TTBF Author Repost Book Review: Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

 

Team Midsummer, Jessica & Lyv, are attending the Texas Teen Book Festival again this year in Austin, TX! To prepare and get ourselves amped-up for this event, we are reposting some of our reviews by some of the TTBF 17 authors!

This review was originally posted on November 3, 2015

 

dumplin

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. 

As someone who suffered from body dysmorphia and a full blown eating disorder, I’m really proud of Julie Murphy and Willowdean as a character.  I wish that I had been as somewhat confident as she was when I was in high school. I can tell you that I was of average size, but as many high schoolers can tell you, everyone is plagued by self doubt and the feeling that everyone is staring at you and judging you.  I wish that this book had existed when I was seventeen.

Basically, Willowdean lives in a little bubble of a town with her enigmatic, skinny, tall best friend, her former pagent queen mother, the ghost of her aunt haunting her childhood home, and a job at the local fast food restaurant. This book really shows how crazy intertwined our body image is with our self worth.  Willowdean, up until Bo kisses her for the first time, really isn’t that tortured by the way she looks or the way that others view her.  Her kryptonite at this point really is just the class jock who also happens to be the class jerk.  Once she starts being pursued by someone who doesn’t fit into the picture she had of how her life would go, she immediately begins to question everything.

She even goes as far as to self sabotage her own semi-relationship with Bo after finding out that he would be attending the same school as her, out of fear for how her classmateswould perceive their relationship.  Or rather, how embarassing it would be for him to be seen with her since she is just a fat girl.  This is so important, to remember that we only expect the love we think we deserve (to paraphrase Perks).  I’m not a huge Dolly Parton fan, but I do know the song Jolene, so I can appreciate the interpretation of the song within the novel.

So Willowdean makes mistakes.  She is so wonderfully realistically constructed as a character that it was almost impossible for me to not feel connected to her and her journey.  I strongly encourage you to pick up a copy of this book and enjoy this character’s journey.

4 Bards to Dumplin’

fourbards

PRIDE Celebration: An Essay

To celebrate PRIDE Month, our very own Olyvia has an essay to share:

 

What does Pride mean to me? I’ve never sat down to try to articulate that. Pride has been such a huge part of my life for so long that I’ve never actually had to think about what it means to me.

Pride is family. I remember when my dad came out to me and my sister. We were around 7 and 8, respectively. We’d been living with his partner for years and it wasn’t weird to me, it was just like having an extra parent. David loved us and we loved him. My dad didn’t tell us he was gay, or even what ‘gay’ was until they’d broken up, and we were moving out. I couldn’t really tell you why at the time, but I knew my dad being gay was something to keep to myself. He kept it from us, so we should keep it from other people.

Except during Pride. Pride became part of my summer routine in Rochester, NY. Even after moving to Florida, we were back for the summer and still going to Pride. Pride celebrations were some of the only times I got to see my dad be himself, when he was with this family that he’d found. A family that understood and accepted him, when he didn’t always get that from his own.

Pride is courage. When I still lived in Rochester, I told one person that my dad was gay, and I was amazed when she told me she had two moms. It was incredible that my best friend understood my life and my dad perfectly. But I also understood that this was still a secret. A secret that I could finally share with someone, but a secret nonetheless.

A few months after moving to Florida, I was hanging out with my closest friend and a few other people when one of them made some comment about the LGBT community. I could not for the life of me tell you what he said because all I remember was my friend’s quick and fierce response, “my sister is bisexual, do you have a problem with gay people?” Later that day when we were hanging out at her place, she became the second person I ever told that my dad was gay. I figured if she could just tell everyone about her sister and defend her sister, and if my dad could live his life and not be ashamed, I wouldn’t be ashamed of him either. I would be proud that he had the courage to come out when he did and be a single parent at the same time.

Pride is representation. After I started being more open about my life, I got the opportunity to be a part of the first Gay-Straight Alliance at my high school and then would go on to serve as the Vice President of the LGBT student organization at my university. I met two of my best friends, one of whom is trans, the other pansexual, who would become my found family.

In working with those groups and having the majority of my friend group identify as queer I started watching and reading more and more queer media. But also I noticed that as the years went on, there was more and more queer media available. Not all of it good, not by a long shot, but still, there is more and more every year. I listened and saw how important it was to see oneself on a screen or in the pages of a book. More importantly, I started to see myself.

Pride… is honesty. I’d always known that I liked men. I’ve only had relationships with men. I’ve kissed a lot of women, as well as men. But I always assumed because none of that led to a relationship, I was just straight. I knew, logically, that I could like both, but realistically, I’d heard  (and even said) a lot of terrible things about bisexual people.

I met the love of my life five years ago. I have no intention of ever letting him go. He’s good to me, he makes me laugh, he understands me, he listens to me complain about the stupidest shit, he lets me cry and snot all over his shoulder when things are really bad, he tells me bad puns just to see my face crinkle, he teaches me new things, he makes me believe growing old wouldn’t be so bad with him by my side.

The truth is I don’t need to be with anyone else to validate my identity. My identity as a bisexual woman doesn’t go away just because I’m with a man and I plan to be with him for the rest of my life. So this Pride month, I’m going to be honest with myself and with everyone, because it’s important to me. And I think it’s especially important at this point in our world, to be who you are in the face of ever-increasing adversity. My hope is that someone else will see my story and can relate and it makes it easier for them to be honest. And above all, to be proud.

