual plot as I do not want to spoil either the first or second books in this series for anyone. However, this novel is great and I would highly recommend it for teenage girls. We have romance, but not too much, yes there is some bits I thought ‘can’t we just get on with the story!?!?!’ but that is me, I prefer the action. Despite this, there is plenty of action to keep you entertain, plenty of mysteries, and pangs of doubt, because we all know Faeries are mischievous!

For a young adult novel I find that both “The Iron King” and “The Iron Daughter” are well thought out and have a great deal of imagination within the pages. Julie Kagawa has created a world I love, with characters that you love, and characters you are simply terrified off. Julie Kagawa has created novels that I think many teenage girls would love and could get reluctant readers to sit down and escape into the narrative.

4 out of 5

Adorkable By Sarra Manning

Title: Adorkable

Author: Sarra Manning

Publisher: Atom

First Published: 24th May 2012

Blurb:

Welcome to the dorkside. It’s going to be a bumpy ride…

Jeane Smith’s a blogger, a dreamer, a dare-to-dreamer, a jumble sale queen, CEO of her own lifestyle brand and has half a million followers on twitter.

Michael Lee’s a star of school, stage and playing field. A golden boy in a Jack Wills hoodie.

They have nothing in common but a pair of cheating exes. So why can’t they stop snogging? (From Goodreads, 21st August 2013)

Review:

Adorkable is a cute book that does exactly what it says. It is about two people from different social scenes who begin to a lustful relationship which neither can explain.

A novel told from both Jeane’s and Michael’s point of view which allows us to get into the minds of both teenagers. Michael is on his way to success, the picture perfect family and perfect grades. Jeane stands out from the crowd but because of her individuality she has managed to become a success. Jeane blogs and tweets, and millions follow her. She talks at conferences. She writes for newspapers, for magazines. She is a success, yet Michael finds it hard to see past her eccentric fashion sense. But when their boyfriend and girlfriend are cheating a connection appears. This is a simple novel that will take you through a relationship that grows despite the characters many differences. We see both characters deal with issues and grow within themselves.

This is a novel that is worth a read when you would something light, quirky and fun. This is a cute book which was excellent when I needed something that didn’t take too much concentrating to follow. One for teenage girls who want a slightly quirky romance.I would say those who enjoyed The Future of Us By Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler will enjoy Adorkable.

3.5 out of 5