YA Review: Dumplin’

Title: Dumplin’
Author: Julie Murphy
Edition:
Kindle
Rating:
5/5

I’ve been meaning to read this book for a while, and I’m so glad I picked it up. As a plus-size non-beauty-queen I could relate to every part of this story – the body positivity, the doubts, and the level of attitude needed to put yourself out there and take part in a competition that was always intended to exclude you.

Willowdean is the plus-size daughter of a former beauty queen. Her mother organises the local beauty pageant every year, but she can’t bring herself to accept her daughter’s looks and choices, constantly dropping hints about losing weight. When Willowdean and her friends realise there is nothing in the pageant rules to stop them from taking part, they club together and support each other in their bid for the title of Miss Teen Blue Bonnet.

I loved Willowdean – I loved her body positivity, and her drive to include everyone in the pageant. I even enjoyed the romance (YA contemporary romance is not my comfort zone!), and I completely understood Willow’s doubts when someone she finds attractive shows an interest in her. The two potential love interests were both interesting characters, and as Willow experienced dating both of them her reactions felt real and her confusion entirely justified.

Willow is also grieving the loss of her aunt – the only person in her family who accepted her as she is. As she discovers more about her aunt’s life, the different threads of the story begin to overlap. Best friends, romance, Dolly Parton, beauty queens, and support from unexpected places combine to form a strong, relatable plot with a few surprising twists and turns on the way to the night of the pageant.

By the end, I was cheering for Willow and her friends, but it was less about winning the pageant, and more about being loud, proud, and showing people who you really are. I think this is a must-read, whether or not you have beauty queen aspirations. It’s a neat, engaging story with a believable cast of characters, and an uncompromisingly positive outlook. I loved it.

Have you read Dumplin‘? What did you think of Willowdean’s story? Of all the wonderful characters, who was your favourite? Click through to the full blog to access the comments section, and share your thoughts! No spoilers, though – you can post those on GoodReads!

Review cross-posted to GoodReads.


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YA Review: As Good As Dead

Title: As Good As Dead (A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder #3)
Author: Holly Jackson
Edition:
Paperback
Rating:
5/5

The final book in the Good Girl’s Guide to Murder trilogy was a must-read for me. I enjoyed the first two books, and I was looking forward to meeting schoolgirl detective Pip Fitz-Amobi, her boyfriend Ravi, her wonderfully supportive family, and the residents of Little Kilton again for another investigation.

Pip isn’t intending to investigate another local mystery. She’s heading to university in Cambridge at the end of the summer, and she is still haunted by memories of her two previous cases. But when she unearths a connection between events in Little Kilton and a convicted serial killer, she can’t resist digging deeper.

Throughout the book her relationship with Ravi continues to develop, and they make an adorable couple. It is wonderful to see the friends she’s made, and the people she’s helped during her investigations come together to support her – but she’s made enemies as well as friends, and her list of local suspects keeps growing.

The case quickly becomes personal, and the stakes are higher than ever as Pip works to connect the fragments of evidence and find out what really happened – and who is threatening her as she goes public with another true-crime podcast.

I’ve enjoyed all three books in the series, but this is definitely the best. We are drawn into Pip’s investigation, and to the danger she faces. There are some truly heart-pounding scenes, and plenty of tension, deception, and eureka moments. Pip’s reactions to her previous cases and the lasting trauma she carries with her feel real – she’s not a hard-boiled detective, and we never lose sight of the fact that she’s still a teenager, at the very beginning of her adult life. As she unearths evidence, she is also discovering which adults, and which authority figures, can be trusted – and who has something to hide.

You’ll need to read the first two books in order to understand the context for this story, but the series is perfect for binge reading. Highly recommended!

Have you read As Good As Dead? What did you think of the final book in the series? Do you want more from Pip, or are you happy that the story ends here? Click through to the full blog to access the comments section, and share your thoughts! No spoilers, though – you can post those on GoodReads!

Review cross-posted to GoodReads.


Please keep your comments YA appropriate. Be patient! We want to hear from you, but comments are moderated, and may take some time to appear.