Sunday, November 29, 2015

DUMPLIN' by Julie Murphy

I really, really enjoyed this one.  Dumplin' by Julie Murphy is definitely my kind of book.  It hooked me with a catchy summary, kept me interested with a fun plot and quirky characters, and sealed the deal with a happy ending--that okay yeah, might've been a little too happy, but I couldn't have cared less.  I wanted the happy and Murphy delivered.

Here's the summary that drew me in:

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.

I mean, come on!  If I didn't already love pageants (which I totally do), if I didn't want to read about a "self-proclaimed fat girl" (again, I do), I'd still buy because of the mention of Private School Bo.

And trust me, it was worth it.

Private School Bo was everything I hoped he'd be.  *Sigh*  He was hot-sexy-cool because he knew what he wanted, and that was Will.  He was also sort of Jordan Catalano from My So Called Life, what with all the secret stolen kisses--BUT unlike Jordan, Bo wanted to publicly claim Will as his girlfriend. It was her hang-ups that kept them apart for most of the story.

Murphy handled her main character's insecurities deftly, and as a reader, I felt for Will.  Her contrasting feelings of wanting Bo but feeling awful about her body (and therefore, herself) whenever he would touch her were heart-wrenching and believable.  This actually reminded me of a bit of Rae and Finn from MMFD tv series--which I LOVE <3.  So yes, this was a delicate issue to tackle, and I think Murphy did a great job.
Other things I enjoyed were the pageant and Will's little band of misfits, as well as the drag queens who taught the girls to strut their stuff.  I didn't appreciate how Will treated Mitch (love interest #2) in the book.  He was a kind, decent guy, and he really liked her.  But Mitch never did stand up to Patrick, his loudmouth jerk of a best friend, so yeah, he wasn't perfect either.  Also didn't love some of the thoughts that Will had about other people (namely Millie, genuinely the nicest, best person in the book).

However, overall, the book was in the tradition of some of my favorite things.  I wouldn't put it in the same category as MMFD, but I really liked this read.  Dumplin' is a contemporary YA with heart, laughter, tears, and kissy moments in equal measure.  What's not to like? :)

Happy reading,

Ninja Girl

Thursday, November 26, 2015


Best friends.

Summer romance.

Music that means something.

Open Road Summer by Emery Lord is a YA contemporary that features all of these things--plus a very cute nice-guy/boy-next-door love interest named Matt Finch who is sure to make you swoon.

The story features two 17-year-old girls who couldn't be more opposite (on the outside).  Lilah Montgomery, "Dee" to her friends, is a country music starlet on the rise.  She's the good girl who never puts a toe out of line, perfection personified from her long golden locks and persistent smile to her sweet southern lyrics.

Reagan O'Neill, on the other hand, is anything but perfect.  She's a recovering bad girl who loves wearing high heels and tight clothes.  Her quick temper and wild streak has been known to get her into trouble.  That's why she's sworn off guys for the summer.  This tour is going to be just her and Dee, best friends, having the time of their lives.  No boys allowed.

Until Matt Finch joins the tour.

And shows Reagan that maybe, just maybe, nice boys are the way to go.

Okay, so what I liked best about the book was the friendship between Dee and Reagan.  It was very sweet and believable.  I loved how loyal they were to each other.  Though the story starts with their friendship fully formed, I totally bought the fact that they are best friends who look out for each other, know one another inside and out.

What I liked even more?  They never turned on each other.

In a lot of YA these days, I see so many "frenemies."   Girls who are just waiting for that moment when they can steal their BFF's boyfriend, stab her in the back, and steal her place in the social hierarchy.  This totally could've been one of these books.  But thankfully, it wasn't.

Dee and Reagan were true best friends, who laughed and cried together, argued but always had each others' back.  The love there was real, and I greatly enjoyed reading about girl BFFs who maintained and strengthened their bond throughout the story.

I'm not going to lie: I couldn't help but picture Dee as Taylor Swift.  She was very Swift-like, if you will, but I think that was intentional.  Matt Finch, the love interest, was sweet--but not too sweet.  Matt was flirty and sincere and kinda sexy and everything a book boyfriend should be.  Speaking of which, I also adored Jimmy, the cowboy Dee left behind <3.  If their story was front and center, I actually might've loved it even more.

The writing itself wasn't necessarily as snappy as I usually go for, but it had heart.  I especially liked the song lyrics that were incorporated.  Unlike many other stories, these lyrics read like real lyrics.  Definitely liked that little detail.

Overall, Open Road Summer was an enjoyable read with two girls at its heart who were true best friends.  A very nice read!

