Review: Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

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Book Title: Dumplin’
Author: Julie Murphy
Published Date: September 15th, 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Genre: YA Contemporary
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Book Link: Goodreads
Purchase Links: AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads
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.

Disclaimer: I received this book as an e-ARC from Balzer & Bray via Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review.

Review
I loved Julie Murphy’s debut, Side Effects May Vary, so I was excited for this book. I was so excited for body positive messages, and confidence building.

What I wasn’t expecting was how funny Willowdean was. There were parts throughout the book that had me laughing until my sides ached. She had such a healthy outlook on her own life. Her weight wasn’t an issue for her, unlike for her mom. Her mom truly believed that because of Willowdean’s weight, she’d never find a boyfriend, never be truly happy.

“News flash Mom: A man will not cure my troubles.”

Yet, Willowdean does want someone to kiss, to cuddle and to be romantic with, whatever that entails.

“I want a person to kiss hello”

Willowdean also begins to feel awkward around her best friend Ellen. Ellen is preparing to have sex with her boyfriend for the first time. Willowdean sees it as this really big thing that’s about to happen for her best friend, and she feels left out in a weird sense. Like Ellen is so far ahead of her.

“Having sex doesn’t make you a woman. That is so freaking cliche. If you want to have sex, have sex, but don’t make it this huge thing.”

Willowdean also had an aunt Lucy who died before the book began. Lucy had been significantly obese all her life and had never been unable to lose the weight.

Aside from their weight issues, there was something else that tied Lucy and Willowdean together: Dolly Parton. I love country music but I had never listened to a lot of Dolly Parton’s music until I read this book. Now I’m on a serious Dolly Parton kick.  Ellen and her family were also fans of Dolly Parton. That was part of what brought Willowdean and Ellen, together.

Willowdean’s mom was so insistent on getting rid of Lucy’s things at certain parts in the book and it really mad me mad and it made me upset to see Willowdean so upset about it. I really wasn’t a huge fan of Willowdean’s mom whose name I am totally blanking on right now.

I wasn’t a huge fan of the romance. I tried to see what Willowdean saw in Bo, and he just didn’t appeal to me. I did love his step mom Loraine, though. She was warm, inviting and accepting of Willowdean. I’m not a fan of love triangles at all and this one was weird because Willowdean was bouncing back and forth between Bo and Mitch. I hated the way she treated Mitch. It was like he was her backup guy, someone she turned to when she didn’t think things with Bo would work out.

I also was not a huge fan of how Willowdean treated Ellen when she also signed up for the beauty pageant. I understood why Willowdean wanted to have just this one thing to herself, but I also understood that Ellen wanted to participate. They both had a hand in that ugly fight that began long before the pageant even started.

I did like the friends that Willowdean made. Hannah, Millie & Amanda. They were the social outcasts of tiny Clover City, but each of them was brave enough to try something new. To try and break the barrier of what is considered beauty. I do think Amanda was my favorite though. She was the most reluctant to do the pageant, but she did it anyway.

I did enjoy this book, and I’m really glad the pageant wasn’t a huge part of it. I know I’m probably the minority in that. I am thrilled that accepting yourself, loving yourself and friendships were such big parts of this book. I am going to give this one 4 stars. I do think people should read this book.

My Bucket List- Inspired by Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

A couple of weeks ago, Julie Murphy sent out a tweet asking if any bloggers would be interested in helping her with her launch of Side Effects May Vary. She wanted to turn the tables on us and so she asked us to compile out own bucket lists. This was an excellent opportunity for me to stop procrastinating and actually do one like I had planned years ago.

My Bucket List
-Fall in love. I have never been one to be in and out of relationships constantly. In fact I have only ever had 1 serious relationship and I have never seriously dated anyone else. Falling in love is terrifying and it’s absolutely something I want to experience in my lifetime. A life without love, is no life at all.People talk about men being the committment-phobes, but in my case it’s me. I’m the one terrified to commit. 
-Get Married at the Tsakopoulos Library Galleria that is in my hometown. I went to a wedding reception there about 9 years ago and it was absolutely beautiful. Ever since then, I have known that’s where I want to be married.



-Go skydiving. I am totally a adrenaline junkie so of course this one is going to be on my bucket list. I hope to be able to do this someday. I think it would be an amazing experience.
-Go to Hawaii. Hawaii has always been on my list of places to visit and it’s looking like I’ll get to cross this one off my list in about a year. We are planning a trip after my brother graduates from 8th grade.So excited about that.

-Buy a home, particularly in the area I live now. It has to be brick & have hardwood floors as well as a pool. Everything else, I am pretty lax about.

-Become a published author. I am working on 3 separate writing projects (1 NA Contemporary, 1 YA Contemporary & 1 YA Thriller) I am hoping to have at least one of them published by the end of 2014.
And lastly, I want to get a tattoo. Nothing big or gaudy as that is not me at all. I have had a design set in my mind for over a year and I still love it. My uncle told me that it reminds him of zany director Tim Burton, who I absolutely love, so I thought that was really cool.
So those 7 items are my bucket list. No it’s not extensive but it’s comprised of all the things I want to experience most in the world.
So let’s learn a bit more about the author of Side Effects May Vary.
Julie lives in North Texas with her husband who loves her, her dog who adores her, and her cat who tolerates her. When she’s not writing or trying to catch stray cats, she works at an academic library. Side Effects May Vary is Julie’s debut novel. Julie can best be found on her website (www.juliemurphywrites.com), tumblr (www.andimjulie.tumblr.com), or twitter (www.twitter.com/andimjulie).

