Wednesday, April 16, 2014

REVIEW ~ Measuring Up by Nyrae Dawn

Seventeen-year-old Annabel Conway is tired of the Hillcrest High School elite making her life miserable because she’s not a size two. This summer, she's hiring a personal trainer to help her lose weight.

Annabel doesn’t expect her trainer to be a gorgeous guy around her age. Boys like Tegan are jerks. They pretend to like girls like her so they can make an idiot out of them. Been there, done that. Totally not going there again. She kind of hates him on principal. Blond. Muscular. Funny. It doesn’t help that he knows her measurements!

Soon, Tegan's so much more than that. He’s the boy who teaches her to box when she has a bad day. Who jogs with her and lets her set the pace. Who kisses her until she melts. He makes her feel beautiful regardless of what the scale says. Unlike her mom, he doesn’t expect perfection, and he doesn't try to shield her from the world like her dad and best friend. Tegan likes her the way she is.

But what happens when he’s not there? He can’t always be there…

Will Annabel be able to stand on her own and learn that she already measures up? That her worth doesn’t lie in what the world thinks, the scale says, or even what Tegan tells her—but in herself?

I'm going to do something different than my normal reviews. I had so much fun while reading this book I'm going to do a chapter by chapter, as best as I can, non-spoilery commentary. (While I read each chapter, I jotted my impressions down.)

So.... here we go... weeeeeeee!

Ch 1: I think I'm going to like this girl!! Procrastination with getting fit?... Annabel, me and you... We are like this X. Ugh, and the whole self confidence thing? We got this. Take me on your journey to measuring up. And I wouldn't mind doing a few um, leg wraps- oops, I mean squats with the personal trainer, Tegan.

Ch 2: I feel for Annabel. We've all been there. Being scolded for your weight or being bullied really destroys your complex. Then you always obsess over what people may think of you.

Ch 3: Obviously Tegan is a looker. Gosh, if it were me, I'd lose weight just by salivating over him. I friggin adore Annabel's sarcasm towards him. The girl does not filter. It's great. But she's starting to push his buttons. I believe part of her sarcasm is a defense mechanism. Because she worries too much what people think of her. But I see Tegan being her motivator.

Ch 4:  C'mon girl.... Spit on them bullies! You're making me think that you pity your own self. Just wait til' Tegan gets a hold of you. He's been quite tense lately. Wonder what's behind his wall? I know this though, I need a personal trainer STAT. Tegan's making my heart woozie.

*excuse me a moment while I share some Ben & Jerry's with my girl, Annabel.*

Ch 5: Somebody's got a crush!! I mean, how can you not! I love the way Tegan challenges Annabel. His confidence is just right, and it gives me the flutters.

Ch 6: Tsk tsk Tegan and I'm about to bitchslap Annabel's mom. Or even better, shove cake down her throat!

Ch 7: What are you hiding 'Gym Boy'!? It's like you have multiple personalities or something. One minute you're all friendly and smiles, the other you get moody and intense. You have nothing to be ashamed of-- or do you? Apparently, we have two people here, Annabel and Tegan, who both have some vulnerabilities.

Annabel, I really don't like your mom. I want to go all Em on her.

Ch 8: Oh Tegan, I hope you aren't sending Annabel mixed signals. I sure am enjoying y'all's interaction. I really think y'all bring out the best in each other. I enjoy Annabel's feelings as Tegan starts to open up and she realizes his genuineness.

Ch 9: Don't get frustrated Annabel.

... I think I'm falling in love with Tegan.

Annabel's giving me the giggles.

Ch 10: I'm so giddy, oh so giddy for Annabel. I really like her. She's funny and awkward. And her feelings, whether they are hurt or shining, they are real.

Ch 11: And my heart is freaking racing!!

Ch 12: Take the compliments Annabel.

I want the 'Near Tegan Experience'.

Ch 13: That kiss was magical.

And... what the what? Better have a good explanation for this Tegan!

Ch 14: Phew. Had me scared there. Awwwww Tegan!!! You sweet thang you!!

Spill your guts Annabel. Reveal your guy!

Tegan's little brother Tim-my is such a riot!! And his mom, what a nice lady.

Ch 15: Sock that bitch Annabel! Go Rocky on her ass!

Me to self: Kim- it's 1am. 630 is approaching fast. Go to sleep. But I want to keep reading. Go to sleep!!

Ch 16: *plays Rocky music* Tegan... So mature and responsible for a young man. What a man, what a man, what a mighty good young man.

Making progress Annabel!! And the trust is constructed.

Ch 17: Oh Annabel- honey, come here and let me hug you.

Ch 18: Awe Annabel, good for you revealing the awesomeness, I just wish the others could've understood better-- but deep down, I think they did.

Wow, the support and understanding and encouragement Tegan gives Annabel just really makes my heart skip a beat.

