Tag: 3 stars

A Step Toward Falling

Author: Cammie McGovern
Published: November 10, 2015
304 Pages

Reviewed By:Kim
Kim’s Rating: 3 stars

Book Description:

Neither of us is exactly living the dream. But we’re living something and that’s more than either of us expected this year.’

In A Step Towards Falling, Cammie McGovern tells a poignant, compelling story of not judging people on appearances and knowing how to fix the things you’ve broken.

Emily has always been the kind of girl who tries to do the right thing – until one night when she does the worst thing possible. She sees Belinda, a classmate with developmental disabilities, being attacked. Inexplicably, she does nothing at all.

Belinda, however, manages to save herself. When their high school finds out what happened, Emily and Lucas, a football player who was also there that night, are required to perform community service at a centre for disabled people. Soon, Lucas and Emily begin to feel like maybe they’re starting to make a real difference. Like they would be able to do the right thing if they could do that night all over again. But can they do anything that will actually help the one person they hurt the most?

Kim’s Review:

I really loved McGovern’s book, Say What You Will. So, when I saw another book by the same author on sale, I snatched it up! I wish I could say that I love A Step Toward Falling just as much, but I can’t. Unfortunately, in trying to make the story and circumstances believable, McGovern actually made the story more frustrating than anything else. When Emily and Lucas didn’t say or do anything for Belinda when she was attacked, the principal and “discipline committee” make it sound like they are just as bad as the attacker. I absolutely do not agree with that. We all know that teens are idiots; they’re immature children trying to act like adults. Society has this wonderful habit of changing its tune to fit whatever its narrative is at the time. I don’t mind the community service punishment, it’s just all the dramatics of calling a disciplinary hearing and requiring the kids to defend themselves that felt “kangaroo court-ish” to me.

McGovern was trying to salvage some likability for Emily and Lucas, but didn’t adjust the plot accordingly. For the record, of course it was wrong for the kids to just walk by without intervening; both Emily and Lucas acknowledge that very quickly. But one thing that McGovern is excellent at is portraying disabled people with empathy instead of pity. I liked all of the disabled characters in this book. I liked the way we can see into Belinda’s mind with clarity and realism. It’s a great way to look at her as a person as opposed to a label. Emily and Lucas were so sweet and redeemed themselves perfectly. Overall, I enjoyed this book. All that annoyance I felt at the beginning of the book, dissipated relatively quickly. This is actually a pretty good book for teens to read, with a little discussion. As I said with Say What You Will, learning the perspective of others is never a bad thing. A pretty good read!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US This post was created Saturday and when I (Jessica) was looking up the links on Amazon- I saw the paperback was just $4.19, so I grabbed a copy! You can’t loose at that price!!!! Hopefully at posting the book is still cheap! 
Amazon UK

Dumplin’: Book Review and Movie Comparison

Author: Julie Murphy
Published: September 15, 2015
384 pages

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: November 26- December 4, 2018
Jessica’s Rating: 3 stars

Book Description:

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.

Jessica’s Review:

I had heard about Dumplin’ and when I found out it was going to become a Netflix movie, I very quickly listened to the audiobook. In fact, I finished the book a few days before the premiere on Netflix.

Dumplin’ was just an average read.  I’ve read books that were worse and others that were well done.  Dumplin’ is a book supposedly about body positivity that did not really deliver. Willowdean is fat and knows it.  She also doesn’t care that she is fat until a hot boy starts working with her. Then she begins to have body issues and becomes insecure.  She is also dealing with the death of her aunt who was also a very large lady. 

There is also drama occurring with her BFF (they are seemingly growing apart) and it is also pageant season for teens in the very small town that Willowdean lives in. Also, her mom is in charge of and runs the pageant, and even won it one year. 

This is really the extent of the story: lots of teen drama with a side of a beauty pageant.  There is also a love triangle that develops.  Of course Willowdean prefers  the hot guy over the other guy who would be more suited for her (I liked him better than Bo the hottie).

 Hearing about Willowdean’s relationship with her aunt is what kept me listening to the book.  I enjoyed finding out more about her aunt’s life, which Willowdean did not know about. I was also curious as to what was going to happen during the pageant.

If you like books with teen drama, this will be the book for you. It was a miss for me.

