Review: 45 Pounds by K. A. Barson

Book Title: 45 Pounds (More or Less)
Author: K. A. Barson
Published Date: July 11th, 2013
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Genre: YA Contemporary
Book Link: Goodreads
Purchase Links: AmazonThe Book Depository
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Here are the numbers of Ann Galardi’s life:

She is 16.
And a size 17.
Her perfect mother is a size 6.
Her Aunt Jackie is getting married in 10 weeks, and wants Ann to be her bridesmaid.
So Ann makes up her mind: Time to lose 45 pounds (more or less) in 2 1/2 months.

Welcome to the world of infomercial diet plans, wedding dance lessons, embarrassing run-ins with the cutest guy Ann’s ever seen—-and some surprises about her NOT-so-perfect mother. 

And there’s one more thing. It’s all about feeling comfortable in your own skin-—no matter how you add it up!

Disclaimer: This was a library book.

This book was hard for me to read, mostly because I never struggled with my weight the way Ann did. So it was hard for me to understand the struggle that she had gone through. However the more broader topic of fitting in was one that I definitely understood. I never really fit in as a kid or as a teenager because I have serious health issues. That kinda stuff makes you stand out, even if you try hard to fit in.

This book also touched on family dynamics and while I am a child (and adult) of divorce, my family isn’t as dysfunctional as Ann’s is. Ann’s father & stepmom treat her like garbage, even having her come over to their home under the guise of wanting family time with her, when really they just wanted her to babysit her baby half brother. That part infuriated me.

At home she has her mom and stepdad and two younger siblings, Judd & Libby. Her mom is seemingly “perfect” until Ann realizes the way her mom talks about food, particularly around Ann and Libby is dangerous. Libby is already worrying about getting fat and dieting and other dangerous food related things. Ann wants desperately to model healthy habits for her younger sister since apparently, her mom doesn’t want to. 

And of course, Ann has an older brother who we don’t really see much of until the very end of the book. I wanted to see more of Tony and was disappointed because I think there was a lot of backstory from his end that we didn’t get a chance to see.

Acceptance is a big theme here. Ann has to learn to accept the family she’s got, a friendship that is dead in the water. Accept that her mom is not perfect and that mistakes have been made. Most importantly Ann learns to accept her body for what it is and I think that is the biggest message for teen girls and even teen boys. 

Body acceptance is a big thing as a teenager and so many kids go the extreme route and it ends up being something they always struggle with. It was definitely an enjoyable book and because of that, I’ll be giving it 4 stars. I do think it should be required reading in middle school and high school, because it was a very important book.

Review: If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch

Book Title: If You Find Me
Author: Emily Murdoch
Published Date: March 26th
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Genre: YA 
Book Link: Goodreads
Purchase Links: AmazonBarnes & Noble

Synopsis from Goodreads:
There are some things you can’t leave behind…
A broken-down camper hidden deep in a national forest is the only home fifteen year-old Carey can remember. The trees keep guard over her threadbare existence, with the one bright spot being Carey’s younger sister, Jenessa, who depends on Carey for her very survival. All they have is each other, as their mentally ill mother comes and goes with greater frequency. Until that one fateful day their mother disappears for good, and two strangers arrive. Suddenly, the girls are taken from the woods and thrust into a bright and perplexing new world of high school, clothes and boys.

Now, Carey must face the truth of why her mother abducted her ten years ago, while haunted by a past that won’t let her go… a dark past that hides many a secret, including the reason Jenessa hasn’t spoken a word in over a year. Carey knows she must keep her sister close, and her secrets even closer, or risk watching her new life come crashing down.

Disclaimer: This book was purchased by me.

Oh wow…

I’m not even sure that I can spit out in coherent sentences how amazing this book really was. It’s rare that a book can leave me totally speechless but this one rendered me speechless for a good hour or so after I finished the book.

Not only was I speechless but I had tears rolling down my face during the majority of it. This book really brought out those all important feels and I’m getting choked up again as I try to write a decent review for this book.

