Tag Archive | friendship

Review: Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

Series: Dumplin’ #1

dumplin -julie murphySelf-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.


4 Drink Me Potions


[The song] is catchy and everyone knows the words, but to me, it’s this reminder that no matter who you are, there will always be someone prettier or smarter or thinner. Perfection is nothing more than a phantom shadow we’re all chasing.


Dumplin’ is that book about an atypical heroine you may think of based on the synopsis, but with way more heart and less cheese-y fluffiness than I had pegged it to be.

This book – and my thoughts on it – can be summarized in a few points.

1) Will’s voice as the protagonist was the perfect balance that didn’t overly make me want to sympathize with her yet also showed her vulnerabilities.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes reading stories about girls who are fat does neither of those things. They either lose weight and “get better” and we get to feel “happy” for them or they embrace themselves in such a way that I’m not sure is fully realistic either. This wasn’t the case here and that was surprising. I cheered her on when she was happy with her body and who she was, and was sad with her when she let her doubts get in the way of everything she could aspire to be.

2) The romance wasn’t the highlight.

Wait, what? That can’t be right. I’m saying I didn’t want the romance to be heavily laid on?
You betcha. I frankly didn’t really love Bo. He’s your average good looking guy who was a jerk (to someone else in the past) but now is all romantic and sweet ’cause he’s fallen hard – somehow, and no, we’re not given a reason why – for Will. He seemed too 2-dimensional for such a 3-dimensional girl. SO yeah, I’m quite happy that it wasn’t the focus, especially for the latter half of the book. (I’m sorry, romance fans!)

But don’t get me wrong. It was still sweet. For all of you who really look forward to this.

There’s some kind of peace that comes with knowing that for every person who is waiting to be found, there’s someone out there searching.


3) The ending was abrupt – but in a good way.

I know, how is that a good thing? Well, to me it left things a bit more ambiguous. Like how life is generally. It isn’t always tied up in a nice bow where all the family drama is solved immediately with a deep heart-to-heart talk or couples throwing themselves at each other in happiness after resolving the romantic tensions between them. (Yes, you can see that I’m feeling rather jaded at the moment towards love). I liked that it ended on a good note but without tying up all the loose threads completely.

4) Heartfelt messages for the win! Or life lessons, if that’s what you wanna call them

“Maybe Lucy wasn’t supposed to be your compass forever. Maybe she was there for you just long enough so you could learn how to be your own compass and find your own way.”


Losing her aunt Lucy was a major theme in this book as Will always felt closer to her due to their similar body size. But this isn’t one of those books where the death of a loved one is driving our protagonist crazy with grief or other kinds of pain. Yes, it’s present and it flares up on some days but it’s not just a plot device. It felt real with the lessons Will was able to draw from all the things she remembered and learned anew about her even after death.

5) Girl power!

This story is all about friendships. Will’s ups and downs with her bestie Ellen took a big chunk of this book. If you know what it feels to have someone you’ve just known and gone through so much crap with, this is how it should be portrayed. But aside from lifelong friends, the new ones Will gains in her journey to the pageant was great. I kinda wish there was less of Bo in these pages and more of these girls. They were atypical secondary characters. Not necessarily your characteristic beauties or smarties or sporties. Just…people who want to fit in but others have deemed them OTHER. I loved them, and I love Julie Murphy for creating a story where girls can support each other, even if it’s a bit unwilling at first.

Aside from these things, my only complaint was the slow pacing of the story in the beginning. You know she’s gonna enter a pageant and show everyone that just ’cause she’s fat doesn’t mean she shouldn’t be able to do this. I adore Will for this. But yeah, it was slow going at first, for at least the first half. I wouldn’t say I breezed through this book at all. Other than that, Dumplin’ holds a lot of good messages that warms my heart at the end of the day.

Overall Recommendation:
Dumplin’ features a cast of atypical girls at the heart of the story, and it’s like no other book I’ve read with fat girls in a starring role. While tugging at our heartstrings in sympathy, it doesn’t just stop there. This is a story of embracing who you are – no matter what size, shape or form – and the courage to be your true self and truly be comfortable with it. The girl friendships gained along the way were empowering. The romance was doable although I could’ve gone without it. Overall, a more remarkable book than I had initially boxed it in. And boy, am I glad for that.

