Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A.J. SAND DAY! REMAKE REVIEW

Erica's charmed life changed in an instant with a devastating act of betrayal.
And so with her secret, she ran. From everything and everyone, including the person she loved most in the world.
Now she's back to take control of the life she left behind, even if she's doing so with a lot of uncertainty. And even as that event from the past still hangs over her, unresolved.
But Erica knows a thing or two about survival.
She just wished she knew what to do about Bryson Ellis, the guy who has her heart but doesn't know her secret, and Matt Corso, the one who knows her secret and may want her heart.
Yet just when her life slowly comes together in other ways, she suddenly finds her strength tested again.

But this time...
She's ready.
And she won't run.
This follow-up to "Documentary" picks up with a new point of view in a story about what it means to love, forgive and never back down.
But it's also one woman's chance to remake herself.

This is NA fiction. Due to the sexual content, language and violence, this work is not recommended for readers under 17.

Where to Find Remake:
GoodReads | Amazon | B&N

Where to Find A.J. Sand:


***5 Stars***

Honestly, I fell in love with these characters in Documentary so I was literally refreshing my browser and stalking Amazon until it was released. Unfortunately a road trip to the beach got in the way of me reading it in one sitting but I managed to finish it within 24 hours of its release because I couldn't put it down. Here's why...

1) Erica. With all that Erica has been through it would be easy to make her appear to be a helpless victim and honestly, if she felt that way she'd be justified--because she was. But, A.J. Sand chose to write Erica as a strong fighter. She fights hard to work past all of the horror that happened to her in Thailand--and work and fight is what it takes. She somewhat reluctantly enlists her friends in the beginning, hesitant to burden them with the task of helping her bring Jeremy to justice. But she ends up fighting through that as she learns that asking for help or even needing help is part of the human condition and it doesn't make her weak, necessarily, it just allows her options. In addition to opening herself up to what it means to allow others to help, she also works past her horror of telling Bryson and begins to humor the idea of FINALLY telling him what happened. Before she does that, though, we see her get mixed up with a man named Matt, help with her sister's wedding, resurrect her PR career, and have fun times with the Elliot brothers and Team Dick and co. I say this so that you know that with the sad comes the fun and funny. Her story isn't a lighthearted romp but it isn't a Debbie Downer either. It's well balanced and honest.

2) Bryson. This guy. He's so ....well...hmm....trying to expand my vocabulary here...he's so fantastic (epic failure on vocabulary expansion). He's tried to give Erica the space she's requested-- not exactly knowing why she's requested it. He's pined for her, ached for her, and isn't going to give up on her and the 'us' that he once had with her. He is profoundly hurt by her and yet he pursues the idea of reclaiming a relationship with her. I just love his quiet persistence. Through Erica's flashbacks of their relationship and their current state of relationship flux, it's easy to see why she'd be wildly in love with him. He's kind and generous and protective. He's also a hard worker, comes from a wonderful family, and adores Erica. Even when Bryson makes a drunken appearance at Erica's place, one evening, every thing he says makes my heart squeeze for the pain he's in ...that they are both in. Finally, let me say the NOLA scenes were fantastic; they were soft and romantic and sweet. I loved every word of those. Needless to say, I'm Team Bryson all the way!

3) The others. A.J. brought back the gang from Documentary to play in some pivotal scenes. We get to see more of Team Dick, be a part of Erica's sister Naomi's wedding planning, know more about the Elliot brothers (especially Abel) and their surfer friends, and meet some new faces: Matt and Fitz. I loved getting to read about more of the old gang and to see that they're doing well (I think of them as my book friends and imagine my place in their world--obsessed much? um, yes.). I loved that they are such a close knit group; they are so supportive and protective of Erica and have some of the best lines in the book. Naomi is funny and protective and just as naggy as a sister should be--meaning she's annoyingly real..speaking from experience here (been on both the receiving and giving ends). Fitz, Erica's soon to be brother in law, is a typical frat boy: drunk, entitled, spoiled and yet he's also funny and sweet and good. And finally we have Matt. Matt puts a wrinkle all things Team Bryson when Erica meets him and finds him easy to confide in, spend time with, and look at. I had a hard time with Matt--do I like him, hate him, understand the dynamic, want to throttle A.J. for putting him in there? All of the above.

4). The story. I love A.J.'s novels because they are so much more than romance or smut or angst or words on a page. Her novels are filling and meaty and tackle real things. In this case, it's how Erica deals with the aftermath of the rape and how all of those around her deal with it too. I appreciate the coping mechanisms in place in this novel and that while Erica may not handle everything perfectly or the way someone else would, it's a real way that some in her place would, could, can, or will cope. Erica makes decisions that feel right to Erica and for her situation and those around her do their best to support her choices--kudos to them. I also appreciate that some characters in this novel handle things poorly and by the end, still haven't come to terms with how to handle everything that comes with the rape and the situation that surrounds it...because that's real too. I'm sure many people feel unprepared or unable to know how to discuss, handle, talk about, deal with, and support friends, family members, and strangers when it comes to the subject of rape. It's a topic that makes people feel uncomfortable and uncertain and so most people try to avoid the topic unless confronted with it.This isn't a pretty subject matter and the ugliness that shrouds it isn't dimmed in this novel and I love the honesty in A.J.'s approach. 

