Review: Dare You To by Katie McGarry

Review: Dare You To by Katie McGarryDare You To by Katie McGarry
Series: Pushing the Limits #2
Published by Harlequin Teen on May 28, 2013
Pages: 456
Format: Hardcover
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Ryan lowers his lips to my ear. "Dance with me, Beth."

"No." I whisper the reply. I hate him and I hate myself for wanting him to touch me again....

"I dare you..."

If anyone knew the truth about Beth Risk's home life, they'd send her mother to jail and seventeen-year-old Beth who knows where. So she protects her mom at all costs. Until the day her uncle swoops in and forces Beth to choose between her mom's freedom and her own happiness. That's how Beth finds herself living with an aunt who doesn't want her and going to a school that doesn't understand her. At all. Except for the one guy who shouldn't get her, but does....

Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular baseball star jock-with secrets he can't tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including the constant dares to do crazy things. The craziest? Asking out the Skater girl who couldn't be less interested in him.

But what begins as a dare becomes an intense attraction neither Ryan nor Beth expected. Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image risks his dreams-and his life-for the girl he loves, and the girl who won't let anyone get too close is daring herself to want it all....

I was really looking forward to Dare You To, thanks in large part to the sneak-peeks we got of Beth in Pushing the Limits. Dare You To definitely did not disappoint!

I really wasn’t a fan of Ryan in the beginning. He was cocky and way too full of himself. He was also highly amusing – The big, tough jock boy who hits on girls for dares, yet he doesn’t like a girl who curses. It was kind of hilarious. He definitely does grow throughout the book, though it happens very slowly. He’s stubborn and refuses to give up the dares right away, which in my opinion, holds him back a lot.

But Ryan also has a lot going on in his life that makes him vulnerable. He has a tough home life, one that looks perfect on the outside but is far from it on the inside. His parents fight, his dad threw his brother (Mark) out for.. reasons that I won’t go into to avoid spoilers. But I will say they were dumb reasons! We don’t see a lot of Mark, but the few times we do, I really loved him! And, of course, Ryan wants to do one thing with his life and his father wants him to do another, so that causes all sorts of drama.

About halfway (maybe a little more) through the book, Ryan reveals something to Beth and, it’s silly, but it made me really like him a lot more. He and Beth were so sweet together when they let their walls down, and Ryan could really be pretty romantic when he wanted to be!

Beth is great. Honestly, so far she’s my favorite of the female characters. She has a really tough life. She has a lot of trust issues and refuses to let people in. She builds this wall up and refuses to let it down. I completely shipped her and Isaiah the whole time, from the beginning of Pushing the Limits until the end of Dare You To. Several people told me I’d understand why their relationship ended the way it did in Dare You To and that I’d stop shipping them, but I still totally want them to end up together! Maybe my feelings will change in Crash Into You, when I see Isaiah with Rachel. We’ll see. But for now, I want Isaiah and Beth to fall happily ever after!

Beth deals with so much in Dare You To: her mom’s self-destruction, her uncle swooping in to “save” her, a new school, new friends and way too many changes than she is comfortable with.

I had a lot of trouble figuring Scott out. One second he was an ass and I hated him, the next he was like a big Papa Bear, ready to defend Beth from all the evils of the world. It was hard to figure out his motives at first. I really wanted to trust him and I really wanted Beth to be able to trust him. I do like where there relationship ended up, though, when all was said and done.

Lacy was such a great character! I loved that she wasn’t completely popular, wasn’t torn between befriending Beth and staying in with the popular crowd. She stuck by Beth no matter how many times Beth tried to shut everyone out. She stood up to Gwen and even fought with her best friends – Ryan, Chris (her boyfriend) and Logan – when she felt she had to in order to defend Beth.

And Chris and Logan were… Ah. Well, they had their moments when they were great friends to Ryan, but they also had moments where they let Beth’s reputation and their obsession with baseball get between them and Ryan. It was a slippery slope throughout the book.

The end was heart-pounding and insane. The stakes were much higher for Beth and Ryan’s actions in Dare You To then there was with Echo and Noah in Pushing the Limits. Lives were literally at stake at the end of Dare You To.

Katie McGarry is an amazing writer. I love how she can tie up all the loose ends at the end of each of her books while still leaving enough open for the possibility of a sequel. I also love the way she carries her main characters from one book over to the next book. They play integral parts in the storyline, but they don’t overshadow the true main characters of the book. It leaves you truly excited for the next book in the series! I know, for me personally, I’m DYING to start Crash Into You! We saw a good amount of Isaiah in Pushing the Limits but because of his ties to Beth, we saw a lot of him in Dare You To and I’m really eager to see how his story unfolds now.

