Saturday, October 17, 2015

Stacking the Shelves (70)

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews. Share all of the bookish goodies you got during the week!


Carry On by Rainbow Rowell


These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly

I have been not so patiently waiting for Carry On, and the moment I got home with it, I read it. Just could not wait. And I loved it! Such a fun read. What have you read recently?

What books are new to your shelves this week?

Friday, October 16, 2015

Feature & Follow Friday: Super Power

Feature & Follow Friday is hosted by Rachel over at Parajunkee's View and Alison of Alison Can Read. This is a chance to get to know fellow book bloggers and have them meet you. Be sure to pop over and meet this week's featured bloggers!

If you could have any super power, what would it be?

My go to answer is always teleportation. I want that power so much! No travel time, save on flights and accommodation - yes please! Plus, it's just plain cool.

A book related super power I'd love is to be able to speed read. To read a book in just a few seconds would be awesome! No more TBR pile! And it totally works, because the TBR pile is absolutely the supervillain in this scenario! I believe Clark Kent in Smallville had this power, but the one I always think of is Reid from Criminal Minds. And he's not even super powered, just fantastic.  

What super power(s) do you want? Share your FF posts so that I can pop by!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Waiting on The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine. It spotlights soon to be released books that can't come quick enough!

I want, want, want...

The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman

Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Published Date: 26 January 2016
Pre-Order: Amazon | The Book Depository | Dymocks Australia

New York Times bestseller Alison Goodman’s eagerly awaited new project: a Regency adventure starring a stylish and intrepid demon-hunter!

London, April 1812. On the eve of eighteen-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall’s presentation to the queen, one of her family’s housemaids disappears-and Helen is drawn into the shadows of Regency London. There, she meets Lord Carlston, one of the few who can stop the perpetrators: a cabal of demons infiltrating every level of society. Dare she ask for his help, when his reputation is almost as black as his lingering eyes? And will her intelligence and headstrong curiosity wind up leading them into a death trap?
(summary from Goodreads)

Hello, The Dark Days Club! Why must you make me wait til January? I really enjoy Regency stories and add in demon hunters, you've hooked me! Definitely looking forward to reading this one!

What book has grabbed your attention?

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Top Ten Author Duos You'd Love To See Write A Book Together

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme started over at The Broke and The Bookish. Each week they have a specific topic for a top ten list. Link up, visit some new blogs and add to your ever growing TBR list! This week's topic is:

Top Ten Author Duos I'd Love To See Write A Book Together

Just the thought has me ready to squee! If any actually happened, I'd definitely go a little crazy being excited and waaaaaaaaiting for the book.

Which authors would you like to see write a book together? Share your Top Ten Tuesday post so I can have a look!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Review: Wendy Darling Vol. 1 - Stars by Colleen Oakes

Title: Wendy Darling: Stars
Author: Colleen Oakes
Series: Wendy Darling, Book One
Publisher: SparkPress
Published Date: 13 October 2015
Buy: Amazon | The Book Depository

I received this book through NetGalley from SparkPress for review.

From the Best-Selling Author of Queen of Hearts comes a dark and mesmerizing twist on the beloved Children's Classic, Peter Pan.

Wendy Darling has a perfectly agreeable life with her parents and brothers in wealthy London, as well as a budding romance with Booth, the neighborhood bookseller’s son. But while their parents are at a ball, the charmingly beautiful Peter Pan comes to the Darling children’s nursery and—dazzled by this flying boy with god-like powers—they follow him out of the window and straight on to morning, to Neverland, a intoxicating island of feral freedom.

As time passes in Neverland, Wendy realizes that this Lost Boy’s paradise of turquoise seas, mermaids, and pirates holds terrible secrets rooted in blood and greed. As Peter’s grasp on her heart tightens, she struggles to remember where she came from—and begins to suspect that this island of dreams, and the boy who desires her—have the potential to transform into an everlasting nightmare.
(summary from Goodreads)

Wendy Darling is a densely descriptive novel that turns flying and pixie dust dreams into a chilling nightmare.

