Dumplin by Julie Murphy

Summary:

Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked…until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.

Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.

With starry Texas nights, red candy suckers, Dolly Parton songs, and a wildly unforgettable heroine—Dumplin’ is guaranteed to steal your heart.

The Review:

This book was on my TBR for a long time, even before I heard about the Netflix movie, and seeing the trailer kinda made me want to read it more, and luckily my library had it.

With Willowdean or Dumplin, she deals with the fact that she is fat, and the daughter of a beauty queen. She deals with her normal life with school and friends, while also dealing with the constant bullying from classmates.

The beginning of the book does a good job at setting up her character arc, and seeing why she would join a beauty pageant even if she was seen as unconventional. With her entering the pageant she inspired other girls who weren’t seen as conventional beauty to also join, including Millie, another fat girl, and Hannah, a queer latina. I thought they were great characters and I loved Millie’s story arc.

What I like about the book is the theme of empowerment and the message about body positivity. It didn’t deal with the fact that Willowdean needed to lose weight or having her be happy after weight loss. It also took a lot of shots at diet culture, and how it made her miserable.

She also deals a lot with grief, especially with her aunt Lucy, who she was very close with, even closer than her mother. Willowdean made for a great main character because throughout the book I was constantly rooting for her at every turn.

I thought her relationship with her mother was pretty layered. Yes, her mother would try to get her to diet, and become more like her. As Willowdean enters the pageant the relationship starts to unravel a bit, but in the end, both of them kinda come to an understanding and I liked that.

There is also some romance. Firsts there is Bo, her co-worker at the diner and their relationship was really good, and you could see that he cared about her. While it does come across as a cliche romance I did enjoy seeing them together. Then there is Mitch, football player at her school and it also had the cliche romance in which he was almost embarrassed to be seen with her.

In the end, I loved reading Dumplin. It was a great book from start to finish. It was a great and empowering message with an amazing character in Willowdean to follow. I will definitely be watching this when it comes on Netflix.

Grade: 4.5/5

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Dear Rachel Maddow by: Addrienne Kisner

Summary:

Brynn Haper’s life has one steadying force–Rachel Maddow.

She watches her daily, and after writing to Rachel for a school project–and actually getting a response–Brynn starts drafting e-mails to Rachel but never sending them. Brynn tells Rachel about breaking up with her first serious girlfriend, about her brother Nick’s death, about her passive mother and even worse stepfather, about how she’s stuck in remedial courses at school and is considering dropping out.

Then Brynn is confronted with a moral dilemma. One student representative will be allowed to have a voice among the administration in the selection of a new school superintendent. Brynn’s archnemesis, Adam, and ex-girlfriend, Sarah, believe only Honors students are worthy of the selection committee seat. Brynn feels all students deserve a voice. When she runs for the position, the knives are out. So she begins to ask herself: What Would Rachel Maddow Do?

The Review:

Trigger Warning: This book contains scenes dealing with abuse and homophobia. 

This is an author I saw at Boston Teen Author Festival, and while I didn’t get a chance to pick up her book there I decided to add to by TBR. This was a very quick read, which I sometimes enjoy especially with YA Contemporary.

I would describe this as a sort queer-girl version of Perks of Being a Wallflower, with a young girl dealing with everyday life, while sort of writing letters to Rachel Maddow, a reporter for MSNBC.

Brynn, is entering a new school year after the death of her old brother and a very bad break up from an ex-girlfriend, Sarah. She spends most of her time as a loner just trying to get through the year, and also dealing with her mother and her stepfather, Fart Weasel.

I like the concept that the book is told through her draft emails to Rachel Maddow, and I think it makes the book or her actions seem very therapeutic, as if she is writing to Rachel Maddow herself. Throughout the book she sends about a few actual emails to Rachel Maddow, sort of explainiunbg about her life. With the format of emails, it helped me feel for Brynn and form more of a connection with her.

The main plot of the book is dealing with a student receiving a seat on the selection committee of the new superintendent of schools, and while ex Sarah, and Adam, the school’s popular jock want to only open up the selection to honor students, Brynn wants to make sure everyone has a voice.

Throughout the book, she also tries to run for student body president against Adam, and she has to deal with a lot of negative campaigning and homophobia directed at her.

At home she deals a lot with her abusive stepfather, and neglectful mother and some of the abuse scenes could be triggering and effects her mentally.

She also starts to form a relationship with Micheala, a new girl at school who she begins to like, and rebound from Sarah. I though their relationship was very cute and it was nice to see some f/f relationships that didn’t end bad. I found myself rooting for her constantly.

She also has some great friends, such as Lacey, who helps tutors her for her classes and Justin, who tries to get Brynn back on the school paper and also help deal with an arson that Adam may have done at the War memorial.

I felt the ending was a bit rushed, and while it was satisfying, I would have liked to see it more fleshed out.

In the end, Dear Rachel Maddow, was a nice sweet read taking a journey with a young girl navigating through life with the help of Rachel Maddow. I though Brynn was a very compelling character to take this journey with

Grade 4/5

What If It’s Us by Adam Silvera and Becky Albertali

Summary:

Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.

Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?

Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.

Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.

But what if they can’t quite nail a first date . . . or a second first date . . . or a third?

What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work . . . and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?

What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?

But what if it is?

The Review:

When i first heard that Becky Albertali and Adam Silvera was writing a book together, I was very ecstatic. I am a fan of both of their writings and I wanted to see what they could come up with together. I also had the strage feeling that I “Will suffer and be happy about it” because I know both of their writings.

This book is a very much like a romantic comedy with two boys falling in love in New York City. It started with a chance encounter in which Arthur, while working in a post office meets Ben who is mailing stuff back to his ex-boyfriend, they strike up a little bit of a flirtation before going on their way. I even liked how some of their beginning moments was interrupted by a Flash Mob proposal.

Arthur is the sort of hopeless romantic type, and is trying to figure out who the “cute boy” from the Post office was and is trying to figure out everything about him. His character was mainly written by Albertali, with him coming from Georgia and just visiting New York for the summer. A lot of her knack for writing great characters comes with Arthur. I also kinda relate for his love of Broadway musicals and him referencing Hamilton every chance he gets.

Ben, who was written by Silvera, is a white passing Puerto Rican living in New York and meet Arthur while dealing with a recent break up from his boyfriend Hudson. Adam Silvera wrote his character as very relatable, and his best friend Dylan, was a riot. The fact that he is very white passing is brought up a lot throughout the book, along with the racism he had to face.

With both Ben and Arthur, they are both sort of opposites. Ben, is spending his summer in summer school and is just trying to get by in school, while Arthur is an Ivy League bound student. But I did love the connection they had with one another, and they both complimented each other in a sense. While their first date was almost a bust they did enjoy each other, and I loved reading about their courtship.

Since it is very much a romantic comedy, it did follow almost the same beats of the romantic, with a few cliche moments such as “the misunderstanding” and trying to win each other back. With both of Alberatali’s and Silvera’s writing both of these characters came alive with every page, with me humming “Only Us” from Dear Evan Hansen.

In the end, What if It’s Us, was a match made in heaven with two great YA authors. Both Silvera and Albertali crafted a great love story with two boys, falling in love that one summer. I enjoyed reading every page of it.

Grade: 4.7/5

November 2018 TBR

Happy November everyone, and for my writers Happy Nanowrimo!

I haven’t done a TBR in a while, and since for the past month I have been buying a lot of books I think it is high time that I read some of them and give me my own reading schedule.

This maybe subject to change.

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This maybe cheating, since I am currently reading it and I am half way through and really enjoying it so far. I love Ben and Arthur.

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This author was on my TBR for such a long time, it is kinda strange that I haven’t read any of his books, especially with me being a Game of Thrones fan.

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Another confession, I never read anything by Naomi Novik, and I saw this in a little book sale and I had to buy it. It looks like a Rumpelstiltskin retelling, and if you know me, you know I love my fairy tale retellings.

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Yeah, yeah, I know. But if you have been following me, you know I am a Marissa Meyer fan. She is an autobuy author for me. I loved Renegades so much and I was very excited to find out that it will be a trilogy.

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I know, I am late for the party, especially since Kingdom of Ash just came out, but I do enjoy most of her work. I also did a good job at avoiding spoilers for myself, so I have a clear head on.

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I am finally going to break down, and read Cassandra Clare. I did read a bit of the Mortal Instruments series, but never got back to it. I did hear some good things about Lady Midnight, and it would be nice to read a series back to back without the waiting in between.

That’s me TBR for the month of November. What books do you plan on reading this month? Let me know in the comments below! I also wish the best of luck to those participating in Nanowrimo.

WWW Wednesday 10/24/2018

Welcome to WWW Wednesday which is currently being hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World of Words. It’s really just a place to do little update on what all you’ve been reading lately. Anyone is welcome to join, just leave a link to your post in the comments and be sure to give the appropriate credit to Sam

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

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Last year I read, All Rights Reserved and I really enjoyed reading it. It was about a world in which every word is copyrighted, so speaking will cost you. A young girl named Speth, decided not to speak and sparked a revolution. So far the sequel expands heavily on its world and its premise and I am enjoying it.

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This is a graphic novel that I always wanted to read. I am a fan of Brian K. Vaughan’s writing mainly Saga, and this is a post apocalyptic world in which all men are dead and there is only one.

What did you recently finish?

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After years of putting it off, I finally tasted the Mark Lawrence Kool-Aid, and loved it. I really enjoyed reading this book. It had everything I need in a dark high fantasy, with murder and stabby, stab. Sort of like if nuns were also killer assassins. I can’t to see where this story ends up. Thank you Meltotheany

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This is the second book I read by Holly Black. While I did enjoy the book, I did feel that the characters didn’t stick with me like they did in The Cruel Prince.

What do you think you’ll read next?

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The YA crossover event of the century. Ever since this book was announced, it was on my TBR. I recently saw them at Boston Book Festival, and they are awesome people. Now I just want to know if it’s a Silvera ending or an Albertali ending.