While I didn’t like Ryan as much as Noah, I loved Beth and Ryan did grow on me! Overall, Dare You To was an amazing read and I can’t wait to read more of McGarry’s books!


Review: Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

Review: Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarryPushing the Limits by Katie McGarry
Series: Pushing the Limits #1
Published by Harlequin Teen on June 1, 2012
Pages: 391
Format: Paperback
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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.

But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his surprising understanding, Echo's world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common.

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.

Pushing the Limits is one of my favorite YA contemporaries, by far. I cried so many times, I lost count! I loved Noah and Echo so much, I couldn’t put this book down! I had to get to the end as fast as possible so I could find out the truth and see how it all ended!

I did.. 49 status updates on Goodreads while reading this book. Pretty sure that’s the most I’ve ever done for any book. There were so many feels! I cried.. a lot. I was angry, mad, sad – My emotions felt like they were on a roller-coaster! And books rarely make me cry.. Maybe I cry once or twice, and usually at the end. I was only 16 pages in to Pushing the Limits and I started crying!

Echo was an intense character. She was that popular girl that everyone loved, until the accident that stripped it all away – an accident she couldn’t even remember. To add insult to injury, her brother – the one person who understood her and made her feel better – is gone. The fall-out from that event, which happens before the book begins, was tough enough but the domino effect it caused is truly what ruined Echo’s life.

Echo does everything she can to please her father, but it’s never good enough. And her bimbo step-mom says all the wrong things at all the wrong times. Intentional or not, she doesn’t help the situation. Throughout the majority of the book, I wanted to punch her father and bitch-slap her step-mother!

Noah is such a complex character. Deep down, he’s a good guy. But the people who should have loved him unconditionally are gone, and the foster system has stripped away any trust he might have had in adults and authority figures. The only people he can truly rely on are Beth and Isaiah. Until he meets Echo. Noah’s relationship with his brother’s brought out his soft side, the person he kept hidden from the world. Those moments, in my opinion, were the most real and raw.

Noah’s biggest issue? He was very judgmental in the beginning, refusing to believe that someone as “perfect” as Echo could be imperfect. She was the popular girl with daddy’s money and the hot boyfriend. He never stopped to think that maybe her life wasn’t as perfect as he assumed. And that was another problem – he just assumed things. He crossed a lot of lines and he’s lucky Echo forgave him!

At one point, Echo said the following about Noah, “What an odd combination of romantic gesture and horribly crude wording.” I think this one sentence, above and beyond anything else, sums Noah up completely!

I loved Mrs. Collins. The symmetry between her relationship with Noah and her relationship with Echo was interesting. Neither Echo nor Noah wanted to trust her, and they rebelled against her at every turn. But she never gave up on them and never let them shut her out, no matter how hard she tried. I loved that she stood up against Echo’s father and I loved that she helped Noah push back against the same system that had screwed him over years before.

All the secondary characters in this book were amazing. They all had a part to play and they all played their parts well. I seriously loved Beth and Isaiah. They each get their own books in Dare You To (Beth) and Crash Into You (Isaiah). I’ve already read Dare You To (review to come soon) and I can tell you, it was amazing. Pushing the Limits gave us a great sneak-peak of Beth and what was to come in Dare You To. And I’m completely in love with Isaiah and can’t wait to get his story in Crash Into You!

Echo’s friends were… interesting. Lila was the ultimate best friend, standing by Echo no matter what. Natalie was a close second, though she seemed to waver a little bit when it came to defending Echo. Grace was an utter failure of a friend. Honestly, she really can’t even be called a friend. She was too wrapped up in social standing and popularity to see that she was pushing away a friend in need. Who you date shouldn’t define your self worth or your social life. But Grace didn’t understand that. And Luke.. Ugh, I can’t even with Luke. I refuse to give him the time of day. He was just a jerk!

By the end of the book, I was an emotional wreck. The revelations were shocking and horrifying. But, in the end, all the dominoes fell into place. Noah and Echo were complete opposites, yet exactly the same. They hid from the world, they had secrets they wanted to keep from others and wounds that would never heal. And then they met each other and they complemented each other perfectly. I rooted for them from start to finish, and I would do it again!

Honestly, I don’t read many contemporaries, and I don’t often fall head-over-heels for the ones I do read. But I fell for Pushing the Limits and I would read it again and again if I could. Anyone who isn’t a fan of contemporary should DEFINITELY give this book a chance! It might just surprise you!