If you like Peter Pan a lot - and I don't mean just the book, but the actual character - Wendy Darling is going to break your heart. Everything you may like about Pan has been twisted to form a malevolent monster hiding behind the charm of a flying boy who doesn't grow up. It's pretty darn cool. It also totally works because Oakes's revision of Peter is believable and it's what I really enjoyed about this book. Peter is terrifying, and the reveals of his true cruel nature are skin crawling. Oakes's writing style helps, as it's a stark contrast. Her descriptions are quite flowery, suiting the times of the book's setting, and the beauty and awe of Neverland allow the darkness of Peter and the realities of this world to truly stand out. There is a downside to the writing style though and that is that I did get impatient with it. A good 50% of this novel is learning about Neverland and Wendy's fluctuating between infatuation with Peter and guilt over the barely remembered Booth. It was easy to see where this story was going and so at times I wanted Oakes to move it along, to delve into the real heart of the story. Unfortunately she only just did so in order to end with a cliffhanger. Which sort of had me screaming, but hey, also means I'm willing to continue the series to see where this saga goes. Mostly, I'm looking forward to seeing a certain dagger put to good use!

A lot of that feeling comes down to Oakes's portrayal of Tink. Oh, Tink. She's mean spirited, mischievous and jealous, and like Peter, it's twisted. There's so much more to Tink's story and it is horrifying and heart-wrenching, the little we learn in this first book. Considering Tink and Peter, I'm very interested to get to know Hook and Oakes's vision of him. He's minor in Wendy Darling, sad to say, but there's no doubt that won't be so for book two. As for Wendy herself, honestly, I'm so so. As I was impatient over the writing style and flow of the story, so too was I with Wendy. She had me rolling my eyes and sighing in frustration a number of times. But on the other hand, because magic! So. I guess we'll see? I also wasn't really feeling Booth and Wendy's relationship with him. There's no development because the narrative jumps right in and then we're off to Neverland, so for now, Booth is simply a tool to negate Peter's influence. I have very definite feelings for John however. I hate him. And not just because he's a nasty jerk - which he is - but because his whole characterisation didn't feel right to me. There's sibling rivalry and there's pure hatred coming out of relatively nothing! While John's antagonism creates drama, it did sometimes feel too manufactured. Plus, okay, I can admit I'm a tad sentimental for the iconic Darling siblings. Sentimentality is not treated well here though, but that's what makes Wendy Darling the dark retelling it is.

If you're a fan of fractured fairy tales, Wendy Darling is for you. The pretty prose can be slightly wishy washy, but Oakes has crafted an intense and sinister reimagination of an adored classic. 


Sunday, October 11, 2015

Review: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Title: Everything, Everything
Author: Nicola Yoon
Publisher: Corgi Children's
Published Date: 3 September 2015
Buy: Amazon | The Book Depository | Dymocks Australia

Madeline Whittier is allergic to the outside world. So allergic, in fact, that she has never left the house in all of her seventeen years. But when Olly moves in next door, and wants to talk to Maddie, tiny holes start to appear in the protective bubble her mother has built around her. Olly writes his IM address on a piece of paper, shows it at her window, and suddenly, a door opens. But does Maddie dare to step outside her comfort zone?

Everything, Everything is about the thrill and heartbreak that happens when we break out of our shell to do crazy, sometimes death-defying things for love.
(summary from Goodreads)


Everything, Everything is a beautiful and sad story with great characters, but certain plot elements disappointed me.

The thing about Everything, Everything is that while reading it, I couldn't get a particular movie out of my head. Bubble Boy anyone? Don't tell me I'm the only one that remembers this movie! Anyways. As certain things in Everything, Everything occurred, as certain coincidences came to light, I couldn't help but realise where Yoon was going and so the huge twist that is a significant part of this story simply wasn't effective. While that did frustrate me, it also couldn't be helped. It wasn't as impacting as intended but it was still emotional and I can appreciate that. What actually really bugged me was Maddy's choices in the lead up to the twist and after. She chooses to face life and death situations for a boy, and I gotta tell you, I just couldn't take it seriously. I understand the reasoning. Maddy was essentially a prisoner, hadn't truly lived - but I can't get past the naivete of it to find it romantic. The back of my book even tells me how "Everything, Everything is about the crazy risks we take for love" but it was just too much. I was also seriously disappointed with where Yoon chose to leave Maddy and her mother's relationship. I definitely get the anger. I cannot even imagine that kind of betrayal. But there is legitimate mental illness here and to me it felt brushed aside and rushed right over simply so Maddy could get the guy. Certainly I wanted that to happen, was absolutely cheering for it, and how it happened was cute and fitting. But not at the expense of true depth of story! Something great and touching could have been developed here, but instead it felt skipped over.

