Saturday, September 12, 2015

Review of Dumplin' by Julie Murphy

Title/Author: Dumplin' by Julie Murphy
Publisher/Date published: Balzer + Bray, September 15th 2015
How I got this book: received it from the publisher as an egalley
Buy this book at: The Book Depository

Goodreads 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.

So there's been a lot of buzz about this book and most of it is well-deserved. I was interested from the moment I saw the part in the summary that says 'Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body.'. I really wish everyone, including myself, would always feel this way.

Like Side Effects May Vary, Julie Murphy doesn't sugarcoat things in Dumplin', there's a lot of ugliness going on when it comes down to high school and people who are different from the norm in how they look. And you know what, it's not ok that some people are made fun of for how they look. It's not ok that people get oinked at if they're overweight or if a guy thinks it's funny to neigh like a horse because you have buckteeth. It's not. But it is reality and a whole lot of people are not going to change anytime soon.

I loved how Willowdean was this confident person, who knows who she is and doesn't take crap from people. And then she goes and shrinks in on herself because of a guy. And I SO got that, but it still made me cringe to see it. And I really hated how she let what other people would think ruin her happiness. I could fully understand how things happened, but holy wow, was she making a big mess of things for herself!

I sorta have mixed feelings about Dumplin', cause on one hand I LOVE how it made me think about everything about body image and how there's this pressure to look good and be thin and while as a doctor I also tell people to lose weight, that is not the most important thing in being healthy. It's also a healthy mind. And your BMI can be too high, but you can still be healthier than someone who wears a size 2. And I can especially relate to the part where Julie Murphy through Willowdean talks about how everyone has their moments in which they don't feel beautiful or inferior to someone else, because we've probably all been that person at one point in life or maybe a little more often.

But there are a couple of things that I didn't like so much, and some of it's due to me not really connecting with Willowdean as a character. The way she treated this one guy made me cringe every time, because to me if felt like she was just using him and while he may not be her crush, he was a sweet, decent guy who didn't deserve this. And I also felt like she was basically using the other unlikely candidates at first, in the end I believe that she's truly their friend, but I didn't feel like this started with the purest of intentions.
And I really had a problem with her relationship with her mom, they're both not giving an inch and it was painful and harsh and nothing really gets resolved in my opinion.

I guess that part of what disappointed me is that it sends a body positive image like The DUFF did, but The DUFF is just so much more amazing in every way and I can't help comparing the two books. I just felt that this could have been something more.
BUT this is not me saying that I didn't enjoy reading Dumplin', because I did like it and it was a quick read for me (though I had zero time to read the last couple of days). I appreciate that it's harsh at times, and that Willowdean does grow as a person over the course of Dumplin', but the spark that would have made me love this book just wasn't there for me.

My rating: 3,5 stars

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Review of The Sleeping King by Cindy Dees

Title/Author: The Sleeping King (untitled series #1) by Cindy Dees
Publisher/Date published: Macmillan-Tor/Forge, September 8th 2015
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley

Goodreads summary: The Sleeping King is the start of a new fantasy series by New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Cindy Dees.

Dees has won a Golden Heart Award, two RITAs for Category Suspense and Adventure and has also twice snared RT's Series Romantic Suspense of the Year. She is a great storyteller, and the adventures in her more than fifty novels are often inspired by her own life. Dees is an Air Force vet-the youngest female pilot in Air Force history-and fought in the first Gulf War. She's had amazing adventures, and she's used her experiences to tell some kickass stories.

But as much as she loves romances, Cindy's other passion has been fantasy gaming. For almost twenty years she's been involved with Dragon Crest, one of the original live action role-playing games. She's the story content creator on the game, and wanted to do an epic fantasy based on it, with the blessing and input of Dragon Crest founder Bill Flippin.

The Sleeping King is the first in an epic fantasy series, featuring the best of the genre: near immortal imperial overlords, a prophecy of a sleeping elven king who's said to be the savior of the races... and two young people who are set on a path to save the day

So live action role-playing games have fascinated me for a time now, mainly because I've never actually participated in one and it sounds like a whole lot of fun, but also like a huge investment of both time and also costumes and such (some of my friends LARP and they have the most amazing props). Which is why the mention of this being the base for this epic fantasy immediately drew my attention!