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Review: More Than We Can Tell by Brigid Kemmerer

more than we can tell -brigid kemmererRev Fletcher is battling the demons of his past. But with loving adoptive parents by his side, he’s managed to keep them at bay…until he gets a letter from his abusive father and the trauma of his childhood comes hurtling back.

Emma Blue spends her time perfecting the computer game she built from scratch, rather than facing her parents’ crumbling marriage. She can solve any problem with the right code, but when an online troll’s harassment escalates, she’s truly afraid.

When Rev and Emma meet, they both long to lift the burden of their secrets and bond instantly over their shared turmoil. But when their situations turn dangerous, their trust in each other will be tested in ways they never expected. This must-read story will once again have readers falling for Brigid Kemmerer’s emotional storytelling.


4 Drink Me Potions


Heart-rendering in a way that pulls all my heartstrings, More Than We Can Tell is a poignant follow-up to its companion novel that centred on a unique character whose heart has won over many readers even before picking up this book.

Rev Fletcher was an interesting protagonist to see the world through. Many awful things had happened to him yet it didn’t turn him into a bad person with a jaded view on life and society. Instead, it gave him his heart of compassion and loyalty. But that didn’t mean the demons from his past experiences weren’t following him, and I was so very eager to see how (and who) would help him face these demons head-on.

Our love interest for Rev, Emma, was just as intriguing. Awkward yet lovable, this gamer girl who wanted to stay strong and true to herself was just right for Rev. With her own slew of problems that were no less as painful to go through, this book really focused on strength in the midst of a storm. And while it’s not as light of a contemporary read as others, I found myself particularly resonating with such tormented hearts. Life wasn’t easy and had given them each obstacles to overcome. What they each learned from them, and the process that led them there, was simple yet heartfelt. From the depths of familial love to the deep bonds of sacrificial friendship and trust, there were a lot of encouraging messages that resonated deeply.

While this was an enjoyable read, there was just…something missing from it for me. Maybe it was more that I saw Rev and Emma’s relationship as less romantic and more of a deep friendship? Maybe it’s just the emotional state I was in while reading this novel but I particularly loved seeing how their tentative trust in each other built as fate kept bringing them back in one another’s lives. I mean, wouldn’t you want to find someone like that? I’d love a Rev, honestly. Not so much for his jujitsu techniques and physique (although that’s a plus!), but his forthrightness, his integrity and solid trust in God and a greater meaning to his life.

And that is the other thing. I couldn’t wrap my head around whether or not Brigid saw religion and faith as a negative or a positive thing in Rev’s life. Maybe a bit of both. I don’t think it can be construed as offensive to anyone as the awful religious aspects were considered abnormal, but at the same time, I just don’t know.

Either way, it was interesting to see this kind of portrayal in YA contemporary and I felt like I could connect with Rev more because of it. Fast-paced and a great follow-up to an amazing book, More Than We Can Tell holds a lot for fans of Brigid Kemmerer’s past works.

Overall Recommendation:
More Than We Can Tell delivered a heavy message that was ultimately uplifting while also heartbreaking. Both Rev and Emma’s voices rang true with their individual struggles and as their stories crossed, Kemmerer continues to show how well she can weave a story of the hardships that shape us into the better people that we are. Call me a true fan now as I don’t think she can do wrong when it comes to her contemporaries!

Review: Lucky in Love by Kasie West

lucky in love -kasie westCan’t buy me love…

Maddie’s not impulsive. She’s all about hard work and planning ahead. But one night, on a whim, she buys a lottery ticket. And then, to her astonishment—

She wins!

In a flash, Maddie’s life is unrecognizable. No more stressing about college scholarships. Suddenly, she’s talking about renting a yacht. And being in the spotlight at school is fun…until rumors start flying, and random people ask her for loans. Now Maddie isn’t sure who she can trust.