Reading back over that you may be wondering if I'm sure I liked Everything, Everything! I swear I did. I just could have loved it, is all. What I did really like was Yoon's writing style and characters. Everything, Everything is quite quirky in style. The book is full of Maddy's personal definitions of particular words, her one sentence spoiler book reviews (um, beware of those!), her detailed stalker lists of Ollie's family's routines - it's a little wacky. The prose is short and snappy and can be easily read in just a couple of hours. I was half way though this book before I even realised, and wholly engaged. But I also think this adds to my earlier issues a little - despite some heavy plot lines, Yoon ultimately kept Everything, Everything light and quick. It's also full of adorable and funny art that enrich the story. Really, this book is a wonder in terms of cute and humour. Which considering it's plot - again, wacky. Yoon's characters were a big part of this. Maddy is great. She's sad and lonely, intelligent and strong, and full of sass. At least to begin with. I had some serious love for Maddy early on, but as already discussed, her choices didn't work for me. In the end, Maddy's immaturity stuck out more. Still, her cleverness and determination are moving. Maddy's relationship with Olly was sweet. How it developed always had me grinning. Olly is a truly nice guy, complex and interesting. I do wish we could've read from his point of view too. His story also added serious and important issues to the narrative, and I think they were handled more thoughtfully and fulfilling than those of Maddy and her mother. There's not a wide array of secondary characters in Everything, Everything, considering Maddy's isolation. Those we did meet though were memorable and bring something unique to the story.

Everything, Everything wasn't everything I wanted it to be. Oh, see what I did there? But seriously - this book is a sassy, light, fun, troubling story easily consumed and enjoyed. But it ultimately lacked that lasting hit for me.


Saturday, October 10, 2015

Stacking the Shelves (69)

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews. Share all of the bookish goodies you got during the week!


Suicide Notes From Beautiful Girls by Lynn Weingarten
Demon Road by Derek Landy

Harry Potter & The Philosopher's Stone (Illustrated Edition) by J.K. Rowling and Jim Kay

The best thing about this one, besides the awesome book, is that I bought it with a gift card given to me for my birthday by a friend. The same friend bought me Harry Potter & The Philosopher's Stone many years ago for my 18th birthday and got me started on my all out love for everything Harry Potter. Fitting, yes?


Outspoken by Lora Richardson

That's it for books this week! Though I did just put an order in for some more. Hopefully they arrive soon!

Did you add any bookish things to your shelves this week? Share your StS post and I'll check it out.

Lastly, I figured I'd share some photos from my birthday party last weekend. It was Mythical Creatures themed and everyone dressed up. We had leprechauns, fairies, a witch, a gorgon, a vampire, an oni, a fire elemental, a mermaid seahorse rainbow fish, and a Deadpool (my nephew refused to dress as anything else, so whatever!) I was a unicorn, because it seemed fitting with my rainbow hair, but mostly because I just love unicorns! As you'll see.

Pretty decorations!
My favourite balloon, for obvious reasons.
My nephew smashing the pinata. Also a unicorn.
RIP Pinata.
Dressed my dog, Finn, as a pegasus!
Birthday cake!

Friday, October 9, 2015

Feature & Follow Friday: Featured Blogger & Hated Book

Feature & Follow Friday is hosted by Rachel over at Parajunkee's View and Alison of Alison Can Read. This is a chance to get to know fellow book bloggers and have them meet you. Be sure to pop over and meet this week's featured bloggers!

Which is me, yay! Many thanks to Alison and Rachel for featuring my blog. My interview can be read at both their blog's.

Name a book you hated.

There's been a few. The one that springs to mind is Lauren Saft's Those Girls. I hated it so much it's the only book this year I DNF. I always feel guilty about DNFing a book, so I rarely do it - though I think I should learn, to save more time for reading books I like! But Those Girls, I just couldn't get through it.

What book did you hate? Have you read Those Girls? Do you agree or disagree with my hating it?