Review: Crash Into You by Katie McGarry

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Crash Into You by Katie McGarryCrash Into You by Katie McGarry
Series: Pushing the Limits #3
Published by Harlequin Teen on November 26, 2013
Pages: 474
Format: ARC
Source: the publisher
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From acclaimed author Katie McGarry comes an explosive new tale of a good girl with a reckless streak, a street-smart guy with nothing to lose, and a romance forged in the fast lane

The girl with straight As, designer clothes and the perfect life-that's who people expect Rachel Young to be. So the private-school junior keeps secrets from her wealthy parents and overbearing brothers...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 when the foster kid with the tattoos and intense gray eyes comes to her rescue, she can't get him out of her mind.

Isaiah has secrets, too. About where he lives, and how he really feels about Rachel. The last thing he needs is to get tangled up with a rich girl who wants to slum it on the south side for kicks-no matter how angelic she might look.

But when their shared love of street racing puts both their lives in jeopardy, they have six weeks to come up with a way out. Six weeks to discover just how far they'll go to save each other.

Crash Into You absolutely broke me and I loved every minute of it. Forget Book Hangover, this is a Book Coma! I have so many feels… The last third or so of the book was such an emotional roller-coaster! I’m pretty sure this might be my least coherent review ever…

So, let’s start with the obvious: I frickin’ LOVE Isaiah. We see small glances of him in Pushing the Limits and I knew I liked him and the dynamic between him, Noah and Beth. His personality was rough, yet it was obvious there was more to him. Because of his connection to Beth, we saw a lot of Isaiah in Dare You To. He had moments where my heart broke for him, and moments where I just wanted to slap him for the way he was treating Beth. Yes, he did it so she could create a better life for herself, because he was protective of her. But I still hated that they were fighting. I shipped Isaiah and Beth so hard in Pushing the Limits and Dare You To, it’s not even funny.

But in Crash Into You, Isaiah takes center stage and I swooned so hard over him. I was only twelve pages in when I fell hard for Isaiah, and he continued to sweep me off my feet the entire time. He opens himself up to Rachel and has moments of vulnerability that allow us to see underneath the tough exterior he has built around himself. He is fiercely loyal to those he calls friends/family. He doesn’t trust easily, but once he does, he puts it all on the line.

Rachel starts off painfully shy and, as she sees herself, weak. Rachel’s situation broke my heart for so many reasons and I could kind of relate to her and what she was going through – though my situation wasn’t nearly as bad as hers. The way her family treated her, especially her parents.. I just wanted to punch her parents! They were so obsessed with the past, so focused on pretending everything was okay and protecting one another from the truth. Secrets and lies invaded this family to a frightening degree and it cost them a lot. It almost cost them everything, in fact. In the end, they seemed to work things out, though they have a long way to go.

Rachel’s brothers irritated me a lot, too. They were way, way over-protective of her – though I also found some of the things they said and did hilarious! Ethan and West definitely grew on me, and I’m really excited for West’s story in May! Some of the things they put Rachel through, though, absolutely gave me a heart attack!

I hated Abby in the beginning. And then, about halfway through the book, she did something that surprised me and completely changed how I felt about her. As the story progressed, she came to be one of my absolute favorite “best friend” characters. I really hope she gets her own story at some point! I’d love to learn more about her and her life.

To be honest, before I started reading it, I wasn’t sure about Crash Into You. I’m not a big fan of street racing and though I know cars, I’m not a fanatic. I wasn’t sure how I would feel about Isaiah with someone that wasn’t Beth. But Rachel and Isaiah are amazing together. They have chemistry that can’t be denied and I absolutely love them as a couple! They are, without a doubt, my favorite couple of all Katie McGarry’s couples! And Crash Into You was absolutely my favorite of the books!

The ending was… INSANE! CRAZY! HEART-POUNDING! GASP-INDUCING! I mean… If you follow me on Goodreads, you can see my reactions to the last 25 or so pages. And if you don’t follow me on Goodreads, this is what it looked like (Apologies for the language! I was freaking out!):

Picture 3

Basically, I lost the ability to form coherent thought. INSANE! ALL THE FEELS! TOTAL BOOK COMA!

Katie McGarry is a truly gifted story-teller and I’m anxious for Take Me On (West’s story, May 2014). I’m fully prepared for all the feels *Stocks up on tissues* And if you haven’t read these books… WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? GO GO GO!!!