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WARNING: Please be advised that some of our content may be unsuitable for ages 18 and under. 

Pushing the Limits (Pushing the Limits #1) by Katie McGarry

"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 is easily one of my favorite reads of the year and it even made my very selective crack-book shelf. This story is ridiculously good, no, it is excellent. It’s simply brilliant. The story and its characters were emotional, raw and beautiful. It was not your normal YA story. It was so much more than that. 

For people like me and Echo, our souls contained more scar tissue than life. 

Echo had it all. She had her mom, dad and beloved brother, Aires. She was also part of the popular crowd, member of the dance team and dating the captain of the basketball team. This was her normal. This was her life before Aires died serving in the military and before the incident with her mother. Even though she cannot recall all the events surrounding the incident, the event left her scarred physically and emotionally. She will no longer have normal. Now she’s seeing a therapist, her father is now married to her now pregnant former babysitter and no longer part of the popular crowd. This doesn’t deter Echo from trying to achieve normal again. She believes that if she can remember the events of the incident, she can start to heal and possibly start accept her life now. However, no one will tell her what happened, not her therapist and certainly not her father. She’s left to try piece everything together on her own. Desperate to find out, she befriends and enlists the help of Noah.

Noah wasn’t always about getting high, chasing girls and earning a bad reputation. He once had a promising future until the day he lost his parents, leaving him and his two younger brothers parentless and in the mercy of the foster care system. He and his younger brothers were separated and placed in the care of different foster families. Noah’s first foster family experience ended in disaster and was unfairly deemed as emotionally unstable. Convinced that his brothers were also placed in an unsuitable environment, he is determined to find out all he can about his brother’s family, hoping he can dig up dirt to use in a possible custody battle for his brothers once he turns eighteen. Unfortunately, his therapist will not give him the information he needs. Initially Echo was only there to help him and vise versa. According to Noah, she’s a siren. He’s not supposed to feel anything for her. He’s not a commitment/relationship type of guy. So what is it about Echo that makes him feel differently? She makes him want more. What is going on?

”Echo, I can’t tell you what’s going to happen because I don’t know. I don’t hold hands in the hallway or sit at anyone else’s lunch table. But I swear…on my brothers that you’ll never be a joke to me and you’ll be much more than a girl in the backseat of my car.” 

Echo and Noah were not designed for one another. Plus, in their own eyes and in the eyes of others, they’re deemed as damaged. Who would want all their baggage? The road to their relationship was rocky. They both denied their feelings for each other, thinking that it’ll just add further complications to their already difficult lives. Fate, however, brought these two together for a reason. They start to develop a trust not easily given to others and they slowly start to heal. Their relationship was real and raw. They made each other realize that there was more to life than what was dealt; that it was okay to want more. Together they made a passionate couple and my heart ached for them to work everything out. 

There is so much more I can say about this book. I can easily delve into how much I loved Echo and Noah and how they complemented each other perfectly. I can also start going and on about the secondary cast of characters, like Lila, Isaiah and Beth, which were all amazing, but that would make this review longer than it already is. 

My parting thoughts are as follows: This was just excellent. Its one of those stories that when you finish, you just want to flip back to the beginning and read everything all over again. I love Echo and Noah’s story. I love how emotional it is; I love how it made me angry; I love how it made me tear up. I especially love how happy I was with the end result. I love everything about this story. I highly, HIGHLY recommend!!

Playing for Keeps (Neighbor from Hell #1) by R.L. Mathewson

Done with being the world's biggest pushover, Haley decides that things are going to change starting with the aggravating neighbor who has too much charm and not enough restraint. What she didn't expect was to be sucked into his world, but Haley has a game plan and she won't let herself forget just what the bad boy next door is capable of. 

The last thing Jason expected was for his little shy neighbor to go Rambo on him over some ruined flowers. After he decides to take her under his wing he can't help but notice that she fits very nicely in his life. Now the only thing left is to convince her that this is anything but a game.
Five Delicious Buttercream Frosting Flavored Stars (whew! Stay that ten times fast :)

This was such a wonderful find. I LOVED every moment of this story. I could not put it down for the life of me. How could I not? Not only did it have a great romantic story line, but a lot of scenes in the book made me laugh out loud. Particularly when they involved Jason Bradford and his insane obsession with food. Gotta love a man with a big appetite. Word of caution, never get in the middle of a Bradford man and his food. It was freaking HIGH-larious! And Haley was simply lovable as our heroine. They started out as friends and their relationship just took a natural course. Nothing felt rushed and it was perfect. Their chemistry was such a joy to read. Very well done, grasshopper. Very well done! Highly, HIGHLY recommend!!!