Welcome to new followers! Thanks so much for visiting my blog and following! Please share your FF posts and I'll be sure to stop by!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Review: The Martian by Andy Weir - Book & Movie Review

Title: The Martian
Author: Andy Weir
Publisher: Del Rey
Published Date: 28 August 2014
Buy: Amazon | The Book Depository | Dymocks Australia

I’m stranded on Mars.

I have no way to communicate with Earth.

I’m in a Habitat designed to last 31 days.

If the Oxygenator breaks down, I’ll suffocate. If the Water Reclaimer breaks down, I’ll die of thirst. If the Hab breaches, I’ll just kind of explode. If none of those things happen, I’ll eventually run out of food and starve to death.

So yeah. I’m screwed.
(summary from Goodreads)

Enthralling and thrilling, The Martian is more fun that you'd probably expect!

I loved this book. From start to finish it is an interesting read and I never wanted to put it down. I admit to only learning about The Martian when I saw the first trailer for the movie. I was instantly intrigued and then a friend enticed (read: demanded!) me to read it. I figured I'd maybe enjoy it but not be quite as into it as I actually was. And it's all because of Weir's MC, Watney. His humour, his constant sarcasm, in the face of every seemingly insurmountable odds is hilarious and entirely captivating. With so much high tension, considering all of the things that could and do go wrong, the humour is a great balance. There's also a lot of science - a lot! - to The Martian, and it definitely went mostly over my head, despite even the layman's descriptions, but every one of Watney's witty asides had me loving what I was reading and not wanting to miss any bit of it. All of Weir's characters make this story great. Each adds a genuineness and heart to it. The point of view chapters from Earth based characters proved just how very not alone Watney was and how far people are willing to go for one another.  

The Martian isn't just an epic story of Mars and space travel, the terror of survival, but of everything good about humanity. It is a story of hope, and it is hilariously awesome.


Title: The Martian
Starring: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Pena, Sean Bean, Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan, Aksel Hennie, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mackenzie Davis, Donald Glover and Benedict Wong.
Director: Ridley Scott
Writers: Drew Goddard (screenplay) and Andy Weir (author)
Released: 1 October 2015

During a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. But Watney has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With only meager supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive. (summary from IMDb)

Obviously, loving the book as I did, I had high expectations for the movie. And I wasn't all that worried they wouldn't be met, to be honest. Thankfully, that was right. The movie is fantastic. It changes up some things from the book, but nothing so significant as to be disappointing. The heart of the story remains. I found certain changes to be necessary. The humour of the book could not reasonably be translated to film, at least not as it stands. Watney's cocky wit is still there, don't get me wrong. But the movie couldn't rely on his transcripts as the book could. Instead, more physical action was needed and the filmmaker's did a great job incorporating humour through that. The Martian as a film is just as thrilling, captivating, entertaining and hilarious as the book. The cinematography is amazing and the music is brilliant. I hope you like disco! Matt Damon is the perfect Watney, and every actor aligned just as well with my imaginings from when I read the book. Though, okay, a few I was aware of before reading the book and so I naturally imagined them to begin with! If you enjoyed the book, see the movie. If you haven't read The Martian, still see the movie. But also read the book! I've actually seen The Martian twice - it's that good! - and with people who had both read and not read the book. They all loved it equally. 


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Waiting on A Criminal Magic by Lee Kelly

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine. It spotlights soon to be released books that can't come quick enough!

I would very much like to read...

A Criminal Magic by Lee Kelly

Publisher: Saga Press
Published Date: 2 February 2016
Pre-Order: Amazon | The Book Depository | Dymocks Australia

THE NIGHT CIRCUS meets THE PEAKY BLINDERS in Lee Kelly's new magical realism, crossover novel.

Magic is powerful, dangerous and addictive - and after passage of the 18th Amendment, it is finally illegal.

It's 1926 in Washington, DC, and while Anti-Sorcery activists have achieved the Prohibition of sorcery, the city's magic underworld is booming. Sorcerers cast illusions to aid mobsters' crime sprees. Smugglers funnel magic contraband in from overseas. Gangs have established secret performance venues where patrons can lose themselves in magic, and take a mind-bending, intoxicating elixir known as the sorcerer's shine.

Joan Kendrick, a young sorcerer from Norfolk County, Virginia accepts an offer to work for DC's most notorious crime syndicate, the Shaw Gang, when her family's home is repossessed. Alex Danfrey, a first-year Federal Prohibition Unit trainee with a complicated past and talents of his own, becomes tapped to go undercover and infiltrate the Shaws.