Nyrae Dawn sure can write some explosive macking scenes.

Annabel's dad is the dearest.

Ch 19: High mutha effin fives Tegan. And go 'head Annabel Lee.

Ch 20: ...Bliss.

And the wall comes tumbling down.

I love Annabel and Tegan together.

Ch 21: Wall back up. Damn walls.

Oh dear. What is going to happen from here?

Ch 22: Gut punch. Oh man. *hiccup*

Ch 23: Crap- I need a Kleenex.

Annabel, you had this in you all along. Continue your goal, doll. I know you can do this.

Ch 24: She's blossomed.

Ch 25: Making progress!!

Ch 26: Wowsers!! Very happy for you AB!!

Ch 27: My girl, Annabel, I'm so very proud of you. You've blossomed and have become independent. You deserve much happiness and love. But I still don't like your mother.

What a fantastic, fun, at times heartbreaking, read Measuring Up was. I'm so impressed with Annabel's growth. How she went from battling her insecurities to becoming independent and accomplishing her goals. What a smart girl! I enjoyed Annabel Lee and Tegan. Their love story was true and perfect. It was none of that cat and mouse games. If you need a pick me up read, then grab this book here and support a wonderful, talented author, Nyrae Dawn. Her books I've read thus far are the bomb diggity!

Find Measuring Up, by Nyrae Dawn on Goodreads

Purchase Measuring Up by Nyrae Dawn at B&N or Amazon


Thursday, April 10, 2014

REVIEW, plus Day 9 of Superfan Contest for This Side of Salvation by Jeri Smth-Ready

Everyone mourns differently. When his older brother was killed, David got angry. As in, fist-meets-someone-else’s-face furious. But his parents? They got religious. David’s still figuring out his relationship with a higher power, but there’s one thing he does know for sure: The closer he gets to new-girl Bailey, the better, brighter, happier, more he feels.

Then his parents start cutting all their worldly ties to prepare for the Rush, the divine moment when the faithful will be whisked off to Heaven…and they want David to do the same. David’s torn. There’s a big difference between living in the moment and giving up his best friend, varsity baseball, and Bailey—especially Bailey—in hope of salvation.

But when he comes home late from prom, and late for the Rush, to find that his parents have vanished, David is in more trouble than he ever could have imagined...

Before the last quote card is revealed for the last day of the superfan contest, I'd like to squeeze in my review first for This Side of Salvation by Jeri Smith-Ready.

So, lets roll this beautiful read footage.

Let me first start off when I keyed in Jeri's name in my smart phone notes, it autocorrected as hero. My phone is in fact very smart because that is exactly what she is to me. My hero. The admiration I have for this author and her books is very profound. I relish my time that I invest in her work- I look forward to it, and my family knows that when it comes to Jeri Smith-Ready, best step back, lol!! Her books are part of my soul. Every single one of her novels are filled with deep emotion and a beautiful meaning and so real. Each of her series or stand alones are definitely in a class of their own. JSR could write about donkeys mating and I'd favor it!!

I highly anticipated This Side of Salvation since Jeri had released the news that she was writing it. As the release date of 4/1/14 neared, the days leading up to it seemed to go by so slow. The night before, all I could do was think about it and kept reading the synopsis over and over and stare at the captivating cover.

Panic attacked me when my preordered hard copy from B&N didn't arrive in the mail on 4/1. Bitches April fooled me-- so I downloaded the ebook on my handy dandy E reader. Thank you technology! There was no way other people would be reading this novel on its release day and not me.

Low and behold, I opened the book. To a quote. A very strong, powerful quote. And then I read the first sentence in the first chapter and it intrigued me to the point that I had to read it several times-- to the point that I knew I had to mentally prepare myself for the emotion and events to come.

I have to laugh at some of the reactions and preparations for the Rush. It reminded me of the Y2K frenzy. I mean, they are two totally different things... end of world vs. end of technology. What I can't laugh at is what the main character, David and his sister horrifically discovered when they came home on supposedly the last night of their worldly lives. I later discovered David and his sister Mara had already endured grief in many ways within their broken family. After a life altering event, David's parents had become extreme in their faith. I found that his father over compensated his grief with intense evangelism and theological speech. It had to be tough for David and Mara to be exposed in that type of environment and their poor mom was caught in the middle.

I was brought to now and then with a perfect mix of present tense and past tense in this mysterious, yet contemporary young adult novel. At times, it was a bit eerie, giving me the chills. A lot of religion, theology and verses were mentioned, which is something I'm a bit distant with (all because of the Rapture and Revelations-- eeek!-) but even so, definitely held my attention and kept me interested. With that said, the meaning behind the Rush both fascinated and frightened me.

