Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Pushing the Limits Read-A-Long: Week One

This is an amazing event hosted by Candace Book Blog, Dazzling ReadsPageTurnersBlog, The Book Swarm and The Bewitched Bookworms. I really enjoyed Pushing the Limits and I cannot wait to participtate more. Here is my review.

Every week we get to discuss different parts of the book and there is an oppurtunity to win in a giveaway. Yay!

If you want to take part all you need is a copy of the book (it is out today in the USA) and a platform to post on. Sound good? Head on over to The Bewitched Bookworms blogs. Link above.

Here are my answers to this weeks questions.

1.The story starts out with Echo’s thoughts on how she wants to answer her therapist’s questions (snarky, caustically truthful) which are quickly juxtaposed to how she does (milquetoasty and banal). Who do you think she hides the truth for more, her parents or herself?

Bam first question. And it is a toughie. What no warm up guys? Ok. I think it is a mixture of both. It is obvious she is hiding the truth from her parents as she was outright lying to them. But I think she is hiding the truth from herself more. Discovering the truth means thinking about it and she doesn’t seem to want to do that. She seems to elude a confidence that she knows what is right and everyone else is wrong. She has closed herself off.
2.We see Mrs. Collins, the school therapist, interact with both Echo and Noah in the first few chapters. From those interactions, what do you think of her? Is she a prototypical caricature of state care? Or do you think she’s there to make an honest difference in the lives of those she’s there to help?

From those early interactions I thought she was there for genuine reasons. She wasn’t your typical therapist. She seemed to do things outside of the book, if only slightly; her choice of decorations in the room for example. In her meeting with Noah, who was not with guardians, she showed she cared and not just putting on an act.
3.Noah has two friends, Beth and Isaiah, who have his back no matter what--through thick and thin--and he has theirs. Consequently, his life is a little easier because he has two people who know about his situation. Echo only has one close friend, and Lila will barely speak to her in school.
Do you think Echo would have had an easier time coping and moving on if she had friends like Noah does?

Most definitely. Echo is not comfortable with who she currently is. Noah has accepted, somewhat, the person he has become and I think his friends helped. Echo’s friends weren’t encouraging her to move on but to revert back to who she was before, which was not going to happen after her traumatic past.
4 . Echo fixates on a colorful ribbon that sits on the school counselor's desk during their one-on-one sessions.
Do you think this is a case of "Oh, look at the pretty ribbon. Let me zone out while staring at it" , or could it have a deeper significance?

When something is mentioned in a book that seems to be insignificant, I always focus on and try to remember it. More often than not these things are not as insignificant as they first appear. I say it has a deeper significance.
5 .) Noah and the jacket... Already when Noah and Echo meet for the first time, Noah got angry when Echo forgot her Jacket (pg 34). Then on Echo’s Birthday party Noah gave Echo his jacket when he saw that she forgot hers (pg 54). There is a significance behind his anger when Echo has no coat and it tells already so much about Noah!

a) Why do you think is Noah so focused on Echo and her Jacket and what does that tell you about Noah's character?

It tells me Noah has a caring side. If he didn’t care about Echo catching cold he wouldn’t have bothered offering. It was that moment I noticed his character start to change.
b) Show us your favorite jacket! Either with you having it on or alone!

My leather jacket. This wasn’t cheap but it has lasted for many years and I love it.

6. Echo wears gloves all the time to hide her scars. Not only for her sake, but obviously also for the others. When Noah sees Echo’s scars for the first time he’s shocked.

a) Do you think this was the moment he began to see Echo in a different light?

For sure. That was the moment Noah realised that Echo hasn’t had a happy time in her past either. Many rumours had been going round about Echo but that was the moment Noah knew something serious had happened and she is not that different from him.
b) Show us your favorite pair of gloves!

I don’t like wearing gloves. I only wear them when it is snowing and they aren’t particularly nice looking. They are purely for practical reasons.


Teaser Tuesdays #14

This week's teaser is from Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas, the first book in the Throne of Glass series.

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) by Sarah J. Maas
'"Watch your mouth before I throw you back in the mines," the brown-eyed captain said.
"Oh, I don't think you'd do that."
"And why is that?" Chaol replied.
Dorian strode to his throne and sat down, his sapphire eyes bright. She looked from one man to another and squared her shoulders. "Because there's something you want from me, something you want badly enough to come here yourselves."- Loc 150 (Kindle)
*This is a quote from an digital ARC so may not be the same in the finished copy*

I know it is a little long but this is a quote, for me, that drew me into the book.