Through different paths, Joan and Alex tread deep into the violent, dangerous world of criminal magic - and when their paths cross at the Shaws' performance venue, despite their orders, and despite themselves, Joan and Alex become enchanted with one another. But when gang alliances begin to shift, the two sorcerers are forced to question their ultimate allegiances and motivations. And soon, Joan and Alex find themselves pitted against each other in a treacherous, heady game of cat-and-mouse.

A CRIMINAL MAGIC casts a spell of magic, high stakes and intrigue against the backdrop of a very different Roaring Twenties.
(summary from Goodreads)

Um, HECK YES to this! The Roaring Twenties, gangsters, magic - let me have it now please! 

Will you be adding A Criminal Magic to your TBR list? What other book(s) can you not wait to read?

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Top Ten Bookish Things I Want to Quit or Have Quit

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme started over at The Broke and The Bookish. Each week they have a specific topic for a top ten list. Link up, visit some new blogs and add to your ever growing TBR list! This week's topic is:

Top Ten Bookish Things I Want to Quit or Have Quit

Five Bookish Habits I Should Quit

  • Buying more books than I can read - This is definitely number one. I have a bit of an addiction to buying books, I really can't help myself. But my shelves are bursting with books I still haven't read!
  • Questioning my review of a book because it differs from popular opinion - This one is more blogging related, and it's one I struggle with. I always have a moment of worry when posting a review that so differs from most everyone else. I get a little self-conscious, I guess. But it's silly and I need to quit it.
  • Pushing through books I hate because I feel guilty to DNF a book - This I really should quit, because as discussed in point one, I have too many books to read without wasting more time. There's just no saving some books and I need to accept that.
  • Never finishing series' - This. So much this. I never seem to finish a series and it's so very bad. 
  • Getting frustrated and skipping to the end to check how things work out to stop my frustration - I know, I know. THE HORROR! I don't do this a lot, but doing it at all is terrible. I always complained to my brother that I was bored but he'd always respond that it wasn't about boredom, it was my being impatient and being unable to handle the suspense and waiting. He was right. Bloody brothers.

Five Things That Frustrate Me and Make Me Want to Quit Reading a Book

  • Love triangles - And even worse, more than two love interests for one character! Urgh. I'm so over this.
  • Mentioning instincts and then ignoring them - This bugs me because it's a huge flashing neon light that the character's first instinct was correct and some shocking twist will be coming...but it won't actually be shocking because of the aforementioned instinct! Plus, it just makes the character look dumb. 
  • Insta-love - NO! No more! Development is awesome! It is sweet, and swoon-worthy, and can totally sizzle, so give me actual romantic development! 
  • Special Snowflake Syndrome - You know what I mean. The character is painfully ordinary, but wait, apparently they're the only person in all of existence that can do the thing or save the world, or whatever. 
  • A character is faced with a life and death situation, the end of the world, a huge revolution, so on and so on, but still spends an inordinate amount of time wondering if such and such actually likes them - Need I actually go on?

Do you agree with any of these? Or disagree?? Tell me what bookish things you want to or have actually quit.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Stacking the Shelves (68)

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews. Share all of the bookish goodies you got during the week!


Zeroes by Scott Westefeld, Margo Lanagan & Deborah Biancotti
Hello, Goodbye, and Everything In Between by Jennifer E. Smith


The Lost Swimmer by Ann Turner - with many thanks to Simon & Schuster!

I'm off to book club this week which also means a visit to my favourite bookstore again, so next week's Stacking the Shelves may just be another big one. Maybe. I really should try and not buy too much, but we all know how that turns out...

Oh, and before you go, be sure to enter my Birthday Celebration Giveaway! You could win $30AUD worth of books from The Book Depository! Only 2 days left!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Feature & Follow Friday: Kiss, Marry, Kill

Feature & Follow Friday is hosted by Rachel over at Parajunkee's View and Alison of Alison Can Read. This is a chance to get to know fellow book bloggers and have them meet you. Be sure to pop over and meet this week's featured bloggers!

Pick three book characters - Kiss? Marry? Kill?

What fun! And now my brain is busy thinking about all the many book characters that could be contenders...

