Thursday, March 20, 2014

Blog Tour: Reclaiming the Sand by A. Meredith Walters (Review & Giveaway)

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Reclaiming the SandReclaiming the Sand by A. Meredith Walters 
Release Date: March 17, 2014
Format: eARC
Source: Inkslinger PR in exchange for an honest review
Buy It: Amazon UK | Amazon US

Description from Goodreads:
Bully and victim.
Tormenter and tormented.
Villain and hero.

Ellie McCallum was a bully. No connection to anyone or anything. A sad and lonely existence for a young woman who had come to expect nothing more for herself. Her only happiness coming from making others miserable.

Particularly Freaky Flynn.

Flynn Hendrick lived a life completely disconnected even as he struggled to become something more than that boy with Asperger's. He was taunted and teased, bearing the brunt of systematic and calculated cruelty, ultimately culminating in a catastrophic turn of events that brought Ellie and Flynn’s worlds crashing down.

But then Flynn and Ellie grew up.

And moved on.

Until years later when their paths unexpectedly cross again and the bully and the freak are face to face once more.

When labels come to define you, finding yourself feels impossible. Particularly for two people disconnected from the world who inexplicably find a connection in each other.

And out of the wreckage of their tragic beginnings, an unlikely love story unfolds.

But a painful past doesn’t always want to let go. And old wounds are never truly healed…and sometimes the further you try to run from yourself the closer you come to who you really are.

This book broke my heart, repeatedly. Reclaiming the Sand is such a completely raw story, and it was almost refreshing to read and break up my regular reading norms. I ended up loving this story, but I can't deny that it made me feel so sad. Not so much in the end, but throughout almost the whole entire thing I felt incredibly sad as I read this book. It was kind of depressing, but it a contradicting, beautiful way. 

I love how this novel isn't much like any other NA contemporary romance I've ever read. As I said, this one made me sad, but it was darn gorgeous at the same time. And the subject matter of the story was so different. I enjoyed wading my way through this story with Ellie and Flynn--two characters that aren't your regular MC's, too.

I don't like Ellie. Not because she isn't perfect or anything, because I CAN look past that in some female characters. No, I didn't like Ellie because I didn't like who she was. I respect the fact that she changed and grew into a better person, but as an outsider reading her story, I just can't bring myself to like her. She was a very amusing character to read, as well as a very strong one. Her personality was certainly 100% Ellie, through and through. And her growth made me happy, so she gained a few points that way. Still, I spent most of the book wishing I could punch Ellie in the face, so her arc didn't make me like her. It did make me not hate her, though.

Flynn certainly wasn't the regular love interest. He has a disability, and I found myself very okay with that. Flynn was so sweet, and he was so honest. He was the most real part of this whole story, and I loved him for it. He was always just himself, and I know he got embarrassed sometimes because of his little episodes, but those made no difference on how much I adore this guy. He was so darn cute. Seriously, at one point while I was reading (I believe it was when Ellie first went back to his house and he said he was going to get her a jacket because she was cold) I stopped and squealed "Awww, he's cuuuuute!" all girly like. I don't do that all the time. And I freaking love Flynn. He did a whole bunch of growing himself throughout the story, and it made me so happy I could probably cry at how much he improved throughout the course of the novel. Have I mentioned that I LOVE that boy?

This story hurt my heart. I found how terrible people were to Flynn completely horrifying. I loved watching things slowly but surely change throughout the book, however. There were still struggles, but as the characters evolved and started dealing with their issues, things got better. Not perfect, but better. And this is one book where I didn't get entirely angry at the MC keeping a secret. Usually, I get all mad because SO MANY problems could have been avoided if they'd just fessed up. But I understood Ellie's reasoning here. I wouldn't want to mess things up with Flynn, either. He was effing fantastic. I also liked how there was something of a build up as to what actually happened the night that Ellie got in trouble. We get the gist of what went down early on, but we don't get the exact story until later, and normally I get irritable about that because I already KNOW what's coming, so ugh. But in this story, I liked it. I was still mad at Ellie for being so terrible, but I liked the storytelling.

A. Meredith Walters' writing was great. I was completely pulled into the story, and it was a beautiful one. Things that usually made me want to throw things worked in this novel, so Walters definitely deserves credit for that. She also did a great job differentiating between Ellie and Flynn's POV. It was completely obvious whose head we were in at any given moment. I especially enjoyed getting a peek into Flynn's head to see how he processed things. We spent more time in Ellie's mind, but I appreciated the glimpses of Flynn. 

There were only two things I didn't particularly like in this book. First, I wish we'd gotten to be in Flynn's POV in present time, when the story was actually happening. I understand that he was important to giving us the backstory, and I loved his chapters, but I wanted so badly to see what went on in his mind NOW, when he and Ellie were trying again, outside of high school, after those years apart. Second, I wanted more from the ending. I liked the ending well enough, especially since it didn't shatter my heart as icing on the cake of sadness I felt throughout reading this whole book, but I would have liked...more. A little more sight into what could come next for the characters--just so I could have a tad bit more closure before the story was over. 

Overall, Reclaiming the Sand is a gripping story that broke my heart over and over again. I felt so much for these characters--especially Flynn. A. Meredith Walters has written a gorgeous, unique story that will definitely stick in my mind for a while, and I am certainly looking forward to reading more from this author.

A Meredith Walters authorThe New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Contemporary and Paranormal romance including The Find You in the Dark and Bad Rep series as well as the upcoming stand alone romance, Reclaiming the Sand, and a dark new adult series for Gallery Books.

A. Meredith spent ten years as a counselor for at risk teens and children. First working at a Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault program and then later a program for children with severe emotional and mental health issues. Her former clients and their stories continue to influence every aspect of her writing.

When not writing (or being tortured with all manner of beauty products at the hand of her very imaginative and extremely girly daughter), she is eating chocolate, watching reality television that could rot your brain and reading a smutty novel or two.

A. Meredith is represented by Michelle Johnson with the Inklings Literary Agency. 

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