Monday, 30 July 2012

Book Review: Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

Title: Pushing the Limits
Author: Katie McGarry
Publisher: HarlequinTEEN
Pages: 384
Release Date: 31st July 2012
Read In: July 2012

*This is a review of a eARC. Thanks to Harlequin and Netgalley for the review copy.*
"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.

This book is a contemporary. This means lots of character development and not a lot of plot. I usually still enjoy the book if the characters are connectable, real and I develop an attachment to them. While I may not be completely in love with them, I still felt a connection. 

‘My father is a control freak. I hate my stepbrother, my brother is dead and my mother has … well … issues. How do you think I’m doing?’

What I enjoyed most about this book is how compatible Echo and Noah are for each other. They are both so similar even if they are in slightly different situations. But they both want the same thing; to be ‘normal’. What is ‘normal’ that is the question?

What I love is that both characters change. In many contemporaries it is just about the one character being changed by the other. Here both characters go on their own journey. They need each other.

Oh Noah, you broke my heart. You cannot blame him for who he is after everything he has been through. I’m such a sucker for a tragic character. Noah has been through so much. He has to cope with death, separation and the care system. My first impression of Noah is he is very laddish. A reference to a particular area of the woman’s body showed that. He was also childish and a bit of a cliché ‘bad boy’. But soon we discover his deeper more emotional side. And you start to fall for him. And his brothers are also adorable. 

 Not only do we get one tragic character but two. Echo has been through her own turmoil too; mental health, divorce and image. But Echo grows as a person. At the beginning she has strong beliefs on people’s motives and personalities. Her journey is learning to get over those prejudices and discovering the truth. Echo needs to establish her identity. The events that occurred before the book have left Echo scarred. She has lost herself and the person she used to be. While I didn’t connect with Echo as much as I did with Noah she is still a great character to follow. 

This book wasn’t all about the romance. That was established relatively quickly. It is a story about how these two characters help each other out in their inner battles. While I absolutely loved them as a couple, the romance did get a little sappy in places and a little cliché. It detracts from the realism, in my opinion, because do people really talk like that? I felt like I had entered a fairy tale some of the time. 

Oh and Grace is a cow; just saying.

Pushing the Limits is one of my favourite styles of contemporary; two messed up people helping each other through. So many tough topics are discussed in this book. Don’t expect anything light hearted. Apart from the slightly corny moments, this was a great read that drew me into the characters and their lives. A must read for contemporaries fans. 


Reading Plan #12

On the Blog Last Week 
What I Have Just Finished
Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry
I just finished this book yesterday and while it didn't blow me away I still really enjoyed it. Expect a review up soon. 

 Currently Reading

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) by Sarah J. Maas

I haven't read much of it yet but I am enjoying it so far. 

To Read Next
Losing Lila (Lila #2) by Sarah Alderson

 Ok I am taking a bit of a risk with putting this here because I haven't got the book yet. I am supposed to receive the book today. Hopefully it hasn't gotten lost.

Once Burned (Night Prince #1) by Jeaniene Frost

 This is my back up if Losing Lila doesn't arrive. Even if it does arrive it is what I want to read second. My friend read this while we were on holiday. She couldn't stop laughing so I am hoping that is a good sign. 


Saturday, 28 July 2012

Universal Studios and Wizarding World!

At about 8:30 am on 19th July 2012, I, tired and jet-lagged, arrived in London Gatwick airport; home from a holiday in Florida, USA with my family and one of my friends. Just over a week on I think I am still jet-lagged, or suffering from insomnia. I do not know which. Let’s just say baggy eyes are not an attractive look. But I regret nothing. I had an amazing time in Florida and a bit of sleep deprivation is worth it.

As I said earlier I went on holiday for ten days. The last seven of which I met up with family down in Naples where we went shopping, ate in restaurants and, of course, lounging around reading books. But I am not going to talk about that. No, I am going to tell you about the first two days of my holiday, spent in Orlando.

I arrived, tired and jet-lagged (there is a pattern here), at the Portofino hotel near Universal Studios at 9:00 pm. It felt like 2 am. I just wanted to sleep. Even though we wanted to go to Island of Adventures ASAP, we decided we would go to Universal Studios first. It had a later opening time.

 As we were staying in a Universal studios hotel we got free Express passes (skip the queues) and early entry. Universal studios opened at 9 am but we got in at 8 am. It is a very surreal feeling to walk into a theme park and there is hardly anyone around. Our tactics: to go on all the popular rides first. We only had two days to do as much as possible. 