I have to be honest, I was a bit daunted by the size of The Sleeping King (it's a whole whopping 496 pages), but the writing drew me in from the start, so my worries were soon non-existant. And I really loved the voices of both Will and Raina, who are our two main heroes. Obviously, there's a whole band of characters to get to know and I really liked that there's a quest. I mean, they actually really have a purpose in setting everything in motion, and while to sorta fall into it in the beginning, they definitely man up to the challenge so to speak.

There's a whole lot of worldbuilding going on and I was immediately intrigued, so the amount of information that is given didn't bother me in the slightest, cause I'd love to know even more of this world. I will however say that the story was a bit slow to really take off in the beginning and I'm still kinda wondering where all the different players tie in and how their storylines will come together, but I'm sure that will be further explained in the next book. And I do get that our two heroes need a backstory, but I very much liked it when they fell in with the same band and the story could take off.

The Sleeping King is my kind of epic fantasy, there's a quest and lots of travelling and there's so much scheming going on and just characters for me to love and root for! The romance that plays a minor part was a little too sweet for my liking, but it did develop sorta naturally, so I can get behind it, but it's not my favourite ever. I am however REALLY curious to find out what happens next for Will and Raina and everyone! I'm definitely hooked on this world and the people in it.

My rating: 4,5 stars

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Review of A Whole New World by Liz Braswell

Title/Author: A Whole New World (Twisted Tales #1) by Liz Braswell
Publisher/Date published: Disney Press, September 1st 2015
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley
Buy this book at: The Book Depository

Goodreads summary: Welcome to a new YA series that reimagines classic Disney stories in surprising new ways. Each book asks the question: What if one key moment from a familiar Disney film was changed? This dark and daring version of Aladdin twists the original story with the question: What if Jafar was the first one to summon the Genie?

When Jafar steals the Genie’s lamp, he uses his first two wishes to become sultan and the most powerful sorcerer in the world. Agrabah lives in fear, waiting for his third and final wish.To stop the power-mad ruler, Aladdin and the deposed Princess Jasmine must unite the people of Agrabah in rebellion. But soon their fight for freedom threatens to tear the kingdom apart in a costly civil war.

What happens next? A Street Rat becomes a leader. A princess becomes a revolutionary. And readers will never look at the story of Aladdin in the same way again.

I'm BACK! I know it's been almost two months and I'm very much embarassed by that, but after reading A Whole New World, I found that I had something to say again and I decided to just go for it :)

A Whole New World immediately caught my attention, because I LOVE Aladdin! It's one of my favourite Disney movies and I've watched it so many times, I can literally just mute it and still get all the words right, especially for the first part. Which is also why I noticed that the first 20% of this book is basically the same as the movie. Which was not very much appreciated by me. And that's because I was looking for a fresh take on this beloved tale of mine and not have the first 76 pages be something I know by heart, but in book-form. But then the twist comes when Jafar takes the lamp instead of Aladdin and I was like, ok, let's give this another chance. But in the end I didn't really warm up to this twisted tale.

I mean, in the original tale, I love Aladdin's heart and his bravery and resourcefulness and the romance with Yasmine is believable and sweet, but in A Whole New World I was very much not feeling it. While the instant infatuation works in the Disney movie, here it fell flat and Yasmine definitely shows a side of herself that I didn't find pretty at all in A Whole New World and I really couldn't find myself cheering for their lovestory. I mean, even Jafar, who I love to hate in the original tale was not his best villainy self. I mean, he's this big bad sorcerer now, how does he not just kill Aladdin, capture Yasmine and be done with it? Also, I HATED that he destroyed the magic carpet, who is still one of my favourite characters.

But most of all, I'm disappointed by the lack of shininess that was the genie. I mean, you get this sort of charm coming off him, but it's muted and I get that he has less chance to show his magic and humour and all when he's tied to Jafar, but this spark that he has was just missing and I'm kinda disappointed by how things ended for him.

But aside from this, I was just basically a bit bored by the whole story. It never really got exciting for me and the charm and sizzle that I remember from this story was just missing. I felt that the things that were added to make it into this twisted tale were not really interesting or needed to be there. What I'm looking for with all these retelling and twists on classic stories are things that make me go ooh, that's clever and capture the magic of the original thing, but also make it a little something more. And I never got that from A Whole New World, which is a disappointment as I'd really been looking forward to reading it.
I might just go and watch the movie and laugh over the genie's antics now.