Okay, so.

Kiss - Hmm, I keep thinking of Tamlin from A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. Pretty sure it's a result of the neck biting.

Marry - Sebastian Faraday from Ultraviolet by RJ Anderson. I love Sebastian! He is my go to book boyfriend, so he's the first I thought of to marry.

Kill - There are obvious answers, like many of the villains we all know and hate. But I'm going to go with Ames from Sarah Dessen's Saint Anything. This guy is the epitome of creepy and I want him to suffer all the suffering possible!

This week's question is probably going to stick with me. I'll read others answers and think "Oh, yes! That character!" and I'll remember characters I completely forgot about and wish I'd included. I bet there's some interesting answers, so please do share the characters you'd kiss, marry or kill.

Oh, and before you go, be sure to enter my Birthday Celebration Giveaway! You could win $30AUD worth of books from The Book Depository!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Review: Dumplin' by Julie Murphy

Title: Dumplin'
Author: Julie Murphy
Publisher: Penguin Books Australia
Published Date: 16 September 2015
Buy: Amazon | The Book Depository | Dymocks Australia

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.
(summary from Goodreads)

Dumplin' is a heartfelt and joyful story, one that is an absolute must read!

All the yes's in the world and so much love with a cherry on top for Dumplin'! This books, it has me a-gushing! An awesome MC with attitude, small town Texas, quirky characters, Dolly Parton, friendship and romance - Dumplin' is full of fun. But that's not all. Murphy also portrays loss, bullying and issues of body image, and she does it beautifully. This is a story that is as hopeful as it is heartbreaking and hilarious. I truly loved every moment of it and just want more and more. Dumplin' is a great contemporary YA and there's no doubt it has a little something for everyone who enjoys this genre. As someone who has been a fat chick for most of my life, this book had that little something extra for me. It spoke to me. There were so many moments where Murphy 'got it' - and not just about being fat, which is even better. But this is a focus because books like this are unfortunately few and far between. And man, how I'd have loved to have a book like it on hand when I was growing up.

What really worked for me is that Dumplin' isn't just a 'fat girl gets the hot guy' story or wholly even body positive 100% of the time. It's nuanced. Willowdean's relationships are complex and messy. She strings a guy along and is as harshly judgmental of others as her mother is of her. She's flawed. She's human. And so she learns. It's through these lessons that Dumplin' soars. Not everything in this book is perfectly resolved. At the end I was slightly disappointed, as it felt abrupt to me. But now I appreciate it. Willowdean's relationship with her mother isn't exactly changed, her relationship with Bo isn't tied up in a neat ribbon, even the beauty pageant is technically left wanting - but that's all kind of the point. Dumplin' isn't about the happily ever after - it's about trying for it. It's about giving it a go and living life to the fullest, no matter what.

It's also about accepting people for who they are and Murphy highlights this through an array of spectacular characters. Willowdean is one feisty MC. She's hilarious and frustrating, and I felt for her every step of the way. Even at her worst and most selfish, when I wanted to shake her, she resonated with me because she's genuine. No one is perfect. Willowdean's relationships are the heart of Dumplin'. Her grief for her Aunt and the friction with her mother is aching. I really liked her best friend, Ellen. Their dynamic changed but they're still, as Willowdean says, "good for each other". Ellen is like the Queen of acceptance, an all round nice person, and I enjoyed how she justified her friendship with Callie even though Willowdean, and even we, don't necessarily like or agree with it. I found it interesting - and kind of terrible - how Willowdean treated Millie, Amanda and Hannah, but then got to know them and appreciate who they are and what they bring to her life. I love that everything Murphy wants readers to understand, the message she's illustrating, isn't something Willowdean already knows and is teaching, but is something she herself had to experience and learn to understand. As for the romance of Dumplin', I'm all for it. I adored both Bo and Mitch. Bo and Willowdean's chemistry is swoon inducing and I loved that he never felt he needed to explain his feelings - he likes her. The end. Mitch is adorable and I hate that Willowdean hurt him. Still, not everything works out and not all couples are meant to be. There's no denying chemistry. Willowdean can have Bo and I'll take Mitch, okay?

Dumplin' is an honest and emotional story, with characters that will capture your heart. You'll laugh and cry, hurt and hope. This is a book so full of sass and heart, it has to be read.