My friend Izzy (right) and I (left).
In front of the Hogwarts.
We are wearing our house t-shirts.
Hollywood rock-it roller-coaster is one of not the most popular rides at the park. The queues were ridiculous at midday so good thing we got on early. At 8:45 am we had a one minute wait max. We walked on to the ride and, oh boy, it was intense. I also loved the MiB: Alien Attack, Despicable Me and the Shrek 4-D. It was disappointing to see that Jaws was closed down but considering the water rides we went on the next day maybe it wasn’t too bad.

Island of Adventures had a lot better rides though. Island of Adventures means The Wizarding World of Harry Potter; the most popular area of the park. We arrived at 7:30 am thinking it wouldn’t be too bad. From the entrance all the guests were heading in a line to Wizarding World. Literally you follow the crowd; we all had the same destination. 

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey; I had a half hour wait which I am not complaining about. I think it is worth the 90 minute wait it can be in the middle of the day. This was my favourite ride out of all the rides at both parks. I have never been on a ride like it (except Spider-Man which I went on later in the day). It was part motion simulator and part coaster. There was a mix of video and animatronics. Walking through Hogwarts castle was also great. Oh boy! I am telling you this is not to be missed. 

We also went on Dragon Challenge and browsed around all the shops. The shops were tiny so they are a bit of a squeeze but I got some awesome goodies. You can see what I got here. I would have liked to do things like the Olivander’s experience but the queue was ridiculous and I had already seen what happens, so we gave that a miss. The queues for Butterbeer were also rather long. Fortunately I had Butterbeer at the Harry Potter Studio Tour in London. It is very tasty. 

The final thing I want to point out was the water rides. At Island of Adventure there are three water rides and we went on two of them. In the UK, if a sign says, ‘you will get wet,’ they mean a little splashed. In Florida, it means you get drenched. I was literally dripping for ages afterwards.  We went on both rides back to back using the ‘I’m already wet so why not’ principle. I shouldn’t have worn a denim skirt. I would show you a picture but it includes people that don’t want to be shown. Sorry. Just imagine I just have had a bucket of water pored over my head

My favourite rides here were Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk Coaster and Jurassic-Park River Adventure.

Sorry if this post seems too long but even that is not everything. I could probably write three to four sides of A4 detailing everything I did. It is all still rather vivid. But I am pretty sure that would bore you to tears. Even though I got tired of walking and waiting around for things in the heat, I still loved it. 

Feel free to ask me any question or tell me your experiences of Universal. I’d love to read them.

Copyright: I own all the photographs in this post. Do not redistribute without permission. 

Stacking the Shelves #10

Meme Hosted by Tynga's Reviews

This week I only got one book. I received eight last fortnight so I didn't buy any this week. I got one book for review but I am really excited for it.

For Review

Defiance (Defiance #1) by C.J. Redwine

It may only be one book but is a book that I really want to read. I cannot wait to read it.

Thank you to HarperCollins and Edelweiss for the digital ARC.

As there is only one book here is the summary:

Within the walls of Baalboden, beneath the shadow of the city’s brutal leader, Rachel Adams has a secret. While other girls sew dresses, host dinner parties, and obey their male Protectors, Rachel knows how to survive in the wilderness and deftly wield a sword. When her father, Jared, fails to return from a courier mission and is declared dead, the Commander assigns Rachel a new Protector, her father’s apprentice, Logan—the same boy Rachel declared her love for two years ago, and the same boy who handed her heart right back to her. Left with nothing but fierce belief in her father’s survival, Rachel decides to escape and find him herself. But treason against the Commander carries a heavy price, and what awaits her in the Wasteland could destroy her.
At nineteen, Logan McEntire is many things. Orphan. Outcast. Inventor. As apprentice to the city’s top courier, Logan is focused on learning his trade so he can escape the tyranny of Baalboden. But his plan never included being responsible for his mentor’s impulsive daughter. Logan is determined to protect her, but when his escape plan goes wrong and Rachel pays the price, he realizes he has more at stake than disappointing Jared.
As Rachel and Logan battle their way through the Wasteland, stalked by a monster that can’t be killed and an army of assassins out for blood, they discover romance, heartbreak, and a truth that will incite a war decades in the making.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Feature and Follow #9

Weekly Meme hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.
This is a weekly meme where we answer questions and blog hop to find new blogs to follow. You follow me I will follow you back.
Q: Summer Reading. What was your favorite book that you were REQUIRED to read when you were in school?
When I was at school, the word required and fun did not go together. It didn't help that books that I was required to read weren't my prefered genre or particulary interesting. I know this is making me sound really bad but, to be honest, there weren't that many specific books we had to study. In secondary school (11-16), I can count 4 books and 2 plays we 'had' to study. So out of that small amount I would have to say my favourite was Stone Cold by Robert Swindells. Even that only got three stars.