My rating: 1,5 stars

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Review of The Maddening Lord Montwood by Vivienne Lorret

Title/Author: THe Maddening Lord Montwood (The Rakes of Fallow Hall #3) by Vivienne Lorret
Publisher/Date published: Avon Impulse, July 14th 2015
How I got this book: received it from the publisher as an egalley

Goodreads summary: Frances Thorne can handle anything — except losing her position, her home, and her father to debtor's prison all in one day. So when a generous offer of assistance falls into her lap, she's grateful for a second chance, even if it seems too good to be true. The last thing she needs is for the charming, infuriating — maddening — Lord Lucan Montwood to stand in her way.

The end of the bachelors' wager is near, and Lucan Montwood can taste victory — just so long as he can stay away from the one woman who sees through his fa├žade. Yet when he learns that Frances has been caught in an insidious trap, Lucan can't deny that he will do anything to help. Convincing her to trust him is the hard part, resisting her is next to impossible, but falling in love with her? That may be far too simple.

So I read both of the other books in this series and looking back, I think I actually liked the first one, The Elusive Lord Everhart, the best. Though this one was enjoyable as well.

I'm used to rooting for the heroine and connecting with her and understanding how she jumps to the wrong conclusions at times. I mean, in most romance novels there misunderstandings, and that's ok, as long as I can GET the misunderstanding. But in The Maddening Lord Montwood, I had a hard time going along with the choices the heroine, Frances, makes. I mean, she cultivates a dislike for Lucan Montwood and doesn't listen to his advice, even though she's known him for ages and doesn't really have a reason to dislike him. Obviously his father wronged Frances' father, but it's also very clear that Lucan didn't have anything to do with it and that he hasn't been in contact with his father since it happened, so how does she find a reason to blame him, at least partly, for all of it? Also, she keeps disregarding his doubts about a certain character that turns out to be a true villain, even though it's SO obvious and UGH. I really wanted to just shake her and see what was right in front of her.

So Frances and I didn't really click. Though I did like her boldness towards the end and that she teaches selfdefense to women. That was pretty awesome. I did, however, very much like Lucan. I liked him in the previous books as well, so I'm happy he got his happily ever after in The Maddening Lord Montwood. He carries a lot of darkness from his past with him and he's just full of kindness and just a good man deep down. And also, I liked that he knows sleight of hand and sneaks into houses and such. What can I say, I like my men a little mischievous.

The plot mostly flows from Frances' less than stellar life choices, so I wasn't all that excited about it, but watching the romance unfold was nice, but not the heartwrenching, tears in my eyes kind of story that I love. It was an enjoyable read, but for me it wasn't that special one that stays with you after finishing the book.

My rating: 2,5 stars

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Review of The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Title/Author: The Fixer (The Fixer #1) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Publisher/Date published: Bloomsbury USA Children's Books, July 7th 2015
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley
Buy this book at: The Book Depository

Goodreads summary: When sixteen-year-old Tess Kendrick is sent to live with her older sister, Ivy, she has no idea that the infamous Ivy Kendrick is Washington D.C.'s #1 “fixer,” known for making politicians' scandals go away for a price. No sooner does Tess enroll at Hardwicke Academy than she unwittingly follows in her sister's footsteps and becomes D.C.'s premier high school fixer, solving problems for elite teens.

Secrets pile up as each sister lives a double life... until their worlds come crashing together and Tess finds herself in the middle of a conspiracy with one of her classmates and a client of Ivy's. Suddenly, there is much more on the line than good grades, money, or politics, and the price for this fix might be more than Tess is willing to pay

I totally freaking loved this book, so much that it made me itch to write a review. Which hasn't happened in over a month. I blame all this on the awesomeness of The Fixer!

Mystery and thriller type novels aren't usually my thing, but for Jennifer Lynn Barnes I make an exception, because with The Naturals series she has proven that she's beyond capable of drawing me in that kind of story. And she once again had me absorbed, this time in Tess' story.
Tess hasn't had an easy year, she's been caring for her grandfather, who has Alzheimer's and she's been covering for his lapses, trying to keep everything afloat. And I SO felt for her, I mean, she's put her life on hold because she loves her grandfather so much and doesn't want to be separated from him. Imagine being a teenager and taking on that responsibility. I also felt that Jennifer Lynn Barnes portrayed the effects of Alzheimer's on a person really well. Having a loved one suffering from this disease is one of my worst nightmares, so seeing it in a novel always hits me in the feels.

