Series: The Ladybirds #1
Published by Bloomsbury Australia on July 3, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
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Bea Hogg is shy but fiery inside. When national dance competition Starwars comes to her school looking for talent, she wants to sign up. It's just a shame her best friend agreed to enter with school super-cow Pearl Harris. Bea will fight back! But when school hottie, Ollie Matthews, who also happens to be Pearl’s boyfriend, decides to enter the competition with Bea, she will have more than a fight on her hands.
This warm, nuanced, hilarious story about friendship, fortitude . . . and dancing is impossible not to fall in love with. Jenny’s voice is fresh and convincing, and she handles both darker and lighter elements of the story with equal panache.
I can’t help but feel I’m in the wrong age group for Flirty Dancing. It’s incredibly light and fluffy, and with the main character Bea being only 14, I’d take a guess that it’s aimed towards the younger YA spectrum (of which I am nowhere near).
It took me a few goes of picking up this book, because of the fluffy popcorn-style writing. Within the first few lines, Bea’s younger toddler sister Emma would do typical kid things like play with dolls, yell “PRESENT NOW” and say stuff like “Love you, frog-nose!”. I needed to be in the right mood to pick it up.
Although Flirty Dancing was completely and utter fluff, I couldn’t help but warm to Bea, the shy (around others) and curvy girl who learns to shine through the dance competition. Unlike other YA books that like to tell us young teenagers act like fully grown adults with decades of life experience behind their belt, sometimes that is just not the case. It was refreshing to see Bea actually acting her age and that includes swooning over her crush, mucking around with her best friend Kat and reminiscing over cruel nicknames and everything.
The romance was incredibly cute, like the rest of the book, and it was lovely seeing Ollie and Bea grow together over a dancing competition. At first, Bea is a character who is bullied by the most popular girl in school, but she slowly learns to be more confident and empowered as she finds something she loves in dancing.
The book is incredibly short with barely enough character development. Scenes it would be building up to will be covered in a few sentences, and before you know it, everything will be over.
While Flirty Dancing is incredibly short, light and fluffy, it manages to fit in a romance, some great family scenes and a great message of empowerment for Bea. This definitely isn’t a book aimed at everyone though, but for younger teenagers and even those in primary school, it definitely serves as a great message.
Rating: 3 out of 5
I received a review copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
In Red at Night, Stella and Jonah are total opposites. She’s the girl with purple hair from the wrong part of town. He’s a high school senior who hangs with the cool crowd. Until a car accident leaves him haunted by guilt, and Jonah starts spending time at Stella’s favorite refuge the local cemetery.
Stella knows she should keep her distance—after all, she spent her girlhood being bullied by Jonah’s friends. Once he’s sorted out his tangled emotions, Jonah won’t have time for her anymore. Too bad she’s already fallen for him .
After reading and thinking Pushing the Limits was kind of stereotypical in a way, with two damaged characters finding love together, I thought I’d give Red at Night a try on the bus home from work. People really rave about Katie McGarry’s books and I am still discovering why.
Red at Night was written incredibly beautifully, and I was impressed with how Stella and Jonah could meet, develop a friendship and then fall in love in over 82 pages without that feeling of insta love. While things did progress rather quickly due to this being a short novella, Katie McGarry proves that creating a build up to the actual relationship without resorting to insta-love isn’t an impossible task.
I am beginning to think her books aren’t for me though, because yet again two damaged characters have found a kinship in one another and they fall in love. There seems to be a lot of drama and pent up emotions with the characters, due to Jonah witnessing someone die and Stella being bullied by him and his friend. While there’s a certain realism and beauty in the writing, I don’t really like the message behind the relationship. As with Pushing the Limits, I felt like love was promoted over friendship and strength in oneself, and it certainly happens again here as Jonah throws away his friendship with Cooper over Stella. Even though Cooper is portrayed as the rotten Player, you just don’t do that to your friends over someone you just met.
Perhaps it’s realistic though, as humans rely on each other to lift themselves up with their partners and support networks being there for them. I kind of wish this was portrayed through family and friendship as well as love though, especially new relationships. From what I’ve read, these characters tend to be stereotypically on the wrong side of the tracks, and seem to not have anyone else except for each other.
Red at Night is a beautiful novella that I enjoyed in its short length. In just a few pages, Katie McGarry manages to convey a depth of emotion and feeling between two troubled characters who find solace in each other. While I thoroughly enjoyed the wonderful writing, the concept of these damaged characters being together above all else wasn’t really my thing. It’s a free novella with a lot of substance though, so I think everyone could pick them up to see if you enjoy Katie McGarry’s stories.
Rating: 3 out of 5
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