Wednesday 12 August 2020

Book Review - Dumplin

 Title: Dumplin

Author: Julie Murphy

Series: Dumplin (book 1)

Publisher: HarperCollins 

Release Date: 4 May 2017

ISBN-13: 978-0062327192



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 girl does.

Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.

 My Review

I am a huge fan of Dolly Parton, so when I saw an advert for a new Netflix film called Dumplin' where the main character is also a fan and uses her music to guide her in life, i knew I wanted to see what it was all about. I watched the film and really enjoyed it, but then I realised that it was based on a book so I had to source a copy. However I usually always read a book before a film as I don't want any preconceptions of the story or characters, so I have had the book sitting on my shelves for a few months now. However I was in the bookstore the other day and saw that there was a follow up book called 'Puddin' so I decided to give Dumplin' a try. 

Dumplin' lives in a quiet little village where nothing ever really happens, except the annual beauty pageant that takes place. It is the biggest and most important moment in every girls life, except Willowdean, she isn't exactly the pageant type. Except her mum is a former winner and now runs the pageant so expectations are high. Willowdean is on the larger size, her mum is always trying to get her to diet or giving her disapproving looks, but Will is happy with her body, or at least she thinks she it. That is until she meets Bo, a hot co-worker who seems to show an interest in her, suddenly she is questioning why he likes her, how can he when she looks like she does? Suddenly Willowdean is looking for answers, and she thinks she can find it inside the pageant. 

I remembered bits of the film but not much, so it was nice to approach the book with fresh eyes. Willowdean is the sort of character that you can't help but like straight away, she has a sort of southern charm about her and she is quite frank in her opinions which is refreshing. Her friendship with Ellen is lovely and the girls make a great pair. But even that doesn't necessarily last, which gives a whole different dynamic to the story which I actually really enjoyed. 

Will is not afraid to speak her mind but she also has doubts. She wants to get along with others but won't stand for anyone who makes her or her friends feel bad. She has self-doubt, worries about friends and family and she is mourning the loss of her aunt. She makes mistakes and doesn't  always do whats best for those around her or herself, but she means well and tries to do the right thing. Overall she is a really realistic character and someone who I imagine I would have been friends with at school.

There is a bit of a love triangle story but it isn't overdone or too cliched so it works really well and keeps the plot moving. I enjoyed meeting Will's new group of oddball friends and am excited to learn more about them in the next book. 

This book is a really easy read and is a real feel-good book. It asks you to think about expectations that society and others may cast upon you and what it is that you really want out of life. It's about looking for the things that make you who you are and loving yourself for being that person. 

This book has a real charm about it and is a really enjoyable read.

My Rating      

Saturday 1 August 2020

Book Review - What's A Girl Gotta Do?

Title: What's A Girl Gotta Do?
Author: Holly Bourne
Series: The Spinster Club (Book 3)
Publisher: Usborne Publishing Ltd
Release Date: 1 Aug. 2016
ISBN-13: 978-1474915021


1. Call out anything that is unfair on one gender

2. Don't call out the same thing twice (so you can sleep and breathe)

3. Always try to keep it funny

4. Don't let anything slide. Even when you start to break...

Lottie's determined to change the world with her #Vagilante vlog. Shame the trolls have other ideas...

My Review
I've been powering through this series, but I was always hesitant about this book as Lottie is very loud and shouty and I was worried how she would come across in this book. I knew it would be focused heavier on the feminist issues and I wasn't sure if it would come over in the best way.
Lottie is always the strong one, the most opinionated, and the most clever. Her parents are expecting her to go to Cambridge and study politics with the hope that one day she will be Prime Minister. But things are never simple, especially when you have strong beliefs. Walking to school one day, Lottie is confronted by a couple of men and feels threatened by their sexual innuendoes. Deciding that she never wants to feel that way again, she starts her new project. For one month she will call out every little piece of feminism that she sees, no matter how petty it may seem. The more aware people are, the easier it will be to change things. But there is more to deal with than Lottie first thought, and this may turn out to be the longest month of her life.
The idea behind this story was good, raising awareness and calling behaviours out, but with Lottie's attitude, the whole thing came across as very aggressive and I felt like she made things a lot worse for herself and others. It was so over the top.
Throughout the book, Lottie gets called all sorts of names, one of them being 'man-hater', she argues that she is a true feminist and is fighting for equality for both genders, but a lot of what she does is very one-sided. There is one scene when Will comes to her house for a visit and makes a comment about how her room is decorated and then calls her 'psycho'. She immediately blasts him as sexist and says he can't call her that just because she is passionate and emotional. Then in the next breath calls him a c*ck. That to me is then sexist the other way. You can't tell someone off for calling you a name, and then calling him one in return. Unfortunately this happens quite a few times throughout and it makes it all seem a bit hypocritical to me.
My other issue is that the story is too much in Lottie's head, and follows a pattern of 'I'm angry, I'm tired, I can't do this, I have to do this...' pretty much on a loop, I understand this is an emotional project and that she is bound to struggle, but nothing ever seemed to change or resolve. Lottie is very pig-headed and refuses to back down on anything - even when I think she is definitely wrong.
I do think the issue of feminism is important - but to use Will's word - 'Equalitist' would be a better phrase - making life equal for BOTH genders, this book to me came across as very women based and in fact a bit sexist towards men.
Once again the other characters are in the background but don't really develop much. At one point I was only still reading because I wanted to know what would happen to Megan, but apart from her few odd appearances and the idea that 'something has happened' - it never goes anywhere else.
I just felt that this was a really disappointing end to what was a fairly good series, I really liked Evie and Amber and felt them grow a lot as characters, but this book just fell a bit flat for me and I had to really push myself to keep reading. I kept going to hear about Megan, and to see if Lottie actually manages to get into Uni - which you still don't find out! (I'm assuming she does).
Overall, this book just didn't do it for me, it felt quite aggressive and angry. There is quite a lot of strong language in the book too. Worth reading to finish off the series, but not the best.

My Rating