Except for Seth Nguyen, her funny, charming coworker at the local zoo. Seth doesn’t seem aware of Maddie’s big news. And, for some reason, she doesn’t want to tell him. But what will happen if he learns her secret?


2 Drink Me Potions


I have to say, I was really disappointed to give any Kasie West contemporary novel less than 4 stars, but man, was this a hard one to continue with at times.

Lucky in Love mostly continues in the same writing fashion that I’ve come to love from Kasie West. But with a main character that I just couldn’t stand with on most decisions and a lackluster romance that didn’t really do much for me, I was left with only disappointment and resignation.

Maddie, full name Madeleine that’s pronounced the French way of “lynn” instead of “line”, was a studious girl who wanted nothing more than to win a scholarship to pay for university. Although she studied WAYYYY harder than I ever did (like, she and her friends “hang out” by having study dates at one of their homes), I initially felt some sort of kinship with her based on similar outward characteristics.

Then she won the lottery. Which of course we knew was coming.

What I didn’t expect was the amount of HORRIBLE DECISION MAKING that accompanies sudden fame, attention, and money. It’s like she wasn’t thinking! I will start by listing out some example things she thought was great and all.

  1. She decides to get a new car which isn’t a bad thing if you can afford a new vehicle after 50 million dollars has just dropped into your lap. But even with good intentions of getting a practical vehicle, she easily gets sweet-talked into buying some VERY flashy sports car after getting the chance to “test drive” it for a moment. Just drops a ton of money there.

  2. She tries FIXING things in her family way too much. She thought wiping away the family’s financial problems would 100% fix her parents’ inability to communicate without fighting. Of course, when she realized that didn’t necessary stop all the fighting, she goes and buys a $20K necklace for her dad to give to her mom to say that he bought for her. Like, what the heck? You’re ENABLING. And doing so in a very expensive and wasteful manner.

  3. Attitude problems seem to come with becoming rich. She didn’t seem to be one of those girls that looked down on anyone who was less fortunate, yet her 2 best friends were shut down as merely being “jealous of her money” when they were worried about her spending and the new people she was associating with now that her status had changed. And boy does her status change! You should read what she decides to do for her birthday party. It’s a wonder these 2 friends even still saw the same old Maddie inside.


Maddie’s naivety with money and how that affects people just really got under my skin. She drops big, FLASHY purchases here and there and doesn’t think there’ll be ramifications with those actions. She wants people to treat her the same but she doesn’t really ACT the same now, does she? I couldn’t understand her sometimes. I just couldn’t feel for her when things got bad because hey, it was YOUR decision to spend like this and treat people like this.

And then there’s Zoo Seth, the love interest. I liked him. On his own as a character. He’s Asian, so yay, that’s an awesome diversity I don’t see too often. He’s funny and easygoing and a really good friend, even when Maddie’s all awkward and really not easy to be around. He could’ve had more character development as I felt he was really just summed down to one little secret he didn’t divulge until the end that wasn’t much of anything, really. But compared to Maddie, he’s like godlike. The chemistry was kinda present, yet with all my annoyances with Madeleine, it was kinda hard to root for their burgeoning romance. It wasn’t much of victory when they resolved their issues and got their happy-ever-after ending. Honestly, at that point, I couldn’t have cared less.

Just because this book still has “Kasie West” on it and there were some VERY MINOR redeemable moments, I didn’t have the heart to bring this down to a 1 star. But really, if I were you, I’d skip out on this one if you only want good memories of Kasie.

Overall Recommendation:
Lucky in Love was harder to get through than I expected as the protagonist made all the worst decisions for the dumbest reasons that just made me wanna scream sometimes. Maddie’s win from the lottery did help her grow (in the end), but there were too many stumbles along the way and very stupid purchases that honestly had me rolling my eyes. With that kinda struggle, it’s no surprise that the romance with Seth Nguyen didn’t hit me much so all that’s really left in this book is how Maddie even remotely “learned her lesson” about money and its consequences in relationships and life. Which was not what I signed up for no matter how good the moral. You’re better off with any other Kasie West book. Promise.