BUY LINKS:
IndieBound: www.indiebound.org/book/9780062245359
B&N: www.barnesandnoble.com/w/side-effects-may-vary-julie-murphy/1115554719?ean=9780062245359
Amazon: www.amazon.com/Side-Effects-Vary-Julie-Murphy/dp/006224535X

Review: Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

Book Title: Side Effects May Vary
Author: Julie Murphy
Release Date: March 14th, 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Genre: YA/Contemporary
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Book Link: Goodreads
Pre-Order Links: AmazonBarnes & NobleBook Depository
Synopsis from Goodreads:
What if you’d been living your life as if you were dying—only to find out that you had your whole future ahead of you? 

When sixteen-year-old Alice is diagnosed with leukemia, her prognosis is grim. To maximize the time she does have, she vows to spend her final months righting wrongs—however she sees fit. She convinces her friend Harvey, whom she knows has always had feelings for her, to help her with a crazy bucket list that’s as much about revenge (humiliating her ex-boyfriend and getting back at her arch nemesis) as it is about hope (doing something unexpectedly kind for a stranger and reliving some childhood memories). But just when Alice’s scores are settled, she goes into remission.

Now Alice is forced to face the consequences of all that she’s said and done, as well as her true feelings for Harvey. But has she done irreparable damage to the people around her, and to the one person who matters most? 

Julie Murphy’s SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY is a fearless and moving tour de force about love, life, and facing your own mortality.

Harvey laughed to himself in a sad way and rubbed his eyes. “You want me to help you with a list of things you won’t disclose to me.” He leaned forward and bit the skin around his thumb. “Classic.”
“You won’t regret it.”
“But—”
“Harvey,” I said, my voice low. “Trust me.”
I knew what this looked like. It looked like I was using Harvey. But here was the reality of the situation: the minute my life went from semi-permanent to most likely temporary, I decided to latch on to everything in my world that had always been permanent, and for me, Harvey was so permanent he was concrete.

Disclaimer: I received this e-ARC from Balzer + Bray via Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review.

Review:
I had heard a lot of amazing things about this one months ago. It was starting to show up on fellow readers’ Goodreads lists, and recently, ARC’s were becoming more available. So when Edelweiss put this one up, I snatched it in a hurry. I am a real sucker for the “tough subjects” books. You know, the cancer books, the terminal illness books as well as other tough subject books.

I was a little nervous when I started this one. Mostly because many of the people who have already read it, loved it. While I didn’t love it, I definitely liked it a lot. When you are told that your cancer is in remission, you feel a variety of different emotions. It’s especially strange after you’ve been told that there’s nothing more they can do and that you will die and probably soon.

That’s how Alice feels. She knows that she should be over the moon excited that her life is not nearing an end,at least not yet, and that she has time to be with her loved ones. Yet, that’s not how she feels. Now that she’s not dying there are things that she feels that need to be done. Admittedly, she uses the boy who has loved her, to her advantage.

Harvey knows that Alice knows that he’d do anything for her. He’d help humiliate the boy she dated before she got sick. He’d help humiliate the girl who her boyfriend was cheating on her with.He doesn’t grow a backbone until the book is nearly over. That really bothered me. While I know that Alice feels like she needs to do this, it’s hard to be understanding when she is so obviously using the boy who loves her.

I liked Alice pretty much the whole time even though I know there were parts where she was pretty mean. Until you’ve been in her position, you really cannot say how you’d react to the news that your seemingly incurable cancer is in remission.

I loved all the parental involvement in this book. I mean having Alice’s parents involved was practically a given since she had such a serious illness. Having Harvey’s mom, Natalie so present in the book was awesome. I really loved how all five of them were so close. It was like a big happy family at times. You don’t usually have that in YA books.

I didn’t love the dual POV combined with switching from the then and now time periods. At times it just got really confusing. I think it would have been better had Julie picked one. Either a dual POV or then & now time periods. At the beginning, I kept having to flip back a few pages on my Kindle because I would get confused about the timelines.

I cried a little bit in the beginning and a little bit in the end, so the feels were there, but not as much as I was expecting them to be. I am a bit disappointed that I didn’t love this one like I wanted to, however, I did like it a lot and that is why I am going to give it 4 stars. Yes I would absolutely recommend this book.

Stacking the Shelves #26

This feature is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews.

Hello everyone! Hope you all had a wonderful week and I hope at least some of that time was spent reading. I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before but both Edelweiss & Netgalley are seriously dangerous. Harper put up a ton of new e-ARC’s this past week and while I did get quite a few, I managed to limit myself at least somewhat.
I didn’t buy anything this week as I am still waiting on a box from Amazon. I bought books with my birthday money and with all the crappy weather occurring on the East Coast, the package was delayed slightly. So I’ll definitely have three new books to show you next Sunday.
On to the fun part. The books.
Bought
Received for Review

~Edelweiss~
17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen
Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy
The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes
The Secrets of Lily Graves by Sarah Strohmeyer
The Vanishing Season by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Gifted 
Won


As always, be sure to let me know if you’ve read any of these or if you are wanting to read any of these. Don’t forget to leave links to your Stacking the Shelves posts or vlogs.
Weekly Blog Wrap-Up
Monday- Review of Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill
Tuesday-Cover Reveal for As You Turn Away by Molli Moran
Wednesday- Review of Secret Lies by Amy Dunne
Thursday- Review of Knowing Jack by Rachel Curtis
Friday- Information on Challenge Participation 2014
Saturday- Review of Say Forever (Something More #3) by Tara West