Thursday, 26 July 2012

Book Review: Matched by Ally Condie

Title: Matched (Matched #1)
Author: Ally Condie
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Pages: 336
Release Date: 1st November 2010
Read in: July 2012

Goodreads - Amazon.co.uk/.com - Book Depository

On her seventeenth birthday, Cassia meets her match. The Society dictates that he is her perfect partner for life, except he's not.
In Cassia's society, Officials decide who people love. How many children they have. Where they work. When they die.
But, as Cassia finds herself falling in love with another boy, she is determined to make some choices of her own.
And that's when her whole world begins to unravel...
I had heard several mixed things about this book; some quite negative things. I had been put off. However, randomly, I downloaded a sample on to my kindle, and I couldn’t stop reading.

‘A girl in a green dress stands waiting, her heart pounding. Me. The screen is dark, and it stays dark. That can only mean one thing.‘

One thing that struck me straight away was the writing. It was beautiful and poetic. I found myself being sucked in and felt Cassia’s excitement at the beginning just as she did. I felt her nervousness. Being able to connect with the main character is what made this book work for me. I needed to be able to see this strange society from someone who understood it or thinks they do. There wasn’t anything particularly exciting about Cassia’s character or personality; in fact she was doing probably what I would have been doing. I’m boring, I know. But I got where she was coming from. She is not the tough, stand up to society type of girl. She’s quiet.

This is a book about freedom, discovery and creativity. The Society is keeping the people healthy and extending their life expectancy. But at a cost. The Society was quite typical for a dystopian. But the controlling aspect was a lot more vigorous than in others. People are not only assigned jobs but they are told they don’t need to know anything else. In fact they are like machines. There is a reason the society is so controlling, it is so the characters can break free. Most dystopians are about the characters actively rebelling against the system. Here it is secret rebelling. I am going to sneak around and do naughty things but put on a good face when the Society comes knocking. It wasn’t quite what I was expecting.

The stories main focus was on the relationship between Caissa and Ky. This I don’t usually expect from a dystopia. This is usually a contemporary theme. When Ky’s face flashes on the screen, a normal person’s reaction would be ‘Yay! I get to choose’ however Caissa is so ingrained in the system, so reliant, that when there seems to be confusion of her match, she is confused too. Growing up in this society is completely different than out own. Her decisions are completely different. But together they discover there could be more for the people than just what the Society tells them to do. I like the casual building of their relationship. They knew each other before hand and I am always a sucker for falling in love with your friend. They had more in common that they originally thought and I think they are great together, even though I do feel sorry for Xander.

This book was classed as a dystopia, and it is, but it still surprised me at every turn. If you want the next Hunger Games or Divergent, with a kickass heroine who is going to battle the system, don’t look here. This is all about the characters and the relationships, with very hushed rebellious tones. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.


Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Waiting on Wednesday #13

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme, showcasing books that we are waiting to read.

Title: Toxic (Denazen #2)
Author: Jus Accardo
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Pages: 400
Release Date: 11th September 2012

Goodreads - Amazon.co.uk/.com - Book Depository
When a Six saved Kale’s life the night of Sumrun, she warned there would be consequences. A trade-off. Something taken for the life they gained. But Dez never imagined she’d lose the one thing she’d give anything to keep… And as if it’s not enough Dez finds her immunity to Kale fading, the Six brought in to help Kale learn to control his killer touch starts drooling on him the moment they meet. Worse than that? Jade can touch Kale. But bimbo Barbie is the least of Dez's problems.
After Dez and Kale got away at Sumrun, her father lost not only his most powerful weapon but an important piece of the Supremacy project. Forced by Denazen to remedy the situation, he poisons Dez and offers her a choice—surrender to Denazen for the cure…or die. Determined to find a solution that doesn’t involve being bagged and tagged—or losing someone she loves—Dez keeps the poison a secret. But when a rash of Denazen attacks hit a little too close to home, Dez is convinced there’s a traitor among them. Jade.
Sacrifices, broken promises, and secrets. Dez will have to lay it all on the line if there’s any hope of proving Jade’s guilt before they all end up Residents of Denazen. Or worse, dead...
Don't know what else to say apart from I enjoyed the first one and I want to see how this series continues.