But then Ivy, Tess' older sister by 17 years, comes back after being gone for 3 years, takes charge of the situation and whisks Tess off to live with her. And their relationship is complicated. There are trust issues and old wounds that reopen and it doesn't help that Ivy's job as a professional fixer means that she keeps a lot of secrets about a lot of powerful people. But I loved seeing them interact and how they grow and I'm really hoping things will get better between them in the sequel.

So there's a whole lot of politics going around and Tess sorta accidentally gets thrown in the middle of it through the sons and daughters of said powerful people, who she goes to school with. And obviously Tess and her friends don't go to an adult with their concerns at first, but decide to do a little digging themselves, and while I'm not sure if that could have happened in the real world, it is a thing of beauty to read about.
I LOVED Tess' friends, I mean, Vivvie offers to cheer Tess up by recapping her favourite romance novel and/or horror movie. That is my kind of girl. And ASHER. So much love for Asher and his antics and boyness. I love that he says things like "You say go away, I hear be my bosom buddy." He reminds me a bit of Sturmhond from The Grisha Trilogy and for me that's pretty high praise. I can also get behind Henry, who broods beautifully. But mostly, they are all smart and loyal and I constantly got the urge to just hug Vivvie and most of all Asher. I like it when that happens!

There are a whole lot of twists and turns, some I saw coming, some I did not even come close to. Mostly, it kept me on the edge of my seat, wanting to read on and on and grumbling at work and social events that got in the way of this. It was intriguing and because I was so invested in the characters, I felt like I HAD to know right then and there. And though The Fixer ends with somewhat of a cliffhanger, it's mostly a promise of more awesomeness to come in the sequel and I liked it.

There's this amazing thing about Jennifer Lynn Barnes' writing that just clicks with me! I love her style and the voice she gave to Tess and how she mixes this fastpaced, exciting plot with heaps of humor, which always gets you brownie points from me. I thoroughly enjoyed myself while reading The Fixer, laughing out loud at certain passages and just not wanting to put it down. So yeah, I pretty much adored The Fixer and cannot wait for the sequel!

My rating: 5 stars

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Hyped Books I Haven't Read

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by my other blog The Broke and the Bookish

Note: I do actually own all of these books, so there's the intention to read them at some point in life.

1. The Wrat and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh: this has been getting a LOT of hype lately and OMG I desperately want to read it, but SO MANY BOOKS SO LITTLE TIME.

2. Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli: this has been pushed towards me by many, many people. And while at first glance I wasn't much interested, the things I've heard about it are SUPER cute, which is right up my alley.

3. The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski: basically this one got hype all over the place when it came out and it made me both want to read it and a little scared of it, but some day.

4. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell: this could have basically been ANY book by Rainbow Rowell, but I feel like this has been shoved into my face SO many times! And even though the description still doesn't hold all that much appeal to me, I still bought it, so you know, THE HYPE MONSTER WORKS.

5. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes: anything Jojo Moyes writes gets a lot of hype, but I started noticing with this one. I don't usually read books that deal with illness or the aftermath of accidents, but maybe this one is worth all the hype?

6. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor: *hides* I KNOW OK? I've been meaning to read this FOREVER but all the love slightly scares me...

7. My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick: basically I'm scared that I won't love this one as much as everyone and their great aunt did. But it does sound SO CUTE and fluffy contemporaries are my jam, so.

8. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn: this one of overhyped and even people who don't read know about this one, even before the movie came out. This is definitely out of my comfort zone, but as most books that get a movie, I do feel like I should read it. The debate is ongoing.

9. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith: some loved it, some didn't love it so much, but there has been a lot of talk about this one. I mean, 48 of my friends on Goodreads have read this (yes, I actually counted them). It has a cute British boy in it, what could possibly go wrong?

10. The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan: I think only J.K. Rowling writing a sequel to Harry Potter would have gotten more hype at the time. And since I LOVED the Percy Jackson series, I REALLY need to get it together and read this.

Monday, July 6, 2015


So I haven't blogged in over a month... EPIC FAIL I KNOW

June has been a mix of spending two weeks on vacation in Thailand (which was AMAZING), then night shift week of DOOM, then a heat wave entered Holland and I've had zero desire to do anything but sit outside underneath a parasol and read, sometimes sliding over into the little pool that we set up. SO. That's where I've been ;) I'll give a more extensive update soonish. Possibly with pictures :)

Anyway, today I felt the urge to blog again, so I'll probably be slowly getting back into this, I have a TON of books that I need to review cause of all the reading I've been doing and it's a bit overwhelming, but you gotta start somewhere right?

Hope you're all enjoying Summer!!