Even though I wasn't able to inhale this novel in one sitting (stupid long car ride! GAH!), when I was finally able to have a stretch of time to read and think I gorged myself on it. I put it down and sat in silence as the novel and characters bounced around in my brain. Even now, I feel their presence around me and I find myself wondering and thinking about them...I definitely have a book hangover and the only thing that will cure it is another A.J. Sand novel. So bring it on, A.J., bring it on. 


*5 stars*
As we mention frequently, our mutual love of A.J is how we became friends in the first place. So to say that we were epically excited about the release of Remake would be an epic understatement. I for one was not disappointed in the least..well, maybe I could've used a little more Wes Elliott, but there was plenty of Abel to go around so I shall get over it! (And Wesley sure enough is getting his own story this summer, too!) Now then. 

1) Erica. When we first met Erica in Documentary I was really, really prepared to not like her. I thought we were going to have this insane love triangle on our hands and I let out a huge sigh of relief when that wasn't the case. I guess that is a typical, awful reaction for most people that men and women can't be just friends with one another. Erica deals with this all of the time. That stuck out for me, and I think you'll see this theme too. It was incredibly heartbreaking that everything happened because of her relationship with Kai (how it was perceived in Jeremy's eyes), even though she had a boyfriend. When things start happening in the present anything she's ever done with the opposite sex, no matter how platonic she comes under fire again and I wanted to jump in and defend her. There are a lot of heavy issues, and not everyone reacts the same way to the situations that she is involved in. The character growth that we experience through past and present scenes was incredible. Sometimes it is hard to expand over a large period of time (in this case we got a lot of scenes spanning 4 1/2 years) so I thought this was done very well and I always knew where we were in time. I don't blame her for leaving, but I was screaming at her a lot to tell Bryce what happened. TELL HIM, I said over and over. Why do these people not listen to me?! Okay, I'll stop..sorry! 

2) Bryson. Man, oh man. I love him, like a lot. He made me laugh, cry, and swoon. My heart hurt hard core for him way too much. He was truly a victim of circumstance and wasn't given the opportunity to fight for what he wanted. Again, I can't blame Erica for having to get away from everything and unfortunately that meant everyone...including the love of her life. Not all men are understanding after a sexual assault, and that is a huge concern for anyone that their person will not see them the same. Even though he is popular even in Hollywood he isn't that guy. He is loyal, loving, honest even at his most vulnerable. Those are the moments that I cried, for him and for her. He tried so hard to be what she needed him to be without even knowing what happened and I sort of fell in love with him before he even had a scene. Men...this is the kind of man you should strive to be. Again loving, honest, loyal, and most of all letting your girl be independent but also knowing her well enough when not to. Being an equal partner is hot. Women...if you've got a Bryson already, hold on to him.. K lecture over. 

3) The crew. Ohh...Emm...Gee.  So, I say over and over and will continue to say over and over that I freaking love supporting characters in a book. This book is loaded with them. The bromance type relationships are my absolute favorite, and this crew is such a family. Still am a big Kai White lover, and love that his relationship with Dylan is still great, as is his relationship with Erica. Dylan and Erica's sister Naomi are the best girlfriends ever, but I still heart my boys. Wes and Abel are almost like the Smash Brothers, yet twins. My favorite line was something to do with "Hey, where's that guy that has your face." Or something. That's bad..(sorry AJ) If I find that quote, I'll fix it, but hopefully you get what I'm trying to say. Funniest moments always involve the crew, but this time around so did a lot of the most serious. Erica's realization that she was not alone in her journey to finding herself again was enlightening, long coming, but beautiful. 

4) The story. Heavy issues, sign up here. Wow. I commend A.J. with the authenticity of the story. No, not everyone who deals with something like this is in the wonderful world of glitz and glamour and has a huge support system that they run away from, and have a ton of money to do that...but...I was mostly moved by how she took the time she needed to heal. She did that for herself. She could have completely shut down, and would have been right to do so, but I thought it was incredibly powerful how she slowly brought herself back to life. She took teeny tiny baby steps to get there, so there definitely wasn't a feeling of her moving to fast to being normal and partying or being intimate. It was paced well and again well explained so that it was genuine. *tear* I also hope that some of the unresolved issues don't turn you off. I hope you read and see what I mean, but that very important moment that you will wait on doesn't come, for the person you want to inflict pain on, but in a way that is genuine too.

Due to some technical issues, the book isn't currently up to buy. As soon as it is, then we will definitely let you know! I am going to be waiting and watching for when Recklessly (Wes's book) is on our virtual doorstep, because I cannot wait for more from A.J. Sand! 

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