Movie Comparison:

Movie Trailer for Dumplin’:

I wanted to watch Dumplin’ once I saw a trailer and saw who was in it: Jennifer Aniston playing Willowdean’s mom, and Bex Taylor-Klaus as Hannah.  My conclusion is this: Watch the movie first then read the book. There are a lot of differences from the movie compared to the book.  In the book there is a love triangle, and to me the movie seemed to combine both boys into one character.  The teen drama is negligible (which can be a good thing).  You don’t really see the extent of Willowdean and Ellen’s friendship and falling out as was in the book. 

Both the novel and movie are just average for me.  The film does better with body positivity than the novel did for me. The author Julie Murphy makes a very brief (blink and you miss it) cameo in the film, which is always exciting.  I love it when authors get to see their vison become a film (and hopefully it was close to their vision- I know they have basically no control over the film).

The movie was also filmed in Georgia which is always exciting. We are “Little Hollywood”, yet not so little anymore!  I thought one scene looked familiar and when I saw the end credits I had to look it up” Yes- It WAS the Cobb Civic Center that was used in the film

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK


The Tattooist of Auschwitz

Author: Heather Morris
Published: January 27, 2018
288 pages

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 3 stars

Book Description:

In April 1942, Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, is forcibly transported to the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. When his captors discover that he speaks several languages, he is put to work as a Tätowierer (the German word for tattooist), tasked with permanently marking his fellow prisoners.

Imprisoned for over two and a half years, Lale witnesses horrific atrocities and barbarism—but also incredible acts of bravery and compassion. Risking his own life, he uses his privileged position to exchange jewels and money from murdered Jews for food to keep his fellow prisoners alive.

One day in July 1942, Lale, prisoner 32407, comforts a trembling young woman waiting in line to have the number 34902 tattooed onto her arm. Her name is Gita, and in that first encounter, Lale vows to somehow survive the camp and marry her.

A vivid, harrowing, and ultimately hopeful re-creation of Lale Sokolov’s experiences as the man who tattooed the arms of thousands of prisoners with what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust, The Tattooist of Auschwitz is also a testament to the endurance of love and humanity under the darkest possible conditions.

Kim’s Review:

I have had my eye on this book for quite a while, so when I found it at Sam’s Club for cheap, I grabbed it! Unfortunately, it didn’t live up to the hype. I love Holocaust literature and I am a huge supporter of Holocaust education. I’m not going to say that this is a bad book, because it isn’t. However, it is not my favorite Holocaust book. And to be clear, it is a work of fiction. Jessica sent me an article from the Auschwitz Memorial Museum and they pointed out that there’s too much vagueness and even straight up inaccuracies in Tattooist for them to recommend it as “valuable reading for people who want to learn and understand the history of Auschwitz.” I knew it was fiction when I picked it up so that doesn’t really surprise me nor does it change my feelings.

There are two reasons I’m giving it 3 stars:

The first does go along with what the Memorial said, that it wasn’t completely accurate, even in its general portrayal of Auschwitz. I’m a historian and I’ve studied the Holocaust so I have a standard already set in my head when it comes to the concentration camps and Tattooist doesn’t really meet it. Auschwitz sounded too livable in this book. It lacked a sense of horror that other accounts convey. I had to fill in what I already knew about Auschwitz to get that dread and terror that normally comes when reading about the Holocaust. That did bother me some.

The second reason is Lale himself. Far be it from me to criticize a Holocaust survivor and I completely acknowledge that our modern society influenced me in this case: Lale was a little pervy. He admitted to learning how to flirt with his mother, that his romantic expectations were set by his mother . . . and I just kept waiting for it to come out that he was actually a serial killer! I know that’s such a horrible thought, but it’s truly what I was expecting every time he brought up his mother and their relationship! I get that boys can learn how to treat women from their mothers, and I know that’s what was going on, but it still got a kinda cringey the more he talked about it. Too many times, I thought, “ok TMI! Didn’t want to know that! Keep that crap to yourself!”

I really wanted to love this book and it was ok, but I wouldn’t recommend this to too many people. Obviously if you like historical fiction, you’ll probably enjoy this book, but I would not recommend this to teens or as educational material.

Purchase Links
Amazon US
Amazon UK