Book Review: Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen

Will Scarlet is good at two things: stealing from the rich and keeping secrets – skills that are in high demand in Robin Hood’s band of thieves, who protect the people of Nottingham from the evil sheriff. Scarlet’s biggest secret of all is one only Robin and his men know…that she is posing as a thief; that the slip of a boy who is fast with sharp knives is really a girl.

The terrible events in her past that led Scarlet to hide her real identity are in danger of being exposed when the thief taker Lord Gisbourne arrives in town to rid Nottingham of the Hood and his men once and for all. As Gisbourne closes in a put innocent lives at risk, Scarlet must decide how much the people of Nottingham mean to her, especially John Little, a flirtatious fellow outlaw, and Robin, whose quick smiles have the rare power to unsettle her. There is real honor among these thieves and so much more – making this a fight worth dying for.

 

The only tale I know of Robin Hood is the Disney movie. (It was never my favorite, I was more of a fan of Ariel.) When I started this book I was not expecting much, but I enjoy a story about a strong female. I was actually expecting to stop reading halfway through. While this is not my favorite book it did keep my interest enough for me to finish. The entire time I wanted to know what was going to happen next.

-Some Spoilers-

The thing I disliked most about Scarlet was the love triangle. As an avid romance novel reader I can get how it can get the story moving and keep the reader guessing.  In this book I didn’t want there to be a love triangle. I wanted to see Scarlet play with knives and be a strong female lead on her own with no help from anyone. Maybe the love triangle has some sort of purpose later in the series. Even though I didn’t like love triangle, I still went with it because I am trash for any type of romance story.

-BIG SPOILER-

I was surprised when I found out Scarlet was actually a noble lady. It all made sense, why she was hiding with this band of thieves, why she was so freaked out when Lord Gisbourne came to Nottingham.  I was especially surprised she is engaged Lord Gisbourne. I guess that makes it a love square? When you find out some of the background as to why she is hiding you understand why she is doing what she is doing.

Overall I enjoyed the book, especially that she was strong and didn’t give up when things got hard and that she kept fighting.  It kept me guessing and interested enough to finish. – Liz
3.5 Bards

Scarlet


Kindle Edition: Check Amazon for Pricing Digital Only

#ReadADessen Review: Along for the Ride

It’s been so long since Auden slept at night. Ever since her parents’ divorce—or since the fighting started. Now she has the chance to spend a carefree summer with her dad and his new family in the charming beach town where they live.
A job in a clothes boutique introduces Auden to the world of girls: their talk, their friendship, their crushes. She missed out on all that, too busy being the perfect daughter to her demanding mother. Then she meets Eli, an intriguing loner and a fellow insomniac who becomes her guide to the nocturnal world of the town. Together they embark on parallel quests: for Auden, to experience the carefree teenage life she’s been denied; for Eli, to come to terms with the guilt he feels for the death of a friend.
In her signature pitch-perfect style, Sarah Dessen explores the hearts of two lonely people learning to connect.

 

The first time i read Along for the Ride I was in high school.  Now that I am an adult and am re-reading this book I am seeing it in a much different light. When I was younger I never realized how toxic Auden’s mother and father were. While I was reading this i was kind of shocked to see how toxic her parents were because i did not remember seeing them in such a negative light. As someone who has dealt with toxic family members in their life, I understand the struggle one goes through while coming to terms with the fact that someone you love is toxic to you and you don’t want to let that person go because you do love them and care about them. Auden deals with her parents toxicity gracefully as she learns who she is.

This book is all about change and if people can change. At the beginning of the story we see Auden as a young woman who doesn’t really know who she is. She does her best to please her parents and she does the best in school so that they will notice her.  As the story progresses we see Auden come out of her shell, and learn who she is as well as who she wants to be. The journey Auden goes through is something most young women can relate to. In this book we also see how the people around Auden change, it is nice that we can see the changes her parents go through as she grows as a person.

Although this is not my favorite Sarah Dessen book this is most definitely in my top 5 favorites.This book is perfect for any woman who has had any type of family issue or has simply experienced change in their life.

4.5 Bards

Along for the Ride


Kindle Edition: Check Amazon for Pricing Digital Only

NOLA Review: Orleans by Sherri L. Smith



First came the storms.
Then came the Fever.
And the Wall.

After a string of devastating hurricanes and a severe outbreak of Delta Fever, the Gulf Coast has been quarantined. Years later, residents of the Outer States are under the assumption that life in the Delta is all but extinct… but in reality, a new primitive society has been born.

Fen de la Guerre is living with the O-Positive blood tribe in the Delta when they are ambushed. Left with her tribe leader’s newborn, Fen is determined to get the baby to a better life over the wall before her blood becomes tainted. Fen meets Daniel, a scientist from the Outer States who has snuck into the Delta illegally. Brought together by chance, kept together by danger, Fen and Daniel navigate the wasteland of Orleans. In the end, they are each other’s last hope for survival.

 

ARC Giveaway: The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

 

 

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The love for books is set in stone at Carlson Turner Books and Bookbindery in Portland, Maine.

Photo by @cestchristine

http://www.amidsummernightsread.com/2685-2/

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rykemedows:

Maybe the princess can save herself.
That sounds like a pretty good story too.

http://www.amidsummernightsread.com/2690-2/

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