This Side of Salvation was written in David's point of view. He had the typical boy's thought process, just some heartache and faith to go with it. It was both fun and serious being inside his head, knowing his thoughts. I adored his mentality, his questioning, his realizations. He has my heart. It was a journey for me in him finding comfort within himself and trusting in his faith. It was David who was the Savior in this novel. What makes me respect David the most, is he never gave up on his father. It takes a strong will to forgive. I commend him for having it.

"If my life is about being good, then it loses meaning when in bad. That's the thing about God-He loves us no matter how much we screw up. Because He made us." ~David

David's sister Mara was a cool cat. She was snarky like sisters are to their brothers. But when it came down to it, she and David's bond was strong. They looked out for each other. If I had to compare myself to any character in this book, I'm certain I'd share Mara's views.

I love how Bailey, David's girlfriend, understood him- how she offered the words he needed, how she made him feel normal in his, IMO, abnormal life. She was charismatic; a free spirit and was the ying to David's yang.  Plus- I really digged her "Easy as tank.

'When she was out of sight, I rubbed my forehead where she'd touched me, wishing I could stamp the imprint of her finger onto my skin.' ~David's thoughts on Bailey.

David's best friend Kane was fun and supportive. I adored his humor. He brought in laughter in this somewhat serious story.

"So she's a prophet with no profit?" ~Kane

TSoS was a different read for me than most books... more spiritual I guess I'd say. It had made me ponder, laugh, cry... kinda made me want to get in touch with my spiritual side, so I went to church this past Sunday--- I didn't burn!! Lol. The ending gave me a stronger serenity than other books have and I had a pleasant reflection post read. I was at peace and that's the best feeling one could have.

This Side of Salvation, by Jeri Smith-Ready is a great read for mid teens on up to older adults. Not only is the reader guided through David's journey, but I believe that the events and quotes in this novel will give each who read it something to think and reflect about for the main character and his family and friends, and for themselves.

Now, onto the superfun, superfan contest for This Side of Salvation. It's the final quote card Jeri is posting. Each of these quotes gives you a glimpse of the characters in this book. You can read more about this contest by clicking here.

 Without further ado, the last card for the superfan, superfun contest introduces to us to Mr. Ralph. How true and striking his quote is.

Check out Jeri's website, her books, the contest, THIS SIDE OF SALVATION  released, 4/1/2014.
Purchase This Side of Salvation by Jeri Smith-Ready at B&N, Amazon, Book Depository
See This Side of Salvation on Goodreads.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Day 8 of Superfan Contest for This Side of Salvation by Jeri Smith-Ready. Meet Eve.

It's day 8 of the superfan contest for This Side of Salvation by Jeri Smith-Ready. You can read more about this contest by clicking here.

Last Monday, the main character, David from This Side of Salvation was introduced to us.

Last Tuesday, we met Kane.
I hadn't started reading TSoS yet when I originally posted David and Kane. But I'm now 150 pages in. David has my heart. He's been through quite a bit in his family life. But he's still all boy. I adore his mentality. And Kane, David's best friend, he's quite the funny and supportive one, but that works both ways.  
Last Wednesday, we had met Bailey. I love her. At this point in my reading she seems to be a free spirit and I really enjoy the comforting words she gives David.
Last Thursday, we met David's sister Mara. She's fun and snarky and everything a sister should be to a brother. They look out for each other. 
Last Friday, we were introduced to David's Dad. He's um, different. He wasn't always that way though. Grief can change one's views. I feel bad for David and Mara. I share their feelings of their Dad's behavior, thoughts and beliefs. I just hope he comes around, but WHERE IS HE??? *Keeps reading*
Monday, we had met David's Mom. I am still reading TSoS and at this point in the story I believe that she's caught in the middle of everything. She has her own grief to deal with, and she's trying to support her husband and her kids, which each have their different beliefs. It has to be difficult. But this quote had made me giggle when I read it in the book. I'm glad Jeri chose this card. It shows the lighter side of David's Mom.
Yesterday, we met Sophia. There is truth behind this quote. However, some deranged people can always say the correct things so that they could later mislead you. It's quite unfortunate when faith is brought into it.
Today, we meet Eve Decker. She was definitely somewhere she did not want to be. By reading this quote, you can figure that she was going to try and make the best of it!
I completed my reading for This Side of Salvation. I will post a review after all of Jeri's cards are posted. It was a different read for me than a lot of books... more spiritual I guess I'd say. Post ending, I really had a pleasant reflection on this book and felt at peace. It was a great feeling.
This Side of Salvation is a great read for mid teens on up to older adult. Not only is the reader guided through David's journey, but I believe that the events and quotes in this novel will give each who read it something to think and reflect about for the main character and his family, and for themselves.
Check out Jeri's website, her books, the contest, THIS SIDE OF SALVATION  released, 4/1/2014.
Purchase This Side of Salvation by Jeri Smith-Ready at B&N, Amazon, Book Depository