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This is another YA contemporary dealing with police brutality, but also issues involving mental health. I also meet the author at Boston Book Festival, and hearing him talk about the book, made me want to go and pick it up.

That is my WWW Wednesday. What books are you currently reading? What have you recently finished and what will you be reading next? Let me know in the comments below!

 

 

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by: Holly Black

Summary:

Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.

The Review:

The Cruel Prince was the first book I read by Holly Black, and since I loved that book so much, and I cannot wait for The Wicked King to come out, I decided to start reading some of her early work.

This is a stand alone, which is very unusual for me to read, because I do like reading series most of the time, but this one caught my eye because it was about vampires.

In this book the Vampires lived in a sort of closed off place away from the rest of the world in a place called Coldtown. I like that within the story, Vampires were basically the product of a plagued. But not only does Coldtown inhabit Vampires but also humans who have been bitten but not turned yet. With her writing, Holly Black does a good job in describing Coldtown to the reader. I also love the Coldtown reality show, it really adds to some to the meta humor.

I also love the first chapter. It had a really good eerie feel to it, in which Tana wakes up and sees a whole bunch of corpses from a late night party, and her confusion and dismay for the events that have been taken place. Like I said earlier, it is a great testament to her writing and her lyrical style.

A weak aspect I had with the book, was mainly its characters. Particularity Tana. I didn’t really feel a connection with Tana, like I did with other YA protagonists. I think a lot of her story arc took place around her. Some aspects I did like, was her relationship with her mother, and feeling that her mother’s death was kinda of her fault even though it wasn’t in the end.

There is Aidian, Tana’s ex boyfriend. I didn’t feel like he had an arc and was more of a plot device just to get Tana to Coldtown, to try to get him some help because he was bitten.

Gavriel, is sort of the Vampire bad boy, who has to guide Tana through Coldtown. I did like his backstory and his relationship with his maker, Lucian. I did really like his story line and I kinda wish his character was a bit more fleshed out.

I thought some of the other supporting characters were fine, like Valentina, who I really enjoyed reading about and Jameson.

While I did enjoy the book, I did feel that it wasn’t as good as The Cruel Prince. I kinda wish this book wasn’t a stand alone, and we could learn more about Coldtown, the Vampires and the Vampire hunters. The ending felt sort of rushed because of it, with Lucian a pretty cool antagonist being nothing more than a monster of the week.

In the end, I enjoyed The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. Holly Black’s writing was really good and her descriptiveness helped really drive in the setting. I felt the characters were not as fleshed out as her other character’s and I really felt more stories set within this universe would have fleshed them out a lot.

Grade: 3.8/5

 

Wildcard by Marie Lu

Summary:

Emika Chen barely made it out of the Warcross Championships alive. Now that she knows the truth behind Hideo’s new NeuroLink algorithm, she can no longer trust the one person she’s always looked up to, who she once thought was on her side.

Determined to put a stop to Hideo’s grim plans, Emika and the Phoenix Riders band together, only to find a new threat lurking on the neon-lit streets of Tokyo. Someone’s put a bounty on Emika’s head, and her sole chance for survival lies with Zero and the Blackcoats, his ruthless crew. But Emika soon learns that Zero isn’t all that he seems–and his protection comes at a price.

Caught in a web of betrayal, with the future of free will at risk, just how far will Emika go to take down the man she loves?

The Review:

This book, just proved why Marie Lu, is one of my favorite authors. I was also lucky to get an ARC of this book, while at a Sabaa Tahir event.

Wildcard picks up pretty much where Warcross left off. In which Emika found out about Hideo’s plan to use the Neurolink to basically control the population. What made it great was the act that it was one of those things that really makes you think whether or not that Hideo was right.

Emilka also joins Zero’s gang in order to take down Hideo, while also simultaneously trying to avoid Hideo at all costs, because some tried to kill her, and that’s where the plot gets moving. A major strength is how fast paced this book was, and I felt that there was never a dull moment in the book.

Also there is Zero’s story. His story arc was amazing, while in the Wildcard he was mainly a background character who speaks to Emika secretly, he really has some great development, and you find out about his backstory and all that has happened to him. I also loved seeing some Black coats especially Jax, who was one of my favorite characters.

Also Hideo’s story arc was great as well. He was a very complex character, and while he wants to use the Neurolink to basically control the population and destroy the notion of freewill. What made it great was how what he believed what he was doing was right, and was driven my the kidnapping of his brother. I always feel that best antagonists believe that they are the protagonists of their stories.

Also like a Marie Lu book, there is some twists and turns that I did not see coming. There is also the fact that the Neurolink was a small part of a bigger issue. That is all I am going to say because I do not want to spoil anything.

If there was a negative, I felt that I wish I saw more of the Phoenix Riders because I loved those characters so much in Warcross, and I wished they were more fleshed out in this book.

In the end, I loved Wildcard. It has everything that I love about Marie Lu’s books. With its amazing characters and a non stop plot. It takes some great twists and turns with a an amazing story to go with it.

Grade: 5/5