The idea of being told so many things and then eventually finding out that most of the things your troubled mama told you were lies. That is just heartbreaking to me. Carey and Jenessa “Nessa” both showed how incredibly strong they were. Carey needed to step up and be the mom that Nessa needed since their own mom had her own issues with mental illness and drugs. 

Suddenly they are forced to live with Carey’s father and stepmother and stepsister even though they had been frequently told that Carey’s father Charlie was a bad man and that they had to stay away from him.It wasn’t explored in the book much but I have a feeling that Carey wondered a lot about her dad despite the lies her mother had told her.It’s only natural to wonder about someone you haven’t seen in a decade.

I loved Melissa, she was exactly the kind of woman that Carey and Nessa needed in their lives and I am so glad that she was such an important part of their girls’ new life. I was focused so much on Carey and Nessa’s story that it wasn’t until the end that I really started thinking about Delaney and how she was feeling about all this. Like Melissa told Carey,it was an adjustment for all of them, Delaney included.I think Delaney struggled with the abrupt changes in her own life with her mom and stepdad.

Ryan and Pixie were totally awesome people. Ryan’s connection to Carey and to her mom Joelle was heartbreaking and the few times it was brought up, I only cried harder.In my head Ryan is the guy who Carey gives herself to. Not because she has to but because she wants to.

This is the kind of book that really makes me so grateful for the people in my life.Especially the people who are constantly and consistently in my life. I don’t know what I would do without them.I absolutely adored this book and it gets an easy five stars from me. I couldn’t imagine this book being any more wonderful.

Review: Say When (Something More #1) by Tara West

Author: Tara West
Published Date: July 10th,2013
Published by: Shifting Sands Publishing
Series: Book 1
Genre: Romance
Purchase LinksAmazonBarnes & Noble
Synopsis: Christina Duval has just ended her engagement to the affluent but otherwise tedious,rude & abrasive Jackson much to her mother’s disgust. Her mother still attempts to control her life and up until now Christina has allowed it.Christina’s disgusting & pervy father is dead thankfully, It takes meeting a sexy stranger for things to turn on their head.
Andres is unlike anyone Christina has ever known.He intrigues her from the beginning.She wants so desperately to trust what he says to her but after her experience with men,she’s tentative.Christina knows that she must trust Andres with more than just her body. She must trust him with her heart.
Disclaimer: I got this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Review: When we first meet Christina, she is a a doormat. She allows everyone around her to control her life. From her mother to Jackson. She has no say in her own life.That really drove me bananas as I really don’t have patience for those who don’t stand up for themselves. She has two friends, Grace and Karri. I still don’t understand why she is friends with Karri except that she feels terrible for Karri’s son Ty and for Karri’s sweet natured mother because Karri just won’t give up the drugs. Grace is a great friend and I enjoyed watching the threads of friendship be woven into the story.
Watching Christina become more assertive was so awesome to see. Reading about her standing up to her mother and telling her mother everything she had been so afraid to tell her made me so excited. I could see Christina’s self confidence rise and my enjoyment of her character grew as well.
Andres was everything that Christina wanted,needed and deserved in a man. He was sweet,gentle & supportive.All things that Christina didn’t have in her relationship with Jackson.As my friend Molli would say,he was swoon-worthy.
Normally I cringe at the insta-love and the insta-sex but this just WORKED. Christina needed a guy that was completely different from her father and ex fiancee and Andres gave her that.The sex scenes were extremely hot.It’s been awhile since I read something that had the kind of chemistry that Andres and Christina had.Andres gave Christina the courage to assert herself which I loved.
This book gets a 4 star review from me. Mostly because it chronicled Christina’s emotional growth which I enjoyed. It’s not getting the full 5 stars mainly because I feel it was too short and while it was a good read, I wanted more of it. I am so excited to see where the story goes and I wish it was 2014 already so I could get my hands on the next book.