Happy Thanksgiving, and happy reading everyone,

Ninja Girl

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Insecure Writer's Support Group: SURPRISE

Hi everyone.  Something unexpected happened a few days ago, and since it has to do with my writing, I figured I'd share in my IWSG post.  So, here's what went down: One of my ninja aunts went to a writer's conference, and…she pitched one of my books.  AND she got 2 requests.

This came as a complete shock to me.  Basically, she signed up to do one of those agent-dating services, read my query letter for one book and told them about my other manuscripts and yeah.  That's how it happened.  And it gets even more interesting.  One of the agents she pitched had already requested and rejected the same manuscript back in 2011 after I got my offer of rep.

Anyway, I figure if anything comes of this it would be a great story.  If not, my ninja aunt still has mad pitching skills.  It's been a tough time recently, so this was a nice surprise.

Hope you're having a great week,

Ninja Girl

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Insecure Writer's Support Group: FAITH

First Wednesday of the month, time for another IWSG post, so here we go.  It's been a rough week (and that is the biggest lie I've told in 2015 because "rough" doesn't come close).  If you're curious about my writing, I haven't done much recently.  I've been reading and found several books I love.  But all of that seems so unimportant right now.  I have a very strong faith, and I'm holding onto that with both hands.  Wherever you are in life, in your writing, I hope that you have faith as well.  I hope that your belief will guide you through the dark days.

Have a great month; I'll be praying for your words to flow like a river and for brighter and better days ahead.

Ninja Girl

Friday, March 6, 2015

Insecure Writer's Support Group: IDENTITY

This post is late, and I blame the insecurities that overwhelmed me this week.  They weren't necessarily writing related, were more about identity in general, but I guess IWSG is the right place to talk about it.

I think whenever you're involved in a creative profession it's difficult to own your identity.  I've read other posts along these lines, so I know that I'm not alone.  It's always--ALWAYS--been hard for me to say, "I'm a writer."

Aspiring writer?  Sure.

Wannabe-published author?  Absolutely.

But writer?  I don't know what it is, but saying it straight up like that makes me uncomfortable.  The same thing happens when I talk about dance.  I've been dancing for most of my life, but I've never been comfortable saying, "I'm a dancer."

Dance teacher? Yes.

Dance enthusiast?  Of course.

Again, the sentence, "yes, I'm a dancer," is so hard for me.  It's like, if you give it a definitive title, there's more pressure, more judgment…more expectations.  Sometimes I wish I could just believe in myself and the things I create.  Be normal.  I don't have anything published yet--except one poem--though I've completed a few manuscripts.  I've never performed on Broadway, though I hope one of my students will one day.

Anyway, it's just been one of those weeks :).  I hope everyone is doing well.  I hope you know who you are--and that you aren't afraid to say it.

Ninja Girl

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Insecure Writer's Support Group: 900 WORDS

Hi everyone!  My IWSG post this month is actually less insecure than previous posts, and that's because...

I AM WRITING AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yayyyyyy, hip hip hooray, and thank the Good Lord for that :-).  I had a severe case of writer's block/doubt that I just couldn't get over--seriously, I could not shake it.  Still struggling to figure out the next step for my completed novels, and honestly, I wanted to be sure I had more stories, more characters I wanted to bring to life.  It was that whole "writers write" mentality, and I wanted to make sure I still had that drive.  Now, I've started a brand new work-in-progress, about 900 words in, and it just feels really great to be writing again.  I'm sure I'll hit a wall at some point, doubt myself every now and then, but right now?  It's a pretty good day to be a writer.

Hope you're having a great week so far!  If you're struggling, don't worry.  The words will come--and I hope when they do, they flow like a river :).

Ninja Girl

Sunday, January 11, 2015


Hi all!  Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews.  Just thought I'd show off the books I got this week :).  Some YA, NA and adult thrown in the mix.

List of Books: All Broke Down by Cora Carmack
                       The Bride Wore Size 12 by Meg Cabot
                       Size 12 and Made to Rock by Meg Cabot
                       The Dirty Girls Book Club by Savanna Fox
                       Sway by Kat Spears
                       Loop by Karen Akins
                       Dead of Winter by Kresley Cole

First up to read:

I really enjoyed the first Rusk University book, and I have high hopes for Book 2 :).  Also, Dead of Winter is FINALLY here, so I'm pretty excited.  Really love this series!  Sway has one of the best summaries I've read for a YA in a while, and I remember when Karen Akins was first making the writing contest rounds with Loop.  Hooked me then, and I'm still hooked, looking forward to reading.  I hope you all got a great haul as well!

Ninja Girl